Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Massachusetts town goes after Christian college over sexual morality

Salem, MA Mayor Kimberley Driscoll

Salem, MA Mayor Kimberley Driscoll

From Campus Reform.

Excerpt:

The town of Salem, Mass., has pitted itself against Gordon College after the president of the private Christian school added his name to a public letter to President Obama asking for a religious exemption from a planned federal mandate.

The expected executive order would force any organization receiving federal funds, including religiously based organizations, to hire people whose sexual conduct may not fall in line with their beliefs. Gordon says the mandate would be an “infringement on religious liberty” and “the rights of faith-based institutions to establish a set of standards and expectations for their community.”

Gordon’s statement of faith and conduct defines marriage as the “lifelong one-flesh union of one man and one woman.” It also clarifies that the school is against “homosexual acts,” not “same-sex orientation,” and claims that it expects its students and faculty to “refrain from any sexual intercourse—heterosexual or homosexual; premarital or extramarital—outside of the marriage covenant.”

“Signing the letter was in keeping with our decades-old conviction that, as an explicitly Christian institution, Gordon should set the conduct expectations for members of our community,” Gordon College President Michael Lindsay said in a statement. “Nothing has changed in our position.”

[...]It was Lindsay’s signature that prompted Salem Mayor Kimberly Driscoll to publicly chastise the school, calling the small Christian college’s longstanding policies of expressly forbidding homosexual practices “offensive” in a statement released by the city. Driscoll went on to say that the city was revoking its contract with the college over the management of the city’s Old Town Hall facility.

“While I respect your rights to embed religious values on a private college campus, religious freedom does not afford you the right to impose those beliefs upon others and cannot be extended into a publicly owned facility or any management contract or a publicly owned facility, like Old Town Hall,” she said.

So the mayor has decided that she should punish Christians because they have beliefs that are different than hers. She is forcing her beliefs on Lindsay, and if he then agreed with her, she would remove the punishment. Isn’t it amazing how secular people are able to accuse others of doing something that they are doing themselves, and their heads don’t explode from the illogic?

Filed under: News, , , , ,

Is Mormonism supported by evidence from science, philosophy and history?

This post presents evidence against Mormonism/LDS in three main areas. The first is in the area of science. The second is in the area of philosophy. And the third is in the area of history.

The scientific evidence

First, let’s take a look at what the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, believes about the origin of the universe:

“The elements are eternal. That which had a beggining will surely have an end; take a ring, it is without beggining or end – cut it for a beggining place and at the same time you have an ending place.” (“Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, p. 205)

“Now, the word create came from the word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos – chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existance from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beggining, and can have no end.”
(“Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, p. 395)

A Mormon scholar named Blake Ostler summarizes the Mormon view in a Mormon theological journal:

“In contrast to the self-sufficient and solitary absolute who creates ex nihilo (out of nothing), the Mormon God did not bring into being the ultimate constituents of the cosmos — neither its fundamental matter nor the space/time matrix which defines it. Hence, unlike the Necessary Being of classical theology who alone could not not exist and on which all else is contingent for existence, the personal God of Mormonism confronts uncreated realities which exist of metaphysical necessity. Such realities include inherently self-directing selves (intelligences), primordial elements (mass/energy), the natural laws which structure reality, and moral principles grounded in the intrinsic value of selves and the requirements for growth and happiness.” (Blake Ostler, “The Mormon Concept of God,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17 (Summer 1984):65-93)

So, Mormons believe in an eternally existing universe, such that matter was never created out of nothing, and will never be destroyed. But this is at odds with modern cosmology.

The Big Bang cosmology is the most widely accepted cosmology of the day. It is based on several lines of evidence, and is broadly compatible with Genesis. It denies the past eternality of the universe. This peer-reviewed paper in an astrophysics journal explains. (full text here)

Excerpt:

The standard Big Bang model thus describes a universe which is not eternal in the past, but which came into being a finite time ago. Moreover,–and this deserves underscoring–the origin it posits is an absolute origin ex nihilo. For not only all matter and energy, but space and time themselves come into being at the initial cosmological singularity. As Barrow and Tipler emphasize, “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo.

[...]On such a model the universe originates ex nihilo in the sense that at the initial singularity it is true that There is no earlier space-time point or it is false that Something existed prior to the singularity.

