Sunday, October 14, 2018

Why I Believe In The God Of The Bible

Earlier this year, I had cancer. Thankfully, it was only a stage one melanoma that was easily removed, but to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, the possibility of death concentrates the mind wonderfully. Some of the things that my mind concentrated on were God, the afterlife and whether my own religious beliefs reflected the true path to heaven.

I’ve been a Christian for most of my life and at times it has occurred to me that, for most of us, our religious beliefs are somewhat hereditary. We are Christians or Muslims or Jews or Buddhists because we were raised in families and communities that followed those traditions. For something as important as the final destination of our immortal souls, we should probably look beyond what our family and neighbors believe and seek out the objective truth.

I’m a rational and logical person. Generally, when making decisions and forming opinions, I look for objective facts. Religion is no different. If we base our religious beliefs solely on subjective feelings and emotions, then we can’t be sure that we have the truth. Adherents of all religions feel that they have the truth, but they can’t all be right.

Investigating God and religion is actually a two-stage process. The first question is whether God and the spirit world exists at all. When that question is answered in the affirmative, the second question is which of the myriad religions comes closest to accurately reflecting the true message that God has given us. In my case, I’ve had several incidents in my life that proved the existence of the spirit world beyond my doubt so the question was whether Christianity truly represented God’s plan.

Determining whether writings and beliefs about something as intangible as spirits are true can be difficult, but the Bible actually contains some good and objective advice on how this can be accomplished. Deuteronomy 18:21-22 says, “If the word [of a prophet] does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken.” It turns out that determining truth is actually pretty easy. Just look to seek if prophecies match reality.

Objective research should include listening to both sides of an argument as well as considering alternatives. Objectively, religious claims cannot be used to prove themselves. External, impartial evidence should be used to corroborate religious claims. Not every statement made by religious texts is verifiable, but many are. Differences in language and points of view between the ancient writers and modern readers should be considered as we do so.

For example, there are several statements in the Quran that are at odds with modern science. The Quran claims that the earth is flat and that semen “comes out from between the backbone and the ribs.” The Quran also claims that there are seven planets. Muslim apologists have explanations for these passages, but these claims seem to be irrefutably wrong. Such mistakes seem inconsistent with a book that Muslims believe “exists today in the precise form and content in which it was originally revealed.” Likewise, the historical claims made in the Book Of Mormon fail to match archaeological fact.

With respect to prophetic claims, a list of fulfilled prophecies from the Quran seems very vague and open to interpretation. Another fulfilled prophecy, a great fire “in the land of the Hijaz which will illuminate the necks of the camels in Busra,” occurred some 640 years after Mohammed’s death, but is not actually recorded in the Quran.

In contrast, many of the historical claims of the Bible can be verified by archaeology. “The Bible as History” by Werner Keller is a classic text that describes much of the scientific evidence for the historical books of the Old Testament. King David, long thought by many to be a myth, is referenced in an inscription commemorating the victories of an Aramean king that was discovered in 1993. “Patterns of Evidence,” a 2015 documentary, provides plausible evidence for the Exodus by postulating that scholars were looking at the wrong dates in history.

When it comes to science, there are many claims that the Bible is in error. A representative list can be found here on Rational Wiki. Unlike Islam’s scientific claims, most of the problems have simple solutions. Some purported Biblical errors are due to a literal reading of passages that weren’t intended to be taken literally. For example, in Matthew 13:31-21, Jesus is not making the claim that there are no seeds physically smaller than a mustard seed, but that is the message that some critics get from the verse. Another example is Leviticus 11:20-23 in which the Biblical description of insects differs from the modern scientific definition. This problem is easily resolved by considering the differences in language between the Bible’s writers, later translators and modern readers. Deuteronomy 20:16-18 is held up as an error because DNA studies show that ancient Canaanites survived the Israelite invasion. The Deuteronomy verse shows that the Israelites were commanded to kill the Canaanites, but other verses, such as Judges 3:5-8 show that they failed to do so.

A claim that the Bible violates mathematic law is also dependent on assumptions by the reader. Critics claim that the large bowl described in 1 Kings 7:23-26 could not have existed because the measurements don’t fit the mathematic equation for circumference. If the Bible is right, they claim, pi would have to equal 3.0 instead of 3.14. Leaving aside rounding error and the lack of a standard measurement, the critics fail to note that the description of the brim of the bowl was “a handbreadth thick.” The equation could be thrown off by the difference between the inner and outer dimensions of the brim.

