Bad Christian!

If you thought that it was only wrong to use Biblical arguments in the public square, you’d be wrong. It is also against the canons of secularist law to make any statement or rule on any aspect of public policy if you are known as one of those terrible “true believers.”

We’ve seen it in Supreme Court confirmation hearings, as well as in hearings for appointments to lower courts. Pres. Bush has gotten it from all angles on all issues. The stem-cell issue is only the latest.

J. Bottum writes at First Things,

Over on the University of Chicago law school’s faculty website, Prof. Geoffrey Stone posted an argument about embryonic stem cells that’s quite revealing, in its way. The post garnered some attention from other law professors, here and here, for instance. The always interesting Eugene Volokh weighed in, as did the serious analyst Rick Garnett.

The argument Prof. Stone makes boils down to this:

In vetoing the bill that would have funded stem-cell research, President Bush invoked what he termed a “conflict between science and ethics.” But what, exactly, is the “ethical” side of this conflict? … What the president describes neutrally as “ethics” is simply his own, sectarian religious belief. … [I]n what sense is it “ethical” for Mr. Bush—acting as president of the United States—to place his own sectarian, religious belief above the convictions of a majority of the American people and a substantial majority of both the House of Representatives and the Senate? In my judgment, this is no different from the president vetoing a law providing a subsidy to pork producers because eating pork offends his religious faith. Such a veto is an unethical and illegitimate usurpation of state authority designed to impose on all of society a particular religious faith.

He continues:

Either way, Stone’s argument demands that religious believers prove, far beyond any other public actors, that their public acts derive from rational motives—and when their actions match the result that their faith seems to require, the result is, on its face, constitutionally suspect.

The various pieces of this argument are odd, but it seems to me that one runs across them more and more: the assumption, for instance, that religion is inherently irrational, and the assertion that religious reasoning is incapable of arriving at an extra-religious result, and the postulate that a sectarian motive is inherently illegitimate in a democracy.

Those who believe in whatever G/god are automatically ruled out of court if the decision to which they come has any connection in any degree to what a believer might say. This has consequences especially for any Christian in any political office. There is an obvious fallacy at work here, namely, that those who do not claim religious belief are not acting out of their prior assumptions when they come to a decision. But the deeper problem is that the savviest opponents to embryonic stem-cell research do not make any explicit appeals to their religious belief; although behind the stance of Christians, at least, is the understanding that there is One who holds men accountable for their actions.

David Yeago wrote,

It is quite different, however, when religious people make claims that involve God’s immediate presence in some concrete shaping or ordering of the public world. Then a whole vocabulary of denigration is brought immediately to bear, and a whole strategy of repression comes into play. Such claims are superstition, fundamentalism; they violate the boundaries of religion and science[!] or religion and public life; they will bring back the old wars of religion. (“Sacramental Lutheranism at the End of the Modern Age,” Lutheran Forum, Christmass/Winter 2000, p. 6)

Any of that sound familiar? Stone’s arguments and those by others of his ilk epitomize the ad hominem arguments rampant in our culture: attack the character of the one whom you oppose, rather than his actual point. Needless to say, the unacceptability of this in public, rational discourse has largely been buried.

Perhaps what is needed is not to argue against these irrational attacks on religious believers. Most of these debates are believed to be based on emotivism, anyway. We should not expect them to go away any time soon (if ever). Rather, we should simply make the arguments that need to be made, and let the results be what they may. It’s not our job to control the future. Someone’s already in charge of that.


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Couldn’t think of a title for this post about “Dog” the Bounty Hunter, but this section struck me as funny:

He also believes in forgiveness and sometimes prays with the men he has just captured and tells them to change their ways. But he added: “I don’t make that a habit because I ain’t no Jesus freak. I’m not an evangelist, I’m a bounty hunter.”

In fact, evangelical Christians find Dog a perplexing figure. “I know Christians get upset because I say ‘Freeze motherf***er!’ or whatever, but I told them that ‘Freeze in Jesus’s name!’ doesn’t work.”

Maybe it’s just a throwaway on Saturday morning.


Grandiosity Masquerading as Intelligent Commentary

President Bush has singlehandedly ended all scientific progress in the United States. Or at least you’d think so to read USA Today‘s editorial from last week.

Not only did he halt scientific progress–

Unlike some presidential vetoes, Bush’s would be more than symbolic. Because the House isn’t expected to muster the two-thirds vote needed to override, it would kill the bill. The veto would impede medical progress at potentially enormous human cost, allow abortion politics to trump science and go against the wishes of most Americans.

