Is Tommy Douglas the Greatest Canadian? So says the CBC.
2. Terry Fox
3. Pierre Trudeau
4. Sir Frederick Banting
5. David Suzuki
6. Lester Pearson
7. Don Cherry
8. Sir John A. Macdonald
9. Alexander Graham Bell
10. Wayne Gretzky
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada Has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The re-election of President Bush is prompting the exodus among Left leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray and agree with Bill O' Reilly. Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.
In a September op-ed piece (New York Times, 9/10/04), Yale professor Paul Bloom rightly argued that ideas have consequences. Thus, one's view of human nature will certainly affect one's judgment on issues such as stem-cell research, abortion, and the role of religion in public life.
Bloom, a developmental psychologist, believes that the view of human nature propagated by Descartes--involving a radical mind-body dualism--is mistaken and does not adequately help to explain the way children actually develop. I agree with him and would add that the Cartesian dualism coupled with a sacred-secular value dualism has distorted the worldview of all too many people, including Christians.
The 1940s gospel song, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through," may help those struggling in difficult circumstances to maintain hope fostered by the biblical promise that God will, in the end, "wipe every tear from their eyes" (Rev. 21:4). But to the extent that the song suggests humans are just angels driving around in automobiles--whose spirits will eventually shed their inferior material carriages forever--it is both bad creation theology and a misunderstanding of the biblical hope for fulfillment.
The book of Genesis presents God declaring that everything in and about creation is good--"very good"--and the creation remains good despite the parasitic intrusion of evil. Furthermore, the blessed outcome promised in the Bible is not a disembodied heavenly existence, but "a new heaven and a new earth." It is not for nothing that Christians have for centuries confessed their faith (through the Apostles' Creed) not in the immortality of the soul, but in "the resurrection of the body."
What should matter to those who make this confession is how to fulfill their earthly callings so that the riches of creation can unfold in ways that reflect God's purposes and standards for every sphere of life--economic, artistic, familial, political, and all others. Moreover, Christians should do this in ways that anticipate the new heaven and new earth, where justice and righteousness will fully prevail.
This does not guarantee easy answers to questions about embryonic vs. adult stem-cell research or about the many concerns surrounding abortion. But it does mean that you cannot and should not try to exclude faith-based dialogue from the public square, because different views of human life, including the "naturalism" of most scientists, are all faith-based world views.
Consequently, when Bloom asserts that "the qualities of mental life that we associate with souls are purely corporeal [and] emerge from biochemical processes of the brain" he is making a statement that is no less faith-based than the theological assertion that God "sustains all things by his powerful word" (Heb. 1:3). If the latter is correct, then nothing is "purely" corporeal, not even the dirt under our feet.
So I agree with Bloom's judgment that minds develop in dependence on bodily structures and functions, but I disagree with his biological reductionism. And Bloom should have second thoughts about it too, because if all thought is merely the inevitable consequence of the thinker's biological processes and learning history, then the very enterprise of science is rendered meaningless. A consistent naturalism also renders all moral prescriptions (such as, "Work for the welfare of humankind") meaningless, since such statements would also be the outcome of biological and other processes that are widely variable and sometimes even random in origin. The fact that most naturalists are not moral relativists does not rescue them from intellectual inconsistency; it simply means that as people, they are better than their theories. Let's hope they stay that way.
--Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, Professor of Psychology and Philosophy Eastern University
Abortion has caused missing Democrats--and missing liberals. For advocates so fundamentally committed to changing the face of conservative America, liberals have been remarkably blind to the fact that every day the abortions they advocate dramatically decrease their power to do so. Imagine the number of followers that their abortion policies eliminate who, over the next several decades, would have emerged as the new liberal thinkers, voters, adherents, fund-raisers and workers for their cause.
Where, then, does the difference lie between those who look forward to the next four years and those who dread them? It has to do with a philosophical question: not of what is right or wrong, but why certain things are right or wrong.
There are two possibilities. Either we know what's right because God or his earthly agents inform us through objective revelation or tradition — or, we know because that's just what the better-informed human beings appear to have decided, through a subjective process of moral democracy. President Bush is the country's most prominent believer in objective morality.
OTTAWA, 2011 - The Supreme Court of Canada today ruled unanimously that all legal definitions of everything are unconstitutional. Because they discriminate against whoever and whatever does not conform to them, such definitions violate the equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Parliament has been given 60 days to rewrite all laws to conform to this decision.
In claiming that monotheism and reliance on revelation are necessarily terroristic, these secular pundits condemn Christians, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unitarians, Sabeans, and Bahais, to name a few, along with George Washington, James Madison, and a host of other Founding Fathers, as inherently violent. Notice, however, that the condemnation extends also to the revealed monotheistic religion of Islam--and no one objects. Yet when Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham said that violence is inherent in Islam, they were pilloried by respectable opinion. These days, religious intolerance and theological illiteracy are far more conspicuous in the pages of the New York Times than among most southern fundamentalists.
There is also hypocrisy and self-contradiction. [Thomas] Friedman seems blissfully unaware that, even as he condemns others for holding out their particular faith as supreme, he is asserting the supremacy of his own passionately held view. His secularist critique attempts the miraculous combination of denouncing others' faith while attacking those who denounce others' faith. Do not try this trick at home. It should be attempted only by seasoned professionals who lack any capacity for self-criticism or even self-awareness.
