In the Media

Articles relating to popular media.

Rapid Fire: Responding to Antitheist Memes

Man at Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park (edited)
Read time: 13 minutes

I have written before about being thoughtful when reading and responding to satire. I also showed that a picture with a silly caption can defame, perpetuate a falsehood, and oversimplify a complex issue, such as the cause of the Dark Ages.

While it is easy to say that one should be thoughtful about such things, knowing how to analyse them is a skill which needs to be developed. I am still in the process of personally developing in this manner. One step is to identify a category within which the satire falls. Often objections or criticisms can fall into broad categories, and once a specific objection can be linked to such a broad category, it is easier to respond to the criticism with insight.

This article will present three examples of responding to antitheist “memes”. [node:read-more:link]

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Good and Evil in Star Wars

Star Wars logo
Read time: 8 minutes

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... there was perhaps the most famous story (with an ardent following) of science fantasy that was ever known! It is an epic tale of good versus evil. But, many people may not realise that it is not the kind of good, or a kind of evil, which they may intuitively have expected. Indeed, while it superficially looks like the stories of good and evil familiar to Western lore, the story of Star Wars is rooted in a much different tradition, where the concepts of good and evil have a unique origin and different meaning. [node:read-more:link]

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Responding to the Euthyphro Dilemma

Bust of Socrates
Read time: 8 minutes

Introduction

The Euthyphro dilemma is an argument meant to illustrate a difficulty which theism faces. This difficulty is, from where does goodness come? If something is good because God decreed it as such, we are in a precarious situation where God can command something truly horrible as being good, such as murder or genocide. On the other hand, if God knows what is good from a transcendent source and simply relays it to us, then God is not all powerful, but Himself dependant on abstract, transcendent truths.

The Euthyphro dilemma is the bane of Christian apologists. Not because it is an effective refutation of theism, but because it is a tired argument which has already been refuted many times. Yet, still, armchair anti-theists, and even philosophical scholars, believe that the Euthyphro dilemma is a death knell to theism1.

In this article I aim to undertake to refute the Euthyphro dilemma. The refutation is not anything new, but I aim to do it in a way, possibly novel, where the originator of this argument is turned upon himself. [node:read-more:link]

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Did Christianity Cause the Dark Ages?

Medieval scribe writing at a desk
Read time: 11 minutes

What is in a name? And how does a name influence how we think about the thing that has been named? What conclusions do we draw from a name?

There is a period of time in the history of Europe which is known at the Dark Ages, although these days it is better known as the Middle Ages or, even better, the Medieval period.

A particular picture has been doing the rounds on the Internet which makes the following claim about the Medieval period:

You know, there was another time when science wasn't taken seriously and religion ruled the world. We called it the Dark Ages.

Atheistic Facebook pages and the like are fond of sharing images such as this. But does it hold any truth? [node:read-more:link]

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Christian: Beware Labels

Protesters marching
Read time: 5 minutes

The world seems to be becoming an angrier place. As tensions flare in the U.S.A., other countries become infected as people internalise what is happening there; a kind of life-and-death struggle for the soul of the Western world.

This is, of course, not so, and whether the U.S.A. goes off in a "good" or a "bad" direction, the course of human history has shown us that nothing is permanent and that whatever the outcome, that too, will eventually change.

But despite what happens across the Atlantic, my intention in this article is to warn the reader not to get caught up in this anger. [node:read-more:link]

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A Thousand Words Too Few

Read time: 5 minutes

In an age where it is easy to find information—indeed, these days information comes to you unsolicited—and easy to propagate, how carefully do we think about the information that comes to us, and that we share? In this article I explore the pitfalls of "meme" culture. [node:read-more:link]

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Can Justice Survive Modern Scepticism?

Bloody Knife
Read time: 9 minutes

In this article I am going to muse on what I think is happening to concepts such as truth and justice in the world such as ours. I am particularly going to consider that rise of extreme scepticism, and (almost contradictory) the possibility that pop culture can determine truth. [node:read-more:link]

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A Year of Blood

The Eiffel Tower lit up in the colours of the French flag following the attacks of 13 November 2015.
Read time: 9 minutes

The year 2015 has been particularly bloody. In this article I reflect on what all this violence and turmoil should mean to us. I do this by considering two particular attacks. [node:read-more:link]

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Not a Fear

United States of America flag at half mast
Read time: 4 minutes

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Yoda, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Earlier this month, another tragic collage campus shooting occurred in Oregon in the USA. At the time it was widely reported that the shooter singled out Christians to kill, although some have urged caution about interpreting the story.

After the shooting, there were cries of and questions over "Christianophobia" on social media.

This needs to stop. If anyone is murdered in a cold and calculated way, whether because they are Christian, Muslim or homosexual, is not the result of a phobia. [node:read-more:link]

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When Fairy Tales Offend

The White House lit up in rainbow colours
Read time: 8 minutes

2015 has been a difficult year for the University of Cape Town (UCT). It has been at the centre of multiple controversies. First, there was a protest movement to have an iconic statue of Cecil John Rhodes removed. The campaign brought out bitter enmities between those in favour of and against the removal. The controversy deepened when it suspended the instigator of the movement over harassment charges on the staff. Then it saw a public fallout over a comment which its student representative council (SRC) vice-president, Zizipho Pae, made on her Facebook account wherein she responded to the US Supreme Court's decision to legalise homosexual marriage across the USA, saying "We are institutionalising and normalising sin". [node:read-more:link]

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Being Ineffective with the Xenophobic Attacks

Africa without South Africa
Read time: 12 minutes

Like a man suffering from post traumatic stress disorder startled by a loud noise, South Africa was jolted last week. A combination of controlled power cuts and xenophobic attacks reminded the country of 2008—a dark time in our post 1994 history. Again people fell on their keyboards, denouncing the violence of the xenophobic attacks, shaming the perpetrators and pleading for a more humanistic attitude and solution. Again I add my voice to theirs, because I worry about how the bourgeoisie perceive the problem. [node:read-more:link]

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Recent Discoveries in Contemporary Christian Music

Read time: 10 minutes

Growing up as a Christian teenager, I was very much into the "Jesus Culture": the music, the clothes, the paraphernalia, the books, the whole lot. I have since "settled down", even developing an aversion for commercial/popular Christian stores and the "fads" that they sell. I do, however, sometimes miss good Christian music (especially as the church which I attend is quite conservative regarding music). [node:read-more:link]

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On Respecting Disrespectful Charlie

Je ne suis pas Charlie
Read time: 8 minutes

Following the events this past week in Paris, where 17 people died as a result of Muslim extremists attacking the leftist satirical newspaper Chalie Hebdo, I have been thinking quite a bit about how to react to it. I have watched people in the West react with shock and unbelief, I have seen the defiant reaction of cartoonists and journalists worldwide (although apparently not universally), the far right has gained momentum, radical Muslims have praised the actions of the attackers, I have seen moderate Muslims claim they denounce the attack, but lament that they themselves are in fact the real victims, and I have seen stories relating to bombings and massacres in Africa and the Middle East be largely ignored. While most of the West rushed to social media to pledge their support with #JeSuisCharlie ("I am Charlie"; including past and present Archbishops of Canterbury), I have been deeply uncomfortable with this. [node:read-more:link]

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The Hapless Watchmaker

Richard Dawkins
Read time: 9 minutes

On Wednesday, renowned evolutionary biologist and new atheist Richard Dawkins sparked outrage by stating that foetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome should summarily be aborted1. In this article I argue that while Dawkins is being consistent with his beliefs and views of how the world works, he needs to take care when pronouncing value judgements on individuals. I do this primarily by pointing out an awkward truth about naturalistic evolution. [node:read-more:link]

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Humanists' Crusade Against "Faith Schools" Opens Exciting Opportunities for Christians

School
Read time: 7 minutes

The British Humanist Association (BHA) wages, amongst others, an ongoing campaign against "faith schools". Last week they achieved a significant milestone: these schools are now no longer permitted to teach creationism as science.

I think this opens exciting opportunities for Christians. [node:read-more:link]

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