If you live in the NW Houston and like fine arts . . .

OK, this might qualify as a niche post, but the Houston Repertoire Ballet is performing a variety of pieces at the Tomball High School auditorium on Saturday, April 26.  It is a mix of a classical ballet, a few contemporary pieces and a storybook piece that little ones will love.

My daughters have various roles and two of the best dancers in the world will be visiting from New York’s American Ballet Theatre (one of them used to dance with this company).  No, I’m not in this production . . . you’ll have to wait for the Nutcracker for my crowd scene role.

Guys, it will impress your wife/girlfiend if you take her.  Go out for some culture!  It is your best fine arts value. 

Order tickets here and pick ’em up at the door.

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Imagine no possessions . . . except hyper-strictly enforced copyrights

First she ruins the Beatles, and now this. 

I am starting to wonder if the EXPELLED producers are some kind of evil-super geniuses a la President Bush.  How else could they provoke people to give them all this free publicity?  Seriously, the fair use doctrine is not that complicated.

EXPELLED Producers to Yoko Ono: Let it Be

(Dallas, TX) – A new front has been opened in the culture wars. Ben Stein’s EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed stunned detractors by opening as the nation’s #10 movie last weekend. Out for less than one week, it has already become one of the top 25 documentaries of all time.

Opponents of the film have attacked everyone and everything in it. They have attacked the producers, the star, the music, and film itself. They have even attacked those who have seen it. Now they want to change the Constitution.

Yoko Ono and others have now filed lawsuits challenging the film’s use and critique of John Lennon’s song Imagine. One of the suits seeks to ban free speech through preliminary injunctive relief which essentially means that they are trying to expel EXPELLED as it is now being shown in theaters.

“If you really listen to the lyrics of Imagine then you realize that it represents everything that the Neo-Darwinists want. ‘Imagine there’s no Heaven…No hell below us…Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too…’ That’s exactly what the Darwinist establishment wants to do: get rid of religion. And that’s what we point out when we play less than 15 seconds of the song and show some of the lyrics on screen,” said Walt Ruloff Executive Producer and CEO of Premise Media.

Executive Producer and Chairman of Premise Media Logan Craft explained, “The fair use doctrine is a well established principle that gives the public the right to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary and criticism. While some may not like what we have to say or how we say it, we have the free speech right to do so – just as other political and social commentators have been doing for years.”

Premise did not pursue a license for the song and had no obligation to do so. Unbiased viewers of the film will see that the Imagine clip was used as part of a social commentary in the exercise of free speech. The brief clip – consisting of a mere 10 words – was used to contrast the messages in the documentary and was not used as an endorsement of EXPELLED.

But the irony of this lawsuit was not lost on the film’s star Ben Stein, “So Yoko Ono is suing over the brief Constitutionally protected use of a song that wants us to ‘Imagine no possessions’? Maybe instead of wasting everyone’s time trying to silence a documentary she should give the song to the world for free? After all, ‘imagine all the people sharing all the world…You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope someday you’ll join us And the World can live as one.'”

For more information or to book an interview, please contact Megan Erhardt (ext. 136) or Mary Beth Hutchins (ext. 105) at 703.683.5004.

Weekly roundup

roundup.jpg The debate Richard Dawkins would like to forget.

Nancy Pelosi promised that the Democrats had a common sense plan to reduce gas prices.  They have gone up $1.18 since then.  McCain and the Congressional Republicans should send her a thank-you note.

She has also been running around with fake Bible quotes.  I’m used to politicians misquoting it, but making something up from scratch is less common.

A thorough review of Eckhart Tolle’s book (Oprah’s new religion)

According to Tolle, Jesus, like the Buddha, was an “early flower” in the evolution of human consciousness whose message was misunderstood and distorted (6). . . . Where Tolle got his “inside information” about a non-distorted version of Jesus’ message that predates this he unfortunately does not tell.

Yes, live in the now! But do it in loving relationship with God rather than by believing you are God.

10 ways Darwinists help Intelligent Design.  Thanks, guys!

Chelsea and the Red Dress Party – gotta read it to believe it.

