Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How faith, virtues and marriage are declining among blue collar Americans

Brad Wilcox writes about a new book entitled “Coming Apart” in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

So much for the idea that the white working class remains the guardian of core American values like religious faith, hard work and marriage. Today the denizens of upscale communities like McLean, Va., New Canaan, Conn., and Palo Alto, Calif., according to Charles Murray in “Coming Apart,” are now much more likely than their fellow citizens to embrace these core American values. In studying, as his subtitle has it, “the state of white America, 1960-2010,” Mr. Murray turns on its head the conservative belief that bicoastal elites are dissolute and ordinary Americans are virtuous.

Focusing on whites to avoid conflating race with class, Mr. Murray contends instead that a large swath of white America—poor and working-class whites, who make up approximately 30% of the white population—is turning away from the core values that have sustained the American experiment. At the same time, the top 20% of the white population has quietly been recovering its cultural moorings after a flirtation with the counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, argues Mr. Murray in his elegiac book, the greatest source of inequality in America now is not economic; it is cultural.

He is particularly concerned with the ways in which working-class whites are losing touch with what he calls the four “founding virtues”—industriousness, honesty (including abiding by the law), marriage and religion, all of which have played a vital role in the life of the republic.

Consider what has happened with marriage. The destructive family revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s has gradually eased—at least in the nation’s most privileged precincts. In the past 20 years, divorce rates have come down, marital quality (self-reported happiness in marriage) has risen and nonmarital childbearing (out-of-wedlock births) is a rare occurrence among the white upper class. Marriage is not losing ground in America’s best neighborhoods.

But it’s a very different story in blue-collar America. Since the 1980s, divorce rates have risen, marital quality has fallen and nonmarital childbearing is skyrocketing among the white lower class. Less than 5% of white college-educated women have children outside of marriage, compared with approximately 40% of white women with just a high-school diploma. The bottom line is that a growing marriage divide now runs through the heart of white America.

This whole article is worth reading, because it talks about some of the other areas that are declining in middle class America. I have added the book to my wishlist.

It seems as though Theodore Dalrymple’s description of the British lower classes in his book “Life at the Bottom” has come to America. He argues in that book that the new moral relativism of the elites works well enough for them because they have money, but it is very harmful to the poor, if the poor adopt moral relativism. I always believed that America would be safe from moral relativism. Recently, I was trying to argue with some British Christians about how the secularization of Britain was leading to the decline of marriage and the nuclear family. I point out their 45% out-of-wedlock birth rate, and they pointed out our 40% out-of-wedlock birth rate. We are right behind them, and it really makes me sad. Children need a mother and a father to take care of them.

When arguing with liberals about the importance of marriage, I like to use two good articles from the Heritage Foundation. I argue that when marriage goes, many bad things happen, like child poverty and child abuse. You would think that the government would do something about the decline of marriage, but people on the secular left often don’t like marriage, because there are traditional roles for husbands and wives that clash with their feminism. They don’t like the working father and the mother staying at home – not even if that creates the most stable environment for the children

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

A look at how a former skeptic changed his mind about God’s existence

Reformed Seth sent me this post from the ultimate object blog.

Excerpt:

“There has been some confusion and more than a few requests for explanation about what is going on with my core beliefs. Some time last week, I realized that I could no longer call myself a skeptic. After fifteen years away from Christianity, most of which was spent as an atheist with an active, busy intent on destroying the faith, I returned to a church (with a real intention of going for worship) last Sunday. Although I know I may struggle with doubt for the rest of my life, my life as an atheist is over.

The primary motivator in my change of heart from a Christ-hater to a card-carrying Disciples of Christ member was apologetic arguments for God’s existence. Those interested in these arguments may pursue them in the comments section, but I don’t want to muddle this explanation up with formal philosophical proofs. Briefly, I grew tired of the lack of explanation for: the existence of the universe, moral values and duties, objective human worth, consciousness and will, and many other topics. The only valid foundation for many of those ideas is a personal, immaterial, unchanging and unchangeable entity. As I fought so desperately  to come up with refutations of these arguments – even going out of my way to personally meet many of their originators, defenders, and opponents  – I realized that I could not answer them no matter how many long nights I spent hitting the books. The months of study rolled on to years, and eventually I found an increasing comfort around my God-believing enemies and a growing discontent and even anger at my atheist friends’ inability to kill off these fleas in debate and in writing, an anger that gave birth to my first feeling of separateness from skepticism after reading comments related to a definitively refuted version of the Christ Myth theory, the idea that Jesus Christ never even existed as a person at all. Line after line after line of people hating Christianity and laughing at its “lie,” when solid scholarship refuting their idea was ignored completely. It showed that the motive of bashing and hating Christianity for some skeptics wasn’t based in reason and “free thinking” at all, although it would be unfair to lump many of my more intellectually rigorous and mentally cool skeptic friends in this way.

