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Humor, News

Tearing down tyranny, one joke a time...

November 9 marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which, for 28 years, divided socialist East Germany from the free West. To mark the anniversary some old East German jokes gained new life. What sort of jokes? Jokes that mocked the State for its incompetence and vindictive pettiness. Jokes that could get an East German arrested back then if the police found out he'd shared them. But if jokes could land you in jail, why did people risk telling them? Because every punchline was an act of resistance. A government that couldn't take a joke was a government that had overstepped its bounds and this became a small way of pushing back. So to mark the anniversary here are a few of the more popular jests from 30 years ago. Why do Stasi (East German secret police) officers make such good taxi drivers? – You get in the car and they already know your name and where you live. The five rules of socialism: Don’t think. If you think, don’t speak. If you think and speak, don’t write. If you think, speak and write, don’t sign it. If you think, speak, write and sign it, don’t be surprised. What would happen if the desert became a socialist country? Sand would become scarce. Three East German political prisoners were sharing the same cell and got to talking about what they were in for. The first explained, “My watch always ran ahead, and I would always arrive at work early, so they said I must be spying.” The second fellow shared, “My watch always ran slow, so I was always late for work, so they said I was guilty of sabotage.” Then the third fellow said, “I was always exactly on time for work so they said my watch much be from the West.” Asking, how could it happen here? We mark this anniversary as a tribute to those brave and wise souls who fought tyranny in the past. But we also mark it so we can learn from the past to hopefully avoid the same sort of mistakes going forward. When we see the trouble Big Brother brought the East Germans, we'll be motivated to pre-empt the same sort of government over-reach here... before it gets to the point where we're arrested for telling jokes. With that in mind, here are a few jokes worth telling while we still can. Three Americans businessmen were sharing the same cell and got to talking about what they were in for. The first explained, “I charged more for my goods than anyone else. So they convicted me of price gouging.” The second fellow shared, “I charged less than anyone else for my product, so they convicted me of anti-competitive dumping.” Then the third fellow said, “I charged the same for my product as everyone else, so they convicted me of price-fixing.” Here's a switch worth making: let's treat convicted murderers like we've treated the unborn and let them be executed, and treat the unborn like we've treated convicted murderers and give them life. A cheap Albertan fellow heard that women drivers get better insurance rates so he phoned up his insurance company and asked, "If I identify as a safer driver, can I get this cheaper rate too?" "I'm sorry sir," the insurance rep replied, "You can't simply identify as a safer driver and expect us to take that seriously." "Okay," he said, "but what if I identify as a woman - can I get the better rate then?" To which the insurance rep replied, "Of course ma'am. What do you think we are – a bunch of transphobic bigots?" What should a Christian think of mocking humor? Some Christians argue that humor, and particularly biting humor, has no place in Christian dialogue. Passages will be cited such as 1 Peter 3:15 and Proverbs 15:1: "...give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." But this "absolutely no mocking" understanding overlooks that God Himself mocks foolishness, with one of the funnier examples occurring in Isaiah 44:14b-17: "He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, 'Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!' And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, 'Deliver me, for you are my god!'” During His time on Earth, Christ had a biting way with words as evidenced repeatedly in Matt. 23 in thrusts like these: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean" (vs. 27). "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (vs. 24). Ah, you might say, it's one thing for God to do something and quite another for us to do the same. There is truth to that, but let's also remember that we are called to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1, 1 Cor. 11:1, 1 Peter 2:21). And let's remember, too, how others in the Bible have used humor or in other ways shown approval for mockery. For example, Luke evidenced a dry wit in Acts 17:21, poking fun at the Athenians: "Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new." Solomon wasn't pulling any punches when he compared beautiful women without discretion as being "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout" (Prov. 11:22).  David in Ps. 52:6-7 spoke of how the "righteous will...laugh at" the foolish fellow who "trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others." More texts could be cited, but this last one is a must – in 2 Cor 10:5 we are told to "tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God." It takes wisdom to know when to tear down arguments and when to answer more gently, but one general (and certainly not absolute) rule is that the broader the audience, the more pointed we can be. And vice versa. So if one of our coworkers is bald, bearded, and loves wearing his summer dress even into the depths of fall, we won't want to start a conversation by making fun of his fashion sense. But when politicians and judges and celebrities start insisting that men should be allowed to compete as women, that is an idea that must be mocked – to treat it as anything less than insane is to give it too much credit (Prov 26:4). So as we mark the Berlin Wall's demise some 30 years ago, we can remember that humor has been used as a weapon for a lot longer than that, by both God and man. To learn more about the godly use of pointed humor, a great small book on the subject is Douglas Wilson's "A Serrated Edge."...

News

Male rapper “breaks” women’s weightlifting record

For a world increasingly confused about gender, February was an illuminating month with not one, but two well-publicized examples of how it is God, and not our feelings, that makes us male and female (Gen. 1:27). In the first instance two boys identifying as girls placed first and second in the girls’ 55-meter dash at Connecticut’s state indoor championship. One competitor dared protest, telling the Associated Press: “We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralizing.” While the two boys are the best “girls” in their state, they aren’t even in the top five nationally. So the ridiculousness of having boys – albeit not especially speedy boys – running against girls was lost on some. But two weeks later British rapper Zuby offered up his own helpful bit of clarity when he decided to break the British women’s weightlifting records. First up was the deadlift record. Though only a self-described “recreational lifter” Zuby bested the British women’s record by a “wide margin.” Then he tackled the squat record, and finally bested the women’s bench press record too. Afterward, he posted short videos of his efforts to Twitter, assuring viewers it was all okay because he was “identifying as a woman at the time.” When someone pointed out his women’s records weren’t official because Zuby hadn’t demonstrated his level of male testosterone was “below 10 nanomoles per litre” (as apparently international competition standards require men to do when they want to compete as women) Zuby had the perfect PC response: “Stop questioning my lived experience.” Or, in other words, what was this detractor doing, bringing in objective measurable standards when the world has already concluded feelings trump reality. If being a woman is simply a state of mind, if a person’s genitalia and genetics don’t matter, then why should “nanomoles”? Or as Zuby put it, “Stop being a bigot.” The best supportive tweet? A Steve Green shared he was setting some records of his own: “I broke the Olympic men’s record because my 2 kg dumbbell identifies as a 400 kg weight.”...

