Archive | Social Issues

Are you “on the wrong side of history” (and should you be worried)?

It’s time to take a closer look at a phrase you’re probably tired of hearing by now. Words and phrases come into and go out of style just like everything else. I remember when Devo and Spandau Ballet were tearing up the FM airwaves. In recent years there has been a surge in popularity for the phrase “on the wrong side of history.” An article at the end of 2013 claimed that this “rhetorical two-step,” as it called it, has seen a statistical swell across published articles. It cites the Yale Book of Quotations, which counted 524 articles in 2006 in which the phrase was used, compared with 1,800 articles featuring it in 2013.


So it’s all the rage, but what does it mean? If you didn’t know any better, you might think that it means going against history or disagreeing with those who went before us. But of course that is not what those who use the phrase are wanting to say. But let us examine briefly both possibilities. Let’s ask first about being on the wrong side of history as we now consider it (i.e., that which in our past), and then let’s look at being on the wrong side of what will someday be history (i.e., that which is in our future).


On the Wrong Side of What We NOW Call “History”


History is that which is in the past, quite obviously, so the most literal understanding of the phrase “on the wrong side of history” would be just what it sounds like: to be on the wrong side of history, in this sense, is to hold a belief or position that goes against what those in the past believed or held. Knowing as we do the general thought-patterns of our own culture, we might reasonably ask whether the dominant perspective represented in pop culture, media and entertainment finds agreement with the majority of significant voices from our history.


And it would not require a lot of reading from history to come quickly to the conclusion that nearly nobody from the generations of the past would find agreement with leading contemporary social and political voices in the Western world. History is a long tale full of clues about how our present culture came to look, speak, think, and act the way it does. If you familiarize yourself with the story you will come to see that the contemporary notions Americans have about religion, ethics and politics are mostly novelties, appearing just a few ‘chapters’ ago.


Historical ignorance and the move away from traditional religious and moral beliefs are undoubtedly tied together. “History is a hill or a high point,” wrote G. K. Chesterton, “from which alone men see the town in which they are living and the age in which they live.” So many today are confused and lack perspective because they have no vantage point from which to see their own tiny plot of time and place.  To borrow the analogy from James the Apostle, we never look into the mirror that would show us a more accurate reflection of ourselves and our surroundings.


Reading the words or biographies of prominent people from our past would likely shock – and maybe offend – many contemporary fans of the “progressive” left. A lot of young people who encounter the voices of the past while reading for college courses are given to the foolish habit of rejecting them with a knee-jerk reaction that assumes that everyone who lived before iphones was backward and just didn’t get it. In most cases they read just enough to condemn everyone in history of being ignorant, racist, puritanical religious nuts. This childish view of history says more about our own culture than any of those from the past. We’ve become too inept even to know how to process the predominant ways of thinking of those in our history. “To be ignorant of the past is to remain a child,” wrote Cicero, and he had so much less history from which to learn than we do all of these centuries later. Our confusion is of our own making. We have libraries of brilliant teachers to tutor us, but we’d rather get our wisdom from our peers, from Hollywood, from jaded comedians, or from the twittersphere, all within 140 characters.


I challenge anyone to begin reading biographies of the American founders, and see how long it takes to start re-adjusting everything that you thought you knew about the moral and political debates of our time. For all of the specific and distinct differences between them, they all seem to have shared a general worldview that many young voters today would hardly recognize. As far as I can tell, none of them – to a man – could get elected to any office today with the views they expressed in their writings and speeches.


Poor Washington, Adams, Jay, Hamilton, Jefferson & Madison, if they discovered a time machine & visited us today, would find themselves in a bizarro-world of contemporary political correctness, and they would quickly find that instead of principled disagreement and substantive debate, our present political culture would offer them only petty mockery and slander for their views. They would be castigated as right-wing religious wackos. They would be called war-mongers, too vicious toward criminals, way too accommodating toward churches and religious organizations, not nearly compassionate enough with the government spending, and generally too uptight. Their views of marriage and family would elicit angry, sarcastic laughter from the entertainment community.  They would feel like the guy from the movie “Idiocracy” after he woke up from a few hundred years of cryosleep to a society steadily degraded in every way to the point of being completely debased morons.


