Unintended humor

On my way home from work, I happened to flip to a Christian radio station, and the talk show host was interviewing a guest who apparently had written a book using the metaphor of Hollywood monsters to describe different personality types. So, for example, a “werewolf” would have one set of problems in his or her social relationships, while a “vampire” would have a different set, and so on. When I tuned in, the guest was describing how some people were a “mad scientist” type, who tended to give people advice out of a sense of pride and superiority rather than out of sincere compassion.

This led the host to say, “You know, there’s another type of person, and I don’t know, is there a monster for this one? It’s the kind of person who wants to give you advice because they know the right answer. You know what I mean?”

“Oh yes,” says the guest, “They want to tell you what to do because they know the right—they THINK they know the right answer.”

“They’re so sure—”

“They’re so sure they have all the right answers, and it never occurs to them that other people might be in different circumstances, or have different needs…”

“Is there a name for that monster?”

“Well, no, no, that would be a good one but I don’t have a monster for it.”

And I’m laughing out loud, because I’d recognize that monster anywhere.

It’s called an evangelist.

The moral duties of William Lane Craig

Over at Evangelical Realism, we’re discussing William Lane Craig’s “Argument from Moral Duty” for the existence of God. As usual for such Sunday posts, it’s about 2,000 words, so probably well past the “tl;dr” limit for a lot of people. If you’d like to jump to a shorter excerpt near the end, though, Dr. Craig offers an interesting response to the Euthyphro Dilemma, and I thought some of you might enjoy the abbreviated list of problems his answer creates. Craig’s answer is that there’s a third way out of the dilemma: that God is good by nature, and therefore His will is good. Take that Socrates.

Defending the defenders

Contrary to the famous myth, there are atheists in foxholes–and in helicopters, and in supply depots and in mess halls, and on and on. Unbelievers are willing to dedicate their lives (and sometimes, to risk them) in order to defend our freedoms. Now you can help defend theirs as well. Go to whitehouse.gov and sign the petition to end the military’s discrimination against non religious service members.

It’s not only the least you can do to thank them, it’s also vital to preserving our own religious liberty.

All dogs go to heaven

True story: I once had a dream that I somehow found myself in heaven, or rather, on a long bridge leading up to heaven. I wasn’t dead, and I don’t know if the people around me were, but we were all walking up this bridge. Ahead of us was a somewhat larger group of people who weren’t walking. They were gathered around one guy, and as I got closer someone told me it was Jesus. Not everybody standing there looked very happy, because Jesus was explaining to them that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were right all along. People were peppering him with questions (and not entirely friendly questions either), but Jesus was holding his own and causing great consternation among the non-JW’s around him.

Finally somebody suggested that he surely could not be a Jehovah’s Witness, because the JW’s so greatly diminished his own importance. But Jesus laughed this off and claimed that he was still a supremely important person, and in fact he was the very Logos of God. At that point, a white-haired gentleman said, “You know, I’ve always wondered about that. Why would a Jew adopt the theology of the Logos? The Logos was a Gnostic deity, not a Jewish one.” Jesus faltered for a moment and said, “Really? I didn’t know that.”

It went downhill from there: this admission of ignorance destroyed his credibility as a divine (or semi-divine) being, and finally he gave up and admitted that, in fact, he wasn’t even the real Jesus. But, he protested, his motives were good: he just really loved God and was hoping to help us all find the way to heaven. The crowd wasn’t too impressed, but he kept insisting that it was true, and what’s more, that Heaven was just up ahead, and we should all just go there, and God Himself would confirm the things that (pseudo-)Jesus was telling us. A surprising number of people joined him on the trek upwards, but as I was about to join them, an old guy plucked at my sleeve and pulled me aside.

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The Moderation List

We’re having a bit of trouble with the side-bar widgets, so none of the links to my pages are showing up. I do want to advertise the URL for a page I just posted, though. It describes my policy on comment moderation. Basically, I don’t ban people for trolling, but I do put them on the Moderation List, which means I have to approve their comments before they will show up, and that won’t happen unless it’s a really good post that is interesting, accurate, and that advances the discussion of whatever topic it is commenting on.

Full details are here: The Moderation List.



That’s gotta hurt

Saw this a few days ago on Twitter and thought it was interesting.

When the Tea Party movement broke out, there was a big hullabaloo. Everybody was talking about it. It was all over Fox News. But strangely, there was no real substantive resistance to it. People said some uncomplimentary things about it, but the only real attention it got from “the powers that be” was when major media sent reporters to publicize (and hype) their gatherings. Even when people started bringing guns to Tea Party rallies, it only raised eyebrows and sparked a few discussions about the Second Amendment.

Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, shows up with tents (and in some cases with brooms and shovels to clean up the “occupation” site)—and the police are all over them, tear gas is being used in Oakland, leading politicians are uniting to denounce them and major media outlets seem either to ignore them or to paint them as some kind of irrational rabble.

Who’s the real threat here? More importantly, who do the powers-that-be see as being a real challenge to the status quo? If I were a Tea Party member, I’d be feeling pretty used right now.


Those poor persecuted Christians

One Ann Gentry, in a letter to the editor, knows just what unbelievers should do about local officials injecting religion into government: the unbelievers should just go away and let Christians run things without interference.

If Jane Doe, who regularly attends Board of Supervisors meetings in Chatham is so deeply offended just because the Christians there pray in Jesus’ name, then why does she go there so often? Could it be because she is there to mainly cause trouble by splitting political hairs over religion?

Right, because anybody who suggests that Christians ought to obey the law is clearly a troublemaker.
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What’s this?

Looks like there’s some kind of Facebook feud going on between the Secular Student Alliance and Campus Crusade for Christ.

Currently the Secular Students are running at about 14K “likes” versus Campus Crusade at a little over 4x that number. That’s actually not too shabby for a secular organization. I’m sure we can do better than that, though. Can’t we?

Better yet, if you’re not an FB fan (and I can certainly understand if you’re not), you can help the SSA directly by going to this link:


I’ll just pass on what the sponsor says: “Details: becoming an annual member of the SSA ($35 for adults, $10 for students) counts as a donation.  We’re trying to ride the more than double popularity we’ve achieved in the last 10 hours and hope to fill this match within the week.”

A suggestion for Dr. Dawkins

If you’ve seen Richard Dawkins’ response to William Lane Craig, you know that he really does not need my help. I can’t resist making one suggestion, though. If Craig goes through with his intended stunt, and puts an empty chair on the stage at Oxford to represent Dr. Dawkins’ non-appearance, Dawkins should respond in kind. But he shouldn’t waste his time on the small fry. Dr. Dawkins should challenge God to a debate. There should be an empty chair on a stage somewhere, and Dawkins should stand up beside it and say, “Well then, I believe that according to William Lane Craig’s rules of engagement, I am now entitled to declare that God is afraid to face me because He knows He’s wrong.”

Not only would God’s failure to show up make great blog material, but the Christians would fall all over themselves explaining why a refusal to show up does not mean you’re running away scared.

The set of all facts

Jayman raises an interesting point regarding Leibniz’ cosmological argument (as summarized by Pruss).

Pruss’ second point is: “there is a contingent fact that includes all other contingent facts.” Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the material universe is not contingent. Nonetheless you seem to admit that there are contingent facts. This entails that there is a contingent fact that includes all other contingent facts (the union of all contingent facts).

I’m not sure what point Jayman thought he was proving by that, but it does suggest an interesting line of philosophical inquiry.

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