Follow Up to “Human Life’

Since posting the essay below, I’ve stumbled across two additional videos out of China/Asia relevant to the subject of how different cultures with different spiritual foundations place starkly different levels of value on human life.

One, which I will not share, is of a newborn girl in China being killed. Because she is a girl.

The second one, has a far more hopeful outcome. It is a newborn girl, somewhere in either Laos or Vietnam. She was buried alive by her family moments after she was born. But neighbors (Christian?) quickly dug her up and rescued her. The video begins just moments after she was rescued.

She’s beautiful and seems okay. Please pray for her to find a loving home. Perhaps an adoptive home in a Western nation still enjoying the extraordinary benefits of the legacy effects of Christianity’s influence.

Why We Value Human Life

Great-grandmother (89) meets great-grandaughter (9 mos.)

You can see terrible things on the Internet. And once you see something, you can’t unsee it.

Last week I stumbled across a video that I wish I hadn’t. Having watched it, I can’t stop thinking about it. And having thought about, it’s made me mindful of something very important and relevant about this particular moment in history.

That “moment” is one in which powerful forces are endeavoring to pull down and replace as many aspects of Western civilizational heritage as possible, and do so in the name of justice and equality. There’s a great and terrible irony in that, which I’ll get to in a moment.

The video I saw was security camera footage of a side street in the major Chinese city of Foshan. (My sincere apologies in advance for what I’m about to share with you. As horrific as this description will sound, it’s actually worse than what I’ll describe. And I will not be linking to it. You’ll just have to take my word for it.)

Although I’d never seen it or heard about, I’ve since learned that the video was leaked and went viral back in late 2011. (<-Wikipedia article)

The now infamous surveillance camera footage of a busy street shows a two year old little girl, Wang Yue, toddling out into the street and standing there for a moment before being hit by a very slow moving delivery van.

The child is knocked down and then the front, passenger side tire runs over her body. The puzzled driver pauses for a few seconds. The proceeds so that the rear tire also runs over her. I wish I could tell you that this is the worst of it.

The child lies in the street, moving perceptibly, as dozens of people walk by without stopping. One man literally steps over the toddler. There are people everywhere, but no one helps. No one intervenes.

Eventually, a another truck comes into view.

When watching the the video for the first time, you think, “Oh good, this driver will stop and get out of the truck to check on the child lying in the street.”

Oh, how I wish that was what happens.

The truck slows momentarily to assess the obstacle, and then keeps moving forward. The driver doesn’t even make an attempt to steer around little Yue.

She doesn’t move any more after that. But people continue to walk by her and around her, as if she’s not there.

As it turns out the video became a national embarrassment in China, and a horror and a byword around the world. But it illustrated a truth that many of us have known for a long time. Human life is cheap in China.

The fact is, human life is cheap in lots of places around the world. I’ve visited many of them. I’ve been to places where the locals think nothing of seeing a human body lying in a ditch or floating down the river.

Most of us who were born into Western cultures were raised with an ethic that assumed every human life was signficant. Even the lives of people we don’t know. We share a core cultural sensibility that human life is distinctly precious.

Even after 47 years of legalized abortion in the U.S., we’re still not comfortable with it as a culture. Christians (for the most part) oppose it. Feminists and Progressives reveal their discomfort with it by creating euphemisms like “lump of tissue” to avoid having to think about what they’re really talking about. There’s a deeply ingrained civilizational reason for that.

It’s the same reason the videoed death of George Floyd blew open a hole of horror and disgust so wide in the American public’s psyche, that Progressives, Marxists, and anarchists sensed (correctly apparently) that they could drive anything on their wish list through it.

And a long and ambitious wish list it is. Sensing the opportunity in the widespread revulsion at the taking of the life of a helpless black man, the enemies of Western culture blew right past police reform, and even past meaningful racial reconciliation, in order to advance a more radical agenda of symbolically and actually pulling down the Christianity-rooted civilization that has made the United States a land of opportunity and promise for numerous generations seeking a better life.

Yes, our esteem for human life is a product of that culture. But we take it for granted. And we think that most people all over the world hold that truth to be self evident, too. They don’t.

They don’t in the sprawling red light districts of Bombay and Calcutta. They don’t in the militia camps of the Congo. They don’t in the palaces of Saudi royalty. And they don’t in the work camps of China.

We also tend to think that this is the way people have always thought, but a review of history will reveal that this is not the case.

In all places and all times, human life has usually carried the same value as it did for those people stepping over the crushed body of a dying toddler.

Offering an infant to Molech.

It was true of the ancient Greeks. The Spartans famously required the city leaders to examine every newborn child to determine if it was fit to live.

Likewise, Aristotle argued that parents should be compelled by law to expose deformed or handicapped babies. To “expose” an infant was to abandon it on the city’s garbage heap so wild animals or the elements would kill him or, more commonly, her.

I recall reading a translation of a letter written by a Roman soldier in 1 B.C. The soldier was deployed far away from his pregnant wife. After encouraging her to take care of herself and the unborn child growing within her, he writes, “If you have the baby before I return, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, expose it.”

Early Christians in many Roman cities used to check the preferred exposure sites daily in order to rescue and raise abandoned babies . . . who were usually girls.

Girl babies back then, as now in many places around the world, are killed without a thought. But not in the U.S.. Not yet, anyway, although we now have our advocates for sex selection abortions and terminations for imperfect babies. But these advocates have clearly rejected the traditions of Western (Christian) Civilization.

Even so, we are still a culture that values life. It’s why, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, our default response as a society is to risk impoverishing millions in order to preserve the lives of thousands. Even if a good number of those thousands were likely to die in the next year or so anyway.

