f The Wittenberg Door: July 2010

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thought of the Day: Separation of Church and State

If we are to use the term “separation between Church & State,” we must do so honestly, remaining faithful to the original context: Thomas Jefferson was writing to Baptists who were being persecuted by an officially Congregationalist state government. Thus, he was not calling for a wall that protected the government from the church, but the church from the government. Something to keep in mind when discussing this issue.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Avicenna and the Law of Non-Contradiction

Many Postmodern thinkers have taken to denying the law of non-contradiction. This law of thought states that A cannot be non-A at the same time and in the same sense.

Despite their protestations, Postmodern-types violate this law when they claim that truth cannot be known. Since they mean for this claim to be taken as true (despite their verbal smoke and mirrors), they are saying that it’s the case that truth can be known and it’s the case that truth cannot be known.

Folly Revealed

With all the ills Islam has brought to humanity, I’ve found something commendable. Muslim philosopher Avicenna (Ibn Sina) deftly shows the folly of denying the law of non-contradiction.

Anyone who denies the Law of Non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as to not be burned.

Avicenna (980-1037)

I recommend setting this to memory for use next time you encounter someone denying the law of non-contradiction—or if you just simply want to recite flowery Islamic prose.


Monday, July 12, 2010

The Lazy Atheist?— The Christian Worldview (Conclusion)

In part 1 I mentioned that for a worldview to be viably considered it must be able to make sense of reality. Atheism as a worldview fails to provide a foundation for abstract (non-material), invariant (things not given to change) entities, such as morality, mathematics, laws of logic, and propositions. Moreover, atheism fails to make sense of love and beauty, and is found wanting when it comes to accounting for the regularity of nature.

So what are we to make of it when atheists love, show compassion, demand justice, use logic and mathematics, and engage in the scientific enterprise? Like a drowning man denying the existence of water, they must assume the Christian worldview in order to refute it—for it is Christianity, not atheisim, that comports with reality.

Christianity Provides the Answers

Christianity answers the tough questions:

  • Morality
    Murder (the unjust taking of a human life) is wrong. We know this innately. The same is true with theft, adultery, rape, lying, etc. (Sure, there’ve been variations on these themes, but the themes remain.)

    Morality reflects God’s character. He is holy, righteous, and just. We are beings created in his image; therefore, we are moral agents. It is upon this very foundation that civilization is made possible.

  • Mathematics and the Laws of Logic
    Prove 2+2=4. Most people grab four items, place them next to each other, and then say “two pencils and two pencils equal four pencils.” But this doesn’t solve the problem—it merely restates the equation using a different physical representation.

    How about the laws of logic? Are the laws of logic—the law of non-contradiction (A cannot be non-A at the same time and in the same sense), the law of identity (A is A), and the law of excluded middle (A is either A or it isn’t)—merely human inventions? If they are, we’re doomed. Actually, all cultures assume the laws of logic. Language isn’t even possible without them, and thus civilization would not be possible.

    2+2=4 because that’s the way it is in the mind of God; and the laws of logic reflect His thinking. Again, we think this way because we are His image bearers. Thus, Aristotle discovered (i.e., categorized) the laws of logic; he did not invent them.

  • Uniformity of Nature
    God upholds all things by the word of His power. It is because of this that we see regularity in nature, and it is because of this that we can extrapolate future events from the past. This provides the needed foundation for science and answers Hume’s Problem of Induction. All this without making incredulous claims like everything came from nothing; order came from disorder; life came from non-life; consciousness came from non-consciousness, etc.

  • Propositions
    How much does a thought weigh? How deep into space does a proposition extend? How long is it? Imagine Snoopy atop his red-roofed doghouse. Now, if we opened your cranium, would we find him there? I don’t think so. But if thoughts are material, he must be there! Perhaps we just don’t have a microscope powerful enough.

Wrapping It Up

Like the previous post, this is just a thumbnail sketch (and we still didn’t have room to talk about love and beauty)—but at least it’s a start. All claims to explain reality must be scrutinized, including atheism. The ball’s in your court, Penn.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Lazy Atheist?—Part 1

Penn Jillette, of the popular magic duo Penn and Teller, spent some time pontificating on the existence of God over at NPR’s site. By way of respose, I'd like to offer an observation:

Atheists Tend to be Intellectually Lazy When it Comes to Defending Their Atheism

I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do.

Penn Jillette

What a wonderful world it must be where you can simply make metaphysical proclamations without bothering to support them with any arguments. To be fair, Penn is not alone in this; this is typical of atheists—but is it justifiable?

Atheism assumes a naturalistic worldview—only material things exist. This is the point where we need to start asking questions.

Is the proposition that only material things exist itself material?

