Saturday, March 30, 2013

Intelligent Design and dogma



As I have encountered numerous books and articles attacking Intelligent Design, one thing that often stands out is that some scientists seem genuinely offended that their cherished scientific theories should be attacked.  They often respond with all the passion and even anger that so often accompanies the defense of dogma.

In an entirely different context, Paul N. Anderson discusses critical scholars in biblical studies who are offended when their critical theories are challenged. Anderson writes, “If critical scholars are threatened by critical theories being examined critically, one wonders if the theories or the scholars deserve the appellation, ‘critical’” (Anderson, Paul N. The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus. New York : T&T Clark, 3).

It occurs to me that merely be changing a few words, Anderson’s statement could just as easily (and accurately) be applied to the scientists who attack Intelligent Design: “If scientists are threatened by scientific theories being examined scientifically, one wonders if the theories or the scholars deserve the appellation, ‘scientific or scientist.”

Monday, March 18, 2013

A compromise on gay marriage



Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have now endorsed gay marriage. Even the chairman of the Republican Party recently announced the perceived need to reach out to the GLBT community. Many "cultural Christians" have also endorsed gay marriage. I think the time has come for Evangelicals to make a strategic compromise before we lose our freedom of religion in America.

Prominent Evangelical leaders, churches, and organizations need to announce that we will (reluctantly) drop our political opposition to gay marriage if, and only if, any law supporting gay marriage also comes with a clause providing for unqualified freedom of religion/conscience. 

What this proposal means is that any laws establishing gay marriage must come with a clause stating that  no religious organization and no religious individual shall be taxed, fined, or otherwise compelled in any way to support homosexual lifestyles against their conscience.

More specifically, neither individuals of faith nor private businesses owned by people of faith, nor religious schools, colleges, charities, missions, or any other religious organizations shall be taxed, fined, sued, or otherwise compelled to hire, enroll, or provide facilities or services for anyone actively engaging in a homosexual lifestyle.

It is important to note that this is not discrimination against gays as people, it is discrimination against behaviors. If religious organizations cannot discriminate on the basis of behaviors they believe to be sin (e.g. lying, stealing, cheating, drunkenness, pre-marital sex, adultery, etc.), there is no freedom of religion. Besides, virtually all organizations discriminate against behavior in one form or another.

This proposal would not only preserve freedom of religion and conscience, but it would still leave tens of millions of individuals, businesses, and organizations—including many religious organizations—that would eagerly provide services and facilities for gays. In fact, the number of facilities and services available to gays would dwarf the relatively few religious groups with restrictions on gay lifestyles.

For example, in San Diego, a Christian doctor could not, in good conscience, artificially inseminate a lesbian patient. Even though the phone book was filled with doctors who would do the job, and even though the lesbian found a doctor who would do the job, she sued the Christian who was just following his religious convictions.

In Georgia, a lesbian went to a licensed counselor seeking help on resolving a same-sex relationship problem. Although the phone book is filled with counselors who would love to have the lesbian’s business and although the Christian counselor referred the client to another psychologist who was more sympathetic to same-sex relationships, the lesbian sued the Christian counselor anyway.

In Virginia, a lesbian asked a Christian-owned film and video lab to reproduce her pro-homosexual movies. Even though there were numerous other companies that would have been eager to have her business, the lesbian sued the Christian.

In Massachusetts, the Catholic Charities of Boston specialized in adoptions for hard-to-place children. When Massachusetts passed laws requiring them to adopt to gay couples, they were forced to close their doors even though there were other adoption agencies that made their services available to gay couples.

In New Jersey a private Christian organization could not, in good conscience, rent their facilities for a same-sex civil union. Even though there were undoubtedly hundreds of places to hold a wedding, the lesbian couple filed a civil rights complaint against the Christian organization.

The list could go on. These intolerant and hateful attacks on religious conscience and freedom must end.

The problem with my proposal is that, generally speaking, gay rights advocate organizations are intolerant, hate-filled groups that do not want freedom for those who disagree with them but do want to destroy their religious opposition.

If my perception is wrong I challenge gay rights advocate groups to prove it by endorsing and promoting this proposal. I suspect, however, that we are more likely to see the new Pope become Baptist!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Missile defense against North Korea

Kudos to the Obama administration for its announcement that it will revive the Bush era missile defense plan in response to threats posed by North Korea. Of course it will now undoubtedly cost millions or billions of dollars more than it would have if Obama had not scrapped the program four years ago.

Just once I like to hear President Obama have enough honestly to say, "We were wrong. Bush was right all along."  It is probably more likely that the new Pope will become Baptist!