Monday, October 25, 2010

Suddenly ethics aren't so situational anymore

Dick Dawk and his posse really are fairly pitiful.  I mean it, I pity them.
I also laugh at them, like when they messily divorce and destroy a thriving atheist Internet hive at the Dick Dawk forum, and now when Dawk is suing his former moderator over embezzlement.

I guess when it hits you in the pocketbook, ethics aren't so situational anymore. Suddenly, roll up your sleeves, You've. Done. WRONG. 

Francis Schaeffer calls the atheist worldview unlivable.  Examples are easy to find, but some are more spectacularly amazing than others.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blood on their hands, or The Law of Unintended Consequences

Dear City Council member:

This letter is simply to ensure that you have asked yourself the question: "To what extent does the Norman City Council's needless provocation of such controversy as the Homosexual History Month proclamation mean that on our hands rests some of Zach Harrington's blood?" 

Was it worth it to you?  Will you and other Council members learn to analyze with greater care the law of unintended consequences?  While I have no wish to self-righteously condemn anyone, yet recognition of a mistake and repentance of that mistake is essential.  You bear some, if not much, responsibility.  My hope is that you will recognize your role in this tragedy, repent of it, and adjust your behavior and future decision-making accordingly.  Standing tall in irrational pride is not a virtue. 

Best Regards,

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The super-duper-uper Magisterial authority (aka Part 3)

First came this post and its combox.
Next came this post and its combox.
Then Paul Hoffer wrote up a lengthy reply, found here.  Unfortunately, as we'll see, he has left most of my argument untouched.  His reply consists mostly of responses of the equivalent strength of "Nuh uh!" and self-repetition in the face of substantive rebuttal.
The way I wrote it is addressed to Paul.

You say:
I disagree with Rhology’s question begging statement that the Catholic Magisterium as an interpreter is useless because magisterial statements in turn need an interpreter in order for one to understand them

It's not question-begging.  It's my contention. 

unlike the Scriptures, one can consult the Magisterial interpreter and seek clarification of the decision or interpretation. 

A point which I addressed clearly in my ROUND 2 post, in at least two ways.  So far you're just ignoring my points, rather than interacting with them.
Namely, 1) the infinite regress (which tries and fails to solve the "problem" of human fallibility) and 2) the fact that the Magisterium virtually never actually does any clearing up of controversies when it easily could do so.

While more questions may have arose about the Church’s understanding of Christ’s nature, the Church was able to respond to them

Now that begs the question, that you can identify "The Church" and that "The Church" that you identify was in the right to do these things.  
Don't go off on a rabbit trail and ask me whether I disagree with those councils' which have been later identified as Big-E Ecumenical Big-C Councils statements w.r.t. Christology; the point is that the later church identifies as "The Church" those people who actually won the struggle.  The winners wrote the history books in a very real sense here.  This is simply pointing to the position with which you agree today and saying "See?  The Magisterium spoke!"  There'd be no way to falsify the statement "The Magisterium spoke."  

one does not have to decide all over again each time they are read what the Scriptures mean as the Church has already done that for them

1) But does one have to decide all over again each time Magisterial proclamations are read what they mean, as the Church has already done that for them?  
2) How can one judge whether the Church spoke correctly in a given case?  
3) How do you know when The Church spoke?  Do you have a list of those infallible proclamations?  If not, doesn't that leave open the very real possibility that you are ascribing authority and infallibility where none exists, and leaves you open to the problem of individual fallibility and error?  And doesn't that mean that "just ask your priest or bishop" would be a completely useless answer?
If so, where is it and does it include itself in the list? 

B/c you have no good answers to these questions, what this means for you is that your house is built on sand. Your Magisterium is a paper tiger, a golden gun that's never fired. 

Disagreements between adherents who hold different views becomes the means by which doctrines are tested and determined leading to a shared understanding of the what the Church holds thereby leading to greater unity in faith. This is an advantage that those who claim to practice sola scriptura could never have.

Such fideist claims fall apart under scrutiny.

