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Review: Richard Weikart’s “The Death of Humanity and the Case for Life”

In a recent post, I argued that one of the tell-tale signs of whether or not a viewpoint does not correspond with reality is whether or not it results in death; one’s own death, or the death of another, or many others.  Supposedly, humans these days are smarter than any humans that have ever existed.  We are so smart!  So smart, and yet the 20th century was one of the bloodiest on record.

I, for one, fully expect to the 21st century to be as bad or worse than the 20th century.  Dr. Richard Weikart, in his book, The Death of Humanity and the case for life, does not say that. In fact, he says the opposite, and the book cover seems to acknowledge both grave cause for concerns and hope.  Still, it is hard to be optimistic after reading it.  (Granted, I have not been optimistic for a long time!)

The basic problem is this:  most of the ideologies that led to the horrors of the 20th century are still very much with us.   And since proponents of those ideologies tend to have no clue that the last time someone acted on their very own viewpoints thousands died, they march merrily along.  What could go wrong?

Weikart’s book centers on the basic theme that these various ideologies all have the net effect of dehumanizing humans.  When one dehumanizes humans, its not hard to see where things are going to go.  In contrast to many moderns who have no idea where there own ideology goes, Weikart documents how the first adherents usually had a pretty good clue.

Each chapter takes on one way in which, over the last 2-3 centuries or so, humans have embraced attitudes and ideologies that lead to death.

Chapter 1: Man the Machine

The idea that humans are ‘just’ ‘meat machines’ is one that I come across quite a bit in my own conversations with people.  In arguments about abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc, it often turns out that people’s support for such things turns on the low regard people have for people.  Weikart cites a proponent of the ‘man the machine’ viewpoint, Lawrence Krauss:

“We’re just a bit of pollution.  If you got rid of us, and all the stars and all the galaxies and all the planets and all the aliens and everybody, then the universe would largely be the same.  We’re completely irrelevant.”

On such a view, its hard to see why anyone would get bent out of shape by the prospect of snuffing out one’s own life–or the life of every human on the planet.

Chapter 2: Created from Animals

Chapter 2 treats the Darwinian angle, which many people see as providing the scientific basis for regarding people as, in essence, scum.  There are thousands of examples linking the acceptance of Darwinism to the acceptance of some kind of death-bringing action, attitude or behavior, if one were inclined to study the matter impartially.  Weikart helpfully reproduces some, such as this quote by Peter Singer:

“All we are doing is catching up with Darwin.  He showed in the nineteenth century that we are simply animals.  Humans had imagined we were a separate part of Creation, that there was some magical line between Us and Them.  Darwin’s theory undermined the foundations of that entire Western way of thinking about the place of our species in the universe.” [pg 57]

No wonder, then, that Singer has advocated for euthanasia, assisted suicide, infanticide, and defended the morality of having sex with animals.

In my opinion, the acceptance of Darwinism is one of the main reasons why some of the other ideologies are as virulent as they are.  Darwinism (in their opinion) moves matters from the realm of mere opinion to rock hard, scientific fact.  And one of those rock hard, scientific facts is “its view of death as the engine of progress.” (pg 54, 82-87)

In other words, certain ideologies would tend towards death on their own, but not necessarily by intention.  Darwinism holds that death is a good thing, in itself.  After all, thanks to Darwinism, we are all here!  All of life on the planet was produced by the death of the weak in order that the rest is better ‘adapted.’  Death, on this view, is not bad.  It is to be gloried in.  What can go wrong?

The next four chapters detail four different ideological strands that have, historically, devolved into death and self-destruction.  As I said, a lot of these ideologies had their own problems, but as many of these viewpoints were spiked with Darwinian Science, they were made even more deadly than they were on their own.

Chapter 3:  My Genes Made Me Do It: Biological Determinism

Excerpt:

This deterministic view that strips humans of all moral (and criminal) responsibility continues to gain ground among secular intellectuals.  In 2006, Richard Dawkins lampooned the “unscientific” idea of free will by recounting a spoof by Basil Fawlty, a comical British television character who got frustrated when his car would not start.  Instead of being rational and investigating the cause of the problem, Fawlty sternly warned the car.  Naturally, it did not heed his warning, so he promptly began beating it with a stick.  We laugh [because we know the car only obeys the laws of physics].  However, Dawkins, since he is a materialist, then asks–seriously, it seems–why we treat humans differently from cars!  (Maybe because we are not machines?) He asks, “Why do we not react in the same way to a defective man: a murderer, say, or a rapist?  Why don’t we laugh at a judge who punishes a criminal, just as heartily as we laugh at Basil Fawlty? … Isn’t the murderer or the rapist just a machine with a defective component?  Or a defective upbringing?  Defective education?  Defective genes?”  Dawkins also ought to ask:  Why don’t we laugh at materialist philosophers who take credit for authoring books and making scientific discoveries (when the laws of physics did not allow them to do otherwise)?  What would Dawkins think if his foes–those who consider his ideas mistaken–pronounce that Dawkins is “a machine with a defective component”? (pg 94-95)

Actually, in point of fact, I have indeed suggested that Dawkins is ‘mentally defective’, on precisely these grounds.

It really ought to surprise no one that Dawkins is also on record stating that eugenics is not really all that bad.   But it will surprise some people, because they refuse to “show their work.”

Chapter 4:  My Upbringing Made Me Do It: Environmental Determinism

Weikart treats the fascinating Leopold and Loeb incident, where Clarence Darrow drew upon ‘science’ to save the two men from the death penalty.  Darrow says:

“Science has been at work, humanity has been at work, scholarship has been at work, and intelligent people now know that every human being is the product of the endless heredity back of him and the infinite environment around him.”

Observe, if you will, the presence of Darwinism as a factor even in ‘environmental determinism.’

Weikart correctly notes:

Some secularists recognize the dehumanizing character of biological determinism, especially in light of its unsavory associations with racism and sexism, not to mention Nazism.  They mistakenly suppose that environmental determinism is more friendlier and more humane, so they take sides with nurture in the nature-nurture debate.  As victims of Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot can attest, however, belief in environmental determinism is no guarantee of kinder treatment and is no more immune to atrocities than belief in biological determinism.

Immediately following the above quote, Weikart goes on to clarify a point that I am also happy to make:

Of course, just as biological determinism does not lead inevitably to the Holocaust, neither does environmental determinism always lead to communist atrocities.

This is a fair point that we are obligated by the facts to admit plainly and directly.  The problem is that nonetheless, the 20th century is packed with horrific outcomes.  It requires explanation, and caveats aside, we can’t, and shouldn’t, shy away from what the perpetrators tended to have in common.  What is the common denominator?  Determinism?  Or the secularism that brought it?  The rejection of Christianity that led to the secularism?  The bloodletting of the 20th century indicates that these are not trivial questions, especially if we are keen to not repeat the last hundred years in the next hundred years.

Chapter 5:  The Love of Pleasure

What I liked about this chapter is the fact that Weikart recognizes that there other ways for people to turn towards ‘death’ apart from the oldies like Communism, Nazism, etc.  In this chapter, we have a nice treatment of hedonism and various related ideologies, and of course the utilitarian concepts that factor into most of them in one way or another.  But even these often end up in pain and death, even by those who have accepted that the only moral truth is “thou shalt not suffer.”  Irony!

This is my example, not Weikart’s:  our nation has fully embraced the pleasure principle, especially as it pertains to sexual behaviors–that are intrinsically dangerous.  We know they are intrinsically dangerous… for example, by the 20,000,000 new cases of STDs every year, in America alone.  Apart from cases like AIDS, these tend not to be fatal, but there are sexual behaviors that do lead to fatalities… which we call abortions.

Like I said.  If you push an unreal attitude far enough, it will often reveal itself as not corresponding to reality by virtue of the fact that someone died along the way.

Chapter Six:  Superman’s Contempt for Humanity:  Existentialism and Postmodernism

This chapter did the most to add to my own base of knowledge, as this wasn’t an area that I’ve studied as much.  I’ve tried to read Nietzsche, but find it tedious reading to the extreme.  Same with all the other existentialists.   I know I’m supposed to find their stuff exhilarating and liberating, but instead I find it dull.

I am glad that Weikart included this angle, as it reveals just how diverse humanity’s love for death-inducing dehumanizing is, and how such strange, seemingly unrelated ideologies can marry and beget atrocities:

Thus, in Heidegger’s view, humans are radically free to make their own decisions–including the decision to follow the German Fuhrer.  In 1933 Heidegger told the students at his university:  “Let not propositions and ‘ideas’ be the rules of your Being [Sein].  The Fuhrer alone is the present and future German reality and its law.  Learn to know ever more deeply:  from now on every single thing demands decision, and every action responsibility.  Heil Hitler!” [pg 196, emphasis in original]

Chapter 7: A Matter of Life and Death.

This chapter deals more directly with some of the elements that many people tend to think of first when considering the toxic side effects of secularism, namely abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide.  Joseph Fletcher is treated, and of course Peter Singer resurfaces.  Not to fear!  Singer isn’t a professor of bioethics churning out hundreds of disciples each year, or anything!  Oh, wait.

Chapter 8: The Future of Humanity: Utopias, Dystopias, and Transhumanism

This is another inclusion that helpfully shows how various diverse ideologies nonetheless have Death in common.

Malthus makes an appearance in this chapter, along with those who wrestled with such matters, like William Godwin, who Weikart quotes:

Neither do I regard a new-born child with any superstitious reverence. If the alternative were complete, I had rather such a child perish in the first hour of its existence, than that a man should spend seventy years of life in a state of misery and vice.  I know that the globe of earth affords room for only a certain number of human beings to be trained to any degree of perfection; and I had rather witness the existence of a thousand such beings, than a million of millions of creatures, burdensome to themselves, and contemptible to each other. [pg 257]

Gee, what could go wrong with that line of thought?

Conclusion

The book closes with some chapters that essentially make the case that ideas have consequences, and one of the chief consequences of the ideas of the last two centuries is death and more death, and death piled upon death.

One of my reactions to Weikart’s book, which I doubt he intended, was how it confirmed for me once again how ridiculously absurd and asinine to adopt the high view of experts that liberals and progressives would have us take, merely because they are experts.  His book is a tour through all the supposedly great thinkers, philosophers, scholars and academics over the last couple of centuries.  When one sees, page by page, how most of these ‘Brights’ were complicit in various degrees with murderous outcomes, one is tempted to suspect that perhaps the smartest among us are actually idiots.  Why would we defer to them, exactly?

But they aren’t idiots.  It would be better if they were.  It is their intelligence that makes them dangerous.  Blind deference to experts is a bad, bad, BAD idea.  Don’t do it.

I’m sure that Weikart would agree:  check out his sources, quotes, etc, too.  Don’t just take his word for these things.

One complaint that I have with the book is that it promised to be a “case for life.” The ‘case for life” turns out to consist of the last few pages of book that was nearly 300 pages long.  I agree with Weikart’s assertion:

Other religions besides Christianity might be able to make sense of our valuing of human life, too.  I recognize that there are other options besides secularism and Christianity.  However, I am convinced that there are sound philosophical, historical, scientific, emotional, and spiritual reasons to prefer monotheism and specifically Christianity to other religions.  Our intuition that human life has value, purpose, and meaning is just one of many reasons I find Christianity superior to a wide variety of secular worldviews.  Thus I consider Christianity the proper antidote for the death of humanity.  Jesus told his disciples, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” [pg 287]

Yes, but to make a ‘case’ means delving into the ” sound philosophical, historical, scientific, emotional, and spiritual reasons to prefer monotheism and specifically Christianity to other religions.”  It wouldn’t surprise me if the publisher insisted on that subtitle, because Weikart himself acknowledges the limitations of the book (pg 20).  The ‘case for life’ is made by contrast, which is valuable in its own right, but for it to be in the title I think might raise expectations about the book, and therefore risk disappointments.

If I had published the book, I would have went simply with The Death of Humanity.

I would also recommend this book in conjunction with some others.   This one is a (much) more in depth treatment of Wesley Smith’s Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America.  If you’re just starting, I would go with Smith’s book, first.  But I wouldn’t by any means stop there.  I would definitely follow up with Weikart’s book, and then from there move on to the books I have listed for ‘further reading’ on my eugenics website.

Which will soon be updated to include Weikart’s well-written, well-researched, well-presented, The Death of Humanity.

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The National Popular Vote is Meaningless

I’m amazed–but not really–at the continued fixation on the disparity between the popular vote and the electoral count.  Not really, because I have spent the better part of the last decade studying the ‘left.’  The Democrats thrive on mob movements, so losing the election while winning the mob is perceived by them (accurately, perhaps) as a stake through the heart of their guiding principles.  They can be expected to harp on the disparity between the popular vote and the electoral count, tossing it like so much red meat to their base, while they unleash an unrelenting attack on Trump that will make Bush Derangement Syndrome look like no more than a nervous tic by comparison.  Watch for it.

Now, before I go further, let me say that I am sympathetic to the idea of getting rid of the electoral college.  I could get behind a national popular vote, provided that there were certain checks and balances.  For example, the power of the office of the presidency would have to be radically scaled back.  If a majority did elect someone nasty, it would be nice to know that there were limits to the damage that person could do.  (One wonders when the ‘left’ is going to see the value in such an idea!)  Or, the repeal of the 17th amendment, to give states back their ability to exert their influence more directly on the Federal government.

People on the ‘left’ are almost certainly not going to want to enact certain measures as part of an effort to dissolve the electoral college for the same reasons that they want to get rid of the electoral college in the first place, so, at least for now, I am thankful for the modest ‘check and balance’ provided by the electoral college.

All that said, with the system being the way it is at present, the national popular vote is meaningless.  It is a mere curiosity.  Whether that is good or bad is not my concern for this essay.  (I would lean towards ‘bad.’)

All these articles and comments saying that Hillary ‘won’ the popular vote are ridiculous and thoroughly misleading.

The problem is that the national popular vote does not give us a true measurement of what it is said to measure.  As with many other aspects of the real world, the measurement tool itself affects the results.

Much hay is being made over the fact that the voters in states like California and New York, where the largest margins for Hillary were run up, had their will ‘swamped’ by the voters in the rest of the country.  Well, I’m sure that the millions of Republicans in California know a thing or two about having their votes ‘swamped’, having watched every one of their state’s electoral votes go to Democrats over and over.  After all, California does not have a proportional system for allotting their electoral votes.

So, what happens when a Republican voter in California considers his plan for election day?  He knows that his vote is not going to mean anything, outnumbered, as he is, by countless Dems. Perhaps he figures he can ‘vote his conscience’ and throw in with Stein or Johnson. Perhaps he decides not to vote at all.

If, suddenly, his vote did matter on a national scale, perhaps he decides to put his vote for Trump.  Heck, maybe a California voter who voted for Hillary now re-considers.  In any case, the fact that it is not a national popular vote and is instead a ‘winner take all’ electoral allotment, affects the decisions that people make.

