Stephen Baskerville on Dennis Prager show today

I just received an e-mail from Stephen Baskerville, who is an expert on the effects on marriage and family caused by our divorce laws and divorce courts. He is scheduled to be on the Dennis Prager show today at 2:00 PM Eastern, 11:00 AM PST. (It was pushed back from 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM)
Here are some places where you can listen online:
Or you can try a radio guide here:

For more information about Stephen Baskerville, check out his cover story on marriage and divorce for Touchstone Magazine, here.

UPDATE:
Today’s show (02/06/09) is available here.
Baskerville’s previous appearance (12/19/2007) on the show is here.

BONUS:
An appearance on Milt Rosenberg’s Extension 720 is here.

Democrats vote to discriminate against students of faith

Did you know that Obama’s massive stimulus bill contains a provision that “prohibits renovation money for schools that allow religious groups to meet on campus”? Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ describes the provision here. According to this Fox News story, Senator James “Jim” Demint (R. – SC), proposed an amendment to the pork-filled bill to remove the anti-religious provision. However, Demint reported that the amendment failed in the Senate 43-54, with almost all Republicans voting for religious liberty, and almost all the Democrats voting against it. The provision had previously passed in the Democrat-controlled House, with every Republican voting against it.

I think this defeat is a helpful reminder to people of faith about the role of government-run schools, and teacher’s unions, in imposing secular-leftist values on the next generation. I recently finished reading Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism”, in which the author explains what the word fascist really means. Fascism is the political philosophy that seeks to undermine individual goals and values, including religious and entrepreneurial values, and to substitute the values of the society, as expressed by the party in power.

A common thread in fascist regimes is the effort to separate children from parents at a young age, so that adult teachers can impose the state’s values on the children when they are least able to resist them. That is why, accoring to the Guardian, the National Socialist party abolished homeschooling in fascist Germany in 1938. (A review of Goldberg’s book by Canadian author Denyse O’Leary is here). My favorite quote from Goldberg’s book is about the role of government-run schools in a fascist state:

Hence a phalanx of progressive reformers saw the home as the front line in the war to transform men into compliant social organs. Often the answer was to get the children out of the home as soon as possible. An archipelago of agencies, commissions, and bureaus sprang up overnight to take the place of the anti-organic, contra-evolutionary influences of the family. The home could no longer be seen as an island, separate and sovereign from the rest of society. John Dewey helped create kindergartens in American for precisely this purpose — to help shape the apples before they fell from the tree — while at the other end of the educational process stood reformers like Wilson, who summarized the progressive attitude perfectly when, as president of Princeton, he told an audience, “Our problem is not merely to help the students to adjust themselves to world life … [but] to make them as unlike their fathers as possible.”

The United States is also heading in this direction. In California, Human Events reported that homeschooling was effectively banned by an activist court. Dinesh D’Souza frankly explains why the left is so intent on keeping control of the schools here. He notes that secular people do not form families and do not have children, because it is too much of a constraint on their autonomy. Instead, D’Souza writes, secularists simply seize control of the children of religious parents, and pass their values on to the children in the mandatory government-run schools.

This plan has become so successful, that even young evangelicals are abandoning their faith at the ballot box. Phyllis Schlafly recently noted that 32% of young evangelicals voted for Obama in 2008, compared to 16% of them who voted for Kerry in 2004. Some of this slide to the left is due to parents focusing too much on entertainment and material gain. But a large portion of the blame should be pinned on the government-run schools and universities. USA Today notes that 70% of Protestant Christians abandon their faith by age 23.

Once you understand that the secular left has an interest in separating children from their parents, you begin to see why they support policies that transfer more familial responsibilities to the state. Higher taxes ensure that mothers must work, so that the child’s vulnerable pre-school years may be spent with government-certified instructors in day care. The emphasis on sex-education in the government-run schools leads young people into behaviors that later undermine marital stability. And, as Stephen Baskerville argues, the state encourages divorces to make business for itself.

I’ve argued here that Democrats favor secularizing government-run schools in order to undermine the faith of children. This is something that people of faith, who want to pass on their worldview and values to their children, need to think about. If you voted for Obama for nationalized health care, taxing of the rich, stopping global warming, etc., then now may be a good time to think again. Do a little studying about what conservatives believe – you may find out that conservatism is more consistent with the goals of faith-based voters than you had first thought.

