Wednesday, November 09, 2016

President Trump

I have to admit I am a bit shocked.

As one who would have wished for someone other than Trump to oppose the lawless and radical Alinskyite Hillary Clinton, I did not believe Trump had a chance.  What does it mean?

For starters it means that Hillary really was a worse candidate than Trump.   Her baldfaced lies about just about everything, her clear corruption in using the Clinton foundation as part of a massive pay-for-play scheme, her utter incompetence on foreign policy and her reckless disregard for both the law and national security with her email server fiasco clearly had an effect.

It also means that a good chunk of the American public are sick and tired of being told that only politically correct left wing ideals can qualify as "justice" or "compassion".   I have no doubt that the race baiting of the left upsets a lot more people than the charges of racism hurled at everyone to the right of Al Sharpton.

But it means as well that both parties have lost touch with a majority of Americans.  The reason Trump was the candidate was in part because significant numbers of voters on the right simply did not want another Bush, another establishment Republican or anybody at all who was part of the system.

While that can be a good thing, it can also be a dangerous one.   Fixing the corruption, cronyism, and inertia that is Washington is necessary - but no doubt some want to burn it down altogether.

We'll see what happens.   My hope is that with Republicans controlling both houses and the presidency, at least the Supreme Court will not become a tool of the left and that some of the illegal executive actions the current president has taken can be rolled back.  I hope that the guiding principles will be the restoration of the Constitution to its rightful place and not the principles of retaliation or mere populism.

I will say with Trump there is hope for that.  With Hillary I truly believe the Republic the founders had envisioned would have been lost.   For that I am grateful, if cautious.

Friday, November 04, 2016

The Central Questions - Part 1

(This is a repost from a few years back.)

The central questions

In my 54 years on earth, I have had only two significant challenges to my faith.  It occurs to me that both of those challenges focused on the same basic questions, perhaps the central questions that all human beings have to ask.

This will sound a bit odd, but those two challenges were evolution and Calvinism. (More)

The Central Questions - Part 2

Evolution, built on a foundation of naturalism and uniformitarianism asserts that what we experience now, including corruption, suffering and death, have been the norm from the beginning of life on the planet.   Death is not an enemy, but is instead part of the engine of progress toward higher life forms. It is necessary for the weak to die so that the strong can prosper.

In it's atheist form, there is no purpose at all to this pattern.  Life arose, but it could have failed to arise.   Creatures that survive are "better"  only in the sense that they were better equipped to survive.

In it's theistic form, God may have devised a universe that made life possible and may in some hidden sense be the energy behind the laws of nature, but the "survival of the fittest" reality is nevertheless the overarching fact of existence.   Death cannot be an enemy if it is a necessary component in the development of more complex life forms.

So why do we suffer?   Because suffering and pain are evolutionary developments that aid our survival, a notion that is brutal if there is no purpose in existence and perhaps far worse if this was "God's method of creation".

In either case the traditional "free will" explanation for the origin of evil and suffering cannot be maintained.   Evil and suffering are part of the fabric of reality from the beginning and by design.   

On occasion, when the latest media reports of some new discovery seemed to indicate that the "fact" of evolution was undeniable, my faith would be significantly challenged.

But much later in a short stint in seminary, my faith was shaken.   Calvinism in its most rigid form, asserts that God's will in the form of his eternal decrees.   In our present reality, human free will is in complete bondage to corruption, pride and rebellion.  Only by the grace of God extended to those whom he chooses, can the will be moved to desire the ultimate good.  On these ideas Christians generally agree.  Humans have been corrupted.  ("Good" is a term that needs context.   Bad people can do things that are "good" in a relative sense, better than something worse, but even the best we do is tainted, corrupted and mixed with evil).

But the Calvinst view goes much further.   Human choice and human freedom are contingent on the  will of a sovereign God.   There are shades of difference but in some forms of Calvinism, the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden was part of God's eternal decree, thus every evil act is in some way connected to a Master Plan that only God can ever know or understand.   It was a Calvinist who pointed out in Seminary that no Calvinist can use the "free-will" defense to explain the existence of evil.

