Monthly Archives: August 2012

Abortion in the Case of Rape — A Brief Treatment

The ignorant comments of Senator Todd Akin add fuel to the already huge fire over the abortion debate.  Many conservatives oppose abortion in all forms, even in cases of rape and incest.  In an August 19 interview, Senator Akin was asked to clarify why he opposed abortion in cases of rape.  The following epic fail issued forth:

If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child. (source)

I want to first address the two periphery issues our Democratic friends like to focus on, then the real issue.  The real issue is obscured behind incidental (and I seriously hope unintentional) faux pas in his statement.

Calling them “faux pas” is too kind.  I like to keep the blog family friendly, and words like “douchebaggery” run contrary to that; even though it is a more fitting term.

Let’s press on.  The Senator’s first faux pas is “legitimate rape.”  This seems to suggest that there are cases of illegitimate rape.  Of course there are, but rape is under-reported, not over-reported.  And it remains under-reported because of ignoramuses like the Senator who blame the victim.

Senator Akin’s comment seems to suggest that if a woman gets pregnant by rape, it isn’t rape.  In other words, she must have wanted it.  That type of thinking has to sicken feminists to their core.  I’m not a feminist and it sickens me!

This leads to the second faux pas, suggesting that a woman’s body can somehow shut down a pregnancy if the rape is legitimate.  That’s an interesting superpower.  Why can’t women just do that for any unwanted pregnancy?  It would end the abortion debate and the controversy over government-sponsored contraception in one fell swoop!

And how would the woman’s body know the difference, exactly?  One fact I do know about rape is that the body reacts as if the sex is consensual, lubing up the right parts.  So the woman is violated by the rapist and betrayed by her own body.  That, of course, multiplies the shame exponentially and contributes to the under-reporting of rape.

Now on with the real issue.  Viewing this from a pro-life standpoint, abortion is morally wrong; it is murder.  In that light, when aborting a child conceived in rape, you punish the innocent child for the crime committed by the rapist.

Senator Akin later clarified:

I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life, and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. (source)

This was the point he was making in the first place, skewed by the stupidity of the surrounding context.  Liberals pick up on the wrong part of the message — but Senator Akin needs to realize that he gave birth to that monster by spouting the douchebaggery in the first place.

I defend the child conceived in rape as having a right to life.  I denounce the ignorance and backwards-thinking of Senator Akin, and join my liberal opponents in shock that he would make these comments.  But let’s keep the focus on the right to life, not assbag Senators who thoughtlessly spew epic fails that alienate large portions of their constituency.

This awesome tweet gets the last word:

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Crushing Another Meme

I never intended to crush silly memes as a theme for the past week, but that’s what ended up happening.  So when I saw this one, I thought I’d run with the unintended theme.

It’s titled “You should just, like, read the Bible!”  Which means, I suppose, that the Bible muddies things up by contradictions such as what we read on the right.

Well, is this a contradiction?  To answer that question, we need to go to the context of the verses.  I’m interested to see if each passage is making a different point to a different audience.  In that case, we’d have no contradiction at all.

In Matthew, the context is persecution by authorities.  Jesus is telling his disciples not to worry about the powers that be persecuting or killing them for the sake of the kingdom.  Don’t fear them, because they can only hurt the body.  Instead, fear the one who can destroy the soul — the real you.

Obey God, not men.

Continuing forward, we receive assurance that God takes care of his own.  Therefore, we (in reality) have nothing to fear and God will take care of us — especially if we acknowledge the Son before our tormentors.  Though we’re told to fear God, the remainder of the context shows that that isn’t necessary because he will, in fact, take care of us as he does all of  creation.

In 1 John, the context is God’s abiding love.  God loved us so perfectly, that he sent his Son to an atoning death for our sins.  There is no fear in God’s love because God’s perfect love is saving the believers from hell; therefore, we ought to love one another.  The perfect love drives out the fear because we are spared of the final judgement, and the fear comes from its punishment.  So we need not fear it.

Two passages: different contexts, different messages.  They are thematically related only in explaining why we should not fear final judgement — the perfect love of God abiding in us.

Not a contradiction.

