Atheist kids camp

[Times Online]

GIVE Richard Dawkins a child for a week’s summer camp and he will try to give you an atheist for life.

The author of The God Delusion is helping to launch Britain’s first summer retreat for non-believers, where children will have lessons in evolution and sing along to John Lennon’s Imagine.

The five-day camp in Somerset (motto: “It’s beyond belief”) is for children aged eight to 17 and will rival traditional faith-based breaks run by the Scouts and church groups.

Budding atheists will be given lessons to arm themselves in the ways of rational scepticism. There will be sessions in moral philosophy and evolutionary biology along with more conventional pursuits such as trekking and tug-of-war. There will also be a £10 prize for the child who can disprove the existence of the mythical unicorn.

Instead of singing Kumbiya and other campfire favourites, they will sit around the embers belting out “Imagine there’s no heaven . . . and no religion too”.

I have no issue with people advancing their worldview, though Dawkins et al don’t feel that way.  They think it is child abuse to teach your religion to your children.  Religious freedom is anathema to them, which is ironic considering that in their worldview all religions are the product of pure materialism.  You see, I just “think” that I see all this evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but their “truth” is that it is just a function of macro-evolution.  Sure.

They really tip their hand with the unicorn bit.  I ignore atheists who try to equate the evidence for God (see thisfor starters) with the evidence for unicorns, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc..  It shows that they have such poor criticial thinking skills or are so blinded by their worldview that they think that is a serious argument.

Do they do nature hikes where they explain how things aren’t really beautiful, you just “think” they are beautiful because you, as a bag of chemicals, have evolved with some defects like that?

Hopefully their training will address scientific facts such as the Cambrian Explosion and its mockery of the Darwinian worldview.

Methinks they protest too much.

Hat tip: Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee

A great pro-life answer to a common pro-legalized abortion argument

A recent post brought out a common pro-legalized abortion argument that ignores the humanity of the unborn (and even her existence) while playing on the “autonomy of the woman’s body” sound bite.  The commenter takes the view that the unborn are parasites and that they are fair game for destruction given that they are dependent on the mother.

What that means is, if you give someone permission to touch your body, that permission can be withdrawn at any time.

As usual, pro-life apologist extraordinaire Theobromophile provided an excellent response (emphasis added).  This one is a keeper to use when you see this argument pop up at other sites.

By that line of reasoning, a woman would be totally justified in killing her baby a day before its due date. 

That absurdity aside, their analysis fails (at least legally, if not morally). While you are never responsible for keeping someone else alive, you are responsible for doing so if you created the situation in which they are dependent upon you. The classic example is a person who is drowning in the ocean. You, as a boater with a life preserver, are under no obligation to help them out of the water. If, however, you were the one who chucked her overboard, then watched her drown, you can bet that a jury would convict your immoral butt for murder, not for ruining her clothes by getting her wet.

Likewise, you are under no obligation to give a dying person a kidney to save his life, but, if you ripped his kidneys out of his body, you would be charged with murder if he died from those injuries. If the only way to avoid his death is to give him your kidneys, you can bet that your options are to fork over an organ or be charged with murder.

Just saying.

The Sin of Sodom

The sin that resulted in the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah has traditionally been viewed to be homosexuality (hence the term sodomy). 

But many pro-gay theology apologists now try to say that it was due to inhospitality or other reasons, but definitely not homosexual behavior.  They point to some verses that appear to support their view but ignore many others.

Check out this excellent piece for a thorough analysis supporting the traditional view —  Stand to Reason: What was the Sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?

Piecing together the biblical evidence gives us a picture of Sodom’s offense. The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was some kind of activity—a grave, ongoing, lawless, sensuous activity—that Lot saw and heard and that tormented him as he witnessed it day after day. It was an activity in which the inhabitants indulged the flesh in corrupt desires by going after strange flesh, ultimately bringing upon them the most extensive judgment anywhere in the Bible outside of the book of Revelation.

Here’s an example of the flawed theologically liberal reasoning.  Some claim that the punishment was because the men of Sodom tried to rape the angels in attendance, but that doesn’t make sense.

Was the city destroyed because the men of Sodom tried to rape the angels? The answer is obviously no. God’s judgment could not have been for the rapacious attempt itself because His decision to destroy the cities was made days before the encounter (see Genesis 18:20). Further, Peter makes it clear that the wicked activity was ongoing (“day after day”), not a one-time incident. The outcry had already been going up to God for some time.

