Watson’s racism: the skewed view

Anthony Horvath, writing in his own “Christian Apologetics Ministries” blog, has an inference or two that he’d like to draw from James Watson’s infamous and universally-denounced support for racism. In making his point, he gives us a good demonstration of skewing the facts to make a biased point, namely, that Watson proves you should never trust a scientist. He begins by “raising our awareness.”

In other places on my blog here I have tried to raise awareness of the fact that scientists are people just like the rest of us and there is no reason to believe that they are especially more logical or rational than anyone else… or more ethical.

Nor are they any less logical, rational, or ethical than other people, on average. This fact seems to have escaped Horvath’s notice, or at least it’s conspicuously absent from his discussion. From this inauspicious beginning, he goes on to try and spread Watson’s shame around so that it applies not only to all scientists, but to school boards as well.

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Tekton Apologetics Ministries on the Pharisaic/Zoroastrian link

James Patrick Holding, writing for the Tekton Apologetics Ministries, has got guts, I’ll give him that. He takes on the evidence linking Zoroastrianism to the Pharisees, and tries to discredit it. His approach boils down to trying to manufacture some doubt about the timing, and who borrowed from whom, and he leaves out some very significant factors, but I think it’s still a brave effort on his part. He begins by admitting that there is some grounds for the connection.

I have chosen the title “close but no cigar” for this essay because of all the figures chosen by mythicists so far that I have looked at, old Zoro comes in closest to fitting their bill. Some of the things listed above are actually true and confirmed by scholarly literature — and a couple of them come from sources that Zoroastrian scholars suggest go back to a source predating Christianity.

He goes on to suggest that this connection is overstated, like “claiming a ‘100% increase’ in a salary that went from one dollar a year to two dollars,” but I think we’ll see that there’s a lot more to it than that.

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XFiles Friday: The theistic 12-step program

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, p. 28)

Having given us a taste of things to ensue, Geisler and Turek introduce the 12-point outline they use in their live seminars. They claim it gives them a structured, evidence-based framework leading from the existence of truth to the conclusion that Christianity is true (and takes less faith than atheism), but a quick look at the 12 points reveals a rather glaring circular argument. I’ll give the complete list below the fold; see if you can spot the circular reasoning.

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Actual positive results from faith-based prison program

Since I reported that faith-based prison ministries tended to encourage more hypocrisy than genuine improvements, let me also draw your attention to a CNN report that says one such program is producing positive results–at least while the inmates are still in prison:

Evidence that they reduce recidivism is inconclusive, and skeptics question whether the prevailing evangelical tone of the units discriminates against inmates who don’t share their conservative Christian outlook.

However, evidence is strong that violence and trouble-making drop sharply in these programs, and they often are the only vibrant rehabilitation option at a time when taxpayer-funded alternatives have been cut back.

Why is this program working when others are not? In a word, volunteers.

[The Carol Vance Unit] and eight other InnerChange programs in Kansas, Minnesota, Arkansas, Missouri and Iowa operate on the strength of Prison Fellowship’s private financial resources and legions of volunteers.

This poses an interesting dilemma. Pretty clearly, it’s the volunteers, and not the Gospel, that are making the difference. After all, the Gospel is preached in other faith-based programs that have few volunteers (or none at all), and this approach generally produces only superficial responses. Volunteers make the difference. But this begs the question: would the volunteers show up if it were not for the Gospel? I’m guessing they might not, and I’ll tell you why below the fold.

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Christianity is winning! — D’Souza

Phil Brennan, at the right-wing newsmax.com, gives us a glowing review (beware popups at newsmax!) of Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book, an attempt to rebut the recent round of atheistic best-sellers.

There is no better way to inoculate a young man or woman against the virus of atheistic brainwashing epidemic on America’s campuses than Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, which carefully and calmly goes about the job of not only exposing the emptiness and lies of the atheistic materialism fervently embraced by a great number of academics, but also shows how effective Christianity has proven to be in combating its deleterious effects on our culture.

According to D’Souza atheism is losing and Christianity is winning. “God has come back to life,” he writes. “The world is witnessing a huge explosion of religious conversion and growth, and Christianity is growing faster than any other religion. Nietzsche’s proclamation ‘God is Dead’ is now proven false.”

