Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Mozilla claims to be inclusive but forces pro-marriage CEO Brendan Eich to step down

This article from Townhall by Guy Benson is a must-read.

Excerpt:

Eich is out on his ear for the unpardonable sin of subscribing to a moral and political belief so mean-spirited and close-minded that it was shared by President Obama back when the fateful contribution was made. (Obama was never actually against gay marriage, but it was his public stance for awhile). Indeed, a majority of California voters endorsed Proposition 8 that year, including substantial majorities of Hispanics and African-Americans. When Eich’s private beliefs recently came to light, online petitioners demanded that he either renounce them or be fired. Think about that. “Renounce your beliefs and agree with us, or else” is not a sentence that should be uttered lightly, if ever, in a free society. Scalp collected, and message received. They didn’t even seriously allege — let alone try to prove — that Eich’s tenure as CEO would be marked by discrimination in any way. It was his mere presence that was intolerable. An appeal to reason from one of Eich’s gay colleagues evidently fell on deaf ears:

Mozilla’s Education Lead Christie Koehler, who is gay, also defended the company in a blog post, despite stressing that she was “disappointed” to learn that Eich had made donations in support of Prop 8. “Certainly it would be problematic if Brendan’s behavior within Mozilla was explicitly discriminatory … I haven’t personally seen this (although to be clear, I was not part of Brendan’s reporting structure until today),” she wrote. “To the contrary, over the years I have watched Brendan be an ally in many areas and bring clarity and leadership when needed.”

Ah, but who needs “clarity and leadership” in a CEO when there are ideological conformity tests to satisfy? Upon Eich’s departure, Mozilla issued a statement expressing their support of “free speech and equality,” with no apparent trace of irony. Gay rights organization GLAAD was even less self-aware in its official response:

Mozilla’s strong statement in favor of equality today reflects where corporate America is: inclusive, safe, and welcoming to all.

Inclusive and welcoming to all…unless you’re a hateful “bigot” who disagrees with us on the definition of marriage — in which case, get the hell out.

[UPDATE: Link to PJ Tatler story removed, and title of this post changed]

Let’s take a look at one case of fascism in detail.

Frank Turek, too

You might remember that this happened to well-known Christian apologist Frank Turek when he spoke at Cisco.

Excerpt:

In 2008, Dr. Turek was hired by Cisco to design and conduct a leadership and teambuilding program for about fifty managers with your Remote Operations Services team. The program took about a year to conduct, during which he also conducted similar sessions for another business unit within Cisco. That training earned such high marks that in 2010 he was asked to design a similar program for about 200 managers within Global Technical Services. Ten separate eight-hour sessions were scheduled.

The morning after completing the seventh session earlier this year, a manager in that session —who was one of the better students in that class—phoned in a complaint. It had nothing to do with content of the course or how it was conducted. In fact, the manager commented that the course was “excellent” as did most who participated. His complaint regarded Dr. Turek’s political and religious views that were never mentioned during class, but that the manager learned by “googling” Dr. Turek after class.

The manager identified himself as gay and was upset that Dr. Turek had written this book providing evidence that maintaining our current marriage laws would be best for the country. Although the manager didn’t read the book, he said that the author’s view was inconsistent with “Cisco values” and could not be tolerated. (Dr. Turek is aware of this because he was in the room when his call came in.) The manager then contacted an experienced HR professional at Cisco who had Dr. Turek fired that day without ever speaking to him. The HR professional also commended the manager for “outing” Dr. Turek.

This firing had nothing to do with course content—the program earned very high marks from participants. It had nothing to do with budget constraints—the original contract was paid in full recently. A man was fired simply because of his personal political and religious beliefs—beliefs that are undoubtedly shared by thousands of your very large and diverse workforce.

When I meet people at lectures, debates and conferences, the first question they ask me is why I have an alias. This case explains why. It’s much harder to get a job or a promotion when people on the secular left can just search the Internet for all your views and rule you out – or have you fired. It doesn’t matter if you are using peer-reviewed data to make your case, as I do. They don’t care about facts, they just want you to stop disagreeing with them and start celebrating their views.