The inhospitality claim also falls flat.

. . . are we to believe that God annihilated two whole cities because they had bad manners, even granting that such manners were much more important then than now? There’s no textual evidence that inhospitality was a capital crime. However, homosexuality was punishable by death in Israel (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). Does God ignore the capital crime, yet level two entire cities for a wrong that is not listed anywhere as a serious offense?

Read the whole article and bookmark it for the inevitable objections you’ll get from theological liberals.  It is a great example of how to properly analyze biblical texts, and especially so for controversial or difficult passages.

Also see Responding to Pro-Gay Theology, which addresses the most common biblical fallacies of the movement.

More bad pro-abortion reasoning

Another bad pro-abortion post tried to wax eloquent about the rights of a woman to control her body:

No one has any right to your body but you. Your body is the one and only thing in your life that is unquestionably yours, that absolutely can never be “made up” to you in any way, shape or form should you lose it or should it be taken from you in any way. Your body, and everything inside it, must belong absolutely and only to you. There is no way that anyone else’s “right” to any part of your body whatsoever can ever trump your moral right to always and forever at any moment in time whatsoever decide what is being done with it.

What that means is, if you give someone permission to touch your body, that permission can be withdrawn at any time. There is no permission that gives anyone a right to the use of any part of your body that you can’t withdraw instantly and forever if you so choose. If you want to end your own life, nobody has any right whatsoever to prevent you from doing so; it’s your body. Nobody else has any right to ever end your life against your will; it’s your life. If you want to donate organs, you should not be hampered in the slightest; if you don’t want to, absolutely NOBODY gets to require that you do so by force. And most notably in the context of abortion, if you choose to use your uterus to cultivate another human life, that is ONLY and ABSOLUTELY and FOREVER your own choice, and as long as your uterus is being used for this situation, you have complete and total control over the course and duration of its use. If at any point you decide you are done with the situation, then that’s that. There is no further moral argument that can be brought to bear that supercedes your absolute right to control of your body, your organs, your life.

It was obviously advancing abortion rights from the perspective of the mother, but read that comment again from the perspective of the unborn.  Consider how well it applies and how firmly the argument was made.

Of course, that argument on behalf of abortion rights always begs the question on two counts.  First, the pregnancy wasn’t a government-forced in vitro fertilization nor an immaculate conception.  It was the logical consequence of an act. 

Second, as with virtually all pro-abortion arguments, it ignores the humanity of the unborn.  Here was my response:

That is an outstanding set of pro-life arguments. You correctly note that human beings have rights that include the right not to be killed. And since we know that it is an indisputable scientific fact that a new human being is created at conception, these rights apply to the unborn.  The unborn is a human embryo then a human fetus. That is a fact. I’m too pro-science to be pro-choice.

Oh, wait, you were talking about the “rights” of the mother to have the unborn human being killed and were completely ignoring the rights of the unborn human being. How ironic.

Seriously, re-read your comments from the perspective of the unborn. Keep in mind that over 50% of the unborn human beings have a uterus as well. And gender selection abortions are the ultimate misogyny, as virtually all of them involve females being killed solely for being female.

Got questions?

question-mark.gifMarie reminded me of a link on my blogroll to Got Questions?  I recommend it to skeptics and believers.  The answers seem to be well thought out and readable.  Go do some browsing.  I’ll wait here.

Do you have a question about God, Jesus, the Bible, or theology?

Have you ever needed help understanding a Bible verse or passage?

Are there any spiritual issues in your life for which you need advice or counsel?

You can also subscribe to a Question of the Week by email.

If nothing else, the site provides 184,094 reasons (and counting) as to why it is false to say that people aren’t allowed to question Christianity or that we don’t applaud the use of reason and logic.

Roundup

I have to confess that until Wednesday of this week I didn’t even know who Mark Sanford (aka Stupidity On Steroids) was.  It has been analyzed to death, so I’ll just sum up the political side by saying that Sanford’s sins don’t impact the truth of conservative ideas and that he is the hypocrite, not Republicans (who actually do a much better job of policing their ranks than Democrats).

