Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

J. Warner Wallace explains and defends the doctrine of Hell in five podcasts

Straight talk on the doctrine of Hell from cold case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace.

Number 1:

In the wake of Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins,” many people are beginning to question the nature and existence of Hell and how exactly God decides who must go there. For many, the idea that our temporal, finite sin on earth should deserve an eternal punishment of infinite torment in hell is ridiculously inequitable. Why would God torture infinitely those who have only sinned finitely? Jim addresses this objection and answers listener email.

The MP3 file is here.

Number 2:

A loving God would never create a place like Hell, would He? Any God that would send people to a place of punishment and torment is unloving by definition, right? In this podcast, Jim responds to these foundational objections to the existence of Hell. In addition, Jim comments on the Harris / Craig debate and answers listener email related to hearing God’s voice.

The MP3 file is here.

Number 3:

In this podcast, Jim answers the objection that God would send people like Gandhi to Hell (simply because they are not Christians) alongside people like Hitler (who have committed unspeakable atrocities). How can a reasonable and just God be the source of such inequitable punishment? Also Jim answers listener email related to the power of prayer, the importance of evidential apologetics and the grounding for objective morality.

The MP3 file is here.

Number 4:

Isn’t it unfair for God to penalize people who are otherwise good, just because they haven’t heard about Jesus? A good God would not send good people to Hell. Jim responds to this objection and answers listener email related to the Craig/Harris debate, pre-existing mythologies that are similar to Jesus, and the difficult, exclusive nature of “election”.

The MP3 file is here.

Number 5:

If God is all-loving, why doesn’t he “reform” people rather than simply “punish” them in Hell? Skeptics sometimes argue that a God who simply punishes his children in Hell is a sadistic and vengeful God, unworthy of our worship. Jim responds to this objection and answers listener email related to the nature of “election”, the evidence for “annihilationism”, and a political quote related to same sex marriage.

The MP3 file is here.

Good listening to help you defend a doctrine that is very unpopular with people who think God should be their cosmic butler.

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The seven fatal flaws of moral relativism

Moral relativism is the view that moral values and moral duties do not exist in reality, but only exist as opinions in people’s minds. When you ask a moral relativism where the belief that stealing is wrong comes wrong, he may tell you that it is his opinion, or that it is the opinion of most people in his society. But he cannot tell you that stealing is wrong independent of what people think, because morality (on moral relativism) is just personal preference.

So what’s wrong with it?

I found this list of the seven flaws of moral relativism at the Australian site Faith Interface.

Here’s the summary:

  1. Moral relativists can’t accuse others of wrongdoing.
  2. Relativists can’t complain about the problem of evil.
  3. Relativists can’t place blame or accept praise.
  4. Relativists can’t make charges of unfairness or injustice.
  5. Relativists can’t improve their morality.
  6. Relativists can’t hold meaningful moral discussions.
  7. Relativists can’t promote the obligation of tolerance.

Here’s my favorite flaw of relativism (#6):

Relativists can’t hold meaningful moral discussions. What’s there to talk about? If morals are entirely relative and all views are equal, then no way of thinking is better than another. No moral position can be judged as adequate or deficient, unreasonable, acceptable, or even barbaric. If ethical disputes make sense only when morals are objective, then relativism can only be consistently lived out in silence. For this reason, it is rare to meet a rational and consistent relativist, as most are quick to impose their own moral rules like “It’s wrong to push your own morality on others”. This puts relativists in an untenable position – if they speak up about moral issues, they surrender their relativism; if they do not speak up, they surrender their humanity. If the notion of moral discourse makes sense intuitively, then moral relativism is false.

I sometimes get a lot of flack from atheists who complain that I don’t let them make any moral statements without asking them first to ground morality on their worldview. And that’s because on atheism morality IS NOT rationally grounded, so they can’t answer. In an accidental universe, you can only describe people’s personal preferences or social customs, that vary by time and place. It’s all arbitrary – like having discussions about what food is best or what clothing is best. The answer is always going to be “it depends”. It depends on the person who is speaking because it’s a subjective claim, not an objective claim. There is no objective way we ought to behave.

