Book Plunge: The God Virus Part 5

What about morality? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This whole chapter is pretty much a train wreck. If we take this chapter seriously and believe it, we can dispense with everything else in the book. Seriously. Moral judgments without an objective transcendental standard are highly flawed and doomed to failure.

He says no virus could survive if it did not adjust to morality over time. So is morality changing? It would seem to be in Ray’s case. However, if morality is changing, then what are we really adjusting to? It’s like saying we are adjusting measurements to the speed of light, but the speed of light is always changing.

Suppose we look at the Southern Baptist Church which was founded in defense of slavery. Was the church wrong then? The question is nonsensical on this view. After all, if morality changes, maybe it was moral back then and the SBC was in the right then.

If morality changes, with what does it change? With what the people do? If so, then no people group is ever truly wrong. If the South had won the Civil War, then slavery would be okay today if it lasted. If Hitler had won World War II, we could all say Jews deserve to be put to death and that would be okay.

Naturally, we have the prison inmates claim brought up. That is better dealt with here. Ray also makes a claim that a religious person will say “religiosity equals morality.” It doesn’t! The pagans engaging in orgies in the Roman Empire and the Canaanites offering up their children as sacrifices were quite religious. Stalin and others murdering millions and dynamiting churches were quite irreligious.

Now does religion help with morality? Depends. I think Christianity certainly does because Jesus Christ has been the best motivator for good behavior. The way I treat people around me is often based on what I see in the life of Jesus. Certainly by no means perfect, but that is the basis for it.

What about caring for the sick? Again, Christians are often on the front lines here. When a disaster takes place somewhere, when you go there, you will often find Christians already there tending to the sick.

What about divorce? I do not know if Ray’s book was written before Shaunti Feldhahn’s book on divorce and marriage, but she did find that those who take their Christianity seriously, such as doing regular activities like attending church and Bible reading, are less likely to have a divorce.

Ray also lists a number of beliefs he learned from his church, which really explains a lot.

Women are to be honored and respected, but they are inferior to men.

Don’t trust someone educated unless they went to Bible College.

Ministers are human so follow their words and not their deeds.

God loves everyone but you don’t have to. You don’t have to welcome blacks into the church. Don’t marry someone from another religion. Gays are going to hell. (For the second one, I have already said that’s not because of lack of love but because of how one treats Jesus. Gays aren’t going to hell but those who have a life that regularly participates in immoral behavior and is defined by it are not going to inherit the Kingdom, including heterosexual sin.)

If you believe you go to Heaven and if you go to Hell you didn’t believe enough.

The Bible is the perfect word of God and any inconsistencies are because you don’t read it right. It doesn’t need interpreting and is to be read in black and white. (My own position is inerrancy, but the second part is complete bunk)

Sex is sinful except in marriage and even then it’s suspect.

Too much education is bad for your faith.

Don’t trust scientists unless they agree with the Bible.

I have not listed all of them, but these are enough and the rest are like that. If this is what Ray grew up with, I don’t blame him for abandoning it. Good for him. The problem is the threw out the baby with the bathwater and based on his bad fact-checking in the book, he hasn’t done much research since then.

Ray also says we would think “You should not kill” is clear, but what about the wars to claim the Promised Land? Those weren’t killing in the sense of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments does not condemn killing, but murder. Some killing is justified, such as self-defense.

One major flaw in this is that Ray gives no basis for morality. He doesn’t define the term. He doesn’t define goodness. He gives no basis for the existing of any of these. If all that exists is matter in motion, then what is goodness and morality? Are these real or just illusions? If unchanging morality is a myth, then morality changes, so who is to say that people in the past or even in another culture are wrong?

Ray does try to give sources to go to for wisdom on moral judgments, but if there is no objective morality, what wisdom is there? It’s like saying go to experts in math when rules of mathematics are constantly changing. If morality is changing, then we can dispense with everything said about sex in the previous chapter. There are no moral or immoral sexual practices. There are just ones society approves of and doesn’t and if society approves of pedophilia someday, that will be moral too. Right?

Ray will often point in the book to scientists. It would be good if he read some philosophers.

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

Not Liking Scripture

Should you always enjoy Scripture? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes I meet people who tell me they just look forward to getting up and reading the Bible every day. They just find such great delight and get a new insight every time they read it. Personally, I don’t really believe such people. The more prone someone is to tell me how spiritual they are, the less I am likely to believe them. The more someone tells me what a struggle their Christian walk is, the more I believe them.

