Posts Tagged ‘autism’

Richard Dawkins: A Gift From God.

August 22, 2014

Are all human lives valuable for what they are? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Richard Dawkins is well-known today as a leading contemporary spokesman for atheism. If you asked most people today to name a famous living atheist, Dawkins would likely be on top of the list. In fact, according to this site, he’s the #1 leading atheist in the world. Perhaps in some ways we could describe Richard Dawkins as the Pope of atheism.


This is actually more fitting than most realize. The idea is that in the so-called Dark Ages, you went to the priests who were the bearers of all knowledge. The correct view on that is that the religious leaders likely were some of the most knowledgeable people around. The false view is that it’s because the only knowledge they had was knowledge of the Bible. No. Active learning was going on in many areas. Not all would have a specific interest in “natural philosophy” as science was called, but all would know something about it.

Today, science has become the new priesthood with a scientism that says science is the only way you know anything and that all knowledge must be scientific and if you can’t establish something scientifically, it can’t be true. Never mind that this criteria has never once met its own standards. It is an undercurrent in our society. Whenever an opinion comes on an issue, if it is said that “a scientist says” that is automatically the most valid opinion, never mind that it could be something the scientist has never really studied. His opinion matters because he is a scientist.

None of this is to knock science. No one should want to. Science is our friend. Scientism is our enemy. The putting of science in the supreme place as the supreme guide to knowledge is also our enemy. It is no desire to belittle scientific knowledge, or any knowledge for that matter. It is a desire instead to deal with the practical worship of science.

Many of us know about Dawkins’s recent outrage that has been sparked due to twitter remarks. It would be bad enough if that was the only embarrassing story of the week, but it is not. Consider this story from just last Saturday. In it, Dawkins is compared to an evangelist who develops a following if you donate to his circle. Reality is Dawkins is even more expensive than the evangelists that he would criticize. Let’s look at some highlights. A lengthy quote will suffice.

the Richard Dawkins website offers followers the chance to join the ‘Reason Circle’, which, like Dante’s Hell, is arranged in concentric circles. For $85 a month, you get discounts on his merchandise, and the chance to meet ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science personalities’. Obviously that’s not enough to meet the man himself. For that you pay $210 a month — or $5,000 a year — for the chance to attend an event where he will speak.

When you compare this to the going rate for other charismatic preachers, it does seem on the high side. The Pentecostal evangelist Morris Cerullo, for example, charges only $30 a month to become a member of ‘God’s Victorious Army’, which is bringing ‘healing and deliverance to the world’. And from Cerullo you get free DVDs, not just discounts.

But the $85 a month just touches the hem of rationality. After the neophyte passes through the successively more expensive ‘Darwin Circle’ and then the ‘Evolution Circle’, he attains the innermost circle, where for $100,000 a year or more he gets to have a private breakfast or lunch with Richard Dawkins, and a reserved table at an invitation-only circle event with ‘Richard’ as well as ‘all the benefits listed above’, so he still gets a discount on his Richard Dawkins T-shirt saying ‘Religion — together we can find a cure.’

The website suggests that donations of up to $500,000 a year will be accepted for the privilege of eating with him once a year: at this level of contribution you become a member of something called ‘The Magic of Reality Circle’. I don’t think any irony is intended.

I can suspect that this will be met with zealous opposition where this is shared by internet atheists and their followers, which will really demonstrate the case. Those who are followers of Dawkins really study the issues just as little as he does, if not less, which might be surprising seeing as it’s hard to imagine studying religious issues less than Dawkins. Thankfully, there are some atheists who are thoughtful and seek to understand the issues that realize Dawkins is an embarrassment to their cause and want him to just go away. The more atheists keep upholding Dawkins however and referring to works like “The God Delusion” as if it was a philosophical masterpiece, the more Christians who know what they’re talking about will see no reason to take them seriously. In fact, if I meet anyone who considers “The God Delusion” to be recommended reading to show why Christianity or theism should not be taken seriously, I know that this is a person uninformed on the issues. Actually, that applies to anyone who recommends any of the new atheists.

Many of you might not have noticed that story about Dawkins because frankly, he’s done something even more embarrassing than that. In fact, this is something I would even say is downright wicked. What Dawkins has done is sparked a controversy based on what he said in his twitter feed. You see, Dawkins heard from someone that they don’t know what they would do if they were pregnant with a child with Down’s Syndrome. It was described as an ethical dilemma.

Before we focus on what Dawkins had to say in response, isn’t it a shame we live in a world where even knowing your baby will have Down’s Syndrome leaves you with a dilemma of if you should kill it or not? You see, the reality is that as soon as that child is conceived and they have Down’s Syndrome, you are already the parent of a child with Down’s. The question you have to ask is if you’re going to be the parent of a dead one or a living one. Not only that, are you going to be the parent of a living child that you and your spouse brought into the world together, or are you going to be the parent of a dead child that died at your own hands.