With respect to prophecy, the Bible makes numerous specific prophecies that can be tested against historical records for accuracy. Rational Wiki also provides a list of Biblical prophecies that the authors claim were in error. As even the compilers of the list acknowledge, some of these prophecies were contingent on the behavior of the recipients of the message. The classic example is Jonah’s prophecy that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days. The prophecy fulfilled its intended purpose when the people of Nineveh repented and so the prophecy was never fulfilled. Similarly, some prophecies are end-time prophecies that have not been fulfilled yet.

A more difficult case is the prophecy that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy the city of Tyre in Ezekiel 26. Critics say that the destruction of Tyre never happened and that the city continues to exist today on an island in contradiction to the prophecy. Archaeological evidence, however, suggests that the city of Tyre was primarily a mainland city in ancient days. Nebuchadnezzar apparently destroyed the mainland portion of the city while some survivors escaped to the island, which was later destroyed by Alexander the Great. One view is that fulfillment of the prophecy was begun by Nebuchadnezzar and completed by Alexander. Interestingly, verse 12 sounds like a very specific description of how Alexander used the rubble of the destroyed city to build a causeway to the island and finish Tyre’s destruction.

A few chapters later, in Ezekiel 29:17-20, the prophet talks about the destruction of Tyre as if it has already happened. In the same passage, he says that Nebuchadnezzar will defeat Egypt. This happened in 605 BC at the Battle of Carchemish.  Critics argue that Babylon never completely conquered Egypt, but the prophecy merely says that Nebuchadnezzar would plunder his enemy. Two other passages, Ezekiel 30 and Isaiah 19 are also cited as prophecies that were erroneous. The opinion of many theologians is that these are end-time prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled.

To me, one of the most compelling proofs of the Bible is what Rabbi Jonathan Cahn calls “the anti-witness” in his devotional book, “The Book of Mysteries.” Cahn points out that if the biblical claim that the Jews are God’s chosen people is not true, there would be no reason for the age-old persecution of Jews. Instead, we find that Jews not only have been the subject of attempts at racial extermination throughout history but that they have survived as a genetically and culturally distinct group more than 2,000 years after Judah ceased to exist as an independent kingdom.

A friend recently pointed out to me the historical evidence that God used hostile nations to judge the Jews, but then judged those nations in turn because they attacked his chosen nation. The pattern repeats many times. Egypt, a longtime enemy of ancient Israel, was conquered several times by Assyria, Persia and finally Rome in 31 BC. After the death of Solomon, ancient Israel split into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. The kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria around 740 BC. Assyria became the conquered less than 150 years later in 612 BC at the hands of Medo-Persians and Babylonians. Judah was conquered by Babylon in 586 BC. Only 50 years later in 539 BC, Babylon fell to the Persians led by Cyrus the Great. In AD 70, Rome recaptured Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish temple at the culmination of the First Jewish Revolt. Nine years later, Mt. Vesuvius erupted during a festival celebrating Vulcan, the god of fire. This eruption, which destroyed Pompeii and several other cities, still ranks as one of the worst volcanic disasters in history. In 1945, Germany’s extermination of Jews was interrupted by the country’s total defeat at the hands of the Allies. Since World War II, the modern state of Israel is undefeated even against numerically superior Arab forces. Clearly, making war on the Jews can be harmful to your health.

When it comes to determining the truth and validity of the Bible, there is an added complexity. The Bible is not one book but is actually an anthology that is broken into two parts: The Old and New Testaments. While many of the details of the Old Testament can be verified through archaeology, the New Testament largely consists of theological books and the story of Yeshua, a Jewish carpenter better known to the world as Jesus. These themes do not lend themselves to archaeological fact-checking.

Accordingly, some claim today that Jesus never existed and is only a fictional character. This point is easily disproved through ancient writings that reference Jesus as a real person. Validating Jesus’s claims of divinity are more difficult to prove, however.

Even though the New Testament books weren’t written down until long after the death (and alleged resurrection of Jesus), there is evidence that Paul’s letters contain early church creeds that confirm that the message of the books written later was true to the story of Jesus. The evidence is that the content of the New Testament has been unchanged since the first century.

Skeptics also dispute the gospel claims about the death and resurrection of Jesus, the foundation of the Christian faith. The details of gospel story have been thoroughly investigated and found plausible by such one-time skeptics as Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, and J. Warner Wallace. I encourage any seeker to read their answers to skeptical charges that the gospel accounts are unreliable.

