Posts tagged ‘beauty’

April 17th, 2012

Why Every Christian Must Practice Epistemic Humility

by Max Andrews

There are three primary categories for virtue the Christian/theist will affirm.  The first are the transcendental virtues: truth, beauty, and goodness. The second set is the theological virtues: faith, hope, and love/charity.  Then there are the four cardinal virtues: prudence, courage, patience, and justice.  It’s my belief that every Christian must practice epistemic humility.  What is that?  Well, epistemic humility, in the sense I’ll be using it, refers to an application of the four cardinal virtues in the area of epistemology (knowledge).  Each of these virtues have a respective vice.  For instance, the virtue of moderation would appear as a vice in addiction.

The virtue of epistemic prudence is know when and how to appropriate your knowledge to others.  Have you ever noticed that person in class or in church that seems to be the ‘know-it-all,’ whether they actually are or not?  Of course, it’s worse when they’re simply ignorant of what they’re talking about, but not only is this person annoying but there may be several issues rooted in the flaunting of knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with sharing you’re knowledge but, like I said, it’s how and when you share it.  

April 3rd, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Allison

by Max Andrews

Sometimes I think about how crazy it is that I believe in God. I mean really! Why do I believe in someone who claims to be an All-Powerful, Knowing, Loving, Creator of all, and Great in spite of all the unanswered questions in life and bad things that happen?  Why do I continue to cling so tightly to a particular way of life and faith that is most of the time so hard.  HAVING FAITH IN GOD IS HARD.  I have thought to myself,  “Man, it would probably be so much easier NOT to believe in God, not to hold on to these values that seem so difficult and impossible sometimes.  Plus, some people ‘without’ God seem to be doing alright”.

But that is a lie. And I honestly would never trade my faith in Jesus Christ for anything.  I don’t want to live one day without trust, hope and faith in Him.

My faith is my own.  It is very personal to me.  I believe some things others may not.  I believe things in the Bible not everyone does.  And I believe God is alive supernaturally in my heart, in my soul, and in life and creation itself.

God is not dead.  He is not non-existent.  He has miraculously and supernaturally made himself very real to ME in ways that I could never doubt His existence.

February 3rd, 2012

Real Men Like the Ballet

by Max Andrews

I was speaking with a good friend of mine earlier today and she told me about why her recent ex-boyfriend broke up with her (let’s call her Jane and him Richard).  Jane is in her last year as an undergraduate in theatre.  Richard couldn’t come to terms with an appreciation for theatre and the arts. According to him these things are only useful if used for explicit ministerial purposes.  This led to Richard breaking up with Jane.  This is such a sad state of affairs.  What makes this a curious situation is that I’m fairly confident this ideology is rampant in men.  I often hear that if a man is in theatre, the ballet, or the arts he must be gay or feminine. I’m going to argue on the contrary. It seems that being masculine or manly has become equivocated with being macho or a rough and tough man who likes football and hockey.  There’s nothing wrong with football and hockey, surely real men can like these too, but there’s more to being a masculine man than just that. Men who have an appreciation for theatre, ballet, opera, gymnastics, poetry, and the arts are men who encompass so much more about life.

Let’s primarily consider just a few of these examples.  Ballet is such a beautiful feat.  This is one of the most beautiful expressions of the beauty and ability of the human body. Imagine an adagio, slow graceful movements to slow music, while the woman is performing several movements and entrechats and she comes to rest in battement tendu (sliding her straightened out leg beside her).  While she comes to her last position imagine the man gracefully approaching her for their final coda.  He forms his body to hers for a perfect coupling. The grace, discipline, strength, and the form of dance is a spectacular demonstration of the body.  It’s a presentation of how the beauty of the body can be expressed–the intimacy of the coupling of body to body.

October 23rd, 2011

The Reality of Life if There is No God

by Max Andrews

If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair.  Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved.  All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vase death of the solar system.  Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe.  Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.[1]

If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide.[2]  Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory.  Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation.  One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness.  One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst.  If one can determine that despair, guilt, and angst are not preferred then his only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts (if the implication, by any means, can be determined to be better).  If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdism is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness:  suicide.

(As a note, I want to emphasize that I am not advocating suicide.  I completely disagree with the starting premise that there is no God.  I believe the logic is sound but since there is a God, there is objective purpose, value, and meaning to life.  If you are struggling with the thought of suicide please tell someone.)


            [1] Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (New York:  Barnes & Noble, 1917), 47-48.

            [2] Here is where Sartre, Camus, and others disagree.  Because of absurdity, man’s only option is to choose suicide.  Death is the only means by which it can be overcome.  In a Christian context, God recognizes that death is the only way to overcome man’s absurdity.  The means by which God provides teleology is by means of death.  God becomes incarnate and overcomes absurdity by means of his own death, which may be imputed to humanity.  Here we find a paradox.  In order for there to be a genuine sense of teleology and becoming there must be death.  There must be death to bring about life, a life of becoming, relationships, and of teleological existence.

