Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE MOURNS
THE DEATH OF DR. BERNARD NATHANSON
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) joins its state affiliates all across America in mourning the loss today of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the former abortionist whose conversion to the pro-life cause was major news at the time and whose impact reverberates to this day. Dr. Nathanson, 84, died earlier this morning after a long battle with cancer.In the early 1970s Dr. Nathanson was director of the largest abortion facility in the world, New York City's Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health. He wrote that he was “personally responsible” for 75,000 abortions, and performed about 5,000 abortions.
In his 1979 book, “Aborting America,” Dr. Nathanson gave an insider’s account of the creation of what was then called the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), since rebranded as Naral Pro-Choice America. In that classic Dr. Nathanson explained how he and others cynically fabricated and exaggerated statistics about the number of abortions and the number of deaths from illegal abortions at the same time they consciously adopted a strategy of systematically vilifying the Catholic Church hierarchy.
As a fellow New Yorker, Jeanne Head, NRLC Vice President for International Affairs and United Nations Representative, knew Dr. Nathanson first as a foe and then as a friend. “Dr. Nathanson was probably one of the individuals most responsible for Roe v. Wade and, once he realized his error, he dedicated the rest of his life to reversing it,”Head said. She explained that she heard about “Aborting America" when it was in galley form and may have been the first pro-lifer to speak to him after he had finished co-writing the book with Richard Ostling.
In 1984 Dr. Nathanson unveiled “The Silent Scream,” a mesmerizingly powerful video which shows sonogram images of an unborn child frantically trying to avoid the abortionist’s instruments. Former New Hampshire Sen. Gordon Humphrey, told Time Magazine at the time that the film represented “A high technology Uncle Tom's Cabin, arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.”
Head added, “It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of his book, “The Silent Scream,” and his later video, “Eclipse of Reason” in driving home the sheer horror and brutality of abortion.”
For many years Dr. Nathanson described himself as a Jewish atheist, but in 1996 Nathanson was baptized a Catholic by Cardinal John O’Connor.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.,
Professor of Philosophy
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The Euthyphro Problem
First, many argue that making God the source of objective value solves nothing because it creates a dilemma fatal to theism. First raised by Plato in The Euthyphro, this argument claims that (1) If something is good because God wills it good, God could will anything (even murder) and it would be, ipso facto, good. But this is absurd. (2) If God’s will is not the source of the good, goodness lies outside of God’s being and this robs him of his moral supremacy (an essential attribute of deity).
This dilemma is in fact a chimera, since the theist can escape between the horns uninjured. The Euthyphro argument trades on a straw man (or straw god) that creates a false dilemma. Biblical theism—Islam is another matter that we will address later—claims God as the source of all goodness on the basis of both God’s character and God’s will. God’s moral will is based on God’s changeless nature. The triune God, who has existed from eternity in a relationship of threefold love between the Father, the Son and the Spirit, cannot, for example, morally mandate rape. God’s disposition forbids it. God’s integrity abhors it. Objective moral values, according to the Bible, are not created in the sense that the contingent universe was created out of nothing (Genesis 1:1 John 1:1). Objective moral values have their source in the eternal character, nature and substance of a loving, just, and self-sufficient God. Just as God does not create himself, so he does not create moral values, which are eternally constituent of his being. For that reason, when God creates humans in his own image and likeness, they need to know objective moral value and they must treat each other accordingly.
To hark back to Arthur Leff, to say that God’s moral utterances are “performative” does not mean that God brings something into being at a particular time that did not exist previously—as when a minister declares a couple now married as “husband and wife.” Rather, God’s character is eternally, changelessly good, so when God performs a moral utterance—as in the Ten Commandments or through the life and teachings of Jesus—he is speaking according to the eternal nature of his being. Herein is the warrant to declare the divine utterance unchallengeable and final. God’s commands are not arbitrary, either in their relation to the divine character or in their relation to the divine creation, since the creation bears the mark of the Creator. Therefore, it is impossible for God to sanction adultery, steeling, murder, false witness, and so on.
