Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is the Possible Presidential Candidate, Ben Carson, Dangerous?

Somehow I'd not heard about Ben Carson till very recently (my wife was shocked when I told her this), either that or I'd forgotten.  But just the other day I heard an advertisement backing him for President and since then have read or listened to several attacks by liberals against him.  "So who is this guy?" I wondered.  He must be dangerous for liberals to be attacking him this early, since he's practically a political nobody.

Ah, now I get it.  He's BLACK and CONSERVATIVE.  He IS dangerous.  For there's little liberals fear more politically than if blacks start voting Republican.  And from what little I've read or heard so far, the guy is sharp and would make quite a candidate.

According to one of MSNBC's liberal fools, Libiot Toure, the fact that Republicans are backing him is just evidence of their racism.  Rush Limbaugh has a nice reply, but the best response I'd offer is Adam Carolla on reparations (prompted by the infamous article in The Atlantic) and America electing a black president.  Watch the whole video (it's worth it) but only if you're prepared for a few choice words.

If Carson can handle himself in a Presidential debate like he does here, then the liberal establishment should definitely be afraid:

I'm a Cynic of This Study on Cynicism's Link to Dementia

This study is an excellent example of why I tend to be cynical of headlines and reporters telling me about health and science.  One might easily get the impression that one should shun philosophy (and religion?) from the first line of the article:
"Cynics are three times more likely to develop dementia than those who have faith in humanity, a study has shown."
Wow.  A study has SHOWN that cynics are three times more likely to develop dementia than those who have faith in humanity.  I'm interested!  Please say more...
Academics asked nearly 1,500 people with an average age of 71 to fill out a questionnaire to measure their levels of cynicism.
They were asked how much they agreed with statements such as “I think most people would lie to get ahead”, “it is safer to trust nobody” and “most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it.”
So having common sense and believing in original sin will turn you crazy, eh?  Let's read on....
Those taking part were monitored for eight years, during which time 46 of them were diagnosed with dementia. 
Well, 46 out of 1500 ain't bad.  I'm liking my chances!!
Of the 164 people with high levels of cynicism, 14 people developed dementia, compared with nine of the 212 people with low levels of cynicism.
14 out of 164 out of 1500??  Compared to nine out of 212 out of 1500???  [Why write out 'nine' instead of using the numeral '9' when all the other numbers are expressed as numerals?] So FIVE more people in the cynical group developed dementia. How do the moderately cynical fair, I wonder?  How about a healthy dose of cynicism?  I'm REALLY liking my chances!

The last sentence of the article doesn't exactly reflect the first sentence:
Dr. Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “While this research attempts to make a link between higher levels of cynical distrust and risk of dementia, there were far too few people in this study that actually developed dementia to be able to draw any firm conclusions.
WHY did I waste me time reading this article?  And why did YOU waste your time reading this blog post?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

An Apologetics Reading List

I have enough respect for the McGrew's to recommend this list from Timothy McGrew as worthy of consideration (even though I've never read anything by some of the authors):

Conversational Apologetics

Greg Koukl, Tactics
Norman and David Geisler, Conversational Evangelism
Randy Newman, Questioning Evangelism
Randy Newman, Corner Conversations

General Bible and Historical Background

*James M. Gray, Primers of the Faith, chs. 1‐32 (Part I)
* Samuel P. Tregelles, Historic Evidence of the New Testament
E. M. Blaiklock, The Compact Handbook of New Testament Life
E. M. Blaiklock, The Century of the New Testament
Paul Maier, In the Fullness of Time
* G. Rawlinson, The Historical Evidences of the Truth of the Scripture Records, ch. 7
* Robert Baker Girdlestone, The Building Up of the Old Testament
* Thomas Cooper, The Bridge of History over the Gulf of Time
* Isaac Taylor, History of the Transmission of Ancient Books to Modern Times
* Isaac Taylor, The Process of Historical Proof
* William Binnington Boyce, Introduction to the Study of History

Basic Reasoning Skills in Apologetics

Peter Kreeft, Between Heaven and Hell
Peter Kreeft, The Best Things in Life
Peter Kreeft, The Unaborted Socrates
Peter Kreeft, Socrates Meets Jesus

