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Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Review: Knowing and Being: Essays by Michael Polanyi

Epistemic Rights and Ontic Necessities:

That lady in the white lab coat is exceptionally astute and she's a major player within the global scientific community, but she is so befogged about the source and the proper criterion for justified knowledge that she subjects herself to self-stultification forasmuch as she relies on brute empiricism as her epistemic ground. Herein Michael Polanyi deploys powerful and commanding epistemic fog lights to shine the blazing light of truth on epistemology in relation to science and the pursuit truth (Polanyi, 1891-1976, was a European chemist who became a groundbreaking philosopher and epistemologist).

In the last third of his academic life the author searched for truth and a definitive criterion for knowledge itself. Dr. Polanyi proposed that one must rework the ground and fount for epistemic virtues and privileges as he attempted to partially comprise an accurate theory of knowledge enjoined to the nature of man's cognitive apparatus and the comprehension of epistemic intricacy/complexity.

Polanyi: "I hold that the propositions embodied in natural science are not derived by any definite rule from the data of experience, and that they can neither be verified nor falsified by experience according to any definite rule."

This volume consist of 14 interrelated essays (accumulated by Marjorie Grene) that convey the progress of Polanyi's epistemology first offered in "Science, Faith, and Society." Polanyi offers unique epistemic insights as he asserts that epistemic rights are obtained by central and subsidiary aspects of awareness while fixing on the article at hand while focusing on less important derivative things as epistemic backdrops. For Polanyi "normative structures such as interpretive frameworks, or even languages, work like hammers... I indwell them, I pour myself into them, to attend beyond me a further focus or project. All knowing involves integrative orientation from subsidiary to focal, from `from' to `to' and beyond"

He asserts: "So long as we use a certain language, all questions that we can ask will have to be formulated in it and will thereby confirm the theory of the universe which is implied in the vocabulary and structure of the language." Polanyi emphasizes that the predicament of contemporary epistemic questions are usually left unasked as modernity focuses on alleged detachment and objectivity of scientific knowledge as it too often ignores the necessary ethical structures. Polanyi deems that epistemic rights and true truth arise from internal indications to external facts and concrete evidence. Consequently, to ascertain proper epistemic rights, one is required to build a theory from the web of the ontic reality of biological things and this incorporates the mind as well.

He opines: "Of course language manifests a belief only if we use its words with the implied acceptance of their appositeness." One is not required to limit oneself to Polanyi's epistemic presentation to admire his genius and gain exceptional insight into the formation of a lucid epistemic apparatus that yields epistemic virtues.

On pre-theoretical commitments concerning science: "These maxims and the art of interpreting them may be said to constitute the premises of science but I prefer to call them our scientific beliefs. These premises or beliefs are embodied in a tradition, the tradition of science."

This volume is a necessary addition to the library of epistemologists, ministers, philosophers, and scientists. Those who avow TAs will find much to integrate in their epistemic scheme.

Polanyi: "I shall suggest, on the contrary, that all communication relies, to a noticeable extent on evoking knowledge that we cannot tell, and that all our knowledge of mental processes, like feelings or conscious intellectual activities, is based on a knowledge which we cannot tell."

The Necessary Existence of God: The Proof of Christianity Through Presuppositional Apologetics

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Review: The Defense of the Faith by Cornelius Van Til


The Defense of the Faith (Paperback) Cornelius Van Til was born in 1895, in the Netherlands and at the age of ten his family moved to Indiana. Later Van Til earned a Th.M. and a Ph.D. "The Defense of the Faith" is part of Van Til's groundbreaking presuppositional apologetic method. This volume is essential for any Christian philosopher and apologist. In this treatise, the author aims to press the most scripturally faithful and effectual apologetic method to defend the Faith and present the Triune God to the lost. Van Til distinguishes his system from that of RCC, neo-orthodoxy of Barth, and others.

Van Til writes: "The whole problem of knowledge has constantly been that of bringing the one and the many together. When man looks about him and within him, he sees that there is a great variety of facts. The question that comes up at once is whether there is any unity in this variety, whether there is one principle in accordance with which all these many things appear and occur. All non-Christian thought, if it has utilized the idea of a supra-mundane existence at all, has used this supra-mundane existence as furnishing only the unity or the a priori aspect of knowledge, while it has maintained that the a posteriori aspect of knowledge is something that is furnished by the universe." He adds for one to have any knowledge that "... there must be in God an absolute system of knowledge" (p 61). Furthermore he presses the necessity of scripture: "But I do, of course, confess that what Scripture teaches may properly be spoken of as a system of truth. God identifies the Scriptures as his Word. And he himself, as he tells us, exists as an internally self-coherent being. His revelation of himself to man cannot be anything but internally coherent" (p. 205).

