What Do I Actually Believe? Part 3 of 3

This is the final part of my response to an article by Tiffany Willis, editor-in-chief of the website liberalamerica.org.

In her article, Willis lists 28 reasons why she’s no longer talking to most conservatives. I find most disturbing about her irrational rant is that she seems to actually believe that the claptrap collection of ridiculous misrepresentations she puts forth is how most conservatives actually think. And, based on the comments on the page, an alarming number of people actually seem to agree with her.

What I have done is to go point-by-point through her collection of straw-man arguments and ad hominem attacks to explain what I, as a libertarian-leaning, conservative Christian actually believe, while at the same time pointing out the irrationality of her arguments, and poking a little fun at her ignorance. I covered points 1-10 and 11-20 in previous posts. In this post, I will address her final 8 points.

21. It’s impossible for you to see your privilege.

If you were born into a family and a place that allowed you to thrive, you’re blessed and fortunate. This isn’t the norm. A lot of success and stability depends on the structure that we have during our formative years. The vast majority of young Americans have not had your advantages and I can’t seem to make you understand that. I’ve stopped trying.

First, I want to agree with her that if a person was born into a family and a place that allowed them to thrive, they are blessed and fortunate. I also agree that this isn’t the norm.

Because I am a white, male baby-boomer, I have had some advantages over most non-whites and women. It’s not impossible for me to see the privilege; I readily acknowledge it. With all due respect, my question is, what would Willis and others like her expect me to do about it? I can’t change who I am, or how I was raised. All I can do is work to help others succeed, regardless of their backgrounds.

The liberal premise that success is almost entirely dependent on birthright and privilege is simply false. There are numerous examples of people who have risen to greatness from disadvantaged beginnings. Barack Obama is a perfect example of someone overcoming disadvantage to achieve success. There are also numerous examples of people who had every advantage in life, yet squandered it. While ethnicity and gender obviously give some advantage and others disadvantage, the primary reason people are successful in life while others are not has more to do with personal drive and persistence. The notion that ethnic minorities cannot succeed because of the color of their skin is racist, and the idea that women cannot succeed because they are women is sexist. These ideas are promoted far more by liberals such as Willis, in arguments such as the one she makes here, than by conservatives. If Willis and other liberals really want to end “white privilege,” stop telling non-whites and women that they can’t succeed without handouts. Instead, empower them to overcome the disadvantage, work their butts off, and succeed despite their ethnicity and gender.

22. You don’t care about children.

You care about fetuses. Once those fetuses begin to breath outside the womb, your concern is gone if they’re born into a poor family that needs help.

Or how about poor children who are in school? Most of you want to do away with free and reduced lunches, for God’s sake. And let’s not even talk about free breakfasts for kids. What is wrong with you people??? There is no better investment that we can make as a nation than in the early childhood health of our children.

UnbornFirst, fetuses ARE children, and, yes, I care about them a great deal.

Second, the claim that conservatives don’t care about children is nothing more than intolerant bigotry and emotionalism. An ad hominem attack of the lowest sort.

Third, giving children free or reduced lunches does not solve the problem of poverty. Indefinite handouts perpetuate the problem of poverty rather than eliminating it. This has long been the strategy of liberals: Force people into poverty, then give them handouts designed to keep them there. Then, poor people will vote for the liberals, because they give them free stuff. The “best investment” we can make as a nation is to grow the economy to the point it can provide well-paying jobs to all who want them, and by empowering the poor to overcome the obstacles and succeed.

SchoolLunchFourth, most conservatives have no problem with providing free and reduced price lunches – and breakfasts – to those in need. Many of our own kids have benefitted from these programs, especially under the Obama economy. However, we see free and reduced lunches as a temporary solution, rather than a long-term entitlement. The solution is to raise families up out of poverty so they don’t need assistance.

23. You’re greedy and miserable.

You spend more time bemoaning what is being taken from you that you do in being thankful that you have enough to share.

scroogeWho is more greedy, liberals or conservatives? According to most studies, such as one reported by Fiscal Times and another in Newsmax, conservatives actually give more to charity than liberals. Of the first 20 or so results that turned up in my Google search, al said that either the giving by liberals and conservatives is roughly the same, or that conservatives give more. No studies showed that liberals give more to charity.

Liberals like Willis seem to think that wanting to keep the money one earns is greed, but forcibly taking money from others is not greed.

Who is more miserable, liberals or conservatives? Again, according to studies reported by the New York Times and the Washington Post, conservatives are happier than liberals.

So much for the stereotype of conservatives being unhappy misers.

The basic difference between conservatives and liberals is conservatives favor voluntary, personal giving while liberals favor forced redistribution. Most conservatives would give the shirt off their backs to help someone in need. And most liberals are also happy to give the shirt off the conservative’s back to help someone in need.

As for myself, although my family has struggled financially over the last few years, I give often to charitable causes, both of my money and of my time. I’ve also taught my children to do the same.

24. You think our religion is the only one.

I’m a Christian — a proud follower of the most amazing man I’ve ever studied. Most of what is good about me comes from the teachings of Jesus. I love my religion and my Holy Book. I use the Words in Red as a compass. But who am I to look at other people who feel exactly the same way about their own religions and judge them?

ALL religions think they’re the only one. And, all religions proselytize and try to convince others they are correct.

Willis claims it’s wrong to judge – as she judges conservatives. She’s quite the hypocrite.

The problem is, logically, they cannot all be the truth. They contain mutually exclusive claims. The idea that Willis seems to espouse – that all religions are equal – is utter nonsense.

John146Willis claims that as a Christian, she loves her religion and her Holy Book. But, she then says she uses the “Words in Red” as her compass. If she actually read the “Words in Red,” she’d realize that Jesus affirms the entire Bible as truth, not just the “Words in Red:” “ For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).  She’d know that Jesus claimed to be the only Truth: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).

