Sunday, April 27, 2008

Apologies to Poor Old Michael Finnegan

There was a man who studied finches, then
He wrote a book about their Origin,
Now we have the Theory of Evolution
This must make me a Charles Darwinian.

There was a man who served and once again,
He said “Twice is ‘nuff for President.”
I wave Bush Bye with a great big grin,
I am a proud George Washingtonian.

I once was riding on my brand new Schwinn,
I fell down and scrapped my shin again,
I didn’t float off into space expansionin’
‘Cause I am an Isaac Newtonian.

I ate a burger at a Bennigans’
Had no credit; My fate was very grim,
Lucky my wallet still had a couple fins
Happily they are Alex Hamiltonians.

I wrote this once; I’m writing once again,
My system monitor went all blue screenin’
Banged away with Control-Alt-Deletin’
Damn! I hate being Bill Gatesian.

I’m not so sure about this new labelin’
Just ‘Cause some person got to wonderin’
Times have changed; Ideas are improvin’
Yet I am still called a “Darwinian.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fired!

Jim Jordan asks a question:

If a scientist does a research project, publishes his data and then goes home and writes how it shows ID, [Intelligent Design] should he lose his job?


Of course, this depends on a variety of other facts not given in a one-sentence question, so let’s try some scenarios to flesh out the possibilities:

Scenario One

Bob works for EvoScience, Inc. They have a contract which clearly states all research performed is the sole property of EvoScience. No stealing; No moonlighting. While working, Bob discovers what he thinks is the next progression in Intelligent Design. EvoScience refuses to publish it. Bob takes the research home and writes a book showing how this research demonstrates Intelligent Design. Should he lose his job?

Answer: Bob should lose his job. He had a contract, and failed to abide by the terms of the contract. Like it or spike it; the consequence of using that data was a loss of job. Same as a chemist working for Johnson & Johnson stealing a patent.


Scenario Two

Bob still works for EvoScience. His superiors insist he works only on projects based upon evolution. Several times at work, Bob is caught doing research on what he thinks is Intelligent Design. After three reprimands—should he lose his job?

Answer: Why not? As an employer, they can request their employees to follow certain disciplines. If I tell my secretary I want her to type in Word(c) and ONLY Word(c), no matter how much she likes WordPerfect(c), since I am the boss, I get to make the rules. She can type in WordPerfect(c) at home all she likes. If she thinks this demand is unreasonable—she is free to find another job.

(And before you think this is too harsh; remember this goes both ways. If I was hiring a secretary, and an interviewee insisted she would ONLY type in WordPerfect(c), I am free to not hire her. Nothing forces me to go out and buy a program I won’t use to satisfy an employee.)


Scenario Three

Bob. EvoScience. The policy of the company is once the research is published, it becomes public domain. After that the employees can do with it what they like. A few have even published (minor) articles using the same material with no consequence. After one particular research project is published, Bob does exactly that—prints an article using the research. His superiors are completely opposed to the premises within the article; should he lose his job?

Answer: …Wait. Before you answer, let’s try a few modifications:

a) Bob’s article argues for the extermination of the Jewish race as they are a “sub-class” of humans…

b) Bob’s article argues there is Global Warming, and our planet will die in 100 years…

c) Bob’s article argues Jesus was a myth…

d) Bob’s article argues we should not have used the atomic bomb in World War II…

e) Bob’s article argues for gay marriage…

f) Bob’s article argues the government is monitoring us through the fillings in our teeth…

g) Bob’s article argues pro-abortion…

Starts to get a little tricky…or does it? Again, why can’t an employer fire an employee for something they disagree with? On or off the job? Again—this goes both ways. If I hired a young lawyer, paid them a salary, but insisted s/he lie to my wife about the affair I was having—they are free to quit out of principle, even if it had nothing to do with their job of lawyering. Or if I hired them, but made them do my laundry—they can quit.

At what wacky idea must an employer tolerate an employee OR an employee tolerate an employer?


Scenario Four

Bob. EvoScience. Bob’s boss is staunch Catholic. Discovers Bob is Protestant and immediately fires him because he only wants to work with “true Christians.” Should Bob have lost his job?

Answer: O.K. This one is easy. We all know the non-discrimination for religious beliefs.

I see this all the time. People will call and say they were fired for being late to work one time. “They can’t do that, can they? If I was late only once?” Yes—they can. What they cannot do is fire you for your Race, Religion, Creed, Gender, Marital Status, and (in some areas) Sexual Orientation.

