Friday, October 6, 2017

Do We All Need to Become Scholars?

This is a response to Richard Bushey's post here. I highly recommend you read his post first. Here I'll give you a few minutes.



Okay, ready? Let's talk about why I disagree with him. Here's the first sentence wherein I think Richard has really gone awry, "A possible resolution to this problem is to start doing real scholarship." Particularly the wording, "real scholarship." What kind of career are you involved in right now? If you regularly read my blog you'll know that I'm in the military. When I read "real scholarship" I think consistent, long-term studies. I think reading original sources in the original languages of those sources. I think there's no way that I have time to seriously devote myself to "real scholarship" at this time except in small chunks when I'm taking a college class. I would rephrase this as, "A possible resolution to this problem is to start being more scholarly." I have no problem with the conclusion being, let's work hard to be smarter on a particular subject (particularly when one enters the arena to defend that subject). In order to illustrate why I think Richard is wrong I made some graphics about how I see the world of Christianity divided up:

I realize there are definitely more subdivisions that this, but I feel like I captured all the relevant sections in this. There are certainly LOTS of Christian scholars, and I do honestly have a goal of someday being a professor and being considered a scholar. Authors, I think, are often more keenly aware of this distinction when they write. If you go to a bookstore and pull a book off the shelf on _____ topic. More than likely you're reading a popular-level book on _____ topic. If you go to a college bookstore, the opposite is true; you'll more than likely be reading a scholarly text on _____ topic. This graphic is what I feel Richard is trying to push:

And here is a more balanced proposal that I'd offer:

Now, before Richard rips my head off I want to point out an important distinction (one that I feel Richard didn't deal with at all). If we change our triangle to be behaviors as opposed to people it will look very different, and it'd be one that I'd be more inclined to agree with.

I think all Christian apologists would agree that the bottom tier is something people shouldn't do. In fact, it denies some biblical instructions "... always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you ..." (1 Pet 3:15b). And, I agree with Richard that merely memorizing answers to skeptics' questions or giving generic, basic arguments for the Christian faith is not the best. However, I'd argue that not everyone is cut out for true scholarly studies. As I started this off with, for many of us scholarly studies runs secondary to the rest of our busy lives. Let's look at a prominent scholar who also works tirelessly in the field of Christian apologetics. Dr. William Lane Craig has been a scholar since 1971 (that's ~46 years, longer than I've been alive!), he has a B.A. two M.A.s, a PhD, and a D.Theo. He's been published over 234 times (only about a third of which would be considered "popular level" [source])! Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for Dr. Craig and all the great work he does as a scholar and as a Christian apologist. But do I really think that ANY of my readers can get to that level? Maybe one of you but certainly not all of you, not me, and probably not Richard himself (though he might be on track). This is the sign of life-long devotion to scholarship. We would do well to emulate him. But, if you're shooting for and expecting that, you're probably going to be disappointed. I'm aiming for a much more modest goal. I want to become a military chaplain and then retire to a small college philosophy professorship (or associate professorship).

One other key point that I disagree with Richard on is this: thinking purely from a practical perspective with regards to apologetics. In fact, I completely agree with Greg Koukl's points in Tactics (available on Amazon) that there is not enough focus on the practical perspective in the field of Christian apologetics. He says, "These three skills — knowledge, an accurately informed mind; wisdom, an artful method; and character, an attractive manner — play a part in every effective involvement with a nonbeliever." He goes on to say this and it's something that I think Richard seems to be completely missing, "The second skill, tactical wisdom, is the main focus of this book." A practical perspective is what many are missing!

What do I think we should do? I think we should all study harder. We should all study arguments from people with whom we'll (probably) disagree. We should devote more time than we already are doing these kinds of scholarly activities. All in all, I don't really disagree with Richard, we need more Christian scholars. But, as Koukl says, I think we also need more, better diplomats -- ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Book of Job

The following synopsis of the book of Job was posted by a friend of mine the other day expletives edited out:


The Book of Job in a nutshell:

Job is a rich guy with tons of bling. Hot wife, loads of kids, all kinds of stuff.

God and Satan are talking. Satan's like, "Job only likes you cuz you gave him an easy life. Take it away and he won't like you anymore."

God's like, "You're on. Let's [mess] up his life."

So they do.

Now the cliffnotes version of the story you'll hear in a [bad] church is that Job remained faithful, so
God gave Job all his [stuff] back.

The ACTUAL version that's ACTUALLY in the Bible does not say that.

In the actual version God and Satan wreck Job's [stuff]. Job is like, "man, this... really sucks. I'm not being flippant here. My kids are all dead. I am... I am not in a good place right now."

Job's friends show up and are like, "DAMN, dude! God is seriously pissed at you! What did you DO?"

And Job says, "Nothing, seriously. He just wrecked my life and killed everyone I loved for... as far as I can tell, literally no reason at all."

And Job's friends are all, "Ok, there's no way. God would only do this to you if you REALLY sinned. You'd better beg for forgiveness."

And Job says, "I've got no forgiveness to beg for. I didn't do anything. This all happened for no reason."

And his friends, "No, this definitely happened for a reason. God liked you so he gave you a good life, now God doesn't like you so he screwed your life up, obviously you sinned and he's angry with you, you need to apologize so he'll give you back the high life to which you were so sweetly accustomed."
And Job says, "No. I didn't do anything. I'm not apologizing for [stuff] I didn't do."

And his friends are like, "Man, [forget] you. Not only did you sin, like, MASSIVELY, you aren't even repentant. You suck. I don't know how we didn't notice this before."

And then they bail on him because no one wants to hang out with a secret pedophile or whatever they thought Job was.

So Job sits there and is all, "Ok... God? I'm not fooling here. I'm in pain. Do you not... do you not understand that people... hurt? When you hurt them? Do you not... get what suffering is? Do you not understand what you've... what you've done here? Are you just so far away that you... don't... understand how fragile we are? Or that you can't... care?"

So God here's this and is SUPER PISSED. Because he just told Satan that Job was all pious and [stuff[ but now Job is calling him out. So he shows up and SCREAMS at Job. He goes on this big rant about all the monsters he's killed and the things he's seen and how amazing he is and HOW DARE JOB QUESTION HIM! He gets super into it, and REALLY threatening.

