Monday, July 22, 2013

Fox News Pundits Deride Creationists As Unfit For Public Office

Despite differing perches along the political spectrum, in separate segments on the 8/29/11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Juan Williams, Bernard Goldberg, and Kinky Friedman each made snide comments against candidates for the Presidency that did not embrace evolution as part of their respective individual worldviews.

Each of these spokesmen for the secularist perspective (though Williams made a fuss over his Episcopalianism which has been one of contemporary Christianity's most spineless forms) insinuated that one's position regarding origins somehow represents an intellectual deficiency if one does not enthusiastically embrace Darwinism. Perhaps we should take a moment to examine how this might impact a politician's political philosophy.

Often ultrasecularists assure we dimwitted rubes that religion has no bearing on the nuts and bolts issues voters really care about as the nation edges closer to financial ruination and social collapse. These days, one is as likely to hear this from certain varieties of grassroots conservatism as you are from ACLU types.

Even if evolution was true, what bearing does Rick Perry, Michelle Eichmann, or Sarah Patin believing the world was created six thousand years ago have on the proverbial price of tea in China? Given the worthlessness of the US dollar, such an example is no longer as merely rhetorical as it once was.

On the national level, it's not like a singular figure would be able to reverse the inertia of an entrenched technocratic bureaucracy steeped in scientism.

If a more creationist approach to science held sway in the jurisdictions where the aforementioned politicians enjoy a constituency, who are elites to criticize the prevailing conceptual framework?

After all, aren't these the same multiculturalists that dare anyone to criticize the adherents of a particular unmentioned religion who have a penchant for flying jetliners into skyscrapers and to strap sticks of dynamite to their chests.

Those thinking, to paraphrase Bernard Goldberg, that is is ignorant to believe that dinosaurs and human beings might have shared the earth at the same time apparently also believe that how the world came into existence impacts other areas of existence. That is a notion that they share with the Christian that actually just comes at the question from the opposite direction.

Since those wanting to shut God out or at least hold Him at bay in one's approach to one of life's most fundamental questions on what is constantly tauted as cable's most highly rated news program, perhaps we should examine these assumptions a little more closely.

Those holding to evolution believe everything is in a constant state of flux and change. There are no unaltering realities or lasting principles.

For example, Congress shall make no law abridging the free exercise of religion or speech, or the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. Those might have been alright in the 1700's, but those provisions aren't meant for today since we have progressed so far beyond them, the evolutionary collectivist would argue.

Rights are not something we are endowed with by our Creator as individuals made in his image. Rather these protections are statutory provisions that can be extended and contracted for the benefit of the elite ruling any given society.

The contrasting perspective holds that every detail in the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis are to be taken literally. Such an assumption produces a number of worldview implications.

For example, the theist holding to the Genesis account generally believes that the individual is created in the image of God. This doctrine is taught in Genesis 1:26.

As such, the individual possesses an innate dignity and worth. The person is not some random conglomeration of cells to be manipulated, reconfigured, and even obliterated for no valid reason. Thus, those principles viewed as outdated and obsolete are often the only things that prevent us from being obliterated by those so deluded that they can remake the entire world in their own warped image.

By Frederick Meekins

Saturday, July 20, 2013

$1 million Arlington bus stop breaks down in heat

This week’s sweltering and dangerous heatwave has taken a toll on the bus arrival screen at the $1 million Super Stop on Columbia Pike.
The screen is currently out of service, with a large note apologizing for the problem.
“Due to the extreme temperatures, our monitor displaying bus arrivals is not operational,” the sign says. “We are working on the problem.”
Arlington County spokeswoman Laura G. Smith says technicians have ordered a new cooling fan for the display.

“It should be fixed within the next two weeks,” she said. In the meantime, the sign has instructions telling bus riders how to look up bus arrival times on their smartphone.

Posted from arlnow.com

A Liberal Beat Down at the Trayvon Martin Rally in Oakland

by David Lawrence

Well, the spoiled egotists are at it again.  They have not gotten their way on the Zimmerman trial and are taking justice into their own hands.  They are beating on a filmmaker in Oakland, Christian Hartsock, similar to the way Martin pounded Zimmerman’s head on the concrete.
 