What is happening is the Intelligent Designers want their cake and eat it, too. When it comes being taught in schools—they want to insist this has nothing to do with religion. Nope—this is science, science, science. But when it comes to the workplace, “scientific belief” is not a protected class. Now, all of a sudden, the Intelligent Designer wants the same protection as a religion!

While I have enjoyed the furor over “Expelled,” I am starting to see it is really all a big “so what?” Think about what we should say in response to this movie:

Stein: Oh the HORRORS! Some poor teacher was DISCRIMINATED AGAINST for daring to speak on behalf of Intelligent Design.
Me: Yep. The person worked for a science department. Intelligent design is bad science. There is no protection of “free speech” in a science department. It is a job. Therefore they were rightly fired for doing bad science. There is no religious protection—“Intelligent design” claims to not be religious, remember?

There is no protection for discrimination on a non-protected class. None. You can fire someone for being bald, or bad breath, or for bad science.

What is it about “Intelligent Design” that grants it any more protection than a person who believes in Global Warming or to not use vaccines, or that aliens are slowly replacing people with robots?

So back to our original question—why should Intelligent Design be granted religious protection? Careful here—if you agree with me it is creationism, you may gain a religious protection in the workplace, but you will completely lose the battle to teach it in schools. (Plus it will make all those arguments about how intelligent design does not mean a god-belief pretty silly.)

If the employer wants to fire a person for believing in intelligent design—so be it. A big, fat “so what…”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why Intelligent Design Hates the term Creationism

I have often said the power to define is the power to rule the argument. You give me the ability to mandate what words mean, and I will define the words to cause my position to win. Amongst librarians (I am told) the argument rages as to whether a Dictionary should be a description of what common usage of a word is, or a law as to what a word must mean. Does it follow society or force society?

150 years ago the word “fly” meant either an irritating insect or an action a bird does. After the invention of the airplane, it became description of travel, as in “Are you flying to New York?” More recently the word culturally modified to mean cool: “Pretty Fly for a White Guy.”

Need I say how the words “gay,” “cool,” “hip,” and “dime” have gained new meaning?

And within the past 20 years, we are being told the word “creationism” has taken on a new meaning. But who is it that is telling us the definition has changed? Those who want to distant themselves from the word—Intelligent Designers! The why I will explore in a minute.

What is “creationism”? It is the process of “creating” something. To cause something to come into existence. We use it generally of human abilities (“create a new advertising slogan”), but within the theistic debate, it is limited to creating something from something. Or making something different.

Simply put, “creation” needs a “Creator.” It was what a creator does—creates. And the process by which the creator creates is called creationism. We think of it in terms of supernaturalistic creation, albeit it could be used in the vernacular for natural items appearing.

So what’s the big deal for a theist to say they believe in a Creator? Is there a single person who believes in a god, but that god did NOT create anything and believes this universe came about naturally? Why do theists shy away from the word “creationism” when they obviously embrace a creator?

I’ll tell you why—because of us. No, no! Not the “us” of the skeptics. Nor the “us” of those who are persuaded by evolution. Not the “us” of the scientific community.

The “us” as in lawyers. He he he—they are scared of the sharks of the courtroom.

Prior to 1968, laws were enforced in the southern American states, prohibiting the teaching of evolution. In Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968), the Supreme Court struck down Arkansas’s statutory prohibition against teaching evolution. In order to preserve creationism, new laws were enacted to force “balanced treatment” by mandating creation science be given equal time to teaching evolution.

In the landmark case of Edwards v. Arkansas, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) the United States Supreme court held the requirement of teaching “creation science” along with evolution violated the Establishment clause. In essence, the teaching of “creation science” became dead in public schools. Can’t do it.

Now many times we hear the claim the post-Edwards society was the birth of Intelligent Design. While that may be true for many of the current proponents of Intelligent Design the argument from design has been with us for a long, long time. It is the teleological argument. Think of Paley’s watch. (1802)

What WAS born, post-Edward was a new term, “Intelligent Design” for the same thing—creationism or creation science. Once Edwards came down, it was clear anything labeled “Creationism” would be barred from the classroom. Therefore, creationists became intent on abandoning such a label.

We are very familiar with this tactic within the legal community. I’ll give you a big fat “for-instance.” For many years we did what we called “a plea under advisement.” Basically a defendant would plead guilty and if they were good for a period of time (while the judge considered the plea “under advisement”) the case would be dismissed. If the defendant was charge with another crime, the judge then “accepted the plea” and found the person guilty. The Michigan courts pointed out how there was no such thing as a “plea under advisement” under our statutes, and banned the practice.

