Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Atheist Debates

Since the boom of the New Atheist, several have taken it upon themselves to debate men like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Shermer, and others. And so, I would like to post some of those debates that can be found online.This is no an exhaustive list, but is some of the best debates available for free online. Two of my favorite Christians engaged in this debate are Dinesh D'Souza and Alister McGrath. There are several sights were audio can be found of other debates and lectures as well.

I also want to point out that Dinesh D'Souza will be debating Richard Dawkins on July 21, 2008 and you can watch it for free online.

Alister McGrath vs. Christopher Hitchens:


Alister McGrath vs. Richard Dawkins


Alister McGrath vs. Peter Adkins


Dinesh D'Souza vs. Christopher Hitchens


Dinesh D'Souza vs. Michael Shermer









If you want to read some of the arguments from a Christian perspective in this debate, I encourage you to read D'Souza's, "What's So Great About Christianity?," also David Aikman's, "The Delusion of Disbelief," Ravi Zacharias "End of Reason," plus Alister McGrath's "The Dawkins Delusion?," and others. But this should get you started.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Grace: God's Unmerited Favor. The Story of Josh Hamilton

My wife and I really enjoyed watching this years home run derby. Although it didn't have the big names we're used to, it was by no means boring. As everyone knows, Josh Hamilton stole the show, even though he didn't win in the end. But this is on home run derby that will go down in history.

As most of you know, Hamilton hit a record 28 home runs in the 1st round. What many may not know is his story. Hamilton was anything but a saint, but through the grace of God Hamilton's life was turned around.

By his first year after college baseball, Hamilton became addicted to drugs and had to go in and out of rehab. Eventually he got married and almost immediately was pregnant. A month later after finding out he was going to be a father, he returned to his drug habit, being suspended from baseball. His marriage fell apart.

From the encouragement of his grandmother, he began to read his Bible. Eventually, Hamilton stopped using drugs and turned his life around. He was able to reconcile with his wife and was baptized. Three years after being suspended, Hamilton was reinstated into the league, and this year, he was invited to the All-Star game and the Home run Derby where he broke the record for the most home runs in the first round.

By far, the best part of the home run derby wasn't Hamilton's first round where he hit 28 home runs, or even the second round where he hit several more and didn't even look like he was trying. It came after he was defeated in the final round and was interviewed by ESPN on the loud speaker and before the whole world. Hamilton said:


I just really want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all of this. I just want to glorify him.”

I was blown away with such honesty. The man just put on a show that will go down in the record books, and he was willing to throw everything away by giving Christ all of the glory. This says a lot about Hamilton, his faith, and the power of His God. Already, people have thrown fits that Hamilton would say such a thing at such a moment, but what else could he have said? Whenever God picks you up whenever you find yourself on the ground, how could you not give Him all of the credit?

That is called grace! Though we do not deserve it, God has come down in His Son, Jesus Christ, and redeemed those whom would believe. And obviously, Josh Hamilton is on that list!



Saturday, July 5, 2008

What's the Difference? Drawing the Line Between Liberals and Conservatives: Morality

In Part 1, we looked at how one views man's nature as evil or good affects their politics. Now, let's look at how it affects one's view on morality. Just as it is in the realm of politics, what one believes about morality is also rooted in anthropology.

Oftentimes are society wants to debate homosexuality, abortion, gun rights, crime, war, and other critical issues. But these are only issues that grow out of one's understanding of man's nature. Therefore, if we want to have a consistent worldview applied correctly, we must return to this fundamental difference.

LIBERALISM

Liberals, above all things, desire to be liberated from traditional morality. Traditional morality suppresses the nature of man. And, since man is good, anything that suppresses him should be abolished. Liberals acts with good intentions, but they always fail, especially in terms of morality.
Take the issue of homosexuality for example. When the AIDS crisis first emerged, many were quick to blame it on the rise of homosexuality where it's members have multiple partners. HIV and AIDS spreads quickest through homosexual intercourse. Our culture, and liberals in general, were quick to condemn such heresy. It is wrong to blame a group in society marginalized by religious bigots for the spread of AIDS. The very thought that a sexual lifestyle could kill others is preposterous to them, and therefore must be wrong.