If attorneys were bound by some notion of sola scriptura, we would have to start over and decide what constituted the elements of contract

A statement that makes me think you don't even understand Sola Scriptura.  This is a strawman.  I'd've hoped that you, as an attorney, would put more effort into properly representing your opposition. What was it you said earlier? 
“If the facts are against you, argue the law; if the law is against you, argue the facts; if both are against you, abuse opposing counsel.”

we Catholics do not have to re-decide all of the old questions again

How about solving some of the ones that have remained all this time?  I listed quite a few in my ROUND 2 post.  Why don't you go ahead and show us where the Magisterium has cleared all of those up? 

I must say though that the James White allusion ("Give me Romans 8 anytime over the code of Canon Law") you use is a bit vague.

I'm a bit of a fanboy, and he has said that numerous times during his Dividing Line webcast, just FYI.  But he first said it in a debate, yes.

as a Catholic I too would say give me Romans 8 over the Code of Canon Law since Romans 8 is part of the Word of God and the Code of Canon Law

Um, except you just finished telling us we need the Magisterium to understand Romans 8 and clear up disagreements about it, whereas the Code of Canon Law comes from The Church, that body that can clear that stuff up for us!  Why move the goalposts now?

Or are you perhaps working off James White’s reputation to lend your argument an air of Protestant magisterial authority? 

If the facts are against you, argue the law; if the law is against you, argue the facts; if both are against you, abuse opposing counsel.

Why does one need recourse to a super to the nth power authority in order to make a decision IN RESPONSE TO A DISPUTE?

B/c of the problem you've been trying to solve yourself!  I've already dealt with this, like I mentioned above.  When are you going to take the next step and actually deal with my response?

And if the parties to the dispute both come into the dispute with an “obedience in faith,” that is an attitude of assent to the teachings of the Church, the parties to the dispute will submit to the decision by the Magisterium rather than breaking off to form their own Church or advocate disobedience to the teachings of the Church.

A historically ignorant statement.  This is faithful adherence to Sola Ecclesia!  
"Don't listen; it's the Kool-Aid talking."

we need only one Magisterial authority.

And when ppl disagree about the meaning and application of its proclamations, what then?  
I mean, since ppl's disagreement about the Scr's meaning and application means we need an infallible interpreting authority, let's be consistent, shall we?  Which means you haven't dealt with my points at all.  

Rhology’s smug argument suffers from more question begging as to whether the above referenced scripture passages actually need to be “infallibly” interpreted in order to be understood.

Oh, OK.  Then I'll just say the same thing about any passage YOU bring up and claim that it's unclear.  Unless you're less concerned about consistency than about defending Mother Rome. 
For example, you'd said earlier in our interaction the following:
Where the perspecuity of Scriptures falls by the wayside is when there are disputes between Christians as the Scriptures can not arbitrate the dispute. Two people can have sincere differences over the regenerative properties of baptism, paedo-baptism, etc. How does reliance on Scripture help when both parties rely upon them?

Paul Hoffer's smug argument suffers from more question-begging as to whether the above referenced Scripture passages actually need to be “infallibly” interpreted in order to be understood.

No, it is Rhology that introduced the idea that a teaching authority is to be measured by the laity’s response and obedience to it as demonstrated above.

No no no no!  YOU introduced the idea!  You did!  It's in your first comments!  I just quoted you. Here it is again.
Where the perspecuity of Scriptures falls by the wayside is when there are disputes between Christians as the Scriptures can not arbitrate the dispute. Two people can have sincere differences over the regenerative properties of baptism, paedo-baptism, etc. How does reliance on Scripture help when both parties rely upon them?

You still haven't grasped my argument, and it's getting sad.  Do you need to talk over the phone or something, so I can explain it to you?  Maybe this is why you claim (when convenient) the Scriptures aren't perspicuous - you can't even understand my internal critique of your own position, and it's your position.

