- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2008

British values

“Our investigation has shown us the deep and varied ways in which the beliefs, values and virtues of Great Britain have been formed by the Christian faith. The consequences of the loss of this discourse are there for all to see: the destruction of the family because of the alleged parity of different forms of life together; the loss of a father figure, especially for boys, because the role of fathers is deemed otiose; the abuse of substances (including alcohol); the loss of respect for the human person leading to horrendous and mindless attacks on people; the increasing communications gap between generations and social classes. The list is very long.

“Is it possible to restore such discourse to the heart of our common life? Some would say it is not possible. Matters have gone too far in one direction and we cannot retrace our steps. Others would be hostile to the very idea. They have constructed their lives and philosophies around the demise of Christianity as an element in public life, and they would be very inconvenienced if it were to put in an appearance again.”

-Church of England Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester, writing on “Breaking Faith With Britain,” in the June issue of Standpoint

Obama’s stand

“As both [United Church of Christ President John] Thomas and Senator [Barack] Obama are all too well aware, even if the media is not, the very heart of UCC doctrine is that the members run the church.

“At any time in the past twenty years Barack Obama had the complete authority to say to Reverend [Jeremiah] Wright and his fellow parishioners at Trinity: ‘I don’t think this is a good idea. I think we have to stop wallowing in black victimology. The things I am hearing from our pulpit sound racist, divisive, hateful.’ And then he could have begun an effort to remove Wright from the pulpit, something every UCC member has the ability to do.

“He did not do it. Obama froze. Or he chose - to do nothing. To give Wright his ‘old uncle’ a pass. Was it because he was afraid to damage his political base? Was it because he was afraid he would anger Wright? Or most interestingly of all - was it because he actually agreed with what Wright was preaching?”

-Jeffrey Lord, writing on “The Backbone of a Chocolate Eclair” on June 2 at the American Spectator Web site

Explaining atheism

“The great logician Bertrand Russell is a model of this illogic. The famous quip he offered to explain his atheism - ‘Not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence’ - only snaps every person eager to quote him (e.g., [Richard] Dawkins) back to a day before buckled shoes, when material solutions were still worth discussing.

“To talk like Russell after [Blaise] Pascal only makes you quaint and silly, because what the lack of evidence delivers is logically a question, not a conclusion. Skepticism raises the question: Is there any way forward after we have given up on material evidence? It certainly doesn’t answer it.

“To clamber from skepticism to atheism without embarrassing yourself is only possible with support from another premise - If we cannot know it via the senses, then it cannot exist - and there is a lot to be embarrassed about if you call yourself a skeptic and believe that. There is no sign in Russell of the skeptic who will instinctively ask, what reason do I have to subordinate the possibility of God’s existence to the powers of my senses?”

- Edward Tingley, writing on “The Skeptical Inquirer” in the June issue of Touchstone

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