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Postmodernism in 140 Characters

Postmodernism is a complex philosophy.  I printed out the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on it, and it ran 18 pages (including bibliography).  Though the opening of that article (accessed 9/21/2012) states that postmodernism is “indefinable as a truism” and is actually “a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices …,” I think that DamnRightTweets™ has managed to distill all of postmodernism into a single tweet:

https://twitter.com/DamnRightTweets/status/334065733082435584

Let’s disassemble that. Read the rest of this entry

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Is Having Sex Also Consent to Having a Baby?

choice2013I wanted to revisit a conversation I once witnessed between @juliewashere, a Twitter user and founder the Golden Coat Hanger, a blog on feminist and abortion issues, and @KatyPundit (who is male and named David; so much for my uncanny ability to guess gender using forum aliases).  It was almost two years ago and before I knew about WordPress’s supercool feature to reprint tweets in graphical format, so I have only text copies of the tweets involved.

I wanted to revisit the conversation because this is a line of argument that has always bugged me in regard to pro-choice folks.  They don’t think that sex necessarily must equal a baby.  While that is true, the fact is that a baby is a potential result of sex, and murder is not an appropriate method to deal with said consequence.

Julie asked when she gave consent to pregnancy, and David told Julie, “You gave consent when you spread em open.” Julie responded:

that’s consent to sex, and ONLY sex.

David replied, “LOL, Sex makes babies. At least that’s how MY kids got here… U came by Stork?” And Julie responds with a disconnect between sex and pregnancy:

no, pregnancy makes babies, and it takes several months.

What does Julie think causes pregnancy?  I’m not sure.  But I want to take a moment to ponder her position that consent to sex is consent to the physical act, and thus not tacit consent to pregnancy.  Since there was no consent to pregnancy, this entitles the pregnant woman to terminate the unwanted pregnancy.

Let’s apply this to another situation.

If I needed a ride home from work, and one of my employees was kind enough to offer a ride, does that means I consent only to the ride home?  Well, actually, it means I give tacit approval to whatever happens on the ride home — whether I like it or not.  In other words, I can’t roll a d20 against my intelligence and disbelieve something I don’t like away.

For example, if the employee ran a red light and another car crashed into my side of the car, paralyzing me from the waist down.  A grim outcome to be sure, and I can seek monetary damages against the employee for medical expenses and rehab.  But I can’t wish the paralysis away.

In a way, abortion is the magic disbelieve roll.  “I’m not ready,” or “I don’t want to be a parent yet,” or any of the other excuses (and they are excuses) one manufactures.  The fact of the matter of is sex is tacit consent to pregnancy, since pregnancy is a possible result of sex.  We are taught in grade school that that is the case, so there isn’t an excuse for not knowing.

Sex ==> Pregnancy ==> Baby

Divorcing pregnancy and parenthood from sex is a myth of our modern age, and abortion reinforces that myth.  That is a very serious issue, and it comes to the forefront each year on this dark anniversary.

Are We Ever REALLY Neutral?

“Human beings are never neutral with regard to God. Either we worship God as Creator and Lord, or we turn away from God. Because the heart is directed either toward God or against him, theoretical thinking is never so pure or autonomous as many would like to think.”

— Ronald Nash

Questions Theists Can’t Answer: 2 Wise Observations

Belief is, by definition, the consideration of something unsupported by evidence. Because of this, it is inherently unfounded on truth.

Depends on what sort of belief is under consideration. Some beliefs are logical deductions based on other beliefs. These are founded on the truth of the beliefs that come before them. Others are grounding beliefs that have no evidence to support them one way or the other.

The problem with this statement is that it applies to atheists as well. Everyone, whether theist or atheist, starts somewhere in their structure of beliefs. Those presuppositions upon which a worldview is based are really the crux of the debate between atheism and theism. The theist starts with God, while the theist starts with nature.

I’ve also noticed that one atheist commented that one way they can tell that theists are full of “bullshit” is that we can answer every question. The scientist, it is reasoned, admits his limitation and is happy to say, “I don’t know” when he doesn’t know the answer. Theists, on the other hand, answer every question that the atheist proposes. Since we never seem to admit that we don’t know the answer, that means that we’re full of it.

So, basically, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.  Let me illustrate why.