 See chapter 26.
 For a very illuminating treatment of this issue, see James Hanink and Gary R. Marr, “What Euthyphro Couldn’t Have Said,” Faith and Philosophy, vol. 4, no. 3. (July 1987): 241-261. This also addresses the objection that God demanded murder when he commanded Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. See also William Alston, “What Euthryphro Should Have Said,” William Lane Craig, ed., Philosophy of Religion: A Reader and Guide (
Monday, February 14, 2011
Doug Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy,
Auraria Master Plan, February 15, 2011
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.—Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:16)
I. What is Christianity?
A. Christian theism: worldview
1. Creation (Genesis 1-2; Romans 1)
2. Fall (Genesis 3; Romans 2-3)
3. Redemption, salvation (Romans 4-8)
II. On Being a Christian
A. The gospel (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-7; Ephesians 2:8-9)
B. Justification (Romans 5:1-8)
C. Discipleship, sanctification
1. The Cross (Luke 9:23-26; 1 John 2:15-17)
2. Faith: moment-by-moment trust in God (John 14-16)
1. Universal call
a. Love God with all your being; and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40; 1 Corinthians 13)
b. Glorify God and seek his Kingdom (1 Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 6:33; Psalm 63)
2. Particular call
Use your gifts according to the needs of the world for the glory of God. See Os Guinness, The Call.
III. Zeal According to Knowledge: Apostle Paul
A. Saul’s conversion (Acts 9)
B. Apostle Paul’s attitude (Acts 22:24)
C. Apostle Paul in action
1. Spiritual warfare (Acts 13:1-12; see also Ephesians 6:10-19)
2. Among the intellectuals: apologetics (Acts 17:16-34; Romans 12:1-2)
3. Paul’s secret power (Galatians 2:20; 6:14)
IV. Your Whole-Hearted Christianity
A. Make sure you are a Christian, a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ: You must be born again (John 3)
B. Repent of anything that keeps you from putting Christ and this Kingdom first (Matthew 4:17; Luke 24:46-49)
C. Seek God for direction, strength, and fruitfulness (Psalm 62-63; Matthew 6:33; 7:7-8)
Further Book Resources:
1. Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind.
2. Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life
3. J.P. Moreland, Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit's Power.
4. Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From its Cultural Captivity.
5. John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God .
6. John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life.
7. Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There. I have read this book ten times, starting in 1976.
8. Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality. A modern classic.
9. Mark Sayers, The Trouble With
10. John Stott, Basic Christianity. A modern classic.
11. Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway, The Heavenly Man. The compelling story of a Chinese convert and his amazing exploits for the Lord.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
PHILOSOPHICAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN DISCOURSE ON METHOD
In Discourse on Method (DOM), Descartes wrote a history of his own philosophical pilgrimage and a program for his philosophical and scientific system. The DOM serves as a programmatic summary of what Descartes considered a revolutionary new method of knowledge; it is a kind of philosophical confession of faith which serves as an apology.
Descartes presents himself as an earnest and humble seeker of truth. He delights in all manner of learning, but is unsatisfied with its uncertain status. Though well-schooled and well-traveled as a young man, his heart finds no rest in authority and tradition. He finds clarity and certainty in mathematics but sees little of philosophical value built upon its foundations. So he is discontent.
It is paramount for Descartes to convince the reader that he failed to find certainty in the conventional places. This helps to convince the reader that a new and revolution method is needed. Descartes now resolves to make himself alone the object of study.
When Descartes begins to philosophize he discovers four “precepts of logic” which he resolves never to violate: (1) to believe nothing except what is clear and distinct, (2) to divide up problems into appropriate parts, (3) to proceed from the simple to the complex, and (4) to make sure nothing is left out. This method can, Descartes thinks, deliver a kind of mathematical certitude. Yet he deems himself too young and inexperienced to commence the project. He waits until he is more mature.
