30 March, 2017

2017-18 ENSO Watch: Pacific, Indian Ocean SST Anomalies Greatly Resemble 1877


In case anyone hasn't already noticed, yes, California has gotten plenty of help this past winter as far as drought relief is concerned. OC, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties have gone from exceptional drought down to moderate drought during the 2016-17 water year, and in the rest of the state, there is nothing left of the drought at all. However, we are still not completely out of it. That said, if the oceans are any indication, we may well be.

While the flooding rains in California have just about ended for the 2016-17 water year, the same cannot be said about the devastating floods in Peru. What has been forming in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific is a south-based (warm south, cold north) SST dipole, which has allowed the ITCZ to intensify far to the south of its normal position — about 10 degrees south of the equator in the Eastern Pacific in particular, and the result has been an Atlantic that is more or less stuck in winter mode even as we enter spring. The result, in turn, has resulted in strong northerly winds off Peru that have kept the coastal region warm, and, as a result, have kept the air wet. Moreover, strong negative WPO has supercooled the western Pacific, and, to boot, the extreme northeastern Pacific, despite having cooled considerably in March, is now warming up again very rapidly.

In addition, there has been a lot of cooling of the eastern Indian Ocean, and of the West Australian Current in particular, that has been more or less coupled with a warming of the southwestern Indian Ocean between Madagascar and South Africa. This is a precursor to a positive Indian Ocean Dipole, which is capable of helping a developing El Niño event out. Also, a cold Baja California anomaly is coupled with a warm anomaly further north — a high-over-low dipole that favors a Southern Hemisphere Booster response.

Sea surface temperature anomalies at 12:00 UTC on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Note strong positive IOD trying to form, along with rapidly cooling tropical Atlantic.

A similar map, but this time a monthly average of the sea surface temperature anomalies from March 1877. Note the presence of the SW Pacific (near NZ) warm blob, not to mention the same SE Indian Ocean cold pool and the same anomalously cold NW Pacific. This is almost identical to the current situation.

What followed the 1877 precursor was something for the record books to say the least: an El Niño event so powerful that 1997-98 and even, if Modoki events are counted, 2015-16 were put to shame by it. Are we in for a repeat? It remains to be seen, but the odds are indeed high.

24 March, 2017

Debunking the "One God Further" Argument

One of the major problems with atheist logic that I encounter when debating online is that they often place the God of the Bible in the same category as pagan deities. In order to debunk this notion that they are in the same category, one needs to look no further than the Bible's first verse. Whereas pagan gods are seen by their worshippers as creating Earth while residing in the heavens (and thus are indistinguishable from what sci-fi enthusiasts today would call aliens), the God of the Bible is depicted as having created *both* the heavens *and* the earth, and is therefore not only outside Earth but also outside the universe.

Fast forward thousands of years to today, and science now confirms that there was a time when not just matter but also space and, as Augustine asserted in the earliest days of Christianity, time itself did not exist. There was no space, there was no matter, there was no nature, and there was no time. In order to cause space, the "unmoved mover" as Aristotle alluded to must be non-spatial. In order to cause time, that same entity must be eternal. In order to cause matter, this entity must be immaterial. In order to cause nature — which depends on matter existing in order to exist — this deity must be supernatural. The first three of these attributes —  non-spatial, eternal, and immaterial — do not apply to any pagan deity, since all pagan cultures worshipped beings that they claimed created Earth but live within the universe; however, these same attributes are definitely applicable to the God of the Bible.

In addition to the above, the universe is also permeated with over 200 measurements of how it operates, all of which must be infinitesimally precise even to allow the universe to exist at all, let alone to support life. For example, if the expansion rate of the universe were either increased or decreased by one part in 10 to the 15th power, then either A, the "Big Crunch" would already have happened, or B, galaxies would never have developed. If the gravitational constant, likewise, were changed by a similarly miniscule amount, then either A, gravity would be too weak to allow matter to coalesce at all, or B, the only existent objects in the entire universe would be black holes. In order for the universe to have been fine-tuned this precisely from the very beginning, the cause of space, time, matter, and the universe must also have been intelligent, and, since you cannot have intelligence without personality, personal as well.

