Friday, May 26, 2006

When justice is driven back

My brother-in-law and his wife are full-time Christian workers in southern Brazil. They recently posted this about the violence and corruption in the country where they have chosen to work.

The Lord of the Rings Cycle

I finished TLOTR again, and properly read the appendices for the first time. Well, most of them. I really like languages, but I can't get too enthused about the supposed derivation of several fictional ones and their script. Doubtless somebody will tell me how integral they are to the comprehension of Tolkein, but there you go. And I skipped the family trees, as well.

Some more thoughts on the film. I believe that the Peter Jackson trilogy represent a kind of definitive interpretation of the books for cinema. It's unlikely that anybody else will be prepared to spend the millions necessary to do new versions when such definitive versions have been made. One of the real strengths of the films, in my opinion, is the realisation of the characters. With books, a lot of characterisation happens in your imagination, and I know some people rather resent the fact that this interpretation of the books tells them what to think. But what tends to happen is that certain details get mentally filled in by the reader, but all the rest of it is out of focus. The films give some idea of the violence of orcs, for example, which in the books one tends not to dwell on. They illustrate the terrains in the different areas, and Jackson and co have worked hard to make most of the visual details accurate, which is an impressive feat. Particularly things like the Argonath and - is it Amon Sul? - the hill where Boromir tries to take the ring?

That doesn't mean, however, that there ought to be no further visual interpretations. It would be interesting to see whether anybody would be prepared to do a television series, say - each chapter as a one hour episode. That sounds a lot - but then "24" has made it into four or five series, and at one stage, somebody had to commit to making twenty-four episodes with no certainty that the investment would be recovered.

The tone of the episodes would be incredibly varied. Some would be almost all action, and some would be almost all dialogue. This sounds taxing on an audience, but I suspect that the story is compelling enough - and also, sufficiently well known - for such a format to pay its way.

Re-reading the books, it struck me again how much had to be sacrificed even to bring the books down to around 10 hours in length - and also how many subtle ways the plot had been distorted for the sake of the medium. As I've mentioned before, everybody remembers Tom Bombadil. But the whole stretch between Hobbiton and Rivendell is substantially different. In the book, it is Gandalf who pushes to go through Moria, whereas in the film, it is he who is most concerned about what lies there. The exodus from Edoras seems different - there aren't women and children in Helm's Deep in the book. And although the battle gets marginal above ground at Helm's Deep, a large section of the army of Rohan is still intact in the book, which comes out to join in the defeat of Saruman's army when the relieving forces arrive - things don't hang by quite the thread that is implied in the film. And the role of the Palantir in Minas Tirith is disregarded.

On the other hand, there were bits in the film that, on first glance, I didn't think had been in the book, and that Jackson had added just to make the film work better. But the connection between Eowyn and Aragorn was there - it was just that, being pre-adolescent when I read it, I hadn't noticed it. The doubt about whether Rohan will respond to Gondor isn't quite done as Jackson ran it - there is never any doubt in Tolkein's book that Rohan would choose to react to Gondor, because of the two nations' oaths to one another - but Gondor remains unsure that Rohan will react in the book because Gondor's messengers fail to get back from their mission.

I'm not sure about the bits at the end of the book. The scouring of the Shire is an interesting episode - you can see how this fits into the typical hero narrative, and it ties up a whole series of loose ends, but it is somewhat anticlimactic. I don't think that killing off Saruman at Orthanc (as Peter Jackson did, albeit only in the extended version) really did any damage to the narrative.

More another time - though I've already got enough "another time" stuff to fill up several days' worth of posts, so perhaps I'm being unrealistic ....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Windows XP SP2 reboot problem

(... being a selection of words that might get Googled, to help future sufferers ...)

I have spent several days doing battle with one of our computers to try and resolve an issue that arose.

It started with the PC rebooting itself on several occasions. Eventually, it would get as far as the "black screen", but then reboot before it reached the "blue screen" with user names on it.

First thoughts - perhaps a power supply problem (it was only 250 watts) or a motherboard problem. So I bought a new box with 400W PSU and a new motherboard/processor from Maplin, attached the same peripherals ... and the same thing happened.

Okay, so perhaps the installation of Windows was corrupted, by all these reboots before it was running properly. The HDD still worked, so I tucked it into another computer, and copied all the important files onto it, then I tried to reinstall Windows. That was fine to start with, until I installed SP2 - a bit of a battle even getting that far, because doing that much requires reducing the security on the network at home so that the original Windows XP can access the Internet, downloading and installing about 50 incremental updates, and waiting half an hour for SP2 to install. And then ... same symptoms.