My point is that the literal understanding of the phrase “on the wrong side of history” would not suit those are most fond of the phrase. Since they tend to lean leftward toward modern p.c. sensibilities, they would be horrified to discover just how far on the wrong side of our history they have placed themselves.


On the Wrong Side of What FUTURE Generations Will Call “History”


This second understanding of the phrase “on the wrong side of history” is what most people actually mean to suggest when they use it. They mean to say that the present direction and flow of ideas and events points one way (typically “my” way), and those of you who disagree are simply moving in the other direction – away from the direction that things appear to be headed. It is as if the current of the cultural river is moving along, and a few traditionalists uncomfortable with its direction are trying to turn back against it. The implied argument is that, first, the traditionalist is in denial regarding the way things are actually going, and second, the deniers are impeding the forward progress of things and hindering the natural flow of history toward what we have discerned is its destination.


So again I ask:  Is this a fair charge by those who are pushing society away from the traditions of the past? Will people in future generations look back with shame at those who were not on board with direction that cultural progressives are moving society at the present moment?


Keep in mind first that this understanding of “history” (the present time that will be considered history to future generations) differs from actual “history” (the times that preceded the present) in one very important sense: actual history has already happened and is thus set, whereas the imagined history as future people will see it is sheer guesswork. In other words, when asking whether you’re on the wrong side of actual history, you at least can address the question to events that are final and cannot change. The thoughts, beliefs, and deeds of the people before us already happened.  But asking whether you’re on the wrong side of what future generations will think, believe, and do is a presumptuous (and usually self-serving) leap.


And not only are those who use this phrase over-estimating their knowledge of what the mindset and beliefs of people in future generations will actually be, they are being equally presumptuous that those supposed beliefs of future people are correct beliefs. Either they invest way too much confidence in the superior wisdom of people yet to be born (which may involve the ridiculous idea that we will ‘evolve’ over a couple of generations), or they have a mystical view of history’s unfolding that places faith in the inevitable move upward toward utopia (something akin to the views of men like Hegel or Marx).


Because of all of this, when I hear someone respond to an opponent in a debate over a heated moral or political topic with “You’re on the wrong side of history,” (assuming that the person means it in this second, most likely sense) II immediately want to ask two questions of that person: (1) How do you presume to know the collective mindset of millions of people yet to exist? And (2) even if you are right about their views, so what? What makes them any more correct than anyone living now or in the past?


What I think is really going on when people use this phrase is that they are hoping that the idea of being “on the wrong side of history” will register some kind of negative feeling that puts pressure on those who disagree with them to change their point of view. It is a  rhetorical ploy. Instead of a legitimate argument, it is a personal pressure strategy. The opponent is supposed to have a sense that he or she is, after all, on the “wrong” side and therefore should change. It is by no means a new tactic. In 1960 the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was so confident in the Marxist view of history in which the superiority of communism was set inevitably to overthrow capitalism that he told his opponents with full swagger, “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side.”


The real issue: Are you on the right or wrong side of the TRUTH?


In an age of social media group-think and public cowardice this may sound revolutionary, but it’s high time people today muster up enough common sense and courage to say, “I don’t care what people think or say.” Only someone willing to think outside of the narrow parameters of the immediate culture’s myopic perspective can have any hope of arriving at sensible conclusions on important questions.


We seem to care so little about the wisdom of all of the generations of the past, why then concern ourselves so anxiously about the projected opinions of the generations of the future? I submit that if those who are so fond of declaring who will (in the future) end up on the wrong side of history would themselves learn some actual history, they might gain just enough insight to realize that they don’t know what they’re talking about, which may just be the golden key of truth that opens the gates of wisdom for them.


All of those who have gone before were flawed and limited just like we are. They weren’t omniscient. In plenty of cases we are confident to call certain of their opinions wrong. But that isn’t the point. As the Chesterton quote in the previous section indicates, the point of hearing the views of people outside of your time and place is that they may help you see outside of your own immediate influences and biases. Or as Tim Keller has famously put it, “”When you read one thinker, you become a clone. Two thinkers, you become confused. Ten thinkers, you begin developing your own voice. Two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise.” We could elaborate this to say that when you are completely submersed in one specific culture, you are a clone of that culture. You have to hear the contradictory opinions of people outside your echo chamber.


Truth should carry more weight than the shared feelings or passing opinions of a given majority within a single subculture. The mistake of the dominant media and entertainment culture of the present moment is that it arrogantly and immaturely allows itself to suppose that its current views on religious, moral and political issues are so obviously right that opposing views need not be seriously considered. No time need be wasted, they seem to be saying among themselves, on making legitimate arguments for our current views or engaging with dissenting opinions. Instead we can just ride the wave of our own subjective confidence and attempt to put pressure on our critics to get on our bandwagon and at least pretend to agree with us. And one of the ways we can try to apply such pressure is to taunt them with “You’re on the wrong side of history.”

The Problem with “Bully Bob”

BullyBobSeveral months ago the NY Times ran an article entitled “Publishers Revel in Youthful Cruelty,” describing how the topic of bullying has ignited a book bonanza on the subject over the last few years. This probably isn’t news to anyone since the ubiquitous nature of the subject is evident way outside of old fashioned print media. Many are the awareness campaigns about bullying, ads with celebrities, special emphases within the schools, anti-bullying surveys and petitions across social media, etc.

Bullying applies to every kind of potential victim: the overweight, the mentally challenged, the religious minority, the socially awkward. Frequently it is associated particularly with the gay issue. Bullying is no longer the straightforward thing we once took it to be. Now it can be subtle, nonphysical, a particular feeling one gets from another person. And of course there is cyber-bullying, a word nobody would have understood in my school days.

I will admit readily that anytime something like this leaps out of obscurity and onto the radar of political correctness, my knee-jerk reaction is negative. I can’t help it. I have such little faith in and respect  for contemporary popular culture that I just assume that whatever captivates all of its attention at the present moment is probably idiotic. But that’s not really fair, so I have to back off and take a closer look sometimes. And even though the issue of bullying has popped up like a trendy ‘cause of the month’, if I think about the issue for what it is, disregarding some of the silliness that is currently written about it, I can’t deny that it is an important subject.

Bullying is necessarily a moral issue, since the word itself, like “murder” or “rape,” is morally slanted. It isn’t a neutral word. It is implied that you are doing something wrong if you are bullying. And as with any moral discussion, we have to make judgments about things that are right and things that are wrong. My specific interest here is not with bullying in the schoolyard but with bullies in the contemporary public discourse. These are the forceful voices who come strong with their opinions and use illegitimate bully-style tactics in order to twist the philosophical arms of people into agreeing with them (or at least into saying that they agree with them). My contention is that this kind of “Bully Bob” is problematic and needs to be confronted.

Bully Bob is a Big Talker

The first problem with the kinds of bullies I’m talking about is of a verbal nature. The general rule is that the bully in the yard with the biggest mouth is likely to cower the first time he’s confronted by someone whose toughness is more than talk. That’s why, when Wyatt Earp looked over & saw ‘Bully’ Bob Thornton as the belligerent Faro dealer bossing people around & doling out the threats (after having abused the regular customers and chased off all the high class play, according the bartender), Earp saw right through Bully Bob & realized immediately that he didn’t need to “go heeled to get the bulge on a tub” like him. A  typical loudmouth, this bully – a “madcap” identified as “Johnny Tyler” by Doc Holliday (and based on a historical figure)- was all noise, too cowardly to “skin that smokewagon and see what happens” when stood up to by a confident and unarmed stranger.

If you don’t get the above reference, never mind the specific names & quotes (but seriously, how can you call yourself an American?). The point is that when someone talks too big a game it is an indicator of the high likelihood that the situation is exactly the opposite. And the odds continue moving in that direction with every additional bit of verbal abuse he adds to his swagger. When I hear someone using verbal and ideological bully tactics in a modern day debate, it automatically weakens that person’s position for me. I hear weakness masked by the noise of a bully megaphone.

And while the big talkers who bring the noise can be intimidating, a certain calm confidence on the part of someone who questions the verbal bully can cut right through his bluster. The worst thing you can do in response to his or her noise is to play the same game and try to talk more trash and louder. The best thing you can do is to ignore the petty stuff and go right to the heart of the person’s point of view. Ask her pointed and penetrating questions that require her to articulate and defend the view she is trying to bully people into accepting. It is sometimes surprising how quickly someone who seemed so sure of herself will back off once critical questions are put to her.

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Orientations, Identities, Disorders, and Future Possibilities that Might Make you Squirm a Little

DSM-IVRecently there was a stir about something in the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association. A couple of headlines were saying that this fifth and latest version was identifying pedophilia as a “sexual orientation.” Not long after those headlines registered their requisite shock and response, the APA issued a retraction and clarification.

Watching this unfold I was reminded again how seemingly confusing is the use of terminology by this group, especially when it comes to key words like “orientation,” “identity” and “disorder.” A first principle of critical thinking is the clear and precise use of important terms. Failure to define these words with clarity and consistency in this case includes an ominous potential to carry our society down a moral and logical river that runs straight into a sewage pond. To see what I mean, consider more carefully the definition and use of each of these strategic words.


The APA & similar organizations describe “sexual orientation” as persistent attraction to those of a particular type or group. The attraction is of a sexual (in some cases they add “emotional” or “romantic”) nature. Sometimes you see, along with “attraction,” other words such as “tendency,” “proclivity,” “interest” & “preference.” So in essence a person’s sexual orientation, according to this characterization, amounts to his or her feelings of attraction toward a given group.

Usually the emphasis of the ‘group’ to which a person is attracted is along the lines of gender (i.e., attracted to males, females, or both), but there is nothing in the definition to prevent other things besides gender from defining the parameters of the group. There is no reason given, for example, why such an orientation would not instead have to do with age (e.g., attraction to the elderly or to children), body type (e.g., attraction to the obese or to “little people”), or something else.

Clearly a person who does experience one of these peculiar kinds of sexual attraction (or interest or preference) based on something other than gender would have a legitimate case for his or her attraction being an “orientation” by the definition commonly used. So the description of pedophilia as an “orientation,” for all of the reaction it evoked, would nevertheless, by the reasoning of the APA, be perfectly sensible. I don’t see any argument they could make against that application of the word as it has been loosely defined.


Now a safe bet for why many people were so uncomfortable with notion that pedophilic attraction could be an “orientation” is that there is another (seemingly added on) aspect of “orientation” that is often mentioned when the term is being discussed and explained. This aspect is basically a sense of one’s identity being in some way tied to the sexual attraction one feels toward the given group. Like the feelings of attraction themselves, this sense of personal identity is entirely 1st person  and subjective. I have the specific orientation if I say that I do, and thus it is part of my identity if I say that it is.

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Beware of Images that Make You Look More Pathetic than Cool

zoolanderquoteWhen did we make it our obsession to be liked by everyone so that we go out of our way to project images that will please them? I speak not of the youngsters here. I’m talking about grown people who, like shallow adolescents with feeble self-esteem, take special pains to present images of themselves (their views, priorities, attitudes) that conform slavishly to the latest trends of a fickle culture. The nervous pressure to “fit in” or belong to the right crowd has always been a rite of passage and to some extent to be expected in young people. It becomes astronomically more pathetic in adults.

What do I mean? Well we can start with the wider view and then narrow it down to the confines of the Church. In my lifetime thus far a massive ongoing revolution in technology has fueled the advent of a kind of new world. In this world, unlike the one of your grandparents, everybody is easily and readily connected, can communicate at once in real time from any place, and thus is more transparent to the world than ever before.  Cameras catch what we do and say, billions of pieces of our correspondence are recorded minute by minute. The saying that “image is everything” has new meaning now. It’s not just the famous who project and maintain an image. Everybody has some kind of online image, culled from all of their photos, likes, tweets, friends, reports of their daily activities, etc.