[in other words, USA Today is satisfied only with meaningless vetoes, unless they go their way] –the results of embryonic stem-cell research will nonetheless be happily achieved in 25 years: “A quarter-century from now, when the benefits of embryonic stem cell research are being realized, Americans are likely to shake their heads in astonishment at this week’s events in Washington.”

Despite the fact that USA Today is now able to see the future with absolute clarity, the editors also make unfounded rhetorical moves designed to cast all those who oppose the needless abuse of human life as anti-science neanderthals. Besides, “These microscopic clusters of cells aren’t life as most people think of it. They have the potential to become human only if they are successfully implanted in a woman’s uterus.” My question is, what do they have the potential to become otherwise? Cows? Before painting others as anti-scientific progress, maybe the USAT editors should get their biological facts straight: no matter whether a fertilized egg is implanted in a woman’s uterus, it still has the “potential” to become only a human being. Of course, this is dismissed by the glib statement that they aren’t life “as most people think of it,” meaning, as “we the editors think of it.” I’m sure the medical community has a different take on it.

“Anti-progress” is a common point of attack, but let’s think about that one. Progress is only important relative to the goal at which one aims. If the goal is libertine scientific experimentation by means of which some utilitarian goal might be reached, progress cannot be good in any objective sense. On the other hand, cutting off the beginnings of further destructive experimentation on human lives deemed expendable for the sake of science is indeed progress toward a good end, namely, that each life is valued for the end to which God has ordained it. To suggest that scientific “progress” undefined is a good to be pursued at any cost is ridiculous on the face of it. It all depends on which end and whose progress.


Last Comic Making an Unintentional Cultural Comment

So I was watching Last Comic Standing last night and (in my opinion, the funniest guy) Chris Porter, made a profound but likely unintentional comment on the state of our culture. He was making a joke about the birth control patch, and how, if they were for guys, they would have them plastered on their forehead (“four or five of them; look ladies, backup”) so that women would know they were ready for uninhibited sex–sex uninhibited by the fear of children, that is.

He went on to say that for a guy to discover a birth control patch on a woman was like getting a toy for Christmas with batteries included. “You can play with her right out of the box!” To that, women could be heard cheering. Now, I don’t know about you, but that comment and the response to it strikes me as symptomatic of everything that is wrong with our materialistic culture of death. When women no longer retain the capacity to recognize that they are being treated as objects and toys to be played with, the birds of radical feminism (David, is that qualifier okay for you? ha!) have come home to roost. Far from being funny, the joke was a sad commentary on the state in which we find ourselves.

He went on to tell a very funny joke about caskets at Costco (“Costkets”), but the first one is the one that rang unfortunately true.


MSNBC=Missin’ Brain Cells

See if you can spot the number of hilarities in this piece of “news.”

[Hints: “heterosexual” vs. “gay”; “turnabout,” as if the names of homosexuals had been published on a website–can you even imagine the fallout if such a thing did happen?; the list was published to “encourage discussion”]

I would be glad to be called a “breeder;” it only highlights the moral deficiency of homosexual sex.

On a similar note, my home state’s supreme court upheld the ban on same-sex “marriage.” Good for them. Hey, if New York and Washington can do it, anyone can! On the other hand, the illegitimate gov. tried to find a way around the ruling. Amazingly, the “governor” believes that marriage is a religious issue and not a government issue! “State government provided us with certain rights and responsibilities, but the state did not marry us.”

In fact, the state does recognize your marriage (call it “marrying you” if you want) and regardless of what you do in church, without that recognition, your marriage is legally invalid. Seriously! How did this woman get into office again? Oh yeah, now I remember. What’s more, if it’s not a government issue, why are these people so worked up?


Where to Look

“The Lord’s Supper is about what God does for us, not what we do for Him. Because we are sinful, we will always be tempted to look for salvation within ourselves–but precisely because we are sinful, we cannot find salvation within ourselves. Such a search returns us to Mount Sinai. But the Lord graciously has given us a wonderful opportunity to be saved and to experience salvation in His Supper. We cannot ascend into heaven and grasp God, but He comes to us in Jesus’ incarnation, He who truly was Immanuel–God with us. As true God and man, Jesus laid down His life and saved us through His death and resurrection. Now in the Lord’s Supper, He gives us everthing His life, death, and resurrection accomplished. He brings heaven to earth” (Daniel Preus, Why I Am a Lutheran: Jesus at the Center [St. Louis: Concordia, 2004], 121).


During the past few years, every time I have spent some time with children, I wonder how parents are raising their children. I do not have children, so I do not have first-hand experience. But I just am concerned. Sometimes I am even present with both parent and child, and the young one does something rather evil, but nothing is said or done. I guess I am even more thankful for my parents and how they raised me. To quote Martha Stewart: discipline, it is a good thing.