Category Archives: Philosophy

Does Christianity Teach Social Evolution or Something Else?

You may think I have skipped Pt. 2 of the first post of this series, but more must be said before jumping in with both feet to answer the question posed at the end of Pt. 1.

Following along in Wright’s book Surprised by Hope, we encounter the question about the future of the “cosmos: progress or despair?”

The first answer stems from Social Evolution. This has its basis in Western thought that developed during the Renaissance with both Christian and secular roots. As science was progressing incredibly quickly, wealth and industry spreading rapidly, these ideas began leaking into social thinking as well. It progressed even more rapidly with the rise of Darwin’s evolutionary theory, as this seemed to give scientific reinforcement that the evolution of the world was unstoppable and inevitable. Progress was simply how things were.

But in reality, this is a myth. There are massive holes in the theory. First, it can’t deal with evil in a number of ways. It can’t stop it. There is nothing philosophical or scientific that tells us that at some point, evil will be eradicated because of the evolution of the cosmos. Along these lines, despite what may or may not be true about biological evolution, there is certainly no such thing as cosmic evolution. In actuality, the universe is running straight toward demise, with an unavoidable heat death at best. Second, it social evolution doesn’t do anything to solve the problem of evil. Even if utopia came tomorrow, what do we make of all of the suffering and evils of today?

And some Christians have bought into this. Rob Bell, who reached his pinnacle of “fame” with his book Love Wins, is one of them. He believes that it is humanity’s mission to bring about the restoration of this world itself. As Wright will show, this is not at all Biblical. He has bought into this social charade that says we will bring about the change, not God. In fact, this line of thought has been so popularized, that we see it on bumper stickers: “Be the change you want in the world.”

So the answer must be despair? Thanks to Plato, the idea that this whole world is evil and the only redemption is to escape it has a place in this conversation as well. This view says that material things, particularly the body, is bad and to rid ourselves of it is to reach what we were meant to be. This is the spiritualization of culture. The idea that when you die, you go “up there” to be in a “better place.”

Again, many Christians have fallen prey to this myth as well. Another view with a basis outside of the Bible, and another view that leads to confusion. Hymns talk about this world “not being our home” and how we are “just passing through.” It is these people that get labeled as those that are “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.” The purpose of Christianity becomes to go to heaven when you die.

So the answer is neither death and demise nor progress and redemption at our own hands. Rather, Christianity affirms “that what the creator God has done in Jesus Christ, and supremely in his resurrection, is what he intends to do for his whole world-meaninf, by world, the entire cosmos with all its history.”

 

 

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Can Newtonian Mechanics be Saved? I answer yes.

In a new paper that I just finished writing for my final philosophy undergraduate course, I took a long look at Newtonian conceptions of time and space, particularly what Newton called absolute time and absolute space, as well as the foundations underlying them. After reviewing a vast array of articles, books, reviews, and Newton’s own work, I think that given a few things, namely a Lorentzian interpretation of the Special Theory of Relativity, and God, one can coherently argue that absolute motion (which many believe Einstein to have disproved once and for all) is possible.

Though rather technical, I do believe this can be understood in great part without much knowledge of physics and the patience to look up a few key concepts.

https://gnosiskaisophia.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/newtonian-time-final-pdf.pdf


Definition of Science: What can be an explanation?

In listening to a podcast today, I was getting more and more frustrated. It was two Christians discussing the origin of life. One kept saying that intelligent design was a science stopper and that minds should not be an explanation for anything in science.

I find this to be ludicrous. If it is the case, because it is certainly at least possibly true, then your definition and limits of science are science stoppers themselves. How can you have such things that would potentially give you necessarily false answers. For if it could be true that there are agent causations(which there certainly appears to be and all other fields permit them, just not biology and physics), then you are operating on a concept that necessarily prevents you from finding the true explanation.

I don’t understand why this is so common, and why some of the smartest people in the world think this way. Agents cause things. We know this from experience. How can you then rule that out simply because it is “science” and not something else? If you are limiting yourself from particular explanations because they are “unscientific,” then you have a faulty concept of what science is, because science is suppose to study reality, and the things that take place in it and effect it. If there is a dimension of this that you leave out, you the are no longer doing honest and open science and are bound to have false answers.


Jesus was Human… So are we: Don’t forget that. He didn’t push His God button.

SO I will start off with two links to pages by N.T. Wright on Jesus self-identity and self-awareness that will shed some light on where I will go in this post.

