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October 22, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

Critique of the Atheist/Naturalist/Materialist Worldview–a Total and Utter TKO

These methods are the same methods that:
1) Allowed leadership and courage to overcome the skepticism we had in the caves.
2) Its these methods of empiricism
3) Its these methods that allow inferences, intuition, and abductive logic to take us to the next stage in human development. Science is a poor language to talk about the future–if abductive logic isn’t involved
4) Without relationships–and actually a long line of them–there wouldn’t be a United States or a you. Relationships are grounded in an epistemological basis that is beyond what can be tested in a laboratory.
5) You couldn’t live and experience life in all its freshness, originality, and creativity without some degree of non-scientific evidence.
6) Not even scientists only use science as their only form of proof.

Gut check–is there any human or scientist who lives by “I don’t do it unless there is scientific evidence to prove it.” That would be simply silly. Life is too original and people too different and life is advancing too fast for science to provide answers to all of lifes questions–particularly those about our future.

This worldview is telling you to deny whats on the inside of your head in terms of your experience of reality–that turns you into an autonomon–that has no experience, no evidence, and not much of a way to improve their lot in life. Its a form of paralysis thats terminal. (not to mention the previous problem I outlined with respect to leaving the cave in the first place).

Moreover, your argument ends in an ideology in which we have nothing but physics & chemistry & biology departments in universities. Thats rolling the clock back on knowledge and the human experience in vastly counter-productive ways. (talk about functional book burning–we’re talking about crushing whole departments).

October 16, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

What is the economic cost of sinful behavior on our economy and communities

Economic Cost of Addiction on the US Economy:

Also, here are the stats/evidence/proof of sin you were looking for:

Illegal Drugs: $181 billion dollars per year
Alcohol: $185 billion dollars per year
Tobacco: $193 billion dollars per year
Total: $559 billion dollars per year


Also, the economic cost of crime:

• Sam Brand and Richard Price Study (link)
• The Cost of Crime to Society: New Crime-Specific Estimates for Policy and Program Evaluation (link)

In the United States, more than 23 million criminal offenses were committed in 2007, resulting in approximately $15 billion in economic losses to the victims and $179 billion in government expenditures on police protection, judicial and legal activities, and corrections (U.S. Department of Justice, 2004a, 2007a, 2008).

So sin is real, very real. Sin has real consequences.

I can also get out the cost of additions & broken families if you’d like….. (I probably will do so anyway)

Economic Cost of Broken Families on the US Economy:

The cost of broken families:

The linkages between family collapse and various forms of social failure were established decades ago. (A fine roundup of solid social science is The Case for Marriage, by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher.) Reams of sophisticated research have documented what everyday experience confirms: that family fragmentation damages enormous numbers of boys and girls. Not all children in tough family situations do poorly, but more than enough do. “It is very hard,” two sober scholars concluded in a 2010 Educational Testing Service report, “to imagine progress resuming in reducing the education attainment and achievement gap without turning these family trends around.” The very idea, they said, of a “substitute for the institution [of marriage] for raising children is almost unthinkable.”
Others have developed ways of measuring the most obvious economic and social effects of family fragmentation. Perhaps the most elementary is to calculate how much money government spends to keep single mothers and their children out of dire poverty. In 2008, Georgia College & State University economist Benjamin Scafidi calculated that family fragmentation cost U.S. taxpayers $112 billion annually. And Scafidi purposely left out some quite substantial costs:
– The study considered only female-headed households, although male-headed households represent about one-sixth of single-parent homes.
– Scafidi disregarded a number of major government programs, notably the Earned Income Tax Credit, insofar as “existing data” didn’t allow his team to “quantify them with confidence.”
– He disregarded the not-trivial sums public schools wind up spending on social problems tied to out-of-wedlock births and divorce.
– He did not attempt to monetize the human and social capital that stably married parents provide their children, though the increase in young people’s well-being reduces the likelihood of their requiring pricey governmental services when they repeat grades, burden the juvenile-justice and child-protective systems, and so on.
– Scafidi assumed no benign effects of marriage on fathers’ earning power, although it is well established that stable marriages tend to increase men’s earnings while decreasing the likelihood of their committing crimes and being incarcerated.
– Scafidi assumed that married households avail themselves of governmental services to which they are entitled at the same rate as single-mother households, though in fact lower-income married couples are only about half as likely as single mothers to take advantage of such benefits.
– Scafidi disregarded the Medicare expenses associated with unmarried adults and the elderly even though, as he noted, “high rates of divorce and failure to marry mean that many more Americans enter late middle-age (and beyond) without a spouse to help them manage chronic illnesses, or to help care for them if they become disabled.”

