Articles of Interest

 

Apr

09

2014

Joe Carter|4:25 PM CT

9 Things You Should Know About The Rwandan Genocide

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the beginning of the campaign of genocide in Rwanda. Here are nine things you should know about one of the most horrific seasons of slaughter in modern times:

rwanda_genocide1. The Rwandan Genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority. During the approximate 100-day period from April 7, 1994 to mid-July an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed, constituting as much as 20 percent of the country's total population and 70 percent of the Tutsi then living in Rwanda.

2. The Hutu (also Abahutu) are a Central African ethnic group while the Tutsi (also Abatutsi or Watutsi) are an East African ethnic group. The two groups intermarried for decades prior to the genocide which has lead to an ongoing debate about whether they can truly be considered two separate and distinct groups.

3. The inciting event appears to have occurred on April 6, 1994 when an airplane carrying Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down on its descent into the Rwandan capital. Genocidal killings began the following day as soldiers, police, and militia executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders, then erected checkpoints and barricades and used Rwandans' national identity cards to systematically verify their ethnicity and kill Tutsi.

4. In rural areas, the local government hierarchy served as the chain of command for the execution of the genocide. The governor of each province disseminated instructions to the district leaders, who in turn issued directions to leaders within their districts. The majority of the actual killings in the countryside were carried out by ordinary civilians, under orders from the leaders. Tutsi and Hutu lived side by side in their villages, and families all knew each other, making it easy for Hutu to identify and target their Tutsi neighbors. Historian Gerard Prunier ascribes this mass complicity of the population to a combination of the "democratic majority" ideology, in which Hutu had been taught to regard Tutsi as dangerous enemies, the culture of unbending obedience to authority, and the duress factor - villagers who refused to carry out orders to kill were often branded as Tutsi sympathizers and killed themselves.

5. Between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 100 days of genocide. As a result of this rape, up to 20,000 children were born from these women. More than 67% of women who were raped during the genocide were infected with HIV. In many cases, this resulted from a systematic and planned use of rape by HIV+ men as a weapon of genocide.

6. An estimated 200,000 people participated in the perpetration of the genocide. Participants were given incentives, in the form of money, food, or land, to kill their Tutsi neighbors. Hutu were allowed to appropriate the land of the Tutsis they killed.

7. Local Rwandan radios would use propaganda to incite Hutus to violence. Broadcasts included such statements as, "You have to kill the Tutsis, they're cockroaches. We must all fight the Tutsis. We must finish with them, exterminate them, sweep them from the whole country. There must be no refuge for them."

8. Most of the murder was done with machetes (in 1993 Rwanda imported three-quarters of a million dollars' worth of machetes from China), but automatic weapons and hand grenades were also used.

9. The U.S. was reluctant to get involved in the "local conflict" in Rwanda and initially refused to label the killings as "genocide." Then-president Bill Clinton later publicly regretted that decision in a television interview. Five years later, Clinton stated that he believed that if he had sent 5,000 U.S. peacekeepers, more than 500,000 lives could have been saved.

 

Other posts in this series:

9 Things You Should Know About The Chronicles of Narnia

9 Things You Should Know about the Story of Noah

9 Things You Should Know About Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church

9 Things You Should Know About Pimps and Sex Traffickers

9 Things You Should Know About Marriage in America

9 Things You Should Know About Black History Month

9 Things You Should Know About the Holocaust

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade

9 Things You Should Know About Poverty in America

9 Things You Should Know About Christmas

9 Things You Should Know About The Hobbit

9 Things You Should Know About the Council of Trent

9 Things You Should Know About C.S. Lewis

9 Things You Should Know About Orphans

9 Things You Should Know about Halloween and Reformation Day

9 Things You Should Know About Down Syndrome

9 Things You Should Know About World Hunger

9 Things You Should Know about Casinos and Gambling

9 Things You Should Know About Prison Rape

9 Things You Should Know About the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About the 9/11 Attack Aftermath

9 Things You Should Know About Chemical Weapons

9 Things You Should Know About the March on Washington

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty

9 Things You Should Know About Child Brides

9 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking

9 Things You Should Know About the Scopes Monkey Trial

9 Things You Should Know About Social Media

9 Things You Should Know about John Calvin

9 Things You Should Know About Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence

9 Things You Should Know About the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Cases

9 Things You Should Know About the Bible

9 Things You Should Know About Human Cloning

9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood

9 Things You Should Know About the Boston Marathon Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About Female Body Image Issues

 

 

 
 

Apr

07

2014

Joe Carter|6:00 AM CT

9 Things You Should Know About The Chronicles of Narnia

The end of March marked the sixty-fifth anniversary of C.S. Lewis completing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Here are nine things you should know about the Lewis' beloved novels:

narniachronicles1. The name 'Narnia' is a Latin word, referring to a town in ancient Italy called 'Narni'.

2. Lewis first thought of Narnia in 1939, but didn't finish writing the first book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, until a decade later in 1949. Lewis said of the idea for the book, "The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try to make a story about it."

3. Lewis believed the series should be read in the chronological order of the events covered in the books. But most readers, critics, and scholars believe they should be read in the order the books were published: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950), Prince Caspian (1951), The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952), The Silver Chair (1953), The Horse and His Boy (1954), The Magician's Nephew (1955), The Last Battle (1956).

4. Lewis Scholar Michael Ward has proposed a theory that that Lewis deliberately constructed the Chronicles of Narnia out of the imagery of the seven heavens. According to astronomers before Copernicus in the sixteenth century, the seven heavens contained the seven planets which revolved around Earth and exerted influences over people and events and even the metals in the Earth's crust. In his book, Ward says, "In The Lion [the child protagonists] become monarchs under sovereign Jove; in Prince Caspian they harden under strong Mars; in The "Dawn Treader" they drink light under searching Sol; inThe Silver Chair they learn obedience under subordinate Luna; in The Horse and His Boy they come to love poetry under eloquent Mercury; in The Magician's Nephew they gain life-giving fruit under fertile Venus; and in The Last Battle they suffer and die under chilling Saturn."

5. 'Aslan', the name of the central Lion character in the Narnia Chronicles, is the Turkish word for 'lion'. Although Aslan is the only character to appear in all seven books, he never appeared in the first draft of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, even though it was published a year later.

6. The character of Puddleglum, who appears as a principal character in The Silver Chair, was based on Fred Paxford, who served as a handyman, gardener, and occasional cook for over 30 years at Lewis' home (the Kilns) in Oxford. Douglas Gresham described him as "a simple and earthy man who might be called a cheerful, eternal pessimist." If someone said "good morning" to Paxford, he might respond by saying "Ah, looks like rain before lunch though if it doesn't snow or hail that is."

7. The series of books took Lewis more than eight years to complete, though he spent only three months of that time writing the first book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

8. Although there are several maps of the Narnian universe available, the one considered the "official" version was published in 1972 by the books' illustrator, Pauline Baynes. (Illustration copyright © C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.)

narnia

9. In a letter to a fifth-grade class, Lewis explained that Aslan is not meant simply to "represent" Jesus: "Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as He became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen."

