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Scottish Secession and the ‘Right to Secede.’

Scotland is about to vote on whether or not to secede from Mother England and the most noteworthy part of it to me is the fact that this may be pulled off without a massive amount of bloodshed.

In my opinion, one of the greatest mistakes made by the framers of the US Constitution was their failure to include a process for peaceful secession.  Human associations are a complicated affair, and one of the things that creates constant difficulty are differences of opinions on how those associations are to be managed.  The beauty of the US Constitution is its ability to hold those differences in harmony, enacting checks and balances to make sure that there are non-violent mechanisms available for resolving those differences whilst preventing one particular group to do too much damage to the other group.  A situation where these protections and mechanisms would prove insufficient ought to have been anticipated and integrated into the document.

Clearly, one of the other great mistakes was to compromise with the pro-slavery states in the first place.

Theoretically, then, these states would not have signed on to the whole program.  Are we really quite sure that this would have been all that bad?  After all, the situation would spiral out of control to a point where more than a half million Americans would die at each others’ hands, not to mention the rest of the chaos it created.  Does this mean that there would still be slavery in America today?  I doubt that very much.  While it may have taken a couple of more decades for the pro-slavery cause to lose its argument, the weight of theology, philosophy, and economics were against them.  Hindsight is 20/20, as they say.  When the Constitution was drawn up, the anti-slavery folks were passionately for abolition, and for them to compromise on the question of slavery surely meant that there was some other cause they felt more pressing.  Looking back, I would say they were wrong.   Obviously, they did not have access to the same data, since they were then living in and through it.

But there is something wrong with ‘unionism’ in principle and practice that needs a ‘check and balance’ erected against it, which to this point has not happened.

There is a special kind of arrogance required to argue that some other group of people should remain associated (as subjects?) with another group, with whom they have severe disagreements.  Add to that the willingness to kill the people who will not remain associated–that there is a special kind of madness.   All this, in the name of ‘union.’  But how is it that ‘unionism’ is so sacrosanct?

The ‘right to free assembly’ has currency throughout the world these days, which is good.  However, would not such a right logically entail, as its converse, the ‘right to dis-assemble’?  Yet whenever we read of a group looking to part company from another group, there are catcalls and insults and, usually, cries that the other group is being selfish.  Ostensibly, this is in defense of ‘union’ but it seems to me that something else is going on.

First of all, it should be obvious that the secessionists have some kind of reason for what they are doing and this reason will in large measure concern actions by the other group that bother them, and no other way to rectify the problem has surfaced, short of violence itself.   Rather than acknowledge that it is possible to push one’s opinion onto another too far, the ‘mother’ group essentially declares, “My way or the high way!”  This can work and people can co-exist in such a situation, but only to a point.  When this point comes, it is useless to say, “Oh well, it is just because you are a selfish cretin for not submitting to our demands.”

Second of all, as often seems to be the case, the majority has erected a scheme that requires the participation of every person, or else it will not work at all.  Socialism/Communism is such a scheme, which is why the the Soviets gobbled up as many territories as they could and sought to expand its “Union” to the globe.  As is usually the case, such schemes are advanced with purely noble intentions, eg, ‘for the common good’ or ‘the general welfare’ or ‘the most good for the most people.’  And as also seems to be the case, the tyrannical and monstrous nature of those schemes reveal themselves by the fact that more and more people subjected to those schemes try their darnedest to get away from them.  The Communists had to put up a wall in Berlin to keep their people in, not to keep anyone out–for there were precious few that would voluntarily subject themselves to such schemes.  (It is not a coincidence that the writer of the Pledge of Allegiance, which includes the word “indivisible”, was a proto-communist.)

To put it bluntly, a good sign that it will take tyranny to maintain a union is when the people are increasingly trying to secede from that union, by voting with their feet.

But what if they cannot vote with their feet?

When even this option is eliminated, there are very few options left on the table.  As these slowly get stripped away, the one option that is always on the table, becomes the last option:  violence.

When people en masse turn to violence, it almost always means that some other group has crossed the line, and no other way to rectify the situation plausible.

There are disturbing signs that this is precisely where the United States is going.  Take for example Obamacare, which, we are told, will only work if everyone participates.  The ‘losers’ in Obamacare are expected to ‘take one for the team.’   Like all socialist schemes, it is plainly understood that when implemented, even successfully, some people will suffer more than they would have so that (in theory) other people will suffer less.  But there is a big difference between people voluntarily taking suffering upon their shoulders and people being told by bureaucrats that they’ve been selected to serve as the sufferers.   (In Obamacare, indications are that this will be the elderly–to start with.)  Such a scheme can only be enforced so far before the people turn rebellious, but Obamacare will not let people out.   As in the case of Berlin, people are voting with their feet–or trying.  Far fewer are trying to get into the ‘paradise’ that is the Obamacare East Berlin than they expected and far more are trying to scramble over the wall into West Berlin…  except there is no wall and no West Berlin because under Obamacare, there is no where to go, except, it seems, to some other socialist country.

Left without recourse, what are they to do?  In poll after poll, we learn that the majority in the US are steadfastly opposed to Obamacare.  The 2010 elections represented a landslide victory for those who were opposed to Obamacare, but this proved futile.  So, the people are against it and their elected representatives are incapable or unwilling to reverse it.  Nine people in black robes, and one in particular, effectively removed all legislative mechanisms.  In this bizarre situation, it is the majority’s will that is being thwarted.  It is hard to see how that can end well for the minority.

If it were just Obamacare, it would be one thing.  However, as all of the ‘limited government’ protections provided by the US Constitution have been eroded, and, worse, perhaps, a ‘big government’ ethos has come to pervade every layer of government–Federal, state, and local–majorities at all levels of government have seen fit to intrude themselves in the lives of the minorities, and demand that these (only a hair smaller) populations “eat it and learn to like it.”  It is thus the case that all across the country, people are complaining about overreach.  This includes areas dominated by Republicans.  But it is in response to the overreach of liberals where we have seen actual attempts to secede.  Parts of California and Colorado come to mind, but whole states, such as Texas, have been in the news.

These ‘secession’ conversations should be seen for what they really are:  signs that in the eyes of many, non-violent options for self-government are steadily being removed from the table.  As stated, there is a continuum here, and the Republicans are definitely on it.  It just that in some areas and on some issues, the liberals have drawn much closer to people’s breaking point.  Neither the Republicans or the liberals seem to have taken the hint.

Secession is the last non-violent option on the table.  If we grant a ‘right to assembly’ we should similarly grant a ‘right to secede.’  Splintered regions certainly have some disadvantages, but it is far better that the people in those regions weigh the advantages and disadvantages for themselves and voluntarily choose whether or not they will bear the cost and risk of remaining separate from some other region.  In my opinion, no union merely for the sake of having a union is worth the killing of thousands of people in order to preserve that union.  Great Britain seems to have gotten that part right, and that is to its credit.  Perhaps a day is coming, and sooner than we think, when we may have to draw a lesson from Scotland.

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Open Letter to Everyone but Richard Dawkins

Most observers of Richard Dawkins are not surprised to hear that he has said something outrageous. More and more, even his fellow atheists are surprised when he says something sensible. The latest row is over his comments suggesting that people have a moral obligation to abort a child diagnosed with a defect (in particular, Down Syndrome). Again, even his fellow atheists were put off by this, since the party line on abortion it is morally neutral, and a woman can get one or not get one, as she pleases.

The reactions, from both foes and fellow travelers, imply that the crux of this issue is that Dawkins is being rude. From this perspective, there are certain things you don’t say in polite society, even if you think them, and Dawkins has found one of them (again). The problem, you see, is one of decorum and Dawkins’ irascible personality and a violated social contract.

Dawkins, however, insists that what he is saying “simply follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance that most [of] us, I presume, espouse.” He sympathizes with his critics, but notes that their point is “an emotional one not a logical one.” And oh, by the way, what he is saying is not in the slightest “advocating a eugenics policy.”

Never mind that he is rude. Is he wrong? He has invoked logic, implying that there are propositions, premises, and inferences not far back from his comments. Moreover, he expects that his own fans share these foundational views and is more than a little surprised that they have not taken them to their logical conclusions. And what views might these be?

We are fortunate in the case of Dawkins to know what animates him: his atheism, his Darwinism, and his hatred for religion and religionists. He perceives that he has an impartial, objective, scientific basis for these views. In his ‘apology’ itself he states explicitly that “my own moral philosophy [is] based on a desire to increase happiness and reduce suffering.” This is a utilitarian ethic which harkens back to Bentham, Mill, and arguably Darwin himself.

Excepting the hatred of religionists, may we now suppose that these elements are also what drives the “ordinary pro-choice stance”?

What would it be about a utilitarian, atheistic, Darwinist outlook that drives Dawkins to derive a logical conclusion from them related to unborn children diagnosed in the womb with a birth defect? What prevents his co-idealogues from following suit?

We will treat the former and leave the latter for a later essay.

Leave Dawkins out of it.  The rest of us should be thinking about whether or not the worldview Dawkins is acting on is true.

It should not be terribly difficult to see how Darwinism might fuel the “ordinary pro-choice stance.” On this view, it is scientifically beyond all reasonable doubt that the human person has lately descended from puss. The notion that humans have some kind of intrinsic worth and dignity, cannot be more than mere fantasy.

It does not take a rocket science to see that if you believe that humans are nothing more than nature’s belch after millions of years of digesting, you will care very little about a tiny clump of cells. Indeed, you will care very little about very big clumps of cells, too. Big clumps of cells tend to fight back, however, so it’s best to extend your indifference to the ones that can’t, namely the unborn, newly born, the infirm, and the old. It is no great shock to discover that the ‘ordinary pro-choice stance’ is usually associated with euthanasia and assisted suicide, as well.

But the atheism plays a part here, too. With no Creator in view, if you determine at some point that you have been a little too cavalier with human lives, there really isn’t any great harm. There is the matter of one’s own conscience, perhaps, but it isn’t like there is anyone to answer to. In the end, we’ll all melt back into the cosmic sea of matter and whether any particular person lived or died won’t matter a lick.

There is a problem. Humans seem ‘designed’ to be moral creatures, that is seeking justification for their actions on a basis that extends beyond their own person, but atheism and Darwinism combine to render ‘morality’ a farce. How can substance be given back to our ‘moral sense’? Utilitarianism: the most good for the most people; the elimination and reduction of suffering, the highest good.

Utilitarianism has the added benefit of, in many cases, bringing to bear ‘scientific objectivity’ to moral questions, for it is in many cases possible to determine whether or not ‘suffering’ is taking place. This is fortunate, if the reduction of suffering is your highest guiding value. According to Dawkins, a human is not a person “before it develops a nervous system.” Not coincidentally, it is maintained that one cannot suffer before there is a nervous system, either. The presence or absence of a nervous system can theoretically be determined scientifically. In cases where science has shown that a human will suffer if they continue to live, then the moral thing to do is to prevent that from happening.

Is this indeed the underlying rational framework for the “ordinary pro-choice stance”?

I suggest that in broad strokes, it is. To defend that would require an essay far longer than I am prepared to pen right now, so instead I will put to the reader this challenge: if the above does not form the foundation for Dawkins’ claim to ‘logic’ what do you suppose does? And if it does, is he wrong? If he is right, and you share the same views, but find his assertions about their logical implications reprehensible, what does that suggest?

