Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Do U.S. Citizens Feel Guilty For What Happened To Native Americans?

[H/T Mark]

Mark sent me an
interesting link the other day via email about Obama giving tribal people the option of buying back their land from the United States. Even after reading the link, I was a little confused about the hows and whys of this whole situation. I know that our forefathers did "take" this land from the Native Americans and honestly, I do feel bad about how all of that happened. Some people that came over here did brutalize the Native Americans, but others did have peaceful encounters so don't commit a fallacy when talking about the origins of our country.

An interesting conversation resulted from my questions to Mark.

I asked:

So, the way I'm understanding this is that tribal people will buy back land and then clear out the buildings and such to live like third-worlders? I'm pretty sure I'm not understanding the purpose of tribal people buying back their land. If I do understand correctly, there are reservations for tribes and also, wouldn't you agree that probably 99% of "tribal" people enjoy being a U.S. citizen? I would like to know your thoughts about the article.

His response:

Well, some Tribal people enjoy being U.S. Citizens, but like conservatives are learning, they already learned, it comes with a price. As the liberals railroad education, and take away teaching U.S. History, and the Constitution, Tribal People had their history taken from them, their way of life, to make them, more like 'us'. They would like to keep some of their old ways, and pass along a very proud heritage to their young, but are prevented from doing so, and that is unfair to them. We lied to them, made treaties with the Western Tribes, while pushing them off their lands, and then making them second class citizens. Even now the Tribal People are almost all in poverty, except those that were able to open Casino's in order to make money, but even then, their 'partners' in the casinos and Uncle Sam get part of their profits, and they don't get all they should.

We as a nation should carry more guilt about what we did to the Native Americans then we should over slavery, as yes, we bought the slaves, but we didn't capture them, their own people did that to them, not us, we were just the end users.

As for the idea of addressing their grievances and selling them back land, I think it is a bad one. The land they would 'get to buy back' will have no value to US and will leave a bad taste in their mouths for the dealings with the government. So no, don't do it, but find a way of making things right for the past injustices. Take the money that we spent in Iraq and spend it on the tribes, giving them better health care and education, that also involves their own customs and history, and allowing them to be proud again.

I think I agree with Mark that we as a nation don't care as much as we should about how some of our ancestors treated the Native Americans; there was a lot of bloodshed. Of course, mankind's history is filled with bloodshed, I just wish, overall, that our ancestors' encounters with the Native Americans could have been more peaceful.

Do you think our nation carries plenty of guilt for what happened to the Native Americans? Or should our nation carry more?

Read the original article by clicking here.

Read Mark's posts on my blog:

What is a democrat?

Church and State

Glee, God, and Unsupported Faith

Spending our way to a better economy?

Personal responsibility, compromise, and failure

Know what you believe

Monday, December 27, 2010

Are Conservatives Unchartible Tightwads?

According to recent studies, conservatives give more to charities than liberals do, 30% more to be exact. Now, that's odd huh? If I'm correct, conservatives are the ones that don't like the redistribution of wealth, so shouldn't that mean they are tight with money and scrooge-like? Hardly, but that's what liberals want you to think. Redistribution of wealth is not charity, it's not giving; it's stealing and shouldn't be done. Ann Coulter's latest article from Human Events explains the results from the latest study on giving by conservatives and liberals.

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks' study of charitable giving in America found that conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than liberals do, despite the fact that liberals have higher incomes than conservatives.

In his book "Who Really Cares?" Brooks compared the charitable donations of religious conservatives, secular liberals, secular conservatives and "religious" liberals.
His surprising conclusion was ... Al Franken gave the most of all! Ha ha! Just kidding.

Religious conservatives, the largest group at about 20 percent of the population, gave the most to charity -- $2,367 per year, compared with $1,347 for the country at large.
Even when it comes to purely secular charities, religious conservatives give more than other Americans, which is surprising because liberals specialize in "charities" that give them a direct benefit, such as the ballet or their children's elite private schools. Indeed, religious people, Brooks says, "are more charitable in every measurable nonreligious way."

Brooks found that conservatives donate more in time, services and even blood than other Americans, noting that if liberals and moderates gave as much blood as conservatives do, the blood supply would increase by about 45 percent.
They ought to set up blood banks at tea parties.

On average, a person who attends religious services and does not believe in the redistribution of income will give away 100 times more -- and 50 times more to secular charities -- than a person who does not attend religious services and strongly believes in the redistribution of income.

Secular liberals, the second largest group coming in at 10 percent of the population, were the whitest and richest of the four groups. (Some of you may also know them as "insufferable blowhards.") These "bleeding-heart tightwads," as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls them, were the second stingiest, just behind secular conservatives, who are mostly young, poor, cranky white guys.