Willis is correct; I do believe that Biblical Christianity is the only true religion. And yes, I tell others about Jesus, and I hold to the Bible as the truth, and all other religions as false. Although I believe other religions and worldviews are false, I will defend a person’s legal right to believe what they choose to believe. I even defend the right of Willis to write irrational rants attacking my beliefs in the name of tolerance. However, I will also speak out about why I believe that Jesus is the only truth, and all other religion is a lie. To not do so would be hypocritical.

25. You are lazy and you refuse to read.

I provide sources for you that will debunk most of your BS, or at least help you to see it a little differently. You refuse to read it. You stick to Fox News, World Net Daily, etc…You refuse to ever entertain another point of view.

The very fact that I have taken the time to refute point-by-point all 28 of the reasons Willis refuses to even speak with most conservatives refutes the idea that conservatives won’t read other points of view. I initially ran across this article on the Facebook page of an atheist friend of mine. Rather than ignoring it, I clicked on the link, and read the article. I maintain Facebook relationships with people whose views are diametrically opposed to mine, and actually read what they have to say.

Ironically, the majority of the sources in Willis’ article simply link back to other articles Willis has written on her own website.

26. Your misfortune is God’s blessing.

When something bad happens to you, you sanctimoniously think it’s God testing you and making you stronger. When something bad happens to me (or gay people or atheists or etc…), you think it’s God punishing them.

I think bad stuff happens to people because of sin. And all of us sin. I also believe that because I have placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and have become “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17), God does deal with my sin differently from how He deals with the sin of a non-believer. If Willis loved her “Holy Book” as much as she claims she does, and read more than the “Words in Red,” she’d know that.

27. “Everyone has their lot in life.”

Except you, of course. Well, no….you do have a lot. Your lot is to have every privilege and entitlement and make sure your children have the same.

See my response to #21 (above).

28. You think you’re the only one working and paying taxes.

“My tax dollars….” Here’s a clue: you’re not the only one paying taxes. Liberals pay taxes, too. Just how far do you think your $2,000 a year in income taxes goes?

The difference between liberals and conservatives regarding taxes is that liberals see high taxes as a means to Taxesredistribute wealth. Nobody should have more than anyone else. Conservatives believe in limited taxes to support essential government functions, like the military and building infrastructure, not as a means to redistribute wealth.

Conservatives support lower taxes for all because people have a right to keep what they earn. Liberals support progressive taxation with high taxes for the rich in order to equalize incomes through redistribution of earnings.

Liberals think taxes are too low for the wealthy. Conservatives think taxes are too high for everybody. I’m with the conservatives on this one.

Final thoughts…

I enjoy intelligent conversation and debate with people with whom I disagree. Rational debate allows for personal growth and for better understanding between people with different worldviews. However, this article by Ms. Willis is neither intelligent nor rational. It’s nothing more than an angry, hateful rant. The title alone, “28 Reasons I’m DONE Talking To Most Of My Conservative Friends And Family Members,” demonstrates just how closed-minded and intolerant Willis is. I do not call her stupid or amoral for being a liberal. I call her ignorant and intolerant for posting such drivel, rather than intelligent discussion, to support her views.

Advertisements

What Do I Actually Believe? Part 1 of 3

A Facebook friend recently posted a link to this article by blogger Tiffany Willis, editor-in-chief of the website liberalamerica.org.

I have seldom seen such a collection of ad hominem attacks and straw-man arguments crammed into a single rant. Misrepresenting the views of others in this manner simply to argue for your own view is fallacious and divisive. It leads to arguments rather than positive dialog. If Americans actually want to get along, we need to understand what others actually believe, rather than caricatures and misrepresentations.

As a libertarian-leaning, evangelical conservative, I’d like to go through each point of this rant to explain how what I actually believe is quite different from the caricature Willis paints of conservative views. While the views I express are mine alone, they are reasonably representative of what most of my conservative friends believe. Not every conservative will agree with every point, however. I hope that this will lead to better understanding of what many conservatives actually believe, and can lead to productive dialog rather than ignorant rants.

Ms. Willis lists 28 reasons why she’s done talking to most of her conservative friends and family members. Her list is more than I care to address in a single chunk, so here are the first 10, along with some of her comments, and my responses:

1. You support revisionist history.

When I was in a high school history class, I’ll never forget one thing our teacher taught us: what you read in history books isn’t always accurate. The example she used was history books in the Soviet Union, now known as Russia. She informed us, to my shock and horror, that the Soviets pretty much included what they liked in the history books and left out everything else. As a result, she said, there were generations of Russian students who were misinformed.

Oh we were dismayed, my classmates and I! Those poor little Russian kids who were being taught false history. But wait….you guys on the right are trying to do the same thing right here in the Good Old U.S.A.

I certainly do not support revisionist history. The evils of slavery, the treatment of Native Americans, and the civil rights movement all should be covered in history classes. However, so should the role of historyChristianity in the formation of the United States and the fact that it was mostly Democrats who supported slavery and opposed civil rights for Blacks. Revisionist history is a two-way street. Considering that the public education system in the United States is primarily run by far-left-leaning organizations such as the NEA would support that history is being revised to support liberal ideology far more than to support conservative ideology. The best way to teach history is to go back to source documents, then present both sides of the issues, rather than simply indoctrinating students with revisionist malarkey.

2. You cite Jesus as your reasoning for rejecting marriage equality.

Yet the Bible only mentions homosexuality six times. Six. Times. 6. This many:

SixFingers

So why is this one of the biggest issues on your agenda? Why are you putting so much energy and hate into an issue that clearly wasn’t one of God’s major concerns?

As Christians who are pro-family, why would you deny people the right to the sanctity of marriage? If marriage strengthens families, why would you not want everyone to have this, even if you disagree with their choice of mate?

YOU (we) have destroyed the sanctity of marriage. There is no possible way that gay marriage can do more harm to marriage than heterosexuals have done. Yet we seldom hear a sermon bemoaning the divorce rate or people living together before marriage. Why is that? Because the pews would be empty.

