Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Does God behave badly? Brian Auten interviews David T. Lamb

Brian Auten of Apologetics 315 interviews Old Testament scholar David T. Lamb on his new book “God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?“, a book which is intended for the lay Christians who want to reconcile the New Testament and Old Testament portraits of God.

The MP3 file is here.

About David T. Lamb’s academic credentials:

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Theology (Old Testament)(2005), University of Oxford
  • Master of Philosophy, Theology (Old Testament)(2002), University of Oxford
  • Master of Divinity (2000), Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Master of Science, Industrial Engineering (1985), Stanford University
  • Bachelor of Arts, Economics (1984), Stanford University

Summary:

  • Lamb’s testimony and experience in campus ministry
  • Lamb’s decision to go to graduate school become a Christian scholar
  • Lamb’s new book and its’ intended audience (it’s for beginners!)
  • Why Christians should read more in the Old Testament
  • Why we need to look at the positive and negative texts in the Old Testament
  • Are the portraits of God in the Old Testament and the New Testament compatible?
  • Is the Old Testament picture of God loving or harsh?
  • What are some of the examples that people point to when they say God is angry?
  • Are there general any guidelines for answering hard passages of the Bible?
  • Is the Old Testament God sexist?
  • What does the Old Testament say about women?
  • Is the Old Testament God racist?
  • What are some examples where other nations are treated well by God?
  • Don’t the laws in the Old Testament make God look legalistic and strict?

This book is similar to Paul Copan’s “Is God a Moral Monster?“, but that book is less introductory than Lamb’s book. It also engages more directly with the New Atheists than Lamb’s book.

Brian also interviewed Paul Copan about his book, and you can listen to that interview on Brian’s site.

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

The post-abortion trauma of famous musician Steven Tyler

Here’s an article in National Review. (H/T Mary)

Excerpt:

Long before he won accolades as an American Idol judge, Steven Tyler was a bona-fide rock star, with all that that implied. In 1975, when he was in his late 20s and the lead singer for the band Aerosmith, Tyler persuaded the parents of his 14-year-old girlfriend, Julia Holcomb, to make him her legal guardian so that they could live together in Boston.

When Miss Holcomb and Tyler conceived a child, his longtime friend Ray Tabano convinced Tyler that abortion was the only solution. In the Aerosmith “autobiography,” Walk This Way (in which recollections by all the band members, and their friends and lovers, were assembled by the author Stephen Davis), Tabano says: “So they had the abortion, and it really messed Steven up because it was a boy. He . . . saw the whole thing and it [messed] him up big time.”

Tyler also reflects on his abortion experience in the autobiography. “It was a big crisis. It’s a major thing when you’re growing something with a woman, but they convinced us that it would never work out and would ruin our lives. . . . You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?”

[...]After the abortion, Tyler began a torrid affair with Playboy model Bebe Buell while still seeing Julia, the mother of his aborted son. If you were wondering what happened to Julia (who is referred to as Diana Hall in the book) after this purportedly psychologically safe procedure, Bebe tells us: “There were many suicidal calls from poor Diana as they were breaking up. It was actually a pretty sad time.”

And how was Steven coping?

He went on a European concert tour, accompanied by Bebe, who tells us: “He was crazy . . . totally drunk, really out of it. . . . Steven destroyed his dressing room at Hammersmith . . . when we got back from Europe. . . . One night I found him on the floor of his bathroom having a drug seizure. He was writhing in pain.”

This was followed by Steven’s “Tuinal days” — a period he spent stoned on massive doses of the barbiturate. He says: “I would eat four or five a day . . . and be good for a couple of months . . . which is why that period is blackout stuff.”

This is the dysfunctional recipe for dealing with post-traumatic stress: Take heavy doses of drugs to numb the memories and feelings — and throw in a portion of toxic rage at bandmates and hotel rooms. Anger, especially in men, is often an undiagnosed sign of depression and repressed grief that needs a healthy expression and healing. Many post-abortive fathers tell us that anger management was a major problem for them after their abortions.

[...]For many post-abortive men and women, the anxiety associated with an abortion can surface at unexpected times, triggered by events such as a subsequent pregnancy, the death of a pet or a loved one, or some other person, place, or thing that in some way connects with the traumatic memory. Years later, when Tyler married, and he and his wife were expecting their first child, he was still haunted by the abortion: “It affected me later. . . . I was afraid. I thought we’d give birth to a six-headed cow because of what I’d done with other women. The real-life guilt was very traumatic for me. Still hurts.”