Many have enthusiastically embraced his forceful apologetic as he advocates: "The natural man must be blasted out of his hideouts... the Reformed apologist throws down the gauntlet and challenges his opponent to a duel of life and death from the start." Van Til defines some important terms: "Philosophy, as usually defined, deals with a theory of reality, with a theory of knowledge, and with a theory of ethics. That is to say philosophies usually undertake to present a life and world view. They deal not only with that which man can directly experience by means of his senses but also, and ofttimes especially, with the presuppositions of experience. In short, they deal with that which Christian theology speaks of as God. On the other hand Christian theology deals not only with God; it deals also with the world.... Philosophy and science deal more especially with man in his relation to the cosmos and theology deals more especially with man in his relation to God. But this is only a matter of degree."

Van Til taught, inspired, and mentored many erudite scholars. Quotes from some of the brightest:
William Edgar states: "Van Til showed the necessity of knowing God as a basis for knowing anything at all."
John Frame opines: "Van Til's apologetics is essentially simple, however complicated its elaborations. It makes two basic assertions: (1) that human beings are obligated to presuppose God in all of their thinking, and (2) that unbelievers resist this obligation in every aspect of thought and life." (Westminster Theological Journal Vol. 47, 1985).
K. Scott Oliphint asserts: "Van Til, though speaking in another context, approves of all kinds of reasoning based on the priority of revelation."
Greg Bahnsen, a popular Van Tilian scholar and the man "atheists feared the most," stated that "For Van Til, like Augustine, reason is not the platform (precondition) for faith, but vice versa" (Greg L Bahnsen, "Van Til's Apologetic," p. 54). Bahnsen adjoins: "It could be said that Van Til has labored to rid our thinking about apologetics, theology, philosophy, and evangelism of misleading dichotomies between them - polarizations that serve to overlook the ethically qualified character of man's every intellectual ability and effort. There are to be no other gods before the face of the Lord (according to the first commandment, Ex. 20:3), no other authorities over our thinking that detract from submission to the revealed word of God. The Lord's claim upon us, even upon our thinking and reasoning, is absolute and unchallengeable - just because He is the Lord (Rom. 3:4; 9:20; 11:33-34). Therefore, "take heed lest there shall be anyone who robs you by means of his philosophy, even vain deceit, which is after the tradition of men, after the rudimentary principles of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:8). In that light, we must not artificially separate positive statement (theology) from its defense (apologetics), or separate the appeal for mental change (evangelism) from the intellectual reason for such change (apologetics), or separate general reflection upon conceptual foundations, (philosophy) from the particular content of Christian concepts (theology, apologetics). Van Til rejects each of these dichotomies in order that our thinking and scholarship will not be divided into two phases, the first being autonomous and religiously neutral, and the second being submissive to Christ and biblically faithful. For Van Til, like Augustine, reason is not the platform (precondition) for faith, but vice versa" ("Van Til's Apologetic: Readings & Analysis," p. 54)
---

But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases (Psalms 115:3).

As a PA I also would add: A certain and simple argument for the existence of God is: Without God one cannot account for anything. God is the ground and source for the laws of logic, moral law, mathematics, and everything else in the cosmos. This is an argument that is absolutely true. The truth is simple and it is powerful. One must employ changeless universal truths when one assesses, ponders, and communicates things and their meaning in our world. Only God, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, can ground immutable universals. The great thing about employing this argument is that it grows in power when the unbeliever attacks it. The argument grows in force because the unbeliever must use the laws of logic to make his intellectual challenge. These laws of thought require God. For God alone supplies the pre-essential environment for the laws of logic. Thus every time an unbeliever rationally attacks theism he is actually demonstrating that God lives. Without God (He alone can ground the laws of logic) he cannot make any rational assertion. The old science-fiction movie that has a huge electric monster on the loose illustrates this point. The monster in this thriller grows larger and stronger every time someone uses a weapon in attempting to kill it. The monster is ready to take over America, and the President orders the army to hit it with an atomic bomb. The troops launch the bomb and as the mushroom cloud slowly starts to dissipate, when the smoke clears, they are stunned by the horror of horrors: the energy monster survived. Not only does the monster survive, he now is ten times larger. The energy monster absorbed the massive energy from the bomb. It did not get weaker, but grew in size and strength. Similarly, the unbeliever will attempt to fire intellectual weapons at this "argument from the impossibility of the contrary"(Bahnsen). Nevertheless, all their attacks will only be consumed by the truth, while the defense of the truth grows stronger and larger. There is nothing a skeptic can assert without ultimately relying on theism, since God alone provides the pre-essential environment for the laws of logic that must be utilized in their attacks. Therefore the unbeliever's argument will always presuppose God because the unbeliever cannot supply the preconditions for the non-physical, unchanging, universal and atemporal laws of logic (God is non-physical, unchanging, universal in power and reach, and atemporal).

