Sunday, January 30, 2005

Torture: A Christian Perspective

I recently read the Wil Wheaton's blog on torture. He quips that torture is not an American value and therefore he is opposing the confirmation of alberto Gonzales as the new Attorney General.

I've been thinking about a Christian perspective on torture. Is all torture wrong? Is there an acceptable level of torture in war? To be honest, I'm not sure but I need to chew on this some more.

On the surface, and without any serious thought, I would agree with Wil. But I think the issue is a lot more complex ethically. It's easy enough to just brush the issue aside as wrong (in every case) but again, I'm not sure that is the case. Wil writes

While it is vital that we defeat our enemies, we must not become them in
the process. As a nation, we must stand united against Albert Gonzales and
everything he represents. Torture is not an American value.

Again, I think this view sounds good, but in principle I think it's simplistic. I have to ponder this for a while.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Problem of Evil

With the tsunami catastrophe and other in the news suffering, the issue of evil and the existence of God is front and center. Here is a post on message board from an atheist:

Here’s my own proof of the nonexistence of God. I maintain that not only does God not exist, he cannot conceivably exist.When I mention the word God (uppercase G), I’m referring to the god that most people in occidental society believe in which comprises the gods Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, and even the Hindu god, Brahma. Seeing that this God is said to be both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, then he has the power to wipe away all evil and suffering. Moreover, his omnibenevolence would move him, out of compassion and love, to end all suffering (or better yet, not allow suffering to ever start). Since the world is full of cruelty and suffering, the belief in this deity cannot be logically or factually reconciled with the state of the world. Ergo, God cannot exist.

His argument is standard fare and nothing new. The problem of evil, as far as I'm aware of, is the only positive argument from the atheist for the non-existence of God. There are several variations, but it boils down to the same issue: If God exist and He is all-good, all-powerful, and all knowing, then He would stop suffering and evil. Evil and suffering exist, therefore God does not exist.

I'm not going to deal with the nuts and bolts of the above argument, but it seems to me that the post above assumes a few things. He implicitly assumes a standard of good and evil, right and wrong to judge God. What is that based on? Also, he doesn't mention omniscences as a characteristic of God. Why? Is it possible that he knows his argument is weakened by the fact if God knows all, He ultimately knows the reason for suffering and cruelty?

God's existence due to the presence of suffering and cruelty is not so easily dismissed nor is it easily answered. So far theist and in particular Christians have the most cogent arguments that I know of, but I am a little biased.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The City of God Against the Pagans

Since I have to read the City of God by Augustine. We will explore the together. I'm excited about tackling the book, but even the translator, R. W. Dyson, admits that this book is a difficult read. But as with most things of value there is always a price to be paid. In this case it's difficult reading to get to the truth. So stay tune...

The Closing of the American Mind

I just finished reading Allan Bloom's, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students. First, let me say that I'm on the very late freight train. I should have read this years ago, but due to the fog of youth I didn't.

For those who have not read it, Bloom argues American universities are teaching a moral value of openness that really is not an opening of the mind, but in reality a closing of the mind in the form of cultural relativism and a desire not "to know thyself."

Bloom's criticism of the university system for it's failure to educate is a scathing critique from the inside. He speaks from over thirty years of experience in the system. Some of his insights are still crystal clear today as they were in 1987 when the book was first published. For example, the dominance of the natural science to the point of skewing the university system as a form of careerism. Or the poor attempt by the university to counteract the removal of liberal arts requirements from the college curriculum.

Even though I enjoyed Bloom's writing, there are some problems with the book, such as his mentioning of the 'soul' being replaced by the self, but not really expanding on the difference of a soul from the self. As somebody who needs explaining, Bloom missed this. Bloom also assumes some important points that should have been part of his discussion. Like a detailed explanation of "the serious life" and "the good life." Are they different aspects of the same truly liberally educated person? The connection is not made and the reader is left to fill in the gaps.

But, what I wanted to ask is, Should it matter that Bloom was homosexual? As a conservative Christian thinker, one would automatically think that I'm quick to shot the messenger if there is any stain of 'sin' especially homosexuality. But quite to the contrary, I value truth no matter what corner it comes from. We all are sinners and homosexuality is just one in many. But truth is truth and can come from the most unexpected places.

The problem is most people have agendas and it's not the truth.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Start of Something New

I've been swinging through the blog-0-sphere for a while, and now I feel like it's time to put down roots. For me, starting is always the hard part. But I figured "Why not?" I'm about to finish my Masters of Art in Christian Apologetics; I'm a father; I've lived on this earth for 35 years--- So I should have something to say, right?

This is my last semester at Biola University and I'm excited. It has been a long and fruitful road that will, hopefully, take me into new and challenging areas. If any Christians are truly interested in expanding their Christian resources I would definitely suggest taking the program. Plus the interaction with other Christians is invaluable.

Some of the subjects I plan to study my final semester are:

1. Augustine's, The City of God against the Pagans (Independent study course)

2. Epistomology

3. World Religion and Science

Now you might ask, "Why Christian Apologetics? What are you going to do with that degree?"
Well, let me tell you a little story---

There once was a young man who felt going to Church was good enough. He would even make it to a mid-week bible study. He was comfortable, happy, and maybe just a little prideful. The most he know or cared about the Bible was "Jesus saves" and "The Lord is my shepherd." What else was there to know?

Until, one day he happened to pick up a book that challenged his faith. The book questioned the veracity of the Bible. It claimed that not everything in the Bible was true, in fact some of the passages and saying were just made. The young man was stunned. Was this true? Could he be following a false religion?

That is when the search for truth started. He read; he listened; he questioned. Up until this time the young man was comfortable. He thought his way was the true way. But as the true Shepherd said, "I am the truth, the way and the life..." The young man was awaken from his slumber. He realized comfort was not always a good thing. And like the parable of the frog who slowly boiled to death, he had a false sense of security.

The young man started on a journey to find the Truth. And you know the funny thing was...the Truth found him. The Truth is sometimes called the Logos, the King, and Lord. But his name is Jesus, and he came to save that which was lost.

The young man continues on his journey, knowing that he will not always have the answer, and his journey will uncover coal as well as diamonds. But he trust the Shepherd will not lead him astray. And now when he is challenged about the Faith, he will be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks to give an account for the hope that is in him.

Soli Deo Gloria.