Category Archives: News

Denyse O’Leary tells about Uncommon Descent’s contest to win FREE STUFF

Denyse has started up a contest over at Uncommon Descent where you can win the following stuff:

10 DVDs of Expelled,courtesy the producers.

10 DVDs of Privileged Planet, courtesy the producers.

5 subscriptions, including back issues, to the excellent Christian/theistic science and culture mag, Salvo, complete with recent back issues, courtesy the editor-in-chief.

I already have those DVDs but I want the subscription to Salvo.

Now, what must I do to win? Denyse says:

I will pose a question based on a recent news story, and ask for responses within two weeks. I will publish the winning response in a subsequent post.

You must go to Uncommon Descent and register to comment. (You will not receive any solicitations – at least none that originate from us.)

Rules:
1. No more than 400 words in response. I will select the response I find most interesting and print it as a post. Be succinct.
2. New ideas impress me, even if I disagree. Rants and myths don’t. Re abuse: Uncommon Descent is not competing for Troll Hole of the Year, so …
3. I will not correspond with anyone about the award. My In Tray is already a natural disaster. If you don’t win, try again. And who knows, if this contest takes off, I may be offered more prizes.

The first question will come shortly.

Well, according to Denyse’s latest post on Colliding Universes, the first question is here!

This is Contest Question 1 for Earn Free Stuff: Does the multiverse help science make sense – or simply destroy science?

Question: For a free copy of Expelled, is this a way to do science? Note, you must register at Uncommon Descent to comment.

She has a link to an article that will help you answer, plus you can read my posts on the multiverse:

OK, now get right to work on your answer, and I’ll work on my answer. Denyse says that each contest will last about two weeks!

By the way, Denyse is a professional writer and editor. So watch your spelling and grammar!

Ex-atheist A. N. Wilson’s reasons for returning to Christianity

UPDATE: A very special welcome to readers from 4Simpsons blog! If you do not have Neil’s blog bookmarked, you are missing out on perceptive commentary on current events and apologetics, all packaged in an attractive and functional layout! For example, check out this post on Obama’s record on abortion, and this post analyzing a recent encounter with a pro-choice challenger! Neil can fight!

Thanks so much for the link and the kind words, Neil! I appreciate it very much!

UPDATE: Welcome readers from Free Canuckistan! Thanks for the linky, Mr. WebElf!

This story is all over the Christian blogosphere, so let’s try to cover all the people who’ve written about it.

Wilson’s initial statement is found in his article in the New Statesman. (H/T Truthbomb Apologetics)

Excerpt where he describes his conversion to atheism:

…I realised that after a lifetime of churchgoing, the whole house of cards had collapsed for me – the sense of God’s presence in life, and the notion that there was any kind of God, let alone a merciful God, in this brutal, nasty world.

Yeah, that’s why I would never send my kids to church until they begged and pleaded to go, and knew why they were doing it. The problem of evil and suffering that he mentions is a solid argument against God, one well worth responding too, that I answer fully here.

But another cause of his atheism was peer pressure – the desire to want to be thought of as smarter than others, the desire to not be bound by morality, the desire for autonomy from the hard task of seeking after the Lord in study and service. (More on this below)

If I bumped into Richard Dawkins (an old colleague from Oxford days) or had dinner in Washington with Christopher Hitchens (as I did either on that trip to interview Billy Graham or another), I did not have to feel out on a limb. Hitchens was excited to greet a new convert to his non-creed and put me through a catechism before uncorking some stupendous claret. “So – absolutely no God?” “Nope,” I was able to say with Moonie-zeal. “No future life, nothing ‘out there’?” “No,” I obediently replied. At last! I could join in the creed shared by so many (most?) of my intelligent contemporaries in the western world – that men and women are purely material beings (whatever that is supposed to mean), that “this is all there is” (ditto), that God, Jesus and religion are a load of baloney: and worse than that, the cause of much (no, come on, let yourself go), most (why stint yourself – go for it, man), all the trouble in the world, from Jerusalem to Belfast, from Washington to Islamabad.

He talks about the importance of the moral argument, which is the argument that converted me to Christianity so many years ago. There can be no doubt that when you meet an atheist, you are talking to someone who is disdainful of the demands of the moral law, (the objective moral standard that is imprinted on every human heart).

Everyone who has any conscience at all believes in God as the ground for that morality. It is only the immoral man who reduces morality to personal preferences or evolved social conventions. And there are so many immoral atheists today… inventing more and more speculations like Darwinism and postmodernism in order to justify full flight from the moral law they know is there.

I haven’t mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer’s serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.

