Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Bible translation philosophies


I'm going to expand on a point made by philosopher Christopher Kaczor in a recent interview. A problem with agnosticism is that either we live as if God exists or we live as if God doesn't exist. So the agnostic is living out the answer to that question just as much as the Christian. 

Even if, intellectually, the agnostic suspends judgment, he can't suspend judgment in practice. He must live as if one answer is true while the other is false. Although he can be agnostic in his head, he can't be agnostic with his feet. 

To be consistent with how he must live, an agnostic should try harder to resolve the indecision. His actions ought to match his beliefs, and vice versa.  

Dr. House

I'm going to expand on something Christopher Kaczor said in a recent interview. He was responding to a distinction between intellectual obstacles to Christianity and emotional obstacles to Christianity. 

In the TV series House, Dr. House in a willfully obnoxious, insufferable person. He's disrespectful to everyone: friends, colleagues, administrators, interns, and patients. In the series, he can get away with it because he's a medical genius. He's the best physician in an elite hospital. Normally, patients would quit after the first rude encounter. But because the patients are desperate, and he's the only physician who can cure them, they put up with him. 

Now, I don't think the series is very realistic. I doubt any physician, however gifted and "indispensable", would keep his job if he insulted everyone. But part of the appeal of the show is that he says what some people wish they could say but don't dare.

The point, though, is how this example illustrates a difference in the way people judge religion. Even if a patient has an unpleasant experience with a doctor, they don't boycott medical care. They may boycott that particular physician, but they simply find a different doctor. That's because they depend on medical care to survive and thrive. It's too important to let their emotions get in the way. And even if they couldn't stand a particular doctor, if he was the only physician who could cure them or cure their child, they'd suck it up and endure him because a cure is more important to them than their feelings about the source of the cure.

But that illustrates how irrational people are to walk away from the Christian faith, or never consider it in the first place, due to emotional obstacles. They have a different standard for religion than medical care. Yet your physical wellbeing is infinitely less importune than your eternal wellbeing. 

Feedback loop

I guess this means White will scratch me off his Christmas card list. On a serious note:

1. White's comment is a diversionary tactic. I didn't take issue with his documentation. White is doing his customary bait-n-switch. 

2. However, since he brings it up, let's say something about the documentation. It's good documentation about a dysfunctional segment of the black community. That's fine as far as it goes.

But there's the danger of sample selection bias by comparing the worst examples of the black community with the white community. If you constantly rehearse a one-sided narrative, lots of folks begin to think the ghetto culture is the black community. Endless repetition creates a feedback loop. It fosters a culture of fear by cementing in popular imagination the default association of young black men with pimps, thugs, dope-dealers, and gang-bangers. No longer are they judged as individuals, but prejudged as statistics. Every young black man is viewed with suspicion. That's a good way to get innocent black men killed or falsely convicted. 

A one-sided narrative is an overgeneralization. It needs to be counterbalanced by documenting the positive side of the black community. 

Yes, segments of the black community are in crisis. The same could be said for segments of the white, Latino, and Asian-American communities. 

But James White won't be dissuaded because he's the hero in his own movie. So he stays on script. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Progress in the culture wars

Victim mentality

1. This is my wrapup on the latest White imbroglio. A black Christian friend asked me what my opinion was of his tweet, which is why I originally commented. I did two posts:

2. Today I watched the DL:

In my deliberately limited experience of the DL, it was typical White: a self-adulation fest. Half-baked. Disorganized. Larded with layers of condescension and sneering. Defending the most defensible aspects of his position while ducking the indefensible aspects of his position. Responding to the weakest objections while ignoring the strongest objections. 

It's painful to watch these performances. Some incidental observations before getting to the main point:

3. He played a video by Taleeb Starkes, who begins by noting the victim mental: everything is someone else's fault.

The irony is lost on White. That's White's M.O. He's the voice of reason. He's the adult in the room. All his critics are immature. In my experience, White never takes takes personal responsibility for what he says or does. He always shifts the blame to someone else. And that's a mark of immaturity. 

