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January 3, 2018

Marijuana legislation will not achieve its objectives
and should be defeated by the Senate

It’s difficult to remember the last time the federal government and the provinces came to an agreement on revenue sharing in a single day. But that’s what happened in December when the feds agreed to give the provinces 75 per cent of tax revenue generated by the sale of marijuana.

Initially, the Trudeau government was going to share only 50 per cent of the tax proceeds with the provinces. But when the provinces protested – noting that they will carry the brunt of the costs associated with legalization – Finance Minister Bill Morneau backed down. Like mob bosses divvying up the spoils, everyone went away happy that they were going to get their “fair share” of the latest heist.

The ease and enthusiasm with which the deal was closed reeks of self-interest. Mesmerized by the lure of tax dollars dangled by the federal government, the provinces took the bait and bit hard. Rather than challenging the government’s legalization agenda with the hard questions, they acquiesced without a whimper, thereby selling out the future well-being of our young people.

Perhaps they believed Prime Minister Trudeau’s talking points on marijuana legalization:[1] We need to legalize marijuana in order to keep it out of the hands of children, protect the health of users, and remove the criminal element from the business. Who would not support those outcomes? The problem is, legalization will achieve none of them. In actual fact, it will do the opposite.

Consider the experience of Colorado: Prior to the legalization of marijuana, youth usage had been in a four-year decline.[2] After legalization, this decline abruptly stopped and marijuana usage by youth began to rise. Colorado now leads the U.S. in marijuana usage amongst 12 – 17-year-olds.[3]

And it’s not just Colorado. Youth usage of marijuana in U.S. states that have legalized marijuana surpasses usage in those that have not legalized.[4]

If this seems odd or merely coincidental, it is neither. Researchers at the University of Michigan noted that, “Perceived risk for marijuana has fallen substantially in recent years as the recent string of states that have legalized recreational marijuana use have led some youth to believe the drug is safe and state-sanctioned.”[5] In other words, legalization creates normalization which decreases the perception of risk and results in increased usage.

So what about Trudeau’s claim that legalizing marijuana will shut down the black market and remove the criminal element? It’s an attractive proposition, but there’s only one problem – the police disagree, the experts disagree and the experience disagrees.

When Joanne Crampton, RCMP assistant commissioner of federal policing criminal operations addressed the House Health Committee studying Bill C-45, she said, “There are a number of issues that will need to be addressed to fight organized crime, including the possibility that the black market could undercut legal marijuana sales.”[6] As for the odds of eliminating the black market through legalization, she said it would be “naïve to think that that could happen.”[7]

Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, told the same House Committee that it is delusional to believe that legalizing marijuana will remove the criminal element.[8][9]The black market has not gone away in Colorado, Oregon or Washington State, which have all legalized the recreational use of marijuana. In many cases, criminal activity has increased. [10] [11] [12] [13]

The government’s suggestion that they can protect public health by legalizing marijuana is also seriously misguided. There is no such thing as a safe supply of marijuana for youth. In the words of Dr. Amy Porath, Director, Research and Policy at the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, “There should be no cannabis use below the age of 25 if you want to protect brain development.”[14]

Trudeau tells us that by regulating growing conditions, chemical usage, mould, and THC content, the government will be able to ensure users have a safe, secure supply of marijuana. This is nonsense. The decision to allow homegrown marijuana defeats these efforts. When it comes to home grow operations, it doesn’t matter what your regulations are-the government will never know if they are being followed or not.

The negative health impacts of legalization don’t stop there. You have the problems of second-hand smoke,[15] exposure to children,[16] impaired driving,[17] [18] and the fact that smoking marijuana is far more harmful to your health than smoking cigarettes.[19] [20] All of these issues will be exacerbated by legalization due to the increased usage which inevitably follows. Instead of diminishing health impacts, legalization will be increasing them.

Determining who gets to keep the tax revenue from marijuana sales is like deciding who gets to keep the tolls collected on the road to tragedy. Bill C-45 is horrible legislation which will not achieve its objectives and should never see the light of day. The Senate will do its job and thoroughly study the Bill, but Canadians will be well-served if it is defeated.

– Betty Unger, Alberta Senator

Originally published in The Hill Times, December 20, 2017

Footnotes:

[1] http://www.parl.ca/Content/Bills/421/Government/C-45/C-45_3/C-45_3.PDF (See Bill summary)
[2] “Lessons Learned After 4 Years of Marijuana Legalization.” Smart Approaches to Marijuana. October 2016. Page 7. https://bettyunger.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/SAM-report-on-CO-and-WA-issued-31-Oct-2016.pdf
[3] “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact.” Vol. 5/October 2017. Page 33.  https://bettyunger.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/FINAL-2017-Legalization-of-Marijuana-in-Colorado-The-Impact.pdf
[4] “Lessons Learned After 4 Years of Marijuana Legalization.” Smart Approaches to Marijuana. October 2016. Page 5. https://bettyunger.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/SAM-report-on-CO-and-WA-issued-31-Oct-2016.pdf
[5] Monitoring the Future: National Survey on Drug Use 1975 – 2016.” Page 33. http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-vol1_2016.pdf
[6]/a> http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/legalizing-marijuana-wont-shut-down-black-market-rcmp-official
[7]http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/HESA/meeting-64/evidence#Int-9638182
[8] http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/HESA/meeting-65/evidence#Int-9640803
[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-vZCsdlGUc#t=5m49s
[10] “A Baseline Evaluation of Cannabis Enforcement Priorities in Oregon.” January 2017. Page 5. http://media.oregonlive.com/today/other/cannabis_enforcement_oregon%202.pdf
[11] https://www.denverpost.com/2017/06/28/massive-marijuana-bust-dismantles-illegal-trafficking-ring-denver/
[12] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10935-017-0472-9
[13] https://www.denverpost.com/2017/07/11/colorado-sees-big-increase-crime-10-percent-higher-murder-rate/
[14] Quotation from oral comments given during presentation to Senators on December 13, 2017 in Ottawa,  “Understanding Youth Perceptions on Cannabis”.
[15] See http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/second-hand-toke-could-make-you-fail-a-workplace-drug-test-calgary-study-finds and https://bettyunger.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Second-hand-mj-smoke-3-times-as-dangerous-Springer-UCSF-2016-J-Am-Heart-Assoc.pdf
[16] http://torontosun.com/2017/05/08/marijuana-related-er-visits-among-kids-quadruples-at-colorado-hospital-study/wcm/dad82cc5-5b6f-4b7e-8352-8302cdf20ebe
[17] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/does-marijuana-use-affect-driving
[18] “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact.” Vol. 5/October 2017. Page 13.  https://bettyunger.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/FINAL-2017-Legalization-of-Marijuana-in-Colorado-The-Impact.pdf
[19] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080123104017.htm
[20] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071217110328.htm
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“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.  

Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision.  Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”    

I will tell of the decree of the Lord:  He said to me,  “You are my son, today I have begotten you.  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”  

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.  Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling kiss his feet, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”IMG_0591.jpg

 

EDITORIAL: They call this children’s ‘aid’?

Unknown-32
Foster parents Derek and Frances Baars do not believe in lying to children about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, which became a point of contention with the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of Hamilton. A CAS support worker felt the family was not doing their duty by refusing to teach their foster children about the Easter Bunny and considered it “part of Canadian culture.” (RYAN MCLEOD/POSTMEDIA NETWORK)

If we could have one Christmas wish granted, it would be to rid the world of officious, petty bureaucracy.