Positive Biblical Apologetics: Minimal Facts Argument

* C. S. Lewis, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism”
William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, chs. 7 and 8
Terry Miethe, ed., Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?
Copan and Tacelli, eds., Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment?
Komoszewski, Sawyer and Wallace, Reinventing Jesus
Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus
N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God
William Lane Craig, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus
Mike Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach

Positive Biblical Apologetics: Eyewitness Testimony Argument

* C. S. Lewis, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism”
J. W. Montgomery, Where is History Going?, chs. 2 and 3 (Also published separately asJesus Christ and History)
* Edmund Bennett, The Four Gospels from a Lawyer’s Standpoint
* F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
* William Paley, A View of the Evidences of Christianity, Parts 1 and 2
* Thomas Cooper, The Bridge of History over the Gulf of Time
* John James Blunt, Undesigned Coincidences, Part 4
Jeffrey Sheller, Is the Bible True?
Mark D. Roberts, Can We Trust the Gospels?
Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses
Eddy and Boyd, The Jesus Legend
Komoszewski, Sawyer and Wallace, Reinventing Jesus
Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus
N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God
* T. H. Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, 8th ed., vols. 1 and 2
* Nathaniel Lardner, Credibility of the Gospel History, 17 vols.

Positive General Apologetics: Orientation

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Craig and Copan, eds., Contending with Christianity’s Critics
Sennett and Groothuis, eds., In Defense of Natural Theology: A Post‐Humean Assessment
Timothy Keller, The Reason for God
Craig and Moreland, eds., The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology

Positive General Apologetics: The Kalam Argument

* William Lane Craig, “The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe”
William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, chs. 3 and 4
William Lane Craig, The Kalam Cosmological Argument
Craig and Smith, Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology
William Lane Craig, The Cosmological Argument from Plato to Leibniz

Positive General Apologetics: The Origin of Life

Stephen Meyer, “The Explanatory Power of Design,” in Mere Creation
Dean Overman, A Case Against Accident and Self‐organization
 J. P. Moreland, ed., The Creation Hypothesis, ch. 5
C. Thaxton, W. Bradley, and R. Olsen, The Mystery of Life’s Origin
Robert Shapiro, Origins: A Sceptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth
Stephen Meyer, Signature in the Cell

Positive General Apologetics: Intelligent Design

† Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, chs. 1‐4
J. P. Moreland, ed., The Creation Hypothesis, Intro. and chs. 1 & 2
Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box
Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution
William Dembski, ed., Mere Creation
Jon Wells, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design
* Tim McGrew, “Toward a Rational Reconstruction of Design Inferences”

Positive General Apologetics: The Moral Argument

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book I
* Paul Copan, “God, Naturalism, and Morality,” from The Future of Atheism
C. E. M. Joad, The Recovery of Belief, ch. 3
Mark Linville, “The Moral Poverty of Evolutionary Naturalism,” in Contending with Christianity’s Critics

Defensive General Apologetics: The Challenge of Naturalistic Science

C. S. Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study, ch. 3
John Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?
* Arthur James Balfour, The Foundations of Belief, 8th ed.
Rodney Holder, Nothing but Atoms and Molecules?

Defensive General Apologetics: The Problem of Evil

† David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Section X
William Lane Craig, Hard Questions, Real Answers, chs. 4 and 5
C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Defensive General Apologetics: The Objection to Miracles

† David Hume, “Of Miracles”
* William Adams, An Essay in Answer to Mr. Hume’s Essay on Miracles, 3rd ed.
* George Campbell, A Dissertation on Miracles
Habermas and Geivett, eds., In Defense of Miracles
* John Douglas, The Criterion
C. S. Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study
* Tim McGrew, “Miracles,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Defensive General Apologetics: Other General Objections

Paul Copan, When God Goes to Starbucks
William Lane Craig, Hard Questions, Real Answers
Craig and Copan, eds., Contending with Christianity’s Critics
* John Leland, A View of the Principal Deistical Writers, 2 vols.
Geisler and Brooks, When Skeptics Ask

Defensive Biblical Apologetics

* Richard Watson, An Apology for the Bible
Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster?
* Joseph Butler, The Analogy of Religion
* William Paley, A View of the Evidences of Christianity, Part III
* B. F. Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament
K√∂stenberger and Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy
Eddy and Boyd, The Jesus Legend
* Haley, An Examination of the Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible
* Tuck, A Handbook of Biblical Difficulties, 2 vols.
* John Thein, The Bible and Rationalism, 4 vols.
* T. H. Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, 8th ed., vols. 1 and 2
Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties
Geisler and Howe, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties
Michael Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, 5 vols.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Will There Be BBQ in Heaven?

