It is has never been more important to carefully examine what one believes and why they believe it. If you do not carry out this work, you may end up being nothing more than a useful idiot of the worst sort: directly bringing about the goals and ends of those you specifically repudiate as wicked and evil… condemning the communists, nazis, and eugenicists, while carrying out their work.
Category: original sin
The Walk to Walden Hill begins with tragedy: the orphaning of the protagonist, Josh Billows. His mother dead, his father jailed, Josh ends up in foster care. As just a young child he is forced to grapple with issues that are known to shipwreck adults, even if he doesn’t understand the real issues that are in play.
if anyone is actually concerned about the plight of the poor and oppressed and the abuses by corporations, banks, and politicians- no doubt inspired by genuine concerns arising within a decent heart- I would challenge them to rely on more than their hearts and emotions, which can and do deceive and will co-opt the mind if it needs to. We must use our brains. We have to be thinking people. And we must be thinking people within the proper boundaries and context for thinking, that is… our thoughts must actually conform to reality the way it is.
All else may very well simply be self-deception.
“Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa Go to Heaven…” What sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke is actually the title of a collection of three poignant short stories by author Anthony Horvath. Each story draws from what is publicly known about these three notable persons and places them in the presence of God. Antony Flew famously disputed the existence of such a being, Richard Dawkins- the only one of the three still living- infamously derides the notion, and Mother Teresa wondered at God’s absence- in these three stories they each get a chance to ask their questions and speak their minds. Read this short story, along with two others, on Kindle.
Excerpt from Richard Dawkins Goes to Heaven
“You know what sounds like ‘hell’ to me?” Richard asked the accompanying angel, a current of sarcasm carrying the question along.
“I know you’ll tell me,” the angel replied serenely.
“Heaven. Heaven sounds like hell.”
If you were looking for a thread that ties all five of these challenges together, it is this: the general view, even among Christians, that there is no objective reality to the areas under dispute. That is, we are all arguing about our own opinions, nothing more. It’s like sitting around having an argument about one’s favorite flavor of ice cream. As such an argument is roundly seen as absurd (and I would agree). Thus- even within the Church- the highest transgression is presenting your favorite ice cream flavor as the absolute best. Now this, paradoxically, I have said is something that apologetics can treat (after saying in 3 parts that it can’t. 😉 ), but read carefully on how precisely.
This is attitude that everything is just subjective is manifested most clearly and dramatically in regards to the marriage and the family. To help understand why, let me provide some anecdotal illustrations.
For example, no doubt many of my readers will be aware of the argument against those who oppose gay marriage that if these people really cherished marriage, they wouldn’t themselves support divorce or have the same level of divorces as those outside that community. I am not here highlighting the apparent hypocrisy involved. I’m talking about something else. Another illustration will perhaps help: “Why won’t God heal Amputees?” You see the argument now: if there is a God, surely he would want to heal people, including amputees. The same reasoning undergirds the absurd but common perception among atheists that a praying people will be healthier, or that in an experiment where one group is prayed for but the other group that isn’t, the group prayed for should show better health. (C. S. Lewis exposed this type of experiment as deeply flawed- who in good conscience, if they cared for the sick people would abstain from praying for one group just to prove a point?!?!?)
When I was in college there was this guy 2 1/2 times larger than me… a philosophy major, as I recall… appropriately named ‘Animal.’ I remember having a debate about pain with him. I argued it was all in our minds- just a brain state- and not real. Animal said, “Come here, and I’ll show you unreal pain.”
While I was of the mindset that there were just “brain states” or just “subjective opinions” or just “one’s political views”, I was a liberal. When my mindset changed, so did my ‘political’ stance. This is a realization that congealed more than ten years after the change had happened. Was it just me? Correlation does not prove causation, and yet I see the same ingredients in the conservatives and liberals I meet. What made my mindset change?
I wouldn’t say it happened over night but there was a singular ‘event’ that proved the catalyst. One should understand that at the time, I was a Christian, an apologist, a Christian religion teacher. But I still entertained many viewpoints we’d call ‘liberal.’ The catalyst arose out of my never ending quest to make sure that when I talk about something, I actually know what I’m talking about. In the general course of that, I read a great many writings of Communists, Nazis, and to a lesser extent, the ‘fascists.’ Here I discovered something frightening: these people were advocating many of the same things I was advocating, and for the same reasons.
