October 30, 2006
In today’s USA Today there was an article about partial birth abortion titled “ ‘Partial-birth’ cases test abortion rights’ limits”. Several things struck me about this article.First, I was surprised at both the candor and callousness with which the D&X (partial birth abortion) method of abortion was described: “The methods involve dilating a woman’s cervix to allow most of the fetus to emerge into the vagina intact, rather than dismembering the fetus in the uterus by using forceps and other instruments. In the intact method, a doctor then suctions out the fetus’ brain to collapse the head and allow delivery.” One would think the author was describing something as mundane as demolishing a house.
Second, I was astonished at the logical reasoning of the U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement. Clement will be arguing on behalf of the U.S. government to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban of 2003. According to the article Clement claims the procedure is “gruesome” and “resembles infanticide.” I agree, and I support his moral outrage at the practice. But Clement doesn’t stop there. According to the author “Clement has said Congress’ ban is not unconstitutional because there are alternative methods of second-trimester abortions that would remain legal. Those include a standard D&E procedure in which a doctor dismembers the fetus in the uterus, and another method known as ‘induction,’ in which a woman is given drugs that cause her to go into labor and deliver the fetus.”
I am at a loss to understand this reasoning. How is it any less gruesome to dismember the baby in the womb and evacuate it, than it is to partially extract it intact, and then proceed to kill it? One seems just as bad as the other. The issue is not how close the fetus comes to breathing air, but the killing of a human life. Maybe Clement is arguing this way for legally strategic reasons, rather than for logical reasons. I don’t know.
October 30, 2006
I am going to make a prediction. Within the next five years the term “straight” will come under fire from the PC (political correctness) police. There will be a public campaign to ban the use of this word from the public square, and replace it with the more technical word: heterosexual. Why? Two reasons. Since “straight” carries with it the connotation of being right and good–and it is being used in contradistinction to someone who is gay–it implies that homosexuality is not right and good. If heterosexuals are straight, then homosexuals must be crooked. One is good, one is bad. It will be argued that the word implies the moral superiority of heterosexuality over homosexuality, and that is bad! (Of course it will go unnoticed that this is a claim of moral superiority of those who use “homosexual-heterosexual” language over those who use “straight-gay” language.)
Secondly, by forcing us to use the heterosexual/homosexual language in reference to people’s sexual proclivities, the distinction between the two becomes blurry (which is what the gay community wants). Why? Because when the two words sound similar, it de-emphasizes the difference in referents. I would contend that on a psychological level people tend to think of the two as more similar when similarly sounding language is used to describe each. Contrasting homosexuality to heterosexuality does not evoke nearly the difference in feeling as does contrasting gay to straight.
We’ll see if my prediction comes true. I have until October 2011 before you can stone me for being a false prophet!
October 30, 2006
If I was paid $1 for every time I have heard or read a homosexual advocate complaining that they are being denied human rights, or treated inhumanely, I would be a millionaire. Homosexual advocate, Andrew Sullivan, is just the latest example of this. Recently on the Steven Colbert show Sullivan said of the Republicans, “They’ll have to start treating us like humans.” Argh!
One of the things that tires me most about public debate is how superficial and deceptive it has become. Most everything comes in short soundbites rather than more substantive discourses and dialogues, and sound reason has been supplanted by spin and rhetoric. That is what Sullivan offered us: rhetoric. No one in this country is treating homosexuals inhumanely, and he knows it. To even suggest that they are belittles the very meaning of inhumane. No government forbids homosexuals to engage in their homosexual acts. Verbal assaults on homosexuals are rare, and physical assaults are even rarer. By and large our society has accepted the fact that gays are here to stay, but they don’t want it flaunted in their face, and they don’t want gays trying to pretend as if their relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships by granting them the status of “marriage.” Refusing to grant same-sex couples the right to marry is hardly inhumane. It might be argued that it is unjust, unfair, or something similar, but inhumane it is not. If homosexuals want to advance a serious debate on the issue they need to transcend such empty and false rhetoric. Otherwise there is no reason to take them seriously.
October 30, 2006
Transgender men…that is. That’s right, transgender men can now use the ladies’ room in New York’s transit system after the MTA was sued for arresting a transgender man for using the ladies’ room. According to the Daily News “the Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to allow riders to use MTA rest rooms ‘consistent with their gender expression’….” To beat the boat, the MTA is requiring that all their employees undergo transgender sensitivity training. Can you believe that? People have to undergo training because their moral compass and common sense tells them there is something wrong with those who want to be, and look/act like the opposite sex.