Like the one that apparently exists at the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society.

It yanked two little girls from a happy foster home, where they were being well cared for by Derek and Frances Baars.

Following their arrival in the Baars’ home in December, 2015, they celebrated Christmas with the two girls, then age three and four, including buying them presents.

Their birth mother sent them a note thanking them.

For Easter, they planned to hide chocolates and make it a fun day for the two sisters.

But at that point the Hamilton CAS yanked the bewildered children from the heartbroken Baars.

Why? Apparently because, as devout Christians, they said they wouldn’t lie to the girls by telling them the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are real.

The Baars said they made this clear when they applied to become foster parents and were accepted, with a glowing assessment.

Despite this, the CAS argued the Easter Bunny was an essential part of Canadian culture and that by denying the existence of Santa Claus, they risked destroying the “magic” of Christmas for the girls.

As reported by the Sun’s Michele Mandel Thursday, the Baars, who now live in Calgary, have taken the Hamilton CAS to Superior Court, alleging it violated their constitutional rights to freedom of religion and expression.

They fear the CAS’ action has blacklisted them from fostering or adopting children.

Judge Andrew Goodman, who got the CAS lawyer to acknowledge there was no emergency that necessitated the immediate removal of the bewildered children from the Baars’ home, reserved his decision in the case.

It’s up to him to decide whether the Baars’ constitutional rights were violated.

But this case also raises concerns about what can happen when good judgment and common sense are apparently tossed out the window by public agencies.

Surely it’s more important for children to know there are real adults in their lives who care about them, something mythical Christmas and Easter figures cannot do.

We agree with the Baars’ lawyer that the CAS appears to have waged an ideological war against the Baars over a “triviality”, and not in the best interests of the children.

Euler was a superb mathematician, and a Bible-believing Christian. This story is a bit long, but worth the read!                          https://creation.com/euler

Mathematical Genius and Bible-believing Christian

by 

Published: 14 December 2017 (GMT+10)
Leonhard-Euler
Leonhard Euler portrait by Jakob Handmann (1756)

Leonhard Euler (pronounced oi-la), (1707–1783) was not only one of the greatest mathematicians and theoretical physicists of all time, but he was also the most prolific.1 He contributed to almost every area of pure and applied mathematics—especially calculus, number theory, notation, optics, and celestial, rational and fluid mechanics.

By applying mathematics to physical problems, he made many practical advances in cartography, chronology, ship-building, bridge-building, and ballistics. These multiple achievements place him in the company of Archimedes, Newton, and Gauss. Eminent Swiss science historian Emil Fellmann says that Euler was “not only by far the most productive mathematician in all of human history, but also one of the greatest scholars of all time.”2

Early life and a talent for mathematics

Leonhard was born on 15 April 1707 in Basel, a city on the Rhine River, Switzerland, the first child of Paul and Margaretha Euler.3 Paul had studied mathematics and theology in acquiring a Master of Arts degree from the University of Basel, and he then became the pastor of an Evangelical-Reformed Church in Riehen (near Basel) which stressed “the Christian inner life of rebirth, brotherly love, and living belief”.4 These were convictions which Leonhard accepted for himself and from which he never wavered.5

Eulers-De-Sono
Euler’s Dissertation on the Physics of Sound (E2) for his ‘habilitation’ at the age of 20. Usually post-doctoral and based on independent research, this is a still-common European qualification needed to undertake self-contained university teaching and is an important step to a full professorship.

Young Leonhard was introduced to the elements of mathematics at home by his father. Then, after schooling at the Basel Gymnasium, in 1720 he enrolled at the University of Basel, where he studied theology, law, philosophy, Greek and Hebrew with a view to becoming a pastor. However, mathematics was taught there by Johann Bernoulli, a family friend, later one of the foremost mathematicians in Europe. He was so impressed with Leonhard’s exceptional talent and zeal for this subject that he not only gave him private Saturday-afternoon tutorials in mathematics, astronomy and physics,6 but also convinced Paul that his son was predestined for a career in mathematics rather than in theology.

Entering the Paris Prize competition

In 1727, Euler submitted a paper in Latin (E4)7 to the Paris Academy of Science’s annual Paris Prize competition, which was then the most distinguished scientific award in Europe.8 For even years, a prize of 2,500 livres was offered for the best treatise on a theory to do with astronomy, matter, mechanics, optics, or physics. For odd years, the prize was 2,000 livres for solving practical nautical problems such as determining longitude, improving navigation, or advancing ship construction.

The problem for that year was the best way to arrange a sailing ship’s masts—their number, placement, and height—to achieve maximum ship speed. Although Euler had yet to see any vessel more sea-going than a Rhine River freighter, he achieved an accessit (honourable mention), and over the years he won or shared this Prize 12 times and the accessit three times from his 15 submissions.9

Time well spent in Russia

From 1727 to 1741, Euler taught at the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg,10 where he quickly mastered Russian. He became professor of physics in 1731, and two years later was appointed head of the mathematics department. His biographer, Ronald Calinger, writes that his research ranged widely over “algebra, arithmetic, astronomy, ballistics, conic sections, differential geometry, elasticity, infinite series, music theory, number theory and oscillations, while his main field was rational mechanics. Convinced of the unity of the mathematical sciences, Euler set about perfecting each branch.”11 Much of this was published in the St Petersburg Academy’s journal Commentarii academiae scientiarum Petropolitanae (replaced by Novi Comentarii from 1747).

Saint-Petersburg
St Petersburg Academy of Sciences

He was also involved in such practical activities as designing fire engines, advising the Russian navy, writing textbooks for Russian schools, as well as two volumes on elementary arithmetic in German (E17, E35) for use in the St Petersburg scholastic gymnasia.12 He also had the task of helping prepare the first accurate large scale map of the complete Russian empire, for which accurate determinations of longitude and latitude were needed. This enterprise, comprising 20 sectional maps, was published as the Russian Atlas in 1745.

Marriage and family

In 1734, now financially established, Euler married Katharina Gsell, daughter of the Swiss-born artist Georg Gsell, who was court painter, keeper of the imperial art gallery, and teacher at the art academy in St Petersburg. The couple had 13 children, of whom sadly only five survived early childhood, and only three outlived their parents. Calinger writes:

“Every evening after dinner Euler gathered his children, servants, and students lodging at his house, for a domestic devotion; there were biblical readings and sometimes explanations and discussions. Before bed, he also often read passages from the Bible or scriptural stories for the children.”13

Solving the Basel problem

In 1735, Euler achieved immediate fame by solving a numerical puzzle that had baffled the world’s greatest mathematicians ever since it was posed in 1644. The problem is named after the home city of Euler and the Bernoulli family (who failed to solve the problem). It asks for the precise summation, with proof thereof, of the reciprocals of the squares of the natural numbers, i.e. the precise sum of the infinite series:

infinite-series

Euler showed that the sum of this series is π2/6 as n approaches infinity. His proof, De summis serierum reciprocarum (E41), (On the sums of series of reciprocals), in English, for ‘mathematically-literate’ readers, is given in wikipedia.org/wiki/Basel_problem.14

seven-bridges
Map of Königsberg in Euler’s time

Resolving the ‘Seven Bridges of Königsberg’ problem

The old city of Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) formerly had four land masses connected by seven bridges across the Pregel River, as per the diagram. Citizens occupied their spare time and no doubt improved their health (if not their equanimity) by trying to access these four areas in a single walk by crossing each bridge only once.