First, the number of times the Bible mentions something is irrelevant. The Bible’s teaching on the subject is very clear: practicing homosexuality is sin.

Second, the main reason gay marriage is so high on the list of discussion topics for conservative Christians is because it’s so high on the list of discussion topics for others. The issue is being forced on Christians, so Christians are responding.

Third, disagreeing with homosexuality and calling it sin is not “hate.” The term “hate” is so misused today that it has become almost meaningless. Disagreement and opposition do not equal hate. I want people to understand that homosexuality is sin because I want them to turn from sin and be saved. I don’t want people to go to Hell. Wanting people to come to know Jesus is not hate. True, some professing Christians hate gays. However, doing so is completely inconsistent with clear Biblical teaching.

Fourth, it is precisely the sanctity of marriage we are defending. Marriage is between one man and one woman, not because we say it is, but because that’s how God clearly defined it. Biblically speaking, gay marriage doesn’t exist. Calling a gay relationship a marriage doesn’t make it a marriage, any more than calling a cat a dog makes it a dog.

Fifth, I mostly agree with her last point: Divorce and adultery have destroyed the sanctity of marriage. It is precisely because most of the church has compromised on divorce and adultery that homosexuality and other perversions are being accepted by people who profess to be Christian. It is the abandonment of Biblical values that is eroding morality in American culture.

3. You use Biblical scripture to excuse yourself from feeding the hungry.

There is nothing you do that makes me more disgusted with you than your abuse and misuse of 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

You are deliberately taking the scripture — ONE VERSE! — out of context when you use them to justify your own hatred of poor people. And again, you’re showing your ignorance.

First – there are many passages that talk about working and laziness, not just one. The book of Proverbs is loaded with them. The argument that 2 Thessalonians 3:10 is only referring to Christians who stopped working in anticipation of Christ’s return is not supported by the text. Don’t take my word for it; look it up for yourself in context.

Second – the passages of scripture that discuss helping the poor and disabled are always directed at the church or individuals – NEVER the secular government. Using the Bible out-of-context to try to support government entitlement programs is a misrepresentation of God’s Word. In the United States, Christians have always led the way when it comes to helping the poor. There are numerous Christian-based food pantries, food lines, education centers, hospitals, and support groups for the needy. I’m only aware of a handful from atheists and other religions.

Third, nobody I know, conservative or otherwise, is opposed to helping the truly needy. The issue is identifying who is truly needy, and how to help them. Many liberals seem to think most people are needy, and believe the best way to help them is for the government to give them stuff. Conservative tend to believe that we need to help the most needy – the elderly, the disabled, and orphans, for example. There are others who are physically able to work, but don’t have jobs. The government should support the truly needy, with the assistance of the private sector. The government needs to work with the private sector to grow the economy in order to provide jobs to the able-bodied, not long-term handouts. Give the unemployed temporary assistance until they can get jobs, absolutely! But also, help the private sector – especially small businesses – create well-paying jobs. Private-sector jobs are by far the best way to end poverty!

Last, statistics show that there have always been far more Christian charities helping the hungry than non-Christian charities. Don’t insult me by telling me I don’t care about feeding the hungry. You don’t know what you’re talking about. My Eagle Scout service project was to organize a food drive to restock a small food pantry. My church supports a food pantry around the corner from the church building. When I was unemployed, people from my church brought us food. Claiming that conservative Christians don’t care about the hungry is ignorant.

worldvision

4. You lie when you say you value “freedom of religion.”

I had lunch with some conservatives a while back, and the topic of freedom of religion came up. They expressed concern at the “war on Christianity.” I cited a recent event that had occurred in which protesters interrupted the U.S. Senate’s first Hindu-led prayer. The response from my fellow diners? “Good.” I don’t know how educated people can be so ignorant. Seriously. You can’t even see your own contradictions.

While I would agree that there are some conservatives that only value freedom of religion for Christianity, most of us support freedom for all religions.

firstamendmentPlease don’t misunderstand – I am certainly not arguing that all religions are equally true. Jesus said, ““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” I believe that the only true religion is a relationship with God through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All other religions, philosophies, and worldviews lead to Hell. What I am saying is that while I believe most religion is in error, I will defend a person’s right to believe what they wish under the Constitution of the United States. Religious freedom is a sort of two-way street. If the government can impede the free exercise of religions I find abhorrent, there is nothing to prevent government from impeding the free exercise of Biblical Christianity. In the United States, if someone wants to be Muslim, or Mormon, or worship a sacred rock, or claim they worship nothing at all, it should be their right to worship, either publicly or privately, as they see fit, as long as those beliefs and practices don’t harm someone else.

And, seriously, I don’t understand how an educated person like Willis can’t see her own contradictions, either.

5. You claim God speaks to you and tells you to do things.

Over and over and over, we see right wing nutjobs in the news saying they’re doing this horrible thing or that horrible thing because God told them to…But conservatives believe these nuts. Here is what I think: not only should sensible conservatives not believe these nuts, you need to start speaking out against them. These are the false prophets that the Bible warns us about, in my humble opinion. Most of you lack the courage to take a stand against these idiots even when you know they’re nuts.

First, religious “nutjobs” are certainly not all conservatives. How many crazies do things to protect their “Mother Earth?” Recently, when Craig Stephen Hicks gunned down 3 Muslims in a dispute over a parking spot, the liberal media was quick to condemn him as a religious conservative nutjob – until it was revealed that he’s actually a liberal militant atheist. Suddenly, the liberal media isn’t talking about the incident at all.

While I do believe God speaks to His followers through the Holy Spirit, Christians are instructed to “test the spirits” to determine if it is actually God speaking, or a demonic voice. The voice of God will never contradict the clear teaching of Scripture.

