The Qur’an vs. the Bible’s Transmission

This is an addition to the recently discovered oldest piece of a Qur’an manuscript... dating to before Muhammad. Many will ask what the difference is between how the Bible and the Qur’an were “compiled” into the books we read today. Here is a bit of the difference.

This is the quote Dr. Wallace was roughly referring to via Ehrman in the video above:

In the appendix to Misquoting Jesus, added to the paperback version, there is a Q&A section. I do not know who the questioner is, but it is obviously someone affiliated with the editors of the book. Consider this question asked of Ehrman:

  • Bruce Metzger, your mentor in textual criticism to whom this book dedicated, has said that there is nothing in these variants of Scripture that challenges any essential Christian beliefs (e.g., the bodily resurrection of Jesus or the Trinity). Why do you believe these core tenets Of Christian orthodoxy to be in jeopardy based on the scribal errors you discovered in the biblical manuscripts?

Note that the wording of the question is not “Do you believe…” but “Why do you believe these core tenets of Christian orthodoxy to be in jeopardy…?” This is a question that presumably came from someone who read the book very carefully. How does Ehrman respond?

  • The position I argue for in Misquoting Jesus does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.

Suffice it to say that viable textual variants that disturb cardinal doctrines found in the NT have not yet been produced.

Daniel B. Wallace, Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Publications, 2011), 54-55.

The below LARGE excerpt comes from: Daniel B. Wallace, Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Publications, 2011), 34-40.

Ehrman has asserted, “If we have very few early copies—in fact, scarcely any—how can we know that the text was not changed signifi­cantly before the New Testament began to be reproduced in such large quantities?”38 I am not sure what large quantities he is speaking about, since there are more MSS from the third century than there are from the fourth or fifth century.39

But how can we know? It is a legitimate question. There is a way to be relatively confident that the text of the fourth century looked re­markably like the earliest form of the text. P75 has large portions of Luke and John in it—and nothing else. Codex B has most of the NT in it. If B and P75 are very close to each other yet B often has the more primi­tive reading, we can extrapolate that the text of B is pretty decent for the rest of the NT. When it agrees with a MS such as Codex Sinaiticus, which it usually does, that combined reading almost surely goes back to a common archetype from deep in the second century.40

Nevertheless, Ehrman has carefully and ably described the trans­mission of the text. He has detailed how the winners succeeded in conquering all with their views and emerged as the group we might call “orthodox.” What he has said is fairly accurate overall. The only problem is that his is the right analysis but for the wrong religion. Ehrman’s basic argument about theological motives describes Islam far more than Christianity. Recent work on the transmissional history of both the NT and the Qur’an shows this clearly. Consider the following points:

1. Within just a few decades of the writing of the Qur’an, it underwent a strongly controlled, heavy-handed editing, geared toward “or­thodoxy” that weeded out variants that did not conform.

But the NT, as even Ehrman argues, did not suffer this sort of con­trol early on. Instead, Ehrman has often suggested that the earliest de­cades were marked by free, even wild copying.41

2. Calif Uthman was in charge of the earliest segment of this heavy-handed editing of the Qur’an. He systematically gathered up any nonconforming MSS and destroyed them. The originals were destroyed as well.42 Uthman then claimed that his “canonical” text was the exact equivalent of the autographs.

There is no real evidence that inexact copies of the NT were de­stroyed by ecclesiastical authorities.43 Indeed, there is evidence that just the opposite took place: defective or deteriorating copies might be placed in a jar or storage room but not destroyed.44

3. The closest we come to heavy-handed control for NT MSS did not occur until at least the ninth century, long after the major Christological disputes had ended.45 Even then, we do not see defective MSS getting destroyed.

4. One cannot have it both ways; there cannot be wild copying by untrained scribes and a proto-orthodox conspiracy simultaneously producing the same variants. Conspiracy implies control, and wild copying is anything but controlled.

On the one hand, there was uncontrolled copying of MSS in the earliest period, but this was largely restricted to the Western text form.46 On the other hand, there was a strand of early copying that may appear to be controlled. This is the Alexandrian family of MSS. Yet the reason that MSS of this text form look so much like each other is largely be­cause they were in a relatively pure line of transmission.47 There was no conspiracy, just good practices.

5. The reason why Islam has Qur’an MSS that so closely resemble each other is precisely because this was official dogma, there was over­zealous control in the copying of the MSS, and there were severe reper­cussions to any who erred significantly in their scribal duties. All MSS ultimately derived from a single copy—a copy that was not identical to the original text.48

Contrast this with the NT: from the earliest times, the NT was translated into a multitude of languages.49 The transmission of the text was a growing, living thing, not constrained by ecclesiastical controls until long after Christianity became legalized. Even then, we know of nothing like what we see in Islam: scribes not only made plenty of mis­takes, but they even complained in the margins of their manuscripts about the weather, the length of the MS they were copying, the clogging of the ink, and so on.50 This sort of living, hands-on, messy relationship of the scribes to their holy scriptures is unheard of in Islam. In short, the Qur’an copying practices were more related to apologetics, while the NT practices were more related to life.

6. Further, ever since canon was a term meaningfully applied to the NT, there was never a sense that only the Greek MSS were Scripture. To be sure, the Reformation sparked a return to the original languages of the Bible, but the reason was not only purity of the text but clarity in the proclamation of the message. It is no accident that the Reformers were the catalyst for the great European translations of the Bible—translations into the language of the people that could be considered the very Word of God by the average layman. By way of contrast, the only true Qur’an is the Arabic Qur’an. All translations are officially suspect. Thus what Ehrman is describing is right on target but for the wrong religion. He is describing what has occurred in Islam, not in Christianity.

7. What Westcott said over a century ago is relevant to this discussion:

When the Caliph Othman fixed a text of the Koran and destroyed all the old copies which differed from his standard, he provided for the uniformity of subsequent manuscripts at the cost of their historical foundation. A classical text which rests finally on a single archetype is that which is open to the most serious suspicions.51

What we see in the NT copies is absolutely nothing like this. Ehrman tries to make a case for significant theological alterations to the text of the NT by a group that did not have control over the text from the begin­ning, but the historical ingredients for his hypothesis are missing. It is like trying to bake a cake with romaine lettuce and ranch dressing.

As Small points out,

The original NT text (the autographic text-form in Epp’s categories) has been kept remarkably well, and one form of the Qur’an text, a strongly edited one (a canonical text-form in Epp’s words), has been preserved remarkably well. This Qur’anic text form (the one attributed to Uthman though probably a little later—ca. 700 AD) preserves authentic material, but not in the forms in which it was originally used or in the complete collection assembled in writing or orally during Muhammad’s lifetime. Instead, it is a very selective, heavily edited text. In contrast, the NT is not really the product of an official process of intentional editing and so preserves more of the original text within the extant manuscripts. This can be said just on the basis of Islamic tradition concerning the collections attributed to have been made by the companions of Muhammad. In the twenty years after Muhammad’s death until Uthman’s project to standardize the text, these versions were used extensively in other parts of the growing Islamic empire, apparently as authoritative scripture. Some of these are reported to have been in use into the 900’s AD until they were finally suppressed around 934. My research in the manuscripts also demonstrates that the majority of the earliest manuscripts contain this edited text, with the handful of palimpsests pointing to other textual traditions that were successfully suppressed. These palimpsests contain the same variety of textual variants that one can see between the Western and Alexandrian text-types in the NT tradition—showing that there was a period when the Qur’an text was more fluid than the majority of manuscripts and Islamic dogma would lead one to believe. Muslims assume and state that this Uthmanic text was the original text, though even their traditions go against the view. It contains original material, but the original form of that material cannot be reconstructed because Uthman de­stroyed the autographs and had his authoritative version written in a defective script which allowed the growth of competing written versions and oral recitation systems. Their theological view of me­chanical inspiration keeps them from adequately engaging with their own historical sources. What they have done instead is selectively choose reports that they can use to construct a straight line of “per­fect” transmission while ignoring the facts which disagree with the theological construct they want to hold of an eternal book perfectly transmitted. I think Uthman’s version does probably represent the main lines of Muhammad’s teaching, though for political reasons certain parts may have been left out. But we can’t tell for sure be­cause the autographs were destroyed, not that they wore out in use. And the main point to get to in all of this is still that the NT and the Qur’an teach very different things. Also, for whatever integrity one wants to grant to the transmission of the Qur’an, the NT needs to be regarded as having more integrity in its transmission process since there was not such an official editing process after the books were written. In light of all of this, I think Bart Ehrman’s arguments are much more appropriate for the Qur’an because for it there can be demonstrated an official program of textual standardization which was maintained over three centuries, and in some respects to this day.52

Concerning conforming the text to the Medieval standard, though there is a general parallel to this situation to the Qur’an’s, I see it having a fundamental difference, that while the changes to the NT were gradual, relatively late in the history of transmission, and pri­marily for liturgical reasons and to improve the style, the Qur’an’s form of the consonantal text was determined and maintained from very early on (within 30-70 years after Muhammad’s death) for rea­sons which had a large ideological/dogmatic component at the outset, and then that form was further shaped and developed with diacritics and vowels to maintain and serve various agendas during the next 200 years until the Sunnis came out on top politically in the 900’s and were able to canonize their version of the text.53

In another respect, when Ehrman discusses whether God has preserved the text of the NT, he places on the NT transmissional process some rather unrealistic demands—demands that Islam tradi­tionally claims for itself with respect to the Qur’an but that no bona fide Christian scholar would ever claim was true of the NT MSS. As is well known, most Muslims claim that the Qur’an has been transmitted perfectly, that all copies are exactly alike. This is what Ehrman demands of the NT text if God has inspired it. Methodologically, he did not abandon the evangelical faith; he abandoned a faith that in its biblio-logical constructs is what most Muslims claim for their sacred text. Or as C. S. Lewis put it,

The moment [the miracle] enters [nature’s] realm, it obeys all her laws. Miraculous wine will intoxicate, miraculous conception will lead to pregnancy, inspired books will suffer all the ordinary processes of tex­tual corruption, miraculous bread will be digested.54

To sum up the evidence on the number of variants, there are a lot of variants because there are a lot of manuscripts. Even in the early centuries, the text of the NT is found in a sufficient number of MSS, versions, and writings of the church fathers to give us the essentials of the original text.


 Footnotes


38) Lost Christianities, 219.

39) The next line, however, suggests that he is speaking about medieval MSS: “Most surviving copies were made during the Middle Ages, many of them a thousand years after Paul and his companions had died” (ibid.). The juxtaposition of this sen­tence with the one questioning whether we can know how significant the changes were prior to this time is, at best, misleading. Ehrman would acknowledge, as would most textual critics, that the MSS produced in the Middle Ages are hardly our most reliable witnesses to the NT text and that we have several sufficient wit­nesses prior to that time on which to reconstruct the wording of the earliest form of the text.

40) Cf., e.g., Metzger and Ehrman, Text of the New Testament, 277-78, 312. Hort believed that when K and B agreed, their reading went back to a very ancient common ancestor. That it was not a near ancestor was demonstrated by the thousands of disagreements between these two manuscripts, suggesting that there were several intermediaries between the common ancestor and these two majuscule docu­ments (B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek, vol. 2, Introduction [and] Appendix [Cambridge: Macmillan, 1882], 212-50). Cf. also Metzger and Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament, 312: “With the discovery . .. of T66 and P75, both dating from about the end of the second or the beginning of the third century, proof became now available that Hort’s Neutral text goes back to an archetype that must be put early in the second century.”

41) Cf., e.g., Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, 124. I will discuss the nature of the early copying soon enough, but for now I simply point out that according to Ehrman, there was extensive uncontrolled copying of the NT in the earliest period.

42) Ehrman opines that perhaps the NT autographs were destroyed. Not only is there no evidence that this was the case, there is second-century evidence that the auto­graphs would have been revered.

43) See nn. 34 and 44 for discussion.

44) Colin H. Roberts (Manuscript, Society, and Belief in Early Christian Egypt [London: Oxford University Press, 1979], 6-8) gives ample evidence that early Christians took over the practice of Jews to “dispose of defective, worn-out, or heretical scriptures by burying them near a cemetery, not to preserve them but be­cause anything that might contain the name of God might not be destroyed” (ibid., 7). He was dealing with the earliest period of Christian copying but noted that the Nag Hammadi MSS (“outside our period”) seem to fit this pattern as well. In ad­dition, he cited the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Chester Beatty papyri, as well as several other examples. In more modern times, it is noteworthy to mention the New Finds manuscripts at St. Catherine’s Monastery of Mt. Sinai. Discovered in 1975, quite by accident, was a geniza that housed about 1,200 manuscripts and 50,000 frag­ments of manuscripts. The latest date of any of the MSS was from the eighteenth century; the earliest was the fourth century (about two dozen leaves or fragments from Codex Sinaiticus). Among the less orthodox MSS were the Protevangelium of James and the Assumption of the Virgin. When I visited the monastery in Sep­tember 2002, Archbishop Damianos expressed surprise to me that the Protevan-gelium was among the New Finds manuscripts. I discovered the Assumption of the Virgin inside the Protevangelium, occupying a new quire.

What the New Finds illustrate is that the practice of burying MSS at Mt. Sinai was taking place after the eighteenth century and sufficiently prior to modern times to have been forgotten by the monks. After Tischendorf’s last visit in 1859, the monastery became increasingly flooded with visitors. This suggests that the geniza was filled prior to this time. And the fact that leaves from Sinaiticus were buried there—both from the Pentateuch and from the Apostolic Fathers (i.e., the outer leaves of the codex, which would be most prone to be loosed from the book)—may imply that Tischendorf was mistaken when he said that the monks were burning leaves of this codex. For our purposes, it is enough to note that the normative practice of ancient Christians, even perhaps to modern times, was to bury or hide sacred texts rather than destroy them.

45) T. J. Ralston (“The Majority Text and Byzantine Texttype Development: The Sig­nificance of a Non-Parametric Method of Data Analysis for the Exploration of Manuscript Traditions” [PhD diss., Dallas Seminary, 1994]) notes (in agreement with von Soden’s assessment) that there was a large editorial push by at least one scriptorium in the ninth and eleventh centuries, resulting in carefully produced copies that were very close to each other.

46) It is not entirely insignificant that Ehrman’s preferred reading in several places that seem to impact Christology is found in the Western text (e.g., Luke 3.22; John 20.28). The burden of proof certainly rests with the one who would argue that such a textual tradition has the original wording when the carefully copied tradition of Alexandria does not. He admits that the Western text is less likely to preserve the best reading when it lacks support of the Alexandrian witnesses (Misquoting Jesus, 131). I do agree with Ehrman in at least one Western reading, however. But ὀργισθείς in Mark 1.41 has compelling internal evidence in its favor.

47) Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, 131.

48) This is not at all what the NT transmission was like. See the following discussion of the work of Uthman in canonizing the Qur’an by starting with his own MS as the progenitor of all that would follow. Ehrman speculates, without a shred of evi­dence, that this same phenomenon occurred for NT books: “[W]hat if only one of the copies served as the copy from which all subsequent copies were made…?” (Misquoting Jesus, 59).

49) Keith Small, a scholar in the United Kingdom who has recently completed his doc­toral thesis on a comparison of the NT textual transmission and the Qur’an textual transmission (“Mapping a New Country: Textual Criticism and Qur’an Manu­scripts” [London School of Theology, 2008]), noted in an email on March 25, 2008, “There was not a program of translation to spread Islam through having people read the Qur’an, like there was with the Christian Scriptures. Though one early jurist, Abu Hanifah (d. AD 767), did rule that a person could recite a vernacular translation in their prayers, he also is said to have retracted that ruling. The earliest extant translation I know of is one done into Persian about AD 956 (Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, World Bibliography of Translations of the Meanings of the Holy Qur’an, Printed Translations 1515-1980 [Istanbul: Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture], xxiii).”

50) See Metzger and Ehrman, Text of the New Testament, 29, for illustrations. Having this sort of marginal note in the Qur’an is unheard of. But some of the marginal notes in the NT MSS are rather impious, showing that the copying was meant more for the masses than for apologetic reasons.

51) Brooke Foss Westcott, Some Lessons of the Revised Version of the New Testament, 2nd ed. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1897), 8-9 (italics added). Credit is due to Keith Small for pointing this reference out to me.

52) Email from Keith Small, Mar. 11 2008,

53) Email from Keith Small, Dec. 30, 2007. For an excellent survey on the transmission of the Qur’an, see now Keith E. Small, Textual Criticism and Qur’an Manuscripts (Idaho Falls, Idaho: Lexingon, 2011).

