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Friday, February 28, 2014

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Yes, school administrators do have discretion to limit symbolic speech of students, if that speech is disruptive, or has no obvious connection to educational objectives. In this situation, students wearing American flags to subtly protest Mexican ones on Cinco de Mayo are disrupting things (and being jerks).

4. Besides, Cinco de Mayo is awesome. Mexican patriotism gives us an excuse to eat chips and salsa, watch great boxing matches, and drink beer. There might be some downsides to this multiculturalism deal, but this isn't one.

3. To shift gears a bit, how do you get a transcendental universal morality from a natural process? That's my challenge to your atheism, dude. I'm not saying you're immoral; quite the opposite. In fact, that ought to be the basis to re-visit your naturalist assumption.

2. Nominalism, taken to its logical conclusion, ends in "might makes right."

1. All of this leads me to my unavoidable conclusion: The consent of the governed is not in itself sufficient to secure the common good. Sorry, America.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

SB 1062 in AZ.

I read the text. I understand that the "optics" are bad with this bill, but it's well-written. Which is not to say I agree with it; I don't have a strong opinion. I can say that the definitions are clear, and the intent is also clear. The main thing it does, or so it appears, is equal out the burden of proof in a religious liberty case. The religious practitioner must show that being compelled to take a certain action violates his religious convictions. It cannot simply be asserted. On the other hand, the government must show a compelling interest to override, or "burden," an individual's free exercise.

I can see why certain activists are angry about it; it broadly defines who may make a claim under Arizona's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (Or, who could "qualify.") Unlike the HHS mandate, religious businesses, churches, individuals, etc. may all make a claim under the Act. They must prove their rights were or would be violated, but there will be no need to request exemptions, if this emendation is enacted into law.

Personally, I don't see what the fuss is about.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. It's not a cheap shot, Mike. If there are transcendentals, there must be a God.

4. If we can speak of an "unjust law" without being subjective, then Natural Law is real, and there must be a God.

3. Positivism, or Natural Law theism. You pick.

2. I'm no philosopher, really, but Kant's "oughts" come from nowhere.

1. I just don't believe the dignity of persons should be left to the whim of a majority.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Dispatch From The Bad Arguments Department

An atheist news story blog post thing was making the rounds yesterday, which made the following logical argument, in substance:

A Christian has failed my completely arbitrary standard for goodness and justice.

Also, he fails his own moral code.

Therefore, God does not exist.

I'm no logic wizard, but that's a non sequitur to make all non sequiturs look like a quirky German band that's opening up for David Hasselhoff. It's emotionally appealing, and it may be a good charge to make on a personal level, depending. It's hard to accept God's claims on your life if His ambassadors are evil. But that's just it: He's either real, or not. If He is, he's not going to disappear into non-existence by your refusal to acknowledge Him. That should be fairly obvious.

Augmenting Your Theism

Many, if not most atheists are quite intelligent. No, seriously. But atheism in most forms is completely indefensible, as an intellectual matter. We'll argue that later. Realize that Deism doesn't really matter, either. If it's true, it doesn't have an impact on us, because God won't intervene, and He'd be completely unknowable, to creatures so limited.

So theism axiomatically means a personal God. So, the only questions are, "What is the content and location/means of God's revelation?" See how we get there? We know by reason that God must be one, because two supernatural beings sharing the stage as it were, means one is not God. Something caused by something else can't be the Creator of the universe, no matter how far it is above humans.

If God is out there, and He communicates, you have to find Him. Do the terms "good" and "evil" refer to real things? If yes, then God must be all-good. Goodness itself. That would mean evil is the lack of some good that ought to be there. Evil has no being in itself; it couldn't. God is the Source of all Being. So an evil person or supernatural being was supposed to be good. The really hard mystery is, "Why does Goodness permit evil to exist?" But that sort of answers itself, doesn't it? If He is Goodness, God permits evil for some purpose of His goodness. In humility, we have to say we won't see it till all is revealed. It still sucks.

Still haven't opened a religious text of any kind. Cool, huh?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You Don't Seriously Believe That

I have heard some form of this argument over and over: "We don't need absolute certainty in religious doctrine, and it is inappropriate to seek it." This needs to be called out as a subtle form of religious indifferentism. If the man's lack of certitude is at all related to his creatureliness or original sin (in the latter case, excepting Jesus and Mary, if you don't mind) then it applies to all religious claims equally. Christianity happened here, in the real world. The Incarnation is the guarantor that our faith is not fideistic; it depends on the credibility of the witnesses, one of which is God, who raised the Incarnate Word to new life after death.

It's been the fashion to deny that the visible community acts as a preserver of particular dogma, but we know by experience this is false. If you walk into a Presbyterian church, ordinarily, that community has distinctives that make it what it is. In other words, it's a theological heuristic. I'm simply giving people the benefit of the doubt: if they hold some idea, especially in regard to religion, we take them at their word they believe it's true, unless they say otherwise. It's not objectionable that they believe doctrine y as opposed to doctrine x; it's just foolish to do it without a reason. Worse still, it's foolish to deny the need for dogmatic certainty out of fear of who knows what. Because this is God, we need stronger reasons than preference. That doesn't end the discussion, but it should murder this stupid postmodern notion that we don't need infallibility. I love Newbigin, but he was dead wrong. Jimmy Hoffa dead wrong. He's re-opening the liberal Protestant gate back to naturalist atheism, and some of you Reformed are doing it for pointless reasons. If I may be perfectly frank. The theology of encounter and immanence isn't wholly meritless, but it's dangerously subjective, if not anchored in the real. "Two Kingdoms" circles back and kisses William James, unwittingly, also.

Arguing With Atheists

5. We're going to have to define what we mean by, "good without God." Most theologians (even hacks like me) might well say that a moral code need not be joined as one with religious doctrine. But philosophically, if God is the First Cause, the ground of all being, then I'd say you can't be good without God in another sense, because you wouldn't be at all without Him.

4. I would agree that the fact the Earth is "fitted" for life doesn't prove anything. But I can hardly blame the pious for saying, "That's good enough for me."

3. You'll have to forgive the political scientist here, but the nature of law and the basis for its authority is really important, and it's one time that I'm unashamed to make a "slippery slope" argument. If law emerges by consensus, (positivism) then the only basis for the achievement of that consensus is power. Yikes. Even if one's intentions appear benign, even you cannot be blind to the endgame.

2. If math isn't a real science, as you said last week, you can't use it to disprove theism. Just sayin.'

1. I find secular humanism kind of ironic, since the basis of all of humanism's talk of "rights" is the concept of "person", which originated within Judeo-Christianity.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

5 Signs You Are In Graduate School

5. Reaction to all sporting events: "Oh, yeah. That happened."

4. You footnote your phone conversations.

3. You think a Tic-Tac and a Coke is a solid meal.

2. You have two cats named, "Due Date" and "Extension".

1. You can't answer the question, "How are you?" because you are still discerning the "with-respect-to-whatness" of it. Viva Captain Jack!