Yup. He’s exactly right. And anyone who whines and moans about how Christians are poor, oppressed souls, and how Christianity is being “expelled” and banned from the public eye, is lying. Christianity is still the dominant force in our culture, and it got that way by inoculating young people’s minds before they could be exposed to viewpoints that would question their assumptions.

Thanks, Phil, and thanks Dinesh, for at least being honest about that part. (Maybe I’ll find a second-hand copy of that book to review someday…)

 
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Proverb for the day

Life is pretty hectic right now, so today’s blog post will be real short: a simple proverb.

He who praises his God, praises himself.

That one’s not in the Bible, by the way.

Maybe if I get time, I’ll post something longer about the truth behind the proverb.

 
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Colson on “faith as unsupported belief”

Chuck Colson, in an article entitled “The Atheist Leap of Faith,” joins the list of Christians using the term “faith” to mean “unsupported belief”:

Dawkins and Krauss simply assume that materialism—the idea that there is nothing besides matter—is true. Thus, what makes a faith “rational” is whether it can be proven empirically.

Dawkins and Krauss do not offer any arguments to justify their assumptions. They do not tell us why materialism is true: Instead, they ask you to take its truth as a given—in other words, on faith.

Colson takes it a step further. Faith isn’t just belief without evidence, it’s belief without even any arguments in its favor. I should hope by now we could lay to rest macht’s insinuation that the “faith = belief – evidence” idea is a atheistic attempt to misrepresent what Christians are saying about faith. But Colson goes on to raise an interesting challenge:

If you meet someone who says your Christian faith is irrational, ask him to explain the basis of his faith.

Gladly.

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Add Alvin Plantinga to the “faith = belief – evidence” list…

Writing for christianpost.com, Chuck Colson grudgingly concedes that the “New Atheists” are proving quite successful at getting their point across.

Their message is simple: There is no God, and people who believe there is a God are simply being irrational. But is faith in God truly irrational?

And how will Colson rebut the claim that God is merely a philosophical construct invented by men? He appeals to a philosopher. And the philosopher makes the same claim that Geisler and Turek do: that Christian faith-without-evidence is valid because unbelievers (allegedly) also accept faith-without-evidence.

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Archbishop of Canterbury “hits out” at Dawkins

Over in the UK, the Telegraph is reporting that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is accusing Richard Dawkins of not being qualified to criticize Christianity.

He suggested that Prof Dawkins, the author of the best-selling The God Delusion and a leading Darwinist, was a good scientist but a poor philosopher.

“Our culture is one that deeply praises science, so we assume because someone is a good scientist, they must be a good philosopher,” he said in a lecture at Swansea University.

Christianity isn’t supposed to be merely a philosophy. It’s supposed to tell us the truth about a God who allegedly really exists and Who allegedly interacts with the real world in tangible, perceptible ways. It doesn’t take a PhD in philosophy for us to know whether God is actually showing up in the real world to participate in the intimate, two-way, personal relationship that the Bible says He was willing to die for. You don’t even need to be a scientist.  The Gospel describes God as a being who is willing and able to show up and interact with us, and all we have to do to give this notion a reality check is to see whether or not God actually shows up, literally, to interact with us.

 
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Brandon 3: One more turn around the dance floor

Brandon comes back to take his strawman on one more turn around the dance floor. It’s fairly lengthy, and involves a few small tweaks to his original argument, but it’s still the same strawman, plus an interesting explanation of why he feels this is a personal issue for me but not for him. I’ll give him this, though: he starts out with a thorough documentation of his sources (links below are his).

The Professor at “Evangelical Realism” has responded to my response to the response to my response to the response to Macht’s post. It’s a much better response, and worth reading, but I am certain it still does not adequately address the issue.

I’ll look at the high points of his argument, but first, for convenience, I’ll restate the example formula we’ve been working with, based on Geisler and Turek:

95% evidence + 5% faith = 100% conclusion

By using the unambiguous word “conclusion” to describe the belief you derive by combining faith and evidence, we eliminate the equivocation fallacy that comes from using the same term (“faith” or its synonym “belief”) to refer both to the 5% faith and the 100% conclusion. Brandon, however, is not interested in adopting this simple clarification.

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