And Job just falls on his face and begs forgiveness because seriously what else is he going to do, he doesn't think he can take God in a fight.

So God takes some deep breaths and counts to ten and goes to his happy place for a minute and gets himself under control again.

Then he says, "Ok, ok... so... we all gotta move on from here... Tell you what. You did tell the truth about me, back there. That's worth something. You at least get me, even if you don't always RESPECT. So I'ma give you new women and kids and cows and [stuff]. Not your old ones, Satan and I killed those. New ones though. These are gonna be better, I swear. And, what else. Oh yeah, your so called friends. They didn't tell the truth about me. So I'ma murder them all."

And Job begs God not to do that, because Job really is a stand up guy, that's been established. And God lets them live.

So... the thing Job did that was telling the truth about God was stating that God sends good and evil to us without respect to our righteousness. And the thing that Job's friends did that was telling lies about God was claiming that God sends wealth and easy living to the righteous, and misery to the unrighteous.

In other words, the moral of Job is that if you believe in the prosperity gospel God will straight up ice you unless Job asks him to chill.

Just kidding, God's not real.


First, I want to admit that I failed at how I handled the subsequent discussion. I was overly critical of some of the comments that others posted and I didn't offer much in the way of answering the challenge. Now, let's have a quick rundown on orders of causes/effects. A first order cause, is the actual, immediate cause for a certain effect. Now, think of a row of dominoes. A second order cause would be the next domino in the chain of dominoes, the one that knocked down the one that knocked down the final one. Then of course it goes on and on up the chain. In addition to this causal chain there's cause by inaction. In our example, a person standing by a chain of dominoes could stop the chain, but doesn't, that person could be said to have a secondary cause or at least secondarily culpable  for the final effect. But, think about how this works. Am I culpable for my inaction concerning abortion doctors? I'm not actively intervening by stopping abortion doctors from going to work, am I responsible for their evils? If I buy a latte from a company that supports an organization that supports abortion, am I causing abortions? Clearly not. Now let's look at the passages from the book of Job and see how the parallels go. First act that God does in chapter one is God talks to Satan. What did God say? He asked Satan what he's been up to. Then asks if Satan had considered Job, since he's blameless and upright, fearing God. Then God says, "Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him." (All my quotes will be from the NASB.) The only actions God has actually done so far is speak. However, what actions were taken against Job in the first chapter? The "Sabeans" (apparently it refers to people from "Sheba") kill the servants and steal all his oxen and donkeys. Here we finally have something else God does, or do we? The phrase translated "The fire of God fell from heaven." It could be translated "a mighty fire" or "a divine fire." Again, this doesn't actually say that God did _____. It says that a divine fire came from heaven and killed the sheep and the servants watching them, which is not the same as God killing them, especially since we have Satan in the beginning of this chapter being given permission to test Job. Then the "Chaldeans" kill the servants and steal all his camels. Lastly, it says, "a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on [Job's children] and they died ..." We've come to the end of the first chapter and God hasn't done anything to Job.

Before we move on, let's compare to the summary given above. The summary gets that Job is rich; that is clear. The description of the interaction between Satan and God starts out as a more or less a decent summary. Then everything is completely wrong in the next phrase. God does not say, "You're on. Let's [mess] up his life." And, "so they do," is a completely inaccurate description of the way the story is actually described. "They" don't do anything really (at least so far in the story). God permits Satan to test Job, but God hasn't done anything to Job.

Now we come to the second chapter. It starts in basically the same way as the first chapter. Satan now says that Job still has his health and that's the only reason he still worships God. So, again, God gives permission to Satan to tempt Job this time, he's permitted to harm Job but not kill him. Then another key phrase: "7 Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head." Again they didn't do anything, Satan did. Job's wife is actually the first one to counsel Job. She says, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!" Then Job replies with the real message of the book: "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" On to the third chapter. Job laments his birth. Then the lectures from his friends start in chapter four. Their themes are: innocent people aren't punished by God, God is just, God, and a rebuke. Now, each one is answered by Job and their lectures are a bit of a read. I don't blame the author for criticizing the book. It is a bit of a rough read. The longest portions of the text are the series of lectures and they're somewhat repetitive in theme. You've sinned, Job, confess, Job replies that it doesn't work like that, and then they renew their attack. Quite possibly the most famous line is, "Though he slay me, I will hope in him," which is vital to the message of the book. Again, the above summary completely misses that point. It's interesting to me that the summary above completely misses so much of the points made in Job's responses to his "friends." He says in many ways that no matter how bad things are, he honors and loves God. Yes, Job laments and tempers flare, but the goal is all about how God is truly in control.

Now we come to the part when God shows up. God speaks to Job and rhetorically asks (in a way), "Who are you to question me?" Now, we come to one of the clearest mistakes in the summary. This line: "Oh yeah, your so called friends. They didn't tell the truth about me. So I'ma murder them all." Where is that in the text? The closest thing is God saying to one of the friends: "My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has." Maybe the phrasing is unclear, but it reads as God saying, "I'm unhappy with you, make a sacrifice and repent." There is a consequence of disobedience, that is, "that I may not do with you according to your folly." No, that's not, as the summary says, "I'ma [sic] murder them all." Job didn't beg God not to do that. They offered sacrifices and God followed through on the promise.

Just what is the moral of the story here? Yes, part of the point is that good and evil happen to both good and evil people. As Jesus said, God "sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." But, the other main point is that God is in control and yet will I praise Him. One other important point to not miss is that God never chastises Job for lamenting. Getting to the end here and the original post betrays that it's all a troll. There's no real point in the summary except to illicit anger from, I presume, Christians. At the risk of feeding the troll, I have written this as a reasoned response to an unreasonable, emotional post.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Church Shopping ...

So here I am ... sitting in a church service (I won't name the church because I don't want to defame the church), and I'm hit by various disappointments. Those of you that are 30+ years old and raised in the church (particularly in Baptist/conservative churches) probably remember what I grew up in when it comes to church services. When I was young, we always sang with the hymnal. In fact, it was a big deal when we started adding praise songs to the service. Even then, when we started adding praise songs, they were still in a book. Then it was another huge step to add slides (bring back the nostalgia, the slides were transparencies on an overhead projector). The praise song books were still available and most of the songs were still sung out of the hymnal. Don't get me wrong, modern praise and worship music can be rather beautiful, and I love the integration of my old favorite hymns into newer songs (and one of the songs this morning did just that). Really, I don't think it's the music that bothers me; it's more that the spectacle of it all that makes me feel uncomfortable. It's a stage (not an altar) and the stage is lit like a concert stage. The words are on two giant screens with cool, moving backgrounds. The ambience is more like a really tame rock concert, not that of a church.

