Humanists show off their Biblical illiteracy

According to the humanist Joseph C. Sommer:

Jesus also erred in predicting the amount of time he would be in the tomb. At Matthew 12:40 he teaches: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Mark 15:42-45 shows that Jesus died on a Friday afternoon. But Mark 16:9 and Matthew 28:1 tell us he left the tomb sometime on Saturday night or Sunday morning. Either way, the amount of time was less than three nights.

But Russell Grigg refuted this type of simplistic interpretation, over 20 years ago:

The ancient Hebrews idiomatically counted a part of a day as a whole day, so that ‘three days and three nights’ could have been as short as 38 hours. This explains how Jesus could say that the time He would be in the tomb (from late Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning) was similar to the ‘three days and three nights’ of Jonah’s experience (Matthew 12:40).

It is interesting to note that in Mark 8:31 Jesus is recorded as saying, ‘The Son of Man will rise again after three days’, while in Matthew 16:21 He says, ‘He will be raised again on the third day.’ Jesus thus used the two time frames interchangeably, and there is no error or contradiction concerning the time Jesus was in the tomb compared with the time Jonah was in the fish, as sceptics have claimed.

My two cents

And to think that humanists are critical of “biblical literalism” (a loaded term). Here, it’s the humanists who are more literalist than the literalists they criticise!

It’s one thing for humanists to bemoan Christians who lack scientific literacy—but humanists need to look in the mirror, and recognise their biblical illiteracy.

I think there’s a website that indexes creationist claims about scientific data—and I imagine that humanists would endorse that site.

But one of these days, I should set up an index of humanist claims about Biblical interpretation—and the times they get it wrong. Maybe this post can comprise the first entry.

Quote sources

  1. Sommer, J.C. (n.d.) Some Reasons Why Humanists Reject The Bible. American Humanist Association. Available https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/reasons-humanists-reject-bible/. Last accessed 19th May 2017.
  2. Grigg, R. (1995). Jonah and the Great Fish. Creation Ministries International. Available http://creation.com/jonah-and-the-great-fish. Last accessed 19th May 2017.

Religious freedom is growing under Trump

President Donald Trump on Thursday made good on a promise to allow religious organizations greater freedom in political speech.

Faith is deeply embedded into the history of our country, the spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation,” Trump said in the Rose Garden at a National Day of Prayer event with religious leaders and White House staff. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”

The president declared his administration would be “leading by example” on religious liberty in the United States.

“We are giving our churches their voices back,” Trump said.

Quote Source

Vitali, A. (2017). Trump Signs ‘Religious Liberty’ Executive Order Allowing for Broad Exemptions. NBC News. Available http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-signs-religious-liberty-executive-order-allowing-broad-exemptions-n754786. Last accessed 17th May 2017

God and the Bible are binding on all domains

First of all the Bible itself must be taught. If the Bible is what it says it is then knowledge of it is essential to life. The Bible undergirds the civilization we live in; it is the main spring of every facet of our culture….If the Bible is not central to education, to everyday life, [19th century atheist Max] Stirner’s logic [that consistent atheism requires one to disbelieve in the validity of any law] prevails.

The Bible, for us thus must be a part of the curriculum and we dare not teach it as [just] a devotional book or an inspiring book – it is an inspired book, it is not [just] inspiring.

What it tells us about our sin – it’s painful. What it tells us of the things we have left undone, we can think of better reading. When it gives us a catalog of sins that describe human nature, it can be very depressing reading. But it is God’s command word. It is his command word as us as individuals, as families, as churches, as schools. Also as workmen, as citizens.

The Bible is as binding upon the state as it is the church. God does not say the church is mine but the school and civil government and science and art and the vocations are secular, outside my province. Not so. All things are to be governed by the Lord, by his sovereign word. We must teach the Bible therefore as God’s command word.

Quote source

Rushdoony, R.J. (n.d.) The Bible in the Curriculum: A Separate Subject or Foundation for Each Subject http://file. Available http://www.pocketcollege.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Bible_in_the_Curriculum:_A_Separate_Subject_or_Foundation_for_Each_Subject_-_RR158A2. Last accessed 14th May 2017

Scientific consensus: a crutch for scientism

Time for a triad of quotes. To start, look out for the word consensus in this statement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009:

As the U.S. Senate considers climate change legislation, AAAS joined with leading scientific organizations to send a letter to all senators reaffirming the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that greenhouse gases from human activities are the primary driver.

Second is this highly biased letter to the editor from Tom Fehringer in 2013; while it makes reference to evidence, note too its reliance on consensus:

Evolution has overwhelming evidence to support it, whereas creationism has none…

In an article about people that reject scientific consensus, Steven Novella MD made the following observation, “It seems absurd, when you really look at it, to substitute your own opinion based upon reading a smattering of simplified popular writings for that of the consensus of scientific experts who live and breath[e] the science. Humility and reason dictate that the consensus view should be given appropriate respect…Just be extremely cautious before you believe your opinions trump those of hundreds or thousands of working scientists.”…

The short version of this is that, due to overwhelming evidence there is a scientific consensus in support of the theory of evolution; there isn’t any scientific evidence to support creationism; and the attempts to discredit science and evolution are invalid and misleading.

Now, remembering that word (consensus), read this analysis from Jay W. Richards in 2017:

So how do we distinguish, as Andrew Coyne puts it, “between genuine authority and mere received wisdom? And how do we tell crankish imperviousness to evidence from legitimate skepticism?” Do we have to trust whatever we’re told is based on a scientific consensus unless we can study the science ourselves? When can you doubt a consensus? When should you doubt it?

