(Adam Lallana gets Liverpool off the mark in their 5-1 thrashing of Hull City)

I pose the question – could Liverpool end up being title contenders this season? Or is this a step too far for a team which is still under construction, so to speak?

There’s little question that, trip to Burnley aside, Liverpool have played some scintillating football. Victories at Arsenal and Chelsea, as well as a draw at Tottenham, all represent great results – 7 out of 9 points from tough trips to London is great in anyone’s book. Added to that are two positive home wins – 4-1 against Leicester and 5-1 against Hull. Goals have so far been pretty easy to come by, with a number of players on the scoresheet (and with Daniel Sturridge still to find his form, there are more goals to come). However, there’s a note of concern in each and every one of our league victories – not one clean sheet. In fact, not one clean sheet at all in the league so far.

This is Liverpool’s Achilles’ Heel. Whilst there are signs of greater sharpness in front of goal, a solid foundation is a must for any team that harbours title ambitions. The ability to close out matches when not playing well and grind out results is something every championship-winning side has done – look at Leicester last season – they would win a number of games 1-0, being ruthless and clinical and strong defensively. I haven’t yet seen that from this Liverpool side.

So whilst I would love for us to be title contenders, I think a more realistic goal is Champions League qualification. That is not beyond us.

(please note: this is not aimed at everyone who owns a dog. Most dog owners are responsible people who clean up after their pets)

There have been two incidents in my recent past that have left me feeling revolted and annoyed – and they both concern dogs and their ‘business’. The first took place walking home from work, when I saw a pair of lads walking a dog down the pavement, in the middle of a reasonably busy street. Nothing unusual there – except the dog pooed on the pavement, and the best answer the lad walking the dog could come up with as I walked past: ‘It’s not my dog’.

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Whaaaaa? Does that matter when you’re letting the dog literally crap all over a pavement? You’re holding the leash, the dog is therefore under your control and therefore your responsibility!

It gets worse. This morning, as I was walking into work, I unwittingly set foot in… dog poo.

timonannoyed2

With the shoes I wear, which have numerous grooves, this was distinctly unpleasant. Cue heading upstairs to clean it off, a tedious and gross experience that made me gag a couple of times. The culprit? The dog (or more precisely the dog owner) who lives in one of the flats above the store. This dog doesn’t get many trips to the local parks, and tend to therefore crap on the roof above the store, or in the little ‘garden’ area behind it (which happens to be a walkway to get to the store and also to the flats above). The owner doesn’t seem to understand that she needs to clear up after her pooch – she is creating a health hazard for herself, her kids, and for everyone else that uses the area.

I haven’t had the chance to speak to her, but I plan on mentioning this to the owner. I don’t want to be cleaning poo off my shoe because the owner is too lazy to clean it up.

 

A while back I did a few ‘versus’ duels between various characters. I’m revisiting this idea, and this fight is between superhumans.

In the blue corner – Khan.

In the red corner: Captain America.

They came about their powers via different means and use them for very different purposes. Let’s firstly take a look at who Khan is and what he can do. I’m taking the Khan from Star Trek into Darkness, and Captain America from the MCU.

Khan is the product of genetic experiments and he very much knows his own strength. His physical prowess is married to an enhanced intellect, which in turn leads him to believe in his superiority. As a result, Khan is extremely dangerous. In his appearance in the Kelvin timeline, Khan demonstrates numerous feats well beyond the average human, including his effortless takedown of at least a dozen Klingon warriors, wielding two guns (one of which was more like a cannon). His accuracy is remarkable.

So is his ability to take a punch. Kirk punches him repeatedly in a moment of anger, yet doesn’t appear to even phase Khan, much less hurt him. Khan also recovers very quickly from a stun blast and demonstrates raw strength when he brutally crushes a man’s skull with his bare hands. Perhaps though, his best efforts are saved for last. First, he not only survives a crash landing but then leaps 30 metres to get away from the ship he had just crashed. He then gets into a fight with Spock, who has demonstrated his own superior strength to the average human, and would have killed Spock if not for Uhura’s intervention.

So Khan is strong and he can fight. Can he beat Captain America?

Captain America (aka Steve Rogers) started out as a runt who nevertheless wanted to do his part and serve his country during World War II. He was the first to undergo an experiment designed to enhance the strength of soldiers. The outcome is great strength (he fights Tony Stark’s Iron Man to a standstill in Civil War) and endurance (in the same film he prevents a helicopter from flying off by holding onto it! He has easily overpowered enemies, even when greatly outnumbered (such as the lift scene in The Winter Soldier). We saw how fast he can run in The Winter Soldier, and in Age of Ultron he took on machines.