Then, it got worse ... Well, I wouldn't say "worse," just not the atmosphere I want or really think of when I think "church." I knew this was a multi-location church, their website says as much. But I went to, what I thought was, the main church building. But no, the music was live, and there was announcements, but then a screen dropped on stage, the lights dimmed and the pastor appeared on a giant screen on stage. Why? I understand that the pastor is only one guy (and the message was good, a hard-hitting application of James 3), and he can't be in multiple locations at the same time. But, could this be done better? It's confusing, because it looks like he was videotaped giving the message on a similar stage, but where is he? I feel so disconnected. When a church gets so big it can't fit in one building, why not split up and make multiple churches!? If a church gets too big for two buildings (this particular church has, I think, four or five buildings), why not make many churches. Surely the huge congregation can afford to pay multiple pastors. This church is so large it not only has multiple locations, but it has multiple services!

The overall feel, because of the stage-performance-style praise and worship session, the video-broadcasted sermon, the drive-by-style communion, and just how it seemed like everyone left immediately after the service, was that of a shopping mall church. Stop in, get your deals, buy your Christianity for the week (not that they emphasized the offering, on the contrary, they just had a box in the back of the auditorium). It doesn't feel like anyone knows anyone else or that they want to get to know newcomers, though the pastor encouraged visitors to go to the visitors' desk to get a free gift (a t-shirt) multiple times. It's almost like they relegated interpersonal relationships to a specific welcome-table. The service didn't feel like people coming together to worship God and get to know one another.

One last thing that bothers me about many (not just this church) Sunday morning services. When I was young Sunday morning services consisted of Sunday School (for adults and kids, separately), then regular worship services. I don't know, but there's just something special about a church that seeks to educate its congregation. When did we go from churches that seek to educate in small group settings, then worship corporately, then engage with each other in person? Maybe that's boring? I'm not trying to say that the "old way" is better. Rather, I want to draw attention to things I don't like about the "new way" and see if we can have the best of both ways. Can we educate and have authentic relationships in a fun, creative environment?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Future of My Career

Sorry I'm so flaky on posting. I doubt I have any "regular" readers, so I doubt anyone actually missed my entries, but I apologize nonetheless. I have made some career plans recently that may be taking me in a totally different direction than I thought I'd go for a LONG time.

First, a little background. If you know me in person or have followed me on social media or this blog for a long time you'll know that I'm currently serving as a linguist in the US Air Force (USAF). Technically the name for my job is "Airborne Cryptologic Language Analyst" but that's a mouthful. Linguist is simpler ... though technically incorrect as I'm not really a student of language as the term "linguist" means. Regardless, I digress. I've been an enlisted military linguist for going on eleven and a half years at the time of this writing. I've often joked that I would have signed a twenty-year contract when I first enlisted. At the time I was certain that I wanted to be a linguist and that I wanted to retire from the military. However, I've recently completely changed my mind. I've thought about this before. I've looked into various commissioned officer programs. I first tried to just get my bachelor's degree so I could apply for Officer Training School. When deploying to the Middle East derailed my educational goals, I sought for another option. I tried to get in an application for the Airman Education and Commissioning Program (AECP) (formerly called the "bootstrap" program). This route to commissioning, at first, wasn't available to me. I am a Korean linguist and as such the AECP wasn't open to me. Chinese was on the language degree lists when I first looked into the AECP, but it wasn't until I was nearing the age cutoff that Korean was added to the list. I never completed my application because the bureaucratic nonsense that is commissioning programs got in the way, and I passed the age waiver (sort of, I deployed and moved overseas, both of which interfered). About that time I gave up on my dreams of commissioning. Though I looked into other programs (the nursing program and chaplaincy program both came up), I didn't think I could make all the requirements for them.

However, three major things just recently changed my mind. First off, my position at my unit has steadily and inexorably gotten worse and worse. I feel like I have been passed over for multiple positions. I've sort of been shafted by being placed in (and somewhat in charge of) one of the toughest offices in the unit. These things and some others have really struck me hard because I'm a very hard worker. I think nothing of staying late, working weekends and holidays, and I intentionally shield my subordinates from the most trying parts of the job. I work in the scheduling office (over the last year) and as just an example, this past Christmas I worked my tail off. I went in on Christmas eve, Christmas day, the day after, and the day after that. We were supposed to get a four-day weekend (Monday and Tuesday were "down days," basically free leave days for holidays). So, on a four-day weekend for the holiday, I worked every day. Now, I didn't go in all day each day. I went in only a couple hours on Christmas eve, about five hours on Christmas day and only a couple hours the two following days. Regardless, I didn't get a holiday at all really. I had to go in and make multiple phone calls for schedule changes all weekend. I did this voluntarily because I didn't want my subordinates to lose their holiday. Basically, I'm saying I work my butt off, but it doesn't matter, I've been passed over for upgraded positions and marked down on my performance report. One quick addendum since I first wrote this piece. I have just recently been selected for an upgrade position. I start training this year in August. Though I've asked for this upgrade, I doubt very much that this change in position will effect my career plans in any way.

Secondly, my good friend recently punched his ticket and went for this. His daring willingness to serve God has inspired me. He got out, he had served as an enlisted member for about twelve years (I'll be at about fourteen when I reach the end of my enlistment), and he got out and is now attending Liberty University Seminary full-time. He plans on finishing his M.Div. degree and applying for chaplaincy in the USAF. I want to follow his footsteps (though I'm thinking of going to Denver Seminary).

