Archive for category Morality
I’m sure we’ve all heard of the recent controversy over Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the popular show Duck Dynasty. His recent comments made to GQ have been criticized by the liberal media incessantly for the past couple of days, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
In response, GLAAD, a LGBT activist group, sparked interest in the comments by calling Phil’s religious conviction on sin, specifically homosexuality, vile and extreme, “littered with outdated stereotypes and blatant misinformation.”
A GLAAD representative, Wilson Cruz, even went as far as to say that “Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe.” He goes on, “Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”
The stage was set. A&E the mummer’s part; GLAAD enters the prompter’s box and the play was ready to start — a typical Hollywood drama.
However, this play wasn’t destined to have a happily ever after for the politically correct elitists. Though Phil was suspended from the show indefinitely, there was a huge backlash on both GLAAD and A&E. Many people are refusing to support A&E by watching any of their programming; some are signing online petitions to bring Phil back on the show. The bottom line: many, many people want Phil back and believe that both A&E and GLAAD surpassed their authority in trying to censor him.
In defense of Phil Robertson and the rest of the Duck Dynasty clan, I want to make a couple of points:
1. A&E had absolutely no right to fire Phil for his comments. It seems A&E is in violation of the Civil Rights act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
(a) Employer practices
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer –
(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Some might say that A&E isn’t firing Phil for his personal religious beliefs. An official statement from A&E says otherwise:
We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series ‘Duck Dynasty’…. His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.
It seems that A&E is openly admitting they’re suspending Phil for his personal religious beliefs — a direct, unmittigated violation of the Civil Rights Act. GLAAD is all about standing up to discrimination — except when Christians are discriminated. Where’s the left on this one?
2. Phil, though coarse, was completely Biblical in his statements. Contra Wilson Cruz, Phil’s comments are in-line with the Christian community — at least the Christian community that listens to what the Bible has to say. Romans 1: 26-28; even the passage that Phil paraphrased to GQ, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, clearly and concisely articulates that homosexuality is a sin. However this doesn’t mean we treat homosexuality any different from the many other sins we commit, sometimes on a daily basis. All sins are laid down on the cross through the authority found in the sacrifice of Christ.
I support Phil Robertson, his family, and all the unspoken Christians around the world being censored, discriminated, or worse due to their belief in Christ. Jesus warned us this wasn’t going to be an easy ride, that the cross will bear down on us at points in our lives. Though we may have it easy here in America, the land of “In God We Trust”, it’s moments like these that make us realize that there are those that wish to silence the Word and let the ways of men rule the land. Hold dearly to your right to spread the Word and never forget the price of its purchase.
Merry Christmas, and in the words of Phil Robertson:
We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity
David P. Gushee wrote an USA Today column titled in big bold letters “Christian politics create unholy alliances”:
“They are at it again. Republican presidential candidates are trolling for conservative Christian votes. Christian political organizers are trolling for Republican candidates’ attention. (The next occasion will be the Republican candidate debate sponsored by The Family Leader in two weeks at a church in Des Moines.) The Democrats, too, will make some effort to join this game, as they did in the 2008 cycle.”
This is what he had to say about politicians “abuse of Christian symbols”:
“Politicians continue to use and abuse the language and symbols of Christian faith in order to win political support. They speak of God, Jesus, Christian faith and Christian values. They bow their heads in prayer at a million chicken dinners. Then Christian voters — perhaps flattered, perhaps reassured — think that these evocations of holy Christian symbols and terms actually mean something.”
Mr. David Gushee submits that the “trolling” conservatives are using “Christian values” (gasp!) as a means of winning “political support” (double-gasp!) from Christian America (blasphemy!). For Mr. Gushee’s sake (and I expect about 40% of the rest of America) we ought to have a set of earplugs and blinders at the ready when watching the presidential debates. It’s for our own good; us “rank-in-file Christians”. We just don’t what’s good for us. Wait? When was politics decreed sterile of worldviews? Christianity tugs a worldview behind it; when a candidate associates himself with this worldview, we acquire some deep insight into the mind of that candidate. So, I guess my main question is this: how is it wrong for a politician to articulate his worldview truthfully? This question seems to be inaccurate, actually. Gushee isn’t angry at politicians expressing any old worldview; it’s the Christian one that irks him. Why ought politicians hide their religious beliefs? Is politics some sort of sacred ground in which the candidate is purged of all his Christian worldviews and then – enlightened in the ways of the secular humanist – is prepared to run the presidential race? It seems quite contrary to our intuition. A candidate’s religion usually dictates the ethics that he conforms to. Therefore, when a candidate submits that the Bible is the source of his moral standard, that’s a good thing to know ; understanding the worldview of the person you’re voting for is appropriate and ought to be encouraged.