4.He indicated that the first heard he heard "soft bigotry of lowered expectations" was a few months ago from Voddie Baucham. That's odd since George W. Bush used to say it.

5. In a truly strange turn of events, he compared light-skinned blacks and dark-skinned blacks. He say Samuel Sey is "fully black"–unlike Jason L. Rily, who is "black, too, but not as black as Samuel". Why on earth is a white Baptist elder commenting on something like that? How is that appropriate? Why does he care? 

He also noted how good Samuel Sey looks in a Coogi sweater. You have to wonder what's going on in White's head. 

6. He said 33% of prison inmates are black. While that does point to a serious problem with black criminality (among younger black men), it's a somewhat misleading comparison because a lot of that is due to incarceration on drug offenses. And it's disputable whether so many men should be behind bars for drug possession. 

7. He spent a lot of time inveighing against social justice, intersectionality, and critical race theory. That's fine since I don't support that. That's not the basis of my criticism.

8. He said there's a direct connection between the abortion rate and marital status. A disparity between unmarried women who become pregnant and married women who become pregnant.

But he didn't make that correlation in his tweet. His correlation was based on race rather than marital status. I was the one who suggested we should use marital status rather than race as the basis of comparison. He doesn't get retroactive credit for belatedly appealing to a different variable. 

9. He tardily admitted that one of the factors spiking the abortion rate in the black community is Planned Parenthood, with its white eugenicist past. But once again, that's an issue which I raised in my response to him, not something he originally volunteered. 

Having said that, he denies that it's the "'central cause" of the high abortion rate among black mothers. But that's the framing fallacy. Why assume the abortion rate is reducible to a "central cause"? 

10. He whined about how Twitter only allows you to express yourself in 280 characters. I suspect some people deliberately use Twitter for plausible deniability. If they say something indefensible on Twitter, their loophole is to complain that Twitter is a poor medium for complex analysis. You can't expect a tweet to have detailed qualifications.

But no one is forcing White to use Twitter to discuss the abortion rate in the black community. He could easily write a longer, more qualified statement on Facebook or the Alpha  & Omega blog. So that's a lame excuse. 

11. Now let's get to the nub of the issue. He acted like his tweet was unassailable because the statistic is demonstrably accurate or approximately accurate. He citied articles to back up his claim. 

i) But that's an evasion of the real issue. Speaking for myself, it's not the statistic itself that's controversial, but the statistic in combination with White's explanation for the statistic. What he posits to be the "central cause". He attributes that to "fatherlessness, sexual license, and rebellious sexual ethics". Moreover, fatherlessness isn't really a separate category or variable but reducible to "sexual license and rebellious sexual ethics" since he goes on to say, in the DL, that "Planned Parenthood doesn't force black man and women to fornicate". So according to him, fatherlessness reflects sexually active irresponsible men. 

ii) The logical implication of his statistic in conjunction with his "central cause" is that black men and women are sexually libertine/rebellious at upwards of 3.5x the rate of white men and women. 

iii) In addition, that plays into the old, damaging, defamatory stereotype of black men as oversexed animals. As a recall, that was a justification of antebellum slavery and postbellum Jim Crow laws. Black men had to be kept under heel. 

Furthermore, I believe that stereotype fueled lynchings. If you think black men have a raging, out-of-control libido, then that makes black men presumptive racists. That was the thinking of the lynch mobs, was it not? And that dangerous prejudice continues right up through Dylann Roof  ("Y’all are raping our white women!"). 

It's striking that James White has such a tin-ear for what his explanation entails. And he's impervious to correction by layers of smug impenetrable superiority. 

Rugby Australia’s “Own Goal”

Needle in a haystack

There's a popular Catholic trope that goes something like this: Protestantism poses a dilemma for Protestants: why do you hope to find and join the right church when there are 30,000 candidates to sift through? 

There are several problems with this trope:

i) "The 30,000 denominations" is an artificial, misleading figure, as even Catholic apologists like Trent Horn admit. However, let's grant the 30,000 figure for argument's sake.

