Posts Tagged United States

Is Full Disclosure Required For Truth?

Was it gay bashing or freedom of speech? Was it posturing or proclaiming the word? Was it clear and concise or was it not well thought out? And probably the most important question, did it deserve the backlash it received from either side. Phil Robertson made a series of bad choices that led him to a crossroads he may not have foreseen. The first was to be candidly interviewed by GQ magazine. As strange as that sounds, it has a strong resemblance to Jimmy Carter being interviewed by Playboy Magazine and expecting to be seen in a positive light when asked about impure thoughts. When walking through a mine field it is best not to tap dance.

Another bad choice was to discuss racial history and how another race did or did not act. How could his understanding in high school offer any value? At the very best he could have dealt with this topic by saying he was naïve at the time and was not aware of problems. But frankly why interact on the subject at all if he was that naïve? If he could not help the situation by offering true insight, why engage?  What is the real point of asking any celebrity their view on things they are not experts on? And why would they answer? As confusing as this may sound, this wasn’t the real firestorm in his interview.

The next bad choice involved answering questions on homosexuality. One side is saying his statements are hate speak and another says it was freedom of speech. In reality, it was neither. Phil tried to make light of the concept by equating an anus to a vagina. This is ignorance. Diminishing the importance of sexuality in our culture to a choice of human orifices shows that he is unable to speak cogently on the subject.  His next set of statements regarding sin and the slippery slope idea that homosexuality somehow leads to bestiality and multiple partners or group sex is no better. The only thing that Phil proved is that he should not speak on the subject. His attempt to use scripture to support his view showed only that his ability to communicate biblical truths in complicated areas is not a strong skill.

Why do we feel that truth is delivering every thought that is in our mind? I think plenty of things that make me incredibly smart. Not the thoughts themselves, but knowing when to keep them internal and not say them. The biochemical and neurological events that interact with our sensory organs cause information to enter our brains. Our ability to perceive that data properly is based upon a variety of factors ranging from education, experience, physical health, vitamin deficiency or excess, and amount of sleep. The ability to coherently formulate a complex argument depends on all of those things working together well so we can filter the data that our senses provide. Basically just because we think something, does not make it right, viable, worth saying, or even a good idea. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Popularity does not make this process easier.

This issue is not about free speech or about hate speak. It is about a man put into a situation where he made statements that should have been filtered better. And because of that, people are choosing to be very, very opportunistic and throw stones at each other. Both groups are saying in a way that the other side hates them.  When are we going to get to a point where we can put aside our differences and realize that everything thought does not need to be said in order to be truthful. When can we start to bridge the communication gap and get past the intolerance, on both sides? When will be able to reach out and tell a person that God loves them and we do as well and truly mean it? When will we be able to talk openly, respect each other, and not claim hatred over petty words? When will we begin to see that God does not care so much what we think, but cares greatly what we do?

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You Are Being Lied To

My wife and I were buying a digital camera a few years ago at Best Buy. The salesman was very knowledge and answered all of our questions about the camera and what it was capable of doing. We purchased it and took it home and almost immediately found it did not have the majority of features that were promised. We took it back and there was a different salesperson working. We explained what we were told and what features we expected and the salesperson explained this model did not have those, as a matter of fact, the models that did started at twice the price we paid. He asked who helped us and when we told him, he advised that person doesn’t work in the area and should not have told us those things. It was clear to us he was just trying to make a sale. We were lied to.

There is possibly nothing more infuriating than being lied to. It is not an attack on our physical bodies that we can protect against, it is much worse. It is an attack on our minds and center of value. A lie proclaims dominion over you and determines what should and should not be known by you. It tells you that you are not intelligent enough to handle or would not respond well to the truth. It sets you up to be stolen from or have you hurt in other ways. Lies are egregious evil that can hurt worse than weapons. So why do we accept them as part of our daily lives?

You are being lied to.

The information process in our world has a lie factor built into it. It is almost a form of philosophical entropy. We allow ourselves to be lied to regularly and accept it as common course. We even begin to find value in it and establish it as a different truth. We then create a level of social protection around it and defend it as acceptable because it is someone’s version of truth. Human willingness to accept lies is ingrained in our social DNA so we have begun to form rights for practitioners giving them special status. We forget something though that is paramount to the subject.

We are being lied to.

Issues that affect our social constructs are given life by compassion and then petrified by dogma filled with perspective and viewpoints. Some of these views and perspectives are built on foundations that crumble when challenged but are still given credence. Human rights are a perfect example. The concept of natural law and the fairness to all dates back to Aristotle and describes an expectation that equality stems from a genetic level not a social order. This is supported by things such as the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights which states “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” I whole heartedly agree and support this along with most of modern culture. The lie however becomes visible when we realize that our modern culture does not really practice this. We remove these rights from an unborn child by redefining them to “fetus”, as if somehow the medical term magically changes these beings to a non human status. In reality we want to support human rights where it is convenient and practical but not at the expense of our current legal rights. The statement is intended to support all human’s rights, the actions however only support some human’s rights. Legal rights are not necessarily human rights, in between them the difference lies.