More importantly, I hope readers will focus on pieces like Randy’s that will help people avoid Sanford’s mistakes. 

I want to give a message to my sons and sons-in-law. Watch yourself carefully. If it can happen to this man, it can happen to you. Never, never develop a “dear, dear friend(ship)” with a lady. It can only lead to problems. In this case, Sanford apparently had a friendship with this lady for 7 years, before it turned sexual. In my opinion, his adultery started long before the last year. I firmly believe that you can’t have a close relationship with any woman other than your wife.

I heard a speaker on a Podcast (Family Life Today, I think) talking about the anatomy of an affair.  What was chilling was how there is a line couples almost always cross before getting physical such that the physical part is inevitable.  In other words, they think they are safe when in reality they have made an emotional bond that dooms them. 

Side note: His wife seems like a class act (seriously).

Speaking of hypocrites, did anyone notice Obama’s outrageous hypocrisy on his health care plan?  Liberal politicians oppose school choice because they aren’t sending their kids to public schools and they want to protect unions.  They oppose true health care competition because they don’t plan on using the services of the common man.  And so on.

Pastor Timothy has a list of the latest scams (I think he wants you to avoid them, not employ them)

Psychiatry Textbook Acknowledges that Homosexuals Can Change — Don’t hold your breath waiting for the MSM to report on this one.  Too many myths to prop up.  But keep it as a reference for when people trot out the “born that way” canard.

Could life have emerged spontaneously on the early Earth? — Great read by the Wintry Knight.  Short answer: Really, really, very unlikely — and that’s an understatement.

Great post at Marie’s place about eternal security (i.e., Can you lose your salvation?) — lots of good back and forth conversation about Reformed theology pros and cons.

Beyond parody

As we left Manhattan at the end of our vacation on one of those wild the-stereotypes-about-NY-drivers-are-true rides, I saw a Methodist church with a big gay pride parade banner outside of it.  I looked up the website of the Church of the Village today and found this notice:

Join us as we observe Pentecost, Agape Sunday, Gay Pride Month, Mother’s and Father’s Days, and other events of the season. Join us as we march and dance in the streets.

Yep, Pentecost and Gay Pride Month in the same list of church celebrations.  Guess which one will get more time and energy devoted to it? 

Can’t you just picture Peter at the original Pentecost debating between his gay pride sermon and this one?

Acts 2:14-41 (ESV) 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“ ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

FYI – here is a description of the things one can expect at a gay pride parade.  This “Christian” church will march and dance in the streets to celebrate that. Even if they weren’t a theological train wreck they still shouldn’t have anything to do with those God-mocking parades.

Repent and believe, people.  Repent and believe.  “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and a couple hundred thousand not-so-famous people . . .

. . . all died today.  I hope that many of them trusted in Jesus for their salvation before they died, because:

Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment

Their eternal destiny is fixed.  I saw one blogger say he hoped Fawcett was at peace now.  I share that sentiment, but it is a very binary process.  If she didn’t trust in Jesus then her situation is worse than it was yesterday.

Another couple hunded thousand people will die tomorrow.  I pray that they will be ready.  The seriously confused and/or fake Christians will say they are all going to Heaven.  Will the real Christians tell them the truth?

Everyone will spend eternity somewhere.  If you haven’t done so already, today is a great day to repent of your sins and trust in Jesus for forgiveness and eternal salvation.

Side note: Our church did some flood relief after Tropical Storm Allison a few years back.  We did a lot of work at one elderly couple’s house.  They worked for Farrah’s family at some point.  The only picture in their bedroom was an 8×10 of Farrah with a sweet personalized note she wrote to them.  You could tell they treasured it.

The “still, small voice” was a voice

The Bible passage below is often misinterpreted.  It pertains to the Prophet Elijah after his amazing victory over the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel.  He has run away to avoid the wrath of Jezebel and is hiding in a cave.

1 Kings 12-13 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.  Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

The portion in bold is used to rationalize mystical practices or “nudges” that God allegedly communicate to us, often in the area of decision making.

But read the passage and more and you’ll see something rather obvious: The “gentle whisper” (NIV, above) or the “still small voice” (King James version) wasn’t an illustration of a mystical communication.  It was an audible statement.

