Monthly Archives: October 2011

Richard Dawkins Exposed

So Richard Dawkins has spoken, explaining his refusal to debate Christian philosopher William Lane Craig.

Forgive me if I’m not impressed with his explanation. Given that the debate is supposed to take place tomorrow, and that the event organizers will have an empty chair at the event (in his absence, Craig will deliver a critique of his God Delusion book), seems like an appropriate way to warm up to it.  It’s not like I’ll be able to add anything to the already lengthy conversation–minds much smarter than mine have already said it all–but I can’t resist, so here goes.  I’ll just proceed in point-counter-point style.

Dawkins begins with a bang:

Don’t feel embarrassed if you’ve never heard of William Lane Craig. He parades himself as a philosopher, but none of the professors of philosophy whom I consulted had heard his name either. Perhaps he is a “theologian”. For some years now, Craig has been increasingly importunate in his efforts to cajole, harass or defame me into a debate with him. I have consistently refused, in the spirit, if not the letter, of a famous retort by the then president of the Royal Society: “That would look great on your CV, not so good on mine”.

This is quite a rhetorical backhand. Dawkins has his nose turned way, way up at Craig in this comment. It is typical of him. A close examination of the facts shows it to be flatly false, however.

All fine and good. I simply see no reason to buy that, though. I need an argument, a good one, not just a series of rhetorical jabs and loaded words—which is what he usually offers for this view.

First, before I get to the facts, though, let me address the “theologian” comment. In normal parlance, calling someone a theologian is not an insult, for theology is a body of knowledge and is a discipline of study every bit as legitimate as other academic disciplines. However, when guys like Dawkins says it, it is an insult. To him and his ilk, theology is utterly silly and is such junk that it cannot even come close to being a discipline of study.  In addition, if asking some philosophy professors if they’ve ever heard of WLC before is all he did to investigate who Craig is, he is being seriously negligent in his homework.

On to the main claim: is Craig a small-fry? A look at his credentials weighs in decisively against this. He would have a point if Craig were actually, say, The Pugnacious Irishman. He does not have an obligation to accept any and every challenge that comes his way. If I were to challenge him to a dual to be held at the Kiwanis Club of Cole County, Mo, a refusal would be reasonable. I really am a small-fry.

But in Craig’s case, it is not as if he just runs a puny blog or has just published a few creationist tracts and pamphlets by Tilamook County First Baptist Press. He has not only debated the best contemporary atheism has to offer over the last few decades, but he has published frequently in scholarly publications in a wide variety of topics. He has not only established himself in philosophy, but has shown himself conversant in science, cosmology, and history as well. In other words, he’s the real deal.

Consider just a small sampling of his publications:

  • “On Truth Conditions of Tensed Sentence Types.” Synthese 120 (2000): 265-270.
  • “The Extent of the Present.” International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14 (2000): 165-185.
  • “Why Is It Now?” Ratio 18 (2000): 115-122.
  • “Timelessness, Creation, and God’s Real Relation to the World.” Laval théologique et philosphique 56 (2000): 93-112.
  • “Timelessness and Omnitemporality.” Philosophia Christi 2 (2000): 29-33.
  • “Omniscience, Tensed Facts, and Divine Eternity.” Faith and Philosophy 17 (2000): 225-241.
  • “ Relativity and the ‘Elimination’ of Absolute Time.” In Recent Advances in Relativity Theory. 2 Vols. Vol.1: Formal Interpretations, pp. 47-66. Ed. M. C. Duffy and Mogens Wegener. Palm Harbor, Flor.: Hadronic Press, 2000.
  • “Theistic Critiques of Atheism.” In The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, pp. 69-85. Ed. M. Martin. Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • “The Metaphysics of Special Relativity: Three Views.” In Einstein, Relativity, and Absolute Simultaneity, pp. 11-49. Ed. Wm. L. Craig and Quentin Smith. Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2007.
  • “Creation and Divine Action.” In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, pp. 318-28. Ed. Chad Meister and Paul Copan. London: Routledge, 2007.
  • “Naturalism and Intelligent Design.” In Intelligent Design, pp. 58-71. Ed. R. Stewart. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007.
  • “The Indispensability of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality.” In Ethics, Society, and Religion . Ed. K. Clark, Z. Qingxiong, and X. Yie. Christian Academics 5. Shanghai: Guji Press, 2007.

