Sunday, 20 August 2017

Answering Questions about Empiricism as Foundational: Knowing that We Know

I recently wrote a piece on empiricism as being foundational to philosophical approaches to epistemology. See Noeve got involved and gave a rare substantive comment. I’ll try a comment. Perhaps my much younger 61 year old mind, which broke free from atheism about 28 years ago and became ever more Catholic starting about 20 years […]


Gun Control and Vehicle Terrorism

Australian Prime Minister has said in the last day: “After the Nice truck attack last year I asked the counter terrorism co-ordinator… to get together with all of the state and territory police agencies, with business, with local government and make sure that we had a comprehensive strategy for protecting crowded places…. What we’ve done […]


Saturday, 19 August 2017

Psalm 16:8

“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”


Black and White Christian Leaders Lament Charlottesville

Conference call tries to turn ‘pain and anger’ into ‘resolve and commitment.’

They’re angry and sad and scared.

About a dozen Christian leaders shared their reactions to Charlottesville on a Friday conference call organized by Civilitas Group president Doug Birdsall.

“We want to hear of the pain and anger from African American leaders, and we want to hear the resolve and commitment from white leaders,” stated Birdsall, past leader of the Lausanne Movement and the American Bible Society, in an explanatory email. “We also want to hear the pain and anger from white leaders, and the resolve, commitment, and vision of African American leaders.”

The call came amid public condemnations of white supremacy and racism issued by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the World Evangelical Alliance. “Racism should not only be addressed after tragic events, but regularly in our communities of faith,” stated the NAE. “Churches in the United States can lead the way in combatting attitudes and systems that perpetuate racism.”

“The greatest crisis revealed by the election and post-election reality we live in is the exposure of the white American church’s participation in and identification with racism,” stated Fuller Seminary president Mark Labberton in advance of the call. “That this has been historically true is an unlamented fact, and that it is and will define our future seems to me unquestionable.

“Disillusionment with the church and Christian faith has many elements,” he stated, “but this fundamental inconsistency to demonstrate we are living out the faith we proclaim must be high on the list of causes.”

“I feel the frustration of Moses,” said Mark Whitlock, executive director of the Cecil ...

Continue reading...


On Toleration

We recently resurrected the Tippling Philosophers, our friendly group of thinkers who meet up at the pub to discuss philosophy and, well, everything. This was the subject of our newly reincarnated group and the discussion was good. Toleration is also something that came out recently during the issues that took place in Charlottesville (which is […]


Friday, 18 August 2017

1 John 5:12

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”


The Paradox of Tolerance

I will shortly be writing a couple of pieces on tolerance, but I thought I’d whet your appetite. H/T Jon Hamer.



What follows is my first crack at developing a thought experiment (cos that’s so “in” right now) that I’ve been thinking about for a while. Feel free to critique, reject, mock… whatever works for you.   Though Experiment Imagine a simple thing, a sphere of some kind. Now imagine lots of them, lying gathered on […]


The Centuries-Old Habits of the Heart

How our accomodation of sin found us out in Charlottesville.

The tragic events in Charlottesville have captivated the attention of the nation, plunging us, yet again, into another period of deep soul-searching over our anguished racial history. President Trump drew criticism from both sides of the aisle for his reluctance to condemn white nationalism specifically in his initial remarks.

As a scholar of political rhetoric, I understand, yet strongly disagree with, Trump’s strategy in refusing to condemn white nationalism specifically. A vocal part of his base aligns with this philosophy, leaving him little incentive to risk alienating them. When former Klansman David Duke endorsed Trump during the campaign, the candidate expressed similar hesitancy in distancing himself from white nationalism.

Trump deserves strong criticism for his failure to specifically and clearly condemn white nationalism. The lure of power and votes do not justify his silence. Yet, to criticize an unpopular president is easy. Perhaps the harder, more difficult task we face in the wake of Charlottesville is to consider how we as citizens and Christians engage in a similar type of silence on a regular basis. Many of us mobilize in defense of ideals of equality every time an incident like Charlottesville occurs, but quickly retreat to our comfort zones when public attention dies down. Daily battles for equality in church, education, employment, and the criminal justice system are much harder to maintain.

Trump’s silence on white supremacy was not an aberration, but a cultural norm. Our disgust with his statement threatens to blind us to the ways in which the American imagination has consistently made room for the ideas of white supremacy to exist alongside of core values like freedom, justice, and equality. ...

Continue reading...


Are Evangelicals Donating Too Directly to Missions?

When helping hurts the professional helpers.

Long before Google Maps, a couple of guys in a garage in California figured out how to use personal computers to create a digital map of the global church.

It was 1983, and their two-year project—meant to help organizations see where to send missionaries and who still needed translations of the Bible—grew into an organization called Global Mapping International (GMI).

GMI spent the next 34 years supplying products such as missions maps and studies on how missionaries could thrive. It didn’t charge missions agencies very much and supplemented by asking for donations.

In June, GMI closed its doors, unable to draw enough funding from today’s givers.