The same kind of considerations apply in every state.  In a state where there is no question that Trump is going to win, perhaps a GOP voter again decides to ‘vote his conscience,’ knowing he does not put anything at risk.  But if it were a national popular vote, he suddenly decides the stakes are too high, and he throws in his lot with Trump.  Or, a GOP voter who wasn’t going to vote at all, knowing his vote won’t change the outcome in a popular vote scenario, now decides to cast a vote.

And of course, these same kinds of factors are in mind for Democrat voters, too.

If the election were decided by a national popular vote rather than the electoral process, this would radically change the actual numbers because it would radically change voting behaviors.  It is entirely conceivable that in such a system, Trump would have still won.  (He has boasted that he would have, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was correct.)

Again, it is not my purpose to say whether or not this situation is good or bad.  It is my purpose to point out that the national popular vote is a meaningless measurement tool in our current system, and as such provides no basis whatsoever for cries that Trump is not legitimate, or whatever other claim will be made by those rapidly acquiring acute cases of TDS to justify their perpetual ‘outrage.’

It is worth mentioning that it is still the case that Trump’s national popular vote numbers are far better than we may ever know.  In some jurisdictions, absentee or mailed in votes are not even counted if it has been determined that they cannot possibly affect the outcome.  (Eg, Trump is winning by 100,000 votes and there are 50,000 votes still to be counted; these jurisdictions may not count them because even if Hillary got 100% of them, it would not matter).  And lets not forget the entirely plausible possibility that Hillary’s present lead is built on the votes of illegal aliens or some other fraudulent scheme.  The Democrats are known for such things, after all.

If ever the election were determined by a national popular vote, there would have to be significant introductions of checks and balances throughout the entire system in order to ensure that even that was a genuine representation of the ‘will’ of a majority of Americans.

In the current environment, you would be a fool if you thought that the results of even a national popular vote would be accepted.

By the ‘left,’ I mean.

It is sad, and more than a little disturbing, that the apparent disparity between the national popular vote and the electoral count is nothing more than a pretext for people who would have found some other pretext to justify their hostile actions and attitudes.

That is our current environment.

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Recap: Defending the Faith by Defending the Family

A couple of months ago, I began organizing my thoughts for some presentations I gave at a pastor’s conference.  The overall theme was ‘the need for apologetics in our culture’ which I took as an opportunity to offer an expanded understanding of the idea of ‘apologetics.’  This was borne from my observations and my research into what I have been calling the “anti-revival.”  The surge in non-Christians over the last decade or so has been remarkable, but most remarkable of all is that many of these were raised in a church.

Perhaps not coincidentally, they also tended to be the children born after the sexual revolution who, in the 1990s, were just coming of age.  If it isn’t a coincidence–and I argue it isn’t–then the underlying dynamics within the culture itself were instrumental in bringing about the “anti-revival.”  But, another important component was the failure of the Church to rise to the challenge.  Thus, what we mean by ‘apologetics’ must include reference to culture, and that most basic of cultural realities–the family.

For those who are interested in hearing those presentations and reading my blog posts organizing my thoughts (and insight into some of the aforementioned research), you may go here.  If your church or organization is interested in learning more about this phenomena and what can be done about it, email me at director@athanatosministries.org.

prri-religious-nones-chart

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Discredited for Collusion: A Blacklist of Members of the Media Complicit with the Democrat Party

There is an awful lot of bad press out there for Donald Trump.  An awful lot.  Some of it he deserved, but a lot of it was contrived and even outright lies.  His statements about Mexicans and the assertion that he mocked disabled people were grossly distorted, for example.  Such things can be added to a long list of examples where the media appeared to be complicit in a manufactured smear campaign.  As usual, the smears served the purposed of liberal Democrats.  But now, thanks to Wikileaks, we have documentary evidence that what was previously only deep suspicion is now demonstrated fact.  While I have no great love for Trump, per se, I do despise manipulation and deceit.

With the idea of keeping a permanent watch on media figures who have been compromised, I hereby propose that any time one of these writes an article, the rest of us summarily dismiss it.  In the comment section of said article, slap a big letter “C” on it and link back to this present post.  Might the “C” confuse some people, like Hillary Clinton?  Probably; some people are easily confused.  But I propose it stand for Compromised. 

I have begun a list below which I hope that people will help me add to by posting names and corroborating documentation of the journalists acting in concert with the Democrat party.  (If ever journalists are shown to be acting in concert with the Republican party, I will consider broadening the scope of this list.)

We need to hold the media more directly accountable for its intentional efforts to manipulate American opinion.  To that end:

  • If any person is shown to collaborate with Democrats while trying to pass off their work as ‘objective’, whichever media organizations that employ that person should FIRE THAT PERSON IMMEDIATELY.  Since I do not expect that this will happen, we need to proactively alert the reading public that the source cannot be trusted; hence labeling their work as Compromised.
  • If a journalist has donated to a political party, this should be listed prominently, so that the readers understand that the article might be biased.

For the record, it is my opinion that there is no such thing as a truly neutral or objective person.  The problem is not that people have biases.  The problem arises when they conceal their bias, and try to portray themselves as being objective.

The list to this point:

[I will link directly to the actual incriminating documents when I have time to do so.  In the meantime, one can dig them up themselves at Wikileaks.]

  • Haim Saban, chairman of Univision
  • John Harwood of CNBC, The New York Times
  • Rebecca Quick of CNBC
  • Maggie Haberman of The New York Times and Politico
  • John Harris, Editor-in-Chief, Politico.
  • Donna Brazile of CNN and the Democratic National Committee
  • Roland Martin of TV-One.
  • Dan Merica of CNN
  • Marjorie Pritchard of The Boston Globe
  • Louise Mensch, editor of Heat Street
  • Sidney Blumenthal
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Reflections on a Trump Presidency and its Significance

Liberal progressives are not the intended audience for this post, as they live in an alternate universe and are unlikely to understand the perspective my comments arise from.  What follows is a series of reflections, not a single coherent essay.  That essay (or essays), if it ever comes, will come in the weeks or months to follow.


Vignettes:

New boss, same as the old boss?

Like many people who voted for Trump, while I am glad for the outcome, I do not believe the underlying situation in the country is fixed.  Trump himself has invoked big government solutions, and the GOP has been tepid on this score all the way back to Nixon, who massively expanded the government.  Without radically scaling back the reach of the Federal government and facilitating the adoption of small government principles right down to the local level, the Trump victory is a mere bump on the road towards full-blown statism.  But a ‘bump’ is better than nothing.

The re-discovery of ‘checks and balances’

The Trump victory has forced liberal progressives into massive convolutions of hypocritical contortions.   After 8 years of applauding Obama for acting unilaterally and denouncing the GOP whenever it tried to assert itself (after all, it was elected in a landslide in 2010, 2012, 2014… and once again here in 2016… note to the GOP:  clearly people want you to assert yourself!), the left now wants the GOP to… assert itself.  Suddenly, scaling back the power of the presidency is a good idea! What a bunch of tools.  Well, the people who have elected the GOP with large majorities (Federal, state, and local) were small government types, beginning with the Tea Party in 2010.  And remember, right behind Trump in the primaries was Cruz.  So, yea, Congress should indeed ‘check’ the presidential powers, but in a specific way:  towards restoring the power to the people.

It is not Right vs. Left.  It is the Everyman vs. the Elite; Rural vs. City.

A great many Americans have come to the belief that there are as many Elites within the Republican party as there are in the Democrat party, the ‘official’ home of elitism.  It is the GOP’s fault for breeding this perspective, and by consequence, their fault for bringing Donald Trump to the top.  Rather than trusting that people can govern themselves (hence, small government principles), they have turned to ‘experts’ and policy wonks far removed from seeing the consequences of their decisions (ie, the administrative state).  That the ‘experts’ have completely fouled things up can be easily discovered by taking a trip to just about any small, rural town in America, and talking to the residents.  Since the ‘experts’ and ‘elites’ double as snobs, this is something that they don’t typically do.  The bottom line is that for all of Big Government’s claims that the economy is doing just fine, most of America knows with their eyes, stomach, and pocketbook, that that just ain’t so.

It is obviously stupid for those in the cities to ignore the plight of the countryside.  After all, where are the people in the city going to get their food?  When things go to pot (and I for one have no doubt this day is still coming), rural communities will wake up to their need, and the desirability, of depending on no one for their welfare.  And they will be fine.  Not so, the city folk.   In short, the city folk need the rural folk much more than the rural folk need the city folk, although the rural folk still have some adjustments to make (weaning themselves off of bureaucratic hand-outs, for example) before that’s fully realized.

In this election, the Dems not only put up the picture perfect example of a global elitist, they put up someone who embodies the corruption that the rest of the country associates with global elitists.  (Come on, be honest.  We all know that most of the ‘elites,’ ‘left’ and ‘right’, are corrupt to the core.) The election of Trump signifies wide repudiation of this paradigm, and the repudiation is not just of Clinton.  It is also a repudiation of elitism within the GOP as well.  Take heed, Republicans.  Take heed.

hate-speech-memeThe coming violence

The left genuinely believes that the Trump election represents the elevation of bigotry and fascism.  They don’t understand that they are the bigots.  They are the fascists.  We can expect that they will lash out violently.  Trump’s security team had better be on guard!  But every person who voted for Trump needs to be on their guard, too.  These people are nuts.  Grade A.  Here is an example that I came across just this morning.   Expect more of the same.

If liberals were at all in tune with the real world rather than the fiction of their making, they would see the Trump election as a strong indicator that they have strongly misunderstood the beliefs and attitudes of tens of millions of Americans.  They can either double down on their proclamations that these Americans are racists, or they can get off of their high horses and actually listen.  They can choose to align themselves with reality, or continue to persist with their unreal viewpoints.  So far, all evidence is that they have chosen the latter.  Rather than being humbled by their ignorance and arrogance, they are clinging to it even more tightly.  This does not bode well for the future.  They will lash out, and will do so with a clear conscience.  Or, they will encourage others to lash out.  Also with a clear conscience.  More on this below.

The Rise of Fascists in the State

holocaust-from-hate-speechIn the run up to the election, I saw the meme that you see to the right.  One of the statements is particularly telling:  “Because I believe that spewing hatred and bigotry is the greatest threat we have to our very existence.”

The abject stupidity of that statement is itself beyond words.  I suppose it is ultimately an indictment on our educational systems, because if anyone knew the slightest amount of history, they would know that the world’s most horrific events were done in the name of the ‘common good.’  Out of love.

I have a lot to say about this, but for the purposes of this vignette, the point is that unless the word ‘fascist’ is being used in its actual, original meaning–and those who use the term today almost never do–its invocation is almost certainly going to be used to justify all manners of violent behavior.

shooting-fascistsTo put it bluntly, in our current environment, to call someone a fascist is to give yourself permission to hate them.  And if you genuinely believe that fascism embodies “the greatest threat [to] our very existence” then it will appear to you to be a life and death struggle, where it may actually be necessary to take a life.

So it is, ironically, that the people who say that mere words (per the meme to the left) are what led to some of the history’s most horrific events are actually employing words that will be expressly used to justify violence.  See the meme to the right.

To deepen the irony, the ones closest to being a ‘fascist’ in its original meaning are the ones who resonate with such memes.  All they lack is singular personality to get behind who has access to the necessary levers of power–but then, the original fascists didn’t have the necessary levers or power, either… until they seized them.

Far more dangerous than the words is the ideology, which is willing to commit virtually any act, provided it is done for ‘the common good.’

What to do about it?

I have been thinking about what to do when the snowflakes finally turn violent, which, in my view, seems to be increasingly likely.

Normally, if people burn down a city, one would think that it is an appropriate function of the local government to put a stop to such things, but with these people, that is only giving them more evidence that the local authorities are fascists.

face-of-fascism

It doesn’t matter what Trump  or the GOP does in the next four years, the left is going to take to the streets on almost everything.   Its not going to be outlandish to think that some of those events will turn violent.  Its going to be the 1960s all over again. Perhaps the only way that people can see where the more substantial source of violent attitudes in this country arise (university classrooms) is to make it completely undeniable by simply not being present when these events turn violent.  Withdraw; the big cities are bastions of liberalism.  Let the liberals tend to the liberals.  Resist the urge to come to their rescue.  It will only be used against the rest of us.

In the meantime, perhaps we ought to look at what is being taught in the classrooms.

But, I don’t really know what the answer is.  I do know that it is imperative to be thinking about this right now.   They are desperate.

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It is not Us vs. Them; it is Reality vs. Unreality

I am writing this before we know who the next president of the United States is so that readers understand that the issues I’m raising are not tied to the election, even if they are manifested within it.  References to politics are for illustration only.
————

In America, politics often falls along distinct lines:  Republican vs. Democrat, Left vs. Right, Conservative vs. Progressive, etc.  In the present election, a new ‘line’ has emerged, between the Elites and the Rest of Us.

We are drawn to these lines because they are easier to see, but I would submit that the real fault line is between Reality vs. Unreality.  True vs. False.  And even, Right vs. Wrong.    But these latter two categories still flow from the former.

This fault line is much harder to detect for the same reason that there is only one correct answer to 2+2=x, but an infinite number of wrong answers.  What is Real falls necessarily into a narrow band, but that which is unbound from Reality knows no boundaries at all–until Reality asserts itself.

History shows that the further one gets from Reality, the more pain results when Reality asserts itself.

So, for example, if one said “I am immune from the effects of gravity!” and jumped off of a one foot high ledge, the correction wrought by Reality will be minor, and the effect can be written off by invoking some other (unreal) explanation for why it appeared that gravity was still in play.  If one now took that unreal explanation seriously and now jumped from a ledge one hundred foot high, the Reality is that you will end up as pulp, with no ability to invoke any more ad hoc (unreal) explanations.  Even the innocuous 2+2=x can be deadly; if you insist the answer is 3, and adamantly believed that after “x” cars have passed by you are safe to cross the road, the Reality of the correct answer of cars will prove you are wrong.  If the car is moving fast enough, you won’t ever learn that you are wrong.

There is this Real observation to make about those who move deliberately away from Reality whilst justifying their every move:  there always comes a point where Reality intervenes in such a way that it is no longer possible to learn the lesson, for the simple reason that YOU ARE DEAD.

These examples reference mathematics and the laws of physics.  Because people generally want to avoid pain, they do not stretch the limits of Reality too far in such areas.  But there are other areas where people can go quite a long way down the path of unreality before they themselves begin to feel pain.  Indeed, it is possible to set in motion attitudes and behaviors which do not yield their agonizing fruit until long after they are dead and buried.

Think:  the man who jumps off of an extremely high ledge with a baby in his arms, insisting he is immune from gravity.  He dies from old age before he hits the ground below; it is the now grown child that has the ‘pleasure’ of watching the ground draw close, pondering his upcoming fate as a human pancake.