You absolutely have to have an alias if you are a man who expects to provide for a family. And don’t take chances – save everything you make for that day when they find out who you really are, so you can go down fighting.

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

Leader of gay student group: disagreeing with us makes us kill ourselves

The latest from Life Site News about Stanford’s University’s attempt to suppress a pro-natural-marriage group’s campus event.

Excerpt:

At a recent GSC meeting, SAS co-president Judy Romea reminded student leaders that not only is the SAS not “anti-gay,” it stood “in solidarity” with homosexual groups against the controversial Westboro Baptist Church when it held a protest on campus.

But that wasn’t enough for campus gay activist groups, who turned out en masse for the same GSC meeting to demand that funding for the event be pulled.

“Their viewpoint kills people,” Jeffrey Cohen, vice president of GradQ, a homosexual advocacy group for graduate students, told the GSC.  “There’s a lot of research published in top psychology journals that have looked at university environments, both positive and negative. An event such as this would be a negative event, [and] in schools that have negative events there is a statistically significant increase in suicide.”  He said the last time a pro-marriage speaker visited the campus, someone told him “they wanted to kill themselves.”

Cohen said he was especially “bothered by the idea that their conference is trying to create better ways to deliver [the pro-marriage] message. … The idea that they are learning how to deliver their message scares [me].”  Cohen suggested SAS cancel its conference and instead hold a joint event with GradQ in which gay activists would have a chance to promote their message too.

Ben Holston, chair of the undergraduate senate, also threw his weight behind the gay groups. “This is an event that hurts the Stanford community,” Holston said. “To express a belief that, for some reason this event is not discriminatory, is completely off-base. This event as it stands, given the speakers, and given that they have said the event is supposed to ‘promote one-man one-woman [marriage],’ which promotes stripping away rights of people in this room, is unacceptable on Stanford’s campus.”  He urged the GSC to withdraw its funding for the conference.

Now I’m chaste, and a virgin, so I was just imagining what it would be like for me at Yale during Sex Week, when my student fees (hypothetically) would be used to bring in sex addicts to instruct college students that my view is sick and twisted and that binge drinking and premarital promiscuity is morally praiseworthy. Does anyone here seriously think that I would threaten to commit suicide unless people who disagreed with my chastity and virginity stopped disagreeing with me? No. A sex addict’s disapproval of my chastity and virginity doesn’t make me want to commit suicide, because I am not insane. I’m also not engaged in immoral behavior by being chaste and remaining a virgin. Criticism of me for being moral doesn’t bother me – that’s your problem if you disagree with morality.

If you tell me that what I’m doing is wrong, I’ve got piles of papers in peer-reviewed journals showing me that for my plans – life-long married love and influential Christian children raised by a stay-at-home mom – chastity is the best plan. But it doesn’t bother me if you disagree with me, and I’m not going to attack your place of work with guns, vandalize your church, or force you to lose your job – because I’m not a gay activist. I don’t care that you disagree with me, because I believe that there is a right to free speech and no right to force you to celebrate and fund my sexual orientation.

That gay activist sounded insane, but I don’t think that most gay people agree with him.

Look:

Ben, a graduate student in neuroscience, told the GSC that even though he is homosexual, he believes the SAS should be able to access the same student funding as any other group.

“What bothers [me] the most is that in the name of tolerance, we are silencing and taking away support from a view that we don’t agree with,” Ben said. “These views are out there, we should listen to them. I totally disagree with these people, but we need to hear what they have to say.  We need to hear SAS.”

Now there is a gay person I can tolerate – because he tolerates me.

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

Pro-marriage event at Stanford University deemed “hate speech”, denied funding

From The College Fix.

Excerpt:

An upcoming conference organized by Stanford University’s Anscombe Society called “Communicating Values: Marriage, Family & the Media” has been dubbed “hate speech” by the college’s graduate-level student government, which refused to allow any of its student fee-funded budget to support the event.

The Anscombe Society is a conservative student group centered around traditional marriage and family values; it also encourages chastity, and tackles subjects such as sexual integrity and pornography.

