Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What is the Point of Debating Online?

I came across this picture on FB that I think makes a very good point.  



Earlier this year, I was debating abortion with some people on my FB page and I was in several other debates on that topic over the period of a couple of months. During that time many people have said to me that we should just ignore pro-choice commenters, especially ones that are more emotional and do not give cogent arguments. They won't be convinced, so what's the point debating them? Not everybody says this, but it is something I hear relatively often.  Sometimes, you hear cynical people in any controversial discussion say "What is the point in arguing about this?!  No one is going to change their mind!"
I definitely understand that issue. It is very unlikely that they will be convinced by any arguments we give on this platform. In my experience, they often just repeat the same things over and over again without considering what my pro-life friends or I argue. I do, however, think that entering these debates with pro-choicers on FB is a worthwhile endeavor. I don't necessarily enter these debates to convince these people, though it would be nice if they were convinced. Here is why I engage them
1) It may at least help them understand why people are pro-life beyond "You just want to control women's bodies!"
2) It may help them become pro-life ten years from now.
3) It helps a brother out. If a friend of mine is debating the abortion issue with multiple people, I don't want to leave him alone. I want to help him out. I also appreciate it if people help me out and don't leave me alone.
4) I don't want these people to be so confident in their assertions. I don't want them to get away with saying what they want without being challenged.
5) The audience may be genuinely helped and educated by seeing your contribution to the debate.
I'm not saying that all pro-choicers are bad arguers or closed-minded. I am also not saying that there aren't legitimate times avoid engaging with some people. I just don't like the categorical charge that engaging them is always pointless because they won't be convinced.  This doesn't just go for the abortion debate.  This applies to any topic of debate online.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The AK47 Podcast Season 1: Episode 30

Kyle interviews Daniel Vargas, a software engineer and immigrant from Venezuela, on socialism and the state of Venezuela under socialism.  What is Socialism?  What role did it play in Venezuela's decline?  Is Capitalism any better?  What should Christians think of political theories like Socialism and Capitalism?

Listen to the episode here.

To learn how to support our podcast, go here.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The AK47 Podcast Season 1: Episode 29

Kyle interviews Neal Hardin on Assembly Bill 2943 in California and sexual orientation change therapy.  This is a bill being passed around in California, but listeners who are not citizens of California should care about this topic because of the freedoms it could affect.  We talk about what the bill says, Neal's concerns with the bill, and the nuances of orientation change therapy.

Listen to the episode here.

For more from Neal Hardin, check out his website.

To learn how to support the show, click here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Apologist Recommendation: Edward Feser

In this series, I will recommend certain scholars and apologists to our readers and listeners.  These are people that I believe are worth listening to because they are informed and give good arguments and insights into the subjects that they study, which helps intellectually equip Christians so that they can grow in their own faith and their outreach towards non-Christians.  I am not claiming that these scholars and apologists have everything correct, but I think they are intellectual powerhouses that we can learn much from.

Edward Feser

Dr. Feser is a Catholic philosopher who teaches at Pasadena City College.  Being a Catholic, his metaphysics is heavily influenced by Aquinas, which may make his philosophy slightly different from other well-known Christian apologists like William Lane Craig, but his material is still valuable.  A lot of his material is academic, but he has a lot of more popular-level materials that offer great arguments and insights.  Here are some of his works.

His Blog

Feser regularly writes on his blog, where you can find his thoughts on everything philosophy, theology, Catholicism, and apologetics.  This is a good place to go to introduce yourself to his material.

Atheism

Dr. Feser has a lot of scathing and often hilarious critiques of the "New Atheism" and particular atheist writers.  In book form, he wrote The Last Supertition, which is a critique of the new atheism.  His criticisms of Jerry Coyne are all entertaining to read.  He has a review of Coyne's book, Faith Versus Fact, on First Things.  You can also find his blog posts and articles critiquing Coyne here and here.  Feser also critiques Lawrence Krauss, a physicist and atheist, here.  He has a lot more material on atheism and responses to atheist apologists, so look them up.