And since the Church has steadfastly taught since apostolic times that abortion is inherently immoral, evil, and sinful,

And since you can take any two Roman Catholics and ask them about abortion and get 2 different answers... let me virtually-quote Paul again:  
Where the perspicuity of Magisterial proclamations fall by the wayside is when there are disputes between RCs as the Mag proclamations can not arbitrate the dispute. Two people can have sincere differences over the whether it's OK to dismember babies.  How does reliance on the Magisterium help when both parties rely upon them?
If Paul responds, "But it's not true that BOTH are relying on them!", he needs to tell us why that same answer is not available to me as well w.r.t. the Scripture.  I won't hold my breath.

PH had said:
Unlike Protestantism which bolds that each person is his own magisterial authority

I'd responded: How do strawmen help the Roman cause?  Is it Mag teaching that strawmen are the best strategy?  Is that in Lumen Gentium too?

PH never answers but instead quotes some fallible individual who happens to go to his church, saying: When we speak of private judgment, then, let us be quite clear as to what we mean; it has its uses and it has its abuses. Private judgment, in the sense of compiling a creed for yourself out of the Bible, of accepting this doctrine and rejecting that, of judging what should be and what should not be an integral part of the truth revealed by God -- this, of course, is entirely forbidden, for it is directly contrary to the method of arriving at the truth instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

1) Luke 12:57“And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?"
Matthew 22: 29But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God."
Mark 12:26“But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses"
Luke 6:3And Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him"
Matthew 19:4And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE"

Hmm, isn't that crazy?  Jesus actually pushed people back to the Scripture to correct when 2 people disagreed!  

2) Unless Paul can produce an infallible list of Magisterial proclamations, he exercises private judgment in figuring what things the Church says that are infallible things to be obeyed and what things the Church says that are fallible and non-binding.  Paul seems not to have yet wrestled with this problem, and I've given him several chances now over the course of this interaction.

3) He never apologises for the strawman or withdraws it.  Doesn't encourage me to take his point very seriously, since he seems to be talking to someone else.

When opinion, or private judgment, or to borrow Rhology’s term “logical argumentation,” becomes the measure of truth it is only a matter of time before all doctrinal issues become irrelevant due to the utter subjectivity of one’s own opinion.

How does this address the rebuttal I've already laid out?  It doesn't.

I even read an article where a bi-sexual woman who was promoted to the status of “bishop” in the Protestant Episcopal Church proclaim that abortion is sacramental! Where is Protestant unity on these matters or is redefining what constitutes sin a non-essential matter? 

1) Ah, the tried-and-true method of lumping me in with flaming liberals!  Maybe Paul would like to be held responsible for everything Mel Gibson does.  After all, he's "Catholic".  He says so!  Just ask him!
2) Again, such fideist claims fall apart under scrutiny.

As I stated in the FIRST ROUND above, Jesus Christ is the measure of truth since He is the one Way, the Truth and Life, not logical argumentation. 

Gosh, I wonder if anyone reading this will stop to wonder whether, when I say "logical argumentation", I mean it in the naturalistic materialist sense, or whether I mean it in the presuppositional Reformed sense, wherein one applies logical and contextual hermeneutics to the final standard of truth - God's Word?  Hmmm... I guess I could go back to my blog and delete all the references to "but, believing in Jesus is more probably true than not b/c the Earth's axis is tilted just right!"  
Oh wait, I don't say that kind of thing.  Never mind.  Then maybe Paul could actually do me the service of remembering to whom he's talking.

After all, I can point to some 252 dogmas that have been infallibly defined by my Magisterium.

That sounds like a fallible list to me.  Where is Paul's imprimatur?  
See, that's the thing - to Paul, apparently, the "authority and infallibility of the Magisterium" is a tool to be pulled out of the shed when convenient, say like a screwdriver, but when he needs to cut through a board, he hides his saw behind his back and tries to convince us all he's actually using the screwdriver. Then he shows us the cut board - "See?"  
Buy into the sleight-of-hand at your own peril.

(Please leave any comments at the BeggarsAll post.)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

It's Homosexual History Month!

At least in my town.

