Category Archives: News

Is one true religion even possible?

Dr. Walter L. Bradley
Dr. Walter L. Bradley

This is a follow-up to my previous post on Walter Bradley’s lecture about the scientific evidence for an Creator and Designer of the universe. Dr. Walter L. Bradley (C.V. here) is the Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor, and a great example of the integration of Christian faith and a stellar academic career.

Is there truth in religion?

Another one of Bradley’s lectures is on the question “Is There Objective Truth in Religion?“. In the lecture, he describes a book by Mortimer Adler, called “Truth in Religion”. In the book, Adler makes a distinction between two kinds of “truth”.

  1. Trans-cultural truth – also known as objective truth. This is Adler’s term for the correspondence theory of truth. A claim is true if and only if it is made true by corresponding to the state of affairs in the mind-independent external world. It is irrelevant who makes the claim. The claim is either true or false for everyone, e.g. – “the ice cream is on the table”. Either it is, or it isn’t, for everyone.
  2. Cultural truth – also known as subjective truth. This is Adler’s term for claims that are arbitrarily true for individual and groups of subjects. For example, your personal preference for a certain flavor of ice cream, or the cultural preference for a certain style of dress or cooking. The claim is true for the person or group, e.g. – “I/we prefer chocolate ice cream and wearing tuxedos”.

The question that Bradley addresses in the lecture is: are religious claims trans-cultural truth or cultural truth?

Why do people want to believe that religious truth claims are subjective?

People want to believe that religious truth claims are subjective because religious claims differ, and people lack the courage to tell some group of people that their beliefs about the world are wrong. By reducing religion to personal preference, no one is wrong, because everyone who believes in any religion, or no religion, is just expressing their own personal preferences.

But, if religious truth claims are trans-cultural claims, e.g. – the universe began to exist, then some religions are going to be wrong, because religions disagree about reality. It’s possible that no religion is right, or that one religion is right, but it is not possible that they are all right because there is only one reality shared by all people. Religions make contradictory claims about reality – so they can’t all be true.

Suppose religious claims are trans-cultural? How would you test those claims?

I credit E.J. Carnell with a test for truth that I still use today. It is the same test used by Adler and Bradley.

  1. Logical consistency (the claim cannot violate the law of non-contradiction)
  2. Empirical verification (the claim is verified against the external world)

Adler says that other trans-cultural truth claims, such as those from math and science, must all pass the test for logical consistency, as a minimum. And so with religion, if it is like math and science. Once a proposition passed the test of the law of non-contradiction, then you can proceed to step 2 and see if it is empirically verified.

Adler surveys all the major religions in his book, and concludes that only 3 of them – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – pass the test of the law of non-contradiction. He ends the book by recommending to seekers that they proceed to evaluate the historical claims of these 3 religions, in order to see which if any passes the empirical tests.

Conclusion

Bradley concludes with the claim of the resurrection of Jesus could be investigated using historical methods, in order to decide which of these 3 religions might be true, if any. He also mentions the stories of a few people who performed the investigation and changed their initial opinion of the resurrection in the face of the historical evidence.

Related posts

I blogged previously about whether the Bible teaches that faith is opposed to reason and evidence and William Lance Craig’s refutation of postmodern sketicism of religion. I also blogged about scientific and historical evidence that could also be used to test religious claims. My post on N.T. Wright’s view of the resurrection may also prove useful.

Also, a good debate between a Christian and a postmodern relativist on truth in religion is here.

Arizona Supreme Court rules voucher program unconstitutional

Arizona’s Supreme court has banned their state’s voucher program. 500 students were enrolled and will be allowed to complete the year in their currently schools. (H/T Independent Women’s Forum and Jay P. Greene).

Excerpt from the linked Arizona Republic article:

The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday declared the state’s school-voucher programs unconstitutional because they violate a ban against appropriating public money for private or religious schools.

The unanimous decision shuts the door on vouchers in Arizona unless voters agree to a statewide ballot measure to change the state Constitution.

So parents shouldn’t have a choice where their children go for an education. The important thing, according to the socialists, is that the teachers in the failing schools have a guaranteed job and a guaranteed audience. Public schools are not there to serve children – it’s adult day care. All guaranteed unionized jobs are adult day care.

