Monday, April 30, 2018

How the NRA became radically opposed to all gun control

It didn't used to be that way, before the late 1970s when Hanlon Carter took over the organization.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Is proof necessary

 From here. 

"I do not think there is a demonstrative proof (like Euclid) of Christianity, nor of the existence of matter, nor of the good will & honesty of my best & oldest friends. I think all three are (except perhaps the second) far more probable than the alternatives. The case for Christianity in general is well given by Chesterton; and I tried to do something in my Broadcast TalksAs to why God doesn’t make it demonstratively clear: are we sure that He is even interested in the kind of Theism which would be a compelled logical assent to a conclusive argument? Are we interested in it in personal matters? I demand from my friend a trust in my good faith which is certain without demonstrative proof. It wouldn’t be confidence at all if he waited for rigorous proof. Hang it all, the very fairy-tales embody the truth. Othello believed in Desdemona’s innocence when it was proved: but that was too late. Lear believed in Cordelia’s love when it was proved: but that was too late. ‘His praise is lost who stays till all commend.’ The magnanimity, the generosity which will trust on a reasonable probability, is required of us. But supposing one believed and was wrong after all? Why, then you would have paid the universe a compliment it doesn’t deserve. Your error would even so be more interesting & important than the reality. And yet how could that be? How could an idiotic universe have produced creatures whose mere dreams are so much stronger, better, subtler than itself?"
C. S. Lewis, letter to Sheldon Vanauken (23 December 1950), from A Severe Mercy

Why evangelical Trump support is overrated


Lead-footed Literalism

Taking the Bible literally is one way of abusing it.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Health care and capitalism

Some people think that health care should be an individual responsibility. Some people think that capitalism shouldn’t be undermined, and just as some people can’t afford a Mercedes, some people can’t afford health insurance. That’s just the breaks. If something is a matter of capitalism, some people are going to be unable to afford some things. Here. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

J. L. Mackie and the bunny rabbit

This is from J. L. Mackie's The Miracle of Theism 

“…there is a priori no good reason why a sheer origination of things, not determined by anything, should be unacceptable, whereas the existence of a god with the power to create something out of nothing is acceptable.” 

 I usually reply to this with my bunny rabbit argument. Suppose you and I are eating lunch. You look away, and then, you notice a bunny rabbit is munching on your salad. You ask me how it got there, and I reply, that, funny thing, it just popped into existence without a cause. Would you take that seriously?

Monday, April 23, 2018

The China Delusion

 It looks as if they have been reading Richard Dawkins in China. “It is an offense for any organizations or individuals to guide, support, permit and condone minors to believe in religions or participate in religious activities,” the letter said.

The l
etter said minors were at a critical stage of physical and mental development and had no independent thinking, so parents had an obligation to nurture children in accordance with national laws and social requirements.


HT: Bob Prokop

Lydia McGrew on approaches to the resurrection.


Friday, April 20, 2018

The Sharpened Intellect

Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Do you believe in American civil religion? Not me.

Discussed here.  

Civil religion, on the one hand, often refers to America's covenantal relationship with a divine Creator who promises blessings for the nation for fulfilling its responsibility to defend liberty and justice. While vaguely connected to Christianity, appeals to civil religion rarely refer to Jesus Christ or other explicitly Christian symbols. Christian nationalism, however, draws its roots from "Old Testament" parallels between America and Israel, who was commanded to maintain cultural and blood purity, often through war, conquest, and separatism. Unlike civil religion, historical and contemporary appeals to Christian nationalism are often quite explicitly evangelical, and consequently, imply the exclusion of other religious faiths or cultures.

Does Richard Carrier Exist?


Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Christian tribute to an atheist philosopher


