Recently in Morality, Religion & Philosophy Category

Among many other benefits, Ross Douthat writes that raising a family helps you become more holy.

For the average sinner, though, for me and maybe for you, life with children establishes at least some of the preconditions for growing in holiness, even if there's always the risk of being redirected into tribal narcissism. If I didn't have kids there's a 5 percent chance that I'd be doing something more radical in pursuit of sainthood; there's a 95 percent chance that I'd just be a more persistent sinner, a more selfish person, because no squalling infant or tearful nine-year-old is there to force me to live for her and not myself.

I've definitely found this to be true. I'm a much better person than I used to be, significantly because of my family. (Not that I'm all that great, mind you.)

The Word of God falling from the lips of the apostle or minister enters into the heart of the hearer. The Holy Ghost impregnates the Word so that it brings forth the fruit of faith. In this manner every Christian pastor is a spiritual father who forms Christ in the hearts of his hearers.


The headline writer says, "Unconscious learning fosters belief in God, study finds", but that's wrong in a very significant way. The study only demonstrates a correlation between a belief in God and an ability to predict complex patterns.

People who unconsciously predict complex patterns are more likely to hold a strong belief in God -- a god who creates order in an otherwise chaotic universe -- according to research published Wednesday.

"Belief in a god or gods who intervene in the world to create order is a core element of global religions," Adam Green, an associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University, said in a news release.

"This is not a study about whether God exists, this is a study about why and how brains come to believe in gods," said Green, who also serves as the director of the Georgetown Laboratory for Relational Cognition. "Our hypothesis is that people whose brains are good at subconsciously discerning patterns in their environment may ascribe those patterns to the hand of a higher power."

From what I can see, the fault lies with the writer of the headline, not the study authors. Any of these four possibilities could be true:

  1. Belief in God leads to the ability to make better predictions
  2. The ability to make better predictions leads to believe in God
  3. Both belief in God and the ability to make better predictions are caused by some third unidentified factor
  4. The correlation discovered by the study is anomalous

The first three possibilities are all interesting.


Kanye West explains why he's pro-life.

West said he was still living the "rapper's lifestyle" when Kardashian found out she was pregnant with baby North, the couple's eldest child. The musical talent-turned-politico admitted that he did not want the baby, but Kardashian stood up and said she was going to have the child, for which West offered his wife immense praise.

"She brought North into the world, even when I didn't want to," he said. "She stood up and she protected that child."

West likened Kardashian saving baby North to his late mother saving his life from abortion some 43 years ago.

"And she said I'm pregnant," West recalled Kardashian finding out she was with child, adding that she was crying when she left the doctor's office.

"I was living the rapper's lifestyle," West disclosed.

"For one month, and two months, and three months, we talked about her not having this child," he said. "She had the (abortion) pills in her hand. You know those pills, where you take the pills and it's a wrap, the baby's gone."

"I'm in the apartment in Paris," West continued, "and I have my laptop up, and I have all my creative ideas ... and the screen went black and white. And God said, if you f*** with my vision, I'm gonna f*** with yours." ...

"You know who else protected a child?" he asked the crowd. "Forty-three years ago, who do you think protected a child?"

"My mom," he said. "My mom saved my life."

Earlier this month, West told Forbes that he is "pro-life because I'm following the word of the Bible."


I like Charles Lipson's idea: "Defund the thought police".

Dissent from their approved views is not just considered an error, much less an innocent one. It is considered immoral, illegitimate, and unworthy of a public hearing. Although both left and right have moved steadily toward this abyss, the worst excesses today come from the left, just as they came from the right in the 1950s. Opponents are seen in religious terms, as dangerous apostates who deserve to be burned at the stake, at least symbolically. You never expect the Spanish Inquisition. Yet here it is. That is the powerful iconography behind torching police cars and neighborhood stores.

Anyone who doesn't support free speech is probably just afraid they'll lose the debate.


I'm a frequent skeptic of my home-state of California and no fan of its left-wing leadership, but Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed seem to have constrained the impact of the coronavirus in their state far better than leaders in New York.

New York's emergence as the epicenter of the coronavirus was far from inevitable. A report from the left-leaning site ProPublica contrasted New York City's and New York State's responses with those of San Francisco and California. While people do not live on top of one another in San Francisco to the same degree that they do in the Big Apple, the actions of de Blasio and Cuomo strike a marked contrast with those of Mayor London Breed (D-San Francisco) and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.). ...

