Galileo, the Rainbow, and Guido

Researchers at Brown University recently came up with some surprising research results. So, of course, the Ivy League School did what any institution committed to science and free speech would do.

They quashed the results.

That’s because the findings upset the Perpetually Offended in the LGBT community. It didn’t please them, so Brown University knew they had to remove the results from their web site, even though it appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, PLOS One.

We know that’s the right thing to do, because that’s exactly  what happened to Galileo:

“Hi, Gal! What’s up? Anything new on that telescope?”

“Oh, hello Cardinal Snooticus. I just discovered that the sun does not revolve around the earth. It’s the other way around.”

“Oh, that can’t be right, Gal! You need to look again. Maybe you’ve got a smudge on your telescope. Yeah, that’s right. It’s a smudge.”

“Well, I don’t know about that. I can only report what I observe, Cardinal.”

“Gal, or perhaps I should say Mister Galileo. I don’t think you are getting the picture. Your scientific results do not sit well with the Church. “

“But that doesn’t matter to me. It’s science.”

“Maybe you should talk to Bishop Guido here. He’s from the Inquisition.”

“Actually, uh, Cardinal, I do think I may have a smudge after all. Never mind. It never happened.”

Of course, we all know that’s not what happened. Western society for centuries has put science in a high position in our culture. Christians of all stripes have learned to consider science as another important source of truth, but not the most important source. (And my apologies to my Catholic friends. This was just a silly story.)

But for people who have abandoned Christianity, there is nothing else that’s authoritative to turn to other than science. Secularists like to say that they count on science, and science alone, as the source of truth. We are constantly reminded of that by celebrities and luminaries, lecturing Conservatives about how we need to just focus on science, not opinion. One of the most recent examples of this was Harrison Ford, who spoke out against the anti-science leaders who are skeptical of climate change.

This is thrown at us all of the time. The Perpetually Offended accuse us of being anti-science. But, at the same time, those same accusers only accept the science they like.

And that’s where the research at Brown University comes back in. It was entitled “Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports”.  The study had a number of interesting findings:

  • The parents of many female adolescents reported “outbreaks” of gender dysphoria that were statistically unlikely. These girls never reported any instances of gender confusion until they began to hang out with other girls who engaged in heavy Internet use and binge-watching of videos of transgenders.
  • There is a high probability that the outbreaks of gender dysphoria were due to social and peer influence and pressure
  • Peer influence in adolescent girls is typically linked with depression, eating disorders, and drug use

These findings do not fit the template put forward by the LGBT community. Their story is that transgender people are “born that way”, and that it’s not a trend you can just try out and adopt because your friends are doing it.

So the Perpetually Offended were offended again. Adopting the same bully tactics they use with practically anything else they object to, they raised a ruckus with Brown University and demanded that the paper be deleted. Brown University complied. These days, it doesn’t take actual death threats to bring universities into compliance with the Perpetually Offended. It only requires the possibility of death threats. Or perhaps a visit from Guido.

Past studies have shown that the vast majority of adolescents who identified as homosexual or transgender as a minor no longer do so as an adult. I think it’s fair to say that it probably would happen to the children in the Brown University study as well.

The earliest American attempt to determine the percentage of adults who are homosexual was a 1948 book by 1948 book by Alfred Kinsey called Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. That study claimed that 10% of the male population was homosexual, but it was based on a count of incarcerated men. It is well understood how “group pressure” in prison often makes those men homosexual, at least while they are in prison. (It should be noted that the 10% figure has been discredited, although it is still repeated throughout the culture. Subsequent studies have shown homosexuals at somewhere between 1.5% to 2.4%.)

Interestingly, a recent survey of Americans showed that most Americans believe the rate of homosexuals in our population is about 21%, which is much, much higher than the actual population. Much of that is probably attributed to the fact that the lifestyle is pushed and promoted throughout the media. That media gives the general impression that homosexuality is more prevalent than it really is.

In addition, there have been a number of recent studies that focused on “sexual fluidity”, or the concept that at least some people can flow between heterosexual and homosexual behavior easily. There certainly are a number of celebrities who appear to have done so, including Drew Barrymore, Elton John, and Anne Heche. But the other studies cited earlier show that the vast majority of people who have ever engaged in homosexual acts will not continue to do so throughout their life.

