The Exchange Of Ideas

What happens when we try to limit voices? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday a friend gave me a Kindle gift of the book Irreversible Damage. I started it pretty much immediately. It’s about the transgender craze and how it is affecting girls. There was a time when Gender Dysphoria was hitting some of the population, though it was a small group and it was consistently boys. Now, all of a sudden girls are claiming that they are really boys and this is happening increasingly due to the influence of social media.

The author pointed out that many conditions such as anorexia and cutting and others tend to affect teenage girls the most. She talked about a school where one girl talked about a number of people who were claiming to be really boys there. When asked how many were lesbians, she paused and said “None.”

What I find fascinating at this point is the fact that the writer of the book said she was told to not speak out about the matters she was writing about. The ACLU is already wanting to ban the book. I thought that this is why many people I think can struggle with accepting a reigning scientific paradigm. If they have the impression that anyone who thinks differently on the matter is to be silenced, then it’s not going to persuade them to hear this is the reigning paradigm.

That doesn’t even mean the paradigm is false. It just means people won’t be as prone to listening. It could be evolution or climate change or COVID or vaccinations. If people think dissent is not allowed, they will get more suspicious.

We saw this also during the campaign in another way. Many of my fellow conservatives wanted to talk about the Hunter Biden laptop. At this point, what you think about it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the silence on the story was driving it all the more and when Facebook and Twitter would censor certain news stories, that only made them more popular. It’s known as the Streisand Effect.

This is also why many are going to other sites like Parler and MeWe in addition to Facebook and Twitter. They want the free exchange of ideas. They don’t like other social media sites punishing them for sharing a story. It’s not that they want a safe place or something like that. They just want to be able to join in the discussion. It’s one reason I’ve opposed Facebook and other sites independently fact-checking news stories.

Why not have more exchange of ideas? If you’re sure your position is correct, then allow the other to speak freely. When it comes to evolution in schools, regular readers of the blog know I don’t have a problem with evolution even though I haven’t signed on the line of being an evolutionary creationist yet.

Some will say “Well if we allow the creation story of the Bible into the classroom (Though I think what they mean by that is different from what the Bible actually teaches as I go with John Walton’s view), then won’t we allow any other creation account to be taught?” My idea is “Why not?”

If anything, this could make students more invested. Suppose someone is in the class who is a Hindu or a Muslim or a Native American or some other belief system. Why not have students make a presentation of their belief on how everything came to be and then present it to the class and be ready to defend it? If someone wants to teach something like young-earth creationism, let them, but they have to be ready to defend it to their peers.

We in the church need to make sure we’re not doing the same thing. There are some activities we don’t want our youth to engage in. Sex before marriage and pornography come to mind. We need more than “Because I said so.” What we need is a whole worldview that explains the way sexuality works and then show why these behaviors fall outside of that so that the young people will understand not just that they don’t do XYZ but why they don’t do XYZ.

As for reading, forbidding books will have the same effect really. State why. This is also so with skeptical books. I recently encountered a Christian on Facebook scared with some material from Bart Ehrman. It was about his latest book Heaven and Hell. I have the book and made him an offer which to this day he hasn’t accepted sadly. Go and get the book, I don’t care if it’s the library or not, and go through it and keep a notepad nearby, Write down any concerns you have chapter by chapter and we’ll go over and discuss each objection and examine it.

This would be a far better way I contend to deal with doubt than what we normally do. We should never shun anyone in the church for asking a question, no matter how odd it might seem to us. Those who ask questions are our great gift. They are the ones who could be taking Christianity the most seriously. When we shun them, we tell them it’s not worth taking seriously and that they shouldn’t ask questions and then they think Christianity is not defensible since it won’t allow for questions.

The church should definitely be a place where you are allowed to question. If we want to condemn the modern world for not allowing questions and dissenting opinions, we in the church should not be the same. A faith that does not have the capacity to stand up in the free marketplace of ideas is not really worth believing in the first place.

We can’t control what outsiders do, but we can what we do. Are we going to be complaining about Facebook and Twitter all the while doing the same thing? If you think you can’t handle questions, well that’s something to work on on your end, and if you’re a pastor not open to questions, then either change that position or give your position to someone who is.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Your Facebook Isn’t Helping My Skepticism

Is what you’re sharing making it harder for someone to come to Christ? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Why should you be cautious about what you share on Facebook? Could it affect someone long-term? What would someone say to us if they could speak to us about this?

“Dear Christian,

I have been your friend for awhile and I see you post sometimes on Facebook. I like you posting pictures of your family and such and some of those funny videos. I understand you will also post from time to time on things that we disagree on and that reasonable people can disagree on. You can post on politics for instance and even if I don’t share your views, I understand that someone can be reasonable and still have them.

I also understand that you have a right to be skeptical of claims as well. If you’re skeptical of evolution, well I don’t share that, but I can understand it. Yet at the same time, I worry that you claim skepticism here, but when it comes to something that agrees with you, you’re not skeptical. I also do not see you as really investigating claims.

Why? Because when I see you post something on Facebook sometimes, it’s something that I not only know is false, but I can readily demonstrate it’s false. I can tell that it’s a story that has been made up and has no factual basis. I can understand getting caught from time to time. We all make mistakes. I am talking about regularly doing this kind of thing. Why should I trust you to be posting the truth when I can see that what you shared is false in just a couple of minutes of looking it up?

You see, you make this claim that to me is incredibly bizarre. You claim that God lived among us as a man 2,000 years ago and died on a cross and rose from the dead. I’m sure you’d agree with me that that’s a strong claim. You say that you base your entire life on this claim. You say that this is the most important belief that you hold.

The problem is that this isn’t a belief that I can as easily check. I will have to do a lot of reading and study on the topic and decide what to believe. Yet when you share readily stories that are false that I know to be bogus or can easily show to be bogus, why should I trust you on the matters that I cannot reasonably check so easily? How do I know that you aren’t just as gullible when it comes to religion as you are when it comes to a story you read on the internet?

You see, I want to know that you check all the claims you make to the best of your ability. If you’re not, then maybe you’re not with this claim, and there are plenty of Christians out there I meet who give me no reason to believe their story beyond what they feel and their personal testimony. They have no idea whatsoever about historical research. Maybe you’re just like them.

In fact, I can tell you’re being objective if there’s an argument that would help your conclusion and you reject it because the argument just doesn’t work, even if you agree with the conclusion. It shows me you’re interested in more than just a goal. Truth is what matters to you.

If truth does matter to you, please show it. Take the time to look up a story before sharing it. If I cannot trust you with the stories that I can check, why should I trust you with the stories that are much harder to check?

Your skeptical friend.”

 

 

To be fair, there are far too many skeptics who will fall into this boat as well and many skeptics are just like Christians when it comes to this. My main problem is with Christians doing this since we are supposed to say that we are people of truth and committed to the truth. Many skeptics will not be as reasonable as the person that I have role-played and it is a rare exception when I meet one who is willing to read the literature.

I have said it many times but it often needs to be said. Please check on what you share Christian. Every time you share something easily shown to be false, you destroy your credibility in the eyes of unbelievers out there. Why should they trust you on the major things when they can’t trust you on the minor things?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Radical Pursuit of Rest

What do I think of John Koessler’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We live in a day and age where technology should have made it easier for us to do anything. We were expecting a Jetsons world where we just go and push a button and everything gets done for us. The irony is that with most every invention of technology meant to save time for us, we in fact often have less time left.  We want to produce constantly. Do we ever take the time to just rest?

Koessler argues that rest is essential and we get caught in a trap of productivity. Of course we should produce, but we are not machines. We cannot work 24/7. We in fact often live to work instead of realizing the purpose of work is often so that we won’t have to work. It is to free us for leisure and rest.

How many people go on vacation and still do work? Thus far, I have avoided this. The last vacation I managed to get to go on was my honeymoon with my wife a little over six years ago at Ocean Isle Beach. I made a commitment before I left and spoke about it with my parents and in-laws. No contact for us. Don’t call us. Just let us be. The only book I brought with me was my Bible. I had my IPhone with me, but I used it for GPS mainly. I did not check email. I did not check Facebook. There would be plenty of times later to put up pictures of the wedding and such. There were plenty of other people who could do ministry while I was gone. This week was to focus on me and my new bride.

I have no regrets from that decision.

Unfortunately, many do not make such a decision ever. They come home from the office and bring the office with them. This is even what happens in the case of ministry. A man can neglect his family because this is the work of God. He forgets his first work of God is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and to teach his children the fear of God.

Koessler’s book is a reminder for us to take a break. The anxiety we feel about the future is in fact a failure to trust in God. We don’t rest because we think we have to keep producing. We have to in order for God to also care for us. There is no rest and if we do stop and rest, we beat ourselves up with guilt.

In fact, Koessler tells us that sloth can be related to noonday madness. It can be seen as constant busyness. We keep busy for the sake of keeping busy. It’s like the employees in the office who hear the boss is coming and all of a sudden solitaire and emails go down, Pokemon Go gets turned off, and everyone starts acting like they’ve been working hard.

Koessler also writes about ambition. Now ambition I think is fine if you want to be excellent at what you do. We should all want that. The problem can often be when you don’t delight in others and their successes and only keep thinking about yourself. That ambition is often connected with our pride.

Koessler talks about worship as rest as well. Worship at churches often turns into a performance where we have to work the audience up and by the way, that isn’t enough because if you’re truly devoted to the church you’ll sign up for all these programs. Helping out the church with other programs is fine, but let’s remember that worship is a fine goal in itself.

Of course, something has to be said about the digital age. I know of the trap for as I sit here writing, I have my email and Facebook opened and I hear the news program my wife is watching. Multi-tasking is a way of life for me. There are times you just want to see what happened on Facebook and realize you’ve spent about an hour or so browsing on it and to what end?

For my final positive, I appreciate Koessler’s honesty. He does write about having a hard time sleeping at night. He does write about struggles with ambition. He does write about worship services and sermons that he frankly finds boring at times. These show me that Koessler is with me on the journey.

Despite that there are many positives to this book and it’s a good wake-up call, I do have some recommendations for change. For instance, what exactly is rest? Koessler differentiates it from sleep, but it’s still not clear what it really is. What also would be its relation to play? If I take a break from reading and studying and go play a game, am I resting? If I go out on a date with the wife, is that rest? Would snuggling together on the couch to watch a movie be considered rest? I don’t remember any real clarification on what rest is and I definitely would like to see how play fits into this.

Still, Koessler’s book leaves you with plenty of food for thought. I have been thinking quite often about his concept of worship. I’m pleased to know Koessler is on the same journey as well.

Book Plunge: Platform

What do I think of Michael Hyatt’s book published by Thomas Nelson? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We all want to be heard today. Don’t think you’re going to go on the internet and make a statement and you don’t really want people to listen to what you have to say. If you didn’t want that, you wouldn’t be speaking anyway. If you have something to say and think it’s good and that people should listen, don’t you want to be noticed? Don’t you want people to hear it and share it? Don’t you think you’ll be doing a service for the world when you get a message out that is needed or sell a product that needs to be sold or provide a service that needs to be given? If you want people to pay attention to what you have to say, Michael Hyatt has some advice for you.

Be warned. This book is very exhaustive and some steps you will be able to follow right now and some you won’t and some will come with time. Some ideas I’ve had I’ve had to rethink, such as Twitter. I have my Twitter automatically set up, but perhaps I could send out a few more tweets. Generally, I have been hesitant due to the limitation of 140 characters, but that could be overcome by tinyurls. I still do not think that Twitter is the place for debates, but perhaps the service does more good than I realize.

I also want to start doing things to spice up the blog. As it is, my own service is not being the most reliable so I am looking to transfer it over elsewhere and the information in this book will play a good role in helping me decide what to do with it from there on. There are some points I’m not readily sold on yet and that could depend on the nature of the blog, but nothing should be discounted automatically. Michael Hyatt has a successful blog and a large number of followers on Twitter and actually brings in some good income through his blog so he is quite likely doing something right.

I do wish a little bit more could have been said about Facebook. I do agree that Facebook can alter what it means to be a friend of someone, but I’m not ready to cut down my list and have a fan page. I’ve found it’s been quite helpful to have personal interactions, especially with people who are struggling with questions and it’s only a major problem on the newsfeed if I am spending way too much time just scrolling through it already. No doubt that Hyatt would agree that time management is absolutely central.

If anything, someone might find this work too overwhelming at times since Hyatt has no shortage of lists of advice to follow. As said earlier, you won’t follow it all immediately and some will have to wait for future endeavors and some blogging will only come with time, but there are many steps that should be taken by everyone wanting to be heard and many that can be taken by anyone wanting to be heard.

If you have a good product, service, or idea to get out and want people to pay attention to you, you owe it to yourself to get this book. Why not in fact get it at the Deeper Waters Amazon store?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Once Again, Please Christians Check Your Sources

How can we expect people to believe us on major claims if they can’t believe us on minor claims? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So yesterday, a news story is going around all over Facebook. Now this is in light of my writing about the scandals caused by the blood moon hysteria so this is just more of the same. This time, it’s a claim that Facebook is about to charge for something and this was on the news so now it’s official. This was being shared by so many people and it was a cut and paste job regularly. Sadly, a lot of people I knew who were sharing it were Christians. I have written about such things before, but I always get concerned when this happens because it has a direct impact on how the body of Christ is seen in the world.

If you’re not in the field of apologetics like I am, you might not be aware that to the world of unbelievers, we’re a bunch of gullible and superstitious morons who believe something bizarre just because we read it in a book. Now unfortunately, there are too many Christians who will believe something just because they read it in a book or they heard it from their pastor. Of course, on the other hand, there are a lot of atheists who will believe something because they read it on the internet as well. People going with something because it fits with what they already believe is nothing new and it happens on both ends.

And to be fair, if you’re not a Christian, what we believe can easily strike the world as odd. In fact, it is. We believe something simply incredible and we hold this up as the greatest fact of all. Do you want a claim like that to have credibility? People you are telling this to, and that includes people on Facebook, can’t jump in a time machine and go back to the tomb and watch Jesus come out and say “Yep. He really rose again.” Here’s what they can do. They can look at that post that you just put up on Facebook and see that you didn’t bother doing any checking on it whatsoever and then decide that if you are that gullible, they don’t really need to pay attention to your major claims such as that Jesus rose from the dead.

Can you blame them? If you can’t be trusted on something that can be checked on in a couple of minutes, why should you be trusted on something that requires months and years of research?

This also includes when we spread information about those who we see as our opposition even on the religious front or the political front or both. Many of you know I am a conservative in politics. I have seen people spread claims about Obama, who I do not care for, that are simply false and I always have to point them out and say “Don’t spread these claims.” Why? Because even if someone is my opponent, I want to take them down honestly. If I think someone is a threat to the greater good, then I should be able to demonstrate that by using honest material and not fake material. Again, this isn’t just a Christian thing as all sides do this, but Christians are supposed to be people who claim to care about truth and walk in the truth and serve Christ who said He is the truth. If truth is not a priority to us, why should we be taken seriously?

Now of course, if you want to share something and you haven’t found any verification and you just want to ask if it’s true or get thoughts, then go right on ahead, but if something could possibly be shown to be demonstrably false, then please do not just blindly share it. Take the time to check the claims. If the world cannot believe you on earthly things, why should they believe you when you speak on heavenly things?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Sharing Is Uncaring

Can there be a time when it’s not really right to share? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night after finishing the blog entry, I’m surfing Facebook some and see a story shared on Facebook about how Head and Shoulders shampoo causes a fungus to show up on people. It’s really one of those most disgusting pictures that you will have a hard time getting out of your mind so I’m going to be nice and not put it up, but what I will say is not only had one person posted it on Facebook, which they had got from someone else, but it had already also been shared.

There’s a problem with the story.

It’s not true.

Unfortunately, when you’re on Facebook it’s easy to share a story that isn’t true and have it spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, such sharing can do great harm. Consider for instance that there are real people with real families working at these companies. When you spread false information about them, then if that information spreads enough, you could put someone’s job in jeopardy. Naturally, that would take a lot of misinformation, but it starts somewhere.

The case is even worse if you are a Christian. After all, you are supposed to be a person of truth. How does it help your witness if you share a story that someone can verify to be false within five minutes if you try to then say “Hey. I want you to trust your eternity on the fact that Jesus died and rose again 2,000 years ago.” If they cannot trust you in the small matters, why should they in the larger? If you are gullible and naive enough on the small matters, would it not be more likely you will be so on the larger matters as well?

So what can you do?

When you see a story on Facebook, do a good basic search. I often go to a site like Snopes.com. Look and see if anyone else has done any looking on this. Has anyone else confirmed it is a hoax? If no one else has, then it will be up to you to do your own research.

When it comes to that, look for specifics. Do they mention a specific time, place, person, etc. Suppose they mention Dr. XYZ. Okay. Go look up Dr. XYZ. See if he’s been mentioned anywhere. Did they mention the town of Podunk in some state? Then go look up on the web to see if any local news stations or news papers have mentioned anything that is being described in the article. Still can’t find anything? Then go with caution. If you cannot confirm the story, then don’t share it.

Once you share a false story, even if you remove it, that does not mean everyone will go back and see your correction. It doesn’t mean anyone they might have shared it with will either. The damage could already be done. It’s good to delete a post and remove what was said, but it would have been better to have never posted it anyway. Remember always the first question to ask is “Is it true?” If it isn’t, then don’t.

Not only can you damage someone else’s livelihood in some way, you will damage your reputation and Christian witness.

In Christ,
Nick Peters