Conclusions: They’re quite similar in respect of their strength. Where they differ is in how they apply that strength, and this is what decides this fight in Khan’s favour. Captain America is noble and honourable – fine traits – but Khan is a ruthless killer. The only thing which might put this in Cap’s favour is if he has his shield – but that’s no guarantee of victory. Khan would not hesitate to risk bystanders – indeed, he might even use them – to get to Cap.

We briefly return to TA’s first article on the subject of science and belief, before turning to a new article of his:

It is unrealistic as how can anyone expect a force to last 14 billion years? The assumption that it does is distorted thinking and a distorted view of the evidence.
Third, Hubble’s theory is undermined by the fact that no one at any time has ever seen the edge of the universe. There is no way to measure any expansion. We have no ‘stretch marks’ that reveal the different boundaries of the universe over time and no other markers that can be used to support the thinking that the universe expands or has expanded.

Moving galaxies are not evidence and using those as evidence is like saying, the city of Denver is expanding because cars are travelling away from the city. Without accurate, constant historical records measuring the expansion of the universe the expanding universe theory falls flat as moving galaxies only prove that God gave the galaxies enough room to ‘live’ and move in.

It’s only unrealistic to expect a force to last 14 billion years if you don’t understand what that force is or how it works. Likewise, to use (yet another) flawed example of cars moving away from a city as an analogy for the movement of galaxies betrays the ignorance from which TA approaches this topic.

The believer needs to remember one very important fact about secular scientists. They have not been redeemed by Jesus, they have not been made a new creature nor has the old man been removed from their lives.

 These people are deceived, blind and under the influence of evil thus their ideas, theories, conclusions, etc., will not be the truth. Though they may contain elements of the truth, this is merely a trap to deceive believers into leaving the truth for the lies of evil.

 No amount of education, no amount of experience, no amount of conducted experiments will overcome this fact. The secular scientist remains in sin, a prisoner of evil and blind to the truth. At no time does the Bible teach that we are to follow the unbelieving world and at no time are we taught anywhere in scriptures that we are to adopt or adapt their theories, ideas or conclusions.

 The choice is you either believe God or you believe secular scientists (evil) There is no middle ground.

What I would recommend anyone who is of the faithful to remember is – TA does not speak for the entirety of Christianity and please don’t feel compelled to follow his ultra-strict, completely inflexible interpretation of the Bible as the only answer. He is indulging not only in repeated strawman fallacies, but also in the false dilemma fallacy – to him, our only choices are: A, a strict adherence to the literal word of the Bible or B, an evil way of thinking that involves anything else. Option B requires wilful ignorance of facts and evidence, and an extremely judgemental attitude toward not only non-believers but people who don’t believe in the same way he does. Despite some of the arguments I may make, I don’t believe science and religion are incompatible – it’s the attitudes of people like TA that create that image.

On to his second article:

When it comes to determining where a believer gets their information the believer must remember that the secular world was not the place or the people they are to go to. Jesus made it quite clear that we are to follow the HS to the truth and the HS will lead us to use different fields of study we must be careful that we do not get sidetracked and start adopting erroneous data.

The word science is defined by Noah Webster as

  1. In a general sense, knowledge, or certain knowledge;

Webster, N. (2006). Noah Webster’s first edition of An American dictionary of the English language. Anaheim, CA: Foundation for American Christian Education.

Note with interest that TA turns to a Christian education foundation’s definition of science, rather than the standard definitions found elsewhere.

From the Merriam Webster dictionary:

 

Full Definition of science

  1. 1 :  the state of knowing :  knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding

  2. 2a :  a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study <the science of theology>b :  something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge <have it down to a science>

  3. 3a :  knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific methodb :  such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena :  natural science

  4. 4 :  a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws <cooking is both a science and an art>

From the Oxford dictionary:

The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment: the world of science and technology

He goes on:

But we must be cautious here and not mistakenly think that the knowledge that science obtains is perfect knowledge and all it proclaims is true.  The word knowledge is very general and that means that science will receive a lot of false information.

We cannot assume science, especially the secular variety, is pursuing the data that God wants us to have. The believer must remember that science is led by the majority of scientists who do not believe. This means that their work, their conclusions and observations are influenced by evil. This fact tells us that the field of science is under deception and blind. The light does not shine in its boundaries.

Even when some scientists claim to be Christian because they let darkness lead them away from the truth and darken the light they are to shine on that field of research. Some of what follows may be basic knowledge that everyone already knows but there might be some who have not heard of the following information yet.

