Tag Archives: Judicial Activism

The Mysterious Drew lectures on Christianity and the culture war in Defenders

Investigation in progress
Investigation in progress

Drew taught Dr. William Lane Craig’s Defenders class for two weeks in a row while Dr. Craig was in Australia. He chose to focus on secularism.

Note: Drew has some problems with the microphone for the first 2.5 minutes of part 1. Be patient.

Part 1 deals with how Europe and America became secular in different ways.

Part 1 topics:

  • Secularism: the attempt to take values based on religion (e.g. – Judeo-Christian values) out of the public square
  • Television programs that are targeted to more thoughtful viewers favor secular or liberal worldviews
  • Consider the sexual revolution – a new set of beliefs about sex are being pushed into the culture
  • Sex revolution includes: same-sex marriage, pornography, hookup culture, no-fault divorce
  • The effect of the sexual revolution has been to introduce widespread fatherlessness, which is very bad for children
  • The sexual revolution is being pushed in the popular culture, but also in the school sexual education programs
  • You can see where secularism has led to by looking at Europe, which has largely rejected its Christian roots
  • For example, Germany and Sweden are very aggressive about stamping out homeschooling
  • They do this because they are trying to push a government-approved set of beliefs and meanings onto children
  • How bad could it get? You can look at how Orthodox Judaism was persecuted in Russia after the communist revolution
  • How did Europe become so secular?
  • Wars in Europe between Protestants and Catholics caused people to think that theistic religion was bad
  • Secularists first attacked theism philosophically by trying to replace it with deism – the view that miracles do not occur
  • Secularists then pushed a radical empirism which attempted to reduce religious claims to meaningless irrationality
  • The Christian church responded by retreating from philosophical and theological claims and focusing on moral claims
  • That’s how Europe became secular, but how did America become secular?
  • America became secular because Christianity was transformed from a knowledge tradition to an emotional tradition
  • Pastors started to move away from presenting Christianity as true and instead presented it as emotionally fulfilling
  • Pastors emphasized personal experiences instead of philosophical theology and apologetics
  • European ideas arrived: deism, Darwinism, Bible criticism, etc.
  • Christianity responded to this by abandoning the centers of learning it had founded (universities) into pious isolation
  • As the universities became more secular, they turned out the next generation of influencers, including the media
  • This retreat from intellectual engagement was augmented by a fixation on end-times speculation (e.g. Left Behind)
  • (Drew talks to Jeremy, a philosophy student at Georgia State University, about whether Christianity is respected in his classes)
  • How politicians and the media used the Scopes Monkey Trial to marginalize Christianity as anti-science
  • The perception of Christians in the public square changed – they were viewed as ignorant, irrational and anti-science
  • Instead of causing Christians to work harder at science, they became even more fundamentalist, and less influential
  • Christians today are a tiny minority of influential groups, e.g. – scientists, media, etc.
  • In contrast, secular Jews, who tend to grow up in a culture that values learning, have a much greater influence
  • Even if Christians try to retreat to the country where they can homeschool, there is no hiding from the Internet
  • Which organizations are working against secularism today?
  • Example of what Christians can do: Plantinga’s refutation of the problem of evil
  • Example of what Christians can do: widespread use of ultrasound to move people to the pro-life view
  • Example of what Christians can do: Liberty University’s effort to produce Christians who can work in media
  • A story about William Lane Craig and a secular physicist who had lost her faith

People must have liked what they heard and saw in the first week, because he got a big turnout in the second week.

Part 2 deals with practical tips for engaging in the culture.