“The attention span of the donor is much shorter, and their desire for tangible, immediate impact from their gift is much higher,” said GMI president and CEO Jon Hirst.

Up-and-coming donors are bringing with them a new set of priorities. Nearly a quarter of millennial Christian givers (22%) say efficiency and effectiveness are good reasons to support an organization, compared to 12 percent of those over 35, according to a groundbreaking study by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). It asked about the motivations of more than 16,000 donors to Christian ministries.

Younger donors also are more likely than older donors to research an organization before giving (96% vs. 88%), as well as to choose ministries that do long-term humanitarian work such as caring for orphans (89% vs. 85%) or providing education (76% vs. 68%). They’re less likely to favor things such as making the Bible available (90% vs. 96%), teaching Christians to live as disciples (77% vs. 83%) or strengthening marriages and families (70% vs. 76%), ECFA reported. ...

Continue reading...


'House of Cards' Keeps Scraping the Bottom of Evil’s Barrel

After five seasons, it’s high time the Underwoods’ crimes come home to roost.

This article contains potential spoilers for House of Cards, Seasons 1–5.

Netflix’s House of Cards is now in danger of overstaying its welcome. At five seasons, the story feels bloated, its characters stretched thin. Despite its largely depleted resources, however, there remain a few slender elements that could salvage the show. Though I rolled my eyes at the final episode’s open-ended conclusion, I’ll reluctantly concede that another season of House of Cards might restore some of the show’s bite.

With its muted color palette, finely crafted dialogue, and expert performances, House of Cards wears its prestige drama getup well, but that’s not enough. As the promising but lackluster Ozarkhas recently demonstrated, high production values don’t guarantee a story’s success, and House of Cards season 5 doesn’t quite convince us that what’s happening on its elaborate sets really matters.

The series has always struggled with one major challenge: How do you make a static character interesting? Francis (Frank) Underwood arrives onscreen as a fully-formed monster. From his callous killing of a wounded dog in the show’s opening scenes to his gleefully blasphemous antics in an empty sanctuary, we know immediately that Frank’s insatiable appetite for power is matched only by his ruthless ambition—that he’ll do anything to get what he wants. We may be horrified at the lengths to which he’ll go to secure his wishes, but we’re certainly not surprised.

Compare this to a show like Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, where we witness a moral transformation that’s as plausible as it is horrifying. (Gilligan pursues a similar trajectory in the stunning ...

Continue reading...


On Deduction and Induction and How They Relate to the Kalam

I will be reposting a previous article today because ideas of induction and deduction have come up in another post with a few asking for clarification. Here, I will look at deduction and induction in the context of how they relate to the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Alan Duval has also written about induction and deduction […]


Islamic Terrorism: A Thought Experiment

I was thinking about the recurrence of terrible atrocities done in the name of Islam, again, today. Barcelona has been hit, and one assumes that Islam, as a worldview, has something to do with the events, in some way. Now let’s take this to the extreme (no pun intended). Let’s imagine that a large Islamic […]


Trump Taken to Task

To follow on from my previous piece on Trump, here is a video of Jimmy Kimmel skewering the President on his insanely bad press conference. Check it out. Let’s make Trump king.


Trump Is Simply an Idiot

There are many reasons this is so. Firstly, let’s look at his ability to communicate like an adult. Here is part of the transcription of the press conference he gave after the Charlottesville problems. I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure unlike most politicians that what […]


Answering Questions about Empiricism as Foundational: Our Rational Nature

I wrote a piece recently entitled “Empiricism as Foundational” to which See Noevo, when prompted, finally actually said something of substance, and asked some questions and made some points. I would like to deal with them in this post. He stated: I’ll try a comment. Perhaps my much younger 61 year old mind, which broke […]


Empiricism as Foundational

I have talked before about the empiricism vs rationalism debate that has taken place historically and presently in philosophical circles. Today, I am going to explore this a little further. As I said before… Rationalism The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that rationalists adopt at least one of three statements: The Intuition/Deduction Thesis: Some propositions in a […]


Quote of the Day: Kass McMahon on Trump as an Atheist

There were a lot of interesting quotes on my short piece on the idea of Trump being outed as an atheist and what ramification this would have. Kass McMahon, on the ATP Facebook page, said this, which I liked: I think he is an atheist. Not in the traditional sense of someone who has philosophically thought […]


“Alt-Right”? No, the Far Right.

It’s all going off in the US, that’s for sure. But something that has been bugging me, and many others, is the use of the term “alt-right”. This seems to be a term to describe the rise of the right amongst social media and popular culture that we have seen over the last ten years or […]


Pruitt Demands Peer-Review of 14-Man Peer-Reviewed Climate Change Report

Scott Pruitt is in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency and he denies that climate change is human caused. He is presently claiming that scientific reporting of climate change is “politicised” and recently took much criticism after announcing that he wanted to have a “red team, blue team” debate of climate science. Indeed, The New York Times released a major (draft) climate […]


Virtue Signalling – Everybody Does It. All of the Time.

