Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dr. James Dobson, Abortion and the Sandy Hook Massacre

Dr. James Dobson speaks on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, especially vulnerable, defenseless unborn babies.  That's what all disciples of Jesus are called to do.  Yes, they are just as valuable as the precious children who were killed at Sandy Hook.  No life is any more valuable or any less valuable than any other.  It's evil when some are not attributed dignity and worth by narcissistic fools, and nihilism results.  Each life begins at conception.

Your thinking, Fred, is convoluted if you think Dr. Dobson said that the defenseless young children gunned down in their elementary school were ruthlessly slaughtered due to God's judgment on our wayward country!  That is most definitely not what he meant.  We cannot continue to live in outright rebellion to God, and His precepts, and expect to continually be blessed by Him as a nation.  That is what Dr. Dobson was saying.  There are natural laws that govern this world, and we are reaping the consequences of rejecting Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords.  We are reaping the expected consequences of not surrendering our allegiance to Him as Master and Saviour.  You are knowingly misleading your readers, and they are relishing every false nugget.  You are well aware that they want more reason to hate on Dr. Dobson, and you seem to delight in providing them with hateful, intolerant, judgmental, false information.  As a Christian, how do you feel free to slam such a righteous man as Dr. Dobson?  Where's your brotherly love?  How can you say that the Newtown massacre was any more horrific than is our unrelenting American holocaust of abortion that has killed over 54 million humans?  Granted, there are differences between the two atrocities.  The massacre took place in a public setting for our entire nation to be made aware of, not tucked covertly away, like abortion, under cover of darkness, in an abortion mill.   Had this diabolical deed gone unreported to the general public, just like abortion is, we would not all be outraged, for we would not know about it, just like we are not made aware of the evil daily perpetration of the violent slaughtering of unborn humans.  Reporting opposed to lack of reporting is pertinent to understanding how these two situations differ.  Pathetically, the ruthless slaughtering of the unborn is not something that is reported much at all.  If it is reported, it is done so in a manipulative way so as to brainwash people.  This brainwashing has been going on for decades now, and unthinking, uncaring, immature individuals who irresponsibly care more about their right to "free love" than they do about the lives of the most defenseless among us, have allowed themselves to be bamboozled by such poison.  Those lies that are perpetrated upon the American people that not all life is valuable are what's rotting our hearts, minds and souls, Fred.  That evil MUST stop!  The massacre was seen as wrong by all, while abortion is viewed as right according to law.  Just because something is legal does not make it right.  The families of the 20 children, whose lives were snuffed out last Friday, were blessed with time to get to know them.  TIME.  The families of aborted babies are not afforded the gift of time in the presence of their children.  TIME spent together is a main difference between the deaths of babies and the deaths of older children.  They are all wanted by someone!  The main difference, of course, is that the 20 children who died too soon had worth attributed to their lives.  Babies in the womb do not, according to the heinous law of our faltering nation.  How diabolical for those bent on spreading the poison of abortion to cause naive females to believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to have their own babies killed in their safe havens.  That is the epitome of evil.  The deep sadness that will inevitably come due to the killing of one's own flesh and blood is one that will never go away, just like the sadness that will never leave the families egregiously wounded at Sandy Hook.  Unborn babies, whether allowed the dignity of their right to life, or violently killed in what's meant to be their safest haven of nurturing on earth, are actual babies, actual children.  For a mother to do something so against nature as to have her own child ripped from her womb is the most unnatural of acts.   

My daughter's baby girl was born still at full term.  The morning she delivered her much-anticipated, much-loved daughter, we were on our merry way rejoicing to the birthing center, hearts full of delight about a new member joining our family.  Within minutes of our arrival, it was discovered that Lily's tiny heart that had been beating strongly and steadily for 40 weeks was beating no more.  With that devastating news, it was if the life was sucked out of us as well.  How could our hearts go on beating without her?  How could the sun go on shining without her?  How could the wind go on blowing without her?  It was even difficult to breathe.  We will never have, with our Lily, the blessing of time, like the families at Sandy Hook experienced with their children.  We didn't get to hear her cry after delivery.  We never gazed into Lily's blue eyes.  We never heard her talk or laugh, or watch while she took her first steps.  My daughter was not afforded the beautiful gift of breast-feeding her baby girl.  We never felt her hugs or her kisses.  We never got to celebrate even one birthday with our little flower.  Along with the Sandy Hook families, we won't get to celebrate Christmas with our missing child.  Just like them, we will not see Lily graduate, or marry or have children of her own.  Like them, we have been forced to live with shattered dreams, and we will never forget the hopes we had for her.  Lily's brief life was just as significant as each of the lives of the 20 children who were murdered at Sandy Hook.  We will never stop missing her.  Children are not supposed to die before their parents or grandparents.  Death is such an unnatural robber, and it is difficult at any stage, any age, for any reason, anywhere in the world.    

Dr. James Dobson cares deeply about children just as much as anyone else in this world, and more than many.  He is not pretending anything.  He is a genuine servant of Jesus.   There is no pro-life rhetoric.  It is truth.  It is factual.  It is simple.  Life does begin at conception.  Period.  There is no distinction made between a new person just conceived or a six year old or a ninety-nine year old.  Every single life has the exact same value in God's sight, for it is He that creates every life, and that is what counts!  Every abortion that ends a sacred life developing in the womb does sadden me just as much as each of the lives ended on Friday.  I am not pretending.  Abortion is evil too.  It sends the message that human life is not sacred at any stage of development.  After all, we are just animals fighting for survival, right?  Tragically, the legalization of abortion was born out of the teaching of atheistic evolution.  The unfathomable repercussions of that egregious lie are many and far flung, like feathers in the wind.  Common sense is no longer common.  I am willing to stand with Dr. Dobson, for why should he take all of the heat?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Exemplary Robbie Parker's Interview

Jesus' strength and grace shine though this devastated father's exceedingly wounded heart!  To God be the glory for forgiveness and love!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Tyranny of 'Reproductive Justice'

The Tyranny of 'Reproductive Justice'

All Things Examined

sandra-flukeEver since Sandra Fluke made a splash at the congressional hearings on the Affordable Care Act, we’ve been hearing a lot about “reproductive justice.” Not so surprising, perhaps, given that Fluke is a past president of the Georgetown chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice.

