Grief

Gay Activists Drive Socrates to Drink

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So, I’m sitting here with my old friend Socrates, chatting about our favorite subjects:  intellectual curiosity, civil discourse, and how to cook chicken (he prefers a spit over an olive wood fire), when a news story comes in over the e-transom:

“This Community College’s Form of Protest to Anti Gay Speaker Peter LaBarbera is Awesome!”  The story is on a website called instinctmagazine.com, and the page is littered with images of seminude men.

Socrates seems confused.  “Why protests this community college its own guest speaker?  Is not a college a place of learning? What does ‘gay’ mean, and why is it wrong to oppose ‘gay?’”  (We haven’t gotten past the headline yet, and Socrates is already spewing questions like an erupting volcano.  He doesn’t touch-type, so I’m doing my best to keep up.)

“Yes, a community college is a place of learning, but they didn’t want to hear what LaBarbera had to say, Socrates.”

“That is most strange for a place of learning.  Is it not better to hear out a speaker, even one with whom you disagree, and then counter his arguments with better arguments?”

“They don’t see it that way.  ‘Gay,’ by the way, means men who have sex with men, and women who have sex with women.”

“Really?  What a strange word to describe such practices, though now the undressed men on your viewing slate make sense.  Know you that people also did such things in Athens?  We considered such sexual acts to be perversion, and we called the men who indulged in them ‘wide-anused’ or ‘gapers.’  They made a terrible mess in the public privies.”

“Let’s not go there, Socrates, at least not until after dinner.”

“Sorry, I keep forgetting how squeamish your culture is.  No discussing this, no discussing that.  So the protestors think ‘gay’ cannot be criticized? And why use they a misleading euphemism like ‘gay’ in the first place?”

“They’re trying to convince the public their sexual behavior is normal, by diverting attention away from the behavior itself and claiming that ‘gay’ is their inherent identity.  Sort of like being Macedonian or Persian, only it’s all about sex. Then they claim that anybody who believes same-sex sex is morally wrong, even though God says so, hates their, uh, nationality.  It’s a good way to silence their critics.”

“Appalling.  We had Sophists in Athens, too.”

Socrates leans over my shoulder, peers closely at the laptop, and reads the article with blinding speed, mumbling under his breath all the while.  “A group of professors at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, encouraged students to walk out of a guest speaker’s presentation!  Professors did this?  Shocking!”

Suddenly Socrates stands up straight as a ramrod and cries “Unbelievable!  Brian, have you read this comment below the article?  It claims to have been written by Rebecca Morean, an English professor who actually boasts that she led the students out of the meeting!”

“Haven’t gotten there yet, Socrates.  What’s it say?”

“She writes, ‘The college did NOT invite Peter LaBarbera. The Traditional Values Club did and the way the laws are now, there is no way to censor groups like this on public institutions (sic). We have freedome (sic) of speech.’” 

“Brian, she opposes freedom of speech! I gave up my life rather than allow the mob to limit my speech!  And she is a teacher?  Is not her entire profession dependent on freedom of speech?”

“It’s supposed to be.  What else does she say?”

“I understand this not.  She writes, ‘As the “liberal professor” who led the group out, I spent three years trying to figure out some way to humiliate the speakers at TVC events.’  Is not a liberal a person who encourages respect for others and tolerance for opposing ideas, rather than seeking to humiliate her adversaries?”

“Wrong century, my friend.  Liberals haven’t believed in free speech since they bought into Marx’s twist on Hegel’s dialectic.  They don’t care about truth anymore, they only care about being on the right side of history.  In their view, anybody who disagrees with their cultural and political revolutions is on the wrong side of history and deserves no respect.  They only tolerate people who agree with them.”

“Philistines,”  Socrates replies with a scowl.

“Give her a break, my friend.  Sounds like she doesn’t have much of a life.”

Grumbling something like “Marx and Hegel are idiots” under his breath, Socrates probes further into Morean’s comment.

“Brian, she boasts that she prompted the walkout when LaBarbera began to speak!  Listen to this: ‘At that moment, I rose and left, followed by nearly everyone there.  The pictures say how effective this was and how empowered the students felt.’  Your youth feel empowered by closing their minds? And you allow people of this age to vote?”

Then Socrates stiffens again, his face a mask of utter disgust.

“Listen, Brian.  Morean tells where she led the students who followed her out of the speech: ‘A truly great day for all. We went to another building, ate cookies, signed posters and hugged.’ Ate cookies and hugged? My sheep were better thinkers than this!”

While Socrates regains his composure, I click on a related link.  “Hey, Socrates, check out this video.  A Sinclair professor wearing a butt-ugly tie-dyed T-shirt, Anne Soltysiak, says she couldn’t participate in the walkout because she was teaching a statistics class.  She admits she ‘catalyzed’ the whole thing.”

“I am not surprised,” Socrates replies.  “In Athens, statistics was not considered a profession for honorable people. Remember the old saying, ‘Figures don’t lie, but liars figure?’ That one’s been around since Hammurabi’s scribes invented bookkeeping.”

His pulse back below 120, Socrates returns to the Morean comment, only to snap to attention yet again.  “This is beyond belief.  Here she writes, ‘… the TVC organizers shouted at students and faculty who were leaving.  But NO ONE ENGAGED, which is what made this so successful.  The moment you engage you’ve lost.’” 

“Can this be true?” Socrates thunders.  “The goal of these teachers is to avoid engaging with people who disagree?  This is the triumph of anti-intellectualism over honest dialogue!  I gave my life 2400 years ago to encourage questioning the dominant paradigm, so that mankind could eliminate error and find truth, yet the human race has made no progress at all!”

Behind me I hear a stopper pop out of a wineskin, a gurgling sound, and … THUD.  Socrates is down.

“Brian, my friend,” Socrates whispers weakly, “I cannot stand this madness any longer, so I swallowed the hemlock.  I shall awaken in another 2400 years.  Perhaps by then, mankind will have resumed the quest for truth.”

Let’s pray it doesn’t take that long, my friend.

(With apologies to Peter Kreeft, whose wonderful book, Socrates Meets Jesus, I happen to be reading.)

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  • Jake Cole

    Oh, that is a hoot. Reading the Socratic dialogues are funny anyway.

  • David

    golly yet another one obsessed with the anus. pseudo-conservatives really must get their minds off of sex

    • William Ingramm

      There are some good points…..although in his imagined conversation with “Socrates” he failed to mention that the other side of this story are even less interested in dialogue as they are inextricably linked to their absolute worldview which is primarily based on a single book……something I’m sure would result in good ole Socrates spitting out that drink if he knew.

      Amazingly, this imagined Socrates never even bothers to inquire about that. Perhaps he was suffering from a bit of atrophy after his resurrection to chat with this blogger.

    • Charles A. Hake

      Let’s get it straight, David. It’s homosexuals (a relatively new, and convenient, term; earlier generations simply referred to them as “sodomites”), who are truly obsessed with the anus, basing their entire “identity” on their so-called sexual orientation, as they do. For others to merely report on such sordid sexual practices does not make THEM the ones who are obsessed.

      • John Resch

        Exactly what sordid sexual practices do gays have that straights do not? You do realize that you straights do anal and oral also.
        So why are you so obsessed with what 2 consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom?

        • Charles A. Hake

          Let’s not be coy, John. We all know that gay men engage in anal intercourse at far higher rates than heterosexuals, who have the primary, preferred option of vaginal intercourse, tend to!

          And there you folks go again with those accusations of others being “obsessed” with sex or bedroom practices, when it is in fact homosexuals/sodomites who base their entire “identity” on such things. When others then merely take notice, for legitimate reasons relative to the health, morality, and well-being of the culture, they are accused of being the ones who are obsessed. How absurd!

          But if you must know, I am “concerned” about such things because I happen not to like the spread of diseases, like HIV/AIDS and other STD’s, which are facilitated by anal intercourse, within the society of which I am a member. (I guess I’m funny that way about public health issues, especially since STD’s are on the increase in recent years.) And, as you well know, the human anus, unlike a woman’s vagina, was not designed for penile penetration; its lining is easily torn, bleeds, and leads to the increased spread of diseases. That the two individuals involved in such sex are “consenting” and adults does not in any way mitigate the fact that STD’s are more likely to be transmitted by such behavior. And that sort of thing ultimately affects ALL of us within such a society that encourages or celebrates sodomy as a perfectly healthy, normal sexual alternative to heterosexuality, which it most certainly is not.

          • John Resch

            Wow…..you are obsessed with this. And just so you know, those fetish practices you talked about are also done among straights, not just gays and it’s a small percentage of gays and straights that are into those things. But no…..you only see it as a gay issue.
            I can tell you don’t even really know a gay person because of your belief that us gays base our entire existence around our sex life. How wrong you are. Our lives are no different then your lives. We get up, go to work, come home and eat and go to bed and do the same routine day after day the same as you. The ONLY difference between our life is the gender of the person we love. That’s it.
            Try getting out more and actually get to know someone gay. You will be enlightened.

          • Matthew Berry

            Actually, hilariously, recent studies have shown that chastity drives in US states have had the singular effect of massively increasing rates of anal sex among American teens.

            On the other hand, they have had absolutely no impact on the number of teenage pregnancies, and there is still a strong correlation between the religiosity of communities, abstinence education, and pre-marital pregnancies.

            Studies of homosexual preferences have also highlighted a large minority, and some have argued a majority, who do not engage in anal sex. If homosexual women are included, which evangelicals seem to easily forget, this becomes a firm majority. Overwhelmingly, a fixation on mechanics is reserved for opponents of homosexuality, while homosexuals themselves behave no differently, in the main, to heterosexual couples, for whom the nature of intercourse is not an overriding concern.

            Studies of HIV/AIDS incidence predominantly focus on areas of high infection, particularly Africa, where the American association of the disease with homosexuality is non-existent. Cultural associations do not bear out when dealing with HIV/AIDS as a global epidemic.

            Finally, your argument rests on the idea of individuals affecting ALL of us. In this case, you should be vehemently pro-restrictions on guns, actively involved in encouraging family planning, avowedly opposed to smoking and alcohol and a warrior in the war against obesity. But somehow I doubt that is the case.

          • Charles A. Hake

            So, Matthew, you also claim that a “large minority” of homosexuals “do not engage in anal sex”? Even if that is true (you didn’t cite the source of your statistics, which could well be a pro-homosexual publication), that still leaves a MAJORITY of gay men who do, in fact, engage in anal intercourse, a high-risk sexual practice. Is THAT supposed to be a vindication of gay sex and those who engage in it? (And do you deny that it is a dangerous sexual practice, regardless of who—gay or straight—engages in it, or that gay males do so at higher rates than heterosexuals, as they necessarily eschew woman’s vaginas, unlike heterosexuals?)

            Yes, it can be said that my argument, at least to some extent (though not entirely) rests on the idea of “individuals affecting ALL of us.” Indeed, no man is an island. However, my involvement in the issues you cited (gun control; “family planning” [euphemism for abortion]; the “war” against obesity, alcohol, and smoking [what about opposition to marijuana, as well?] take a decidedly Christian tack. For example, I vehemently oppose abortion as the selfish taking of an innocent human life; “choice” begins in the bedroom, not after conception. And as for gun control, it seems some places with the most restrictions are in fact the most dangerous: Chicago is “Exhibit A” in this debate. And, yes, I do oppose alcohol consumption for its detrimental effect upon society; I likewise am against the legalization of pot for “recreational” use. (Are you?) Just this week, more studies came out, revealing that smoking marijuana adversely affects brain structure. (Even Gov. Gerry/Jerry Brown in California wonders if we need a nation of “pot-heads” and is therefore hesitant to legalize marijuana in his state.) My contention that what INDIVIDUALS do, can affect ALL of us, corporately, as a society, does NOT necessarily require me to respond to the issues you cited in the way that you prescribe.