54) C. S. Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study, 1st Touchstone ed. (New York: Touch­stone, 1996) 95 (italics added).

“This will be a revolution in studying Islam” ~ Oldest Qur’an Found

This post is an important part of this post detailing the differences in how the Bible and Qur’an were transmitted.

(Via Jihad Watch) “This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Quran’s genesis, like that Muhammad and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Muhammad receiving a revelation from Heaven.” Or that others later used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda — which is what I argue in my book Did Muhammad Exist?.

(Via The Telegraph) …The Prophet Muhammad is thought to have founded Islam sometime after 610AD and the first Muslim community was founded in Medina in 622AD.

During this time the Koran was memorised and recited orally but Caliph Abu Bakr, the first leader of the Muslim community after Muhammad’s death, ordered the Koranic material to be collected into a book.

The final authoritative written form was not completed until 650AD under the third leader Caliph Uthman.

Professor Nadir Dinshaw, who studies interreligious relations at the University of Birmingham, described the discovery as ‘startling’.

When it was found last month he said: ‘This could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam.

‘According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Qur’an, the scripture of Islam, between the years AD 610 and 632, the year of his death.

‘At this time, the divine message was not compiled into the book form in which it appears today. Instead, the revelations were preserved in ‘the memories of men’…

Prior to this new find, this fragment was the oldest:

(Via Breitbart) …Some academics now say that the impact of the text could be comparable to finding a copy of the Gospels dating back to before the time of Christ.

Historian Tom Holland told the Sunday Times that evidence was now mounting that traditional accounts of Islam’s origins are wrong.

“It destabilises, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Koran emerged — and that in turn has implications for the historicity of Muhammad and the Companions [his followers],” he said.

Other very old Korans also seem to confirm that written texts were circulating before Mohammed’s death.

Needless to say, Muslim academics have disputed the claims. Mustafa Shah of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) said: “If anything, the manuscript has consolidated traditional accounts of the Koran’s origins.”

[….]

“If the [carbon] dates apply to the parchment and the ink, and the dates across the entire range apply, then the Koran — or at least portions of it — pre-dates Muhammad, and moves back the years that an Arabic literary culture is in place well into the 500s.

“This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Koran’s genesis, like that Muhammad and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Muhammad receiving a revelation from heaven.

“This would radically alter the edifice of Islamic tradition and the history of the rise of Islam in late Near Eastern antiquity would have to be completely revised, somehow accounting for another book of scripture coming into existence 50 to 100 years before, and then also explaining how this was co-opted into what became the entity of Islam by around AD700.”

Republicans Reject Trump’s Religious Test ~ Rightly So

In Starbucks I overheard a conversation mentioning Republicans not saying much against Trump’s position of a religious test for people coming into the U.S. I wanted to post some audio of Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina (from the Michael Medved Show) where they very clearly and strongly deny Trumps position. In fact, as of today, ALL the other Republican Presidential candidates have come out against Trump on this issue.

What Trump has right is that we can (and have) stopped immigration at times from countries… but what he has wrong is that we cannot [Constitutionally] ban people entry from the world who are Muslim. You could stop immigration (all immigration) Constitutionally from, say, Syria and Pakistan… but not, as Medved points out, from Saudi Arabi — who are our “allies.” Here is that audio that includes some challenging phone calls. Take note Zuhdi Jasser was the guest during this hour:

Bible Calls U.S. To Guard Muslims From “Global Warming” ~ Kerry

“…you can see this duty, or responsibility, laid out in scriptures clearly…” (Truth Revolt)

Via One News Now

Already under fire for many of his anti-Christian and pro-Muslim sentiments expressed during his relatively short time in serving under the Obama administration, United States Secretary of State John Kerry made another fairly recent assertion that has many Christians up in arms, as he attempted to interpret Scriptures to say that America is commanded by the Bible to protect the Muslim world from “global warming.”

[….]

America’s chief foreign diplomat contended that both religions scripturally share a common bond to the environment, asserting that because most Muslim countries are “vulnerable” to the effects of “climate change,” the United States is obligated to safeguard them by implementing green policies to protect them from the so-called effects of pollutants.

“Our faiths are inextricably linked on any number of things that we must confront and deal with in policy concepts today,” Kerry proclaimed late last year, according to Freedom Outpost. “Our faiths are inextricably linked on the environment. For many of us, respect for God’s creation also translates into a duty to protect and sustain His first Creation, Earth, the planet.”

Staying true to much of the environmentalist messaging and rhetoric used to promote the green movement’s endorsement of global warming-based policies and industries, Kerry used the Book of Genesis to imply that “Mother Earth” and nature should come before man.

“Before God created man He created Heaven and Earth,” Kerry stressed at the ceremony.

Fighting the greatest threat to humanity?

Kerry argues that fighting the highly contested global warming is perhaps the biggest threat to the world — and he attempted to use the Bible to prove his point, commanding America to use green technology and policies to “aid” Islamic nations.

“Confronting climate change is, in the long run, one of the greatest challenges that we face, and you can see this duty or responsibility laid out in Scriptures, clearly, beginning in Genesis,” Kerry insisted. “And Muslim-majority countries are among the most vulnerable. Our response to this challenge ought to be rooted in a sense of stewardship of Earth. And for me and for many of us here today, that responsibility comes from God.”

Islam’s Golden Age vs. Christian Medieval Science

Here is the excerpt from Dr. Chapman’s book:

Christianities Advancement vs. Islam’s Stalling

…But what I would argue is that science entered early Christian and medieval Europe by a process of cultural osmosis. For one of the formative and enduring features of Christianity, from the AD 30s and 40s onwards, was its social and cultural flexibility. One did not have to belong to any given racial or cultural group, wear any approved style of clothing, cut one’s beard in a prescribed way, speak a special holy language, or follow essential rituals to be a Christian. Women in particular, amazingly, considering their limited social role in antiquity, were drawn to Christianity in large numbers, as the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles make clear, where they are shown as openly expressing their views. They were even the original witnesses of the resurrection, while St Paul’s first European convert was Lydia of Thyatira, a Greek merchant woman.

In fact Christianity moved into the pre-existing social, legal and administrative structures of Greco-Roman paganism, as Greek civic virtue became infused with Judeo-Christian charity. Roman legal objectivity absorbed key aspects of the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes to create a concept of social justice; even the modes of dress of late Roman officials became the vestments of Christian priests; while words like “bishop” and “diocese” derived from classical administrative sources. Christianity, instead of overthrowing the genius of Greece and Rome, simply absorbed its best practical components, and allied them with the teachings of Jesus. The law codes of Christendom, moreover, came to develop non-theological components. The circuit judge system set up by King Henry II in the twelfth century, for instance, might have carried resonances of the assistant judges of Israel appointed by Moses in Exodus, or the judgment towns visited by the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel, but in practice it administered a new, practical English “Common Law”, and the judges often sat with that innovation of the age, a twelve-man lay jury.

This is how medieval students in Oxford, Paris, Bologna, or Salamanca came to study the pagan philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, the classical Latin poetry of Virgil, and the humane ethics of Cicero along with the Gospels. And very important for the rise of a civil society in which there was an acknowledged saeculum or non-theological exclusivity, the law students at the medieval Inns of Court in London, then as today, learned a pragmatic, case-based evolving civil law that was not especially theological in its foundation. For medieval Christendom was open to non-Christian ideas, provided that they could be reconciled in their broader principles with Christianity.

Exactly the same thing happened with science. The astronomy of Ptolemy, the physics of Aristotle, and the medicine of Hippocrates became part of the curriculum in Europe’s great new universities by 1250. Indeed, it was generally accepted that many honest pagans had glimpsed key truths of God’s creation, and who could blame the wise Socrates and Aristotle if they happened to have been born 400 years before Jesus, for their wisdom and honest contributions to learning were beyond question. This is how ancient science came to slide effortlessly into the Christian world, for it was useful for making calendars, treating diseases, and explaining the physical nature of things from the facts then available.

But, you might ask, when talking about science and Christendom, what happened in monotheistic Islam? It is an evident fact of history that, after its initial military conquests in the century after AD 622, Muslim scholars in Baghdad, Cairo, and southern Spain encountered the scientific and medical writings of the Greeks, which they translated into Arabic. And amidst a galaxy of figures such as Ibn Jabir in chemistry, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) in medicine, Ibn Tusi in astronomy, and Al-Haythem (Alhazen) in optics, Arabic science took the Greek scientific tradition further, research-wise, than anyone in Europe over the centuries AD 800-1200. But then, due to a variety of factors embedded within Islamic culture, it stalled and came to a standstill, especially after their last great scientist, the astronomer Ulugh Beigh of Samarkand, was murdered, it was said, by one of his own sons in 1449.

There has been much discussion among scholars as to why Islamic science declined as an intellectual and technical force, and why Christian Europe after 1200 developed a momentum which absorbed — with full acknowledgment — the achievements of the great Muslim scholars and scientists, and accelerated in an unbroken line of development down to the present day. For Islam, just like Judaism and Christianity, is a monotheistic faith, seeing the God of Abraham as the original and only creative force behind the universe. So why did the Islamic monotheistic tradition stall scientifically, while the Judeo-Christian tradition flourished? I think much has to do with a broader receptivity to classical Greco-Roman culture.

As was shown above, Christianity grew directly out of a combination of Judaism and wider Greco-Roman culture. Jesus the man was incarnated as a Jewish rabbi who preached in vernacular Aramaic and could read Hebrew, yet whose teachings, not to mention the commentaries of his disciples, were committed to posterity in Greek and, somewhat later, in Latin. The Jesus of the Gospels, moreover, respected Caesar, the Roman state and its officials; and his disciples even held an election to decide whether Barnabas or Matthias should be co-opted into the Twelve after Judas’s treachery; while St Paul, a Jewish native of the Hellenized “university town” of Tarsus in Cilicia (now Turkey), argued like a Socratic philosopher in his letters and was deeply proud of being a hereditary Roman citizen. Islam, on the other hand, came about in a very different way. The Prophet Mohammed’s roots lay in the essentially tribal society of the seventh-century-AD Arabian peninsula, east of the Red Sea. Tribal custom and not Greco-Roman “civic virtue” moulded its social and cultural practices, and Islam’s lack of a theology of free grace and atonement gave emphasis to an internal legalism that could all too easily generate centuries long sectarian disputes, such as those between the Shi’ites and the Sunnis. And while I fully admit that Christendom has had its own spasms of internal violent reprisal, most recently witnessed in the Troubles in Northern Ireland, I would suggest that Christendom’s classically derived constitutional, negotiated, approach to politics has always provided mechanisms for containment and reconciliation. This has been seen most notably in the active cooperation between the Roman Catholic and Protestant mainstreams, often on an overtly religious level, although splinter groups can remain active until changes in public attitudes eventually render them obsolete.

Islam took from Greco-Roman culture what it found useful in the territories it conquered. These included Greek astronomy, optics, medicine, chemistry, and technology, each of which it amplified and expanded, producing major treatises, often based upon freshly accumulated and carefully classified observational data. Chemistry came to owe an enormous debt to Arabic researchers, as would astronomical, medical, and botanical nomenclature. Indeed, well over a dozen major Arabic works made their way into Europe, where they were translated into Latin, influencing figures like Bishop Robert Grosseteste and Friar Roger Bacon of Oxford, and began to be widely studied in detail in the post-1100 European universities. (On the other hand, I am not aware of the foundational works of European science, such as those of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Vesalius, or Harvey, being translated into Arabic until recent times.) And among other things, that astronomical computing instrument known as the astrolabe, upon which the poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the first technical “workshop manual” in the English language around 1381, was a sophisticated Arabic development of a device first outlined by Ptolemy in the second century AD.

Yet while Greek ideas were profoundly formative upon Arabic concepts of the natural world, Islam did not absorb other key ideas of Greek and Roman culture which would become formative to Christian Europe. Greek democratic political ideals, “civic virtue”, and legal monogamy (divorce and mistresses notwithstanding) never became an integral part of Islam as they did of Christendom. Nor did the descent of kingship through holy anointing, which began with Samuel, Saul, and David in 1 Samuel in the Old Testament and entered early Christian kingship practices as the act of coronation, and is still enshrined in the person of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

It is for these reasons, I would argue, that modern science is a child of Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman parentage, and why I speak of Western science as becoming the dominant style of thinking about the natural world and humanity’s inquisitive relationship with it. Indeed, it is not just about the science and technology, but about the social, intellectual, and cultural assumptions and practices in which modern science is embedded. The very institutions within which science has grown up over the last 900 years, moreover, testify to this inheritance: universities with enduring corporate structures borrowed from Greek and Roman linguistic and civic practice; learned societies — such as the Royal Society of London after 1660 — which were self-electing, self-governing bodies modelled on the “collegiate”, “civic virtue” style Oxford and Cambridge colleges; and rich, free-trading merchant-driven cities such as London, Florence, Venice, Nuremberg, Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg.

As will be shown in more detail in the following chapters, historical Christianity has never been rigidly literalistic in its interpretation of the physical world of Scripture, and it is that very flexibility that has made the faith so versatile and adaptive in its social expression over 2,000 years. A faith that made its first utterance among Aramaic-speaking fishermen and farmers around Galilee (occupying a land surface area no bigger than modern Birmingham), quickly went on to enchant Greek-writing scholars, led to the conversion of the Roman Empire, encompassed people between Mesopotamia, Spain, Britannia, and Ethiopia by AD 600, would inspire the new Latin-speaking universities of Europe by 1200, would engraft onto itself the science, philosophy, legal and social practices of the high classical Mediterranean, would explore possible connections between the teachings of Jesus and the writings of Plato and Virgil, and whose Scriptures would be translated into the vernacular languages of Europe by 1550. Christianity would then go on to inspire the natural theology of the Royal Society Fellows, be the driving force behind the abolition of slavery, supply the moral and spiritual tools that constitute the best and noblest aspects of what we now call “human rights” — and become the prime target for some of the bitterest abuse that many twenty-first-century sceptics feel compelled to heap upon religious belief (and I have heard a good deal of that at first hand!).

Indeed, considering the magnitude of Christianity’s moulding influence upon Western civilization, and its provision of that rich soil in which post-classical science could flourish and grow, it is hardly surprising that, in this imperfect world, it has detractors…

Allan Chapman, Slaying the Dragons: Destroying the Myths in the History of Science and Faith (Oxford, England: Lion Publishing, 2013), 18-23.

ISLAM’s “Golden Age” revisited

The Golden Age of Islam – A Second Look

…Victor Davis Hanson has taken down Obama’s version of the Golden age of Islam:

In his speech last week in Cairo, President Obama proclaimed he was a “student of history.” But despite Mr. Obama’s image as an Ivy League-educated intellectual, he lacks historical competency in both facts and interpretation. … Obama … claimed that “Islam . . . carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.” [In fact] medieval Islamic culture … had little to do with the European rediscovery of classical Greek and Latin values. Europeans, Chinese, and Hindus, not Muslims, invented most of the breakthroughs Obama credited to Islamic innovation. … Much of the Renaissance, in fact, was more predicated on the centuries-long flight of Greek-speaking Byzantine scholars from Constantinople to Western Europe to escape the aggression of Islamic Turks. Many romantic thinkers of the Enlightenment sought to extend freedom to oppressed subjects of Muslim fundamentalist rule in eastern and southern Europe.

Andrew Bostom has skewered the myth that Cordoba was a model of ecumenism:

Expanding upon Jane Gerber’s thesis about the “garish” myth of a “Golden Age,” the late Richard Fletcher (in his Moorish Spain) offered a fair assessment of interfaith relationships in Muslim Spain and his view of additional contemporary currents responsible for obfuscating that history:

The witness of those who lived through the horrors of the Berber conquest, of the Andalusian fitnah [ordeal] in the early eleventh century, of the Almoravid invasion — to mention only a few disruptive episodes — must give it [i.e.: the roseate view of Muslim Spain] the lie.