No problem. Because we do have a thing called a “delayed sentence.” Instead of a “plea under advisement”--now the defendant pleads guilty, the judge “delays” sentence for a period of time, and if no new charges appear on their record, the prosecutor moves for a dismissal of the action.

Do you see the difference? You don’t? That’s because there isn’t any! We have performed the same pragmatic action only it isn’t “plea under advisement” (because that is banned)—it is a “delayed sentence” (because that is not banned.)

This is exactly what is happening here. “Intelligent Design” is the exact same thing as creation science. Only because “creation science” is banned from the schools, the creationist must no longer call it “creation science” and came up with a new phrase—“Intelligent design.”

The change was effectuated very efficiently: re-define “creationism” and then isolate it from our new term. All of a sudden “Creationism” is defined solely as a literalist young-earth creationist. (Often we see the added “Noahic flood” as well, further enforcing the literalism.) “Intelligent Design” means…well…something different. But certainly not “Creationism”! Because then they would be barred from teaching it from schools, according to Edwards.

However, as good as lawyers are at re-defining terms and finding loopholes in new definitions, we are equally adapt at seeing the obvious. We know when we do it. And we know when it quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, and smells like a duck—calling it a dog does not make it anything but a duck.

When even the people trying to re-define the words, use the same meaning for the new term—it means the same thing. One of the fascinating evidences which came out in the Dover trial was the evolution of the creationist textbook “Of Pandas and People.”

In this textbook’s initial drafts, “creation” was defined as “various forms of life that began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc,” Then Edwards was decided. “Creationism” was barred from the classroom. The textbook was modified, and a new term was introduced—“Intelligent Design.” Defined as: “various forms of life that began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc,” No difference!

Approximately 150 times, cognates of the word “creationism” were replaced with the term “Intelligent Design” in the textbook after the decision of Edwards.

How stupid do they think we are? Honestly? Let me repeat this order:

1. “Creationism is X.
2. Edwards says you cannot teach Creationism.
3. “Creationism Intelligent Design is X.

And now they want to tell me “creationism” is not the same as “Intelligent Design”? The Dover decision displays it very nicely as to why we are just not that ignorant:

The concept of intelligent design (hereinafter “ID”), in its current form, came into existence after the Edwards case was decided in 1987. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child.

It is notable that not one defense expert was able to explain how the supernatural action suggested by ID could be anything other than an inherently religious proposition. Accordingly, we find that ID’s religious nature would be further evident to our objective observer because it directly involves a supernatural designer.

Although contrary to Fuller, defense experts Professors Behe and Minnich testified that ID is not creationism, their testimony was primarily by way of bare assertion and it failed to directly rebut the creationist history of Pandas or other evidence presented by Plaintiffs showing the commonality between creationism and ID.


Or, to put it another way—for all the Intelligent Designers out there: Please describe the mechanism by which an intelligently designed object came into being without a Creator. It is inherent within the term itself: Intelligent Design requires an intelligent designer! They admit it themselves.

The only people being fooled into thinking there is a difference between “intelligent design” and “creationism” are the creationists themselves.

But what’s new about that method?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Prediction on The Movie Opening this Friday

The point of predictions is to do them before the event occurs. This way, if I am correct, I can gloat about it later, saying, “See? See? I told you this would happen!” And if it turns out I am completely off the mark, I can bury it with some blog entry about Paul not being a Pharisee and hope my gaffe is quickly forgotten.

I predict Expelled the Movie will be both a colossal failure and a resounding success. Seems a pretty safe prediction, doesn’t it! *grin*

First—the colossal failure. It will bomb financially. It will obtain the most financial success in its opening weekend (not breaking the top 10 movie-makers) and then will quickly fade to oblivion by the next weekend. Out on DVD by Memorial Day 2008, I should think.

The reason for this? I know my (former) fellow Christians. They are cheap and this is as uninteresting to them as it is the rest of the world.

I am sorry, but Christians are cheap. My proof on this point is my interaction with numerous wait staff. Ask any person who has ever waited on tables for a living and ask them the worst tippers. Invariably they will tell you it is the Christian crowd on Sunday afternoon and worse!--the Baptists on Sunday evening. (The only ones left with a Sunday Evening service.)

