Monday, December 26, 2011

Randal Rauser on Darwin and Evangelicalism

Randal Rauser, on the 150th Anniversary of Darwin's publication of "Origin of Species". The actual post is here.
It is an anniversary that not many evangelicals will be celebrating: 150 years since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species. The hostility is understandable given the widespread assumption that neo-Darwinian evolution is little more than atheism for biologists. This assumption leads to many Christian youth being sheltered from the undisputed, reigning theoretical framework of the biological sciences. It also leads them to read the Genesis creation narrative in a literalistic fashion as if they were reading an article on cosmology magazine rather than an ancient near eastern cosmogonic-theological poetic narrative. (Sadly, in their fervor to respect the Bible’s authority, they undermine it in the same way that the Catholic Church undermined scripture in its dispute with Galileo.) The result is a suspicion of any Christian who would countenance divinely-guided evolution as broaching an unacceptable compromise with liberalism, secularism, methodological naturalism, atheism … pick your poison.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

End of the Semester

It's the end of an amazing semester and I want to write about my thoughts of it.

Spiritual Growth? I've learned so much more than I expected to learn. I've learned that God working powerfully through me is more powerful than the deep recesses of my sinful/being renewed soul pulling down on me all the time, tempting me to give in to despair, shame, worry, dissatisfaction-- things that are not of the truth. I've learned to be a man. I'm more confident in this life that when a challenge comes my way, I'll be able to think through it, feel correctly, and work my way through it. I still have this idea that I can't make any major life decisions or choices like dating/marriage/teaching at a school/parenthood until I'm absolutely perfect, but I've been working on that too.

I think I can safely say that my intellectual growth and spiritual growth were far more than I expected. I'm not the self-pitying, weak, emotional, spaghetti brained girlish-guy I used to be! But you know what? What's amazing is that even if it were, there'd be nothing wrong with it and I'd make due with what I had. I've come to accept who I am, simply because there's no reason not to. I love myself. I'm trying harder to love myself more everyday, but I'm also finding that my friends are teaching me to love myself as well. Something I'm also experiencing for the first time is truly loving my friends apart from feeling like I need them for validation. I've fallen so in love with my friends and I feel I can honestly say I could let them go at any time. Now, that's not to say I still have LOTS more growing to do in that area, but progress is good.

I've also learned that I don't have to make a big deal about the fact that I may end up being a philosopher/apologist in order to actually become one. People don't need to acknowledge what I'm doing in order to make it what I'm doing. I've also found more peace in listening to other people before opening my own big mouth and talking about my own life all the time :)  (though I still have lots more growing to do there)

With regards to dating, I've had crushes, some irrational and maybe one or two rational, but I've also begun to learn that I really do enjoy being single, and I'm going to use this position of my life to learn as much as possible. Furthermore, marriage is a season of life that ends in death, and as excited as I am, I don't think I'm ready for it yet.

I'm using everything in my life I possibly can to pursue the truth. I've been failing all the time, but the more I fight this battle for enlightenment and growth into Christ as he really is, not as the culture tells me, the more I find that there really is hope, power, and satisfaction in living to expend every bit of energy I have for living in accords with reality as I ought to live. "Before I die, I want to burn out bright!", as Switchfoot would have it.

What can I say about my life, but what one lover would say to another?: "There is nothing deficient in you, not a thing is out of place; you are beautiful."


Monday, December 5, 2011

Determinism

If freedom is to be defined as doing something while having been able to do otherwise, then according to our knowledge of the brain/mind there is no free-will.  Determinism is a pretty sound view-point in that all of our desires are caused by past states of our brain, which are caused by past states, which are caused by past states, and so on.  But if we're currently experiencing a brain state which consists of an organization of neurons and chemicals which is causing us to desire and thus act a certain way-- how is it possible that we could be acting in a different way, since the current chemical make-up of our brains has been determined from all moments past? 

There are (I think) two ways you could answer this problem: Redefine free will, or argue against the idea that all of our brain states are caused by the past. Most Christians take the second option, opting for a view called libertarianism, which implies that humans have an immaterial entity attached to their brains which uses a phenomenon called "agent causation" to, just like a divine being, create ex-nihilo (out of nothing), adjustments and fluxes of energy in the brain which break the past-future event causation which determines our brain states. 

My problem with libertarianism is that, though it seems on surface level to solve the problem of free will, it doesn't actually look like it does: if the causal powers which the immaterial entity create do not come from our brains, then there's simply no explanation for them. Here's what I mean: if the special influences in our brain that come from our immaterial mind are not explained by desires and motives which come from physical brain (because if they were, we'd be right back to the same chain of past-future causation), then they must be explained by some immaterial explanation. But what is the explanation for that, and why would it not be caused by past immaterial events? It seems like if we just stop with an immaterial explanation, then there is no explanation at all for why we do what we do-- and if this is true, then how can we be held accountable for our actions, since they don't really ultimately come from anywhere? You'd think that our actions should proceed from our own desires, not an immaterial entity which is out of control! 