In fact, I know and have known a number of people with Down’s Syndrome children. Are the children hard to care for? Yes. Can it be frustrating? Yes. Does it cost a lot of money? Yes.

You know, like all children do.

Of course, Down’s children come with extra hurdles, but you know what? They also come with extra joys. They tend to be far more honest and genuine in their love and the parents who take the time to love them see them as the gift that they are and how much they should be appreciated. One friend of ours in fact when she found out the child she was carrying had Down’s was told “There are other options” to which she immediately responded that there were not. That was her baby and she was going to love her baby and Down’s was not going to be an obstacle.

Well done.

So right at the start, we have a problem. We are being told that we really need to consider if people with Down’s Syndrome have lives that are really worth living. Exactly how far will this go? Are we not participating in a eugenics program at this point where we decide only those with desirable traits will live?

Well hopefully Pope Richard was able to give some advice to point out to this person that lives are valuable by the nature of what they are and that yes, things could be difficult, but you know, with the wonders of science we can do so much to ease the burdens that really are there and maybe even find a cure for Down’s someday! Surely this was said!

Or maybe not.

What was said?

“Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

Dawkins is in an even worse position than the questioner. He sees no ethical dilemma. It is said so easily. Abort it and try again. In fact, it would be immoral. Why?  Well Dawkins later said in his response to the outrage that:

“If your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down’s baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”

Now none of us would object to increasing happiness and reducing suffering, but what we ask is if the ends justify the means. Is it ever justifiable to do an evil act because you think there is a good result? That is in fact something that I wish to keep pressing when it comes to the abortion debate. The question we need to ask is “Is the act of willfully terminating your own pregnancy wrong?”

You see, in reality, we can agree with many of the reasons that someone would want an abortion. We can agree they should be financially stable. We can agree many are not ready to raise a child yet. We can agree that many need emotional security. We can agree that it is fine for a woman to have a career. No one is saying any of these things are evil in and of themselves.

What we are saying is that none of those justifies the murder of an innocent child.

Dawkins has decided in advance that these children cannot be happy and that they can only be suffering and they cannot bring happiness to their parents but only bring suffering.

Interestingly, this same person who wondered about a child with Down’s also admitted to being on the autism spectrum (like my wife and I) and asked about that. Dawkins’s response?

People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not enhanced.

Well thank you Dawkins for saying I have a great deal to contribute. Apparently, the reason you think I’m valuable to the human race is that I can contribute something worthwhile. In other words, I am valuable for what I do. Too bad those babies with Down’s Syndrome don’t have enough value in being, you know, human beings.

The response to all of this was as expected and even included this satirical piece. (Warning: It does have language, but it was the greatest laugh I had all day yesterday.) The sad part is too many internet atheists were defending Dawkins as if his point was obvious. Sure. Why not abort a baby with Down’s Syndrome?

Now Dawkins did apparently issue an apology, though it was quite a backhanded one. It would be like a man saying to his wife “I’m sorry I had an affair, but you have just been so frigid lately, and this woman was just so hot, and I have these needs that I have to have met, and it was meant to be a private thing between her and I and you were never meant to find out.” We could go on and on with it. 

Dawkins has no apologies for the comment. In fact, his clarifying comment said he would still recommend abortion for the same reason. What he is sorry for is that it started a twitter war. In the above analogy, it would be like the husband issuing an apology not because he cheated on his wife, but rather because he got caught doing so. From this point on Dawkins, went to make statements about the people who were complaining about what he had to say.

It never occurs to Dawkins that what he said was utterly reprehensible. Dawkins has before said

It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).

Let it be said in response that if you meet someone who seeks to justify the murder of an innocent child in the womb, wicked should in fact be one of the first things in your mind. It looks like in the world of Dawkins, denying evolution would be a worse crime against humanity than aborting a baby with Down’s Syndrome.

It will be a wonder to see what happens if Dawkins or those like him were truly ever in charge. He has already made a statement about what children he thinks bring suffering into the world. Perhaps he’d also team up with his friend Peter Boghossian. This is the same Peter Boghossian who has a chapter in his Manual for Creating Atheists (A book that I reviewed here and keep in mind that Tim McGrew massacred Boghossian’s chickens here) that lists containment protocols.

That’s right. What can we do to “contain” people of faith? This included such steps as treating faith (A term Boghossian does not know the meaning of) as a public health crisis and to remove the religious exemption for delusion from the DSM, which is the diagnostic rule book for psychological disorders.

Dawkins might say he would not want to impose his beliefs on others, but would his followers have that same belief? Boghossian seems fine with treating those of us who are Christians or believers in any deity as if we have a disease. 

