Topics: Reason

The key tool of bringing consistancy to our beliefs and actions in conjunction with our currently existing and newly acquired knowledge (facts).

Atheist / Christian Dialogue…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

An old friend of mine from Rochester, a pastor with a PhD in Physics named George, creates a mock dialogue between the believer and the skeptic.  A great summary of the different defense postures of the Christian when discussing religion with skeptics.  Of interest to me (because I never thought of them before) was his criticism of the typical skeptic refusal of a null hypothesis and doing a test that falsifies their hypothesis of God’s non-existence. That is a way to turn the burden of proof to the skeptic.

I also liked the straw-man criticism of the typical “how could a ‘good’ God do bad thing xyz…” skeptical criticism of Christianity.  How often have I heard the argument that God is “evil” from a worldview where there is no God.  I have always believed that good criticism must borrow the worldview of the the other in order to be effective.

The End Justifies the Means

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

This is going to be one of those topics I don’t like writing about because it’s going to upset nearly everyone who reads this blog (if there is anyone left).  But the purpose of this weblog is to inspire people who are interested in finding truth, and what I am about to say is an important part of finding it.

About four years ago, I attended a bad church.  The pastor of this church had a problem – he constantly lied (about anything and everything) and plagiarized.  When my friend confronted him on this problem, he responded with a lot of self-centered dribble, but one comment he made stuck out in my memory:  he simply asked my friend how many people he had personally led to the Lord.  What was he implying?  That his tactics, although unorthodox, lead people to Christ.  This excuses his sermon plagiarizing. This somehow excuses his constant lying.  In other words, the end justifies the means.  I couldn’t believe I was hearing this from a Christian pastor.  My rosy-colored view of the Christian “church” began to slowly fall apart from that point on.  But this wasn’t the first time I saw this. Read the rest of this entry »

Philosophy does not exist in a vacuum

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Johnny had a great post over at TheFireSermon regarding how we should approach the big philosophical questions. In a book he sites, there are two general kinds of approaches, both relating to a person’s temperament: tender minded and tough minded.

Those who are tender minded are, Intellectualistic, Idealistic, Optimistic, Religious, Free-Willist, Monistic, Dogmatical. The tough minded are, Sensationalistic, Materialistic, Pessimistic, Irreligious, Fatalistic, Pluralistic, Skeptical.

To me this is a great direction, and my interest would be to further break down the sources of a person’s temperament. Where does it come from? How is it formed? Read the rest of this entry »

Risk and Proof

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

I’ve been reading though the Old testament law for the last couple of weeks, and reading and listening to experts in the area. I’ve seen some exciting stuff that I think I want to write about, but before I do, I just felt like I had to throw something out there.

Over at MindOnFire, the community there has chosen an book to read on an excellent and very interesting topic: textual criticism. I haven’t yet had a chance to order the book and read it myself because I’m trying to read like 3 other books right now that I’m really enjoying: A Users Guide to Bible Translations, Passage to Dawn, R.A. Salvatore, and Christianity and Philosophy, by Colin Brown. All three books are worthy of discussion from a philosophical/religious perspective, but the one leaving me with the most questions and thoughts is the last book.

Christianity and Philosophy have always had a estranged relationship, but the subject and debate of a lot of philosophy over the ages that has caught my attention tonight can be summed up in one word: Proof.

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Evidence of God (a reply to Elise’s comment)

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

In a previous post, Elise responded with some great questions and doubts about repeatable proof of the existence of God based on the spiritual experiences of people of faith. I responded, but my reply was so long I had to turn it into another post, which seems to be a common occurrence. This is a humble and probably bad attempt to explain what I mean in my own experience when I say the existence of God and spiritual truth is measurable and repeatable on a personal and spiritual level. Some optional prerequisite reading would be a previous post- “Empirical evidence for spiritual truth?” which was inspired by parts of Sam Harris’ book – The End Of Faith, plus the comment dialog that followed.

My basic motivation behind this post is to give more concrete examples of what I mean when I talk about spiritual truth being measurable and repeatable, specifically involving the unique problems that come along with proving the existence of a person when physical proof is not available.

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Revealed truth & the spiritual life

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

So I have reached an interesting conclusion in my previous post. To successfully live a true spiritual life, I must believe in God by a direct revelation, and I will best acquire new spiritual truths by divine revelation. Believing that God exists without divine revelation is like believing in Russia when I have never experienced or seen the planet Earth. Such beliefs are hard to keep, and for the most part erode over time since they cannot be seen or touched or felt, and otherwise have no interaction with my daily life. Given enough time, I will tend to not think about them and instead worry and spend my time with other more tangible pursuits, and in the end will abandon them entirely, or at least push them out of the active part of my mind to a place where no creative thought is applied.

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Empirical evidence for spiritual truth?

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

How do I find empirical evidence for spiritual truth? I believe we can take our lead from the philosophy of science – the formulation and testing of a hypothesis through repeated, environmently controlled, evidence. Whatever worldview you might have, either you believe in God, no God, or aliens from a higher dimension, you need empirical, and at best repeatable, evidence that something is true and real. Take an example from daily life: it doesn’t matter what your worldview is, if someone runs in to tell you your car has been stolen, you’ll check it out for yourself (empirical evidence) before you believe it. Sometimes you have to do a double or triple take at your empty parking spot, stand in the empty space and let it sink in slowly, but the whole time, you are trying to get all the evidence you can before jumping to a conclusion.
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Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

He [John] turned to Reason and spoke.

“Tell me, good lady. Is there such a place as the Island in the West, or is it only a feeling in my own mind?”

“I cannot tell you,” said she, “because you do not know.”

“But you know.”

“But I can tell you only what you know. I can bring things out of the dark part of your mind into the light part of it. But now you ask me what is not even in the dark part of your mind.”

“Even if it were only a feeling in my mind, would it be a bad feeling?”

“I have nothing to tell you of good or bad.”

Most people with a background in western spirituality will have read, or at least have heard, of the book by John Bunyan called The Pilgrim’s Progress. But in the 20th century, a similar but no less great book came out called The Pilgrim’s Regress. It is an allegorical story of a man named John whose spiritual journey that started with him having faith as child soon turns to doubt and then to rejection of his faith. Most of the story is about what he encountered on his journey to understand life afterwards.

There is a good chance that most of us will grow up in a household where one or both of our parents are religious to some degree, or at least the sub-culture we find ourselves in is religious, and we just kind of adopt it as best we can and believe it to be true. However, those of us who are prone to thinking sooner or later must come to grips with the reality of this thing called religion. We must either adopt it as true with our new independent minds or throw it out and start on our own spiritual journey to find the truth. The author, C.S. Lewis, took the latter road, and so did the protagonist. This book is an autobiography of his spiritual journey – a journey from childhood religion to atheism to the real spiritual life.
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Thinking inside-out

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

I was just reading a though-provoking post over at my favorite spiritual blog It was about being moved spiritually, out of nowhere, by a familiar song. John talked about this experience and then asked the readers what they would do with it. Having a similar experience, I tried to explain what I thought was going on and gave an example of this happening in my life, but forgot to answer the question. The gist of what my guess was going on is that music is a vehicle for spiritual truth combined with myth gleaned from both the melody and the lyrics, and we are sometimes moved spiritually by the messages in it. (You can read my comment for more details)

What I began to think about was the benefits of this mode of communication. I believe that this is the divine speaking to us, not unlike Jesus did when speaking in parables. The one obvious benefit is complex spiritual truth understood instantly. This is a great benefit, but I believe there is a second and no less important benefit.
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