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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Showing posts with label current events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label current events. Show all posts

Friday, October 02, 2015

Why It Was Better to Be a Christian at That Oregon College

Yesterday I was invited to a Southern California community college by one of the on-campus Christian clubs to answer questions on God' existence. Near that same time a man burst into classrooms at an Oregon community college and began shooting. He specifically targeted Christians, asking them to identify themselves as such. The news of the tragedy quickly spread that afternoon; ten people were killed and at least seven more injured. The horror of those actions is still shocking. I mourn with those who have lost loved ones in the attack.

Wanton evil like the Umpqua Community College leaves one speechless. It seems hard to even wrap your head around the callousness of a person who would murder others in cold blood. But human beings are far more capable of this kind of evil than we normally consider. In my discussion yesterday, an atheist asserted that he believes people are basically good. They become bad due to circumstances in their lives. I think history has proven that view to be a false one. From the beginning of civilization, people have been warring with one another motivated by a lust for power, greed, or the simple fact that someone else is different.

Christianity holds that people are not basically good. Christians believe that all people are marred by original sin and things like selfishness, greed, and even bigotry come naturally. But it doesn't end there. Christianity also teaches that there is a God who can redeem us from our worst inclinations and that he stepped into history to do that very thing, at the cost of his own beloved son. While Christians recognize that people can naturally be evil, they also recognize there is a solution to the evil that we see.

Where's the Solution to the Evil in the World?

That's a key point, I believe. Some may wonder where God was when all these people were being slaughtered. If God is real, why wouldn't he protect his own? Does the fact that Christians died prove the Christian God is not real? No, it doesn't. It only proves that evil exists and needs to be answered. But, as Hamlet would say, there's the rub. What is the answer to evil if God doesn't exist? Was the murder of Christians an example of natural selection allowing the stronger to weed out the weaker? Was it just another act in nature where life comes and goes without any meaning whatsoever? We don't assign much meaning to how black widow spiders kill their mates or how mammals such as lions or chimpanzees will kill offspring other than their own to avoid competition. This is nature "red in tooth and claw" and no meaning other than that's the way it works can be assigned to it.

Those Christians on the UCC campus understood that any evil we find in this world isn't the end of the story. Those who were shot for their faith knew that whatever evil may be inflicted upon them here would be more than made up for in the life to come. They had confidence that evil will in the end be met with true justice. Trusting in God does not mean that he will deliver you from all harm. As I have written elsewhere, God is not "Our Genie who art in heaven." To treat him as such belittles him and diminishes our concept of God within ourselves. Because of the fact of the resurrection, we can know that God has conquered death and sin. We can know the problem of evil is only a temporary one.

Denying the Reality of Natural Evil

I feel more sorry for the non-believers at UCC as well as those on the campus with who I was conversing. There is no way for them to make any real sense out of this tragedy. They may hold that mankind is evolving and getting better, but the empirical evidence doesn't argue for that. ISIS doesn't argue for that. The looters who appear any time police presence in a community is restrained don't argue for that. Their claim is unfounded; it's a wish but not reality. They must believe it in order to hold out hope for a brighter future.  The only other option is nihilism--the idea that there is no meaning to our existence at all and therefore nothing really matters. That's why I believe it's better to be a Christian even at UCC where one is in danger of being harmed for one's faith than it is to have no faith at all.

Sometimes the truth comes at a cost but the wise man will still seek it out. That's what wisdom means.

Image courtesy Andy Bernay-Roman and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) license.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Sex, Sin, and Christian Hypocrites

"But what about all the hypocrites in the church? Look at those preachers who are only in it for the money! What about Josh Duggar? Did you know that Kentucky clerk who won't issue same-sex marriage licenses has been married four times herself!"

Anyone who has engaged in discussion over religious beliefs has likely heard comments such as these. I've spoken to many people myself who when they've run out of other objections retreat to the charge of hypocrisy. They seem to relish in finding any inconsistency between a Christian's public stance and his or her private failings. Is hypocrisy the trump card Christianity's critics and those on the left think it is?