Thirdly, and this one is the oddest one, I ran into a vociferous liberal chaplain. He spoke of being proud that he was the only (military) chaplain on Okinawa that would perform same-sex marriage ceremonies or counsel same-sex couples on marital issues. Two things in our conversation really spurred me on to this career change. One is that Bible-believing chaplains need to be strong in the military if only to respond to people like that liberal chaplain I met. Not unlike CS Lewis' comments about philosophy: "Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered." I feel that one can substitute "chaplains" for "philosophy." Secondly, and this was huge(!), I found out that one can complete one's ministry experience preparation simultaneously with one's seminary attendance. One of the most important prerequisites for becoming a military chaplain is two years of practical ministry experience. When I first looked into military chaplaincy I considered the way closed to me because I didn't think I would be able to support my family while getting that experience. I was worried that if I tried to become a chaplain I'd have to find some way to support my family for about four years without a job (two in seminary and two getting ministry experience). Armed with this knowledge I now know I only have to do two years "unemployed" or "minimally employed" while getting the requisite credentials.

So, here's the plan ... I'm planning on finishing out my current enlistment (separation date: Aug 2020). Immediately upon separating I'm planning on enrolling in seminary (where is still up in the air). While in seminary I'm going to seek part-time ministry at a church. As soon as I finish my M.Div. degree and have the requisite two years of ministry experience I am planning on getting ordained (sponsored) and rejoin the USAF as a chaplain. From the time I rejoin, I will only have to serve about six years and I'll be eligible for retirement from the military, and I plan on doing so. After that, I'm not sure. Maybe working as a chaplain will fit me so well that I keep going until the military kicks me out for being too old ... I don't know. I've been told by several people that I'd make a good chaplain. And, based on some of the above description of what's going on with my current job, I'm immensely more excited about a career as a chaplain than I've been about being a linguist since when I was in language school.

Is this God's will for my life? Well, I'm not certain. I think so, and as I said I've been encouraged by multiple people that it is. However, my wife has proposed a kind of fleece (as the story of Gideon setting out the fleece to test God's will/message). Basically, it goes like this. IF at the end of this overseas assignment (March 2019) I get an assignment to the language institute in Monterey, CA (DLI), I'll take that as God's saying, "stay where you are." I've wanted to teach at DLI since I attended from 2006-2008. If God wants me to stay a linguist, He'll open up that path for me to continue in this job. If I get the assignment to teach at DLI, I'll, more than likely, stay as an enlisted military linguist until 2026 when I retire. Again, after that, I have no idea what I want to do. That's too far in the future to really make plans. Given all this I think "chaplain Sam" or "chaplain Ronicker" has a good ring to it, doesn't it? We'll see.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Determinists' Delusion

Before I get to this topic I want to apologize. I have been over a year without an entry (I have been busy but that's a lame excuse). Before I get into the meat of this issue I want to talk about what started me thinking about this issue. I got into a short discussion on Facebook about the HBO show Westworld and the ramifications of artificial intelligence (AI) (I have since started also watching the British TV show Humans). They both deal with AI and how humans would interact with very human-like robots.

The premise of the show Westworld is complicated and I won't give any spoilers away. Essentially a group of people (only one of the founders of this company appears to be still alive, that is somewhat of a mystery) started a theme park. At this theme park, instead of riding roller coasters, you get to experience a fully authentic style Old West town (and surrounding area). The visitors to the park are free to do, say, behave, kill, rape, etc., etc. anyone and anything they can imagine. The park is set in the future (obviously, since we don't have human-like robots today) and the park's technology keeps the visitors safe. The "hosts" (the term the show uses for the robots) can fight back, and they're programmed to behave in the typical manner of an Old West town, but the "hosts" are incapable of hurting the visitors. The "hosts" can try to shoot the visitors but the bullets don't really hurt the humans (they sting a little), and if a "host" tries to stab or otherwise seriously harm a visitor their primary programming stops them and they freeze (usually). I can't say that I actually recommend the show ... I wish HBO hadn't done it. It intentionally and brazenly uses nudity/sex/violence/etc. to sell the show to a crass, sex-addled society. I understand the nudity (in a sense); basically, when the "hosts" are in the shop for "repair," they never (unless it's to practice a scene from the theme park) wear clothing. So, there are lots of scenes with lots of naked "people" in them. Also, there are a wide variety of sensuous and violent scenes, including rape scenes and scenes depicting slaughter of random "people/hosts" (I don't recall if there are any scenes directly displaying the slaughter of children). What often happens in the theme park is, visitors come to the park and live out their wildest fantasies. There appears, the non-violent characters are not highlighted, that there are some who just come to the park and have fun, explore, play games, get their picture (there is an old-timey photographer often shown in the background), and leave. But, of course, the show revolves around several characters living out their darkest, vilest, cruelest dreams in the park.

The show Humans (technically the 'a' is upside down) is a much less (so far, I'm only on episode three of season 1) dark show. There certainly is much less nudity, the "synths" are nude in some scenes but they're mostly covered or clothed throughout the show (the nudity has not been full-frontal-nudity as it is Westworld several times). However, the show tackles similar philosophical and existential issues with AI. It seems, so far, that the theme is, some of these "synths" are gaining full consciousness or at least seem like they are (what does it even mean to have full consciousness). And, in a sense, some of them seem to be rebelling against their human masters. There are some clear displays of how "synths" are enslaved (some even in the sex industry), but mostly they are just unpaid, unfeeling, slavish (but most often not mistreated) household servants. For example, the primary family characters bought their "synth" to help around the house because the mother was often away on business and the father also worked outside the home and just neither of them had time for domestic issues like cooking or cleaning. So, they bought a "synth" to cook and clean for them and to free them up to spend time together as a family. There are a couple side-plots that haven't fully developed, but apparently, "synths" are hackable and some have gained a certain level of independence/consciousness. They're governed by something similar to Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. It isn't overtly stated that they must obey these laws (the Will Smith movie I, Robot makes these laws a quintessential part of the plot, but the writers of Humans are more subtle. The "synths" aren't permitted to touch a human unless given direct, explicit permission. Also, and this comes up in the plot, children are not permitted to be "primary users" and may not be touched by the "synths" unless given express permission by an adult/"primary user." Anyways ... I prattle on. These two shows illustrate human depravity like few others I've ever seen. But, all that is just the precursor to what I really want to talk about. That is something that Sam Harris and Paul Bloom discussed in this podcast.

