Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fasting Time!

Wow, this just illustrates for me how the things that cause us to sin are completely contingent, and dependent totally on inner states of affairs rather than outer. I can't listen to soft music right now. It causes me to sin, because I start getting sentimental, worshiping my emotions, and completely ignoring truth and reality. Augustine struggled with this, as is evident from what he wrote about his sinful passions that arose while reading Greek Classics. When I first read this, (what Augustine wrote), I was flabbergasted. How can something so awesome as Greek tragedy and mythology be sinful? But that's not what he was saying (I think). It was the fact that he became emotional and ignored truth when he did so. I completely ignore all conviction when I get emotional like this. It's not that soft music is wrong. It's not that the Switchfoot that I've had to stop listening to (for the most part) is wrong. :( It's just that I've got to go through a phase of my life where I learn to integrate truth with emotions, rather than emotions completely leaving out truth. As for right now... it's all metal, for me. (and maybe some Gungor).

Monday, May 28, 2012

An Internal Dialogue Recorded

Ever have one of those days/ series of days where all of your spiritual strength takes a vacation, leaving you like a zombie focused on nothing but selfish desires?  I think these, mostly, are the moments when people make decisions that they regret later. It's easy to do the right thing when you genuinely want to do it, but when doing the right thing causes you to "die" to so much of yourself that it leaves you feeling sick and nausea-laden, as if you just ripped out part of your mid-section and were forced to eat it, that's when the testing happens.

Today/the past couple days have been days like that. I have so many things to do, so many people to keep in my heart, so much reading to do that, and so much maturity to constantly force on myself that doing so has caused me nausea, ridiculous headaches, and even a tear or two. Today I have been tempted to indulge in viewing pornography and engaging in masturbation again, to give up my bonds to my friends and resume my own selfish shallow interaction with people, and to give up sincerely looking for and submitting to whatever is true. So far I've been able to destroy myself not to, but it's getting harder and harder as I get more tired.

The main struggle in my head is always "is it time to give up yet? You've been playing a nice little game with yourself the past half a year, but isn't it time to come back home to indulging in sin again? Quit fooling yourself. This isn't going to last." I know I shouldn't give up, but another voice in my head is telling me that I'm putting myself through far more than I can handle, and I should just rest. But the resting is equivocated with indulging in our culture, and there is no more room for that in my life. Also, the other meaning of the word isn't helpful either, I slept like 10 hours last night... The ancients and past cultures have been based on hard work and constant devotion, thus there's nothing in my human frame that isn't capable of it.

So when continuing to do what is right and submitting to my obligations becomes taking up my cross, am I to stop? According to my country's widespread culture, yes. But according to what I know, no.

So today I'm making a decision to go against everything I've done for all of my life. I'm going to press on even though it sucks. Maybe this is the stuff good people are made from.



EDIT---- This song has helped a lot:

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Evidence for Evolution (Part 3): Written in the Rocks

In this chapter, Coyne lays out the evidence for evolution in the fossil record.

To start, he makes a few important points:

The Nature of Fossilization
One of the frustrations that scientists have experienced is a very spotty fossil record. Of course, its almost everyone's (or at least everyone like me, who would like it if evolution were false) immediate impulse to look at this fact and jump to the conclusion that since the fossil record is spotty, evolution lacks evidence, but we have to be careful here. Here's why:

For fossils to form and survive for investigation by scientists (usually millions- billions of years later), Coyne writes, "First, the remains of an animal or plant must find their way into water, sink to the bottom, and get quickly covered by sediment so they don't decay or get scattered by scavengers." He then describes the rest of the process. I'll sum it up. Once buried, the hard parts of the creature are replaced (in some way) by dissolved minerals. Once this has happened, there is a hardened "cast" of the living creature that, as Coyne puts it, gets "compressed into rock by the pressure of sediments piling up on top." He also, and importantly, notes that since only the hard parts of the plants and animals that are fossilized participate in the process, there is a "severe bias" in our knowledge of ancient species. After this, the fossil still has to be discovered. This is an unlikely process, since as the earth's crust (where most of the fossils are stored, out of human reach) is constantly shifting and folding it is, according to Coyne, undergoing processes "which completely obliterate most fossils".

