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Atheism in Review

by on September 11th, 2014

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I have had the opportunity to get to know Dr. William Lane Craig and worked on research for one of his debates some years ago. He is a clear thinker and sound debater. The above 10 minute clip of his debate with the Christopher Hitchens is a case in point. In fact, CommonSenseAtheism.com wrote that, “Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child.” Craig is correct in pointing out that atheists cannot simply deny that God exists but are also required to make a positive case for their position. Our task is to understand their claims and question their conclusions as well as making a positive case for our beliefs.

Two recent contributions to the ongoing debate are the book by Norman L. Geisler and Daniel J. McCoy, The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw:Exposing Conflicting Beliefs and the film God’s Not Dead

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But We’re Moderates!

by on September 4th, 2014

There’s a poem that goes . . .

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The poem is attributed to Nazi-era German pastor Martin Niemoller. Niemoller admits that when the Third Reich began its campaign of systematic incarceration of those not . . . well Nazi, that the church was complacent:

When the concentration camp was opened we wrote the year 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers. Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians – “should I be my brother’s keeper?” Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. – I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it’s right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? — Only then did the church as such take note. Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. Can we say, we aren’t guilty/responsible? The persecution of the Jews, the way we treated the occupied countries, or the things in Greece, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia or in Holland, that were written in the newspapers I believe, we Confessing-Church-Christians have every reason to say: mea culpa, mea culpa! We can talk ourselves out of it with the excuse that it would have cost me my head if I had spoken out.

Now in what follows I don’t want to be accused of playing the “Hitler Card.”

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A King Who Knew Not Joseph

by on August 28th, 2014

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“I miss my country.” That is a line I have heard time and again lately and have even said it myself. There is a certain amount of nostalgia that is sort of made up or embellished on as one reflects back on the past. Often when we talk of “the good old days” it is referencing a slower more innocent time, at least that is how it exists in our recollection. I have some of that myself. When I was a youth we still had the Blue Laws. Stores weren’t open, could buy cars because the lots were closed. Families had dinners together and that was whether the family was religious or not. Even though the nation had largely abandoned Christianity on a national level there was still a Judeo/Christian moral and worldview which guided and informed how we ought to live. Even if we didn’t live the moral code we at least knew what it was and when to feel guilty for violating it. The 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and continuing to today, the nation’s universities and leaders have been peeling away the Judeo/Christian worldview. They have done this without impunity in education, sometimes through legislation, sometimes through court cases often through liberal media but step by step a systematic removal of the bedrock of what has strengthened and guided this once great nation.

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Ferguson, Factual Leaps & Fanciful Conclusions

by on August 21st, 2014

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Watching Lou Costello abandon definition and context in his math equations is a bit fun I have to admit. Those of us who laugh at the joke do so because we know the truth. But what if you lived in a time or culture that had become bereft of sound logical thinking and made decisions based primarily on emotion? A few factual leaps to fanciful conclusions and this sort of math might make perfect sense in that sort of world. In many respects, that is the world we live in both in culture and sadly in not too few churches. As Rod Serling might say in the beginning of an episode of The Twilight Zone “Enter the small town of Ferguson, MO…”

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Why is Sex is the Canary in the Coal Mine?

by on August 14th, 2014

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If you are not familiar, dear reader, the term “Canary in a coal mine” is an expression rooted in history. Coal miners would bring a canary down into the coal mine to detect dangerous levels of carbon monoxide or methane. The deadly gases would kill the canary before it would kill the miners, giving the humans time to retreat. Modern coal miners don’t use canaries much anymore. These days, to be a canary in a coal mine is to serve as a detector of something dangerous that is often unseen until it has done its damage. It is often an overused metaphor in the ongoing circus that is financial forecasting:

“I tend to look at financial markets as being the canary in the coal mine,” Fed Governor Frederic Mishkin said in a discussion about inflation, adding that “the canary has not keeled over.” “I don’t think the canary is wheezing,” New York Fed President Timothy Geithner chipped in. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had the final word: “I think the canary is still getting decent breath here.”

So what do I mean by “Sex is the canary in the coal mine”? I mean that if you want an indicator, a detector, of traditional Christianity in a post-modern culture, then sex is the canary in the coal mine. I don’t suggest that traditional Christianity is noxious but I sure do intend to make the connection that its dangerous. Traditional Christianity is as dangerous as a young man in Roman occupied Palestine talking about the coming of the kingdom of God and the end of the powers that be. As dangerous as saying “Jesus is Lord” with the unmistakable implication, “Caesar is not.”

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Bill Gothard and the Continuing Sex Scandal

by on August 7th, 2014

Bill's CabinWhen we first wrote our book, A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life we chose to not spend much time on Bill’s behavior with staff secretaries. There were several reasons for this. First, we were and continue to be convinced that Bill and Steve’s behavior came from Bill’s bad hermeneutics . As I reviewed the transcript of a conference call this week between Dr. Earl Radmacher, Gary Smalley, Ruth and Larne Gabriel and others I realized that Dr. Radmacher expressed the same view in the 1983 conference call. Also, as I pointed out in Bill Gothard: Who knew what and when? A question of accountability that “We knew Ruth’s story but were asked to not make it public.” That request had been made by her husband, Larne Gabriel and we honored it until he decided to weigh in publicly. Even then we didn’t make any public statements that he did not see and approve of. The reasons are simple. Could we make our case without resorting to drawing on more lascivious stories to gain attention? We believed we could. Second, and perhaps more important, the women in question and these decades later their children, would be subjected to public scrutiny and probable attacks and further abuse by Bill Gothard.

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Faith – Happily Tossing Logic Out the Window

by on July 31st, 2014

I picked up a quote from author Stephen King a few years back. I don’t recall where I got it but thought it was interesting:

“The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance…logic can be happily tossed out the window.”

A recent Huffington Post article, Children Exposed To Religion Have Difficulty Distinguishing Fact From Fiction, Study Finds seems to be an attempt to make a case that once religion is introduced to children they cannot distinguish between reality, fairy tales and religious claims.

In both studies, [children exposed to religion] were less likely to judge the characters in the fantastical stories as pretend, and in line with this equivocation, they made more appeals to reality and fewer appeals to impossibility than did secular children,” the study concluded.

On the surface this would seem to validate King’s claim. Atheist Richard Dawkin’s goes a bit further

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