The triune God is the preexisting foundation for all debate, even a debate over the existence of God. Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it... Therefore let all the house of Israel know ASSUREDLY that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:24 & 36).
God Does Exist!: Defending the faith using presuppositional apologetics, evidence, and the impossibility of the contrary

Presuppositional Apologetics Examines Mormonism: How Van Til's Apologetic Refutes Mormon Theology

One Way to God: Christian Philosophy and Presuppositional Apologetics Examine World Religions

There Are Moral Absolutes: How to Be Absolutely Sure That Christianity Alone Supplies
Also see work by James Anderson, Michael Butler, Don Collect.

Book Review: Grave Influence: and the 21 Radicals and Their Worldviews

Grave Influence: 21 Radicals and Their Worldviews That Rule America From the Grave (Hardcover)

In 2004, Las Vegas County Commissioners and members of the community gathered to debate laws that would restrict "erotic dancers." They decided to proscribe moderate rules for "lap dancing." Most of the citizens and the commissioners did not sight any moral law that would prohibit such behavior. Instead, one after another sighted pragmatic reasons to support their arguments such as: Scientific research indicates sensual touching promotes good health for the human heart. One lady who spoke was an ex-stripper, and she recounted how stripping ruined her life (research has also indicated that many serial rapists and sex offenders visit strip clubs and this eventually leads them to commit heinous sexual crimes against others). Endorsement of pragmatism raises the question: By what standard does society use to discern what works best? Through lap dancing, many men will have healthier hearts; yet, many others will be injured as an indirect or direct result of this perversion. This is just one small example of the lack of moral stndards applied in the civil and cultural realms within the USA. Herein Brannon Howse declares that Christians have "lost the culture war."

In "Grave Infulence: 21 Radicals and Their Worldviews that Rule American from the Grave," Howse demostrates how socialism, communism, atheism and occultism have successfully attacked the Christian character of America. This page-turner is large (368 pages), yet the style makes it accessible to young people and non-scholars. The author calls believers to stand for truth and contend for Christian convictions to protect your freedom, family, and church. Howse also notes the importance of education to promote one's worldview as the secularists have effectively accomplished. He opines: "Education is the most powerful ally of Humanism and every American public school is a school of Humanism."

This volume addresses the worldviews promoted by:

- Kierkegaard
- Nietzsche
- James
- Dewey
- Darwin
- Skinner
- Marx
- Freud and many others.

Countless secularists attempt to hide the atheistic ground for their ethical views by calling it Pragmatism. Yet laws cannot be completely based on the principle of what "works best." Pragmatism is an abstract notion and falls under its own weight. It tumbles inasmuch as the principle itself cannot be tested, studied, and found to work best. Furthermore, an absolute fixed ethical system cannot be based on what maximizes utility. The utilitarian precepts can be "Play-Doe" in the hands of righteous men or wicked men. Wicked people can decide that all manner of evil has more utility, and then pass laws based on that evil. Nazism wooed the German people in great numbers through the utilitarian application of Hitler's ideas. The majority of the German people believed that Nazism brought happiness and great industry to their country in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Yet Nazism was evil. The records of the Nuremberg Trials on Nazi war crimes states: "About a million and a half people were exterminated in Madnek... over 133,000 persons were tortured and shot... Germans... exhumed and burned corpses, and crushed their bones with machines and used them for fertilizer... Nazi conspirators mercilessly destroyed even children. They killed them with their parents, in groups, and alone... they buried the living in graves, throwing them into flames... conducting experiments on them." Without God, nothing can supply the paradigm for universal moral absolutes. Society needs an absolute universal moral law to evaluate what is best and what is good, or it will fall into barbarism.

Reject God, then moral choices are unclear and unintelligible. God is the only precondition for moral absolutes. The true God is inescapable. Men may try to escape His moral decrees, but without them, life can only lead to despair and pain. Supreme Court justice Stephen Bryer revealed his ultimate measure for deciding law. On November 10, 2005 on CSPAN he conceded that he knew his ruling was right by how he "feels" in his heart. The brilliant atheist Bertrand Russell admitted that he based his ethics on how he "feels." Pol Pot felt he needed to mass-murder one million of his citizens in the killing fields; Hitler felt like murdering over 10,000 people a day and to use the skin of those murdered to make lamp shades and use their hair to make sacks. Only a moral system grounded on peremptory rational commitments to God can pronounce that mass murder is always wrong.