The simple and verifiable historical truth is that Moorish Spain was more often a land of turmoil than it was of tranquility. … Tolerance? Ask the Jews of Granada who were massacred in 1066, or the Christians who were deported by the Almoravids to Morocco in 1126 (like the Moriscos five centuries later). … In the second half of the twentieth century a new agent of obfuscation makes its appearance: the guilt of the liberal conscience, which sees the evils of colonialism — assumed rather than demonstrated — foreshadowed in the Christian conquest of al-Andalus and the persecution of the Moriscos (but not, oddly, in the Moorish conquest and colonization). Stir the mix well and issue it free to credulous academics and media persons throughout the Western world. Then pour it generously over the truth … in the cultural conditions that prevail in the West today, the past has to be marketed, and to be successfully marketed, it has to be attractively packaged. Medieval Spain in a state of nature lacks wide appeal. Self-indulgent fantasies of glamour … do wonders for sharpening its image. But Moorish Spain was not a tolerant and enlightened society even in its most cultivated epoch.

Serge Trifkovic also has a general take-down of the overblown account of the accomplishments and comity of the Islamic Golden Age in his FrontPage article, The Golden Age of Islam is a Myth.

And now we have Emmet Scott, in a soon to be released study, Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited: An Introduction to the History of a Controversy, advancing the thesis that Rather than preserving the Classical heritage, the expanding Islamic empire destroyed it and brought about the Dark Ages.

Armed with new archaeological evidence, Scott makes the compelling case, originally put forward in 1920 by Henri Pirenne, a Belgian historian, that Classical civilization did not collapse after the fall of the Roman empire but was gradually attrited by the onslaught of Arab armies and raiders. The Islamic Golden Age came close to permanently destroying the classical humanistic culture of the West.

Hanson has pointed out the factual errors in Obama’s paean to Islam’s Golden Age. Andrew Bostom has skewered the myth that Cordoba was a model of ecumenism Trikovic has shown that the continuation of learning, science, technology of the “Golden age of Islam” prospered in spite of Islam and not because of Islam and now we have Emmet Scott skewering the myth that the Golden Age of Islam saved Classical humanistic Western culture. What is next? The glory of Sharia?

…read it all…

See also my past posts on the topic:

“First Things” Exemplifies Modern Man’s “Red Herring”

... LAWS!

  • Newton is a leading contributor to the scientific worldview, and yet he does not bind himself by the assumption of uninterruptible natural law ~ Bradley Monton
  • The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern to which events conform but of feeding new events into that pattern ~ CS Lewis
  • Meredith’s whole argument about ID, miracles, and the so-called “breaking” of natural laws is nothing but a red herring. Again, the real issue is about the nature of causation not about natural law ~ Michael Flannery

In the most recent issue of First Things (February 2014), Stephen Meredith attempted to critique Intelligent Design theory, by, essentially creating straw-men arguments or by debating issues others have dealt with well.

Later in this “short” review of topics that caught my critical eye, we will see the similar vein John Derbyshire takes in the January/February (2014) issue of The American Spectator in comparing ID to Islam.

AT LEAST American Spectator had the foresight to have an alternative view side-by-side, so you get to see what an erudite, idea filled presentation looks like (Stephen Meyer’s)…

— a portion of which I will publish at the bottom from a magazine I recommend highly

…alongside another filled with fallacious arguments, non-sequiturs, and a lack of intelligence in laying out a positive case (John Derbyshire).

First, however, my mind went immediately to David Hume and CS Lewis after reading the following from Stephen Meredith in the First Things article:

If God is omnipotent—that is, can do all that is possible without self-contradiction—what is the re­lationship between God and causality? Is there any causality outside an omnipotent God? Or is anything in nature that seems to act as an efficient cause only carrying out the causality of God, with no agency of its own? These questions get to the heart of a philosophical problem posed by Intelligent Design: It supposes that natural law, which is the basis for science, operates most of the time but is periodically suspended, as in the Cambrian “explosion” and the origin of life itself.

As well as reading John Derbyshire in the American Spectator article:

…IT IS THE religious aspect that causes most scientists to shy away from ID. Not that scientists all hate God. Many of them are devout.…

…The metaphysics of ID is occasionalist. It holds, to abbreviate the doctrine rather drasti­cally, that causation is an illusion; that every­thing happens because God makes it happen.

Why does ice float on water? Aristotle thought it was a matter of shape (see On the Heavens, IV.6). Science says it’s because ice is less dense than water. The occasionalist says it’s because God wills it so….

…But: Ice floats on water because God wills it so? Oh.

This straw-man built up by Mr. Derbyshire seems likewise heavily influenced by Hume, who said in his well known essay entitled, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, the following:

“A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience as can be imagined  … It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle that a dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed, in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation.”

(David Hume: The Essential Philosophical Works, eBook, [2012], pages 662 and 663)

John Lennox breaks down Hume’s argument thus:

A. Argument from the uniformity of nature:

1. Miracles are violations of the laws of nature
2. These laws have been established by ‘firm and unalterable’ experience
3. Therefore, the argument against miracle is as good as any argument from experience can be

B.  Argument from the uniformity of experience:

1. Unusual, yet frequently observed, events are not miracles – like a healthy person suddenly dropping dead
2. A resurrection would be a miracle because it has never been observed anywhere at any time
3. There is uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise it would not be called miraculous

Dr. Lennox continues:

Are miracles ‘violations of the laws of nature’

Argument 1.    Hume says that accounts of miracles ‘are observed chiefly to abound among ignorant and barbarous nations’ (op.cit. p.79).

Fallacy. In order to recognise some event as a miracle, there must be some perceived regularity to which that event is an apparent exception! You cannot recognise something which is abnormal, if you do not know what is normal. Example: 1) virgin conception of Jesus; 2) conception of John the Baptist.

Argument 2.    Now that we know the laws of nature, belief in miracles is impossible.

Fallacy. The danger of confusion between legal and scientific use of word law. Why it is inaccurate and misleading to say that miracles ‘violate’ the laws of nature. It is rather, that God feeds new events into the system from time to time. There is no alteration to or suspension of the laws themselves.   

‘If God annihilates or creates or deflects a unit of matter, He has created a new situation at that point.  Immediately all nature domiciles this new situation, makes it at home in her realm, adapts all other events to it. It finds itself conforming to all the laws. If God creates a miraculous spermatozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take over. Nature is ready. Pregnancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later a child is born’ (C.S Lewis, Miracles. p.63).

Continuing with CS Lewis and his relating to us this “red herring” of naturalism in rejecting the miraculous/metaphysical aspects of reality:

The first Red Herring is this. Any day you may hear a man (and not necessarily a disbeliever in God) say of some alleged miracle, “No. Of course I don’t believe that. We know it is contrary to the laws of Nature. People could believe it in olden times because they didn’t know the laws of Nature. We know now that it is a scientific impossibility.”

By the “laws of Nature” such a man means, I think, the ob­served course of Nature. If he means anything more than that he is not the plain man I take him for but a philosophic Natu­ralist and will be dealt with in the next chapter. The man I have in view believes that mere experience (and specially those artificially contrived experiences which we call Exper­iments) can tell us what regularly happens in Nature. And he finks that what we have discovered excludes the possibility of Miracle. This is a confusion of mind.

Granted that miracles can occur, it is, of course, for experi­ence to say whether one has done so on any given occasion. But mere experience, even if prolonged for a million years, cannot tell us whether the thing is possible. Experiment finds out what regularly happens in Nature: the norm or rule to which she works. Those who believe in miracles are not deny­ing that there is such a norm or rule: they are only saying that it can be suspended. A miracle is by definition an exception.

[….]

The idea that the progress of science has somehow altered this question is closely bound up with the idea that people “in olden times” believed in them “because they didn’t know the laws of Nature.” Thus you will hear people say, “The early Christians believed that Christ was the son of a virgin, but we know that this is a scientific impossibility.” Such people seem to have an idea that belief in miracles arose at a period when men were so ignorant of the cause of nature that they did not perceive a miracle to be contrary to it. A moment’s thought shows this to be nonsense: and the story of the Virgin Birth is a particularly striking example. When St. Joseph discovered that his fiancee was going to have a baby, he not unnaturally decided to repudiate her. Why? Because he knew just as well as any modern gynaecologist that in the ordinary course of na­ture women do not have babies unless they have lain with men. No doubt the modern gynaecologist knows several things about birth and begetting which St. Joseph did not know. But those things do not concern the main point—that a virgin birth is contrary to the course of nature. And St. Joseph obviously knew that. In any sense in which it is true to say now, “The thing is scientifically impossible,” he would have said the same: the thing always was, and was always known to be, impossible unless the regular processes of nature were, in this particular case, being over-ruled or supple­mented by something from beyond nature. When St. Joseph finally accepted the view that his fiancee’s pregnancy was due not to unchastity but to a miracle, he accepted the miracle as something contrary to the known order of nature. All records

[….]

It is therefore inaccurate to define a miracle as something that breaks the laws of Nature. It doesn’t. If I knock out my pipe I alter the position of a great many atoms: in the long run, and to an infinitesimal degree, of all the atoms there are. Nature digests or assimilates this event with perfect ease and harmonises it in a twinkling with all other events. It is one more bit of raw material for the laws to apply to, and they ap­ply. I have simply thrown one event into the general cataract of events and it finds itself at home there and conforms to all other events. If God annihilates or creates or deflects a unit of matter He has created a new situation at that point. Imme­diately all Nature domiciles this new situation, makes it at home in her realm, adapts all other events to it. It finds itself conforming to all the laws. If God creates a miraculous sper­matozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take it over. Nature is ready. Preg­nancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later a child is born. We see every day that physical nature is not in the least incommoded by the daily inrush of events from biological nature or from psychological nature. If events ever come from beyond Nature altogether, she will be no more incommoded by them. Be sure she will rush to the point where she is invaded, as the defensive forces rush to a cut in our finger, and there hasten to accommodate the new­comer. The moment it enters her realm it obeys all her laws. Miraculous wine will intoxicate, miraculous conception will lead to pregnancy, inspired books will suffer all the ordinary processes of textual corruption, miraculous bread will be di­gested. The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern to which events conform but of feeding new events into that pattern.

[….]

A miracle is emphatically not an event without cause or without results. Its cause is the activity of God: its results fol­low according to Natural law. In the forward direction (i.e. during the time which follows its occurrence) it is interlocked with all Nature just like any other event. Its peculiarity is that it is not in that way interlocked backwards, interlocked with the previous history of Nature. And this is just what some people find intolerable. The reason they find it intolerable is that they start by taking Nature to be the whole of reality. And they are sure that all reality must be interrelated and consistent. I agree with them. But I think they have mistaken a partial system within reality, namely Nature, for the whole.

CS Lewis, Miracles (New York, NY: Touchstone Publishers, 1996), 62-63, 64-65, 80-81, 81-82.

This is mainly the point Michael Flannery makes near the end of this portion of his critique of the First Things article, entitled: “Writing in First Things, Stephen Meredith Offers Confusion in the Guise of Critique“:

…He [Stephen Meredith]  has

1) a faulty view of ID’s relationship to nature, miracles, and the supernatural;

2) no clear definition of what ID really is; and

3) an erroneous view of much of the history related to ID, evolution, and theology.

In company with John Derbyshire, Meredith, insists that ID proponents are “occasionalists,” holding to a particular theological understanding of causation. As occasionalists they do “not credit natural or physical law with enough causal power to enact evolution on its own.” Instead they “educe supernatural causes to do most of the heavy lifting in worldly events.” This is a fundamental misunderstanding. ID does not require the “breaking” of natural law or the notion that a natural law would have done X but instead Y happened. As William A. Dembski has pointed out, ID doesn’t need this “counterfactual substitution.” People act, for example, as intelligent agents not by “breaking” or “suspending” natural laws but by arranging or front-loading laws to suite particular ends (The Design Revolution, pp. 181-182). Meredith seems to argue that ID is incongruous with modern science because it invokes miracles and yields to supernatural causes. Here Meredith is making an old mistake, called out again by Dembski: “The contrast between natural law and supernatural causes is the wrong contrast. The proper contrast is between undirected natural causes on the one hand and intelligent causes on the other” (p. 189).

Furthermore, Meredith’s concern regarding miracles contravening natural laws seems to suggest a position of tension between the miraculous and science itself. However, this is not a scientific position. It is a philosophical one suggestive of methodological naturalism. “Scientists, as scientists,” Norman Geisler explains, “need not be so narrow as to believe that nothing can ever count as a miracle. All a scientist needs to hold is the premise that every event has a cause and that the observable universe operates in an orderly way” (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, p. 467). Meredith’s whole argument about ID, miracles, and the so-called “breaking” of natural laws is nothing but a red herring. Again, the real issue is about the nature of causation not about natural law

Even atheist philosophers refute the idea that to incorporate a theistic view into nature is NOT anti-science, and works within the scientific paradigm:

FOLLOWING SUPERNATURALISM MAKES THE SCIENTIST’S TASK TOO EASY

Here’s the first of Pennock’s arguments against methodological naturalism that I’ll consider:

allowing appeal to supernatural powers in science would make the scientist’s task too easy, because one would always be able to call upon the gods for quick theoretical assistance…. Indeed, all empirical investigation beyond the purely descriptive could cease, for scientists would have a ready-made answer for everything.

This argument strikes me as unfair. Consider a particular empirical phenomenon, like a chemical reaction, and imagine that scientists are trying to figure out why the reaction happened. Pennock would say that scientists who allow appeal to supernatural powers would have a ready-made answer: God did it. While it may be that that’s the only true explanation that can be given, a good scientist-including a good theistic scientist—would wonder whether there’s more to be said. Even if God were ultimately the cause of the reaction, one would still wonder if the proximate cause is a result of the chemicals that went into the reaction, and a good scientist—even a good theistic scientist—would investigate whether such a naturalistic account could be given.

To drive the point home, an analogy might be helpful. With the advent of quantum mechanics, scientists have become comfortable with indeterministic events. For example, when asked why a particular radioactive atom decayed at the exact time that it did, most physicists would say that there’s no reason it decayed at that particular time; it was just an indeterministic event!’ One could imagine an opponent of indeterminism giving an argument that’s analogous to Pennock’s:

allowing appeal to indeterministic processes in science would make the scientist’s task too easy, because one would always be able to call upon chance for quick theoretical assistance…. Indeed, all empirical investigation beyond the purely descriptive could cease, for scientists would have a ready-made answer for everything.

It is certainly possible that, for every event that happens, scientists could simply say “that’s the result of an indeterministic chancy process; there’s no further explanation for why the event happened that way.” But this would clearly be doing bad science: just because the option of appealing to indeterminism is there, it doesn’t follow that the option should always be used. The same holds for the option of appealing to supernatural powers.

As further evidence against Pennock, it’s worth pointing out that prominent scientists in the past have appealed to supernatural powers, without using them as a ready-made answer for everything. Newton is a good example of this—he is a devout theist, in addition to being a great scientist, and he thinks that God sometimes intervenes in the world. Pennock falsely implies that this is not the case:

God may have underwritten the active principles that govern the world described in [Newton’s] Principia and the Opticks, but He did not interrupt any of the equations or regularities therein. Johnson and other creationists who want to dismiss methodological naturalism would do well to consult Newton’s own rules of reasoning….

But in fact, Newton does not endorse methodological naturalism. In his Opticks, Newton claims that God sometimes intervenes in the world. Specifically, Newton thinks that, according to his laws of motion, the orbits of planets in our solar system are not stable over long periods of time, and his solution to this problem is to postulate that God occasionally adjusts the motions of the planets so as to ensure the continued stability of their orbits. Here’s a relevant passage from Newton. (It’s not completely obvious that Newton is saying that God will intervene but my interpretation is the standard one.)

God in the Beginning form’d Matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable Particles … it became him who created them to set them in order. And if he did so, it’s unphilosophical to seek for any other Origin of the World, or to pretend that it might arise out of a Chaos by the mere Laws of Nature; though being once form’d, it may continue by those Laws for many Ages. For while Comets move in very excentrick Orbs in all manner of Positions, blind Fate could never make all the Planets move one and the same way in Orbs concentrick, some inconsiderable Irregularities excepted, which may have risen from the mutual Actions of Comets and Planets upon one another, and which will be apt to increase, till this System wants a Reformation…. [God is] able by his Will to move the Bodies within his boundless uniform Sensorium, and thereby to form and reform the Parts of the Universe….

A scientist who writes this way does not sound like a scientist who is following methodological naturalism.

It’s worth noting that some contemporaries of Newton took issue with his view of God occasionally intervening in the universe. For example, Leibniz writes:

Sir Isaac Newton and his followers also have a very odd opinion concerning the work of God. According to them, God Almighty needs to wind up his watch from time to time; otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion.”

Note, though, that Leibniz also thought that God intervened in the world:

I hold that when God works miracles, he does not do it in order to supply the wants of nature, but those of grace.

