Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Paul Copan explains some responses to postmodernism

Four articles from Paul Copan over at the UK site “BeThinking”. Each article responds to a different slogan that you might hear if you’re dealing with non-Christians on the street.

“That’s just your interpretation!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Gently ask, ‘Do you mean that your interpretation should be preferred over mine? If so, I’d like to know why you have chosen your interpretation over mine. You must have a good reason.’
  • Remind your friend that you are willing to give reasons for your position and that you are not simply taking a particular viewpoint arbitrarily.
  • Try to discern if people toss out this slogan because they don’t like your interpretation. Remind them that there are many truths we have to accept even if we don’t like them.
  • ‘There are no facts, only interpretations’ is a statement that is presented as a fact. If it is just an interpretation, then there is no reason to take it seriously.

More responses are here.

“You Christians are intolerant!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If you say that the Christian view is bad because it is exclusive, then you are also at that exact moment doing the very thing that you are saying is bad. You have to be exclusive to say that something is bad, since you exclude it from being good by calling it bad.
  • There is a difference, a clear difference between tolerance and truth. They are often confused. We should hold to what we believe with integrity but also support the rights of others to disagree with our viewpoint.
  • Sincerely believing something doesn’t make it true. You can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. If I get onto a plane and sincerely believe that it won’t crash then it does, then my sincerity is quite hopeless. It won’t change the facts. Our beliefs, regardless of how deeply they are held, have no effect on reality.

More responses are here.

“That’s true for you, but not for me!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If my belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your belief only true for you? Aren’t you saying you want me to believe the same thing you do?
  • You say that no belief is true for everyone, but you want everyone to believe what you do.
  • You’re making universal claims that relativism is true and absolutism is false. You can’t in the same breath say, ‘Nothing is universally true’ and ‘My view is universally true.’ Relativism falsifies itself. It claims there is one position that is true – relativism!

More responses are here.

“If you were born in India, you’d be a Hindu!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Just because there are many different religious answers and systems doesn’t automatically mean pluralism is correct.
  • If we are culturally conditioned regarding our religious beliefs, then why should the religious pluralist think his view is less arbitrary or conditioned than the exclusivist’s?
  • If the Christian needs to justify Christianity’s claims, the pluralist’s views need just as much substantiation.

More responses are here.

And a bonus: “How do you know you’re not wrong?“.

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

Douglas Groothuis’ exhortation to Christians to study apologetics

Dr. Groothuis’ article lays out 6 “enemies” to the task of apologetics. I’ll look at the first 4.

Enemy #1: We don’t defend God’s existence and character to other people

If we really cared about God like we say we do, then we would care enough to defend his reputation in public. If we really loved our neighbor and believed that they need to follow Jesus in order to be reconciled with God, we would tell them that. But we don’t really care enough about God when his reputation is slammed in public. That’s what being a good friend to God and to our neighbor requires.

Groothuis writes:

Too many Christians don’t seem to care that Christianity is routinely ridiculed as outdated, irrational, and narrow-minded in our culture. They may complain that this “offends” them (just as everyone else is complaining that one thing or another “offends” them), but they do little to counteract the charges by offering a defense of the Christian world view in a variety of settings. Yet Scripture commands all Christians to have a reason for the hope that is within them and to present this with gentleness and respect to unbelievers (1 Peter 3:15).

Our attitude should be that of the Apostle Paul who was “greatly distressed” when he beheld the idolatry of sophisticated Athens. This zeal for the truth of God led him into a fruitful apologetic encounter with the thinkers gathered to debate new ideas (see Acts 17). It should for us as well. Just as God “so loved the world” that he sent Jesus to set us right with God (John 3:16), Jesus’ disciples should so love the world that they endeavor to reach the lost by presenting the Gospel and answering objections to the Christian faith (John 17:18).

