Archive for March 2009

When Did Marriage and Religion Become Separate?

March 10, 2009

One of the “Hot Community Posts” that I saw on Sunday was an article entitled “A Religious Definition of Marriage Does Not Have Rights”.  This highlights the core issue surrounding the legality of “same-sex marriage” here in California:  that there is a non-religious definition of marriage.

The author, BGH, writes:

If viewed through a sort of  ‘religious filter’, opposition to gay marriage can be understood … if pertaining to ones personal choices.

Can anyone see what BGH did there?  He assumed that there is a different filter than a “religious” one through which to view the word “marriage”. 

BGH, I’ve got news for you.  This nation was founded by very religious, born-again Christians, who rebelled to be free to practice their brand of Christianity, and allow others to do the same.  America was founded upon these religious ideals.  Especially up to that point, marriage had always been a religious ceremony, and it’s under these circumstances that marriage was written into the law. 

The supporters of gay marriage can change it now, and that’s their right as Americans to try.  However, they must know that that they are the ones changing the definition of a word just because they don’t like the current one.

BGH addresses this point:

A personal religious belief does not become the community’s belief solely because a majority follows the doctrine.

Neither does a non-religious minority belief become the community’s belief solely because they don’t like the majority belief.

Along these lines of thinking and considering America’s origins, I have a question that I honestly don’t know the answer to.  Does it make sense completely divorce a word, indeed a concept, from it’s origins?  When did this switch take place?

A Precedence Is Being Set Here

Let’s reason through this for a second.  We can all agree that the “traditional” definition of the word marriage has been between a man and a woman, right?  Sure, there have been other perversions (polygamy, political and financial gain etc) to the institution, but the “man and woman” part has always stayed the same.  Don’t get ahead of yourself, I’m not saying that the traditional definition is equal to the correct definition, I’m just calling to our remembrance the history of the human race. 

Therefore, in order for the proponents of gay marriage to call this an “equality” issue, the definition of marriage must first be changed within their minds.  Think about it for a second, it’s not bigotry to say that I can’t join the “Red Hat Society”.  The Red Hat Society is defined as older women who wear red hats.  I don’t fit that definition. 

Now, if I changed the definition of the Red Hat Society to include ALL who wear red hats; then yes, anyone who wears a red hat, and wants to be included in the Red Hat Society, should be allowed to join.  If the Red Hat Society (my re-defined version) were to exclude someone even though they were wearing a red hat, then they would be rightly accused of bigotry.

In the same way, it is not bigotry to say that a man and a man cannot be included in an institution defined as between man and a woman.  A homosexual couple just doesn’t fit the definition.  The word “bigotry” can only be used once we re-define marriage from “a man and a woman” to “a legally binding institution between two committed people“.  Once this is our definition, then surely, Christians are being bigots.  However, you have to first force this definition upon everyone in society in order for them to swallow the “equality” claim.

That’s why the precedence being set here is not one of equality, or a rejection of bigotry.  The precedence being set is one of a minority changing the definition of a word because they don’t like the current one. 

The question we should be asking ourselves is:  Are we really a society that changes definitions because a very small portion of our population disagrees with them?  Are we a society that changes definitions even if the majority disagrees with it?

This is a Battle of Worldviews

Why has society in general been able to redefine a word right under our noses?  Why are those that hold to the traditional, Biblical definition of marriage being called bigots?

Society has created it’s own worldview, based upon it’s own wisdom.  One general term that can be used to describe this is “humanism”.  Society has decided that men’s minds can decide what truth is.  This is so far removed from the Biblical worldview that the definition of marriage set down by the Bible is seen as bigotry.  This worldview distinction extends so far that society has it’s own definitions of God and religion.

BGH displays this when speaking about the prospect of gay marriage:

There is not a threat to the person’s religion, religion is a personal matter between yourself and whatever god/gods you worship.

Humans are the ones who’ve tried to confine God to a building or a our idea of Him.  God cannot be confined to any of those things, nor do His laws concede to the constructed truth in the mind of man. 

However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: 
    HEAVEN IS MY THRONE,
    AND EARTH IS THE FOOTSTOOL OF MY FEET;
    WHAT KIND OF HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD FOR ME?’ says the Lord,
     ‘OR WHAT PLACE IS THERE FOR MY REPOSE? 
    WAS IT NOT MY HAND WHICH MADE ALL THESE THINGS?’ (Acts 7:48-50)

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Apparently, Only Atheists Can Argue Theology

March 9, 2009

Awhile ago I saw a post over at Daniel Florien’s Unreasonable Faith that caught my eye.  Daniel was responding to a video of a creation vs. evolution discussion when he made a few interesting comments.