The sad part is technically, Dawkins is not contradicting his atheism in any way. For a Christian, to think it okay to abort a baby with Down’s Syndrome would be a contradiction of their view of life, but for Dawkins, it does not have to be. Of course, there are many individual atheists who are pro-life and thank God for them, but the only requirement for being an atheist is “Don’t believe in God.” You can not believe in God and be a psychopath or be a philanthropist and both of them are consistent with the statement “God does not exist.” You cannot be living a life of sin in Christianity and have that be consistent with “I am a follower of Christ.”

Well Professor Dawkins, the sad reality is that you don’t see children with Down’s Syndrome as a gift to the world, which indeed they are as many parents with Down’s Syndrome children would tell you, but we can certainly say that you, Professor Dawkins, are a gift to the church. You are a great example of what will happen the more and more we move away from God and let people like you have the most say in what goes on in our culture.

Let’s just hope most people have enough moral sense to know not to like it.

In Christ,

Nick Peters


Deeper Waters Podcast 4/5/2014: Aspergers and Apologetics

April 3, 2014

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

RTB_Hugh Ross

As I hope you know, April is Autism Awareness Month. Back in January then, I set to work booking a guest to come here and talk about Aspergers for our audience. Who is that?

Get set for a good show. My guest this Saturday is Dr. Hugh Ross. Why Dr. Ross? Because Ross himself has Aspergers.

As readers of this blog know, my father-in-law is Mike Licona. Someone had told my wife and I that there were a lot of astronomers who had Aspergers. One year at an apologetics conference, Mike agreed to ask Hugh Ross for us if he knew anyone in the field who had Aspergers. The response Mike got to the question was “I have Aspergers.”

I have found some people to be surprised by this but frankly, it makes sense to me. Whether you agree or disagree with Ross, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of the areas that he talks about and definitely has an obsessive interest in them. This is something that is common in the Aspie community.

Here in fact are some of Ross’s credentials in this field.

Director of observations for Vancouver’s Royal Astronomical Society (age 17)
Recipient of a National Research Council of Canada fellowship
BSc in physics (University of British Columbia)
MSc and PhD in astronomy (University of Toronto)
Postdoctoral studies researching distant galaxies and quasars (Caltech)

Of course, Hugh Ross is also the founder and president of Reasons To Believe, a science and apologetics think tank that has a ministry dedicated to showing skeptics that science and Christianity are not incompatible and aimed at giving people reasons to believe.

Readers of the blog also know that I do not talk about science as science so I will be leaving much of that to Dr. Ross. We will for the first part of the show be talking about two of his books. These will be “Why The Universe Is The Way It Is” and “Hidden Treasures In The Book of Job.”

The second part is the part that I hope will connect with the most people and that will be when we talk about life with Aspergers and raising awareness of what it is like. I after all am one who is diagnosed with the condition as is my wife. I am not surprised when I meet other Aspies in the field of apologetics and often times, we latch onto it strongly and make it a life’s work.

If you know someone who is on the Autism spectrum or suspect you know someone, such as you are a parent of a child who you think might have autism of some sort, then please be listening to this show. I would hope the existence of this show alone would show the contributions someone can make even if they have Aspergers. In fact, I would say my Aspergers is a benefit to the work that I do, although it does have difficulties. Dr. Ross however, has achieved international prominence in his work and he has had to learn to watch himself in some ways and overcome some quirks of Aspergers. These will be talked about in the course of the show.

The show will air from 3-5 PM EST on 4/5/2014. I will open the lines for calls when we talk about autism. The call in number will be 714-242-5180. Please be listening and encourage others to listen and please remember this month to be mindful of those of us in the autism community.

The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Miss Shining Star Beauty Pageant

January 6, 2014

What about the least of these? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Okay. Today, I’m going to try to do something new on the blog and that is to add a picture. If it works well, I hope to do so whenever I do a book review. At any rate, I’m taking a little break from Book Plunges to write about what happened this weekend.

Saturday, my wife Allie was invited to participate in a beauty pageant for women with disabilities. It was the Miss Shining Star Pageant put on in large part with the help of Joni and Friends of Knoxville. Around 25 disabled girls participated in this pageant with ages from 4 to 34.

As readers of this blog know, Allie and I both have Asperger’s and that was how Allie entered. There were four categories. There was Tiny Shining Star with ages 4-7, Little Miss Shining Star with ages 8-12, Teen Shining Star with ages 13-17, and then Shining Star for 18+ and one overall Miss Shining Star. There was also a talent competition and a photogenic and personality contest.

As I watched the event I remember being marveled and thinking from an apologetics perspective about the least of these. It is because of the coming of Christ that we do have such compassion largely. Leaving the young to die in the time of the Roman Empire was something common, and that could be just for being female. It would be all the more likely if a female was clearly disabled.

We might say we’re better, but are we? I know a couple at our church who when they were told their child would be born with Down’s Syndrome was told that they had “other options” they could consider. No way. Not one bit! This life was a valuable life. Why? Because of their Christian worldview. They knew that this life was someone in the image of God and today, they delight in their Down’s Syndrome baby.

