Friday, March 22, 2019

Racial inclusivism

i) The liberal establishment scapegoats white men for being white. Scapegoating innocent white guys for being white has the ironic effect of pushing some of them into the arms of white nationalism. And they are then attacked for being racists. It's both a vicious cycle and self-fulfilling prophecy.

ii) At present, a lot of white men have a legitimate grievance, because they are at or near the bottom of the intersectional spoils system. A system that discriminates against white men. That harms innocent white males. That should be opposed. 

iii) I'd like to segue from that to a related issue. Historically, the white evangelical church (in America) was, for the most part, on the wrong side of the civil rights movement. Nowadays it's done a 180. And that's generally for the best, although some segments of the evangelical church are overcorrecting for the past. 

iv) Which brings me to the main point. I suspect white supremacists think human beings naturally prefer to be with "their own kind". When modern-day evangelicals go out of their way to be racially inclusive, I suspect white supremacists think that's a case of theology suppressing what we really feel. And that's a reason for them to reject Christianity. They don't believe white evangelicals feel that way deep down, but misguided piety forces them to adopt that attitude because they think that's how they are supposed to feel about other races. White nationalists think that's well-meaning B.S. 

I don't know enough about the Alt Right or modern white nationalism to say that for a fact. It's just a hunch. But assuming that's the case, I'd like to address it head-on. Is evangelical racial inclusivism inauthentic? Are we sublimating our true impulses? Do we naturally prefer the company of our own race?

v) Many people live in racially homogenous enclaves. It's natural to feel more at ease with the people you grew up with, the people you spend most of your time with. And if that's an ethnic or racial enclave, then you're apt to feel more at ease with members of your own race or ethnicity. 

On a related note, we're more at ease with people who speak our language. If speaking a second language is effortful, then that has a somewhat distancing or alienating effect. Since it's easier to speak our own language, easier to communicate with people who speak the same language. 

In that regard, we can multiple examples in which people prefer to be with "their own kind". However, that's deceptive. In that context, do they prefer their company because they share the same racial/ethnic identity, or is that a contingent and incidental effect of living in a racial enclave? If your social circle is the same ethnicity or race, then the side effect is to prefer members of your own race since you've been saturated in that social environment. That's your conscious, as well as subconscious, frame of reference. 

Furthermore, language cuts across racial lines inasmuch as members of the same race frequently speak different languages while members different races frequently speak the same language. 

vi) If, however, you grew up in a racially heterogenous community, then social bonds might cut across racial lines. For instance, people tend to be more at ease with members of the same social class. But that's not a racial category. Members of different ethnic groups can and often do belong to the same social class–be it upper class, middle class, or working class. They have more in common at that level of comparison. Conversely, there can be antipathies between different social classes. 

vii) To take another example, if you have a multiethnic sports team, that's a setting in which men naturally become friends. The same dynamic occurs in military units. In those settings, racial differences are secondary.

viii) Consider guys who like the same movie genre (e.g. science fiction). Or play the same video games. Or the same sports (e.g. football, ice hockey, martial arts). That gives them a common domain of discourse. That transcends race. 

ix) In addition, we have natural rapport with some individuals. That's a basis of friendship. We click with certain people. That has far more to do with temperament or common interests than race. Conversely, there are folks who rub us the wrong way. And these are often members of our own race or people-group. For instance, it's not like being white automatically makes you simpatico with other whites. 

x) Even at the fundamental level of the family, there are people who prefer their friends to their relatives. Likewise, teenage boys and young bachelors naturally hang out with each other. Maturation includes an independent streak. You seek out and form attachments to people other than your relatives. 

xi) The ironic upshot is that white nationalism is artificial. I don't think we're naturally closer to members of our own race. And even if that were true as a default generality, many factors can neutralize that default generality. Christian racial inclusivism isn't a foreign veneer. Race doesn't run that deep. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

On the go with nowhere to go

In-between writing, I go for walks. I walk later when sunset is later. I'm struck by the number of cars on the road well after rush hour. It's striking how many people are on still the road when they don't need to be. They aren't driving home from work. Although some drivers pick up a few items at the supermarket after work, I see lots of cars on the road later than that. 

And that's just the work week. As a night owl, I also have some awareness of drivers coming home or leaving home at midnight, 1AM, 2AM on Friday and Saturday nights. 

It's striking in part because lots of people say they hate fighting traffic, yet they spend so much time on the road when they don't have to. It seems as though many people just can't stand to be still. Even in an age with so much home entertainment (music, movies, TV shows, video games), they are fidgety. They have to get in the car and go somewhere, at all hours of the day and night. They have to be on the move. They need the distraction. They have more hours in a day than they know what to do with.

These appear to be people who have nothing better to live for. Driving is filler. Hopping into the car and going somewhere, anywhere, is a way to kill time.  They can't stand to be alone with their own thoughts. They require constant physical activity. Not to mention the opiate of smartphones.  

Ironically, if they were diagnosed with cancer, most of them would undergo any treatment, however painful, however poor the odds of survival, to eke out another five or ten years of life. Yet look at what they do with the time they already have. Just driving and going places to pass the time. If they had another ten or twenty years, they'd squander the extra time on the road to idle away the extra hours. 