Sam Harris is (in)famous as one of the "four horsemen of atheism" and is an outspoken author and speaker on the subject of atheism. Even in this podcast, which isn't really about atheism/theism, Harris seems to be unable to control himself in deriding the Christian God. He says that God is the worst possible "mind criminal" (a term from an author that he references in the podcast). He says this because God created minds, and then tortures them in Hell (I believe he may have phrased it, "consigns them to torture in Hell"). Nevertheless, the discussion is very interesting. They talk about empathy and compassion. They talk about it with regard to how we will or should treat (future) AI (I'm not going to keep calling these "robots" by the monikers used in the TV shows, I'm just going to call them "AI"). The biggest thing that hit me in this whole conversation wasn't directly about AI. In the course of the conversation Harris insisted (without much argument or support) that though determinism leads us to less anger when people do evil, but doesn't lead us to less desire or love of empathy/compassion (those are not the same, but in this discussion we can treat them together). This inexplicable insistence leads me to think that Harris (and presumably his guest) is deluding himself. Let me put this more straightforwardly. Determinism is the idea that everything and I mean everything, is determined. There is no escape. This is not the "nature versus nurture" argument. This is a combination of nature and nurture that says, essentially, given the combination of one's genes and upbringing that one will behave exactly the way one behaves. So, we cannot blame the despot because he was programmed to be despotic because of his genes and upbringing. If the despot had been born with different genetic makeup he would be different, and if the despot had been born to different parents, he would be different. Regardless, one cannot change one's genes or upbringing, so we shouldn't be mad at the mass murderer because he's just acting out his genes and upbringing. People are just complicated forms of biological machines.

On the other hand, though, Harris insists that we can praise the virtuous person. How does this make sense? He says that we can praise this person because she chooses to care about the wellbeing of others. But wait, doesn't determinism mean that a person is merely the sum total of his/her genes and upbringing, there's not really any such thing as "choosing" something at all. Choosing requires an agent, a person. But determinism destroys personhood. The bad person is just being bad because his genes and upbringing make him do so, just as the good person is just being good because her genes and upbringing make her do so. Harris phrases it something like, people with compassion want the best in others. When I heard him say this, "With loving kindness, you really just ... you want that person to be happy." Isn't "wanting something" a choice? He says that it's different in two ways: first because in hating a bad man, we're assigning ultimate agency to the man, and under determinacy, there is no ultimate agency. But, loving kindness doesn't ascribe ultimate agency to the good person, it's just wanting that person to be happy. Well, no offense to Harris, but his logic is clearly flawed here. The statement may technically be true; that loving kindness doesn't claim that the good person that you're loving has ultimate agency. However, what he's clearly ignoring (perhaps unintentionally), is that his idea of loving kindness clearly ascribes ultimate agency to the person doing the loving kindness. Also, the good deeds for which Harris is saying one might show loving kindness to someone requires that he/she must have ultimate agency (despite Harris' claim otherwise). Harris is deluding himself if he thinks he can have his cake and eat it too. Either determinism absolves both bad and good behavior or the determinists are just lying about their insistence on determinism. Harris (and many, many others) only really claim determinism in a way that suits their preconceived notions.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Running and Relativism

I know, these two topics seem unrelated, but I'll try to explain.  First off I want to preface this entry with my intentions here.  Specifically, I am not here to proselytize you to any particular view.  In fact if anything, this is just a rant and a rather random observation.

As you may or may not know, I've been a barefoot/minimalist runner for about seven years and a runner in general for almost twenty years.  I'm not saying this to boast, but to give my background to show that I have an idea and know a bit about running.  I know, being a lifelong runner doesn't really make one an expert, but let's just leave it at, I know running and barefoot running.  I've been noticing a trend when people ask for advice about shoes and I recommend barefoot running.  They say something like "that's not for me," or "that might be fine for you" or something similar.  Anything seem familiar about those kinds of statements?  To me they sound just like things one might hear in a discussion about truth objective morality versus relativistic morality.  Is there really a right or wrong way to run?  I'd say there's no clear cut answer to that question, but one thing is certain, there is such a thing as a more natural way to run.

Does natural equal better?  I wouldn't say for certain, but I can say that millions of people all around the world spend millions of dollars (more than they really have to spend) to buy things that are "natural."  If you don't believe that check out Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, dōTERRA, Lemongrass Spa, Norwex, MovNat, and many many others!  All these retailers seek to capitalize on the overwhelming sense that most people have that natural = better.  All other things being equal (particularly price), wouldn't you pick the natural alternative over a chemical/synthetic/artificial option?  So, with regards to the question of barefoot/minimalist running/walking/living, tell me what would be more "natural."  I understand, we, especially in the West, fight an uphill battle against our nurture.  Many (probably almost everyone) since the 1980s have been indoctrinated into the idea that barefootedness is unsafe.  Like the mom in A Christmas Story, we're told not that, "you'll shoot your eye out," but that you'll cut your foot if you walk around barefoot.

I won't lie, there is a definite danger of cutting your foot, but I'll be honest, in my seven years (including a half-marathon) of barefootedness I've only cut my foot a handful of times and every time it hasn't been serious.  In fact the worst cut I ever got was when I was a teenager swimming barefoot and exploring an island in Michigan.  That one hurt (it was right on the arch) and seemed to last forever.  But, in reality the danger is minimal (pun intended)!  When you walk or run barefoot you're much more attentive than you are normally and your footfall is such that you don't drag your feet across the ground.  Even if you do step directly on a piece of glass you still probably won't cut your foot.

The key in all this is, I think, twofold indoctrination.  First, the whole it's dangerous thing, with glass and nails and rocks etc etc etc.  The second and I think more difficult portion of our indoctrination is the "I have low arches" or "I overpronate/supinate" or something similar.  Basically, and I blame shoe companies, we're taught from the moment we think about starting running, that everyone's foot and gait are totally different and each person needs a special shoe to deal with that difference.  While there is a real difference in how everyone walks/runs, and that can make a difference when it comes to speed or style/gait one runs with.  These differences do nothing to undermine the foundational truth that we are all fundamentally built the virtually same.  Obviously this excludes people born with deformities or various handicaps, I'm not saying there aren't abnormalities.  I'm saying that fundamentally humans are all born with the same basic bone and muscle structures.  If one has a "flat foot" or a "fallen arch" do you think that person was born with that or did that happen over time?  Does the person with flat feet have the same basic number of bones/joints/ligaments/tendons/muscles in his or her feet?  YES!  I'm not a medical professional and I haven't done direct research on why people have flat feet, but I can assure you no amount of flat-footedness will change whether or not that person can walk/run barefoot.  Whether you believe in God directly creating humans or evolution through natural unguided evolutionary process humans came to be what they are today, it doesn't matter.  Humans naturally are barefoot.