First, one must be cautious about the charge of hypocrisy itself, as it is bandied about loosely but not well defined. For example, is a person a hypocrite because they previously behaved in a way that runs contrary to their current beliefs or is that growth? That's Kim Davis' story. Yes, she was married multiple times, but that was prior to her conversion. Should we call an ex-convict a hypocrite when he says he now respects the law? That isn't hypocrisy. That's growth and we should encourage it and celebrate it when it happens.

Failing to Uphold Your Own Standard

What about those who declare a moral standard, yet fail to uphold that standard themselves? Are they hypocrites? They may be, but they may also simply be, you know, human beings. Humans are flawed creatures who fail upholding their own standards all the time. If you doubt me, simply examine your morning commute. Have you ever criticized someone for driving too fast, cutting you off, or changing lanes too quickly only to find that you have done the same thing many times yourself?

To decry as a hypocrite anyone who ever fails at living against their ideal is wrong. It may even be wicked, demonstrating a callous disregard for those the charge seeks to condemn. CNN just reported that pastor and Seminary professor John Gibson took his own life six days after hackers exposes his name as one of those who had accessed the Ashley Madison website. His wife said his suicide note mentioned the site. "He talked about having his name on there, and he said he was just very, very sorry," she said.1

When examining Christians, it shouldn't be surprising that we fail to meet the standard we are called to live by. Christianity is a faith founded on grace and its central message is forgiveness. Christianity recognizes its adherents will fail; that's why Jesus taught we are to forgive seventy-times-seven. That doesn't mean we don't try, but it does mean that we will fail, sometimes in very big, very visible ways. Failure is not hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is Leveraging a Lie

What is true hypocrisy, then? Hypocrisy is simply lying by leveraging a moral standard. Basically, it means you wish other to uphold when it suits you, but you won't necessarily uphold it yourself or uphold it in all situations. It's being morally dishonest, and that makes it repugnant.

Do real hypocrites exist? Absolutely. For example, if you cheered Eric Holder's advice to the states' Attorneys General to ignore their own laws banning same sex marriage last year but you decry Davis' ignoring her governor's directive (without any passage of law) this year, you might be a hypocrite. If you only charge those with positions you don't like as hypocrites while failing to examine anyone who aligns with your beliefs might be a sign of hypocrisy.

While we are all guilty of acting in ways that could warrant the charge of hypocrisy, there is one more thing that must be said. For you who hold up hypocrisy as the litmus test of a belief's merit, then I suggest you too become a Christian. In all of history, there has only been one individual who never failed to live up to his teachings and who offers forgiveness for those who do: Jesus Christ. He's the solution to hypocrisy, and he died on a cross to prove it.


1. Seagull, Laurie. "Pastor Outed on Ashley Madison Commits Suicide." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 8 Sept. 2015. Web. 09 Sept. 2015.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Planned Parenthood is Selling Body Parts. Here's What You Can Do.

The plot of Michael Crichton's 1978 film Coma turns on a surgical resident who uncovers a private medical facility that induces comas in healthy, young patients in order to sell their organs on the black market. After the film's release, one reviewer cautioned "See it and worry" but Dennis Schwartz dismissed the film as "more entertaining than credible."

Yet, today the story is breaking that Planned Parenthood has been selling the organs of aborted babies on the black market for some time and they've even captured top Planned Parenthood staff negotiating a deal and explaining how they do it. Live Action News just released the hidden camera footage (embedded at the bottom of this post) along with the story of Planned Parenthood Federation Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola talking with two undercover reporters about how to order children's hearts, livers, legs, or other parts they desire.1

The video is gruesome. It shows the actual web-based order form that allows customers to select gestational age, the type of tissue you would like, the quantity, and shipping options, like these are automobile parts and not organs of a human being who must be killed for them to be harvested.

The undercover meeting with Nutacola is no easier to watch. There, she explains how they will alter their method of aborting the child in order to preserve whatever parts are requested by their customers. One undercover reporter asked, "How much of a difference can that actually make, if you know kind of what's expected or what we need?" Nutacola cooly responds:
It makes a huge difference. I'd say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they'll know where they're putting their forceps...