I understand that some folks have to be on the road at odd hours of the day and night. But in my anecdotal observation, it seems to be more prevalent than that. Insatiable restlessness. 

Abolish the Capitol Police!

Before Bernie Sanders sponsors a bill to ban/confiscate private ownership of "assault rifles" (whatever that means), he should sponsor a bill to abolish the Capitol police. Surely he doesn't think Congressional Democrats should enjoy a gov't funded security detail while ordinary Americans are disarmed. An alternative is for Bernie to sponsor a bill to provide armed guards for all Americans, to parallel the protections enjoyed by Congressional Democrats. 

NZ gun ban

I, of course, assume that the Prime Minister of NZ doesn't have her own security detail. Surely she doesn't have armed guards to protect her at the same time she disarms Kiwi citizens. Banish the thought! 

Making the world safe for snipers, one gun confiscation at a time

Because 49 people were gunned down in a gun-free zone, the blindingly obvious solution is to extend gun-free zones by disarming New Zealanders so that snipers will have more targets of opportunity. Only progressive politicians could come up with such a brilliant response. 

BTW, aren't these the same brain-donors who protest police shootings? But only police should have guns, right? 

The women at the tomb

I discussed this recently in combination with some other things, but I'd like to discuss it separately so that it doesn't get lost in the shuffle. A common objection to the Resurrection accounts is alleged discrepancies in the women at the tomb. Oftentimes, objections to the accuracy of Scripture depend on hidden assumptions. In this case there's the unspoken assumption that a single group of women went to the tomb. But is that a reasonable assumption?

i) I don't think the Gospel writers would be in a position to know if one group or more than one group of women went to the tomb. They didn't accompany the women. They got information from some of the women after the fact, but if Salome shares her experience with Matthew or Mark while Mary Magdalene shares her experience with John, the Gospel writers wouldn't know from that whether one or more than one group of women went to the tomb. They'd simply know that a group of women went to the tomb, but they wouldn't know which was which in case more than one group went there.

ii) And this is more than just hypothetical. Surely the women who went to the tomb lived in different neighborhoods. So that complicates the logistics. They had to walk from different locations, more or less distant to a common rendezvous. It's not as if they all agreed to reconnoiter at Salome's house at 6AM sharp. They didn't have Rolex watches. 

So if we try to visualize the process, you'd have women leaving their house at somewhat different times, walking for longer or shorter distances to arrive at a common rendezvous, then traveling together to the tomb. 

Would women normally travel alone at twilight, or would we expect at least two women from each home to make the trek together for safety? So there might be additional unnamed women. 

It also seems like they were in a hurry to get to the tomb as early as light conditions permitted. So did they wait for everyone to arrive? Did they even know who all would show up? That might be difficult to synchronize. When they went to the tomb would depend on the sky brightening and how deserted the streets were. 

Did some go ahead? It's easy to imagine groups of two or more women going to the tomb. There's no presumption that it had to be coordinated. Or have a single rendezvous. If two or more women nearby, it would be natural for them to reconnoiter at one of their homes, then travel to the cemetery from that rendezvous. That would be more convenient than having one rendezvous for everyone. The rendezvous would vary according to the neighborhood where they resided. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Saving the life of the mother

Image may contain: 1 person, sleeping and baby

People are talking about the medical necessity of abortion to save the mother's life. I was one of those mothers.
I was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that was cutting off my airway at 20 weeks of pregnancy. I will never forget when the first doctor, an oncologist, mentioned abortion. We had gone thru years of infertility to get pregnant. I knew I would rather die and give birth. Then I met with another doctor who listed all of the problems the baby would have if I did not terminate. I stood my ground and refused. He said, "That is ok. The baby will probably spontaneously abort anyway."
I searched and found good doctors that supported me, and I gave birth to a healthy baby at 34 weeks.
I will be celebrating 10 years cancer free in May. I have a healthy, beautiful, bright, precious 10 year old daughter who is a living reminder that doctors do not know everything.

Law enforcement priorities

Ufology: the religion of technocrats

Quiz Show: Bible Contradictions!

Normally I wouldn't bother commenting on something this sophomoric: 

But considering the fact that it's approaching 2.5 million views, with over 32,000 comments and 95,000 upvotes, I'll make an exception. 

Do you find my videos offensive?

Actually, atheists should be embarrassed by the intellectual quality of his videos. If anyone ought to be offended, that would be atheists, not Christians. It makes atheism looks bad. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tribalism in traditional Catholic theology

In the past, when a theologian practiced theology as a member of a religious order, that is, as a member of a congregation formed according to a certain spirit distinguished from that of other orders, this theology bore the distinct and tangible imprint of the theology of that order. The major orders such as the Benedictines, the Dominicans, the Franciscans, and the Jesuits each had their own style of theology, a fact that was acknowledged then. Each order cultivated its own specific theology and each distinguished its theology from that of other religious orders. They were proud of their respective theological traditions and they even had their own officially recognized doctors of the Church as well as key figures in the various theological “schools.” In all of this, there is nothing objectionable provided, of course, that these differences do not degenerate into stubborn conflicts along party lines—something that occurred quite often in the past. Nowadays I think this is no longer the case. As far as legislation of my order is concerned, I ought to teach, for example, the so-called scientia media and consequently should oppose and reject the Thomistic theology of grace as expounded in the Baroque era. Karl Rahner, S.J. "Experiences of a Catholic Theologian," Theological Studies 61 (2000), 10. 