This new world has also seen the growth of an unfortunate trend that has usually gone by the name of “political correctness,” referring to heightened sensitivity about what you say and whom it might offend. With image being so important, and every word being recorded, the landscape has become a dangerous minefield. Public persons – esp. politicians – say less than ever, just to avoid stepping on a mine & seeing their reputations blown apart in the instant it takes for the report of it to travel across the world.

What this has to do with being “cool” may not be immediately apparent. You may think of “cool” in more specific ways that date back through the years. I’m being more general about it. Don’t think of “cool” the way the Fonz used it on Happy Days (for those old enough).  Ideas of what is hip or cool (or whatever other word you choose to employ) are usually associated with images, from archetypal images like James Dean to farcical ones like the fictional Zoolander character. But I’m referring to an image we present that is not so much about appearance and style of dress. Think of being cool or hip more simply as being in the flow of current ways of thinking, as not in any way standing out or going against the present prevailing views of things. It is subscribing to or agreeing with all of the positions that all the “cool kids” take on the questions or issues of the day.

This kind of pressure causes people who come from more conservative social backgrounds to repudiate the ways of their upbringing once they’ve entered a social climate in which those ways are deemed old fashioned (or worse). The fear of uncoolness in this regard makes some people fall all over themselves in the desperate attempt to seem like they’re on the right side of things. Witness the regular parade of self-flagellating public figures in the last several years, doing penance by way of a public statement or press conference, forced to undergo the pitiful walk of shame because of something they said in passing, a joke made in poor taste, something overheard by somebody twenty years ago. Imagine what an incredible force of nature is required to cause people of such towering arrogance to humiliate themselves in this way, whether their penance is sincere or not. Alas, the terrifying risk of falling out of favor with the cool crowd is a fate worse than the public shame they are willing to endure.

People in entertainment are especially susceptible to these forces. Notoriously anxious about their images, usually deriving their insatiable drive for success in large part from a vacuous deficit of self-esteem, entertainers are generally the kinds of personality-types with the highest sensitivity for the perception of cool and the degree to which they are measuring up to the standard. Any time I learn of a prominent entertainer (in television, movies, the music industry, etc.) whose views do not square with those of the majority cool crowd, I take note. I typically assume that those individuals, as exceptions to the rule, possess a kind of self-assurance that is rare in their circles.

But why should it be rare? Isn’t part of maturity just the very sort of self-actualization that allows a person to begin to perceive things for him/herself, to make judgments and decisions based on reasons of better substance than social pressure, and to bear the responsibility and consequences for those judgments and decisions, regardless of what social pressure or cultural flack it brings? The great social reformers that command so much respect and nostalgia were of just this sort. They were confident enough in their positions to withstand the withering heat of public backlash. Most of them were completely uncool by the majority opinions of their time.

This should tell us something. The neurosis to be accepted by our culture and to maintain an image that keeps up with current coolness standards is a sign of weakness. It shows us to be people who are not comfortable in our own skin, who cannot make up our own minds and maintain convictions based on the truth or rightness of those convictions (rather than based on social pressures to conform).
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Thoughts on Homosexual Marriage, Libertarian Government, and Christian Duty

Here is a response that my (C. Michael Patton) friend Mark Gaither, Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary and author of Redemptive Divorce, wrote to my post on Homosexual Marriage. It is very well thought out and provides a helpful perspective that, while we may disagree, is important.

With great respect to my friend and colleague, Michael Patton—and I mean that sincerely—I take issue with his article, “Changing our Thinking about Same-Sex Marriage.”

First, I find the starting premise flawed. The thesis states: “The government should NOT make homosexual marriage illegal.” The word “illegal” makes the premise factually incorrect. To make something illegal is to prohibit certain actions or behaviors. The various “Defense of Marriage” propositions do not make homosexual marriage illegal (assigning punishments to people claiming same-sex unions); these proposals seek to define marriage a certain way so as to determine how to apply privileges and protections to people based on marital status. That is a crucial distinction.