By the way, as Ezra Levant reports, it happens in Canada, too. Often.

UPDATE: Wow, Ezra Levant is really mad at the University of Calgary for censoring pro-life students! National Post story is here.

Mike Licona to debate Bart Ehrman in April at SES

I sent an e-mail to Mike Licona last night to see if he had any upcoming debates. Mike debates in favor of the view that we can know historically, on the evidence, that God raised Jesus from the dead. Mike replied back to let me know that he will be debating Bart Ehrman, a professor at UNC Chapel Hill, again at Southern Evangelical Seminary in NC, on April 2, 2009. The topic of their debate will be “Can Historians Prove Jesus Rose From The Dead?”

In Mike’s first debate with Ehrman, (audio, video), Licona used the minimal facts approach pioneered by Gary Habermas, which is similar to Bill Craig’s approach. Mike’s minimal facts approach does not require that the Bible be inspired, inerrant, or generally reliable.  Mike uses only a fraction of the New Testament, the minimal facts, which are facts that are accepted nearly unanimously by scholars across the ideological spectrum, including atheists. He leans especially hard on 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, which contains the basics of the resurrection narrative and is dated to 1-5 years after the cross.

The minimal facts are accepted because they pass a variety of tests that the other passages do not pass. To be considered a minimal fact, the passage must be cited in one early source, such as Paul’s letters or Mark, and it must be in other independent sources. It also helps if the passage is attested to by enemies, or is dissimilar from Jesus’ Jewish milieu, or if it embarrasses the people who are recording and preserving the text. So, a fact like the guard at the tomb, which is only recorded in one source, (Matthew), is not a minimal fact.

Licona’s 4 facts last time were: 1) Jesus was crucified, 2) Jesus’ followers experienced visions of Jesus after his death, 3) Jesus’ enemy, Paul, had an experience that transformed into a powerful advocate for Christianity, and 4) Jesus’ brother, James, also had a post-mortem experience of Jesus, and changed from being skeptical of Jesus during his lifetime to being a leader in the early church. Both Paul and James were eventually martyred for their new faith in Jesus. This approach to the resurrection is a lot more acceptable to skeptics. There is no blind faith – just pure historical analysis.

Interestingly, Licona does not argue for the empty tomb, as Craig does. In the recent debate between J.D. Crossan and N.T. Wright, I was surprised to hear that Crossan was willing to grant the empty tomb, for the sake of argument, to Wright. Crossan is a radical liberal, so if he grants the empty tomb, then you and I can use it. I think that the fact that the earliest witnesses to the empty tomb were women, whose testimony was not regarded as reliable at that time, enhances the reliability of the empty tomb narrative.

Ehrman argues that the New Testament is not a reliable source for history, because there are manuscripts that differ from other manuscripts. He concludes that the resurrection cannot be proved historically. He also makes a point about how miracles are the “least probable” explanation, (which William Lane Craig demolishes in their debate, see transcript here). These manuscript differences are called variants, and there are quite a high number of them, because there are quite a high number of manuscripts. The number of variants sounds alarming, until you realize that no New Testament doctrine is affected by the large number of invariants.

In Ehrman’s debate with Peter Williams on the UK-based Unbelievable radio show, and in Ehrman’s debate with Dan Wallace, Ehrman lists the 4 worst problems caused by the invariants:

  1. the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) is a late addition not present in the earliest manuscripts
  2. the long ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20) is a late addition not present in the earliest manuscripts
  3. Jesus was angry and not compassionate when he healed the leper (Mark 1:41)
  4. that Jesus died apart from God, and not by the grace of God (Hebrews 2:9)

Now I have to tell you, these disputes are irrelevant to standard Christian doctrine. Also, I personally prefer the woman at the well story being left out, and I prefer angry Jesus in 3). Why? Because I am snarky. The only variant that bugs me is the ending in Mark, because I liked the long ending. But none of these “worst cases” affects anything that Mike Licona might say on behalf of the resurrection, which is what the debate is supposed to be about, right?

