Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why Christian parents should not teach their children that Santa Claus is real

From Dr. Lydia McGrew, who blogs at What’s Wrong with the World.

Excerpt:

Here’s another anecdotal example of a child’s linking belief in God and in Santa Claus dangerously: In March a young girl visited my (small) church, and my eldest daughter spent some time talking with her. My daughter ended up much concerned about her. The younger girl, age 9, had clearly been trying to test the waters to see what the 16-year-old wanted her to say. At one point she said, “I’m not even sure I believe in God. Well, I sort of believe in Him. I sort of believe in God and Santa Claus.” This was not reassuring.

Consider what it means to teach a young child to believe that Santa Claus is real. You are teaching the child that a person exists who is benevolent and has super-powers, who can do incredible things, who sees his actions while remaining unseen, who rewards good acts, and with whom (if you encourage letter-writing to Santa) the child can communicate.

If you’re a Christian parent, you are very likely teaching the child at the same time in his life and at the same stage in his development to believe in God–a powerful and benevolent Being who sees his actions while remaining unseen, who rewards good actions and punishes evil actions, and with whom the child can communicate by praying. In fact, you encourage him to pray to this Unseen Being.

To induce belief in your child in both of these teachings, you are relying on the fact that children naturally believe what their parents tell them.

But one is an unimportant falsehood and the other is the ultimately important Truth.

Belief in Santa Claus is temporary. Eventually kids figure out that Mom and Dad have been telling them a white lie and that the causes of the presents on Christmas morning are mundane. As the above story about the artist’s daughter shows, it isn’t that much of a stretch for the astute child to wonder whether the other story about an invisible, benevolent Being who is the cause of all things, seen and unseen, has also been a white lie and whether the causes of all the things previously attributed to Him are, instead, mundane.

Atheists trade on this. I’m sure my astute readers could find dozens of examples of atheist rants to very much the “when I became a man, I put away childish things” effect. And this trope can be very effective for older young people as well. A Christian high school or college student willno doubt at some point encounter the following line of thought: “Why do you believe in God? Because your parents told you that He exists, right? But you believed in Santa Claus on the same basis. If you’d been raised in another culture, you would believe a different religion, and they can’t all be true. At some point you have to start thinking for yourself. Just as it turned out that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, so, you’ll find, it turns out that God doesn’t exist either. You’re old enough to figure this out for yourself.”

Unfortunately, most Christian young people do not go to college primed with evidences for the existence of God and for Christianity. This argument against authority may well strike them as devastating. And–I’m sorry to have to say it, but it must be said–it will strike them as all the more devastating if the coin of parental speech has been devalued by those little white lies told them in their innocence for the sake of cuteness.

When I ask parents why they would want to tell their children something that they know isn’t true, they usually tell me that having their children believe nice-sounding things is amusing to them. It seems to me that it’s a split between:

  • pride: knowing something that the children don’t know
  • deception: making children think that the world is nicer than it really is
  • manipulation: tricking children into “being good” by appealing to material goods (easy), instead of presenting reasons and articulating a full-blown theistic worldview that grounds morality as part of the design of the Creator (hard)

I am a former camp counselor and teacher. When I was in my teens, I worked with children of all different ages from 3-12 as well as with developmentally delayed adults – mostly teaching them sports, games, math, logic and other useful things. I always treated the children with respect, because in my mind, these were all future Airborne Rangers, future submarine drivers, future diplomats/CIA spies, future software engineers, future Congressman, future cryptographers, future nurses, future doctors, etc. And what I found is that although children like it when they are allowed to be childish, they also like it when you talk to them like adults and treat them like a smaller version of you. They understand treating them like a to-be grown-up as a form of respect. Young men especially love to be trusted with big responsibilities.

I looked at each child and thought to myself, “this is how football players look at age 8″ or “this person could be my boss one day”. And guess what? They really like being treated with respect, and they really like it when people tell them what to expect in the future. They like understanding what school will be like, what work will be like, how to make money, how cars work, what going to the airport and flying on a plane is like, and how to write computer programs. And when you lie to them about anything, it undermines their trust in you for everything. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to proportion rewards to good behavior, I’m saying that it’s wrong to tie rewards  to a myth which will eventually be exposed.

Just this week I was busy scheming with some Christian college students about their future jobs and what they should be learning and doing in order to be successful while still having a ministry. Why not treat children and young adults like that? Why not give them good advice and do things together with them and build them up with resources so that they can achieve? They are not your pets, they are not there to amuse you. They work for God – just like you. You both have the same boss, and the same job. You have a responsibility to act in a way that will help them to achieve goals, be effective and be influential.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pseudogenes: how Darwinian mythology negatively impacts the progress of science

The latest discovery that falsifies Darwinian religion wasn’t without cost. Our search for cures for cancer was negatively impacted by more of their prejudices about pseudogenes.

