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.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
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
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
1. Tear down personal and social "Absolutes" and see them simply as the preferences that they really are. No, it's not true that we "must" look attractive to all people-- it's simply a desire (and a ridiculous one that). No, it's not true that we must appear reasonable to all people, it's simply a selfish desire (also, ridiculous). No, it's not true that we must be accepted in every way by everyone. It's just a misinformed desire. If you really think about it, we have a lot of these "wants turn musts", when in fact,the only thing that is a real "must" is our moral obligation. Stop seeking after people's acceptance and approval... it's a want, not a must. And if you care about the truth, you ought to give that desire up anyways!
2. Constantly be accepting things that can't be changed. You have no right to reject your body because of the way it looks. And what standards are you using to judge your body? Shouldn't you have dropped those standards in the first step? If you're overweight because of a moral problem, perhaps you should judge your addiction to eating food (that's something you can change)-- and maybe you shouldn't even judge that, but the decisions that lead to your addiction that the decisions you continually make to sustain it. Accept everything except immoral acts. Constantly accept your mind, your heart, and your personality-- in fact, fall in love with them. There's no real standards to judge them as deficient, so why not embrace them? Be in awe of your body and heart, as my counseling professor says, but not prideful (because that assumes societal standards which are completely false).
3. Replace the pursuit of the satisfaction of false standards with those of real standards of morality. Honor and serve God; follow his standards. Worship Him! Find satisfaction in him, not your cultural locus of satisfaction!
This is super short, but I have to say, that even though these seem very simple, if you flesh them out they are incredibly effective. In the past few weeks of continually deconstructing my standards and "musts", and then, in the absence of standards which judge me, accepting and being in awe of my mind and heart, I have felt so much condemnation and misery lift from my soul. This is going to sound like a self-help testimony program, but I've begun to actually feel more self-confident and attractive as a person-- but the thing that's so funny is that I don't even care what people think now, nor do I think a person has to look a certain way to be attractive.. I just am who I am, and I accept it.
What I don't accept, however, is sin. I'll write more on this later.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Anyways, I have been studying this Shame subject and realizing SO MUCH about myself. I never realized it, but I as an individual seem to have struggled with a very large amount of shame all of my life. Whether it was due to the environment or because of my very fragile INFJ personality type, I have become a person who has harshly rejected and condemned every part of myself possible because of my intense desires for acceptance and feeling like I was loved and worth something. Before anyone reading this begins to feel sorry for me, don't-- because I think shame is just as much sin as feeling prideful is-- it's just a lot easier to fall into. Shame is the rejection of one's very soul as illegitimate for failure to meet certain criterion, whether it be failing to meet social standards, failing to have social crowd's approval, or failing to meet one's own preferences (which they have turned into "musts"). Imagine a guy who has placed a large personal value on getting to go with a certain girl to a dance-- if she rejects him he will probably experience shame, because 1) He failed to get a date. (which all men, of course, MUST have or they are inadequate... haha) 2) The girl rejected part of him (however small it was) and he equated that part of him (an invitation to go to the dance) with the whole of his soul, and thus since he felt she had rejected his soul, he rejected his soul and felt shame. Shame is the human illogical by-product of failure. But, look, we humans are so prideful, it makes perfect sense! By the very same premises that we use to feel prideful about ourselves, we feel shame. "If I play trumpet really well, then I am legitimate and of worth." (pride) "I don't play trumpet really well, so I am not legitimate and of worth." (shame) Of course, it's actually a logical fallacy called denying the antecedent, but since when did we humans ever care about logic? In the absence of anything else to make us worth something, we are therefore worthless if we can't play trumpet well.
