Really Recommended Posts

Back-Alley Abortions, Apologetics, Male Hierarchy, and more! – Really Recommended Posts 10/18/13

snowl-owl-post-arpingstoneI have given you, dear reader, this edition of “Really Recommended Posts” which is simply bulging at the seams with great content. Herein, you shall discover the myth of the back alley abortion, an analysis of male rule, sociology and religion’s impact on society, Augustine and the creation/evolution debate, and more! Check ’em out. Let me know what you think!

Is Male Rule a Biblical Ideal?– Here, Mimi Haddad confronts some of the common arguments for male rule in the church and home. These arguments include the fact that Jesus was male, that the 12 disciples were male, etc.

Sociologist Rodney Stark discusses whether religion is good for society– A highly interesting post in which a sociologist takes on claims that religion could be bad for society. Looking into the actual statistics and facts of the matter makes an extraordinary difference to one’s perception.

Pro-Choice “Facts”: Illegal Abortion Deaths– One of the very common arguments for abortion is that we need to keep such things safe. After all, if women will get abortions anyway, we should try to keep them safe. This article examines the myth of the back-alley abortion and exposes it for what it is: a fraud.

The dangers of apologetics– My wife linked me to this article which I think makes some extremely valuable points regarding the nature and practice of apologetics. I particularly liked that the author did not throw apologetics out the window but rather offered pieces of advice for apologists and what to avoid as an apologist. What are your thoughts?

Augustine’s Origin of Species– Within the creation/evolution debate, many continue to allege that one cannot consistently be a Christian and hold to certain views of the age of the universe or the origin of species. Here, Alister McGrath analyzes these claims alongside the wonderful Christian theologian, Augustine.

Signs that the New Atheist Movement May be Collapsing– A post which examines the intellectual collapse of the New Atheism. I think the most fascinating point is the third, that New Atheists are suppressing intellectual dialogue.

John Loftus Exits in Infamy– Speaking of the New Atheists, David Marshall analyzes his own recent dialogue with John Loftus, a[n] [in]famous atheist. The way the dialogue proceeded is highly telling.

About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick is a Lutheran, feminist, Christ-follower. A Science Fiction snob, Bonhoeffer fan, Paleontology fanboy and RPG nerd.


10 thoughts on “Back-Alley Abortions, Apologetics, Male Hierarchy, and more! – Really Recommended Posts 10/18/13

  1. I find myself compelled by principle to respond to the article Signs that the New Atheist Movement May be Collapsing.

    This piece is a critique of Lawrence Krauss’ debating style compared to WL Craig. It has nothing whatsoever to offer us regarding the New Atheist ‘movement’.

    If, by ‘movement’ we mean to examine whether or not New Atheism is on the rise or fall, one needs to look at whether or not public criticism of religious privilege is on the rise or fall (assuming that we share the understanding that New Atheism is just that: a willingness to criticize religious privilege in public) and whether this criticism is having an effect. This article does not address this but complains about Krauss’ style and presentation while complimenting Craig’s and suggesting that refusing to debate Craig is an indication of some fault with New Atheism rather than what it is: an exercise that lacks any meaningful debate about how and why faith-based belief in religious claims causes pernicious effects when privileged in the public domain.

    Posted by tildeb | October 18, 2013, 9:04 AM
    • Thanks TILDEB for posting.

      assuming that we share the understanding that New Atheism is just that: a willingness to criticize religious privilege in public

      I am not sure that we do — or at least, I am unclear what is meant by “criticize religious privilege in public.” If by “criticize religious privilege in public” you mean “denouncing all religious faith as absurd, dangerous and evil,” then I agree. But that has nothing to do with privilege, or the criticism thereof.

      This article . . . [suggests] that refusing to debate Craig is an indication of some fault with New Atheism rather than what it is: an exercise that lacks any meaningful debate about how and why faith-based belief in religious claims causes pernicious effects when privileged in the public domain.

