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6 comments | Sunday, October 30, 2005

Christians are often distinguished as people who believe whatever they are told by the church or house of worship—perhaps even the indoctrinations of parents. Faith is thought of as something that one believes “blindly” (hence the post title) - with NO supporting evidence. There are those Christians who believe blindly, and certain cults (such as Mormonism) teach that truth can be known through prayer. These ideas are heretical to biblical Christianity and often lead to deception.

Atheists such as Cenk Uygur, from the Huffington Post, give no credit, or respect for that matter, to Christians or any other theistic person. For example in: If You're a Christian, Muslim or Jew - You are Wrong he writes:

There is no damn Easter Bunny. There is no Jesus waiting to return. Moses never even existed. These were all convenient lies from the men of those times to gain power. Their actions were rational -- they wanted to deceive their brethren so that they could amass power. I get their motivations. But I cannot, for the life of me, understand our motivations, thousands of years later, still following the conmen of yesteryear into our gory, bloody, violent end.

After a somber assault and merciless degrading of the three monotheistic religions, Uygur closes with the following statement:

If you don't want to be called ignorant or misinformed, then get informed. Learn the real nature of our universe and put aside old wives tales about resurrected Gods, omniscient prophets and a guy who could split the Red Sea but couldn't find where he's going in the desert for forty years.

It's the year 2005. Let's start acting like it.
I have no desire to address Uygur’s contemptible post; it only confirms my assertion of the pendulum view of Christianity. Besides, Jesus said, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet" Matthew 7:6. In order to escape the challenges of skeptics, Christians have been retreating—and hiding behind “faith” (in the pejorative sense). In part, this is driven by fear of confrontation and more often than not—lack of knowledge. In fear of being humiliated; the claims of the bible become “true for me” or “just personal” and a dichotomy is drawn between reason and faith. It’s one thing to still be examining difficult issues with biblical and philosophical matters—I am always excavating new challenges myself; we all face difficult questions that sometimes leave us perplexed. But this is no reason to crawl into the fetal position; it just means more investigation and thoughtful analysis is warranted. Intellectual cowardice only fuels the unconstructive and pessimistic view of Christianity, such as Cenks.

Candidly, I am becoming nauseous of this depiction—that all Christians think this way (as Cenk purports) and are willingly ignorant or just stupid. Millions of people believe things that are true or false for either silly or valid reasons; but the truth or falsity of those beliefs should not and cannot be assessed exclusively on the conspicuous futility of thoughtlessness. In 100% man 100% God, Greg Koukl articulates his frustration of this passive intellectualism. He writes,

Part of my concern over the last fifteen years, more and more so of late, is the way Christians take a very one dimensional approach to problems. This one dimensional approach can be summed up with the phrase "Just trust God" or "The Bible says it, I believe it and that settles it." Now, obviously there's nothing whatsoever wrong with trusting God. And there's nothing whatsoever wrong with believing the Bible because it happens to say it and that would settle it. The problem is that those aren't usually the only factors involved. The concept of trusting God may be a little bit vague in some circumstances. But what it actually means to trust God and what the relationship is of our trust to God and our own personal responsibility to behave and make decisions in the Christian life has to be worked our more carefully.

I will tell you something; when I first became a Christian this was something that absolutely drove me nuts. As I was seeking to try and walk the Christian life and to do the things that I was supposed to do, I would frequently get comments from other people who said, "Don't try to live the Christian life, just trust God. Let Jesus do it through you." It drove me nuts because I'm the kind of person--you can probably guess--who likes to sink my teeth into something. If I'm going to get directions, I want them to be clear and do-able. To me those kinds of comments were simply too broad and general. They were just like cotton candy. You go for a big bite of this huge fluff and you snap your teeth on your teeth because that which was there dissolves into nothing in your mouth. This kind of advice was that way for me.

"Let Jesus do it." What does that mean? When my alarm goes off, do I get out of bed? Do I stand up, brush my teeth or do I say, "Okay, Jesus, do it for me." Do I get up and pray or does Jesus pray for me? Sometimes that very one dimensional kind of response, which ultimately tells us nothing and teaches us nothing, and equips us in no way, is something that Christians often fall back on when faced with difficult ethical decisions. Though I understand the motivation in many cases is to honor God, I think that often substitutes not only for clear thinking but also for genuine Christian thinking and a genuine Biblical response.

This debate between faith and reason is in many ways the decisive battleground between theism and atheism, and as Koukl articulates, this is because most defenses of theism appeal to the inadequacy of reason. But are there no grounds for faith?

Thomas Aquinas was the greatest medieval philosopher in his time. He tried to show the harmony between faith and reason, and between Christianity and philosophy. He asserts that from reason, we can know that there is a God and that there is only one God; these truths about God are accessible to anyone by experience and logic alone, apart from any special revelation from God.