Animals In The Enfield Case

A dog doesn't have a human's capacity to be biased or carry out a hoax. For that and other reasons, the involvement of animals in paranormal cases deserves more attention than the subject typically gets. That's true of the Enfield Poltergeist. I want to address several incidents in that case that involved animals. Some of those incidents are ones I've never seen discussed publicly.

It could be argued that the animals were manipulated by humans. But that would come at the cost of further complicating a fraud hypothesis. In addition to arguing that the Hodgson children were unusually skilled at magic, ventriloquism, acting, etc., you'd have to maintain that they also had such skill at manipulating animals, that some highly unusual coincidences occurred, or that there was some other such factor or combination of factors involved.

When I cite the Enfield tapes below, I'll be using "MG" to designate a tape from Maurice Grosse's collection and "GP" to designate one from Guy Playfair's. So, MG32B is tape 32B in Grosse's collection, and GP85A is tape 85A in Playfair's.

In his book on Enfield, Playfair writes about the behavior of a dog in the neighborhood at the time of Janet Hodgson's December 15, 1977 levitation and teleportation:

Monday, June 24, 2019

"Catholic myths"

I'm going to comment on a new interview with Bishop Barron:

I can imagine Barron is very persuasive if you're already sympathetic to Catholicism and desperate for pat answers to objections. Likewise, he's persuasive if you lack a proper frame of reference to assess his explanations. 

The light of nature

James Anderson continues his chapter by chapter review of J. V. Fesko's Reforming Apologetics in "Reforming Apologetics (The Light of Nature)".

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Lost Destination

Ned and Esther Buchanan were already in their 50s when they decided to begin new life in San Francisco. Leaving New Haven, Connecticut by covered wagon, they joined the caravan in Independence, Missouri. But disaster struck when Esther died of snakebite in Wyoming. That left Ned with a terrible dilemma. He couldn't go back. He had no life in New Haven without his beloved Esther. But he couldn't move forward. To make a new life in San Francisco without her was unthinkable. 

He buried her where she died, then used her grave as the site to build a cabin. Her grave lay in the backyard, with a wooden grave marker. Everyday he spoke to her. 

There was a creek nearby. He planted a vegetable garden, and tried to feed himself by hunting, fishing, and trapping. 

As caravans moved through, he traded in the pioneers. They were a source of news. Some of them were sick. He prayed over a boy dying of scarlet fever and a girl dying of typhoid. 

One mother was penniless. He hadn't money enough to spare. He had barely enough to tide himself over for the fearsome winter. He couldn't afford to share what little he had. But his heart went out to her, and having nothing more to live for, he gave her all he had.

Late fall, when the next caravan came through, after a snowstorm, they found the cabin empty. In the backyard they found the frozen body of Ned, seated on the ground, with his back propped up against the grave marker, clutching a Bible in his icy hands. He and Esther made the journey after all, just by a different route.  

Moral dilemmas for the voting booth and battlefield

A couple of problems with French's tweet:

i) Making moral evaluations about voting isn't about assessing a particular candidate in isolation, but a comparative judgment about competing candidates. You are choosing between one candidate and another. 

ii) French's scruples are ironic and lacking in self-reflection when you remember that French is an ex-Marine. He volunteered for service during the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. And he was deployed to Iraq.

Now warfare is notorious for its moral dilemmas. "The problem  of dirty hands". Take airstrikes which will inevitably result in the killing or maiming of innocent children. Children who are blinded or horribly burned or lose arms and legs as a result of air strikes. 

If that's justifiable, how is voting for Trump worse than that? Both soldiers and voters are sometimes confronted with moral dilemmas. Presumably, French endorses the lesser-evil principle to justify his own, voluntary participation in the horrors of war. Why does he have different moral standards for voting and warfare? 

