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Category “Apologetics”

The Dichotomy of Gun Control and Abortion Rights

I’m not a protector of gun rights. As I’ve previously argued, I’m not sure Christians should be. In fact, I’d give up the 2nd Amendment in heartbeat if it guaranteed an end to abortions. But it seems that some people want to have it both ways.

Access to abortion services is not in the Constitution. Yet liberal powers claim that it is so important that is should not be restricted by any safety measures that hinder access. Their arguments in Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Hellerstedt claim that Texas’ attempt to increase the safety standards of abortion clinics in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell atrocities must be stricken because it increases the barrier to access.

President Obama celebrated the decision, saying, “[The Texas laws] harm women’s health and place an unconstitutional obstacle in the path of a woman’s reproductive freedom.”1

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued in her own opinion paper, “When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners.” Ginsburg continued, “…targeted regulation of abortion provider laws that do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion, cannot survive judicial inspection.”2

Note Ginsburg’s “desperate circumstances” straw man, as if no pregnancy is ever terminated in order to preserve a current lifestyle. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, most abortions occur because “having a child would interfere with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for dependents, or she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems.”3

In Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s majority opinion, “Gosnell’s behavior was terribly wrong, but there is no reason to believe that an extra layer of regulation would have affected that behavior.”4

I’ll summarize these arguments: First, regulations should not overly restrict rights. Secondly, there is no evidence that these regulations reduce abuse of the right in question.

These are both arguments that advocates for 2nd Amendment rights make on a regular basis in resisting increasingly restrictive gun control laws. The liberal community argues that, when it comes to the 2nd Amendment, safety should trump open access to an actual Constitutional right. But when it comes to abortion, even though it is not a constitutional right, liberals will not tolerate the same arguments they themselves use in attacking the 2nd Amendment.

Why is this so?

Laws restricting both abortion access and gun access may seem to be common sense, but restrictions on abortion violate the core beliefs of the current moral revolution and its idolatry of human autonomy.

“Abortion in this case becomes the sacrament of this new idolatry,” Albert Mohler writes. “It is the sacrament of a modern humanistic religion to which the society is increasingly committed. Abortion is absolutely central to the sexual revolutionaries and to the moral revolution around us.”5

  1. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/06/27/statement-president-whole-womans-health-v-hellerstedt []
  2. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/15-274_new_e18f.pdf p. 47 []
  3. https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/pubs/psrh/full/3711005.pdf []
  4. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/15-274_new_e18f.pdf p. 32 []
  5. http://www.albertmohler.com/2016/06/28/briefing-06-28-16/ []

The Constitution and the Christian – Gun Rights

Here’s my 2 cents worth on the whole gun issue, as if there’s not enough opinion out already. I’m going to go the extra mile and annoy both sides, so read it to the end.

From a political perspective, the current broo-ha is spectacularly ill-thought out. It’s the definition of mob mentality. Politicians and activist want to ban semi-automatics like the AR-15 and other so-called “assault rifles.” But there’s no such thing as a semi-automatic assault rifle. There are assault weapons – I know because I shot at people with them – but they were never semi-automatic only. I’m convinced that the only reason these “assault rifles” are being targeted is because they look scary. That’s it. Personally, I think the AR-15 is a hobby toy that makes people feel cool. There are other legal weapons that could have been far more devastating in a club than the low power, low caliber Sig Sauer that was used in Orlando. But I guess a person looks a lot scarier with a gun that’s faux military, so ban it.

And would banning “assault weapons” fix the problem? Should we abandon this line of mitigation just because it’s not 100% effective? That’s a straw man. The real question is: At what level of ineffectiveness should we cease trying? Because we did this once already. “Assault weapons” were banned in 1994. The bill was allowed to expire in 2004 because it had no effect whatsoever.

There are middle ground areas, like putting all semi-automatic rifles under the 1934 National Firearms Act. Passed to keep mobsters from getting automatic weapons, it has strict requirement for ownership, like fingerprinting, approval of a local sheriff, registration, etc. This is more like what Canada has. Personally, I don’t think that this type of regulation will fly with the American public, though it would be worth a… ahem… shot.