ProPublica noted that there had been nearly 350,000 coronavirus cases in New York and more than 27,500 deaths on May 15. The true story is worse, as the majority of coronavirus cases across the U.S. trace back to Gotham. In California, by contrast, there were just under 75,000 cases and slightly more than 3,000 deaths. In New York City, there had been almost 20,000 deaths. In San Francisco, there had been 35.

Many factors contribute to this difference, but the quick leadership of Breed and Newsom strongly contrasts with the failures of de Blasio and Cuomo.

California isn't as dense as New York City, but Newsom and Breed made the right decisions much earlier than Cuomo and de Blasio did -- when there were fewer infections and less obvious evidence.

This pandemic is a perfect example of why it's so important to pray for our leaders, whether or not we agree with their political positions.

1 Timothy 2:1-3

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior...


It's unfortunate that it needs to be said, but yes, churches need to obey shutdown orders issued by the authorities to protect public health. The pastors and churches that are refusing these orders are not advancing the Kingdom of God, but in fact are bringing dishonor and shame to the name of Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:1-7:

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

It's conceivable that a shutdown order could in some hypothetical situation be cover for government oppression of the church, but that's definitely not the case right now.

Instead of fomenting conflict with the government, churches should be praying for our leaders, medical professionals, and infrastructure workers. Christians should also be doing whatever we can to relieve suffering, provide for those in need, and share the Gospel while obeying the health directives of our government.


In an utter disgrace for our justice system, pro-life activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been found guilty and will be punished for their work uncovering Planned Parenthood's business of selling dismembered baby parts.

A jury in San Francisco district court has found pro-life activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud, breach of contract, and trespass and violation of state and federal recording laws. Daleiden, Merritt, and their Center for Medical Progress obtained undercover footage of abortion-industry workers, including from Planned Parenthood, discussing arrangements to illegally profit from the fetal body parts of aborted babies.

One can easily imagine the outcry if undercover activists were similarly punished for exposing, say, the routine mistreatment of animals.

The videos -- the first of which CMP released in the summer of 2015 -- showed all sorts of horrifying things. Planned Parenthood medical directors haggling over prices for fetal body parts over a lunch of salad and wine, another joking about upping the cost for certain organs so she could afford a Lamborghini. Abortionists admitting to altering late-term abortion procedures (which is illegal) in order to improve their odds of obtaining intact, and thus more valuable, fetal body parts. Industry workers conceding they had contracts to sell fetal tissue and describing in graphic detail their efforts to conduct post-viability abortions without violating the ban on partial-birth abortion. A former clinic worker saying she had been tasked with harvesting organs from an infant whose heart was still beating.

Pray for an end to abortion.

Genesis 4:9-10

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

The Lord said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.


Thomas Sowell is one of the smartest, most influential economists and philosophers of our time. Here he redirects two common lines of inquiry and asserts that we often ask the wrong questions.

Wrong Question No. 1: What is the cause, explanation, or origin of poverty?
It's not the origins of poverty that need to be explained. What requires explaining are the things that created and sustained higher standards of living [illustrated in the chart above]. There's no explanation needed for poverty. The species began in poverty. So what you really need to know is what are the things that enable some countries, and some groups within countries, to become prosperous."
Wrong Question #2: What's the reason for slavery and why did it exist in the US and elsewhere?
Of all the tragic facts about the history of slavery, the most astonishing to an American today is that, although slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century. People of every race and color were enslaved - and enslaved others. White people were still being bought and sold as slaves in the Ottoman Empire, decades after American blacks were freed. ...

Deciding that slavery was wrong was much easier than deciding what to do with millions of people from another continent, of another race, and without any historical preparation for living as free citizens in a society like that of the United States, where they were 20 percent of the population.

It is clear from the private correspondence of Washington, Jefferson, and many others that their moral rejection of slavery was unambiguous, but the practical question of what to do now had them baffled. That would remain so for more than half a century.


I've recently started reading some posts by Sean Carroll at his blog, Preposterous Universe. Carroll is a physicist and an atheist, and he has written a ton of fascinating material about physics and cosmology. I'm learning some new stuff, even though I disagree with his premise/conclusion about the existence of God.

