Americanism v. Communism

When I graduated from high school in 1970, Americanism v. Communism was a required course of study.  The purpose of the course was to teach us the differences between these two political and economical perspectives.  There was a time when the educational system, in Florida at least, thought it was important that students should know the fundamental differences between the two.  I remember our teacher, Mrs. Glass, told us the time would come when people in America would not know the difference between them and would willingly embrace socialism disguised as democracy.  I wonder if that time has arrived.

     Some time ago the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States began requiring businesses that provided health care benefits to their employees to provide preventive reproductive services.  Specifically, businesses were mandated to provide the “morning-after” and “week-after” pills which are abortifacients.

     The Green family who own the retail giant known as Hobby Lobby oppose having to pay for emergency contraceptives that effect an abortion for religious reasons.  When HHS refused to allow exceptions on religious grounds, Hobby Lobby filed suit in September of 2012 in federal court.  The initial ruling went against the mega retailer, but a recent decision this past June by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s findings.

     Hobby Lobby’s position is predicated on The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 that provides the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling government interest.”

     I fail to see a compelling interest on the part of the government here.  Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who thought it was a good idea to hand out free condoms to school children, thinks private businesses should now provide abortive drugs to those adults who never learned to use the condoms as kids.  If Sebelius believes it is that important for adults to have access to abortive pills, why doesn’t she lead the call for the government to offer them free of charge, like her condoms-for–kids policy.

     Instead she is one of the petitioners on an appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Hobby Lobby case.  The suit she and her fellow federal litigants are filing says, in part, “The question presented is whether RFRA allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.”

     Sebelius and her allies framed the issue well. But the issue is not if Hobby Lobby has a right to “deny” the coverage; the issue is can the federal government require Hobby Lobby to “pay” for the coverage.  The express purpose of the RFRA is to limit the government’s authority to force a person, in this case the owners of a corporation, to act contrary to their religious convictions.  Can the government make a private corporation provide after-fornication pills to its employees?

     This issue would not even go to trial in a communist controlled country.  The government would lay down the law and that would be the end of it.  But given Justice Anthony Kennedy’s propensity to use his swing vote on the high court to make moral rulings instead of legal rulings, I do not think the ultimate result will be different than that in a communist country.  Kennedy’s ruling to deny the citizens of California standing and setting aside DOMA for moral rather than legal causes were blatant abuses of judicial authority that do not bode well for Hobby Lobby.

     Few remember that when Anthony Kennedy was nominated by Ronald Reagan to the Supreme Court, he met privately with Jessie Helms, an ultra-conservative, and with Ted Kennedy (no relation), the ultra-liberal, both members of the Senate Judicial Committee.  Both men gave Kennedy a hearty endorsement.  I said then Kennedy had missed his calling; he should have been a politician not a judge.  I realize now he was a politician all along who also happens to be a judge.

     Hobby Lobby’s chances with Kennedy on the bench do not look good.  In Proverbs 29:26 we read, “Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord.”  Kennedy will not have the last word.  The real Supreme Court does not convene down here.

Will God Someday Rule out the Possibility of Science?

Anthropologists tell us that religion evolved among humans as a means of explaining those things they observed of natural phenomena they did not understand.  I am not saying that statement is true; it is merely a humanist explanation for the observed existence of religion.  As the advent of scientific investigation began to debunk some superstitions the scientific community has become increasingly, well, cocky.  They must think because they have figured a few things out, they’ll be able to figure everything out.

A year ago in a Yahoo news article entitled Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God? Natalie Wolchover posited “Over the past few centuries, science can be said to have gradually chipped away at the traditional grounds for believing in God.”  Of course Natalie is referring to the humanist concept of religion and God.  Natalie continues “Much of what once seemed mysterious…can now be explained by…science.”

I would be quick to agree that the scope of scientific discoveries is mind-boggling, and mankind’s advancements in technology seem to happen at breath-taking speeds, but I am not ready to dismiss my faith in God because of a few human accomplishments.  After all, it was God who told Daniel that in the last days “knowledge will increase (Daniel 12:4).”

Natalie’s conclusions are drawn in part from the views of a theoretical cosmologist with the California Institute of Technology, Sean Carroll.  Sean believes “science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever.”  It seems Natalie and Sean are on the same page as Sean says, “As we learn more about the universe, there’s less and less need to look outside it for help.”