We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact. And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it's not vertex.
You may have missed the meaning of Nucatola's last statement about changing the presentation. She is stating that she will turn the baby in utero from a head-down position to a breech position of feet first in order to make the mother dilate more as the abortion progresses and the baby's head won't need to be crushed. That's the textbook definition of partial-birth abortion which is illegal under federal law. Of course so is the buying and selling of human fetal tissue. 2

What You Can Do About It

This is all horrifying and many will be shocked. Others will say, "What did you expect? The abortion industry has many gruesome stories." However, I think this particular case, given the high-level involvement and the clearly illegal nature of the acts affords us a unique opportunity.

1. Ask Your Elected officials to Revoke all Planned Parenthoood Government Funding
The level of corruption within Planned Parenthood is s patently obvious from the video. There, even PPFA President and CEO Cecile Richards is caught praising Nucatola after the reporter told here "We do fetal collection and she's been very helpful with figuring out who to talk to." It would take a fool to believe that Richards doesn't know what's going on especially when Planned Parenthood's lawyers are providing council on how to handle this from an organization's legal liability perspective.

Listen, Planned Parenthood, according to their own reports, received $524 million last year from various government grants.3 Given the horrific nature of these crimes, every person needs to call their elected official and demand the suspension of all grants to Planned Parenthood programs, no matter what their purpose, until this case can be properly investigated. The money stops now.

If you think this is a long shot, think again. It took only 24 days of public outcry over the Confederate battle flag to force the state of South Carolina to remove it from their capitol. Twenty four days for a change to happen that had no direct factor in the killing of those nine church members. Certainly something this terrible warrants investigation and given both houses of congress are currently controlled by Republicans who are less sympathetic to Planned Parenthood, now is the time to act.

2. Spread the Word.
I anticipate the major media outlets will ignore this story like they ignored the Gosnell trial. But if enough people make enough noise, they won't be able to turn away. If the House of Representatives debates pulling all funding for PPFA, the media will cover it. Therefore, we need to spread the word. Tweet about this. Share this story and share the video with everyone you know. Keep up the pressure. Challenge people to watch it. Don't let up. Make it news too big to ignore. If you are more outraged by a Confederate flag than this, you're a monster.

3. Pray
Lastly, let's pray that God will use this discovery to dismantle Planned Parenthood. PPFQA is the #1 abortion provider in the United States. They are based on the racist beliefs of Margaret Sanger and were formed as an avenue to practice eugenics. 4 Pray that God will open people's eyes and we can put an end to this bloody chapter in America's history.

In his review of the movie Coma, Schwartz believed that the film's premise wasn't creditable. Perhaps he may be right; the patients in the film simply weren't young enough. As the video shows, reborn babies are much easier to harvest and dismember for parts. See it and worry.


1."BREAKING: Planned Parenthood director caught on tape selling aborted ‘baby parts'" Live Action News. Live Action, Inc. 14 July 2015. Web
2. Prohibitions Regarding Human Fetal Tissue, §§ 6A-289g-2-289g-2 (2003). Web.
3. 2013-2014 Annual Report. Planned Paerenthood Federation of America. 2014. Page 21. Web.
4. Grossu, Arina. "Margaret Sanger, Racist Eugenicist Extraordinaire." Washington Times. The Washington Times, 5 May 2014. Web. 14 July 2015.
Image courtesy drsuparna [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Top Five Apologetics Blog Posts for June 2015

There was a lot to talk/write about in June with the Supreme Court's redefinition of marraige, the recent attack on churchgoers in Charleston, among other headlines. Last month's top five posts reflect those concerns as articles associated with the events made the top five. In fact, the top two articles nudged their way into the top five most popular of all time!

It was a record-breaking month at the blog as we surpassed 30,000 pageviews for the first time, helped by a couple of articles on atheism. Here are the top five apologetics blog posts for June.
  1. Responding to Atheist Critiques of Christian Hypocrisy
  2. Secularism isn't a Neutral Position
  3. How Do We Defend Christian Values to Non-Christian Audiences?
  4. Why God Doesn't Reduce the Evil in the World?
  5. The Events in Charleston Contradict the New Atheists

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Events in Charleston Contradict the New Atheists

The late Christopher Hitchens wrote a best-selling bromide against religion entitled God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. In that book, he claimed "As I write these words, and as you read them, people of faith are in their different ways planning your and my destruction, and the destruction of all the hard-won human attainments that I have touched upon. Religion poisons everything."1

Richard Dawkins takes a similarly dismissive view of religion in general and Christianity in particular. In chapter six of his book The God Delusion. Dawkins seeks to lay out how an evolutionary paradigm can account not only for self-preservation ,but altruistic actions such as older relatives caring for younger ones or acts of altruism that result in mutual benefit of both parties.2

Dawkins, Hitchens, Sam Harris and other atheists have all claimed that they base their beliefs on reason and evidence. They hold up evidence as the highest ideal. But the ruthless murders of black parishioners in Charleston have provided evidence contradicting the position that religion is detrimental to humanity. It is proving that Christianity has the power to transform a story into something very different than the expected narrative.

Different than expected

We have watched in horror as cities like Ferguson or Baltimore erupt into violent protests and citizens riot after the death of a single black man. In each of those cases, there was some considerable gray area as to the actions of the officers involved: Michael Brown had just stolen from a convenience store and wouldn’t comply with the officer’s requests. Freddy Gray was under arrest and was being transported when he died from injuries that may or may not have been inflicted accidentally.

In Charleston we have nine people attending a Bible study who were mercilessly shot by Dylann Roof with the intent, according to investigators, "to start a race war."3 Outrage over these events should have been more acute than the others, yet there have been no riots. What was the difference?

AME Elder and interim pastor Rev. Norvel Goff, Sr, explained, "A lot of folk expected us to do something strange and break out in a riot. They just don't know us because we are a people of faith, and we believe that when we put our forces and our heads together, working for a common good, there is nothing we cannot accomplish together in the name of Jesus."4

While the lack of looting and rioting is in itself noteworthy, that wasn’t the most amazing thing to happen in Charleston. Just 36 hours after Roof slaughtered them, the victims’ family members stood in court, stared directly at roof and they forgave him. CNN quotes victim Ethel Lance’s daughter as she said to Roof , "I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people but God forgives you, and I forgive you."5 

Felicia Sanders was in the church during Roof’s rampage. She saw her son Tywanza die while trying to reason with him. She and her daughter only survived by playing dead. Yet, Sanders looked at Roof and asked God for mercy for him. "Every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same. As we said in the Bible study, we enjoyed you. But may God have mercy on you."

These Christians were doing something that was the opposite of poisonous, something that in the natural order would make no sense at all. They were following the example of Jesus, who taught that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Jesus forgave his murderers from the Cross and his followers at the Emmanuel AME Church would seek to do the same.

The power of their actions was noticed by those both inside and outside the faith. Jewish columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote in his column, "Not being a Christian, I can only marvel at the dignity and courage of the victims' relatives who forgave the shooter. If I could ever manage such a thing, it would probably take me decades. It took them little more than a day."6 Charles C.S. Cooke tweeted the video of the families offering forgiveness and commented:
Did the fact that Christians who followed their Lord’s command poison things in South Carolina or is this evidence that directly contradicts that claim? There is no way for Dawkins, Harris, or the other New Atheists to spin this as some kind of evolutionarily advantageous action. It isn’t. In fact, forgiving a threat instead of destroying it would be evolutionary deleterious. It makes no sense given a naturalist accounting, but it makes all the sense in the world given a supernaturalist accounting.

For those atheists who say they’re all about reason and evidence, here it is. Anyone issuing a retraction yet?