This is all just a partial list from two years of a publications list that spans over 35 years.  It is all a matter of fact. It is all right there in his credentials.

In sum, Dawkins and co. saying it doesn’t make it so…adding sarcasm and such doesn’t help.

Heck, it’s not like I’m worshipping Craig; a debate with any top Christian scholar will do. Alvin Plantinga; J.P Moreland; Stephen Meyer; Darrell Bock; Paul Copan; Paul Moser. The list goes on and on. All these guys and more are widely recognized scholarly authorities in fields in which Dawkins has often commented, and I’m willing to be they’d be willing to have an exchange or two with him.

Dawkins’ fans have been quick to insist that “rigorous Christian scholar” is an oxymoron. That is a load of Tosh. Such a claim only shows that those who say it have shut themselves in a skeptic ghetto and have not substantively engaged with their opposition. Disagree with them if you must, but calling them “country bumpkins” does not inspire confidence on your behalf.

All this makes Dawkins’ words quite strange, for he has gone after much lesser opponents.

In an epitome of bullying presumption, Craig now proposes to place an empty chair on a stage in Oxford next week to symbolise my absence. The idea of cashing in on another’s name by conniving to share a stage with him is hardly new. But what are we to make of this attempt to turn my non-appearance into a self-promotion stunt? In the interests of transparency, I should point out that it isn’t only Oxford that won’t see me on the night Craig proposes to debate me in absentia: you can also see me not appear in Cambridge, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and, if time allows, Bristol.

Normally I would think such an action to be presumptuous, but in this case, given the circumstances, I think it entirely called for. Recall that Dawkins has been eager to engage much lesser opponents. In addition, keep in mind that Dawkins has not merely rested content with academic study, experimenting in his lab and publishing the results in academia. He has gone public, often, brashly so, practically shouting from the rooftops that God “almost certainly” does not exist, and if He did, at least the biblical God would be guilty of crimes against humanity. He has made a career of doing so.

I have no problem with Dawkins proclaiming so. He–and his skeptic friends–have every right to do so and every right to insist that guys like me are actually, objectively wrong. However, the confidence (dare I say cockiness?) with which he does so should be in direct proportion to his willingness to engage the best the opposition has to offer. This is the main reason why I’m making such a big deal of this refusal. A guy who says the sorts of things he says and is as influential as he is deserves a bit of a ribbing if he refuses to do this. Though he has willingly shared a platform with religious folk, he cannot seriously lay claim to the supposition that he has done so with the best. Like I said above, he has plenty to choose from, though Craig is a game choice right in front of him.

I therefore find his list of other places he won’t be quite off, for there is a big difference between the event in Oxford and those other places. At Oxford tomorrow, he has a chance to put all the talk and questions to rest. He has a chance to put his best against the best of his critics, and to do so in front of an international audience. I doubt those other invitations—if they actually represent real invitations—offer that sort of shot.

It’s as if I, as a high school wrestling coach, make a consistent practice of trash talking our cross-town rivals, and when the opposing coach offers me the chance to put my money where my mouth is by dualing his team on a certain day, I reply with, “Bah. Self-promotion! I decline, just like I decline to wrestle Bathgate Elementary school, Newhart Middle School, and Arborland Montessori.”

But Craig is not just a figure of fun. He has a dark side, and that is putting it kindly. Most churchmen these days wisely disown the horrific genocides ordered by the God of the Old Testament.

What follows this is a lengthy tirade against Craig’s defense of God’s actions regarding the Canaanites, concluding with, “Would you shake hands with a man who could write stuff like that? Would you share a platform with him? I wouldn’t, and I won’t. Even if I were not engaged to be in London on the day in question, I would be proud to leave that chair in Oxford eloquently empty.”

A few observations here. First, when he says “most churchmen” disavow the part of the Bible in question, he exaggerates. There are plenty of “churchmen” and plenty of “scholars” who do no such disavowing. But that’s neither here nor there. The main point is that Dawkins’ response is simply an argument by outrage, which is not very rigorous, and the only ones who find it persuasive are ones who already agree with Dawkins, or those who are easily cowed by people who act offended.