If men are wicked with religion, what would they be without it? (Benjamin Franklin).

An Associated Press article, of March 6, 2003, reported an opinion poll of the people of Russia. The poll found that 53 percent of the respondents viewed Stalin's role (he murdered some 20 to 35 million people) in Russian history as "absolutely positive" or "more positive than negative." Yet, only 33 percent said his role was "absolutely negative" or "more negative than positive." And in America, the Columbine High School murderers justified their crimes using Darwinism and wearing natural selection shirts. I would personally add: What if the majority of a nation voted that killing people with big noses or large feet made them most happy? What if 51 percent voted to kill the other 49 percent who had bigger noses or larger feet? Is it wrong? By the utilitarian benchmark it is lawful and good inasmuch as it benefits the most human beings. By what standard does society measure happiness and pain? If most people are not happy and feel pain because they cannot afford steak seven days a week, does society have the moral obligation to take the people out to Sizzler every night? What if the majority of people can't afford to buy the super size meal deal at Taco Bell? Do we owe the people a big Chulupa combo with an extra-large Pepsi because this will make the most people happy? One needs an absolute moral yardstick to make law.

Pragmatism and utilitarianism cannot supply this absolute standard. Philosophers fell short when they attempted to devise a obligatory criterion. The best they could come up with was the "pleasure calculus." The laborious chart did not work because it was arbitrary and could not deliver a universal and fixed moral touchstone. God has given mankind the blessing of an absolute moral law that binds all men at all times. This gift is His commandments. The absolute moral law which all censure, prohibition, civil restraint, individual rights, approbation, and righteous jurisprudence are derived. We are to reject all moral and ethical systems that are not derived from the principles of God's law. There must be an unchanging standard of absolute moral laws. Personal preference ethics cannot rightly condemn Nazism, slavery, abuse, environmental destruction, murder, and rape. That view is false and contravenes God's word.

There are moral absolutes and God has revealed them in the Bible. Furthermore I would note: Our epistemological means of discerning what is good and right is found in the Bible. That is our authority and our guide. Man is not the standard. Science is not the standard. Why? Because only the Bible can provide a standard based on an all-knowing and unchanging being, God. The standard must be based on an unchanging source, or ethics could change. If moral standards were mutable this would mean: lying and murder on one day are bad. The next day they might be good. This is impossible and collapses the floor it stands on. If lying could be good, there can be no truth, which is a truth claim. This is self-confounding. Honesty is not just the best policy, it must be practiced in order to communicate and live with others.

William Bennett reminds us: "Society cannot exist or function properly when people aren't honest." He then reminds us that "Our forefathers understood that honesty is essential to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and are impossible without the honesty of our country's citizens... Honesty... involves consistency between our thoughts and our actions." But what survival value would honesty be for natural selection to infuse this into our genes? One must presuppose honesty to account for communication, but evolutionary advantage would be with those who lie for personal gain and survival. Deception and dishonesty would better insure the multiplication of more of their genes. We are superintended by the hand of a sovereign God who gives us laws and principals that do not change because He is immutable. There is no place for full and free personal autonomy apart from God. Nietzschian philosophy, communism, and Nazism proclaim an ethic based on autonomy and survival of the fittest. Their foundational values led to the murder of tens of millions. If a man attempts to dismiss God from ethics, they end up with concentration camps and genocide. Without Biblical restrictions from an unchanging God, wickedness would flourish. To have a righteous nation, it must have a moral code from an unchanging and inerrant God. Only He could provide a fixed standard of good.

Jeremiah 50:35-38 (ESV): 35 "A sword against the Chaldeans, declares the Lord, and against the inhabitants of Babylon, and against her officials and her wise men! 36 A sword against the diviners, that they may become fools! A sword against her warriors, that they may be destroyed! 37 A sword against her horses and against her chariots, and against all the foreign troops in her midst, that they may become women! A sword against all her treasures, that they may be plundered! 38 A drought against her waters, that they may be dried up! For it is a land of images, and they are mad over idols."