            I don’t know whether or not you are a Christian, but I am. As such, my opinions proceed from a Christian worldview. Many of the things I oppose, thus, are for moral reasons that are not currently “politically correct.” In fact, I subscribe to the quaint notion, as did Abraham Lincoln and founding father George Mason, that God judges nations for national sins, like slavery (Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address indicates he thought the Civil War was God’s punishment for the national sin of slaver), or in my case (in contemporary America), abortion (the slaughter of our progeny) and the societal affirmation and celebration of homosexuality, a behavior that God forbids and condemns, and that stands, according to Romans 1:24-32, as a harbinger of God’s impending judgment upon an increasingly decadent culture. (BTW, though God forbids homosexual behavior, He also calls—and ENABLES—homosexuals to abstain from and ultimately forsake their sexual brokenness, by His life-transforming power and grace; that’s the good news of the Gospel.)

            Enough. I’m going to bed!

          • Matthew Berry

            You apply your condemnation for high-risk behavior selectively, and I don’t see anything but homophobia informing your decision on when it should be applied. I’ve addressed the contradictions of your justification based on risky behavior already.

            I really don’t think we should go down the rabbit hole of a gun debate, except to point to a comparison of violent crime and homicide statistics of the US and the EU.

            I find it contradictory to be vehemently opposed to abortion and equally opposed to the social welfare requirements of providing the resulting offspring with a decent quality of life. The abortion issue, like the guns, is complicated. I don’t think simplifying such a difficult issue helps anyone.

            I’ve yet to see a study that concludes marijuana affects the body more than alcohol, so based entirely on that argument it is hard to justify banning it while stocking Absinthe and whisky.

            The real question for you is how far do you justify your intervention in the lives of others? It’s not an easy question, and balance must be struck, but the prevailing consensus in modern Western societies is that you overreach in applying your religious beliefs in affecting the lives of others. If that is not the case, you’re down yet another rabbit hole as soon as someone with a religious belief in conflict with your religious belief shows up.

            The moral dictates of the Bible are selectively applied. The Bible spends much more time condoning and setting out the structure for slaveholding than it does condemning homosexuality, but I don’t see Christians advocating a slaveholding society. Likewise, the Bible instructs you to, in the terrible event that your daughter is raped, force her to marry her rapist. Thankfully, I do not see much clamor to have that enshrined in the legal code either!

          • Charles A. Hake

            Matthew–

            My last response to you was in two separate installments that were slow in being “approved” by this site; I wasn’t sure that one of them was ever even going to actually be posted. Judging from your response (you didn’t seem to comment on one of the installments, which included facts and figures/statistics relative to gay men and the high incidences of AIDS/HIV infections that result from their high-risk behavior), I’m not sure that you saw the particular installment of which I speak. It began this way: “Matthew, (and John, and David), you can say that “Studies of HIV/AIDS incidence predominantly focus on areas of high infection…”

            At any rate, we will have to agree to disagree, as we apparently are proceeding from different world views, and “never the twain shall meet.” I will not waste your time going down what you see as “rabbit holes,” nor do I have the time or inclination to banter back and forth endlessly with someone whose mind is as unlikely to be changed as is mine. I do wish to make one clarification, however.

            Your claim that, “Likewise, the Bible instructs you to, in the terrible event that your daughter is raped, force her to marry her rapist” demonstrates that you are ill-informed on biblical matters such as this. (And if this is an example of the kind of faulty reasoning you are generally using in an attempt to discredit the Bible, Christians, Christianity, and thus God, I do not intend to

          • Charles A. Hake

            Matthew, (and John, and David), you can say that “Studies of HIV/AIDS incidence predominantly focus on areas of high infection, particularly Africa, where the American association of the disease with homosexuality is non-existent,” but I was and am talking about AIDS/HIV in America, regardless of what’s going on in Africa or anywhere else. And here “at home,” in our culture, according to the Centers for Disease Control (hardly a “conservative” agency), it is a fact that “Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are approximately 2% of the United States population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV. In 2010, young MSM (aged 13-24 years) accounted for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all MSM. At the end of 2010, an estimated 489,121 (56%) persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the United States were MSM or MSM-IDU.”

            Did you get that? Gay men in America account for 72% of new HIV infections in the 13-24 age group, and 30% of new infections among all MSM. And 56% of those with HIV were MSM or MSM who were also intravenous drug users. Thus gay men, though representing no more than 2-3% of the overall population, account for all these disproportionate numbers of new HIV infections in the U.S.! It would appear that “the American association of the disease with homosexuality,” as you referred to it, is completely justified and legitimate here in the U.S. For more gay-indicting facts/information, just Google “CDC HIV gays” as I did. Just maybe that’s why some of us are “obsessed” with the sexual practices of a majority of homosexual men in the U.S. It seems that SOMEONE needs to be, as it represents a significant public health problem that warrants more than a cavalier response from society. One would think that homosexuals themselves would be concerned enough about this problem to organize advocacy groups to address the issue. Well, what do you know—it seems they have, in fact, done so. Ever heard of the “Gay Men’s Health Crisis”? (Check out gmhc.org for details.) The fact that organizations like this even exist might suggest that gays know they engage in practices that make them more susceptible to contracting AIDS/HIV—sort of an admission of guilt . . .

      • David

        I have never seen the terms “gapers” or “wide anused” in gay press, except in porn which is hardly mainstream. There is far more talk about anal sex on a site like this than there is on a gay news/commentary site. Personals, porn and medical sites are different of course, Would it shock you to know that there are gay men who have never and will never participated in the activities y’all think of so much. This isn’t reporting, it’s conjecture. If one wants to talk about speech issues and intelligent dialogue then do so but leave the sex talk to somewhere more appropriate.

        • http://BarbWire.com/ Brian Fitzpatrick

          “Gapers” and “wide-anused” were terms used by the ancient Greeks to describe the passive parties in homosexual intercourse. Since I put those words into Socrates’ mouth, I thought it necessary to include a link to my source. I had no idea the terms are used in contemporary homosexual pornography, but I’ll take your word for it.
          I once read a list of items removed from gay men’s rectums in San Francisco emergency rooms. The living (or newly dead) gerbils were impressive, but I was dumbstruck by the toaster.

          • David

            toasters? gerbils? really? True there are some dangerous and perverse practices on the fringes of human sexuality but lets not be gullible here. Those “lists” are the equivalent of “I have a friend whose mother’s cousins…”, fiction at best, vicious lies for the most part.

      • L1011

        Yeah Charles, it seems these ‘homo-fanatics” don’t understand that a woman’s anus and mouth were created by god to receive a male during sex…right.

  • Norm

    Well written and very close to the thoughts of many. If I disagree with an “idea” and talk about it then I hate the person with the idea I disagree with? Usual tactics of the left I suppose.

    • William Ingramm

      Based on the imagined internal debate you are having with the “left”?

      First Clint Eastwood, then this guy, and now you? Usual tactics of the Right I suppose.

      • Norm

        Hello William: Attacking the person rather than the idea was the thought, mostly used by those using the playbook of socialism.
        I would recommend perhaps you give this some thought instead of attacking people instead of their ideas. I should have said usual tactics of illogical thought and insecurtiy.

  • The Skeptical Chymist

    Hate to break it to you, but the mass student walk-out on Peter LaBarbera’s talk was an example of free speech. It was non-disruptive and respectful of the system. They didn’t attempt to shout him down, or prevent him from delivering his speech. However, they did express in a rather emphatic manner that they disagree strongly with his viewpoint. This is a much better method of expressing their viewpoint than is practiced by those who attempt to shout down a speaker or to otherwise disrupt his address.

    • Martin Rizley

      Well, I guess you could call what these students did a “statement.” But it was certainly not a “discourse”– a reasoned defense of their beliefs. Intelligent people write discourses and engage in reasoned debate with their critics; shallow people who don’t have the ability to exercise linear thinking make “statements”– usually led in a mindless manner by their cookie-supplying, hug-giving, activity-directing “sheep leaders.”

      • Matthew Berry

        When defending the website of Matt Barber, the man who is currently trying to suppress the publication of a book by an evangelical Christian in support of gay rights, it’s remarkably difficult to also defend the importance of “reasoned defense of their beliefs”. Or were you unaware of this juxtaposition?

        And are you also unaware that your post has zero reasoned arguments and reduces you to name-calling, while decrying what you see as a lack of “reasoned debate” in the actions of those students?

        • Martin Rizley

          Can you give any me proof at all that Matt Barber is trying to “suppress the publication” of a book? There is a huge difference between “suppressing a publication” by seeking to have the government ban it, and refuting a publication in the public square by responding to its arguments and exposing the disinformation, lies, and logical errors that it contains. The latter activity is the very thing conservatives want– freedom of debate in the public square, not government censorship. Please show me one bit of proof that Barber is seeking government censorship of Matthew Vines’ book (I assume that is the one you are referring to.) Let me bet you won’t be able to find any proof of that allegation. I have made many reasoned arguments in comment threads refuting the arguments of those who support so-called same-sex marriage on the erroneous ground that this is a ‘constitutional right’ of homosexuals to be able to marry each other legally before the law. I didn’t repeat those arguments here, because this website contains so many articles that make them. I don’t simply say to people– “Don’t listen to anyone but me!” and then attempt to drown others out. No, I want people to THINK! I want to engage them in reasoned debate– unlike leftists who want to the government to shut down debate through ‘hate speech’ laws and censorship of ideas in adult discourse. That is an empty-headed and peurile approach to serious issues confronting our nation and culture.

          • Matthew Berry

            Suppressing publication, meaning trying to stop the book from ever seeing the light of day, is one thing. That is what Barber is trying to do. I’m not interested in your arbitrary inclusion of government censorship, I never argued he was trying to invoke such an approach.

            Responding to a published book in the public square necessarily requires the book to actually be published. This form of open debate is not what Barber is trying to do.

            Accusing the left of doing precisely what Barber is trying to do, shutting down debate rather than responding to it, is just foolish. Here is your proof:

            -Janet Mefford show: Barber – “That’s right and that’s also implying that there is somehow even ‘a there there,’ that there is a discussion to have, that this is even debatable. There is no debate… intentionally misleading and deceiving the Christian public… there is no debate”

            Matt Barber article April 17 on Townhall website –
            “Vines surprisingly admits to running an apostate enterprise… I seem to remember something somewhere about this kind of deception” followed by Isaiah 29:15.

            I’ve seen your arguments before. They are condemned by being indistinguishable from segregationist arguments of past years and past debates on marriage.

          • Martin Rizley

            You have not proven your point. All Barber is doing is saying that, from the standpoint of someone who believes in biblical authority, there is really no debate about this issue– anymore than there could be a serious debate over whether or not the Bible teaches that God is love. To express one’s opinion that there is no legitimate debate on an issue is not “suppressing publication.” Neither is the attempt to persuade the author of a deceitful book to reconsider pubishing his lies, while leaving the decision to publish or not to publish to the author, without seeking to use the arm of the law to suppress publication. Censorship or trying to ‘suppress publication’ is when the government is used as a tool to enforce suppression of ideas against the will of those who have chosen to propagate those ideas in the public square. Another form of censorship is the uncivil action of yelling or trying to drown out people who are speaking to prevent others from hearing them, as a crazed college professor did recently to some creationists who showed up on campus. These are typical tactics of totalitarian leftist who seek to suppress the publication of books or interfere with the public exercise of free speech, and you simply do not see such tactics practiced by men of integrity like Matt Barber.

          • Matthew Berry

            The nature of God is subject to debates and has been for millennia. The question predates Christianity, and brilliant Christian minds have spent lifetimes occupied by the subject.

            To express opinion is legitimate, but that’s not what Barber does. He presents his opinion as fact, with the force of Divine approval. I’ve shown above how he tries to impose his opinion even on other evangelicals.

            Barber is trying to suppress publication of the book by insulting the publishers and author, and questioning their Christian credentials. This is not an adult way to engage in debate, nor is you repeating his accusations by accusing a book you haven’t read of being “deceitful” and “lies”.