Despite their wealth and advantages, secular liberals give to charity at a rate of 9 percent less than all Americans and 19 percent less than religious conservatives. They were also "significantly less likely than the population average to return excess change mistakenly given to them by a cashier." (Count Nancy Pelosi's change carefully!)
Secular liberals are, however, 90 percent more likely to give sanctimonious Senate speeches demanding the forced redistribution of income. (That's up 7 percent from last year!)

I'm sure this study won't be aired on popular news broadcasts because it's fun to think that liberals are superior to conservatives in the area of "caring" for the poor and downtrodden, when in fact, it's conservatives that generally care more for the less fortunate. We (conservatives) are more interested in giving the less fortunate a hand-up not a hand-out.

You can read the rest of Ann's article (and you should) by clicking

*Note: the picture with this post shows the popular perception of a conservative republican from the eyes of liberals.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Evolution can't explain morality, a transcript article from Stand to Reason's blog, is a great read for those interested in morality. I read the article and I have to say (unsurprisingly) that I agree with Greg Koukl's position that evolution cannot explain morality. His main point summarized the argument well: If you argue that morality evolved, you may end up saying that one "ought" to be selfish.

Greg argues that since morality is prescriptive, not descriptive, the herd/evolutionary description of morality cannot work because that description does not engage the fundamental element of morality, which is: how we "ought" to behave. What is the herd morality? I've covered it in some detail here. Greg's explanation is obviously the same, but he includes answers to common questions regarding morality "explained" by naturalistic causes:

"My basic point is this: what naturalists explain when they seek to explain morality in naturalistic, evolutionary terms is not morality at all. They are explaining something different. I get to that by asking a series of questions. Instead of looking backward, I look forward, and I ask a question of moral behavior like "Why ought anyone be unselfish in the future?" for example. The question came up yesterday regarding an observation that was done with chimpanzees. There was a group of chimpanzees which had, in a sense, punished one member for being selfish by withholding food from that member and therefore teaching that member moral behavior. Apparently, the moral rule that under-girded the lesson was that the other chimpanzee ought not be selfish. That's a moral statement and the question I'm going to ask is "Why ought the chimp (or human) not be selfish?" I'm looking for a justification there.

The answer is going to be that when we're selfish, it hurts the group. But you see, that answer isn't enough of an answer because that answer itself presumes another moral value that we ought to be concerned about the health of the group. So, I'm going to ask the question, "Why ought we be concerned about the health of the group?" The answer is going to be because if the groups don't survive, then the species doesn't survive. Then you can imagine the next question. "Why ought I care about the health of the species and whether the species survives or not?" You see, the problem with all of these responses that purport to be justifications or explanations for the moral rule, is that all of these things that are meant to explain the moral rule really depend themselves upon a moral rule before they can even be uttered. Therefore, it can't be the explanation of morality. When I ask the question "Why ought I be concerned with the species?", the next answer ends the series. The answer is, "I ought to be concerned with the species because if the species dies out, then I will not survive. If the species is in jeopardy, then my own personal self interests would be in jeopardy."

So, in abbreviated form, the reasoning goes like this: I ought to be unselfish because it is better for the group, which is better for the species, which is better for me. So why ought I be unselfish? Because it is better for me. But looking at what is better for me, is selfishness. So all of this so-called description of where morality comes from, gets reduced to this ludicrous statement: I morally ought to be unselfish so that I can be more thoroughly selfish. That is silly. Because we know that morality can't be reduced to selfishness. Why do we know that? Because our moral rules are against selfishness and for altruism. They are against selfishness and for the opposite. When you think about what it is that morality entails, you don't believe that morality is really about being selfish. Morality is about being unselfish, or at least it entails that. Which makes my point that this description, based on evolution, does not do the job. It doesn't explain what it is supposedly meant to explain. It doesn't explain morality. It is simply reduced to a promotion of selfishness which isn't morality at all"

Morality is selflessness not selfishness, which is something I believe everyone agrees on. Seemingly moral actions can be observed in animals, but ultimately, as Greg has made obvious, the herd morality is for selfish reasons and not for selfless reasons. Further, when an animal makes a seemingly moral action, it's not truly a moral action because animals are not held accountable to a moral lawgiver. Humans are held to a moral standard and that standard is God. When I make a moral action like, getting up out of my seat to let an older person sit down, I have nothing to gain from that action. I do not hope to get anything in return from the older person, nor do I hope to receive an award, it's simply a selfless action I know I ought to perform.

For further study on morality check out these other posts below.

Objective morals and Euthyprho's false dilemma

What is the basis of our values?