That’s how much we value life as a culture. So, where does this ethic come from?

Certainly not from Eastern cultures. Not from Marxist ideology. Not from paganism. No, it is a legacy of a Christian heritage that, in ways unique among all the civilizations that currently exist, or have ever existed, holds human life to be precious.

As historian Tom Holland has noted in his extraordinary new book, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World . . .

To live in a Western country is to live in a society still saturated by Christian concepts and assumptions. 

Even while our Western system of values is being rejected and vilified by several generations of Americans, that legacy persists. It’s in our cultural DNA. For the moment, anyway.

That brings me to the irony that I mentioned above.

Those pulling down the statues of “dead white men” and calling for an end to our economic and political “systems of oppression” are attacking the very thing that best produces the things they say they value most. 

For example, whereever the seeds of the gospel have taken root and flourished, cultures have emerged in which the value of human life rose. How could a faith built on “God so loved the world . . .” produce anything else.

When the New Covenant transforms a critical mass of people for multiple generations in a place, the status of women invariably rises. They go from being treated like property or children—as is the case in many cultures throughout history and across the world today–to enjoying largely the same rights as men. How could a Kingdom that affrims that “in Christ there is neither male nor female” have any other effect?

Slavery? The abolitionist cause rose and grew in Great Britain largely through the empire’s pulpits and prayer meetings. Then the same in the fledgling, expanding United States. Ultimately, the British Empire became the world’s most powerful force for ending the slave trade. And the United States fought one of history’s bloodiest civil wars over ending its expansion.

How could worship of a King who described His mission as proclaiming release to the captives and setting free the oppressed result in any other ethic?

Even the “animal rights” movement could (but won’t) see its ethical forerunner in the churches of Great Britain. The same men and women who formed the spiritual and intellectual hub of the abolitionist movement in Great Britain—William Wilberforce, Hannah More, et.al.,—voiced the first calls for “animal welfare” reform. And Christians wrote the world’s first animal cruelty laws in Ireland, England, and the American colonies.

Well, that’s not quite true. The first codified prohibition against animal cruelty is in the Bible. (See: Ex. 23:5; Lev. 22:8; Deut. 22:6; Deut. 25:4; Prov. 12:10)

Of course, the Christian ethic of championing animal welfare has mutated in our time into a belief in animal rights. That’s a very different thing.

That shift began in earnest back in the ’60s and ’70s. Back then, in their youth, the Boomer generation that runs most of the country’s institutions today, convinced themselves (with a lot of spiritual help) that the Western foundation that had delivered so much progress wasn’t bringing change fast enough. That, in fact, it was the problem, rather than the solution.

So they embraced modernized versions of Eastern religions. Those religions hold that “all” life is equally precious. That the life in insects and reptiles and chickens is no less sacred than the life of a child.

Jesus once rebuked the Pharisees saying, “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matt. 23:24)

It appears that in Jesus’ time, some of the ancient Pharisees had adopted a practice very similar to followers of the Jain religion in India–they drank water through a piece of cloth so as to not accidentally ingest a tiny insect such as a gnat.

The Pharisees did this because insects were unclean, forbidden food according to Levitical law. The Jain do this to this day because they are not permitted to take animal life in any form. For this same reason, they are not allowed to eat after dark because this might involve accidently swallowing a gnat.

The fruit of this ethic and similar ones is evident throughout the cultures rooted in Eastern religions. Elevating the value of animal life has the effect of diminshing the value and uniqueness of human life.

Thus we have exchanged the Christian, compassionate animal welfare ethic for a pagan religious paradigm that invariably results in death and misery for humanity. It’s no coincidence that places where this is the deeply-rooted dominant view are among the worst places on earth to be born poor, or a girl.

Which brings us to an unpleasant, under-appreciated reality.

The only alternative to the Western heritage currently under assault is— paganism. Not modernism. Paganism. Modernism is an expression and effect of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

In a very real sense, the battle lines currently being formed are about the re-paganization of the West. (Please note the number of wiccan, druid, neo-pagan, and gaia worshippers in the ranks of the Progressive vanguard.)

And that means that just a lttle farther down this path, a lot of very sweet, very well-meaning pastors and Christians who, with the best of intentions, have embraced this “social justice” moment are about to find themselves in an awkward position.

They will discover they’ve unwittingly become a part of the furious hacking at the limb we’re all sitting on and, in the process, having weakened the very institutions that hold out the best hope for advancing justice and equality . . . and life . . . for everyone.

Please, just stop.

Remedial Reading

In the previous post, I pointed out that two versions of a single book have contributed mightily to the mal-education of at least three generations of Americans. (See also this article about Zinn’s book in the Claremont Review of Books.)

In the spirit of lighting a candle rather than merely cursing the darkness, I’d like to suggest some books for any person looking for an antidote to the poison of Howard Zinn.

At the risk of being a little too “on the nose” you could do worse that this. It Graber’s book is well-written, meticulously researched, and more than a little infuriating to read. But it’s important. This is the clearest, quickest pathway to cleansing the system of the Zinn toxin.

Nevertheless, it’s impossible to understand the history of the United States apart from the history of Western Civilization, and how that civilazation was shaped by Christianity. That’s why I would suggest that anyone wanted a basic grid rooted in reality rather than ideological fantasy, to start with this newly published book:

The UK’s Tom Holland (no relation) is one of our most remarkable living historians. That’s the cover of the UK verions above. The subtitle of the version published in the United states is: “How the Christian Revolution Remade the World.”

Both subtitles are appropriate because Holland persuasively proves that much of what has driven the upward progress that we all take for granted was made possible because Christianity spread throughout Europe and rooted itself deeply.