 

I John – III John introduction

1j.jpgGreetings!  The Bible includes three short letters that the Apostle John wrote (in addition to the Gospel of John).  The first has five chapters and the next two only have one chapter each.

They were written to encourage Christians everywhere in their faith and to combat false teachings.  The church wasn’t very old but was already fighting a two front battle: Externally, against the Romans and other persecutors, and internally against false teachers.  Depending on where you live in the world, those battles continue to this day.

Some people were teaching that Jesus was just a spirit.  John shows how Jesus had a real body.

John mentions love a lot, but he also teaches clear and important doctrines such as the exclusivity of Christ:

1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Read and enjoy these wonderful books!

Hyperbole gone mad

universe.jpgI realize that part of the New Atheist approach is to crank up the volume on old arguments, so some of what we hear from Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, etc. is not a big surprise.  But some of their arguments and those of their followers, are so over the top that they lose credibility. 

At an atheist blog one of the commenters insisted that the evidence we offer for the existence of God was equivalent to that for pink unicorns (I have no idea why they are always pink), even though I pointed out cosmological (“first cause”), teleological, moral and other reasoning.  Then there is this jewel of a comment: 

God is about as unlikely as fairies, angels, hobgoblins, etc.

Richard Dawkins, from Expelled

Now I don’t adhere to materialist arguments, but I wouldn’t be smug and dismiss their questions by saying they had no more reasoning behind them than there is for pink unicorns or hobgoblins.

And keep in mind that Dawkins is the fellow who thinks it is possible that aliens came into being on another planet and evolved faster than we did, then seeded human beings here.  If Mr. Science Person has empirical evidence for this view then he is holding out on us.  The irony that he sees the need for an Intelligent Designer, albeit an alien one, speaks volumes.

The blogging on Expelled is a great example.  Virtually every commentary I’ve seen – usually from those who haven’t seen the movie – is just a series of personal attacks and poor reasoning.  Saying that ID is just “creationism in disguise” isn’t an argument.  Calling people liars because you disagree with their points while simultaneously encouraging people to pirate the DVDs and pay for a ticket to a different movie while sneaking into Expelled is incongruous at best. 

And watch how the New Atheists treat someone like Antony Flew, a famous scientist who “converted” from atheism to deism (almost there!) based on his extensive research.  He wrote There is a God – How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

We have lots of evidence for the existence of God: Cosmological (”first cause”), teleological (design), morality, logic, the physical resurrection of Jesus, archeological support and fulfilled prophecies of the Bible, etc.  If atheists don’t find that compelling, then so be it. I’m on the Great Commission, not the paid commission. But to insist that we have no evidence is uncharitable in the extreme and makes reasoned dialogue virtually impossible.  When they trot out the unicorn argument I just treat that as the Atheist Concession Speech.  I’m confident that true seekers will realize which side is more credible.

Here are a few arguments for the existence of God.   Also see the apologetics links in the blogroll in the right-hand column.

 

Existence of God

Cosmological Evidence

In Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument – William Craig

Adler’s Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God– John Cramer

A New Cosmological Argument – Richard Gale

A New Look at the Cosmological Argument– Robert Koons

Aquinas’ Third Way Modalized – Robert Maydole

The Kalam Cosmological Argument Neither Bloodied nor Bowed– David S. Oderberg

Some Recent Progress on the Cosmological Argument– Alexander Pruss

A Scotistic Cosmological Argument Remixed – Joshua Rasmussen

Mind, Cosmology, and Sufficient Reason as a Vindication of Rational Theism – James Sennett

The Cosmological Argument: A Defense – Richard Taylor

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Axiological Evidence

Two Kinds of Moral Arguments Concerning the Existence of God – Anthony Anderson

Robert Adams’ Demoralization Argument – Anthony Anderson

Why Be Moral? Social Contract Theory vs. Kantian-Christian Morality – Kelly James Clark

The Indispensibility of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality – William Craig

Do We Need God To Be Moral? – John Frame

Can We Be Good Without God? – John Hare

The Argument from Conscience– Peter Kreeft

Does Ethics Require Theism? – Michael Murray

The Argument from Inalienable Rights– Victor Reppert

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Noölogical Evidence

Arguments from Reason for the Existence of God– John DePoe

An Argument From Consciousness and Free Will– Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro

Sentiments of Reason and Aspirations of the Soul – John Haldane

Does the Argument from Mind Provide Evidence for God?– JP Moreland

The Argument from Persons – Joshua Rasmussen

The Argument from Reason– Victor Reppert

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Fine-Tuning Evidence

The Fine-Tuning Argument – Robin Collins

Does the Many-Universes Hypothesis Really Explain the Fine-Tuning? – Robin Collins

Universes Galore: Where Will it All End? – Paul Davies

Post-agnostic Science: How Physics is Reviving the Argument from Design– Robert Koons

Our Place in the Cosmos – John Leslie

Toward a Rational Reconstruction of Design Inferences– Timothy McGrew

The Cosmos as a Work of Art– Alexander Pruss

Shaken Atheism: A Look at the Fine-Tuned Universe– Holmes Rolston

The Universe, Design, and Fine-Tuning– Michael Sudduth

A Design Argument from Cognitive Reliability– William Vallicella

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Experiential Evidence

The Experiential Basis of Theism – William Alston

The Intuitive Conception and Knowledge of God – William Alston

Re-Identifying God in Experience– Jerome Gellman

Epistemic Virtue, Religious Experience, and Belief– James Montmarquet

A Religious Experience Argument for the Existence of a Transcendent Holy Being– Alexander Pruss

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A Priori Evidence

Conceivability, Defeasibility, and Possibility: A Defense of the Modal Ontological Argument– Trent Dougherty

The Ontological Argument– Alvin Plantinga

Samkara’s Principle and Two Ontomystical Arguments– Alexander Pruss

Reflections on Godel’s Ontological Argument – Christopher Small

The Conceptualist Argument for God’s Existence – Quentin Smith

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General

Evidence for the Existence of God– Shandon Guthrie

Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God– Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli

Hume, Kant, and Rational Theism– Hugo Meynell

Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments– Alvin Plantinga

The Existence of God – Richard Swinburne

Response to Dawkins – Richard Swinburne

Language, Being, God, and the Three Stages of Theistic Evidence – Dallas Willard

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The Nature of God

Omnipotence

On Two Alleged Conflicts Between Divine Attributes– Torin Atler

Maximal Power – Thomas Flint

Omnipotence and God’s Existence – Gregory Rich

Omnipotence– Edward Wierenga

Omniscience

Middle Knowledge, Truth Makers, and the Grounding Objection – William Craig

Truth, Omniscience, and Cantorian Arguments – Alvin Plantinga and Patrick Grimm
.

Omnibenevolence

Is it Coherent to Suppose that God is Both Morally Good and ‘Above Morality’?– Michael Sudduth

God and Time

Divine Timelessness and Personhood – William Craig

Is Timeless Divine Action Coherent?– Michael Sudduth

God Inside Time and Before Creation – Dean Zimmerman

General

Divine Responsibility Without Divine Freedom– Michael Bergmann

The Coherence of Theism – Part I – William Craig

The Coherence of Theism – Part II – William Craig

God’s General Concurrence with Secondary Causes: Pitfalls and Prospects– Alfred Freddoso

Divine Transcendence– Jonathan Kvanvig

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Philosophical Theology

Divine and Human Dialogue – William Alston

Abba, Father: Inclusive Language and Theological Salience– Harriet Baber

Feminism and Christian Ethics– Harriet Baber

God and Counterpossibles – Richard Davis

Haecceities, Individuation, and the Trinity – Richard Davis

Logic, Ontology, and Ockham’s Christology – Alfred Freddoso

Human Nature, Potency, and the Incarnation– Alfred Freddoso

What Difference Does Heaven Make?– Peter Kreeft

Hell– Jonathan Kvanvig

Heaven and Hell – Jonathan Kvanvig

Split Brains and the Godhead– Trenton Merricks

Does Prayer Change Things? – Michael Murray

Simplicity and Creation – Timothy O’Connor

Prophecy without Middle Knowledge– Alexander Pruss

Love and Obedience– Alexander Pruss

The Metaphysics of Original Sin – Michael Rea

Understanding the Trinity – Michael Rea

Is Divine Immutability Compatible with the Practice of Petitionary Prayer?– Michael Sudduth

Is Human Language Adequate to Talk about God?– Michael Sudduth

I Look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the World to Come– Peter van Inwagen

Proverbs 16

pr16.jpgGreetings!  Here is another major dose of wisdom from the Lord.

