Sunday, March 31, 2013

Paul on the resurrection of Jesus Christ

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

- Paul of Tarsus, first letter to the Corinthian church

Monday, March 25, 2013

Quote of the Week - Stephn T Davis on the Wrath of God

I think we ignore the concept of the wrath of God at our own cost. Indeed, I would argue for the radical proposition that our only hope as human beings is the wrath of God. (It is also true, of course, that our only hope is the grace of God, but that is another matter). The wrath of God shows that we do not live, as so many today suppose that we do, in a random and morally neutral universe. God’s wrath shows us that right and wrong are objectively real, they are to be discovered, not created. The wrath of God is our only hope because it teaches us the moral significance of our deeds and shows us how life is to be lived.

-Stephen T. Davis, Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1993), p. 166.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Mentionables: Morality, Politics, and other Stuff

Again, another week of light reading, but don't fear because these mentionables are worthy of mentioning for a reason: their awesomeness.

The New Moral Argument
Eight issues that do NOT make or break Christianity

Politics makes us worse

Why Richard Dawkins' humanists remind me of a religion 

Simple secular case against abortion

In a recent article by Jonah Goldberg, I read how one can't lump all the social issues together. Some people are pro-choice, yet pro-same-sex marriage and some are pro-life and against same-sex marriage, etc. He then went on to write about how he has become more pro-life and why.

Excerpt:

As for abortion, my migration has less to do with religious arguments and more to do with my growing distrust of the government. Who is and who isn't a human being with unalienable rights is just about the biggest question there is. And just because the answer is usually obvious -- that guy, not that fly -- only makes it more important.

The government has an obligation to protect the life and liberty of the subset of human beings we call "Americans." If you commit a crime that obligation changes, of course, since the government also has an obligation to protect the rest of us from those who would do us harm.

Well, I consider a fetus a human being. It has done no harm, nor has it committed a crime punishable by death. More important, I don't like it when governments start getting clever about who counts as full human beings and who doesn't (See: Slavery, U.S., or Holocaust, Nazi).

This is a simple case against abortion, but just because it's simple doesn't mean it's not effective or that it doesn't cause one to think about abortion harder. Usually secular cases against abortion deal a lot with scientific studies, arguments and philosophy. Not this one. Although, after thinking about it some more this simple argument does assume from the beginning that the fetus is a human being. If that is proven then the rest follows.

My case is simple too I think and favors Goldberg's.

If the fetus is a human being then the fetus has natural rights of life, liberty, and property that are to be respected by fellow human beings due to natural law. If the fetus is an American then those rights are protected by the government. Abortion violates the natural right of life of the human being who is in the womb of his mother. Therefore, abortion is wrong according to natural law and illegal according to civic law.

The question: is the fetus a human being?

Recommended reading
Is the unborn less than human?
A secular case against legalized abortion 

10 arguments in favor of pro-choice policy

Monday, March 18, 2013

Quote of the Week - Clifford Williams on existential need

"The ideal way to acquire faith in God is through both need and reason. . . . Need without reason is blind, but reason without need is sterile"
 
-- Clifford Williams, Existential Reasons for Belief in God: A Defense of Desires and Emotions for Faith, IVP Academic, 2011, pg.12 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Should government get out of the marriage business?

I've read two blog posts this morning that have really got me thinking. One is about Rand Paul's comments on government and marriage while the other is on marriage, children and the building blocks of society. Of course in both posts is the mention of homosexual marriage. Let's get started.

In the Red State post, Rand Paul is quoted for the following:

“I’m an old-fashioned traditionalist. I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage,” said Paul. “That being said, I’m not for eliminating contracts between adults. I think there are ways to make the tax code more neutral, so it doesn’t mention marriage. Then we don’t have to redefine what marriage is; we just don’t have marriage in the tax code.”

The classical liberal in me agrees with this full stop. I personally am convinced by the evidence (yes there is evidence, non-religious evidence) that marriage is between a man and a woman. I am. However, I honestly don't care, legally, if there are homosexual couples who want to join together in a contract that is recognized by the state. I also don't care if I see those couples in public. I don't think it's marriage. If we disagree then let's have a conversation. No need to be offended if someone doesn't agree with your position. This is my first thought and approach to the issue. There are problems from this though as the author the blog post dives into.

He wrote:

"On the specific Paul proposals: I’ve always thought it was silly to block simple legal contracts between consenting adults, but I think that can be accomplished without re-defining marriage.  The issue of tax-code treatment is more complex.  I think society has positive reasons to provide incentives for traditional marriage – to put it bluntly, a healthy, independent society needs a lot of long-lasting marriages between men and women, with a sizable percentage of them raising multiple children in stable households.  There just isn’t any substitute for that.  It’s a practical consideration, not a moral or religious judgment.