Your best bet is to look at the process that produced, defends and transmits the supposed consensus. I don’t know of any complete list of signs of suspicion. But here’s a checklist to decide when you can, even should, doubt a scientific “consensus,” whatever the subject

A consensus should be based on solid evidence. But a consensus is not itself the evidence. And with well-established scientific theories, you never hear about consensus. No one talks about the consensus that the planets orbit the sun, that the hydrogen molecule is lighter than the oxygen molecule, that salt is sodium chloride, that bacteria sometimes cause illness, or that blood carries oxygen to our organs. The very fact that we hear so much about a consensus on climate change may be enough to justify suspicion.

To adapt that old legal rule, when you’ve got solid scientific evidence on your side, you argue the evidence.

When you’ve got great arguments, you make the arguments.

When you don’t have solid evidence or great arguments, you claim consensus.

Quote sources

  1. Somers, B. (2009). AAAS Joins Leading Scientific Organizations in Letter to Senators Reaffirming Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Available https://www.aaas.org/news/aaas-joins-leading-scientific-organizations-letter-senators-reaffirming-scientific-consensus. Last accessed 1st May 2017
  2. Fehringer, T. (2013) Scientific Consensus in Support of the Theory of Evolution [letter to the editor]. South Platte Sentinel, July 10. Available http://www.southplattesentinel.com/2013/07/scientific-consensus-support-theory-evolution/. Last accessed 1st May 2017
  3. Richards, J.W. (2017). Heading into Today’s March, Here’s When to Doubt a Scientific “Consensus”. Evolution News and Science Today. Available https://www.evolutionnews.org/2017/04/heading-into-todays-march-heres-when-to-doubt-a-scientific-consensus/. Last accessed 1st May 2017

The coming erosion of irreligion in America

With the retirements of baby boomers and a decrease in the fertility rate, there will be more older Americans and fewer younger Americans in the future. Additionally, people tend to become more religious as they become older. Because of this, according to Frank Newport, editor in chief for Gallup, the increase in the average age of Americans will likely lead to an increase in the average religiosity of Americans…

Those who are more religious have a higher birth rate than those who are non-religious. Plus, the “retention rate” is lower for the non-religious than the religious. This means that someone who grew up in a secular household is more likely to reject their parents’ religious views and become religious than someone who grew up in a religious household will become secular. Over time, this “birth rate gap” means that Americans will, on average, become more religious over time…

Quote source

Nazworth, N. (2013). 3 Reasons America May Become More Religious. The Christian Post. Available http://www.christianpost.com/news/3-reasons-america-may-become-more-religious-102859/#krLPBYqvy0XprL4I.99. Last accessed 1st May 2017.

A reality check for campus protestors

For the sake of campus protestors and their professors across the country, it’s time to make something clear: there’s no such thing as hate speech.

That should go without saying, since freedom of speech and free inquiry is supposed to be what college is all about. But the recent spate of violent student protests, from the University of California at Berkeley to Middlebury College in Vermont, have been met with a collective shrug from an alarming number of college students, professors, and administrators who seem to be under the impression that violence is okay so long as its purpose is to silence “hate speech.”

By hate speech, they mean ideas and opinions that run afoul of progressive pieties. Do you believe abortion is the taking of human life? That’s hate speech. Think transgenderism is a form of mental illness? Hate speech. Concerned about illegal immigration? Believe in the right to bear arms? Support President Donald Trump? All hate speech.

But in fact, there is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment. The answer to the question, “Where does free speech stop and hate speech begin?” is this: nowhere.

For the purposes of the First Amendment, there is no difference between free speech and hate speech. Ideas and opinions that progressive students and professors find offensive or “hateful” are just as protected by the Bill of Rights as anti-Trump slogans chanted at a campus protest.

Quote source

Davidson, J.D. (2017). Sorry, College Kids, There’s No Such Thing As Hate Speech. The Federalist. Available http://thefederalist.com/2017/04/20/sorry-college-kids-theres-no-thing-hate-speech/. Last accessed 1st May 2017.

Brilliant legal decisions from European courts

The [European] Court [of Human Rights] seems to have begun to manifest a certain judicial reserve in morally sensitive issues. While the Court had become one of the favourite playgrounds of “ultra-liberal ideological” activism, especially with regard to bioethics and sexuality, it seems to be re-discovering that the moral and ethical values underlying societies are worthy of respect.

This was the case, for example, in Schalk and Kopf v. Germany. In that case, the Court ruled there was no right for same sex couples to marry. Additionally, in the significant judgment of A. B. and C. v. Ireland, the Grand Chamber expressly stated that there is no right to abortion under the [European] Convention [on Human Rights].

Further, in the case of Hass v. Switzerland the Court ruled there was no right to assisted suicide. The Court increasingly acknowledges the moral sensitivity of the issues and the State’s margin of appreciation in this regard. Similarly, in the case of Wasmuth v. Germany, which concerned the Church financing mechanism, the Court showed prudence against those who considered this case a new opportunity to reduce the influence of Christian churches.

This trend has been confirmed with the recent ruling S H and others v. Austria. In this case concerning the ban of techniques of artificial procreation with sperm or ova donations, the Grand Chamber has once again reversed a Section ruling, affirming that the reference to “natural procreation” and to the “natural family” (with only one mother and one father), as the model for the regulation of the techniques of artificial procreation, justifies the ban.

Quote source

Puppinck, G. (2011). The case of Lautsi v. Italy: a synthesis [Article presented at the Eighteenth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, “Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Age: Trends, Challenges, and Practices,” 2-4 October 2011]. Available https://www.strasbourgconsortium.org/content/blurb/files/ARTICLE_LAUTSI_PUPPINCK_English_BYU_Law_Review.pdf. Last accessed 1st May 2017