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.

 

InfatuationThere is a difference between being enthralled/infatuated by someone, and being in love with someone.  Enthrallment or infatuation is when you are consumed with your desire for someone else.  Love, on the other hand, is the giving of oneself to another.  It is caring for their needs as you would your own.  It is doing all you can to make them a better person.  In short, infatuation is self-consuming, while love is self-giving.

I tend to think that we have so confused the two in our culture that only a minority of couples ever experience true love.  Instead, they experience intense periods of infatuation in the beginning of their relationship, and that gives their relationship the gas it needs to continue for a considerable distance.  But like a car that only gets filled with gas in the beginning of a long trip, the relationship does not reach its intended destination of “til death do us part.”  Only true love (or pure will and commitment) can fuel a relationship so that it can endure the many hardships of life.

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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