Uncommon Descent explains the new discovery and why Darwinians opposed it. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

Because they are generally noncoding and thus considered nonfunctional and unimportant, pseudogenes have long been neglected. Recent advances have established that the DNA of a pseudogene, the RNA transcribed from a pseudogene, or the protein translated from a pseudogene can have multiple, diverse functions and that these functions can affect not only their parental genes but also unrelated genes. Therefore, pseudogenes have emerged as a previously unappreciated class of sophisticated modulators of gene expression, with a multifaceted involvement in the pathogenesis of human cancer.

And the paper concludes:

The function of the great fraction of the human genome (98%) composed of sequences that do not encode proteins remains a mystery. Pseudogenes are technically part of this fraction, and the examples described here clearly demonstrate that they perform a broad and multifaceted spectrum of activities in human cancer. Therefore, the name pseudogenes, which underlies their close sequence similarity with parental counter-parts, should not imply a negative connotation. They might be “pseudo” genes because they do not encode a protein or because they encode a protein that does not function in the same way as that encoded by their cognate genes. Nonetheless, they are functionally disabled but can perform different functions than their parental gene counterparts.

Here are a few of the more recent errors made by religious Darwinians:

Why do these people believe weird things in the absence of evidence, only to have their speculations falsified when the gaps in our knowledge are closed by scientific progress? Well, evidence doesn’t matter to people who are motivated by naturalistic faith. Like belief in a flat-Earth, the delusion of naturalism is not accountable to scientific evidence. They believe what they want to believe. It’s not up for debate. For some people like Richard Dawkins, a prior lifestyle commitment makes theism (and the moral law!) an impossibility a priori. So there is at the root of atheism a fundamentalist close-mindedness that leads to intellectual dishonesty – not just deceiving others but deceiving themselves. They cannot admit to what reason and evidence is telling them. And it really does affect our progress in many areas, such as cancer research.

The war between atheism (anti-rational hedonism) and science is everywhere, across many scientific disciplines. Science makes discoveries about the Big Bang, the fine-tuning, the origin of life, the usefulness of non-coding DNA, pseudogenes, etc. Instead of accepting what science says and living consistently with science, the naturalist turns to speculations about something coming from nothing, multiverses, aliens, “junk” DNA and other irrational nonsense. The truth of the matter is that atheists will literally believe anything no matter how irrational it is.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Biased CNN liberal moderator Candy Crowley admits Romney correct about Benghazi

That didn’t take long: (H/T ECM)

Transcript:

CANDY CROWLEY, debate moderator, after the debate: You know, again, I heard the president’s speech at the time. I sort of reread a lot of stuff about Libya because I knew we’d probably get a Libya question, so I kind of wanted to be up on it. So we knew that the president had said, you know, ‘these acts of terror won’t stand,’ or whatever the whole quote was.

I think actually, you know, because right after that, I did turn to Romney and said you were totally correct but they spent two weeks telling us that this was about a tape and that there was this riot outside of the Benghazi consulate, which there wasn’t. So he was right in the main, I just think that he picked the wrong word.

Unfortunately, this was not her only mistake. She also cut Romney off about Fast and Furious to protect her best buddy Obama from looking bad on gun control. It’s too late to apologize now, and she should be fired. Just like all the other left-wing activists in the mainstream media.

Breitbart has the full list of Crowley’s attempts to help Obama win the debate.

Here are a few:

1. She wouldn’t let him respond when Obama lied about the auto industry. First she called him Mr. Romney instead of governor, then protested, “there’ll be plenty of chances here to go on, but I want to… We have all these folks.  I will let you absolutely… OK. Will – will – you certainly will have lots of time here coming up.” Romney never did get the chance to respond.

2. After the question asking whether gas prices as they stand now are the new normal, Obama got 2 chances to respond. When Romney asked for his second chance, Crowley shut him off by saying, “ … in the follow up, it doesn’t quite work like that. But I’m going to give you a chance here. I promise you, I’m going to.” She didn’t.

3. When discussing how he would deal with deductions, just as Romney was about to destroy Obama with statistics, Crowley jumped in to save her man not only by denying the value of statistics, but changing the narrative to say Romney’s numbers couldn’t possibly add up:

 “And Governor, let’s – before we get into a vast array of who says – what study says what, if it shouldn’t add up. If somehow when you get in there, there isn’t enough tax revenue coming in. If somehow the numbers don’t add up, would you be willing to look again …”

4. When Romney was trying to make a point of Obama’s pension investing in China, Crowley cut him off by insinuating people were tired of him talking:

“Governor Romney, you can make it short. See all these people? They’ve been waiting for you.  Make it short.”

Then she really tried to humiliate him with this: “If I could have you sit down, Governor Romney. Thank you.” She never asked Obama to sit down.