Descartes then sets out to doubt all that can be doubted (while keeping religion provisionally intact), not in order to be a skeptic but to find indubitable certainty. He then gives a brief treatment of issues more thoroughly addressed in (also autobiographical) The Meditations (published later). Everything can be doubted except himself as a doubter: “I think, therefore I am” becomes the indubitable and foundational principle of certitude upon which the structure of knowledge and science can be safely built.
He goes on to report his conclusions concerning the existence of God, the distinction of mind and body and the immortality of the soul. These conclusions are reached by rebuilding philosophy from himself as an autonomous knower. Thus, according to Hirom Caton, is “the origin of [modern] subjectivity” and the animus of his autobiographical stance. (I owe several of the following observations to Caton’s book, The Origins of Subjectivity.)
To this point, Descartes uses philosophical autobiography quite skillfully. The telling of a story draws in readers who might not be normally attracted to philosophy. He conveys a sense of intellectual adventure and he personalizes the positions as his positions, grounded on his perspective, not merely as abstract speculations of no one in particular.
The autobiographical form is not incidental to the philosophy proposed. Descartes’ autobiographical form is intrinsically connected to his philosophical program. Because of his distrust of tradition, he must, as it were, begin philosophy all over again from himself as an autonomous being. The starting point for Descartes’ positive philosophy is not an abstract proposition but an existential statement, “I think, therefore, I am.” By making himself the central object of study, he demonstrates that philosophy and autobiography are intimately and necessarily related. A statement of his philosophy requires a history of the study of himself.
Descartes used autobiography to avoid an overtly didactic or dogmatic manner by saying that the book is merely a record of how he himself conducts his reason. Using the autobiographic form, Descartes can avoid the authoritarianism of the schools while still making broad sweeping claims as to the veracity and utility of his method. He believes his method is sound, but he asks his readers to test what he says against their own reason. He thus decided to write the work in the “vulgar” French instead of the traditional—and scholastic—Latin.
The rest of DOM consists of portions of an unpublished work on physical science and Descartes’ comments on why he has not published it. In these later sections Descartes launches into a kind of campaign speech for his own greatness and the indispensability of his scientific method.
He laments that he could not publish his work—The World—because of the prevailing authority’s disagreements with his conclusions. Descartes fears that publication would threaten the equanimity he needs to be a successful seeker of truth; but his dedication to human betterment demands that he arrange for its posthumous publication.
Descartes is particularly shrewd at this point. He seems to be enlisting public support for the publication of a work he is afraid to publish. He tantalizes the reader by saying that his findings have tremendous practical value for the alleviation of human suffering and betterment of human health. Descartes ends the DOM with a restatement of his mission as a seeker of truth and benefactor of humanity.
All in all, Descartes uses philosophical autobiography quite successfully. The form fits the philosophy throughout most of the DOM in that Descartes is challenging the inherited wisdom of the schools by urging a personal discovery of truth through a radical method of rethinking philosophy with self-awareness at the center. His self-awareness is the foundation of his method.
Descartes presents himself as a kind of philosophical hero of almost mythical dimensions who is on a quest for the holy Grail of certainty. He claims to have captured the Grail which blesses him with the ability to envision an entirely new philosophy and science of nature. He gives the Geometry, the Dioptrics, and the Meteorics (which follow the DOM) as positive evidence of the fruitfulness of his method. They are, he claims, harbingers of even greater discoveries.
Nevertheless, Descartes sustained self-promotion at the end of the work seems intrusive at times and does little actual philosophical work. He is fighting for the chance to be heard by showing us his good intentions and intellectual genius. But the philosophical hero succumbs to hubris and the semblance of humility is betrayed by a kind of egotism which spills over the bounds of propriety and actually gets in the way of concrete philosophizing.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
57. For Guidance
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
58. For Guidance
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.
59. For Quiet Confidence
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.