State of the Blog 2012

To the mass quantity of people that make up my audience…

(yes, all 30 of you)

If may have come to your attention that I haven’t QUITE kept up with my new years resolution of blogging once every other week. Or every month. Or more than 3 or 4 times this year.

Oops.

I feel like our fearless leader when presented with questions on policy. Or any question for that matter.

However, I have kept up with SOME of my many resolutions. And I promise the blogging will continue, I’ve just been busy. Yeah, I know that’s a badge of honor here in the west (try and remember the last time someone asked how you were and you didn’t reply “good…busy, but good”), but I really have been busy.

In the spirit of election season and our honest, transparent presidential candidates, I will go through my resolutions so you can see that I have in fact made progress. Hopefully this will rekindle your hope in me and my promises to blog! Here we go:

1) Get married

Check! June 23rd, 2012 Kevin was a dead man walking. Kevin took the leap. Kevin <insert marriage cliche here>. Check out thathubertcouple.com for updates on married life / life at the Hubert compound.

2) Graduate

Again, check! I’m an official, card carrying philosopher. I told you I haven’t been worthless this year (which is more than can be said of my degree).

3) Wake up by 9am 5 days out of the week

Despite working 11am-9pm monday – Thursday, I think I’ve stuck to this pretty well. I’m sure there have been weeks I didn’t, but generally I’ve stuck to it.

4) Visit a new country

Well, the closest I’ve come to this is the border of Canada on my honeymoon. This one may not happen…

5) Climb V8

This one I’ve worked hard towards and I think I will accomplish. I’m projecting some hard 6’s and 7’s now so it’s looking good.

6) Climb 5.12 outdoors

Again, I think this will be accomplished as well. While I haven’t been climbing outdoors very much this year, I’m probably my strongest ever climbing and I’ve sent 5.11d so it looks promising.

7) Read Bible cover to cover

Yeah… haven’t put much effort into this one

8) Make a new CD

Christmas 2012!

9) Blog at least once a week

lol

10) Love people daily

I’d like to think I’ve been more intentional about this. Far from perfect, but pursuing people with love has been a major part of my spiritual life / spiritual learning this year.

Well there it is. Just because the one that pertains to the medium in which some of you keep in contact with me doesn’t mean I’ve been bad about all of them. I promise to work harder about being diligent when I have an idea to write about.

Which, oh man, have I got some ideas I need to write about. Until then, stay tuned.

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Surface Level Logic

Well I’ve already broken my resolution to blog at least once every two weeks. That was pretty short lived. In my defense though, I don’t want to blog unless I really have something to say, and feel like it’s going to add something relevant to a reader’s life. I have a list of ideas I’d like to write about but I don’t want to fabricate knowledge or simulate thought just put words on a page. That being said, I will try to decrease the time in between posts but I don’t know if putting a specific time line to such things is a good idea given the organic nature of blogging about things like this. I don’t want it to turn into a list of what I ate that day. No one wants that.

To the good stuff!

I love Reddit.com. If you haven’t ever checked it out, I would suggest you take a look. Chances are, if you’re a nerd of any caliber you’ve at least checked it out. If not, here’s a brief look at what it is:

Reddit is the front page of the internet. It’s a user driven site where anyone can post anything to any part of the site and people are able to vote it up or down depending on how one feels about the content posted. Things are organized into what are called “sub-reddits” and tend to be separated by subject. Every subreddit is marked by a “/r/” in the link. For example, the photography subreddit is www.reddit.com/r/photography, and the politics subreddit is www.reddit.com/r/politics. There is a subreddit for pretty much anything you could think of. Seriously, just try searching for one. You subscribe to your favorite subreddits and your front page then shows pretty much everything you’re interested in and stuff from other subreddits that have a large amount of upvotes. This is called the frontpage of reddit.

Which leads me to the reason behind the existence of this blog.

One of the largest subreddits is the subreddit www.reddit.com/r/atheism. Why it’s one of the largest, I’m still not entirely sure, but it’s led to memes like this being created:

Image

Seriously. The sheer percentage of atheists is remarkable. So even though I don’t subscribe to the atheist subreddit, I tend to see the top posts on the front page because they have so many users that upvote things.

So on Friday, I was browsing reddit as per usual, and I saw a post on the front page with a few thousand upvotes from /r/atheism. I decided to click on it.

Sigh.

This is what I found:

Image

MEGA SIGH.

Okay. Now. Before I start, arguing against this, I feel I need to preface some things.