PZ Myers continues to descend down the various stages into madness that atheism can lead a person- that is to say, like the religionists he despises, he also believes every lick of what he says he believes. In a recent blog post writing in reaction to an email from a pro-life person, he writes:
“You want to make me back down by trying to inspire revulsion with dead baby pictures? I look at them unflinchingly and see meat. And meat does not frighten me.”
On PZ’s view, we are all meat, whether we are diced and sliced or not. This is what we’re up against. P.S. I’m not talking about ‘science.’
We live in a curious time. Good people who are otherwise sane entertain the notions that Lee and Loughner embraced and acted on. Over against those notions they have some memory of the bloodsport of the 20th century and are keen to avoid it a second go around. What they don’t ask is: “Maybe it isn’t just one particular application of these beliefs that ought to be discredited… maybe the beliefs themselves should be chucked?”
Let us imagine that someone believed that all people with red hair should be killed because they aren’t really people. You talk to him. He’s a perfectly pleasant fellow. Very sane. “So, you aren’t going to actually kill any red haired people or advocate that others do?” you ask him. “Of course not,” he says. That’s a relief, of course. “Why believe it if you won’t carry it out?” you persist. “That would be horrible. I would feel terrible,” he says. “Hmmm,” you might say, “Perhaps the fact that you are deeply uncomfortable with wiping out those with red hair is because even though you say they aren’t people, in fact, you think they are. Why not then dispense with your belief that they aren’t really people?”
Something very much like this is at the root of much thinking among secular humanists. They don’t really believe what they’re saying. If they did, we’d all be in a lot of trouble and they’d probably go a little nuts.
Pro-life speaker Anthony Horvath recounts the history of the ‘Culture of Death’ from Thomas Malthus to Charles Darwin to Margaret Sanger to Peter Singer, with an array of personalities in between. Horvath shows why population control proposals permeate the ‘Progressive’ movement for the last 200 years and why, and how, it must be countered today. This presentation was delivered Nov. 20th, 2010, at Concordia University in Seward Nebraska for a Nebraska Lutherans for Life organization.
The greatest guilt today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which they are accepting; the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom, with no concrete meaning attached to the word; the people who believe that the content of ideas need not be examined, that principles need not be defined, and that facts can be eliminated by keeping one’s eyes shut. They expect, when they find themselves in a world of bloody ruins and concentration camps, to escape moral responsibility by wailing: ”But I didn’t mean this!”
The platitude is dangerous. On the one hand, when we transmit it, we transmit something we know is not actually true. That’s bad policy right there. On the other hand, it shuts down an important area of human experience that requires extensive critical thinking. In a world filled with evil and malignant men, every good person must be prepared in their mind for what they should do given certain eventualities… because we know from the newspaper and history book that these things do happen. Another danger to the platitude is that it sets people up for guilt after they perform a violent- but righteous- act. Finally, if someone has never actually thought about the matter before and all they’ve been fed is the platitude, they might freeze up and do nothing, or flee when they should fight.
I can think of no better example then the story that emerged out of the Virginia Tech massacre of Liviu Librescu. Here is a survivor of the holocaust, gunned down through the door that he refused to open for the gunman.
Here is a short story I wrote inspired by the comments in this thread on PZ Myer’s blog. Enjoy!
Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge of Knowledge
“I got here as fast as I could!” gasped the old man. He put one hand on the hood of the squad car and bent over as he tried to catch his breath.
The annoyed chief stared at the man waiting for him to explain who he was because the chief didn’t recognize him at all. At last, the balding and sweating gentlemen stood erect and stared back at the chief expecting some word of thanks or gratitude from him. But the chief was silent.
“Well, don’t you want my help?” the old man snapped.
“I don’t know who you are,” the chief grumped back.
“Don’t you know who you’ve got up there?” the old man gestured in the direction of the top of a seven story building that was the object of all the attention.
The chief shrugged, irritated, “Two people threatening to jump?”
The old man scowled.
“This is what I’ve been trying to tell you, chief,” said a police officer standing nearby.
“What? Just tell me already!” the chief cried out, slapping his hand on the hood of the car.
“That’s Adam and Eve,” the old man snarled, “and I’m Dr. Stein Franken.”