Topics in Part 2:

  • The real root cause of opposition to Christianity is from the sexual revolution
  • For example, moral relativism is so popular in the university, but it is almost entirely driven by sexual liberation
  • Evangelism and culture-shaping are not the same thing – each requires a different set of skills
  • Where do people get their information? Public school, news media, late night comedy shows, etc.
  • Two things for every Christian need to do: 1) Get informed, and 2) Get involved
  • First: you do not need to be smarter than average. Dr. Craig is a leading scholar because he studies 9 hours a day
  • Implying that people with influence are “smart” just provides us with an excuse not to try if we are not “smart”
  • Ordinary Christians need to be willing to give up fun more than they need to be naturally “smart”
  • Asks Cody: what about that Christian apologist who hung out mostly with internet atheists and then became one
  • Famous quantum chemist: you’re right, I am not much smarter than most people, I just work a lot harder at it
  • Drew: to get informed, you should follow good Christian blogs like Apologetics 315 and Wintery Knight
  • Drew knows Wintery Knight personally and WK is someone who knows apologetics but he also knows other things
  • WK connects the Christian worldview to lots different things, e.g. = marriage – he can find you the right people and books
  • (Drew holds up “What is Marriage?” book) This is the best book to argue the same-sex marriage issue
  • (Drew hold up “The Case for Life” book) This is the best book to argue the pro-life position
  • Slacktivism: don’t just send people links that you find on the Internet – read the articles and books and then talk about them
  • (Drew holds up the Lee Strobel “Case for” books) These are the best introductory books on basic Christian apologetics
  • Audio books are a great way for people to take in the information, and you can get them for free from the library
  • The Internet is not the best place for arguing about the things you learn – face to face conversations are much better
  • Biola’s apologetics certificate program is an excellent resource, and it’s all audio lectures so you just listen to them
  • You can get free apologetics audio from Apologetics 315 and Phil Fernandes
  • We also need to learn how to how to change the culture and how the other side changes the culture
  • To really make a difference, then a graduate degree might be for you – especially the M.A. in apologetics from Biola
  • The university is also very important – Christianity needs to be represented in the university
  • Influential people like Supreme Court justices come out of the university, which is why we need to be there
  • The Discovery Institute is doing the most to provide a credible rival to naturalistic science
  • They have a budget of $4 million dollars and they are punching way above their weight
  • If every evangelical sent them $20, they’d have a budget of $1.2 billion – what could they do with that?
  • (Drew puts a check for $20 for Discovery Institute in an envelope and seals it, to show how it’s done)
  • The Truth Project, which is put out by Focus on the Family – it’s another excellent training resource
  • When it comes to politics, focus on discussing policy issues, not on pushing particular candidates
  • If every evangelical Christian just pulled their own weight, it would make a big difference
  • It all starts by making the decision to take some leisure time to do things that really work

I could not agree with him more on his selections on the marriage debate and the abortion debate. I have bought at least a half-dozen of each of those for people. And I highly recommend getting the Strobel books on audio, especially the Case for a Creator. Love that book. Listen to it a bunch a times and you will start to talk like Lee Strobel.

I listened to all the Biola University lectures before they even had the certificate program, along with the Stand to Reason Masters Series in Christian Thought and about 60 Veritas Forum leture sets. Those things probably did the most for me to become a capable defender of Christianity.

The point he made about giving money to the Discovery Institute is important. In the last month, I sent out $300 to a Ratio Christi chapter for a lecture they gave, and $500 for a Christian group in Canada that put on an apologetics conference.

I think he’s right when he talks about everyone pulling their own weight. I spend about 2-3 hours a day reading and blogging. I donate a portion of my earnings to Christian scholars who study and/or speak at the university. I support Christian students who are doing degrees in philosophy, science and engineering. In church, I don’t anything yet, but I have a network of friends who do things in church, like organize lectures, debates and apologetics book studies. My current pastor is aware of my abilities, and he’s already asked me to help them with an evangelism program they are starting up.

I got started on apologetics by putting in the time on some of the things he mentioned in part 2 of his talk. The basic things to do are reading introductory books on apologetics, especially the ones on philosophy of religion, historical Jesus and physical sciences. If you can’t read, then at least get hold of lectures from Biola University and listen to those, along with Lee Strobel audio books, Brian Auten interviews, William Lane Craig debates. Just put them in the car and listen, and soon you’ll be sounding just like them.