As humans, we are cheap enough. There is a reason the number of sales of movie tickets have declined for the past years—DVD’s. Compare (for me):

Movie Tickets: Three Adults ($24), Two kids ($10)
Popcorn & Pop: Three Super Saver Package ($24)
Candy: Four ($10)

I can take my family and easily spend $68 without blinking. Now consider waiting a month or so:

DVD: $16
Pizza: Two ($11)
Pop: 24 cans ($5)
Candy: 3 bags ($9)
Microwave Popcorn: 10 bags ($8)

I have stuffed my family, with pop, popcorn, and pizza left over for $50. AND I can watch the movie again whenever I want. AND I can pause it and go to the bathroom. (See “Pop.”) How many Creationists are thinking of seeing this moving and then thinking of all the “stewardship” points they get for waiting for it to come out on DVD?

Secondly, I wonder how many Creationists are really interested in this movie. Let’s face it; the third worst killer word for a Movie is “Documentary.”* As a teenager, did you want to get together with your friends and see a…documentary? Naw—you wanted “Prom Night!” There the Creationist will be…clutching their $68 and thinking “’Expelled,’ which I know I should see, and would earn me God-points, but gosh-darn-it, ‘Leatherheads’ is showing at the same time. And God wants me to have a laugh. I will get it on DVD when it comes out…”

Not to mention this is April—spring is in the air, lawn work needs to be done, soccer games attended. Maybe next week. If it rains…or when it comes out on DVD.

I don’t see the excitement generated to go out on a spring day to see a documentary. In which the narrator is infamous for speaking in a monotone!!

Yes, I know every Christian film-maker is hoping to replicate “The Passion of the Christ.” They won’t admit it out loud (Pride being one of the seven deadly sins) but the desire is still there. This is no “Passion.”

“The Passion” was a phenomena. A rare occurrence. In the Christian community, it become more than a movie, it became “AN EVENT.” People were buying blocks of tickets and holding get-togethers afterwards. People were talking in church about movie times. Pastors were telling people to go in bulletins.

People who would never darken the door of a movie theater 10 years ago were buying movie tickets for friends. Tales were spread across e-mails about murderers confessing crimes after seeing the thing. And people openly weeping and becoming Christians right there on pop-sticky floors. Rumors had it Satan even went to see it! (And objected to his portrayal in the movie. He thought Jack Nicholson was more suited for the role.)

Is that sort of hype being generated about Expelled? I am a bit out-of-touch, but I haven’t seen the e-mails (I’m still on the mailing list.) I haven’t seen the hype. Because it is a documentary.

Plus, in “The Passion” people knew the story. They knew the happy ending. They knew this was the triumph of Christianity, with all its gore and pain. Here they know the story (face it—they know all creationists are being terribly persecuted by the science community. They’ve heard there is talk of bringing back burning at the stake…) but how interesting IS the story? Movies are about pictures and presentation and blood flying and grimaces and pain in the eyes and glorious Color. A story with a monotone narrator about some Ph.D. who we don’t care whether they obtained tenure—is that the making of a movie?

And THAT is why it will be a resounding success. Creationists don’t need to go see the movie. All they need is to know it was made. That some “smart” people somewhere said something which aligns with what the creationists thinks is justification enough to ratify the Creationist’s position in their mind.

This movie will become the proverbial “they” in statements such as “They don’t let creationists become professors” or “They have a conspiracy to keep the failed theory of evolution alive” or whatever else ”They” need be accused of.

How do we know it’s true? Because there is a movie about it! Sure, the creationist won’t actually see the movie, or study the other side which is presented, or look things up, or read a book. Oh, no! None of that is necessary. Why? ‘Cause some smart people said it, so it must be true.

I’ve watched this happen over and over. When discussing topics surrounding the Bible, I will ask a question of the Christian. And many times it has been said to me, “People smarter than YOU have studied it, and remained Christians.” True enough—but what have they studied? What is the argument? What are the competing claims?

All many Christians want is the reassurance that somebody, somewhere studied something and that somebody has an I.Q. or a degree or a talent, and that is good enough to satisfy them.

And this movie is just that “somebody.”

So my prediction? Bomb financially; haunt us for decades.



*The second worst is “Indie” and the worst of all time is “Sub-titled.”

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Post-modernism: What is it and Why Must I Hate it?

