creaturely relations

“Of all the kinds of union or unity that exist for creatures, the union of believers with Christ is the highest. The greatest mystery of being is the mystery of the trinity – three persons in one God. The great mystery of godliness is the mystery of the incarnation, that the Son of God became man and was manifest in the flesh. But the greatest mystery of creaturely relations is the union of the people of God with Christ.”

John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p169 (BoT 1955)

a tag attack

So I’ve been tagged by the poetic Mr Benedict Ambrose. I assume it doesn’t have to be interesting.

1. The rules of the game get posted on the beginning.
2. Each player answers the rules about himself
[or indeed herself].
3. At the end of the post, the player tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they’ve been tagged and asking them to read his [or her] blog.

What I was doing ten years ago:
Ten years was just over a third of my life ago. I was still in school, sitting my Highers and my driving test. Soon to apply to study language at university, and the rest is just recent history.

Five things on my To-Do list today:
1. Recover from doing a presentation, (a) first thing in the morning and (b) when I should be writing up
2. Add graphs to chapters 2 and 3
3. Discuss the spoonerism correlations
4. Fix all the 40-odd cross-references that Microsoft Word messed up on me yesterday
5. Go and hear a lecture by Michael Tomasello in the afternoon, when I should be writing up

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Organise mortgages for all the engaged couples and newly weds I know
2. Pension off all my family members
3. Donate wildly to the CI, Oxfam, Barnabas, Macmillan …
4. Get myself some proper bookcases
5. Be the next RW Forsyth

Three of my bad habits:
1. Nodding off at my desk
2. and hoping nobody notices
3. Uttering to my supervisors phrases such as, ‘No that shouldn’t be a problem, it won’t take too long I don’t imagine.’

Five places I’ve lived:
1. Aberdeen
2. Stornoway
3. Edinburgh
4. Er,
5. That’s it

Five jobs I’ve had:
1. Cleaning rooms in hotels
2. Ironing curtains in a laundry
3. Transcribing children’s disordered speech
4. Proofreading
5. Bits of tutoring and lecturing

Five books I’ve recently read:
Depends how recently is defined, and do repeats count?
1. Pennington (ed), Phonology in Context
2. DA Carson, The Gagging of God
3. Thomas Boston, A View of the Covenant of Grace
4. Tomasello, Constructing a Language
5. Matthew Henry, The Communicant’s Companion

Five people or communities I’m going to tag:
* Clare, my tea companion
* Richard the reiterator
* Andii at nouslife
* Grant, frog-squisher extraordinaire
* James, secure in the knowledge he won’t be interested

maybe later

If I wasn’t both too skint and too immersed in writing, I’d be interested in getting hold of these books on language acquisition newly announced on the Linguist List.

  • Semantics in Acquisition, which seeks to apply formal semantics to language acquisition. I still have fond memories of (struggling to keep on top of) formal semantics and it would be intriguing to see how successfully it can handle child language acquisition.
  • Optimality Theory, Phonological Acquisition and Disorders, by Dinnsen and Gierut. Particularly their claim that there is indeed clinical relevance in what Optimality Theoretic accounts can offer makes the book sound appealing. And makes me wish I was going to ICPLA Istanbul to hear Martin Ball’s plenary; but I’m not.

Also of interest on the Linguist List recently was this review of a book on language acquisition from the perspective of modularity. The review is generally positive, but takes issue with what seems to be a major theme of the book:

The most controversial claim in this book concerns ”ethical modularity”, namely that the modular theory of mind may preserve the dignity of a child. First of all, it should be beyond doubt that the dignity of a child should always be preserved: a child having failed in a particular language (or cognitive) task should incur no disadvantages such as demotion to a lower class or to a class for handicapped pupils, misclassification as imbecile, or personal offence. However, it may not be that easy to achieve this goal. Can cognitive science help here? Roeper is convinced that by maintaining a modular theory of mind we can avoid harm to the children that are entrusted to our care. The modular theory may lend itself less easily to misuse than alternative theories. The argument claims that a modular theory naturally preserves the dignity of the child because the failure of a child in one task (if a failure at all) will remain a local one in just one module whereas all other modules may still be intact. The acknowledgement of the child’s general cognitive integrity preserves her dignity. In contrast, a theory that generalizes a local deficit to a global one is more likely to lead to a violation of the child’s dignity with all its negative consequences.

when your h = 0 and f = 1

Interesting and useful fact of the week:

If you’re using d′ as a measure of discrimination sensitivity, and if you have small numbers of trials from which to calculate proportions of hits and false alarms, you are likely to end up trying to get z-transformations of 0 or 1, which means that d‘ is undefined.

