Archive for May, 2010

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Playing the Hate Card

Monday, May 31st, 2010

I’ve always had a fascination with magicians and illusionists.  When I was a kid, my father would order magic tricks from a mail-order novelty company and I was always anxious to impress the kid next door with my “prowess” as a magician.  Although I never pursued it as a serious career or hobby, I am still impressed when I have the opportunity to watch some skilled magician who does so professionally.  One thing that’s clear is that in order to become  a successful illusionist, one must master the ability to divert people’s attention away from the very thing that they were supposed to be watching.

Diverting people’s attention away from the important thing is something that is certainly not limited to the world of magicians and illusionists.  For example, in debate there is a fallacy  known as a “red herring” where someone introduces something that has little or nothing to do with the subject being discussed, in an attempt to divert the other person’s attention away from the main issue or topic.

Of all of the diversionary tactics that people use these days, there is one in particular that I wish to focus on at this time.  I call it “playing the hate card.”  By that, I’m referring to any situation where someone FALSELY accuses another person of being “hateful” or “spreading hate.”  No doubt, there are times when this accusation is made in a legitimate way.  But more often than not, people who falsely accuse others of hate are using it as a diversionary tactic to draw people’s attention away from the real issue at hand.  Worse yet, it is now being used by many as a bullying tactic intended to intimidate or to silence others from merely stating their view.  If you watch closely, you will notice that people often accuse others of hate for the simple fact that the other person happens to disagree with them.

Of course, there are a number of problems that arise when someone begins to illegitimately accuse others of hate or “hate speech.”  For one thing, they are often being inconsistent from a moral standpoint.  Those who play the “hate card” are oftentimes the very same people who claim to believe that when it comes to matters of right and wrong, each person should be allowed to “decide for himself.”  But clearly they don’t believe that each of us should be allowed to decide whether or not hate is wrong.  They believe that spreading hate is morally wrong for everyone- that it’s absolutely wrong.

Another thing that’s tricky about falsely accusing others of hate is that the knife cuts both ways.  In other words, if someone labels you as “hateful” just because you happen to disagree with their view, then by their own definition of “hate”, it makes them just as hateful since they obviously disagree with your view!  Furthermore, when someone falsely accuses you of hate, they are encouraging others to hate you for something that you’re not even guilty of.

When it comes to this recent redefining of the word “hate”, I think that the most dangerous thing of all is that it is now being used to silence or punish Christians for sharing the Gospel and for speaking out on social issues.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Swedish pastor Ake Green.  A few years ago, pastor Green was arrested and charged with violating one of Sweden’s “hate crimes” laws.  His crime?  During a Sunday morning message, within the privacy of his own church, he made mention of the fact that

God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sexual depravity.  What happened to pastor Green is not an isolated incident and it’s already beginning to happen here in America as well.

The bottom line is that “playing the hate card” is usually nothing more than name-calling, labeling, bullying, and intimidation.  It is often used by those who are unwilling to engage in open, honest discussion on important issues that impact our lives.  It is unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and contributes nothing towards any real social progress- especially when it comes from those who pride themselves on being known as “progressive.”

Posted in Christianity and Culture | 7 Comments »

Undermining the Basis for Science

Monday, May 17th, 2010

A few years ago, a close friend of mine invited me to join him in attending an afternoon lecture at ASU that was open to the general public. The speaker was a professor of zoology who also happened to be a staunch evolutionist.  His lecture that day was dealing with the topic of Intelligent Design.  For those who may not be familiar with the term, Intelligent Design (I.D.) is basically the scientific investigation of living systems that reveal striking examples of design, thus implying a designer behind it.  Proponents of I.D. do not make any claims as to who the designer is, only that evidence of an intelligent designer is clearly present.  As those attending the lecture were about to find out, not only was this professor absolutely closed-minded to the possibility of I.D., he was a cynical opponent to the very notion of a designer.

Throughout the entire lecture, in various ways, he continued to drive home the point that “no REAL scientist would ever allow for the possibility of a designer behind the design.”  His presentation included political cartoons that portrayed I.D. scientists as inept, ignorant, ‘pseudo-scientists’ not worthy of serious attention.  By the time he was finished, he had left the students with the impression that there are two distinct categories of people when it comes to the origins debate.   On one side, you have those who are bright, intelligent, educated people who are smart enough to know that evolution is a ‘fact’ and that there is nothing outside of the material world- especially God.  On the other hand, you have those who dare to question evolution, but they only do so because they are ignorant, uneducated, pitiful, superstitious types, most of whom are only pretending to be real scientists.  That was his overall message, but the scenario he had presented that day is a false dichotomy.

During the question and answer time, my friend and I pointed out to the professor that if we are expected to take his claims seriously, then what are we to make of someone such as the late Dr. A.E. Wilder-Smith, professor and lecturer, who held three doctorates and authored or co-authored over seventy scientific publications and thirty books that included such topics as the scientific problems with evolutionary theory and the scientific case in favor of a Creator.  Furthermore, what are we to make of the growing list of  scientists who have recently signed on to a document openly stating their dissent from Darwinism?

Had time allowed, there were many other things that we could have said that afternoon to point out that “the emperor has no clothes”, but the most telling thing of all occurred to me as we were leaving the building after his lecture.  As we stepped outside, I looked back and noticed that on the front of the very building that we had just exited, there were several names engraved across the top of the building for all to see.   The list included such notable names as Pasteur, Newton, and Kepler.  It is no accident that the architect intended for those names to appear on that building because those names represent some of the ‘Founding Fathers’ of science.  More importantly, those very same scientists all shared something in common- they all held the view that there IS a Creator behind the creation and that He has revealed Himself through that which He has made.  More than that, they also felt that through scientific investigation of His creation they would be able to understand  more about Him.

Maybe it’s a good thing that we didn’t get a chance to bring this to the attention of the professor.  Had we done so, he may very well have demanded that the university plaster over those names in an attempt to expunge their memory from science’s ‘Hall of Fame’.  But, try as he may, that professor will never be able to blot out the enormous contributions that they have made in laying the very foundation of modern science- the same science of which he has been a beneficiary as well.

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Posted in Science | 2 Comments »

Why NOT Discuss Politics and Religion?

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

It’s election time again which means that it’s time for voters to begin the process of weighing out the candidates as well as the issues that are up for discussion.  Once again, friends, family members, and co-workers will engage in discussions that tend to come up during a political year.  Unfortunately, conversations of that nature have a tendency to stir up people’s emotions and before long, what started out as a civil discussion often turns into a heated argument.  Eventually, some well-meaning person listening in will try to ‘put out the fire’ by saying, “You see?  That’s exactly why I say that you should never discuss politics and religion!”  But even though people often say such things, there is a very real sense in which everyone brings politics and religion into their normal, day-to-day conversations and they don’t even realize it.

Take religion, for example.  I often hear ‘unbelievers’ say, “Don’t bring religion into this!”  (By that, they usually mean “Don’t bring Christianity or Christian values into this!”)  But the fact of the matter is that even those who would consider themselves “non-religious” have a ‘religious’ view of their own.  The reason that they may not think so is because most people today think of religion as ‘a belief in God’, but such a simple definition is inadequate because there are some religions (such as Buddhism) that do not necessarily believe in God.  So, that brings us back to the question, “What is a religion?”  A religion is fundamentally a worldview, a perspective, a set of assumptions, a ‘lens’ if you will, through which a person looks at everything in life in order to try and explain how all of life fits together in a coherent and comprehensive way.  It is a ‘framework’ through which a person is trying to make sense of the world around them.  This is extremely important to understand because it tells us that everyone, whether they realize it or not, is operating on a set of beliefs (a worldview).  This means that everyone, including the atheist, is ‘religious’ in that sense.  Furthermore, it tells us that ALL views expressed are ‘religiously motivated’ because they are an expression of that person’s worldview.  In other words, any time an individual gives their perspective on a matter in almost any conversation they are, in fact, bringing their religion into the conversation just as much as anyone else!

Even political discussions are not entirely avoidable.  Why?  Because political issues are ultimately about moral principles.  They have to be.  If you don’t believe me, think for a moment about the kind of issues that we typically refer to as ‘political issues’.  Most political issues involve that which is right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust, fair or unfair- all of which are moral issues.  Even the questions of how and why people should be treated equally are moral questions.  In other words, by what objective moral standard did we determine that it is right (morally) to treat people equally and that it would be immoral to not treat people equally?

So, just as with religion, everyone has a moral point of view and they are asserting their moral point of view every time they use words such as ‘right’, ‘wrong’, ‘fair’, ‘unfair’, ‘just’, ‘unjust’, ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘should’, ‘shouldn’t’, ‘ought’, ‘ought not’, (etc.).   It’s unavoidable.  So, the next time you hear someone insist that people shouldn’t get into discussions about politics and religion, you may want to point out to them that they just did!

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Posted in Christianity and Culture | 6 Comments »

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  • In today's world, there is a great deal of confusion when it comes to matters of truth, meaning, morality, our origin, and our destiny. The purpose of Renewed Thoughts is to bring clarity to such issues by examining them in light of a Biblical worldview, using the tools of science, philosophy, and critical thinking.