If so, where did they discover it? Under a microscope? Did they trip over the proposition in a parking lot?

If not, the game is over. (That is, of course, unless they’d like to try their hand at proving that material things produce non-material things.)

How about morality? Are moral laws merely human conventions?

They must be. Then by convention Nazi Germany can institute its final solution. The civilized world might not like it, but hey, who are they to judge?

By the way, if morals are culturally defined by the majority, then the moral reformer is by definition amoral. That means people like Martin Luther King should be spurned not praised.

How is science possible in an atheistic universe?

Science depends upon the regularity of the universe. We talk about the law of gravity, the laws of thermodynamics, ect., but how can there be such laws in a world were everything comes about by random chance? All they can do is describe what has happened in the past. They have no foundation for drawing conclusions about future events. Atheist philosopher David Hume’s Problem of Induction makes this very point.

It is impossible, therefore, that any arguments from experience can prove this resemblance of the past to the future; since all these arguments are founded on the supposition of that resemblance. Let the course of things be allowed hitherto ever so regular; that alone, without some new argument or inference, proves not that, for the future, it will continue so.

David Hume (1711 - 1776)

Does the Emperor Have Clothes?

What about love? Is there an intrinsic difference between love and hate? Or are they simply different chemical reactions in the brain? Is there a thing called beauty? Is it objective? Is there really a difference between a sunset and a pile of dung? Penn tells us of his enjoyment of both these things (love and beatify that is, not chemicals and dung). He also seems interested in the plight of his fellow man. I’m sure that Penn is sincere, and I don’t question his compassion.

But in a world where we are simply matter in motion, where survival of the fittest reigns, why ought we care about anyone else? Is there really a difference between feeding a starving child or strangling him? If so, how do you account for such distinctions in an atheistic universe?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more could be raised, but these are a good start. It’s time for Penn and his ilk to stop ducking the debate with copouts like, “you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do.” Atheists are putting forth a worldview that is radically counter-intuitive—that doesn’t fit the facts. It’s time for them to step-up to the plate and take a shot; and they can start by answering the questions above.

Part 2

For any worldview to be viably considered, it must be able to make sense of reality. This, of course, would include Christianity. In part 2 I’ll make the case for Christianity by considering the aforementioned questions.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Discussing Homosexuality

From WorldNetDaily . . .

What happens in Ms. Buford's class stays in Ms. Buford's class," is what the substitute teacher told eighth-grade students at Ashburn Community Elementary School after showing the R-rated movie [Brokeback Mountain], according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court.

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”

And I wish I knew how to quit seeing this movie pop-up everywhere. It certainly seems that we, and now our pre-teen children, haven’t seen the last of this film. For that reason, and because of other controversies regarding same-sex relationships, I’d thought that I’d put aside my outrage (remember when schools were a place of education, not indoctrination?) and offer some advice for discussing this issue with those in the market place.


My advice has to do with terminology. The terms “homosexual” and “homosexuality” are modern terms (being about 60 years old) that have taken on a meaning that is foreign to preceding generations and civilizations—that being, homosexuals are regarded as a special class of human being.

This designation gives homosexuals carte blanch when it comes to their behavior. After all, it’s genetic. For them not to act in a way consistent with their nature would be, well, unnatural, or so the argument goes.


Here’s my advice: steer clear of the terms “homosexual” and “homosexuality.” Instead, use “homosexual desires” and “Homosexual activity.” Using these terms makes irrelevant the claim that “they are born that way.” (By the way, they aren’t born that way. Refer to the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality [NARTH] Web site for the evidence.) Here’s how:

I was born with certain heterosexual desires. These desires are good when exercised properly (i.e., for my wife, and for her alone). However, if I misdirect these desires (i.e., lust towards another woman), they are bad (immoral). When confronted with these misdirected desires, what should I do? Should I say, “Hey, it’s natural; I was born with these desires,” and then act upon them? No. I’m expected to realize that these desires are misdirected (sinful) and to restrain myself.

Likewise, those with homosexual desires should show the same restraint. The moral aspect aside for a moment, isn’t it obvious that their desires are misdirected? If “nature” intended for a man to have relations with another man, wouldn’t “nature” have provided the compatible equipment? It seems obvious that the proper direction for the desires should be towards those of the opposite sex.


Speaking of desires moves the conversation beyond the question of genetics—it doesn’t matter why I have these desires; what matters is how I respond to them. Engaging in homosexual activity is both unnatural (which a quick survey of the equipment reveals), and immoral (this is where a discussion of worldviews comes in). Speaking of desires also avoids the modern notion that “homosexuals” are a special class of humans. Instead, it reveals that they are like anyone else, just with different immoral desires.

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