What’s more, if Craig really is an “apologist for genocide,” here’s Dawkins’ chance to put him out to pasture. If he were to debate Craig, that does not amount to an endorsement of Craig’s beliefs, afterall. If Craig really is a fiend, he’s an influential one, and Dawkins has stated many a time that it is his life’s goal to wipe this sort of belief from the earth. This is as good a chance as it gets.  Dawkins would be defending the thesis of one of his best selling books.  Seems like a great opportunity for him.  Why so gun shy?

Thirdly, Dawkins can’t be serious. Afterall, elsewhere he has said:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

(“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85)

(HT: Wintery Knight)

Out of one side of his mouth, he denies the reality of evil and wickedness, but out of the other side of his mouth, he calls Craig’s beliefs wicked. He cannot have it both ways. He is either flatly contradicting his own worldview, borrowing capital when it is convenient, or he is merely expressing a personal dislike with Craig’s beliefs, as if saying “ewwww, broccoli.” In any case, he is not inspiring confidence.

What else can be said about all this? Dawkins and co. are quick to insinuate that Craig seems impressive simply because of his command of rhetoric. Craig “bamboozles his faith-head audience,” is how he puts it.

This is just beyond silly. If you ever watch him debate, you’ll see that Craig’s “debate style” is to stick to logical arguments, with premises backed up by historical and scientific evidence, and said premises lead deductively or inductively to a conclusion. He presses his opponents to either refute or rebut with premises more plausible than the ones he offered. He stays focused on the issue and does not rest content with rhetorical jabs and evasions from his opponents. Again, disagree with the arguments if you must, but don’t call this “bamboozling.”

Many who are outside the faithful (of Dawkins’ camp) are recognizing this for what it is. Richard Dawkins is being exposed.

You Hope They Serve Beer in Hell?

I asked the students to raise up their free reading books.  I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell the title said.  By some guy named Tucker Max.  Hmmm, interesting, I thought.  Curious metaphor.  If the author does believe in hell, I said, he is tragically misinformed about it.  He probably doesn’t.

Over the past few years I’ve encountered the book frequently because many of my students were reading the book for free reading time.   Every student has told me that it’s a good read, so I left it at that, content, ignorantly so, in the knowledge that they were at least enjoying reading.  I had no clue what was actually in the book, nor did I know who Tucker Max is.

After recently reading The New Dating Game, an article by Charlotte Allen about the hookup culture, and doing a little snooping around,  I am no longer confident in my ignorance.

Turns out, the book is basically about Tucker Max and his, umm, “adventures,” mostly involving the opposite sex and certain bedtime activities.

So given the content of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, I was right: Tucker Max doesn’t believe in hell…well, he is still misinformed about hell, though in a different way.  But I digress.

I’ve seen the book around enough that I decided to address it in class.  Time to pick that fight.  Yes, risky. But I’m like that.  Still, I approached this cautiously, by asking some questions after I saw a student reading the book in class:

  • What ideas are advocated in the book, about the good life, happiness, “liberation,” etc?  For those that had trouble with this, I simplified it: fill in the blank–according to Tucker Max, the good life/happiness means _____________.  According to Tucker Max, “liberation/freedom” for a woman means _______________.
  • Are these ideas true and worthy of embracing?
  • For those that saw no point in the discussion:  why is thinking about a book in this way important?  If you don’t pause to think about what you imbibe for entertainment purposes, who is really controlling the puppet strings?
  • Who, really, does this hurt?

“Why go there?” you ask.  Simple: first, its not like I came looking for any of this.  Students brought the book into my class, and lit brought into my class needs to be addressed.  I could just censor the book with no explanation, but the “nothing to see here” line without explanation probably wouldn’t help.

Secondly, the hookup culture is alarmingly common currently.  Peruse the nightlife in any college town or any urban area for that matter, and you’ll find scores of twenty, thirty, and even forty somethings of both genders prowling for a hookup.  There’s even a new genre of literature that frequently pops up on best seller lists: Pick-up-Artist lit.  The male equivalent of chick lit, it actually has a practical application: its goal is to coach men on how to get any chick into bed.  There was even a reality show on VH1 that ran for a few years based off this lit, called, somewhat obviously, “The Pickup Artist.”

It gets better.  I recently read of an incident at Yale where a frat surrounded a sorrority and shouted, “no means yes! Yes means anal!”

I simply ask, “Should our culture be concerned about this?”  Yes, of course.

“But reading a trashy book by Tucker Max and laughing at his adventures is one thing, but boys shouting their mysogyny at the top of their lungs is another.  The two have nothing to do with each other.” you say.