Let's bring this back around to the relativism issue.  People assume that these differences (which I feel are more the result of shoe company indoctrination) somehow preclude them from the truth that barefootedness is more natural.  If that one thing is true and true for everyone then why not follow the truth?  Perhaps people don't really want truth.  I know in all my discussions with atheists about things relating to God they definitely don't seem honest in their seeking of the truth.  I even recently read about Jerry Coyne's "conversion story" to atheism.  I think in both the shoe-wearing world and in the atheist world, sticking one's head in the sand to avoid the truth is much more comfortable than dealing with the truth.  It is more comfortable and easy to say, "well, that's true for you but not for me," than to really address one's views and look for the answers.  Is it more reasonable to believe this or that?

For more info about barefooting check out this book.  For more about how belief in God is more reasonable that atheism check out this book (there are many others but that is my main suggestion today).

It's kinda hard to see, but that's an octopus.  We found it on our last snorkeling outing.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

On the Existential Argument for God

First, I'd like to point out that I very much dislike any existential argument, somewhat related to the argument from desire (for God or anything else).  They're very much appeals to the populous.  And, while there is a point to be made, I hope I make it as we go, I dislike appeals to popular opinion.  Just because a large group of people feel such-and-such does not say anything to the truth of that feeling.

As a bit of background: I was doing some searching for existential arguments when I happened upon this page from "Common Sense Atheism."  This article written by Luke Muehlhauser is a response to an article by Tawa Anderson on "Apologetics 315," and I decided to respond to both of them here.

The first of Tawa’s arguments for God and the one that I want to discuss here is "Can Man Live Without God? An Existential Argument from Human Religiosity.”  Luke points out: "Tawa notes that every ancient and medieval culture was highly religious, and that 'there is indeed a hole in our hearts that can only be filled by God.'"  However, Luke has no (real) response.  He only scoffs, "Tell that to the healthy, satisfied, well-educated atheists of Scandinavia and they will laugh at you."  Will they?  This article and this article from the New York Post and this article from the Guardian, all tell very different stories about Scandinavian happiness than seems to be touted in the atheist blogosphere.  The basic points in those articles are that Scandinavians are actually among the saddest people in the world, it's the social norm there to conform and claim happiness and uniformity above all else.  Sure they might be among the best educated in the world, as Luke seems to fall into the confusion between causation and correlation as he blogs on this topic quite frequently.  Let's not assume that just because they're unhappy atheists that that is why they are highly educated or vice versa.  Perhaps education and atheism are only corollarily related.

After scoffing and wrongfully claiming that Scandinavians are happy atheists, Luke moves on to an appeal to the majority in the educated world: "Tell that to the most prestigious scientists and philosophers in the world, most of whom are atheists, and they will laugh at you.  (More scoffing/emphasis added.)  Tell that to the millions of fulfilled, moral, successful atheists around the world and they will laugh at you."  Again not really an argument just mocking scorn.  But, since he's gone there let's play the numbers, and if we're playing we might as well play big right?  On Luke's other post about the causes of atheism he references this statistic: "non-believers skyrocketed from 3.2 million in 1900 to 918 million in 2000, or 0.2% of world population in 1900 to 15.3% in 2000" from this source.  So, given approximately 10,000 years of recorded human history the largest percentage ever recorded was a measly 15.3%!?  I am not a mathematician (I'm a linguist), but even I can tell that the incredibly vast majority of human beings throughout the entirety of human history were definitely religious, at least in some fashion.  If anything this supposedly educated majority of people that are happy atheists is completely false given simple statistics.  Also, let's look at educated religious people.  This interesting article on "" counts some of the top IQs ever tested as being Christians or at least theists.  Maybe the test is skewed to allow for a religious person to score higher (that was sarcasm!)?

So let's go back to Luke's only critique so far, "The claim that 'there is … a hole in our hearts that can only be filled by God' is empirically false."  Is it?  We've shown clearly that trillions of people throughout history have had a desire for the ultimate, the other-worldly, the infinite.  But, because there's been a jump in atheism in the past hundred years or so the claim that most people have a desire for God is "empirically false"?  Perhaps Luke is misunderstanding the definition of empirically false.  How is this argument "a shameless, cult-like attempt to prop up human insecurities so that people cling even harder to the superstitions that feed off their insecurity"?  It's a verifiable claim from history that most people want to connect with God.  This verifiable fact implies that there is a hunger deep within humanity.  What are we to make of this hunger?  CS Lewis uses the analogy of one's hunger for food.  If an animal was born without the hunger for food, that organism would die within one generation.  Why are we still living with this desire if it's genetically disadvantageous to desire God, why is it still here?  If it's genetically disadvantageous to desire moral actions why do we still have those desires as well?  Luke's "critique" falls flat.

