Moral Facts

March 3, 2015

I think this is a very perceptive piece on why students don’t believe there are moral facts. They’ve been taught that facts are measurable and everything else is just opinion. That’s really muddled thinking. The essay explains why. This doesn’t of course mean all moral facts are easy to discern or that we should just accept what we have been taught. We can question proposed facts, but not their existence. Christians (and most religious people) do have some strong reason to believe in moral facts because we have a source of moral authority to guide our thinking, even if there are ongoing disagreements on precisely what those moral facts are.

And just to prove how common such muddled thinking is, here’s a response entitled Why Schools Should Undermine Moral Teachings. It’s hard to know where to start, but the simplest place is to simply note that the response doesn’t really respond to the point – in fact, it seems to provide it. The author doesn’t say whether there are moral facts or not, but seems to imply moral beliefs are all opinions. The original article, I should note, said nothing about whether schools should question moral teachings, but instead focused on their rejection of the existence of moral facts. She doesn’t seem to understand what a fact is (it is something that is true – whether it is believed or not, not something that is believed by some, many, or all people). Note for example this part of her response:

The statement among all these examples hardest to relegate to the “opinion” category, “all men are created equal,” is anything but fact (moral or otherwise) in much of the world and arguably in our own country. It’s a powerful opinion, one that, like Tinker Bell, requires our most fervent belief to keep it aloft. It’s also an opinion that, again and again, has required us to set aside beliefs once held so true as to be considered self-evident. It’s an opinion — a value — that has itself evolved.

Note what has happened. She doesn’t question the criteria for determining whether something is a moral fact. That is sometimes a hard a difficult thing if you don’t accept religious authority or some other external standard. She just assumes if not everyone agrees it must be an opinion.

One other note. She assumes that by creating this free-wheeling, “everything is opinion” world “we all end up on the right side of history.” Right side according to whom and by what standard? The right side is just an opinion, isn’t it? History is filled with plenty of morally reprehensible things, but if those are only opinion, I guess it doesn’t matter if we go back to slavery, genocide, and more. As long as enough people hold those opinions strongly.

Coming Out – as a Christian

March 3, 2015

This is an interesting post. A powerful piece about what it means to be a Christian I think. And I’m sad that she fears what Christians might say about her. I hope she’s wrong in that fear.

Obama the Theologian

February 19, 2015

Ross Douthat shares some thoughts about Obama’s theological trajectory. His last point, that Niebuhrian analysis tinged by partisanship is unhelpful is very important. Here’s the concluding paragraph:

Obama was never going to have Ike’s authority, but he could still profit from his example. The deep problem with his Niebuhrian style isn’t that it’s too disenchanted or insufficiently pro-American. It’s that too often it offers “self”-criticism in which the president’s own party and worldview slip away untouched.

Skills not degrees

February 19, 2015

There’s an important difference between a degree and skills.

The future of education belongs to those who figure out the difference and develop pedagogy and systems to teach and measure skills, it seems to me. But the future is a complicated thing..

Who Owns Yoga?

February 19, 2015

Can we Christianize practices like Yoga? I’m somewhat skeptical, but regardless they are at least contested practices today. As this article shows.

The Coming College Decline?

February 19, 2015

Another downer essay on the state and future of higher education. Here’s the key paragraph that picks off the discussion:

Frey has calculated that if the U.S. does not improve its college completion rates for young people, the share of Americans holding at least a four-year degree will start to decline as soon as 2020. After that, his model forecasts that the share of college-educated Americans will not climb back to its level in 2015 (just under one-third) at least through 2050.

I’m less bothered by the lowered 4 year graduation rate than the article, because lots of jobs that “require” college degrees really don’t (and we’ve already more graduates than those jobs, at least so I’ve read. But proper training for all and competencies for all, whether at a 4 year school or not is a pressing issue.

A History of Political Correctness

February 19, 2015

This article gives a quick review of the idea of political correctness. It’s interesting to not the way the term’s use has been transformed in the midst of various cultural battles.

Christian Zionism

February 19, 2015

Here’s a discussion of a recent report on Christian Zionism. While I am always doubtful about the perspective of these sorts  things (and sometimes their on-the-ground knowledge – as they tend to treat extremists as representative), there’s almost always something to learn.

Autonomous Cars

February 7, 2015

Not sure it will play out quite like this, but if even 20% of these predicted outcomes happen, we’re in for a wild ride. The big takeaways: greatly reduced traffic (and less use of things like roads, parking, gasoline – and less cars and pollution), industry shakeups (automobile, gas, transportation, insurance), public safety changes (fewer accidents, fewer police and traffic tickets), and other social disruptions it’s hard to imagine. And the best prediction of all:

The end of the DMV!

So, let’s just pretend for a moment…

Walmartization of Higher Education

February 7, 2015

Don’t know how I didn’t post about this one when it first came out. Race to the bottom anyone?


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