The Shadow of Death

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden while the serpent tempts Eve

Spring 1990. I was turning seven years old, and I was opening presents at Dad’s house where only a few months earlier I had wished on a turkey wishbone for a Nintendo system.

My wish came true, and Mom let me set the new game system up on the extra television in her room. I became a video gamer. Well, at least in the sense that I was holding a controller and interacting with the system.

I loved The Legend of Zelda — the original one — but looking back, a rather curious thing happened: I didn’t play that game to win, but to think. I wouldn’t have known what I was doing then, but I meditated over that game.

About death.

Continue reading “The Shadow of Death”

There and Back Again

Five thousand four hundred twenty-seven days ago, I visited Garrison Creek Baptist Church after having been invited by an online friend, something which was altogether new for me, considering this was 2001 and meeting folks in real life who were first met online carried with it a fairly significant stigma of danger.

The acceptance of that invitation changed my life substantially in that within the span of just a few months, I became increasingly enamored with the church experience and the religion of Christianity.  Continue reading “There and Back Again”

Bulk Up Your iOS App Catalog with FREE Premium Apps

Almost four years ago, I made a change that so very many of us have: I exchanged my “dumb” phone for a newfangled smartphone — a then already out of date iPhone 4, to be specific.

Early on, I was impressed with just how many free apps were available in the App Store, and I rather quickly had filled up most of my phone’s storage with ad-supported free versions of premium apps or “freemium” apps which offered some features but required an in-app purchase to unlock the entire thing.

This, as you can imagine, grew to be a nuisance.

Eventually, I gave in and bought several apps for a few dollars apiece; the fates of these apps varied. Some I used or played for a while before abandoning them, while some I still use or keep installed today, such as the excellent The Night Sky. I don’t feel guilty about these purchases in the least, especially when you consider how much the iPhone costs, whether outright or on contract.

You don’t buy a Kindle just to enjoy the dictionary and manual that come pre-installed on the device. You shouldn’t buy an iPhone to enjoy only free apps, either. You’re cheating yourself, all because we’ve become conditioned to feeling that $5 is a lot to spend on an app. It’s okay to pay for good products.

“A $5 App Isn’t Expensive: Customers Need to Help Fix the App Store Economy” by Lex Friedman on Macworld

It’s okay to pay for good products, but I’m still cheap, especially because I’m now at the point where I have the apps that I know I need or want. Everything beyond that is bonus and novelty, and I want to share two great ways for enjoying premium apps without spending a cent. Continue reading “Bulk Up Your iOS App Catalog with FREE Premium Apps”

I Ran into a Friend Today

I ran into an old friend of mine, Michael, earlier while at work. We grew up together in a neighborhood just a few blocks from where I currently live. We had largely the same friends and the same pastimes since the sixth grade, til high school ended and we went our separate ways.

Since high school, nearly fifteen years ago, I could probably count the conversations we’ve had on two hands with fingers to spare. Funny how that works.

But today we talked as if no time had passed. Continue reading “I Ran into a Friend Today”

How to Prove an Atheist Exists, Biblically

As a bit of a follow-up to Definitively Proving God’s Existence, I want to add that in the Hebraic myth discussed in 1 Kings 18:21–40, God was proven to be real by Elijah’s sacrifice being accepted, with a spontaneous combustion of the sacrifice caused by God himself.

The prophets of Baal had no such luck with their sacrifice, as in the myth, their god did not exist to aid them in any way.

How would this play out in a contemporary context, if a believer in the God of the Bible decided to make a sacrifice to God as a show of faith in showing that he is real, in the face of unbelievers who may be making a counter sacrifice?  Continue reading “How to Prove an Atheist Exists, Biblically”

Enabling Form Validation on WordPress Comments

For over a decade, Rick Beckman has accumulated comments from a wide variety of people — many who have posted confidently using their real name and what seem like valid email addresses while others have chosen anonymity with pseudonyms and pretty obviously fake email addresses.

The websites entered with the comments have been just as varied — from links to personal sites that match the rest of the information given (name, email address) to links to Google to strings which don’t resemble a valid website address at all. You know what I mean: “none,” “http://no,” “na,” and so on. Users for whatever reason don’t want to leave the field empty (even though it isn’t required), so they put in some invalid data if they don’t have a website.  Continue reading “Enabling Form Validation on WordPress Comments”

How to Add Whimsical Form Field Placeholders to WordPress Comment Forms

The WordPress comment form is a humble little thing: a few form fields, an explanation or two, and not much else, barring any plugins or customizations, that is.

Users who have left comments already will be greeted with a form that is already filled out the next time they visit, thanks to a cookie which WordPress sets, but what about before their first comment?

Would-be commenters are greeted by empty form fields for their name, email address, and website address, which is straightforward enough, but what if you want to jazz things up ever so slightly by adding some placeholder text to these form fields?  Continue reading “How to Add Whimsical Form Field Placeholders to WordPress Comment Forms”

Definitively Proving God’s Existence, One Way or Another

As a skeptic, I have often asked for proof that God — specifically the God of the Bible, the religion of which is an overwhelming majority in my area — exists, to which I’m often told that there is no proof that God exists, that it simply requires faith, or that there is plenty of proof but that it takes faith to actually accept that proof.

I’m also often challenged to prove that God doesn’t exist, the implication being that one cannot prove a negative and so cannot prove that God doesn’t exist, leaving open the possibility that he does exist.

The Bible even goes so far as to say that you cannot test God (Deuteronomy 6:16; Luke 4:12), and some apologists will say that you cannot test God from a position of a lack of faith but that those who have faith in God can test him because they already know he’s real.[note] takes this position. Nothing says “useful knowledge” like conducting tests designed to confirm something which you already believe in. I’m sure confirmation bias won’t affect the results in any way.[/note]

Would you believe, though, that there is an experiment described by the Bible which is entirely repeatable and which can be performed by any group of people, provided one of them is a believer in the God of the Bible and the other isn’t? Continue reading “Definitively Proving God’s Existence, One Way or Another”

The Past Two Years

It has been a while since I’ve written a journalistic update here. It looks like the last time I may have was over two years ago, in June of 2013, when I wrote about my journey as a blogger. It’s not that long ago, though it seems like ancient history.

When I wrote that, my daughter was just over a year old, and I was I was in the beginnings of a relationship with Jade. I had no idea what direction I wanted to take my website efforts in — the archives of 20102015 are a greater amalgam of content from various domains and false-start blogs than the archives of 20032009 ever were.  Continue reading “The Past Two Years”

Go Support the Mars Generation!

For the past several months, I’ve been a fan of Abigail Harrison — Astronaut Abby — an aspiring astronaut who spends a lot of her time inspiring other young people, including children, to appreciate and be involved in STEM education and activities.

Two things stuck out to me about this astronaut-in-training:

  1. I’ve no doubt that she must be ridiculously busy — school, space exploration advocacy, fundraising, etc. — but she seems to respond to everything! For someone shooting for the stars, she sure is down to Earth!
  2. She hopes to be the first astronaut on Mars! This is awesome on numerous levels. There has, in my lifetime, been no positive event that rivaled that of decades before my birth: the moon landing. To bear witness in my lifetime to a human setting foot on Mars — especially one whom I’ve had brief conversations with? WOW! More wonderfully, and more long term, my daughter will get to watch Abby’s project grow, and in her teens or twenties, she will (I hope!) get to witness Abby’s Mars landing as live as it possibly can be!

We need something to hope for, something to inspire us in the same way that the space program inspired us back in the fifties and sixties. We need to see ourselves not as separate peoples divided by invisible border lines but as a global human species.  Continue reading “Go Support the Mars Generation!”