Jesus’ Self-Understanding

JESUS AND THE IDENTITY OF GOD

And then I will post this link as well, which is another source for this post:

God Button: The Mind of Christ

I shall try to combine an analysis for the two together.

The first point is that we need to remember that Jesus was a HUMAN. So often we lose sight of this, and put Him in this “other” category so that a)we feel we can no longer relate to him, or b)so that we can rationalize why we mess up and sin and He didn’t. Both are dangerous, and both should be forbidden. Yes, Jesus was God, but His humanity was equally important. It had to be a human that lived a perfect life in order for our sins to be pardoned. It had to be someone who dealt with the same things we deal with, but win them all. It had to be a human so that we could relate in times of need, and turn to Him as a perfect example rather than an idealized concept of how things could be if we were God too.

The reason why I think that these three messages relate is because it all comes down to one thing: Jesus was human. It does not deny His God aspect of Himself, but it refines it. Jesus temptation, if anything, was probably greater than anything we face today. He was put in situations where pressing His “God-button”would have alleviated a lot of things, whether for Himself, or, perhaps more interestingly, for others. He easily could have taken Himself off the cross, in some ways proving His divine power. But in doing so, the necessary sacrifice would have been spoiled. he could have restored the city of Jerusalem to power, but knew His spiritual mission was far more important. How often do we live like this? I think one of the major problems in today’s world is that people think that preventing and fixing problems is what makes someone a good person. To a degree, it is. But there is so much more. Physical support is good, but nothing compared to spiritual support. How often do we focus on people’s physical needs above their spiritual needs?

This is not to say that we should not meet physical needs, but in doing so, there is supposed to be more to it than just that.

I think Jesus life shows how to handle this. He didn’t succumb to the worldly pressure to meet physical needs, but was more concerned with spiritual things.

Back to Jesus and how He saw Himself. It would make sense, that in being completely human, He would have His doubts and questions. We all do as humans, and it would be crazy to set Him apart and think that He didn’t as well. For me, this is a major comfort. He persevered through His doubts and held steadfast in the faith, even when He felt rejected. He may have been unsure of Himself even at times, as we all are, but trusted in the Father and the Spirit to work through Him and provide and win in the end. This is something we all need to learn. This dependency upon God. It is such a danger in setting Jesus apart too far away from us, and lose out on this hope that we can be like Him.

I think that fact that the name “Christian” means “little Christ” is so perfect. I mean, how often do we call ourselves that but not think about it? It has come to mean a follower of Jesus, a God-fearing person, but has lost it’s original meaning, which was to follow in His footsteps. In the name itself, it is assumed that we can be like Him. We can’t be God, but we can trust God and utilize the Holy Spirit in the way that Christ did, and in that sense be like Him. I think this is what we are called to do.

I think our issues have multiple origins. The fact that we put halos around His head in pictures, that we have portraits of Him hung up in some churches. We set Him up high, which is good, but too high to reach. That was the problem of the Old Testament. God was too big and impersonal to be reached and trusted in in the manner that He wanted. Which is why He sent His Son, and the Holy Spirit. They were to be the personal, reachable aspects of Himself. In setting them so far above us, we miss out on some of the greatest aspects of their existence. Our relation to them, both in the typical relationship status, but also in how we compare to Christ. He was human, we are human. If we miss out on this, we miss out on a giant reason for why God did things the way He did. It was more than about just saving us, it was about redeeming us, and helping us live the way we were meant to live. If we don’t think of it like this, we are rejecting our greatest ally and advocate in life, and making it that much harder on ourselves.

Jesus was a human. Jesus was God. We are human, and not God. But in His humanity, we can relate to Him much more closely than we often think. Don’t succumb to this pressure. Yes, He was perfect, but He was perfect to show you how it was to be done, and that it was possible. Don’t reject His example.


A Couple New Papers

Just posted a couple of new papers. One is on Mary the Color Scientist and the whole deal of intentionality. I bring up an objection as well as an objection to the objection. The other one is on the sociology of science and a critique of the Strong Programme put forth by Bloor.


Trinity=Confusing, yet… astoundingly marvelous

The Trinitarian aspect of God has been thought about and discussed since the Early Church, and we still don’t have a very strong grasp on how it works. It’s something I have been thinking about and reading about lately, and this is where I am at now.