But what is “reproductive justice”?

It strikes me as a rather strange pairing of words, for what does justice have to do with a basic biological function? And if reproductive justice exists, why not respirative, digestive, or cardio-vascular justice? If you find yourself similarly puzzled, SisterSonga self-described “women of color” advocacy group, explains,
“Reproductive justice [is] the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments . . . based on the human right to make personal decisions about one’s life.”
And where is the right to have children, or not, a problem, outside of China with its “one-child” policy? Certainly not in the United States, where a 40 percent birth rate to unwed mothers is evidence that neither marital status, church teaching, nor social stigma is a barrier to those “personal decisions about one’s life.”
What’s more, with over 1 million abortions per year, even a woman who is carrying a child doesn’t have to bear it if she doesn’t want to—and that includes pregnant minors who can so decide, free from parental permission or notification.
Considering the recently passed legislation in New York City to restrict the sale of sugary drinks, maybe a bigger threat is to “dietary justice”—that is, “the right to drink, not to drink, and to enjoy the beverages of our choice.”
What about . . .
Conspicuously absent from the Cause is any mention of the other essential party in reproduction: men. For instance, SisterSong goes on to say that “the obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one’s decisions is important for women of color.” (Emphasis added). But not for men, or at least men of color?
What about the injustice to the man who has no legal recourse to oppose his girlfriend’s or wife’s decision to abort his child? What about the gender bias in a court system that awards child custody preferentially to mothers, even in cases where real differences in parental fitness and ability are documented? What about a health care law that requires women’s, but not men’s, contraception services to be provided for free?
True justice requires that if one party in the reproduction process is owed duty, so is the other. Applying “reproductive justice” exclusively to the “rights” of women is like applying criminal justice only to the rights of plaintiffs and not defendants, or vice versa.
Then there’s that “obligation of government and society” part. What about personal obligation? You know, the responsibility of individuals to control their passions and behaviors for their good and that of society, with particular concern in this case for those born, those waiting to be born, and those who could be born. Again, the Cause is silent.
What it is not silent about is the desire for sexual expression unencumbered by personal consequences and cost.
Consequence-free sex
In Sandra Fluke’s congressional testimony, she defended the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, a requirement under the ACA that unburdens women from the financial costs of consequence-free (via contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization) sex at their employers’ expense, despite any religious objections their employers might have.
Emerging from the hearing as the fresh, new face of the lifestyle left, Fluke so charmed the Democratic National Committee that she was awarded a prime-time speaking slot at their convention, where she extended her 15 minutes of fame for a few minutes more.
But the goal of the Cause goes beyond liberating women from the costs and consequences of their “personal decisions about life”; it aims to free them from shame of those decisions as well.
For instance, A Is For is a reproductive justice movement “challenging the traditional meaning of the scarlet letter by encouraging women, and the men who support them, to wear the A proudly.” (Men, it will be noted, are referenced only in the context of supporting the decisions of the women in their lives.) Their inspiration comes from “Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fictional heroine . . . Hester Prynne,” a woman who, as they put it, was “branded by her fellows for daring to live a life according to her own conscience.”
So, a married woman who commits adultery and has another man’s child is not immoral, impious, or even imprudent; she's heroic for following her own moral lights. That takes calling good evil and evil good to a whole new level.
A Is For parallels the tasteless “I had an abortion” T-shirt drive started by Jennifer Baumgardner, promoted by Planned Parenthood, and currently causing quite a stir at one college campus.
According to Glora Feldt of PP, the purpose of the T-shirt is “to challenge the silence and shame” surrounding abortion. I’m sure the effect that shame has on the balance sheet of the nation’s top abortion provider is of no concern to Ms. Feldt.
That shame, Baumgardner tells us, is that:
“We’re called ‘sluts’ and ‘prostitutes.’” [I’m with you here, Jennifer—name-calling, and those who do it, are wrong.]
“We’re told to ‘put an aspirin’ between our legs.” [Well, if you’re unmarried or not ready for children or other “consequences,” it’s a surefire method—in fact, the surest.]
“We’re made to believe that it’s our ignorance, and not our experience, that drives our desire for autonomy and freedom from forced procreation.” [Now, just who is it that’s forcing you to procreate? I’m ready to take names.]
“We’re lectured that we shouldn’t have had sex in the first place, as if sex were not a natural aspect of our humanity that we have every right to express.” [You’re right, sex is a natural part of our humanness—but more than that, it is essential, not because it serves to satisfy our sensual desires, but because without it, the human race would quickly join the ranks of endangered species.]
“We’re told we must face the ‘consequences’ of our sexual actions, as if we weren’t already painfully aware of the consequences of life without contraception, having lived, and died, without it for centuries.” [You want freedom from personal consequences, not by restricting your sexual behaviors, but by “protections” paid for by others. Got it.]
In lockstep with Baumgardner, A Is For urges followers to proudly wear the A against the “aggressive legislative assault” on women’s health and freedom by, among other things, “personhood bills.” Granted, legislation aimed at protecting the unborn is an inconvenience to a woman seeking total sexual freedom, but an “assault” on her health? Really?
If you’ve been wondering what the A stands for? “The A is for Autonomy. It’s for Allegiance. It’s for Action” or whatever strikes your fancy. A is for . . . you fill in the blank.
A few words that occur to me are “arrogant,” “autocratic,” “appalling,” and “abominable.” Too harsh? I don’t think so.
When others are forced to pay for protecting me against consequences I find undesirable for behaviors I’ve willingly chosen, it’s robbery.
When my “right” to free sexual expression overrides someone else’s right to free religious exercise, it’s religious oppression.
When a mother’s autonomy over her body trumps the right to life of the child in her body, it’s pedicide.
And when such things are done in the name of “justice,” it is not justice at all, but tyranny.