Despite qualitative evidence for Christianity some will still not believe because faith is not something that one can be entirely persuaded into. People walked away from Jesus; why should we expect everybody to fall to their knees when they hear the truth—even the most powerful and constructive arguments can be futile. Faith in Jesus starts with knowledge (for one cannot have faith in someone they know nothing about, or sense the need for a savior if they do not recognize that they are a sinner, etc.), but after an objective mental persuasion (the evidences seen thereof) there must be a subjective step (that which cannot be seen) of personal faith in Christ for salvation. We can never reason someone into salvation; we can only provide them sufficient enough evidence to grant them confidence that when they take that step of faith in Christ; they are not stepping into the thin air of fairly-tales, but on the firm ground of reality and truth.

Faith builds on reason. Since faith and reason are both ways of arriving at truth -- and since all truths are harmonious with each other -- faith is consistent with reason. If we understand faith and reason correctly, there will be no conflict between what faith tells us and what reason tells us.

It is through examining our faith that we will grow stronger in our faith. Personally, I have spent a great deal of time examining philosophical and religious positions and arguments that are contrary to my beliefs. I recently purchased Bertrand Russell’s book, Why I am not a Christian, and look forward to reading it. In my experience, after examining and evaluating all the various claims, I am absolutely convinced that Christianity is truth. If the rest of the world is to recognize the intellectual rigor of Christianity—we better stop acting like fools for the world to slander, and figure out why we believe what we do.

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1 comments | Thursday, October 27, 2005

Today, Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. There is some dispute on the reasons she did so, but I find myself somewhat relieved. Bush’s nomination of Miers completely backfired. Moreover, although I am a Christian, and I support placing a Christian on the Supreme Court; this cannot be the only reason for a nomination.

Evidently, there is insufficient data to validate whether or not Miers has adequate qualifications and experience to provide sufficient Jurisprudence. As Christians, we have to consider the fact that Roe vs. Wade is not he only thing that Miers would be ruling on. Further, matters concerning the United States Constitution--plead for judicial wisdom and experience.

Simply put, Miers was not a good nomination, we don’t know her qualifications and just being a Christian is insufficient. I couldn’t find anything better than Frances Beckwith’s comment on Miers; and I will end on his note:

But for other Evangelicals, Miers' personal piety and promise of constitutional fidelity are neither sufficient nor necessary conditions for being a good justice or having a well thought-out judicial philosophy. I suspect that Evangelicals of the former variety would not board an airliner whose company motto is "God is our co-pilot, that's why we hire pilots with little or no experience." But it seems to me that the trajectory of our nation's juriprudential infrastructure is at least as important as one's airline safety.

"When it comes to your eternal life, you are saved by grace through faith. But when it comes to your jurisprudence, you are saved by works."


8 comments | Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dreadfully, I am now starting to experience the propelling of our cultural shift. For the most part, I considered postmodernism exterior to the Christian Church. Furthermore, I considered Christianity and postmodernism ideals to be completely incompatible to say the least, and hostile to each other to say the most. However, the infectious cultural shift to the ideals of postmodernism has not spared Christians, and in fact, has swallowed our very foundations of thought. Let me explain:

As by the title of the post, there is somewhat of a contradiction in terms an oxymoron between Christianity (in the classical sense) and postmodernism. In fact, there’s no compatibility between the two at all. I currently attend a large Conservative Evangelical Christian College. The name of the college and its location are completely irrelevant to my point, so I won’t bother mentioning it. There is no “emergent church” fiddling with the beliefs or convictions that the school holds to. The problem I see is not with the school itself, but the students that attend. Beginning with my first class there, I noticed that several students had a strong “liberal” point of view. I somewhat shrugged it off and presumed that the views were a minority (at least in the context of the school students).

However, as classes progressed and new classes started, I noticed the postmodern ideology grew more intense. This intensity of postmodernism reached a peak last night in class. As in most classes, presentations are usually performed by students at some point. In last night’s class, several students made diverse presentations. Some presentations were liberal—some conservative. I expected at least some controversial topics, but there were few. The controversial presentations were not so much what bothered me; it was what came after.

After each student’s presentation, students have the opportunity to ask questions, or even challenge the presenter’s point of view. Challenge, was exactly what I did. One student made her case for physician assisted suicide—and a lacking one at that. The student, in essence, asserted moral relativism and an inability to attain absolute truth. She also referred to God several times as somewhat of a causer to whatever state(s) (terminally ill) a person was in that justified physician assisted suicide. Following, she asserted her “Christianity” and stated the families’ autonomy to make such decisions over life.

Since I was in a Christian class room, purportedly filled with Christians, I quickly pointed to the theological problems of her point of view. Before she could even answer, there were at least four other students yelling that people don’t even believe the Bible anyway and completely disregarded my argument. Naturally, I corrected them—in that I was not speaking to a secular world view, but a Christian one. Following, I showed what follows when morality is subjective or determined by the family (i.e. abusing children is a “family” issue—no one else has the right to interject). My arguments were completely futile and many accusations arose. Apparently, I am intolerant, my views are true for me but not to anyone else, and that was just my interpretation of Scripture and so on and so fourth.

Here I am, standing in a class room in a conservative evangelical Christian school, being challenged on objective morality, truth, biblical authenticity and authority. I can expect this in the secular world; it’s predicable—but at a conservative Christian School? I was caught incredibly off guard. I was alone---very alone; outnumbered, outgunned, and attacked by the very people who are supposed to be on the same side, standing up for the gospel, standing up for what is right and wrong, and standing up for truth.