Bottom line: both friends and foes seem bent on reforming Dawkins’ social skills rather than addressing the substance of his argument. The message will be clear: “Believe what you want, but there are some things you just don’t say.” That is perhaps well and good for social tranquility, but with those who are engaged in influencing and carrying out public policy, honesty is much more preferable. These same will have gotten the message loud and clear: “If people find out why I’m really doing this, there would be a public outcry. I should just do it, and keep my mouth shut.”

Surely the reader can see how that is more dangerous than Dawkins spouting off on Twitter.

(I suspect it would be useful to understand that Dawkins is not alone in his assessment about what ‘logically follows’ from the “ordinary pro-choice stance.” There have been many who have made the same kind of arguments based on the same premises. They haven’t been cranks, either. Some have died, but others are still alive and well and even in power today. If it would be helpful for you to see that others believe that Dawkins’ logic is valid, and it is not just a matter of Dawkins’ sour demeanor and bad taste, you will want to read the optional part 2.)

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Open Letter to Everyone But Richard Dawkins, Part Two

In the first part I sought to tease out the basis for Dawkins’ claim that what he said “follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance.” It is to the reader to decide if my analysis is correct, and if not, what the real basis is. It is important, however, to understand that Dawkins is not the only person who has made such assertions, and not the only person who has stated or implied that their positions flow logically from a Darwinian, atheistic, and utilitarian point of view. The people listed below, in varying degrees according to each of those ‘three planks’ follow suit.

If you find what follows concerning, then it is not enough to be offended. The argument must be tackled on its merits.

The following individuals represents just a small sample of people who seemingly accept Dawkins’ premises and draw the same conclusions.

 Jacob Appel

A certain ‘bio-ethicist’ named Jacob Appel has even suggested that women farm out their unborn babies for spare parts as a way to pay their way through college. He has urged for mandatory genetic screening, insisting that it is ‘smart science.’ Richard Dawkins says, “my own moral philosophy [is] based on a desire to increase happiness and reduce suffering.” Appel joins him in this utilitarian ethic, stating, “The most obvious advantage of mandatory screening is that it will reduce the long-term suffering of the children who are spared disease.” Appel submitted a paper arguing for neo-natal euthanasia–that is, killing disabled children that are already born. In this paper, he argued that these decisions should be removed from the parents, who are blinded by their affection, and given to the doctors, who will be more objective. Richard Dawkins says that his position “follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance.” Appel says that “expanded access to neonatal euthanasia appears likely” because it is “an inevitable consequence of our progress towards liberal humanism.”

 Alberto Guibulini and Francesca Minerva

Dawkins targeted the unborn ‘defective’ persons for destruction, while Appel realized that the principles of ‘liberal humanism’ logically entailed the killing of born ‘defective’ persons, too. But how important, really, is the fact that the persons are ‘defective’ if you have already embraced a position that allows for abortion on demand, that is, for no particular reason at all? Why get bent out of shape about aborting ‘defective’ people if you have no compunction with aborting perfectly ‘healthy’ ones? Is that not what the “ordinary pro-choice stance” entails?

Therefore, it should not be a surprise that another batch of fellow travelers have picked up where Appel left off, euthanizing born, defective, children, by arguing that by the ‘ordinary pro-choice’ logic, euthanizing born, healthy children rationally follows as perfectly acceptable and morally permissible. The two scholars in question, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, insist “that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including where the newborn is not disabled.”

They arrive at this view, logically, in part, by asserting that “the moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus, that is, neither can be considered a ‘person’ in a morally relevant sense.” On this, perhaps, Giubilini and Minverva would take Dawkins to task, on the view that ascribing a ‘moral status’ as a ‘person’ is ‘subjective.’ Recall that Dawkins had said, “I support those philosophers who say that, for moral purposes, an adult, a child and a baby should all be granted the rights of a person.” In this, Dawkins is only being logically consistent with his own worldview by assuming that it is in his rights to be granting other people’s rights. Why he takes the view he does is probably just him being subjective, but then, that may only be because he hasn’t yet found something more objective: “There is no hard and fast dividing line.” Once one is found, does anyone doubt where Dawkins would come down?

Jeremy Bentham, one of the forefathers of the utilitarian ethic, declared in 1823:

 “What else is it that should trace the insuperable line [between humans and animals]? Is it the faculty of reason or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog, is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”

 A little over three decades later, Darwin would prove in many minds that there was no ‘insuperable line’ between humans and animals.   Darwin’s theory did more than that, it also revealed that morality was itself the product of natural selection. In one fell swoop, the floor was taken out of all the traditional moral systems. That did not, however, change the fact that people behaved in ways they believed were ‘moral.’ However, a new basis was needed. When they weren’t trying to simply invent new moralities on the basis of ‘might makes right’ they often turned to the utilitarian outlook of Bentham and John Stuart Mill, who advocated for the ‘greatest good for the most people,’ which, in practice, meant the elimination of as much suffering as possible as the greatest governing value.

Dawkins, likewise: “my own moral philosophy [is] based on a desire to increase happiness and reduce suffering.”

 Peter Singer

Not to be outdone, another fellow traveler and renown utilitarian, is Peter Singer. Singer, of course, gained some fame and notoriety by calling attention to the fact that there is ‘no insuperable line between humans and animals’ by insisting that there was nothing wrong with humans and animals having sex with each other. He was just being logical. Singer might perhaps stand along side Giubilini and Minerva (he was even cited by them) in challenge to Dawkins’ subjective assessment that a baby is a person, as Singer has argued that a person might not be a person even until the age of two years old; but then, “There is no hard and fast dividing line.”

Singer is certainly one who is willing to take his ideas to their logical conclusions. Not too long ago, he published an editorial in which he urged that every person alive sterilize themselves in order to make this the ‘last generation.’ You see, Singer says, “If we could see our lives objectively, we would see that they are not something we should inflict on anyone.” He wonders, “[is] the continuance of our species justifiable in the face of our knowledge that it will certainly bring suffering to innocent future human beings?”  Fortunately, the New York Times is a fringe, extreme, publication, that no one reads or takes seriously.

We would be remiss if we did not point out that if Singer really cared about eliminating suffering, and saw animals as morally equivalent as humans, he’d really be calling for the destruction of every living thing that can conceivably suffer. That is, you will recall, Bentham’s Maxim: “Can they suffer?” But this may be a digression.

Singer is, of course, a card-carrying member of the “ordinary pro-choice stance.”

Julian Savulescu

Dawkins insists that he is not advocating for a eugenic policy because “Down Syndrome has almost zero heritability.” From this we can gather that Dawkins believes that eugenicists only care about improving the genome. Another fellow traveler, Julian Savulescu, is one of the few alive today who unabashedly accepts the label of ‘eugenicist.’ Several years before Dawkins stated that someone was morally obligated to abort a ‘defective’ person, Savulescu had already gone one better, arguing that we are morally obligated to select for ‘superior’ traits. The title of the essay probably says it all: “It’s Our Duty to Have Designer Babies” The article in the UK edition of Readers Digest goes on to say,

“Screening embryos like this is illegal at present, but isn’t rational design something we should welcome? If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring—rather than consigning them to the natural lottery—then we should. Surely trying to ensure that your children have the best, or a good enough, opportunity for a great life is responsible parenting?”

The utilitarian ethic is clearly on display: “A critical question to ask when considering whether to screen for some gene is: will it benefit the unborn child?”

The great problem with the Nazis, Savulescu says, is that they used coercion. “Modern eugenics,” he says, “…is voluntary. So where genetic selection aims to bring out a trait that clearly benefits an individual and society, we should allow parents the choice. To do otherwise is to consign those who come after us to the ball and chain of our squeamishness and irrationality.”

Drawing nearer to stating his underlying Darwinian principles then most, Savulescu concludes by saying, “Whether we like it or not, the future of humanity is in our hands now. Rather than fearing genetics, we should embrace it. We can do better than chance.”

From this excerpt we see that even if ‘heritability’ is not in view, there remains the question of the future health and happiness of the unborn child. Isn’t this how any ‘responsible parent’ should feel? Is it not mere “squeamishness and irrationality,” dare I say, emotionalism, to suggest otherwise?

The scope of what constitutes ‘eugenics’ turns out to be broader than how Dawkins presented it. The “ordinary pro-choice stance” urges that “every child a wanted child” is the mark of responsible parenthood. Here is one eugenicist at least who joins with our parade of scholars and ethicists in suggesting that what they propose rationally follows from their belief system.

If Savulescu aims to distinguish his perspective from the Nazis by placing it on a ‘voluntary’ basis, there have been others who, like Appel, thought it necessary to segue to more ‘mandatory’ measures.

John Holdren

As far as abortion goes, perhaps one of the most glaring examples of advocating for compulsion is found in a text book written in the 1970s by John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich called Ecoscience. In one passage, the authors say “if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society” then “compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution.” And before you ask–this was written after Roe vs. Wade.

Ehrlich of course had some fine things to say on his own on this score, declaring that “We must have population control at home, hopefully through changes in our value system, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.”

Of more pressing interest is Holdren.

John Holdren credits a certain Harrison Brown whose book, The Challenge of Man’s Future, as ‘transforming his thinking about the world and the sort of career he wanted to pursue.’ In this essay giving tribute to Brown, published in 1986, Holdren says, “Thirty years after Harrison Brown elaborated these positions, it remains difficult to improve on them as a coherent depiction of the perils and challenges we face.” He lauds “the combination of logic, thoroughness, clarity, and force with which he marshalled data and argumentation on every problem and on their interconnections.” There’s that invocation of logic again.

Brown expounds at length on one way to address the “deterioration of the species” through a compulsory system that aims to “improve the species by carrying out a process of planned selection” by abandoning normal procreation for “permitted inseminations” and ‘tweaking’ “the number of aportions and artificial inseminations permitted in a given year” saying,

“It can be argued that such a procedure would be ruthless and would deprive many people of their individual liberties. Yet would it be any more ruthless than the policy which is now followed in the United States? Only a small fraction of the populations would be affected. The vast majority of persons who might want to conceive would be able to do so, and the majority of those who might desire to terminate unwanted conceptions would be able to do so under hygienic conditions. Contrast this with the status quo, where abortion must be obtained frequently on kitchen tables, usually at great expense and under circumstances where the victims have the “freedom” to choose between giving birth to unwanted children and endangering their lives by subjecting themselves to illegal operations under insanitary conditions.

Control of aids to conception and of abortions could also provide a mechanism for slowing down the deterioration processes associated with the elimination of biological competition. Priorities for artificial insemination could be given to healthy women of high intelligence whose ancestors possessed no dangerous genetic defects. Conversely, priorities for abortions could be given to less intelligent persons of biologically unsound stock.

Such steps would undoubtedly contribute substantially to a slowing down of species deterioration. But it is clear that they would by no means be sufficient. A broad eugenics program would have to be formulated which would aid in the establishment of policies that would encourage able and healthy person to have several offspring and discourage the unfit from breeding at excessive rates. “

In another place, Harrison worries that “at the present time there is little, other than to prevent breeding in persons who present glaring deficiencies clearly dangerous to society and which are known to be of a hereditary nature. Thus we cold sterilize or in other ways discourage the mating of the feeble-minded.”

He has hope, however, that after “another ten or fifteen generations have passed, understanding of human genetics will be sufficient to permit man to do a respectable job of slowing down the deterioration of the species.”