I'm going to write more on this later, because I haven't even delved into all that I've been discovering. What I have been doing, however, is beginning to heal shame in my life. I've had to deny all of the ridiculous criterion I've used to try to give myself legitimacy and self-worth and simply realize that I have worth and legitimacy simply by being human made in God's image. After that I have begun to go over every part of my heart and body and accept it (since in the absence of rejection, there is acceptance with regards to this subject). I can't even tell you how much condemnation and sickening pain have been lifted from my heart. On top of this, the Love of Christ covers all of my legitimate failures (sin), and thus there is no condemnation for these things either. Hallelujah! This stuff has deeply affected my friendships, past dating relationships, and the way I look at the world. I didn't realize how much I have been destroying myself.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
In the past months that I've been in college, I've worked on trying to understand what I as a human find myself obligated to do. Without assuming the truth of my worldview and starting solely from my knowledge of my own broken humanity, I've come to the conclusion that as a human I have the obligation to seek truth and practice truth. I came to this principle simply by acknowledging the possibility that potential obligations may exist. Now as humans we all know that knowledge binds us. If you know you need to do something and you don't do it, you are performing a subjectively immoral act, and if God exists, then he holds us accountable to our immoral acts. But since we know that knowledge binds, that specific instance of knowledge binds us to seeking more knowledge, for to avoid knowledge is to avoid potential obligations, and to avoid potential obligations is like avoiding reading a book of the Bible because you know if you do, you might have to make changes in your lifestyle: it's immoral. If this is true, then it imprisons me to a life-long and whole-hearted pursuit and practice of truth. I must seek to have the right perspective on things, for having the true and right perspective on things causes one to act most in accord with reality. That being the case, since I know that I do not know many things about this world and thus probably have an off-color perspective, I am obligated to learn and experience and practice the truth in order to have a more right perspective. This pursuit of truth can only end if one becomes omniscient. That's not to say that you should put your worldview on hold. I'm a Christian because I think that Christianity is true and because I am in love with Christ. But since I am a Christian, I have even more of an obligation to pursue truth. This really is a weighty obligation. How careful can you be with the truth?
But what I've found is that as I've tried to figure out the necessary adjustments to my life in order to begin this pursuit (Abstaining from seeking others' approval, abstaining from sexual immorality, abstaining from anything which will prevent me from desiring to perform or performing my obligations, finding deep satisfaction in the good, finding deep satisfaction in God, finding deep satisfaction in the truth, etc.), I've found that I absolutely have NO ability to maintain these rules. I am absolutely helpless. The minute I finally rejoice in that I'm not seeking other's approval in my actions, I begin to get prideful, which messes everything up all over again. The minute I have finally been able to think without sexual thoughts about girls coming into my mind, I find myself having such a strong desire just to be in a relationship that it starts to cause me to seek the attention of girls, which causes me to completely disregard truth and obligation. I am literally worthless when it comes to doing good things. Even when I do good things such as care for people, listen sympathetically, fulfill my obligations as a friend, or anything else of that nature, it seems the larger part of my motivation is to be socially accepted and thought of well. I'm so sick of this. I wish I could say there's an escape hatch or some easy fix, but there's really not. It's the truth, and though I so often fail, my obligation to acknowledge and practice it does not disappear.
So what do I do? I've prayed to God to give me power to do good things, but as of the current moment I honestly cannot say it has helped (because I haven't spent a large amount of time doing it). I have realized, however, that I've not been spending a large amount of time in prayer or in the Bible. I think this is due to 1) laziness and stubborn sinfulness, and 2) the fact that though I believe Christianity is true, I've been so wrong, so many times, about the nature of Christianity that I don't know what to think about the nature of the way Christ helps us and gives us power. I have no idea what to think about Christianity some times. All I know is that it will cost me my life. But what is the nature of that? How much of my own efforts will this take, and how much depending on the power of God will it take? Or is it both?
I've recently had a little bit of break-through in enjoying Christ through the context of the Old Testament. So I'm going to pursue God along those lines. Please pray for my heart!
Other than that, I changed my major to philosophy and am now minoring in counseling, just got back from Kentucky from a Cross Country race, and have been hanging out with my awesome friends from Church! God, I will never understand you fully, but how I love you for the extent of your grace!
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
- I must make decisions not based on what others think or what I think, but based on what I am obligated to do by the truth- which human perception does not affect.
- My worth and acceptance is not based on what others think or what I think, but based on what I am worth and how I am accepted in reality-- which human perception does not affect.
- My worth and acceptance cannot be based, in reality, on performance, skill, temporal possessions, or knowledge.
- The obligations I have must proceed from a human obligation to believe and practice the truth.
