Monday, January 21, 2019

If immigration is outlawed, only outlaws will immigrate

Shouldn't we be making legal immigration less prohibitive, so that fewer people want to cross illegally. Trump wants to make it more prohibitive if you come from "shithole" countries like Mexico, Honduras, or El Salvador, and then of course needs bigger walls and more border security to keep people from coming in. My main disagreements with people like Trump over immigration center much more on legal immigration than on illegal immigration. If you let more people in legally, you take business away from the cartels and the smugglers. They are no longer needed.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Is there any evidence that there were any gay people in Sodom?

Is there a single shred of evidence in the text that consensual gay activity was ever committed in Sodom? Raping an outside visitor could easily be explained in terms of an interest in domination, as opposed to homosexual attraction. Let me ask again: is there any real evidence that there were any gay people in Sodom, and that the homosexual interest in the visitors had anything to do with same-sex attraction?

Friday, January 18, 2019

Should there be compassionate reasons for allowing people to enter our country?

People sometimes say that they support legal immigration, but not illegal immigration. What do we mean when we say we support legal immigration? Trump, for example, thinks that some people should be allowed to come into the country, those who have a lot of skills, but he thinks that we have an obligation to allow others into the country who may need to come, but won't necessarily benefit OUR economy. So, if you want to come into our country, you can't just get in line. For many people, there is no line to get in. Should people be allowed into our country for compassionate reasons, or does allowing such people into the country render us suckers?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Greed, Trump, and Compassionate Conservatism

Trump in the 2016 campaign said he was very greedy, and implied that his greed is a good thing. 

Biblical Christianity, on its face, is in conflict with the basic goals of capitalism. The goal of capitalism is to win the game of Monopoly and have all the money, the Bible says that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a gay man to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Oh, wait a minute, I have one word wrong in that quote. The word "gay" to be replaced by rich. And, of course I love that Bible passage in which Jesus cast the abortionists out of the Temple. Oops, got that one wrong, too. It was the moneychangers. The love of money is the root of all evil. That comes from what, the Communist Manifesto? No, the Bible.
Now Christians can respond by saying that before turning God into a commie, you should think about the fact that wealth in itself isn't necessarily bad, so long as it is acquired ethically, and a person is generous with it once they get it. John Wesley said "Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can." What no Christian can say is what Gordon Gekko said in Wall Street, that greed is good. Greed is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
One can, it seems to me, reconcile conservatism with Christianity by saying that while greed isn't good, and the wealthy should be generous in alleviating the poverty of others, attempts to get the government to force this generosity puts too much power in the hands of government. This puts the onus on private generosity, not the government, to alleviate the ill effects of social inequality. We can argue about whether this works, but at least the heart of it is in the right place. This "compassionate" version of conservatism is the only one compatible with Christianity. Given this, Christians who accept conservatism ought to have a real problem with a President who advocates and practices the Gordon Gekko philosophy that greed is good. Oh, he also says he loves to brag, and of course that one is on the top of the list of the Seven Deadly Sins.
While conservatism is consistent with Christianity, Trumpism is not.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Has there been an increase in illegal immigration? Is this the crisis our government is shutting down over? 

The report from the NY Times is here.  Oh yeah, it comes from the NYT, so it just HAS to be leftist propaganda. So these statistics and facts were made up? 

From Fact or Opinion to Fact, Preference or Judgment

In teaching philosophy, I have from time to time been asked whether the enterprise am teaching is a matter of fact or opinion. Or, when students write for me, they ask if I want their opinions. If I say "no," the papers end up looking like book reports. If I say "yes" they end up being a mass of subjective feeling, and if I challenge that, they think that I am simply grading them down because they I feel differently from the way they do, and how dare I do that? I think this derives from the fact that these students learned a fact-opinion distinction back in grade school that makes philosophical inquiry hard to place. For example, either there is a God or there isn't, but is there a clear methodology that gets one correct answer? Maybe, but few students come to class believing that. So they conclude that since this isn't an issue of fact, it must be opinion, and however I feel about it has to be OK. After all, I am, you know, entitled to my opinion. 
My critical thinking text, by Richard Paul and Linda Elder, proves  a revision of the old fact-opinion distinction you probably learned in grade school, but that distinction fails to cover a number of domains of inquiry where there is no one provably correct answer, but facts are relevant, and there are truths to be discovered. That is a matter of judgment. Take the question "Is there a God?" I take it that it has a true answer, whether we can know that answer or not. There either is a God, or there isn't. Reasons can be given on both sides of that question, and while some think it can be given one correct answer, most philosophers of religion think that reasonable persons can go either way. Nevertheless one can have a reasonable belief on the matter even if hard proof is unavailable either way. And even if you think there is one right answer, it is important to argue that one can inquire about this, and other controversial questions without having to assume that one and only one correct answer can be given to the satisfaction of all reasonable persons. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Does relativism lead to tolerance?

Not necessarily.  And should we be tolerant of, say, female genital mutilation? China's one-child policy? The Hindu caste system? The unwillingness of some cultures to educate girls? Executing people for committing adultery? Racial discrimination, if it occurs in another culture? What we are often asked to tolerate are themselves intolerant practices.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Newman's Seven Tests for Doctrinal Development

Here.  Is this a middle path between "anything goes" liberalism and Scalia-style originalism, if we make the mistake of applying it to constitutional law.