Why the Hobby Lobby Decision is a Victory for People of Faith and for Society

Why the Hobby Lobby Decision is a Victory for People of Faith and for Society

Guest Post by Daniel Ortner

The recent Hobby Lobby decision has been widely praised in the conservative media and greeted with deep alarm among the left. Yet, in reality the decision was a modest one that will likely have almost no impact on the employees of Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood. Indeed, the most likely outcome is that the government simply offers to religiously motivated for-profits the same accommodation that they are currently offering churches and religiously affiliated hospitals whereby upon certification of a religious objection, the health insurance providers cover contraception at no cost to the employer or employee.

So why is this case nevertheless a big deal? Why should members of the LDS Church and other people of faith celebrate the ruling? The threshold question in this case was whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which congress passed in the early 90’s to protect religious people of conscience applies to religiously motivated for-profit companies as well as churches and other people of conscience.

In other words, the key question is whether individuals who form for-profit entities lose the ability to assert religious freedom claims under the RFRA. For the dissent, because “an individual separates herself from the entity and escapes personal responsibility for the entity’s obliga­tions,”[1] by incorporation, that individual cannot argue that a government requirement violates his/her individual conscience. In other words, because the law removes personal liability from most business decisions, the dissent suggests that an individual should be expected to compartmentalize or separate his faith and his business activities.
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God Created Man in His Own Image

Adam_and_Eve002So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)

Steven Peck (aka StevenP from BCC) is a BYU biology professor that has written about religion and evolution. One of his articles (based on the views of Henri Bergson) on his website (split into three parts: part 1, part 2, I couldn’t find part 3) was about how the process of evolution often causes certain forms of life to arise just by virtue of the fact that the evolutionary process must solve certain problems.

For example, the eye has evolved in relatively the same manner multiple times on entirely independent lines of organisms. And it is not mere coincidence that fish and whales get confused a lot. Despite being completely different species all together, the similar forces of evolution forced them to look quite similar.

Is it possible that there is some similar type of what we might call ‘directed evolution’ going on with humans? Here, the evidence is thin at best, but let’s play around and have a little fun with hypotheses: Continue reading

David Deutsch’s Four Strands

David DeutschIn a previous post I talked about Roger Penrose’s seven (depending on how you count them) SUPERB theories of science. Now I’d like to give you an alternative view that I think is equally fascinating, though it takes a completely different path.

David Deutsch, being a Popperian Epistemologist (i.e. Epistemology is the theory of how we gain knowledge), believes that what makes a theory one of our best theories is not its range and accuracy, but instead how much it explains. Based on these criteria, Deutsch believes our four deepest theories of science are the following:

  1. Quantum Mechanics
  2. Biological Natural Selection
  3. Popper’s Theory of Knowledge (Epistemology)
  4. Computational Theory

In fact, Deutsch believes that these four strands are the start of what he calls “a theory of everything.” Continue reading

The Turing Principle

A Turing MachineIn my last two posts on Computational Theory, I first explained the Church-Turing Thesis which can be summarized as the idea that all (full-featured) computers are equivalent.  I then went on to summarize some Computational Theory principles we can study and research once we assume that the Church-Turing Thesis is true. This research is primarily based around the limits of what a Turing Machine can do or how fast it can perform.

In this post I’m going to explore some of the philosophical ramifications of the Church-Turing Thesis, if it were to actually hold true. And at least so far (with one interesting exception) it has held true. Though in the end, I suspect many readers will feel they need to ultimately reject the Turing Thesis. But even if it does ultimately prove false, the very fact that it holds true in every case we know how to currently devise still makes it an useful scientific principle, for now. Continue reading

How We Gain Knowledge

Popper and KuhnBefore I disappeared from blogging, I had finished up reposting my Wheat and Tares posts on epistemology (i.e. theory of how we gain knowledge. Good summary of my posts found here. Full series found here, in reverse order of course.) But the truth is that throughout my series, I never really had a single post that attempted to explain what epistemology really is.

Conjecture and Refutation

To summarize how epistemology works, the basic idea is that scientific progress is made through a process of conjecture, criticism, and then refutation. Essentially we see something in the world that we wish to have explained or (even more likely) a problem that we can solve if we can explain it. Continue reading