Tag Archives: Ignorance

How well are Democrat Party policies working out in socialist Europe?

Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com
Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com

Last night, I watched the Democrat debate, and I saw a bunch of people “solve” all of the worlds problems with their hand-waving and happy-talk. Almost no evidence for the effectiveness of any policy was offered, and rarely did anyone pointed to numbers showing that their past actions had succeeded.

At one point, the King of the Clowns Bernie Sanders pointed to Denmark as proof that his socialist ideas would all work.

So I thought we might take a quick look at see how socialism is doing in Denmark, and in Europe more generally.

This is from the government-run news media in Canada, the CBC.

They write:

More than a quarter of Japan’s citizens are at least 65, making it the world’s fastest aging country. In Canada, about 16.1 per cent of us are seniors.

Right now in Japan, there’s a higher demand for adult diapers than children’s diapers, economist Michael Moffatt says, a “stunning statistic” that illustrates one of the main reasons why the country’s economy has been treading water for the better part of two decades.

“They haven’t been able to find a way to get their economy to grow in a significant way while still being able to support an older population,” the Richard Ivey School of Business professor said.

Japan’s GDP has grown at an average rate of 1.3 per cent for the past 25 years, according to the World Bank, dropping from averages of more than five per cent annual growth in earlier decades.

Yes, that’s because Japan’s solution to economic growth has been the Democrat solution: stimulus spending, massive borrowing, low (and decreasing) interest rates. It’s Obamanomics, and guess what? It doesn’t work there, either.

More:

Sweden and Denmark are the “places we need to turn to,” Foot said, in crafting economic and health policy to manage the shift in demographics. While the countries take different approaches, they all focus on health care, offering programs akin to pharmacare or following up with seniors in their homes after a visit to the hospital.

And while Sweden’s residents are not collectively older than Japan’s, about a quarter of the country’s 9.5 million residents are at least 60, according to Global Age Watch.

The public purse covers most home-care and long-term care in both Sweden and Denmark.

Unsurprisingly, they are among the highest taxed countries in the European Union, according to Eurostat. In 2013, Sweden topped the list, while in 2014 it was Denmark.

Policy-makers in Canada will have to make similar choices when it comes to taxes, Foot said, arguing more tax revenue will be needed, although there may be alternative ways of collecting it.

Foot said Ottawa and the provinces could look at taxing different sources, like foreign exchange or stock market transactions.

“If the state or government doesn’t step in, we’ll see poverty rise amongst our senior population,” he said. “We’ll go back to the days when poverty rates in that population were upwards of 30 per cent.”

So, massive government intervention in the free market in the areas of health care has not actually helped them, it has hurt them. And what happens to marriage rates and birth rates when you take 50-70% of a man’s salary? Does it make him start a business and hire other people? Does it make him want to marry? Does it make him want to have children? Are men happy when their wives are forced to work, and when their children are taught by public school teachers and monitored by government social workers? Do men like it when they pay taxes to other people to decide what their family will amount to and what their children will believe? Big government has a corrupting influence on character, turning people away from marriage, family and work.

The Democrat candidates in the debate want to turn us into Greece. They assume (somewhat naively) that all other behaviors will remain constant as they ramp up government spending and then borrow and tax to pay for it. But anyone who thinks about the problem for more than 5 seconds can see that businesses and individuals do not keep on doing what they were doing when spending and taxes increase. To be a Democrat is to not understand basic economics. It is to persist in childhood, having tantrums, ignoring how incentives change for everyone who is affected by childish policies.

Maybe the CBC is too conservative… let’s go to the BBC, they are hard leftists. What does the BBC say?

They say this:

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel is fond of repeating, the EU accounts for just 7% of the world’s population and a quarter of its gross domestic product (GDP) but as much as half of its welfare spending.

[…]Social expenditure per person in the EU in 2012 (the most recent year available, using a harmonised definition) was €7,600 (£5,540), but with a range from €18,900 (£13,800) in Luxembourg to just €927 (£675) in Bulgaria. The UK figure was €8,700 (£6,340).

Interestingly, average EU spending per citizen is almost the same as in the United States and well below that in Switzerland, after adjusting for price differences. Typically, poverty relief, health and pensions are much the biggest components of welfare spending, whereas unemployment benefits cost relatively less.

