Saturday, February 24, 2018

Pastor James Kambugu of Uganda

Over the last several months, I’ve had the privilege to get to know and to correspond with Pastor James Kambugu, of Uganda. He is independent, so far as I know, and not affiliated with any larger ministries. He is a former Muslim, and he has ministered to Muslims, as you can see in some of the ministry photos at his website, and others that he has sent to me privately.




Here is his home page and here is his Statement of Beliefs. More information is available at his Facebook site as well.

He is in the Wakiso district of Uganda, which is right outside the capital city of Kampala. Uganda is a country where there Christians are not heavily persecuted, but the area is troubled nevertheless.

I’ve posted some photos here of the church building that he is trying to erect; also, one of the challenges is just simply public facilities for use at the church. There is a photo here of the effort to build a simple “pit latrine” as he calls it.





Pastor James cares for and provides educational facilities for a large number of children in the area, some of whom are orphans; as well, he recently was called upon and made a special trip to rescue a young boy named Swaib, who had been badly mistreated by his step mother, and who (at age 6?) weighed about 5 kg when he was found. He could have come right out of a World Vision ad.


I’ve confided in Pastor James about some personal needs, and he and his church have prayed for my family on a regular basis. I’m reaching out to Triablogue readers – if anyone is in a position to help him, he is accepting donations through a GoFundMe site that has been set up by Julia Bradley of Toronto.

If anyone has any suggestions about whom or how Pastor James can become affiliated with a legitimate US-based missionary organization, or if you have any questions, please let me know.

Pastor James Kambugu is a Christian brother who lives in a very difficult part of the world; he is in a position to make a difference, and he is already doing so to a small extent. Please help if you can.

Dating the Pentateuch

https://www.academia.edu/1818873/Dating_Pentateuchal_Texts_and_the_Perils_of_Pseudo-Historicism

Friday, February 23, 2018

When seconds count, police are minutes away

More of my recent debate with Darrell Bock on gun-control:

If we're going to do international comparisons, here's a broader sample group: 


This only goes to 2015 so recent major events in the USA are missing including Orlando, Las Vegas, and now Florida. We have had several recently which raises questions.

That cuts both ways. We'd need to update the survey to include additional jihadist attacks abroad, since I was responding to a commenter who tried to compare the USA to Australia. With that in mind:


Unclear how updating the survey helps your case. The fact that Europe is a gun-free zone, due to gun-control laws, makes it a soft target for jihadis. 

So I take it, Steve, you think we are Ok and just have to accept these incidents and make no effort to think through options.

Lots of permutations to that question. Let's break it down.

i) To begin with, I presume you appreciate the fact that we do have to accept a certain level of criminality. The best we can reasonably hope for is to keep crime at manageable levels. To prevent crime from spiraling out of control.

Utopian schemes to eradicate crime degenerate into totalitarian police state regimes that not only suppress civil liberties, but produce massive unaccountable corruption. So there are tradeoffs in a free and open society. 

ii) There is, more over, the question of whether gun control laws are symbolic feel-good measures that fail to solve the problem. For instance:



There are some things we can do to try to improve the general culture. 

iii) For instance, I know about a church where the senior pastor and the young pastor are both volunteer coaches at the local high school. 

iv) Likewise, we can defend the civil right of Jewish/Christian students to form voluntary Bible clubs in school. 

v) We should oppose the NEA's war on boys (e.g. Christina Hoff Sommers), which likely causes a backlash by creating resentful boys. 

Unfortunately, Obama voters like you made it harder to improve the general culture when you elected a man who empowered the secular progressives. 

Last of the great revivalists

http://reformedperspective.ca/billy-graham-1918-2018-the-last-of-the-great-revivalists/

Atheism as a religion

https://voice.dts.edu/tablepodcast/atheism/

Seeing double

I'm going to expand on a previous post:


Many readers of the Olivet Discourse conclude that Jesus mispredicted the future by synchronizing the fall of Jerusalem with the end of the world. There are different responses to that objection. 

One potential problem with that inference is the tacit assumption that this is a continuous discourse which Jesus delivered at one sitting. The Olivet Discourse is recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels. There are several parallel editions floating around the Internet. If you compare them side-by-side, there's a lot of overlap, but there's also striking additions and omissions. 

