How Music Works

An amazing series of videos from BBC 4 grouped together by Maria Popova  at Brain Pickings >>>.

I could hardly imagine life without music, it would be flat, lifeless almost. But how well do we understand music, why it does what it does and the other way around.

How well do we understand its emotional hold on our brains?How Music Works, a fascinating program from BBC4 (the same folks who brought us The End of God?: A Horizon Guide to Science and Religion), explores just that.

Composer Howard Goodall takes us on a journey into music’s underbelly, examining the four basic elements that make it work: Melody, rhythm, harmony and bass.

Go check it out here >>> sit back and relax, and learn more about music in this fantastic series of videos.

What are you going to have for diner: Eating to Starve Cancer

When reading through my emails I came across a link to this TED talk by William Li of the Angiogenesis foundation.

In short and as describe on the website:

Angiogenesis, the growth of new capillary blood vessels in the body, is an important natural process in the body used for healing and reproduction. The body controls angiogenesis by producing a precise balance of growth and inhibitory factors in healthy tissues.When this balance is disturbed, the result is either too much or too little angiogenesis. Abnormal blood vessel growth, either excessive or insufficient, is now recognized as a “common denominator” underlying many deadly and debilitating conditions, including cancer, skin diseases, age-related blindness, diabetic ulcers, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and many others. The list of diseases that have angiogenesis as an underlying mechanism grows longer every year.

From the talk it further transpires that besides angiogenesis based medicine, our diet may well be an important factor in the prevention of many life threatening diseases.

Furthermore a list of products was identified on the TED blog of antiangiogenic products. Now have a look and don’t you agree that this makes a good list of tasty meal ingredients?

With this in mind? What are you going to have for diner tonight. I for one will stop complaining about the excessive use of tomato sauce of my boys and will add a little extra garlic to whatever’s for diner tonight.

M0re information can be found on the site of the Angiogenesis Foundation here >>>


Science Media Centre » Blog Archive » Climate scientist on recommended IPCC overhaul

Last month in New York, an independent report was released which recommended a major overhaul of procedures and management of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

IPCC-reviewThe report, undertaken by a 12 person team from the InterAcademy Council which represents the world’s major science academies, outlines some sweeping changes, such as the installation of an executive committee for the panel to give it stronger leadership, a “rigorous conflict of interest policy” for that leadership and more rigorous review processes to deal with “grey literature” – material from non peer-reviewed sources.

The report can be downloaded here. Videos of the press conferences held to launch the IAC report are available here.

“The key points in this report are that governments should now reform the IPCC management structure and that assessment of the science does need to meet very high standards because climate change has major implications.”

Read the rest via Science Media Centre » Blog Archive » Climate scientist on recommended IPCC overhaul.


Given the recent incidents I think this is a report to be taken serious. What a cool site

I stumbled upon this site and wow what a great bunch of articles in a wide variety of scientific subjects. For those that want to keep up with what’s happening in scientific New Zealand this is a definite recommended site. It has an impressive team of bloggers maintaining a blog on a wide variety of subjects.

Sciblogs claims to bring(New Zealand) on one website, creating a hub for scientific analysis and discussion and facilitating reader interaction.

The website is for scientists who want to reach out to a general audience to explain their science and how it relates to society. Some Sciblog contributors spend most of their time in the lab or buried in research. Others are authors or entrepreneurs. All of them know what they are talking about and have an interest in engaging in discussion on the big science-related issues facing society.

You can easily keep an eye on new Sciblogs posts by subscribing via RSS or email or by following our Twitter feed.  Alternatively, there is a Facebook page as well as a Facebook group.

Sciblogs is edited and managed by Peter Griffin, manager of the Science Media Centre and former Technology Editor of the New Zealand Herald.

Sciblogs is an initiative of the Science Media Centre, an independent source of expert comment and information for journalists covering science and technology in New Zealand.

Its aim is to promote accurate, bias-free reporting on science and technology by helping the media work more closely with the scientific community.

The Science Media Centre was set up in June 2008 by the Royal Society of New Zealand with funding from the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology.

Go check it out at

Did Morton Smith Forge ‘Secret Mark’? A Handwriting Expert Weighs In – Biblical Archaeology Review

secret mark doc

Did Columbia University professor Morton Smith forge the famous Clement letter containing two passages from a secret and different copy of the Gospel of Mark?

A number of scholars have concluded, on inadequate grounds in our view, that Smith was a forger.

In a four-part treatment, including contributions by eminent New Testament scholars Helmut Koester and Charles Hedrick, BAR concluded that Smith, now dead, was innocent.*

Oddly enough, despite the scores of articles and books that have been written on the subject, no one has bothered to consult a handwriting expert in the language in which the alleged forged letter is written: Greek.

BAR has now done so.

Venetia Anastasopoulou is a prominent handwriting expert living in Athens who has frequently testified in Greek courts.

Read the full article and download the report of Venetia Anastaspoulou at Did Morton Smith Forge ‘Secret Mark’? A Handwriting Expert Weighs In – Biblical Archaeology Review.