As time went on, I reverted the path I traced after giving up Christianity so long ago: I went from atheist to agnostic to … gulp … *leaning* in the direction of God, to finally accepting that he very well could exist, and then to coming out and admitting (quietly) He did exist. After considering Deism (the belief in a God who abandons His creation), Islam, Hinduism (yes, Krishna, don’t laugh), Baha’i, and even Jainism briefly, I have decided to select Christianity due to its superior model for human evil and its reconciliation, coupled with the belief that God interacted with man directly and face-to-face and had *the* crucial role in this reconciliation. This, of course, doesn’t prove that Christianity is absolutely true (although I can prove that God exists), but rather reflects my recognition that Christianity is exactly what I would expect to be the case given that God exists.

I feel guilty when I read posts like that… I think to myself “you shouldn’t be so mean to people who disagree with you, maybe they are like this guy – honestly thinking things through and willing to change their minds”. Sigh. I feel so guilty right now.

I really like what he had to say about reconciliation, though. I feel the pressure to reconcile people to God through Christ’s offer of forgiveness – that’s why I work so hard on apologetics, and to have money to buy people things they need for their studying. To really get people to be reconciled, you have to be convincing. You have to be persuasive. And you can’t do that without having studied the arguments and the evidence.

I also agree with him about the reconciliation. The resurrection is a good argument, but it’s inductive – it’s the best explanation based on the historical bedrock that we have. But what clinches the case for Christianity in the end is Christ descending from his glory to suffer with us – and for us, too.

In case any of you haven’t read my testimony, it’s right here.

Seth also found evidence that this guy really was a skeptic before. (That link goes to John Loftus’ “Debunking Christianity” web site)

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

How the science teachers lobby misrepresents intelligent design

From Evolution News.

Excerpt:

Science Teachers Association (NSTA), which stands alongside the rest of the Darwin lobby in holding that neo-Darwinian evolution should be taught in a one-sided, pro-evolution-only fashion.

[...]But the Darwin lobby is smart. While it is trying to ban and censor the views of its opponents, the Darwin lobby has a particular narrative which tries to paint its opponents as the censors and the extremists. The narrative goes something like this (my paraphrase): ‘Dark forces of intelligent design and creationism are seeking to ban evolution from public schools and then force their religious beliefs into the science classroom. We must stand against censorship and religious agendas, so we must fight their agenda at any cost. Stand with us, the guardians of freedom of thought and the First Amendment.’

[...]The article goes on to cover recent debates in Texas over teaching evolution. The reality, of course, is that NO leading Darwin-critics in Texas sought try to censor evolution. Evolution is still a required part of the curriculum in Texas, and the new TEKS that continue to teach evolution were eagerly adopted by the Texas State Board of Education members who were skeptics of neo-Darwinian evolution.

McKee’s strategy is thus one of the oldest in the books: deflect away from the fact that she herself advocates an extreme position by painting her opponents as extremists.

The reality is that leading groups that doubt neo-Darwinian evolution (like Discovery Institute) strongly oppose any attempts to ban evolution or remove it from the curriculum in schools. We also oppose teaching creationism in the science classroom because it’s a religious viewpoint. As for ID, we feel it’s science and constitutional to teach, but we want the debate over ID to be a scientific one and not a political one, so we oppose attempts to push ID into public schools. Instead, we think that public schools should simply teach the scientific evidence both for and against neo-Darwinian evolution.

So where does that leave us? Leading Darwin-critics aren’t seeking to introduce creationism or ID into public schools, and they would vehemently oppose attempts to ban evolution. Rather, they seek to increase coverage of evolution by teaching both the evidence for and against neo-Darwinism.

The Darwin lobby wants only the pro-Darwin-only viewpoint taught. They want to censor any science that challenges neo-Darwinian evolution.

The whole article is good to read, and especially this picture that summarizes their view and my view.