What accounts for the differences? One possible explanation is that Jesus didn't deliver this address at once sitting. Rather, Matthew, Mark, and Luke have topically collated some separate, but related sayings originally given at more than one time and place. Perhaps grouping them by a common theme like oracles of salvation and judgment. Indeed, such arrangements may have antedated the composition of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. 

When we read all three Synoptic accounts of the Olivet Discourse horizontally, the selectivity of the editorial process stands out. If that's the explanation, then it's more precarious to assume that Jesus had the same future referent in mind.  

Artificial Intelligence and Human Exceptionalism

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIvAg-NY5eQ&feature=youtu.be

The weaker sex

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Pet 3:7).

Peter's comparison has become a controversial statement. Some Christians are embarrassed by it. Even Tom Schreiner, although he's a complementation, is very defensive about this verse in his commentary, and restricts the comparison to physical strength. 

So in what respect does Peter think women are the weaker sex? We can't say for sure because he doesn't spell out what he means. It's possible that he just means men in general are physically stronger than women.

Karen Jobes agrees with that up to a point, but adds that "the female is also weaker in the sense of social entitlement and empowerment" (209). And in the ancient world, that was often be the case. However, I think that's an overstatement, or misleading. The ancient world was hierarchical. Would an upper class women be inferior in "social entitlement and empowerment" to a lower class man? 

It's quite possible that Peter didn't explain what he meant because he figured that ought to be obvious to his readers. He may take for granted that his audience recognized stereotypical physical and psychological differences between men and women. For instance, consider this comparison by a female philosopher who specializes in gender and feminism:

A lot of typical boy behavior, such as rough-and-tumble play, risk taking and fascination with gadgets rather than dolls, appears to have a basis in biology. Researchers have found, for example, that female monkeys play with dolls much more than their brothers, who prefer toy cars and trucks. Are male monkeys captive to a “guy code”? A recent study on sex differences by researchers from the University of Turin, in Italy, and the University of Manchester, in England, confirms what most of us see with our eyes: with some exceptions, women tend to be more sensitive, esthetic, sentimental, intuitive and tender-minded, while men tend to be more utilitarian, objective, unsentimental and tough-minded…Most boys evince healthy masculinity. They may enjoy mayhem in games and sports, but in life they like to build, not destroy. Their instinct is not to exploit vulnerable people but to protect and defend them... Male stoicism may be adaptive and protective...Engage his male instinct for problem solving...The energy, competitiveness and corporal daring of normal males are responsible for much good in the world. No one denies that boys’ aggressive and risk-taking tendencies must be socialized and channeled toward constructive ends. 


So Peter may mean that guys are stronger in that respect. Those are not strengths or weaknesses in an absolute sense. A gender trait that's advantageous in one social setting may be disadvantageous in a different social setting. It's not uncommon for someone's point of strength to be a point of weakness, depending on the context. Patton was a brilliant general, but he lacked social intelligence. 

This crops up in complementarian/egalitarian debates about women in leadership roles, or the coed military, and so forth. As a rule, women are better at some things than men while men are better at some things than women. There are, for instance, lots of women in the medical profession. That's a natural niche for women. It plays to their natural empathy. However, some medical professions, like surgery, appeal to men with classically masculine character traits–or so I've read. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

All other ground is sinking sand

"But Billy," I protested, "you can't do that. You don't dare stop thinking. Do it and you begin to die. It's intellectual suicide."


At the time he said it, Charles Templeton was in the prime of life. But in old age, he suffered from senile dementia. 

What happens to you when you put your faith in your intellect, but your once proud intellect begins to slip away? For an atheist, there's nothing to fall back on. Once your mind is gone, it's gone. 

On YouTube there's an long interview with W. V. Quine. He was the great secular philosopher of his generation. Went from mathematician to mathematical logician to philosopher. The biggest name in postwar Anglo-American philosophy.

But by the time of the interview, he was in his mid-80s, and the great mind was disintegrating. You watch him struggle to answer questions. He speaks in broken sentences. Loses his train of thought. Forgets what he was saying halfway through a sentence.

An atheist, valued for his intellect, losing his mind. What's left? 

Many Christians also suffer from degenerative illnesses. Yet at the resurrection of the just, they will be restored, better than ever. 

The damned will be resurrected, too, but to be punished in the body.  Put your faith in anything other than God, and watch it crumble under the relentless barrage of time. 