I don’t plan on developing my thoughts fully here, but in principle I strongly oppose any sort of sensitivity training. It is the logical outflow of what Pope Benedict XVI called the “dictatorship of relativism.” When relativism is the reigning moral philosophy, the tendency is to make evil out to be good, good out to be evil, and forcibly silence (if not punish) those who refuse to consider evil good like the rest of the “enlightened” society. Sensitivity training is a baby step toward the dictatorship of relativism in this country. It boldly proclaims that those with traditional moral values are wrong. While the sensitivity trainers cannot force people to change their beliefs, they can force them to keep silent about them, thus effectively allowing evil to reign supreme, unchallenged. Sensitivity training is the strong-arming of liberal morality on the morally conservative American people. And we let them do it….
October 26, 2006
Read the previous post for relevant context….
The headline read: “New Jersey High Court Leaves Gay Marriage Rights to Legislature.” When I first read the Fox News headline I thought to myself, “Wow! A court that refuses to legislate from the bench, and that respects the democratic process.” That was…until I read the article. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I will say from the outset that I have only read news articles about the decision. I have not yet been able to read the 90 page decision itself. But from the quotes I am reading in the news articles, the NJ Supreme Court seems to have done almost the exact same thing the Massachusetts Supreme Court did three years ago in Goodridge: they have declared that same-sex couples must be given the same rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples, and have given the legislature 180 days to reflect this in the law. Unlike MA, however, the court said the NJ legislature can either amend the existing marriage laws to include same-sex couples, or create a separate statutory structure that offers identical benefits (without calling it marriage). MA insisted that same-sex couple unions be called marriage as well.
Even if the legislature opts to create “civil unions” rather than amend the marriage laws, the fact of the matter is that what’s been created by judicial fiat in NJ is same-sex marriage. Why? Because gay couples would have the same social recognition, the same responsibilities, the same obligations, and the same rights as heterosexual married couples. If two animals walk like ducks, talk like ducks, and look like ducks…they are both ducks. The NJ Supreme Court has de facto instituted same-sex marriage in the state, but is merely allowing the legislature to name this new right they just created: “The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.” I’m glad they left something to the democratic process!
They can call it marriage, or they can call it something else. It doesn’t really matter. What’s so ironic is that many conservatives will feel better if the legislature calls it a “civil union” rather than “marriage,” as if avoiding the “M” word is all that matters. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the fight is not over who gets to use the “M” word, but about the social recognition of homosexual relationships. See my article titled “Marriage by Any Other Name is Still Marriage”.
While I am bothered by many of the excerpts I have read thus far, two are very troubling to me (this is how this post ties into the previous post):
- “The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people.”
- “We conclude that denying to committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose.”
How can it be said that homosexual relationships are “similarly situated” to heterosexual relationships? How can they say there is no rational basis for privileging heterosexual marriage? There is a clear rational purpose. I wrote about it in my last post. But it doesn’t even need to be clear. Under rational basis scrutiny (which it seems the court used to decide the case) all that needs to be demonstrated to uphold the constitutionality of a law is that it is possible to conceive of a legitimate governmental purpose. Is it possible to conceive that privileging heterosexual marriage bears a rational relation to some legitimate end? Of course it does. Then how can the court say there is no legitimate governmental purpose for the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges?
Justice Cordy, in his dissenting comments to the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s Goodridge ruling, addressed the assertion that there is no rational basis for privileging heterosexual marriage:
Paramount among its many important functions, the institution of marriage has systematically provided for the regulation of heterosexual behavior, brought order to the resulting procreation, and ensured a stable family structure in which children will be reared, educated, and socialized. … The institution of marriage provides the important legal and normative link between heterosexual intercourse and procreation on the one hand and family responsibilities on the other. The partners in a marriage are expected to engage in exclusive sexual relations, with children the probable result and paternity presumed. … The marital family is also the foremost setting for the education and socialization of children. Children learn about the world and their place in it primarily from those who raise them, and those children eventually grow up to exert some influence, great or small, positive or negative, on society. The institution of marriage encourages parents to remain committed to each other and to their children as they grow, thereby encouraging a stable venue for the education and socialization of children.
