Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Coeur d’Alene city officials to pastors: perform gay marriages or face jail, fines

From the Alliance Defending Freedom web site.

Excerpt:

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is across the street from the Kootenai County Clerk’s office, which issues marriage licenses. The Knapps, both in their 60s and who themselves have been married for 47 years, began operating the wedding chapel in 1989 as a ministry. They perform religious wedding ceremonies, which include references to God, the invocation of God’s blessing on the union, brief remarks drawn from the Bible designed to encourage the couple and help them to have a successful marriage, and more. They also provide each couple they marry with a CD that includes two sermons about marriage, and they recommend numerous Christian books on the subject. The Knapps charge a small fee for their services.

Coeur d’Alene officials told the Knapps privately and also publicly stated that the couple would violate the city’s public accommodations statute once same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho if they declined to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel. On Friday, the Knapps respectfully declined such a ceremony and now face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to perform that ceremony.

This is freaking IDAHO for God’s sake. Thankfully the ADF is there to fight the case.

I guess part of me is surprised that in a country where so many people identify as Christians and attend church that such a thing would be possible.

First off, I credit Bible-centric pastors for failing to explain the issues of homosexuality and gay marriage in a way that their parishioners could make sense of it logically and evidentially. We never did that, so that’s why Christians had nothing to say to non-Christians when the issue came up OUTSIDE the church. We never learned from church leaders or our parents how to explain the problems with gay rights (Grindr app promiscuity, domestic violence, relationship instability, HIV spread, loss of free speech, loss of religious liberty, harm to children who are separated from their biological parents, etc.). All we learned to say at home and at church was “the Bible says”. That’s what 20 years of church prepares you to do. That’s what being raised in a Christian home prepares you to do.

“The Bible says” works great when you are a child in the Christian subculture, then you hit the university and it just dies. And pastors and parents know this, they just don’t care, because Christianity was like Santa Claus to them – it was about getting you to behave nicely as a child. It was never to make you kick ass like a William Lane Craig. It was never to make you into Stephen C. Meyer or an ADF attorney. It was just to make your parents’ life easier, as much as they try to cover it up with pious talk excusing them from their failed parenting effort.

Secondly, I think that the type of Christianity taught by parents and pastors is also to blame. They keep telling us that Christianity is about God helping you to feel good, and be nice to other people, so they like you. Everything is about feeling good here and now. Feelings. Compassion. Non-judgmentalism. Irrationality. Nothing is about truth, nothing is about facts, nothing is about conflict. We have witnessed the feminization of the church, and as a result, nobody has any response to the rhetoric of the gay rights people. If Christianity is about being nice, being liked and feeling good, then we have no resistance to the gay rights movement’s rhetoric which urges us to “be nice” so we can be liked, and feel good.

Declaring that morally wrong practices are actually morally good is only a virtue to those who want to be liked above all.

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

Pew survey: evangelical Christians least likely to believe superstitious nonsense

The Pew Research survey is here.

They are trying to see which groups believe in superstitions and new age mysticism.

Here are the parts that I found interesting:

Click for full image.

Click for full image.

Notice the numbers for Republicans vs Democrats, conservatives vs. liberals, and church-attending vs non church-attending. The least superstitious people are conservative evangelical Republicans, while the most superstitious people are Democrat liberals who don’t attend church. I think there is something to be learned from that. It’s consistent with the results of a Gallup survey that showed that evangelical Christians are the most rational people on the planet.

Here’s the Wall Street Journal article about the Gallup survey entitled “Look Who’s Irrational Now“.

Excerpt:

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.

“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity.

[...]The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

Even among Christians, there were disparities. While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama’s former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin’s former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.

When I think of the “weird” things that evangelical Christians believe, I think of the origin of the universe, the cosmic fine-tuning, the origin of life and the sudden origin of animal body plans in the Cambrian. All of this is superstition to an atheist, and yet all of it is rooted in mainstream science. Not just that, but they’ve grown stronger as science has progressed. I can accept the fact that an atheist may be ignorant of the science that defeats his atheism, but that’s something that has to be remedied with more studying of the evidence, not less. If you generate a worldview by 1) your desire to dispense with moral judgment and/or 2) your desire to prefer Star Trek and Star Wars to mainstream science, then of course you are going to have an irrational worldview. I’m not saying that all atheists do this, surely someone like Peter Millican does not. But for rank-and-file Dawkins acolytes, I think this is pretty accurate, and it’s why we get the survey results that we do.