Last night, I talked to someone who told me they recently read the Bible for the first time and as a Christian, there was a lot of stuff they didn’t like. I think this is something very real. If anything, I admire it. I don’t think highly of people who read through the text and never have any questions about it or get troubled by it whatsoever.

This person was wondering why Abraham would decide to sleep with his concubine or why Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the promised land. I really think these are good questions. I don’t want to go into them here, but I think they are good questions.

The point I wish to establish with this is someone who is wrestling with these questions is someone who is taking the text more seriously. Sadly, by those standards, some atheists online take the text more seriously than some Christians. The problem is most of those atheists never bother looking for answers to the questions. It just becomes, “I don’t like this, therefore the Bible is wrong and Christianity is false.”

When we read the Bible, we see the blemishes and faults of the characters. It’s not a pretty picture. David, the man after God’s own heart, is a murderer who can’t keep it in his pants. Moses is a murderer with a temper. Solomon, well, we all know how much he loved the ladies. In the New Testament, the apostles many times seem to be bumbling idiots that even Jesus Himself is exasperated with.

But there are also other parts of the Bible I don’t like. I don’t like being told I need to love my enemies. I’d like to do many things to my enemies, but love isn’t one of them. I don’t like being told I have to put others before myself. Personally, I’d love to be at the center of my own universe. I don’t like being told I have to forgive those who wrong me. I think it would often be more fun to sit back and plan a nasty revenge.

These are all things I am told to do though, and when I do them, I find I grow to be a better person regardless. Are they easy? Of course not. If they were, everyone would do them.

And honestly, I think this is the real problem many skeptics have with the Bible, especially in the area of sex. So many times when questions begin to arise, it can be because a member of the opposite sex is involved. If Christianity did not have high standards such as sex only within marriage and marriage is to be for life, then I think it would be more popular to people, but God’s ways are indeed not our ways.

As you read your Bible, realize it’s okay if it’s difficult or boring sometimes or you find things you don’t like. Still, I encourage you to keep wrestling with the text and asking the hard questions. They have been asked for years. However, it is foolish to ask a question and not seek an answer. That’s where too many atheists stop. Go find the answers. You might find that in the end, though you still don’t like everything in there, you respect the text a lot more.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Opening Thoughts On The Final Fantasy VII Remake

What are my thoughts on Square-Enix’s latest release? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Normally, I would have had to put getting this one on hold, but fortunately, someone was very kind and decided to surprise me with a copy of it. I spent a few hours going through it yesterday becoming immersed in the story and enjoying the new additions to it.

While the play style is different and there are no new enemies to fight, I really don’t want to focus on that part. There are enough reviewers of games who comment on that. I want to comment more on the questions of good and evil that are raised.

To begin with, I always think it’s important to consider a work of fiction from the world it’s set in. When we hear talk about killing the planet, those of us who are more conservative might think of the environmental movement and think this is the same thing. That could be true from our world, but in this fantasy world, if what a character like Barrett says is true that the planet has a lifestream and Shinra’s plants are draining that to line their own pockets, then the organization is indeed killing the planet.

Today, we might consider a group like Earth Liberation Front and consider them terrorists. However, if their claims were true about what we are doing to our own planet, then one could say even if they disagreed with their methods, their goal is the right one. While I disagree with Islam, if Islam turned out to be true, then if Allah says killing the infidels is right, well, it would be right.

If you know the story of Final Fantasy VII, you know that the first part of the game involves the group blowing up one of the reactor plants. The difference in this game is that after that, Cloud has to wander through the streets of Midgar and you hear all the side chatter. Listening to what townspeople are saying, you can imagine what it was like on 9/11 if you were in New York City at the time.

Not only do you hear the chatter of the people, but you hear first responders. You hear talk about needing stretchers and someone being injured. The townspeople talk about what they were doing and who they were going to meet and about their families at the time. This is a very real aspect that you don’t hear about in the first game.

This does raise the questions of good and evil. Some might think that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. It could be tempting to say we do not know what is good and what is evil, but we do. We know somehow in the game that Cloud and his friends are the ones we are meant to cheer for. Now in reality, that doesn’t mean they’re right. Movies and games and TV shows can have us cheering for guys who aren’t doing what is right. You can watch a heist movie, for example, and be eager to see how the main characters are going to outsmart the police and the rest of security and commit the crime.

But ultimately, this is what I like about the remake. It’s the realism. In the original, you blow up a reactor, no big deal to you, and you go on with the game. In this one, you see traffic stopping as people watching and the whole area around falling apart. It definitely brings out that there is a real battle going on.

This game thus far only consists of the parts that take place in the city. We eagerly anticipate what is coming next from Square-Enix in this regard. I am considering doing a video if I can figure out all the things of how to show images of games on FFVII and good and evil and those kinds of questions. Be watching to see what I decide.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/23/2019

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Most any joke today about a Catholic priest is fair game. After all, everyone knows that they’re all secretly pedophiles. Never is this kind of joke made about the public school system, but with Catholic priests, all bets are off. Hasn’t there been a cover-up? Isn’t the Catholic Church defending these priests?

For those of us who are Protestant, it could be tempting to see this as a matter that the Catholics need to deal with, but we do as well. After all, this is used as an argument against Christianity in general as well. Second, it could be a case that if we don’t stand up for truth now, who is going to stand up when our opponents come after us?

Speaking of truth, if we’re talking about different relationships, maybe the priests should be out of that position if they can’t help it, but maybe homosexuals can’t help the way they feel as well. What if as the joke song says about it, that homosexuality is in your DNA and you’re just born that way? Does that mean that it’s okay if you’re gay?

These are important issues today. The second one definitely hits home to a lot of us. If someone has a genetic basis for homosexuality or even a disposition to it, is that something that we can blame them for? Are we not going against their nature?

To deal with these issues, I am bringing on a guest who has looked at both of them seriously. He is a Catholic himself and we will discuss how he handles the claims about the church that he belongs to. We will also discuss homosexuality and how we should discuss the question of if homosexuals are born that way. My guest’s name is Paul Sullins.

So who is he?

Paul Sullins SociologyTaken – 10/15/08 – 1:20:58 PMphoto by Ed PfuellerSullins_Paul_003.JPG

According to his bio:

The Rev. D. Paul Sullins is Research Professor of Sociology and Director of the Leo Initiative for Catholic Social Research at the Catholic University of America and Senior Research Associate at the Ruth Institute.  He has written four books and over 150 journal articles, book chapters and research reports on issues of faith and culture.  He recently published  “Is Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse related to Homosexual Priests?” (National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Winter 2019); “Danish-like regulations may improve post-abortion mental health risk” (JAMA Psychiatry, January 1, 2019),” “Invisible Victims: Delayed Onset Depression among Adults with Same-Sex Parents (Depression and Research Treatment, Sept 2016)”, “Abortion, Substance Abuse and Mental Health in Early Adulthood: Thirteen Year Longitudinal Evidence from the United States”, available via Pubmed or at http://ssrn.com/author=2097328, Keeping the Vow: the Untold Story of Married Catholic Priests (Oxford University Press, 2015), and co-edited (with Pierpaolo Donati of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences) The Conjugal Family: An Irreplaceable Resource for Society (LEV Press, Rome: 2015).  Fr. Sullins is also the Director of the Summer Institute of Catholic Social Thought; a member of the board of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS), the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM), and the Natural Family Journal; a Fellow of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI); Associate Pastor of the Church of Saint Mark the Evangelist, Hyattsville, Maryland; and (not least) a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.  Formerly Episcopalian, Fr. Sullins is a married Catholic priest with an inter-racial family of three children, two adopted.

I hope you’ll be looking forward to this episode. We are working quickly on getting new episodes up. Please also leave a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Fallen

What do I think of Annie Lobert’s book published by Worthy Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Annie Lobert’s book is all about how she got caught in sex trafficking and wound up escaping that and coming to Jesus. Now she runs a ministry called Hookers For Jesus to help women escape the sex trafficking industry. Her story is her personal memoir and is quite gripping.

I remember having it with me when I went to get a pizza for my wife and I and while at Little Caesar’s I’m just on page 8 and thinking, “Control your emotions. This is not a place to get sad.” That’s interesting because very rarely does a book emotionally grip me like that.

Her story is something different. It starts off with the story of a little girl who was scared of her Dad. Let’s say this upfront. Fathers. Please do not underestimate the role you play in the lives of your daughters. It’s amazing how much it matters if Dad is there or if he isn’t. That means active interest. You will influence her relationship with men greatly by how you act.

Annie winds up loving what she sees in boys and has dreams of the Disney type of love and marriage. Before too long, she decides she’s willing to sleep with a boy she loves. Shortly after that, he leaves her. This kind of pattern seems to keep happening.

When she leaves home, she goes to the big city and tries to get attention with her body, and she succeeds. One guy comes in who she wants to impress and she winds up going to Las Vegas with him to be with another friend who lives there with her boyfriend. She gets a job as an escort which he strangely approves of.

Then the truth comes out.

He demands all her money from all her work and if she doesn’t respond as he wants, the beatings come. Annie is trapped. She is in the sex trafficking industry now and this man is her pimp. From there starts a train of abuse regularly.

Not only that, in her adventures in being an escort girl, she has trouble after trouble. Police arrest her or she gets raped or even violent activity such as being put at gunpoint. In all of this, she is with an abusive man and believe it or not, she is insistent she loves him.

Eventually, she has enough and plans her escape. Still, even after this, she has more trouble coming her way with drug addictions and sickness and other abusive relationships. Finally, she reaches a breaking point and decides to let God be God and comes to Him.

From there, her story takes off as she learns more and more about what it means to be a follower of Christ. I don’t agree with all her exegesis in this part, but it’s hard to argue against the way her life is lived. As much as the first part of the book started bringing me sadness, this part started bringing me joy.

Annie’s book is a story of redemption for all who need it, which is all of us. For all who want to know about being loved and forgiven, this book is for you. Keep in mind sex trafficking doesn’t just mean being a prostitute or something of that sort. If you are willfully using your body to get love, then you are trafficking your body in some means.

The book ends with some testimonials from Destiny House, her ministry. These are all about women who have been damaged through the misuse of sex. Many of them come to the proper use in the end. So did Annie as she is now happily married to Oz Fox, the lead guitarist in Stryper.

Get this book and cry and smile both.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Christian Delusion Chapter 13

What is the relationship between Christianity and morality? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

David Eller returns this time in yet another chapter of John…..Loftus’s…sorry, briefly forgot who he was, book. This time it’s to argue that Christianity does not provide the basis for morality. Immediately, I’m wondering who is saying it does.

Morality is something that is discoverable from nature alone. Now there is no doubt that Christianity has been a great incentive for morality and the life of Jesus has provided a powerful example. Christianity did bring about a moral revolution, but it was not by suddenly grounding something, but by revealing what was always there to begin with.

Of course, it’s hard to see how Eller can argue about anything with morality since in this chapter he says that goodness is completely relative. If so, then let us drop any idea of having a good society. We might think it’s good while someone else out there doesn’t. Who is right? No one.

If this is the case and morality isn’t about goodness, what is it about then? Is it about doing what one ought, but why ought someone do anything? What is the foundation for all of this?

Eller also says that by religion killing and hating and warring are often moral. I see no basis for the second, but sometimes, the others were commanded. When evil people rise up, then sometimes the only way to remove them is by force. If someone seeks to take my wife’s life while I am there, I will kill if I have to.

Eller says that killing witches may be good for society, but it isn’t for the witches. By this kind of standard, let us get rid of the prison system. After all, locking up murderers where they can’t escape might be good for society, but it isn’t for the murderers. I would even disagree with that. Put them in a place where they can do less harm and that is for their good as well.

Eller then goes with Michael Shermer’s definition of morality. It’s about doing what is right or wrong in the context of the rules of a social group. Of course, this is just moral relativism at the social level. Which society? The Southern Baptist Convention? Stalinist Russia? Vatican City’s? Nazi Germany’s? Why should we choose any such society and not go our own way?

Eller in the end says morality is nothing more than the human desire to appraise behavior and set up standards of appraisal. From there, we get into the way different religions view morality. Fascinating to be sure, but not really relevant to the overall claim.

Eller does say that he does not believe morality is in any way real or objective. Well, I guess Christianity obviously cannot be the basis for morality since there is no morality to be the basis of. I wonder also why Eller means then by saying that even killing and warring and hating can be seen as moral. Why not?

He also brings up the Euthyphro dilemma. Why do atheists keep doing this and ignore that Aristotle took the challenge on and just went out and defined what goodness is? I suppose reading is just hard for some

He also says that morality would be better off if it got rid of religion, but how can that make sense? How can something be better if it’s not objective or even real? How can there be any sort of improvement?

He also says the danger is religion takes it out of human hands. If anything, that’s the positive. Take morality and put it in the hands of humans and tell them there’s no higher authority for them to answer to and you have a nightmare situation coming up. Those men will themselves become gods. Eller says that this move will empower us to be the ones that decide. That is exactly what concerns most anyone concerned about an authoritarian system.

In Christ,
Nick Peters