Civil marriage is the product of society’s critical need to manage procreation as the inevitable consequence of intercourse between members of the opposite sex. Procreation has always been at the root of marriage and the reasons for its existence as a social institution. (italics mine)
Justice Cordy made it clear that there is only one reason the government has promoted and protected marriage: they produce the next generation of society. Only opposite sex couples can “be the biological parents of shared children. Tying those parents to those children is a crucial social objective.” Apart from a concern for children the government has no reason to regulate private relationships. If there are no children involved, there is no reason for the government to regulate and protect the relationship (which is why the government does not regulate friendships). How can the NJ court not see that? I would argue it’s because their decision was not motivated by the text of their state constitution, but by their own opinions on the matter. I’ll have to read the opinion for myself to see if that assessment holds true.
October 26, 2006
An anonymous lesbian expressed why she wants to marry. Her sentiments are representative of many gays:
“I want to know that if I have children with my partner that they will not be taken away from their parent if I die. I also want to know that if I do die that my partner can make that [sic] decisions for a funeral as she knows I would want it. I want to know that my insurance will cover my partner who may not have the luxury of having a job that provided insurance. I also want to know that if I die my partner and children will not be ripped from our home because they are not my ‘family’. These are the rights that you ‘straits’ get from marriage. You don’t have to acknowledge me…but I do serve this country and pay my taxes just as you do, I deserve the same rights as you do, nothing more, nothing less.”
Does she deserve the right to marry?
Same-sex couples think they are entitled to the legal, financial, and social benefits of the institution of marriage. When they are denied access to the institution of marriage and its attendant benefits they cry Discrimination! just as this anonymous lesbian did. But why think they are entitled to the institution and benefits of marriage in the first place? On what grounds are they entitled to them? Is it because they are given to others? That’s not a good reason. Most governmental benefits are given to some but not others.
For example, the government offers welfare benefits only to those who fall below certain income thresholds. Why? Because our government has an interest in helping the poor of our society. The economic stability of the poor is necessary for the good of society. Is it discriminatory for our government to withhold welfare benefits from Tom Cruise? Yes, but the discrimination is justified because Tom does not meet the criterion. Should the criterion be changed so as to include Tom simply because he wants to be included? No, because his inclusion is unrelated to the purpose for which the benefits exist in the first place.
Are same-sex couples entitled to the institution and benefits of marriage because they love one another? As important as love may be, the government is not interested in promoting romantic love. (Besides, marriage neither brings nor secures love. Just ask all the cohabiting and divorced couples!) Love is unrelated to the reason our government regulates and affords benefits to those willing to enter into a marriage contract. The reason the institution of marriage has been privileged by our government is because the pairing of a man and woman is the only thing that produces what every society needs for survival: children. The only way to produce children is by the pairing of a man and woman. And because the government has a vested interest in having those children raised in a stable environment, they want to promote the long-term pairing of the man and woman who created those children. The best way to accomplish these goals is by reward those who are willing to take on the obligations and responsibilities that come along with marriage and children.
Given the reason our government privileges marriage, why should the institution of marriage be opened up to include same-sex couples, and how is it that they qualify for the benefits of marriage? Do homosexual couples fulfill the purpose of marriage? Do they have anything to offer society that society could not obtain from them if their relationships are not recognized by the government? No. Then society is justified in denying them access to the benefits and institution of marriage, in the same way we are justified in barring Tom Cruise access to welfare benefits.
The demand of same-sex couples to have their relationships recognized as marriage on the grounds that they love one another is tantamount to my demand that the government pay for my education because I have blonde hair. The color of my hair is unrelated to their subsidizing of my education. In the same way, the love homosexual couples have for one another is unrelated to the purpose of marriage. Benefits are given to those who deserve them; to those who fulfill the purpose for which the benefits exist in the first place. So long as homosexuals are unable to produce children without the help of the opposite sex, society has no reason to privilege their relationships the way they do heterosexual relationships. It’s simply good social policy.
That leads me to what I want to talk about: New Jersey’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. I will create a separate post for this.
P.S. The rights Ms. Anonymous wants can be secured through legal means wholly apart from marriage.
October 26, 2006
Posted by jasondulle under Odds & Ends
I often engage what’s going wrong with culture, so when something good happens it would be good to talk about that as well. I’m sure most of you have already heard of Madonna’s recent adoption of a small child from Malawi, Africa. Apart from what you may think of Madonna, I think this is an admirable deed. While many people adopt children, they usually do so only because they cannot have children of their own. Madonna has two children. She did not need a child, and yet she chose to adopt an orphan.