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Paul Copan explains some responses to postmodernism

Four articles from Paul Copan over at the UK site “BeThinking”. Each article responds to a different slogan that you might hear if you’re dealing with non-Christians on the street.

“That’s just your interpretation!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Gently ask, ‘Do you mean that your interpretation should be preferred over mine? If so, I’d like to know why you have chosen your interpretation over mine. You must have a good reason.’
  • Remind your friend that you are willing to give reasons for your position and that you are not simply taking a particular viewpoint arbitrarily.
  • Try to discern if people toss out this slogan because they don’t like your interpretation. Remind them that there are many truths we have to accept even if we don’t like them.
  • ‘There are no facts, only interpretations’ is a statement that is presented as a fact. If it is just an interpretation, then there is no reason to take it seriously.

More responses are here.

“You Christians are intolerant!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If you say that the Christian view is bad because it is exclusive, then you are also at that exact moment doing the very thing that you are saying is bad. You have to be exclusive to say that something is bad, since you exclude it from being good by calling it bad.
  • There is a difference, a clear difference between tolerance and truth. They are often confused. We should hold to what we believe with integrity but also support the rights of others to disagree with our viewpoint.
  • Sincerely believing something doesn’t make it true. You can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. If I get onto a plane and sincerely believe that it won’t crash then it does, then my sincerity is quite hopeless. It won’t change the facts. Our beliefs, regardless of how deeply they are held, have no effect on reality.

More responses are here.

“That’s true for you, but not for me!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If my belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your belief only true for you? Aren’t you saying you want me to believe the same thing you do?
  • You say that no belief is true for everyone, but you want everyone to believe what you do.
  • You’re making universal claims that relativism is true and absolutism is false. You can’t in the same breath say, ‘Nothing is universally true’ and ‘My view is universally true.’ Relativism falsifies itself. It claims there is one position that is true – relativism!

More responses are here.

“If you were born in India, you’d be a Hindu!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Just because there are many different religious answers and systems doesn’t automatically mean pluralism is correct.
  • If we are culturally conditioned regarding our religious beliefs, then why should the religious pluralist think his view is less arbitrary or conditioned than the exclusivist’s?
  • If the Christian needs to justify Christianity’s claims, the pluralist’s views need just as much substantiation.

More responses are here.

And a bonus: “How do you know you’re not wrong?“.

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

Did Jesus exist? Agnostic historian Bart Ehrman debates Infidel Guy

I find atheism a bit of a quirky worldview because a significant group of the more militant atheists seem to be willing to believe in weird things that are obviously false. Even things that are denied by the majority of scholars. And sometimes things denied by ALL scholars. And yet as long as they can make fun of people and tell jokes about it, they are very happy to go on believing things that are obviously false, and congratulate themselves on how clever they are.

Believe my delusions or I'll insult you!

Believe in my atheists delusions or I’ll insult you!

Anyhoo, here is an interesting case in point, in which “The Infidel Guy”, who thinks that Jesus never existed, confronts skeptical historian Bart Ehrman. Bart Ehrman lets the true believing jihadi know that the world really is round and that leprechauns most certainly do not exist.

When I look at atheists, I do see a lot of belief without evidence, and I suspect that they are just projecting their childish Santa Claus epistemology on Christians. Atheists believe weird things. They deny the Big Bang cosmology, and believe that the universe is eternal  (Secular Humanifest Manifesto I). They believe you can explain the origin of life by appealing to unobservable aliens (Richard Dawkins). They think that morality doesn’t exist (Jerry Coyne). They think that cosmic fine-tuning is not real (Victor Stenger). They think that it is morally permissible for a society to murder unwanted 5-year olds (P.Z. Myers). The ice caps will be melted by 2014 (Al Gore). The majority DNA is non-coding “junk” (John Timmer). The universe popped into being, uncaused out of nothing (Lawrence Krauss). And so on. Don’t even get me started on the multiverse! Oh my. Talk about believing things without evidence just because you want to believe them.

The most powerful argument against Christianity

You know, the most powerful argument that radical atheists can press against the reliability of the New Testament reports about Jesus’ empty tomb and post-mortem appearances is their own gullibility. What they should do in a debate is stand up and say “look at me! I believe Jesus never existed! I am batsh*t crazy!! Bleh bleh bleh! (Dances the robot) And if I am this crazy, then maybe the early Christians were as good at believing weird things as I am!” That is an argument that could cause any Christian to quake in fear.

