Thursday, April 23, 2015

Is the research in support of same-sex marriage junk science?

On the big screen behind the balls of fire is the face of the big man telling you in a scary voice that scientific research supports the idea that children do just as well in same-sex marriages as in families with a biological mother and father. But Todo has pulled the curtain back and it turns out that all the pyrotechnics hide an uncomfortable truth: It's not true.

Like so many other claims that are "research-based," the claims of same-sex marriage advocates that science shows that children raised by "married" gay parents are just as well-served as children in families headed by the child's natural parents turn out to be based on questionable evidence.

Here is Gene Schaerr in the Daily Signal, commenting on the evidence offered by the politically compromised American Psychological Association and the American College of Pediatricians:
... [D]ozens of studies cited to support the so-called “scientific consensus” that the American Psychological Association claims, only eight meet scientific standards for population inference. The rest tell us nothing. 
Of these eight, the four older ones found no disadvantages for children raised by same-sex couples compared to other family structures. But as the recent American College of Pediatricians amicus brief shows, all four studies suffer an incurable flaw:  about half (40-60 percent) of the children they report as being raised with same-sex parents are actually children with opposite-sex parents, either because of coding errors, or problems with the census data on which the studies relied.
In the end, this “dirty data” problem either invalidates their findings, or makes relying on them extremely problematic.
This leaves only four studies that are methodologically sound. And as the American College of Pediatricians brief shows, all four—the four most recent—find that children do not fare as well when raised by same-sex couples as when raised by married, biological parents.
To the contrary, such children often experience significantly higher levels of events or conditions such as being arrested, using marijuana, being depressed, having a learning disability or other psychological or developmental problem—and are less likely to graduate from high school.  As adults, they are more likely to be unemployed, receive public assistance and to have an extramarital affair.
The fake evidence hides an ideology (a belief system impervious to evidence). Read more here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is Classical Education in Conflict with Reformed Protestantism? A second response to David Quine, Part I

A couple of years ago, I wrote a response to a presentation by David Quine, the author of the Cornerstone Curriculum, in which he argues against classical education. My response was based solely on a Powerpoint presentation on his website, but later learned that this was just a part of an actual talk Quine gives at home school conferences, called "The Pitfalls of Classical Education."

I pointed out the problems with his presentation, which were roughly as follows:

  • He tries to implicate classical education as a whole by citing the shortcomings of a few of its modern exponents and conflates classical education with their somewhat idiosyncratic beliefs, mistaking the whole for its parts;
  • He asserts a historical connection (without argument or evidence) between ethical and ontological relativism that simply does not exist;
  • He asserts not only that Greek and Roman philosophical and culture influences are fundamentally alien to Christian thought, but that such influences were absent historically until the Renaissance, in clear disregard of the fact that such influences have been a part of Jewish and Christian thought since before the writing of the New Testament.

In any case, a month or so ago, Quine posted a couple of comments on the post. He did not directly address any of my arguments or defend the problems with his presentation I cited in my post. I have also responded David's more recent comments, but he has yet to directly respond to them. This is first problem I am noticing in this discussion: that it is difficult to have a dialog if the other person does not directly address your arguments.

In fact, his chief concern seems to be to point out that I am a Catholic, hoping that in doing so Protestants will be scared away from classical education. This strategy not only does not make much logical sense, it ill serves the people he is seeking to enlighten on this subject.

His argument (nowhere stated but clearly implicit) seems to be this:
Some classical educators are Catholic
Therefore classical education is inherently Catholic
The problem with this inference should be obvious. It also ignores the fact that most modern classical educators are Protestants and that the modern neo-classical education movement was started by a prominent Reformed Protestant minister.

Again, this is my summary of what Quine seems to be saying, not his own words. Quine seems not to want to make his reasoning explicit, relying instead on innuendo, forcing me, in order to respond, to ferret out his actual reasoning.

If this is not his argument (or at least one of them), then I would be glad to be told exactly what it is in clear terms, but, again, this would require him to be clear and direct in his comments and responsive to the points I have already made. I really don't think I am being unfair or impolite in asking for this.

Quine has said a few other things in his comments (again, in the form more of assertions than arguments) that warrant a response. So what I propose to do is to respond to these in parts, the first of which is this post. I would be glad to have David respond or to clarify his position as we go along.

Here are the positions I will set forth:

  • That as a matter of history, philosophy, and theology, there are numerous beliefs which Christianity shares with the the best ideals of the Greeks and Romans and that the view that holds that the only relationship between the Christian and the classical is one of opposition is the view of an extreme Christian minority and is dwarfed by the almost unanimous voice of Christian thinkers since the earliest days of the Church.
  • That not only is classical education not historically or inherently Catholic, but that it is a shared inheritance of both Catholics and Protestants.
  • That the Protestant Reformers, far from opposing the great classical thinkers of Greece and Rome, were almost without exception classically trained themselves, close and mostly enthusiastic readers of the great works of the classical writers, in large part proponents of classical education, and, in several cases, classical educators themselves.