Monday, October 3, 2011
1. I have made so many mistakes in the past year. They have mainly resulted from my not being honest with myself. Please pray for me that I emphasize this honesty in my thoughts and prayers. I struggle, sometimes, with hiding parts of myself from other parts of myself. The lucky thing is that it drives me nuts when I do this, so there is a preventative mechanism in my personality. This mainly relates to my worldview and beliefs. I've pretty much decided that I'm going to be spending the rest of my life in the ministry and philosophy and apologetics. It's just my home. But what if at some point in my life I suspect Christianity is simply not true? Will I just ignore my doubts and keep on going, or will I be honest with myself and admit my doubts? I earnestly pray and hope that I will do the latter. Yes, it seems contradictory to pray to Christ that I will admit my doubts about Him if I ever do doubt Christianity seriously. But I'm becoming more and more convinced that he would have me do so; and I resolve to follow the disarming humility and almost appalling commitment to truth embodied by the man, Christ Jesus, no matter where life takes me. I consider this my duty as a human. Why do I mention this? I am actually more convinced than I have been in a long while that Christianity is true, but I think that is what caused this internal conflict to rise. Those moments when I encounter an argument against my faith which seems incredibly intimidating, I want most to shove this issue as far down into my subconscious as possible. So yes, I think and am very much rationally confident that my worldview is true. But I want to be honest, real, and humble about this. I'm still a human who lacks absolute certainty in many things.
2. I want to start living consistently with my worldview. I can spend all day theologizing and thinking about how wonderfully and articulately the Christian worldview intimately reflects what life is really about, how amazingly accurate a tragic/hopeful view of human nature it holds, and how it tempts my heart with it's affirmation of the inherent goodness of the natural world and human desire and the necessity of doing good to all people. But when it comes to actually doing good to all people, I fail, miserably. Please help me God. I tried to live as if other people's hearts mattered today, and I was horrified out of my comfort zone by the fact other people have struggles too.
3. Oh, Lord, please help me to stop trying to show off to girls. I've got nothing to prove. Just help me be me. You're all I'm fighting for-- or at least all I want to care about fighting for.
4. Oedipus Rex taught me some incredible life lessons about what it means to trust reality inductively. It's hard to explain. I just need help with trusting reality and things I know to be true, yet can't articulate.
5. Prayer. What happened to it? I feel like I treat prayer like a foolish thing that those "silly ignorant Christianity do all the time" but look, how irrational I'm being! Look how ignorant I'm being! How contradictory! Lord, help!!
6. I want to know what it really means to be human. I want to lose everything for the truth, not because it is inherently good to lose everything; but because there is such a good to be obtained by experiencing the bad of losing things, that it's worth the leap of faith. I trust that I'll find strong arms to take me up on the other side. I want to get rid of my psychological defense mechanisms and just open up. As a Switchfoot song goes, "don't close your eyes; don't close your eyes. this is your life, are you who you want to be?"
what a wonderful savior we have.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
1. "The Fallacy of being paralyzed by objections": Concluding that an proposition about the world cannot believed simply because there are objections against it is fallacious, because there are objections against every proposition. Thus, to resort to belief in one proposition because it's denial has many objections is fallacious because certainly, there are objections to the very proposition you believed in! It's silly! Yet we do it so often.
2. Everything we do, we ought to desire. It is not wrong to desire. Desires are good. The only reason we do anything is because we desire it. You may object and say, "I did my homework even though I didn't desire to do it". To this I say there are low order desires and higher order desires. Lower order desires are things like comfort, lust, sexual attraction, hunger, physical touch, etc. Higher order desires are things like Justice, Love, Mercy, discipline, striving to do what is right, etc. Just because you do not desire to do your homework in your lower order desires, your higher order desires such as doing what is right caused you to do your homework. So work hard to desire good, noble, and true higher order desires. We were not made to be dissatisfied; we ought to desire the right things.
3. Think critically about everything. Don't hesitate to question your most cherished beliefs. Remember, however, not to continually question something with skepticism when the denial of that belief is incredibly implausible. That's unreasonable (even though I do it all the time).
4. We are inescapably human. We can't look at any topic without bringing our humanity to it. So realize your faults, realize your shortcomings, admit your brokenness, and give up your pride. You and I are not God. Humanity is tragically beautiful. Suffering is our story, but hope and life comes through Christ. Don't ignore the sorrowful history of humanity. Learn about the beauties and the wretchedness of our race, and thus learn more about the God who made them.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
I gasp harder for air.
my mind is renewed in an explosion of truth.
the one who is from everlasting to everlasting loves me. LOVES ME.
now cry away the unbelief,
cry away the lies,
cry away the sadness.
cough and sputter out the hate,
let go of the shame,
and breathe again.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
They wanted. They longed, oh how they longed.
They dreamed, they fantasized, they desired.
They craved, they wished, they looked, and searched for the unknown renown.
They wanted something big. They wanted wars. Not just wars. they wanted more. They wanted the world.
They wanted victory, they looked for exalted adventures, they wanted something magnificent.
They yearned legends to bear witness to truth. They weren't satisfied with routine.
But when the opportunity came for reality to merge with their yearnings, they turned away.
