This week at ER: Back to Square One

Over at the Evangelical Realism blog, we’re taking an in-depth look at premise 1 of Dr. William Lane Craig’s famous Kalam Cosmological argument, in the first of a series of posts on Chapter four of his book On Guard. The gist of it is that Dr. Craig is playing a bit of a word game: when we say that nothing created the universe, we’re not saying that “nothing” is a “something” that exists in a cause-and-effect relationship with the cosmos. We’re just saying the universe is uncaused, just like Christians are doing when they say “nothing created God.”

Click the link for the full post.

 

Oo, wicked

Here’s a headline that gives a bit of pause.

Atheist Group to Rip Up Bible Passages on Saturday

Mixed feelings, eh? I mean, I’ve got no compunctions about the Bible being a holy book or anything, but on the other hand, book ripping isn’t really all that different from book burning. But read the details.

An Orange County, Calif. atheist group plans to put on a demonstration Saturday afternoon in which they will rip up sections of the Bible that they deem “immoral.”

Though they won’t be tearing pages straight out of a book, members of Backyard Skeptics, OC’s largest atheist organization, plans to rip up photocopies of the Scriptures on the Huntington Beach pier.

Brilliant! They found a way to express their disapproval of significant Scriptural passages, without giving in to the temptations of censorship and oppression. They claim that they’re not out to offend anyone (yeah, right), but that they’re hoping to educate people. Don’t apologize, guys—outrageousness is what gets their attention. If Rush Limbaugh went out of his way to avoid offending people, we’d be referring to him as “Rush who??”

And it looks like this stunt is already producing some very educational results. See below the fold for the Christian response.

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And on the other hand…

…sometimes common sense does prevail. A federal appeals court has ruled that a San Diego County school district does have the right to tell Christian teachers not to use their classrooms for proselytizing. The case at hand concerns a math teacher who wanted to establish religion by hanging “testimonial” banners in his class.

The two banners, each about 7 feet by 2 feet, contained references to God from U.S. documents and patriotic songs. One quoted the Declaration of Independence passage that all men are “endowed by their CREATOR” with unalienable rights.

The banners also trumpeted phrases such as “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE,” but do not seem to have imparted any concepts with any particular relationship to mathematics, the subject of the class. Predictably, the teacher complained about discrimination against Christians, effectively confessing that he was indeed explicitly promoting Christianity in the classroom. At first, this was a winning argument, but when the appeals court looked at what he was specifically complaining about, it reversed the lower court ruling.

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In defense of marriage

Over at the Huffington Post, Alvin McEwen writes:

It’s time for this “we need to protect marriage” con to die. And it will. It could happen in North Carolina or Minnesota. Both states are facing anti-marriage-equality votes next year. Or it could happen before then. But rest assured, it will happen.

Amen. I’m all for defending marriage, provided we recognize that the biggest threat against marriage right now is excessive government intrusion into people’s private and personal business. Let’s defend marriage—gay or straight—from the legalistic machinations of bigoted busybodies who want to take it away. And when it comes to putting that kind of protection into the Constitution, I’m all for that too.

Multi-faith groups want religion out of public schools

Calling all Christians! Better hop on a bus and head for Toronto, or school prayer in Canada might end up like school prayer in the US.

With the Ontario election less than a month away, a number of multi-faith groups are calling on the provincial party leaders to take a public stance on religious teachings in secular schools.

(Psst! The rest of you guys, don’t tell them this part…)

Valley Park Middle School … has been permitting an afternoon Islamic prayer service in its cafeteria for its students for the past year.

An imam directs the voluntary 40-minute service every Friday, which was started after administrators realized that many students missed class because they had to leave the school to attend the service at a mosque.

That’s right, they’re all on their way to promote the spread of Islam. Maybe when they get back, they’ll have just a teensy bit more insight into why secular schools are a good idea?

The cure for free-floating anxiety

Writing for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, one Scott Stephens seems to have found the perfect remedy for free-floating anxiety: pin it all on atheism.