The existence of a list such as this indicates that the atheist believes that we can’t answer every question proposed. That might be true. A few months after I started my main blog, I was forced to admit that I didn’t know the answer to the proposed dilemma:

So which is stronger, manfluence or Godfluence? Well, Hasic posits that man put the belief about God in the heads of children, and that the kids are responding to that belief, not to God. But this overlooks the fact that God determined the situation in which these kids were placed, not man. If they grow up Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim, He wanted that to happen for a reason known only to Him and that increases His glory somehow.

I don’t know why and there isn’t any way to find out (Job 37:5). (source, emphasis added)

There really are somethings that humans don’t know the answers to, and I’ve tried to be forthright about that. Now, usually when I do, the atheist in the argument immediately claims victory: “Ha! I found a question you don’t know the answer to! I win!”

Can’t have it both ways, guys. Either you want me to answer everything, or you want me to admit that I occasionally don’t have an answer. But you can’t claim victory when I have all of the answers, and also claim victory if I don’t have all the answers. We call that “stacking the deck.”

Why Aren’t Christians Better People?

C. Michael Patton began a series on questions he hopes no one will ask, which relates to my own series on DaGoodS’s questions that Christians hope no one will ask.  I examined a few of his questions in brief already, and I had intended to continue examining them as he posted more.  In the interest of time, I wanted to just write a small snippet on each and combine several in a single post.

That didn’t happen with the question of why Christians aren’t better people. Read the rest of this entry

Ignorance of Pro-Choice

I had planned to write a post yesterday refuting two common Bible verses that pro-choice advocates cite to “prove” that the Bible is actually pro-choice. Of course, if the choicers understood the historical and cultural context of those verses, they’d be singing a different tune. Or at least not using them to undermine the Bible’s clear pro-life position.

For more, check the blog fellow apologist and brother in Christ, Dave Armstrong, who has listed numerous verses on why the Bible is pro-life.

If I had scheduled that post to appear today, that would have left me free to read and research on the scientific and philosophical reflections on what makes a life alive. That would have been posted tomorrow. And then I’d have the weekend free to finish my series on DaGoodS’s questions that Christians hope no one asks.

But I got unexpectedly busy yesterday, and that busyness continued through today, which means I wasn’t as active in “Ask Them What They Mean by Choice” Day, the pro-life countermeasure to Blog for Choice Day, as I wanted to be.

But I still wanted to do something for it, so I found @juliewashere, a Twitter user and founder the Golden Coat Hanger, a blog on feminist and abortion issues, and I decided to use her tweets to show how extraordinarily inconsistent her pro-choice position actually is. It’s inconsistent to the point of frightening. Let’s look.

Twitter user @KatyPundit (who is male and named David; so much for my uncanny ability to guess gender using forum aliases) told Julie “You gave consent when you spread em open.” Julie responded:

that’s consent to sex, and ONLY sex.

Which is a perfect example of why sex education in America is failing. Pregnancy results from sex. Not every time, but it is a looming possibility each and every time a man and a woman lay down together. So, if you have sex, you’d best be prepared for pregnancy.

David reminds her of this fact: “LOL, Sex makes babies. At least that’s how MY kids got here… U came by Stork?” And Julie responds with a disconnect between sex and pregnancy:

no, pregnancy makes babies, and it takes several months.

Nice, genius. What do you think makes a person pregnant? I think this line of reasoning comes from someone who wants to have sex with any given partner at any given time and not have to worry about a potential pregnancy. In other words, sex isn’t for intimacy and love; it has no spiritual dimension, nor should it always be connected with bringing new life into this world. Sex is purely for the enjoyment of the two people doing it.

Yet another instance of people wanting to give into the flesh and jettison anything to do with higher, spiritual decisions. It can’t be about self-control and discipline! Sex feels too good to be disciplined about it, right? I heard Brian Sapient of the Rational Response Squad argue that pre-marital sex was a right belonging to all human beings that has been co-opted by religion. I guess Julie would agree with that line of reasoning.

Jack Yoest (@JackYoest) said, “The mothers went in to get a dead baby,” of Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s patients. Julie responded:

No, they went in to get rid of fetuses.

What does she think a fetus is? Not a person, as she tweets:

Fetuses are real, they just aren’t people. Learn to read.

And:

I was never a fetus just like I was never a sperm. There was simply no me yet.

First, notice that there was no “her” in either the sperm or the fetus. That will become important later. Now, look at this contradictory tweet:

Live doesn’t begin at conception, it was already present before that. You fail biology.