I agree with Willis on this point: the Bible clearly warns of false prophets. However, Willis seems to have no clue what makes a person a “false prophet.” I believe that anyone teaching anything that contradicts the clear teaching of westborothe Bible is a false prophet. This would include all non-Christian religious teachers, as well as “Christian” teachers that deny any part of the Bible as anything other than the inspired Word of God. I also agree with Willis of this point: “Most of you lack the courage to take a stand against these idiots even when you know they’re nuts.” Far too many people, from all ideologies, refuse to speak out against evil. The liberal media was quick to denounce Hicks for murdering Muslims, until they found out he’s a liberal atheist. Many Christians won’t take a stand against other Christians, and those that do are usually severely criticized for being “divisive.” For example, most conservatives vehemently oppose the likes of Westboro Baptist Church and Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ. However, many are also slow to publicly condemn them, and when they do, the liberal media tends to ignore it.

Most conservative Christians do not claim they do things because they heard voices telling them to do so. We base our beliefs on the written Bible. It’s the liberals who tend to base their beliefs on whatever passing fancy is in vogue at the time, on the “voices” of popular opinion.

6. You question my faith.

“Christian Left is an oxymoron.”

Oh my, I’ve heard that so much from the right, and believe it or not, I often hear it from my “friends.” First of all, your questioning of my faith genuinely means very little to me. What it does is destroy my opinion of you; I now view you as self-righteous hypocrites… Keep questioning my faith, though, my people, because you can be sure I’m questioning yours. One thing I won’t do, however, is accuse you of not being a believer as you do me. What I will suggest to you is that my faith may be stronger than yours. I’ve educated myself, dared to question all things, and STILL believe. Most of you are too afraid to even learn. It may, after all, test your faith.

Do I question people’s faith? Sure, I do. I know that it doesn’t matter how much faith a person has, if that faith is placed in anything other than Jesus Christ. I know that people will burn in Hell for eternity, unless they place their way_truth_lifefaith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said that no one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6). The Bible says we will know people’s faith by their fruit. If a person truly has a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, their words and actions will begin to mirror the teaching of Scripture. If a person’s words and actions continue to contradict the clear teaching of the Bible, it is completely appropriate to question their salvation.

I find it interesting that Willis denounces people who question her faith as self-righteous hypocrites, yet then states, “Keep questioning my faith, though, my people, because you can be sure I’m questioning yours.” Doesn’t that make her a self-righteous hypocrite as well?

Willis then states that her faith is stronger than a conservative’s faith because she’s educated herself and questioned her beliefs. She claims conservatives are “afraid to even learn.” This is nothing more than a baseless ad hominem attack. I have news for Willis: Conservative evangelical Christians are just as willing to study and learn as she is; we question our beliefs, and grow as we learn. It is because I questioned my beliefs that I became a follower of Jesus Christ in the first place. It is because I studied the Bible that I came to believe it is the inspired Word of God. It is because I continue to examine myself daily that I continue to grow in my relationship with God and in my understanding and beliefs. Those of you who have been following this blog since I began it three years ago have probably noticed changes in the types of things I write about, and subtle shifts in ideology. That’s due to growth.

For Willis to claim that only liberals question themselves, educate themselves, and grow in faith is nonsense. For her to accuse conservatives of hypocrisy for questioning her faith, while she questions the faith of conservatives, is self-righteous hypocrisy. The fact that we find your beliefs to be false doesn’t mean we’re uneducated or afraid to learn. It means we have different beliefs and have come to different conclusions.

So, yes, I question her faith. I question everyone’s faith. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian will enter Heaven. Unfortunately, many will hear Jesus say, “I never knew you.” I even question my own beliefs on a regular basis. I no longer question my belief in Jesus as Savior, because I’ve had it confirmed repeatedly. But, I do question my beliefs on specific issues, and regularly adjust my thinking to conform more closely with Biblical teaching.

7. You care more about your guns than you do about children.

After the Sandy Hook massacre, and following other similar tragedies, I asked many of you if you loved your guns more than you do children. I made the statement of “I’d give up my gun forever if it would bring back even one of those children.” I asked you if you’d do the same. You admitted that you would not.

This is an absolutely ridiculous claim. First of all, it’s an example of the fallacy of the false dilemma. The argument is framed as either A) you love guns, or B) you love children. In reality, this isn’t an either/or issue. Supporting gun rights has nothing to do with loving children. There are some very good arguments that support the position that armed-teachersarming teachers would actually prevent tragedies such as Sandy Hook.

This argument is also little more than an appeal to emotions. Willis gives no facts to support her position; rather, she appeals to the emotions of her readers: “It’s for the children.” How can anyone oppose children?

Lastly, the question, “if giving up guns could bring back even one of the Sandy Hook children, would you do it,” is purely hypothetical. It’s also an example of a complex question fallacy. If the person answers yes, they support gun restrictions. If they answer no, they hate children. In reality, there is no way to bring back a dead child. The question is not based in reality. It’s a carefully constructed fallacious question for which there is no correct answer. It’s a lot like asking, “Do you still hate your mother.” Answer yes, you admit you once hated your mother. Answer no, you admit you still hate your mother. It leaves no room for the fact that you never hated your mother. The question Willis asks leaves no option for the perfectly rational belief that widespread gun ownership actually prevents gun violence. Passing laws making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own guns will do nothing to keep criminals from getting guns illegally, since criminals generally don’t follow laws in the first place.

8. You get excited about people dying.

You really, really like to see death. And not just to terrorists. You love the death penalty. You love war. You love seeing kids like Trayvon Martin being shot. They deserve it, you say. But his murderer has shown — again and again — since his acquittal that he is a dangerous person.

Wow. How do I even respond to such a stupid, ignorant, hateful statement?

Willis is incredibly hypocritical for calling conservatives out for supporting the death penalty and war, while she herself supports abortion, which has killed far more people than all of the wars and death penalty executions combined.