Identity politics for me but not for thee

I posted on this once before:

But now I'd like to make some additional, related observations:

i) James White is a critic of identity politics. And that's fine. Identity politics should be opposed. The problem is when he unconsciously uses identity politics to further his own argument. 

ii) Now a critic of identity politics could use identity politics in a tu quoque argument. Let's assume identity politics for the sake of argument, then draw some conclusions or parallels that should make proponents of identity politics balk. But that's not what White is doing where. 

iii) Likewise, judging individuals by group association isn't fallacious if particular beliefs or behavior are intrinsically related to that affiliation. For instance, it's proper to make assumptions about a Klansman, since that's what the KKK stands for. It's proper to judge a Democrat politician by the party he represents, since his party has official ideological positions.  

iv) It is, however, fallacious and unjust to associate individuals with group membership behavior when that's an adventitious association or incidental feature of their affiliation. Since there's no intrinsic relationship between abortion and race/ethnicity, making invidious comparisons between black mothers in general and white mothers in general vis-a-vis abortion unthinkingly buys into the tactics and assumptions of identity politics. 

v) Moreover, that's not an isolated example. James White seems to have a blind spot in that regard. Remember this incident?

Once again, that's a classic example of White's subconscious identity politics. He stereotypes the black teenager by reducing him to a statistic. He slots the teenager into a standard narrative. What could be more prejudicial? Typecasting the teenager based on a single fleeting encounter, backfilled by statistics. 

Perhaps White would say he's not making assumptions about the teenager just because he's black but because he flipped off the police. Well, I daresay lots of teenage boys of all different racial or ethnic backgrounds are antagonistic towards the police. Would White posit the same backstory for all of them? 

vi) It's especially ironic because it reveals a subliminal double standard. On the one hand, White bends over backwards to disassociate Muslims in general from support for jihad, honor killings, a rape culture, &c. On the other hand, he has the opposite reaction when it comes to black Americans. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Black abortion

I was asked to comment on this. I'm not a statistician or sociologist (neither is James White). So these are considerations I have, as a nonspecialist:

1. Seems to me there are different ways of drawing the comparison. For instance, instead of comparing black mothers to white mothers, we might ask if unwed mothers abort their babies at higher rates than married mothers. If that's the case, then the "cause" might be that black mothers abort their babies at higher rates because more black mothers are pregnant out-of-wedlock than white mothers (although I believe the rate of out-of-wedlock pregnancies for white mothers is on the uptick). If so, the direct comparison wouldn't be between black mothers and white mothers, but between unwed mothers and wives, while the racial variable would be indirectly related.

2. Perhaps James would respond that this simply puts the "central cause" back a step because out-of-wedlock pregnancy is caused by "fundamentally rebellious sexual ethics". 

i) Strictly speaking, most folks who indulge in premarital sex aren't consciously rebelling against biblical sexual ethics because they are too theologically illiterate to have any idea what biblical sexual ethics represent. 

ii) Perhaps, though, it may be said that that's a side-effect of a general rebellion against natural revelation (Rom 1) rather than biblical sexual norms in particular. 

iii) Conversely, not all or most whites who conceive children within marriage are doing so in conscious obedience to biblical sexual ethics. Many people get married for romantic, economic, or customary reasons. In addition, some couples who conceive children within marriage aborted children conceived through premarital sex. So I'm not at all sure we can say the motivation is rebellious black mothers in contrast to white mothers. 

3. Furthermore, many conservative analysts attribute high rates of black single motherhood to Democrat social policies, viz. dysfunctional schools with high dropout rates; welfare–which eliminates the need for a male breadwinner. Democrats deliberately create a culture of dependence on gov't handouts to keep Democrats in power. Isn't that a factor? 

4. Finally, I believe it's a well-established fact that white eugenicists like Margaret Sanger targeted the black community for genocide. That raises the question of whether organizations like Planned Parenthood made "abortion services" more widely available in the black community than the white community. That would certainly be consistent with the white eugenicist program. If that were the case, it might be another factor in higher abortion rates among black mothers. 

P.S. Although he didn't explicitly compare black mothers to white mothers in the original tweet, in a subsequent tweet, he said "Black women average 3.5x the number of abortions compared to white women in the US." 

Quest for manhood

I'm going to comment on a statement by AD Robles.  