Christian cosmology requires such a creation out of nothing, but this is clearly incompatible with what Mormons believe about the universe. The claims about the universe made by the two religions are in disagreement, and we can test empirically to see who is right, using science.

Philosophical problems

Always Have a Reason contrasts two concepts of God in Mormonism: Monarchotheism and Polytheism. It turns out that although Mormonism is actually a polytheistic religion, like Hinduism. In Mormonism, humans can become God and then be God of their own planet. So there are many Gods in Mormonism, not just one.

Excerpt:

[T]he notion that there are innumerable contingent “primal intelligences” is central to this Mormon concept of god (P+M, 201; Beckwith and Parrish, 101). That there is more than one god is attested in the Pearl of Great Price, particularly Abraham 4-5. This Mormon concept has the gods positioned to move “primal intelligences along the path to godhood” (Beckwith and Parrish, 114). Among these gods are other gods which were once humans, including God the Father. Brigham Young wrote, “our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father, and again, He was begotten by a still more ancient Father, and so on…” (Brigham Young, The Seer, 132, quoted in Beckwith and Parrish, 106).

[...]The logic of the Mormon polytheistic concept of God entails that there is an infinite number of gods. To see this, it must be noted that each god him/herself was helped on the path to godhood by another god. There is, therefore, an infinite regress of gods, each aided on his/her path to godhood by a previous god. There is no termination in this series. Now because this entails an actually infinite collection of gods, the Mormon polytheistic concept of deity must deal with all the paradoxes which come with actually existing infinities…

The idea of counting up to an actual infinite number of things by addition (it doesn’t matter what kind of thing it is) is problematic. See here.

More:

Finally, it seems polytheistic Mormonism has a difficulty at its heart–namely the infinite regress of deity.

[...]Each god relies upon a former god, which itself relies upon a former god, forever. Certainly, this is an incoherence at the core of this concept of deity, for it provides no explanation for the existence of the gods, nor does it explain the existence of the universe.

Now let’s see the historical evidence against Mormonism.

The historical evidence

J. Warner Wallace explains how the “Book of Abraham”, a part of the Mormon Scriptures, faces historical difficulties.

The Book of Abraham papyri are not as old as claimed:

Mormon prophets and teachers have always maintained that the papyri that was purchased by Joseph Smith was the actual papyri that was created and written by Abraham. In fact, early believers were told that the papyri were the writings of Abraham.

[...]There is little doubt that the earliest of leaders and witnesses believed and maintained that these papyri were, in fact the very scrolls upon which Abraham and Joseph wrote. These papyri were considered to be the original scrolls until they were later recovered in 1966. After discovering the original papyri, scientists, linguists, archeologists and investigators (both Mormon and non-Mormon) examined them and came to agree that the papyri are far too young to have been written by Abraham. They are approximately 1500 to 2000 years too late, dating from anywhere between 500 B.C. (John A. Wilson, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1968, p. 70.) and 60 A.D. If they papyri had never been discovered, this truth would never have come to light. Today, however, we know the truth, and the truth contradicts the statements of the earliest Mormon leaders and witnesses.

The Book of Abraham papyri do not claim what Joseph Smith said:

In addition to this, the existing papyri simply don’t say anything that would place them in the era related to 2000BC in ancient Egypt. The content of the papyri would at least help verify the dating of the document, even if the content had been transcribed or copied from an earlier document. But the papyri simply tell us about an ancient burial ritual and prayers that are consistent with Egyptian culture in 500BC. Nothing in the papyri hints specifically or exclusively to a time in history in which Abraham would have lived.

So there is a clear difference hear between the Bible and Mormonism, when it comes to historical verification.

Further study

There is a very good podcast featuring J. Warner Wallace that summarizes some other theological problems with Mormonism that I blogged about before. And if you want a nice long PDF to print out and read at lunch (which is what I did with it) you can grab this PDF by Michael Licona, entitled “Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock“.

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

Does holding to liberal social views automatically make you tolerant?

WARNING: This post contains strong language taken from actual messages sent by angry people. Reader discretion is advised.

I just want to quote some of the insults and death threats that social conservative Matt Walsh received. (H/T Melissa)

Excerpt:

To my leftwing friends:

Last night, someone sent me an email threatening to murder me because they disagree with my opinions. It read, in part:

“F*ck you… I will find a way to kill you. Make no god d*mn mistake, you filth.”