In the theistic debate the word “postmodern” is often juxtaposed against Christianity. It has become the equivalent of circumcision of Paul’s time, or Rock-n-Roll of the 1970’s. We see:

We have been watching the postmodern mind in its development, and it is now well developed. Not only do we see the themes of postmodernity taking hold of the larger culture, but we understand the challenge this pattern of thinking poses to Christian truth and Christian truth-telling. Tolerance is perverted into a radical secularism that is anything but tolerant. There is little openness to truth, and growing hostility to truth claims. Indeed, the postmodern mind has a fanatical, if selective, dedication to moral relativism, and an understanding that truth has no objective or absolute basis whatsoever.
Here

I might read:

The philosophical maneuvers borrowed from postmodern theory provide a mechanism for transcending the defensive posture against Enlightenment criticism that mainstream Christianity has had to assume for most of the last 300 years. By denying that truth is propositional, Emerging Church theorists avoid and renounce any responsibility to defend many of the doctrines long considered essential to the Christian faith.
Here

Or

The fact of the matter is that, in their own minds, these young men had good “reason” to do this. Is it any wonder that our postmodern young people, with a lavish lifestyle that their grandparents could have never dreamed of, are so dark and miserable? Why is it that our young teenagers, who have their own TV’s, Stereos, Cell Phones, Game Boys, etc., who have never had to fight in a World War, are so angry at the very people who have spoiled them?
Here

Or

Now postmoderns no longer recognize and respect someone who has a differing belief when it comes to the issue of tolerance. Instead, in their quest to be “tolerant” they are unjust because they are being intolerant of someone just because they have a different belief when in the past that would have been tolerated. So justice and “positive tolerance” are incompatible. They are, in fact, antithetical.
Here

O.K. I am starting to get it. Simply put:

Postmodern = Bad.

J.P. Moreland defines it as:

On a postmodernist view, there is no such thing as objective truth, reality, value, reason and so forth. All these are social constructions, creations of linguistic practices and, as such, are relative not to individuals (as is often mistakenly supposed), but to social groups that share a narrative.
Here

Are you getting it?

Well…to be honest…me neither….

Wikipedia (at best only a good starting point) hits it dead-on with this one. It heads its article in bold:

”This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject.”

It certain is.

Everyone seems to agree this thing “postmodern” exists. Everyone seems willing to use the term and debate upon it. Everyone seems to agree it is very difficult to define. Yet I find no consistency in its use.

As near as I can tell (and I might be quite wrong) postmodernism is a question as to the perception of reality. Is it real because it exists, or does it only become real once we perceive it? And because we perceive things differently, is reality equally different?

The classic example of this is the old adage, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Does the “reality” of sound require a recipient?

Seems like a fun philosophical question to debate at 1 in the morning over a glass of wine. Along with “How many angels can dance on a head of a pin?” or “If you went back in time and kept your parents from meeting—what would happen to you?”

But that is ALL it is--a philosophical mind masturbation. As all can see, even by voicing the statement “reality is not real” becomes a contradiction in itself, since it is making a statement as to the realness of reality! It is a question; not an answer.

Yet it has now become the bogeyman of the theistic debate. It appears as if I genuinely disagree with your position, it is equated with saying reality is not real, and therefore I am a “postmodernist” and am bad. It works as follows:

Christian: The Jesus of the Gospels is a historical fact.
Me: There is an element of myth within the Gospel accounts.
Christian: Since the Gospels are “truth” and “real” by your questioning their historical accuracy, you are saying “real” is relative and “truth” is relative, and therefore you are a postmodernist, and therefore you are evil and bad and a Satanist and I don’t have to listen to you.

I also see that “postmodernism” is considered the same as relative morals. It works like this:

Christians: Morals are absolute:
Me: Prove it.
Christian: Since you don’t think morals are absolute, you think morals are relative and since morals are the same as truth, you must also think all truth is relative, and therefore you are a postmodernist and evil and…

What I see is the term “postmodern” is used like a scarlet letter, and even the person using it doesn’t understand what it means, but they DO understand by labeling someone as a “postmodern” all the people who agree with them (i.e.—other Christians) will dismiss anything they say.

So you all are smart—you tell me. What is “postmodern” mean, what do I need to believe to be a “postmodern” and why am I against it?

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Wrong Sort

So, while you walked up and down and wondered if it would rain, Winnie-the-Pooh sang this song:

How sweet to be a Cloud
Floating in the Blue!
Every little cloud
Always sings aloud.
"How sweet to be a Cloud
Floating in the Blue!"
It makes him very proud
To be a little cloud.


The bees were still buzzing as suspiciously as ever. Some of them, indeed, left their nests and flew all round the cloud as it began the second verse of this song, and one bee sat down on the nose of the cloud for a moment, and then got up again.

"Christopher -- ow! -- Robin," called out the cloud.
"Yes?"

"I have just been thinking, and I have come to a very important decision. These are the wrong sort of bees."
“Are they?"

"Quite the wrong sort. So I should think they would make the wrong sort of honey, shouldn't you?"
"Would they?"

"Yes. So I think I shall come down."
From “Winnie-the-Pooh.”