          • Martin Rizley

            First of all, I disagree with the dichotomy you make between fact and opinion, as if all judgments of value were mere subjective opinions, not facts. That reflects an erroneous view of knowledge, which believes that man’s mind is a blank slate and we can ‘know’ nothing but what our physical senses tell us- so science provides us with facts but religion can only provide us with opinions. I reject that epistemology because it is not true to the totality of our human experience. Take the statement, “Hitler’s treatment of the Jews was evil.” Now, that is a judgment of value, but what human being in his right mind would relegate it to the realm of ‘non-factual opinion’ and deny that it was a fact. If someone denies the inherent evil of Hitler’s treatment of the Jews, I will tell them they are being dishonest. They know better. God has endowed us with a faculty of conscience to discern right from wrong; our sense of absolute right and wrong is evidence of a transcendent moral order that we cannot deny. When Barber presents his moral views as factual, he is basing them on that universal moral sense of a transcendent moral order that is common all human beings, that is discernible to reason and common sense, we cannot deny without denying, to some degree, our own humanity, which naturally believes in the objective reality of good and evil. In refuting Matthew Vines, he also exposes the shallowness of the biblical exegesis on which he bases his conclusions– something Al Mohler also does in an e-book published in response to Vines’ book. Your definition of suppression, by the way, is peculiar to yourself; it is not what is generally meant by the term “suppress publication” which has nothing to do with making value judgments about the content of the book or about its author, but about using the force of the law to prevent an author from disseminating his ideas freely.

          • Matthew Berry

            It is a curious fallacy to believe that morals only have value when grounded in “facts”, rather than convictions and justification. Science does not provide us with facts, it provides us with theories which are, the consensus believes, the best explanation for phenomena. At the point where new phenomena are added or a better theory comes along, science moves on. It is a method. What religion provides is dependent on which religion we’re talking about.

            The problem with the inherent evil of Hitler’s treatment of the Jews is Christianity teaches his actions are no more or less sinful than any other action, with the exception of an adoption of servility to the Divine. Hitler, had he adopted this position, would be greeted into heaven along with all the other repentant sinners of the world. My conscience tells me this arrangement is wrong and immoral, so am I unnatural, and is calling me so moral?

            History is full of immoral actions being justified on the basis of deontological ethics, precisely because such positions tolerate no dissent or debate. It is much better to be required to justify your morality than to demand everyone accepts your own or face violence, like modern Islam does and Christianity did. It is precisely that unthinking act of following that led to the Holocaust being possible. Describing everyone who does not follow your moral code as unnatural is the first step along that road.

            The universal moral order you speak of does, at least in the case of homosexuality, not exist. There is no universal and primal agreement that homosexuality is evil. Beyond very fundamental concepts such as The Golden Rule, which are found time and time again, you are making an appeal to a universalism you cannot justify.

          • Martin Rizley

            It is only if values and morals are factual that they can apply to all people universally. Our founding fathers clearly believed in the objective and universal character of moral standards when they spoke of God as the Creator of all men, who has endowed all equally with certain unalienable rights. They did not regard that as mere opinion, but as a “self-evident truth” (in other words, a fact). That believed that the same God-given rights are immutable and universally given to all men everywhere as a matter of fact, and they believed those rights were grounded in a factual code of justice binding on all men which they call “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” That believed these divine laws are factual, immutable, and discernible to all rational beings through right reason and common sense. I agree with you about the provisional nature of scientific ‘knowledge,’ but I believe that all scientific investigation proceeds on the basis of certain assumptions about the nature of reality that are assumed to be true, such as, the rationality, order, and stability of the natural world. Yet from a philosophical standpoint, belief in the order, rationality and stability of the entire material world around us can only be justified on the assuming that it has a Divine Creator who given to the whole of the universe order, rationality, and stability.
            Where did you ever hear that Christians believe Hitler’s actions are neither more nor less sinful than any other action? Historically, Christianity has believed that some sins are worse than others– more aggravated, more heinous. All sin disqualifies us from having a right to eternal salvation on the ground of our works, just as the least little bit of rancidity disqualifies a slab of meat from being fit to eat. But it doesn’t follow that all rancid meat is equally rotten. A piece of rancid meat that has just turned bad at the back of the refrigerator is not as putrid in its decay as a piece of meat that has been lying in the summer sun for a week. There are degrees of heinousness to sin.
            Everything in our experience testifies to the existence of an objective moral order. The only question is, by what standard are we to judge good and evil? If God does not exist– if there is no Judge to whom we must answer– then ethics becomes subjective and arbitrary (As Dostoyevsky put it, “If God does not exist, everything is permissible”). But if God does exist, then we must learn from Him what constitutes right from wrong. The question then is, where has He revealed His will? and I believe there is good reason to believe that He has done so definitively through the Scriptures and through the Person of Christ, whom He raised from the dead, thereby proving to all men the absolutely authoritative, objectively true, and universally applicable nature of His teachings.

          • Matthew Berry

            It is odd that you require your morals to apply universally, while at the same time refusing to debate their validity.

            There is no doubt among every reputable historian in the field that when the Founding Fathers spoke of Providence and God, they meant it in the context of enlightenment and humanist philosophy. Many of them were actively hostile to established religions, which at the time were firmly against the concept of democracies and personal freedoms. While you might imply that the God spoken of in the Constitution and other documents were the God of Christianity, the association is never actually made, and much of the language is in the style of deistic philosophies of the time. Everything you say after that starting point is conjecture.

            A divine creator is not part of the axiomatic framework of empiricism, and if one were it does not imply such a creator would be one reflected in any religion. An increasingly large body of science is described according to principles of uncertainty and chaos, in the face of order, and no astronomer believes the universe is anything approaching stable.

            I agree that historical Christianity does not follow modern nihilist evangelism, I was responding to the latter, not the former. At the same time, your analogue does not reflect Christian teachings post-Augustine, and does not answer the morally grotesque concept of a genuinely repentant Hitler being granted eternal bliss.

            There is no actual evidence for an objective moral order, beyond basic concepts such as the Golden Rule. Dostoyevsky’s work is a good example of the stark reality faced by one forced to justify fundamental beliefs, along with other existentialists such as Kierkegaard, the essays of CS Lewis, and later French thinkers. Dostoyevsky, by the way, poses the question of everything being permissible as a rhetorical device to launch his characters into a process of justification and affirmation, which is precisely the opposite of a deontological approach. These are all examples of the fantastic struggle man has to find meaning in an indifferent universe, as disparate as the meanings those great thinkers found. Compare, for example, the conclusions of Camus and Kierkegaard.

            While your own personal experience may lead you to a particular conclusion, I have yet to see a convincing argument to extend it to the lives of others. It is certainly not the case that existential angst leads to a certain conclusion, and appeals to “everyone” and “everything in our experience” and the idea that your opinions are the inevitable conclusion of anything but a diseased mind makes a mockery of adult discussion.

          • http://BarbWire.com/ Brian Fitzpatrick

            Have you read any contemporary Christian apologetics, Matthew? It might be an interesting, even novel, field in which to expand your erudition. I find raw empirical evidence compelling, so I recommend people read Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict. At the very least, after reading McDowell, you’ll understand why Christians believe a universal moral order exists, to which all men are answerable whether they believe in God or not.
            Regarding God hypothetically granting salvation to Hitler, what better way for God to demonstrate the immense depth of His grace than by saving the very worst human being? God’s salvation plan is not about justice for human beings, rewarding the good ones and punishing the bad, as He considers us all guilty and under a death sentence if we have ever committed a single sin. His purpose in granting anybody salvation is to display His mercy and grace. It’s explained in Ephesians 1 and 2.

          • Martin Rizley

            I totally agree with you, Brian. The raw empirical evidence for the resurrection is compelling. I was simply challenging Matthew’s commitment to pure empiricism, which says that we can know nothing but what our five senses perceive. There is an inherent contradiction, however, in claiming that we can know nothing but what our sense perceive; for then the question is, how do you know that? How can you know on the basis of sensory experience that nothing can be an object of knowledge but what the senses perceive? There is an inherent contradiction in that philosophy.

          • Matthew Berry

            How do you know that? Because, so far, nothing demonstrably requires more. If what you want to do is drill down to the axioms of empiricism, then of course they are there and they are held as self-evident assumptions. You are perfectly entitled to reject that framework and build an epistemology of your own. For much of Christian history, heavily influenced by Plato, that is precisely what Christian thinkers did.

            I don’t think MacDowell’s position on Kantian thought makes sense, at least as far as Kant was concerned, I do not remember him claiming to have knowledge of the unknowable. It would be good if MacDowell explained how he got to that conclusion. Maybe he does? I haven’t read his book.

            It isn’t reasonable to pretend that empiricism is not built on assumptions. So is every epistemology. The question is how are you convinced to adopt one over another, while acknowledging they are all on a fundamental level matters of assumption?

          • Martin Rizley

            How does Kant claim to have knowledge of the unknowable?. Well, he claims to know what the limits of our knowledge are, by saying, “we can know the world as our mind perceives it to be, but not as it is in itself. We can know our own sensory perceptions, but we cannot know anything that lies outside those perceptions.” But that in itself constitutes an enormous claim to knowledge. As Ravi Zacharias puts it, “Kant’s agnosticism is really self-defeating. It is not possible to posit anything about ultimate reality unless one knows something about ultimate reality. To say, as Kant did, that one cannot cross the line of appearances is to cross the line in order to say it. In other words, it is not possible to know the difference between the appearance and reality unless one knows enough about both to distinguish between them.”
            Kant is able to make this claim based on a redefinition of the word “know.” As H. A. Pritchard explains, “Knowledge is essentially discovery, or the finding of what already is. If a reality could only be or come to be in virtue of some activity or process on the part of the mind, that activity or process would not be “knowing,” but “making” or “creating,” and to make and to know must in the end be admitted to be mutually exclusive.” Because Kant believes knowledge is a creation of the mind, what Kant should say in response to Christian truth claims is this: “Christians claim to know something about reality as it is in itself. However, from the perspective of the world as my mind perceives it, I know only that which my mind creates. From that perspective, I am in no position to critique Christian’s claims– to say anything for them or against them. That would be to make a statement about reality as it is in itself– which I am in no position to do. So I put my hand over my mouth and say nothing.” Instead, Kant tells Christians their truth claims are false or that they cannot be known, That in itself is a claim to the knowledge about the limits of knowledge, which is a statement about reality as it is “in itself.” To make any assertion about the limits of knowledge, Kant has to step outside the boundaries of his self-created world of self-generated knowledge to which he has in theory confined himself, in order to make a comment on reality as it is ‘in itself.’ That is patently self-contradictory. Let Kantians put their hands over their mouth, and say nothing at all about reality as it is ‘in itself,’ including the limits of knowledge. By their own admission, they are in no position to contradict the truth claims of Christians or to tell Christians ‘you cannot know that.’ To make that assertion is to assert something about reality as it is “in itself,” and in order to do that, they have to step momentarily outside the world of their subjective “perceptions,” thus showing the inconsistency and inherent self-contradictions in their world view.

          • Matthew Berry

            Kant says that because he accepts his own epistemology, under which terms his statement holds true. It is not a contradiction of his philosophy, since he’s not actually proposing anything, instead requiring agnosticism on issues which fall outside of the scope of possible knowledge.

            Also, you’re only talking of one sort of knowledge according to Kant. He had other forms, particularly apriori analytic arguments, for the Divine.

            Zacharius is confusing terms. Every time I stumble across something he’s said he does that, most notoriously when arbitrarily demanding any “legitimate” religion must answer existential questions tailored to Christianity.

          • Martin Rizley

            You say that Kant is not proposing anything. But by saying that we must be agnostic on “issues outside the scope of possible knowledge,” he is proposing to know something that he could not possibly know according to his epistemology– namely, the limits of possible knowledge. That is a self-contradictory position. Why so?. Essentially, Kant asserts that a person’s mind is active in knowing the world, and that the mind takes sensory data and constructs knowledge of the world by filtering that sensory data through categories of the mind that enable human beings to make sense of the world around them. Knowledge is a construction of the mind, made and not simply discovered. Thus, what we know is not the world as it is “in itself” but the world as it is “to us.” An illustration would be a person who looks at the world from the moment of his birth through a set of rose-colored glasses. He sees the world, but only as it appears to him filtered through the tinted lenses he is wearing. What the world looks like “in itself” he does not know, nor can he know– for he sees it only through his lenses. Now, if Kant’s epistemology were true– if knowledge of the world were constructed by our minds so that we only know the world as it is “to us,” not as it is “in itself,” then any statement made about the world “as it is in itself” would be a denial of that very epistemology. Is that not what you do when you speak of “issues which fall outside the scope of possible knowledge”? How can you know what issues fall outside the scope of possible knowledge? Your epistemology does not allow you that knowledge. You should speak rather of “issues which fall outside the scope of MY knowledge based on the limits of MY epistemology.” That is all you can speak of. You cannot define the limits of possible knowledge for other people. Think of a man born blind whose other physical senses function perfectly . He can never say, “The issue of color is an issue that falls outside the scope of possible knowledge.” All he can say is “For me, the issue of color is an issue that falls outside the scope of personal experiential knowledge, since I lack an organ of sensory perception– my sight.” He cannot comment on whether the issue of color falls outside other people’s knowledge– for other people may perceive things that he does not perceive based on his physical handicap. For you to say, “Issues of ultimate meaning and value fall outside the scope of knowledge” is really to deny, therefore, your professed epistemology, for such a statement is a comment on reality as it is “in itself.”.