Natalie and Sean seem to have everything figured out until we get to the subtitle “Beginning of time” when they concede that while the Big Bang theory is a good explanation of how the universe began what happened before the beginning is “murky.”  That’s an understatement.  What theoretical physicists and cosmologists know about the split second before the Big Bang is not murky; it is blank, nada, nothing.  It gets murkier.

The theory that the universe began 13.7 billion years ago is predicated upon the assumption that everything in the universe is moving away from the blast, and as would be expected based on the laws of physics, slowing down.  Since we are able to calculate the speed of things in the universe, it is merely a matter of extrapolating back to the beginning of time assuming the slowing of the universe has remained constant.  It gets more murky.

Recent calculations indicate the universe is speeding up not slowing down.  This implies that the speed at which galaxies and planetary systems are moving in relation to each other has not remained constant.  Since current theories about when the universe began were predicated on what scientists imagined to be true and not what they observed (nobody has been around for the last 13.7 billion years to observe and record the speed of things in the universe), scientists’ theory regarding the beginning of time is probably off…by a few billion years…give or take.

It seems that when scientists attempt to shine the light of enlightenment on the distant past things do not get brighter; they get murkier.  This is because from a purely scientific perspective the distant past is unobservable.  The same is true about the future; it is wholly beyond the scope of scientific inquiry because it is unobservable.

This is why when Natalie and Sean and others like them predict science will rule out the need for God, I realize this is not something they have observed about the future.  It is merely their theory about the future probably predicated on their faith in science and lack of faith in God.

In 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen Paul makes a statement in verse twelve, “…now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”  Paul says now we have a partial knowledge, but we will eventually dwell in the presence of the omniscient God and our knowledge will be full.  If I understand Paul correctly the believer’s eternal access to the all-knowing God will afford him a knowledge that Einstein would envy.

If religion is the invention of man to explain what is observed, then theories are the invention of science to explain what it has not observed.  Some say science will eventually rule out the possibility of God, but the Bible says God will eventually rule out the need for science.  Given the Scriptures’ track record on predictions, I’ll go with God on this one.

Expelled?

When Erin Shead was told by her teacher to write a paper on an idol she looked up to, Erin wrote about God.  “God is my idol, I will never hate him.  He will always be the number one person I look up to” wrote the innocent ten year-old.  She went on to say, “I also love Jesus.”  That little girl had no idea that a simple classroom assignment would create such a stir.

     Erin’s teacher at Lucy Elementary in Millington, Tennessee, told her she could not write her paper about God being her idol, and told little Erin the paper could not even remain on school property.  When Erin’s mother, Erica Shead, discovered what the teacher had told her daughter she was livid.

     Ever since the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in Abington School District v. Schempp in 1963, making Madalyn Murray O’Hair a household name, its ruling has been misconstrued.  In layman’s terms the High Court said an employee of the government such as a public school teacher in a public school classroom cannot lead her students in prayer or read to them from the Bible.  How a college educated teacher can misunderstand that is hard for me to fathom.

     So let me break it down for you.  This decision only prohibits what a teacher can do.  There is nothing in this ruling that prohibits a student from exercising his or her First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.  This means if a student wants to take his Bible to school and read it during his free time he can.  It means a student is free at appropriate times so say grace over her lunch or pray before taking a test.  It has been jokingly said that as long as there are tests there will be prayer in school.  It also means if a ten year-old girl is asked to write a paper about her idol, she can write about God.

     Here’s another newsflash.  A teacher is allowed to bring her Bible to school to read during her free time.  She too can thank God for her lunch if she wishes.  There is nothing in this ruling that prohibits a teacher from exercising her freedom of religion during her free time at school.  The Court only said a teacher cannot lead her students in prayer or read to them from the Bible.  For some to say prayer and Bible reading has been taken out of our schools is both untrue and misleading.

     There are still concerns.  I was reminded just this past week that The Gideons can pass out Bibles to men in prison, but not to children in school.  Thanks to another Tennessee controversy, the trial of Thomas Scopes in 1925 in Dayton, educators can now monkey around with science, but cannot teach creation.  We can’t teach children they are created in the image of God, but we can teach them they are nothing more than an animal, the random product of a mindless process that began by accident, and called evolution.