There is a serious problem here. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things to argue within the circle of Christianity, but none of which should be the aforementioned objections raised by the other students. Christianity is rotting from within. We no longer are just battling with the non-believing world—we are being attacked by our own and it hurts. I am just emoting at this point—but seriously, its no wonder atheists haven’t the slightest desire to become Christians. In many cases, atheists live a more consistent life than the Christian. What does that tell us? Bad news! Something needs to change.

I don’t want to play the victim; I am just revealing my frustration and a serous predicament for conservative Christianity. Postmodernism does not mix with Christianity; I refer you right back to the oxymoron of this post title “Conservative Evangelical Christian Postmodernism.” What ever happened to moral and intellectual accountability to God? I’m tired, but it’s time to kick-up some dust and just tell it like it is. If were dealing with Christians (or ostensible Christians), we must shown them what Gods word says; they can either accept it or reject it. But if they reject basic Biblical teachings, it’s no longer Christianity it’s something else; it’s their own taste of religion—so let’s not patronize them and call it Christianity.

I’ll end on this note:

Christianity is inherently antithetical to postmodernism- that the gospel isn’t big enough to embrace a philosophy that denies any fundamental truths. We can look postmodern, we can act postmodern, maybe even smell postmodern (who knows?). But the core of our faith cannot be postmodern.

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5 comments | Saturday, October 22, 2005

Let’s be honest, I am biased in that I have a point of view, like everyone else. However, my bias doesn't inform my conclusions in the same way that biases inform the conclusions of a naturalistic scientist. Naturalistic scientists start out a priori, with the idea that there either is no supernatural (i.e. God) or that the supernatural does not directly intervene in the machinery of the universe.

So where’s the distinction? Well, their bias automatically eliminates options before any “observation” even gets started. A naturalist is self obligated to only have a naturalistic conclusion. This is a demand of naturalistic philosophy. This trump by philosophy can be seen in the ID debate (see A Dirty Little Trick).

For the Christian, we are both open to naturalistic and supernatural explanations. We are not encumbered in our observations. The Christian can follow evidence (unhindered) where ever it leads. Arbitrarily excluding the possibility of an alternate explanation is a limitation and a bias. The Christian is more open minded, thus has the bettor opportunity to find truth and following wherever the evidence leads.

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1 comments | Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In my last blog, I started to write about ethical decay. Following, I want to survey some stats on what people actually believe, and finally, make a case for moral absolutes.

Ludlum and Mascaloinov conducted a survey on the perception of the nature of right and wrong; this survey was concentrated on college students.

Ludlum and Mascaloinov’s comprehensive study of ethics perception and college students can give us a clue to the current state the youth’s awareness of objectivity. In the study, they wanted to determine whether students supported uniform standards of right and wrong. The fundamental approach in the survey was to gage the response to two philosophical statements that grounds students to their world view.

The first philosophical statement was: “There are clear and uniform standards of right and wrong by which everyone can be judged”. The second philosophical statement was: “What is right and wrong depends on individual values and cultural diversity”. These statements indicate a clear standpoint that will direct and dominate ones ethical thinking.

According to Ludlum and Mascaloinov, 51.77% agreed or strongly agreed that right and wrong were based on cultural diversity. This survey reflects the undergoing change in our culture. It reveals our clouded thinking and our lack of self examination.

In a more broad and thorough survey conducted by Barna Research, people were asked if they believe if there are moral absolutes that are unchanging or that moral truth is relative to the circumstances. Their findings are as follows:

In two national surveys conducted by Barna Research, one among adults and one among teenagers, people were asked if they believe that there are moral absolutes that are unchanging or that moral truth is relative to the circumstances. By a 3-to-1 margin (64% vs. 22%) adults said truth is always relative to the person and their situation. The perspective was even more lopsided among teenagers, 83% of whom said moral truth depends on the circumstances, and only 6% of whom said moral truth is absolute.

The gap between teen and adult views was not surprising, however, when the adult views are considered by generation. While six out of ten people 36 and older embraced moral relativism, 75% of the adults 18 to 35 did so. Thus, it appears that relativism is gaining ground, largely because relativism appears to have taken root with the generation that preceded today's teens.

As statically shown, moral relativism has grown quit popular. In order to examine why, let us explore some arguments of relativism. However, before we undertake the first argument of relativism, we must define what we mean by moral relativism. In an article from Christian Research Institute, according to Frances Beckwith, moral relativism is the belief that there are no objective moral values that transcend culture or the individual. So in a sense, it seems that moral relativism is more of a rejection of moral standards than a “different” morality.

Failures of ethical/moral subjectivism:

The fist and most prevalent argument used to support relativism is the vast array of disagreement on moral issues. Some of these issues involve topics such as abortion and euthanasia that receive high media attention. The relativist argues that since there is such intense disagreement on so many vital issues, there is no way to absolutely know anything. In other words, since everybody cannot agree, there is no certainty to the matter and; therefore, nether side is right and neither side is wrong.