Is there not only hope of a resurrected body, but hope of a resurrected pig that we can eat a second time?  That is one thing that Memorial Day got me to thinking about.

Vegetarian Stephen Webb argues that there will be animals in heaven but we will not eat them.  Bill Arnold is not quite so sure.

Let's go ahead and suppose for the sake of argument that passages like Isaiah 11:6 rule out all death in heaven, including animal death.

Still, there is hope.  Perhaps a deep sleep will fall upon a pig, we will be able to take out one of its ribs, close up the flesh, and form a whole rack from the one rib.  The pig will then grow a new rib, sleeping soundly all the while.

How fanciful is that story, really?  If we can grow meat which tastes like 'an animal protein cake' from stem cells, surely we could make tasty ribs in heaven (presuming there are some scientists in heaven; the Bible is less clear about that).

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Gun Culture or Liberal Culture and the Recent Shooting

I just watched the 6 minute YouTube video of Elliot Rodger's statement leading up to his murderous rampage, and I read parts of his manifesto.  One thing that is clear is that Rodger had become thoroughly evil.  I'm sure we're about to hear another deluge of babble about our gun culture, so this is timely:

The Problem: Gun Culture or Liberal Culture?

This is a repost, slightly redacted, from 2012 to help stem the tsunami of folderol sure to wash over us from the orifices of the mindless gun-grabbing Left in the wake of the Isla Vista rampage.
Without wanting to deny that there is a 'gun culture' in the USA, especially in the so-called red states, I would insist that the real problem is our liberal culture.  Here are four characteristics of liberal culture that contribute to violence of all kinds, including gun violence.
1. Liberals tend to have a casual attitude toward crime. 
This is well-documented by Theodore Dalrymple.  Here is a list of his articles. No Contrition, No Penalty is a short read.  See also my Crime and Punishment category.
It is interesting to note that Connecticut, the state in which the Newtown massacre occurred, has recently repealedthe death penalty, and this after the unspeakably brutal Hayes-Komisarjevsky home invasion in the same state.
One of the strongest voices against repealing the death penalty has been Dr. William Petit Jr., the lone survivor of a 2007 Cheshire home invasion that resulted in the murders of his wife and two daughters.
The wife was raped and strangled, one of the daughters was molested and both girls were left tied to their beds as the house was set on fire.
The two men convicted of the crime, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, are currently on death row.
Anyone who cannot appreciate that a crime like this  deserves the death penalty is morally obtuse.  But not only are liberals morally obtuse, they are contemptibly stupid in failing to understand that one of the main reasons people buy guns is to protect themselves from the criminal element, the criminal element that liberals coddle.  If liberals were serious about wanting to reduce the numbers of guns in civilian hands, they would insist on swift and sure punishment in accordance with the self-evident moral principle, "The punishment must fit the crime,"  which is of course not to be confused with lex talionis, "an eye for an eye."  Many guns are purchased not for hunting or sport shooting but for protection against criminals.  Keeping and bearing arms carries with it a grave responsibility and many if not most gun owners would rather not be so burdened.  Gun ownership among women is on the upswing, and it is a safe bet that they don't want guns to shoot Bambi.
2. Liberals tend to undermine morality with their opposition to religion. 
Many of us internalized the ethical norms that guide our lives via our childhood religious training. We were taught the Ten Commandments, for example. We were not just taught about them, we were taught them.  We learned them by heart, and we took them to heart. This early training, far from being the child abuse that A. C. Grayling and other militant atheists think it is, had a very positive effect on us in forming our consciences and making  us the basically decent human beings we are. I am not saying that moral formation is possible only within a religion; I am saying that some religions do an excellent job of transmitting and inculcating life-guiding and life-enhancing ethical standards, that moral formation outside of a religion is unlikely for the average person, and that it is nearly impossible if children are simply handed over to the pernicious influences of secular society as these influences are transmitted through television, Internet, video games, and other media.  Anyone with moral sense can see that the mass media have become an open sewer in which every manner of cultural polluter is not only tolerated but promoted.  Those of use who were properly educated way back when can dip into this cesspool without too much moral damage.  But to deliver our children over to it is the real child abuse, pace the benighted Professor Grayling.
