Thursday, 25 January 2018

Hilarious/tragic but true: world atheist convention cancelled

The theme was to be "Reason for hope". So really, it seems that the atheists were being ruthlessly consistent.... atheism, of course, has to end in nihilism. "Hope" is an artificial construct, with no objective reality in an atheistic universe. It's just evolution resulting in brain chemistry. There can't be hope for humanity if there is nothing beyond the universe, nothing greater than humanity that can speak into humanity's plight. "Hope" that is generated from humanity, out of necessity, is just personal sentiment, and as such purely subjective. The only objective final goal/destination in the atheistic universe is heat death and nothingness.

Salt and light : the lady who led the fight against Larry Nassar is an evangelical Christian

The appalling case of USA Gymnastics and now-convicted serial sexual abuser Larry Nassar has been in the news a lot today, and in the preceding weeks.

The bringing of this monstrous evil to light stems from the courageous actions of Rachael Denhollander, an athlete abused by Nassar.

You can hear Rachael Denhollander give her story here:

What's that behind her, on the right of the video? A Bible, and a whole book-case of heavy-duty resources for serious Bible study - evangelical Bible commentaries, theological resources, and (familiar to very many Bible college students) "Elements of New Testament Greek" for studying Koine Greek (the Greek of the New Testament).

So, a true and brave Christian lady. Salt and light in a dark world, from Jesus Christ, working through weak human beings, making a real difference. Something the media didn't see fit to talk about, anywhere I've seen, no doubt because by and large, they don't understand it, and can't fit it into any of their boxes. It's not because she kept it quiet, and we can benefit from her clear and gracious testimony. Justin Taylor here records in words and links to the video of her Christian testimony in court as she called both for justice from the court, and personally called upon Nassar to seek and find the grace that is in Christ, that he might find gospel mercy before he faces God's eternal justice:

Update: I found her husband's Twitter account, in which he has a #1689 hashtag in his profile - The "1689" being the principle confession of faith of the Calvinistic Baptists (such as myself). The same Twitter bio gives "Louisville, Kentucky" as home; that being the town which hosts the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he's either a PhD student or has already completed. Here's some of his work, which is explicitly tied in to the Nassar case:

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Cathy Newman versus Jordan Peterson : mismatch of the century

You should definitely watch this, and all of it. You should do so both for all that you'll learn from it, and for the sheer, high-quality humour in seeing invincible ignorance meet with overwhelming force of logic, clarity and (in today's context, courageous) refusal to be cowed by bluster and nonsense. Though, it's a shame that Peterson's powerful and important initial message for men (on which, see here), gets over-shadowed by Newman's failed attempts to turn him into cartoon woman-hater.

You should, before watching it, understand that Cathy Newman is not a thickie reading a list of questions cooked up by some underpaid, overworked beginner in the research assistant role. She's not been set up to look like an idiot. Rather, she is herself a seasoned feminist campaigner, over a number of years, at a national level, pushing her own self-consciously chosen agenda and asking her own questions, educated at Charterhouse and the University of Oxford (where she obtained a first). That's why, as she gets completely dismantled by clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson (either an agnostic, or cultural Christian, according to Wikipedia - at one point almost at the end he appeals to conventional evolutionary theory), it's so very devastating. Time, and again, she (despite having 30 minutes at her leisure to develop however she wished) tries to perform a "gotcha" on him with a simplistic misunderstanding in the guise of an argument or question, in order to trip him up and prove that he's a bigot; time, and again, he exposes the sheer shallowness and lack of factual basis, behind what she's saying. Time and again, she lets loyalty to her cause refuse to let her hear what that's been said, and time and again, he clinically unpicks her confusion. At the end, she's left with nothing more trying to make him responsible for unspecified rude comments made by unnamed people on the Internet. It's that clinical.

The problem in the culture we face is a) that it's pretty rare for campaigners like Cathy Newman to set themselves up like this. Because of their strangehold among the media gatekeepers, they don't need to parade the vacuousness of their slogans in this way; and b) the factors that allow people like Jordan Peterson to still exist in academia (just) unfortunately don't allow them to exist in the same way in contemporary politics (which largely rewards the parading of vacuous slogans). But watching this would be a good start.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Peter Hitchens on "Lady Chatterley's Lover"

"Central London in those days had plenty of grubby shops, which remained open through a mixture of corruption and discretion. They served the rather small numbers who at that time were ready to risk being seen in these quarters. They accordingly charged high prices to clients who were in no position to complain. Their purpose was to deprave and corrupt, and nobody doubted it. This was the underbelly of puritan society, and the tribute that vice paid to virtue.

