December 7th, 2015
I had recently received a message from a young gentleman named Erik who sent me the following message:
As an undergrad in philosophy the question of God almost always came up during class. During those times I took a lot of pleasure in using the problem of evil to dismiss the idea of the Christian God.
That was when I was an Atheist. Months later I reconverted to Christianity, but for a while up until yesterday I never understood the problem of evil…which really does come down to the problem of pain. I never really could understand why God allowed for suffering, until yesterday.
I had been praying for the past couple of months for God to reveal Himself to me. I would pray for hours, tears running down my face because I never would get an answer. I was depressed, I had fallen into nihilism because I didn’t feel like anyone cared about me…
I got into a pretty bad car wreck the other day. I should’ve been killed based off of what the Officer said, but I had been able to swerve and avoid colliding head on with a telephone pole. I had fallen asleep, and woke up just in time for me to swerve out of the way. Only the rear of my car was destroyed, but if I hadn’t woken up in time I wouldn’t be here typing this.
When the car finally came to a stop I was able to crawl out and call for help. When I was in the hospital I began to receive calls and visits from friends, family, and complete strangers. Never before had I received such an outpouring of love…
It was then that I realized that God had used this instance of evil to bring about a greater good. Even though I screwed up, God was there.
Through this instance of evil God answered my two prayers. He revealed Himself to me through the miracle of surviving, and he answered my prayers on not feeling like anyone cared for me… through the amount of love I received. I’m telling you this mainly because of your book on suffering. I read about your own personal struggles and how they have brought about changes to your character. Through this instance God has changed mine in a way that I would’ve never thought possible.
So now I understand why there’s suffering in the world. I would’ve never understood it until I as an individual went through it. Now I know God cares for me and exists, now I know that I am loved and have friends and family. All through this instance of pain, and personally I would go through it again each and every time because what it has done for me. Once again, thank you for your book, because it did help bring about more understanding.
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October 31st, 2014
If you want to get under the skin of a philosopher there are a few ways to irk us. There’s more that just the annoyance of telling someone you’re a philosopher and they respond, “Oh, I took a psychology course in university!” Yes, that type of misunderstanding warrants the philosopher’s incredulous stare… just as these will:
10. “So, how will you make money? What do you do?”
Okay, so I’m not an engineer. I’m not a research chemist for a Fortune 500 corporation and I may not be able to work most blue collar tasks… However, I, and other philosophers, think (but there’s more!). For the philosopher, the act of philosophizing is not a mere intellectual exercise that could exist solely in consciousness. To the contrary, philosophy is a procedure and inquiry to the self, a “discovery and self-liberation.” The intellectual and cognitive acts of philosophy are participatory in their inquiry of the world. This would be very similar to the understanding that Socrates is the philosopher. He not only taught and philosophized, but he understood that the very act of philosophizing was an act of engagement with the world and it was a way of life.
9. The university administration putting philosophy in the periphery
Philosophy departments aren’t typically the big money-makers at university–typically. However, the university system needs to understand that the philosophy faculty, the philosophy students, and the discipline of philosophy in general is an investment rather than a moneymaker. I’ve seen firsthand that a university can divest in the philosophy department. Academia, the provost, the administrators, et al, need to view philosophy as the foundation by which a university is built and sustained.
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February 14th, 2014
So, my pal JT told me about this film The Sunset Limited, which is free on YouTube. The whole film takes place in the dank apartment of a subway janitor (Samuel L. Jackson) and a professor (Tommy Lee Jones). The professor is an atheist who tried to jump in front of a train but the janitor stopped him.
The prose begins in the apartment and the rhetoric is fantastic. The whole movie debates morality, the Bible, angels, God, the problem of evil, sin, etc. It’s a conversation and not an academic debate. They each have good points to make, which is why both Christians and atheists should watch it. For instance, the professor says, “Why not give up? God gives up. As far as I know there’s no ministry in hell.” Now, that objection has answers but rhetorically, wow, that’s hot! Also, the story about how the janitor became a believer (spoiler: beats a man badly) and the professor questions if disfiguring a man was worth his belief in God. It’s amazing.
The janitor isn’t the most educated person, scholastically speaking, but he’s very intelligent. Just watch out for his semi-Pelagian switching around in his rhetoric when they discuss original sin and the Bible.
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November 7th, 2013
The English poet John Milton did well when he said that “Truth will rise to the top through a free and open exchange in the marketplace of ideas.” I am so encouraged when I have and see a substantive dialogue with someone concerning an issue. This is certainly important in every day discussions, blogs, and teaching. I assist in managing and teaching an Intro. to Philosophy course at university and I always encourage my students to make us work hard to convince them of what we believe to be true. Do not simply sit there and take what I say and teach prima facie–challenge me, challenge the thoughts, challenge your thinking.
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September 8th, 2013
Atheist biologist PZ Myers recently shared his thoughts on how an atheist is to live the good life. He constructed his opinions as counterpoints to many Christian disciplines and virtues. In the end, the happy atheist is the one who is free from religion, whose ethics are framed around societal responsibilities. Sure, helping and loving one another is good but Myers lacks a purpose or end goal for the good life.
Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas are the leading thinkers when it comes to answering the question, “What is the good life?” Both Aristotle and Thomas agreed that the good life is fulfilling one’s purpose in life but Thomas was the one who grounded the good life in divine love and purpose.
One of the common misconceptions of Christianity is that the goal of human life is happiness. The chief end of man is to love and know God—fulfilling God’s purposes for each individual. Man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring humanity to it’s intended purpose and end.
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August 15th, 2013
A friend of mine recently sent me the link to Jeffrey Jay Lowder’s Patheos blog “The Secular Outpost.” I’ve seen the blog a couple times in the past but I’m not familiar with it. I must say, it’s very nice to see a kind review. It was constructive and he demonstrated interaction with my material. That’s so refreshing! I’ve read other reviews from blogs and Mr. Lowder’s stands much higher than, say, John Loftus’ review. Loftus recognized that I was intelligent and that I was a strong opponent in BS. It’s okay if you chuckled there. It’s not offensive when you read where he’s coming from. No hard feelings, it’s just that Mr. Lowder’s is much more substantive.
Anyways, I don’t have much to comment on concerning Lowder’s review. Not many people use abductive arguments and so he found the need to reformulate my arguments [in a manner that he saw worked best, which was nice]. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case but I’ll provide a link to my use and formulation of the arguments. The other thing is that I didn’t defend some premises with much backing from the get-go. That’s a time issue. I wish I could’ve provided more but for my opening I was limited.
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