Moral argument for God part 3: the conscience

Friday, December 17, 2010

Theology of Christmas

Christmas is almost here so I thought I would share one of my favorite "Christmas" messages by John Macarthur entitled, The Theology of Christmas. John focuses on the incarnation of Jesus from Philippians chapter 2 for this Christmas message and it's a wonderful commentary on the passage. So, you can check out the transcript of the message here or watch the video below.

Enjoy! Also, if I don't make a blog post before Christmas arrives, merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Should you provide free IT consulting work?

At TechRepublic, I read an interesting blog post under the IT Consultant section that caught my eye: "Stop providing free IT consulting work." I thought about that for a second, read the post and then thought some more. I do IT work, sometimes, in addition to my full-time job and there have been times (very few) that I've done free work for people (mainly close friends). While I do agree with the main point of the article in regard to businesses, I think technicians that do consultant work on the side can offer a few free services. Let me explain.

The other day a friend of mine called me and asked me what this error message meant: "windows cannot start...blah blah." Well, I have worked on her computer before, so I was familiar with it, and I asked her the usual questions, "Have you installed any new hardware/software recently," so on and I found out she had Windows Updates set for automatic installation. From that, I knew that was the problem and I knew it would be a quick fix. So, I asked her to bring it to me (laptop) and I'll take care of it. It was fixed in less than 30 minutes. To me, that didn't warrant a fee because it was a babysit job and she was a friend.

If you're running a business that is your bread and butter, then no, free jobs shouldn't be given and customers shouldn't expect them. It doesn't make sense to give free services because then you would probably soon be unemployed. If you run an IT consultant business, I suggest you read the whole article because there are good tips for reducing free consulting. If you do IT work on the side for people, I think it's entirely OK to provide free services that are quick and easy to fix.

Here's an excerpt from the post:

People don’t call electricians and expect free step-by-step instruction regarding how to repair a failed ground or intermittent circuit. So why do they call IT consultants expecting such assistance? I wish I knew the answer to that question, because I can feel my blood pressure rising just recalling some of the requests clients, customers, and other callers have made.

Clients have asked my office to provide free telephone support for a wide variety of topics, which include:

  • Can’t you just walk me through this 17-step, 45-minute installation for free over the phone?
  • Just tell me the exact steps I need to follow to remove this Trojan infection.
  • Provide me with the 23 steps I need to follow to complete a complex, complicated task that requires expertise, experience, and proven knowledge to properly complete, but don’t bill me for it.
  • What do I need to click on or select when I get to that 14th screen, again?
  • I’m going to migrate all my old data myself, but what’s a .PST file, where do I find it, how do I reload it, and will it work with my new PC that doesn’t have office productivity installed?

These common calls increase stress and anxiety, but this madness doesn’t need to continue. While all IT consultancies should strive to assist clients, you must guard against providing service without compensation. If employees in my office lose just 15 minutes per day providing free support to callers, my office loses 625 hours (10 engineers times 15 minutes a day times 250 annual workdays) a year that would have otherwise been invested performing constructive tasks and assisting paying clients. That’s unacceptable and a disservice to those clients who do pay for the consultancy’ services.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Euthyphro Argument

Since the last post talked about the Euthyphro argument, I thought I would share this link to a Reasonable Faith Podcast (William Lane Craig's ministry) featuring William Lane Craig talking about the Euthyphro "Dilemma" and how to counter the argument. 
Reasonable Faith Podast, "Euthyphro Argument Revisited

Related Posts

Euthyphro's Dilemma Revisited

Objective morals and Euthyprho's false dilemma

Continuing the summary of Bill Craig's moral argument for the existence of God, I'll cover:
Objective Moral Duties Require God and The Euthyphro Dilemma.
These arguments are covered in much more detail in Craig's book On Guard

Objective Moral Duties Require God

If there is no God, what basis remains for objective moral duties? That's an excellent question! According to the naturalists' view, we are just animals, and we know that animals have no moral obligations to one another. Certainly, animals have shown moral actions toward one another, Craig doesn't deny that, but animals aren't morally obligated to one another. When a lion kills a zebra, it kills the zebra, but it doesn't murder the zebra. When a great white shark forcibly copulates with a female, it forcibly copulates with her but it does not rape her-for there is no moral dimension to these actions. They are neither prohibited nor obligatory. 1
So if God doesn't exist, why think that human beings have any moral obligations to one another? Who or what imposes these moral duties on us? Further, where do they come from? Without God, it would be difficult to see moral duties as "anything more than a subjective impression resulting from societal and parental conditioning."2
When asked what actions are morally wrong, one might think of rape and incest and one would be correct in thinking said actions are morally wrong. Of course, maybe those actions (rape and incest) just aren't biologically and socially advantageous to the structure of society and have just become taboo. That does nothing to show that rape and incest is wrong, it just shows that those actions are not beneficial to society. That kind of behavior is readily observable in the animal kingdom. Craig says, "The rapist who goes against the herd morality is doing nothing more serious than acting unfashionably, like the man who belches loudly at the dinner table. If there is no moral lawgiver, then there is no objective moral law that we must obey."3 Just like in the animal kingdom, there is no morally wrong action, just unfashionable actions. Without God, that's all we can say about the "unfashionable" actions done by humans. There is no right and wrong. 