      I think you are saying a) religious faith cause harm if allowed at all, b) debating the question at an intellectual level lacks value. I agree that was the very point the article was making.

      And you might be right. But denouncing religious faith as evil on intellectual grounds (which Kraus, Dawkins and other do) while at the same time refusing to engage in debate on intellectual grounds does seem a bit inconsistent. If I were fully convinced of the intellectual absurdity of religious faith and convinced of its harmful effects, what would be better than to crush a prominent intellectual in public debate to further that cause? I guess I am not sure I buy the “I can’t be bothered by having a meaningful discussion with you” position.

      Posted by dpatrickcollins | October 19, 2013, 12:25 AM
      • fyi the first and third paragraph above are quotes from the comment above it. Still trying to figure out how to format them as quotes. 🙂

        Posted by dpatrickcollins | October 19, 2013, 12:26 AM
      • Yeah, this is a common misunderstanding (supported very often by the “I’m an atheist, but…” crowd); in order to explain why religious belief should not be privileged, we must reveal why religious belief is not a means to come to any justified conclusion about anything and demonstrably not avenue to increase our knowledge. The ‘debate’ then must explore the broken epistemology of faith-based belief to show how and why religious belief does not own morality, is not the source for human ethics, has no advancements to offer anyone anywhere about anything, is a guaranteed way to fool one’s self, and so on. For this to happen, we have to show the causal effect of faith-based belief in action; maintaining the rotten method that endows faith to be held in esteem to be a virtue (rather than the overwhelming evidence from reality that it is a vice in all other human endeavors), we have to show how anwhy it is foolish and causes effect in the world when we implement it. We then have to show how this effect is always pernicious.

        It’s a long line of reasoning, I’ll grant you, but the conclusion is well substantiated by reality’s arbitration of it.

        Many supporters of faith-based belief (usually indoctrinated children) are simply unaware of why faith is a rotten method that cause foolish and gullible behaviours that are pernicious. Go figure.

        That’s why people assume New Atheism is about anger (because there is a lot to be angry about) and militancy (What? Someone dares to criticize my religious belief? Inconceivable!) and stridency (imagine the effrontery of having to defend myself from believing that my version of Oogity Boogity should affect best practices in medicine/education/science/government/law/defense/social programs/tax exemptions/ foreign policy, etc.. The nerve!). But we have to go there to show why faith-based beliefs of any kind (including it’s largest promoter, religion) should not be privileged in the public domain.

        Of course, everyone is as free to believe whatever they want as they are free to swing their fists, but there must be a boundary between exercising these beliefs (like swinging the fists) that collide with the rights and freedoms of another (like their nose). When beliefs cause effect, then we’re left talking about why it’s vital to establish an order of priority for its proper private use to avoid polluting our social cohesion and welfare. Believers need to be shown why their faith-based beliefs must rank lower in consideration, for example, in common law, lower in consideration than what reality arbitrates to be true about it, lower in consideration than the the rights, freedoms, and dignity of other citizens, lower in consideration than professional standards, lower than good citizenship, lower than best practices, and so on. When religious belief promotes and sustains behaviours that exceeds these necessary and rational boundaries of ranked considerations, then who steps forward to challenge such faith-based belief in action? Religious believers? Agnostics? Religious apologists? Misguided accommodationists? Faitheists? “I’m an atheist, but…” crowd pleasers? I wish!

        So far, this burden seems to fall squarely onto the shoulders of New Atheists while everyone else busies themselves apologizing for religious excesses, accommodating religious excesses, tolerating religious excesses, voting for those willing to do so, and made more palatable by also condemning New Atheists along the way (usually with a variety of negative terms involving religious comparisons).

        If these were the topics open to debate with WL Craig, then we’d have a common ground worth exploring, worth revealing. But presenting the Kalam argument ad naseam as Craig does regardless of countless ignored corrections is not a way to engender honesty or intellectually stimulating debate; it’s a way to sell a product too eagerly gobbled up by the gullible.