Take abortion and other right-for-life issues for another example. What is the number one reason people give as a defense for death? Compassion and mercy. A mother who murders who own child is doing so because she doesn't want her child to struggle with a handicap all their life. A husband that blocks the giving of a feeding tube to his wife does so because he doesn't want to see her suffer. These decisions are viewed, not as they are, that is, murder, but rather as actions taken from the pure desires of the heart. No one wants a child to suffer from a birth defect do they? No one wants to see grandma continue to suffer from cancer do they? Those who find themselves at abortion clinics or signing the papers to refuse treatment are not viewed as murderers, but as loving family members who only want the best.

Notice again, the root behind the worldview: the nature of man. Surely no one would want to kill their own child or loved ones for selfish reasons. And persons who do murder for selfish reasons must be sick.

And that brings us to a similar issue in the area of morality: psychology and therapy. Our society radically changed whenever we treated criminals as persons who were sick rather than persons to be punished. This is born from a defective view of human nature. If man is good, then how can one be so evil? He must, the reasoning goes, be sick.

In America, and throughout the West, we have a condition for everything. This leads to a failure in dealing with crime in this country. We institutionalize criminals rather than punish them. We try to understand them rather than seek justice. These may sound like harsh words, but it is the truth. And if these are harsh words, then perhaps you are proving my point.

To many, it is inconceivable to think about punishing someone. How can we punish someone who murdered others because they were abused as a child? How could we be so misunderstanding about a person who raped a woman because his father molested him? How could we be so judgmental to say that a person who steals should pay for his crime whenever society and capitalism has let him down, making him poor with nowhere else to turn but to crime. We, therefore, sympathize with the worse of society because they have a "condition" rather than seek punishment for their actions.

See the mindset? They are not guilty of sin against humanity or society, rather, society and humanity is guilty of crimes against them. It is not their fault. No one would ever rob a gas station out of boredom. Rather, it must have a reason like poverty and desperation. Again, whenever we skew our understanding of man, society falls apart.

Crime continues to grow in our culture and therapy, too, continues to increase. And it is clear that it isn't working. We live on appeals, not justice. We thrive on understanding, not defending the harmed. And it all rises from a faulty view of man.

Now, let me just add that I do not believe that our culture sympathizes with every criminal. Obviously, much of the news regarding criminal actions and on criminals themselves is negative. However, it is impossible to escape the fact that though we do not approve of crime, we at the same time seek to understand why such a crime would be committed. Instead of finding the answer, i.e. human depravity, we rather turn to external things: poverty, sexual oppression, abuse, money, government, etc.

A therapeutic society, like ours, begins to fire on all cylinders and always misses. It only masks the problems, it doesn't solve them.

Enter, then, the self-esteem cult. Nothing makes me more sick than watching a so-called expert lecture us about self-esteem. To listen to them harms my self-esteem. The self-esteem movement has turned us into wimps. The pursuit of self-esteem takes away simple freedoms we used to enjoy. For example, since Johnny isn't as good on the monkey bars and continues to fall, we must remove them so that Johnny won't lose his self-esteem. Also, rather than grade papers, we give check marks for the students effort. Education is no longer about getting the answer right, but about trying. Why? Because if a student is consistently wrong, then his self-esteem might be hurt. And heaven forbid that happens.

This all has good intentions, but dire consequences. We become afraid to say no, turn someone down, or let them fail. With a faulty view of man, we come to think that all one needs is a pep talk and they will somehow become a winner with the right answer. Encouraging a kid while failing might make him feel better, but it does nothing to educate him. Encouraging a kid not to feel like a loser by not keeping score in a baseball game might make him feel like a winner, but it teaches him nothing about how to pick himself up, despite his failures, and overcome obstacles.

Thus, we have become a nation of wimps. And all of this is born out of a misunderstanding of human nature.

By misunderstanding human nature, the liberal worldview falls headlong into the Utopia ideal. One can see this Utopia worldview in many of the Humanist Manifestos. They believe that if man gets rid of religion, oppressive morality and ethics, destroy all weapons, end all wars, we can live in a Utopia world free of war, violence, corruption, and disease.
In order to do this, we must increase government, decrease liberty, stop religious bigotry, and trust in man's goodness. Everything mentioned above, the self-esteem cult, therapy, etc., are all geared in reaching Utopia. Though we all wish to live in such a world, by misunderstanding human nature, we find ourselves traveling away from Utopia rather than towards it.

