Prison Fellowship blows cover

World Net Daily is reporting a big victory for Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship ministry in the 8th Circuit Court.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a voluntary faith-based prison program that has proven effective in reducing recidivism by half can move forward at an Iowa prison…

The ruling, by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Judges Roger Wollman and Duane Benton sitting as a panel for the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, reversed major parts of a district judge’s earlier ruling.

Meanwhile, at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed Brayton has what Paul Harvey calls “the rest of the story,” including a revelation that substantiates my earlier remarks about prison ministries: if they work, it’s because of the people, not because of God.

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Can we know God does not exist?

Science Avenger has a great post responding to an apparently Christian commenter, on the topic of why Christianity should or should not be given special considerations relative to the evidence. I’m going to add it to the Recommended Reading list, but I also want to take the time to address one of the commenter’s claims, as it reflects a common misconception. The commenter said:

“Would you accept this ‘statement of scientific truth’? If God does not exist, it is impossible to scientifically prove this lack of existence.”

On the contrary, we can know, beyond a reasonable doubt, that God, as described by Christianity, does not exist.

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Embracing Hitler

Greg Laden’s blog has a report on John West’s UofM talk.

All the biologists got together and, inspired by Darwinian writings, embarked on a campaign to sterilize those they perceived as unfit, the campaign known to us as Eugenics. From Eugenics grew other evils, such as Planned Parenthood, Modern Evolutionary Biology, and The Nazis.Or so intoned John West of the Creationist Discovery Institute…

It’s an entertaining and informative read (especially about the Hat Lady), and I’m putting it on the Recommended Reading list. What strikes me most about West’s talk is the way West (and DI in general, and creationists in general) demonstrate such a strong preference for Hitler’s views as opposed to the views of the vast majority of evolutionists and humanitarians.

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Lebanon’s past, America’s future?

What the heck is going on in Lebanon? The BBC News web site has a brief but interesting summary entitled “The Lebanese crisis explained.”

Tiny Lebanon baffles outsiders. Even people in the Middle East find its politics confusing.

If Lebanon is so tiny, though, then why should America care? Well, apart from the humanitarian reasons, little Lebanon is farther along a road that many people would like to take the United States.

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A surprising commentary

I just read the most amazing commentary on, of all places, WorldNetDaily: The death of the religious right.

No matter who becomes the next president of the United States, the American people have already won a great victory – with the total disintegration of the once all-powerful religious right.

The author, Bill Press, goes on to document how the inevitable disintegration of religion-based politics is finally starting to turn the Christian voting bloc against itself, with results that are bad for the Republicans but good for America. Did WND really mean to print that? As peculiar as it seems to put WND on the Recommended Reading list, I have to say it’s an excellent read.

 
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Not exactly current, but still good

At the suggestion of ausyoyo, I went looking for articles by Sam Harris on witchcraft, and I found a good one. Imagine we lived in the early 16th century, when witches (instead of atheists) were the popular scapegoats for everything that went wrong in life. What if you were in the tiny minority of people who didn’t believe in witchcraft?

If your name is Sam Harris, you may produce two fatuous volumes entitled The End of Magic and Letter to a Wiccan Nation. Daniel Dennett would then grapple helplessly with the origins of sorcery in his aptly named, Breaking the Spell. Richard Dawkins — whose bias against witches, warlocks, and even alchemists has long been known — will follow these books with an arrogant screed entitled, The Witch Delusion. And finally Christopher Hitchens will deliver a poisonous eructation at book-length in The Devil is Not Great.

What sort of criticism would these misguided authors likely encounter?

He then proceeds to take critical reviews of recent anti-Christian books, and substitutes witchcraft for Christianity, Devil for God, and skeptic for atheist, to see if it changes the logic or relevance of the arguments in any way. Guess what?

A great article, and highly recommended reading.

 
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Mainstreaming atheism

PZ Myers already highlighted this, but there’s a good article up at Bloggasm on How The God Delusion mainstreamed atheism. I don’t have time to say much about it at the moment, but let me just put it on the Recommended Reading list. It’s good.

 
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Some good stuff at last

I am delighted to see Anthony Horvath posting some genuinely worthwhile material over at the Christian Apologetics blog. Since I’ve been critical of some of his posts in the past, it’s only fair that I draw everyone’s attention to his triumphs as well.

I wanted to gather in one spot a handful of interviews with Pullman. I have to imagine that there is a list somewhere with them, but I could not find them. They all make for interesting reading and I have drawn some excerpts from them.

The rest of the post consists of Pullman interviews and they are indeed interesting reading, especially his reactions to Narnia (which I used to love when I was I Christian–I’d read through one book in one sitting and then sigh and think, “Now why can’t the real Jesus be more like Aslan?”). Anyway, highly recommended reading, so be sure and stop by.

 
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Civilianity

In a post on the Positive Liberty blog, Jonathan Rowe points out that America’s Civil Religion is Not Christianity.

Jim Babka sent me a great article from an orthodox Christian source that well understands America’s Civil Religion is not Biblical Christianity. Writing about the tension between America’s civil religion and orthodox Christianity is one of my specialities. In my last post I noted President Bush’s notion that all religions worship the same God “may not be an authentically Christian belief, but it is an authentically American belief.” This article explains the tension in detail…

What a great insight! People who advocate “One Nation Under God” and other such establishments need to be made aware of the fact that what they’re establishing is not Christianity but Civilianity: a pseudo-Christian cult that has the form of godliness but denies its power. For example, when President Bush teaches that all gods are the same God, that’s Civilianity, not Christianity. When Justice O’Connor writes that “under God” in the pledge is merely a historical relic of purely ceremonial deism, that’s Civilianity, not Christianity.

Civilianity as a competing religion seeking to displace Christianity as our national religion. That’s an insight that just might help some of our fundamentalist friends understand why it’s in their own best interests to build up the wall of separation instead of trying to tear it down.

 
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Mere Gullibility

I agree with VJack over at Atheist Revolution. And yet, in the interests of evangelical realism, I’m going to disagree with him. Slightly.

To insist that faith is required for one to reject claims about my neighbor’s gnome, unicorns, fairies, Santa Claus, Odin, angels, or gods misses the mark completely. The individual who refuses to accept such claims need not offer any sort of claim of his or her own. All he or she is doing is pointing out that the evidentiary burden has not been met.

It’s a good post, and I recommend that you drop by and have a look at the whole thing. He’s arguing that “an atheist’s faith” is like the variety of apple you have when you don’t have an apple (as one commenter at another good blog phrased it). But my recent discussion with the Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society leads me to believe that there’s a better answer.

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