Truthbomb Apologetics also linked to an online interview with Wilson. Peter Williams, a British Christian apologist, highlights one question, “Can you love God and agree with Darwin?”, from the interview.

Here is Wilson’s answer:

I think you can love God and agree with the author of The Voyage of the Beagle, the Earth Worm, and most of the Origin of Species. The Descent of Man, with its talk of savages, its belief that black people are more primitive than white people, and much nonsense besides, is an offence to the intelligence – and is obviously incompatible with Christianity. I think the jury is out about whether the theory of Natural selection, as defined by neo-Darwinians is true, and whether serious scientific doubts, as expressed in a new book Why Us by James Lefanu, deserve to be taken seriously. For example, does the discovery of the complex structure of DNA and the growth in knowledge in genetics require a rethink of Darwinian “gradualism”. But these are scientific rather than religious questions.

twoorthree.net has another analysis of the initial article.

A second article emerges

Here’s Wilson’s more recent article from the UK Daily Mail in which he describes his reasons for returning to the Christian faith even further. (H/T Apologetics 315)

The new article has a very striking title, “Religion of hatred: Why we should no longer be cowed by the chattering classes ruling Britain who sneer at Christianity”. There are some neat parts to this article as well.

For example, why are atheists who are force-fed faith so angry?

Like many people who lost faith, I felt anger with myself for having been ‘conned’ by such a story. I began to rail against Christianity, and wrote a book, entitled Jesus, which endeavoured to establish that he had been no more than a messianic prophet who had well and truly failed, and died.

This next point is the critical point of this entire story. Atheists dismiss God for three reasons. 1) They want to appear intelligent in comparison others (i.e. – pride, vanity), 2) they do not want to dedicate any time to seeking and serving the person who loves them most, and 3) they believe that God should give them happiness and their needs are not met by God.

When a person becomes an atheist, they are giving an answer to questions like “does God exist?” and “does God have a will for the way I ought to live?”. Atheists do not accept that their purpose in life is to work on knowing God by first accepting Christ’s sacrifice for their current rebellion and then by re-prioritizing their lives based on the character and deeds of Christ.

Instead of accepting the need for a Savior, and the process of following Christ, they want to earn eternal life by dedicating their efforts to projects of their own choosing. Atheists choose a project that they like and work on that hoping to somehow gain eternal life by excelling at that. Similarly, atheists choose a different moral standard (i.e. – yoga, vegetarianism, recycling, socialism, etc.) and work to fulfill this standard of their own choosing in the hope that meeting that standard will justify them morally with God.

The thought that they would have to discover and reflect on God’s revealed character and love for people revealed in the origin and design of the universe, and in the incarnation and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, is totally repulsive to them. They seize on the most childish opinions about God, (God is unknowable, Christians are stupid hypocrites, I don’t want to be moral, I don’t want to be unpopular, etc.), and refuse to engage in debate to correct those childish objections.

But let’s hear from Wilson about the peer-pressure he received from smart atheists:

Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.

To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.

This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.

It also lends weight to the fervour of the anti-God fanatics, such as the writer Christopher Hitchens and the geneticist Richard Dawkins, who think all the evil in the world is actually caused by religion.

The vast majority of media pundits and intelligentsia in Britain are unbelievers, many of them quite fervent in their hatred of religion itself.

Wilson goes on to explain what finally did work to change his mind. One of the reasons for his conversion is also the second reason why I converted: discomfort with the moral evil of the godless and their hatred of God. Observing the godless can create a powerful feeling of sympathy and allegiance to God revealed in Christ, such that you naturally rebel against those who reject God.

Rather than being cowed by them, I relish the notion that, by asserting a belief in the risen Christ, I am defying all the liberal clever-clogs on the block: cutting-edge novelists such as Martin Amis; foul-mouthed, self-satisfied TV presenters such as Jonathan Ross and Jo Brand; and the smug, tieless architects of so much television output.

One thing you need to understand about being a Christian is that the life consists in being an ambassador for Christ and then taking the lumps from those who will mock you, blacklist you, expel you, suspend you, fire you, jail you, torture you and murder you. This path of suffering is rejected by atheists and church Christians alike, even though imitating Christ’s suffering for obeying God rather than men is central to Christianity.

We humans somehow internalize the idea that God should desire our happiness, and our freedom to seek that happiness in whatever activities we choose to be meaningful for us. The idea that God may have made us for a purpose – to acknowledge and defend him in public in word and deed – is so repulsive to our wills that it is totally suppressed, not just from inquiry or discussion, but in our thoughts as well.