From this analogy we also see that there are certain deviations from Reality which we can be rescued from, but there are others where, once the trajectory has been initiated, cannot be brought to an end without bringing the people to an end.  But it may not be within this generation that the people see that end.

One of the chief areas where people are motivated to pursue unreal explanations and accounts is the nature of humans, themselves.   If you have the wrong idea about what a Man is, you can be led to propose all sorts of schemes and ideas which–if you had the right idea about what a Man is–you know can only lead to pain and misery, if you let things play out long enough.

Perhaps the clearest example of this sort of thing is Communism.  Communism seemed like a great idea in the mid 1800s.  It took a solid 150 years before it was possible to look back and see that its end result was significant pain and misery.  But anyone with the right conception of Man could have predicted (and many did predict) what the end result would be.  As is frequently the case, advocates at the time denied such charges.  They could rest comfortably as they died of old age, self-assured that they had been right that no harm would come of their ideology.

It is indeed one of the greatest tragedies of modern times that many people have adopted many components of that same ideology and are once again trying to implement it.  Is it exactly the same?  No.  Like I said, the variants of unreality are infinite.  There are an infinite number of ways to get 2+2=x wrong.  But what they all share in common is that they are wrong.

Another good example, although not as clear (and therefore, requiring research, clear-thinking, etc), comes from the view that Man is an animal like any other, the result of common descent, as demonstrated–conclusively, according to the view of many–by Darwin.

Darwin, eager to please his teacher, made sure to send him a copy of his Origin of the Species. Darwin was not pleased at the response.  Writing to Darwin, Adam Sedgwick said:

There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical.  A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly.  Tis the crown and glory of organic science that it does, through final cause, link material to moral; & yet does not allow us to mingle them in our first conception of laws, and our classification of such laws whether we consider one side of nature or the other.  You have ignored this link;  and, if I do not mistake your meaning, you have done your best in one or two pregnant cases to break it.  Were it possible (which, thank God, it is not) to break it, humanity, in my mind would suffer a damage that might brutalized it, and sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history.[1]

Hurt by this response, Darwin replied: “I do not think my book will be mischievous.”[2]

As one person after another began taking Darwinism as Real, after about 70 years it was possible to see that it had been Sedgwick that had been correct, not Darwin.  It didn’t matter what Darwin ‘thought’ would happen, or what he ‘hoped’ would happen, or what he ‘preferred’ would happen.  Reality happened.

And that’s how it works.  That’s how it will always work.  It may not always happen the same way (there are an infinite number of ways to get 2+2=x wrong), but in the end, Reality cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  Or his child or grandchild reaps it.

dog-returning-to-vomitThere is a proverb that talks about a dog returning to its vomit.  Just as people are attempting to implement policies based on the flawed vision of Man embodied in Communism, hoping that this time it won’t end in the murder of tens of millions of people, people are once again attempting to implement policies based on the flawed vision of Man embodied in Darwinism.  I recently was shown a perfect example of a dog returning to its vomit, which I may treat at length at a later time.

Now, in my experience, the reaction to this post will consist largely of people arguing that Reality is not generally accessible with the kind of accuracy we can get with situations like 2+2=4.  Even after they read the qualifications I’m about to make, they will still insist that Reality is far too murky a matter to make absolute remarks about.  There is no black and white, only gray.  And they will say that it is ‘certainty’ that is the real chief cause of our woes.  Many will go further and say that there is no way of knowing what Reality is at all.  I have even encountered people who go further than denying our ability to know what Reality is, and deny that Reality exists, period.

These are the well-meaning people who will bring death down on the heads of millions.  I have nothing to say to them.  They are lost causes–to us.  They will only be persuaded–if they are ever persuaded at all–by Reality intervening. This essay is for the ones who still think that Reality is Real and that it is a worthy endeavor to try to align our life and thought with what is the actual state of the universe, even if we hoped it was otherwise.

So, yes.  There are many obstacles in our way of determining what is actually Real.  One of those obstacles is, indeed, the fact that we often very much wish that Reality was otherwise.  After all, who wouldn’t want to have an endless amount of pleasures without ever having to pay the Piper?

There are less pejorative obstacles:  we are limited to our five senses and our mental faculties, which our own experience has shown to make frequent mistakes; we can only be in one place at a time, such that we are often forced to rely on others for our insight into Reality, and they too are limited by their five senses and mental faculties, which has let them down as often as our own five senses and mental faculties have let us down; there are areas of inquiry which are blocked off to us completely, either because we lack the technological know-how to investigate them, or because they are in the past and can no longer be apprehended directly, or because we have not yet landed on the intuition that would open up that line of research… and so on.

And yet there are guidelines that can help.  Allow me to list a few.

1., if a certain behavior, attitude, or ideology does not correspond with Reality, it will eventually and ultimately end with someone’s death, whether their own, or someone else’s.  Often both.  Death can come about in various ways:

a., violations of actual laws of physics and biophysics (stepping in front of a bus going 60 mph)

b., engaging in behaviors that are intrinsically dangerous under the belief that the behavior can be engaged in without consequence (various sexual activities, resulting in STDs, etc)

c., de-personalizing other persons for convenience (unborn humans, ie, through abortion), or by logical inference (Darwinism, Islam, and some Christian heresies), or necessity (communism).

2., Proportion.

A good way to know when someone has veered far from Reality is by noticing how much they make of little things and how little they make of big things.  But how does one know if one’s own views are out of proportion?  See #1 above.

3., Perspective.

There is value in putting your nose right up against something in order to see it better.  You can get good detail that way.  But what it is, or whether or not it is important or not, can often only be seen by stepping back.  Sometimes you have to step WAY back.  In this essay, I have ‘stepped back’ to the 1800s to put certain ideas and ideologies into a broader perspective.  Many of the people advocating for positions that are fundamentally unreal do not ‘step back’ further than a year or two, twenty or thirty at the max.  To the degree that they do look further back in time, it is often only to whitewash their present fundamentally unreal position.  The dog returning to its vomit, that sort of thing.  How to know?  See #1 above.

4., Show your work!

Good math teachers drill into their students’ heads the necessity of ‘showing your work.’  Mathematics can be hard work, and as finding the right answer (if we believe ‘right answers’ exist) is often a multi-step process, documenting what we did in each step is critical for detecting our errors.  Ascertaining the true nature of reality is also hard work.  It is also a multi-step process, and on top of that, we are forced by the nature of things to employ different methods and ascribe different kinds of weights to different kinds of statements.

So, it is sad to say, many people refuse to ‘show their work’ when offering their opinions about the nature of reality.  Indeed, in my experience, they are often offended that they have to justify their viewpoints.  And no wonder, since their viewpoints often rest on nothing more than their guts, whims, and personal preferences.  They want us to take their viewpoints seriously, but they know if they share the real basis for those viewpoints, we absolutely would not.  This is why folks like this tend to resort to ridicule, ad hominem, arguments from authority, etc, instead of attempting to lay out a cogent argument.

‘Showing your work’ also entails knowing the history of an idea and how it connects to your own idea; typically, proponents of unreal perspectives will either deny that history or deny there is a connection, or sometimes do both at the same time.  ‘Showing your work’ entails recognizing when one is reporting an actual empirical fact versus drawing an inference versus relying on the expertise of another person altogether.  Many people are too muddle-headed to be able to parse out such things, but then, that’s why they need to ‘show their work’ if they genuinely care about aligning their own viewpoints with the way the world really is, versus what they wished it was.  Especially when one’s unreal viewpoint has the potential to create significant harm.  Again, #1, above.

I may add some others later, but as I have now crossed 2000 words on this essay and still have other things I need to do today, I’m going to leave it here for now and make some closing remarks.

So, it is rarely the case that people pursuing unreal policies are unreal all the time.  If one knows what a Man really is, than one understands that that can’t possibly be the case.  But even a broken clock is right twice a day.  True–but not very helpful.  And yet one can only know when the broken clock is correct by reference to a working clock.  Ironically, it is often argued that there are no working clocks.  (Hence why I wrote my book, The Golden Rule of Epistemology).  Piling irony on top of irony, these people who say that we can never really know what is right or wrong… still insist that you are wrong.

They may be well-meaning, but anyone who has such convoluted thinking can not be trusted with any levers of power.  Befriend them, be kind to them, laugh with them, and drink with them.  But never, ever, ever, rely on them for anything truly important.

See #1 above.

———————

[1]               Darwin Correspondence Database, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-2555 [Accessed on Tue Mar 4 2014].

[2]               Adam Sedgwick to Charles Darwin, December 24th, 1859.  Reproduced by Francis Darwin, ed., in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume II. (London;  John Murray, 1887),  249.

 

 

 

 

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Why this Christian is Voting for Donald Trump

I haven’t been in the mood to talk presidential politics; who the GOP nominee turned out to be is certainly a factor in that.  Nonetheless, after much deliberation (and assuming circumstances do not change drastically), I have decided to cast my vote for Trump.  The reasons are too diverse to present systematically (it would be a very long post) so instead, below are some ‘vignettes,’ as it were.

I should mention that this is autobiographical and not put forth as a persuasive piece.  Still, there are certain people–liberal progressives come to mind–who are not within my assumed ‘target’ audience.  I have no interest in justifying myself to them.  Let’s get started:

A lot of people thought that this woman, identified as Annaliese Nielsen, showed herself to be a complete nutjob in this incident.  Even liberal progressives thought that ‘maybe’ she had gone a little overboard with her conduct and her perspective is on the bizarre side.  Well, yea.

Now, two things came to my mind when I watched this that I didn’t see anyone else talk about.  First of all, there is her expectation that she will be perceived as the morally appropriate person in this situation, as indicated by her comments at about 1:30 that the video [time might not be accurate anymore as Youtube deleted the original] will be happily thrown up on the Gawker site.  “Why would she think that?” one wonders.

The other thought that came to my mind was:  “How are such people produced in the first place?”

The answer to both are roughly the same, and we know that answer will not at all involve conservative Republican Christian white males.  No, this is the product of a liberal progressive worldview that Nielsen has received and feels no shame in acting on.

So, perhaps this little video doesn’t scare you all that much.  Ok, imagine a million more people just like Annaliese Nielsen.

Now imagine them with police powers.

If that vision doesn’t send shivers down your spine, not much will.

These are precisely the kinds of people that the Democrat party produces, and then places into power.  How do you combat this lunacy?  How do you prevent this lunacy from manifesting into something far, far worse?  The GOP seems unwilling… afraid? … to challenge it.  Only Trump seems to have the backbone to stand up to such fascism.

* * * * *

Speaking of fascism.  Few people know what fascism really was.  Its equated with the ‘right wing’ when it was really, ideologically speaking, a creature of the left.  The only thing that makes it ‘right wing’ is the somewhat arbitrary decision to make ‘authoritarian’ regimes on the ‘right’ side of the political scale.  So, even though the Nazis were National Socialists, since it was an ‘authoritarian’ regime, Annaliese Nielsen believes that it is the conservatives who are closer to implementing Hitler’s policies–by Hitler’s methods.  Just because ‘conservatives’ are described as being ‘right wing.’

In fact, it is the opposite.

Since very few people (certainly your typical liberal has no idea) know anything about the Nazis or Mussolini (or the Bolsheviks, or Chavez… or, anything really) beyond what they read in one paragraph in a text book in eighth grade, they can’t possibly know that they are acting with the same kind of self-righteous rage, on behalf of the ‘common good’, as their forebears.

You can expect a country governed by people like Hillary Clinton to continue to fan these fascist flames.  The actual fascists, of course, will not know they are fascists, and will continue behave violently, and increasingly so, with the full approval of their consciences.

Meanwhile, the GOP stands timidly by, trying to satiate the bloodthirsty jackboots, instead of standing up to them and telling them exactly what they are, or, better yet, de-funding the programs and institutions that breed such attitudes in the first place.  Only Trump dares to stand up to them.

* * * * *

The Christian Conscience

I have heard many Christians talk about ‘voting their conscience.’  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that.  I’m very concerned about that, myself.  Clearly, Trump isn’t the sort of guy that I would have preferred.  I voted for Ted Cruz — who has his own problems.

But this election has exposed a flaw in my own expectations, eg, whether or not I am right to expect to have a morally sound person to vote for in the first place.  For decades, a Christian could expect that politicians would be sensitive and respectful to ‘value voters.’  But that’s only true in the United States, and its only true in this modern era.

I began thinking about all the instances throughout history where Christians were ruled by people who were not at all concerned about addressing the concerns of their Christian ‘constituents.’  The right to influence who the ruler is by voting is itself a relatively new phenomena.  As John Zmirak put it, “If We Reject Trump, We May Be Inviting Persecution: When the election is Constantine vs. Diocletian, Christians don’t get to stay home.”  The Christians of c. 300 AD didn’t really have any say in deciding between the two, as we do today.

But then I started thinking about Christians in countries like, say Iraq, while it was ruled by Hussein.  Christians voted for Hussein.  Probably because he would have killed them if they hadn’t!  But a new possibility has emerged in my mind:  maybe the Iraqi Christians, enjoying a certain measure of freedom to practice their religion, knew full well that being ruled by Hussein was far more preferable than being ruled by the ones that would gladly step into leadership, given the opportunity…

You know, folks like ISIS.

What about those countries where Christians only have the choice of Muslims to choose from when they cast their vote?  (If they get to vote at all.)

I’m just not so sure that we ever really had the right to expect that, when voting, we could be reasonably confident that the person was a decent chap.  Nor do I think it is right to say–as is implied by many Christians refusing to vote for Trump–that a vote for Trump is an endorsement of his attitudes and behaviors.

Honestly, if our vote represented that kind of endorsement, I dare say we really ought not ever cast a vote for anyone.

I am not saying that the vote does not signify a certain level of ratification of that person, because it is at least that, by definition.

But it seems to be blown way out of proportion with Trump.  Most disturbing of all, to me, are occasional Christians who normally vote Republican who are preparing to vote for Clinton.  What?!?!?  Are you insane?

Don’t vote for Trump on account of your conscience, but don’t vote for Clinton, either.  Don’t vote at all.  In fact, to be consistent, I think you should probably never vote again.

Anyway, there is no question in my mind that Hillary is going to continue to turn the screws on Christians and her fascist followers will gleefully pile on–all the more, since they will feel like society has their back.  Which perhaps it does, since it voted for Hillary in the first place.

* * * * *

Don’t Judge Me, Bro

I can’t help but notice that many of the same people who told me in 2012 that I needed to vote for Romney, despite the fact that he was a Mormon and a RINO… you know, saying, “Not voting is a vote for Obama” are now firmly in the “Never Trump” category, even going so far as to say they will ‘judge’ people like myself who do cast a vote for Trump.

I have trouble accepting the idea that Trump is anywhere near as bad as Clinton or Obama.

* * * * *

We’re in this mess because of the GOP.  Never Forget It.