There is, however, a fundamental flaw in this thinking. Simply put, just because there is disagreement, it does not mean that there is no right answer. For example, if people disagree about whether or not the earth is round, it is not proof that the earth has no shape. Moral relativism fails to make the vital distinction between our opinions about morality and morality itself. To perform genuine moral thinking and deliver judgment between alternative points of view, one must make distinctions between our opinions about morality and morality itself, or there simply is no such thing as ethical deliberation.

To further examine the case for disagreement, it should be noted that in most cases, disagreements stem from factual discord, rather than having different morals. For example, in abortion, the pro-life position is that fetuses are full and valuable human beings. There is no doubt, that the pro-choice position holds that it is morally wrong to kill innocent persons. Therefore, we are in total agreement on this moral standard. However, where the disagreement stands, is whether or not the fetus is a person. The abortion debate is a debate about facts, not what is moral and what is not.

Another clear example of factual dispute, rather than moral dispute is cows in India. Frances Bewitch tells us that many people who live in India do not eat cows because they believe in reincarnation. In their belief, these cows may possess the souls of deceased human beings and ancestors. In the U.S., we do not hold that cows have human souls. For this reason, we eat cows (and their good) but we do not eat Grandma. It appears on the surface, therefore, that there is a fundamental value difference between Indians and Americans. Beckwith says, “This is a hasty conclusion, however, for both cultures do believe it is wrong to eat Grandma; the Indians, however, believe the cow may be Grandma. Thus it is a factual and not a value difference that divides our culinary habits”

Another argument relativists use to support their position is the argument from natural causes. This argument roots from Darwin’s theory of evolution. In the Darwinist framework, morality (along with any other sociological phenomenon) is purely the result of natural selection; there is no other law or entity that “causes” persuasion.

Robert Wright, in his book The Moral Animal - Why we are the way we are: The new science of evolutionary psychology, says, “We believe the things—about morality, personal worth, even objective truth—that lead to behaviors that get our genes into the next generation…”. Wright, among many others, believes that morality is not transcendent and can be explained by natural causes. However, this is not an explanation of morality, but a denial.

There are two essential problems with natural causes or “Evolutionary Psychology”. First, as stated above, natural selection does not explain morality but only denies it. Second, we, as human beings, seem to be free moral agents, thus we can make our own decisions. If natural selection is the case, the outcome, or decisions we make is predetermined by nature. Under these circumstances, rationality can be thrown out the window. No quantity of reason can determine moral action or perspective because one would be predetermined to act or think in a certain way.

Another interesting concept to consider with Evolutionary Psychology is that it cannot posit a good reason to be moral in the future. In other words, activities that can be identified as iniquitous or immoral can be explained by evolutionary progressions. This evolutionary theory is insufficient in explaining the transcendent morality that is conspicuous in our conscious and gives us no reason to be moral and virtuous human beings in the future. With postmodern philosophy, any moral action taken by a person is devoid of any virtue.

In response to postmodernism and moral relativism’s concept of reality, it is simply not livable. People who assert to a world of no absolute standard of morality simply do not live their lives in that fashion—none of us do. Often, the relativist will be the first person to object when some cuts in front of them in line, or gets cut off on the freeway. It is utterly ridiculous to suggest that Mother Teresa and Charles Manson are essentially the same, which would be the case if morals are relative. If moral relativism is true, there is no basis to object to slavery, murder, polygamy and even genocide.

It is perfectly okay to hold that a certain culture is wrong in their views. Without objecting to moral wrongs, Jews would have been annihilated by Hitler, women would still have no rights, and African Americans would still be slaves. Objecting to cultural decadency has always been morally justified. Ethical subjectivism leaves no opportunity for moral reform. If what a person thinks is right = right, then no one would ever need to change his or her moral point of view. Yet, isn’t this conclusion counter-intuitive to our ethical deliberations that recurrently demand the need for moral reform?

Morality is a self evident intuition that is known by everyone. There is no necessity to justify basic moral principals—they are self evident and all people know them. I am not the least bit inclined to justify the fact that killing babies for fun is wrong. It just is. There is, however, a certain few who do not recognize these basic principals—they are called PSYCHOPATHS.

Intolerant Morality

Not enough people have truly examined why they believe what they do. People tend to go with whatever ideological trend is popular in the culture. In our culture today, there is a trend of what is called “tolerance”. It is no longer politically correct to tell some one their wrong; especially if it is of a moral nature. This modern myth can be seen in the media, schools, and especially Hollywood.

Tolerance is unquestionably a virtue. However, tolerance has been redefined by postmodernism. Tolerance now means that that a person is to occupy neutral ground and make no judgment about other peoples views. There is no forcing of views on another person. This is a postmodern definition of tolerance, but not a historical definition.

According to Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, the word tolerate means to allow or to permit, to recognize and respect others' beliefs and practices without sharing them, to bear or put up with someone or something not necessarily liked. Notice that we cannot tolerate things to which we like. I do not tolerate chocolate chip cookies. I love them. As can be seen, the essential meaning of tolerance has been lost, and along with it the right to express our view if we fall prey to this definition.

