All posts by Wintery Knight

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What is the doctrine of peace through strength?

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

Image stolen from Douglas Groothuis.

“Si vis pacem, para bellum”
– Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus

It means, “Let him who desires peace prepare for war.”

The idea of peace through strength was paraphrased in George Washington’s first state of the union address, as well as by Presidents Lincoln and Reagan. Margaret Thatcher (United Kingdom) and Stephen Harper (Canada) also believe in peace through strength.

Most wars start when a dictator or monarch (e.g. – Hitler) believes he can win a conflict against a weak neighbor quickly and easily. Perhaps to test out his plan, he takes some small aggressive steps to make sure that no one is going to stop his aggression (e.g. – rebuilding the Luftwaffe, occupying the Rhineland, annexing the Sudetenland, annexing Austria, invading Poland). Once he is able to confirm over and over that no democracies are going to stop his conquests by force, he attacks.

The way to stop most wars is to make dictators believe that you have the means and the will to stop their aggression. Clinton allowed about a half dozen attacks in the 90s without any reprisal, (e.g. – World Trade Center, USS Cole, etc.) We did not respond to these terrorist attacks on our national interests. As a result, Bin Laden would joke about how the USA was a “paper tiger” that did not have the stomach for war. He thought that a few American losses would make us pack up and go home.

Contrast Clinton’s view with Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s biography at the White House web site says this:

“In foreign policy, Reagan sought to achieve “peace through strength“. During his two terms he increased defense spending 35 percent, but sought to improve relations with the Soviet Union. In dramatic meetings with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he negotiated a treaty that would eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles. Reagan declared war against international terrorism, sending American bombers against Libya after evidence came out that Libya was involved in an attack on American soldiers in a West Berlin nightclub.”

When the USA was attacked by terrorists, Bush, following Reagan’s example, made sure that the aggressors would understand that the first steps of aggression would draw a violent, decisive response. As a result of the Bush doctrine, Libya has discontinued its WMD program and invited inspectors to come in and cart away all of its research equipment. Libya did this only because it believed that the USA was willing to back up diplomacy with force. We can have peace if we cause aggressors to believe that war will cost too much.

Now, violence is not the only way to make war cost too much. We could probably avoid war with Iran or Venezuela or Russia by drilling for our own oil and building our own nuclear plants. No one prefers a war. It’s better to de-fund potential aggressors by supplying our economy with oil that we produce ourselves. This is one good reason to increase domestic energy production. (Another good reason is to lower the price of oil, etc – because of supply and demand: increased supply leads to lower prices)

Reagan won the cold war without firing a shot. But sometimes, especially after 8 years of Clinton’s weak foreign policy, some violence is needed to communicate to our enemies that we mean business. Our  willingness to engage in a military response to the 9/11 attacks was enough to provide us with 7 years free of attacks on American soil. The terrorists knew that next time they attacked us, then maybe Syria would become a democracy. So there were no more attacks on American soil while Bush governed.

Deterrence works. The goal is to AVOID war by making tyrants understand that the cost of their aggression will be too much for them to bear. This is the doctrine of peace through strength.

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile – hoping it will eat him last.”
— Winston Churchill

Evaluating atheistic reponses to scientific arguments for theism

I thought that I would take a serious look at a couple of recent comments from the atheists who have been traipsing through looking for debate summaries. Normally I don’t allow these kinds of comments through to dirty up the blog, but these ones were clean. So, I thought I would post them for all to see how atheism compares to Christianity.

First, let’s take a look at commenter Jason R.

First post by Jason R

First of all, commenter ECM, who is a deist, writes that the scientific arguments “make the painfully obvious case for deism”.

Jason R. writes in response:

“painfully obvious case for deism”

As soon as that case exists then I’m sure Hitch will debate against it. So far the case doesn’t exist. Every argument for deism has been debunked, the supporters of which just need to perform a bit of due diligence and research it.

Here is my reply to his first post

Can you give a list of the arguments for a deistic God that have been debunked?