We deconverts are told a variety of reasons why we a)failed to continue to be Christians or b)were not Christians in the first place. These reasons range from not having enough faith, to having the wrong sort of faith, to having the wrong belief, to being too focused on religion, too focused on church, too focused on other Christians, and so on and so on and so on. Our belief (as firmly held as any believer) we were actually Christians is stripped away by definition.

Simple, really. Define a “Christian” as a person who always believes Jesus is God (amongst other requirements), and since we did not “always” believe—Voila! We could not (by definition) have ever been a Christian. But rather than stick with that, the Christian often takes another step to dive into what sort of “Christianity” it was that we thought we believed in, and to further explain how it was the wrong sort of Christianity.

Which leads us directly to the question: Where does one determine the right sort of Christianity?

I can’t look to other Christians. Whenever we point out the moral failings in Christians we are assured this is all expected. Christians sin, too. (Rom. 7:19) When we point out the moral accomplishments of non-believers, we are assured this, too, is expected. Even the Samaritan can stumble upon Loving his neighbor.

Morally, we cannot tell the difference between believers and non-believers; let alone the difference between the “right sort” and the “wrong sort.”

Intellectually, we are informed there will be those who profess to know Jesus as Lord, and even manage to do great works in Jesus’ name, yet are not saved. Matt. 7:21-23. A person who claims to be Christian and demonstrates prophesy and casting out demons is insufficient to be certain they have the “right sort” of Christianity. People who are very persuasive, with golden tongues and silver voices and woo entire audiences into being convinced of their Christianity may not make it. 1 Cor. 13:1

So using other people as our determinative for the right sort is out.

Perhaps the Bible? Yet in looking at the various authors, they present differing views as to what qualifies for Christianity. Romans 10:9 indicates it is a matter of belief. Yet Matt. 7:24 indicates it is a matter of action—actually implementing the words of Jesus—not just believing them. “By your fruits you shall know them.” Matt. 7:20. The book of James clearly states works will be the evident result of faith. James 2:20;26. Not to mention John 13:35; “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Now we are back to looking at people! And back to Christians giving excuses as to why this is not the way to look for the right sort of Christianity.

Perhaps look to Jesus for the right sort of Christianity? Fair enough, but which Jesus? The one who loved sinners or insulted sinners? The one who gave sight or the one who blinded? And for me to “look at Jesus” requires a determination as to the reliability of the historicity of the Gospels. Or am I being told to act like a myth? Am I being told to believe in a phantom?

We are informed the Bible is not a biology book, so we shouldn’t expect it to be accurate when it comes to biology. We are told the Bible is not a mathematics book—can’t expect it to be accurate regarding mathematics. It is not a book on cosmology, astrology, climatology, geology, chemistry—can’t expect it to be accurate regarding those fields.

News flash—the Gospels aren’t histories! If the Bible, not being a science text is unsurprisingly inaccurate when it comes to science; then isn’t it equally expected to be inaccurate when it comes to history? Not being a history text?

See, the constant problem in saying, “Don’t look to the Bible; look to Jesus” is that the Bible is the primary source for our information about Jesus! Tell me what you know about Jesus without using an anecdote from the Bible, and you will see what I mean.

We also have the problem of determining canonicity, Textual criticism, translation issues, not to mention the Synoptic Problem, the inaccuracies, and the contradictions. While a Christian may be able to overlook these problems, remember the person you are asking to “look” (i.e.-me!) cannot.

Finally, we are told to “Look to God.” While this is a pleasant phrase—does it practically do us any good? I have a friend who, whenever we part, says, “Drive Safe!” Pleasant words, but in the end no practical value. Does this mean drive the speed limit? Less than the speed limit? Pass a slow car? Take a right on red?

While we have every intention (with or without this phrase) of driving safe, the saying itself holds no practical meaning. It is the same with “Look to God.” For the theist this is easy—they mean “Look to my God. The one I believe in.” But remember—belief is not enough. And I have all those other theists…you know… the wrong “sort” of Christians all saying to look to their Gods, too.

It has struck me how I have heard this accusation a LOT when discussing on-line. How I was the wrong sort of Christian. And almost every time, it causes me to contemplate, “Why have I never heard this from my family? Or my friends? Or my former acquaintances?” Only recently did I realize why (and yes, this makes me slow.)

Because they have the same sort of Christianity as I did. If mine was “wrong”—so is theirs!

They have the same intellectual understanding of Christianity. The same moral beliefs. We shared the same prayer life. The same convictions. The same “fruits” working on the same projects at the same times. We cried together, laughed together, and fought the Christian fight together.