 

Other posts in this series:

9 Things You Should Know about the Story of Noah

9 Things You Should Know About Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church

9 Things You Should Know About Pimps and Sex Traffickers

9 Things You Should Know About Marriage in America

9 Things You Should Know About Black History Month

9 Things You Should Know About the Holocaust

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade

9 Things You Should Know About Poverty in America

9 Things You Should Know About Christmas

9 Things You Should Know About The Hobbit

9 Things You Should Know About the Council of Trent

9 Things You Should Know About C.S. Lewis

9 Things You Should Know About Orphans

9 Things You Should Know about Halloween and Reformation Day

9 Things You Should Know About Down Syndrome

9 Things You Should Know About World Hunger

9 Things You Should Know about Casinos and Gambling

9 Things You Should Know About Prison Rape

9 Things You Should Know About the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About the 9/11 Attack Aftermath

9 Things You Should Know About Chemical Weapons

9 Things You Should Know About the March on Washington

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty

9 Things You Should Know About Child Brides

9 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking

9 Things You Should Know About the Scopes Monkey Trial

9 Things You Should Know About Social Media

9 Things You Should Know about John Calvin

9 Things You Should Know About Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence

9 Things You Should Know About the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Cases

9 Things You Should Know About the Bible

9 Things You Should Know About Human Cloning

9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood

9 Things You Should Know About the Boston Marathon Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About Female Body Image Issues

 

 
 

Apr

03

2014

Joe Carter|3:42 AM CT

What is a Religious Belief?

[Note: This is the fifth article in an occasional series on apologetics and worldview analysis.]

Ludwig Wittgenstein believed that the proper task of philosophy was to make the nature of our thought and talk clear. The problems of philosophy were illusory, he believed, and arose as a misunderstanding about language. While I think he greatly overstated the case, I think Wittgenstein was on to something important. Many problems—not only in philosophy but in other areas such as religion—result from the imprecise use of language. A prime example is the debate about what constitutes a "religious belief."

beliefsWhat exactly makes a belief a religious belief? In order to make that determination we must first define the term in such a way that it is neither too broad nor too narrow by listing all of the features that are true of all religious beliefs and true only of religious beliefs.* While this may appear to be an obvious point, we are often surprised to find what has been pruned when a definition is stripped to its essential components. Imagine, for instance, trying to define the concept of tree in a way that is limited to what is true for all trees but only true of trees. Paring the explanation down in such a manner would not only be difficult but would leave us with a curious, and likely unsatisfying, definition.

What is true of trees will be equally so for religious beliefs. After we cut away the foliage and underbrush that are features of specific religious beliefs we are likely to be unimpressed by the bare, slender reed that remains. We should also expect to find that a minimally precise definition will have exposed the fact that some beliefs that we might have considered to be religious really are not, while finding that others are actually more religious than we might have imagined. Nevertheless, while we might be surprised, unsatisfied, or unimpressed, the important point is that we have defined the term correctly.

Let us begin by examining two features that are commonly (though mistakenly) believed to be essential to religious beliefs:

Religious beliefs require a belief in God or gods — One of the most common misconceptions about religious belief is that it requires a belief in God or a supreme being. But such a feature would be too narrow because it would exclude polytheistic religions that do not recognize a supreme being. In fact, we cannot include the concept of god or gods at all since some religions (e.g., Brahmin Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism) are literally atheistic.

Religious beliefs are beliefs that induce worship or worship-related activities — This feature is also defeated by the counterexamples of Brahmin Hinduism and Theravada Buddhism, neither of which practices worship. The same is true for the religious beliefs of some ancient Greeks such as Aristotle and later the Epicureans who thought the gods neither knew about nor cared about humans. They certainly felt no obligation to worship such apathetic beings.

Having excluded gods and worship from our definition, we are left with very few features that all religious beliefs could possibly share in common. As philosopher Roy Clouser asks, "What common element can be found in the biblical idea of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in the Hindu idea of Brahman-Atman, in the idea of Dharmakaya in Mahayana Buddhism, and the idea of the Tao in Taoism?" The answer, he argues, is that every religious tradition considers something or other as divineand that all of them have a common denominator in the status of the divinity itself.

While many religions disagree on what is divine, they all agree on what it means to be divine . The divine is simply whatever is unconditionally, nondependently real; whatever is just there. By contrast, everything nondivine ultimately depends for existence (at least in part) on whatever is divine. This idea of nondependence or its equivalent is the shared feature in all religious beliefs.

Clouser uses this common element to formulate a precise definition: A belief is a religious belief provided that it is (1) a belief in something as divine or (2) a belief about how to stand in proper relation to the divine, where (3) something is believed to be divine provided it is held to be unconditionally nondependent.

The conclusion we can draw from this definition is that everyone holds, consciously or unconsciously, a religious belief. For many of us, this will be as obvious as finding that our entire lives we've been speaking in prose. Others, though, will have a reaction similar to those who argue that while everyone else may speak with an accent, they themselves do not.

Although it may be true that not everyone has a religion (a system of religious beliefs, practices, and rituals), it would be rather absurd to believe that there is anyone who does not have a religious belief . This can be shown by focusing on a theory or belief that many people mistakenly believe to be the reverse of religion: materialism.

Although the idea of materialism has been around since at least the ancient Greeks, it has only recently been considered to be a non-religious idea. This is rather odd considering that it explicitly claims that matter (or some other physical entity) is unconditionally, nondependently real and draws conclusions about nature and humanity based on that belief.

Materialism, in fact, fits the definition more closely than some related beliefs, such as atheism. Just as monotheism claims that the number of gods is one and polytheism holds the view that the number is more than one, atheism simply claims the number of gods is zero. Because it merely takes a position on a nonessential element of religious belief, it would be erroneous to claim that atheism is inherently a religious belief. Materialism, on the other hand, fits the definition in a categorical and clear-cut manner.

Clouser's definition is neither too broad nor too narrow, is applicable to every known religious tradition, and is logically forceful. Still, I don't suspect materialists to bend to its logic and admit that they too have a religious belief. When pressed on this point many materialists tend to resort to special pleading or wrangling over the semantics of using the term "religious." But as Clouser says, "If you insist that whatever you believe to be divine isn't religious for you, you'll have to admit that for those of us who hold such a belief and admit its religious character, your belief is going to appear to be religious for reasons that are far from arbitrary." In other words, call the belief what you want—it certainly looks and functions like a religious belief.

*The definition, ideas, and general explanation of concepts in this post are derived from the work of Roy Clouser . I have, however, filtered it through my own interpretation and sprinkled in some of my own thoughts on the question. Anything coherent, obvious, reasonable, and logical should be attributed to Clouser. Anything incoherent, absurd, unreasonable, and illogical should be credited solely to me.

 

Other Posts in This Series:

When Atheists Are Angry at God

Do Tummy Aches Disprove God?

Naming Your Turtles

Should You Trust the Monkey Mind?