The shysters of the ACLU, to take one particularly egregious bunch of destructive leftists, seek to remove every vestige of our Judeo-Christian ethical traditiion from the public square.  I can't begin to catalog all of their antics.  But recently there was the  Mojave cross  incident. It is absurd  that there has been any fight at all over it.  The ACLU,  whose radical lawyers  brought the original law suit, deserve contempt   and resolute opposition.  Of course, I wholeheartedly endorse the initial clause of the First Amendment, to wit, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . ." But it is hate-America leftist extremism on stilts to think that the presence of  that very old memorial cross on a hill  in the middle of nowhere does anything to establish Christianity as the state religion.  I consider anyone who  believes that to be intellectually obtuse and morally repellent.  One has to be highly unbalanced in his thinking to torture such extremist nonsense out of the First Amendment, while missing the plain sense of the Second Amendment, one that even SCOTUS eventually got right, namely, the the right to keep and bear arms is an individual, not a collective, right.
And then there was the business of the tiny cross on the city seal of Los Angeles, a symbol that the ACLU agitated to have removed.   I could continue with the examples, and you hope I won't.
 3. Liberals tend to have low standards, glorify the worthless, and fail to present exemplary human types.
Our contemporary media dreckmeisters apparently think that the purpose of art is to degrade sensibility, impede critical thinking, glorify scumbags, and rub our noses ever deeper into sex and violence. It seems obvious that the liberal fetishization of freedom of expression without constraint or sense of responsibility is part of the problem. But I can't let a certain sort of libertarian or economic conservative off the hook. Their lust for profit is also involved.
What is it that characterizes contemporary media dreck? Among other things, the incessant presentation of  defective human beings as if there are more of them than there are, and as if there is nothing at all wrong with their way of life. Deviant behavior is presented as if it is mainstream and acceptable, if not desirable. And then lame justifications are provided for the presentation: 'this is what life is like now; we are simply telling it like it is.' It doesn't occur to the dreckmeisters that art might have an ennobling function.
The tendency of liberals and leftists is to think that any presentation of choice-worthy goals or admirable
styles of life could only be hypocritical preaching.  And to libs and lefties, nothing is worse than hypocrisy.  Indeed, a good indicator of whether someone belongs to this class of the terminally benighted is whether the person obsesses over hypocrisy and thinks it the very worst thing in the world.  See my category Hypocrisy for elaboration of this theme.
4. Liberals tend to deny or downplay free will, individual responsibility, and the reality of evil.
This is connected with point 2 above, leftist hostility to religion.  Key to our Judeo-Christian tradition is the belief that man is made in the image and likeness of God.  This image is that mysterious power in us called free will.  The secular extremist assault on religion is at the same time an assault on this mysterious power, through which evil comes into the world.
This is a large topic.  Suffice it to say for now that one clear indication of this denial is the bizarre liberal displacement of responsibility for crime onto inaminate objects, guns, as if the weapon, not the wielder, is the source of the evil for which the weapon can be only the instrument.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Should Mark Cuban Get the Donald Sterling Treatment? Notes on Prejudice

Rarely do I disagree with Bill V.  Here is no exception to that rule.  Money quotes:

"The problem is not so much that liberals are stupid, as that they have allowed themselves to be stupefied by that cognitive aberration known as political correctness."
"It is the willful self-enstupidation of liberals that unfits them for the appreciation of such commonsensical points  as I have just reiterated."