Holdren appeals to Brown. Brown, in making his case, quotes Sir Charles Galton Darwin’s The Next Million Years.. Judging from that man’s name and pedigree, you can easily surmise what kind of basis Darwin, Brown, and Holdren are all operating on–one that tracks ideologically back right to the ‘original’ Charles Darwin himself, with the father of eugenics, Francis Galton, as the bridge.

Here, the ideological family history of a man who believes that compulsory abortion can be justified under the US Constitution. But why care what some fringe fanatic believes about compulsory abortion and the Constitution? That has nothing to do with the “ordinary pro-choice stance,” right? Except that this particular man, John Holdren, is the current chief science officer in the Obama administration. The ideas expressed above, we have every reason to suspect, are the sorts of things that certain members of the US government are perfectly willing to consider. These would be the ones that Dawkins might refer to when he appeals to the ones he believes that “most… espouse.”

Incidentally, Holdren was asked about an aspect of this at his confirmation hearing. He only said that he ‘no longer thinks its productive’ to focus on establishing an ‘optimum population.’ This does not seem encouraging. The bottom line in this instance is that we have a man in office who lauded the works of another man who wanted to “prevent the breeding” of defectives, who himself in turn built his arguments on Darwinism, in particular reference to the Malthusian elements of Darwin’s theory.

Finally, we should say a word about three gentlemen who even more directly speak to the particular issue of the morality of aborting ‘defectives.’ Dawkins insists that he does not consider his statements at all related to eugenics, not knowing, apparently, that this is a specific issue that eugenicists themselves focused on after the horrors of the Holocaust tied their hands significantly.

Three Eugenicists: Gordon Rattray Taylor, Frederick Osborn, S.C. Reed

Gordon Rattray Taylor

In the first place, consider Gordon Rattray Taylor’s The Biological Time Bomb, published in 1968.

After appealing to both the suffering of those who are born with a ‘defect’ and the genetic integrity of society as a whole, in a section on eugenics, Taylor says:

“To discourage people carrying a known defect from transmitting it is clearly desirable. Moreover, if this can be done consistently, the defective gene will, at the end of one generation, vanish from the gene pool.”

Dawkins wrote: “It would be immoral to bring [the Down Syndrome child] into the world if you have the choice.” His plea that Down Syndrome isn’t hereditable does not immunize him from the charge of presenting a eugenic perspective,  as he is clearly engaged in “discouraging people carrying a known defect from transmitting it” which is, according to eugenicists themselves, part and parcel of a modern eugenics policy.

Once again, we find that what eugenicists themselves conceive of eugenics is more broad than Dawkins lets on.

And who should care about Taylor? He evidently had some influence, as he, and other eugenicists, ended up cited in the majority opinion in Roe vs. Wade. It should go without saying that Roe vs. Wade factors heavily into the “ordinary pro-choice stance.”

We should perhaps understand Justice Ginsburg’s confusion when she confessed that she had thought the purpose of Roe vs Wade had been to address concerns related to “population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

Frederick Osborn

In Frederick Osborn’s The Future of Human Heredity: An Introduction to Eugenics in Modern Society, Osborn declares:

“Heredity clinics are the first eugenic proposal that have been adopted in a practical form and accepted by the public. They are run by scientists and their findings are based on scientific knowledge. The word eugenics is not associated with them. The couples who go to them for advice are interested in not having an abnormal child, rather than in the less personal goal of improving the race. If they suspect that they may be carriers of a particular deleterious gene or group of genes, they want to know whether their children will suffer the defect. It is the function of the heredity clinic, after careful examination of the family record, to advise on the chances of the defect being passed on to the children. Reports from these clinics indicate that couples are considerably influenced by the information they receive n the clinics, and generally, but not always, they are influenced in a eugenic direction.”

According to Osborn, the most effective eugenic policies are the ones which work to modify public opinion, so that people will ‘voluntarily’ do what the scientists deem best. For example, “irresponsible parents,” such as ones with larger families or are not married or ones that are on welfare–or, you may be quite certain, carry ‘deleterious genes’–“should feel the weight of an adverse public opinion, instead of the favorable attitudes which now too often accompany their childbearing. Community leaders of every kind should encourage this kind of wise discrimination.”

Osborn should know a thing about ‘heredity clinics.’ He was involved in making them a reality. Since the Nazis had ruined any prospect for compulsory measures, he advocated for heredity clinics where parents would eliminate ‘defectives’ through “voluntary unconscious selection.” Unconscious–that is, they would not know what principles they were applying or how they arrived at them. Selection–that is, in a Darwinian framework. Voluntary–that is, the parents themselves, without knowing how they arrived at the values they possessed, would choose the decision that the eugenicist desired them to make.

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” Theodosius Dobzhansky had said. Writing in the foreword for Osborn’s book, Dobzhansky says, it represents “what eugenics was, is, and ought to be.” If anyone would have known whether or not Osborn is incorrectly applying Darwinism, it would have been Dobzhansky.

Today, what happens in a ‘heredity clinic’ has been transformed into what we now call ‘genetic counseling.’ Osborn wasn’t the only one, by any means who had pushed for carrying out eugenics policies via sessions with genetics counselors. Each of them, however, invoked Darwinian principles as their justifications.

S.C. Reed

As president of the Minnesota Eugenics Society, a certain C.F. Dight told Hitler that he was “praising your plan to stamp out mental inferiority among the German people. I trust you will accept my sincere wish that your effort along that line will be a great success and will advance the eugenics movement in other nations as well as Germany.”

When Dight died, he left his estate to the University of Minnesota to fund the “Dight Institute for the Promotion of Human Genetics” which in turn, under the direction of Sheldon C. Reed, sponsored some of the first ‘heredity clinics’ in America.   Reed had wrote, “there is no important distinction between research in ‘pure’ genetics and research in ‘applied’ genetics such as eugenics. Our present day use of the term ‘human genetics’ may be financially and politically expedient but there is no great philosophical difference between them.”

S. C. Reed was a member of the American Eugenics Society, of which the aforementioned Frederick Osborn was president for a length of time. In 1956, about when Osborn was advocating for the establishment of ‘heredity clinics,’   Reed was instrumental in transforming the notion of ‘heredity clinics’ into ‘genetic counseling’ and prided himself in obliterating the eugenic connection between the two. He helped establish genetic counseling as a professional field in its own right.

Reed served as a president of the American Society of Human Genetics, which, you may wish to know is still in operation.

The third president of the ASHG, Lee Dice, also promoted heredity clinics: “The danger of deterioration of the world’s stock of human genes through the accumulation of harmful mutations was forcefully pointed out at the 1949 annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics by our president for that year, H. J. Muller.”   The methods of the Nazis to address this problem, Dice admits is “utterly repugnant to most persons.” This leave just two options: “Either those persons who carry hereditary defects may be segregated or sterilized by the state, or they may voluntarily refrain from reproduction.” Of these two options, the only one with practical promise is the ‘heredity clinic,’ where the parents can ‘voluntarily,’ but based on ‘unconscious’ principles of selection, make the ‘right’ call.

Hardly anyone knows about the original eugenic basis for genetic counseling anymore, not even the genetic counselors themselves, many of whom would be horrified at the suggestion that their work is ‘eugenic’ in nature.

I know a little about genetic counseling.

After my daughter was diagnosed in the womb with spina bifida, the immediately asked if we wanted to ‘terminate’ her and promptly sent us to the genetic counselor for more information. Little did I know at the time that 150 years of pregnant philosophy was giving birth at that time to a particular point of decision: you are carrying a child with a birth defect. It will have a life of suffering, but even if not, as Guibilini and Minerva might say, “…to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.” You are continuing to pollute the gene pool, and putting a burden on the scarce resources available to society. In the old days, natural selection would have intervened. Today, we can “do better than chance.” Don’t you want to be a responsible parent?

Our daughter is now a beautiful seven-year old who brings tremendous joy into the lives of everyone who meets her.   Dawkins would call this an ‘emotional argument.’ If ‘joy’ is an emotion, then I suppose that is true. Is it logical, however, that it was immoral for us to bring her into the world?

On an evolutionary paradigm stripped of all transcendental realities and thoroughly entrenched in the sterile abstraction of utilitarianism, it certainly is logical.

Concluding Thoughts

Nearly all the people who have been mentioned above, and many more that could be mentioned still, have a worldview where Darwinism is a key underpinning. (An exception would be Taylor who was an evolutionist of the Lamarckian sort). Few of them have any room for the existence of God in their worldview, indeed, many of them hold that thought in contempt. Most, if not all of them, sought to establish a moral code that was consistent with their reductionist outlooks, and settled on a philosophy that raised ‘suffering’ as the highest moral evil, with the consequence that eliminating it wherever it surfaced became the obvious ‘moral’ choice.

These, then, can obviously be expected to transmit this viewpoint through their positions of influence. Holdren, as ‘science czar’ in the Obama administration. Singer as professor at Princeton University. Savulescu and Minerva, as professors at Oxford. Giubilini as professor at Charles Sturt University. Taylor’s influence was embedded in the minds of the Supreme Court justices who wrote the majority opinion in Roe vs. Wade. Some, like Dight, Dice, and Reed, you will have never heard but set in motion institutions that still exist today; indeed, in Dight’s Minnesota, the screening of newborns for genetic defects is mandated by law. And so on and so forth. Living and dead, you can be quite certain that all of these people acted on and attempted to further their worldviews.

Not that they are to be blamed for that. It is self-evident that people will act on their worldviews and almost as self-evident that they will try to further them. The problem is when the rest of us fail to grapple with the underlying logic with their worldviews, treating their comments as ‘extreme’ when in fact they are only being consistent. Or, as in the case of Dawkins, dismissing his comments as thoughtless when he presents them as logically flowing from his worldview–a worldview he has been expending considerable effort and energy on extending as far as he can before he dies.

The reader may be somewhat surprised that an essay which began with the implied proposition that Darwinism, atheism, and utilitarianism were the core ingredients in the “ordinary pro-choice stance” did not take more time to demonstrate that more explicitly. There is no question in my mind that this case can be made, but I am doubtful that anything short of a full length book treating each aspect would possibly be taken seriously.   Many readers, however, will find the above quotations disturbing, all the more so when it is learned that the ones making those statements currently occupy or previously occupied places of power, prestige and influence. And not in Nazi Germany.

What ‘logic’ is driving these people to the positions they have?   Surely that is more important than whether or not they have said something that has offended our sensibilities! They seem to take for granted the same set of facts and arrive at similar conclusions which Dawkins characterizes as the “ordinary pro-choice stance.”   What is that ‘set of facts’ if not what I have claimed?

Some research into the deeper convictions of the people discussed above will no doubt be enlightening.

Which brings us back to Dawkins, whose ‘deeper convictions’ is a readily accessible bit of public knowledge. Instead of focusing on how he, or those with similar positions, can be so rude, perhaps we should be asking the more important question: are they in fact, wrong?

Many of the people who took offense to Dawkins’ comments accept all of his premises, and to reject the conclusion merely because you don’t like them is not a very robust protection from abuses.

Even those of us who reject his premises should not dwell on his rudeness, as if we obtained an apology we will have actually accomplished anything. The most substantial thing that will be achieved is people will have odious viewpoints which they will not share aloud anymore, but that won’t keep them from acting on those viewpoints. It would be a case of the proverbial ‘white-washed tomb.’ As far as Dawkins goes, there will not be a change of heart until there is a change of mind.

