Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Irony of the Intelligent Believer

Redneck with a MohawkAlthough I believe Vox Day is profoundly uninformed (very uncharacteristic of Vox) about the inerrancy of Scripture, I regularly enjoy his commentary on WorldNetDaily and find him to usually be quite knowledgeable and entertaining. Perhaps it is because he is something of a kindred spirit. After all, how many Christian libertarians, who are both members of a Southern Baptist church and Mensa, can there be out there?

[On the very unlikely chance that Vox happens by this blog, I have provided further explanation of my disagreement with him below]

Getting on with the topic of this post, I would like to point out one commentary that I found to be particularly insightful. He answers questions that I, too, have been often asked and was sadly inept at answering.

Excerpts from Vox's article The Irony of the Intelligent Believer:
    How can you – an intelligent individual with an expensive education – possibly take seriously what is at best archaic mythology? How can someone who is otherwise considered to be smart subscribe to what amounts to nothing more than fairytales dressed up as history? And how can anyone who is clearly cognizant of Science ever declare allegiance to its great antithesis, Superstition?

    The first, and most obvious, answer is that one obviously can because others of historically remarkable intelligence have. There is no shortage of devout Christians on the list of mankind's most legendary geniuses – many of whom are still rightly revered by atheists and agnostics today.

    The second answer is a utilitarian one. Science is a whore. Her very essence precludes certainty, which is both a genuine strength and a grave weakness. It is a strength because the scientific method of testing hypotheses encourages a continual seeking after the truth, to which no one who lives by a book that declares "seek and ye shall find" should object. It is a weakness because the inherent mutability of science is at odds with the human desire for objective guidelines by which to live. This conflict tends to repeatedly create faux-sciences, which, however outmoded, are clung to with all the diehard fervor of the religious fanatic.

    As for the secular humanists who are second to none in waving the black-and-white flag of Science, the ongoing demographic collapse of their cherished equalitarian societies in every Western nation is proving their theory of religion's deleterious effect on society to be as errant and intellectually bankrupt as Freud's is with regard to the individual. Theirs is a rotten fruit indeed.

    [Third] From a utilitarian perspective, then, it makes a tremendous amount of sense for an individual or a society to live by the precepts of the Bible, even if one does so sans belief. This is, I would argue, the most purely rational position, and indeed, famous non-believers such as Voltaire and the 18th-century deists so beloved by modern atheists – as long as they stay safely buried in the 1700s – would agree.

    The fourth answer is reciprocal action. Newton's third law states that all forces occur in pairs, and that paired forces are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. Even when I was an agnostic, I marveled at the hatred and energy expended on Christians by non-Christians. I could not understand the cognitive dissonance demonstrated by the so-called experts in their rabid attempts to discredit all things even nominally related to Christianity – the nominally Jewish Anti-Defamation League's attack on the Ten Commandments being only the most ironic example of late – as well as their ready willingness to distort and even fabricate history.

Vox’s “theory” on Biblical inerrancy is uncomfortably similar to “implied Docetism” discussed by John H. Gerstner in his work titled “Biblical Inerrancy. Recognizing Vox’s lingual objections, a better theory for him to hold is as follows:

The Bible is without error in all that it teaches, on every subject, in the original manuscripts. The original Hebrew and Greek autograph copies of the Bible were inerrant. Certainly the copies of copies which have come down to us contain errors common to the craft of the copyist as do all English versions. However, with diligent study, we can ascertain the original words of the inspired writers. Consequently, the doctrine of inerrancy applies to the biblical text in our day as well -- insofar as the Bible has been accurately translated.

I would expect Vox would eminently enjoy the intellectual treatments of this topic, as do I, by the “Old Princeton” scholars, particularly B.B. Warfield’s The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. (Generally recognized as on of the best studies ever done on the subject.)

Oh, and Vox … while I’m at it … be more classy and treat a lady (Michelle) with a little more chivalry … a bit of humility wouldn’t hurt you none either! ;-D

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Dying Nothing Monster

Many scientists have a problem with the EVIDENCE they have discovered as it relates to the Big Bang, and therefore have ventured into the metaphysical arena that they claim to reject. Most often they claim that an eternal nothing suddenly and without cause went BANG!

By ascribing "eternal" characteristics to the universe, they do not escape the logical necessity for a FIRST CAUSE to the current manifestation of the universe. Furthermore, you only push the debate back into a time (as it were) where there are no observable or calculable EVIDENCES. Without evidence, you are now left with nothing more than BELIEF. Add this to the scientific fact that for order to arise from chaos, it is necessary to determine the reason why this order came to be and persists contrary to known entropic laws of the universe.

Just to make sure everyone understands this completely. The best argument scientists have against ID (cosmological, not biological) is that they have a BELIEF that is without EVIDENCE of an ETERNAL universe (eternality, by the way is an attribute of God) -- that without cause or volition – initiated the Big Bang. Wow! And I thought I was the one with a FAITH-based metaphysic!

It is clear that many scientists have closed-mindedly accepted an atheistic religious dogma that is LOGICALLY inconsistent with their own understanding of the universe and which allows them to attempt to undermine, without merit, the possibility of the existence of God. Instead, they would rather say, “Nothing Did It!” Many scientists currently worship a “Dying Nothing Monster” rolling dice with no spots.

I never really intended for my blog to become so overwhelmingly Intelligent Design centric and would rather explore some other areas, particularly politics in the future. I will continue to post on ID from time to time [I currently have a post or two in the works], but mostly intend to explore other interests in the coming months.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

No Dots, No Dice, No Sense, No Chance

No Dot DiceIntelligent Design has been criticized in comments on this blog for claiming that “God did it.” This is a straw-man fallacy about what the Christian proponents of ID also believe rather than what the essence of what ID is. (There are a large number of non-Christian and even non-theistic proponents of ID with whom I share a common cause.) It has been suggested that we ask, “What did it?” I believe what the person asking really meant was “What, other than God, did it?” In other words, their mind is closed to any solution in which God is part of the answer. While I am willing to debate upon the level playing field that God may or may not be part of origins, I will not concede that God was not involved in origins because I see overwhelming evidence and reason for the contrary. Therefore, why don’t we see if we can know what did NOT do it.

Most scientists believe that “something other than God did it,” referring to origins, and they believe that “something” is CHANCE.

R.C. Sproul has the following to say in his book titled, Not a Chance:
    We begin by asking the simple but critically important question, What is chance? Because this question is so critical, however, I think it important to first to explain why the definition of chance is so crucial.

    Words are capable of more than one meaning in their usage. Such words are highly susceptible to the unconscious or unintentional commissions of the fallacy of equivocation. Equivocation occurs when a word changes its meaning (usually subtly) in the course of an argument. We illustrate via the classic “cat with nine tails” argument.

    Premise A. No cat has eight tails.
    Premise B. One cat has one more tail than no cat.
    Conclusion: One cat has nine tails.

