William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel and Christopher Hitchens panel discussion

UPDATE: Audio and video from a  panel discussion with Hitchens, Craig, etc. is linked here.

UPDATE: My play-by-play transcript of the debate is here.

This just in… William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Doug Wilson, Jim Denison and Christopher Hitchens will be participating in a panel discussion at the Dallas Convention Center. The event is being organized by Christianity Today and is being held on Saturday, March 21, 2009 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM.

The event is on the web here.

The New Atheists usually make two charges against Christianity: (1) that it is untrue and (2) that it is harmful. A panel of apologetics experts respond to an atheist critic with evidence from Scripture, science, and history about why the faith is both reasonable and good for the world.

Moderator: Stan Guthrie, Christianity Today
Panelists:

  • Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, The Case for a Creator (Zondervan)
  • William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith (Crossway)
  • Douglas Wilson, Is Christianity Good for the World? (Canon Press)
  • Christopher Hitchens, Is Christianity Good for the World? (Canon Press) and God Is Not Great (Twelve Books)
  • Jim Denison, Wrestling with God (Tyndale)

More information about the 2009 Christian Book Expo is here.

Video from Hitchens’ last debate with Dinesh D’Souza, is here.

There is one thing you really have to admire about Christopher Hitchens, in addition to his sound views on the war on terror. And that is that he has never run from a debate with anybody. It seems like it took forever to get Richard Dawkins to face-off against John Lennox, but Hitchens has no fear. He’s debated some pretty good Christian scholars, like Frank Turek (video) and Douglas Wilson (transcript).

You have to admire the man, and I hope that he does a good job of presenting his views and that our side, and the audience, is courteous and appreciative. This man has courage.

Incidentally, the Dawkins-Lennox debate is here, if you haven’t seen it. It’s a hoot, but it’s not my preferred debate format. I don’t know of any other debates with the other new atheists… if anyone has any links, post it in the comments.

UPDATE: I analyze Hitchens’ case against God here, from his debate against Frank Turek.

Michele Bachmann explains why we need to cut corporate tax rates

Representative Michele Bachmann
Representative Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann is by far my favorite House Representative. In a post dated 2/17/2009, she draws attention to the little-known fact that the combined corporate tax rate of the United States is the fourth highest in the world. This is important because the higher to corporate tax rate, the more likely it is that a corporation will move overseas and lay off all of its American workers. Also, a lower corporate tax rate attracts the best and brightest from abroad to move here to start their businesses, powered by American workers.

This might come as a surprise to you, but the United States is near the top of the list of industrialized countries with the highest corporate tax rates.

You may be asking yourself “so what,” or “who cares,” but it’s important to recognize that lower corporate tax rates result in attracting more investment capital. A reduction of the federal corporate tax rate would increase firms’ productivity and investment incentives, and ultimately stimulate our nation’s long-term competitiveness by enhancing economic freedom.  The end result would be a boon to your family budget.

The problem gets even worse when you realize that many eastern European nations are slashing their corporate tax rates and even imposing flat taxes, leading to astonishing economic growth. This growth attracts foreign investments away from the USA, because investors can get a better return wherever there are lower corporate tax rates.

Bachmann post cites a study from KPMG showing just how bad the USA is compared to other nations.

“U.S. corporate income tax rate is higher than all other global regions—14 percentage points higher than the global average and nearly 17 percentage points higher than the average among European Union nations. Of the 106 countries surveyed, only the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Japan impose a higher corporate tax rate than the combined rate of 40 percent. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait each have a staggering tax rate of 55 percent; Japan’s rate is 40.69 percent.”

She also cites alarming figures from Heritage Foundation.

“Even Europe’s old welfare states have joined the aggressive tax cut parade: Sweden has cut its corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 60 percent; Norway’s rate has dropped over 50 percent to 28 percent; and Denmark’s corporate tax rate is now 25 percent.”

Is it any wonder that American firms are laying off workers and shipping jobs overseas? Cutting corporate tax rates creates jobs, increases economic growth and, eventually, increases consumer spending. If you don’t believe me, believe the 69-page research paper published by the Congressional Budget Office. The Tax Foundation summarizes their findings here.

A new study from three prominent economists finds that employees suffer most when their corporate employers must pay high corporate taxes. That contradicts the theory that has prevailed for decades — that corporate taxes mainly hurt investors — but it supports a recent CBO study by Randolph that found workers bearing 70 percent of the burden of corporate income taxes.

They find that the workers’ share of the corporate tax burden ranges from 45 to 75 percent.

The Tax Foundation has a complete study of corporate tax rates across the world. We are not winning. We are losing. Badly.

