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Showing posts from 2008

Palestinian Authority Legalizes Crucifixion

This piece from the Jerusalem post, if accurate, is disturbing.

Both Iran and its Hamas proxy in Gaza have been busy this Christmas week showing Christendom just what they think of it. But no one seems to have noticed.

On Tuesday, Hamas legislators marked the Christmas season by passing a Shari'a criminal code for the Palestinian Authority. Among other things, it legalizes crucifixion.

Hamas's endorsement of nailing enemies of Islam to crosses came at the same time it renewed its jihad. Here, too, Hamas wanted to make sure that Christians didn't feel neglected as its fighters launched missiles at Jewish day care centers and schools. So on Wednesday, Hamas lobbed a mortar shell at the Erez crossing point into Israel just as a group of Gazan Christians were standing on line waiting to travel to Bethlehem for Christmas.
As anyone knows who has studied the practice, crucifixion is a cruel and barbaric punishment where a person (in the ordinary case) dies slowly over several days…

Another Study Supports the Value of Religion

From time to time, studies pop up which support the ridiculous assertions by atheists such as Christopher Hitchens that somehow religion is responsible for all of the evils in the world. Many of the posts on this weblog have demonstrated that such a view point is unsupported and that many of the studies start with poor assumptions. (See, as an example of our review of one study, Societal ills, absolute morality and charity and Does religion cause societal ills?)

Now the Family Research Council has released a brand new study by Nicholas Zill, Ph.D. and Philip Fletcher, Ph.D.entitled Intact Family and Religious Participation Are Associated with Fewer Developmental Problems in School-Age Children.

The study begins:

New analyses of data from a large-scale federal survey of child health and development show that children and adolescents are less likely to exhibit problems in school or at home if they live with both their biological parents and attend religious services regularly. For examp…

Atheist are Idolotors

Atheists are not people who don't believe in any God or gods. They have a god, they worship science. When you question science they go insane like fundies who can't stand the little taunts atheists love to use: "there's no proof for your God." They are not capable of serious thinking, so they get really upset if you try to analyze science with any kind a critical eye. I decided to try a fun little experiment to see what would happen if one made the same kind of little taunts about science that they make about God. This is fair because Christian theology is 2000 year tradition involving many of the greatest thinkers in human history, it has a vast library of works written by the most brilliant people the world has ever seen; atheists wont read on page of it but still insist upon telling us how stupid and useless it is. So it's totally fair to throw this back in their faces.

What I have discovered is shocking. The react the same kind of taunts "no one beli…

Christian-Centered Christmas from the White House

Back in the 1980s, I first became involved in the issue of the Christian foundations in the United States from reading two books, The Separation of Church and State by Robert L. Cord and The Myth of Separation by David Barton (a book I believe is now out of print). While I haven't seen much further out of Robert Cord other than some Political Science textbooks, David Barton has gone on to expand on his original book in creating Wallbuilders, an organization dedicated to publicizing information demonstrating our nation's clear Christian roots.

In the spirit of the Christmas season, David Barton and Wallbuilders have just published a very interesting article entitled Christmas with the Presidents in which he reviews the way in which Presidents of the United States have recognized the holidays -- including a surprising number of items that demonstrate the faith and devotion of various Presidents to Christ.

Naturally, the details of the celebrations of the first few presidents are…

Are Terminators Children of God?

I was not a big fan of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles during its first season. But the second season has been great and I look forward to its resumption in 2009. One of the story lines has been the development of an artificial intelligence (AI) by a company headed up by a terminator from the future. On the face of it, it appears that the company is trying to develop the AI to become SkyNet, the AI that wipes out most of humanity once it gains control of nuclear weapons. But there are some odd things going on in that the company has brought in former FBI agent James Ellison (obviously unaware of the executive's terminator identity) to teach the AI ethics and morality. Ellison is a devout Christian who is an interesting -- likely intentional -- contrast to the amoral Terminators and Sarah Connor, who is strongly tempted to do whatever it takes to protect her son.

Previously, Dr. Sherman -- a child psychologist -- had been working with the AI to help it develop intellec…

The financial crisis in Christian perspective

In a previous post Jason Pratt referred us to an article in the NY Times about increased attendance in evangelical churches as a result of the economic meltdown. I think it is fairly clear that our present predicament will prompt a rethinking in many people of what we owe to one another and the kind of economic practice that may lead to a more just, humane society. Of course, we will probably also see material want bringing out the worst in people, as they summarily absolve themselves of guilt for hoarding supplies or even stealing. As Dickens would say, it will be the best of times and the worst of times. What no one can doubt is that the next few years will definitely not be 'business as usual'.

