Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Frank Turek and Michael Shermer defend their debate to gay activists

Michael Shermer debates Frank Turek: atheism and morality

Michael Shermer debates Frank Turek: atheism and morality

Remember how I blogged on the debate between Frank Turek and Michael Shermer a few days ago?

Well, apparently, a group of gay activists did not like the debate, and they complained – presumably in order to punish the debate organizers and shut down future debates.

Turek and Shermer have responded to their challenge, though, in this letter to the editor. And Shermer will even be on Turek’s radio show at 10 AM Eastern to discuss their joint response.

The show can be heard here on the Cross Examined web site.

CrossExamined Radio Program and Podcast

Listen to CrossExamined with Frank Turek on American Family Radio network

Saturday, 10-11 am Eastern on AFR network streaming audio and FM radio

Tune in to our weekly call-in radio program hosted by Frank Turek on American Family Radio network. Join Frank as he discusses challenging topics, takes calls from listeners, and interviews dynamic Christian apologists. Sponsored by CrossExamined.org, this apologetics program is both informative and entertaining!

If you miss the show, the podcast archive is here.

And here’s part of the joint letter:

It’s not often that an atheist and a Christian, who have just had a debate on campus, can be brought into agreement by a group in the audience. But the Graduate Queer Alliance (GQA) at Stony Brook University has managed to do that. Their letter to the editor on April 30 was so full of false assertions and totalitarian demands that we, Dr. Michael Shermer (an atheist) and Dr. Frank Turek (a Christian), felt compelled to write this letter together in response.

The central assertion of the GQA is that anyone who expresses a negative opinion of same sex marriage or homosexual behavior is guilty of “hate speech” and should be barred from speaking at Stony Brook University. The GQA says this while also claiming to believe “that a university should provide an open forum for controversial ideas to be discussed and debated.” We both wonder how the GQA can hold these two contradictory opinions at the same time. After all, they say they are for the debate of controversial issues, but apparently only if both debaters hold the same position and that position agrees with the GQA. Some debate!

How is disagreement over controversial moral and political issues “hate speech?” If it is then GQA’s position is “hate speech” because it disagrees with people who believe marriage should be defined in other ways. Calling people names or characterizing their arguments as “hate speech” is not good public discourse designed to discover the truth; it is bullying—the very thing GQA should be against.

If you remember my post, the clip I played had some back and forth on gay rights in it. I guess the GQA didn’t like hearing any ideas contrary to their own.

More:

The true motives of the GQA are revealed by what is not in the letter: the arguments made by Dr. Shermer in support of same sex marriage, arguments he made with great passion that elicited equal passion—on both sides of the issue—from the audience. If those in the GQA are so interested in advancing their position through sound reason and science—which was Dr. Shermer’s point—why would they not highlight the arguments offered in support of it? Instead, the GQA seems to think they have a right not to hear an opposing opinion lest they be challenged!

It’s a shame that those in GQA appear so uninterested in evidence.

Well, read the whole thing.

I think the letter from the gay activists and the response are particularly interesting, especially given what Dr. George Yancey said in his essay on educational dogma, which I talked about yesterday.

This:

For the dogmatic, ideas that violate the notions defended by education dogma are deemed “dangerous” and too much for the tender ears of our students. So in additional to shouting down speakers there have been calls for “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” so that individuals do not have to listen to dangerous ideas. The true danger of these ideas is their threat to certain dogmatic beliefs of our students. These students are unwilling to consider the possibly that they are wrong, or perhaps not as right as they might believe. .

And:

For all practical purposes the students saw the speaker as a heretic. The use of the term heretic can bring up images of torturing, imprisoning and killing of those who disagree. This is not occurring. However, it is reasonable to ask whether the seemingly restraint of the students from such drastic actions is due to their moral compass or to the fact that they do not have the social power to engage in such actions. Education dogma has led to attempting to kick offending businesses off campus, attempts to fire professors, and the official “shunning” of students who hold the “wrong ideas.” Those with education dogma do punish those who violate their beliefs to the highest extent possible given their current level of institutional powers.

Dr. Yancey was talking about a different group of college leftists, but I think that’s exactly what’s going on here, too. For now, it’s shouting down and writing letters and getting people fired (which actually happened to Turek, before). But will they stop there?

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

Professor concerned by students who are unable to consider alternative views

This is a post by Dr. George Yancey, and he’s writing about the 5-minute video clip above.