On a positive note, I find it charming and delightful when women speak passionately about how fiscal conservatism supports marriage, family and charity. Bachmann and her husband Markus run their own business. She’s worked as a tax lawyer and an elected legislator, but she still found time for a period of home-schooling. And not only did she raise her own 5 children, but also 23 foster children.

In her speech at the Republican National Convention in 2008, (video, transcript), Bachmann makes the connection between fiscal conservatism, small government, a strong family and private charity.

As Republicans, we recognize that service is an innately personal characteristic. It is best achieved by individuals and community groups, faith-based organizations and charities. And, service thrives best in an environment of freedom. Government fosters service best when government binds it least.

As Republicans, we recognize that when you keep more of your hard-earned dollars, you are free to spend it as you choose on the charities that touch your heart and make a difference in your community.

Bachmann believes in marriage, family and charity. My favorite quote from her is from her profile in World Magazine.

Bachmann says for her one thread ties all the day’s obligations together: “radical abandonment to God’s call.”

For more on big-government socialism and its conflict with marriage, family and charity, see this video lecture, by the eminent economist Jennifer Roback Morse.

Bobby Jindal pushes education reform in Lousiana

Governor Jindal speaks about budget reform
Governor Jindal speaks about budget reform

Last year, my favorite Governor, Bobby Jindal, passed several laws to address discipline problems in the schools. One bill’s goal was to re-establish discipline in classrooms by empowering teachers. Another bill sought to protect teachers from frivolous lawsuits. A third toughens penalties for students who are absent or tardy. That was a great start, especially since it was miles away from the typical teacher union plan to spend more money without any guarantee of better student achievement.

But he goes even further here, in a post dated 2/17/2009. First, he expands the laws governing discipline in the classroom even further.

We will give teachers more authority to remove students from the classroom for unruly behavior, require that parents be notified when their child is removed, and administrators will have to give their teachers feedback and management skills to help them work with misbehaving students.

Additional plans to increase discipline include requiring that suspended students make up missed work, permitting courts to help our schools hold parents accountable for attending mandatory intervention programs with their kids, and to allow schools to work with the courts to enforce truancy penalties. These steps will ensure that not only teachers and administrators will be taking a more active role in discipline – parents will be held accountable as well.

He also proposes to strengthen charter schools.

…we will require that our public elementary and secondary education boards use a high-quality third party review process for approving charter school applications. By ensuring that all applications are measured by the same high-quality standards, we can make certain that only the best applications are approved.

The regulation of charter schools is OK because as I understand it, charter schools are public schools. And lastly, he proposes something that the teacher unions and children will hate, but that parents and taxpayers will love: teacher and student evaluation criteria.

…we will work to implement a comprehensive value-added assessment model, which will aid our schools in better determining teacher effectiveness and student improvement. Our state has completed nationally recognized research, which was recently praised by the National Council on Teacher Quality, dealing with the use of value-added data well-positions in teacher preparation programs to improve our current system. This model takes student achievement into account, which better informs our parents, teachers, and kids on the progress our students are making.

The article also mentions a dropout prevention program that is coming out soon. The press release goes on to discuss budget reforms and coastal infrastructure. He proposes web sites to make budget expenditures transparent to the taxpayers, as well as subjecting all spending to accountability standards.

Bobby Jindal, along with Mark Sanford in South Carolina, are my two favorite governors. Being a person of color myself, it is a real joy for me to see an Indian-American man universally regarded as the savior of the Republican party. In the Republican primaries of 2008, I favored Fred Thompson, because he had good ideas. But Jindal is a policy genius. And at 38 years old, he has youth, charisma and passion. What we need in the Republican party are compelling ideas, and people who are willing to debate with our opponents in order to convince them.

To find out more about Bobby Jindal, check out these links:

Interview with Michael Medved (audio, 25 minutes)
Interview with Rush Limbaugh (PDF)
The American Spectator: Hope Floats on the Bayou
RedState.com: Bobby Jindal Saves Louisiana
Townhall.com: The Future of Conservatism (Isn’t Running for President)
The Weekly Standard: Jindal All the Way
The National Review: The Governor Is Right
The Wall Street Journal: Bayou Boy Wonder
Townhall.com: Want real hope and change? Try Louisiana

12-year-old pro-life girl stuns pro-choice establishment with speech

This amazing 12-year-old girl delivers a defense of the pro-life position using reason and evidence. Be sure that you check out this video of her speech and read the full story here. She’s definitely bound for greatness!

Excerpt from the article:

“She was also told that if she went ahead with that topic, she would not be allowed to continue on in the speech competition,” Lia’s mother wrote in the email to the Moral Outcry blog.  “Initially, I tried helping her find other topics to speak on, but, in the end, she was adamant. She just felt she wanted to continue with the topic of abortion. So she forfeited her chance to compete in order to speak on something she was passionate about.”