On the other hand, one gets slapped with the label intolerant. The Wikipedia Encyclopedia has the elements of this re-definition. First, Wikipedia defines intolerance, as “the lack of ability or willingness to tolerate something.” However, I their descriptive, they show the “double meaning” that I suggested. It states:

In a social or political sense, it is the absence of tolerance toward others of differing viewpoints. As a social construct, it is very much open to subjective interpretation. For example, one of its current meanings in the American political sphere is "an expressed attitude of disagreement with another's views", with no direct action taken to squelch the opposing views or silence those who hold them. This definition is highly rhetorical, as it would imply a definition of its contrast, tolerance, as "an attitude of agreement". The irony is that tolerance can mean "disagreeing peaceably". [Emphasis added]
In an article by Greg Koukl, he makes a firm statement about the redefining of tolerance, he says:

Most of what passes for tolerance today is not tolerance at all, but rather intellectual cowardice. Those who hide behind the myth of neutrality are often afraid of intelligent engagement. Unwilling to be challenged by alternate points of view, they don't engage contrary opinions or even consider them. It's easier to hurl an insult--"you intolerant bigot"--than to confront the idea and either refute it or be changed by it. "Tolerance" has become intolerance.

The classical rule of tolerance is this: Tolerate persons in all circumstances, by according them respect and courtesy even when their ideas are false or silly. Tolerate (i.e., allow) behavior that is moral and consistent with the common good. Finally, tolerate (i.e., embrace and believe) ideas that are sound. This is still a good guideline.

Wrapping it up

It is not my point to say that moral judgments are easy to make. It is far from the case. But, there are the foundational objective guidelines we can attest to, and as free moral agents, we should hold fast to our intuitions. Some math problems we can do in our head, but some times you have to get out a sheet of paper and work some problems out; you may even have to do calculus. Just like math, some moral decisions are complicated and some are easy. And some times we get are sums wrong. Not all decisions are easy, especially in morality, there are a lot of factors and variables to wok with, but as long as we have our grounding of right and wrong, we can make morally correct decisions, and be truthful to ourselves.

My Philosophy Professor, Kenneth Samples makes a clear statement about morality, he says:

Any careful reflection on these moral obligations will indicate that they are certainly more than mere transitory or culturally imposed feelings. Ultimately, the subjectivist approach to morality collapses because it lacks an adequate metaphysical basis (a transcendent and morally perfect one, like the God of the Bible).

Ethical principles cannot exist in a metaphysical vacuum; they need a ground or foundation that can justify them. Unlike secular ethics, Christian ethics are grounded in the holy, just, righteous, and loving nature of God. And this God has decisively revealed Himself in the historical person of Jesus Christ.

Clearly, ethical subjectivism is a shallow and incoherent approach to moral values. Given the importance of morality, no one can afford to settle for deficient ideas about it.

Postmodernism has watered down people’s judgment of right and wrong to the extent that moral standards are not upheld; and in some circumstances in history, categorically ignored. With postmodernism, people are able to rationalize their iniquitous actions. The failure to address this issue at its root will only bring more treachery into our world. But we can learn from the mistakes by examining our own beliefs. However, we need to do so quickly and persuasively, in order to regain the moral intuition that has been clouded by our cultures influence.

In my next post, I will attempt to show that absolute morality requires a law giver and cannot be a result of natural law.

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1 comments | Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ethics is like toothpaste, you never think about it until your squeezing the last bit out. Headline after headline, we see ethical decay in the corporate world: Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Adelphia…, the list goes on and on. Who would have thought that Wall Street, a corporate arena of dreams, would become a playground for scandal? Most likely, nobody would have envisaged such a state of moral decay. But its here, and we must ask ourselves--WHY?

More talk has been wasted on what new laws, regulations, or penalties can be imposed to defuse corporate fraud. However, we are completely neglecting the underlining factors of the subject. The issue at hand is the fundamental backbone of ethics in which all application follows. This essential issue of ethics rests on ones philosophical standpoint on “right” and “wrong” and will ultimately persuade the moral and ethical behavior of an individual.

Unfortunately, the infiltration of a new “Postmodern” philosophy has corrupted our understanding of what is right and wrong, thus leading to society’s ethical erosion and current predicament. What is this postmodern phenomenon that infects our culture? This encroaching ideal of postmodernism is not easy to define. This term has been used interchangeably, such as a catch all phrase for its vast effects on today’s culture.

J.P. Moorland, a Professor of Philosophy at Biola University, best defines the “postmodern” phenomena as follows:

As a philosophical standpoint, postmodernism is primarily a reinterpretation of what knowledge is and what counts as knowledge. More broadly, it represents a form of cultural relativism about such things as reality, truth, reason, value, linguistic meaning, the self and other notions. On a postmodernist view, there is no such thing as objective reality, truth, value, reason and so forth. All these are social constructions, creations of linguistic practices and, as such, are relative to individuals, and social groups that share a narrative

The above quotation by Moorland gives us a glimpse of postmodernism and more than enough to battle with. It is this very movement of postmodern ideology that is infectious. Postmodernism undermines the very foundation of ethical judgment and values. It has, and continues to infiltrate into the corporate and business atmosphere.

