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5 comments | Monday, November 28, 2005

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown starts a business teaching people not to be like Michael Brown! Why would anyone want to hire this guy as a consultant? I wouldn’t hire Brown as a security guard let alone a disaster consultant.

Amazing!

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8 comments | Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"…After severing the teenager's head with a tomahawk, Mr Roughan wrapped the torso in a carpet, dragged it under the house and stabbed it repeatedly with the knife... "

I wonder how moral relativists deal with this kind of sickness. Can they call this person a psychopath? This person can only be judged if there is a transcendent standard of morality above all individuals—societal standards—and culture. Anything less, is just someone’s arbitrary opinion. Otherwise, it really makes no difference (ultimately). Really, what’s the difference between helping an old lady across the street and running her over for the moral relativist?

If relativism is true then there is no transcendent standard; there's no sense to the notion of justice or fairness. Everybody does their own thing. And when we have incidents like the above—what do we say now?

Full story here

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0 comments | Saturday, November 19, 2005

In “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau expressed his distress with the State and ideal of what true civil liberty was. He had somewhat of an unorthodox and probably ineffectual response to the governance of his time, but we can glean from some of his ideas. I don’t think his repudiation to pay taxes will suffice today; however, he truly contained the insight of the individual and collective governance.

It seems today, that no matter who obtains office, perversion always prevails. Thoreau stated that government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Truer today than ever, we are battling with the perversion of government, and dispensing with our own collective wills in silence.

Thoreau, however, does not decree disposal of government, nor do I. We share this thought in common:

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at one no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.
Being a voice is decisive to civil stewardship, justice, and liberty. Thoreau's unwillingness to compromise was not a sign of perversity and anarchy—but of principle. However, this principal has faded away and unfortunately, the contemporary Church as a whole has apparently ignored our stewardship to this country and the protection and preservation of our principles. As the Church grows in numbers and power, our moral grounding and cultural values slowly decay. Why is it that “mega-churches” are uprising throughout America; yet pro-choice and homosexual advocates prevail in legislative battles?

As a body, we have failed to confront the perversions surrounding us. In many cases, for the sake of “tolerance”, the Church has embraced our foes. TV evangelists eloquently speak of “God’s love”, but dare not address the attack of moral values in our society. Thoreau recognized the inherent inadequacy of lip service and said “we love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire.”

Thoreau’s ideal of government is even more distant today than ever. However, though there are crucial problems we battle with, we have the greatest system there is. There is no other country that can reflect the liberty and freedom we have; but were loosing it. This is why it’s important that Christians (i.e. the Church) escape from their isolated bubble and transform the culture from within. Thus, we must make known the voice of our will.

Society is just a collection of individuals; if we begin to effect one individual at a time, we will affect society. Moreover, if we make known to our current representatives our contempt for immorality—we may prevail. This will not be effortless—there’s already an invisible muzzle adhered to our lips. But we must break the silence and stop the decline of our values and of our society. Most importantly—we cannot forget God. For without God—nothing is of consequence and nothing is of virtue.

My concern is afresh from a long decline and removal of what is of most consequence—one that will ultimately determine the fate of America. Thus, I close with the words of President Lincoln in his Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer, March 30, 1863:

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.*

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0 comments | Friday, November 11, 2005

Greg Koukl has written a noteworthy argument for the existence of God through the reality of evil. The existence of evil has probably been the most difficult obstacle in my personal belief. However, the existence of evil is not a good argument against the existence of God. I hear this argument by atheists frequently.

Below is a taste of what Greg writes about in the article:

The argument against God based on the problem of evil can only be raised if some form of moral objectivism is true. Morals, therefore, exist. I need not give a complete taxonomy of ethical guidelines to make my case. If there is even one moral absolute, it invites the question, "What kind of world view explains the existence of this moral rule?"
I think this brings challenges to not just atheists but to theists. If evil exists—God exits. However, which world view has the best explanation for this? I side with Christianity, but Christians have a lot “splannen” to do with some of the things in the OT and historical events in the world. Nevertheless, I think it can be done, but there is no “silver bullet” for the problem of evil (though I wish there was).

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1 comments | Monday, November 07, 2005

There has been a lot of confusion about Intelligent Design going around the blogsphere. Personally, I support ID; but I wouldn’t be dogmatic about the whole subject. Apologia Christi has already posted a question and answer blog for the top questions about ID, and they are short and to the point. Perhaps if proponents and opponents just quickly reviewed them, they can take a more effectual approach on the subject. For the most part, all I have heard against ID is name calling—this is just a trick and accomplishes nothing.