Although no one had been able to do it, it seems that no one had the courage (or perhaps the erudition) to say categorically that it couldn’t be done. Enter Euler! In 1735, he resolved the problem with a huge helping of logic, and a speck of arithmetic. He pointed out that:

The choice of route inside each area is irrelevant.

7-bridges
A modern graphical representation of the Königsberg problem

Two different bridges must be used to enter and leave each area.
So each area must be served by an even number of bridges.
However, one area has five bridges and three areas each have three bridges.
Therefore the walk as specified is impossible. Q.E.D.!15

Euler’s comprehensive solution to the above problem, called Solutio problematic ad geometriam situs pertinentis (E53), was published in the Academy’s above-mentioned journal Comentarii in 1736, and comprised 21 numbered paragraphs.16 In this, he used a diagram with the capital letters A, B, C, and D to represent the land areas, and the lower case letters a, b, c, d, e, f, and g to represent the bridges. This was a new concept for that era, and is regarded as laying the foundations for modern graph theory, where a graph is a collection of vertices (≡ land areas) and edges (≡ bridges).17 And it prefigured the concept of topology.18

In 1736, the St Petersburg Academy published his mathematical analysis of Newton’s dynamics titled Mechanica, sive motus scientia analytice exposita (E15 Vol. 1, and E16 Vol. 2) (Analysis of the science of motion). This work used the then new differential and integral calculus and represents the first treatise on what is now called analytic or rational mechanics.

In 1738, he experienced a dangerously high fever, and strong infection led to an abscess in his right eye; a subsequent cataract led to loss of vision in that eye. This was to have serious consequences later in his life.

In Berlin, Euler vs Bible skeptics

In 1741, following turmoil in Russia after the death of Czarina Anna,19 Euler accepted a post at the Berlin (Royal Prussian) Academy of Sciences. This was at the request of King Frederick II of Prussia (Frederick the Great), who wanted the Academy in Berlin to be comparable to those in Paris, London, and St Petersburg. For this he needed the superstars of science and philosophy, such as Euler, who was widely renowned for having won the Paris Prize for the three previous years, 1738, 1739, and 1740.20

Euler lived during the period misnamed ‘the Enlightenment’, when skeptic philosophers such as Voltaire (1694–1778), Hume (1711–1776), Kant (1724–1804), and their fellow ‘freethinkers’, mocked the biblical concept of God, denied the Christian faith, and declared that humanity could be improved solely through rational changes. Through all of this, Euler steadfastly maintained his Christian faith, and in 1746 wrote an impassioned response to the skepticism of his day entitled Defence of the Revelation [i.e. the Bible] Against the Objections of Freethinkers. This was a pamphlet consisting of 53 numbered paragraphs, originally written in German (E92) and printed in Berlin, and later translated into French.21

In this, he began by asserting that happiness involves understanding the truth, because God is truth and the world is the product of His omnipotence and wisdom (Defence paragraphs #1&2). A perfect knowledge of God and His works would be infinite (#3). God is the source of all truth and is the ultimate good (#4). God has written natural law in the hearts of men and requires that men’s actions conform to this law (#5). Since this law originates from God Himself, disobedience to it is rebellion against Almighty God, and this brings divine judgement (#6).

Concerning the Bible, Euler argued that it presents the unique and true source of all our duties in a way that cannot be attributed to the talents of its authors, and so we regard the Bible as having come from God (#26). A multitude of Christians not only saw Christ after He rose from the dead, but they also communicated with Him, so this was not the product of their imagination (#34). Thus the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an incontestable fact, solely the work of God, and hence we can believe all the promises of the Gospel both for this life and the one to come (#36).

Concerning the freethinkers, Euler said that they cannot put forward anything against the arguments on which the divinity of Scripture firmly rests (#37). Yes the Bible does contain things the freethinkers disagree with; if it didn’t, this would be harmful to the Bible (#38). With regard to apparent contradictions in the Bible, there is no science, including mathematics, against which similar or even stronger criticisms re contradictions cannot be made. Yet no one dismisses the certainty of mathematics (#39–41). The objections of freethinkers have long been thoroughly refuted, but because they are not motivated by a desire for the truth, they reject refutations and continually repeat weak and absurd objections (#46). They do not believe that the world had a beginning or will have an end because this would acknowledge the direct action of God (#47).

Berlin career

In this period of 25 years in Berlin, Euler wrote some 380 articles applying mathematics to a host of subjects; of these, 96 were published by the St Petersburg Academy, with whom he maintained a good relationship. He also wrote the two books for which he would become most renowned. These were his two-volume Introductio in analysin infinitorum (E101) in 1748,22 a text on functions and probably the most influential mathematical textbook in modern history, and the Institutiones calculi differentialis (E212) in 1755,23 on differential calculus.

His third landmark book from this period was his two-volume Scientia navalis (E110 Vol.1, and E111 Vol. 2), both in 1749. These dealt with ship design to achieve maximum stability, handling, and speed—features that often work against one another in practise. Soon after its publication he became concerned that it was too technical for navigators and began an elementary abridgment, which in 1773 became his last major work.

Bernoulli’s praise

The aforementioned Johann Bernoulli, 40 years Euler’s senior, was widely hailed as the undisputed ‘Princeps Mathematicorum’ (prince of mathematics) after the death of Leibniz (1716), and Newton’s withdrawal from the field in advanced age.24 Yet he recognized his one-time pupil’s brilliance early on. His letters to Euler show an early respect, addressing him as “highly educated and brilliant” when Euler was only 21. The salutations in following letters rapidly escalated to frank awe; in 1745 Bernoulli, known as definitely not given to flattery, addressed his letter to the 38-year-old Euler: “To the incomparable Leonhard Euler, the prince among the mathematicians”.25

lettres
The first volume of Euler’s Letters to a German Princess, in French, 1768.

Letters to a German princess: pioneering science popularization

In 1759, Euler was asked by his close friend Friedrich Heinrich to tutor the latter’s 14-year-old daughter, Friederike Charlotte Leopoldine Louise, who was a second cousin of King Frederick II and became known as the Princess of Prussia. To do this, over the next two years Euler wrote her 234 letters in lucid and cogent layman’s terms, but without equations or formulas, in French, the language of the Prussian court. In these he addressed her as Votre Altesse, Your Highness. These Letters of Euler on Different Subjects in Physics and Philosophy Addressed to a German Princess were originally published in French by the St Petersburg Academy (E343 Vol. 1, and E344 Vol. 2 in 1768, and E417 Vol. 3 in 1772).

A second French edition of three volumes was published in Paris in 1787–1789, after Euler’s death. This was edited by Voltaire’s disciple, Nicolas de Condorcet, who took exception to Euler’s references to God and to Adam and Eve (which showed Euler believed in Genesis), and purposely eliminated some of them. The English editor, Henry Hunter, purposely restored most of these in his English translation of the Letters.

cannonball
Euler’s illustration to explain the action of gravity on a cannon ball (Letter 51, pp. 200–201, and facing page 216).