Enemy #2: We separate Christianity from the reasons and evidence that ground it

Many Christians alter their theology in order to “get along” with other religions that conflict with ours. Instead of wrestling with the competing truth claims of other religions, some Christians just change the nature of our religion so that it is just our personal preference or cultural narrative, instead of being about truth. If the Bible claims that Jesus rose from the dead, we reinterpret that historically testable claim so that it’s only true for us. If the Bible says that the universe began to exist, we reinterpret that scientifically testable claim so that it is only true for us.

Groothuis says:

For some Christians, faith means belief in the absence of evidence and argument. Worse yet, for some faith means belief in spite of evidence to the contrary. The more irrational our beliefs, the better–the more “spiritual” they are… When Christians opt for irrationalism, they become just another “religious option,” and are classified along with Heaven’s Gate, the Flat Earth Society, and other intellectually impaired groups.

Enemy #3: We don’t take the time to study the reasons and evidence we have

We don’t make time for preparing a defense for our beliefs by leveraging the resources produced by Christian scholars.

Groothuis says:

Many Christians are not aware of the tremendous intellectual resources available to defend “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). This is largely because many major churches and parachurch organizations virtually ignore apologetics… Few evangelical sermons ever address the evidence for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, the justice of hell, the supremacy of Christ, or the logical problems with nonChristian worldviews. Christian bestsellers, with rare exceptions, indulge in groundless apocalyptic speculations, exalt Christian celebrities (whose characters often do not fit their notoriety), and revel in how-to methods.

Enemy #4: We would rather be liked by people than be a friend to God

Somehow, we have gotten the idea that the purpose of Christianity is for us to be happy. Being popular and accepted by non-Christians makes us feel happy. Moral judgments are divisive, so we avoid making those. Exclusive salvation is divisive, so we avoid exclusivity. All of this so that our lives will be easier and happier.

Groothuis says:

In our pluralistic culture, a “live and let live” attitude is the norm, and a capitulation to social pressure haunts evangelicalism and drains its convictions. Too many evangelicals are more concerned about being “nice” and “tolerant” than being biblical or faithful to the exclusive Gospel found in their Bibles. Not enough evangelicals are willing to present and defend their faith in challenging situations, whether at school, at work, or in other public settings. The temptation is to privatize faith, to insulate and isolate it from public life entirely. Yes, we are Christians (in our hearts), but we have difficulty engaging anyone with what we believe and why we believe it. This is nothing less than cowardice and a betrayal of what we say we believe.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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

Do parents have a plan to raise self-sufficient, practical children?

Let’s look at this Huffington Post article about parenting. (H/T Amy)

Introduction:

When a college freshman received a C- on her first test, she literally had a meltdown in class. Sobbing, she texted her mother who called back, demanding to talk to the professor immediately (he, of course, declined). Another mother accompanied her child on a job interview, then wondered why he didn’t get the job.

A major employer reported that during a job interview, a potential employee told him that she would have his job within 18 months. It didn’t even cross her mind that he had worked 20 years to achieve his goal.

[…][W]hy have parents shifted from teaching self-reliance to becoming hovering helicopter parents who want to protect their children at all costs?

“I think it began in the fall of 1982, when seven people died after taking extra-strength Tylenol laced with poison after it left the factory,” he says. Halloween was just around the corner, and parents began checking every item in the loot bags. Homemade brownies and cookies (usually the most coveted items) hit the garbage; unwrapped candy followed close behind.

That led to an obsession with their children’s safety in every aspect of their lives. Instead of letting them go outside to play, parents filled their kid’s spare time with organized activities, did their homework for them, resolved their conflicts at school with both friends and teachers, and handed out trophies for just showing up.

“These well-intentioned messages of ‘you’re special’ have come back to haunt us,” Elmore says. “We are consumed with protecting them instead of preparing them for the future. We haven’t let them fall, fail and fear. The problem is that if they don’t take risks early on like climbing the monkey bars and possibly falling off, they are fearful of every new endeavor at age 29.”

Psychologists and psychiatrists are seeing more and more young people having a quarter-life crisis and more cases of clinical depression. The reason? Young people tell them it’s because they haven’t yet made their first million or found the perfect mate.

