After a mass shooting, you’d think that any genuine sympathy for those affected would be appreciated, or at least not greeted with contempt. But the reactions online to those offering prayers are becoming increasingly hostile. If this was simply a case of different people having conflicting worldviews, that would be understandable and expected. Unfortunately, this is a case of a growing number of people misunderstanding and misrepresenting the view that they disagree with. Here are two examples of tweets that were posted after the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5th.
“Your thoughts and prayers are useless. They were useless the last time and the time before and the time before and the time before that.”
“The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive.”
Many people think that Christians are wasting their time by praying, and that the fact that these shootings continue to happen is proof that prayer is pointless. Is this a valid argument? Are the objectors pointing out a real flaw in the Christian worldview, or is it just that they don’t understand it? Here are five questions that I think will help clarify the issue.
1. Why do some people object to Christians praying after a mass shooting?
The main objection is that prayer doesn’t produce the results that they think it should. As one tweet said, “If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive.” They think that effective prayer should result in an end to the violence, or at least the protection of the person praying to keep them safe from the danger they’re in. But Christians die violent deaths all the time, and many of those deaths happened in spite of the Christian praying to be delivered from physical harm. Therefore, they think, prayer is useless. Continue reading
This mini blog post is a copy of my reply to a YouTube video that included a short review of the book Eat, Pray, Love. In the video, the reviewer said:
“I like the fact that God is not referred to as a specific thing. The author is being very inclusive of people who have varied beliefs. When I ‘pray,’ I basically like to ask the universe for things and put out positive energy.”
This was my response:
“I think that the question of God’s existence is a question about a fact, not a preference. So either God does exist or He doesn’t, regardless of how many people believe in Him. And if God does exist, then either one religion has the right idea about Him, or none of them do, since they contradict each other about His attributes and actions.
I think the best we can do is look at the world’s religions and see which one, if any, has the best basis in history, science, and reason. We should absolutely be kind and tolerant to everyone regardless of their religious views. But I don’t think we need to say that thinking of God as a general concept is ideal.
God is either not real, or He is an actual spiritual being with actual characteristics. If He is not real, then the ideal would be to not believe in Him, since the truth is always preferable to a lie. If He is real, then the ideal would be to know as much about Him as possible, especially if there are eternal consequences.”
In many exchanges between those with liberal values and those with conservative values, and especially in discussions about LGBT issues, the words “bigotry” and “intolerance” are used a lot. Mostly it’s the liberals accusing the conservatives, but sometimes conservatives claim that the liberals are actually the bigoted ones. I’d like to sort through the mess of name calling and try to figure out what actually falls under the definition of bigotry. I’ll start by examining the Dictionary.com definitions of the relevant terms.
Bigotry: stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.
Intolerance: unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect opinions or beliefs contrary to one’s own.
Tolerate: to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit.
Putting those definitions together, bigotry would be, “Unwillingness to allow without hindrance any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.”
Bigotry is when you think that people who disagree with you shouldn’t be able to express the view that you disagree with.
Disagreement is not itself bigotry. If it was, everyone would be a bigot because everyone has something that they disagree with other people about. How you express your disagreement is what determines whether or not you’re being bigoted. If you engage someone in conversation about why you think your views are correct, that’s not bigotry. If you tell someone that you think their views are wrong, that’s not bigotry. If you tell someone that they shouldn’t be able to express their views, or that they shouldn’t act as if their views are true, that’s bigotry.
Part One: What is abortion?
Arguments for abortion only make sense if you deny the personhood of the unborn. If the unborn is just an impersonal clump of cells, a part of the woman’s body, then no justification for abortion is necessary. If I believed that the unborn was not a human person, abortion would not trouble me at all. However, the evidence that the unborn are human persons is overwhelming.
“Fetus” is a stage of human development, like “baby” or “teenager.” The fact that the first stage of development takes place inside the mother’s womb does not make the fetal human any less of a distinct human being than a newborn baby or a 13-year-old. From the moment of conception, the unborn human has a complete set of DNA, separate from the mother’s. The claim that the unborn is “part of the woman’s body” would be disproved by a DNA test.
Anti-religious memes are meant to be snappy shutdowns. They might sound powerful on the surface, but they fall apart upon closer inspection.
Meme: “I am not religious. I am a humanist because human beings are more important than dogma and traditions.”
The meme seems to be saying that religion is nothing but dogma (probably in the negative sense of religious principles blindly accepted without evidence) and tradition. It suggests that religion values those things above human beings. It may be implying that religious dogma and tradition actually oppress humans. As a Bible-believing Christian, I can confirm that this view does not accurately represent Christianity.
In Christianity, human beings are considered more important than dogma (an authoritative set of principles) and traditions. (Mark 2:27, Matthew 15:1-9) Those things exist for our benefit because we are important to God. The basis of our trust in Jesus isn’t blind faith or the desire to continue a tradition. It’s based on evidence that God exists, that Jesus is a real historical figure who claimed to be God and proved it by rising from the dead, and that the Bible is reliable.
Whether or not you accept the evidence for Christianity is another question. The point is that this meme misrepresents Christianity, which is very likely the main religion that the creator wanted to oppose. The whole point of Christianity is to reflect the way the world really is and to do the ultimate good for human beings.
The Bible makes it very clear that the only good reason to believe in Christianity is because it’s evidentially true.
1 Corinthians 15:17-19 – “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”
Evidence for God and Christianity (my compilation and summary of some of the evidence)
Resources on the historicity of Jesus
Resources on the deity of Jesus
The following are my notes on a video presentation by Tim Barnett called “Shattering the Icons of Evolution.” (Note: some credit for the material might go to Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? by Jonathan Wells. I haven’t read it but I’m told it’s similar.) I decided to use my notes instead of writing a regular blog post because the presentation laid things out more clearly than I would be able to. I am not a scientist. I’m just doing my best to understand the evidence. Arguments for Darwinian evolution have caused many people to abandon Christianity, so I think it’s important to look at the evidence and not just dismiss evolution out of hand.
(Side note: I should clarify that I am not a young earth creationist or a theistic evolutionist. I am an old earth creationist who does not believe in macroevolution. I hold this view because, to the best of my knowledge, it’s the view that is most supported by the evidence. As I’ve said before, I think that the only good reason to believe something is because it’s true.)
A common assertion made by abortion advocates is that men don’t have a right to give an opinion on abortion because they don’t have a woman’s body. They can’t get pregnant, so they can never understand what it’s like to have to make that choice, and it doesn’t affect them anyway.
I have never heard of anyone telling a pro-abortion man that he should keep his opinions to himself. I’ve only seen those men embraced and celebrated by pro-abortion women. It seems like being a man only disqualifies your opinion if you disagree with abortion advocates. I think the argument against men speaking on the topic of abortion is just a tactic to discredit pro-life arguments without actually having to address them. Those who actually believe that arguments from men are invalid are committing an ad hominem fallacy. Being male does not prevent a person from understanding the abortion issue or coming up with legitimate arguments related to it.
Gender doesn’t determine the validity of a person’s argument. Men and women can make the same arguments for and against abortion. The same argument isn’t more valid coming from a woman than from a man. An argument should be accepted or rejected based on its merits, not the gender of the person giving it.