A third argument that convinced me, that Wilson also finds convincing, is the superior character of Christians when compared to atheists. Atheists have no idea how horribly immoral they look to Christians – about as immoral as Christians look to themselves. For once the horizontal dimension of loving your neighbor is dropped, and the vertical dimension of loving God is taken up, the mask is off. The horror of sin is revealed.

And in the face of that horror, men can do extraordinary deeds as they respond to God’s forgiveness. Actions that are irrational on a naturalistic, materialistic universe are rational for Christians. Atheists simply cannot engage in self-sacrificial behaviors against their self-interest the way that Christians can. Doctrines like eternal life, the incarnation, the atonement, and objective morality, make self-sacrifice rational.

And in contrast to those ephemeral pundits of today, I have as my companions in belief such Christians as Dostoevsky, T. S. Eliot, Samuel Johnson and all the saints, known and unknown, throughout the ages.

When that great saint Thomas More, Chancellor of England, was on trial for his life for daring to defy Henry VIII, one of his prosecutors asked him if it did not worry him that he was standing out against all the bishops of England.

He replied: ‘My lord, for one bishop of your opinion, I have a hundred saints of mine.’

Now, I think of that exchange and of his bravery in proclaiming his faith. Our bishops and theologians, frightened as they have been by the pounding of secularist guns, need that kind of bravery more than ever.

The Christian life is a life of self-sacrifice, self-control and bravery, punctuated by periods of loneliness and defeat. It is not for everyone, and it is certainly not for atheists. Responding in love to God’s initiative in reaching out to us is the most difficult task that can ever be assigned to any human agent. Atheists, having rejected the laws of logic, scientific discovery, the demands of the moral law and the obligations of moral duties, are simply not up to the task.

Wilson concludes his case with a final argument:

…an even stronger argument is the way that Christian faith transforms individual lives – the lives of the men and women with whom you mingle on a daily basis, the man, woman or child next to you in church tomorrow morning.

Let me just say that I have not had the happiest experiences in life, as I have alluded to elsewhere. Things are going great now, as you know from my bio. But I know, and I hope that others can see, that the kind of acts of love that I unleash on my neighbors cannot – cannot – be explained merely as a result of human effort. Life is hard, but God makes love possible in the midst of suffering.

William Lane Craig weighs in on this Daily Mail article in his audio blog here.

I am planning an entire series of posts on atheism and the Christian life next week, and I have been interviewing atheists in order to collect data for the series of posts. I highly recommend that you tune in to the blog next week for this series!

Democrats vote to protect pedophiles in H.R. 1913 hate crime bill

UPDATE: Welcome readers from But as For Me! Thanks for the link!

UPDATE: If you are looking for the story about bloggers facing jail terms for “harassing” public figures, see here.

The indomitable Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs has the full story on the hate crime here. (H/T Stop the ACLU)

She links to this video of Democrats voting for protection for pedophiles, and against protections for military veterans.

And then writes this summary about the left (Democrats), and their inevitable drive towards fascism:

Hate crime — hate is in the eye of the beholder, eh? And if you are a Democrat – you protect child rapists, but G-d forbid you protect the military.

Hate crime legislation will be used as a tool against the right. Period. A crime is a crime. WTF is the “hate” bias? Will those screaming for the death to Jews at those demonstrations in January be prosecuted under these laws?

Who are these people?  Good is evil and evil is good. Good luck with that super majority, America.

Yes, remember the speeches by Evan Sayet at the Heritage Foundation. Good is evil, and evil is good. That is the essence of the left.

I’m going to steal some comments from RedState that Pamela cites.

Over at Red State:

This is really kind of mind numbing and demonstrates what is wrong with Congress.

During a House Judiciary Committee meeting, Congressman Steve King (R-IA) offered up an amendment to the hate crimes bill to exclude pedophiles from being a protected category under the hate crimes legislation.

Every single Democrat voted it down.

In the same meeting, Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) offered an amendment to include veterans as a class protected under the hate crimes bill. Not only did the Democrats vote it down, but Cogresswoman Debbie Waasserman Schultz attacked the Republicans for even thinking veterans might need protection under hate crimes legislation. After all, who but Democrats in Congress hate veterans?

Pamela cites Congress Louis Gohmert to explain what does this hate crime bill does.

If a mother hears that their child has been raped and she slaps the assailant with her purse, she is now gone after as a hate criminal because this is a protected class. There are other protected classes in here. I mean simple exhibitionism. I have female friends who have told me over the years that some guy flashed them, and their immediate reaction was to hit them with their purse. Well now, he’s committed a misdemeanor, she has committed a federal hate crime because the exhibitionism is protected under sexual orientation.