And so, having crushed another meme, I shall enjoy a piece of Victory Gum…

Why do People Become Atheists?

I’ve posited that atheists do not want ultimate accountability to God, and that is part of their motivation for denying God’s existence.  Atheists try hard to resist that, but a few have been forthright about it.  Philosopher Thomas Nagel, for example, wrote:

I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.

Now, the Atheist Camel comes clean as well.  When contemplating what the reaction would be to bulletproof evidence that there is a god, he said:

I’ll proffer that it depends on the god’s persona. If it is a hands (or trunk, or tentacles) off god, who created us and lets us live out our lives as independent beings unfettered by its irrational  threats and demands; perhaps a fun loving kind of being that finds our behavior amusing or disgusting, but nevertheless nonjudgmental–  perhaps asking only for an occasional acknowledgement and thank you now and then I’d have no problem with it. Acknowledge and move on. (source, emphasis added)

So he’s fine as long as there is minimal intrusion in his life.  Now, what if this deity was the God of the Bible and did demand certain things?

Where scientists never before bothered to contemplate the supernatural, many of them, and our freethinking brethren, would now kowtow to this God’s demands.  But many more would turn their attention toward one objective…find a way to destroy it.  An underground movement, an army of partisans, dedicated to freedom of thought, rationality, fairness and conscience battling not only for the freedom to live life free from omnipotent oppression and irrationality, but for the freedom and right to die and fade into oblivion without pain and fear.

If there were a proven God of the Bible in all its horrendous glory man would be compelled to stop killing each other. The thinking among us would turn our undivided attention to find a way to kill this God monster … once and for all. (source, emphasis added)

So the truth comes out.  As long as the Atheist Camel gets to live as he chooses, with no interference from a deity, he’s fine.  But the moment there is an expectation of behavior and a requisite final judgement, he thinks that humans should join together and kill that God.

What can I say?  This confirms my original theory about atheists wanting to avoid final judgment classic-D&D-style — rolling a 20-sider and saying “I disbelieve.”  I just wish more atheists were this honest.

Another Ignorant Meme

Memes are created by the dozens everyday.  I have no idea what makes one meme go viral while others sit and rot.  But I’m convinced the anti-religious ones that go viral must do one of two things:

  1. Commit serious exegetical errors that Average Joe Christian cannot counter because the church sucks at apologetics.
  2. Commit a serious category error that Average Joe American won’t notice because he’s too busy watching horrid shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and not busy enough learning how to think critically.

This meme goes in the second group.  I would like to point out that it is exactly the same category error discussed with the Scumbag God meme: a failure to distinguish between “kill” and “murder.”

“Kill” is a broad term that refers to the taking of lives.  Murder, on the other hand, is the unlawful taking of a life.  All murder is killing, but not all killing is murder.  For example, the following “kills” are lawful:

  1. Hunting
  2. Trapping
  3. Euthanizing sick/injured animals
  4. Butchering animals for food/by-products
  5. Killing enemy combatants
  6. Capital punishment
  7. Self-defense
  8. Defense of another who is immediate, life-threatening danger
  9. Killing a person who presents an immediate threat to the community but not directly to you (police officers only)

No comment on the fairness of those kills, but they are considered lawful in that if you clean a fish, kill an enemy soldier, shoot a horse with a broken leg, or kill to protect your child you won’t face prison time.

Murder represents a case where you killed unlawfully.  For example, if you caught your wife in bed with another guy, then beat that guy’s head in with a sharpened stick, you’re going to jail.  I’m sure that the jury would sympathize with you, mostly because there’s at least one hotheaded, possessive S.O.B. of a juror who would have done the same thing.

But that doesn’t change the legality of your action.  You still killed without a justifiable reason.  And that makes it murder.  (In the above example, if you had no “cool-down” period, it would likely be charged as manslaughter, but my point still stands that the killing is unlawful.)

Capital punishment is the right of the state, agree or disagree with it, it is still a justifiable killing.  As is killing an enemy soldier in combat; soldiers know what they’re getting in to and they know they are risking their lives when they enter the armed forces.  Same as any police officer or government Special Agent.

