But I find it amusing to ask Veinot where he thinks his morality comes from. Did God speak to him? If so, when? (And was Veinot murdering, raping and killing before his god spoke to him, and then he suddenly changed?) Was that the same god who spoke to Son of Sam? bin Laden? the Pope? George Bush? Or, if Veinot’s god did NOT speak to him then did Veinot get his moral code from the Bible? (And was Veinot murdering, raping and killing before he read the Bible, and then he suddenly changed?) And if his moral code comes from the Bible, then of course, we’re into all the genocide, and killing of homosexuals etc. And by the way, why the Bible? What authority figure told him the Bible was the correct moral guide? And how does Veinot know that the authority figure was correct? Did Veinot employ some independent verifying entity to confirm that choice? But if the Bible is not the source of Veinot’s moral position, what is? (Maybe it’s Darwin after all!)
In this final installment this group of questions hang together in a general category of the basis of morality. Rather than simply asserting my personal opinion I thought it might be interesting to look at it from the perspective of the founding of this nation and how this question informed the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, etc. Mark Levin, who is not a Christian and to my knowledge has not professed a particular specific belief in God, points out in his excellent book Liberty and Tyranny:
The Declaration of Independence appeals to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” (p. 26)
For the Founding Fathers the question of morals (how we ought to behave) was very closely linked to our rights. The Founding Fathers viewed our rights as “unalienable.” They did so predicated on the belief that our rights are given to us by God not other human beings. The Founding Fathers were of a variety of denominations as well as at least two deists (Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin). But could it be that they were wrong and man simply makes them up. Levin again responds: Continue reading …
Last week we looked at a few of the objections which were sent to Harry, a friend of the ministry. How much time should we spend on such an individual? That would seem to depend on whether they are serious about discovering truth or not. Those who seem to specialize in attacking the faith without any real desire to seek whether it is actually true or not often simply make assertions without actually providing evidence for their assertions. In other words, no evidence or documentation. The truth of a claim is more easily ascertained if we provide documentation to substantiate what we have asserted. For example on the question the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, and her belief and promotion of eugenics, Harry’s email acquaintance claims:
But it is clear that Veinot knows little about Margaret Sanger, who was resolutely opposed to Hitler and the Nazi programs, and said so publicly (which is more than what Veinot has done regarding fundamentalist Bush’s killing in Iraq). It’s interesting to see Veinot improperly imputing the most base motives to Sanger’s advocacy of birth control, thus perverting her larger view of women’s rights in this area.
I am not sure what the writer means by “most base motives” but Sanger was committed to Social Darwinism and cleansing of the inferior races and other less evolved humans through eugenics. Abortion being a key method of weeding out and breeding out those less desirable in the “human garden.” Was she in agreement with or opposed to Hitler and the Nazi programs? The answer is yes to both at different times. Social Darwinism was very prevalent among “progressives” at this time in history. In Germany Hitler achieved the political clout to officially implement eugenics to perfect the race. Sanger held the same fundamental views on Social Darwinism. Michael Flaherty, in his review of Ellen Chesler’s book, Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America, notes:
What the book leaves out is Margaret Sanger’s interest in eugenics. Miss Chesler fails to mention many of the most haunting phrases in Mrs. Sanger’s landmark book, The Pivot of Civilization. Perhaps her most popular work, it addressed what she saw as troubling demographic trends, notably the growing number of “nonAryan people” in the United States, who constituted “a great biological menace to the future of civilization.”A mix of racism and class snobbery, the book admonishes readers to beware of “inferior races,” whose members “deserve to be treated like criminals,” and urges the “segregat[ion of] morons who are increasing and multiplying.” Miss Chesler ignores most of this, though she quotes some of Mrs. Sanger’s more sanitized utterances, such as “More from the fit, less from the unfit–that is the chief aim of birth control.”