Reality, they saw, costs. Reality would hurt. Reality would leave tragic wounds in their souls.
But what they didn't see, is that a soul pierced by wounds of the journey, that continues on,
is a soul quenched of violent thirst.
I love being a human, and I love participating in the greatest true love story of all time.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
our alarming and horrifying discontent with life, like a monkey on the back, is always here even when tranquility and harmless perfection rule; but we seek reasons to let him raise his ugly head, even when he knows no reasons.
we pretend that we're slaving away towards truth and obligation when we only want satisfaction.
we act like we're trying to do the right thing, because it's the right thing, because it's the right thing, because we're supposed to do the right thing.. when we really take short cuts to save our souls from pain.
our hearts are needy as a sick orphan with no parents or home,
but even when the neediness is groping desperately with shrieks from her own self-inflicted pain, we shut our mouths and pretend we're satisfied.
a raging passion in our hearts screams out for movement, something real. but when we can't find anything real that requires little of us, we attach ourselves to "things". we attach ourselves to political parties. we attach ourselves to causes for which we have no real passion except that which the soul says to the mind, "if only this, then satisfaction". we attach ourselves to religion.
we need a savior. not only from hell. but from ourselves. because there's a good bit of hell in us yet.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Here is a really important thing that I've realized. I think this will be especially important for me as I continue on in my studies of philosophy of religion and philosophy.
Intellectual performance is not the Most Important Thing to God
If having properly justified and accurate beliefs about all the things of God were most important, Jesus would not have died for sins; he would have come to earth and built a grand universal college for all of us humans to go to in order to rid us of our "evil" ignorance. But that's not what happened. Jesus died and rose for our sins. He died and rose to reverse the morale rebellion that is rampant in our hearts. He died to destroy morale unbelief, not unwitting fallacies in thought. Thus it is evidently not intellectual beliefs which are the most important, but a heart of praise-- for that's what Jesus died to give us. Even further, this verse has a lot to say about the situation: "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!" The context of this verse is a teaching from James (maybe) about the necessity of works proving a person's faith to be true, so it is not necessarily talking about intellectual beliefs and praise-- but I think one can derive the same message. If having the right beliefs were the most important things in the eyes of God, then the demons who do have true beliefs would be favored in his eyes instead of us humans who know much less. But they're not. So this is a strong wake up call to those who think that they are any better than other Christians because they are more informed and have more properly warranted beliefs-- including myself.
So what is it that is most important?
"For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17
Friday, August 5, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
I've always thought that if it were found that atheism were true (and I'm of the conviction that atheism can't be known to be true unless one can prove the concept of God as logically contradictory, or if one could say "If God of any kind, then B, not B, therefore no God"), then it would be utterly horrible and that one ought rightly despair if it were found that atheism were true. But now that I think about it more, I'm realizing that Atheism can't even account for our having despair over theism being false (or anything, for that matter!). C.S. Lewis said something similar to it: "Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should have never found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning."
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Today I want to add a link to a blog called the "Ehrman Project". This blog consists of the work of several Biblical scholars who have responded to the popular former Christian, now agnostic, Bart Ehrman's arguments against the reliability of the New Testament.
Here is the site's self-description:
Dr. Bart Ehrman is raising significant questions about the reliability of the Bible. In an engaging way, he is questioning the credibility of Christianity. His arguments are not new, which he readily admits. Numerous Biblical scholars profoundly disagree with his findings. This site provides responses to Dr. Ehrman's provocative conclusions.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
"love of my life, deep in my eyes; there you will find what you need.."
"for better or worse, forever we'll be. the love that unites us- its a mystery"
I have no problem with God being my metaphorical husband, or myself being the bride of Christ. It seems so right. I know it sounds weird. If I, however, were the one wearing the pants in this relationship, there would probably be significant problems ;)
Sunday, July 17, 2011
1. Looking for a successful Cosmological argument which relies solely on the B theory of time.
2. Figuring out which theory of time is true.
3. Deciding whether I agree that it's impossible that infinite amounts can exist in reality. Right now I completely disagree that they can be added up to or formed in a temporal becoming sense, but I honestly don't understand set-theory enough to say whether I think an Infinite can exist in reality (the other sub-argument within the Kalam, which can also be applied in Cosmological Arguments. It seems absurd, but first-impression intuition can be deceiving.)