Dr. Yancey writes:

Here is a great example of what I term education dogma. Note that the students are chanting about not being silenced while they are obviously silencing the speaker. My understanding of this situation is that the speaker published something that challenges some of the assertions about a campus rape culture. Such a challenge is an affront to the dogma of the students. Therefore, these students do not feel that the speaker has a right to speak on a different topic. The violation of beliefs they accept without question or doubt creates their incentive to shut down the proceedings.

[…]For the dogmatic, ideas that violate the notions defended by education dogma are deemed “dangerous” and too much for the tender ears of our students. So in additional to shouting down speakers there have been calls for “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” so that individuals do not have to listen to dangerous ideas. The true danger of these ideas is their threat to certain dogmatic beliefs of our students. These students are unwilling to consider the possibly that they are wrong, or perhaps not as right as they might believe. .

[…]As I watch that video I did not see intellectual powerhouses but I symbolically saw individuals who were yelling nonsense with their hands over their ears so that they would not hear an idea that may confront their presuppositions about reality.

Here, Dr. Yancey compares the secular leftist students to religious fundamentalists: (links removed)

For all practical purposes the students saw the speaker as a heretic. The use of the term heretic can bring up images of torturing, imprisoning and killing of those who disagree. This is not occurring. However, it is reasonable to ask whether the seemingly restraint of the students from such drastic actions is due to their moral compass or to the fact that they do not have the social power to engage in such actions. Education dogma has led to attempting to kick offending businesses off campus, attempts to fire professors, and the official “shunning” of students who hold the “wrong ideas.” Those with education dogma do punish those who violate their beliefs to the highest extent possible given their current level of institutional powers.

So if the holding your hands over your ears and screaming doesn’t work, there is always calling the police, or using other means of coercion. Scary, especially when you consider the history of the secular left in communist countries where God is dead, and the state is all-powerful. How far would these leftist students go to silence people who disagreed with them?

More:

[…][H]igher education occurs in a specific social institution that promotes certain subcultural values and beliefs. Participants in these institutions are expected to accept these values and beliefs without question. These beliefs are not the result of gaining more facts but instead are the dogmatic adaptation of certain social values provided to them by this subculture.

The trouble here is that they don’t want more facts – that’s why they are holding their hands over their ears and screaming.

It makes me think of my own intellectual journey… the way I got started in apologetics in college was by reading transcripts of William Lane Craig debates that I found on the Leadership University web site. What was exciting was reading both sides and seeing what each person would say to respond. Would you go to a football game where only one side showed up? What if you already knew the score in advance, would you still go? What if one team didn’t play very hard, would that be worth watching? What makes intellectual inquiry fun and interesting is that two sides show up and play their best. Otherwise, it’s just brainwashing, not a search for truth. When I write a summary with a good atheist like Peter Millican, I actually feel like I have learned something – I have learned how far I can push each of my arguments, and what I need to study going forward. I care to learn more about what is discussed in a real debate.

This is the striking part of his essay:

Students are responsible for seeking out alternative perspectives and developing an attitude of inquiry allowing them to interrogate their own presuppositions. But their college and university teachers should be held to account since more than a few college professors have done a horrible job introducing critical thinking skills. These teachers come in with a certain set of assumptions and if students agree with those assumptions then they can leave college without any disturbance to their pre-college ideology. Then we have the gall to call that critical thinking. It is anything but critical thinking. It is confirmation thinking and we do our students a disservice with such an approach.

This is why I get so frustrated by non-STEM disciplines. I think those non-STEM areas are the places where what he described is most likely to happen. When you walk into a computer science classroom, you are there to learn something that you will be doing for money in a couple of years. You can go home and use what you just learned to write a sorting program, or improve the speed of your database queries, or write a mobile application and put it out for use. I just don’t get that feeling of usefulness from non-STEM disciplines, aside from maybe analytical philosophy, which is just computer science anyway (symbolic logic). The critical thinking in computer science comes from trying things yourself and seeing what works and doesn’t work in real life. Where is the testing against reality in non-STEM disciplines? There is none.

And then here is something hopeful for conservatives:

Ironically a conservative Christian Republican has a better opportunity to learn critical thinking in college than a progressive humanist Democrat because of the opportunity he/she gains to consider new ideas. When we allow students with certain perspectives to go through college without challenging them we not only promote dogma, we also do those students the disservice of never helping them to engage in the critical thinking necessary to intellectually grow. They are reduced to being a sounding board that regurgitated the latest expression of political correctness.