Coyne concludes based on this that that fossil record must necessarily be incomplete. (according to him we should only have fossil evidence for .1-1 percent of all living species that have ever lived.)

(Check out this website. It's a very basic introduction to the nature of fossil formation! http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/education/explorations/tours/fossil/index.html)

Constructing Coherent Rock Layers

Fossils exist in sedimentary rocks, which are formed by the consolidation of sedimentary materials (stuff that falls to the bottom of water). Thus, as one would expect, the deeper the sedimentary rock layer, the older the fossils are. There are some other complications with matching rock layers on one side of the world with layers on the other side. But that's not necessary for this post.

Dating

Scientists use radioactivity to date layers of rock. Using the "half-life" of isotopes existent in igneous rocks (rocks formed by volcanic activity), knowledge about how much of the isotope was present at the time of formation, and how much of the isotope that exists now, they can determine the age of the rock. This process is usually known by those familiar to the creation-evolution debate as "Carbon Dating". But not just carbon is used. Uranium -238 is another useful isotope, with a half-life of 700 million years. When these methods are used, there are usually several different types of isotopes present and they are cross-checked for accuracy.

Young Earth Creationists object to this method of dating by saying that the rates of radioactive decay have changed over time. But this claim has been shown to be untrue in the laboratory by scientists who subject isotopes to extreme pressure. Also, given that several different isotopes are generally present in any rock layer (all of which have different decay rates), if decay rates changed by outside pressures, it is unlikely that they would all still give a consistent date.

Also, one more important fact. Sedimentary rocks are unable to be dated, but igneous rocks adjacent to them can be, and thus the dates of sedimentary layers can be dated via inference.

Evolutionary Predictions in the Rocks

In science, the best way to see if a theory is true is via predictions. What should we expect to be true of what is found in the fossil record if evolution is true?   Coyne makes a simple prediction. We should find that life dated to be early is very simple, and as the dating gets closer and closer to the current time, life gets more complex. We should find that the species that are most recently deceased in the fossil record are most similar to those that exist today. Coyne also makes the risky prediction that we should expect to find transitions between species. If species truly did branch off from one another, we should find transitional species between these groups.

The Findings

Amazingly (to me, at least!), the findings do confirm the first prediction! (That life gets progressively more complex) Coyne writes: "The first organisms, simply photosynthetic bacteria, appear in sediments about 3.5 billion years old, only about a billion years after the planet was formed. These single cells were all that occupied the earth for the next 2 billion years, after which we see the first simply "eukaryotes": organisms having true cells with nuclei and chromosomes. Then, around 600 million years ago, a whole gamut of relatively simple but multicelled organisms arise, including worms, jellyfish, and sponges. These groups diversify over the next several million years, with terrestrial plants and tetrapods (four-legged animals, the earliest of which were lobe-finned fish) appearing about 400 million years ago[....] Fifty million years later we find the first true amphibians, and after another 50 million years reptiles come along. The first mammals show up around 250 million years ago (arising as predicted, from reptilian ancestors), and the first birds, also descended from reptiles, show up to 50 million years later." The he talks about how as we investigate the most shallow rock layers, we find species most similar to those existent today, another fulfilled prediction. He then talks about how humans branched off from primates seven million years ago, (a very small amount of evolutionary time).

What's written above is kind of a summary to illustrate the increasingly complexity of life as appears throughout time in the fossil record (Coyne reads the facts through evolutionary assumptions, of course, but facts are facts).


Transitional Creatures

Some of the main evolutionary predictions are these: That birds evolved from reptiles, that land animals evolved from fish, and that whales evolved from land animals. But if this is true, we should expect to find some sort of evidence that these transitional forms existed via the fossil record. Coyne makes an important point however. When we think of transitional forms, say, between a bird and a dinosaur, we imagine a creature who is a perfect cross between a bird and a dinosaur. But that's not what we should always expect. If indeed there is a common ancestor between birds and dinosaurs, it split off from dinosaurs and thus began with mostly dinosaur characteristics (but slight variations) which caused it to then adapt to its environment via natural selection in different ways than dinosaurs. Thus it's not like a Dinosaur "had a bird" or something like that. Birds gradually developed in accordance with adaptation and environment over millions of years.

