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charlottesville_protests

White nationalists and protestors clash in Charlottesville, Virginia – ABC News.

 

You never know what’s next. That’s both the joy and the danger of writing political commentary. When events occur tha call out for commentary, sometimes you’re well prepared, and at other times not so much. The uproar over the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia? For this author it falls under the category of not so much.

When discussing an emotional issue such as race, it is always tempting to fall into the error of thinking one must pick sides. One is either on the side of Black Lives matter or the White Nationalists. We’re either for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) or with Richard Spencer and the National Policy Institute. Forgotten many times is a third possibility: both sides may be wrong.

For example, in the 1930s the great political conflict in Europe was between the Marxist on the one hand, and the fascists on the other. One was either a Marxist or a fascist. If one was right the other was wrong. But looking back on that period through the intervening 8 decades, many people today likely would say both sides were in error. And, of course, they would be right to do so.

In like fashion, looking at today’s conflict between the SJW left and the Alt-right, the proper stance of the Christian is to reject both points of view as unbiblical. Why do I say this?

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Ruth_and_Naomi_Leave_Moab

Ruth and Naomi Leave Moab, 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872).

He [the Lord] pours contempt on princes, and disarms the mighty. He uncovers deep things out of darkness, and brings the shadow of death to light. He makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them. He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people and of the earth, and makes them wander in a pathless wilderness. They grope in the dark without light, and He makes them stagger like a drunken man (Job 12-21-25).

 

“Many councils lack strategy for care of returning ISIS fighters’ children,” ran the Radio Sweden headline. Sigh. What shall I say to this?  When coming across an absurdity of this magnitude, I’m almost at a loss for words. Almost, but not quite.

In the article from what I take to be the official Swedish government radio outlet , we are informed earnestly, and one supposes sincerely, that there are grave concerns many areas of Sweden are ill-equipped to deal with problems faces by the families of returning ISIS fighters. Only Gothenburg, we are told, has a strategy in place for this.

Terrorism researcher Magnus Ranstorp states that about 65 women have returned to Sweden after spending time is ISIS controlled areas. Notably Ranstorp says nothing about the status of their husbands who presumably are the actual ISIS fighters.

Ranstrop goes on to note that boys as young as nine have been recruited as soldiers for ISIS, girls are considered marriageable at that same age, and that ISIS uses children as informants against their parents.

Of course, the most obvious question – Why on earth were such people ever allowed to settle in Sweden in the first place, let alone return there after fighting for ISIS? – is never asked. The only concern is how to care for the traumatized families, especially the children, who, based upon what was said in the article itself, may themselves by ISIS recruits.

This is madness.

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Great Ormond

“The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercised authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.” With these words, Christ rebuked his quarreling disciples, who had been arguing among themselves about who should be considered the greatest.

This passage is key, not only for teaching Christians how ought to treat one another, but also for establishing a Christian theory of politics. The world taught that governments were the masters of their subjects. Kings were expected exercise “lordship” and “authority” over their people. That’s just the way it was, and the way it was supposed to be. To add insult to injury, these same ungodly and arrogant authorities wanted to be called “benefactors.” This was literally the case for several kings in the ancient world, who took the title “Euergetes” (Greek for “benefactor”) as part of their name.

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Nye_UndeniableThis week’s installment o f our series on Bill Nye continues our review of Chapter 2 of his book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.

Bill Nye Asserts The Consequent

Suppose for a moment we were having a conversation about my car and I said to you, “If my battery’s dead, my car won’t start.” “Okay,” you replied, “that makes sense.”

So we go out to my driveway; I hop in and try to crank the engine. Nothing happens.

“Alright,” I say, “obviously this is scientific proof that my battery’s dead!”

What would you say about my logic? Well, if you had any sort of mechanical background, or had just a little bit of training in logic, you’d probably point out to me that I was jumping to conclusions. You might say something like, “Not so fast there, Steve. Sure, your battery may be dead, but there are many other explanations why your car won’t start. Maybe you didn’t check your oil and your engine’s locked up (I had this happen once), or maybe your ignition switch is broken. You could have a bad battery cable. In fact, there are probably dozens of reason why your car won’t start that have nothing do with a dead battery. Don’t you think you’re getting ahead of yourself by claiming you know your battery’s dead?”

This little story illustrates a common logical fallacy called asserting the consequent. This fallacy is the result of the misuse of a form of argument called the hypothetical argument. In my illustration above, you can easily spot where I go wrong in my thinking. I conclude that my battery is dead, even though there are many other reasons that can just as easily explain why my car won’t start.

But here’s the shocking part: the logical fallacy of asserting the consequent is foundational to the scientific method. That’s right. All the supposed great “truths” discovered by science, the very ones that Bill Nye and others like to use to try to intimidate Christians, are built, as it were, on the logical equivalent of quicksand.

On pages 14 and 15, Nye attempts to solidify the invincible logical rigor of science by providing the reader with an example of a successful prediction made by science. In Nye’s mind, this example illustrates the validity of science, but all it really does is underscore his own poor reasoning skills.

