Tag Archives: Opposing Views

The loss of pastoral credibility

Eric Chabot of Think Apologetics posted this on Facebook.

It’s a medium-length read. I want to highlight one problem – the problem of pastors never showing their work.


Around this point, it can start to dawn on one that many church leaders have only been trained in forms of discourse such as the sermon and, to a much lesser extent, the essay. Both forms privilege a single voice—their voice—and don’t provide a natural space for response, questioning, and challenge. Their opinions have been assumed to be superior to opposing viewpoints, but have never been demonstrated to be so. While they may have spoken or written about opposing voices, they are quite unaccustomed to speaking or writing to them (not to mention listening to or being cross-examined by them). There are benefits to the fact that the sermon is a form of discourse that doesn’t invite interruption or talking back, but not when this is the only form of discourse its practitioners are adept in.

Many church leaders have been raised and trained in ideologically homogenous cultures or contexts that discouraged oppositional discourse. Many have been protected from hostile perspectives that might unsettle their faith. Throughout, their theological opinions and voices have been given a privileged status, immune from challenge. Nominal challenges could be brushed off by a reassertion of the monologue. They were safe to speak about and habitually misrepresent other voices to their hearers and readers, without needing to worry about those voices ever enjoying the power to answer them back. Many of the more widely read members of their congregations may have had an inkling of the weakness of their positions in the past: the Internet just makes it more apparent.

A system is only as effective as its weakest component in a particular operation. The same is true of the human mind and the communities formed around thinkers. Where the capacity of agonistic reasoning is lacking, all else can be compromised. If one’s opinion has never been subjected to and tried by rigorous cross-examination, it probably isn’t worth much. If one lacks the capacity to keep a level head when one’s views are challenged, one’s voice will be of limited use in most real world situations, where dialogue and dispute is the norm and where we have to think in conversation with people who disagree with us.

The teachers of the Church provide the members of the Church with a model for their own thinking. The teacher of the Church does not just teach others what to believe, but also how to believe, and the process by which one arrives at a theological position. This is one reason why it is crucial that teachers ‘show their working’ on a regular basis. When teaching from a biblical text, for instance, the teacher isn’t just teaching the meaning of that particular text, but how Scripture should be approached and interpreted more generally. An essential part of the teaching that the members of any church need is that of dealing with opposing viewpoints. One way or another, every church provides such teaching. However, the lesson conveyed in all too many churches is that opposing voices are to be dismissed, ignored, or ‘answered’ with a reactive reassertion of the dogmatic line, rather than a reasoned response.

This is probably the biggest thing that annoys me about church. Being talked at by somebody who never explains why they believe what they believe, and who never answers criticisms to what they believe. They don’t want to show their work. I really don’t like that. Being forced to sit still and silent while someone else talks.

In math class, you don’t get any marks for just writing the correct answer to a non-trivial problems. You have to show the steps that led to your answer. I think talking about why we believe, though, can be agitating to some people who are there in church to be comforted and to have feelings and emotions. So that’s probably why pastors don’t show their work, because it disrupts the comfort / happiness vibe. Still though, I think it would be a good idea for us (and I mean me, too!) to get better at hearing voices on the other side. The way I usually do this is by watching debates and reading debate books. I like there to be two sides interacting. I get annoyed when there is only one side. That’s why I prefer reading evidential apologetics to philosophical theology and I prefer philosophical theology to devotional reading (A.W. Tozer and G. K. Chesterton are the worst things to read in my view, and most men I know can’t stand reading them). The more testable something is, the easier it is on me. I don’t like to be preached at about things that can’t be tested. It annoys me, even if I agree with it.

How the science teachers lobby misrepresents intelligent design

From Evolution News.


Science Teachers Association (NSTA), which stands alongside the rest of the Darwin lobby in holding that neo-Darwinian evolution should be taught in a one-sided, pro-evolution-only fashion.

[…]But the Darwin lobby is smart. While it is trying to ban and censor the views of its opponents, the Darwin lobby has a particular narrative which tries to paint its opponents as the censors and the extremists. The narrative goes something like this (my paraphrase): ‘Dark forces of intelligent design and creationism are seeking to ban evolution from public schools and then force their religious beliefs into the science classroom. We must stand against censorship and religious agendas, so we must fight their agenda at any cost. Stand with us, the guardians of freedom of thought and the First Amendment.’

[…]The article goes on to cover recent debates in Texas over teaching evolution. The reality, of course, is that NO leading Darwin-critics in Texas sought try to censor evolution. Evolution is still a required part of the curriculum in Texas, and the new TEKS that continue to teach evolution were eagerly adopted by the Texas State Board of Education members who were skeptics of neo-Darwinian evolution.