No matter how much evidence there is, in the final analysis there is no definitive proof for spiritual matters. Ultimately, everyone has to make a decision as to what they believe and how to react to that belief. Belief itself is not enough. James 2:19 points out that even the demons believe in God. Forgiveness and salvation only come when we add submission to God’s authority to our belief (Romans 10:9).

Even though I cannot offer conclusive proof that the Bible is true and that Jesus is the only way to heaven, I have made the choice to believe and accept that truth. This faith is not a blind faith. It’s based on a preponderance of the evidence.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, October 12, 2018

Kanye Is Not A 'Token Negro'... Or A Hero

Once again, Kanye West’s bromance with President Trump has triggered knee-jerk reactions on both sides of the political spectrum. The response from many on the left was nothing short of racist while Republicans once again showed their willingness to overlook a host of bizarre behavior in order to embrace a celebrity who says nice things about Donald Trump.

On one hand, Don Lemon and his guests on CNN treated West shamefully. The rapper was bombarded with racial slurs by several CNN commentators after his Oval Office meeting with the president.

“Kanye West is what happens when negroes don’t read,” said Bakari Sellers, a former state legislator from South Carolina who was a guest on the show.

The worst comments came from CNN correspondent Tara Setmayer, however. Setmayer called West an “attention whore” and the “the token Negro of the Trump administration.” She also said that “black folks are about to trade Kanye in the racial draft.”

The comments about West are racist on their face. It is racist and stereotypical by definition to assume that someone must hold particular political beliefs because of the color of their skin. As of this writing, however, CNN has neither disciplined Lemon or Setmayer nor condemned the comments made on the show.

There is substance to the claims that Kanye has mental problems. West revealed last June that he has been diagnosed with a “mental condition” and has made references to being bipolar. It is, however, reprehensible to equate mental illness with wearing a MAGA hat.

On the other hand, just because West wears a MAGA hat does not make him someone that conservatives should put on a pedestal. Kanye may be a Trump supporter, but that does not make him a conservative. West’s Oval Office monologue may have contained some good points, but it also contained some bizarre ones.

Put simply, Kanye West is a nut. Self-proclaimed to be the “voice of this generation,” West has also claimed that he is “a close high” to the Most High, Jesus Christ. If that lyric left any doubt, the song, from the album “Yeezus,” is called “I Am A God” and also contains the lyric “I am a god” repeated no less than 12 times. The song closes with the line, “Ain't no way I'm giving up on my god.” I would argue that anyone who claims to be a god is incompatible with a party that claims to Christian.

Beyond his love for Donald Trump, West is not even politically reliable. Although his love for Trump and his “male energy” appears genuine, West still says, as recently as his meeting with Trump yesterday, “I love Hillary” and there seems to be little evidence that West holds or even understands conservative political positions.

As if to underscore his instability, after leaving the White House West apparently went to an Apple store in the District of Columbia and climbed up on a table to deliver a “keynote” address. Amazingly, no one seems to have videoed the speech although a reporter for Religion News Service tweeted pictures and a running commentary of the event. Kanye reportedly said that he made a hat for Trump that said “Made America Great,” notably omitting the word “again” from the slogan, and then announced that he was leaving for Africa.

The great Kanye-troversy of 2018 is another case in which both sides make themselves look bad. The liberal attacks on West are a clear attempt to demonize any dissent from ethnic groups that the Democrats claim as their own. The Democratic Party knows that if the bloc of black voters is broken, it will be practically impossible to elect anyone from their increasingly radical and, dare I say it, crazy party.

For Republicans, Kanye is another example of how low the party has set the bar for its idols. The only conservative credential that West has is the fact that he wears a MAGA hat and likes President Trump. When Republicans applaud Kanye West for praising President Trump only a few days after they condemn Taylor Swift for using her celebrity status to stump for Democrats, it makes them look like hypocrites.

The bottom line here is that celebrities have the right to speak about politics, the same as anyone else. The best solution for both sides is let them have their say and then ignore them.  

Originally published on The Resurgent

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Heidi Heitkamp On Civility

As the Democratic Party appears to be devolving into a pitchfork-wielding mob, at least one Democrat official is willing to stand against the rising tide of incivility and violent rhetoric. North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp yesterday rebuked Hillary Clinton’s statement that Democrats could not be civil with Republicans as “ridiculous.”

Earlier this week, failed presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said on CNN, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That's why I believe if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that's when civility can start again.”

