Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Christianity

A Critique of Sam Harris

Over at Current Affairs, Nathan Robinson and Eli Massey have written the critique of Sam Harris. Robinson offers a magisterial, detailed overview of the rhetorical sleights of hand Harris uses to give relatively weak, unoriginal positions the imprimatur of “science” and “reason”. I want to add something to this discussion–something Robinson touches on but which I want to stay with for a minute. There is a core problem with the way Harris thinks which necessarily generates bad takes on Islam and the Muslim world.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jordan Peterson is a Garden Variety Christian Existentialist

A few people have asked me lately–what do I think of Jordan Peterson? Peterson is a Canadian psychologist who has written a book called 12 Rules for Life. He’s become very popular on YouTube and generated something of a following. I can see why–the particular kind of philosophy he’s advocating is unfamiliar to many people and feels transgressive in a modern context. But it’s an old kind of philosophy which dates back to the 19th century and takes its inspiration from Soren Kierkegaard. It’s called “Christian Existentialism”. Here’s how it works.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kim Davis: When Civil Disobedience is Used for Evil

Kim Davis has just been released from prison. Davis is the infamous Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Clerks are elected (bizarrely, Davis was elected as a democrat), so Davis cannot be summarily fired. Instead, she was taken to court and ordered to issue the licenses. She appealed, but the Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal. She continued refusing to issue licenses anyway, and was jailed for five days for contempt of court. She vows to continue refusing to issue licenses. So far, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (another democrat) has declined to appoint a special prosecutor to charge Davis with misconduct. When Davis was released from prison, she was greeted by throngs of supporters led by US Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Ted Cruz was also in attendance, but Huckabee’s people succeeded in marginalizing him. The reaction from people to this has been very interesting–nearly everyone is being a hypocrite about Kim Davis (including Kim Davis), on all sides.

Read the rest of this entry »

Candidate Evaluations: Mike Huckabee

Recently, Mike Huckabee decided to run for president. This means another entry in the Candidate Evaluations series–where we examine a US presidential candidate’s background, policy history, and explicit statements in an attempt to figure out whether the candidate would actually be any good at being president, rather than focusing on electability or likeability, as is common in the mainstream press. There have been quite a few of these, and if the rumor mill holds any truth, there will be quite a few more before the race is over. Previously, we’ve covered:

Read the rest of this entry »

On Free Speech and Religion, Pope Francis’s Views are Part of the Problem

Pope Francis recently made some comments about the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Unfortunately, the view he expresses is precisely the view I took issue with a few days ago, blaming the attack on the proximal cause (the cartoons) instead of on the wider socioeconomic inequities that drive alienated people into the arms of violent extremism. But that’s not even the end of it–there’s quite a bit wrong with what the pope said, when we examine it closely.

Read the rest of this entry »