27 July, 2016

What happens when politics and self-refuting ideas collide

In July, I published a post to this blog pointing out that many of the claims that atheists make don't even meet their own standards. To review that post, those claims are "there is no truth" (that claim can't be true either if that's the case), "all truth is scientific" (that claim is philosophical and therefore false by its own standard), "all truth/morality is relative/subjective" (that statement claims to be true not only for the claimant but also for opponents, making it false by its own standard), "Christians are hypocrites" (A, hasty generalization, B, tu quoque, and C, anyone who tries to arbitrarily make up a standard oneself has the burden of living up to it; if they don't, then they're also hypocrites), and "you shouldn't judge" (A, that statement is a judgment, and B, quoting Matthew 7:1 without also quoting Matthew 7:2-5 at the same time is quote mining). It's the number 3 self-refuting statement — "all truth/morality is relative/subjective" — however, that even some presidential candidates still don't see the problem with.

Who can't see this problem? Hillary Clinton, that's who, and her vice-presidential pick Tim Kaine is just as bad when it comes to failure to call this self-refuting idea — and the self-refuting statement that accompanies it — out for what it is: false by its own standard. It's almost hilarious, really, that Tim Kaine hasn't been excommunicated from the Catholic Church over his relativism regarding abortion in particular, why? He claims that abortion is bad for him and his family but also claims to not care what others who might support abortion think about it. Blatant lie: because moral relativism is self-refuting and therefore false, the only thing that can be true in this regard is a moral absolute, which means that it's either good or evil. Since the Catholic and Methodist Churches, for that matter, both consider abortion to be an absolute evil, both Kaine and Hillary should be excommunicated from their said churches, at the very least.

Ah, but Trump is also an abortionist, you claim, right? For two reasons, that's a false claim: A, just because someone claimed to support abortion 16 years ago doesn't mean that claim is up-to-date (that's a fallacy called slothful induction), and B, there was reportedly a change in his position in 2011 when a friend of his wanted to abort his wife's child only to not go through with it, then seriously regret the contemplation once he met his own child face to face. Further, the Republican candidate for VP — Mike Pence — has a record as governor of Indiana that is about as pro-life as any candidate can possibly get on this matter — he reportedly used state *executive orders* to strip Planned Parenthood of all Indiana state tax funds, and as a result multiple abortion clinics in Indiana are closing down. As VP under Trump and as Senate President, Pence would likely use his Congressional powers to push acts into law that take his actions against PP in Indiana to the national level.

Also, enough with the claim that "it's a danger to women's health" to have a pro-life position! For starters, there's a difference between caring about both the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child vs. caring about the life of the mother at the expense of the life of the unborn child. "The unborn child is just part of the mother" you claim? According to the science of genetics, that's a lie. If that claim were true, then the DNA of the unborn child would be 100% identical to the DNA of the mother. That's not the case. Instead, the instant a sperm enters an egg, the DNA of both fuse together. The result? A genetically distinct cell that is genetically programmed, genetically wired, genetically predestined to grow into an embryo, a fetus, and then, finally, a child outside the womb. To jump to the conclusion that an unborn child is a part of the mother's body simply because of the location inside the womb is to flat-out deny science, and to say "it's my choice to abort" is again an act of believing the self-refuting lie that is moral relativism.

No one that tries to bring self-refuting ideas to Washington belongs in the White House. Claiming to be Christian means refraining from "nullifying the word of God" for the sake of anything else. The Pharisees, according to Jesus (Mark 7:13), "nullified the word of God" for the sake of tradition. The misnomered "Democrats", meanwhile, do the same thing: they "nullify the word of God" for the sake of moral relativism. Either they're pro-life Christians, pro-abortion atheists, or hypocrites. They can't have their cake and eat it too.

14 July, 2016

Calling ANY Field of Science 'Settled' while Claiming to be a Beacon of Reason at the Same Time is Hypocrisy

WARNING: The following is an essay, not individual sentences and not individual paragraphs. Quoting part of this work without also quoting the surrounding context ― the context that is the whole thing ― is quote mining.

It's almost laughable, the nerve that some scientists, particularly those that are also atheists, have. They claim to be beacons of reason. They claim to be rational. They go on to claim that all who don't agree with them and their opinions about Christianity must be deluded simply because they're not 100% materialistic. They group Christianity together with other religions that bear far more radical ideologies, then commit the hasty generalization of assuming that anyone who is against, for example, abortion or homosexuality is just as evil as Muslim terrorists. There's an irony in this, however: What about their own science communities? Is there discrimination there too?