There is however a range of conventions for how to deal with this.

Wickens (2001) says a value can arbitrarily be assigned to the otherwise empty category, eg, for f, a value corresponding to 1/(N+1), or 1/(2N+1), or 1/(10N+1) can be assigned, where N = number of noise trials.

This chap says, for proportions of 0 use instead 1/N and for proportions of 1 use (N-1)/N, where N is the number of trials used in calculating the proportions.

Macmillan and Creelman make two suggestions. One is to convert proportions of 0 to 1/(2N), and proportions of 1 to 1-1/(2N), where N is the number of proportions used in the calculation. The other is to add 0.5 to all data cells regardless of whether there are zeroes present.

Most usefully of all, this information can all be found online, in Google Books in the case of Wickens and Macmillan and Creelman. Although thanks to the prodigious – the triumphant – efficiency of the note-taking skills of one of my officemates, we didn’t even need to resort to googling in order to have the information at our fingertips. It’s very satisfying when that happens.

google censors christian advert

Yesterday the Christian Institute announced that its lawyers have contacted Google to remind them of their duties under the 2006 Equality Act.

Google has rejected an advert which would have referred readers to the Christian Institute for news and views on UK abortion-related legislation (currently, obviously, highly topical).

The reason they gave was their policy of finding “abortion and religion-related content” to be inappropriate. (Although strangely, the CI’s lawyers’ letter points out that this policy is not given in writing on Google’s policy page.)

Today it seems that Google have clarified their decision by saying that they only allow ads that “have factual information about abortion.”

I’d have quite a lot to say about that, but Cranmer said it quicker and better:

Setting aside that Google now presumes to judge on epistemological matters (are all its links filtered and censored for ‘factual’ accuracy?), it is curious indeed that it is only when abortion is presented via a religious site that the material is banned: Google permits abortion-related advertisements from the secularists, atheists, irreligious, non-religious and the mentally depraved (if some of these terms are not mutually inclusive). Needless to say, the perspectives of these are overwhelmingly ‘pro-choice’, and all must be considered by Google to be ‘factual’.
But Google does not permit Christians to advertise their pro-life beliefs.

(Read the rest here: The Christians who sued Google.)

Says the doughty Ann Widdecombe: “It does seem to me to be the most appalling and blatant case of religious discrimination.”

Further information and links available from the Christian Institute.

[PS – I know I said I wasn’t going to post anything controversial for the next two months. I hope this won’t be controversial. Feel free to comment but I’m not arguing with anyone :) ]


The last time I met my supervisors, two awful things happened. One was that I was instructed to revise every single last piece of my results and run every single last statistical test on them all over again.

The other was that I was given exceedingly strict orders to do absolutely nothing apart from work on my thesis for the next two months. Inwardly, I was crumbling away. They didn’t realise that’s exactly what I’d been doing for the past ∞ number of months already. Needless to say, I outwardly conceded it was a very sensible plan and would implement it with zeal.

So far, I’ve followed the first instruction to the letter. More precisely, I am still in the process of it. This means that I am still hovering around the vicinity of square one, as I clearly can’t polish either my introductory material or my discussions until the results themselves are finalised.

However, I have been sadly distracted from the path of obedience in regard to the second instruction. Far from secluding myself and devoting my thoughts to interpreting anovas and theorising about metaphonology and the relation of melody to prosody, I have been: blogging. I confess I have been doing more reading and thinking around the doctrine of the sacraments and the nature of the church in response to the fervent activity in my comment boxes, than scriptism and Harrisian integrational linguistics. I have done what I ought not to have done, and I have not done what I have ought to have done, and no, that’s not part of my liturgy.

