Category Archives: Commentary

Does reading science fiction predispose people to atheism?

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

In my investigations of atheists, I have found that the science fiction that people read when they are younger causes them to believe that the religion is anti-science and that the progress of science always disproves religion. The stories they read colors their views of science and religion for life, before they ever get to assessing evidence. And that’s why when we produce evidence for them in debates, they will believe in speculations rather than go where the evidence leads.

So, I’ve seen atheists in formal debates claiming that maybe unobservable aliens caused the origin of life, and that maybe the untestable multiverse theory explains the fine-tuning of cosmological constants, and that maybe this universe has existed eternally despite the well-supported Big Bang theory which shows that the universe began to exist. Maybe, maybe, maybe. They seem to think that untestable speculations are “good enough” to refute observational evidence – and maybe it’s because of all the science fiction that they’ve read.

Here’s an article in the American Spectator that talks a bit about it.

Excerpt:

A magazine I frequently write for (not this one) recently published a review of a book of essays advocating atheism. The reviewer pointed out with some enthusiasm that a large number of the contributors were science-fiction writers.

This left me somewhat nonplussed. I publish a good deal of science fiction myself, I have also read quite a lot of it, and I am quite unable to see why writing it should be held to particularly qualify anyone to answer the question of whether or not there is a God.

[…]Historically the contribution of the Catholic Church to astronomy was massive and unequalled. Without it astronomy might very well never have grown out of astrology at all. Cathedrals in Bologna, Florence, Paris, Rome and elsewhere were designed in the 17th and 18th centuries to function as solar observatories. Kepler was assisted by a number of Jesuit astronomers, including Father Paul Guldin and Father Zucchi, and by Giovanni Cassini, who had studied under Jesuits. Cassini and Jesuit colleagues were eventually able to confirm Kepler’s theory on the Earth having an elliptical orbit. J.L. Heilbron of the University of California has written:

The Roman Catholic Church gave more financial aid and social support to the study of astronomy over six centuries, from the recovery of ancient learning during the late Middle Ages into the Enlightenment, than any other, and, probably, all other, institutions.

Science fiction is, by definition, fiction, that is, it deals with things which are the product of a writer’s imagination and are not literally true. In any event, what is and what is not science fiction is hard to define. Simply to say it is about science is meaningless, and while some science-fiction writers are qualified scientists, many are not. Probably even fewer are trained theologians.

Science fiction makes the mysteries of the universe seem easy to an atheist. Everything can be easily explained with fictional future discoveries. Their speculations about aliens, global warming and eternal universes are believed without evidence because atheists want and need to believe in those speculations. In the world of science fiction, the fictional characters can be “moral” and “intelligent” without having to bring God or the evidence for God into the picture. That’s very attractive to an atheist who wants the feeling of being intelligent and moral without having to weight actual scientific evidence or ground their moral values and behavior rationally. The science fiction myths are what atheists want to believe. It’s a placebo at the worldview level. They don’t want cosmic microwave background radiation – they want warp drives. They don’t want WMAP satellite confirmation of nucleosynthesis – they want holodecks.

Why do people become atheists?

My theory is mainly that atheists adopt atheism because they want pleasure, especially sexual pleasure, without any restraints or guilt. They want to believe that sex without commitment has no consequences, especially a consequence like God judging them for it. Another contributing factor may be that atheists want to be thought of as smart by “the right people” – to sort of blindly accept whatever the “smart people” accept without really searching out reasons or dissenting views. They do this so that they are able to look down at some other group of people so they can feel better about themselves and be part of the right group – without actually having to weigh the evidence on both sides. And lastly, atheism may also be caused by weak fathers or abandoning fathers. But I think that ECM’s science fiction theory has merit, as well. I think that all four of these factors help to explain why atheists believe in a discredited worldview in the teeth of scientific progress.

I wonder if my readers would take some time out to investigate whether their atheist friends have been influenced by reading science fiction and whether they still read it.

What’s the best book a woman can read to prepare herself for marriage?

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
A good marriage is more than fun and feelings – it takes planning and work

I found a great lecture by Sue Bohlin, who works at Probe Ministries. The lecture is about the book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I recommend this book more highly than any other book to Christian women. It really does a lot to give young women a different perspective on men and marriage. Don’t be thrown off by the funny title, it’s really good.

The MP3 file is here. (48 minutes)

Here is a blog post that Sue wrote that captures most of the material in the lecture.

Here’s the introduction:

Talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has written a book that is improving thousands of marriages: The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. We need this book because millions of wives either don’t know how to love their husbands wisely and well, or they’re too self-centered to see it as important. Dr. Laura credits this dismal condition to forty years of feminist philosophy, “with its condemnation of just about everything male as evil, stupid, and oppressive, and the denigration of female and male roles in families.” While the women’s movement certainly had a hand to play in the disintegration of relationships and the family, I believe the core cause is our sinful self-centeredness, just as the Bible says.

Which is why we need help, and God instructs older women to train younger women to love their husband and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands is a great resource for learning these important values and skills.