I watched this whole show go on thinking about how each of these people would in some way be someone who would normally be rejected by the world. There is instead a contrast to a position such as 1 Cor. 1 where the weak are the ones who are said to shame the strong. God has taken the lowly and despised by the world in order to showcase his glory.

Christianity tells us each of us has value as we are not because of what we do, but because in some way, all of us bear the image of God and all of us who submit to God will be conformed to the likeness of the Son, the ultimate image of God. God can take us and transform us, disabilities and all. The very aspects about us we consider shameful are those that He could plan to use to bring about His glory the most.

As for how the competition ended in case you’re wondering, I think it was wonderful. Allie was actually the only contestant in the competition who was married and got to give a talk about finding her one true love in the interview portion.

Apparently the judges really liked it.

After all, I was the man who got to go home with Miss Shining Star 2014! Congratulations to my wife Allie for being crowned Miss Shining Star and may she be an inspiration to other women who might have given up on themselves. You might be tempted to, but don’t think God has given up on you. You can still shine!

MissShiningStar2014Miss Shining Star 2014 Allie Peters!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Something Beautiful

April 18, 2013

What are some thoughts to keep in mind for Autism Awareness Month? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

This month, I haven’t written really on Autism Awareness Month yet, although it has shown up in the Deeper Waters Podcast, particularly on the episode of April 6th when I interviewed Jacob Alexander. He wrote the book “In the Belly of the Whale” about his son Joseph who has Asperger’s.

Last year, I did a lot of writing on the topic of Asperger’s this time of year so I figured I’ve covered most of it. Yet as I write this, I think about how a friend recently wrote somewhere about us having a ministry by Aspies for Aspies here and that it’s beautiful.

Now those who know us know that I’m the intellectual in the family. My wife is the artist in the family. I prefer to make a beautiful argument. She prefers to make beautiful art. We both prefer to be beautiful together. Both of us know the way the world can be and both of us know what rejection is like.

It’s something that makes our marriage unique. Both of us are surprised that they are not rejected by the other. Such thinking is a tendency that still has to be overcome. Old ways of thinking die hard. It’s with that kind of thinking that one can have a difficult time learning to trust someone else.

Fortunately, the way we are, we can better understand each others oddities. For instance, recently, I had to take Allie to a community center where she’s going to be taking a free sewing class. I’m the one carrying all her stuff and as we start to leave, she notices I have my eyes squinting. She and the teacher ask if I’m okay. I motion Allie to look a certain direction, seeing as when I get particularly nervous I don’t want to speak, and she sees that there is a dirty dish standing where I’m pointing, and she knows I can’t stand to look at a dirty dish. It’s like putting kryptonite next to Clark Kent.

Is that weird? You bet it is. Rational? Not a bit. But Allie understands it. In the same way, I understand the way she panics any time a bug comes on the scene. I can stand outside on our front porch with bumblebees out there and not worry a bit about being stung and she’ll be scared to step outside. It’s okay. I understand it.

For us, it can be difficult to do many things. We can be aloof in numerous ways. Each of us gets so caught up in our interests that basic housekeeping can be problematic. With each of us having obsessions, we have to work to balance those two together.

Yet there is a great benefit too in that we help each other where they are weak. For instance, if I am speaking too much in small group at church, Allie can put her hand on me gently and I know I need to start wrapping things up. When I think she is not catching on to something, I can explain it to her. After all, on the spectrum, it’s hard to know how things are experienced by outsiders.

Also, I find with her, I am more in touch with an emotional side. I can have far greater empathy with someone than I ever could before. For her, I find she is becoming much more in touch with a logical side. She’s seen me comment on a number of commercials as having bad arguments and has started seeing the way they work. On Easter Sunday, I heard her debating a small point with my own Dad and thinking that she did just stellar on her own.

We hope that what we have together is also a ministry in itself to other people on the spectrum and others that are disabled in other ways out there. It is possible to be loved and accepted on the spectrum and it is possible for Aspies to lead happy lives like other people. It’s possible for us to get married and have our own family. It does not have to be a life of rejection. The biggest limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves when we say we can’t do something.

We are God’s workmanship just like anyone else, Aspie and all. If anything, it makes our ministry all the more effective as we are the ones the world would look at and say that we can’t do anything and we need to let the “normal” (Whatever that means) people handle it. Why should we? We are just as much in the image of God as anyone else is and we are made to reflect Him too.

For us then, any success we have is not just ours. It’s a success for the entire community of people on the spectrum. It’s a slam as well to all the people in the past who told us to give up. As an example, I had in preparing for Bible College a piece of advice from the “experts” that I should not go into ministry because I could not handle public speaking.