A primary factor to consider when addressing the character of postmodernism is “Truth”. Before discussion can encompass meaning, truth must first be established. Norman Geisler, in “The Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics” says that “according to the absolutist view, what is true for one person is true for all persons, times and places”. Geisler leaves no room for subjective or “opinioned” truth.

With postmodernism, truth is naïve. Truth is a matter of opinion and is relative to the individual and/or social norms. Something is “true for me”, and has nothing to do with others. For the postmodern mind, truth with a capital “T” is dead. But this belief entails so many fundamental flaws that it leads me to think that you have to be indoctrinated to believe that there is no truth.

First, it should be brought out that the postmodern view of truth is self contradictory. To say that truth is relative, or to claim there is no truth--is an affirmation of truth. Postmodernists believe that their view of “truth” is actually true for everyone. Thus, they make an absolute statement of truth. In other words, if it’s true, it’s false, and if it’s false, it’s false. But even if it’s true that there is no truth; then it’s also must be false, because that becomes a true statement, which nullifies it. See my quick thought on truth.

When applying this concept of truth to “right” and “wrong” the postmodern will say “who is to say?” But this is the wrong question to ask. In fact, this question by the postmodern relativist is never meant to be answered when stated. What the postmodernist is trying to avoid, is moral judgment. With no absolute nature of truth, there can be no objective moral standard in which to judge by.

Following this thought of moral standards, people who attract to this postmodern philosophy of truth find it is safer, more convenient and less intrusive on ones conscious. When truth is diminished, all its related counterparts crumble with it. Ethics and morals become illogical and not applicable to any circumstance. It is simply safer to label truth as relative. But, “if there is no truth, then it is not the case that there is truth”.

Right and wrong are sometimes simple to establish and on other occasions difficult. It is the ambiguous decisions that we make that bring question to whether it can be known that actions are morally right or wrong in an absolute and universal sense. But just how much of this questioning has affected people’s basic understanding of right and wrong?
To be continued…

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15 comments | Monday, October 10, 2005

When it comes to religious matters, most people want to be politically correct. That is, they want to say “all religions are equally valid,” which is religious pluralism. However, the only thing correct about religious pluralism is that it’s politically correct. Apparently, as long as you’re sincere about your religion, and just as long as some type of “god” is relevant somehow, it doesn’t really matter what you believe. Religious belief has been completely taken out of the realm of reality. This, however, is completely absurd. One does not even need be religious to see that this is completely false.

Greg Koukl deciphers the misunderstanding when it comes to religious truths. In an Article called “Religious Stew,” he says the following:

Forgive me for stating something so obvious, but there is a difference between choosing an ice cream flavor and choosing a medicine. When choosing ice cream, you choose what you like. When choosing medicine, you have to choose what heals.

Many people think of God like they think of ice cream, not like they think of insulin. In other words, they choose religious views according to their tastes, not according to what is true. The question of truth hardly even comes up in the conversation.

More than that, the question of truth is somewhat of a confusing, almost incoherent issue to them. How can you test something like a religious claim to determine if it's true or not? Religious truth is what you believe. It's that leap of faith you take. It has nothing to do with reality, ultimately. It is not anything you can test or measure. It is something you have to believe and hope against hope that it's true. It becomes a kind of wishful thinking, a religious placebo of sorts.

Clearly, many people choose their religion like they choose their ice cream; what ever you like. But religious truth is not necessarily likeable. In Christianity, there are some things I don’t like, and if it were up to me I might change them; but its not. I did not choose Christianity because I like it and it makes me happy, I chose it because I think it’s actually true.

On the one hand, religious freedom is a good thing. People should be able to decide what religion they want to adopt, or to even scrap religion all together—this is freedom. Tolerance is a virtue, and with all the diversity in America, we should be respectful to others. However, “tolerance” does not mean that “all views are correct,” it just means that we respect the person’s right to choose their religion. People have taken tolerance too far and have redefined it. It is defined in a way now that makes someone “intolerant” if they say any particular view is right or wrong; which in effect, is intolerant of those who are intolerant.

Going back to pluralism, we simply do not put religion in a world that corresponds to reality. However, religious claims can be tested for coherence—and either accepted or rejected based on the findings. The real question people should be asking is whether or not (fill in the blank) religion is really true. This is not an “ice cream” question. If a certain religion is true, your eternal destiny maybe at stake; being silly and choosing what’s good for you is just wrong. So, as Koukl suggests, the question of religious truth is more like a medication question.

To make more sense of this, let’s consider the Avian Flu. Suppose this flu suddenly became highly contagious and began to pass from human to human as some suggest. Here is something the media, government, and health officials will NOT tell you. They won’t say: “There is a huge outbreak of the Avian flu, everyone needs to immediately get the Avian vaccination; what ever that means to you.” This, simply put, is not a matter of what you like; it’s a matter of what will save your life. Parallel this with religious truth and you can see that it’s not a flavor issue. This is why religious claims must be tested for coherence.