It also reveals how our system of values—including the values that liberals generally hold most dear—all are a legacy of the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A shorter book that does similar work is Professor Rodney Stark’s book, The Victory of Reason.

As for a truly accurate, warts-and-all, history of the United States as an alternative to the Howard Zinn’s Maoist smear job, I’d suggest beginning with:

This history was actually crafted as a corrective response to Zinn’s anti-Western propaganda.

Finally, you can’t go wrong with Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People.

No teachers or university professors will be assigning the books above. No documentarians influenced by these books will be featured on Netflix. No celebrities or pop stars will be repackaging their truths for a broader, younger audience.

You’ll just have to read them for yourself. I hope you will.

I’m Offering to Write Your Life Story

I have a proposition for you. I am a (reasonably) successful professional writer. Among my specialties is biography. I’ve ghostwritten dozens of biographies and histories. And even published a few under my own name. For example . . .

In other words, I know how to compellingly tell the story of a life. So, here’s my amazing offer:

I’m going to write your biography. For free.

That’s right. I’m going to tell your life story at no charge. There are just a couple of little stipulations I need you to agree to before we get started. I’m sure you won’t mind.

I’m going to exhaustively research every aspect of your life, but only write about your worst moments. The only things that will appear in the narrative will be the times you were being the very worst version of yourself. The times you were selfish. The days you were unkind or uncaring or just downright mean and vindictive. And we all have plenty of those moments in our histories, am I right?

Yes, I know even the best of us are imperfect. We’re all “works in progress” whose lives consist of a complicated mix of good and evil. And you’ve clearly done a lot good. Nevertheless, the only things that will make the pages of the book called “Your Story” will be the times you didn’t live up to what you professed to believe. The times you looked like nothing but a big, fat hypocrite.

I’m sorry, but that stuff, and only that stuff, will be what strangers and future generations will come to know about you.

I’m not going to sugar-coat this. This project will require ignoring your virtues, and you have many. It will require pretending that you’ve never helped anyone, even though you’ve done that often through the years. It will require pretending that you’ve never sacrificed yourself for others, though you frequently have.

To be honest, in spite of your flaws, you’ve been one of the most noble and honorable people I know. You’ve been responsible for a lot of good in the world. And have inspired many others to good things as well. Unfortunately, that will not be the impression that strangers take away from reading your story.

Actually, it’s worse than that. In telling your story, I’m going to attribute evil motives and sinister intentions to even your most benign and mundane actions.

I’m so sorry, but I must misrepresent not only what you’ve done but also why.

I’m not going to lie to you. The finished book will be a grotesque, lop-sided caricature of who you really are. People who really know you well will recognize this. But casual acquaintances, strangers and future generations will believe this is who you really were. So . . .

How about it? Shall we get started? No?

Well, over the last few decades, something very similar, but in some ways even worse, has befallen the United States.

Forty years ago, someone wrote a biography of the United States that is precisely like the one I just propoosed writing for you. Except this one is even less factual. This is that history:

Zinn did not write a “warts and all” history of our nation. He wrote a “warts only” version. And a maliciously dishonest one at that. First published in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected, this book has become the primary source of information for several generations of Americans.

Once this became one of the most influential and succssful history books of all time, Zinn rolled out a version for high school students.

a.k.a., The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Godless Marxism

Wikipedia informs us that: “Zinn described himself as ‘something of an anarchist, something of a socialist. Maybe a democratic socialist.'” What his book reveals is that Zinn was, as most Marxists are, thoroughly and utterly hostile to the traditions of Western Civilization . . . particularly those rooted in Christianity.

Even before Zinn wrote his book, this fan of Mao’s nightmarish reign of terror in China (btw, Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” killed 45 million in just four years) was profoundly influential on the young, flag-burning campus radicals of the late ’60s and early ’70s who drank deeply from the well of the twin theologies of Marxism and anti-Christian eastern mysticism.

And those campus radicals grew up to become the tenured college professors, news editorial board members, and film makers of the ’90s and ’00s.

As a result, Zinn’s books became required reading in the public schools and the nation’s univeristies. In recent decades, if students read only one “biography” of America, this was it. And it is 776 pages of dishonest and relentlessly negative Marxist, anti-Western propaganda.

It’s difficult to overstate the book’s influence. Countless “activists,” teachers, social workers, journalists, filmmakers, and actors have built their entire worldview on it’s distortions, misrepresentations, and carefully filtered half-truths.

Millions of those who have never read it, have nevertheless been schooled by those who absorbed and believed every word.

Thus, Zinn and his book have influenced and/or formed the basis of scores of documentaries. Its deeply flawed assumptions have informed the plots of innumerable movies and preachy television episodes.

Zinn’s book even made a cameo appearance in Ben Affleck’s and Matt Damon’s academy-award-winning 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting.

As I said, all this has been going on for four decades. So, why do I mention it now?

Because I’ve heard many genuinely bewildered people wondering out loud over the last couple of weeks about where all these young Americans who despise America came from.

The answer is we produced them. We’ve been incubating them through our schools, media, and popular culture for decades. They’ve been assured all their lives by teachers, pop stars, and activist-posing-as-journalists that this flawed but extraordinary miracle of a place called America is well and truly monstrous.

For example, Howard Zinn’s ideological DNA permeates the New York Times’ twisted “1619 Project” that has animated and (mis)informed so much of the current social turbulence.

Yet for those of us who have been around a while, these current events have a very familiar look and feel.

That’s because we hatched a crop of Zinn disciples roughly 10 years ago that manifested as the “Occupy” movement. The agenda then was the same Marxist wish list as now. The downfall of capitalism; environmentalism as the official state religion; and the enshrinement of identity politics and “intersectionality” as the funhouse-mirror-lens through which all reality must be viewed.