According to the minutes of the student government meeting on March 5, a large group of angry students attended to protest the conference and its request for funding.

[...]Ultimately, the Graduate Student Council refused a $600 funding request: “With a vote of 10 for, 2 against, and 2 abstaining, the funding to Anscombe Society has been retracted by the GSC,” the minutes stated. What’s more, the Stanford Daily reports that the undergraduate student government also denied the Stanford Anscombe Society a $5,000 funding request last week.

According to the Anscombe Society’s website, the event aims to “help university students and young adults to promote the values of marriage, family, and sexual integrity to the broader popular culture. Featuring speakers at the forefront of this effort, the conference will allow students to network with other individuals who are willing to engage in intellectual and civil discourse about the issues of marriage, family, and sexual integrity.”

These days it seems as if college students have moved away from the traditional view of marriage in more ways than just the male-female formulation. They think that male-female marriage is too restrictive because marriage should be about being happy and being in love, not about complementary sexes. Marriage should last as long as love-feelings and happy-feelings last, it’s not about commitment and self-sacrifice and the responsibilities of parenting.  Now, the marriage means happily ever after – it means that if you have a wedding, then you are guaranteed happiness, without having any self-sacrificial responsibilities to spouses or children. It means that you can continue to be selfish, and that somehow, you and the other person will be able to keep the relationship going by just living like you’re each still single. Your spouse is there to make you happy. Your children are there to make you happy. There is nothing that marriage teaches you, because there is no design for it other than to produce happy feelings.

My view is that people who are rejecting the old definition of marriage, and the old responsibilities of husbands and wives in marriage, will never be able to produce a lasting, loving marriage. Either the challenges and responsibilities of marriage and parenting excite you, or you won’t have a real marriage that lasts. If you are going into the the thing with the attitude that there are no rules and responsibilities, and that it’s all about you and your feelings, you will fail. You can have a wedding, but it’s not going to magically produce a permanent, exclusive, life-giving union. Marriage is a specification, and you can’t magically implement the specification with a big wedding, any more than you save enough for retirement by winning the lottery. There is a right way to do it and a wrong way. Smashing all the rules is the wrong way.

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

The Economist: SB 1062 was a reasonable protection of religious liberty

Here’s a case for tolerance of religious liberty from a gay writer in the Economist.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Doing that seems to me to have been point of laws like Arizona’s strangely controversial SB 1062, which was vetoed last week by Jan Brewer, Arizona’s governor. Douglas Laycock, a professor of law at the University of Virginia, recently noted that the thrust of the bill was simply to refine existing state and federal religious-freedom protections. “These laws”, Mr Laycock writes, “enact a uniform standard—substantial burden and compelling interest—to be interpreted and applied to individual cases by courts. They rest on the sound premise that we should not punish people for practicing their religion unless we have a very good reason”. The point of SB 1062 in particular was to clarify “that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion.” Mr Laycock goes on to emphasise, and this is very important:

But nothing in the amendment would have said who wins in either of these cases. SB1062 did not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons. It said that business people could assert a claim or defense under RFRA, … that they would have to prove a substantial burden on a sincere religious practice, that the government or the person suing them would then have the burden of proof on compelling government interest, and that the state courts in Arizona would make the final decision.

It is incorrect to claim, as my colleague did last week, that SB 1062 was “in effect, an exemption from anti-discrimination laws for the pious”. It was not. It was an attempt to calibrate the law so that worthy new legal rights don’t infringe on worthy old ones. If forcing conservative Christian photographers to shoot gay weddings can be shown to promote a “compelling interest” of the state, and if the photographer fails to show that doing so would place a “substantial burden” on her sincere religious beliefs, then refusing to work a gay weddings would remain a violation of existing anti-discrimination law. That seems reasonable to me. As Mr Laycock says, “we should not punish people for practicing their religion unless we have a very good reason”. When we do have a very good reason, we can go right ahead.