ID is not Christianities saving ark. In fact, ID doesn’t even have any implications of Christianity other than some “intelligent creator.” At best, ID can lead someone to Deism. Wikipedia defines Deism as the classical view is that the universe was created by a God who then makes no further intervention in its affairs (the clockmaker hypothesis).

When Sir Isaac Newton published his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, wherein he described universal gravitation and, via his laws of motion, laid the groundwork for classical mechanics, he wanted to show how unified and structured the world was. Newton believed that to explain what happens is the scientist's domain, but to explain the "ultimate causation" is God's domain. Newton wanted to bring Christianity into conformity with science. However, Newton only popularized Deism, because that’s as far as his works can take you. In essence, he wanted to bring people to Christ with his work, but it backfired and people became deists.

If the logical conclusion of ID is deism; it is not religious. Calling ID religious doesn’t make it religious. Melinda Penner from STR illuminates for us the religion vs. science debate in ID:

"Very simply, science employs induction to develop theories about how the natural world works. We make observations and draw conclusions. Darwin did this on his trip to the Galapagos Islands and his conclusion was the theory of evolution that has since become the reigning paradigm in science. In the very same way, intelligent design employs inductive reasoning. Observing cases in the natural world that appear irreducibly complex and designed, some scientists conclude that there is a designer. It’s the same method used in science every day. Based on that, I think ID should be taught as a rival explanatory theory in public schools."

"Now, religion only comes in when we try to determine the nature of the designer. That extends beyond the evidence science provides. We might get some clues, but who the designer is belongs in the realm of religion. But this isn’t what proponents of ID want to teach. We only want the science to be taught."

"As it stands now with no rival theories in public schools, a philosophical or pseudo-religious point of view is implicitly part of the curriculum because evolution as a random, purposeless process is explicitly naturalistic or, we might even say, atheistic."If the same process of induction can lead to a rival theory that isn’t allowed to be taught in public schools, the exclusion is a result of religion or philosophy, not science."

It would appear that atheism dogmatically opposes ID for philosophical reasons. I think atheists should not fear ID. If there is no God (personal or not), experiments for ID should come up with a big fat zero. If ID does come up with a zero, then I guess all its proponents look foolish. Either way, this has turned into a philosophical debate, rather than a scientifically debate.

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4 comments | Friday, November 04, 2005

Previously, in Toothpaste Ethics Part 1 and Part 2, it was shown that moral relativism is bankrupt and incoherent. But what follows from this assessment if one is to concede objective morality? In generally, there are two main types of thinking—(natural and supernatural). The two positions of thought must ask these basic questions.

  1. Do objective moral laws point to a Law Giver?
  2. Or can the basis for morality be sufficiently plausible for the secular?
For Christians, God is the source and ultimate foundation for morality. On the opposing side, the secular view states that objective morality does not require a God and that rational beings can identify the difference between right and wrong. Both religionists and secularists offer a variety of answers to such questions.

The importance of a moral foundation

Concepts of moral obligation (i.e. moral right and wrong) are experienced by all people to greater or lesser degree. Because of the implications that follow, few subjects are of greater importance than morality. Just about every great thinker in history has contemplated the existence of God and the nature of morality. But can someone be good without God? The answer at first seems obvious. It would seem arrogant and ignorant to claim that those who do not share a belief in God do not often live good moral lives--indeed, embarrassingly, lives that sometimes put our own to shame.

First, it is clear that many non-Christians and atheists live good moral lives; that is not under debate. A common slander regarding ultimate morality and religion is when it is stated that religionists assert that you need the bible or other holy book in order to know the difference between right and wrong. This is not the case, and I will not argue this way. In other words, knowledge of moral principals can occur apart from scriptural reference.

Morality is significantly important. For no matter how sincerely one believes what is right and wrong and whether any action is moral or immoral, the true test is the origin of that belief.

Objectivity

Before we can proceed, we should identify objectivity and it’s relation to morality. What do we mean by objective morality? "Objective" morality means that morals are non–conventional. They’re not simply based upon human apprehension, but these are values that hold regardless of whether anybody believes in them or not. Similarly, objective morality is true just like 2+2=4.

If you negate objective morality then you are forced to commit to moral relativism. In this case, there is no “real” morality—just your opinion. Moral relativism was already addressed in toothpaste ethics, so I will not spend a lot of time negating the issue within this post.