          • Matthew Berry

            Yes, I’ve read quite a few.

            The contradiction of the Divine embodying both universal justice and universal grace is quite well demonstrated by your post. And as I’ve said above, the moral nihilism of your position is not moral at all to me. Neither is a morality constructed around apriori acceptance that however the Divine acts is good.

            This contradiction has exercised Christian thinkers for almost as long as Christianity has existed, and I’m sure it’ll continue to occupy for as long as Christianity lasts.

          • Martin Rizley

            Although some of the founders were more Unitarian than Christian in their beliefs, they regarded themselves as Christians. Even Jefferson, who despised orthodox beliefs about Jesus. His miracles, atoning death, resurrection, etc.– considered himself a follower of the ‘ethical teachings of Christ’ which he believed had the support of reason and common sense. Many of the founders were professing Christians. Your statement would suggest otherwise, but then I read what some of the founders themselves said, and I get a very different picture than the one you paint, as if they intended to found a ‘godless government.’ Consider the following:
            “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” — George Washington
            Now I ask you, how can a Deist ‘first principle’ have a will to be obeyed, provide benefits for which we ought to be thankful, or hear our prayers for His protection and personal favor? That doesn’t sound very Deistic to me.
            “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable.”
            - George Washington
            True religion affords to government its surest support.
            - George Washington
            The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.
            - John Adams
            The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.
            - John Adams
            Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
            - John Adams
            Even Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying, “The Christian religion is the best religion that has ever been given to man.”
            So whatever those you call ‘reputable historians’ may say to the contrary, when I listen to founding fathers speak for themselves, I get a different picture than the one historical revisionists wish to paint.
            If you admit that a moral order exists– which you seem to admit by mentioning the Golden Rule– then you are admitting that at least one ethical teaching is ‘factually’ true in the sense that it applies universally to all people everywhere. By what authority do you know that, and by what authority do you limit moral absolutes to that one principle? How can you be so sure that there are no other moral absolutes, when your empirical principles inspire in you such skepticism of everything that cannot be perceived by the five senses?
            You say “I have yet to see a convincing argument” supporting a belief in moral absolutes (beyond the Golden Rule, which for some inexplicable reason, you seem to regard as absolute). But on the basis of your skeptical principles, you could not possibly be convinced by any argument that would appeal to anything other than the empirical criteria you demand as proof. You have chosen in an a priori manner not to ‘see’ any proof that violates your arbitrarily chosen epistemology, which sees empiricism as the path to knowledge. What possible ground do you have for such blind confidence in empiricism as the only path to knowledge? How can you justify your belief in the Golden Rule on the grounds of empiricism. Is the Golden Rule ‘true for you’ only, or is it universally true for all human beings? How can you possibly know that, or anything at all,for that matter, given your skeptical principles? How can you be so certain that we must be uncertain about the factual nature of everything that is not an object of sensory experience? Can you justify your dogmatic certainty about the need to be uncertain about the factual nature of value judgments? How can you be so certain about that? Isn’t that certainty a violation of the very principles you seem to espouse? .

          • Matthew Berry

            There are all kinds of Jefferson quotes we could roll out on his opinion of Christian ethics.

            I think the First Amendment demonstrates adequately the wariness the Founders had of theocrats.

            The Golden Rule is an example of an evolved and fundamental understanding of what it takes for social animals to co-exist. You can see it in action in higher primate societies too. This concept does not require any originator, any more than an eye requires a creator to evolve, and it is fundamentally an integral requirement of being the social animals we are.

            How can I be sure there are not moral absolutes? I cannot. To argue that negative is illogical, I’m sure you know. It is up to you to justify your position. To criticize axioms as being assumptions is inadequate for as long as you also rely on axioms yourself, and how could you possibly not? Every epistemology relies on axioms.

            You seem to have stumbled into a misunderstanding of my position. Empiricism is a tool for understanding the world around us. Morality does not exist as a Platonic form to be empirically observed. Humanist morality and utilitarianism are not empirically derived philosophies, although they are influenced by the same principles that the world around us is worth engaging with. Empiricism is uniquely useful in engaging with the phenomena of the world around us, but has no application in the field of mathematics, for example. That does not mean mathematics is useless, but you seem to think I am arguing it does.

            I justify my belief in teleological morality based on its capacity to do less harm, as a consequence of its necessity to be justified and given moral value. On the other hand, deontological morality simply denies there is a discussion to be had, imparting inherent value to actions, however cruel and backward they may appear.

            Finally, it is not clear that adherents of absolutist morality subscribe to anything of the sort. If we take Christianity as an example: most of the eternal moral truths of Christianity are evolving constructs that change along with their societies. Slavery was defended by perceived eternal Biblical truths, now it is absolutely not. Women were oppressed according to eternal Biblical truths, now with the exception of lunatics like Bryan Fischer they are not.

          • Martin Rizley

            The first amendment needs to be read in its historical context to be interpreted honestly and accurately, and the quotes I gave, along with many, many others, provide that context. It is clear that the founders did not wish to create an anti-religious society in which laws are rejected because they are perceived to imply a divine order or design to human social relations. Believing as they did, in natural law, they took the very opposite position– that human laws MUST be founded on “the laws of nature and nature’s God”– but not on the tenets of any one creed. The founders believed that divine laws governing the social order are discernible to reason and common sense, and for that reason, they can be the foundation of our civil code– because they are commended by reason and common sense, and are commonly acknowledged by citizens holding to different religious creeds. The purpose of the first amendment was to prevent the federal government giving “legal ascendancy” to one religious creed over another, by establishing a “church of America,” as England had a “church of England.” In other words, they did not believe that the federal government should favor any religious group over another; that’s why they said that Congress should make no law establishing religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
            As far as your teleological view of ethics, I believe that a very strong case can be made looking strictly at the ‘end’ or societal consequence of laws concerning marriage, that it is in the interest of societies to bestow on monogamous heterosexual relatoinships a name, legal status, and privileges, that it denies to all other forms of sexual relationship. If you look at the course of world history as a vast laboratory, we can see where societies that have valued and esteemed monogamous, heterosexual marriage over sexually deviant relationships have prospered, whereas societies that regarded all forms of sexual behavior, gradually dwindled. That is such a patent fact of history, it cannot be disputed. It is a matter of common sense. The best guarantee for a nation’s future prosperity and strength– militarily, economically, socially, and culturally– is for lots of heterosexual couples in that society to have lots of kids, and for those kids to be raised in a loving, stable environment by a mom and a dad. I take that as a self-evident truth, just as you take the Golden Rule as a self-evident truth. If you ask me to cite some empirical study proving this point, I will ask you to cite some empirical study that proving the validity of the Golden Rule. I bet you can’t cite one right now at this moment. Raher, you base your view on the Golden Rule based on common sense and observation. So I am so bold as to claim that my view on the beneficial effects of heterosexual marriage over sexual deviancy is confirmed by common sense and observation, just as you say about the Golden Rule. “You can see it in action,” are your own words. It is the height of insanity for a society to place all forms of sexual relationship on a level and say they are all equally deserving of the same legal benefits, or that they should all be legalized. Right now, some LGBT activists are arguing in favor of legalizing sexual relationships between adults and children (see recent article on this website proving that point). Before long, some will be arguing in favor of bestiality, and demanding the ‘scientific evidence’ that proves bestiality is detrimental to society. We need to get back to seeing monogamous heterosexual marriage as a foundational institution necessary for our society’s stability and future prosperity, and for the preservation of our culture over other cultures that could easily threaten to wipe us out through their superior fertility rate and strong sense of biologically based gender identity– as opposed to the 50+ man-invented gender identities; listed on Facebook. A gender-confused and infertile society is a dying society– that is sheer common sense, proven by the events of history and evident today, as well. “You can see it in action.”.

          • Matthew Berry

            I can link an empirical study on the Golden Rule if you are able to log in to Web of Knowledge, otherwise I’ll paste the abstract here.

            Can you link an empirical study for your one-man-one-woman limited view of marriage being a key factor in successful societies? “That is a patent fact of history, it cannot be disputed” is not an argument. I also find it hard to accept that you’ll find anthropologists or historians to agree that marriage norms can be so instrumental in shaping the success of societies, let alone the variations in roles and further complications your definition contains. They would also stress to you the distinction between child-rearing norms and marriage norms, which you’re lumping in to one concept.

            Further, your dichotomy between “anything goes” and your particular definition of marriage is a false one. By definition, deviancy is negative, as is your measure of “societal consequences”. Even accepting the terms of your discussion, the rise of post-Christian marriages which respect women, children and “deviant” homosexuality has correlated with the most rapid improvement of human living standards and lowest rates of violent crimes ever. Examples of huge improvements in living standards invariably are accompanied by the loosening of “traditional” marriage values, for example in Bangladesh.

            The “slippery slope” argument is inadequate and irrational. It was used to justify segregation, the oppression of women, restrictions on inter-faith marriage, and a thousand other advances in human decency we take for granted. It has no value apart from scaremongering, based on notions that nobody has advocated.

            Your “common sense and universal experience of nations” is neither common sense, based as they are on Divine revelation, nor universal, as sexual ethics throughout history show. Your notions of culture are Victorian and naive, as a monolithic and unchanging edifice that must either be eroded and replaced entirely by cultural enemies or triumph unchanged forever.

          • Martin Rizley

            I was not able to find the article you mentioned on the Web of Knowledge (now, Web of Science) website. Perhaps I should have asked you if you believe in the Golden Rule based only on empirical studies– or did you happen to believe in the Golden Rule before you ran across those studies? If so, what was the basis at that time of your belief in the golden rule? Common sense, personal observation, life experience, reason? I’ll be honest with you, that when it comes to determining the effects of immoral conduct on the life of individuals and nations or ‘soft sciences’ like sociology, I do not place the same supreme confidence that you apparently do in controlled scientific studies, for several reasons. For one thing, controlled studies are often questionable in the methods they employ; they are often conducted in a way that reflects the biased assumptions, values, and beliefs of the researcher doing the study– so the results are not nearly as ‘neutral’ and ‘unbiased’ as they claim to be. Controversy often surrounds the findings of studies. Scientists themselves often do not agree on the reliability of particular studies (e. g., the Regner study on same-sex marriage). Second, “controlled studies” are a relatively recent phenomenon in history. No such studies, to my knowledge, were conducted in ancient Greece or Rome, or the ancient Middle East. What we have are historical records of the past; yet it is those very records that provide such a rich resource for inferring– again through reason and common sense– what societal factors led to the decline and fall of those societies. A third reason I don’t put such inordinate confidence in these studies is that they are often based on empiricist assumptions which by their very nature are atheistic. As a Christian, I believe that knowledge begins with God, not man, and that God chooses to communicate truth to man through various means– not only by scientific studies, but by the ‘school of life’ itself and supremely by His life-giving Word. He has endowed man with the faculty of reason and a conscience, and the ability to observe the world and reflect on what he finds in it in a humble, thoughtful and prayerful way, seeking knowledge from the God of knowledge, He expects us to seek knowledge in that way– by acknowledging the principle that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” When we do that, we will appreciate science as a tool for discerning data, we will not make a god of science, or regard it as the only reliable vehicle for knowledge. To throw out the divine gifts of reason, conscience, common sense, personal observation, reflection, prayer, and take the position that truth belongs only to the intellectual elite who possess the scientific tools for arriving at truth– no matter how corrupt, self-centered, or immoral they may be in their personal lives– is a patently absurd position to take, and a sure recipe for plunging oneself into moral darkness. I reject strict empiricism, therefore, as a sound philosophical foundation for arriving at truth. It is too reductionistic, and too arbitrary at times in its research methods or value judgments, to be reliable.
            If you want to look, however, at some controlled studies on the beneficial affects of traditional family structure on society, look at the articles on the Heritage Foundation. They have a ton of researched articles on this subject, with lots of charts.