At the schoolwide competition, the mom said one pro-choice teacher on the judge’s panel “didn’t even want to hear” the speech, and stepped down from the panel before Lia began.  After the speech, which Lia’s family said was well-received by both students and teachers, the judges initially told Lia she had indeed been disqualified.  But controversy among the judges eventually led to a reversal, and Lia’s family learned the next day that the panel agreed the girl deserved to win the competition.

Some men and women that I’ve met seemed to abandon apologetics and polemics in order to to get along with everyone. They also believe that God wants them to be non-confrontational with people. So they never disagree with others about anything. Well, let this young lady be a lesson to us all about the need to stand up to our opponents. I don’t think we should give up disagreements with others on important things, just so we can feel happy and be popular!

Lia has courage, something that I admire very much. Contrast courageous Lia with Barbara Kay’s piece on abortion, which Stephanie Gray demolished here. As someone who normally loves Barbara Kay’s pro-male, pro-marriage articles, I was really disappointed with her this time.

Lia had to fight hard to get the chance to even speak in the government-run public schools. Another example of how the pro-choice establishment responds to pro-life debaters is here. Jennifer Roback Morse notes that students can’t even defend traditional marriage in public schools, either. My own short defense of the case for the pro-life position is posted here.

William Lane Craig Ontario debate videos (York, Toronto, Waterloo)

Video and audio from William Lane Craig’s January 2009 speaking/debate tour in Ontario, Canada are here.

1. DOES GOD EXIST?
VIDEO: William Lane Craig vs Ronald De Sousa at York University (DivX Video File)

I watched this one and this was a lively debate, with cross-examination. I recommend this one, De Sousa is fully engaged in the debate. They’ve debated before. He really bears his burden of proof and doesn’t give an inch. He makes a lot of emotional denunciations, like “Christians are mean” and “the Bible is mean”. He proposed the unobservable multiverse to explain the fine-tuning. Is this what atheism has come to? Belief in fairies in order to weasel out of the progress of science?

He argues that the laws of physics, (math formulas that describe physical regularities), caused the entire physical universe to come into being. He argues that morality is what most people do in particular times and places, and Craig nails that. I found it silly to argue that morality is what people decide, yet God is expected to conform to this changing standard or he’s evil. I blogged about that problem here. De Sousa’s problem of evil argument is pretty vague. This is a solid engagement!

2. DOES GOD EXIST?
AUDIO: William Lane Craig vs James Robert Brown at the University of Toronto
Part 1 (welcome) Part 2 (Intro) Part 3 (Debate 1) Part 4 (Debate 2) Part 5 (Q&A)

They’ve known each other for a while and debated before. I just listened to the first two speeches and it sounds lame. Brown is a good speaker, but he talks about arguments that Craig never raises, like Aristotle’s prime mover and Behe’s irreducible complexity. He also started out with the genetic fallacy about how beliefs originate. His speech is really disorganized, flipping between snark and argument. He also proposed the unobservable multiverse to explain the fine-tuning. Sigh.

He believes in objectively morality, but he believes that there is no purpose in life, (no reason to follow the moral rules beyond personal satisfaction). He tried to argue the problem of evil, but it was not rigorous. Too much snark about Greek gods and flat earths. Atheists seem to think that the high number of false religions somehow disproves the claim of Christianity to be correct. There are lots of wrong answers to math questions – how does this undermine the correct answer? Because it hurts the other people’s feelings? WHO CARES!

3. DOES GOD MATTER?
VIDEO: William Lane Craig vs Christopher Dicarlo at University of Waterloo (Video)
(Or, watch it in 14 Youtube clips, starting here).

This is a pretty lame debate. Dicarlo is completely out of his element and has probably never debated a Christian scholar in his life. I don’t recommend this debate. I found him to be as uninformed as he was insulting.

I also posted video of Bill Craig’s appearance on the Michael Coren TV show, here. Bill’s latest newsletter talks a bit about his upcoming Quebec tour in February 2009:

Next week I’ll be back in Canada, this time in the even colder climes of Quebec. I have a debate on Jesus’ resurrection scheduled with the Muslim apologist Shabir Ally at McGill University on February 11, sandwiched between lectures I’ll give in French at L’Université Laval and L’Université de Montréal on February 10 and 12 on “Dieu Existe-t-il?” As always we appreciate your prayers!

By the way, I mailed my annual donation for Bill’s ministry today. If you like what Bill does, be sure and stop by his Reasonable Faith web site and leave him a contribution. You want to participate in the work of this fine defender of Christianity. If you can’t spare the money, then please pray for Bill.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

%d bloggers like this: