All posts by Wintery Knight

https://winteryknight.com/

IBD: Canada fills Obama’s leadership void

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Investors Business Daily had a good post up about how other countries with more conservative leadership are picking up the slack left by Obama’s naive socialism. Canada is led by economist Stephen Harper, who studied the economic theories of F.A. Hayek and other proponents of free-market capitalism. Harper understands what economic policies promote liberty.

Here is an excerpt from the article: (a podcast version is here)

Thus far, the Obama administration seems more interested in continuing its global apology tour, Latin edition, during this weekend’s Fifth Summit of the Americas than he is in leading. His accusations against America are stronger than his promotion of the institutions and treaties that bring authentic democracy and prosperity to our hemisphere.

Obama’s aversion to policies like free trade, which supports liberty and prosperity, is well known:

Today, Obama is paying only lip service to that trade goal while two finished free-trade treaties with friendly American allies Panama and Colombia sit in his desk drawer, unvoted-on in Congress.

He speaks of the U.S. being “distracted by other priorities” but in reality he’s only “distracted” by listening to Big Labor, which has tried to shut Colombia and Panama out of free trade.

In the same way, he’s distracted by the Farm Lobby’s campaign cash and won’t think of ending the senseless tariffs on Brazil’s ethanol — another major free-trade, and energy policy, issue.

He has yet to expend political capital to muscle Congress to put those tariffs and treaties to a vote. If he did, he would show leadership. It’s not going unnoticed by democratic leaders of our hemisphere, who, from Brazil to Chile to Mexico to Peru, are urging him to take action. This is the one issue he should be showing strong leadership on. But he isn’t.

Yes, the world is truly against us because of Obama’s economic ignorance. But there are some liberty-opposing communist dictators that love Obama – because he supports their dictatorships and the repression of common people who don’t even have enough to eat or the opportunity to earn a decent living. IBD continues:

The region’s protectionists can be counted on one hand, and they just happen to be the same countries trying to ruin their own democracies — among them Venezuela, whose de facto dictator, Hugo Chavez, declared at the last summit in 2005 he would “bury” free trade of the Americas. With Obama failing to lead, he’s effectively handing Chavez the leadership, as well as a victory.

He’s also giving Cuba a victory, unilaterally loosening rules for remittances to the island, providing the bankrupt Castro dictatorship with an economic lifeline as well as a fresh pool of visitors to spy on, blackmail and potentially recruit.

Hot Air links to the photos of Obama accepting gifts and shaking hands with dictator Chavez. Hot Air writes:

Via Tapper, the long-awaited meeting between the “destructive force” and the “ignoramus” hath come to pass. There are already a few photos of the encounter at Yahoo News but you have to go to Facebook for the best one. Check out that thousand-watt grin. Funding FARC, imprisoning dissidents, staging wargames with Russia, and of course consolidating dictatorial power — none of it’s enough to ruin a photo op for The One. I hope this at least convinces El Presidente not to throw that Cuba-themed tantrum at the summit that he’s been planning. We deserve something in return for the free propaganda Barry just handed him.

The world opposes Obama’s unliteral war against free trade. Even Russia is disgusted with Obama’s economic naivete. And so is China. But what about Stephen Harper and Canada? IBD’s article continues:

Canada, by contrast, is taking the lead. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his top priority at the Summit is to champion free trade, in line with the will of the region’s real democracies.

“Our focus for the Summit of the Americas will be about free trade and avoiding other countries moving back to protectionist measures,” Harper’s spokesman said. “Canada’s position is that we must not allow the impact of the (financial) crisis to reverse our hard-fought progress towards freer trade and investment.”

…What a shame that it’s now left to Canada to do the heavy lifting on the actions that will genuinely advance peace and prosperity in our global neighborhood.

According to this just-released news story from CTV, Harper is pledging 4 billion dollars to spur trade with Latin America.

