I often receive complaints from atheists about the HYPERLINK "https://carm.org/dictionary-god" God of Christianity. They accuse Him of being a monster and a moral tyrant.
They just don't like Him. Apparently there isn't enough room in the world for two moral judges: God and themselves. So, they want to dismiss God and judge Him. Okay, so what gives them to right to judge God? Where is their standard from which they base their moral assertions about what is right and wrong? The problem is that they can't produce any objective standard. They only have their subjective opinions and that is a problem–a big problem.
Let's just take a look at their dilemma. You see, if an atheist wants to complain about the God of the Bible, that is his privilege. I will defend his right to have an opinion – even such a stupendously wrong one. But what logical argument can an atheist provide that would justify his saying that anything God does really is wrong? Think about it. The atheist could only have three possible options for the source of a moral standard:
He can develop a moral standard out of his own opinions.
He can adopt the moral standards of society.
He can use a combination of his own opinions and the morals of society.
Other than those three, I don't see any other options. So, let's take a look at them.
Atheism lacks the ability to account for our existence.
Atheism lacks the ability to account for our existence. Where did the universe – and we – come from? Atheism can only offer an impersonal cause. But an impersonal cause that precedes the universe must have always possessed the necessary and sufficient conditions to bring the universe into existence. If this pre-existing cause always existed, then it always possessed these conditions. But this necessitates an automatic generation of the universe because when the necessary sufficient conditions are there, the result is automatic. But this means the universe would have been created an infinitely long time ago. But the universe is not infinitely old, therefore, the impersonal cause of the universe cannot be supported from the atheist perspective.
Atheism lacks the ability to account for moral absolutes.
Without moral absolutes, all morality is subjective. Subjective morality cannot be defended as "the right" moral system. Therefore, when atheists object to something on a moral basis, they must either offer their own personal opinions (why should their opinions be the right one?) or they must borrow from the Christian worldview's position on absolute right and wrong.
But, if they offer their moral opinion, why is it valid? Is this a society that says something is right, then what happens when a society's opinions changes? Do truth values and morals change? If they appeal to any absolute right or wrong at all, they're going against their own worldview and assuming the validity of the Christian one. Either way, atheism lacks the ability to account for moral absolutes. It can only offer moral subjectivity which is ultimately anarchy.
When atheists ask for material evidence for a nonmaterial God, they are committing a logic error called a Category Mistake since immateriality (God) and materiality are different categories. The Christian God by definition is immaterial and transcends the universe and is not dependent upon it nor subject to its properties. Therefore, if atheists really want evidence for God (puerile mocking aside), then the atheists should look for evidence that has transcendental, immaterial properties. Transcendental evidence would be phenomena that are not dependent upon the physical realm, or in other words, they would not be repeatable and or discoverable through examining the material world.
Transcendental evidences are those things not dependent on the physical realm, i.e., the Laws of Logic, absolute morality, super complex information structures. First, the Christian God by definition exists outside of our space and time. He transcends them. When atheists require physical/repeatable evidence for God based on material phenomena, that is a category mistake.
We don't find God under a rock or discover Him in a chemistry lab. Second, properties are attributes of things. If a property exists, it must be the property of something else. So, if we can find transcendent properties in the universe, then it would make sense to say that we have found evidence of transcendent things. If we find transcendent abstractions, it implies a transcendent mind since abstractions require minds. Third, some transcendent abstractions are such things as the Laws of Logic.
They are not based on human thought (lest they be conventions), nor are they properties of the physical realm (physical properties are measurable and the Laws of Logic are not). These Laws are statements, abstractions. Fourth, when atheists accuse the God of Scripture of being a moral monster, they are appealing to moral absolutes that transcend our realm and apply universally, otherwise, atheists have no right to assert that God is wrong without appealing to their personal subjectivity which is meaningless.
But such an absolute moral appeal is an appeal to transcendent morals which are abstractions because they are statements of how things "ought" to be. Fifth, when atheists appeal to such universal, transcendent abstractions whether in Logic or Morals, they are working from the Christian perspective while arguing against the Christian perspective. But this is self-refuting. That which is self-refuting, cannot be true. Therefore, the atheist ought to abandon his atheism. Deaths Under the Atheist's watch
Deaths of people under the Atheists' watch: Joseph Stalin – 42,672,000, Mao Zedong – 37,828,000, Chiang Kai-shek – 10,214,000, Vladimir Lenin – 4,017,000, Hideki Tojo – 3,990,000, Pol Pot – 2,397,000.
Materialistic Atheism is self-refuting
The perspective of materialistic atheism is self-refuting. Here's why. The human brain is restricted to physical laws. Therefore, it will automatically respond in a predictable way based upon brain wiring and stimulus. This would mean that given the exact same circumstances, the exact same responses would always occur. This negates free will since every time the exact same circumstance arise, the exact same response must occur.