    We see in this “syllogism” that the word cat subtly changes its meaning. In Premise A “no cat” signifies a negation about cats. It is a universal negative. In Premise B “no cat” is suddenly given a positive status as if it represented a group of comparative realities. Premise B assumes already that cats have one tail per cat. If we had two boxes, with one box empty and the second containing a single cat, we would expect to find one more cat in that box than in the empty one. If cats normally have one tail, we would expect one more cat’s tail in one box than the other.

    The conclusion of this syllogism rests on the shift from negative to positive in the phrase no cat. The conclusion rests upon equivocation in the first premise. “No cat” is understood to mean a class of cats (positively) that actually possesses eight tails.

    Such equivocation frequently occurs with the use of the word chance. We find this in the writings of philosophers, theologians, scientists – indeed pervasively. Here’s how it works.

    On the one hand the word chance refers to mathematical possibilities. Here chance is merely a formal word with no material content. It is a pure abstraction. For example, if we calculate the odds of a coin-flip, we speak of the chances of the coin’s being turned up heads or tails. Given that the coin doesn’t stand on its edge, what are the chances that it will turn up heads or tails? The answer, of course, is 100%. There are only two options: heads and tails. It is 100% certain that one of the two will prevail. This is a bona fide either/or situation, with no tertium quid possible.

    If we state the question in a different manner, we get different odds or chances. If we ask, “What are the chances that the coin will turn heads?” then our answer will be “Fifty-fifty.”

    Suppose we complicate the matter by including a series of circumstances and ask, “What are the odds that the coin will turn up heads ten times in a row?” The mathematicians and odds-makers can figure that out. In the unlikely event that the coin turns up heads nine consecutive times, what are the odds that it will turn up heads the tenth time? In terms of the series, I don’t know. [1 in 1024 attempts of 10 consecutive flips] In terms of the single event, however, the odds are still fifty-fifty.

    Our next question is crucial. How much influence or effect does chance have on the coin’s turning up heads? My answer is categorically, “None whatsoever.” I say that emphatically because there is no possibility, real or imagined, that chance can have any influence on the outcome of the coin-toss.

    Why not? Because chance has no power to do anything. It is cosmically, totally, consummately impotent. Again, I must justify my dogmatism on this point. I say that chance has no power to do anything because it simply is not anything. It has no power because it has no being.

    I’ve just ventured into the realm of ontology, into metaphysics, if you please. Chance is not an entity. It is not a thing that has power to affect other things. It is not a thing that has power to affect other things. It is no thing. To be more precise, it is nothing. Nothing cannot do something. Nothing is not. It has no “is-ness.” I was technically incorrect even to say that chance is nothing. Better to say that chance is not.

    What are the chances that chance can do anything? Not a chance. It has no more chance to do something than nothing has to do something.
Dr. Sproul does a magnificent job at explaining the ridiculousness of change having causative power in origins. With this in mind, consider this if you will:

You have a completely empty room, there is NOTHING in it. What are the chances that in a room with nothing in it, there is a pair of dice showing seven? Okay, so you will concede, for whatever reason, that the room is not completely empty (how it is empty and not-empty at the same time or how it got that way doesn’t matter for the sake of argument you say) and it has an infinite number of monkeys in it, but it is empty you say. You will also concede, for whatever reason, that this empty room that is full of monkeys has been that way from all eternity. Furthermore, you concede that those monkeys have been rolling spotless dice that entire time. Even after all those illogical concessions (which Christians have been apt to make) the possibility of ever rolling a seven with dice that have no dots is still zero and becomes even more absurd with each unreasonable concession that is removed.

Why have we allowed the world to push us to such absurd limits? Why have Christians allowed the world, modern science, to bully us into such absurd leaps of illogic and abandonment of common sense? It all makes about as much sense as throwing dice without dots and expecting to get seven dots showing.

To the whole ridiculous absurdity I say, “No Dice!” Obviously, when scientist make the claim that “chance did it”, what they are really saying is that “Nothing did it!” Next “something” please…

I will hug it and squeeze it and call it George!

Little Atheist TrollSome Christian bloggers may not look at it this way, but I consider it immensely flattering to have my very own atheist troll hanging around my blog. It confirms that what I am writing is relevant and impactful enough to elicit another person to spend their precious time attempting to refute what I have to write about. Furthermore, the troll’s input has provided with me with enough ideas for future blog posts to last at least a year or more. Even better, my troll seem to be blog-house broken and doesn’t go around messing up the blog-carpet with senseless profanity. It [my troll] generally just sticks to caustic insults but occasionally asks a tough question that deserves an answer. Not just a flippant unconsidered response, but a truly researched and intellectual answer. I intend to attempt do so.

Unfortunately, the proper care and feeding of my troll requires more time than I rightly have to devote to it without neglecting more important matters like family and career. I have set as a reasonable goal for myself to create one major post every other week but no more than one per week. I might respond to a comment about my posts if I feel strongly about it, or I can respond quickly with little effort, or if I have a little extra time at the moment. More than likely, I will research the topic and provide a major response in a future blog post.

I have to give a heartfelt thank you to all my blog friends who have taken the time to troll-sit for me! I sincerely appreciate your contribution and improvement to this ministry. I will attempt to compensate you for your trouble with a link to your blog.

Here are some guidelines I hope to maintain on the Deathrow Bodine Blog. These guidelines are quite free right now and I hope that I am able to keep it that way.
  • Be nice to MY troll and Pecadillo will not kick YOUR cat.
  • Only Pyromaniac and Centuri0n are permitted to go about starting fires, it’s expected of them so what am I to do?
  • Please try to keep comments on topic and be systematic about your responses. (That is directed at my nice troll, but applies to all.)
  • Profanity, including abbreviations and coded profanity, is not required for intellectual debate. It will result in your entire post being deleted. If you repeatedly violate this rule, then any subsequent posts will be deleted regardless of content or lack of profanity.
  • While I highly value spelling and grammar, this hillbilly is not very good at either. As long as someone’s post is legible, don’t post comments about their intellectual competence based upon misspellings and grammar mistakes. I will likely delete these regardless of the rest of the posts value.
  • Anonymous posts are allow for now, if and only if, you use some form of signature at the bottom of your post to let us know when we are talking to the same person. Thanks go to my troll for using “DC” at the bottom of its posts.
  • Try to keep your comments relatively short. If you have a large amount to say, then post it on your blog and feel free to place a link in the comments here. Gratuitous links that are not on topic will be deleted. I will leave a lot of leeway here, but don’t complain if I delete yours. If the post would not fit the “theme” of your blog, then feel free to go ahead and leave a long post here. Don’t abuse this privilege.
  • Posts with links of others who I find in anyway disagreeable will be deleted. I leave plenty of leeway for you to disagree with me here, including limited quoting others in your post.
Please let me know if you think I am being unreasonable with these guidelines. If you have tips for how to make this a better blog, I am certainly willing to listen to good advice.