This article provides some good background and commentary:

Elijah’s Mt. Horeb experience, when he heard “a sound of sheer silence”(1 Kings 19:12, NRSV), stimulated in the church a tradition of desert spirituality which pursues solitude in order to experience the divine. Practitioners of lectio divina (i.e., reading sacred things) also desire such encounters. They say: “When we read the Scriptures we should try to imitate the prophet Elijah. We should allow ourselves to become women and men who are able to listen for the still, small voice of God (I Kings 19:12); the ‘faint murmuring sound’ which is God’s word for us, God’s voice touching our hearts. This gentle listening is an ‘atunement’ to the presence of God . . . .”[1] About Elijah’s experience of hearing God’s “still small voice”(KJV, NKJV) questions arise. Does 1 Kings 19:12 endorse contemplative spirituality? Was the prophet’s encounter with God in the cave on Mt. Horeb/Sinai a mystical “atunement”?

. . .

Ironic isn’t it, that the question the Lord repeatedly posed to Elijah contradicts the sense in which contemplative spiritualists mean to understand the “voice.” They use the prophet’s cave experience as a pretext for their retreating into the solitude of their “higher consciousness” to find mystical communion with the divine, but all the while God is asking, “What are you doing here?”

Hat tip: Slice of Laodicea

Roundup

Fact: There will be much more rationing of health care if Obama’s plans go through

It is hard to believe that the media is saying that Obama’s finance proposals are the first time in decades that regulations have countered free market solutions.  Are they that ignorant of Sarbanes-Oxley, the requirements that cost public companies millions of dollars to implement?  You know, the guidelines that were supposed to prevent things like the financial meltdown?

Obama fires Inspector General for investigating Democrat corruption — Where’s the outrage?  I rarely watch the MSM on TV but caught a bit the other night.  Was the announcer focused on scandals like this?  No, he was mocking Fox News and showing videos of Obama criticizing Fox.  Think about it: The MSM and Obama vs. Fox News.  Wow. 

And there’s more: This isn’t the only inspector fired or leashed.

The importance of Fathers and A Plea for Fathers — This should be a “duh” statement but with so many groups and the entertainment industry engaged in dad-bashing and downplaying their importance it is worth repeating.  It is one of the consequences of pretending that same-sex parenting is benign.

Ministry Spotlight – Faith Comes By Hearing

Faith Comes By Hearing is a ministry that produces audio recordings of the Bible in 371 languages and all are available for free download. Some countries are 80-90% illiterate, so getting the spoken Word to them via solar-powered audio devices is a powerful tool for evangelism and discipleship. But as you can imagine, getting tape players (and power) to remote regions of the world is a big challenge.

They also have a product which is just really, really cool. “The Proclaimer is an audio player containing the New Testament on an embedded microchip. It has just one purpose: to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the nations! The Proclaimer is practically indestructible. It can play by solar panel . . .”

This is a great ministry to donate to as well as a terrific source of audio Bibles for your MP3 player.  Check out their web site and see what I mean.

“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die.”

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The title is a memorable line from the movie Mean Girls, where the gym coach is teaching sex education (see the video below).  Whether by design or not, it demonstrated the ineffectiveness of both extremes of teaching kids about an extremely important topic.

Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die.  Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up . . . Just don’t do it, promise?  OK, everybody take some rubbers.

I like how it skewered both ends of the spectrum.  Repeating the Nike hybrid of  Just (Don’t) Do It won’t be effective without some guidelines on avoiding temptation and more, and passing out condoms like that is an implicit and explicit message that you expect kids to have sex outside of marriage (in addition to giving them a false sense of security).

Of course I endorse chastity and the abstinence of any sex acts outside of marriage as the ideal for everyone.  It is the only proven way to avoid pregnancy, disease, and emotional damage (and, if you are one of those religious types, the only way to obey God).

Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

They should also emphasize the most recent statistics demonstrating that those who finish high school and don’t have sex outside of marriage are extremely unlikely to end up poor, whereas if you do the opposite you are very likely to be poor.

They should teach girls the lines that guys often use and how to respond to them, for example:

  • Male: If you loved me you’d have sex with me.
  • Female: If you loved me you wouldn’t pressure me to have sex with you.

They should teach guys the lines girls use as well.  I know of one young man whose girlfriend recently broke up with him because he wouldn’t have sex with her.