Sounds like a Democrat paradise, right? This is the Holy Grail to socialists like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

More:

Over the past 15 years, the average fertility rate (children per woman) in the EU has been 1.54, ranging from barely over 1.3 in Hungary and Spain, and 1.36 in Germany, to 1.8 in the UK and just under two in Ireland, France and Sweden.

According to the “main scenario” of the latest Eurostat population projections, Germany’s population has already started to shrink and is expected to fall from 82 million in 2013 to 74 million by 2050.

Well, wait now. Democrats told me that if we just nationalize everything that the private sector does, and raise tax rates on job creators and investors, and make all the women get out of their homes and work like men, and criminalize homeschooling, and marginalize Christianity, and abort the next generation of workers, and pay single mothers welfare to raise future criminals, and enact no-fault divorce to get men out of the homes, and teach children to have premarital sex at age 12 so that men get sex without having to marry first, then men and women would just be as interested in starting businesses, working hard, getting married and parenting as they were before? Are you telling me that letting the government control everything, and taking most of what people earn to pay for it, actually discourages people from starting businesses, working, marrying and having kids? Who is going to pay for all these expensive social programs, then?

And this is what Democrats hold up as perfection – heaven on Earth. Instead of closing their eyes to reality and wishing we were Europe, why don’t they actually look at Europe first? And maybe take a first-year course in economics.

Health premiums up $4,865 since Obama promised to lower them $2,500

Should we pick a candidate based on our emotional response to his confidence?
Should we pick a candidate based on our emotional response to his confidence?

Barack Obama had a lot of confident words and personal charisma during his campaign speeches in 2008. Many young people want to believe that their positive emotional reaction to confident words will somehow make plans “work out”. But can you really compel the universe to give you goodies just by having positive feelings? Does your emotional response to handsome looks and confident words mean that somehow the universe will give you what you desire?

I want to use this article from Investors Business Daily to illustrate the importance of not picking a President based on confident words and personal charisma.

It says:

Employer-based health insurance premiums climbed 4.2% this year for family plans, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation report. That’s up from 3% the year before.

Since 2008, average family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865.

The White House cheered the news, saying it was a sign of continued slow growth in premium costs.

[…]”We will start,” Obama said back in 2008, “by reducing premiums by as much as $2,500 per family.”

That $2,500 figure was Obama’s mantra on health care. You can watch the video if you don’t believe it.

And Obama wasn’t talking about government subsidized insurance or expanding Medicaid or anything like that. He specifically focused on employer provided health care.

For “people who already have insurance, and the employers who are providing it,” he said at one campaign event, “we will work to lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family.”

Let’s watch the video. I want everyone to see how confident a clown can sound when he lies about being able to solve problems that he knows nothing about.

He had no record of achievement in this area. None, Zero, Zip. And the same goes for his claims about keeping your doctor, keeping your health care plan, and so on.

But America voted to elect him. There were a lot of voters who did not want to think too hard about economics in 2008, and again in 2012. They did not want to have to put in any work to study the achievements of the candidate in the area of health care policy, to see if he had actually done anything to reduce health care premiums. They had a problem: health care costs are too high. A charismatic clown stepped forward and made their fears go away with confident talk. They made a decision to believe him. They wanted to believe that serious problems could be solved by the words of a charismatic clown, so that they would then be saved from having to evaluate the records of the candidates, to see which of them had put in place policies that had solved similar problems in their past. That’s too much work for the American voter. Better to just pick the one who seems to be able to solve the problem based on surface qualities, like confident words that produce emotional reactions. The universe will adjust because we have a positive attitude.

This is an attitude that no practical engineer like me could take. It’s a recipe for disaster. Nothing important in life – from designing e-commerce web sites, to developing cures to sickness, to constructing jet fighters – is conducted in such a stupid, emotional way.

Now, I’m pretty angry that two of my candidates, Rick Perry and Scott Walker, are out of the 2016 election. And why? Because an unqualified leftist clown is ruining the process with brash, insulting confident talk. Again, we are dealing with a clown who has no record of actual problem-solving in the areas where the American people need problems solved.