Another twenty years prior to that earlier wave of unrest, a generation of Zinn’s children were marching with Jesse Jackson at Stanford University chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Culture’s got to go.”

1/15/1987 Jesse Jackson and students demonstrate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day against the western cultures core reading list requirement. Credit: Chuck Painter / Stanford News Service

There were prophetic voices trying to warn us back then.

Published in the very same year as that Stanford march, Professor Allan Bloom’s book, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students called all of this with chilling accuracy. None of us who read his book more than 30 years ago is remotely surprised that they’re tearing down the statues of abolitionists, emancipators, and Spanish novelists today.

Robert Bork called it, too. In 1996 he wrote Slouching Toward Gomorrah and it, too, diagnosed the disease that now ravages the culture. In it, he wrote: “Radical individualism, radical egalitarianism, omnipresent and omni-incompetent government, the politicization of the culture, and the battle for advantages through politics shatter a society into fragments of isolated individuals and angry groups.” 

Today, Western culture, rooted deeply in Christian tradition, is still the enemy of those mal-educated by Zinn and his evangelists. We have the defaced and dececrated and toppled statues of numerous “dead white men” to prove it.

George Washington, ladies and gentlemen.

The public monuments of Christianity and Judaism will be next. Indeed, it’s already underway. (Wokeness is a jealous god.) And because Zinn’s bogus biography of our nation has become an article of religious faith for millions, they will feel perfectly righteous in their attacks on the churches and synagogues.

As it turns out, it matters how someone writes your story.

[Update: Here’s the antidote for Zinn poisoning.]

Our Crisis of Empathy

{Note: I wrote the following post four years ago at the height of Ferguson-related protests and riots. Feels timely to me. But you be the judge.}

It was dark, but I could still discern in the headlights’ glare that a shotgun was pointed directly at my chest.

“Son, that’s a good way to get your head blown off,” said the voice behind the gun.

Perhaps I’d better back up and offer you some context here.

This was the mid-to-late seventies in rural Oklahoma. I was only 17 but this was not the first time a rural law enforcement officer had taken a look at my shaggy hair and fast car and decided I was a trouble maker. (That’s right, kids. I had long, thick brown hair.)

Only an hour earlier I had graduated from high school. At that moment, many of my classmates were headed out to keg parties to celebrate by getting blitzed.

Three other friends and I were headed over the mountain to a larger town to grab a nice dinner. You see we were the good kids. (eyeroll) We were walking the straight and narrow. Trying to stay out of trouble.

Halfway to our destination, as we passed through a tiny town notorious for being a speed trap, I noticed a pickup behind me with a flashing yellow light. I assumed it was some sort of road construction or utilities vehicle, so I eased over to the shoulder to let it pass. It didn’t pass, but rather stayed right behind me.

So, I pulled on over on a pitch black stretch of two-lane highway and stopped my vehicle.

The pickup stopped at a distance behind me, as a powerful door-mounted spotlight, commonly used in that part of the country for illegally hunting deer at night, illuminated the back end of my ultra-sweet 1972 Cutlass S. As I looked in my rearview mirror, all I could see was the blinding glare of that spotlight.

Deciding this might possibly be some sort of weird law enforcement traffic stop, I did what I had been taught to do in my Driver’s Ed classes. I remained in my vehicle, rolled the window down, shut off the engine, and waited. And waited.

Eventually I heard a person from behind my vehicle shouting for me to get out of the car. So I did so and started walking back toward that retina-burning light. That’s when I met Mr. 12 Gauge.

“Son, that’s a good way to get your head blown off.”

“Okay,” I agreed. I had no clue what he was referring to but I wasn’t feeling inclined to explore the matter.

He fired off a series of questions: Where are you coming from? Where are you going? Who is your daddy? (Seriously, he wanted to know who my dad was.)  Then he looked at my drivers license for a minute, handed it back, and sent me on my way with no explanation.

It was a terrifying, traumatizing experience. But quickly the residual fear I felt morphed into anger. In fact, nearly 40 years have past since that night and thinking about it right now still cheeses me off.

So do my memories of another run in—roughly six months earlier—with a local Neanderthal deputy sheriff. He, having made about a half-dozen incorrect assumptions about me, pulled me out of my after-school job bagging groceries, hauled me down to the sherrif’s department, and tried to intimidate me with foul, abusive language and crazy accusations that made absolutely no sense to me.

I can vividly recall my feelings of powerlessness and anger when dealing with a person with a badge and a gun who (wrongly) thought he knew something about me based upon the way I looked.

For a long time I really wanted to hate that guy.

Perhaps this gives me a tiny headstart in understanding why so many of my black friends and acquantances are battling a storm of mixed emotions at this moment.

I can’t possibly know what it’s like to live in their shoes (or their skin), but I can empathize. And I do.

I wish more of my fellow white brothers and sisters could find their way to some of this empathy. We’re so quick to minimize the real wounds good, decent black citizens carry around; and minimize the fears and resentments they live with every day.

This isn’t helpful.

On the Other Hand

I pray every one of my black brothers and sisters in Christ battling feelings of resentment and bitterness today (I see your social media feeds) can find some empathy for what law enforcement officers face daily—and especially nightly.

Being a cop, particularly in a major city, means dealing with the worst aspects of our society for a lot of your work-life hours. The job involves seeing and mopping up after the very worst that fallen, broken humans are capable of.

Addicts, pimps, prostitutes, child abusers, wife beaters, pedophiles, muggers, rapists, con men, thieves . . . the violent, the self-destructive, the drunk, the stoned, the cruel, the amoral, the twisted, the psychotic, the psychopathic. Police work requires wading around in all of these all the time—all while surviving and maintaining an awareness that the next person you encounter may very well be a decent human being.