Later investigation revealed that in fact planetary orbits are more stable than Newton thought, so Newton’s appeal to supernatural powers wasn’t needed. But the key point is that Newton is willing to appeal to supernatural powers, without using the appeal to supernatural powers as a ready-made answer for everything.

Pennock says that “Without the binding assumption of uninterruptible natural law there would be absolute chaos in the scientific worldview.” Newton’s own approach to physics provides a good counterexample to this—Newton is a leading contributor to the scientific worldview, and yet he does not bind himself by the assumption of uninterruptible natural law.

Bradley Monton, Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design, (Peterborough, Ontario [Canada]: Broadview Press, 2009), 62-64.

How one can go from the above rational positions by a Christian (CS Lewis), and an atheist (Bradley Monton), to comparing floating ice as an unnatural event held in situ by God’s continuous miraculous intervention. And then compare this straw-man to the Islamic understanding of extreme fideistic occasionalism?

The claim that there is a God raises metaphysical questions about the nature of reality and existence. In general, it can be said that there is not one concept of God but many, even among monotheistic traditions. The Abrahamic religions are theistic; God is both the creator of the world and the one who sustains it. Theism, with its equal stress on divine transcendence of the universe and immanence within it, constitutes a somewhat uneasy conceptual midpoint between deism and pantheism. Deist conceptions of the divine see God as the creator of a universe that continues to exist, without his intervention, under the physical impulses that he first imparted to it. In pantheism, God is identified with the universe as a whole. Theism itself has numerous subvarieties, such as occasionalism, which holds that the only real cause in the universe is God; thus, all other causes are simply signs of coincidence and conjunction between kinds of events occurring within the created order. For example, heat is not what causes the water in a teakettle to boil but is simply what uniformly occurs before the water boils. God himself is the cause of the boiling.

An important object of metaphysical reflection is God’s nature, or the properties of that nature. Is God simple or complex? If omniscience, omnipotence, and beauty are part of the divine perfection, what exactly are these properties? Is timeless eternity part of God’s perfection? Can an omnipotent being will that there be a four-sided triangle or change the past? Does an omniscient being know the future actions of free agents? (If so, how can they be free?) Does an omniscient being who is timelessly eternal know what time it is now?

(History of Religion)

Nor do Christians suspend belief or do not question their own understanding or nature’s causes for events, like Islam has, historically:

We humans have an inner balance with which we weigh good and evil. This balance, in Muslims stopped working. The indicator is stuck on zero. Muhammad’s companions could no longer register right and wrong. Because it’s hard to envision how a human being could be this ruthless, they persuaded themselves that he must be from God. As for why this god is so demonic, they fooled themselves with the lies that he told them. He told them that it is not up to man to question God. This absurd explanation satisfied his benighted followers. They resorted to fideism and argued that reason is irrelevant to religious belief. The great Imam Ghazali (1058 – 1111) said: “Where the claims of reason come into conflict with revelation, reason must yield to revelation.” A similar thesis in defense of foolishness is presented by Paul in 1 Cor. 1:20-25 where he argues “the foolishness of God is wiser than (the wisdom of) men”. The statement “Credo quia absurdum” (I believe because it is absurd), often attributed to Tertullian, is based on this passage of Paul. In DCC 5 he said: “The Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.” Upon this belief in absurdity fideism is founded and it is the position that has been adopted by Muslims. This fideistic attitude allowed the early believers to abandon reason and accept whatever Muhammad did, even his blatant crimes, without questioning him.

(Why Can’t Islam be Reformed?)

And when something “unnatural” is introduced into nature, this does not interfere one iota with science or the natural order of events, causality, or the like. As CS Lewis said many years ago, this is a Red Herring. Not to mention, that in reality, neo-Darwinian thinking IS A METAPHYSICAL PREMISE at its core. So often times it is the kettle calling the pot… well, you know.

IN a great presentation from True U. (http://www.trueu.org/), Dr. Stephen Meyer shows how — by using the supposition from Hinduism that the earth sits atop a turtle used by Stephen Hawkings — the materialist position differs little from any religious suppositions.

“We must ask first whether the theory of evolution by natural selection is scientific or pseudoscientific …. Taking the first part of the theory, that evolution has occurred, it says that the history of life is a single process of species-splitting and progression. This process must be unique and unrepeatable, like the history of England. This part of the theory is therefore a historical theory, about unique events, and unique events are, by definition, not part of science, for they are unrepeatable and so not subject to test.”

Colin Patterson [1978] (Dr. Patterson was Senior Principal Scientific Officer of the Paleontology Department of the British Museum of Natural History in London.)

People think evolution is “science proper.” It is not, it is both a historical science and a [philosophical] presupposition in its “neo-Darwinian” form. The presupposition that removes it from “science proper and moves it into “scientism” is explained by an atheist philosopher:

If science really is permanently committed to methodological naturalism – the philosophical position that restricts all explanations in science to naturalistic explanations – it follows that the aim of science is not generating true theories. Instead, the aim of science would be something like: generating the best theories that can be formulated subject to the restriction that the theories are naturalistic. More and more evidence could come in suggesting that a supernatural being exists, but scientific theories wouldn’t be allowed to acknowledge that possibility.

Bradley Monton, author of Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design ~ Apologetics315 h/t

In other words, the guy most credited in getting us to the moon used science to get us there, but was a young earth creationist. His view on “origins” (origin science) is separate from his working science. Two categories.

Likewise one of the most celebrated pediatric surgeons in the world, whom a movie was made after, “Gifted Hands,” is a young earth creationist. And the inventor of the MRI, a machine that diagnosed my M.S., is also a young earth creationist.

Evolutionary Darwinism is first and foremost an “historical science” that has many presuppositions that precede it, making it a metaphysical belief, a philosophy, as virulent anti-creationist philosopher of science, Michael Ruse explains:

Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. . . . Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.

Michael Ruse, “Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians,” National Post (May 13, 2000), p. B-3. (Via ICR)

….Nevertheless, there is a second, and arguably deeper, mystery associated with the Cambrian explosion: the mystery of how the neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection and random mutation could have given rise to all these fundamentally new forms of animal life, and done so quickly enough to account for the pattern in the fossil record. That question became acute in the second half of the twentieth century as biologists learned more about what it takes to build an animal.

In 1953 when Watson and Crick elucidated the structure of the DNA molecule, they made a startling discovery, namely, its ability to store information in the form of a four-character digital code. Strings of precisely sequenced chemicals called nucleotide bases store and transmit the assembly instructions—the information—for building the crucial protein molecules that the cell needs to survive. Just as English letters may convey a particular message depending on their arrangement, so too do certain sequences of chemical bases along the spine of a DNA molecule convey precise information. As Richard Dawkins has acknowledged, “the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.” Or as Bill Gates has noted, “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”

The Cambrian period is marked by an explosion of new animals exemplifying new body plans. But building new animal body plans requires new organs, tissues, and cell types. And new cell types require many kinds of specialized or dedicated proteins (e.g., animals with gut cells require new digestive enzymes). But building each protein requires genetic information stored on the DNA molecule. Thus, building new animals with distinctive new body plans requires, at the very least, vast amounts of new genetic information. Whatever happened during the Cambrian not only represented an explosion of new biological form, but it also required an explosion of new biological information.

Is it plausible that the neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations in DNA could produce the highly specificarrangements of bases in DNA necessary to generate the protein building blocks of new cell types and novel forms of life? 

According to neo-Darwinian theory, new genetic information arises first as random mutations occur in the DNA of existing organisms. When mutations arise that confer a survival advantage, the resulting genetic changes are passed on to the next generation. As such changes accumulate, the features of a population change over time. Nevertheless, natural selection can only “select” what random mutations first generate. Thus the neo-Darwinian mechanism faces a kind of needle-in-the-haystack problem—or what mathematicians call a “combinatorial” problem. The term “combinatorial” refers to the number of possible ways that a set of objects can be arranged or combined. Many simple bike locks, for example, have four dials with 10 digits on each dial. A bike thief encountering one of these locks faces a combinatorial problem because there are 10 × 10 × 10 × 10, or 10,000 possible combinations and only one that will open the lock. A random search is unlikely to yield the correct combination unless the thief has plenty of time.

Similarly, it is extremely difficult to assemble a new information-bearing gene or protein by the natural selection/random mutation process because of the sheer number of possible sequences. As the length of the required gene or protein grows, the number of possible base or amino-acid sequences of that length grows exponentially. 

Here’s an illustration that may help make the problem clear. Imagine that we encounter a committed bike thief who is willing to search the “sequence space” of possible bike combinations at a rate of about one new combination per two seconds. If our hypothetical bike thief had three hours and took no breaks he could generate more than half (about 5,400) of the 10,000 total combinations of a four-dial lock. In that case, the probability that he will stumble upon the right combination exceeds the probability that he will fail. More likely than not, he will open the lock by chance.

But now consider another case. If that thief with the same limited three hour time period available to him confronted a lock with ten dials and ten digits per dial (a lock with ten billion possible combinations) he would now have time only to explore a small fraction of the possible combinations—5,400 of ten billion—far fewer than half. In this case, it would be much more likely than not that he would fail to open the lock by chance.

These examples suggest that the ultimate probability of the success of a random search—and the plausibility of any hypothesis that affirms the success of such a search—depends upon both the size of the space that needs to be searched and the number of opportunities available to search it. 

In Darwin’s Doubt, I show that the number of possible DNA and amino acid sequences that need to be searched by the evolutionary process dwarfs the time available for such a search—even taking into account evolutionary deep time. Molecular biologists have long understood that the size of the “sequence space” of possible nucleotide bases and amino acids (the number of possible combinations) is extremely large. Moreover, recent experiments in molecular biology and protein science have established that functional genes and proteins are extremely rare within these huge combinatorial spaces of possible arrangements. There are vastly more ways of arranging nucleotide bases that result in non-functional sequences of DNA, and vastly more ways of arranging amino acids that result in non-functional amino-acid chains, than there are corresponding functionalgenes or proteins. One recent experimentally derived estimate places that ratio—the size of the haystack in relation to the needle—at 1077non-functional sequences for every functional gene or protein. (There are only something like 1065 atoms in our galaxy.)

All this suggests that the mutation and selection mechanism would only have enough time in the entire multi-billion year history of life on Earth to generate or “search” but a miniscule fraction (one ten trillion, trillion trillionth, to be exact) of the total number of possible nucleotide base or amino-acid sequences corresponding to a single functional gene or protein. The number of trials available to the evolutionary process turns out to be incredibly small in relation to the number of possible sequences that need to be searched. Thus, the neo-Darwinian mechanism, with its reliance on random mutation, is much more likely to fail than to succeed in generating even a single new gene or protein in the known history of life on earth. In other words, the neo-Darwinian mechanism is not an adequate mechanism to generate the information necessary to produce even a single new protein, let alone a whole new Cambrian animal….

[….]

Of course, many scientists dismiss intelligent design as “religion masquerading as science.” But the case for intelligent design is not based upon religious or scriptural authority. Instead it is based upon scientific evidence and the same method of scientific reasoning that Darwin himself used in the Origin of Species

In rejecting the theory as unscientific by definition, evolutionary biologists reveal a deep a priori commitment to methodological naturalism—the idea that scientists must limit themselves to materialistic explanations for all things. Yet, we know from experience that certain types of events and structures—in particular, information-rich structures—invariably arise from minds or personal agents. Indeed, no thinking person would insist that the inscriptions on the Rosetta stone, for example, were produced by strictly materialistic forces such as wind and erosion. Yet, by insisting that all events in the history of life must be explained by reference to strictly materialistic processes evolutionary biologists preclude consideration of a designing intelligence in the history of life, regardless of what the evidence might indicate. 

This commitment to a wholly materialistic account of the origins of life also helps to explain the reluctance to criticize the Darwinian theory publicly. Many evolutionary biologists fear that if they do so they will aid and abet the case for intelligent design—a theory they disdain as inherently unscientific. Those of us who support the theory of intelligent design advocate a more open approach to scientific investigation. Not only do we think the public has a right to know about the problems with evolutionary theory, we also think that the rules of science should allow scientists to “follow the evidence wherever it leads”—even if it leads to conclusions that raise deep and unwelcome metaphysical questions.

(American Spectator)

Parents In Florida Upset About Embalance of Islam Represented in a World History high School Textbook

This comes via Creeping Sharia:

via Protest over Islam lovefest high school history textbook | The Daily Caller.

On Florida’s Atlantic Coast, some 200 or more local parents and activists have announced plans to show up at Tuesday’s Volusia County school board meeting to protest the public school use of a world history textbook that devotes a whole chapter to Islam but exactly zero chapters to any other religions.

The textbook, called simply “World History,” contains a 32-page chapter fondly devoted to “Muslim Civilizations.” Sections include descriptions of the Koran, the growth of the Muslim empire and the Five Pillars of Islam.

The planned protest will include a demand that students rip out the 32 pages of the Islam chapter unless the school district agrees to provide students with a similar amount of officially-sanctioned material concerning other religions, reports local ABC affiliate WFTV.

The seeds for the Wednesday protest were reportedly planted after an unidentified local mother started a Facebook page demanding that local, taxpayer-funded schools stop using the textbook.

The district indicated that it will continue to use the controversial book.

School district officials in Volusia County insist that there’s no problem because other religions come up as a matter of course in the book. Thus, the argument goes, there’s no need to have a single chapter dedicated to, say, the Gospels or the Pentateuch—or, for that matter, Hindu or Buddhist religious traditions.

“Christianity and Judaism is [sic] spread throughout the book,” a school district spokeswoman told WFTV.

The book’s supporters also argue that students know about Christianity but need to learn more about Islam because of its crucial importance in international affairs.

On Monday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement criticizing the protesters.

“This group is displaying an alarming level of intolerance and brazen disregard of minority religions here in the US. We find their actions Un-American and against every core principal that makes this country so great,” CAIR said.

Critics of the textbook include District 2 Deltona commissioner Webster Barnaby, who told WFTV that he is only seeking equal time for other religions, specifically Christianity.

“The problem is: there needs to be balance. In America today, Christianity is being relegated to the trash heap,” Barnaby told the station.

“Why relegate Christianity to a footnote in an entire history book, and you give an entire chapter on the teachings of Islam?” he added.

“To suggest that everybody knows about Christianity, that is total ignorance,” Barnaby also said.

The “World History” textbook is one of three textbooks covering similar material that meet Florida’s criteria for adoption by the state’s public schools.

As a school district spokeswoman noted, one reason school districts select this book is because it covers information required under Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State Standards—the state’s version of the Common Core.

Why do media outlets continue to reach out for comments from the same terror-linked infiltrators who helped get Islam in and other religions out of U.S. textbooks?

PS: Muslims are not a minority.

Same-Sex Matters (Race and Gender in Marriage) ~ Re-Posted Due To Current Events

I wanted to share here some conversation and further thinking on a topic that was discussed vigorously amongst friends while partaking in choice hops this past Halloween weekend. The below is written in conversation style (almost all my posts are like this) for friends. So it will seem personal at times.

A plea for friends who are in relationships… this is meant for continued deeper reflection. Take your time and reflect thoughtfully and if discussed amongst yourselves, discuss civilly. Through all the conversation, know that right now in California civil partnerships hold all the legal equality (taxes, health-care coverage, hospital visits, etc) to marriage. So the push to have “same-sex marriage” isn’t about “equality,” it’s about ideology.

Also keep in mind that I am not in any way under the impression that a simple conversation like this will undue many years of thinking on a matter/subject. (You or Myself.) I would rather you at the least be introduced to a side of an issue that maybe you haven’t heard of before. This introduction to other arguments may be long and tedious. TAKE YOUR TIME (*caps not yelling but said for impact*). Great theories and coming to positions (spiritual and political) on a matter take time and evolve, sometimes over years. Or at least they should be considered with weightiness and not merely adopted from university or parental influence.

I have no idea either what you may have been introduced to (for instance: Howard Zinn, the self admitted Marxist and historian whose historical viewpoint was born from Marx and Engels writings – on other words, his historical philosophy didn’t exist prior to the Communist Manifesto). This view of history tends to be popular at the university campus. In other words, many of our views are rooted in deeper worldviews and the peripheral views we hold may never change until you look a bit deeper into our worldview.

(What does a worldview entail? Any “coherent worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer four questions: that of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.” Another writer outs it thusly: “A Worldview is how one views or interprets reality. The German word is Weltanschauung, meaning a ‘world and life view,’ or ‘a paradigm.’ It is a framework through which or by which one makes sense of the data of life. A worldview makes a world of difference in one’s view of God, origins, evil, human nature, values, and destiny.” Raising one’s self-consciousness [awareness] about worldviews is an essential part of intellectual maturity.)