Friday, July 15, 2011
As you'd expect me to say, things have gotten better. I have learned so much in the past couple days. And what's funny is that it didn't really come from book learning-- although I've certainly been studying a lot. It came from sitting and thinking alone; letting my soul deal with itself on its own terms. For too long, I've had hyper skeptical atheist personalities living inside my brain. Since I believe strongly in a good sense of self-criticism when it comes to intellectual beliefs, I always thought it would be good to carry the atheist's opinion with me when I form my beliefs. Unfortunately, since I'm such an emotional person, I never learned how to respectfully disagree! (Seriously, I'm not kidding. This was a real issue haha.)
The result of that set of false beliefs was, unfortunately, that every time the real Evan wanted to rejoice in Christ and put my heart's confidence and hope in him all the more deeply, the devil's advocate atheist Evan would rise up and say, "Whoa now! Think about all these other problems you haven't quite worked out yet! Ooooh, and think of how many Christian-antagonist books you haven't dealt with yet! Think of all the skeptical arguments you haven't refuted-- much more, haven't even read!!"
People wonder why I want to read every book on the face of the earth. That's why. (Well, also because I think some of the best heart knowledge one can find is from books) But now that I've sat down and thought -by myself- without a book in front of my face for a while, I'm starting to think that all this really isn't necessary to know Christianity is true. In fact, I've gotten so obsessed with showing that Christianity is true that I've forgotten I already know it's true! It's important, however, to make a qualification. That doesn't mean there won't be confusion, doubts, despair, REALLY BAD doubts, in fact, horrifying doubts, misery, etc. It doesn't even mean you'll know which details about Christianity are true. But it's this vague, unshakable conviction that no matter how much intellectual criticism you go through, Jesus will always be the one that saved you. I can't stand doubting, I really can't. I can't wait until the soon approaching period of my life where I spend most of my time helping other people out with their problems in stead of studying and studying to solve my own.
In addition, I've been studying Genesis 1 and 2 every waking minute the past four or five days. I love the Bible and I love those chapters of Genesis. (perhaps the most glorious chapters in the Old Testament!) But I'm also becoming fairly convinced that without a study of historical context, we are WAY out of our bounds in assuming Genesis means what our culture thinks it means. I'll leave it at that-- you can read the rest of the posts on my blog to see what else I've been finding out.
Anyways, I must go. Peace to you all!
Thursday, July 14, 2011
You wrestle with the sinner's heart
You lead us by still waters in to mercy
And nothing can keep us apart
So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me
Great is Your love and justice God of Jacob
You use the weak to lead the strong
You lead us in the song of Your salvation
And all Your people sing along
So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me
So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me
Your grace is enough
Heaven reaching down to us
Your grace is enough for me
God I see your grace is enough
I'm covered in your love
Your grace is enough for me
We have relied on entirely bad arguments for our faith, we have failed to study historical context and find out what the Bible is actually saying, and have refused to believe the truth because it made us uncomfortable. And even within this set of beliefs we've created for ourselves, we don't follow them as if they were true!! What percent of American Christians today act as if Christianity is actually true? A very small minority. We have gorged ourselves on false ideologies for the sake of comfort and then become shocked to discover that the majority of our youth are leaving the church. I'm not shocked myself-- at least not anymore! I'm not saying I'm immune to this at all, but I am saying let's all embrace the words of the Prophet Samuel when he said to Israel, "Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you."
Let's all link arms and make our hearts strong by the Holy Spirit, being fearless and willing to believe the truth. After all, it is not the culture which is true, but the truth itself.
1. Arguments and comments need to be looked at solely for their logical substance. I have learned the hard way that just because many atheists are terribly confident that they're right does not at all entail that they are-- although this is the way our emotions run. Remember that all people are desire-driven human beings who have desires to be happy-- no one is exempt. A person could easily believe the wrong world-view because it brings them happiness, not because it is true. That is why airs of confidence and emotional certainty of one's worldview simply cannot be considered when it comes to looking at arguments. Realize that objections to your faith are ideas, not people. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12. Our struggle isn't against people, it's against ideas.
2. Arguments from "personal preference" (coined by Jordan) don't get you anywhere. "God would have done it like this" needs to be an assertion which is supported by evidence, not baseless intuitions. You could sit around all day, saying "Why did God do it this way?" "Why won't God act according to the way I think he should act?" But in the end, God doesn't act in the ways you think He should act, or do things the way you think He should have done them. This is the difference between an Omniscient being and staggeringly non-omniscient beings (humans). We just don't have enough knowledge to be making these kinds of claims. As Stephen Curtis Chapman says in one of his songs, "God is God and I am man. And I'll never understand it all, for only You are God."