Excerpt:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pushing for greater regional co-operation and better hemispheric trade relations at the Summit of the Americas, pledging $4 billion in loan guarantees for Latin American countries.

…Harper said on Saturday that loans to the Inter-American Development Bank will help nations in the region get access to credit and build their economies.

“Canada is taking the lead when it comes to ensuring that countries continue to trade during a time of economic contraction,” said Harper in a statement. “This has not been done before and is a very significant contribution.”

Meanwhile, Obama is making Iran and North Korea feel comfortable about their pursuit of nuclear weapons. What a difference there is between Harper and Obama!

Harper’s recognition of Easter and the importance of religious liberty

Religious liberty is the liberty that I value most. Isn’t it amazing that at a time when Obama is taking steps to greatly reduce the freedom to express Christian convictions in public, that up north the prime minister of Canada is talking about the resurrection of Jesus and the importance of religious liberty as a Canadian tradition?

In case you missed it, here are some videos of Harper on CNN and Fox News, as well one from CNBC with Larry Kudlow. I previously wrote about how Colombia is trying to diversify their economy in the wake of Obama’s snubbing them on the proposed free trade deal.

Video clip from Craig vs Hitchens debate at Biola, on God and meaning in life

This is from the recent debate held at Biola University between Dr. William Lane Craig, and Christopher Hitchens.

By the way, don’t forget to check out my play-by-play of the debate here, and other reviews of the debate here. I also wrote a play-by-play of the recent debate at Columbia University in February 2009 between Craig and Yale philosopher Shelly Kagan. The topic there was “Is God Necessary for Morality?”

BONUS:

If you missed Dr. Craig debating on the Michael Coren show in Canada, check out these video clips posted by ChristianJR4, located below the fold. You have to click the link to display the rest of the post to see them.
Continue reading Video clip from Craig vs Hitchens debate at Biola, on God and meaning in life

Friday night funny: Media not sure how to cover Obama’s crime spree

From the Onion, a perfect article to culminate the week’s events.

Excerpt:

WASHINGTON—More than a week after President Barack Obama’s cold-blooded killing of a local couple, members of the American news media admitted Tuesday that they were still trying to find the best angle for covering the gruesome crime.

“I know there’s a story in there somewhere,” said Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, referring to Obama’s home invasion and execution-style slaying of Jeff and Sue Finowicz on Apr. 8. “Right now though, it’s probably best to just sit back and wait for more information to come in. After all, the only thing we know for sure is that our president senselessly murdered two unsuspecting Americans without emotion or hesitation.”

This is a must-read, folks! Ow, my cheeks are hurting.

UPDATE: One my Canadian friends and I were talking about upcoming debates just now and he was wondering why I can post so much. It made me think of my only other humor post, on why women and Christian apologetics don’t mix. If you have dreams of heroic combat with non-Christians, anywhere, at anytime, then you had better forget about courtship, romance, love and marriage.

On the other hand, I do have a fantastic article coming out about the one exception to this rule that I know of. The article is done, and it is scheduled to come out on Sunday at 5 AM EST. Do not miss this article!

William Lane Craig’s comments on the Columbia University debate with Shelly Kagan

Thought I would cut and paste these comments from Reasonable Faith regarding the debate I summarized in my last post so that you would be able to see how much Craig appreciated Kagan’s debating skill. I thought this was a great debate!

This is just a big quote from Craig’s March 2009 newsletter:

After a week at home, I was off again to New York to speak at a Veritas Forum at Columbia University. Columbia is on the western edge of Harlem, just north of Central Park. Its campus is a lovely oasis in the midst of big city ugliness. Like the other Ivy League universities, it was originally founded as a Christian institution. On the face of the old library the inscription states that Columbia exists “for the advancement of the public good and the glory of Almighty God.” In the campus chapel above the altar are inscribed Paul’s words, now ironically so appropriate, “Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17. 23)!