Mass shootings

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/964614619523362816.html

Asahel Nettleton

http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200504/200504_130_nettleton.cfm

http://www.intoutreach.org/Nettleton.html

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fear not Ecclesiastes

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/evangelicalpulpit/2018/01/fear-not-ecclesiastes/#

Billy Graham

A few random thoughts about Billy Graham. I'll begin with a theological criticism, then say some positive things:

i) Decisional evangelism has a fundamentally flawed understanding of conversion. Decisional evangelism basically eliminates saving faith. To make a decision is an act of the will. That pertains to the field of action. Responding to the altar call is an act of the will.

That's not the same thing as faith. Faith requires assent, conviction, an intellectual reorientation. We have a different view of God, assuming we even believed in God. We have a different view of ourselves, especially in relation to God. 

An act of the will is not an act of faith in the sense of assent or conviction. There's no essential change of heart and mind. It's just about something you do. 

Saving faith has a volitional component in the sense of commitment. But that can't be a substitute for believing and trusting in Jesus. Reciting a formulaic prayer (the sinner's prayer), like a magic incantation, or performing a ritual, like the alter call, isn't saving faith. It gives people false assurance.

ii) Graham was a great preacher. He had a fine speaking voice, and he was a natural, commanding public speaker. Intense and singleminded. He also had a nice Southern lilt. 

iii) That said, the South has produced many great preachers. I'm sure many Southern preachers are his equal or superior orators. 

In addition to natural ability, he was saintly. And that lent an aura of holiness and authority to his preaching. 

iv) He illustrates how much God can do with a man of modest intellectual endowment, who's totally devoted to God. Graham wasn't a great scholar, philosopher, theologian, or apologist. But you don't have to be great to do great things. Conversely, many very talented people waste their talent on what's trivial and ephemeral.

v) Graham threw his considerable influence behind the inerrancy of Scripture, at a time when evangelical institutions were drifting. As I recall, he wrote the preface to Harold Lindsell's The Battle for the Bible. I expect that endorsement all by itself gave the book an audience.

vi) Graham supported the prolife movement. That wasn't a given for a Baptist of his generation. Prior to Roe v. Wade, many evangelical denominations were soft on abortion. Walter Martin, ten years Graham's junior, is an example of a Christian leader to came of age when the evangelical movement was soft on abortion, and he was never able to make the transition to a harder line position. 

vii) Graham publicly opposed the candidacy and reelection of Barack Obama. 

viii) As a young evangelist, Graham had a famous falling out with a fellow evangelist turned apostate Charles Templeton:

"I believe in the Genesis account of creation simply because it's in the Bible. I've discovered something in my ministry: when I take the Bible   literally, when I proclaim it as God's Word, I have power. When I stand before the people and say, 'God says,' or 'The Bible says, 'the Holy Spirit uses me. There are results. People respond. Wiser men than you or I have been arguing questions like this for centuries. I don't have the time or the intellect to examine all sides of each theological dispute, so I've decided, once and for all, to stop questioning and to accept the Bible as God's Word." 

"But Billy," I protested, "you can't do that. You don't dare stop thinking. Do it and you begin to die. It's intellectual suicide."


Templeton was oblivious to the irony of his statement. Atheism is intellectual suicide. Naturalistic evolution is intellectual suicide. If that's the case, then reason is the byproduct of blind evolution. 

And anyway, if there is no afterlife, if everything we cherish is the result of blind evolutionary conditioning, then what's so bad about intellectual suicide? There's no face behind the mask. The mask is it. 

Graham was not a great thinker, but his instincts were right. 

Heretical miracles

1. I'm old enough to remember Fulton Sheen. As a kid I occasionally saw his TV show. Years ago I read his autobiography.

2. In his heyday he was the public face of American Catholicism. Undoubtedly the most influential Catholic propagandist. 

Sheen was a natural storyteller. And I'm impressed by how he could speak without notes. 

3. I think he was probably a sincere Catholic rather than a charlatan. However, he always struck me as rather vain. He spoke with a very artificial accent and loved to dress up in showy vestments. 

He was a social climber who cultivated the rich, famous, and powerful. He liked to move in those circles. He hogged the limelight. 

One of his biographers (Thomas Reeves) argues that Sheen was guilty of resume inflation by fabricated a second doctorate. If so, that's consistent with his ambitious streak. 

From humble origins as a farm boy, he parlayed his intellectual and theatrical talents to become a major religious celebrity. That made other ambitious, egotistical prelates like Cardinal Spellman jealous.  