The Democrat bill says that Americans can’t make moral judgments on others, because that makes those poor victims feel bad. If moral people make moral judgments against these victims, it’s a federal crime. Democrats are the party of moral relativism and moral equivalence. And Christians voted for Democrats in record numbers because we were too lazy to inform ourselves about them before the election.

And one more quote from Pamela’s post:

Similar state laws have resulted in persecution for Christians. In Philadelphia several years ago, a 73-year-old grandmother was jailed for trying to share Christian tracts with people at a homosexual festival.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said H.R. 1913 will create “thought crimes,” and U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said it will end equality in the U.S.

Gohmert warned the law will be used against pastors – or anyone else – who speaks against homosexuality or other alternative sexual lifestyle choices. He said it provides that anyone who through speech “induces” commission of a violent hate crime “will be tried as a principal” alongside the active offender.

Critics say that would allow for prosecutions against pastors who preach a biblical ban on homosexuality if someone who hears such a message later is accused of any crime.

Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said, “A pastor’s sermon could be considered ‘hate speech’ under this legislation if heard by an individual who then acts aggressively against persons based on ‘sexual orientation.’ The pastor could be prosecuted for ‘conspiracy to commit a hate crime'” she said.

On the other side of the religious liberty aisle, there’s Republican Senator James Inhofe’s recognition of the National Day of Prayer, which Obama refused to recognize publicly.

The New Testament’s Book of James states, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” I wholeheartedly agree and personally rely on prayer in every aspect of my life. Today, we honor the “National Day of Prayer,” a day that has been officially recognized since 1952 by the President of the United States, who issues an annual proclamation in its honor.

“Across the country, people from different walks of faith and different walks of life gather together to pray for our nation.  In 2008, over two million people attended 40,000 locally organized events nationwide, and the governors from all 50 states signed similar proclamations.

“The National Day of Prayer is a traditional and fundamental part of our history. In 1775, while forming a nation, the Continental Congress invited the colonies to pray for wisdom. This first call to prayer has since become a tradition and has not ceased from reoccurring in the years that followed. In 1789, President George Washington issued the first presidential proclamation for prayer as he stated, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor…” And in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer.”

“Prayer is as important today as it was when our Founding Fathers first formed our nation. Today, may God continue to bless you all in a special way.

Michele Malkin talks about Obama’s refusal to hold a public prayer event, which Bush did for all 8 of his years, in this Fox News video clip. He talked so much about the importance of prayer during his campaigns, but I guess the mask is off now.

I know fundamentalist Christians who voted for Barack Obama based on his skin color, (which is the same color as my skin, by the way). Unbelievable! Their votes undermined the free expression of Christian beliefs in the public square. Newsflash! Barack Obama shows no evidence of being a Christian in his policies. On the contrary, his policies are deeply anti-Christian, anti-capitalism and anti-liberty. His skin color should have been irrelevant to the decision of who to vote for, for Christians.

UPDATE: The Maritime Sentry has a relevant video with Steve King and Sean Hannity.

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper visits the troops in Afghanistan

Harper: Not a primping peacock bitterly clinging to his teleprompter
Harper: Not a primping peacock bitterly clinging to his teleprompter

Joanne over at Blue Like You has the story. (Photo credit:THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Here are some of the best bits from the official government press release:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today travelled to Afghanistan, where he visited with Canadian Forces and civilian personnel stationed in Kandahar.

“From the very first day of the Afghan mission the men and women of the Canadian Forces and civilian officials, have served courageously and selflessly to help the people of Afghanistan build a better future,” said the Prime Minister. “Over the course of this mission our men and women in Afghanistan have made incredible sacrifices to defend our values and our interests. It is an honour for me to meet with them, to thank them, and to let them know that their country supports them. They make us very proud.”

Look, the Canadian general even put him to work as a field artillery spotter. (Photo credit:THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Harper calls in fire mission on Taliban: "Right 1 degree. Fire for effect!"
Harper (not effeminate) calls in his third fire mission on Taliban forces: "Right 1 degree. Fire for effect!"

While Barack Obama drags 25 teleprompters with him when he travels overseas, Harper didn’t bring any teleprompters with him, and he travels into a warzone.

Here is the description of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan from the Canadian forces web site:

Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan are guided by the Afghanistan Compact, which includes a five-year framework for coordinating the work of the Afghan government and its international partners, outlining specific outcomes related to security, governance and development with benchmarks and delivery schedules.

For example, a new Afghan constitution has restored the rule of law and respect for the human rights of all Afghan citizens, including women and children. The Afghan people now vote, women and girls have rights, and children are going to school.