I would also submit that these positions are so well-established as to not even be debatable. If Quine is in disagreement with them, I would love to hear his arguments and his evidence. But in doing so, he needs to demonstrate that he has read outside the limited confines of the writings of Francis Schaeffer, a very influential 20th century Protestant writer he seems to rely on for most of his beliefs about these and other issues.

Schaeffer was a largely self-taught Reformed Protestant who had some insightful things to say about modern culture and I myself learned a great deal from him, but to rely on him as the chief source for history and theology  is not only to do him a disservice (I doubt if he himself would have advised it), but is to severely limit your knowledge of these subjects.

Classical education is the inculcation of wisdom and virtue. It consists of the study of the liberal arts and the great books of the classical and Christian West. If Quine is going to take the position that it is inconsistent with Christianity, then he is going to find himself at odds not only with historic Christianity, but with the Protestant Reformers themselves.

In the next post, we'll address the question of the historic relationship between the Church and classical thought throughout history.

Stan Cave's Greatest Hits: Can you have SSM without polygamy?

There is no legal net with holes small enough to prevent polygamy from getting through and yet large enough to allow for the free passage of same-sex marriage. You're stuck with both or neither. In this excerpt from Stan Cave's Supreme Court amicus brief, he points this out:
In Windsor it was the definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) which was at issue. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at p. 2683. In a larger sense, under a love and commitment standard advocated by the claimants, if the definition of marriage is federalized, States will also be required to recognize polygamous or polyamorous marriages among adults who claim to be in loving and committed relationships.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Saving Western Civilization, starring Tom Cruise

The following is my "Letter from the Editor" in the new Classical Teacher magazine:

About a year ago, Universal Pictures released the movie "Oblivion," starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. It is about a man and a woman (Cruise and Andrea Riseborough) stationed on a post-apocalyptic earth. They are charged with maintaining the drones which protect a number of orbiting installations, mining water for the human encampment now situated on one of Jupiter's moons.

Earth's moon has been blown up, devastating the earth, which is now barely livable. Cruise plays "Jack," who tries to keep the defensive drones operational in the face of constant attacks from roving bands of alien invaders called "scavs" (short for "scavengers"). Jack has had a memory wipe as a security precaution.

But one day while repairing a damaged drone, Jack is captured and knocked unconscious by the scavs. He wakes up tied to a chair under an intense light. A voice comes from out of the darkness:
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods.
Jack knows these words because on one of his missions he has discovered an old library, from which he has taken several books (in apparent violation of policy). One of them is Horatius at the Bridge, by Lord Macaulay. The scavs have seen him do this.

From the direction of the voice, we hear the lighting of a match, and we see the face of a man, the light of the match reflected in his goggles. It is Beech (played by Morgan Freeman). "We've been watching you, Jack," he says.

Far from being aliens, Beech explains, the scavs are really human survivors of the alien invasion. They tell the at-first-unbelieving Jack the real story of what has happened to the earth, and allow him to leave their encampment to find out for himself.

As the story progresses, we, along with Jack, find out that he is just one of many Jacks patrolling various parts of the earth, all seemingly identical clones, unaware of the others. The scavs were telling him the truth: Earth was taken over by aliens who are bleeding it dry of its resources. The only humans left are the scavs, who are huddled in caves in the earth, protecting what is left of humanity.

Jack has been fighting for the wrong side.

Beech has let him live because he knows of Jack's secret passion for these books and suspects that they have awoken something inside him. In reading them, Jack has been transformed from a memoryless copy of himself, unquestioningly following the orders of what he now knows to be the very creatures who have destroyed his civilization. A man who was the servant of machines has become a master of his own soul.

In the end, the now fully humanized Jack sacrifices himself in defense of the scavs, uttering Macauley's lines as he does so.

We are now in the process of producing a whole race of Jacks. If you doubt the truth of this charge, go look at the recent federal social studies standards, which include no historical content whatsoever.
We have been taken over by cultural aliens. We are producing memoryless copies of ourselves.

Lost in the mindless devotion to so-called "critical thinking skills" and "college and career readiness"—not to mention our servitude to machines—are the ancient stories and venerable truths that schools once taught as a matter of course—ideas and values that made us human, not just cogs in an economic machine.

Classical education's purpose is not to teach job skills or to reform society, although without aiming at these goals it achieves them better than these other methods do. Classical education is about passing on our culture. If we don't do it, we risk a world as culturally desolate as the physical world Jack sacrifices himself to save.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Rubio Recants: The latest Republican retreat on social issues

Marco Rubio, Republican presidential candidate, paid obeisance to the Gender Gods on Meet the Press yesterday by declaring: "I also don't believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people ... In fact, the bottom line is I believe sexual preference is something that people are born with."

Now the first question of course is how, if something is a "preference," you could be "born" with it.

Talk about having it both ways.

But more fundamentally, this is something that Republican politicians, now largely bereft of moral courage, think they most do: appear before the Liberal Media Inquisition and repudiate their long-held principles and declare they are hip to the new gender ideology and willing to fully cooperate in the dismantling of the scheme of Judeo-Christian moral system they claimed just several years ago to champion.