As a bit of background:

In 1973, when Morton Smith presented to the world the Clement letter and an unknown “secret” gospel of Mark, was he revealing an amazing Biblical manuscript discovery or attempting a risky scholarly stunt? With the help of the experts, our four-part treatment sets the scene of the find at Mar Saba monastery in the Judean Desert (“Secret Mark”: An Amazing Discovery)<!– (p. 44)–>, presents the case for forgery (“Secret Mark”: Morton Smith—Forger)<!– (p. 49)–>, examines the textual tradition that could indicate authenticity (“Secret Mark”: Was Morton Smith a Great Thespian and I a Complete Fool?)<!– (p. 54)–> and offers BAR’s unique editorial assessment to sum up the evidence (“Secret Mark”: Restoring a Dead Scholar’s Reputation.)

Source: BAR

Quote of the Day: Ken Robinson on Creativity and how Schools Kill Creativity

“… kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. Am I right? They’re not frightened of being wrong. Now, I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this, by the way. We stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. Picasso once said this. He said that all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. I believe this passionately, that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it . Or rather, we get educated out if it. So why is this?

I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the waythat we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children. There was a wonderful quote by Jonas Salk, who said, “If all the insects were to disappear from the earth, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.” And he’s right.

What TED celebrates is the gift of the human imagination. We have to be careful now that we use this gift wisely, and that we avert some of the scenarios scenarios that we’ve talked about. And the only way we’ll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are, and seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future.

As a parent  concerned about his children, and more importantly the direction education systems throughout the western world are seemingly heading, the TED talk these quotes were taken from really spoke to me.

The Jesus We’ll Never Know: Scot McKnight

In the times prior to my conversion I read a lot of material about the historical Jesus, by the way with great interest but something was not quite alright.

McKnight, author of the article quoted below and one of the historical Jesus researchers himself makes the comment:

Furthermore, these scholars by and large believe in the Jesus they reconstruct. During what’s called the “first quest” for the historical Jesus, in the early 20th century, Albert Schweitzer understood Jesus as an apocalyptic Jesus. In the latest quest, Sanders’s Jesus is an eschatological prophet; Crossan’s Jesus is a Mediterranean peasant cynic full of wit and critical of the Establishment; Borg’s Jesus is a mystical genius; Wright’s Jesus is an end-of-the-exile messianic prophet who believed he was God returning to Zion. We could go on, but we have made our point: Historical Jesus scholars reconstruct what Jesus was really like and orient their faith around that reconstruction.

The comment very much resounds my own sentiments when reading these studies: could it maybe be that we are creating out own desired reality. If, as we may suppose, historical research departs from the same methodologies, should the outcomes not be more alike? Yet very similar to the students mentioned in the first lines of this article, it appears that the historical methods lead to similar results: a Jesus construct that is potentially more who we want him to be or a Jesus construct that is in our own likeness.

In his closing paragraph McKnight comes to the same conclusions I had to admit to myself prior to conversion: at some point methods run out of steam and energy. And where McKnight makes this point for historical research, I think it is not that dissimilar for other disciplines as well. Simply put perhaps we should start to be more open about the limitations of our methods and about what exactly it is they can and cannot prove. Most of all about our own potential biases prior to any research as they may influence our findings or lead us to conclusions that are no longer carried by our findings.
No matter how I look at it: science an the human sciences included are all involved in telling us about the supernatural from a position of limitation to the natural and natural explanations. So, let’s try to be honest about this limitation, which in my view is exactly the strength of science and leave the rest to our own non-scholarly experience and doctrinal understandings, as an individual and a church as well as a community of researchers.

On a personal basis: it seems to be that the best way to get to know Jesus, God, has proven to be the opening up for a relationship again.  Of course that goes outside any methodological realm but at the same time science can at no time go where the Holy Spirit may take us, whether that is measurable or not, it seems to me that that’s the most secure way to fill up the blanks.

Who needs faith when science and history could ‘prove’  it all. At the same time I acknowledge that it is exactly science and  historical method that provided me the (rational) basis I needed for my faith.


The Jesus We’ll Never Know

Why scholarly attempts to discover the ‘real’ Jesus have failed. And why that’s a good thing.

On the opening day of my class on Jesus of Nazareth, I give a standardized psychological test divided into two parts. The results are nothing short of astounding.The first part is about Jesus. It asks students to imagine Jesus’ personality, with questions such as, “Does he prefer to go his own way rather than act by the rules?” and “Is he a worrier?” The second part asks the same questions of the students, but instead of “Is he a worrier?” it asks, “Are you a worrier?” The test is not about right or wrong answers, nor is it designed to help students understand Jesus. Instead, if given to enough people, the test will reveal that we all think Jesus is like us. Introverts think Jesus is introverted, for example, and, on the basis of the same questions, extroverts think Jesus is extroverted.Spiritual formation experts would love to hear that students in my Jesus class are becoming like Jesus, but the test actually reveals the reverse: Students are fashioning Jesus to be more like themselves. If the test were given to a random sample of adults, the results would be measurably similar. To one degree or another, we all conform Jesus to our own image.Since we are pushing this point, let’s not forget historical Jesus scholars, whose academic goal is to study the records, set the evidence in historical context, render judgment about the value of the evidence, and compose a portrait of “what Jesus was really like.” They, too, have ended up making Jesus in their own image.

Read the rest of this very commendable article at The Jesus We’ll Never Know | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.