The biggest threat to rebuilding is continued violence and threats from the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In fact, terrorism is a clear and present threat to global peace and security, and terrorists used Afghanistan as a base of operations during the seven-year Taliban regime. In the interest of collective security, Canada and its international partners share a duty to help ensure that terrorism cannot take root again in Afghanistan.

And Canada is busy spending money on things like this:

The Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada is deepening its partnership with UNICEF and the Afghan Ministry of Education to invest in improved learning centres, construct new schools for 18,000 children in Kandahar, and provide funding for a 10-month literacy course for 2,500 women in the region.

“Investing in education is vital to improving human rights and, in particular, the rights of women in Afghanistan,” said the Prime Minister. “My message to the people of Afghanistan, and to our international partners is clear. Canada will do its part.”

The Prime Minister also visited Kandahar’s Dahla Dam project on the Arghandab River. Eighty percent of Kandahar’s population lives along the Dahla irrigation system. The Government of Canada is investing up to $50 million over three years to repair the dam and improve its surrounding irrigation system while helping train local farmers in new water management and crop production techniques.

“Canada’s Afghan mission is more than just a security operation. It is also about making a real difference in the quality of life for thousands of Afghan families,” said the Prime Minister. “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to see, first hand, the kind of meaningful contribution Canadians are making to Afghanistan’s future.”

Hmmmn. Obama is spending a lot of money, too. I wonder what the trillions of dollars he spent on his special interest groups is accomplishing? Well, Warner Todd Huston at Stop the ACLU managed to track down some of it.

If we need no other example of why government can’t “stimulate” an economy, we have but to look at the use to which the city of Akron, Ohio wants to put some of its “stimulus” money. Akron, it seems, wants to spend some of that money for suicide prevention. Oh, not a general suicide prevention program that might at least employ people. No, Akron wants to build a fence on a bridge that seems to emit a siren call for jumpers to prevent them from killing themselves.

Akron’s All-American Bridge, a “Y” shaped structure that serves as a main artery into the city, has been a platform for suicide jumpers for so long now that area residents have nicknamed it the suicide bridge. Consequently, city officials have proposed using more than one million dollars of the city’s “stimulus” money to erect a fence that will help prevent people from being able to use the span as a means to an end.

There’s other stuff we could do with that money you know. Like making the rest of the world freer and reducing threats from terrorists to the homeland.

Barack Obama’s claim to save or create 150000 jobs falsified by FactCheck.org

Obama claim that his socialist policies that attack “greedy corporations” and “the rich” are actually increasing employment rates. Now, that seems to be impossible for rational people to believe, and FactCheck.org confirms that intuition. It is not possible for socialist policies such as card check, higher taxes, increased spending, more regulation, etc. to create more jobs than are lost from the changes.

Obama’s claim was:

At President Obama’s April 29 news conference, he claimed that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has “already saved or created over 150,000 jobs.”

That’s what he learned to believe at Harvard in his marxist rap sessions with the radical students and professors.

But how does the world really work?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy lost more than 1.3 million jobs in the two months after he took office, and it has probably lost at least another half-million in April. The day after Obama spoke, the Department of Labor announced that another 631,000 workers (seasonally adjusted) had filed new claims for unemployment insurance the previous week.

So what 150,000 jobs was Obama talking about?

It turns out the president’s claim is really an estimate of what his economic advisers think the stimulus bill is doing, and not based on any evidence of its actual effects.

But how does the White House respond to the falsification of their propaganda by reality?

We asked the White House for substantiation of Obama’s claim, and a spokesman responded that the figure comes from a recent estimate by the Council of Economic Advisers. “Because the baseline for employment is obviously still strongly downward,” the spokesman told us, “the estimate does not mean that employment has risen by 150,000. Rather, it means that employment is 150,000 higher than it otherwise would have been.” He said the figure is an estimate of people hired to work directly on ARRA-funded projects, plus “jobs created by the tax cuts, aid to the states, and other parts of the ARRA.”

So when the president said his stimulus bill “already saved or created” those jobs, he was just giving an estimate produced by his own economic advisers at the White House. Furthermore, the jobs figure is based on projections done at the time ARRA was passed. Recipients of ARRA spending aren’t required to report until later what they’re doing with the money and how well it’s working, so there’s very little hard data on where the money is being spent, let alone how many jobs may have resulted from the legislation. The CEA incorporated some actual spending reports into its estimate, but that information is not complete.

This is the result of voting by people who know more about the lives of celebrities than they know about economics. Imagine how surprised these Democrat voters are to find out that the 1 hour spent voting was not enough time to have thought anything through. Some of them thought that Obama was better on pro-life issues and government spending than McCain for example.

Remember, Democrats caused this recession and Republicans tried to stop it.