Deathrow Bodine

Friday, November 25, 2005

Head On A Platter

The recent “Brouhaha” has caused me to add my two-cents, perhaps unwisely. A more general look related but not on this topic can be found on JollyBlogger discussing Frame’s paper, Machen’s Warrior Children

I first come to “know” Phil many years ago. (although he doesn’t know me from spit) I spent quite a few hours lurking on IRC (circa 1993 and later) watching him and David Ponter logically disassemble challengers’ arguments. At that time, although I had regularly attended a typical Southern Baptist church all of my life, I had never, and I mean NEVER, considered that Christianity may be intellectually stimulating. I was quite new to the whole idea of the Doctrines of Grace and in no small measure ignorant of any kind of systematic theology. Inevitably this led me to repeatedly and unwisely break from the lurking, pop my head up to disagree; only to have it unceremoniously handed back to me on a platter. Were they gentle? No! Were polite? No! Was I as mad as a hornet? Yup! Were they correct? Well…let me put it this way… in my quest to learn enough to prove them wrong (a quest consuming years), I was usually persuaded to most of their views in my searching of the Scriptures.

What have I learned from this? How should we contend for those things that we believe? How do we properly respond to correction from other Christians?
  1. First and foremost, submit to the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Do not persist in defending you position for pride’s sake when you know you are wrong.
  2. If you are clearly academically outclassed, you would be best served to spend some time studying the scriptures. It is pointless to debate from a position of ignorance unless it is an exercise for learning with an elder or a mentor who you are being discipled by.
  3. Don’t be a candy-britches that can’t cope with a little contention. Our culture has so feminized itself that a good wrestling match among brothers is viewed as “violence” rather than iron sharpening iron. Skip the pop-psychology teachings of conflict avoidance/resolution and concentrate on the Biblical concept of constructive controlled expression, while avoiding unbridled passion. See my post on Christian Anger
  4. Over the years you will find, in your searching of the scriptures, that certain individuals, authors, and teachers will demonstrate themselves to be exceptionally trustworthy in understanding Scripture; deviate from their path with extreme caution, especially if you have not mastered the subject at least as well as they have.
  5. If you are forced because of time or inability to rely upon another’s scholarship that you have found trustworthy, do not do your cause a disservice by engaging opponents that you are clearly not equipped to debate.
  6. Our pride and our actions are not worthy of contentious defense. Scriptural truths are. If you find yourself defending yourself rather than Scriptural truths, humility is probably the best course of action. Often conceding offense and making an apology for ones actions is preferred, even if you had not acted inappropriately.
  7. If a brother’s behavior or actions are unjustly maligned, be quick to defend him so that he does not have to. If he is being justly accused, your silence will speak volumes. If the brother is particularly close, work for his restoration.
  8. Naturally, we have an affinity for and seek to defend those who have mentored or discipled us in a powerful way. What we all too often forget is that “the master” can take care of himself, and we end up doing more harm than good.
  9. When we find ourselves in a debate with someone who has mentored or discipled large numbers of people over and extended period of years (i.e. James White), they will necessarily have less spiritually mature disciples who will seek to defend them. Remember, they are not your target or concern. Convince “the master” and his disciples will follow. You are unlikely to “convert” them by direct confrontation and it takes your emphasis away from the task at hand. Rest assured that they are closely following the debate between you and their mentor.
  10. And finally, correct those you mentor if they become too rancorous.

I realize that Phil Johnson is only at the periphery of this “Brouhaha” and this post is not intended as a commentary on his actions or anyone’s in particular. I am using this post to demonstrate that through contentious debate, in spite of the immediate tension, that fruit of the spirit is produced. I am using my experience with Phil as an example of how, even though I was as mad as the bloody blue blazes at him, Christian contention is a refiner’s fire. It may make us uncomfortable and temporarily separate us, but over the long run God is using it to grow the church, of this we can be sure.

I am sure that Phil has no idea of the lives he has touched. He probably doesn’t get to hear very often that the Lord extends the work He does through him beyond his wildest imagination. Even though I am sure that Phil would/will unceremoniously hand me my head on a platter in the future, I feel greatly indebted to him for all that he has unknowingly taught me. For better or worse, I guess you could call me one of Pyromaniac’s Warrior Children…

Thursday, November 24, 2005

IDiots and the Flying Spaghetti Monster

The biggest smirks in society today are on the faces of participants in the rhetoric of ridicule known as the "Flying Spaghetti Monster." We should not let this dishearten us; it is something from which we should gain encouragement and confidence. The very fact that the most popular and influential defense of the naturalistic theory of origins is a pop culture fad reminiscent of juvenile schoolyard taunts is evidence of which side of the debate will likely have the last laugh.

As further evidence for encouragement, even when the an attempt is made to intellectually defend naturalistic origins (cosmological and biological) it is done in such a shrill, mean, hateful manner that the argument is obscured by the explosive behavior from the Darwinian Jihad. The tenor of Darwinian Fundamentalists has become so rancorous that many are beginning to doubt the credibility of the priests of the Darwinian religion. In fact, the childishness, overt deceptions, and intentional mischaracterizations, and lack of intellectual dialogue have been so commonplace that elements of pop culture have even noticed. For example: Scott Adams, who specifically said he is not a believer in Intelligent Design, said over at the DilbertBlog:
    I’ve been doing lots of reading on the subject, trying to gather comic fodder. I fully expected to validate my preconceived notion that the Darwinists had a mountain of credible evidence and the Intelligent Design folks were creationist kooks disguising themselves as scientists. That’s the way the media paints it. I had no reason to believe otherwise. The truth is a lot more interesting. Allow me to set you straight.

Dean Esmay, a self avowed atheist and science geek over at Dean’s World, said:
    Adams, who appears to be about as religious as a bowl of Cheerios, recently committed the crime of being less than absolutely condemning of the idea of Intelligent Design, and, even worse, of suggesting that maybe they raised some valid points worth considering. He was, predictably, avalanched with ugly criticism.

Click here for More Fallout from Scott Adams’ ID Post

The failure to recognize the Intelligent Design proponents as serious intellectual challengers will only serve to inhibit the humanistic evolutionists from mounting an intellectual response. The use of the rhetoric of ridicule and the law as a bludgeon has had its short term successes in shaping political debate; don't knock the mock. Nonetheless, it always fails to “move armies or pull down empires. Intelligent design is already more than a simple matter of academic speculation, it has matured well past being a mere scientific hypothesis and is well on its way (if not already) a genuine scientific theory.

On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that Scott Adams also directed his statements at the proponents of Intelligent Design. Even if he is “just a comic strip artist,” we have to take heed of what he says because most of what he says is correct. He says:
    To me, the most fascinating aspect of the debate over Darwinism versus Intelligent Design is that neither side understands the other side’s argument. Better yet, no one seems to understand their own side’s argument. But that doesn’t stop anyone from having a passionate opinion.

Here is some direction that I would like to leave you with. It is what I believe we should understand about this topic and some of how we need to precede to be relevant and creditable.
    Now we Reformed Christians are wholly in earnest about the Bible. We are people of the Word; Sola Scriptura is our cry; we take Scripture to be a special revelation from God himself, demanding our absolute trust and allegiance. But we are equally enthusiastic about reason, a God-given power by virtue of which we have knowledge of ourselves, our world, our past, logic and mathematics, right and wrong, and God himself; reason is one of the chief features of the image of God in us. And if we are enthusiastic about reason, we must also be enthusiastic about contemporary natural science, which is a powerful and vastly impressive manifestation of reason.