3. Just because an idea has arguments against it doesn't mean it is false. In the realm of philosophy, there is absolutely no topic which is left un-critiqued. People even debate whether anything "exists" or not, or whether "truth" exists. There are arguments for and against everything. If it is true that every idea which has arguments against it is false, then nothing is true! So clearly even if an idea is harshly critiqued and considered false by everyone does not necessitate that it is false. It must be judged by the arguments against it and for it.
4. Keep in mind the fact that scholarly circles, consensus agreements, and available evidences shift. I'm not saying that truth shifts, but the evidence available shifts. Does that mean we should all give up and quit trying to pursue truth since we can never be sure about our conclusions? Of course not! Evidence doesn't shift that much! But we need not get discouraged when we think something is true and yet everyone disagrees with us. We also ought to be careful not to simply trust scholarly majorities out of hand, but rather to look at strong evidence and argumentation for ourselves.
5. Flee temptation. If there's anything which prevents us from seeing the truth, it is sin. It's not worth it. Just stay away from behaviors which can cause you to be spiritually blind.
6. Since humans have this odd tendency to assume philosophical naturalism (non-existence of the supernatural) out of hand, be careful that you're not doing the same thing. I'm convinced that, psychologically speaking, it's a pride issue. Since belief in naturalism is absurdly contradictory, think twice before you assume naturalism on grounds of "being rational".
7. Remember the Witness of the Spirit. Like William Lane Craig said, "It is unmistakable, yet not indubitable." This is so, so true. I always thought he was playing around and making stuff up, but experience has confirmed exactly what he said.
8. Beware of making the illogical assumption that the failure of one argument for God implies the failure of all of them. Richard Dawkins and his lot seem to be of the opinion that since Darwin has come up with a possible explanation of all biological life, Christianity is therefore false. But that is illogical and unwarranted. Seek truth, not emotional comfort.
9. Avoid procrastination and get to the point. Failing to do so leads to emotional doubt. For example, if there's one issue that is causing you to doubt Christianity factually, then go straight to that issue and work on it. Don't mosey around the internet looking for arguments for Christianity which will make you feel better. This causes the factual doubts to fester, eventually forcing them to become emotional doubts, which can later become volitional doubts.
10. You need fellowship. Humans do not have the ability to believe the truth by themselves. You need encouragement from friends to be able to stand to arguments from critics. Don't think you're not susceptible to burnout from lack of fellowship.
11. You need to pray. Often it's the most foolish seeming things, in our eyes, that are the most necessary to do. When you're spiritually blind, prayer seems strikingly unnecessary. But that's when you most need it.
I'll add more as they come to me.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
"these medieval Jewish commentators were followed by some noted Christian scholars. According to John Lightfoote-a widely read biblical exegete, theologian, and a Christian scholar of considerable standing-the Genesis account of creation describes God's preparation of a specific area of land which he identified as the garden of Eden. Lightfoote held that 1:1 states that God created the universe, but from 1:2 through the end of the chapter, the passage focuses on God's preparation of the land that was to be the garden of Eden. Lightfoote's view was developed further by later Christian scholars (216)." It seems to me [Evan] that the most controversial part of this view will not be that there is an unspecified amount of time between Genesis 1:1-- that seems obvious--, but the question of how the creation days could refer specifically to the Garden of Eden.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
In his book, Sailhamer argues that there is a theme intended by the original author, in the creation accounts of Genesis, that modern interpretations of Genesis completely ignore in their assumption that Genesis is speaking about the Creation of the Universe within the "six days". He says that when one reads Genesis as Moses intended his original audience to understand it, all of the tensions between modern science and Genesis instantly vanish. Just as a side note, I've been discovering this as well. There are plenty of "apparent" tensions between the Bible and evidence from science/history/philosophy, etc. But if you read the books of the Bible in a rational way without assuming that the author wrote the Bible specifically to your own culture and without assuming the book is tailored to your own assumptions about the world, suddenly all of these tensions begin to disappear.
From now on, I'll be unpacking the concepts of the article. So this isn't me talking any more:
Today there are generally three camps when it comes to Genesis:
Creationists: Believe that the Universe and the Earth were created in six literal 24-hour days, and thus the Universe and Earth are very young, since humans, who were created on the sixth day, have only been around for 10-20 thousands years. Creationists believe that Modern Science is essentially mislead, and they attempt to provide "Christian evidence" that the earth is young.
