Apologetics


Paul_R_McHugh_MD2Former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Paul McHugh, recently penned a poignant opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal titled “Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution.” John Hopkins was the first medical center to perform sex-reassignment surgery in the 1960s, but based on evidence that such surgeries did not help transgendered people, they ceased performing the surgeries.  In light of the recent push to normalize transgenderism, Dr. McHugh has sounded the medical alarm to warn us that in our efforts to help these people we may be having the opposite effect.

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Kentucky’s marriage law has been found unconstitutional by a KY juduge, though there is a stay on his decision.

Christian Ethics GeislerChristian Ethics by Norman Geisler was written in 1989.  I’ve known many people who have read this book over the years, but never bothered to do so myself until I saw it on sale for a deep discount!  I found it to be a great introduction to ethical systems and pressing moral issues.

Geisler starts by looking at various ethical systems such as antinomianism, situationism, utilitarianism, generalism, and variations of absolutism (these are the names he gives these views, which are not exactly my preferences).  He concludes that the Bible teaches a deontological view of ethics.  When it comes to the question of whether moral duties ever conflict and how we are to respond, he argues for the “greater good” view in which moral conflicts are real, and we do the greater good when we choose to lesser of the two evils.

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Jay MichaelsonOne of the expectations of marriage is sexual fidelity (monogamy).  In “Were Christians Right about Gay Marriage All Along?” gay rights advocate, Jay Michaelson, acknowledges that gay relationships (particularly males) are typically not monogamous.  So what effect will including gays in the institution of marriage have?  Will homosexuals change the concept of marriage so that monogamy is no longer considered essential, or will marriage domesticate homosexuals, leading them in the direction of monogamy?  A 2013 survey of same-sex married couples in San Francisco revealed that half of same-sex marriages involve extra-marital partners, and Michaelson thinks the actual number is closer to 75%.  So it doesn’t appear that marriage is domesticating homosexuals, and Michaelson thinks the openness to extra-marital sex among same-sex married couples will eventually lead to a reformation of marriage among heterosexuals.  Only time will tell, but I find it interesting that Michaelson is willing to admit that kind of marriage practiced by many same-sex couples is not the same kind of relationship envisioned by most heterosexual couples.

 

HT: Stand to Reason

Materialists will tell you they don’t believe anything other than the material world exists, but seem oblivious to the fact that propositions – such as the proposition that only the material world exists – are not material.  That means materialism is falsified the moment you think about it. Pun intended.

Denmark’s parliament voted overwhelmingly that churches in Denmark must allow same-sex couples to use their facilities for same-sex weddings, and even officiate the weddings. If the priest of the parish is unwilling to officiate the wedding, the bishop must find a priest who is willing to do so.

The government is using its power to force churches to rent out their facilities for purposes they find immoral, and that go against the dictates of their religion.  I would love to see them try to force mosques to do the same!  Hopefully the church in Denmark will rebel.  Considering the fact that less than 1/3 of the priests object, however, I doubt it.

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Michael Sam was just drafted by the St. Louis Rams.  So were a bunch of other guys, so why is Sam in the news?  What makes Sam unique is that he is the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL.  Given the nature of the NFL, I can see why this is news, but from a Christian perspective, I don’t consider this to be a big deal at all.  Neither do most Christians.  Unlike some on the Left, Christians do not think that those who disagree with us do not deserve to be employed.  If Sam’s athletic abilities qualify him to play in the NFL, then he should be allowed to play in the NFL.  His sexual orientation/behavior is irrelevant.

What I do consider to be a big deal is the fact that Miami Dolphins’ safety, Don Jones, was fined, suspended, and forced to undergo sensitivity training for expressing his personal disgust at Sam and his partner’s televised celebratory kiss.  Jones tweeted the words “OMG” and “horrible” to describe this public display of affection.  The very next day the Miami Dolphins’ head coach, Joe Philbin, described Jones’ tweet as “inappropriate and unacceptable,” and that it required them to speak to Jones about “respect, discrimination and judgment” because such “statements will not be tolerated.”  Perhaps it escaped Coach Philbin that he himself was passing judgment on Jones and discriminating against him based on his comments.

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I can’t keep up with all of the natural marriage laws being ruled unconstitutional these days!  Three states have had their marriage laws overturned in the last two weeks. 

Arkansas

In 2004, Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment that recognized a man and woman as vital to the institution of marriage.  Fast forward 10 years.  On May 9, Judge Chris Piazza of the Pulaski County Circuit Court ruled that this amendment is unconstitutional.  The Alabama state attorney general appealed to the Alabama State Supreme Court to put a stay on the decision, which was granted in a back-handed way only because Piazza’s decision did not invalidate a law prohibiting clerks from issuing marriage-licenses.  But Piazza updated his ruling to try to address the issue, and refused to suspend his decision.  As a result, some counties are continuing to issue marriage-licenses while others are not.

Oregon

On Monday, May 19, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled that Oregon’s natural marriage-only constitutional amendment, passed by 57% of the voters in 2004, is unconstitutional. A request was made to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put a stay on the decision, but the request was denied.

