Matthew Vines and Michael Brown debate homosexuality and the Bible on Moody radio

The audio of the Matthew Vines vs Michael Brown debate is streamed here on the Moody site.

Details:

Can you be gay and Christian? Matthew Vines says you can and he’s created a viral video and best-selling book defending his view. This Saturday on Up for Debate, Vines joins host Julie Roys to debate author and leading evangelical apologist, Dr. Michael Brown. Is gay monogamy an option for Christians? Is it unloving to reject gay marriage? Listen and join the discussion this Saturday at 8 a.m. Central Time on Up for Debate!

Summary key: Julie Roys (JR), Matthew Vines (MV), Michael Brown (MB)

Summary:

Opening speeches:

  • JR: Why should Christians be open to reinterpreting the Bible on homosexuality?
  • MV: Consider the lives and testimonies of gay Christians. Here is my personal story.
  • MV: According to the Bible, a person with same-sex attractions would have to embrace lifelong celibacy. I refuse to do that.
  • MV: There are 6 passages in the Bible that are relevant to the goodness of homosexuality. All are negative.
  • MV: None of these passages address gay relationships that are “long-term” and “faithful” that are based on “commitment” and “love”.
  • JR: You say that it is “damaging” for Christians to disagree with you views, is that true?
  • MV: Yes. One of my friends declared his homosexuality and he did not feel safe to come home. He felt pain because Christians disagreed with him.
  • MV: You cannot ask a person with same-sex attractions to be celibate, it causes too much harm to ask gays to abstain from sexual relationships.
  • JR: Respond to Matthew.
  • MB: The Bible only permits heterosexual sexuality and in every case condemns homosexual acts.
  • MB: Matthew is taking his sexual preferences and activities as given, and reinterpreting the Bible to fit it.
  • MB: Genesis talks about women being made to help men, and to fulfill God’s commandment to procreate and fill the Earth.
  • MB: The Bible speaks about the complementarity of the sexes when talking about how two become one in marriage.
  • MB: I am very sensitive to the stories of people who are gay who experience discrimination as “gay Christians”.
  • MB: You can feel sad for people who have two conflicting commitments, but that doesn’t mean we should redefine what the Bible says.
  • JR: Stop talking, we have a break.

JR takes a caller for the next topic:

  • Caller 1: I had same-sex attractions and I was able to change my sexuality.
  • JR: Matthew, respond to that.
  • MV: Alan Chambers of Exodus International says that 99.9% of people he worked with had not changed their gay orientation.
  • MV: Lifelong celibacy is not acceptable to gays, so the Bible must be reinterpreted to suit gays.
  • MB: Matthew thinks that God himself did not understand the concept of sexual orientation and inadvertently hurt gays because of his lack of knowledge.
  • MB: There is a solution in the Bible for people who cannot be celibate, and that solution is heterosexual marriage
  • MB: If a person is only attracted to pre-teen girls, do we then have to re-write the Bible to affirm that so they won’t be “harmed”?
  • MB: Alan Chambers was speaking for his own group, and his statement does not account for the fact that thousands of people DO change.
  • JR: What about the Jones/Yarhouse study that found that 38% of reparative therapy subjects were successful in changing or chastity?
  • MV: (no response to the question)
  • MV: (to Brown) do you accept that the Bible forces gays to live out lifelong celibacy

Another break, then Brown replies:

  • MB: Yes. But change is possible.
  • MV: Do you know of any Christian who acknowledged that this was the consequence of the Bible’s teaching for gays?
  • MB: Paul’s explanation that the options for ALL Christians are 1) celibacy or 2) heterosexual marriage. For 2000 years.
  • MV: Paul (in Romans 1) is talking about people who are not “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships.
  • MV: Paul was not aware of “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships at the time he wrote his prohibitions in Romans 1.
  • JR: How do you know that fixed sexual orientation is true? And that the Biblical authors would written different things if they knew?
  • JR: Are there any references in the first century to “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships?
  • MB: Yes, in my book I quote prominent historian N. T. Wright who documents that those relationships were known.
  • MB: Matthew’s view requires that God did not know about sexual orientation when ordaining the Bible’s content.
  • MB: Leviticus 18 is for all people, for all time. This was not just for the Jews, this was for everyone.
  • MV: I am not saying that Paul was wrong because he was ignorant.
  • MV: Paul was writing in a context where “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships were unknown.
  • MV: NT Wright does not cite first century texts, he cites a problematic 4th century text.
  • MV: Absence of 1st-century references to “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships means that God did not intend to prohibit them.
  • MB: Whenever the Bible speaks about homosexuality, it is opposed to it – Old Testament and New Testament.

Another break, then the conclusion:

  • JR: Respond to the Leviticus prohibition, which prohibits homosexuality for everyone, for all time.
  • MV: It is a universal prohibition on male same-sex intercourse, but it does not apply to Christians.
  • MV: For example, Leviticus prohibits sex during a woman’s menstrual period. And Christians are not bound by that.
  • MV: What is the reason for this prohibition of male-male sex in Leviticus? It’s not affirm the complementarity of the sexual act.
  • MV: The Bible prohibits male-male sex because it is written for a patriarchal culture.
  • MV: In a patriarchal culture, women are viewed as inferior. That’s why the Bible prohibits a man from taking the woman’s role in sex.
  • MB: The prohibition in Leviticus is a universal prohibition against male-male sex, applicable in all times and places.
  • MB: Homosexual sex is a violation of the divine order.
  • MB: We can see already the consequences of normalizing this: gay marriage, and supports for polygamy and polyamory.
  • MV: So the earliest reference there is to a “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationship is a 4th century text.
  • MV: But that gay relationship is not like modern gay relationships.

I have a few comments about Vines’ points below.

My comments:

Even heterosexuals who have not married are called upon to embrace lifelong celibacy. I am in my early 40s and am a virgin because I have not married. I wouldn’t seek to reinrepret the Bible to allow premarital sex just because what I am doing is difficult. I would rather just do what the Bible says than reinterpret it to suit me. And it’s just as hard for me to be chaste as it would be for him to be. In short, it’s a character issue. He takes his right to recreational sex as non-negotiable, and reinterprets the Bible to suit. I take the Bible as non-negotiable, and comply with it regardless of whether it seems to make me less happy. With respect to the purposes of God for me in this world, my happiness is expendable. If I don’t find someone to marry, I’m going to be “afflicted” with the lifelong celibacy that Vines seems to think is torture, but let me tell you – God is happy with the contributions I am making for him, and if I have to be chaste through my whole life, I am 100% fine with that. I serve the King. And not the reverse.

Notice that he talks about “long-term” but not permanent relationships, and “faithful” but not exclusive. This is important because the statistics show that gay relationships (depending on whether it is female-female or male-male) are prone to instability and/or infidelity. I just blogged on that recently, with reference to the published research on the subject. Vines is talking about a situation that does not obtain in the real world – according to the data. Gay relationships do not normally value permanence and exclusivity in the way that opposite-sex marriage relationships do, especially where the couple regularly attends church. The divorce rate and infidelity rate for religious couples is far below the rates for gay couples, depending on the sexes involved. Vines is committed to the idea that marriage is about feelings, e.g. – “love”, but that’s not the public purpose of marriage. Marriage is not about love, it’s about complementarity of the sexes and providing for the needs of children. We have published studies like this one showing that there are negative impacts to children who are raised by gay couples, which dovetails with studies showing that children need a mother and that children need a father. We should not normalize any relationship that exposes children to harm. We should prefer to inconvenience adults than to harm children.

Matthew Vines made an argument that Christians have to stop saying that homosexuality is wrong, because it makes gay people feel excluded. I wrote previously about the argument that gay activists use where they say “if you don’t agree with me and celebrate me and affirm me, then I’ll commit suicide”. In that post, I quoted a prominent gay activist who made exactly that argument. I don’t find the threats to self-destruction to be a convincing argument for the truth of the view that gay marriage being the same as heterosexual marriage. In fact, this is confirmed by a recent study which showed that features of gay relationships themselves, and not social disapproval, is to blame for high rates of suicide in the gay community.

Vines seems to want to argue that the context in which the Bible authors were writing did not allow them to address the problem of gays in “long-term”, “faithful” relationships. Well, we have already seen that statistically speaking, those relationships are in the minority. One British study mentioned in the post I linked to above found that only 25% of gay couples were intact after 8 years. The number is 82% for heterosexual marriages, and that doesn’t filter by couples who abstain from premarital sex and who attend church regularly. If you add those two criteria, the number is going to be well above 82% in my opinion. Studies show that premarital chastity and church attendance vastly improve the stability and quality of marriages.

In addition, Vines is trying to argue that 1) the Bible authors were not aware of “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships and 2) their failure to explicitly disqualify these “long-term”, “stable” gay sexual relationships means that the Bible actually condones them. A friend of mine pointed out that this is a textbook case of the argument from silence, where someone asserts that because something is not explicitly condemned, then it must be OK. Carried through to its logical end, that would mean that things like identity theft are OK, because they are not mentioned explicitly. Brown asserted that there was a blanket prohibition on homosexual acts. He is arguing from what we know. Vines says that “long-term”, “faithful” homosexual relationships are not mentioned, and are therefore OK. He is arguing from what we don’t know. And he is trying to reverse the burden of proof so that he doesn’t have to show evidence for his view. Brown wouldn’t take the bait. The fact of the matter is that no one for the last 2000 years of church history have taken Vines’ view. Every single Christian before Vines, who were closer to Jesus’ teachings than Vines, understood the verses that Brown cited to be providing a blanket prohibition on homosexual sex acts. If Vines wants to claim that the Bible condones what he wants it to condone, he has to produce some positive evidence from the text or from church history or church fathers. He has nothing to support his case that could convince anyone that this is what Christians have believed, and ought to believe.

Finally, if you are looking for another debate, I blogged about a debate between Michael Brown and Eric Smaw. There’s a video and summaries of the opening speeches in that post.

Older career woman calls Dennis Prager show to warn young women about marriage

I used to listen to the Dennis Prager show all the time, and my favorite hour was the male-female hour, which is the second hour every Wednesday. In that hour, you will hear some of the most frank discussion of male and female issues. In a recent male-female hour, a 50-year old woman called in to give advice to younger women.

Prager explains in National Review:

Every Wednesday, the second hour of my national radio show is the “Male/Female Hour.” A few weeks ago, a woman named Jennifer called in. For reasons of space, I have somewhat shortened her comments. Every young woman should read them. This is precisely what she said:

Dennis, I want to get right to it. I’m 50 years old with four college degrees. I was raised by a feminist mother with no father in the home. My mother told me get an education to the maximum level so that you can get out in the world, make a lot of money. And that’s the path I followed. I make adequate money. I don’t make a ton of money. But I do make enough to support my own household.

I want to tell women in their 20s: Do not follow the path that I followed. You are leading yourself to a life of loneliness. All of your friends will be getting married and having children, and you’re working to compete in the world, and what you’re doing is competing with men. Men don’t like competitors. Men want a partner. It took me until my late 40s to realize this.

And by the time you have your own household with all your own bills, you can’t get off that track, because now you’ve got to make the money to pay your bills. It’s hard to find a partner in your late 40s to date because you also start losing self-confidence about your looks, your body. It’s not the same as it was in your 20s. You try to do what you can to make your life fulfilling. I have cats and dogs. But it’s lonely when you see your friends having children, going on vacations, planning the lives of their children, and you don’t do anything at night but come home to your cats and dogs. I don’t want other women to do what I have done.

How did this happen to her?

Somebody asked me the other day, “Why did you stay single and never have kids?” There’s answers: Because I was brainwashed by my mother into this. But it’s hard and it’s shameful to tell people, “I don’t know. I ran out of time.”

There’s not a good answer for it except “I was programmed to get into the workforce, compete with men and make money.” Supposedly, that would be a fulfilling life. But I was told that by a feminist mother who was divorced, who hated her husband — my father.

She tried to steer me on what she thought was the right path, but feminism is a lie. That’s what I want women to know.

I didn’t realize this until late in life. I want to tell women: Find someone in your 20s. That’s when you’re still very cute. That’s when you’re still amiable to working out problems with someone. It’s harder in your 50s, when you’ve lived alone, to compromise with someone, to have someone in your home and every little thing about them annoys you because you’re so used to being alone. It’s hard to undo that, so don’t do what I did. Find someone in your 20s.

Now I have a lot I want to say about this column, but I really liked what Robert Stacy McCain said in his post.