1. Kevin does not hate atheists

It’s true I don’t. One of my best friends is an atheist, and I’ll be completely honest, I enjoy talking to him more than many if not most of my christian friends. Why, you may ask? He’s real. He’s honest. He’s not going to tell me something he doesn’t believe in order to make me think he’s a better person. With him, I know I’m going to get honest answers, and sometimes really difficult questions. I love that. It’s much more intellectually stimulating than, “I disagree with that because I don’t like it”. Which leads me to my next point…

2. I’m not a Christian because I’m ignorant.

I don’t think science is the devil. I don’t think the world is 7 thousand old. I do believe in evolution. I don’t think the bible is error free. If my preacher told me to accept Christianity and not ask questions I would laugh.

I’m a Christian because it makes sense to me. I’ll say that again. I’M A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE IT MAKES SENSE TO ME. I’m also a skeptic. I don’t EVER listen to a sermon and agree with everything. If I did, I would see a doctor. I doubt much of what is said to me by a multitude of sources. It’s a curse I was born with and inflamed further by reading Descartes. I mean, the dude doubted the existence of his own two hands. The dude has issues. I don’t have time to defend an entire religion in a blog, but that’s my reasoning for being a christian, not because I’m an idiot who doesn’t like to think.

This next one is for the atheists.

3. Comments made by ignorant Christians, are 10 tens as painful for me to read that for you to read.

I don’t think I can stress this enough. I’ve already said I enjoy talking to atheists. I LOVE disagreeing with people. If we all agreed on everything, philosophy wouldn’t exist. We’d all sit around singing kumbaya until we died. Lame. I like to argue. I like to examine premises and conclusions and figure things out both semantically and logically. This is why posts, like the aforementioned, make me angry. Well,that’s not true. The comments about these posts make me angry. Painting all Christians in the same way make me angry. Painting myself, the mega church preacher, and a martyr from the 12th century is the equivalent of me calling you Hitler because you’re both human. My answer is obviously incorrect because it’s an extreme, but that’s only because my use of reductio ad absurdem, or taking a side to extreme to point out a fallacy.

Okay, now onto my interaction with the comments on Reddit.

I wasn’t going to comment but the comments were so void of meaning and insulting to me I wanted to say something. I said this:

“This is a useless argument. It’s the equivalent of me asking “if you had to kill your family, or a defenseless baby, what would you choose?” Raising absurd hypothetical questions doesn’t delve into the issue, it’s smoke in mirrors to prove a point via semantics. “

and got back this response:

“except that’s one of the exact scenarios in the bible: god orders his most loyal follower to sacrifice his own child to him.You can point at their holy book and say “what would you do if your god asked the same.””

To this I answered:

I’m not sure that’s a fair example.

I don’t like to use scripture to argue a point I may have on religion because (being a philosophy student) it isn’t very strong to argue from something you’re trying to defend. BUT, since we are referring to a specific occurrence documented by the bible, I will.

1) Abraham did not kill Isaac. By using just this piece of information, I think you could go around the original argument by saying “yes I would kill you if God asked me to, because before I could He would stop me.”

2) Before this next point I think I should emphasize, the story of Abraham is NOT just an OT thing. Any christian who uses that argument is ignorant and makes anyone who’s a thinker on any level and a Christian look narrow-minded. In Hebrews (a later book in the NT) Abraham is discussed in depth as being a man of faith. It wasn’t necessarily his blind faith in God that caused him to commit an act deemed insane; it was his faith in God’s restoration and good nature. It was his illogical acceptance that even if his son died, God would introduce many descendents through his lineage (God had already promised him this through the Abrahamic covenant).

Sorry, kinda long.”

and got back this

“yes I would kill you if God asked me to, because before I could He would stop me.”

isn’t that assuming you know the mind of god himself? In that case he stopped him but they don’t know gods plan so he might let you go through with it.

it simply becomes a matter of what you do when you start to swing the knife if you realise there’s no more time for god to tell you to stop. otherwise you’re just going through the motions of getting ready to kill someone, not actually intending to follow gods orders.”

Okay. There are a lot of problems not only with this guy’s answer, but with this line of thinking and here’s the point I’d like to make:

You can’t take a VERY specific example like the case of Abraham and Isaac and create a VERY broad statement like the entire community of the subreddit was doing- particularly this guy. He used one example of God commanding one man to kill another  to make the argument that God could tell anyone at anytime to kill anyone else. It’s weak and not well thought out at all.