But perhaps that is true of everyone, and the real point of this essay.

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A Villainous Children’s Book

Some friends of mine released a children’s book called The Villain: The Noble Adventures of Georges & Jean-Luc.   I haven’t had a chance to look at it personally, but here is a review you can check out:

villain-thompsonThe Villain: The Noble Adventures of Georges and Jean-Luc

By Katherine Thompson
Illustrated by Gary R Thompson

Purchase on Amazon

Georges and Jean-Luc are all boy. They live in a world enriched by their imaginations, imaginations formed by the grand old tales that have enchanted children forever. No small world theirs, they look out over the plains and see distant countries to be explored and conquered. Valiant hearted boys, they nevertheless fear one citizen of their little town: the baker. They never go to the baker without their mothers because the villain is terrifying. In the end, a combination of personal courage, respect for authority, and sheer desire for a cookie helps them overcome their fear.

Unlike many contemporary read-aloud books for children, this one feeds their hearts and minds with rich fare. The illustrations are a feast for the eyes and help convey the story. Close scrutiny of the pictures is rewarded in many ways but children are especially delighted to find the tiny blue observer hiding in each one. They invite readers into the story, show what the characters are thinking and why. The illustrations are not simplified, childish drawings colored with stark colors as if children cannot appreciate the beauty and complexity of art.

Finish Reading the Review

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Apologetics Inverview Questions Part 4: Most Challenging Question and Denominations

7. You’ve been in many dialogues with nonChristians. What is the most challenging question you’ve had to answer?

Intellectually, why God should have had the Israelites kill even the infants of the pagan tribes. Culturally, I understand why this would have been done. I could even see God himself performing the task. Having the Israelites do it, though… that is hard for me to fathom.

Emotionally–many people who aren’t Christians used to be Christians, but have suffered somehow at the hands of other Christians, or have endured some tragedy where God seems to have been absent. Obviously, non-Christians can fit into both of those categories, too. They come at you with what they portray as intellectual objections but actually, they aren’t. They are deep-seated intuitions tinged with grief and despair. If you are lucky, this comes out early in the discussion. Since many of my conversations are over the Internet, I usually won’t discover this at all. I do, however, tend to just assume it. One has to work gingerly; if there appear to be clues present that something else is going on, I try to move the conversation in that direction.

As you might expect, they’d prefer to keep the conversation on their ‘intellectual’ objections.

8. Are you of a particular denomination? Do you feel there is a right denomination?

My background is in a conservative Lutheran denomination. That has certainly had an impact. C.S. Lewis (that man again!) observed once that in the ‘center’ of all the denominations, there seems to be folks who are very much alike, even theologically. I think this is true.   I’m not a big fan of denominationalism. I think a lot of it is shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. Denominational structures will be consumed with fire, along with the universe. Only the people will be left. I think a lot of the effort expended in denominational upkeep amounts more or less to ‘systems management’ and as I just said, the Church is not a system, it is a body.

At the same time, ideas have consequences. Doctrines have implications. False doctrines can have seriously bad consequences, temporally and eternally. We cannot be indifferent to this and still be Biblical. Small scale ‘systems’ are unavoidable, but we should always bear in mind that they are temporal.

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Free and Cheap is Not Necessarily Good Stewardship; Also: A warning to those in Christian apologetics

I remember a few years back discovering that I had totally misunderstood a particular Bible passage, Galatians 6:6.

It reads:  “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.”

Come to find out, ‘share all good things’ means, “give materially.”  In modern parlance, it might be, “donate” or “give money.”

In a sense, this came too late for me to give materially to my own teachers, although of course by paying tuition and such I indirectly did this.  I had been aware of the passages that say “A worker is worth his wages” and “Do not muzzle the ox while he is treading out the grain.”  These passages clearly state that a person has a right to earn a wage from their work, even if that work is in spiritual fields.  But the Gal. 6:6 passage is different, in that it does not speak to the right of the minister to expect a material return on their work, but rather who ought to provide that return.

I remember vividly receiving a complaint about the online apologetics academy that my ministry hosts.  The gentlemen, a fairly wealthy person, insisted that we should be hosting those courses for free.   The courses were good and solid… so good and solid that no obstacle should be placed before people who want to take them.  He said, “I know about the whole ‘the worker is worth his wages’ thing, and the instructors ought to be compensated, but…”  I then suggested that he subsidize those courses for people, if he felt that way, and he demurred, saying he already supported a number of other worthy causes.

He thought what we were doing was a worthy cause, felt that the workers (the teachers) should get their wages, did not want potential students to be put off from taking the courses because of the expense, and  yet still did not himself feel like he ought to support the academy.  It was a very strange exchange that left me scratching my head at the time, and even to some extent I remain perplexed

However, I think I have some sense of what was going on.  One may recall that there was a time when just about anything could be found online for free, and I don’t mean illegally.  People, businesses, and organizations, were handing out things for free left and right in a bid to attract traffic and hopefully have them buy other things on the site, etc.  This ‘free-onomy’ I believe created a culture that encompassed both the content providers and the content users, that led to an untenable situation.  The first-fruits of that situation was the Dot-Com Bubble.

Because, simply put, even if people wanted to, they cannot work for free.  On the short term, yes.  But not on the long term.   Unfortunately, we had a whole society oriented towards wanting things for free on the long term, and we had any number of operations out there offering valuable services for free, on the hopes of eventually turning that into a revenue stream.

Whether or not this is a good marketing approach is not really my point.  For the Christian–and the intended audience of this post is the Christian–this sort of consumer-mentality is potentially poisonous and toxic.  The rationalization is that getting something for as cheap as you can is just good stewardship… and, why, if you can get it for free, that is next to godliness!   Whether or not this is ever a healthy approach I don’t know, and is not my concern, because I know that it is not a healthy approach to handling our fellow Christians and the ministries that they carry out, whether it be as a pastor, teacher, or Christian apologist.

It is not good stewardship to find the cheapest way to give a fellow Christian their ‘due wage,’ especially when you are the direct recipient of the benefit that Christian is providing.  That Christian cannot continue providing that benefit if the ones they are serving are skimping out on them, unless, of course, someone elsewhere is subsidizing the efforts.  But there you see we have crossed over into different territory.  Galatians 6:6 doesn’t say, “Share all good things with your teacher unless someone else is paying for it.”

It seems to me that a Biblical attitude towards stewardship should incorporate and take into account the immaterial relationship that exists between the one providing the benefit and the one receiving a benefit, and it is probably not insignificant that Paul here specifically references those who teach, and teachers connected with the Scriptures, in particular.  I emphasized ‘immaterial’ to highlight my belief that there seems to be some genuine principle of the moral universe in play here.  We don’t usually think of it in these terms, but once we do some of it becomes self-evident:  it just makes sense that the person who makes use of the thing ought to reward the one who made it.  The reader should reward the author, the diner should reward the cook, and so on and so forth.  This ‘sense’ is transcendental in nature, and it is probably no surprise that where transcendental connections have been broken, so too have been the direct connection between the provider and the recipient of the provision.

The fact that in our society, the reader doesn’t reward the author directly, but rather the publisher and retailer, who in turn reward the author, is probably more significant then we realize.  The fact that the chef who cooks for you at a restaurant is not paid directly by the diner, but by the one who owns the restaurant, probably strains at unseen realities in ways we don’t understand.  There is a universal intimacy that is forsaken here, with callouses formed that are hard to put our fingers on.  We perhaps come closest to grasping its power when we consider the mother and father cooking and preparing and serving meals to their children, day after day, year after year, until, many decades later, the children will do the same for their elderly parents.

There are deep things at work, here.  Is it possible that these ‘callouses’ I refer to are subsumed within our culture’s present two-worker families, where mother and father work so hard to generate an income that there is not time enough for regular family meals, and decades later, the children find it most appropriate to invest their money in places that will take care of their parents instead of the children doing it?  I do not know;  I do know, this is a complicated affair, where one would not be wise or charitable in casting judgment.  I only suggest that these intimate associations between the provider and the one provided for are not something to be indifferent about–certainly not in the name of ‘stewardship.’

There is, then, a need to re-awaken the Christian’s sense that they have an actual obligation to materially provide for the one that provides them a service.  This obligation is probably moral; it is probably deeper than that, on the order of the transcendental.   If you receive a spiritual benefit, especially from a teacher of the word, of spiritual things, of people involved in spiritual work, you should make an extra effort to see to it that they receive a direct reward, even–and perhaps especially–when they would do it for free, if they could.

But there is another side of the coin.

I know of few involved in Christian ministry who would not do what they do for free, if only they could.  Perhaps it is just that I am fortunate enough to rub shoulders with so many good men and women, but it seems to me that nearly all of them wish that finances were never a consideration.  I know this is true of others, too, such as authors, who must write, or else they would die.   Whether or not they get paid or not, they must write!  Being involved in apologetics, I am also especially sensitive to the mindset of my fellow apologists and their situation.  While every Christian is called to be an ‘apologist,’ anyone who has put their hands to the task know that it is far more work than one things before one begins.  It is so tempting for those involved in ministry (or other immaterial ‘products’, such as books and films) to offer their work for free, but I would caution them against doing so.

Our culture has perhaps brought us to that point where it seems practically necessary in order to ‘compete’ but, as I have tried to argue, there are deeper things afoot; and besides there are clear passages that insist that the worker is to receive his wages–from the one receiving the benefit.  Maybe we can’t change the whole culture, but then, that is not our ultimate concern, anyway.  See Galatians 6:10, 1 Peter 4:17, and 1 Cor  5:12-13.

We would not be wise to uncritically contribute to a culture of materialism, and from the above I hope you see that I mean ‘materialism’ in multiple senses.

There is also the matter of that intimate connection between the one providing and the one receiving, which by offering your products, services, and ministries for free, or well below its actual value, you risk severing.  Moreover, you should understand that in setting the ‘right’ value on what you are doing, you are not just inculcating that intimate relation I’ve been speaking about, you are giving those people the opportunity to support you in your work.  That is, those people may not be in a position to devote hours to reading, writing, and discoursing, but by supporting you materially, they are able, through you, to participate in your mission.  You deprive them of this opportunity if, out of your great love for what you are doing, you put into practice your willingness to work for free.

And besides, we recall that you cannot do that work in the long term if you are dead, and if you cannot eat, that’s precisely what you’ll be.

Let us also give weight to the fact that if others are asking, say, $10 for a product and service which you are simply giving away, you undermine everyone’s ability to be a ‘worker worth his wage.’

This is a subject that I cannot say that I’ve heard very much about.  Not from the pulpit and not in books.   These principles nonetheless seem to be threaded throughout the old and new testaments, and Christians, whether in the act of providing or in the act of being provided for, should seek them out and act on them to the best of their ability.

 

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The Crux: It is about Sex at Any Price

In an article discussing the fact that more people have been aborted in Obama’s term than have gotten jobs, I saw the following exchange:

  • Are you saying that an unborn infant deserves a right to control its own body? Also, are you saying that woman are inferior because they can bear children?

    • The zef can control its own body when it no longer needs the body of its host to survive. I am saying anti-choicers view women as inferior because they want them to have no control over their body and life and think all they should do is pop out babies. 

  • That is absurd and childish gibberish. You don’t have the right to murder the inconvenient people in your life because they burden you. If you don’t desire children and are unmarried don’t fornicate. You’ll be a better person in the long run and no one dies for your mistake.