There Are Moral Absolutes: How to Be Absolutely Sure That Christianity Alone Supplies

High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball

High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time (Hardcover)

Who threw a baseball the fastest of all-time? Some assert Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Walter Johnson, Sam McDowell, Goose Goosage, Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan, and many of the modern flamethrowers. But countless problems arise when one seeks to discern the fastest fast-baller in baseball history inasmuch as the balls in baseball have changed in size, weight, and material. Additionally mound heights and angles have changed so attempting to discover the fastest of the fast in some sense is vain. But herein Tim Wendel has issued a zippy and entertaining book in: "High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time."

Wendel delivers a fascinating pitch in alluring prose that discusses the bio-mechanics in throwing a baseball and the genetic aspects of the preeminent speed-ballers. He draws the reader in with great anecdotes featuring:

- Nolan Ryan (thought to have the fastest recorded pitch in history until the recent new breed of pitchers came on the scene)
- Walter Johnson (one of the first who threw real smoke)
- Bob Gibson (Mr. Intimidation)
- Steve Dalkowski (maybe the very fastest hurler of all-time)
- And numerous additional captivating research and anecdotes.

The new strong arms in MLB have recorded the following speeds over and above Ryan's (remember many factors have changed including the radar guns - so I still affirm NR as the fastest of the fast):

- Joel Zumaya 102.7 MPH on 6/30/09 (est. 100 times over 101 MPH in career).
- 102.6 Jonathan Broxton 7/3/09.
- 102.2 Brian Wilson 9/5/09. - 101.3 Daniel Bard 7/09
- Justin Verlander 101 MPH in 9/2009.
- 101.1 Neftali Feliz 8/09.

Additionally, Stephen Strasburg as a rookie threw over 101 MPH but rookie Aroldis Chapman bested that by hurling a ball at 105 MPH (WSJ, D1, 10-8-10).

If you love baseball or just enjoy a well written nonfiction book, pick up this page-turner you will not be disappointed.


In Order by Fastest Observed Speed
(Listing Has Only The Fastest Known Speed by the Pitcher)
Pitcher
Radar Speed
Date / Box Score
Location
Aroldis Chapman *105.1 mph09-24-2010PETCO Ballpark
104.8 mph
McAfee Coliseum
Neftali Feliz ^103.4 mph09-01-2010Rangers Ballpark
Bobby Parnell ^103.0 mph08-18-2010Minute Maid Park
102.0 mph
Shea Stadium
102.0 mph
Citizens Bank Park
102.0 mph
Safeco Field
102.0 mph
Pacific Bell Park
102.0 mph
PNC Park
102.0 mph
Jacobs Field
Henry Rodriguez ^102.0 mph08-22-2010The Coliseum
102.0 mph
Comerica Park
101.0 mph
PNC Park
101.0 mph
101.0 mph
Minute Maid Park
101.0 mph
Pacific Bell Park
101.0 mph
Citizens Bank Park
101.0 mph
AT&T Park
101.0 mph
Cleveland Stadium
101.0 mph
Chase Field
101.0 mph
Qualcomm Stadium
101.0 mph
Chase Field
101.0 mph
Turner Field
100.9 mph
Anaheim Stadium
Joba Chamberlain100.2 mph06-08-2008Yankee Stadium
100.0 mph
Pro Player Park
Daniel Cabrera
100.0 mph
Camden Yards
Andrew Cashner ^100.0 mph06-26-2010US Cellular Field
100.0 mph
100.0 mph
Jacobs Field
100.0 mph
Jacobs Field
100.0 mph
Three Rivers Stadium
Rich Harden
100.0 mph
McAfee Stadium
100.0 mph
Skydome
100.0 mph
Rogers Centre
100.0 mph
Citizens Bank Park
100.0 mph
Oriole Park
100.0 mph
Rogers Centre
Brandon Morrow ^100.0 mph05-05-2010Progressive Field
100.0 mph
100.0 mph
100.0 mph
Jacobs Field
100.0 mph
Miller Park
100.0 mph
Turner Field
Stephen Strasburg ^100.0 mph06-08-2010Nationals Park
Derrick Turnbow
100.0 mph
Miller Park
100.0 mph
Dodger Stadium
100.0 mph
Pitcher
Radar Speed
Date / Box Score
Location
* Actual picture of speed taken from the field at top of the chart.
** Actual picture of speed taken from the field at bottom of the chart.

^ Due to the large number of MLB.com Gameday additions this symbol means it was verified there.
† Took place during a no hitter.