We need some federally funded research into this

But, let’s assume it’s not bad. Let’s assume it’s as sound as sleeping baby. You can’t ignore the outcome of that particular story if you’re going to give it that much power. You can’t ignore that that guy Isaac didn’t get killed. He didn’t even get close to being killed. God intervened and saved him before Abraham could lay a hand on him. Looking at just God telling him to murder Isaac is like looking at a stick half in water and making the statement “the stick is actually bent”. You can’t pick and choose aspects to ignore.

That being said, I have EVERY right to make the reciprocal argument with the same example. I can say, every time God tells someone to kill someone else, he will intervene and save the person. This adheres to the morality of which I embrace, and is neither crazy nor indicative that I’m a sociopath as the poster suggests. I don’t think my objection is particularly strong, but I don’t think the atheists’ initial argument is either. For some reason, he can make a broad statement about morality, but when I do I’m claiming to “know the mind of god”.

If I’m expected to examine, analyze, and accept your theories on life and religion, please give me real arguments. I’m tired of a smoke-in-mirrors circle jerk,and having my arguments “destroyed” by kiddie philosophies like this.

Kevin out.

God is good?

 

Well seeing as how I haven’t posted anything since July 2011, I’ve already failed at my resolution to blog every other week, and I actually struggled to remember my password for this very account, I think it’s time I got some thoughts up. Now, I’ve made a list of ideas I have/want to talk about and bounce off of you guys and I’m just going to head down the list in no particular order (unless you count levels of motivation as an order).

That being said, if you notice it’s been over 2ish weeks and I haven’t graced your free time with my insights into the mysteries of the universe, feel free to shoot me some hate mail. Or shoot me a hate text. Just don’t shoot me. There. Accountability? Check. On to the meat and potatoes of this post!

God is good.

We say this ALOT in bible belt America. “You got fired from your job? I’m so sorry, but don’t worry, God is good.” “Your kid has contracted some kind of disease? That’s horrible, but it’s all in His plan because He is good.” “You’re low on money? God will provide. He is loving and good.” C’mon we in the church going culture hear it and see it all the time. In fact, if I see it on one more T-shirt or coffee mug, I… well I can’t be responsible for what happens.

How new, original, and relevant.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “This blog is going to be about how we always use that phrase as comfort, but when things really are going good we don’t go down that train of thought. Then we give the praise to ourselves and only come to God when we need something.”

Ha! I scoff at your error. I’m not going to tackle such a surface level subject because honestly, we’ve heard that a million times. You’ve heard that speech before and I’m going to leave it to much better writers/communicators than myself to handle. No, I’m going down a much difference path. Rather than look at mere responses to and initiations of the phrase “God is good”, I’m going to take a step backwards play the role of the skeptic and ask this simple question: “Is God good?”

Before I delve into this question I need to ask something of you, the reader. Please approach this with an open mind. I know I’m questioning the foundation of Christianity and it may seem like I’m belittling God. I’m not. If the God you believe in and love can’t stand up to this question, then you’re belittling Him.

The mindset of far too many Christians

We also need to take a little trip backwards in time to a man I like to call Socrates. I like to call him that because that was his name. First of all, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what your GPR was in college, or how many great questions you asked in class. Socrates was smarter than you. In Plato’s dialogue Euthyphro, Socrates presented an intriguing question. I need to set up the scene a little bit so you can understand where he was coming from this. This is going to be an intense paraphrase.

Socrates is on trial for his “false” teachings of causing people to question their beliefs in the Greek gods. While waiting to enter the trial room he meets a high ranking religious figure named Euthyphro. Euthyphro informs Socrates that he is also going on trial, but he is the accuser and is accusing his own father of murdering one of their servants. Socrates seizes the opportunity to ask Euthyphro the question, “what is piety?”. Socrates uses his ingenious methodology of rhetoric by questioning Euthyphro into corners where he contradicts himself, and breaks down his own argument. Eventually, he presents Socrates with this definition: “Piety is what is agreed to be pious by all the gods, and impiety is what is agreed to be impious by all the gods.” From here, the famous argument known as Euthyphro’s dillema arises. Socrates responds, “Are these deeds agreed to be pious because they are in fact pious, or are they pious simply because they are agreed upon to be pious.”

"You lost me at pie-us"

Let’s rephrase the question in an easier to understand format. Are actions deemed good because God does them, or does God only do good actions? That is to say, is an action qualified as good because everything God does is good, or does God simply adhere to a list of good and never does the alternative? We can split this question up into two sections and attempt to tackle them exclusively:

1) That which is good, is commanded by God, because it is good.