That is actually the strongest argument against Christianity in my view – the widespread delusions of the radical “New Atheist” community. If a group of people can be that credulous, then maybe the early Christians were that credulous as well? If people can invent an alternate Easter Bunny / Santa Claus reality when it suits their desires, then maybe the early church could do the same. Maybe humans are as credulous, in general, as these radical atheists are and just make things up. Maybe we are all just believing what is comfortable for us against the evidence, like the Infidel Guy and his buddies.

Now, I realize that there is a large group of non-radical atheists who are just not convinced by the evidence for theism and Christianity, and for those moderate atheists, we should prepare a defense for them, because they are still open to being convinced by arguments and evidence. Many of them may have grown up in the church, listening to anti-intellectual sermons and never getting answers to their questions. That’s fine, and we should be respectful and thoughtful with them. But I am just saying that there is another group of radical atheists out there who are just interested in deluding themselves, and we needn’t be impressed by them.

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New study: lesbian women twice as likely to “divorce” their partners as gay men

There’s a myth going around that women are fond of commitment and that men are beastly commitment-phobes. But what does science say?

Here’s a new study that’s been reported in the leftist UK Independent. (H/T The Elusive Wapiti)

Excerpt:

Lesbian couples are nearly twice as likely as gay men to end a civil partnership, according to the latest government figures.

The number of same-sex couples ending their civil unions leapt by 20 per cent last year, seven years after their introduction in 2005. Overall there were 794 dissolutions in 2012, almost 60 per cent of which were female couples, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

In the seven years since gay couples were able to have civil partnerships, 3.2 per cent of male unions ended in dissolution, compared to 6.1 per cent of female couples.

Sociologists believe the lower rates of ‘divorces’ among gay men may reflect a trend of women committing sooner and having higher expectations for a relationship. Women in civil partnerships tie the knot at an average age of 37.6, compared to men, for whom the average age is 40. Erzsebet Bukodim, sociologist at the University of Oxford, said: “In heterosexual marriage the divorce rate is higher if you enter marriage at a very young age. That might be one of the reasons we’re seeing this [high dissolution rate for women] in civil partnerships.”

Gunnar Andersson, professor of demography at Stockholm University, has found in successive studies that women in Norway, Sweden and Denmark are twice as likely to dissolve their civil partnerships than men. He said: “This reflects trends in a heterosexual marriage because women are more prone to say they want to marry – but they’re also more likely to initiate a divorce. Women usually have higher demands on relationship quality, that’s often been said in studies. Even if you control for age there is still a trend of more women ending partnerships than men.”

Previous figures show British women in heterosexual relationships are more likely to file for divorce than men. Women initiated the divorce in two thirds of cases in the UK in 2011.

The Elusive Wapiti comments on the new study:

I used to frequent the once-defunct-now-rebooted “Family Scholars” blog ten years ago. In that forum, whenever I mentioned the now well-accepted fact of a 2:1 ratio of female/male initiation in divorce, I was repeatedly, reliably, and indignantly informed by the liberalists and anti-traditionalists in the crowd that the problem wasn’t with women’s trigger-happy dissolutive behaviors, but with straight men, whose insufferable and abusive natures all but forced their women to divorce them and take their kids, half their stuff, and 1/3 of their paycheck for 20 years. Men sucked so bad at being husbands, it was contended, that women had little choice but to kick them to the curb.  They deserved all the divorce-rape they got, the bastards.

So imagine my surprise to see the same ratio between female and male divorce initiation  that we’ve observed in straights for decades now, mirrored in the homosexual community. This has gotta be bad news for the fish-bicycle set that loves to blame masculine misbehavior for, well, everything, including female-initiated divorce.  Instead, we now see that when woman is paired with woman, the dissolution rate is twice that of male-male couplings, just like it is with straight couples.

Just to support his assertions, here is a quotation from p. 340 of “Handbook of Interpersonal Commitment and Relationship Stability”, edited by Jeffrey M. Adams and Warren H. Jones, published by the academic press Springer in 1999:

The differential breakup rates of married versus same-sex couples point to the role of marital institutions, but male and female couples exhibit differences in stability as well, suggesting that the influence of gender needs to be explained. With a small cross-sectional sample of 25 gay men and lesbians each, Duffy and Rusbult (1986) found that lesbians had longer relationships. But in the only two studies ever conducted with large samples of same-sex relationships (over 1,000 couples in each), consistent differences have been found between gay men and lesbians in breakup rates, both in the late 1970s and the late 1980s: Lesbian relationships, whether measured longitudinally (Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983) or retrospectively (Bryant & Demian, 1994), were of shorter duration than gay male relationships. The gay men in couples surveyed by Bryant and Demian (1994) reported a mean duration of their current relationships of 6.9 years, compared to 4.9 years for lesbians (p. 104). Furthermore, though both gay men and lesbians reported spending roughly the same total amount of time in their lives in major same-sex relationships, the women reported more past relationships, suggesting that those relationships as well had been of shorter duration. Finally, there was a small but potentially meaningful difference in the proportion of lesbians (92%) as opposed to the pro-portion of gay men (96%) reporting commitment to their current partner for a lifetime or “a long time.” These findings run counter to general expectations (Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983; Eskridge, 1996) based on beliefs about women’s greater desires and capabilities compared to men in creating and maintaining intimacy and connection in intimate relationships.