It’s important to understand that conservative pro-ID people like me are not trying to get rid of evolution. We want it taught as the best available theory that naturalists can invent after their faith commitment that the universe is eternal and matter is all that there is. And then we want the scientific evidence against evolution taught. That’s it. Period. Teach the controversy. Don’t distort the evidence to fit the pre-supposition of naturalism. Teach the evidence that the universe had a beginning, and that life exhibits characteristics of information. If nature is hostile to naturalism, then so much the worse for naturalists. Leave religion (naturalism) out of the classroom, and go where the evidence leads.

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

New study shows how capitalism and religion promote co-operation

From the National Post.

Excerpt:

Free-enterprising, impersonal markets may seem cutthroat and mean-spirited, but a provocative new study says markets have been a force for good over the last 10,000 years, helping to drive the evolution of more trusting and co-operative societies.

“We live in a much kinder, gentler world than most humans have lived in,” says anthropologist Joe Henrich of the University of British Columbia, lead author of the study that helps topple long-held stereotypes.

The finding, reported in the journal Science, suggests people trust and play fair with strangers because markets and religion — not some deep psychological instinct inherited from our dim tribal past — have helped shape our neural circuitry over the eons.

The 13 researchers on Mr. Henrich’s international team spent time — and played clever psychological games — with more than 2,000 people in 15 different societies.

[...]The study found that the likelihood that people “played fair” with strangers increased with the degree people were integrated into markets and participated in a world religion.

[...]The study also suggests world religions, such as Christianity and Islam, were a potent evolutionary force, favouring the growth of complex societies by reinforcing fairness and trust.

Science is the number one peer-reviewed journal in the world. Capitalism, for lack of a better word, is good. Capitalism works.

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

What has Michele Bachmann got that third-wave feminists haven’t got?

First, take a look at this video of Michele Bachmann discussing her little debate with Democrat Arlen Specter, and keep a count of the things that she does that strike you as admirable.

What do we learn from this video?

My biggest problem in trying to get along with SOME women is the fact that I feel enormous pressure to only say things that women agree with. They only want to hear compliments, never criticisms. But I don’t like that – I want the freedom to be myself and to say whatever I want.

In a recent post that I was talking about William Lane Craig’s advice on how to have a happy marriage. He recommended that couples learn how to argue properly. And I think in that video we learn several tips on how to argue properly.

Here are some questions to ask about this video:

  • Does Michele feel offended or victimized during the debate?
  • Does Michele lose her temper during the debate?
  • Does Michele make gender an issue during the debate?
  • Does Michele focus more on arguments/evidence or feelings/motives?
  • Does Michele accept apologies and try to move on?

For me, a fun thing to do with a woman is to get into a good argument without having to censor myself. This happened to me recently where I was getting into some very long debates with a woman I really liked and the more I was able to be myself and have her not censor me, the more I just wanted to grab her and hug her. It became a really powerful feeling that I had a LOT of trouble resisting.

I distinctly remember at one point we were having a real scrap and I was pleading with her every hour to see whether she was feeling OK with the degree of sustained disagreement that we were engaging in, and I’ll never ever forget what she said. She said that she was fine, but that she was willing to stop if I needed a break. We had been debating a bunch of things for about three hours. (a typical date)

The experience of being myself and being accepted is so different than what I hear other men saying about women that it really makes me sad. It turns out that men lie a lot to women in relationships – telling them what they want to hear and hiding their real views in order to get sex. I just think this is demeaning to women and men. A much better idea is to argue it out with her and treat her as an equal.

And that doesn’t mean that there is no place for feelings. I remember one day this woman tried to clobber me on some obscure point of theology and she took a very adversarial tack. And I was surprised that I just felt wounded and attacked, so I asked her to adjust her approach, and she did. So I do think that there is a time for talking about feelings, but not to use them as an argument.

I think that when a person is hurt (male or female), the thing to do is to get the other person a gift, and have them sit down with the gift and then you explain to them that you love them and that something they said or did hurt you and explain how it made you feel. But I don’t think that hurt feelings should be used as a substitute for an argument in a debate. Debates should be about truth, not who “wins”.

So the main point I am trying to make is that the way that a woman approaches debates can actually be a powerful way of getting a man to really like her. The experience of being able to be yourself with a woman and to express your views in a heated discussion without getting attacked or censored by her is exciting and addictive. It makes a man like a woman because he feels that she understands him.

Consider these wise words:

There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.
– Winston Churchill

Women have the capacity to make a man like them without having to resort to sex.  One last point – I also think that the experience of leading another person to try something new that’s morally good or serves God’s interests can also be a bonding experience.

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