I'd like to briefly discuss one paragraph in his essay titled, "Rapped on the Head by Creationists". (I'm not going to critique the whole essay because I'm not smart enough and don't have the time to work things out.)

As I like to emphasize, the God hypothesis could in principle count as a scientifically promising explanation, if only it could actually explain something new, something beyond our mere existence. For example, it's unclear why there are three generations of fermions in the Standard Model; can God perhaps account for that? Even better, make a testable prediction. Does God favor low-energy supersymmetry? What is God's stance on proton decay, and baryognesis? If you are claiming to explain some features of known particle physics or cosmology by appeal to God (and maybe you aren't claiming that, but some people are), you should be able to carry the program forward and make predictions about unknown particle physics. Otherwise you are just telling a story about stuff we already know, without explaining anything, and that's not science.

My opinion is that this paragraph illustrates a significant lack of humility by Carroll that is common among modern atheist scientists.

Whether or not you believe God exists, it's foolish to argue that the "God hypothesis" hasn't produced anything of value -- any new knowledge, philosophy, science, art, etc. Western Civilization is a cultural edifice that has been built on the foundation of the God hypothesis over the course of several thousand years, and it's naive to think that any modern Western person is learning or accomplishing anything without standing atop this monumental structure. (Richard Dawkins makes exactly this error -- divorcing the Enlightenment from its historical and cultural foundation.)

Science, rationalism, and enlightenment thinking are children of the God hypothesis. You may think -- like Nietzsche -- that the children have now overthrown their father and that "God is dead", but don't be so arrogant as to deny their paternity. Modern man is the inheritor of an ancient and powerful legacy, and he should be grateful rather than arrogant.


This has to be the most cold-hearted argument for abortion that I've ever read: abortion is good for business.

More than 180 business owners, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, signed a letter protesting restrictive abortion legislation and published a full-page ad in The New York Times.

Business owners banded together to "stand up for reproductive health care" by posting the ad in Monday's print edition titled "Don't Ban Equality," which says abortion bans are "bad for business." ...

"Equality in the workplace is one of the most important business issues of our time," the ad reads. "When everyone is empowered to succeed, our companies, our communities, and our economy are better for it."

"Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers," the ad continued. "Simply put, it goes against our values, and is bad for business. "

"We, the undersigned, employ more than 108,000 workers and stand against policies that hinder people's health, independence, and ability to fully succeed in the workplace."

Basically: "Killing babies will help us make more money." This is completely insane. The argument tries to side-step the moral and human dimensions of abortion by turning it into an economic issue, but where does that lead? Who else can we kill for money? Who gets to decide? Apparently the richest and strongest people are free to kill the weakest and most helpless people for money.

The argument is also wrong. Human beings are the only wealth-generating "objects" in the universe -- more humans means more wealth.

What a bunch of posturing, evil idiots.


Sometimes early Christianity is criticized for not explicitly condemning slavery or demanding its elimination, but instead "merely" recasting slaves as valuable to God and worthy of equal human dignity. I think this criticism is unfair for many reasons which I won't outline here. I want to highlight a verse that I recently discovered which does point to the inherent evil of slavery, surprisingly from the book of Revelation, chapter 18. The chapter is about the destruction of Babylon / Rome, and calls out all the evil people who are lamenting the loss of their nexus of sin. Skipping down to verse 11, we get to the merchants:

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her [Babylon / Rome], since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

The word "slave" there is sōma: "the body both of men or animals".

The word "soul" there is psychē: breath, life, soul, that in which there is life.

You can see the contrast. These vile merchants act as if they are trading mere bodies, without recognizing that the slaves are living souls created in the image of God. The cargoes that make up the majority of the paragraph are morally neutral: wood, metal, trinkets, treasures. Nothing inherently good or evil, until final words: you merchants buy and sell human souls.

The wealth of Rome was built on slavery, and the Bible identifies that evil and condemns it.


Mike Pence doesn't seem so paranoid anymore, does he?