So, you can be pro-life, pro-war, and pro-death penalty while not earning the brand of hypocrite.  Some might say that this is special pleading, but it isn’t because I’ve shown the one exception to special pleading — the principle of relevant difference.  Lawful killing of enemy combatants and convicted murderers/traitors is vastly different than murdering a baby in the womb.

Okay, I jumped the gun a bit.  I haven’t actually proven that abortion is murder.  And that’s not my aim.  My aim is to show that not all killing is unlawful, and therefore this meme commits a serious category error.

And now, having squashed another ignorant meme, I shall enjoy a piece of Victory Gum…

Another Facebook Meme that Should be Destroyed

Wow.  Just wow.  So many things wrong with this graphic.  So many problems and inconsistencies of thought. . . .  So many half-truths and misrepresentations. . . .

Let’s just start left and travel right.  A word of warning — this is longer than my average blog post because it covers a variety of topics related to same-sex marriage.  It’s approaching 1800 words and I cut quite a bit of material out.  Be warned as you travel below the fold. . . . Read the rest of this entry

How to Miss the Point: A Guide to Dimwitted Discourse

Sarah Geis from Think About These Things has an awesome post that every debater must read.  It is a primer on how to argue Internet-style:

People have valued reasoned, fair disagreements and good listening skills for far too long. It is high time we dispense with those boring and outdated formalities! After all, why respect the laws of logic when you can enjoy the adventure of following your own passions? When you get the point, you can only either agree or disagree. How boring! On the other hand, when you miss the point, you open up a fallacy-filled wonderland where conversation and emotions are set free to frolic! If you wish to dispense with the authoritarian laws of logic (which care nothing about you!) and transcend the boundaries of social courtesy, then here are some suggestions for you to try on your entirely subjective journey. These primarily apply to written arguments, but can also apply to listening to a spoken argument.

My personal favorite:

12. Remember that no one has the right to criticize things you like. 
Decide right now that all criticisms of anything you like are immediately invalid. After all, we know that things and people that we like are perfect.

Thanks for a wonderful post, Sarah!  Keep up the good work.

Quick Post: Ignorant Meme

Most memes that float around are plain ignorant, and thus are fairly easy to decimate.  And this one is no different:

The first thing that we have to understand about God is that he is all three branches of our American government combined — he’s the original theocracy.  He is, in fact, referred to by titles that reflect that:

  • Lawgiver — Isaiah 33:22, James 4:12 [Congress]
  • King of kings — 1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14 and 19:16 [President]
  • Judge — Genesis 18:25, Psalm 7:11, 2 Timothy 4:8 [Courts]

When God enacts a law as Lawgiver, he has the right to be both Judge and Executioner when enforcing said law.  God, like the State, can impose the death penalty for people who transgress the law.

The commandment referenced refers to cold-blooded murder.  Acts like self-defense or capital punishment imposed by the State are not in view and are not forbidden.  So God is not transgressing his own law by imposing the death penalty on a guilty party.  God isn’t murdering anyone, he is acting as Judge and Executioner.

So we are done here.  Next meme I crush is that lovely FB floater that asks if you still oppose gay marriage, and through a series of poorly-reasoned, badly-exegeted biblical examples shows you’re some kind of bigot.  It actually shows anything but that, as we shall soon see.

Why No Archelogical Evidence of the Exodus?

It is a common charge from critics that the Exodus left no archeological evidence behind.  The Christian answer, as “convenient” as it sounds to those critics, is pretty true if you actually put on your thinking cap for a moment.

In the words of Charlie Campbell:

Another objection critics raise regarding the Exodus concerns the lack of any Egyptian records mentioning the Israelite’s departure from the land. But a lack of records should not concern us. It is reasonable to believe that the Egyptians had some written record of the Exodus but as British Egyptologist Kenneth A. Kitchen says, voluminous papyrus archives once stored in Egypt have vanished:

In the sopping wet mud of the Delta, no papyrus ever survives (whether it mentions fleeing Hebrews or not)…In other words, as the official thirteenth-century archives from the East Delta centers are 100 percent lost, we cannot expect to find mentions in them of the Hebrews or anybody else. [1]

“Well,” the skeptic says, “perhaps no written record survives on papyrus, but surely there should be something in a wall relief that mentions the Exodus.”