And that brings us to the 2nd Amendment. The purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to provide for an armed people, in the case that if it becomes “necessary to alter or abolish” a government. I absolutely agree that an AR-15 is a terrible hunting weapon. But the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. In fact, if keeping with spirit of the amendment, the American public is woefully under-armed compared to its government. Some may argue that the 2nd Amendment only applies to militias (though today’s National Guard is a far cry from the municipal militias of the 1770s). However, the Supreme Court ruled against this interpretation in District of Columbia v Hellar, and frankly, the amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, regardless of the reason for it. But the reason is valid. The purpose of maintaining state militias after 1788 was to protect against overreach of the U.S. federal government. That falls in line with the Declaration of Independence’s justification of rebellion against Britain, and with current interpretations for the right to own semi-automatic weapons. The 2nd Amendment is a core part of our government; included in the Bill of Rights, demanded by Patrick Henry, and strongly supported by Jefferson. A simple examination of other writings at the time of the drafting of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights will strongly support this.

The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.

Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (1787).

Ok, with all that being said, here’s my Christian viewpoint:

I think the American Revolution was an unjust war, fomented and supported by a wealthy elite who wanted to maintain the trade advantages of salutary neglect. I’m not saying that they thought of it this way, but the blood of thousands was spilt over a political position on trade. It was hardly a war of self-defense or an attempt to stop rabid aggression and destruction.

The social conditions that generally are supposed to lie behind all revolutions—poverty and economic deprivation—were not present in colonial America. There should no longer be any doubt about it: the white American colonists were not an oppressed people; they had no crushing imperial chains to throw off.

Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (1991)

On the other hand, there’s a chance that if we hadn’t rebelled the British could have ended slavery much sooner and with no bloodshed, as they did in their other colonies. Our rebellion and the idea that we should overthrow unjust governments by force have been the seed of much conflict in this country.

There is also no justification for rebellion in scripture. The opposite, in fact. We are to obey those who God allows to be in authority over us. “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,”1 Christ said, and “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”2 Paul wrote, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God,”3 and “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”4

For a Christian, we don’t have a dog in this fight. We already know what we should do, and it doesn’t include shooting other people in a civil war. So from that perspective, it doesn’t really matter if the 2nd Amendment stands or falls. “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”5 Our constitution is the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. You may ask about self-defense, but I don’t think that the right to own a handgun is going to be an issue for a while, and even in that case, our ultimate protection is the will of God. Betsie ten Boom once said, “There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s world. No places are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety.”

So what is our calling? We are to be lights and salt. We should never excuse the sin around us, and especially not our own, but we should also follow Christ’s example of love to the lost. He told the mob, “He who is without sin cast the first stone,”6 but he told the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.”7
The world is only going to become more corrupt. It is the nature of man. Our time is limited, and the time of those souls without Christ is limited. Let our actions be focused on eternity without distraction.

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Romans 13:11-14

  1. Mark 12:17 []
  2. Matthew 5:10 []
  3. Romans 13:1 []
  4. Romans 13:7 []
  5. Hebrews 13:14 []
  6. John 8:7 []
  7. John 8:11 []

Because Science

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Humanistic Naturalism as a Religion

A recent Federalist article was titled with the startling accusation:

Bill Nye Is A Huckster

The writer called out Nye for putting ideological beliefs over good science.

Bill Nye fashions himself a voice of rational thought and scientific inquiry. His shtick has gotten him into classrooms and on an endless loop of evangelizing TV appearances. Yet nearly every time he speaks these days, Nye diminishes genuine science by resorting to scaremonger-y nuggets of easily dismissible ideologically-motivated nonsense.1

Well, that’s from the Federalist, but I was quite surprised to see similar sentiments coming from well known skeptic, agnostic, and science journalist John Horgan. His article in Scientific American skewers the “lesser priests” of scientism2 dropping names like Neil de Grasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and Ray Kurzewiel in his indictment.