The upper hand of Theism

The first thing I want to point out is that if God exists, then the foundations for morality are secure. Following this basis, Supernaturalism provides a sound foundation for morality. Naturalism, on the other hand, does not provide a sound foundation for morality. For one, by abandoning God as the foundation of morality, one will lose all bases for saying that objective right and wrong exists. All attempts to ground objective morality on a non-theistic basis fail. But even so, if there were objective moral values under naturalism (which I don’t see how), they’re irrelevant because there is no ultimate moral accountability.

Cut—Flowers Thesis

Glenn C. Graber referred to in his doctoral dissertation on The Relationship of Morality and Religion as the “cut-flowers thesis”—a notion that explains the effects on morals and ethics when they are separated from their religious moorings based on the existence of the “Supreme Governor”—God.

Discussing the cut-flowers thesis, theistic philosopher David Lipe wrote the following:

[O]n the cut-flowers thesis, those who believe morality is a valuable human institution, and those who wish to avoid moral disaster, will make every effort to preserve its connection with religion and the religious belief which forms its roots. The apologetic force of the cut-flowers thesis becomes even stronger if the religionist makes the additional claim that morality is presently in a withering stage. This claim takes on a sense of urgency when the decline in morality is identified with the muddle in which civilization now finds itself.

In essence, the cut-flowers thesis parallels the decay and withering of flowers cut and separated from their roots, to the decay and withering of morality when it’s cut and separated from “Supreme Governor”.

In Decline of Morality in Our Society, columnist Pete Fisher writes the following:

The Liberal views that took root in the 60’s have begun coming to full fruition. The Sexual Revolution as the Women’s Movement called it took hold. How they ever figured it would benefit women is beyond me, but they pushed it. Then the Gay movements arrived, and took hold in a militant form that has an agenda to have our children taught that their lifestyle is just fine, and should be explored. Reading some of those ads, it also became evident that roots had strongly taken in our society. It is quite evident that having “fun” is more important than traditional; values such as hard work and fidelity.Then the massive thrust of television and theaters that taught these same people that sex, and alternative lifestyles, marital infidelity, and divorce are all to be accepted as normal.

The violence from Hollywood has also inundated the minds of our society, and has taken root as well. And even further, is the Liberal PC movement that takes into regard many of these lifestyles and embraces them as acceptable, all the while bashing Christianity and its value system. We have allowed in this nation to have the Bible, and mention of Christian values taken from society and have allowed all these other immoral and destructive behaviors and lifestyles to become seen as normal.

Fisher expresses the trend of the decay of morality. However, any mediocre reflection can identify this trend. One only needs to flip on the television to see the envelope pushed further each day and recognize the deterioration of moral values. This is exactly what the cut-flowers thesis predicts—the withering of morality and it is seen today.

The corrosion of morals begins in microscopic proportions. The collapse of morality does not happen overnight, but gradually descends into meaningless. If moral standards cannot be measured by a standard beyond ourselves, it will only continue to wither and ultimately erode the very foundation of our lives.

Rationalizing Morality

Many atheists will ground morality on the intellect. The intellect is the exclusive informant of moral guidance. One only needs to reason about morality to determine what is right and wrong. A simple introspection can be sufficient for identifying and directing the moral action of an individual. For example, in The Immorality of Religious Morality John Nelson writes:

Every advancement we have made, and every accouterment we now enjoy has come about through the use of our reason. Faith has never moved a mountain, but human brain power and technology can. We advance through a process of intellectual accretion. Reason is, in fact, the faculty that defines us as being human. To insist that reason is 'limited' and that there are other methods (meaning faith) of acquiring knowledge is to reject the efficacy of reason simply because it does not allow us to treat flights of the imagination as tangible realities. The person advancing such a notion is not a person comfortable with reality and seeks an escape from it. In order to escape the sometimes discomforting facts of reality and contemporary living, such people must circumvent reason and introduce a non-life value in its place

When I say that something is “good”, I don't mean that it promotes life, or pleasure, or anything else. I mean simply that it is good. Goodness is a simple property like “redness” or “real” that we all understand perfectly well; but which cannot be defined on account of its simplicity. Any detailed attempt to define “good” would be incapable of avoiding a non-circular definition, or reasoning.) Goodness is something you can’t see. You can’t put goodness in a test tube and measure it. It’s a property grasped by the conscience, a property similar to logical validity which is invisible yet fully real.