This article from Investors Business Daily explains:

Which of these two sounds like someone on an ego trip, someone content to let the Middle East go up in flames and, like Barack Obama, someone overconfident in his own abilities to persuade others? And which sounds like he would practice the sober, principled foreign policy of Ronald Reagan as president?

Yet it is the latter, Scott Walker, who was just forced to drop out of the race, the reality TV star front-runner having sucked so much air out of the room that it was becoming impossible to survive. He laudably called it his patriotic duty to depart, thus consolidating the opposition to Trump.

Walker is one of the most successful governors in the country, having brought unemployment down from over 8% to about 4.5%, and turning Big Labor’s targeting him for destruction into three successive electoral victories in a blue state.

A week ago a governor with a longer record of accomplishment, in a state Americans are flocking to for its vibrant jobs-rich economy, was also forced to drop out. In doing so, Rick Perry of Texas made a statement affirming his rock-ribbed commitment to free-market principles, traditional values and a strong America on the world stage.

Perry and Walker are both leaders of substance. Eight years of the inexperienced, self-obsessed Obama had many Republicans concerned about 2016 looking to the governors’ mansions for someone with a proven track record of actually solving crises and reversing misguided big-government policies. These two may have been the most accomplished figures in the nation in that regard. How is it that they are early dropouts?

Political journalists are having a ball dissecting the ins and outs of fundraising and styles of campaign managing to explain Walker and Perry’s exit. But there is no ignoring the 800-pound loudmouth in the room.

In Donald Trump, the left’s caricature of conservatism — the bombast, the misogyny, the hype-above-substance — is defeating the real thing.

I do hiring interviews in my company. I always make sure to ask questions to test the claims on the candidate’s resume. It’s not hard to find out whether a person knows how to do what they claim to know how to do. Many of the people who show up for interviews try to finesse their way through engineering questions with confident talk, and emotional appeals. We don’t hire them. Why is it so hard for the American people to understand what is at stake here?

Why Christian parents get nervous about evidence when discussing Christianity

Homeschooling mother Dr. Lydia McGrew explains why Bible-believing Christians are uneasy with the use of evidence on her blog What’s Wrong With The World. (H/T Eric Chabot)

Excerpt:

4) The idea that, if a young person gets deeply interested in Christian evidence, he will go out on the Internet (or at his public high school or secular college) seeking giants to slay and will get overwhelmed. Again, this worry has merit as a sociological matter. That can certainly happen.

That is why we should say loud and clear to Christians interested in this topic: Don’t do that! What do I mean? Just this: Being committed to investigating the evidence for Christianity does not mean that one has to find out every possible thing that anyone has ever said about or against Christianity and know the answer to it. That would be impossible because of the sheer bulk of (ultimately unpersuasive) objections which skeptics can bring up as though they were real problems.

In this context the words of George Horne, an 18th century bishop, from his Letters on Infidelity, are wise and helpful. (Emphasis added.)

In the thirty sections of their pamphlet, they have produced a list of difficulties to be met with in reading the Old and New Testament. Had I been aware of their design, I could have enriched the collection with many more, at least as good, if not a little better. But they have compiled, I dare say, what they deemed the best, and, in their own opinion, presented us with the essence of infidelity in a thumb-phial, the very fumes of which, on drawing the cork, are to strike the bench of bishops dead at once. Let not the unlearned Christian be alarmed, “as though some strange thing had happened to him,” and modern philosophy had discovered arguments to demolish religion, never heard of before. The old ornaments of deism have been “broken off” upon this occasion, “and cast into the fire, and there came out this calf.” These same difficulties have been again and again urged and discussed in public; again and again weighed and considered by learned and sensible men, of the laity as well as the clergy, who have by no means been induced by them to renounce their faith.

[snip]

Many and painful are the researches sometimes necessary to be made, for settling points of that kind. Pertness and ignorance may ask a question in three lines, which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to answer. When this is done, the same question shall be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written upon the subject.

And a bit later:

5) The unspoken fear that Christianity cannot stand up to scrutiny and doesn’t really have good evidential support.