In my mind’s eye we are talking about peripheral positions that would be impacted more by a deeper look into how we view reality… something not often looked into by the general populace today (see my first chapter in my book). So again,

  • I am more concerned about clarity than agreement in this conversation.

Many positions we hold as fact can be based in fallacious thinking. I will exemplify this by a topic that was brought up the other night, anthropogenic global warming (man caused global warming). History and science come together to disprove this theory. Not only has the “hockey stick” model that gave birth to this giant theory which was popularized by Al Gore [Britain’s courts referenced many lies in his presentation to not show it in public schools] has been torn to shreds science-wise, history shows the complete breakdown of the premise. For instance:

(1) Mars (Uncommon Descent h/t) has had a bout of global warming… last I checked Exxon doesn’t drill there;

(2) In the 8th century AD, the Roman Empire grew grapes used for wine on the slopes of Salisbury Plain (about 80 miles southwest of London) in the United Kingdom;

(3) The Vikings raiding and traveling the seas was made possible by the now frozen “Greenland”actually living up to its name;

(4) NASA‘s “fact” that 1998 was the warmest year (used by Al Gore) was disproved by an amateur mathematician;

(5) In 1970’s, at the first Earth Day rally, scientists, meteorologists and politicians all pushed a theory that there was Global Cooling (Time magazine for instance). While this theory wasn’t as embedded in popular thinking and scientific literature as is global warming, it was still the dominant theory of that time;

(6) There is more ice now that 29-years ago; Antarctic sea ice more than in 1979;

(7) In the 1500’s till the late 1800’s passages that are now iced over allowed for what is termed as the Northwest PassageExxon or cars weren’t around then?

“If you are like me and bit foggy on the Northwest Passage, here is a five cent refresher. The British coined the term Northwest Passage for the potential northern oceanic pass that would allow vessels to move between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The earliest explorations for the fabled passage were by Cortes in 1539. The late 1500’s were marked by British explorers, Martin Frobisher, Humphrey Gilbert, and John Davis. Several expeditions followed, all with little success of finding the passage but tempered by the acquisition of new lands. Some attempts lead to deaths of entire crews. Notable of these is the Sir John Franklin expedition in which all of the crew members were lost to starvation, scurvy, cannibalism, and lead poisoning from food sealed in tins. The first to transverse the Northwest Passage was Sir Robert McClure using a combination of both sledge and ship. Ironically this was done during the search for Franklin’s team in which McClure’s own ship became trapped in the ice for three winters. The passage was finally conquered entirely by sea by the Norwegian Amundsen in 1906.”

(8) A map of the land mass of the Antarctic (the Piri Reis map) is a mystery if you swallow the “goreacles” view of man-caused global warming:

Research showed that it was a genuine document drawn in 1513 by Piri Reis, a famous admiral of the Turkish fleet in the sixteenth century.

His passion was cartography. His high rank within the Turkish navy allowed him to have a privileged access to the Imperial Library of Constantinople.

The Turkish admiral admits in a series of notes on the map that he compiled and copied the data from a large number of source maps, some of which dated back to the fourth century BC or earlier.

(9) Acid rain scares of the 1980’s were mostly unfounded and not man-caused;

(10) On the northern side of Mammoth (in California), there are tree-lines that were preserved by a volcanic eruption in A.D. 1350. In this preserved tree-line there were seven species of tree that grew well above the current tree-line in this mountainous range. The Earth would have to be 3.2 degrees warmer (Celsius) in order for these particular trees to grow in this higher altitude.

So one can believe in man caused Global Warming, but the facts speak for themselves. (See my son’s 6th grade debate for Toast Masters for instance.) What would drive this view then? Patrick Moore, who you’ll remember is the co-founder of Green Peace, answers this important query, saying:

“I now find that many environmental groups have drifted into self-serving cliques with narrow vision and rigid ideology…. many environmentalists are showing signs of elitism, left-wingism, and downright eco-fascism. The once politically centrist, science-based vision of environmentalism has been largely replaced with extremist rhetoric. Science and logic have been abandoned and the movement is often used to promote other causes such as class struggle and anti-corporatism. The public is left trying to figure out what is reasonable and what is not.”

Moving on.

I almost wrote on the topic we spoke a bit about the other night back in September and wish I had, but instead I switched gears and wrote on the Left’s support for pedophilia (explicit and implicit) in their support of many groups who promote it – here in the united states and abroad (See: The Left / Islamo-Nazis / Homosexuality / Womens Rights / and Contradictions). I would like us to stay on just this topic if we can work though it.

Before getting to the main topic that we left last night about interracial marriage being illegal on the basis of color and homosexuality being equated to that [i.e., race], I wish to post some of what I said last night for record sake. This comes from a question asked of me by one of my son’s friends. He asked “What is your views on gays? Are they bad? Are they going to hell? Are you born this way?” (Question #3 from Q & A Session – PapaG Style) Most of what I talked about last night can be found in this post for clarity [updated a bit]:

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….However, there is a “created order,” or, even a natural order (if you do not believe in God). My argument for heterosexual (between a man and a woman) unions is usable both by the atheist (non believer) and the theist (a believer in God – in the Judeo-Christian sense). Here is the crux of the matter in regards to “nature’s order:”

“…take gold as an example, it has inherent in its nature intrinsic qualities that make it expensive: good conductor of electricity, rare, never tarnishes, and the like. The male and female have the potential to become a single biological organism, or single organic unit, or principle. Two essentially becoming one. The male and female, then, have inherent to their nature intrinsic qualities that two mated males or two mated females never actualize in their courtship… nor can they ever. The potential stays just that, potential, never being realized…. Think of a being that reproduces, not by mating, but by some act performed by individuals. Imagine that for these same beings, movement and digestion is performed not by individuals, but only by the complementary pairs that unite for this purpose. Would anyone acquainted with such beings have difficulty understanding that in respect to movement and digestion, the organism is a united pair, or an organic unity?” (Prof. George)

So you see, the two heterosexual organisms that join in a sexual union cease being two separate organisms for a short time and become one organism capable of reproduction. This is what the state and the church are sealing in a marriage, this intrinsic union. The homosexual couple can never achieve this union, so “natures order” has endowed the heterosexual union with an intrinsic quality that other relationships do not have or could never attain. Both the atheist and theist can argue from this point, because either we were created this way or we evolved this way. Either way, nature has imposed on the sexual union being discussed.

Also, I do not think it is wholly genetic. I believe choice is involved as well as violence. For instance, take this thought from a pro-choice, lesbian woman, Tammy Bruce:

“ . . . . and now all manner of sexual perversion enjoys the protection and support of once what was a legitimate civil-rights effort for decent people. The real slippery slope has been the one leading into the Left’s moral vacuum. It is a singular attitude that prohibits any judgment about obvious moral decay because of the paranoid belief that judgment of any sort would destroy the gay lifestyle, whatever that is…. I believe this grab for children by the sexually confused adults of the Gay Elite represents the most serious problem facing our culture today. . . . Here come the elephant again: Almost without exception, the gay men I know (and that’s too many to count) have a story of some kind of sexual trauma or abuse in their childhoodmolestation by a parent or an authority figure, or seduction as an adolescent at the hands of an adult. The gay community must face the truth and see sexual molestation of an adolescent for the abuse it is, instead of the ‘coming-of-age’ experience many [gays] regard it as being. Until then, the Gay Elite will continue to promote a culture of alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and suicide by AIDS.”

What she is basically saying is that there are emotional reasons, usually trauma, or circumstances that push these young boys into the choices they make in regards to their sexuality. For instance, one of my co-workers is a homosexual man. He is a wonderful guy; I would invite him to my wedding if I could go back in time. He is very open about his past, he was “initiated” into the homosexual lifestyle by a grown black man when he was 14. In other words, he was raped. Whether he feels at this point in time that he consented is of no value to the conversation. He was not old enough to consent neither would this act by a family member, friend, or complete stranger be anything  but rape. And this rape, at an age where boys are having surges of hormones and confused about a lot of things is what Tammy Bruce was speaking to. It is a psychological trauma that if not dealt with has negatively reverberating results in one’s life. To ignore the traumatic effects on a person’s life that an event like this has simply by “rubber stamping” the lifestyle that all too often is a consequence of violence does more harm (trauma) to the individual than simply asking society to stay within the classic definition of marriage.

This “trauma” sometimes works its way into sexual matters. There are many homosexual people, Al Rantel, to name a more popular one, that believe marriage should be kept between a man and a woman. Tammy Bruce wants it, but she, like most Republicans, want the states to decide, and not the Supreme Court.

Also, in 1993, the biggest march by the “gay” community (much thanks to a reader leaving a link to this article!) on Washington was held, and they had this as part of their platform:

  • The implications of homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered curriculum at all levels of education.
  • The lowering of the age [12 years old to be exact] of consent for homosexual and heterosexual sex.
  • The legalization of homosexual marriages.
  • Custody, adoption, and foster-care rights for homosexuals, lesbians, and transgendered people.
  • the redefinition of the family to include the full diversity of all family structures.
  • The access to all programs of the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Affirmative action for homosexuals.
  • The inclusion of sex-change operations under a universal health-care plan.

Obviously the Elite gay community Tammy Bruce spoke of knows which age is best for “recruiting,” e.g., traumatizing.

I will post three quotes from Tammy Bruce (a pro-choice lesbian):

Even if one does not necessarily accept the institutional structure of “organized religion,” the “Judeo-Christian ethic and the personal standards it encourages do not impinge on the quality of life, but enhance it. They also give one a basic moral template that is not relative,” which is why the legal positivists of the Left are so threatened by the Natural Law aspect of the Judeo-Christian ethic. (Tammy Bruce, The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s Assault on Our Culture and Values [Roseville: Prima, 2003], 35.)

…these problems don’t remain personal and private. The drive, especially since this issue is associated with the word “gay rights,” is to make sure your worldview reflects theirs. To counter this effort, we must demand that the medical and psychiatric community take off their PC blinders and treat these people responsibly. If we don’t, the next thing you know, your child will be taking a “tolerance” class explaining how “transexuality” is just another “lifestyle choice”…. After all, it is the only way malignant narcissists will ever feel normal, healthy, and acceptable: by remaking society – children – in their image (Ibid., 92, 206)

… and now all manner of sexual perversion enjoys the protection and support of once what was a legitimate civil-rights effort for decent people. The real slippery slope has been the one leading into the Left’s moral vacuum. It is a singular attitude that prohibits any judgment about obvious moral decay because of the paranoid belief that judgment of any sort would destroy the gay lifestyle, whatever that is…. I believe this grab for children by the sexually confused adults of the Gay Elite represents the most serious problem facing our culture today…. Here come the elephant again: Almost without exception, the gay men I know (and that’s too many to count) have a story of some kind of sexual trauma or abuse in their childhood — molestation by a parent or an authority figure, or seduction as an adolescent at the hands of an adult. The gay community must face the truth and see sexual molestation of an adolescent for the abuse it is, instead of the ‘coming-of-age’ experience many [gays] regard it as being. Until then, the Gay Elite will continue to promote a culture of alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and suicide by AIDS. (Ibid., 90. 99)

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[A reader with an eagle eye caught a mistake on my part,

so a portion of this post was removed: see comments]

Many homosexuals stand against same-sex marriage. I document some in-depth views by a couple of politically astute gay persons reasons on why they stand against same-sex marriage (so it isn’t homophobia [#1], and [#2] it isn’t about a lack of “rights,” because these homosexual writers believe they are equal now). I also quote a well-known Canadian homosexual psychologist and sociologist on this topic:

Paul Nathanson, a sociologist, a scholar, and a homosexual writes that there are at least five functions that marriage serves–things that every culture must do in order to survive and thrive. They are (source):

  1. Foster the bonding between men and women
  2. Foster the birth and rearing of children
  3. Foster the bonding between men and children
  4. Foster some form of healthy masculine identity
  5. Foster the transformation of adolescents into sexually responsible adults

Note that Nathanson considers these points critical to the continued survival of any culture. He continues “Because heterosexuality is directly related to both reproduction and survival, … every human societ[y] has had to promote it actively . … Heterosexuality is always fostered by a cultural norm “that limits marriage to unions of men and women.” He adds that people “are wrong in assuming that any society can do without it.”

Read more: RPT Joy Behar vs. Homosexuals on Same-Sex Marriage

These are considerations often not addressed by the Left. But all this is not the main point I want to deal with, which is, race and sexual orientation.

Dennis Prager mentions the power of this argument with one of his few refutations of it:

The most effective of all morality-based arguments for same-sex marriage, the one that persuades more people than any other argument, is the one that equates opposition to same-sex marriage with the old opposition to interracial marriage.

The argument, repeated so often that it sounds incontestable, is this: Just as parts of American society once had immoral laws that forbade whites and blacks from marrying, so, today, society continues to have immoral laws forbidding men from marrying men and women from marrying women. And just as decent people overthrew the former, decent people must overthrow the latter.

Thanks in large part to widespread higher education — the higher the educational level, the more one is likely to hold this view — vast numbers of Americans believe in this equation of sex (gender) and race.

But the equation is false.

First, there is no comparison between sex and race.

There are enormous differences between men and women, but there are no differences between people of different races. Men and women are inherently different, but blacks and whites (and yellows and browns) are inherently the same. Therefore, any imposed separation by race can never be moral or even rational;

on the other hand, separation by sex can be both morally desirable and rational. Separate bathrooms for men and women is moral and rational; separate bathrooms for blacks and whites is not….

Read more: False Equation: Opposing Same-Sex Marriage and Opposing Interracial Marriage

(In the audio to the right, this first caller should be listened to, below is the visual of the discussion.)

 

That first reason is why almost all the black civil rights leaders that marched with Martin Luther King Jr. do not support this comparison. For instance,

Appendix

Average Household Income:

Homosexuals – $55,430 / African Americans – $12,166

Percentage of College Graduates:

Homosexuals – 60% / African Americans – 5%

Holding Professional Positions:

Homosexuals – 49% / African Americans – 1%

Taken Overseas Vacations:

Homosexuals – 66% / African Americans – 1%

Ever Denied the Right to Vote:

Homosexuals – No / African Americans – Yes

Ever Faced Legal Segregation:

Homosexuals – No / African Americans – Yes

Ever Denied Access to Public Restrooms:

Homosexuals – No / African Americans – Yes

Ever Denied Access to Businesses and Restaurants:

Homosexuals – No / African Americans – Yes

(Wall Street Journal, 7/18/91, B1)

Read more: RPT Homosexuality: Is it good for society? For the individual?

In a New York Times article entitled, “Blacks Rejecting Gay Rights As a Battle Equal to Theirs,” we find some interesting supposed parallels made by the Left taken to task. For instance, Vernetta Adams, A balck 24-year-old woman and history major at the University of the District of Columbia said this, “I can’t go in a closet and hang up my race when it’s convenient…. Gays hid in the closet when they wanted to advance. Now they’re out and demanding rights and yelling ‘discrimination.'” The The Rev. Lou Sheldon intimates the reasons he thinks many in the gay community are making this parallel:

“The reason gays are making parallels,” Mr. Sheldon said, “is that it may bring empathy from white men like me, who feel a collective sense of guilt about the way blacks have been treated. The fact remains that this is not a civil rights issue but a moral issue.”

This is the point that separates race from gender. That is, homosexuals have not been discriminated against:

Another argument for gay rights laws depends upon an analogy between homosexuals today and blacks before the civil rights move­ment. It claims that homosexuals similarly constitute a distinct and oppressed minority and that, although they do enjoy many civil liber­ties, they are nonetheless second-class citizens because people scorn and reject them out of prejudice. Hence, gay rights laws, modeled on civil rights statutes for blacks, should be enacted to correct this.

Yet the analogy is not sound. Homosexuals are not an oppressed minority in the way that blacks were. They have not suffered from imposed segregation, systematic economic deprivation, or denial of educational opportunities. Furthermore, they do not suffer from an inherited pattern of deprivation, since the homosexual condition is not passed from generation to generation like race or ethnicity. Rather, it has been well documented that homosexuals have, on average, incomes much higher than the national norm and that, on average, they re­ceive several years more formal schooling than the typical American. They occupy thousands of positions of prestige and influence in busi­ness, academia, the professions, and the media. It cannot plausibly be maintained that they are an oppressed minority.

