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Monday, October 24, 2011

John Jay on Voting for a Christian

"Interestingly, John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court and co-author of the Federalist Papers, thought a candidate’s religious beliefs should be a primary consideration in voting. Jay wrote, 'It is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.' According to Jay, preferring a Christian candidate is neither bigoted nor unconstitutional" (Jefferies).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Presuppositional Apologetics Refutes Mormon Theology

The Mormon religion cannot be true since it rests on a false view of God. The LDS god, while a man, and even in his god-state, does not predetermine all things (there are many other gods above him; gods who progressed before him; and there are gods that are alongside of him). The Mormon deity does not hold all things together, thus he does not know all possible contingencies, and thus he can speak lies and tell falsehoods. He may, through misconstruing issues, misconceptions, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations, assert that which is false.

The Most High God can never fall into misconceptions, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations since he knows all things and all contingencies. Considering the LDS god can lie, he is not the God of the Bible, ergo he does not exist.

As man is, God once was; As God is, man may become. (Mormon motto: Mormon apostle Lorenzo Snow).

The Mormon may try to deny that his god can presently lie, nonetheless before he progressed into a god the Mormon god was a man and lied in the past as a fallible man.

• The LDS god has lied as a mere man in the past and can tell lies in the future
• The true God cannot lie
• The LDS god is not the true God
• All false gods do not exist
• The LDS god does not exist.

Misconceptions, Misunderstandings, and Misinterpretations

If the god of Mormonism actually existed, he would be ignorant of many things. The lack of complete and perfect knowledge results in misconceptions, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations (just ask any married couple). The triune God transcends time and knows perfectly the past, present, and future. He cannot be surprised by anything and nothing can catch Him off guard. The Most High God, because of His transcendent and perfect perspective, can never stumble into any misconceptions, misunderstandings, or misinterpretations. Not so with the LDS take on their god. The LDS deity, as one who has made mistakes and missteps in the past as a mere human, and presently is limited in space and time, fails to observe and know all things and all possible contingencies. Another problem arises with this god considering he cannot know the past perfectly: for in the past he was just a man. He could not see and understand the past with “equal vividness” as he does the present. The Almighty God has perfect knowledge of the past, present, and future.

The Biblical God has complete and flawless knowledge (Job 11:11, 21:22; James 1:4) and perfect understanding (Job 37:16); this rules out the Mormon notion of God the Father progressing into a god. The true God has infinite knowledge (Psalms 147:5) and unchanging intent (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Malachi 3:6) and possesses certain and absolute understanding and intent (1 Corinthians 14:33; Job 39:18; Amos 5:5). The Mormon version of deity changes and advances into godhood. This clearly demonstrates that the Mormon deity is false due to the fact that in time past, the Mormon God was only a man. Therefore, He was not all-knowing at that moment in his existence. Thereupon He could not have all knowledge then: consequently, He cannot have all knowledge now. And as a mere man he cannot even be a God since he cannot have knowledge of all things at all times. He lacks the knowledge of knowing all things in the past during those particular time periods. Thus the Mormon god is not omniscient, hence he is not God.

Additionally, the Mormon view of deity also could not have complete foreknowledge of future events (before he woke up one day as god). The Bible rebukes the unholy thought that God could ever have been like fallen man. “These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes” (Psalms 50:21). God does not play religious games and detests the doctrines that attempt to lower His being, and exalt sinful men. It is impossible for men to ever understand as God does. This alone refutes the doctrine of men progressing to godhood.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:28).

see the Presuppositional Apologetics book that Refutes Mormonism HERE

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Book of Man: a Review

The Book of Man by William Bennett
Review by Mike Robinson

Conservative leader William Bennett employs anecdotes, essays, historical illustrations, and current outlines in order to teach the reader what it is to be a real man. Forming a man from a boy is more difficult now than ever; numerous men live their lives pursuing vain, empty, and purposeless activities as they often neglect the deep profound things that make one a true man. And in “The Book of Man” Bennett patiently admonishes American men concerning their identity predicament: “We need to bring that word ‘virtues’ back and put the word ‘values’ on the shelf. We have a man problem in American society, and we need to address it.”

“The Book of Man” aims to help teach boys and men crucial lessons on the route to becoming a man.

Bennett adds: “Men are not marrying, not making the commitments in the way at they used to.” “Women have said, women I’ve met, daughters of friends of mine in their 20s and 30s, have said, ‘Where are the men? Where are the men? Where are the men we want to marry, where are the men we want to raise our children with?’”