------------------
WSJ post:

As Major League Baseball prepares to open its season Sunday, high-octane pitching is dominating the game as never before. One day it's the Cincinnati Reds' Aroldis Chapman, the"Cuban Missile," firing 103-mile-per-hour fastballs out of the bullpen. The next, starters like the Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg and the Tampa Bay Rays' David Price are clocking triple digits deep into games when they should be tiring.
Getty Images
Dylan Bundy, the Baltimore Orioles' 20-year-old, started lifting weights when he was 10, and he threw in the high-80s in middle school. He broke 90 as a freshman in high school, and had hit 100 before graduation.
In the 2003 season, there was only one pitcher who threw at least 25 pitches 100 mph or faster (Billy Wagner). In 2012, there were seven, according to Baseball Info Solutions.
In 2003, there were only three pitchers who threw at least 700 pitches 95 mph or better. In 2012, there were 17. There were 20 pitchers a decade ago who threw at least 25% of their fastballs 96 mph or faster. Last year there were 62, including Carter Capps, the Seattle Mariners' 22-year-old right-hander, whose average fastball travels 98.3 mph, tying him with the Royals' Kelvin Herrera for the top spot in the game.
A motion analysis lab in New York City uses 2-D and 3-D video technology to research and improve the throwing motion of baseball pitchers. WSJ's Matthew Futterman visits the lab for answers about his short-lived pitching career.
At the same time, just a decade after performance-enhancing drugs helped power an unprecedented boom in offense, hitters are spiraling into ineptitude. Last season the game's batters struck out 36,426 times, an 18.3% increase over 2003.
"It's pretty simple," said Rick Peterson, director of pitching development for the Baltimore Orioles, who sees a direct link between strikeouts and the increase in velocity. "The harder you throw, the less time the batter has to swing and the harder it is to make contact. Everybody can square up a slow-pitch softball. A 95-mile per hour fastball is a little different."
Nearly 20% of all plate appearances last season resulted in a strikeout. In 1968, just 15.8% of plate appearances resulted in strikeouts. And that was the so-called "year of the pitcher," when the dominance of the likes of Bob Gibson and Denny McLain caused baseball to lower the mound and begin experimenting with a designated hitter.
Baseball's speed revolution is an outgrowth of a series of radical—and sometimes surprising— shifts in the way both children and adults approach the game at every level.
This isn't just about bigger, stronger athletes. In terms of the stress placed on a human body part, nothing in sports compares with what the shoulder undergoes when a top pitcher throws a fastball. The joint can rotate at roughly 7,000 degrees per second. Since a full rotation equals 360 degrees, the arm would complete nearly 20 full rotations in a single second if it were physically able.
"That's about as fast as a human joint can move, so pitchers probably won't ever throw much faster than they do now," said Glenn Fleisig, a biomedical engineer at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Alabama and one of the leading researchers in the science of pitching. "But now you're seeing more and more pitchers every year getting close to the ceiling, so the question becomes, why?"
[image]Photo illustration by John Kuczala; Getty Images (pitchers)
Aroldis Chapman, the 'Cuban Missile,' and reliever for the Cincinnati Reds was clocked at 105.1 mph in 2010.
Part of the flamethrowing trend is a function of simple economics. The best pitchers now command some of the game's highest salaries. Being merely average is worth $11.5 million a year (Bronson Arroyo, 12-10, 3.74 earned-run average). As a result, the game's biggest and best young athletes are gravitating toward the pitching mound.
On average, the game's pitchers have gained about a half-inch in height since 2000, according to Adrian Bejan, an engineering professor at Duke University, who studies sports evolution and wrote a recent study of body size in baseball.
That makes sense, Bejan reasons, because the pitching motion mimics the action of a trebuchet, the medieval weapon for throwing stones against heavy fortifications. Early designers of trebuchets figured out the key to flinging a stone faster was increasing the height of the body and the length of the arm and rope, which together function like the pitcher's body and arm. A longer rope just required more weight to propel it forward. Baseball scouts have essentially come to the same conclusion. Think Randy Johnson, who is 6-foot-10, or even Capps, who is 6-foot-5.
Then there's technology. Twenty years ago, the actual speed of a pitch was information usually reserved for scouts with clunky radar guns. Now, with more accurate laser technology, that information is on the scoreboard in every stadium and noted pitch by pitch on nearly every telecast. A decent gun can be had for less than $200 and is about the size of a hair dryer. There are iPhone apps, too: Little League dads track how hard their 9-year-olds throw. Today's flamethrowers are the first generation to be raised in a baseball culture obsessed with velocity.