Nye relates the story of a University of Chicago scientists who, reasoning that there must exist the fossil of an animal showing the transition between fish and land animals, led a an expedition to an area in northeastern Canada where he thought he would find what he was looking for. As it turned out, the expected fossil was found leading Nye to claim that this is sound science, because the scientist’s prediction of the fossil turned out to be true.

The hypothesis the scientist used to make his prediction is left unstated by Nye, but it probably ran something like this: If land animals evolved from fish, then I should be able to find the fossil of an animal in such and such a place that has features of both fish and land animals. Eureka! I did, in fact, find the fossil of such an animal in the place where I expected, therefore it is true that land animals evolved from fish.

This argument is in the same form as my example above about my car and the dead battery. There could be any number of reasons why the fossil – the name of the fossil in question is the Tiktaalik – was found where it was that have nothing to do with the professor’s particular hypothesis or even, more generally, evolution.

It’s remarkable how smart people like Bill Nye can be so easily misled that they mistaken obvious logical fallacies for the truth. Worth noting is that the Bible itself predicts Nye’s fallacious thinking, giving as the reason for it the fact that men, in their unrighteousness, suppress their innate knowledge of God. And refusing to acknowledge God, they will move heaven and earth to drive him from their conscience by erecting their own intellectual constructs, however full or logical errors they may be. The world calls this sort of humanistic reasoning wisdom. But God calls it foolishness.

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G20 Hamburg_2017

Group photo of the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. 

To one and all, happy belated Independence Day. Yes, this past week Americans celebrated the fact that, twelve score and one years ago, “our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

As a kid, July 4th was always one of my favorite times of the year. How could it not be. It was summer. School was out. And it was all about baseball, backyard barbeques with family, and lots of stuff that went boom!

America’s Bicentennial year of 1976 I remember as if it were yesterday. Recently I was reminded how long ago it really was when President Trump made some comment about the upcoming 250th anniversary of America’s independence. Good grief! Where did time go?

Well, even thought a lot of Independence Days have come and gone since 1976, I still love the day for all the same reasons I did back then. An a few more to boot.

You see, when I was a child, I didn’t really grasp the importance of liberty and freedom from tyranny. But as an adult, and one who has been eyewitness to the kind of gross usurpations of liberty governments are capable of, I have come more and more to appreciate the bold stand for liberty of America’s founding generation.

One important facet of the American Revolution that is almost entirely forgotten in the present day is that it represents the political flowering of the Protestant Reformation. Simply put, no Reformation, no United States of America.

In the beginning all America was Protestant – 98 percent of the people. The numbers we have for church affiliation in the seventeenth and eighteenth century America show that three – fourths of Americans were Calvinists of one flavor or another. Puritan, Pilgrim, Presbyterian, Baptist, German Reformed, Lutheran, Congregationalist, and Episcopal. There were few Catholics, almost no Jews or Methodists, and no Muslims, Mormons, Moonies, Buddhists, Confucianists, Hindus, or atheists. Had there been any large numbers of these groups, there would have been no America as we have known it, not because the people who hold these views are somehow inferior, but because the views themselves are inferior: They are logically incapable of creating and sustaining a free society (John Robbins, Rebuilding American Freedom in the Twenty-First Century).

It was biblical political philosophy, not the thought of ancient Greece and Rome, that is the cause of America’s historic, if not present, commitment to limited constitutional government and private property.

The widespread preaching of, and belief in, the Gospel of Justification by Faith Alone created a whole new civilization in the nations influenced by the Reformation. And not only that, but the political implications of the Reformation created a whole new system of international relations called the Westphalian World Order (WWO).

Pre-Westphalian Europe was a mixture of declining empires, retreating feudal lords and an emerging class of traders and capitalist entrepreneurs with the Church remaining very influential as an instrument of European governance. The Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, brought to an end the Thirty Years’ War, the first pan-European war in history. Under the terms of the peace settlement, a number of countries were confirmed in their sovereignty over territories. They were empowered to contract treaties with one another and with foreign powers. In a nutshell the central authority of the empire was replaced almost entirely by the sovereignty of about 300 princes. The Peace Treaty was a turning point in the mutual recognition of sovereignty rights. Although the signatories of the treaty had only the peace of Europe as their ultimate objective, the unintended consequence of their efforts was to create a global order based on a “State System” (KImon Valaskakis, Westphalia II: The Real Millennium Challenge).

While it may seem like common sense to some, the idea that a nation state has the right to conduct its own affairs free from outside influence was a revolutionary idea in its time. Inspired by the Reformation, the vested powers of the day, most notably the Roman Church-State – note well that Valaskakis mentions that “the Church remain[ed] very influential as an instrument of European governance – fought against Westphalian Sovereignty and the emerging WWO with all their might. But simply put, the good guys won, the bad guys lost, and a new and better civilization emerged from feudal darkness.

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