Image copyright CNN.
Regis Nicoll is a freelance writer and a BreakPoint Centurion. Serving as a men’s ministry leader and worldview teacher in his community, Regis publishes a free weekly commentary to stimulate thought on current issues from a Christian perspective. To be placed on this free e-mail distribution list, e-mail him at

Friday, November 23, 2012

Forgetting the Holy; The Feast of the Intransitive Verb

The Washington Times
Forgetting the holy; The Feast of the Intransitive Verb
Published Thursday, November 25, 1999.
By Kevin "Seamus" Hasson
Every fourth Thursday in November work and school are canceled so that families can gather together for the day and thank - well, we'll get to just who it is they may be thanking in a minute. They also enjoy good food, good company and good football. The holiday is currently called Thanksgiving, although there is reason to think that may have to change.
Just about every other religious holiday has been stripped of its original meaning and transformed into a more secular version of its former self. Why should Thanksgiving be any different? In Pittsburgh, Christmas and Hanukkah morphed into "Sparkle Season" and then disintegrated further into "Downtown Pittsburgh Sparkles." Public school systems across the country are renaming the Easter Bunny the "Special Bunny." Even Halloween is being transformed out of concern for its rampant religiosity. In many places it is now the "Fall Festival Celebration." Surely Thanksgiving, a state-sanctioned holiday that purports to give the nation a day to thank God, cannot withstand the small, furious army of radical secularists determined to take the "holy" out of our holidays. A day set aside to thank God can hardly be appropriate when the celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah and even Halloween has become taboo. Something will have to be done.
So I have a modest proposal: Let's practice truth-in-labeling and call the November holiday that was formerly Thanksgiving, "The Feast of the Intransitive Verb." Intransitive verbs, as we all remember from those unpleasant days of diagramming sentences in grammar school, are verbs that do not require an object. Verbs in sentences like "The horse ran" and "The wind blows" are intransitive because the horse doesn't have to run anything or the wind blow anything. They can simply run and blow without any object at all. Well, what about the verb "to thank"? It's supposed to have an object. You can't just sit there and "thank." You have to thank someone. Which is why secularists don't use that word much in late November anymore. Their creed requires them to celebrate the day by being grateful while thanking no one. And it's embarrassing to have to choose between being politically and grammatically correct. So secularists prefer the circumlocution "to give thanks." It doesn't require an object. You can get away with "giving thanks" without having to be grateful to anyone in particular. It's much more comfortable that way. Thank whomever you want. Or, don't thank anyone; it's entirely up to you. Either way you can still "give thanks." That's the beauty of using an intransitive verb; it doesn't need any object.
Of course, once the object of our gratitude is out of the way it's all downhill. The rest of the day is uncommonly easy to secularize. It has none of the outward trappings of a religious holiday. There are no babes in mangers or symbolic candles to remove from courthouse steps. No one is ringing church bells that require silencing or allowing children to hunt for eggs that must be renamed. The staples of Thanksgiving - turkeys, cornucopias and pumpkin pies - in and of themselves present no real threat to the secularist ascendancy. And the football games are an absolute godsend (so to speak) for secularists. After all, the more distracted we all are the easier it is to forget about the one to whom we owe gratitude.
So let's hear it for the Feast of the Intransitive Verb. It's a worthy companion to "Sparkle Season" (formerly known as Christmas), "Special Person Day" (previously St. Valentine's Day), and the "Spring Festival," which was once Easter. Of course, if all this isn't agreeable to you, if it all seems just a little bit extreme, or even if you're just worried that turkey and cranberries may never taste the same again, you could always
be a thumb in the eye of the radical secularists. You could insist on thanking God, and not settle for
generically "giving thanks." You could tell your neighbors that you're grateful to God for all He's done for
you. You could even go so far as to tell your children to do the same - to make sure that amidst all the
construction paper turkeys they fashion in school they get the message across that they, too, are thanking
Defending the public integrity of our holidays is not just petulance. Cultures are built, and eroded, by a
succession of public acts both great and small. Everything from the arts we exhibit to the table manners we
display makes a difference in building up or wearing down our culture. Public holiday celebrations are
particularly potent engines of culture - which is why the secularists have poured so much energy into
changing ours. Pittsburgh's "sparkle season," for example, has done great damage, not only to Christmas in
Pennsylvania, but to our culture nationally. But the fight is far from over. So this weekend enlist in the
culture war and thank God.
Kevin J. “Seamus” Hasson is the president emeritus of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Where, Oh Where has America Gone?

Ben Stein's confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don't think they are s
lighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crib, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her: “How could God let something like this happen?” (regarding Hurricane Katrina). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said: “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said okay.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it.... no one will know you did. But if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Time to Consider Separation, Divorce by Joseph Farah

Divorce is an ugly word.
For devout Christians and Jews, it’s a particularly unthinkable term.