Here I do not blame the parents, but not because I share the unspoken fear. I do not blame them, because in most cases no one has ever taught them otherwise. How many pastors and priests have really taught apologetics to their congregations, or even offered such studies as an option? Too few. How many courses on sharing your faith have explicitly taught people not to get involved in responding to questions and objections but just to “share their experience” because “no one can argue with that”? Too many. It’s no wonder then that the congregation comes away with the sneaking suspicion that our Christian faith is no better grounded than Mormonism and that we, like they, must depend chiefly on the burning in the bosom.

And one can always push the blame further back. Perhaps the pastors weren’t taught Christian evidences at their seminaries.

In fact, I would not be surprised if all too many theologians who give high-falutin’ rationalizations for being anti-evidentialist are actually making a virtue out of what they deem to be a necessity. Since they don’t think Christian faith is founded on fact, they might as well make up some profound-sounding theological theory that tells us that it shouldn’t be.

When Nathanael asks Philip, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip simply says, “Come and see.” (John 1:46) And he brings him to Jesus. If you as a parent or mentor to the young are opposed to the study of Christian evidences partly because deep down you suspect that they aren’t very good, I can only say to you as well, “Come and see.”

I blogged about this tendency of church leaders to make a virtue out of laziness and ignorance before.

Here’s a snip:

Suppose a pastor or campus group leader wants to avoid having to learn physics and cosmology, or the minimum facts case for the resurrection, or how to respond to apparently gratuitous suffering, or the problem of religious pluralism. Suppose he thinks that Christianity, if it is about anything, is about his feeling happy and comfortable with a minimum of effort and work. So, he diligently avoids reading apologetics, because learning evidence is hard work. He avoids watching debates on God’s existence and the resurrection, because this is hard work. He avoids conversations with people who do study these things, and implies that there is something wrong with them for studying these things. He endeavors to conceal his laziness and ignorance and cowardice from his flock with much pious God-talk and fervent praise-hymn-singing.

Eventually, some member of his church asks him to go for lunch with an actual non-Christian family member. The pastor agrees and when he meets the unbelieving family member, he has nothing at all to say about typical challenges that unbelievers face. He has no knowledge of evolution, the problem of evil, the hiddenness of God, or the hallucination theory. He has never read a single atheist, and never read a single piece of evidence to refute them from Christian scholars. He lacks humility, refusing to admit that other Christian scholars may know more than he does because they have studied other areas. Needless to say, he fails to defend God’s reputation to the non-Christian. What will he say to the members of his flock about his failure? How will he justify his obstinate refusal to do what everyone else in the Bible does when confronting non-believers?

Well, consider this review of a recent book that defends the Gospels and the historicity of the resurrection by one such fideist pastor.

He writes:

There are, however, two significant shortcomings to the book.

First, Cold-Case Christianity places far too much emphasis on the role of extrabiblical sources. No doubt there is a legitimate role for biblical archaeology and extrabiblical writing from antiquity. Christianity is, after all, a faith firmly rooted in human history. But there is a grave danger when truth is suspended because of an apparent lack of corroboration from extrabiblical sources. And Wallace, I’m afraid, wanders too close to this dark side of apologetics.

All of chapter 12, for instance, is devoted to proving the Gospels have external corroborative evidence—“evidence that are independent of the Gospel documents yet verify the claims of the text” (183). Wallace then addresses the historicity of the pool of Bethesda and makes another worrying statement: “For many years, there was no evidence for such a place outside of John’s Gospel. Because Christianity makes historical claims, archaeology ought to be a tool we can use to see if these claims are, in fact, true” (201-202, emphasis added).

In other words, Wallace seems to suggest we cannot affirm the truth of the Gospel accounts without the stamp of approval from archaeology and other extrabiblical sources. Such reasoning is dangerous, not least because it cannot affirm the inerrancy of the Bible. But also, it places the final court of appeal in the realm of extrabiblical sources rather than of God’s all-sufficient, all-powerful Word.