Plus, from what my friend Jordan and I have been studying, it doesn't even seem like the Bible teaches that we have immaterial entities attached to our brains. It seems like we're just physical, according to the Bible-- and science definitely corroborates that view (except in the instances of corroborative Near Death experiences.... AHH CONFUSION!!!) 

My proposed way to deal with this is to redefine freedom as acting in a way according to one's desires. That way, humans are always free. I don't buy the idea that you don't act according to your desires when you choose to do something against your desires, because I think a necessary condition for our choices is that we desire to do what we want. Perhaps the only way to do something without wanting to do it is to do something without choosing to do it-- for example, the cases where surgeons have poked a person's brain and caused them to move their arms, etc. 

The problem with compatibilism is that it ends up that we absolutely cannot control our actions (since they're all predetermined), and it seems like a necessary condition for free will is being able to control one's actions.
But some might disagree!  

So, what are all of your thoughts-- I don't care knowledgeable your are or how much you know-- tell me your thoughts on this! I can use all the help possible, plus its good and fun to talk about these things, even though it's existentially destroying me!!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Resolutions


Realize that there are no true standards or obligations except for moral standards which proceed from obligations from God.

Accept everything that cannot or does not need to be changed (including yourself). Change the things that should not be accepted. In the absence of rejection there ought to be acceptance.

Shift worries about reputation to worries about relationships and obligations.

According to the ideas of Buddhism, desire creates suffering. I think this is perfectly true-- if you stop desiring the attention of girls, a good reputation, and dating relationships, etc, you'll stop seeking after it. Honestly, this is one of the most important things. You can never pursue God and seek after the truth if you care a lot about your reputation (now it is important to maintain reputation to an extent for the sake of friend's consciences, but beyond that, no reason). As John Piper would say, the love of human praise is the root of unbelief. I want to that root to be severed. 

Something I've realized, as soon as I've been learning to give up my desires for reputation: 1) I'm opened up to this whole new beautiful world of possibilities and wonder! 2) I find it much easier to pursue my convictions, and 3) Scarily, I'm beginning to find out who I really am.  Being an INFJ people pleaser, all my life I have acted in accord with the way the group around me thought I should act because I was so afraid of rejection-- now that I'm not afraid of rejection because rejection doesn't truly exist, I don't give a flip what other people think to the extent that it doesn't harm our relationship. I've learned that I'm beginning to show my true self, and also I'm learning to be rude. I know that sounds weird, but for me, being rude is like trying to squeeze toothpaste back into the tube. It's incredibly hard. All someone has to do is trip on the sidewalk and I'll feel this overwhelming gush of compassion and pity and rush to their aid. (imagine how easy it is to feel sorry for myself) How could I possible say a mean thing?? But I'm starting to get over that! The crazy thing that I would never have realized is that this is a result of finally learning to accept myself. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

confession

masturbation
dishonesty by acting
laziness
not following my convictions
going half-way on homework
undressing women in my mind
thinking that being philosophical makes me better than other people
befriending women solely for the purpose of having pretty friends
not praying to God often
not doing devotions
shrinking my faith in God because I don't like the commitment to love other people
lying
feeling intense shame when I am shown to be wrong, disapproved of, or not thought well of, because I buy into the premises that I need these things to have acceptability as a person

those are sins that I shamelessly and sickeningly enjoy periodically right now. 

immoral practices that I used to struggle with:
pornography
theft
lying by acting

I'm getting sick of how dishonest I am by the very nature of the way I act around people. I act like I'm a perfect person around people. But having studied philosophy and a little bit of sociology, I understand now that acting in ways which clearly connote an inner disposition which does not conform to the inner disposition of one's soul is lying as well. It is possible that there are some situations in which lying is Ok, but that's only when the subject being lied to has lost the right to believe the truth. my friends and those who read this blog have not lost that right. 

I continually find that in order to truly be healed of shame and to truly begin living life consistently, I must be honest, and I must stop living for others' approval. I also find that in my pursuit of absolute truth, there is no reason not to disclose my flaws. I listed the things about me which I am most embarrassed for others to find out about. I truly do want to die to other's opinions but I know that there's a lot of sacrifice that has to go into that! I've thought a lot about this, and whether it is a good thing to do to expose all your heinous sins for all to see-- knowing that I have a tendency to act in extremes and absolutes, and I tend to act on ridiculous possibilities. I've always thought that I shouldn't do this, because of this and that reason. But when I actually thought it through, I couldn't think of any reason not to. The things I had to consider were my reputation-- which I honestly do think is important to protect against falsehood-- but not against truth. Also, my own soul: will any rejection I experience for revealing these things hurt me in an unhealthy way? I don't think so-- I've already gone through my testimony with a Bible study and been healed of the self-condemnation that resulted from pornography. The next thing is my friends-- any who read this will likely be surprised and maybe disgusted, but all I can do is ask for your further trust and acceptance! Don't let this affect our friendship in a major way-- but if it does, come talk to me and I would love to work it through. 

So, that being said, this is me and all my mess. I've only got one life to live-- I want to get this right!