June 2008

Ben Stein - ExpelledBen Stein was interviewed in the National Post re his controversial film Expelled (disclaimer: I have not yet seen the film). I thought this quote was rather apropos:

"It's incredibly important to treat people as human beings with a spark of the divine instead of as lumps of mud," [Stein] said, finishing his tea, "because if we're all just lumps of mud who happen to have been struck by lightening then there's no moral duty incumbent upon us to treat anyone with respect. But if there's a little bit of God within each of us, then there is that duty." (Source: National Post)

See Greg Koukl for more on this topic: Evil as Evidence for God.

Yesterday I watched Horton Hears a Who, the modern cinematic remake of the classic children's book. Truthfully, I didn't remember the book too well before watching the film. It was actually an enjoyable movie though.

There are some clearly religious overtones in the movie, which I'll comment on later in a second post, but for now I wanted to focus on one of Horton's slogans in the movie: "A person's a person, no matter how small."

As some movie reviewers also noticed, "It’s already been adopted by some pro-lifers in the abortion debate." It's an important message: Just because a person is very small, they are no less of a person.

This in fact is the first part of SLED, an acronym serving as a helpful reminder of four supposed differences between the unborn and a "real" human being. There is a short description of what SLED stands for after the break, but I wanted to point out that the current Q&A question on William Lane Craig's site is an excellent summary of the rational pro-life position: William Lane Craig on Abortion. Note that nowhere in his argument does he make an appeal to faith or the Bible. He could have, but it's not necessary; the argument is powerful enough (I'd say conclusive) without such an appeal.

Click below for a summary of SLED.


A recent post on ThinkChristian.net generated some good comments, and I've already commented on the content of the post itself. Below are my replies to one commenter in that thread. (You can see his original comment at the ThinkChristian post above.)

"Atheists don't have any creeds or beliefs or principles other than their common assertion that there is no god. So to say that atheists are behind Nazi Germany or Socialist regimes is a misunderstanding of atheism."

I agree, although we should note that, like any worldview, certain other conclusions (not necessarily the ones you noted above) logically follow from atheism.

"If Christians would look at their own history … They destroyed documents that disagreed with the orthodox position and rewrote their own history …"

Which events are you referring to? There's no doubt that after Christianity became the official Roman religion under Constantine (and mixed with political power) that certain corruptions began to occur. But to insinuate that (prior to this?) a systematic process of corruption occurred is unsupported at best, and proven incorrect via extant manuscript evidence. If you're going to discount the New Testament texts out of hand historically, then you also must discount every other historical text from the same period, since the NT text is the best attested source from that time (in terms of number of extant manuscripts, time gap between events and when they were written, etc). See my ebook for more on this topic: www.whyfaith.com/nt/

"So, to claim that we have the words and ideas of Jesus today is very suspect because we can trace the sources of these ideas to non Christian belief systems."

This is a non-sequitur; just because we find similar beliefs elsewhere does not in any way prove that we don't have the original ideas of Jesus.

"… most destructive idea to come out of the Roman Christian war machine was that Jesus was the only way. This exclusive nature of Christian belief is the source of all the violence done in the name of Jesus"

This is a second non-sequitur; why does the fact that 'Jesus is the only way' necessarily lead to violenece? Certainly it has at times in the past, but if you're going to make that play, you should also be wary of "secular" regimes that have also lead to violence. Besides, claiming that the idea that 'Jesus is the only way' came out of the "Roman Christian war machine" is false; it comes out of the New Testament documents and the earliest Christian writers. (Pre-Constantine.)

"Just because there are ideas in the Bible that are good, doesn't mean that its the only source of those ideas"

That is true. The question is whether it is true or not. Whether Christianity has produced "good results" is a matter that is up for debate; a non-Christian historian like Rodney Stark would argue that it has. But it's not fair, IMHO, to discount an ideology because of the failure of many of its proponents.

God is Great (Hitchens)Today on Thinking Christian there is a post regarding "Defending the Church" which asks how Christians should respond to the challenge that the Christian church has quite a sordid past. The usual suspects like the crusades, inquisitions, and pedophile priests are mentioned. How should Christians respond to Christianity's sordid past?

Already some worthwhile comments have been made to the original post; a comment from Tyler is, I think, on the right track:

The simple answer is that we don't have to defend Christians, or so called Christians, or the church of the past, we defend Jesus Christ and the gospel, and say that if anyone claiming to be a Christian did not act in accordance with what the Scriptures teach then we don't defend those actions, we simply believe in Jesus Christ and His Word and what He did on the cross and what He is doing in our lives today. (Tyler / Thinking Christian site)

Well said. But let's just say, for the sake of argument, that all of the charges regarding misdeeds of Christians of the past and present are entirely accurate. What, exactly, does that prove about the truthfulness of the Christian faith? Absolutely nothing.

Atheists, Muslims, and Scientologists do bad things too, sometimes institutionally, and sometimes individually, but this doesn't prove that these worldviews are wrong. Nor do past misdeeds of Christians (regarding which we should be deeply sorrowful and sorry) do not disprove the Christian faith. Such misdeeds, by Christians and all people, prove something about people: That we are sinners to the core and in need of God. But it proves nothing about the Christian faith itself, as I've previously commented.

Related reading: Good People? – What makes a person "good"? Is your definition of the word built upon a firm foundation, or is it floating in thin air?