Full video and slides from the Heartland Institute GW conference

I first heard about this global warming conference on John Lott’s blog here. But at least I’ll be able to go through the slides and video of the presenters, because it’s all online here.

I was excited to see the Czech Republic President (and current European Union President) Vaclav Klaus in there as a keynote. And I see some other names I recognize, like Richard Lindzen of MIT who also gave a keynote address. I see Tom McClintock gave a keynote. He’s a solid conservative who ran against Arnold in the California gubernatorial race, after Gray Davis was dumped.

The only other people I recognize are Sen. John Sununu, Fred Singer and Roy Spencer. And Iain Murray, whose book I still have to buy.

Here’s something by Iain Murray in the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Open Market blog that’s relevant. The UN wants to impose a tax on wealthy nations to raise 750 billion dollars to stop ManBearPig global warming.

Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Program, has said that the global financial crisis provides an opportunity for a global green new deal.

Murray quotes Steiner in this Reuters article, on how he proposes to get the money:

“If, for argument’s sake, you were to put a five-year levy in OECD countries of $5 a barrel, you would generate $100 billion per annum. It translates into roughly 3 cents per liter,” he said.

“It would be almost, if not totally, unnoticed by the consumer”…

Remember a little while back, Sen. James Inhofe tried to stop UN global taxes? I don’t know if this counts as one, but it sounds like one to me!

Analyzing Christopher Hitchens’ case against God

UPDATE: My play-by-play transcript of the April 4, 2009 debate at Biola is here.

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In preparation for the upcoming debate between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens, I thought that I would go over his opening statement from a previous debate to see what we can expect from him. I used his opening speech from his debate with Frank Turek. The audio from that debate is here, at Brian Auten’s Apologetics 315 site.

Now the important thing to remember about a generic debate on whether GOD EXISTS is that there should be no mention of any particular God, such as the Christian God, and no mention of the history of any particular religion. All arguments that assume specific theological or moral doctrines or specific religious history are irrelevant to a debate on generic theism.

The question to be debated is: does a God who created and designed the universe, who has all the traditional properties of God, such as omniscience, omnipotence, omni-benevolence, etc. exist? That is the question being debated in a “Does God Exist?” debate.

Frank Turek’s case for theism:

Frank Turek made 4 relevant arguments for theism, each of which alone would support his conclusion, that God exists:

  • the origin of time, space, matter and energy out of nothing
  • the fine-tuning of the physical constants to support the minimum requirements for life of any kind
  • the origin of the biological information in the first self-replicating organism
  • objective, prescriptive moral rules need to be grounded by the designer of the universe

And he also listed 4 features of the universe that are more consistent with theism than atheism (= materialism).

  • non-material minds that allow rationality that would be impossible on materialism/determinism
  • the mathematical structure of the universe and its intelligibility to the scientific method
  • free will, which is required for moral responsibility and moral choices, requires a non-material mind/soul
  • our first person experience of consciousness is best explained by a non-material mind/soul

Hitchens’ case against theism

To counter, Hitchens has to argue against God using arguments in one of two forms:

  1. The concept of God is logically self-contradictory
  2. An objective feature of the world is inconsistent with the attributes of God

The claim that God does not exist is a claim to know something about God, namely, that he does not exist. This claim requires the speaker to bear a burden of proof. In a debate on “Does God Exist?”, Hitchens must deny that God exists. Let me be clear: Hitchens must defeat the arguments for the claim that God exists, and then defend the claim that God does not exist, and support that claim using arguments and evidence.

Hitchens makes 2 basic claims:

  • There are no good reasons to believe that theism is true
  • There are good reasons to believe atheism is true

So far so good. But what are his good reasons for atheism?