Abolish the Senate!

Seeing as the Senate is even less representative than the Electoral College, since each state gets equal representation regardless of population, shouldn't Warren's first priority be to abolish the Senate? And shouldn't she lead by example by resigning from that highly undemocratic body?

Steinmann on Genesis

Prolific OT scholar and Confessional Lutheran Andrew Steinmann has a commentary on Genesis due out later this year. Although not as detailed as some, it does clock in at 420 pages:

Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
by Andrew E. Steinmann
FREE Shipping by Amazon
Pre-order. Available August 20, 2019

Time travel filicide

1. Wouldn't the same logic justify eugenic abortion?

2. Since Rauser is fond of thought-experiments, here's a test-case: suppose a couple has three kids. The first kid has a congenital untreatable disease which will result in the child's painfully slow death in a matter of weeks or months. His younger siblings are healthy. 

Suppose a time-machine is invented. The couple can travel back into the past and erase the first child from the original timeline. But that action will automatically erase their two younger children from the original timeline. All three children never existed in the new. Would it be wrong to do that to their healthy kids? Would that be tantamount to filicide? 

Did Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stand at the foot of the cross?

Decorated sepulchers

This is interesting on several levels:

i) Nowadays, most Catholic apologists parachute in from Evangelicalism. So they see Catholicism from the outside before they see it from the inside. And even after conversion, their experience is quite limited compared to cradle Catholics educated at Catholic institutions. So this presents an insider perspective you rarely get from Catholic apologists.

ii) It's a devastating exposé of the sodomite subculture in the Catholic priesthood and hierarchy, both from sociological studies as well as the author's anecdotal experience.

iii) It illustrates the duplicity of Michael Liccione. He used to be a regular contributor to Called to Communion. Although he wasn't formally affiliated, since the official members are converts from Calvinism, whereas he's a cradle Catholic, he used to write very long comments interacting with other commenters. Along with Bryan Cross, he provided most of the intellectual heft. Yet here he presents a side of Catholicism I never saw him detail when he was shilling for Catholicism. But to present only half the evidence, the more sales-worthy have, is devious. Like selling a house without informing prospective buyers that the house is infested with termites. 

iv) Finally, he says: 

Specifically, I was the victim who was blamed even as he was being recruited. Fear that such a sick game would continue is why, a few years after my reversion, I stopped exploring a priestly vocation and decided soon thereafter to marry. Apparently solid and reputable priests had given me good reason to believe that I would undergo a similar experience in seminary or novitiate. That was why it took me decades to realize that I had had no such vocation regardless. I wanted to blamegay priests rather than get real about myself...

It doesn't seem to occur to him that this is a dilemma confronting many straight, idealistic novitiates. They take vows that commit them to forego a normal family life, yet that's premature. After the youthful idealism rubs off and unforgiving experience kicks in, they belatedly realize that they never were cut out for that life. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Devil's Redemption

Given longstanding Christian opposition to universalism, how has it gained so many adherents in recent times?

The change was a long time coming. As I show in my book, from the time of Origen onward there were individual Christian thinkers who held to some version of Origenist universalism. In Orthodox Christianity, however, universalism was never affirmed as an official or public teaching of the church. One might call it instead a tolerated private opinion. I found that Orthodox attitudes toward Origen through the centuries were double-sided and ambivalent (as my own attitude is), acknowledging Origen’s undoubted contributions to Christian theology and spirituality but finding fault with his speculative excesses. Western esotericists, who were outside of traditional churches or hovering about its fringes, maintained a robust universalism from around 1700 up to the mid-1900s.

Yet until that point, few official church teachers in Protestant Germany, Britain, or North America publicly affirmed universal salvation—even though privately some may have been universalists. Something changed in the 1950s, and I believe it was Barth’s affirmation of universal election that allowed universalism to come out of the shadows. From the 1950s through the 1970s, universalism was most closely associated with modernist Protestantism. Prior to Vatican II, one finds some private musings on the possibility of salvation for all among certain Catholic intellectuals, even though no official Catholic spokespersons affirm universalism.

The next step in the process occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, as Catholics discussed “the unchurched” and evangelicals debated “the unevangelized.” A book from the Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, Dare We Hope?, initiated a turn toward “hopeful universalism” among Catholics, leading into more overt affirmations of universalism later on. Similarly, the tentative suggestions by the British evangelical John Stott regarding conditionalism or annihilationism triggered intra-evangelical debates over the final scope of salvation.

Even though we tend to shy away from the term heresy these days, it is correct to describe universalism as heretical?