Notice the standard that these accusations imply: Don't stop thinking. Always make absolutely certain to examine every piece of evidence closely. Never jump to any conclusion. This is a standard in which absolute certainty about any field of science is impossible. Do the scientists themselves do this? Do they refrain from jumping to conclusions? Do they keep thinking about everything without stopping their thoughts about anything? Do they explore every possible explanation, regardless of consensus about the evidence that they find, or do they shove all of that evidence through some materialistic worldview filter?

Ah, the answer is the latter. "[Darwinism] is a fact" they claim. "The science is settled." "There is no other possible cause for life than a naturalistic one." This is doing precisely the very thing ― namely, stifling thoughts that they disagree with ― that they accuse us of. Although I do kind of agree with them based on the fact that it's a consequence of the deadly sin that is greed, climate change is also a field of science that people pull this trick on. Same thing when it comes to other modes of politically and (ir)religiously motivated science, like science that pertains to homosexuality for instance. A consensus is NOT an objective truth! It's an opinion of a multitude of intelligent people, sure, but without God, an opinion is an opinion regardless of how many people hold it.

Moreover, if only science yielded truth as atheists claim, then guess what? The claim in and of itself would be false by its own definition. The claim that "all truth is scientific" isn't scientific, it's philosophical. I'm always willing to go back to the Craig v. Atkins (1998) debate on this issue: we have a case in which Peter Atkins claimed that science is the only thing that yields truth, and what is William Lane Craig's response? You cannot use the scientific method to prove math, nor can you use it to prove philosophy, nor can you use it to prove history… most importantly, you cannot use science to prove science itself, why? Because the mathematical formulas that science depends on must simply be assumed true in order for science to even be conducted!

So, without much further ado, it's hypocrisy to be skeptical about everything without also being skeptical about skepticism itself. Whenever you exempt a claim or view from its own standard, what you get is a breeding ground for hypocrisy, and unfortunately, that's exactly what the nature of most of these charges is.

12 July, 2016

The Apologetics of 'Bel and the Dragon'

Is Christian apologetics really 'tyranny of the experts'? Some lay believers seem to think so. They cherry-pick 2 Timothy 3:16 while at the same time ignoring 1 Peter 3:15. That aside, what exactly did the oldest of patriarchs use to defend their views? Did they resort to apologetics as often as we did? As Bill Dyer points out, even Abraham did, by believing that if God can create everything from nothing, then He can also raise Isaac from the dead — granted, Abraham also is told by God not to go through with the sacrifice. Now this is a trivial example, but is it the only one?

In fact, no — at least not if you look to deuterocanonical and/or apocryphal sources. The book of Daniel as we know it — at least the book of Daniel as Protestant Christians (including Lutherans like myself) know it — is not the same book of Daniel that adherents of Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, Russian Orthodoxy, and Coptic Orthodoxy know. Why? Because the Hebrew Bible was canonicalized by three different groups of Jews which each canonicalized it in their own entirely different ways.

These three versions of the Tanakh are called, by scholars, the Egyptian, Palestinian, and Babylonian traditions. The version that is present in most Protestant Bibles is the Babylonian one, which is also the one that most modern Jews have in their canons. The Palestinian version, meanwhile, is the one that the Ethiopian Church uses, and the Egyptian version is the one that the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches use. It's in this version of the book of Daniel — particularly the end of it — where things get interesting. It's a story of an idol — Bel/Marduk — and a dragon-like beast, and how Daniel proves both of these to be false.

First, we have the Bel idol. This bronze statue is given food, and it disappears the next day, and Nebuchadnezzar is portrayed in this epilogue as begging the question about this idol's nature, that the idol must be eating the offerings. So, Daniel pours ashes on the temple floor one day. Then, the next morning, footprints in the ashes leading to a secret door are discovered, proving that the idol's own priests are taking the food to a secret area to trick everyone. Then the people see that this idol — the one that Nebuchadnezzar is the most devoted to, mind you — is no more than a fraud, and Nebuchadnezzar's theory is debunked.