Another tendency is when people pick and choose things they like from each religion and then make their own. This is another dangerous flavor tactic. Koukl has cleverly labeled this “Stew” in his article:

I call this idea religious stew--taking little bits and pieces of different religions and putting them together in one 'pious porridge,' so to speak--the eclectic view, the religious smorgasbord view, where you go down the line and pick a little here and a little there, and you put it on your plate and call it your religion. When you put things on your plate you put them there for a reason. You put things on the plate in a smorgasbord because they are the things you like, not necessarily things that are good for you. That is the same problem with the religious stew approach.

I find it strange when people pick their religion like a grand buffet. However, many justify this by asserting the similarities of the world’s religions are all that truly matters. But sound reasoning tells us, however, that all religions are not essentially the same merely because they contain some similarities. It only takes a brief survey of a few religions that would hastily reveal that every single one of them has competing claims which contradict other religions.

Take Hinduism for example; can someone logically square the Hindu teaching that the universe is God with the Muslim belief that Allah, the God of Islam, is distinct from the universe? Anybody who takes an honest approach to comparative religion would have to admit that religions harbor irreconcilable differences, demonstrating that they cannot all possibly lead to the same God. Logically speaking, it would be more correct to say they can all be wrong. However, they cannot all be right. The law of contradiction states that no statement can be both true and false; or, A and not-A is a contradiction and always false.

It is not my intent to condemn all religions, at this point; I only want to show what is clear. It is impossible for all roads to lead to Rome. In light of logic, we can still respect people’s freedom of choice, but let us not patronize each other with smiles ad nauseam as if it were—that all religious views are true. Everyone thinks their religion is the right one or else what’s the point? Their all exclusive. We should search for truth and reject what is not truth even in religious matters.

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0 comments | Friday, October 07, 2005

With Intelligent Design (ID) now in the courtroom, numerous opponents of ID are attempting to discredit it by calling it a “religious” argument. Calling ID “religious” is a dirty trick which tries to evade the issue of whether or not it is a scientific method or has any scientific merit. Just because ID happens to support a certain theological view point, does not mean it is objectionable. Calling ID “religious” does not discount scientific methodology.

First, you can call ID “religious” all you want, but it accomplishes nothing. It’s the equivalent of calling it a “Swiss cheese sandwich”; it means nothing. The question regarding ID should be, “Is it scientific?”

The ACLU seems to have already concluded their analysis. This is what they have to say about ID:

…the ACLU is leading the legal challenge against the activists and political lobbyists who are attempting to insert their personal religious beliefs into science education, as if it were science. By trying to use governments to give the prestigious label of “science” to their beliefs, these activists are misleading children and parents and endanger religious freedom for all Americans.

“Intelligent design” is a pseudo-science that has been repudiated by every leading scientific organization, including the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. Each of these organizations asserts that the ideas promoted by ID advocates lack any scientific merit and that their claims cannot be supported by scientific research.
The ACLU holds nothing back, and is far from shy on expressing their position on ID. In fact, they seem quit hostile toward ID. But notice, however, that they say, “[ID is]... attempting to insert their personal religious beliefs into science education”. How does ID do this? At best, ID infers some type of Designer (could even be an alien), and maybe Deism, but not Theism. Secondly, this ignores Dembski’s Explanatory Filter which is currently being used in science already.

For example, take NASA's SETI program, which seeks to identify the presence of extra- terrestrial life, and how statisticians and computer scientists distinguish random from non-random strings of digits. This can be exemplified in the movie Contact. In the movie Contact the SETI researchers found the prime numbers from 2 to 101, where a given prime number is represented by the corresponding number of beats (i.e., 1’s), and the individual prime numbers are separated by pauses (i.e., 0’s). The SETI researchers in Contact took this signal as decisive confirmation of an extraterrestrial intelligence; but why?

What is it about this signal that decisively indicates design? Whenever we infer design, we must establish two things—complexity and specification. Complexity ensures that the object in question is not so simple that it can readily be explained by chance. Specification ensures that this object exhibits the type of pattern that is the trademark of intelligence (hence, Explanatory Filter).

Here is what the SETI Institute had to say about what scientists have to say about their program:

For more than forty years, SETI science has received the highest seal of approval available to astronomy-related science. Every ten years, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences produces a decadal report of the priorities for astronomy and astrophysics. SETI has been repeatedly endorsed in each review. The most recent report (the reviews occur once every ten years), released in 2000 and covering the period 2000-2010, was particularly clear in its praise of the Allen Telescope Array and its potential, noting that "SETI research demands continued development of innovative technology and approaches, " and describing the ATA (at the time referred to as 1Ht) as … [the Allen Telescope Array] is "a good example of such an innovative approach," that "will pioneer new radio techniques."
According to SETI, they have received “the highest seal of approval” in science. However, why is the same methodology used in ID, considered not science—and who gets to decide? This shows that science in not driven by just methodology, but philosophy. Also, this also shows that philosophy—trumps the method in science. I will admit that I am not fully informed on all the aspects of ID (yet I have a reasonable grasp) and I am not a scientist; it would take some time to study the subject to its fullest. Nevertheless, let’s scrap the dirty little tricks and just concentrate on whether ID is science or not.