The author continues:

Like a good academic, Scafidi felt compelled to be methodologically cautious; perhaps overly so. But the rest of us are free to observe that the actual cost is considerably above $112 billion a year.

A second way of estimating costs is to figure out how much lower the poverty level would be if out-of-wedlock birth rates and divorce rates were lower. In 2009, Brookings scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill wrote that if the “United States had the same proportion of children living in single-parent families as in 1970, all else equal, today’s poverty rate would be roughly one-quarter lower than it is.” Even more dramatically, Sawhill and another colleague earlier wrote that if family structure had not changed between 1960 and 1998, the poverty rate for black children in the latter year would have been 28.4 percent instead of 45.6 percent.

A third approach reflects the work of several econometricians on the connections between academic achievement and economic growth. In several invaluable studies, economist Eric Hanushek demonstrated the vital importance of a nation’s competence in mathematics and science for its economic success. The quality of learning in these two subjects​—​which is significantly depressed by family fragmentation​—​is best measured by standardized tests that have been administered internationally since the 1970s.

Source: Broken Families, Broken Economy

And an even better case perhaps can be made based on the emotional/mental effects of sinful behavior, which I’ll have to add later.

Finally, assuming that sin is a construct is seemingly a form of ethical or cultural relativism in drag. I’ve written on this quite a lot. David Wilkinson does a good job explaining this argument.

October 14, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

What is the best criteria for evaluating and comparing arguments?

As someone who has evaluated his share of arguments, I would suggest the following criteria:

1) Representativeness of data
2) Representativeness of conclusions
3) Credibility of source & data
4) Clarity
5) Understanding of context (historical, culture, relevant or iconic precedent in the area, etc…)
6) Lack of overgeneralization, straw person, or excessive reductionism
7) Precision, specificity, and nuance
8) Ability to address objections (i.e. how it relates to and integrate with the oppositions arguments), counter-examples, or alternative perspectives
9) What are its assumptions?
10) Is it reasonable? Is it coherent?
11) Takes a comparative view (i.e. weighing arguments or proof on both sides). This model is followed by the SWOT model.
12) A clear sense of prioritization (i.e. of whats important and what isn’t and helping the reader understand it).
13) Honesty. Openness and honesty about ones premises and assumptions. The purpose of the academy is finding truth. Arguments which don’t attempt to find truth run counter to the purpose of education, the academy, and progress of society.
14) Multiple forms of proof
15) Multi-disciplinary understanding of argument

I would suggest these four additional resources on developing a criteria for creating, evaluating, and comparing the reasonableness and credibility of arguments:
1) Stephen Toulmin (his 7 part criteria is pretty epic) (link)
2) Page on (a PDF on assessing arguments) (link)
3) Criteria for Analyzing Arguments (includes the STAR method) (link)
4) Page on (short criteria from Northwestern U) (link)

This criteria is for good argument–and ideal. Arguments can certainly have less proof–particular in the case of informal argument–but this argument shoots at what the ideal of argument is in a best case scenario.

Other arguments about critical thinking and argument on Compassion in Politics.

October 13, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

Christian Apologetics Book Outline Idea

Christian apologetics book outline
1) suffering
2) reduction
3) belief
4) critical thinking
5) answering fallacies (or logical leaps or bad patterns in argument)
6) logical fallacies
7) even more reasons
8) jesus
9) science–two parts
10) worldview
11) misconceptions/myths
12) reductionism

October 6, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

The Wisdom of Biblical Proverbs for Christian Businesses

Here are 12 Proverbs from the Book of Proverbs.

Wisdom’s Rebuke
20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall[a] she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:

Proverbs 1:20-21 (link)

32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them;

Proverbs 1:32 (link) (?)

Proverbs 6:6-8 (link)
Proverbs 7:3 (link)
Proverbs 9:8 (link)
Proverbs 16:13 (link)
Proverbs 22:17 (link)
Proverbs 24:5 (link)
Proverbs 26:10 (link)
Proverbs 28:1 (link)
Proverbs 28:13 (link)
Proverbs 29:18 (link)

Proverbs for Business by Steve Marr is a daily reflection for Christian leaders and business owners. You can purchase the book here (note: Proverbs for Business is also available on Kindle for 4.61, but I prefer actual books especially for a book like this)

This has 19 principles with verses from Proverbs included (link)

Note: Reading though the book of Proverbs is a great exercise in self-reflection. There is no way to include all the wisdom of proverbs in a quick assortment of memory verses.

October 1, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

Why its important how we treat God

Treating God as sovereign and powerful is important for the following key reasons:
1) Truth. How we are made/the proper order of the universe. Potter > clay. Alpha and omega trumps all. Noting except God = alpha and omega–the begging and the end. This is who He is at a fundamental level
2) Justice. Fair treatment of God stems from who He is and who we are. Also our history.
3) Relationship/Love/Worship. The relationship is one of father/child. This skews that relationships. [the logic of truth & justice also speaks to this.] Acknowledging his awesome-ness and power and being grateful in response
4) Ethics. You could also make the argument based on rebellion. Rebellion against good is evil. The ten commandments would suggest this would be an example of making an idol after yourself.

I would suggest these are the top 4. You could make more direct reference to identity to make these arguments.
1) Potter/Clay
2) Father/Son
3) Identity. Who He is. Alpha/Omega

I don’t like to use this term per se–but you could say incorrectly handling reality is in fact a perversion (or warping) of reality.

October 1, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

Can atheists be moral or ethical?

Christians who write responses generally don’t assume atheists lack ethics, but rather usually that atheism and science lack a basis for ethics beyond cultural relativism, naturalism, and law of the jungle.

Usually the argument is that science makes claims about causality. Its woefully inadequate to make any claims about ethics, because lab experiments don’t yield ethical theorems and principles. Therefore, it is a category mistake to try to derive ethics from science.

Many atheists seem to accept notions of moral relativism, which is problematic for ethical claims like the ones you made above. Which is to say…if they took relativism seriously….there’s no reason why they couldn’t also take those claims seriously. The core problem with that is beyond the obvious, is that it lacks a substantive basis for fairness, justice, and anything we take as meaningful and valuable in society.

Further, the science can’t find agency, purpose, or ethics. Initially, science is incabable of finding agency, so it would be problematic for it to find issues like human dignity. (In fact, Singer is pretty anti-human dignity as was Bentham the founder of Utilitarianism given his rejection of natural rights as “nonsense on stilts”). Moreover, biological and methodological reductionism….along with biology, physics, and chemistry simply aren’t suited to provide the principles necessary for ethics, meaning, purpose, or agency.

Given the above…I would think you might see skeptics and atheists having a bit of problem with the idea of intrinsic value or intrinsic values….beyond their utilitarian value–turning ethics into spreadsheats and bean counting rather than doing the right thing or valuing humans irrespective of the dollar amount attached to their life by an insurance agent.

The historical case is pretty interesting as well. The rise of rights is directly related to the rise of Christianity and Christian values. Jurgen Habermas the agnostic/skeptic philosopher correctly emphasizes:

“Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.”

(Jürgen Habermas – “Time of Transitions”, Polity Press, 2006, pp. 150-151, translation of an interview from 1999).

Some skeptics might reply that religion has done many things that violate human rights.

1) All people are sinners and tempted by false idols like power. Christian principles provides accountability in that instance.
2) Using the language of Christianity or religion to achieve nafarious ends isn’t Christianity, its properly understood as opportunism and the opposite of Christianity. (even human rights language and ideology been abused and warped to include its opposite…and I’m pretty sure every ideology includes this problem).
3) The argument is comparative…its not denying the damage done, but rather looking on balance as the worldviews impact on history.

The nature of how skepticism is acid to all ideology, all beliefs, and all philosophy–means that a consistent application of skepticism would yield no basis for human values and no basis. However, its application at that level is clearly mistake for historical reasons–history has proven the cultures, ideas, and worldviews that work and those that don’t. Freedom with responsibility and checks clearly works. Witness the rise of the West. Alternatively, its opposite fails and fails quite dramatically through death and dehumanization at a near global scale ( evidence/proof:… ).

In short, Christianity provides a better telos and epistemology for ethics and human dignity (which arose historically from the imagio dei) than does either science or traditional modes of atheism. Particularly when you speak to atheism’s more skeptical, naturalistic, and scientistic versions.

So atheists can certainly be moral, but their atheism doesn’t help them form a basis for the protections of idealisms like personhood, dignity, rights, justice. All those are one relativistic decision away from being reduced to “inventions” or “nonsense” on stilts. I don’t know about you….but I don’t really want my Constitutional rights and Bill of Rights to hang in the balance between the relentless and nihilistic acid of reductionism (be it biological, physicalist, or otherwise).


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