He wrote:

There is an entire category of self-help books by Christian women whose devotion to “traditional family values” somehow never resulted in them walking down the aisle, and so they write about the “godly single” life and offer relationship advice (which would seem to be the blind leading the blind, so to speak). [Older traditional conservative unmarried women] often blame men for their failure, complaining that men need to “man up.” The more likely explanation, of course, is that these women actually had matrimonial opportunities in their youth, but just didn’t play their cards right and, rather than confess their errors — “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa” — instead rationalize their failure by scapegoating men.

I don’t want young women to be wasting their teens and 20s like this woman is, choosing men for relationships using criteria that have nothing at all to do with marriage, or what a man does in a marriage:

This person is looking for domestic violence, not a husband
She’s looking for drama, domestic violence and instability – not for a husband

I would advise young, unmarried women today not to indulge in drunkenness and promiscuity in their late teens and 20s. We know from studies that virgin brides make for a more stable and happier marriage. Given the divorce laws, and the high number of divorces for unhappiness, it makes sense to be a virgin and choose a virgin to marry. I think young women should focus their energy on relationships with men who don’t want sex before marriage, but would prefer to commit and start a family. Although these men may not be “attractive” according to superficial criteria, they should be selected because they are good at marriage, and want to marry sooner, rather than later.

On the other hand, I would advise successful man to choose a woman who is attracted to his abilities as a husband and father. Choose a woman who respects your ability to be serious, to be self-controlled, to be focused on serving others, and to achieve what you set out to achieve. Men need respect more than they need oxygen. In order to get that respect, a man has to choose a woman who has, from earliest times, preferred men who have good moral character, demonstrated leadership ability, and a proven record of achieving what he set out to achieve by wise decision-making.

Where are all the good women?

Captain Capitalism says that although successful men would like to have a wife and children, they are not finding any women who are qualified to be wives and mothers.

He writes:

It is a very REAL fact men are facing today when it comes to marriage – that the only younger women out there to date and potentially marry up are all brainwashed, leftist, NPC women.  They ALL vote democrat.  They ALL are feminists.  They ALL put their career above everything else.  They ALL have crippling debts.  They ALL have dubious careers.  And to any man who takes having a wife and forming a family seriously, these women are simply unqualified for the job.  This isn’t to say literally “all” women are like this (there are engineers, accountants, and traditional women), but the statistics are so skewed, so bad, there is effectively no choice for most men today.

There’s a wonderful opportunity here for Christian women to distinguish themselves from women who aren’t making good decisions about men and marriage.

For example, I think it’s a good idea for women to have a worldview that is pro-marriage. I even wrote a post about that, with 10 questions to evaluate whether you have a marriage-friendly worldview.

It’s also a good idea for young Christian women to prepare to how to discuss their faith intelligently with a man. I put together a helpful list of 10 questions that a woman who is serious about her Christian faith should be able to answer.

Ideally, it would be common for Christian women to understand how to discuss their faith in a reasoned way with non-Christians, using scientific and historical evidence. That will prepare her to evaluate a man’s spiritual leadership ability, and to answer the questions that serious Christian men will ask her to see if she is ready for marriage. Men ask these questions because we think about choosing someone who has an authentic faith in order to raise our children. The idea of putting an informed Christian woman in the mother role excites us. Note: men know that debt-free wives can have children sooner, and that means we will get more children. If you want to get married, and have lots of children, then choose a STEM degree, so you can get out of debt quickly with only a few years of work.

Christian women should be more serious about preparing for marriage, and choosing marriage-minded men, than this lady:

Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?
Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?

There’s no question today that women have the intelligence and ability to succeed in careers. We should be teaching them to apply their intelligence and ability to understanding how to prepare for marriage. They should understand when men want to marry and why men want to marry, and then govern their own decisions and priorities so that they achieve the goal of getting married. Not every man is marriage-ready and commitment-focused. But if women are serious about marriage, then they should choose to get into relationships ONLY with those men who are serious about marriage. They shouldn’t choose to waste their best years on fun with men who don’t want to commit to them.

Can atheist morality prevent Neil DeGrasse Tyson from raping a student?

Richard Dawkins on atheism, morality, free will and human rights
Richard Dawkins on atheism, morality, free will and human rights

Well, I’m been monitoring the morality of prominent atheists and noting a lot of shortcomings. In this post, I’ll first look at the allegations against prominent atheist Neil deGrasse Tyson, then review the morality of other atheists: Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss and Richard Carrier.

