Brr! It’s cold in Iowa… but not as cold as it was in Minnesota! I still walk around without a coat on in 30 degrees (F) due to my time spent in the frozen north. Anyway, the cold has given me time to read, and I present this latest round of really recommended posts to you, dear readers. There are posts about stay-at-home dads and egalitarianism, Batman and Christianity, Answers in Genesis’s position on “kinds,” the flying spaghetti monster and Santa, and censoring pro-life voices! Wow, I’m excited. Let me know what you think, and be sure to let the authors know you enjoyed their stuff, too!
Egalitarianism is for Men, Too– As a stay-at-home dad currently, I wrote this post for Christians for Biblical Equality to show some of the challenges faced in my life as well as how an egalitarian theology can benefit men. This one is from the heart, folks.
Review and Christian Reflections of My Favorite Works on Batman– Here’s a literary apologetics post on different Batman graphic novels. I decided to pick up one of these to start my own reading of Batman, since I’ve always enjoyed Batman. It is important to apply the Christian worldview to every aspect of our lives–including the fiction we read–and this is a good post showing how to do that.
Are Ruminants Derived from a Common Ancestor? Ruminating on the Meaning of Noahic “Kinds”– The Young Earth Creationist group, Answers in Genesis, is known for squeezing animals onto the Ark by reducing the number of species required, appealing to the notion of “kinds” in order to allow for common ancestors. Here is an analysis of just how difficult this assertion is to maintain.
God, Santa, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster– Often, atheists claim that God is on the same level, evidentially, as things like Santa Claus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Here is an analysis of that claim.
Six Ways I’ve seen Pro-Choice People Censor Pro-Lifers– Here are six common ways that pro-choice people have interfered with people who are trying to choose to listen to pro-lifers on college campuses and elsewhere.
Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of my all-time favorite shows. I have been watching through the series with my wife from the beginning and recently watched “The Mastepiece Society” from Season 5. The episode is a fascinating look into the moral issues of a society that wishes to control breeding. Here, we will examine some of these questions. For a plot summary, see here. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.
The “Masterpiece” society is one in which they have actively worked to use genetic enhancement and therapy [see my post on genetic enhancement and therapy to get some background into this debate; see a differing opinion here] to try to create a perfect society. Diseases are genetically selected against; other alleged defects are also screened before birth (euphemistically referencing the termination of pregnancy); and other methods are hinted at.
One of the most poignant scenes is when Geordi La Forge, the Chief Engineer, is sitting down with Hannah Bates and they talk about his blindness. He challenges her on the notion that he would have been terminated before birth:
“It was the wish of our founders that no one have to suffer a life of disabilities.” – Bates
“Who gave them the right to decide whether or not I might have something to contribute?” – La Forge
After this brief discussion, it turns out in an ironic twist that Geordi’s visor that helps him see actually is the solution to saving the colony. This emphasizes his point: he does have much to contribute.
One can’t help but wonder about the echo that those unborn who are killed each and every day through abortion would raise. What contributions have we stolen from our society through the desire for convenience or other reasons for abortions?
Suppose we were able to create a society in which we could select genetically the features we deemed best-suited for specific roles. What would this due to free will and the right to choose one’s own destiny? Jean-Luc Picard, the captain of the Enterprise, asks this very question.
It sounds like something wonderful: we can have sure and certain knowledge of what we’re going to do. There is no uncertainty; no worrying about a job. The society has been built around having you in the exact place you are to occupy based on your genetics.
Is there, in any sense, a right for children to not have their genetic qualities selected for them? I’ve discussed this very issue elsewhere, but I think this episode raises it fairly poignantly. Suppose someone was bred to be a leader in the society, but they felt they would rather be a construction worker? The society, it seems, would suffer in the sense that they now lack a leader; but perhaps someone else who would want to be a leader could step up to the task. Of course, as in the episode, one fears a kind of cascade effect in which people who would be perfect, allegedly, for the tasks they are destined to be assigned instead opt for tasks they can only “imperfectly” perform.
This, then, leads to questions of what it means to be “perfect” for a task. Are we merely genetically determined creatures, or does our freedom to choose transcend the genetic history we have been dealt? What benefits or costs might there be to a society in which you are trained from birth to occupy a specific role?
Star Trek frequently raises ethical issues, and “The Masterpiece Society” was particularly thoughtful. I’d recommend watching it and then reflecting on the worldview-level issues it raises. How much are we currently missing out on because of the system we have in place? What might we do ethically to improve our society without restricting the freedom of the individual? Is this latter question even important?
From a Christian perspective, it seems clear that it is impermissible to terminate humans simply because they are blind or have some genetic impairment. Here, it seems, the Christian perspective can also demonstrate its practical utility, for as Geordi demonstrated, we may miss out on quite a bit if we decide to allow such things to occur.
Regarding genetic enhancement, however, the issue is much more difficult. My perspective has shifted a bit, but I am still fairly wary of the notion. I admit this might purely be some kind of bias on my part that doesn’t have as much a rational foundation as I’d like to think. The post I shared earlier from a friend has some pretty strong arguments in the direction of genetic enhancement even from a Christian perspective. I recommend reading his post, and checking out my older post (about 2 years old) that I edited as I wrote this one.
Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!
Genetics and Bioethics: Enhancement or Therapy?– I go over a number of key ethical issues related to genetic enhancement and therapy.
“The Measure of a Man”- Star Trek: The Next Generation and Personhood– I discuss matters of “personhood,” using the character Data from Star Trek as a foil.
Why You Should Genetically Engineer Your Children– An argument that differs from my perspective on genetic enhancement. What are your thoughts on this post in favor of it?
The photo in this episode was a screenshot capture of the episode. I claim no rights to it and use it under fair use.
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Aborting Aristotle by Dave Sterrett explores some of the metaphysical background needed to discuss the morality of abortion. It is a brief book best seen as a primer on issues related to abortion in philosophy.
The book proceeds in a logical fashion from showing that inconsistency doesn’t undermine the good things that people like Aristotle or Thomas Jefferson said, then arguing that metaphysics is necessary, and moving on through examination of some of the primary grounds for believing abortion is permissible: uncertainty and materialism. Then, arguments are put forward showing that natural law can be a basis for rule of law, that distinctions related to substance are important to the debate, that all humans are persons, and that we are persons not based on what we do but rather on who we are. The book ends wit ha chapter showing some ares of agreement or disagreement between pro-life and pro-choice advocates.
Weighing in at 120 pages, the book is quite brief on these various topics. Again, it functions as a primer, not an exhaustive overview of any of these issues. That limits its usefulness in some ways, as there are other books which provide groundwork on philosophy before diving into the abortion debate with greater depth. Where Sterrett’s work excels is in its focus on the concept of “substance” and its importance for understanding personhood. He demonstrates that much of the debate boils down to one’s philosophical background, and advocates one which sees humans as substances.
Aborting Aristotle is a great read for someone looking to ground themselves in the abortion debate. It is the kind of book that one should read before delving into some of the meatier works on ethics and bioethics related to abortion.
+Provides much-needed background knowledge of the abortion debate
+Builds a framework for discussing various arguments about abortion
-Relies a bit too much on quotes
Hello, dear readers! I have another round of posts that I hope you will enjoy perusing. The topics this week include apologetics, an objection to the pro-life position, patriarchy and biblical sex, and some tiny organisms that pose some big problems. Let me know what you think, and be sure to tell the authors you enjoyed their posts as well!
Apologetics Started in the Bible– Some Christians object to the use or import of Christian apologetics. However, apologetics got its start in and from the Bible. Here’s a post showing how.
Biblical Sex: Patriarchy’s Great Enemy– This post highlights the fact that in the Bible, male-female sexual relations really go against the paradigm of complementarian theology.
Book Review: “The Grand Weaver”– Ravi Zacharias is an excellent Christian apologist. Here’s an in-depth look at one of his books from Luke Nix. I recommend reading this one because it will give you some insights into Zacharias’ approach to apologetics. The book itself is also excellent.