Free will and the nature of God can be pretty confusing stuff. A lot of people have a bunch of different opinions about it. I’m just gonna’ give you some of my thoughts on the subject:
How Free Is God?
About the only time this question arises is when we start asking, “Can God do everything?”. Some people start to say, “Yeah, He’s God. Duh!”. But after a little thinking, they then realize He cannot (1) be illogical and (2) be immoral. A logical God, I think, is a given, but what about the God and immorality? Does God have the ability to be immoral? If not, is God really free?
God by definition doesn’t have the ability to be immoral. When the Bible says “God is good”, it’s basically saying “God’s nature is that of perfection”. God is the supremely perfect moral being of the universe. But the question arises, “Doesn’t this infringe on God’s free will?”. I’ll use an analogy by Harry Frankfurt:
‘Imagine a man with electrodes secretly implanted in his brain who is presented with a choice of doing either A or B [for our purposes, we’ll let A stand for good and B stand for evil]. The electrodes are inactive so long as the man chooses A; but if he were going to choose B, then the electrodes would switch on and force him to choose A. If the electrodes fire, causing him to choose A, his choice of A is clearly not a free choice. But supposed that the man really wants to do A and chooses it of his own volition. In that case his choosing A is entirely free, even though the man is literally unable to choose B, since the electrodes do not function at all and have no effect on his choice of A. What makes his choice free is the absence of any causally determining factors of his choosing A. This conception of libertarian freedom has the advantage of explaining how it is that God’s choosing to do good is free, even though it is impossible for God to choose sin, namely, His choosing is undetermined by causal constraints. Thus, libertarian freedom of the will does not require the ability to choose other than as one chooses.’
Since God’s nature is that of moral perfection, God will necessarily choose (A) freely and thus will never be forced to choose (A). Although it’s an impossibility for God to choose (B), God still has free will. Think about it. A limitation in the range of possible choices is not the same as having no choice at all. If God is faced with a choice of either doing a particular set of good actions, (a), (b), and (c), or a particular set of bad actions, (x), (z), and (y), His inability of choosing (x), (z), and (y) does not negate the fact that He freely chose (a), (b), and (c). In light of this, we can say with ease that God is actually free.
Excerpt from The New York Times:
“In the days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, some workers and mourners at the World Trade Center site seized upon a cross-shaped steel beam found amid the rubble as a symbol of faith and hope.
But the move quickly provoked a lawsuit from American Atheists, a nonprofit group based in New Jersey. They argued that because the cross is a religious symbol of Christianity and the museum is partly government financed and is on government property, the cross’s inclusion in the museum violates the United States Constitution and state civil rights law. The lawsuit, in turn, provoked the ire of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative public interest law firm, as well as others.”
The American Atheists claim:
“The installation of the cross at the September 11 Memorial and Museum is facially violative of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, which mandates: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
We Passed A Law?
Their claim would only make sense if (1) Congress is actually making a “law respecting an establishment of religion” or (2) Congress is actually making a law “prohibiting” free exercise of religion. Which, of course, they’re not. It’s bizarre that they seem to completely ignore this obvious fact. Yes, there is a beam that resembles a Christian cross. Yes, the beam that resembles a cross is in a government-funded building. Your point? What if I make up a new religion that has a religious symbol resembling the White House? Does it follow that Congress is “facially violative of the First Amendment” for funding it? Why not? It’s the same logic the American Atheists are using.
The Beam-Cross Hurts Their Feelings?
“The challenged cross constitutes an unlawful attempt to promote a specific religion on governmental land, diminishing the civil rights, privileges or capacities of Atheist Americans, Agnostic Americans, Jewish Americans, Muslims…” etc.
How is a beam that resembles a cross “diminishing the civil rights” of anybody? I’m pretty sure your freedoms will be intact when you leave the museum. I’m just guessing though. The cross may be programmed to burn non-Christians eyes out. Or (and probably more reasonably) it could just represent the hope it gave Christians and others of the faith in one of the darkest times in America, but that’s beside the point. Right?
To understand the historical context of both the Old and New Testaments is extremely important when making connections between our society and their society. When we fail to do this, we usually come to the wrong conclusions about scripture. An example of this is that many non-believers claim that there is an obvious conflict between the moralities in the Bible — Old Testament morality being more “cruel”, while New Testament is more “acceptable”. They also go on to say that if the morality in the Bible reflects God’s morality, then God’s morality is “changing”. This, they conclude, is a contradiction in God’s nature.
Contradiction In God’s Nature?
