What’s Wrong with the World

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August 2018 Archives

August 4, 2018

The gift of cussedness

Several stories all came up around the same time in the "choice devours itself" department. Readers to whom this concept is new may need it explained. I coined the phrase "choice devours itself" over ten years ago while writing for a different blog. It doesn't describe merely in general the fact that the party of "consent" becomes increasingly coercive. Rather, it describes situations where the person who was supposed to benefit from having the option to "choose" something the left considers good (generally in the categories of sex, abortion, or euthanasia) is actually coerced into this alleged "choice."

So forced or high-pressure abortions to which the left turns a blind eye are cases of choice devouring itself. Perhaps the most common type of example comes from coercing or pressuring people into "consenting" to euthanasia, or euthanizing people who by definition cannot give mature and informed consent (those with dementia, children, etc.). In the most extreme cases, the victim is physically coerced, as in one of the stories in this post.

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August 5, 2018

Pope Outlaws the Death Penalty ... Or Does He?

Unless you live under a rock or do not read religious news at all, you have probably heard the news, to the effect (depending on the precision of the news source) that Pope Francis has done away with the death penalty (DP). He has issued a new version of paragraph 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) which says that the DP is “inadmissible”.

But to be more careful, or at least more precise, it is not clear that what happened is that Francis has “done away” with the DP in calling it “inadmissible”. In order to get a fair estimate of what actually happened, let’s read the actual new text that replaces the old:

2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good. Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption. Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,[1] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide. [my emphasis] [1] FRANCIS, Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, 11 October 2017: L’Osservatore Romano, 13 October 2017, 5.

There are two major opinions about the meaning of the money quote in bold, and especially, about the import of “inadmissible” here. They are as follows: (1) “inadmissible” has the effect of saying that the DP is intrinsically evil, a per se immoral and disordered act, because that’s what happens if an act is, by its very nature an unjust attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person. (I insert “unjust” here, because if it was a JUST attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person, then it would not be inadmissible). If the character of “being an unjust attack” did not belong to the very nature of the DP, then the Pope could not have called it “inadmissible” simply, but could only have called it “inadmissible under certain conditions”.

This is the more coherent reading of the text, and of the intent of the Pope in setting it forth this way, (to the extent his intent is concrete enough to have ANY characterization at all).

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August 7, 2018

The myth of the sock puppet Jesus

There is a myth about the Gospel of John that keeps popping up. If you are interested in biblical studies and read this kind of thing much, even at a somewhat popular level, I'll wager you've heard this myth. It goes something like this: The voice of Jesus in John is so much like the voice of the narrator that it is often difficult to tell which one is supposed to be speaking.

This creates a picture of a narrator in John who is, at a minimum, careless about distinguishing his own words from those of Jesus himself. In such a Gospel of John, we are meant to think, the author frequently wanders heedlessly back and forth between his own thoughts and the thoughts of Jesus, not considering it important to distinguish what things were actually said by Jesus from his own glosses.

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August 19, 2018

Time for civil disobedience in California

Under the assumption that the governor is going to sign this bill, California is passing Assembly Bill 2943, which bans "sexual orientation change efforts" as fraudulent business practices, under an extremely broad definition thereof. I wrote about this earlier, with my own predictions about what will happen. Now the bill has passed the CA Senate.

The courageous Michael Brown has called for civil disobedience in California to this law.

By the way, if you ever "follow" anybody on Facebook, consider following Robert Gagnon, who writes about these issues. He's a nicer guy than I am, but he also tells it like it is. Facebook keeps banning him for a day here, twelve hours there, etc., for extremely measured posts in which he criticizes the homosexual agenda, the ideas of Christian groups pushing for compromise with the homosexual agenda, etc.

Oh, and while you're at it, consider following me on Facebook as well.

August 20, 2018

The Myth of the Monologuing Jesus

Last Saturday, August 11, I did another webinar on Apologetics Academy covering much of the material that readers will have already seen in this series on John. Here on Youtube is the recording of that webinar, called "Only One Jesus."

I have also created a portal page including links to all of my (and Tim's) webinars on Apologetics Academy, so if you're looking for a particular one or just want to see what else I've done in that venue, have a look.

The webinar got slightly ahead of the detailed blog series in the interests of covering a wide variety of topics. One topic I covered there that I have only touched upon yet here is what I call the Myth of the Monologuing Jesus. This is the idea that in John, Jesus talks for much longer at a time than he does in the Synoptics; this is then taken to be a sign of (you guessed it) the relatively looser historicity of John. The so-called "long Johannine discourses" are treated as ipso facto evidence of John's greater willingness to put words in the mouth of Jesus.

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August 22, 2018

Minimal Facts and intermediate premises

Recently at his blog, eminent NT scholar Craig Keener published a post stating that Christians should not "attack" the minimal facts argument for the resurrection. Given that I have written quite a bit on this subject and had a webinar on this subject not long ago (see here, here, and here), it might quite understandably be thought that his post was directed to my views, though he does not say to whom he is responding.

Via personal communication I have now verified that Dr. Keener has not read or listened to my material on the topic of the minimal facts approach and was not intending to respond to my criticisms of the method. He has stated that he had heard that "some" are attacking minimal facts and, although he did not say who these are nor quote anything that they have said, conjectured that perhaps they may be distorting my views. Well, I obviously cannot speak to that, since I don't know who these "some" are or what, precisely, they have said about minimal facts.

However, I want to say for the record here that there is nothing in his post that either represents or responds to my own objections to the minimal facts approach. Therefore, I of course cannot regard myself as bound to agree with the conclusion he states that "Christians should not be attacking minimal facts" if "attack" means "seriously criticize."

Dr. Keener's one-sentence summary of the view to which he is responding is this: "Some Christians do not like the sound of 'minimal facts,' supposing that it means we believe as few facts as possible."

This is by no means a summary of my own objections--not surprisingly, since Dr. Keener does not know what my objections are, not having examined any of my material on the subject.

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August 29, 2018

More on ur-source theories vs. undesigned coincidences

Several years ago, after receiving a question by e-mail, I wrote this post about attempted "ur-source" hypotheses as an alternative explanation of undesigned coincidences. If you're interested in this question, I strongly urge you to read that post (if you haven't already). This post is meant to be a supplement to it, not a replacement.

In the last few days I've been writing quite a bit more about this type of objection to undesigned coincidences because I received some questions about it again. I wrote up so much material in response that I've decided to post some of it here for others who might find it useful.

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