And here’s the first part I thought was most important:

A listener to Dr. Laura’s radio show named Edgar wrote, “There are a few things that men want so bad they would do anything for it. I think a good number of men want respect more than love. They like to feel they have some power. I nearly cry when you tell a woman caller to respect her husband. There is so much selfishness in the world—in marriages. Prosperity has allowed women to be so independent, and thus so selfish. I always feel as though I come last—my feelings come last, my needs come last.”

“A good number of men want respect more than love.” God knew this when He made us. His commands to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:33 reflects each one’s deepest needs: “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Dr. Emerson Eggerichs of LoveandRespect.com points out that this verse commands a husband to love his wife. Why? She needs love like she needs air to breathe. This same verse commands a wife to respect her husband. Why? He needs respect like he needs air to breathe.

  • Respect means treating someone in a way that builds him up and doesn’t tear him down, never denigrating or attacking.
  • Respect means always treating the other person with the dignity they deserve as a person made in the image of God.
  • Respect means grasping that a man’s needs and wants are every bit as valid and important as a woman’s needs and wants.
  • Respect means not venting to others, especially the children. One woman wrote to Dr. Laura, “No emotional outlet is worth damaging my husband’s reputation.”

There are three A’s that men long for from their wives: attention, affection, and affirmation. Respect involves paying attention to what they do simply because they’re the ones doing it.

Yes, respect is very important to men, but the thing is, a woman can’t respect every man equally. She should choose a man who does things that are respectable. Then respecting him will be easy. Sometimes, women overestimate how easy men are to change after marriage. It’s better to just pick one who does all the important things instead of thinking that you can pick a good-looking one and make him do the important stuff like be faithful to you, hold a steady job, save money, argue without getting angry, etc. later. Men don’t change much, so pick one who does things that you respect and then give him respect.

And this part also seemed important to me:

A man named Roy wrote to Dr. Laura with some good advice for wives: “If you can’t accentuate the positive, at least acknowledge it. The world is full of messages to men that there are standards we don’t meet. There is always another man who is more handsome, more virile, or more athletic than we are. None of that matters if the most important person in our life looks up to us, accepts us as we are, and loves us even though we aren’t perfect. . . . All I know is that the husband who has a wife who supports him and praises him for the positive things he does is the envy of all the other men who have to live with criticism, sarcasm, and constant reminders of their failures.”

Men desperately want and need the support of their wives. This is reflected in what God reveals in His Word when He says, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And through the apostle Paul, God instructs wives to relate to their husbands in a way that meets this need when He says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

Submission is basically giving support with a willing, cooperative heart.

A wife’s submission includes knowing her gifts and strengths, and using them to serve her husband and family.

Service has a bad name, but both husbands and wives are called to serve God first and then each other; husbands are called to sacrificially love and serve their wives with Jesus as their pattern.

So what does support look like?

  • Believing in him. Telling him, “You have what it takes.” Being his #1 fan.
  • Cultivating a cooperative heart.
  • Being generous and openhearted—willing to use your gifts and strengths to help him succeed.
  • Understanding the importance of making him look good: never saying anything negative in public.
  • Creating a home that’s a safe haven from the world.
  • Having a warm heart with a positive, cheerful demeanor. Women set the temperature of the home; we are thermostats, not thermometers, of the family. (On the other hand, Proverbs says “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.”)
  • Being interested in him and his life.
  • Showing thoughtfulness. What does he like? Do it.
  • And though by no means exhaustive, it also means being a person of faithfulness and integrity. That means keeping your promises and being dependable. As Proverbs 31 puts it, “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”

Support and encouragement is SO important to a man. A man can continue to function fine if the whole world opposes him, but not if the woman he loves doesn’t support him. When a man falls in love, a woman has to realize the enormous power she has over him, and be careful not to hurt him. Men are vulnerable to the woman they choose. Although they look pretty tough on the outside, they can easily be hurt by insults or discouragement.

Parting thoughts

So, this lecture and the book are good, but young women should also seek out the advice of older Christian women who have been married successfully for some time. Read Titus 2:3-4 – the Bible encourages older women to mentor younger women! This is really important because we are in a time where young women are often pulled by the culture in many wrong directions, and they need help from people who know what they are doing.

One last point – I actually bought the audio version of the Dr. Laura book and noticed that it was just over two hours long. It turns out that the audio version is abridged – it is not as complete as the actual book. I noticed that Sue was quoting from the book passages that I had not heard in the audio recording. So, if you want the full content, get the book, not the audio recording.

What does the common practice of withholding sex reveal about women?

Dennis Prager features a lot of discussions about male-female relationships on his show, particularly during the male-female hour. I think this is one of the parts of his show that I really like best, because he knows what he is talking about.

He did a two part series a while back on 1) male sexuality and 2) what women should do about it within a marriage.

Part 1 is here.

Excerpt:

It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.