1. Hitchens, Christopher. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Twelve Books, 2007. 23.
2. Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print. 217-218.
3. Ellis, Ralph, Greg Botelho, and Ed Payne. "Charleston Church Shooting: Questions Swirl around Suspect Dylann Roof." CNN. Cable News Network, 19 June 2015. Web. 24 June 2015.
4. Rodriguez, Vanessa. "Peace, Not Rioting at Charleston Church." Christian Examiner. Christian Examiner Newspapers, 22 June 2015. Web. 24 June 2015.
5. Ellis, 2015.
6. Goldberg, Jonah. "In the South, Grace and Dignity after Charleston Church Shootings." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 23 June 2015. Web. 24 June 2015.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rioting, Race, and the Root of Hardship

I watched in horror with much of the country yesterday as groups of young, violent men rioted in the streets, destroyed and looted property, and threw debris at the police. I listened to the residents who were interviewed and who were angry, not only at the violence, but at what they perceive as a system that is opposed to their success.

Over and over again, the common theme in the protesters and the residents' comments was that these people wanted to be heard. I believe that. While professional protesters and the media elevate tensions, one cannot ignore the real feelings of frustration, entrapment, and profiling those that come from the inner city experience throughout their lives. These people scream in the only way they know, with the violence that has surrounded them.

Are the Right People Listening?

I don't condone riots. This kind of lashing out is childish in its makeup. Those that want a better civilization may protest, but they can protest in a more civilized manner, a fact that Martin Luther King, Jr proved during his life. Besides, screaming frustration doesn't fix anything. You have to get the right message to the right listeners in order for it to be effective.

What is the real message? Who are those that should be listening? If I had to identify the primary disadvantage young blacks face today, I would immediately say it's the lack of fathers in black families. While stats like high school graduation rates for young blacks have risen to historic highs, according to the Pew Center,1 the number of black children being raised in an intact household has dropped enormously. NewsOne reports that 72 percent of black children are born into a single parent household.2 That means while one out of four people in the U.S. start their lives in a single-parent household, nearly three out of four black families do. That's a huge discrepancy.

The consequences of fatherless homes are well known. Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor3, twice as likely to be abused, and suffer from higher rates of school failure, behavioral problems, drug use, and loneliness.4 They are 5 times more likely to commit suicide, 32 times more likely to run away, 14 times more likely to commit rape, 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders, 20 times more likely to end up in prison, and children born to single mothers show higher levels of aggressive behavior than children born to married mothers.5

To me, the protests resemble a tantrum. In poorer communities, a single mother must work to provide an income since a father isn't there to do so. This not only puts incredible pressure on her, but forces the kids to raise themselves. Without a father, there is no anchor to propel the family upward economically or to model what it means to be an adult male in society. All of this was clearly laid out in 1965 in the Moynihan Report, diagnosing the problem of black stagnant economic mobility.6

As I write this, the United States Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments from those who seek to redefine marriage in the United States. Yet, for those who grew up in a culture where marriage was considered optional, where children are brought up without both biological parents committed to rearing them, the results are devastating.

There is no easy answer to the problems in places like Baltimore, or Ferguson, or South-Central Los Angeles. That's because there are no fathers to hear the screams of these children. It's easy to condemn the rioters, and their actions need to be condemned, but the problem cannot be solved by a different police force or a different educational system. To nurture civilly, one must nurture the building blocks of civilization itself, and all civilizations are built upon the family.


1. Fry, Richard. "U.S. High School Dropout Rate Reaches Record Low, Driven by Improvements among Hispanics, Blacks." Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, 02 Oct. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
2. NewsOneStaff. “72 Percent Of Black Kids Raised By Single Parent, 25% Overall In U.S.” NewsOne. Interactive Media, 2011. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.
3. “Statistics and Data on the Consequences of Father Absence and the Benefits of Father Involvement.” National Fatherhood Initiative. National Fatherhood Initiative, 2014. Web.
4. Wilcox, Brad. “Why Marriage Matters: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences.” National Marriage Project. National Marriage Project, 16 Aug. 2011. Web.
5. O'Block, Robert. “Roots of Uncertainty.” Annals of Psychotherapy and Investigative Health, Spring 2008. American Psychotherapy Association. Web.
6. Moynihan, Daniel P. The Negro Family: The Case For National Action. Rep. Washington, DC: Office of Policy Planning and Research United States Department of Labor, 1965. Print.
Image courtesy Telefonkiosk - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
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