 
 

Mar

27

2014

Joe Carter|4:49 AM CT

9 Things You Should Know about the Story of Noah

noahDarren's Aronofksy's new film Noah, which opens in theaters tomorrow, has been criticized for not being faithful to the biblical narrative. But how much of the story do most people remember? Here are nine things you should know about the story of Noah:

1. The story of Noah is told is chiastic parallelism (or chiasmus), a figure of speech in which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. If you assign the letters A and B to the first appearance of the key words or phrases and A' and B' to their subsequent appearance, they follow what is commonly referred to as an A-B-B-A pattern.

A chiasm in the story of Noah and the flood (Genesis 6.10-9.19):

A   Noah (10a)
B      Shem, Ham, and Japheth (10b)
C         Ark to be built (14-16)
D            Flood announced (17)
E               Covenant with Noah (18-20)
F                  Food in the Ark (21)
G                   Command to enter the Ark (7.1-3)
H                      7 days waiting for flood (4-5)
I                         7 days waiting for flood (7-10)
J                            Entry to ark (11-15)
K                             Yahweh shuts Noah in (16)
L                                40 days flood (17a)
M                                 Waters increase (17b-18)
N                                     Mountains covered (18-20)
O                                        150 days waters prevail (21-24)
P                                       GOD REMEMBERS NOAH (8.1)
O'                                       150 days waters abate (3)
N'                                    Mountain tops become visible (4-5)
M'                                Waters abate (6)
L'                             40 days (end of) (6a)
K'                            Noah opens window of ark (6b)
J'                           Raven and dove leave ark (7-9)
I'                        7 days waiting for waters to subside (10-11)
H'                    7 days waiting for waters to subside (12-13)
G'                 Command to leave the ark (15-17)
F'                Food outside the ark (9.1-4)
E'             Covenant with all flesh (8-10)
D'          No flood in future (11-17)
C'        Ark (18a)
B'      Shem, Ham, Japheth (18b)
A'  Noah (19)

2. Based on 18 inches to a cubit, the total cubic volume of Noah's ark would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet, the equivalent to 250 single-deck railroad stock cars. Since the average stock car can carry 80 180 lb. sheep or to 160 50 lb. sheep per deck (2.5 - 5 sq ft per animal), it's estimated the ark could carry 20,000-40,000 sheep size animals.

3. From Ancient Near Eastern records to nautical practices as recent as the 19th century, sailors the world over used doves, ravens, and other birds to help them find and navigate toward land. A raven will fly directly toward land, so it's line of flight can be used as a guide. Doves have a limited ability for sustained flight, so they can be used to determine the location of a landing site. As long as the dove returns, no landing site is in close range.

4. Noah and his family were on the ark for a total of 370 days. Noah's first recorded act on leaving the ark is building an altar to the Lord (Gen. 8:20).

5. The Bible says the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (a mountain range in Turkey) but does not specify which mountain.

6. Noah became the first drunk recorded in Scripture, resulting in immoral behavior and family troubles (Genesis 9:20-26).

7. The only time Noah is recorded as speaking is when he curses his grandson Canaan and blesses his sons Shem and Japeth. At all other points in his story, God does the talking and Noah does the listening.

8. At 950 years of age, Noah had the third longest life recorded in the Bible (after Methuselah (969) and Jared (962)).

9. Besides the book of Genesis, Noah is also mentioned in eight other books of the Bible (1st Chronicles 1:4, Isaiah 54:9, Ezekiel 14:14; 20, Matthew 24:37-38, Luke 3:36, 17:26-27, Hebrews 11:7, 1 Peter 3:20, and 2 Peter 2:5) as well as in the Book of Enoch (10:1-3) and the Qur'an (Sura 71).

 

Other posts in this series:

9 Things You Should Know About Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church

9 Things You Should Know About Pimps and Sex Traffickers

9 Things You Should Know About Marriage in America

9 Things You Should Know About Black History Month

9 Things You Should Know About the Holocaust

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade

9 Things You Should Know About Poverty in America

9 Things You Should Know About Christmas

9 Things You Should Know About The Hobbit

9 Things You Should Know About the Council of Trent

9 Things You Should Know About C.S. Lewis

9 Things You Should Know About Orphans

9 Things You Should Know about Halloween and Reformation Day

9 Things You Should Know About Down Syndrome

9 Things You Should Know About World Hunger

9 Things You Should Know about Casinos and Gambling

9 Things You Should Know About Prison Rape

9 Things You Should Know About the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About the 9/11 Attack Aftermath

9 Things You Should Know About Chemical Weapons

9 Things You Should Know About the March on Washington

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty

9 Things You Should Know About Child Brides

9 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking

9 Things You Should Know About the Scopes Monkey Trial

9 Things You Should Know About Social Media

9 Things You Should Know about John Calvin

9 Things You Should Know About Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence

9 Things You Should Know About the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Cases

9 Things You Should Know About the Bible

9 Things You Should Know About Human Cloning

9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood

9 Things You Should Know About the Boston Marathon Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About Female Body Image Issues

 
 

Mar

24

2014

Joe Carter|10:41 PM CT

What's Wrong With Burning Aborted Babies?: A Common Grace Defense of Disgust

The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste in the United Kingdom, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found. The Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded 'totally unacceptable.' But before it was ended, at least 15,500 fetal remains were incinerated over the last two years alone,

Commenting on the news, my friend Mollie Hemingway says, "People are reacting to this story with the natural revulsion one feels for such callous treatment of humans . . ." From what I've seen, though, the "natural revulsion" has primarily been expressed by those within the pro-life community. I suspect that those who have no qualms about the dismembering of babies would likely not be disgusted by the burning of their bodies.

Unfortunately, Christians have helped contribute to this callous disregard by undermining the role of disgust in helping to recognize and restrain sinful behavior. While we should never be disgusted by people there a broad range of human behaviors that we should find inherently disgusting. Yet while disgust was once considered a guide (albeit a fallible one) to God's natural law, we now chastise Christians for even implying that any sinful behavior can be disgusting.

Below I've posted a previously written essay explaining why all people -- but especially Christians -- should be careful about discarding the God-given emotion of disgust.

******

Baby__disgust1Relating an incident that occurred on an expedition to South America, Charles Darwin wrote:

In Tierra del Fuego a native touched with his fingers some cold preserved meat which I was eating at our bivouac, and plainly showed utter disgust at its softness; whilst I felt utter disgust at my food being touched by a naked savage, though his hands did not appear dirty.

As Darwin discovered, while we may differ about what evokes the response, disgust is one of the few universally shared human emotions. The native was expressing what psychologists call "core disgust." Unlike animals, which instinctively seek out certain foods, humans have to learn what to eat and are justifiably cautious about sampling new foods. Since Darwin's cold, soft piece of preserved meat had a tactile resemblance to animal feces, the native was understandably disgusted by the thought of eating it. The revulsion was triggered by the idea that "like produces like"; since the preserved meat had many similarities to feces, the native assumed it might be similarly contaminated.