First, women need to recognize how a man understands a wife’s refusal to have sex with him: A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him. This is rarely the case for women. Few women know their husband loves them because he gives her his body (the idea sounds almost funny). This is, therefore, usually a revelation to a woman. Many women think men’s natures are similar to theirs, and this is so different from a woman’s nature, that few women know this about men unless told about it.

This is a major reason many husbands clam up. A man whose wife frequently denies him sex will first be hurt, then sad, then angry, then quiet. And most men will never tell their wives why they have become quiet and distant. They are afraid to tell their wives. They are often made to feel ashamed of their male sexual nature, and they are humiliated (indeed emasculated) by feeling that they are reduced to having to beg for sex.

When first told this about men, women generally react in one or more of five ways…

He then explains the 5 ways that women respond to this.

Here’s one:

1. You have to be kidding. That certainly isn’t my way of knowing if he loves me. There have to be deeper ways than sex for me to show my husband that I love him.

And this is the common mistake that some feminist women make because they think that men are just hairy women with no feelings and desires of their own that are distincly theirs. In the past, all women understood how men are different than women, but today almost no younger feminist women do. In fact, many younger women today struggle with the idea that there is anything different about men that they need to learn. The only thing that they need to know is what makes women happy, and that it is everyone else’s job to make women happy, so that women can then behave nicely (whatever that means). Younger feminist women today often think that they only need to be in touch with their own feelings – and that men and children simply have to get used to the idea that they have no right to make any demands on a woman – she has no moral obligations in a marriage.

Here’s another from the list:

4. You have it backwards. If he truly loved me, he wouldn’t expect sex when I’m not in the mood.

I think this whole problem of feminist women not understanding men, and of demeaning male feelings and values, is very serious. In my opinion, there is a whole lot of work that needs to be done by feminism-influenced women in order to fix this problem. The best place to learn about this is in Dr. Laura’s book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”. It’s like an application form for a serious relationship. Sex is one thing, but a serious man should insist that a woman take him seriously – and take marriage and children seriously. Pre-marital sex, having fun, getting drunk, and going out, etc. are not the right foundation for a relationship that is defined by the need for mutual self-sacrifice. There is no such thing as a “feminist” marriage – marriage is not about selfishness and playing the victim.

I actually had a conversation with a Christian woman once who said that women should not be obligated to do things that they didn’t feel like doing. I asked her if men were obligated to go to work when they didn’t feel like going. She said yes, and acted as though I were crazy for asking. I just laughed, because she didn’t even see the inconsistency. Many young feminist women today just don’t understand men, and they don’t want to understand them. They just want what they want and in the quickest way possible. Understand the needs of men and children, or how feminist-inspired laws discourage men from committing to marriage and parenting, are of no interest at all.

Part 2 is here.

Excerpt:

Here are eight reasons for a woman not to allow not being in the mood for sex to determine whether she denies her husband sex.

He then explains the eight reasons.

Here’s one of them:

7. Many contemporary women have an almost exclusively romantic notion of sex: It should always be mutually desired and equally satisfying or one should not engage in it. Therefore, if a couple engages in sexual relations when he wants it and she does not, the act is “dehumanizing” and “mechanical.” Now, ideally, every time a husband and wife have sex, they would equally desire it and equally enjoy it. But, given the different sexual natures of men and women, this cannot always be the case. If it is romance a woman seeks — and she has every reason to seek it — it would help her to realize how much more romantic her husband and her marriage are likely to be if he is not regularly denied sex, even of the non-romantic variety.

This makes the point that many young feminist women today do not really understand that they are, in a sense, capable of changing their husband’s conduct by the way they act themselves. I think that younger feminist women seem to think that their role in the relationship is to sort of do nothing and wait for the man to serve them. But relationships take work, and they take work from both participants.

At the end of the article, Prager makes a general point about women that I think needs to be emphasized over and over and over:

That solution is for a wife who loves her husband — if she doesn’t love him, mood is not the problem — to be guided by her mind, not her mood, in deciding whether to deny her husband sex.

I think that is an excellent question to ask a woman. What does it mean to love a man? I was forwarded one amazing response from a Calvinist woman recently in which she explained several things that she wanted to do to meet a particular man’s needs and make his life easier, and what she was prepared to do now in order to show him that she really could do handle the role. I think that she said these things out of sympathy and understanding of that man, and that was very encouraging.

But I think that kind of seriousness about taking of someone else as they really are, self-sacrificially, is rare. And it makes me wonder what people think that marriage is when they get into the church and make vows that, ostensibly, will require self-sacrifice. What do women think that marriage is? What is the goal of it? What makes a marriage successful? Why do women think that men marry? What do men get out of marriage? What are the woman’s responsibilities to the man in a marriage? I think these are questions that men should ask women. And the should not be satisfied with glib answers. Men should demand that books be read, that essays be written, that skills be developed, and that the woman’s life experiences show that she has understood what will be expected from her and why.

I think that it’s a good idea for men to try to get married, but they should be careful to make sure that the woman they choose is sensitive to their needs, just as men ought to be sensitive to the needs of women.