Canadian judge bans pro-life ads, because free speech makes people feel bad

This pro-life ad was banned because it hurts people's feelings
This pro-life ad was banned because it hurts people’s feelings

This is from Heat Street. It reminds me what a joke of a country Canada has become since their 50 year slide into secular left fascism.

Excerpt:

A Canadian city was “proportionate and reasonable” in censoring a pro-life ads from the sides of its buses because the banners were “likely to cause psychological harm to women who have had an abortion,” according to a ruling.

Justice C.S. Anderson has ruled that the city of Grande Prairie in the province of Alberta “reasonably” balanced the freedom of speech rights of the pro-life advertiser with the city’s own policies of providing a “safe and welcoming” space for bus passengers and pedestrians with its advertising.

According to the judge, the ruling won’t prohibit every pro-life ad in the city, but he stressed that it was reasonable to ban banners specifically produced by the Calgary-based Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR) because they might upset women and children.

The pro-life group’s ad showed unborn babies at seven weeks’ and 16 weeks’ gestation followed by an empty frame filled in red to represent an aborted baby. Underneath the images were the captions: “growing,” “growing” and “gone.” The ad also read: “Abortion kills children” and showed the group’s website.

Judge Anderson said that CCBR website includes messages such as “Now is the time to put an end to the slaughter. Now is the time to look evil in the face and say, enough. Now is the time to join together, and lend our voices to those who had theirs brutally taken from them.”

“These are strong statements that vilify women who have chosen, for their own reasons, to have an abortion; they are not merely informative and educational,” Anderson added.

Now, it’s true that I am a bit of a “hold women accountable” person. In the past I’ve blogged about how women are more supportive of abortion rights and gay marriage than men. So, naturally, I wanted to know if the pro-abortion, anti-free-speech judge was a man or woman. Answer: she’s a woman:

The Honourable Charlene S. Anderson, a lawyer with Ross Smith Asset Management Inc. in Calgary, is appointed a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta (Calgary) to replace Madam Justice B.L. Veldhuis who was appointed to the Court of Appeal on February 8, 2013.

Honorable!??? That’s not the word I would use for an anti-free-speech fascist, but I know that Canada is a third-world banana republic, where the right to free speech is not guaranteed in their founding documents. It’s a tax-and-spend nanny state, where the government micromanages the words of the citizens.

Man uses legally-owned concealed carry handgun to prevent robbery

Guns are for self-defense against criminals
Guns are for self-defense against criminals

Another in my series of posts to help non-Americans understand why Americans are passionate about the Second Amendment to the Constitution and the right to bear arms.

The news story is from the Washington Free Beacon:

A good samaritan saved a 7-11 clerk on Sunday by shooting a hatchet-wielding man who had attacked the store.

A 60-year-old man with a valid concealed carry license was drinking his morning coffee when a masked man, later identified as 43-year-old Steven Blacktongue, entered the convenience store and began attacking the clerk, Kuldeep Singh. The attacker slashed Singh across the stomach several times without saying a word. At that point the concealed carrier drew his firearm and shot Blacktongue, killing him.

Police said that the concealed carried did nothing wrong and ended up saving lives.

“This could have been disastrous. Had this [customer] not shot, who knows what would’ve happened,” King County Sergeant Cindi West told KIRO. “We might have a dead clerk right now and instead, we have a dead bad guy. We do not see any wrongdoing on the part of the customer.”

“In fact, he probably saved lives in this case.”

Singh said he feared for his life during the attack and is glad to be alive. A friend of his, who also works at the convenience store, told the news station that the concealed carrier was a “good guy” for intervening and stopping the attack. The concealed carrier was not expected to face any charges.

Here’s the news report from KIRO 7 News:

This happened in ultra-leftist King County, Washington, of all places. I’m surprised they even let law-abiding people who pass a background check carry firearms, there. But at least this story leaves no doubt about why concealed carry permits exist.

Merrick Garland and the Second Amendment

This might be a useful story to send to Obama’s latest Supreme Court nominee – a radically leftist who opposes the second amendment.

Washington Free Beacon again:

Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has a record of opposing gun rights as a federal judge, which includes a vote to undo a landmark gun rights ruling.

Garland was one of four judges who voted to rehear the case of Parker v. District of Columbia with a full ten-judge panel after a smaller panel struck down the District of Columbia’s total ban on handguns. Garland’s vote for this en banc hearing indicates that he may believe the decision to strike down the city’s gun ban was mistaken.

The other six judges on the appeals court voted not to rehear the case, and the Supreme Court went on to rule in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to bear arms in the case.

So, he’s a radical on gun control, well outside the mainstream.

As usual, we end all second amendment posts with an examination of the peer-reviewed literature on gun ownership and rates of violent crime. This evidence is not generally understood by people on the left, who tend to be guided more by emotions and peer approval than evidence when forming their views on controversial issues.

The peer-reviewed research

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.

Excerpt:

Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

Upon the passage of The Firearms Act (No. 2) in 1997, British Deputy Home Secretary Alun Michael boasted: “Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.” The Act was second handgun control measure passed that year, imposed a near-complete ban on private ownership of handguns, capping nearly eighty years of increasing firearms restrictions. Driven by an intense public campaign in the wake of the shooting of schoolchildren in Dunblane, Scotland, Parliament had been so zealous to outlaw all privately owned handguns that it rejected proposals to exempt Britain’s Olympic target-shooting team and handicapped target-shooters from the ban.

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[…]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people. The book by economist John Lott, linked above,compares the crime rates of all U.S. states that have enacted concealed carry laws, and concludes that violent crime rates dropped after law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry legally-owned firearms. That’s the mirror image of Dr. Malcolm’s Harvard study, but both studies affirm the same conclusion – more legal firearm ownership means less crime.

Supreme Court legislates from the bench to save Obamacare, again!

Obamacare premium increases by state
Obamacare premium increases by state (click for larger image)

Ben Shapiro who is a Harvard Law grad has a good summary of Thursday’s awful Supreme Court decision.

He writes:

On Thursday, the Supreme Court released its long-awaited decision on Obamacare’s IRS subsidies under federal health insurance exchanges. And, as expected, the Court rewrote the statute to help President Obama’s signature law.

[…]In King v. Burwell, four citizens sued over Obamacare, alleging that they had been forced to purchase health insurance; they said that the federal health exchange set up in Virginia in absence of a state-created health exchange under Obamacare did not count as a “state exchange” for purposes of the statute, making it illegal for them to receive federal subsidies for their health insurance. Without the subsidies, they would no longer be required to purchase health insurance, since it would be too expensive.

Now, Obamacare’s language is quite clear: it states that only those who buy insurance via state-run health exchanges may receive federal subsidies. This provision was purposefully designed to incentivize states to set up their own exchanges, in order that politicians could take credit for making health insurance more widely available with the help of the federal government. When states turned down the opportunity to set up such exchanges, the scheme collapsed. Or at least it would have, had not President Obama’s IRS casually rewritten the law, and provided federal health insurance subsidies via the federal health exchanges in violation of both the letter and spirit of the law.

Basically, the Supreme Court judges interpreted “an exchange established by the State” to mean “an exchange established by the State or the Federal Government“. If you think that’s a substantial mistake, you’re right. It’s a complete fabrication, and it amounts to writing legislation on-the-fly to save Obama’s law.

Shapiro again:

Roberts utilized the following logic, direct from the insane asylum:

[W]e must determine whether a Federal Ex- change is “established by the State” for purposes of Section 36B. At the outset, it might seem that a Federal Exchange cannot fulfill this requirement. After all, the Act defines “State” to mean “each of the 50 States and the District of Columbia”—a definition that does not include the Federal Government. 42 U. S. C. §18024(d). But when read in context, “with a view to [its] place in the overall statutory scheme,” the meaning of the phrase “established by the State” is not so clear.