This is where all my hope lies. I really hope that the left educates itself into imbecility by refusing to consider different points of view, and that we conservatives are the ones who start to outperform them and take the high ground in the culture. To innovate, you have to do things better, and to do things better, you have to do things differently.

Read his whole essay.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

Gay activists target student leader Lindsey Kolb for defending religious liberty

A banner with Lindsey Kolb

A banner with Lindsey Kolb

Here’s the story from The College Fix.

Excerpt:

Members of the LGBT community at Missouri State University are demanding the school retaliate against a student leader for her off-campus activism against a local ordinance that could harm religious freedom.

[…]A petition posted Wednesday on Change.org, originally titled “#TakeLindseyOffCarrington” but since changed to “#AccurateRepresentationMSU,” asks the school to remove a banner from its signature building, Carrington Hall, depicting “university ambassador” Lindsey Kolb.

As of Sunday night, the petition had 873 signatures.

Providing little context for its subject or a clear articulation of its demand, the petition was posted the day after Springfield residents voted to repeal a city council ordinance that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender.

Proponents of repeal have argued the ordinance did not provide substantial religious exemptions for businesses and individuals.

Removing the banner of Kolb would “send a message of cultural competence and not advertise someone who has no respect for a culture different from their own,” petition author and MSU student Connor Hayes wrote at Change.org.

Kolb told The College Fix her opponents have mischaracterized her beliefs and her faith.

“I advocated for repeal because I believe in religious freedom,” said Kolb in a statement. “A Church should not be forced to host a LGBTQ wedding. A cake shop should not be forced to make a cake for a LGBTQ couple’s wedding.”

Kolb wears many hats, according to her LinkedIn page: state chairman of the Missouri Federation of College Republicans and president of MSU’s chapter, receptionist for the dean of students and office of admissions, member of the student government cabinet, and even “campus ambassador” for a clothing brand.

What’s scary about this is the response of the gay activists:

She initially came under fire after taking issue with a satirical op-ed in The Standard by Caleb Hearon, which mocked Christians who favored of repeal of the Springfield ordinance.

“Repealing this protects religious freedom. It is my God-given right to hate whomever I want. Can I get a yee-yee?” Hearon wrote.

Caleb? What kind of name is Caleb for a secular leftist? That’s just weird.

More:

Though Hayes’ petition says its goal “is not to make Lindsey a scapegoat for the way the [Springfield ordinance repeal] vote turned out,” it continually returns to Kolb, calling her unfit to represent the university.

“Her remarks in the past do not exemplify an ethical leader by ostracizing and discriminating against current and prospective students who identify as member or ally of the LGBT+ community,” it states. “For Missouri State to continue to endorse her discriminatory views is effectively showing that they do not in fact value ethical leadership.”

Kolb told The Fix she feels “bullied” by the petition.

“The people who started this petition did not personally know me, my convictions, and completely took my views out of context,” she said.

Her opponents have taken to Twitter, using the hashtag #TakeLindseyOffCarrington and labeling her an “awful individual” and a “bigot”among other slurs.

I feel badly for her – trying to stand up for religious liberty using your real name is a disaster these days. It’s not safe. I do think that it’s extra good when a woman stands up for religious liberty, though. In my experience, women are more likely to want to hide their conservative beliefs from their peers – or even get rid of them completely in order to fit in. I feel really bad when that happens – I want to get in there and reinforce her so that she doesn’t feel pressured to change her values in order to fit in.

Look how tough Lindsey is:

And while Smart’s intervention on her behalf suggests Kolb’s banner will remain on Carrington Hall, “If it ever comes down to me having the freedom of speech and religion or having a banner on campus, I choose my faith and freedom every time,” Kolb told The Fix.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending so far:

University President Clif Smart decried those attacking Kolb in a Wednesday night blog post.

“In the same way that discrimination will not be permitted at Missouri State, we will also not permit retaliation based on someone’s political or religious beliefs or advocacy efforts on this or any other political issue,” Smart wrote.

He said the university’s “public affairs” mission – the petition’s stated rationale for removing Kolb’s banner – “is not a weapon to be wielded when we work or study with those who have different ideas, beliefs or values than our own.”

Discouraging people from speaking openly is not what Missouri State is about, Smart continued: “We do not behave as ethical leaders when we seek to stifle free expression or punish those who advocate for particular viewpoints.”

And there is a counter-petition for you to sign to support Lindsey, as well. I posted this because my heart just went out to her trying to do the right thing and taking flak from the secular leftist mob. She is a very, very brave girl – I’m sure this experience has hurt her some. It’s scary – so many of our young people are like Crazy Caleb – even the ones raised in Christian homes. And there are so few Lindseys. The university is a very dark place right now. And yet it has so much influence in our society that we can’t abandon it, we have to keep trying to get a foothold.