As for confronting their own limitations, Democrats may need little urging. For despite unprecedented unity, strong organization, and an able candidate, the party suffered a clear defeat in the popular vote. Will Democrats be willing to ask the hard questions, however? Will they ask how the party reconciles responsible environmental stewardship with reckless individualism on marriage and life issues? Will they question why liberalism should be the foe rather than the friend of faith-based social services or of parents' primary responsibility for their children's education?
Self-reflection is also long overdue among evangelical Christians who now enjoy unprecedented influence in Republican ranks. Despite their strong defense of a biblical view of marriage, many are unreconstructed individualists who equate stewardship of the environment with liberal elitism and believe that unilateralism in foreign policy is justified because America is God's chosen nation. It is a Christian axiom that all communities, institutions, and persons are broken, reflecting the sinfulness of humanity. But communities, institutions and persons can, by the grace of God, experience transformation. The conditions for such transformation are humility, repentance and forgiveness. In the end, political humiliation rather than political triumph may make for easier transit through this particular needle's eye.
Our modern innovation of "no-fault" divorce is really unilateral divorce. If one person wants a divorce, the marriage ends, regardless of the other person's wishes. We have no idea how many reluctantly divorced people are walking around our society, but no doubt there are a quite a few. People who want to keep working on the marriage — people who want to keep the vows they made — these are the people who are penalized by the current system. Tell me again how this makes us all freer and happier?
1. The Hobbesian commonwealth
2. The night watchman state
3. The regulatory state
4. The equal opportunity state
5. The choice-enhancement state
At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
1. To destroy completely; ruin.
2. To undermine the character, morals, or allegiance of; corrupt.
3. To overthrow completely.
[Charles] Darwin and [Alfred Russel] Wallace would be delighted to see their theories illustrated in a manner showing that humans are not immune to natural selection. This is bad news for creationists who insist on the literal truth of the Bible. The existence of Florence shows the fact of species diversity, and the difficulty of separating human from ape on the evolutionary scale.
If it turns out that the diversity of human beings was always high, remained high until very recently and might not be entirely extinguished, we are entitled to question the security of some of our deepest beliefs. Will the real image of God please stand up?
Being made in the image of God is about being given the gift of intimate relationship with God, and a certain kind of responsibility in the natural world. That human beings are special in terms of relationship allowed early astronomers such as Huygens to speculate about other worlds without having nightmares about his Christian faith. The fact that God may have created many other species in the Universe does not diminish the relationship he has given to human beings.
Further, as many historians have pointed out, the Christian worldview encouraged the growth of empirical science - the Universe had to be observed to see what God had done. The diversity and unpredictability of the cosmos or natural world was therefore a reflection of a God who gives the Universe the potential for extravagance. Finally, the gift of responsibility brought with it the need for care and compassion to others, the animal kingdom and the environment. So as a Christian, in common with many other religious believers, I don't see LB1 [Flores man] as a threat to religion.
I am fascinated with what more we might find out about the diversity of the natural world. And if Homo floresiensis still exists then they need to be treated with respect and care whether the anthropologists class them as human or not. I still see the special status of humanity in the gift of relationship with God, a relationship affirmed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Over the past decade, this "family values" question has become very difficult, and polarized by both the Religious Right and the cultural Left. To move forward, we must simply refuse the false choices being offered by both sides. The Left has misdiagnosed the roots of our present social crisis, mostly leaving out the critical dimension of family breakdown as a fundamental component of problems like poverty and violence. These issues are not just important to the Religious Right, or simply bourgeois concerns. We do need to rebuild strong and healthy two-parent family systems. We desperately need more families with moms and dads and kids, strong male and female role models in both "nuclear" and extended family systems. It's not a matter of whether that should be "the norm"; it simply is the norm in this society and every other one. The question, rather, is how that family norm can be a healthy one.
With widespread acceptance of the notion that behavior in the highly personal areas of sex and marriage is of no concern to anyone other than the "consenting adults" involved, it has been easy to overlook what should have been obvious from the beginning: individual actions in the aggregate exert a profound influence on what kind of society we are bringing into being. Eventually, when large numbers of individuals act primarily with regard to self-fulfillment, the entire culture is transformed. The evidence is now overwhelming that affluent Western nations have been engaged in a massive social experiment — an experiment that brought new opportunities and liberties to adults but has put children and other dependents at considerable risk.
Disarray in one sustaining cultural institution weakens others. The spread of family breakdown has been accompanied by disturbances in schools, neighborhoods, churches, local governments, and workplace associations — all of the structures that have traditionally depended on families for their support and that in turn have served as important resources for families in times of stress. The law, too, has changed rapidly, becoming a testing ground for various ways of reimagining family relations and an arena for struggles among competing ideas about individual liberty, equality between men and women, human sexuality, marriage, and family life. . . .
What makes the dependency-welfare crisis so confounding is that all of society’s sources of support and security are implicated. Families, still the central pillar of our caregiving system, are losing much of their capacity to care for their own dependent members, just when government is becoming less capable of fulfilling the roles it once took over from families. It seems that the ambition of welfare states to free individuals from much of their dependence on families, and to relieve families of some of their most burdensome responsibilities, may have succeeded just well enough to put dependents at heightened risk now that welfare states are faltering.