On the first evening I debated professor Shelly Kagan of Yale University on the question “Is God Necessary for Morality?” Actually, this was not a debate but a dialogue. After we each gave our opening statements, we had a very substantive discussion. Kagan has Christian colleagues at Yale, like Robert Adams and John Hare, who defend moral values and duties based in God, and I was struck by the respect with which he treated the view. He surprised me by not arguing for his own view of ethics, which is a radical consequentialism. He holds that if torturing a little girl to death would somehow result in greater overall good as a consequence, then that is what we should do! Instead he defended a social contract view of morality, according to which our moral duties are whatever rules perfectly rational people would agree to as a way of governing society. I responded that this makes morality a human convention, rather than objective. Kagan also affirmed in our dialogue that he is a physicalist and determinist. I charged that determinism strips our actions of any moral significance. We also disagreed over the importance of moral accountability. I claimed that the absence of moral accountability on atheism makes morality collide with self-interest and robs our choices of significance, but Kagan maintained that we don’t need a sort of cosmic significance in order for our moral choices to be significant. All in all, we had an affable and substantive exchange which fairly presented the alternatives.

One feature of our dialogue that pleased and surprised me was how clearly the Gospel emerged in the course of our conversation. Talking about moral values and accountability led naturally to the subject of our failure to fulfill our moral duties and how to deal with that. I was able to explain our need of God’s forgiveness, moral cleansing, and rehabilitation. Kagan then asked me how Jesus fits into the picture. That gave me the chance to expound on Christ’s atoning death and the fulfillment of God’s justice in Christ’s bearing the penalty for our sin. I was gratified that the Gospel could be shared so clearly and naturally with the students present.

The next day I sat for an interview with an independent filmmaker who is doing a short film on the theological significance of the beginning of the universe in contemporary cosmology. Later that evening I spoke in a small campus theater on “Who Was Jesus?” Judging by the student questions, this audience was largely Christian. It is very touching to hear so many Christians after the debate and my lecture share expressions of encouragement and thanks for the way the Lord has used our ministry in their lives.

Craig’s other lecture at Columbia

To hear the other lecture by Craig on the topic of “Who did Jesus think he was?”, click here. The video is here. This lecture was also delivered in February, 2009 at Columbia University, probably the most secular leftist university in the United States. Yes, the same university that invited Achmadinejad to speak.

Debate summary: Is God necessary for morality? William Lane Craig vs Shelly Kagan

Debate summary

This is a summary of a debate on the rational justification for moral values, moral duties and moral accountability on atheism. The question of free will and determinism also comes up. Note that this is not a debate to see who wins. The commie wusses at the Veritas Forum made Craig promise not to press for a victory, as he reports here:

I did respond briefly to Prof. Kagan’s view… but I didn’t press the point because our hosts with the Veritas Forum had made it very clear to me that they were not interested in having a knock-down debate but a friendly dialogue that would foster a warm and inviting atmosphere for non-believing students at Columbia. The goal was simply to get the issues out on the table in a congenial, welcoming environment, which I think we did.

The debate was held in February, 2009 at Columbia University between Yale philosopher Shelly Kagan and William Lane Craig.

Video and audio are here:

Shelly Kagan – opening speech

Framing the debate:

  • The question is not whether people need God in order to act morally, because atheists are able act morally and immorally just as well as theists
  • The questions is whether we need to God in order to be the ground for morality. Do right and wrong really exist if there is not God?
  • He will defend objective morality on atheism

One possible explanation for morality without God is:

  • right is what helps others and doesn’t hurt them
  • wrong is what hurts people and doesn’t help them

And the standard rules of moral behavior emerge from these 2 principles.

What are the objections to this help/hurt theory

1) Are these really wrong, or is this standard just a matter of opinion?

No, these moral standards are not a matter of opinion, they are facts.

2) What makes these rules apply to everyone and prescribe behaviors

Possible answers:
– moral rules are just brute facts
– contractarianism: (social contract) the moral rules should be chosen by reflecting on a hypothetical discussion between ideal reasoners
– something else

3) Morality involves commandments, so who is the commander?