An animal can't discern whether an argument is valid, nor can it determine goodness, because it lacks intellect. We have intellect; hence we are aware of many properties that cannot be seen, heard, smelt, etc. I've never realized that something is evil by staring at it under a microscope, nor have I ever used my sense of taste to determine what is evil. (Though I might use by intellect to realize that poison is evil, and use my taste to discover the something is poisoned). Any rational person can determine what is right and what is wrong. This is the point in which many get confused. Using the intellect, we assume that that it is the exclusive informant between right and wrong and the intellect, or reason is the ultimate informant of morality, but this is false.

Conscious and Intellect

Implications of moral obligation have their roots in the conscience. The conscience is what exposes right and wrong to a person. The word “conscience” derives from Middle English, from Old French, and from the Latin conscientia. It refers to the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good. Secondly, it is the faculty, power, or principle enjoining good acts. It is the mind’s reflexive act upon knowledge to the good of the self. If that is a little technical, then may we say that the conscience is the little voice God has given us in our heart (or head) to determine, based on what we know or have studied about he facts of a given situation, what is right and what is wrong.

However, the conscience does interact with the intellect; which allows the intellect to inform our actions. In other words, the intellect is educated of right and wrong by the conscience. During the process of education, however, the intellect has the ability to distort or confuse the message of the conscience. This explains the wide disarray of values and moral principles.

The Apostle Paul also makes this distinction in Romans 2: 14-15

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;
We experience the correlation between conscience and intellect frequently. Were constantly fighting our conscience and often submitting to temptation. For example, when one is doing their annual taxes, they might “conveniently forget” to disclose some miscellaneous income. The conscious informs the person that what their doing is wrong and deceiving. However, the intellect can rationalize the actions that were taken. One might be persuaded to think that the government already takes too much from their income, or that the money will be better off donated to a charitable organization. In other words, the conveyance of wrong by the conscience can be rationalized away.

Also, the desire for self-preservation is greater than the desire to help. However, the conscience has the ability to overpower the desire for self preservation to help another in an “ought” situation. This completely negates the supposition of the basis of ethics as causality. Which states, in essence, everything has consequences, and so do actions; actions have consequences, and our role is to find those consequences and act accordingly. This completely fails to account for “ought’s” that have harmful or detrimental causalities.

Your conscience is the voice of authority for morality.

Moral Grounding

There have been various attempts by secularists to try to ground objective morality without God. Such as previously mentioned cognitive morality though reason. Also, there are social cognition and development theories, Marxist conceptions, Utilitarianism, social contract, consequential theories and so on. However, none of these theories are adequate to ground morality; all fail.

Previously, I stated that a supernatural God can account for objective moral values. Naturalism, on the other hand, cannot ground morality to anything objective. Another observation that should be taken note of is ultimate accountability. If there is no God, then there is no ultimate accountability. How can it make a difference what kind of person you are—whether or not there’s moral accountability? The point is: it doesn’t make any difference what kind of person you are on the naturalistic view. Our end is all the same, and you ultimately do not contribute to the good of the universe or the ultimate betterment of moral value because there simply is no moral value.

On this basis, objective moral values cannot exist because the secularist cannot provide ultimate accountability. Moreover, atheism cannot provide an ontological foundation for morality because a theistic ontological foundation for morality is necessary.

In addition to morality, atheism cannot account for many things. What is love on a naturalistic view? It’s a chemical reaction in the brain, an electro–chemical impulse, and hormones traveling through bodies. For the atheist, love is removed of any sort of moral or ethical significance. Atheists have no basis for affirming that things are really right or wrong, if God does not exist.

It’s difficult to convince atheists that all things are permitted once you get rid of God. You cannot say, for example, that infanticide is simply wrong. You can only say that it is wrong for us, but it was all right for the Greeks. But you cannot affirm, on his view, that it is simply wrong. If it is, on what basis?

In order to be morally good, in order for us to have objective right and wrong, real values, which we all affirm, need to have a supernatural foundation. If God does not exist, then morality is only a human convention and is ultimately meaningless. God is the only universal and absolute origin to all morality
Evidently, naturalism just doesn’t do the trick. We must have a supernatural basis to provide an objective foundation for our moral lives, for the values that we all hold dear and firm and intuitively sense, and we need God to provide moral accountability for our lives, so that our moral choices become significant and acts of self–sacrifice are not robbed of meaning and become just empty gestures.

In the begging of this post I asked can someone be good without God. The answer is no; because without God, there is no good or evil. Without God, there is only opinion and ultimately—only demise.

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