Tried it with a new HDD. Same problem. Tried disconnecting everything, to see if it was a hardware fault somewhere else. Same problem.

Eventually, following one more trawl through Google results, I tried it with a different copy of Windows XP - one that had come bundled with a different computer. The usual hours spent updating it - and hey presto! It worked!

So what was going on? I think what had happened was that one of the drivers that was installed with the original installation violated a part of SP2 called Data Execution Prevention, and I had "installed the 32-bit version of Windows XP SP2 on a computer that supports hardware-enforced data execution prevention (DEP)." This may have been the DVD decoder that came with one of the bundled software packages - if so, it wasn't the mpegport.sys one referred to in the Microsoft bulletin. So with the same hardware but a different software package bundled from a different manufacturer, it worked.

How come the problem arose initially? I suspect that this wasn't the actual problem on the original computer, but that there may well have been a PSU problem - and it's just that this other problem became apparent when I tried to run it elsewhere.

Anyway, if you found this by googling because you are having a similar problem, all the best ....

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Eternal judgement

One of the issues that has arisen in the discussion below is how a being that had created things might chuck them into hell for eternity. Since the conventional wisdom is simply that heaven is "nice" and hell is "horrible", and this idea shapes people's ideas about God, I wanted to add a couple of remarks about this.

Firstly, if there is a God, and somebody has chosen to reject the idea of him being there, then to spend eternity in his presence is hardly preferable to spending eternity away from his presence. There is a line of argument that separation from the God who you have chosen to reject is, in a sense, a final act of mercy.

Secondly, as I was trying to convey in what I wrote in the thread, one of the fundamental "rules" for a god has to be, I think, that the god is consistent with his/her/its own nature - without this, any possibility of meaning and coherence within and beyond the universe goes by the wayside. This means that I suspect that it is far worse for the universe as a whole for God to tolerate things that are wrong than it is for him to be prepared to separate himself from his creatures forever. And, since a price has to be paid for sin, and the Bible concept is that God has done just that for anyone who wishes to be forgiven, you can hardly argue that the Christian God hasn't done what he could to stop free people going to hell, if they choose to seek him.

Thirdly, I think that the exact nature of hell isn't clearly specified. The "burning lake" of Revelation is apocalyptic language, which uses vivid imagery to convey theological truth. Certainly it is a place of regret and separation - which over eternity isn't good. But whether we should understand it to be a place of eternal acute physical torment, I'm not so sure. Personally. Having said that, it's not the case that I have any desire to go there! "The Great Divorce" by C.S.Lewis, in a narrative style, presents a case for, and something of the nature of, the Christian idea of hell - and argues that it is a lot more to do with separation from good things, including relationships. It is worth a read, if the idea of hell bothers you. Incidentally, it is fiction, and although it is helpful, it doesn't override the Bible.

Corkscrew, I'll try and respond more specifically to your comments in that thread when I get the chance .....

Monday, May 15, 2006

Alternate universes

An "Intelligent Design Under Fire" session is to take place at Biola University.

Here's what Scientific American says about it, and this as well. And here's what P.Z.Myers posted on it (what is it about his blog that makes me want to wash my hands having been there?).

Meanwhile, here's what Paul Nelson at ID: The Future said about the same challenge (that ID was rigging its own debate).

To summarize: one side says that ID has hand-picked a bunch of cushy opponents. The other side says that they aren't that cushy, but a whole slew of other people were invited and declined to show up.

"What is truth?"

Sunday, May 14, 2006

More interesting questions

Exploring ideas raised in a post below, here are some questions from Corkscrew, and quick responses.
OK, so I create an intelligent species of "Corkies" in a universe I've created, and I explain to them that I've created them, I have a right to expect they should acknowledge me as creator. A couple of questions:

1) Why? How does this "right" arise?

I'm not sure that "right" is the right word; I think it's more that this is inherent in the relationship. Probably the closest intuitively analogical relationship in "real life" is between parents and offspring. A denial of that relationship - either from the children to the parents, or the other way round - is incredibly painful, in human terms. And in any case (my wife says, kibbitzing) the relationship exists, whether it is acknowledged or not.