Progressive Creationists: Essentially agree with Modern Science that the Earth and the Universe are very old. They argue that the days presented in Genesis are not literal days, but longer ages in which God created the World.
Theistic Evolutionists: Believe the world is old and that God created the world over a long period of Time, then using evolution from a common ancestor to create all biological life.
Historic Creationism: Sailhamer calls his view "Historic Creationism". His view fully acknowledges the inerrancy of the Bible, the literal historicity of the events in Genesis, and rejects evolution.
The Historic Creationist view denies three assumptions that these other views share:
1) That the primary purpose of the first chapters of Genesis is only to describe how God created the world.
2) That the world was a formless mass which God shaped into what it is today.
3) That the "land" being made in the six days is meant to refer to the whole earth.
English Bibles have long distorted the meaning of Genesis because of these assumptions, so Sailhamer goes to the Hebrew to "Unbound" Genesis, and to let the book speak for itself.
Before making any specific arguments, the view is just laid out in its fullness beforehand:
In Genesis 1, there are two great acts of God. The first is the creation of the cosmos, the earth, the planets, the moons, stars, animals, plants, etc. The second is much more limited in scope and time. It is a period where God prepares the "land" for his chosen people. Perman says,"Beginning with Genesis 1:2, the biblical narrative recounts God's preparation of a land for the man and woman He was to create."  According to Perman in his review of this book, this is a stunning truth, because in later parts of Genesis where God plans to lead his people into a promised land so that they can live in God's blessings, it is not the first time God has prepared a place for his people.
Here's a larger portion of the text from Perman's article that I think would help communicate this:
"In sum, Sailhamer argues that Genesis 1:1 refers to the creation of the entire universe and that God did so over the period ofan unspecified length of time that could have been one year or fifteen billion years. The text just does not say. Genesis 1:2and following, which recount God's acts during the six days, therefore do not refer to the creation of the universe. They speak of a time after the creation of the universe when God prepared a land (which is the same land later promised to Israel) for Adam and Eve whom he was to create on the sixth day. And the reason that God had to prepare the Garden for Adam and Eve was, among other things, because "the earth [promised land] was formless and void [a deserted wilderness],and darkness was over the surface of the deep" (v. 2)."Ok, this is me [Evan] again. I have to admit, as I'm studying this (I'm studying this article for the first time as I take these notes), that this seems incredibly counter-intuitive and implausible, and even ad hoc. But as Perman says at this point in the article, "This view is very uncommon to us today and so it will take much defending. The remainder of this analysis will therefore consist mainly in an unfolding of the main arguments for historical creationism."
So with that I finish this post. The rest of the posts will consist of unpacking Sailhamer's arguments with Perman. I'll try my best to write clearly about it.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Even though I am a Christian and I practice (for the most part) spiritual disciplines which bring me closer to God, I believe that I am, in some sense, sitting on the fence still. I believe Jesus is my savior (and boy, has he saved me from some things in my life). But since I went through all kinds of horrid doubts and have started studying philosophy, something in me has changed. It's almost as if intellect, inquiry, and studying has stopped serving as a means towards believing the truth, but rather for being able to look academically respectable and able to refute other people. I know this is not the call of the Christ follower, and thus this needs to stop. But it's gotten to a point where it's really, really hard to budge out of this deadlock.
God: Evan, you continually claim that there is a ton of evidence for me, but you still don't believe in me to the point that you have 100 percent obedience. It's time for you to be obedient in full measure.
Evan: Yes.. But. (Insert some academic question here).
Here's the thing. The questions will never end. I know they wont. I'm a question factory. I can come up with 100 skeptical questions for every intuitional truth that the average human would accept without question. But that doesn't mean the truths are wrong.
I'll be honest. I don't like this, but I'm stuck here. I don't want out, but I know I need to run for dear life out of this rut, before I start to have a bitter heart; supposing I don't already.
Lusting over women is a painful struggle. The merciless contradictions involved with objectifying the very people I am most burdened for are so painful to me. Shame, guilt, and despair are hovering over me like a unrelenting rain-cloud that just won't go away.
Pride over just.. being right and viewed as a good and.. academically respectable person. It's making me into someone who seeks man's approval and not God's.
If it were just an evidential problem, then that would be fine; and some of this is evidential problems-- (i.e., realizing that there is an atheistic objection to one of my favorite arguments for theism that I haven't heard of). Yes, this all will be solved in good time. I don't even believe Christianity on the basis of solely arguments, but the witness of the Holy Spirit.
This cannot be a chase after being approved, but rather believing the truth.
