Topics: Worldviews

A person’s understanding of universe, its origins, and the possible existance of a creative and sustaining force, either personal or not.

Atheist / Christian Dialogue…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

http://justreality.org/2011/04/26/truth-beyond-the-provable/

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 »

Forgiveness

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

About three years ago, I had a very bad church experience. It colored how I thought about church for a long time after – that it was corrupt and imperfect, an entity that detracts from a person’s thriving spiritual life. However, I realized the other day that I have completely recovered from my anger towards all churches.

What was the thing that helped me?

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Music Boxes and Meaning

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Years ago, I worked with a charismatic and very gifted co-worker named Craig.

Craig was an amazing man. I only knew him a couple of years before he retired, but I wish I could have known him better. He and most of the other men his age that I worked with were an inspiration to me. Either they came from a better generation than I, or they were just more mature, but they had a depth my generation seem to lack. I didn’t stand above the flaws either: my most pressing concerns back then was my lacking romantic life, a stupid and self-centered angst.

But back to Craig. In many of my interactions with him and the legends that my other co-workers would tell, Craig’s life was a striking series of missed opportunities. In an interview with another company before he came to Xerox, he was asked to design a solution to an engineering problem on the spot. He did so, but never got the job. However his idea was so good that his interviewees took it and patented it, and it has been integrated into successful products ever since. Craig at times would find any reason to pull out his wallet for others to see and flip through the bills. He would watch closely for your reaction when he flipped past the thousand dollar bill among the twenties. It was all in good fun, but I couldn’t help but notice that there was a tinge of sadness – as if he and everyone else were wondering: why didn’t this guy make it big?

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The dark side of free will

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

warn2.gifNote to atheists: this post may look like I’m pointing a critical finger exclusively at you, but I’m not! This isn’t a happy or easy topic for me. After reading this (if you choose to) please believe me that I, like all humanity suffer from the same problems that free will makes us susceptible to. If I end up offending you, please forgive me! I’m not perfect and I don’t have the ability to write about this sensitive subject very well. Please know I have a great respect for you and that I do not know the whole story for why you believe the way you do. I borrowed the cute warning sticker off of alistapart.com, and will use it when the posts I write have potential to annoy or offend people. BTW, this is NOT reverse psychology trick. It means to get ready to be offended (possibly).

I have talked in earlier posts about the concept of man’s free will in a worldview of an all-powerful God. It’s a nice thing – it makes us different than robots and all that. We have the freedom to choose what to do with the time we have – to live a spiritual life or to live a selfish one. What has haunted me for the last 5 weeks has been this – that free will, as rosy as it seems on the surface, has a terrible side-effect.
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Motivations behind the switch…

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Bored in Vernal posted a great question in response to the Risk and Proof post: Is a person who has had a religious experience with a God in one tradition justified in looking into other religions… here’s my best crack at an answer that is more exploring the issue than actually answering it 🙂

What was the motivation for pursing another? If a person had real communication with a God from one faith tradition, why leave (or wander)? First of all, it might be easy to leave or look around because the God of one seems to be a similar God in another (such as is the case with Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Mormonism, and Islam) – Every one of those faiths seem to believe in the same God of the Bible, but differ radically in the details. But even if the leaving is easy and would not be considered “adultery” in the OT sense, why leave or look elsewhere?

I guess there is a sense of studying other religions just to understand them while still believing in your current one, and this can’t be wrong, but what if one were actually trying to find truth in them. Even in this sense, it seems to me that there are certain truths found in most religions – such as certain virtues of martial fidelity, the view of life as sacred, not to steal or testify falsely in trial, etc. So in other religious that have a different God-like entity entirely – such as Buddhism or Hinduism in contrast to Judeo-Christian religions, some things are still the same.

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The optimism of atheism

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Miko over at MoF opened up a discussion on optimism and religion. Both sides of it (theist vs. atheist) have perspectives on this about themselves and their counterpart. Here is my take on the subject.