    To think about it properly, one must obviously know a great deal of science. On the other hand, the question crucially involves both philosophy and theology: one must have a serious and penetrating grasp of the relevant theological and philosophical issues. And who among us can fill a bill like that? Certainly I can't. The scientists among us don't ordinarily have a sufficient grasp of the relevant philosophy and theology; the philosophers and theologians don't know enough science; consequently, hardly anyone is qualified to speak here with real authority. This must be one of those areas where fools rush in and angels fear to tread. Whether or not it is an area where angels fear to tread, it is obviously an area where fools rush in.
    - Alvin Plantinga

We need for our theologians and philosophers to more diligently pursue the study of science. We need for our scientist to more diligently study philosophy and especially theology. We need to learn not only how to construct an argument, but the purposes, responsibilities, and consequences of engaging in one. Ours should be a rhetoric of logic, humbly applied to an area where we cannot foolishly rush in, even if we are reasonably well informed.

Finally, as a simple hillbilly southern boy (actually more redneck than hillbilly), I know full well the power of being underestimated and the ridicule that comes with it. My advice is to own it, enjoy it, and use it.

Viva la FSM!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Nonrational Fantasy World of Experience

Atheism (a=lack of or negation, theism=belief in God/gods) is a lack of belief in a God or gods.

The atheist either denies that there is a God or gods (strong atheism), or denies that there is a ground for theism (weak atheism).

Atheism is not about knowledge, but about belief. The strong atheist simply believes that it is impossible for there to be a god. The weak atheist believes that unless theism can be proved in some way then atheism is the preferred position. Weak atheism is sometimes confused with agnosticism; this is a natural conclusion because in application and practice there is little difference. The word agnosticism is derived from the Greek a- (negation) and -gnosis (knowledge). Simply put, an agnostic is one who says: "I don't know".

Both weak atheism and agnosticism are victims of the logical fallacy called “Appeal to Ignorance.” An appeal to ignorance is an argument for or against a proposition on the basis of a lack of evidence against or for it. If there is positive evidence for the conclusion, then of course we have other reasons for accepting it, but a lack of evidence by itself is no evidence.

The atheist will sometimes try to wiggle out of this difficulty by claiming that it is reasonable to argue from a lack of evidence for a proposition to the falsity of that proposition, when there is a presumption that the proposition is false.. Likewise, sometimes the atheist will try reason from premises about what one knows and what one would know if something were true. Clearly, both of these arguments quickly degenerate into circular reasoning. Circular reasoning is any form of argument in which the conclusion occurs as one of the premises, or a chain of arguments in which the final conclusion is a premise of one of the earlier arguments in the chain. Usually, an argument begs the question when it assumes any controversial point not conceded by the other side. In this case, “what one would know if God exists.”

Another tactic the atheist will use is to claim an omniscient completeness of information or make the assumption of reasonably complete information. This is often called the "closed world assumption". Obviously, the claim of omniscient completeness is without merit because claiming omniscience presupposes oneself to be a god. However, when it is reasonable to accept the “closed world assumption”, it may not be a fallacy of appeal to ignorance to reason this way. But when is it reasonable to accept the “closed world assumption?” This assumption can only be validly made when the boundaries of the system or “world” being observed can be clearly delineated and external factors isolated. Certainly, it is difficult if not impossible to clearly delineate, without presupposing the thesis, the boundaries of the universe or isolate it from external factors, i.e. God. As weak as this tactic is, the methodological naturalist understands it is the most stable sand upon which he can build his foundation and place his faith in.

In the words of Paul Draper, naturalism is “the hypothesis that the physical universe is a ‘closed system’ in the sense that nothing that is neither a part nor a product of it can affect it. So naturalism entails the nonexistence of all supernatural beings, including the theistic God.”

If upon this sand is where the methodological naturalist wishes to build his religious home, then upon it they must stand to face the storms of conflicts, paradox, and dilemmas that accompany it.

Van Wylen and Sonntag, in the college textbook Fundamentals of Classical Thermodynamics say:

    The final point to be made is that the second law of thermodynamics and the principle of the increase of entropy have philosophical implications. Does the second law of thermodynamics apply to the universe as a whole? Are there processes unknown to us that occur somewhere in the universe, such as “continual creation,” that have a decrease in entropy associated with them, and thus, offset the continual increase in entropy that is associated with the natural processes that are known to us? If the second law is valid for the universe (we of course do not know if the universe can be considered as an isolated system), how did it get in the state of low entropy? On the other end of the scale, if all processes known to us have an increase in entropy associated with them, what is the future of the natural world as we know it?

    Quite obviously it is impossible to give conclusive answers to these questions on the basis of the second law of thermodynamics alone. However, we see the second law of thermodynamics as a description of the prior and continuing work of a creator, who also holds the answer to our future destiny and that of the universe.

Of course, as stridently as many modern scientists claim to hold fast to that shifting sand, they know, and all of society unconsciously knows, that they have lost their logical moorings. The only escape is an escape from reason and that is what they have done. Francis Schaeffer explains this best in the book Escape from Reason:

Man is dead. God is dead. Life has become meaningless existence, man a cog in a machine. The only way of escape lies in a nonrational fantasy world of experience, drugs, absurdity, pornography, an elusive "final experience," madness...

A million so-called scientists can in irrational rage continue to ridicule and claim with authority that Intelligent Design is not science, but that does nothing to justify their own religion of self worship.

"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual." [Galileo Galilei]

Monday, November 14, 2005

Is Christianity Rational?

Book and GlassesThere are two incorrect ways to look at Christian doctrine. One is to take an anti-intellectual approach; the other is to take an overly rigid rational approach

Unfortunately, too many modern Christians have made it all too easy for "evangelical humanists" to level the charge against Christianity of being irrational. I addressed this problem in a previous post called Battling Evangelical Anti-Intellectualism

Anti-Intellectualism has become the scandal of evangelicalism. Over the course of two hundred years, it has gradually become part and parcel of our evangelical identity. Yet today the failure to love God with our minds as well as our hearts is not only a sin - it’s a crippling cultural handicap in an age when ideas have greater consequences than ever.- Os Guiness

Fortunately, it has not always been this way. The Puritans in the early period of America were renowned for their impeccable logic and a scholastic emphasis that permeated to every person in society. They considered religion a very complex, subtle, and highly intellectual affair, and their leaders (both Civil and Religious) thus were highly trained scholars.

In fact, the most educated and best-informed scientists in history have been humble believers in the Scriptures (e.g., Francis Bacon, Copernicus, Sir Isaac Newton, Pascal, Pasteur, Kepler, Thomas Bayes, and others). For these great thinkers, the search for the laws of nature and understanding a rational order was an act of devotion that would reveal the glory and grandeur of God’s work. This is the paradigm for the great majority of all scientific discovery, even today.