We are beginning to get a better picture of how homosexuality has become such a “big thing” in our culture. It is a cultural phenomenon that is primarily spread by group pressure. After that pressure is lifted, there is only a very small fraction that remains attracted to the same sex. The homosexual lifestyle has an influence that reaches far beyond the actual population, primarily due to their allies. However, it appears that the vast majority of those who have tried that lifestyle did so because of pressure. It was tried by them and rejected. Let us help those who want to leave that lifestyle. Let us also continue to allow academic freedom to pursue science wherever it leads us. And let us resist the Guidos of this world that pressure us.


Do Super-Women Really Exist?


There are many times when we are discussing difficult issues and the issue is staring us right in the face. But the reason we don’t go there is because we think it’s not permissible in the current culture. There was an article recently on that is a great example.

A digital producer, Alexandra King, recently wrote about an interview that the Harvard Gazette gave to Lauren Groff, a novelist. During the interview, Groff was asked how she achieves a balance between work and family. King was really interested in what she would have to say. Most women struggle to balance the two, so King was hoping to get some insight into how to juggle both work and family. Instead, Groff said:

Until I see a male writer asked this question, I’m going to respectfully decline to answer it.

Social media picked this up, and many women heartily agreed with her answer. But King was disappointed.

King does not have children. She must be thinking about it, although I have no idea what her marital status is. But Groff did not answer the question for King. All she did was have a snappy comeback.

King is struggling here. She’s wondering if super women really exist. In her view, work/family balance for most women is achieved:


King was searching for some help, some advice, but she received none. Most women in today’s society, bombarded by the feminist message, don’t see why women should be hindered in their careers by their family. They want to be unhindered, just like men appear to be. King feels the same way, yet, she says:

But more broadly, I’d argue, whether we like it or not… current circumstances do make this a woman’s question. It’s an undisputable fact that it’s the ladies, not the gents, who have to endure the physical onslaught that is pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery.

And later, she says:

It’s safe to say that American mothers live in crisis. Yet your average working mother is rarely asked how she balanced work and family. She just has to figure it out.

The problem, says King, is that successful women such as Groff never really say how to achieve work/family balance. They never answer the question. And most women in our society are simply struggling. They believe everyone else is doing it except them. Most women believe the successful women have actually figured it out. However:

The sort of women who are publicly asked about what it’s like to be a working mother in the United States are almost always the ones more likely to have more resources to address the myriad challenges every working woman in America faces.

Exactly, celebrities and top business women seem to have it all together, but that’s because they’ve got money to hire “resources” to take care of their children. They may have nannies, tutors, or well-paid babysitters. Or they send the kids to top boarding schools where they don’t have to worry about them. Or they can take off a year or two from work without seriously damaging their family’s finances. Meanwhile, most women today aren’t at a financial level to have those “resources”.

So what is the answer?

In her article, King seems to believe the answer is for the U.S. government to give women more paid maternity leave. She misses the point that it’s not the government who has the answer. Even if a woman were to get 3 years of paid maternity leave, she might not be present for her child. The answer is for the parents to allow the mother to take time away from her career in the early years to be present for her children.

But what if King could actually question whether her premises about feminism are true?

  • Why do women struggle so much with this?
  • If women are liberated, why is childcare still a burden for them?
  • Why does the daily burden of caring for children still mostly fall to the mother, while men still feel most comfortable with being the primary provider for the family?
  • If nature or God equipped women with the means for giving birth, for nourishing them when they are infants, and with empathizing with their children more than men, then is feminist ideology really true?

I’m sure some of you reading this are wondering what cave I crawled out of. Where have I been for the past 50 years?

I get it. I’m not trying to say that women are not equal with men, nor am I trying to say that women are the only ones who should be raising children. Women are just as smart and capable as men. Women should be allowed to have the same careers as men, where physical strength is not an issue.

But why not look at whether mothers should look be spending more time with their children and less time at work? Perhaps suspend their career, especially when the children are very young. Perhaps super women don’t really exist.