And Julie fails the argument. Abortion takes a human life unjustly, which is the textbook definition of murder. She just admitted that life was present before conception, therefore it follows life is also present during the pregnancy and development of the unborn child (she denies the existence of an “unborn child” in another tweet). However, if she denies that a fetus is a human life, she must explain when it becomes one.

Julie defines human life in this tweet:

children are sentient, sapient, non-parasitic human beings. Nothing magic about it. Welcome to reality.

Julie’s previous tweets show us that she understands (though she may not acknowledge it) that the mind and the brain are separate. This tweet essentially confirms that position. I’ve established in this post that the brain and major organs function in a fetus prior to 10 weeks. Julie explains that while in the womb, before and after conception, there was no “her.” She believes that it is the mind that makes a person a person. That is evidenced by the fact she has tweeted “Women are people. There is just no compromising that point” and “bio fact: fetuses are non-sentient.”

Yet the mind and the brain are inexorably connected. When the brain ceases to function, the mind loses its ties to this material existence. Without my Christian faith, I couldn’t answer for certain what happens then. The problem Julie has is that she must explain when the mind begins to exist in order to definitively argue that the act of abortion isn’t murder. She never does that; she is basing her pro-choice position, then, on the unproven assumption that the fetus has no mind. Yet it has a brain that functions.

Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, part 6

Former Christian turned atheist DaGoodS (DGS) has compiled a list of eleven questions that he doesn’t think Christians can answer. I’ve decided to take him on, since I’m a sucker for questions that Christians supposedly can’t answer. Hopefully, DGS and I can learn something from each other.

Question #6, the most foolishly misguided question, is:

If God lied, how would you know?

For some reason, atheists treat faith as a foul word that rivals the f-bomb for words that shouldn’t be used in civil conversation. This is because they are seriously misguided as to what it means.

Here are some skeptical examples representative of how they typically define the concept of faith:

  • Voltaire: “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”
  • Nietzsche: “Faith: not wanting to know what is true.”
  • Henry Ward Beecher: “Faith is spiritualized imagination.”
  • George Seaton: “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”
  • Even Ben Franklin had issues with faith! He said, “To Follow by faith alone is to follow blindly;” and “The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason.”
  • Mason Cooley deserves the last word here: “Ultimately, blind faith is the only kind.”

These quotes show us that the atheist believes faith is belief without evidence, or despite all the evidence. That’s not true! D. Elton Trueblood has the real definition of faith: “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.” J.P. Holding develops the idea of faith as trust in this must-read article.

Once you realize that faith isn’t a blind step in the dark, taken for no rhyme or reason, then you can understand that the answer to this question is a matter of faith. Faith is trust placed in one who deserves that trust.

As Christians, we have faith in God, and we have faith in the Bible since the Bible is an accurate revelation of God’s character and mission. Indeed, they are one-in-the-same revelation. The Scriptures affirm that God cannot (will not?) lie (Num 23:19; Tts 1:2; Heb 6:18; 1 Jn 1:5).

Having faith in God means having faith that the inspiration of the Scriptures is accurate, and what is in the Scriptures is an accurate representation of the character of God. The Scriptures are clear that God doesn’t lie.

What this means is that there’s no need to consider how to know if God has lied or not. He’s not going to. It’s a moot point.

Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, part 4

Former Christian turned atheist DaGoodS (DGS) has compiled a list of eleven questions that he doesn’t think Christians can answer. I’ve decided to take him on, since I’m a sucker for questions that Christians supposedly can’t answer. Hopefully, DGS and I can learn something from each other.

Question #4 is interesting:

Why is it whenever I try your suggestion to “find God” (i.e., go to nature, read the Bible, pray), God never shows up? Worse, why am I arrogant to expect him to, when I followed your instructions where you told me to expect him to?

I have no idea what DGS means by “shows up.” If he expects God to make a personal appearance, that’s not going to happen. Paul is literally the only unbeliever I know of to convert based on an apparition appearing to him; everyone else that God personally appeared to already believed.

So, as most of these questions seem to, it really comes down to a question about wordview. I’ve discussed previously how quantum mechanics, under the many worlds hypothesis, predicts that “supernatural” forces can affect events on this plane of existence (though “natural” and “supernatural” are arbitrary distinctions based on the observer’s point of view and have no meaning as such). Read the rest of this entry

Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, part 3

Former Christian turned atheist DaGoodS (DGS) has compiled a list of eleven questions that he doesn’t think Christians can answer. I’ve decided to take him on, since I’m a sucker for questions that Christians supposedly can’t answer. Hopefully, DGS and I can learn something from each other.