It’s important to understand that many gay people are either 1) not in favor of gay marriage or 2) not in favor of forcing Christians to affirm gay marriage. The Economist is a socially liberal, fiscally moderate publication. So I am especially glad to see an article defending religious liberty and tolerance of Christians here. Of all places. I think a lot of people are going to read that and realize that it’s worse to take away the religious liberty of Christians to not participate in activities they oppose, than for gay couples to simple go next door and get the product or service they want.

I also think that this article goes to show you how reasonable SB 1062 was as legislation.

Filed under: News, , ,

Ryan J. Bell’s year of atheism testimony shows need for apologetics

Are you interested in knowing how to avoid losing your Christian faith? Well, an episode of the Unbelievable show will give you some clues.

But before we go to the podcast, I want to recap some reasons why people think that God exists.

In addition to these arguments for theism, Christians should be able to make a minimal facts case for the resurrection, one that leverages the early creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. And some sort of case for the belief that Jesus was divine using only the earliest sources.

In addition to those positive evidences, there would be informed defenses to other questions like the problem of evilthe problem of sufferingreligious pluralismthe hiddenness of Godmaterialist conceptions of mindconsciousness and neurosciencethe justice of eternal damnation,sovereignty and free will, the doctrine of the Incarnation, the doctrine of the Trinity, and so on.

I listed these out so that you can see how many of these positive arguments and defenses that he wrestles with in his deconversion testimony.

The podcast

Details:

Ryan J Bell is a former pastor who has decided to try being an atheist for a year. He explains why and interacts with New Zealand apologist Matt Flannagan.

The MP3 file is here. (We only care about the first 45 minutes)

Matt Flanagan and Justin Brierley do a great job in this debate getting the real issues on the table, although you have to wait until about 20 minutes in. Quick note about Bell. He has a BA in Pastoral Ministry, an MDiv, and a doctorate in Missional Organization. Now I have a suspicion of people with a background like that – my view is that they are more likely to be impractical and/or insulated from real life.

I also noticed that his politics are liberal, and that he is featured on the web site of GLAAD, a gay rights organization, for supporting gay marriage. Why do people support same-sex marriage? I think the most common reason is because they care more about the needs of adults than they care about the needs of children for a mother and a father. That’s where this guy is coming from – he is a people-pleaser, not someone who promotes the needs of children over the needs of adults.

Summary:

At the start of the podcast, we learn that Bell was in the Seventh Day Adventist church, which is strongly invested in young-Earth creationism. Depending on how strict his young Earth view was, this closes off many of the best arguments for theism from science, such as the cosmological argument, the cosmic fine-tuning argument, the stellar habitability argument, the galactic habitability argument, the Cambrian explosion argument, and even the origin of life argument (to a degree). These are the arguments that make theism non-negotiable.

When he started his journey to atheism, he says that he was reading a book called “Religion Without God” by Ronald Dworkin.I was curious to see what view of faith was embraced by this book. Would it be the Biblical view of faith, trust based on evidence? Or the atheist view of faith, belief without evidence? I found an excerpt from the book in the New York Times, which said this:

In the special case of value, however, faith means something more, because our convictions about value are emotional commitments as well and, whatever tests of coherence and internal support they survive, they must feel right in an emotional way as well. They must have a grip on one’s whole personality. Theologians often say that religious faith is a sui generis experience of conviction. Rudolf Otto, in his markedly influential book, The Idea of the Holy, called the experience “numinous” and said it was a kind of “faith-knowledge.” I mean to suggest that convictions of value are also complex, sui generis, emotional experiences. As we will see… when scientists confront the unimaginable vastness of space and the astounding complexity of atomic particles they have an emotional reaction that matches Otto’s description surprisingly well. Indeed many of them use the very term “numinous” to describe what they feel. They find the universe awe-inspiring and deserving of a kind of emotional response that at least borders on trembling.

The excerpt quotes William James, who reduces religion to non-rational emotional experiences. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that view of faith is Biblical at all. Biblical faith is rooted in evidence. So clearly, what is important to this Dworkin is not objective evidence, it’s feelings. And this is what Bell was reading. He was not reading academic books like “Debating Christian Theism” to get the best arguments pro-and-con. He was looking for something that “resonated” with his feelings.