There are so many interesting things about this post:

  • how some men at a certain age have difficulty in making commitments and being responsible
  • how men at a certain age never think that anything bad will happen to them
  • how parents need to be more careful about standing up to their children and saying NO
  • how statistics do matter – the more you use something risky, the greater chance it will fail
  • how the rock-and-roll lifestyle that people seem to venerate can be destructive
  • how abortion really does harm men

In my next post, I will be writing about a different kind of behavior by a real hero. I find it very strange that so many people celebrate rock-and-roll musicians who merely entertain us. That doesn’t necessarily qualify them for being good husbands and fathers, though. I think women need to realize that some young men can be very dangerous and destructive because of their foolhardiness and irresponsibility. But sometimes a lack of fear can be a good thing in responsible young men, as we shall see in the next post.

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

New study explores whether atheism is rooted in reason or emotion

From First Things, based on research reported by CNN. (H/T Apologetics 315)

A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.

At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalyses of a second dataset revealed similar patterns: Those who endorsed their religious beliefs as “atheist/agnostic” or “none/unsure” reported more anger toward God than those who reported a religious affiliation.

Exline notes that the findings raised questions of whether anger might actually affect belief in God’s existence, an idea consistent with social science’s previous clinical findings on “emotional atheism.”

Studies in traumatic events suggest a possible link between suffering, anger toward God, and doubts about God’s existence. According to Cook and Wimberly (1983), 33% of parents who suffered the death of a child reported doubts about God in the first year of bereavement. In another study, 90% of mothers who had given birth to a profoundly retarded child voiced doubts about the existence of God (Childs, 1985). Our survey research with undergraduates has focused directly on the association between anger at God and self-reported drops in belief (Exline et al., 2004). In the wake of a negative life event, anger toward God predicted decreased belief in God’s existence.

The most striking finding was that when Exline looked only at subjects who reported a drop in religious belief, their faith was least likely to recover if anger toward God was the cause of their loss of belief. In other words, anger toward God may not only lead people to atheism but give them a reason to cling to their disbelief.

I’m having trouble understanding how someone can read the gospel, realize how God did not prevent Jesus from enduring suffering, and then expect God to be Santa Claus. I’m drawing a blank. And this is not to mention the responses to the intellectual problem of evil.

Basically, here are four of the major reasons why people leave Christianity, in my experience.

  1. They want to do something immoral that is forbidden in Christianity. This type of person wants to do something immoral that is forbidden by Christianity, like pre-marital sex. They dump Christianity in order to feel better about seeking happiness in this life, apart from God and his moral duties.
  2. They think that God’s job is to make them happy by giving them everything they want no matter what they do. When God disappoints them by not giving them what they expect in order to be happy, they leave the faith and just pursue happiness without caring about God.
  3. They want to be loved by people, not by God. This type of person thinks that Christianity is compatible with being liked and popular. When they try to articulate the gospel in public, they find that people don’t like them as much, and they feel bad about offending people with exclusive truth claims that they cannot back up using logic and evidence. So, they water down Christianity to get along with atheists, liberal Christians and other religions. Finally, they jettison Christianity completely and just say whatever makes people like them.
  4. They don’t want to learn to defend their faith. This type of person is asked questions by skeptics that they cannot answer. Usually this happens when people go to university after growing up in the shelter of the Church. The questions and peer pressure make them feel stupid. Rather than investigate Christianity to see if it’s true and to prepare to defend it in public, they dump it so they can be thought of as part of the “smart” crowd.

My advice: prepare for tragedies – save money and take no chances. Live smart.

More on what causes atheism here.

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

Democrats attacking campaign offices with guns and explosives

Democrat bomb-thrower Chris Powers

Democrat bomb-thrower Chris Powers

(Chris Powers is the one wearing a cap)

First, the Molotov cocktails, thrown by Democrat operative, staffer, and blogger Chris Powers.

Gateway Pundit has the story with links to the mainstream news sources.

Excerpt:

Last Tuesday August 17, 2010, Rep. Russ Carnahan’s office was reportedly vandalized and “firebombed” at 2 AM in the morning. Hours later police arrested a suspect for the crime and held him for several hours.

Of course, when the “firebombing” was reported local leftists blamed the tea party activists.

Then things got really weird. The police released the suspect and the Carnahan camp went silent. Carnahan employees were seen dumping documents into a dumpster but refused to to talk to reporters. There was a complete blackout on information.

Now we know why.

The suspect was reportedly a disgruntled progressive activist employed by Russ Carnahan. An unnamed source familiar with the case released the information.