Universalism isn’t just a theological mistake. It’s also a symptom of deeper problems. In a culture characterized by moralistic therapeutic deism, universalism fits the age we inhabit. As I argue in the book, universalism is the opiate of the theologians. It’s the way we would want the world to be. Some imagine that a more loving and less judgmental church would be better positioned to win new adherents. Yet perfect love appeared in history—and he was crucified.

Universalism seems, then, to be fundamentally out of sync with the New Testament narrative of God’s loving initiative in Christ provoking some to faith and others to offense and even hatred. Because of its incongruence with the gospel narrative, universalism is, to my mind, not the first step off the path of orthodoxy, but perhaps—in Kevin DeYoung’s words—“the last rung for evangelicals falling off the ladder.”

What keeps them in?

Nearly all Catholic apologists are men (with all due apologies to Amy Welborn ), including the evangelical converts to Rome. They stress devotion to the Eucharist as the main thing that keeps them in. But I suspect that for devout female Catholics, the main thing is Marian piety. I assume they strongly identify with the cult of Mary. That's why keeps them in. Just my hunch. 

Do Catholic apologists speak for Catholics?

In Christian apologetics, the debate over Catholicism is conducted by and between theology junkies. Most Catholic apologists are converts to Catholicism. They converted because they found the traditional arguments for Catholicism convincing. So the debate typical revolves around arguments and counterarguments, prima facie evidence and counterevidence. Both sides approach it from an intellectualist perspective.

There's nothing wrong with that. Ideally, that's the proper way to assess religious truth-claims. And that approach is largely unavoidable.

However, it can also be misleading since most Catholic probably don't operate at that level. It's too elitist to be representative of how many Catholics think. A debate between members of the Catholic and evangelical intelligentsia. But most Catholics are Catholic for sociological reasons, so spokesmen like Scott Hahn, Trent Horn, Bryan Cross, Ed Feser, Michael Liccione, Thomas Joseph White et al. are quite unrepresentative of cradle Catholics. To some degree, they may be the public face of Catholicism, but they don't speak for Catholics in general. 

That's why the abuse scandal is so damaging. Catholic apologists have their escape clauses. They can say they're not Donatists or Novatianists. And you can render any belief-system unfalsifiable if you introduce enough escape clauses. So Catholic apologists can argue that any amount of corruption is consistent with the claims of Rome.

But for Catholics who don't think in such abstract terms, it's down-to-earth issues like the abuse scandal that can be the deal-breaker. To illustrate the difference:

Simon K 
Trent Horn is the kind of Roman Catholic who is a Roman Catholic because he is convinced it is the most correct church, and the only one specially approved by God.

There is another kind of Roman Catholic, a kind I am more familiar with, the kind of Roman Catholic that I am. I'm not convinced the Roman Catholic Church is the most correct church, nor that God has given it some special approval which the others lack. Catholics like me are Catholics fundamentally for cultural and pragmatic reasons – it is the faith of our parents, our grandparents, the faith we were raised in. I went to Catholic schools as a child, and now my children are going to Catholic schools too. Following in the religious footsteps of my ancestors makes me feel connected to them.

I don't know for sure, but I strongly suspect my kind of Catholic is a lot more numerous than Trent's.

That's not to say I don't think the Roman Catholic church is more right about some things than Protestants, I really do – e.g. the Biblical canon, purgatory and prayer for the dead, intercession of the Saints, the rejection of sola scriptura – but, I think the Catholic church just happens to be right about those things, as opposed to thinking the Catholic church is right about these things because it possesses some special divine guarantee of correctness.

In that respect, support for Roman Catholicism among the laity may be quite soft. 

Infant Baptism in the First-Century Presupposition Pool

Iron-man dualism

Jesus, Skepticism, & the Problem of History

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Release date October 2019

Mr. Nobody

The film is a useful illustration of the theodical principle that every alternate timeline (or possible world) may have tradeoffs. There's no one best possible world:

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Is Christian ethics unnatural?

1. Christian ethics has the damaging reputation for being unnatural. For making demands that run contrary to human nature. I expect many men never give the Christian faith serious consideration because they think it's so unnatural. But it's my contention that Christian ethics is natural, rational, and liberating. 

2. That's not entirely a stereotype. Some Christian ethical traditions are quite unnatural. The pacifist tradition is quite unnatural. Thankfully, that never caught on. 

School discipline

Here's a good example of what's wrong with many inner city schools:

However, I'd like to discuss something else. To my knowledge, life in the Hood fosters a macho culture. You have to be tough to survive, or you have to act tough to survive. Now, the education establishment already despises natural masculinity. The objective is to psychologically emasculate boys. In addition, the culture of the education establishment means that many male teachers are progressive pansies. If the education establishment is already ill-equipped to deal with natural masculinity, it has no idea how to cope with machismo. You're going to have limp-wristed male teachers whom the boys can't take seriously as real men. And if they don't respect the men, they sure won't respect the women. Moreover, many teachers fear the more aggressive male students, and students can see that. 