Bill Plaschke of the L. A. Times lays into Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, for statements like these:
“I mean, we’re all prejudiced in one way or another,” he said. “If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face – white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere – I’m walking back to the other side of the street.  And the list goes on of stereotypes we all live up to and are fearful of.”
The word 'prejudice' needs analysis.  At a bare minimum, two senses of the term ought to be distinguished.
'Prejudice' could refer to blind prejudice: unreasoning, reflexive (as opposed to reflective) aversion to what is other just because it is other, or an unreasoning pro-attitude toward the familiar just because it is familiar.  We should all condemn blind prejudice, or at least blind prejudice of the aversive sort.  It is execrable to hate a person just because he is of a different color, for example. No doubt, but how many people do that?  How many people who are averse to blacks are averse because of their skin color as opposed to their behavior patterns? Racial prejudice is not, in the main, prejudice based on skin color, but on behavior.
'Prejudice' could also mean 'prejudgment.'   Although blind aversive prejudice is bad, prejudgment is generally good.  We cannot begin our cognitive lives anew at every instant.  We rely upon the 'sedimentation' of past experience.  Changing the metaphor, we can think of prejudgments as distillations from experience.  The first time I 'serve' my cats whisky they are curious.  After that, they cannot be tempted to come near a shot glass of Jim Beam. They distill from their unpleasant olfactory experiences a well-grounded prejudice against the products of the distillery.
My prejudgments about rattlesnakes are in place and have been for a long time.  I don't need to learn about them afresh at each new encounter with one. I do not treat each new one encountered as a 'unique individual,' whatever that might mean.  Prejudgments are not blind, but experience-based, and they are mostly true. The adult mind is not a tabula rasa.  What experience has written, she retains, and that's all to the good.
So there is good prejudice and there is bad prejudice.  The teenager thinks his father prejudiced in the bad sense when he warns the son not to go into certain parts of town after dark.  Later the son learns that the old man was not such a bigot after all: the father's prejudice was not blind but had a fundamentum in re.
But if you stay away from certain parts of town are you not 'discriminating' against them?  Well of course, but not all discrimination is bad. Everybody discriminates.  Liberals are especially discriminating.  The typical Scottsdale liberal would not be caught dead supping in some of the Apache Junction dives I have been found in.  Liberals discriminate in all sorts of ways.  That's why Scottsdale is Scottsdale and not Apache Junction.
Is the refusal to recognize same-sex 'marriage' as marriage discriminatory?  Of course!  But not all discrimination is bad.  Indeed, some is morally obligatory.  We discriminate against  felons when we disallow their possession of firearms.  Will you argue against that on the ground that it is discriminatory? If not, then you cannot cogently argue against the refusal to recognize same-sex 'marriage' on the ground that it is discriminatory.  You need a better argument.  And what would that be?
'Profiling,' like 'prejudice' and 'discrimination,' has come to acquire a wholly negative connotation.  Unjustly.  What's wrong with profiling?  We all do it, and we are justified in doing it.  Consider criminal profiling.
It is obvious that only certain kinds of people commit certain kinds of crimes. Suppose a rape has occurred at the corner of Fifth and Vermouth. Two males are moving away from the crime scene. One, the slower moving of the two, is a Jewish gentleman, 80 years of age, with a chess set under one arm and a copy of Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed under the other. The other fellow, a vigorous twenty-year-old, is running from the scene.
Who is more likely to have committed the rape? If you can't answer this question, then you lack common sense.  But just to spell it out for you liberals: octogenarians are not known for their sexual prowess: the geezer is lucky if he can get it up for a three-minute romp.  Add chess playing and an interest in Maimonides and you have one harmless dude.
Or let's say you are walking down a street in Mesa, Arizona.  On one side of the
street you spy some fresh-faced Mormon youths, dressed in their 1950s attire, looking like little Romneys, exiting a Bible studies class.  On the other side of the street, Hells (no apostrophe!) Angels are coming out of their club house.  Which side of the street would you feel safer on?   On which side will your  concealed semi-auto .45 be more likely to see some use?
Do you struggle over this question?
The problem is not so much that liberals are stupid, as that they have allowed themselves to be stupefied by that cognitive aberration known as political correctness.
Their brains are addled by the equality fetish:  everybody is equal, they think, in every way.  So the vigorous 20-year-old is not more likely than the old man to have committed the rape.  The Mormon and the Hells Angel are equally law-abiding.  And the twenty-something Egyptian Muslim is no more likely to be a terrorist than the Mormon matron from Salt Lake City.
Getting back to Mark Cuban, what he is quoted as saying above makes perfect sense.  His prejudices are reasonable prejudgments.
If you walk like a thug, and talk like a thug, and dress like a thug, and are plastered with tattoos and facial hardware like a thug, then don't be surprised if people give you a wide berth.
It is the willful self-enstupidation of liberals that unfits them for the appreciation of such commonsensical points  as I have just reiterated.