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

Why is college so expensive? Why does university tuition cost so much?

The correct answer appeared in the radically leftist New York Times, of all places.

This is by Paul F. Campos, law professor at the radically leftist UC Boulder.

He writes:

[P]ublic investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s. Such spending has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general. For example, the military’s budget is about 1.8 times higher today than it was in 1960, while legislative appropriations to higher education are more than 10 times higher.

In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education. If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.

Some of this increased spending in education has been driven by a sharp rise in the percentage of Americans who go to college. While the college-age population has not increased since the tail end of the baby boom, the percentage of the population enrolled in college has risen significantly, especially in the last 20 years. Enrollment in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs has increased by almost 50 percent since 1995. As a consequence, while state legislative appropriations for higher education have risen much faster than inflation, total state appropriations per student are somewhat lower than they were at their peak in 1990. (Appropriations per student are much higher now than they were in the 1960s and 1970s, when tuition was a small fraction of what it is today.)

As the baby boomers reached college age, state appropriations to higher education skyrocketed, increasing more than fourfold in today’s dollars, from $11.1 billion in 1960 to $48.2 billion in 1975. By 1980, state funding for higher education had increased a mind-boggling 390 percent in real terms over the previous 20 years. This tsunami of public money did not reduce tuition: quite the contrary.

[…]State appropriations reached a record inflation-adjusted high of $86.6 billion in 2009. They declined as a consequence of the Great Recession, but have since risen to $81 billion. And these totals do not include the enormous expansion of the federal Pell Grant program, which has grown, in today’s dollars, to $34.3 billion per year from $10.3 billion in 2000.

The more money that is attached to students, the more money universities charge – simple.

But where is the money going? Is it mostly going to research? To the classroom? To hire more and better professors?

No:

Interestingly, increased spending has not been going into the pockets of the typical professor. Salaries of full-time faculty members are, on average, barely higher than they were in 1970. Moreover, while 45 years ago 78 percent of college and university professors were full time, today half of postsecondary faculty members are lower-paid part-time employees, meaning that the average salaries of the people who do the teaching in American higher education are actually quite a bit lower than they were in 1970.

By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.

If you’re going to college or trade school, go to a low-cost school. Do a STEM degree or do a trade that pays well. Try to get tuition assistance even if it means going to a less prestigious school. And work at every opportunity you get in the most serious job you can find. Don’t spend your money – save it. Especially don’t spend your money on fun, vacations and alcohol. As soon as you grow up, you’re going to wish you could have it all back.

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

Is marriage boring? Why are some women bored by marriage?

In this post, when I refer to women, I am referring to young, unmarried women under the age of 35 who have been influenced by feminism to reject goal-directed marriage.

My pastor gave a sermon recently where he talked about 2 Tim 2:3, and he emphasized that in order to be useful for God, you have to be willing to “flee from youthful lusts”.

2 Tim 2:20-23:

20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.

21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

The pastor asked everyone to consider what they were like when they were young, but not to yell it out for everyone to hear. Then he listed out some of the characteristics of youth. They are impractical. They are thrill-seekers. They are self-centered. They want to pursue selfish pleasures. They want to be the center of attention.

My marriage plan is boring

As I was listening to the sermon, it reminded me of my experiences dealing with Christian women in campus clubs and churches. My approach with Christian women was always to lay out my plans, and then explain what I had already done to prepare for those plans, and then ask them to build skills in a mentoring relationship with me, while deciding whether we were compatible for marriage. It’s understood that I am presenting a complementarian plan here, that I would be the leader of the marriage and family. The customer of the marriage would of course be God, and not my wife or I, nor the children.

Let’s just quickly review what I would tell them and see if it’s boring or not.

So here’s the plan:

  1. Influence the church with apologetics (teach apologetics classes, bring in speakers, organize conferences, etc.)
  2. Influence the university with apologetics (support campus clubs, bring in speakers, organize conferences, open house to students, etc.)
  3. Influence the public square (advocate for pro-family policies, lower taxes, smaller government, religious liberty, peace through strength, etc.)
  4. Raise effective and influential children who are excellent students and who are motivated to enter fields that matter and earn PhDs.

And here are some things I learned over the years from presenting this plan to marriage candidates.