In the Bible, God’s commandments seem contingent on the moral and historical status of the people He’s dealing with. Jesus plainly affirms this in Matthew 19:8, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been that way.” Even though God didn’t intend marriage to be that way, He permitted divorce for the Israelites because of their moral depravity. Thus we can conclude that God’s commands are dependant on the historical context of the people. Different people at different times are to follow different commands.
Contradiction In The Bible’s Morality?
A contradiction is something that is logically incompatible between two statements. Given the fact that the Bible says that God’s commandments are historically conditioned and that the the New Testament was written in a totally different historical frame than that of the Old Testament’s, there isn’t any contradiction happening. Most of the laws given in the OT were never intended to be timeless ethical principles (like “unclean food”). As proof of this, ancient Israel was a theocratic society with God at the head. That’s a huge contrast between our society and ancient Israel’s. Many acts, like adultery, were deeply immoral and deserved capital punishment. In our sexually promiscuous society such a view of adultery seems inconceivable, but I take that as a clear sign on how far we’ve fallen away from God. Think about it. Look at how much society’s view of marriage and purity has changed in the last hundred years. Now think about the last thousand years. It’s a huge transformation and isn’t necessarily in the right direction.
After Anders Breivik went on one of the most deadly killing sprees in history with 76 confirmed murders, many started pointing fingers – especially at “christian fundamentalists“. Although Breivik was obviously not a “fundamentalist” in the theological sense, this doesn’t negate the claim that he considered himself Christian. Many Christians spoke out at this and said that Anders wasn’t a “true Christian”. However, many an atheist replied and claimed that Anders ought to be called a “true christian” and anyone that says he isn’t is committing the fallacy of No true Scotsman.
A simple version of the fallacy goes like this:
Joey: “All Americans like pizza.”
Timmy: “I don’t like pizza.”
Joey: ” Yes, but all true Americans like pizza.”
We can easily see the fallacy here. Joey starts out by saying that all Americans (somebody who comes from the United States) like pizza. Timmy is an American, but doesn’t like pizza. So what does Joey do? He refines the definition of Americans (somebody that hails from the United States) to “Americans” (somebody that hails from the United States and likes pizza) and then implies that Timmy isn’t an American based on the failure to meet up to his new definition. It’s a form of ad hoc reasoning and is highly unreasonable, even though all true Americans do like pizza.
The Atheist’s Argument:
Now, let’s look at the argument atheists and the like are making:
Smith: “All Christians follow the example of Christ.”
Johnson: “Anders Behring Breivik is a Christian.”
Smith: “Yes, but all true Christians follow the teachings of Jesus.”
Johnson: “Hey! You’re being illogical there!”
Debunking The Alleged Fallacy:
Where’s the fallacy? How is Smith being illogical? Let’s look: Smith said Christians (a person that follows Jesus’ teachings) follow the example of Christ. Johnson claims that Anders is a Christian. Smith replies by implying that Anders Breivik wasn’t a Christian and then gives the same definition that he gave earlier (Christians are people that follow Jesus’ teachings). Where’s the ad hoc reasoning? There isn’t any! Smith never refines his definition of Christian and is therefore not committing any fallacy.
A Different Fallacy Is Found:
When atheists (like Johnson in the example) say that Anders is a Christian, they’re completely assuming that he met up to the standards of being a Christian ( or a “fundamentalist Christian” for that matter). They’re just begging the question.
Johnson: “How do you know Anders Behring Breivik is a Christian?”
Smith: “Because he said he was.”
But you see, being a Christian isn’t the same as saying you’re a Christian. Christianity isn’t a spectator’s sport – it’s full contact. This is what separates Christianity from most philosophies and religions: it’s faith coupled with works. Without faith, you’re spiritually dead. Without works, you’re spiritually dead. They go hand in hand together.
As we saw above, nobody is committing a fallacy in saying that Anders wasn’t a true Christian. The fallacy just isn’t there. However, a fallacy is found in saying that Anders was a Christian just because he said he was. Christianity is more than just saying
Relativism is a very interesting belief that, well, doesn’t make a lick of sense. So why am I talking about it? Because most of the PC (Politically Correct, for those who don’t live in California) world believes in some type of moral relativism. It’s inescapable. That’s why I think it’s a completely relevant topic in today’s world and needs a response. To get started, let’s define the two types of mainstream relativism:
1. Conventionalism: Moral truths are completely or partially dependent on societal conventions. And for the ease of remembering, we’ll call this: “Societal Relativism” (i.e. if society believes (x), then you ought to do it).
2. Subjectivism: Moral truths are dependent on the personal preferences of the individual. We’ll call this: “I Say Relativism” (i.e. personal tastes: “Pizza Hut has the best pizza”).