Diatoms: Tiny Organisms Highlight Big Inconsistencies in Young Earth Flood Geology Models– Diatoms are tiny organisms that put up some big difficulties for young earth creationist models. Check out this post to read about some of these difficulties.
Response to objection that pro-lifers are “nowhere to be found once our children are born”– It is commonly objected that the pro-life position only cares about children in the womb. Once they’re born–who cares? I think that it is important for the pro-life position to be holistic and look at the totality of life rather than simply looking at unborn life as worth protecting. Here is a post that directly confronts this common objection.
One argument that is often used to defend certain acts which are argued to be immoral is the notion that these acts are “legal.” For example, one might say they are personally opposed to abortion, but it is legal and so they do not seek to end abortions. A more specific example has been the defense of Planned Parenthood in regards to donating fetal tissue. It is argued that the donation is legal, and so no wrongdoing has occurred. Evidence from the recent videos released seems to suggest that those fetal tissues might be sold, rather than donated, but that is not the issue at hand. The question to address here is: “Does the legality of an act make it moral?”
Thus, in the case of Planned Parenthood’s donations/sales, if legal, does it follow that it is moral?
To be blunt, the legality of an act is not enough to make it moral. One clear example of this would be antebellum slavery, which was legal for quite some time in the United States. Would those who want to assert that legality is enough to make an act morally permissible agree that slavery, at that time, was moral? If so, that is a tough pill to swallow. But we can go beyond that example and see how Nazi Germany was treated. After World War II, several of the perpetrators of the Holocaust and other atrocities committed by the Nazis were put on trial. The first of these became known as the Nuremberg Trials. The argument they made, however, was that they were obeying the law of their land. The argument was thus made that there was no law to which they could be held accountable.
The argument was rejected, and the legacy of these trials led to the creation of various international law organizations and more specific definitions of war crimes and crimes against humanity. But the question that must be pressed is whether these trials were just. The laws that they were condemned by were largely created after or during the trials themselves. What were the Nazis guilty of? The answer has already been provided, in part, as crimes against humanity. By willingly participating in and carrying out genocide and other atrocities, despite having orders to do so and acting within the laws of their land, the Nazis had still violated a higher law, which held them to a moral standard. There remains much debate over the legal basis for the convictions and executions of those who carried out the atrocities, but it seems that if one ultimately wants to argue that the law is all it requires to make something moral, they must side with the Nazis and agree that they should not have been held accountable for their acts.
We can therefore see that the mere appeal to a law to argue something is moral is not enough. Anyone who disagrees must assert that slavery, as it was being conducted in the United States, was at least morally ambiguous if not a moral good, because it was legal. Similarly, they must assert that the genocide the Nazis carried out was itself at least morally ambiguous if not a moral good, because it was legal and they did it under orders. The absurdity of these two conclusions should lead any reasonable person to agree that the legality of an act is not enough to establish its morality.
Thus, the simple legality of an act does not make it moral. An appeal to an acts legality does not mean it should be dismissed from moral scrutiny. Planned Parenthood should justly remain under intense scrutiny.
I am pleased to present this wide range of topics to you, dear readers! I hope you enjoy the reads as much as I did. We have posts on the origins of the Gospels from an atheistic perspective, domestic abuse, the ontological argument, soft tissue in dinosaurs, and Bill Nye on abortion. Let me know what you think, and be sure to thank the authors as well!
Where the Gospels Came From– This is a satirical post that highlights how broad swaths of internet atheism tend to view the origin of the Gospels. It’s well worth reading as it highlights some of the major errors.
When Staying in an Abusive Relationship is Part of Your Theology– It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this post from Christians for Biblical Equality highlights one major difficulty with some theologies- they argue that one should stay in an abusive relationship from theological reasons.
The Probability of God’s Existence is Either 0% or 100% (video)– Kenneth Keathley offers this analysis and presentation of Alvin Plantinga’s ontological argument. He defines terms and answers some major objections, with the objections offered by atheists themselves.