Concise. Eloquent. And now on file with the state police.

After I reported the threat to law enforcement, I didn’t pay it much mind. But then, a few minutes ago, I received this message from someone else:

“Matt, you are so filled with hate in everything you write. You are part of the reason why conservative teabaggers in this country are nothing but hate mongers and bigots. Do you want to know why I’m a “liberal”? Because liberals know how to make a point without being hateful and spiteful.”(Emphasis mine).

I laughed quite heartily when I read that. Perfect timing. Mere hours after someone called me ‘filth’ and announced their plan to end my existence all because of my beliefs, I’m informed that these are precisely the people who ‘know how to make a point without being hateful and spiteful.’

At first I dismissed this claim and concluded, as I often do, that the person who said it couldn’t possibly be serious. Does he really not notice the hate and hostility pouring like sewage out of his own ideological camp? Does he really think that hate is somehow a ‘conservative’ thing? No, I thought. Nobody is that oblivious.

Actually, kids on college campuses are being educated in such a one-sided way so that this kind of philosophical fail is not only common but almost universal. Brendan Eich lost his job for making a tiny pro-marriage donation. Pro-abortion terrorists vandalize pro-life displays in the name of “free speech”. Sometimes the pro-abortion activists go as far as assaulting you. Sometimes the gay activists just try to murder you outrightwith guns. Many people on the left have been indoctrinated to believe this sort of intolerance of others is logically consistent and even virtuous. They shout down any attempt to engage them with any view that is not their own.

More Matt:

“Matt, f*ck you. I seriously hope you die.”

F*ck you and your entire website you f*cking douche. I have known I am transgender for a long time… You are very sick in the head and I hope you rot in hell. I will pray Lucifer himself finds you.

“Hey f*ck you. Die. That’s all.”

“You’re a f*cking bigot piece of sh*t…”

“I’ve decided that I’m going to block any friend who reposts your trash on Facebook. You are the worst human being on the planet and the world would be better if you weren’t part of it.”

“Dear Matt, you’re horrible. Kill yourself.”

“Oh, like you don’t already know you’re a piece of sh*t. F*ck you.”

“Matt, I saw a Tweet that said you’re a flaming bag of dogsh*t on the doorstep of the internet. I thought it was great but kind of insulting to dog sh*t.”

“Matt, shut the f*ck up with your hate and homophobia. You are the biggest assh*le I’ve ever seen. Go crawl into a f*cking hole somewhere and die.”

“Anytime someone retweets or shares your posts I die a little inside. Your like a cancer on the internet. You’re an embarrassment bro. Seriously, you’re the worst.”

Look, see? Hatred.

Loathing, despising, detesting, hating.

Not just hatred of my ideas or my actions, but hatred of me personally. A boiling, ungodly rage. A yearning to see me burn in Hell for all eternity. Malicious feelings targeted at me, the human being. A desire to see me dead, hurt, dehumanized. A wish to kill me because of my ideology.

Hatred. Let me assure you that it is a huge problem in the liberal ranks. I experience it everyday. Before you spend another minute lamenting the perceived ‘hatred’ of conservative bloggers and media personalities, I suggest you look into your own souls. I have seen and felt the cold, stinging hatred that lives there, and it is surely the nastiest and most brutal sort.

Personally, I think that this is part and parcel of the embrace of secularism. Look, let’s call a spade a spade. If you think there is no God, then you can’t ground morality rationally, you can’t ground moral duties rationally, you can’t ground human rights rationally, you can’t ground human dignity rationally. Your purpose in life is to have a good time. If someone tells you that you are doing wrong and harming others, then there are no restraints – within the worldview of atheism – on what you can do to stop them from even disapproving of your selfish, destructive behavior.

Matt offers this conclusion about his real motives for standing tall for traditional moral boundaries:

Sometimes I get very angry at the legions of progressive nihilists who stand as staunch advocates for some of the greatest evils mankind has ever witnessed (like abortion, for instance), but beyond anger I always feel pity. I believe that you’ll destroy yourself with your philosophy before you destroy anyone else, and I sincerely wish for you to avoid that fate.