Lesbian couples also have the highest rates of domestic violence. Higher than gay males, and much higher than married couples.

Excerpt:

  • A study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined conflict and violence in lesbian relationships. The researchers found that 90 percent of the lesbians surveyed had been recipients of one or more acts of verbal aggression from their intimate partners during the year prior to this study, with 31 percent reporting one or more incidents of physical abuse.[46]
  • In a survey of 1,099 lesbians, the Journal of Social Service Research found that slightly more than half of the lesbians reported that they had been abused by a female lover/partner. The researchers found that “the most frequently indicated forms of abuse were verbal/emotional/psychological abuse and combined physical-psychological abuse.”[47]
  • A study of lesbian couples reported in the Handbook of Family Development and Intervention“indicates that 54 percent had experienced 10 or more abusive incidents, 74 percent had experienced six or more incidents, 60 percent reported a pattern to the abuse, and 71 percent said it grew worse over time.”[48]

This is not even to mention the concept of “lesbian bed death“, which is the frequently occurring cessation of sexual activity in lesbian relationships. A recent study on that is here.

Liberal women and fear of commitment

So what causes liberal women do break commitments more than men, whether they are straight or gay? I think there is a reason and it is gender-specific, but it can be mitigated by male leadership and influence in the relationship. And here it is: liberal women think of relationships as being more about emotions and peer-approval than about planning, hard work and results. Liberal women have a notion about marriage being something that will allow them to live happily ever after – and be approved of (or envied) by their peers. Liberal women believe that it is their partner’s job to give them that, and if they don’t get it, then the relationship isn’t working, and can get jettisoned.

Studies have shown that liberal women have difficulty evaluating men to see if a man is suitable to perform traditional male duties in marriage. Typically, liberal women try to judge men based on how the man makes them feel. Having been raised to be feminists, they just don’t believe that men have any distinct “male” capabilities that they need to evaluate. Liberal women tend to believe that they can tell a man’s suitability for marriage by looking at his appearance, or by asking their liberal female friends what they think of the man. These standards are heavily influenced by the culture, as well – movies, TV, music, and so on.

Liberal women also don’t generally view marriage as a long-term enterprise that has definite goals that may differ from their own personal goals. Liberal women tend to rebel against strict moral boundaries and exclusive religious truth claims, because they restrain them from making relationships (with men or children) all about themselves. They have to be convinced to see the value of moral boundaries and religious truth claims, and they usually haven’t done the work themselves to have that capability. A strong male leader who is focused on moral and religious issues can mitigate the liberal female tendency towards narcissism, but liberal women tend to avoid such men as being “too strict” or “too controlling” – even if the leadership is to make the woman grow and get better.

Any structure or plan to the relationship is viewed with suspicion because it distracts from the goals of liberal women: feeling good and having social acceptance. That’s why young, unmarried liberal women marry people like Bill Clinton, John Edwards and Tiger Woods who know nothing about morality and religion. It’s not rational, but the lack of moral standards and religious truth claims makes them feel safe and autonomous. And that is more important than being led and having the safety of a man who takes morality and religion seriously. One lesbian I know recently told me that discussing morality and religion objectively should not be done because people with strong views on morality and religion are “too mean”.

It’s up to sensible, moral, religious men to come along and civilize these young, unmarried feminist-influenced liberal women. We need to cause them to think about what marriage really is, what marriage really requires from each partner, and what children really require from marriage. We need to push the engineering approach to marriage during the courtship phase, and wean them off of the crazy emotional vain selfish view of marriage. If men don’t lead liberal women during the courtship to think deeply and rationally about marriage, then liberal women will not be prepared or capable of commitment over the long-term. If a man doesn’t take the time during the courtship to lead and grow a woman before the wedding, he is taking chances with his future and the future of his children. Not to mention his service to God, which will be negatively impacted by a divorce. At the very least, there will be a financial loss that cuts off charitable giving. At the worst, the potential impact that a good marriage and good Christian children have for the Kingdom will be lost.

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