“Soft Tissue” Found in Dinosaur Bones– Creationists sometimes claim that the finds of “soft tissue” undermine the possibility for an old earth perspective. Is that the case? Here is some analysis of this claim and some more recent findings regarding allegations of blood and other soft tissue found in ancient fossils.
Responding to Bill Nye’s Abortion Video– Bill Nye “The Science Guy” made a lot of claims about science and abortion in a video recently. Here’s a thorough analysis and refutation of his claims.
Another week, another batch of great reads for you, dear readers. As I write this, I’m running a fever so I’m not going to offer much commentary. Just read the stuff. It’s worth your time.
How to Defend an Anti-Trinitarian Theology– This post presents a challenge for those who would attempt to defend an Anti-Trinitarian theology from the Bible. It outlines the difficulties that face those who would take such a position. Well worth the read, trust me!
Biological Determinism and the “Oughtness” of Manhood– “If the eligibility criteria for church leadership includes possessing a Y chromosome, then we have already bought into the notion that our genes determine who we can and cannot be in the body of Christ.” If we are biologically determined, what follows from that?
The Danger of Teaching Kids to Be True to Themselves– If we teach kids to simply be true to themselves, what follows from it? Here are some potential pitfalls from the popular “be true to yourself” philosophy. Do you think that they are overstated, or not?
Bones of Contention: Ape, Human, or Fraud? Young Earth Creationists Respond to the Dinaledi Chamber Fossil Discovery– A survey of some of the popular Young Earth responses to the recent find of a possible homo fossil.
Humans and Persons– Here’s a post that challenges the hard division between humans and persons that some are trying to press for for the sake of certain moral commitments.
I have to say I’m very excited about this Really Recommended Posts round-up. The diversity of the set speaks for itself. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the varied posts. The topics we have this week are sexism, Shark attacks (but there’s more to it!), biblical inerrancy, the Gospel of Jesus’ wife, and the Planned Parenthood videos. Let me know your thoughts, and be sure to let the authors know as well!
10 Ways Men Can Fight Sexism– Here is an excellent resource that recommends ways that men can be engaged in fighting sexism. Yep, the description is straightforward, but the advice is invaluable.
Thoughts on Shark Attacks– My wife, Beth, wrote this post about a recent discussion we had with some kids and adults about her arm. Here are some reflections on grace, Lutheranism, and more.
7 Problems With Christian Opposition to Inerrancy– Here is a post which outlines some difficulties with Christians denying the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. I’m not sure I’m completely sold on all of these (for example, the argument that Jesus held to biblical inerrancy seems possibly a little weak), but it remains a good discussion to read nonetheless. What are your thoughts?
The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: Patchwork Forgery in Coptic… and English– An in-depth look at portions of this alleged “gospel” and the ways in which it exhibits signs of being a forgery.
Planned Parenthood, Fusion GPS, and the Smokeless Gun– “To the surprise of no one, the group Planned Parenthood hired to exonerate them exonerated them.” Planned Parenthood hired a company to try to clear their name, and–shockingly–they allegedly did so. But did they really? Here is an analysis of the findings of the study. See also: Center for Medical Progress Refutes Planned Parenthood’s Claims About the Videos Point-by-Point– the director of the group who recorded the undercover videos directly addresses the concerns raised about them being edited (or not).
Another week, another round of fresh reads for you, dear readers, to enjoy! This week we have posts on a science fiction author you may not have heard of, a debate between an atheist and a New Testament scholar, theology and miscarriages, a pro-life post with some good arguments and advice for advocates, and creationism.
Cordwainer Smith– Cordwainer Smith was a science fiction author who was also an Anglican. He developed a unique and compelling world full of intriguing insights into humanity, religion, and free will. Here’s a post that develops some of his thought and reflects a bit on his body of work.
How Not to Argue Pro-Choice: Eleven Completely Misguided Arguments– Clinton Wilcox has written a valuable piece here responding to a pro-choice article that alleges to discredit 11 common pro-life arguments. Not only does he respond to each of the 11 attacks on pro-life arguments, but he also clarifies some arguments that we probably shouldn’t be using.
Fact-Checking Dan Barker from Our Recent Debate [with Daniel B. Wallace]– Here’s a meaty read that will help you dive into some of the extra-biblical evidence related to Jesus Christ, among other things.
Miss Carry: The Theology of Unrealized Motherhood– Miscarriages happen to anywhere from 10%-50% of all pregnancies. Yet we don’t often talk about the emotional impact these can have on families. Here’s a post reflecting on the need for a theology of unrealized motherhood.
Billions of Stone Artifacts: Witness to the Ancient Occupation of the Saharan Desert– Joel Duff continues his series responding to an Answers in Genesis argument about the sheer volume of stone artifacts in Africa. The basics are that the fact that billions of artifacts exist means that human occupation must have been much longer than a young earth creationist timeline allows for.
I think it is an appropriate time to present a series of posts on Planned Parenthood and the wrongs that are being perpetuated within our midst. Thus, I have accumulated some resources from all over for your to browse and become more informed on regarding Planned Parenthood, abortion, and related issues. Please read and share these posts. We can no longer be silent: we must speak up for those who are unable to speak up for themselves.
Meet the Filmmaker Exposing Planned Parenthood– An interview with David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Process, the group that has released a number of videos exposing Planned Parenthood executives discussing the use of fetal body parts. A quote from the article: “All we had to do was say two things. Number one, that we supported their work. And number two, that we wanted to buy their fetal body parts. Those were the magic words. And they were willing to bend over backwards to accommodate that.”
Considering the “Planned Parenthood’s Abortion is only 3% of what it does” Defense– It has been parroted time and again: abortion is only 3% of what Planned Parenthood does! Therefore… what? When you look at the numbers, that 3% is pretty significant. Not only that, but the argument itself is quite faulty as an excuse.
Planned Parenthood Videos: Is this a Wilberforce Moment for the Church?– William Wilberforce was a defender of human rights who helped to get slavery outlawed across the British Empire. One of his strategies was to show people slave ships so that they couldn’t pretend not to know what was happening. The Planned Parenthood videos have shown only some of the horrors of abortion. We need to stand up, not look away, and refuse to allow it to continue.
The Faqs: What You Should Know about the Planned Parenthood Defunding Vote– This post discusses the vote to defund Planned Parenthood in light of various questions that arose around it, including why the Republican majority leader would vote against it (hint: it’s not because he’s in favor of abortion).
The ‘Ick Factor’ And The Planned Parenthood Videos– Is the response to the Planned Parenthood videos really just a gut “ick factor” reaction? Is it instead based on something more concrete?
“Keep Your Eye on the Ball”– A refutation of one of Planned Parenthood’s responses to the videos that are being released. It points to some of the absurdities being circulated in defense of Planned Parenthood.
Should You Be Outraged with Planned Parenthood Today? (Flowchart)– A flowchart that asks whether we should still be upset with Planned Parenthood over their abortion practices.
A Voice for the Voiceless– Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, argues that feminists ought to speak up against abortion, particularly in light of the recent videos.
Now We Know Her– A personal story about a family prepared to abort their child should any defects have been spotted. This post demonstrates some of the inconsistency in the pro-choice reasoning, but does so in a winsome and personal fashion.
Silence in the Face of Evil (Comic) – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor who was martyred by the Nazis for his resistance, argued that silence in the face of evil was itself an act: not to act is to act. Here’s a little quote from him alongside a comic.
My Own Posts
Whose Body Parts Are They?– I ask a simple question in light of the Planned Parenthood videos: whose body parts are they?
Abortion, the Violinist Analogy, and Body Parts– A common argument for the moral permissiveness of abortion is the violinist analogy. Here, I analyze that in light of the Planned Parenthood videos.
Planned Parenthood Does Much Good– I analyze the argument that Planned Parenthood does much good and whether that should matter.