          • Matthew Berry

            Web of Science articles:
            Behavioral evolution. The evolution of the golden rule – Gretchen Vogel.
            Explaining moral religions – Baumard and Boyer.

            I think to tar all Social Sciences studies with the same brush as Regnerus is quite grossly unfair.

            Empiricist assumptions are not atheistic, they are agnostic, in the same way as Kantian synthetic epistemology does not have anything to say on the Divine. Saying nothing, or acknowledging the limits of a system’s approach, cannot reasonably be inferred as a comment on what lies outside those limits. Hence those approaches are agnostic on those issues.

            An exposition of your position should, and I’m happy to see it does in this case, start with “I believe”. I took issue with prior claims to self-evident truths. My own opinions also start with “I believe”. I do not think I came to the issue of ethics with marked prejudices, apart from a youthful disdain for authority. My belief in teleological ethics is based on the question of what is the best I can see from the options, much like an empirical approach to understanding reality. I believe that the lack of distinction between ethics and understandings of temporal reality inherent in Abrahamic religions is profoundly damaging, particularly when antipathetic religions clash, and most historical plunges into darkness, abandoning of reason, common sense, and immorality begin when these absolutist but opposed theologies clash.

            In a democracy everyone contributes to moral norms. Empirical study requires a level of education most do not attain, and to argue that a high-school dropout or attendee of Liberty University should be treated equally to a professor of genetics on issues such as evolution is absurd.

            I have not said empirical study is the only way to obtain knowledge. Empirical study provides working theories based on the best of our thinking to describe physical reality. It has little utility in a whole range of subjects. Fundamentally, though, empiricism is an approach based on axioms which can be rejected, like any other system. This, if it is a failing of empiricism, is a failing of any attempt to describe reality. Including yours. So they’re equally flawed.

            I do not believe that empiricism is in conflict with your theology. They are two systems attempting to explain two completely different and incompatible issues. Religion is concerned with transcendental facts, empiricism is concerned with physical facts, and “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”.

            The Heritage Foundation is not an objective source of studies, nor are those studies peer-reviewed.

          • Martin Rizley

            I believe that hard agnosticism of Kant equates on a practical level to atheism– at least, as far as belief in the God of the Bible goes– for the Bible does not speak of a God who is unknown but a God who has clearly revealed His character and divine attributes to all men everywhere through the created order, so that all are “without excuse” when they do not acknowledge Him, give thanks to Him and worship Him. The biblical God is One whose “invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Consequently, I see no practical difference between atheism and the hard agnosticism of Kant who declares that God’s existence lies outside the realm of those things which can be known with certainty. I also believe his epistemology is self-contradictory, for it is clear to me that if empiricism were true, the last thing in the world that you could know is that it is true, for this reason– if you say that all our knowledge is limited to what our senses reveal to us as filtered through the categories of the mind (in other words, that knowledge is manufactured in part by our own minds) then what you really saying is that all our knowledge of the world is subjective– we know the world as it is “to us” (the viewing subjects), but not as it is in itself. But if that were true, you could not know it to be true, for any claim to know the limits of knowledge is a claim to know something about the world as it is in itself- that is, objective reality.. Strict empiricism, therefore, as a theory of knowledge, is an inherently self-contradictory position to take. The most an empiricist could possibly say, given his assumed epistemological limitations is, “Within the framework of my epistemology, I cannot know anything “objectively” about the character of the world in which I live– not even what things lie outside the limits of what can be known. All I can talk about is the surface appearance of things– how the world appears to me. So I have no ground to speak for or against the claims of Christians, who claim to have objective knowledge about the world as it is in itself. I can only say in response to those claims that I have nothing to say.” Only a Christian epistemology allows for any objective knowledge of the world as it is “in itself,” for Christianity teaches that knowledge begins with God who knows everything, and who imparts to His creatures knowledge by a process of divine “revelation.” “In His light, we see light.” God imparts knowledge to man through various means– through the creation itself, which man, as a rational being, can comprehend to some degree; through rational reflection on the world, whose character as a mutable, dependent, ordered entity makes known to us the existence of an immutable, independent, all-powerful, eternal being who gives the world its order; and supremely, through special divine revelation that comes from the Scriptures and from Christ. These channels of divine revelation provide us with an objectively true, though not exhaustively true, knowledge of the world as it is “in itself,” not just as it “appears” to be to us. It is only when we trust in the self-revealing God of creation and Scripture as the source of all knowledge and choose to depend on His prior exhaustive knowledge of the world as the foundation of our subsequent limited knowledge of the world, that we can speak with internal consistency of the world as it is “in itself.’ An empiricist who does that is contradicting his own system of belief. A Christian who does that is not. That’s because it is only through faith in an infinite God who is the source of all knowledge, that we are able to ground our finite perspective of the world in an infinite reference point, something that the Kantian theory of knowledge does not allow, limiting all knowledge to the realm of the subjective.

          • Matthew Berry

            You’re entitled to believe that, but it’s not what it means and it’s not what Kant explicitly said. You are aware he was an apologist for Christianity, and a Christian himself? Kant is also not an empiricist. Quite the opposite, his whole point of synthetic aposteriori knowledge was to demonstrate its limits, which you’ve helpfully pointed out, and to turn instead to apriori forms of knowledge as a “superior” form of knowledge. He is, if anything, a neo-Platonist in the Christian tradition.

            The lack of Christian teaching in the majority of the world’s people is evidence enough of the false nature of the claim to be a universal teaching, and the implications for the ignorant are morally outrageous.

            Your arguments for the limits of empiricism are explicitly acknowledged in science’s use of theories instead of proofs in the sense used by non-empirical studies, such as mathematics. I’ve already mentioned the axioms of empiricism, criticizing them for their nature begs the question. I’ve already said that empiricism has nothing to say on transcendental issues, and a divine presence inferred from our study of reality is necessarily deistic. There is no argument from reality that advances deism to your theism.

            All theisms claim an epistemology which reveals the true nature of reality. Christian epistemology is a concept borrowed from Plato and Pythagoras. The whole language of “in His light…” is Platonic. You are aware of this? Christian epistemology is almost entirely based on Plato.

          • Martin Rizley

            Actually, my statement that “in His light we see light” is taken from a verse in the Hebrew Scriptures. (“For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light”– Psalm 36:9, NIV). The idea that God is the source of all knowledge and that He communicates knowledge of reality to His finite creatures out of His own infinite knowledge of all things, is a Scriptural idea. Because God knows all things and can communicate truth to rational creatures made in His image, we can know truly, though not exhaustively, the true character of God and His creation, including the origin and destiny of the world, right and wrong, life and death, heaven and hell, the way of salvation, the character and works of God, etc. With God as an infinite reference point in which to ground our finite perspective, we can speak in terms of what is.

            I understand that Kant thought that he was ‘saving religion’ by placing belief in God outside of the realm of rationality and presenting the existence of God as a theoretical ‘postulate’ that was practically needed to ungird ethics. But by erecting a wall between the phenomenal and noumenal realms, and by saying that certain knowledge belongs only to the former but not to the latter, he laid the seeds of skepticism that have come to full bloom in our day. Nowadays, multitudes of people believe that only scientific matters are matters of proven fact and beliefs about non-material realities– such as God, Christ, the afterlife, moral values– are matter unproven opinion or speculation. As Ravi Zacharias puts it, “In many ways, Kant is the single progenitor of modern man’s confidence in the power of reason to grapple with material things and its incompetence to deal with anything beyond the material.” In that sense, his philosophy promotes practical atheism, for he affirms the exact opposite of what Paul says in Romans 1:18ff when he affirms that God clearly reveals the certain fact of His existence to all men through the created order. His invisible attributes are “clearly seen,” therefore, by the things that are made, rendering all men “without excuse” when they deny the existence of God or regard His existence as unproven opinion. For the psalmist as well, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.” The psalmist is saying the existence and attributes of God– His divine power, majesty, beauty, rationality– these things are proven by the material creation just as much as Jesus’ resurrection was proven by the “many infallible proofs” He gave after rising from the dead, when He showed Himself repeatedly to His disciples to be alive from the dead.

            For Kant to draw a dichotomy between matters of religious belief as mere opinions and matters of science as matters of incontrovertible fact is totally unjustified, for both scientific theories and religious beliefs make presuppositions about the nature of reality that are not in themselves objects of sensory perception. The scientist must presuppose for example, the continuing order and uniformity of the universe in its various operations throughout space and time in order to formulate his theories. His assumptions are metaphysical in nature, and not, strictly speaking, maters of sensory perception. So his conclusions require “faith” no less than those of a person who holds to a religious belief in God, moral value, etc.– whose beliefs are confirmed by evidence, no less than those of the scientist. Although God, moral value, heaven, hell, etc. are not objects of sensory perception, it does not follow that belief in these realities is outside of rationality, simply because they lack empirical demonstration. They are rational, because the evidence confirms them.

            Kant should have realized that his theory of knowledge destroys certainty of everything– even science. For, as John Blanchard says, “if everything our senses pick up is conditioned by our minds, how can we have clear and certain knowledge of anything?” As John Blanchard put it, “Kant claimed to have torpedeod the traditional arguments for God’s existence, what he put in their place was scarcely more seaworthy.”

      • tomd

        Reasoned debates don’t fix injustice. It didn’t work in the civil rights era either. People who get upset over “tone” enforce the status quo.

      • The Skeptical Chymist

        I’m glad to hear that you are all in favor of a discourse, allowing people on both sides of an issue to provide a reasoned defense of their beliefs. Does this mean that you will now come down against the recently enacted Russian law that prevents any discussion on the topic of gay rights, even something as innocuous as a T-shirt with a printed message (maybe just an = sign)?

        No, I didn’t think so…

        • Martin Rizley

          I do not believe in censorship of ideas communicated between adults. Sexual propaganda of children is another matter. Call it censorship if you will, but most civilized people have agreed that not everything suitable for adult discourse is appropriate for children. So I fully support Russia’s law banning homosexual propaganda of minors. I believe this is a matter of reason and common sense, and so do millions of other people.

          • The Skeptical Chymist

            The law may SAY it is only banning homosexual propaganda for minors, but in actuality it restricts all discussion. Even advocating for gay marriage (which is clearly aimed applicable to people above the age of consent to marry) is a criminal offense in Russia.

          • Martin Rizley

            I didn’t say I support every aspect of Russia’s law, but I do support the banning of homosexual propaganda to minors in tax-payer funded institutions.

          • The Skeptical Chymist

            Thanks for that clarification, Martin.

    • thisoldspouse

      I guess “taking your ball and going home” from a ball game is also supposed to be some type of statement that you won the game, right?

      • tomd

        No, but it’s the appropriate response when the game is rigged and the other side cheats, however.

  • Martin Rizley

    Wonderful satire lampooning the tactics of Marxist professors and their shallow, self-indulgent, sexually immoral student “disciples” who are sitting ducks to be manipulated by leftist agitators and propagandists. The latter are masters at using all the tools of sophistry to deceive their youthful lap dogs– ad hominem arguments, emotional appeals, half truths presented as whole truths, catchy sound bites presented as arguments, etc.

    • OnlyMyHumbleOpinion

      Don’t forget channeling Greek philosphers, discussions of gaping anuses, and multiple mentions of semi-nude men on websites. Great reporting and raising the standards of the writing at Barbwire.

      • http://BarbWire.com/ Brian Fitzpatrick

        The first reference to semi-nude men was a polite way of warning readers that if they clicked on the news story, they would encounter salacious material they might find offensive. The second reference was a humorous way of shedding light on the ancient Greek perspective on homosexuality, which viewed homosexuals, particularly those who received anal penetration, as sexually obsessed.