2) What about the 50:50 cases where I only create a proportion of each Corky, and import premade matter to complete the job? To what extent does this taint my intellectual property rights?
Don't know - depends where you got it from, and what bits. Again, thinking about parents and children, children develop their own personalities over the course of time. But that doesn't deny the role of the parent.

3) What else am I allowed to do to the Corkies? Can I:
a) Insist that they obey me in all things
b) Kill them
c) Torture them
d) Encourage them to abuse each other

Hmm, loaded questions, but in the context of this discussion, I'm not sure that they are sufficiently specific. If you create something genuinely free, then you can hardly expect that it will always choose to obey you in all things.* What do you mean by "kill them"? Is it killing a computer program to switch it off when it is running satisfactorily?** What do you mean by "torture them"? Do you mean that you might make something and then treat it in a way that is deliberately against its nature? I think that's about the best way of expressing it in a "creator/creature" relationship. That would strike me as a very odd reason to create something. What do you mean by "abuse each other"? Is that like the things you are talking about doing under the "torturing" heading, but to one another? I think you need more clarity in this question.

4) Are there any circumstances under which I could be considered to have forfeited my rights? For example, if I failed to make it clear to the Corkies that I had created them, would I still be justified in smiting them for not believing?
I think ... if you behaved inconsistently. The White Witch says that if she doesn't have the traitor's blood, then Narnia will be overturned. This sort of thinking - that God/creator is constrained to act in a way that is consistent with himself - seems to underlie a lot of theology. "If God is omnipotent, then can he make something that will destroy him?" Answer: no, because that would not be consistent with his nature. It's a bit like the post-modern problem - the only way that God can exist for one person but not exist for another is (ultimately) if you take away all meaning in language, which is going to make communication impossible. To get postmodernism to work, you have to dismantle the whole universe.

In other words, I think that logic and meaning have to work and apply to the creator, and if not, then the creator forfeits the right to expect a response from his creatures.

I think this applies to God's goodness as well. If God is good, then it would be inconsistent if he were to ignore evil. For God to ignore sin (behaviour that isn't consistent with his own nature) when he oversees the whole universe would be for him to be inconsistent with his own nature, and I think would destroy logic and meaning in the universe.
5) How many of the above questions did you answer by thinking "well, God's done this so it must be OK" rather than actually mulling over the ethical implications? That's the easiest question, but since you know what I would answer, I won't bother. However, it should be pointed out that your choice of language ("smiting", "believing") was hardly religiously unloaded!!

*... and in fact, God didn't. Adam and Eve chose not to obey God, and the rest of humanity followed. God didn't insist that they obeyed him. How can God:
a) allow humans the freedom to do things that are wrong
b) not destroy them and
c) be consistent with his own nature by not ignoring sin?

** Incidentally, if by "killing them" you mean "wiping out all trace of them", you aren't reflecting what the Bible says about humans. It argues that there is an eternal part of us - so if we die - if "God kills us" - the eternal part of us isn't lost.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Irreducible complexity in Scientific American

An article has been written in Scientific American which talks about irreducible complexity.

Okay, so it's not particularly the ID variety. It's in the March 2006 issue, and it's on "The Limits of Reason". The author, Gregory Chaitin, points out that Godel's Incompleteness Theorem "did for" the idea of maths as a unifying principle for knowledge, by demonstrating that there are statements in maths that can't be proved. He explores the idea that there are also numbers that are well defined, but can't be written down.

"Hang on," I hear you say, "aren't the square root of two and pi and other irrational numbers like that?" No - the point he is getting at is that you can write a short algorithm that will derive each of these. But you can't write a short algorithm that will derive other classes of numbers. So not only are they irrational, they also contain a lot of algorithmic information.

In actual fact, this article does have some relevance to ID. For example, in debates a few months ago here, we talked about whether random processes could generate meaningful amounts of information. Chaitin points out that "a useful theory is a compression of the data; comprehension is compression. You compress things into computer programs, into concise algorithmic descriptions. The simpler the theory, the better you understand something."

So take a random sequence of letters. The specification "means something in English" is fairly concise - even though the implementation of this in algorithmic terms is complex. However, to argue that "we can't exclude the possibility that this contains information in a conceivable code" doesn't mean that the letters contain more information - or may contain more information - because if the algorithmic complexity is high (the amount of programming required to demonstrate the information content), then the stream of letters is incompressible; they have no redundancy; "the best one can do is transmit them directly. They are called irreducible or algorithmically random."

