Monday, January 15, 2018

The "I" Epidemic and Divorce

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

One of the Biggest Challenges of Contemporary Christianity

Suppose a buddy pointed to a couple of really heavy metal bars, and said "Hey, why don't you grab these heavy things and lift them up, put them down, repeat these steps a couple dozen times, and consequently suffer some ridiculous soreness afterwards!" If I knew nothing about weightlifting and its health benefits, I'd probably reply, "Hey, why don't you go to hell?" If, however, my buddy explained how weight-lifting strengthens bone density, burns fat, improves sleep (among so many other things), then I'd realize that the benefits outweigh the costs.

The first scenario represents our current understanding of the many "rules" of Christianity, especially as they relate to sex. The challenge of contemporary Christianity isn't simply to enumerate its rules, but to explain why they're necessary. The problem in meeting this challenge, of course, is that many Christians, themselves, have forgotten how compliance with these rules prepares one for the ineffable joy that we all seek.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Modest is Hottest

Encouraging women to dress modestly doesn’t excuse sex crime any more than urging people to stay away from a dangerous street excuses mugging.

Academic research (not to mention common sense) points to the role that modest dressing plays in reducing - though not eliminating - the likelihood of falling victim to sexual crime. In Vali and Rizzo’s apparently well-cited 1991 study, a large majority of psychiatrists expressed the belief that revealing attire puts young women at risk of sex crimes. Numerous studies have shown that people infer (correctly or otherwise) sexual information about a woman from her dressing style (e.g., see Lennon et al. 2017). I do know of one study - a 2010 survey of Israeli college students - that seems to contradict what I’m arguing. Moor finds no significant relationship between dressing style and sexual victimization. However, setting aside the question of whether these findings hold relevance for Americans, it’s noteworthy that victims were evidently not asked about their attire at the time of their victimization.

Sex crime is one of many issues that highlights the frequent tension between freedom and safety, forcing each of us to decide which of these two should weigh more heavily. I personally choose a woman’s safety over her freedom to dress immodestly. In many regards (pornography being another example), "sexual freedom" endangers women, plain and simple.  

To put it boldly, I, a social conservative, just might be a stronger proponent of women's safety than today's feminists.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Another Foolish Atheist Meme

Here's another absurd meme.

There are times at which I think that the so-called "new atheists" should first be introduced to logic before the Logos.

Memes like this betray ignorance not only of religion, but also of the kind of logic on which sound science depends. To test a theory correctly, the scientist must ensure that there's test validity; that is, he must ensure that his test accurately measures what it’s intended to measure. By the same exact logic, if one wishes to "measure" a religion's validity, he must first "operationalize" it correctly. That is, he must understand what a religion actually teaches before he sets out to evaluate the teaching. The "new atheists" fail to do this at nearly every turn.

What religion teaches the false dichotomy that a disease is cured by either God or man? At the most, you’d need Wikipedia - certainly not a theology degree - to learn that Christians believe that God normally works through his creation, even the worst of it (after all, their own scriptures record that God's will to suffer on our behalf was partially accomplished through the treachery of one of his very own disciples). When you hear someone say, “Thank God,” do you assume that he’s claiming to have witnessed God appear and directly benefit him in some way? Of course not. Christians (and I imagine adherents of most faiths) believe that all good things come from God, either directly or (in most cases) indirectly.

Monday, October 9, 2017

On the Apparent Contradiction Between the Human and Divine Wills

God does not predestine people to be either good or evil. What he does predestine, it seems to me, is the spatio-temporal placement of good and evil people so as to ensure the fulfillment of his divine plan.

Herein, moreover, lies the key to solving the apparent paradox between free will and there being a divine plan. Suppose I decide to throw a party. I would choose to invite those who are likely to contribute to its fun, and exclude those who are not. In doing so, I would deprive no one of his freedom to either spread joy or kill it; I would simply be using my limited power to situate joyful and joyless people in such a way as to render my intended outcome - i.e., a joyous party - more likely.

Few people will think it extraordinary if my plan succeeds. Why, then, do many atheists see a contradiction between free will and there being a divine plan? If we posit a God who is omniscient and omnipotent, then we should have no difficulty in understanding how he could have an even clearer foreknowledge of those who will use their freedom to contribute to his intended outcome, as well as an even greater power to ensure that they are situated at the right place and time to cooperate with him in fulfilling his divine plan.