I wish they had been there when I spoke to my college student body and professors which was around 1,000 people. Somehow, I handled it just fine. (If anything, speaking to that many people is easier than speaking to one stranger)

Also, when you support financially and prayerfully the ministry of Deeper Waters, you are agreeing that you are seeing something beautiful and you want to keep it going. While we do have an emphasis for people on the spectrum and those who are disabled, keep in mind apologetics, discipleship, and good marriages are for everyone! We want our neurotypcial (non-spectrum) friends to be blessed as well.

We thank the many people who have supported us throughout the years. To our critics, we ask you to wait and see what’s coming. We ask for those who read us to continue at least supporting us prayerfully and with your encouragement. It is a great blessing to us as we hope to bring you something beautiful.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/6/2013

April 5, 2013

What are we going to the talking about on the podcast on 4/6/2013? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Some of you might have noticed that the time of posting for the blog has changed recently. I find it’s much easier to do the blog in the morning so that I have the rest of the day to myself and spend less time online that way. I have also since doing the Deeper Waters podcast every Saturday, decided to do the blog just Monday-Friday. Sunday, I just decide to take a rest to recharge.

I figured today that since I want people to know what’s going on on the podcast and have a reminder that they ought to listen in, then I’d start posting some on Fridays about what we’re going to be talking about on the podcast on the following day, especially since I’m booking a lot of great guests to come on and talk about relevant issues.

For those who don’t know, April is Autism Awareness Month, a topic I blogged on profusely last April. Most people who read this blog know that my wife and I both have Asperger’s and so this is a time of the year that we take extremely seriously and we want to show that on the podcast.

Recently, I was made aware of a book by Jacob Alexander about his son Joseph called “In The Belly of the Whale.” Joseph has Asperger’s and Jacob wrote it about the challenges that his son faced as he was growing up and why the condition of Asperger’s has not been something that Joseph has used as an excuse to give up, instead quite the opposite.

As you can imagine, that’s the kind of story that I like to hear seeing as I have the same mindset. I view my condition as a unique way I have of looking at the world and getting to relate to people. In fact, I agree with the opinion I’ve heard Temple Grandin has given before. If there was given to me an opportunity to have a cure for this, I would not want it. It’s become part of who I am and affects my mind in such a way that gives me a good edge on my thinking.

On tomorrow’s program, we’ll spend two hours with Jacob talking about his son. I had hoped to get Joseph himself on the program, but he’s busy preparing for something in his schooling and now is not a good time. Still, I have read Jacob’s book and I have a lot of questions I want to ask about his son growing up. I also plan on sharing experiences of Allie and I with Asperger’s that I think relate to what Joseph has gone through.

I hope you all tune in and listen tomorrow. While the Alexander family is a Christian family so this is a Christian story, I think learning about Asperger’s would be beneficial for everyone and not just the Christian community, although we are certainly a community that needs to learn how to love those who are different from us. Please tune in tomorrow then to the Deeper Waters podcast to hear about a success story of someone with Asperger’s.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Jacob Alexander’s book can be bought here

The link to the show can be found here.

Society and Mental Illness

December 17, 2012

What are we to do with those who are different? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently, we all know that some nutcase went berserk in Connecticut and decided the way to approach reality was to kill his mother, several elementary schoolers, and some teachers. Most of you know his name. I’m not going to bother to repeat it here. I personally think we shouldn’t even show his picture even and should instead spend more time thinking about the victims of a tragedy like this and their families.

Unfortunately, I’m not the one in charge of the media so it doesn’t go that way, alas.

Still, immediately after the news came out that this person could have Asperger’s, like my wife and I do, there were some isolated cases where people started making statements about people with mental illness. What concerns me most is that some of those are the same people who take the name of Christ on their lips and call Him their Lord. I do not doubt they do, but Jesus is Lord of the mentally healthy and the mentally unhealthy.

If we were being accurate at the start, we’d admit that we all have neuroses of some kind, even those of us who have never been diagnosed. There are some ways we are all unrealistic in our thinking. Blaise Pascal once said that if you take a person who is normally rational and suspend him on a plank of sufficient size over a huge chasm, his emotion of fear will start overriding his reason quite quickly.

One of my favorite shows is Monk about the obsessive-compulsive homicide detective. In one extra they have on the DVD sets, they started asking about neuroses of the actors on the series. One I remember is that one of them had a strong hatred of public restrooms. Many of us can relate to that. We can feel much dirtier after being in a public restroom. Some people might have a strong fear of bugs. That’s my Mrs. Some people really can’t stand blood. If I even start hearing a story that is bloody in any way I have to immediately put my hands to my ears and not listen. I can’t even stand seeing a paper cut.

Yeah. I know it’s not rational. Reality is you probably know some areas of your life where your thinking isn’t exactly rational either.

For some, this is a more permanent state. Now it doesn’t mean they’re without reason entirely. I would consider myself a very reasonable person for instance. I love rationality and I love thinking through an issue. Still, I know I have areas of my life where something is overpowering that reason.