Last month, Neil de Grasse Tyson said “the likelihood may be very high” that we’re living in a simulation. Again, this isn’t science, it’s a stoner thought experiment pretending to be science.

So is the Singularity, the idea that we’re on the verge of digitizing our psyches and uploading them into computers, where we can live forever. Some powerful people are believers, including Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil. But the Singularity is an apocalyptic cult, with science substituted for God.

When high-status scientists promote flaky ideas like the Singularity and multiverse, they hurt science.

It’s my observation that much of what passes for humanistic materialism today is “flakey” science, hopeful stories without any real scientific evidence – only the a priori assumption that naturalism is the Truth.

I grew up admiring Bill Nye, the Science Guy – I loved his experiments and the hands-on nature of what he did. But somewhere along the way he became Bill Nye the Atheist Guy, and his humanistic “huckstering” does little to promote the advance of science. Instead, we get his ideology.3

One other observation. The main point of John Horgan’s article is that Skeptics with a capital “S” often pursue the “soft targets” of religious belief and quack science instead of attacking harder targets like war, modern medical practices, and astronomical theories like the multiverse. As a Christian, I think sometimes that we spend too many resources attacking the soft target of naturalistic humanism, and not enough attacking the hard targets found in the misapplication and misinterpretation  of biblical doctrine. I disagree with Hogan on many points, but we can both agree that our belief systems spend too much time preaching to our choirs and not enough time challenging them.

  1. I used the title, “Because Science,” because that’s the argument that most naturalistic humanist use when they are asked to explain a naturalistic ideological position that can’t be explained by actual science. []
  2. an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation, including philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities []
  3. Which apparently includes throwing dissenters in prison: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/apr/14/bill-nye-open-criminal-charges-jail-time-climate-c/ []

The Only Safe Place

The recent and unexpected death of young Christian made me ponder again why “bad” things happen to believers.

It’s easy to question God’s plan in our own ignorance. The Bible clearly says, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.1” We often lack the perspective to understand what is good in God’s eyes, but we can trust him and seek to be in his purposes, not ours. There are two quotes I love on this subject. William MacDonald said, “We know that He answers every prayer in exactly the same way we would if we had His wisdom, love, and powers.”2 Betsie ten Boom, who died at the hands of Nazis in a concentration camp, told her sister Corrie,

There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – Oh Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!3

  1. Romans 8:28 []
  2. My Heart, My Life, My All, William MacDonald, 2001. Chap. 5 []
  3. The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom, 1974 []

From Godlessness to Ghosts

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Humanistic Naturalism as a Religion

Not quite on topic, but a good indicator of why humanistic naturalists tend to borrow the terminology and trappings of Christianity:

From the New York Times:

Ghosts, or at least belief in them, have been around for centuries but they have now found a particularly strong following in highly secular modern countries like Norway, places that are otherwise in the vanguard of what was once seen as Europe’s inexorable, science-led march away from superstition and religion. While churches here may be largely empty and belief in God, according to opinion polls, in steady decline, belief in, or at least fascination with, ghosts and spirits is surging… “God is out but spirits and ghosts are filling the vacuum,” said Roar Fotland, a Methodist preacher and assistant professor at the Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo. Instead of slowly eliminating religion, as Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx and other theorists predicted, modernity has only channeled religious feelings in unexpected ways, Mr. Fotland said. “Belief in God, or at least a Christian God, is decreasing but belief in spirits is increasing,” he added, describing this as part of a general resurgence of “premodern religion…” Arild Romarheim, a Lutheran priest and recently retired theology lecturer, described the conviction of well-educated atheists and agnostics that ghosts exist as “the paradox of modernity” — a revival of old beliefs to slake an innate human thirst for a spiritual life left unsatisfied by the decline of the church.1

  1. Hat tip to Albert Mohler’s “The Briefing” podcast []

This Is What It’s Like to Break Every Rule

When I was still young, I realized that I was missing something. I wasn’t sure what it was, but then someone told me. I was being imprisoned by the dictates of a theocracy that denied my most basic rights.

Not long ago I did the one thing almost everyone said I shouldn’t do, what good God-fearing girls don’t do. I may have lost my innocence, but I gained so much more. I understand now what it’s like to make my own choices, to have a will all my own, to be responsible for my own decisions. I feel a freedom that only those who leave behind everything they loved can feel. I have a sense of life that only those who truly understand mortality can have. I was liberated – able to finally do what was right in my own eyes, and not in the eyes of others.

When I told my companion that I feared doing it, he suggested to me that that those who judge often have ulterior motives. The desires that I had kept hidden away from everyone were justified – I needed to break the bonds they put on me. I wanted the best for me. They wanted to keep the best from me. I believed him.

When I did it, the effect was immediate. I felt vulnerable, very exposed. Something you didn’t think anyone would know about, suddenly everyone knew. I wasn’t alone in my decision, though. The one I thought would be most resistant chose to accept my decision. Seeing his shift to my way of thinking was amazing – it gave me confidence in my decision. His participation with me really validated my choice. But those I thought were closest to me were the first to condemn me. They said my decision put an almost insurmountable barrier between us. I was told that I had to leave my home or else. Their henchmen picketed my place of birth. Some carried threatening weapons. I was separated from everything I was meant to be. I felt like I had to hide, to cover myself.

I came out of my past into a different creation, and it’s been a hard journey. There’s a lot of things in my past I’ll never be able to get back, and I have to learn to live with it. But it has transformed the way I see the world, the way people experience me, like I’m 100% human. It feels like everything has gone from black or white to a rainbow of choices. Everyone has noticed it. It changed everything.

I tasted the forbidden fruit, and I have grown wise because of it.1

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened…”2

  1. Obviously, you’ve figured out this is a reference to Eve. However, this is a counter-factual Eve, a caricature of what she would be like in our post-modern, celebratory-of-sin society. She gained wisdom, but is forced to ignore or downplay the reality of her decision’s terrible costs. []
  2. Genesis 3:6-7 []

Right Questions, Wrong Places

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Humanistic Naturalism as a Religion

Jeffrey Kluger, Time Magazine, November 10, 2014 – Review of the move Interstellar

It’s huge, it’s cold, it’s soulless. It’s possessed of forces that would rip you to ribbons the second you dared to step off the tiny planetary beachhead it has permitted us. What’s more, it completely defies understanding, at least for anyone who’s not fluent in the language of singularities and space-time and wormholes and all the rest. But never mind, because we believe in it all—and oh, how we love it. Big cosmology has become our secular religion, a church even atheists can join. It addresses many of the same questions religion does: Why are we here? How did it all begin? What comes next? And even if you can barely understand the answers when you get them, well, you’ve heard of a thing called faith, right? Like religion, cosmology has its high priests: Einstein and Hawking—people who, like Muhammad and Jesus, don’t even need second names. It has lesser priests as well: Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson—the great communicators. It has its storytellers too, none more powerful than those in Hollywood.

Interstellar will unavoidably help us look at the cosmos more as cathedral than void—a place to contemplate the riddles of space and time, yes, but life, death and love too. That’s explicit in the movie.

 

Sunday Assembly

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Humanistic Naturalism as a Religion

In the third post in this series, I included a quote from Dr. Carolyn Parco in which she lamented science’s lack of ecclesiastical benefits. It looks like her prayers wishes might be answered. The Associated Press recently published an article detailing the spread of Atheist “mega-churches” called “Sunday Assemblies.”

Sunday Assembly co-founder and comedian Sanderson Jones is quoted in the article. His perspective is an unintended but stinging indictment of American church priorities.

If you think about church, there’s very little that’s bad. It’s singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships.

It is sobering to think that our churches have become so socially conscious in their behavior that leaving God out hardly changes the experience. Is it possible that God is subtly being treated as a “bad part”?

The article continues,

The inaugural Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles attracted several hundred people bound by their belief in non-belief.

Notice the implied contradiction in the phrase “belief in non-belief.” This is a key point in my series on natural humanism as religion: everybody has a faith-based belief about the supernatural, even if it’s the belief that no supernatural exists.

Similar gatherings… have drawn hundreds of atheists seeking the camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual.