That is a textbook definition of fideism – that belief is somehow more pious and praiseworthy the less evidence we have. And the best way to have less evidence is to study nothing at all, but to just make a leap-of-faith in the dark. Of course, a leap-of-faith can land you anywhere – Islam, Mormonism. Presumably this pastor is like the Mormons who eschew all evidence and prefer to detect the truth of Mormonism by “the burning of the bosom” which happens when people read the all-sufficient, all-powerful Book of Mormon. His view of faith is identical to theirs, and 180 degrees opposed to the Bible. He has made his leap-of-faith, and that leap-of-faith is not accountable to arguments and evidence. His faith is private and personal, based on his own feelings. He considers it blasphemous to have to demonstrate what he believes to those who disagree with him. Where is this in the Bible? It’s nowhere. But it is everywhere in anti-intellectual Christian circles.

[…]I think that Christians are much better off following the example of authentic Christian pastors like R.C. Sproul, who, in a conference on evangelism, invited Dr. Stephen C. Meyer to present multiple lines of evidence from mainstream science to establish the existence of God. The only reason not to take this approach is laziness, which leads to ignorance, which leads to cowardice. And failure. It is pastors like Pastor Bungle above who are responsible for the great falling away from Christianity that we are seeing when we look at young people. Pastors who pride themselves in refusing to connecting the Bible to the real world, with evidence and with policy analysis, are causing young people to abandon the faith.

I think that many people who reject Christianity can point to a general impression that they got from Pastor Bungle and his ilk that faith is somehow different from other areas of knowledge and that it was morally praise worthy to insulate faith from critical thinking and evidence. Pastor Bungle could never justify his view by using the Bible, but a lot of church leaders have that view regardless of whether it’s Biblical or not.

The really troubling thing that I see again and again in the church is when pastors base all of their opposition to behaviors like abortion and gay marriage on Christianity. This effectively makes it impossible to do anything about these issues in the public square, because Christians are then taught to have nothing persuasive to say on these issues to non-Christians. It’s like pastors are more interested in striking a pious pose with their congregations instead of studying secular arguments and evidence so they can equip Christians to actually solve the problem.

Review of evidential apologetics book by pastor shows where church needs to improve

Theology that hits the spot
Theology that hits the spot

Whenever I talk to Christians, I find that they hold one of two views about what faith is.

The first view of faith is the Biblical view of faith as active trust in propositions we know to be true, because we have reasons and evidence to believe those propositions. This view is not only rooted in the Bible, but it extends through Augustine and Aquinas to the present day. I have written about this view of faith before, and quoted many theologians in support of it. In the Bible, people use miracles as a sign in order to convince skeptics. For example, Peter appeals to the resurrection in Acts 2. The Bible teaches that faith is active trusting based on evidence.

The second view is blind faith. This view is nowhere in the Bible, and this view asserts that becoming a Christian is a leap-of-faith in the dark against all the evidence. This view not only minimizes evidence, but it actually opposes presenting evidence to unbelievers and skeptics in the way that the Bible teaches. This view is nowhere in the Bible, and it was not the method used by Jesus or his followers. It is an unBiblical way of viewing faith, but it is very popular in some circles of Christianity. It is also popular among atheists, because this is what many Christian leaders and pastors tell them that faith is.

Consider this review of a recent book that defends the Gospels and the historicity of the resurrection by one such fideist pastor.

He writes:

There are, however, two significant shortcomings to the book.

First, Cold-Case Christianity places far too much emphasis on the role of extrabiblical sources. No doubt there is a legitimate role for biblical archaeology and extrabiblical writing from antiquity. Christianity is, after all, a faith firmly rooted in human history. But there is a grave danger when truth is suspended because of an apparent lack of corroboration from extrabiblical sources. And Wallace, I’m afraid, wanders too close to this dark side of apologetics.

All of chapter 12, for instance, is devoted to proving the Gospels have external corroborative evidence—“evidence that are independent of the Gospel documents yet verify the claims of the text” (183). Wallace then addresses the historicity of the pool of Bethesda and makes another worrying statement: “For many years, there was no evidence for such a place outside of John’s Gospel. Because Christianity makes historical claims, archaeology ought to be a tool we can use to see if these claims are, in fact, true” (201-202, emphasis added).

In other words, Wallace seems to suggest we cannot affirm the truth of the Gospel accounts without the stamp of approval from archaeology and other extrabiblical sources. Such reasoning is dangerous, not least because it cannot affirm the inerrancy of the Bible. But also, it places the final court of appeal in the realm of extrabiblical sources rather than of God’s all-sufficient, all-powerful Word.