In fact, just as I finished that paragraph, I had a call come from the living room that my wife thought there was a spider in there, which she has a huge phobia of to which I try to say “eight-legged things” instead of the word itself. Meanwhile, I go in and find out it’s a ladybug, which I happen to like and refuse to kill or flush. (Could be because I know they help kill other bugs. Could be because when we had a Colecovision, Ladybug was my favorite game on there.)

One show we like to watch together is The Big Bang Theory, which I tell my wife is about four perfectly ordinary guys, which for some reason she never believes. Everyone who watches it knows that Sheldon Cooper is a highly intelligent person with a brilliant mind.

They also know he’s bat crazy. (Despite his claims to the contrary since his mother had him tested.)

Why do I say this? Because mental illness affects everyone. Many of us have one and if we don’t, we know someone who does. I technically have one with Asperger’s, but at the same time, I doubt people would describe me as “mentally ill” in the way we think of illness. Some might say my thinking is off on areas, but they would not use that term.

Some people might take medications for this. My wife is one who does. Some might not. I am one who does not. Let this also be stated. People of the church have sometimes thought that medication for emotional or psychological problems is wrong. Stop it. There can be a problem with the brain just like any other part of the body. Yes. There are dangers with psychiatric drugs just like with most any other drugs, but there are often greater dangers without.

For those of us who are on this spectrum of having a condition, we must be judged on a case by case basis. We’re not all alike, just like people without mental problems are not all alike. I had considered calling this blog “The Church and Mental Illness” but the church is not the only one with a problem. Some people are looking at the mental illness as the cause of what happened.

If I was to point to a cause, as a Christian, I would simply say “Sin.” That might be too vague for some, and indeed in a sense it is vague. I do not know what was going on in this creep’s life, but I know there was something wrong for him to consider that this was what should be done. Unfortunately, the response the church can also have to people with mental illness qualifies as sin, and sin can often lead to more sin.

Of course, this is a factor, but it does not mean that everyone around you who has a condition is set to go off at any minute. Chances are, many people you see around you every day have some sort of mental condition and you don’t even realize it. I suspect most people watching me going through life who are strangers and don’t know me, don’t realize I have Asperger’s. They might see me as a bit quirky in some ways, but they just don’t make a diagnosis. I also don’t fault them for that. They’re not professional counselors. They shouldn’t have to. Now there are times that I am watching someone and I think “I wonder if they’re an Aspie.” My wife and I both do this especially since we have a keen interest in helping people in the field and want to do all we can.

It is odd that we live in a world that preaches tolerance as the greatest virtue, a virtue they get wrong by the way, and yet does not really begin to understand people who are different from them. Unfortunately, one creep like the one in Newtown will get the attention. It won’t be people out there, and I’d dare include my wife and I in it, who are actively seeking to make the world a better place and do whatever we can.

Keep this in mind. The person around you did not pull a trigger. They are not guilty of a crime. They cannot help that they were born with this condition. Yes. There are some behaviors we have to control because of the way we are born, just like most anyone does. Because I am born a man for instance, I can have desire for other women, but I have to control that desire because I’ve promised myself to one. What my wife and I often say about our Asperger’s and how we behave is “It’s an explanation, not a justification.” If we do something wrong because of it, there is a reason why we have likely acted that way, but that does not justify it.

If you are hostile towards people right now on the spectrum of mental illness, you also might have an explanation right now. You’ve heard about this idiot. The same applies to you. That might explain your animosity towards the rest of us, but it sure doesn’t justify it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Autism and You

April 28, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, I’m going to write my final blog for the year on Autism Awareness Month. I will be out of town this weekend so this will have to tide everyone over for now, but I hope it has been enjoyed.

Wrapping up then, I’ve written a lot about Aspies, but what does it mean for you, who is presumably the neurotypical person. Often, we aspies are told that we have much to learn from society, and indeed we do. However, I believe that it should go both ways on that. The neurotypicals can learn a lot from their friends on the spectrum. What kind of things can be learned?

First off, we all have differences. Some of us are just genetically programmed with some very unique ones. That’s okay. Genetics doesn’t have to condemn us to a miserable life. I have told people I do not suffer with autism. I live with it. I make it a point to enjoy my life regardless of how difficult it can be at times and frankly, I’m not sure I’d even want a cure of my condition if there was one since I’ve got so used to being like this and I recognize a lot of benefits from it.

Second, things aren’t always what they seem. We can seem like we’re rude to a lot of people, but a lot of us are really not, and frankly, I think we all know that you can be neurotypical and still be a total jerk. Some people thrive on it. So someone doesn’t seem to react socially the way you do. So what? There could be areas they need to improve on, but if you look at yourself, are there not areas that you need to improve on as well?

