All posts by Wintery Knight

How divorce laws discourage marriage

A friend notified me of this new article by the Canadian journalist Barbara Kay about a recent decision by a judge in Ontario, Canada. The article states that a Toronto judge has awarded custody of the 3 children from a dissolved marriage to the father, as a result of the mental trauma suffered by the children while they were in custody of the mother. The article notes that this is a “stunning and unusual family law decision”.

According the Government of Canada’s own numbers, sole-custody is awarded to the mother in nearly 80% of divorce cases:

In the majority of cases (79.3 percent), the mother had sole custody; the father had sole custody in 8.7 percent of cases. Shared custody (a child spends at least 40 percent of the time with each parent) and split custody (one or more children have primary residence with the mother and one or more children have primary residence with the father) were relatively infrequent at 6.2 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

In this particular case, Kay notes that the mother (K.D.) had pressured the children to distance themselves from their father (A.L.). She writes:

According to the judgment against K. D., she is denied all contact with the girls, even by telephone or text messages She has been ordered not to come closer to them than 300 metres. A. L. has been given the right to confiscate their computers and cellphones. This is necessary, Justice McWatt said, because the mother had so poisoned her children’s feelings toward their father that they had lost their capacity for independent judgment in relating to him.

Now, for good men, the thought of losing access to our own children after a divorce is a terrible thing to contemplate. Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women, often against the wishes of the men, under no-fault, (i.e. – unilateral), divorce laws. Additionally, there is the question of money. Alimony and child support payments can be high, and men can often be required to pay even if they lose their jobs!

In another related story, a Quebec judge overturned a father’s grounding of his daughter because the judge felt the grounding was too harsh! Men are not going to feel comfortable about getting married when the courts interfere with families in order to implement their politically correct agenda. Men want to be fathers, but it seems as if the courts are sending men a message: don’t marry, don’t have children.

Stephen Baskerville, a professor at Patrick Henry College, has written a cover story for Touchstone Magazine in which he explains the danger that faces men and women who choose to marry. This article summarizes Baskerville’s new book, and is highly recommended understand how and why the government discourages marriage.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Though obfuscated with legal jargon (losing “custody”), what this means is that a legally unimpeachable parent can suddenly be arrested for seeing his own children without government authorization. Following from this, he can be arrested for failure or inability to conform to a variety of additional judicial directives that apply to no one but him. He can be arrested for domestic violence or child abuse, even if no evidence is presented that he has committed any. He can be arrested for not paying child support, even if the amount exceeds his means (and which may amount to most of his salary). He can even be arrested for not paying an attorney or a psychotherapist he has not hired.

This can happen to women as well, according to Baskerville, in certain cases. Christians typically believe in marriage, and research indicates that a stable marriage is the best environment in which to bring up children. Therefore, Christians should be concerned by the government’s attempt to weaken the bonds of marriage by providing spouses with financial incentives to file for divorce, seize custody of the children, drain their ex-spouse of money, and prevent the ex-spouse from having a healthy relationship with the children.

Stephen Baskerville was interviewed on the Chicago-based radio show Extension 720 with host Milt Rosenberg. This interview is alarming, but required listening for men and women contemplating marriage, and for those who want to see marriage encouraged, and not discouraged, by the government and the courts. Here is another interview with Dr. Baskerville, but this one is from the Dennis Prager show.

Marriage is without a doubt good for children, for spouses, and for society. Shouldn’t we be thinking of ways to encourage people to marry, and to stay married, instead of having the government provide incentives to divorce or not marry at all?

UPDATE: Australian study shows that kids are safer when they live with their fathers.

Atheism, Christianity and the problem of evil and suffering

In Christian theology, a classical definition of evil is found in the work of Augustine of Hippo. He states that the evil is not a thing itself, and therefore is not brought into being by God. Instead, evil is the privation of right order. Or, to put it more simply, evil is the state of affairs when things are the way they ought not to be. So, if a mugger mugs you and steals your money, that was evil, because humans ought not to do that. And if a tsunami leaves thousands of people homeless, that’s evil, because the world ought not to be like that. (Let’s bracket why God might allow natural evil, such as the latter example, for another post).

The point is that when you talk about evil and suffering, it pre-supposes that the world is not the way it ought to be. But that means that the world ought to be some way. If the world “ought to be” any way other than it is, then that pre-supposes a designer, who had a purpose for the world, i.e. – a way the world ought to be.

But that’s not my point today. My point today is that atheists cannot use the apparently gratuitous evil in the world as a disproof that there is a God until they define what they mean by evil.

It seems to me that there are 2 choices for what evil could be on atheism. What is NOT open to atheists is the solution above, namely, that evil is a departure from the way things ought to be. Because the universe is an accident on atheism – it is purposeless – there is no way the universe ought to be. We are accidents on atheism. There is no way we ought to be.