The embattled North Dakota senator responded to Clinton’s comments on Anderson Cooper’s show, also on CNN, saying, “That's ridiculous.  I mean I can't imagine how you get anything done if you don't bring civility back into politics, and that goes for both sides.”

Heitkamp’s newfound ability to speak out against heated Democrat rhetoric may be related to a bevy of bad polls in her reelection campaign. Heitkamp was trailing her Republican challenger even before she announced her opposition to Brett Kavanaugh. Since September, she has trailed by double-digits. Heitkamp’s seat represents one of the best chances for Republicans to flip a Senate seat this November.

To be fair, however, Heitkamp, a red state Democrat, is not a typical liberal. In 2016, Donald Trump reportedly considered her for a cabinet position as Secretary of Agriculture. Since then, she has voted with Trump about half the time and her support for a bill reforming Dodd-Frank earned her a public thank you from the Koch brothers. A GovTrack ranking of senators puts her almost squarely in the middle of the Senate and more conservative than Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Sen. Heitkamp’s call for civility may not be enough to save her seat, but it is nonetheless refreshing to hear. If the North Dakota voters choose to bring her home, the real loser will be the Democratic Party, where moderate voices are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Originally published on The Resurgent

FBI Foils Election Day Bomb Plot

There has been a lot of talk lately about incivility and the potential for violence in the current political climate. Yesterday, the danger came sharply into focus when the FBI arrested Paul Rosenfeld for plotting to blow himself up on the National Mall in Washington, DC on Election Day.

Per NBC News, Paul Rosenfeld of Tappan, N.Y. was arrested by the FBI after sending text messages and letters to a reporter in Pennsylvania last August and September. In the messages, Rosenfeld threated to publicly detonate a bomb on the mall to kill himself. The reporter notified law enforcement and Rosenfeld was promptly arrested. In a search of his home, authorities discovered a bomb containing eight pounds of black powder. Crating and other components increased the total weight of the bomb to 200 pounds.

Rosenfeld, who was unhappy with the direction of the country, planned the attack to draw attention to his political beliefs. Was he promoting a radical leftist ideology or was he a right-wing militant? Neither, as it turns out.

Rosenfeld believed in sortition. What the heck is “sortition,” you ask? Sortition is a political system in which representatives are chosen by lot rather than by election or appointment. In such a system, a random sample of regular citizens becomes responsible for government decisions. The system was used in ancient Athens to determine members of courts and councils.

Paul Rosenfeld was ready to sacrifice his life because he wanted government representatives to be randomly selected people rather than political elites. If Rosenfeld would give his life for such a belief, how many other Americans would give their lives to stop what they are told is an attempt to destroy their country and their way of life?

Authorities believe that Rosenfeld acted alone. I would also speculate that he may be suffering from some sort of mental illness. Mental illness is also a frequent factor in the mass shootings that seem to plague modern society.

After his arrest, Rosenfeld confessed to the plot and told the FBI that he did not intend to hurt anyone else. He only planned to kill himself.

"Had he been successful, Rosenfeld’s alleged plot could have claimed the lives of innocent bystanders and caused untold destruction," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney.

The foiled bomb plot underscores the danger present in the current heated environment. Although Rosenfeld’s ideology seems divorced from reality, it is often unhinged radicals who convince themselves to pull the trigger on violence.

As Sen. Rand Paul warned this week, with violent rhetoric common on both sides, “I really worry that somebody is going to be killed and that those who are ratcheting up the conversation ... they have to realize they bear some responsibility if this elevates to violence.”

Thus far, law enforcement has been able to intervene and stop most violent plots but there have been exceptions such as the attack on the Republican baseball team and the white-supremacist car attack on protesters at Charlottesville.

The sheer number of angry activists and people with mental problems in the US means that more political violence and bloodshed is certain to occur. When it does, we should pray that the act does not ignite the powder keg on which the nation is currently perched.

Originally published on the Resurgent

McConnell Says No Republican Senator Will Replace Sessions

There has been a lot of speculation that President Trump will fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the midterm elections. Now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has weighed in on the matter of a possible replacement for Sessions.

A replacement for Sessions, McConnell told the AP, is “not going to come from our caucus, I can tell you that.”

McConnell’s objections to losing a Republican senator to the Department of Justice seemed more grounded in political practicality than in an ethical problem related to Trump’s reasons for dismissing Sessions. McConnell cited the Republicans’ slim 51-49 majority as a reason for not referring a Senate Republican to Trump for the job. When rogue Republicans such as Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are considered, the Republican majority often evaporates quickly.