However, the overly rigid rational approach is not a proper Christian perspective either. It is wrong and intellectually arrogant to think that we can explain every aspect of Christian doctrine. There are some things that are simply beyond our finite, human ability to grasp or understand, to speak nothing of our fallen nature which has corrupted our ability to always possess perfect reason. That is not to say that we can or should accept paradox, but we must, at times recognize those things which are a mystery. In a previous article I have stated that two ways to gain knowledge are through reason and experience, a third method is from the Bible. God reveals himself in us, being created in his image (a priori). He reveals himself in nature which we can search out via objective scientific observation/evidence (a posteriori). And finally he reveals himself in the Holy Scripture, the truth of which he confirms to us directly by the Holy Spirit.

When we find ourselves confronted with a mystery, it is at those times that we must cling to the Scriptures. Sola Scriptura! Monergism List of Articles

Colossians 2 (ESV)
1For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.

You see, the proper Christian view is a balanced one. It is humble and does not claim to "know-it-all." But the Christian faith is not irrational, nor is it anti-rational. It does not go against reason, but it does sometimes go beyond it.

Nonetheless, even without Scripture or the work of the Holy Spirit, the honest person must admit that while the there is more reason to believe in Christianity’s core doctrines than not to believe.

C.S. Lewis perhaps said it best: "the weight of the evidence" for mere Christianity--Christianity's core doctrines--is on the side of the Christian.

Bottom line: Christianity is overwhelmingly the most rational system of belief (or unbelief) in this world. Ours is a reasoned faith. It is not a blind faith but is, in fact, faith in based in reason, evidence, and revelation.

Next Post: The irrationality and the increasing irrationality of the post-modern scientific faith: methodological naturalism.

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Side Note From Yesterday's Topic: Abortion

Nascar BabyIn the epistemological discussion posted yesterday, there are some truths that arise that I wanted to post today as a side note:

As discussed yesterday, we know that rational knowledge exists before experience. Assuming that someone with no experience could exist, we still could not say that they had no knowledge. The possession of knowledge necessarily implies that the person has existence. Therefore, it cannot be said that just because an individual does not or has not yet experienced the world that the he is not a person, does not exist, or is not alive.

These truths are monumental when you consider abortion. It is with certainty that we can know that if a fetus reacts to his environment, then he is alive, because to react you must be able to perceive, and to perceive implies empirical experience.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Intelligent Design, Science, & Epistemology

Mankind has sought knowledge since the very beginning. Like never before in history, people seek to understand the world around them. Unlike ever before in history, many people simply seek to add to some segment of the 'body of knowledge' without seeking an overall understanding of it. To begin to understand, we must first ask: What is knowledge? What do we really know for sure? Can we ever know something to be absolutely true?

Knowledge based on reason, such as mathematical truths (e.g. 2+2=4) can be said to be absolutely true. They are true by definition or by epistemological necessity. Philosophers refer to these truths as rational or a priori truths, meaning that they are true prior to experience. These statements can take the form of two equal sides, like an equation, as in the statement "A bachelor is a male and unmarried". They may also take the form of describing properties of a definable or theoretic concept, such as 'all triangles have three sides'. The equation or logical construct itself is a form of knowledge which is necessary for the definition to make any sense at all.

Again, knowledge based upon correct reasoning is absolutely true and cannot be otherwise. It is significant that we could not say this of something we empirically observe in the world. We could not say 'All bachelors are bald' and know it to be true. Even if we could examine every living bachelor we could not say that the statement is true, because we cannot examine every bachelor that ever was or ever will be. Thus, because we can know rational truths without having to experience or empirically verify them in the world, then by definition, they give us a foundational structure to deal with the world as we experience it.

The source of rational knowledge is independent of experience and these truths remain equally true whether an individual is aware of them or not. However, we can learn by experience, and as such experience is another source of knowledge. However, experience is a less reliable teacher because there is always the possibility for statements from experience to be false. Philosophers call these statements empirical or a posteriori truths, meaning true after experience. Plato called them a "true belief" and did not even ascribe them the level of truth.

Rational knowledge provides the structure, empirical knowledge provides content. Knowing rational truths gives us reliability and certainty. We can expand rational truths and use them as tools, for example if we know A=B, and B=C, then we necessarily know that A=C. However, while these truths provide us with much general information, they provide very little precise information about the world in which we live. Because of this, the empiricist says that rational truths are of little relevance in day to day living. This ignores the fact that any empirical truth is foundationally based upon rational truths and how a person lives his life. If all a person wants to do is get through the day and does not care how he is blown about by the winds of every fad philosophy or manipulated by the authors of popular culture, then rational truth indeed matters little.

Experience allows us to survive, acquire skills and to hone those skills as we gain more and more experience in using them. However, whilst experience has great utility, it does not explain the scale of human knowledge compared to animals that experience the world.

Granted, there is relatively little that we can know based upon pure reason alone. As a source of knowledge the strength of rational statements lies in reliability and predictability, but not in breadth or applicability. However, when we look not just at single rational statements, but at rational arguments (premise + premise = conclusion) we can see that the logic/reason is immensely useful. For example, if the premises are not true then, even though the construct is rational and logical, the argument remains false. This methodology allows us to perform logical operations on our empirical knowledge and in doing so arrive at potentially new knowledge. Also, empirical experience allows us to test the truth of logical arguments.

Full knowledge comprises both rational and empirical knowledge and thus is not complete without both of its parts. While we can conclude that reason is the stronger/foundational source for knowledge, it must be stated that complete knowledge must come from both sources because they are inextricably linked in the acquisition, storing, manipulation, and use of additional knowledge. Therefore, by applying rational and logical methods to experience we can accelerate the acquisition of empirical knowledge.

This is the approach taken in science. The scientific method involves making a logical prediction based upon previous observations. We do not know that it is true, but we can test this hypothesis with further experience. In order to record and communicate this experience logical systems or mathematical models are used to describe the experience, for example by applying a mathematical formula to match the results of an experiment.

Intelligent design involves making a logical prediction for an intelligent designer of biological organisms based upon previous observations of manifestations of irreducible complexity and specified Shannon information (concept in information theory). The prediction that an intelligent designer is uniquely responsible for certain types of order found in complex systems can be and has been proven countless times with items all around us. Enough proofs that anyone should be able to legitimately call the hypothesis a "theory." Nonetheless, even a hypothesis is certainly a valid scientific concept that should be taught and scientifically considered. Clearly, the intelligent design approach is undeniably "science."

The honest scientist cannot dismiss ID by ridicule or the logical fallacy of authority. He must deal with the problem both rationally and empirically.

First, the methodological naturalist must deal with logical inconsistency of his own beliefs. He subscribes to a deterministic world-view in which the universe is nothing but a chain of meaningless events following one after another according to the law of cause and effect. This world-view gives rise to the logical inconsistency of the inability to posit a first cause. Furthermore, he rejects any form of metaphysical volition which undermines the ability to think or do anything other than that which physical and chemical processes determined anything he thinks or does. This logical inconsistency undermines rationality itself.

Second, Methodological naturalism lacks empirical foundations for an evolutionary progress emerging from undirected random events. Nowhere in nature can it be proven that specified and irreducible complexity has come about by anything other than direct influence by intelligence. In fact, the opposite is universally found. Without the influence of intelligent interaction, order naturally proceeds to disorder and a lower energy state. (I actually had a Ph.D. physicist say to me, the evolutionary process is directed by undirected random events.)