    • The difference is the inconvenient people in my life aren’t living inside my body and I have a way to escape them if I want. The only way to escape the misery of an unwanted pregnancy is abortion or suicide. I personally think the first option is better.
      I will NEVER desire children and there is nothing wrong with having sex if you aren’t married.

This argument, that abortion is justifiable as ‘self-defense,’ is fairly typical.  Indeed, leading up to Roe vs Wade, it was actually argued that compelling a pregnant woman to carry a baby to term was actually slavery; it was said that the thirteenth amendment, which outlawed slavery, required that abortion be an option.

This is, of course, a variation of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s defense of abortion.

These types of scenarios are deliberate nonsense.  RufusChoate quite correctly describes them as ‘absurd and childish gibberish.’  In fact, if there is anything that seems to characterize the pro-choice perspective, it is its childish nature.  Anyone who has experience with children know that they will bend over backwards to justify and rationalize why they should be allowed to have their candy or toy.  If there is a competing interest involved, they are quite indifferent.  It is only as they get older that they realize the limits to such thinking.

For however many years in western society, sex is a toy.  No one wants to be told that they cannot play with their toy.  No one wants to be told that their toy might even be dangerous in certain contexts–like the child that wishes to play baseball in the living room does not like being told to take the baseball bat and ball into the field, where that toy is more appropriate–or, that they shouldn’t bash people in the head with the baseball bat.  In short, no one wants to be told that the best context for sexual behavior is in the context of a lifelong, monogamous commitment between one man and one woman.  They will play with their toy, and don’t let anyone stop them!

The fatal absurdity in the ‘self-defense’ argument is patently obvious to anyone who is not blinded by the pleasures of sex, in any circumstance, at any price.

For you see, we are not talking about someone who one day, minding his own business, wakes up the next only to discover that another person has been hooked up to him, and this person is now being used as life support for the other.  No, this is a situation where one day, a person engages in a behavior that the person absolutely knows may create that person who now needs life support.   The person would not have existed at all, if you had not had sex.  They would not need life support at all, if you had not had sex.  YOU BROUGHT THE PERSON INTO THE WORLD.  And now, finding that you are ‘life support’ for another living being–which you knew might be the direct consequence of your action–you have the temerity to insist you can also kill the person?

I don’t see any other way of understanding this mindset except that it is really the case that people really believe they have the right to play with a toy, even if it actually kills someone.  Let others die, that I might have sex.  Unbelievable.

I assume that if we return to the case of our children playing with a toy, if in the course of playing with that toy, a brand new child was the result, the parent wouldn’t come into the room and say, “LOOK at this mess!  I told you that if you played with that toy, you were going to make another person, and now LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE!”  But that is actually what is happening–“LOOK AT this mess!”  Alright, well, I guess that’s another person we’re going to have to kill.  Yes, yes, keep your toy.  Can you please be more careful next time?  Here, take this drug;  there, there, carry on with your toy.  And if you get a disease, don’t worry, we’ll give you another drug for that.  But by all means, do not even consider not playing with your toy.  There is nothing wrong with playing with your toys in any manner that you please.”

It should go without saying that the self-evident nature of this line of reasoning becomes cloudy in a case such as rape.  Be honest:  acknowledge that these are a small fraction of the abortions that occur.

In the spirit of this post, you may wish to read my short story, Better Than Sex, which may put an even finer point on this issue.  That story can perhaps be dedicated to my public health official friend, who earnestly seems to believe that no one can contain their urge to have sex, and therefore we must try to protect them from the consequences of their urges–not of course, that we must urge folks to control their urges;  one would not want to get between a child and his toy.  This same friend wishes that we could ban guns (except, of course, in the hands of the government, where we can be quite sure they will be handled appropriately), in part on the argument that a gun has one sole purpose–to hurt, maim, or kill another person.  Can you imagine how he would recoil in horror if it was not merely the case that a gun killed a person when fired, but, that in pulling the trigger, it also created a brand new person, and then killed that person?  I have the sneaking suspicion that his positions are bound up together in some related fashion;  on the one hand, he is opposed to the populace having handguns, which only kill existing people, but he does not wish to stand in the way of people having as much sex as they want, despite the persistent rumor that when you have sex, you make new people; but never fear, in that case, you can just kill them!

I’d be interested in seeing that bit of irony parsed out sometime.

Sitting down to write this post made me reflect again on that old argument that the pregnant woman, whilst deliberately engaging in the activity that caused them to become pregnant in the first place, thought that this constituted involuntary enslavement.  How could a whole mass of people not perceive the absurd wickedness of that line of thinking?  Someone creates the very person who enslaves them, and thus has the right to kill that newly created person?  How bizarre.  Why isn’t it recognized more widely just how bizarre that is?

I realized that I put my finger on it already when I said a person is ‘blinded’ by their desire to experience sex, as often as possible, at any price, including if it kills another person.  Such a person is not a slave because they now are carrying a brand new human being.  They were already a slave, but to their own passions.   Does this mean that, like my public health official friend, conclude that there is nothing that can be done to stop people from having sex, and should seek to mitigate the harm from wanton sexual behavior?  No, because his thinking is that the best we can do is free people from the enslavement that awaits the results of their behavior, while I would argue that what we ought to be doing is freeing people from being slaves to the behavior itself.

Unfortunately, all that secular society can bring itself to do is speak to the latter freeing;  the first freeing, the more profound freeing, which sends freedom rippling down the whole sequence of events, has distinctly religious underpinnings to them.

I reckon that is the answer for all of it.  Sometime not too many years back, the stuff that would really give people freedom was driven from the public square, and now widespread slavery has resulted.  Since our secular society refuses to set the slaves really free, the best that can be mustered is attempts to clean up the mess the slaves make.

What a crazy world.

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Apologetics Interview Questions Part 3: Intellectual State of the church and favorite Christian apologist

4. What is your opinion on the current intellectual state of the modern church? Some apologists have begun to heavily criticize it.

I think there is no question that there are vast stretches of ignorance in the modern church, but I doubt the ‘modern’ part of that phrase is relevant. I’m not very impressed with the intellectual state of modern society in general; here again, the ‘modern’ part is probably not very significant.   What to do about it? Your best, as you are able, but I’m not a big fan of tinkering with systems, and I think one of the attitudes embedded in this kind of question is the view that we should ‘take the reins’ as it were, and shape the ‘system’ the way that we see fit. The church in America is largely structured so as to appear like a ‘system.’ Our congregations are organized on secular principles and legal frameworks, have ‘presidents’ and boards and committees, and so on. But the Church is not a ‘system.’ It is the Body of Christ. Christ is the husband, and the right to intervene and perfect his Bride is his and his alone. Our chief responsibility, in the face of pervasive ignorance everywhere, both in and outside the church, is to our own family. Sure, help out where you can, but your duty is to your own family.

Sure, I’ve lodged criticisms about the state of the church right now. I’ve even made the claim that the church is the leading cause of atheism in America. But what to do about it? Persuade, cajole, warn, equip, and educate. But I don’t think I’ll have to answer for the ignorance of Christians in, say, Uganda, or Chicago. God will hold me to account, however, if my own children are ill-equipped to live as free men and women in the world.

5. Do you have a favorite apologist, Christian thinker, or philosopher? Give us your top 3.

Hands down, C.S. Lewis. After him, C.S. Lewis. Coming in a distant third, C.S. Lewis.

C.S. Lewis corrected my arrogant view that I had come up with questions no one had asked before. He asked them–and answered them. I owe much to the man.

In fourth place, comes G.K. Chesterton. His book “Orthodoxy” was worldview transforming for me.

Other folks have also had an impact, though to a lesser degree. These would include Dorothy Sayers, John Warwick Montgomery, and FF Bruce come to mind. There are other apologists out there, and I’m not saying they are not as competent as these, I’m just saying that they were not foremost in my own personal journey.

6. What do you think is the strongest proof for the Christian God?

The Resurrection.

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Apologetics Interview Questions Part 2: On Hell

3. A lot of disbelievers have a problem with a loving God sending people to an eternity of torture by way of fire. What is your take on hell?

I also had a problem with that. C.S. Lewis’s “The Great Divorce” provided the imaginative framework I needed to get over the ‘hump’ on this issue. We talk as though ‘hell’ is a place of eternal torture, and it is certainly something very much like that, but the torture is self-torture. The phrase in “The Great Divorce” that stuck was, “In the end, there will be those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, ‘Thy will be done.’ In order for ‘free will’ to be a genuine, truly existing thing, there must be at least the possibility of rejecting God. Now, the mistake is to think that it is possible to reject God and still have a pleasant existence. In the first place, we know that the nature of ‘hell’ is marked fundamentally by the fact that it entails a full separation from God. See 2 Thess. 1:9. The fallacy is thinking that you can experience ‘goodness’ apart from God. James 1:17 says “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” So, now imagine someone who says that they would like to have good and perfect gifts, but without God. It can’t be done. The thing is not possible. If people demand an existence apart from God, God will grant their wish; but there is no way for him to give them both the things that they want, simultaneously–existence apart from Him AND good gifts.

I have met too many people who seem to comprehend this, who have said that even if the Christian account correct, they would never submit to God, to view ‘hell’ as unnecessary. I’ve even interacted once who conceded that Jesus rose from the dead and was likely God, but he wasn’t going to submit to him–this gent will submit to NO ONE.

Do they know what they’re asking?

I wrote a short story about this called “Richard Dawkins goes to Heaven.” You can pick it up on Amazon. In it, I explain the above in story form. The New Atheist PZ Myers discovered it and plagiarized it, posting much of it to his website. There were some, like Myers himself, who thought I was relishing the ‘torture porn’ of seeing Dawkins get his ‘heaven.’ But other atheists said that I actually did a good job showing Dawkins as a stout fellow who wouldn’t bend his knee before an evil, tyrannical God.

Now, most of them didn’t read the story before piling onto it, one way or the other. But if they did, then they would understand the implications of the two verses above on the question of what ‘hell’ is and its absolute necessity if they were ever to get their wish for an existence apart from God. Many of them were quite clear in saying that, even if there was a God, they would wish to exist apart from Him. That means that they should welcome a place and manner for them to be apart from him.

And there is such a place; we call it Hell.

As is so often the case with atheists, we give them what they want, and they still aren’t happy. Many of them claim to hate God specifically because of ‘hell.’ They might say, “But why should God honor such a request? Shouldn’t he just compel people to do what is in their best interests?”

In this scenario, between two choices, existence apart from God and spiritual rape, they would choose the latter. But ask them if they think God should just dictate their every move, practically rendering them for all intents and purposes, a robot (but without talking about ‘hell’ as the alternative), they will balk and get all up in arms.

Like was said in Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian”, “There’s no pleasing some people.”

For the people who can’t be pleased, there is a place; we call it Hell.

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Apologetics Interview Questions Part 1, My testimony and the purpose of Athanatos Christian Ministries

I was recently asked to answer some interview questions about my apologetics ministries.  What follows are the questions and answers, in installments.

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1. Will you share your testimony? When did you begin to believe in God and why?

I was raised in the faith and believed in God from my earliest memories. However, despite twelve years of Christian schooling, when I went to college (to become a pastor) I began reading the Bible for myself, for my own interests, rather than for assignments, and was immediately struck by all kinds of difficulties. Worse, when I asked people for insight, no one seemed to have any. That included my professors. I concluded that A., I must be a very bright lad, thinking of these hard questions that no one apparently had ever considered before and B., what does it say when even my professors can’t answer me. Looking back, neither conclusion was the right one. There is a difference between “can’t answer” and “won’t answer.” At the time, though, this was faith-shattering.

For a period of about six months, I dropped God like a bad habit. But within that period, God was working. I did realize that I had been approaching the Bible as though it were ‘guilty until proven innocent’ and recognized that this was not a fair approach. I reversed my approach, and then, when one isn’t nitpicking everything, but actually taking it as it stands as a whole, things begin to make sense. By the end of my freshmen year in college, I could comfortably call myself a Christian again. I did, however, doubt very much that pastoral ministry was for me. My eye turned towards teaching and apologetics.

2. You’re Executive Director over Athanatos Christian Ministries. What is the purpose of the ministry?

After seven years of ‘professional’ church work, my job situation changed, and I decided it was time to put an official umbrella over the apologetics work that I was already doing. In fact, there has never been a time since that freshmen year that I have not been carrying out apologetics. The vision and direction of ACM has changed shape over the years as I myself have tried to sort out just what kind of apologetic work I should be doing. It seems that our early emphasis on apologetics through the arts is what is going to eventually win out. The motto comes from a passage in Ecclesiastes that says, “He has set eternity in the hearts of men.” If you think about that, it has profound implications. C.S. Lewis said once that we have never met a mere mortal. If this is true, then there are other avenues to reach the boxed-in heart, and I find that the arts and ‘literary apologetics’ are one such powerful avenue; incidentally, the enemy knows this too, and is actively working to poison the culture so that it is toxic to faith, faith formation, and even the existence of the believers themselves.

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A Tribute to Coach Dennis Tuomi

About a week ago, my high school wrestling coach passed away at a good old age.  Hundreds turned out for the funeral;  thousands wished they could have.  I went.  It was the least I could do to honor a man who was instrumental in shaping who I am–the things I value most about myself.   His son, Tom, was right in there with the shaping, but he’s going to have to wait until he passes away at a good old age before he gets a tribute such as this one, although I hope he knows my gratitude.

Coach Tuomi coached for decades, and I was just one among countless others he impacted.  I can’t speak for them, for the most part.  My reference point is my own life.  Others had him for other sports, but for me, it was only wrestling.   I hadn’t wanted to wrestle, but through some clever footwork by my father, I gave it a shot. After about a month, I was hooked, big time.

It is all very hard to explain.  I had only hit 5 foot the summer before my freshman year and at my first weigh-in, I checked in at a scant 88 pounds.  Not ideal, even for the lowest weight class (103) but worse, the guy at 103 had experience, and he spent that first month (heck, that first season!) cleaning my clock.  I had to wrestle 112, which I did not weigh enough for.  I may have been the only person in wrestling history that had to EAT in order to make legal weight!  But I digress;  the point is that in my all my scrawniness, I had some glimmer of the warrior inside, but no real hope that that warrior could stand its ground when push came to shove–until wrestling.

The number one thing that Coach Tuomi gave me was his steadfast belief in me.  Not just in the sense that I would prevail on the mat, but that I would prevail in life.  He wasn’t a man to say much (to me) but there was never a moment that I saw him regard me with anything but kindness in his eyes, and confidence that come hell or high water, I would do my best.

There were two things that Coach imparted both as a coach and as a teacher.  Both have been emblazoned in my mind:

“Do not worry about the things you can’t control.”

“If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

There are valuable life lessons in these, but they are especially appropriate for those who wrestle, and only a few outside of the sport of wrestling will know what I mean.

You need to understand that when you step out onto the mat, the whole universe rushes away and you are fundamentally alone;  alone, that is, except for the other guy on the mat who wants to inflict intense pain upon you.  He wants to crush your will, dominate you, batter you into submission.  And he will, too, if you let him.  No one else can stop him.  Not your coach.  Not your parents.  Not your fellow wrestlers.  Not the fans watching.  Perhaps only the referee, provided he can get there in time to keep the damage from becoming permanent.

If you lose in wrestling, it is usually because the other guy was better than you.  More disciplined.  More skilled.  Or maybe he just wanted it more than you did, and was willing to pay whatever price necessary.  It isn’t like basketball, where your personal attitude is a tiny, tiny component feeding into the final outcome.   There are too many variables–your fellow teammates and of course the whole other opposing team.  The mental game is just categorically different.  Basketball players may step on the court nervous about the outcome of the game, but wrestlers have every reason to fear for their very well-being.  Their ego and dignity are at risk.  There is a chance that, literally, they may very well be brutalized–both body and mind.  And there would be no one else to blame except YOU.

Do not worry about the things you can’t control… but in wrestling, Coach Tuomi knew that there were a great many things we could control, such as how hard we worked, how disciplined we were both on and off the mat, and so on.  We could not control those factors in our opponent, but we certainly could with ourselves;  don’t worry about the opponent.  Worry about YOU, lay it all on the line, and then, there is nothing to be ashamed of.

If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.  If you step out onto the mat thinking you’re going to lose, Coach knew it, and wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest that you did, in fact, lose.  He wasn’t surprised when you won, either;  it was too be expected, after all, you knew before you stepped on the mat what the outcome was going to be.

I internalized both of these statements.  I remember something coach said about me, which got back to me from a circuitous route.  Another wrestler, he said, was always surprised when he won.  But I was always surprised when I lost.  And that is still true today;  I expect every venture to result in victory, because I pour myself into the endeavor, leaving very little left on the ‘mat.’

Yet, sometimes I do lose.

I’m sure that Coach had much to say about this component, but perhaps it just goes back again to the nature of wrestling.  Very few wrestlers escape their careers without chalking up a few losses.  In fact, I feel sorry for those who never lost at all, whereas I am proud beyond words of the guys who stepped out onto the mat, over and over, and lost nearly every time.  Do you know what kind of person one must be to have that kind of character?   Most people lose once, and they’re done.  Losing, when there is no one else to blame for losing, stinks, to put it mildly.

Indeed, in my own career, I still chalked up more losses than many people even compete.   My career was not been defined by my victories, but by my defeats, and how I reacted to them.  The spillover into later life has been immense and profound.  I owe as much to Coach for his words after a defeat as I do from his help in preparing me for victory, but of the two, it is the former that has proved more important.

It is so hard to explain.  I’m talking about who I became, who I am, as a man.  You would have to know something of the victories and the defeats, and the personal price paid for each, and then understand that solitary war one fights on a mat, and how that anticipates the victories and defeats of life.  All Coach Tuomi demanded was our best;  that is all, but it wasn’t always enough.  What do you do?  You get back up.  You circle back to the center of the mat.  You bid your opponent to come forth again;  he bested you once, but before God and his holy angels, you’re going to make him pay.    He may win, and may inflict pain, but oh dear Lord, imagine how he will look after he met the buzzsaw; sure, he may escape with another notch in the win column but only–insofar as it is within my control (and if it isn’t, I’m not worrying about it) as one barely escaping the flames.

You may have my body, but you will never have my spirit.  But in your quest to have my body, know this:  I will have my pound of flesh.

How much of this was imparted by Coach?  How much of it is just a function of the great sport of wrestling?  (Remember, wrestling is the only sport that God participated in–see Jacob;  granted, in that case, God cheated.  But still).  I don’t know if I could ever parse it out, or if it could ever be parsed out on this side of the veil.  I’ve seen other wrestling coaches, and the kinds of wrestlers they produce, and I just know in my bones that Coach brought something profoundly different to the table.  I can’t put my finger on it, but I know it.  And I know that I am in his debt.

I think about my victories, and I know he is to have some share in them.  And the losses, too;  Tuomi would have been insistent that I be gracious both in victory or defeat.  But sometimes I find myself mystified by what I have become; a rock, in some ways, as I think he must have been.  The times when I’ve been surrounded by opponents–not mere competitors, but actual foes–who point their scrawny fingers or raise their bully voices, who have had success issuing shrill, self-righteous howls… I see their faces, their looks of confusion when I am entirely unmoved.   Goodness gracious, what can they do to me compared to what I have already endured?  It’s laughable, really.  I’ve had bones stressed to the breaking point, been practically suffocated to death, dropped on my head, and so on.  These yahoos, what are they going to do?  The truth is, I pity them.  Don’t they know that if I lose, but I want it bad enough, I’m circling back to the center of the mat?  And I’m going to do that again, and again, and again, and again, each time extracting my pound of flesh?

Probably not.  They were probably basketball players.  😉

And then there are the twists of fate and fortune, the acts of God, as it were.  When my daughter was diagnosed in the womb with spina bifida it was suggested we abort her.  Physically and emotionally, it was just like getting body-slammed.  But you know what, I’ve actually been body-slammed before.  The pain is temporary;  you learn that in wrestling.  It is something you rise above and wade into on your way to your destination.  There is nothing for it but to get up and keep moving.  It was like that for me.  It is so hard to explain to those who haven’t had these experiences.  That profoundly sick feeling you have in your stomach the night before and the moments prior to the match, which by sheer force of will and discipline, you swallow hard and transform yourself into a warrior, and a sheer force to be reckoned with; may God help the one who does not give due respect to the weapon.  We did not abort our daughter.  We got up.  We circled back to the center of the mat and bid the universe to rejoin the battle–if it dares.  We will have our pound of flesh.

Coach was a warrior, a sheer force to be reckoned with.  He shaped me.  He inspired me.  He taught me how to wrestle, but through wrestling, taught me how to live–with courage, dignity, and principle.  It is too hard for me to parse out his influence.  I think it just permeates me.  What kind of man is able to do that?  What kind of man was able to do that for thousands and thousands?

Words cannot describe such a man.

He died last week.  But you know, as powerless as he was to defeat death, he knew the one who had, Jesus of Nazareth.  I can see Coach in my minds eye, departing the tomb, leaving it quite empty, and regarding Death for the first time as it really is–a wholly defeated foe.  I can see Coach circling back to the center of the mat, bidding his foe to take another crack at him.  But Death is nowhere to be seen.  It’s run for the hills.  The final victory had already been won, all that was necessary was to be steadfast.

And if Coach Tuomi was anything, it was steadfast.

I look forward to thanking him again one day, in person… if I have just an ounce of his steadfastness, I have full confidence I’ll have that opportunity.

I realize, of course, that I’ll have to wait in a very long line.

 

 

 

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The Death of the Republic and Gay Marriage

I have spoken out against gay ‘marriage’ from a number of different viewpoints on this blog but there is one angle that I feel reflects the real danger that gay ‘marriage’ presently poses, and that, in the United States, is the death of the Republic altogether.

There are of course all the other arguments, but ironically, pro-gay ‘marriage’ advocates like to brush those aside as being ‘religious’ in nature, and demand that you only bring ‘secular’ arguments, but this argument actually is secular.  Irony on top of irony, their arguments are the ones religious in nature.   I should mention this very important thing:  gay ‘marriage’ is only the latest manifestation of an acid that has been eating away at American society for decades, if not even more than a century.  In a nutshell, we are witnessing the near collapse of the rule of law and the effective disenfranchisement of a huge majority of the American people, all brought about by relentless manipulation and propaganda coming from our schools, our media, and the government itself.

I would like you to consider how it is that we are on the verge of having gay ‘marriage’ codified as the law of the land right now, considering that over the last ten years or so, state after state, referendum after referendum, constitutional amendment after constitutional amendment, has gone against gay ‘marriage’ and explicitly affirmed a ‘traditional’ understanding of the term as denoting a lifelong relationship between one man and one woman.  To achieve this, gay ‘marriage’ proponents have essentially burned down the country to get what they want.  Perhaps they deem that this is worth it.  Obviously, they must.  However, and I am totally sincere in this warning, with no malevolence implied or intended, this kind of precedent can come back to haunt them in some serious ways.   There is such a thing as cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Some may see some poetic justice to such a thing happening but again, there is such a thing as cutting off your nose to spite your face!

To put it another way, if only the gay ‘marriage’ proponents had worked patiently and persistently within the system, respecting the wishes and will of their countrymen, I would have been thoroughly against their position and terribly displeased by it, but hey, in our system of government, if you can play by the rules and garner up the necessary legislative support for you position, I say more power to you.  This is precisely the courtesy that has been denied to those with my position, with the added insult that we already played by the rules and garnered up the necessary legislative support for our position!  And how has this been done?

By the whimsical judgement of a handful of men and women–probably not more than 30 people, out of a population of 300,000,000 plus–who have seen fit to override the will, as expressed explicitly at ballot box after ballot box for fifteen years, that’s how.

Yea, that can’t end well.

But perhaps you cannot grasp the full scope of what has happened and just how quickly it has.  Allow me to produce some documentation.

First of all, we clearly knew where things were going for awhile.  In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), was passed by Congress.  Consider these stats:

In the House, the ‘yeas’ were 342 and the ‘nays’ 67.  In the Senate, the ‘yeas’ were 85, and the ‘nays’ 14.  It was signed by the lusty Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

While 224 of the ‘yeas’ on the House were Republicans, 118 Democrats voted against their comrades to support the bill (118-65).

In 2013, SCOTUS struck down DOMA as unconstitutional;  so much for SCOTUS not wanting to intervene in matters best decided by the people through their elected representatives.

I know what you are saying.  Why are we talking about a piece of legislation that is 150  years old?!?!?  How can this be relevant today?!!?  People’s attitudes can change after 150 years.  We’re talking about a bill that was passed years and years and years ago–not only are the people who passed it dead, but the children of those who passed it are dead!

Oh, wait.  What is 2014-1996 again?  Quick, can a recent graduate from a New York public school get out a calculator and figure this out?  Is it 150?  I apologize.  I’m sure its closer to 100;  ages ago, at any rate.

Oh, wait.

The writing was clearly on the wall, and of course everyone knows you can’t very well trust the Feds, so now the states get involved.  Wikipedia has very helpfully helped organize the sequence of what came next.

These are all amendments to state constitutions rejecting gay ‘marriage.’ Do you know how hard it is to get constitutions amended?  It’s hard work, Jim.  Nonetheless:

  1. In 1998, Alaska ratified its ban on same-sex marriage with 68% of the vote.
  2. In 2000 AND in 2002, Nevada did the same, with 69.6% and 67.1% of the vote, respectively.
  3. In 2000, Nebraska did, with 70% of the vote.
  4. In 2004, Mississippi passed its with 86% of the vote.
  5. In 2004, Missouri did, with 72%.
  6. In 2004, Montana did with 67%.
  7. In 2004, Georgia did, with 76%.
  8. In 2004, Kentucky did, with 75%.
  9. In 2004, Louisiana, did, with 78%.
  10. In 2004, North Dakota followed suit, with 73%.
  11. In 2004, Ohio concurred with 62% support.
  12. In 2004, Oregon did, with 57%.
  13. In 2004, Utah did with 66%.
  14. In 2004, Oklahoma did with 76%.
  15. In 2004, Michigan did, with 59%.
  16. In 2004, Arkansas did, with 75%.
  17. In 2005, Kansas passed theirs with 70% of the vote.
  18. In 2005, Texas did with 76%.
  19. In 2006, Colorado did, with 56%
  20. In 2006, Tennessee did with 81%.
  21. In 2006, Alabama did, with 81%.
  22. In 2006, South Carolina did with 78%.
  23. In 2006, South Dakota ratified theirs with 52% of the vote.
  24. In 2006, Wisconsin did with 59%.
  25. In 2006, Virginia did, with 57%.
  26. In 2006, Idaho did, with 63%.
  27. In 2008, Arizona did, with 56%.
  28. In 2008, Florida did with 62%.
  29. In 2008, California did with 52%.
  30. In 2012 — CENTURIES AGO! — North Carolina did theirs with 61%.

Only in one state did an amendment to ‘clarify’ what the human race has heretofore considered ‘marriage’ fail, and that was in Minnesota, in 2012.

Let’s count.

30-1.

Setting aside for now how ancient these efforts were, let us observe first of all how in the vast majority of the cases, the ‘traditional’ definition won out by margins that would be considered a landslide in any other context.

Second of all, these were just the constitutional amendments.   If we add state statutes, the numbers run even higher, although in order to make a point, I want to highlight just one of them, California.

California has been voting overwhelmingly liberal and Democrat for quite a long time.   Despite being a bastion of the left, there was still widespread desire to ensure that when native English speakers use the word ‘marriage’ they mean what native English speakers have always meant.  Being a bastion of the left, the citizens could not get their representatives to follow through, so they went straight to the people;  Proposition 22, defining marriage as between one man and one woman, was passed by referendum in 2000 with 61.4% of the vote (4,618,673 people.)

IN CALIFORNIA.

Surely this was just a fluke.  They couldn’t possibly believe all that jazz there on the Left Coast, could they? A handful of judges decided it must be so, and tossed it out.  This forced Californians to really get serious if they wanted their will represented, so they went for the whole kit and kaboodle, by way of a constitutional amendment.  Even after nearly ten years of some of the best propaganda you’ve ever seen, Proposition 8 still passed, IN CALIFORNIA.  This time it was ‘only’ 52.24% of the vote, but look at the raw numbers!  In that election the ‘yeas’ numbered 7,001,084 votes.

That is more than the population of many states, and is in CALIFORNIA.  When did this happen?  145 years ago, you say?  Oh.  In 2008.  Quick, someone give me a calculator… 6  years ago…

Do you know how many people voted for Obama in California in 2012? 7,800,000.

So basically, about the same number in California that did NOT want gay marriage DID want Obama.  I did say it was a liberal state.

And even in a liberal state, when the people were allowed to speak, they were quite clear on what they had to say.

California wasn’t the only leftist utopia where even leftists wanted to affirm a ‘traditional’ definition of marriage.  Massachusetts comes to mind, and we find a similar story, where the people tried to state their mind, but were overruled by a tiny handful of individuals.  The people of Massachusetts did not have the same success as those in California, though, and I’d be willing to bet that if that state had the same ability for citizens to create referendums on the fly that California did, that would have ended differently.

Now, there is no question, of course, that there has been strong support in some areas for gay ‘marriage.’  Still, we are told that there is massive support for it, but the above litany tells a different tale altogether.  Within the last two, three, five, and ten years, going back to DOMA itself, there has been huge opposition to gay ‘marriage’ that has dwarfed the public support that the gay ‘marriage’ proponents could muster.

What to do… what to do… ah, right.  Judicial activism.  The go-to mechanism for liberals for decades.  What could go wrong?

Bam Bam Bam… in 2013, California and Utah’s CONSTITUTIONAL amendments were overthrown and in 2014 (that is this year, fyi) Oregon,  Okalahoma, Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Arkansas and Idaho had theirs reversed too.

And were they reversed via that time honored tradition or repealing it, like Prohibition was repealed!  Why yes… wait, no!  All fell victim to a tiny sliver of men and women in black robes.  Millions and millions and millions of people, working hard to follow the rules and govern themselves thwarted by a tiny handful of people.

What could possibly go wrong?

In the meantime, of course, public sentiment seems to be bending towards gay ‘marriage.’  In my estimation, if similar votes were held today, many of these amendments wouldn’t have passed, or they wouldn’t have passed with the high margins that they did.  A friend wags his finger at me, “Why, Johnnyboy, don’t you know that according to the latest polling, like 52% of the American public is in favor of gay ‘marriage’ today!  How dare you insinuate that the will of the people is being thwarted!”

This raises a couple of issues, but the first has to do with the categorical difference between THIRTY constitutional amendments and polling with sample sizes of a couple of thousand or so.  It’s as if the whole world has gone clean out of their mind–it is hard work to get a constitution amended, and you can’t do it without a huge amount of public support.

Of course, all those people wasted their time, because as various courts have made plain at this point, it doesn’t matter what they believe.  Even so, the fact that they played by the rules whilst the gay ‘marriage’ proponents violated the law left and right and pursued in the courts what they couldn’t dream of accomplishing in the ballot box sets these far apart from the latest Newsweek polling.  I should like to have seen some of the gay ‘marriage’ proponents try their hands at a constitutional amendment.  Ha!  I know.  Fat chance.  But my contempt for their cause would be far less then it is at present, because they would have at least made a good faith effort to engage their fellow citizens in the marketplace of ideas where it all comes (theoretically) to a head, the ballot box.

The second issue, though, is probably far more serious, and pregnant with much more cause for deep concern.  Let us imagine for a moment that in the course of a single presidential cycle, the entire country has moved from one side of the equation where they exerted themselves strenuously, even going so far as to pass amendments in state after state, but now has genuinely come to a point where a shade over 50% will collectively shrug their shoulders over the prospect of a scant 5% of the population redefining ‘marriage’ come hell or high water.

To what do we owe this huge swing in a matter of four or five years, tops?

My friend bemoans the influence of ‘big money’ on elections and in the Prop 8 fiasco, described above.

Isn’t it as plain as the nose on your face that if there is ‘big money’ propaganda involved here, it has got to be from the side of the homosexual activists?  Or do we really want to believe that  hundreds of millions of Americans, between the time it takes their eyes to blink, genuinely changed their mind without any kind of coercion or manipulation?

I think not.

In my opinion, the opposition to gay ‘marriage’ is still quite strong, so what we’re going to continue to see is judicial oppression in order to make it ‘stick.’  (What could possibly go wrong?)

However, I will concede that to some extent there has been a real shift of attitudes, but I do not at all believe these gains by the homosexual lobby have been gained honestly.  I don’t know who you are, but I know you are out there, oh ye manipulators of public opinion, oh ye proteges of Bernays and what not.  I can’t see you, I don’t know your name, but millions of people simply don’t change their minds on such a fundamental issue unless someone like you is at work.  I know you’re out there, I can hear you breathing.

And just remember, two can play that game.  Don’t whine when the shoe is on the other foot.

In the meantime, as far as I’m concerned, this whole burning down the Republic in order to get your way thing cannot end well, not for you, and not for me.  I do hope you change your tune before something really dire happens.  After all, you didn’t think you could destroy democracy without it having some kind of negative effect, did you?

I know, I know.  I can see you sitting their all smug, cigar in hand.  You think its cute that I still think we have anything that passes as a democracy.  Consider it the last splinter of idealism I have left.

 

 

 

 

 

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Padding and Borders in WordPress 3.9 Removed–RIDICULOUS

I don’t normally descend into complaints about tiny things that bother me, but every now and then things get under my skin and I just need to vent.  In this case, the most appropriate places for my venting were shut down, cold.

If you are reading this, then you probably know that WordPress has decided to remove the ability to manage image placement in a post or page, which was easily doable from the advanced options section simply be entering how wide you wanted the horizontal or vertical spacing, the width of the border, and so on.

