Religious Liberty Exemptions Aren’t Necessary (According to the NYT)

The people on the New York Times editorial staff have either tipped their hand or are simply bad writers. In a recent editorial, the NYT stated that the religious exemption clauses in the new Gay Marriage law were unnecessary because of “Constitutional protection,” yet they go on to say in the next paragraph, “…we are deeply troubled by their discriminatory intent. The whole purpose of this law should be to expand civil rights without shedding other protections in the process.”

They are troubled by religious organizations and not-for-profit organizations affiliated being exempted from the process? If the Constitution protects religious liberty, then why would they bring up the “discriminatory intent” of allowing such provisions in the law? Obviously those provisions were added into the law so the issue wouldn’t be left to some court, where the court could rule that churches are obligated to marry homosexual couples. And there’s the rub – by putting the provisions into the law, no one can sue a church for refusing to marry a same-gender couple, nor can they sue a not-for-profit organization that refuses the same couple to use their buildings or for other reasons (for instance, adoption agencies and the Boy Scouts).

The idea is that if one were allowed to sue such religious organizations then there is a possibility that a court could uphold such beliefs and actions on those beliefs as discrimination. It’s not enough to have had gay marriage past, rather some feel they must force others to act and think in a certain way. Even if the religious organizations are wrong and hurtful in their stances, certainly a freedom-loving nation is willing to allow people the freedom to be wrong, at least to a certain degree.

I’m not saying anything about the gay marriage law or gay marriage in general. I’m simply saying that I support religious liberty. If a non-muslim man chose to marry a muslim woman, a mosque wouldn’t recognize the marriage or perform the ceremony until he converted. That mosque has the right to act in such a way. So long as a religious organization doesn’t explicitly call for violence against a particular group, they are within their religious rights to act as they please (and only the most ignorant or radical liberal would say that simply being against homosexual marriage is an explicit call for violence). But in our Orwellian world the law must also act against thoughts, not just actions, because we must force everyone to conform to one way of thinking. It’s the Secular Borg – resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.

Message Board Academics or The Intellectual Collapse of Naturalism

Today the New York Times has brought to the populace a debate that was essentially happening behind the academic curtain. Barbara Forrest published an article critical of Francis Beckwith’s work concerning the Constitutionality of teaching intelligent design. Now, Beckwith is a philosophical critic of ID, going so far as to say that he rejects ID, but still believes there might be constitutional ground to allow it to be taught in school (even if he thinks this is ultimately a bad idea).

Forrest’s response was less than academic, which is fine for a blog or an article in a popular magazine; though uncivil, it would hardly warrant an outcry or any second-guessing. The problem, however, is that Forrest was writing in an academic journal concerning the philosophy of science, one where ad hominem and genetic fallacies ought to be avoided. Sadly, Forrest’s article primarily consisted of attacking Beckwith’s Catholic background in order to prove her point that ID isn’t Constitutionally protected; in other words, she went after both the academic and personal character of Beckwith to establish ground for tossing out his claims.

Rather than argue for the validity of ID or debate the Constitutional merits of allowing ID into the classroom, I think there are bigger issues going on here that people have ignored (and one that is ignored in the NYT article). First, that the guest editors and editor in chief didn’t catch the ad hominem prior to releasing the article online betrays either a massive bias or inability to spot faulty reasoning. Secondly, while many in Forrest’s camp are arguing that Synthese was wrong for issuing an apology, none are acknowledging that she was wrong for writing the article in the first place. Third, someone who is a critic of ID was still targeted for simply defending the possible legality of teaching it, which amounts to a closing off of the debate. Finally, and most importantly, we’re finally beginning to see the intellectual credibility for naturalism erodes, which is both good and bad. Continue reading

The Need for Classical Education

I remember when I was in high school having to take a test that evaluated what type of job I would be best suited for. Little did I know that by taking the test, I would be encouraged to pursue such a career, even if such a career isn’t what I wanted. Thankfully, I wasn’t forced to pursue any of the career options.

In reflecting on those past experiences, I have noticed how more and more high schools and colleges are becoming more technical, that is, we’re experts on specific subjects and are fed information like computers, but we miss out on the bigger picture. That is because we have a pragmatic educational system rather than a classical educational system. Under such a pragmatic system, certain subjects simply don’t matter because they aren’t “practical.”

My reason for writing this entry was inspired by a New York Times Op-Ed piece by NY Times editor David Brooks. Brooks brings up the point that humanities are dying, but I would argue that the humanities are dying for reasons other than job security.

1) The humanities aren’t practical – in high school students are pushed to get a degree that creates jobs. My degree is in Philosophy, one of the most abstract degrees a person can get. The question I get asked all the time is, “How can you get a job with your degree?” The question I often fire back is, “How can you think without my degree?” Similar to what Brooks pointed out in his opinion piece, by studying philosophy (or English, or History, or another of the humanities), you begin to understand human nature more, which makes you a better thinker (which, in turn, actually does have practical ramifications at work).

2) The humanities have destroyed themselves – for years professors in the humanities have contradicted the purpose of their subjects. English teachers began to buy into deconstruction, taking away the form and structure of the English language, leaving little point to studying the English language. If no one can really understand each other, then why learn how to communicate? Philosophy, which is the love of wisdom (and wisdom is the discovery and application of truth), was betrayed by so-called philosophers, saying that there was no truth. They sang that the end of philosophy was near and it was so. History teachers taught that history was made by the victors and that history was tainted. History had to be deconstructed and applied to modern understandings, thus negating any reason to look at history through the eyes of those who lived it.

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Separation of Church and State

After reading a Washington Post article dripping in sarcasm, as well as other articles from ABC, MSNBC, and the New York Times, I decided to finally send in a response. No doubt, my response will never be read, but hey, why not?

The overall feeling I get is that if you hold to certain conservative morals, you shouldn’t let those morals affect your political choices. This led to the following email from me to the Washington Post:

It would appear that the media is quite ignorant of history. How quickly they forget that it was a conservative man who, through his religious convictions,  believed God had called him to reform the culture for God’s glory. If such a  politician made the claim today that he felt God had called him to reform  society, he would be laughed at and ridiculed. But who would laugh at and  ridicule William Wilberforce in the modern era, the man who almost single-handily defeated the slave trade and slavery itself in the British  empire?

In his journal, Wilberfoce stated he felt God calling him to, “…the abolition of slavery and the reformation of manners [society]…”. His arguments were dripping in his Christianity, so much so that Lord Melborne argued that Wilberforce’s arguments should be cast aside because, “Such a [tragedy] on our society when religion is mixed with politics.” Thus, it was the secularists, the agnostics, the atheists, and the Deists of Wilberforce’s day who were supporting slavery; it was the Christians who were opposing it. It was arguments based on Scripture and Christian principles that ultimately did the following (via Wilberforce):

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