What happens when God is wrong?

Pastor Rick Warren recently appeared on Piers Morgan’s show and discussed his stand on gay marriage.

Warren claimed that he believes in equality, but admitted he cannot support same-sex marriage because, he said, “I don’t get to change what God says.”

I’ve pulled out just this one quote because I think it exemplifies one of the most fundamental and unresolvable problems with religions like Christianity. They’re based on “revealed” authority, the idea that “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” You never have to learn anything new or adapt to anything that changes, because nothing is allowed to change. Once God speaks, that’s the way things are and must be, always and forever after.

But what happens when God is wrong?

[Read more…]

Two wrongs don’t make a right?

You may have heard the moral principle that two wrongs don’t make a right, but you’ve never read it in the Bible. I was thinking of that in connection with the creation/evolution debate, and specifically in connection with the YEC argument that a merciful, loving God would never use millions of years of death and extinction to create the rich variety of life on earth.

This God, you remember, is a God who wants to “mark” baby boys as His by taking an unsterilized knife to their genitals. This is a God who would snuff out the life of every firstborn child in Egypt, down to the tiniest baby of the lowliest (non-Jewish) slave, just to make a point to Pharoah. This is a God who allegedly produced all the fossils in the ground not over the natural course of eons, but in a sudden fit of wrath that destroyed 99.9999% or more of all life on earth, even in places where there weren’t any of the men He was mad at. This is the “merciful” and “loving” God who is supposedly too nice to use evolution to produce biological diversity.

But this isn’t even the half of it, because in pointing out the above Scriptural stories, we haven’t even mentioned animal sacrifice. And that’s where “two wrongs don’t make a right” comes in.

[Read more…]


I said it again the other day, but then I had second thoughts. “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion,” I said, but is that really true? Have you ever thought about the full range of opinions we’re implicitly endorsing by saying everyone is entitled to believe whatever they believe?

[Read more…]

OMG, Biblical Christianity is dying!

Now this is more like what I was expecting yesterday: overblown Christian hysteria in reaction to Election Day’s free reality check. Writing for forbes.com, Bill Flax weeps and wails over the imminent demise of Biblical Christianity in America.

And it’s all a terrible misunderstanding. Christians never wanted a culture war, you see. They just wanted to be left alone. If only those mean old liberals had just given them the chance to stay quiet and neutral on issues of society and morality.

In the election’s aftermath, the culture war looks like a rout. Few ever relished this fight; most preferred simply to be left alone. We aren’t community organizers. Sadly, neutrality was not realistic. No, being Switzerland was never an option. By not defending America’s heritage of limited government, free markets and biblical morality, we’re being overrun a la Belgium.

Yes, those poor disorganized believers who were barely able to raise billions of dollars and initiate successful drives to add anti-gay amendments to the constitutions of roughly two-thirds of the states in the Union—they aren’t community organizers. They’ve never defended limited government, free markets, or biblical morality. They’re all just weak and helpless victims here.

Come on, work with me on this one.

[Read more…]

Why the Church is wrong

A few years ago, my home state amended its constitution specifically to prevent gay couples from being allowed to marry. They called it “defending” marriage, but of course what they really meant was “denying marriage to anyone who does not fall in love the same way we do.” I stewed about that for quite some time, and then decided that I was going to start a blog about religion (“better to light a candle” and so on).

For a while, the fight against homophobia was both depressing and infuriating, as state after state joined the mad rush to stomp on teh gey. But now it looks like public opinion may be swinging against this sort of bigotry at last. That is to say, the tide is turning in most arenas except one: religious conservatism. And that, to me, does a beautiful job of exposing what’s fundamentally wrong with the Church.

[Read more…]

Vatican vows to fight equality

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Vatican is determined to fight to limit marriage exclusively to heterosexuals, calling the privileged status of heterosexuals “an achievement of civilization.”