If I truly think that my views are correct, and that the rejection of neo-liberal cultural dogma will lead you to greater joy and fulfillment in life, ultimately bringing you out of the darkness and into the light of truth, why would I try to help you in that process if I hated you?

I wouldn’t. I’d let you drown and die. I’d watch and relish the sight.

That’s how a hateful person would handle the situation. He’d keep his opinions to himself. He wouldn’t bother. He’d let society run headfirst over the cliff, and he wouldn’t care as long as he personally remains standing at the top. The real hateful conservatives and Christians are the ones who say nothing. They see the same truth that I do, and that so many others do, yet they have no interest in opening anyone else’s eyes to it. In fact, they are examples of something worse than hate: indifference.

[...]Indeed, just because someone voices a disagreement with you doesn’t mean they hate you. Often, it means the exact opposite.

What we are seeing now is the resurgence of a worldview of selfishness that will lead to barbarism against the weak. You can see it in the acceptance of abortion, no-fault divorce, gay marriage, and so on. There is no reason to think that it will slow down unless those of us who have rationally grounded beliefs in human rights and objective morality speak out now, while there is still time. This is not a game for the timid, though, so buckle up. Innocent lives, born and unborn, are depending on you to succeed. When you go out to defend the truth, make sure you’ve prepared your arguments and evidence with excellence, at the highest level. Make sure there is love for your enemy in in your heart and the sounds of your prayers for them still echoing around you.

UPDATE: I recognize that there are some secular pro-life people. Here is a good post from Secular Pro-Life. (H/T Well Spent Journey) But they are in the minority – most secularists support abortion, which is, I think just morally and rationally indefensible. If moral goodness means anything, it means protecting the weak from selfish destructiveness. We have to give up our hedonism for the benefit of little defenseless children in the womb. That’s just Morality 101. If you can go all the way, and not engage in sexual activity that puts unborn children at risk, do that. I’m a virgin, and I value love and romance above recreational sex. Follow me.

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

Three cases where liberal tinkering with sexual ethics and marriage hurt children

This post by “Jane Galt” on Right Wing News highlights three cases where social liberals change the cultural rules around sex and marriage, and it ended up back-firing to hurt children. I will talk about one case below.

The case I want to talk about is the case of changing welfare laws.

Excerpt:

To sketch a brief history of welfare, it emerged in the nineteenth century as “Widows and orphans pensions”, which were paid by the state to destitute families whose breadwinner had passed away. They were often not available to blacks; they were never available to unwed mothers. Though public services expanded in the first half of the twentieth century, that mentality was very much the same: public services were about supporting unfortunate families, not unwed mothers. Unwed mothers could not, in most cases, obtain welfare; they were not allowed in public housing (which was supposed to be–and was–a way station for young, struggling families on the way to homeownership, not a permanent abode); they were otherwise discriminated against by social services. The help you could expect from society was a home for wayward girls, in which you would give birth and then put the baby up for adoption.

[...]Now, in the late fifties, a debate began over whether to extend benefits to the unmarried. It was unfair to stigmatise unwed mothers. Why shouldn’t they be able to avail themselves of the benefits available to other citizens? The brutal societal prejudice against illegitimacy was old fashioned, bigoted, irrational.

But if you give unmarried mothers money, said the critics, you will get more unmarried mothers.

“Ridiculous”, said the proponents of the change. “Being an unmarried mother is a brutal, thankless task. What kind of idiot would have a baby out of wedlock just because the state was willing to give her paltry welfare benefits?”

People do all sorts of idiotic things, said the critics. If you pay for something, you usually get more of it.

“C’mon” said the activists. “That’s just silly. I just can’t imagine anyone deciding to get pregnant out of wedlock simply because there are welfare benefits available.”

Oooops.

Of course, change didn’t happen overnight. But the marginal cases did have children out of wedlock, which made it more acceptable for the next marginal case to do so. Meanwhile, women who wanted to get married essentially found themselves in competition for young men with women who were willing to have sex, and bear children, without forcing the men to take any responsibility. This is a pretty attractive proposition for most young men. So despite the fact that the sixties brought us the biggest advance in birth control ever, illegitimacy exploded. In the early 1960s, a black illegitimacy rate of roughly 25 percent caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan to write a tract warning of a crisis in “the negro family” (a tract for which he was eviscerated by many of those selfsame activists.)