Apparently the proponent of creation admitted to having presupposed beliefs (presuppositions).  These beliefs are admittedly unscientific.  This is how Daniel summarizes his presuppositions:

(1) God exists, (2) that this God is the Christian God, (3) that this God wrote a book, and (4) that book is the Protestant Bible as we have it today.

Whatever discrepancies we can find in Daniel’s summary we’ll ignore because they are besides the point.  The point is Daniel’s reaction to these presuppositions.

Nothing big there — just everyday presuppositions that we all have. Completely rational starting points of a scientific worldview. Ugh.

I believe some explanation may be due here.  What Daniel is saying that the Christian presuppositions are not conducive to a scientific worldview, therefore they are invalid.  A scientific worldview, the worldview that Daniel holds to, is superior because it is scientific and the Christian worldview is inferior because it is not based upon science.  Would we all agree that this is Daniel’s position?

In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the Christian argument is a theological one.  That is, the Christian presuppositions are about what God would do and did do (created the world, wrote a book).  That’s what makes a belief in the Bible unscientific, because it’s about what God did, which, although it may be observable, is unrepeatable by science. 

Negative Theology

To the atheist, the fact that Christians make theological arguments at all disqualifies them from any rational discussion.  After all, the only thing that can be verified is science, right?

Unfortunately, at the end of his article, Daniel inadvertently gives the atheistic “Secrets to Denying God” away.

Just after he finishes chastising the Christian for making a theological argument, Daniel says:

I thought Peter Atkins makes a great point that if evolution is true and God exists, he chose a “particularly nasty” way of going about creating the world.

Oh the hypocrisy!  That God created the world in a “nasty” way is a theological argument as well!  It’s just a negative one.   In fact, the belief that Daniel is displaying is that “If God created the world, then He did a nasty job of it, therefore it’s unlikely that God created the world”.  That’s the definition of negative theology!

But does Daniel chastise Peter Atkins for making a theological argument just as the Christian did?  Of course not. 

Is Atkins theological argument rejected because it is unscientific, just as the Christians’ theological arguments are?  Of course not.

To science, what’s the difference between Atkin’s theological position, and the Christian one?  None except that Daniel agrees with Atkins.

It’s a perfect tactic.  It allows the atheist to make all the negative theological arguments they want, while rejecting any Christian rebuttal on the basis it is “unscientific”, denying the whole time that their original argument was unscientific theology as well.

Apparently, only atheists can make theological arguments.

A Logical Deduction Against The Resurrection

March 3, 2009

Is the belief in a resurrected human being inherently illogical? 

This was the recent claim of a commenter here at Apologia (let’s call him “Money”).  Since claiming something is illogical requires you to logically show it, I requested a logical deduction from Money.  I was actually surprised when he obliged! 

I think his response is a very common one; one that Christians must know how to respond to. 

His logical deduction for how the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is illogical is as follows:

P1: No dead humans physically rise from the dead. (This is a true premise, unless it can be shown false)
P2: Jesus was a dead human. (True premise)
::: Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. (The conclusion, which must be true when both premises are true).

Right away, red flags should be popping up in the Christian apologists’ mind, saying…

1.  ***Warning!***  Logical Fallacy Being Committed!

P1 is where Moneys’ deduction falls apart.  He is committing a informal logical fallacy called a “special pleading”.  The specific type of special pleading Money is committing is one where he is asking us to accept a premise based upon data that is impossible collect.  That is, in order for Money to know that “No dead humans physically rise from the dead”, Money would have to investigate the deaths of every human being on the face of this planet for all of history past and determine that not a single one of them rose from the dead.

Since this is impossible, P1 is invalid.

(Update:  As Neil pointed out, P1 is also committing an informal logical fallacy called “begging the question”.  If the question is about whether or not a man rose from the dead, how can one of Money’s premises be that people don’t rise from the dead?  That’s a great example of begging the question.  Thanks Neil.)

(Update #2:  A big thanks to Tim Nichols for pointing out something else that I missed.  Money doesn’t even have the Christian claim nailed down correctly.  Christians don’t claim that people rise from the dead all the time.  We claim that it was an unprecedented, earth shattering, paradigm shifting event that happened to someone who wasn’t merely human, but God incarnate.)

2.  A Conclusion Can’t Be a Premise!

P1 is a conclusion from another, unstated, logical deduction.  Since, as we said in point #1, Money’s premise (P1) can’t be known by observable means.  Therefore it must be deduced from other premises.  The deduction to prove P1 would be something like this (remember, we must limit the premises to statements we can know):

P1′:  All human beings die at some point
P2′:  I have never seen a human being come back alive
:::  Human beings don’t rise from the dead

See how even that doesn’t even work?  All I can say, rationally, is that I’ve never seen a human being rise from the dead.  It doesn’t follow then, that I can know that no human being has ever risen from the dead or that humans just don’t rise from the dead, as a rule.  The conclusion just doesn’t follow.

