Monday, August 31, 2009
Groothuis on Cyberspace and Scholarship
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's Worldview
Read the entire article.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
How Do I Know?
1. Wikipedias. So many people adding so much just makes it "true." And I chose which Wikis to believe.
2. Perception is reality. What else is there?
3. Subjective satisfaction does the trick. It feels good, so it works, so it is "true."
4. Oprah said it.
5. Truth is what my social networking site lets me get away with, which is just about anything.
6. All absolutes are false!
7. All restrictions on my free-flowing, ever-evolving self are false.
There's my epistemology, you curmudgeons! Deal with it.
Biomimicry: Nature as Model for Technology
In light of biomimicry, consider this argument
1. Scientists are mimicking naturally-occurring mechanisms in nature (such as DNA) in order to develop better design plans for various manmade technologies.
2. If (1) is true, this assumes that these naturally occurring mechanisms are themselves designed, since they evince design plans superior to human design plans.
3. Therefore, these naturally-occurring mechanisms (such as DNA) are designed, otherwise
they would not be candidates for imitation by technologies.
 Claire Baldwin, “IBM uses DNA to make next-gen microchips,” Reuters, August 16, 2009 at: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE57F1K720090816
 See Bharat Bhushan, “Biomimetics: lessons from nature – an overview,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A, Vol. 367, 1445–1486 (2009). The author does not advocate ID. The whole issue in which this paper appears is dedicated to biomimicry.
Tony Jones on Perverse Unions
1. Set aside any slippery slope concern. These unions themselves are unnatural, wrong, and ungodly in themselves--whatever they lead to. The biblical norm is heterosexual monogamy (Genesis 2; Matthew 19:1-2). Anything else issues from the the results of the fall, not creation. Anything else is not blessed by God but rather erupts from the sinful hearts of human beings bent on creating their own sexuality (Mark 7:21-23). It is sinful autonomy writ large and ugly. We should love, not hate, people in this situation; but to deny their sin does not help them, nor does it honor God, who will bring everything into account one Day.
2. "Monogamy" refers to "one spouse." Spouses are of the opposite sex of their spouse. Using "monogamous," as Jones does, for same sex unions is a semantic absurdity. To invoke Schaeffer, it is "semantic mysticism"--one uses a soft, friendly term to defend a hard falsity.
3. Slippery slopes do exist. Legalizing abortion on demand led to an overall cheapening of unborn life in America. The argument was that abortion would only occur in "hard cases"--threats to the mother's life, extreme fetal deformity, etc. Now people have abortions for sex selection and to murder Down's babies--80-90% of which are now killed before birth. The slope is real, Mr. Jones. To say otherwise to be be a flagrant (if popular) ignoramus. Legal scholars are already arguing for the legal legitimation of polygamy, since same sex unions are considered marriages in some (debauched) states.
We are seeing the degression of Romans 1:18-32 played out in our culture and in our churches. The truth of God is supressed and idols made from human imagination--idols of "liberation" through perverse associations--put on the throne.
May God have mercy on us and lead Tony Jones to repentence. He should read James 3:1 and tremble before the Word of God, which is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).
Friday, August 28, 2009
The Limits of Apologetics
First, the Bible is a long, ancient, and sometimes perplexing book for contemporary people. Defending what the Bible teaches is no simple task, and certainly does not admit of a formula. Even the stellar apologist must face her intellectual limits and never bluff knowing more than she knows. However, to admit this difficulty is not to revel in mysteries, paradoxes, or (worse yet) absurdities. Rather, we should realize that all of our intellectual endeavors—especially those dealing with the broadest and deepest questions of life’s meaning—will be dogged to some degree by misunderstanding, ignorance, and intellectual disappointment. To hold that the Christian worldview is the best rational explanation for the things that matter most does not imply that we have a lock on all the best arguments or have attained all the truths we need.
Second, apologetics is not only limited by the difficulty of the subject itself, but by the weaknesses of the subjects who practice it—you and I. We commend and defend Christianity through our speech, our writing, and our demeanor. And we are sinners. We are the medium for this matchless message, but we are flawed. The best argument carried forth by a bad character will not likely have the desired effect. We may know strong apologetic arguments, but lack courage to present them, or, conversely, we may confidently offer arguments that we think are strong, but are not. We may study too much and pray too little, or the opposite. And so it goes. Yet we may be thankful that “God can make a straight line with a crocked stick,” as the medieval saying goes. If we fall short as apologists, this does not mean that Christianity is untrue or irrational or that all our efforts are vain. Our job is to faithfully give the best arguments possible from the purest heart possible.