4. An irony of Sheen's career is that the church he tirelessly promoted no longer exists. He was raised and educated in the shadow of Trent and the antimodernist papacy. But in practice, that's dead. It died in his lifetime. It's gone the way of the Shaker cult. Sheen's Catholicism is a museum piece. Indeed, as bishop, he was unable to make the transition to the new post-Vatican II world order. 

5. There's a YouTube presentation in which he plugs Our Lady of Lourdes. He mentions some personal anecdotes which, if he's to be believed, indicate supernatural intercession. That raises an interesting question about how to assess reported Catholic miracles. 

i) In one anecdote, he says a bunch of atheists on a trip to the Pyrenees all died when their bus plunged off a bridge. In principle, there ought to be newspaper accounts which verify or falsify that claim. 

ii) Some Catholic miracles present a bit of a theological conundrum in the sense that if they happen, they might indicate the agency of Mary in answering prayer–which validates Catholic dogma. But the conundrum is that many Protestants can also recount personal anecdotes of miracles, answered prayer, and special providence, so there's a sense in which all these claims culminate in a stalemate. 

iii) In the video I referenced, Sheen appeals to these providential incidents to bolster some appalling theology. Assuming he's telling the truth, it reminds me of Deut 13:1-5, where "heretical miracles" function as a test of fidelity. 

iv) But I also have nagging reservations about Sheen's credibility. To begin with, there's the temptation of a natural storyteller to spin tall tales. A good storyteller has the power to manipulate an audience. Have the audience eating out of his hand. If you're someone like Sheen, who seems to have an appetite for popular adulation, it's hard to resist the temptation to exploit that ability in order to foster a personality cult centered on yourself.

That's in addition to Sheen's M.O. as a status seeker and name-dropper, who went out of his way to cultivate celebrity converts and hobnob with cultural elites. So I'm not convinced that Sheen is trustworthy when he tells these self-aggrandizing stories.

That doesn't necessarily mean he was a pure con artist. People can be complex and pulled in different directions. But there's already a Hollywood quality to the swanky piety that Sheen was enamored with. At the end of the day I'm undecided about Sheen's ultimate motives. 

Life from life

An interesting principle in Gen 1 is that it takes life to make life. Unlike dead, impotent idols, the "living God" creates the world. And he makes living creatures who reproduce. So it takes one living thing to make another living thing. Life is transmitted from one living thing to another. Procreation is an act of sharing and transferring life from a being that's already alive. Regeneration involves the same principle on a spiritual plane.

This principle is illustrated in the creation of Adam (Gen 2:7), where the Angel of the Lord breathes into the inanimate body of Adam, thereby making it alive. 

Procreation is like a candlelight service, where one burning candle lights another candle until the sanctuary is flooded with candlelight. That's how the human race spread from a single breeding pair. 

"Doublets"

5 Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: 7 Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.”...9 Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Gen 37:5-7,9).

5 And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation (Gen 40:5).

After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2 and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows, attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. 3 And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4 And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5 And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6 And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. 7 And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream (Gen 41:1-7).

i) Traditionally, liberal scholars regard "doublets" as evidence for independent traditions which redactors edited into a single narrative. However, many of the "doublets" are clearly integral to the narrative. So that's a bad explanation. 

ii) More recently, scholars like Robert Alter regard "doublets" as literary devices. That suggests fictional conventions. 

iii) There is, however, a realistic explanation. The reason Joseph and Pharaoh both receive two related dreams is to confirm the message. Two different ways to say the same thing. It's similar to Peter's threefold vision, which is reiterated to lend certainty to the disclosure:

9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven (Acts 10:9-16).

Emphatic repetition underscores the revelatory, authoritative nature of the dream or vision. It's not a fluke or coincidence. Rather, there's a pattern. 

iii) The dreams of the baker and cupbearer aren't doubled. They have one dream apiece. Two dreamers. That's a "doublet" of sorts, but it has a different function. To begin with, their coordinated dreams indicate special providence. God sent and synchronized their dreams. In addition, the two dreams forecast divergent fates for the two dreamers. And the survivor belatedly brings Joseph to Pharaoh's attention. 