Possible answers:
– moral commandments don’t require a commander
– for example, logical rules like the law of non-contradiction don’t need a lawgiver, and moral rules could be just like that
– or, perhaps the commander is society itself, which fits with the contractarian theory

William Lane Craig – opening speech

Framing the debate:

  • not debating whether belief in God is necessary to act morally
  • the question is whether god is a necessary ground for morality to be meaningful

Is God necessary for morality? It depends on what morality means:
– is morality just an arbitrary pattern of social behavior?
– if so, then God isn’t needed to ground humans to act according to a pattern of social behavior

But if morality is objective, (true whether anyone believes it or not):
– then god is necessary to ground objective morality
– because objective moral standards exists independently of human standards of personal preference or cultural fashion

Non-objective morality is illusion/convention
– pattern has no objective moral significance, it’s just an arbitrary fashion that varies by time and place

God is necessary for morality in 3 ways
1) God grounds objective moral values, i.e. – what counts as good and what counts as evil
2) God grounds objective moral duties, i.e. – what we ought to do and ought not to do
3) God grounds moral accountability, i.e. – our ultimate fate depends on how we act morally

1) Moral values
– whether some action is good or evil, independent of whether anyone thinks it is or not
– individual and social opinions do not decide these standards of good and evil
– god is necessary to ground moral standards that exist independent of human opinions
– the moral values are set by god’s unchanging nature

Human value:
– why think that humans have value, such that they should be treated a particular way
– on atheism, humans are just animals
– evolution means that moral values are the product of the struggle for survival
– the “herd” moral standard is arbitrary, it is not really a true standard
– on atheism, moral values do not exist independently, they are merely descriptions of behaviors that are the product of biological and cultural evolution
– in other animal species, many things that we think of as wrong are practiced, like stealing and rape
– so why think that our practices are objectively true, instead of just customs and fashions of our species?

Free will:
– moral choices require a non-physical mind distinct from the physical brain in order to make free moral choices
– on (biological) determinism, no choices are morally significant – just actions of puppets on strings
– no moral responsibility for a puppet’s determined actions

2) Moral duties
– whether some action is right or wrong
– whether humans are morally obligated to perform certain actions, independent of whether we think that we do or not
– the commands flow from god’s unchanging moral nature
– they become duties for us, his creatures

on atheism
– on atheism, humans are animals, and animals don’t have real moral obligations
– where would moral duties come from on atheism, to whom is the duty owed?
– on atheism, it is just a subjective impression ingrained into us by social and biological pressures
– on atheism, there is no standard of what we ought to do
– on atheism, breaking the social contract is the same as belching loudly at the dinner table, it’s just being unfashionable – not doing what the rest of the heard has decided is customary

3) moral accountability
– on theism, the moral choices we make affect where we end up in the afterlife
– god balances the scales of justice in the end

on atheism:
– it is irrelevant how you act, you end up in the same place (dead) regardless of how you live

why be moral on atheism?
– why shouldn’t a person pursue self interest instead of following the moral conventions of the social contract
– it’s not always the case that doing the right thing is also doing the thing that gives you selfish pleasure
– a very powerful person would not need to be moral, since they can escape the social sanctions that result from their breaking the social contract
– why would a very powerful do the right thing when it is against their self-interest, on atheism, since the social contract is just arbitrary fashion?

acts of self-sacrifice are irrational on atheism
– the result is that no one will be moral when it is hard to do the right thing
– because in the long run, it doesn’t matter what you do, on atheism
– compassion and self-sacrifice are not pleasurable, and are therefore pointless on atheism

Conclusion:

questions atheists must answer:
what is the basis of objective moral values?
what is the basis of human value on atheism?
why ought we to do the right thing and avoid doing the wrong thing?
what is the basis for moral accountability

Continue reading Debate summary: Is God necessary for morality? William Lane Craig vs Shelly Kagan