Bennett employs statistics to make his point: The proportion of women to men at the start of college (55% female, 45 % male) rises by the time of graduation to 62 % female, 38 % male; additionally the difficulty is worse at black colleges, where the graduation proportion is 70 % female, and 30 % male. Men ought to aim to live a more robust life: intellectually, spiritually, and in leadership roles.

Sections consist of:

Man in War
Man at Work
Man in Play, Competition, and Leisure

Man with Woman and Children

Man in Prayer and Reflection
And more.

“We are raising a lot of great boys into men in this society… but we’re not raising enough,” continued Bennett; inasmuch as young men are open to a “dizzying array of confusing signals” from social images elevating “hood culture,” to violence on women, and “the gay culture.” “You have to be taught, you have modeling, you have to have mentors, you have to have men in your lives.”
I received this volume at no cost from the publisher through the BookSneez. It was not a prerequisite to write a positive review.

review by Mike Robinson

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Michael Ruse reviews Sam Harris' Moral Landscape

Non-theist Michael Ruse reviews Sam Harris' Moral Landscape

Some Michael Ruse hi-lights:

This is precisely the debate we are having in America today. There are those, like myself, who think that even if the very rich do get a better quality of life than the rest of us—Mayor Bloomberg flying off in his private jet to Bermuda each weekend to play golf (no Saturday Afternoon at the Met for him!)—the riches should be spread around to give inner-city, single moms a bit more of a break. And there are others, equally in the name of morality, who think that ‘freedom’ trumps everything, and if Bloomberg can make the cash legally then it is his to spend how and where he likes. Single moms will have to do without.

Science alone just cannot do it. It cannot decide questions like these. I don’t know what Harris studied in his philosophy courses as an undergrad at Stanford, but they don’t seem to have penetrated very deeply. He denounces philosophers before him (including myself, I should admit) without really addressing the challenge their arguments pose to his claims.

The trouble is that Harris seems so keen to get to religion that he has little or no time for such conventional academic courtesies. To say that religion is a bit of an obsession for Harris is rather like saying Hitler had a bit of a thing about the Jews. Like Mr. Dick writing about King Charles’ head in David Copperfield, he cannot get away from it. And at times—at many times—his obsession comes across as not just misplaced but thoroughly mean-minded. This is well exemplified by his treatment of Francis Collins, the former director of the Human Genome Project and now the head of the National Institutes of Health in Washington. Harris writes:

In 2006, Collins published a bestselling book, The Language of God, in which he claimed to demonstrate “a consistent and profoundly satisfying harmony” between twenty-first-century science and Evangelical Christianity. The Language of God is a genuinely astonishing book. To read it is to witness nothing less than an intellectual suicide. It is, however, a suicide that has gone almost entirely unacknowledged: the body yielded to the rope; the neck snapped; the breath subsided; and the corpse dangles in ghastly discomposure even now—and yet polite people everywhere continue to celebrate the great man’s health. (160)*

The invective against Collins continues for another fifteen—I kid you not, fifteen—pages.

Also, even though I think that science and religion can be harmonized, I am not sure that Collins shows this successfully. My objection is that in a book on the foundations of ethics it is simply out of place to spend so much time on such a personal attack.

In The Moral Landscape there is not a single mention of Thomism or of the natural law approach. Instead there is personal attack after personal attack. “Is it really wise to entrust the future of biomedical research in the United States to a man who believes that understanding ourselves through science is impossible, while our resurrection from death is inevitable?”

Actually, the answer seems to be that it is wise to do so. Collins has been at the forefront of trying to get restrictions lifted on stem-cell research. However, my real objection is that this kind of stuff has no place in what is supposed to be a serious discussion of the foundations of morality.

If God wanted to destroy New Atheism, getting this book written was a good start. Although, as I said at the beginning, perhaps the first divine move was making Sam Harris so famous he thought he could get away with it.

Instead of Harris' anti-philosophical effort see Truth, Knowledge, and the Reason for God

Richard Dawkins' The Magic of Reality: a WSJ Review

Richard Dawkins Natural Enchantment: A Review Here

A few hi-lights from Meagan Cox Gurdon's review:

"The facts of the real world as understood through the methods of science," Mr. Dawkins explains in "The Magic of Reality," expose us to "an inspiring beauty which is all the more magical because it is real and because we can understand how it works."

-- [notice how often the anti-Magical atheist employs the term and concept of magic in his work.]

The Magic of Reality

By Richard Dawkins
Casey Luskin adds: "Why the Obsession with Occult-like Imagery? One odd aspect of the book is its apparent obsession with occult-style images. A friend and I went through The Magic of Reality and together we counted over a dozen pages with pictures of demons, devils, and the like. The one above is pretty tame compared to other stuff in the book. These aren't cute cartoony-devils -- they're probably enough to give the average kid nightmares. And I say this as someone who loves sci-fi / fantasy media and has a pretty strong stomach for this sort of thing."