Pennsylvania

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III federal judge declared Pennsylvania’s marriage laws unconstitutional.  The decision was effective immediately, and same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses the same day.

There are now 19 states, plus the District of Washington, that support same-sex marriage.

benham-brothersHGTV was planning to air a new show about fixing up houses for families in need, Flip It Forward.  It was being hosted by twin brothers, David and Jason Benham, who have made a career of flipping houses.  But the network decided to cancel the show after Right Wing Watch reported that the Benham twins do not agree with homosexuality, and have even led protests outside of abortion clinics.  Initially HGTV said they were “currently in the process of reviewing all information about the Benhams,” and then they issued a tweet declaring that they would not move forward with the series.

While Right Wing did not call on HGTV to cancel the show, it appears that HGTV caved to the small amount of public pressure they received based on Right Wing Watch’s report. Shame on HGTV for not having the internal fortitude to stand up to the public pressure and say, “We understand that a large number of people do not agree with the personal views of David and Jason Benham, and we respect that. However, Flip It Forward is not a show about the Benham brothers’ personal views.  It’s a show about helping financially-challenged families get their dream home.  The Benham brothers’ experience in flipping houses makes them well-qualified to host this show, so we will continue to air the show with them as hosts.  HGTV’s employment of the Benham brothers is not an endorsement of their views, but we believe people have a right to their own moral opinions, and that those of us who disagree have a responsibility to extend tolerance to those we disagree with.  We believe a civilized, tolerant society must give space for people to believe and act according to their convictions, and do not agree with those who think anyone who doesn’t agree with them is not deserving of gainful employment.  We can do better that as a society, and at HGTV, we are doing better than that.  For those who find the Benham’s views distasteful, we would ask that you extend the same tolerance to them that you want extended to those who share your point of view. We ask that you set aside your personal differences with the Benham’s personal views, and allow yourself to enjoy and celebrate their work to help our mutual neighbors.”  That’s the press release you’ll never see, but one that would be cheered by the vast majority of citizens, and I would suspect, the vast number of HGTV viewership.

The Benham brothers have responded graciously (see here and here).

Remember when they asked us, “How is same-sex marriage going to affect you?”  This is how.

 

It was just about a year ago that humans were successfully cloned for the first time.  Those researchers used fetal cells.  A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that Robert Lanza from Advanced Cell Technology successfully cloned two humans using adult cells (from a 35 year old man and a 75 year old man).

The story is here, and the singer’s explanation is here.

God of GapsI’ve noticed that many nonbelievers (and even believers) misunderstand what constitutes a “God of the gaps” argument.  They tend to think one is guilty of a God of the gaps argument if they offer God as an explanation for some X rather than some natural phenomenon.  The problem with this definition is that it presumes the only valid explanation is a naturalistic explanation.  God is ruled out as a valid explanation for anything a priori, so anyone who offers God as an explanation for X is thought to do so merely because they are ignorant of the proper naturalistic explanation.  This begs the question in favor of naturalism and against theism.  One could only conclude that every effect has a naturalistic explanation, and that God is not a valid explanation, if one has first demonstrated that God does not exist.  So long as it is even possible that God exists, then it is possible that God may be the cause of X, and thus explain X.

What makes an argument a God of the gaps type of argument is when God is invoked to explain X simply because we do not know what else can explain X.  In other words, God is used to plug a gap in our knowledge of naturalistic explanations: “I don’t know how to explain X, so God must have done X.”  This is not at all the same as arguing that God is the best explanation of X, based on what we know regarding X and the explanatory options available to us.  Here, God is being invoked to explain what we know, not what we don’t know.

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The Scientific Collapse of MaterialismA lot of people think that science has proven that the material world is all that exists – no God, no angels, and no souls.  The problem is that science can never be used to justify the belief that the material world is all that exists (materialism, naturalism).  Science is a tool that examines the workings of the physical world.  Of course, if the material world is the only thing your tool examines, it is the only thing your tool will see.  But it doesn’t follow that what your tool examines is all there is to examine.  Edward Feser compares science to a metal detector.  It would not follow that since the metal detector only finds metal objects in the ground there are no treasure maps buried as well.  A metal detector is not capable of finding paper.  It is only geared toward finding metal objects.  Its success in finding what it is geared to find – metal objects – in no way serves as evidence that non-metal objects do not exist.  Likewise, the success of science in discovering the workings of the physical world in no way serves as evidence that there is no spiritual world.

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NWUScientists at Northwestern University claim to have found two sets of genes that may contribute to male homosexual orientation, but estimate that it only contributes about 40% to the chance of someone developing a homosexual orientation.[1] The other 60% is determined by environment, which includes social factors. This is consistent with what researchers have said all along. Sexual orientation cannot be determined entirely by biology. Nature plus nurture together most likely contribute to same-sex attraction.

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[1]Sarah Knapton, “Being homosexual is only partly due to gay gene, research finds”; available from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10637532/Being-homosexual-is-only-partly-due-to-gay-gene-research-finds.html; Internet; accessed 25 March 2014.

