January 31, 2013
If we are honest with ourselves, all of us want the Bible to support our existing beliefs and practices. We want it to support the teachings of the religious tradition we were raised in, or are currently part of. We want it to affirm that which we think is morally right, and condemn that which we think is morally wrong. There is always a danger, then, that we will engage in hermeneutical and logical gymnastics to ensure that we can walk away from the Bible without having to change our beliefs and practices.
I often ask myself, Would I interpret this passage in this way if I had been raised in a different tradition? Would I think X is wrong or Y is right if I was Presbyterian rather than Pentecostal? Are my reasons for interpreting the Bible as I do good enough to rationally compel others to adopt my position, or just good enough to for me to feel justified in my present beliefs? Would I adopt my position if I were an outsider, listening to the same arguments? If not, why not?
While I fully understand the desire to avoid change and theological conflict with one’s religious community, truth should always be our first priority. If good hermeneutics and sound reason cause us to walk away from the Bible confirmed in our present beliefs, then great. But if good hermeneutics and sound reason require us to change our beliefs and/or practices, then so be it. Truth is more valuable than tradition.
January 29, 2013
Mary Elizabeth Williams recently wrote at Salon that
when we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand: first trimester abortion vs. second trimester vs. late term, dancing around the issue trying to decide if there’s a single magic moment when a fetus becomes a person. Are you human only when you’re born? Only when you’re viable outside of the womb? Are you less of a human life when you look like a tadpole than when you can suck on your thumb? … It seems absurd to suggest that the only thing that makes us fully human is the short ride out of some lady’s vagina. That distinction may apply neatly legally, but philosophically, surely we can do better.
If you are cheering on Ms. Williams as an articulate pro-life apologist, you would be mistaken. She is a card-carrying member in the pro-abortion cause. What makes her rather unique among her peers is that she admits “life begins at conception,” and yet also fully supports a woman’s right to kill that human being because “all life is not equal.”
January 28, 2013
Daniel Williams has written a nice piece on how Roe v. Wade affected the pro-life movement. While many think that Roe gave rise to a substantive pro-life movement, this is not true to history. Williams notes the following facts:
- The pro-life movement witnessed a string of legislative victories to curtail or outlaw abortion in 1971 and 1972. They defeated abortion bills in all 25 states who considered them in 1971. In 1972, voters defeated abortion initiatives in MI and ND by large margins.
- Abortion became legal in CA and CO in 1967.
- In 1970, four states legalized abortion for virtually any reason up to the 20th or 24th week of pregnancy
- There were 586,760 abortions in 1972, the year before Roe was decided. In 1973, the number of legal abortions rose 28% to 750,000. By 1980 the number reached 1.5 million.
- When Roe was decided, 19 states permitted abortion, and 4 of those 19 allowed abortion-on-demand.
- White women used to constitute the majority of those obtaining abortion (75% in 1973), but now poor, minority women constitute the majority (55% in 2008).
- Several courts had recognized the unborn to be persons prior to Roe declaring this to be a wrong reading of the Constitution.
January 16, 2013
Not even Star Wars can escape the “force” of the gay community!
The makers of the online Star Wars computer game, Star Wars: The Old Republic, have introduced a gay planet to the game. On “Makeb,” men, women, and even aliens engage in same-sex relationships.
BioWare, the Canadian studio responsible for making the game, said they decided to add the gay planet due to pressure from gay players. But executive producer Jeff Hickman also claims that “allowing same gender romance is something we are very supportive of” and plan to add more same-gender options in the future.
January 16, 2013
Twin brothers were recently euthanized in Belgium. The two unidentified men – who appear to be in their 40s – were born deaf, and have spent their entire lives together. When informed that they were both going blind, they decided to end their lives because they couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing one another again.
Belgium euthanizes 1% of the population every year. What makes this brother-duo unique is that they were not terminally ill, nor were they experiencing any physical suffering. They simply did not want to live with the quality of life they would be forced to live under, so they found a doctor to kill them before that day arrived.