While I’m praising Madonna I should take the time to praise Angelina Jolie as well. She was so moved by what she saw in poverty-stricken countries abroad that she has adopted two foreign children: one from Cambodia and one from Ethiopia. She even gives 1/3 of her income to charity.
I think both women are immoral in many ways, but they have acted honorably in these acts. My question for the Christian community: How many of us are willing to do what these women have done? We rightly refuse to emulate their evil, but will we also refuse to emulate their good?
October 25, 2006
A group called Majority Action produced a commercial supporting embryonic stem cell research. It specifically targets U.S. Congressman Jim Walsh (NY). I have to admit that the commercial is an example of marketing genius, but it is very deceptive and employs very poor reasoning and tactics. Can you spot the incorrect facts? How about the poor tactics and reasoning?
October 25, 2006
This is a must-see short interview. For those of you familiar with Steven Colbert, you know how funny he is. Now just imagine him interviewing Richard Dawkins on his new book, The God Delusion. You will be rolling with laughter!
October 24, 2006
Posted by jasondulle under Odds & Ends
Here is a picture of my beautiful wife one month ago when she was 5 1/2 months pregnant. Who is that stud with her?
And here she is again last weekend.
I really need to find out who that guy is. He needs to keep his hands off my wife!
And by the way…that’s Martinelli’s!
October 24, 2006
Check out TIME magazine’s interactive webpage breaking America down by population, religion, etc. They have some amazing illustrative graphs and charts. Very good info.
October 24, 2006
Posted by jasondulle under Social
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NT scholar Andreas Kostenberger argues that this is the wrong question to ask:
Would you say that you have a good marriage? Some of you might answer this question in the affirmative (hopefully your spouse would, too); others might acknowledge that there remains a lot of work to do before you would claim to have a good marriage.
But why aspire to having a good marriage in any case? Just to be able to feel good about having a good marriage? And what does it mean to have a “good marriage”? When is a marriage a good marriage? If it is better than most other marriages of the people we know?
I submit to you that “Do you have a good marriage?” is the wrong question to ask. A better question to ask would be, “Does your marriage glorify God?” Is yours a God-glorifying, God-honoring marriage?
Rather than viewing having a good marriage as an end in itself, or using a human, relative standard of comparing our marriages with those of others or with some ideal set up by some popular current book on the subject, the goal of a God-glorifying marriage grounds the relationship with our spouse where it ought to be grounded: in the eternal, sovereign plan of God.
What, then, is a God-glorifying marriage, according to Scripture? Among other things, it means this:
(1) Both spouses are growing in Christ (“in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ,” Eph. 4:15)—not just the husband (husbands have a God-given responsibility to nurture their wives spiritually, Eph. 5:25–28) or just the wife (a sad reality in many marriages where the husband is spiritually passive).
(2) Both spouses exhibit fruit, both physically (children) and spiritually (they are engaged in Christian service, individually and jointly). For a couple to be fruitful and multiply is at the very heart of God’s purpose in creation (Gen. 1:26–28), and we should not sinfully put self above having and bringing up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (or consider adoption if a couple cannot have children).
(3) The marriage is between Spirit-filled disciples of Christ (Eph. 5:18) who are committed to his Lordship and authority over all things. He is the center of God’s plan, not them, or even their marriage (Eph. 1:10). A truly God-honoring marriage does not (ultimately) focus on the family; it focuses on God in Christ.
In a marriage like this, the husband and wife are too busy growing in Christ and serving him in tandem, and with their family, than to ask, “Do we have a good marriage?” A good marriage they have, but not because having a good marriage is ultimately their aspiration, but because anything we do in life that seeks to bring honor and glory to God (including how we conduct our marriage) will result in blessing. May God be increasingly glorified in our marriages, for his greater glory and for our good.
October 24, 2006
In a recent debate with the Planned Parenthood of CA, pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf spoke of the legal absurdities involving abortion in CA. I thought they were worth sharing. He said (reproduced by Scott in note form on his blog):
In California, public tax-dollars are used for what we’re all told is a totally “private” choice.
At the same time, minor children can’t smoke or drink soda pop at school, but they can be driven by school officials to get an abortion without their parent’s knowledge or consent. In short, PP believes your kids can’t be trusted to eat right but they can be trusted to abort without you knowing a thing about it.