McConnell is undoubtedly concerned about replacing a Senate Republican in the current political climate. When a special election was held for Jeff Sessions’ Alabama seat, Republican voters rejected his appointed successor, Luther Strange, in favor of Roy Moore, who ended up losing in the general election to Doug Jones.

If he waits until after the election to fire Sessions, President Trump may have a hard time getting a replacement confirmed. Current Senate polling suggests that Republicans have the upper hand in the battle for control of the body, but Democrats remain within striking distance. Even if the appointment goes to the current Congress, some Republican senators would likely refuse to cooperate with an attempt to oust Sessions. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in August that he found it “really difficult to envision any circumstance” in which he would vote to confirm a successor to Sessions.

McConnell did not address any effect that firing Sessions might have on the Mueller probe but did argue that the current Congress has been “extraordinarily accomplished.” He cited tax reform, regulatory reform, changes to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and the appointment of numerous conservative judges to federal courts as well as a bipartisan bill to combat the opioid crisis.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Should Polls Be Trusted?

It’s election season. A time when the fancy of political prognosticators turns to opinion polling. Polls are one of the only objective measures of how a race is looking before the official votes are cast, but there is always a question of whether polling is reliable.

Especially since Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in 2016, many consider polls unreliable. The truth is that the polls in 2016 weren’t off as far as many think they were. The popular vote corresponded almost exactly to the national polls in which Hillary Clinton led by about two percentage points. At the state level, Trump eked out victories in a number of states where Hillary led in the polls, but polling in most of those states showed a very close race. Wisconsin, where polling showed Hillary up by about eight points, is the exception. Data from the American Association for Public Opinion Research shows that much of the error was due to a final-week surge after James Comey released his letter to Congress on Oct. 28, 2016.

As I have written before, polls should neither be believed absolutely nor totally discarded. The best strategy is to take each individual poll with a grain of salt. Rather than focusing on a single poll, look for trends. This is easy to do with sites such as Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight that provide comprehensive lists of polls as well as averaging their results. Another good strategy is to discard outliers, single polls that show a radically different result from the rest.

The best way to judge the accuracy of polls is to compare them to the final election results. Since polls are snapshots that record a moment in time, rather than forecasts, this can be done by looking at the polls taken just before the election. Fortunately, RCP and FiveThirtyEight both keep their polling data posted for past elections.

If we compare polling for the four special elections held so far this year with the actual election results, this is what we find:

Pennsylvania’s 18th district was the first special election held this year. It pitted Democrat Conor Lamb against Republican Rick Saccone for the seat of Tim Murphy, a Republican who resigned due to a sex scandal. RCP showed Lamb leading by two to four points in two of the last three polls, giving him an average advantage of two points. When the results were in, Lamb won by 0.4 points.

Next, Hiral Tipimeni (D) and Debbie Lesko (R) vied for the seat of Trent Franks, a Republican who resigned after being accused of sexual harassment for asking to impregnate female staffers. For this race in Arizona’s sixth district, RCP shows two polls. Lesko led in both by an average of eight points. On Election Day, Lesko won by 5.2 points. The 2.8-point difference is the largest error of the three elections.

In the third special election, the race for Texas’ 27th district, there seem have been no public polls. This is not surprising since the district is reliably Republican and was carried by Donald Trump by almost 20 points.

The fourth election was in Ohio’s 12th district where Republican Pat Tiberi resigned to lead the American Business Roundtable. Democrat Danny O’Connor and Republican Troy Balderson ran to fill the seat in this closely watched race. Polling in the race was mixed, especially in the final days. The last two polls showed each candidate up by one point and the RCP average was a tie. Balderson won by 0.8 points.

While polls aren’t expected to be exact or forecast the exact outcome on Election Day, special election polling in 2018 has been pretty good. Over three separate races, the average error for the average of polls was only 1.7 percentage points. Considering that the polls in some races were taken weeks before the election and late-breaking events, such as President Trump’s visit to Ohio three days before the election, can cause voters to change their minds, the results are remarkably accurate.

Don’t assume that every poll that you see is gospel, but if you want an idea of how elections are going to play out, there is no substitute for a close look at the polls. The bottom line is that if candidates didn’t think polls were valuable tools, they wouldn’t pay for them.