By 1990, that rate was over 70 percent. This, despite the fact that the inner city, where the illegitimacy problem was biggest, only accounts for a fraction of the black population.

But in that inner city, marriage had been destroyed. It had literally ceased to exist in any meaningful way.

So what went wrong? Why did people with some good intentions achieve such bad results?

This went wrong:

Why would a woman choose such a hard road? It seemed self-evident that the only unwed mothers claiming benefits would be the ones pushed there by terrible circumstance.

This argument is compelling and logical. I would never become an unwed welfare mother, even if benefits were a great deal higher than they are now. It seems crazy to even suggest that one would bear a child out of wedlock for $567 a month. Indeed, to this day, I find the reformist side much more persuasive than the conservative side, except for one thing, which is that the conservatives turned out to be right. In fact, they turned out to be even more right than they suspected; they were predicting upticks in illegitimacy that were much more modest than what actually occurred–they expected marriage rates to suffer, not collapse.

How did people go so badly wrong? Well, to start with, they fell into the basic fallacy that economists are so well acquainted with: they thought about themselves instead of the marginal case. For another, they completely failed to realise that each additional illegitimate birth would, in effect, slightly destigmatise the next one. They assigned men very little agency, failing to predict that women willing to forgo marriage would essentially become unwelcome competition for women who weren’t, and that as the numbers changed, that competition might push the marriage market towards unwelcome outcomes. They failed to forsee the confounding effect that the birth control pill would have on sexual mores.

But I think the core problems are two. The first is that they looked only at individuals, and took instititutions as a given. That is, they looked at all the cultural pressure to marry, and assumed that that would be a countervailing force powerful enough to overcome the new financial incentives for out-of-wedlock births. They failed to see the institution as dynamic. It wasn’t a simple matter of two forces: cultural pressure to marry, financial freedom not to, arrayed against eachother; those forces had a complex interplay, and when you changed one, you changed the other.

The second is that they didn’t assign any cultural reason for, or value to, the stigma on illegitimacy. They saw it as an outmoded vestige of a repressive Victorial values system, based on an unnatural fear of sexuality. But the stigma attached to unwed motherhood has quite logical, and important, foundations: having a child without a husband is bad for children, and bad for mothers, and thus bad for the rest of us. So our culture made it very costly for the mother to do. Lower the cost, and you raise the incidence. As an economist would say, incentives matter.

Incentives matter. We don’t want to encourage people to do harmful, costly things and hurt children in the name of “compassion”.

But let’s get back to the bigger issue.

When you hear a person arguing for “compassion” for people who make immoral decisions, you should understand that they are arguing that moral boundaries on costly behavior be lifted. The costs that result from bad behavior are shifted from those who sin to those who don’t. The compassion crowd likes to cite one or two cases where someone is a genuine victim – but that is not the issue. The issue is the general case, and the incentives created that cause people on the margins to change their behavior. The word compassion should really be understood to mean “the act of saying that wrong is right, and covering up the damage for wrong actions with someone else’s money, taken from them by force”. That’s compassion, and it is celebrated in the feminized church as very Biblical. It’s nothing of the kind. This is not about judging people, it’s about helping people to avoid making mistakes that impoverish us all and harm the most vulnerable among us. We should not be encouraging irresponsible, selfish, immoral behavior and calling it “compassion”.

Marriage is a good thing that protects children, who are very much in need of protection. We shouldn’t be messing with it just so that we grown-ups can do things that make us feel good. Children are more important, because they are more vulnerable.

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

William Lane Craig lectures on the postmodern challenge to belief in God

In a lecture entitled “Are there Objective Truths About God?”, philosopher William Lane Craig responds to postmodern challenges to the idea of truth, and specifically to the idea that religion is about objective truth.

Here’s the link to a page containing the lecture audio. (H/T Be Thinking)

The MP3 file is here.

So what questions does Bill answer in the lecture?

What is a self-refuting statement?

The main concept in the lecture is self-refutation. A self-refuting sentence is a sentence that, if true, makes itself false or meaningless. For example, suppose someone said to you: “there are no sentences longer than 5 words” then that would be self-refuting since it falsifies itself. Bill argues that objections to the idea that there are objective truths about God are all self-refuting.