Calinger describes the Letters as “The most exhaustive and authoritative science popularization written during the 18thcentury.”26 They indeed constituted a unique encyclopedia. Subjects included gravity, tides, the sun, moon and planets of our solar system, Newton’s laws of motion, the nature of sound, light, electricity and magnetism, the atmosphere, heat and cold, the trajectory of cannonballs, and much, much more. He explained scientific devices such as thermometers, telescopes, and microscopes, plus vision and the structure of the eye, etc. And he also taught her logic, for which he used syllogistic diagrams (see box).

In several letters, Euler gave the princess his thoughts about God, prayer, eternal life, evil and sin, divine justice, the usefulness of adversity, and the conversion of sinners. In explaining the marvels of the eye to her in Letter 41, he wrote: “Though we are very far short of a perfect knowledge of the subject, the little we do know of it is more than sufficient to convince us of the power and wisdom of the Creator. We discover in the structure of the eye perfections which the most exalted genius could never have imagined.”27

In Letter 43, p. 174, in the second French Edition, the rationalist editor, Condorcet, deliberately left out Euler’s final long paragraph about God as the Creator of the eye. Hunter restored it as a footnote in his English version. Here is what Condorcet tried to prevent people from reading:

“But the eye which the Creator has formed is subject to not one of all the imperfections under which the imaginary construction of the freethinker labours. In this we discover the true reason why infinite wisdom has employed several transparent substances in the formation of the eye: it is thereby secured against all the defects which characterize every work of man. What a noble subject of contemplation! How pertinent the question of the Psalmist! He who formed the eye, shall he not see? And he who planted the ear, shall He not hear?28 The eye alone being a master-piece that far transcends the human understanding, what an exalted idea must we form of Him, who has bestowed this wonderful gift, and that in the highest perfection, not only on man, but on the brute creation, nay, on the vilest of insects!—E. E.”29

princess-friederike-charlotte
Princess Friederike

In Letter 110 Euler wrote: “The Holy Scriptures … inform us, that he who meditates only the destruction of his neighbour, suffering himself to be hurried [carried] away by a spirit of hatred, is as criminal in the sight of God, as the actual murderer; and that he who indulges a covetous desire of another’s property is, in his estimation, as much a thief as he who really steals.”30 And in Letter 113, he wrote: “Real happiness is to be found only in God himself; all other delights are but an empty shade, and are capable of yielding only momentary satisfaction.”31

Princess Friederike must surely have been the world’s most erudite teenager! She encouraged the publication of the letters, thereby making science as taught by Euler accessible to a wide range of readers. By 1800, they had gone through thirty editions and had been translated into Danish, Dutch, English, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.32

Back to St Petersburg

In July 1766, Euler returned to St Petersburg to take up an offer sponsored by Czarina Catherine II (The Great) that involved himself in administration of the Academy there, employment for his three sons, and a future widow’s pension for his wife. Catherine aimed to restore the eminence of the St Petersburg Imperial Academy that had deteriorated since Euler’s departure in 1741, by re-employing ‘the foremost mathematician in Europe’.

In August/September 1766, Euler suffered a serious fever and this combined with a cataract in his one good (left) eye led to near blindness. Undeterred, he diligently pursued his duties and had scientific papers and correspondence read to him by assistants, to whom he dictated responses to be transcribed and forwarded by them. It was also a huge help that his son, Johann, was by then secretary of the Academy. He had this cataract removed in 1771, which briefly restored some sight, until another infection left him nearly completely blind. Calinger writes:

“Even in the onset of near blindness, his astonishing memory, rich imagination, steady willpower, insatiable curiosity, and disciplinary intuition continued to serve him well, and his addiction to research and delight in solving the most difficult problems, led him confidently to proclaim, ‘One more distraction removed’ in relation to his sight.”33

His prodigious memory is illustrated by the fact that he could recite the Aeneid by Virgil from memory, indicating which line was first and last on every page.34

None of this diminished his extraordinary literary productivity, in fact it now increased! “Alone, as lead author, or in the supervision of printing, he presided over a stream of articles and books numbering 415 … . Of these more than 150 did not get published until after his death.”35

In this period, he produced another ‘best seller’: the 500-page, 2-volume Vollständige Anleitung zur Algebra (E387, E388), (Complete Guide to Algebra), originally published in German. Translations quickly appeared in Russian and major European languages. Mathematician Walter Gautschi (1927–) writes: “It is indeed a delight to witness in this work Euler’s magnificent didactic skill, to watch him progress in ever so small steps from the basic principles of arithmetic to algebraic (up to quartic) equations, and finally to the beautiful art of Diophantine analysis.”36

In April 1773, he completed his last major book, his simplified navigation treatise, Théorie complete de la construction et de la manoeuvre des vaisseaux, mise à la portée des ceux, qui s’appliquant à la navigation (E426), (Complete theory of the construction and maneuver of ships brought into the reach of everyone involved in navigation).37 It covered all aspects of ship movement necessary for mariners, in language that sailors, navigators, mast-makers, and ship-builders could easily understand.

In November 1773, Katharina, Euler’s wife of almost 40 years died, aged sixty-six. Three years later he married her half-sister, Salome Abigail Gsell (1723–1794). She managed the household well, and was devoted to caring for her husband until his death seven years later. On the morning of 18 September 1783, he had been discussing with a colleague the newly discovered planet Uranus and the calculations for determining its orbit. That afternoon, while playing with one of his grandsons, he suffered a stroke and lost consciousness, which he never regained.

His memory honoured

Leonhard-Euler-plague
A plaque of Euler unveiled in Riehen in 1960 for the 500th anniversary of the University of Basel. The text below his name and years reads: Mathematician, physicist, engineer, astronomer and philosopher. Spent his youth in Riehen. He was a great scholar and a kind-hearted person.,

Calinger writes: “The scientific world recognised that it had been deprived of one of its great colleagues: the four major royal science academies in London, Paris, Berlin, and St Petersburg, along with societies in Basel, Lisbon, Munich, Stockholm, and Turin, all of which Euler belonged to, announced their profound loss.”38

After Euler’s death, the St Petersburg Academy had enough unpublished writings of his to continue issuing these for nearly 50 more years. Since 1911, the Swiss Academy of Sciences has been publishing Euler’s Opera omnia(Collected Works). So far (2017), some 72 quarto volumes have been printed, in three series—on mathematics, mechanics plus astronomy, and miscellany, respectively—covering approximately 35,000 pages. The 4th series, comprising 10 volumes of Euler’s 3,300 extant letters to 275 correspondents in French, Latin, German, Russian, and (a few) in English, is currently in production.

He has been featured on numerous Swiss, Russian, German, and other countries’ postage stamps, and the Swiss 10-franc banknote. And to honour Euler, astronomers have named a crater on the moon and an asteroid after him.

Gentle and modest, he was the greatest mathematician of his time—by the end of his life all the mathematicians of Europe regarded him as their teacher—which continued into the 19th and 20th centuries. For example, the eminent French mathematician (and atheist) Pierre Simon Laplace (1749–1827) said: “Read Euler; read Euler; he is the master of us all!”39 And he was a totally committed, God-honouring, Bible-believing Christian.

Euler’s influence in today’s mathematics

Much mathematical terminology and notation used today was created, popularized or standardized by Euler, including:

f(x) to denote functions.
x, y, and z as unknowns.
a, b, c for the sides of a triangle.
A, B, C for the opposite angles.
R and r for the circumradius and inradius of a triangle.
The abbreviations sin, cos, tan, cot, sec, csc, for their longer counterparts.
The extensive use of π (although he did not originate this term).
 for summation.
Δ for finite difference.
i for the imaginary unit √-1
e for the base of natural logarithms, e ≈ 2.71828.
Euler’s formula for the critical load of a column: Pcr π2EI/(KL)2.
The formula eiπ = –1 attributed to Euler and called the Euler identity (modernized as eiπ + 1 = 0),40 which mathematicians eulogize as ‘one of the most beautiful formulas in all of mathematics’40 because (for them) it says so much, i.e. the five most important mathematical constants all appearing in one formulation.

Euler’s polyhedral formula also known as the Euler characteristic: V – E + F = 2 (where V = number of vertices, E = number of edges, and F = number of faces of a simple (i.e. without holes) three-dimensional convex polyhedron).

For many more see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List­_of_things_named_after_Leonhard_Euler.

Euler diagrams

One of the lesser known inventions commonly attributed to Euler is his use of syllogistic diagrams to teach Princess Frederike logic. He did this first in his Letter 103, p. 398, and applied it to various hypothetical situations through to Letter 108 inclusive. Since 1960, Euler diagrams (as they are now called) have been used, along with Venn diagrams (a special case of overlapping Euler diagrams conceived by John Venn c. 1880) to illustrate the relationship of different elements of a set. The significance is not the size or shape of the curves, but how they overlap. A curve that is contained completely within another represents a subset of it.

Eulers-diagrams-reproduced
Euler’s diagrams (reproduced) from Letter 103
Euler-diagram-modern
A modern Euler diagram to illustrate the inclusivity and exclusivity of various political and geographical divisions within the British Isles. (Wikipedia)

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Unknown-33

Little Gretchen, little Gretchen wanders up and down the street;

The snow is on her yellow hair, the frost is on her feet.
The rows of long, dark houses without look cold and damp,
By the struggling of the moonbeam, by the flicker of the lamp.
The clouds ride fast as horses, the wind is from the north,
But no one cares for Gretchen, and no one looketh forth.
Within those dark, damp houses are merry faces bright, 
And happy hearts are watching out the old year’s latest night.
 
With the little box of matches she could not sell all day,
And the thin, tattered mantle the wind blows every way, 
She clingeth to the railing, she shivers in the gloom, ––
There are parents sitting snugly by the firelight in the room;
And children with grave faces whispering one another
Of presents for the new year, for father or for mother.
But no one talks to Gretchen, and no one hears her speak,
No breath of little whisperers comes warmly to her cheek.
 
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
 
Her home is cold and desolate, no smile, no food, no fire,
But children clamorous for bread, and an impatient sire,
So she sits down in an angle where two great houses meet,
And she curleth up beneath her for warmth her little feet;
And she looketh on the cold wall, and on the colder sky, 
And wonders if the little stars are bright fires up on high.
She hears the clock strike slowly, up in a church-tower,
With such a sad and solemn tone, telling the midnight hour.
 
And she remembered her of tales her mother used to tell,
And of the cradle-songs she sang, when summer’s twilight fell;
Of good men and of angels, and of the Holy Child,
Who was cradled in a manger when winter was most wild;
Who was poor, and cold, and hungry, and desolate and lone;
And she thought the song had told he was ever with his own;
And all the poor and hungry and forsaken ones are his, ––
“How good of him to look on me in such a place as this!”
 
Colder it grows and colder, but she does not feel it now,
For the pressure on her heart, and the weight upon her brow;
But she struck one little match on the wall so cold and bare,
That she might look around her, and see if he were there.
 
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
 
There were blood-drops on his forehead, a spear-wound in his side,
And cruel nail-prints in his feet, and in his hands spread wide.
And he looked upon her gently, and she felt that he had known
Pain, hunger, cold, and sorrow, –– ay, equal to her own.
And he pointed to the laden board and to the Christmas tree,
Then up to the cold sky, and said, “Will Gretchen come with me?”
The poor child felt her pulses fail, she felt her eyeballs swim,
And a ringing sound was in her ears, like her dead mother’s hymn:
And she folded both her thin white hands and turned from that bright board,
And from the golden gifts, and said, “With thee, with thee, O Lord!”
The chilly winter morning breaks up in the dull skies
On the city wrapt in vapor, on the spot where Gretchen lies.
 
In her scant and tattered garments, with her back against the wall,
She sitteth cold and rigid, she answers to no call.
They have lifted her up fearfully, they shuddered as they said,
“It was a bitter, bitter night! the child is frozen dead.”
The angels sang their greeting for one more redeemed from sin;
Men said, “It was a bitter night; would no one let her in?”
And they shivered as they spoke of her, and sighed.  They could not see
How much of happiness there was after that misery.  
 
Anonymous.
 
(William Cullen Bryant’s ‘Library of World Poetry’ attributes this to “Anonymous”.  Other sources for ‘The little Match Girl’ have Hans Christian Andersen as the author in 1845. The two poems differ quite a lot.  So perhaps this is the earlier version.)
 
 

Crying Time at Fraser Valley Gleaners

(Optional introductory line: )

(Now it’s crying time at Fraser Valley Gleaners. Oooohh . . . )

1. Well, it’s crying time again, we’re chopping onions (onions)

I can feel that painful burning in my eye

There are tables piled up high with Walla Wallas

And it won’t be long before it’s crying time

2. Well, it’s crying time again, we’re dicing onions (onions)

And we’ll spread them out on trays so they can dry

Then we’ll scrape them into barrels for our soup mix

That we send to needy countries far and wide

[Optional key modulation: up one semi-tone]

3. Well, it’s crying time againthe hungry children (children)

Are eating soup with thankful shining eyes

Tears of joy are shed and Jesus gets the glory

Needs of body, soul and spirit are supplied

4. When our crying days are over up in heaven (heaven)

God will wipe away the teardrops from each eye

Christ will tell us, “Well done, good and faithful servant”

We’ll rejoice and sing forever in the sky

In the sky

And there won’t be any more of crying time

 Compiled and introduced by Richard Peachey

In this article, an evolutionary paleoanthropologist describes the subjectivity and questionable science inherent in his own discipline!

All quotations are from Roger Lewin. 1997. Bones of Contention. 2nd edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Page number references from this book are given at the beginning of each section. [Bold print indicates emphasis added.]


[page 5] Paleoanthropology, like all sciences, is an activity done by people and is therefore prey to the same kinds of subjective interpretations and personal interests that influence other activities done by people, such as politics. No scientist likes to be shown to be less than scientific, and yet virtually everyone I talked to helped me to do just that.

[pages 18-19] . . . scientists, contrary to the myth that they themselves publicly promulgate, are emotional human beings who carry a generous dose of subjectivity with them into the supposedly “objective search for The Truth.”
  In fact, a completely unbiased, unprejudiced exploration of nature is a methodological impossibility, as biologist and philosopher of science Sir Peter Medawar is fond of pointing out. Without a set of expectations to act as a guide, such a search would be a chaotic and largely unprofitable enterprise. Moreover, the way in which scientists typically report their findings, in formal papers submitted to learned journals, is, he says, “notorious for misrepresenting the process of thought that led to whatever discoveries they describe.” Preconceptions are rarely acknowledged, because this, after all, would be “unscientific.” And yet preconceptions are an individual scientist’s guide to how to view the world with a degree of order that allows structured questions to be asked. . . .
  [Donald] Johanson readily agrees that paleoanthropology is no different from other sciences in this respect. “The fossil finders themselves have often brought with them their own personal prejudices and beliefs . . . We see discoveries as bolstering our specific interpretation of what the family tree should look like.” [Richard] Leakey’s view is similar. “In our family we were working with the human sciences, and I was never shown examples of objectivity in the true sense of what science is supposed to be like.”

[page 20] Paleoanthropology is thus no different from other sciences in being controversial. What sets it off from other sciences is the degree of controversy it engenders. Yes, controversy is found in all sciences, but in paleoanthropology discernibly more so. Yes, preconceived ideas shape the progress of all sciences, but nowhere else to the degree that occurs in the search for human origins. And yes, personalities are important in the flow of all sciences, but, again, in the science of man emphatically so. “All sciences are odd in some way,” notes Duke University anthropologist Matt Cartmill, “but paleoanthropology is one of the oddest.” [cf. p. 319]

[page 27] It is an unfortunate truth that fossils do not emerge from the ground with labels already attached to them. And it is bad enough that much of the labeling was done in the name of egoism and a naive lack of appreciation of variation between individuals: each nuance in shape was taken to indicate a difference in type rather than natural variation within a population. This problem has in some part been eased in [the last half-century]. But it remains inescapably true that applying the correct label is astonishingly difficult, not least because such labels are in a sense arbitrary abstractions; and especially so when the material on which the analysis is being done is fragmentary and eroded. “It is an incredibly difficult problem,” says Lord Zuckerman. ”It is one so difficult that I think it would be legitimate to despair that one could ever tum it into a science.

[pages 42-43] During her reading of the paleoanthropological literature, [Misia] Landau was intrigued not only by these grand narratives and philosophical assumptions, but also by the way in which practitioners talked about the hard evidence: the fossils. And here one can focus much more closely on current writings. There is a strong tendency, she claims, for fossils to be presented as if they were lucid texts to be read unambiguously, rather than scrappy fragments of unknown morphologies to be interpreted. “Let the fossils speak for themselves” is a phrase that’s frequently spoken or written. Moreover, even when fossils are being described in the most technical terms, authors often invest their words with unspoken arguments: there are texts beneath the texts, she suggests. “The question to ask, then, is not what do fossils tell us about human evolution but what is it about human evolution—and not only human evolution—that through fossils is getting said.” . . .
  In fact, “virtually all our theories about human origins were relatively unconstrained by fossil data,” observes David Pilbeam. “The theories are . . . fossil-free or in some cases even fossilproof.” This shocking statement simply means that there is and always has been far more fleshing out of the course and cause of human evolution than can fully be justified by the scrappy skeleton provided by the fossils. As a result, he continues, “our theories have often said far more about the theorists than they have about what actually happened.”

[pages 54-55] In his position as director of the American Museum, [Henry Fairfield] Osborn was the natural spokesman in favor of evolution against the likes of William Jennings Bryan, who was the chief prosecutor at the Scopes trial. This Osborn carried out with enormous exuberance, bringing his powerful personality to bear on every public medium he could exploit. He wrote articles for The New York Times and made frequent radio broadcasts, berating the fundamentalists’ attacks on evolutionary theory. And he was delighted to be able to claim evidence for the existence of early human progenitors in the United States—namely, a tooth discovered by paleontologist Harold Cook early in 1922 in Bryan’s own home state, Nebraska. Osborn, being an orator of some considerable force, if not the subtle talent of Bryan, was able to make great play of that association. Alluding to the quotation from the Book of Job (12:8) “Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee,” Osborn wrote in 1925: “The earth spoke to Bryan, and spoke from his own native state of Nebraska.”
  Named by Osborn Hesperopithecus haroldcookii, or more popularly Nebraska Man, the tooth was considered to be that of a very early anthropoid which had inhabited the shadowy beginnings of humanity. For Osborn, a devout man, its discovery was an answer to his prayers in the cause of evolution. Eventually, however, the tooth was shown to be that of a peccary (a kind of pig), and not that of an anthropoid at all, which revelation proved to be more than a little embarrassing for the museum’s director.

[pages 60-61] . . . the infamous Piltdown Man, the “fossil” that held the British anthropological establishment in its thrall for nigh on four decades. . . .
In the face of varying degrees of skepticism from North America and continental Europe, the British anthropological establishment concluded in near unanimity that [the Piltdown] jaw and cranium were indeed from one individual, that it was an ancient form of humanity, and what is more, its unusual form was precisely what would have been predicted, given prevailing theory. Virtually every major voice in British anthropology proclaimed that although the cranium was clearly very modern in aspect, many apelike features could also be discerned; and that while the jaw certainly looked like that of an ape, the trained eye could readily discern important human characteristics in it.
  In fact, as was discovered a long forty years after its first announcement, the Piltdown Man was a hoax, a fraudulent seeding of the Piltdown gravel pits with fragments from a modern human cranium and an orangutan’s jaw. Unsolved to this day, the Piltdown forgery remains one of the great whodunits of modern times.
The puzzle of the culprit’s—or culprits’—identity has of course fascinated amateur historical sleuths for years, with the result that virtually everyone involved in the discovery and study of Piltdown has at some time or other been fingered as the perpetrator. As a result, says Michael Hammond, a sociologist of science at the University of Toronto, the real story of it all has been somewhat obscured: “namely, what could have led so many eminent scientists to embrace such a forgery?” How is it that trained men, the greatest experts of their day, could look at a set of modern human bones—the cranial fragments—and “see” a clear simian signature in them; and “see” in an ape’s jaw the unmistakable signs of humanity? The answers, inevitably, have to do with the scientists’ expectations and their effects on the interpretation of data.

[page 64] . . . paleoanthropology, a science that is often short on data and long on opinion.

[pages 68-69] The scientific literature of [Marcellin] Boule’s time is replete with expression of Edwardian revulsion and even moral indignation at the supposed brutishness of Neanderthals. lt would, however, be a mistake in Boule’s case to conclude that his technical assessments were based on this perceived brutishness. In fact, it was rather the other way around. His preconceptions—primarily that human history was like a bush, not a ladder—demanded that Neanderthals be as different as possible from modern humans, and so he needed to exaggerate those differences which did exist and even invent some which didn’t. The result was that Neanderthal looked more brutish than he really was. . . . most anthropologists [now, i.e. in 1997] agree that Neanderthal should be called Homo sapiens neanderthalensis—in other words a subspecies and a very close relative to our own.

[page 73] “The Piltdown skull, when properly reconstructed, is found to possess strongly simian peculiarities,” noted [Sir Grafton] Elliot Smith. “In respect of these features it harmonizes completely with the jaw, the simian form of which has not only been admitted, but also exaggerated by most writers.” In other words, Elliot Smith was able to see signs of humanity in the orang jaw and features of an ape in the human cranium. “That the jaw and cranial fragments . . . belonged to the same creature there has never been any doubt on the part of those who have seriously studied the matter,” he opined somewhat peremptorily in 1914. . . .
  Being a neurologist, Elliot Smith also examined the form of the brain impressed on the inner surface of the cranium. “There are clear indications,” he said, “that mere volume is not the only criterion of mental superiority. Those parts of the organ which develop latest in ourselves were singularly defective in [Piltdown].” There are clear echoes here of Boule’s assessment of the Neanderthal’s supposed inferior mental capabilities, simply because of an assumed primitiveness. Remember, Elliot Smith was in fact describing a fully modern human brain.