Let this be a sounding alarm. Euthanasia is not yet legal in this country, and only Oregon and Washington allow for physician-assisted suicide. But there continues to be a big push for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, and it is gaining momentum throughout the Western world. Those who push for its legalization always tell the public that the legal option for suicide will only be reserved for the terminally ill who are experiencing agonizing pain at the end of their lives. But that’s just the selling point. Once a society buys into that line, the pro-death community always goes for the upsell. Their ultimate goal is death-on-demand.
January 15, 2013
While there exists a natural right to form marriages, and while we have a right to form those marriages without government interference (a negative right), we do not have the right to government recognition of our marriages (a positive right). The State regulates marriage because it is in their best interest to manage the procreative potential of opposite sex couples, not because they have a moral obligation to do so. The institution of marriage is a natural union that exists prior to, and wholly independent of government recognition.
What basis is there, then, for SSM advocates to claim they have a right to civil marriage? While those with homosexual orientations have a right to form same-sex relationships, they have no corresponding right to have their relationships recognized and regulated by the government.
January 10, 2013
That’s the headline. Perhaps it should have read “Christian pastor withdraws from Obama inauguration after it is discovered that he’s a Christian.”
A website, ThinkProgress, published a sermon Reverend Louie Giglio preached in the 90’s in which he said these “shocking” words:
If you look at the counsel of the word of God, Old Testament, New Testament, you come quickly to the conclusion that homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle… homosexuality is not just a sexual preference, homosexuality is not gay, but homosexuality is sin. It is sin in the eyes of God, and it is sin according to the word of God. You come to only one conclusion: homosexuality is less than God’s best for his creation.”
January 9, 2013
The Guardian published a story about pedophilia last week. You would expect such a story to offer strong moral condemnation against such a practice, but you would be mistaken.
The story begins by emphasizing that experts on pedophilia are not even sure that “consensual paedophilic relations necessarily cause harm.” Really? A ten year old child is capable of making informed decisions about their sexuality and sexual relationships? And how consensual can a relationship be between an adult and a child? Children naturally submit to the desires of adults, even if deep-down they do not want to.
I found this article so appalling not only because of its sympathetic voice for pedophilia and pedophiles, but because it uses the same talking points used by the homosexual lobby to break down the moral and emotional barriers the public once held against homosexuality. For example, the story begins by talking about the number of people who experience sexual attraction to children. The author claims that as few as 1-2%, but possibly even up to 20% of men are capable of being sexually aroused by children. Why bring this up? The idea is that if so many people experience this, it can’t be so bad after all. This same tactic was used by the homosexual lobby. They once claimed that 10% of society was homosexual in an attempt to normalize homosexuality (we now know it’s closer to 2%).
January 4, 2013
The kalam cosmological argument (KCA) for God’s existence can be stated as follows:
(1) Anything that begins to exist requires a cause
(2) The universe began to exist
(3) Thus, the universe requires a cause
Additional logical inferences allow us to identify this cause as God. Whatever caused space, time, and matter to begin to exist cannot itself be spatial, temporal, or material. Furthermore, whatever caused our orderly, life-permitting universe to come into being a finite time ago must be immensely powerful, intelligent, conscious, and hence personal. These are apt descriptions of a being theists have long identified as God.
Both premises have been challenged on scientific grounds. Premise one is typically challenged on the basis of quantum mechanics, while premise two is challenged by new cosmological models that seek to restore an eternal universe. I am going to argue that neither premise of the argument can be undermined by scientific evidence, and thus the argument itself is impervious to scientific refutation. Only philosophical arguments are capable of undermining either premise of the argument.
January 1, 2013
Some atheists claim that God cannot exist because unembodied minds are impossible; i.e. that persons must be physical beings. I spoke to this in a 2008 post. Prayson Daniel recently blogged on the subject as well. I would encourage you to read his post. I commented on his post, and wanted to share some points I made that supplement the points I made in my previous post.
This argument begs the question in favor of materialism and atheism. It merely assumes that minds/persons are reducible to brains; that we have no immaterial mind that is capable of existing apart from our bodies. No reason is given for thinking that a mind/person needs a body other than the fact that we are not familiar with it. That’s a very poor reason. It confuses common properties of persons with essential properties of persons.