(Michael Pakaluk, “Homosexuality and the Principle of Nondiscrimination,” 77-78, found in Christopher Wolfe, ed., Same-Sex Matters: The Challenge of Homosexuality [Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing, 2000].)

Some discussion of the 3/5ths Clause in the Constitution came up as well. Frederick Douglas in his early years thought that this proved a  “race  bias” embedded in our country. Until that is, he read the Constitution and those writings of the authors of these sections and the debates (history) on such clauses:

Another point I make (in the post Homosexuality: Is it good for society? For the individual?) is that there is an issue before us:

A liberal society might, then, find it prudent to ignore homosexuality. It might well deem it unwise to peer into private bedrooms. However, this is not the issue before us. Today the demand is that homosexuality be endorsed and promoted with the full power of the law. This would require us to abandon the standard of nature, the one standard that can teach us the difference between freedom and slavery, between right and wrong.

What is the “issue before us?” I will let professor Robert George talk about it further:

….Lawyers challenging traditional marriage laws liken their cause to Loving v. Virginia (which invalidated laws against interracial marriages), insinuating that conjugal-marriage supporters are bigots. This is ludicrous and offensive, and no one should hesitate to say so.

The definition of marriage was not at stake in Loving. Everyone agreed that interracial marriages were marriages. Racists just wanted to ban them as part of the evil regime of white supremacy that the equal protection clause was designed to destroy.

Opponents of racist laws in Loving did not question the idea, deeply embodied in our law and its shaping philosophical tradition, of marriage as a union that takes its distinctive character from being founded, unlike other friendships, on bodily unity of the kind that sometimes generates new life. This unity is why marriage, in our legal tradition, is consummated only by acts that are generative in kind. Such acts unite husband and wife at the most fundamental level and thus legally consummate marriage whether or not they are generative in effect, and even when conception is not sought.

Of course, marital intercourse often does produce babies, and marriage is the form of relationship that is uniquely apt for child-rearing (which is why, unlike baptisms and bar mitzvahs, it is a matter of vital public concern). But as a comprehensive sharing of life—an emotional and biological union—marriage has value in itself and not merely as a means to procreation. This explains why our law has historically permitted annulment of marriage for non-consummation, but not for infertility; and why acts of sodomy, even between legally wed spouses, have never been recognized as consummating marriages.

Only this understanding makes sense of all the norms—annulability for non-consummation, the pledge of permanence, monogamy, sexual exclusivity—that shape marriage as we know it and that our law reflects. And only this view can explain why the state should regulate marriage (as opposed to ordinary friendships) at all—to make it more likely that, wherever possible, children are reared in the context of the bond between the parents whose sexual union gave them life.

If marriage is redefined, its connection to organic bodily union—and thus to procreation—will be undermined. It will increasingly be understood as an emotional union for the sake of adult satisfaction that is served by mutually agreeable sexual play. But there is no reason that primarily emotional unions like friendships should be permanent, exclusive, limited to two, or legally regulated at all. Thus, there will remain no principled basis for upholding marital norms like monogamy….

(Gay Marriage, Democracy, and the Courts: The culture war will never end if judges invalidate the choices of voters – Wall Street Journal)

While the following may be a bit graduate level, it is worth reading and digesting, as it makes similar points to the above comments by Robert George in the article he wrote, but it looks at the health of society. Like I said, you should take your time, follow through on some of the links, which would be equivalent to a small book being read. The following is taken from the chapter of my book entitled, Roman Epicurean’ism – Natural Law and Homosexuality (this section starts on page 14 if you wish to follow the references):

“Civil” Wars

The very heart of natural law is the family, for the distinction of male and female is at the very origin of our divinely ordained (e.g., created) social nature.[85] “Deviation from the ordained goal of heterosexual intercourse within marriage therefore strikes at the very heart of natural law.”[86] Civil marriage, then, exists merely to recognize a pre-existing social institution presupposing a created order vis-à-vis natural law tradition. “The state does not create marriage – it merely recognizes it. Marriage, in its truest sense, is neither a civil institution nor a religious one, but a natural institution. The complimentarity of male and female is an essential part of its nature.”[87] You see, the state has a vested interest in the family unit. If people could not have children, then the state would not be involved in the legal aspect of such a private contract. Michael Pakaluk, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Clark University, uses Justice John Harlan’s[88] dissention in the Poe v. Ullman to point out that “society… has traditionally concerned itself with the moral soundness of its people.”[89] He continues:

The laws regarding marriage which provide both when the sexual powers may be used and the legal and societal context in which chil­dren are born and brought up, as well as laws forbidding adultery, fornication, and homosexual practices which express the negative of the proposition, confining sexuality to lawful marriage, form a pattern so deeply pressed into the substance of our social life that any Con­stitutional doctrine in this area must build upon that basis.[90]

Professor Pakaluk builds on theme of societal interest in the moral framework of the family structure and why it matters to a healthy society. He gives three areas of concern that said healthy society should be involved:

1. the state has an in­terest in promoting the family because the family is the only reliable source of good citizens—of men and women with civic virtues, good­will towards others, peaceable habits of association, and virtues of thrift and hard work. It therefore has an interest in discouraging sexual activity that is harmful to family life.

2. the state needs to insure that the rights of all of its citi­zens are protected, especially those of children, but children have a right to be raised within an intact family (or, strictly speaking, being deprived of an intact family without grave reason). It follows that the state has an interest in regulating sexual activity so that chil­dren are conceived and raised within stable families.

3. the state has an interest in encouraging its citizens to master their sexual desires. This is an obvious and important point, but strangely it is frequently overlooked today. Inordinate sexual desire is clearly as capable of dominating and enslaving people as are greed, power, alcohol, and drugs. Desire not infrequently drives people to neglect their responsibilities, to use power illicitly, to abuse the rights of others, to betray others, to lie, even to commit murder. Disordered sexual desire is often directly linked to depression, listlessness, and rage. Clearly, a tranquil civic order can be established only among citizens who have achieved a good degree of sexual self-control, and the state clearly has an interest in promoting this.[91]

This interest for a healthy society was born out of how pagan societies crumbled under the weight of licentiousness and the view of women as second-class citizen’s. Harold Berman makes this point when he writes that,

In pagan cultures in which polygamy, arranged marriages, and oppression of women predominated, the church promoted the idea of monogamous marriage by free consent of both spouses. In the West this idea had to do battle with deeply rooted tribal, village, and feudal customs. By the tenth century ecclesiastical synods were promulgating decrees concerning the matrimonial bond, adultery, legitimacy of children, and related matters; nevertheless, children continued to be married in the cradle and family relations continued to be dominated by the traditional folkways and mores of the Germanic, Celtic, and other peoples of western Europe. In the folklaw of the European peoples, as in the classical Roman law, marriage between persons of different classes (for example, free and slave, citizens and foreigners) was prohibited. Also divorce was at the will of either spouse—which usually meant, in practice, at the will of the husband. There were not even any formal requirements for divorce. Paternal consent was required for a marriage to be valid. Few obligations between the spouses were conceived in legal terms.[92]

So there was a progression from Pagan rights for women, which were basically none, to a protection and equalization under a more Christianized system. It is this system that is being undermined in redefining marriage. What is meant by this is that marriage between a man and woman is not an institution created by the state. As philosopher Michael Pakaluk argues, “[it] is an objective reality prior to the state.” If it is merely an institution created by the state, the case used by same-sex advocates (Loving v. Virginia) to equate homosexual marriage to race falls apart:

There are several implications that follow from this. For example, Pakaluk points out that “parental authority must stand or fall with marriage.” For “if the bond of husband and wife is not by nature, then neither is the government of those who share in that bond over any children that might result.” Consequently, “laws recognizing gay marriage imply, similarly, that parents have no objective and natural authority over their children, prior to the state.”6 This would mean that parents would have no natural right, no actual moral grounds, to object to the public schools teaching their children lessons about human sexuality that are contrary to the lessons taught in church and home. The state, of course, may grant an exception to these “backward” parents, but not because they have a prelegal obligation to care for and nurture their children in shaping their character and directing their moral compass. Rather, the state may consider it politically wise to tolerate these families and their religious traditions. But it would not be as a matter of principle based on the order and nature of things.

Ironically, if this view of marriage were dominant in our legal culture when the Supreme Court rejected the prohibition of interracial marriage in the case of Loving v. Virginia (1967), the moral grounds for its opinion would have been lost.7 That is, in order for the Court to have concluded that forbidding interracial marriage is wrong, it would have to know what marriage is. But if marriage is merely a social construction and not a natural institution, the state of Virginia could have argued, like contemporary same-sex marriage proponents, that marriage is merely a social construction subject to our will and nothing more. It is only because the Court knew that marriage is between a man and a woman that it could say that race, like height, geography, or place of residence, is not a relevant characteristic for two people to marry.

(Francis Beckwith, “Legal Neutrality and Same-Sex Marriage,” Philosophia Christi [vol. 7, no. 1]: Downloadable PDF)

This “right to love” (which is separate from marriage) is discussed further by Dennis Prager and others. Before ending with some audio, another issue that may be embedded in your mind is that Christianity has enslaved women more than freed them. This misconception – common on the university campus – is another historical misconception. You may see this on pages 12-18 of my chapter entitled Gnostic Feminism – Empowered to Fail. A very important read to understand the protections that came from the Judeo-Christian worldview ultimately afforded to women almost from the conception of the Christian faith and later embedded in Western legal tradition. It is this tradition being undermined and the human rights homosexual persons and women have fought so hard for for centuries. If one rejects this American experiment founded in the rights of their Creator, then one rejects the rights found in this same document. Reverting back to the same positions that treated women and homosexuals in a less than demeaning manner is self-destructive and well, if you will forgive me, juvenile. Juvenile not in a negative way, but needing more input that is outside you normative “sounding board.”

Some important audio. Again, this topic is one I expect you to set aside some time for. Maybe a year even? I will politely keep you on track. The reason for this is that the typical position is reached on the Left some say merely by feeling. I am challenging you to leave the world of feelings and to put your feelings up against reasoned positions. Some of this will be religious in nature, but not in legal terms. What do I mean by this? Theologian Wayne Grudem explains the often mischaracterized cross-pollination of the religious with legal:

1. It fails to distinguish the reasons for a law from the content of the law

Such “exclude religion” arguments are wrong because marriage is not a religion! When voters define marriage, they are not establishing a religion. In the First Amendment, “Con­gress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” the word “religion” refers to the church that people attend and support. “Religion” means being a Baptist or Catholic or Presbyterian or Jew. It does not mean being married. These arguments try to make the word “religion” in the Constitution mean something different from what it has always meant.

These arguments also make the logical mistake of failing to distinguish the reasons for a law from the content of the law. There were religious reasons behind many of our laws, but these laws do not “establish” a religion. All major religions have teachings against stealing, but laws against stealing do not “establish a religion.” All religions have laws against murder, but laws against murder do not “establish a religion.” The cam­paign to abolish slavery in the United States and England was led by many Christians, based on their religious convictions, but laws abolishing slavery do not “establish a reli­gion.” The campaign to end racial discrimination and segregation was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist pastor, who preached against racial injustice from the Bible. But laws against discrimination and segregation do not “establish a religion.”

If these “exclude religion” arguments succeed in court, they could soon be applied against evangelicals and Catholics who make “religious” arguments against abortion. Majority votes to protect unborn children could then be invalidated by saying these vot­ers are “establishing a religion.” And, by such reasoning, all the votes of religious citizens for almost any issue could be found invalid by court decree! This would be the direct opposite of the kind of country the Founding Fathers established, and the direct oppo­site of what they meant by “free exercise” of religion in the First Amendment.

(Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010],31.)

In other words, one needs to make some “subject” “object” distinctions herein. Knowing that just because one’s view is religious or secular does not necessarily exclude her of his view from the panaplea of legal tradition. A quick note about another small topic that cropped up. If you are unaware of the horrible consequences of polygamy, I have some books and DVD documentaries that you are more than welcome to borrow that can increase your understanding of the psychological and positional destruction of children and women in these cultures:

  1. Escape, by Carolyn Jessop;
  2. Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist Wife, by Irene Spencer;
  3. Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamouse Sect, Becoming a Teengae Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs, by Elissa Wall;
  4. Banking on Heaven: Polygamy in the Heartland of the American West (DVD);
  5. Lifting the Veil of Polygamy (DVD);
  6. Escaping Polygamy: ABC Primetime Investigation (DVD).

Okay, some audio, finally:

Race, Gender, Homosexuality (24-minutes), somewhat religious;

Prop 8 Discussions (34-minutes);

Defending Traditional Marriage (34-minutes);

Gender Issues In Marriage (34-Minutes).

Taped Interviews Hints At Obama`s Confused Understandings of Religious Categories ~ Ed Klein Wright on Obamas Christianity

BREAKING NEWS, via Gateway Pundit:

The Daily Caller reported:

Klein also said Wright told him he “made it comfortable” for Obama to accept Christianity without having renounce his “Islamic background,” which Klein said he has on tape.

Here is Ed Klein on Hannity talking about his interview with Rev. Jeremiah Wright:

Nobel Prize Winner’s Treatment Prime Example of “Scientism”

On this episode of ID the Future, host David Boze examines the plight of Dr. Daniel Shechtman, recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals, who had previously suffered much rejection and ridicule for threatening the consensus of the scientific establishment. Listen in and consider the parallels between Shechtman’s once-heretical science and the modern-day rejection and scorn of the ID movement. http://www.idthefuture.com/

A Starbucks Encounter with Michael Berryman

I love to go to Starbucks, grab a cup of coffee, and read/study my favorite topics in book form. Once and a while I will bump into people well known in pop-culture. Michael Berryman was recently one of those people. Of course, he is best known to me from an 80’s classic, Weird Science. But he has been in many others, as his bio shows, another being a favorite of mine, The One Who Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Mistaking him for an officer that served in the SCV that looks — believe it or not — very similar, my mistake was quickly corrected and small chit-chat began. Michael is an amiable enough guy and I had planned on letting him go on his way after he very nicely allowed a photo to be taken. However, during this small talk that was very general, Michael mentioned news, and then interjected into his own point that one shouldn’t watch Fox News because it is not news, far from fair and balanced, he said.

Well, this is where the brakes on the rest of my plans happened. Wanting to engage the level of this man’s reasoning towards truth vs. merely spewing bumper-sticker thinking as fact [ad hoc] became the goal for the rest of my scheduled reading time. (This led to a 40-minute conversation.) After Michael drove deeper into the political abyss of commentary common from the Left, I slowed the conversation down a bit by mentioning he had touched on many topics in just a few sentences. …(con’t)…

(A tactic seemingly used by those who wish to just be “right.” They obfuscate the issue by interjecting many topics and points in the hope — apparently — of showing the person listening they have a handle on this topic. Granted, many do not realize they are doing this… they have just never had anyone around them that disagree with them. They live in sound rooms surrounded by only those who think like them.)

Before continuing with the encounter, due to the length of the post I feel the nee to update it with a “contents” section as well as headings. This will make it easier for the “topical” reader to find a response to a challenge he or she is interested in. So the following contents are based on responding to comments made during conversation:Me and Con CLEAR

Enjoy the conversation, I did.

1. Fox News Is Biased

…(from con’t)… I mentioned to Michael that “just a short while back he mentioned something that needed revisiting to exemplify a correlation between what many people say is true in general conversation compared to what is actually the case.” So bringing him back to the Fox News statement I asked if three reasons could be offered as to why maybe his statement might be wrong.

The first reason I gave was that “during the 2010 election Fox News had NPR, The Baltimore Sun, The Times, U.S. News and World Report, and Politico, all said [in some form or fashion] the coverage by Fox was the best in breadth (most in-depth guests) and most fair in their political stance (equal number of liberal/conservative guests, interviews and opinions). Whereas they all bemoaned MSNBC for their far-left commentary and CNN for their lack of depth.”

The second reason given was that “according to a Pew Research poll, and separately a university poll, found that between the party splits of Democrat, Republican, and Independents, there is about an equal mix of viewers of Fox. Whereas — in Contradistinction to MSNBC and CNN — there is a much larger demographic of Democrats versus Republicans that watch those channels.” Pointing out that more Democrats watch Fox than watch CNN or MSNBC (and that stat may even be combined[?]) segwayed nicely to exemplify that “if someone is saying that Fox news is not News or unfair, they may be out of the mainstream… since the stats show a much more balanced viewing audience.” This fair mix of people from differing political views is what has made Fox (posted in March of this year) the most-watched news channel in total viewers for both Total Day and Primetime for the 110th straight month.