I think that this article then effectively endorses some aspects of Dembski's arguments about the nature of complexity, and certainly seems to weaken some of the counter-analyses.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Freedom as creatures

A commenter has said that anything that, from a Christian perspective, all we experience is ultimately only "borrowed" from God - from this perspective, our emotions have no more substance than those of dolls at a children's tea party. A non-theistic perspective at least allows us to have our own emotions.

I think this underplays the Christian perspective, and it also overplays the non-Christian one. From a non-theistic perspective, our emotions, whilst they may not be derivative, have no significance. The fact that (for example) my wife matters so much to me, or that I care so much about people dying of AIDS in the developing world, amounts to a cosmic zero, because my consciousness is simply a by-product of my genes' struggle for survival - no, even that implies too much significance - the fact that over the course of time, some sequences of DNA are chemically more likely to reproduce than others. And ultimately the whole universe is a zero - a quantum fluctuation that happens to be here, but might just as easily not have been.

But people don't operate on that basis. They care for themselves - they make sure that they are sheltered, fed and even pampered, as far as they are able to. They make moral decisions - not believing that they are actually cosmic zeroes, but as though it actually matters. As before, I know that you can talk in terms of the evolutionary advantages of altruism and love, and so on, but the problem is that every term needs to be replaced with zeroes. Altruism is zero. Love is zero. Evolution is zero. Everything is zero - because if not long before, at the time of the heat death of the universe, there will be nothing left. No matter what other factors you use, zero is one of them - so the product is always zero. I am not satisfied with the atheistic worldview because I don't believe that people genuinely operate as though it is true.

What about from a Christian perspective, then? Can we get past the idea of derivative emotions - that they have no significance because they are only what God has put there?

In the past, I have used the analogy of a computer program and a programmer to think about the relationship between us as created and a god as creator. Supposing a program is written to evaluate some data, in some circumstances, and make an assessment of the characteristics of the writer that have been specified. Supposing that it says: "J. Smith, who wrote this program, is cool." From the program's point of view, this reflects a genuine interpretation of data, a conclusion that it freely came to. From the perspective of the programmer, he may be able to say: "Well, the program was always going to come to that conclusion."

As a Christian, I believe that God has "programmed" us, and that he does know how we are going to respond, and what the outcome of all our decisions is - I have a strong view of the sovereignty of God. But whilst I have that view, I don't know what God's purposes are. I don't know what God intends to happen. And as far as I am concerned, the decisions I make are freely made. Our response may be deterministic, as far as God is concerned, but God's hand is so imperceptible that from my perspective it is indistinguishable from me being free. I am far freer in what I express than any computer program, let alone any doll at a child's tea party.

You only have to look at the Bible to see that this is a fair reflection of the nature of things. Would Adam and Eve really have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil if they had known what would happen? Would Judas really have betrayed Jesus if he had known what would happen next? Would you have? And yet, Jesus had pretty much told him that he was going to be betrayed. The contrast between "the purposes of evil men" and "the foreknowledge of God" is brought out strongly in Peter's sermons in Acts.

I think this is why the narrative idea of nemesis/destiny/fate is so strong, in all sorts of cultures (Shakespeare, Tolkein, Homer, ... er, Rowling). People know that this is how the world is - that regardless of the freedom that they perceive, there are "forces at work" which bring about particular ends. From a Christian perspective, those forces are embodied in the sovereignty of God.

The idea of the Christian God, and human nature is stronger than that. We are created - but we are created to respond as we choose. Imagine a better computer program, now - one that can evaluate data about everybody in the world, and come to a conclusion about who its "favourite" person is. Supposing this program still concluded that the writer was a cool person: wouldn't the programmer be more satisfied with its response, even though (in principle) it is possible to establish that it was always going to say that? How good would a computer program have to be before the programmer would "take delight" in its responses?

A program has an "About..." box, which includes copyright and licence details. Supposing somebody hacks into the program, and replaces the contents of the About box with his own details. Would not the original programmer be rightfully angry with the hacker?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Coyne: bovvad?

This follows on from an earlier post. If you want to know what this discussion is about, see the comments following this post. I'm afraid that this is a bit train-of-thoughty and unstructured.

George Coyne, the Vatican astronomer, has dismissed Intelligent Design as (in effect) anti-Christian. Now Coyne was working from his own presuppositions - namely, that God (pretty much) doesn't intervene in the universe. Only he didn't even realise that these presuppositions were there. Few people do. One of my missions in life is to make people aware of their presuppositions.