This is the recommendation of Erica Komisar, a psychoanalyst who wrote Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. She writes about many studies that show how children do much better physically and psychologically when their mothers – yes, their mothers – stay home and take care of their children. This I not a religious belief. It’s something she discovered through her own work. She herself worked part time in the early years. She writes:

From my firsthand professional observations, I have come to understand the connections between these symptoms and disorders and the emotional and physical absence of young children’s mothers in their day-to-day lives. An increasing number of parents come to see me because their child is suffering from a variety of social, behavioral, or developmental disorders. It’s clear to me that these symptoms are often related to the premature separation of children from their mothers.

What is the primary problem?

Too often, mothers are putting their work and their own needs ahead of their children’s. I know this issue is a very controversial one – so controversial, in fact, that few dare to address it.

There it is again. No one wants to talk about it. Young children need their parents’ time, especially their mother’s time.

The obvious answer for King’s question of work/family balance seems to be to put career on pause, at least for awhile. Stop struggling and searching for an answer that doesn’t seem to exist. Instead of stretching both you and your child, give yourself time to be with your child by taking time away from your career.

But the feminist leanings in King don’t seem to allow her to go there. I suspect it’s hard for most women to consider that. Most probably still think there’s a way to do both excellently.

It has only been since the 1970’s he women have entered into the workforce in large numbers. It remains to be seen whether the social experiment of feminism actually works. We have already seen that no-fault divorce, which was a well-meaning approach to helping couples get out of a failed marriage, has been a disaster. It may be that we will see that with feminism as well.


Is Clint Eastwood a Good Father?

Recently, an article on Fox News spoke about how Clint Eastwood is a great father. The article mentions that he “is earning critical acclaim for one of his oldest roles – being a dad.” The article speaks of Eastwood in glowing terms, mentioning how he was “hands-on” as a father, had a great sense of humor, and made time for each of his kids.

Being a good father does, in fact, include having time for your kids. But that’s not all. It’s also about providing a stable family for your children.

And then there’s this:

His son Kyle, 50, is his eldest from his first marriage to Maggie Johnson, which lasted from 1953 to 1984. Alison, 46, followed after, but during that marriage, he welcomed another daughter in, Kimber, 54, through an affair with Roxanne Tunis. Clint has two other children, Scott, 32, and Kathryn, 30, with his former girlfriend, Jacelyn Reeves, as well as a 25-year-old daughter, Francesca, with Frances Fisher, who co-starred alongside him in the four-time Academy Award-winning Western, “Unforgiven.”

In 1996, he married Dina Ruiz and the couple had a daughter, Morgan, now 21-years-old.

That makes 7 children from 6 wives.

In the past, divorce and broken homes were seen as bad because it was breaking a life-long promise to remain faithful to one another. But if both man and wife wanted to split, then it was considered okay. Perhaps not ideal, but okay. The kids, it was thought, were resilient and would recover just fine.

And that was how most of our culture considered divorce when No-Fault Divorce swept the nation in the 1970’s.

However, a recent book called Primal Loss by Leila Miller explores the toll divorce has taken on children. The book consists of stories told by adult children of divorced parents. Over and over, these adult survivors of divorce talk about how hard it was to understand who their family was. One individual recalled the following:

I recently realized that I was forced to abandon and then reconstitute my idea of family seven times by the time I was 23:

First family: my mom, dad, and me…

Second family: post divorce, still my mom, my dad, and me but living in two homes; my two parents are single

Third family: my mother remarries; my dad is single

Fourth family: my father remarries; both parents are now remarried

Fifth family: my father divorces; he is single again, and I remember feeling excited that I’ll get to spend more time with him; my mother is still married

Sixth family: my father remarries again; both parents are now remarried

Seventh family: my father and his third wife separate; he is single again, and my mother is still married

The testimonies in the book recount over and over again about how they never really knew what was family, what was home. They were constantly moving. During holidays, they would have to be part of a blended family where they hardly knew many of the people present. There was no one to confide in. No real place to come “home” to. Most of these individuals are still recovering, even decades after the divorce.

It shines a light on Eastwood’s concept of family. It was whoever he happened to be with at the time. If you happen to be one of his children, you would be hard-pressed to find your father spending vacations, holidays, or birthdays with your own family. Eastwood would be off with whoever is his latest family.

I don’t mean to come down hard on just Eastwood. There are plenty of families broken by divorce that cause those children to wonder who they belong to, where their home is. It’s the culture we have created. And now we have lots of divorce survivors who need to be healed.