How should Christians respond? I have no economic expertise and no specific suggestions with regard to job hunting, investments or policy. But I can point you to some resources which may help us keep our troubles in perspective and rethink economics from a Christian point of view. You…

No Atheists in Financial Meltdowns

The NY Times has an interesting article, Bad Times Draw Bigger Crowds to Churches. The gist of the article is that Evangelical churches are seeing increased attendance due to the emotional and spiritual effects of insecure financial times.

Since September, pastors nationwide say they have seen such a burst of new interest that they find themselves contending with powerful conflicting emotions — deep empathy and quiet excitement — as they re-encounter an old piece of religious lore:

Bad times are good for evangelical churches.
Catholic and mainline Protestant denominations have also seen some stirrings, but in lesser numbers.

A recent spot check of some large Roman Catholic parishes and mainline Protestant churches around the nation indicated attendance increases there, too. But they were nowhere near as striking as those reported by congregations describing themselves as evangelical....
Various explanations are offered, including this one I particularly liked: "'We have the gr…

Chimera Rights?

One of the thornier issues that arise from our increasing technical knowledge involve the rights of embryos. Today, a friend pointed out an article that shocked me -- Great Britain is planning on allowing its scientists to create human based chimeras.

According to an article in the Telegraph entitled Chimera embryos have right to life, say bishops, by Jonathan Price, draft legislation in the U.K. would allow scientists to create "human-animal hybrid embryos" - "so-called 'chimeras'" in their laboratories for research "as long as they destroy them within two weeks."

Now, I personally don't believe that such chimeras should be created at all. I don't care if it they are created for scientific research because they call for the creation of a new type of human being -- one that is mixed with a non-human. Regardless of my religious beliefs, the idea of intentionally creating such chimeras simply strikes me as mad-scientist-type behavior.

Moreov…

Follow Up: UN Petition for the Unborn Child and the Family

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entitled U.N. Petition for the Rights of the Unborn about a petition that the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute ("CFHRI") created calling for government to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as protecting the unborn child from abortion. The Petition was responsive to one being presented by pro-abortion groups. The CFHRI has just released a press report in which they announce that they have received 300,000 signatures in support of the alternate petition.

Here is the entire press release from the CFHRI:

December 9, 2008

MEDIA ADVISORY/
PRESS CONFERENCE

300,000 NAMES SUBMITTED TO UN IN FAVOR OF RIGHT TO LIFE

Where: Press briefing room, UN headquarters, New York

Contact: Austin Ruse, President 202 -393-7002 (office), 202-531-3770 (cell)

UN Headquarters, New York – Tomorrow, December 10th, a coalition of social conservative groups from around the world will present a petition of 330,000 names calling for Member States of the Uni…

Favorite/Least Favorite Christmas Songs

Just for the fun of it, I would be interested in hearing suggestions for both your favorite and least favorite Christmas songs with brief explanations as to why you like or don't like them. Choose as many as you like, but I think no more than three in each category should suffice. Sometimes, the only good version of a song is by a particular musical group or singer, so please point that out when it happens.

Since I am suggesting this, let me give my choices:

Favorites (in no particular order):

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" -- What's not to like about this song? In a minor key with a haunting melody, I love singing it throughout the Christmas season. (Yes, I know it's really an Advent song, but Advent and Christmas are one season to me.) It has meaningful lyrics and has the right message for the season.

"Do You Hear What I Hear" by Third Day -- While this song is obviously not Biblical, I like the idea of all of creation praising the baby Jesus. Third Day'…

Time Magazine article on Christians in Germany during World War II

Not you, Herr Hitler, but God is my Führer. These defiant words of Pastor Martin Niemoller were echoed by millions of Germans. And Hitler raged: "It is Niemoller or I."

So this second Christmas of Hitler's war finds Niemoller and upwards of 200,000 other Christians (some estimates run as high as 800,000) behind the barbed wire of the frozen Nazi concentration camps. Here men bear mute witness that the Christ—whose birth the outside world celebrates unthinkingly at Christmas—can still inspire a living faith for which men and women even now endure im prisonment, torture and death as bravely as in centuries past.