False.  The two are intimately connected by a culture at large that winks at and even encourages the type of behavior in both scenarios.  For one, winking at the Tucker Maxes of the world as having “innocent fun” makes possible the sinister chant of the Yale frat boy.  For another, recall the quote: “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”  How do you sow your thoughts?  Easy: what you imbibe for entertainment.

Thirdly, why should we be shocked at the Yale boys?  It is exactly the destiny that we as a culture have wrought. With a thousand “small” things like the Tucker Max book, we pave the way.  “We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst…We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”  We are a hyper-sexualized culture, and this comes through in countless ways.

Events like the “Yale boys incident” are the culmination of a culture that adopts an attitude about sex that says its merely a bodily function to be enjoyed, no commitment necessary.  Its the culmination of a culture that adopts a “boys will be boys” attitude regarding hookups and taking advantage of inebriated girls, who are often all too willing themselves.  It is the culmination of a culture that teaches its girls that true “sexual liberation” means giving into one’s worst instincts, and “equality” means the “freedom” to act like a manboy at his absolute lowest.  It is the culmination of a culture that insists right and wrong are merely relative personal choices, and one man’s personal choice to do what he thinks is cool is just as good as the next person’s choice.  It’s the culmination of a culture that thinks the young cannot resist their urges, so we might as well teach them how to be “responsible” with those urges (once the first lesson is taught, the second is a forgotten afterthought, however. Anyone ever try on the novel thought that we should actually expect the young to keep it in their pants until marriage?), and its the culmination of a culture that says that there is no objective purpose to life and there is no greater cause than the self.

Is it any wonder that adolescents flock to sex to escape their boredom?  This is simply the modernist-sexual-revolution rooster coming home to roost.  Forgive the pun.

Some might dismiss this, saying that every generation is wild, and this is merely the old generation putting down the new.  They are only partly right. Every young generation has its daliances, but one big difference here is the degree…this seems to be “youth gone wild” on steroids.

Spending your teens sneaking out at night going steady with your heart throb, or going out on the town swing dancing and having a few drinks underage is one thing….spending not only your teens, but your twenties and thirties having a split personality where you are a professional during the day, but a raging drunk at night who opens her legs for the hottest looking anonymous alpha male or a male who prowls around looking for one of these gals is a horse of a dif’rent color.  Sure, I guess there were some like this back then–we’ve all heard the Fitzgerald-like stories–but the numbers now are of much greater proportion.

You might also balk at me including women in my assessment of blame, but there’s plenty of blame to go around, and some honest soul searching is in order for both genders.

For society at large, for winking at the Tucker Maxes of the world and believing that this is merely a temporary stage with few long-term hangovers.

For the men (dare I call them men?) who have foolishly equated manhood with being a pick up artist.  For the dads who’ve left their sons vulnerable to such a lie because they have either been absent or have passively let the culture teach the boys what manhood is.  For the male friends that laugh at their buddy’s stories of adventures, as if treating a woman like she’s a condom to be discarded when done with is even remotely ok (“what if that was your daughter?” is a question I always feel like asking, and often do.)

For the women who’ve bought into the rather warped view of liberation of Radical Feminism that I mentioned above…yep, for some academics, today’s “liberated woman” is what they’ve been shooting for.  This is simply what you get when you try to remove the stigma of being promiscuous.  If you doubt that’s the message of many on the college campus, just check out Yale’s “Sex Week.”  There’s many a college sponsoring similar activities.  Read something by Naomi Wolf.  She’s got lots of little gems for you.

While there may be a student group or two in the mix advocating for chastity, the overwhelming message is clear, and the aforementioned student group is usually seen as kind of an oddity.  Definitely not a group worthy of praise.

An aside: it’s ironic, you know.  You’d think that they’d advocate for equality by telling men to knock it off, instead of telling women to “go ahead.”  Perhaps that’s just me.

There are plenty of “health centers” on college campuses designed to help students avoid things like STD’s when it comes to their sexual choices, whatever those choices are.  But where are the centers on campuses designed to help the many who want to live chastely, but who feel pressured by a hypersexualized culture to give in?

Back on topic, here. To a society that insists this is a harmless temporary stage: what, I’m supposed to believe that you can spend your 20’s and part of your 30’s sleeping around, then suddenly flip a switch when you’re 35 and become an honorable husband/wife and father/mother?  Such a thought is the height of stupidity.