Guns don't kill people, people kill people. So do slogans

If a gun is discharged and kills a person, it is true it is normally caused by a persons. So, a person decides to kill, this causes the person to pull the trigger, this causes the gun to discharge, and if it reaches its target, the person dies. So the gun caused the death, but the shooter caused the gun to caused the death.
But this doesn't meant that the availability of guns, or certain types of guns, or the availability of guns for certain types of people, isn't a bad thing. If a parent leaves a loaded gun out for a six-year old to get their hands on, and he shoots and kills his little brother, the parents can't just blame their kid and say "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." There is a reason why mass shootings happen in the US at a far more frequent pace than they happen in Britain, Canada, or the countries of Western Europe. With the Parkland shooting, someone with known violent tendencies has able to get a hold of an AR-15, a weapon that could kill numerous people in succession without the shooter having to reload. 
Slogans are very tricky. Because there is always a shooter who is morally responsible for the shooting, and the gun, as an inanimate object, is not responsible for the shooting, doesn't mean that there aren't reasonable ways in which we could limit gun availability and save lives. 
If I am homicidally angry and I have no weapon, I could choke someone to death, but that might prove difficult. Even stabbing someone to death with a kitchen knife might take a great deal of effort and be messy. If all I have to do is squeeze a trigger, it is going to be more likely that my homicidal intentions will reach fruition. And this will be so even if it is true that I and not my weapon if I use one, will be morally responsible for the act of homicide. 
Beware of slogans. They are often a substitute for critical thinking. 

It's Whately Time, again

This famous essay using anti-Christian arguments against Napoleon is a classic, and deservedly.

Monday, April 09, 2018

How God's nature is known

Some arguments for God. Here. 

Why are there Jesus skeptics but not Alexander the Great skeptics

Gary Habermas asks here. 

Obama on religious liberty

He does say this about opponents of same-sex marriage: 

I think it’s important to recognize that folks who feel very strongly that marriage should be defined narrowly as between a man and a woman, many of them are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective. They’re coming at it because they care about families. And they have a different understanding, in terms of what the word “marriage” should mean. And a bunch of ’em are friends of mine, pastors and people who I deeply respect.

But figures in his administration have not followed this up with their policy statements and actions,  unfortunately. 

McGrath on the Trilemma

Here.  It is designed to refute the idea that Jesus was a good man but not God, not to prove Jesus's divinity.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Reading assignment

People need to read C. S. Lewis's Meditation on the Third Commandment. Over, and over and over, and over, and over. 

Christianity will make you uncomfortable with the ideology of ANY party. If you are completely comfortable with the ideology of any party as a Christian, you are not thinking clearly.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The bigot-bomb and the 2016 election

By the way, the attempt to, as I call it, bigot-bomb people who believe in and defend traditional marriage by comparing them to Klansmen is one of the things that got Trump elected. Evangelical Christians noticed that Hillary's infamous "deplorables" comment took place at an LGBT gathering. That and some statements by Obama administration officials that trivialized religious freedom issues as merely a cover for discrimination. 

It is one thing to say that we need gay marriage to be fair within a religiously diverse society, but we understand the right and rationality of people to dissent from the idea that gay relationships can ever truly be marriage. It is another to attribute all opposition to bigotry, as something not even deserving of respect in a pluralistic society. 

What puzzles me about all of this is that the Democratic politicians like Obama, Biden, the Clintons, and Kaine, are all Christians. Hillary seems very serious about faith. I know conservatives like to discredit faith claims made by liberals, on the assumption that if they were true believers they wouldn't be pro-choice. But liberals could just as easily counter that they think the faith of conservatives is phony because they support public policies that harm the poor and the needy, something that is all over the Bible. 

If you look at Romans 1 and other passages on homosexuality, it doesn't look good for gay relationships at least on the face of things. 

Now there may be ways of interpreting those passages so that they aren't so bad for homosexuals, or you can say that they reflect a limited understanding of homosexuality from the first century and they are not God's final word on the matter. But you have to admit that if it can be reasonable to be a Christian (I take it all these Democratic politicians think that), then it can also be reasonable, based on what Christians think of a special revelation, that homosexual acts are sinful. Because these arguments are Christian-specific, they might not be an adequate basis for law, but when we separate church and state we leave areas for the church that the state has to keep its hands off. By contrast, no reasonable interpretation of the Bible supports white supremacy. (Curse of Ham? Give me a break). These Democrats are also recent converts to the idea of gay marriage (Hillary says that Chelsea convinced her to accept it), so was she a bigot when she opposed gay marriage? Was her husband a bigot when he signed DOMA? 

This implied bigotry charge against conservative Christians kept a lot of them in the Trump fold when Access Hollywood should have sent them running for the hills. I believe that if the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign had retained a respectful attitude toward opponents of gay marriage, even while disagreeing with those opponents, they evangelical bloc would not have held for Trump and Hillary would be President today.

I stand by my view that the price of electing a corrupt, impulsive, racist such as Trump who has spent a lifetime disrespecting women is too high to make this choice the right one. But I do understand it.