More than 80% of the prisoners in the concentration camps are not Jews but Christians, and the best tribute to the spirit of Germany's Christians comes from a Jew and agnostic (TIME, Sept. 23) — the world's most famous scientist, Albert Einstein. Says he:

"Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defe…

Sharing Churches with Muslims; Ignoring God's Holiness

An article recently published in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Sentinel Journal caught my eye about a week ago. The article, entitled Christians and Muslims, both under one roof : Faith Presbyterian in Franklin doubles as Islamic prayer center, details how one Presbyterian church has allowed its Islamic neighbors to come pray to Allah in the church twice a day (for a nominal fee).

According to the article,

Each Sunday, children gather in the fellowship hall at Faith Presbyterian Church to ponder the lessons of Christianity, among them, "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Now the church is setting a real-life example for the kids, by opening its Sunday school space to its Muslim neighbors for two of their five daily prayers.

Faith Presbyterian becomes the third satellite prayer center for area Muslims who wish to pray communally but may not be able to get across town to one of the four area mosques. The other prayer sites are at Waukesha Memorial Hospital and the Muslim Student Center …

The Sign of Insanity

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
~ John Dryden, Spanish Friar (act II, st. 1)


On several occasions, I have blogged about Sr. Luigi Cascioli, an Italian atheist who has filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church and one of its priests in the Italian Courts. In my second blog on the Sr. Cascioli almost three years ago, I investigated his claims in the lawsuit. The basis for his suit is the claim that the Roman Catholic Church, and his own local church priest, engaged in an "abuse of popular credulity and the substitution of person" by teaching that the Bible was true. The basis for Sr. Cascioli's assertion? According to his original complaint:

After long and deep studies consisting of (and not only) textual exegesis of the Old and New Testament and other Sacred Scriptures, the undersigned has come to the conclusion that many of the facts produced and presented as if being true and historical in the so called "Hol…

From True Love To Christian Theism

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I'm sorry I haven't been able to contribute more directly to even commentary (much moreso main posts!) here on the Cadre Journal recently.

So, to help alleviate that a little--! {g}


I occasionally quip, in dialogue with sceptics of various sorts, that I believe in orthodox trinitarian theism... because I believe in atheists!

And that's true. But although it can leave the impression that I'm talking about atheists sniping at each other or contradicting one another, that isn't in fact what I'm talking about. I do notice such things, but such things don't factor in much to my beliefs.

So, let me present an example of what I am actually talking about, that in one way is broader topically than saying "because I believe in atheists", and in another is more personally particular.


Let us say (which happens to be true) that I love a particular agnostic more than anyone else in the world.

Would any of our visiting sceptics car…

Saying Grace (2008)

This is a repost (and slight updating) of an article (sermon, homily, whatever {g}) that I wrote last Thanksgiving for the Cadre.

The original article and its subsequent discussion (on a couple of topics) can be found here.


•••••••

“Would you say grace?” someone in my family will ask, to an elder before a family meal--a meal such as Thanksgiving, for instance.

Of course what they mean is, “Would you give thanks?” But the phrase in English could be more accurately translated, “Would you say ‘grace’?” In our language, ‘grace’ derives from the same Latin root as Spanish ‘gracias’ or Italian ‘grazie’. Strictly speaking our English word traces back to a Middle English translation of an Old French translation of the Latin {gra_tia} (the long ‘a’ being represented by an underscore here): favor, gratitude, agreeableness. The attitude expressed is one of actively receiving love, in fair-togetherness.

In New Testament Greek, however, the word that is typically Englished as ‘grace’ does not have this…

Off the hook? When you really ARE responsible for your sins

Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Lee Randolph argue that as a result of recent advances in behavioral and neural science it is hard to preserve any meaningful concept of moral blame or praiseworthiness. If our behavioral tendencies are largely determined by genetics, upbringing and peer influence, can we say that we are ever truly responsible for our actions? As Randolph puts it: "Since the brain is a biological device. It can be influenced by physiological factors, and physiological factors induce desire and motivation. Since we cannot get outside of our thoughts and feelings, they make up our personality our 'essence'. This renders any judgment by an external supernatural creator meaningless because it would know that we are helpless to feel any other way than our physiological make up will support at the time, and that our behavior and desire will follow that. We are helpless to think any thoughts that are not supported by our physiological make up at the time. The ph…

Ben Witherington on Hebrews

Ben Witherington III, Ph.D., Amos Professor of NT for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and author of multiple books, including What Have They Done with Jesus?: Beyond Strange Theories and Bad History--Why We Can Trust the Bible, has published on his blog a very interesting article entitled The Rhetorical Character of Hebrews. This entry is apparently the text of a lecture he is (or was) scheduled to give at the Society of Biblical Literature lecture.

