Sunday, January 19, 2014

Linkage For A Snowy Day

So here are some links for you. I link 'cause I care.

Al Mohler points out that evolution requires every bit as much faith as believing in creationism, Evolution Is Most Certainly a Matter of Belief—and so Is Christianity. I love the way he lays this out:

The problems with this argument are legion. In the first place, there is no such thing as “settled science.” There is a state of scientific consensus at any given time, and science surely has its reigning orthodoxies. But to understand the enterprise of science is to know that science is never settled. The very nature of science is to test and retest hypotheses and to push toward new discoveries. No Nobel prizes are awarded for settled science. Instead, those prizes are awarded for discoveries and innovations. Many of those prizes, we should note, were awarded in past years for scientific innovations that were later rejected. Nothing in science is truly settled.

If science is to be settled, when would we declare it settled? In 1500? 1875? 1960? 2013? Mr. Krattenmaker’s own newspaper published several major news articles in just the past year trumpeting “new” discoveries that altered basic understandings of how evolution is supposed to have happened, including a major discovery that was claimed to change the way human development was traced, opening new questions about multiple lines of descent.

But the most significant problem with this argument is the outright assertion that science and religion represent two completely separate modes and bodies of knowledge. The Christian understanding of truth denies this explicitly. Truth is truth. There are not different kinds of truth that operate by different intellectual rules.

Most people who arrogantly speak of how their opinion is superior to the unwashed masses that reject the idea that everything sprang from nothing and has always existed are just fundamentalists for a different belief system. In place of prophets they exalt men like Darwin or Richard Dawkins. In place of infallible theologians with seminary credentials behind their name, they have infallible scientists who of course are completely objective and have a litany of fancy degrees to dazzle the eyes of their starstruck admirers. The dirty secret of those who embrace evolution as a superior belief system is that almost all of them don't know the first thing about the science they purport to follow. They simply accept on face value what scientists tell them as gospel truth. Makes on wonder who the blind followers really are. Evolution is nothing more than one of the untold numbers of alternate belief systems that compete for the attention of unbelievers.

Speaking of evolution and Al Mohler, earlier in the month he spotlighted an especially nasty piece of editorializing from one Charles Blow writing for (no shocker here) the New York Times. In his piece, Indoctrinating Religious Warriors, he laments the disturbing lack of faith in evolutionary fundamentalism. Please note Mr. Blow is not anti-indoctrination, he is just anti-indoctrination on issues he disagrees with. Indoctrination in the secular humanist confessions of faith is perfectly acceptable. Anyway, here is the quote I wanted to look at regrading the stubborn belief of so many Americans in a divine Creator:

In fact, this isn’t only sad; it’s embarrassing. 

I don’t personally have a problem with religious faith, even in the extreme, as long as it doesn’t supersede science and it’s not used to impose outdated mores on others.

That is not a surprising statement from someone who sees faith and belief in God as a quaint, if dangerous anachronism, that is fine with him (what a relief!) as long as your faith doesn't impact how you live, how you vote, how you spend your money, how you raise your kids, etc. In other words as long as you quietly assemble for religious events behind closed doors on Sunday and never speak of them outside the confines of a house of worship, Mr. Blow will graciously grant you permission to believe as long as you don't take it too seriously. It might be safest to have clergy submit their proposed sermon to a committee appointed by Mr. Blow to make sure that they don't violate any of the sacred tenants of secularism. What next, paper detecting dogs to make sure people don't try to sneak Bibles into religious gatherings?

I harbor no illusions as to the worldview of the unregenerate who cannot believe in a transcendent God but need a different quasi-religious belief system to cling to. What is more troubling is that I have seen essentially those same sentiments expressed by an awful lot of professing believers. Their reasoning is mostly the same, faith is OK but in places where the worldly belief system of "science" has spoken the Bible must be ignored or explained away. Many, far too many, professing believers are embarrassed by what the Bible has to say on so many issues: creation, gender, marriage, sexuality, wealth, sin. In a vain attempt to get an approving pat on the head from the world they are willing to jettison any foundational beliefs for the sake of making their private, quiet faith culturally acceptable. Nothing is sacred, everything is negotiable. Most of what passes for "faith" in the Western world will not survive even the mildest opposition or persecution.Given how flaccid that "faith" is, that is not a bad thing.

In further evidence that trying to bend to the whims of the cultural winds for the sake of being given a spot in the public discourse is foolish we have the tolerant, progressive governor of New York state, the honorable Andrew Cuomo, seeking to purge his state of dissidents:

You’re seeing that play out in New York. … The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

If they’re moderate Republicans like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate — moderate Republicans have a place in their state. George Pataki was governor of this state as a moderate Republican; but not what you’re hearing from them on the far right.