Before making my third reason known, Michael interjected and started to again make multiple points which included anecdotal stories which surely he thought would prove his position. But they were just non-sequitur stories from his past… emotionally laden. Interjecting politely I steered him back to the topic and to my third point, which was Fox’s reporting on the 2008 election. “Fox News offered a fair mix of positive/negative stories on Obama and McCain when they reported on the two candidates than MSNBC or CNN.” Continuing I mentioned “that George Mason University’s (during the conversation I merely mentioned “a university,” here I am including the actual studies or some referring links) non-partisan Center for Media and Public Affairs concurred as well as another media watch org, The Project for Excellence in Journalism.” Not letting up I pointed out that maybe, just maybe what he was saying did not fit with the facts. This is a hard thing to admit — pride gets in the way.

2. I Like Ron Paul

Then came more anecdotal tales, many of which were personal references to his meeting famous people or his mother meeting famous people. All stories that only he has access to, nothing offered by Michael could be taken and used by another party to make an informed decision from these facts that lay outside him and myself — like the information given in the Fox News discussion. He asked me if I liked Ron Paul. Reservedly I responded that Ron Paul had some positions I liked, others I did not. He responded to this by merely stating that he liked him. A short while later in his ramblings he intimated that he hated Ronald Reagan. Which brought us back to his previous statement about Ron Paul. “Mentioning that I hear a lot of people from the left say they like Ron Paul without actually knowing what Ron Paul stands for,” continuing, “Much like Reagan, Ron Paul would like to shut down many Federal Departments, like the Dept. of Education, of Agriculture, the EPA, and the like.” Granted, I already knew this is something Michael would not agree with, and he didn’t. My implicit point had been made, there was a disconnect between something said (in this case the liking of a particular candidate) and said facts easily known (in this case, many of Ron Paul’s positions). Of course the conversation steered towards drugs, most conversations about Ron Paul do. I mentioned I was for the legalization of marijuana if there  were someway, much like with alcohol, for law enforcement to tell if someone is under the influence of the drug. But Ron Paul would legalize (or at the least stop Federal enforcement of) heroine, speed, and the like. Later in the conversation Michael challenged my libertarian side by asking derisively if I would want to get rid of the national parks. I said no, but I pointed out that Ron Paul would… another thing he wasn’t aware of in regards to Ron Paul.

3. Reagan Caused the Homeless Problem

Mentioning Reagan again as being one of the most evil men in his life time caused me to inquire why he thought this. He started to intimate why, but then stopped himself and asked if I knew what he was going to reference. I did. “Are you going to mention the insane asylums,” I said.  Knowing this is a popular mantra of the Left in regards to Reagan which proved correct. He asked me what i thought of this situation to which I responded that the movement to release these “mentally ill” persons was not Reagan’s alone, that the Democratic Left was very much involved. Michael merely dismissed this position out of hand, almost laughing as he did. (An aside should be noted. The left thinks this event happened nation wide, however, this happened when Reagan was governor of California.) An interesting conversation on Snopes forums can help the reader, as well as myself, gain information so a well informed response to an emotional position. You can trust me when I say Michael was very animated in expressing his disgust of Reagan. Here are some of the conversations from the older Snopes forum:

Snopes started the conversation off:

(Snopes Posted) For over three decades I’ve been hearing people say “those crazy people are out here walking the streets in California because Ronald Reagan removed them from State institutions.” Ronald Reagan was last California Governor in 1972. AS I recall, it’s the legislature that passes laws and then the Governor signs the law. Did that happen with the California ‘crazy people?’

Since 1972 there have been several times when the governor, the state senate and the state legislature were all controlled by the Democratic Party. Why didn’t they change the law and house the ‘crazy people?’ It’s very likely if the ‘crazy people’ were de-institutionalized during the Reagan governorship that the legislature was controlled by the Democratic Party. What’s the truth and what’s the lie? Who introduced this bill, if there ever was one that de-institutionalized ‘crazy people’, how did the vote go down, and what was Reagan’s role?

Following are some thoughtful responses:

Advocatus Diaboli posted:

I think I can successfully field this one. My father has worked for Agnews Developmental Center going on 4 decades. Having retired twice and begged to come back each time working first as a Nursing Coordinator and later on Health and Safety officer. I also have worked there in the offices as part of the youth work program.

Quite simply mental health and developmental professionals want the State/ State of California out of the business of caring for “crazy people” So acting on there recommendations that’s what the government gave them. Overall it’s probably better in most cases. A great number of these people are not “crazy” they are developmentally disabled a crucial distinction in my opinion.

I know of one girl whom I was very fond of and who loved it when I visited her that was placed in a community home and was better for it. She was not “out on the street” and some institutions still operate at some capacity for those who can not be placed, and hopefully they always will.

Politics has little to do with this at all.

G.I. Joe posted:

My wife worked for the chief of the psychiatric department at the Brentwood VA in California during the early 80s. From the mid-70s to mid-80s there was a strong ‘patients rights’ movement generated by the mental health advocate community. Although there were many facets to this movement, one of the primary elements was a re-examination of the criteria for institutionalizing patients.

The point of contention revolved around interpretations of what it meant for a patient to be able to ‘take care of himself.’ Prior to this the interpretation was rather strict; if a patient could not earn an income and provide shelter and food for himself (and if there were no family members able to care for him), then he would normally be institutionalized.

Beginning in the late 70s, the advocacy groups began to demand a lower standard. As long as a patient could merely wash and dress himself, and could perform the mechanical tasks of shoveling food into his mouth, then every effort was made to force the institutions to release them. My wife’s boss spent many months both in court and testifying before the state assembly trying to stop this lowering of standards. Unsuccessfully.

Predictably, most of the newly discharged patients were unable to take care of themselves in any meaningful sense of the word, and became the homeless people on the street. It’s no coincidence that the decline in California’s mental health institution population closely matched the sharp increase of homeless (in California, at least) during the same period. In fact, for about two years, my wife literally was on a first name basis with every homeless person we ran across in the Westwood/Santa Monica area. They were all former patients who had been ‘sprung’ from the VA by well meaning advocate groups who then simply walked away and left these guys hanging.

Reagan was not involved in this movement, nor was he a symptom or symbolic of it. Quite the contrary. The people who ‘liberated’ the inmates tended to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum. In fact, it was the ACLU who provided legal representation to force the VA to release these patients.

G.I. Joe responded to a previous comment:

Originally posted by Jason Threadslayer:
Also, since the 1960s and 1970s, it is generally illegal to forcibly treat the mentally ill.

Yeah, there are many provisions intended to protect both the patients and the doctors, but it makes the system very complicated. For instance, in order to involuntarily medicate an institutionalized psychiatric patient it requires a ‘Riese Hearing’ (in California), which is administrated by the court system. The patient gets a deputy public defender to represent him and the whole nine yards. So . . . it is not unusual that a patient has been institutionalized against his will as a result of a court order, but at the same time he can win court authority to refuse treatment (at least treatment via psychotropic medication).

It’s a complicated issue and determining right and wrong and what is best for the patient is not at all easy.

“Life is complicated. So you have to look out for the less complicated things.” ~ from some of the last words of a young man’s grandfather [thank you for sharing his final thoughts].

So we see that this issue, as encapsulated by the Left, is wrong. It is a straw-man, in other words, they define their proposition as a historical fact (wrongly), and then tear it down. The only problem is that they present an unhistorical case and feel like they are justified in their hatred for Reagan by making a fool out of themselves. The ACLU was the main catalyst behind fighting for the rights of these people to be free, even the freedom to live in alleyways and eat from trash cans. Anything but a conservative or Republican institution, they were one of the main thrusts behind both California and later a nationwide release of patients.  They [the ACLU], have long held that involuntary institutionalization of an unwilling person, even if mentally or physically incapable, is the worst of two evils. Not to mention that many times since the 1970’s Democrats have controlled both houses and the governorship of California, the questions has been raised, why didn’t the Democrats re-institutionalize these people?

A question I suspect is entwined in the complexity of how these people were actually released, versus merely a politician waving his or her wand. in other words the Democrats hands were just as tied (actually more-so) as the Republicans hands because the genesis of the movement for patient rights was not political. Not to mention that this myth serves Democrats and Liberals well… they wouldn’t want to change this “silver bullet,” or what they wrongly presume is one.

4. Sarah Palin Kills…. Wolves

Before entering the odd conspiratorial and religious parts of the conversation, we should end the political aspect of this portion of the conversation with his hatred for Sarah Palin. The reason for this disdain, he said, is because he is an environmentalist and that “she shot 17 wolves.” Included in his reasoning was her policy on the matter of Alaska offering a bounty to cull the wolf population. His vitriol is very similar to this:

The earth, in Palin’s view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to he taken and plundered… Sarah Pal in does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill forty caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air… If the polar bears don’t move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected, then consider” Palin’s support for oil drilling. “I think of teeth when I think of drills,” the author continued. “I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.” (Taken from The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star)

Again, Michael’s animated hatred was present when he talked of her, similar to when speaking of Reagan. Part of this is that the hunters were payed $150 bounty on the wolves. Partially true. For instance, this is implicitly referenced in a Slate article on the topic:

Back in the 1950s, Alaska paid government employees and bounty hunters to take out thousands of wolves, but today’s aerial wolf killers are unpaid. (They can make some money by selling the wolf pelts.) Palin tried last year to have the state pay $150 for every wolf killed, but the state superior court shot that down as an illegal use of bounty payments, which were outlawed in that state in 1984.

Take note also that the cost of helicopter hunting of wolves is very expensive, so this form of hunting (shooting from the chopper) was/is rare. Hunters typically drive in and-or hike to the hunting area. Some can afford to be helicoptered into and dropped off in an area. But the story of mass wolf shootings by helicopter is just a myth. Also note that I couldn’t find anywhere a number given for Sarah Palin hunting of wolves. In fact, if she did kill a wolf in a hunting trip, I cannot even find that. That being said, the Lefts opening up of Sarah Palin’s emails backfired in every account, even this wolf myth. The left like to say she “championed aerial hunting,” however, this is not the case. For instance, here is one email on the above topic from Sarah Palin… Stuff:

The governor told her fish and game commissioner in blunt terms that she opposed using state helicopters to hunt wolves and preferred paying private hunters.

“We have to act quickly on this as predators are acting quickly and rural families face ridiculous situation of being forced to import more beef instead of feeding their families our healthy staple of Alaskan game. Nonsense. Unacceptable – and not on my watch,” she said.

Her source of information? “Todd interviewed buddies who live out there… Some confirmation that state intervention isn’t first choice w/the locals,” Palin said.”We need to incentivize here,” including providing money for trappers.

Again, the narrative received from Michael just did not stand up to the facts.

5. New World Order

Alright, let’s switch gears a bit and enter into Michael’s views on the New World Order (NWO) conspiracies, black helicopters (yes, he believes one was getting ready to come grab him, as you will see), and religion. In our previous conversation about reasons for disliking Ron Paul it was mentioned by myself that Ron Paul had some conspiratorial views, like the New World Order. He retorted that the NWO is a fact, and he knows a server at the Bilderbergers compound, therefore, he [Michael] knows the truth… end of story. Sharing with him a bit about my previously held beliefs and my affinity to such theories even going as far as involving myself with the John Birch Society in the mid to late 90’s. Continuing, I explained three “events” that caused me to question these beliefs and spurred me to really investigate these claims, references, and quotes so often used with these theories.

My eventual shift in thinking were spurred by an article in the New American article (the magazine of the John Birch Society) blaming the Oklahoma bombing on the U.S. Government; the failure of predictions made about Y2K from many I listened to; and listening to radio talk show host Michael Medved’s “Conspiracy Show” where for one day each month he takes calls only from those who believe in conspiracies. These three things caused me to compare and contrast the positions previously accepted as fact. After a couple of years of wrestling with position after position, I eventually gave up my thinking on the NWO and embraced true history.

6. Black Helicopters and FEMA Gulags

This talk led to Michael positing that gulags exist in America. How did he prove this to me? By an anecdotal story of course. He told me a story where he called some representatives/senators about why it is important to control the border. He says he talked to someone from Diane Feinstein’s office. After a fruitless conversation with someone from her office he said he ended the conversation with a retort that he didn’t mean, but that nonetheless caused a call from a local Sheriff to where he lived within minutes of ending his call with Diane Feinstein’s office. Being that this Sheriff was a fellow Freemason (more on this later), he told Michael to hold on after hearing his explanation. When this Sheriff got back on the line with him he said the pick up was called off. Michael said he inquired with his fellow Mason what he meant, to which he was told that a black helicopter was dispatched from Langley to come get him and take him to a gulag, but was now called off. Granted portions of this story may be true, like when the person from Feinstein’s office called him a racist for wanting to control the border, but I think he added much to it. This happens with many a person, they tell a story and twist the truth here and there, however, with some this form of embellishment becomes habitual. I could see that Michael lived a life unchecked by truth (John 8:32). That being said, he was merely offering unproved, personal information as an anecdote to jump into the larger point that gulags exist. He didn’t offer any information that anyone outside his head could take and use to make a choice with. It was all emotive.

The following topic I did not deal at the time, so I will here in the hoped Michael reads this at some point.

A lot of this thinking revolves around crazy conspiracy stories pushed by people like Alex Jones in regards to FEMA Camps/gulags, coffin liners, and black helicopters. Popular Mechanics (PM) has a great article debunking this conspiracy story. And the video to the right is Glenn Beck talking about the debunking PM gave this theory. Likewise, there is a good short video debunking the supposed coffins that are part of this theory as well. What interested me was that he was a Freemason. In fact, in the photo of him and I you can see a pin of the Masonic symbol just over my left shoulder (click to enlarge). At one point during our conspiracy discussion he rejected the claim that the Masons are part of any conspiracy for “world domination.” Mind you he was just telling me that the Bilderbergers, the Council of Foreign Relations, and the like are out for world domination. “What justification do you have to make this distinction,” I asked. He moved on to other subjects.

Freemasonry is said to be a modern evolution of the Illuminati, and so, would be an older extension of this conspiracy thesis. His rejection of one aspect of the same conspiracy theory and acceptance of another portion of it, then, must be based on emotional reasons: he is a member of one and not of the other.

We did talk about religion[s], which led to a sub-extension of the conspiracy portion of the discussion. I explained to him that Freemasonry is really a modern form of gnosticism, I intimated — not too well — this post on the matter, which I have wanted to import here to RPT — why not now, at least in part:

7. What “is” Freemasonry?

(Original Post) Below is a scan from page 567 of my copy of Morals and Dogma. What you have here is an example of Gnostic thinking on spirit-material dualism; Freemasons are merely modern day Gnostics. Roles are reversed in comparison to how historic Christianity has viewed them since its inception. I will explain, but first look at page 567 (click on it to enlarge):

So let’s get into the meat of the matter. Gnostic thinking is a combination of Judaism, Platonism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. (By-the-by, the below is much to do with a professor’s input I had, Dr. Wayne House.)

Judaism – early Gnostics followed the thinking of Marcian, and Marcian taught that the God of the Old Testament was a demiurge. A demiurge would be what we would typically call the “devil.” Since anything 100% spirit is “good,” anything material is “bad.” So the God of the Old Testament created the world, which is material, and so this God is the Gnostic’s mortal enemy (pun intended). So Judaic thought and Judaism’s God is what Gnostics are “fighting” against. This is Judaism’s contribution.

Platonism – plutonic thought is basically the codifying of Hindu thinking into Grecian thought. He taught that innate ideas (that is: existing in one from birth; inborn; native) were the ideas the mind beheld in the world of pure Forms before birth. This world, then, is but a shadow of reality… pure spirit. This is Platonic contribution to Gnostic thinking.

An aside here for clarity of thought. Platonic thinking shares a point in common with Gnostic thinking, so you could be a Platonist and not a Gnostic. You couldn’t be, however, a Gnostic without being a Platonist. This is important because many “scholars” get this concept mixed up when describing the points of contact between Gnostic thinking and Christianity. Okay, on we go.

Zoroastrianism – Zoroastic thought has contributed what is called ethical dualism. It has said that there is a battle between good and evil, light and dark. Its addition to this is that anything material in nature is evil, and anything spiritual is good.