“It is clear that in Western countries there is a widespread tendency to modify the classic vision of marriage between a man and woman, or rather to try to give it up, erasing its specific and privileged legal recognition compared to other forms of union,” Father Federico Lombardi, said in a tough editorial on Vatican Radio.

Hmm, special privileges for people like us, with vigorous enforcement of laws excluding people who are not like us. Where have I heard that before?

[Read more…]

What to do in your second term

Congratulations on your re-election, Mr. President. I’m glad you got a second term, because there are still a few items that need to be finished up from your first one. And now that you don’t have to worry about being re-elected, I hope you’ll have the time, the freedom, and the will to fix some of our worst problems:

  • Transparency. We cannot afford to elect a government that can be blackmailed by anonymous power brokers with big bank accounts. We the People need to know who is writing the actual text of our laws, and who is profiting from them.
  • The Constitution. I know you’re busy, but can we have our Constitutional rights back, please? Particularly the First and Fourth Amendments? Bin Ladin is dead, yet as long as our nation remains so terrorized that we won’t take our families on board airplanes without government agents fondling our kids, the terrorists are winning. I’d like to live in a FREE country again.
  • Wall Street. It shouldn’t be legal to cheat people out of house and home. Nuff said?
  • The deficit, aka tomorrow’s taxes. Yes, that needs to come down, but can we start with wasteful “defense” spending? It’s one thing to speak softly and carry a big stick, but that stick gets kind of hard to carry when it reaches sequoia proportions.

[Read more…]

Daily dose of irony

Writing on the Minnesota Public Radio web site, Prof. Savage of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity decries the breakdown of traditional gender roles.

But, as advocates of gay marriage point out, marriage as an institution is not exactly the exemplar of stability it used to be. The sad fact is that the same factors that have contributed to its fragmentation — a misunderstanding of the complementarity of men and women, the divorce between the procreative and unitive dimensions of the sexual act, promiscuity, etc. — are at work in the breakdown of traditional marriage as well.

You see what happens when you forsake the original Biblical commandments for the roles men and women are supposed to play? St. Paul is quite clear that correct, Biblical gender roles are essential, not just for society and social institutions like marriage, but for salvation as well (at least for women).

Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression: but she shall be saved through her child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.

By the way, did I mention that Prof. Savage’s first name is Deborah? Speaking of the “breakdown” of traditional, Biblical gender roles…

[Read more…]

The “creed” of atheism

Just a quickie for today: The Irish Times just published a letter in which the writer expresses a kind of good will towards atheists.

One sincerely hopes that Joe Humphreys is correct in his suggestion that a new, more reasonable form of atheism may be beginning to emerge, from the creed’s Irish adherents (Arts Ideas, October 26th). Those of us from the Catholic intellectual tradition would certainly welcome such a development. Because there are undoubtedly large areas of agreement on many important ethical issues.

Ah yes, the spirit of camaraderie, atheists and Catholics agreeing on important ethical issues…
[Read more…]

A dialog between materialists

One more point I’d like to mention about the abortion debate is that it’s a dialog between materialists. Most pro-lifers are generally religious, and quite a few are conservative evangelical Christians, but when it comes to making pro-life arguments, they’re even more materialistic than the pro-choice side. All this stuff about souls and spirits is fine for sounding holy in church, but for real-life issues even believers turn to materialism.

Think about it. What is it that allegedly makes a fertilized egg qualify as a person? It’s not that the fertilized egg is “made in the image of God,” unless God is also a single cell with no thoughts, no feelings, no will, no knowledge, and no perceptions. But no, according to pro-lifers, it’s the DNA—the presence of a particular physical molecule within the physical structure of the physical cell. And it’s not just the DNA, because virtually all species have DNA of one sort or another. It’s the physical arrangement of physical nucleotides in the physical DNA molecule that form the basis for the pro-life claim that this is a real, live human being. They’ve reduced humanity down to a chemical formula, and called a mere molecule the essence of what being human means.

[Read more…]