3.  The Onus of Proof Is on the One Making the Statement

Referring to P1, Money says,

“This is a true premise, unless it can be shown false.”

This is not how a logical premise works.  We can’t consider a premise true just because it can’t be proven false.  Another way to word Money’s statement is, “Since my premise can’t be shown to be false, therefore it is true.”  That would be like saying, “The existence of a one eyed, pink unicorn can’t be proven false, therefore one exists.”  It just doesn’t follow.

An Anti-Supernatural Bias

Money then switches gears and begins to attack the logic behind a belief in the Resurrection.

Money says:

With trying to prove that Jesus was Resurrected, you have to prove, logically, the  supernatural events can occur within the laws of nature.

Says who?  Who says that Christ’s Resurrection must happen in the bounds of nature?  Money has decided, without reason, that the supernatural must happen within the bounds of nature.  Money has decided what God can and cannot do.  Money is making a theological argument here, one that he has no support for. 

Money then makes another unscientific, theological assertion (regarding the above statement):

…which is a logical contradiction since that which is observed in the natural world is/must be natural, and therefore not supernatural.

Do you see what he just did?  It’s a perfect argument.  Money is saying that the only phenomena that can happen are natural phenomena, therefore the supernatural doesn’t happen.  Another unscientific, theological argument.  Surely a scientific experiment, or a logical deduction, didn’t tell Money that ONLY natural phenomena take place.  Since it’s not from science or logic, how can Money know such a thing? 

Money goes on:

You need to logically show how that Jesus was capable of such a feat. It isn’t logical because it is bound contradictions and unverified truth claims.

Well that, Money, I can do.  Even if you take the Bible as a mere story, Jesus is God Himself in that story.  Is not God capable of raising the dead?

The ironic part is that Money claims the Resurrection must be subject to “verified truth claims” in order be believed.  The hypocrisy of this statement is two fold:

1.  The Gospel accounts, Acts, and a few of the Pauline Epistles are the account of verifiable, undisputed eyewitnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Why doesn’t he believe their eyewitness testimony?

2.  Every statement Money has made so far is an unverified truth claim.  “Dead people absolutely don’t rise from the dead,” and “only natural phenomena happen” are my two favorites.  It’s the pot calling the kettle “black”.

Excluding something at the outset without reason, as Money has done with the supernatural, betrays a bias that renders the discussion pointless until the bias is removed.

When Life Begins; Scientifically Speaking

March 2, 2009

I ran across a great article on the scientific evidence for the beginning of life.  Keeping these things in mind might help us stop deluding ourselves that abortion isn’t killing a human being.

In 1997, Faye Wattleton, the president of Planned Parenthood said:

“I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don’t know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus.”

In his book A Defense Against Abortion, David Noonin admitted:

“In the top drawer of my desk, I keep [a picture of my son]. This picture was taken on September 7, 1993, 24 weeks before he was born. The sonogram image is murky, but it reveals clear enough a small head tilted back slightly, and an arm raised up and bent, with the hand pointing back toward the face and the thumb extended out toward the mouth. There is no doubt in my mind that this picture, too, shows [my son] at a very early stage in his physical development. And there is no question that the position I defend in this book entails that it would have been morally permissible to end his life at this point.”

Don’t you see?  Even among abortion supporters, their argument isn’t that abortion is not killing therefore it’s morally defensible, their argument is that abortion is the killing of a distinct human being but it’s morally defensible anyway.

Their admittance that abortion is killing is supported by the biological consensus on when life begins. 

Speaking of the zygote, Keith Moore says:

“This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”

and . . .

“A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).”

Ronan O’Rahilly says:

“Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a ‘moment’) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.”

Clark Edwards Corliss says:

“It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitues the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual.”

J.P Greenhill and E.A. Friedman wrote:

“The term conception refers to the union of the male and female pronuclear elements of procreation from which a new living being develops.”

“The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.”

E.L Potter and J.M Craig proclaimed:

“Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition.”

In 2005, National Geographic explained:

“The two cells gradually and gracefully become one. This is the moment of conception, when an individual’s unique set of DNA is created, a human signature that never existed before and will never be repeated.”

A Scientific Consensus

I could go on with the quotes for a bit longer, but I think you get the idea.  That a distinct, never to be repeated, human life begins at conception is a biological, scientific consensus.  Regardless of the arguments after this point, isn’t abortion still killing?  No matter what you say?

And, if abortion is the planned killing of a distinct human life, is that not the legal definition of murder?  Don’t get crazy, I’m just asking a question.

So can we now, at the very least, stop deluding ourselves about what abortion is?  Can we at least start the argument at the scientific consensus?