It's easy to understand why. In a data-crazed era when franchises demand their scouts and executives back up every strategy and draft pick with numbers, velocity stands alone as the only statistical characteristic that doesn't depend on the quality of the opponent—as do hitting and other pitching stats. That makes it the logical place to begin any evaluation, said John Mozeliak, general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Getty Images
Carter Capps
"At a certain speed, you're able to get away with more mistakes," Mozeliak says.
Chris Holt, a former major-leaguer who now coaches prospects at Pro Bound USA, a Florida baseball academy, says young pitchers who can't hit 90 on the radar gun don't get a serious look. "Ninety-two is the new 88," he says. "The cutoff is 90, 91 minimum."
Well aware of this obsession with measurement and velocity, young pitchers and their coaches began about 15 years ago to approach the game with a singular goal: figuring out how to throw the ball as hard as they can.
"The main reason people are throwing hard is because they see the value of getting noticed throwing harder," said Ron Wolforth, whose Texas Baseball Ranch has become one of the top destinations for aspiring fireballers. Wolforth is one of the leaders of what is fast becoming a dominant school of pitching thought. He and his disciples, who are sprinkled throughout the baseball-talent hotbeds in the American South and West, stress a free and athletic-style throwing motion that harnesses the power of the entire body, but especially the legs and core muscles. It's based partly on what Dominican and Venezuelan pitchers have been practicing for years. ("You don't get off the 'island' throwing curveballs," the saying goes; Venezuelan Bruce Rondon, a Tigers prospect, throws 104.) The philosophy puts far less emphasis, especially at the beginning, on controlled mechanics and more on learning and practicing what Holt refers to as "throwing the heck out of the baseball."
Matthew Futterman explains how the increasing number of pitchers who regularly throw 100 mph is changing baseball. Photo: Getty Images.
Capps, the Seattle Mariners' rising star, is a prime example of this approach. He was a catcher until his freshman year at Mount Olive College in North Carolina. He had a decent arm but wasn't much of a hitter, and the team already had an All-American catcher. Head coach Carl Lancaster suggested he try to pitch.
Capps hit the weight room to add muscle to his 170-pound frame. He started long-tossing, that is, playing catch at more than 250 feet, and he began to work on his mechanics so he could use his long legs to extend his stride and leverage his height. By the beginning of his sophomore year he was registering 93 to 95 miles per hour on the radar gun. The following summer, he hit 97 during the All-Star Game of the Coastal Plains League, a summer-league for college players. "After that he never touched the rubber at our place without a crowd of scouts watching," Lancaster said.
"The harder you throw, the cleaner it feels," Capps said during a recent interview from spring training. "It's actually less stress on the arm, because when I'm throwing my hardest, my legs are doing all the work and my upper body is coming right through."
Although pitchers last year spent 29.1% more days on the disabled list than they did in 2003, most orthopedists blame that on overwork, not rising velocity.
At laboratories at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Alabama and the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, orthopedists and biomechanists place dozens of sensors on pitchers and have them throw in front of a series of infrared cameras that measure their motions and turn the windup into a three-dimensional computer graphic. Then they analyze the data to try to see if all the parts of the body are synchronizing, with each of the six separate actions of the motion flowing methodically from one into the next.
"It's a kinetic chain," Fleisig said. "You rotate the hips at the right time, and then the torso and then the shoulders and then the arm and elbow."
It follows that the stronger the links of the chain are, the faster the pitch, which has led to a sea change in the way pitchers train. Gone are the days when strength and conditioning meant visiting the weight room a few days a week with an assistant football coach....
Consider Dylan Bundy, the Baltimore Orioles' 20-year-old, white-hot prospect. Bundy started lifting weights when he was 10, and he threw in the high 80s in middle school. He broke 90 as a freshman in high school and had hit 100 before graduation. To build up his legs, core, arm and hands, he and his brother and father would toss tires, dig holes and refill them, push wheelbarrows full of dirt, cut down trees with an ax and split wood. He also long-tossed up to 350 feet, and still does, all in pursuit of getting stronger and maximizing velocity....