Here is his reply to my question

Every single one that I am aware of.
http://www.google.com is good starting point.

What we learn about atheism from this exchange

It is a bad idea for atheists to insinuate that they have disproved the case for theism without citing logically valid arguments with premises that are supported by specific evidence. Because people like me are going to ask you: “what is your reason or evidence to support that assertion?” And you need to be ready to answer that before you make your assertions.

If you cannot even list the arguments for theism, then you don’t know that they have been refuted. If your refutation of my scientific arguments is “Google it”, then maybe you should reconsider your assertions. You’re not helping your team when you cannot list arguments on the other side. Let me be clear: I can argue your case better than you can, and that should concern you.

Commenter ECM adds:

Traditionally, in a debate, one will attempt to at least refute the points laid out rather than falling back on “Google it” and then offering the standard boilerplate materialist reply that ‘it was all one big accident’ but not before, of course, taking a gratuitous whack at theists a la Hitchens.

…Furthermore, if you do not wish to do so (and when your response is ‘Google it’ you clearly do not or cannot), then why waste everyone’s time with the same hollow argument that at least Wintery and I have heard a thousand times?


Second, let’s take a look at commenter Arthur S.

Hist first post

Arthur S. writes:

Everyone of the scientific arguments from the Christian posts site (see list below) has been refuted time and time again as you well know (seek and ye shall find vs. ignorance is bliss) but christians persist in claiming them as being valid. The same is true of the philosophical arguments which are really more about word play than useful proofs of anything.

Now ask yourself a question. What has he really said here? Well, nothing. He makes an assertion that my arguments have been refuted time and time again. What we have here is just an assertion without any evidence, followed by an insult, followed by an unabashed confession of ignorance regarding the construction of philosophical arguments.

His “refutations” of my scientific arguments

1) Creation of the universe out of nothing. (Refuted over and over. In addition the “how, who, what, when, where, why was god created?” are questions that can never be satisfactorily answered. How can a christian be satisfied with the shallow answers provided by the bible?)
2) Fine-tuning of physical constants and ratios to support the minimal requirements for life (see response to 4 below).
3) Origin of biological information in the simplest living organism (please read up on evolution before using this tired argument again).
4) Galactic, stellar and planetary fine-tuning to support the minimal requirements for life (Conditions for life exist throughout the universe. Christians fall into these kinds of traps all the time. Once contradictory evidence is demonstrated, they fight it for a few decades and then have to modify their belief system to accommodate the new findings. Kind of like how christians defended slavery in the U.S. in the 1900’s based on the bible until they developed some morals that were in opposition to the bible which contradicts the claim that our morals come from the bible).
5) Sudden origin of all animal phyla in the Cambrian explosion (”Sudden” if you consider 50 to 100 million years sudden and have an incredulous attitude).
6) Natural limits of biological change (again study up on evolution before making these kinds of nonsense arguments)

A critical evaluation of his responses

Let’s take a look at his replies point-by-point.

  1. No evidence is cited.
  2. No evidence is cited. There is a long-winded personal attack against Christians, which is irrelevant to the science.
  3. He says that evolution can explain the origin of the simplest living system. But evolution requires that replication already be in place, it cannot be used as an explanation of the first replicator. So citing evolution here is no defense to the explain the origin of the first replicating organism.
  4. No evidence is cited, but there is a long-winded insult.
  5. No source was provided for his “50-100 million years” number. The correct number according to the University of California at Berkeley is 5 million years. So that could just be an outright lie. And more insults, of course.
  6. No evidence is cited, but we do get yet another insult.

So, there is popular atheism. No evidence, one probable lie, and tons of insults. I am not saying all atheists are like this, but many of them are like this. And I am talking about people with good degrees, good careers and good jobs. They really have never bothered to look into these issues. The creed of atheism is these ignorant, hateful diatribes.

And that’s why they love people like Christopher Hitchens, and why many atheist web sites think he is a great debater. Because he is good at hating and insulting people he disagrees with. And that makes him the best atheist. On the other hand, Christians love people like William Lane Craig, because arguments, evidences and truth matter more to us.