  1. I personally don’t like Christianity, therefore God doesn’t exist
    – Premise: I personally don’t like Catholicism getting rid of limbo
    – Premise: I personally don’t like Hell
    – Premise: I personally don’t like some episodes in church history
    – Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  2. The plurality of religions means that no religious claims can be correct, therefore God doesn’t exist
    – Premise: There are lots of religions
    – Premise: The religions all disagree in their truth claims about the external world
    – Conclusion: No religion’s claims can be correct, therefore God doesn’t exist
  3. I believe in one less God than you, therefore God doesn’t exist
    – Premise: You disbelieve in every God I do, except one
    – Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  4. Religious people are stupid and evil, therefore God doesn’t exist
    – Premise: Religious people are ignorant
    – Premise: Religious people are fearful
    – Premise: Religious people are servile
    – Premise: Religious people are masochistic
    – Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  5. Evolution explains how life progressed from single cell to today’s bio-diversity, therefore God doesn’t exist
    – Premise: Modern theists like Turek believe in Paley’s argument, and argued it in this debate
    – Premise: Paley’s argument was refuted by evolution
    – Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  6. God wouldn’t have made the universe this way, therefore God doesn’t exist
    – Premise: If God exists, then he would have made the universe my way
    – Premise: The heat death of the universe wasn’t done my way
    – Premise: The extinction of species wasn’t done my way
    – Premise: The size of the universe wasn’t done my way
    – Premise: The amount of open space wasn’t done my way
    – Premise: The large number of stars wasn’t done my way
    – Premise: The age of the universe wasn’t done my way
    – Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  7. Religion makes people do things that I don’t like, therefore God doesn’t exist
    – Premise: Some religions do suicide bombing
    – Premise: Some religions do child abuse
    – Premise: Some religions do genital mutilation
    – Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  8. If you speak a sentence, I can repeat the same words as you said, therefore God doesn’t exist
    – Premise: Anything that you say is good, I can say is good too
    – Premise: Anything that you say is bad, I can say is bad too
    – Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  9. Atheists are morally superior to religious people, therefore God doesn’t exist
    – Premise: I act in a way that is consistent with my personal, arbitrary moral preferences
    – Premise: You don’t act in a way that is consistent with my personal, arbitrary moral preferences
    – Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  10. If I believe in God, I would have to submit to an authority
    – Premise: If I believe in God, then I can’t do whatever I want
    – Premise: But I want to do whatever I want
    – Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  11. I don’t like certain Christian doctrines, therefore arguments for God from science fail and therefore God doesn’t exist
    – Premise: I don’t like the atonement
    – Premise: I don’t like the virgin birth
    – Premise: I don’t like the incarnation
    – Premise: I don’t like original sin
    – Premise: I don’t like the resurrection
    – Conclusion: Arguments that are built on recent discoveries from the progress of science like the big bang, fine-tuning, origin of life, etc. are incorrect, and therefore God doesn’t exist

General comments about Hitchens’ case:

  • The form of all of these arguments is logically invalid. The conclusions do not follow from the premises using the laws of logic, such as modus ponens and modus tollens.

Specific comments about each argument:

  • Argument 1 tries to disprove God by arguing from Hitchens’ personal preferences about specific Christian doctrines. Christian doctrines are irrelevant to a debate about generic theism. And there is no reason why God should be bound by the personal, subjective preferences of one man. In fact, the concept of God entails that his unchanging nature is the standard of good and evil. So, this argument doesn’t disprove God, it’s just a statement of personal, subjective preference.
  • Argument 2: Just because there are different truth claims made by different groups, doesn’t mean no one is correct. Mormons believe that matter existed eternally, and Jews believe it was created out of nothing. The big bang theory shows that the Mormons are wrong and the Jews are right.
  • Argument 3: First of all, the debate is a about a generic Creator and Designer, not any particular religious conception of God. So the argument is irrelevant. Moreover, Christians reject Zeus, for example, because Zeus is supposed to exist in time and space, and therefore could not be the cause of the beginning of time and space.
  • Argument 4: This is just the ad hominem fallacy. Hitchens is attacking the character of the theist, but that doesn’t show theism is false.
  • Argument 5: This argument can be granted for the sake of argument, even though it’s debatable. The point is that it is irrelevant, since it doesn’t refute any of Turek’s actual scientific arguments like the big bang, the fine-tuning of the physical constants, the origin of information in the simplest living cell.
  • Argument 6: Again, there is no reason to think that God should be bound by Hitchens’ personal opinion of how God should operate.
  • Argument 7: This is the ad hominem fallacy again. The good behavior of religious believers is not a premise in any of Turek’s FOUR arguments for theism. Therefore, Hitchens’ point is irrelevant to the debate.
  • Argument 8: The fact that the atheist can parrot moral claims is not the issue. Being able to speak English words is not what grounds objective, prescriptive morality. The issue is the ontology of moral rules, the requirement of free will in order to have moral responsibility and moral choices, ultimate significance of moral actions, and the rationality of self-sacrificial moral actions.
  • Argument 9: This is just the ad hominem fallacy again.
  • Argument 10: This is not argument so much as it reveals that the real reason Hitchens is an atheist is emotional. One might even say infantile.
  • Argument 11: Again, these specific Christian doctrines are irrelevant to a debate about generic theism. And Hitchen’s subjective, personal preferences about Christian doctrine certainly do not undermine the objective scientific support for the premises in Turek’s 3 scientific arguments.

So, in short, Hitchens lost the debate. A talking parakeet who could only say the 3 premises of the Kalam argument over and over, in a squeaky high-pitched voice, would have defeated him. Atheists and agnostics can do a lot better. That is, if the purpose of the debate is to win and not to just hurl insults at people on the other side.

Worst. Debater. Ever.

Here are some posts on defending Christianity: the big bang, the fine-tuning, the origin of life, the irrationality of morality on atheism, debates on morality, the irrationality of moral judgements against God on atheism, the hiddenness of God, the problem of evil, religious pluralism, the problem of the unevangelized and how to defend the resurrection without assuming that the Bible is generally reliable.

UPDATE: On Hot Air, I noticed that legions of British atheists are signing up to be de-baptized. Probably fans of Hitchens and his “I woudn’t have done it that way” case against God. As well, Hot Air is covering a story that scientologists and atheists are uniting. Because, you know, they are both science-based.

Why fiscal conservatives should care about marriage

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Free Canuckistan! Thanks for the linky, Binky!

The percentage of out-of-wedlock births is now 40% of all births. Does this have an effect on the size of government? FOX News has a story on the breakdown of the nuclear family. (H/T Institute for Marriage and Public Policy)

Excerpt:

…births to unwed mothers reached an all-time high of about 40 percent, continuing a trend that started years ago. More than three-quarters of these women were 20 or older.

For a variety of reasons, it’s become more acceptable for women to have babies without a husband, said Duke University’s S. Philip Morgan, a leading fertility researcher.

…And more women – especially those in their 30s and 40s – are choosing to have children despite their single status.

For some reason, and I know what that reason is, society has decided that men are unnecessary to the task of raising children. A man’s job is just to supply sperm and money. And that money is taxed away from men by the government and redistributed, via expensive social programs, to unwed mothers. And this is how the state takes over the traditional role of men as protector and provider.

The House Ways and Means Committee knows about the effect of raising children without fathers.

US House Testimony on Child support and Fatherhood proposals (Hearing 107-38).  June 28, 2001, online House version; http://waysandmeans.house.gov/legacy.asp?file=legacy/humres/107cong/6-28-01/record/chillegalfound.htm) — Father absence, a byproduct of divorce, illegitimacy, and the erosion of the traditional family, is responsible for; filling our prisons, causing psychological problems, suicide, psychosis, gang activity, rape, physical and sexual child abuse, violence against women, general violence, alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, lower academic achievement, school drop-outs, relationship instability, gender identity confusion, runaways, homelessness, cigarette smoking, and any number of corrosive social disorders.

So then why does the government continue to subsidize out-of-wedlock birth? When you subsidize something, you get more of it. When you tax something, you get less of it. Is this so hard for social progressives to understand? Too much compassion, without standards, costs society in the long run, (see Jewish scholar Dennis Prager’s piece here).