In this post, I’ll start off by talking about some nonsensical conclusions of Societal Relativism (I’ll talk about I Say Relativism later):
The Euthyphro Dillema:
The Euthyphro dillemma applied to Societal Relativism basically goes like this: “Is ‘good’ supported by society because it is actually ‘good’, or is something ‘good’ because a particular society supports it?”.
The First Horn:
The answer to this one is pretty easy. If the relativist states that society supports something that is ‘good’ because it is ‘good’, then he’s not actually a relativist; he’s accepting that there is an alternative and more superior moral measuring stick, if you will, that society attempts to live up to. He is thus contradicting the core premise of moral relativism and ought to reconsider his beliefs.
The Second Horn:
This one is a little tougher, but not by much. If the relativist asserts that something is ‘good’ because a certain society supports, then a whole slew of problems happen:
Problem 1: A central belief of Societal Relativism asserts that all societal laws/beliefs equate to moral truths. This means that genocide, racism, infanticide, slavery, and oppression were all ‘good’. Really? Yup. If there are no ‘self-evident’ laws in the universe, this is what we end up with. I seriously doubt that you’ll meet any person that actually believes this, but if you do, then this person is, as William Lane Craig puts it, “morally handicapped” and needs to get some help.
Problem 2: If Societal Relativism is true, then anybody who opposes the ‘divine commands of society’ are immoral. Relativists agree with this. However, when taken to it’s logical conclusion, they seem to squirm. Why? Because people like, Martin Luther King Jr., Oskar Schindler, and many others that opposed the ‘sacred law of the land’ are thus ‘evil’. It’s a logical conclusion and is inescapable. The men and women who risked their lives to save the Jewish people in the Holocaust were all ‘evil’. The men and women who risked their lives in assisting slaves in the Underground Railroad were all ‘evil’. The list goes on and on. Most Societal Relativists don’t even realize this. They believe that relativism fixes ethical problems, when in fact all it does is complicate things.
As we’ve seen above, Societal Relativism goes completely against our moral intuitions. Things like justice, fairness, blame, etc. just don’t make sense in a topsy turvy relativistic world. It just doesn’t fit. The Societal Relativist is either morally insane, delusional, or hasn’t actually thought about what he or she believes. This is why it is our duty to show the frankly evil conclusions of moral relativism and give the alternative: moral objectivism.
This is probably one of the most convincing arguments for the existence of God and especially as a negation towards moral relativism. Now before we start the argument, let’s define a couple of important terms:
1. Moral duties: the obligation to retreat from the ‘bad’ and fulfill the ‘good’.
2. Moral values: ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
3. Moral objectivism: moral values and duties that are independent of what people think (e.g. the Holocaust is bad, even if the Nazis succeeded in brainwashing the world to think that it wasn’t).
4. Moral relativism: moral values and duties that are dependent of what people think.
5. Moral intuition: an intuitional proposition is true because (1) it is self-evident, (2) needs no further justification, (2) and is known in full once all the facts are laid out (2+2=4 must be learned, but is justified by an appeal to intuition).
Here is the syllogism for the argument for those who like to see the logical flow:
1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
1. Therefore God does exist.
With these in mind let’s begin the argument!
In Defense of Premise 1:
Many an atheist proudly affirm that objective morality exists even in the absence of God. They state that the origin of morality is derived from the evolutionary process and is grounded in our society. It’s merely an adaptation to our hostile environment – just like legs or arms. But an obvious problem arises when one claims this: morality doesn’t become objective in a naturalistic worldview, it becomes merely an illusion of the mind conditioned throughout the ages. Why? Because it was put in our minds for the sole purpose of increasing our survivability rate. Nothing else. Therefore, it becomes impossible to condemn war, oppression, racism, and sexual abuse as evil. Although, through the course of human evolutionary development, such actions have become ‘taboo’, there is no reason to believe that such actions are actually wrong. A person committing rape, for example, is simply going against the social norm and is thus on the same level as a person that belches at the dinner table or leaves the toilette seat up. The rapist is merely acting unfashionable. Morality when coupled with evolution becomes relativistic and non-binding, not objective and obligatory.