Existence of God

Dr. Feser has also written on the arguments for the existence of God.  His new book, Five Proofs of the Existence of God, is pretty self-explanatory.  Feser is also interviewed here, where he responds to Dawkins' critiques of the arguments for God's existence in his book, The God Delusion.

Misc.

I recommend just looking through his blog for more materials.  He has a lot of articles on philosophy of mind, ethical issues like sexual ethics, abortion, and capital punishment, explanations of Catholic docrines, and much, much more.  I hope you learn a lot from his resources.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Needs and Rights

We have been emphatic in the past that the topic of our show is not guns.  We do this as a bit of a running gag because of the name of our podcast.  The theme of our show is Christian commentary.  However, that theme is wide enough to allow for a wide variety of topics to be discussed, including the topic of guns.  It's an interesting and important topic, so it has and will likely come up in our episodes and writings.  I had an interview with a philosopher about gun rights and this article is going to be about guns.

In this article, I want to address a particular argument or phrase that people who are for more gun control like to say.  This is an argument/phrase that more sophisticated defenders of gun control probably don't use, but I do see it frequently in the popular-level discourse on social media or protests.  Because of this, I like to call it a "meme-argument."  The phrase, or question depending on how the person says it, is basically "Why do you need this?!"  There isn't really an argument here, but there are implicit premises and conclusions in there if you think about them or draw them out.  Defenders of more gun restrictions (or complete gun bans) will talk about features of certain guns, like the AR-15, and say that there is no reason to have a gun like that because you don't need those features for whatever purpose.  The question is: What conclusion is supposed to be drawn from this?  For this post, I'm going to focus on the AR-15 since that's the gun I usually see being referred to when I hear this.

First, we need to figure out what they mean when they say that we don't need an AR-15 because of whatever features it has.  Are they saying 1) that we shouldn't have that gun or are they saying 2) that the gun is unnecessary, so there's no reason to have one?

The conclusion of (1) does not follow.  The fact that something is not needed has no bearing on whether or not it should be legal to obtain or whether or not is it moral to own.  If you want to argue those conclusions, you need to do more work than that.

If they mean (2), that its unnecessary, then I agree, but that doesn't mean that the gun isn't sufficient.  What I mean by this is that, yes, you do not need an AR-15 over other guns.  You could have a shotgun, a glock, a beretta, or any number of other guns.  However, the AR-15, like any other gun, still does the trick.  It still does what a person who wants a gun wants the gun to do: it provides a means of self-defense and recreation.  So, the fact that an AR-15 is unnecessary does not mean there is no reason to own one.

This article is not an all-out refutation of arguments for more gun control.  I am showing that this meme-argument, like all others, is insufficient to give any good reason for that viewpoint.  People at the popular level, even on social media, need to give more comprehensive and relevant arguments for their position that require more context and critical thought.  In the case of the phrase that I have talked about and its implicit argument, it does nothing to show that the AR-15 should be banned or that there should be more gun restrictions.  It also does nothing to address the positive arguments for less gun restriction based on a person's right to defend his or her life from danger.

Listen to the interview I linked above for the arguments for less gun ownership restrictions.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The AK47 Podcast Season 1: Episode 28

Aaron and I are back together, but this episode is definitely more somber and honest than the others.  We start out by giving our thoughts on the new scandal in the Catholic church.  We then move on to bearing our souls to our audience by talking about the pain in our lives and the things that have made things difficult for us.  I hope our honesty can help you get some perspective on your own troubles and help you realize that you are not alone in struggling with life.

Listen to the episode here.

To learn how to support our podcast, go here.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The AK47 Podcast Season 1: Episode 27

Kyle interviews Anthony Costello on his journey from Catholicism and nominal religiosity to Evangelical Protestant Christianity.  We talk about the events that lead to his current beliefs and some of his criticisms of the Catholic church.  Anthony got an M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and an M.A. in theology at Talbot School of Theology.

Listen to the episode here.

For more from Anthony, check out his website.

To learn how to support our show, click here.