I disagree. As Jeffery Sheler, U. S. News & World Report religion writer, says:

Official records and inscriptions in the ancient Near East often were written to impress gods and potential enemies, it would be quite surprising to find an account of the destruction of pharaoh’s army immortalized on the walls of an Egyptian temple…Indeed, the absence of direct material evidence of an Israelite sojourn in Egypt is not as surprising, or as damaging to the Bible’s credibility, as it first might seem. [2]

“Okay,” the skeptic reasons, “perhaps there wouldn’t be a wall relief telling the story of the Exodus, but surely the Israelites would have left behind some pottery in the Sinai desert during their sojourn from Egypt to Canaan.”

When it comes to archaeological evidence for the Exodus (such as pottery), it is important to remember that the Israelites lived as nomads during their time in the wilderness. Nomads living in a desert like environment, where every utensil and tool is of great value, leave few traces in the archaeological record. The Israelite’s temporary tent encampments from 3000 years ago would not have left much behind in the swirling sands of the desert.

Former Yale professor Millar Burrows agrees: “It is hardly reasonable, in fact, to expect archeological evidence of their sojourn anywhere. We cannot expect much help from archeology in tracing the route of a people’s migration through the desert.”[3] (source)

See this article for more detail.  We wouldn’t expect much archelogical evidence to survive.  Really, nomadic people leave very little behind.  Check JP’s comparison to the Scythians in the article for information on that.

Notes:

  1. K. A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, 466. Italics in original.
  2. Jeffery Sheler, Is The Bible True? 78.
  3. Millar Burrows, What Mean These Stones? 63.

Bittersweet. I always have a great deal of fun at the Avalanche Youth Ministry co-op, so I hate to see it end. But, we’ll be back in September and that means more fun and more reaching youth for Christ!

Congratulations to the Green Team for winning the gaudy trophy!!!!!!

Atheism and the Burden of Proof

One of the most frequent statements I hear when I talk about God with atheists is that there is “no evidence” that God exists, and that is usually followed by telling me that the burden of proof is on me, the theist, because I’m the one making the positive assertion.

However, an actual atheist, as I covered yesterday, is making a positive assertion — he is positively asserting there is no God.  This is framed negatively, but he isn’t withholding judgement on my assertion.  He declares it false.

Withholding judgement is agnosticism — not knowing.  In which case, I’m obliged to prove my case (or at least make a reasonable argument for it) for the benefit of the undecided person.

But the atheist has gone beyond withholding judgement.  He’s made one of his own, and for that he owes an explanation.

Think this through:

If I say, “God exists!”  Aside from, “Praise Jesus, I know he does!” there are two potential replies.  (Actually, there are more, but let’s just stick with these two for simplicity sake.)

Someone might respond, “I’m not convinced.”

This is your agnostic.  I should lay out my case for him.  If he remains unconvinced, we can discuss the particulars.  He has no specific position, so he owes me no explanation beyond what my argument lacks.

The other potential reply is: “Poppycock!  There is no god, you silly Christian.  Science disproves him.  Besides, there was never any evidence anyway.”

This is your atheist.  It is totally disingenuous for the atheist to think I’m the only one with a burden of proof here.  I will still lay out my case, however he needs to both rebut my case and lay out his own — merely rebutting my case doesn’t prove anything other than I have a poor case.  It only moves us to agnosticism, being unconvinced.  The atheist isn’t “withholding judgement”: he’s convinced that I’m wrong.  For that, he owes me an argument.

One needs nothing beyond “insufficient evidence” to withhold judgement, but the moment rejection enters the picture, a judgement has been made and a logical argument for why must be presented.  Saying “I lack belief in all gods” is a total cop-out and very lazy debating.

UPDATES:

  • 8/13/12 at 1:40am EDT because there were a lot of typos.  I’m ashamed of that.  1-2 is fine with me because I’m not perfect, but there were probably 4-5!
  • 8/19/12 at 12:41am: Another perspective from Steve Wilkinson here.