Meanwhile, the state of California spends millions on television ads warning pregnant women not to harm their unborn offspring with cigarette smoke–an admirable goal indeed–but then turns right around and spends even more money paying for poor women to destroy the very unborn humans the ads were designed to save.
Indeed, in a majority of states, a woman may not harm her unborn offspring with alcohol or drug abuse, but she may kill it with legalized abortion. If that’s not crazy enough, imagine this scenario: A woman is driving to the abortion clinic when her car is accidentally broadsided by the same man who is scheduled to perform her abortion a few minutes later. Because of the accident, the fetus dies. Guess what the abortionist is charged with in a majority of states? You got it: homicide. Yet if the woman makes it to the clinic, that same abortionist can kill her offspring at any point in the pregnancy with no penalty at all.
Bottom line: In America today, unborn humans have a right to life if and only if their mothers want them.
October 23, 2006
Richard Dawkins’ latest book, The God Delusion, is a vitriolic polemic against religion. According to Dawkins religion is the root of all evil, and a pernicious delusion. One would think a book like this, written by the world’s foremost evolutionary biologist and ardent atheist, would be praised by the secularist community. You would be wrong.
Apparently the book is so poorly reasoned that even the New York Times won’t praise it. In Sunday’s book review section Jim Holt (no friend of conservative religion) didn’t have much good to say about it. He said such things as:
- “The book fairly crackles with brio. Yet reading it can feel a little like watching a Michael Moore movie. There is lots of good, hard-hitting stuff about the imbecilities of religious fanatics and frauds of all stripes, but the tone is smug and the logic occasionally sloppy.”
- “But Dawkins’s avowed hostility can make for scattershot reasoning as well as for rhetorical excess.”
- “The least satisfying part of this book is Dawkins’s treatment of the traditional arguments for the existence of God. The ‘ontological argument’ says that God must exist by his very nature, since he possesses all perfections, and it is more perfect to exist than not to exist. The ‘cosmological argument’ says that the world must have an ultimate cause, and this cause could only be an eternal, God-like entity. The ‘design argument’ appeals to special features of the universe (such as its suitability for the emergence of intelligent life), submitting that such features make it more probable than not that the universe had a purposive cosmic designer.”These, in a nutshell, are the Big Three arguments. To Dawkins, they are simply ridiculous. He dismisses the ontological argument as ‘infantile’ and ‘dialectical prestidigitation’ without quite identifying the defect in its logic, and he is baffled that a philosopher like Russell —‘no fool’— could take it seriously. He seems unaware that this argument, though medieval in origin, comes in sophisticated modern versions that are not at all easy to refute. Shirking the intellectual hard work, Dawkins prefers to move on to parodic ‘proofs’ that he has found on the Internet….”
- “Despite the many flashes of brilliance in this book, Dawkins’s failure to appreciate just how hard philosophical questions about religion can be makes reading it an intellectually frustrating experience.”
There’s more juicy tidbits in the review, but these alone are enough to make one feel for Mr. Dawkins. The man who believes rationality is opposed to religious belief is accused of not being very rational when writing a book about the irrationality of religious faith. Ouch!
October 23, 2006
In the October 9th 2006 edition of TIME magazine Andrew Sullivan wrote a cover piece titled “When Seeing is Not Believing.” It was the latest in fashionable attacks on conservative, “fundamentalistic” Christianity. Sullivan’s attacks were not limited to Christianity, but all religious believers who possess certainty about the ultimate questions of life. If you take your religious faith seriously, and think what you believe is a real description of reality, Sullivan is talking to you. Certainty is the enemy of our times according to Sullivan. To be doubtful is to be humble is to be tolerant is to have peace.
There were so many outlandish claims, and such an abuse of rationality that I will not even begin to dissect it for you here. I would suggest you read the piece for yourself.
What do you find to be his most outlandish claim? What logical fallacies and/or mistakes of reasoning were you able to spot? I’m interested to see if you walked away with some of the same observations I did.
October 19, 2006
Check out this link for the most amazing pics ever taken of a baby in the womb. The photographer is even able to get a close up pic of sperm “attacking” an egg.