His article also proposed that “the government should stay out of the marriage business all-together.” The line of argument then proceeds from there, the core of which really turns on this question: Should Christians in America become libertarian? The issue of same-sex marriage turns out to be a good test case for this question, prompting us to reconsider the role of government in marriage and, as he suggests, all other theological matters. Consider the following line of reasoning based on what I consider a better starting premise.

In the United States, our laws reflect the collective theology of citizens on any given issue. The definition of marriage by the government does not presume to determine theology; it is the other way around in a participatory government such as ours. “The government” is us, “we the people.” The U.S. Constitution does not erect a wall of separation between church and state; Jefferson overstates its political-social impact. Our founding document establishes an officially secular government with these intended benefits: every philosophical persuasion is given a voice in government and religious institutions are protected from official government intrusion. Our democratic-republican form of legislature then permits—indeed expects!—government to reflect the collective values of its citizens, who may or may not hold religious values.

As it relates to the issue of marriage . . .

The “definition of marriage” in the legal sense merely identifies who shall be subject to our laws concerning marriage. Our government recognizes and honors the institution of marriage with certain privileges and burdens because “we the people” wanted it that way. The government deemed certain unions “valid” based on criteria stipulated by its citizens, who were informed and influenced by the Bible—at least in days gone by. Continue Reading →

Changing Our Thinking About Same-Sex Marriage


I don’t expect to contribute anything substantial to this issue. Haven’t we already seen this thing from every possible angle? I am not saying that people need to silence themselves, sit back, and let the chips fall where they may. I am saying it is hard to imagine that someone is going to bring some new powerhouse argument which changes the tide. I don’t expect this to be any different. But I do expect it to get me in trouble with both sides.

Let me be clear: I do not recognize gay marriage. Whether the government does or does not, does not affect me.

I will attempt to defend the thesis that the government should NOT make homosexual marriage illegal (not that this is precisely the issue). Actually, I am convinced that the government should stay out of the marriage business altogether.

(As I delve into this issue, please understand that what I propose is not necessarily a possibility. We are likely way past this point. Therefore, I am not suggesting any action steps at this juncture.)

Government is Not Involved in What Defines a Church

When we started “Reclaiming the Mind Ministries” (the parent ministry of Credo House Ministries), we had to go through a rigorous process of getting approved for our 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status (translation: where people can get a tax writeoff for money or items they donate to us). I think we had to wait a full year until our government-certified approval letter came. Our attorney who filed all the paperwork informed me (in jest) that if we just became a church, we would not have to worry about this. Why? Because churches are automatically approved for tax exemption. Why? Because what hath Jerusalem to do with Washington? In other words (and listen carefully), the government cannot define what a church is. So if you say you are a church, then you’re a church! (at least from the government’s standpoint). The government is not in the church-defining business, and am I glad about that!

This should be easy for any American to understand (should being the key word). This is especially the case when we talk about American Protestants. We don’t like people in our business. We take a lot of chances in the name of freedom. We know the risks, but they are worth it to us. As Protestants, we have a long tradition of independence from any sort of institutionalized governing authority. We don’t trust them. We tried that and it did not work. In fact, it suppressed a lot of stuff that was pretty important. Therefore, we don’t want any religious institution or governmental authority telling us what a church is.

Too early in my argument? Okay, then join me on an imaginary journey:

Imagine that for the past two hundred years of American history, the government has had a slight hand in defining a church. Let’s say that for all of US history, the government said that in order to be recognized as a church (and get the tax benefits) the church must 1) hold to the doctrine of the Trinity, 2) believe in the inspiration of Scripture, and 3) baptize people. Continue Reading →

If procreation is part of marriage, are infertile couples unmarried? And if human beings walk on two legs, are amputees not human beings?