The whole point of atheism is to pursue pleasure without the bonds of morality – there is no other reason to do anything on atheism except for the pleasure it gives you. You do fashionable things to feel good getting praise from your neighbors, and you do unfashionable things in private to make yourself feel good and you hope that no one who is powerful enough to hold you accountable ever finds out. There’s no way you were made to be.

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

Woman uses gun to defend herself and her children from home intruder

From WSB-TV in Georgia. (H/T Pro-Existence)

Excerpt:

A woman hiding in her attic with children shot an intruder multiple times before fleeing to safety Friday.

The incident happened at a home on Henderson Ridge Lane in Loganville around 1 p.m. The woman was working in an upstairs office when she spotted a strange man outside a window, according to Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman. He said she took her 9-year-old twins to a crawlspace before the man broke in using a crowbar.

But the man eventually found the family.

“The perpetrator opens that door. Of course, at that time he’s staring at her, her two children and a .38 revolver,” Chapman told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.

The woman then shot him five times, but he survived, Chapman said. He said the woman ran out of bullets but threatened to shoot the intruder if he moved.

“She’s standing over him, and she realizes she’s fired all six rounds. And the guy’s telling her to quit shooting,” Chapman said.

[...]In February, Slater was arrested on simple battery charges, according to the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office. He has been arrested six other times in the county since 2008.

And here’s what makes this story interesting to me:

Kavanaugh was the first reporter at the scene as deputies investigated. The victim’s husband told Kavanaugh he’s proud of his wife. He was on the phone with her as the intruder broke in.

“My wife is a hero. She protected her kids. She did what she was supposed to do as responsible, prepared gun owner,” Donnie Herman said.

He said he’s thankful for his family’s safety.

“Her life is saved, and her kids’ life is saved, and that’s all I’d like to say,” Herman said.

I think that this last part is important. I have many reasons for being cautious about marriage in a time like this. Marriage is a particular thing and there are certain jobs that men and women need to perform in the marriage. Society can either support them or hinder them in those roles. Married men are supposed to be protectors, providers and moral/spiritual leaders in the home, but some laws and policies can hinder their ability to do those roles. For example, high tax rates prevent men from providing, by decreasing economic growth and decreasing take-home pay. Similarly, laws that regulate, ban and criminalize self-defense deter marriage-minded men from marrying. In the UK, homeowners are regularly arrested, tried and convicted for defending their property and family from criminals.

If I were to get married, I need to be able to defend my family. That means owning weapons and being legally protected to use them. Although gun regulations and bans are very popular with single women, I think that this is just another areas where single women need to change their view. Single women have to understand that marriage is a lot more complicated than “happily ever after”. There are specific tasks to perform in marriage. Each parent is suited to different tasks. Single women need to change their views to support policies that are marriage-friendly.

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John Fund: the facts about mass shootings

From National Review. This article was being shared a lot on Facebook.

Excerpt:

Mass shootings are no more common than they have been in past decades, despite the impression given by the media.

In fact, the high point for mass killings in the U.S. was 1929, according to criminologist Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Incidents of mass murder in the U.S. declined from 42 in the 1990s to 26 in the first decade of this century.

The chances of being killed in a mass shooting are about what they are for being struck by lightning.

Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.

[...]First, the mental-health issue. A lengthy study by Mother Jones magazine found that at least 38 of the 61 mass shooters in the past three decades “displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings.”New York Times columnist David Brooks and Cornell Law School professor William Jacobson have both suggested that the ACLU-inspired laws that make it so difficult to intervene and identify potentially dangerous people should be loosened. “Will we address mental-health and educational-privacy laws, which instill fear of legal liability for reporting potentially violent mentally ill people to law enforcement?” asks Professor Jacobson. “I doubt it.”

[...]Economists John Lott and William Landes conducted a groundbreaking study in 1999, and found that a common theme of mass shootings is that they occur in places where guns are banned and killers know everyone will be unarmed, such as shopping malls and schools.

I spoke with Lott after the Newtown shooting, and he confirmed that nothing has changed to alter his findings. He noted that the Aurora shooter, who killed twelve people earlier this year, had a choice of seven movie theaters that were showing the Batman movie he was obsessed with. All were within a 20-minute drive of his home. The Cinemark Theater the killer ultimately chose wasn’t the closest, but it was the only one that posted signs saying it banned concealed handguns carried by law-abiding individuals. All of the other theaters allowed the approximately 4 percent of Colorado adults who have a concealed-handgun permit to enter with their weapons.

