Sunday, April 15, 2018

Do you believe in American civil religion? Not me.

Discussed here.  

Civil religion, on the one hand, often refers to America's covenantal relationship with a divine Creator who promises blessings for the nation for fulfilling its responsibility to defend liberty and justice. While vaguely connected to Christianity, appeals to civil religion rarely refer to Jesus Christ or other explicitly Christian symbols. Christian nationalism, however, draws its roots from "Old Testament" parallels between America and Israel, who was commanded to maintain cultural and blood purity, often through war, conquest, and separatism. Unlike civil religion, historical and contemporary appeals to Christian nationalism are often quite explicitly evangelical, and consequently, imply the exclusion of other religious faiths or cultures.

Does Richard Carrier Exist?


Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Christian tribute to an atheist philosopher


Guns don't kill people, people kill people. So do slogans

If a gun is discharged and kills a person, it is true it is normally caused by a persons. So, a person decides to kill, this causes the person to pull the trigger, this causes the gun to discharge, and if it reaches its target, the person dies. So the gun caused the death, but the shooter caused the gun to caused the death.
But this doesn't meant that the availability of guns, or certain types of guns, or the availability of guns for certain types of people, isn't a bad thing. If a parent leaves a loaded gun out for a six-year old to get their hands on, and he shoots and kills his little brother, the parents can't just blame their kid and say "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." There is a reason why mass shootings happen in the US at a far more frequent pace than they happen in Britain, Canada, or the countries of Western Europe. With the Parkland shooting, someone with known violent tendencies has able to get a hold of an AR-15, a weapon that could kill numerous people in succession without the shooter having to reload. 
Slogans are very tricky. Because there is always a shooter who is morally responsible for the shooting, and the gun, as an inanimate object, is not responsible for the shooting, doesn't mean that there aren't reasonable ways in which we could limit gun availability and save lives. 
If I am homicidally angry and I have no weapon, I could choke someone to death, but that might prove difficult. Even stabbing someone to death with a kitchen knife might take a great deal of effort and be messy. If all I have to do is squeeze a trigger, it is going to be more likely that my homicidal intentions will reach fruition. And this will be so even if it is true that I and not my weapon if I use one, will be morally responsible for the act of homicide. 
Beware of slogans. They are often a substitute for critical thinking. 

It's Whately Time, again

This famous essay using anti-Christian arguments against Napoleon is a classic, and deservedly.

Monday, April 09, 2018

How God's nature is known

Some arguments for God. Here. 

Why are there Jesus skeptics but not Alexander the Great skeptics

Gary Habermas asks here. 

Obama on religious liberty

He does say this about opponents of same-sex marriage: 

I think it’s important to recognize that folks who feel very strongly that marriage should be defined narrowly as between a man and a woman, many of them are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective. They’re coming at it because they care about families. And they have a different understanding, in terms of what the word “marriage” should mean. And a bunch of ’em are friends of mine, pastors and people who I deeply respect.

But figures in his administration have not followed this up with their policy statements and actions,  unfortunately. 

McGrath on the Trilemma

Here.  It is designed to refute the idea that Jesus was a good man but not God, not to prove Jesus's divinity.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Reading assignment

People need to read C. S. Lewis's Meditation on the Third Commandment. Over, and over and over, and over, and over. 

Christianity will make you uncomfortable with the ideology of ANY party. If you are completely comfortable with the ideology of any party as a Christian, you are not thinking clearly.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The bigot-bomb and the 2016 election

By the way, the attempt to, as I call it, bigot-bomb people who believe in and defend traditional marriage by comparing them to Klansmen is one of the things that got Trump elected. Evangelical Christians noticed that Hillary's infamous "deplorables" comment took place at an LGBT gathering. That and some statements by Obama administration officials that trivialized religious freedom issues as merely a cover for discrimination. 

It is one thing to say that we need gay marriage to be fair within a religiously diverse society, but we understand the right and rationality of people to dissent from the idea that gay relationships can ever truly be marriage. It is another to attribute all opposition to bigotry, as something not even deserving of respect in a pluralistic society. 

What puzzles me about all of this is that the Democratic politicians like Obama, Biden, the Clintons, and Kaine, are all Christians. Hillary seems very serious about faith. I know conservatives like to discredit faith claims made by liberals, on the assumption that if they were true believers they wouldn't be pro-choice. But liberals could just as easily counter that they think the faith of conservatives is phony because they support public policies that harm the poor and the needy, something that is all over the Bible. 

If you look at Romans 1 and other passages on homosexuality, it doesn't look good for gay relationships at least on the face of things. 

Now there may be ways of interpreting those passages so that they aren't so bad for homosexuals, or you can say that they reflect a limited understanding of homosexuality from the first century and they are not God's final word on the matter. But you have to admit that if it can be reasonable to be a Christian (I take it all these Democratic politicians think that), then it can also be reasonable, based on what Christians think of a special revelation, that homosexual acts are sinful. Because these arguments are Christian-specific, they might not be an adequate basis for law, but when we separate church and state we leave areas for the church that the state has to keep its hands off. By contrast, no reasonable interpretation of the Bible supports white supremacy. (Curse of Ham? Give me a break). These Democrats are also recent converts to the idea of gay marriage (Hillary says that Chelsea convinced her to accept it), so was she a bigot when she opposed gay marriage? Was her husband a bigot when he signed DOMA? 

This implied bigotry charge against conservative Christians kept a lot of them in the Trump fold when Access Hollywood should have sent them running for the hills. I believe that if the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign had retained a respectful attitude toward opponents of gay marriage, even while disagreeing with those opponents, they evangelical bloc would not have held for Trump and Hillary would be President today.

I stand by my view that the price of electing a corrupt, impulsive, racist such as Trump who has spent a lifetime disrespecting women is too high to make this choice the right one. But I do understand it.