Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Kansas Republicans pass law banning dismemberment abortions

I'm Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this decision

I’m Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this message

This good news story of the day is from Life News.

They write:

The state of Kansas has been a haven for late-term abortions for decades and pro-life advocates there successfully lobbied the legislature to approve new legislation that would help put an end to some of them.

In a move that it tells LifeNews.com will transform the landscape of abortion policy in the United States, National Right to Life announced a major new component of the right to life movement’s 2015 legislative agenda with introduction in Kansas of the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. The pro-life group says the wave of pro-life victories in the 2014 election helped set the stage for this first-of-its-kind legislation, which would protect unborn children from the brutality of dismemberment abortion.

“Dismemberment abortion kills a baby by tearing her apart limb from limb,” said National Right to Life Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D. “Before the first trimester ends, the unborn child has a beating heart, brain waves, and every organ system in place. Dismemberment abortions occur after the baby has reached these milestones.”

Now, Kansas has approved the bill.

This morning by a voice vote, the Kansas House gave first round approval to landmark pro-life legislation, Senate Bill 95,”The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.”

Kansans for Life Executive Director, Mary Kay Culp, thanked legislators for their diligence in tackling the issue, and enacting a sound law crafted to withstand constitutional scrutimy, that will stop a horrific procedure.

“With the introduction of the bill by lead sponsor, Sen. Garrett Love (R-Montezuma), and 24 Senate co-sponsors, the bill generated immediate grass-roots support and passed the Kansas Senate, 31-9. After a final vote in the House, (possibly later today), SB 95 will head to Gov. Sam Brownback, who has promised his signature,” Culp said.

Culp explained that SB 95 bans a particularly gruesome abortion method in which a living unborn child in her mother’s womb is ripped apart by an abortionist using sharp metal tools. In the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the unborn child, “dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb.”[Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914, 958-959].

The bill was carried on the House floor by Rep. Steve Brunk (R-Wichita), with assistance on legal areas by former judge, Rep. John Rubin (R-Shawnee) – both pro-life leaders in the House.

This is not the first time that Kansas governor Sam Brownback has come through for pro-lifers.

Kansas governor Sam Brownback

Kansas governor Sam Brownback

Here are some of his other achievements:

As you might expect, abortions are down in Kansas.

I am a 3-point conservative, not just a social conservative. It really matters to me that a politician support fiscal conservatism and foreign policy conservatism as well. I never used to like Sam Brownback much because he used to be more fiscally liberal. But that all changed when he became governor of Kansas and turned into this tax-cutting machine – and he’s cutting government spending, too. Now I can’t find a thing wrong with him. He saves unborn babies and returns money to taxpayers, so they can afford to get married and to raise children. Families need the money more than government does.

I think if you’re going to make a Democrat cry, it makes sense to make them cry a lot. So why not do all the things that they don’t want you to do?

Filed under: News, , , , ,

Obama traded 5 Taliban commanders for a soldier now accused of desertion

The Weekly Standard reports:

Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier held captive in Afghanistan by Taliban-affiliated terrorists for nearly five years, will be charged with desertion. Bergdahl was returned to the United States last year in exchange for five Taliban commanders being held at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Previously, the Weekly Standard reported how his fellow soldiers called him a deserter:

In an appearance on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, National Security Adviser Susan Rice claimed that Bergdahl “wasn’t simply a hostage, he was an American prisoner of war, taken on the battlefield.” She added: “He served the United States with honor and distinction.”

“That’s not true,” says Specialist Cody Full, who served in the same platoon as Bergdahl, and whose tweets over the weekend as @CodyFNfootball offered an early firsthand account of Bergdahl’s departure. “He was not a hero. What he did was not honorable. He knowingly deserted and put thousands of people in danger because he did. We swore to an oath and we upheld ours. He did not.”

“He walked off—and ‘walked off’ is a nice way to put it,” says Specialist Josh Cornelison, the medic in Bergdahl’s platoon. “He was accounted for late that afternoon. He very specifically planned to walk out in the middle of the night.”

“He was a deserter,” says Specialist Full. “There’s no question in the minds of anyone in our platoon.”

But Democrat Susan Rice disagrees:

The Weekly Standard:

President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, said on ABC that Bowe Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction” and that “Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield.”

[…]“He is going to be safely reunited with his family. He served the United States with honor and distinction. And we’ll have the opportunity eventually to learn what has transpired in the past years, but what’s most important now is his health and well being, that he have the opportunity to recover in peace and security and be reunited with his family. Which is why this is such a joyous day.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Rice says, “Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield.” She adds, “We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who are taken in battle, and we did that in this instance.”

“Captured on the battlefield”? “Sacred obligation”?I guess we should not be surprised since she also blamed Benghazi on a Youtube video when it was known from the first instant that it was a terrorist attack defended the swap.

What difference does it make?

What difference does it make?

But other Democrats praised the terrorists-for-deserter swap as well:

Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former secretary of state, defended the deal in the days following. Clinton dismissed claims at the time that Bergdahl had deserted as “irrelevant.” “We bring our people home,” she said. Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice said Bergdahl had served with “honor and distinction.”

Congressional leaders were effusive in their praise as well.

“Today is a joyful day for our nation,” said House minority leader Nancy Pelosi in a May 31 statement. “As Sgt. Bergdahl returns home, we join in celebrating his safe return, and in expressing our gratitude for the relentless dedication of all the service members, intelligence officers, and diplomats who worked so hard to make this day a reality.”

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, then the majority leader, took to the Senate floor on June 4 to castigate Republicans criticizing the exchange. “As the president said, this is not a victory for him. It is a victory for the United States military and our country,” said Reid.

Here’s Megyn Kelly interviewing the State Department spokeswoman about the charges:

As Megyn Kelly says in the clip at the top, at least 3 of the 5 released Taliban commanders have tried to reconnect with terrorist networks:

At least three of the five Taliban leaders traded last year for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have tried to plug back into their old terror networks, a government official familiar with the intelligence told Fox News, describing it as an attempt to “re-engage.” 

[…]The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency recently told Congress that, after that expiration, all his officers can do is warn the U.S. government if the men return to the battlefield.

“I’ve seen nothing that causes me to believe these folks are reformed or [have] changed their ways or intend to re-integrate to society in ways to give me any confidence that they will not return in trying to do harm to America,” Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., a member of the House intelligence committee, told Fox News.

The official who described the attempts by three to make contact did not identify the men by name. But the evidence came to light through intelligence from liaison services and monitored communications available to the U.S. government.

A defense official did not dispute the claim, emphasizing that one of the men has come “very close, trying to provide advice, council or inspiration” to his terror network, while the other two had not crossed that line.

As Hillary Clinton would say, “what different at this point does it make?”. I guess if you are a Democrat, trading five of our strongest enemies for a deserter makes a lot of sense, how dare we voters think otherwise?

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

Are Latter Day Saints (LDS) doctrines supported by philosophy, science 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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What are some of the arguments against gay marriage?

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

Here are 10 from the Family Research Council. (H/T Dangerous Idea)

The list:

  1. Children hunger for their biological parents.
  2. Children need fathers.
  3. Children need mothers.
  4. Evidence on parenting by same-sex couples is inadequate.
  5. Evidence suggests children raised by homosexuals are more likely to experience gender and sexual disorders.
  6. Same-sex “marriage” would undercut the norm of sexual fidelity within marriage.
  7. Same-sex “marriage” would further isolate marriage from its procreative purpose.
  8. Same-sex “marriage” would further diminish the expectation of paternal commitment.
  9. Marriages thrive when spouses specialize in gender-typical roles.
  10. Women and marriage domesticate men.

The eleventh one they missed is that a husband’s leadership is beneficial to a woman because it gives her direction and balances her emotional highs and lows. It’s not politically correct to say what women need from men in marriage, but it’s true. Just like men, women have weaknesses that can be corrected and compensated for by the opposite sex. The twelfth one they missed is that same-sex marriage is incompatible with religious liberty, as recent court cases have shown.

Anyway, here are the details on #7:

7. Same-sex “marriage” would further isolate marriage from its procreative purpose.

Traditionally, marriage and procreation have been tightly connected to one another. Indeed, from a sociological perspective, the primary purpose that marriage serves is to secure a mother and father for each child who is born into a society. Now, however, many Westerners see marriage in primarily emotional terms.

Among other things, the danger with this mentality is that it fosters an anti-natalist mindset that fuels population decline, which in turn puts tremendous social, political, and economic strains on the larger society. Same-sex marriage would only further undercut the procreative norm long associated with marriage insofar as it establishes that there is no necessary link between procreation and marriage.

This was spelled out in the Goodridge decision in Massachusetts, where the majority opinion dismissed the procreative meaning of marriage. It is no accident that the countries that have legalized or are considering legalizing same-sex marriage have some of the lowest fertility rates in the world. For instance, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada have birthrates that hover around 1.6 children per woman–well below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1.

I chose this one because I wanted to comment.

I think it’s common today for men and women to not put the production and development of children at the center of their marriage plans. They are not working a financial plan to prepare for children. They are not developing the skills they need to mentor and nurture others. They are resentful of any demands placed on them that restrict their freedom. And they want marriage to be about fun and self-fulfillment. This is not compatible with children, however. And that’s the point. The more we redefine marriage to be about adult selfishness – first with no-fault divorce, then with same-sex marriage – the less emphasis there is on the pre-marital preparations for making and raising children.