The next one is of the dragon-like creature, which Darius the Mede claims must be divine because it does eat and drink. So, what does Daniel do? Poison it. He gives it food that has been contaminated with a poison that, when the dragon ate it, would give off enough gas to make the dragon's stomach explode. The dragon eats it, bursts open, dies, and what does Daniel tell Darius the Mede? Because it's not immortal, it's not divine either. This version then goes on to say that it's for this offense — killing the dragon — that Daniel is thrown into the lions' den.

Notice how in this account, Daniel doesn't just simply assert that Babylonian idolatry is fake. He goes on to provide evidence proving the Babylonians wrong about what it is they're worshipping. That's apologetics, is it not? So, we have Abraham, we have Daniel… why should our faith be any different? We have a whole wealth of arguments at our disposal to debunk worldviews like atheism that present a similar threat to Christianity today, so why not use them the same way the patriarchs did? I for one would rather just get with the program and follow in these patriarchs' and other apolosists' footsteps.

07 July, 2016

Distinguishing Between Biological and Psychological Transgenderism

WARNING: The following are paragraphs, not individual sentences. Picking those paragraphs apart and responding to single sentences while ignoring the rest of the paragraphs is quote mining, and, therefore, fallacious.

In the history of the church, no issue has resulted in more hatred, not only from the church but also of it, than those which are LGBT-related. Just three months ago, Target made highly controversial headlines, how? By removing gender signs from bathrooms simply to support a small minority of the population, one that insists that they are female when really male, or vice versa. Why is it that people would insist this, however? Is it scientific or deluded? Is gender based on chromosomes or on thoughts?

There are, in fact, some extremely rare biological exceptions to the gender issue. One, XX male syndrome, is a genetic disorder in which someone has sex organs that are clearly male but at the same time has two X chromosomes ― thus, genetically female despite masculine anatomy. Another, complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, is a disorder in which someone who has both an X and Y chromosome ― that is, genetically male ― is neurologically insensitive to testosterone and hormones structurally similar to it, resulting in anatomic femininity. These cases are, however, extremely rare ― only 4.5 per 100,000 in the XXMS case, and similar numbers in the cases of CAIS and XYGD. How many people who claim to be transgender actually have these disorders?

Considering that only about 0.7% of the population is transgender, it seems like it's a very high percentage at first. 9 per 100,000 (provided that the figures for XXMS and CAIS are identical), however, is only 0.00009, or 0.009% of the population. What percentage of that 0.7% is this value, therefore? Divide 0.009 by 0.7, and you end up with approximately 0.013% of the transgender community. 0.013% of 0.7% of the population, based on these estimates, is truly, biologically transgender.

What about the other 0.687%? Are they rational or deluded? Psychological studies seem to suggest the latter. Back in April when the whole debate over Target's decision was going on, psychologists managed to perform brain scans of transgender people and compared them to brain scans of people who are of the opposite sex. What they found was that the transgender brainwave patterns seemed to match with the gender with which they identified. The conclusion that the article drew, however, was that the people were not deluded, that they were in fact opposite genders trapped in the wrong body. However, is there another explanation? In fact, there is. Scientists did similar brain scans of people who look at porn, and what they found was that people actually think they're having sex when they look at it. In the same way, wouldn't it make sense that people who think that they're something they aren't, if they think about it long enough, may just end up becoming something they aren't, psychologically? If you're deluded when you do drugs and deluded when you look at porn, then you're also deluded if you think you're not what you are biologically. The scientists who conducted this study completely ignored these precedents suggesting that thoughts can physically alter the structure of one's brain — ignoring precedents is just as un-scientific as ignoring science in general.

So, based on this evidence, are we to sacrifice the rights of the majority to support the rights of a minority as small as 0.7%? Doing so is tyranny of a minority. By trying to support 0.7% of the population, Target is offending 50% of the population at the same time, why? Because it opens up a security hole. Now, all a male pedophile has to do is say "I feel like a woman" to get into a women's restroom, and he'll be able to do all kinds of evils to women and girls who are already in there. Why not just add a third restroom with an "Other" sign on it, a lockable door, and no stalls? From a privacy standpoint, it actually makes even more sense ― just lock the door to the whole restroom and you'll have even more privacy than those who use the stalls. No, instead, they would rather use the bathrooms with less privacy in the name of equality, twisting the definition of "equality" in an Orwellian manner. Hopefully Target learns lessons from the resulting boycott that I happen to be participating in; if not, then shareholder action to oust the current CEO must be taken.