Conservatives hate death just as much as liberals do. We hate wars, murder, and abortion. The main difference between liberals and conservatives on the issues of war and the death penalty is that we see them as sometimes being necessary evils. War is, unfortunately, sometimes necessary to stop evil people from doing evil. Imagine what might have happened differently if military action had been taken against Hitler in 1935, when Hitler ignored the Versailles Treaty and ordered Germany to re-arm? Or, if the United States had gotten involved in World War II against Germany in 1939, rather than waiting until after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor? Would ISIS be a serious threat today in the Middle East and elsewhere if Obama had kept American troops in Iraq instead of pulling them when he did?

The Bible teaches that humans were created in the image of God. All human life is sacred. Death is the penalty for sin, and we all have sinned. We all die. The only questions are when we will die, where we will die, how we will die, and where we go afterward. As a Christian, I oppose abortion, war, and murder. Although I hate war, I understand that it is sometimes necessary in a fallen world. Although I hate death, I see the death penalty as just punishment for committing murder. We don’t like the death penalty, but see it as regrettably necessary for justice.

No, we don’t like seeing kids like Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown being shot. However, we also don’t immediately assume they were the victims because of their ethnicity. We don’t immediately jump to the conclusion the shootings were racially motivated. We wait to see what the facts turn out to be, and if the facts warrant it, fully support the prosecution and conviction of the assailants in a court of law. In the cases of both Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, the conflicting evidence made determining innocence or guilt extremely difficult. I personally believe that both Martin and George Zimmerman made mistakes that led to Martin’s death. I agree with Willis in that Zimmerman has since been shown to be a danger to society, and in retrospect, there is good reason to believe he was probably the aggressor. However, the evidence wasn’t strong enough to warrant a conviction at the time. In the case of Michael Brown and officer Darren Wilson, again, both parties made serious mistakes that led to Brown’s death. Brown was a thug who had just robbed a store and attacked a police officer. Wilson was an incompetent officer who allowed himself to be put in a dangerous situation, and then panicked.

The claim that conservatives “get excited about people dying” is a baseless ad hominem attack. It is a complete misrepresentation of conservative beliefs. It is a hateful smear, and reprehensible.

9. You assume that everyone who needs help are losers and parasites who refuse to work.

Approximately 47 million people receive food stamps, and most of them are children or the elderly, in addition to people who are employed. The numbers, from a 2012 USDA report:

  • 45 percent of SNAP recipients are under 18 years of age

  • Nine percent are age 60 or older

  • More than 40 percent live in households with earnings

Again, this is a baseless ad hominem attack. Willis makes a claim, and offers no evidence whatsoever that it is true. Her entire argument on this point is to quote statistics about food stamp recipients.

As I stated in point #2 above, many needy people are truly needy. Very few conservatives are opposed to helping the disabled, the elderly, or orphans. We also recognize that many able-bodied, hard-working Americans need temporary assistance while looking for work. What we are opposed to is institutionalized long-term handouts to people who can and should be working.

While the statistics Willis quotes are true, they don’t really support her claim that conservatives assume anything.

Food-Stamps-YearlyIn fact, what most conservatives believe is that liberalism is one of the primary causes of poverty in America. An important statistic Willis leaves out of her discussion is the fact that the number of SNAP recipients has nearly doubled under the Obama administration. Conservatives generally do not oppose SNAP or other assistance programs; rather, we oppose the liberal economic policies that have made more widespread assistance a necessity. The decline in unemployment is not due to more people having jobs; it is due to people giving up on finding work. Annual median household income has dropped every year under Obama, according to the US Census Bureau, to a level not seen since 1995, and workforce participation rates have dropped to their lowest levels since the late 1970s. Conservatives, including myself, believe that liberal policies are the reason for these statistics.

Workforce ParticipationI believe that liberal politicians have an economic policy that is designed to deliberately force more middle-class citizens into poverty, while blaming the Republicans. As more people become impoverished, liberals then give them handouts, and take credit for helping the very people their policies hurt in the first place. The end result is more people voting for Democratic candidates, because they have been duped into believing liberal politicians actually care about them. I do NOT believe that everyday liberal citizens believe this is right. I don’t even think they have any idea how liberal economic policies actually work, and if they did, they’d be appalled. And, honestly, I don’t think the Republicans are much better.

I was unemployed for the end of 2012 and most of 2013. Although I was grateful for the government assistance I received during my unemployment, I would much rather have had a job. I blame the Obama administration’s economic policies for making it so difficult to find another job. After 10 months of unemployment, I was forced to take a position in a different industry and occupation than I had previously worked, with a 39% drop in income from my previous job. Again, I blame liberal economic policies for stifling small business growth, which has decreased the number of available jobs, and dropped hourly wages.

Along with most conservatives, I fully support long-term government assistance for the truly needy, as well as temporary assistance for able-bodied workers who can’t find a job. We oppose policies that make it more difficult for small businesses to grow and create more jobs, as well as policies that encourage multi-generational poverty and government dependence for people who can work, but won’t. We do NOT assume all people on assistance are lazy parasites – but, some are, and they need to be encouraged to work their way out of poverty, not given handouts to gain votes.

10. You weren’t concerned about uninsured people– including me.

… I didn’t want a free ride. I was eager to pay for my own insurance. Obamacare opened that door for me and millions of other hard-working Americans and disallows insurance companies from rejecting millions of Americans who were previously rejected. But without even knowing fully what the Affordable Care Act is, you chose the path of ignorance. You didn’t care.

Again, this is a complete misrepresentation of what most conservatives believe. We believe health insurance should be made affordable for all Americans. We also believe Obamacare is an asinine way to accomplish this.

While Obamacare has made health insurance more affordable for the poor and self-employed, costs have skyrocketed for the working middle-class. Mine have gone up significantly. The plan I was on last year was eliminated by my employed, and I was forced onto a plan with much higher deductibles and premiums.

Most conservatives understand that Obamacare has little to do with health insurance, but rather is a scheme to redistribute wealth from the middle and upper classes to the poor.