I didn't realize that being a governor gave one license to dictate to the subjects citizens of a state what they may or may not believe. One can only imagine the media outrage if the Governor of my state said that people who were pro-abortion, pro-gun control and pro-gay marriage were not welcome in the state of Indiana. One cannot overstate how dangerous that mindset is regardless of your position on abortion, "gay marriage" or gun ownership. What next, rounding up anti-revolutionary types into re-education camps? Strapping pro-lifers into chairs with their eyelids held open in a scene reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange? The intolerance of the champions of tolerance never ceases to amaze me.

How about some farm talk? Joel Salatin, always good for a thought-provoking quote, answers the question "What are the most detrimental/beneficial effects to the farming ecosystem?". He eschews the stereotypical answers and says:

Are you ready for my answer?  Here goes:  Detrimental:  a Conquistador mentality, the USDA (started by the country’s worst president, Abraham Lincoln), loss of domestic culinary arts from the culture (food preparation, preservation, packaging, and processing being done outside the home rather than inside),cheap food policy, food safety laws (eliminate innovation), the nearly universal feeling that integrity requires someone else besides me to change, faith that humans are clever enough to outsmart nature, people who believe they have a right to food, clothing and shelter, even if it means taking someone else’s property violently to try to get it (try not paying your taxes and see who comes to take your property–so much for violence), progressives.

There is something there to make almost anyone mad! We certainly need more prophetic voices who reject the pat answers provided by the two party dichotomy we live in, voices who speak what is common sense.

I have recently stumbled onto the blog of Matt Walsh and so far every one has been a home run. It is pretty impressive really, even my favorite bloggers lay the occassional egg but so far Matt has delivered every time.  This essay, Your life is over when you have kids, is a perfect example. Read the whole thing but this is the conclusion and it gives you a taste:

So I get it. My kids aren’t my life. But I’m not my life, either. I was at one time, or I thought I was, but not anymore. And their lives are eternally tied to mine, and mine to their, and every decision that I make will have an impact on them, for better or for worse. This is a responsibility that I must always keep in mind, all of the time, no matter what. 

It’s not my life. It’s hers, it’s his, it’s theirs, it’s ours. Ultimately, it’s His, and He has given it to them. So my life — MY life — is over. 

This is true. This is beautiful. This is why parenting is a high calling. 

And this is exactly why our society hates children. 

No matter what anyone else says, THIS is why we’re experiencing historically low birth rates. It’s got nothing to do with an economic crisis, and everything to do with a selfishness crisis. This is why we dehumanize children, kill them, exterminate them. This is why we have less of them, and why we call birth control a “preventative medication.” It’s why couples who choose (note: I said CHOOSE) not to have kids will often refer to themselves as “child-free” — much like a recovering patient might call himself cancer-free. 

We run around putting “my” in front of things that cannot be ours. It’s MY time, MY life, MY body. And then we conceive a child and we simply can not let go of the “MY.” Barney and Mr. Rogers failed in their mission to teach us about sharing. We kill a million babies a year just because we don’t want to share. 

These are the truths I’m still learning, and still sometimes struggling to accept. It’s a long process. My kids are just starting to learn how to crawl. I guess you could say the same about me.

Amen to that. Unfortunately most of us sort of figure out parenting about the same time we become grandparents.

Here was an interesting essay, When Popes Become Peacemakers by Francis Rocca. People who are unfamiliar with church history or the history of Western civilization in general might not realize that the idea of popes speaking about peace and against war is a relative new stance. He writes:

Few actions are more characteristic of the modern papacy than appeals for peace. Think of Pope Paul VI at the United Nations in 1965 calling for "No more war, war never again"; Pope John Paul II with leaders of other religions praying for peace at Assisi ; or popes giving annual Christmas and Easter addresses that highlight the most urgent crises around the world.

In the context of the church's 2,000-year history, however, such practices are relatively new. Popes have often justified war and even waged it themselves. A series of medieval pontiffs called for the Crusades against Muslims in the Holy Land and elsewhere in the region, including Syria. Pope Julius II (1503-13) rode at the head of his troops, clad in full armor, battling rival Italian rulers for territory and fighting alongside them to drive out the French. The Holy See continued to have its own army until the seizure of the Papal States by the Kingdom of Italy in 1870.

The pope as peacemaker is a role no more than a century old, and is the legacy of the man who held the office during World War I.

I think it is not coincidental that the rejection of war corresponds to the reduced ability of Rome to dictate the behavior of states. Waging war is no fun when you are not in control.

I liked this essay from Josh Lawson, What It Cost To Go Outside The Camp. Those of us who have abandoned institutional Christianity know that doing so carries a heavy cost. The rest of the church doesn't understand and really would like it if we would just shut up, go back to our pulpits and quit making a fuss. But we can't. Once the curtain is pulled back there is no going back.

There ya go. Enjoy!

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