But the abstinence / chastity message should include simple but effective ways to avoid temptation.  Too many people have good intentions but put themselves in situations that inevitably lead to compromise.

They should also coach you on how much your actions regarding sex are influenced by:

  • What you view
  • What you think about
  • Who you spend alone time with

Contrary to stereotypes, I have no issue with schools teaching a balanced sex education program, provided it is thorough and fact-based.  Birth control options are real and it is acceptable to discuss them, provided the whole story is told and the schools don’t distribute the condoms or other birth control themselves and don’t facilitate the abortion process.

For example, truly comprehensive sex education should teach the following regarding birth control pills:

  • They are X% effective at preventing pregnancies (but the data must be given for different demographic groups, because discipline and effectiveness tends to be lower for younger and poorer women).
  • They offer zero protection against STDs
  • They offer zero protection against emotional issues
  • There are possible side effects

More considerations and possible elements of a truly comprehensive sex education program:

  • Surveys demonstrate that married couples have the most satisfying sex lives.
  • It is absolutely ridiculous for schools to dispense birth control.  It sends the implicit and explicit message that you expect kids to have sex and that the adults say you should use birth control.  Guess which message they will listen to and which one they will ignore?
  • Hey parents, how about supervising your kids?  Giving kids unrestricted time alone with the opposite sex is virtually guaranteed to turn out badly.
  • Teach the truth about the “hookup” culture, where kids barely know each other and have sex.  Girls participating in “hookups” are basically acting like free prostitutes.  They have all the risks of pregnancy, disease, crushed self esteem, etc., but they aren’t making any money!  Somehow they convinced themselves that they are proving their equality by acting like guys do.  And of course there is the associated drug and alcohol abuse required to numb their minds to what they are doing.  Sad.
  • How Sex is Like Duct Tape (great illustration about chemicals, bonding and the pain of out-of-wedlock sex)

And of course, Christians can teach their children about God’s plan for sex and how great it is when used as designed.

The primary problem isn’t what one class teaches in one part of its curriculum in high school.  Whether  you use the falsely titled “comprehensive” Planned Parenthood type curriculum or that of the abstinence groups, the whole thing is doomed to fail if kids aren’t supervised, aren’t equipped to say no, aren’t given support by parents and just wallow in the sewer of our sex-obsessed culture. 

When I pointed out problems of sex ed on one post I got this answer in reply:

The problem is that people screw.

My reply to him:

How Zen-like ;-).

Yes, and people steal.  And lie.  And don’t study in school.  And do drugs.  And drink alcohol and drive.

So do we give up educating them that abstaining from these and other behaviors would be wise?

Do we let them escape from consequences when they do the behaviors?

Do we just focus on making is safer to do these things?  “If you are going to drink and drive, be sure to have an air bag in the car.”

Fortunately, one commenter saw the light:

I think Neil’s point was that no matter the sex ed, the rest of culture undoes it.

That sums it up nicely.

Update: A couple links from Luke with helpful statistics.  Leave more in the comments section if you’ve got ’em.

Some good news out of the Methodist Book of Discipline

Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker is one of the bright spots in the Methodist Church in the U.S.  In the midst of so many false teachers he continually speaks the truth in a compelling way.  His comments on the UMC progress on the issue of abortion are encouraging:

The 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church took a step toward greater moral seriousness when it amended the denomination’s Social Principles on abortion.

 Paragraph 161 J in the 2008 Book of Discipline contains important additions: “The Church shall offer ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies,” and “We affirm and encourage the Church to assist the ministry of crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women find feasible alternatives to abortion.”

Also see Something only a committee could create: The United Methodist abortion position.

From Paul to Saul? Not exactly.

It is a common view that the Apostle Paul had his name changed from Saul after his Damascus road experience.  I always assumed it was biblical.  But as our Associate Pastor pointed out one day, that is not what the text says.  Here is the grand total of verses about his name:

Acts 13:9-10 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?

That’s it.  No dramatic re-naming, just a note that he was also called Paul.  It was probably just a Jewish / Greek thing.

Now this isn’t a major issue, of course.  But it is a good lesson to read the Bible all we can and draw our conclusions from it and not to base our theology on non-biblical things.

The passage is also notable for how Paul whales on a false prophet and makes him blind for a time.  We could use a dose of that on the rampant false teachers in our day.