I blame the GOP for bringing us the point where Trump is the nominee in the first place.  The only reason Trump had the support he did was because Republicans finally felt that there was someone standing up for them and the principles that were important to them.  This only begs the question:  why wasn’t the GOP standing up for them and the principles that were important in the first place?

The 2010 election was a Republican landslide.  The GOP did nothing to capitalize on it.  Indeed, when the newly elected “Tea Party” representatives tried to act on their principles, elitists in the GOP joined the Dems in slandering them, saying the TP folks refused to ‘govern.’  As if ‘governing’ meant continuing to support and expand bloated government intrusions into American life!  God forbid an elected official act according to the principles that got him elected in the first place!

2012 was another Republican landslide.  Many Republicans nonetheless did not cast a vote for Romney, ticked that the GOP once again had put up RINO as the candidate.

In 2014, the electorate once again showed its overwhelming support for the small government message initiated and sustained by Tea Party conservatives.

Despite 3 consecutive landslides for the GOP, in 2015, the GOP elite tried to give us… Jeb Bush.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

I think people misconstrue the support that Trump has been getting.  I was pleased that many of my fellow conservatives were as peeved as I was, thus accounting for the fact that Cruz stayed in as long as he did.  But I don’t think people understand that the rejection of Cruz, who for better or for worse would not have burned the system down, means that the ‘base’ has lost all confidence in the system–and the GOP’s role in perpetuating it.

If Trump does not win, I honestly can’t see the GOP coming back.   Even if Trump does win, I think it is just delaying the inevitable.  The elites are not on our side.

* * * * *

Yes, Clinton Probably Will Start WW3, and I have 3 Boys Approaching Military Age

People express concern about the harm that a President Trump can do, without balancing it against the harm that a President Clinton can–and would–do.  I agree with those who fear that a Clinton presidency will spiral inevitably into a war with Russia.  Clinton, you see, has much to prove, while Trump has nothing to prove.

Clinton, like most liberals, thinks she is the smartest person in the room.  In the meantime, the smartest person in the galaxy–Barack Obama–has been constantly out-smarted by that dolt, Putin.

Clinton and Obama both presided over the burning of the Middle East.   Remember, these are the geniuses!

You could literally put a dog catcher in charge of our military and not have to worry that the world will get screwed up any more than when Clinton and Obama were at the helm.

* * * * *

A GOP Congress Makes a Startling Discovery:  Checks and Balances!

There is another aspect of this concern about a dangerous President Trump.

I wonder that no one has had the presence of mind to question the wisdom of having a position that embodies so much power and influence distilled into a single person and his agents in the executive branch.  Are we really so stupid as to think it is a good idea to put the whole fate of the economy, our schools, etc, in the hands of ONE person?

It really is stupid.

It didn’t start out that way, and for good reason.  But it raises the point that if the checks and balances of the US Constitution were actually in place, there would be far less concern about the damage any one person could do.  Sure, the president couldn’t give us a ‘roaring’ economy if he were deprived access to the levers of the economy, but then, he can’t torpedo it, either.  The president couldn’t usurp our rights and liberties if his influence was subjected–in actual practice–to the US Constitution.

And this is where it gets crazy.

The House, Senate, and even the judiciary (for a time) were firmly in the hands of the Republicans during Obama’s reign, and they did almost SQUAT to stop Obama’s plainly unconstitutional over-reaches.  (Granted, this is in part because of the precedent set by allowing Republican presidents over-reach, too.)

The pressure was on, and they still didn’t act.  Remember Eric Cantor’s fate?  John Boehner’s?

But in a Trump presidency, a miracle will happen:  the US Congress, led by Republicans, will suddenly grow a backbone and decide to apply the checks and balances that they had legitimate access to all along.

They will do that, because the GOP elites will still, after a Trump election, fear the liberal media more than those who elected Trump.

If Hillary is elected, no backbone will miraculously appear.  The GOP will once again become a rubber stamp for liberal policies, offering nothing more than words of protest.

Its one more reason the GOP’s days are numbered; as a party, it is run by people more concerned for their own interests than the people they claim to represent.  The proof is always in the pudding.

* * * * *

Trump Is ‘Bad’ but Not Nearly As Bad as He Has Been Made Out to Be

Poor Donald Trump has been hammered in the media.  Just hammered.  But many people, including Republicans, think that Donald Trump deserves it.  You know, because of his low character, or what not.  The idea is that Donald Trump is a certain kind of cretin, worst of the worst.  A threat to democracy in the way that no other GOP candidate would be.

But we would be made to think that no matter who the GOP candidate is.

That’s kind of the point.

Every. Single. Election., the Democrats set out to utterly destroy whomever the GOP candidate is.  They destroyed Bush.  They set out to destroy McCain/Palin.  They set out to destroy Romney.

This was highlighted for me by the recent Project Veritas release where the guy (Scott Foval) was bragging about how they incited violence at Trump rallies.  In typical Saul Alinsky fashion, Foval (financed by the DNC, albeit indirectly) says, “It doesn’t matter what the friggin legal and ethics people say, we need to win this motherfucker.”

Don’t deceive yourself.  This is what every liberal progressive secular humanist thinks.  There is no objective moral code, right?  Of course the ends will always justify the means for such people.  It always has, and yet Republicans continue to think that the people on the other side of the ideological spectrum are more or less decent folk who, when the chips are down, still behave honestly and with integrity.  And sure, your average Dem on the street may be just that–but he’s just a dupe who hasn’t really thought out his own worldview.  If he had, he’d be just as manipulative as Alinsky, Obama, and Hillary.

But I digress.

The point is that they were going to destroy whomever was put up.  In this video, at about 11:32, Scott Foval brags about how they went after Scott Walker at the Iowa state fair.

 I suppose there are people who will find this kind of thing shocking.

If that is you, you evidently have not been paying attention.

We are not dealing with good people, here.  We’re talking about bad people who are perfectly happy to employ violence in the service of promoting their agenda.  They will continue to do so, for as long as we tolerate it.

It doesn’t matter who the nominee would have been.  It would have been made to look like our nominee is worse than Hitler and it is not inconceivable that we would be having this same kind of debate.

Full Circle Fascism

A liberal I know floated a post on Facebook about the underlying violent tendency of the average Trump supporter.  Regardless of the fact that we now know that many of the violent outbursts by Trump supporters were deliberately instigated, we can see with our own eyes that the real perpetrators have, more often than not, been people opposed to Trump.

It is not hard to understand why.  If you believe the line that being a Republican or conservative makes you a racist bigot, practically by definition, and you have been told throughout your upbringing that the worst crimes imaginable are ‘micro-aggressions,’ and opponents of Obamacare are selfish pigs beneath contempt (ie, ‘deplorables’), then of course you feel quite justified in handing out punishment–violently, even.

Examples abound once you know how to look for them.

But here is the rub.

No matter how the election goes, this fascism is going to increase.

If Hillary wins, the social justice warriors will ramp up, emboldened.

If Trump wins, I think you can expect the left to become positively rabid, openly discussing and hoping for his assassination.  These people are nuts.

So, does it make a difference who is elected?

Only in this sense:  a Trump election will buy us another couple of years to try to figure out how it is that Annaliese Nielsens and Scott Fovals are made, and STOP MAKING THEM.

I am not at all convinced that the situation is reversible.

* * * * *

A Polite Recognition

To conclude this weary post, one thing that I don’t think has been given proper weight to is the fact that Trump himself seems to be sensitive to the awkward bind that folks like myself are in.  He is crass, and rude.  He isn’t exactly the small government type.  He knows this.  But instead of tossing us to the side, he has embraced us.  He may not be a genuine Christian (I have trouble believing his conversion story) but he seems to be genuine in his respect for us.  He may not be an orthodox pro-lifer, but he didn’t throw us under the bus.

Every other GOP candidate has marginalized the Tea Party constituency and done everything in their power to disassociate themselves from them.  The GOP is ashamed of its base.

But Trump produced a list of judges that as near as I can tell, would definitely support conservative interpretations of the law (read:  a plain reading of it) and as such would not undermine the Constitutional protection of free speech, freedom of religion, gun ownership, etc.

Trump has brought conservative Christians into his campaign to serve as advisors, and taken their counsel seriously.

Trump has extended an olive branch to us time and time again, and people on my side have rudely smacked it away.

Now, it could very well be the case that Trump is just using us for our vote.  This wouldn’t be any different than what the GOP has been doing for decades, and certainly the likes of Jeb Bush would have done the same.  But it smells genuine to me.

He could have tried to build his campaign without the pro-life, small government constituency, but instead has doubled down on it, and even defended us publicly, as he did in the third debate.

We know that Clinton will continue to regard us with contempt, as nearly every progressive does.  And, frankly, as the GOP elite does.

It seems kind of strange that Trump would go down swinging on issues that are actually my issues, and I will reward that loyalty by letting him go down swinging, alone.

Do any of us think that any of the other candidates would have defended our values as audaciously as Trump has, albeit imperfectly?

Sorry, but as much as I like Scott Walker and Ted Cruz, I can still see them selling me out so as to appear ‘respectable’ to the media.

On balance, I would have preferred them, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have known what they were doing.

We will never get our values instituted if we don’t have someone willing to endure being called stupid by the media.

Donald Trump is one of the first, if not the only, persons who not only willingly endures such treatment, but doesn’t take it laying down.  Its probably our first shot in a long time for seeing our agenda actually implemented.  At any rate, it is probably our last shot.

So, I’m going to take that shot, with a clean conscience.

Win or lose, my friends, there is much, much, much work to be done.  The Trump ascendancy ought to signal that if we don’t get cracking on it, the next go around, the person who steps into Trump’s role of ‘system-slayer’ will be happy to throw us under the bus, and won’t take take Christian counsel, at all.

 

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An Apology for Apologetics: Defending the Faith Is Bigger Than You Thought (Part 7, the conclusion)

This is the seventh in a series meant to organize my own thoughts for some upcoming presentations.  The previous six are important.  Read them, here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.


If you have been reading through this series, you will have come to understand that defending the faith entails more than argument, evidence, and reason.  This is not how God intended for the faith to be transmitted from one generation to the next.  It was his intention that this happen through healthy, intact families.  Importantly, this was established before Man rebelled against Him, and just as importantly, this intention was sustained after the rebellion, re-affirmed in the last book of the Old Testament, then again by Jesus himself, and then Paul, too.

The relational context for transmitting the faith is often overlooked when talking about apologetics, but that is a big mistake.  One of the chief ideological obstacles to the faith, I have argued in this series, is Darwinism.  This, too, is often overlooked.  Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that many Christians have sought to accommodate Darwinism and integrate it somehow into the Christian worldview, and overlooked or refused to acknowledge, how contrary to Christianity and its transmission that Darwinism is.

If we’re talking about how God made the family as his mechanism for creating ‘godly offspring’ but you believe that we emerged from toe-sludge, even if part of God’s grand plan, your worldview contains elements that are like oil and water to each other.  It’s going to be hard to reconcile.  Not surprisingly, the trend has been such that when someone realizes the disconnect between these two ideas and recognizes that something has to ‘give,’ it has been the Biblical plan that has been dispensed with.

Daniel Dennett says that Darwinism is like a ‘universal acid.’  He’s right about that, although he is oblivious to the fact that a universal acid eats through itself, which is exactly what Darwinism does.  It also eats through marriage and the family.

Now, there have always been people who objected to God’s plan for the family.  One doesn’t need Darwinism for that.

For example, the Marxists recognized very early that if they wanted to transform society, they would first have to transform the family (ie, destroy it).  It is so obviously true, its a modern mystery that so few recognize it today.  At any rate, Marx gleefully owned up to the charge, crying out:  “Abolition of the family!”

That was in 1848, before Darwin published his Origin of the Species (1859).

But prior to Darwin, such sentiments were admittedly in the realm of one’s personal opinion.  Subjectively speaking, one might chafe at the constrictions of monogamous marriage, but one doesn’t have an objective basis for shredding the ‘traditional family.’  But Darwin put the rebellion on the (supposedly) firm ground of rock hard, truth–it was science, baby, science.   SCIENCE!

No wonder that both Marx and Engels were delighted by Darwin’s theory.  As Marx put it:  “Darwin’s work is most important and suits my purpose in that it provides a basis in natural science for the historical class struggle…”  (this site is a fascinating corroboration of the points I’m making in this essay.)

It ought to be no surprise to anyone that the first people to implement ‘no-fault divorce’ were the Bolsheviks.   (The Bolsheviks were communists, in case ya didn’t know.  See my other essays in this series for more on the impact of ‘no fault divorce’ on the transmission of the faith.)

Understanding exactly how Darwinism ate through marriage and the family requires more writing than I’m willing to do right now, but suffice it to say that when the animal kingdom exhibits so many different kinds of reproduction, its hard to think there is anything uniquely special about monogamy and so on.   The ‘old’ model had its evolutionary utility, of course, or else it would have never arisen, but now that we understand the processes involved (so the argument goes), we can tweak it or ignore it however we like.  Certainly, there is nothing particularly sacred about the ‘old’ model.

Not coincidentally, attacks on the fabric of society itself followed, too.  Why think there is anything special about a culture built on monogamous, heterosexual families?  Why not structure ourselves along the lines of the honey bee? Getting a bunch of worker bees to serve the elites is obviously a viable evolutionary model, as moral and proper as any other.  And so on.

So, just as it was the case that the Bolsheviks moved rapidly to undermine ‘traditional marriage’, socialists and progressives at the turn of the 20th century, equally emboldened by the blank slate won for them by Darwin, started thinking earnestly about just what kind of society ‘the smart people’ ought to build, now that the SCIENCE was in hand to do so.  And they did not just think–they acted.  The American Law Institute was instrumental in crafting the model ‘no fault’ divorce laws that were enacted in the US in the 70s, and it was loaded with people thinking (and acting) in these terms.

The problem here is that so much of what I’m saying is going to be new to 98% of my readers… even Christian readers… and therefore unbelievable.  How can it really be the case that the anti-revival (the rise of non-Christians from 5% of America’s population to 25% in just thirty years) can be tracked back to ideologies that thrived more than 150 years ago and were implemented by people we’ve never even heard about, a scant 100 years ago?

And yet it is precisely the case.

Because it will strike many readers as so unbelievable, its really best that you go out and learn it for yourself.  You won’t believe me, but maybe you’ll believe your own eyes.

Some places to start:  the Fabians, such as George Bernard Shaw… yes, the playwright! … who wrote in 1908:

It must be obvious to everybody that before we can begin to breed the human race with a view to its improvement we shall have to go further in the direction of political revolution than the most extreme Socialist at present advocates in public.

It is evident we need an entire abolition of property and marriage as we understand it, almost as a preliminary step.  I do not see any way out of that.

See how it is all connected for Shaw?  Darwin… re-structuring society… abolition of property and marriage–as a preliminary step.  He also advocated for murder by the state.  What a guy, that playwright!