Two of the main forces driving up medical costs are malpractice insurance and drug costs. Many conservatives, including myself, believe the way to make health care more affordable to everyone, including the poor, would be to limit malpractice lawsuits, and limit patents to drug companies. Obamacare does neither of these, and in fact has driven both costs up even further. Eliminating frivolous malpractice lawsuits and multi-million-dollar payouts would drive down malpractice insurance costs, and limiting drug patents would open drug manufacturing up to competition, driving down costs.

As for opposing Obamacare before we even knew what is was, it was Nancy Pelosi who famously declared, “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”

It isn’t that conservatives aren’t concerned about the uninsured – we are. We just believe Obamacare is a stupid way of dealing with the issue.

 

Items 11-20 and 21-28 of Willis’ list will be addressed in future blogs.

The Logical Fallacy of Requiring Material Evidence to Prove God’s Existence

The following graphic, which I saw on Facebook, sums up the argument I consistently hear from materialistic atheists in their arguments against God.

For many, this seems like a rational requirement. If something is true, there should be scientific evidence to prove it.

However, such a “rule” is actually nonsense. There are logical fallacies involved in requiring the use of the scientific method to prove the existence of God.

Fallacy #1 – It’s totally arbitrary

The first fallacy of requiring empirical scientific evidence to prove God’s existence is that such a requirement is total arbitrary.

When an atheist demands physical evidence for the existence of God, my first response is, “Why? Why is scientific evidence the only acceptable evidence?”

The usual response is, “Because the only way we can know anything is through physical evidence.”

And again, my response is, “Why?” And I usually get a confused stare, like I’m crazy for even asking such a question.

The point is, there is absolutely no logical reason why such a rule should exist – except for the worldview of the materialistic atheist. The materialistic atheist believes that the material world of matter and energy is all that exists. The thought that anything else could exist is absurd to them. However, material atheism is itself completely arbitrary.

Fallacy #2 – Category Error

A category error is “a type of informal fallacy where things that belong to one grouping are mistakenly placed in another,” or where “a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property.” If someone says, “My coffee is a Republican,” they are committing a category error – coffee cannot be a Republican. Only people can be Republicans. Coffee does not belong to the category of things capable of being a Republican.

The Biblical God is not a material Being. He is not part of the natural universe. By definition, God is supernatural (super- “Above; over;” natural “Present in or produced by nature”). God is in an entirely different category than the natural universe. When one demands physical evidence for the existence of a non-physical Being, they are committing a category error fallacy. It would be like demanding DNA evidence for the existence of black holes, or asking for a test tube full of consciousness, or trying to put time in a bottle.

Fallacy #3 – It’s self-refuting

What do I mean by saying this rule is self-refuting? Basically, this rule, when applied to itself, contradicts itself.

First, the rule requires “empirical results of repeatable experimentation.” There is no way to conduct a repeatable experiment to empirically test whether “empirical results of repeatable experimentation” are required to argue for the supernatural. One cannot use the rule to test the validity of the rule.

Second, the rule requires “cogent, non-fallacious argumentation.” Yet, as I’ve already demonstrated, the rule itself is fallacious.

Fallacy #4 – Even when the rule is met, material atheists ignore the evidence

This fallacy isn’t with the rule itself, per se, but with the way atheists handle the scientific evidence that does support God’s existence.

There is a tremendous amount of “empirical results of repeatable experimentation” and much “cogent, non-fallacious argumentation” that supports the existence of God. The sheer volume of such evidence makes it impossible to present these evidences in this brief blog. A simple Google search will bring up tens of thousands of articles, peer-reviewed papers, and Websites that present the scientific arguments for God. My point is, when confronted with these evidences, the materialistic atheist will reject it anyway. Why? Because to acknowledge the validity of scientific evidence for the existence of God would completely shatter the material atheist’s entire worldview. They would be forced to face the fact that they are wrong. In other words, the material atheist cannot objectively examine scientific evidence that is presented; they must deny it, not because it isn’t scientific, but because it leads to conclusions they don’t want to acknowledge. Romans 1:18 states, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Those that reject God must suppress, or hide, the truth. Romans 1 continues:

19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Those who reject God ultimately do so, not because of a lack of evidence, but because they foolishly refuse to submit to His authority over their lives. The issue is not evidence; the issue is rebellion.

Christians need to continue to present the Gospel to non-Christians, including materialistic atheists. We must continually pray for the lost, be prepared to present cogent arguments when needed, and rely on the Holy Spirit to us to reach the lost. We must not be swayed by the fallacious arguments used to deny God, but must stand on the truth of God’s Word as the foundation of our beliefs.

Grabbed this off Facebook a couple of minutes after I posted this blog. It seemed to fit.

Pushing People Out of the Church – Part 5

A while back, I read an article entitled, “8 Ways Christian Fundamentalists Make People Convert — to Agnosticism or Atheism,” published by skeptic Valerie Tarico on the left-wing, anti-religion, news-and-commentary website Alternet.org

While most of the articles on this site are either offensive or just plain silly, this article caught my interest, because it contains some truths that Christians need to understand.

People who reject Jesus Christ ultimately do so because they choose to suppress the truth (Romans 1:18-19). However, there are also many things that those in the church do to push people away. As Tarico states, “if you read ExChristian testimonials you will notice that quite often church leaders or members do things that either trigger the deconversion process or help it along.”

I’ve found that I can often learn a lot by listening to what skeptics say about their perceptions of Christianity. This series looks at the eight reasons Tarico highlights.

Reason #5: Disgusting and Immoral Behavior

The priest abuse scandal did more for the New Atheist movement than outspoken anti-theists like Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great) , Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) , Sam Harris (The End of Faith ) or Bill Maher (Religulous) ever could. To make matters worse (or better, depending on your point of view) Bill Donohue of the Catholic League seems to be doing everything possible to fan those flames: On top of the abuse itself, followed by cover-ups, he is now insisting that the best defense of church property is a good offense against the victims, and has vowed to fight them “one by one.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation publishes a bi-monthly newspaper that includes a regular feature: The Black Collar Crime Blotter. It features fraud, drug abuse, sex crimes and more by Protestant as well as Catholic clergy. The obvious purpose is to move readers from religion isn’t true to religion isn’t benign to religion is abhorrent and needs fighting. Moral outrage is a powerful emotion.