That is a textbook definition of fideism – that belief is somehow more pious and praiseworthy the less evidence we have. And the best way to have less evidence is to study nothing at all, but to just make a leap-of-faith in the dark. Of course, a leap-of-faith can land you anywhere – Islam, Mormonism. Presumably this pastor is like the Mormons who eschew all evidence and prefer to detect the truth of Mormonism by “the burning of the bosom” which happens when people read the all-sufficient, all-powerful Book of Mormon. His view of faith is identical to theirs, and 180 degrees opposed to the Bible. He has made his leap-of-faith, and that leap-of-faith is not accountable to arguments and evidence. His faith is private and personal, based on his own feelings. He considers it blasphemous to have to demonstrate what he believes to those who disagree with him. Where is this in the Bible? It’s nowhere. But it is everywhere in anti-intellectual Christian circles.

There is a good response to this blind-faith pastor on Deeper Waters. Much less angry than my response.

Excerpt:

The dark side of apologetics? Did I somehow step into a Star Wars universe?

Yes. How horrible to show that the Bible is backed up by sources outside of it. How terrible to show that these events did not happen in a vacuum. Thankfully, no one in the Bible took this approach.

Except for the fact that when the gospel was being preached, there were no gospels per se and there were no epistles. Paul told Agrippa that the events done weren’t done in a corner. In other words, investigate the claims for yourself! The early testimony was eyewitness testimony. Sources like Tacitus and others show the eyewitnesses were right! This was not done in a corner! This was done out in the open! Archaeology helps us confirm the biblical writings and shows that unlike the pagan myths, these events were rooted in a place and time. Is there some danger that our faith will be destroyed by outside sources?

It really becomes a fideistic approach. If your worldview is true, you should have no problem putting it to the strictest scrutiny. If it is not, then you will have a problem. No Christian should fear further research into what they believe. No Christian should have a problem with extra-biblical sources. Now I do agree there is a problem with stating that EVERYTHING must be backed extra-biblically. I think this is a prejudice we too often have where nothing in the Bible can be considered historical unless it’s verified somewhere else. A gospel account alone could count as a historical claim itself that can be investigated, and indeed is in NT scholarship, but where we can get extra-biblical evidence, I’m all for it.

[…]Christianity is a faith that is rooted in evidences so we should be able to use evidences to demonstrate it. I have often been told by those of the presuppositional bent that the approach is used all the time in the Bible. The problem is I can’t find one. I get told passages like “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Yes. It is. Wisdom refers to godly living. It doesn’t refer to confirming the gospel to be true. When I look at the apostles in every case, I see them pointing to evidences.

It is pastors like Pastor Bungle above who are responsible for the great falling away from Christianity that we are seeing when we look at young people. We need pastors who connect the claims of the Christian worldview to evidence.

Should you not teach your kids apologetics because “God is in control”?

I spotted this comment on Natasha Crain’s blog from someone who disagreed with her on training your kids to learn how to defend their faith.

The commenter “Hope” wrote this:

Because this is a blog you are no doubt restricted by trying to be concise and focused on one thought and, for the most part, in the midst of a dialogue with the people (like me) following your blogs…but in reading this out loud to others who are not following your blog, some things were pointed out that I might have noticed otherwise and thought I would mention.

First, thank you for the few tools in trying to help us with our children/grandchildren.

Here are some things we all must remember:

Everything hinges on God, who is the one ultimately in control. It does not hinge on our eloquence, finesse, or intellectual prowess. We can do everything right (or wrong) and still two identically raised children may go into extremely diverse directions.

Our children and grandchildren make their own personal choices.

The greatest tool we do have…even once the kids leave the nest, is PRAYER. Prayers is something sadly neglected by so many Christians. Being ill and many times unable to “do” much of anything, I have sadly in the past said “sorry, all I can do is pray”. I have learned to leave the word “all” out in that statement as I find it a privilege and honor to be able to pray. It is our right, our duty and an awesome responsibility.

I do enjoy your blogs and so look forward to your upcoming book, thank you so much and I will continue to pray for God’s guidance in all that you do and write!