Teachers, coaches and executives complain that Gen Y kids have short attention spans and rely on external, instead of internal motivation.

More:

  • We’ve told our kids to dream big – and now any small act seems insignificant. In the great scheme of things, kids can’t instantly change the world. They have to take small, first steps – which seem like no progress at all to them. Nothing short of instant fame is good enough. “It’s time we tell them that doing great things starts with accomplishing small goals,” he says.
  • We’ve told our kids that they are special – for no reason, even though they didn’t display excellent character or skill, and now they demand special treatment. The problem is that kids assumed they didn’t have to do anything special in order to be special.

I have frequently heard from Christian women who I have courted who hear my marriage plan that children should not be directed in any way toward doing hard things, studying STEM fields and getting good jobs. Although these women are not successful themselves, they are very concerned that I will make my children feel bad by steering them towards fields that are hard, but will make the kids successful. Children have to have good self-esteem, they insist. They have to be allowed to study ballet or art history in college, if they feel like it, otherwise they will rebel and become atheists. Two of the women who told me this had double-digit student loan balances and were still living at home in their 30s.

So you have a man like me, who has a BS, MS, a gapless resume and savings, being lectured by an unsuccessful woman on how to make our children successful by following her plan, which is the opposite of my plan. Why is this an attractive value proposition to a man? Kids cost over $150,000 each, and at least in my case, I expect that I would be the one paying for it because I seem to be the only one with savings as opposed to debts. But there is no humility from single Christian women, in my experience. They want me to earn the money, but they want to make the decisions. And they think that their way will work, even when it hasn’t worked in their own lives.

I just want to point out to those women who are single that “well, I wouldn’t marry you” is not an answer to these concerns. It’s not an answer to a life lived on emotions and impracticality. It’s not an answer to kids raised to do nothing except what makes them feel good. The question is, how do we make successful kids? Do we let men lead, focusing on responsibility, obligation, incremental improvements and practicality? I want a wife who will be a chief of staff to implement my plan. Not someone who doesn’t value and respect my decision making in areas where I am proven to know what I am doing. If all I am getting in this deal is rebellion, then I can just not marry at all and instead use the money for apologetics funding. I am not paying over $150,000 per child (not counting tuition) to have ineffective and uninfluential kids. And it alarms me how easily my concerns are dismissed in favor of a woman’s emotions (sometimes decorated with God-language) during courting, when we know that good parenting is sorely needed today.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , ,

Oxford University shuts down public debate on abortion

Eagle eggs are protected, unborn babies are not

Eagle eggs are protected, unborn babies are not

Journalist Tim Stanley writes about his ordeal in the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

An attempt to hold a reasonable debate about abortion in Oxford was called off after students threatened to disrupt it. Tim Stanley, one of the debaters, writes that the authoritarian Left has become everything it claims to hate.

I would’ve thought that the one place in Britain where you could agree to disagree amicably would be Oxford University. But I was wrong. For instance, I’ve discovered that you’re only allowed to debate abortion there if a) you’re a woman and b) you’re all for it. Any other approach to the subject is liable to attract a mob…

A few months ago I accepted an invitation by the Oxford Students for Life to debate Brendan O’Neill on the subject “This House believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All”. The setting was Christ Church College and around 60 people signed up to attend on Facebook. To be clear: this wasn’t a pro-life demo and the subject wasn’t whether or not women should have the right to choose abortion. Even though I was speaking for the proposition, my speech would’ve begun with noting that the motion has nothing to do with abortion rights per se and was simply a consideration of how having effective abortion on demand affects wider society. Brendan, speaking for the opposition, would’ve doubtless done a fine job and probably run rings round me. It was a fair and free debate that I half expected to lose.