He did a follow-up to elaborate on his position: 

1. The aim of my post is not to dissect his tweet but to use it as a launchpad to briefly review masculine ideals. That's an urgent issue. Many men lack a clear masculine ideal. That's in part because many men come from broken homes. They were raised by single moms. They don't have brothers. So they lack natural role models of masculinity. 

In addition, secular progressives are making every effort to destroy normative masculinity. And that leads to further confusion.

2. Robles says "effeminate" men should be church disciplined. He quoted 1 Cor 6:9 to prooftext his claim. Unfortunately, his appeal is fallacious. "Effeminate" isn't the most accurate translation of malakoi, although it may have been more accurate in 1611. At the most general level, malakoi denotes homosexuals. And it specifically denotes the anal-receptive partner in the transaction. A catamite or butt-boy. 

That's hardly synonymous with "effeminate". While there's overlap between queer men and effeminate men, some queer men aren't effeminate (in the sense of swishy) while some effeminate men aren't queer. 

Perhaps Robles is using "effeminate" in a broader sense than swishy. Maybe he means guys who fail to embody masculine virtues. 

3. We need to distinguish between manliness and projecting a macho image. There are guys who have the image down pat (beer, beard, tattoos, pickup truck, gym rat, colorful language), but they are totally dependent on modern technology. Some have none of the survival skills or problem-solving skills which men were expected to have into the early 20C. Machismo is playacting. Don't confuse masculinity with masculine affectations. 

4. I agree with Robles that church is a place where guys should be taught Christian masculinity. But what's the standard of comparison? Who's manlier–hipster Jeff Durbin or dapper James Kennedy? There are many visions of manliness. Consider some examples:

ii) The medieval chivalric code

iii) The Epic of Gilgamesh, Ramayana, Mahābhārata, Iliad, Beowulf, Song of Roland, Tom Brown's School Days, Last of the Mohicans, Red Badge of Courage.

iv) The Dangerous Book for Boys (Conn and Hal Iggulden); Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants (Doug Wilson); Defending Boyhood: How Building Forts, Reading Stories, Playing Ball, and Praying to God Can Change the World (Anthony Esolen)

v) Tough-guy actors, viz. Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Charlton Heston, Hugh Jackman, Burt Lancaster, Bruce Lee, Steve McQueen, Robert Mitchum, Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Edward G. Robinson, Richard Roundtree, Kurt Russell, Tom Selleck, Frank Sinatra, Christopher Walken, John Wayne, Bruce Willis.

vi) Actors who alternate between tough guy and debonair ladykiller, viz. Humphrey Bogart, George Clooney, Sean Connery, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, James Mason, Gregory Peck, Vyacheslav Tikhonov.

vii) Soldiers, jocks, cowboys, hunters, explorers.

5. Which of these represent good role models of manliness?  

i) Masculine criteria:

• The Book of Proverbs

• Qualifications for elders and deacons (1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9).

• Christian duties and virtues (e.g. Eph 5:25-31; Gal 5:19-23).

ii) Masculine role-models:

• Biblical heroes of faith, viz, Heb 11, David, Daniel, Joseph, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, St. Paul.

• Christian missionaries

7. Final note: real men don't watch Disney Princess movies. Manly dads don't let their sons watch Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street. Don't raise your son to be a nancy boy!

The new normal

Here's my reply to a homosexual man on Facebook:

There is enough evidence that shows it’s epigenetic.

1. There's also enough evidence that shows it's not epigenetic. The truth is the epigenetic basis for homosexual orientation is very hotly contested in the medical and scientific literature. Scientists and physicians go back and forth on it. What's more, there are pro-homosexual researchers who are skeptical about the epigenetic basis for homosexual orientation. Anyway, point being, it's far from conclusive or definitive.

2. However, suppose for the sake of argument the evidence shows there is an epigenetic basis for homosexual orientation. Nevertheless, many if not most researchers still argue epigenetics is not necessarily the fundamental let alone sole basis for homosexual orientation.

it’s basically like asking someone to give up on sex