Science is the pursuit of knowledge, based on our observations of what we can see, hear and touch, and what we can study. It doesn’t claim to hold all the answers to all of life’s questions, and it doesn’t claim to be perfect.

Whether a scientist believes in God or not is beside the point. A good scientist will go where the evidence leads, and will not employ blind faith at the expense of facts (this is what creationists do).

Science in general is designed to look for natural answers. This means that any supernatural involvement in this world is excluded from its research. What this tells the believer is that secular science is not looking at all the data available to it and that it draws its conclusions based upon faulty research and data.

Secular science can discover things that God did, for example gravity. They can see how gravity works and how it influences the world, its orbit and so on. But it does not mean that they can come to the truth about the source of gravity or who made it.

In one sense TA is correct – science looks for natural answers. There is no system of observation which can find supernatural answers, since they are by definition impossible to define or study. This doesn’t mean they are dismissed – it simply means they are taken as an article of faith – which is the point of believing, is it not?

The secular scientist will look for a natural source not a divine one. They do not want supernatural answers which tells the believer that the secular scientist is not looking for or wanting the truth.

When it comes to our origins, secular science is the interloper, the usurper because they have entered the field of theology and the supernatural and have tried to change what actually took place in our history to fit their own desires—natural answers.

But when an event is supernatural in origin then secular science is out of its depth and cannot provide any answers to anyone. The best explanation is not the truth and when a field of research excludes the truth there is no way that it can come to the truth.

This is frankly, long-winded justification for ignoring fields of work where exhaustive studies have been carried out, which continue to provide evidence for evolution. It’s also an appeal to ignorance – so-called supernatural occurrences have, when re-examined using modern methods, been found to have natural causes in virtually all cases.

We are not going to spend much time here discussing the different rocks and how they point to one origin over another, suffice it to say that the secular geologist has not proven that the rocks formed as they theorize.

One theory has it that the planets formed by different rocks colliding together in the expanding universe, combining to form bigger rocks. No experiment has ever shown this to be true.

Yet more ignorance. We know how gravity works. We know how the relationship between mass, density and gravity works. The theory that planets form through a series of collisions is the best model that explains the facts – and geologists can point to evidence for the formation of rocks and fossil records – it’s hardly their fault TA can’t explain the evidence or comprehend the theories.

Other theories state that the rocks we see took millions of years to form yet again, no experiment has proven this idea correct. It is one thing to state a theory but it is another thing to prove that theory correct and all the years of education and experience a geologist has at looking at rocks does not mean they know how the rocks formed. There is no guarantee that the geologist, even with all of their education and experience, has found the truth let alone tell others the truth.

They have never observed the process they proclaim formed the rocks in action. They just look at already existing rocks and make a declaration that their ideas was how it was done. The words of point one applies to this field of research as well as all the fields we will place here in this article.

Still more ignorance. Geologists do not simply ‘look at rocks’. It’s a field of study which is far more complex than that. TA’s casual dismissal of it is telling. Next up, he moves on to genetics.

This is a fascinating field of research one that lets people see firsthand the complexity involved in God’s creative act. Many people complain that the bible is not a science textbook  and use that complaint to adopt secular ideas about our origins. But they are greatly mistaken in their conclusion. While the Bible is not a science textbook, that lack does not disqualify Genesis 1 or God from recording and acting as we read in that account.

If God put every little detail into the Bible secularists want to see in there, then the Bible would be so thick that no one would read it and I doubt they would be able to lift the book. God left some things for us to investigate for ourselves so that we will learn about him and glorify him for his power, his detailed work and so on.

Some people do indeed interpret the complexity of the genetic code and our bodies as a sign of creation. I don’t object to this on a theological level. As a matter of faith, I have no problem with anyone believing in Intelligent Design. As an article of what we can observe and study, we apply Occam’s Razor – there are many processes behind our evolution, and introducing a deity that cannot be quantified or measured is adding an extra mechanism that cannot be defined – therefore it’s not admissible from a scientific point of view.

He did not leave us that work to attribute his creative act to some non-existent natural process. The secular world does not understand why some genes turn off and others turn on but that is because they reject the true answer and seek one that fits their natural methods objective.

Genes turn on and off in certain ways because God’s handiwork was corrupted by Adam’s sin. We know why genes work the way they do and why people get diseases when others do not. It is not the result of natural selection but sin. The unbelieving scientist rejects this answer because they do not believe in sin or evil as the Bible describes it. They think that there is a natural reason for this phenomenon and again they are not looking in the right places for the right answers.

If we go by the argument that genes turn on and off because of sin, then this creates a philosophical dilemma. Why would babies and children be subjected to crippling, life-limiting and painful conditions, because of a sin that took place thousands of years ago? Indeed, why would anyone face all kinds of debilitating conditions because of this?