What I plan to do in the future is address, in some order or another, the following mammoth issues. 1. Why foot washing isn’t a sacrament. 2. Sola scriptura in the scriptures. 3. The senses in which my denomination (or anyone else’s) can not, and can, be called the pillar and ground of the truth. 4. Highland presbyterian liturgies. 5. And related issues.*

What I’m going to do right now, though, is call a moratorium on all stressful controversies. That’s as in stressful to me, as (i) I think I’d regret finishing my thesis later than necessary due to wranglings in the blogosphere, and (ii) long-running controversies don’t agree with me anyway. While the canonicity of scripture is in absolute terms more important than phonological representations, nothing hangs on me being able to argue about it either knowledgeably or convincingly in the next few weeks, in stark contrast to my write-up.

Any of my timid reformed readers who wish to shed their timidity and join the fray should consider themselves heartily invited to do just that. I can watch from a distance no problem. Just remember, be nice to guests, don’t feed trolls, and before writing anything take a deep breath and implement Rom 12:18. Meanwhile I’m going to ground and hereby vowing to post nothing controversial until I have the time to handle it.

(Signing off with this link, in case you didn’t see it last time.)

* PS – I mean it. I’m considering moving to If I allow advertising I might not even need this grant proposal to come through.

he sanctioned the whole Jewish canon

In an article on inspiration, Girardeau incidentally makes this argument.

Our Saviour expressly acknowledged the divine authority and consequently the divine inspiration of the several books of the Jewish canon.

In the first place, he did this by his compendious distribution of the Old Testament Scriptures into the law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms, in accordance with the accepted classification at the time when he spoke. “And he said unto them [his disciples assembled after his resurrection], These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” (Luke 24:44.)

In the second place, he did the same by his reference to the Scriptures of the Old Testament in general.

Again and again he used the words with the solemnity of formulas, “It is written,” “Thus it is written.”

In his unanswerable argument with the Pharisees in proof of his divine commission, his last point was an appeal to the Scriptures. “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39.)

In his conversation with the disciples going to Emmaeus he invoked the testimony of all the Scriptures to himself, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27. See also Matt 26:54, 56.)

He adduced the law and the prophets to silence the derision with which the Pharisees treated his claims, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than one tittle of the law to fail.” (Luke 16:16, 17). Here it is evident that our Lord first uses the term law specifically as a member of the usual classification, and then employs it generically as synonymous with the Scriptures. Otherwise, in affirming the immutability of the law specifically considered, he would have implicitly acknowledged the mutability of the prophets. Such a construction of his language the purport of his argument excludes. He asserts the unchanging perpetuity of the Scriptures in their minutest particulars. It merits especial notice just here that the very same thing is solemnly declared by the Lord Jesus of his own words, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” (Luke 21:33.) As the New Testament consists principally of reports, expositions, inferential amplifications and historical developments of his words, nay, is his Word communicated by inspiration to the sacred writers, it, according to the declaration of Christ, possesses with the Old Testament the unchangeableness of God’s veracity. Jesus affirms the immutable authority of the whole Scripture, Old and New, because it is the inspired Word of God.

In the third place, the same thing is proved by the use which our Saviour made of particular books in the Old Testament Scriptures.

In his argument with the Pharisees touching divorce he appeals to Genesis. [Quotation here of Mark 10:6-8; Gen 1:27; Gen 2:24.] He also cites the narrative in Genesis of the flood. (Matt 24:37-39.)

In his Sermon on the Mount, he expounded the ten commandments, the record of which is in Exodus. Of the moral law, and of the prophets, he affirms immutable authority, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matt 5:17.) … In his argument with the Sadducees concerning the resurrection fo the dead, which, in the judgment of the Pharisees, had silenced his opponents, he cited the words of the same book as of conclusive authority. (Ex 3:6, 15, 16.)

Our Lord, as a man, conformed himself to the requirements of the ritual law contained in Leviticus and Numbers. Sufficient importance has, perhaps, not been attached to this fact as evincing his acceptance of the inspired authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. But it must be specially noted that he expressly quotes Leviticus (Matt 15:4, Lev 20:9).