Now, it must be made clear that "the moral argument asserts, not that belief in God is necessary for objective morality, but that the existence of God is necessary." 4 This is really important to understand so the argument can be effectively used. The theist is not saying that belief in God is necessary to act morally, but that the existence of God is necessary for objectivity of morality. Not all atheists are bad people, in fact, some are very benevolent. There are going to bad seeds in all camps of thought. 

"Again, the question is not: Can we recognize objective moral values and duties without believing in God? There's no reason to think that you have to believe in God in order to recognize that, e.g., we ought to love our children. 

Or again, the question is not: Can we formulate a system of ethics without referring to God? If the nonbeliever recognizes the intrinsic value of human beings, there's no reason to think he can't work out an ethical code of conduct that the believer will generally agree with.
Rather, the question is: If God does not exist, do objective moral values and duties exist? The question is not about the necessity of belief in God for objective morality but about the necessity of the existence of God for objective morality."5
The Euthyphro Dilemma

What is another response from unbelievers? It's called the Euthyphro Dilemma (named after a character in one of Plato's dialogues). The dilemma is: Is something good because God wills it? Or does God will something because it is good? This is a popular objection to the moral argument for God's existence. If you say something is good because God wills it, then that good becomes arbitrary. God could have willed that cheating is good or that hatred is good, etc. That doesn't work does it? If you say that God wills something because it is good, then that good becomes independent of God, which makes moral values and duties exist independently of God, which contradicts premise 1. 

How does Craig answer the Euthyphro dilemma? He says that "we don't need to refute either of the two horns of the dilemma because the dilemma is a false one: There's a third alternative, namely, God wills something because He is good...I mean God's own nature is the standard of goodness, and His commandments to us are expressions of His nature. In short, our moral duties are determined by the commands of a just and loving God."6
So according to Craig, moral values and duties don't exist independently of God because God's own character/nature defines what is good and those morals flow out of God's nature. When the atheist asks, "If God were to command spouse abuse, would we be obligated to abuse our spouses?" he's asking a question akin to "If there were married bachelors, who would the bachelor be married to?" There is no answer because the question is absurd. 

Craig assures us that the Euthyphro dilemma presents us with a false choice, and we shouldn't be tricked by it. "The morally good/bad is determined by God's nature, and the morally right/wrong is determined by His will. God wills something because He is good, and something is right because God wills it."7

1. William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), pg. 132
2. ibid, pg. 133
3. ibid, pg. 133
4. ibid, pg. 134
5. ibid, pg. 134
6. ibid, pg. 135
7. ibid, pg. 136

Common questions to this answer of Euthyphro's Dilemma are: How do we know God is good? How is his nature good? Wouldn't it be possible for murder and rape to be 'good' if God commanded it? 

Philosopher Ed Feser has an answer to the above questions. [h/t] Joe's comment on WK's blog post.

“Given the doctrine of the convertibility of the transcendentals, on which being is convertible with goodness, that which is Pure Actuality or Being Itself must ipso facto be Goodness Itself. Given the conception of evil as a privation – that is, as a failure to realize some potentiality – that which is Pure Actuality and therefore in no way potential cannot intelligibly be said to be in any way evil. Given the principle of proportionate causality, whatever good is in the world in a limited way must be in its cause in an eminent way, shorn of any of the imperfections that follow upon being a composite of act and potency. Since God is Pure Actuality, he cannot intelligibly be said either to have or to lack moral virtues or vices of the sort we exhibit when we succeed or fail to realize our various potentials. And so on. All of this is claimed to be a matter of metaphysical demonstration rather than probabilistic empirical theorizing, and the underlying metaphysical ideas form a complex interlocking network that is (as anyone familiar with Platonism or Aristotelianism realizes) motivated independently of the problem of evil or the question of God’s existence.” 

Read more by clicking here

Study objective moral values and duties further:

Do objective moral values and duties exist?

Euthyphro Argument

What is the basis of our values?

For more posts on morality click here.