On March 29, Democrat Lucy Flores accused former Vice President Joe Biden of acting inappropriately toward her in 2014 with an extended kiss on the back of her head. Biden, a probable candidate for the 2020 presidential election, has denied any wrongdoing, although he is known for treating women in an overly affectionate and sometimes downright creepy manner. At times, he steps over the line of decorum into the realm of the unwanted and awkward. This is common knowledge. ...

The vice president [Mike Pence] has very strict, personal standards concerning how he interacts with those of the opposite sex. Without a doubt, they leave no room for misconduct. By doing so, he respects women in general and most importantly, his wife, Karen. Despite the good that this personal code does, the media has run a campaign of ridicule that includes articles like How Pence's Dudely Dinners Hurt Women, Mike Pence poses biggest threat to women in a generation, say campaigners, Mike Pence's Marriage and the Beliefs That Keep Women from Power, and a piece from mid-March about a current Democratic candidate's feelings on the subject entitled Harris says it's 'outrageous' that Pence limits one-on-one meetings with women, just to name a few.

Apparently, respecting your wife and other women too much, enough to remove any past, present, or future doubts, is a bad, bad thing. In the #MeToo era, where there is a range of improper behavior on a scale of Biden to Weinstein, society at large could actually use more of Mike Pence's attitude. Shouldn't the absence of indecorous conduct be a thing to applaud?

I've written about Mike Pence and the Billy Graham rule before. It's important to always treat women (and men!) with respect, and it's also important to avoid the appearance of impropriety.


I haven't written about the recent state-level abortion laws because the horror of it all is almost too much to bear. The devastation wrought on precious human lives by the evil of abortion is an abominable weight on our country and civilization.

Genesis 4:9-10

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

The Lord said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.

God hears the silent cries of the children we have sacrificed on the modern altar of Molech. A million deaths every year isn't just a statistic, it's a million individuals, each loved by God.

Psalm 139:13-18

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
   and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
   Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
   as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
   Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
   before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
   They cannot be numbered!
I can't even count them;
   they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
   you are still with me!

God forgive us for the evil of abortion, for the intentional suffering we inflict on mothers and children, the most vulnerable among us.

God forgive me for doing little more than writing and praying.

God deliver our nation from this horror. Teach us to value every human life you lovingly create.


Robyn Urback writes that the Clintons are long-overdue for a #MeToo reckoning. It has always struck me as fundamentally unjust that Monica Lewinski's life has been permanently scarred while the Clintons have prospered.

To this day, Clinton maintains a rather unrepentant air. When he was pushed about his affair with Monica Lewinsky during a television interview back in June, Clinton lashed out at the interviewer and accused him of ignoring supposed "gaping facts" about the saga. Clinton also noted that he was a victim, too, in that he left the White House $16 million in debt. Let's pause here a moment to appreciate the trauma of the Clintons' fleeting financial insecurity.

Lewinsky, during that time, was made the nation's punchline, villain and slut. Decades before the term "gaslighting" would enter the mainstream lexicon, the president of the United States went on national television and told the world that he "did not have sexual relations with that woman." Clinton's allies painted Lewinsky as a stalker and a manipulator, and even feminist icon Gloria Steinem suggested in a column for the New York Times that Lewinsky was equally at fault for the illicit affair.

It would take Lewinsky nearly 20 years to realize that the power imbalance between an unpaid intern and her boss -- a man 27 years her senior and also the president of the United States -- complicates notions of consent and culpability. She would grapple with post-traumatic stress disorder for decades and struggle to find a clear career path. These are not ordinary consequences for a poor decision; most of us do dumb things we regret in early adulthood, but few of us are defined by them for the rest of our lives.


I guess everyone thinks that the sexual assault allegations against Judge Kavanaugh are bogus, which is why we're talking about his "judicial temperament" and alcohol consumption. Writes Orrin Hatch:

That Judge Kavanaugh had the temerity to defend himself vigorously is now being counted as a strike against him. Over and over we hear him described as "angry," "belligerent" or "partisan," followed by the claim that his conduct at the hearing shows that he lacks a judicial temperament. Even "Saturday Night Live" got in on the action.

You've got to be kidding me. Do the people making this argument really expect a man who until five seconds ago had an unblemished reputation to sit passively while his reputation is viciously and permanently destroyed? While he is accused of the most horrific and obscene acts imaginable? Judge Kavanaugh's critics seem to be aghast that he is a human being who is unwilling to take slander lying down.