        Posted by tildeb | October 19, 2013, 1:06 PM
      • Thanks, TILDEB. I hope you are not offended if I say your response reads like a New Atheist’s manifesto. I mean that not derogatorily but rather to say for the most part it seems to make several key assertions, both concerning religious faith and your own position, and assuming them to be true, goes on to say what must be done and what is or is not productive dialogue as a result. Of course if religious faith has nothing, as you say:

        to offer anyone anywhere about anything

        and further, is, as you assert:

        a guaranteed way to fool one’s self, and so on

        Then no one is going to disagree with you. But there are many, many people — including many highly educated people, holding PhD’s in both science and philosophy — who do (Dr. Craig being one of them). Further, the man who attends the church I previously attended, who tells the story of being miraculously delivered from lifelong drug addiction by the power of Jesus, would most certainly disagree with you.

        But assuming for a moment your assertions are true, and those around you that believe otherwise are seriously and regrettably deluded, I am very curious how you view that should impact public policy. You have decried the idea of “religious privilege” more than once (though, as far as I can tell, you simply mean people having religious beliefs). You further state:

        there must be a boundary between exercising religious beliefs . . . that collide with the rights and freedoms of another

        I am not sure what you think that boundary is. For example, I agree the exercising of beliefs should not violate the “rights and freedoms of another.” But that goes for anyone’s beliefs, including yours. I am curious whether you would agree. That is, do you agree with the basic principles of a democratic and pluralistic society upon which most modern societies are based, or do you believe that since your convictions are strong, that the beliefs of others — and their right to exercise and express those beliefs — should be suppressed?


        Posted by dpatrickcollins | October 19, 2013, 4:25 PM
      • A bunch of stuff here. First let’s be clear between faith as confidence in probability and faith as a belief that requires no evidence in its support. Obviously, I’m speaking of faith-based beliefs as the latter. This is also the religious sense upheld as a virtue. As a method of inquiry, faith-based belief has yet to produce a single bit of knowledge about reality in more than two millennia. How arrogant to claim it is a failed methodology on such flimsy evidence, eh? Yet it is upon this ‘rock’ that all kinds of religious privilege in the public domain is based.

        For example, in education we continue to have problems with the public understanding of evolution. More people in the US believe in demons than evolution. Let that fact settle in for a moment to begin to glimpse just how wide and deep is the delusion that religious belief is worthy of respect. We see religious tax exemptions in excess of 72 billion dollars of lost revenue a year. This is a real cost to all of us. We get to experience the loss of respect for best practices in medicine replaced by faith-based belief in who controls a woman’s body. Real cost. Real People. Real harm. We see legislation against equality law for real people organized, funded, and promoted by religious institutions. I’m not making this stuff up. Real people are unable to control their destinies about end of life issues because of religious interference in law, in public policies, in medicine. There are ongoing battles against various religious agendas to have the public fund sectarian education, be it at home or in the local parish. We see hospitals firing real doctors and real nurses for acting contrary to a bishop’s religious directives. Yet the closest non-religious hospital is a state away. Real cost to real people in real life. And this is the tip of the iceberg.

        Faith-based belief extends far beyond religion and into billion dollar industries like alternative medicine. It fuels anti-vaxers. It causes political paralysis dealing effectively with climate change. You and I are the real victims of this broken methodology that cherry picks which bits of science to respect and which bits to ignore in favour of honouring some cherished faith-based beliefs unrelated to reality and this causes real harm to real people in real life. Faith based belief does not allow reality to arbitrate claims made about it. If it did, then we’d be having a different discussion. But it doesn’t. That’s why it produces zero technologies, zero applications, zero therapies, and continues to interfere at every table where the grown ups are talking about real stuff. What does the preacher, the imam, the rabbi bring to these tables other than an inflated sense of value based on…. nothing. And so we end up with school boards populated by creationists, screwing the students of Louisiana out of gaining access to the better post-secondary science programs elsewhere in the nation… to allow the faith-based beliefs of the few to dictate which bits of scientific knowledge all of us should respect. The arrogance is as breath-taking as it is cruel and stupid and ignorant.