16     To man belong the plans of the heart,

but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.

2 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him,

but motives are weighed by the Lord.

People are really good at rationalizing away their sins.  I know I am. 

3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,

and your plans will succeed.

4 The Lord works out everything for his own ends—

even the wicked for a day of disaster.

God constantly makes good come out of bad.  He is permitting evil for a time, but will eventually punish it.  And He redeemed it through what Jesus did on the cross for us.

5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart.

Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;

through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.

So many things we teach kids (and adults) revolve around not doing things because of personal consequences to us.  But we forget that the main reason to obey is because He is God.

7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,

he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

8 Better a little with righteousness

than much gain with injustice.

9 In his heart a man plans his course,

but the Lord determines his steps.

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,

and his mouth should not betray justice.

11 Honest scales and balances are from the Lord;

all the weights in the bag are of his making.

12 Kings detest wrongdoing,

for a throne is established through righteousness.

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;

they value a man who speaks the truth.

14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,

but a wise man will appease it.

15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;

his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,

to choose understanding rather than silver!

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;

he who guards his way guards his life.

18 Pride goes before destruction,

a haughty spirit before a fall.

V. 18 is a famous reminder of the dangers of pride.  Pride is at the root of virtually every other sin.  When we put our interests above others we can rationalize all sorts of evil. 

19 Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed

than to share plunder with the proud.

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,

and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,

and pleasant words promote instruction.

22 Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it,

but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 A wise man’s heart guides his mouth,

and his lips promote instruction.

24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb,

sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

25 There is a way that seems right to a man,

but in the end it leads to death.

There are so many “hollow and deceptive philosphies” in the world (Colossian 2:8), but they lead to misery and Hell.

26 The laborer’s appetite works for him;

his hunger drives him on.

27 A scoundrel plots evil,

and his speech is like a scorching fire.

28 A perverse man stirs up dissension,

and a gossip separates close friends.

29 A violent man entices his neighbor

and leads him down a path that is not good.

30 He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity;

he who purses his lips is bent on evil.

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;

it is attained by a righteous life.

32 Better a patient man than a warrior,

a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,

but its every decision is from the Lord.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Will the Methodists learn from the Episcopals?

umc-cross.jpgI really hope they do.

Kudos to the local church that is leaving the Episcopal denomination.

From an “orthodox” point of view, [Rev.] Gerber said, “The culture has begun to influence the church, rather than the church influencing the culture.”

I wish them well and hope they thrive in their new surroundings.

Now if the Methodists could just learn from that.  In an interesting juxtaposition, the Houston Chronicle religion section highlighted the expected debates on homosexuality and abortion at the upcoming General conference on the same day they reported on the Episcopals. 

There won’t be consensus at the conference in the sense of harmony, but hopefully they will continue to have a large majority on the Biblical sides of these issues.  There are literally hundreds of petitions that propose to keep the stance on homosexual behavior and to get back to a Biblical model on abortion (including stopping all support for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice). 

The Methodist stance on homosexual behavior is quite sound and balanced, but it is constantly attacked.  The protestors will be out in force again this year, making a nuisance of themselves and selfishly disrupting the procedures instead of following the proper process.  They are always trying to get themselves arrested so they can play the martyr card.

The denomination’s position on abortion is something only a committee could love. 

I’m really hoping that the attendees learn from the Episcopals and get more firm with this.  By extending the dialogue it gives false credibility to the bankrupt pro-gay theology.  We’d be doing everyone a favor by telling them to just move on and quit trying to destroy the denomination.  Or at least let them know that we’re tired of the bullying.  Either follow the established change process, or get arrested.  Yes, it will give them their TV sound bites but we can at least let the convention proceed in an orderly manner.