Sunday, July 26, 2009

Intelligent Design and Creationism

I keep seeing "brights" comment in the blogosphere that Intelligent Design is just another word for Creationism. After people explain the differences between the two and point them to web - links explicating the distinctions, they continue equating them -- as if no clarification were ever offered -- and even accuse ID'ers and Creationists of lying.

It seems that being an intellectual luminary these days means confusion over simple word definitions and an inability to conduct superficial research about the beliefs of those with whom one disagrees, with intellectual dishonesty thrown in for spice. Impressive.

Given the efforts made toward disabusing them of their false notions, we can't even give them the benefit of the doubt and assume ignorance. The problem is either stupidity or conscious deceit.

Saying that Intelligent Design is the same as Creationism is like saying that being religious is the same as being a Muslim. And it's just as untrue.

Can a person be Muslim without being religious? No, because a Muslim is, by definition, one who follows the religion of Islam. But can a person be religious without being Muslim? Of course, because we know that a plethora of other religions exist -- such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Obamism, etc.

Can a person be a Creationist without being a believer in Intelligent Design? No, because Creationism assumes an intelligent designer as its starting point. But can a person advocate Intelligent Design without being a Creationist? Yes, because acceptance of a designer says nothing about the nature of that designer. Perhaps aliens seeded Earth (panspermia). Creationism, on the other hand, conforms to the Christian worldview. Further, it assumes a literal or face - value view of scripture -- regarding Genesis in particular.

If being religious is the set, then Islam is the subset. If ID is the set, then Creationism is the subset. There's nothing complicated about it.

Those who won't acknowledge these simple differences are corrupters of the English language, and enemies of truth.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jew - hatred, Circa WWII

That in Germany it was the Jew who became the enemy until his place was taken by the "plutocracies" was no less result of the anticapitalist resentment on which the whole movement was based than the selection of the kulak in Russia. In Germany and Austria the Jew had come to be regarded as the representative of capitalism because a traditional dislike of large classes of the population for commercial pursuits had left these more readily accessible to a group that was practically excluded from the more highly esteemed occupations. It is the old story of the alien race's being admitted only to the less respected trades and then being hated still more for practicing them. The fact that German anti - semitism and anti - capitalism spring from the same root is of great importance for the understanding of what has happened there, but this is rarely grasped by foreign observers.

--The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek, pp. 153 - 154.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. -- Adam Smith

Sound like anyone we know?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Atheist Objections Part IV

Part I

Part II

Part III

4. "If God answers prayers why wouldn't He occasionally heal a deserving amputee? And why wouldn't people of faith expect prayer to work in such cases?"

Sam Harris, "Letter to a Christian Nation".

This guy must worship Harris, given the frequency with which he quotes him. He's not leaning toward atheism so much as Harrisism. Call it a cult of personality.

The two - part question above is silly beyond belief. What it boils down to is the notion that God doesn't exist, unless He behaves in the fashion I deem suitable. You'd be hard - pressed producing a better example of hubris. How does the doubter above know that God has not healed amputees? Has he embarked upon an exhaustive study of every documented case of amputation and its epilogue in recorded history? Such an undertaking makes compiling the Encyclopedia Britannica look like an afternoon's work. Furthermore, how does this question pertain to God's existence or non - existence?

I find it interesting that those who lean toward agnosticism / atheism express a willingness to entertain the idea that God exists, with the caveat that the hypothetical be aimed at discrediting Him.

Notice how the questioner exempts himself from providing evidence of his assertion, while requesting evidence from others. The problem with this audacious approach is that his question remains a non - starter, unless and until he demonstrates that God neglects healing amputees.

I have a question for Mr. Harris and the person whom I quoted parrotting his inquiry: If I provide evidence that God healed an amputee, will you abandon atheism and embrace belief? If your answer is "No," then I see no reason why I should consider your question as anything more than a rhetorical snare, with no real desire for the truth involved. In other words, you don't deserve an answer, because the question was never offered in good faith. If "Yes," that's a step in the right direction. My follow - up is: Why did you believe when given evidence of healed amputations, but rejected all other evidence prior to that point? Why did you ignore biblical, personal, historical, and logical testimonies that thoroughly bested your attacks and criticisms?

Scripture provides at least one specific example of Jesus healing an amputated body part. In the Garden of Gethsemane, when the temple guards came for Jesus, Peter attacked a servant of the high priest with his sword and cut off his ear. Jesus healed the man at once, making him whole. This occurs in Luke 22: 50-51.

Other potential examples include Jesus' healing of lepers in Mark 1: 40-42 and Luke 17: 12-14. Luke 7: 22 and other verses mention Jesus healing the lame, without detailing the nature of their handicaps. Some may have had limbs missing.

So you now have evidence that Jesus (God) heals amputees. I know the atheist will laugh this off, saying: "Well, I don't believe the Bible." That's fine, but scripture is a form of documentary evidence. If you reject it, that's your business, but it's dishonest to claim that it fails as evidence. The next logical question would be: "How do you define convincing evidence?" Some think scripture is sufficient. Others remain unconvinced, no matter how much evidence is presented. Some unbelievers have admitted that, if faced with the miraculous, they'd doubt their own senses rather than embrace the supernatural. An example along similar lines is that of the Pharisees, who witnessed Jesus' miracles, and accused him of allying Himself with Satan (Matthew 12: 24).

In one of Jesus' parables (Luke 16: 19-31), a rich man finds himself in the place of torment, and cries out to Abraham for him to send word of God's truth to his brothers. Abraham tells him that they have Moses and the prophets -- meaning scripture. The rich man says that if he'd send a poor beggar he'd known in life, they'd listen to someone returned from the dead. Abraham then informs him that if they'd ignore Moses and the prophets, they also would reject the testimony of one returned from death.

I think one point of this passage is that no amount of evidence is enough for those who don't want to believe.

Even in biblical times, miracles weren't common events; they happened in clusters: at the time of the Flood, Babel, the Exodus, during the period of the Judges, during Jesus' life, in the Disciples' ministry, etc. Perhaps we live in an era in which widespread, in - your - face miracles have simmered into the occasional miraculous event. Perhaps certain types of miracles happen with less frequency than at the time of Christ and the early Church.

Scripture makes clear that God's view of physical suffering is not the same as ours:

Romans 8: 18: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Matthew 18: 8: Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

Sometimes people suffer as a means of bringing glory to God, and drawing others to Him.

John 9: 1-3: And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

I want to close by saying that the inquiry about amputees is a subset of the question: "Why does God allow human suffering?" And it has the same answer: We live in a fallen world marred by sin -- sin that human beings ushered into this world -- sin that brought a curse upon humanity for willful disobedience.

Why focus on amputees? Why not ask about stillborn children, or blindness, or terrible diseases? Each is as pertinent as losing a limb. What about death itself? Why doesn't God allow us eternal physical existence in a state of sin?

Where in scripture does God promise earthly healing of amputees? If He does not promise immunity from death or suffering, why would we assume that He will heal amputees?

A final morsel of food for thought: How is agnosticism or atheism a better alternative to a belief in God, on this issue? What does each offer as promises or comforts? John 3: 16 states: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

That's an infinitely better promise and comfort than atheists offer, which is nothing.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

Happy 4th, everyone!