We are being lied to.

Sexuality is another example. Human sexuality has evolved over the last millennia, not so much is specific practice, but in social understanding. It has walked hand and hand through social evolution from a restricted practice monitored by social mores and customs to the forefront of the civil rights debates. Anthropological studies show the transformation of sexual practice from its roots as a survival mechanism for procreation to a more involved social custom and contract. Alternative sexual practices such as homosexuality are now addressed within the cultural norms and have validity in social settings. The issues quickly cross questions and rather than merely social acceptance, the questions move to individual rights. However, sexuality is not a right, it is a privilege. Whether the intention is for procreation or the intention is for pure pleasure, there are no guarantees because it is not a human rights issue. It is a social contract and not something that can be mandated or regulated. Creating legal rights does not create human rights.

We are being lied to.

Advertising and commercialism are two of the bigger offenders. When you see an ad for a car, you are not given the value involved in the features contained so you can make a decision of personal value verses monetary value. You are given the image of a perfect life with all the rewards and desires a person could seek. None of these things will be in the trunk of the car, but you are sold on the idea they are included. Your wisdom and intelligence are questioned if you do not purchase certain brands and your chance of finding the right mate get less if you don’t where the right cologne.

We are being lied to.

What would happen if we stopped listening to the lies, and started telling and expecting the truth? What would our society look like if we were honest with people about their sexual and moral choices? What would our economy look like if we stopped buying the dream and purchased items based upon actual value?

Are you tired of being lied to?

Christianity is based on the honest reaction of a God telling his people they did not pass muster and needed a scapegoat to take his wrath. He then provided his son as that scapegoat. Honestly, this makes little sense to me. I don’t see how that God can or needs to require this type of sacrifice. I do however see I am not being lied to. He is not selling me his brand or trying to prove his point and he never asked me to sign off on his plan. He is being utterly clear. I think that is where the confusion exists. We are expecting a lie and instead are told what we need to do. I for one can accept not understanding far easier than I can accept being lied to. I can accept a hard truth much easier than a gentle lie.

Stop being lied to, demand truth. Who knows, maybe the world will change one last time.

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Can We Really Say We Have Evovled?

The premise of Evolution is that we are growing into higher levels of being. Each evolutionary stage brings us forward giving us more and greater abilities physiologically allowing greater mental capacity. Dryopithecus changes to Ramapithecus to Australopithecus to Homo-erectus etc. If this is accurate, why has society declined so much in the 6000 or so years of recorded history rather than truly advancing? Steven Pinker gave a speech at TED where he statistically tracks the decline of violence in the last 4000 years and states we are living in the most peaceful time of human existence. Peter Diamandis speaking at a different TED conference paints an optimistic view of the future based upon statistical progress over the last century. He charts points such as life spans increasing and per capita income tripling. Both of these men are obviously intelligent and well read but are stilted statistical models the best way of determining the progress of society? Pinker blames religion and uses the bible to cite evils associated with God that modern atheists can avoid. Unfortunately his agenda betrays the value of his work and makes his point somewhat mute. Diamandis blames modern media for aiming the news at tragic and difficult circumstances which play to the Amygdala in our brains. This area controls our fear response thus making society on edge instead of hopeful. I understand and agree with the premise of his point but is telling our Amygdala to take a chill pill and zen out going to stop the problems in our world?

We have faster transportation that pollutes our planet and slowly kills us. We have better medicine and can cure more disease, but we make the cost so prohibitive that people see no real benefit from much of it. We have better food gathering skills that pour toxins into the ground to increase revenue but also pollute the environment. Income has increased but the value of the dollar has decreased causing greater poverty. Global literacy has increased dramatically but people aren’t paying attention to what they have read and are repeating the same mistakes of our ancestors. It seems that each major advance has created even larger problems. I realize the scientific answer to the question is that evolution occurs over millions of years but if we can’t see any benefit to the process on a micro level within the recorded history our species, what is the value of the study and more importantly, will we kill ourselves off before the next so called wave of evolution in the species?

What are we really claiming we have done if the outcome is social disorder, greed, war, terrorism, self centered gain for the few at the detriment to the many, and a lifestyle of fear? There has to be some kind of mechanism or bridge to allow our modern advancements to truly better mankind and not just individuals within mankind. Political structures have not been successful at this. Science offers nothing to link their information to a moral or ethical spectrum that can benefit society. Mainstream organized religions offer structure and balance within moral parameters but frankly add far more structure than they can support at times. They build on historical assertions by previous religious leaders that don’t really apply to modern culture however are taught as “gospel” just the same.  Atheism posits that the end of life leads to the great nothingness and the world around us is only valuable for the corporeal experience which ultimately should breed nothing more than hedonism. That is certainly not good for the future of mankind.