Brendan EichEarlier in the week it was reported that three of of Mozilla’s (the people who make the Firefox browser) board members resigned when Mozilla co-founder, Brendan Eich, was appointed as CEO of the company.  Why?  Because Eich gave $1,000 to support California’s Proposition 8 in 2008, a ballot initiative that sought to define marriage as an institution exclusive to male-female pairings.  His appointment as CEO so irked the dating site, OkCupid, that users attempting to login to the site received this message: “Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”

Now, it’s being reported that Eich has “resigned.”  Surely he wasn’t tired of the job yet.

Apparently some in the gay rights movement think that those who think natural marriage is the only valid form of marriage don’t deserve a job. As Todd Starnes writes, “Why not demand that those who oppose gay marriage relinquish the right to own property? Why not take away their right to vote? Why not take away their children? Why not just throw them in jail? Why not force them to work in chain gangs? Why not call for public floggings? Or better yet, let’s just strap them down on gurneys, stick a needle in their arm and rid the world of these intolerant anti-gay bigots once and for all.”This is the face of liberal tolerance.  Where is the uproar?

is-change-really-possible

Is it possible to change one’s sexual orientation? The gay community would say no. So do major psychological organizations. And that’s the perception one gets from the media as well. You might be surprised to learn, however, that a lot of research has been done in the area of sexual orientation therapy, and many people have experienced a lasting change in their sexual orientation. When it comes to the question of whether change is possible, the data, not political correctness should be determinative. So what is the data?

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health followed ~10,800 adolescents between the ages of 16 and 22, recording various bits of information over time, including sexual attraction. The findings regarding sexual orientation were published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2007.[1] Researchers found that 81% of females who reported same-sex attraction at age 16 reported opposite-sex attraction at age 17. Similarly, 61% of males who reported exclusive same-sex attraction at age 16 reported opposite-sex attraction just one year later. Only 25% of those boys who continued to experience exclusive same-sex attraction at age 17 reported same-sex attraction at age 22. Seventy-five percent of them had gained opposite-sex attraction over that five year period. All of this without any therapy, faith-based or otherwise.

These findings were in line with an earlier study, conducted in 1992 by the National Health and Social Life Survey. They found that three out of four boys who self-reported as gay at age 16 no longer did so at age twenty-five.

When it comes to same-sex attracted adolescents, at least, one is more likely to gain heterosexual attractions than keep their same-sex attractions. Change is not only possible, but more likely than not. In fact, 3% of the United States heterosexual population claims to have experienced same-sex attractions in the past (either exclusive, or bi-sexual), which is roughly the same amount of people who presently describe themselves as gay or bisexual.[2] The likelihood of change is so great that, in the words of Dr. Whitehead, “Ex-gays outnumber actual gays.”

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overheadIf what’s being taught in church goes over your head, it’s either the fault of the speaker or our own. If the speaker is not communicating complicated concepts in ways that are understandable to the uninitiated, then shame on him. But if he has done his due diligence to make it as understandable as possible, but we give up on the message simply because it is unfamiliar to us, then shame on us.

The solution to the problem of things going over our head may not be for the messenger to dumb down the message, but for us to do our due diligence to raise our heads higher. Let’s raise the bar intellectually. Discipleship requires that we move on from milk to solid meat. We cannot rehearse our spiritual ABCs year after year and think we’ll ever grown in the Lord. We need to challenge ourselves theologically and intellectually to become better disciples of Jesus. So raise your heads high, and so far as it is within your power, do not let another message go over your head.

Like spilled milk, it only takes a few seconds to spew utter nonsense from one’s mouth. Clean up, however, takes much more time.

In a sound bite culture like ours, most people don’t have the patience or interest to listen to the evidence and follow the logic of a rebuttal, and thus nonsense passes for common sense.

Multiverse 2Scientists differ among themselves regarding the scientific status of multiverse theories. Some, such as George Ellis, don’t think multiverse theories are testable, and hence not scientific. Others, think multiverse models are (or could be) testable, and hence are scientific. Many Christian apologists have sided with Ellis et al and rejected the multiverse as a valid scientific theory on the grounds that it is not testable. Some, including myself, have argued that multiverse theories are not based on the evidence, but ad hoc theories invented by cosmologists to get around the theistic implications of fine-tuning in physics.

Jeff Zweerink from Reasons to Believe wrote a short article addressing the scientific nature of and foundation for multiverse theories. He argues that some multiverse models do make testable predictions (even if we are currently unable to test those predictions empirically), and thus should be “included in the realm of scientific investigation (while stopping short of taking a firm position on the demarcation question –whether multiverse theories qualify as scientific).

More importantly, he argues that at least some multiverse theories are based on other scientific findings, and not invented whole-cloth for the purpose of answering the fine-tuning problem:

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In 2004 Michigan added an amendment to their constitution clarifying that marriage is only between a man and a woman. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled the amendment unconstitutional. Michigan’s Attorney General, Bill Schuette, has asked for a stay on the ruling.

This is the sixth state in the last four months to have their marriage laws ruled unconstitutional: Michigan, Texas, Utah, Kentucky, Texas, and Virginia.

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