But he drinks alcohol?

Countless articles have been written about how Judge Kavanaugh "lied" about his high-school and college drinking at the hearing, thereby calling into question his honesty. These articles claim the judge portrayed himself as a "choirboy" who, in the words of the New York Times, enjoyed "a beer or two as a high school and college student." Then they hit back with quotes from college acquaintances who say they saw the judge drink quite a lot.

This is known in the business as a straw man. Judge Kavanaugh never claimed he always drank in moderation. To the contrary, he admitted, "Sometimes I had too many beers."

It's weird to me that the Left is going all-in on teetotaling and the Mike Pence / Billy Graham rule. I think this is quite sensible, but I'm surprised that the Puritans have somehow managed to win the culture war.


I'd love for Bill Clinton to elaborate on what you used to be able to "do to somebody against their will"!

Former President Bill Clinton suggested the "norms have changed" in society for what "you can do to somebody against their will" in response to a question about former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken's resignation from Congress following sexual harassment allegations.

"I think the norms have really changed in terms of, what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space, make them miserable at work," Clinton told PBS Newshour in an interview that aired Thursday.

I especially love Clinton's use of the non-gendered "their".


Planned Parenthood partners have settled a lawsuit alleging that they sold baby parts. The settlement will put them out of business in California.

According to the settlement signed Monday, DV Biologics LLC and sister company DaVinci Biosciences LLC, both based in Yorba Linda, must cease all operations in California within 60 to 120 days. The agreement also requires the companies to admit liability for violations of state and federal laws prohibiting the sale or purchase of fetal tissue for research purposes, prosecutors said.

Also named as defendants in the settlement were company principals Estefano Isaias Sr., Estefano Isaias Jr. and Andres Isaias.

"This settlement seized all profits from DV Biologics and DaVinci Biosciences, which they acquired by viewing body parts as a commodity and illegally selling fetal tissues for valuable consideration. These companies will never be able to operate again in Orange County or the state of California," Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said in a statement.

So yes, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates do kill babies and sell their parts.


Paula Bolyard lists out numerous media outlets who refuse to count an unborn baby as a "real" victim.

Take, for instance, the Chicago Tribune, which wrote, "Kelley shot and killed 25 people at the church. Authorities have put the official toll at 26, because one of the victims was pregnant." The newspaper didn't want to get caught recognizing the humanity of the unborn baby, so they deferred to "authorities." There wasn't a deceased baby, there was a pregnant victim, according to the Tribune.

CNN wrote that "the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs will reopen its sanctuary as a memorial on Sunday, one week after a gunman killed 25 people and an unborn child." In other words, 25 real people and one blob of tissue.

At USA Today, they didn't even try to cloak their hostility toward unborn babies in clever wording. "The memorial ceremony was a block away from the First Baptist Church, which is slated for demolition after the massacre during Sunday services Nov. 5 that killed 25 people including a pregnant woman and wounded 20," an article declared.

And many more.

Obviously if an unborn child can be a victim of a shooting, he can be a victim of an abortion.

That "plus one" baby had a name: "Carlin Brite 'Billy Bob' Holcombe." John Holcombe, who was shot in the leg but survived the shooting alongside two of his children, wrote on Facebook that the name "includes [his wife] Crystal's pick for a girl, a boy and the nickname the kids gave the baby." Holcombe lost a total of eight family members in the shooting.


I guess you can interpret this partnership for yourself: Planned Parenthood teams up with Satanists to abort more babies in Missouri.

Missouri's recent stroke of good fortune in the reproductive rights realm may have to do with intervention from the fiery underworld. On Monday, the Satanic Temple argued in a Missouri court that the state's abortion restrictions violate worshippers' rights to free religious practice. The organization is challenging two Missouri laws: one that requires patients to look at unscientific anti-abortion propaganda and another that forces them to wait 72 hours between their initial consultations and a second appointments for their abortions. Satanic Temple members argue that their religion prizes rational, independent thought and that forcing Satanists to read anti-abortion pamphlets and "consider a religious proposition with which they do not agree" during the 72-hour waiting period constitutes a violation of their beliefs.

I wonder how this "stroke of good fortune" will impact the most vulnerable and defenseless people among us?

(HT: Breitbart and Patheos.)

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