At the outset, he takes up the question about the authorship of Hebrews. Of course, there have been numerous theories as to who wrote the book (including some that identify the author as the Apostle Paul), but rather than focus on the "who", he focuses on "why" there is no author identified.

It is of course possible that the author is so well known to the audience that there was no need for such an identification here. I would suggest however, that while that may be true, there is another primary reason …

James Ossuary Prosecution Faces “Humiliating Collapse”

There have been significant developments in the fraud trial of Oded Golan. One of the key artifacts challenged by the prosecution is the James Ossuary (or, more specifically, the inscription which refers to Jesus' brother, James). The case has dragged on for years, as American concepts like the “Speedy Trial Act” seem to be unknown in Israel.

The San Francisco Gate has an article about the collapse of the prosecution’s case. The judge in the case has told the prosecution that its prospects of a guilty verdict are bleak:

"After all the evidence we have heard, including the testimony of the prime defendant, is the picture still the same as the one you had when he was charged?" District Court Judge Aharon Farkash pointedly asked public prosecutor, Adi Damti. "Not every case ends in the way you think it will when it starts. Maybe we can save ourselves the rest."

"Have you really proved beyond a reasonable doubt that these artifacts are fakes as charged in th…

U.N. Petition for the Rights of the Unborn

On December 10th, pro-abortion groups will present petitions asking the United Nation's General Assembly to make abortion a universally recognized human right. The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute created an alternate petition drive that calls for government to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as protecting the unborn child from abortion. They need at least 100,000 signatures by December 10th, the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Please go to the Online Petition and submit your signature.

If you know anyone that would be interested in doing the same you are welcome to forward this on to whomever.

"A nation that aborts its own children is a nation without hope." ~
Pope John Paul II

Be Good For Goodness' Sake

Barry Carey at withallyourmind.net has found a singularly interesting article heading into the holidays which he has posted in an post entitled For Goodness' Sake. Here's what Barry found:

I read with a slight chuckle this recent news story about the bus ads planned for the Christmas season by the American Humanist Association. Starting next week and running through December will be ads placed on the sides of buses which state, “Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness’ sake.” Of course, the reference is to the lyrics of the children’s holiday song, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

It seems the athiests and agnostics are feeling a little left out and lonely during the Christmas holidays. According to a spokesman for the humanist group:
We are trying to reach our audience, and sometimes in order to reach an audience, everybody has to hear you…

Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of nontheists who fe…

President-Elect Obama: No Friend to the Unborn

Immediately prior to the election, I wrote an article entitled Abortion: In this Election, One Candidate is Not Viable that discussed President-Elect Obama's horrible record on right-to-life related issues. In writing the post, I used an article by Robert George entitled Obama's Abortion Extremism as a source. While I did not mention it in my blog, the article did discuss President-Elect Obama's extreme views on stem cell research. It noted:

For several years, Americans have been debating the use for biomedical research of embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (originally for reproductive purposes) but now left in a frozen condition in cryopreservation units. President Bush has restricted the use of federal funds for stem-cell research of the type that makes use of these embryos and destroys them in the process. I support the President's restriction, but some legislators with excellent pro-life records, including John McCain, argue that the use of federal money sh…

Suing God: What a Stupid Idea

OMAHA, Neb. — State Sen. Ernie Chambers filed notice today that he intends to appeal a judge’s dismissal of his lawsuit against God.

Chambers’ lawsuit asks for a permanent injunction against God, alleging that the defendant has caused “fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like.”

An atheist, Chambers has said he filed the lawsuit last year to uphold citizens’ rights to sue “anyone else, even God,” after his colleagues in the Legislature sought to limit so-called frivolous lawsuits.

Douglas County District Judge Marlon Polk had dismissed the lawsuit in October, saying there was no evidence that the defendant had been served. What’s more, Polk said, “There can never be service effectuated on the named defendant.”

But in his notice of appeal, Chambers says the same court he is appealing to acknowledges God. Chambers cites the invocation read ea…