Third, apologetics must be understood within the framework of God’s secret counsels, as Calvinists like to put it. God often does not tell us how or why he brings some things about. As the hymn puts it, “God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.” God may use any means at his disposal, and every means are at his disposal. As the majestic Westminster Confession of Faith puts it, “God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.” The apologist might be likened to a physician trying to cure an ailment. He can only use the tools of his trade, but he realizes that some people spontaneously recover without treatment and some do not respond well to treatment that should help them. Nevertheless, he does not despair of his task.
 See also See Francis Schaeffer, “The Weakness of God’s Servants” in No Little People, No Little Places (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1974), 43-60.
 They typically appeal to Deuteronomy 29:29; see also Romans 11:33-36.
 Chapter V, section 3.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Bradbury on Television (thanks to Erin Heim for this)
"If you're not driving a hundred miles an hour, at a clip where you can't think of anything else but the danger, then you're playing some game or sitting in some room where you can't argue with the four-wall televisor. Why? The televisor is "real." It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It MUST be right. It SEEMS so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn't time to protest, "What nonsense!"
“Health care legislation before Congress would allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortions, a decision that would affect millions of women and recast federal policy on the divisive issue.” -The Associated Press, August 5, 2009, “Gov’t Insurance Would Allow Coverage for Abortion.”
“Obama has said in the past that ‘reproductive services’ would be covered by his public plan, so it’s likely that any new federal insurance plan would cover abortion unless Congress expressly prohibits that… Therefore, we judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions ‘fabrications.’”-Factcheck.org, August 21, 2009, “Abortion: Which Side is Fabricating?”
Alone, but Watched
One dominant feature of contemporary life is anonymity. We are often alone together, with others but isolated from them because we do not know them and they do not know us. We shuttle around in our automobiles, isolated spatially and sonically. We may sit next to someone on a light rail, but most are listening to iPods, tapping on laptops, or yakking on cell phones (as if no one in the car was hearing them). And so it goes.
Anonymity also means a lack of responsibility and accountability to others. Who knows if you check into a hotel (where no one knows you) and watch a pornographic film? Yes, God knows and you sin will find out you; but in the short run, you feel safe because you are anonymous. You are unknown. But one would not do this openly at home in front of one's parents or spouse. Of course, anonymity is a way of life for many on the Internet. Many who post on this blog use false names. I always take their comments less seriously.
To compensate for anonymity, however, we have become a surveillance society. More and more of our public activities are monitored electronically. Look at the cameras at busy intersections. The Denver Light Rail cars also have hidden cameras, as I was told yesterday by the conductor through a public address system after someone pulled the emergency stop wire. "We will get you," he said in an annoyed voice.
Surveillance tries to provide the accountability lost in anonymity. It cannot. It can only detect infractions and punish them legally. Surveillance overcomes some aspects of privacy that might be used in anti-social ways, but it cannot provide moral incentive for the common good.
Surveillance is no replacement for friendship, citizenship, and membership in embodied communities. These are being lost at a rapid rate. Love is lost as souls are untethered from one another and their God.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The State and Your Religion
The Problem of Evil
Sunday, August 23, 2009
He Promised to "Transform America." Do Not Let Him!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Obama: Single Payer Health Care
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Another Outtake from "What Matters Most"
Ted Bundy (1946-1989), the stunningly successful mass murder (until caught and executed), shared Stirner’s basic philosophy. Although I have no evidence that Bundy read Max Stirner (few have), his philosophy of life was quintessential Stirner. A transcript taken from recorded comments by Bundy, which were made to a woman he was about to rape and kill, reveal his worldview. Having learned that “value judgments” are subjective and that none can be deemed right or wrong, Bundy found no reason to obey the law. Especially for one like himself, “who was bold and daring” and who had “the strength of character to throw off the shackles.” Bundy discovered his freedom by rejecting that “he was bound to respect the rights of others.” If humans have no intrinsic rights, “Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer?” In an age of “scientific enlightenment,” there is no justification for calling “some pleasures as ‘moral’ or ‘good’ and other as immoral and ‘bad.” This is how Bundy justified the raping and murdering of dozens of young women. Given his (false) amoral presuppositions, he was right.
 It was revealed in a 1989 interview with James Dobson shortly before Bundy’s execution that Bundy repented of his crimes.
 A paraphrased and rewritten statement of Ted Bundy by Harry V. Jaffa, Homosexuality and the Natural Law (Claremont, CA: The Claremont Institute of the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, 1990), 3-4.
Cross Purposes, Indeed
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Rationing of Health Care?
This clever trope is deeply misleading and trades on an equivocation. The distribution of scarce goods is not always "rationing." When the state takes over anything, it rations by coercion. People in charge make decisions that are the final word.
No, health care is not perfectly implemented as it stands, but we have a relatively discentralized process that is not subject to top-down abuses. Please read this essay on that topic.