September 7th, 2011

The Theological Attraction of the Multiverse

by Max Andrews

I find the multiverse to be quite beautiful.  The multiverse doesn’t negate any cosmological or teleological argument and I believe that it may actually be used to strengthen the fine-tuning argument (my current area of research).  Most objections I hear in regards to whether or not it exists are usually scientific with a few philosophical reasons.  I’d argue that there are some good scientific reasons* for believing that we live in a multiverse but I’d like to provide some philosophical and theological reasons for why the multiverse is attractive to and compatible with Christianity.  (For a refresher in the types of multiverse models see Max Tegmark’s paper on the Multiverse Hierarchy).

My first point of attraction to the multiverse is that it expresses the infinite creativity of God. Some argue (i.e. Salem) that there is an infinite ensemble of universes (or what we know as our own Hubble volume) within the CDL (Coleman and De Luccia) landscape.  Others have argued (i.e. Linde and Vilenkin) that the multiverse is not infinite but finite.  Andrei Linde suggests that from what we know about slow-roll inflation there must be a number close to 10^10^10^7 (that’s three exponents) universes.  I tend to agree with Linde and Vilenkin for obvious philosophical reasons and the impossibility of an actual infinite (however, it is nice to have supporting scientific data). So, even with a finite set of universes that may currently exist there is still a possibility of a potential infinite, that is, more universes that will naturally come into existence in the future.  I don’t believe this would contradict Genesis 1 with God resting on the seventh day because I don’t believe he is still creating today, the continual process of universes coming into existence is by natural means (just as planet formation, star formation, and the creation of human beings today is natural).  I believe we are still in the seventh day of creation.  While reading through the Bible, especially Job, we see that God enjoys and delights in the very act of creating.  His creation varies in sizes, purposes, shapes, and other physical descriptions (God loves the platypus!). What else could be such a reflection of God’s love for creating other than the multiverse?  Imagine the joy and aesthetic beauty in the creating process!

My second point is that despite is prima facie complexity, the concept of the multiverse is quite simple.  Ockham’s razor isn’t a very good objection to the multiverse because certain facets are required of an explanation in order for it to be a good explanation. In this case, simplicity doesn’t necessitate a smaller number of universes.  In his book, Information and the Nature of Reality: From Physics to Metaphysics, Paul Davies has argued in his essay “Universe from Bit” that the concept of infinity is actually quite simple and may be just as preferable to one.

My third point is that the concept of and the models of the multiverse are simple and elegant.  What I mean by this is that the mathematics behind the multiverse correspond to the empirical evidence and that it neatly explains the known facts.  Not only is it mathematically and scientifically simple and elegant but, as I’ve already argued, the philosophical aesthetic of the multiverse is quite beautiful as well.

Finally, I want to provide a compatibility argument.  This isn’t really meant to support my position but to demonstrate that there aren’t any crucial Christological problems with the multiverse (problems of explanation may arise but there aren’t any heretical issues at hand).  No matter which level of the multiverse we want to consider, God’s sovereignty and providential role in the course of history is not compromised.  Let’s consider the most extreme cases such as the level three and level four multiverse models (especially in light of the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics).  Let’s say that everything that can happen does happen on the physical level.  Presupposing God’s sovereignty and providential action in the course of any history such a physical interpretation doesn’t mean that all states of affairs are actualized.  What I mean by this is that we don’t have a multiverse where physics are running amok and God is reacting to the physics.  For God to have a reaction to physical states of affairs would place the states of affairs logically prior to God’s knowledge of such states of affairs occurring (let’s disregard the multilayered middle knowledge hermeneutic for the moment).  So, if the purpose of creation is for God to glorify himself and to redeem a particular people, that doesn’t mean it still cannot be accomplished because what’s going to happen is going to happen according to God’s desires and plans, even if there are other me’s out there (now I’ll address such Christological questions in another post, but for this post I’ll provide my position that there aren’t any problems with it).

The early Church Father Origen provided some interesting insight on this very issue (I find it interesting I’m using Origen here…).  Here are a few sections from De Principiis:

Bk. 2, Ch. 3.

4.  And now I do not understand by what proofs they can maintain their position, who assert that worlds sometimes come into existence which are not dissimilar to each other, but in all respects equal.  For if there is said to be a world similar in all respects (to the present), then it will come to pass that Adam and Eve will do the same things which they did before:  there will be a second time the same deluge, and the same Moses will again lead a nation numbering nearly six hundred thousand out of Egypt; Judas will also a second time betray the Lord; Paul will a second time keep the garments of those who stoned Stephen; and everything which has been done in this life will be said to be repeated,—a state of things which I think cannot be established by any reasoning, if souls are actuated by freedom of will, and maintain either their advance or retrogression according to the power of their will.  For souls are 273not driven on in a cycle which returns after many ages to the same round, so as either to do or desire this or that; but at whatever point the freedom of their own will aims, thither do they direct the course of their actions.  For what these persons say is much the same as if one were to assert that if a medimnus of grain were to be poured out on the ground, the fall of the grain would be on the second occasion identically the same as on the first, so that every individual grain would lie for the second time close beside that grain where it had been thrown before, and so the medimnus would be scattered in the same order, and with the same marks as formerly; which certainly is an impossible result with the countless grains of a medimnus, even if they were to be poured out without ceasing for many ages.  So therefore it seems to me impossible for a world to be restored for the second time, with the same order and with the same amount of births, and deaths, and actions; but that a diversity of worlds may exist with changes of no unimportant kind, so that the state of another world may be for some unmistakeable reasons better (than this), and for others worse, and for others again intermediate.  But what may be the number or measure of this I confess myself ignorant, although, if any one can tell it, I would gladly learn.

5.  But this world, which is itself called an age, is said to be the conclusion of many ages.  Now the holy apostle teaches that in that age which preceded this, Christ did not suffer, nor even in the age which preceded that again; and I know not that I am able to enumerate the number of anterior ages in which He did not suffer.  I will show, however, from what statements of Paul I have arrived at this understanding.  He says, “But now once in the consummation of ages, He was manifested to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”20822082    Heb. ix. 26.  For He says that He was once made a victim, and in the consummation of ages was manifested to take away sin.  Now that after this age, which is said to be formed for the consummation of other ages, there will be other ages again to follow, we have clearly learned from Paul himself, who says, “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us.”20832083    Eph. ii. 7.  He has not said, “in the age to come,” nor “in the two ages to come,” whence I infer that by his language many ages are indicated.  Now if there is something greater than ages, so that among created beings certain ages may be understood, but among other beings which exceed and surpass visible creatures, (ages still greater) (which perhaps will be the case at the restitution of all things, when the whole universe will come to a perfect termination), perhaps that period in which the consummation of all things will take place is to be understood as something more than an age.  But here the authority of holy Scripture moves me, which says, “For an age and more.”20842084    In sæculum et adhuc.  Now this word “more” undoubtedly means something greater than an age; and see if that expression of the Saviour, “I will that where I am, these also may be with Me; and as I and Thou are one, these also may be one in Us,”20852085    Cf. John xvii. 24, 21, 22. may not seem to convey something more than an age and ages, perhaps even more than ages of ages,—that period, viz., when all things are now no longer in an age, but when God is in all.

Bk.1, Ch.1, #7

Moreover, in confirmation and explanation of what we have already advanced regarding the mind or soul—to the effect that it is better than the whole bodily nature—the following remarks may be added.  There underlies every bodily sense a certain peculiar sensible substance,19481948    “Substantia quædam sensibilis propria.” on which the bodily sense exerts itself.  For example, colours, form, size, underlie vision; voices and sound, the sense of hearing; odours, good or bad, that of smell; savours, that of taste; heat or cold, hardness or softness, roughness or smoothness, that of touch.  Now, of those senses enumerated above, it is manifest to all that the sense of mind is much the best.  How, then, should it not appear absurd, that under 245those senses which are inferior, substances should have been placed on which to exert their powers, but that under this power, which is far better than any other, i.e., the sense of mind, nothing at all of the nature of a substance should be placed, but that a power of an intellectual nature should be an accident, or consequent upon bodies?  Those who assert this, doubtless do so to the disparagement of that better substance which is within them; nay, by so doing, they even do wrong to God Himself, when they imagine He may be understood by means of a bodily nature, so that according to their view He is a body, and that which may be understood or perceived by means of a body; and they are unwilling to have it understood that the mind bears a certain relationship to God, of whom the mind itself is an intellectual image, and that by means of this it may come to some knowledge of the nature of divinity, especially if it be purified and separated from bodily matter.

In conclusion, I find the multiverse to be scientifically warranted in light of certain measurements and empirical evidence. I also find the multiverse to be philosophically and theologically attractive and compatible with all Christian doctrines.  The multiverse may certainly raise metaphysical questions of personal identity, identity over spatiotemporal duration/transition, and Christology (if and only if other moral agents exist other than ourselves).  However, I don’t find the questions it raises to be incompatible or contradictory to the Christian faith.  The multiverse is a beautiful reflection of God’s love, power, intelligence, and character just as we find in the doctrine of natural revelation.

For more information on the Christian faith and the multiverse (concerning issues raised here) I would encourage you to read Don Page’s essay “Does God So Love the Multiverse?“.  Page is a notable physicist having worked under and with Stephen Hawking.

*Here are a few of my blog posts and scientific papers on the science behind the multiverse.