for more see: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/fastest-pitcher-in-baseball.shtml

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book Review: Systematic Theology (Volume 1): Grounded in Holy Scripture and Understood in Light of the Church

Systematic Theology (Volume 1): Grounded in Holy Scripture and Understood in Light of the Church (Systematic Theology (Mentor)) (v. 1) (Hardcover)

This is a marvelous time to write a vast and prepossessing book on Systematic Theology. We know a lot about the damage that the theologically-thin church has done to scripture-based Christian expression. It's still unclear, though, whether the weak man-focused pillars of modern Evangelicalism are merely teetering, or about to collapse - and, if they do crumble, what will the Christ-centered voices within Evangelicalism do to shepherd the wandering sheep. In "Systematic Theology, volume 1" by Douglas Kelly one discovers an important instrument to assist the church in securing underfed believers: A Bible-based Theology built within the context of church history from the well-spring of the Triune God. I read a plethora of books annually and in the last three years or more, this is the book I most enjoyed reading, rereading, and pondering (obviously excluding the Bible).

This is a supremely stupendous, phenomenal, and amazing work. Dr. Kelly (B.A. from the University of North Carolina, B.D. from the Union Theological Seminary, Ph. D. from the University of Edinburgh) has constituted a marvelous and comprehensive volume on Trinitarian dogmatics. This monumental work is utterly unique and captivating (Professor Kelly sites copious aspects of Church Fathers, Eastern Orthodoxy, The Roman Catholic, Scottish, Dutch, and French scholars including Popovitch, Mascall, T.F. Torrance, Duns Scotus and countless other unrenowned as well as eminent theologians and scholars), therefore it makes a outstanding companion to Reymond's, Berkhof's or Grudem's works on S.T.

Herein is an outstanding theological resource that it is not a book on apologetics, nonetheless S.T. texts have underlying apologetic presuppositions. Kelly builds on T.F. Torrance's thought: "What we are concerned with ... here is the proper circular procedure inherent in any coherent system of thought operating with ultimate axioms or beliefs which cannot be justified or derived from any other ground than that which they themselves constitute. Thus ... ultimate axioms ... for which we can offer no independent demonstration, but without which the scientific system concerned, together with the knowledge it yields, would not be possible at all" (p. 20). One can see in Kelly's pre-commitment the necessity of a transcendental starting point to make science and knowledge possible. Kelly then quotes Torrance on Michael Polanyi: "Polanyi reminds us in his Gifford lectures that we cannot convince others by formal argument, for so long as we argue within their framework, we can never induce them to abandon it. `Formal operations relying on one framework of interpretation cannot demonstrate a proposition to persons who rely on another framework'" (p. 59).

Kelly's validation of theological truth claims are:

1. We do not step off the grounds where the living God has given Himself to be known (His word and Spirit), and hence:
2. We operate outside all framework of unbelief so as to call their inhabitants forth in faith and repentance into an utterly new paradigm (p. 60).

There is a fine chapter that discusses the Classical arguments for the existence of God. Kelly calls himself a sort of "peeping Thomist." He also has an attraction for the ontological argument and covers that befittingly. The author engages Thomas, Kant, Hume, Reid, and Plantinga as he aptly defends theistic proofs against the onslaught of skeptics and modernists; nevertheless he doesn't conclude that the theistic proofs are strong and solid, concluding that they have no "final value" (p. 99). He doesn't interact or even mention Van Til's apologetic; whereas he argues that "God's truth is validated the same way it is revealed" (p. 59).

Vital Chapters include:
- Knowledge of God - Knowledge of the Triune God through Creation and Conscience
- The God Who Is: the Holy Trinity as One Lord
- What Kind of Lord He Is: His Sovereign Transcendence, Beauty, and Majesty
- God Makes Himself Known in the Covenant of Grace
- Many Citations from Patristic Theology - Work from a wide diversity of traditional theological thought
- How God is One Being and Three Persons.

Additionally Kelly refutes Darwinism as he demolishes it at its epistemic base and by exposing its self-stultifying rational framework. The reader is drawn closer to the triune God when the author goes on to exult in God's majesty, beauty, and holiness. He covers the New Testament witness of the Trinity and discusses the implication of the baptismal formula Jesus gave His church.

This impressive volume is unlike any I have read (I own thousands of books) and all ministers, seminary students, apologists, and studious lay-people should purchase this remarkable S.T. presentation. Moreover there is very little direct Van Tilian influence (cited once in the Bibliography, not cited in the name index) or any mention of any other presuppositional theologian; Frame, Bahnsen, Poythress, etc. are absent from the bibliography and name index. Since Kelly uncritically quotes numerous unorthodox scholars, a new believer should not buy this work (mature believer's should pick this outstanding volume up if they already own S.T. text from Berkhof, Hodge, or Reymond - it makes a wonderful complement to more comprehensive S.T.s).

God Does Exist!: Defending the faith using presuppositional apologetics, evidence, and the impossibility of the contrary

The Bible literally shines with God's majesty, but seven different Hebrew words and two different Greek words are used for the glorious concept of majesty. Our English translators therefore rendered nine different words in the original biblical languages with the grand anglicized Latin term `majesty'" (p. 343). Kelly's work is splendid in its focus, powerful in its presentation, and arresting in its profundity.

Buy it, you will not be disappointed.

for Fresh Apologetic Resources go to:
MikeARobinson.com
TheLordGodExists.com