The Pain of Prayer
Part of the pain is prayer. Prayer, especially as praise and thanksgiving, can be joyful--communion with God as he reveals his goodness. But prayer can be hard and agonizing work. It often is for me. I must deny myself to pray over worries and concerns regarding myself, others, and this fallen and bleeding world, to keep praying when nothing seems to be happening, when my thought wander. Yet Jesus said to his disciples before his own supreme suffering, "Could you not pray for one hour?" How many of us in America today pray for one hour at a time, or even one hour a week? I mean time dedicated only to prayer, not prayer throughout the day or ten second prayer before a meal.
Jesus said we should not make a spectacle of our prayer, as did the Scribes and Pharisees, but how do we pray with feeling and intelligence publicly in a way that reveals our anguished yearning for the greater in-breaking of God's Kingdom? How often do we weep over the world's woes as we pray--in the manner of Jeremiah?
In hedonistic American, where for so many, the principal values are personal peace and affluence (Francis Schaeffer), we tend to avoid the difficult and medicate the painful at all costs. Yet the gospel calls us to embrace certain kinds of pain--the pain of struggling against a sinful world and self--for the sake of the greater good of the Kingdom of God.
Big, Bad, and Dangerous
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
"Won't Get Fooled Again..."?
Monday, August 10, 2009
"Reform" That Should Revolt You
This health bill is draconian, authoritarian, and unneeded. Real health reform is needed, but not something that makes health care a huge federal bureaucracy (covering 1/6 of the economy) involving rationing and the undermining of doctor's and patient's conscience. Please let your concerns be known to your representatives before it comes up for a vote after the August recess. So very much is at stake for you and your country.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
"The Cove" and Another Moral Topic
This is a superb piece of film making with a cogent narrative and moral. (Listen to the interview with two of the principal activists in the film.) As I watched the resourceful team crack the secrecy of the killing cove to film these atrocities (this is what makes it an adventure), I wondered why at least some Americans with pro-life convictions do not marshal this level of intelligence and moral courage on behalf of the one million human beings legally slaughtered in the US each year. If Obama Care passes, your tax dollars will be paying for America's killing fields, because any abortion will be covered under that socialized system. The Hyde Amendment forbids this now.
What in the name of God, who made us in his image, can awake the conscience of the American people (or at least part of the Church) to the moral carnage of abortion on demand--soon to be paid for by everyone if the Democrats push through their draconian disaster known as "health care reform"?
Is there a remnant? Or perhaps a remnant of a remnant remaining?
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Friday, August 07, 2009
Dr. Gordon Lewis Class Available (Links Corrected)
You might have occasion to refer some people (anywhere) to my on-line credit course on Apologetics with the Institute for Theological Studies (ITS). Here are the two links to the course and its professor.
Art Walk This Friday, August 7
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Missing Doug Groothuis Articles
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Danger Then, Danger Now
Dynamics of Faith and Doubt
1. Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality
2. Ajith Fernando. The Call to Joy and Pain
3. C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.
4. Os Guinness, God in the Dark.
I'm not sure the web page will tell you much, but you can contact Denver Seminary at:
I can also send you a syllabus. If you do not want to take the class for credit, you may audit for a fee.
Obama: You Will Pay To Kill The Unborn
What will pro-life people do if this passes?
Home on the School
Another Obama Disaster
Sunday, August 02, 2009
A Few Thoughts on Preaching
2. One should read the text in question aloud many times before preaching it, since this familiarizes you with the sound of the text. Besides hard study of the text (or topic), one should meditate on the material at length. I did this recently on Acts 17:24-34 and was amazed at what I found, even though I had preached it several times in the past five years.
3. Pray over every aspect of the message: preparation, execution, and how it will be received. Ask others to pray for you. Spurgeon, the great preacher, said his secret was that "my people pray for me." Americans do not pray. They are too busy doing "important things." Thus, there is little power or holiness in the pulpits of the land.
4. Try to find as much silence as possible on the way to preaching the sermon. If driving, do not listen to the radio or music, unless it is godly worship music. The best thing for me has been to drive in silence while thinking and praying through the message.
5. Try not to be distracted if people leave during the message. You may not know why they are leaving. Moreover, the truth often offends people who cannot take it. It is not necessarily a judgment on the value of your preaching. People called the Apostle Paul a "babbler," but he did not give up (Acts 17).
6. Pray before and after the message. Mean it. Call out to God to bless the message and to edify and convict you and your congregation. Don't preach in the prayer, but beseech God according to the truth you preach.
7. It often settles people down to take a moment of silence at the beginning and/or end of the service. Sadly, some churches throw so much clutter at the congregation--skits, bad music, pointless announcements, film clips--that silence is required to enter the proper frame of mind to preach and listen to the preaching.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Groothuis Sermon Available On Line
I give the second installment on August 2 at 10:00 AM. This covers verses verses 24-34, the meat of Paul's remarkable speech to the philosophers of Athens.