The good thing is that there is a religion that heals and mends broken hearts. It’s a religion that allows anyone, no matter how broken their family is, to find a new home among real brothers and sisters who care about you.

Our Imaginary Morals

map confused

It’s really a simple question. It is one I have wanted to ask many times. Yet, for many people, it seems to be unanswerable.

I remember the first time I asked the question. I was talking to a neighbor. We were talking about raising kids. Mine are grown adults. Her two children are both too young for school. She had complimented me about my adult children, that they seemed to have their heads on straight. I said that, yes, I think that’s because we raised them according to the truth in the Bible, which describes right and wrong, evil and good.

I know my family seems an oddity to her. She has never encountered a family where the parents and the kids are all Christian. She has only seem the older generation embrace Christianity, while their offspring rebel. I certainly know good Christian parents who have attempted to raise their kids to be Christians, only to see them abandon Christ. We have been blessed never to have experienced that in our family.

But my interest was not about raising kids. It was about right and wrong.

I thanked her for her compliment about my children, and then told her I wanted to ask her a question:

Where do you get your morality from? How do you know what is right and wrong?

She was taken aback. She didn’t really know what to say. I could see that she was searching in the recesses of her mind for an answer. It didn’t come.

My neighbor is agnostic, while her husband is atheist. I had known this for awhile. I have been curious for years about how someone can know right from wrong if they have no underlying moral map. Actually, I figured that nonbelievers probably have some moral map, but it just wasn’t apparent to me. Maybe it’s the golden rule. Maybe it’s a hodgepodge of different beliefs. What, I asked, did they rely on to distinguish between right and wrong? How do they know so they can guide their children?

I anticipated some possible answers. One possible answer is that right is doing what is legal and wrong is doing what is illegal, but there are some significant problems with that answer. First, governments don’t always do the right thing. They may pass a law that we believe is wrong. For example, slavery was legal in many states until the Civil War. If we were anti-slavery, would we say that, because slavery is legal, then it must be right? Of course not. There are many examples of unjust laws or unjust judicial decisions. Do we change our morality based on what’s legal? That would be absurd.

In addition, some things may be wrong even if there is no law against it. For instance, most people believe it is wrong to lie. However, telling a lie, except in certain legal matters, is not a crime. Many people condemn the act of lying, but they don’t want to see a law against all lying.

Another possible source for our morality is our friends who surround us. After all, we do tend to hang around people who believe the same way we do. And we are tremendously influenced by people we are close to. Unfortunately, there are some things wrong with this view as well. The biggest problem is that it’s groupthink. A group may have views about whether something is right or wrong, but try expressing a point of view that runs counter to the group. You immediately get isolated. You may even find yourself unwelcome in that group. The pressure to conform in a group is strong. Many people follow the norms of a group, not because they believe what the group believe in their heart, but because they don’t want to get kicked out of the group.

And then there’s the same problem: What if the group believes the wrong thing? Do I just change my moral map whenever the group changes theirs?

Returning to my story, my neighbor had no answer. I followed up by asking simple questions like, “Does it make sense to use ‘survival of the fittest’ to guide our morality? If that principle is true, wouldn’t it be okay to simply live each day taking advantage of others so we end up on top? Or if nothing is right or wrong, wouldn’t it be best to simply do whatever we want, act anyway we want, as long as it’s something we want to do? What would prevent us from robbing a bank?”

It was all so unexpected for my poor neighbor. I apologized that I wasn’t trying to give her a hard time. It was truly just something I wanted to know. How did she know what was right and wrong?

I’ve asked that same question about right and wrong to others since then. Whenever I ask a nonbeliever, I get the same answer. They don’t know how to know what’s right and wrong.

We all need a moral map. We need moral maps just like we need geographical maps.

In times past, Americans used a variety of ways to figure out how to drive from city to city. There were few, if any, maps to help drivers navigate the different types of roads. Often, drivers just had to strike out on their own and figure out each road on its own.

In the early 20th century, when Americans started driving cars out of town to go to other cities, we didn’t have the same infrastructure we have today. Not all roads were paved. Not all roads had clear signs. Not every town had a gas station. And the roads often wound around the countryside, not necessarily trying to go the straightest path. Many Americans used the Official Automobile Blue Book. It gave step by step instructions for going from one town to the next. Eventually, you could find your way to where you wanted to go. If you didn’t read the book correctly, you could end up in the wrong place.

