Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

A Harvard University student explains how evidence changed her mind about God

Here’s a must-read article  about the effectiveness of apologetics on college campuses in Christianity Today. (H/T Sanjay M.)

Excerpt:

I don’t know when I first became a skeptic. It must have been around age 4, when my mother found me arguing with another child at a birthday party: “But how do you know what the Bible says is true?” By age 11, my atheism was so widely known in my middle school that a Christian boy threatened to come to my house and “shoot all the atheists.” My Christian friends in high school avoided talking to me about religion because they anticipated that I would tear down their poorly constructed arguments. And I did.

As I set off in 2008 to begin my freshman year studying government at Harvard (whose motto is Veritas, “Truth”), I could never have expected the change that awaited me.

It was a brisk November when I met John Joseph Porter. Our conversations initially revolved around conservative politics, but soon gravitated toward religion. He wrote an essay for the Ichthus, Harvard’s Christian journal, defending God’s existence. I critiqued it. On campus, we’d argue into the wee hours; when apart, we’d take our arguments to e-mail. Never before had I met a Christian who could respond to my most basic philosophical questions: How does one understand the Bible’s contradictions? Could an omnipotent God make a stone he could not lift? What about the Euthyphro dilemma: Is something good because God declared it so, or does God merely identify the good? To someone like me, with no Christian background, resorting to an answer like “It takes faith” could only be intellectual cowardice. Joseph didn’t do that.

And he did something else: He prodded me on how inconsistent I was as an atheist who nonetheless believed in right and wrong as objective, universal categories. Defenseless, I decided to take a seminar on meta-ethics. After all, atheists had been developing ethical systems for 200-some years. In what I now see as providential, my atheist professor assigned a paper by C. S. Lewis that resolved the Euthyphro dilemma, declaring, “God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God.”

Joseph also pushed me on the origins of the universe. I had always believed in the Big Bang. But I was blissfully unaware that the man who first proposed it, Georges Lemaître, was a Catholic priest. And I’d happily ignored the rabbit trail of a problem of what caused the Big Bang, and what caused that cause, and so on.

By Valentine’s Day, I began to believe in God. There was no intellectual shame in being a deist, after all, as I joined the respectable ranks of Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers.

I wouldn’t stay a deist for long. A Catholic friend gave me J. Budziszewski’s book Ask Me Anything, which included the Christian teaching that “love is a commitment of the will to the true good of the other person.” This theme—of love as sacrifice for true good—struck me. The Cross no longer seemed a grotesque symbol of divine sadism, but a remarkable act of love. And Christianity began to look less strangely mythical and more cosmically beautiful.

Now, I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for saying this, but I think that if you are a Christian and you are in a secular university, then you really need to have put in the effort to study the areas of science, history and philosophy that are relevant to the Christian faith. This is regardless of your personal abilities or field of study. We must all make an effort regardless of how comfortable we are with things that are hard for us to learn.

Granted, most atheists are not interested in truth, because they tend to jettison truth whenever it conflicts with their personal autonomy – their desire to seek pleasure apart from moral constraints. But there is another kind of atheist. This kind of atheist is honest, open-minded, and they just have never encountered any good reasons or evidence to think that God exists and that Jesus is anything other than a man. There are a lot of atheists like that who are just waiting to hear some decent evidence. Our job is to prepare for them and then engage them, if they are willing to be engaged.

I think that definition of love she cited – self-sacrifice for the true good of another person – is important. I don’t think that ordinary Christians like you or me spends time on apologetics because we “like” it. I know lots of Christians who are in tough, expensive academic programs trying to get the skills they need to defend truth in areas that matter. They do this because they know that there are people out there who are interested in truth, and who are willing to re-prioritize their lives if the truth is made clear to them. We need to be willing to serve God by doing hard things that work.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Harvard University student explains how evidence changed her mind about God

Here’s a must-read article  about the effectiveness of apologetics on college campuses in Christianity Today. (H/T Sanjay M.)

Excerpt:

I don’t know when I first became a skeptic. It must have been around age 4, when my mother found me arguing with another child at a birthday party: “But how do you know what the Bible says is true?” By age 11, my atheism was so widely known in my middle school that a Christian boy threatened to come to my house and “shoot all the atheists.” My Christian friends in high school avoided talking to me about religion because they anticipated that I would tear down their poorly constructed arguments. And I did.

