Author Archives: pspruett
I saw this on Facebook today. I usually just scroll on by these kinds of “memes” because they are not really made to be serious, coherent arguments that are meant to change minds. This one, however, raised so many objections in my mind (and I had a little time to kill) that I couldn’t resist. Here were my thoughts about it.
Anything that is behavioral involves “choice,” even if it is just in the choice to affirm and act upon the desires that lead to those behaviors. So, for example, something like being human or being of the Asian race is not a choice, because these are not defined by behaviors, desires, or “orientations.” They are merely physical facts that would be true even if the person was a stillborn baby. On the other hand, having a particular sexual orientation is not something that is a physical, observable fact. It is a subjective preference of unclear origin, and which has even been demonstrated in many people to be fluid. So, the most one could possibly say is that a sexual preference itself was not a choice, but it is certainly a “choice” to celebrate and act upon that preference.
It is unfortunate that the best arguments against evolution require some hard work to make, or some knowledge of biochemistry. One of my own favorite arguments requires both. I think it’s a strong argument, and I’ve not seen much attempt to answer it in its complete form. I call it my “favorite,” not because I find it more interesting than all the others, but because it is quantifiable, can stand on its own, and if it is valid, then it provides an insurmountable problem for Darwinian theory.
Below, I will attempt to make the argument as simply, but completely, as possible. I’ll use 10 basic propositions, which I believe are, for the most part, quite uncontroversial. Below each point I’ll include some detail or justification, and I’ll provide links for further understanding or examples.
Here we go.
I posted this graphic on my Facebook page and asked for reactions. Many responded that Maya was referring to hating people. If pressed, she probably would have agreed with that, but these kinds of platitudes are seldom precise enough to stand on their own.
My initial thought was, “What about World War II and abolition?” It was our hatred for slavery and the Axis powers that solved these problems. And since you can’t have a Nazi or slavery without persons behind them, then there must be a certain sense in which this hatred (or righteous indignation) is directed at persons.
I once found an interesting post on an atheist message board. It was offered by one of the regulars (named “Gnomon”) in response to another atheist (named “Naturalist”) with which I and some other Christians had been debating, here. Naturalist seemed to be surprised that we Christians were using the language of logic and reason to make our points. The following are some excerpts from Gnomon’s reply to him, along with my observations.
Many posters on this forum seem to believe that Atheists are rational and Christians are irrational. Therefore, they are flabbergasted when they run across a Christian who is just as rational as the best Atheists. I think those rational posters are deceiving themselves, perhaps to boost their feeling of superiority to those “stupid Xians”.
The following are some of the core ideas upon which “conservative” economic policy is based, in my estimation. Most of these are fairly common-sense and uncontroversial. It seems to me that for one to reject Capitalism (for lack of a better word), then one must hold to some other principle(s) that override all of this. But in acting upon those overriding principles, one must manage the consequences of suppressing these principles. If one agrees with the majority of the following, then they may be a Capitalist at heart, or should at least be sympathetic to those who prefer Capitalism. That is, they should not find it a wicked and unreasonable economic system, which seems to be a popular sentiment in the West these days.
A few notes about this poll:
The group that sponsored this (Public Policy Polling) focuses on polls useful to the Democratic party. There are a number of polls I can think of that would be quite unflattering to Democrats, but you’d have to look elsewhere for something like that. And any pollster who would dare such a stunt would be written off as a hack organization by Democrats, who wouldn’t get past the bias to consider the results.
If asked whether you support bombing Agrabah, how would you respond if your only answers were “Yes,” “No,” and “Not Sure?” Certainly, many of these people knew it was fictional but they had to give some kind of answer. Given that the song about this place includes the line (in the original movie), “where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face,” I might well have answered “Yes” myself. Is saying that you would NOT bomb a fictional city any more ridiculous than saying “Yes” or “I don’t know?”
Here is a surprisingly good article, by today’s standards, from a secular publication that touts the virtues of tolerance as consistently applied. It regards Wheaton professor, Larycia Hawkins, who has gotten into trouble with this evangelical Christian college for showing her solidarity with Muslims on something of a theological level. What it doesn’t do, however, is touch upon the interesting question of what is so wrong with claiming that Christians and Muslims all worship the same God.
The problem is that “God” is simply a word, and words have meaning. The meanings of most words are pretty uncontroversial and agreed upon by all parties. Some are not as well defined, though. For instance, the meaning of the word “liberal” depends upon the country or historical time-frame to which one is referring. The definition of the word “God” is perhaps the most controversial of all, and is the very reason why there are different religions to begin with. Some take “God” to be the universe, or an impersonal force, or a physical being, or an immaterial person, or a plurality of beings. If “God” were a pitcher, then each religion fills it with a different fluid.
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Those who decry climate change “deniers” tend to lump them all into one group who reject the entire suite of concerns. In reality, it is far more complicated than that. The climate change controversy is made up of many separate, cascading propositions.
While climate alarmism appears to be premised upon the acceptance of the entire program, the “deniers” are a more diverse group that may reject, or merely be skeptical of, one or more points in the narrative. I believe it does a disservice to legitimate debate, at best, and is disingenuous, at worst, to overlook the many levels of questions that make up this issue.
Here are what I see as the high level breakdown of separate concerns in this debate.
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Try to argue with LGBT advocates and you will often find that their justifications sound a lot like bumper sticker slogans, and seldom go much deeper than that. This is partly due to the fact that they aren’t offered as rational justifications at all (as though their preferences in these matters were subject to reason), but as a conversation stopper. Even so, they deserve some response, but given the dismissive way these arguments are usually offered it may be in the interest of your time and their attention span to stick with terse replies.
Here, then, is a list of some of these bumper sticker “arguments,” along with some suggested bumper sticker responses.
- Since it could be said that everyone is born with something, then you seem to be implying that everything is okay.
- That’s a bold psychological claim. Can you prove it?
- How does that make it automatically good?
- Is it even remotely possible that it could be a defect?
- Some people are born without limbs. Are you saying they should celebrate that and not try to correct it in any way?
- Does that mean that if you weren’t actually born that way, it would be bad?
- A paedophile could make the same claim. What’s your point?
“I’m a speck standing on a speck orbiting a speck with a bunch of other specks in the middle of specklessness. I suck.” — Bill Nye
This is a commonly expressed sentiment among atheists, though seldom expressed so inarticulately. It seems to suggest that value is in a directly proportional relationship with size: the larger a thing the more valuable. But this seems obviously false.
Some things are more valuable by their very nature. A diamond is more “valuable” than a ton of gravel, and a baby is more precious than a star. In fact, humans have qualities that make them unique in the natural world: self-awareness. The largest objects in the universe do not think, or know they exist, or ponder their origins. On this measure of reckoning, humans have infinitely more value than the largest galactic cluster.