They dare not tell me I had an inaccurate picture of Jesus—it is the same picture they hold to now. They cannot say I was incorrect in my comprehension of the Canon, or inspiration or inerrancy—it is their same view. They cannot fault my morals, my beliefs or my knowledge. It would be an indictment against their own beliefs.

I wonder if all those people who accuse me of having the wrong sort of Christianity realize just how many others, standing behind me, they are also accusing? Is my entire family practicing the wrong sort of Christianity? I can assure you, they would be quite surprised to discover due to one itty-bitty deconversion (mine) we had discovered a belief held by dozens of people, across four generations (on many sides) was completely wrong.

Is my family doomed to hell because of me? Or my friends and church associates—1000’s, maybe 10’s of 1000’s when I consider all the sister/daughter churches of the places which I attended—these people would be shocked to discover one small deconversion was the hole which broke the dam, revealing their entire belief system is the wrong sort.

I wonder if they realize how many people they are condemning to hell because of the accusation one deconvert held the wrong belief? I know my family and friends understand this quite well!

Does one little bee-sting on the nose determine the whole hive must be the wrong sort of bees?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sauce for the Goose…

…is sauce for the Gander. Or so they say.

For all those Christians upset about the limitation to their “Freedom of Speech” as portrayed in Expelled the Movie or how scientists who hold to creationism are treated by their evolutionary associates:

Friends Defend Ousted Teacher

Grand Rapids -- Filmmaker and anthropologist Graham Townsley could not believe it when he heard his friend, Kent Dobson, lost his job after hosting a historical documentary about Jesus.
"We bent over backward to be really careful and not make crazy assertions," Townsley said of the Discovery Channel program he made with Dobson last summer in Egypt and Israel. "We were so careful to be respectful."

Dobson, the 31-year-old son of retired Calvary Church pastor Ed Dobson, resigned his post as Bible teacher at NorthPointe Christian High School last week after the school board questioned his role in the March 16 special, "Jesus: The Missing History."

On the hourlong program, Dobson questioned biblical scholars on possible contradictions between the Gospels and the historical evidence of Jesus' life. The questions included:

Was Bethlehem Jesus' birthplace?
Was Jesus a carpenter or a stone mason?
Was Jesus' eviction of money changers from the temple a political or religious move?
Is there any truth in the Gnostic gospels?

In the program, which is not scheduled for rebroadcast, Dobson does not definitively answer the questions or take a position. He interviews biblical scholars who present evidence that contradicts the Bible.

"You see, when I was a kid, we were told the four Gospels of the New Testament told you everything you needed to know about Jesus," Dobson says early in the program. "But as I studied the ancient history of my faith, I started coming up with real questions."

Those questions were what led to Dobson's resignation, his father, Ed Dobson, said last week.
Ed Dobson said the board left his son with no choice but to resign.

Kent Dobson, NorthPointe school board President Kevin Belk and other board members have refused to comment on the specifics of Dobson's departure from the private school on the city's Northeast Side. Superintendent Tom Hofman said only that Dobson resigned because it was apparent to all parties involved that statements made on the program were "outside of the school's Statement of Faith."

Carlos Hidalgo, Dobson's friend and former chairman of the NorthPointe school board, said the teacher's desire to delve deep into Scripture is what appealed to his students.

"This is what Kent is all about. You don't hide from the tough questions or turn them aside," Hidalgo said. "Young people look for truth, not just glib answers like, 'We've always done it this way.' He challenges the status quo in a soft, nonbelligerent kind of way," Hidalgo said.

But, once you start asking questions, "all the dominos start falling," said NorthPointe parent and Calvin College professor Don Hettinga. "The unfortunate thing about these events is that they suggest that thinking deeply and asking questions is wrong," he said.

Dobson was recruited nearly two years ago to teach Bible classes to juniors at NorthPointe, formerly Grand Rapids Baptist Schools. He also traveled to Israel with his students and lived there with his family from 2002-05.

NorthPointe has a "Christian world and life view taught from a conservative viewpoint," according to the school's Web site. That's in contrast to Dobson's style of asking questions and digging deep for the truth, friends said.
Article

So…do you really hold Freedom of Speech in such high regard—or only the Freedom of your particular brand of speech?

(H/T to KVO for this story here)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I am the enemy

It is amazing the effect of words and labeling. The other day, while waiting for an Oil Change, I watched some talking head on a news program make a good point:

“We see the Bush Administration utilize certain words, and the media simply picks up on it without thought as to what those words even mean. Think about the current use of the word ‘Surge’ regarding the influx of troops in Iraq. Normally, when we think of the word ‘Surge” we think of a short burst—like a surge of electricity or a surge of water—which quickly returns to the original state.