This article from the Alliance for School Choice argues that vouchers provide a better education for students for far less money. If we desire excellent education at reduced cost to taxpayers, then vouchers deliver.  If the goal is allowing adult teachers to insulate themselves from the market demands, so they can continue on in perpetual adolescence at the expense of children and parents, then vouchers should be outlawed.

Excerpt:

Conducted by researchers at the University of Arkansas as part of the independent School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP), the report found that students in the program generally posted achievement gains that were somewhat higher than that of students in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). When compared to children in MPS, students enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program experienced statistically significant gains in 7th and 8th grade math.

At the same time, the report concluded that the MPCP continues to save Wisconsin taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year. For FY 2009 alone, the state saved $37 million as a result of the voucher program. While the report is focused on state sources of funding, when federal sources of funding are included, it costs $13,468 to educate an MPS child, versus a maximum of $6,607 to educate an MPCP student.

In a significant finding that undercuts the main arguments of school choice detractors, the study demonstrated conclusively that the presence of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) helped local public schools improve. In the words of the authors: “It appears that Milwaukee Public Schools are more attentive to the academic needs of students when those students have more opportunities to leave those schools.”

The article goes on to note that voucher programs lead to increased parental awareness and involvement in their children’s education.

On a related note, the Pacific Research Institute had this post on the success of charter schools, which are not insulated from competition either, and therefore need to care about student academic performance, instead of left-wing indoctrination.

Excerpt:

The Academic Performance Indicator for OCA is 902, easily surpassing the statewide goal of 800 (out of 1,000). Within five years the charter rose from an API of 736 to 902. “The API is a good indicator after you pass 800 because the students have to work very hard to maintain it,” says Jorge Lopez, principal and executive director of OCA. Most impressive, this charter school succeeded despite receiving thousands of dollars less per student compared with average California public school funding.

The Oakland Charter Academy, for example, earned the 902 API score while receiving $7,211 per student, nearly $4,366 below the state average of $11,547. Yet, the return on investment is higher than the average public school. Consider the Orange Unified School District. It received $9,544 per student and earned a 777 API with a less-challenging student population.

Ninety-five percent of the students at OCA are from low-income families. The OUSD serves 38 percent low-income children. OCA students achieved 75 percent proficiency in reading on the California Standards Test. Fifty-six percent of OUSD students scored proficient in reading.

The article goes on to compare the much worse performance of public schools in the area who spend a lot more money and have far fewer low-income students. The difference is competition. The difference is free market capitalism.

Global warming is a made-up crisis to justify socialism

I just want to get this out there so that we can be clear. There is no climate crisis. The whole thing was invented, just like “nuclear winter”, in order to justify government taking control of the economy so they can equalize economic inequalities.

Fox News reports that the United Nations is proposing global redistribution of wealth from productive, free nations to unproductive, repressive ones. The rationalization for this redistribution of wealth is going to be global warming alarmism.

Excerpt: (H/T John Lott)

A United Nations document on “climate change” that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body.

And Wesley J. Smith sheds more light on the topic here, where he analyzes a column by a radical environmentalist who argues that we need to prevent economic growth, on the grounds that it is harming the planet.

Excerpt:

This willingness to sacrifice human welfare is reaching a fever pitch among those who believe that global warming is a crisis of unimagined proportions–a belief that can border on quasi-religion or pure ideology. An article by David Owen–pushing the importance of economic decline to saving the planet–in the New Yorker illustrates the point.

Here’s one of the quotes from David Owen:

The environmental benefits of economic decline, though real, are fragile, because they are vulnerable to intervention by governments, which, understandably, want to put people back to work and get them buying non-necessities again–through programs intended to revive ordinary consumer spending (which has a big carbon footprint), and through public-investment projects to build new roads and airports (ditto).

I would recommend checking out the post to read what environmentalists really think about human welfare when compared to the myth of global warming. It’s important to understand what people on the left, who are advising Obama, are planning to do.

To get the real costs of what it would take to “fix” global warming, check out this post at the Heritage Foundation’s blog “The Foundry”. In this post, they explain the science, what global warming alarmists are trying to do, and how much it will cost to do it – and they done the research to prove it.

Excerpt:

Perhaps the most alarming part is the price tag associated with attempting to reduce such a small part of the atmosphere and something we really cannot control. Our analysis shows the cumulative GDP losses for 2010 to 2029 approach $7 trillion. Single-year losses exceed $600 billion in 2029, more than $5,000 per house¬hold. Job losses are expected to exceed 800,000 in some years, and exceed at least 500,000 from 2015 through 2026. It is important to note that these are net job losses, after any jobs created by compliance with the regulations–so-called green jobs–are taken into account. In total, the “climate revenue” (read: energy tax) could approach two trillion over eight years. Keep in mind, this is all for negligible environmental benefits.

