Friday, June 26, 2009

Atheist Objections Part III

Part I

Part II

3. "It is safe to say that almost every person living in New Orleans at the moment Hurrican Katrina struck shared your belief in an omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate God. But what was God doing while Katrina laid waste to their city? Surely He heard the parayers of those elderly men and women who fled the rising waters for the safety of their attics, only to be slowly drowned."

Sam Harris, "Letter to a Christian Nation"

Now obvious you can go the Douglas Wilson route and say atheists do not have a basis for objective morality. This is true, but the Christian does have objective morality and the Christian makes objective claims. Two of them being, God is all powerful and all loving. Given these two attributes why do we see so much senseless suffering? The atheist need not believe that evil exists in order to point out the unlikelyhood that there is not an all powerful and all loving God in the world we are living in. Isn't it hard to see a moral justification in permitting childhood cancer? Again, which worldview fits the best explanation of what we see around us?

Let's assume that he is correct: the majority of people stuck in New Orleans during Katrina believed in God. Furthermore, let's also agree that they accepted his omniscience, omnipresence, and compassion. What does this have to do with the price of apples in China, as the saying goes?

Matthew 5:45: That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Once again, the questioner glosses over the reality that we live in a fallen, cursed world; he ignores orthodox Christian acceptance of the concept. It's another in an endless list of examples of people questioning or criticizing Christianity, without making effort toward understanding what Christians believe, or why they believe as they do.

In addition, scripture indicates that God does not obligate Himself to answering the prayers of the wicked:

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. -- Proverbs 28:9

See Proverbs 15:29 and John 9:31 for supporting examples.

Please show me scriptural evidence that God promises us earth - bound lives of ease, devoid of peril -- whether we are His own, or inveterate sinners.

This may sound cruel, but the truth often hurts, and it bears repeating: Many of the people who died succumbed to the hurricane for no good reason. They chose to live in an area prone to hurricanes and flooding. They chose not to evacuate, when warned of the coming disaster ahead of time. They crawled into attics, which is like painting oneself into a corner. I'm interested in hearing why this person believes that God should be held responsible for saving people from their own stupidity and poor judgment.

And yes, God is all - powerful and loving, though I don't know where he gets the idea that God is "all - loving." God hates sin. But He also is a God of wrath and judgment, and justice, and holiness. And more. If you're going to analyze His actions, then look at all his attributes -- not just the ones that make you feel warm and cozy inside.

As for questioning "needless" suffering, I'll ask a counter - question: "Needless," according to whom? The person who doubts God's existence? And what does the sad reality of suffering -- needless, or otherwise -- have to do with God's existence or non - existence? They're two separate issues. It does not follow that just because you lack full understanding of something, then it therefore must not exist. Imagine if I said: "I don't understand how hydrogen bombs work; therefore, there are no hydrogen bombs." How is this substantially different from saying: "I don't understand how God works; therefore, there is no God." ? Both are variations on the same fallacious argumentation.

In grasping the Christian (biblical) worldview, comprehending that we live in a sin - marred creation is essential.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Atheist Objections Part II

Part I

2. "Over 99 percent of the species that ever walked, flew, or slithered upon this earth are now extinct....When we look at the natural world, we see extraordinary complexity, but we do not see optimal design....The truth is that, while there are now around three hundred and fifty thousand known species of beetles, God appears to have an even greater fondness for viruses. Biologists estimate that there are at least ten strains of viruses for every species of animal on earth." Sam Harris

Which viewpoint makes more sense in accounting for this: Unguided evolution or the God of Christianity?

The "99 percent" figure is interesting, because it indicates how proponents of evolutionary theory enjoy pulling figures out of their rumps, touting speculation as fact. Since we do not have complete access to the fossil record, and since we don't even know the number of extant species, the answer to the question, "Where did they come up with this number?" is simple: They made it up.