It also means receiving training about staying in command of situations and speaking authoritatively. It is, by necessity, drilled into the police officer that losing control of a situation can easily get them killed.

I wish every one of the Black Lives Matter protesters throwing rocks and rebar at St. Paul police last night would do a few overnight shift “ride alongs” with a police officer. I suspect it would be an eye-opener.

Perhaps they might find some space in their wounded, angry souls for a little empathy as well.

Social Media Bubbles and Echo Chambers

Empathy for others has always been a challenge for all of us—for some more than others. But the advent of social media has ampflied this problem many fold.

We have built our own newswires out of sources that confirm our biases and people who see things just as we do. It feels good to have your assumptions validated. It feels bad to have them challenged. We prefer to feel good.

So, if a source or person brings us information that we don’t like—that doesn’t comport without preferred way of viewing things—we can mute or unfollow with the click of a mouse.

Thus the custom-made information bubbles we live in get purer and purer.

And we get surer and surer that the world is exactly as we believe it to be.

Praying Grace Reviews

I was blessed and encouraged to see the following review of Praying Grace from “Gail,” a verified buyer, on it’s Amazon page:

I am at the 6th devotion and the knowledge and understanding I have gleaned from just these 6 readings and declarations have changed my life.
This book is erasing the years of misconception and wrong thinking that have been planted in my mind through misguided teachings and sermons I have heard over the years.
By devotion number 4, I had to purchase 2 of these books as gifts for my children. The simplicity with which David Holland unravels the mystery of the way we ought to pray, to decree, and to declare makes this book a ’must-read ’ for everyone.

So grateful to those who have been recommending and sharing Praying Grace on social media. It means the world.

One Additional Point About the Bill Gates Conspiracy Theories

Sorry. That last post ran on for more than 3,000 words and I ultimately needed to put it, and my poor readers, out of their misery. But there is one additional point I think it’s important to make about the many accusations and innuedoes being directed at Mr. Gates. But first . . .

Would you like to guess what country currently has the fastest growing population in the world?

Poor, civil-war-ravaged Syria.

In second place? Angola. Which, not coincidentally, also has the highest rate of infant mortality in the world year after year. Third, fourth and fifth fastest growing populations belong to Malawi, Burundi, and Chad.

In fact, every one of the top 35 countries with the highest rates of populaton growth are all poor, war-torn, drought-stricken, or all three, and have appallingly high rates of death of children under five.

That’s a little counter-intuitive isn’t it? That the places where children die the most are the places producing the most children?

On the other end of that spectrum are most of the developed countries of the world, where population growth rates have been flattening out for decades now. In fact quite a few rich, Western nations are now experiencing negative population growth. In other words, people aren’t having enough babies to replace the people who are dying.

There is a single dynamic driving the results on both ends of this continuum.

Over the last hundred years it has become evident that in places where mothers are unsure that their babies are going to survive into adulthood, they tend to have a lot more babies. It’s a form of insurance that at least a couple of them will live to take care of them when they are elderly.

Conversely, when mothers live in a culture that makes them confident their kids aren’t going to die from starvation, disease, war, or natural calamity, they have fewer children. A LOT fewer.

As standards of living have risen all over the world, birth rates have plummeted. Those two things are tightly linked. This is well understood.

The replacement rate in most modern, Western nations is an average of 2.3 children per family. Many countries in the Northern Hemisphere have already fallen below that replacement level. Thus, their populations are shrinking.

Here’s what all the above has to do with what people are carelessly sharing about Bill Gates.

Many of the terrible and terrifying conspiracy theories being circulated contain the implication (and often the explicit assertion) that Gates advocates reducing earth’s population by arranging for lots of people to die.

If you haven’t seen these, good on you. I won’t link to that garbage, but they’re out there.

These videos and articles invariably contain a short quote, clip, or exerpt in which Gates points to high birth rates in poor countries as a problem that needs to be addressed.

Well, the Internet has given me trust issues.

I’ve learned not to believe anyone’s characterization of what someone else says or thinks. I now make it a practice to go to the full, un-edited sources of what is being excerpted and characterized . . . especially if the excerpter or characterizer is being critical. And SUPER especially so if the characterizer is accusing someone of plotting mass murder or a world dictatorship takeover.

So I went to the originals of Gates’ comments in his speeches, and the source documents on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation web site. And guess what I discovered . . .

In every single case I researched, Gates was speaking about population in the context of that phenomenon I described above. The one about how women have fewer children when fewer of their babies routinely die of preventable diseases, starvation, or nasty water.

Specifically, Gates is saying we need to take measures to reduce infant and child mortality, and raise the standards of living of the poor in these countries, and that doing so will result in their population growth leveling off.

So just let the full reality of this sink in for a moment . . .

A person who is funding efforts to find ways to see fewer mothers bury their infants, is having his words about those efforts surgically edited to validate speculation that he wants lots of currently living people, to die.

Welcome to Internet 2020.

Look, I have no interest in defending Gates’ politics. We clearly disagree. Nor do I care to defend his plans. I can’t speak to whether they’re wise or a waste of his money. A lot of them are based on questionable left-of center presuppositions.

I know that some of the initiatives he funds promote birth control, which is a non-starter for all my Roman Catholic friends. And some orgs he’s funding almost certainly want to provide abortion, which is, of course, appalling to me. I’ve spent my entire adult life in the Pro-Life cause.

What I am interested in is justice, mercy, humility, and truth. And not just for “my side.” And that means it’s not okay to traffic in sensationalistic lies and distortions that are not only inaccurate, but in some cases the opposite of the truth. Distortions that are frequently embraced and spread willy-nilly by good people in my own tribe.