And so, without the guiding concept of a “Common Good” our social life is governed by the anomie of private interests, the inscrutable demands of “well-being” (which for us has come to mean little more than health, safety and pleasure) and the vicissitudes of mere fashion.

There are few things today more fashionable, more suited to our modern conceit, than atheism. In fact, far from being radical or heroically contrarian, the current version of atheism strikes me as the ultimate conformism.

Translation: now that the unbelievers are gaining influence in society, it’s time to try to make majority opinion sound like a bad thing—no matter what Christians may have said (and may still say) when they were the majority.

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RI High School refuses to take down prayer

The ACLU is taking a high school to court over a fairly blatant endorsement of Christianity, in the form of a large prayer banner, prominently displayed.

CRANSTON — The Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union is asking a federal judge to stop the city from displaying a Christian prayer banner painted on a wall of Cranston High School West.

The 8-foot-high mural, which is addressed to “Our Heavenly Father,” has deprived student Jessica Ahlquist of her rights under the First and 14th Amendments, argue attorneys Lynette Labinger and Thomas Bender in a brief filed Friday in preparation for an Oct. 13 court hearing.

The high school’s defense? “Hey, we’ve defied the First Amendment for a long time, and therefore we have a right to continue to do so.”

After giving the issue much thought, school officials “decided not to erase history for the sake of political correctness,” say attorneys Joseph V. Cavanagh Jr., Joseph V. Cavanagh III, Eric C. Rassbach, Lori H. Windham, Anthony A. Cipriano and Christopher M. Rawson in a brief filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

The decision by School Committee members to leave the mural alone is “based not upon some desire to inject religion into the public schools, but on their belief that school history and tradition should be maintained,” they say.

The “injecting religion” bit is just a perk, or something.

Skeptics to protest “museum”

San Diego area atheists and agnostics will be gathering for a protest, I see.

September 12, 2011 (Santee) –San Diego New Atheists and Agnostics (SDNA), a Web-based organization of over 700 members, plans a demonstration against the Creation and Earth History Museum in Santee on September 24. That’s the same date when the Museum plans to participate in a nationwide “Museum Day” organized by the Smithsonian Institute…

Not a bad idea, but if I were running that protest, my theme would be, “Attention Christians: this museum teaches that God FAILED to create a design as good as Darwin’s!”

Bet there’d be some interesting sidewalk conversations at a show like that.

 

Gospel Disproof #3: Christian homophobia

One sure sign of a made-up God is that the people who make Him up invariably ascribe their own prejudices and biases to Him, in order to make them officially binding on everyone else. Christians and their Jewish predecessors demonstrate this by their traditional portrayal of God as a virulent homophobe and bigot who does not wish merely to deny gays the right to get married, but wishes to deny them life itself, if they are ever so presumptuous as to become intimate with each other as heterosexuals do.

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Sept. 11, 2011: a chance to reflect–and blame Obama

Today is a very sober and somber day, the anniversary of a vicious and cowardly attack against thousands of innocent men, women and children, a day when we ought to reflect on the horrors that dwell in the depths of hatred, a day for all men to put aside petty differences and affirm the bonds of charity and compassion.

Or not.

President Obama will be the featured speaker at an “interfaith faith prayer service” at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. (interior photo at left) on the evening of September 11th to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the nation. Curiously, while the event will also include a “Roman Catholic bishop, a Jewish rabbi, Buddhist nun, a Hindu priest, the president of the Islamic Society of North America, and a Muslim musician,” reported Ron Kerby at Beliefnet.com, “…not a single protestant or evangelical has been invited to participate.”

In point of fact, the interfaith prayer service was open to all, including evangelicals, as even a cursory visit to the National Cathedral website will show. And, by the way, if you read the program for the morning prayer service, you’ll find that while representatives of various faiths were indeed on the program, President Obama is not. He is scheduled to speak at the evening concert, on the same program as Patty LaBelle, Alan Jackson, and Denyce Graves, and it’s open to the public—even if they’re evangelical Christians.

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