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7 comments | Wednesday, October 05, 2005

During Socrates dialogue with Euthyphro, Socrates presented a confounding question to Euthyphro; a question which perplexed Euthyphro. This infamous question has deliberately been used to make Christians stumble and scrounging for an answer without being plunged into the horns of the two options; and for the most part, it has worked. Plato, a historical master thinker, wrote about Socrates in his dialogues. Frankly; we only know of Socrates through Plato’s writings and he may have very well been a figment of Plato’s imagination, but even so, the very real question still lingers today.

So what is this mortifying question posed by Socrates? Here is the quote:

The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy or holy because it is beloved of the gods.

In other words, Euthyphro’s Dilemma consists of asking: Does God (or [gods] in the context) love things because they are good, or are they good because God loves them? This is a simple question, but to answer leads to grave problems for the Christian.

A short way of asking this question is, “where do moral standards come from?” However, either answer to the question posed by Socrates plunges the theist (more specifically—the Christian) into a horn.

Here is a simplistic formalization of the argument from the Strong Atheism site.
1. Either:

(a) The Good is willed by God because it is the Good.
(b) The Good is the Good because it is willed by God.

1. If (1a) is true, then the Good is independent of God’s will.
2. If (2) is true, then God did not create the Good, and is not Creator.
3. If (1b) is true, then the Good is contingent and subjective (toGod’s will).
4. If (4) is true, then there is no objective standard of morality, and the absolute of value-selection is false.
5. [Therefore] God does not exist.

As one can detect, there is somewhat of a dilemma that Eithyphro faces. Or is there? An atheist and British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, devised the problem this way in his polemic against the Christian faith in, Why I Am Not a Christian:

If you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, you are then in this situation: Is that difference due to God's fiat or is it not? If it is due to God's fiat, then for God Himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good. If you are going to say, as theologians do, that God is good, you must then say that right and wrong have some meaning which is independent of God's fiat, because God's fiats are good and not good independently of the mere fact that he made them. If you are going to say that, you will then have to say that it is not only through God that right and wrong came into being, but that they are in their essence logically anterior to God

When Russell is using this question, he is attempting to show a defect in the way Christians present God’s goodness. But the way the question is asked; one is forced to only take the two options. This is where the problem comes in. If “good” is good only because God says so, the goodness, therefore, has no meaning — God could take what is “evil” today and pronounce it “good” tomorrow, if He chose. On the other hand, if God has no control over what is “good” or “evil” in and of Himself, but is rather, inferior to some standard outside His control, can He actually qualify as an almighty and sovereign God? If there is a definition of “good” God can’t change, who wrote it?

Avoiding the Horns and solving the problem:

Socrates leaves us with only two options; however, there is a third. First, as Christians, we must reject both the first and second options (listed below) offered by Socrates to remain coherent:

1. Either:

(a) The Good is willed by God because it is the Good.

(b) The Good is the Good because it is willed by God.

In Islam; the “good” is the good because it is willed by God. Thus, the “good” is contingent and subjective (to God’s will) (1b) of the dilemma. Therefore, anything morally wrong today (i.e. torturing babies), is subject to change if God decides it is good. In other words, the God of Islam (Allah) is capricious. However, the God of the Bible is good by nature, and therefore, cannot fall in the horn of the second answer (1b), without being incoherent. But God is not good simply because He IS good (Good = God); He is good because it’s an essential characteristic of God, which leads to our solution.

Our third option (which is not offered by Socrates) is that objective moral law exists internally to God. In other words, the goodness of God is grounded in the absolute character of God; it’s in his makeup. Therefore, God could not arbitrarily make killing babies moral, because it would conflict with his character.

Dr. William Lane Craig condenses a precise answer to the dilemma as follows:

You split the horns of the dilemma by saying that the good is the very nature of God and that the commands of God flow necessarily out of His moral nature. Because God is just, He commands things that are for us just. So the good is neither arbitrary, nor is it something outside and above God. Rather the good is the moral nature of God Himself, which is expressed necessarily in His moral commands, which become for us our moral duties.

Solving the problem Euthyphro faced does not prove a Christian world view. However, it does show that Christianity is not surmounted with incoherence by this question. So, Euthyphro’s dilemma is really no dilemma at all; thus, it is a false dilemma

Moral Law Requires a Law Giver

Many Atheists reject absolute moral law because they recognize that, Atheism simply does not have the foundations for objective moral values and duties. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

Again, Dr. William Lane Craig makes the argument exceedingly simple:

Actions like rape, cruelty, and child abuse aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior; they're moral abominations. Some things are objectively wrong. Similarly love, equality, and self-sacrifice are really good. Accordingly, we can affirm:

1. Objective values and duties require a Law Giver.

2. Objective values and duties do exist.

But then it follows logically and inescapably that:

3. Therefore, God exists.

Therefore, if you are an atheist, and you believe in absolute moral standards; you have a serious problem, because you simply have nothing to ground yourself with.

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