Simple logical errors sometimes pass by undetected, and in a few cases a persistent fallacy becomes so frequent in the wider public conversation that we don’t even think to analyze and question it. One such mistake that I’ve noticed involves definitions of things and a kind of mistaking of the exception for the rule. Before you stop reading because this just seems like uninteresting academic nitpicking, let me assure you that this rational error is relevant in some of today’s most heated topics of debate. It makes a difference whether we recognize it or not.

To explain:  definitions of things are basic to all of our understanding and communication. In any debate on any subject, terms have to be defined. Additionally, things have natures, which is part of why we define them as we do. In other words, there are things that are generally true about, for example, a tree. It is part of the nature of a tree to have roots, to have branches, to grow upward, to have foliage, to use the sun and water for growth, etc. I wouldn’t say those things about a dolphin, since it has a very different nature. Some people may deny that things have natures, since they may not like the implication of design (teleology) that this idea implies. But such objectors are a minority and I will not deal with them at present.

Nothing I’m saying here is novel. We could go back through the centuries all the way to the Greeks and let Aristotle explain this, but I want to be brief and succinct so I’m trying to give you the Cliff’s Notes (Clint’s Notes, to be exact). Christian thinkers have certainly always understood this, and all the more since they recognize that the natures to which things conform are definitely by design. Think, then, about how definitions of things involve their natures, and ask yourself: Are there ever exceptions? And of course you will recognize that there are. Rarely does a definition of something in this world apply to every member of the class or category being described. When you think of birds, for example, you think of flight, since it is generally in the nature of birds to fly. BUT there are a few exceptions.  There are a few species of flightless birds. And even if there were no species of flightless birds, there will always be the individual cases of birds that cannot fly because of developmental deformities in their wings or having been wounded.

Human Nature

This brings us to one of the examples in the title of this post. One thing we usually talk about as having a nature is a human being (as in the term “human nature”). When discussing the definition of human beings, we do our best to consider what is part of the nature of humanity – physically, mentally, and otherwise. Our definition of what it means to be human is, like others, general. It is not meant to say that every single human being will always have all of the traits we ascribe to human beings. It is meant to say, rather, that, all things functioning properly and in accord with what is the nature of a human being, the definition will apply.
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Arrogant Beliefs (and the arrogant believers who arrogantly believe them)


Nobody likes arrogance. If you know someone who is described by most people as arrogant, it’s a safe bet you don’t have a high view of that person. A great athlete can turn a million fans against him in one arrogant instant. Back when Bush-hatred ran high, it was a common refrain that he was cocky & arrogant. Now Obama is getting a full taste of people’s disgust for the same perceived inflation of ego. Basically you don’t want to be accused of arrogance in any way, shape or form.

So if you are confronted with the charge that your beliefs are arrogant, this might stop you in your tracks, might it not?  But as you may (and ought to) know, there are those today who accuse Christians of this very thing. Christians are arrogant, they charge, on account of the beliefs they hold and propagate.  Which beliefs, you ask?  Well in my experience the typical things such accusers site are these (my own summary):

Christians claim to have knowledge of what God thinks about things, they believe human beings have some really special place as the crown of creation, ranking above all the other animals; also they think God cares about them – as if they’re so important – that he loves them, guides them, etc. They think they have some kind of dominion over things and a purpose or mission from God. And of course they think their views about God, man, sin, salvation, & the afterlife are correct, meaning that they believe rival religious views are wrong. To top all of this off, they have the audacity to go around trying to spread their views to everyone else.  To reiterate, they think they are the center of the universe, claim to know things that are way above them (like what God thinks), exhibit a prideful level of absolute certainty, and go around pushing their religion (as well as their morality) on people while being intolerant and judgmental of other views.

Any of this sound familiar? And when it’s put like this, it does seem pretty arrogant alright. Maybe Christians should feel appropriately shamed, and sheepishly keep their heads down so as to avoid future charges of this nature. Maybe just bowing out and lying low will get people to stop calling us meanies and cause them instead to start seeing us as nice and likeable people instead. OR, perhaps a little critical analysis of these charges is called for, since there’s always the possibility that the accusation isn’t entirely fair and requires a thoughtful response. Continue Reading →