The person is not free to choose differently. Furthermore, he has no reason to trust his thoughts about reality, God, himself, others, or experiences since he cannot justify his own free will or that his conclusions are correct. Therefore, materialistic atheism is self-refuting. Materialistic atheism could never be known to be the right position to hold if the brain is merely reacting according to the physical requirements that govern it.
Responding to Atheist Statements about God.
"I lack belief in a God."
If you say that atheism is simply lack of belief in a god, then my cat is an atheist the same as the tree outside and the sidewalk out front since they also lack faith. Therefore, your definition is insufficient.
Lacking belief is a non-statement because you have been exposed to the concept of God and have made a decision to accept or reject. Therefore, you either believe there is a God, or you do not, or you are agnostic. You cannot remain in a state of "lack of belief."
If you lack belief in God, then why do you go around attacking the idea of God? If you also lack belief in invisible pink unicorns, why don't you go around attacking that idea?
"I believe there is no God."
On what basis do you believe there is no God?
"I don't believe there is a God."
Why don't you believe there is no God?
"There is no God."
You cannot logically state that there is no God because you cannot know all things so as to determine that there is no God.
"There is no proof that God exists."
To say that "there is no proof for God's existence" is illogical because an atheist cannot know all things by which he could state that there is no proof. He can only say that he has not yet seen a convincing proof, after all, there may be one he hasn't yet seen.
"All of Science has never found any evidence for God."
That is a subjective statement. There are many scientists who affirm evidence for God's existence through science.
Your presupposition is that science has no evidence for God but that is only an opinion.
Science looks at natural phenomena through measuring, weighing, seeing, etc. God by definition is not limited to the universe. Therefore, it would not be expected that physical detection of God would be found.
"What is God?" or "Define God."
God is the only Supreme Being who is unchanging, eternal, holy, and Trinitarian in nature. He alone possesses the attributes of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.
He alone brought the universe into existence by the exertion of His will.
"Prove your God is real."
I can no more prove to you that God is real than I can prove to you that I love my family. If you are convinced I don't love my family, no matter what I say or do will be dismissed by you as invalid. It is your presuppositions that are the problem, not whether or not God exists.
I can no more prove to you that God is real than you can prove that the universe is all that exists. Your demand of proof precludes acknowledgement of many types of evidence because your presuppositions don't allow it.
The universe exists. It is not infinitely old. If it were, it would have run out of energy long ago. Therefore, it had a beginning. The universe did not bring itself into existence.
Since it was brought into existence by something else, I assert that God is the one who created the universe.
When the atheist complains, ask him to logically explain the existence of the universe. Point out that opinions and guesses don't count.
Responding to Atheist Statements about the Bible.
"The Bible is full of contradictions."
Saying the Bible is full of contradictions does not mean it is so. Can you provide a contradiction that we can examine in context?
Responding to Atheist Statements about Evolution and Naturalism.
"Evolution is a fact."
That depends on if it is micro or macro. Micro variations occur, but macro variations (speciation) have not been observed. The best we have are fossils, and they have to be interpreted. Besides, there are plenty of gaps in the fossil record.
Have you read any books that discuss the contrary evidence to evolution? If not, then how can you say that you are educated enough to say it is a fact?
"Naturalism is true, therefore, there is no need for God."
Naturalism is the belief that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws. If all things were explainable through natural laws, it does not mean God does not exist since God is by definition outside of natural laws since He is the creator of them.
Responding to Atheist Statements about Truth.
"There are no absolute truths."
To say there are no absolute truths is an attempt to state an absolute truth. If your statement is true, then it is self-contradictory and not true, and you are wrong.
Most atheists just hate God and the idea of there possibly being a God. So, their atheism is more of a reactionary response betraying stubborn denial rather than an independent psychological of spiritual conviction. So, you see, it's not that you don't believe in God; it's just that He bothers you. You can't stomach having to account to Him.
You think you know better. You have taken it upon yourself to accuse, try, and sentence Him. It's not that you don't believe in God. You hate God.
This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.
The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.
The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.
Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.
We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.
More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.
The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the market.
Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.
We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?
Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?
Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?
They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?
What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?
They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?
We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?
To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?
Batswana must be made aware that the end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.
For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with the arduous imperative of analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.
Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.
Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute in Botswana is overdue.
If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.
Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.
Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.
Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.
Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.
Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.
The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.
So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.
The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.
We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.
They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.
As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.
Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme. WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org
The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.
As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.
I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.
I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?
Counting the cost of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.
It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.
Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.
The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.
Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.
By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.
Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org