For more information on how to skeptically read polls, read this earlier article from The Resurgent.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Podcast Review: The Other Kennedy Assassination

When you hear the phrase, “the Kennedy assassination,” your mind automatically jumps to Dealey Plaza in Dallas, home of the Texas School Book Depository and workplace of a mousy little communist named Lee Harvey Oswald. Given the outsized place that the death of John F. Kennedy holds in American history, it is not surprising that the assassination of his brother Robert Kennedy is all but forgotten.

For those of you who, like me, are not well acquainted with the murder of RFK, a new podcast provides a fascinating look at the crime, the criminal and the possibility of a conspiracy. The podcast is called the “RFK Tapes” and features an investigation by Zac Stuart Pontier and Bill Klaber into the assassination of JFK’s younger brother.

On June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy, who had served as JFK’s attorney general, was the junior senator from New York and he seemed to be on top of the world. That day he clinched the Democratic nomination for president with twin primary victories in California and South Dakota. Afterward, he went to a celebration at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. A few hours later, he was dead.

The assassin was Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian Arab who was born in Jerusalem to a Christian family. Sirhan was a Jordanian citizen who had come to the US with his family as a child, 12 years before he killed Kennedy. He spent his early years in the West Bank where he was traumatized by violence, including the death of his older brother, from the Arab-Israeli wars. His early years left Sirhan with a deep dislike for Israel that became a motive for the assassination.

There is little doubt that Sirhan was involved in the assassination. Witnesses saw him fire his .22 pistol at Kennedy in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel. He was apprehended at the scene by onlookers, who disarmed him after he had emptied his gun. A journal was found at his house where Sirhan had written that “RFK must die” because of his support for Israel. Sirhan even confessed to the police after his arrest and asked to plead guilty to the murder.

Similar to the assassination of JFK, the question became whether Sirhan was the sole perpetrator or whether there was a conspiracy. The main evidence for a conspiracy is the possibility that more than eight bullets were fired during the melee in the hotel kitchen when Sirhan’s gun only had an eight-round capacity. There is also the mysterious “girl in the polka dot dress” who several witnesses claim to have seen. Finally, there are questions about ballistics such as whether Sirhan was close enough to account for powder burns on Kennedy’s body and whether the angle of bullet entry matches Sirhan’s position in the kitchen.

Some episodes of the podcast present seemingly bizarre theories, such as the idea that Sirhan was the victim of hypnosis and mind control. Proponents of this theory argue that it explains why Sirhan today claims that he cannot remember the killing. Sirhan boosted this theory in 2011 when he claimed that the “girl in the polka dot dress” triggered a posthypnotic suggestion that made him draw his pistol and begin firing. The podcast investigates the evidence both for an against a conspiracy and presents an objectively to the listener.

In the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony about Justice Brett Kavanaugh, it is interesting to see how eyewitness testimony changes over the years. When a story changes over the course of 30 or 50 years, is it because memories are not perfect and our minds play tricks or is there a more sinister reason? Especially after several decades, eyewitness testimony cannot be considered reliable without supporting evidence.

Although I remain a skeptic, I have to admit that the evidence for a conspiracy in the RFK assassination is more compelling than it is in the case of JFK. On the question of how many bullets were fired, we will never know the truth for sure because the LAPD destroyed key evidence that may – or may not – have proved that there were two guns. More than eight bullets would be de facto proof of a conspiracy.

Also curious is the way that the LAPD discarded the reports of the “girl in the polka dot dress.” Featured in the podcast are audio recordings of LAPD Sgt. Hank Hernandez browbeating witnesses into recanting their claims of seeing the girl. One is left with the feeling that Hernandez was less interested in finding the truth than in eliminating loose ends.

Whether you’re a skeptic or a true believer, the “RFK Tapes” is a gripping look back at a pivotal time in American history. If Kennedy had lived to become the Democratic nominee, Richard Nixon might never have become president and the latter three decades of the 20th century might look entirely different. As with the death of JFK, it is humbling to think that the course of history could turn on the actions of a single aggrieved gunman. As Rand Paul recently warned, it could easily happen in the current political environment as well.

[If you’re unfamiliar with podcasts, you are missing out. Over the past few years, I have become an avid listener of podcasts, first through my iPod and then with my smartphone. To understand what a podcast is, think of it as an audiobook or a radio serial available on your phone. Podcasts are available through a variety of apps such as Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or Stitcher and are available on a variety of topics.]

[Photo: Robert F. Kennedy lies mortally wounded on the floor immediately after the shooting. Kneeling beside him is 17-year-old busboy Juan Romero, who was shaking Kennedy's hand when Sirhan Sirhan fired the shots

Originally published on the Resurgent