Saturday, February 28, 2009

9 Must Have Apps for the iPhone

Google – Aside from the search feature, the Google app has its own apps built in, namely Gmail, calendar, Talk (Gmail chat), Photos (Picasaweb), etc. Pretty much everything you can do on Google via a pc or mac you can do on the iphone. It’s saved me more than once, and it helps me to keep up with my pictures on Picasa.

Mobile Banking on AT&T – This has been a wonderful app because it allows me to keep track of all of my accounts without the hassle of having to log in to the bank’s actual website. One of the better banking apps I’ve found, it does require a pin each time you log in (for added security) and has been dead on accurate with my bank’s online updating of account info, purchases, and so on. I would also recommend’s new app for those who like Mint’s built-in budgeting feature.

Shazam – Most iphone users (and non-iphone users for that matter!) know about Shazam, namely because it can tell you the name and artist of any song you play for it. There are a few restrictions, though. For one, I’ve read that Shazam is only able to detect English songs, whatever that means. I’ve given it a try with some of my Italian pop music, to no avail (Ma dai!) Shazam is also limited in that it cannot detect live music, though it has on several occasions been able to read live classical music for me. Regardless of the limitations, this is one of the better apps I’ve come across. Now whenever that song I’ve always liked but never knew the name of comes on the radio, I can pull out Shazam and finally know!

Slydial – This gem of an app is the one I’m most proud of. Why? Say you need to call someone back, but you know they’ll talk your ear off and you simply don’t have the time, or perhaps you have only a quick second to let your friend know the answer to a question they’ve been bugging you about all week. This app takes care of it for you. When you open Slydial it will prompt you to choose a contact from your phonebook or to dial a number. Take your pick and let Slydial do the rest. The number will be called, but will be preceded by a series of numbers inserted by Slydial. What this does is take you directly to the voicemail of the cell phone user you just called. I hate to admit it, but I have used Slydial a couple of times, and both times were to give answers to people that I didn’t have time to talk to otherwise. Needless to say, it was not anyone I speak with regularly or would see this blog.

Public Radio Tuner – For the regular NPR listener, the Public Radio Tuner (by American Public Media) is your link to your favorite public radio stations when you’re not otherwise able to listen. Admittedly, Public Radio does not have my local 90.7 fm WXEL station yet, but as long as I can hear Car talk and Fresh Air I don’t really mind.

Balls – Designed by iotic, this is an interesting app I found only in the last couple of weeks. Balls that can vary in size fall and bounce off of each other creating sounds that imitate wind chimes while their colors change each time they hit another ball. Settings include volume, ball size, gravity, friction, bounce, balls (number of), and trails (left behind by bouncing balls). I like to set mine up with the lowest number of balls (3) and just let them bounce around, creating very calming ambient noise.

AroundMe – Granted, I’ve only had this for a day, but this cool app by Tweakersoft is one of the best. Once it has your location, you can find nearly anything that is around you. Not sure where to find gas, hospitals, theaters, restaurants, bars, hotels, banks and more? Now you do. Get it. It’s free.

The Weather Channel – The built-in iphone weather app is good, but The Weather Channel app gives you hourly updates and a 10 day forecast, as well as any weather alerts. It’s definitely worth getting.

Pandora – For those who don’t necessarily have a specific library of music, and even those who do, Pandora will be a necessity on your iphone. Simply type in the name of a song or artist you like and Pandora creates a playlist of songs around that search. Pandora is your free personalized radio.

There are plenty more apps that are just as awesome, but these nine did it for me, not only because they're useful and fun, but because they are all free.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dawkins' Delusion

I’ve been meaning to pick up Richard Dawkins’ infamous book, The God Delusion, for quite some time; I just haven’t had the chance. Now, more than ever, I think I will pick it up. Just a couple of days ago a friend of mine, Jonathan, wrote a blog titled Conceding Dawkins. In that blog, Jonathan posted several quotes by Richard Dawkins that gave me a bit of insight into what Dawkins thinks of faith. Furthermore, Dawkins was quoted as saying that the more you understand the significance of evolution, the more you are pushed towards atheism. Additionally, Dawkins is also quoted as saying that "even mild and moderate religion helps to provide the climate of faith in which extremism naturally flourishes."

Now, I’ve always been a believer in religious freedom, in people having the right to believe what they believe without fear of repercussion. That said, I absolutely cannot stand it when non-theists (and theists, for that matter) say things regarding belief in God that are incredibly false. As I’m sure you can guess, Dawkins has done this, and I intend to point it out.

First up is a quote by Mr. Dawkins wherein he claims a case for ones beliefs does not have to be made:

“Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don't have to make the case for what you believe.”

While it is indeed virtuous to have faith without evidence, belief in God and Jesus Christ is not dependent upon it. It is actually demanded that we test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21). As for making a case for what we believe, this too is a staple of the Christian faith. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to defend our beliefs and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says we are to cast down arguments. Mr. Dawkins’ assertions on this topic are in fact unfounded.

Next, Mr. Dawkins asserts that an understanding of evolution would naturally push one towards an atheist view. What I find hard to believe is that such a reasonable scholar of science would come to such a conclusion. The truth is, evolution (and science, in general) is neither theistic nor atheistic. And neither is there definitive proof through evolution that would push one towards atheism. The evidence simply does not exist. Mr. Dawkins, being the good scientist, has failed to check his metaphysical baggage at the door. And the truth is that none of us properly check our metaphysical beliefs at the door. We all carry with us something that prevents us from totally unbiased and rational decisions, whether it is metaphysical assumptions, experiences, or something else. What this means is that the purveyor of rationale and logic is himself, like he claims theists to be, somewhat deluded.