It hurts our credibility. It hurts our cause. It’s just . . . wrong.

And “The other side does it,” isn’t a valid plea. So, please, please, please keep two things in mind at all times when you’re online.

  1. The internet is filled with content cleverly designed to manipulate you. Most is designed to make money doing so. Clicks + Page Views + Shares = $$$$.
  2. The rest is designed to advance an agenda. To get you to hate what they hate. To fear what they fear. To oppose what they oppose. To make their enemy, your enemy too.

Countless “alternative news” web sites have emerged with that one goal in mind. Shun them. And when you can’t, don’t believe a word you’ve read without remembering the two points above.

It goes without saying that you can’t trust anything the mainstream “legitimate” news sources say either. It’s unfortunate. Both of the above warnings equally apply to CNN, Reuters, and The Washington Post, as well.

Most of the information on the “alternative news” sites is positioned as being provided with the noble goal of “opening our eyes” to what’s really going on. That should sound familiar to believers . . .

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:4

This is not fun to write. Believe me, I’d much rather encourage and entertain than reprove and rebuke, but we’ve got to stop allowing ourselves to be manuipulated. But I’m mindful that Paul told the believers in Corinth that they have thousands of “teachers” but not many fathers. (1 Cor. 4:15)

So, please just consider this some loving fatherly advice.

Thoughts on the Pandemic, Part 2

… or is that just what they WANT you to think?

In my previous post, I shared some thoughts about the psychology of this pandemic. Specifically how a person’s political philosphy profoundly influences the way he or she thinks the government should be handling this situation.

Toward the end, I promised you a take on the numerous conspiracy theories and rumors circulating about all this.

So here goes, fasten your seatbelt. This is going to be a long and winding journey. And I’m almost certainly going to offend two-thirds to three-quarters of everyone who reads this.

Feathers will be ruffled. Oxes will be gored! Sacred cows will be tipped over!!!

High-impact events like this pandemic invariably generate wave after wave of wild rumors and speculation.

You may recall that within hours of the 9/11 attacks—long before the advent of social media, mind you— the internet was lousy with bizarre rumors and malicious reports about groups of celebrating Jews; 4,000 “Israelis” who were warned not to show up for work that morning; and a missile rather than a jet hitting the Pentagon. 

After the dust (literally) settled, we got exotic, hyper-complex theories about some secretive U.S. agency or rogue quasi-governmental group lacing the twin towers with explosives and dynamiting the adjacent 7 World Trade Center. According to these “9/11 was an Inside Job” narratives, George W. Bush, or people within his administration, masterminded the attacks as an excuse to invade Iraq because . . . oil. Or revenge. Or Illuminati secret handshake, or something.

I Make People Crazy

A not-insignificant chunk of America convinced itself that Vice-President Cheney and the Halliburton corporation were part of some sort of vast powerful cabal bent on ushering in {fill in this blank with whatever you’re against.}

I also recall my amusement at discovering that President George W. Bush’s habit of exchanging “hook ’em horns” hand gestures with fellow Texans during his presidency was viewed as incontrovertible proof to some that he was leading an Illuminati conspiracy to take over the world and {fill in this blank with whatever you’re against.}

You think I’m joking?

Whole lakes of digital ink were spilled during the Bush 43 years assuring those who were already predisposed to dislike “W” that he was literally in league with the devil.

I could fill an entire book with reasons why each of these claims are bat-guano crazy. But it’s not necessary because time and history have already rendered them ridiculous. 

But at the time, many people bought in in a big, big way.

Of course, the Kennedy assassination produced its own crop of crackpot theorizing. Various elaborate theories made a case for laying the blame squarely at the feet of: The Mafia, the Soviets, Castro/Cuba, Lyndon Johnson, the Illuminati (hello again!), and whoever “Umbrella Man” was working with.

Who is “Umbrella Man” you ask? So glad you asked!!! Several years ago, on the 48th anniversary of the JFK assassination, I wrote a blog post debunking this particular conspiracy theory, and used it as a springboard to share some thoughts about conspiracy theories in general. You can read, “Kennedy, Umbrella Man, and my Crackpot Theory of Frozen Moment Anomolies” at your liesure.

This tendency to see big, sinister, mysterious forces driving random events isn’t a modern phenomenon, however. We see it throughout history. Why?

Because this is a product of fallen human nature. That “fall” happened because we couldn’t resist eating from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And we’re still suckers for the dangled promise of esoteric “knowledge” today.

As with the Kennedy killing and 9/11, there is something deep in our hardwiring that simply refuses to believe that history-making events can result from the actions of one deranged individual, a handful of fanatics, or incompetence.

Or that, because Creation itself was twisted in the fall, that nature sometimes throws us random curveballs like mutating bat viruses or long droughts.

Or that, because water vapor is a byproduct of the combustion of fossil fuels, that high flying jets in the stratosphere naturally leave trails of frozen water crystals rather than being the result of a global program of spraying mind control or infertility chemicals over whole populations. (If you haven’t encountered a “Chemtrails” true believer, you’ve missed a treat.)

Or that vaccine developers might actually be motivated by a genuine interest in ending preventable diseases. Which brings me to my actual topic.

In 2015, Microsoft founder Bill Gates gave a now-famous (infamous) Ted Talk in which he warned that we as a nation or a world are not anywhere near being prepared for the next pandemic. No one paid much attention at the time, but now that talk is being trotted out as “Exhibit A” in conspiracy theories that have been widely embraced and shared by good people who ought to know better.

