Author Archives: Cory Tucholski

Dr. Moreau & Why Christianity is Different

I’ve been asked, “What makes Christianity different than any other religion?”

Answer: it addresses a fundamental problem of human nature in a way superior to all other religions.

The problem in question is ontological — can we overcome our natural inclinations through sheer willpower alone?  Can we train away our very selves?  Or, put another way, can nurture overcome our nature? Read the rest of this entry

Another Take: Pregnancy is Like a Traffic Accident

In this post, I argued that pregnancy is like a traffic accident:

If I needed a ride home from work, and one of my employees was kind enough to offer a ride, does that means I consent only to the ride home?  Well, actually, it means I give tacit approval to whatever happens on the ride home — whether I like it or not.  In other words, I can’t roll a d20 against my intelligence and disbelieve something I don’t like away.

For example, if the employee ran a red light and another car crashed into my side of the car, paralyzing me from the waist down.  A grim outcome to be sure, and I can seek monetary damages against the employee for medical expenses and rehab.  But I can’t wish the paralysis away.

In a way, abortion is the magic disbelieve roll.  “I’m not ready,” or “I don’t want to be a parent yet,” or any of the other excuses (and they are excuses) one manufactures.  The fact of the matter of is sex is tacit consent to pregnancy, since pregnancy is a possible result of sex.  We are taught in grade school that that is the case, so there isn’t an excuse for not knowing.

Agree or disagree with my analogy, I’m not the only one who uses it.  Here, Clinton Wilcox argues along similar lines, but I think he phrases it a little bit better:

When someone drives a car, they are taking on certain risks, such as the possibility of getting into an accident. Now, if you do get into an accident, you should not necessarily be forced to live with pain, injuries, etc., that may result from it. You also may not be at fault for it as the other driver may be. Or in some cases no one may be at fault for it.

So while you don’t necessarily have to live with the consequences, the person at fault does have to make it right by paying for the other person’s medical bills, paying to repair their car, etc. (or having their insurance do it, if they’re insured). They can’t just walk away and say, “Sorry, I consented to drive my car but I did not consent to get into an accident. You’re on your own.” Read the rest of this entry

Sam Harris’s Challenge

Prolific atheist Sam Harris put an intriguing tweet up yesterday:

I’d love to take Sam’s money.  What do I have to do?

Anyone who believes that my case for a scientific understanding of morality is mistaken is invited to prove it in 1,000 words or less. (You must refute the central argument of the book—not peripheral issues.) The best response will be published on this website, and its author will receive $1000. (source)

All right.  I’m game.  I wanted to read that book, anyway.  I also wanted to get some more material for this blog.  So starting in about a week, I will blog my way through Dr. Harris’s book.

Then, I will consolidate the best of my replies into one executive summary of about 1,000 words.  That I will send to Dr. Harris on the due date next year.

It’s on!

Housecleaning!!

I have been largely absent from the blogosphere recently, and I hope to change that by getting back into it.  I’d like to reiterate what I said at the beginning of the year:  I have moved my focus from apologetics to fiction.

[Yes, atheists, I know one of you in the comment section of this post is going to say something along the lines of “How is that any different than what you’re writing now?”  Ha, ha, ha, ha.  It’s funny.  And I beat you to it, so there.]

Anyway, long ago I started a blog that I intended to populate with free adventures for role-playing games (like Dungeons & Dragons).  All I did was repost two adventures that I had already posted elsewhere online.  And they weren’t even technically RPG adventures; they are expansions to a forgotten board game called Hero Quest.  Those two were supposed to be a trilogy, and I did manage to post part 3 (which I had never completed).  Those three would lead into a much larger adventure, which I promised to deliver next week.  And two years went by….

That was supposed to be my start in the world of fiction, but like that promised update to my answers for God is Imaginary and Why Won’t God Heal Amputees, nothing ever came of it.

Then, as I was watching the gritty Thundercats reboot last year, I thought that I could do that.  I could write my own gritty reboot of an 80s cartoon and publish it as a virtual seasons project.  A year later, I finally selected the TV show I’d use.

So, what’s the problem?  Barring that I just haven’t realized I suck as a writer and no one is mean enough to tell me, I’ve decided my problem is that I’m not disciplined enough.  So, on that front, I’ve decided to write at least 2000 words every day.  I’ve definitely surpassed that total today!

But, my focus is going to remain on fiction.  I will still post here, but not nearly as often.

So, hopefully, the audience here would be interested in my other writing projects.  In that case, look for more on that aforementioned virtual seasons project.  My wife has seen some of my early writing, and she’s into it!

But, if you just have to have apologetics, I plan to keep on that.  I’m thinking of a short series on the Bible’s teaching that there is only one God, apart from some contentions from our skeptics that it teaches polytheism.  I’ve been given a few verses on Twitter that allegedly acknowledge the existence of other gods aside from Yahweh.  I think addressing those would be interesting and informative.

Science Shows New Atheists to be Mean and Closed-Minded

Shadow To Light

As we all know, the New Atheists love to posture as if they are champions of science. The problem is that they only seem to care about science when it can somehow be recruited to aid their metaphysical and/or political agenda. What if you were to debate with a New Atheist and inform him that science has provided evidence that New Atheists are narcissistic, mean, and dogmatic? Do you think the New Atheist would acknowledge this characterization of New Atheists? Or do you think he/she would come up with reasons to ignore or dismiss such a scientific finding?
Well, there is no need to keep this in the realm of a thought experiment, as science has provided evidence that New Atheists are narcissistic, mean, and dogmatic. Check out the research of Christopher Silver from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Silver found that there were six basic types of atheists…

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Do Apologists Employ the “Humpty Dumpty” Defense?