In the progress of his temptation by the devil in the desert, he employed the words of the Book of Deuteronomy as a complete answer to the insidious suggestions of the great adversary. (Deut 8:3; 6:13; 10:20.) There are, besides, other references which he makes to the same book.

It has thus been pointed out that our Lord endorsed the belief of the Jews in the inspired authority of the Pentateuch.

Refuting the charge of the Pharisees that his disciples had violated the Sabbath by plucking corn on that day, he cited the act of David, approved by the high priest, as recorded in 1 Samuel, “Have ye not read what David did?” (Matt 12:3); and in Matt 23:35, he virtually attests the inspired accuracy of all the historical books which narrated events from the death of Abel to that of Zacharias, the son of Bacharias. These books are charged with serious errors by the higher critics. The contrast of judgment is conspicuous.

In Matt 13:35 he expressly quotes David as a prophet, in Matt 21:16 he cites Psalm 8, and in Matt 21:42 he uses the words of Psa 118. It was previously shown that he employed the very words of Psa 82 and Psa 110 to clench his arguments, and now attention is called to the impressive fact that on the cross he used words from Psa 22 in making the most affecting appeal to God that was ever uttered, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” — “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He also in his dying agonies exclaimed, “I thirst,” and tasted the vinegar offered him, in fulfilment of the prediction in Psa 69, “And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

In the rebuke administered at the temple to the Pharisees and Sadducees for their profanation of tha sacred edifice, he cited the words of Isaiah, with his usual formula, It is written, “Mine house shall be called an house of prayer.” (Matt 16:13; Isa 56:7.) He took for the text of his memorable sermon at Nazareth the words of Isaiah, in which his anointing for his preaching office is so beautifully and sublimely portrayed, and in regard to which he said, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:16-21; Isa 61:1, 2.) In Matt 13:14 and 15:7, 8, he quotes the prophecy of Isaiah.

It is more than probable that in the words reported in Matt 15:24, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” he cited, or at least referred to Ezekiel 34.

In his discourses to his disciples concerning the last things, he quotes Daniel as an inspired prophet, whose prediction in regard to the temple at Jerusalem would certainly be fulfilled, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place.” (Matt 24:15.)

He twice quoted the prophet Hosea. (Matt 12:7 and Hosea 6:6.)

He assigned to the prophet Jonah a singular eminence as the only sign that would be given to the contemporary generation who denied his divine commission as the Messiah, and by the extraordinary significance which he attributed to him as a type of his own death and resurrection, stamped his approval of a narrative which has furnished occasion for cheap ridicule of blasphemous witlings. (Matt 12:39, 40; 16:4.)

He recognised the inspired authority of the prophet Malachi in his prediction touching the coming of Elijah. (Matt 17:10-12; Mal 4:5-6.)

It has thus with some care been proved that our adorable Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ authoritatively confirmed the belief of the Jews in the inspiration of their canonical books. It may be said that the enumeration is not complete – that the are Old Testament writers to whom he did not specifically refer. It is sufficient to reply that his endorsement of those enumerated guaranteed that of all, since were the others not of inspired authority, and therefore not entitled to a place in the canon, he would, as the true and faithful Teacher of his church, have admonished her of the fact, and put her on her guard against false pretenders to inspiration. But, further, it has been proved that he confirmed the classification by the Jewish church of her canonical books, grouped all the Scriptures into unity under the compendious designation of the Scripture, and under the title of the Scriptures set his seal upon all her sacred, authoritative writings.

The argument might properly be arrested at this point. The authority of Jesus Christ, the revealer of God’s will, the great Prophet of the church, the very source of all inspiration, ought to be decisive with those who revere his name. But the testimony of the New Testament writers, partaking as they did of the same inspiring Spirit with their Master (Acts 1:2, 5), will also be briefly adduced.

[Article continues, in detail.]

[Witlings is a new one on me.]

[It’s late on Saturday night so I haven’t spent much time checking for typos – esp in translating the chapter numbers out of roman numerals, which takes me much more effort than it really should.]