Third, maybe some propositions you’ve believed about social interaction really are just societal. Now it could be that a lot aren’t. Of course, I am all against moral relativism, but we do know that the rules of society are not definitely written in stone and could be mistaken. Someone might ask “Why is it that you do X?” Maybe there really isn’t a good reason to do it. Maybe it just so happens that since the Aspie can be outside of the social scene easier that he can better comment on it and see problems that others cannot see.

Fourth, we all do bear God’s image despite how that image comes about in some of us. Aspies and Autists are people that need Jesus just like everyone else. They too can be reached for the gospel and they too have gifts that can be used in the service of the gospel. Depending on their range of function, it could be something small, but it could be huge as well. It won’t be known until it’s tried.

Finally, always try to be understanding. When you look at some of the ways you behave, you want other people to at least know where you’re coming from. The question to ask is if you’re giving your fellow man the same kind of treatment that you would want if you were doing the same thing.

I hope this has been a helpful look for you and next month we’ll start other topics.

Autism and Work

April 27, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been blogging on Autism Awareness Month this month and giving an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to have Asperger’s. Tonight, I’d like to take a look at autism and the workplace.

Can we hold down jobs? Yes. We can indeed. However, for our jobs, I do think employers need to realize some pieces of information about us and what I say I believe could also apply to other people as well and I believe it in fact does. I also think the same principles can be found in Aspies doing management and I have been in a position of management before as well.

To begin with, it can be easy in the workplace to treat your employees as expendable at times. The Aspie needs to know that you are willing to stick up for him in front of the customer. We have a saying that “The customer is always right.” I can’t help but think that if people believe that, then I’m going to go to the bookstore and electronics store, get everything I want, say it’s free, and remind them that the customer is always right. Well, no. The customer can get the benefit of the doubt, but they can surely be wrong.

If we see ourselves as expendable, why should we bother really giving our all? We know we can be replaced with just anyone who happens to be walking down the street that day. Now I believe that we SHOULD ideally do all we can for our bosses, but we also know that if someone is an employer, they should be seeking to make that as easy as possible for their employees.

While we’re not big on social relationships, we do want to know we matter. Get to know the people you’re working with. In my one management position, I made it a point that unless physically incapable, I would not have someone do a job I wasn’t ready to do myself. There was a time I sent someone to do a job due to having extra people on hand and when things got slowed down, I went and joined him and started asking him questions on how he was doing and what did he plan to do when he graduated from school and questions of that sort. It’s another way of showing you’re not just a cog in the machine.

Humor is of great importance. I’m reading on audio a fascinating book right now called “The Levity Effect” on how employers can benefit their companies if they learn to lighten up and it’s been incredibly revealing. We all prefer to be around people who know how to have fun and are happy. Somehow, we’ve made this mistake of thinking the opposite of being funny is being serious. No. One can be seriously funny.

The workplace needs to be a place the Aspie enjoys being in and probably having them out doing social work is not the best aspect, unless it’s a kind of work that they really enjoy, such as how I had a great job at an electronics store one time selling video games or I could work at a bookstore easily due to knowing the subject matter. In ordinary social parlay, when customers come up with statements meant to be funny, we don’t always know how to reply.

Of course, companies need to make sure they’re having good pay and hours, a safe work environment, and other such matters, but most companies already know that. Get an Aspie however and treat them right and you will find that you have an incredibly devoted employee on your hands.

Autism and the Internet

April 26, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Right now, I’m giving an insider’s look for Autism Awareness Month on what it’s like to live with Asperger’s. Tonight, I’d like to take a look at what the internet often means to those of us on the spectrum.

I’m convinced that the internet has been a blessing to many of us who are on the spectrum. After all, we are very quiet in person and do not know what to say. The internet has made it easier for us to speak. The reader can consider that this blog is the blog of someone on the spectrum who has found it easier to communicate after communicating on the net.

Before my wife and I married, seeing as both of us were Aspies, and that we lived in different cities, we found internet communication to be very important. However, we also did communicate on the phone quite a lot, which was definitely easier to do when I was driving.

My former roommate and I also met via the internet and arranged through the phone and the net our living arrangements. The age of the internet has made such communication much easier. With tools like Facebook today, you can much more easily communicate with, that person that you knew back in high school.

The internet has made it easier for me as an apologist to practice debating as on theological forums and other such places I can communicate with those who do not share my worldview. In fact, for any success attributed to me in the offline arena, I would say that part of that is based on being able to communicate on the net and learning how to have an answer ready.

The friendships that I’ve made through the medium of the net I consider invaluable. I know people from all over the world and when my wedding took place, I had people fly in from places that were quite far away to be in attendance. We communicate through the phone as well, but we know each other through the net first and I realize some of us could very well only see each other for the first time when we get to Heaven.

Today, we should be thankful that while there are great wrongs that go on on the net, just like there are anywhere else, the net is a great tool to help a lot of people on the spectrum open up. They have found their voice there. However, I would say that if possible, that should be the starting point for learning to communicate with others, but there are some skills that can be built up there.