It's my impression that in tough schools, the only teacher male students look up to is the coach. My father was a WWII vet. During his career, teaching junior high, I assume many of his male colleagues were WWII vets, Korean war vets, or Viet Nam vets. Ay the risk of overgeneralization, I expect men with that kind of background tend to carry themselves differently than nancy boys with teaching certificates. 

Tinted lenses

That's an overreaction. Although there's a sense in which biblical exegesis ought to be disinterested, the fact is that readers can bring vested interests to the sacred text which blind them to the message of Scripture when it cuts against the grain of their vested interests. For instance, under slavery and Jim Crow, black Americans were able to recognize some biblical themes about justice, oppression, and liberation which the ruling class turned a blind eye to. In general, Southern Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians had a filter that screened out those biblical themes, in their application to the contemporary situation. I expect Victorian Christians suffered from the same blinders in relation to British imperialism in India. 

And within the Bible itself, the Apocalypse reflects the outlook of persecuted Christians in relation to oppressive elites. The Book of Daniel is an analogous example. For that matter, the social status of the Jewish establishment had a prejudicial effect on how most elite Jews in Jerusalem viewed Jesus. Having a personal stake in the message if the message poses a threat to your dominance can distort the interpretive process.

So there's a grain of truth to what Mika says. The problem isn't with the general principle. Rather, the problem is due in part to self-anointed victim groups who've deluded themselves into believing that they are oppressed. Moreover, casting whites as the villains in their self-flattering psychodrama. Not only is this harmful to innocent white Americans, but harmful to some minority groups by conditioning them to believe they can't succeed. Ironically, Mika is oblivious to his own tinted lenses. He's the mirror image of what he decries. 

Toward a Reformed demonology

The ideology of snipers

Has anyone kept a running tally on how many mass shootings are committed by atheists (as well as Muslims)? Imagine how these massacres would be covered by social media or the news media if professing Christians were the snipers. How many snipers have an anti-Christian ideology? Also, I'm using "mass shooting" as a synecdoche for massacres generally, by whatever means. 

Dumb atheist alert

This was retweeted by Jeff Lowder at the Secular Outpost, so he evidently thinks there's something admirable about the gesture of his fellow atheist, Dean Murphy. Maybe this is intended to polish the public image of atheists.

i) Is there any statistical reason to think western mosques in general are danger zones? Are attacks on western mosques prevalent? 

ii) In what sense was he guarding the mosque? Was he packing heat? If he was unarmed, how would an unarmed guard be any match for a well-armed sniper? So isn't this a vacuous feel-good gesture? It doesn't actually protect any Muslims in the mosque. It's just a theatrical stunt. 

iii) Since Muslims are supposed to pray 5 times a day, does Murphy and his fellow infidels plan to guard western mosques 5 times a day, 7 days a week, for the foreseeable future?

iv) Mosques are sometimes used as cover for jihadists to plan terrorist attacks. It's not just about worship. 

v) If devout Muslim immigrants come to power in the west, they will persecute atheists like Murphy. He's a patsy for his sworn enemies.  

Confused comparisons

Normally I wouldn't comment on anything this stupid. Atheists say so many dumb things that there's not enough time to comment on even a fraction of their thoughtless output. However, this was retweeted by Jeff Lowder at The Secular Outpost, so he evidently thinks there's something insightful about the comparison. And that reveals something about the level at which the average atheist thinks.

i) I guess the implication of the juxtaposed images is that lay Southern Baptists are hypocritical because they protest homosexual marriage but they don't protest child molestation by priests. Really? How much thought did atheist Dean Murphy put into that comparison?

ii) To begin with, SBC clergy are overwhelmingly straight, so there's no parallel with the RCC.

iii) Likewise, it's not as if SBC laymen have any direct influence over the selection process or behavior of the Catholic priesthood.

iv) The Supreme Court is directly germane to homosexual marriage because 5 justices invented an imaginary Constitutional right for homosexuals to marry each other.

How is that comparable to child molestation by Catholic priests? What is the role of the Supreme Court in that situation?

vi) On the other side is a pic of French demonstrators protesting against homosexual marriage, with a scene of the same street empty.

On the one hand, church attendance in France is about 5%. On the other hand, France has a 10% Muslim population. So what's the imagined connection between Christianity and protesting homosexual marriage in France?

What are we supposed to think about the Roman Catholic Church?

I haven’t commented much about Roman Catholicism lately, although that has always been the primary thing that I have written about. There is a saying attributed to Napoleon that I find useful at times like these: “never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”.

The official Roman Catholic Church has been making a number of them … the “official” “Church” being heavily constituted by that hierarchy which, according to Vatican II, is integral to “the Church that Christ Founded”:

Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body [emphasis added].

In other words, “the ”visible hierarchy” is to the Roman Catholic Church what Christ’s flesh was to the person of Christ”: a strong analogy to the flesh, the “assumed nature”, of “the divine Word”. In the same way, this “visible hierarchy” is (IS!) “vivified” by the Spirit of Christ.