Those theories would lead you to assume that Bill Gates was virtually the only one warning about a pandemic back then, and therefore his warning is highly suspicious. 

The fact is, hundreds of disparate voices have been delivering that same warning for a couple of decades now. Especially since the SARS epidemic of 2006.

I routinely read a lot of science magazines and blogs, and over the last 15 years I’ve personally read scores of pieces warning about a coming pandemic that would most likely emerge from a mutating animal virus or a mutation of an existing influenza strain.

Gates is only one of many voices that have been sounding the alarm. For example, President George W. Bush was deeply concerned about our nation’s lack of preparedness for a viral pandemic. Here’s a warning he issued back in 2005!

And here’s a Scientific American article from October of 2011: How an Interconnected Planet Is Fueling the Brewing Viral Storm

I could cite hundreds of other examples. Thousands actually. So, rather than being clear evidence of a plot by shadowy figures, the appearance of the pandemic was actually overdue. We had been fortunate with SARS and H1N1.

My point is that it is wildly irresponsible and deceptive to point to Bill Gates’ past concerns about a viral pandemic as if it was some sort of smoking gun linking him to a sinister plot to depopulate the planet.

But being wildly irresponsible and deceptive is the fastest track to attention in our current culture. And attention is the new gold. It pays.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Gates really has spent billions on various life-saving and life-enhancing initiatives over the last 20 years just to disguise the fact that he’s secretly some sort of real-life Bond villain who paid to have Covid-19 created in a Chinese lab to wreck the global economy and kill millions of poor people because . . . well because that’s what evil-genius-super-villains do.

Gates recently pledged $250 million to help fund research into finding a Covid-19 vaccine. This, too, is supposed to be viewed as highly suspicious behavior according to the conspiracy peddlers.

What they often neglect to mention is that the Gates Foundation passed out roughly two BILLION dollars in grants for fighting malaria over the last few years. And had just pledged another billion to malaria research shortly before the Covid-19 outbreak became news. And threw vast sums of money at a wide range of other health and education initiatives.

That’s a pretty strange thing to do if you’re about to hit the launch button on your world depopulation scheme from your secret underground volcano lair.

Look, I know that Gates is a liberal Democrat. A lot of elites are. But, unlike billionaire George Soros who sinks hundreds of millions each year into trying to sway U.S. elections and funds scores of online liberal propaganda outlets—Gates instead spends his billions on battling diseases and trying to improve the quality of life of the poor in developing countries–particularly women and girls.

The monster.

It feels a little strange to feel bad for a billionaire, but I really do feel for the guy. Gates decides to spend his remaining years and vast fortune trying to improve people’s lives in his own liberal, humanist-y way, and for his trouble, sees himself portrayed as a cartoon cross between Thanos and Emperor Palpatine.

By the way, if you’re a billionaire and really interested in seeing lots of people die in Third World countries, here’s what you do . . .

Nothing. You just sit back and count your money and sail around on a mega-yacht like most billionaires do.

What you don’t do is sink three billion buckazoids into halting the number one killer of humans in history . . . mosquito-borne diseases like malaria.

Still with me? God bless you. Then let’s move on to the other creative theory getting a lot of Facebook traction right now . . .

The “Plandemic”

I’ll be blunt and to the point.

This “presentation” is an opportunistic casserole of deception—a 26-minute bouillabaisse of distortions, errors, innuendos, and dots that can’t legitimately be connected.

One of the voices I’ve come to trust the most since all this virus-y stuff started is that of Chris Von Csefalvay (I have no idea how to prounounce that name. But I think it’s kr-ih-s.) Csefalvay is “an epidemiologist with a specialisation in the virology of bat-borne illnesses, including filoviruses and bat related coronaviruses.” He’s also spent time on the ground in West Africa a few years ago doing battle with Ebola.

He’s non-political, rational, reasonable, and knows what he’s talking about. If you’re interested in real, objective science about the Covid-19 outbreak, I recommend that you follow him on Twitter: @chrisvcsefalvay.

As a public service, he viewed the Plandemic documentary and closed a very long thread in which he refuted and rebutted each the program’s assertions one by one, with this:

It’s not a documentary, it’s a scientific trainwreck of a screed by a disgraced researcher who wanted another go at fifteen minutes of fame. Consume in small doses with whiskey and your blood pressure medication of choice.

You can read the whole thread here:

Back to the Garden

Look, the easiest lie to fall for is the one that confirms or validates what you already think. The easiest scam to be suckered into is the one you need to be real. The one that validates your preferred narrative. These are facts of human nature that have kept con men in business since the dawn of history.

In fact, the very first con man, a Serpent, exploited this very principle. He whispered, “The authorities are holding out on you, Eve. The elites are keeping secrets from you. Why? Because THEY know that if you eat of this tree, you’ll become like them!”

All these millennia later, we still keep falling for the line.

Get a Razor-Sharp Mind

So in the age of the internet—when anyone with a Macbook, an iphone, and an ax to grind against a perceived enemy can build a YouTube video and see it shared and viewed millions of times on Facebook and Twitter—how can you separate fact from fiction? How can you keep from being duped by the slick propagandists?

Well, I’ve found two logic tools quite useful on this front. They are known as Occam’s Razor and Hanlon’s Razor.

In philosophy, a “razor” is a logical tool that cuts away clutter and distractions so the thinker can identify the truth, or at least the most likely candidate for the truth.

Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor takes it’s name from a 13th century Franciscan monk and philosopher named William of Ockham. His razor can be paraphrased like this: “When presented with multiple, competing explanations for an event or phenomenon, the simplest explanation is likely to be the correct one.”

Let’s apply Occam’s Razor to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Confession: I’ve spent more hours than I’m comfortable admitting watching YouTube videos that breathlessly unwind exotic labyrinthine explanations of what really happened on 9/ll.)