Daily Wire has the latest on Neil deGrasse Tyson:

Dr. Katelyn Allers, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Bucknell University, claims Tyson allegedly groped her at an American Astronomical Society after-party in 2009.

Tyson’s former assistant Ashley Watson described an incident in which he allegedly pressured her to join him at his apartment for wine. Later, he made several advances, claims Watson, who says she quit her job after the event.

These two allegations come one year after musician Tchiya Amet accused Tyson of raping her during graduate school.

Now let’s look at Richard Dawkins:

I want to raise another question that interests me. Why are we so obsessed with monogamous fidelity in the first place?

[…]Why should you deny your loved one the pleasure of sexual encounters with others, if he or she is that way inclined?

I, for one, feel drawn to the idea that there is something noble and virtuous in rising above nature in this way.

[…]And why don’t we all admire — as I increasingly do — those rare free spirits confident enough to rise above jealousy, stop fretting about who is “cheating on” whom.

What about his ability to stay married?:

In 1984, Dawkins divorced his wife of 17 years, Marian Stamp; later that same year, he married Eve Barham. Dawkins also divorced Barham, though the precise circumstances of this divorce are unclear. He married science fiction actress Lalla Ward in 1992; at present, the two are still married.

Alas, that last quote is outdated. He was legally separated in 2016 from Lalla Ward. This is what I would expect, given his view on the morality of marital fidelity.

Now famous atheist Lawrence Krauss:

Hensley said… Krauss made a comment about her eye makeup, and got very close to her face. Suddenly, he lifted her by the arms and pushed her onto the bed beneath him, forcibly kissing her and trying to pull down the crotch of her tights. Hensley said she struggled to push him off. When he pulled out a condom, Hensley said, she got out from under him, said “I have to go,” and rushed out of the room.

[…]BuzzFeed News has learned that the incident with Hensley is one of many wide-ranging allegations of Krauss’s inappropriate behavior over the last decade — including groping women, ogling and making sexist jokes to undergrads, and telling an employee at Arizona State University, where he is a tenured professor, that he was going to buy her birth control so she didn’t inconvenience him with maternity leave.

And famous atheist Richard Carrier:

In a recent blog post, entitled “Coming Out Poly + A Change of Life Venue”, the esteemed Dr. Richard Carrier PhD, discusses his “coming out” as polyamorous, an “orientation” that he just discovered at the young age of 47.

[…]Carrier claims that after 17 years of marriage, he cheated on his wife multiple times, for reasons that he won’t disclose.  In the midst of his infidelity, he suddenly “discovered” (as a middle aged man) that he was polyamorous.  Even though his wife attempted to make the marriage work by allowing him to see other women under the guise of an “open marriage”, Carrier still decided to kick her to the curb.   So in Carrier’s view, his affairs were not a mistake, but rather a fun new “lifestyle choice” that he will pursue, regardless of the past commitment to his wife.

Atheist Michael Shermer has also been accused of rape, but I don’t think the allegations are credible enough to quote. Although he does admit having sex outside of marriage with her, which disgusts me.

Let’s be frank. Although there are some conservative atheists, the majority of them favor relaxing the moral rules on sexuality and marriage. Most atheists are more concerned about stopping religious people from setting the rules around sex and marriage than they are about following the moral law. I think that the rising popularity of atheism is significantly to blame for the breakdown of the family, and the harm that’s being caused to children who have to struggle with defective or absent parents. Although there are exceptions, most atheists are more concerned about adult selfishness than they are with the needs of children (especially unborn children). Even if they don’t intend for children to suffer from their decisions, children do indeed suffer. Children do best in marriages that are faithful and stable, and the Sexual Revolution – which was championed by the secular left – has clearly not helped help children to get what they need.

What does it take for a person to have a reason to be moral?

1) Objective moral values

There needs to be a way to distinguish what is good from what is bad. For example, the moral standard might specify that being kind to children is good, but torturing them for fun is bad. If the standard is purely subjective, then people could believe anything and each person would be justified in doing right in their own eyes. Even a “social contract” is just based on people’s opinions. So we need a standard that applies regardless of what people’s individual and collective opinions are.