Third, the modern form of strictly empirical scientific investigation into nature is plagued by an inevitable confusion over a central philosophical issue, that of knowledge. By rejecting absolute truths derived from a priori rational knowledge, they necessarily reject the very foundations of the scientific method.

However, the Christian cannot be satisfied by simply demonstrating how "unscientific" that methodological naturalism is. We must test our hypothesis/theory. We must document, record, and communicate this experience with logical systems and mathematical models. We must demonstrate the validity and repeatability of our mathematical models by predicting the results of future experiments.

The price for our ignorance of these subjects will be more than cultural ridicule and irrelevance; it almost certainly means severe judgment from our Sovereign Lord, Himself. The Scriptures are very clear concerning the price of ignorance. The prophet Hosea said that God’s people perish for lack of knowledge.

Hosea 4:6

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Religion of Secular Humanism

Ordination from Church of Secular Humanism

Religion - A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

Secular humanism as an organized philosophical system (a religion) is relatively new, but its foundations can be found in the ideas of classical Greek philosophers such as the Stoics and Epicureans as well as in Chinese Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. (all traditionally considered religions) These philosophical views looked to human beings rather than gods to solve human problems.

Secular humanism has its own organized belief system, publications and “preachers”. Like other religions, it also has a goal: the supplanting of all other religions with its own. It also receives a religious tax exemption.

While secular humanism may not have a mystical aspect, it is a religion nonetheless. It has a doctrine or statement of principles. The imposition of those principles without the equal imposition of contrary statements of principles is a violation of the establishment clause of the Constitution.

The first document describing the beliefs of a secular humanist, the Humanist Manifesto I -1933, refer to themselves in the very first principle as “religious.” It says, “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.” Furthermore, secular humanism described itself as being a religion again in the fifth, seventh, eighth, twelfth, thirteenth, and other sections of the Humanist Manifesto

Humanist Manifesto II – 1973 is slightly less emphatic in describing secular humanism as “religious. It was not until 1980 with the Secular Humanist Declaration did they begin to not call themselves religious. Why did they do so?

It is because the U.S. Supreme Court recognized it to be a religion in 1961 in the case Torkoso v. Watkins. They begin to find it very difficult to IMPOSE their BELIEFS using the FORCE of the government because of the establishment clause of the Constitution.

Interestingly the Humanist Manifesto II – 1973 still said that, “The state should encourage maximum freedom for different moral, political, religious, and social values in society. It should not favor any particular religious bodies through the use of public monies, nor espouse a single ideology and function thereby as an instrument of propaganda or oppression, particularly against dissenters.”

The secular humanist had a problem at this point because they held that the state should not “ESPOUSE A SINGLE IDEOLOGY…” Even those who incorrectly deny that secular humanism is a religion cannot deny that it is an ideology. Therefore, they had to purge any mention of this in their next “Manifesto.” Look up the Humanist Manifesto III.

Clearly, any open-minded and thoughtful observer would identify secular humanism as a religion. It is only those that would seek to deceive and oppress that would state otherwise. The shifting and convolutions of the Humanist Manifestos are clear indications that Secular Humanists are using deception and fraud to supplant all other religions with its own, not by the superiority of their ideas, but rather by the force and might of the government.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A Systematic Christian Political Philosophy - Part 2

Again, I find my self in need of taking another step backwards in order to move forward. It was recommended that I needed to explore the foundational purpose or function of government before determining the best form of government. This makes perfect sense. After all, doesn’t form follow function? Some would disagree, but I would prefer not to get into a debate about art and architecture. It is simply that I must acknowledge that my own way of thinking proceeds most naturally where function is foundationally considered prior to determining form, nonetheless I recognize that God has created certain forms to solve certain functions (a manifestation of natural law, if you will). [As an interesting diversion, click on the architecture link above and read the article by Douglas Jones in Credenda Agenda substituting the word government for the word architecture.]

What is human government in its most foundational form?

Government, in its essence, is force. Precisely, it is legal force. Government is endowed legally with the right to use legal force to compel its citizens to do certain things and not to do other things.

Where does government come from?

The original form of government is rested in the rule and authority of God himself. God is the Author and Creator of the universe and is ultimately vested with the authority over it. God has delegated some of that authority to mankind. That means that government is tasked, by God, with the obligation and authority to enforce the laws which are established by it.

Why is government necessary?

Augustine made the observation that government is a necessary evil. He said that in this world, among fallen creatures, you will never find a morally perfect government. Governments, and government itself, are/is evil, but a necessary evil. The reason it is necessary is because fallen humans are predisposed to evil and require restraint from acting evilly. The Christian acknowledgement of a foundational necessity of government therefore precludes anarchism from being a political form of government consistent with a Christian political philosophy.

What is the fundamental purpose of government?

Romans 13:1-6 and 1 Peter 2:12-14 not only confirm the ultimate source of and necessity of government, but also provides us with some insight into the fundamental purpose of government.

The primary purpose of government is to exercise restraint upon human evil. The primary purpose by which government was created was to exercise restraint upon human evil to preserve the very possibility of human existence.

The first task of government is to protect, support, and maintain human life. That is the ultimate reason for government, to protect human life from the destructive impulses of others human beings.

The second task of government is the protection of human property. This not only means the restraining theft; but also to regulate agreements, uphold contracts, and insure just weights and measures which prevent human beings from defrauding other human beings.

Third, the government is not only to protect humanity from other humans, but also to protect creation itself from fallen humanity. Government has the responsibility to regulate how we treat animals, manage the environment, and ultimately all of His creation.

What is not a purpose of the government?

Dr. Steve Cowan has pointed out to me, in other correspondence, that Jesus himself tells us that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36); and Paul tells us that our citizenship is in heaven; and Peter reminded us that in this world we are pilgrims and strangers. Dr. Cowan further points out that, in addition to these statements, it is a fact that we never see the apostles combating idolatry or seeking to promote the Christian religion through political means.

Therefore, all of these things warn us against requiring too much of the civil government with regard to religion. It would seem, from these points, that God requires of government a secular purpose, the establishing and maintaining of justice and social order, not the establishment and propagation of the Christian faith. Instead, that authority, duty, and responsibility rests squarely upon the shoulders of the Church and God’s providence. These premises seemingly eliminate theonomy from being a political form of government consistent with a Christian political philosophy, at least federally. Even if not, they so weaken its case as to require almost overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

In the next post, I will explore what the United States founding fathers believed about the purpose of government. While not all were Christians, never before (nor since) has a government been established (formed) that was more influenced by Christianity and Biblical principles.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Toward A Systematic Christian Political Philosophy

I recently set out to find or formulate a consistent and systematic Christian political philosophy. I cannot even begin to describe what I discovered in my searching these last few weeks without making the understatement of the century, “Overwhelming!” The search and research has consumed my free time, my sleep, and nearly every free waking moment. Besides being tired, frustrated, and a lot better informed than I was a few weeks ago, I feel like I have accomplished little or nothing. This explains much of the reason why it has been such a long time since I last posted.