Then, for page after dreadful page, Roberts and the Court majority torture the statute, declaring that if it floats, state exchanges will be deemed federal exchanges, and if it sinks, federal exchanges will be declared state exchanges.

Apparently, the plain meaning of the text is not so clear to our nine black-robed oligarchs.

Ben quotes Justice Scalia’s dissent:

The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so…. Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.” It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges.

Investors Business Daily says that Obamacare is running into financial struggles. So it’s not just that you can’t keep your doctor, you can’t keep your health plan, and you have to pay thousands more for health insurance. Now we find out that the rosy fiscal projections for the cost of the law were false.

Looks like we are going to be stuck with Obamacare until we get a Republican President. I think that as more people who get their health care through their employers start to feel the premium pain that self-employed people have already felt. That may be useful for the 2016 election, especially since Hillary has already thrown her support behind Obamacare. Maybe when people are paying double what they used to pay for half as much coverage, then they’ll understand why we do not want government involved in the health care industry.

Supreme Court decision not to hear cases legalizes same-sex marriage in five states

From ScotusBlog.

Excerpt:

In June 2013, in United States v. Windsor, a divided Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which until then had defined “marriage” – for purposes of over a thousand federal laws and programs – as a union between a man and a woman.

[…]But on the same day, the Court sidestepped a ruling on whether the Constitution includes a right to marry someone of the same sex.

[…]We all assumed that the issue would be back again at the Court before too long, and that expectation only increased as lower federal courts around the country started to rely on the Court’s decision in Windsor to strike down other states’ bans on same-sex marriage – in Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Wisconsin.   All told, by last Monday the Court had before it seven different petitions asking the Court to weigh in on whether states can prohibit same-sex marriage.  With all of the parties on both sides in all of the cases in agreement that the Supreme Court should take up the question, review seemed inevitable.

Until this morning at 9:30, when the Court turned down all seven of the petitions, without comment. 

Since the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, that means that the marriage amendments passed by these five states are null and void, and same-sex marriage is now legal, despite what the legislatures passed.

Ryan Anderson comments on this over at the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

The truth of the matter is that the marriage laws in these five states—as in many states across our nation—are good laws that reflect the truth about marriage. Frequently they were passed with overwhelming democratic support. The Supreme Court should have reviewed these cases and should have upheld the authority of citizens and their elected representatives to make good marriage policy. Instead, the Supreme Court left standing bad rulings from lower federal courts that usurped authority from the people by striking down good laws.

The cases at issue involve lower court rulings that struck down state marriage laws, claiming that they violated the U.S. Constitution. But the courts never provided compelling arguments that laws that reflect the truth about marriage are unconstitutional. Indeed, as former Attorney General Ed Meese and I argued last week in The Washington Post, the Supreme Court should have reviewed these cases and declared the laws constitutional.

In a system of limited constitutional self-government, the people and their elected representatives should be making decisions about marriage policy. And there are reasonable arguments on both sides of this debate. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the Constitution.

[…]Declining to review these cases does not speak one way or the other to the merits of the cases. But it does leave in place bad rulings from lower courts—and it will make it harder for courts to do the right thing in the future.

So we now have gay marriage in five states thanks to the Supreme Court, and to a handful of judges who overruled the votes of the majority of the people in their states. How did we ever go from a republic to an oligarchy? And how did more than half the people in this country vote for this – not just once, but twice? Are we that ignorant of history and government that we are willing to be ruled by a handful of elites instead of by laws passed by elected representatives? Sometimes I think that even asking questions like this to people on the secular left is like trying to teach calculus to a wall. They just don’t understand a thing about how and why this country was founded in the first place. It’s all been reduced, in their minds, to doing what feels good, and forcing people who disagree to affirm their destructive behavior.