Later, travel maps were created. These were foldable maps that could fit into your glove compartment (assuming you could fold the maps back the way they were originally folded). They were an improvement, but many people don’t follow maps well. It was still very easy to end up on the wrong road and at the wrong destination.

Today, practically every American who has a cell phone knows how to use the GPS feature of their phone to get them from one point to another. Want to go to a new restaurant you heard about? Just plug it in your GPS. Want to get to that marathon in another city? Just plug in in your GPS. Want to do a cross-country trip? Just plug it into your GPS. You will get turn-by-turn audio and visual directions making it very easy to getting to your destination. It is nearly impossible (but still possible) to miss your destination.

Geographical maps show you where you came from, where you are going, and various routes that will take you away from your destination. Many of us Americans would never dream of driving to a new location without using our GPS.

Unfortunately, it is not the same with our moral maps. As a Christian, I know what my moral map is. It is the Bible. It tells me where I came from and how to get where I want to go. And it tells me the roads that will only take me further away from where I want to go.

A good moral map can do that as well. Unfortunately, many of us in today’s society are like American drivers at the beginning of the 20th century. They have an idea of where they want to go, but they don’t have a clue how to get there.

We’re all free to find our own way in this world. The good thing is that there is a map easily available to those who want to follow it. For those who insist on finding their own way, I hope you find the Destination.

Our Imaginary God

I never had a clue. Earlier in our marriage, I was driving on a long trip in our car, and Nancy was sitting in the passenger seat. We went down some very curvy roads in the Appalachian Mountains. Nancy gripped the door handle very firmly. We went around another curve in the road, and I saw her gripping the handle again. “Huh!”, I thought to myself. I don’t remember seeing her do that before. This continued throughout our journey that day. The next day, we were driving at much slower speeds along some city streets. As I made a right hand turn, she gripped the handle again. “Really?”, I thought. The next time I turned, I slowed down much more, so that there was barely any feeling of centrifugal force at all as we turned. Again, she still reached for the handle.

Later that day, I asked her how long she had been doing that.

“For several years”, she said.

And am I driving in a careless way?

“No, not at all”, she said.

So why are you white knuckling the door handle?

She explained that it was just ‘in case something happened’. She didn’t want to be spilled across the front of the car.

Wow! I didn’t realize she did it all the time. I remember seeing her do that a little over the years, but not that much. It was mildly irritating, making me seem like I’m some reckless race car driver. And all during our years of dating and being engaged, I don’t think I ever saw it.

I’m sure there are things Nancy didn’t notice that I did during our dating and engagement. One of them was probably that she didn’t realize how much I love stupid practical jokes. She knew I liked humor, but I don’t think she knew how much of a kick I get out of stupid pranks.

For instance, I had a very phoney looking rubber finger that fit over my pinky finger, with a very large, bloody gash in it. I would sometimes be in another room, scream bloody murder, see Nancy come running over, and I’d show her my terrible – but fake – wound. She would look at me with piercing eyes that said, “An I almost dropped a cake because of this?” Then, she would retreat until the next time I brought out the peanuts that jump out of a can or huge phony sunglasses.

When we were younger, just starting to get to know each other, we had imaginary versions of each other in our heads. To Nancy, I was the suave, debonair man who would sweet talk and charm her every time I came into the room. She probably had no clue that I might have a fake pinky wound on my hand.

Similarly, I saw Nancy as someone who enjoyed every minute of her time with me and was confident of my skills in everything I did. I didn’t realize she was concerned that my driving might cause her to end up going through the windshield.

We each had our imaginary views of what the other person was like. We had our dreamy-eyed thoughts about the one we were in love with.

And then reality hit. We realized that the other person sometimes did things we didn’t understand. Or didn’t agree with. But that was okay. I was still her husband, and she was still my wife. We weren’t perfect, but we still loved and admired each other.

Recently, I saw a movie where a mother was crying. She told her little boy that she didn’t think she was a good mother. (She actually was.) The boy said, “That’s okay. You’re Mom.” His Mom was being Mom, and that was okay, even if she wasn’t perfect, and he loved her.