“However, what we have in Iraq is an increase in troop size with no apparent reduction in the future. This is not a ‘Surge;’ it should be called what it is—an Escalation.”

In the legal community we have seen the same clever use of words when it comes to the “War” on Drugs. See, in “war” things become acceptable which would normally be questioned. If I had an illegal gun in my house – I can be charged with illegal possession of a weapon. We would think it ludicrous to claim the Government could seize my house, simply because I had a single gun within.

Yet if I was growing one (1) plant of marijuana, because we are in a “war” on drugs, the State has the right to take my entire home!

If I get into a fistfight at a bar, the state can charge me with assault and battery. There are no driving sanctions involved—I wasn’t driving at the time. BUT, if I take a puff of pot in that same bar—I will lose my ability to drive for 30 days. No restricted license available. Why?—because we have a “war” on drugs.

I get the same sinking feeling when it comes to the theistic debate arena. As if, to many Christians, I am “the enemy.” And we all know we treat our enemies very differently than our friends. Because this is a “war”—and in times of war we do things normally considered unacceptable.

Could you imagine inviting me to your house, and discover me snooping around your computer—reading your old e-mails? How rude! Or pawing through your financial records in your cabinets? Yet when it comes to our enemies, this is acceptable behavior. We call it “spying.” In fact, we train and teach men and women to do exactly that—spy on other countries. Because they are the enemy.

When speaking to our friends, we expect the truth. But when speaking to the enemy, we actually promote the exact opposite. It becomes wrong to speak the truth; you lie to your enemies.

Many Christians believe it is not only allowable, but honorable to lie to me. Why? Because I am the enemy. The most stark quote on this can be found here “So, for war purposes (believers and unbelievers are at war), I deceived.”

Another interesting facet of people at war is how we caricature the enemy. Look at these war propaganda posters of the Japanese depicting them raping white women, or with sharpened teeth and evil stares. No matter how much a Sony DVD player goes up in price, such an editorial cartoon would be considered slanderous now. Because we are not at war.

Yet I see the same caricature depicted of non-believers. How many times have we been depicted as immoral, alcoholic, sex-crazed social deviants? Or that we are somehow bent on turning every convenience store into a strip joint and every church into a brothel.

How many times have I been told, “Try reading the Bible” when I know it better than the person telling me? Or we see the phrase, “You believe there are no absolutes.” It is a common tactic used in time of war—paint the enemy as ridiculous at times, or frightening at others.

The reason I bring this up is that I have been following the reviews of the upcoming movie with Ben Stein - Expelled. I haven’t seen the movie, and have no intention of doing so until I can free-of-charge. I will not provide financial support to the producers of this film.

But what I find fascinating is the umbrage taken by non-believers and evolutionists to the many visual comparisons of Stalin and Hitler to scientists holding to evolution. Or the concern over the falsehoods, in obtaining the interviews, in editing the interviews, in the reasons for kicking PZ Myers out, in the scientific claims made, and in the factual claims made.

Why? Don’t you get it? To them, they are in a time of war. This is behavior which is to be commended! If this movie was a complete lie, yet was the impetus for Intelligent Design being incorporated in one (1) public school—the Christians promoting this film would consider it a success! The ends most certainly are justified by the means.

To them, if a lie brings about a moral good—then the lie is no longer morally wrong. If a caricature of anyone holding to evolution being the equivalent of Stalin or Hitler convinces a single person to not investigate evolution on their own—then the caricature was morally good.

Don’t you see those complaints about falsehoods; complaints about inaccuracies; complaints about incorrect depictions will fall off them like water off a duck’s back? They don’t care; such actions are tolerable when the outcome is noble.

What if a person of Japanese decent complained of the posters and cartoons distributed in World War II? They would be equally laughed at and disregarded—the enemy complaining about being treated like the enemy? How amusing! Or a foreign country complaining we “lied” about a person in the Ambassador’s staff not being a spy. One lies to the enemy. It is right, just and fair to do so.

You are fighting with the wrong weapons on the wrong ground. Every complaint of “Lie!” is met with a solidifying of their position. Shoot—if the enemy is complaining of your lying, you must be doing something correct! ‘Cause one lies to one’s enemies.

I do think it important to point out the errors. I think websites, such as I linked, must be created to counter the falsehoods in this film. But I equally find it na├»ve if you think a single Christian will care—even if we prove it a lie.

I am the enemy. What I say is to be rejected outright.