The Fallacy of Using Morality as an Argument Against God

answersingenesis.org

For the atheist, life exists purely as the result of chance mutations occurring within a chemical soup. People, trees, bacteria, and frogs are nothing more than complex chemical reactions. Morality is nothing more than just another biochemical process. Within an atheistic worldview, there is no basis for determining value for anything aside from human opinion. Morality cannot logically exist for the atheist. Good and evil cannot possibly exist within a universe that defines everything by chance. In an atheistic belief system, only human preference can define standards of right and wrong and such preferences may shift from person to person and culture to culture. For an atheist to argue that anything is immoral is irrational from an atheistic worldview.

Yet, atheists do believe in absolute morality. They do believe that certain actions are absolutely wrong, and others are absolutely right. Why? Because that’s how reality works. In the real world, absolute right and wrong do exist. The atheist must accept the existence of moral absolutes in order to function in reality, despite the fact that absolute morality cannot logically exist in their worldview.

Morality can only exist if there is an absolute standard of right and wrong. Atheism has no such absolute standard. Such an absolute standard can exist only because the absolute God exists. Atheists cannot acknowledge this; they must believe in absolute morality without acknowledging the Absolute basis for such a belief. Such a belief is irrational and illogical, yet they cling to it, because they refuse to acknowledge God.

Christian Immorality

Although the argument is irrational from the atheistic worldview, Tarico makes a valid point. Immoral behavior by Christians is a serious roadblock for many to receive the Gospel. Although it’s true that many of the examples cited by atheists involve people who aren’t true Christians, many examples do involve true believers. When Christians sin, non-believers notice. And, since all Christians sin, non-believers are going to see Christians do some horrible things.

How should Christians respond to this?

  1. We need to understand that what makes us Christians is not our superior morality. What makes us Christians is reconciliation with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Our sin separates us from God; the righteousness of Jesus Christ restores our relationship. It’s not our morality; it’s all Jesus. Not only do we need to understand this truth, but we need to make sure both the non-believers and other Christians in our lives understand this as well.
  2. We need to live our lives in obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When we do sin, we need to repent. We need to be transparent about our sin, and sincere in our repentance. Those around us will see our sin; they need to see the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we overcome the sin.
  3. We need to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters, especially those in leadership roles. We need to pray for strength to avoid temptation and sin, and we need to pray for sincere repentance when sin occurs.
  4. We need to hold each other accountable, especially our Christian leaders. When sin becomes known, we need to hold each other accountable for that sin, and for repentance.

Nobody likes a hypocrite. Christians claim that Jesus Christ makes a difference in our lives. When non-believers see Christians embrace sin, it seems reasonable to see the hypocrisy as negation of the claim that Jesus Christ changes lives. We need to be honest about our shortcomings, and absolutely not view sin as acceptable. We need to allow others to see the Holy Spirit working in our lives. We will never be perfect; but when we fall short, we need to humbly do whatever is necessary to remedy the situation.

There are many people, both inside and outside of the church, who are undecided about where they stand in relation to Jesus Christ. Our job is to allow the Holy Spirit to use us to draw people toward Him, not to push people away. How we respond to sin is a major factor in whether we push people away, or draw them toward Jesus Christ.

Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church Part 5

The Barna Group, a leading Christian research and resource company that focuses on the intersection of faith and culture, published the article last September entitled, “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church.” This is the fifth in a series of articles in which I give my take on Barna’s conclusions.

Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today’s youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion felt they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.” One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).

Most younger Americans have been taught to embrace relativism.  According to thefreedictionary.com, relativism is “a theory, especially in ethics or aesthetics, that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.”  In other words, what’s true for you may not be true for me, and we are to accept all views as equally valid.  Absolute, universal truth does not exist.

First, to claim that “absolute, universal truth does not exist” is self-contradictory, because the statement itself claims to be absolute, universal truth.  But, this is irrelevant to those who hold to this philosophy, because it’s true for them, even if it’s illogical for others!  Relativism leads to absurdity of thought; but, relativists don’t care if it’s absurd, because it’s not absurd to them.  Which is absurd, and gives me a headache.

The point is, our young people have been indoctrinated with a philosophy which holds that all religious viewpoints are equally valid.  Mormonism, Hinduism, Communism, Islam, Wicca, and atheism are just as valid and “true” as Christianity, despite the fact that the claims of each of these worldviews are vastly different and mutually exclusive.  All worldviews are equally valid, and all must be accepted as truth; otherwise, we are being “intolerant” and “hateful.”

This totally contradicts the Biblical view.  In John 14:6, Jesus stated, ““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus also stated in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  In Acts 4:12, Peter, speaking of Jesus, stated, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  There is no relativism in Christianity; there is only one truth, and all other viewpoints are false.

What can the church do to reach those with a relativistic worldview with the exclusive message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Almost a third of the young people surveyed stated that “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths.”  This is probably true, although it shouldn’t be.  Christians should not operate from fear, but from love.  1 John 4:18-19 states, “18 there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.” Rather than fearing other religions and worldviews, the church should face them head-on, in love.  We should be teaching our young people what other religions believe, why these beliefs are wrong, and how to reach people with other worldviews with the love of Jesus Christ.  Rather than fearing people of other faiths, we need to embrace the opportunity to share Jesus, and the church needs to teach this to our young believers.