I think her name is kind of ironic, since when it comes to her kids keeping their faith in college, “hope”, is all she has. I think this comment represents pretty well a very common attitude that Christian parents AND pastors AND church leaders have to the problem of children losing their faith. So let’s take a look at this.

What is the practical impact?

First thing to notice is that anyone who says this is basically clearing the way for themselves to not have to do any work. Apologetics is work.

To learn apologetics, I did things like this:

  • read books in subject areas I knew nothing about
  • order and listen to HUNDREDS of audio tapes from Veritas Forum, Access Research Network, Stand to Reason, Biola University, etc.
  • order and watch (many times) dozens of debates on VHS tapes and DVDs
  • order and watch (many times) dozens of lectures on VHS tapes and DVDs
  • attend conferences, debates and lectures locally, in other cities, and in other countries
  • reach out to non-crazy atheists in order to listen to their questions
  • form discussion groups with other apologists to find answers and discuss problems

This is what I had to do in order to answer the questions that people actually ask when deciding on theism and Christian theism, in particular.

Questions like these:

  • how do you know that God exists?
  • how do you know the Bible is reliable?
  • how do you know Jesus rose from the dead?
  • why does a good God allow suffering and evil?
  • why are there so many different religions?

Those are real questions, and they require real answers.

But Hope has a different way of answering those questions. She says:

  • I have no role in helping my children see why Christianity is true
  • Christianity is affirmed or denied by sheer act of will
  • Rational argument and evidence are irrelevant to knowing truths about God
  • Nothing I do can affect whether my children accept Christianity or not
  • All I can do is pray (which requires no spending of money, and no time commitment)

Practically speaking, I understand that this is what a person says when they want to rationalize not having to think, not having to read, not having to spend money, not having to acknowledge that some Christians know more than they do, not having to lift a finger to be a parent unless it feels good to them. They can be as self-centered and irresponsible as they want to be – which they would not be in any area that mattered to them – and then they can throw up their hands and say, “it’s not my fault”. You can easily imagine a case where a teacher told her students similar things – “I have no role in showing you what is true, you will have true beliefs about the material by sheer act of will, rational argument and evidence have nothing to do with this area of knowledge, I cannot control your beliefs about this subject, all I can do is pray for you to pass the tests”. Unless that teacher was unionized or tenured, she would be fired on the spot.

In fact, in NO OTHER AREA of life – not school, not work, not home-buying, not investing, not wedding-planning, not having the family over for the holidays, not planning a vacation, etc. – would this woman apply the method above, which is basically do nothing and pray. It’s very important to understand that. Hope will give her best effort in areas that matter to her, but when it comes to Christianity, she wants to DO NOTHING.

There is only one problem with this: it makes her feel bad when her children run off to follow Richard Dawkins. So when that happens, she has to explain why DOING NOTHING was actually the right thing to do. She has to justify herself to her religious peers when her children repudiate Christianity in the strongest possible way. And this is her justification – she is spiritually superior, and not to blame. She wants to put a pious whitewash on her laziness, ignorance and cowardice. And to make other people who are not lazy, not ignorant and not cowardly feel unspiritual, to boot. That’s the real reason why so many Christian parents and leaders say things like Hope.

The worst part of this is dealing with these parents and pastors is actually after the damage has already been done. Even when they are staring defeat in the face, they still resist any attempts to try to get them to engage by learning apologetics. They will continue to resist reading anything, watching anything, listening to anything – it’s very rare that you get one to “turn on” to apologetics and become passionate about it. It’s amazing to me. They are able to marshal all kinds of arguments about the things they care about. But not when their kids are at stake.

I think I am particularly bothered by men in church who follow sports more than apologetics. For them, Christianity is just about reading the Bible and showing up in church. But all the real effort goes into memorizing rosters, draft picks, fantasy leagues and other trivia.  It’s just depressing. Especially since men have the primary responsibility, either as parents or pastors. I really am not sure what to do about it, but it boils my blood to see the way these selfish grown-ups justify themselves with pious platitudes.

You can read Natasha’s much more civil blog post on Hope’s comment. She has a much more tolerant view, and more broad life experiences to draw on than I do. I am sure her feelings and approach would be much more tactful and effective than my angry response.