CONSERVATIVES

Conservatives on the other hand see man as evil and it is this basic understanding of man that shapes their view on morality and ethics. By affirming the depravity of man, conservatives and Christians do not see the world through Utopian eyes, but through reality as it is. Things are getting worse, not better, despite our advance in knowledge, technology, enlightened philosophy, political power and influence, etc. For every disease cured, thousands are added. For every peace treaty signed, many wars begin. If the history of the world has taught us one thing, it has taught us that the liberal dream of Utopian will never happen because man cares only for himself.
And this is what lies at the heart of this understanding: man serves himself only. This is why the liberal hope of Utopia will never take place. A perfect world as dreamed by the left involves us all putting our differences aside, holding hands, singing Kumbaya, and watching opera in peace and tranquility. The problem with this is that such a vision goes against everything man is.

Every person serves only himself. Sure man can do selfless things at times, but at our core, we serve ourselves. This is why we cut down coworkers and suck-up to the boss to get that promotion. This is why vote the way we vote, we do the things we do, we have the friends that we have, we buy the things we buy, etc. Man, in all ways, seeks to serve himself.

Therefore, the liberal dream of Utopia will always remain a dream.

This, obviously, paints a negative picture of man and man's future. But this should not surprise us. Christ Himself warned of increase wars, famines, diseases, etc. Why in the world would we ever think that selfish man can overcome his very nature? Everyday, Christ's words continue to be proven correct.

Christians referred to this understanding of human nature Original Sin and Total Depravity. The concept of Original Sin goes back to the great theologian Augustine. It basically teaches that man is corrupt from birth. Total Depravity, typically a Calvinist doctrine, means that man's whole being is corrupt. In other words, everything he does will be tainted with sin and selfishness.

When it comes with understanding our culture, we must apply these two doctrines. Since man is sinful and selfish in all that he does, man will do anything to legalize, normalize, and praise their sin. The "evolution of culture and law," shows evidence of this. Whether the issue be homosexuality, abortion, gun rights, stem cell research, etc.

Man is obsessed with sin and in order to live in a culture that celebrates one's sin, they must first normalize it. "Everyone is doing it," is where it might begin. Although, if we understand man's nature correctly, such an argument would prove troubling. If everybody (that is sinful man) is doing it, then perhaps it is best not to.

But it doesn't stop there. Take homosexuality for example. In order to normalize sin, one must make the sin attractive, it's proponents like everyone else, and convince the people that it is nothing more than an "alternative lifestyle." One way of doing this is utilizing the media.

The media has been on the front lines of this debate. Over the evolution of our culture's opinion on this issue, the media has gone from not only recognizing it's existence, but accepting it and praising it. It seems that every show, especially reality shows, usually contains at least 1 homosexual who become the fan favorite.

Furthermore, we have made homosexuality funny. By placing homosexuals and homosexual jokes front and center in major comedies, the end result is convincing the public of it's innocence. What it does is cease to paint homosexuality as a monstrous lifestyle. This does not mean that we should view homosexuals as monsters. However, by making it funny, we cease to view it as a sin.

Therefore, the lifestyle becomes normal. This process doesn't only apply to homosexuality, and I do not intend on attacking only homosexuality. However, it is the easiest and most obvious of this process taking place in our culture today.

From the normalization of sin, man will then try to legalize their sin. By legalizing sin, we make our culture accept sin, not as sin, but as accepted behavior. If we normalize sin, we become sympathetic and lower our tone. If we legalize our sin, we make it acceptable behavior. What used to be wrong now becomes right.

This legalization of sin has one result: those who stand in the way are now in the wrong. We are seeing this in the debate over homosexuality. Whenever we legalize sin, by forcing the issue to be ethically right, those who oppose it are now in the wrong. Therefore, the name calling begins. Those who are for gun rights are called murderers. Those who are against affirmative action are racist. Those against abortion are sexists. And those against homosexual marriage are homophobes.