        • OnlyMyHumbleOpinion

          I know, my friend. I was just ribbing Barbwire a little. On a serious note, the research tends to support that the Greeks did NOT have a negative view of homosexuality. While many texts mention it, I like the succintness of Wikipedia’s version:

          “The ancient Greeks did not conceive of sexual orientation as a social identifier as modern Western societies have done. Greek society did not distinguish sexual desire or behavior by the gender of the participants, but rather by the role that each participant played in the sex act, that of active penetrator or passive penetrated.[5] This active/passive polarization corresponded with dominant and submissive social roles: the active (penetrative) role was associated with masculinity, higher social status, and adulthood, while the passive role was associated with femininity, lower social status, and youth.”

        • Matthew Berry

          “the ancient Greek perspective on homosexuality, which viewed homosexuals, particularly those who received anal penetration, as sexually obsessed.”

          Firstly, talking about an ancient Greek opinion betrays a lack of education on the subject.

          Secondly, neither the Athenians nor any other city held that opinion.

    • Matthew Berry

      1. Ad hominem arguments – “Marxist professors and their shallow, self-indulgent, sexually immoral student disciples” “youthful lap dogs”.

      2. Emotional arguments – Charged terms such as “Marxist” professors, “agitators and propagandists”, void of meaning due to such hyperbole.

      3. Half-truths presented as whole truths – Can’t actually find one in your post, as low as the bar is set.

      4. Catchy sound bites – See 1 and 2.

      Does the fact that you engage in exactly the approach you accuse others of engaging in bother you at all?

      • thisoldspouse

        No hyperbole at all. Many of these liberal professors would be honored to be labeled as Marxists.

        • Matthew Berry

          As always with your posts: evidence, please.

          It’s a myth of the evangelical right that professors who do not share their opinions do so not because of arguments which would have to be engaged with and refuted, but because they’re a caricature of close-minded anti-theistic zeal. It’s not true, and the fact it’s not true is best demonstrated on totemic issues like evolution: most evolutionary biologists are theists, but most evangelical polemicists see evolutionary biologists as anti-theist destroyers of morality.

          PS- Marxists should not be associated with Communism as we’ve seen it so wretchedly put into practice, least of all when labeling principled and high-minded professors. Marx said remarkably little about what he thought society should look like, and a lot about what was wrong with society as he saw it. Kind of like many Marxist professors.

          • Martin Rizley

            There is such a thing as cultural Marxism; and most liberal college professors I have known are well described by that term.

      • Martin Rizley

        I have described these people based on their behavior. The difference between them and myself is– they had an opportunity to engage their ideological enemy when Peter LaBarbera came on their campus, by challenging his ideas and giving counter arguments against them. Instead, they just walked away from debate. On the other hand, if I attend some lecture of someone I don’t agree with, I am willing to challenge him– to explain my position, defend it, and if I make a personal charge against someone, I will back it up with evidence why the charge is justified. In other words, I will put forth arguments based on reason, common sense, history, science, life experience, etc., with someone with whom I disagree– I will not simply walk away from engagement while uttering epithets, as these people did– when they had the opportunity to engage Mr. LaBarbera in debate. .

        • Matthew Berry

          You have thrown around ad hominems and emotional arguments while deploring the left for doing precisely that, failed to make a single statement of fact or otherwise to be judged, and filled your post with overwrought phrases such as “Marxist professors”. This is what you make of your opportunities to put forward a reasoned argument.

          Despite that I am expected to believe you would actually, despite evidence to the contrary, that you would engage in a mature debate? Prove it, you haven’t so far.

          • Martin Rizley

            By the term Marxist, I am not so much referring to a professor’s economic views, but his/her cultural views. The term cultural Marxist is used frequently to describe those who want to tear down the existing culture (especially a Judeo-Christian culture) on the basis that it is seen as oppressive, etc. Their aim is to establish a totally secularized culture in which religion and religious views have a marginalized role, as Marxists desire (the free expression of ‘worship’ in Marxist countries is quarantined to church buildings, and the public square wiped clean of religious discourse). This professor showed herself to be a cultural Marxist when she lamented the “freedom of speech” that allowed the Traditional Values Club to invite a speaker on campus who espoused Traditional Values. That one statement alone show that she is a cultural Marxist, who does not want speakers promoting Traditional Values to have a voice on the college campus. The fact that in that whole group of students, not one apparently had the intellectual curiosity or independence of mind to stay and ask Mr. LaBarbera questions is the evidence I put forward to say that these students were shallow. That is not what one would expect from a group of young people, whom one would hope would be naturally curious to hear viewpoints they disagree with. One would hope that an intellectually student might have deep enough convictions to challenge viewpoints he regards as dangerous and false in the public square– and walking away from debate is not, in my view, “challenging a viewpoint.”
            I could say much more, but I am short on time this afternoon. Perhaps, if you respond to this comment, I can respond to you later when I have the freedom in my schedule to do so.

          • Matthew Berry

            Cultural Marxism is secular, but being secular doesn’t mean being Marxist. You don’t seem to understand that, or you do, but choose to tar your opponents as “Marxist”. In the case of the college class walking out, it’s hardly different to the response a white supremacist, or a misogynist can expect to receive. If LaBarbera wanted to have a debate, he could. So far I haven’t seen him do so, despite the historical precedents of informative debates
            involving apologists such as William Lane Craig.

            By your standards, the US is a culturally Marxist country with its separation of Church and State. This absolutist distinction leaves no space for the actual humanist roots of modern Western governments. You also do not seem to understand the distinction between Traditional Values, as you call them, and modern evangelical dominionism.

            Like I’ve said before, it is inconsistent to support Barber, a man who is currently trying to shut down a book because its content disagrees with his own opinions, and bemoan the lack of open-minded behavior from those students.

          • tomd

            I actually don’t know anyone who wants to “quarantine” religion to church buildings. This strikes me as a violation of the first amendment.

            Are you not allowed to practice your religion at home? Is someone stopping you from praying at the mall? Can you read the Bible in line at the DMV? Can you preach on street corners?

            I can only see two things you can’t do – you can’t get the government to promote your religion at the expense of other faiths, and you can’t use your religion as a justification to break the law. Other than that, seems wide open to me.

          • Martin Rizley

            I agree with you about the government having no role promoting one religious creed over another– it is not the government’s buisness to dictate matters of religious belief to the citizens. But I wonder what you mean by your last statement about not using religion as a justification to break the law. What exactly do you mean by that? Do you mean that I cannot base resistance to an unjust or immoral law on the moral values that are taught by my religion and which have the support of reason and common sense– values shared by people of many different religious confessions and regarded by many people as self-evident truths? You know our founders did believe that certain things are self-evident, and they believed moral values that have the support of reason and common sense provide a legitimate ground for obeying, or in some cases, for disobeying, man’s laws– even though those values may be religious in the sense that they recognize a higher authority than man’s authority.

          • tomd

            Not at all. It means that you don’t get to ignore laws the rest of us must follow just because of your specific religion.

            If a law is unjust for all, then by all means agitate.

          • Laurie Higgins

            Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this in his Letter from Birmingham Jail where he spent some time for breaking the law:

            How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God.

            . . .

            I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, non-biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

            In deep disappointment, I have wept over the laxity of the church. . . . I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

          • tomd

            And not surprisingly, this has little to do with my comment except invoke MLK’s name for your benefit.

            But hey – it’s not Nazis, right? I should be grateful for small mercies.

          • Laurie Higgins

            tomd,
            Surely you jest in saying that my reference to that passage from Letter from Birmingham Jail had “little to do with” your comment. You said, and I quote, “you can’t use your religion as a justification to break the law.” Martin Luther King Jr. used his religion, Christianity, to do just that. And he went further. He argued that a just law is only one which squares with God’s law and that for Christians there is no distinction between the sacred and the secular. I don’t ever hear liberals squawking about these words from MLK Jr.

          • tomd

            Sure, but he broke a law that was unjust for everyone. He wasn’t asking for special treatment for Christians.

          • Laurie Higgins

            You’ve just changed the point. You said “you can’t use your religion as a justification to break the law.” Martin Luther King Jr. used his Christian religion to justify law-breaking.

          • tomd

            Happy to clarify what I meant, in that case.

  • Matthew Berry

    I’m trying to work out if Socrates was conjured up ironically, given Athens’ traditions of pederasty at symposia, or if the Socrates the author thinks of is actually the caricature of The Clouds or some other Aristophanes play.

    Since any historian could tell you that the historical Socrates was interested primarily in questioning received wisdom, while the author above uses him to spew the worst sort of bigoted received wisdom of all, coming from a divine Revelator who expressly forbids the questioning that is the lifeblood of Socratic thought, it is impossible to take the article seriously.

    The final irony, of course, is that Socrates was accused of preaching atheism and misleading the youth of Athens; precisely the charge hysterical Liberty-educated zealots lay at the feet of educators at real universities!

    • http://BarbWire.com/ Brian Fitzpatrick

      The link from “gapers” and “wide-anuses” will bring you to a series of articles about ancient Greece, which should tell you everything you need to know about Socrates, Greece and the ancient view of homosexuality.

      • Matthew Berry

        Regarding Thornton’s book:

        I believe enough scholarly rebuttals to his expressed opinions have been written, so I will not add my own, except to say his misinterpretation of some concepts seems almost deliberate. An example being the leap from abusive epithets to a condemnation of homosexuality in Athens generally. Such an argument would mean ancient Athenians hated fish far more, by the way! It also lacks proportionality, to provide just one example it takes no account of the revered positions of Harmodius and Aristogiton in Athenian foundation myths.

        While the book helps destruct the myth that such opinions are impossible to write in the face of a conspiracy of leftist professors, it has not convinced many, if any, in the field. Classicists would agree that passive homosexuality was demeaning in adult men, sometimes, but the book goes far beyond that. The book also does not address the ambivalence of Athenians on the issue, or its enthusiastic adoption as a form of male bonding by the Spartans and other city-states.

        Overwhelmingly, the consensus is that such questions of sexuality didn’t really bother ancient Greeks that much, and definitely far less than it bothers Judeo-Christian religions.

      • L1011

        Yeah Brian, these “gay-lover” don’t understand that God created a woman’s mouth and anus to receive a man during sex, but a man’s anus and mouth were not. Doesn’t it get tiring having to explain this all the time?

        • http://BarbWire.com/ Brian Fitzpatrick

          God created a woman’s vagina for that purpose. Using either mouth or anus is a strictly human innovation.

          • Matthew Berry

            It concerns me that you have absolutely no response to the proper context of Athenian sexuality, while writing such ignorant articles.

            Do you have any response at all?

          • http://BarbWire.com/ Brian Fitzpatrick

            Sure, Matthew. The link I provided to the earlier series of five articles on BW indicates that the received wisdom of the classics community, probably no less politicized than any other academic discipline, is not without its challengers. What concerns me is your apparent inability to grasp the point of the article. It isn’t an essay on Greek attitudes toward homosexuality, and I don’t purport to be a classics scholar. Socrates is merely a vehicle, and my model for Socrates is taken from Kreeft, a philosophy professor. This is a satire about the anti-intellectualism of the American academy, now so totally dominated by neo-Marxists, in particular pointing out the damage being done to the students. Rather than address the sad state of the contemporary academy, you found a minor point you disagreed with and pronounced that you could not take the entire article seriously. Yours is a classic example of the debate tactic decried by a conservative talk show host: “Leftists don’t defend themselves, they change the subject and attack.” So tell me, are you happy with the state of intellectual inquiry at Sinclair Community College, but cognizant that you cannot possibly defend it? Or are you just a classics professor who can’t see beyond his own discipline? If the latter is true, your tunnel vision is at least understandable.

          • Matthew Berry

            There is a difference between using something as a vehicle to make a point, and blatantly distorting historical opinion on a subject. If it was just a vehicle, why did you try to defend the distorted point of view with a fringe opinion by an isolated individual? I responded to the issue of Socrates because Classics is my field of study, and to see him and Athenian mores being so distorted is actually shocking.