Darwin's unease was also based on a variation of the same core disgust. While his dinner companion worried that an object (the meat) could be contaminated because of its similarity to another object (feces), Darwin feared the contagion could be spread by contact with the native.

Since this incident was published eighteen years before Robert Koch proved the germ theory of disease, it's unlikely that Darwin understood the connection between dirty hands, microbes, and contamination. More likely he was simply reacting to a pre-rational intuition that belied his scientific understanding.

But where did this emotion come from? Is it possible, then, that the emotion of disgust was a result of natural selection? Can revulsion be classified as an adaptive mechanism that prevents us from coming into contact with contaminants? Not likely, as anyone who has ever come in contact with a human baby can attest.

Infants, as any parent can attest, have no concept of disgust. They will, quite literally, put anything they can get their hands on into their mouths. While most other animals instinctively avoid contact with certain objects, human infants do not possess such scruples. Unable to make a distinction between a piece of food and the dropping the puppy left on the carpet, they will attempt to eat both.

Because we lack an innate sense of what to avoid, the full range of disgust triggers must be taught. Disgust, as an emotion, must be learned. And as with any knowledge that is not inherently in our biological makeup, disgust can be culturally relative and passed on through successive generations.

By this we can conclude that there is such a thing as what bioethicist Leon Kass calls "wisdom of repugnance," at least with regard to core disgusts such as our taste for food. But does disgust have any meaning in a social context?

Before that question can be answered we must first examine the relation between core disgust and a concept that psychologists classify as socio-moral disgust.

In the seminal psychological research paper "Body, Psyche, and Culture: The Relationship Between Disgust and Morality," Jonathan Haidt and his coauthors note that disgusting events remind us of our animal nature. Because we feel the need to hide these markers of our kinship to lower creatures, we develop humanizing rituals and practices.

If you wanted to convince yourself that you were not an animal, your body would confound you in certain domains: you would still eat, excrete, and have sex, and you would still bleed when your outer envelope was breached, or when you menstruated or gave birth. Every culture prescribes the proper human way to handle these biological functions, and people who violate these prescriptions are typically reviled or shunned.

As an example of this animal-reminder view, the researchers point out that the only bodily secretion not generally regarded as disgusting is the only one peculiar to humans: tears. (To prove their point, they provide the following illustration: Imagine that you lend your handkerchief to an acquaintance, who returns it wet with mucous, urine, sweat, saliva, breast milk, semen, or tears. In which case would you be least uncomfortable?)

This animal-reminder view of disgust also highlights a common quality of food, sex, and bodily envelope-violations. In all three domains there are many safe options available to human beings, yet many or most options are taboo.

Almost all animal flesh is edible and nutritious, yet most human societies taboo many of the animal species available to them. All human beings (and some animals) are potential sexual partners, yet most human societies taboo many of the possible pairings of partners (and many of the possible sexual acts). There are dozens of safe modifications of the body envelope, yet most human societies taboo all but a few (e.g., ear-piercing, "nose jobs", body building, and perhaps breast enlargement or reduction for Americans). Americans would consider it monstrous (i.e. inhuman) for a person to engage in unrestricted sex, unrestricted eating of animal flesh, or unrestricted body modification.

But if disgust is a human emotion, how does it become a cultural artifact?

The answer may perhaps be found in a controversial but growing view of human cognition: that it is embodied, and that it may involve metaphors and pattern-matching more than propositions and reasoning. Margolis (1987) argues that language and propositional reasoning are so recent in the evolution of the human brain that they are unlikely to be the basic processes of human cognition. He proposes that cognition, for humans as well as animals, is primarily a matter of quick and intuitive pattern matching, in which patterns get "tuned up" gradually by past experience. This view of cognition is consistent with current research on neural networks, which do not process information by manipulating symbols. Rather, we apply past patterns of action or recognition, quickly and intuitively, in new situations that resemble the original cuing conditions.

We don't have to cede the idea that our brains developed this process through undirected evolution to agree that repugnance may be a form of knowing that precedes rational thought. Reactions to the repugnant may be similar, for instance, to the way that "fight-or-flight-or-freeze" responses work. When confronted with a dangerous situation, we don't have to wait until we can develop a reasoned response based on propositional knowledge before we react. Our autonomic responses, which are conditioned to respond to similar situations, take over and allow us to respond quickly.

Of course, as our example of the little dung-eaters shows, not every harmful situation elicits fear. This may be why God has given us the emotion of disgust:

Anger, fear and disgust may be responses to different kinds of threats. Anger is a proper and effective response to threats to one's rights, or one's property, which can be challenged. Fear is an effective response to threats that can not be challenged, which one can run away from. Yet there are threats for which fear and anger are not appropriate. There are threats that one can't simply run away from or fight off. Some of these threats, such as oral contamination, may be inescapable aspects of human bodily experience. Other threats, such as individual meaninglessness, may be cultural constructions unique to a particular time and place. We suggest that disgust, or some subset of its embodied schemata, is the emotional response to this heterogenous class of threats. Disgust makes us step back, push away, or otherwise draw a protective line between the self and the threat.

Whereas core-disgusts guard against contamination of the body, socio-moral disgusts guard against contamination of the soul. Where one protects the health of the human body, the other protects human dignity. Prior to the germ theory of disease, scientific knowledge was inadequate to explain why certain forms of "contamination" should disgust us. This pre-rational wisdom, though, allowed humanity to survive until our knowledge caught up with our intuitions.

If socio-moral disgust is an offshoot of core disgust, then shouldn't we be careful before we dismiss it as a relic of an outmoded cultural bias? What if the wisdom of repugnance protects us from harm in the same way core disgust do? Should this form of cognition be dismissed simply because it may hinder progressivism? Could it be a form of "common grace" knowledge, and if so, what happens when we dismiss it as outdated?

The wisdom of core-disgust preceded the knowledge of science by thousands of years and served to protect our bodies from harm. What if a similar wisdom is protecting human dignity? On what grounds do we have for rejecting thousands of years of socio-moral wisdom?

Revulsion is not an argument, as Leon Kass once noted, and "some of yesterday's repugnances are today calmly accepted—though, one must add, not always for the better. In crucial cases, however, repugnance is the emotional expression of deep wisdom, beyond reason's power fully to articulate it."

Indeed, the wisdom of repugnance is not an argument; it is merely a stop-gap in the onslaught against the degradation of human dignity. Like all products of a culture produced by a fallen humanity, it can contain error and be in need of correction. But the process should be taken carefully and its discernment should be based not only on our own limited understanding but also on the received wisdom and tacit knowledge of those who have come before us.

Those who reject the concept of the wisdom of repugnance must be prepared to deliver solid arguments against incest, bestiality, necrophilia, and other moral horrors that lie within the Pandora's Box of taboo behaviors. If all ethical arguments must withstand the rigors of analytical reasoning then we will have to reject a great deal of our deepest moral presuppositions. Are we prepared to do that in order that radical individualism may advance unimpeded?

 
 

Mar

20

2014

Joe Carter|10:52 PM CT

How a Too-Friendly Jesus Can Lead to Universalism

What Christians say about Jesus can have eternal consequences.