McKee’s strategy is thus one of the oldest in the books: deflect away from the fact that she herself advocates an extreme position by painting her opponents as extremists.

The reality is that leading groups that doubt neo-Darwinian evolution (like Discovery Institute) strongly oppose any attempts to ban evolution or remove it from the curriculum in schools. We also oppose teaching creationism in the science classroom because it’s a religious viewpoint. As for ID, we feel it’s science and constitutional to teach, but we want the debate over ID to be a scientific one and not a political one, so we oppose attempts to push ID into public schools. Instead, we think that public schools should simply teach the scientific evidence both for and against neo-Darwinian evolution.

So where does that leave us? Leading Darwin-critics aren’t seeking to introduce creationism or ID into public schools, and they would vehemently oppose attempts to ban evolution. Rather, they seek to increase coverage of evolution by teaching both the evidence for and against neo-Darwinism.

The Darwin lobby wants only the pro-Darwin-only viewpoint taught. They want to censor any science that challenges neo-Darwinian evolution.

The whole article is good to read, and especially this picture that summarizes their view and my view.

It’s important to understand that conservative pro-ID people like me are not trying to get rid of evolution. We want it taught as the best available theory that naturalists can invent after their faith commitment that the universe is eternal and matter is all that there is. And then we want the scientific evidence against evolution taught. That’s it. Period. Teach the controversy. Don’t distort the evidence to fit the pre-supposition of naturalism. Teach the evidence that the universe had a beginning, and that life exhibits characteristics of information. If nature is hostile to naturalism, then so much the worse for naturalists. Leave religion (naturalism) out of the classroom, and go where the evidence leads.

Several states considering bills to promote academic freedom

From Evolution News.


Across the country legislation is moving forward that will protect teachers and students who want the freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of modern evolutionary theory.

[…]To help combat the dogmatism that presently pervades evolution-education, Discovery Institute supports legislation that protects academic freedom for teachers who would dare to challenge Darwin in the classroom. There are presently academic freedom bills in Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Missouri.

As is expected, misinformation is already being spread about the bills. Yesterday I was informed that Oklahoma evolutionists are continuing to spread the myth that Louisiana’s Academic Freedom Law was declared unconstitutional. The truth is that the law hasn’t even been challenged in court. As I discuss here, ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman reportedly acknowledged that “if the Act is utilized as written, it should be fine; though she is not sure it will be handled that way.”

ClimateProgress is putting out the false claim that the legislation “forces teachers to question evolution.” That’s false. An academic freedom bill does not require teachers to teach anything differently. Topics like evolution will still be taught as a matter of required state law. All students will still need to learn and will be tested upon all aspects of state science standards. The bill still mandates that teachers follow the curriculum and teach the pro-evolution evidence. But it also gives teachers academic freedom to teach about credible scientific viewpoints that challenge the neo-Darwinian “consensus”–if they choose to do so.

And of course, we’re also hearing the standard false claim that the bills allow the teaching of creationism or religion. Despite the talking points of critics, academic freedom bills would not authorize or protect the teaching of creationism or any other religious viewpoint. According to a number of federal court rulings, creationism is a religious viewpoint that is illegal to advocate in public schools. Consistent with these rulings, most academic freedom bills contain language that expressly excludes the teaching of religion and only protects the teaching of scientific information.

I’m sure that if I looked at those bills that they are being sponsored by Republicans. Academic freedom – the freedom to question authority about evidence – is very important to conservatives.

Tammy Bruce on how the left treats conservative gays

Tammy Bruce
Tammy Bruce

In the ultra-left-wing UK Guardian, Tammy Bruce explains why disagreement with homosexuality is not “hate”. (H/T Ari from Ruth Blog)


The real story of bigotry and intolerance is the fact that it lives and thrives on the left. As a gay woman who spent most of her adult life pushing the cart for liberal causes with liberal friends in a liberal city, I found that sexism, racism and homophobia are staples in the liberal world. The huge irony is liberals spend every ounce of energy promoting the notion that they are the banner carriers of individualism and personal freedom, yet the hammer comes down on anyone who dares not to conform to, or who dissents even in part from, the liberal agenda.

Think about what would happen if you did act up? If you dared to say you like Sarah Palin, or admire Margaret Thatcher, or think global warming is a hoax, or think Bill Clinton is a sexual predator, or that George W Bush isn’t to blame for everything, or that Barack Obama has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, you know there would be a price to pay. Odds are that your “liberal” friends would very liberally hate you. At the very least, being shunned would be your new experience, condemning you to suffer that horrific liberal malady called social death.