Three out of every ten surveyed stated that they feel “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.”  Again, this should not be.  Young believers need to be taught to defend their faith (1 Peter 3:15) and share it with their friends.  Christians should not live isolated from non-Christians, but need to develop relationships with non-believers in order to have opportunities to lead them to a relationship with Christ.  I do understand that there are times when young, spiritually immature Christians may need to separate themselves from the influences of non-Christians, lest they be tempted and fall away from the faith.  However, if the church did a better job of discipling and equipping new Christians to grow in their faith, and to defend it, this would be far less of a problem.  And yes, we are forced to choose between faith in Jesus Christ, and faith in the world.  Again, the church needs to do a better job of encouraging, teaching, and equipping young Christians to grow to spiritual maturity.

The fact that 22% of those surveyed said, “church is like a country club, only for insiders,” is a serious indictment against the church.  Jesus commanded us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”  This isn’t a suggestion, or a recommendation – it’s a commandment.  And, too many churches do not take this commandment seriously.  No wonder so many young Christians see the church as hypocritical, and decide to leave.  In the song “My Jesus” by Todd Agnew, there’s a part that says:

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despised the proud
I think He’d prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd

How many of us actually reach out to the lost, hurting, “different” people around us?  Or, are we afraid of them, or too arrogant to care?

The message of the Gospel is exclusive.  John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Eternal life is exclusive to those who believe on Jesus Christ; those who do not believe are destined to Hell.   This is the message we need to help young people to understand.  There aren’t many ways to get to heaven; there is only one way, Jesus Christ.  This is the message the church must teach, but more importantly, it is the message we need to learn to live.

CHRISTIAN:  Does your life demonstrate the exclusive nature of your relationship with Jesus Christ, in a fearless, loving way that will attract others to the Gospel?

My Philosophy of Ministry

1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear

This is probably my favorite verse in the Bible.  This verse sums up what I believe my calling from God in ministry is to be.  There is a tremendous amount of truth packed in this verse, so I’d like to break it down, so my readers can understand the power it contains.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…

The word “sanctify” comes from the Greek word hagaizo, and it means to set aside, make holy, consecrate, or purify.  Other translations render it as revere (NIV) or honor as holy (ESV).  The phrase tells us that we must begin by keeping God in His proper place as the center and focus of our hearts and lives.  This is impossible unless we first have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  God cannot be sanctified in a person’s heart unless he or she has first been reconciled with God by receiving forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Salvation through trusting Christ is the first step in the life-long process of growing in our relationship with Him.  Submitting our minds and wills to God’s authority is something we must learn to consistently strive toward, and making God our highest priority is part of that process.

…and always be ready…

The word always means, “all the time; continuously; uninterruptedly.”  The word ready means, “completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use” (Dictionary.com).  So, for us to “always be ready” means that we are be in an uninterrupted state of complete preparedness;  to be in a continuously fit condition; and be ready for immediate action all the time. Such a state implies deliberate and extensive preparation.  The Boy Scout motto, be prepared, is a motto that Christians should adopt as well.  As a soldier prepares for battle, or an athlete trains for competition, so we must prepare ourselves for the work God commands us to do.

…to give a defense…

The Greek word apologia means “speech in defense of a reasoned statement or argument” (BibleStudyTools.com). It is the root of the English word apologetics.  It is a term that describes what a lawyer might do to defend the innocence of their client.  We are to do more than just tell people about the truth; we are to defend the truth. We are to give rational reasons and arguments for why we believe and act as we do.

…to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…

As Christians, what is the hope that is within us?  It is the hope of Jesus Christ.  It the hope we have because God has demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  It is the hope that through the blood of Jesus Christ, we are fully reconciled to God.  It is the hope that through the Resurrection, we have a future life in eternal fellowship with our Creator and King.  It is this hope we must always be prepared to defend to everyone we come into contact with.

…with meekness and fear

This phrase is often overlooked, but I believe it is probably the most important, if we want those with whom we interact to actually hear what we’re saying.  It’s also the part I struggle with the most.  Other Bible versions translate this phrase as “with gentleness and respect.”  It means we must not argue arrogantly, or try to cram the truth down people’s throats.  Our attitudes, both before other men and before God, must be one of humility, honesty, and love.  The most eloquent, rational defense of the Christian faith will mean little to most people, if they can’t see in our lives the way God is changing us and transforming us to His Image.  The goal is not to win an argument, but to be used by God to radically change the hearts, souls, and minds of those around us.

This is what I believe God has called me to do:  to set God apart in my heart; to continuously be prepared to rationally defend the Gospel to everyone I have contact with; and to do so with the right attitude.  Although I still have much work to do, this is what I am working toward, and what I am called to help others work toward attaining.

The Absurdity of the Alternative

For a brief time in my mid-teens, I became an atheist.  I did not believe that an unseen, unprovable God could exist.

What finally convinced me that God does exist is the absurdity of the alternative.

If there is no God, then the entire universe created itself, from absolutely nothing, for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  A random, uncaused Big Bang of nothingness caused everything.  And this is far more absurd than believing, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Think through the absurdity of the following implications of atheism and the Big Bang:

  1.  All of the matter and energy in the entire universe – billions of galaxies – came from absolutely nothing.
  2.  The laws of nature, math, and logic – those absolute, universal constants that bring order to the universe – were accidentally caused by a ginormous explosion.  Explosions should cause randomness, not order.
  3. Nothingness shouldn’t explode.  And nothingness shouldn’t cause everything.
  4. Intelligence came by chance from non-intelligence.
  5. Consciousness came by chance from unconsciousness.
  6. All of the information in the universe, from DNA codes to Shakespeare, is a result of chance.
  7. All of the things that make us human – our thoughts, emotions, morality, reasoning, loves, hopes, and dreams – are not real; they are just random, chance chemical reactions, and came from nothingness.

If God does not exist, matter and energy should not exist; the laws of nature, math, and logic should not exist; intelligence and consciousness should not exist; information should not exist; and humanity should not exist.  Yet, they do exist.

If not God, then what?  God must exist; the alternative is absurd and preposterous.