Thus, if you want to reach someone who is an Aspie, you could do well to try to be on the internet. Ask them for their name on AIM or become a Facebook friend with them. It is a medium through which that they can learn to trust you. Once again, the soul is worth it.

Autism and Marriage

April 25, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. All this month I’ve been writing on Autism Awareness Month and giving an insider’s perspective as one diagnosed with Asperger’s. Seeing as my wife and I both have the condition, I figured I’d write about how it affects our marriage.

As an apologist, marriage is one of the best lessons I know of in theology. It is a fascinating experience to learn what it means to love your wife as Christ loved the church. None of us are perfect people after all and it can be tempting to concentrate on your spouse instead of yourself. Hence, I try, though not always successfully, to make it a point to ask when I don’t understand something my wife does or doesn’t do “Am I doing any better?” or “Am I being the good example I should be?”

Marriage is a sacred covenant after all and it’s an event where you spend the rest of your life shared with someone else. It will change your other relationships as I do remember seeing a friend of mine get married and wondering “Why does he not seem to have time for me as much any more?” Now I can see it. Your spouse has to be the first priority.

This is something I understand can be tempting to change when children come along. This must be guarded against. Children cannot know that they are more important to you than your spouse is. They need to learn that you made that covenant relationship not with them but with your spouse. This doesn’t mean you dishonor or don’t love your children of course. Love them entirely. What it means is that you must remember your priority is to please your spouse and not let it be the case that your children come to take precedence over them.

Communication is also very important. My wife and I find that we have a blessing in that we can honestly communicate with another. If I am feeling such a way, I can say “Princess. This is how I feel right now. I know that’s not the reality of it, but that’s how I feel.” She’s able to listen and say likewise with me. I make it a point to try to not be defensive when she says something to me that’s not exactly uplifting, such as if she disagrees with an action of mine. It doesn’t mean I think she’s right automatically of course, but it means I try to see where she’s coming from.

In fact, being Aspies, both of us are in counseling and we have been able to say in counseling concerns we have about how each other can improve and we’ve each been able to take it. If it’s the truth, why not go ahead and admit it? If you’re not sure, go ahead and admit that too. If it isn’t the truth, you may defend yourself of course, but watch how you do so.

There are times however where it’s not the most important thing in the world to be right. My wife knows there have been times I’ve let some disagreements drop even though I was still convinced I was in the right because I believe the unity we share is more important. As you learn in apologetics, there are some battles not worth fighting. In those cases, it is more important to be righteous than to be right.

Affirm love often. I make it a point to call my wife on every break from work or class. Even just a quick phone call is all it takes. It lets the other person know that you’re thinking about them.

Prayer and Scripture should be fundamental parts of a marriage. We don’t always do it as sometimes we’re too tired, but we usually try to read a chapter of Scripture every night and then ask the question of “How can I pray for you tonight?” and get to share our prayer requests and then pray together. Prayer together is a very bonding act.

As for bonding acts, my wife and I were both virgins when we married and we’re thankful we waited. We encourage other couples highly to do the same. However, it is not like done in the movies. In reality, there is something much deeper to sex that is not found in movies or TV. I have a great sorrow for guys that I see sleeping around or for couples that I think are living together without marriage. They’re only cheating themselves of a relationship of complete trust. Just sleeping around will treat others like an object and living together will make you think you’re under trial. Having the sacred covenant lets you be totally free and open to enjoy the love of your spouse.

Husbands need to realize that for the wife, emotional closeness in sexuality is highly important. The wife wants to be loved and affirmed in her body. However, wives also need to realize that a man when married does have physical needs and those are very important as well. This is not to say however that the physical is unimportant to the wife or the emotional unimportant to the man.

Sex will not be the most time-consuming part of your marriage, but it still will be a part of your marriage worth taking time for. It is also a part of your marriage that, like all the other parts, will require your work, but it is worth it for the tight unity that you create with your spouse when it’s just the two of you. That will not be found in the entertainment industry as sex is more than just entertainment. It is something far deeper. It is the act that is closest to experiencing the beatific vision this side of eternity.

Honor your spouse also. Since we are Aspies, my wife and I have a fierce loyalty to one another. I am the only person I know of that thinks that I do not love my wife enough. Each of us seeks to please the other fully and this has also been through our share of difficulties.

We have experienced surgery, the death of my grandmother, unemployment, financial struggles, which we are still going through, emotional crises, and emergency room trips. A minister friend told us upon meeting my wife for the first time that we are not only handling all that we go through well, but we are also thriving.

Marriage is something special in all of its aspects and like all other good things, it takes work. The rewards are well worth it as I know many of my friends have said that since my Princess came into my life that I have not been the same person, and for the better, and I see that process of sanctification going on in both of us.

We shall continue next time.