The World Wide (Religious) Web for Tuesday, October 25, 2011


MINISTRYDIRECT.COM/LIVE: This afternoon at 2:00 p.m. (CST), I’m interviewing Kerry Clarensau, author of Love Revealed and director of Assemblies of God’s Women’s Ministries, on MinistryDirect.com/live. If you’d like to ask Clarensau questions about her book, women’s ministries, or women in ministry, email them to questions@ministrydirect.com, tweet them using #MinistryDirect, or use the Facebook messaging on the live page. (You must be logged into to Facebook to use the messaging tool.)

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DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY “IRRATIONAL”: “Are Evangelicals or University Professors More Irrational?”

This Jew will take the evangelicals’ values and the evangelicals’ America over those of left-wing intellectuals any day of the year. If evangelicals come with some views I find irrational it is a tiny price to pay compared to the price humanity has paid for the Left’s consistently broken moral compass — about America; about Communism and Islamism; about the superiority of peace studies over waging war against evil; about America’s role in the world; about Israel; about the welfare state; about Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and all the other left-wing dictators the Left has celebrated; about the belief that men and women are basically the same; about the greater worth of any animal than of the unborn human; and about nearly every other major moral issue.

I get Dennis Prager’s point, but I’m not sure evangelical anti-intellectualism can be dismissed so easily.

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PHILOSOPHY IS FUN: “The Euthyphro Dilemma.”

In debating the question over the years, it has become clear to me that defenders of the dilemma are making a very crucial assumption. What the Euthyphro Dilemma requires in order to work properly is the implication that B entails independence of God. A and B should really be rephrased like this:

A’. X, which is good, is dependent on God.

B’. X, which is good, is independent of God.

Obviously, A’ and B’ are mutually incompatible, but this raises an even more obvious question: why not simply state the dilemma like this? The answer is likely that Euthyphro would have simply affirmed A’. Hence, there is no dilemma for him to consider. What Socrates and his modern counterpart have to defend is that B entails B’. Are there any forthcoming arguments to support this? I doubt it. In any case, the theist should not accept the burden of proof in trying to explain away the (false) dilemma. Rather, the dilemma’s defender ought to accept responsibility for arguing that B and B’ are ultimately identical.

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YEP: “Richard Dawkins’s refusal to debate is cynical and anti-intellectual.”

As a sceptic, I tend to agree with Dawkins’s conclusion regarding the falsehood of theism, but the tactics deployed by him and the other New Atheists, it seems to me, are fundamentally ignoble and potentially harmful to public intellectual life. For there is something cynical, ominously patronising, and anti-intellectualist in their modus operandi, with its implicit assumption that hurling insults is an effective way to influence people’s beliefs about religion. The presumption is that their largely non-academic readership doesn’t care about, or is incapable of, thinking things through; that passion prevails over reason. On the contrary, people’s attitudes towards religious belief can and should be shaped by reason, not bile and invective. By ignoring this, the New Atheists seek to replace one form of irrationality with another.

I agree with this evaluation, except the first half of the first sentence and the last sentence in its entirety.

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SURPRISINGLY, NO: “Do Men Value Monogamy Less Than Women?”

Specifically, the distribution of number of preferred partners was highly skewed to the right, such that higher values (i.e., grossly large numbers of sexual partners desired by men) were more spread out than lower numbers, indicating that the means likely do not represent the majority of men and women in the sample. When examining median values (an alternative measure of central tendency for finding the middle score of a distribution recommended when data are skewed; Wilcox & Charlin, 1986) instead of means to assess desired number of partners over a 30-year period, gender differences evaporated (see Pedersen et al., 2002, for further discussion). The use of medians revealed that the majority of men and women desire a similar number of sexual partners: one.

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FIRST AMENDMENT WATCH: “Defending Our First Freedom.”

We are slowly losing our sense of religious liberty in America.

There is much evidence to suggest that our society no longer values the public role of religion or recognizes the importance of religious freedom as a basic right. As scholars like Harvard’s Mary Ann Glendon and Michael Sandel have observed, our courts and government agencies increasingly treat the right to hold and express religious beliefs as only one of many private lifestyle options. And, they observe, this right is often “trumped” in the face of challenges from competing rights or interests deemed to be more important.

These are among the reasons the U.S. Catholic bishops recently established a new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. My brother bishops and I are deeply concerned that believers’ liberties—and the Church’s freedom to carry out her mission—are threatened today, as they never have been before in our country’s history.

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WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING OUR KIDS? “More schools need to read the First Amendment.”

Considering the context of the First Amendment, it is easy to see that the founders linked speech with religious expression. One of the primary ways a person conveys his or her religion is by communicating through various means. Hence, the Bill of Rights forbids the “abridging of the freedom of speech.”

It seems clear the First Amendment not only prohibits the government from telling a citizen he or she “can’t” believe a certain way, but it also restricts the government from interfering with a person’s ability to communicate his or her faith or beliefs.

It would seem that when a public school seeks to keep students or teachers from respectfully expressing religious beliefs that the government is telling them they “can’t” exercise their religion or the freedom to express their beliefs.

It does not require a juris doctor degree to understand the plain language of the First Amendment.

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IS THERE SUCH A THING AS FAITH WITHOUT HIERARCHY IN CATHOLICISM? “Catholics see difference in loyalty to faith, hierarchy.”

American Catholics have by and large remained loyal to the core teachings and sacraments of their faith, but increasingly tune out the hierarchy on issues of sexual morality, according to a new study released Monday (Oct. 24).

The sweeping survey shows that over the last quarter-century, U.S. Catholics have become increasingly likely to say that individuals, not church leaders, have the final say on abortion, homosexuality, and divorce and remarriage.

That trend holds true across generational and ideological divides, and even applies to weekly Mass attenders, according to the survey, which has been conducted every six years since 1987.

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PROPERTY & THE COMMON GOOD: “Private Property and Human Flourishing.”

In a society such as ours, which values pluralism and choice, property is precisely the place to protect the freedom to choose, and that freedom secured within the property owner’s sovereign domain can be exercised for great good. It is true that this freedom can be abused, as in cases of conspicuous consumption, reckless gambling, or miserly hoarding, but these abuses are the exceptions that prove the rule. We recognize abuses of property rights as abuses precisely because we know what good property use looks like and see it so often practiced.

This suggests a reason why the Progressive Statement fails to persuade. Perhaps the authors of the Progressive Statement neglected to look around at their neighbors and observe how owner sovereignty is actually exercised. Had they done so, they would have recognized that millions of property owners daily exercise their property rights to promote the common good and should be trusted to do so in the future.

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FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION (OR SHOULDN’T BE AN EASY ONE): Here’s to Bad Divorces?

Since this blog is about religion, it’s noteworthy that most Christians—and their congregations—recognize the legitimacy of the state’s claims about divorce, even though many of the same might argue that the state is untrustworthy these days in regulating and safeguarding marriage. This seems a bit intellectually dishonest. Many Christians pursue the blessing of the Almighty on the front end of the marriage, but are content with the secular state’s authority for any decisions on the back end. The Catholic Church, of course, has only modest regard for the latter. That, at least, seems more honest, if also more aggravating for those experiencing the divorce (especially if it’s against their will).

I digress. Be all that as it may. Here’s to divorce reform legislation. It won’t be perfect. Heck, it probably won’t even be realized. But I think shifting from a simple no-fault to consensual divorce could be a positive step.

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FAITH & WORKS: “Five Reflections on Evangelicals and Adoption.”

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ABOUT TIME: “Jewish Chaplains Memorialized At Arlington Cemetery.”

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