That's a rather banal and uncontroversial claim, yet it's surprising how often it's overlooked or disregarded. We can forget that in our rush to defend Jesus and make him more palatable to our culture we can unwittingly lead people to accept soul-destroying beliefs. For example, I was reminded today of how an incorrect version of the claim "Jesus is a friend of sinners" can lead people to embrace universalism.

Jesus abstract]_thumbBefore I connect the dots between those two ideas, let me first provide some clarification about an unfortunate and disheartening incident.

In his recent column for Religion News Service, Jonathan Merritt made erroneous claims about my views on an important topic. I've given a quote to Merritt before and, had he asked, would have gladly done so again. Instead, he quoted me selectively and out of context and misrepresented my actual beliefs. He also implies that he asked several evangelical scholars about comments I made ("I asked him about the notions espoused by Carter . . ."; "He pushed back against Carter's assertion . . ."), but when I contacted several of those academics directly they told me that Merritt never mentioned me by name, much less asked them to comment on what I had actually said or written. Merritt substituted his version of what I said and asked them to respond. He also misrepresented claims made by my TGC colleague Kevin DeYoung.

I contacted Merritt and asked him to make an update and correction. He adamantly refused.

If the issue were merely a lapse in journalistic ethics by Merritt I would not be mentioning it now. But Merritt makes claims that have implications for the gospel that I feel are necessary to address. Since I will be referencing his article, I also feel it is necessary to let people know that many of the claims about my views in the article are inaccurate.

The posts by DeYoung and I were written to address whether Jesus would attend any and every kind of gathering of sinners. Merritt misrepresented us by saying we think Christians should only talk to soon-to-be Christians. That is, of course, not the case. Rather, we believe there are several gradations of "fellowship." Jesus clearly reserves the category of "friends" to his disciples (John 15). Likewise, koinonia (fellowship or participation) is a special category for those who have union with Christ (see 1 Cor 10-11). The confusion—be it intentional or from ignorance—comes from jumbling up all these categories so that to speak of Jesus' restricting his associations and fellowship on any level is to suggest that Christians walk on the other side of the street from pagans.

Responding to Merritt's article and the unpleasantness of having to explain our disagreement is something I would have preferred to avoid. And I almost did. Then I saw that one of the country's most influential religious figures—Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church—tweeted, "Got to go with Jonathan Merritt on this one." That comment made me realize that if even noted evangelical pastors could be confused about this issue, then it's an worthy of comment.

So what is it people are "going with" when they agree with Merritt's argument? In his conclusion, Merritt says:

As some Christian leaders attempt to reimagine Jesus' social habits, it's time we set the record straight on the friend of sinners. There's too much at stake.

A Jesus who loves us even if we don't love back? A Savior who pursues us even as we run away? A Christ who offers fellowship to all indiscriminately without condition, no strings attached? That would be a Jesus who is better than we've imagined, and that would be good news.

As the article makes clear, when Merritt says "set the record straight on the friend of sinners," he is referring, at least in part, to a claim made by DeYoung. In his article, "Jesus, Friend of Sinners: But How?" DeYoung wrote,

As precious as this truth is—that Jesus is a friend of sinners—it, like every other precious truth in the Bible, needs to be safeguarded against doctrinal and ethical error. It is all too easy, and amazingly common, for Christians (or non-Christians) to take the general truth that Jesus was a friend of sinners and twist it all out of biblical recognition. So "Jesus ate with sinners" becomes "Jesus loved a good party," which becomes "Jesus was more interested in showing love than taking sides," which becomes "Jesus always sided with religious outsiders," which becomes "Jesus would blow bubbles for violations of the Torah."

Merritt has followed this logic to (at least one) wrong conclusion. He supports the contention that Jesus would have "baked the cake" for a same-sex wedding ceremony and that Christians should therefore also be willing serve at a same-sex wedding.

But is it really true that "Christ offers fellowship to all indiscriminately without condition, no strings attached"? If so, then we must follow that claim to all its logical conclusions, for Christ, for Christians, and even for the unrepentant unbeliever.

Let's start with the implications for Jesus and his followers. If Jesus would fellowship "indiscriminately without condition, no strings attached" then it means he would fellowship with any group of sinners while they engaged in any type of sin (that is what "without condition" entails). That means not only that Jesus would act in such a manner (i.e., hanging out with any sinners while they are engaging in any type of sin), but that we should do so too.

This is a hard claim to support. Would Jesus have sidled up to Paul during the stoning of Stephen and said, "Let me help you with some of those coats." Would Jesus have joined Roman soldiers in casting lots for the robe of a crucified man? Would Jesus have served lemonade at a lynching?

When I asked that last question on Twitter, I was immediately condemned. As Aaron J. Smith said, "You are comparing a lynching to a [same-sex] wedding ceremony you don't agree with." He is right. I am. That is how logic works.

What is interesting, though, is how Smith and others seem to think that the comparison is unfair, offensive, and absurd. Their reasoning is based on what their peer groups or modern society consider acceptable. However, if you were to travel back to the U.S. South in the era of Reconstruction and make the same comparison, they would also say the comparison was unfair, offensive, and absurd—only in reverse. They would claim it was ridiculous to imply that Jesus would bake a cake for a same-sex wedding and wouldn't serve lemonade at a lynching.

Of course some people refuse to accept the analogy because they believe, contra Scripture, that same-sex marriage doesn't hurt anyone and isn't sinful. For those cases I offer a substitute: Would Jesus serve wine at a polygamous wedding? Would Jesus bake a cake for an incestuous wedding? Would Jesus be the host for a "divorce party"?

While what our culture considers acceptable might change with the times, Jesus does not. He is "the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). What he would not deem acceptable in AD 30 or in 1863 does not change just because the calendar says it is 2014. And if Jesus would not condone the behavior, then we should not claim that believers are justified in condoning the behavior indiscriminately without condition, and with no strings attached.

There is an even more concerning implication, however, and that is for the unrepentant unbeliever. If it is true that "Christ offers fellowship to all indiscriminately without condition, no strings attached" then the logical implication is that universalism is true.

As I mentioned, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His character is consistent. If Jesus was willing to continuously fellowship with any and all unrepentant sinners— indiscriminately, without condition, no strings attached—then he will continue to do so in the future. If an unrepentant sinner was willing and able in AD 30 to fellowship with Jesus in Jerusalem as much as they wanted, then why will they not be able to do the same in the New Jerusalem? Why could they not, if they so chose, fellowship with Jesus forever without ever feeling the need to repent of their sins?

(Calvinists would obviously say the unrepentant would not will to do so, but Merritt and other Arminians would likely disagree. UPDATE: Merritt says he is not an Arminian. I apologize for the error.)

I don't believe Merritt, Andy Stanley, and the others who concur with his article believe in universalism. I hope they would say that would be following the logic of the argument too far. In fact, I'd encourage Merritt and Stanley for the sake of clarity to explain how their view allows for a change in Jesus' fellowship of sinners upon his return to judge the living and the dead. I'm assuming they must make such an allowance in order to keep in line with Jesus' own teaching and the Apostles' Creed.