Read the whole list.

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William Dembski replies to theistic evolutionist Darrel Falk

William Dembski is much nicer than I am, and so he takes theistic evolutionist Darrel Falk to task very gently.

Excerpt:

In the paper to which Falk responds, I lay out four non-negotiables of Christianity as well as four non-negotiables of Darwinism. Falk and I are united on the four non-negotiables of Christianity, but differ a bit on those of Darwinism. The four non-negotiables of Darwinism that I list are common descent, natural selection, human continuity, and methodological naturalism. Because Falk and I both reject Darwinism, there’s quite a bit of overlap in how we view these four non-negotiables. Nonetheless, I think it will help readers of my essay and Falk’s response to clarify some of our differences here, subtle though they may be.

With regard to common descent, I agree with Falk that God could have brought about life by means of a large-scale form of evolution that links all organisms to a common ancestor. That said, I don’t accept common descent. I think the scientific evidence is against it (for my reasons, see my book The Design of Life, coedited with Jonathan Wells). Also, even though common descent may be acceptable in broad theological terms, I think it is problematic exegetically with regard to Scripture. Simply put, I think you’re going to have a hard time getting large-scale evolution out of Scripture or rendering the two compatible.

With regard to natural selection, Falk appears to accept that this is the principal mechanism by which organisms are brought into existence successively by an evolutionary process. At the same time, Falk does not want to see natural selection as devoid of purpose but rather as a mechanism through which God is able to accomplish his purposes. But in that case, in what sense is selection “natural”? Is Falk’s view of natural selection, when viewed as a scientific hypothesis, any different from Richard Dawkins’s? And if their views, taken scientifically, are the same, what is the evidence for the creative power of this mechanism?

Falk extols “God’s marvelously ordinary processes of creation: ordinary because they follow his natural laws so faithfully, marvelous because they have resulted in a world of complex and beautiful life.” In my view, the word “ordinary” is entirely out of place here. As I’ve argued with Robert Marks in a paper titled “Life’s Conservation Law,” even if life is the result of an evolutionary process driven by natural selection, it would have to be a form of selection finely tuned by an environment that is itself finely tuned (see our contribution to The Nature of Nature, edited by Bruce Gordon and me — the paper in question is available online here).

Falk takes exception to my thinking it “odd” that God would create by natural selection, and thus by a process that gives no evidence of intelligence. And he rejects my charge that such a method of creation “occludes” God’s activity. Falk, echoing Psalm 19, proclaims that all aspects of creation bespeak God’s handiwork and glory. Now let me concede that “oddness,” in the sense of what appears odd to us very limited human beings with our very limited vantages on the world, is not a good criterion for determining what God would and wouldn’t do. Still, it hardly seems that God is mandated to create via a process that provides no evidence of his creative activity — and nowhere does Falk admit that God provides actual evidence of himself in creation (at best he allows that nature provides “signposts” — but what exactly are these signs? who is reading them? why should we take them as pointing to God?). Moreover, for Falk to echo the psalmist is hardly an argument for the world proclaiming God’s handiwork and glory, because many atheistic evolutionists will deny Falk’s confident affirmations of divine perspicuity.

I’ve seen this directly. I recall posting on my blog a gorgeous picture of wildflowers, hinting at the wonders of God’s creation, and seeing comments by atheistic evolutionists who dismissed it as merely “sex” run amuck. Thus, when Falk echoes Psalm 19, what more is he doing than giving expression to his own faith? Indeed, what more is he saying to atheists than merely “I see God’s hand in all of this and you don’t — you’re blind and I see.” Perhaps faith has given him sight that atheists lack. But in that case, how can it be claimed that God is not occluding his activity in nature? God, as omnipotent, can certainly make his existence and presence known to even the most ardent atheist – we can all imagine flamboyant enough miracles that would convince anyone.

Still, the more interesting question here is whether there is a rational basis for Falk’s faith that is grounded in the order of nature. ID, in finding scientific evidence of intelligence in nature, says there is. Falk, along with BioLogos generally, denies this. But in that case, how can he avoid the charge that the faith by which he sees God’s handiwork is merely an overlay on top of a nature that, taken by itself, is neutral or even hostile to Christian faith? Note that I’m not alone in thinking it odd that God would create by natural selection. Many atheistic evolution see evolution as a brutal and wasteful process that no self-respecting deity would have employed in bringing about life. Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, and the late Stephen Jay Gould were united on this point.

There are three things that annoy me greatly and cause me to lose my temper. One of those things is theistic evolution, which to me is essentially atheism with unnecessary subjective verbiage added on top. My advice for discussing evolution with a theistic evolutionist is to never, ever allow them to talk about anything about religion. Just focus on the science and what the science can show. Anything else they say about their personal feelings and beliefs that isn’t scientific is just an attempt to deceive the listener. Never ever allow a theistic evolutionist to talk about possibilities – what God could or could not do. That is irrelevant to the discussion because it is outside of what science can show.