Essentially, this view states there is a moral code or law, wherein an action derives its goodness independent of God’s command. The goodness is not derived from God completing the command, but rather God only does good actions, or actions deemed “good” from this moral code. This side of the problem has many strengths and many weaknesses. At first glance, this side seems pretty sketchy to us bible-belters because in a way, it inhibits what God is capable of. God is confined to this structure, and cannot stray from what is good. Now, as you might expect, there are some problems with this view:

  • The most obvious problem to me is sovereignty. There is something by which God is held accountable, and is unable to stray from. This would also limit God’s power because He would be incapable of straying from such a code. Sounds sketch.
  • The other big problem I see with this, is the lack of necessity for God. If morality really does exist outside of God, then why do we need Him? Seems like at that point, God is just used as a sort of genie to reward us and give us atta boy’s when we follow this code

The other side of argument is this:

2) That which is good, is good because it is commanded by God

Basically, there is no moral code other than what God’s will. Nothing is inherently good or bad, right or wrong, outside of God’s commands. This means that homosexuality, sex before marriage, greed, gluttony, and pride are in and of themselves bad but because God has said they are bad, they are. At first glance, as a Christian this seems like the obvious answer. Not so fast bucko, there’s some problems with this view as well. Problems that I can’t seem to get passed.

  • The statement “God is good” is utterly meaningless. You are simply saying a circular statement: “God does what God does”. Saying “God is good” is void of anything more than a cleverly disguised empty sentence
  • There is absolutely NOTHING distinguishing God from an all powerful demon. If what is good is ultimately and solely defined by God’s actions, God’s commands could in fact look very evil if we could view them from his point of view, or outside the confines of the world in which his commands are present. This point is very strong, but hard to argue. So I’ll let Clive do it:

“If good is to be defined as what God commands, then the goodness of God Himself is emptied of meaning and the commands of an omnipotent fiend would have the same claim on us as those of the ‘righteous Lord.” – C.S. Lewis

  • Along the same lines as the previous objection, all of God’s characteristics are made arbitrary. There’s no meaning, logic, or inherent “goodness” about Him or the way in which He operates. It’s all very arbitrary.

    I guess that makes him Satan

Well there ya go, there’s the two sides. Now you get Kevin’s thoughts on the subject:

I think I line up more in line with the first view, that is, that God only does actions which are inherently “good”. Now before you say, “Kevin God created “good” therefore he’s still defining good, and it’s not inherent at all”. To that I would respond “… good point”. It’s difficult to get around, that’s for sure. I guess you would have to posit that this world, the world that exists in reality, is better than all the possible worlds that could have been created. This would of course require some sort of standard by which “better” would have any meaning of course. I’ll have to explicate on what I think after I’ve pondered it some more… I’ll get back to you!

All in all, it’s pretty intriguing to ponder. God is good doesn’t have near as much comfort or strength as one may think. Is God good? What do we mean by good?

What do you guys think?

 

 

Europe 2011

PARIS

by Alan Seeger
First, London, for its myriads; for its height, 
Manhattan heaped in towering stalagmite; 
But Paris for the smoothness of the paths 
That lead the heart unto the heart’s delight. . . . 
Oh, go to Paris. . . . In the midday gloom 
Of some old quarter take a little room 
That looks off over Paris and its towers 
From Saint Gervais round to the Emperor’s Tomb, —
So high that you can hear a mating dove 
Croon down the chimney from the roof above, 
See Notre Dame and know how sweet it is 
To wake between Our Lady and our love.
                                                                                                            
Nietzche said “No artist has a home in Europe, except in Paris.
“Hemingway called Paris “a moveable feast” that stays with you long after you’ve left.
Lumiere (the candlestick in Beauty and the Beast) called it the city of “love“…

Here’s some pics from my trip to Paris!

_______________________________________________
Of our ancestors, brave true ancient Scots, 
Whose glorious scutcheons knew no bars or blots; 
But blood untainted circled ev’ry vein, 
And ev’ry thing ignoble did disdain; 
Of such illustrious patriots and bold, 
Who stoutly did maintain our rights of old, 
Who their malicious, invet’rate foes, 
With sword in hand, did gallantly oppose: 
And in their own, and nation’s just defence, 
Did briskly check the frequent insolence 
Of haughty neighbours, enemies profest, 
Picts, Danes, and Saxons, Scotland’s very pest; 
Of such, I say, I’ll brag and vaunt so long 
As I have power to use my pen or tongue; 
And sound their praises in such modern strain 
As suiteth best a Scot’s poetic vein, 
First, here I honour, in particular, 
Sir William Wallace, much renown’d in war, 
Whose bold progenitors have long time stood, 
Of honourable and true Scottish blood.