And finally, "even mild and moderate religion helps to provide the climate of faith in which extremism naturally flourishes." If religious wars rage because varying faiths believe each other to have caused some wrong to occur, then how are Dawkins and the new atheists any different? Don't they "wage war" on Christianity (mostly) because they feel we've done some wrong in the world? Don't they believe Christianity to be nothing more than a delusion? Aren't their atheist beliefs lacking in true reason and logic, as they so adamantly claim ours are? The only difference between them and other extremists is that they don't brandish weapons and actively hunt down theists. But then again, there is always a time before fanaticism occurs.

I am by no means implying that atheism will evolve to an extremist position like those of terrorists. But the issue isn't about what I believe can happen, but what Dawkins believes can happen. And if he believes that the moderately religious can eventually evolve into fanatics, then surely it follows likewise for the moderately irreligious. We are all subject to our own bodily desires and emotions, previous experiences and metaphysical assumptions. These things help shape us and bring us to our ultimate positions and stances. The irreligious are no different.

It is through these emotions, experiences, and metaphysical assumptions that Mr. Dawkins comes to the conclusions he does (as seen within this blog). Mr. Dawkins has fallen prey to false reasoning. And by the false reasoning that leads Mr. Dawkins to atheism, he may himself become susceptible to that which he fears can/does eventually happen to religious moderates.

This is not limited to Mr. Dawkins. Any and all who claim a logical and rational position and bring to the table their emotions, experiences, and metaphysical assumptions are all guilty of false reasoning.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Action Needed!

Two-Minute Action Needed Today: Click this link: to send a quick e-mail to these Senators to let them know we're paying attention to their votes and are disappointed they voted to support the Coburn amendment.

We want to know why our Senators voted for this damaging amendment -- see below for details.

The U.S. Senate approved an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that prohibits funding for "...museums, theaters and arts centers..." This amendment was approved by a vote of 73-24.

Copy and paste the link below to review all the votes on this amendment:

Please take a couple of minutes to send an e-mail by clicking the link at the top of this e-mail. Our national partner Americans for the Arts has made it easy for you to communicate your disappointment and ask why.

Thank you for your continued advocacy efforts.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Anselm on the Atonement

Anselm (1033-1109); from Cur deus homo?

Book I
xi. The problem is, how can God forgive man's sin? To clear our thoughts let us first consider what sin is, and what satisfaction for sin is. ...To sin is to fail to God His due. What is due to God? Righteousness, or rectitude of will. He who fails to render this honour to God, robs God of that which belongs to Him, and dishonours God. This is sin. ...And what is satisfaction? It is not enough simply to restore what has been taken away; but, in consideration of the insult offered, more than what was taken away must be rendered back.
xii. Let us consider whether God could properly remit sin by mercy alone without satisfaction. So to remit sin would be simply to abstain from punishing it. And since the only possible way of correcting sin, for which no satisfaction has been made, is to punish it; not to punish it, is to remit is uncorrected. But God cannot properly leave anything uncorrected in His kingdom. Moreover, so to remit sin unpunished, would be treating the sinful and the sinless alike, which would be incongruous to God's nature. And incongruity is injustice.
xiii. It is necessary, therefore, that either the honour taken away should be repaid, or punishment shouyld be inflicted. Otherwise onenof two things follows--either God is not just to Himself, or He is powerless to do what He ought to do. A blasphemous supposition.
xx. The satisfaction ought to be in proportion to the sin...
xxi. And thou has not yet duly estimated the gravity of sin. Suppose that thou wast standing in God's presence, and some one said to thee--'Look yonder.' And God said, 'I am altogether unwilling that thou shouldest look.' Ask thyself whether there be aught in the whole universe for the sake of which thoug oughtest to indulge that one look against the will of God. Not to preserve the whole creation from perishing oughtest thou to act against the will of God. And shouldest thou so act, what canst thou pay for this sin? Thou canst not make satisfaction for it, unless thou payest something greater than the whole creation. All that is created, that is, all that is not God, cannot compensate the sin.

Book II
iv. It is necessary that God should fulfill His purpose respecting human nature. And this cannot be except there be a complete satisfaction made for sin; and this no sinner can make.
vi. Satisfaction cannot be made unless there be some One able to pay to God for man's sin something greater than all that is beside God. ...Now nothing is greater than all that is not God, except God Himself. None therefore can make this satisfaction except God. And none ought to make it except man. ...If, then, it be necessary that the kingdom of heaven be completed by man's admission, and if man cannot be admitted unless the aforesaid satisfaction for sin be first made, and if God only can, and man only ought to make this satisfaction, then necessarily One must make it who is both God and man.
xi. He must have something to offer greater than all that is beow God, and something that He can give to God voluntarily, and not as in duty bound. Mere obedience would not be a gift of this kind; for every rational creature owes this obedience as a duty to God. But death Christ was in no way bound to suffer, having never sinned. SO death was an offering that He could make as of free will, and not of debt. ...
xix.Now One who could freely offer so great a gift to God, clearly ough not to be without reward. ...But what reward could be given to One who needed nothing--One who craved neither gift nor pardon? ...If the Son chose to make over the claim He had on God to man, could the Father justly forbid Him doing so, or refuse to man what the Son willed to give him?
xx.What greater mercy can be conceived than that God the Father should say to the sinner--condemned to eternal torment, and unable to redeem himself--'Receive my only Son, and offer Him for thyself,' while the Son Himself said--'Take me, and redeem thyself'?
And what greater justice than that One who receives a payment for exceeding the amuont due, should, if it be paid with a right intention, remit all that is due?