June 2011

Just a little over 1 ½ years ago the Senate of New York rejected a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, 38-24.  On Friday June 24, 2011, however, they approved a similar bill, 33-29, and Governor Cuomo signed it into law.  Beginning July 24, 2011, same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in New York.

New York is the 9th state/district to legalize same-sex marriage (Massachusetts in 2003 by court order, California in 2008 by court order, Connecticut in 2008 by court order, Iowa in 2009 by court order, (more…)

During his recent debate with William Lane Craig on the topic “Is there Evidence for God,” physicist Lawrence Krauss claimed that only empirical data is an acceptable form of evidence.  Given our culture’s proclivity toward empiricism and naturalism, I doubt that most found Krauss’ epistemic principle controversial.  I think it is highly controversial, however.

First, to say empirical data alone counts as evidence is to relegate the entire discipline of philosophy to the ash heap of epistemic irrelevance.

Second, it seems to have escaped Krauss’ attention that his epistemic principle is itself a philosophical claim, not an empirical finding.  Indeed, what empirical evidence could he offer in its support?  None.  There is no empirical evidence to (more…)

Abort73.com is known for using powerful visuals to demonstrate the gravity of abortion.  Now they’ve used their talent to create a video that tackles the common misconception that the unborn are just a clump of cells in the first trimester of pregnancy.  Check it out.


Pro-life advocates often scoff at fetal homicide laws, arguing that they represent just how schizophrenic our legal system is when it comes to the unborn.  On the one hand our legal system says the unborn are not persons, and therefore they can be killed per the mother’s request.  On the other hand, fetal homicide laws treat the unborn as a person, allowing for an individual who kills an unborn child without the mother’s consent to be prosecuted for murder.  The legal distinction is based almost entirely on the mother’s will.  If she wants the child, it is illegal for someone else to kill it.  If she does not want the child, it is legal for someone else to kill it.

While I am pro-life, I want to argue that the current law is consistent in its treatment of abortion and fetal homicide.  Just because the unborn are not deemed persons with legal status—and can be killed at the mother’s request—does not mean the state could or should allow anyone to kill an unborn child without consequence.  If the unborn is not a person, then it is property[1], and the same laws we apply to property must be applied to the unborn as well.


McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, Robert George, et al have written what is arguably one of the best defenses for the traditional understanding of marriage available in print.  Titled “What is Marriage?”, this paper was first published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, and later expanded into a book by the same title.[1]

I’ve often said the reason support for same-sex marriage has grown so fast in the West is because our culture has long forgotten what marriage is.  George et al understand that when it comes to the marriage debate, everything hinges on the question, What is marriage?  Does marriage have a fixed nature independent of cultural norms, or is it a mere social construction that can be whatever society wishes it to be?  The authors rightly begin their paper by defining and contrasting these two perspectives (what they call the “conjugal view” and “revisionist view”):


Not many months ago I finished reading John Sailhamer’s The Meaning of the Pentateuch.  If you are only going to read one book on the Pentateuch, this should be it.  Prior to reading this book I can honestly say I never saw much more than a chronological structure in the books, and never saw how the five books fit together.  Sailhamer has illuminated the meaning of the Pentateuch in a way I never thought possible.

Sailhamer argues that the structure of the Pentateuch reveals the meaning of the Pentateuch.  While most of us think the purpose of the Pentateuch is to record the Law of Moses for Israel, Sailhamer argues convincingly that this is not Moses’ primary intention (if it were, the inclusion of Genesis would be inexplicable).  The Pentateuch was not the first written record of the Law (Dt 27:1-8), and it was written well after the giving of the Law at Sinai, so its purpose must go beyond a mere record of the Law.  Sailhamer argues that the structure of the Pentateuch reveals that its primary purpose was to confront its readers with their inability to keep the Law, and the need to live a life of faith while they wait for the promised seed: the future king from Judah (Gen 15:6; Ex 19:9; Num 14:11; 20:12).  The golden calf incident lies at the heart of the Pentateuch, exposing the heart of Israel’s problem: their heart.  That’s why the Pentateuch ends with an acknowledgment that something needs to be done with the human heart for people to be able to keep God’s covenant (Dt 30:6).


The other day a bizarre question popped into my mind: Is zero a number?  On one level, the answer is obviously yes.  Zero is not a letter, a flower, or a molecule.  It is in the class of things we call numbers.  While zero might be considered a number for classification purposes, does it truly exist in the real world?  While I can point to three eggs and say, “Here are three eggs,” I cannot point to some X and say, “Here are zero Xs.”  Zero does not correspond to anything in reality, because zero signifies the absence of reality.  To say one has zero eggs is just a mathematical way of saying one does not have any eggs.

Of course, the same could be said of negative numbers like -1, -5, or -100.  These numbers have no correlates in the real world.  You will never find -5 apples.  Negative numbers exist only in the mind.  Of course, the same could be said of all numbers.  While I can point to three eggs, five cows, or 17 cups, in none of these cases will I have located the numbers 3, 5, or 17.  I will have only found instances in which a specific numerical value is exemplified by particular objects.


Pete Stark has introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prohibit any foster care or adoption agency who receives government funding (or is associated with an entity who does) from discriminating against prospective foster/adoptive parents on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.  This is not the first time he has introduced a bill like this, so we’ll see what becomes of it.  But if this is passed, it will force many agencies to shut down their doors or violate their ethical principles.  As I wrote about previously, the debate over same-sex marriage and homosexuality matters, and has practical consequences that affect us all.

Go here for a legal analysis of the bill.