So when we look for transitional species, we should look for creatures with characteristics common to both species that they are transitioning "from" and "to".

These features have been found, and here are several examples:

From fish to Amphibians

Between a thirty million year period in the past, the class of existent vertebrae species expanded to add vertebrae land animals. If evolution is true, then, we'd expect to find species (in these fossil layers) that are somewhere or another "in between" fish and mammals. Just as expected, on an island in the Canadian Arctic, "Ellesmere Island" a creature called the "tiktaalik roseae" was discovered. It had gills, scales, and fins, like all creatures that live in the water. But it also had amphibian like characteristics: a flattened head, eyes and nostrils on top of the skull, and robust fins for peering up out of the water (and supporting itself to do so). Also, it had a neck-- which fish do not have. Another important characteristic: sturdy ribs for breathing through lungs and gills. Along with this, the creature had fewer, but more sturdy limbs. This creature was clearly adapted for living in the water and moving about in shallow water where it could lift up its head and see.

The Origin of Birds

I remember one of the ways I used to make fun of evolution. How did birds evolve? It seemed like any answer to this question had to be hopelessly speculative. And a lot of the answers to evolutionary questions are speculative by nature. How else do you create theories? But the answer isn't that ridiculous.

The first thing to note is that, according to Coyne, Gliding has developed independently multiple times: flying squirrels, flying lemurs, lizards, and marsupials. It's not hard to see how a creature which developed flaps for elongated "air" time started finding ways to adapt by manipulating the interface between their flaps and the air to produce flight effects, and then natural selection did its job to produce more and more creatures like that.

But the main evidence that there actually was a transitory species between birds and dinosaurs comes in here: 200 million years ago, there were no birds. 70 million years ago there were birds. That gives us grounds to predict that if evolution is true, then there will be transitional species between dinosaurs and birds in the fossil record between 200 million years ago and 70 million years ago. Sure enough, there is. The most famous transitional form (at least to my knowledge) in all of evolutionary history is the Archaeopteryx. This creature, found in a limestone quarry (which preserved feather marks!) from 145 million years ago, has a jaw, teeth, a long bony tail, claws, separate fingers on the wing, and a neck attached to its skull from behind. It also has birdlike features: feathers and an opposable big toe.  (they still don't know if it could fly or not)  In the 1990's more of these types of species were found in China: a number of bizarre looking creatures with feathers in odd places, and many dinosaur like qualities. The fossil record is not complete for the transition from dinosaurs to birds, but there is pretty good evidence that there were transitional species.


The Evolution of Whales

Sixty million years ago, there were no such things as whales (according to Coyne). Thirty million years ago, things resembling whales show up in the fossil record. Again, if evolution is true, we should expect creatures which show a transition between land animals (since whales are mammals) and whales. And these do show up. A series of species show up exactly within this time-span which, according to Coyne, perfectly show the transition from a certain type of land creature to whales. See Indohyus, Pakicetus, Rodhocetus, and Dorudon. You should be able to look them up on Google.  (I don't have time to describe all of their features here)

An important point that Coyne makes is that evolution to life at sea (with whales) did not add any new features, it just modified old ones (and it took a remarkably short time).


Conclusion 

I've illustrated a few of the things in Coyne's book. His main conclusion is this: if evolution were not true, we would not expect the fossil record to look like it does. Evolutionary predictions have been verified over and over again, and this is not at all what we would expect if God specially created animals.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

People

The past six months I've spent a large amount of time railing against allowing people to influence me. But now I've come to see that I was only railing against people influencing me in a certain way.

See, until recently I've been overly sensitive and insecure about the idea that I should blindly accept whatever other people say, as well as accept their criticisms of me and their plans for my life as things I am actually bound to. I've been insecure about the fact that I feel I need to please people all the time and thus anything I do that doesn't please another is wrong. But now that I've started to get over all of that, I'm starting to realize that I need people.