Some radical types have retreated to a spin-off of the famous Platonic Good to explain the existence of objective morality without God. They posit that the abstract concepts of love, charity, compassion, etc. exist in their own eternal realm and act within the non-abstract realm. However, a contradiction arises from this. From their claim it follows that in the absence of people, universals like charity would still exist. Why? Because these traits allegedly exist in an independent abstract dimension. However, this statements is incoherent because charity isn’t actually charitable. Secondly, I don’t see how this abstract dimension could interact with the physical dimension. It just doesn’t make sense. But that’s besides the point. Even if the abstract could interact with the physical dimension how would we know what is ‘good’ or ‘wrong’, since the only thing these abstract ideas could do is simply describe a particular set of actions and not actually oblige us to do anything. Thus, this theory neglects to answer both the meta-physical and normative ethical questions.
In Defense Of Premise 2:
I think it’s important to remember that the burden of proof is on the one that makes claims that are different from our moral intuition. This is to say that any theory that seems to contradict our ethical intuitions needs justification. But, this begs the question, do intuitions actually exist? The answer is yes. There are many different pathways to gaining knowledge and I think one of them is morality. I also think that with every pathway to knowledge there are certain “base beliefs”. These base beliefs range from things like self-awareness, mathematical equations, logical principles, and most importantly, basic moral laws. One might ask, “How do you know such ‘base beliefs’ exist?”. Well, Aristotle seemed to agree with me: “Some, indeed, demand to have the law proved, but this is because they lack education; for it shows lack of education not to know of what we should require proof, and of we should not. For it is quite impossible that everything should have a proof; the process would go on to infinity, so there would be no proof….” (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1006a). If I always had to give justification for my beliefs, then I would have to ad infinitum. Forever. To stop this infinite regress one must appeal to the apparent: intuitions or base beliefs.
Take this conversation:
“What color is that apple?”
“How do you know the apple is red?”
“Because the apple is right in front of me….”
“How do you know the apple is right in front of you?”
“Because I see it….”
“How do you know you see it?”
“Because the I see the physical world and that apple is in the physical world.”
“How do you know you see the physical world?”
It seems I’m stuck. I don’t conclude that I see the physical world based upon any other evidence. The infinite regress seems apparent. We need intuitions; without them we wouldn’t be able to know anything.
So how does this prove that objective morals exist? Well I think goes like this:
(1) If objective morality does not exist, then our moral intuitions do not exist.
(2) Our moral intuitions do exist.
(C1) Therefore, objective morality exists.
We’ve already proven premise (2) of the argument above, so what about (1)? From our argument we see that if our moral intuitions suggested the objectivity morality, then we would observe that our intuitions would be things that would only make sense if morality were objective. I think that our intuitions of justice, fairness, tolerance, charity, etc. all point to objective morality because these things can’t exist in a relative world. There is no justice if nobody is wrong. There is no tolerance if you have no obligation to respect each other’s beliefs. The list goes on and on. Our base beliefs only make sense in an objective world and until proven wrong (since the burden of proof is on the opposing side) we have every reason to believe so.
We can be sure that we cannot truly be good without a law giver. On the other hand, if we do believe that moral values and duties are objective and intuitional, that provides moral grounds for believing in God.
It interests me how the alleged “New Atheists” have rejected God as the source of moral objectivity. Richard Taylor on the subject writes, “The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, not noticing that, in casting God aside, they have also abolished the conditions of meaningfulness for moral right and wrong as well. Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things are war, or abortion, or the violation of certain human rights, are ‘morally wrong,’ and they imagine that they have said something true and significant.Educated people do not need to be told, however, that questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion…. Contemporary writers in ethics, who blithely discourse upon moral right and wrong and moral obligation without any reference to religion, are really just weaving intellectual webs from thin air; which amounts to saying that they discourse without meaning.”
Being a Christian teen is hard. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m pretty sure you’ve noticed that the majority of youth culture is pretty hostile towards Christian principles. Even supposed “Christian” teens completely ignore what the Bible has to say. People who do hold true to Christianity get mocked, ridiculed, etc. Why? I think it’s because we do too much preachin’ and not enough teachin’. And by preachin’ I mean that we do an awful amount of hellfire and brimstone. We’ve heard way too many conversations like: “Why ought I believe in Christianity?” “Because your going to hell! Hurry! You’re gonna’ die one day”. All this does is turn people off about Christianity. The solution? Well I think we need to have an understanding of what is right and wrong and how to stand up against false doctrines. We must have an understanding of our own beliefs and the beliefs of others. In fact, there is a name for this: apologetics (and no, this doesn’t mean to apologize for your faith). It’s how we either intelligently defend our views or deconstruct others. Most of you might be asking: “How in the world am I gonna’ be able to that?”, you’re in luck because that’s the whole point of this blog. Hey! Can you comment below name some objections that pose the most trouble in your Christian faith?
Doubt that you have to be able to defend your faith? Let’s see what the Bible has to say:
Titus 2:6-8: Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
1 Timothy 4:12: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.