As a theist? Christian, I have come to understand atheism as a (mostly) healthy and optimistic shift in belief away from a very unhealthy and very ugly view of God put forth by very misguided religious groups. As a Christian, I have seen first hand and experienced how bad evangelical churches and movements can be (which I never thought possible before), and I have heard second hand (via John and Miko and others) how bad other religious groups and their dark and dismal views of God are and how that manifests itself in a religious culture and society. Miko and John’s atheistic world-view and accompanying beliefs/values to me could only be described as optimistic.

No joke – if I went though the experiences of most folks from bad religious backgrounds, I would probably be an atheist now, and I think that the true God would be pretty happy with that arrangement – it is a good way to sever ties with a belief system with so much crap that runs so deep it must be (in some cases) summarily rejected like a cancer for any healthy growth to take its place.

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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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God and the natural world

Monday, November 6th, 2006

I remember when a girl down the street from me died.

Her name was Andi. She was only 3 years older than me and a senior in my high school. I was friends with her younger brother, who would get together and talk about video games and cross-country running with my other good friend. It was a terrible shock to our small rural neighborhood. She lived with her parents and her brother in a renovated farmhouse, and our whole neighborhood, who were mostly Christian, got together at her house to express their grief with the family. One neighbor tried to comfort the parents by saying that God was in this somehow, and I remember my father coming home upset by that comment and told me so. “You should never say such a thing, he told me – who knows that stuff… it’s better just to cry with them and just shut up.” I was too young and stupid to understand, but I never forgot what he said. Her parents moved away not too long after and we never saw them again.

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Desire and fulfillment

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

If there is no hope in the spiritual life other than to acknowledge that it theoretically exists, then the longing for more and the desire for the mysterious will never be satisfied. The longing is all that there is to be had. Is simply the longing for something mysterious enough to give meaning to my life? I would argue most definitely not. Not in my experience. Hope and longing without fulfillment breaks the heart.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Prov. 13:12)

To be drawn to the mystery and the joy we find in our pursuits is not enough. After experiencing all pursuits, they come up empty to me. They were not what I was looking for. I must find the source of the mystery or desire that was behind them.

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Written truth vs. revealed truth

Monday, October 9th, 2006

In a previous post, “Empirical Evidence for Spiritual Truth” , John R. posted some great comments about the subject, which made me think more about it. I responded to his comments in yet another comment, but to me, the subject was still lacking something. In another recent post on MindOnFire.com, he gave me more insight into his faith struggle. The interesting part of the discussion in this post revolved around his internal struggle with the validity of core truths of Mormonism. With all reasonable effort, he tried to test these beliefs to see if they were true or not. One method, proposed by a Mormon elder, was just to verbalize them through witnessing, and through this process, belief is instilled in the believer. Another method proposed within the Book of Mormon itself, which seemed more reasonable, was to read the scriptures and then pray about them, and belief will follow. John’s openness about the methods he used to internalize spiritual truth led me to analyze how I came to believe the spiritual truths that I believe today. I was surprised by what I discovered.

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Reason and the clash of worldviews

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

Once new knowledge and spiritual truth get into our heads, however it is that it happens, reason is now available to do its work. Even though reason works well within both the spiritual and physical dimensions in the confines of the same wordview and knowledge set, I believe it cannot work well across different knowledge sets and worldviews. Reason is inexplicably tied to it’s bearer’s presuppositions and set of knowledge – removed from them it has no context and therefore no effectiveness, like a hammer without a person.

It seems that for people of differing worldviews to criticize each others beliefs using reason, they are jumping the gun. They must instead start by examining each other’s worldviews that reasonably lead to their beliefs before progressing to the beliefs themselves. Both parties are to a lesser or greater degree reasonable according to their presuppositional framework, so the frameworks are the only things that people of opposing worldview can argue about. For reason to work across frameworks, the parts of the frameworks that are agreed upon must be the knowledge that it works off of. In the case of the deist and the atheist, the common denominator would be a belief that the existence of empirical evidence is required for something to be true.
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Analogy of Religion

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

“Religion” is a hard thing to define. Here’s Dictionary.com’s take:

A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

From my perspective today, the key part of this definition that makes it called “religion” is after the word “usually.” The phrase before that is what I would call a “faith-based worldview”, but combined with what comes after, it becomes what I would call “religion.” Religion is a combination of a faith-based worldview + a human owned and operated institution. The bad part is the human owned and operated institution.

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