Legal anti-gay discrimination

Various so-called “pro-family” groups have expressed their pleasure and support for government discrimination against gays, as mandated by the dishonestly-named “Defense of Marriage Act of 1996.

Pro-family groups were encouraged this week by the announcement that the U.S. Census Bureau will not include same-sex “marriages” in its upcoming 2010 census report.

“The U.S. Census Bureau procedures used to count and tabulate relationship data are guided by and comply with legal requirements of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which requires all federal agencies to recognize only opposite-sex marriages for the purposes of administering federal programs,” explained Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner in a statement.

In other words, critics of the DMA have been right all along: it does nothing to defend marriages, and merely uses the power of government to exclude gays from receiving equal access to government programs and other benefits.

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Sunday Toons: How NT writers used the OT

I’ve mentioned JP Holding’s cartoon-style apologetics before, but there’s so much good stuff there I might have to make this a regular feature. As a preview of today’s episode, here’s Holding lecturing “Dumplin’ Dumbash” on how name-calling means you’re a loser.

As a matter of fact, Dumbash, it does settle it, and calling the text and its authors names (“Bronze Age,” “superstitious,” “unbelieving”) just shows how inept you are at providing an actual answer.

I may have to revise my opinion of Holding’s grasp of the art of parody.

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XFiles Friday: Some guy said it, I believe it, that settles it.

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 9.)

A few chapters ago, Geisler and Turek were looking at the scientific evidence for evolution, and they were hardcore. Every claim by scientists and/or unbelievers was greeted with carefully measured skepticism, every alleged fact was challenged, turned over, and probed for weaknesses. Clearly, Geisler and Turek, like Holmes and Watson, are a diligent team of investigators, subjecting each alleged fact to meticulous cross-examination. So when someone gives them a list of what a handful of randomly-selected non-Christians supposedly said 18-19 centuries ago, we can expect that they’ll give this testimony the same careful, conscientious evaluation, right?

Um…… right.

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Letter to Chuck Colson

A while back, Mike Prichard at Zondervan contacted me and invited me to participate in an online exchange with Chuck Colson regarding Colson’s recent book, The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters. I believe other non-Christian bloggers were also invited to participate, though as far as I know, The Atheist Experience is the only other blog besides mine to take them up on their offer. Since Colson has just published his reply to The Atheist Experience, I expect he’ll be responding to my post shortly, so I thought I’d go ahead and publish my questions. (I’ve kept my note to Colson fairly short, in hopes of encouraging a more back-and-forth dialog.) The full text of my email to Colson is below the fold.

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TIA Tuesday: Punch drunk

Vox Day has a knack for spotting his own habits whenever they show up in the behavior of his adversaries. Chapter 9 of TIA gives us a good example of this as Vox describes Christopher Hitchens as someone who “writes as he debates, as if there is a team of judges keeping track of the total number of punches thrown and awarding points for each one landed.” True to form, Vox spends the rest of the chapter (has he has spent most of the book thus far) throwing rhetorical punches at Hitchens and awarding himself points for each one, whether it lands or not.

Last week we saw Vox accuse Hitchens of evading the questions of one Doug Wilson, despite the fact that Hitchens gave succinct and accurate answers to Wilson’s “bombshell,” while Wilson studiously avoided making any substantial response to Hitchens’s. Vox’s next major punch is to accuse Hitchens of “self-evisceration” for having said “what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” According to Vox, this gives Hitchens’s critics “carte blanche to legitimately dismiss the greater portion of Hitchens’s own book.” Nicely thrown, but does that one really land?

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Grim to the end

Let’s have one last look at the comment from Challenger Grim in which he attempts to defend C. S. Lewis’s argument that free will limits God to showing up only in “the faintest and most mitigated degree.”

Well first of all, what you mention, could still be the “faintest and most mitigated degree.” Think about it as… “capacity for rejection.” In ancient times, beliefs in gods were quite prevalent (maybe even justified, but that’s another discussion). Thus, even with God’s appearance, ancient people would still be able to reject Him for someone/something else (and the Bible is filled with the Israelites doing so). Imagine now that even a fraction of what happened then were to happen today. Would not the world become 100% religious overnight? You have to think in context. That in the past, more of God could be seen, than can be today.