Red flags when choosing a candidate

I really recommend that if you are looking for a wife, you should prefer to interview women who did not have a “wild” period of drinking, hooking up and cohabitation with atheists. Chastity really does matter – even if the woman became unchaste as a non-Christian before returning to Christianity, it will affect her ability to trust you, be vulnerable to you, let you lead her, be content with marriage and family, and in some cases to even remain faithful to you. In my experience the damage done from recreational premarital sex is still detectable after the conversion, and the women involved are unable to articulate why what they did was wrong, and what has been lost. In short, they are not remorseful.

Make sure she has done hard things in her life that have taught her that objective reality trumps her feelings and intuitions. You should prefer a woman with a STEM degree or a trade certification, no student loans, a job related to her degree, savings of her own – and someone who is not still living at home at age 30. If you want to put God first in the marriage, then you want to avoid someone who wants to redirect your time and money to fun and thrill-seeking.

You need to find a woman who is not “bored” by the duties and challenges of being a wife and mother. And you need to make sure to stress her with challenges during the courtship to make sure that she understands that marriage is about serving God, not about serving herself. When a woman has made all of her decisions using her emotions, and has achieved nothing, it does not bode well for her ability to make plans, stick to plans and achieve goals. It also does not help her to respect your plans and achievements. She will look at all your strengths (education, profession, savings, Christian influence) and think it is nothing impressive unless she has experienced sacrifice to achieve goals herself.

The main point is that a woman who has never had to do anything hard and achieve goals over the long-term has NO RESPECT for men who have done these things. Respect is what you need in order to lead. And you need to be in the lead in order for the marriage to work.

You want to avoid a woman who complains that home life is boring, that predictability and routine and safety are boring. You want to avoid a woman who disdains the humdrum of day-to-day earning money in an office building and saving money rather than blowing it on expensive things and one-shot thrills. You want to avoid women who rebels just for the sake of rebelling. You want to avoid women who resent anyone who tells them to be prudent, cautious, modest, etc. You want to avoid women who don’t get along with their fathers, who don’t see the value of benevolent authority. You want to avoid women who don’t have a track record of doing the hard work needed to achieve goals (e.g. – women who avoid STEM degrees). You want to prefer a woman who has the desire for achievement in the service of God more than the desire for pleasure or attention. You want to pick someone with a demonstrated ability to care for and nurture others in a goal-directed way, not someone whose relationships are more about getting her needs met.

The perception of “spiritual maturity”

Many Christian women who have been raised in a Christian home, who have prayed, done Bible studies, read A.W. Tozer, listened to sermons, and gone to AWANA and Sunday school have a very warped view of spiritual maturity. What the Christian home and the church teaches young women is that religion should be about their feelings. Private devotional reading and Bible study are much better (in their eyes) than preparing for public debates or sponsoring public lectures at a university. This is the feminized view of spiritual maturity that you find in the church, and this is how many Christian women judge the spiritual maturity of men.

I recommend that you find a woman who has an outward-focused practical view of Christianity and who respects action and results, not private piety and feelings. A great test for “outward-focusedness” in a woman is whether she has ability in evidential apologetics, especially science and to a lesser degree, history. Apologetics has value in Christianity because it is the thing that makes you resistant to suffering and disappointment with God. And the more evidence-based it is, the better. Reading “Signature in the Cell” is millions of times more effective than anything written by people like C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton.

Is marriage primarily about the woman’s happiness?

Here is my list of courting questions that I use to detect women who will be bored by marriage. If you suspect that a woman is more focused on her own happiness than making the marriage count for God, then you just have to ask her these questions. If she gets angry and refuses to answer or learn how to answer them, then she’s self-centered and wants fun and thrills. Move on to the next one.

Understand that some young, unmarried women today who identify as Christian have these fun-seeking, thrill-seeking skeletons in their closets and that it seriously undermines their ability to perform “boring” marriage and parenting roles. Do not listen to them when they say they want to be married “some day” when all they are doing now is seeking pleasure apart from marriage and family as their fertility clock ticks away. Then they don’t really want it. Women say “some day” because they want to present themselves to others a certain way, but some women say that while really just wanting to indulge their emotions, have a good time, and never sacrifice for the future.

Many Christian women tend to draw their their standards for what will make them happy from the culture and from their peers. Whatever they claim to believe on Sunday, their actions the rest of the time are going to be inline with the culture and their peers. So pay attention to their actions, not their words. The words are designed to paint a picture for others to think well of them, but the actions show what their priorities really are.

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

Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 5,151,137 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,817 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,817 other followers

%d bloggers like this: