March 03, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: Answers to 7 Key Questions

Are you familiar with key questions regarding the unfolding events in what has been dubbed "the Ukraine crisis" by many? My background as a missionary for 10 years in Kyiv and Simferopol Ukraine helps me to offer a perspective with regard to both eastern and western views. I don't wish to support or promote one particular political side of this issue, but, rather, to simply raise important questions and provide possible answers from a Christian perspective.

After an interim caretaker government had been installed in the capital of Kyiv,  it was noted that ousted President Yanukovych claims he is still the official president of Ukraine, though he is presently in Russia. Russia has taken control of Crimea, so far without firing a shot. And there are signs that the aggression will continue unabated. Interim prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk has stepped up the rhetoric, claiming that the announcement to invade Ukraine made by Russia's Vladimir Putin was not a threat, but "the declaration of war to my country".

Across the globe, Obama has threatened "costly" economic sanctions and isolationism against Russia as the Commander in Chief is presented in a Washington photo op on the phone wearing rugged Reaganesque blue jeans and a denim shirt. It seems that there are dramatic new developments in Ukraine news on a daily basis. But some of the underlying questions remain consistently important and poignant. Addressing these issues can help to shed some light on the situation.

1. The Ousting of Yanukovych: Was the overthrow and ouster of President Yanukovych in Kyiv valid, even though  the once "peaceful protests" eventually turned violent against the Yanukovych authorities and visa versa?

2. The Ethics of Military Invasions: Was Russia justified in its military invasion of Crimea? And would a military attack against Russian forces by Ukraine and other countries be justified in response?

3. Threats of Economic Sanctions and Isolationism from the West: Are threats against Russia by the West regarding economic sanctions and isolationism really an acceptable and adequate response to Russia's aggression?

February 10, 2014

Webclips Demonstrating How Rand’s Objectivist Definitions Presuppose Naturalism



When you see the word “objective” associated with the word “philosophy” you expect to find an approach to truth and meaning that is unbiased and, well, objective. Such is not the case with Rand’s Objectivism, however. It is difficult at first to discern whether Rand promotes Materialism or Naturalism, because Rand avoided identifying her beliefs with either. However, commonly accepted definitions of Naturalism seem to apply best to her propositions.

Naturalism is embraced in definitions from the very onset, as other metaphysical possibilities are simply ignored. Simply ignoring and censoring other valid metaphysical options, however, is not quite the same as logically refuting them. As one blogger put it, Rand attempted “to define God out of existence.” That’s just not cricket.

February 02, 2014

Definition of Metaphysical Primacy

Definition of metaphysical primacy: the state of being most important or strongest with regard to the transcendent or reality beyond the perceptible senses.

The above definition is based upon a logical approach towards the subject defined and the process of formulating definitions. Searches on the Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a definition of "metaphysical primacy" do not yield a definition. This issue came to my attention when I realized that the philosophy of Objectivism is based upon comparing two conditions of perceived metaphysical primacy without ever defining what metaphysical primacy is in the first place as a point of reference.This issue was pointed out in two articles. One is titled, Rand’s Primacy Argument Refuted and the other, Metaphysical Primacy, Timeless Truth and Atheist Presuppositionalism. Hopefully,  addressing and defining the subject of metaphysical primacy will help to bring some clarity to this subject for anyone interested in discussing and debating it. I welcome a critique of the ideas posted herein.

January 26, 2014

Rand's Primacy of Existence Argument Refuted


Ayn Rand’s primacy argument is basically an illogical atheist rant dressed up in a cheap tuxedo. As I’ll show, Rand eschews the most basic logical principles, offers a specious and false dichotomy, and presupposes materialism in the definitions of her philosophical argument (I use the term “philosophical argument “very loosely in the case of Objectivism).

By age 13, Ayn Rand had declared herself to be an atheist, as noted in a New York Magazine article. The same article declares that, “she repeatedly withheld or distorted facts in order to feed her own mythology.” This quote is not surprising to me at all. I’ve come to see how Rand withholds critical information in her philosophical definitions in order to promote atheistic materialism. Rand’s primacy argument highlighting her specious definitions of consciousness and existence may be likened to a rigged election in which two fraudulent candidates are presented and both stand for basically the same agenda.
 
How have Ayn Rand and her objectivist followers attempted to pull off their slight-of-hand in supporting their atheist-materialist philosophy? Like any effective scam or magic trick, the key to the deception is not immediately apparent. I’ve been able to identify and document many of the subtly deceptive and fraudulent aspects of Objectvism by examining articles written by objectivists and by asking pointed questions.

Outline
  
I.                    The Avoidance of Basic Logical Principles
II.                  An underhanded Substitution of Theist Primacy
III.                Presupposing Materialism in Definitions

January 12, 2014

Three Refutations of Objectivism

It's not every day that a secular humanist information source rips  into a secular philosophy that promotes secular atheism. That in and of itself speaks volumes. Nonetheless, RatonalWiki offers some choice words on Ayn Rand's philosophy, “Objectivism has not met wide acceptance in academia. When they bother to comment on it at all, academic philosophers usually dismiss it as a rather juvenile imitation of a real philosophy.” RationalWiki is not the Rosetta Stone of academic authority, but they do bring up some valid points, some of which I had already raised.

There are a number of reasons why a person would be justified in rejecting Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. First, it promotes an extremely warped value system that is simply untenable for society. Therefore, it may be rejected for pragmatic reasons. Second, it stands in conflict with valid science. Third, when its propositions are examined they are riddled with logical fallacies, especially with regard to Rand's primacy argument.

I.    Pragmatic Considerations Refute Objectivism

One pragmatic test of any philosophy is to ask the question, “If everyone adopted this philosophy, would this create a functional and desirable society? In the case of Rand’s Objectivism, the answer is a resounding no.
 
Consider what would society be like if everyone adopted the ideals of Objectivism.  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states, “Conspicuous by their absence from Rand's list of virtues are the “virtues of benevolence,” such as kindness, charity, generosity, and forgiveness.” Objectivism promotes selfishness as an ideal. Because Objectivism promotes selfishness and relativistic ethics, it is not really all that surprising that Ayn Rand glorified and romanticized non-consensual forced sexual advances of the hero (what most dictionaries would define as rape) for the sake of pleasure in her novel The Fountainhead, as quoted:
 

January 04, 2014

Metaphysical Primacy, Timeless Truth and Atheist Presuppositionalism

There are two aspects which stand out in definitions of metaphysics: the fundamental nature of being and the fundamental nature of the universe. There are two aspects which stand out in definitions of primacy: that which is most powerful and that which is preeminent. The concept of metaphysical preeminence ties into the concept of timeless and universal truth. At the time Jesus was physically on earth, Pontius Pilate mockingly derided the concept of truth with a rhetorical question for Jesus, "What is truth?" According to theism, Jesus did not have to answer this question for Pilate with words because Jesus as God incarnate standing before him embodied the essence of metaphysical primacy and timeless truth, that is, God's existence.

The reason I am pointing out these basic definitions is because a certain atheist blogger, Dawson Bethrick, seems to be hell bent on linking theism with a “primacy of consciousness” in his attempt to philosophically prove that God does not exist, as noted in a previous argument he prepared, linked here. In contrast to Pilate's mocking and skeptical tone, Bethrick has assumed an over-confident tone that corresponds with multiple logical fallacies, as noted in my first rebuttal, linked here, and as defined in logical outlines presented in this present post.

December 29, 2013

Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted


(Note: there have been a few posts since this one on this subject, including the following:  Rand's Primacy of Existence Argument Refuted,  Three Refutations of Objectivism  and   Metaphysical Primacy, Timeless Truth and Atheist Presuppositionalism)

I will give credit to Dawson Bethrick for agreeing to my request to provide a summarized form of his primacy argument against God’s existence, as quoted in blue at the end of this post. Stephen Law was unwilling to provide any such outline or summary of his favored and long-winded EGC argument, as addressed here.
 
No amount of prolific prose can make up for precise premises in a structured and logical philosophical argument with a logical syntax. And it is truly a rare treat to find an atheist apologist willing to offer such an attempt at an argument in these terms. The reason why it is so rare is because summarized logical arguments distill elaborate presentations down to their essential features and it becomes much easier to identify and address logical flaws and fallacies.

December 26, 2013

Behind the Duck Dynasty Scandal

There are a few interesting articles on the Internet regarding the Duck Dynasty scandal, as defined from different perspectives. One of the most prolific alternative news bloggers, Michael Snyder, posted some valuable quotes and comments in this article: 15 Quotes About The Duck Dynasty Controversy That Every American Should See. Another blogger, Joe Carter posted some interesting facts on the Duck Dynasty in this post: 9 Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty.  

What stands out to me is the manner in which lies, quite slanderous, are promulgated by the mainstream media in order to further secular agendas. Claiming that a person embraces "hatred" towards an individual or group simply because the person disagrees with their moral view is uncivilized and, in reality, it is this type of behavior that should not be tolerated, not the expression of one's spiritual or philosophical beliefs. Unfortunately, As Snyder has pointed out, the US is devolving into a politically correct police state demanding submission in lieu of serious consequences.
 
As I've noted in other posts, strong moral relativism is an extremely weak philosophical position. If anything, cutting-edge secular philosophers, such as Sam Harris, have demonstrated profound uncertainty on the nature of objective moral codes. Those who vilify Christians for embracing objective biblical standards have no logical or philosophical basis for doing so. If you haven't looked into this, now would be a good time. Read, Why Sam Harris' Human Flourishing is not a Valid Basis of Human Morality.
 

November 14, 2013

Quantum physics proves that there IS an afterlife, claims scientist

Mail Online has posted a review of a theory outlined in a book by scientist, Robert Lanza,  Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, in which he challenges scientific preconceptions regarding the nature and origin of life.

Before looking into his controversial theory, consider Lanza's credentials, outlined as follows:

October 22, 2013

Experts: Pagans Celebrate Halloween Today as Religious Holiday

Early Druid Bone-fire
No one would likely argue against the fact that Halloween traditions have been passed down from ancient Druid and Wiccan practices. The question is, Once you are familiar with the true religious roots of Halloween and the manner in which Satanists, Wiccans and Pagans honor it and celebrate it today, would you really want to support it?

Recent archaeological evidence suggests that Druids committed cannibalism and ritual human sacrifice.[1] And the manner of which human bones have been discovered suggests this occurred on a wide scale, such as described, "...mass of bone that was just dumped in a mass like broken up Weetabix at the bottom of this pit,"

These types of accounts add weight to Julius Caesar's accounts, such as a described "wicker man," a huge wicker human effigy used by the ancient Druids for burning large quantities of human sacrifices in order to appease their gods. There is a theory today that Druid sacrifices increased as the Roman armies advanced and gained advantage.

According to a Digital Journal post, Wicca is America's fastest growing religion. Based on past research, Wicca grew an average annual growth of 143% for the period 1990 to 2001. According to The Statesman Anne Elizabeth Wynn claims "The two most recent American Religious Identification Surveys declare Wicca, one form of paganism, as the fastest growing spiritual identification in America". The "Free Press Release Distribution Service" claims Wicca is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States as well." OK, now guess what one of the most popular holiday dates for Wiccans is? You guessed it, October 31.

1. The U.S. Army defines October 31st as a religious holiday:

Mitch Horowitz describes how close to home the religious symbolism of Halloween hits: "If you want to watch the night of goblins and ghosties morph into a serious and historically grounded religious observance, look no further than the U.S. military."[2]

October 15, 2013

US Army defines Christian family ministry as 'domestic hate group'


The ministry in question is the American Family Association. They are being targeted because they promote biblical values not in league with the trend towards promoting same sex marriage. I had pointed out in 2011 how bestiality is now legal in the US Army. It was officially legalized along with sodomy when the US Senate repealed laws against these practices.
This present harsh position by the US Army is similar to a quote that had been previously offered by the US government DHS office that was later challenged by lawyer Jay Sekulow:
“Right-wing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.” The following text outlines how "traditional family values" are considered a serious threat to US servicemen.

October 12, 2013

Landfillharmonic: Redemption and Inspiration in Paraguay

There is so much negative news today, it's refreshing to hear something good for a change. It's been called "Landfilharmonic" and other clever names. Basically, teachers and children in the slums of Paraguay have been making classical instruments out of recycled landfill materials in order to create music, instill hope and bring fresh inspiration.



One of the underlying messages is that both people and material things have a value that we are not always conscious of or willing to acknowledge. Is there any connection between this inspiring story and the spiritual awakening that seems to be occurring there?

September 07, 2013

Christians and Collateral Damage in Middle Eastern Invasions

Well, it's almost September 11th again and, flashback, the US war machine appears to be gearing up for another Middle East invasion, despite the fact that this time published polls show that most Americans are opposed to a US-Syrian invasion. The MSM propaganda is widespread, however, as it was at the onset of the Iraq War. As was the case then, the wording of the establishment media has already found the Syrian government guilty:

"...following White House confirmation that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people,"

Hmmm. Reminds me a bit of the "confirmed" WMD found in Iraq. In reality, there seems to be more evidence showing that anti-government videos were fabricated. For example, Mother Agnes, who lives in Syria, offers some serious criticism of a video that ended up on Reuters.  On the other hand, there is widespread evidence that al-Queda affiliated rebels, the ones Obama and company want to support, are the ones using chemical weapons.

There are images of Syrian rebel forces loading blue canisters, of what may likely be chemical weapons, onto artillery equipment. There are also videos of apparent sarin gas attacks on a village, as noted at this link. There is also a video of a rebel claiming responsibility for gas attacks in Syria. Do we know with absolute certainty that these are not staged images and videos? No. But there is more documented evidence in support of this scenario than the scenario being peddled by President Obama and John Kerry.

Forms of collateral damage from Middle East interventions

Let's forget for a moment that Russian and Chinese battle ships are staged in the Middle East ready to jump in at the onset of any US intervention and begin WW III. What kinds of collateral damage has been noted in US- Middle East interventions in the past?

For starters "According to a report by “costofwar.org” 15,500 to 17,000 civilians have been killed as a result of America’s invasion of Iraq and still counting in Afghanistan." According to a new study on US veterans, "...more veterans are killing themselves than previously thought, with 22 deaths a day - or one every 65 minutes, on average." Is this a result of having been involved in unjust wars, torture and prisoner abuse? Perhaps this is a factor. One of the least considered groups of people, the Middle East Christians, offers more to consider. The above map, sourced from a Christian persecution website, outlines how Christians are already being beaten in Syria for their faith. The Iraq and Afghanistan invasions have demonstrated that US intervention in the area do not help to alleviate Christian persecution, but increase it. There are a select few that stand to profit from these invasions.

September 03, 2013

Christian Word Art Cast Relief: Romans 8.28

 
Verses in the Bible are inspiring and encouraging for believers because they remind us of important spiritual truths . Romans 8.28 is one of my favorite verses and I decided to make this sculptural relief as a fairly big reminder of God's promise: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (NKJV)
 
This relief is made with sand from Towd's Point in Southampton, NY. I tried to add a little sand from North Sea Harbor boat landing area, but it was too dark. I had to go back to Towd's Point beach to finish it. I've also made a cast concrete version that is painted with different colors and I'll add a photo in the future.
 
The frame is made from old transport pallets and ceiled with a transparent, organic sealant. Using reclaimed materials helps to remind us how we have been redeemed.
 
