Wednesday, January 28, 2015

More Cardinal Pell

Watched another debate of Cardinal Pell's; he this time debates an atheist who used to be a Christian Pastor. The man to me is obviously a charlatan; but he is formidable debater. I think that Pell is triumphant again, but decide for yourself here


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Arguing With Richard Dawkins

As many of you probably know, there are few things I enjoy more than debate. If you ever have a serious conversation with me, it usually will turn into a debate of some sort, or morph into a very serious topic as one the things I truly hate in life is what is known as "small talk". In my spare time, I often watch debates, and this week I watched a certain debate 3 times. I usually always watch a debate more than once so I can truly analyze what both participants or sides are saying, but this debate was different. I actually really just liked listening to both men, similarly to the way I suppose that Herod loved to listen to John the Baptist. The debate was between evolutionary biologist and atheist activist Ricard Dawkins and his eminence Cardinal George Pell. The topic of the debate was is religion a force for good in the world, and 76 percent of people voted against the idea that it was. If you are interested in watching the debate, it can be viewed here.

I would like to contend with a certain point that was mentioned by Richard Dawkins. He was asked the question of where did he get his values as an atheist. He responded that there were no objective moral values, and that one must make up his own values. This idea is prominent in the works of one of my favorite philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche, as well as in the works of Bertrand Russell and J.L. Mackie. Simply put, it is nihilism; the philosophy that there is no such thing as values and that each person can make up his own, but each value is subjective rather than objective.

In answering what Professor Dawkins said, his eminence Cardinal Pell responded that if that were true, then there was nothing wrong with either of the atrocities of the Gulag or the Holocaust, because ultimately there are no objective moral values, so there is no such thing as right and wrong. His eminence pushed the issue even further, by showing that these things are the consequences of believing in Social Darwinism, which Dawkins protested. Dawkins said that he thought these things were not related to atheism; however they are where the atheistic argument truly leads. If there is no God, life is absurd, without value, and subjective. This was the view of the existentialists Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Satre.

Here is the point I want to make as I oppose Richard Dawkins idea. The point is that the atheistic worldview is lacking in values, where the Christian world is not. Because God is uncreated, uncaused, all-powerful, and maker of all things, he is the only objective being that can give us our values. If there is no God, there are no objective moral values, which means that our values come from either ourselves or our culture. This is a problem for the Richard Dawkins of the world, because they cannot state truthfully that the Holocaust or the Gulag were objectively wrong. They can only choose to believe that they were wrong. And, some atheists like Satre said that neither the Gulag or Holocaust were wrong and defended his country of France for not opposing the Nazis. All of this is fine if we want to live in a world without morals. But, as Richard Dawkins does seem to want to live in a world with morals, then he must turn to God. There is no other way.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sit Down, John!

One of my favorite musicals is 1776. Perhaps it is because of my love for this country and seeing it reenacted on stage, perhaps it is the humor, perhaps it is the fact that this is the one time I seem to be rooting for John Adams, I do not  know for sure. But I will always remember the fact that John Adams stands alone at the beginning championing independence for the United States, and the Continental Congress joins together in a song and sings "Sit Down, John!" Luckily, John did not stand down but carried through the courage of his convictions.

This week another John is being told that he must either sit down or be cast out. John Dehlin, Mormon Stories founder, has been summoned to a disciplinary council that will determine whether he will be disfellowshipped (not allowed to participate fully, but retain his membership) or excommunicated (have his membership stripped). The hearing is scheduled to occur one week hence. I assume that John will be excommunicated, I would be shocked if he did not.

The reason that John has been called into council are numerous, but they ultimately come down to three things: 1) John is not a believer and he and is network are hostile to the believing LDS world 2) John openly supports same-sex marriage, which is openly against church doctrine 3) He also supports Ordain Women, which advocates for the ordination of women within the LDS Church.

I am just going to focus on the first point, I have commented on the others in previous other blogs. John calls himself an "Unorthodox, unorthoprax Mormon" on his blog, which basically means that he does not believe at all in the central claims of Mormonism. So, the real question is not why the Church is going after John; the question is why he himself has not just resigned from the Church.

There is no reason to call yourself a Mormon or anything else if you do not believe in the central tenets of the organization. John himself has said that he does not believe and is critical of belief: there is no room for such people in this church or any church. John wants to play victim, but he is not one. Anyone who has done the same things he has done would be excommunicated; he just seems to have gotten leaders who have been patient with him up to this point. But, patience can only last so long.

Let me make this clear: John is not on trial for having doubts or not believing. Most, if not all, members of the Church, have doubts or questions. That is the Lord's way: faith seeks knowledge and knowledge never comes without questions. That is not what John is doing. John has made his conclusions, and is kicking against the pricks and fighting against the church. It will be a great day for the church when he is no longer a part of it. In fact, John isn't really in the church anyway as he no longer even attends as well as not being a believer. Farewell John. Have a nice life.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Exodus: Gods and Kings Review

First off, I would like to wish all of my readers a very happy and prosperous new year. As I said in a earlier post, if you made New Years Resolutions (which most people do), keep in mind you have the entire year to implement them, not just a few days. Do not be discouraged if change does not come immediately; it rarely does in life.

This post will focus on the scriptural implications of the story of Moses portrayed in Exodus:Gods and Kings. While there was some good elements in the film, many things in it were very unscriptural and detracted from the story. I will address just 5 here, but more could be made.

1. The first has to do with Moses and his relationship with God, who is portrayed as a small boy in the film. The main issue in the film is that Moses has great contempt and disdain for God, while in the Bible Moses has great respect for God and never raises his voice at him. Also, since God is portrayed as a small boy, he is always looking down to God rather than up to him.

2. Moses throughout the film is portrayed as a skeptic and atheist until he meets God personally. This is highly problematic since there is no mention of this in the Bible, and Moses being reared in Egypt would certainly have not been an atheist. Seems to be an almost anti-religious message that is very subtle, but recognizable to the alert.

3. Moses in the film is exiled after discovering that he is a Hebrew. This is highly inaccurate, as Moses was raised Egyptian but always knew he was a Hebrew. He fled Egypt because he killed and Egyptian who was beating a slave, who he knew were his brethren. In the film, Moses has great contempt for the slaves before he leaves Egypt, but in the Bible he seems to want to help them (Exodus 2).

4. In a very strange twist, Moses leaves his family to go to free his people. Oddly enough, Moses only has one son in the film, but in the Bible he has two. And when he leaves to return to Egypt he takes Zipporah and his sons with him. Perhaps this is a negative attack on the Master himself, who said that a man must leave his family to be worthy of him, but this was not the Saviors intent. Read Exodus 3-4 to discover the account of Moses' encounter with God, and Matthew 5-7 for the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus of Nazareth talks about families.

5. The plagues in the film seem to be very natural causes, and Moses is not at all involved in them and neither is Aaron his brother. Also, there are not ten plagues in the film, as the flies and lice were separate in the Biblical narrative, but combined in the film. However, in the Bible, Moses is commanded to use each plague and his people were not affected by them, but they are in the film. Also, Moses hardly ever talks to Pharaoh, where in the Biblical narrative he talks to him before and after each plague. Read Exodus 7-14 for the account of the 10 plagues.