Other names you might want to look at include Sydney and Beatrice Webb (also Fabians), Julian Huxley, Margaret Sanger,  The Rockefellers (starting with John D. the 3rd), William Draper Lewis, the founder of the ALI, and so on.

What is important to understand is that I am not laying out a conspiracy theory.   These people merely followed through on the things that they believed.  Likewise, people today.

So, if you believe that people are mere animals who have lately ascended from pond sludge, you will regard both your fellow man, and yourself, with the dignity that you tend to ascribe to pond sludge.

Why get worked up about one pile of pond sludge proposing easy dissolution of a pair of sludge-piles?  Why think there is anything special about the fact that one sludge-bag has one kind of genitalia and another has a different kind?  Evolution produces all kinds of ways of reproducing, why consider the human animal’s traditional mechanism as worth retaining?  And if certain sludge-sacks seems to be making the pond into a cess pool, what’s the real harm if you just eradicate them?  At the very least, disposing of the already disposable who are suffering or might suffer, or would be suffering if only they considered their situation more objectively, is just a matter of course.

You don’t need a conspiracy.  All you need is one guy or gal to come along who feels particularly strongly about one of these points and have enough people who basically agree with them shrug their shoulders.  What they are proposing is ‘no big deal.’

And to them, its ‘no big deal’ because it follows rationally from Darwinism, which they have been assured is ABSOLUTE FACT.

Christianity proclaims that humans are made in the image of God, and therefore have intrinsic dignity; human relations are not to be trifled with–especially those that were built by God himself; people are not, by nature, disposable–they are, by nature, broken, but this was not how it started, and it is not how it will end; we are not disposable, but we are redeemed.  Any society that tends to view people in such terms will generate a culture that tends to affirm those values.

The implications of Darwinism stand opposed to all of that.  If you want to know what kind of society is generated by people who take such a line, a study of countries that did just that in the 20th century will give you a solid clue.  Or you can just look around, because we are presently engaged in constructing just such a society.

————-

So, in a previous essay I made mention of the startling fact that the rise of the ‘religious nones’ started abruptly in the early 1990s.  I proposed and defended the theory that this was explained by the fact that this is when the children raised under the ‘no fault divorce’ paradigm themselves came of age.

I left the faith, albeit briefly, right about that same time–the winter of 1992-93.  At the time, the thing that really ‘got’ me were so-called ‘contradictions’ in the Bible.  Despite 12 years of Christian education, this was the first time I had read the Bible for myself.  When one reads the Bible for themselves, and has half a brain, there are undeniably difficult things to make sense of, especially if you had not been prepared somehow to deal with them.  I was not prepared.

For years, I put a lot of stock in the fact that my Christian education let me down.  The charge is not without merit.  There is no question in my mind that Christian schools and churches do not do near enough to prepare people for the challenges raised in the wider world.  But remember what I said in an earlier installment:  a church only has access to someone for 2-4 hours a week at best.  A school only has access to someone for 30-40 hours a week.* The people with the most access to someone are the parents.

My parents were divorced when I was about 8 years old.  There were plenty of bitter moments that came after that.  I have nothing but scorn and derision for the people who blithely talk about the dissolution of marriages as though they do not inflict a great deal of harm on all the parties involved.  Growing up in that context, and then as a teacher interacting with dozens of children who grew up the same way I did, I know that such easy talk is itself the talk of children… childish words coming from adult mouths.

Was this divorce instrumental in facilitating my own unbelief?

Yes, but not necessarily for what it did, but rather what it did not do.  My parents, despite having ‘access’ to me for many more hours than my (Christian) school, did not make up the difference by grounding me thoroughly in the facts of the Christian faith.  I’m not saying we didn’t have good conversations.  But we never talked about Bible contradictions, that’s for sure!  The whole context of a full decade of my early life was composed of wrestling with issues and problems that were, at the time, more pressing.  So, when I finally got around to getting my own legs underneath me, the ‘ground’ as Christians perceive it was wobbly, to put it mildly.

In the end, it is evident to me that you have need to have everything working together, and if you put all your emphasis on one thing and not the other, you risk losing souls by the bushel.  The churches and Christian schools have to tackling serious topics in a robust manner, prepping the young for a world that is hostile to the faith.  The parents have to be doing the same–and the endeavor ideally shouldn’t be undercut by the fact that the parents don’t even live with each other, or hate each other, etc.

What needs to come out of this ‘all hands on deck’ upbringing is not just the absolute conviction that Christianity is a FACT, but the same grounding for that conviction that is given to them regarding Darwinism.  So long as Christianity is regarded as merely a ‘religious’ matter, it will always get run over by Darwinism, which is presented as SCIENCE.**

When that happens, people just act, well, naturally.  You tell them they are animals and it is PROVED don’t be surprised when they act like animals and turn their nose up at claims that they perceive are DISPROVED.

And don’t be surprised when young Christians put up a tepid defense when the situation presents itself in these terms, and they too, act, well, naturally.

I am available to present on these topics at length.  Contact me at director@athanatosministries.org.

* I am well aware of the unspoken ‘big’ issue reflected in that remark, but its not the purpose of my series, so it will have to wait for another day.
** In truth, Darwinism contains more religion than Christianity does, and Christianity bears more directly on  science than Darwinism does.  But we teach Darwinism in the SCIENCE CLASS!  Christianity does not get taught in the public schools, and when it gets taught at church, its presented as cute cartoons, and garnished with heaps of entertainment, because obviously the only way anyone will take it seriously for very long is to make them think it’s ‘fun.’

 

 

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An Apology for Apologetics: Coming to Grips With Hard Truths (Part 6)

The first five parts of this series are important for following the reasoning of this.  Read them, here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

At the end of part five, I quoted from the prophet Malachi, chapter 2:

You cover the Lord‘s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

While I think even a smidgen of introspection brings one to the obvious, nay, the self-evident conclusion, that the health and structure of a family will leave a deep imprint on a child, I don’t tend to hear many people talk about the fact that we have an explicit Biblical text which connects the God-ordained institution of marriage with the transmission of the faith.  This passage does more than that:  it explains that the transmission of the faith was part of God’s actual intended purpose for making the man and the woman ‘one flesh.’

Importantly, this formula harkens back to Genesis 2… before the fall of Man.  Malachi repeats it, Jesus doubles down on it, and Paul references it explicitly as well.  The institution may be damaged, but it is clear that it is not in anyway abandoned.  God’s intention for marriage remains in place; probably because humans were made in such a way so that this intention is ‘built into’ who we are as humans.  It is not an arbitrary construct.  So long as humans are human, the ‘traditional framework’ will always tend to give people the satisfaction they genuinely seek, and children, being made the way they are, will flourish or fail insofar as they are raised inside or outside of the framework God made them for originally.

When I first started organizing my thoughts in this blog series, I was reviewing my research, and the following chart really struck me in a way it had not previously.religious-nones-since-1992

The different lines represent the findings of different surveys over the last forty years or so, and all of them show basically the same thing:  beginning in about 1990, there has been a sharp, unrelenting increase in the number of ‘religious nones’ in the United States.  We are talking about a shift of tens of millions of people away from Christianity, with no reason to think those people are coming back.  Setting aside the obvious fact that such a shift cannot but leave a mark on the larger culture, it suddenly hit me that a change as distinct as this likely had a distinct cause.

What could have happened c. 1990 to have set off such a dramatic increase of ‘nones’ after remaining more or less steady for almost 20 years?

I tried out a variety of theories.  There are a number of likely suspects.  The schools, for example.  One thing I found fascinating, though, is that the trend started prior to the mass acceptance of the Internet (which almost certainly has helped fuel the rise since).  But as sinister as much school curriculum is (or as some curriculum designers are, anyway) it is hard to imagine anything being implemented c. 1990 in the schools and having such a vivid and measurable result in so short of time.  You would have to go further back.

I’ve played with a variety of theories, and the one that makes the most sense is the disintegration of the institution of marriage in the US itself.

marriage-rates-since-1970

It doesn’t look like much until you overlay them:

nones-marriage-overlay

Now, the timing and possible correspondence is easier to see.

In the mid-70s, marriage rates began to tank, and divorce rates shot up to record highs.  About 20 years later–about the time when the children of those born in these families will have started coming to age–the rise of the ‘religious nones’ is distinctly measured.

What happened in the mid-70s?

N0-fault divorce rapidly became the law of the land.

Cause, or merely correlation? So far, this is the best theory I’ve got.  It’s backed up by a recently released study that not only references the rise of the ‘nones’ but specifically addresses the role of broken homes in fostering an ‘unaffiliated’ mindset.

Their chart of the ‘religious nones’ includes the 2016 figures.  The spike and timing of ‘nones’ is easy to spot:

prri-religious-nones-chart

A full 25% of America’s adult population now reports as ‘unaffiliated.’

Let that sink in.

The connection they make to marriage and divorce in this context is compelling:

Previous research has shown that family stability—or instability—can impact the transmission of religious identity. Consistent with this research, the survey finds Americans who were raised by divorced parents are more likely than children whose parents were married during most of their formative years to be religiously unaffiliated (35% vs. 23% respectively).

Rates of religious attendance are also impacted by divorce. Americans who were raised by divorced parents are less likely than children whose parents were married during most of their childhood to report attending religious services at least once per week (21% vs. 34%, respectively). This childhood divorce gap is also evident even among Americans who continue to be religiously affiliated. Roughly three in ten (31%) religious Americans who were brought up by divorced parents say they attend religious services at least once a week, compared to 43% of religious Americans who were raised by married parents.

It would seem, therefore, that the best defense of the Christian faith that we could make would not be on intellectual grounds but on facilitating and maintaining healthy, happy homes… where, of course, the parents, and the father in particular, is prepared and enabled to effectively equip their children with a solid foundation in the faith.  We don’t escape this important part of the equation, just because we see how important the family is in helping that ‘equipping’ flourish and bear fruit.

This much was covered in part 5.

But here is the problem:  ‘no fault’ divorce did not spring up in our society spontaneously, as some kind of unguided, natural progression.  It was ‘sprung’ on us, as part of a greater war on the family that has a much longer history than most will realize.  In fact, if I were to begin telling you details of it, most of you would scoff and dismiss it as conspiracy mongering.  So, it is best, probably, that you discover it yourself.  One of the most informed on this specific topic is Dr. Ryan Macpherson, who in several places ably tells the story of how ‘no fault’ divorce was imposed on the United States through deliberate cunning.

But it essentially boils down to this:  certain people came to realize that if one wants to remake society, they must first remake the family.  And to first remake the family, the family must be destroyed.

While proponents of this view generally took the line that liberalizing the marriage laws would not harm the institution of marriage but rather strengthen it (only those marriages that were solid to begin with would stay together), the decline in the marriage rates alone tells a different story.  There are, however, many ‘smoking guns’ in their own literature which suggests that they knew very well what the outcome would be, and were counting on it.  They knew, or at least strongly suspected, that the ‘family’ would be fractured, and, as an inevitable result, there would be a national turn towards what we might call socialism.

One of my favorite illustrations of this is the Jaffe Memo, something that I have been exhaustively studying ever since I came across it.

Jaffe Memo - Horvath - image

The value of this document is how it shows, on a single page, the kinds of things liberal progressives were considering implementing about 45 years ago.  Notice how restructuring the family is literally the first thing your eye.  Notice, too, the myriad of things that they were happy to politicize to obtain their goals.  From where you live, to how much money you make, and yes, marriage itself.

This is why it is extremely dangerous for Christians to accept the line that we should keep our religion out of politics.  In the 1920s, perhaps, that would work.  But these people have made everything political.  To keep your ‘religion’ out of politics, given the fact that a liberal views all of reality and every person on the planet as their personal plaything, would amount to a complete and utter surrender to people who cannot be trusted even with small things.

If they have decided to put marriage in the political arena, we are compelled to meet them there.  If we do not, and marriage rates continue to fall, and the ‘traditional’ family continues to disintegrate, the trends plainly show that there will be so few of us left in 20-30 years, that we will not be able to make a difference, even if we wanted to.

Now, if this sounds a little conspiratorial, I think the real truth is that you, dear reader, are not paying attention.  What I am talking about has already been well-charted.  G.K. Chesterton covered it in 1922, in his Eugenics and Other Evils.  C.S. Lewis tackled it in the 1950s, directly in The Abolition of Man and indirectly in That Hideous Strength.  Francis Schaeffer tied it all together very nicely in the 1970s with How Should We Then Live?  What is unfolding around us did not start recently, and there have been ample warnings.  Where have you been?

Which brings us around, I think, to some hard truths that we have to come to grips with in the Church.

First of all, we have to acknowledge that there are people actively and intentionally infusing our society with ideologies that are hostile to Christianity–and hostile to the transmission of Christianity.   And Christians themselves have imbibed those ideologies, uncritically.  They’ve been absorbed from the culture, and we are reaping the results.

If we wish to defend Christianity, then we have to be prepared to identify and equip each individual in our congregation with awareness of what these ideologies are, how they function, what their goals are, and so on.   In much the same way that Al Qaeda declared war on the U.S. but the U.S. was tragically slow to reciprocate, secular humanists have declared war on Christianity, and Christians have been slow to reciprocate.  I know many Christians who think that the purpose of the Church is, nigh exclusively, to preach the Gospel.  But these issues are connected to that purpose, because failing to address them robustly means a less receptive audience, or even a hostile one.  Most embarrassingly, it means having people leave the churches themselves, as we have seen happen in the last thirty years.

Second of all, we cannot regard the collapse of ‘traditional marriage’ as a mere political matter or simply the circumstances we happen to find ourselves in, as though it does not have a bearing on the Gospel.   It obviously does.  It does from a Scriptural point of view–Malachi 2, Jesus’ teachings on divorce, and Paul’s comments in Ephesians 5, come to mind.  But it has implications that are not obvious, such as what we are seeing with the mass exodus of Christians away from the church.  It was the children that left.

Third of all, we simply must learn to think and act trans-generationally.  The secular humanists do!  In other words, we have to be thinking about where things will be in thirty, or sixty or even a hundred years.  I was a professional church worker for about 7 years… we rarely thought further out than 1 year.

But, just as it took some 45 years for us to begin seeing the actual results of policies established in the 1970s (the results began manifesting in the 1990s, but we didn’t recognize them for what they were until more recently), some of the biggest and most important shifts that we see in our culture happened many years ago.  Before many of us were born, in fact.

While we can do nothing about the legacy of those who came before us, we can yet do something for those who will come after us.

And we must.

 

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An Apology for Apologetics: ‘Good Soil’ for ‘Good News.’

I am four parts into a series organizing my thoughts in advance of an event I’ll be speaking at.  The other parts are important.  You should read them.  (1, 2, 3, 4).