Before the vote, I emailed all the members of the City Council, asking them to vote nay on the motion.  Predictably, most ignored me.  One of the City Council members actually wrote me back after the vote, saying:

Thank you for taking time to write. On this issue I must disagree with you, but want you to know I did read your comments. I read all the emails I received and listened to all my messages. I know you have serious concerns.

In the process of this I heard from constituents on both sides, as well as many more from across Norman and even outside of Norman. I voted for the proclamation to have a GLBT history month. No money is being spent, no one is required to participate in any activities nor is there any change in law.

This resolution came forward from our Norman Human Rights Commission, and was a response to years of comments they received in public meetings of bullying and harassment which continues to affect GLBT citizens, young and old. The commission members decided there was a need and proposed a history month to acknowledge both contributions made and the history of trouble which has existed.

A lengthy amount of time was spent during the Tuesday meeting because many citizens wished to speak for and against the resolution. Otherwise no council time was spent and certainly no public money was--or will be--spent.

As a council member I have to make a decision. Each time, I weigh together what I have heard from constituents and other citizens, my beliefs and my knowledge. I have often heard it said that the health of any community is reflected in how we treat our weakest members. I believe all have the right to be treated decently and I believe that part of my public responsibility is to see to it that government does not hinder this.

Thank you,

My response, sent today:
Thank you for taking the time to write me and for taking the time to read my letter to you. 

I am very much aware of your vote as well as the reasoning behind Councilman Quinn's vote against the motion, citing the need to listen to his constituents.  I find it difficult to believe that, if his constituents let him know their displeasure at the motion to such an extent that he found it necessary to vote nay, a majority of your own consituent contacts did not also voice their opposition to you.  Why then did you go against their wishes and vote aye?  Why be a part of a government action favoring one sexual orientation, a course of action that is chosen (for one chooses to engage in a consensual sexual act, by definition), over another?  Is it indeed the government's job and a good stewardship of Norman's limited resources to spend four hours of City Council time on needless controversy such as this? 

Your answer as I can see it is twofold:
1) No money was spent and the proclamation is not binding on anyone; and
2) GLBT citizens experience bullying and harassment.

I object strenuously to both answers.  The meeting required significantly longer than most City Council meetings, did it not?  And was that not because of the large amount of citizens who attended in order to speak out?  While I certainly do not mind public debate and discourse about topics of morality and governance, the fact remains that time was spent (or wasted) on a "proclamation" that you yourself admit has no force for anyone. 
Further, as one of the attendees pointed out, when Norman has so many issues that actually speak to the interests of the public at large before it, why make a governmental statement on the matter? 

Secondly, I have experienced a great deal of bullying and harassment in the course of my time on this Earth, but it was not because I am a homosexual.  When do you plan to proclaim "Nerd History Month"?  Or "Bucktooth History Month"?  After all, I was born with buckteeth.  They developed naturally. I had no choice in the matter.  And I have many times been driven to tears and depression over them.  Yet, a strange thing happened - I grew up.  If someone mocks my looks now, I am sad for them and pity their shallowness.  If they verbally harass me, I walk away.  If they physically assault me, I call the police and defend myself.  Why should it be any different for GLBT citizens? 
Further, what difference do you think a non-binding "proclamation" on which the Council (thankfully) spent no money will make?  Will not those bullies who are inclined to harass GLBT people continue their malice? 

Finally, as mentioned, you have in fact acted counterproductively, as you have increased the visibility of the gay agenda's campaign for super rights.  When has the City Council (or anyone, for that matter) proclaimed "Heterosexual History Month"?  If we are to celebrate historical achievements by remarkable people, why bring up their sexual orientation at all?  What difference does one's sexual orientation make in a great invention or discovery?  Who among us speaks in the following way: "Albert Einstein, a great mind and influential scientist, who was also heterosexual, is the originator of the theory of relativity"? 