     Why is the theory of evolution excluded from rigorous scientific investigation?  An Ohio State School Board member said, “it is deeply unfair to the children of this state to mislead them about science” as she voted to strike language from Ohio State’s science standards that called for students to “investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.”  If evolution is scientific fact, why do educators want to exclude scientific analysis of the theory?  If all the roads of life’s origin and complex diversity leads to the theory of evolution, why are evolutionists saying don’t read the map?

     The public schools teach our children they are animals and then complain when they act like one.  Those metal detectors you see at public schools are not there to try and prevent a student from smuggling a Bible into school in his book bag.  They are there to try and prevent students from bringing guns, knives and pipe bombs to class.  We might not be in this situation if we had taught our children they have an image to live up to, and not a lineage to live down.

     Has God been expelled from the public classroom?  No, you actually cannot keep Him out.  He is just being ignored for the most part.  But we need to exercise the few freedoms that remain.  More freedoms have been lost through indifference and desuetude than have ever been taken away.

Professing to be wise

     “My story is almost always met with surprise: How could and atheist convert to Christianity at Harvard, the bastion of secular intellectual elitism.”  This is the opening line of an article written by Jordan Monge in which she questions the findings of a study entitled The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity: A Meta-Analysis and Some Proposed Explanations.  The research in question covered 63 studies on religion and intelligence conducted over eighty years and found that, statistically speaking; the more intelligent a person was the more likely they were to reject religious teachings.

     Analyzing 63 studies conducted over eighty years is a significant undertaking.  I usually find those who do such research have a point they want to prove.  That is, they find what they are looking for, which helps to bolster their reputation and maintain the flow of financial support for their research.

     Monge is quick to point this out, “The way they framed their study suggests an implicit bias in the way scholars think about religion.”  Monge shows this view is confirmed by Frank Furerdi, an atheist sociologist, when he says, “Secular researchers are likely to discover what they already suspect…social science research turns into advocacy research.”  Like Mark Twain said, “Facts are stubborn things, statistics are much more pliable.”  Statistics can be twisted to prove most anything you want them to say.

    Monge goes on to make the case that even if a statistical correlation exists it does not prove causation.  While this is a common attack on statistical conclusions, she states her case cogently, “Just because intelligent people are less likely to be religious doesn’t mean that their brilliance causes them to reject religion.”  And what about men like Saint Augustine, Sir Isaac Newton, and C. S. Lewis to name a few?  No one would claim these men were mental midgets, but their intellect did not stand between them and faith in God.

     Monge goes on to make a very good argument that brains and belief are not necessarily antithetical in her article Why Intelligent People Are Less Likely to Be Religious: And how our expectations for Christians in education are changing published in the Christian Post online edition.  The article was very readable and informative.  Her closing statement made me realize our college bound high school grads may not be in as much danger as we suspect, “the university taught me to think rationally, to question well, to delight in knowledge, it was the best place I could come to learn how to worship God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind.”

     It has been my experience that most people who claim to be atheists, retreat from it when confronted with the impossibility of proving a negative.  You cannot logically prove something does not exist, because the evidence that it does not exist, is equally non-existent.  So then they claim to be agnostics; they don’t know if God exists.  But if they are honest with themselves, like Antony Flew, discoveries in the realm of science make a strong circumstantial argument for the existence of an intelligent Designer.  This leads one to embrace Deism, as Flew did.  And I suspect, if he had lived long enough, Flew would have become a Christian theist.

     Everything in that last paragraph may have been, in part, why the psalmist wrote, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God” Psalm 14:1.  It is illogical or foolish to say there is no God.  The reason people reject the God of the Bible is not for intellectual reasons, but for moral reasons.  People who reject the knowledge of God do so because they want to live their life as they choose and please without the interference of biblical morality.

     Paul tells us “of men who suppress the truth [God’s existence] in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” Romans 1:18-19.  This is the truth of the matter; man rejects the existence of God, even though he knows He does exist, because to admit His existence would be to admit the morality of the Scriptures.  The rejection of God is for moral reasons, not intellectual ones.

     This is why Paul goes on to write, “Professing to be wise, they became fools” Romans 1:22.