And the madness doesn't end there. As I have stated recently, we go from name calling, to the legalization of the new sin. Again, whenever culture legalizes sin, they make it ethically right. Therefore, those who always opposed that sin, are now committing sin and are ethically wrong. And so they must be silenced. And that is what we are seeing in our culture today.

As history has revealed, every culture will fall into moral decay and will love themselves for it. Sodom and Gomorrah were not the first to fall into moral decadence, and they are certainly not the last. Every world power destroys itself morally before any major threat attacks it from the outside.

As Christians, our concern must not be to fight homosexuality, abortion, stem-cell research, etc. Rather, our concern must be about the sinner in every person. Every person wants to live in their sin, have society embrace their sin, and have government legalize their sin; whatever it is. This is why the gospel aims at the sinner and Christ redeems the sinner. We must be a people about redeem a culture, not from specific sins, but from sin itself.

By correctly understanding human nature, we can better understand the chaos of our culture and world. As society progresses, so will it's acceptance and approval of sin. The liberal dream of Utopia is far fetched. If we want a true, selfless society, we must run to the cross. The answer is spiritual and theological, not political.

I pray that we do not remain distracted by issues, but rather are focused on human nature. If we begin here, we can win our country, our culture, and our world back.

Where Does The Madness End? Where the Homosexual Agenda Leads - Part 2

In Part 1, we discussed the lunacy of redefining marriage. But the real danger in this debate has nothing to do with definitions and marriage, but with what a secular society does to those who disagree with cultural norms and societies norms. As history and modern trends show, America is quickly on the verge of censoring, prosecuting, and persecuting the Church of Jesus Christ.

Sure, this seems far fetched now, but only to those whose eyes are closed to this growing trend. It is time to have our eyes opened, our minds warned, our convictions grounded, and ready to embrace the storm quickly heading our way. While at the same time, rejoice in the thought of suffering for the Lord.

A WARNING TO THOSE WHO STAND IN THE WAY

Recent history and other Western cultures have proven one thing, those who stand in the way of pushing homosexuality and other sexual lifestyles forward will be met with legal resistance. I could dedicate an entire website to the persecution of persons who oppose homosexuality and are being charged for hate crimes, hate speech, and even hate thought crimes.

There is one thing one must realize about liberal activists: they don't want anyone to stand in their way. And those who do stand in their way are accused of being hateful and criminals.

Charles Colson has recently discussed this topic at his Breakpoint website. In an article titled, "The Coming Persecution: How Same-Sex 'Marriage' Will Harm Christians," Colson traces the persecution of several persons and groups who are being silenced because they oppose gay marriage.

Some of the examples he gives are:


For instance, a Methodist retreat center recently refused to allow two lesbian couples to use a campground pavilion for a civil union ceremony. The state of New Jersey punished the Methodists by revoking the center’s tax-exempt status—a vindictive attack on the Methodists’ religious liberty.

In Massachusetts, where judges imposed gay marriage a few years ago, Catholic Charities was ordered to accept homosexual couples as candidates for adoption. Rather than comply with an order that would be harmful to children, Catholic Charities closed down its adoption program.


California public schools have been told they must be “gay friendly,” as Roback Morse notes. But it will not stop with public schools. Just north of the border in Quebec, the government told a Mennonite school that it must conform to provincial law regarding curriculum—a curriculum that teaches children that homosexuality is a valid lifestyle. How long will it be before the U.S. government goes after private schools?


Even speaking out against homosexuality can get you fired. Crystal Dixon, an associate vice president at the University of Toledo, was fired after writing an opinion piece in the Toledo Free Press in support of traditional marriage . . . Fired—for exercising her First Amendment rights!


What we have here is a systematic outlawing of the 1st amendment for those who stand in the way of the gay agenda. Our Founding Fathers would be appalled. But at least gay activist are smart. They realize that in order for their agenda to succeed, there can't be any opposition. Therefore, in order to rid themselves of opposition, they resort to name calling and silencing their critics.

First, let us discuss the name calling. Opponents to homosexuality, transgenderism, and whatever else depraved man can come up with are accused of bigotry, intolerance, and being close-minded. In a postmodern society, such name tags couldn't be a worse indictment. And since opponents are considered bigots and homophobes, they are, therefore, inciting hate.