Luke's prejudice is clear when he calls belief in God "lies" that we ought to leave behind.  Claiming that "meaning and morality and happiness ... is available without fear and superstition (again a sign of prejudice), that is when they leave childish (and again) and comforting notions about gods behind."  I'm genuinely confused here though.  In the very next paragraph Luke claims that religion "thrives on existential insecurity," but he just said that it's "childish and comforting."  How can it be both comforting and full of insecurity?  Again a weak critique here because it's internally inconsistent.  Supposedly religion is childish and comforting, yet it seeks to unsettle its adherents.  Apparently this one book, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide, is Luke's bible and much of his blogging apparently is founded on it.  It may have something interesting to say, but so far based on Luke's comments reflecting what it says, I'm not impressed.  That book claims that "Religion does not provide existential security – instead, it thrives on existential insecurity. It thrives on poverty and ignorance and fear and instability and risk."  And, that "the poorest nations in the world are the most religious," to which I wonder if this took into account the difference in wealth between Islamic countries and Christian or (post-Christian countries) or atheist nation-states like China.  Also, in a sense this is to be expected!  "When people live in a society that already provides them with [any] security ... [that has] stability and safety and education and health care ..." etc. etc. "then people don't need (or want) gods anymore."  (Quotes taken from the blog not from the book.)  Of course, if you lacked nothing in your life, would you want something more?  Oh wait that's the hallmark of the rich!  They become rich because they want more and more.  I found this interesting quote in Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, (I do NOT recommend the book in general, this is merely a quote) "The change in purchasing power over the last half century in the wealthy nations carries the same message: real purchasing power has more than doubled in the United States, France, and Japan, but life satisfaction has changed not a whit."  Even Jesus taught this concept in Matt. 19:24, Mark 10:25, and Luke 18:25.  Why would one think that people with money and security would want God?  They already have security and all the "happiness" that money can buy, which if they're honest isn't really all that much.  Apply this on a societal scale and see a similar result.  If the government supplies all the money, food, health, lodging you could ever want why would you look to God for anything.  That worked so well in the Soviet Union (again with the sarcasm).  So what can we conclude from this?  Safety and security provided by the state quickly and quietly errodes religion (particularly the weak, liberal religions that seek to appease society rather than God).  Scandinavia is the poster child for this.  As the weak, socially watered-down church there stopped appealing to God it became less and less appealing to people as their physical needs were all met by the socialist state.

This last bit is obvious and the clearest indicator that Luke has no understanding of the argument being discussed: "Does my yearning to be the next Matthew Bellamy suggest that I will be? Alas, no. Wishful thinking does not indicate truth."  That is not what the existential argument is saying whatsoever.  The argument does not say that wishing for God makes God exist.  It says, there is an overwhelming desire within humanity for the divine.  Therefore, there probably is something to that desire and the best explanation is that God put that desire in us.  The argument is not saying that wishful thinking makes it so.  Luke's critiques present a clearly flawed view and a deep misunderstanding of the argument in general.  As I said, I don't particularly like the existential argument(s) for God, but Luke Muehlhauser clearly doesn't understand them.  There is a big difference between not liking or thinking that an argument is ineffective and misunderstanding an argument and poorly critiquing it.

One last thing and this is more for my own edification than anything else.  I'd like to try to put the (correct) argument in a syllogism.

P1) The vast majority of humanity has had a desire for God
P2) People *generally* do not persist in desires that have no possibility of being fulfilled
C1) There *probably* is a God

From my recent trip to Korea

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Educational Responsibility

So I recently got into a rather heated discussion about this with a friend. The question I've devised, related to our discussion is this: Who is at fault when the student misunderstands the presented material?

This dicussion revolved around Sexual Assault Response and Prevention training that we are required to attend rather frequently. I won't give the full discussion but it went something like this:

Me: We were taught X in training.
Friend: No, that's not what the training says. I am and have been a trainer for that program for 3+ years.
Me: I know the most recent training was different but I've definitely been trained X in the past.
Fr: Well then you messed up. You're at fault for misunderstanding.

I COMPLETELY disagree. Then my friend said that I was shifting blame.

Before I go into why I disagree I want to make something crystal-clear. I DO NOT blame any teacher for students' bad grades. In most, or at least many, educational situations the concept, "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink," applies. If the teacher teaches a list of 1,000 facts, and the student is responsible for regurgitating 100 of those facts on a test, when the student doesn't memorize the facts through thorough study, it is COMPLETELY the student's fault. The situation in question is different in many ways.

In situations wherein there is a reasonable chance of misunderstanding, or in situations wherein the teacher actually makes a mistake the responsibility falls mainly on the teacher to rectify the mistake. In the former, the teacher should not hold the student responsible, because it is up to the teacher to verify that everyone understands. Now, in this type of situation it's somewhat the student's fault. The student should engage in active learning. He/she should be actively asking questions to verify the message. In the situation in question someone DID ask questions and the teacher repeated/confirmed the message, X that I recall. In the latter situation, when the teacher legitimately makes a mistake, the student could still be at least somewhat at fault, but it is primarily--well, pretty much 99% the teacher's fault. The reason it could be somewhat on the student's shoulders is, in the course of reviewing/studying, the student should have found the truth and come to the teacher for clarification.

The training in question here was a perfect storm of failure. The trainer/teacher was an authority on the matter (well sort of) and when he/she made a mistake no one challenged the trainer with the truth. Hence I had the wrong information, and it falls on the trainer, not me. If you know me in person you'll know I don't have a problem saying, "I'm wrong," or ''I'm sorry."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ten Things Christians Should Keep in Mind When Debating Atheists Number Three

Based on my post back in December about trying to break my writer's block (obviously it didn't work), I'm tackling this list of ten things Christians/theists need to keep in mind.  See this link for number one and here for part two, this is the third point:

There is a gap between natural theology and revealed theology. Arguing for a prime mover is not the same thing as arguing for any faith tradition.

This is a tough one to tackle in a whole blog entry because I totally agree.  Thomas Aquinas and others' "prime mover" argument for God really only gets to the first point of theism.  However, if just this initial part of the argument stands, at the very least atheism is false.

P1) All things that begin to exist have a cause for their existence
P2) The universe began to exist
C1) The universe has a cause

That is just the beginning of the argument.  That only gets to the point that there is some sort of God that created the universe.  That basic argument does not get us to the Christian God.  However, if we add these next few premises we can come to that conclusion:

P3) The cause for the material universe cannot be material itself
P4) The cause for the material universe cannot be with the scope of time
C2) The best description of such a Being is found within Christianity

Also, there is a long and complex argument for Christianity from historical facts:

P4) If Christ rose from the dead, He is God incarnate
P5) Christ rose from the dead (and there is historical evidence to support this)
C3) Christ, as revealed in the Bible is God (the God described above)

So there you have it; there is a gap between natural/general and revealed/special revelation, but it is not a huge gap and easy to cross.  Show me another religion that can claim anything near as powerful as the arguments for Christianity and I'll at least give it some thought.  Though I've done quite a bit of comparative religious studies and I've found other views wanting.

Denominational differences are another question altogether and doesn't belong in this particular discussion, so I'll leave that for another day.