First, it follows from the ontological argument. This argument “proves” the greatest of all beings, so omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, etc. But after some thinking and a sociology class, I came to the realization that the trinity would be a necessary attribute of the perfect being. And here is why: The most stable relationship is a three person relationship. This is common knowledge in the field of sociology. This perfect being must be self-sufficient, we all know that a truly lonely person is not very sufficient, is quite lonely, and many times unstable. So it makes perfect sense to see this perfect being as having three major separate, yet connected parts.

Second is on how we can understand the Trinity. Some mistakenly think that it works like the situation of a father with one sibling. He is a son of his parents, a father of his son, and a brother. Three identities, one person. But that is why it is wrong. Still ONE person. We need three. So with the help of C.S. Lewis and a few others, I have a different concept of it. Think of a triangle. Three individual sides, yet one shape. All connected to each other. We can even imagine somewhat the aspect of ourselves in regards to the trinity and why it is so difficult to comprehend. We can imagine ourselves in a one-dimensional world, whereas the triangle is obviously in a two dimensional world. We could try to grasp how this triangle looks, and prove it mathematically to be consistent on some level, but we could never come close to a full comprehension of it. That is the situation we find ourselves in now. God is so other, so infinite the out finite minds can’t comprehend Him, especially not in this life.

Third, how does the Trinity affect us? Well, it shows us that if we are not worshiping the Trinitarian God, we are not worshiping the right God. Which means a lot of people have it wrong. It is one of God’s major attributes that has a huge impact on His reality, and not just ours, so it is a very important doctrine to be preserved. It shows us that God truly IS love, as He demonstrates perfect love and perfect relationship.

Along these lines, I began to realize the answer the my sociology professor’s question to our class in regards to human relations. His question was that if a three person relationship is the best kind, should be practice polygamy? Some people sort of conceded the point, but I knew that that was going to be unstable because there are only two sexes, and the concept of the perfect relationship would be between three DIFFERENT types of persons, not just three different people. You would always end up with 1 male and 2 females or 2 males and 1 female, which are both lopsided in some manner. I brought this up and assumed, correctly, that God was this third person that would make our relationships better. But what I missed out on was how perfect this really was. Who better to have in your marriage than the creator of marriage, of humans, and the perfect lover? He would give the best possible advice, literally. He would be the perfect mediator. And the perfect friend. Not to mention, He is part of His own three person relationship that is perfectly stable, and we all know how we become more like those we are in relationships with. And who better to become more like than God?

In the end, I have been left with this feeling of awe, in how God has made things to work in harmony so perfectly. It’s almost as if He knew exactly what He was doing, almost… Obviously, I am still nowhere near fully understanding Him in this aspect, but I am trying. My way of trying to love Him with all of my mind.


Future of the Gaps?

Obviously, many theists invoke the “god of the gaps” theory whenever they can. “Oh, you don’t know how that happened? Must be God.” This is TERRIBLE reasoning. However, even non-believers have fallen into this type of trap. In a recent discussion online, someone quoted how quantum theory was not complete and that some form of this could explain the universe. That is all fine and dandy, but it bears a striking resemblance to the “god of the gaps” argument. “Well, we don’t know now. But I’m sure we will figure it out in the future.” Both simply appeal to some unknown factor that may be right or may not be. Both with the same amount of reasoning behind them.

So my question is… When are we justified in saying that “God did it” or “We may figure out in the future?” Because I do believe that there are situations when this IS merited.

When other ideas fall into the same category. What I mean by this is simple. I will use the example of DNA, since it is information that is read, translated, and rewritten in the cell. We know that books are read, translated, and rewritten, and we know that humans “design” or wrote the books and programs to copy, translate, and paste the book as well. We are intelligent creatures. It then seems merited to infer that an intelligent something rather or another “designed” or wrote DNA, since it bears a great resemblance and is actually more in-depth than a book. This also applies to the future theory, though both are pretty subjective, since it is really an inference to the best explanation, but what is best to me may be different than your view of best.

Many people don’t like this concept. They say it is worthless and is never necessary. The inly problem is, this is how we operate in our everyday lives. We don’t usually have a deductive logical argument for the best course of action to take, or how someone will respond to an action, but rather we infer based on previous knowledge and assumptions. So are we stupid to do this? It appears not, as we are able to function quite well in this manner. And if it is highly successful in our day to day lives, why not in this situation as well, when there doesn’t appear to be a very strong deductive argument ether way.

(More to come on inference to best explanation)