The problem with this argument should be obvious: to call someone a bigot is bigoted and to call someone intolerant is itself intolerant. This should be obvious from the get-go, but the walking contradiction of the name-calling phenomenon goes unnoticed.

This is an important aspect of the debate. The culture is viewed as being the ones that possess the only form of ethics allowed. If the culture disallows dissenting worldviews access to the public square and debate, that is not intolerant bigotry, that is a breaking from our discriminatory past and a movement to a better society.

This is why homosexuals aim to make homosexuality not a choice, but rather the opposite. This is why millions is spent on research looking for the "gay gene." For if the argument can be made that homosexuality is determined by birth and by our genes, then homosexuality isn't a choice. And if we are born gay, then the fight for homosexual rights can be equaled to that of the fight for racial equality.

In fact, the case has already been made and has so far failed. But don't fret. Scientist are doing all that they can to prove that homosexuality is something we're born with rather than a lifestyle we choose.

And if the culture is convinced that homosexuality is something one is born with, and therefore the homosexual can't help but be gay, then such name calling is appropriate. Like those against equal rights for blacks are referred to as racist, those who are against equal rights for homosexuals are referred to as bigoted homophobes. But until then, words like bigot and intolerant only apply to those who stand against the social evolution of the relativity of truth and ethics.

And as a result, the hypocrisy of name calling rules the day.

Second, those who stand against the homosexual agenda will be penalized. As Colson points out, many are being persecuted and prosecuted for exercising their first amendment right. With the passing of hate crimes, hate speech laws, and even thought crime laws, our culture is increasingly becoming intolerant to other points of view.

This, too, is hypocritical. Our culture repeatedly prides itself on being open and tolerant. However, such a notion only applies to those who agree with them. That is not tolerance, that is censorship. Our culture will only tolerate their desired template, anyone who sails off course will be dealt with accordingly.

Though hate crime laws are slowly being passed in America, Europe, Canada, and the rest of the secular West have virtually crossed the threshold and are showing us just how far a secular society is willing to go to silence their opposition. But one doesn't need to look at recent secular societies. Just a glance at what the bloodiest century (19th Century) gave us is evidence enough. More persons were killed in the name of enlightenment and compassion than in any century before. Secularism is stained with the blood.

I am not saying that America or the West is like that of the Soviets or the Nazi's. However, it must be stated clearly what a secular society has always become; tyrannical, murderous, and censoring.

We should expect the persecution of the church over the bedroom to increase in the coming years with no end in sight. Unless America awakes from her dream of equality for all persons despite the abomination of its morals, the Church in America will never be the same: free. Censorship and prosecution is the offspring of secularism and we are quickly headed down that path.

But the Church need not be worried. Christianity thrives on persecution. As the early Church Father once said, "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." In other words, whenever the world sees authenticity in believers, and not this fake-Christianity so prevalent in our society, people come to Christ in droves. The most obvious example of this, outside of ancient Rome, is China. Though Christianity is illegal, it continues to boom.

So though there is much reason to fear, there is much reason to rejoice. Our generation could be the generation with less freedom, but with greater converts. How cool will that be?

Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1

Since the judges in California overstepped their boundaries and allowed homosexuals to get married, much has changed in the culture. It is foolish to think that legalizing same-sex marriage stops there. If only that were the case. The redefinition of marriage allowing homosexuals has two dangerous aspects that we must recognize. Dire

First, whenever culture starts to redefine anything, it struggles with defining it. In other words, if we redefine marriage to allow homosexuals, why not other sexual lifestyles? Why stop at homosexuality? Can't the same arguments be made for polygamy, bestiality, incest, or pedophilia? Why can't we lower the age of consent like other countries? What is to stop us from sinking lower and lower into the abominable filth of sexual confusion?

Here's one that neither I nor most would have suspected, what about giving civil union rights to...friends? The argument is being made that the same civil rights of married couples (both heterosexuals and now homosexuals) should be given to close friends. The argument goes that it is unfair and, if we could use the word, bigotry that only romantic couples have the right to use the Family and Medical Leave Act which allows one to take off work to take care of their sick "loved one," share legal rights involving things like mutual rights and privileges, and also tax benefits.