Question #3 embodies two typical atheist objections to Christianity, which I’ve answered in my reply to God is Imaginary here and here. DGS asks:

If you believe your God has phenomenal cosmic power, and is able to sustain the universe, why do you have savings accounts, pension plans, insurance, college funds, stock portfolios and locks? Just in case?

DGS links to his previous article on that topic, which I will now specifically address. The post talks about how a church had armed guards in place, and one managed to halt a tragedy in progress (see this news item).

DGS says that when churches put things like this place, they are not acting as if God exists. Kind of like the sarcastic picture on the right. More to the point:

Stores and business put locks on doors. We would say that is wise of them to do so. But is a Christian demonstrating a lack of faith by doing the same thing the world does?

I don’t think that the Christian is. I think that the Christian is displaying good stewardship. More on that in a minute; first, let’s take a look at the so-called biblical support that DGS feels refutes some possible counterarguments.

Christians might say we aren’t called to be stupid. To that, DGS says:

Every church I have ever attended had locks on the door. Every church I attended in the past two decades also has an alarm system.

If God was in control—why would there need to be locks? Oh, we can claim God doesn’t want us to be stupid, and we should use common sense and wisdom, yet this flies in the face of 1 Cor. 1:20-21 which says the wisdom of the world is foolishness.

First Corinthians 1:20-21 is part of a larger argument (1:18-2:16) and isn’t a call to reject all wisdom of the world. It is an argument for accepting Jesus as Messiah despite the fact that he died the most shameful and disgraceful death that a person could die. In the ANE, a crucifixion all but guaranteed a type of public humiliation that we have no equivalent for in the modern world: everything the crucifixion victim did and everyone he was related to suffered disgrace, humiliation, and was ostracized from society. Paul was arguing that God often uses foolishness to shame the wise and worldly. Therefore, I don’t find that this verse particularly supports DGS’s argument that churches shouldn’t need door locks if the faithful who worshiped there truly trusted God.

Just what is God’s wisdom on protecting earthly things, then? Jesus very often told parables where a rich landowner trusts possessions to a steward (usually a servant of some sort). The rich landowner represents God, and the servants (stewards) represented humans. Using this imagery, Jesus is teaching us to be good stewards. Ultimately, everything belongs to God, and he will ask for it back some day. Better to return in better condition than we found it, for God won’t accept it in the same condition (and that probably means he will be outraged if it is worse condition!).

The Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30) is a good illustration. Here, a landowner goes on a journey and entrusts talents to three different servants (v. 15). The first two invest the money wisely and return the original talents with dividends to the landowner (vv. 20-23). The third, however, buried his and thus was only able to return the original talent (vv. 24-25). This enraged the landowner. He told the servant he should have at least put the talent in the bank, that way at least it would have accumulated interest (v. 27).

The point is that God expects us to be good stewards of what he has given us–and it all comes from him, the spiritual (Eph 1:3-4) and the material (Jms 1:17) blessings. In order to fulfill that calling, we must take measures to protect what God has given us; not burying it like the slothful servant in the Parable of the Talents, but locking the door and alarming the building.

Accidents do happen, and therefore the church should take an insurance policy out for fire, theft, or other contingencies. Could the God of the universe stop a fire from hitting a church? Of course he could! But trials come (Jms 1:2-4), and it is through those trials that our faith is made stronger (Jms 1:12). We are just fools if we don’t think it could happen to us.

This isn’t showing a lack of faith in God’s ability to protect us, but is showing our obedience to him in safeguarding what he gave rightfully to us to use. We are the servants who are investing our talents and paying God back the original plus dividends.

Next:

Ever attend a church which has a building project? Perhaps needs a new roof? The same thing—a chart is put up in the lobby in the form of a thermometer, with each “goal” of contribution being a mark, and as the money comes in from the members, it is slowly filled in with red. Does the church say, “We need a new roof—don’t worry—God will provide”? Nope. The church says, “We need a new roof. Let us pray, and pass the plate.”