Photo credit goes to my beautiful wife, Michelle Ronicker

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Freedom of Speech

Before I get started let me say "I'm sorry."  I know I probably don't really have regular readers, but if I do, I know I haven't posted regularly since December!  I've had writer's block and then I went on a business trip in January and started classes.  Now my classes are over and I'm going to try to get back into blogging more.

It may seem odd to you, what with a title like "Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness," that I don't often blog about political ideas.  I know, sometimes I think I ought to change the name of my blog to reflect my thoughts, but in a sense I feel that regardless of my specific topic, it always falls under those liberties.  However, today I want to talk about something I've been thinking about for a couple days now, the freedom of speech.

As with all rights, I feel that this right also ends when it infringes on someone else's rights.  Some may claim that my position on abortion doesn't make sense in light of my position on the death penalty, but in the sense that one's right to life ends when it infringes on someone else's right to life it makes perfect sense (at least to me).  The freedom of speech though is a bit tougher concept though.  In a literal sense one's speech cannot ever really infringe on someone's right to life/speech/etc., unless you count someone simply yelling so loud that no one else is able to speak at all.  In the light of the Charlie Hebdo incident, this debate about the freedom of speech including the right to offend, and this debate about liberals stifling intellectual diversity on campus; I've had to rethink what it means to infringe on one's freedom of speech.  First, is hate speech a thing?  Does it exist and what does it look like?  Second, how can one infringe on another's right to speech with speech?  Can that ever happen? And third, are there other ways to infringe on freedom of speech and expression?  Can and does that happen?

So, hate speech, what is it?  Should the government regulate/restrict it?  What about decency?  Should the government regulate that?  Wikipedia has two definitions that are quite significantly different: "[O]utside the law, speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation."  That definition is way too broad, it's basically saying, hate speech is any bigoted communication.  Is saying that you dislike someone because of X characteristic wrong?  That seems clearly covered in free speech.  If you want free speech you have to be willing to sometimes be offended.  Offensive speech is not and should not be defined and enforced by law.  It's a slippery slope to over-censorship.  The second definition is better: "In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by certain characteristics." (emphasis added)  If I say, "So-and-So (S&S) is a jerk."  I'm not using hate speech!  That, by itself is not hate speech.  If I say, "S&S is a jerk and you ought to hate S&S too, S&S did this, that, and the other (all true), so you need to get on board with hating S&S.  If you don't hate S&S you're wrong.  S&S is evil incarnate, etc. etc."  That seems pretty clear cut to me, that is hate speech.  I'm encouraging and even shaming you into hating or treating S&S in a particularly bad way.  Notice what I didn't include there.  If I say S&S is doing some sin, like homosexuality or stealing etc.  That is not hate speech.  Perhaps it borders on indecent speech, as in, I don't walk up to people every day and confront them in their sin.  In fact if you do, you're not following the Bible's guidelines on that, as Christians are supposed to confront other Christians on their sins, not non-Christians.  That's not to say that sermons and evangelists ought not talk about the doctrines around sin, it's just that evangelism in a sense doesn't really need to tell people that they're sinners.  Romans 1:18, 19 makes it clear that people, really, deep down know when they sin.  It may be offensive to some of you, but really think about what you've done in your life and I'm sure you'll see that every time you've done something that is wrong, deep down you knew it was so and felt remorse for doing it.  (This does not necessarily include psychopaths, that's an issue for another discuss/time.)

So, hate speech is when someone incites or tries to incite hatred and mistreatment of a person or group of people.  Saying someone has sinned is not hatred.  Indeed if you think about the message of the Gospel, it's one of the most loving things a person can do.  But I digress.  The next (and arguably more important) question is, "Should the government regulate/enforce hate speech laws?"  Before I get started on this, don't say, "you can't legislate morality."  That's complete crap.  All legislation, even seemingly unrelated legislative acts, are a form of legislating morality.  So, in a sense I'd be perfectly happy with legislated speech, but in another sense that scares me quite a bit.  If you listen to second debate I mentioned above, about liberals stifling intellectual freedom on campus, you'll hear arguments that on campuses all around the U.S. liberals are trampling on the freedom of speech.  That's one of my fears on this issue.  I know that rights, once given up to the government, will never be gotten back.  And, if the government is going to restrict free speech, it will most likely err on the side of liberal ideals.  There should be at least some limitation on speech, hate speech should certainly be treated as different than free speech.  I certainly don't have a problem with the right to free speech including a certain amount of offensive speech, but there should be a limit.  I don't want the government to draw that line though.  If people would have more self restraint, we wouldn't need government intervention.

Let's look at infringements on free speech.  As I often repeat, one's rights end where they infringe on another's rights, but that's much more nuanced when it comes to speech.  In a very literal sense there's not really a way to use one's speech to restrict someone else's free speech (excluding the already mentioned possibility of using a super megaphone).  However, there is a way of using one's speech to minimize or marginalize someone to the point that they are not able to speak freely.  Say for example, people call me a bigot or intolerant so much that I'm no longer respected (not that I'm really all that respected).  Those people can use their freedom to speak their mind (even in an offensive way), to the extreme point that restricts my freedom to express my opinions.  This is obviously more nebulous than murder, assault, etc., but the point is still there you can use free speech to limit someone else's freedom of speech.  However, the same comments all apply with regards to litigation.  It would be a terrible idea for the government to try to limit free speech in order to limit this type of abuse of the freedom.  It is too nuanced to be dealt with by legislation, and the right to free speech includes some amount of the right to offend.  No matter what position one takes, we must all be prepared to accept the idea that someone will probably say something that will offend us.  Offense is a regular part of freedom to express oneself.

There are other, more obvious ways people, especially those in positions of power, can limit other's freedom of speech.  As the debate mentioned above and some of the research conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education indicates, liberal administrators on college campuses all around the U.S. are doing just that.  They are using their positions of influence to restrict or limit various groups' freedom of speech.  The vast majority of academics are decidedly liberal, and in many cases they are using their positions of authority to limit conservatives' freedom of speech.  That's a scary thought.  If free speech is restricted, it will be on the side of liberals, and against conservatives.  I am a conservative, well, sort of.  Regardless, I hope the government keeps its nose out of free speech.  However, with free speech, comes a price tag ... be prepared to be offended, and that's okay.  Free speech, will mean that someone will eventually step on your toes, and that's okay.

Image source here.