But someone was outraged that we dared to discuss this issue at all. A protest group of around 300 people called “What the f**k is ‘Abortion Culture’?” appeared on Facebook that promised to “take along some non-destructive but oh so disruptive instruments to help demonstrate to the anti-choicers just what we think of their ‘debate’.” We were guilty of promoting “really sh*tty anti-choice rhetoric and probs some cissexism.” The foul language indicates how sophisticated the protesters were, while the accusation of cissexism had me reaching for my online urban dictionary. Was I being called a sissy by homophobic feminists? Mais non. Apparently a “cis” is someone who identifies with the same gender that they were born with. So that’s a thing now.

The university’s students’ union also issued a statement that took aim at Brendan and me for being so offensively attached to our God-given genitals: “The Women’s Campaign (WomCam) condemn SFL for holding this debate. It is absurd to think we should be listening to two cisgender men debate about what people with uteruses should be doing with their bodies.” Next, the Christ Church Junior Common Room (posh talk for “the committee that run the students’ bar”) passed a motion asking their college to decline to room the debate. Eventually, the college caved-in on the grounds that, “there was insufficient time between today and tomorrow to address some concerns they had about the meeting”. The pro-life society tried to find an alternative venue but everyone else said “no”. I believe that two colleges agreed only to later rescind their invitations. I was sitting in Paddington Station (in a duffel coat and hat!) ready to jump on a train to Oxford at 4.40pm when I was told that the debate was finally, totally called off.

So what do we learn from this?

We learn that feminists on the left are opposed to free speech. Once they decide something, they don’t want to have to consider alternatives or hear evidence contrary to what they feel is right for them. It doesn’t matter what is morally right or respectful of the rights of others – the selfish desire for happiness is absolute, and to help with personal responsibility. And if free speech has to go in order to prevent anyone from harassing them with pesky facts, then so much the worse for free speech.

One thing is for sure, the pro-abortion position is not adopted because of logic or evidence. Being pro-abortion is non-cognitive. It cannot be defended rationally, but survives only by mob threats and raw power. If this were not so, then the feminists would have let the debate go through and their side would have won it on the merits. But they knew they would lose a fair debate, and that’s why they shut the debate down. And yet I’m sure that they would call themselves pro-diversity and open-minded.

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

Matt Walsh: women need to take responsibility for their failed relationships

The latest from Matt Walsh was sent to me by about a dozen people, so I must blog on it. He is responding to “Rebecca” who interpreted some of his previous “man up” posts as a license to blame men for everything that followed from her own poor decisions.

Excerpt:

[…]'[M]en’ aren’t the problem, Rebecca. It’s you. You’re the one. You’re the common denominator. You’re to blame. There has been one person conspicuously involved in all of Rebecca’s romantic flops, and her name is Rebecca. Maybe you should take a look at her for a change.

Frankly, it seems that when you refer to ‘men’ you aren’t even talking about a group of actual human beings. ‘Men’ have become an abstract idea, a conceptual manifestation of everything that’s wrong with your life. If men exist at all in your world, they exist only as vehicles for your misery.

Consider that, for ritual purification, the Ancient Syrians used to cast a goat out into the wastelands. The literal scapegoat was supposed to carry the sins of the town into the nether regions, where it and its spiritual luggage would die and decay. What you’ve done with men is just a more efficient, animal-friendly version of this strategy. You’ve saddled them with your personal baggage and sent them to the desert to perish. You’ve made a scapegoat of the entire gender.

Let’s borrow a recent example from your own life.

You went on a date with a man who, you claim, had no manners. Maybe that’s true, or maybe you’re so desperate to find fault in every male on the planet that he was fated to be labeled a boorish dolt no matter what he did or said. You also mention that he ‘couldn’t look you in the eyes and have a conversation.’ Maybe. Maybe he was nervous. Maybe he has social anxieties. Maybe he tried to talk to you but he sensed your stand-offish, snobbish demeanor and it made him uncomfortable. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Maybe he wasn’t as bad as you say, or maybe he actually was a big, awkward, uncouth, stammering warthog. You seem to have come to latter conclusion very early on in the evening, yet you still chose to go back to his place.