Purposely delaying marriage to later in life is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.  I can understand when people say that most in their 20’s simply aren’t mature enough, but the common solution to that–“have fun now.  Marriage is a drag.  You can get married later” strikes me as an odd way to bring someone to greater maturity.  Protracted adolescence protracts the problem.

“Consent” is as far as this society is willing to go when it comes to moral instruction.  That is a tragically low bar.

To a culture that has nothing to offer the young in terms of objective meaning, purpose, and a solid metaphysical ground in which to put down roots: this is really the bottom line.  When the self is number one, the empty self is what results.

To the pickup artists: you’re a tool.  When you die, your only legacy will be a list of women you’ve slept with, and a list of boys who you have taught to do the same.  Perhaps a VH1 show.  That’s it.  What an utter worthless and banal life.

Even if the fun lasts past the morning, you have gained an orgasm, but lost the source of your strength.  You have traded a life well lived for a subjective feeling that’s here today, gone tomorrow.  You have no ability to self restrain, and you are sowing habits that erode your ability to sacrifice for a greater good.  Plus, when your own daughter or sister falls for one of these predators, just remember: you had it coming.  You reap what you sow.

To the passive, feminized dads and the absent fathers (whether in body and/or mind/emotion): you matterYou can put a stop to this.  Don’t leave it up to your wife.  She is willing and able, but shouldn’t have to do it without you.  You must bear the majority of the burden and duty to lead your son into manhood and give your daughter the male attention she craves.  If you don’t know what a man is, learn.  It is never too late to grab an older male mentor who has character you respect, sit at his feet and learn.  Engage your family.  Sit them down at the dinner table every night, eat a meal with them, and talk to them.  Monday Night Football can wait.  If you remain passive, they won’t get it from mom…they will get it from Lil’ Wayne, guys like Tucker Max, or the first predatory alpha male to take them under their wings.  The ball is in your hands; you must run to the goal line.

To the ladies: I guess saying “falling for” isn’t the right word, as if it was akin to “tripping,” because many of the women who engage in the hookup scene actively throw themselves at these guys.  Check out the following summary of a girl who recently slept with Tucker Max (she posted the story online):

Next to her story she posted a photograph of her with Max that she had a friend take at the bar. The photo shows a rosy-cheeked strawberry blonde who, although no Scarlett Johansson, is no Ugly Betty either (her C-cup bustline, much in evidence both underneath and spilling over her strapless top, doesn’t hurt). She is also grinning from ear to ear, her smile as wide as a cantaloupe slice. Max, mugging for the camera, has his arm draped proprietarily, if not exactly affectionately, around her shoulder as she leans into his chest. No disapproving peers, either. When Courtney left her apartment to meet Max at the bar, her roommates called after her, “Make sure to bring him back.” She and Max rode off to the inn “with everyone at the bar waving and giving the thumbs up.”

Remember: you teach people how to treat you, and you teach the culture how to treat your future daughters.  Admittedly, most who get caught up in the hookup culture don’t actively start out that way, but they do end up there by a thousand small steps.  Sow a thought, reap a habit…by now you know the rest.  My daughter and your future daughter will have to live in the world you help to create.  Therefore mind your thoughts and actions.

And lest I leave anyone out, to me: I remember some years ago being so desperate that I actually flirted with buying the e-book of one of these pick up artist fools. How stupid!  Those guys’ confidence was paper-thin.  Why did I even think of going for that?

And: this is a sober warning to me to love my own daughter by spending time with her.  That is how kids spell “love.”  T-I-M-E.  That is, afterall, how I reacted to the “New Dating Game” article above: I put the article down, and played with my daughter.  It all reminded me of the Chris Rock line: “fellas, if your daughter grows up to be a stripper….you failed.”

Taking Religion Seriously

Do you ever get the sense that talking religion is something that’s not done in polite company?  It is easy to talk about religion at a distance, perhaps as a sociologist would, but talking about religious convictions–especially one’s own–is kinda a faux paux.  We don’t take religion seriously around here, so it is uncouth to bring it to the public square as if it was a serious matter.  Keep it where all hobbies belong–in your own closet.

At least that’s the feeling I get. It often turns out differently when I actually do have conversations about religion–most people I’ve talked with are quite willing and don’t find it offensive–its just a subjective sense I get and, judging by how other people, especially Christians, talk, I sense I’m not alone in feeling this…sense.