Are these vicious members of the crowd what we want to substitute for neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman? Are they suggesting that we substitute brutal mob behavior for morality and modest discussion?
 
It reminds me of the spoiled brats at Occupy Wall Street.  Like these college flunkies could create a functioning Wall Street. Criticism does not imply superiority.  It often is resentfulness for those who are better than us.
 
Don’t the beasts in the crowd realize that they undercut their own accusations of racism when they assault an innocent man on racial grounds?  Is stupid really this stupid?  Is vengeance so blind that it picks unjustified targets and embarrasses itself by beating innocence?
 
I am a Jew.  We suffered the worst tragedy during the holocaust?  That doesn’t mean that we have to side with every victim even when he might have been the aggressor.  That doesn’t mean we have to be violent when we recognize that violence was unfairly used against us. That doesn’t mean that we have to defend Trayvon Martin when a court has decided that Zimmerman was innocent.  Who are these protesters?  Lawyers?  Judges?  Or activists looking for a fight.
 
And the blacks who give up the pacifist card are playing with a full deck of aggression and unfair anger. 
They deal out “Go Fish,” looking for guilt in a pool of confused innocence.
 
The blacks and Jews should be asking for calm.  Violence has always betrayed us.  The protesters were chanting, “No justice, no peace --fuck you pigs in your sleep.” Are we supposed to get rid of our present judicial system and government to replace them by violent animals?  They are hearkening back to Charlie Manson days when his crew called the cops “pigs.”
 
Na├»ve Americans are proud of protest.  I protest.  Protest with underpinnings of violence is regress to Neanderthal times. Shakespeare said, “The lady doth protest too much.”  So do the angry demonstrators. Almost none of them even know Trayvon Martin.  They want to make him a brother for their own violent devices.
 

When Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 everyone in Great Neck North High School broke into tears.  I didn’t.  I told my friends, “I don’t know Kennedy, why should I cry?”  I don’t know Trayvon.  Either do you.  Quit crying and learn to adjust to a difficult life with dignity, self-improvement and pacifistic forethought.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Malnourished Imaginations Fail To Comprehend The Significance Of “The Hunger Games”

The Hunger Games ranks among one of the top grossing movies of the past several years. Obviously, something about the film has captured the imagination and interest of a wide range of people and viewpoints.

This includes segments of the Evangelical Christian population as well. One might assume adherents of this particular belief system might be concerned about the violence and language that would seem to be inherent to a tale about teens forced to battle to the death in a form of televised postmodern gladiatorial combat.

Even if details in the story cross the line in terms of propriety, one would think there would be a number of elements within the overriding theme that the believer could find agreement.

A great deal of the saga focuses on how, as the West slides deeper into social decay, conditions revert back to the waning days of Rome. However, the issues raised by homeschool activist Kevin Swanson are in a sense even more shocking than the homicidal lotteries featured in the story.

In a sermon addressing “The Hunger Games”, Swanson focused in on a scene where one contestant plotted to eliminate a fellow competitor while they slept. To determine whether such an action was right or wrong, Swanson consulted the account in I Samuel 24 where David could have slain Saul but did not do so while the king slept because, at that point in the narrative, Saul was still the Lord's anointed King of Israel.

Instead of explicating both the Old Testament account and “The Hunger Games” as an example of where the Commandment against murder might apply, it seemed as if Swanson elevated the actions of David themselves to the status of an absolute applicable in all situations just because it was David.

Let's just hope Swanson doesn't look to what David had done to Uriah as an example of what a man should do when he desires an unattainable woman. So from the story of of Abigail's first husband, should one take away that we should threaten to whack those that diss us (to place the story in the terms of the urban vernacular of those likely on public assistance)?

Yet this is not the most controversial component of Kevin Swanson's thesis. It's not too ludicrous to hypothesize it's not very courageous to slay your enemies while they slept.

Swanson conjectures that, since David would not kill King Saul in the monarch's sleep since God had unequivocally selected Saul to be King of Israel at that specific time, the Christian is obligated to allow the operatives of an out of control government to take the lives of Americans without due process or valid cause under the universal precepts of natural law.