First I began to see people as a useful tool. People are frustrating. They get on your nerves. They insult you without thinking about what they're saying, act hypocritical, throw monkey-wrenches in perfectly planned days, and they prevent you from ever having any solitude. But that's OK, I thought. I can use other people as a tool to build patience.

Second, I began to see other people as helpful for keeping me in check. Just because I shouldn't let other people influence me doesn't mean I can't be forcefully reminded of truths that are true regardless of whether people are criticizing me with them or not. As long as I recognize that truth is not in people and people do not have any control over me, I'm happy to be criticized, critiqued, and judged by people, because it helps me to get back in check with reality. Especially when I have smart friends, who will criticize me for not operating on their level. I don't mind that at all. I get frustrated at the time, but then remind myself that I'm being brought to a level of performance and spirituality I would never reach on my own.

Third, I've begun to see other people as beings  with whom I enter into meaningful relationships. I've never been able to develop this. I've never even really been able to develop the first step, but this third step of my development has really blown everything out of the water. I can actually enjoy being around people? I can actually mean it when I say, "I love you", and "I miss you?". Because all of my life I have never even been able to mean these words, because relationships between myself and others were shallow at best.

This is good. And it all started from making myself realize that people are just people, not gods, monsters, or my personal judges. I don't have to listen to people at all. But now that I don't have to, I want to.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dealing with Depression

There are several important things I've learned in the past couple days. But in order to better illustrate them, I have to include their context.

The past month I've been experiencing even more spiritual strength to continue to do what is right and look to what is true. I have been learning to experience a kind of mental awareness of reality that I hadn't reached before-- one that filled me with the power to conquer my base passions and desires for the sake of higher order things. But I hadn't thought about what I should do in the face of physical pain.

A couple days ago (Tuesday) I went into a surgery that I would have been unable to withstand the thought of a few months ago due to humiliation. But ever since I've been more able to conquer my lower passions and desires, this became easier. So, as I went into the surgery I was ready and brave. I came out, of course, nauseous, in pain, and half-awake. No big deal. But as the days went by, I found myself unable to stay energetic and mentally focused because of the pain I had in my kidneys and ureters. (It was a kidney stone surgery). I kept on telling myself that I ought to be able to withstand this, and, in my irrational idealistic fashion, I compared myself to heroes of history who withstood great pain and kept going, and forced myself to keep going. But my strength drained more and more every day, until it got to the point where I didn't even want to get out of bed in the mornings. Then yesterday I had a painful existential crisis. I was reading more about evolution and I persuaded for a small amount of time that one of the possible arguments for Christianity that I was hoping would work had been refuted. (It was about God guiding mutations in evolution-- I thought for a second that that was impossible because mutations had been shown to happen totally randomly)  I don't know what happened but I felt all of reality drain out of the universe and was left, mentally, of course, staring and being stared down by, as Nietzsche put it, "the breath of empty space". Some of the videos I had watched the night before about the human tendency to entertain illusion rather than truth in order to deny undesirable truths started to haunt me and I began to feel the horror of the futility of humanity's search for truth. I felt a horrible pity for all of humanity (except myself for some reason. This is not a positive trait. I have an enormous capacity for feeling infinite amounts of pity for everyone but myself. I causes me to make bad decisions) and the futility of their believing that they actually understood the world. I began to feel nausea overtaking me and horror seized my body. All I wanted to do was go to sleep and hide from it all. Why couldn't I wake up in a happy world where we all knew what was true, where we all could worship Jesus and know that he really is there, and that we would really see him coming on the clouds of heaven? I felt my heart being ripped out as I told my family I had become a non-believer, specifically seeing the tears on my mother's face, and I couldn't bear it anymore. I went and tried to find some book on the internet to distract myself. I found a kindle download by Dostoevsky, and decided to read it. Unfortunately, it was about a guy about to commit suicide. Bad choice....  anyways, I finished it (short story) and it was a lot more encouraging than I thought it would be (the guy had a dream about pre-fall humanity and it changed his life).