-The Life of Sir William Wallace

_______________________________________________

Scotland

_______________________________________________

 My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation.

-Sherlock Holmes-

_______________________________________________

London

To choose or not to choose, that is the choice.

A few nights ago, one of my best friends and I took a trip to Austin around midnight so we could wake up early and get some good rock climbing in. For some reason we waited until the final 5 minutes of the drive to talk about the most meaningful and confusing part of our conversation. It began as a talk about super powers and what the most desirable traits in a superhero would be (thank you Coast to Coast AM). The conversation was roughly as follows:

Dramatic reenactment

Me: I think I would like to be able to teleport. But none of this weaksauce stuff- I want to be able to go anywhere in the world at any time, instantly. Breakfast on a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, lunch and a pint in an Irish pub, dinner along the streets of Paris, dessert and coffee at a jazz club in NYC. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

Brian: What about time travel? Being able to visit any point in time and see any historical occurrence firsthand- that would be cool.

Me: True, that would be incredible. But what about the rules of causality and order? The cosmos wouldn’t function the same if you began a ripple affect in time from your decisions. Tiny differences manifest into moderate differences which create big changes over time.

Brian: Well, suppose you could only go back 24 hours and relive the exact same day twice. Anything you would affect would obviously be different, but things and people you didn’t come into contact with would remain the same and therefore play out the exact same way. You could still make great use of it in the world of betting and gambling to make oodles of money.

Me: Hmm. So things that you don’t come into contact with will play out in the exact same manner. Say for instance I have the choice in the morning to eat Frosted Flakes or Lucky Charms; If the first day I chose Lucky Charms, does that mean I will choose Lucky Charms again?

Brian: Precisely. If I don’t affect it, then it will play out in the exact same way. Same thing with probability based things like the lottery and dice rolling in a craps game. They will be the exact same.

Me: That’s interesting. It sounds like you have a very deterministic view of the universe and the way it operates. That is to say, you think the universe will play out in one specific way determined on the way in which it began. It is just a rock on top of a hill that’s been pushed over the edge and if we knew all the variables and tangibles, we could calculate the exact route the rock will take and exactly what it will be doing at say, 3/4 the way down the hill, even if it hasn’t reached that point yet.

Brian: Yes. Although I don’t think there’s any possible way to gather every single variable about the universe in such a way as to predict its future, in theory that is true.

Me: Luckily you’re outside of the “cosmic calculus” needed to predict the future. You’ve seen it play out for 24 hours remember? You’ve seen me make the choice of Lucky Charms, and according to your deterministic view, I will always choose Lucky Charms. In fact, it would be impossible for me to choose otherwise.

Brian: I don’t know how I feel about you using the word “impossible”. Nothing I have done has affected your choice. You freely chose Lucky Charms based on your own free will. I did nothing to deter you from Frosted Flakes or guide you to Lucky Charms. Simply because I know the outcome of your choice doesn’t mean I affected your decision in any way.

Me: I agree completely. This is what philosophers would call compatibilism. Your choice is already known, but you were free in making it, therefore you still have free will in your decisions. My problem then is this: if I were to make the choice of which cereal to eat at 9:00am and you went back to 8:00am, you would have the object of knowledge regarding which cereal I were to choose before I made the decision. You would be outside of this causal timeline and able to make objective statements of the “unknown” or “un-happened” regarding my decisions. My choices would therefore be known to you because it wasn’t decisions I was making- I’d already made them. Not only do you know what I would choose, it would be impossible for me to choose otherwise if I am bound by determinism. How is am I free if you know my path an I cannot stray from it?

Brian: Well this is a mere illustration. It’s futile to try and make objective rules on something that’s impossible.

Me: Yeah, you can’t go back 24 hours and relive a day or be outside of time. You can’t see decisions before they happen or view my choices without affecting them.

<pondering>

<pondering>

<pondering>

Both of us: What about God?

Make sure your trays are in their upright and locked positions. Kevin and Brian have stumbled upon the fabric that holds the entirety of our existence together. A venture into the workings of space and time are a simple given while on this voyage. Prepare yourself. For you are about to enter into- The Philosophy Zone. BUM BUM BUM, dodododododo…..

Like this but less formal. Also, in color.

So here’s the general setup: even if we make our own decisions without being forced one way or another by God, if God knows the future aren’t we bound by his knowledge? Are we creatures with just the illusion of free will, or does God not know the future?

I think most people will approach it the way Brian did. Nothing affects our decision making process and therefore our decisions are free. This makes sense if you look at the process of decisions linearly. That is, start from the beginning and work your way through the choice made. But if you start at the end of a decision or rather, right after a decision is made and work backwards it doesn’t play out so clean and easy.