If exegetes arguing this position couple this notion with obeying civil authoroties in all instances, where does that end? If during the ambush police, intelligence operatives, or military personnel decide to have their way with the daughters of the proper pliant Christian, would they condemn those resisting such defilement? If not, then why must citizens passively surrender their lives and their property when their other protections from the Decalogue are wantonly violated?

Enthusiasts of unbridled power will remark that such a scenario is unlikely to ever take place. But what of the incident where New York police were alleged to have shoved a plunger up a suspect's backside? If the government is doing such things, is the proper Christian response suppose to be “Please, sir, may I have another?”

In the years ahead, Christians will be required to make ethical decisions of nuanced gradation as the institutions founded from on high to defend the innocent abandon their intended purpose to rank among the foremost of dangers. Narratives such as The Hunger Games, even if Christians cannot endorse them on every point, can assist believers in reflecting upon contingencies beyond the parameters of their normal experience.

By Frederick Meekins

Monday, July 8, 2013

Legalists Rally Against The Speculative Fiction Menace

Baptist Pastor James Cooley has posted a homily at SermonAudio.com condemning the use of the latest Superman film as an apologetic outreach.

This pastor contends that the true Christian ought to avoid the film all togeher since the symbols and motifs utilized in the story could be coopted by the Son of Perdition to delude the unsuspecting into accepting the End Times 'deceiver as the Son of God.

But the question must be asked, how does this pastor know so much about the movie if he is not simply suggesting discernment should one decide to view the film but that the film be avoided altogether?

By bringing up a topicthat does not appear blatantly wicked on the surface, doesn't a pastor worthy of the respect and pay as such have to encourage those in his congregation to be like the Bereans and to then investigate the claims on their own which might entail actually watching the film to determine for themselves whether the conclusions made by the minister are valid or not?

How does Superman not live up to Christian values if we take the narrative at face value? He doesn't make the world bow at his feet demanding worship, he renders his services for free, and for decades let the woman he's attracted to treat him like dirt before she realized who he was.

Doesn't Zod serve as evidence of what Superman would be like if he was not a highly moral individual?

The arguments against comic books and fantasy films spouted from the pulpits of the extremes of fundamentalist Christianity only decline in lucidity from that particular logical plateau.

Pastor James Cooley condemned Batman as a humanist for relying primarily upon his mind to solve crimes.

So I guess we should wait idly by for all of life's problems to miraciously resolve themselves with no effort on our part?

Another pastor condemning the conceptual construct of the superhero narrative said that God has called us to “kingdom work” and not fighting aliens.

But we may be on the cusp of a time when those missions are about to overlap.

A pastor opposed to superhero stories and comic books insisted that such narratives were wicked because intrinsic to the structure was an attempt to save the world.

So by that standard, it would be immoral to write a novel about the military especially during a conflict like World War II?

Pastor James Cooley, in a sermon titled “Super Heroes Replace Christ” said, “JRR Tolkien was a lost Catholic that went to hell, amen.”

Indeed Tolkien did if he did not rely soley on Christ to save him from his sins But so does the confused Baptist that thinks adhering to all of the Baptist peculiarities (including avoiding comic books and fantasy movies) are necessary to attest to the authenticity of one's faith.

In a sermon condemning superhero entertainment, a legalist complained that you can't have a decent understandable conversation with someone that watches movies and plays video games.

Now the legalist knows how the rest of us feel in dealing with someone whose faith doesn't simply inform or influence what they say and do but is the only thing they can obsessively talk about. By Frederick Meekins

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bioethics & Timeless Truths For Changing Times

The rate of technological and cultural change is so fast and comprehensive in these days in which we live that futurist Alvin Toffler has likened the phenomena to waves sweeping over society and labeled the feeling of disoriented perplexity that settles over us in the wake as "Future Shock". Many of these changes appear to be so profound that the pressure to abandon traditional values and beliefs from academia, media, government, and even certain factions within organized religion can feel overwhelming. However, there is more at stake than whether we send letters to acquaintances via the post office or through the computer electronically. Rather, such radical shifts of the paradigms through which we sift reality and experience will ultimately impact how we see ourselves and how we value other human beings.