While numerous humanists have commented on personal satisfaction with the scale and grandeur of the universe and their being a part of it, the attendees of “Sunday Assembly” can tell that something is missing. This missing element is worship. Humans are created to worship, but the universe is a cold, vacuous, and uncomprehending deity. These congregationalist seek ritual as a substitute for worship. The author of the article writes that they seek camaraderie without religion or ritual, but he is mistaken. In the same article he quotes a sociology professor who contradicts him.

‘There’s something not OK with appropriating all of this religious language, imagery and ritual for atheism,’ said Michael Luciano, a self-described atheist.

Luciano understands that ritual and religion is exactly what these people are seeking. He’s also right that it won’t help them. Religious ritual is empty without a worthy subject to worship. Without God, it becomes exactly what they accuse it of being; habits for emotional stabilization, devoid of personality. Like an infant’s pacifier, it may give them a temporary sense of comfort, but there’s no real nourishment.

As Christians, our nourishment is based on studying, remembering, and praising the work of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, and then imitating that work to others. All of our church behavior should reflect these principles. If not, we risk becoming another “Sunday Assembly.”

Hallelujah! – May the Force Be with You!

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Humanistic Naturalism as a Religion

In the previous post in this series, I said that naturalistic humanism borrows from religion the meanings of joy and good. I have found no greater example of this than in the writings1 of Carolyn Porco. Dr. Porco is a planetary scientist and currently leads the imaging science team on the Cassini mission now in orbit around Saturn. She was awarded the Carl Sagan Award in 2010 for “magnifying the public’s understanding of science.”

The confrontation between science and formal religion will come to an end when the role played by science in the lives of all people is the same played by religion today.

At the heart of every scientific inquiry is a deep spiritual quest — to grasp, to know, to feel connected through an understanding of the secrets of the natural world, to have a sense of one’s part in the greater whole…

Spiritual fulfillment and connection can be found in the revelations of science. From energy to matter, from fundamental particles to DNA, from microbes to Homo sapiens, from the singularity of the Big Bang to the immensity of the universe …. ours is the greatest story ever told. We scientists have the drama, the plot, the icons, the spectacles, the ‘miracles’, the magnificence, and even the special effects. We inspire awe. We evoke wonder.

These are reasons enough for jubilation … for riotous, unrestrained, exuberant merry-making.

So what are we missing?

Ceremony.2

Imagine a Church of Latter Day Scientists where believers could gather. Imagine congregations raising their voices in tribute to gravity, the force that binds us all to the Earth, and the Earth to the Sun, and the Sun to the Milky Way. Or others rejoicing in the nuclear force that makes possible the sunlight of our star and the starlight of distant suns. And can’t you just hear the hymns sung to the antiquity of the universe, its abiding laws, and the heaven above that ‘we’ will all one day inhabit, together, commingled, spread out like a nebula against a diamond sky?

One day, the sites we hold most sacred just might be the astronomical observatories, the particle accelerators, the university research installations, and other laboratories where the high priests of science — the biologists, the physicists, the astronomers, the chemists — engage in the noble pursuit of uncovering the workings of nature herself. And today’s museums, expositional halls, and planetaria may then become tomorrow’s houses of worship, where these revealed truths, and the wonder of our interconnectedness with the cosmos, are glorified in song by the devout and the soulful.

“Hallelujah!”, they will sing. “May the force be with you!”

  1. Dr. Porco’s essay has been edited for brevity. The full essay was included in Edge.org’s 2006 compilation, “What is Your Dangerous Idea?” and can be found at http://edge.org/response-detail/11273.  []
  2. The word “Worship” would be far more appropriate here, considering what Dr. Porco describes in the following paragraphs. []

A Staggering Dichotomy

Dichotomy: Two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities

trevon is murder abortion is a right

In the 20 days of the trial, the lives of approximately 63,000 unborn children in the United States were extinguished – silently, deliberately and legally murdered.1

#nojustice

  1. Based on 2009 rates of abortion. http://www.abort73.com/images/states-data.jpg []