Christianity – Christian theology provided a “vehicle” in which to express the above. It is then, the “vehicle of expression” for Gnostics. Jesus becomes the way in which they Gnostics explain the working of impersonal deity in human existence and the offering of salvation through secret knowledge, or, Gnosis. Gnosis means knowledge of spiritual matters; mystical knowledge.

Gnostic’s, then, only have a complete “system of thought” when they combine all four of these major aspects into their thinking. If their thinking were to lack any one of these, they would cease to be Gnostic. The combining of the major aspects of these four lines thought, then, make up the Gnostic “worldview.” What do Gnostics believe then? I will explain a bit more in this crude drawing taken during notes from a class at seminary. one should note as well that “Eon” should be spelled “Aeon.”:

Much like Eastern philosophy, there is an impersonal spirit which is 100% spirit. Brahma as it is referred to in Hindu thought. Out of this impersonal force emanated “Eons.” These Eons were 99.9% spirit and .01% material, to put it layman terms. (Also, the percentages are not to explain exactly what Gnostic’s believe, I am just using these numbers as examples to get the analogy across.) These less impersonal, or more corrupted Eons, created other Eons who themselves were more deficient in their spirit/matter balance. Until finally you have very “diluted” beings. One diluted being — referred to as a “Demiurge,” what we would sometimes call the “Devil” — created our world. He also created smaller more diluted beings called “Archons.” These archons would be what we view as demons; Gnostics would say Paul referred to them in Ephesians 6:12 when he said:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Jesus comes into the picture as an Aeon who has a higher percentage of spirit left and sneaks past the demiurge and the archons and enters our world. He is “born,” not physically, but is an ethereal image of mankind (hard to explain) to point the way to a saving knowledge that is secret or hidden.

Freemasons are the most modern day representation of Gnostics; they have symbols that as you climb to higher degrees become clearer in their real meaning and are explained more-so as you climb this “knowledge ladder.” Secret handshakes, elaborate rituals and secrecy until finally at the 33rd-degree you are presented with a true understanding (a Gnostic one) of reality and “God.”

From three separate Mason’s saying each part of the name of God, “Ja-bul-on,” to the meaning of the dot or “G” in the square and compass symbol. All these serve as layers for the initiates to come to realize that this material world is evil.

The Gnostics and hence, Masons, believe that there is a war going on with the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. As this thinking has progressed throughout history it has adopted other philosophies and has become more and more convoluted in its history and thinking. The New Age, much of your occultism, cults, and even Christianity (Trinity Broadcasting Network for instance) has been influenced by this thinking in one way or another. From Madam Blavatsky and her influence on Germany’s occultism that led to the Aryan philosophy of Hitler to Benny Hinn’s healing crusades.

All sorts of writers, especially conspiratorial writers, have had a plethora of facts to misuse and misrepresent and to twist to their own agendas. Their agenda have resulted in many people believing that “secret societies” control both parties and were behind the Twin Towers so they could implement a world government. This view that combines, “sun” worship from the ancient Egyptians to the Illuninati, from the Knights Templars and Rosicrucians, to today’s Skull and Bones and Council on Foreign Relations ~ is defunct mainly due to the lack of understanding gnosis and the philosophy that has driven it.

(Read More)

8. “Religion” Defined

He did ask me to define “religion,” not being able to recall a decent definition then, I do so here:

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines religion as “a specific system of belief, worship, often involving a code of ethics.” Faith is defined as “unquestioning belief… complete trust or confidence… loyalty.”

Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary has this to say about religion, “The beliefs, attitudes, emotions, behavior, etc., constituting man’s relationship with the powers and principles of the universe.” On the matter of faith it says, “Confidence in or dependence on a person, statement, or thing as trustworthy… Belief without need of certain proof.”

Atheism, Taoism, and other non-god beliefs, like Buddhism, fit into this definition. I explained my relational position with God was more personal than the cut n’ paste definition.

9. Priests Molesting Kids

Of course during the conversation Michael brought up all the deaths associated with Catholicism, and the molestations associated with the Catholic church. I responded quite well in conversation on this topic. First let me speak to the portion we discussed on molestation/rape.

Using his logic, dentistry, counseling, teaching, and the like are evil. They drive the person to do such acts. The N.E.A. (National Teachers Association) and school district/union even ship the guilty party from district to district, much like the priest. Does that mean education is evil? He thought religion was evil with this example. Having dealt with this in the past — this would be a perfect place to re-post a response to this charge:

(From a cataloged discussion)

Sean, no one was lost at the Burlington Coat Factory (where the COMMUNITY CENTER, not “mosque” will be based). If we are to follow your logic, I guess no Catholic churches should be located within a few blocks of daycare centers, no? Anyway, I am a New Yorker and I also realize polls can be made to indicate almost anything. Most of the people I know think it is more important to hold up sacred tenants of our constitution than to cave in to very misguided xenophobia. There have been a LOT of people bussed in to protest and the anti-Islamic rhetoric is very damaging. http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/08/25/cab_stabbing_update/index.html

Thanks Nora for hopping into this conversation. This can be an emotional topic, so know that even though I cannot see your facial expressions, hear concern, humor, or consternation in your tone — I afford you the best of intentions. I do wish to, however, point out some mistakes in your thinking. I may take a post or two to do so as I respect where you are coming from… so bear with me. FIRST POINT, there will be a mosque in the community center. In fact, it will be the top two floors and be tall enough to view the site of the Twin-Towers. That’s number one.

NUMBER TWO, I wish to discuss this issue of molestation by priests that you intimated about.

School counselors, dentists, Buddhist monks, foster parents, and the like — all have abused children. Men who are pedophiles look for positions of AUTHORITY OVER [*not yelling, emphasizing*] children that afford MOMENTS OF PRIVACY with these same children. Dentists do not violate children or women in the name of dentistry. Buddhists monks do not sodomize children in the name of Siddhartha. School counselors in the name of psychology, foster parents in the name of Dr. Spock, etc, … you get the point.  Likewise, priests do not violate children in the name of Christ.

In other words, would Columbia University have to stop teaching about education because the N.E.A. shuffles around rapists and child predators? The argument is a non-sequitur designed merely to stir up feelings of animosity and then direct them towards an entirely different subject. There tends to be a blurring of subject/object distinction on the professional left. Here is a short list of what I alluded to above:


A woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a monk at a Theravada Buddhist temple in Chicago holds her 11-year-old daughter, who was conceived, according to her mother, during the assaults. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune / July 24, 2011)


1) Religious News Online reports from an original India Times article, another source that cites this is Child Rights Sri Lanka:

Two Buddhist monks and eight other men were arrested on Wednesday, accused of sexually abusing 11 children orphaned by the island’s 19-year civil war, an official said.

Investigations revealed that the children, aged between nine and 13, had been sexually abused over a period of time at an orphanage where the men worked, said Prof. Harendra de Silva, head of the National Child Protection Authority….

2) Washington County Sheriff’s Office Media Information reported the following:

Mr. Tripp was arrested for sexually abusing a former 15-year-old foster care child.

The investigation started when the Oregon Department of Human Services was contacted by a school counselor who learned that there may be sexual abuse involving a student and Mr. Tripp. DHS workers then contacted Sheriff’s Detectives who took over the investigation.

Detectives learned that Mr. Tripp has been a foster parent since 1995 and has had at least 90 children placed in his home during that time. Sheriff’s Detectives are concerned that there may be more victims who have not yet reported sexual contact involving Mr. Tripp….

3) A therapist who worked at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore was arrested in Catonsville and charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

Robert J. Stoever, 54, of the 1500 block of Park Ave. was arrested Sunday night after a county police officer saw him and the boy in a car in a parking lot at Edmondson Avenue and Academy Road, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a police spokesman.

Stoever was charged with a second-degree sex offense and perverted practice, according to court documents. He was sent to the Baltimore County Detention Center, Hill said….

4) A Bronx dentist was arrested yesterday on charges that he twice raped a 16-year-old patient whom he had placed under anesthesia during an office visit on Thursday, police said.

The girl, a patient of the dentist for several years, was hired for a summer job as his receptionist on Thursday, and had an appointment with him for treatment that afternoon, said Lieut. Hazel Stewart, commander of the Bronx Special Victims Squad.

[….]

“She went in and she changed into a little uniform that he gave to her, and he gave her some files to work on,” the lieutenant said. “Then he said that it was time to take a look at her teeth.”

At that point, Lieutenant Stewart said, “he used some type of anesthesia on her and he allegedly raped her.”

The young woman told officers that she was never fully anesthetized, Lieutenant Stewart said, but that “the effects of the anesthesia were strong enough to render her helpless to such a degree that he was able to rape her again.”

These folks that commit these crimes are atheists, Christians, Buddhists (which are epistemologically speaking, atheists), and every other ideology and from every stripe of life and culture in the world. Thus, the argument is as strong as this:

There have been many cases of dentists molesting and raping children, therefore, dentists cannot take moral positions on secular society.

The conclusion just doesn’t follow the premise.

There have been many cases of priests molesting and raping children, therefore, the Pope (insert Catholic here) cannot take moral positions on secular society.

In the case of religious comparisons, you would have to isolate the founders and their lives in order to properly judge a belief, not the followers. I would engender the reader to consider well this quote by Robert Hume:

The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strong-minded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshipped, even with multitudinous idols.

All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances.

Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.

The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.

Also see: “Love”

10. What About the Crusades?

[See my new post on the Crusades]

Michael’s bad thinking just isn’t him, it is a large portion of society that base important positions on emotion (they want to believe it), on hearsay (hear it from somebody), or bias, or: all of the above! Michael is merely living out societal ignorance. I can’t blame him, but I was surprised at how many of these mantras and myths he could back into a few short sentences. The other issue we talked about was violence done in the name of the Church. I intimated that according to the World Book Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica that the total historically known deaths from the Crusades (all 7), was about 40,000. It may have been horrible and wrong I told him, but the Christ doesn’t teach this. In contradistinction, when Nietzsche prophesied that the death of God would produce a bloody 20th century, he was right. Non-God movements in the 20th century alone killed over 166-million people. I continued the discussion using two books for examples: Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, and, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion. I contrasted religious views of violence and those of evolutionary standards. The Church had a reference point to return to, the non-religious person as well has a point to return to. I explained to Michael that Hitler in Mein Kampf explained this “point” well:

“The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy (New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942), pp. 161-162.

“I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality…. We will train young people before whom the world will tremble. I want young people capable of violence — imperious, relentless and cruel.”

Adolf Hitler, A sign of his quote hangs on the wall at Auschwitz; Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, p. 23.

In fact, current day biologist, Richard Dawkins agrees:

“What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.” (Stated during an interview with Larry Taunton, “Richard Dawkins: The Atheist Evangelist,” by Faith Magazine, Issue Number 18, December 2007)

If evolution is true in its natural philosophical sense, then the highest moral plain (if you can call it that) would be survival of the fittest. At some point in our evolutionary past it may have been necessary for the stronger male species to forcibly dominate the weaker female species in order for our “kind” to survive. Rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success (The Natural History of Rape, p.p., 71, 163; referenced on page 7 of my chapter on natural law and homosexuality.)  At some point in our evolutionary future it may become again the only way for our species to survive (since without the theistic God rape is only currently taboo, socially speaking). This was the only time I became animated, and I did so knowingly to try and drive my point home, and the point is simple:

The Bible does not teach the horrible practices that some have committed in its name. It is true that it’s possible that religion can produce evil, and generally when we look closer at the details it produces evil because the individual people [Christians] are actually living in rejection of the tenets of Christianity and a rejection of the God that they are supposed to be following. So it [religion] can produce evil, but the historical fact is that outright rejection of God and institutionalizing of atheism (non-religious practices) actually does produce evil on incredible levels. We’re talking about tens of millions of people as a result of the rejection of God. For example: the Inquisitions, Crusades, Salem Witch Trials killed about anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 persons combined (World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Americana), and the church is liable for the unjustified murder of about (taking the high number here) 300,000-women over about a 300 year period. A blight on Christianity? Certainty. Something wrong? Dismally wrong. A tragedy? Of course. Millions and millions of people killed? No. The numbers are tragic, but pale in comparison to the statistics of what non-religious criminals have committed); the Chinese regime of Mao Tse Tung, 60 million [+] dead (1945-1965), Stalin and Khrushchev, 66 million dead (USSR 1917-1959), Khmer Rouge (Cambodia 1975-1979) and Pol Pot, one-third of the populations dead, etc, etc. The difference here is that these non-God movements are merely living out their worldview, the struggle for power, survival of the fittest and all that, no evolutionary/naturalistic natural law is being violated in other words (as non-theists reduce everything to natural law — materialism). However, and this is key, when people have misused the Christian religion for personal gain, they are in direct violation to what Christ taught, as well as Natural Law.

In other words, if one rejects Christianity for the violence it has committed against its principles, how much more should you reject non-faith for living up to its?

11. Was There a Reason for the Crusades?

Of course even this response doesn’t explain the reasoning behind why the Church went to battle to begin with. The Crusades were a mandatory action, and since the church was the only real organization in that day to see the threat and to sound the alarm bells, the net good caused by the Church’s actions — even if wrong decisions and actions took place during this conflict — is commendable. For instance, I critiqued geneticist Francis Collins position (in his book) on religion and evil for a college paper, which a portion of is below:

…Not to mention that just saying the Crusades were wrong is almost juvenile. Robert Spencer talks a bit about the lead up to Christendom finally responding — rightly at first, woefully latter.

The Third Crusade (1188-1192). This crusade was proclaimed by Pope Gregory VIII in the wake of Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Crusader forces of Hattin in 1187. This venture failed to retake Jerusalem, but it did strengthen Outremer, the crusader state that stretched along the coast of the Levant.[1]

The almost Political Correct myth is that the crusades were an unprovoked attack by Europe against the Islamic world.[2] I can see with quoting Tillich and Bonhoeffer, although worthy men to quote, they are typically favorites of the religious left. Robert Schuller and Desmond Tutu on the back of the cover of Collins first edition are also dead give a ways. So PC thought is entrenched in Collins general outlook on religion and life. Continuing:

The conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood as the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution. A few examples: Early in the eighth century, sixty Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around the same time, the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies – except for a small number who converted to Islam; and Muslims demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn’t pay. Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the anti-religious tax (jizya) that Christians had to pay and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction to others, even their own children.

Brutal subordinations and violence became the rules of the day for Christians in the Holy Land. In 772, the caliph al-Mansur ordered the hands of Christians and Jews in Jerusalem to be stamped with a distinctive symbol. Conversions to Christianity were dealt with particularly harshly. In 789, Muslims beheaded a monk who had converted from Islam and plundered the Bethlehem monastery of Saint Theodosius, killing many more monks. Other monasteries in the region suffered the same fate. Early in the ninth century, the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled to Constantinople and other Christians cities. More persecutions in 923 saw additional churches destroyed, and in 937, Muslims went on a Palm Sunday rampage in Jerusalem, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.[3]

One person (my pastor) said to paint a picture of the crusaders in a single year in history is like showing photos and video of Hitler hugging children and receiving flowers from them and then showing photos and video of the Allies attacking the German army. It completely forgets what Hitler and Germany had done prior.


[1] Robert Spencer, The Politically Correct Guide to Islam and the Crusades (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2005), 147-148.
[2]
Ibid., 122.
[3]
Ibid., 122-123.

12. Conclusion

One can see that the narrative that Mr. Berryman was speaking from is even flawed from its foundation. The liberal thinks the “big, bad corporate church” went over and started slaughtering people minding their own business. Nope. So the net good that came out of those actions is why Michael is not forced to his knees five times a day. I bet you Mr. Berryman would be floored to realize that only 2,000 or so people were killed directly because of the Spanish Inquisition! This is not an anecdotal story, but referenced in one of the leading historians of Spain and the Inquisition’s book, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision.

We talked about other issues and I can respond to them as well, but these are the main topics I touched on with him and expanded a bit here for the reader to use as examples of some responses to the many straw man statements we often hear. If Michael contacts me after the “beating” he took above, this means he is a man’s man. Sometimes we have to swallow our pride and admit that maybe, just maybe, there is room to learn — and life offers opportunities in the people we meet to do so. Michael met one such opportunity. I would ask that if Michael read this that he consider reading my book. It answers some other issues he mentioned. For instance when I mentioned the Bible, he said “which Bible, there are many.” Or when I presented a few positive aspects of the Christian worldview verses the non-believers. All that can be found in my book: Worldviews: A Click Away from Binary Collisions (Religio-Political Apologetics) The whole encounter was congenial for the most part. We left on good terms and I would be more than happy to sit down with him and have a beer.