But it was the underbelly, secret and shady, not the upper surface, and the frontier between that milieu and normality was well-defined. The trial ended that distinction and tore down that frontier."

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Some ideas believed in the West

This is a general, big-picture hand-out I created for a non-Western audience. But Westerners will find it helpful too.
* * *

Why is it important to understand how Western people think, if we do not live in the West? The fact is that the world-view of the West does not stay in the West. It spreads. It spreads through the media (the Internet, television). It spreads through educational institutions, and textbooks. So, we need to be aware. There are two mistakes to avoid. One is to reject everything, and say “it’s Western!”, as if “West = Wrong”. The other is to accept everything, and say “it’s Western!” as if “West = Correct”. As with everything else, we should test it by the Word of God. God is truth!

Idea A Christian will want to say...
The material world follows scientific laws God runs his world in an orderly way. We describe this, calling different things “laws”, but this does not prevent God from doing something different (sometimes called “a miracle”) if he wishes. The word “law” should not stop us from asking “how” and “why” questions. No “law” can create, or maintain, itself.
The universe is like a big machine. God is not needed. God holds all things in existence. He is present everywhere. Without him, there could not be a universe, or anything.
Science can solve all of our problems
It cannot, because science can only deal with the physical or material parts of problems (not with moral problems, or spiritual problems).
We can choose how we want the world to be, and use science to achieve our choices God’s creation has both a) limits which he has placed on it which we cannot pass beyond (you will never be a cat) and b) his approved ways of living, beyond which we are in rebellion against him, which carries serious and eternal consequences
Religion is only about private opinions. Religion is just about what you believe in your head God is concerned about everything. Since we belong to God, his Word affects all parts of life, everywhere. Christ is the king of the whole universe, and everybody’s final judge.
I should only believe things that science has demonstrated Science has no access beyond the material realm, and is extremely limited in what it can say about many important things in the material realm (for example, one-off events in history), or about their meaning or significance.
Science is opposed to religion If God created all things, then studying his physical world (creation) cannot be something that is opposed to worshiping God.
If two religions disagree, then there is no way to choose between them... and it does not matter. Religion is just about being loving to other people, so all religions really say the same thing. The Bible describes God’s plan for history. It begins with the start of history, and goes through to the end. There is only one world, and the things in the Bible – like the resurrection of Christ – reveal the world’s one true story and destination. True religion must begin with the true God and his plans for his world, not false gods invented by humans, and not with ignoring the true God’s plan.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

The heart of the apostle Paul for the people of God, and for the lost

From the book of Romans (much more could be added from elsewhere), the heart of the apostle Paul:
  • 1:8-15 – He rejoices and gives thanks to hear of those who believe. He serves God in his inner-most being, for cause of God's Son. He longs to be able to bring strengthening and blessing to the people of God; to encourage them, and be encouraged by them. He is eager to preach the gospel wherever he can.
  • 9:1-3 - He has great sorrow and ceaseless anguish in his heart, because of his unsaved kinsmen. He could even wish, if it were possible, if he could be cut off from Christ, so that they could be saved!
  • 10:1 – The desire of his heart is that his kinsmen should be saved
  • 11:33-36 - He is astonished by, and exclaims in amazement at the wonders of God's glory
  • 14:21 (compare with 1 Cor. 8:13) - He puts his brothers in Christ above his own preferences or tastes
  • 15:23 – he longed, not just as a fleeting whim, but for many years, to come to Rome in order to serve and bless the Roman Christians 
  • 16:19 – He rejoiced to hear about peoples' faithfulness to Christ
 This is the heart of a servant of God. God looks at the heart, and God's whole law for how we deal with our fellow man is that we should love them from the heart. Now, is this my heart? Is it your heart? Can we find any softness or tears at least to mourn before God, if it is not?

Monday, 1 January 2018

Ryan T. Anderson - responding to the transgender movement

This is exceptionally clear, thoughtful and well-researched:

I fear to pick out one thing among so much helpful information. But one particular tactical tip/reminder is his emphasis that we must distinguish between transgender activists who claim to tout for people confused about their identity, and those people themselves, who will be on a whole spectrum about what they think or believe about the claims being made by the activists.