There is no way any Protestant apologist could do more damage to Rome, than Rome is inflicting on itself these days.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The pedophile project

Global warming in the cosmic simulation

Isn't this the same guy who thinks the universe is a cosmic simulation? How do we combat global warming in a cosmic video game? If humans are just artificially intelligent virtual characters, we can't rewrite the program from the inside. Is that up to the aliens who designed the video game we inhabit? 

Moral Responsibility and the Wrongness of Abortion

Bernstein, C & Manata, P. "Moral Responsibility and the Wrongness of Abortion" in The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, Volume 44, Issue 2, 16 March 2019, pp 243–262.

The Age of Terrorism Meets the Era of the Troll

Debating the sacraments

On the question of the sacraments, Baptists are at a tactical disadvantage. There will always be people who are drawn to sacramental realism because they like the idea that infant baptism creates the presumption that their child is now heavenbound. Or that weekly communion is a quick fix. Spiritual shortcuts have a psychological appeal for many people. We see that in Baptists circles, too, where the "sacrament" of the altar call is functionally equivalent to Catholic sacraments. The primary exception is Reformed Baptists, who are more consistent. This is one reason why debates over credo/paedobaptism make so little headway. It's not just an exegetical question but a psychological question. In that respect, the Baptist position is an uphill climb. Sacramental realism has perennial appeal for many people.

Notice that what I've said is irrelevant to truth and evidence. I'm just making a sociological observation. Theological debates often stall because the underlying motivations are psychological. And there's not much that can be done about that. 

It's like ecumenists who have a deep yearning for "unity". They seem to be temperamentally wired to long for "unity", or a sense of continuity with the past. That's why some of them convert to Catholicism–drawn by the mystique of Christian unity and continuity (even though Catholic reality is something else entirely). 

I'm not saying this is a reason to forego debates over the sacraments. But we should have low expectations about achieving progress in that direction. It's more a case of peeling away occasional individuals. 

Paradigm shift

The doctrine of creation runs deeply through Scripture and Christian theology. It may not be the gospel itself, but creation is entangled with the gospel through Paul’s teaching on Adam. How we understand creation is also intertwined with how we understand the rest of Scripture, from which we Protestants gain most of our theology. Changing my view on creation requires a reconfiguration of a large part of my understanding of theology, which is not something I take lightly.

You might argue that the science of evolution is entangled with the very foundation of biology and geology and that science cannot be science without evolution. Obviously, I don’t agree with that at all. I see a great deal of flexibility in science, which you do not. Over the centuries, many theories that seemed so obviously true were abandoned for better models, and I have no doubt that trend will continue. Humanity has barely begun to explore God’s creation. We can hardly imagine what discoveries are coming right around the corner.

I also won’t change my mind because I have lingering doubts about this or that issue. I don’t want to adopt a position merely as a way to escape intellectual anxiety. That’s not faith at all. That’s acting in doubt. Every position has unanswered questions. No one gets to understand it all here and now.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Censorship provokes vigilantism

If you don't give citizens a peaceful outlet for political grievances, the alternative is vigilantism:

David Wood and Robert Spencer on Christchurch Mosque Massacre

Parenting tips from Richard Dawkins

"The universe doesn't owe us condolence or consolation; it doesn't owe us a nice warm feeling inside" 

"I was driving through the English countryside with my daughter Juliet, then aged six, and she pointed out some flowers by the wayside. I asked her what she thought wildflowers were for. She gave a rather thoughtful answer. 'Two things,' she said. 'To make the world pretty, and to help the bees make honey for us'. I was touched by this and sorry I had to tell her that it wasn't true…What are flowers and bees, wasps and figs, elephants and bristlecone pines–what are all living things really for?…The answer is DNA," Richard Dawkins, Climbing Mount Improbable (W.W. Norton 1997), 256,268.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival, Dawkins, a prominent atheist, said that it was ‘pernicious’ to teach children about facts that were ‘statistically improbable’ such as a frog turning into a prince.

Speaking about his early childhood he said: “Is it a good thing to go along with the fantasies of childhood, magical as they are? Or should we be fostering a spirit of scepticism?’

“I think it's rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism – we get enough of that anyway,’ the 73-year-old said. “Even fairy tales, the ones we all love, with wizards or princesses turning into frogs or whatever it was. There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable.”

Responding to domestic terrorism

Predictably, progressives are exploiting the NZ mosque massacre as a pretext to score political points about "Islamophobia", "racism", "hate," and gun control. For instance: 

I see the mass murder of 49 innocent people at their place of worship is not being called a terrorist attack by a host of mainstream outlets. They’re also asking how this sort of crime can be stopped. About time they took some responsibility for peddling hate and misinformation.

Islamophobia is not just tolerated, it is actually encouraged by many. It has, disgracefully, become an acceptable form of racism and hate. Solidarity to my Muslim brothers and sisters today. And all my strength to those who have lost those that they love #Christchurch

A few quick observations:

i) I don't mind calling the attack an act of domestic terrorism. I don't shy away from the word "terrorism" in this situation. 

ii) From a Christian perspective, we should practice friendship evangelism with Muslims. 

iii) Liam Young is one of many dupes who turns a blind eye to the obvious. Is he equally incensed by Muslim atrocities? For instance: 

iv) The primary threat to Muslims comes from fellow Muslims. 

v) Notice that when Muslims are attacked by some angry, alienated loner, that's immediately connected to rightwing ideology, but the mainstream media never connects Muslim atrocities to the theology of Islam. 