I made the choice of lucky charms. Well, let’s go back further. I enjoyed the succulent deliciousness of lucky charms in a cold bowl of whole milk and a little bit of chocolate syrup drizzled on top. Before that I picked Lucky charms above frosted flakes because, let’s be honest, what sane person wouldn’t? Before that, I was presented with the option of choosing one of two cereals- and here inlies the problem; if God knew the my choice before I made it, then I wasn’t choosing anything. I was simply following along his plan set out for me. It would have been, for lack of a better term, impossible for me to veer off my “course” as it were, otherwise God would have been wrong.

Leprechaun Cocaine

This of course can lend itself to further complications if you believe in God. If God has free will, is He then bound by his choices? Cannot He not choose alternatively to what will happen in the future? In order to have free will, you must have more than one option, each of which is avoidable. This means that before you make a choice, there must be a state of uncertainty during a period of potential: you cannot know the future. Even if you think you can predict your decision, if you claim to have free will, you must admit the potential (if not the desire) to change your mind before the decision is final. Things start to get a little fuzzier as the circular argument gives way to an infinite regress…

Lasts almost as long as the Freebird solo

The best argument that helps to refute this claim of the absolute absence of free will is far from perfect but it does hold up to some scrutiny. It was an argument started by St. Thomas Aquinas and later expounded upon by dear old Clive.

But suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call “tomorrow” is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call today.” All the days are “Now” for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday, He simply sees you doing them: because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not “foresee” you doing things tomorrow, He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never supposed that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing. Well, He knows your tomorrow’s actions in just the same way—because He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you. In a sense, He does not know your action till you have done it: but then the moment at which you have done it is already “Now” for Him

"Let me light up before I destroy your argument with one hand tied behind my brain"

Clive was freaking smart. This is, as far as I can tell, the best way to argue against this notion of complete determinism, but it doesn’t overturn it completely by any means. For one, it still doesn’t necessitate free will and a person’s actions are still bound by determinism. It also doesn’t really address is God has free will or not, but I think that’s a much more complicated issue to tackle. But this is definitely a step in the right direction, and takes alot of strength from determinism.

I think?

More on this after I think about it some more….

The Deeper End of The Pool…

Nothing finer than a blog and a Shiner!

I feel as though I need to preface this post (as I usually do) with a disclaimer:

I’m not a theologian. I’m not educated in the realm of theology and am tremendously limited in my understanding of systematic/dogmatic/biblical theology. All I know is what I learn from preachers, what wikipedia tells me, and what I can learn on my own. That being said, I do think that my ideas hold at least some merit and can stand up to at least some scrutiny. And even if they don’t, I need to think about them and see if they hold up to scripture and what better place to think out loud than in a blog where no one can tell me to shut up. There, now that that’s all cleared up– ONWARD!

There are two questions that I want to ask myself and the readers (if there are in fact readers) in this blog. Both are weighty, deep, confusing, require explanation, but have eternal implications. In other words, two questions right up my alley.

Question numero uno:

For whom did Jesus taste death?

I think I need to provide another disclaimer. I’m not approaching this from a perspective of Calvinism. Yeah I know, “limited atonement blah blah blah”, but that’s not where I’m coming from. Think of this as a logical approach more than anything, and maybe I’ll reach a point that lines up with TULIP but that’s not my starting point. Right! Onward, once more!

Who did Jesus die for? Who’s sins were nailed to the cross with our Lord? Which person, group of people, or even species did Jesus sacrifice himself for? Now, it is my opinion (opinion because I haven’t gathered any evidence to support my statistic) that if I were to poll 100 College Station residing, Mugwalls visiting, evangelical Christians, 95 of them would answer with one word; everybody.

Jesus died for everyone right? He took the sins of the world, the entire world, and died for every single person. I mean, this is a pretty good answer because its got biblical support to back it up. There’s a couple different verses one could use to validate the statement “Jesus died for everyone” but I’m just going to bring up one.

Hebrews 2:9 – “But we do see Jesus- made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone- crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death.”

Biblical support. Usually theology starts from a point in scripture (unless you’re Tom Cruise).It paints Jesus as a nicer dude. Seems like it makes sense. The answer must be everyone right? As I said, I think it’s a good answer. Let me explain why: it’s non-sectarian. It’s not elitist. It’s looking at the world and everyone besides me and placing the love of Christ on them. There’s no kind of distance between me, as a Christian, and someone who is not a Christian because we’ve got this type of bond from the blanket love of Christ. I think it’s a good answer.