October 19, 2006
-For context see “Inexcusable Ignorance Part I“-
The same could be said of Richard Dawkins. On numerous occasions he has appealed to the supposed problem of the origin of God as an objection to theism and ID. It is central to his argument. I will quote a couple different versions so you can feel the force of his argument. During an interview on NPR Dawkins said:
It was the genius of Darwin to show that organized complexity can come about from primeval simplicity. It precisely does not require an original intelligence in order, or an original complexity in order to get it going. And it’s just as well that it doesn’t, because if it did we would be left with an infinite regress, saying, where does the original intelligence come from? … If life is too complex to have been produced by natural selection, then it’s sure as hell too complex to be produced by another complex agent; namely a divine intelligence. That is an absolutely inescapable piece of logic. If you are going to say that life is too complex to be explained by natural selection, then you cannot invoke an even more complicated agent. … The task of biology is to explain where all that complexity comes from. Now to invoke a complexity-an intelligence, a complex agent-as the designing being is to explain precisely nothing, because you are left asking where did the designer come from?
Some people are tempted to invoke…a creator to fine-tune the constants of the universe. Once again that cannot be right because you are left with the problem of explaining where the fine-tuner comes from. So wherever else the tuning comes from, it cannot come from an intelligent creator.
Most of the traditional arguments for God’s existence, from Aquinas on, are easily demolished. Several of them, such as the First Cause argument, work by setting up an infinite regress which God is wheeled out to terminate. But we are never told why God is magically able to terminate regresses while needing no explanation himself.
Even before Darwin’s time, the illogicality was glaring: how could it ever have been a good idea to postulate, in explanation for the existence of improbable things, a designer who would have to be even more improbable? The entire argument is a logical non-starter, as David Hume realized before Darwin was born.
Again, it is obvious that Dawkins does not do much reading of theistic apologists because the answer to this question is readily available. Such ignorance is unacceptable for an Oxford scholar.
As I wrote one year ago, science highly suggests and philosophy demands that the universe came into being a finite time ago. Everything that comes into being has a cause, so the beginning of the spatio-temporal-material universe must have had a cause as well. Whatever caused space, time, and matter to come into existence cannot itself be spatial, temporal, and material because you cannot bring something into existence that already exists. That means the first cause of the universe must be eternal, non-spatial, and immaterial.
So who caused God? Nothing. He doesn’t need a cause. As just noted, the First Cause of the universe must be eternal. By definition eternal things never come into being, and thus do not need a cause. The Law of Causality only applies to things that begin to exist. As an eternal being God never began to exist, and thus needs no cause. We conclude, then, that God is a necessary being, acting as the first cause of our contingent universe when He willed it into existence a finite time ago. So much for Dawkins secret weapon!
But let’s say the answer to Dawkins’ objection was not accounted for. Would it matter? Would it lessen the force of the argument that the universe needs a cause, and that the cause must be a personal, powerful, intelligent being? Dawkins thinks so. In The Blind Watchmaker Dawkins wrote, “To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer. You have to say something like ‘God was always there’, and if you allow yourself that kind of lazy way out, you might as well just say ‘DNA was always there’, or ‘Life was always there’, and be done with it.”
Clearly this thinking is wrong-headed. We can still identify God as the cause of the universe even if we don’t know what caused Him. Our ignorance of His origin no more argues against His existence and causal necessity than the fact that I don’t know who my great-great-great grandparents were argues against the fact that my great-great grandparents are the cause of my existence.
Biologist, Stephen Jones, responded to Dawkins’s reasoning by pointing out that “if science was required to explain everything along an infinite regress, before it could explain something, then there could be no scientific explanation of anything new.” Delvin Lee Ratzsch had similar sentiments:
Dawkins seems to be presupposing that if explanations are not ultimate they are vacuous. …. He seems to be assuming that no origin has been explained unless the ultimate origin of anything appealed to in the explanation has also been explained. In addition to being mistaken, that principle is surely as dangerous for the naturalist as for the theist. To take the parallel case, one could claim that to explain the origin of species by invoking natural processes is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of natural processes. And, of course, attempts to explain natural processes by invoking the big bang or anything else- will generate an exactly similar problem with anything appealed to in that explanation. Any explanation has to begin somewhere, and the principle that no explanation is legitimate unless anything referred to in the explanation is itself explained immediately generates a regress that would effectively destroy any possibility of any explanation for anything.
Where did God come from? I’m glad we have an answer, but the answer is irrelevant to our recognition that the universe was designed by an Intelligent Designer. ID does not attempt to find the ultimate designer, but only the proximate designer. They could be one and the same, or they could be distinct. That is for philosophy to determine, not science.