Hearing this at an Evangelical Christian seminary shook me more than any other idea that had ever challenged my view of reality.

What then is the purpose of suffering and evil, if suffering and evil are somehow part of the mystery of God's sovereign plan?   In fact, what are even the definitions of suffering and evil if the free choices of men are determined by the sovereign decree of God?   

In both cases, that of evolutionary thinking and the logical end of Calvinist thinking, the universe is deterministic, free will is an illusion, and suffering and evil are simply part of the reality of the universe as it is or as it was intended.   Evil, death and suffering are not intruders on a reality that was intended to be good, rather they are necessary cogs in the machine that marches toward some other end, an end that requires evil, suffering and death.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Don't Blame Never Trump

No doubt Trump supporters will want to blame the Never Trump crowd if Hillary gets elected.

No.  I have little doubt some Never Trumpers will quietly check the box next to his name with the other hand firmly over their noses.   Yes, Hillary is that bad.  But that may not be enough.

If Trump loses to the most vulnerable and disliked Democratic candidate in history, there are three places to lay the blame.

First is Trump himself.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Naturalism - Not a Scientific Necessity

I have often written about the scourge of naturalism on this blog.   The usual knock on both Intelligent Design and Creationism in its various is that neither are true "science", because the scientific method is built on the foundation of methodological naturalism.  

Short form of the argument is that unless scientists continue looking for natural explanations for everything, they will resort to a "god of the gaps" argument, say "God did it" and science will grind to a halt.  

Of course the response has long been that modern science pre-dates the advent of a militant naturalism and science as we know it is instead a result of men with a theistic worldview assuming that the universe is orderly and intelligible because it is the product of an orderly mind who intended us to understand it.

Over at Uncommon Descent, Vincent Torley has posted a long and fairly comprehensive rundown of scientists who advanced the cause of science from a theistic and usually explicitly Christian set of assumptions.   Included on the list are Galileo, Kepler, Boyle, Newton and many others.   Somehow this history is invisible to Theistic Evolutionists who often argue the most strenuously for methodological naturalism.  

Strange times we live in when Christians in the sciences ignore their own history to adopt a thoroughly secular worldview while attacking Christians who attempt to merely allow for the possibility that a Deity might interact with His own creation

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Count Me as Never Trump

There are many reasons to dislike Donald Trump as a candidate.  And as much as I would like to focus on his policies, whatever they really are, I have to take a moment to rehearse some of the more egregious personal attacks that in my mind reveal the utter lack of character necessary for the leader of this nation.

There is a reason I find this exercise necessary.   Politics has gotten ugly in the age of Alinsky.   His “Rules for Radicals” suggests as a legitimate strategy the practice of isolating individuals as figureheads and then demonizing them with lies and ridicule.  It forces them to waste time responding to charges that ultimately have no defense and distracts the rank and file from real issues.  It has been a tactic of the left for years and one I find utterly opposed to the practice of democracy. 

So to see Donald Trump and his minions using such ugly, immoral and unprincipled tactics and using them successfully means that the right side of the political spectrum has sunk to the same gutter as the thugs of the left.  What good is “winning” the Republican nomination if one utterly shreds any principles that once were a normative part of a civilized society built on self-government?  (More)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Is Trump a Fascist? Probably Not, but...

I have little doubt analogies linking politicians to villains of the past are generally unfair and unwise, not only for impugning the individual in the present, but also for minimizing and misrepresenting the evil of the past.   Lately, with the rise of Donald Trump to the front of the GOP Presidential race, comparisons to Hitler are popping up and more commonly the word “fascist” is used of both Trump and his supporters.
Full disclosure, I have no love for Trump as a potential President.   His campaign has been vulgar, insulting and crass.   He labels his opponents with insults and slurs to avoid discussion of issues and policies.   He demeans the process itself.   But more to the point, I have little confidence that whatever his current campaign positions are, he will follow through and not change his poistion if he is elected.   If I had to choose between Trump and either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, I would find it difficult to vote at all.
But is Trump a fascist as some of his opponents claim?  (More)