I am going to share my views on this apparently recent phenomenon called virtue signalling. Jeremiah Traeger recently wrote a super article on it here at ATP. He’s good, that man. Let’s define it again, as per Wikipedia: Virtue signalling [sic] is the conspicuous expression of moral values done primarily with the intent of enhancing standing […]


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Philippians 1:21

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”


Islamic Terrorism: A Thought Experiment

I was thinking about the recurrence of terrible atrocities done in the name of Islam, again, today. Barcelona has been hit, and one assumes that Islam, as a worldview, has something to do with the events, in some way. Now let’s take this to the extreme (no pun intended). Let’s imagine that a large Islamic […]


Do We Need a Stronger Word for 'Faith'?

Why theologian Matthew Bates would have evangelicals profess ‘allegiance’ to Christ.

In his provocative book Salvation by Allegiance Alone, Matthew W. Bates expresses deep concern that Christians—particularly North American conservative evangelicals—misunderstand what the Bible means when it calls people to faith. Too often, he argues, they reduce faith to cognitive assent, as if believing in Christ simply means agreeing with certain propositions. Further, they often reduce conversion to saying a one-time prayer, thus presenting faith as a kind of “fire insurance”—a way to avoid God’s judgment, no matter how one decides to live. The effect is to disdain good works and God’s law as self-righteousness, creating a false opposition between faith and obedience and neglecting the Bible’s call to love God by keeping his commandments (John 14:15).

Bates has two main concerns: first, that gospel is too often equated with justification by faith alone. But this equation is not faithful to the New Testament. The gospel is something Jesus announces and embodies; it is the story of the eternal Son becoming one with us in his incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement as king and judge. God’s people are justified by faith alone only as they are united to the risen King by the Holy Spirit. Our faith, then, is rooted in the story of Jesus the King; we celebrate his victory over sin and death while also submitting to his everlasting reign.

This takes us to Bates’s second concern. He argues that the term pistis, most often translated as “faith,” should instead be translated as “allegiance,” because this concept more faithfully conveys the New Testament understanding. This allegiance has three dimensions: “mental affirmation ...

Continue reading...


White Evangelicals Oppose Calls to Impeach Trump

President’s faithful want him to stay in office, and trust him on Russia.

Even before the fallout over President Donald Trump’s remarks on the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, a growing number of Americans hoped to see the country’s 45th leader impeached. However, white evangelicals—a group that largely voted for Trump—were among the most likely to want him to stay in the White House.

A PRRI poll conducted in early August found that 40 percent of Americans believe the President should be impeached, up from 30 percent who said so in February.

Among white evangelicals, 79 percent oppose the calls to impeach Trump—more so than white mainline Protestants (63%), white Catholics (61%), and nones (45%). Overall, about half of Americans say Trump does not deserve to be impeached.

The findings fit with broader trends in Americans’ approval ratings of the President, which have lagged behind those of previous administrations. Evangelical leaders have cheered Trump’s US Supreme Court appointee, challenged his immigration and refugee policy, and awaited much-anticipated changes to the healthcare system. But Trump has also faced ongoing criticism over his rhetoric, turnover among White House staff, and investigations into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

“There is an effort to do whatever is necessary to take this president down,” said Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s evangelical advisers and head pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, on CBN this week to describe the negative media coverage of a president whom Jeffress views as “very honest” and who “refuses to be politically correct.”

Last month, a different poll by USA Today/iMediaEthics listed evangelicals among Trump’s strongest supporters, with about half ...

Continue reading...


State Department's Unusually Short Religious Freedom Update: ISIS Is Bad

Months late, the new Secretary of State quickly highlights ongoing genocide in the Middle East in intro to annual report.

The US State Department kept its annual assessment of international religious freedom unusually short this year, reiterating the country’s commitment to the cause and calling out ISIS as perpetrators of genocide.

Over the past five years, the executive summaries for the department’s annual religious freedom report have averaged more than 5,000 words. They typically detail problems such as North Korea’s religious prisoners, Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, and the instability caused by Islamic extremism in the Middle East.

This year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson skipped the lengthy executive summary and laid out a preface just 440 words, naming only a single concern in his written introduction: ISIS.

“ISIS has and continues to target members of multiple religions and ethnicities for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and death,” the Trump administration appointee and former Exxon CEO wrote. “The protection of these groups—and others who are targets of violent extremism—remains a human rights priority for the Trump administration.”

The report was also a few months later than normal, released on August 15 rather than by May 1. In his remarks, Tillerson repeated the genocide designation for ISIS and also referenced the nomination of Governor Sam Brownback as the department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

The annual report reviews the state of religious freedom in 199 countries, and CT has highlighted six places where Christians continue to face significant barriers to worshiping freely: Iraq, Indonesia, India, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.

Deadly Terror in Iraq

ISIS was responsible for half of all verified casualties (5,403) in Iraq during the ...

Continue reading...