Friday, December 29, 2017

A case from Francis Beckwith on refusing service

Suppose a local congregation of Jews for Jesus plans to conduct several adult baptisms at a nearby river and wants to celebrate the event with a catered post-baptismal reception held at the church. They approach restaurant owner, Mr. Saul, an observant Orthodox Jew, and request an estimate for his services. (Mr. Saul’s business is family owned and run; his employees are all close relatives, all of whom are observant Orthodox Jews like Mr. Saul). After he provides the estimate, the congregation’s pastor, Mr. Paul, tells Mr. Saul that the name of his congregation is “Jews for Jesus Community Church” and that the five people to be baptized were raised in Jewish homes and had converted to Evangelical Christianity just two weeks ago. At that point, Mr. Saul says that he cannot cater the event, since he cannot cooperate with a celebration of apostasy from Judaism. Mr. Paul leaves not only disappointed, but feels discriminated against. After all, he reasons, Mr. Saul is an observant Jew and thus denies the religious efficacy of baptism and would likely have no problem catering post-baptismal celebrations held in Christian churches whose primary mission is not to target Jews for evangelization. So, Mr. Paul concludes that Mr. Saul harbors animus against his particular church and that his refusal to provide services to the church violates a local ordinance that forbids discrimination based on religion in public accommodations. Mr. Paul subsequently files a complaint with the local Human Rights Commission. In his reply to the complaint, Mr. Saul argues that he is in fact not discriminating against the congregation based on religion, but rather, he is basing his denial of service on the nature and context of the liturgical event with which he was asked to cooperate and what his own tradition tells him is an act of public apostasy from the Jewish faith. He also argues that he would be more than happy to provide catering to any member of the congregation as long as the service does not involve him with cooperating with apostasy. The Human Rights Commission does not buy it. They rule: “In conclusion, the forum holds that when a law prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, that law similarly protects conduct that is inextricably tied to religion. Applied to this case, the forum finds that Respondents' refusal to provide catering for a baptismal celebration for Complainants because it was for their Jews for Jesus baptism was synonymous with refusing to provide catering because of Complainants' religion.”

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Naturalistic atheism and the value of truth

One could make this argument: 

1) People ought, in areas of religion, to form beliefs in accordance with truth only if there are objectively correct moral values. 

2) If naturalism is true, there are no objectively correct moral values. 

3) Therefore, if naturalism is true, then we have no moral obligations to form beliefs in accordance with truth. 

But this wouldn't be a response to all forms of atheism, only naturalistic ones. An atheism that allowed for the existence of the Form of the Good, or a Law of Karma, or an inherent purpose for human life, could avoid this conclusion without difficulty. But such views are dismissed as so much woo my typical atheists of the present day. 

John Lennox's Christmas for Doubters


Monday, December 18, 2017

Can we reject Ockham's Razor?

Can you just say "to heck with Ockham's Razor? It is interesting in my area of research where atheists insist that rational and nonrational explanations don't exclude one another and both are true, yet physical explanations exclude theological explanations, because of Ockham's Razor. If the mind can be fully explained as the result of physical causes, and we apply Ockham's Razor, it becomes Ockham's Lobotomy, and we are all mindless.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Roy Moore's Defeat

Does anyone see great irony that Roy Moore lost a safe Republican Senate seat by violating one of the commandments that he so ostentatiously put on his famous courthouse monument?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

William Alston's Return to Faith

HT: Steve Hays. 

The main bar to faith was rather the Freudian idea that religious faith is a wish fulfillment–more specifically, an attempt to cling to childish modes of relating to the world, with the omnipotent daddy there presiding over everything. A powerful case can be made for the view, which is not necessarily tied to the complete Freudian package, that the most important psychological root of religious belief is the need that everyone has for such a childish relationship with a father figure. Be that as it may, I had been psyched into feeling that I was chickening out, was betraying my adult status, if I sought God in Christ, or sought to relate myself to an ultimate source and disposer of things in any way whatever. The crucial moment in my return to the faith came quite early in that year’s leave, before I had reexposed myself to the church or the Bible, or even thought seriously about the possibility of becoming a Christian. I was walking one afternoon in the country outside Oxford, wrestling with the problem, when I suddenly said to myself, "Why should I allow myself to be cribbed, cabined, and confined by these Freudian ghosts? Why should I be so afraid of not being adult? What am I trying to prove? Whom am I trying to impress?

Whose approval am I trying to secure? What is more important: to struggle to conform my life to the tenets of some highly speculative system of psychology or to recognize and come to terms with my own real needs? Why should I hold back from opening myself to a transcendent dimension of reality, if such there be, just from fear of being branded as childish in some quarters?" (Or words to that effect.) These questions answered themselves as soon as they were squarely posed. I had, by the grace of God, finally found the courage to look the specter in the face and tell him to go away. I had been given the courage to face the human situation, with its radical need for a proper relation to the source of all being. William P. Alston, "A Philosophers Way Back to the Faith." God and the Philosophers: The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason, ed. T.V. Morris (New York: Oxford, 1994).