I am reminded of an interesting interview with Stephen Fry, who spoke passionately of what he would say to God if he met him.

On the other hand, if we are the result of the haphazard process of evolution, it makes sense that we are flawed on a biological level. It makes sense that every creature on the planet is vulnerable in some way shape or form.

Most often the secular scientist will simply say ‘we do not know why this takes place.’ which tells the believer that the secular scientific field of genetics does not have the answers and that they should be fleeing secular science not supporting it or accepting its wrong conclusions or theories.

God has allowed us an opportunity to find the truth of what he did at creation yet so many people claiming to be Christian have wasted that opportunity by going with secular ideas or trying to Christianize them. We need to look for the truth not the best explanation Christianized or secular.

We come back to Occam’s Razor. We have a process that we have observed taking place on the micro level, many times. We have fossil records for many species, including our own. All of these things can take place without a deity getting involved. God cannot be quantified by material means therefore is not part of the measurable equation.

Does this mean God doesn’t exist? My own personal answer is that I don’t know. I don’t claim to know this with any certainty one way or the other. If God does exist, then I, like many others I’m sure, would have a lot of questions. That however, is a philosophical discussion for another time.

Linda had waited with baited breath outside the small hotel that she and David had called home for the past few days, not at all certain that the promise of $30,000 would convince the owner to get her a truck. It was then a great surprise to see such a vehicle trundle down the beaten up road toward them, and better yet, it wasn’t simply some old, rusted contraption, but instead a clean, red lorry. The hotel owner had even organised a large trailer (probably wants to impress me).

The driver waved a hand at her and Dave as the truck came to a stop. Unlike the man in the hotel, he was clean-shaven, with short black hair and a look of pure delight to be in the company of westerners, which became all the more obvious when he jumped down from the cab.

“Greetings, I am Hassan! Wherever you need to go, whatever you need moving, I will do.” The young man took Linda’s hand and shook it vigorously, before doing likewise with Dave.

Linda smiled. “We need to go here.” She slipped her map from the pocket of her khakis, pointed to a spot in the desert. “About fifty miles south of here.”

Hassan turned his chocolate eyes upon her with a view of confusion. “My lady, there is nothing there but scorched sand and rock.”

“I have some friends out there who need something moved, no questions asked. Can you help us?”

Wariness replaced enthusiasm on the man’s face. “I don’t handle drugs or weapons.”

“Don’t worry, it’s neither of those. It’s an archaeological dig.”

“I don’t know this word, my English… it’s okay, what is, archaeological?”

“We look for bones.” Said Dave.

“Ah, I see… wait, why does he have a gun?” Concern re-entered Hassan’s voice.

“For protection. If it helps…” Linda took a wad of dollars from a pouch on her waist. “Will this serve as enough danger money?”

The promise of hard currency on top of whatever cut he was getting from the hotel changed the look on Hassan’s face once again. “Yes, yes, that will cover any risk.” Linda grinned. He hadn’t even counted it, though there was roughly $2,500 there.

“Can we leave right now? My friends are anxious to load something up and move it on.”

“Yes yes, please, get on board, I have cold drinks!”

To Linda, with the sun rising higher as midday approached, that was going to be a godsend.

******

Mark felt reasonably confident that the specimen could now be moved, but he could feel himself shaking. He wanted to keep it concealed as much as possible, but sooner or later, this discovery would go global, and he knew what would happen.

Studying the pictures as best he could on the small display of the camera, Mark had come to realise that his first conclusion was shaping up to be correct. The little ‘device’ the remains held was no mere stone or rock used by a primitive ape. There were criss-crossing lines and circles all across the surface. Symbols of some kind.

Closer study of the skeleton had changed his outlook still further. The large skull, the small body yet long arms and legs… it seemed absurd, it was absurd, and yet, the more he looked, the more his brain made the connection.

Jeremy had not yet figured it out. He’d loaded the jeep up and was now sat in the driver’s seat, eating a sandwich. If he’d been bored before, he was positively weary now.

Right now, Mark’s greatest fear was someone else arriving to claim the discovery for their own. The site wasn’t unknown for intriguing finds of human civilisation, so there was always the chance someone might show up, stumble upon Mark and Jeremy, reach the same conclusions and make a grab for the prize. Mark was therefore spending half his time keeping an eye on the horizon, whilst willing the phone to ring.

“I guess this thing is pretty fragile if we need a truck to move it.” Remarked Jeremy. Mark didn’t reply. Statements of the obvious annoyed him.

Thankfully, he didn’t have to worry about an awkward silence. Jeremy took another bite of his sandwich and carried on looking into the distance.