Long story short, the past couple days I slipped into a painful depression. I didn't want to get out of bed, I didn't want to do anything. I lost all my energy. I was doubly depressed. Maybe there was no chance of Christianity being true at all, and maybe there was no chance I would ever be able to find out what was true.  I began to ignore my convictions. I began to ignore what I ought to be doing. Instead I just slept.  Eventually I started pulling myself back up and forcing myself to act consistently again. I gained energy today, and finally after drinking some coffee I've been able to gain energy to keep living consistently again. Back to loving people, reading books, and actually meaning what I say.

Lessons learned:
1) Don't overdo it. Just because heroes of the past have done it, doesn't mean I automatically ought to be able to.  That's called arrogance. I tried to take on too much. It is true that my job is to look for the truth, but I simply can't handle it all at once.

2) Don't give up.  One important thing for me to remember is that during these periods of depression, I am under no less obligation to do what I ought. Thus sleeping all the time is equal to sin. Unless sleeping is for the purpose of rejuvenating myself, which is permitted of course. Continuing to be devoted to the truth will build a passion in me, a constant will, a spirit of iron that has been tried by pain.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Direction?

What do you do when you realize that everything you've ever done has been half-hearted and thoughtless? When you've never had a genuine friendship with anybody, and you realize you act consistently with a shockingly low percentile of your beliefs? I'm beginning to find all of these things about myself, and I'm having a hard time dealing with it. The only time I have ever really been able to act consistently with my beliefs was when I was in love with Christ, and I earnestly look forward to and hope for a time when I can experience the fullness of that again.

I have found that all of my interactions with people (except for the year after a became a Christian) have all been largely aimed at stroking my own ego, gaining the pleasure of spending time with woman (which is largely a mental/sexual pleasure, I think), or some other very low order desire. All of my decisions were based on fulfilling my desire for comfort and pleasure. At times I feel so inferior to the people around me. Is everyone around me as much morally superior to me as I think they are? Everyone else appears to think clearly about what they do, have meaningful friendships, a good heart, and good intentions. I'm not saying they're sinless, but I am saying that it looks like everyone around me is a exceptionally superior to me in the realm of morality. This isn't a pity party or something. I just genuinely want to know if this is my mind's off balance idealism blinding me to what's really there or if it's the real deal.

The question is, as usual, not how I feel about these truths, but what I am going to do about them? Am I willing to grow up, suck it up, and keep trying? For it doesn't matter how immoral am, the obligation for me to be moral and honor what is true still remains, simply by virtue of my being a human. Giving up is worthless.

I feel crushed by my weaknesses and by the fear that I actually will give up in the future. I long for the days that I would ignorantly sing at the top of my lungs about how I would follow God forever with all of my heart. How did I know that? Even Paul knew that just because his beliefs were true didn't mean that he would never fall: But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

 On a side note: I've read half of two books now: one on the evidence for evolution and one on the evidence for intelligent design. Funnily I'm so far impressed with the evidence for both sides. Theistic evolution, maybe?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Evidence for Evolution (P2): What is Evolution?


This is the first chapter of Coyne's book. It's just a statement of what exactly evolution is. Here is his short definition of evolution:
In essence, the modern theory of evolution is easy to grasp. It can be summarized in a single (albeit slightly long) sentence: Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species-- perhaps a self-replicating molecule-- that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection. 
The main aspects of evolution to be illustrated here are: 1) evolution, 2) gradualism, 3) speciation, 4) common ancestry, 5) natural selection, and 6) non-selective mechanisms of evolutionary change. Now I'll go through and provide summarized versions of his definitions of these words:

1) Evolution: Evolution means that species undergo genetic change through generations. I don't know of anyone who rejects this. Animals adapt to their environment through genetic traits expressing themselves or not. Humans' skin becomes dark after hundreds of generations of being repeatedly being exposed to penetrating heat, because changes in genes occur. Birds beaks become longer on islands where it is adaptive for beaks to become longer because genes change or become silenced and allow for different expressions of traits. Note: the Theory of Evolution (hereafter ToE) does not predict that species will always be changing. Changes happen and remain because of environmental pressure to change. When pressure stops, change stops or at least is mostly stopped.