Mosque massacre

Microcosmic judgments

Christ states that John is to write ἃ εἶδες καὶ ἃ εἰσὶν καὶ ἃ μέλλει |γενέσθαι| μετὰ ταῦτα “that which you see [Aorist as a perfective aspect, not past tense], that which is and what is destined to take place” in v. 19.  “That which is” is typically understood as referring to the present judgment of Christ concerning the churches in the letters and then “that which is destined to take place after these things” refers to the future. This is not completely false, but may need some nuancing. What is likely being said is that the microcosmic events occurring now and the macrocosmic events occurring in the future are what John is seeing and writing about throughout the book. They are combined and one is being placed in the context of the other rather than seen as two separate events that don’t have much to do with one another. The judgment Christ renders of the churches now is part of the judgment to come. The salvation He gives to the churches now is part of the salvation that is to come. Hence, John is told to write in the typical framework of the apocalyptic genre. What is now is placed in the context of what is to come as though what is to come is, to a smaller degree, taking place now through the microcosmic event occurring in the present. This is made clearer by understanding that John has split the scene in Daniel, where the Ancient of Days opens the books to render judgment. The Son comes to render judgment upon the churches and receive His kingdom in the present, but will ultimately not receive it from the Ancient of Days until the final judgment (i.e, John's "already-not yet" framework is on display in Revelation as it is in his Gospel).

This interpretation has potential relevance for the debate between preterists and futurists. Two kinds of judgment are both in play: microcosmic judgments stand for macrocosmic judgments, and in Revelation, these are blended. Those who say Revelation reflects a failed prediction about the timing of the Parousia fail to appreciate the distinction. Past judgments are microcosmic reflections of the macrocosmic judgment to come. In Revelation, the judgments blur, both because one kind mirrors the other, and because this is a visionary medium about what the prophet sees. Like a dream in which the imagery is fluid. 

The police can't protect you

Reports of the NZ mosque massacre are still preliminary, but there seems to be one perennial lesson: the police can't protect you. Snipers target gun-free zones. A bit of background:

Boys will be boys

Sequel to this post:

So my wife invited another stay-at-home mom and her 4 year old boy over today while I was at work.
The women are drinking coffee, the boys are dressed up to play fight (the neighbour as a ninja, my kid as a knight in armour), and apparently my kid says to the other kid -- in earshot of both moms -- "Come! I will feed your flesh to the birds".
I wish I could have seen the look on that poor woman's face.
P.S. The bedtime story being read right now as I type this is Absalom charming Israel and declaring himself king -- I bet the kids will love the ending.

Freddoso on open theism

On the risk-taking account of providence, God lacks exact and infallible knowledge of the contingent future. Yet given His thorough familiarity with present causal tendencies and His clear grasp of His own providential designs, He is almost sure about how the future will tum out. In fact, He is even pretty sure about whether or not we human beings (including, presumably, Jesus Christ) will do freely what He intends us to do; but He is strong enough to make us do it anyway, if it suits Him. As Hasker puts it, "God is perfectly capable of making someone an 'offer he can't refuse'" (p. 196). So even if the world begins to go really badly, God, though disappointed, is fully capable of controlling the damage. What's more, His prophecies about future free actions-including sinful ones, such as Peter's denial of Christ-are almost sure to be fulfilled; and, once again, even if the improbable happens and God turns out to have been mistaken in so prophesying, He is powerful enough to put things back on track. Likewise, even allowing that some of His ends (e.g., the triumph of grace over sin) depend crucially on specific free actions being performed by specific human beings (e.g., Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Mary the Mother of God, Peter, Paul, etc.), He can be almost sure, given His unusually high degree of knowledge and power, that those ends will be realized. And if all this strikes you as excessively anthropomorphic and as coming dangerously close to turning God the Father into the Godfather, then according to Hasker you have not been sufficiently dehellenized. 

Not content simply to promote his own watered-down account of providence, Hasker heaps scorn upon the traditional account, according to which "our most ennobling achievements are just the expected printouts from the divine programming" (p. 199). In his zeal, he even resorts to the "Hitler" defense. (One can imagine a medieval Hasker conjuring up the "Genghis Khan" defense.) After running roughshod over hundreds of pages of the best scholastic theology by declaring ex cathedra that those who adhere to the traditional account cannot distinguish what God intends from what He merely permits, Hasker concludes that they "cannot avoid saying ... that God specifically chose Hitler to become leader of the Third Reich and instigator of the Holocaust" (pp. 199-200). Really now. More to the point, ask yourself whether Hasker's risk-taking account fares any better with regard to Hitler. Once Hitler accedes to power and gets the Holocaust rolling on its grisly way, even the risk-taking God, who is after all pretty knowledgeable, should have a crystal-clear idea of the further specific evils that are almost certain to occur. So if He does not intervene early on to stop Hitler, this can only be because of some worthy (though very hidden) purposes He has in mind. In that case, would it not be just as true on the risk-taking account as on the traditional account that "God has deliberately and with full knowledge chosen that these good purposes shall be fulfilled through a plan that entails the actual occurrence (not just the possibility) of specific evils" (p. 200)? Let's face it. Hitler is a problem for everyone. Finally, after implicitly saddling the traditionalist with Eleonore Stump's incredibly strong suggestion that the sufferings of each human person are outweighed by a greater good which those very sufferings produce for that same person, Hasker endorses Michael Peterson's more congenial 'risk-taking' theodicy, according to which a world created by God might be literally teeming with genuinely gratuitous evils. I would have thought-with, say, Aquinas-that the most plausible theodicies lie somewhere between Stump's and Peterson's. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The ethics of having kids in a warming world