Our bestselling books are Lee Strobel books, in which scholars with one or more PhDs are interviewed about their academic research publications. Their bestseller is “God is not great”, in which an uneducated journalist goes on a hate-spree, without making a single formal argument against the existence of God. These are two different sets of values.

And that is why when we have debates between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens, all the militant atheists like Common Sense Atheism and Debunking Christianity have to award the victory to Craig.


My advice for atheists

My recommendation is that you proof-read everything you write and remove all the personal attacks and insults. Then, for every assertion, you need to reference some data from a book published by an academic press, or a peer-reviewed research publication. That way, you will be able to sustain your arguments when you try to debate Christians.

I know it feels good for you to hate and insult those with whom you disagree. And since morality and rationality unjustificable on atheism, since atheism cannot ground objective morality and free will, I am not surprised at your tone. But we were all created in God’s image. At least try to treat your neighbors with respect and tolerance.

You can read see a list of arguments for and against Christianity in my post here.

Obama cuts military spending, blinks at North Korean aggression

You knew that the socialist ACORN lawyer was going to cut military spending at some point. Well, he’s done it.

Sweetness and Light reports on the cuts in military spending here. (H/T Gateway Pundit)

Excerpt from an AP article:

Production of the F-22 fighter jet, which cost $140 million apiece, would be halted at 187.

…The Army’s $160 billion Future Combat Systems modernization program would lose its armored vehicles. Plans to build a shield to defend against missile attacks by rogue states would also be scaled back…

See, the thing you need to understand is that wars start when aggressors believe they can win the war. When you build up your own military, aggressors start to understand that victory may not be so easy. That’s how you prevent wars from even starting. This is called peace through strength.

So, by cutting defense spending, Obama is basically emboldening aggressors. Not just aggression against us, but aggression against our allies. If our enemies do not believe that we have the will or the firepower to defend our interests, and those of our allies, abroad, then they will act against our interests. The North Korean missile launch is just the beginning.

Closing Velocity had some more details on the missile defense cuts. (H/T Hot Air)

  • Total cuts in missile defense: $1.4 billion or roughly 15%.
  • Cancel second Airborne Laser (ABL) aircraft, keep the one remaining ABL prototype as a testbed and revert to pure R&D.
  • No increases in Ground-based Interceptor (GBI) deployment in Alaska. Remaining silos will stay unfilled. European GBIs will be decided on later during the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).
  • Termination of the Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) program.
  • Hot Air linked to this Politico article, featuring comments by Newt Gingrich.

    Excerpt:

    “Dick Cheney is clearly right in saying that between the court decisions about terrorists and the administration actions, the United States is running greater risks of getting attacked than we were under President Bush,” said the former speaker of the House and Georgia congressman.

    On the North Korean missile launch, he said “the embarrassing repudiation of the United States appeal to the United Nations Security Council Sunday afternoon is a vivid demonstration of weakness. This is beginning to resemble the Carter administration’s weakness in foreign policy.”

    He said Obama’s speech on nuclear disarmament in Prague on Sunday “is a dangerous fantasy that runs an enormous risk. It is part of the Obama administration’s substitution of words for thoughts and fantasies for achievements.”

    “Now we no longer have a ‘global war on terror,’” Gingrich said. “We have ‘overseas contingency operations’ Now we will no longer have ‘terrorist attacks.’ We will have ‘man-made disasters.’ None of our enemies seem to have learned this new language.”

    “There was amazing symbolism in North Korea deciding to launch a missile the very day President Obama was speaking to Europeans about his fantasy of nuclear disarmament. The West has talked with North Korea for over 15 years and they just keep building nuclear weapons and missiles. We have been talking with the Iranians for a decade and they continue to build nuclear capability and missiles.

    “Pakistan has a lot of nuclear weapons. Russia, India and China have nuclear weapons. Hamas in Gaza fires missiles into Israel virtually every day. In this reality, our president proposes we have a big meeting in Washington to discuss nuclear disarmament.”