2) Gradualism: New traits in evolutionary history gradually appear, or, they take a very long time. Coyne writes, "The evolution of new features, like the teeth and jaws that distinguish mammals from reptiles, does not occur in just one or a few generations, but usually over hundreds or thousands--even millions-- of generations." The ToE does not postulate that creatures evolved in just a small amount of time. These genetic changes would take millions of years. This doesn't mean that evolution always takes place at the same pace. As noted earlier, the speed evolution is heavily dependent upon environmental pressure.

3) Speciation: Speciation is the splitting of one species into another. Coyne notes that according to the ToE if there were no such thing as speciation, there would only be one species, because there only be continual genetic change within one species and never divergence into other species. Mammal X produces an immediate descendant (Mammal Y) which has mutations in genes that cause it to be slightly than X. Mammal Y continues producing descendants with Y-like traits that become continually more defined, and eventually Mammal Y becomes a different Species than Mammal X. Note that this doesn't mean Mammal X no longer exists. It just means that Mammal X gave rise to a mutated species which began to evolve different characteristics and therefore became a different species. To better explain what happens when speciation occurs, Coyne says that two types of life are different species when they can no longer interbreed.

4) Common Ancestry: Common Ancestry is the idea that, despite all of the unique characteristics of and differences between all the life that exists today and the life that has existed in the past, there is a common ancestor of all life, from which all life descended. This means that just like two types of human (say a Chinese man with black hair, and a Scottish man with red hair) are descended from one common ancestor (Which Christians believe is Adam and Eve) so also this can be extended to all life.

5) Natural Selection: This is the simple idea that given the way reproduction and survival works, nature always selects the most fit creatures to survive. If there are four types of birds, two of which have functional wings to escape predators and two of which have mutated and dysfunctional wings, then the birds that will survive are those with functional wings. Nature will always preserve the descendants of the most adaptive species because the most adaptive species reproduce more, while mal-adaptive species produce less.

6) Non-selective mechanisms of evolutionary change: Factors other than natural selection can cause evolutionary change. Genetic drift, random changes in the proportion of genes, and etc. This simply means that changes in species caused by things other than natural selection can occur.


Coyne later lists some predictions one can make given the truth of evolutionary theory. Predictions, on scientific theories, are a hugely important. They are deductions one can make from the truth of a certain theory. If the Earth is round, we should expect that when astronauts go into space, they see a round earth as they gain enough distance. If Newton's laws of motions are true, we should expect certain features of motion to be exemplified. If the predictions of any scientific theory are falsified, then that theory must either be considered false or modified.

Here are some predictions Coyne lists for Evolutionary theory:

- We should be able to find evidence for evolutionary change in the fossil record
- We should be able to find evidence of speciation in the fossil record (new species forming)
- We should be able to find at least some (due to the scarcity of fossils) "Missing Links", and their place in the fossil record should be consistent with where the ToE predicts they should be.
- We should expect that species show genetic variations in their traits.
- We should expect to see imperfections in the design of species.


The Evidence for Evolution (P1)

I'm working through a book by Jerry Coyne called, Why Evolution is True. In it he presents the evidence for evolution in a very simple way for a lay audience. It's a pretty easy read! I'm reading this because even though I've become moderately convinced of the truth of common ancestry, I want to do some more research on it. At the same time I'll be going through a book arguing not against common ancestry but against Darwinism's ability to explain all features of life. (The Edge of Evolution by Behe).


A couple stipulations: I'm not putting this on here to weaken the faith of any Christians. If you're a Christian and you haven't come to the belief that Christianity and evolution are compatible (and think they are incompatible), then reading this article would be like reading why Christianity is false-- which is not my intention. I don't think evolution disproves or is inconsistent with Christianity (at least right now). So if you hold that Christianity and evolution are incompatible, either don't read this or realize what you're getting into!

I'm just going to summarize the main points of his chapters so I can remember them and quantify them towards the end of the summer as I draw up all the relevant evidence for making a major worldview decision.

So, here goes...

Monday, May 7, 2012

This Summer be like...

This isn't the post where I sum up my semester yet. That comes after exams (and the Switchfoot concert :) Right now I'm thinking about what needs to happen this summer.