UPDATE: Heritage Foundation weighs in with more on the UN’s plan for global wealth redistribution.

The U.N. conference in Bonn, Germany commenced yesterday to hash out details for an international approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to have a plan ready for the global warming summit in Copenhagen at the end of the year that would supplant the failed Kyoto Protocol.

And the Competitive Enterprise Institute has a link to a piece in the WSJ about the impact to the manufacturing sector and to US trading partners.

Health care policies in the UK and in Ireland

Over on Health Care BS, they reported the results of an Healthcare Commission investigation of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust in the UK. This foundation runs the which runs Stafford and Cannock Chase hospitals.

Excerpt:

If you have a friend or loved one in an NHS hospital, make sure to send them flowers. They may have to drink the water out of the vase to avoid dying of thirst.

…The Prime Minister apologized and claimed that this was an isolated situation. Oh, really? Tell that to the NHS patients who starve to death in your hospitals. Tell that to the patients who die of cancer because the NHS won’t pay for their treatment.

Tell that BS to the patient on whom NHS surgeons insisted on operating despite the dead rat in the OR.  Tell that to the emergency patients stacked in ambulances in the ER parking lot. If they could hear, you could tell that the patients waiting for hearing aids.

Scary stuff! And this is what Obama wants for us, because then everyone will be equal, regardless of their ability to pay. Should individuals be left free to choose how much health care they need based on their own lifestyle choices? Obama says no.

On the other hand, the Stockholm Network reports that Ireland raised their co-payments for ER treatment, in order to encourage people to use managed care instead. (H/T State Policy Blog). They reduced their ER demand by 5%.

The 2009 Irish budget, presented by finance minister Brian Lenihan, revealed that charges for A&E services would rise from €66 to €100, if the patient has not been referred by their GP, or if they do not hold a medical card.

The revised tariff came into force on 1st January and …saw 4.5% less people attend A&E in January 2009 than in January 2008…

There is a myth on the ignorant left (and in Canada) that Americans are dying in the streets because of private medical care, that emphasizes personal responsibility. Actually, ER medical care is free in the USA, and maybe we should start charging something for it like Ireland is doing.

I posted before on the nationalized health care, the exploding health care costs in Massachusetts, and on health care problems in Sweden. Also, here is a funny video from a Canadian-raised comedian on single-payer health care.

UPDATE: John Lott has a post on how 9 people accounted for 2,678 ER visits over 6 years in Texas, costing taxpayers 3 million dollars.

Projected increases in electricity prices under Obama’s cap-and-trade policy

Over at Michele Bachmann’s blog, I noticed that she has posted about the expected increase in electricity prices (per person) under Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade legislation. The numbers are provided by Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp.

Here are a couple of the bigger increases:

  • Alabama $1,528.26
  • Indiana $1,627.46
  • Kentucky $1,798.23
  • Montana $1,717.63
  • North Dakota $4,350.56
  • West Virginia $3,972.29
  • Wyoming $7,249.54

Looks like the effect is to transfer wealth from pro-business red states to anti-business blue states. Redistribution of wealth. Equalization of outcomes. Welfare. After all, a lot of these blue states have been spending like drunken sailors, and will need to grab some money from their red-state neighbors, if they are to continue acting irresponsibly.

Here is an interesting quotation in Michele’s post, provided by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Dr. Douglas Elmendorf on the proposed cap-and-trade legislation:

At a Ways and Means hearing today, Congressman Camp questioned Congressional Budget Office Director Dr. Douglas Elmendorf  about the impact of this policy on consumers in other ways as well.  As Dr. Elmendorf said, “at any point in which we are putting a price on carbon emissions, that would be passed through to the cost that consumers face on energy products but also all other products that are made using fossil fuels….I don’t know if there are any goods that use no energy in their production.  It seems to me unlikely.”

I blogged here about the proposed tax hikes on oil companies, and here on the proposed cap-and-trade system and here on the proposed carbon tariffs Obama wants to impose on imported goods. And we’ve also seen that global warming is just a myth – useful crisis that leftists sell to the public in order to justify government control of the free market.