. . . Someone once said, "The heart cannot believe that which the mind rejects." If you are not confident that the message of the Bible is actually true, you can't believe it no matter how hard you try. The "I just take Christianity on (blind) faith" attitude can't be the right approach. It leaves the Bible without defense, yet Peter directs us to make a defense for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). Also, the biblical word for faith, pistis, doesn't mean "wishing." It means "active trust." And trust cannot be conjured up or manufactured. It must be earned. . . . ►►►
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. . . At times, this academic groupthink leads PhDs to defend issues that are indefensible and to give their allegiance to causes that are immoral or unethical. At other times, it leads them to believe things that are simply and demonstrably false—things that violate objective observation, common sense, and the collective experience of mankind. Indeed, colleges and universities across Europe and America brazenly teach their students three things that are so patently absurd that only a PhD could believe them. . . . ►►►
. . . As I see it, this is the tragedy of university life. Tenure protects the proselytizers, and students are cowed into submission so as not to jeopardize their grades, or even their degrees. The intellectual vitality that emerges from honest reflection and disagreement is absent from most college classes. Students are there to be manipulated as if they were objects in a grand experiment. . . . ►►►
Just try telling those dinner guests of yours that you believe extramarital sex is immoral, abortion is murder, marriage is the union of husband and wife, or the interests of children are best served in a family headed by both of their biological parents, and see how quickly words like "moralizer," "misogynist," "bigot," or "homophobe" are let fly to shut you down. Even if you give them hard data from any of the numerous studies showing how deviations from cultural norms have created (and continue to create) more rather than less social dysfunction, you will still find yourself harshly judged, because, as all nice people know, judging is wrong. ►►►
. . . Isn't it strange that something as intimate and private as sex has become, at least in the eyes of some, the fulcrum around which all relational life seems to turn? Or not turn. Take reactions to Lolo Jones for example, the rags-to-riches track and field star whose intention to save sex for marriage drew more coverage than her athletic success. "Lolo Jones should've had sex before that race," was one of the tamer digs fired her way, "because #SexisforWinners." Sex may well be for winners, but before making a definitive statement out of that, the smart single would do well to figure out which game she (or he) is trying to win. . . . ►►►
Do animals have a sense of self? Or is selfhood unique to humans? That's a trickier question than we might at first suppose. In recent issues of Salvo, we looked at problem-solving intelligence in animals. Recapping: Claims for chimpanzee intelligence are generally overrated; on some tests, birds or dogs do as well as or better than chimps. And yes, bonobos use tools, but then so do birds, crocodiles, some fish, and octopuses. But only some species in all these vast animal divisions do so. We don't know why they do and others don't. . . . ►►►
Patrick Fagan is the founder and director of MARRI, the Marriage and Religion Research Institute. MARRI studies the impact of marriage, family, and religion on society. Once a practicing psychologist, Dr. Fagan moved into the field of public policy as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Family and Community Policy at the Department of Health and Human Services under President George H. W. Bush. He recently announced the launch of Marripedia, an online social-science encyclopedia that makes research related to family, marriage, sexuality, and religion accessible to the public. Dr. Fagan spoke with us about what makes for a healthy society, the importance of what he calls "the two great loves," and what he sees as a growing crisis for men. . . . ►►►
. . . You might say that your belief in the reliability of your senses is an article of faith. After all, it is something that you hold to be true without conclusive proof. Moreover, it is a conviction that has practical consequences for every moment of your waking life. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you conduct yourself according to this conviction that your senses are reliable. In short, you devoutly trust your senses. This is just one of the ways that all of us live by faith, regardless of what our particular worldviews happen to be. . . . ►►►
. . . To Krauss's thinking, people who protest the harvesting and marketing of aborted babies' tissue are "anti-science" because those practices "could help save lives." It's a bit like calling those who opposed the harvesting and marketing of tissue "procured" by Josef Mengele as "anti-science." Anyway, religion is getting too much respect, and something's got to be done about it, so Krauss is calling on his fellow scientists to be militant in liberating "humanity from the shackles of enforced ignorance." As to who really needs to be unshackled, Krauss might want to take a long look in the mirror. . . .►►►
During my graduate school days at the University of Toronto (late 1960s) I took a short summer course, Advances in Planetary Physics, taught by astronomer Carl Sagan. Sagan was a rising star then and well on his way to becoming the science popularizer and communicator for which he later became famous. Most of the course and nearly all of the informal evening discussions focused on the possibility that extraterrestrial intelligent life existed and on the kinds of civilizations such beings would have established. In Sagan's mind, there was absolutely no doubt that extraterrestrial intelligent beings (ETI) existed. Furthermore, he was convinced that on many planets in our galaxy ETIs had developed civilizations far more technically advanced than ours. . . . ►►►
. . . Lemaître presented this theory in writing to Einstein in October 1927, when the two first met at a conference in Brussels. As the priest later recalled, Einstein's response was, "Your calculations are correct, but your physics is abominable." Lemaître's work was more or less dismissed by the New York Times, which called his theory "highly romantic." The encyclopedia Notable Scientists said that Lemaître's main problem was that his theory "lacked sufficient mathematical backing for widespread acceptance." Such backing would arrive in the fullness of time. ►►►
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