Blasphemous warrior cultures

Commenting on Gen 6:1-8:

Precisely the same three types of offenses committed by King Lamech are attributed to these figures: (1) Abuse of marriage. They collected in their royal harems "all that they chose" (v2). (2)…They filled the earth with violence (cf. vv5,11). (3) Blasphemous assumption of the name of deity. M. Kline, Genesis: A New Commentary (Hendrickson 2016), 31. 

That's a striking comparison. If the parallel holds, that suggests the Nephilim in Gen 6 are human rather than demonic. They don't spawn demigods. And that would be consistent with the human identity of Nimrod, who's described in terms evocative of that account (Gen 10:8ff.).

However, Kline's comparison needs to be fleshed out a bit. He does that somewhat in his comments on Lamech, in Gen 4:17-24 (p27).

That the Nephilim were polygamous or promiscuous is not explicit, although that's a typical M.O. of ancient pagan rulers (e.g. Gilgamesh). 

The violence motif is something they share in common with Lamech. The theme of blasphemy is more oblique.

On the one hand, Kline is alluding to the fact that God mandated sevenfold retribution for anyone who assaulted Cain, whereas Lamech insolently abrogates that standard and multiplies it exponentially (seventy-seven times) in reference to  his own sacrosanct person. There is a kind of deific hubris in that action. 

By itself, "sons of God" (or sons of gods) may not be blasphemous, but in the pagan-flavored context of Gen 6:1-8, it may well suggest heathen rulers who adopt an idolatrous royal mythology of divine pedigree (kings as demigods).  There are intriguing parallels with the thought-world of the Gilgamesh Epic and the Sumerian King List, reflecting the degenerate attitude of the Nephilim and the warrior culture they inaugurate. 

Kline defends his thesis in more detail in an early article, although his argument hasn't commanded widespread scholarly assent:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The right to bear arms: resources

http://benrcrenshaw.com/gun-bibliography-resources/

Game, set, match

Moreland on Licona and McGrew

JP doesn't have FB, so he asked me to post this for him. Definitely worth considering.

"I have just read Lydia McGrew's stunning, refreshing, rigorous, and powerful new book Hidden in Plain View. McGrew--who, along with her husband, Tim, is a professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University, and a deeply committed Christian--resurrects and further develops an argument for the historicity of the Gospels and Acts that has long been neglected. It is a must-read. However, just as or, perhaps, more importantly is her work in providing a first-rate, rigorous, thorough and amiable presentation and critique of an approach to NT historicity--especially in the Gospels and Acts--that sees various literary devices in the text that, whether intentionally or not, tends to undermine the historicity of the Gospels and Acts and eschews sophisticated harmonization attempts based on certain historical and legal forms of reasoning. Her specific target is Mike Licona. Licona is a friend of mine, but with scholarly objectivity, I believe his written views undermine NT historicity and, more importantly, are based on bad arguments and are academically inferior to an alternative approach. McGrew is the only first-rate scholar who has argued these points, quite successfully in my view, and I happily endorse her presentations available with this note. I urge you to read and view her arguments and pass all of this along to as many people as you can, including other websites." JP Moreland

Are there fictionalizing literary devices in the Gospels? Analytic philosopher Lydia McGrew presents convincing arguments against New Testament scholar Michael Licona. http://bit.ly/2oehP0o

Dr. Lydia McGrew has a great discussion of six bad habits of NT scholars and how to avoid them. http://bit.ly/2Fa707z

Dream act

Here's my side of an exchange I had with Darrell Bock on his recently article:


Darrell,

A chronic problem with your political articles is that you never engage the other side of the argument. You just assume that you're right. You just assume that people should see how reasonable your position is. 

Your articles are unconvincing to someone who doesn't already agree with you, because you make no attempt at rational persuasion. There's no indication that you've bothered to study the other side of the argument on gun rights. For instance:


If you wish to change minds, you need to show an awareness of the best arguments on the other side, and address their arguments.

Darrell,

You're politically naive. You personally may not believe in confiscation, but gun control advocates in general are pursuing an incremental strategy. They won't announce outright that they wish to disarm private citizens and confine gun possession to gov't agencies, but that's the goal. Hillary was praising the Australian model, which was a confiscation model. 

You imagine there's difference-splitting middle ground, but that's not the end-game for gun-control advocates. They won't stop there. We've had outright gun bans in big cities in blue states. 

It's like the debate over gay marriage. Proponents pursued an incremental strategy. They framed it in terms of "marriage equality". They said, "how does gay marriage have any effect on you?"