2) Objective moral duties

Moral duties (moral obligations) refer to the actions that are obligatory based on the moral values defined in 1). Suppose we spot you 1) as an atheist. Why are you obligated to do the good thing, rather than the bad thing? To whom is this obligation owed? Why is rational for you to limit your actions based upon this obligation when it is against your self-interest? Why let other people’s expectations decide what is good for you, especially if you can avoid the consequences of their disapproval?

3) Moral accountability

Suppose we spot you 1) and 2) as an atheist. What difference does it make to you if you just go ahead and disregard your moral obligations to whomever? Is there any reward or punishment for your choice to do right or do wrong? What’s in it for you?

4) Free will

In order for agents to make free moral choices, they must be able to act or abstain from acting by exercising their free will. If there is no free will, then moral choices are impossible. If there are no moral choices, then no one can be held responsible for anything they do. If there is no moral responsibility, then there can be no praise and blame. But then it becomes impossible to praise any action as good or evil.

5) Ultimate significance

Finally, beyond the concept of reward and punishment in 3), we can also ask the question “what does it matter?”. Suppose you do live a good life and you get a reward: 1000 chocolate sundaes. And when you’ve finished eating them, you die for real and that’s the end. In other words, the reward is satisfying, but not really meaningful, ultimately. It’s hard to see how moral actions can be meaningful, ultimately, unless their consequences last on into the future.

Theism rationally grounds all 5 of these. Atheism cannot ground any of them. 

It’s easy enough for an atheist to imitate the people around him when he is in a society grounded in Judeo-Christian values. But when no one is around to watch him, what reason does he have to do the right thing? And what is the right thing, in an accidental universe?

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Pro-life Irish nurses, doctors and midwives will be forced to participate in abortions

Unborn Baby - 10 weeks old
Unborn Baby – 10 weeks old

The dream of the pro-abortion left is not only to have abortion on demand. They also want four more things: 1) that pro-life medical personnel be forced to participate in it, 2) that pro-life taxpayers be forced to fund it, 3) that pro-life companies be forced to cover it in their insurance plans, and 4) that speech critical of abortion be silenced.

Here’s the latest from Ireland, reported by Life News:

Abortion politics are nearing a boiling point in Ireland as hundreds of doctors, nurses and midwives say pro-abortion politicians have repeatedly ignored their concerns.

Parliament is getting close to passing a radical pro-abortion bill that would legalize abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to six months in a wide variety of circumstances. It would force taxpayers to pay for abortions and force Catholic hospitals to provide them. The bill also strictly limits conscience protections for medical professionals like them.

Government leaders want medical workers to be ready to begin aborting unborn babies Jan. 1, 2019, but the medical community is pushing back.

The Irish Examiner reports about 500 nurses and midwives signed a petition to Health Minister Simon Harris urging him to support better conscience protections. They said they are afraid of being forced out of their profession because they do not want to participate in the killing of unborn babies.

[…]The letter comes just a few days after dozens of doctors stormed out of an emergency meeting about the abortion legislation. They said political leaders have been ramming through the bill without consulting the medical community or giving it ample time to prepare. Many doctors also fear being forced to help abort unborn babies against their consciences.

“Ireland is one of the only countries where abortion services will be through GPs [general practitioners], it is usually through clinics. In most countries patients self-refer to clinics,” said Dr. Illona Duffy, an OB-GYN.

“GPs will be left dealing with this complicated process. This is being done without consultation and without taking our concerns into consideration,” she said.

If you remember, here in America, Obama tried to force Christian-owned companies like Hobby Lobby to cover drugs that cause abortions (after conception has already occurred). He was only defeated when he lost at the Supreme Court.

During Trump’s first two years, pro-life bills were introduced in the House:

  • Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R.4712)
  • Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36)
  • Disapproval of Title X Funds for Planned Parenthood (H.J.Res. 43)
  • No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017 (H.R. 7)

And in the Senate:

  • Paul Amendment to defund Planned Parenthood
  • Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 2311)

But Democrats voted against them.

What should we expect from the Democrats once they take over the House of Representatives? Well, one of the first things they will do is vote to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prevents U.S. taxpayer money from being used to fund abortions. Democrats are extreme on abortion policy, but that’s what you get when you make abortion legal, and then hand the reins of power to Democrats.