So, when it comes to my comfort level as a conservative who happens to be gay, here’s what I know: while many conservatives are people of faith and their religion promotes a very different point of view than mine on homosexuality (and a few other things!), I have found conservatives to be more tolerant, more curious and more understanding of those who are different to them than I ever did when ensconced in US liberal leadership.

You can read a biography of Tammy Bruce here. I have heard her guest hosting for Laura Ingraham on her popular national radio show many times.

I noticed that Neil Simpson’s latest round-up linked to this article in HillBuzz, a political blog run by two gay guys who agree with Tammy Bruce.


Here in Boystown, the only hostility we’ve ever received has been from the Left.

The worst religious people will ever say to us, for being gay, is that they will “pray for us” because they wish we were straight…not out of some meanness, but because they believe being straight would mean a happier life and they don’t want to see people unhappy.  So, this is a little ignorant on their parts to presume that the only definition of happiness is for us to like girls…but it’s not coming from an evil place.

I don’t think that people who disagree with homosexuality and same-sex marriage want anyone to feel bad. You can’t really persuade someone if you treat them badly – everyone knows that. And when you disagree with someone, you want to persuade them, so that means you have to treat them nicely. In fact, with people I disagree with, we usually compete to see who can be the nicest.

By the way, Neil has a book review of Tammy Bruce’s book “The Death of Right and Wrong”. I have the audio book of that!

How universities block conservatives in the admissions process

Wow, here is an interesting article by Russel K. Neil that I found on Minding the Campus. Before you read the excerpt, you should know that ROTC is short for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and that 4-H clubs are organizations that teach children practical skills with an emphasis on rural farming skills.


Besides the bias against lower-class whites, the private colleges in the Espenshade/Radford study seem to display what might be called an urban/Blue State bias against rural and Red State occupations and values. This is most clearly shown in a little remarked statistic in the study’s treatment of the admissions advantage of participation in various high school extra-curricular activities. In the competitive private schools surveyed participation in many types of extra-curricular activities — including community service activities, performing arts activities, and “cultural diversity” activities — conferred a substantial improvement in an applicant’s chances of admission. The admissions advantage was usually greatest for those who held leadership positions or who received awards or honors associated with their activities. No surprise here — every student applying to competitive colleges knows about the importance of extracurriculars.

But what Espenshade and Radford found in regard to what they call “career-oriented activities” was truly shocking even to this hardened veteran of the campus ideological and cultural wars. Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student’s chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. “Being an officer or winning awards” for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, “has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions.” Excelling in these activities “is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission.”

Espenshade and Radford don’t have much of an explanation for this find, which seems to place the private colleges even more at variance with their stated commitment to broadly based campus diversity. In his Bakke ruling Lewis Powell was impressed by the argument Harvard College offered defending the educational value of a demographically diverse student body: “A farm boy from Idaho can bring something to Harvard College that a Bostonian cannot offer. Similarly, a black student can usually bring something that a white person cannot offer.” The Espenshade/Radford study suggests that those farm boys from Idaho would do well to stay out of their local 4-H clubs or FFA organizations — or if they do join, they had better not list their membership on their college application forms. This is especially true if they were officers in any of these organizations. Future farmers of America don’t seem to count in the diversity-enhancement game played out at some of our more competitive private colleges, and are not only not recruited, but seem to be actually shunned. It is hard to explain this development other than as a case of ideological and cultural bias.

This same kind of bias seems to lurk behind the negative association found between acceptance odds and holding leadership positions in high school ROTC. This is most troubling because a divorce between the campus culture of its universities and its military is poisonous for any society, and doesn’t do the military or the civilian society any good. The lack of comfort with many military commanders that our current president is said to have seems to be due not only to his own lack of military experience but to the fact of having spent so many of his formative years on university campuses like Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago, where people with military experience are largely absent and the campus culture is often hostile to military values and military personnel.

So this is why so many people in power today have no understanding of the kinds of things that we believe in.

When you’re arguing with people on the left, there are two questions you need to ask them all the time. 1) Who are the best scholars who disagree with you and what have you read by those scholars?, 2) Name actual people who are your good long-term friends who hold the views that you don’t hold to, 3) Name some debates that you have heard between people that you agree with and people you disagree with.

Right now on Facebook, there’s a woman I am debating who read Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” book. I listed 5 debates between Bart Ehrman and other scholars who agree with me, all of which I blogged on. She doesn’t appear to have heard any of them, nor is she interested in engaging with them. When someone wants to eject the moral demands of Christianity from their lives, they gravitate towards Dan Brown and Bart Ehrman to try to weaken the hold of the truth on their decision making by making it optional. Usually what precipitates it is the desire to just have fun without rules, or a disappointment with God because they think he should make them happy.