From their viewpoint, that was the noble lie. But once they got SCOTUS to invent a Constitutional right to gay marriage, they began driving Christians out of business.

That's the way it works in the real world, Darrell. They lie about their true intentions to make irreversible gains, then build on those gains.

Darrell, it's a familiar wedge tactic. 

BTW, what's wrong with citizens owning "assault rifles"? Why is it okay for police to use assault rifles to defend themselves, but not okay for civilians to use assault rilles to defend themselves? Why is it okay for police to use assault rifles to protect the public, but it's not okay for the public to use assault rifles to protect themselves? 

If you ban assault rifles, that creates a lucrative black market for banned weapons. The criminal class will still have access to assault weapons. And the criminal class will have private citizens outgunned, since you've prevented private citizens from having comparable weaponry.

i) Darrell, those are defensive as well as offensive weapons. Why do you think the police use them? To kill masses of people? 

ii) You and I are both old enough to remember a time when we didn't have mass shootings in school. Yet that was a time when there were high school gun clubs on campus. Boys brought guns to school. It's not access to guns that's the source of the problem, but a cultural change.

iii) It's kind of definitional that if you successfully eliminate guns, that will cut down on mass shootings. In reality, that just creates a black market for banned weapons, so the criminal class still has access.

But cutting down on mass shootings doesn't necessary cut down on mass killings. Take suicide bombers in Israel. Or vehicular jihad. Or all the people Tim McVeigh killed and maimed using fertilizer. Or knife attacks in China. Or the Sarin gas attack in Tokyo. 

Some killers plan months in advance.

Regarding Dreamers:

The parents gambled on breaking the law and getting away with it. Well, when you take a risk, sometimes you lose the bet.

Suppose a father or mother illegally obtains a property. That's where they begin to raise their kids. 

The rightful owner then gets a court order to have them evicted. It's a pity that the kids are caught in the middle, but we can't have a situation in which adults are allowed to game the system, then dare us to enforce the law because they use their own kids as human shields. 

There are illegal immigrants who cynically use the anchor baby principle, then dare authorities to deport them. But we're under no obligation to turn our country into a haven for looters. Illegal immigration is very costly to citizens who play by the rules.

The fact that they broke the law isn't my primary concern. Rather, I'm making the point that when you obtain a good by breaking the law, that's a calculated risk. You act as if that should be a risk-free endeavor, and it's somehow unfair or unjust for people to suffer the consequences if their gamble doesn't pay off.

It's like betting a horses. I take the risk of losing my bet. Should I be protected from not losing my money if I put money on a race horse and another horse wins?

Yes, children are not the guilty ones. But children often suffer the consequences of choices made by parents. Are you saying we should create a system in which kids are always insulated from the risky or foolish choices of their parents? 

Responsible wage-earners pick up the tab for cheaters. How is that fair?

Darrell, who is the "we" who invited them in? Was there a plebiscite in which the American electorate invited them in?

One of the problems with your position, Darrell, is that there's no logical cutoff on your principle. When illegal aliens know that if they just wait it it out long enough, their status will be normalized, that creates an insatiable chain of illegal immigration. 

Anchor babies are a wedge tactic. That's the point. They can always point to their kids, then people like you will always buckle. So your position reduces to an open borders policy. There's never a last time for amnesty, since the principle is unlimited. 

If a breadwinner supports his family through a criminal enterprise, and he's convicted, then his kids suffer. Does that mean we should never convict breadwinners?

Hedge maze

I'm going to comment on some related statements by A. J. Ayer. He was a prominent English atheist, not as famous as Russell, but also not as flippant. I'd note in passing that Russell and Ayer were both gifted children as well as emotionally neglected children. Both men were womanizers. As Paul Vitz has documented (Faith of the Fatherless), emotional neglect is a pathway to atheism. 

Nevertheless the vast majority of those who believe that the universe serves a purpose do so because they take this as conferring a meaning on life. How far down in the scale of organisms are they prepared to go is not always clear. The hymnodist Mrs. Alexander boldly strikes out with 'All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.' 