So evil must mean one of two things on atheism:

  1. Evil means something that the atheist finds personally distasteful. It is a subjective preference that each person decides for themselves. Just as some people don’t like broccoli – some people don’t like murder or tsunamis. It’s up to each person. But that cannot be used as an argument against God, because who says that God’s moral purposes ought to be connected to the personal moral preferences of atheists? It won’t work.
  2. Evil is what society says is counter to the social conventions of a particular time and place. If we decide that murder is against our society’s conventions today, then for that time and place, murder is “evil”. But then, not signaling when you turn right at a stop sign is also “evil”. It’s all just made-up conventions. And again, it is difficult to see why God should be bound by a society’s conception of good and evil, they are just conventions of accidental people, on an accidental planet, in an accidental universe. (Again, we will bracket the problem of deciding what a society is for this discussion).

So, now I am going to ask you atheists. When you say that there is gratuitous evil in the world, (i.e. – a state of affairs that is apparently pointless, apparently without morally sufficient justification for God to permit it), what do you mean by evil? Does not the invocation of a standard of right and wrong that applies to God himself imply an objective morality? (a moral standard that is independent of personal or cultural preferences) And if there is an objective moral standard like this, where does it come from, on your atheistic worldview?

It seems to me that pressing the problem of evil is inconsistent on atheism. There is no moral standard to hold God accountable to in an accidental universe. You have to pre-suppose an objective moral standard, and a designer of the universe who makes that standard and makes it applicable, before you can proceed to hold God accountable to that standard. But then, you have already assumed God in order to argue against him.

Here is a short paper that contains a summary of everything I know about the problem of evil, (deductive/ logical, as well as inductive/ probabilistic). If you can only read one short paper on the problem of evil/ suffering, this is what you need to read. Do not pass this paper up – it is pure wisdom and will make you effective on this issue in the public square better than anything else out there.

Also, to see these arguments in action, check out the debate here, with William Lane Craig and Kai Nielsen.  If you want a book, here is one between William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, published by Oxford University Press, 2004, (audio of one of their debates here). One of my favorite scholars on this topic is Doug Geivett. If you can listen to the audio from his lecture on evil, that is pure wisdom. It’s up on the Academy of Christian Apologetics, (audio). I love the use of “noseeums” in his examples.


I was over on, and they were commenting on a post over at Victor Reppert’s blog C.S. Lewis’ Dangerous Idea, on the topic of morality on atheism. Also, there this debate between Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens is fantastic for understanding why morality is irrational on an atheistic worldview.

Obama’s anti-free-trade policy angers the world

Well, I thought that Obama was too smart to enact protectionist policies, but it looks like he does indeed mean to try to plunge the USA into a new depression, just like Hoover did when he signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in 1930. What protectionism says to consumers is this: working families must pay more for inferior products manufactured by government’s favored special interest groups, (e.g. – unions). The standard of living of consumers of those protected products will be reduced, because consumers are overpaying for something that they could get cheaper elsewhere.

What this means that those of us who prefer to use our dollars for purchases that are important to our worldviews (e.g. – Christianity), is that we will have less purchasing power to spend on charity, private schools, apologetics resources, or anything else we want to buy to express our values. Money is the fuel that people use to live out their worldviews in the public square. The more money is wasted by government, the less money we have for our individual priorities. And the way that a secular government spends money is never as good as the way an informed Christian individual will spend it.

Reactions to Obama’s “Buy American” plan worldwide have been swift and alarming:

Over at Pat Toomey’s Club for Growth, Andrew Roth notes that India is angered at the prospect of having their exports taxed. The headline from Reuters India is “Policymakers sound alarm over protectionism“. We can expect to pay more for goods imported from other countries, because they will retaliate against our tariffs. More consumer purchasing power is lost!

Over at William J. O’Neill’s Investors Business Daily, an editorial describes how firms such as GE and Caterpillar faces job losses because they are denied access to cheap foreign steel. By the way, if you haven’t clicked on the IBD podcasts over there on the rightmost column, what are you waiting for? Those are the best podcasts on the Internet!

Over at the Cato Institute blog, Daniel Ikenson notes that the American Steel industry has been enjoying record profits, and that the steel tarrifs supported by Obama’s plan cause other companies to lose exports to foreign nations, because businesses here are forced to pay too much for steel that they could get cheaper abroad.

It was Adam Smith who first explained so long ago:

It is a maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy. The tailor does not attempt to make his own shoes, but buys them of the shoemaker. The shoemaker does not attempt to make his own clothes but employs a tailor.… What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry employed in a way in which we have some advantage. (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book IV, Chapter II)

A more complete explanation of the effects of imposing tariffs on imports can be found in Robert P. Murphy’s new introductory book to free market capitalism, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism. A review of this book is here. Another good book analyzing free market capitalism applied to a number of different areas including crime and abortion, is Freedomnomics by John R. Lott. A review of this book, by the eminent economist Walter Williams, is here.