[...]Lott offers a final damning statistic: “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”

There is no evidence that private holders of concealed-carry permits (which are either easy to obtain or not even required in more than 40 states) are any more irresponsible with firearms than the police. According to a 2005 to 2007 study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Bowling Green State University, police nationwide were convicted of firearms violations at least at a 0.002 percent annual rate. That’s about the same rate as holders of carry permits in the states with “shall issue” laws.

Please read it. It’s good to have the facts when deciding what to make of individual tragic occurrences.

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

Connecticut shooting shows why we need to ban gun-free zones

Do criminals about to do a mass shooting care about signs?

Do criminals about to do a mass shooting care about signs?

(Thanks to TM for the image)

USA Today has an editorial about the recent shooting in Connecticut and gun-free zones.

Excerpt:

“After a shooting spree,” author William Burroughs once said, “they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.” Burroughs continued: “I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”

Plenty of people — especially among America’s political and journalistic classes — feel differently. They’d be much more comfortable seeing ordinary Americans disarmed. And whenever there is a mass shooting, or other gun incident that snags the headlines, they do their best to exploit the tragedy and push for laws that would, well, take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.

There are a lot of problems with this approach, but one of the most significant is this one: It doesn’t work. One of the interesting characteristics of mass shootings is that they generally occur in places where firearms are banned: malls, schools, etc. That was the finding of a famous 1999 study by John Lott of the University of Maryland and William Landes of the University of Chicago, and it appears to have been borne out by experience since then as well.

In a way, this is no surprise. If there’s someone present with a gun when a mass shooting begins, the shooter is likely to be shot himself. And, in fact, many mass shootings — from the high school shooting by Luke Woodham in Pearl, Miss., to the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo., where an armed volunteer shot the attacker — have been terminated when someone retrieved a gun from a car or elsewhere and confronted the shooter.

Policies making areas “gun free” provide a sense of safety to those who engage in magical thinking, but in practice, of course, killers aren’t stopped by gun-free zones. As always, it’s the honest people — the very ones you want to be armed — who tend to obey the law.

Here’s Dr. John R. Lott to make the case.

Excerpt:

It wasn’t supposed to happen in England, with its very strict gun-control laws. And yet last week, Derrick Bird shot twelve people to death and wounded eleven others in the northwestern county of Cumbria. A headline in the London Times read: “Toughest laws in the world could not stop Cumbria tragedy.”

But surely this was an aberration. Because America has the most guns, multiple-victim public shootings are an American thing, right? No, not at all. Contrary to public perception, Western Europe, most of whose countries have much tougher gun laws than the United States, has experienced many of the worst multiple-victim public shootings. Particularly telling, all the multiple-victim public shootings in Western Europe have occurred in places where civilians are not permitted to carry guns. The same is true in the United States: All the public shootings in which more than three people have been killed have occurred in places where civilians may not legally bring guns.

Look at recent history. Where have the worst K–12 school shootings occurred? Nearly all of them in Europe. The very worst one occurred in a high school in Erfurt, Germany, in 2002, where 18 were killed. The second-worst took place in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, where 16 kindergartners and their teacher were killed. The third-worst, with 15 dead, happened in Winnenden, Germany. The fourth-worst was in the U.S. — Columbine High School in 1999, leaving 13 dead. The fifth-worst, with eleven murdered, occurred in Emsdetten, Germany.

It may be a surprise to those who believe in gun control that Germany was home to three of the five worst attacks. Though not quite as tight as the U.K.’s regulations, Germany’s gun-control laws are some of the most restrictive in Europe. German gun licenses are valid for only three years, and to obtain one, the person must demonstrate such hard-to-define characteristics as trustworthiness, and must also convince authorities that he needs a gun. This is on top of prohibitions on gun ownership for those with mental disorders, drug or alcohol addictions, violent or aggressive tendencies, or felony convictions.

The phenomenon is not limited to school attacks. Multiple-victim public shootings in general appear to be at least as common in Western Europe as they are here. The following is a partial list of attacks since 2001. As mentioned, all of them occurred in gun-free zones — places where guns in the hands of civilians are outlawed.

He then lists about two dozen incidents – all occurring in gun free zones.

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