Atheist North Korea has threatened to shoot out the lights of a giant Christmas tree-shaped tower that South Korea plans to illuminate near the tense border.
This is the first line of an article I recently read chronicling the tensions between North and South Korea over the South’s plans to illuminate a 100 ft. tower with lights designed to make it look like a Christmas tree. Apparently, this has been a South Korean tradition until 2003 when they agreed to stop as part of an agreement with the North during a period of relative calm. But tensions have escalated again, so last year they decided to resurrect the tradition. This Christmas they have agreed to let Christian groups erect two more trees.
The North calls the Christmas tree “propaganda” and is upset because it can be seen with the naked eye from the major city of Kaesong. According to a BBC article “[The North Korean capital] Pyongyang has previously accused Seoul of using the tree to spread the Christian message to people inside the atheist state.”
“The Communist North warned its southern enemy of ‘unexpected consequences’ if it went ahead to turn on the lights, saying Seoul would bear the ‘entire responsibilities’. “
This is what atheism looks like. We see it in our own nation all the time. An atheist or atheist group is offended by the public display of a Christian symbol, so they use the courts to bully someone into removing it. There is never any mention that the right they are using to complain, freedom of speech, is the direct result of a Christian worldview and not an atheistic one. North Korea cannot use the courts to demand removal of the tree, so it uses the threat of violence. This whole situation makes it painfully clear that atheism, when lived out consistently, results in a lot of things – but freedom and tolerance are not among them.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their Joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the greatest degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science [knowledge] among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Delivered October 3, 1789 – New York
The former graphic designer in me loves how the skull and crossbones naturally draw your attention to the fine, since this is obviously the most important information on the sign 🙂 But I also wonder what it says about the Newcastle Tramway Authority that they think INSTANT DEATH isn’t a big enough deterrent??
Imagine this scenario (if you aren’t a parent, just bear with me): You are sitting in your favorite chair, absorbed in a good book or magazine. Your son has been off playing by himself when he suddenly runs up to you and asks, “Mommy/Daddy, can I kill this?” Without looking up from your book, what do you need to know before you can answer him?
Obviously, you would ask him “What is it?” Is it a cockroach? “Sure, go ahead.” Is it a spider? “Quick, get a shoe!” Is it the pet cat? “Um, no.” Is it his baby sister? “Certainly not!!”
Before we can decide if it’s alright to kill something, we need to know what kind of being it is. In a previous post I critiqued the 180 documentary because I felt it didn’t make this clear. In this post I hope to give you a simple argument you can use that will shed light on this issue.
First of all, an appeal to the basic scientific facts can help you answer the “What is it?” question. From the moment of conception, an embryo exhibits all the characteristics of life: metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction. She carries human DNA with a unique genetic signature that is distinct from her mother, father and other living organisms. She also has the innate ability to proceed through the entire sequence of human developmental stages. These are simple biological facts: an embryo is alive and an embryo is human.
This certainly answers the question of what kind of being the unborn is, but it may not be easy to remember when the pressure is on. So if you get nervous and your memory fails you, it might be a good idea to pull out The SLED Test.
S – The S in SLED stands for Size. Is a toddler less valuable than a teenager? Are women less valuable than men? Obviously, size doesn’t equal value.
L – The L stands for Level of Development. Is a 1 year old girl less valuable than her mother because she is not yet capable of reproducing? Is an 8 year old less valuable than his father because he isn’t capable of understanding how to operate a car? Value is not determined by our abilities.
E – The E stands for Environment. Does your value change when you cross the street, or roll over in bed? A seven inch trip down the birth canal does not magically bestow value. Where you are – in the womb or out – has no bearing on who you are.
D – The D stands for Degree of Dependency. Is my father less valuable than I because he relies on insulin to survive? Is my husband more valuable than his grandfather because he doesn’t require a pacemaker? Viability doesn’t determine worth.
Memorize this little acronym and you will be on solid ground, and have much greater confidence, when you find yourself in a discussion about abortion.
The SLED Test acronym, and the arguments that go with it, were developed by the thinkers at Stand to Reason.
The following video is a 33 minute documentary on the always controversial subject of abortion. What caused these people to go from being pro-abortion to pro-life within a matter of minutes? Whatever your views on the subject are, I highly recommend you watch. It is 33 minutes that could well change your life.
Following the link are some of my own comments on the video and its subject matter.
(WARNING: Some graphic images are used.)
(SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched the video yet, I recommend you do so before reading my comments)
I admit I have some mixed feelings about this documentary. On the one hand I think it’s wonderful. The production quality is outstanding, the interactions with the people on the street seem very productive. The connection that is made between The Holocaust of World War II and the modern Abortion Holocaust truly seemed to resonate with those that appear in the film. Ray Comfort can use to great effect what is called the “Presuppositional” approach to discussions about spiritual things. He doesn’t argue for God’s existence with these people, he just assumes it to be true and then uses the 10 Commandments as a sort of mirror for these people to evaluate themselves against. This method can be very successful, but I don’t believe it’s the only tactic to use – nor should it be. You need to have a special kind of temperament and personality to exercise it properly. Ray Comfort is the kind of person who can.
Having said all that, I was a little disappointed with it. Although the approach he used seemed to be effective with those who appeared in the film, I’m curious about the others he may have spoken to on the street that weren’t persuaded by it. I’m sure there were plenty. I wasn’t entirely persuaded by it myself. Although the comparison between the Nazi Holocaust is certainly accurate, it is only accurate if you have already demonstrated that an actual human life is involved in both circumstances. Those who appeared in the video readily acknowledged that it’s a “baby” or “child” in the womb, but it was never demonstrated that an unborn child is, in fact, a human life. I know that some people who are pro-abortion would not see the parallel between what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany and what is happening in the wombs of women all over the world, because they don’t believe what is in the womb is a human life that needs to be protected. To them, there is no comparison. So when it comes to the topic of abortion, the most fundamental question that needs to be answered is “What is the unborn?” If it is not a human life, no justification for abortion is necessary – have as many as you want. But if the unborn IS a human life, then no justification for elective abortion is adequate.
When it comes down to it, my critique is simply that Ray Comfort started in the wrong place. He should have first answered the “What is it?” question before moving on to his very accurate analogy. In all fairness, I felt he came very close to addressing this with the use of an animation, but it would have been as simple as appealing to the science of embryology in his actual discussions. Once that question was effectively answered, I believe his approach would have been effective with a lot more people.
(In a future post I will go into more detail on a particular argument that I believe will be very helpful in your conversations regarding abortion. Stay tuned! If you would like to purchase copies of the 180 Documentary as a tool to educate others, you can do so here.)
We all have a seemingly innate desire for our lives to be meaningful. Rather than be some insignificant speck in the vast universe that will eventually die and be forgotten, we long to know that each individual life is here for a reason and purpose. Is such a hope realistic or are we all just accidental by-products of mindless forces of nature, doomed to die in the eventual heat loss death of the universe? Watch the video as Dr. William Lane Craig discusses whether it is possible to have meaning without God.
My family went to a local Independence Day celebration this past July to watch the fireworks and spend time with some other relatives. We arrived early so we sat listening to the live music while waiting for it to get dark. Typical for a mid-western summer, it was uncomfortably hot and humid. So instead of remaining seated with buckets of sweat pouring off my skin, I decided to get up and walk around to see if I could find something to fan myself with. It just so happened that a Masonic Lodge had a booth set up with pamphlets they were giving away, so I swiped one to fan myself with.
When I sat back down I actually opened the brochure and read some of it. My intention here is not to critique the Masons, but there was something in the brochure I found interesting. Under the heading of Several Masonic Principles I read this:
No one has the right to tell another person what he or she must think or believe.
Sounds very tolerant, doesn’t it? Immediately, I could tell there was something not right about that statement. Those of you who are smarter than I am have already pinpointed it, but I wasn’t really in a thinking mood at the moment so I had to mull it over for a while.
As we were driving back home later, it finally came to me. The statement commits suicide. The second the Masons typed it into their brochure, they had refuted themselves. If you are ever in a conversation and someone tosses this gem at you, I recommend you respond like this: “Then why are you telling me what to believe?”
This is what Greg Koukl, author of the book Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions, calls The Suicide Tactic. It’s a simple question designed to point out to the person you are speaking to the self-refuting, or suicidal, nature of the statement they just uttered. Because if the Masons are correct, and no one has the right to tell another person what to think or believe, then this statement is also true of the Masons. Yet by uttering the statement, they are telling me what to believe. They think I should believe that it is not OK to tell people what to believe. Do you see the problem?
Incidentally, it seems quite obvious that at least some people DO, in fact, have the right to tell others what to believe. Parents do it all the time. Teachers also. If no one had the right to tell others what to think or believe, education would be impossible. To clarify, I’m not saying you should be the kind of person who shoots off dogmatic assertions while demanding people believe them. Rather, it is perfectly legitimate to say, “You should believe X, and here are the reasons why.” This is how knowledge is transmitted.
If you want to learn more about the tactical approach, or how to think more clearly in general, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the Tactics book. It will change the way you think for the better!