9/25/09

Same-Sex Marriage: Libertarian vs. Evangelical

Yesterday, I was watching Katie Couric's interview with Glenn Beck from a couple days ago. While I thought Glenn did an excellent job during most of the interview, there was one brief moment which caused me to feel a bit troubled. Katie brought the topic of same-sex marriage up to illustrate that there was one issue in which both President Obama and Glenn Beck agreed. Initially I thought, “Oh good. Glenn agrees with the President that marriage should be between a man and a woman.” However that’s not what Glenn said. He said the issue of marriage should be left up to the states. I still thought to myself, “That’s not too bad. I could see an argument for that. I would disagree because of my interpretation of the constitution, but that’s ok.” Then Glenn proceeded to say something that kind of surprised me. He essentially stated that it wasn’t his business if “gays” got married. That didn’t sound like the Glenn I use to listen to the radio. I knew he had been shifting to a more libertarian mind-set, but I didn’t know it had gone that far. He even said that the government’s job was not to impose morality, yet he believes in national security and punishing murderers. Isn’t that a form of imposing morality? In Romans, Paul maintained that the governments responsibility is the protection of its people. If that is true, would that not include moral protections? Should prostitution be legalized by our states? What about narcotics? These are great questions to ask and debate, because they are important. They get at the root of what we believe government should be doing, and they also prepare us for when non-Christians ask our opinion on different subjects. While I find myself agreeing with libertarians on many issues because they are supported by Biblical principles, I find that when it comes to “social conservatism” I feel as if I’m speaking with an atheist. Without delving deeper into the many issues that encompass “social justice,” let’s examine one issue from a libertarian perspective, and then a Christian perspective. That issue is marriage.
Without boring you with all the details that you can find in other posts on this website on the subject (such as statistics, Scripture, etc.), let’s boil this issue down to the bear minimum. Libertarians approach marriage with this philosophy-

The government shouldn’t get involved. It’s an individual choice. Homosexuals should be allowed to marry.

Christians approach the issue like this-

Marriage was established by God. God says marriage is between a man and woman. Homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

In order to reconcile these two opposing views we would have to harmonize a Christian view on God and a Libertarian view on government, and what their relationships are. To be more precise in relation to this issue specifically, the question is, “Who gets to define marriage, God or government?” “And if it’s God, then does the government have to abide by God’s rule?” To answer the first question, from a Christian perspective- “God.” “Why?” Because he instituted the concept of marriage from the beginning. Marriage is His creation, not governments. Therefore to say that two homosexuals (or 3 or 4...) can get married is utterly irrational. When someone says, “Homosexuals can get married if they want,” it’s like saying, “Men can nurse babies if they want.” Both are impossible because God has set up natural law to work according to His design. In other words, “Gay Marriage” is an oxymoron. Now, what about the second question? Is the government required to second God’s motion so to speak? Well, let’s examine what happens if the government opposes God’s mandates. If the Department of Education (yes I know it’s unconstitutional, calm down!) said that it was ok for children to learn that gravity would pull them up if they jumped off a tall building, would that be in accordance with God’s natural design? Of course not. Would it be wrong scientifically? Yes! Would is cause ethical harm? Yes! A teacher who professes that should be charged with manslaughter (if his/her advise is taken). A parallel to this is already in existence. I was taught at public college that being sexually promiscuous is accepted, and that’s its more healthy to be homosexual than heterosexual. If this advise is followed it will lead to harm (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). But if the government’s job, according to Romans, is to protect its people, then how is it doing its job by willfully placing a stamp of approval on the actions of those who wander outside of God’s moral boundaries? So the answer to the second question is “Yes,” government does have a responsibility to recognize God’s rules. Inalienable rights are arguably the flip side of Biblical mandates. “Though Shalt Not Kill” translates into the inalienable right “Life.” “Liberty” and “Happiness” go right along with the other commandments that restrict mankind’s relationship with himself. If universal truths are replaced by falsehoods, we have dethroned God and put man in His place, which is where we are heading even deeper. When it comes to moral issues, Humanism and Libertarianism are twin sisters.

9/16/09

The Necessary-Sufficient Factor: Combating an Atheist Fallacy

By: Jonathan Harris

Last semester the Christian Fellowship held an event at Dutchess Community College promoting Ben Stein’s latest documentary, “Expelled-No Intelligence Allowed.” The point of the viewing was to inspire discussions between committed Darwinists and Theists whether they were part of the student body or faculty on campus. Of course an even bigger objective was to gain a hearing for the Gospel within this discussion as a Christian world-view was presented. During the post-film open-forum styled discussion, one of the staunch Darwinists who was present (and being extremely rude with his comments throughout the whole entire film I might add), decided to attack a particular point made in the film, that point being the Darwin-Hitler relationship. For those who haven’t seen the film, Ben Stein makes a connection between Darwin and Hitler, as do the experts he interviews. It is pointed out that Hitler thought he was progressing evolution through the mass murder of several million Jews. They were inferior, or so he thought, therefore society would evolve better without their presence. In Hitler’s mind, he was doing the world a favor. Anyway, this particular gentlemen had a problem with this depiction of Darwinism. He stated that, “Christians during the inquisition and crusades did their evil deeds in the name of religion, whereas Hitler did what he did in spite of his belief in Darwinism.” In other words, Darwin didn’t inspire Hitler to kill Jews, therefore the whole connection Ben Stein forwarded was without merit. Of course, there was much emotion associated with his response as he proceeded to blame Christians for the world's ills. Besides the fact that his whole manner of argument was bait and switch (i.e. making a statement and then switching the subject to another attack before reconciling the first issue), there was an even bigger problem with his logic, and the logic of many atheists. It is called the Necessary-Sufficient factor. Let me give a brief illustration:

Statement:

“In order to be in New York, you must be in the United States.”

It follows logically therefore that:

“If you’re not in the United States, you’re not in New York.”

However, it would be wrong to say,

“If your not in New York, you’re not in the United States.”

The logical term for the above fallacy is, “false contrapositive.” It confuses what’s necessary, and what’s sufficient in the relationship. It is necessary to be in the United States in order to be in New York, and it is sufficient to be in New York in order to claim that you’re in the United States, however, it’s wrong to say that it’s necessary to be in New York to be in the United States. Why? Because you could be in another state and still be in the U.S.. It doesn’t have to be New York. Akin to this simple example is the relationship between Darwin and Hitler:

Statement (made by Ben Stein):

"Since he believed evolution, Hitler thought his actions were justified"

We could also say:

"Hitler would not have thought his actions were justified, if he did not believe in evolution"

However, we couldn’t say:

"If he didn't believe in evolution, Hitler would not have thought his actions justified."

Why? Because, evolution was a sufficient reason for Hitler to kill, but not a necessary one. There may have been other reasons for Hitler to kill people, but evolution was a sufficient justification he employed. Not everyone who believes in evolution, will be a mass murderer. The Atheist loves to take a sufficient statement and make it necessary, or a necessary statement and make it sufficient. Let me give you another example:

Christian: “I do good things, because it pleases Christ.”
Atheist: “You don’t have to be a Christian to do good works, Atheists do them too.”

What the Atheist says may be true, but he confused the Christian’s statement that it is “sufficient” to be a Christian in order to do good works with what is “necessary to be a Christian...etc.”

Be on the lookout for little tricks like this. Professors and “skeptical” students will use them all the time.
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