My methodology and guidelines were relatively simple. I would start out by evaluating existing political ideologies / philosophies and determine which best aligns with Scripture and attempt to discard those which were clearly not Christian. From there the problem snowballed, I found that there were so many systems and subsystems that overlapped and internally contradicted themselves logically that I was more confused than when I started.

Regrouping from the frustration it all, I then tried to determine if there were more basic questions that needed to be answered in order to break the problem down into a set of simpler problems.

What is the most Biblical “form” of government or political system? What spheres of life does government impact and what limit or extent is the Biblical role in each sphere? Are these spheres impacted differently by different levels of government? What is the Christian’s proper role or involvement in the political process? Over the coming weeks I hope to deal extensively with each of these topics. This is a learning process for me, please leave comments. I will start by trying to “narrow the field” to those forms of government that are the consistent with the Christian faith.

What is the most Biblical “form” of government or political system?

Does the Bible prescribe a preferred form of government? In seeking biblical wisdom on this topic I looked first in the Proverbs.

Consider Proverbs 28:
Reading Proverbs 28, there is no particular indication of what form of government is preferred in the teachings to the "ruler", it only deals with the “righteousness and holiness” of the ruler. This seems to be a consistent theme through the entire Bible. If God had an overwhelming preference for a particular form of government, it seems that He would have specifically prescribed it in scripture in some place. Even if you go searching for such a prescription for governmental systems in scripture, the closest you will find might be some sort of a benevolent monarchy. I certainly don’t believe that is the most Christian form of government (as you will see below), but it demonstrates my point.

Consider Colossians 1:15-18 (also 1 Peter 2:13-14)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Again, it is obvious that God’s concern is not so much with the form of government, but rather that the leaders of whatever form of government that exists are subject to Him and holds Christ as preeminent. This fact in itself, while not prescriptive, does give us an idea about the form of government is best. It MUST be one in which the leader may hold Christ as preeminent. Clearly, any authoritarian religious based system (excepting a Christian Theocracy) would never allow the rulers to be subject to God and hold Christ as preeminent. [Note: While I do not favor a Christian Theocracy, it must be granted that it passes this test.] There are many forms of secular humanist authoritarian governments, which should be considered "religious based" and can be eliminated right along with Islamic and any other religious based authoritarian government.

Secondarily, any form of government that might be selected by Christians must consider the fundamental state of human nature. It is my belief that the founders of the United States established our form of government not based directly on some Biblical prescriptive, but rather upon a proper understanding of what the Bible says about the fallen nature of mankind. And since men have a fallen nature, they are inclined to preside over corrupt governments. They chose our system because it provided the checks and balances that minimizes the abuses of power that are inevitable of fallen men who are also in positions of power. Most governmental systems themselves are not inherently corrupt; it is the men that rule that are inherently corrupt.

What forms of government might satisfy both the primary and secondary tests I stated above? Are there any other Biblical tests that need to be applied?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Christian Anger

To be "An Angry Christian" begs readers to ask these questions: Isn’t anger a sin? Is it possible to be angry without sinning? Are the terms "angry" and "Christian" contradictory?

First, in order for a Christian to even begin to claim that anger is an emotion that we might validly hold, we must first ask if it is an attribute of God which we might share with Him since we are created in His image.

Certainly, it is clear that among God’s own attributes, most of which we consider by most men to be beautiful, is also the attribute of anger or wrath. The Old Testament is filled with manifestations of God’s anger and wrath both on the Israelites and the Gentile/Pagan nations alike. The New Testament demonstrates Christ Himself becoming angry with the money-changers in the temple and also insulting, chiding, cajoling and scolding the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Priests. The grand finale of the New Testament is Revelation which speaks of the Day of the Lord, also called the Day of God's Wrath (Rev. 6:17; 14:10; 15:1; 16:1, 19:15). Even the great Jonathan Edwards spoke of anger as an attribute of God in his famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."

While it is clear that anger is an attribute of God, who also possesses the perfect righteousness and holiness that enables Him to act justly and show mercy in His anger, does that mean that Christians are also capable of the same?

In describing the fruits of the spirit and those fruits contrary to the spirit (Galatians 5:16-25 and Romans 1:28-32), anger in and of itself is not mentioned. Therefore, while anger is not a usually considered fruit of the spirit, it is also not contrary to the spirit. What we have to be careful to observe is that anger very often leads to a lack of self-control or "outbursts or fits" which is contrary to fruits of the spirit. We can see that there is a very fine line between anger and the sins that often come forth from anger.

Some Christians maintain that if we are truly spiritual, we will never become angry, or never express it if we do. However, the Bible approves of anger in some instances, but with warnings about it.

Jesus was angry on occasion, but also warned about it. When people were watching him to see if they could accuse him of healing on the Sabbath, he "looked around at them in anger," was distressed about their attitude, and went ahead and healed the man (Mark 3:1-6). However, he also said that people angry at someone (perhaps without cause) were subject to judgment (Matthew 5:22).

Both Old and New Testaments tell us, "In your anger, do not sin." (Psalm 4:4; Ephesians 4:26). Paul to tells the Ephesians to get over their anger soon, and continues on telling them to "get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger" (4:31).

Both Old and New Testaments point out the importance of being "slow to anger." Jonah lamented the fact that God was slow to anger. James notes that we should be "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" if we want righteousness (James 1:19).

Anger is one of those things that may be sinful at some times and not at others, so we must be very careful of the danger of falling into sin when we become angry.

What is needed is neither complete suppression nor unbridled expression, but a controlled expression. Rather than the result being bitterness or rage, anger can result in appropriate confrontation.

When Paul tells us, "Be angry, but do not sin," (Eph 4:26) he indicates a legitimate kind of anger. We can think of times that we have lost our temper. But we also know, almost instinctively, that there is such a thing as righteous anger, that we should be angry about certain things.

The inability to become angry about injustice — about abortion, racism, or child molestation for example — indicates a soul lacking any sense of truth and morality.

So when is anger sinful and when is it not? How should we manage our anger such that it is constructive controlled expression and not unbridled passion? These questions are probably best answered by prayerful contemplation of the scriptures. Here are a few verses to get you started:

2 Corinthians 12:20, Psalm 4:4, Psalm 37:8, Psalm 103:8, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 22:24-25, Proverbs 27:4, Proverbs 29:8, Proverbs 29:11, Proverbs 29:22, Proverbs 30:33, Ecclesiastes 7:9, Matthew 5:22, Ephesians 4:25-27, Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8, 1 Timothy 2:8, James 1:19-20, Romans 12:19

With this in mind, let us consider our own anger. As a passion, anger is not always wrong except when it strays from right reason. The problem is not that we grow angry but that we do so about the wrong things (traffic, sports, and schedules) and in the wrong way (insulting remarks and even physical harm). More often than not our anger proceeds from pride and is directed toward our own convenience: what we want, when we want it, how we want it, etc. Rather than seek the good of others or the glory of God.