But I also think it’s a bad answer.

Let me try to explain why. First off, there’s a big big difference in saying what the bible says, and meaning what the bible means. Let me explain why I dwell on this in the first place. If you move a few verses before verse 8, we read “…how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation.” I dwell on it because my salvation is what defines me. It’s my world, my universe, my life. Shouldn’t I search fervently with the entirety of my being to know everything I can possibly hope to learn about my savior and how he saved me? According to Hebrews I should. If I don’t pursue knowledge, however trivial the object in question may seem, I’m neglecting the greatness of my salvation. It would be like if I bought an iPhone 4G so I could hear the little apple *beep* when I get a text message. Sure it’s cool, but… there’s a little more it’s capable of. I mean, you can freaking Facetime with people and play Tiny Wings. C’mon people. think of Tiny Wings!

I feel like I got a little off track there.

Think about it this way: what do I mean when I say Jesus died for my sins? What exactly am I referring to when I say Jesus died for me? I’m referring to the biggest event of history for me. I’m talking about the most important thing in the universe to me. Christ died for my sins. The wrath of God was assuaged from me, and there is not longer any condemnation directed at me. The curse of the law is removed and I am free, liberated as a new creation in Christ. My faults are pardoned, I’m seen as blameless, and eternity in heaven awaits me, a perfected creation. I was lost now found, blind now able to see, dead now alive, cursed and now saved. It’s my life. It defines me. It’s my world.

What then, does it mean when someone who is finally lost and is burning in hell says, “Christ died for my sins?”. Is he not free from punishment? Aren’t his sins gone if Jesus died for him? Aren’t his  debts paid for by the blood of Christ? Then why is he paying for them? Why is he being constantly punished for eternity in the lake of fire?  If the curse of the law was removed from him, then what is this curse resting on him for all eternity? If Jesus died for him, why is he in hell?

I think most people would say, “people go to hell for not accepting Christ, not for for their sins”. The problem with that is the bible. People go to hell for their sins- one of those sins being the rejection of Christ. We know this because that’s what the bible teaches us:

Therefore, put to death whatever in you is worldy: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. – Colossians 3:5,6

We can’t say that the cross of Christ really did cover ever sin from the beginning of time until the end except rejecting Him. It’s simply not true. This brings us to the question, in what sense did Jesus die for the lost if they still suffer punishment?

What, you want a sunday school metaphor? You do, really??? Okay bucko, you got it!

Salvation is like a ticket. You have to have a ticket in order to get on the train- there’s not other way to get there. The ticket costs a lot but you have to accept it. God, by killing Jesus, bought you the ticket so that you can get on the train. You couldn’t afford the ticket yourself, and God extends the ticket out for you to take.

Good metaphor? You betcha it is.

Or is it?

What exactly does the purchase of the ticket represent? The buying of the ticket must represent the canceling of the sins of the unbeliever. Because if we were to be honest, that’s the only thing keeping you out of heaven- sin. If it wasn’t for sin you wouldn’t need Jesus (the ticket, for you slower people) to get you on the train. The problem is then this: we’ve seen that people are punished and go to hell for their sins, not for simply rejecting Christ. Therefore, their sins weren’t cancelled and the ticket wasn’t purchased, and the analogy fails. No ticket was there to choose because no ticket was purchased. The ticket that gets you to heaven is the wiping out of your sins.

Jesus’ death for the redeemed is therefore different than it is for the perishing. I don’t think Jesus died for everyone’s sins.

The good news about this blog is I plan on starting it with something weighty and confusing, and ending it with something weighty and confusing

What did Jesus accomplish with the resurrection? Is his resurrecting necessary for salvation?

With it being good friday and all, I figured I’d voice this little question I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks. I’m not trying to deny the resurrection, and I realize that Jesus himself claimed he would raise from the dead so it is of course necessary in the sense that if he hadn’t of raised he’d be a liar. Let me just throw that out there before someone get’s all high and mighty with the simple objection.

My wondering stems from this: we were justified at the very moment of Jesus’ death right? Jesus wasn’t perfect until he died. Hebrews says at the moment of death He was declared perfect. Even if He hadn’t sinned all his life, His life wasn’t over and he could therefore potentially sin. It could have been like watching an awesome movie with an absolutely stupid ending (War of the Worlds anyone? Really? Space traveling, genius aliens get thwarted by some bugs? C’mon Spielberg… ) No, Christ’s life was more like Inception. Three quarters of the way through and you are praying the ending is as awesome as it could potentially be, alas, it is!

Even if Christ hadn’t of raised from the dead, He would have been the perfect sacrifice right?

Besides fulfilling Christ’s words of being raised, conquering death, and making a great microcosm of a metaphor for the story of one’s salvation, was Christ raising really that important? Wasn’t his death the focal point of his life/the Christian faith/our entire lives?

These are my two questions that I’ve been pondering of late. I don’t think I have definite answers as to what I believe on them, but hopefully they’ll give you something to think about (if you made it all the way through).

Exeunt Kevin


Alternative Education Paradigms

I’m not educated on education.

I’m not a principal or a teacher and I haven’t set foot in a non collegiate classroom in 4 years. That being said, I have some ideas I’ve been thinking about in relation to education, and the paradigms we adhere to that govern our educational philosophies. However, before I begin, I suggest you go watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U to get a glimpse into the source of the bulk of my inspiration. Watched it? Good, let’s move on.

I don’t really want to go into the history that Sir Ken talks about because frankly, I’m not that rehearsed on it. What he says makes sense to me and I can see on a very simple level why our system of education was designed for a different time and this is potentially problematic. The first major point that I want to adress is the unreal amount of resources we have at our disposal that students in the enlightenment never had. The internet. Facebook. Globalized news. Wikipedia. Twitter. Each of these could have such a tremendous impact on the way we teach and the way we learn. I joke about learning more from wikipedia than I have from Texas A&M, but there’s an element of truth in it. The amount of information, the people around us, and the global news that we have access to is overwhelming. We don’t need to search through libraries for hours and hours looking for multiple books to get bits and pieces of information anymore. In 10 seconds you can have infinitely more data on any subject imaginable than any library that I ever had access to growing up. And you don’t even need to leave the room.

This ties into my next point, and what hits the closest to home with me. With all this stimulation and information being forced into the faces of children, is it any wonder why they’re distracted? Is it any wonder why we’re relying on medication to anesthetize them? From waking up until going to sleep (and sometimes during sleep) kids are subject to television, computers, phones, radio, and countless apps in the realm of these devices. This doesn’t even include human interaction, subject matters in school, and introspective thought processes. It seems ignorant to imagine that a kid would be able to handle all of these stimulants efficiently. In order to cope, and in a sense brainwash them, we deaden them to their senses and experiences with medication. To quote Sir Ken, “We don’t need to be putting our children to sleep, we need to be waking them up”.

I think we need to get back to a subjective approach to education. What drives a kid? What motivates him? What is she drawn towards? This hold special significance in the realm of aesthetics and personal subjection to art. There are infinitely different types of music, and while there are certain bands or artists that are generally liked across the board with adults (Beatle’s, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra), it isn’t uncommon to have people with differing tastes. In fact, it would be weird if everyone enjoyed the exact same music. Then why is it that every junior high and high school student listens to the same 10 songs looped on a top 40 station? Can we really believe that each kid is drawn towards those songs without any preconceived influences? Probably not. By the same token, I can learn all day in my music theory class about the mixolydian mode of an augmented C minor chord, but I can’t be told to like it. I can’t be told to have it appeal to me by more than a cognitive level. I can be forced to read Hamlet, but I can’t be forced to enjoy it. I can be shown the Mona Lisa and have the complexities of it’s intricate details explained to me but I can’t be tricked into appreciating it on an aesthetic level. Why do we take this approach to education?

Let’s get hypothetical, shall we? Yup

Imagine than everyone in the world had the exact same skill level at playing the piano. Everyone has the same capacity for writing, reading, and performing music. Imagine we’re all on equal footing for writing a piano driven piece of music, and every single person write’s a 20 measure melody. Would any of them sound the same? Of course not. Just like we all have different voices, we all have different musical voices that come out only in our composing. If everyone has a unique musical voice, why are we not pushing to have these voices heard? If everyone sees things differently and has their ideas come to life on canvas uniquely, why don’t we strive to see it more? If we teach our children to conform in the arts, we’re destining them for failure. No one can write a Kevonian piece of music better than Kevin can. It’s a basic fact and by definition can’t be done.

If this is true then why do have a cookie cutter approach to school? Why do we produce children in “batches” and regulate them with standardized tests and standardized curriculum. Wouldn’t it be better to stimulate ideas and thought from people in groups? Why do we have children organized by age and age alone? Aren’t things like similar thought processes, maturity, intelligence level, capacity to learn, and divergent thinking more important to the learning process than age alone?

Is the standardization of education really the best approach to helping children produces creative ideas, and flourish as independent thinkers?