Are these not the same arguments being made by homosexual activist? They argue that it isn't right for a homosexual couple to share the civil rights of heterosexuals. Therefore, civil unions become one of their major mantras. To be denied civil unions is a form of discrimination. Why can't the same argument be used for other sexual (or even nonsexual) lifestyles? Why can't friends who share everything with other not be able to take off work to take care of their sick friend? Why can't couples currently considered pedophilia, be allowed to exercise the civil rights of heterosexual couples?

Dinesh D'Souza made this argument in his book, "Letters To A Young Conservative." While a college student at Dartmouth, the university refused to stop funding a gay society at the college. The conservatives at the Dartmouth Review didn't respond by complaining, they rather went on the offensive. He writes:


...we decided to test the consistency of the administration's policy. e founded the Dartmouth Bestiality Society. We appointed a president, a vice president, a treasurer, and a zookeeper. we wrote up an application an developed a budget. Then we went before the college committee on funding and made our case.


The administrators were appalled, of course. "There is no interest in, ahem, bestiality at Dartmouth," one said. To which the president of the Bestiality Society gamely replied, "That may be true, Dean Hanson, but it is because of centuries of discrimination! Those of us who are included toward animals have been systematically excluded and ostracized. Our organization will provide a supportive atmosphere in which people of our particular sexual orientation are treated with respect. At Dartmouth, if not in society, let us put an end to beastphobia."


No, we didn't get recognition or funding. But we did make our point... -pages 28-29


You can get his point. The problem with our politically correct society is that it doesn't have the stomach to say no. It can't. For to say no means that someone will be left out. And heaven forbid that that happens. So though the conservatives at Dartmouth heading the Bestiality group were comically serious, why didn't the administration allow the funding of their group? Same arguments, same proposals, same purposes, same benefits. Are they not persons with needs too?

Whenever we begin to redefine marriage, it becomes impossible to give it a final definition. Now, at least in some states, homosexuals have been able to redefine marriage to fit their sexual lifestyle. But why not other sexual lifestyles? Should society not end the centuries of bigotry and include them? If we follow the logic, the answer is no.

Notices the following argument from the article arguing that friends should have legal benefits:


Over the past few decades, the laws governing marriage and family have shifted. In the 1960s and 1970s, a series of landmark reforms made marriage a radically different institution: women were granted equal rights within marriage, "illegitimate" children were granted legal rights, and no-fault divorce made dissolving a marriage much easier. More recently, a number of states have created civil unions and domestic partnerships.

By tracing the evolution of marriage in our culture, things like no-fault divorce have made "dissolving" marriage much easier while the creation of civil unions have allowed many to take advantage of the benefits of marriage without actually being married. As a result, marriage becomes a certificate from the government rather than a covenant made before God.

But it doesn't stop there, notice where this argument leads in the next paragraph:


In the view of some analysts, though, the reforms haven't gone far enough - the law now needs to catch up to the society it helped to shape, in which many more people live outside marriage. The reforms made marriage fairer and less compulsory, and they have even begun to recognize committed romantic relationships between members of the same sex. But for the most part, the law hasn't acknowledged the other types of important relationships that people can form.


"If the law decides to support some relationships, why not others that similarly involve care and support?" asks Washington University's Rosenbury. "What is it about marriage or marriage-like relationships - that is, relationships that are assumed to have sex in them?"


If we follow the logic that begins by redefining marriage, one must admit that they have a point. Why can't friends enjoy the benefits of civil unions? But why stop there? Why not other sexual and nonsexual practices?
The point is, once we start rolling down this hill of redefining marriage in the name of equality and ending centuries of prejudice, we will quickly land at rock bottom in an age of utter chaos and confusion. Until our culture grows up, there is no telling where our culture might end up.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Schoolhouse Rocks 4th of July

I remember watching Schoolhouse Rocks on a regular basis, and I just loved them (especially the Bill Song and Conjunction Conjunction). Inspired by Denny Burks site, I thought that I would post some of my favorite patriotic Schoolhouse Rocks tunes. Enjoy!