In the context of the rise of ‘religious nones,’ in the last part I highlighted the fact that the Church cannot compete against hostile ideologies because young people are exposed to them 40 hours a week (minimum) but spend comparatively little time within the scope of the Church’s influence.  But, even when the Church ‘has’ them, churches foul it up, making it more likely that a young person will leave the faith if they go through a congregation’s educational programs than if they hadn’t at all.

I concluded with a statement of the obvious:

A person raised in a healthy ‘traditional’ family (eg, a happy mom and dad) where the parents are well-grounded in the faith is much more likely to grow up to be a Christian and remain one.

and:

Moreover, research shows that it is profoundly crucial that the father in the family is the one that spearheads the transmission of the faith.  (There are obviously going to be exceptions.  We’re looking at the aggregate, here.)

The obvious implication is that if we wanted to reverse course, we would be investing our 2-3 hours a week in equipping Christian parents with deeper understanding of the truth of Christianity, especially the men.  And… and this is important… we would be investing our time in ensuring that those parents have healthy marriages.

Now, I think it is clear that the American church in general has missed the mark on this.  Oh sure, many American Christians, especially of the conservative slant, understand that there has been a pervasive war on the family which has only intensified.  If they didn’t think so before SCOTUS disenfranchised tens of millions of people who opposed gay marriage, they know it now.  However, the Church in America has been very tepid in its response, decade over decade, and I think I know why:

The defense of the traditional family has moved to the political arena, and aren’t Christians supposed to stick to the preaching of the Gospel?

Certainly, this is the tact that secularists have taken over the last fifty years or so.  They love this idea, because it means that they get a free hand to do anything they want in society.  Our hands are not merely tied, but we tie our own hands, ourselves, out of a sense of ‘fair play.’

Meanwhile, the secularists move as many things as they can into the political arena.  Remember how it used to be that if you wanted to have a polite conversation, you limited it only to talking about sports or the weather?  Even that has become political.

And Christians are to stay out of things political.  It is not hard to see how this plays out in the long term.

Yet, if I am right in my analysis–and I am–a healthy and happy married man and woman are not merely the ideal framework for raising a child that is likewise healthy and happy, and yes, godly, it is God’s actual design.  Which means that if it gets mucked up, we can expect unpleasant things to occur.

Thus, the sound maintenance of ‘traditional’ marriages are an essential part of the proclamation of the Gospel.  You know, that ‘one’ thing that Christians think they’re supposed to stick to.

It is not essential in the sense of “you must be happily married to be saved.”  It is essential in the sense that the Gospel is ‘good seed’ which will flourish if it falls into ‘good soil’ (and it is always God that gives the increase).  Happy and healthy family relations are instrumental in creating that ‘good soil.’

And so, inversely, broken family relations facilitate the creation of ‘bad soil.’

Now, I think with a little introspection, most Christians will be able to see how it all works (eg, its hard to talk about a loving father if in fact the only father someone knows–if they know the father at all–is an ass).  It is not my purpose in this essay to get into the mechanics.  Instead, I want to jump off of something I said in part 4:  “research shows that it is profoundly crucial that the father in the family is the one that spearheads the transmission of the faith.”

Again, I think most Christians already have a sense of that, from their own experience, etc.  But as it relates to the rapid rise of the ‘religious nones’ (part 1 and 2 of this series), I think it will be good to present some of that research, or at least some direction for those who want to pursue their own.

My purpose here is to double down on my assertion that a defense of the family is crucial to a defense of the faith, showing that it is not simply my opinion.  The connection is real.  That being so, what are you going to do about it?

From Sticky Faith by Dr. Kara Powell and Dr. Chap Clark:

… our research shows a relationship between this parental support and Sticky Faith. But parental support, while important is not the only way you influence your child.  More than even your support, it’s who you are that shapes your kid.  […] How you express and live out your faith may have a greater impact on your son or daughter than anything else. [pg 23-24, emphasis added]

From David Kinnaman’s UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity:

… it is no exaggeration to say that Busters and Mosaics are fatherless generations. […] Our research consistently underscores this reality:  efforts to connect people to God are frequently undermined by the lasting negative influences of absent, abusive, or negligent parents.  [pg 139, emphasis added]

From How Families Still Matter:  A Longitudinal Study of Youth in Two Generations, by Vern Bengston:

When there has been a parental divorce, the transmission of values from parents to children is weaker.  In the divorced LSOG [longitudinal study of generations] families there is little correspondence between the values of parents and those of their children.  By contrast, among two-parent families there is a sizable resemblance between the values that parents hold and the values that their children hold. [pg 147]

What inferences do you draw from this quote from Robert Wuthnow’s After the Baby Boomers:  How Twenty-and Thirty-Somethings are Shaping the Future of American Religion:

No matter which age group they are in or whether they have children or not, married men and women are more likely to attend religious services than unmarried men and women.  This pattern again underscores the significance for religion of the fact that fewer people are marrying now than they did a generation ago and that those who do marry, marry later. [pg 65]

Wuthnow also makes this intriguing observation:

The other thing these data demonstrate is that young men are significantly less likely to attend religious services regularly than young women, no matter what their family status is. [pg 64]

Given that women make up a significantly larger proportion of those who identify as religious, but the presence of good, godly men in a relationship is a stronger indicator of whether or not the faith will be transmitted to the next generation, the fact that young men–whether they are growing up in happy families or not–are not going to church as often as women are, does not bode well for future generations.

Pew’s 2015 RLS reports that those who self-identify as Christian are 54% female, and 46% male.   The ‘unaffiliated’ are 41% female and 59% male; atheists are 70% male.

Connect the dots.

There really is no shortage of data to accompany our experience and intuition that shows that healthy, intact, ‘traditional’ marriages are a huge factor in generating what Powell and Clark called ‘sticky faith.’  So, the real question is why is this not our primary emphasis?

I have been researching this issues intensively for almost ten years now, and talking about them pretty openly, but I have rarely been asked to speak directly on them.  Is it because it is so obvious?  If it is so obvious, why are we investing so little in it?

I see many speakers addressing the defense of the Christian faith, ie, apologetics, and I see many speakers talking about the war on the family, but rarely do I see anyone who puts them together as I do, even though in the great scheme of things, we all know that they are intimately tied together!

Allow me to illustrate.

I quoted Kinnamen.

Despite indicating that his research “consistently underscores” the relationship between connecting people to God and “lasting negative influences of [bad] parents” there is literally no mention, whatsoever, of meeting the challenge of the rise of ‘religious nones’ by strengthening and equipping Christian parents.  Literally nothing.

His book, and Barna’s research more generally, certainly does a good job of summing up what people think, what their impressions are, etc.  The observation is made that ‘Busters’ and ‘Mosaics’ are fatherless generations, and hints at the implications, there isn’t a peep about how those generations became fatherless in the first place, or any suggestion that perhaps things could be reversed by re-introducing fathers into the picture.

Yes, his recommendations are not all bad, even if dated.  (In 2007, there was still the belief that despite the decline in attendance at church, most people remained ‘spiritual.’  Ten years later, we know that this was a passing phenomena.  Many ‘religious nones’ are spiritual, but they are increasingly secular and atheistic.)  However, they must be seen as touching only on the symptoms.  The ‘disease’ is that the very framework for the transmission of the faith which God himself established has been fractured.

Powell and Clark also seem to understand the importance of godly parenting in transmitting the faith, but nowhere in their recommendations is any suggestion that perhaps we could head off most of our problems at the pass if only our churches were filled with thoroughly grounded married men and women who didn’t delegate the transmission of the faith to the churches–where, I would remind the reader, the young people will at best spend only 2-3 hours a week at.

Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church, also offers decent recommendations, although it is dated in the same way Kinnaman’s is.  I have no doubt that he is very familiar, on a practical level, with the brokenness of this generation.  And yet, all the solutions center around what the congregations can do based on how the church is perceived by those turned off by the faith.  Congregations, where at best, people will only spend 2-3 hours a week interacting.

I like Wuthnow and Bengtson’s contributions, but they also merely describe what the ‘nones’ or ‘unaffiliated’ etc are thinking, rather than how they came to think that way in the first place.  Bengston came closest with his observations about value transmission in two parent households.

Wuthnow, I think, very helpfully leads the horse to water, but he himself does not drink.  In describing the characteristics of the current generation (this is again from 2007, though), he lists these trends:  Delayed Marriage, Children–Fewer and Later, Uncertainties of Work and Money, Higher Education (for Some), Loosening Relationships, Globalization, Culture–An Information Explosion.

As if all these things just happened by accident!  Think about all the ‘political’ elements intrinsic to these topics these days.

Bengston is only slightly better; he does not deny that [pg 32, emphasis added] “the high rate of divorce [is] a major assault on family functioning.” He allows that “divorce diminishes parent-child contact, especially with fathers.”  And that, “Divorce often leads to a decline in children’s living standards due to the greater likelihood they will live with their mother, whose income is often far less than the family income prior to the divorce.”  He concedes that there will be a decline in the “quality of parent-child relations.”  However, after all that, he thinks that perhaps the difference is made up by others in the family.  Well, sometimes, sure.  But are we not straining a bit to deny the obvious interpretation of the data?

The various surveys I have already mentioned suffer from many of the same problems.  For example, in the 2015 Pew Research Study reports that in 2007, 56% of Christians were married, while 46% of the ‘unaffiliated’ were.  In 2014, it was 52% and 37%, respectively.  Certainly, when we take into account what we’ve already discussion about marriage being an indicator of church attendance, and note the decline in marriage rates, it helps us see very clearly where the winds are blowing.

However, what would have been most interesting here is knowing the family structures the ‘unaffiliated’ themselves had growing up.  Yea, its good to know where they stand now, but how were they raised?  Was an ‘unaffiliated’ person raised in a single parent household to begin with?  Probably;  we can infer it from demographic studies more generally, but it would have been helpful if Pew had sought out concrete data on the matter.  (If they do, I have missed it).

Even one of my closest ‘allies’ as far as my perspective might go failed to measure this.  Ken Ham’s Already Gone definitely puts his finger on it when he says,

If you, as a parent, have been putting the responsibility for the religious education of your child on your church’s Sunday school, you need to realize that the statistics say the job isn’t getting done.   As we have seen, in many cases and for many different reasons, it’s not helping, it’s hurting.  So this Sunday, don’t feel like you have absolved yourself of responsibility when you drop your child at Sunday school.  This is your job.  Do not totally delegate it to someone else — as, sadly, many parents seem to do.  [pg 50]

Ham commissioned a study that specifically and exclusively targeted non-Christians, asking them about their beliefs, their current family structure, family’s church attendance, and so on.  It was a unique opportunity to also ask, “When you were growing up, who was the biggest influence on your religious upbringing?  Were your parents divorced?  Did you believe your parents were well-informed about their beliefs?  Etc.”

But despite all the clues and signs showing that these questions concern the most foundational areas related to the effective transmission of the faith, Ham and Beemer, like most of the others I’ve mentioned and consulted, did not even ask them about those items!

Now, you could say that each of these sources had their own particular purpose in mind, and what I’ve been talking about wasn’t that purpose.  You could mention that each had their own limitations and scope.  They focused on things easier to measure, such as church attendance.  Fine, fine.  I won’t object.

Nonetheless, what almost all of them seem to know is that the decline of the traditional family corresponds roughly to the ‘anti-revival,’  and all fail to exhaustively connect that dot.

Like most everyone, it seems.  Well, we wouldn’t want to connect that dot, would we?  That would mean venturing into the ‘political,’ would it not?

Was God being ‘political’ when he ‘connected this dot’ explicitly in Malachi 2?

You cover the Lord‘s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

 

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An Apology for Apologetics: The Church Response (part 4)

I am three parts into a series organizing my thoughts in advance of an event I’ll be speaking at.  The other parts are important.  You should read them.  (1, 2, 3).

At the end of part 3, I wrote:

But now see it from the viewpoint of the Christian Church trying to size up the problem and come up with a response.  How exactly is the Church going to compete against a set of ideologies and attitudes presented to young people as true for the first eighteen years of their lives, day in and day out, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months out of the year?  What does the Church have to put up against that?

The ideologies and attitudes presented are wide and diverse, but nearly all of them undermine Christianity.

Chief among them, as argued, is Darwinism–or, as Dennett puts it–the ‘universal acid.’  Why?  Because it eats through everything.  (Dennett doesn’t realize that as a universal acid, it also eats through itself, but that’s a different essay).  It is easy to think that the extent of Darwinism’s reach is limited to questions of origins, and thus its main attack on a Christian worldview would be an attack on Genesis 1-11.  It wouldn’t be a ‘universal acid’ if it had such a targeted effect, though, would it?

Not to dismiss the challenges of Darwinism to Genesis 1-11, but the problem is that these challenges are not abstract.   If people really believe that Darwinism is the correct account for the rise of biological life on this planet, there are extensive ramifications.  And frankly, I just don’t think the Christian Church has come to grips with this fact.

One of those ramifications is that man is just an animal.

Well, if you really believe that man is just an animal, many things follow.  It means, for example, that he can be conditioned like an animal.  Think Pavlov and his dog.

For those who are inclined to look, you will find a great many people operating on this assumption.  I’m talking about people in the media, curriculum designers, globalists, etc., etc.  Whatever you might think about the ‘purpose of education,’ the ones actually designing it and carrying it out view it as a conditioning process.

That’s one ‘top down’ application of the belief that we are animals:  more advanced animals think they have the right to mold the other animals as they see fit, and they actually are about doing it.

A ‘bottom up’ application is manifested in the wide spread laissez faire attitude towards sex and sexuality we are seeing in the West, combined with a general dismissal of the idea that there are any ‘real’ morals and values.  This has manifested in behaviors that even proponents of such things find reprehensible.

But honestly, its not hard to see how the logic will play out.  If people are but animals, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they act like animals.  And where did people learn that they were animals?

Science class.  Movies.  Books.  Science class.

Contrast this perspective with the Christian belief that people have intrinsic value because they were made in the image of God and then redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Heck, contrast it with any belief that supports the notion that people have intrinsic value and dignity.  Darwinism eats through them all.  Not every Darwinist has the courage to concede it, or the courage to act on it, but no rational, consistent Darwinist, could believe that people are special in any way.  Why, therefore, should we treat people in a special way?  Or even treat ourselves in a special way?  Or regard our lives as having any importance or meaning whatsoever?

It’s not easy to find a rational Darwinist, let alone a consistent one, but most people don’t think of themselves in those terms, anyway.  They don’t talk in those terms.  They simply act like animals without thinking much about it, and shy away from other ideas (eg, Christianity) that they consider ‘disproved by science.’  And by ‘disproved by science’ they mean, chiefly, Darwinism.

How is the Church to compete when it only has 2 hours a week (max) to influence a young person?

Well, obviously the Church cannot compete.

This is no doubt one of the reasons why there has been a great exodus from the Church, beginning in the 1990s.  (See parts 1-2 of this series so far).

What the Church had to put up against 18 years of  8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months out of the year conditioning was presented in cartoonish diagrams when presented to the young, and dogmatic assertions when presented to the old.

