Yeah, prostitutes

I was listening to Christian talk radio on my way home last night (ok, I admit it, I do that a lot), and the topic was gay marriage, or more generally homosexuality. It was kind of bizarre. They were trying to grapple with the fact that Jesus is losing the culture wars, especially in the arena of gay rights. It’s no longer cool to demonize gays, which means that believers at long last are beginning to realize that their attacks on gays do more damage to the church these days than to homosexuals. And they were groping, adrift, trying to find some way to reconcile their religious dogmas with the fact that homosexuals are not actually evil, immoral, or corrupt.

And they found it. Sorta. They decided that it was ok for Christians to tolerate homosexuals because Jesus used to hang out with prostitutes and tax collectors.

This, in Christian circles, is “progress.”

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Pro-life radio

I happened to tune in to Christian talk radio during the drive home last night, and they were all abuzz about the Royal Baby. Apparently, the British and American press have been referring to it as the Royal Baby since before it was born. And that’s supposed to prove that it’s always been a baby, and not a fetus, or zygote, or fertilized egg.

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Opinions

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?

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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.

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Feminism in outer space

I have a long-ish commute, and I drive an “affordable” car. Apparently, though,  it has a really good radio, because I think I was picking up a talk show from another planet. The guest and hosts were discussing feminism in the context of the guest’s new book about “God’s 10 Gifts for Women,” and the description of feminism was like nothing I’ve seen on this Earth. Did I mention it was a Christian radio station?

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Five years ago today

Over at Evangelical Realism, I’m taking a break from Justin Martyr due to a time crunch at my day job. To fill in the hole, I’ve reposted one of my earlier encounters with presuppositional apologetics, which didn’t turn out at all the way the apologist had hoped. It’s the first two of a series of back-and-forth exchanges I had with that particular group, but after my second post, they dropped presuppositionalism and tried the “Darwinist conspiracy” tactic instead, so my first two posts ended up being a good, quick, self-contained rebuttal.

God’s love

Just have time for a quick one today.

So I saw this bumper sticker that said “God’s love never fails,” as though that were some kind of supernatural, awe-inspiring power. But really there’s nothing to it. The reason God’s love never “fails” is because nothing that happens ever counts as a failure on His part. Sure, He allegedly knew all about the 9/11 attacks before they happened, and could easily have warned somebody in time to prevent them, save thousands of lives, and prevent at least two wars—but His failure to do so isn’t officially failure. Children starve to death every day, but His failure to feed them (when He could easily do so) doesn’t count as failure. The world is full of cripples and disabled people and people dying of horrible diseases, whom He could all easily heal, but His failure to do so has to be blamed on someone or something else, because it’s not His failure, by definition.

So you can count on God’s love: when God loves you, the worst that can happen is, well, literally the worst that can happen. But at least it won’t be His fault when it does. Comforting thought, eh?

The leading cause of atheism

The other day I watched an Orthodox Jew engage in a little ritual that struck me as being strikingly pointless. No doubt it had some point in the ancient past, or was at least thought to have a point. But it was pointless—a trivial, superstitious obsession institutionalized into the whole Orthodox lifestyle. And that got me thinking. Here’s somebody’s silly little superstition, that somehow got attached to the religion, and now the religion can’t get rid of it. For thousands of years, they’ve been stuck with it, even when it ceased to make any sense. And there’s nothing they can do about it, because the core of the religious worldview is the supreme authority of tradition. Whatever was believed and practiced in the past is, by definition, the truth. Any attempt to amend it or remove part of it must be apostasy. Hence, religion is not only lacking a way to correct its errors and deficiencies, the very nature of religion is antithetical to the possibility of improvement. To be improvable, religion must first admit that it does not possess the infallibility upon which its authority and existence depend.

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Science and the supernatural

In a comment over at my other blog, tokyotodd writes:

In order for a worldview to be capable of addressing questions about God or miracles, it must first posit some sort of methodology by which these objects (if they existed) could be detected and empirically verified. This requires knowledge of the objects being investigated, without which it would be impossible, or at least highly presumptuous, to make predictions about how we might expect to encounter or observe them. This would seem to rule out naturalism as a useful worldview, since it simply presupposes the nonexistence of the supernatural and therefore cannot really address questions about it (except to regard them as meaningless).

There are indeed difficulties involved in the investigation of the supernatural, but the scientific worldview isn’t one of them. Science (sometimes called “naturalism” in the same way evolution gets labelled  “Darwinism”) is entirely neutral on the question of natural vs. supernatural, and has routinely investigated phenomena that were popularly regarded as supernatural at the time. The problem with the supernatural is the vague and volatile definition of what “supernatural” is supposed to mean.

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Worldview vs scientific literacy

A new study in Nature finds that, contrary to what you might expect, a person’s level of scientific literacy is not the best predictor for how likely they are to be concerned over the risk of climate change. Instead, the best predictor for a person’s concern over climate change is the hypothesis that

…people who subscribe to a hierarchical, individualistic world-view—one that ties authority to conspicuous social rankings and eschews collective interference with the decisions of individuals possessing such authority—tend to be sceptical of environmental risks. Such people intuitively perceive that widespread acceptance of such risks would license restrictions on commerce and industry, forms of behaviour that hierarchical individualists value. In contrast, people who hold an egalitarian, communitarian world-view—one favouring less regimented forms of social organization and greater collective attention to individual needs—tend to be morally suspicious of commerce and industry, to which they attribute social inequity. They therefore find it congenial to believe those forms of behaviour are dangerous and worthy of restriction

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