That is one of the problems with arguments. Other people will eventually come along and follow an argument to its logical end point—even when the logical conclusion is far past where we may be willing to go. Even if we are not willing to be consistent in our theology, those who hear us will. That is why we should be careful about claiming that the unrepentant can have unconditional fellowship with non-judgmental Jesus: some people might start to believe it's a universal truth without an expiration date.

 
 

Mar

19

2014

Joe Carter|9:00 PM CT

9 Things You Should Know About Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church

Fred Phelps Sr., the former leader of the Westboro Baptist Church—a Christian-based family cult — died last night at the age of 84. Here are nine things you should know about the notorious religious leader and his organization.

1. Phelps was an Eagle Scout who was slated to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. But during a Methodist revival meeting at the age of 17 he "felt the call" to ministry. He was baptized and ordained by First Baptist Church of Vernal, Utah, in 1947. In 1954, the East Side Baptist Church in Topeka hired Phelps as an associate pastor, and then promoted him to be the pastor of their new church, Westboro Baptist, which opened in 1955. Soon after Westboro was established, Phelps broke all ties with East Side Baptist.

phelps2. In 1964 Phelps earned his law degree from Washburn University and founded the Phelps Chartered law firm, where he worked as a civil rights attorney. "I systematically brought down the Jim Crow laws of this town [Topeka, Kansas]," Phelps claimed. His career as a lawyer ended in 1979, when he was disbarred by the state of Kansas for allegedly being too abusive to witnesses.

3. After being disbarred, Phelps remained prominent in state and local politics, working for years as a major organizer for the state's Democratic Party. (In 1988, Phelps housed campaign workers for Al Gore's first presidential run.) He ran for governor of Kansas in 1990, 1994, and 1998, for the Senate in 1992. Because of his work in politics, Phelps was invited to two of Bill Clinton's inaugurations. He attended both—and protested the president at the second.

4. Phelps established Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) in Topeka, Kansas, in 1955. The church describes itself as "an Old School (or, Primitive) Baptist Church." (The Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention have each denounced the WBC over the years, as have many Primitive Baptist congregations.) The church subscribes to a form of hyper-Calvinism and claims to subscribe to three confessions of faith: The First London Baptist Confession of Faith (1646), The Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order (1658), and The Philadelphia Confession of Faith (1742). At its peak, the church had approximately 40 members, almost all of whom were related to Phelps by blood or marriage. (Phelps has 13 children and approximately 45 grandchildren.)

5. Phelps teaches a number of peculiar beliefs, including a form of "equal ultimacy," in which God works equally to keep the elect in heaven and the reprobate out of heaven; that Billy Graham is the "greatest false prophet since Balaam"; and that after President Obama leads the nations in a war against Jerusalem (sic), 144,000 "elect Jews" will join WBC members in heaven.

6. Phelps and WBC claim "Jesus Christ invented picketing." They began protesting in 1991 and picket approximately six locations every day. (One of Westboro's followers estimated that the church spends $250,000 a year on picketing.) They claim to have picketed more than 52,000 times in all 50 states and three foreign countries. In 1997, Saddam Hussein granted Phelps and a group of WBC congregants permission to travel to Iraq. After arriving, they stood on a street in Baghdad and led a protest against the United States.

7. Because of Phelps protests at funerals of military service members, the U.S. House and Senate passed the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act in 2006. The act bans protests within 300 feet of national cemeteries from an hour before a funeral to an hour after it. Violators face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison. On August 6, 2012, President Obama signed Pub.L. 112-154, the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, which, among other things, requires a 300-foot and 2-hour buffer zone around military funerals.

8. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in Missouri on behalf of Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church to overturn the ban on the picketing of soldier's funerals. In the case of Snyder v. Phelps the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Phelps in an opinion released on March 2, 2011. The court held that "any distress occasioned by Westboro's picketing turned on the content and viewpoint of the message conveyed, rather than any interference with the funeral itself" and thus could not be restricted.

9. According to his estranged son, Phelps was "excluded" from the Westboro Baptist Church in 2013 after advocating a kinder approach between church members. A recently formed board of elders—consisting mostly of Phelps's sons and grandsons—voted to remove Phelps as pastor. WBC says these eight elders serve as ministers for the church.

Other posts in this series:

9 Things You Should Know About Pimps and Sex Traffickers

9 Things You Should Know About Marriage in America

9 Things You Should Know About Black History Month

9 Things You Should Know About the Holocaust

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade

9 Things You Should Know About Poverty in America

9 Things You Should Know About Christmas

9 Things You Should Know About The Hobbit

9 Things You Should Know About the Council of Trent

9 Things You Should Know About C.S. Lewis

9 Things You Should Know About Orphans

9 Things You Should Know about Halloween and Reformation Day

9 Things You Should Know About Down Syndrome

9 Things You Should Know About World Hunger

9 Things You Should Know about Casinos and Gambling

9 Things You Should Know About Prison Rape

9 Things You Should Know About the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About the 9/11 Attack Aftermath

9 Things You Should Know About Chemical Weapons

9 Things You Should Know About the March on Washington

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty

9 Things You Should Know About Child Brides

9 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking

9 Things You Should Know About the Scopes Monkey Trial

9 Things You Should Know About Social Media

9 Things You Should Know about John Calvin

9 Things You Should Know About Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence

9 Things You Should Know About the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Cases

9 Things You Should Know About the Bible

9 Things You Should Know About Human Cloning

9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood

9 Things You Should Know About the Boston Marathon Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About Female Body Image Issues

 
 

Mar

16

2014

Russell Moore|9:55 PM CT

Should a Parent Attend Their Atheist Daughter's Wedding?

[Note: Questions and Ethics is a monthly series in which Dr. Russell Moore provides insight into how Christians should navigate through life's most challenging moral and ethical issues.]

Dear Dr. Moore,

My daughter is an atheist. She is living with an atheist, and she now plans to marry him. Should I allow my other daughter to be in the wedding as a bridesmaid? Should I support the wedding financially? Should I go to the wedding? I want to honor God, but I still want to be a mom.

Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned Mom,

Q&ELOGO-mainpageI remember several years ago I was serving a church, and I had a lady who came up to me after the service, and she whispered, and she said, "Could you pray for my daughter. She has gone to college, and she has become an atheist." And I said, "Why are you whispering?" And she said, "I don't want anyone to overhear me, because then they will know that I am the mom of that atheist girl." And as I started talking to her it became clear, she thought somehow that that would make people think that she has done something shameful in her own parenting.

That's crazy. We have got to eliminate that within the church. Throughout the Bible, you have family after family after family—it's hard for me to think of a family in the scripture that doesn't have a prodigal somewhere in the family. So we don't say that because a child is going through some rebellion that that means that the parents are deficient. Not at all! And also we need to recognize that parents love their children, and families are to stay together, and we are to maintain those avenues of connection with our children as much as possible and to provide a means for those prodigals to come home. And prodigals do come home. These rebellious times don't always last forever. And sometimes you have someone who is just going through a time of questioning, a time of confusion. Keep those avenues open.