            I don’t see any evidence for the anti-intellectualism and neo-Marxism in academia you speak of. The existence of published articles for you to appeal to, while claiming a conspiracy which would limit the existence of precisely those articles, is inconsistent. As far as classic tactics go, you’re stooping to the level of insulting the capacity of your intellectual opponents to engage in debate with pejorative terms like “neo-Marxism”. Instead you should be engaging with the substance of the debate, which happens every day at every proper university in the country.

            Far from the problem being lying chiefly with secular institutions, it is blatantly theologically driven pseudo-universities such as Liberty which leech the kudos of being calling itself a higher institution while, for example, refusing to submit its scientific output to a proper peer review process, radically limiting the intellectual freedom of their students and going far further to censor debate than Sinclair students ever did by walking out of a lecture theater.

            There are excesses on both sides of the debate, from extremists who are proud to be called Marxists and Dominionists, who should all be condemned. But your article and subsequent posts lack that balance.

          • http://BarbWire.com/ Brian Fitzpatrick

            If you don’t see any evidence of neo-Marxist anti-intellectualism in academia, you must not be looking very hard. In fact, you have to crane your neck to avoid seeing it. The Sinclair story itself is an excellent illustration. The issue isn’t the students walking out; it’s the faculty orchestrating the walkout for the purpose of humiliating the speaker, and then taking the students to another assembly hall for cookies and hugs. Surely you won’t defend this as sound pedagogy. Surely you must understand what a disservice was done to the students themselves.
            I used the term “neo-Marxist” not as a pejorative, but because it’s exactly accurate. Ever heard of Gramsci? I’ve attended Marxist scholars conferences where self-described Marxists acknowledge the failure of Marx’s deterministic historical model, and therefore preach Gramsci’s long march through the institutions. They also discuss methods of turning students into radicals. The tried and true method is to exploit students’ emotions by repeating lectures about unfairness and race/class/gender for four years (incessant criticism of society as prescribed by the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School) while attempting to prevent opposing points of view from reaching the students. Actually the indoctrination can start much earlier than college. One speaker boasted of how he and two other “progressives” had become the majority on the Marin County board of education, and were installing a “progressive” curriculum in grades K-12.
            Turning to a potentially more fruitful line of conversation I tried to raise with you before, what do you think of the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled hundreds of years later, in detail, as recorded in the Gospels? Have you read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 lately?

          • Matthew Berry

            I don’t see any evidence for the walkout being organized by the faculty at Sinclair, apart from the unsubstantiated claim by LaBarbera himself. What you describe as anti-intellectualism is actually usually a derisory response to an uneducated opinion which is discarded, resulting in misguided outrage of the ignorant holder of that opinion. For example, the derision directed towards Creationists, who claim a conspiracy against their ideas while refusing to engage with the academic process.

            I also don’t see anything wrong in a bigoted man being walked out on, any more than I wouldn’t see anything wrong in a hall walking out on a Dominionist liar like Bryan Fischer, or an apologist for segregation. What LaBarbera was offering was also not a discussion, it was a lecture. He is free to debate others in a relevant setting, but to my knowledge has not done so in the recent past.

            That Gramsci exists doesn’t mean his opinions are widespread any more than the fact that Dominionists existing means their opinions are widespread. It is completely misleading to argue that because someone advocates a particular approach, that approach is therefore adopted widely. To caricature a reasoned criticism of American history as self-loathing abasement as part of a conspiracy, because it is not the manifest destiny adulation demanded by extremists on the right is ludicrous.

            Your board of education boasts are repeated on a much larger scale by ignorant and unqualified Creationists throughout the country, to the point where the objectivity of keystone textbooks is threatened. Where is your outrage that this process is a deliberate circumvention of academic process and debate? Where is your outrage when pseudo-intellectual institutions demand their students limit their learning to only what their particular college considers Biblical?

            I think that the Gospels are a good tool in understanding what schismatic, apocalyptic Jewish sects reading the Septuagint thought counted as fulfillment of prophets like Isaiah. Isaiah would today be understood in the context of the Syro-Ephraimitic war. These prophets, and later books like Maccabees are useful to ancient historians in trying to understand contemporary opinions, particularly towards social changes affecting Jewish society at the time. There are books I can recommend if you’re interested.

          • http://BarbWire.com/ Brian Fitzpatrick

            That’s two evidential strikes on you, Matthew. To see direct evidence of the Sinclair professors orchestrating the walkout, all you need to do is read the story. You can click on the link to the video about the psychology professor explaining how she “catalyzed” the walkout (it comes after the Clarion’s interview of LaBarbera) and you can also read the bolded quotations from the English professor boasting about how she led the walkout. If you want to confirm that I’m not making up the English professor’s statement, click on the link to the news story in the second paragraph, and read through to the comment from Rebecca Morean. But to save you the trouble, here is Morean’s comment verbatim:

            Rebecca Morean – April 10, 2014

            The
            college did NOT invite Peter LaBarbera. The Traditional Values Club
            did and the way the laws are now, there is no way to censor groups like
            this on public institutions. We have freedome of speech. Two years they
            hung posters that stated condoms caused STDs. As the “liberal
            professor” who led the group out, I spent three years trying to figure
            out some way to humiliate the speakers at TVC events. This proved
            beyond successful. First, LaBarbera was late. So of the 100+
            people/stealth protesters there, 25 or more stood and spoke about love,
            inclusion, being gay, being straight, church elders and atheists alike.
            and all had ONE message. Hate was not going to be heard. Then when La
            Barbera arrived he made a comment about having a different point of view
            and thanked us for sitting and waiting. At that moment, I rose and
            left, followed by nearly everyone there. The pictures say how effective
            this was and how empowered the students felt. A truly great day for
            all. We went to another building, ate cookies, signed posters and
            hugged. Meanwhile the TVC organizers shouted at students and faculty
            who were leaving. But NO ONE ENGAGED, which is what made this so
            successful. The moment you engage you’ve lost. We were the Silent
            Majority.

            There you have it, faulty English and all.

            Regarding your other points, how can you possibly deny that the Gramsci/New School approaches are more than widespread, they are absolutely prevalent in American universities today? Students routinely encounter race/class/gender “analysis” not only in social sciences, but in humanities as well, and they routinely encounter another version of leftist ideological closed-mindedness in the natural sciences.

            We’re not discussing a “reasoned criticism of American history,” but a politicized one. The purpose of teaching students an abased version of U.S. history, again as prescribed by the Frankfurt School, is to create a loathing in them for their own nation and its founding values. The cultural Marxists have been very successful at this for a long time. A quick personal illustration: when I was in college in 1980, the midterm exam question in a large history course was whether the Cold War was the fault of the U.S. or the USSR. Despite mountains of contrary evidence, much of it provided by the professor himself in his lectures (he was one of the few balanced profs on campus), 75% of the students said it was wholly the fault of the U.S. Either they believed it themselves, after years of blame-America-first indoctrination, or they were giving the professor what they had learned professors wanted to hear.

            Creationism is not the issue here, as much as the topic distresses you. But isn’t the purpose of scientific inquiry to call into question the accuracy of “keystone textbooks?” Should we still be teaching the proven hoaxes of Haeckel’s diagrams and Piltdown Man? Twenty years ago, I read that Haeckel was still being used in grade school and high school textbooks. Those compelling drawings illustrating ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny might have been false, but they were powerful tools for instilling evolution in the minds of uneducated children.

            Any offenses against academic freedom committed by sectarian universities are exceeded on a much larger scale by secular universities, which routinely discriminate against heterodox scholars in discipline after discipline. Assuming you are a member of a faculty somewhere, how many of your colleagues are Republicans? The present ratio of Democrats to Republicans on college faculties may exceed 10 to 1. The natural sciences may be the worst. Attack global warming, and you might be denied research funding. Write an article attacking Darwin, and you risk being actively persecuted.

            Okay, Matthew, it’s time to give you a third opportunity to broaden your perspective by exposing yourself to evidence that disagrees with your presuppositions. Please read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, and the four Gospel accounts of the crucifixion, and let me know what YOU think about the possibility that Isaiah and the psalmist might have been predicting the crucifixion of the Messiah. Remember, three strikes and you’re out.

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  • Oscar

    One of the important, brutally honest (ok, in a sick way) and most enlightening articles I have read at this site. A step FAR above the usual name-calling and frustration-sharing that is done here, sadly in the name of Christian discourse. An ale for Fitzpatrick, I say!

    And let me add that (likely because of the quality of the article) the following debate is top-notch, and of the type almost completely missing at Barbwire. Below, a reader will find a wholly different level of debate, minus almost all of the silly personal attacks and sound-bite style argument customarily used at Barbwire. Thank you readers, on both sides of the aisle, for this refreshing break from the hate and the smears. Thank you for reasoned, profound discourse, instead of the usual ad hominem attacks.

    (Disclaimer: Please note the timing of this post, in the chance that another silly war of slander breaks out, meaning this commendation will become invalid. Let’s pray the truce holds!)

  • Boo

    I had a discussion with my friend Socrates just the other day, and this is what he said :
    “Matt Barber? Sounds like a creepy weirdo!”
    See? Socrates said so. Because he’s my friend and I totally had a conversation with him and didn’t put my words in his mouth.

  • David

    Charles, your stats prove only that there is widespread promiscuity with the MSM communities a fact I have never argued against. They have nothing to do with the obsessiveness of conservative anti-gay folk with anal sex. Homosexuality does not equal anal sex and vice versa. The quicker y’all learn that homosexuality is about emotions and feelings then you might have a chance to reach out to those who given a chance would choose not to act out sexually. As long as you focus on the butt you just look silly.

  • Matthew Berry

    There are all kinds of diseases disproportionately affecting different social groups.

    When you’re howling about rednecks and southerners in the same terms as you do homosexuals for being disproportionately involved in the actual public health issues of crystal meth addiction, alcoholism, cancer due to smoking, and spousal abuse, you’ll have a point.

    Let me know when you start.

    • Charles A. Hake

      Sorry, Matthew, but the fact that, as you say, “[T]here are all kinds of diseases disproportionately affecting different social groups” in no way diminishes or negates the damning statistics that I cited, which indict homosexual practice as a dangerous high-risk sexual behavior, and I am under no obligation to chronicle other social pathologies for you in order for my claims to be valid. I “have a point” already, in that the facts speak for themselves as quoted.

      Furthermore, the other lamentable societal ills that you mention—and there ARE plenty of them—such as drug addiction, alcoholism, cancer due to smoking, spousal abuse, . . . (ad infinitum) ALREADY have a plethora of spokespersons and advocacy groups representing their particular causes, raising awareness and money in ongoing crusades; that’s why I choose to focus almost exclusively upon the dangers of homosexuality, to both societies and individuals who embrace it, because there are precious FEW people, especially in today’s oppressive climate of political correctness, who discern the need to speak up and out AGAINST societal affirmation and celebration of homosexuality, and FOR the traditional moral values that descend from our Judeo-Christian heritage and made our country great.

      The Church, which should serve as the moral agent within society, following Jesus’ cultural mandate to be “salt” and “light” (Matthew 5:13-16) by preserving the culture from moral decay and exposing the evil practices taking place within it (Ephesians 5:11), has largely been asleep for the past 40-50 years; its pastors, theologians, and other leaders, as well as its people, have abdicated their responsibility in this regard, remaining silent and leaving a near-vacuum of resistance, which all the vile immoralities of the age are only too quick to fill, virtually unopposed. The “gay” juggernaut is a relatively new bully on the block, and it is an especially powerful and well-funded lobby that is mainstreaming its way into our culture with impunity, to the detriment of society.

      Those of us who will, MUST speak out about this, undeterred by the enormity of the task, called, as we feel we are, to be “salt” and “light” and to expose the particular evil that is most on our hearts, as we are led.

      You “howl” about the “rednecks” and “southerners” you so resent, Matthew, and I’ll howl about unrepentant, militant homosexuals, thank you. SOMEBODY’S got to . . .

      • Matthew Berry

        It does diminish your point, by pointing out your hysteria over the behavior homosexuals engage in, leading to public harm, while being indifferent to the behavior other groups engage in, also leading to public harm. You are inconsistent, so your point is flawed.