Richard Dawkins, interview with Tom Ashbrook on Boston’s NPR radio show, 10 August 2005. Available from http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2005/08/20050810_a_main.asp and http://realserver.bu.edu:8080/ramgen/w/b/wbur/onpoint/2005/08/op_0810a.rm.
Richard Dawkins, “Richard Dawkins Explains His Latest Book” available from http://richarddawkins.net/mainPage.php?bodyPage=article_body.php&id=170 as of 9/20/06, but subsequently removed on 9/23/06. It was reproduced at http://id-idea.blogspot.com/2006/09/richard-dawkins-explains-his-latest.html; Internet; accessed 03 October 2006.
Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986), 141.
Stephen Jones, “Frequently Asked Questions”; available from http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/idfaqs30.html; Internet; accessed 17 March 2006.
Delvin Lee Ratzsch, The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL, 1996), 191-192.
October 19, 2006
There are several popular objections to theism including the problem of evil, the problem of free-will, and the origin of God. These objections have been answered time and time again. While the answers have been improved upon over the years, some of them are centuries old. I expect the average run-of-the-mill atheist to be ignorant of their existence, but not learned scholars. And yet they are.
Darwinist, Robert Eberle showed his ignorance of theistic apologetics when he addressed the supposedly intractable problem of free agency in light of an omniscient God:
Aside from his simple declarations without any foundation that he believes certain biblical stories and miracles are true, he runs into major problems. One is the claim that God knows what was, is and will be. Collins asserts that there is still free will, but fails to explain his logic for arriving at this extraordinary conclusion. Either what will be is known and fixed or it is not. An infallible god that knows what is going to happen is in conflict with the idea that there is free choice and thus a responsibility for one’s actions.
Not only is this not a difficult problem, it’s not a problem at all. Knowing what someone will choose to do in advance of their actually doing it does not cause them to do it. Yes, what will be is known and fixed, but what fixes God’s knowledge is not His will, but knowledge of our will. If we would will to choose A rather than B on October 12, 2006 God would have known A rather than B. He knows B because that is what He knows we will do. While God’s knowledge is chronologically prior to our acts, our acts are logically prior to God’s knowledge. Was that so hard?
Eberle’s ignorance of this is inexcusable. Either he (1) is totally unacquainted with the literature of his opponents, or (2) he knows his objection has been answered but continues to advance it because the ignorant find it persuasive. Either way, it is inexcusable.
Robert K. Eberle, “The Language of God: If God Could Talk What Would he Say?” Review of Francis Collins’ book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Contained in an eSkeptic newsletter dated 02 October 2006.
October 19, 2006
The Associated Press ran a story about a recent study that examined the religious beliefs of college professors. The study found that approximately 25% of professors are atheist or agnostic (which is about double the national average). What about the other 75%? According to the AP article “the rest say they believe in God at least part of the time, or at least in some kind of higher power.” That’s right, they are part-time believers! From 8am-5pm they are atheists, but theists from 5pm-8am.
This was not a slip of the pen, either. “Believe in Higher Power or God some of the time” was an actual category in the study, in contrast to “believe in God.” Funny stuff!
October 19, 2006
Posted by jasondulle under Politics
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Melinda Penner wrote, “Christians aren’t trying to ‘impose’ their views – they are vocally participating in the public square and the democratic process, like every other citizen and group with a stake in this country. It’s really impossible to impose a view view [sic] the democratic process. After all, all candidates and propositions are up for vote for everyone to weigh in on. … On most of the contentious and controversial social issues, Christians are on the defense not the offense. Christians are defending the status quo or the historically status quo from radical social change, very often being applied through the courts rather than the vote. Abortion, same-sex marriage, much going on in education are examples where proponents are aggressively advancing their views. Christians have not introduced ‘attacks’ on homosexuals. They are responding to and defending the what has been the accepted norm in America.”
This got me thinking: how do you “impose” anything in a democracy? By getting a majority of people to agree with you. If people have a problem with that, then their real problem is with the concept of democracy itself. It doesn’t make any sense to say in a democratic society that it is wrong for the majority to legislate its views on the minority. If the majority have to give sway to the minority, then the minority hold the power, and we don’t have a democracy. This is absurd!
Melinda Penner, “Imposing Religion”; available from http://lti-blog.blogspot.com/2006/09/imposing-religion-guest-comment-sk.html; Internet; accessed 20 September 2006.
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