Appeals to the above natural laws as causes for the universe are futile given that they did not exist before the universe existed. How Stephen Hawking, for example, cops out of this is by circular reasoning: he appeals to the law of gravity as an alleged explanation for the universe creating itself from nothing. Gravity by Einsteinian definition is the force that a massive object exerts on space-time. When there was no matter, space, or time, there was no mass, which depends on the existence of matter, or space-time, which depends on the existence of space and tine. See the problem here? Space, time, and matter are the three essential ingredients that must exist in order for gravity to even be logically, let alone physically, possible. It's ironic that people as intelligent as Hawking begin to look like total fools whenever this problem is presented to them.

There's only one entity that fits all of the criteria unpacked in Paragraphs 2 and 3 — non-spatial, eternal, immaterial, supernatural, intelligent, and personal — out of all the countless entities out there that people have faith in, and it's the God of the Bible. The Bible is the only religious text in existence, bar none, that teaches that God created *both* Earth and the universe. It is also the only religious text in existence that portrays its monotheistic entity as highly intelligent and gives the notion that He can make very good arguments to prove that, and Jesus, whom we Christians believe to literally be God Himself turned into man, is definitely portrayed in the Gospels as far smarter than anyone who has ever tried to argue with Him. In addition, Genesis 1 is the only religious text out there that contains a sequence of events that is even remotely consistent with the sequence of events that the cosmological and geological records show. Finally, we see in the Bible (Exodus 3:14) that this deity literally calls Himself "I Am". If there is any name that is perfectly fitting for the self-existent eternal "unmoved mover", it's that one.

16 March, 2017

Secular Attacks on Miracles are Circular Reasoning

WARNING: The following are paragraphs, not individual sentences or phrases. Failure to also quote the rest of a paragraph when quoting a single sentence or phrase out of it is quote mining.

In September 2016, I posted (and subsequently edited) a list of fallacies committed by the mainstream media as they attempt to silence both Christians and conservatives. One of them (namely, number 10 on the list) is circular reasoning. Yes, there are indeed Christians who commit this fallacy, but there are atheists who commit it as well. How? By jumping to the conclusion that any piece of text containing miracles must automatically be regarded as a fairy tale.

Around the same time that now-infamous September blog post was posted, I also attended Stand to Reason's reTHINK 2016 conference at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. My good friend, mentor, and world-renowned cold case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace made this point very clear at this conference, and I happen to possess video footage, which I posted to Instagram from the conference, of his refutation of this argument. Keep in mind, this was Detective Wallace's own objection when he was still an atheist. When he went on to apply the same methods that he used in his detective work to the Bible, it was this objection that was his last hurdle. How therefore did Wallace go from atheist to Christian? He learned to think outside the box.

That there is the problem with this objection in a nutshell: It is the box! Naturalism, like scientism ("is that provable using the scientific method?"), relativism ("is that relative?"), truth denial ("is that true?"), and others like it, is self-refuting. How? Because space, matter, and time all had beginnings seemingly out of nowhere. Because when applied to the New Testament, the judicial standard links Irenaeus, who we know has plenty of contemporary writings, only two generations back to the Gospel writers themselves. Because chronology and archaeology, if properly interpreted, do a profound job of verifying the Old Testament. Because the historical-legal evidence supporting the New Testament, when compared to that supporting all other ancient documents, is overwhelming. Atheists have to jump over all this in order to justify their claims, and nearly all of their refutations when presented with this stuff are nothing more than cop-outs.

To be fair, the same is indeed true for the Christian side, but my fellow Christians (and some agnostics, you might argue) are at least open to the idea of this stuff being supportive of Biblical veracity. Atheists will claim that a negative can't be proven, but at the same time also claim that they don't want to believe any belief system that can't be proven. This is a contradiction, because atheism is a negative. If you can't prove a negative, then why do you blindly regurgitate the negative that there is no God? Why do you blindly assert the negative that the supernatural does not exist? Merely denying these without asserting the negatives is called agnosticism; atheism is when you assert the negative in addition to denying the positive. If it can't be proven, then by your own definition you shouldn't believe it.

This is what it comes down to: naturalism is circular reasoning, period. Instead of even opening their mind up to the possibility of something outside the universe — which is itself created because it is proven by science to not be eternal — existing, they simply dismiss all evidence presented to them and move the goalposts — a fallacy in itself — based on the blindly asserted notion that anything supernatural isn't reasonable. Because this notion is circular reasoning, it's therefore a plank in the eye (Matthew 7:3-5) of any atheist who judges a Christian for circular reasoning. You say I'm closed-minded? Anyone who uses circular reasoning is closed minded regardless of his or her belief system.