I would also say that I understand why the mom is concerned about this, because the scripture tells us that a believer is not to marry an unbeliever. We should not be unequally yoked, as the Apostle Paul puts it. But that's not what's going on here. Instead you have a professing unbeliever marrying a professing unbeliever. Marriage is something that the scripture tells us is a creation ordinance given to all people; Genesis, chapter 2, "It is for this reason that a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." That's not only true for Christians. That's true for all people. So marriage is a good thing for everybody, including for atheists.

It seems to me that in this situation, you have a couple who are doing the right thing: not living together, but instead committing themselves to one another and marrying. If, Mom, you don't have any other objection to this guy other than his atheism, and if your daughter is an atheist too, I would see this as a creation ordinance, and I would not have one qualm at all in going to that wedding, in having the sister serve as a bridesmaid. I wouldn't have any problem financially contributing to that wedding.

Now, I think it's a different story when it comes to the church officiating the wedding. I wouldn't do the wedding for a couple of atheists. I wouldn't officiate as a pastor, because I think that signifies the accountability of the couple to the church. That couple doesn't have an accountability to the church; they are not under the I Corinthians 5 discipline of the church. But as a civil ordinance, getting married, I would go.

Now, if you have some reason to think that this man is harmful or abusive or dangerous, then no, you put your foot down, and you go to the matt for this. But if your only problem with him is that he's an atheist, I would go. I would be kind, and I would seek to continue to share the gospel with your daughter and with your new son-in-law as time goes on. I would recognize that marriage is a good thing that God has given to all people.

And I also would just really encourage all of those parents out there who are going through a situation with your children—parents of atheist children; parents of agnostic children; parents of children who are going through times of moral rebellion, not just intellectual confusion or questioning or whatever—don't be ashamed of your kids. Don't cut off connection with your kids. Remain in contact. Love your children, and don't be worried about what people are going to think about you. This is not about you; this is about loving the children God has given to you.

Related: You can find more answers to ethical questions and subscribe to the Questions and Ethics podcast on the website of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

 
 

Mar

12

2014

Joe Carter|4:59 PM CT

9 Things You Should Know About Pimps and Sex Traffickers

A landmark government study commissioned by the Justice Department was recently released by the Urban Institute. Although the study covers a wide variety of topics related to the underground commercial sex economy, it provides some of the most revealing data on those who coerce women and children into prostitution. Here are nine things from the study you should know about pimps and sex traffickers.

pimp1. A pimp is an individual who controls the actions and lives off the proceeds of one or more women who work the streets. Generally, pimping becomes trafficking when "the threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim" is present. (For the purposes of this article, the term "pimp" will be used for both pimps and sex traffickers.)

2. Nearly one-third of the pimps interviewed said they entered the underground commercial sex economy because they grew up around it. Exposure to sex work as children made the trade seem like a normal, achievable means to earn a living. Studies have suggested that individuals that grew up in neighborhoods where prostitution was prevalent or have family members engaged in sex work sometimes enter the field. Other research has found that individuals working in other illegal underground economies, such as drug dealing, sometimes move into the facilitation of underground sex markets

3. Recruitment is the most important component of any pimp's business model. Pimps recruited individuals of all ages, genders, and races. However, multiple pimps noted that white women are more profitable in the sex market and easier to manage. Pimps also reported that law enforcement has placed a heightened emphasis on arresting and prosecuting individuals who pimp underage women. As a result, many offenders avoided minors, in part due to fears of arrest and prosecution

4. Pimps recruited sex workers in different spaces, such as scouting at transportation hubs, mass transit stations, nightclubs, strip bars, malls, high schools, college campuses, local neighborhoods, as well as through online and social media channels. Pimp-managed employees played a critical role in recruiting individuals to engage in prostitution. Employees approached individuals, encouraged friends to engage in prostitution under the pimp, bolstered the pimp's reputation, and explained the business to recruited individuals.

5. Pimps appeal to individuals' emotional dependencies and economic needs through "finesse pimping." The study found that different forms of coercion and fraud, sometimes independent or even free of physical violence, are used by pimps to recruit and control employees. These forms of coercion and fraud included feigning romantic interest, emphasizing mutual dependency between pimp and employee, discouraging women from "having sex for free," promising material comforts, and establishing a reputation as a "good" pimp.

6. The majority of pimps reported imposing rules on employees. Rules related to drugs and alcohol are common. Many pimps said that employees using hard drugs are typically unreliable and a danger to themselves. Others prefer that their employees not smoke marijuana or drink, but still tolerate it. About one in five pimps said they impose restrictions on their employees about what clients they can solicit, often banning black men and younger men. Pimps are commonly concerned that black men and younger men would engage in drug use, be rough, commit robbery, leave without paying, or are pimps scouting for new employees.

7. Pimps responded to rule violations in multiple ways, including physical violence, isolation, and confiscating possessions. Even in the absence of clearly articulated rules, pimps used discipline to exert control over employees and encourage dependency. Those that admitted to researchers that they use violence indicated that physical violence was always used in conjunction with other forms of coercion. Coercion through psychological and emotional abuse was cited by respondents as the most common form of punishment.

8. In terms of revenue, about 18 percent said they impose a dollar figure quota that employees would have to earn each day. These figures range from $400 to $1,000, depending on the day of the week. Other pimps say that, instead of requiring quotas, they incentivize performance by collecting and depositing cash at the end of every night so that the group starts each day without money. If the employees want to ensure food, lodging, and other necessities, they would have to go out and earn more money, pimps reasoned.

9. Nearly 21 percent of the pimps interviewed said their greatest fear was being arrested and prosecuted. About 18 percent said their greatest fear was for their personal safety, while only 6 percent cited employee safety as their chief concern. Though the majority of respondents stated that arrest is the foremost "risk" of pimping, they also routinely reported that they believed pimping was less risky than other crimes.

Other posts in this series:

9 Things You Should Know About Marriage in America

9 Things You Should Know About Black History Month

9 Things You Should Know About the Holocaust

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade

9 Things You Should Know About Poverty in America

9 Things You Should Know About Christmas

9 Things You Should Know About The Hobbit

9 Things You Should Know About the Council of Trent

9 Things You Should Know About C.S. Lewis

9 Things You Should Know About Orphans

9 Things You Should Know about Halloween and Reformation Day

9 Things You Should Know About Down Syndrome

9 Things You Should Know About World Hunger

9 Things You Should Know about Casinos and Gambling

9 Things You Should Know About Prison Rape

9 Things You Should Know About the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About the 9/11 Attack Aftermath

9 Things You Should Know About Chemical Weapons

9 Things You Should Know About the March on Washington

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty

9 Things You Should Know About Child Brides

9 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking

9 Things You Should Know About the Scopes Monkey Trial

9 Things You Should Know About Social Media

9 Things You Should Know about John Calvin

9 Things You Should Know About Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence

9 Things You Should Know About the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Cases

9 Things You Should Know About the Bible

9 Things You Should Know About Human Cloning

9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood

9 Things You Should Know About the Boston Marathon Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About Female Body Image Issues

 
 

Mar

10

2014

Joe Carter|1:23 AM CT

Debatable: Genesis, Genealogies, and the Age of the Earth

[Note: "Debatable" is a recurring feature in which we briefly summarize debates within the evangelical community. Due to a lack of interesting current debates, this edition will focus on a debate between a 17th-century Anglican bishop and a 19th century Presbyterian scholar.]

age-of-earthThe Issue: Does the Bible provide clues that can help us determine the age of the earth? For hundreds of years Christians have believed that the Biblical genealogies provide a clue. Can the genealogies found in Genesis help us establish such a date?