We will never see pro-life bills come out of the House of Representatives, now that the Democrats are in control.

William Lane Craig on the unexpected applicability of mathematics to nature

Christianity and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

You might remember that Dr. Craig used a new argument in his debate with Lawrence Krauss in Melbourne, Australia.

My notes on the debate record it thus:

The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics:

  • The underlying structure of nature is mathematical – mathematics is applicable to nature
  • Mathematical objects can either be abstract objects or useful fiction
  • Either way, there is no reason to expect that nature should be linked to abstract objects or fictions
  • But a divine mind that wants humans to understand nature is a better explanation for what we see

And now Dr. Craig has expanded on it in the Q&A section of his Reasonable Faith web site.

The question:

Dear Dr Craig

Firstly can I thank you for all your work. My faith in Christ has been enormously strengthened through studying your work in apologetics in particular and I have grown in confidence in my Christian witness.

My question relates to numbers and mathematics as a whole. On the Defenders podcast you state that as God is the only self-existent, necessary being, numbers and mathematical objects, whilst being useful, don’t actually exist as these too would exist necessarily and independently of God. If this is the case, how can it be that mathematics is so easily applied to the natural world? Surely if mathematics only existed in our minds, we would expect to see no correlation between it and how the physical world actually is?

Michael

United Kingdom

Excerpt from the answer:

As philosopher of mathematics Mary Leng points out, for the non-theistic realist, the fact that physical reality behaves in line with the dictates of acausal mathematical entities existing beyond space and time is “a happy coincidence” (Mathematics and Reality [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010], p. 239). Think about it: If, per impossibile, all the abstract objects in the mathematical realm were to disappear overnight, there would be no effect on the physical world. This is simply to reiterate that abstract objects are causally inert. The idea that realism somehow accounts for the applicability of mathematics “is actually very counterintuitive,” muses Mark Balaguer, a philosopher of mathematics. “The idea here is that in order to believe that the physical world has the nature that empirical science assigns to it, I have to believe that there are causally inert mathematical objects, existing outside of spacetime,” an idea which is inherently implausible (Platonism and Anti-Platonism in Mathematics [New York: Oxford University Press, 1998], p. 136).

By contrast, the theistic realist can argue that God has fashioned the world on the structure of the mathematical objects. This is essentially what Plato believed. The world has mathematical structure as a result.

This argument was also made by mechanical engineering professor Walter Bradley in a lecture he gave on scientific evidence for an intelligent designer. You can read an essay that covers some of the material in that lecture at Leadership University.

Excerpt:

The physical universe is surprising in the simple mathematical form it assumes. All the basic laws of physics and fundamental relationships can be described on one side of one sheet of paper because they are so few in number and so simple in form (see table 1.1).

[…]It has been widely recognized for some time that nature assumes a form that is elegantly described by a relatively small number of simple, mathematical relationships, as previously noted in table 1.1. None of the various proposals presented later in this chapter to explain the complexity of the universe address this issue. Albert Einstein in a letter to a friend expressed his amazement that the universe takes such a form (Einstein 1956), saying:

You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world to the degree that we may speak of such comprehensibility as a miracle or an eternal mystery. Well, a priori one should expect a chaotic world which cannot be in any way grasped through thought. . . . The kind of order created, for example, by Newton’s theory of gravity is of quite a different kind. Even if the axioms of the theory are posited by a human being, the success of such an enterprise presupposes an order in the objective world of a high degree which one has no a priori right to expect. That is the “miracle” which grows increasingly persuasive with the increasing development of knowledge.

Alexander Polykov (1986), one of the top physicists in Russia, commenting on the mathematical character of the universe, said: “We know that nature is described by the best of all possible mathematics because God created it.” Paul Davies, an astrophysicist from England, says, “The equations of physics have in them incredible simplicity, elegance and beauty. That in itself is sufficient to prove to me that there must be a God who is responsible for these laws and responsible for the universe” (Davies 1984). Successful development of a unified field theory in the future would only add to this remarkable situation, further reducing the number of equations required to describe nature, indicating even further unity and integration in the natural phenomena than have been observed to date.

The whole paper that started this off is called “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics”, and it is a must read for advanced Christian defenders. You can read the whole thing here.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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