Time seemed to move slowly. It always did when things needed to happen urgently. Mark resisted the urge to return to the remains, instead drinking some more water. It never ceased to amaze him that even on the edge of the Sahara one of the most inhospitable places on earth, humans had managed to build lives for themselves.

“Professor, over there!” Jeremy’s voice punctured his thoughts. Following Jeremy’s finger, Mark saw in the distance a trail of dust and dirt, that almost certainly signified an incoming vehicle. He was about to get Jeremy to hide their find, when his phone started to ring.

“Linda?”

“We’re on our way, not too far out now. Switch on your GPS and we’ll zero in.”

“Got it. Jeremy, switch on the GPS please. Linda, do you have us?”

“We have you. See you soon.”

“Jeremy, do you mind driving the jeep? I need to stay with the specimen.”

Jeremy’s eyes lit up. “Not a problem Professor!”

“Drive carefully Jeremy. It’s not a sports car.” Mark could almost hear his eyes rolling in response. “Are we all packed?”

“Yup.”

It took a few more minutes of waiting, but the arrival of the bright red truck (that seemed to direct yet more sunlight straight at Mark) and a big, spacious white trailer was very welcome. The big rig seemed to snarl as the driver slowed down and stopped, and then one of nature’s greatest miracles stepped down from the cab.

Even in long khaki sorts and desert camo shirts, and despite the intense heat, and even after being rattled around in a truck for the past hour or two, Linda managed to look radiant. Not a lock of her wavy blonde hair was out of place, and she looked beautiful. No time for regrets Mark…

“Welcome to the dig site.” He said, smiling. Behind Linda came ‘Dave’, and a young local man who he didn’t know.

“Nice to see it, would be nicer if I knew what the hurry was. This is Hassan, he drove us here.” Linda gestured in the direction of him and Mark stepped forward, shaking his hand.

“Thank you for getting here on such short notice.”

“My pleasure. Your colleagues have been pleasant travelling companions. We had an enjoyable journey.” Linda shot Mark a look that suggested the exact opposite was true. Dave just looked impervious to anything.

“So Mark, let me see what the fuss is about.” Linda was direct as always.

“Here, follow me.” Together they strode past the jeep and toward the little area marked off with a small barrier. Mark waved a hand at it. “Take a look.”

Linda gasped.

 

 

Unless you live under a rock you’ll already be well aware of the latest craze that’s sweeping the globe – Pokémon Go. Nintendo’s pocket monsters have been popular for a long time, but this has transformed the idea once again.

Much of it involves being active. People are going out and chasing after Pokémon, as opposed to being stuck indoors. Reports of people walking into ponds and off cliffs are a testament to the importance of paying attention whilst playing.

I like the idea but what needs to happen next is the ability to battle other players, in the way you could on the DS incarnations of the game. Pokémon battles have always been a key element of the games, which would help with levelling up and evolving Pokémon. Nintendo, if you’re reading, this is the natural next step with this.

The solitary window of the escape pod did not offer any comfort. Instead, he looked out to watch the remnants of the fleet try desperately to stop the onslaught of the crab-like ships that cracked open armoured hulls like a chef would crack an eggshell. Great bursts of flame could be seen clearly, even as the pod raced away at great speed from the battle, and he knew those flames were the deathknell of his comrades.

He felt a pang of guilt. There he was, fleeing to safety whilst his friends and colleagues burned. Mighty warships broke apart in several pieces; some vapourised as their power sources detonated. All the while, his little pod got further and further away.

A low-pitched beeping noise alerted him to the small computer display. The pod was about to enter earth’s atmosphere, and the ride would get distinctly bumpy. He braced himself for it, but was still nearly bounced out of his seat when the pod finally made contact with the air. From the window, he could see the lick of fire, a display brought on by unbelievable friction. Down the pod fell, and only the heavyset straps held him in place, though they were constricting so hard he thought his chest might cave in.

It was impossible not to cry out, but it was as much in anguish as it was pain. He would return to earth, only to be patched up and sent right back up to fight again – assuming there would be any ships left to fight. If not, he’d be pressed into frontline service with the ground troops, as they resisted invasion one final time. Either way, his lifespan could probably be measured in days.

The screen told him he was now well and truly on approach to land, and the parachutes automatically deployed, quickly arresting the pod’s momentum and snapping it apparently upwards so hard it made him bite into his lower lip. He was coming into land near London, England, and as he looked out the window, he could see other escape pods on similar courses. Briefly, he wondered if the souls in those other pods were gripped by as much anger as he was. He had not joined the Navy to be a pawn in an unwinnable war.