The thing is, those people who deny the possibility of God working in the universe (if that's what it comes down to - that is, God involved in creation, miracles, resurrection) have moved so far from the Christian faith that they can no longer realistically be called Christians. It doesn't matter whether he is the Vatican astronomer or not - in fact, his job is a distraction. It doesn't matter whether the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury (or Bishop of Durham, a few years ago), Ian Paisley, me or the minister of my church denies that God is able to work in the universe. Whoever says that is denying the Christian faith, which says that God created the universe, and "he does whatever he pleases". This isn't "anti-science" - because God has made the universe by and large tractable to our human minds.

Incidentally, if you don't believe in God, the tractability of the universe causes you problems - it was no less a person than Einstein who said, "The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it's comprehensible." It's not only that we can understand and take our place in our environment, like animals do - but we can understand in scientific terms the Big Bang, quasars and quarks. You can doubtless make up some evolutionary story as to why there is a selective advantage in us being able to do this - because you can make up evolutionary stories to explain everything. But since this level of comprehension of the universe has at the very least not been extended to any other creature by evolution, I am pretty sceptical about the strength of post-hoc evolutionary explanations.

Furthermore, we are in the ironic situation where there are some scientists who are saying "despite the appearance of design, things aren't designed by intelligent processes" - which some theologians are then presenting as, "despite the appearance of non-design, we see the involvement of God through faith [i.e. as an irrational postmodern leap of faith]". In other words, theologians are arguing that our appreciation of God in the universe is fundamentally an irrational act.

Now, I don't think that belief in God is irrational and unreasonable. In fact, I think that the natures of the universe and personality are strongly indicative of an infinite-personal deity, and that supposedly Christian people who deny that have been cowed into submission by the naturalistic worldview of academia around them. Furthermore, this seems to me to be consistent with what the Bible teaches - not just by picking out a verse or two as a proof text, but looking at the structure of the argument in Romans 1 (that evidence of God is obvious, but people suppress what they know, and as judgement, God closes their mind even further): 1 Corinthians - the first bit - where Paul talks about the fact that the Greeks look for knowledge (rationalism) and the Jews look for wonders (an "experience" of God) but Christianity is foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews: and Acts 17, for example, where Paul addresses the Greeks and points out to them that if there is really a god, then he is hardly likely to be impressed by people making statues of him.

Also, because of what God is like, there is an artificial dichotomy between "supernatural" and "natural". As far as the Bible is concerned, God's power is as much involved in the maintenance of the universe (causing the sun to rise, making sure that wild animals have food etc) as he is in the miraculous. What naturalism seeks to do is to say that the maintenance of the universe is automatic (and doesn't require God) and the supernatural never happened. This isn't consistent with the Bible, and really, as far as I can tell, has no sound empirical foundation. It works, as long as you are able to deny the supernatural, but there is no reason for it to work, and intellectually it is no more nor less arbitrary than belief in God. Oh, I suppose that you can invoke Occam's Razor to deny the fact that God is there. But if you're going to do that, why not keep on shaving until you get rid of us as well?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Bono vs Dogbert

It's always a bit disconcerting when two people you have so much respect for meet each other - how will they get on?


If I hear two good songs from an album, then the chances are I'll buy it. If I like an album from an artist, then there's a good chance that I'll also buy the next one or the previous one. That's how come I downloaded Tess Wiley's "Not Quite Me" and then "Rainy Day Assembly" - about which more another time.

I can't remember what led me to buy the Corrs' "Talk on Corners". It wasn't the smug, tedious "So Young", nor was it the unedifying "Runaway" - so I guess, in terms of singles, "What can I do" probably had most to do with it.

There are, however, two excellent tracks on it. "Queen of Hollywood" is good, but the band just doesn't quite have the passion that the singer and the words demand. But "Intimacy" is one of the most amazing songs not only sung by the Corrs, but by anyone.

The writing credits aren't theirs, unlike many of the songs on their albums (though they also borrowed Hendrix's "Little Wing", and somewhat gaelified it). The writers credited are Rick Nowels and Neil Geraldo. The first verse has words of uncertainty in the night:
Last night before you fell asleep
You whispered something to me
Was it just a dream?
I’m gonna listen to you close
Cause your goodnight kiss
Felt like a ghost

What are you trying to say to me?
What are you trying to say?