For further study of Licona and Ehrman, I would recommend the book “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus”, by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona on the resurrection, which is the best introductory book you can get on how to argue the minimal facts case. If you like Lee Strobel’s interviewing style, then you can’t go wrong with this book, “The Case for the Real Jesus”. If you prefer books featuring debates between opposing scholars, check out William Lane Craig against Gerd Ludemann here, (audio of their re-match is here), William Lane Craig against John Dominic Crossan here, (audio of the debate is here), or N. T. Wright against John Dominic Crossan here, (audio of the debate only is here).

If you can get the audio for the N.T. Wright and J.D. Crossan debate, that’s quite useful because of the strong respondents, (Doug Geivett, Craig Evans and Charles Quarles). The audio from the Ben Wallace vs. Bart Ehrman debate is also worth getting. These are both available to buy here.

The pro-life position on abortion explained in plain English

Now, you may think that the view that the unborn deserve protection during pregnancy is something that you either take on faith or not. But I want to explain how you can make a case for the right to life of the unborn, just by using reason and evidence.

To defend the pro-life position, I think you need to sustain 3 arguments:

  1. The unborn is a living being with human DNA, and is therefore human.
  2. There is no morally-relevant difference between an unborn baby, and one already born.
  3. None of the justifications given for terminating an unborn baby are morally adequate.

Now, the pro-abortion debater may object to point 1, perhaps by claiming that the unborn baby is either not living, or not human, or not distinct from the mother.

Defending point 1: Well, it is pretty obvious that the unborn child is not inanimate matter. It is definitely living and growing through all 9 months of pregnancy. (Click here for a video that shows what a baby looks like through all 9 months of pregnancy). Since it has human DNA, that makes it a human. And its DNA is different from either its mother or father, so it clearly not just a tissue growth of the father or the mother. More on this point at Christian Cadre, here.

Secondly, the pro-abortion debater may try to identify a characteristic of the unborn that is not yet present or developed while it is still in the womb, and then argue that because the unborn does not have that characteristic, it does not deserve the protection of the law.

Defending point 2: You need to show that the unborn are not different from the already-born in any meaningful way. The main differences between them are: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependence. Once these characteristics are identified, you can explain that none of these differences provide moral justification for terminating a life. For example, babies inside and outside the womb have the same value, because location does not change a human’s intrinsic value. More at Stand to Reason, here.

Additionally, the pro-abortion debater may try to identify a characteristic of the already-born that is not yet present or developed in the unborn, and then argue that because the unborn does not have that characteristic, that it does not deserve protection, (e.g. – sentience). Most of the these objections that you may encounter are refuted in this essay by Francis Beckwith. Usually these objections fall apart because they assume the thing they are trying to prove, namely, that the unborn deserves less protection than the already born.

Finally, the pro-abortion debater may conceded your points 1 and 2, and admit that the unborn is fully human. But they may then try to provide a moral justification for terminating the life of the unborn, regardless.

Defending point 3: I fully grant that it is sometimes justifiable to terminate an innocent human life, if there is a moral justification. One of the best known justifications is Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “violinist” argument. This argument is summarized by Paul Manata, one of the experts over at Triablogue:

Briefly, this argument goes like this: Say a world-famous violinist developed a fatal kidney ailment and the Society of Music Lovers found that only you had the right blood-type to help. So, they therefore have you kidnapped and then attach you to the violinist’s circulatory system so that your kidneys can be used to extract the poison from his. To unplug yourself from the violinist would be to kill him; therefore, pro-lifers would say a person has to stay attached against her will to the violinist for 9 months. Thompson says that it would be morally virtuous to stay plugged-in. But she asks, “Do you have to?” She appeals to our intuitions and answers, “No.”

Manata then goes on to defeat Thomson’s proposal here, with a short, memorable illustration, which I highly recommend that you check out. More info on how to respond to similar arguments is here.

For those looking for advanced resources, Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, published the book Defending Life, with Cambridge University Press, 2007.

UPDATE: I found a neat video over at Tough Questions Answered of a 12-year old girl making the case for protecting the unborn. This is better than I can do!

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.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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