Position #1: - Bishop James Ussher

Having completed scholarly works on such diverse subjects as the calendar and Christian creeds, the Anglican Archbishop James Ussher combined his interest and in 1650 published a work in which he determined the exact date of Creation: 23 October, 4004 BC.

Ussher's method was to add up three distinct periods of history mentioned in the Bible: Early times (Creation to Solomon); Early Age of Kings (Solomon to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity); Late Age of Kings (Ezra and Nehemiah to the birth of Jesus). Using these methods, Ussher was able to establish an unadjusted Creation date of about 4000 BC. He moved it back to 4004 BC to take account of an error perpetrated by Dionysius Exiguus, the founder of the Anno Domini numbering system. Ussher chose 4 BC as Christ's birth year because Josephus indicated that the death of Herod the Great occurred in 4 BC.

(Bishop Ussher did derive his conclusion simply by adding up the "begats." To determine the date he also referred to Chaldean history and the Astronomical Canon.)

Other scholars, most notably the Cambridge academic John Lightfoot, had completed similar calculations, but Ussher's work captured the popular imagination. The date was incorporated into an authorized version of the Bible printed in 1701 and, until the 1970s, could be found in the Bibles placed in hotel rooms by the Gideons Society.

Over the centuries Ussher's date of the creation became, for many Christians, an obvious deduction from Scripture itself. Even today many biblical Christians who subscribe to young earth creationism hold to a date very similar to the one calculated by the Irish bishop.

Position #2: Dr. William Henry Green

One of the most interesting rebuttals to Ussher's theory can be found in a dusty old theological journal from the late 1800s. Dr. William Henry Green, a Professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, published in Bibliotheca Sacra:

In 1863, I had occasion to examine the method and structure of the biblical genealogies, and incidentally ventured to remark that herein lay the solution of the whole matter. I said: "There is an element of uncertainty in a computation of time which rests upon genealogies, as the sacred chronology so largely does. Who is to certify us that the antediluvian and ante-Abrahamic genealogies have not been condensed in the same manner as the post-Abrahamic? . . . Our current chronology is based upon the prima facie impression of these genealogies. . . . the popular chronology is based upon a wrong interpretation, and that a select and partial register of ante-Abrahamic names has been mistaken for a complete one....

It can scarcely be necessary to adduce proof to one who has even a superficial acquaintance with the genealogies of the Bible, that they are frequently abbreviated by the omission of unimportant names. In fact, abridgment is the general rule, induced by the indisposition of the sacred writers to encumber their pages with more names than were necessary for their immediate purpose. This is so constantly the case, and the reason for it so obvious, that the occurrence of it need create no surprise anywhere, and we are at liberty to suppose it whenever anything in the circumstances of the case favors that belief.

Green provides a representative list of Biblical genealogies in which omissions are made (Matthew 1; Numbers 3:19, 27, 28; 1 Chronicles 26; Ezra 7:1-5; and Ezra 8:1-2). Indeed, his entire article on "Primeval Chronology" should be read in its entirety by anyone interested in the subject. But the gist of Green's argument, which can be used to show why the genealogies should not be used to date the earth, can be gleaned in the following five points:

1. Comparison to other Biblical genealogies -- Abridgement and omission is found in numerous genealogical lists throughout the Bible. Unless there is outside evidence presented to show that Genesis 5 and 11 are intended to be continuous, there is no reason to assume that it is different that other genealogies.

2. Making unwarranted assumptions -- The author of Genesis provides the age of each patriarch at the birth of his son. Why would this information be included if the purpose was not to produce a chronology? While we may think this is a fair presumption to make, Green points out that the author never uses these numbers for that purpose. Not only does the writer not suggest their summation, but no other inspired writer of the Bible does so either. "There is no computation anywhere in Scripture of the time that elapsed from the creation or from the deluge, as there is from the descent into Egypt to the Exodus (Exod. 12:40), or from the Exodus to the building of the temple (1 Kings 6:1). And if the numbers in these genealogies are for the sake of constructing a chronology, why are numbers introduced which have no possible relation to such a purpose?"

3. It doesn't match parallel texts -- If we assume that the author of Genesis was also the author of Exodus, then we can reasonably conclude that genealogies that are similarly constructed would be intended to have a similar design. Exod. 6:16-26, for example, records the genealogy extending from Levi to Moses and Aaron and includes the length of each man's life in the principal line of descent, viz., Levi (v. 16), Kohath (v. 18), Amram (v. 20). Green notes that the correspondence between this list and the ones in Genesis is "certainly remarkable": "the numbers given in this genealogy exhibit the longevity of the patriarchs named, but cannot be so concatenated as to sum up the entire period; thus suggesting the inference that the numbers in the other genealogies, with which we are now concerned, were given with a like design, and not with the view of enabling the reader to construct the chronology."

4. Different texts used different numbers -- The texts of the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures) and of the Samaritan Pentateuch vary systematically from the Hebrew in both the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. For example, according to the chronologies based on these texts, the interval between the Flood and the birth of Abraham was 292 (Hebrew), 942 (Samaritan), or 1172 years (Septuagint). Ussher favored the Hebrew version yet doesn't seem to grasp that the changes in the latter version were made in order to be more symmetrical; the redactors appear not to consider that that the ages are intended to produce a chronology.

5. The structure appears to define the purpose -- The structure of the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11, argues Green, seem to indicate intentional arrangement: Each genealogy includes ten names, Noah being the tenth from Adam, and Terah the tenth from Noah. And each ends with a father having three sons, as is likewise the case with the Cainite genealogy (4:17-22). This structure is similar to Matthew 1, which breaks out into three periods of fourteen generations. "It is much more likely," says Green, "that this definite number of names fitting into a regular scheme has been selected as sufficiently representing the periods to which they belong, than that all these striking numerical coincidences should have happened to occur in these successive instances."

Scoring the Debate: Dr. Green's article cast considerable doubt on the supposition that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 were ever intended to be a direct chronology, much less one from which the age of the earth could be deduced.

While it doesn't settle the debate, Green's argument undercuts a key piece of evidence used by the Young Earth side. Like Ussher, if we want to determine the age of our planet, we may need to look at evidence outside the Biblical text.

 

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