The need for a Religious Freedom’s Protection Act

A second re-run article due to the Federal court’s idiocy.

Last time, I made the point that our religious liberties are in danger because of gay marriage. The wedding industry is already seeing a spat of Christians being fined for “discrimination” because they refuse to take part in gay themed events. As I noted, this is clearly not a matter of discrimination, I’ve not heard of a bakery refusing to sell gay patrons a birthday cake; rather it is the specific event – gay marriages – that conflicts with their religious beliefs, not specific patrons. So how do we respond to this matter given the climate of the times? Our first instinct, of course, is to pray for our country, our nation, and our leaders, but a second action in the political realm of affairs should be followed: we need a religious liberties protection act.

Of course, many will argue that this should be unnecessary – after all, that is the function of the first amendment, isn’t it? The problem, of course, is that too many in government have applied the first amendment as guaranteeing religious institutions, rather than citizens, with these protections. So your church has protections for their religious positions, but you or the other members of your church don’t. The arguments over the “separation of Church and State” further trouble these waters, as the left more aggressively interprets that separation in terms that allow them to ignore religious freedom, but this is a subject for another time. Many people will argue, as my Senator did in a letter to me on the subject of gay marriage, that this is a matter of the rights of the states, and therefore the Congress has no authority to act. This was also the rationale the US Supreme court used to overthrow the defense of marriage act, despite the issue of state’s rights not being wholly germane, and despite the fact that recent court decisions by Federal judges ignore the basis of the decision.

I am certainly friendly to the arguments for Constitutionally limited government, but the authority of congress extends beyond article 1 section 3; the fourteenth amendment for example gives congress the authority (and the implied responsibility) to pass legislation to prevent the various states from infringing on American civil liberties, the text is long and contains elements outside of the issue of individual rights related to the debates of the reconstruction era, but the key provisions are that no state may pass legislation that abridges the freedom of an American citizen, and the last line specifically states that Congress has the authority to enforce the amendment by legislation.

The specifics of what I am suggesting is an act that asserts that no American citizen will be compelled or coerced to commit an act that goes against their religious beliefs by threats of fines, economic deprivation, imprisonment or loss of property, privilege or life by any state, court or local municipality. Of course, this expands beyond the issue of gay marriage, numerous other issues exist that would be affected by this passage. Whether the issue is forcing catholic institutions to support insurance that includes birth control, stores being forced to buy policies that support abortions, mayors publicly refusing to allow certain companies to open stores in their cities or the issue of wedding planners, no public official should have this authority. So when it comes to the religious Liberties Protection Act, I’ve written my congressmen, have you written yours?

Gay Marriage – an attack on Religious Freedom

In honor of another state, Pennsylvania, being forced to allow Gay marriages, in spite of the Supreme court’s argument that individual states had the right to define marriage in their own states, I am rerunning our argument on the issue – to wit, that gay marriage is ultimately an attack on the first amendment.

If you are a Christian in an increasing number of states, you no longer have the right to your convictions, at least not if you own a business. Due to the inclusion of “Sexual Orientation” in the anti-discrimination laws of numerous states, several florists, bakers and others in the wedding industry have cases in the courts because they refused to provide services for gay weddings or gay civil commitment ceremonies. One of the more well known cases involves a baker in Washington State (, but there are cases in Colorado (, Vermont – in a case involving a Church group – (, and other places. The argument being raised by the left is that this is discrimination against homosexuals. Except, that’s really not what these cases are about – after all, I am unaware of a bakery that refuses to bake a birthday cake for a gay client, – these bakers are saying they will not be involved with a particular type of event (a gay marriage) not with a particular type of patron.

The real issue then comes down to our religious rights as American citizens. While there is no current evidence that prosecutors are seeking to put Christians in jail if they refuse to support gay themed events, the use of fines or threats to business licenses is still a use of force to compel Christians to abandon parts of the Bible that are unpopular with society, and is similar to the Jizya (a tax in Islamic nations on non-Muslims), this of course is unconstitutional.

The entire linkage of gay rights to the Civil Rights movement is a result of poor thinking: Homosexuality is defined by activity (sexual acts and relationships between persons of the same gender). That is why I believe that homosexuality can’t be compared to ethnic origins or gender. Despite claims that homosexuality is biologically derived, no blood test, tissue sample, or genetic testing has ever been devised that can determine who is gay and who is normal. To illustrate what this difference is, I would say the statement “Sam is a homosexual,” is closer to the statement that “Sam is a fisherman” than it is to saying “Sam is a black man.” If Sam is a black man, he truly was “born that way,” but if I note that Sam is a fisherman I am referring to an activity that he engages in. If homosexuality is an activity, then any statement of its moral orientation is by definition a statement of religious belief.

Morality is of course a religious question, to argue that a particular activity is morally permissible is as much a statement of religious belief as is the statement that it is morally impermissible. In effect, then, this application of the law becomes an establishment of religion, something that government is prohibited from doing under the first and fourteenth amendment (which protects our rights at the state level). Whether the threat of force is by means of fines, imprisonment or death is ultimately an immaterial question when it comes to our constitutional rights and liberties. As a Christian, I ultimately don’t care about what a gay couple’s tax rate is, whether they can collect each other’s social security benefits, and I’m not fond of any regulations suggesting who can visit whom in the hospital. Perhaps, if I may suggest it, then, any states ability to recognize a gay union only extends to the relationship of that couple to the state, not their relationship to other citizens. Otherwise, that state has overstepped its bounds.

The Tragedy of Compromise: Evolution as religion

Over the last two articles in our “Tragedy of Compromise” series, we’ve spent a lot of time discussing the definition of religion and the definition of science. My central contention is that during the enlightenment, philosophical naturalists began to confuse their religious views with science, and somewhere along the line, Christians began to adopt these atheistic definitions in discussions with atheists.

Naturalism contends natural law is sufficient to explain the universe. This concept is not something that has been proven either by science (by answering all of the questions possible about reality), nor has it been proven by logic. As I have noted before, this is based on an argument by David Hume’s “argument against miracles,” which is ultimately an argument to ignore evidence. Because naturalists believe science can find the answer to all of the questions about the nature of reality, they begin to confuse the philosophical evidence with the actual scientific discussion. I believe Evolution and Psychology, then, are two areas where the confusion between actual science and naturalism is most notable. Evidence revealing this confusion includes the scientific community’s discussion of Michael Behe ( our review was republished last week).

Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box is not actually an argument against evolution (though as a Christian I find much of the evidence useful in my discussion of evolution). Rather, it is an argument against atheistic evolution, and Behe is certainly open to theistic models of evolution. So, why the outcry? Behe has not misstated the facts, after all. He has merely applied the facts and suggested that natural law does not currently have an answer to the development of certain cellular structures without an intelligent designer.

Another evidence, also provided by Behe, is the reaction to the “Big Bang” theory by earlier atheistic scientists. One of the major doctrines of philosophical naturalism for centuries was that the universe has always existed – this was their answer to a particular argument for God (the Cosmological argument). The only explanation I have discovered as to why the Big Bang was so controversial in naturalistic circles (though many of them embrace the theory today), was because it questioned this basic doctrine and tenet. Einstein introduced a “correction factor” to his theory of relativity, not because of evidence, but to avoid the implications that a universe with a beginning is best explained as a created universe. He later acknowledged that this was an error (and this may have influenced his later conversion to Deism). Fred Hoyle, an astronomer, hypothesized the “steady state” theory, which indicated that hydrogen spontaneously came into existence throughout the universe – this theory has also been abandoned.

Finally, we can take note of the attitude naturalistic scientists have towards creationists. See the film Expelled for an introduction to the tactics of naturalists. After all, both Creationists and Evolutionists use a lot of conjecture in their arguments (Dawkins noted, “Creationists lack imagination” – because imagination is a key element of scientific rigor).

The idea, then, that naturalistic scientists are simply more objective than others is not as consistent as many would have us to believe. The title of this series is “the Tragedy of Compromise;” not the tragedy of evolution. We have published many articles laying the groundwork. Next time, we will apply this to our main point: attempts by believers to combine evolution with Christianity.

Revisiting Behe

Behe, Michael J. Darwin’s Black Box: The biochemical Challenge to Evolution. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996. Revised 2006.

Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box is one of the most well-known works in the Creation-evolution debate, and is largely responsible for the resurgence of the Intelligent Design movement. Behe’s book centers on scientific questions that I am not credentialed to discuss directly, but I will assume his understanding of molecular biology, in part because I have never seen a criticism on this part of his work.

Analysis: Behe in many ways is misunderstood by both the Christian and atheistic communities. Here are the ideas I consider most important for understanding Behe.
• Behe’s work is highly technical, this is in part intentional, he does not water down the debate because he wants you to realize the complexity of the operations he is discussing. On the downside, I read numerous pages (not paragraphs) several times to make sure I grasped the point he was making.
• Behe’s method identifies elements of molecular biology that he states cannot be explained by Darwin’s theory, because they consist of irreducibly complex mechanisms that must meet a standard of minimal function. The term irreducible is a key to the argument – Behe compares these biological structures to complex machines, and the pieces must have developed in an integrated manner that defies neo-darwinian theory. The most common example cited is that of a mouse trap: there are five pieces to a mousetrap, and if any piece is missing, you don’t have a less effective mousetrap, you have a non-functioning one. (this is as simplified as his argument can be made without breaking the argument).
• Behe appears to accept both evolutionary theory, and many of the principles accepted by modern geologists. In a sense, while Behe is usually understood as disproving evolution. However, most likely he is indicating that evolution is insufficient to understand the origins of life without the intervention of an intelligent designer. Thus, his work is useful for our purposes, but also for someone who accepts theistic evolution. In this sense, Behe is re-presenting the argument from design for the modern world.
Conclusions: This work is a must read for Christians. I don’t spend a great deal of time on the classical philosophical arguments for God (though they are on the long term list), but the argument for design is valuable. Behe’s book is useful in bringing this argument up to date for modern times. The key caveat is that his assumptions are different from those of us who oppose evolution; while he works with the definition of science, his work on this front is not complete. Therefore we should consider his work to be useful, but something like Ken Ham’s The Lie is a necessary supplement.

The Tragedy of Compromise: Science and its relationship to Religion

Last time, I began to discuss the definition of religion. In many cases, I could sum up this discussion by stating that religion, in a technical sense, is similar to the modern phrase “worldview.” Today, I want to discuss the term “science,” and how it differs from religion.

Science is the study of natural law based on observing a phenomenon, forming a hypothesis to explain that phenomenon, and then testing that hypothesis (often on the basis of something that this hypothesis has predicted) to prove or disprove the hypothesis. Science is a rigorous study, but it is also a limited one. Science, for example, cannot directly comment on grammar, history, mathematics, or for that matter, issues of religion. Science can provide information that contributes to these studies. For example, astronomy provides a great deal of information that is useful to historians in aligning ancient calendars with modern ones. Yet, one cannot make a scientific case to prove that Julius Caesar existed.

As a result, in a strict and technical sense, one needs to make a distinction between science and its applications (or as some put it, “applied science”). Forensics, for example, is not, strictly speaking, a science. A murder is a matter of history because it is an event. Forensics takes scientific data and applies it to aid the criminologist gain information, which helps the detective discern between various historical theories as to what actually happened. (For example, science has proven certain chemicals react to gunpowder that is left on someone’s hand and clothing after they shoot a firearm. An application of that fact helps detectives determine that someone has discharged a firearm). Medicine similarly is an application of science (e.g. “Chemical A affects Organism B, resulting in Reaction C” is the science. If Reaction C is desirable, then Chemical A may be applied therapeutically).

With this, then, I would suggest that I disagree with some of Ken Ham’s (a man I admire greatly for his works’ sake) recent terminology describing evolution. He currently delineates “operational science” from “historical science” (the latter being a term that he found in a secular earth sciences textbook). I agree with his central point on this matter: he is attempting to communicate precisely the same points I am, but I dislike this terminology because it fails to distinguish between science (or in Ham’s term’s “operational science”) and the application of science (“historical science”). In his first edition of “The Lie” he described the debate as the science of one religion versus the science of another. This I believe is closer, but I would amend it this way, “Creationism versus evolution is the application of science to origins on the basis of one set of religious assumptions against the application of science to origins on the basis of another set of religious assumptions” – less catchy, succinct and pithy, but technically it is more accurate.

As I noted in our last conclusion: “…evolution requires one to begin with the assumption that the earth came into existence by natural process, or to put it another way: evolution requires us to assume religious naturalism.” As I also noted: naturalism begins with Hume’s arguments against miracles. This, then, is a religious distinction between creationists and evolutionists.

The Tragedy of Compromise Pt 2: Torquing the Definition of Religion

Often, the world defines the controversy between Creationism and Evolution as science versus religion. I vehemently disagree. My objection, as I have noted, is that Evolution is clearly religion, not science. To begin to explain why, we need to define religion.

We all use words with varying degrees of specificity and technicality. For example, like a lot of Americans I use the term “torque” as a verb, to indicate that I have tightened a bolt as far as possible. My father, who is in the engineering field, does not typically use the term “torque” this loosely.

Similarly, we often use the term “religion” to refer to organized theistic organizations or as theistic systems of thought. This definition might work for a dinner party, but when we begin comparing systems of thought, it is wholly inadequate. The best definition of religion I can provide is the ultimate nature of reality and man’s proper response to that reality. The first clause (“religion is the ultimate nature of reality”) addresses the philosophical/theological questions of religion. The second clause (“religion is the proper response to reality”) addresses the questions of ethics and practice.

The actual problem is an error made during the “Enlightenment”: many enlightenment era thinkers thought they were replacing religion. What they were actually doing was creating a “new” religion: a religion that is often referred to in various times and sources “Scientism,” “religious naturalism,” and “philosophical naturalism”. In a less technical sense, this religious point of view has also been referred to as “Humanism,” “Atheism,” and most tragically, it has been confused with “Science.”

Religious naturalism is based on the acceptance of David Hume’s argument against miracles. I qualify this argument as an example of the logical error known as “begging the question” – but that is a subject for another day. Naturalists believe that reality is governed solely by natural law. This is something that they take on faith, though they themselves typically lack the intellectual integrity to admit that this is a matter of their faith. Instead, naturalists will play various rhetorical games that amount to dismissing, without examination, any approach to reality that disagrees with theirs. “Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools.”

This is more technical than I usually like to deal with on this particular site. But, technicalities are important to life; we can’t dismiss them because they are inconvenient. We are not finished with discussing a definition of religion, but I want to make sure you understand where we are going with this topic. When it comes to my thoughts about evolution, one thing is very clear: evolution begins with the assumption that the world came into existence through natural processes. Believers in evolution will often state that science (the empirical study of natural law) cannot accept supernatural causes. In a sense, they are correct, but that assumes that science is able to answer the question of origins. Yet, this begs the question of whether science and natural law can explain the origin of the Universe and life. Evolution requires one to begin with the assumption that the earth came into existence by natural process, or to put it another way: evolution requires us to assume religious naturalism.