Even if life had a meaning in the sense that we have just been discussing, it would not be known to the persons who had faith in it, nor would they have any inkling of the part that their own lives played in the overall plan. It might, therefore, seem surprising that the question was so important to them. Why should it matter to them that they followed a course which was not of their own choosing as a means to an end of which they were ignorant? Why should they derive any satisfaction from the belief that they were puppets in the hands of a superior agent? I believe the answer is that most people are excited by the feeling that they are involved in a larger enterprise, even if they have no responsibility for its direction. A. J. Ayer, The Meaning of Life and Other Essays (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1990), 120,122.

i) One obvious answer is that God is infinitely wiser than we are, so he can devise far better plans for our lives than we can if left to our own devices. 

ii) To take a comparison, suppose a military unit is sent on a mission of pivotal strategic value. If successful, it will be a turning-point in the war effort. But their superiors don't inform team regarding the strategic value of the mission. They don't know that in advance. It's only after the war, with the benefit of hindsight, that they come to appreciate the critical significance of their role. Why does Ayer seem to assume that creatures need to know ahead of time what part their lives play in the overall plan? Why can't that be something they discover as they go along? Why can't that be retrospective rather than prospective? 

iii) Consider a father who builds a jungle gym in the backyard for his young sons. Or maybe a tree house. His kids didn't choose that playground equipment. Their father created that recreational opportunity for them. He gives their lives structure. Something fun to do. Something they couldn't imagine or construct on their own. Should they not derive satisfaction in the jungle gym or tree house because they didn't choose that course of action? 

iv) When a creative writer invents characters, he doesn't create them in a vacuum, with nothing to do. He also creates a setting and a plot. Should God make rational creatures without giving them any direction in life? Just blunder along without any sense of purpose? Thrown them into existence with no guidance, like feral children, to fend for themselves? 

What does he even mean by saying they have no inkling about their place in the great scheme of things? The Bible describes the origin, fall, redemption, and destiny of man. Indeed, that's the great narrative arc of Scripture.  

Sure, Ayer doesn't believe in God, but he needs to adopt a Christian viewpoint for the sake of argument to critique it. Yet he's made no effort to get inside that viewpoint. 

But now, it may be objected, suppose that the world is designed by a superior being. In that case the purpose of our existence will be the purpose that it realizes for him; and the meaning of life will be found in our conscious adaptation to his purpose…Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that everything happens as it does because a superior being has intended it should. As far as we are concerned, the course of events still remains entirely arbitrary. True, it can now be said to fulfill a purpose; but the purpose is not ours…It merely happens to be the case that the deity has the purpose that he has and not some other purpose, or no purpose at all. E. Klemke & S. Cahn, The Meaning of Life: A Reader (Oxford, 3rd. ed., 2008), 200.

Why does Ayer assume that God can have no good reason for intending one thing rather than another? Why assume the choice must be arbitrary rather than judicious? 

Nor does this unwarrantable assumption provide us even with a rule of life. For even those who believe most firmly that the world was designed by a superior being are not in a position to tell us what his purpose can have been. 

Scripture does provide a rule of life. Scripture contains many instructions about how to live. Scripture contains a roadmap about where to go, how to get there, and what to avoid. So what is Ayer talking about? Yeah, he doesn't believe in the Bible, but he makes no effort to refute Christianity on its own terms. It's like he never really thought about it. 

They may indeed claim that it has been mysteriously revealed to them, but how can it be proved that the revelation is genuine?

i) What makes  him think there's something mysterious about the process of divine revelation?

ii) There are various lines of evidence that Scripture is what it purports to be, viz. argument from prophecy, argument from miracles, archeological corroboration, answered prayer. 

Either his purpose is sovereign or it is not. If it is sovereign, that is, if everything that happens is necessarily in accordance with it, then this is true also of our behavior. Consequently, there is no point in our deciding to conform to it, for the simple reason that we cannot do otherwise. However we behave, we shall fulfill the purpose of this deity; and if we were to behave differently we should still be fulfilling it; for if it were possible for us not to fulfill it it would not be sovereign in the requisite sense. 

That confounds sovereignty with fatalism. However, predestination and providence employ multiple means to achieve the end. Opening doors, closing doors, incentives and disincentives. It's not whatever will be will be, for sovereignty coordinates ends and means. There's one particular pathway to the goal–like a hedge maze. 

But suppose that it is not sovereign…In that case, there is no reason why we should try to conform to it unless we independently judge it to be good. But that means the significance of our behavior depends  finally upon our own judgments of value; and the concurrence of a deity then becomes superfluous. 

That may be a valid critique of freewill theism.