This summer I have promised myself that I am going to make a major worldview decision. The whole past semester I have been praying, spiritually disciplining myself, thinking hard about life, and instilling a hope within myself that I will actually encounter God this summer-- whether it will be through a religious experience (doubtful, I feel-- but who am I to make plans for the Divine?) or through philosophy. I want to believe firmly and fully in God. I really, really do. I don't want to believe in Hell. But I can also trust that if God exists, he has his reasons for hell (if indeed the Bible, in context, actually teaches that there is a hell) and to not accept them would be to play the fool.

This whole semester I've been more of a religious seeker than a thick full-blown Christian. I call myself a Christian before anything else because I don't think I could ever stop following Christ in the sense of always looking for what is true, admiral, perfect, and worth practicing (and because I pray, read the Bible, go to church, and hang out with only Christians). That can never and comparably replace belief in him as the Son of God, though, and I know that.

The question arises, then, in the mind of whoever's mind that reads this-- what am I? I am either a Christian, a Deist, an Agnostic (someone who doesn't know what is true), or an Atheist (supposedly). Which one is it? Well, when I pray I feel like a committed Christian. I'm most definitely not an atheist. I don't think you could at all call me a Christian in the sense that Evangelicals call Christians. I fit into the Liberal Christian category-- but that's because the Liberal Christian category includes a whole lot. Maybe I can create my own? Can I say I am a Christian agnostic? Or an Agnostic Christian? Someone wants to be intellectually honest, who really hopes Christianity is true, and yet doesn't quite have the evidence to support belief yet?

This summer I'm planning on deciding: I will either affirm specific and well-defined Christian convictions and fight for them in my soul and believe them, or I'll continue on in the state I'm in-- a state of hoping Christianity is true, but being willing to accept atheism if necessary.Woe unto me if I do not hope Christianity is true, even if I were partially convinced it were false. I know I can't learn everything, so I can only choose what's most likely. For that reason, I'm going to try to settle my views on the actual arguments for against God's existence, the whole issue of evolution and Christianity-- whether they truly comport, the logic of the person of God, and my view of Scripture. Who knows how much reading that entails. Its worth it though.

Here are a couple aspects of the decision I want to make this summer:

1) The decision I come to simply must be open to change, lest I make myself not open to truth.
2) The decision can only be based on what is most likely. There are billions and billions of truths to learn-- and if I'm not incorrect, an infinite amount. I'll never know everything, and I've got to choose based on what is most likely to be true.


This is what my summer must consist of if I am to be acting in a mature and disciplined manner. No time for dating, wasting time, or spending an inordinately large amount of time on anything but this end.


It's also important to note that this attitude of seeking truth I've been working on can never end, in my life. I don't just give up seeking truth when I begin to affirm Christianity-- if I will. If anything, I redouble it. Christianity is not the emotionalistic, falsehood based, Bible worshiping, comfortable religion that Westerners have made it into. It is one in which the love of God-- the logos and embodiment of truth-- enters your soul and crushes the sinful nature of the worship of idols (or falsehoods) and releases you to worship of God in truth. Wow. As my friend Tiffany would say.. "I can dig it..."

Shed Your Soul



Great song. From the atheistic perspective the horrifying question is asked, "What if we're wrong? What if we're not all alone? What if we're lost? And we missed the whole point of it all?"*  Good question to ask from any perspective. I love this song! 



* Lyrics from "lyricsmode.com."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What Speaketh the Sunrise?



I have long been learning that there are sources of truth outside of just propositions concerning scientific facts and facts of logic. There's other kinds of truth. It's not just subjective-- it's literally and objectively true-- the truth simply takes on an interesting role in finite minds (as subjectively perceived). I just don't know what it is. I can't understand it. I think it has something to do with finite minds and their interaction with something insurmountably huge, something completely and totally other than the mind. Objectively, its simply a matter of fact that the Grand Canyon is unfathomably huge, or that the ocean's depths contain mysteries untouchable to the human mind. But when perceived by humans, it has a humbling effect that destroys pride and kindles a sense of awe and otherness-- or, the sense that there is something huge and un-graspable, un-masterable, and in-determinable outside of oneself.

I wish I understood it better. But until then, I'll just soak it all in. Then again, maybe it isn't supposed to be understood.