His journey was prompted by a female Episcopal priest friend who was asked by an atheist “what difference does religion make in my life?”. So, the framework of his investigation is set by a question that is not focused on truth, but is instead focused on emotions and life enhancement. Now Christianity might be a real stinker of a worldview for life enhancement, and the Bible warns us not to expect a bed of roses in this life. Christianity is not engineered to make you feel good or to make people like you, especially people like female Episcopal priests and GLAAD.

When talking about atheism, he is not concerned with whether atheism is logically consistent or consistent with objective evidence. He is concerned by whether atheists can have the experience of being moral without God. He sees an atheist who has moral preferences and seems like a good person by our arbitrary social standards, and he finds that as “valid” as religion. He is judging worldviews by whether people have their needs met, not by truth.

He says that as a pastor, his method of evangelizing atheists was to encourage them to “try on faith” “go through the motions” “participate in social justice outreach events”, etc. His goal was that they would “step into the stream of the Christian narrative and discover that it held value and meaning to them, and find that they actually believed it”. So his method of recommending Christianity to others has nothing to do with logic, evidence or truth. He is offering Christianity as life enhancement – not knowledge but a “narrative” – a story. If it makes you feel good, and it makes people like you, then you can “believe” it. He says that he was “a Christian by practice, a Christian by tradition”. Not a Christian by truth. Not a Christian by knowledge. He just picked a flavor of ice cream that tasted right to him, one that pleased his parents, friends and community. And now he has new friends and a new community, and he wants to please them and feel good about himself in this new situation.

He says that the Christian worldview is “a way of approaching reality” and “creating meaning” and “identifying meaning in the experiences we have”. And he says that there are “other ways of experiencing meaning”. He talks a lot about his correspondence with people and reading atheists, but nothing about reading Christian scholars who deal with evidence, like William Lane Craig, Stephen C. Meyer or Mike Licona.

Literal, literal quote: (23:35) “Well I think the only access we have to  the question of God’s existence or not is how we feel. I mean there’s no falsifiable data that says God either exists or doesn’t exist. It’s all within the realm of our personal experience”. “If living as though God exists makes you happy and comforts you, then by all means, go for it”. This attitude is so popular in our churches today, and where does it end? In atheism. I had a fundamentalist woman telling me just last night how this feelings mysticism approach was the right approach to faith, and that the head knowledge approach was bad and offensive.

I’m going to cut off my summary there, but the podcast goes on for 45 minutes. Matt Flannagan is brilliant, and went far beyond what I wanted to say to this guy, but in such a winsome way. I recommend listening to the whole thing, and be clear where this fideistic nonsense ends – in atheism.

My thoughts

This podcast is a great warning against two views: 1) faith is belief without evidence and 2) religion not about truth, but about life enhancement. Three other related stories might also help: the story of Dan Barker, the story of Nathan Pratt and the story of Katy Perry. I think the Christian life requires a commitment to truth above all. If you think that you can get by as a Christian relying on hymn singing, church attending, mysticism and emotional experiences, you have another thing coming. This is a different time and a different place than 50 years ago, when that sort of naivete and emotionalism might have been safe. Now we have many challenges – some intellectual and some not. To stand in this environment, it’s going to take a little more than piety and emotions. 

People today are very much looking for religion to meet their needs. And this is not just in terms of internal feelings, but also peer approval and mystical coincidences. They expect God to give them happy feelings. They expect God to give them peer approval. They expect God to make every crazy unBiblical, unwise selfish plan they invent “work out” by miracle. They feel very constrained by planning and moral boundaries, believing in a “God of love” who is primarily concerned with their desires and feelings, not with rules and duties. Nothing in the Bible supports the idea that a relationship with God is for the purpose of making us feel happy and comfortable. When people realize that they will be happier in this life without having to care what God thinks, they will drop their faith, and there are plenty of non-Christians to cheer them on when they do it.

I would say to all of you reading that if the opinions of others causes you to stumble then meditate on the following passage: 1 Cor 4:1-4 too. There is only one person’s opinion that matters, ultimately.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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