[page 75] “All the collateral lines of evidence appeared to be mutually confirmatory and in complete harmony with each other,” commented [Sir Wilfred] Le Gros Clark when he discussed the [Piltdown] forgery at a lecture at Britain’s Royal Institution not long after its exposure. “So much so, indeed, that . . . none of the experts concerned were led to examine their own evidence as critically as otherwise they would have done.” A clearer message for the process of science can hardly be imagined.

[pages 85-86] “I will never again cling so firmly to one particular evolutionary scheme,” announced David Pilbeam at the beginning of 1978. “I have come to believe that many statements we make about the hows and whys of human evolution say as much about us, the paleoanthropologists and the larger society in which we live, as about anything that ‘really’ happened.”
  This dramatic public recantation shocked the paleoanthropological profession, because it represented more than a shift in just one person’s philosophy of science. For a decade and a half Pilbeam, with his Yale colleague Elwyn Simons, had embodied the science’s virtually unanimous commitment to one particular view of human origins. Namely, that humans split away from ape ancestors at least 15 million years ago; and that the first member of the line leading to us was a baboon-sized creature known as Ramapithecus. . . .
  The dethroning of Ramapithecus—from putative first human in 1961 to extinct relative of the orangutan in 1982—is one of the most fascinating, and bitter, sagas in the search for human origins. Some practitioners describe it as an exemplary illustration of how the science should proceed: that is by changing its hypotheses on the basis of each new item of evidence. Others, by contrast, charge that there are echoes of the Piltdown affair, in the sense of experts seeing in the fossils precisely what they want to see. There is no doubt, however, that in addition to the confection of egos and reputations that spices any academic fight, the controversy over Ramapithecus shows once again how the great difficulty of inferring relationships from fossil shapes can lead to serious intellectual battles.

[page 123] “Contrary to Simons’ and my original view, Ramapithecus itself does not have a parabolic dental arcade,” says Pilbeam. “I ‘knew’ Ramapithecus, being a hominid, would have a short face and a rounded jaw—so that’s what I saw.” Pilbeam and Simons were not uniquely guilty of this error. It occurs often, such is the uncertainty of interpreting fragmentary anatomy in fossils.

[pages 126-127] The clearest message of the Ramapithecus affair, however, is the power of preconceptions, which in this case led competent scientists to ignore the evidence of other competent scientists because the conclusions drawn from the evidence were at variance with established ideas. All scientists are guided to some degree by a set of assumptions, usually implicit rather than explicit. “I try hard to detect them in my own thinking,” says Pilbeam, “to isolate those assumptions that are not articulated because they are so ‘obvious,’ yet will seem so silly a few years from now. I am also aware of the fact that, at least in my own subject of paleoanthropology, ‘theory’-heavily influenced by implicit ideas-almost always dominates ‘data.’ . . . Ideas that are totally unrelated to actual fossils have dominated theory building, which in tum strongly influences the way fossils are interpreted.

[page 160] As might be imagined, there was a great deal of discussion around the Koobi Fora camp and back at the museum in Nairobi about what [the skull labeled KNM-ER] 1470 might be, for it was not unequivocally any known species. One point of uncertainty was the angle at which the face attached to the cranium. Alan Walker remembers an occasion when he, Michael Day, and Richard Leakey were studying the two sections of the skull. “You could hold the maxilla forward, and give it a long face, or you could tuck it in, making the face short,” he recalls. “How you held it really depended on your preconceptions. It was very interesting watching what people did with it.” Leakey remembers the incident too: “Yes. If you held it one way, it looked like one thing; if you held it another, it looked like something else. But there was never any doubt that it was different. The question was, was it sufficiently different from everything else to warrant being called something new?”

[page 162] When a new species is named, the author has to cite a so-called type specimen, against which other workers can compare similar fossil material. In addition, the author can add additional specimens, known as “paratypes” and “referred material,” which allow further comparisons. With Homo habilis there are seven separate fossils cited in all. Now, according to many authorities, this array of fossils erroneously includes representatives of two species, not just one, as it is meant to. Some of these fossils are accepted as Homo while others may well be Australopithecus africanus. So, although as a collection these seven fossils are meant to define Homo habilis, instead they cast a veil of ambiguity over the species. This creates a problem for people who, when analyzing a new fossil, wish to know if it is Homo habilis or not. The answer is, well, it depends on what you mean by Homo habilis. The required comparison, formally speaking, cannot be unequivocal because of the mixed sample.

[page 271] No scientist likes to see his pet theory swept aside, and this is especially so in paleoanthropology, where individual researchers tend to be more intimately involved with and proprietary about their theories than in other sciences.

[pages 299-300] So, after analyzing the same set of fossils [including “Lucy” and others], three different research groups come to three different conclusions. “No position is overwhelmingly strong,” observes David Pilbeam, “which probably means there simply isn’t enough fossil material available to allow a fully objective assessment.” [Cf. page 334: We are left with the position so often reached earlier in this book: two groups of anthropologists, faced with the same fossil evidence, come to diametrically opposed conclusions.]

[page 307] Racism, as we would characterize it today, was explicit in the writings of virtually all the major anthropologists of the first decades of this [twentieth] century, simply because it was the generally accepted world view. The language of the epic tale so often employed by Arthur Keith, Grafton Elliot Smith, Henry Fairfield Osborn, and their contemporaries fitted perfectly an imperialistic view of the world, in which Caucasians were the most revered product of a grand evolutionary march to nobility. . . .
  Roy Chapman Andrews, Osborn’s close colleague at the American Museum, stated the issue bluntly. “The progress of the different races was unequal,” he said. “Some developed into masters of the world at an incredible speed. But the Tasmanians, who became extinct about 1870, and the existing Australian aborigines lagged far behind . . . not much advanced beyond the stages of Neanderthal man.”