But I’m also receptive to the argument that the State subsidizes and punishes far too much private behavior.  Not enough people understand that subsidies are penalties for the people who don’t receive them.  If gay couples feel that way about preferential tax treatment granted to married men and women, it could be taken as an encouraging sign of progress.  We should make the tax code “neutral” in countless ways.  I don’t see why marriage should go first, but it definitely shouldn’t be the last.

Beyond these matters, the notion of extracting government from marriage runs into a couple of big problems.  Child custody is an obvious example.  Such matters are already difficult.  They would grow even more so, if the government played no role in certifying legitimate marriages.  The separation of law from marriage, until it becomes entirely a matter between private individuals, is more difficult to accomplish than the lovely libertarian simplicity of the idea implies."

I obviously didn't think through my weak position on the marriage debate. Yes, I understand the non-legal arguments for marriage, but I don't think I understood the problems of taking government out of the marriage issue. Aside from those problems, there is also the little sentence in the first mentioned paragraph: I think society has positive reasons to provide incentives for traditional marriage – to put it bluntly, a healthy, independent society needs a lot of long-lasting marriages between men and women, with a sizable percentage of them raising multiple children in stable households.This is something I haven't thought that much about either until recently. I've thought about this because my wife and I have been married for some years and haven't had any children. We keep saying we're just not ready financially. We think children are important for a family but I never thought about the building blocks of a society which is the family; well not just "the" family, but LOTS of families. This takes me to the other blog post I mentioned. The post is from Pyromaniacs.

Excerpt:

"Sitting around a table at a hookah bar in New York’s East Village with three women and a gay man, all of them in their 20s and 30s and all resolved to remain childless, a few things quickly became clear: First, for many younger Americans and especially those in cities, having children is no longer an obvious or inevitable choice. Second, many of those opting for childlessness have legitimate, if perhaps selfish, reasons for their decision.

...

While postfamilialism isn’t nearly as far along in the U.S., American marriage is faltering—and the baby is being thrown out with the bath water. Forty-four percent of millennials agree that marriage is becoming “obsolete.” And even among those who support tying the knot (including many of those who say it’s obsolete), just 41 percent say children are important for a marriage—down from 65 percent in 1990. It was the only factor to show a significant decline. ... On the flip side of the coin, the percentage of adults who disagreed with the contention that people without children “lead empty lives” has shot up, to 59 percent in 2002 from 39 percent in 1988.

...

In his provocative 2012 book Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, Eric Klinenberg writes that for the hip urban professionals who make up the so-called creative class, living alone represents a “more desirable state,” even “a sign of success and a mark of distinction, a way to gain freedom and experience the anonymity that can make city life so exhilarating.” Certainly, the number of singletons has skyrocketed: more than half of all adults today are single (a group that includes divorcĂ©es and widows and widowers), up from about one in five in 1950."

First of all, I agree with Frank Turk that it's mind-blowing a piece like this is published in Newsweek! Second, the stats are blowing me away too. When I first read it I thought: "Well, the West is in moral decline so this makes sense." From that thought I was on to other thoughts unrelated to the decline of child-bearing marriages. Then it hit me again after reading the blog post on Rand Paul's comments about government and marriage: families are the blood of the society. A society can't exist with a bunch of selfish (hey, it's selfish) individuals who aren't having and raising children. By raising children, no I don't mean throwing the kid(s) in front of the television while the parents are doing something else. I mean giving the children a moral education which is severely lacking in the family; heck, Allan Bloom wrote about it back in the eighties and it was a big problem then, just imagine how big of a problem it is now. We can point fingers all day at the cause of the problem and I know (trust me I do being an IT guy) it's important to find causes but for now I think we can see the problem with our society is a lack of concern for family and we should talk about it privately, publicly and think of some solutions.

As much as my convictions are aligned with Rand Paul, I can't help thinking that the consequences of going through with those convictions might support a lack of concern for the family unit which is essential to building a society. I love the West even with its growing moral problems I think it can be rescued. I guess I'm on the fence as to whether government should get out of the marriage business. Thoughts?

Sources
Newsweek: where have all the babies gone?

Rand Paul: Get the government out of marriage

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quote of the Week - Plato on Electing Men to Public Office

“In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill... we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.”
 

― Plato

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rand Paul's Filibuster


UPDATE: Lonely Conservative reports the following GOP senators ate dinner with Obama during the filibuster: In no particular order, those senators dining with Obama were John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Ron Johnson, Tom Coburn, Kelly Ayotte, Mike Johanns, Pat Toomey, Saxby Chambliss, John Hoeven, Dan Coates and Richard Burr.

Yesterday, history was made by Rand Paul and a few other senators to filibuster President Obama's nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan. He spoke for 13 hours yesterday.

Excerpt from the first hour transcript:

"I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan's nomination for the CIA I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in bowling green, Kentucky, is an abomination. It is something that should not and cannot be tolerated in our country. I don't rise to oppose John Brennan's nomination simply for the person. I rise today for the principle. The principle is one that as Americans we have fought long and hard for and to give up on that principle, to give up on the bill of rights, to give up on the Fifth Amendment protection that says that no person shall be held without due process, that no person shall be held for a capital offense without being indicted. This is a precious American tradition and something we should not give up on easily. They say Lewis Carroll is fiction. Alice never fell down a rabbit hole and the White Queen's caustic judgments are not really a threat to your security. Or has America the beautiful become Alice's wonderland? 'No, no, said the queen. Sentence first; verdict afterwards. Stuff and nonsense, Alice said widely - loudly. The idea of having the sentence first? 'Hold your tongue, said the queen, turning purple. I won't, said Alice. Release the drones, said the Queen, as she shouted at the top of her voice.

Lewis Carroll is fiction, right? When I asked the President, can you kill an American on American soil, it should have been an easy answer. It's an easy question. It should have been a resounding and unequivocal, "no." The President's response? He hasn't killed anyone yet. We're supposed to be comforted by that.

The President says, I haven't killed anyone yet. He goes on to say, and I have no intention of killing Americans. But I might. Is that enough? Are we satisfied by that? Are we so complacent with our rights that we would allow a President to say he might kill Americans? But he will judge the circumstances, he will be the sole arbiter, he will be the sole decider, he will be the executioner in chief if he sees fit. Now, some would say he would never do this. Many people give the President the - you know, they give him consideration, they say he's a good man. I'm not arguing he's not. What I'm arguing is that the law is there and set in place for the day when angels don't rule government. Madison said that the restraint on government was because government will not always be run by angels. This has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with whether the President is a Democrat or a Republican. Were this a Republican President, I'd be here saying exactly the same thing. No one person, no one politician should be allowed to judge the guilt, to charge an individual, to judge the guilt of an individual and to execute an individual. It goes against everything that we fundamentally believe in our country. "


You can read more of the transcripts for the other hours here

What were senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain doing? Read this from Red State:

Rand Paul has done a brilliant thing filibustering the President’s appointment to the CIA.

By keeping the filibuster going through prime time, Rand Paul forced ABC, CBS, and NBC — chief sources of news for low information voters — to cover the issue.

Along the way, Rand Paul had help giving him time to rest his voice. Ted Cruz came down a few hours in to give Paul a break. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran came in. Cruz read tweets in support of Paul.

Mark Kirk, who returned to the Senate a short while back after a very bad stroke, came in to support Rand Paul.

Even Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon joined in the filibuster.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham and John McCain went to eat dinner with the President. That speaks for itself.


The Blaze reports John Cusack as saying this during the filibuster: “where are Democrats?”

Breitbart reports that John Stewart stands with Rand Paul "He's using the filibuster in the way it's supposed to be used," Stewart cracked as the audience tittered nervously."

I'm proud of Rand Paul and those who backed him yesterday. It was a good day for freedom.

Check out Heritage's report and Cato's Game of Drones.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kierkegaard on Boredom


"Since boredom advances and boredom is the root of all evil, no wonder, then, that the world goes backwards, that evil spreads. This can be traced back to the very beginning of the world. The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings. Adam was bored because he was alone; therefore Eve was created. Since that moment, boredom entered the world and grew in quantity in exact proportion to the growth of population. Adam was bored alone; then Adam and Eve were bored en famille. After that, the population of the world increased and the nations were bored en masse. To amuse themselves, they hit upon the notion of building a tower so high that it would reach the sky. This notion is just as boring as the tower was high and is a terrible demonstration of how boredom had gained the upper hand. Then they were dispersed around the world, just as people now travel abroad, but they continued to be bored. And what consequences this boredom had: humankind stood tall and fell far, first through Eve, then from the Babylonian tower."

- Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part 1, Crop Rotation 

Through charming illustrations, the existential philosopher and Danish gadfly Soren Kierkegaard shows us the problem of boredom. Thoughts?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Quote of the Week - C.S. Lewis on Friendship

“In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, "Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Friday, March 1, 2013

Objections to Calvinism and the Moral Situation

Hey guys. It's been a great week for blog posts and discussion. I don't usually do a weekly "best of"stuff I've read in the blogosphere and commented on, but today I am because of the good discussion some of these posts brought and because of how good these posts are by themselves. Maybe I'll start doing something like it every week. We'll see. Anyway, these posts are hot. :)

Check out these posts. Especially you Tony-Allen.

From Wintery Knight blog
Jerry Walls Lectures on Objections to Calvinism
Mark D. Linville: The Moral Poverty of Evolutionary Naturalism

A View From the Right
Millions of Years of Disease in a 'Very Good' Creation (part1, read part 2 also)

Design of Providence
How to be Annoying in Online Discussions