Accurate labelling

With all this intelligent design and duplicitous “teach the controversy” stuff floating around, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a good old-fashioned, unadulterated creationist screed. I recently came across a prime specimen, however, and I thought it might be fun to go back and take a look, for old time’s sake. The author, one A J Castellitto, is a freelance writer who has a BS in Counselling and Human Services, and whose research has been published in such well-respected science journals as The Christian Post, Intellectual Conservative and Reformed Perspective Magazine. His current paper made it through peer review and was accepted for publication by renewamerica.com.

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“Liberty means not allowing freedom”—Nuns

What does liberty mean to you? Normally, we associate liberty with freedom, i.e. the absence of people telling us, “You’re not allowed to do that.” But the Little Sisters of the Poor have a definition of liberty that seems to be the exact opposite. And they’re suing the government for the right to impose this “liberty” on their employees. The NPR web site reports:

The Justice Department has argued that the nuns’ group is already exempt from providing birth control under the ACA, as long as it certifies its standing as a religious nonprofit. But the Little Sisters of the Poor, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argues that documentation simply condones employees getting the coverage elsewhere.

“The sisters, under the new Health and Human Services mandate, are being forced by the government to either sign a form allowing a third party to provide contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs to their employees, or they’re being threatened with fines,” says Becket Fund director Kristina Arriaga.

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Why is Bill Nye fund-raising for creationism?

A lot of people are excited about the upcoming debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye at the Creation Museum in February. Some think Bill will be completely unprepared for standard creationist debate tactics, others think he’ll mop the floor with Ham. To me, that’s not the issue. The important thing to me (and probably to Ham) is that no matter how the debate goes, the fact that it happens at all is going to be a huge revenue stream for AnswersInGenesis.org. I’m sure if he loses, Ham will cry all the way to the bank.

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Story, critical of Fox News, disappears from Christian Post

This is interesting. On Jan. 3rd, the Christian Post published an article by Morgan Lee reporting that a Christian blogger was calling Todd Starnes a liar due to his biased, selective, and misleading reporting about “persecution” against Christians. The original story is still available via Google cache, but no longer appears on the Christian Post site itself. If you search for “Todd Starnes,” a link to the original story comes up, but it leads to a 404 page.

Methinks someone got a little note behind the scenes, perhaps?

Rhetorical questions, weaker arguments

A propos of nothing in particular, I’ve noticed something lately that rather surprises me. Rhetorical questions make arguments weaker. That’s an over-generalization, of course, but time and again I’ve found that any time I find myself about to ask a rhetorical question, I can usually make a much stronger statement by making it a direct affirmation. Not only does it typically produce a result that’s harder to refute, but it also tends to sharpen my own understanding of the argument I’m trying to make. Instead of leaving an open-ended absence of information, I’m forced to dig in to my own argument and understand better why I think it’s true.

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Free will in heaven

One religious answer to the problem of evil is the idea that sin is necessary in order to allow people to exercise their free will. Apparently, if God had created a perfect world, we would all be robots with no free will, and that would be a terrible thing.

But wait a minute. Heaven is supposed to be a perfect world. God, the angels, and all the saints are supposed to live in heaven forever. If free will requires sin in order to be free will, then the sinlessness of heaven means God, the angels, and all the saints are going to spend eternity not having any free will.

That means that for us to have free will right now is a complete waste. The only thing it contributes is to send most of God’s “beloved” children to the eternal torments of Hell. Only the elect few will make it to the realm where their free will no longer exists, and the Bible says that the saved were foreordained before the foundation of the world, so in a sense their “free” will was illusory even while they had it. That’s not much of a justification for sin, is it?

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None of this namby-pamby “Intelligent Design” stuff here

Jack Wellman, at the Christian Crier blog, wants creationism taught in the public schools. And to his credit, he doesn’t try and hide behind a facade of pseudo-scientific “intelligent design” either. He wants creationism, plain and simple.

Should creationism be taught alongside evolution? Is it fair to give students only one theory to believe? Is it legal to do so in the public schools?

The obvious answers to the above are no, yes, and no, in that order. Schools exist to teach kids about reality, of which there is only one, and given limited time and resources it’s entirely fair and reasonable to give kids the scientific understanding that best explains the real world. The science classroom is not a public forum devoted to providing different religions free marketing for competing ideologies.

But Mr. Wellman would contest that observation, and offers us what he calls “Five Crucial Reasons to Teach Creationism in Public Schools.”

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Passing the book

One thing I’ve noticed in connection with the Duck Dynasty brouhaha is a tendency for believers to defend their anti-gay remarks by passing the book. Passing the book is a lot like passing the buck: instead of taking responsibility for the things you do and say, you pass the blame on to someone or something else. In the case of passing the book, that “something else” is the Bible.

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Speaking of moot

In May of 2012, the ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the Illinois ban on same-sex marriage. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois, the Thomas More Society, representing the defendents, filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed as moot. The response from the ACLU and Lambda Legal was predictably reasonable: they also filed a motion to have the suit dismissed as moot, since there was no longer any problem requiring a remedy. But even though the Thomas More Society was happy with this outcome, their response shows a certain failure to recognize what “moot” really means.

“We’re pleased that the ACLU and Lambda Legal agree with us that their lawsuits are now moot and thus should be dismissed,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “Because the concerns of people of faith were ignored by the Illinois General Assembly when it redefined marriage under state law, we now turn our attention to the protection of the religious liberty rights of Illinoisans who object to being forced to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies.”

They’re pleased that the ACLU and Lambda Legal will not pursue remedies to a problem that no longer exists, and that means the Society is now free to pursue remedies to a problem that never has existed, does not exist now, and never will exist. Good job, guys.

Hustling the Gospel

Writing for the Huffington Post, Pastor Rick Henderson explains Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist.

While it is true that there is no definitive atheistic worldview, all atheists share the same fundamental beliefs as core to their personal worldviews. While some want to state that atheism is simply a disbelief in the existence of a god, there really is more to it. Every expression of atheism necessitates at least three additional affirmations…

What follows is another one of those arguments where morality is supposed to come from God, and therefore without God there can be no good or evil, and therefore atheists can’t be “good” because they’ve denied the existence of good and evil. What’s interesting is the way Pastor Rick introduces this particular scam.

For those of you who are eager to pierce me with your wit and crush my pre-modern mind, allow me to issue a challenge. I contend that any response you make will only prove my case. Like encountering a hustler on the streets of Vegas, the deck is stacked, and the odds are not in your favor.

The atheist is talking with the pastor, but he’s being hustled, because the pastor has stacked the deck. I’ve seen believers pull this particular hustle before, but Pastor Rick is the first one to openly admit he’s using dishonest tactics to achieve his goal. But let’s lay all our cards on the table and check out his “three additional affirmations” and then see who deserves to win this particular hand.

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