Regarding the "optimal design" argument: What are the criteria for optimal design? We don't know, because he does not share such information with us. Even if we accept his observation as reasonable, we must acknowledge that it ignores biblical teaching -- that God completed His creative work and saw that it was good; that Man rebelled and fell from grace; that God placed a subsequent curse upon the creation as a result of Man's sin. If you're going to challenge Christians with supposed "hard" questions, shouldn't you at least familiarize yourself with the basic content of Christian teaching, first? Otherwise, how do you know that these questions remain unaddressed and unrefuted?

As for beetles and viruses, so what? If we accept his numbers, saying that 350,000 beetle species exist -- as if this is an argument against God or creation -- proves nothing. The taxonomic term "species" is an artificial tool created by humans.

Many viruses are harmless to humans, even today. Before Adam and Eve's sin, they may have served a wholesome, useful purpose to humanity and the plant and animal kingdoms. After the Fall, loss of genetic information may have led to the development of degenerate, harmful strains. Yes, this is speculation, but so is the conclusion that the sheer number of existing viruses points to God's nonexistence, or evolutionary theory's truth. The point is that talk of beetle battalions and viral invasions evades clear scriptural teaching that we live in a world mired in sin, in which the whole creation suffers.

Since we have no experience with information arising from non - information, or life springing from non - life, l accept the God of Christianity over unguided evolution with zero difficulty.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bible "Soliciting"

Bucknell University believes that handing out free Bibles on campus is "soliciting." provides four major definitions for the word "solicit:"

1. to seek for (something) by entreaty, earnest or respectful request, formal application, etc.: He solicited aid from the minister.

2. to entreat or petition (someone or some agency): to solicit the committee for funds.

3. to seek to influence or incite to action, esp. unlawful or wrong action.

4. to offer to have sex with in exchange for money.

Notice that 2. and 4. entail or allow for money changing hands. Neither applies to the linked story, because giving someone a gift is not the same as asking him for money. This would be like saying, "Sorry, no soliciting," when my wife hands me my birthday present.

Also keep in mind that two of the four definitions have negative connotations (sex for money, and inciting illegal behavior).

Typically, we see "No Soliciting" signs at restaurants or stores, or other businesses. In these contexts, the signs mean: "No expanding the customer base for your product on our property; that's our job."

That leaves us with number 1. "Respectfully requesting" that one read a copy of the Holy Bible -- and giving it to him free of charge -- requires an administration - issued permit? We don't even know if the student organization went that far. Perhaps its members simply placed Bibles in the hands of passersby, and said, "Go with Okenya."

I shudder to think what bureaucratic pitfalls lie in wait for those audacious enough to actually read that radical volume.

I contend that we'd know nothing of this story if the tome had been The Audacity of Hope, by Our Savior from the Serengeti.


Because there would be no story.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Fair Mind Is a Twisted Mind

Obama's recent visit to Notre Dame University -- during which he gave a speech and received official honors from the school -- created a controversy that has not yet come to an end. And rightly so. After all, Christians of all stripes should be angered that a Catholic school heaped accolades on a man who defends a woman's nonexistent right to kill her unborn child with the singlemindedness of a true zealot. But it's not the controversy that interests me as much as these words spoken by Obama in his speech at Notre Dame:

As I considered the controversy surrounding my visit here, I was reminded of an encounter I had during my Senate campaign, one that I describe in a book I wrote called The Audacity of Hope. A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an email from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election. He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life, but that’s not what was preventing him from voting for me.

What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my website - an entry that said I would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose." The doctor said that he had assumed I was a reasonable person, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He wrote, "I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words."

Fair-minded words.

After I read the doctor’s letter, I wrote back to him and thanked him. I didn’t change my position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website. And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that - when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do - that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.

That’s when we begin to say, "Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.

So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women."

Understand - I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it - indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory - the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.

This is faux-empathetic, emotive gobbledegook. It's the precise brand of "I feel yore pain" nonsense liberally dished out by Bill Clinton during his two terms in office (no pun intended). It's feigning interest in opponents' views, while moving ahead with a decidedly unsympathetic, closed-minded agenda. It's an attempt at knocking one's ideological enemies off their game, nothing more. Suggesting that we all handle each other with care, while working with dilligence toward removing existing abortion restrictions, and blocking those in the congressional birth canal, is the height of audacity and dishonesty.