The Bible strictly discourages it, even forbids it, except in the most exceptional circumstances.
But for Americans faithful to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the heritage of sacrifice and liberty that set apart this country from the rest of the world, it’s time to consider separation and divorce from those who have committed adultery.
The election of 2012 provides more stark evidence that we are not really one country, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We are already two peoples – those of us still loyal and faithful to the God-inspired founding American principles and those who have gone awhoring after the idols of government coercion and doing what’s right in their own eyes.
In short, as I have written before, America is flirting with profound judgment. If those of us who disapprove of the same-sex marriage, abortion, tyranny, collectivism, the coerced subversion of religious freedom and forced taxpayer support for the spreading of ungodly, unbiblical values and laws want to avoid that coming judgment, it’s time to separate ourselves wholly from participation.
I don’t pretend to know exactly how this works.
America is a big country that is thoroughly permeated with this treasonous, immoral, adulterous lifestyle.
But I am convinced we’ve got to begin forming new communities of the faithful and declare our separation and independence once again, just as our courageous founders did 236 years ago. Like them, we need to be prepared to defend ourselves, our families, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
Barring a miracle, I don’t believe reconciliation with those who have gone awhoring is a possibility. I’m sorry, I just don’t have much in common with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and George Soros and Bruce Springsteen (even though we are both from New Jersey) and George Clooney and these other looneys.
Barack Obama was right about one thing: Whatever it once was, America is no longer a Christian nation. Our cultural institutions have been taken over by worshippers of other gods. Government at nearly every level has embraced a worldview that denies God. And now it’s clear that more than half the population has turned its back on God and His Commandments.
In another time, we would call what I am talking about “secession.” But secession can only work when there is enough common ground among people in geographic regions or states. That does not seem to be the case today. The division we see is a division largely between city dwellers and those who live in suburban and rural areas of the country.
We have little in common except that those who live in the cities believe they have a right to dictate to those of us who do not. They believe they have the right to exploit us, take our property for their own use and tell us how to live.
This is very much like the situation our founders faced – except our oppressors don’t live on another continent, they live amongst us.
Nevertheless, we’ve got to figure out ways to insulate ourselves from what they are bringing down on all of us. We need to be prepared for the economic calamity they are causing. We need to be prepared for the spiritual judgment they are bringing down on all of us. We need to be prepared for the repression they will inflict on us. And we need to be prepared to rebuild what they are destroying.
I don’t have all the answers. I’m just a journalist and a businessman and a follower of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
But it’s past time to begin talking about how this separation takes place. It’s past time to begin talking about how this divorce takes place. It’s past time to begin talking about how we deal with the increasing judgment that is taking place right now.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Doubt will lead to one of two inevitable consequences. Faithful doubt leads to a deeper embrace of the truth, with doubt serving to point us into a deeper knowledge, trust, and understanding of the truth. Pernicious doubt leads to unfaithfulness, unbelief, skepticism, cynicism, and despair. Christians who are struggling with doubt, need to seek help from the faithful, not the faithless.  ~Dr. Albert Mohler

The British nineteenth-century poet Lord Tennyson made this point rather nicely in his poem The Ancient Sage:
For nothing worthy proving can be proven,
Nor yet disproven; wherefore thou be wise,
Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt.

"Doubt is turning your back on the Word of God and listening to satan instead."  ~Eric Ludy

Doubt and the Vain Search for Certainty

Posted on June 22, 2006 by Alister E . McGrath
Taken from Doubting by Alister McGrath, a forthcoming title from InterVarsity Press. Copyright (c) 2006 by Alister McGrath. Used with permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515.

