June 17, 2011

From Atheism and Witchcraft to Christ

The librarian started sending me a list of all the bestselling books in the world and I would check out the ones that I wanted to read and I kept noticing that the Bible was the bestselling book in the world. So I decided to read it, not to become a Christian but to disprove it. I thought that if there was a God, He was mean and I didn’t want to do anything with Him because my life up to that point had been a total disaster and I blamed God.
Read the rest of the article here, Horatio.

June 16, 2011

Some Victories Regarding Christian Discrimination

After yesterday's post, I thought you might like some good news about the battles Christians face regarding discrimination and persecution.

Medina Valley, Texas — The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned U.S. District Court Judge Fred Biery’s ruling that banned an official invocation, benediction, or any message that can be considered a prayer at Medina Valley School District’s commencement ceremonies.
“We are not persuaded that plaintiffs have shown that they are substantially likely to prevail on the merits, particularly on the issue that the individual prayers or other remarks to be given by students at graduation are, in fact, school sponsored," wrote the 5th Circuit Court.
Read more about the Medina Valley, Texas appeal here.

Houston, Texas — A Houston pastor got to pray in the name of Jesus at a Memorial Day event in Houston, fulfilling a wish that took a lawsuit and a federal judge to make happen.

Scott Rainey, lead pastor at the Living Word Church of the Nazarene, prayed Monday morning at the Houston National Cemetery invoking the name of Jesus Christ. He was able to recite his prayer in full during the ceremony to honor fallen U.S. soldiers.

Read more about the Houston ruling here

I won't crow too loudly about the victories, because there is so much discrimination running rampant all over the country. But I'm glad to see that some people still have a bit of sense.

June 14, 2011

Logic Lessons: Appeal to Authority

This article is a bit tricky because there are gray areas. 

The fallacy of Appeal to Authority (sometimes called argumentum ad verecundiam) can be rather obvious. It can be like children arguing, "Plumbers have secret hiding places for guns in their shoes. The guy at the newsstand said so!" If "the guy at the newsstand" is not a former plumber revealing well-guarded secrets to kids, he is not an authority to which they can appeal. In the simplest sense, argumentum ad verecundiam appears when the "authority" is discussing something outside his or her field of expertise. 
When zoologist Richard Dawkins says, "They believe this because they rate a particular bronze age origin myth more highly than all the scientific evidence in the world. It is only one of literally thousands of such myths from around the world, but it happened, by a series of historical accidents, to become enshrined in a book — Genesis.…the fact that half of Americans take Genesis literally is nothing less than an educational scandal", he is merely expressing an ill-founded opinion because he is not qualified to make such assertions. If he was making a remark about zoology, that would be a different matter.

Polycarp. His name does not
mean "many fish".

Christians have done this as well. For instance, "The Pre-Tribulation Rapture cannot be a valid doctrine because it does not appear in the writings of the church fathers". This an Appeal to Authority because the church fathers deserve a great deal of respect, but they were not writing Scripture. (It also leans a bit toward "argument from silence", but we'll deal with that one another time.) In this area, it does not matter whether or not the church fathers wrote on the subject.

A gray area can happen when people will use an authority on a subject as if he trumped all others. For instance, Finkelstein changes the dates for archaeological research on the Bible. He presents his case as if his was the only view, conveniently disregarding the views of other, more qualified archaeologists. But Mr. Awful Bitter takes his "authoritative" findings and presents them in an "argument" as if Finkelstein's remarks were the ultimate authority.
Authority must be used carefully. In some instances, the remarks of the authority can result in "case closed" because Joe Expert gives a definitive answer. More often, however, someone's expertise can be used to give weight to an argument, and the discussion goes on from there. 

Avoid going generic. "Scientists say/believe" is not very impressive, capice?

Be careful of a few things. First, simply because someone quotes an expert (someone who is actually skilled on the subject in question) does not necessarily mean that argumentum ad verecundiam is taking place. Second, depending on the situation, your expert may not have a Master's Degree in the subject, but may demonstrate good knowledge on the subject. Take that on a "case by case" basis. Third, citing experts can easily be used as a substitute for actual thinking, and may as well be an Appeal to Authority when practiced.

Now if you'll excuse me, my plumber is going to advise me on my new gun. He knows more about the Walther P-99 than I do. And we'll discuss some theology, because I am more skilled in that area than he is. But I won't tell him about his stock options!

The Homosexual Agenda and the US Military

Grab your thinking cap Poindexter, as we are going to cover some territory on this one. The subjects in this article lend themselves to straying off in strange tangents, but I’ll do my best to keep on message.             
At the end of its lame-duck session last year, the historically inept, treasonous, and corrupt 111th US Congress repealed DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell). The acronym DADT is a misleading construct coined by a GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) friendly media. DADT was not merely about not asking, and not telling, it was a law that prohibited homosexuals from openly serving in the US armed forces.

The marginally less despicable 112th US Congress has carried on from where the 111th left off, and is moving ahead with the process of openly integrating homosexuals into the US military. Marines are already going through “gay sensitivity training,” and it was announced recently that Navy chaplains would wed gay couples (jumping the gun it appears—the decision was later reversed).

Why the rush? Why this extremely expensive and disruptive campaign to make the US military homosexually compliant, during tough economic times, and a world-wide war against Islamists? After all, homosexuals account for, at most, around 3% of the population.

Don't give me that look, Sweetums. Read the rest of the article here

June 12, 2011

Atheism is a Paper Tiger

You’ll forgive me if I am a bit snarky, but I’m not going to pull any punches. You’ve been warned. (This is also going to be somewhat link-heavy; to really follow along you might have to follow me around the internet. I will also be wordy… pack a lunch.) I have two main points. First, atheism is a paper tiger. Second, the real threat to Christianity is not found outside the church, but from within. I suppose the first bleeds into the latter in a way, but they are somewhat separate points.
Now by atheism I am referring, for the sake of this post, to popular atheism such as you’ll hear from the average person, advocated in comments on facebook, the same  kind that’s advocated by the popular atheist evangelists like Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, and Dawkins. These guys are not sophisticated thinkers. They are not philosophers and they frankly, don’t even care enough to do any homework on what they speak on. The whole sorry bunch should have stuck to Dawkins’s wise decision to not publicly defend himself (see here: Dawkins is too busy to debate Craig). Craig has systematically destroyed all of his intellectual challengers. Even the honest atheists say as much. Take this blog post for example.
On second thought, how about if you just read the entire article here?

Atheists Are Irrational

Another "See, I told you so!" moment for me. Re-posting.

Shariamerica: The Establishing of a Religion?

Subscribe in a reader