The central question when discussing evolution is this: can we use the ordinary methods of science, just as Dembski’s method for recognizing design based on specified complexity, in order to detect intelligent causes? Atheists and theistic evolutionists are united on the answer: NO. Darrel Falk and Richard Dawkins agree that there is no way for science to show that an intelligence is needed to explain some effect in nature, because natural mechanisms can do the job with the probabilistic resources available. Design theorists think that you can infer that intelligence is the best explanation – for some effects that pass the mathematical tests.

So you have atheists and theistic evolutionists on one side, and intelligent design people on the other side.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama says that adding 4 trillion to the debt is unpatriotic… then does it

Here’s the speech from July 3, 2008:

Ha! That looks like Obama giving that speech. Oh, it is Obama. Ha ha.

In that clip, Obama says:

The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents – #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.

Obama liked to talk about the credit card from the bank of China during the campaign. And many people who watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow believed him. They believed him because the comedians told them to believe him. They did not want to stop laughing long enough to look at Obama’s voting record to see that he was consistently getting F ratings on spending and government waste and pork in all of his years as a legislator.

So Obama said that spending 4 trillion is “unpatriotic”. But then Obama did a funny thing. CBS News reports.

The latest posting by the Treasury Department shows the national debt has now increased $4 trillion on President Obama’s watch.

The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion.

It’s the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.

The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. The debt now is rising at a pace to surpass that amount during Mr. Obama’s four-year term.

Mr. Obama blames policies inherited from his predecessor’s administration for the soaring debt. He singles out:

“two wars we didn’t pay for”
“a prescription drug program for seniors…we didn’t pay for.”
“tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that were not paid for.”

He goes on to blame the recession, and its resulting decrease in tax revenue on businesses, for making fewer sales, and more employees being laid off. He says the recession also resulted in more government spending due to increased unemployment insurance payments, subsidies to farms and funding of infrastructure programs that were part of his stimulus program.

Obama’s explanation for the deficits doesn’t wash, since the deficit was only $162 billion in 2007, the last year the Republicans had control of the House and Senate.

The Washington Times explains.

Excerpt:

A favorite liberal narrative is that President George W. Bush squan- dered the Clinton-era budget surpluses and piled up deficits with expensive wars and tax cuts for the rich. Candidate Barack Obama used this tale to great effect, and President Obama tells it still. Take his State of the Union address last week, when Mr. Obama attributed the Bush-era deficits to “paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program.”

The truth is that Mr. Bush’s deficits were the product of spending, not tax cuts. In fact, Mr. Obama could learn an important lesson for his own economic plan by studying Mr. Bush’s two very different attempts at tax-cutting.

As the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore illuminates in his 2008 book “The End of Prosperity” (Threshold Editions), Mr. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts failed to revive an economy still staggering from the bursting of the dot-com bubble. Mr. Bush’s strategy had been to adopt a demand-side, Keynesian stimulus, hoping that putting a few extra dollars in Americans’ pockets would jump-start the economy through increased consumption. This approach faltered, not just because Americans opted to save their rebates, but because it neglected the importance of business investment to overall growth. Predictably, the economy lagged and government revenues stagnated. What the United States needed then (and needs now) was to stimulate investment, not consumption.

By 2003, Mr. Bush grasped this lesson. In that year, he cut the dividend and capital gains rates to 15 percent each, and the economy responded. In two years, stocks rose 20 percent. In three years, $15 trillion of new wealth was created. The U.S. economy added 8 million new jobs from mid-2003 to early 2007, and the median household increased its wealth by $20,000 in real terms.

But the real jolt for tax-cutting opponents was that the 03 Bush tax cuts also generated a massive increase in federal tax receipts. From 2004 to 2007, federal tax revenues increased by $785 billion, the largest four-year increase in American history. According to the Treasury Department, individual and corporate income tax receipts were up 40 percent in the three years following the Bush tax cuts. And (bonus) the rich paid an even higher percentage of the total tax burden than they had at any time in at least the previous 40 years. This was news to theNew York Times, whose astonished editorial board could only describe the gains as a “surprise windfall.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush allowed Congress to spend away those additional tax revenues. The fact is that the increase in tax revenues that flowed from the ‘03 tax cuts could have paid for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and then some but for rampant discretionary domestic spending.

So, Bush passed his tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, but revenue went up:

Federal receipts after Bush tax cuts

Federal receipts after Bush tax cuts

And the deficits went down from 2004 to 2007:

Obama Budget Deficit 2011

Obama Budget Deficit 2011

Bush was on track to balance the budget, then Nancy Pelosi came along and added 5.34 trillion to the debt in her 4 years as Speaker.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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