Now, obviously a robust apologetics program is one of the most important correctives to that that we can conceive of.  Knowing what we believe and why we believe it and why it is true, and why the other things are almost certainly not true, and then explaining that all of the time, as a rule–not as an exception–is obviously going to have a profound impact.

And it would have had a profound impact, had it actually been acted on when it mattered.  The ‘defense of the faith’ has been carried out by Christians for two thousand years (or more, if you’re willing to go back to Genesis).  Most recently, however, the Church had little to offer beyond dogmatism since, say, 1859, up to, say around 1990.

Sure, there were folks like Josh McDowell, John Warwick Montgomery, and of course C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton… maybe 30-50 more… but in the main, the churches just kept doing the same thing they had always done.  What they had ‘always done’ had only worked because the culture at large was sympathetic.  But the culture changed, and the churches didn’t.  Or, if the churches did change, they didn’t change in a way that reflected the most important parts of the cultural shift.

As an example of what I mean by that, consider all of new worship styles that have emerged over the last 30 years or so.  You’ve got rock bands and video screens and all sorts of gimmicks meant to entertain people and therefore, theoretically, attract and retain people.

Didn’t work.

But if your congregation or denomination eschewed the entertainment mentality, I wouldn’t get too excited.  Pretty much every Christian denomination is in collapse.  So, if this is ‘you’ then guess what, what you’re doing isn’t working, either.

This goes to illustrate my point that the most important parts of the cultural shift away from Christianity has not been addressed by the Church.  The culture doesn’t believe Christianity is actually true… many Christians don’t actually believe Christianity is true (rather, its a matter of ‘faith’ or personal opinion, etc)… and the Church has done little, systematically and robustly, to explain that it is very much true.  It has the correct account for reality.

I detected a change in this attitude, in favor of apologetics, starting around 1990s.  But since Christians have left the faith in droves since then, it is too little, too late.  You can (and should) implement apologetics programs now, but a great deal of damage has been done, and it cannot be reversed.

Why?

Have I not been clear?

People are involved in their church for 2-3 hours a week at most–if you’re lucky–while people are literally drenched in worldviews that are hostile to the faith for almost the entirety of their upbringing, 40-50 hours a week.

When the culture was 40-50 hours a week leaning your direction, then your robust transmission of the faith in the 2-3 hours a week might have maintained that sympathetic culture.  No more, if only because 30,000,000 have left the faith in the last thirty years, and for the bulk of them, you don’t even have the 2-3 hours a week to work with them.  You might now–if you’re lucky–have them 2-3 hours a year.

Obviously, whatever programs or philosophies you might put into practice are only going to impact those still within your reach, and 30 million or so have left the Church’s reach.  They are ‘already gone’ so there is nothing you can do for those folks.  And those folks, by the by, are feeding back into the culture their anti-Christian perspectives.

This being the case, am I advocating for giving up the ship?

Not at all.  I am, however, arguing that we need to come to grips with the fact that A., how we’re doing things is not working, B., why that is, C., what we’re going to do about it and… this is important… D., how we got in this mess in the first place.

How we got in this mess in the first place was ever thinking that the Church could hold the line with just 2-3 hours a week of influence.

Here is what we know about faith formation and transmission… stand by to be shocked by a statement of fantastic obviousness:

A person raised in a healthy ‘traditional’ family (eg, a happy mom and dad) where the parents are well-grounded in the faith is much more likely to grow up to be a Christian and remain one.

Which means that the greatest ‘apologetic’ that we could possibly have are healthy, intact families where the parents know what they believe and why they believe it, and are able to share that with their children in a robust way.

Makes sense, right?  I mean, you live with your family, right?

The Church can only put up 2-3 hours a week to compete with 40 hours a week of entrenched secularism, but time with family far exceeds that 2-3 hours and even comes close to matching that 40 hours.  (I am aware of the obvious implication here re: schooling, but that’s another essay.)

Moreover, research shows that it is profoundly crucial that the father in the family is the one that spearheads the transmission of the faith.  (There are obviously going to be exceptions.  We’re looking at the aggregate, here.)

The obvious implication is that if we wanted to reverse course, we would be investing our 2-3 hours a week in equipping Christian parents with deeper understanding of the truth of Christianity, especially the men.  And… and this is important… we would be investing our time in ensuring that those parents have healthy marriages.

As soon as we put it that way, we are confronted again with the question, “how did we get in this mess in the first place?”

There are many answers to this, most of them deserving our attention.  But I have chosen to focus this essay series on some of the most fundamental issues, and there is, in theory and in practice, nothing more fundamental than the importance of healthy, intact, ‘traditional’ families for the effective transmission of the faith to the next generation.

Thus, it may be said that the collapse of the Church in the West is just the trailing result of the collapse of the Family in the West–a process that did not just start with the tyrannical, anti-democratic victory of the gay marriage movement.

Indeed, once again, the universal acid that is Darwinism plays a prominent role.

More on that to come.

I am available to speak at length on these issues.  Contact me at director@athanatosministries.org.

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An Apology for Apologetics: The Rise of the Naturalism Fallacy (part 3)

This is the third essay of musings, organizing my thoughts for an upcoming presentation.

In the first essay, I showed that the rise of the ‘religious nones’ within just the last decade or so is massive, and provided data that supports what most of us already knew:  most of these were raised in the Christian faith.  To explain this massive shift, in the second essay I laid it at the feet of just one thing:  Darwinism.

But I also said:

I will argue that despite the central role that Darwinism presently plays in fueling hostility to Christian faith, the role that it played in the past is more significant–and more expansive than we typically tend to think about.

There is no way I’ll be able to cover the extent of that significance in these few essays.  In the spirit of organizing my thoughts, I will put my finger on the factors tied most directly to the current great falling away.

In the second essay, I alluded to Ken Ham’s book, Already Gone, saying it draws near to the problem.  In this book, Ham draws conclusions from a study that he commissioned to examine why so many people have left the faith.  Most people expect that people have fallen away due to their experience in college, but his data showed that they fell away already in high school; hence, they were ‘already gone.’

This is consistent with what other researchers have found and in line with my own experiences.

Ham, as a young earth creationist, can be expected to focus his attention on the acceptance of Darwinism by young people, but I think the more important insight is his discovery that there is a stark difference between those who participated in their church’s educational programs versus those who didn’t.  I mean, a stark difference among those who have fallen away.

What do you think?  What do you predict?  I suppose most Christians would think that, sure, many people have fallen away quite rapidly, but of those, the bulk of those who who did probably never went to church in the first place.  WRONG.

Quote:

In our survey of 1,000 20-somethings who regularly attended church as children and teens [and are no longer attending church; eg, the ‘religious nones’], we asked the question “Did you often attend Sunday school?” In reply, 61 percent said yes; 39 percent said no.”

Since so many non-Christians were raised in the faith to begin with, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.  Still, I think many Christians, especially Church professionals, expected that their programs would be a better corrective to the trends.  Instead, the opposite seems to be the case.  Why is this?

Ham believes that what is happening is that young people go to church, where they hear Bible stories reported in cute, endearing–and childish–ways, but then they go to school where they learn about the ‘real world.’  The reason why the there is such a stark difference is because those who were not exposed to those cartoonish Bible lessons did not feel the difference between what they were learning at school and what they were learning at Church so acutely.

I think Ham is right about this.  However, even as I invoke ‘Darwinism’ as a chief culprit, I think there is more to the story.  As I said in the second essay, “The reasons for disbelief are varied, but in the main, they all center around one basic idea:  Christianity isn’t true.

One of the reasons why Christianity is not being perceived as true–among Christians themselves–is for the very simple reason that it is not presented as true–by Christians themselves.

Of course, it is dogmatically asserted as true often enough, but that is not the same as presenting something as true.  Just think about how you argue for things that you think are true, more generally.  What do you do?  Well, you argue, right?  You produce arguments, evidence, reasons, and so on, and you are prepared to deal with counter-arguments, evidence that seems to contradict your argument, etc.

So it is that within the Church there are many that believe that it is sufficient only to ‘preach the Gospel’ because… wait for it… “God’s word never returns void.”  This mindset effectively thinks of the Scriptures like a magic wand and acts accordingly.  We’ll call it ‘Harry Potter evangelism.’  Not only is this approach not supported by Scripture itself (if we decide to read the rest of it, instead of fixating on Isaiah 55:11) but actually undermines the presentation of the Gospel.

Christianity exploded onto the world’s stage, prompting people to go to their deaths on account of the good news that God had come, died, and rose from the dead in an epic rescue mission, because when the early Christians preached the Gospel, there were compelling reasons to believe that what they preached was actually true.

The soil had been well-prepared to receive good seed.

Our problem today is not the quality of the seed but the quality of the soil.  Much of that was under our control, but it is rapidly leaving the scope of our influence.  While it remains true that the majority of people who are atheists, agnostics, or ‘unaffiliated’ were once raised in the faith, in a generation, that will no longer be true, for the simple reason that there are fewer Christians to begin with, and all those ‘religious nones’ are going to be having children of their own, the great proportion of which will, obviously, not be raised in the church.  The ‘soil’ is only going to get worse.

So, what does Darwinism have to do with all this?

I think it is clear that Ham is not wrong to observe that of all the things kids are learning as fact in school that fly in the face of Christianity, Darwinism is chief on the list.  But this idea that Christianity is for children is even more pernicious.  The science teacher at the local public school does not say that religion is for children.  The children themselves infer it, and act accordingly.

When the children begin to think like grownups (or so they think), they will have absorbed uncritically one of the chief assumptions of the secular worldview, which is itself embodied in Darwin’s theory.

That assumption is that adults never explain anything they encounter in the world any other way than through naturalistic (materialistic) explanations.

Someone with this mindset could come face to face with the most compelling evidence for the existence of God and/or supernatural agency, accept the reality of the thing being presented, and yet still wave off that thing as being explained without reference to God.

To illustrate, I once persuaded an atheist that Jesus existed, died, and rose from the dead.  Instead of believing in God, he concluded that Jesus must have been a space alien.

I kid you not.

Now, one of the most compelling and enduring evidences for the supernatural is biological life on this planet.  It is prima facie evidence for the existence of a ‘superior’ entity, which is precisely why Richard Dawkins argued that Charles Darwin made it finally possible to be an ‘intellectually fulfilled atheist’ and why Dawkins is forced to entertain some kind of ‘directed panspermia’ model for the rise of life on this planet.

But even if the new atheists allow that our planet was ‘seeded’ by more advanced space aliens, they never allow this to serve as evidence for God, because of their decision to interpret everything through naturalistic methods.

We find this all nicely summarized by former Christian apologist John Loftus:

Science proceeds according to methodological naturalism, an approach which presumes for the sake of empirical inquiry that everything we experience, if it has a cause at all, has a natural cause. Paul Kurtz defined it as well as anyone when he wrote that it is a “principle within the context of scientific inquiry; i.e., all hypotheses and events are to be explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events. To introduce a supernatural or transcendental cause within science is to depart from naturalistic explanations.”

This is what defines us as modern people. In the modern world all educated people apply methodological naturalism in a vast number of areas. […]. Indeed, Christians today typically assume that there is a natural explanation when they hear a noise in the night, have a stillborn baby, witness a train wreck, or fall ill.

Emphasis added.

You can see why the atheist I described above, having been persuaded of the resurrection, invoked space aliens rather than acknowledge that God exists.  According to Loftus and Kurtz, “all hypotheses and events” must be interpreted ‘naturally.’  If God came to this planet and did a live demonstration, that would be an ‘event.’  If one is forced by their presuppositions to view all events ‘naturally’ then the atheist would be forced to deny that God had just appeared to them.

Remember that the next time an atheist says that they would be persuaded if only God would come and prove his existence directly to them.

But let your eyes fall upon the part I put in bold.  We do not only have the appeal to naturalism.  Observe how that idea is married to the idea that this is how adults engage the world (eg, ‘modern educated people’.)  Who wants to be labeled among the uneducated goat herders of the past?

Now, there are many problems with their whole line of argument, and I haven’t got the time to go into all of them right now.  The obvious ones are these:

1. invoking things like superior space aliens raises questions that arise naturally for children, but are too obvious for the ‘adults’–where did the superior space aliens come from?

2. If all phenomena is going to be interpreted a priori through naturalistic methods, then what is the real difference between ‘methodological naturalism’, which ostensibly takes no position on the supernatural, such that even Christians who are scientists can still do science, and ‘philosophical naturalism’ which presumes, a priori, that there is no God?

This, by the way, is the naturalism fallacy I reference in my essay’s title.  The logical error is so profound and so profoundly obvious, that as soon as you see it, it makes you laugh at the ridiculousness of it.  For the atheist, though, I’ll have to connect the dots:

If philosophical naturalism presumes, a priori, that there is no God, then if by ‘methodological naturalism’ you assume there is no God, then there is no difference between ‘methodological naturalism’ and ‘philosophical naturalism,’ which takes the position that there is no God as its starting point.  What did Loftus say?

“an approach which presumes for the sake of empirical inquiry that everything we experience, if it has a cause at all, has a natural cause”

This is pure, circular reasoning.  Atheism is baked into the cake on this approach.  If ever there were an example of childish reasoning, it is this.  Ironically, Loftus goes on to complain:

Christians like Alvin Plantinga object to the use of methodological naturalism in many areas related to their faith. Plantinga argues that the Christian scientific community should “pursue science in its own way, starting from and taking for granted what we know as Christians.” But see what he’s doing here? When establishing the background factors in a Bayesian analysis, he recommends that Christians simply assume their most contentious conclusions as their starting point. [emphasis added]

Oh, so simply assuming one’s most contentious conclusions as one’s starting point is bad or something?

Let’s see.  You take everything we observe, including astounding observations such as the genome, and you decide in advance that you are going to interpret it on atheistic grounds, and at the end of your investigation you include–surprise! that it has an atheistic explanation.

SHOCKER.

We have to take these people seriously?  Really?

I don’t mean to single Loftus out here, as this is a pretty common approach, but he puts it succinctly for us.  So I hope this is not read as a personal attack when I say that people who make such arguments are uttering absolute stupidity.

So, how do you get grown men to believe and say stupid things?  Well, you get them to think that’s what ‘grown ups’ think, or ‘moderns.’  And to justify this approach, you engage in more muddle-headed reasoning:

3.  You conflate technological innovations and Darwinism both as ‘science.’  Loftus goes on to say:

But again, how likely is it that a methodology that has worked so well in every other area of investigation would not shed light on the truth or falsehood of his background beliefs as well? [emphasis in original]

Well, I don’t know how exactly one determines probabilities about how ‘likely’ the universe is to be explained via natural or supernatural causes when one only has one universe to look at.   The sample size is pretty small, no?