Don't take my word for it. His record in the Senate and the Oval Office speaks for itself:

1. 1997: In the Illinois Senate, he voted against legislation preventing partial birth abortion (infanticide).

2. 2000: In the Illinois Senate, he voted against legislation banning taxpayer funding of abortions.

3. 2001: He opposed legislation protecting survivors of botched abortion attempts. He was the sole Illinois Senator to do so.

4. 2008: He claimed indecision on whether or not life begins at conception -- a position properly reserved for ignoramuses, deceivers, or cowards.

5. He consistently earns 100% ratings from "pro-choice" groups. Example: NARAL gave him 100% ratings in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

6. He promotes and wishes to advance embryonic stem - cell research.

7. He believes the Constitution of the United States is a "living" document. -- The Audacity of Hope, pp. 89 - 92, Oct. 1, 2006
8. He has stated support for Roe v. Wade.

9. He voted NO on prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortions (2008).

10. He voted NO on notifying parents of minors receiving out-of-state abortions (2006).

11. Rated 0% out of a possible 100% by the National Right to Life Committee (0 - 15% = "pro-choice;" 16 - 84% = mixed record; 85 - 100% = pro-life).

12. Since becoming president, Obama lifted a restriction put in place by George W. Bush that stopped taxpayer funding of abortions overseas. He enacted this measure three days after entering office.

The list goes on.

Short of seeking employment at an abortuary, how does one man's record illustrate a more extreme anti-child, anti-life stance? Setting aside his conciliatory rhetoric, do you see anything in this history fitting the descriptors "open - minded," or "fair - minded," or "open - hearted?"

I don't. What I do see is the record of a far left-wing ideologue -- one who doesn't give a hoot in Hell what anyone thinks of this issue, unless they are in agreement with him.

Mr. Obama can spout his pablum about "common ground" till the cows come home; it's unmitigated hogwash, and he knows it. He even admitted as much in the above discourse. There is no common ground between those who pursue the deaths of innocents, and those who fight for their preservation. Is there mutuality between good and evil? Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? -- 2 Corinthians 6: 14 - 15

Notice how Obama acknowledges that abortion is a "heart - wrenching" decision, with "moral and spiritual dimensions." Of course, he neglects describing why and how this is so. Transparently, he is not of the conviction that abortion is a moral wrong, or spiritually rotten fruit, so what is the message he's conveying, here? The bottom line is that his words do not fit his actions; they contradict them.

Furthermore, if abortion isn't morally wrong, why should we concern ourselves with ensuring its rarity? This is the $64,000 question pro - deathers avoid like the Wicked Witch of the West shuns water.

As an aside, if you're interested in "making adoption more available," you might consider ceasing the murder of unborn children. Just a thought.

I'd appreciate hearing Obama elaborate on what relation killing infants in utero has to "equality of women." The last time I checked, men don't get pregnant or give birth, so we can't compare female abortion possibilities to those of males. It's notable that politicians like Obama feel no obligation toward explaining themselves beyond the superficial platitudes they spout like Old Faithful.

As for "clear ethics and sound science," is he kidding? I hope so, because I'm laughing at this notion coming from someone who believes that killing unborn infants for any reason whatsoever should remain restriction - free. And if Obama's unsure when life begins, he has no business mentioning science in the same discussion as the abortion issue, as he has taken a position against science. The verdict is in; there is no wiggle room for honest (or dishonest) debate on the matter: life begins at conception. If the president doesn't know this scientific fact, given his position and access to knowledge, we can assume that he champions the adage: ignorance is bliss. Policy advocation based upon willful ignorance is a form of deception.

Finally, Obama's prevarication about his "fair - mindedness" adds insult to the pro-abortion injuries he has inflicted upon the American people. For his dissimulation is neither clever, nor subtle, given that his record on the issue stands available for all the world to see. One can conclude only that he views the citizenry as gullible sheep on the fold, manipulable and foolish as the wolf coaxes them into the heart of his lair.