Sorry for all the vague speak so far.  All I’m suggesting is that many people feel somewhat uneasy when it comes to discussing religious claims on one’s life.  Why?

Well, there’s that whole “claims on one’s life” bit.  People don’t want to have their autonomy breached, and they recognize that the claims of many a religion do just that.

That’s true enough, and deserves to be confronted, but the reason I want to challenge today is that most believe there’s really nothing to say about religious convictions besides, “well, good for you.”  That is, we’ve gotten the notion in this culture that once someone has finished talking about their convictions, they can’t be evaluated.  All we have to do is nod, mumble something about it not being “my cup of tea,” and move on.  That’s all that can be said about a subjective choice from the smorgasboard, and that’s how we see religion–as an endless buffet of equally good, subjective, choices.

I want to challenge that.

Consider this: religions make claims that can be verified or falsified.

Are all religious convictions like that?  No.  Do all adherents of religion think of their beliefs like that?  Again, no.  Talk to many who sit in the pews on Sunday, and they’ll describe Christianity as the smorgasboard above, or at least they’ll describe it as something that cannot be evaluated by logic and reason.  More of a feeling than anything else.

Notice how many times people categorically assert, without hesitation, without thinking about it, that it is all about “faith,” and you can’t “prove” it?  Ask them what they mean by “faith” and “proof,” and they really struggle to put something sensible together….well, there you go.

However, the core claims of many religions can be evaluated by logic and reason, and science also has something to say about them.  This is why they should be taken seriously.

Take, for instance, the lynchpin of Christianity: the resurrection.  The Bible claims that at a time in our actual history in this world, a real man named Jesus a) claimed to be God, b) predicted His death, c) predicted that He would defeat death by rising from the grave three days after his execution, and d) He actually, truly pulled it off.

That is, the Bible claims that the empty tomb is a figment of history, not imagination.

This puts it in the realm of verifiability.  Not in the same sense as a claim from a biologist can be verified, granted, but verified nonetheless in that evidence and reason has something to say in evaluation.  It is possible to offer reasons for its truth, and vice versa.  This means that it, along with any other claims logically connected to it, are real players in the game that deserve to be taken seriously in the public square.

Other claims from other religions and worldviews are no different.  Mormonism and most forms of Hinduism, for example, are committed to an eternally existing universe (in the sense that matter is eternal for Mormons), and thus you betcha–science has plenty to say about that.

Islam is committed to the notion that Jesus of Nazareth did not die on the cross, and history has plenty to say to that.

I could go on. The point: much can be offered in terms of evaluating religions for truth and falsehood, since they make claims about reality.  Arguments from philosophy can be offered pro and con, complete with premises defended from various other fields of knowledge–like science and history–that deductively lead to rational conclusions.  We don’t have to stop at “well, I’m glad you are happy (pat on the head).”  In fact, we shouldn’t even go there.  Treating religion like that is a radical category mistake.  Since religions make claims on reality, they should be treated like anything else in the public square.

They are not second-class belief systems.  They get a spot at the table.

The Effects of Cohabitation on Children

Brad Wilcox of Univ. of Virginia was recently interviewed in the Wa Po about the effects of cohabitation on children.  Interesting interview.  The title says it all: “Why Cohabitation is Worse than Divorce for Kids.” Like I tell my students all the time who ask about my life as a father, I recommend it…but get married first.  That helps.

I’ve found from rubbing shoulders with people out in the world that very few people actually think through decisions like this.  Raw desire and convenience are often the forces driving the decisional bus (“convenience” defined in a very narrow sense…really, given the stats, cohabitation isn’t at all convenient in any robust way).  The ‘ol analogy between choosing a mate and test driving a car is often all that’s needed to justify cohabitation, despite that fact that if the significant other paused to think about it, s/he wouldn’t really appreciate being compared to an Audi or Honda.

I know this subject is politically incorrect, and it will hurt the feelings of some because it suggests their lifestyle choices are wrong and/or unwise.  Oh well.  Truth is truth, and, however untasteful, we do people a disservice if we shield them from it in the name of protecting emotions.  And even on the emotional plane, such a shielding just might be counterproductive in the long run.

To somewhat ironically paraphrase feminist Naomi Wolf on a slightly different topic, to insist that the truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy.

HT: Wintery Knight