Oddly enough, the same culture that has produced "aggressive drivers" and anger management seminars seems unable to grow angry about the right things. We should be furious about the spiritual devastation all around us: the lies about sexuality, the deceit of the young, and the neglect of God. We should be angry that God is offended and that souls are in danger. Such a well-ordered passion would prompt us to resist boldly the evils around us. Instead, we take offense at what inconveniences us and ignore what offends God. It is a sign of disordered passions when a man can lose his temper over traffic but sit by calmly while innocent unborn children are slaughtered by the truckload everyday.

In summary, the important things to remember are:

A Christian might become legitimately angry about sin and injustice in the world, but should not remain perpetually so. A Christian must remember that anger may very easily lead to sin and should constantly guard his conscience against it. A Christian must always learn and practice self control lest even anger born in righteousness quickly deteriorate into an abomination before the Lord. A Christian must always remember that vengeance is the Lord's and we have no right to exact vengeance, ever.

Much of the modern so-called Christian subculture has often become so impotent that nothing angers them. Without righteous anger, nothing moves them to become involved in culture; the salt has lost its savor. On the other hand, modern existentialist and anarchistic subcultures wallow in a hopeless and nihilistic rage that consumes them in despair.

We should not strive to be another Christian sub-culture like so much of modern Christianity --- which is really just another current moving in the same direction as the cultural river that leads to hell. No, we need to be part of THE true counter-culture. There is only one true counter-culture and that is the culture of authentic Christianity. We should be "Contra Mundum" – against the world. We are legitimately the antithesis of a post-modern culture and should seek to live each day "Coram Deo" – before the face of God! We should strive to live the proper balance of SALTY and HOLY. Imperfectly to be sure, but nonetheless our eyes are set upon Christ and Him crucified.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cowan Chronicles

I recently discovered a fabulous blog! Cowan Chronicles by Steve Cowan. Steve is a Christian philosopher who exemplifies what it means to be a Christian intellectual without being guilty of intellectualism.

He has an article on his site entitled Religion without Absolutes? This article discusses a so-called new religion. They call themselves Universists

The Universist webpage states:

A person's perception of reason is relative. Each mind is a unique combination of the myriad forces of biological evolution, the physical laws of nature, unique personal experiences and environment. Thus, there is no uniform belief about the ultimate nature of existence. There is no set creed, no dogma, and there are no religious authorities who dictate beliefs or behavior in Universism. Each Universist explores these questions within their mind, and also through discussion and debate with others.

[I think my head just exploded.]

Consider the first sentence: A person's perception of reason is relative.

First, how does the Universist define "reason"? Second, while "perception" might be relative that does not mean that "reason" (valid logical construction) is relative. Third, if the Universist does not define "reason" as a logical premise / conclusion construction, then they should use a different word or at the least disclose how they define it. Forth, isn't this statement offering up unquestionable "Truths" for which they condemn faith-based religion ? Fifth, isn’t that statement itself a set creed, indeed a dogma?

It is interesting (actually it’s humorous) that the Universist uses two creedal / dogmatic statements to conclude that there is no set creed, no dogma for the organization. Furthermore, if the premise statements are not creedal, then there is no definite definition of what is means to be an Universist. Therefore, what in the definition of Universist would exclude a person who believes opposite its (Universism) own premises from being a Universist?

[Adsum places tongue firmly in cheek and voice drips with sarcasm…]

I think that my perception of reason tells me that that the unreasonably reasonable definition of Universism must include certainly uncertain non-creedal creedal statements offering up the questionally unquestionable truths of evangelical Christianity generally… and Calvinism, Amillenialism, and Classical Apologetics specifically.

Since my perception of reason is equally valid as Ford Vox’s perception of reason, I hereby declare that I am the new Pope of Universism. Henceforth, all Universists shall check by regularly to find out what you believe.

[Deathrow Bodine, the new Universist Pope, wanders away mumbling rationally irrational profanities and begins to wipe his own splattered brain matter from the walls. He wonders if he has enough duct tape and super glue to get his head back together again.]

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Battling Evangelical Anti-Intellectualism

Books in chainsThose more educated now tend to be significantly less religious; those more religious tend to be significantly less educated. For example, evangelicals are the only religious group in America that exceeds the national average of those not completing the eighth grade or high school. At the same time only 24.2 percent of evangelicals achieve some university training, compared with 68 percent of non-Christians.

Fortunately, it has not always been this way. The Puritans in the early period of America were renowned for their impeccable logic and a scholastic emphasis that permeated to every person in society. They considered religion a very complex, subtle, and highly intellectual affair, and their leaders (both Civil and Religious) thus were highly trained scholars.

Anti-Intellectualism has become the scandal of evangelicalism. Over the course of two hundred years, it has gradually become part and parcel of our evangelical identity. Yet today the failure to love God with our minds as well as our hearts is not only a sin – it’s a crippling cultural handicap in an age when ideas have greater consequences than ever.

Evangelicals who have failed to think Christianly in this era of the so-called "knowledge elite" and the "information explosion" have taken themselves out of the running for natural influence in culture. No amount of complaining about "the hostility of the elites" can alter the largely self-chosen evangelical banishment. Evangelicals can often be heard bemoaning "the liberal establishment," and yet, somehow we rarely seem to constructively participate in political parties, professional organizations, technical societies, non-church related community events, and a host of other places where our friendly presence could make "the establishment" a lot less "liberal." Instead, we are reactive and constantly negative, railing against the machine until we finally get what we deserve – ignored.

As a spiritually and theologically defined community of faith, evangelicalism is weak or next to nonexistent; as a subculture, it is stronger but often embarrassing and downright offensive. Unfortunately, we should not seek a strong subculture. To the contrary, we should be a scholarly counterculture that influences primarily by changing hearts and minds rather than sheer political might.

[T]wo factors – the growth of the education gap between evangelicals and secularists, and the lack of an evangelical public philosophy – lie behind evangelical ineffectiveness in public life. They result directly from the lack of a Christian mind. They reinforce some of the strategic errors evangelicals have made repeatedly in recent public initiatives:

  • First, evangelicals have concentrated their power in the peripheries of modern society rather than the center. We should actively begin to headquarter our coalitions, political groups, and other parachurch organizations in Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

  • Second, evangelicals have relied on populist strengths and rhetoric rather than [intellectually] addressing [and convincing] the gatekeepers of modern society – those whose positions of office or responsibility enable them to stand at the doorways of public power and influence. This reliance has been a defining feature and recurring weakness of evangelicals in the religious Right.

  • Third, evangelicals have sought to change society through politics rather than through changing the culture. This does not mean that evangelicals should not become more involved in the political process as voters, supporters, and participants … they should. It means that we need to recognize that we will not bring about true cultural change by political force, but rather will change the culture by the intellectual influence that we exert when we constructively participate in the political process and our communities.

  • Forth, evangelicals have chosen to rely on a rhetoric of protest, pronouncement, and picketing rather than persuasion. By strategically focusing on persuasion, we extinguish rather than inflame anti-evangelical passions.

What is NOT being promoted here is "Christian Intellectualism" that comes with it’s own inherent sins and heretical baggage. Our intent is to fulfill the commands of Mark 12:30, with the scriptural balance of love, humility, and righteous cultural involvement.

Italized text quoted from Fit Bodies, Fat Minds by Os Guinness