Tags: Christian word art , sculpture relief, Romans 8.28, Bible promises, reclaimed materials

August 24, 2013

Barna Poll: Only 14% of Today’s Christians Consistent with Jesus


As I've been looking into the subject of Christian authenticity, I noticed a recent poll regarding the perceptions of Christians in society. The Barna poll was published April 30, 2013 and asks the question, "Are Christians more like Jesus or more like the Pharisees?" The findings? Christians today are more like the Pharisees.

"The findings reveal that most self-identified Christians in the U.S. are characterized by having the attitudes and actions researchers identified as Pharisaical. Just over half of the nation’s Christians—using the broadest definition of those who call themselves Christians—qualify for this category (51%). They tend to have attitudes and actions that are characterized by self-righteousness.

On the other end of the spectrum, 14% of today’s self-identified Christians—just one out of every seven Christians—seem to represent the actions and attitudes Barna researchers found to be consistent with those of Jesus." 

August 20, 2013

Jesus' Activism Example is Quite Relevant Today

A lot of Christians have been taught to believe that it is "more spiritual" to avoid engaging in political issues altogether. On a very basic level, however, this opinion runs contrary to what scripture teaches. Christians are specifically called to be salt and light in an increasingly corrupt and dark world (Matthew 5.13-16), and the implication is that we are to have a positive influence on the society around us. Jesus, as I'll show, was highly involved in political issues in his day. And we have a lot to learn by his examples.

Many people don't even notice Christians today because we tend to blend right in with the scenery, not making a peep regarding extreme corruption, torture, indefinite imprisonment without a trial, the remote control bombing of non-combatant civilians, and so on. This is perhaps one of the main reasons that the Church is often seen as fairly irrelevant today in society. Don't get me wrong, I understand the main reason Christ came was to bring salvation to the lost. However, if you look at the effects of Jesus' life on society, you'll note that women became more respected, marriage was elevated and became more honored, the poor and the sick became viewed as valuable human beings, and so on. All of these changes came to pass because Jesus was not afraid to question social norms and status-quo political activities.


And when I refer to political activity, I don't mean mindlessly cheering for neoconservatives and
status- quo Republicans who support torture, indefinite imprisonment without trial, and so on. No, I am simply using the word activism in a broad sense, in simply acknowledging that Christians are to be involved in society and have compassion for others in society, not just people in their local church.

Many pastors teach that we are to submit to the government without question because of Romans 13, so long as we are not personally called to break any biblical laws. This is a very self-centered view of society in which corruption must be at your doorstep and in your face before you will consider taking a stand for truth and justice. This is not the example Jesus offered in scripture, who went out into society and became a positive influence wherever he was engaged.

August 07, 2013

Authenticity, Truth and Love in Christ

The word authenticity has come up in a variety of situations lately in my life and from a variety of people. Everyone has offered that authenticity is a good thing. But how does one really measure it? Is it as simple as biting a coin to see if it's a softer and more valuable metal, such as gold?

One of my friends is a secular humanist and a practicing homosexual. He can sense when someone is being fake and he dislikes it when gays are "affected" per se, with the predictable and dramatically exaggerated "gay gestures" and cues. He is extremely passionate about the Trayvon Martin case and seeing "justice" enforced against George Zimmerman, who he is adamantly certain is guilty of murder. What's ironic is that my friend is passionate about justice in this case while at the same time he believes that morality is completely relative with no objective basis whatsoever.

July 25, 2013

US Military Censors Chaplain and Atheists Demand Punishment

Breitbart News 07/24/13

A Christian chaplain in the military is being officially censored for engaging in free speech, and anti-Christian activists are demanding he be punished.

Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes is a Christian chaplain currently serving in the U.S. Air Force. He is stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. As an ordained clergyman whose duties are to provide religious instruction and spiritual counseling, he has a page on the base’s website called “Chaplain’s Corner.”

Reyes recently wrote an essay entitled, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II.” This common saying is attributed to a Catholic priest in World War II, made famous when President Dwight D. Eisenhower said during a 1954 speech: "I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth that there are no atheists in the foxholes."

See original post here.