If you want to know what you should be doing with your life before marriage, then think of the process of having children and raising children. Think of how much it costs, what skills you will need, and how your character has to be trained. Many of the things that you see young people doing these days – binge drinking, hooking up, running up debt, cohabitating, avoiding things that are hard to do – are not preparing their character for the responsibilities, expectations and obligations that people face when they have children.

Suppose you have a friend who is not good at driving a manual transmission car or not good at weight lifting or not good at doing apologetics – are you able to help them do it, or are you incapable of taking responsibility? If you can’t take responsibility for helping an adult, you certainly can’t take responsibility for a child – children are much less capable. Now are you able to say no to doing things for your own happiness? If you are not able to give up your own happiness – and this is a thing that gets easier as you practice more – then you’re liable to look on your duties to your children with resentment – that you are being “manipulated” into it. You don’t suddenly learn how to put up with children just by walking down the aisle at a wedding. It takes training to get good at being generous with your time, money and effort. It takes practice.

In fact, a smart man who is courting a woman would be trying to get her to practice the behaviors of a wife and mother before he marries her. And the same for a smart women who is being courted by a man. For example, a man has to comfortable giving things to the people around him – he can’t be resentful about it. Even when he doesn’t particularly like those people, he has to focus on their needs, think about where he is trying to lead them, and then work a plan to provide for their needs so they get where he wants them to go. If a man doesn’t like the feel of caring for others who may not be grateful – or who may even hate him – then he should take steps to prepare his character to learn to like it. When a little kid says “I hate you!” to his father, who is paying thousands of dollars for him to grow up, it’s not an easy thing. Always being selfish before you marry is not good preparation for what children will demand of you. This is something I struggle with personally – being content to invest in others who turn out to be ungrateful, and even destructive.

So I think this focus on parenting is a wonderful way for people to work backwards from the goal (healthy, happy, successful children) to the interim tasks and required skills. It helps us to get away from thinking that marriage is about us – our happiness, our needs. Unfortunately, not everyone who runs around telling people that they want to get married “some day” is really taking steps to prepare for marriage and parenting right now. Marriage is a commitment to self-sacrificially love another person – however much they change – for the rest of their lives, and to love any children who appear, too. People don’t like to read about marriage and think it through. But just saying “I want to marry someday” is not a proof of preparation for marriage, as the divorce rate attests. To get married, you have to train yourself to think of others, and to do hard things that don’t make you feel “free” or “happy”. There is no path to a successful marriage that does not involve responsibilities, expectations and obligations for husband and wife. It’s not “happily ever after”. It’s hard work!

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

Police conclude that University of Virginia rape story was fabricated

Should we blame women who make false rape charges?

Should we blame women who make false rape charges?

This is the Associated Press story.

They write:

A four-month police investigation into an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia that Rolling Stone magazine described in graphic detail produced no evidence of the attack and was stymied by the accuser’s unwillingness to cooperate, authorities said Monday.

The article, titled “A rape on campus,” focused on a student identified only as “Jackie” who said she was raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity more than two years earlier.

It described a hidden culture of sexual violence fueled by binge drinking at the college. Police said they found no evidence of that either.

[…][Police chief] Longo said Jackie’s first mention of an alleged assault came without key details, during a meeting she had with a dean about an academic issue in May 2013. The dean brought in police, but the case was dropped because Jackie didn’t want them to investigate, Longo said.

In any case, the “sexual act” she described that year was “not consistent with what was described” in the Rolling Stone article.

Almost immediately, news organizations found discrepancies that prompted the magazine to print an apology.

University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan asked police to investigate, and they called Jackie in for another interview. She showed up with a lawyer and again refused to talk.

[…]Investigators spoke to about 70 people, including friends of the accuser and fraternity members, and spent hundreds of hours on the investigation, Longo said. None provided any evidence supporting the claim of a gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi house. They gathered ample evidence casting doubt on Jackie’s claims, he said.

[…]The fraternity called the article defamatory and said it was exploring its legal options.

Here’s the law:

§ 18.2-209. False publications.
Any person who knowingly and willfully states, delivers or transmits by any means whatever to any publisher, or employee of a publisher, of any newspaper, magazine, or other publication or to any owner, or employee of an owner, of any radio station, television station, news service or cable service, any false and untrue statement, knowing the same to be false or untrue, concerning any person or corporation, with intent that the same shall be published, broadcast or otherwise disseminated, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 18.1-407; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1978, c. 359.

I blogged previously on the three UVA students who challenged the original Rolling Stone story.

Filed under: News, ,

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