    And he contrasts Obama’s plan with Ronald Reagan’s policy.

    “Reagan felt that keeping a defensive shield alive was more important than a paper deal. The Obama administration is rapidly undermining our missile defense system while describing a fantasy world of trust and cooperation.”

    Here is  a related quotation from Ronald Reagan’s debate against the 2nd worst president ever, Jimmy Carter.

    And I’m only here to tell you that I believe with all my heart that our first priority must be world peace, and that use of force is always and only a last resort, when everything else has failed, and then only with regard to our national security. Now, I believe, also, that this meeting this mission, this responsibility for preserving the peace, which I believe is a responsibility peculiar to our country, and that we cannot shirk our responsibility as a leader of the free world because we’re the only ones that can do it. Therefore, the burden of maintaining the peace falls on us. And to maintain that peace requires strength. America has never gotten in a war because we were too strong.

    Ronald Reagan’s focus on strength projected abroad ended the cold war without firing a shot. And military spending is vital for achieving peace. But Obama is choosing a different path… the path of Jimmy Carter. And we all know where that ended.

    UPDATE: More on the NK missile launch, including Gingrich video on Fox News Sunday at Nice Deb.

    UPDATE: A new post on the effectiveness of waterboarding and Obama’s intent to prosecute the authors of counter-terrorism policies, possible including George W. Bush himself.

    Are all religions basically the same?

    UPDATE: Welcome visitors from The Western Experience! Thanks for the link, Jason!

    I’m sure that all my readers will have noticed that there a huge number of different religions in the world. This is called religious pluralism. Religions all make claims about the way the universe is, and the way that we ought to act in order to solve the problems that we all face as human beings.

    The law of non-contradiction

    To start with, we all need to be familiar with the law of non-contradiction. This is the stuff that software engineers all learned in undergraduate computer science courses. Computer science is a lot like analytical philosophy because both study symbolic logic. Analytical philosophy is as rigorous as mathematics.

    The law says that for any proposition P, P cannot be true and not true at the same time, and in the same context. For example, let P be the statement “it is raining outside my window right now”. It is impossible that the reality of the world be that it is raining outside my window right now, and not raining outside my window right now.

    The external world is shared by all of us, and it is objective (it is not affected by what we think about it). When we make propositional claims, it is the external, mind-independent world that makes claims true or false. And by “world” I mean all of reality, past, present and future.

    Similarities between religions

    On a superficial level, religions are similar because they all try to answer the same kinds of questions:

    • what is the nature of the ultimate reality in the universe?
    • what is the fundamental problem faced by human beings?
    • what should human beings do to solve this problem?

    These questions are shared by all religions, but on a more fundamental level, religions are all completely different because they give mutually exclusive answers to these questions. Therefore, according to the law of non-contradiction, they cannot all be true at the same time and in the same context.

    Differences between religions

    In this post, blogger Neil explains how the Christian Bible claims that Jesus died on a cross, but the Koran claims he did not die on a cross. How do we understand these two contradictory claims? Are they propositional truth claims about the external world, or something else? There are two answers.

    Postmodernism: Treating religious claims as subjective nonsense

    We could say that all religious claims are just nonsense, and are not intended to apply to the external world, but are just personal preference claims about each believer – they are neither true nor false. The problem is that the postmodernist is then being condescending to the religious adherent by redefining their own words.

    Rationality: Treating religions claims as genuine claims about reality

    We could instead avoid insulting believers by being condescending about their claims. We could say that all religious claims are exactly what the believers claim they are: real claims about the external world. We could then resolve the conflicts using the same tools we use in our everyday lives: the laws of logic and empirical evidence.

    How do postmodernists reinterpret religious claims as non-propositional?

    Here are a few ways that postmodernists reinterpret the conflicting claims of different religions:

    1. relativism: you reinterpret truth claims of the different religions so that they are claims of personal preference, which express the deluded myths that each individual religious person finds “fetching”
    2. pragmatism: you reinterpret truth claims of the different religions so that they are claims of personal selfishness, so that each religious believer chooses the delusion that is personally satisfying to them
    3. syncretism: you re-interpret truth claims of the different religions so that claims that are absolutely central, such as “was Jesus God?” are reinterpreted as being peripheral issues, and then the religions can all agree on the core of religious belief, such as advocacy of socialism, global warming and abortion

    Why would postmodernists want to treat religious claims as nonsense?