        Yes, many clever people believe in all kinds and manner of Oogity Boogity… especially if it comes wrapped in the piety of religion. What does this tell us? Well, people can compartmentalize because belief in creationism doesn’t add anything to one’s scientific CV. Francis Collins – if he allowed faith-based belief to play a role in his science – would be fired in a nanosecond. But, hey, he can compartmentalize. He simply doesn’t allow “Godidit’ to play any role in genetics because he knows it has nothing to do with answering anything. Yes, some priests are pedophiles but that doesn’t mean pedophilia is compatible with their religious belief. Yes, some scientists are religious but that doesn’t mean religion is compatible with their scientific jobs. Yes, Newton wrote four times as much about alchemy as physics and math. We have gained no knowledge from his studies in alchemy.

        I laid out what the boundary is: private. That’s it. Don’t indoctrinate your kids. Don’t use faith to arbitrate professional standards. Don’t allow religion to have a voice in any meaningful discussion that requires reality to be respected, that requires compelling evidence, good reasons, and rational discussion. If I want to learn something about cosmology, for what possible reason based evidence adduced from reality should I think a WL Craig has anything worthwhile to say and valuable to add? He’s not a working cosmologist! He’s a religious apologist, a promoter of a very specific religious doctrine. THIS is what he brings and it has zero to do with cosmology. Cosmology is simply the vehicle he is using to sell his product and I would have to be biased an d prejudiced in his favour to think otherwise. And this is exactly what we find in reality… which surprises no one except perhaps those who assume religion has no boundaries to its claims of authority!

        Posted by tildeb | October 19, 2013, 6:52 PM
      • TILDEB: You are certainly entitled to your opinion 🙂 Nor do I have much interest in changing it.

        However, for what it is worth, your position is not compelling to me personally, not because I am desperately clinging to an antiquated, inert belief in the face of undeniable evidence to the contrary, but rather I do not find your position (my opinion now) not very well thought out. I am speaking about its underlying assumptions.

        For example, I do not see anyone claiming that religious faith should be used as a method for science. But I believe this unearths the first assumption: That which advances scientific progress alone is valuable to humanity. I do not know if I would agree with that assumption.

        The second assumption I find lurking about, related to the first is: Truth can only be determined by the scientific method (and anything beyond that is rubbish). I acknowledge that as a legitimate position to take. It is called Scientism. At the same time, I do not know if I would agree with it, if for no other reason, because the claim itself cannot be verified by the scientific method.

        And lastly, more of a question. When you say:

        I laid out what the boundary [religious belief should not cross]: private. That’s it. Don’t indoctrinate your kids.

        By private, do you mean “keep it in your head”? I am trying to figure out how teaching what you believe to your kids is not a private matter. And also, are you saying people should not have the right to exercise their beliefs at the voting booth?


        Posted by dpatrickcollins | October 20, 2013, 12:37 PM
  2. JWW: Excellent blog. I found The dangers of apologetics a fascinating read, though I had difficulty with the framing of the issue. Apologetics is no more a danger than say evangelism: It too is fraught with dangers if done poorly. The key is that whatever we do, to do it well. Poor execution and error, then is the true danger, not apologetics.

    Probably enough said on that point but to emphasize: I come from a charismatic background and have regularly attended churches that believe in the gift of prophecy. Critics of the gifts often cite dangers of their abuse if done improperly. The solution is not suppressing the gift but education and training. I would like to see the same thing in the area of apologetics.

    Posted by dpatrickcollins | October 18, 2013, 3:41 PM
  3. Hey, JW. Thanks for the link. Just one small correction: “John Loftus EXITS in Infamy” not “EXISTS” in infamy. Not that I’d necessarily argue the latter point too vociferously.

    Posted by | October 28, 2013, 2:56 PM

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