What is truth?

Craig holds that “truth” is a property of a proposition such that a proposition is true if it corresponds to the external world. For example, if I claim that there is a crocodile in your closet and we find a crocodile in your closet, then my statement was true. If there is no crocodile in your closet then my statement was false. The real objective world out there is what makes propositional claims true or false – these are not claims about an individual’s preferences, they are claims about the world. Bill is concerned with truth claims about God that are objective – whether there are propositions about God that are true regardless of what anyone thinks.

Are there objective truths about God?

Bill discusses 3 objections to the idea that there are objective truths about God. Each objection seeks to make religion subjective, (true for each person, like food preferences or clothing fashion).

Objection #1:The Challenge of Verificationism

The first challenge is that religious claims cannot be verified using the 5 senses, and therefore religious statements are objectively meaningless.

Consider the statement “Only propositions that can be verified with the 5 senses are meaningful”. That statement cannot be verified with the 5 senses. If the statement is true, it makes itself meaningless. It’s self-refuting.

Objection #2: The Challenge of Mystical Anti-Realism

The second challenge is that religious claims, and claims about God, are neither true nor false.

Consider the statement “Propositions about God cannot be true or false”. Craig asks – why should we accept that? Any reason given would have to assert something about God that is true or false, and those reasons would contradict the original statement. For example, “God is too great to be grasped by human categories of thought” is a proposition about God that the speaker thinks is true, which contradicts the original assertion.

Objection #3: The Challenge of Radical Pluralism

The third challenge is that each person invents an entire reality of their own, and that there is no mind-independent objective world shared by individuals.

Consider the statement “There is no objective reality shared by all individuals”. That statement is a statement that applies to all individuals, regardless of what they think.  It’s self-refuting.

Conclusion

Craig ends the lecture by arguing that it is OK for Christians to think that other people’s views are false. It does not follow that just because someone thinks other people’s views are wrong that they am going to mistreat other people. In fact, in Christianity it is objectively true that it is good for Christians to love their enemies. It is objectively true that all human beings have value, because human beings are made by God. So even if Christians disagree with others, they still treat them well, because they think that there are moral truths that they have to conform to.

My thoughts

Sometimes, non-Christians think that it is dangerous to hold beliefs too strongly. But I think what really matters is the content of the belief – some beliefs are false and some are true – you want to believe the true beliefs as strongly as you can, as long as the evidence warrants it. In Christianity, I am absolutely obligated to treat people with whom I disagree with respect and gentleness (1 Pet 3:15-16). The more convinced I am about that belief, the better my opponents will be treated. A stronger belief in Christianity means more tolerance for those who disagree.

Why do non-Christians get so offended when Christians claim to be right about there being only one way to be rightly related to God? Well, for many it’s because their worldview is a personal preference, and they feel uncomfortable having to defend it rationally and evidentially. Christianity is different – we are used to having to defend our truth claims using evidence, because that is the core of the religion, and the example of the founder and his closest followers.

For most people, religion is just their cultural preference – like cooking style, or favorite sport, or clothing style. That’s why they respond to your truth claims with name-calling like “you’re intolerant” and “you’re judgemental” and “you’re arrogant”. These are just shorthand ways of saying, “I’m offended that you think that what you believe is true and you think that what I believe is false”. They would never say that in a math classroom or a chemistry lab, where truth matters. But because they are coming to the discussion with the presupposition that religion is like clothing and diet preferences, they take everything personally instead of treating religion as something objective, just like any other area of knowledge.

This problem of being offended by truth claims is especially common with people who are raised to think that their religion is a racial, national or cultural identity. They haven’t thought anything through, or considered any alternatives, and they think that if you tell them they are wrong  on matters of fact that somehow this amounts to some sort of racism, intolerance or prejudice. You make factual claims, and they hear discrimination. But that’s not how Christians think of religion – we only care if it’s true or not – just like we care whether the claims of history or science are true or not. For many non-Christians, religion is not about truth at all but about personal preferences – and they cannot understand why Christians say that they have to go to Hell for having the wrong personal preferences. You have to tell them that religion is about truth, and that people displease God because they don’t know what is true, and they don’t want to know what is true. Then they understand why you are disagreeing with them and you can have a conversation about what is true.

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