What does that say about you, Rebecca? Look in the mirror and ask yourself what it says aboutyou that you came back to this man’s house even though you were apparently disgusted by him.

That’s a choice you made. You. Not him. You.

He continued to fumble and falter well into the night, committing the unconscionable sin of revealing himself to be a fan of the X-Men film franchise. The uncultured, lethargic lout only succeeded in finding more ways to repulse and offend you as time wore on, yet you were never put off enough to decline the invitation to stay over.

Here’s the thing, Rebecca: I was always told that if I want to attract a good woman, I have to be a good man. Admittedly, I managed to attract a good woman despite being a horribly flawed and sinful man, but there is still wisdom in this idea even if it doesn’t always hold true. The point is, you have to work on improving yourself if you want to end up with a man who is equally intent on improving himself.

Not all men are desperate, drooling oafs straight out of some cliched beer commercial. There are plenty of hardworking, engaging, dependable, morally upright men out there, but they won’t come knocking on your door just because you’ve announced that you’re a ‘woman who deserves it.’

Rebecca, you’re willing to essentially typecast a man because he plays with video games and watches superhero movies, but have you ever considered that you might be the victim of similar assumptions because you sleep with dudes you just met? Of course, ‘victim’ isn’t the right word. You’ve earned the assumptions. I’m not saying that you ought to be alone for the rest of your life, but I am pointing out that you are eager to jump to profound conclusions about a man based on the most superficial of flaws, without stopping to consider what conclusions might be drawn about you based on slightly more significant character traits.

Then again, this guy was willing to sleep with you on the first date just as you were with him. He’s not innocent in the transaction, and neither are you. It sounds like, right now, you two are evenly matched. You look at him and see yourself, and you hate him for it.

We hear all of the handwringing about the decline of masculinity and the disappearance of ‘real men,’ yet very little is ever said about the corresponding deterioration of femininity. It’s strange that you purport to care about ‘manners and chivalry’ yet your email was vulgar and overly aggressive, at times coming across like dialogue out of a middle school boys’ locker room.

‘P*ssy’? Really? A 32-year-old woman using a word like that to describe men while simultaneously complaining that men aren’t courteous? I bet the ones who are courteous just get written off as ‘p*ssies’ anyway, so it’s a lose-lose. A lose-lose for you, especially, because in the end you’re the only one who has to pay for your extremely unappealing attitude.

By your account, you’ve had two broken engagements, and both were the fault of the men who were allegedly ‘full of sh*t.’ Maybe they were. But it is, from a mathematical perspective, almost impossible for one human being to have two failed engagements without being at least partially to blame. In fact, in the history of human relationships, only a very, very, very tiny fraction of them have ever soured or splintered due completely to the actions and choices of one person. It’s been my experience, both personally and as a student of history and an observer of people (as creepy as that sounds), that fractured and strained relationships can rarely be broken down into a clear Bad Person vs Good Person dichotomy. And, on the rare occasion when things are actually that simple, it’s just as likely to be Bad Woman vs Good Guy as it is to be Bad Guy vs Good Woman.

In short, Rebecca, I’m playing the odds here and assuming that you were probably not the victim of both spoiled engagements, just as you are not the victim of your other fruitless romantic endeavors. You are a participant, a catalyst, a cause.

I have, in my life, seen my share of women who, under the influence of feminism, undertake incredibly unwise and selfish courses of action and then blame the predictable consequences on bad men. In fact, it seems to be very popular. Women make poor choices with men, they complain to other women about how they are victims. You can see it with problems like abortion, cohabitation, divorce, infertility, adultery – lots of cases where women choose bad men, and then blame men when things go wrong. I guess I would recommend that men carefully read Matt’s post and then be on the lookout for women who act selfishly, don’t choose good men, neglect the needs of good men, and then try to play the victim and blame men. Don’t be the guy who ends up married to a woman like that. I don’t think it’s an accident that this woman had premarital sexual experience, either.

UPDATE: I think this post dovetails nicely with my previous post about the one factor that most causes relationships to succeed or fail.

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

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