While the thermometer picture is overused, that’s not really the point here. The tithe is frequently brought up as a lack of faith in God. In reality, the tithe is a test. It is often said that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). This is true, and we (as Christians) aren’t giving 10% compulsively, under duress or penalty of hell. Rather, we are giving as an act of worship some of which God has given us so that the wealth can be spread. And we don’t have to give 10%; we may give what our hearts (and budgets) allow, proportionate to the wealth God has given us. We could give less, or (better) we could give more.

I’m not Pat Robertson or Paula White. I am not suggesting that giving more than 10% will give you yet more wealth in return. That isn’t promised anywhere in the Bible. Instead, I want to unequivocally say that I believe that the tithe isn’t limited to 10%, nor is it a 10% minimum. Giving what we can afford is the mark of responsible stewardship. This isn’t to reap a material reward, but to reap a spiritual one.

Churches do more than just build buildings: they fund missionaries and assist needy families in the area. All of that is made possible by the tithing of the faithful.

Yes, churches also pay bills and staff members’ salaries out of that tithe, but those are necessary and worthy expenses. The bills enable the building to have heat, running water, and other amenities that a person would expect from a quasi-public building. Which could work to bring in people, and in some cases (as is egregiously demonstrated in a TV spot for a church local to me) keep people coming. (My wife and I were both struck by this TV ad, which asks members of that church why they come to services. Only one of the half-dozen or so interviewees mentioned Jesus. One touted the fact that the church has a rock-climbing wall!)

As for staff salaries, the staff members are domestic missionaries, charged by God with spreading the gospel. Even Paul agrees that paying a church minister is a worthy use of the tithe (1 Cor 9:1-14; yet he himself does not by choice vv. 15-18).

While DGS sees health insurance and requests for tithe money as faltering on the part of the faithful, I believe that both are examples of the faithful’s obedience to God. We give tithes not out of compulsion or fear of hellfire and damnation, but out of love for God–to see the work of the gospel, spread by faithful ministers, continue to touch lives in our local community and abroad. Insurance of all sorts protect what we have, showing that we are good stewards in preparing for the inevitable destruction of earthly goods.

Much more could be said about stewardship. It is a lifestyle, not a formula for managing money. Time, talents (like singing, not the money in the above parable)–everything that is a gift from God should be used for his glory, proportionate with what the Christian can give. This is true obedience, not cowering in fear and lack of faith.

A Question for John W. Loftus

Positively shocking. Loftus cough out a dumb argument? Unheard of.

Referring to this article, where scientists have discovered a gene that predisposes people to promiscuity, Loftus says:

While it isn’t a forgone conclusion that people with this gene will cheat on their mates, the presence of that gene makes such a temptation harder to overcome. Imagine that, some people (half of us) have a harder time overcoming such a temptation and yet God supposedly judges us all equally. That doesn’t seem fair now does it? I wonder if the incarnate Jesus gave himself that gene since he was “tempted in every way, just as we are.” (Hebrews 4:15) 😉 (source)

This argument (if you can call it that) is absurd.

This actually helps my position on homosexuality. I’ve argued that it is probably inborn, but by virtue of being inborn doesn’t automatically make it desirable. Nor should anything become socially acceptable based entirely on the fact that it is inborn.

Infidelity is a negative trait. So are addictive patterns of behavior, like alcoholoism. As is rage. So are many genetic illnesses like Alzheimer’s, certain cancers, emphysema, and heart disease. All of these things are hardwired into genetics, and no one is trying to argue for society to unconditionally accept people subject to those things on the basis of a genetic predisposition.

Things that are inborn, however, are undeniably part of the self. And what does Jesus call us to do when we become his followers? Deny ourselves (Lk 9:23).

And, turning to Paul’s writings, we see that sin itself is inborn: it is nature as well as action. Otherwise, the whole concept of the Christian becoming a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) is meaningless drivel.

Loftus cranks out lots of posts, and most of them are mindless soundbite arguments. This is the dude who complained at Victor Reppert’s blog (in the comments here) that soundbites were all that comments allowed. Yet, when faced with the unlimited canvas of a blog post, he again argues by soundbite.

Perhaps that’s all he has?

It would seem since one of the arguments that he keeps harping on is that we can’t trust our brains to make sense of the world, since we approach everything with bias and defend that which we prefer to be true.

Which leaves us with a big question for Mr. Loftus:

Why should anyone believe that you offer the truth? You also approach with bias and defend that which you prefer to be true–being that you’re a human and accuse all humans of doing this. You admit it: “I have never claimed that atheists are more rational than believers” (source).