[pages 312-318] In the physical realm, any theory of human evolution must explain how it was that an apelike ancestor, equipped with powerful jaws and long, daggerlike canine teeth and able to run at speed on four limbs, became transformed into a slow, bipedal animal whose natural means of defense were at best puny. Add to this the powers of intellect, speech, and morality, upon which we “stand raised as upon a mountain top,” as [Thomas Henry] Huxley put it, and one has the complete challenge to evolutionary theory.
  Darwin’s answer to this was to look at those faculties which appear to make us special—our brains, our bipedality, our use of tools, our sociality—and suggest that, developed little by little, they would give us a competitive edge in the world of brute nature. It was an explanation that made our earliest ancestors already human, albeit to a rudimentary degree. . . .
  Darwin’s ideas on human origins—in which our “special” attributes were self-explanatory through the incremental advantage of natural selection—persisted into the twentieth century, through the era of Arthur Keith and Henry Fairfield Osborn and on into the 1950s. . . .
  When, during the 1930s and ’40s, the discoveries of australopithecine fossils in South Africa showed that human forebears stood upright and were equipped with small brains as well as small canine teeth, the Darwinian structure began to come apart. Intelligence could not have been an important engine in human evolution if most of the major physical changes in the skeleton had occurred with virtually no expansion in apparent mental capacity. A new explanation was required, and was soon provided. Tool use now emerged as the focus of human advancement, especially tools used as weapons: the era of the killer ape dawned, which was a vastly less flattering self-image than the one of nobility and spirituality enjoyed by Darwin, Keith and their contemporaries. . . .
  So, bipedality, intelligence, tool use, culture, and society—all those features which make us human and which had been accounted for by Darwin as the outcome of incremental benefits favored by natural selection—now had a different explanation: hunting. . . .
  From the mid 1970s on, the hunting hypothesis and all that it implied began to fall apart, for a number of different reasons. First of all, with new and spectacular discoveries made in East Africa, it began to be clear that the first stone tools in the archeological record do not begin to appear until at least a million years after the earliest hominids had already evolved a fully bipedal gait. In the absence of stone tools as weapons and butchery implements at the beginning of the human line, the argument for hunting as the driving force behind the origin of bipedalism simply vanished. As a result of a subsequent reexamination of the archeological evidence, paleoanthropologists now suspect that fully developed hunting of the sort that so fired the collective imagination a decade ago was adopted only very recently in human history. It may be that our forebears were opportunistic scavengers, not hunters, for most of their career—an idea that many find most unflattering to our self-image. . . .
  From the mid 1970s onward, the hunting hypothesis was also attacked from theoretical standpoints. One, developed by the late Glynn Isaac and promulgated by Richard Leakey in several popular books, emphasized sharing and cooperation as the key behavioral ingredients in hominid origins and human success. Owen Lovejoy, meanwhile, suggested that demographic and nutritional demands spurred the development of bipedalism and monogamous bonding between males and females. As a counterpoint to the male-oriented hunting hypothesis, Adrienne Zihlman and Nancy Tanner suggested that the mother/infant bond and food-sharing among mature females were at the core of hominid origins.
  Whatever the relative merits of these various proposals—and it is not easy to test all of them in the record—each has the clear intention of replacing a distinctly aggressive image of human origins with a distinctly peaceable one. “But why are people trying so hard to do that?” asks Matt Cartmill. “The striking thing about these theories is that they go so far beyond the available evidence in an effort to show that hunting was not important in early hominid evolution—just as the killer ape theorists did to prove that it was crucial.” Why? What lies behind it? “When people turn indignantly from one sort of speculation to embrace another, there are usually good, nonscientific reasons for it,” Cartmill observes.
  These reasons might include an attempt to turn away from the pessimistic view that humans are bound by their very nature to annihilate themselves through the agency of nuclear war. Or to reject the idea that through our heritage, we are innately programmed to behave in any particular manner at all, and especially in an undesirable manner. But in the long run it is of little account what these reasons are, because they are the reasons of the moment. They are, as John Durant says, “a direct response to contemporary social experience.” These peaceable theories of human origins, like the beast-in-man idea, become “a mirror which reflected back only those aspects of human experience which its authors wanted to see. . . . This is precisely what we would expect of a scientific myth.”

[page 319] Paleoanthropology has, always has had, as its major goal the search for man’s place in nature. The science shares with all historical sciences the limitations of trying to reconstruct events that occurred just once: there are no experiments to be done that can confirm or deny the major themes that are sought. It also shares with all sciences the truism that science is an activity done by people, and is therefore subject to the unavoidably personal and erratic nature of intellectual progress. But paleoanthropology alone among all the sciences operates within [an additional] dimension, with humanity’s self-image invisibly but constantly influencing the profession’s ethos.
  As Matt Cartmill said, “All sciences are odd in some way, but paleoanthropology is one of the oddest.” For this reason, there will always be bones of contention.


For further reading: 

Andrew Lansdown, “Differences between humans and animals” [pointed humour]. Creation, Vol. 17 No. 4 (Sep 1995), p. 45. <http://creation.com/differences-between-humans-and-animals>

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Today, someone said that all ‘religious‘ Christmas songs were to be deleted from her school’s celebrations this year.

Since Christmas, as we know it, has almost nothing to do with the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, we could probably delete 90% of it and vastly improve the months of November and December.

That would cause some grief to the merchants who depend on Christmas to maintain a healthy  bank balance.  Conversely the demise of Christmas would vastly improve the finances of people who can’t figure out how to just say no to the frenzied rat race this ‘religious’ event has devolved into.

Jesus, our Lord and Saviour was almost certainly NOT born on December 25th.  That was the pagan celebration of Rome.  Constantine could not beat down the faith of Christians, though he tried.  And he was losing ground anyway, so presto, he declared himself to be a Christian, and by fiat, all of the Roman world was now Christian.  Only they were not.

So Rome hardly missed a beat and Saturnalia, the pagan Roman winter solstice festival just tucked in a bit about Emanuel, God with us.

Back in the early ’70s I became a Christian, read the Bible, and saw so little resemblance between the wonderful incarnation and the madness all around me, that I simply opted out.

My bank customers were friends.  One day a fellow paid his Chargex bill.  With a deep sight of relief he said,  “This is the last of my Christmas debt.”   It was June.

On almost all indicators, Christmas is negative.  More and higher depression, violence, heart attacks, drunkenness, loneliness, suicide, crushing debt, weariness………So why do intelligent sentient beings keep doing this to themselves?

Just quit.

But there is a question about why schools are being pressured to remove the religious aspects of Christmas.  Whether or not the Biblical truths of the birth of the Son of God have been distorted almost entirely out of Christ mas, that very word tells us it is, or was to have had reference to Him.  Historically, traditionally, the celebration of Christmas was around the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of the world.

So compare:  Presents were brought to the Christ-child, by the Magi, probably when He was about two years old.  Gold, frankincense and myrrh held symbolic meaning of his royalty, holiness and sacrifice for fallen humanity.  No orgy of presents for people who will have to sneak off to the second-hand shops to dump all the unwanted stuff their loved ones  rushed and went broke to buy for them.

Well Christmas is for the kids:  Right.  Herod had his henchmen murder all the little boys two years old and under.

Great feasting and merriment:  Jesus left the splendour of Heaven to be born in a humble stable.  Poor shepherds were the first to welcome the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

There is a real advent, that brings light and hope and love to our world, but look for it in God’s revelation to us, the Bible.

Okay,  so take all religion out of secular schools, and make them places for ‘readin, ritin, and rithmetic’.  But then take the ‘gods’ out of Diwali.   Take the spiritual out of the first nations events that pervade our public school year.  In some parts of Canada Muslims are granted their own prayer rooms in public schools, where contrary to the norm, the boys are separated from the girls.  Have the jam,….. politicians, to remove ALL religious events from our secular schools.   I’d be fine with that.   Let parents and churches and temples and mosques be the places for religious teaching.

But if school boards are being ordered to take the Christ out of Christmas, stop being hypocrites, and invent another name entirely for what was once at least a reminder of the Saviour of the world.

So while Christmas, as we now have it, is a poor rep for Jesus Christ, one might wonder why even that thin gruel of Biblical faith is so under attack, while other religions in the Judeo-Christian West are given full support.

Just wondering.

(My reference to Constantine is somewhat simplistic and a fuller study of that period is recommended.)

During the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (306–337 AD), Christianity began to transition to the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. … If this made him a Christian is the subject of … debate,” although he allegedly received a baptism shortly before his death.