I spent about twenty minutes trying to properly align one simple little image in 3.9, figuring that it had to be my stupidity for not being able to figure out where this setting was.  I decided to take to the net to find the answer.  Then I found some threads on WordPress where it was revealed that it was intentionally removed.  Dude.  Not cool.

I would have complained there, but as is often the case, the omnipotent forum administrators–knowing what’s best for everyone (and hence, also omniscient) closed the threads down.  If comments in the thread are true, there were some complaint threads that were actually deleted.  Here are the two that I found, here and here, both closed.  WordPress forum admins insist that there was no great demand for these features, but a user astutely pointed out the obvious:

“You don’t see a groundswell of complaints regarding the changes to images because you keep closing topics.”

It seems that I, too, am in the ‘minority’ that found this functionality very useful, and its removal incomprehensible.  But now I think I have it figured out:

“Those features are not coming back any time soon. […] use a theme that actually formats your images properly in the first place.”

I think this comment admits more than was intended.  In a sane universe, we could simply give a retort that should not even have to be explained–no theme can possibly anticipate all the different ways an image may need to be formatted on a particular page.  As if every image needs to be vertically aligned, or given a padding of 5, or a border of 2.  Even if themes had an easy way to adjust the CSS for all of the images on a website… who on earth would really want that?  Presumably, this particular coder has not had to deal with people who have exacting demands on how they want their webpage to view;  in many cases, this is not optional, as there is money involved.

But that’s a sane universe.

The real answer probably has to do with snobbery.

You know what kind of person I mean, even if you haven’t met a code-snob before.  These are the people who are so confident that they know the best answer and the right solution that they’re just going to enact their program without explanation, defense, or rationalization (and often without warning), and if you don’t like it, TOUGH.  If only others had done it “properly in the first place!”  But ‘proper’ is often in the eye of the beholder.  For me, as for thousands, if not tens of thousands, instead of being able to very easily manipulate how an image appears on the page through a couple of simple clicks, I will now have to edit stylesheets or the code itself on a particular page.

A WASTE OF MY TIME.

So, WordPress forum mods–you were able to shut down and stifle complaints and feedback in your own sandbox, disabling my ability to leave polite but dissatisfied feedback on your site–leaving me no option but to post a rant here in hopes that the code-snobs might see the light.

Anyway, I’m really a big fan of WordPress and use it on all of my websites.  But this could be a serious obstacle to my continued use, at least or especially in cases where I have to work with a lot of images.  Even more so, in cases where I have been hired to build sites with the intent that I will turn over management to the client–who usually will know next to nothing about stylesheets, CSS, and the like.

Don’t forget who made you great.

 

 

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Elliot Rodger–Would-be Modern Eugenicist

The dude who killed 6 before killing himself managed to get his manifesto posted to the web before offing himself.  Clearly, Elliot Rodger was not a well person.  Perhaps sometime I will have something more to say about him, having scanned his book.  I do not find his screed particularly surprising;  it seems exactly what we should expect in a hyper-sexualized society that emphasizes ‘fairness’ and elevates the alleviation or lack of suffering as the highest moral good.  What follows below is an excerpt where his viewpoint is summarized, and it dovetailed so well with some of my researches in eugenics, I wanted a record of my own for future discussion.

Probably the worst news to come out of the whole affair is that Rodger was not a Christian or a ‘member’ of the Tea Party and did not commit his acts in a place where gun control laws are very loose.

bringonbravenewworldHorvath-thumbAs it seems to me, Rodger definitely has caught the spirit of the eugenic mindset, minus the power he would need to practically implement any of his improvements of the race, and endued with a hatred of women stemming from his own hyper-sexualized outlook on the purpose of existence.  Besides the Darwinian/eugenic elements, there is the Nietzsche-Superman element that is often present in our mass murders, past and present.  I’d really like to see the books he was reading.

If you swap out ‘women’ for ‘Jews,’ ‘Negros’, or ‘feeble-minded,’ you will have pretty nearly the same flavor of things pre-1945, in Germany, yes, but also in America.  Three generations of imbeciles is quite enough, don’t you agree?

Anyway, reading this I was also reminded of my short story, “Bring on the Brave New World” where there are some uncanny similarities between my main character and the ideological components that fester in his mind and whatever was festering in Elliot Rodger.  The difference seems to be that in my story, my main character sees the same problem that Rodger does–what can practically accomplished “in his lifetime”–and sees that as the first thing to address before moving on to bigger and better things.  Apart from that, the similarities are striking;  methinks there is a universal acid at work, here.  Without further ado, from Mr. Rodger:

——————-

When I think about the amazing and blissful life I could have lived if only females were sexually attracted to me, my entire being burns with hatred.  They denied me a happy life, and in return I will take away all of their lives.  It is only fair.

I am not part of the human race.  Humanity as rejected me.  The females of the human species have never wanted to mate with me, so how could I possibly consider myself part of humanity?  Humanity has never accepted me among them, and now I know why.  I am more than human.  I am superior to them all.  I am Elliot Rodger… Magnificent, glorious, supreme, eminent… Divine!  I am the closest thing there is to a living god.  Humanity is a disgusting, depraved, and evil species.  It is my purpose to punish them all.  I will purify the world of everything that is wrong with it.  On the Day of Retribution, I will truly be a powerful god, punishing everyone I deem to be impure and depraved.

Epilogue

And that is how my tragic life ends.  Who would have thought my life will turn out this way?  I didn’t.  There was a time when I thought this world was a good and happy place.  As a child, my whole world was innocent.  It wasn’t until I went through puberty and started desiring girls that my whole life turned into a living hell.  I desired girls, but girls never desired me back. There is something very wrong with that.  It is an injustice that cannot go unpunished.  There is no way I could live a  happy life with such a scenario.

Not only did I have to waste my entire youth suffering in loneliness and unfulfilled desire, but I had to live with the knowledge that other boys my age were able to have all of the experiences I craved for.  It is absolutely unfair and unjust.  In addition, I had to suffer the shame of other boys respecting me less because I didn’t get any girls.  Everyone knew I was a virgin.  Everyone knew how undesirable I was to girls, and I hated everyone just for knowing it.  I want people to think that girls adore me.  I want to feel worthy.  There is no pride in living as a lonely, unwanted outcast.  I wouldn’t even call it living.

I am not meant to live such a pathetic, miserable life.  That is not my place in this world  I will not bow down and accept such a horrific fate.  If humanity will not give me a place among them, then I will destroy them all.  I am better than all of them. I am a god.  Exacting my Retribution is my way of proving my true worth to the world.

 

In the midst of my suffering, I have been able to see the world much clearer than others.  I have vision that other people lack.  Through my suffering, I have been able to see just how twisted and wrong this world really is.  The current state of humanity is what makes it wrong.  I look at the human race and I see only vileness and depravity, all because of an act known as … sexuality…

Sex is by far the most evil concept in existence.  The fact that life itself exists through sex just proves that life is flawed.  The act of sex gives human beings a tremendous amount of pleasure.  Pleasure they don’t deserve.  No one deserves to experience so much pleasure, especially since some  humans get to experience it while some are denied it.  When a man has sex with a beautiful woman, he probably feels like he is in heaven.  But the world is not supposed to be heaven.  For some humans to actually be able to feel such heights of heavenly pleasure is selfish and hedonistic.

The ultimate evil behind sexuality is the human female.  They are the main instigators of sex.  They control which men get it and which men don’t.  Women are flawed creatures, and my mistreatment at their hands has made me realize this sad truth.  There is something very twisted and wrong with the way their brains are wired.  They think like beasts, and in truth, they are beasts.  Women are incapable of having morals or thinking rationally.  They are completely controlled by their depraved emotions and vile sexual impulses.  Because of this, the men who do get to experience the pleasures of sex and the privilege of breeding are the men who women are sexually attracted to… the stupid, degenerate, obnoxious men.  I have observed this all my life.  The most beautiful of women choose to mate with the most brutal of men, instead of magnificent gentlemen like myself.

Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with.  That decision should be made for them by rational men of intelligence.  If women continue to have rights, they will only hinder the advancement of the human race by breeding with degenerate men and creating stupid, degenerate offspring.    This will cause humanity to become even more depraved with each generation.  Women have more power in human society than they deserve, all because of sex.  There is no creature more evil and depraved than the human female.

Women are like the plague.  They don’t deserve any rights.  Their wickedness must be contained in order to prevent future generations from falling to degeneracy.  Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals, and they need to be treated as such.

 

In fully realizing these truths about the world, I have created the ultimate and perfect ideology of how a fair and pure world would work.  In an ideal world, sexuality would not exist.  It must be outlawed.  In a world without sex, humanity will be pure and uncivilized.  Men will grow up healthily, without having to worry about such a barbaric act.  All men will grow up fair and equal, because no man will be able to experience the pleasures of sex while others are denied it.  The human race will evolve to an entirely new level of civilization, completely devoid of all the impurity and degeneracy that exists today.

In order to completely abolish sex, women themselves would have to be abolished.  All women must be quarantined like the plague they are, so that they can be used in a manner that actually benefits a civilized society.  In order to carry this out, there must exist a new and powerful type of government, under the control of one divine ruler, such as myself.  The ruler that establishes this new order would have complete control over every aspect of society, in order to direct it towards a good and pure place.  At the disposal of this government, there needs to be a highly trained army of fanatically loyal troops, in order to enforce such revolutionary laws.

The first strike against women will be to quarantine all of them in concentration camps.  At these camps, the vast majority of the female population will be deliberately starved to death.  That would be an efficient and fitting way to kill them all off.  I would take great pleasure and satisfaction in condemning every single woman on earth to starve to death.  I would have an enormous tower built just for myself, where I can oversee the entire concentration camp and gleefully watch them all die.  If I can’t have them, no one will, I’d imagine thinking to myself as I oversee this.  Women represent everything that is unfair with t his world, and in order to make the world a fair place, they must all be eradicated.

A few women would be spared, however, for the sake of reproduction.  These women would be kept and bred in secret labs.  There, they will be artificially inseminated with sperm samples in order to produce offspring.  Their depraved nature will slowly be bred out of them in time.

Future generations of men would be oblivious to these women’s existence, and that is for the best.  If a man grows up without knowing of the existence of women, there will be no desire for sex.  Sexuality will completely cease to exist.  Love will cease to exist.  There will no longer be any imprint of such concepts in the human psyche.  It is the only way to purify the world.

In such a pure world, the man’s mind can develop to greater heights than ever before.  Future generations will live t heir lives free of having to worry about the barbarity of sex and women, which will enable them to expand their intelligence and advance the human race to a state of perfect civilization.

It is such a shameful pity that my ideal world cannot be created.  I realized long ago that there is no way that I could possibly rise to such a level of power in my lifetime, with the way the world is now.  Such a thing will never become a reality for me, but it did give me something to fantasize about as I burned with hatred towards all women for rejecting me throughout the years.  This whole viewpoint and ideology of abolishing sex stems from being deprived of it all my life.  If I can’t have it, I will do everything I can to DESTROY IT.

My orchestration of the Day of Retribution is my attempt to do everything, in my power, to destroy everything that I cannot have.  All of those beautiful girls I’ve desired so much in my life, but can never have because they despise and loathe me, I will destroy.  All of those popular people who live hedonistic lives of pleasure, I will destroy, because they never accepted me as one of them.  I will kill them all and make them suffer, just as they have made me suffer.  It is only fair.

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