There are two problems with this answer. First of all, by making this argument, Grim is inadvertently admitting that “knowing God exists” and “submitting to God” are two entirely separate things. Thus, the free will argument fails to show that God is in any way obligated to deny us the information we need in order to reliably verify His existence. Even if we knew He were real, we’d still be free to choose how we respond to Him.

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With friends like these…

State Representative Darryl Metcalfe, a staunch Republican and proud supporter of the Religious Right, has made a lot of people happy with his ongoing campaign to defend his part of the world from liberals, homosexuals, and immigrants. And at least one church wants to give him a Christian Soldier award for his meritorious service on behalf of their common cause. There’s just one problem: Metcalf doesn’t want it.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe issued a statement on Thursday publicly renouncing his nomination for the Christian Soldier award from the Christian Nation-Community of Christ Church.

The Butler County Republican also sent a letter to the group, telling its leaders to stop using his name to publicize a rally planned for August at the Adams Township Community Park.

The problem?

In his statement, Metcalfe said the organization sent him letters claiming it was affiliated with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

“As an Army veteran who had the privilege and honor of serving the United States alongside extremely dedicated men and women of all races, religions and national ancestries, I will not allow my office or my name to be compromised,” Metcalfe wrote in his letter to the Church.

He undoubtedly has served alongside gays and immigrants too, though this doesn’t stop him from promoting laws designed to discriminate against both groups. So it’s not that his goals are really so dissimilar from the Christian Nation’s. It’s just that those darn white supremacists are an embarrassment to the Christian supremacists. “Keep your mouth shut, guys, you’re gonna blow my cover.” And send those campaign contributions anonymously, please.

 
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Apologetics, toon-style

As I mentioned earlier in the week, JP Holding, of Tekton Apologetics Ministries, posted an attempted parody of my blog here. Apparently, he’s not too clear on what real parody looks like, and I did give some thought to making a parody site of my own, by way of illustration. I decided not to, however. In the first place, it’s too easy. (I mean, come on, I’m being mocked by a site that sounds and acts like “ticked-eunuchs.com”? Word.) But secondly, I think it would be both more useful and more enjoyable to confront his theological arguments directly.

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What we learn from the Cracker Inquisition

(Hat tip to Dustin for the term “cracker inquisition.”)

If you follow ScienceBlogs at all, you’ve probably heard about the vigilante Catholics out to get PZ Myers in retaliation for his threatened—not actual, mind you, but just threatenedabuse of a consecrated communion wafer. While I’m not going to comment on the wisdom and/or social graces pertaining to making remarks like that, I do think that the response of Bill Donohue and his cohorts is particularly revealing of a fundamental flaw in the Gospel.

You see, the reason they are so irate and so bent on vengeance is because, in their eyes, a consecrated communion wafer is not “just a frackin’ cracker,” as PZ puts it. When the priest prays over the wafers and blesses them, as far as Catholics are concerned, the “cracker” is the body of Jesus. Not just a symbol of the body of Christ, as so many latter-day Protestants would have it, but the actual flesh of Jesus’s body. It doesn’t matter that the wafer, after being blessed, retains the same crispy, crunchy wheatiness as the wafer before being blessed. Here in the most central and vital of Christian rites, we see clearly how Jesus taught his disciples to separate spiritual truth from physical reality. The “true” state of the body of Christ has nothing to do with its physical attributes. And that has major implications for the doctrine of the Resurrection.

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XFiles Friday: In search of a historical Jesus

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 9.)

Chapter 9 marks a turning point in the book. Up to now, Geisler and Turek have been basing their case on superstition, misrepresentations of science, and blithe obliviousness towards their own self-contradictions. Now, finally, at about halfway through the book, they are going to turn their attention to the evidence which, according to them, proves that it takes more faith to be an atheist. Actual evidence, they claim, of God actually existing and doing something in the real world. And this evidence—go figure—is about two thousand years old.

Just how many non-Christian sources are there that mention Jesus? Including Josephus, there are ten known non-Christian references who mention Jesus within 150 years of his life. By contrast, over the same 150 years, there are nine non-Christian sources who mention Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus. So discounting all the Christian sources, Jesus is actually mentioned by one more source than the Roman emperor.

Of course, just to keep things in perspective, this argument is like proving Mormonism by counting how many non-Mormons mentioned Joseph Smith prior to 1970. Or, for that matter, the angel Moroni.

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