        Secondly, the AIDS patient advocacy groups set up from the 80s are today seen as models for how a PAG should be set up, and are possibly the most-involved and developed PAGs, with the possible company of breast cancer groups. Your public harm argument is negated by condom drives by precisely these groups.

        Pretending that AIDS prevention is equivalent to condemning homosexuality is ludicrous, because to be consistent you would have to condemn heterosexuality too. It does transmit AIDS too. And what, I wonder, is your position on safe sex between homosexuals? That removes your public harm argument entirely.

        Your “traditional” Judeo-Christian values are littered with grotesquely immoral commands like the stoning of “witches”, murder of women who refuse to marry men who rape them, legal slavery and institutional discrimination against non-believers. Why should society not preserve the “traditional” Judeo-Christian institutions of misogyny and slavery, but preserve homophobia? Should modern society adopt the xenophobia of Jesus of Galilee? Again, you’re inconsistent.

        I don’t resent southerners or rednecks, I used a social group as an example of a social group disproportionately affected by a behavior damaging to public health. I accused YOU of howling. It says quite something when you cannot even quote the post above your own without wrenching the words out of context.

        • Charles A. Hake

          As if you don’t do quite a bit of “wrenching” of MY words, feelings, and intent yourself, Matthew.

          To wit: I didn’t say I don’t care about or am indifferent to society’s other problems; in fact, I referred to them as “lamentable,” which indeed they are, and simply said that LOTS of OTHER people are already attending to those matters, while one of singular importance to me, homosexuality, meets with disturbing indifference and apathy from society as a whole, even from the Church. We can’t ALL be passionate about, and devote ourselves to, every single one of society’s ills; there are simply TOO MANY of them in this fallen world of ours. We’d drive ourselves crazy attempting to pour 100% of our energies into every single one, even if we could count them all! (And you know that.)

          Even so, just because I am not addressing any of these other societal problems right here, right now, is no proof that I don’t care about them. In fact, I give rather generously to charities of all sorts, precisely because I DO care about many of the world’s problems (as if I must give an account, or defend myself, to you….) But the subject for us here on Disqus, today (actually 5 days ago, when someone named Dave responded to a BarbWire article that featured “Socrates” referring to homosexuals as “wide-anused”/”gapers,” but you came back at me again today) was homosexuality as a high-risk sexual behavior, NOT crystal meth addiction, alcoholism, cancer due to smoking, spousal abuse, or anything else. YOU are the one who branched off into those side issues, not I, as a distraction/deflection because you cannot defend homosexual practice as being safe or healthy, as my CDC statistics irrefutably demonstrated.

          So, do you hold yourself to this same ridiculous standard you’re tying to impose upon me? As if, to make a valid point about any one single social pathology, I am required, by you, to fully embrace—and address, in each of my posts—the alleviation of ALL social pathologies with equal fervor, energy, and passion? (Otherwise, according to you, I am inconsistent and my point is “flawed”???) In case you don’t know it, that’s impossible, and you don’t do it either. Sorry, but I’ll focus primarily on the one issue that’s been laid on my heart; most other people are neglecting IT while they attend quite well to the others you’re speaking of. Just maybe if I do a little bit of “this,” and each of my neighbors does a little a little bit of “that,” the synergetic end result will be that, together, we’ll all do a better job of responding to a majority of society’s problems than any one of us could do alone. Seem like a reasonable plan?

          I don’t answer to you, Matthew, and I’ll say it again, to summarize, since you evidently missed it the first time: the fact that, as you say, “[T]here are all kinds of diseases disproportionately affecting different social groups” in no way diminishes or negates the damning statistics that I cited, which indict homosexual practice as a dangerous high-risk sexual behavior, and I am under no obligation to chronicle other social pathologies for you in order for my claims regarding homosexuality to be valid. They ARE valid! And I “have a point” already, in that the facts speak for themselves as quoted.

          BTW, did I ever say I have a problem with AIDS advocacy groups? Of course I didn’t, because I don’t, and I am thankful for the tremendous good they do, insofar as they help to minimize the spread of STD’s (but not insofar as they might, even inadvertently, affirm or encourage homosexual conduct, the very thing that spreads many of the very diseases and much of the suffering they’re trying to alleviate. What irony!)

          And, yes, of course heterosexuals also spread HIV/AIDS; I’ve never claimed otherwise, as you well know. But THIS discussion has centered upon the fact that homosexuals, though representing no more than 2-3% of the overall population, account for highly disproportionate numbers of new HIV infections in the U.S. And condom drives by AIDS patient advocacy groups, though laudable, do not change this fact.

          As for your accusation that I am guilty of “[p]retending that AIDS prevention is equivalent to condemning homosexuality,” I can only say that you overstate the the significance, FOR ME, of what you keep calling a “public harm argument,” and totally misunderstand the chief motivation for my opposition to homosexuality: it is primarily upon MORAL grounds that I object to it, because GOD says it’s wrong (unhealthy, self-destructive, not what’s best for individuals or society according to His divine design), NOT particularly because it’s a high-risk behavior and thus a public health concern. So “public harm” is hardly the cornerstone of my opposition to homosexuality; rather, the Word of God is!

          Yes, yes, we have been talking almost exclusively about the health aspect of it in these posts, but that’s ONLY because, as I said earlier, “Dave” got us going in that direction several days ago by claiming the original BarbWire/Socrates article was “obsessed with the anus.” (Go back and see for yourself.) Ever since then, subsequent responses to Dave and others down the line have kept us stuck on the actual sexual practices of homosexuals, which necessarily DO tend to focus more on the anus (do you deny that?), simply because, in gay male sex, there is no vagina available!

          •Does that mean that heterosexuals don’t also occasionally engage in anal intercourse? No, it doesn’t mean that, and I never said that (although you seem AWFULLY touchy and defensive about that point. Interesting…)

          •When heterosexuals do engage in anal intercourse, is it just as unsafe as when homosexuals do so? Yes, of course it is, and it tends to spread STD’s at higher rates than does vaginal sex. Happy?

          •What do I say about “safe sex” between homosexuals? Just this: though it may be “safer” than unprotected sex from a medical/clinical standpoint, it is still wrong in God’s eyes; to Him it is a perversion of his ordained order and design for human sexuality, as is ANATOMICALLY OBVIOUS. He calls homosexuals to resist the temptation to engage in homosexual conduct for their own good, CHOOSING instead to forsake this self-destructive lifestyle, which He can enable them to do by His life-transforming power and grace. Change—or the grace to live a celibate life—IS possible, as thousands of ex-gays can testify.)

          As a quick aside, you probably know that Hunter Madsen and Marshall Kirk, in their 1989 book “After the Ball: How America Will Overcome Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ’90′s,” stressed, as one of their recommended propaganda ploys, that gays should deny and otherwise NOT make their sordid sexual practices known to the public (sounds familiar to me), but rather should play upon society’s sympathies by manipulatively portraying themselves as victims of merciless “discrimination” at the hands of sanctimonious, “backwoods,” Bible-thumping Christians who are (of course) “haters” and “homophobes.” It’s worked like a charm, hasn’t it, and probably even more quickly than the authors could have hoped!

          Since you made a snarky comment about my supposed “hysteria over the behavior homosexuals engage in,” it just might interest you to know that, when I was 18 years old, I was stalked by an older man who was a homosexual. He carried a picture of me in his wallet (a photo clipped from a newspaper) and said he wanted to move in with me at college because he knew I was “that way,” too. (I had done little dating in high school.) He also told me “it was a knife in my heart” when he saw me walking with a girl one evening. So it is that NO ONE will ever convince me that gays don’t recruit (seduce) younger men into the lifestyle. Maybe you’d be “hysterical”—or singularly passionate—about a particular issue, too, if something like that had happened to you.

          Which brings me to a question I have for you, Matthew. You surely know by now that I am a heterosexual, and you probably realize I am an evangelical Christian as well. So what exactly am I dealing with in you? Are you perhaps yourself a homosexual, or do you just defend homosexuality out of some sense of being noble, as legitimization of homosexuality is our politically correct society’s current cause celebre, as homosexuals have cynically hijacked African-Americans’ legitimate civil-rights movement of the 1960′s?

          And, judging from the hateful rant of your penultimate paragraph, culminating in some tripe about the supposed “xenophobia of Jesus of Galilee,”(?) you’re no fan of God or Christianity as well, evidently hating Him for reasons known only to you. (Incidentally, God did not authorize any of the atrocities you cited, at least not in modern (New Testament and since) times; His misguided followers alone are culpable. However, His system of punishments was indeed more severe in the Old Testament days of ancient, theocratic Israel. But those seeming vagaries are the subject for another day…)

          So why not just be up-front with ALL of us so we know how to approach you with our points of argument—are you an atheist? An agnostic? A rationalist/secular humanist? (I know there’s little difference among these types, but I’m curious as to how YOU classify yourself.)

          Knowing the answer to those questions might help me/us respond more effectively to the “complaints” you raised in that bitter paragraph. But judging from the bile and vitriol you displayed there, your mind is hermetically sealed against the Truth of the Gospel, unless you allow God to speak to your heart. He (the Holy Spirit) is a gentleman and will not break down the door [of your heart], but, having died for the sins of all, He will enter if you choose to let Him in. I sincerely hope you will listen for Him knocking . . .

          • Matthew Berry

            The significant difference between public harm arguments and arguments from theology are the former makes a claim to objectivity, and the second is a personal interpretation of divine will.

            I am heterosexual. I grew up in Apartheid society, I’ve seen what visceral bigotry given legal backing can do to a society, both to its victims and those forced to be its perpetrators: it is dehumanizing for both sides.

            I do not see a philosophical difference between segregationists, defenders of Apartheid and modern homophobes. Exactly the same arguments are made, by the same pious bigots, with appeals to the same Bibles, who feel entitled to legislate to interfere in the lives of other people who mean them no harm.

            That you do not acknowledge the distinction between “God” and “my God” makes answering your question of my beliefs difficult. I do not hate people like you, because what would I do then about people who genuinely deserve to be hated? What would I reserve for a Jerry Falwell if I’m already at an extreme of emotion with someone such as you? I am an atheist, necessarily agnostic on deism. I do not hate your god or anyone else’s god, and I certainly do not hate evangelicals or any but the most extreme of the thousands of sects of Christianity.

            What I believe, by the way, shouldn’t really affect how you respond to the arguments I make. Being an atheist does not make me any less of a Classicist, for example, and the horrendously inaccurate caricature of Athenian society found above is why I pay attention to this article.

          • Charles A. Hake

            Sheesh, Martin, you were just spared from having to read another one of my marathon-length responses/rebuttals to your last post. Going back and forth between this blog and the Internet, where I was getting specific information to make my points, and copying my response to my Mac “clipboard” each time so as not to lose it when I left this page, well, you know what finally happened. Forgetting myself for a second just as I finished, I copied a website to my clipboard, which, of course, automatically and immediately displaced (deleted) my entire post intended for you. And now, at this point, I’m not about to start all over again in reconstructing what I’d spent quite a bit of time writing and compiling. So . . .

            By the way, thank you for your honest answers to my rather personal questions. I do appreciate it.

            Let us part in peace . . . at least for now. :-)

  • SearchCz

    IFF the students in question weren’t already familiar with Peter LaBarbera’s rhetoric, and IFF the presentation in question afforded response time to those holding differing opinions, this critique of the walkout would make sense. Does anyone imagine that the so-called “Traditional Values Club” was interested in a balanced presentation or a two-way conversation?

  • sigh

    ‘A Sinclair professor wearing a butt-ugly tie-dyed T-shirt, Anne Soltysiak, says she couldn’t participate in the walkout because she was teaching a statistics class. ‘
    You find it necessary to comment on her looks? If she was dressed nicely would that change your opinion? Jeez…

    “I am not surprised,” Socrates replies. “In Athens, statistics was not considered a profession for honorable people. Remember the old saying, ‘Figures don’t lie, but liars figure?’ That one’s been around since Hammurabi’s scribes invented bookkeeping.”
    As someone who studies machine learning I am gravely offended. Your life would be much less comfortable without our current knowledge of statistics as it plays a role in a great deal of modern technology.

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