So with regards to this, I need prayer. I need your help, if you read this. Pray that my struggles with pride and lust will be overcome by the power of Christ. I covet your support.
I'm doing much better. I realized I needed to actually read my Bible, pray, and make friends with the Holy Spirit again. Thank you, anyone who prayed for me.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
It's when I sit here late at night, reading the Word or listening to music. That's when I just get filled with wonder. Is it really true that a man on a cross has bought me freedom and life, and God.. forever? This is beyond words. This is amazing.
Is it really, really true? God, giving me His life? The creator of all, chosing me for eternal salvation, apart from any and all of my own merit... wow. Truly, truly this is, as it is called, "such a great salvation".
Sunday, June 19, 2011
I wish someone had taught me this earlier, because not realizing it before-hand has caused me a significant amount of emotional pain.
This is going to be a little exercise in epistemology. Let me define terms: Epistemology is the study of what we know. It is a field which asks the questions that not everyone likes to ask, like, "How do we know this, or that?" and, "What does it mean to know something", etc.. A proposition is something which is simply a statement about reality which can be true or false. For example, "There is a dog in my basement." is a proposition. It depends on whether there is a dog in your basement or not if it's a true proposition! Propositions can be replaced by Letters. For example, I could call the earlier mentioned proposition "P" and refer to it as P) from now on.
What we do with propositions is take a stance towards them-- an stance about the truth of the proposition. I can either believe proposition A), I can believe A) is not true, and I can simply withhold belief since both A) and not-A) are equally justified. One is called belief, the other is called belief in the negation of the formerly mentioned proposition. The last is called agnosticism. By the way, shame on any atheists who claim that atheism is simply a "lack of belief" in God. That's agnosticism.
Anyways. When it comes to believing a certain proposition, there are reasons to believe it and there are reasons not to believe it. If there are more and better reasons to believe a proposition than to believe it is false, then you should believe the proposition. For example, even if Christianity were 51% likely to be true and 49% likely to be false, we would be required to believe it over the contradictory, "Christianity is false."
Now to the main point! If there are good, solid reasons to believe that God exists and that Jesus rose from the dead, then that makes Christianity very likely to be true. Unfortunately it can't positively prove it-- but think about it: you can't even positively prove that the external world exists.
For example, the resurrection.
Either the (Hallucination theory, Disciples stole the body theory, Survival on the Cross theory, Myth/Embellishment theory, or the Resurrection theory) is true. Everything except the resurrection theory is very unlikely.
Now, just because the resurrection is the best historical explanation of the events surrounding the crucifixion and appearance of Jesus after his death doesn't mean that it's been positively proved. The very logical possibility that we could be wrong entails that it's not 100% proved. But it is by far more likely than the resurrection not being true. And even if a supernatural bodily resurrection did happen. Does that necessarily imply that Christianity is true? Much to my aggravation, no, actually! Because it's logically possible that an Evil God raised Jesus from the dead to fool us all! But how likely is that? Very, very unlikely. So the evidence for the resurrection makes Christianity far more likely to be true than anything else. But you could never prove it 100% (nor can you prove anything 100% except your own existence.)
We should then believe that Christianity is true since it is far more likely to be true than to not be true. But suppose that there are problems with Christianity. Not even problems, really, but things that don't make sense. Like original sin, or hell, or evil, or problems with the Bible which archaeological research has not found an answer to (or shows evidence contrary to). Does that mean that we should then ditch Christianity as a worldview? Of course not. I remember so many cases of where the Bible's critics found some sort of historical evidence against the Bible only to be silenced in later years by evidence which was just discovered. There was once a professor who claimed that the New Testament was myth simply because in his studies of antiquity around the time of Jesus crucifixion, the only evidence pointed to the fact that those who were crucified were tied to the cross with ropes, not nailed by their hands and feet like the Bible claims Jesus was. Only years later, in ancient Jerusalem a family tomb was discovered where the male father had been crucified with his hands and feet nailed to the cross. That objection disappeared.
So, my main point is that simply because there are potential problems or things that don't make sense doesn't mean that we should therefore toss a whole worldview. We must approach our investigations as to what is true taking into consideration how little we truly know about the world as compared to what God knows. If the way God did things seems blatantly unjust or wrong to you, perhaps its because God knows everything and you know next to nothing.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9
These are a few verses which I've seriously had to consider recently. What problems with Christianity have I been experiencing of late? None, really. I've just been thinking about the nature of justification of beliefs and realized this, whereas I used to take arguments in isolation.