As I set off in 2008 to begin my freshman year studying government at Harvard (whose motto is Veritas, “Truth”), I could never have expected the change that awaited me.

It was a brisk November when I met John Joseph Porter. Our conversations initially revolved around conservative politics, but soon gravitated toward religion. He wrote an essay for the Ichthus, Harvard’s Christian journal, defending God’s existence. I critiqued it. On campus, we’d argue into the wee hours; when apart, we’d take our arguments to e-mail. Never before had I met a Christian who could respond to my most basic philosophical questions: How does one understand the Bible’s contradictions? Could an omnipotent God make a stone he could not lift? What about the Euthyphro dilemma: Is something good because God declared it so, or does God merely identify the good? To someone like me, with no Christian background, resorting to an answer like “It takes faith” could only be intellectual cowardice. Joseph didn’t do that.

And he did something else: He prodded me on how inconsistent I was as an atheist who nonetheless believed in right and wrong as objective, universal categories. Defenseless, I decided to take a seminar on meta-ethics. After all, atheists had been developing ethical systems for 200-some years. In what I now see as providential, my atheist professor assigned a paper by C. S. Lewis that resolved the Euthyphro dilemma, declaring, “God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God.”

Joseph also pushed me on the origins of the universe. I had always believed in the Big Bang. But I was blissfully unaware that the man who first proposed it, Georges Lemaître, was a Catholic priest. And I’d happily ignored the rabbit trail of a problem of what caused the Big Bang, and what caused that cause, and so on.

By Valentine’s Day, I began to believe in God. There was no intellectual shame in being a deist, after all, as I joined the respectable ranks of Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers.

I wouldn’t stay a deist for long. A Catholic friend gave me J. Budziszewski’s book Ask Me Anything, which included the Christian teaching that “love is a commitment of the will to the true good of the other person.” This theme—of love as sacrifice for true good—struck me. The Cross no longer seemed a grotesque symbol of divine sadism, but a remarkable act of love. And Christianity began to look less strangely mythical and more cosmically beautiful.

Now, I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for saying this, but I think that if you are a Christian and you are in a secular university, then you really need to have put in the effort to study the areas of science, history and philosophy that are relevant to the Christian faith. This is regardless of your personal abilities or field of study. We must all make an effort regardless of how comfortable we are with things that are hard for us to learn.

Granted, most atheists are not interested in truth, because they tend to jettison truth whenever it conflicts with their personal autonomy – their desire to seek pleasure apart from moral constraints. But there is another kind of atheist. This kind of atheist is honest, open-minded, and they just have never encountered any good reasons or evidence to think that God exists and that Jesus is anything other than a man. There are a lot of atheists like that who are just waiting to hear some decent evidence. Our job is to prepare for them and then engage them, if they are willing to be engaged.

I think that definition of love she cited – self-sacrifice for the true good of another person – is important. I don’t think that ordinary Christians like you or me spends time on apologetics because we “like” it. I know lots of Christians who are in tough, expensive academic programs trying to get the skills they need to defend truth in areas that matter. They do this because they know that there are people out there who are interested in truth, and who are willing to re-prioritize their lives if the truth is made clear to them. We need to be willing to serve God by doing hard things that work.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama to appoint anti-business radical to regulate businesses?

From ABC News. (H/T Verum Serum)

Excerpt:

President Obama will announce this week that Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law School professor who first proposed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will be named to a special position reporting to both him and to the Treasury Department and tasked with heading the effort to get the new federal agency standing, a knowledgeable Democrat told ABC News.

Warren currently chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel of the Troubled Assets Relief Program and has been seen by many on the Left as a force for greater accountability and transparency, and a check against the forces in the Obama administration more closely allied with the financial sector. Many officials in that sector eye her warily as too anti-business…

Naming Warren as an assistant or counselor to both the president and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner would allow the president to bypass a Senate confirmation process that could prove lengthy and contentious.

Morgen writes:

The official White House announcement tomorrow will no doubt emphasize Warren’s role in originating the idea for this agency, and her impressive academic credentials. (Credential number one – she’s a “dear friend” of Obama’s dating back to law school.)