More statistics on the cost of fatherlessness here at Fathers for Life..

CBO: Budget adds 4.8 trillion to national debt, China worried

Hot Air has this:

In a new report that provides the first independent analysis of President Obama’s budget request, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that the administration’s agenda would generate deficits averaging nearly $1 trillion a year over the next decade$2.3 trillion more than the president predicted when he unveiled his spending plan just one month ago.

Tax hikes are mentioned here at the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Open Market blog:

Obama’s budget would explode the national debt while increasing taxes. That’s the conclusion of the Congressional Budget Office, controlled by lawmakers who support Obama. “The President’s proposals would add $4.8 trillion to the national debt,” increasing “the cumulative deficit from 2010 to 2019 to $9.3 trillion.” The budget also adds $1.9 trillion in tax increases.

And the stimulus bill Obama claimed was needed to avert “disaster” and “irreversible decline“? It will shrink the economy over the long run, since its “increase in government debt is expected to displace or ‘crowd out’ . . . private capital.”

…The CBO’s conclusion confirms its earlier findings that the stimulus package will cut wages and the size of the economy in the long run, despite costing $800 billion. The stimulus package also gutted welfare reform.

The Heritage Foundation blog The Foundry has more. Here are just a few of their bullet points:

• He raises taxes not just on upper-income taxpayers as he promised, but on all Americans through his misnamed “climate revenues”, and as his budget indicates, this is just a starter program.

• The President calls for enormous increases in government spending on health care and climate change, but on a great many other programs.

• The CBO saw through perhaps the greatest chicanery ever in federal budgeting when President Obama first assumed the full costs of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in perpetuity, and then claimed he is cutting spending when he asserts a change in policy and those spending amounts disappear.

The more he spends, the more it looks like he’s going to have to print money to get out of this, or raise taxes on producers and destroy the economy completely. And all that makes China very, very worried. Here is an article from the leftist New York Times, headlined “China’s Leader Says He Is ‘Worried’ Over U.S. Treasuries”.

Excerpt:

The Chinese premier Wen Jiabao expressed concern on Friday about the safety of China’s $1 trillion investment in American government debt, the world’s largest such holding, and urged the Obama administration to provide assurances that its investment would keep its value in the face of a global financial crisis.

…Mr. Wen said he was “worried” about China’s holdings of Treasury bonds and other debt, and that China was watching United States economic developments closely.

If Obama prints more money, this would raise inflation and devalue the US currency, including the Treasury Bonds held by China.

But economists have cited several possible threats, led by the prospect that the dollar’s value will depreciate over time, lowering the value of China’s holdings.

“In the short run, the dollar is appreciating” because global investors see the American currency as a safe haven at a time of crisis, Bai Chong-En, who heads the economics department at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said in a telephone interview. “But we don’t know what’s going to happen in the long run. If the American stimulus package is financed mainly by borrowing, then that may affect the future value of Treasury securities.”

Some specialists also say that high inflation could erode the dollar’s value. Finally, some believe that China’s investment in American debt is now so vast that, should it need foreign exchange in some emergency, it would be unable to sell its Treasury securities without flooding the market and driving down their price.

“The only possibility, really, is that China will have to hold these bonds until maturity,” said Shen Minggao, the chief economist at Caijing, a Beijing-based business magazine. “If you start to sell those bonds, the market may collapse.

And Heritage Foundation is reporting that they are even talking about switching out of the US dollar as their reserve currency.

Sigh. I found an article by Victor Davis Hanson (H/T Stop the ACLU) where he explores why Obama is destroying the economy. He has three possible solutions, and he analyzes each of them.

  1. Clueless
  2. Not so clueless
  3. A mean streak

Personally, I vote for 1). And that goes for anyone voted for him. And I’ve read David Freddoso’s book, so that’s where I am coming from. But you can read the VDH article and make up your own mind.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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