Prima Donna

A friend drew my attention to the DL today. White spent a few minutes near the start attempting to refute my "hit piece": 

He's reacting to this post:

On the DL, he suggested that I didn't have anything else to post on that day, so I went for the low low road. Unfortunately, his counting leaves something to be desired since there were no fewer than 7 posts that day. 

This is a problem with White. He makes snide off-the-cuff comments that come back to bite him. 

Let's comment on something he said earlier on Facebook, which he copy/pasted onto my post:

I really have no idea why Steve has to run over to spit at me about every six months or so, but I guess I was due my spittle today. Absurd out-of-context argument. Maybe Steve doesn't understand Twitter? This was the beginning of what is called a thread. There was more---much more. And, of course, I have sort of said a great deal about this topic over the past year, inclusive of hours of material on the Dividing Line, editing the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, and speaking at the G3 PreConference on the topic as well. So, isolating a single tweet, ignoring the rest of the thread it was a part of, and the entire context of what I've said---well, good job, Steve. Really helps polish up the ol' credibility as they say! For those who do not have a regularly scheduled "spit at James White" thing going on, nothing in what I said for a moment is an argument against pursuing righteousness in God's creation. It does, however, argue against a worldview that does not begin with the divine decree---i.e., intersectionality, that random, chaotic thought process that sees us all as victims of impersonal forces that shape us RATHER THAN image bearers who are called to faithfulness no matter what God's providence sends our way. If Steve can't see that, I feel sorry for him. But I think he can. Only problem is, when you keep spitting in the wind, it ends up in your eyes.

1. Notice how emotional White gets over intellectual criticism: "Steve has to run over to spit at me about every six months or so, but I guess I was due my spittle today…For those who do not have a regularly scheduled 'spit at James White' thing going on…Only problem is, when you keep spitting in the wind, it ends up in your eyes."

For the life of me I'll never understand why some grown men act like Prima Donnas. White is reacting like John Loftus, Richard Carrier, and Dave Armstrong. If you're that thin-skinned, you shouldn't be a Christian apologist. Intellectual criticism comes with the territory. And if you're that self-important, you need to take a break and reset your priorities. The more seriously we take ourselves, the less seriously we take the Gospel. 

2. It's hypocritical to use Twitter, then whine about people judging what they say on Twitter. And yes, I read the entire Twitter thread before I wrote the post. And no, the rest of the thread didn't "completely change" what I said in the post. 

3. I'm very selective about viewing podcasts generally. I dislike the medium. And White's DL marathons are really bad. He rambles incessantly, veers off into chronic digressions, like a random association test. He's ad libbing the whole time. It's a very lazy, inefficient form of analysis. He should rediscover the art of writing. How to express himself in compact, organized fashion. 

Moreover, his complaint is an exercise in misdirection because I wasn't evaluating his overall position on social justice and intersectionality. So that's neither here nor there. 

4. Let's go back to what he originally said:

Let me put this simply.

Intersectionality is utterly incompatible with a belief in the sovereign kingship of God and His divine decree.

It is God who makes men to differ, God who makes the lame and the blind and the rich and the poor.

i) To "put it simply" is to summarize his position. That's his position in a nutshell. Needless to say, if you think your position can be succinctly stated in two sentences, then that moots the claim that no one can understand your position unless they listen to hours of your exposition. Conversely, if you think a two-sentence summary is too simple, too liable to misunderstanding, then don't put it simply. What you're not entitled to do is to put it simply, then complain that readers oversimplify your position. Isn't that obvious? 

ii) And notice how the two sentence are juxtaposed, so that the second sentence illustrates the principle enunciated in the first sentence. The problem is that his formulation is classically fatalistic. He makes it sound like you can't do anything, and shouldn't try, to change the status quo since God decreed the status quo. If God decreed who is rich and poor, then who are we to try and help the poor out of poverty?

But if that's not what he intended to convey, if belief in the sovereign kingship of God and His divine decree is compatible with improving the status quo for the lame, the blind, and the poor (to take his examples), then where does that leave his original antithesis? 

Put another way, if that's not what he intended to convey, then he should be able to reword what he said to avoid the fatalistic formulation. Just rewrite it. Present an alternative formulation that avoids the fatalistic dichotomy which his original statement erected.