And oh how little it takes to make these people spill their guts before the new Torquemadas. Let's just be glad they are not the repositories of state secrets fallen into enemy hands: The merest discomfort would break them.

Little does Rubio know that, after having just given his inquisitors what he thinks they wanted—a confession of acceptance of one of their chief dogmas about human sexuality: that "sexual orientation" is "something you are born with"—he will then be required during the next interrogation (when the subject turns to transgender ideology or "sexual identity") to confess exactly the opposite—that sexuality is a matter of how you "choose" to "identify").

He's halfway to 2 + 2 = 5.

So Scott Walker walks in to a same-sex marriage reception ...

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says that he attended the same-sex wedding reception of a relative, even though he disagrees with same-sex marriage.

I'm wondering what would have been the response during the last election had Mitt Romney, a Mormon, admitted that he had been to the reception of a polygamous marriage of a relative even though he disagrees with polygamy.

Would that have been more or less controversial than Walker's revelation? If so, why? Is there any reason it should be?

Is Genderless Marriage a Constitutional Right? More excerpts from Family Foundation's Supreme Court brief

More excerpts from Stan Cave's Family Foundation's brief in the Supreme Court case to be argued later this month:
In short, the claimants' argument is that children do not and have never needed a father and a mother, that genderless marriage is a constitutionally protected right and that State laws which do not recognize that right are unconstitutional. Such arguments are self-centered and selfish in their disregard for children. They are also contrary to well-settled precedent and the fact that the Fourteenth Amendment does not require States to recognize marriage generally and same-sex marriage specifically.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What Same-Sex Marriage Denies Children: Excerpts from Family Foundation's Supreme Court Amicus Brief

We will be running excerpts from The Family Foundation's amucus brief as we approach the oral arguments on Kentucky's Marriage Protection Amendment before United States Supreme Court on April 28. In this first excerpt, Family Foundation attorney Stan Cave explains what the case is really about:
This case is about marriage, parenting and children. Same-sex marriage withholds either a father or a mother while telling the child that it does not matter—that it is all the same; but it is not the same. Gay marriage not only redefines marriage, it also redefines parenting. Same-sex marriage purports to normalize a family structure that necessarily deprives children of something precious and foundational—either a father or a mother. Gay marriage denies children something they long for while at the same time telling children they do not need what they naturally crave. Claimants say it will be okay—but it is not.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

One way Christian merchants can deal with the New Intolerance

My former co-worker, Andrew Walker, has a priceless article at First Things, in which he proposes one way that bakers, photographers, and florists can deal with the Tolerance Police who will now force them to violate their consciences in violation of First Amendment protections. Here is his proposed policy for a Christian baker:
So, we will serve same-sex wedding services. We will do so unhappily and with a bothered conscience. But if we must do so with a bothered conscience, we reserve the right as a condition of the marketplace to bother others' consciences as well. If we are coerced into baking for events we disagree with, we will return the favor and use the funds of those we disagree with to fund the organizations they disagree with. If you are unhappy with this new policy or it conflicts with your own convictions about marriage, we invite you to take your business elsewhere.
The whole article is excellent. Read it here.

And I'll add the point that any person coming to a Christian baker and realizing he is violating the owner's conscience by asking them to do this (or anything else, really) and demanding it anyway when he could easily go somewhere else and get the same service really must have some issues he needs to deal with. I just can't imagine the lack of consideration and common politeness that would impel a person to do that, knowing what your beliefs are.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Rolling Stone Magazine's Credibility, RIP

Another media narrative bites the dust: The Atlantic pronounces Last Rites over Rolling Stone magazine's credibility, after the magazine not only completely ignored basic rules of journalism in its bogus story of fraternity rape at UVA, but refuses to acknowledge that something is seriously wrong at the magazine:

Despite the high-profile scandal caused by "Rape on Campus," Rolling Stone insisted after the report's publication that the errors did not result from systematic error, and thus would require no change to operating procedure. The magazine also announced that Erdely, Dana, Woods, and other personnel responsible for the article would not be fired. Dana also said that the story would have not have broader consequences for media coverage of rape.

Read more here.

Ann Coulter: "Every single cause championed by liberals is based on a fake story"

Ann Coulter on the liberal's new anti-religious freedom crusade:
Having won the war on gay marriage (by judicial fiat), now some liberal zealots insist on going house-to-house and shooting the survivors. They seem to seek out Christian businesses to provide floral arrangements and cakes for gay weddings so they can call the cops if the Christians try to pass. 
A roomful of gays would say, "Why don't you guys just go to one of the nine out of 10 florists who would be happy to have your business?" (My guess is, if the zealots looked really hard, they might even be able to find a gay florist!)  
That is all the religious freedom laws do: Encourage steely-eyed activists to stop requiring every last Christian to celebrate gay marriages. 
...Do not assume that because liberals are in an absolute panic over Indiana's law, they must have a point. To the contrary, the more hysterical they are, the more you should assume the whole story is a sham.
Read more here.