But the idea that this methodology ‘has worked so well’ actually relates only to advances in technology, which really is based on “empirical inquiry.”  Somehow, these giants of the intellect fail to comprehend that the core ‘contentious conclusion’ of the theist is that there exists an entity that created the universe, and therefore, as such, by definition, could not be directly detected empirically because it is outside the universe.

In other words, just because we put a man on the moon, it does not follow that we know why there is a man or a moon in the first place, where the laws of gravity come from in the first place, why matter and energy exist as they are, and not some other way, and so on.  In short, its the difference between working within the parameters of the system versus understanding where those parameters came from in the first place.

Genuinely empirical inquiry will never, by definition, be able to prove or disprove anything about the source of those parameters, because we are bound up inside that system.  We’d have to be able to transcend the system in order to ’empirically’ examine it.  You know, we’d have to become like God, as Christians understand him.

The impression given in school, and widely adopted by atheists, is that because we have powerful computers, telescopes, and medicines, we can take the method that gave us these things (‘worked so well’) and apply it to areas of inquiry that are not empirical at all.

In other words, non-empirical areas of inquiry are subjected to a method that is thoroughly empirical in nature and in scope, on the basis that it has success in areas that are thoroughly empirical in nature and in scope.

If that made you giggle, don’t laugh too long.  That’s the way they really think.

Now, there are non-empirical realities (a square has four sides of equal length, 2+2=4, etc). And though we cannot directly detect God (if he exists), there are powerful evidences to be found for his existence nonetheless.

Chief among these from the beginning of time to even the present day is life itself.  Even before the genome was discovered, the various life forms on this planet was a startling and compelling reason for thinking that there was a creator of the ‘non-empirical’ sort.  But, every advance in our knowledge of the genome has made this inference even stronger.

But here is the kicker.

Kids learn that ‘science’ is one thing in high school (a method for empirical inquiry) and are told that Darwinism is ‘scientifically proved.’  They infer, then, that Darwinism is empirically proved.  They are not told that once they get into their college biology class (if they even take one) what today’s ‘scientists’ think ‘science’ is is radically expanded beyond that which can be experimented on, or tested, or examined in a test tube, etc.  (Even if they are told, most won’t connect the dots.)  So, when they are told that Darwinism is scientifically proven they think that it is demonstrated just like we know that water boils at a particular temperature at sea level–an experiment they have have actually done in high school.  They saw it with their own eyes.

Thus, despite the plain and self-evident testimony of DNA, the genome, etc, bearing witness to something ‘superior’, even this gets put into the ‘naturalism’ box.  They didn’t see it with their own eyes, but if their science teacher says it has been ‘scientifically’ demonstrated, then someone, somewhere, saw it with their eyes.  Otherwise, why would they say it?

This is why you can preach the Gospel and still have people walk away in droves.  They hear it, but they figure that if there is anything to it, if there is anything of value to be found in religion at all, it will surface in one of the sciences, and there they can pick it back up without all the trappings of ‘organized religion.’

From the above, I hope you can see that by chalking up the problem to ‘Darwinism’ that is really just the tip of a very big iceberg.  And I haven’t even scratched the surface!

But now see it from the viewpoint of the Christian Church trying to size up the problem and come up with a response.  How exactly is the Church going to compete against a set of ideologies and attitudes presented to young people as true for the first eighteen years of their lives, day in and day out, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months out of the year?  What does the Church have to put up against that?

In my next essays, I will address that question.

But we’re not done with Darwinism.  It has still more ramifications that bear on this issue.  Stay tuned.

I am available to speak at length on these issues.  Contact me at director@athanatosministries.org.

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An Apology for Apologetics: Factors Driving the Anti-Revival (Part 2)

In preparation for some presentations I have in about a month, I’m penning a couple of posts as a way to organize my thoughts.  (These posts are not necessarily what my presentations are about).  This is the second.

In my first post, I highlighted two disturbing trends.  1., the rise of the ‘religious nones,’ people who say they do not identify with any religion and 2., the fact that so many of these people were raised in the Church in the first place.

Recapitulating:

As the Pew Research Center puts it:

Perhaps the most striking trend in American religion in recent years has been the growing percentage of adults who do not identify with a religious group. And the vast majority of these religious “nones” (78%) say they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood.

The number of ‘nones’ has been on the rise since the early 1990s, but has risen even more sharply since the mid-2000s.  About 1 out of every 5 American now says he does not identify with any religion.  That number is sliding up, and if the trend line stays the same, in about a decade we’ll be looking at about 1 out of every 3.  In the 1970s, it was 1 out of every 20.

I am not the first to have observed this twofold trend of ‘religious nones’ emerging in large proportion from the Church itself, but I did become national news (albeit in a modest fashion) when I declared, in 2007, that the Church was producing atheists.

Not just ‘nones,’ but atheists.

On this, I think I was ahead of the curve.  Perhaps this is why so many people found my claim to be controversial.

Two books that came out at about the same time help put it in context.

First, there was David Kinnaman’s 2007 book UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why it Matters.

There is useful analysis in this book, but in my view, it is incomplete.  It may explain where we are now, but how we got here and what we should do about it are not satisfactorily treated.  George Barna says in the foreword:

Most of the books published about culture and faith are based on the author’s personal opinions and a few idiosyncratic anecdotes. Such a basis for cultural evaluation is of limited value.  David, on the other hand, has spent years collecting and studying reams of national survey data in an effort to truly grasp the big picture and its nuances.

With all due respect to ‘years collecting and studying’ (which I also have been engaged in), I think there is tremendous value to the ‘anecdotes.’

At bottom, Kinnaman seems to think that with some important changes made by the Church in America, people would otherwise be receptive to Christianity.

The ‘survey data’ in view, and even the many conversations that I’m sure Kinnaman had, essentially rely on ‘self-reporting’ on the part of the people involved.  Well, do the people explaining why they’ve given up on the Church really understand why they have?  They may give a reason, but is it the real reason?  In my experience, people are reluctant to give the real reasons for their disbelief–if they know them at all.  In my role as a Christian apologist, 95% of my task is to find out the person’s fundamental objection(s) to the faith, and you can only find that out through argument.

You need long, sustained, ‘conversations’ with people, where you don’t take everything someone says to you on its face.  You’ve got to push back a little.  Prod, probe, and so on.

And my experience, even as far back as 2007, is that the changes everyone is talking about making (including Kinnaman) will have little effect in making people more receptive to Christianity.

I can help explain why by talking about another 2007 book, Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But Not the Church.   It covers much the same territory as Kinnaman’s book and like it has some good stuff in it.  Kimball’s ‘anecdotes’ yield more practical recommendations than I think Kinnaman’s book does, but it, too, seems to be premised on the idea that if we change the ‘delivery’ of certain aspects of Christianity, ‘religious nones’ are primed to return to it.  ‘Nones’ are still ‘spiritual.’  As he puts it, “…as the title of this book implies, they are open to Jesus…”

I won’t deny that the bulk of ‘religious nones’ remain ‘spiritual.’  In fact, I’ll go even further and argue that even the hard core atheists are ‘spiritual.’  Whether they like it or not, they are all made in the image of God.  Something inside them longs for something bigger, and to the man, each of them spends most of their life reaching out for that ‘something’ so that they may be satisfied.  (The motto for my ministry, Athanatos Christian Ministries, is “He has set eternity in the hearts of men.”  This is why.)

But I do deny their receptiveness to Christianity.

This ‘hardening’ against Christianity, and ‘spirituality’ in general, is reflected more clearly today than it was back in 2007. For example, the Pew Research Center reports in 2015 that not only are there more ‘religious nones’ than before, but that these are increasingly secular:

At the same time, between the Pew Research Center’s two Religious Landscape Studies – conducted in 2007 and 2014 – we also see consistent evidence that the “nones” are becoming less religious. For example, the share of religious “nones” who say they believe in God, while still a majority, has fallen from 70% to 61% over that seven-year period. Only 27% of “nones” are absolutely certain about God’s existence, down from 36% in 2007. And fully a third of religiously unaffiliated Americans (33%) now say they do not believe in God, up 11 percentage points over that time.

And perhaps more troubling is this hint of things yet to come:

Fully seven-in-ten of these youngest Millennials (born between 1990 and 1996) with no religious affiliation say religion is not important in their lives. A similar share (70%) also say they seldom or never pray and 42% say they do not believe in God, all bigger percentages than among religious “nones” as a whole.

So, in the up and coming generation, the proportion of people who positively reject ‘religion’ (and not just ‘institutional religion’) is steeply on the increase.

There are some who welcome this.   Barry Kosmin, who himself is acquainted with the ‘survey data’ in large part because he collected a bit of his own while leading the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), is a promoter of secularism.  He takes issue with the assumptions of other surveys that people are still basically religious and spiritual:

To the contrary, I believe that a fundamental change has recently occurred in American society and that there has been a significant generational shift away from religion and theism.

He participated in yet another study in an attempt to validate this belief and found:

In order to ascertain their worldview, we also asked students to choose whether they would describe themselves as Religious, Spiritual, or Secular. The Secular were a heartening 28 percent of the total, only slightly less than Religious (32 percent) and Spiritual (32 percent).

And then:

Identification patterns are changing, and young males seem to be much more willing than older generations to adopt the atheist or agnostic label. As a result, around 28 percent of those in the Secular worldview group self-identified as atheists and agnostics.

Finally, the million dollar question:

What, then, are the causes of this alienation from religion?

In 2007, I argued that a lack of apologetics grounding within the Church was one of the prime reasons.  I still believe this, especially if you take the broader understanding of the word as I mentioned in part 1.

In the decade since, I have given much more thought to the matter.  I have had countless more conversations with people.  The reasons for disbelief are varied, but in the main, they all center around one basic idea:  Christianity isn’t true.

And how do they know that Christianity isn’t true?

Darwinism.

Darwinism, and all that it entails.

But, importantly, as I will discuss in future posts, there is far more to what it ‘entails’, and people started acting on what it ‘entails’ long before most of those reading this entry were even born.

In the meantime:

Darwinism.

For a provocative book that comes closest to making this argument, you will want to read Ken Ham’s 2009 book, Already Gone.

Given that the statistics for the last 10-15 years have shown that most of the ‘religious nones’ used to be Christian, Ken Ham’s discovery through his own commissioned study that a person was more likely to jettison their faith if they had gone to Sunday School, VBS, etc., than if they had not, his findings should be of profound interest for any person who cares about the direction our churches should be going if we wish to counter these trends.

In part 3, I will elaborate on this, but I will argue that despite the central role that Darwinism presently plays in fueling hostility to Christian faith, the role that it played in the past is more significant–and more expansive than we typically tend to think about.

I am available to present on these topics at length.  Contact me at director@athanatosministries.org.

 

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An Apology for Apologetics: Musings (Part 1)

I will be giving a presentation in a few weeks about the need for apologetics and have been revisiting some of my past research on the subject.  As a way to organize my thoughts and bring out some matters that I’ve been sitting on for a long time, I thought I would venture a few posts on the topic.

Of course, when I title this entry ‘an apology for apologetics’ I don’t mean that I’m sorry about apologetics.  🙂  This is a defense of defending the Christian faith.  This is different than defending the Christian faith.  Unfortunately, there are some who do not believe there is any place for defending the faith.  I consider that a grave error.

I think part of the problem is that what is considered ‘apologetics’ is construed very narrowly for many people–too narrowly.  Even for those involved in Christian apologetics, people like myself, it is possible to approach it in a way that doesn’t give weight to the large number of ways the faith can be defended.

Great Christian apologists such as C.S. Lewis have described ‘apologetics’ as ‘pre-evangelism.’  This is true in many cases, although I tailor my own apologetics approach towards trying to bring the conversation around to the resurrection of Jesus if at all possible, and that, of course, brings one very close to actually evangelizing if one is not too careful.  Still, the basic idea is sound:  helping to cultivate optimal conditions in a person’s heart, soul, and mind, so that if and when they hear the Gospel preached, they will be more receptive to giving it a fair hearing.

That is not an innovative idea.  But it assumes that the person we are talking about is someone who is ‘unsaved.’  Yet, how often do we reflect on the fact that we desire ‘optimal conditions’ even within the ‘saved’ person’s heart, soul and mind?  Nay, even our own?  This is an extension of ‘apologetics’ that is not usually kept in mind, but still certainly applies.

How important is this?

Well, in case anyone hasn’t noticed, there is a rapid increase in the percentage of people in America that are categorized as ‘religious nones.’  These are people who indicate to pollsters that they do not identify with any religion.  Many of these still say they are ‘spiritual’ but the larger, growing, proportion, are atheists and secular humanists.

But here is the kicker:

A large percentage of those who declare themselves as ‘religious nones’ were actually raised in the Christian faith!

As the Pew Research Center puts it:

Perhaps the most striking trend in American religion in recent years has been the growing percentage of adults who do not identify with a religious group. And the vast majority of these religious “nones” (78%) say they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood.

Let’s say that again:  “…the vast majority of these religious “nones” (78%) say they were raised as a member of a particular religion“.

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

The question needs to be asked:  what is it about the transmission of the faith over the last century that has resulted in a stunning, mass ‘anti-revival’ of Christians (in particular, young Christians) abandoning their faith?

I submit that part of the reason is that very little attention was paid towards ‘cultivating optimal conditions.’  Or, to be perfectly frank and brutally honest:  other forces were intentionally cultivating conditions that were hostile to the receptiveness and retention of the Christian faith, and far too few within the Christian Church in America noticed or bothered to do anything about it.  And what people tried to do about it had very little to do with the real problem.

Part of that problem was very simple:  young people were under the impression that Christianity was just a religion like any other, and by ‘religion’ they meant ‘subjective and completely personal value system, that is completely arbitrary, with no correlation to reality, and as such, no reason to regard any religion as superior to another.

How did they get that idea?

To defend the faith is not only to provide facts, evidences, and reasons for the truthfulness of Christianity.  Forget the content of apologetics for a moment, and recognize that the mere activity of defending the faith presumes that what is being discussed either does, or does not, comport with the world as it really is.

With so many people becoming ‘religious nones’ who were formerly Christians, its clear that we’re not talking anymore about something that is merely ‘pre-evangelism.’  It’s not even a matter of conflating apologetics with evangelism or preaching the Gospel.  We’re talking about equipping the people who are still Christians with what they need to keep them in the fold.

In other words, reach out to atheists before they become atheists.  You know, while they’re still in the Church.  Common sense, really.

But if we’re talking about how to keep people ‘in the fold’ we need to expand what we think constitutes ‘defending the faith’ or ‘cultivating optimal conditions’ and so on, because we know that there is really a lot more to ‘retention’ than even these things.  I would submit that ‘apologetics,’ broadly defined and understood, potentially encompasses all of these factors.  But then, if we expand it that far, we come to realize there may in fact already be a word to describe what I’m talking about:

Discipleship.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about more of the factors fueling what I termed the ‘anti-revival.’

I am available to present on these topics at length.  Contact me at director@athanatosministries.org.

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