With the technical complexity inherent to many of the latest developments in the fields of biology and medicine, it is easy to fall for the assumption that ethics and morality in these disciplines would better be left to the highly educated such as scientists or philosophy professors. The field of bioethics is a relatively new area of study in comparison to the totality of human knowledge. Because of its frontier nature as ethically uncharted territory, it is a discipline in desperate need of a solid Christian presence as it is pretty much a wide open field in which the ambitious and enthusiastic can plant their flag in the hopes of persuading the masses as to the propriety of a respective position.

As Christians, it is the fundamental assumption of the believer that all truth is derived from God as revealed to us either directly from His word (the Bible), deduced from reflection upon His word, or discernable from His creation construed in the light of His word. II Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All scripture is given inspired of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." Likewise, Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands (NIV)."

Since this is the case, God's law is written across the whole of creation. Try as men might to ignore or escape these binding commandments, they ultimately cannot and are seared by their own consciences as evidenced by the responses that often border on violence as typified by homosexual militants reacting whenever someone responds with anything less than a standing ovation or lavish government subsidies for this particular lifestyle. Romans 2:14-15 says, "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.”

Though the Bible might not address specific bioethical issues directly by name such as stem cells and cloning, a number of the Good Book's foremost passages and doctrines serve as the foundation to a Christian response to these kinds of challenges arising in the world today. As the basis to all divine law contained within both the Old and New Testaments, the Ten Commandments serve as the guiding principles for all healthy relationships with both God and man. Prominent among these is the injunction "Thou shalt not murder."

This admonition was not handed down arbitrarily just so God could laud his authority and power over us. Rather, this commandment was set in place as recognition of man's unique status as a creature made in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27 says, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image'...So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." This image of God in each individual is so sacred that no individual should be able to take the life of another without serious consequences. Genesis 9:6 warns, "Whoever sheds the blood of man; by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."

Thus, the fundamental consideration in regards to these complex issues arising as a result of advances in biotechnology is that of personhood. As these scientific developments promise more and more of the things we as human beings crave the most in our earthly lives such as freedom from disease, prolonged life, or even enhanced abilities and children designed to our specifications, it becomes easier and easier to view other human beings as a means to achieve these goals for ourselves rather than as those whose lives we would like to see improved.

For while all of the issues raised in a cursory bioethics survey start off with noble-sounding justifications, when we look behind the lofty pronouncements, many of us would be shocked by the staggering numbers of bodies concealed behind the curtain. Perhaps one of the first bioethics debates to grip the public consciousness was no doubt abortion.

Those opposed to the practice argued that the procedure so dehumanized the unborn that the utilitarian allure of convenience would prove so seductive that the value would be invoked to justify the disposal of other members of the human family not measuring up to some arbitrary standard of productivity or quality of life. Since the time of its legalization, abortion has continued to divide the American electorate. This barbaric practice has been joined by a plethora of additional bioethical conundrums and outrages.

If anything, the potential of human cloning and the use of stem cells harvested from either fetuses falling victim to the abortionists knife or embryos purposefully formed in a laboratory to destroy in order to collect these genetic components garner even more headlines. At the other end of the spectrum of life, physicians are intervening to end the lives of those deemed a waste of recourses such as in the case of Terri Schiavo. This woman would have undoubtedly remained alive if she had not been denied basic nutrition and hydration, actions that could cause considerable legal trouble with the likes of PETA or the Humane Society should you decide to inflict such appalling mistreatment upon the family dog.

Even though the strongest and most direct moral case is the one that boldly stands upon the Word of God as its ultimate foundation, Western culture has become so "de-theized" (the very thing that causes human life to be devalued in the first place) that if one does not introduce these theories and concepts surreptitiously at first, one may find oneself excluded from the public policy debates where these kinds of decisions are made. In “Moral Choices: An Introduction To Ethics”, Scott Rae provides a framework through which the believer can introduce Biblical principles into these debates without initially coming across like some kind of “religious lunatic”. In today’s philosophical climate, all it takes to get that slur hurled at you is to question the prudence or propriety of the increasingly popular urge to copulate with anything that moves (or even with that which doesn’t according to the necrophiliacs who, if you search hard enough, probably endow a professorship at some prestigious university or a public interest lobbying group at some swanky office building not far from Capitol Hill).

A professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Ethics at the Talbot School of Theology, Rae shows that all truth is God’s truth and how the best philosophical thinking reflects this foundation. These seemingly disparate approaches to knowledge (faith and reason) find a connection through natural law. This approach to jurisprudence and ethics holds that there are certain principles binding upon all people with slight variations that produce the kinds of circumstances under which human beings thrive. These include the universality of heterosexual marriage, respect for private property, and prohibitions against murder.

“Moral Choices: An Introduction To Ethics” equips the reader to ferret out the hidden moral assumptions of those opposed to the Judeo-Christian approach to these issues. A number of the alternative ethical systems explored include utilitarianism (the right option is that producing the greatest good for the greatest number), ethical egoism (the morality of an act is determined by one’s self-interest), emotivism (morality is merely an enunciation of the inner feelings of an individual making an ethical pronouncement), and relativism (right and wrong change depending upon the context of a particular situation with there being no eternal absolute). It is emphasized that the advocates of these positions cannot accuse the Christian believer of bias and not being objective unless nontheists want to shoot themselves in the foot as well.

“Moral Choices: An Introduction To Ethics” provides the student with a multi-step framework of analysis that will assist the individual in weeding through complex issues that they may initially find intimidating and beyond their expertise but which can be more easily comprehended once boiled down to their constituent parts (105-107). These steps are listed as follows: (1) Gather the facts (one should obtain as much information about a specific case as possible). (2) Determine the ethical issues (these can be stated in the form of the conflicting claims at stake). (3) What principles have a bearing on the case (these are the principles at the heart of each competing position)? (4) List the alternatives (these consist of possible solutions to the moral dilemma). (5) Compare the alternatives with the principles (in this step one eliminates the possible solutions by determining their moral superiority or propriety). (6) Consider the consequences (in this step, one contemplates the implications of the alternatives). (7) Make a decision after analyzing and contemplating the information.

While this is important information, none of it will do any good unless Christians and those troubled by the disregard for human life sweeping across the culture get their message out to the wider public. Most will assume that as common everyday people not holding positions of influence in either academia, the medical profession, or within the formal ecclesiastical structure of the organized church that there is little that they can do to assist in this daunting struggle. However, with the advent of certain technologies as revolutionary to the realm of communications as the breakthroughs in genetic manipulation are to the field of biology, their voices can reach farther than they might initially imagine.

With technologies such as blogging and social media, independent voices laboring on their own (often derided by critics as geeks in pajamas) have coalesced into a source of opinion and information that in certain respects is coming to challenge the predominance of the mainstream media. Therefore, Christians can very easily use the new media to get their position out to the public regarding a wide range of bioethical issues.

Fundamental to the Christian understanding of the discipline is the pivotal role personhood plays regarding many of the issues at the forefront of bioethics. However, a number of voices within the Transhumanist movement (the ideology that humans should incorporate into their bodies mechanical or genetic enhancements so that the species might move beyond the the limitations inherent to our own nature) believe the definition of personhood should move beyond run of the mill human beings to include cyborgs, androids, and genetically engineered human/animal hybrids.

One doesn't have to be an expert in robotics or genetics to warn of the human rights horrors that would likely result should such a line of research be allowed to advance too far beyond the stages of theoretical speculation. One merely need to have seen a few of the Borg episodes of Star Trek and point out what this kind of tinkering backed by a communistic outlook leads to.

The future is there for those that want it the most. It will either go to those that believe that the masses exist for the benefit of the elite as the push onward towards their New World Order. Or, it will go towards those that view each individual as being created in the image of God, existing within a framework of divine laws that allow the individual to live life to its fullest while protecting each of us from the dangers on the prowl in a fallen world.

by Frederick Meekins