When Alice meets Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass, she finds that he uses words very creatively.  In fact, a word means exactly what Humpty wants it to mean, no more and no less.

Christian apologists are sometimes accused of employing a “Humpty Dumpty Defense” by the atheists we argue with.  This particularly is seen with faith, which is understood as a form of loyalty to a patron based upon that patron’s proven ability to deliver on his promises.

Following the link, you will read a robust defense of why faith is understood this way, as opposed to the popular use of the term to mean “belief in the absence of, or in the teeth of, evidence.”

However, both militant atheists and uninformed Christians use faith in the Richard Dawkins/Mark Twain fashion to “cover up” a lack of evidence for God or the action of the Holy Spirit.  A majority of people believe faith to be “blind faith” — trusting when there appears to be no reason to.  Belief in the absence of evidence is a virtue to these people.  The less God shows himself, or (better) if the evidence actually leads one to believe that God is fictional, the more reward there will be in heaven for believing God does exist.

This is a serious mischaracterization of true Christian faith.  And when I — or others — argue for the traditional understanding of faith, we are accused of employing a “Humpty Dumpty” Defense.

And that is wrong.  Now let me tell you why. Read the rest of this entry

Rachel Held Evans vs. John Piper: Both Miss the Point

As a liberal, it isn’t too surprising that Rachel Held Evans repudiates the Reformed understanding of tragedies like the Moore tornadoes.  Essentially, we join Augustine in proclaiming that God feels it better to bring good from evil, than to eliminate all evil.

What started this is a tweet by John Piper (now removed) that quotes Job 1:19.  Here, a great wind topples Job’s house and kills his children.  Piper is, quite obviously, applying it to the recent tornado that ripped apart Moore, Oklahoma.

Is that insensitive, as Evans says? Read the rest of this entry

Postmodernism in 140 Characters

Postmodernism is a complex philosophy.  I printed out the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on it, and it ran 18 pages (including bibliography).  Though the opening of that article (accessed 9/21/2012) states that postmodernism is “indefinable as a truism” and is actually “a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices …,” I think that DamnRightTweets™ has managed to distill all of postmodernism into a single tweet:

https://twitter.com/DamnRightTweets/status/334065733082435584

Let’s disassemble that. Read the rest of this entry

Validating the Resurrection Against the Argument Keeping Me Up at Night

Yesterday, I explained that people have a tendency to spread comforting lies rather than listen to harsh truths.  Facebook is rife with examples of unexamined statements that are easy to verify as false, yet people spread with glee.

This could work against the Resurrection.  Wouldn’t people believe that Jesus rose from the dead and was thus vindicated by God as the Messiah rather than face the harsh reality that he died on the cross and is still in the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea?  Isn’t that just like the rant misattributed to Bill Cosby that people keep spreading around the Internet uncritically because it supports their own beliefs perfectly and they would like to think that Bill Cosby agrees with them because Bill Cosby is supercool?

Maybe.  However, I think that there are two good reasons I will remain a steadfast Christian.  First, there are always natural skeptics who will hear something and not just spread it, but instead spend their time trying to inform others of the grievous error they are making by believing it.  Second, not everyone who believed in the Resurrection needed it as a “comforting lie.”  Paul, for example, was predisposed to believe otherwise, yet came away a believer. Read the rest of this entry

Do Any Atheist Arguments Have Validity?

There are a number of atheist arguments floating around.  Alex Knapp of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen itemizes some of the really bad ones. I have yet to hear a convincing argument for atheism; usually I just get some crap about how atheism is the default and I need to prove my case convincingly, otherwise everyone should remain an atheist.

You know, atheism has no burden of proof.  Only theism has the burden of proof since we’re claiming something.  Blah, blah, crap.

So no atheist arguments convince me, but do any make me stop and question my belief in God?

Yes.  There is one argument against the Resurrection that keeps me up at night wondering if I am, indeed, putting my faith in a lie.

First, let’s see the argument in action.  A friend re-posted a rant from Bill Cosby entitled “I’m 83 and Tired.”  It listed several complaints that Bill Cosby allegedly had and expressed that he was happy to be leaving this life soon.  It didn’t sound like Bill Cosby to me, so I spent 5 minutes with Google and was able to verify that it was incorrectly attributed to Bill Cosby — I was even able to get the link to Cosby’s blog denying it was his work.

This isn’t the first time.  The vast majority of re-posts I see on FB are either misleading or flat-out wrong.  You can’t reach State Police Dispatch by dialing 112.  No co-eds were saved by quickly dialing it when an unmarked car tried to pull them over.

It takes less than 5 minutes to verify this crap  — if it isn’t on Snopes.com then any Google search will usually turn up the truth.  The 112 dispatch I found on Snopes; the Bill Cosby one I found through Google.

But people often choose to uncritically believe whatever comes at them without really checking into it.  Normally if it supports a preconceived notion, then people will simply believe it unquestioningly.  The tendency of people to spread comforting lies rather than truth could easily explain the widespread belief in the Resurrection of Jesus — and that’s the argument that keeps me up at night.

So why don’t I become an atheist?  Because this only undermines Christianity.  It does nothing to alleviate the necessity of God for the existence of the universe and the inherent design within it.

Tune in tomorrow to find the two reasons that keep me going to a Christian church on Sundays.