    In addition to the desperate desire to keep God from having authority over our moral decision-making (i.e. – sin, rebellion, etc.), there are 3 reasons why people try to treat religious claims as non-propositional nonsense.

    1. Ignorance: people do not know the conflicting truth claims that different religions make
    2. Laziness: people do not want to have to spend time evaluating the competing truth claims
    3. Cowardice: people do not want to investigate and debate truth claims: it makes them unpopular

    Postmodernists have decided that the purpose of life is to be hedonistic, and not to worry about the world really is. They think that trying to find out the truth about our origins, our purpose, and our ultimate fate is hard work, and talking about it makes them unpopular. So they don’t want to do it.

    But that is not what they say when you ask them. Instead, they say that disagreements about religion has caused a lot of wars, and so it’s better if we just reduce the question of truth in religion to personal preference. That way, everyone can choose the delusion that makes them happy, (although religions are all actually false).

    But postmodernists are arrogant to redefine the claims of all religions as nonsense. And it is self-refuting because they are substituting their own view of religion as objectively true, which is just what they deny everyone else. And if disagreeing about religion causes wars, then why are they disagreeing with us about religion?

    So then how do we deal with the plurality of religions?

    The answer is to treat religion the exact same way as any other area of knowledge. We can tolerate people’s right to disagree, disagree while still being polite, and resolving disputes using logic, and evidence supplied from disciplines such as analytical philosophy, scientific investigation, and historical analysis.

    People who want to involve emotion and intuition in the process of testing the conflicting religious claims can just butt out of the conversation. The search for truth should proceed irrespective of what you think about the truth claims of religion. Yes, the doctrine of Hell offends people, but that doesn’t make it false.

    Further study

    Portions of this article were borrowed from this lecture by philosopher Douglas Groothuis, in which he explains the how to think carefully, using the laws of logic, about religious claims and the fact of religious pluralism. Note that Doug is a lot less snarky than I am in the lecture.

    Also, I noticed that Unbelievable has posted a debate between Muslim Shabir Ally and Christian Tony Costa on whether Jesus dried on a cross and whether he rose from the dead.

    Here are some related posts on the question of postmodernism and testing religious claims. All of them are far, far, far less snarky than my post today.

    Related objections answered:

    Recent legislative activity by Trent Franks and Jim Demint

    I was listening to Mike Pence guest host “The Washington Watch Weekly” radio show recently, which is normally hosted by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. And he introduced me to a real pro-life Congressman named Trent Franks. He had Franks on the show and he really seemed to like him. So, I checked up on Franks and added him to my blogroll.

    And then I noticed this news story on OneNewsNow.

    Excerpt:

    Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona has introduced the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.” If passed, the bill would ban race- or gender-selection abortions.

    Attorney Steven Aden of the Alliance Defense Fund tells OneNewsNow his organization helped write the bill that is being referred to as “PreNDA.”

    “Sex-selection and racially-motivated abortion is an immense problem in America and internationally,” the attorney explains, “and Congressman Franks’ bill would prohibit the performance of such abortions, the funding of them, or promoting them.”

    That’s good news.

    And remember how the Heritage Foundation was worried that the porkulus-1 spending bill would nationalize health care? Well, check out this proposed amendment by Senator Jim Demint.

    Excerpt:

    Senator DeMint is offering an amendment to the budget resolution that would prevent any legislation from being passed with less than 60 votes that would eliminate the ability of Americans to have freedom in their health care choices. If passed, the amendment would reinforce President Obama’s campaign promise to protect the ability of Americans to keep their health care plan and choice of doctor, regardless of changes made to the health care system.

    So, we’re seeing some advocacy on two fronts: social issues and fiscal issues.