There are dozens of crazy-hiney 9/11 conspiracy theories out there but let’s pick the one that got the most traction.

Option 1: “9/11 was an Inside Job.” George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had only been in the White House for eight months AND had gotten a very late start on building their governing team because the “Florida Hanging Chads” election outcome vs. Al Gore paralyzed the transition process for weeks following the election in November of 2000.

Nevertheless, Bush-Cheney Evil Inc. quickly set about secretly lacing the internal steel skeletal structure of the twin towers of the World Trade Center with the explosive Thermite, and did so without any of the thousands of people who worked in the buildings taking notice.

At the same time, they set about recruiting (or tricking) 19 Middle Easterners who had overstayed their visas during the Clinton administration and who were affiliated with an organization (Al Qaeda) –the same organization that had already tried once to blow up one of the towers back in 1993.

Then, instead, of just blowing up the twin towers and pointing the finger at Al Qaeda, they got the 19 Arabs to hijack four commercial airliners, fly them into the towers, the Pentagon (unless that one was a missile), and either the White House or the Capitol building, in order to create a pretense for invading Afghanistan (which has no oil) and later Iraq, which has oil but because there is a global market in oil, getting control of the Iraqi oil fields actually made no financial sense for anyone.

This “false flag” attack would humiliate the U.S., embolden and encourage terrorist organizations all over the world, and cripple the U.S. economy. But, we’re told, Bush, a seemingly decent human being, signed off on all of this for murky, New World Order reasons.

Option 2: Al Qaeda Did It. After trying and failing to bring down one of the towers in 1993, Al Qaeda—led by Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—set about formulating a plan to hijack commercial airliners and fly them into highly symbolic targets. After several years of planning and preparation, the plan was executed and was 3/4 successful. Three of four hijacked aircraft reached their targets.

For reasons that are now well-understood by engineers, the unique structural architecture of the Twin Towers made them susceptible to a pancaking collapse in the presence of an intensely hot fire.

Occam’s Razor says pick the simplest explanation. (Tha’t’s Door #2!) And indeed, the more the facts of those events were uncovered and analyzed in the years that followed, the more Option 2 has been validated and confirmed. In fact, we learned a few years ago that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, after a little waterboarding, sang like a canary and exposed the entire plan in minute detail.

But you would have landed on the correct explanation years earlier simply by applying Occam’s Razor.

Hanlon’s Razor

There is another logic tool in your arsenal for separating crackpot theories from the truth. Hanlon’s Razor. My paraphrase of this axiom goes like this:

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

Put another way, don’t infer some shadowy, nefarious plot if what you’re seeing can be reasonably explained by someone being a nincompoop.

My favorite example of a failure to apply Hanlon’s Razor is from the old Seinfeld series. Jerry’s “Uncle Leo” is served a hamburger that is slightly overcooked and he immediately perceives anti-Semitism.

“They don’t just OVERCOOK a hamburger, Jerry.”

A lot of us do the same thing today—individually and collectively. Some local agency or bureau overcharges me for something and I instantly conclude that I’m being targeted and persecuted by faceless liberal bureacrats for my political beliefs.

Ummm no. Someone probably made a mistake.

The same is true on a global scale. Humans are too frail, neurotic, prone to mistakes, gaffes, slip-ups, getting drunk and spilling their guts, and oversights—too forgetful, too susceptible to jealousy, envy, and spite—to pull off one one-thousandth of what we suspect is going on out there in the dark shadows.

Say, hypothetically, that you’re presented two theories about the origin of the Covid-19 virus.

The first one posits that an unusual bat virus was being studied in a Wuhan lab and, through carelessness or stupidity, some overworked and under-rested grad student allowed it to escape the laboratory.

The second one suggests that an international cabal of leftist elites, working in concert with the Chinese government, paid to have the virus custom built and then released (in the heart of China for some reason) all in order to spoil President Trump’s chances of being re-elected. Their determination to get Trump out of the White House was so fierce, they were willing to kill millions and risk a global recession, or even a depression, in order to damage his re-election chances. And this, seemed the best strategy for accomplishing this goal.

If you’re evaluating those two, or a half-dozen other hypotheses, Hanlon’s Razor will serve you well.

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

(By the way, the newest, best analyses have almost completely ruled out the possibility of a lab origin for Covid-19. We’re back to the “wet markets” of Wuhan as the most likely suspect.)

Summing Up (Finally!)

I don’t often make dogmatic statements or issue money-back guarantees, but I’ll offer a few right here. After applying Occam’s Razor, Hanlon’s Razor, a decent knowledge of history, and a biblical understanding of human nature, I am prepared to make the following declarations with complete confidence:

1. The Covid-19 virus is not the product of a plot to take down Trump.

To be sure, opportunists are trying to use it to that end. But those who despise the President were going to use ANYTHING the universe presented to them to that end. An earthquake, a hurricane, an assassination, a sudden increase in the price of taco seasoning . . . anything and everything negative was going to be laid at the feet of Mr. Trump by his enemies. It just so happens what they got was the biggest world crisis since World War II.

Just because someone finds it useful, doesn’t mean that person caused it. What we’re seeing is the old left-wing axiom of, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.

2. The Covid-19 virus is not a plot by Bond Villain billionaire elites to use a vaccine to {fill in whatever you’re against here.}

Most of all. . . I PROMISE you, any vaccine that is developed to protect people from this disease is NOT a secret device to trick you into accepting the mark of the beast.

I could write another 10,000 words explaining why I know that . . . or you can just trust me on this one.

Back away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. You’ll find more nourishing fruit elsewhere.