Deep within all of us lies a longing for absolute security, to be able to know with absolute certainty. We feel that we should be absolutely sure of everything that we believe. Surely, we feel, we ought to be able to prove everything that we believe.
Yet absolute certainty is actually reserved for a very small class of beliefs. What sort of beliefs? Well, for example, things that are self-evident or capable of being logically demonstrated by propositions. Christianity does not concern logical propositions or self-evident truths (such as “2 + 2 = 4,” or “the whole is greater than the part”). Both of these are certainly true. We may be able to know such truths with absolute certainty—but what is their relevance to life? Realizing that “the whole is greater than the part” isn’t going to turn your life inside out! Knowing that two and two equal four isn’t going to tell you anything much about the meaning of life. It won’t excite you. Frankly, the sort of things that you can know with absolute certainty are actually not that important.
The things in life that really matter cannot be proven with certainty—whether they are ethical values (such as respect for human life), social attitudes (such as democracy) or religious beliefs (such as Christianity). “There is no philosopher in the world so great but he believes a million things on the faith of other people and accepts a great many more truths than he demonstrates,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville. Richard Rorty, probably the greatest American philosopher of the twentieth century, makes this point well, when he points out that “if anyone really believed that the worth of a theory depends on its philosophical grounding, then indeed they would be dubious about physics, or democracy, until relativism in respect to philosophical theories had been overcome. Fortunately, almost nobody believes anything of the sort.” His point? That we can commit ourselves to the great worldviews of our time without having to wait for absolute proof—a proof which, by the very nature of things, is never going to happen.
The British nineteenth-century poet Lord Tennyson made this point rather nicely in his poem The Ancient Sage:
For nothing worthy proving can be proven,
Nor yet disproven; wherefore thou be wise,
Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt.
The beliefs which are really important in life concern such things as whether there is a God and what he is like, or the mystery of human nature and destiny. These—and a whole host of other important beliefs—have two basic features. In the first place, they are relevant to life. They matter, in that they affect the way in which we think, live, hope and act. In the second place, they cannot be proved (or disproved) with total certainty. By their very nature, they make claims that cannot be proved with certainty. At best, we may hope to know them as probably true. There will always be an element of doubt in any statement which goes beyond the world of logic and self-evident propositions. Christianity shares this situation. It is not unique in this respect: an atheist or Marxist is confronted with precisely the same dilemma, as we well see in the next chapter. Anyone who wants to talk about the meaning of life has to make statements which rest on faith, not absolute certainty. Anyway, God isn’t a proposition—he’s a person!
We cannot see God; we cannot touch him; we cannot demand that he give a public demonstration of his existence or character. We know of God only through faith. Yet the human mind wants more. “Give us a sign! Prove it!” It is an age-old problem. Those who heard Jesus’ teaching wanted a sign (Matthew 12:38)—something which would confirm his authority, which would convince them beyond any doubt.
To believe in God demands an act of faith—as does the decision not to believe in him. Neither is based upon absolute certainty, nor can they be. To accept Jesus demands a leap of faith—but so does the decision to reject him. To accept Christianity demands faith—and so does the decision to reject it. Both rest upon faith, in that nobody can prove with absolute certainty that Jesus is the Son of God, the risen saviour of humanity—just as nobody can prove with absolute certainty that he is not. The decision, whatever it may be, rests upon faith. There is an element of doubt in each case. Every attitude to Jesus—except the decision not to have any attitude at all!—rests upon faith, not certainty. Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservations—a trust in a God who has shown himself worthy of that trust. To use a Trinitarian framework: God the Father makes those promises; God the Son confirms them in his words and deeds; and the Holy Spirit reassures us of their reliability, and seals those promises within our heart.
These points are reflected in the American writer Sheldon Vanauken’s account of his mental wrestling before his conversion at Oxford. He found himself caught in a dilemma over the role of proof in faith, which many others have experienced.
There is a gap between the probable and the proved. How was I to cross it? If I were to stake my whole life on the risen Christ, I wanted proof. I wanted certainty. I wanted to see him eat a bit of fish. I wanted letters of fire across the sky. I got none of these … It was a question of whether I was to accept him—or reject him. My God! There was a gap behind me as well! Perhaps the leap to acceptance was a horrifying gamble—but what of the leap to rejection? There might be no certainty that Christ was God—but, by God, there was no certainty that he was not. This was not to be borne. I could not reject Jesus. There was only one thing to do once I had seen the gap behind me. I turned away from it, and flung myself over the gap towards Jesus.
There is indeed a leap of faith involved in Christianity—but it is not an irrational leap into the dark. The Christian experience is that of being caught safely by a loving and living God, whose arms await us as we leap. Martin Luther put this rather well: “Faith is a free surrender and a joyous wager on the unseen, untried and unknown goodness of God.”
All outlooks on life, all theories of the meaning of human existence, rest upon faith, in that they cannot be proved with absolute certainty. But this doesn’t mean that they’re all equally probable or plausible! Let’s take three theories of the significance of Jesus to illustrate this point.
1. We have been redeemed from sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
2. Jesus and his disciples were actually the advance guard of a Martian invasion force, who mistook earth for the planet Venus on account of a navigation error.
3. Jesus was not really a person, but was really a hallucinogenic mushroom.
Although none of these can be proved or disproved with absolute certainty, it will be obvious that they cannot all be taken with quite the same degree of seriousness!
Let’s be quite clear: Nobody can prove Christianity with total certainty. But that’s not really a problem. The big questions concern the reliability of its historical foundations, its internal consistency, its rationality, its power to convert, and its relevance to human existence. As C. S. Lewis stressed in Mere Christianity, Christianity has exceptionally fine credentials on all counts. Look into them. You can totally commit yourself to the gospel in full confidence, as a powerful, credible and profoundly satisfying answer to the mystery of human existence. Faith is basically the resolve to live our lives on the assumption that certain things are true and trustworthy, in the confident assurance that they are true and trustworthy, and that one day we shall know with absolute certainty that they are true and trustworthy.
A superficial faith is a vulnerable faith
Superficiality is a curse of our age. The demand for instant satisfaction leads to superficial personal relationships and a superficial Christian faith. Many students discover Christianity for the first time while at college or university. This discovery very often happens alongside other important events like leaving the parental home, falling in love, or gaining independence of thought and action. As a result, initial emphasis very often falls on the emotional and experiential aspects of Christianity. There is nothing wrong with this! Christianity has abundant resources for those who wish to place emphasis on the role of experience in the life of faith. But there is more to faith than that.
Faith has three main elements. In the first place, it is trust in God. It is a confidence in the trustworthiness, fidelity and reliability of God. It is about rejoicing in his presence and power, being open to his prompting and guidance through prayer, and experiencing the motivation and comfort of the Holy Spirit. It is a deep sense of longing to be close to God, of wanting to praise his name, of being aware of his presence. In many ways, this aspect of Christian faith is like being in love with someone: you want to be with them, enjoying their presence and feeling secure with them. It concerns the heart, rather than the head; it is emotional, rather than intellectual. It is the powerhouse of Christian life, keeping us going through the difficult times and exciting us during the good times.
The difficulty is that all too many people seem to get no further than this stage. Their faith can easily become nothing more than emotion. It can become superficial, lacking any real depth. It seems shallow. It has not really taken root, and is very vulnerable. Yet faith can only flourish when it sinks deep roots. There is more to faith than emotion, experience and feelings, however important they may be to you. Christianity isn’t just about experiencing God—it’s about sticking to God. A mature faith is something secure, something that you can rely on. If your faith is not deeply rooted, you will be tempted to find security in something else, only to find that this alternative will fail you (Matthew 7:24–27).
In the second place, faith is understanding more about God, Jesus Christ and human nature and destiny. By its very nature, faith seeks understanding. It seeks to take root in our minds, as we think through the implications of our experience of the risen Christ. To become a Christian is to encounter the reality of God; to become a disciple is to allow this encounter to shape the way in which we think—and act.
For in the third place, faith is obedience. Paul speaks of the “obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5) making the point that faith must express itself in the way we act. “Faith is kept alive in us, and gathers strength, from practice more than speculation” (Joseph Addison). Or, as the Oxford writer W. H. Griffith-Thomas put it, nicely linking these together:
[Faith] commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence; it continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will, by means of which the conviction and confidence are expressed in conduct.
And it’s at this point that doubt can come in, simply because you have allowed your faith to be shallow. The New Testament often compares faith to a growing plant—a very helpful model to which we shall return frequently in this book. It is very easy to uproot a plant in its early stages of growth; once it has laid down roots, however, it is much harder to dislodge it. By failing to allow their faith to take root, some Christians make themselves very vulnerable to doubt. They haven’t thought about their faith. For example, someone may raise a question about the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus. They don’t know the answer. So doubts begin to creep in—often quite needless doubts, it must be said.
If this happens to you, view it in the right way. The gospel isn’t an illusion that is shown up for what it really is by hard questions—like the emperor’s clothes in the famous story by Hans Christian Andersen. The fact that you haven’t been able to give adequate answers to some person’s questions or objections to your faith doesn’t mean that Christianity falls to pieces the moment people start asking hard questions! It doesn’t mean that you’ve committed some kind of intellectual suicide by becoming a Christian. It shouldn’t mean that your confidence and trust in the gospel collapse, like a deflating balloon, just because someone asked you a question you couldn’t answer. It does, however, mean that you haven’t thought these things through.
Your faith is real—but it is not mature. It may be a little shallow and superficial. But—and this matters enormously!—faith can grow, and it strengthens as it grows. It needs to take root, and grow into a strong, vibrant plant. The problem often lies not in the gospel, but in the nature and depth of your response to it. You have allowed the gospel to capture your imagination, but not your mind. Your faith is shallow, when it should be—and can be—profound. Your failure here ought to be a challenge to you to go away and read more deeply about these matters, or talk them over with other more experienced Christians. In addition to helping you deepen your understanding of these things, doing this will enable you to be more helpful to those interested in learning about Christianity.
This doesn’t mean that you should try harder to believe, as if it were by wishing harder that difficulties disappear. This idea of “faith in faith” won’t get you very far. You should see doubt as pointing to your faith being based on weak foundations. It is those foundations which need attention. A superficial faith is a vulnerable faith, easily (and needlessly) upset when confronted with questions or criticism.
Faith is like reinforced concrete. Concrete which is reinforced with a steel framework is able to stand far greater stress and strain than concrete on its own. Experience which is reinforced with understanding will not crumble easily under pressure. Again, faith is like the flesh and bones of a human body. Just as the human skeleton supports the flesh, giving it shape and strength, so understanding supports and gives shape to Christian experience. Without the skeleton, the human body would collapse into a floppy mass. Without flesh, a skeleton is lifeless, hollow and empty; without the skeleton, flesh lacks shape, form and support. Both flesh and bones are needed if the body is to grow and to function properly. Faith needs the vitality of experience if it is to live – and the support of understanding if it is to survive. So reinforce your faith with understanding.
Doubt in Other Worldviews: The Case of Atheism
In the previous chapter, I made an important point that needs to be explored much more thoroughly. Christians tend to think that doubt is a problem for them alone. But it’s not. It’s a problem for any worldview—whether Jewish or Islamic, atheist or religious. Appreciating this point is essential to seeing doubt in its proper perspective. As I used to be an atheist myself, I am going to explore the place of doubt within atheism.
Most people—including, it has to be said, many atheists themselves!—have the rather simple idea that atheism is about fact, whereas Christianity is about faith. Their ideas are factual; those of Christians are unproven. But it’s not like that. Let me explain by asking a question: can I prove with certainty that there is a God? The short answer is “no.” If you have time to study the history of the philosophical arguments for the existence of God, you’ll know that they are suggestive, but not conclusive. It’s pretty much the universal consensus within philosophy that rational argument does not settle the question of God’s existence, one way or the other. The atheist philosopher Kai Nielsen makes this point clearly when he writes: “To show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false . . . All the proofs of God’s existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists.” Argument is not going to settle this question, one way or the other. And that means that the outcome is uncertain for the atheist.
Now let’s pause here, because you need to appreciate something important. Christians often tend to see only one side of that statement: that nobody can rationally prove that God exists. But can you see that there is another side to it? That nobody can disprove that God exists? The Christian who believes in God thus does so as a matter of faith. But can you see that the atheist has to do the same? That her belief that there is no God is exactly that—a belief! Because she cannot prove that there is no God, her atheism is also a faith.
Atheists don’t like this argument, but it is correct. The simple fact is that when anyone starts making statements about the meaning of life, the existence of God, or whether there is life after death, they are making statements of faith. You can’t prove, either by rational argument or by scientific investigation, what life is all about. Whether you are Christian or atheist, you share the same problem. It’s essential that you appreciate that it’s not just Christians that make these statements as a matter of faith. And because they make these statements as a matter of faith, they are just as vulnerable to doubt as anyone else—Christians included. We’re all in the same situation.
Let’s explore this a little further, by looking at two important issues: atheist arguments for the non-existence of God, and so-called “scientific atheism,” which holds that science disproves God’s existence. Both, as we shall discover, are hopeless overstatements of the real situation.
Atheist arguments against the existence of God
Atheists often tell Christians that their faith is infantile. It’s just fine for the minds of impressionable young children, but laughable in the case of adults. We’ve grown up now, and need to move on. Why should we believe things that can’t be scientifically proved? Faith in God, many atheists argue, is just like believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. When you grow up, you grow out of it. And if you don’t, then you are either mentally retarded or intellectually dishonest.
But this is just rhetoric—the attempt to discredit a belief by heaping ridicule upon in. In fact, it is this argument itself that is childish. If this simplistic argument has any plausibility, it requires a real analogy between God and Santa Claus to exist—which it clearly does not. There is no serious evidence that people regard God, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy as belonging to the same category. I stopped believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy when I was about six years old. After being an atheist for some years, I discovered God when I was eighteen, and have never regarded this as some kind of infantile regression. As I noticed while researching my book The Twilight of Atheism, a large number of people come to believe in God in later life—when they are “grown up.” I have yet to meet anyone who came to believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy late in life! So let’s leave this sort of nonsense behind, and look at a more serious argument, often advanced by atheists.
The most sophisticated atheist arguments against God date from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and are found in the writings of Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. Although they are slightly different, there is a common structure to each. Here it is, set out step by step.
1. There is no God.
2. But some people believe in God.
3. Since there is no God, this must be the result of some kind of delusion or wishful thinking.
4. People believe in God because they want to. Their faith is just a wish-fulfilment.
5. So faith in God is just a human invention, corresponding to a human need. (Atheists differ over how this need arises: Marx puts it down to social alienation and Freud to psychological forces).
Atheists regularly use these arguments against Christians, as I have found out in university debates. Their faith often rests heavily on this kind of argument. But let’s look at this argument in more detail. On closer examination, it turns out to be as full of holes as Swiss cheese. There are three major points that need to be made.
1. The argument is circular. It presupposes that there is no God. Step (5) depends on step (1). If there was a God, then there would be no delusion, would there? It proves nothing, except that atheism is logically self-sufficient. And so is just about every worldview. The important question is: how well does it relate to the real world? The argument merely restates its presuppositions as its conclusions.
2. It is logically flawed. It is certainly true that nothing exists just because I want it to. I might long to have a pile of hundred dollar bills beside me, so that I could pay off some of my debts. But wanting something doesn’t make it happen! We can all agree on that, I think. But—and it is a very big “but”—it does not follow that, because I want something, it cannot exist. Do you see this point? Imagine a man who has fallen overboard from a ship. He wants there to be a helicopter to rescue him. So helicopters can’t exist, because he wants them to? Or the specific helicopter that is already on its way to rescue him cannot exist, because he needs it? Or imagine that you feel very thirsty. You need a drink of water. So water can’t exist, because you want it? Or the specific glass of water that you are about to drink cannot exist, because you need it just then? It just doesn’t follow. As C. S. Lewis so often pointed out, it looks as if God has made us in such a way that we long for him—and then go on to find him! The desire for God originates from God—and eventually leads to God! So much for the logic of the argument against God.
3. The argument works just as well against atheism. This is a devastating point. The atheist’s argument goes like this: you want there to be a God. So you invent him. Your religious views are invented to correspond to what you want. But this line of argument works just as well against atheism. Imagine an extermination camp commandant during the Second World War. Would there not be excellent reasons for supposing that he might hope that God does not exist, given what might await him on the day of judgment? And might not his atheism itself be a wish-fulfillment? And as cultural historians have pointed out for many years, based on their analysis of European history from about 1780 to 1980, people often reject the idea of God because they long for autonomy—the right to do what they please, without any interference from God. They don’t need to worry about divine judgment. They reject belief in God because it suits them. That’s what they want. But that doesn’t mean that this is the way things really are.
This point was made superbly by the Polish philosopher and writer Czeslaw Milosz, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. Parodying the old Marxist idea that religion was the “opium of the people,” he remarked that a new opium had taken its place—rejection of belief in God on account of its implications for our ultimate accountability. “A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders we are not going to be judged.”
Atheism thus depends on a core belief that it cannot verify. Do you see the importance of this point? Atheists live out their lives on the basis of the belief that there is no God, believing that this is right, but not being able to prove it conclusively. Hardly surprisingly, atheists have tried to buttress their beliefs in other ways. One of them is to appeal to the natural sciences. These, we are told with great confidence by atheists, have disproved belief in God. But is this really the case?
The inconclusive case of scientific atheism
The twentieth century has seen many atheist scientists insist that science has eliminated belief in God. The Oxford zoologist and atheist propagandist Richard Dawkins is a good example of this kind of writer. His simplistic overstatements are regularly criticized by other scientists as representing a serious abuse of the scientific method. The simple truth is that the natural sciences neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. So either we have to give up this discussion as meaningless, or we settle it on other grounds.
You will have no problem finding writers who talk about the “limitless powers of science” to explain things, or who argue that only scientific knowledge can be taken seriously. Here is the British atheist writer Bertrand Russell on this point: “Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.” Yet this is a ludicrous overstatement. First, it is not actually a scientific statement, so it disqualifies itself as being true knowledge! Yet more seriously, it would mean that we can never answer questions about the meaning of life, even from an atheist perspective—something that Russell seems to overlook.
Yet science has its limits. That’s no criticism of science, by the way – just a recognition of its boundaries. Within those boundaries, it is highly competent. But outside them, it cannot deliver the simple answers that some hoped for. Sir Peter Medawar, who won a Nobel Prize for Medicine for his discovery of acquired immunological tolerance, was well aware of the limits of science. His words deserve to be pondered:
The existence of a limit to science is, however, made clear by its inability to answer childlike elementary questions having to do with first and last things—questions such as “How did everything begin?’; ‘What are we all here for?’; ‘What is the point of living?’
The point is clear: science is wonderful when it comes to discovering the chemical structure of planetary atmospheres, the cause of cancer, or finding a cure for blood poisoning. But can it tell us why we are here? Or whether there is a God or not? No. It has its limits. And those who insist—quite wrongly—that science demands or necessitates or proves atheism have some serious explaining to do. Let’s hear Sir Peter again:
There is no quicker way for a scientist to bring discredit upon himself and upon his profession than roundly to declare—particularly when no declaration of any kind is called for—that science knows, or soon will know, the answers to all questions worth asking, and that questions which do not admit a scientific answer are in some way non-questions or ‘pseudo-questions’ that only simpletons ask and only the gullible profess to be able to answer.
Let’s be clear about this. It is perfectly possible to interpret the natural sciences in atheist, theistic and agnostic ways. The sciences can be “spun” in ways making them support disbelief in God, belief in God, or scepticism. But the sciences demand none of these interpretations. Stephen Jay Gould, widely regarded as America’s greatest evolutionary biologist before his recent death from cancer, was no religious believer. But he was adamant that his own religious scepticism could not be derived from the sciences.
To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth million time (from college bull sessions to learned treatises): science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God’s possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can’t comment on it as scientists.
Gould rightly insists that science can work only with naturalistic explanations; it can neither affirm nor deny the existence of God. And those who argue that it disproves God have just lost the plot, imposing their atheism on a neutral science.
God is simply not an empirical hypothesis which can be checked out by the scientific method. As Stephen Jay Gould and others have insisted, the natural sciences are not capable of adjudicating, negatively or positively, on the God-question. It lies beyond their legitimate scope. There is simply no logically watertight means of arguing from observation of the world to the existence, or non-existence of God. This has not stopped people from doing so, as a casual survey of writings on both sides of the question indicates. But it does mean that these “arguments” are suggestive, and nothing more. The grand idea that atheism is the only option for a thinking person has long since passed away, being displaced by a growing awareness of the limitations placed on human knowledge, and an increased expectation of humility in the advocation of religious choices.
Two major surveys of the religious beliefs of scientists, carried out at the beginning and end of the twentieth century, bear witness to a highly significant trend. One of the most widely held beliefs within atheist circles has been that, as the beliefs and practices of the “scientific” worldview became increasingly accepted within western culture, the number of practicing scientists with any form of religious beliefs would dwindle to the point of insignificance. A survey of the religious views of scientists, undertaken in 1916, showed that about 40% of scientists had some form of personal religious beliefs. At the time, this was regarded as shocking, even scandalous. The survey was repeated in 1996, and showed no significant reduction in the proportion of scientists holding such beliefs, seriously challenging the popular notion of the relentless erosion of religious faith within the profession. The survey cuts the ground from under those who argued that the natural sciences are necessarily atheistic. Forty percent of those questioned had active religious beliefs, 40% had none (and can thus legitimately be regarded as atheist), and 20% were agnostic.
The stereotype of the necessarily atheist scientist lingers on in western culture at the dawn of the third millennium. It has its uses, and continues to surface in the rehashed myths of the intellectual superiority of atheism over its rivals. The truth, as might be expected, is far more complex and considerably more interesting.
The point of these reflections is obvious. Any worldview—atheist, Islamic, Jewish, Christian or whatever—ultimately depends on assumptions that cannot be proved. Every house is built on foundations, and the foundations of worldviews are not ultimately capable of being proved in every respect. Everyone who believes anything significant or worthwhile about the meaning of life does so as a matter of faith. We’re all in the same boat. And once you realize this, doubt seems a very different matter. It’s not a specifically Christian problem—it’s a universal human problem. And that helps to set it in its proper perspective.
Alister McGrath is Professor of Historical Theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, where he also lectures at RZIM’s Oxford’s Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA). For more about Professor McGrath and his writings, see his website

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How can we hold Cassidy responsible for killing her baby?

Can we realistically hold this misguided fourteen year old child responsible for her pathetic act when our culture does not afford dignity to human life?  How convoluted is this thinking?  Our illustrious president adamantly opposes protection for an aborted baby who survives the attempt to end her/his life.  He has no problem with the defenseless infant lying there alone, on a blue pad, struggling for every breath.  Why is this fourteen year old girl's baby's life deemed more significant than those defenseless babies allowed to suffer to death, unattended?  Cassidy's baby was unwanted too.  At what precise moment did her baby's life become valuable?  How is it legally permissible, in 2012 in the United States of America, for females to have the precious little lives developing inside of them to be diabolically ripped from their nurturing, safe havens.  Casey Anthony, remember her, desired an abortion when she was pregnant with Caylee, but her mother, Cindy Anthony, would not allow it.  That action would have been accepted by our murderous society.  However, when Casey killed Caylee at age two, she was locked up.  At what precise moment did Caylee's worthless life suddenly become valuable?  At what point was it suddenly not OK to consider killing her anymore?  This fourteen year old Florida teen, Cassidy, is a mere child.  The frontal lobe of her brain has not yet finished developing.  All children make bad decisions, don't they?  Did her parents have the right to be informed of the life growing within their daughter's womb?  Aren't they responsible to help her formulate right beliefs and correct thinking.  That's what conservatives believe.  Progressives differ by saying conservatives have no right to indoctrinate their offspring into their narrow way of thinking.  Wait a minute, how can they deny them this when, while also saying, everyone needs to be accepted for what they deem right for themselves.  According to our present culture that says everything is relative, how could she or her parents be held accountable for her act?  I have no doubt many all-wise progressives have said as much though.  Again, convoluted thinking much?  In my view, it does sound as if Cassidy's parents need to be held accountable for blatant neglect of their child.  After all, she is a small girl and her baby boy weighed over nine pounds.  How could they miss her bump?  According to our postmodern culture, it was their right to neglect her, so we must tolerate it.  In a similar situation, it might not be what we deem right for us.  We need to accept that what is right for us may not be right for someone else, and that's just the way it has become in our common-sense-is-not-common-anymore society.  In a society that says there is no truth, no right and wrong, how could Cassidy be charged with the first degree murder of her newborn baby?  As much as tolerance is touted from the rooftops across our nation, aren't we expected to tolerate her decision?  In a sense, Cassidy simply took the scissors from an abortionist's hands to use them herself.