That applies as well to our view about God.

Recently, authors of “How to Be a Perfect Christian” sarcastically quipped, “The God of the Bible would never do anything you would personally disagree with.” That is a modern-day motto of many people concerning how they think God is. They believe He will only do things they think make sense. He would never do something that challenges their preconceived notions of Him.

Many atheists, agnostics, and unbelievers see God as someone who only does things THEY believe are proper. He must be anti-war. He must be pro-choice. He must think it’s okay to live in sexual immorality. After all, he is all-loving. He doesn’t have any objections to anything, because objections would mean he doesn’t love.

So when they read the Bible, they see only what they want to see. They step over the verses they don’t believe. Because God couldn’t possibly be like that.

Or they just give up on God. If God is like THAT, I just won’t be a Christian.

But if we believe God exists, we will not start with the notions in our mind about who God is and how he behaves. We will let him reveal himself.

He famously told Moses, “I Am that I Am.” There is a lot in that sentence, but one aspect is that God will be who He will be. God said that when he was a burning bush that did not burn up in the fire. No one had ever seen God in that way. Could that really be God? It didn’t fit how Moses understood God to be. But it was God.

Many today who don’t – or won’t – believe in God are really just dealing with their belief in an imaginary God. They start out with who they think God must be. When they find out that He is different, many don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to deal with a real God who acts in ways that run counter to our cardboard cutout of God.

If you truly want to seek God and consider whether the Christian God is true, you need to discard your notions of what you think God is and make Him match up to your expectations. Instead, you need to let him reveal himself to you through God’s Word and allow him to be formed in your mind as He really is.

To Spite Their Face

I remember a very sad story from when I was a 5-year-old. It was Halloween, and I was wearing my new, but beloved, Superman costume. This is very long ago when every kid’s costume was extremely thin material. I fell on the street and went down on my knees. It ended up tearing my costume. I felt humilitated. Here was the Man Of Steel with torn, bloody knees. It betrayed everything I aspired to in that costume. I could not be consoled, and instead just got angry. I would yell and tease the other kids in my group. This only made things worse, since the adults wouldn’t let me go to the doorsteps to collect my goodies as we went down the block. Instead of simply accepting the fact that my costume was a little damaged and going ahead with Halloween, I just made things worse. I never did get any additional candy that night.

That was a childhood error that fixed itself as I grew. Each time I got angry, I realized I could make my situation worse very easily by just giving into my anger. Although I’m definitely not perfect, I’ve learned how to respond with grace when things don’t go my way. My Christianity has taught me that. Jesus responded with grace when he was surrounded with those who wanted to take his life.

But not all actually accept this as part of their worldview. There are worldviews that simply pile anger upon anger. There is never any peace, but just retribution. There is never forgiveness, but just old, crusty bitterness. That was evidence recently in Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip.

Several weeks ago, Hamas began a protest against Israel, telling thousands of Gazans that they needed to try to breach the border with Israel and occupy parts of the country. They described this as a peaceful march, as if no one had ever read about Hamas protests of the past. Israel held them in check, killing and wounding many of the protesters.

As with many of prior protests, Hamas had two directions they could go in. They could simply stop, realize nothing would come of such violence, live at peace with Israel, and build up their culture and economy. Or they could just double down on their anger and keep protesting. As is typical of their worldview, they chose the latter.

But they did so in a way that just made things even worse for themselves. First, they declined Israel’s offer of humanitarian medical aid for the protesters. This was greatly needed, since many protesters had been wounded.

And second, they started firing rockets into southern Israel, but they did so recklessly. When I say “recklessly”, I mean “stupidly”, because they damaged the electrical infrastructure that brought electricity into Gaza. This means much of Gaza ended up without electricity.

I wonder when the inhabitants of Gaza, or the leadership for that matter, will begin to realize that cutting your nose off to spite your face is not a good national policy. But this would require a change in worldview, from unrelenting anger to a worldview where true forgiveness is possible, or even loving one’s enemies.

What a novel idea.

Hamas rioter: group tricks women, children to enter line of fire

What is the mindset of those who deliberately want to put women and children into harm’s way. No matter what religion you belong to, it’s never right to put innocent lives at risk.