Christianity for Good?

Maybe even Richard Dawkins himself believes it is so. From Breitbart:

In a text that is coursing about on social media, professional God-slayer Richard Dawkins begrudgingly admitted that Christianity may actually be our best defense against aberrant forms of religion that threaten the world.

“There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings,” Dawkins said. “I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death.”

In a rare moment of candor, Dawkins reluctantly accepted that the teachings of Jesus Christ do not lead to a world of terror, whereas followers of radical Islam perpetrate the very atrocities that he laments.

Because of this realization, Dawkins wondered aloud whether Christianity might indeed offer an antidote to protect western civilization against jihad.

“I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse,” he said.

Granted this was said in 2010, but with all that continues to develop in our world I can see no reason for him to have changed his opinion much.

This reminds me of an article by Salvo columnist Cameron Wybrow, where he points out that Nietzsche came to similar conclusions . . . .

Capital Losses: Nietzsche on Losing English Morality

Often one can learn something from authors with whom one disagrees. An author with whom I disagree, but from whom I have learned a good deal, is Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900).

Nietzsche was rabidly anti-Christian and anti-Platonic, and thus opposed two of the foundational pillars of Western civilization. Nonetheless, I find that his analysis of the modern West, including its religion, is sometimes perceptive and warrants consideration.

In one of the most contemptuous of old books, Twilight of the Idols (1889), Nietzsche wrote:

[The English] are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to Christian morality. . . . In England one must rehabilitate oneself after every little emancipation from theology by showing . . . what a moral fanatic one is. . . .

We others hold otherwise. When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. . . . Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole. . . . Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God is the truth—it stands and falls with faith in God.

When the English actually believe that they know “intuitively” what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt. For the English, morality is not yet a problem.

Blips: Short Write-Ups on New Books and Film

Found in every Salvo. Here are a few from the latest issue. You should subscribe! (Here’s a subscription deal w a free issue.)

*I’d also like to point you to a review of the new film The Revenant by our friend C. R. Wiley over at the Patheos website.

B O O K S

books-stealing-from-godStealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case
by Frank Turek

Frank Turek strings out the fatal flaws in popular arguments for atheism. Using the acronym CRIMES, Turek shows how Causality, Reason, Information and Intentionality, Morality, Evil, and Science—all intellectual realms to which atheists imperiously lay claim—only make rational sense in a theistic worldview. Turek is a master with the double-edged sword of logic and has a rollicking good time wielding it. •

books-merchants-of-despairMerchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism
by Robert Zubrin

Zubrin says that disputes over such apparently diverse subjects as racial equality, nuclear power, and environmentalism ultimately boil down to the same conflict: the worth of humankind. Some of today’s most fashionable ideas, he says, are essentially replays of earlier ideological fads that were used to motivate and justify oppression, tyranny, and genocide, and he marshals historical accounts to back up the claim. •

books-whats-your-worldviewWhat’s Your Worldview? An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions
by James N. Anderson

Inspired by those “Choose your own adventure” novels, Anderson takes readers through a series of questions about free will, truth, knowledge, goodness, God, and more to help them think through their own belief system. This handbook will make an excellent tool for working through with confused people who don’t know what they believe or for training thoughtful youth in a confusing world. •

F I L M

films-agenda2Agenda 2: Masters of Deceit

In this follow-up to the award-winning Agenda: Grinding America Down (2010), former Idaho state representative Curtis Bowers traces how movements such as progressive income taxation, environmentalism, disinformation in education, the subversion of churches, and more are railroading America toward a collectivist future that fulfils everything Karl Marx and his successors dreamed of. Bowers also suggests counter-measures anyone can take to stem the tide. •

films-an-open-secretAn Open Secret

Amy Berg exposes the rampant sexual exploitation of teenage boys in the entertainment industry. Several victims (now grown) speak about what drew them to Hollywood—usually music, acting, or modeling—and how their abusers gained their trust and carried out the abuses. To this day, many of the perpetrators have not only escaped punishment but still manage to work with and around children. •

films-living-watersLiving Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth

Illustra Media has produced another stunning exploration of biological life, this time from the aquatic world. The irreducible complexity of the dolphin’s sonar system, the sea turtle’s and Pacific salmon’s navigation systems, and the humpback whale are presented as formidable challenges to the Darwinian mechanism. Filming was done in Canada, Bermuda, Polynesia, Mexico, and the United States. •

A Broken Beauty

Sexual-Revolution-CoverReaders of Salvo will be familiar with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse. Marcia Segelstein interviewed her for the magazine a while back (see: To Make a Family) and her organization, The Ruth Institute, has been featured in the “Allied Front” column.

I found a more recent interview with Dr. Morse at aleteia.org where she talks about her new book and why they decided to put Marilyn Monroe on the cover:

When Art Director Todd Bingham came up with the cover for this book, I knew the concept was perfect. Who better to represent the empty promises of the Sexual Revolution than Marilyn Monroe? She remains an iconic figure of sex appeal. But there was a darker tragic side to her life.

Marilyn Monroe’s childhood included: a mentally unstable mother, a completely absent father, a disorganized childhood that included two different foster homes, probably sexual assault at the hands of adults in those homes, and an early marriage that she hoped would create stability. The “glamorous” side of her adult life included movie stardom, modeling, appearance in the first issue of “Playboy” in December 1953, three marriages, and an uncertain number of affairs. The dark side of her adult life included sexual exploitation by rich and powerful men, drug use, and her own cavalier disregard for the feelings of others. And in spite of all her fame and success, she had an unsureness of herself and her own value that included stage fright and finally, an early death. [Her biographer Norman Mailer wrote that she’d had twelve abortions before age 29.—ed.]