"Depending on your ideological leanings, right now you might be thinking either "Sweet!," or "Uh, that's a little weird." As much as I enjoy science fiction and fantasy, I'm definitely leaning toward the latter end of the spectrum. After all, if you wanted to give your kid a fun book about science, why would you want it to be full of creepy pictures of demons and devils? I'm also left wondering: Why is Dawkins apparently so obsessed with occult topics and iconography?"

Luskin continues: "Dawkins Overplays his Case for Common Ancestry. Apart from miracles, another area where Dawkins rules out contrary evidence is when he declares the "fact" of common descent. According to The Magic of Reality, it's "a fact beyond all doubt" that "we share an ancestry with every other species of animal and plant on this planet." (p. 52) Dawkins explains: "We know this because some genes are recognizably the same genes in all living creatures, including animals, plants and bacteria."

"By this logic, when we find the same programming code in Windows 95 and Windows XP, then it should be "a fact beyond all doubt" that the two operating systems evolved through unguided descent with modification from a common ancestor. But of course that's silly. They share similarities because they had a common intelligent designer, or design team of intelligent designing agents. Dawkins simply ignores alternative explanations like intelligent design."

Dawkins continues:

"And, above all, the genetic code itself -- the dictionary by which all genes are translated -- is the same across all living creatures that have ever been looked at." (p. 52)
"Aside from the fact that this claim isn't true, again, it raises the question of why merely sharing common genes necessarily demonstrates common ancestry as "a fact beyond all doubt"? After all, intelligent agents regularly re-use parts that work in different designs, so the fact that living species share so many functional genes could point to their common design just as well as their common descent. Add to that all the many conflicts between gene-based phylogenetic trees, and it is clear that the genetic data don't establish common descent as "a fact beyond all doubt." Common design is an equally good explanation."

"Following his usual practice of non-disclosure, Dawkins tells kids about none of these problems. Instead, he suggests they take comfort in the following "wonderful thought":

"We are all cousins. Your family tree includes not just obvious cousins like chimpanzees and monkeys but also mice, buffaloes, iguanas, wallabies, snails, dandelions, golden eagles, mushrooms, whales, wombats, and bacteria. All are our cousins. Every last one of them. Isn't that a far more wonderful thought than any myth? And the most wonderful of all is that we know for certain it is literally true." (p. 52)
"Let me get this straight: We're not supposed to look carefully at all the evidence, but instead should think about "wonderful thoughts" like common descent because it "for certain is literally true" and "a fact beyond all doubt"? Dawkins sounds more and more like the superstitious religionists he's always telling us deserve our contempt."
There are Better Science Books for Kids Out There

"When I was a kid, my parents filled my bookshelves with books about science. From The Way Things Work to the Eyewitness Book Series and many other lesser-known titles, science-related books fascinated me. If you want your kid to learn about the fascinating world of science, there are much better books out there than The Magic of Reality. So here's my own "wonderful thought" to leave you with: Few people will be buying their kids The Magic of Reality for Christmas or Hanukkah this year, because most who would like this book probably wouldn't celebrate religious holidays."
Free Press, 271 pages, $29.99

A crusading atheist, Mr. Dawkins has ridden his hobbyhorse into the children's section of the bookstore. There is no doubt that he hopes to relieve young readers of any primitive vestigial religious belief to which they might cling.

In each chapter, dramatized by Dave McKean's colorful graphic artwork, the author recounts the "made-up" and "fun" stories of various religious traditions. We are invited to smile at the idea of miracles and to regard as charmingly quaint such colorful individuals as the Hopi spider-woman goddess, the Tasmanian god Dromerdeener and the famous "Jewish preacher" who turned water into wine. Mr. Dawkins ranges widely across all manner of religious belief, so it is worth noting that he never mentions Muhammad or Islam. Perhaps he did not want to offend.

His tone throughout alternates between real delight over how things work and avuncular pity for the people who persist in seeing an author behind the machinery of the universe. Mr. Dawkins is rather like a subversive relative who comes to dinner and, while father is banging on about the Divine Plan, catches the attention of the teenagers at the table and rolls his eyes. There is no plan, winks Mr. Dawkins, nor any divinity. There is just the "magic" of the universe unfolding. If that is the view you wish your children to have of the cosmos, then "The Magic of Reality" will suit you very well.

[Save your money and take your kid to the zoo, read Darwin, or take an intro to philosophy class: Dawkins obviously didn't attend his].

see the book that teaches Children critical thinking skills as they learn how to contend for God's existence: Who Made Truth? Kids Can Prove God Exists