My friend Jhan Moskowitz, North American Director of Jews for Jesus, often says that only real questions deserve real answers. As he points out, belief is an act of the will not a function of information. People choose to believe, they are not argued in to the faith. This does not preclude evidence and reason, the stuff of apologetics, but apologetics (defense of the faith) is pre-evangelism. It is in order to inform belief however, in the end each individual must choose to act on that evidence and reason and believe. Last week I used an email to Harry, a friend of mine, from an antagonist of the faith and responded to it in the blog. It was a great launching point to respond to general objections to the Christian faith. Although Harry has suggested several times to the author that they contact me directly they have opted not to do so but instead continue to email Harry. That’s fine and is good experience for Harry. My observations to Harry were that the individual does not appear to have any real interest in debating the issues, making a case for their position or demonstrating their assertions about individuals they have never met, read or dialogued with. In fact, I suspected their primary motive was to take pot shots at the faith through misrepresentation and caricature. Oddly enough they subsequently wrote to Harry and started off with:
As I’m sure you can tell by now, I love blasphemy. The more sacred the cow, the more I love to search for the vilest, most repugnant way of characterizing it.
Sometimes the dilemma we face is one of how much time, if any, to devote to this sort of endeavor with individuals who appear to be militantly resistant. By their own admission this individual is not even attempting to object with real questions but is intent on finding the “the vilest, most repugnant way of characterizing” the faith. On the other hand, some individuals have what they believe are legitimate objections to the claims of Christianity. For example, atheist Antony Flew was an atheist who advocated that we should presuppose atheism until evidence for the existence of God could be put forth. He debated Evangelical Christian scholar Gary Habermas on a number of issues but particularly the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Antony Flew had legitimate questions and deserved real answers. Antony Flew and Gary Habermas were both more interested in discovering truth than militantly holding on to a position in spite of evidence. The result was Continue reading …
A good friend of mine who is also a missionary to cults and New Religious Movements once observed that “in this type of ministry conflict is not a possibility it a job description.” He is correct. When we question someone’s worldview and/or beliefs and assumptions they can get very angry and sometimes abusive. At least verbally abusive. Sort of our inside joke on this is that Jehovah’s Witnesses have called Joy the “Whore of Babylon” so often we just call her floozy for short. Somehow name calling and wild accusations are used to replace valid argument and evidence in many of these exchanges. I have another friend, Harry, who spends some time talking with non-Christians over the Internet. If he doesn’t have answers he looks for material on our website Journals and Crux Blog as well as other ministry’s materials to forward to the lists. On occasion he forwards some of them to me to see how to respond. He sent one such email this week: Continue reading …
It was the high noon of the Middle Ages, the 11th century (ad 1001 to 1100). Although closer to completion than ever, the project of establishing a “Christian Europe” was still a work in progress.
Like it or not, the middle 1,000 years or so of church history—from about 500 to 1500, the period we call the Middle Ages, or medieval period—are inextricably bound to the history of Europe. Up until then, Christianity was a thoroughly multi-continental movement, primarily because most Christians lived in the Roman Empire, which extended into Europe, Africa, and Asia. We know that the Gospel penetrated beyond the reach of Rome’s iron grip, since the book of Acts records the evangelism of people from what is now Iran (Acts 2:9) and Ethiopia (Acts 8:26-40), and that Nestorian Christians (who objected to Mary being called Θεοτόκος [theotokos], i.e., “God-Bearer,” or “Mother of God”) reached China in ad 635, and in one sense or another it would always continue to transcend its Mediterranean beginnings. But after the fall of Rome it was primarily in Europe that God chose to preserve His word and protect His people during a time when everything that “civilized” people had been depending upon to make sense of the world fell apart, and there was nothing to fall back on but God—or, as some less pious might prefer, God and a good sword.
Today people speak of “post-Christian Europe,” and we tend to think of “Christian Europe” as extending from the time of Constantine to perhaps the beginning of the 20th century. But for centuries after Constantine, a large portion of the continent remained pre-Christian, until it finally gave way to the tireless work of missionaries. Continue reading …