But expect there to be major fireworks over this appointment. Just how anti-business is Warren? Here is only a preview, from her blog on TPM in 2005 (emphasis added):

The middle class is being carved up as the main dish in a corporate feast.  Strugging with flat incomes and rising costs for housing, health care, transportation, child care and taxes (yes, taxes), these folks are under a lot of financial strain.  And big corporate interests, led by the consumer finance industry, are devouring families and spitting out the bones.

Well, I think it’s safe to say she isn’t a fan of this particular industry, if not corporations in general. But with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency charged with regulating everything from mortgages to credit cards, and the companies who market them, you would think it would be helpful to have someone with at least a semblance of impartiality heading it up.

Apparently the White House disagrees.

This is why corporations aren’t hiring. They’re waiting for anti-business Obama to get voted out in 2012.

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

Are most men intimidated by independent, successful, educated gorgons?

She's educated, independent, and has a great career!

Story here from the Onion.

Excerpt:

Well, another wasted evening, another potential “Mr. Right” walking out of my life. I guess I should be used to it by now, because it’s just so typical: Men will talk all day about how much they value ambition and intelligence in a partner, but when they finally meet a successful, educated gorgon, all of a sudden they head for the hills.

Needless to say, a smart and sophisticated companion isn’t what these men are actually looking for. No, what they really want is some easily impressed mortal who’ll laugh at all their jokes. Someone who won’t challenge their minds or disagree with their opinions. Someone who lacks a visage so terrifying it turns all beholders into solid stone.

I suppose I could giggle, bat my eyes, and absent-mindedly twirl a fanged, hissing serpent around my fingers—but that’s not who I am.

Look, I bring a lot to the table. I’ve got an MBA from Harvard, I run my own company, I have the deadly power to steal the very breath of life from all who gaze upon me, and I’m in great shape. If I were a man, I’d be admired and even envied for these things. But I’m not, and because of that, men find me threatening. When I walk into a room, they turn away in fear, shutting their eyes tight and clambering out of the room in a panic.

These are grown men we’re talking about!

This is my kind of humor.

Filed under: Humor, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Harvard-educated evolutionist arrested for multiple-victim school shooting

The leftist NYT reports:

The Huntsville Times identified Dr. Bishop as a Harvard-educated neuroscientist.

[...]Dr. Bishop had told acquaintances recently that she was worried about getting tenure, said a business associate who met her at a business technology open house at the end of January and asked not to be named because of the close-knit nature of the science community in Huntsville.

“She began to talk about her problems getting tenure in a very forceful and animated way, saying it was unfair,” the associate said, referring to a conversation in which she blamed specific colleagues for her problems.

And a student review from her page at RateMyProfessors.com:

This class was great. Bishop makes the class interesting by talking about her research and her friends research. That speaker she had for class was hard to understand but smart. She expects a lot and you need to come to every class and study. She is hot but she tries to hide it. And she is a socialist but she only talks about it after class.

Shot her brother dead:

A Massachusetts police chief is now saying that UAH shooting suspect Amy Bishop shot and killed her brother during an argument, and the case may have been mishandled by the police department more than two decades ago when the fatal shooting occurred.

According to this web page, she likes to advocate evolution to members of the clergy.

UPDATE: From the Boston Herald.

Excerpt:

Reyes confirmed he is working with the FBI to learn more about why Bishop was a suspect in the attempted bombing of Dr. Paul Rosenberg, who received a double-pipe bomb in the mail on Dec. 19, 1993. He ran from his Newton home with his wife, escaping without injury. The bomb never exploded.

[...]A family source said Bishop… was a far-left political extremist who was “obsessed” with President Obama to the point of being off-putting.

Very strange. Like a female version of Bill Ayers.

UPDATE 2: From the Boston Globe.

Excerpt:

In March, 2002, Bishop walked into an International House of Pancakes in Peabody with her family, asked for a booster seat for one of her children, and learned the last seat had gone to another mother.

Bishop, according to a police report, strode over to the other woman, demanded the seat and launched into a profanity-laced rant.

When the woman would not give the seat up, Bishop punched her in the head, all the while yelling “I am Dr. Amy Bishop.”

Sounds like a pretty typical Obama voter to me!

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