If our problems become acceptable risks to the next money making venture or philosophical Ponzi scheme then mankind is not evolving, it is mutating into something that is no longer recognizable. We have a choice, we can continue to believe our own press and miss the evidence or we can react to the problems and fix them now. The question is how. If we really expect to survive, we need to be willing to sacrifice our egos and address the problems rather than claim we have arrived while we are still waiting for the plane to take off.

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Whether Good, Bad, Sacred, or Profane, Life Can Never Be Inconvenient

Is it ever acceptable for one person to tell another person that their life is too problematic and ill timed that they need to no longer exist? A man sees a homeless person sitting by the doorstep of his apartment complex and can smell their odor each day he walks by. He gets to the point of not wanting to bring friends over or even live in the apartment because the odor is so strong. If he decided to kill the homeless person because they presented too many challenges to overcome living in that apartment, he would be a criminal and rightly seen as morally repugnant and legally culpable. Our country has clear laws regarding such actions. However if a woman chooses to be sexually active and chooses to have unprotected sex or uses contraception that fails resulting in pregnancy, she has the legal right to abort the child due to the inconvenience of having a baby and raising a child. The woman would be legally innocent but I have to ask if the act is any less morally repugnant?

The question of abortion is a moral question being argued in legal terms. The current legal battles are whether to reduce, limit, curtail, increase, expand, or strengthen the current legal parameters. The law currently allows abortion in all states so arguing it in legal terms is similar to searching for a reduced fare on a cruise liner that already sunk. We have given people the ability to kill on demand and allowed them to feel as if it is a women’s rights issue. The window is now open to extend this to euthanasia which looks like the next natural step. Slowing down the process legally won’t stop the problem. We need to be discussing the moral issue with people. The challenge for Christians is that if we convince people to act morally without given them Christ, we are effectively being cruel. With that said, we still need to be able to answer the moral question and be able to defend it viably.

The arguments for abortion early on focused greatly on the question of when does life begin. Is the fetus a human being or is it a parasite. This presented two major problems. The first is that the definition of parasite not only described the fetus but also most children and teens. There has never been a doubt that offspring act in a parasitical fashion until they reach a level of maturity. The science for determining if it is a human being however weighed more and more in the favor of Pro-Life. Evidence showed that fetuses reacted to pain, had brain patterns, heart beats, and even develop patterns of right or left handed behavior.

Ten to fifteen years ago the arguments started shifting to human rights and the human being status of the fetus began to be widely accepted. This brought on new questions. Does the baby have a legal right to life and does the state or anyone other than the mother have the ability to regulate what happens in the life of the mother? A famous argument was provided by Judith Jarvis Thomson regarding a virtuoso violinist with kidney failure. She posits the question that if you were kidnapped and attached to a machine that was allowing the violinist’s body to use your kidneys and were asked to stay there for 9 months to allow the violinist to heal, would you consider that a violation of your rights? If you were given the option to voluntarily disconnect knowing that would kill the violinist, would you? The problem with this argument and those like it is that a person being kidnapped is a victim whose rights are clearly being violated. A woman choosing to have sex is never a victim and is expressing her rights over her own body by having sex. The only circumstance were this analogy becomes valid is if the woman was a victim of rape. The cases of rape resulting in pregnancy were less than 1% according to several studies over the last several years. This statistic has been disputed in the same manner of all statistics. If the test population is not wide enough, it will not accurately support the results. Whereas these concerns hold some validity, even if the percentage was as high as 5%, that would still mean that over a million abortions were performed each year that were corrective actions to regretted choices. I honestly feel that if the only abortions performed were due to rape, the abortion debate would be over.

The real concern is the moral choice to end a life based upon convenience. If two people choose consensually to engage in sex, are they not responsible for their choices? How is it moral to give them a way out of that responsibility by mere virtue of it causing them difficulty in the future? How is it morally acceptable to end a life for convenience? Over 50 million babies have been killed over the last 40 years in the United States alone. How can this be morally acceptable to our society so that people can escape the responsibility of a bad choice? The arguments for abortion rob humanity of its soul. How can we ever consider ourselves moral, if we allow atrocity to be engaged in freely without speaking up? I do not think the law will ever change; how much it is utilized by people can. Lobbying to change the laws will not change the hearts of people that are willing to make an immoral choice. The problem isn’t going to be solved in the rhetoric, it will need a savior. The question Christians need to ask themselves is whether or not that is the message they present. Are we betraying Christ’s grace by blaming the people rather than providing the gospel in a way they can hear it? If our message to people having abortions is filled with words that attack the person and not the problem, I think maybe we are. If people are acting in an immoral way, they do so because that is what they know. It is up to us to teach them something different through love. Christ’s commission to us was to spread the gospel throughout the world. That did not mean to just deliver the package and leave. It meant to explain the gospel in a way it can be understood. If we want this problem to get better, we need to be better at doing that.

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