My hope is that you will reconsider that which drove you to this decision, whether poor thinking, lobbying from the NHRC, and/or political correctness.  None is commendable, and none is fit for members of a modern City Council.  I welcome any feedback, whether by email or by telephone.  I am available most anytime.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

This is how liberal, politically-correct hypocrisy works

A Facebook friend posted this vid on his Wall. 
I posted a comment with a link to this article from Vox Day, which I found politically and societally shrewd (though not particularly Christian).  He deleted it. 
I then sent him a brief message:  Why did you delete my comment?

Here's how it followed:

HIM:  Because that article is hateful and incendiary and has no place on my facebook page.|

ME: Boy, that's pretty judgmental on your part. Did you even read it? To whom is it expressing hate, and what is the quotation you think expresses that hate?

HIM:  I did read it. The entire thing is hateful toward the gay rights movement in that it doesn't understand the needs of this group.
and judgmental on my part? the article itself was judgmental to begin with!

ME:  Can you quote it?
And yes, judgmental on your part. It's strange to me that you are casting judgments...about the article's judgmentalism.
(The point being - saying "It's judgmental" or something similar is 100% self-defeating. So one should not say it.)

HIM:  I have no problem being judgmental about hate speech.

ME:  Then since you consider the article as hateful, presumably you have no problem with it. You hate haters. You're a hater yourself.
So, why did you delete the comment?

HIM: No... hate speech is hateful toward people for their differences. Hate of hate speech is hate of an action. We often say "God hates the sin not the sinner"... it's that kind of mentality.
And I deleted the comment for reasons I already stated - it's hate speech and has no place on my FB page. my FB page has no freedom of speech.

ME:  You are hateful towards Vox Day for the difference he has with you. You are judging him. And you judged me for posting his article.
Hating hate speech is an action. You yourself are committing an action of hate.
If your FB page has no freedom of speech, then why complain about being judgmental? You yourself are the Final Judge! Your hypocrisy is amazing.

HIM: You've got some bad logical falicies there. My FB page has no freedom of speech because *I* am the dictator of it. I get to decide what stays and what goes. Yes, I am the final judge, because it is *my* FB page. On your FB page, you are the final judge, and so on.
No, I am not hating Vox Day. I never wrote an article about him. I just refuse to give him a voice on my page.

ME:  And w/o a quote from Vox Day to the effect that he hates these people toward whom you claim he's expressing hatred, it is a pretty big injustice (ie, a hateful, unjustified action) toward him. You can't quote him, can you? All you can do is say "He disagrees with the gay rights agenda. Ergo, he's hateful". I was hoping to see more independent thinking from you, rather than such kind of knee-jerk politically correct talk.

It's pretty clear from your reaction to this situation that you have biased hatred toward those who do not agree with the progressive agenda. You don't allow free speech...why? Are you afraid of the marketplace of ideas?

HIM: I could quote him... I just don't feel like doing so... I don't feel like I need to argue with him, because I don't feel like giving credence to his viewpoint.

ME: You'll pardon me if I find it hard to believe that your not feeling like giving credence to his viewpoint is why you won't quote him. You won't quote him expressing hatred b/c you can't. I wish you would be honest enough to admit that, and to admit that your refusal to post my comment as a counterpoint is b/c of your prejudice.

We've seen that you judge and complain about judgment. That you hate and complain about haters. That you mock others with whom you disagree while complaining about those who disagree. It's sad to see, really.

HIM: No, I'm being honest when I say I don't feel like arguing with him. I am working on my Masters Thesis atm, which means I'm spending all day crafting an insanely large argument. To expect me to do so simply to satisfy your ego is... well... egotistical

ME:  More judgment, eh? You're the one who think yourself in the right position to suppress ideas, not I.
Nice talking to you.

HIM:  You've been judgmental from the start, but your self-righteousness blinds you from it. You can't even see your own hate, or how it conditions you to act in an un-Christian manner. I'm removing you from my FB, because I don't want to have this kind of unmitigated hateful argument again, but I will pray that some day God will soften your heart and you will return to Him.

As stated in the last comment, he removed me from his FB friends.  It's sad to see how modern liberal political correctness has wrecked this man's thinking.