Her life and death is a metaphor for the Sexual Revolution. The “glamour” and the empty promises get the full attention of the media. The downsides, not so much. The sexual exploitation that led to so much of the tragedy of Marilyn Monroe’s life does not get the blame that it deserves. Neither does the brokenness of her early family life. We just keep looking at the carefully-crafted images and ignore the dark underside.

Likewise, the media still do not connect the dots between the poisonous ideology of the Sexual Revolution and the pain and grief and ultimately the loneliness that are endemic in our society. This book tries to fill that gap.

See also, from Touchstone
Beauty & the Beast: Maclin Horton on Marilyn Monroe & Hugh Hefner, Together at Last

Eric Metaxas & J. Warner Wallace

Well worth a listen, from coldcasechristianity.com:

J. Warner Wallace talks with Eric Metaxas about the evidence for God’s existence and the investigative analogy of God’s Crime Scene. What is the best explanation for the evidence “inside the room” of the natural universe? Can naturalism account for what we see in the cosmos? J. Warner talks about the evidence and the most reasonable inference with Eric Metaxas, the author of Miracles and Bonhoeffer. For more information about J. Warner’s “inside” or “outside the room” investigative approach to the evidence in the universe, refer to his book, God’s Crime Scene and visit www.ColdCaseChristianity.com.

Both J. Warner Wallace and Eric Metaxas have been the subjects of articles and interviews in the pages of Salvo, see below:

Amazing Breakfast
An Interview with Eric Metaxas
by Marcia Segelstein

. . . In your speech you referred to your conversion experience, which is documented on your website [www.ericmetaxas.com]. You talked about going through difficult times prior to that. How did your conversion change you? Was there a turnaround in your life?

Yeah, oh yeah. There was a sense of purpose where there had been none. A sense of joy and peace where there had been none. There’s no doubt that those things became constants for me. I still struggle but it’s a totally different kind of struggle. It’s like being sick with a loving parent by the bed, as opposed to being sick alone. And I think the scales fell from my eyes on a number of issues—the life issue, issues of sexuality. I began to see those things differently than I had before. And I think real­ly it was knowing who I am as a child of God that changed everything. . . .

Christian Case-Making 101
What You Can Learn from a Crime Scene Investigator
by Terrell Clemmons

. . . In God’s Crime Scene, (Wallace) sets the life-permitting universe we find ourselves in as a metaphorical “crime scene” and then regarding it, takes up the question, What happened here? Each chapter begins with a real crime scene to show how the investigative thought process applies, and step by step, like a detective presenting before a jury, he lays out a cumulative, comprehensive case for a personal, all-powerful, divine being as the most likely “culprit.” Evidence is drawn from four categories.

Cosmological evidence.

Biological evidence.

Mental evidence.

Moral evidence.

A fair-minded thinker, Wallace addresses at each step alternative explanations of the evidence and refers readers to “expert witnesses” who have argued both sides of the “case.” And finally, just like in a court of law, he wraps it all up with a closing argument that briefly recounts the evidence and urges readers to render a verdict. . . .

X-Men Ethics, The Hunger Games Ethos, and the Ethereal Tree of Life

At the movies. From the pages of Salvo:

x-men-first-class-movie-poster-high-resX-Men Ethics Class
Why Help the Weak If It Thwarts Evolution?
by Cameron Wybrow

. . . For our purposes here, it is more important to focus on what the X-Men stories get right about Darwinian evolution. While they grossly exaggerate its power and its speed, they portray its general character bang-on. And this is where they lead us to clarity in discussions of “evolutionary ethics.” . . .

22jonesBy Bread Alone
The Hunger Games & the Secularization of Western Culture
by Timothy Paul Jones

. . . Centuries in the future, the secularist’s dream has come true: Among the citizens of Panem (named after the Latin phrase panem et circenses—”bread and circuses”), God is unmentioned, unnecessary, perhaps even unknown. Rich or poor, powerful or powerless, the people of Panem proceed with no apparent consideration of God above or hell below. John Lennon imagined in 1971 that such a world would result in “all the people living life in peace”—but discontent seethes beneath the surface of Panem, and the Hunger Games themselves represent the survival of the fittest at its most brutal.

So what societal values survive in this land that has been denuded of the divine? The two values that have survived secularization in this fictional future world are self and the state. . . .

the_tree_of_life_poster02Looking Up
The Tree of Life. A film by Terrence Malick
by James M. Kushiner

Who would expect a film starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn to be one of the best religious films ever made? Released this past summer, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life won the coveted Palme d’Or award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival in May and is arguably a masterpiece in dealing with the question of the meaning of life. . . .

From Green to Blue

blueFrom the pages of Salvo, a review of Blue: For Earth. For Humanity. For Freedom, recently made available online.

Jeffrey (JD) King is on a mission to save the earth. As a millennial and lifelong Montanan, he wants to cultivate and preserve the most beautiful, life-filled planet possible. With that desire, he took a critical look at today’s Green movement and asked, Does Green suggest solutions that further those ends? And a related question, Does Green enhance human flourishing? The answer to both questions, he found, is a resounding No. Here are four clear findings from his investigation that flatly contradict Green orthodoxy:

1. CO2 is a boon.
2. Development is beneficial.
3. Population growth is good.
4. Government rarely helps.

In sum, Green gets the whole thing backwards. It begins with a false, misanthropic outlook—nature good, humans bad—and winds up harming both. A Christian who believes we were created to be stewards of the earth, King proposes replacing Green with Blue. A healthy environment and human prosperity can coexist, he says. In fact, they are interdependent and inextricably linked with proper stewardship of creation. That is what Blue is all about. Humanity’s mission, according to Blue, is to reflect God by enhancing the beauty and fruitfulness of the earth. We do this to the glory of God and for the benefit of our fellow man.

*Read the full review here, with the above points fleshed out a bit.