Everybody’s searching for intimacy
Everybody’s hurting for intimacy
... and the rest of the song looks at the loneliness of the world, and the need for somebody to share that loneliness with.

We come into this world alone
From the heart of darkness
The infinite unknown
We’re only here a little while
And I feel safe and warm
When I see your smile

Baby don’t move away from me
Baby don’t pull away

Remember when you were a child
And your momma would hold you in her arms
And rock you to sleep
Now darling there’s just you and I
Let’s give each other everything, baby baby...

Everybody’s searching for intimacy
Everybody’s hurting for intimacy
Baby come and lay down next to me...
Everybody’s searching for intimacy
Companionship, and especially marriage, are gifts from God, and integral to who we are as human beings, so that this lonely, fragmented world need not be. The uncertainty, nervousness and suspicion that is the undercurrent of this song is the experience of too many people. The song is powerful because it lays bare the emotions that so many people suppress for so much of the time.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

If ID is religion, then opposition is discrimination

At Telic Thoughts, Joy pointed out the following.

1) The Dover vs Kitzmiller trial demonstrated, to the satisfaction of many opponents of Intelligent Design, that ID is religious, not scientific.

2) There are people (such as P.Z.Myers) who are prepared to veto tenure appointments simply on the grounds that somebody believes in ID - they don't even need to teach it.

3) Given 1 above, this represents religious discrimination, which is not constitutionally permissible.

I can't see a logical fault in this argument - that if somebody holds that Judge Jones' verdict is sound, then discrimination of the sort talked about by P.Z.Myers is not permissible. Unfortunately, the discussion in the comments section ended up sidetracked by discussion about Jehovah's Witnesses and blood donation, vegetarianism and interpretation of the Bible. But this meant that the real discussion ceased about a third of the way into the comments.

Now, I don't think that the verdict was sound, and I am not pleading "religious discrimination." But what I want to know is how those people who think the verdict is sound can believe that P.Z.Myers' attitude can be acceptable, on constitutional grounds.

Monday, May 01, 2006

"Songs of Praise" Top 10

"Songs of Praise" is the BBC flagship religious programme, and it has been running since 1961. On Sunday, the programme counted down the nation's favourite hymns/songs, as voted for by viewers of SoP. I thought I'd chip in my two penn'orth, since they didn't bother to interview me.

10. Shine Jesus Shine (Graham Kendrick)
Kendrick has written much better. But this is the one that everybody knows, and probably one of the few modern Christian songs that has become widely known amongst non-Christians, by virtue of weddings and school assemblies. Would not have been in my top 10.

9. In Christ alone (Stuart Townend)
This would certainly have been in my top 10 - probably pretty high. An outstanding modern hymn.

8. Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer
... with the Welsh tune "Cwm Rhondda", no doubt. Would probably be in my top 10 - there would have to be several good Welsh tunes there. The words do it no harm, either.

7. Make me a channel of your peace
Not in my top 10. Another favourite for weddings and schools. I'll probably get shot for this, but I think St. Francis is a bit drippy, really. But then, I'm not really into all this escaping from the world by taking holy orders, and I don't think he really took the Bible very seriously.

6. Be still for the presence of the Lord
Sigh. If you're going to pick modern songs, make them good ones, not just OK ones. This would not have been in my top 10.

5. Love divine
Definitely pick the Welsh tune (Blaenwern) over the original one. I wonder if people chose it for the words or just for the tune?

4. Be thou my vision
A bit of Celtish influence, and a reminder that profound Christian expression doesn't only come after the Reformation.

3. The day thou gavest
Very stirring song, but again, wouldn't be in my top 10.

2. Dear Lord and Father of mankind
The programme noted the fact that this poem was written because the writer didn't approve of hymn singing. Ironic. Quite a nice hymn, but I always had problems choosing it because of the blatant disregard of the author's intention.

1. How Great thou art
Hmm. I guess that this might appear on a list of my 100 favourite, but I don't think it would make the top 10.

So what ought to have been there? I'm surprised that "Amazing grace" wasn't there. Or "When I survey the Wondrous Cross". Or "My song is love unknown." What about "And can it be?" In my own list, I would have chosen "There is a day", "I'll praise my maker while I've breath" and "All I once held dear". Possibly "When the Lord in glory comes". Possibly "Immortal honours rest on Jesus' head". So there you go.

On the SoP website, they also have an interview with Rev. James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, on God's grace, which even makes reference to the U2 song of the same name.