Pro-life - Abortion, Satire

Why men are superior to women – a pro-life analogy

What follows is the text of a brochure that was delivered to more than 20,000 houses in Edmonton, Alberta during an election campaign about 15 years ago. It got a lot of people talking... and quite a number of them screaming. We'd assumed no one could possibly take the title seriously, but we were wrong, and many people did. But, strangely, when we explained that, rather than being an attack on women, this was actually a defense of the unborn, the screaming only got louder. **** This brochure is not about why all men are superior to all women – such a broad generalization is unscientific (as there are always the rare exceptions) and could even be viewed as sexist. No, in this brochure we are going to deal specifically with why Bob is superior to Susan. And in the process we will touch on why most men are superior to most women. Now, there are four differences that make Bob superior to Susan. First, Bob lives in Edmonton and Susan lives in Calgary. This makes Susan inferior for reasons that are so obvious they really don’t need explanation. Second, Bob, as a mature adult, is more developed than the prepubescent Susan. Since she is less developed she is clearly less human. Third, Bob is a healthy individual but Susan relies on a variety of medical devices to stay alive. She would die without her regular treatments and therefore does not rate as fully human. Finally, Bob is much bigger than the diminutive Susan. Since there is less of Susan obviously she is less human – subhuman even. And, of course, size is why most men are superior to most women since men are (aside from the rare exceptions) bigger than women. Four differences in all, and in each instance they make a compelling scientific case for Bob’s superiority… and also for male superiority in general. Right? You don’t agree? Good, because neither do we. And yet people point to these same four differences to argue that the unborn are somehow inferior and less human than those of us are already born. Location – the unborn do live in a different location than us. But so do Calgarians. Does the fact they live in a different location make them inferior, less human, and less worthy of protection? Of course not. Level of Development – the unborn are less developed than us but that again is no reason to think they are any less human. If it is, then the less developed Susan is also less of a person than the mature Bob. Viability – the argument is often made that the unborn aren’t human because they are dependent on their mothers – they aren’t viable on their own. But newborns are pretty dependent on their mothers as well. And Susan is also not viable on her own. Are we now allowed to kill anyone dependent on pacemakers, dialysis machines, insulin shots or the like? Obviously, viability doesn’t make someone more or less human. Size – the unborn are much smaller than us. Does that make them less human? If it does then the smaller Susan must also be less human than the bigger Bob. In Canada we’ve justified the killing of over 100,000 unborn children each year by pretending that their location, level of development, dependency, and size somehow make them less than human. But we know better than that. You know better than that. We’re standing up for the unborn. Won’t you? ----- A brilliant filmmaker used this article and brochure as the leap-off point for a short video. Check out Breanne Jansen's piece below.  ...

Satire

Based on a true story

"Um, excuse me?" I am kneeling next to a newly planted row of tomato starts and pulling weeds when I hear a woman's voice from over my bent shoulders. Several small businesses share the busy alley next to our back yard garden, and I assume the voice is speaking to someone else. I do not look up. With the back of my gardening glove I brush some loose hairs away from my eyes, and I continue weeding, tossing a few more invasive cheeseweed seedlings onto my growing pile. But then I hear the voice again, louder this time, "Hello? Miss? Excuse me." Because of the steady stream of foot, bicycle, and car traffic that passes by the garden each day it's not uncommon for passers-by to stop and say a kind word or two about the new raised beds or about how nicely our plants are coming along. "Oh, hi," I say, rising stiffly from my knees and turning to face the voice, "Sorry. I thought you were talking to someone else just now." I smile and wait for her to speak. She has stopped her vintage bicycle next to our bent chicken wire fence and rests her hands on her narrow hips. Her eyes are a blue so pale that I seem to be looking not at the eyes themselves but at two vacant holes in her head through which I can see the cloudless sky behind her. I reach over and grip the splintery handle of my shovel and lean my weight into it so that I can stretch my legs. I look at her expectantly. She does not smile back. After running her eyes over the whole garden plot, she finally says, “Well,” with a voice as crisp and sour and cool as the stalks of rhubarb growing behind me, "I just was riding by here and couldn't help noticing what you're doing, and I have to say that I am genuinely shocked. What, is with this heap of dead plants?" "Oh those?" I chuckle a little. "I'm not keeping those, actually. I'm just going to toss them in the compost when I'm done." "I figured you weren't planning on keeping those. And I’m appalled. That's why I stopped – it looks like you're killing them." "Yesss? Um, I guess I am," I respond with a nervous laugh-cough. "Take that!" I say, leaning sideways and yanking a young dandelion out of the carrot bed. I intend it to be a lighthearted joke, but it flops somewhere in the dust near the bicycle tires and dissolves into the gravel. The cyclist widens the pale blue holes in her head and tightens her lips. Clearly I am not making a new friend. After a long and uncomfortable pause, the words, "What in the world?" shoot toward me, and I resist the urge to duck. "How can you even call yourself a gardener? How can you treat plants this way?" I blink. I blink again, speechless, and tighten my grip on the shovel. "Well? Do you call yourself a gardener?" she demands. This is a relief, a question I can answer. "Oh, well, yes. An amateur, but yeah, I guess I'm a gardener." "Ha!" she says. I can taste something bitter on the back of my tongue as she opens her mouth to continue. "Correct me if I'm wrong here, gardener, but last time I checked, gardeners are people who love plants. Gardeners are people who nurture plants. So explain this!" She flings her hand toward my little pile of wilting dandelions and pigweed seedlings and then turns with raised eyebrows to scan the alleyway – as if she is trying to find somebody willing to join her in her triumphant outrage. "Well, this is actually an important part of caring for the vegetables I planted here." My voice has a bit of a nervous shake in it. I can't believe I'm having to defend my weed pile. "This is what nurturing a garden looks like." "Oh right. Then why are you brutalizing perfectly innocent seedlings? Seriously. Why do you hate plants so much?" "They're weeds, not good plants." I resist the urge to roll my eyes. "Says you. The difference between a so-called 'weed,'” she says, making scare quotes in the air with her fingers, “and a 'good' plant is just your opinion. You have no right to determine which plants should live and which should die. What do you have against them, anyway? What right can you possibly have to inflict your opinion on every other plant?" I stare at her for a moment, trying to weigh whether this is some kind of satire, some kind of practical joke. But her cold eyes are glaring so widely that I can see the whites completely encircling the blue. ”Well," I begin, "I have gardener's handbook that I can check whenever I'm not quite sure which kind of plant I'm looking at. But after a few years of seeing these things grow up, you get pretty good at identifying..." "What! You have this book, so now you're some kind of expert? Seriously? These things look just like all the other plants around here. They're really not that different. See that one? It’s not even touching the ones next to it. Not hurting a thing! And anyway, they're tiny. Look at them! Totally. Harmless. And if you just gave them a chance, you might actually learn to see the unique beauty in them!” "Actually, I..." "I am dead serious," she continues, "I cannot understand how any gardener could do...this." She broadly sweeps her arm toward the weed pile again. "If you really loved plants – if you were a real gardener – you would treat them with care and help them grow and appreciate them for what they are." She crosses her arms, satisfied in the irrefutability of her argument. Suppressing the chuckle that is trying to escape, I cough into my shoulder and glance around the alleyway, looking for a hidden camera. Maybe this is some kind of skit for reality television. But no, I see nothing. “That’s the thing,” I say. “You're missing the point. I love the plants that are supposed to be in the garden. I love these snap peas. I love the carrots. And if I love these plants, then I have to root out the invaders.” I point to a dandelion. "Look. This is total discrimination. Either you love plants or you don't. You are obviously a plant hater. You're hurting plants. There's the proof!" "But if I don't get rid of the bindweed, then it will get rid of my snap peas. I am not raising a garden in order to eat bindweed for dinner. You’re welcome to try some, however, if it would soothe your conscience.” Sarcasm is getting the better of me, and I can feel my suppressed smirk has surfaced. I can’t straighten it out quickly enough, so I look down at my dusty shoes and pretend to scratch an itch on the bridge of my nose. “I’m sorry,” she says, not sounding sorry in the least, “but I don't know why people like you take these things so simplistically. Not everything is so black and white. The concept of a 'weed' is just a social construct, and nobody needs to take sides here. There should be harmony among all plants—no! exceptions!” She pounds her handlebar to punctuate those last two words and then sighs. “Bindweed and snap peas can peacefully coexist." I look up at her pained expression and exhale slowly so as not to outright guffaw in her face. “Uhh, not really. Not without doing serious damage to the snap peas. Not without choking out the plants that are the whole point of this garden." "You have got to be kidding. You are a total weedaphobe! I knew it! You're afraid of bindweed! This is so unbelievable. You're acting out of irrational fear. I mean, look at these things. Look at how tiny and harmless those little bindweeds are." She leans her bicycle toward my tomato bed and points them out to me for my edification. “They have these beautiful white flowers. Beautiful! What are you afraid of?" "I'm not afraid of them. I just know what they will do if I let them grow unchecked. If I call myself a gardener at all, I will call a weed a weed and then I'll cast it into the outer darkness, so to speak.” "Ahhh, so then what about the ones over there?" She points to the opposite side of the alley where a small forest of thistles and dandelions have sprung up next to the neighbors’ dumpster. "You think you're going to get rid of all the so-called 'weeds' in the world? Think again. They are stronger and more resilient than you think." The laugh finally escapes, despite my best efforts. "Believe me. I am fully aware of how resilient they are. That's why I'm out here doing this again for the umpteenth time this summer. But I am certainly not trying to single-handedly take down every weed in the world. I'm not even trying to get rid of the ones next door. It's my garden I'm concerned about. I am focusing on the weeds right here because they are the ones I’m responsible for. I am focusing on the ones that are trying to take over my good plants." "Are you kidding me? 'Good plants'? These plants that you're killing had just as much right to be here as those peas do. In fact, I bet a lot of them were here first. But obviously you're too closed-minded to appreciate what they have to offer. Do you realize how useful and beautiful some of these plants can be? Look at this dandelion you've ruined. If you had just let it grow, it could produce lovely yellow flowers and friendly little fairy puffs! But ooooh. It's scaaary, isn't it? Can't let it grow freely, can you?" She snorts. "I guess you're afraid of flowers, too. Flowerphobe." I roll my eyes toward the sky. A redtail hawk is riding an updraft directly overhead, scoping out his lunch options. Then I turn my gaze back to the lady’s face and look hard through her sky-colored eyes. "This has nothing to do with fear. It has everything to do with wanting to take care of my peas. It has everything to do with loving my garden." "So pulling plants up by the roots. You call that love?" "Yes. I do." My nose is starting to itch for real now, so I rub at it with the back of my wrist. "Well. If that's what you call love, then I would not even want to imagine how you'd treat the things you hate. Look at how damaged those poor little plants are." I look. And I smile a broad, genuine smile. "Yes. Totally damaged. Isn't it great? And once they're all dead and rotted and decomposed in my compost heap? Then they will be given the opportunity to return to my garden. At that point they will be welcome. But not before." "Garden hater." She climbs back onto her bike. "Plantphobe." "Come back in a month or two, and I'll let you have a bite." She snorts again. "Oh really. Of what?" "Bindweed, if you like." She narrows her pale eyes and opens her mouth as if to respond, then closes it again and pushes off without a word. I listen to the crunch of gravel under her tires as I lean my shovel back against a T-post and return to my knees to take care of my tomato starts. The soil is warm between my fingers. Come July, there will be fruit. Hannah K. Grieser is the author "The Clouds Ye So Much Dread: Hard Times and the Kindness of God." She lives in Idaho where she designs graphics, photographs landscapes, dabbles in the garden, and (with her husband, Jayson) is raising five pig-farming, music-loving, baseball-playing sons—including one cancer survivor. She has also written for Relief Journal, Books & Culture, and Desiring God....

News

What’s in a name? Payless prank had people paying $600 for their shoes

Payless sells their shoes for as low as $20. So why were people paying $200, $400, and even $600 for their shoes a month before Christmas? It came down to a clever bit of rebranding. The discount shoe store hasn’t been doing well as of late, shutting down hundreds of stores last year, so in the lead-up to Christmas they were looking to make a splash. Their advertising agency proposed a publicity stunt: rent out an upscale retail location, stock it with regular Payless shoes, but relabel them as Palessi, charge 10 times more, and see if anyone buys. To really sell the stunt they decked the store out in avant-garde statues, and had champagne for the opening. It worked: as the Washington Post’s Kristine Phillips reported, at the grand opening customers gushed about the shoes. “‘I would pay $400, $500. People are going to be like, ‘Where did you get those? Those are amazing,’ a woman said as she tried on a pair of bright-gold sneakers with leopard prints.” “‘Palessi is just such high quality, high fashion, taking your shoe game up to the next level,’ said one man wearing spiked necklaces, holding a knee-high boot. ‘It looks really well made.’” “‘It’s just stunning. Elegant, sophisticated and versatile,’ said a woman, as she held a pair of floral stiletto heels.” Anyone who bought the shoes was taken to the back and let in on the stunt. And by way of an apology for the trick played on them, they were given their money back and given their shoes for free. It’s hilarious that anyone was willing to pay 1000% the going retail price – is this what it looks like to have more money than sense? But before we laugh too hard, let’s acknowledge that the trick – a new label disguising the same old, same old – is one that even a thrifty dutchman could fall for. What’s worse, it’s one we regularly pull on ourselves. After all, how often don’t we relabel our sins as mistakes? And we actually buy it! ...

Economics, Human Rights, Satire

On equality...

I was recently confronted with the disturbing statistic that evidences the ultimate case of gender inequality: the life expectancy of males is 6.1 years lower than that of females. This phenomenon must be properly discussed. What is a more valuable commodity than life? Nothing, I would say. And yet females habitually possess over 8 percent more of it than men. It is clear that when it comes to life, there is no level playing field in our society between males and females. I, therefore, call upon the government to take measures to empower men to overcome this glaring inequality. What we need is legislation, programs, and lots of funding. First of all the government should enact human rights legislation which will unequivocally state that males have the right to the same life expectancy as females. This legislation will empower the government to make proactive adjustments in Health, Social, and Education programs. I would like to share with you the following suggestions for such adjustments. An immediate transfer of medical research dollars from female diseases to male diseases. The inclusion of a mandatory life expectancy rights component to be taught in all our schools starting at the kindergarten level. The appointment of kommissars (also call commissioners) for each federal and provincial ministry who are to scrutinize all proposed legislation for life expectancy bias. Mandatory sensitivity training for all our judges to ensure that crimes against women are not more discouraged than crimes against men. Mandatory affirmative low-stress jobs action for all businesses employing more than 10 people to ensure that men will be employed in at least 50 percent of such jobs. The creation of Men's Issues Department at both the federal and provincial levels. Thus far my suggestions. If we do not want to lose the image of Canada as a caring and nurturing society we had better implement these suggestions regardless of costs. Of course, some naive people may suggest that it would help if men changed their lifestyle by smoking, drinking, fighting, and fornicating less, and by being more spiritual and less macho. However, though in the past this might have been a solution, we now know that we can only lead fulfilling lives if we are true to ourselves. Since institutions of education and our public media zealously indoctrinate the populace with this new gospel, it would be futile to appeal to "the man kind" itself to heal the wound of life expectancy; the government is our only hope. This post first appeared way back in the May 1999 issue, but doesn't it seems like it was written for today? As Christians we believe God calls us not to be partial to rich or poor, black or white, young or old – He calls us to equality. But what kind of equality does God call us to? Is it an equality – as is called for in this article – of outcomes? Or is the equality meant to be in how we treat people? The world says the former, but God is calling us to the latter (Leviticus 19:15, James 2:1-9, Acts 10:34)....

Satire

27-year-old man becomes first Transage winner in World Under-10s Cross Country Championship

Warning: this piece may contain traces of satire. **** A 27-year-old man from Great Britain, who identifies as an 8-year-old boy, has become the first Transage winner of a gold medal at the World Cross Country Championship. Brian Potts, a fitness instructor from Hull, won the under-10s 6-kilometer race in a time of 17 minutes and 21 seconds, over four minutes ahead of his nearest rival. Potts, representing Great Britain for the first time, celebrated his victory on Twitter, writing: “First Transage world champion … ever.” Allowing adults who self-identify as children to compete in junior sports events has been a controversial subject, as critics have argued that it puts their opponents at an inherent disadvantage. However, Potts was quoted in the Hull Gazette earlier this year, arguing that banning Transagers from competing with children would be discriminatory: “As a society, we cannot have adults identifying as transage, and it not be recognised in sports. Focusing on performance advantage is largely irrelevant because this is actually a rights issue. We shouldn’t be worried about transagers taking over the Olympics. What we should be concentrating on is things like fairness and human rights instead.” To those who have questioned his win, and whether it was fair to allow a 27-year-old to compete with boys nearly 20 years younger than him, Potts went onto Twitter to vent his frustration with what he sees as an attitude born of prejudice, and which belongs firmly in the past: “I can’t believe we’re still having this discussion in the 21st century. This is much bigger than sports. It’s about human rights. And catering to the Transage-o-phobes only furthers the oppression of those who only seek to be the age they feel. People, I won. Get over it.” Not everyone sees it that way, though. After the race, the silver medal winner, 9-year-old Daniel Song from Canada, and bronze medal winner, 8-year-old Manuel López from Spain, lodged a complaint with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), alleging that Potts had an unfair advantage and should not have been allowed to compete in the under-10s. However, this approach may well have backfired, with latest reports suggesting that they could find themselves stripped of their medals, and sent to a Transageist re-education camp before being allowed to compete again. Rob Slane is the author of "A Christian and an Unbeliever Discuss...Life, the Universe and Everything." In this article he is responding to the recent gold-medal winning performance by Rachel McKinnon, a man who says he is a woman, who, on Oct 14, won the women's 35-44 age bracket at the 2018 Masters Track Cycling World Championship. The transgender winner argued that because he’s lost to the women he was competing against more times than he’s beat them, and because many women have a higher FTP (Functional Threshold Power, or the maximum average power a rider can produce over the course of an hour) than him, that makes it fair. While that might make it competitive it would do so in much the same way that if a 40-something-year-old on foot raced his 8-year-old daughter on her bike, it might be close. God made us male and female, and that brings with any number of differences. Those difference might mean that an average man might be competitive with women in some events, but that doesn't make it any less a matter of apples competing against oranges. So what's the root issue here? The world says we can be whatever we think we are. But Christians know that only God's thinking can dictate reality. And actually, as the video below shows, on some level even the world recognizes that thinking something doesn't make it so. ...

Theology

Did Abraham really exist?

Evangelicals are debating the historicity of Adam, but they are too timid. It is time to reject fundamentalist distortions of the Abrahamic narrative just as decisively as we have abandoned literalistic readings of Genesis 1–3. Clinging to discredited biblical accounts of Abraham as if these events actually happened makes us look like Neanderthals, undermines the plausibility of our witness, and ultimately overturns the Gospel. To defend the Gospel and uphold the authority of the Bible, we need to reckon with the myth of Abraham. So starts a brilliant piece of satire by Dr. Peter Leithart, a minister of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches. Here are some further excerpts: The historical evidence is overwhelming and need not be rehearsed here. It is sufficient to point the curious reader to Hans Georg Unglauber’s definitive study, popularly known as Die Suche nach dem historischen Abraham but originally published as Abraham: Historie oder Pferd-Geschichte? Unglauber shows that there is not a shred of independent evidence for the existence of Abraham, much less for any of the events recorded in Genesis. But our faith does not stand or fall on the uncertain deliverances of historical scholarship. Scripture is our rule. The biblical writers deployed the full arsenal of ancient literary conventions, and their texts are full of sly authorial signals that they are not supposed to be taken literally... The story of Abraham’s exodus (Gen. 12:10–20) is obviously modeled on Israel’s Egyptian sojourn and exodus (which most likely never happened either). By shaping this narrative to mimic later myths, the author indicates that the episode is not to be taken seriously as history. Genesis 12, like the exodus narrative, teaches that God delivers. It does not matter whether or not God has ever actually delivered anyone. The moral stands: God is our deliverer... After we dispose of Adam and Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and Jeremiah are next. And why stop there? Like Genesis, the Gospels are ancient literature. The Evangelists were no more concerned about facts than the authors of the Pentateuch, and for those enlightened enough to see, the Gospels are replete with hints that they are mythic symbolizations of profound, enduring truth. Only when it is stripped of the mythology of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus will the Bible be firmly established as our inerrant rule of faith. We must die to our modern demand to know “what happened” and recognize that Scripture is infallible only when it is thoroughly de-historicized. Then we will arrive finally at the fullness of Christian faith, the Church of Christ Without Jesus. The full article, "The Abraham Myth", was published at First Things. Addressing Faulty Hermeneutics Dr. Leithart's parody is aimed at Biblical scholars, such as Dr. Peter Enns, who question much of the historicity of Gen.1-11. For example, Enns has argued: Paul, as a first-century Jew, bore witness to God’s act in Christ in the only way that he could have been expected to do so, through ancient idioms and categories known to him and his religious tradition for century upon century.  One can believe that Paul is correct theologically and historically about the problem of sin and death and the solution that God provides in Christ without also needing to believe that his assumptions about human origins are accurate.  The need for a savior does not require a historical Adam.... ....A proper view of inspiration will embrace the fact that God speaks by means of the cultural idiom of the authors – whether it be the author of Genesis in describing origins or how Paul would later come to understand Genesis.  Both reflect the setting and limitations of the cultural moment.  – The Evolution of Adam, p.143 Enns has in fact responded to Leithart, defending his approach. Interestingly, Enns doesn't rule out Leithart's argument that Enns' demythologization of Adam might equally well apply to Abraham: Even though the literary styles of Genesis 12 and chapters 1-11 are consistent with each other, thus suggesting one narrative, their content is quite different, which is why biblical scholars don’t call the Abraham story “myth” but something else – like legend or political propaganda. In other words, what holds for the Adam story may or may not hold for the Abraham story. Leithart, in his reply to Enns, stresses his main point: that the same sort of arguments that Enns and others use to dismiss the historicity of Adam can equally well be applied elsewhere in Scripture. Also, he notes that Enns often accepts as fact that which is merely archaeological conjecture or scholarly fad. Moreover, Enns is mistaken to think that we can give up Paul's belief in a historical Adam while retaining Paul’s doctrine of Adam. The Bible is not a collection of stories illustrating doctrine and morals. It’s a record of God’s actions in history for the redemption of the world. We cannot peel off the historical husk of the Bible and retain its nourishing didactic kernel. Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead? And why stop at Abraham? Richard Klaus has remarked on the close similarity between the argumentation used by Enns to argue against an historical Adam, and that of others to argue against the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ. Both maintain, for example, that the mythological worldview of ancient Israel has been invalidated by modern science, that we should not read the Bible in a naive literalist sense, that the Bible writers were just children of their time, that the Bible's theological truths don't demand historical veracity, etc. Consider, for example, an interview with retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong. Spong insists that Christianity doesn't need a supernatural miracle to be established: I don’t think the Resurrection has anything to do with physical resuscitation, I think it means the life of Jesus was raised back into the life of God, not into the life of this world, and that it was out of this that his presence — not his body — was manifested to certain witnesses. He thinks the Resurrection must be placed in its proper context to be correctly interpreted and understood: I tried to help people get out of that literalism... When people hear it, they grab on to it. They could not believe the superstitious stuff and they were brainwashed to believe that if they could not believe it literally they could not be a Christian. A Christian is one who accepts the reality of God without the requirement of a literal belief in miracles...What the Resurrection says is that Jesus breaks every human limit, including the limit of death, and by walking in his path you can catch a glimpse of that. And I think that’s a pretty good message. It's no message at all, according to Paul: "If Christ has not been raised then your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins" (1 Cor.15:17). Here, with Spong's denial of the Gospel, we reach the logical conclusion of Enns' demythologizing trajectory. Happily, Dr. Enns still affirms the physical resurrection of Christ. But on what basis? Not on the grounds of a simple, "because the Bible tells me so." This article is reprinted with permission from a 2016 post on Dr. John Byl's blog Bylogos. The picture is by Guido Reni with his “St. Joseph” standing in for Abraham....

Science - Creation/Evolution

ON THE ORIGIN OF ARTICLES: You thought this article was designed? How unscientific of you!

You might think that someone wrote this article. But of course, you would be mistaken. Articles are not written by people. They are the result of chance. Every intelligent person knows it. There might be some people who want you to think that articles are written by people. But this view is totally unscientific. After all, we cannot see the person who allegedly wrote the article. We cannot detect him or her in any way. The claim that this article has an author cannot be empirically verified, and therefore it must be rejected. All we have is the article itself, and we must find a scientific explanation for its origin. IT JUST SEEMS DESIGNED Since no intelligent source can be empirically detected within this article, empirical science must look to the chance processes of nature for its formation. In other words, we must not allow ourselves to think that this article came about from a mind; for this would be unscientific. Since it is not the result of a mind, it follows logically that this article is the result of chance. The article has not been designed – it is not the result of some unseen conscious forethought. Naysayers might suggest that this article bears evidence of design. They might point out that it has a logical flow, that its sentences are coherent, and that it contains creative information. True enough. But this is only evidence of apparent design at best. We must certainly grant that many articles appear designed, as if they had been planned by a mind and written with creative forethought. But to assume that the design came from some unseen, undetectable author would be unscientific. ALL THIS GENIUS IS JUST GLITCHES What then is the true origin of articles? We know that articles can be copied. Articles on paper can be duplicated using a Xerox machine, and electronic articles can be copied from one computer to another. We also know that errors can occur in this duplication process. A simple glitch in the computer can result in a letter being changed, or a sentence or paragraph being duplicated or removed. Most of these random changes would make the article less readable than the original. But such variations would not be copied. (Who would bother to Xerox a bad article?) And so eventually they would be lost. We must assume that occasionally, very rarely, a mistake in the copy would actually improve the quality of the article – making it more readable and more interesting. In such cases, the improved article would be much more likely to be copied than the original. In this fashion, articles gradually improve, often growing in length, complexity, and interest. It stands to reason, therefore, that all articles started out as a simple word, or perhaps even a single letter, which was gradually changed as it was duplicated due to errors in the duplication process and selection of the more readable variations. COMMON ORIGINAL ARTICLE It is also sensible to conclude that all articles have diverged from a common original article which itself consisted of nothing more than a single word. This is obvious by virtue of the fact that all articles have certain things in common. For example, all articles use words. And in all cases these words are organized into sentences. Many of the words used in many articles are exactly the same! For example, the word “the” appears very commonly in almost all articles. Are we to believe that this is just a coincidence? Clearly not. It is evidence that these articles share a common source. They have each diverged from a common article in the distant past. Naysayers argue that articles are written by people. But would people use the very same words in different articles? The common words, common grammar, and common sentence structure clearly point to a common origin for articles. It is reasonable to conclude that articles which share more common words and sentences are more closely related than those that have fewer common words and sentences. Clearly this extends to larger works of literature – books for example. Books are the most advanced form of literary diversification, and so they must also be the most recent. WE HAVEN'T SEEN IT HAPPEN BUT... Critics of our position (“authorists”) might object that we have never seen one article transform into a completely different article. In other words, all observed changes have been only minor transformations. But is this really surprising? After all, it would take a very long time for an article to have accumulated enough changes to be classified as a completely different article. And people simply don’t live long enough for this to happen within our lifetime. But the fact that all articles share common words is positive evidence that it has happened, even though the process is too slow to see it in its entirety today. We do see minor transformations today. And it is reasonable to conclude that these minor changes will add up to major changes over long periods of time. Some readers might be bothered by the fact that we do not have a complete record of how the simpler articles diversified into the wide variety of complex articles in our present world. But this does not in any way disqualify our basic thesis that articles do share a common original source. After all, considering the trillions of variations that must have existed and been destroyed in the vast time necessary for this process, we would expect that the record of links in the chain would be fragmentary at best. And we do know of some links. For example, there are several minor variations of the book The Hobbit. These are known to exist, and it is obvious they stem from a common original. So it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that all works of literature share a common source. THIS WOULD TAKE A LONG TIME Given the slowness of the diversification of articles, it is reasonable to conclude that articles are far older than “authorists” assume. The process of an article becoming longer and more interesting likely takes millions of years – perhaps even hundreds of millions of years. It may even happen in spurts, rapid diversification followed by long periods of relative stasis. This may account for the fact that we find so few intermediate forms in ancient libraries. NO IRREDUCIBLE SENTENCES One objection to our position is the idea that some sentences in some articles contain a degree of “irreducible complexity.” This is to say that even a minor change of any kind would make the sentence unclear or unreadable. However, this notion fails to consider that multiple simultaneous changes – though rare – can occur in the process of time. The fact that we cannot conceptualize an intermediate sentence does not actually prove that no such intermediate is possible. The process by which articles diversify from a common source is still being studied, and so we do not have the answers to every detail yet. But this does not mean that such answers will not be forthcoming in the process of time. The formation and diversification of articles from a common source is a scientific fact and well supported by the evidence even though some of the details are not yet understood. BELIEVING IN AN AUTHOR IS BLIND FAITH To assume that articles have an author is a faith position. It is a belief in something that cannot be perceived with the senses. As such, it is unscientific and should be rejected. If some people feel that they must believe in an author, that’s okay, but please remember that your view is religious and not scientific. Please don’t force it on others or teach it in school. Just think about it. This very article which you are now reading is the result of countless copying errors which gradually increased its length and complexity over time. How amazing that such a process of nature has resulted in so many wonderful works of literature! Such literature is not the result of some mysterious, unseen, undetectable “author.” It is simply the inevitable result of the mindless duplication process working over unimaginable periods of time. This article was first published on JasonLisle.com and is reprinted here with the permission. Dr. Jason Lisle is the founder of the Bible Science Institute.   QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION How do you go about telling the difference between an object formed by chance and one that has been designed? What distinguishes the designed object? How can you know this article was designed? Do we seem like the sum total of countless copying errors over millions of years? Or do we seem “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14)? Why might even non-Christians agree? Evolutionists see common elements of design – like the fact that many animals have four limbs (or like the word “the” that appears in this article and many others) – as evidence of a common origin. How would a creationist respond? Creationists and evolutionists both agree that “copying errors” (mutations) can cause changes within a species. But if we agree that mutations can cause minor variations, why don’t we believe they can, over millions of years, turn molecules into Man? What is irreducible complexity and why is it a problem for evolution? Is it more reasonable to think this article was designed, or crafted by chance? Which position requires blind faith? ...

Apologetics 101

Princeton scientists announce discovery of “sex chromosome”

Earlier this month, scientists at Princeton University published findings which could forever change the way we think about biological sex. Until now, it had been assumed that the sex of a person was determined by how a person felt. But now researchers believe that may not be so. According to the scientist leading the research, Professor Duncan Forth, the unexpected discovery came after months of painstaking work studying human cells: “We had been looking into the chromosomal structure of cells, when – quite by accident – we realized that there was a difference between one of the pairs. In some of the cells we were studying, both chromosomes were shaped like an ‘X’, but in others, only one of the pairs was shaped like this. The second chromosome was much smaller. We decided to label it ‘Y.’” The research became controversial when to Professor Forth’s surprise, one link became immediately apparent: “When we ran various tests to see which characteristics the ‘XX’ or ‘XY’ combinations correlated with, we were all amazed to see that again and again where there was an ‘XX,’ the person from which it was taken was a female, and where there was an ‘XY,’ the cells had been taken from a male.” Aware of the ramifications of the discovery, the professor nervously explained how the findings, if verified, could completely alter the way we think about biological sex and the terms male and female: “The implications would seem to be that a person is either ‘born female’ or ‘born male,’ and that their feelings actually have little or no impact. But I really can’t stress highly enough that our sample size was small, and further research could show that there is no hard and fast correlation across the population as a whole.” However, further research may not even be possible, as both the students and the university administration are expressing concerns about how the study was ever given funding in the first place. As one 2nd year biology student put it: “This place is supposed to be a place of tolerance and respect. Yet they’re funding research which is causing a lot of people pain and hurt. A lot of pain and hurt.” Others broke down in tears as they talked about what this research could mean for them if allowed to continue. One particularly distraught post-graduate sociology student wept as they opened up: “All my life I’ve been told that I can do what I want to do and be who I want to be. And that nobody has the right to deny me my rights. I truly do believe that. It’s up to me to decide whether I want to be male or female, or neither, or both. And no hate-filled pseudo-scientist or their so-called chromosomal research will ever change that.” The university’s antifascist movement has threatened to take action unless the research is stopped, the scientists sacked, and a statement issued repudiating the findings. The group’s leader was interviewed in the University Safe Space, where he was taking a break between lectures to browse through a baseball equipment catalogue. Wearing a black balaclava to protect his identity, he said the group would not tolerate the situation any longer: “There’s no way we’re going to sit by and let them get away with this vile hate in the name of science.  This kind of genetic determinism is scarily like what the Nazis thought. And if they think we’re going to tolerate Nazism in our university in 2017, they’ve got another think coming.” The controversy has also gone well beyond the university itself, with social media users lining up to condemn what they’re calling “hate research.” A barrage of criticism has been unleashed on Twitter, including: Haters@Princeton: How dare you try to force objective reality over my feelings!!! #NoToChromosomes @Princeton bigots dare 2 tell us we can’t be who we want 2 be. #Chromofascists Rob Slane is the author of A Christian and Unbeliever discuss Life, the Universe, and Everything. No actual scientists were harmed in the crafting of this satire....

Sexuality

A is A…except when it wants to be S?

The transsexual debate and the death of logic “Hi A. It is A, isn’t it? I hardly recognized you there. It’s B. Remember me? How are you doing?” “I’m fine. Well I’m … well it’s just … I’m …” “What is it A? Is something the matter? You don’t look quite yourself.” “Look, B. There’s something I need you to know. I’m no longer known as A.” “What do you mean you’re no longer known as A, A?” “I mean I no longer identify as A. In fact, from now on I’d like you to call me S.” “S?” “Yes. S.” “I’m afraid you’ve lost me.” “Look, it’s quite simple. You’ve always known me as A, and all my life everyone told me I was A. But recently I started to question whether that’s really who I am. And the more I questioned it, the more I realized I was just the victim of social conditioning and prejudice. To put it bluntly, I’ve been brainwashed into thinking that I’m A.” “Social conditioning? Brainwashing? But A, you are A. How could you be anything else? Remember the first rule of logic: A = A and so A can’t = non-A.” “Well I simply don’t agree. In fact I believe that’s nothing but an outdated social construct.” “Social construct? But it’s an obvious truth. And it’s true for all times and all places.” “There’s nothing obvious about it whatsoever, and frankly I’m amazed that anyone living in our post-modern culture could still think it is.” “Ah, I thought as much. You’ve been listening to the post-modernists haven’t you? Well frankly I don’t much care what they say about it. It’s self-evidently true that A = A and there’s an end to it.” Do feelings make the man? “You know, B, I had always thought of you as a fairly open-minded letter. But I’m beginning to detect a quite shocking level of intolerance in you. Listen. Maybe this will persuade you. All my life I’ve had this nagging suspicion that I might be different. I’ve never much liked the way I look. That silly pointy bit at the top and that even sillier horizontal bar in the middle. And that’s just the capital “me.” Don’t get me started on the little “me”! But I’ve always admired S. Beautiful curvy letter is S. Well thankfully we’ve moved on from outmoded stereotypes that would have meant that I stayed an S trapped inside an A’s body, and I can now be any letter I want.” If gender, why not species? “But you can’t be an S. Surely you can see that?” “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a shocking level of bigotry. Why can’t I be another letter entirely, if I want to? Who are you to say what I can and can’t be?” “Why stop at a letter then? Maybe you could identify as a number. I could call you 1. Or 19 if you like. Or maybe even a duck.” “Adding sarcasm to hate speech doesn’t make it any less hateful.” “Hate speech? I said nothing hateful. But A, do you not see what will happen all if you insist on calling yourself S?” “Such as?” You already have a role to fill “Well, I don’t know how we’d get along without an A. I mean, imagine if we tried driving to Alberta without you.” “What do you mean?” “Ever tried driving to Slberts? And what about that fellow who got caught up in the tree after trying to topple his father from the throne. Now what was his name?” “Absalom?” “No. Sbsslom I think it was. Not to mention what we’ll do with the poor old SSrdvsrk. Can’t you see how ridiculous it all is?” “Well I’m not going to stand here all day being lectured by someone who is clearly a Hater and a Transletterphobe.” “You mean ‘someone who is clesrly s Hster snd s Trsnsletterphobe’? You see, all you’ve succeeded in doing by refusing to abide by the simple truth that you are A and that you cannot therefore = non-A is to sow chaos and confusion. Imagine what will happen if T wants to become C, or Y wants to become X.” “As it happens, Y is already well on her way to becoming X thank you very much. She’s a chromosome, you see. She used to be male but now identifies as X. And as for X, he’s sometimes identifying as Y. You have a problem with that?” “Well yes, actually. It’s just a clear denial of objective reality.” “Objective reality? Hah! What you need to realize is that every letter has the right to identify as whichever letter they want, and every other letter ought to respect their feelings.” Why should your feelings win? “Hmm! Fair enough. You win. I will no longer identify you as A.” “Good. Thank you.” “Instead, I shall now identify you as H.” “H? But I just told you I identify you as S, didn’t I.” “Yes you did, but your basis for doing so was based firstly on a denial of objective reality, and then on making subjective opinions and feelings your standard. And, I might add, you said we all have to respect that. Well okay, in my subjective opinion, I no longer identify you as A, or indeed as S, but as H. Are you prepared to respect that?” “But I’m S and you have no right to call me H.” “No right? So let me get this straight. You decree that there is no such thing as objective reality (A = A) and that your feelings are king. Then you insist that I accept your definition as truth and call me a hater, a bigot and a phobe if I don’t. So what you have done is to use your subjective feelings to create your own new ‘objective reality’ and insist that I accept it. Well sorry, I refuse. Two can play at that game and I say you’re an H! Now you’re not going to be a Transletterphobe, a bigot, and a hater and deny me my rights are you? Or is subjectivism taken to its logical conclusion as hard for you to bear as it is for me?” Postscript After this exchange the letter B was hauled off for tolerance training where he is learning that the right to define objective truth is the sole preserve of the Cultural Marxists who denied it in the first place. Rob Slane is the author of "A Christian & an Unbeliever Discuss: Life, the Universe & Everything" which is available at Amazon.ca here and Amazon.com here....