[...]Dem operative and firebomber Chris Powers is the sweaty one pictured here on right during a rally for nationalized health care. Powers was a paid canvasser for Russ Carnahan.

[...]The Carnahan campaign and their supporters have either ignored the incident rather than recognize the serious nature of a federal crime, instead allow the incident to be reported and used as an example of right wing domestic terrorism.

[...]Chris Powers was in the local news when Barack Obama came to town in March to push his unpopular nationalized health care plan. He spoke with the local public radio channel and led an astroturfed protest outside of the Obama-McCaskill fundraiser.

Chris Powers is also a TPM blogger under the name Ripper McCord.

He has been active in the progressive movement for years.

TPM is short for Talking Points Memo, which is one of the top liberal blogs.  Here’s his page on TPM. It will be taken down soon, I would expect. I notice that he describes his politics as “enlightened self-interest”, which is a phrase from the anti-Christian secular humanist movement.

In another post, Gateway Pundit notes that the bomb-thrower “also has a history of harassing tea party patriots”. No motive for the attack has been confirmed, because the Democrats are using the reports to smear the tea party, like they usually do. The report we have says that he was angry about not being paid some money he was owed.

Shooting at GOP offices

From there, we turn to Maryland, where Republican offices are being shot up. (H/T JammieWearingFool)

Excerpt:

A gunshot shattered a glass door Wednesday at a Salisbury office of the Maryland Republican Party, according to a party statement.

The party published the statement on its website, indicating that a single gunshot shattered the front door at the office early in the morning.

Salisbury police officers discovered the shattered glass after midnight and reported that the office had been vandalized.

The statement indicated that a party staffer found a bullet in the office.

JammieWearingFool explains why this is happening:

I blame the extremist rhetoric of the left-wing media and Democrats for spreading the hate. They keep stirring the pot with their extremist rhetoric and it’s only a matter of time before one of their deranged followers takes matters into their own hands.

But the nutters on PBS, NPR, MSNBC, CNN, etc. are never going to be charged with inciting violence, because they’re running the show now. Only conservatives will be charged. Like the fire-bombing story shows, conservatives will be smeared with crimes committed by Democrats. The real story gets out in much later on blogs.

Here’s my take.

They have the House, the Senate and the Presidency, but the country is angry with their failures. I think there is a lot of frustration on the left that everyone is seeing how good their economic, social and foreign policy really is. Nothing they propose actually works. Their policies are not about making the world better, they’re about striking a pose in front of others so they feel good about themselves. They want to appear compassionate, but the results for ordinary families are disastrous. And that’s when they turn to violence, I think.

UPDATE: Newsmax reports that conservative organizations are receiving large numbers of death threats. (H/T Gateway Pundit)

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

Is the murder of abortion-performing doctors like George Tiller morally wrong?

The Wintery Knight Blog strongly condemns all abortion-related violence, whether it’s committed against the born or the unborn.

The news story is linked here by Stop the ACLU, Sweetness and Light, Patterico’s Pontifications, Michelle Malkin, Hot Air and Gateway Pundit.

Can Christians condemn the murder of George Tiller?

Yes, Christians can, and yes, Christians do, condemn any and all violence against abortion doctors. And so do I. I believe that murder is objectively wrong, whether it is performed against born or unborn victims.

Morality is rational on Christianity because Christianity grounds the minimal requirements for meaningful morality. (The post also contains arguments and evidence for Christian theism and responses to the arguments against Christian theism)

The Bible says: “You shall not murder”.

So, anyone who murders the born or the unborn is not a Christian and is not being moral. I am a Christian, and therefore I strongly condemn any violence against doctors who perform abortions, including George Tiller. The murderer of George Tiller was wrong, had no justification for what he did, and he should get the death penalty.

UPDATE: My pro-life friend Neil from 4Simpsons reacts:

I subscribe to over 100 blogs.  Well over a dozen have commented on this.  I’ve yet to see one that didn’t condemn the murder, though I’m sure the MSM will ignore the clear and consistent principles of the pro-live movement and try to demonize and broad-brush us with this.

Now let’s see whether murder is wrong on the atheist worldview…

Can atheists condemn the murder of George Tiller?

The goal is to see whether humans ought to adopt the moral point of view, on atheism. Does atheism ground the the minimal requirements for morality? Is it rational to do the right thing on atheism?

Requirement 1) Objective moral values: NOT GROUNDED

On atheism, moral values have no mind-independent existence. In other words, they are purely subjective. Either you invent your own personal standard or you adopt the standards of the majority of your herd, in the time and place in which you live. Those herd standards change over time and in different places, of course. They are arbitrary conventions. And there is no reason why your preferences are better than anyone else’s preferences, even a murderer’s. On atheism, a murderer and a non-murderer just have different preferences.

Requirement 2) Objective moral duties: NOT GROUNDED

On atheism, there is no such thing as objective moral values, and so there can be no objective moral duties either. Atheism is committed to materialism, and objective moral values and moral duties are non-material. Atheists can only ground subjective moral values and moral duties. But a duty owed to oneself can be canceled when things get difficult. Even a social contract is arbitrary. There is no reason to limit your happiness because of an arbitrary social contract, so long as you can escape the social consequences of disobedience.

Requirement 3) Moral accountability: NOT GROUNDED

On atheism, there is no accountability after death for the decisions we make in life. So long as we can avoid the consequences for violating the arbitrary fashions of the time and place where we live, nothing will happen to us if we put our happiness above the needs of our feelings of “empathy” for others.

Requirement 4) Free will: NOT GROUNDED

On atheism, there are no minds or souls independent of the material that makes up the body. Therefore, everything that humans do is fully determined by the genetic programming and the sensory inputs. To expect moral choices or moral responsibility on atheism is like expecting the same from a computer. Physical systems don’t have free will. There is no “ought to do” for lumps of matter that are not designed by anyone for any specific purpose.

Requirement 5) Ultimate significance: NOT GROUNDED

On atheism, life ends in the grave for them. Scientists have discovered that in the future, the amount of usable energy, such as the heat and light emitted by stars, will run down to zero, the “heat death of the universe”. What this means is that the entire universe will become cold and lifeless at some point. Humans are therefore doomed to extinction. It doesn’t matter ultimately how an atheist acts – they end up the same no matter what they do. The only action that is rational on atheism is the selfish pursuit of pleasure and happiness.

Can atheist scholars ground morality rationally?

Let me cite the views of atheist scholars from a previous post. These are the people who are the most committed, authentic atheists, and who have thought through what it means to be an atheist at the highest level.

The idea of political or legal obligation is clear enough… Similarly, the idea of an obligation higher than this, referred to as moral obligation, is clear enough, provided reference to some lawgiver higher…than those of the state is understood. In other words, our moral obligations can…be understood as those that are imposed by God…. But what if this higher-than-human lawgiver is no longer taken into account? Does the concept of moral obligation…still make sense? …The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain but their meaning is gone. (Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1985), p. 83-84)

In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference… DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. (Source: Richard Dawkins)

The position of the modern evolutionist is that humans have an awareness of morality because such an awareness of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate when someone says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory. (Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 262-269).

The late atheist philosopher J. L. Mackie said that moral properties are “queer” given naturalism “if there are objective values, they make the existence of a god more probable than it would have been without them. Thus we have a defensible argument from morality to the existence of a god.”

Conclusion

In my survey of atheist views, none of the ten respondents could oppose slavery on rational grounds, none of the ten respondents could perform self-sacrificial acts on rational grounds, and none of the ten respondents could explain why murder was wrong, on rational grounds. They may have chosen the right alternative, but only based on emotion, not on reason. Morality is not rational on atheism and there is no way to condemn immorality in others.

So long as an person can escape the consequences of his actions, there is nothing wrong with murder, on an atheistic worldview. Atheists can express what they personally like and don’t like, or what the customs are in their society in a certain time and place. There is no “moral ought” on atheism, no principled reason to act any particular way except to be “happy” and to avoid social disapproval from acting unconventionally. So, keep that in mind in the coming days as you discuss the George Tiller story with atheists.

Further study

You can get the full story on the requirements for rational morality in a published, peer-reviewed paper written by William Lane Craig here. You can also hear and see him present the paper to an audience of students and faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008. The audio is clipped at 67 minutes, the video is the full 84 minutes. There is 45 minutes of Q&A, with many atheist challengers.

The video of this lecture is the best material you can get on this issue, and the Q&A from the hostile audience is vital to the lesson. More debates on atheism and morality can be found on the debate and lecture page.

You can find a post contrasting the morality of an authentic, consistent Christian with an authentic, consistent non-Christian here. A post examining how atheism is responsible for the deaths of 100 million innocent people in the 20th century alone is here. A post analyzing the tiny number of deaths that religion was responsible for is here. A post examining other ways that the secular-left kills millions of people is here.

The Wintery Knight Blog strongly condemns all abortion-related violence, whether it’s committed against the born or the unborn.

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