Friday, September 04, 2020

Craig and Rasmussen on divine aseity and abstract objects

Some might be interested in the following discussion between William Lane Craig and Josh Rasmussen on divine aseity and abstract objects. I haven't watched it yet, and I doubt I'd entirely agree with either Craig or Rasmussen on the topics at hand, but I post it because it might be a thought-provoking discussion on subjects important in philosophical theology.

Asians coming to America to benefit from slavery?

Pastor Jim responds to another Asian-American pastor who made the highly tendentious claim:

What many Asian Americans fail to realize is that our success is largely built on the backs of African Americans themselves. After all, if African American slavery did not exist, the United States may not have been such a desirable country to immigrate to. It was through the enslavement of African Americans that American prosperity was built in the first place.

As an aside, it's interesting there has been an Asian presence in the US since at least the antebellum period. Mainly in California, but some arrived and settled in Hawaii in the early 1800s, though of course this was well before Hawaii became a US state. Many early Asian immigrants were contract workers on plantations and manual labor for railroads.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Michael Haykin

"A Biographical Sketch of Michael A.G. Haykin"

Jiang interviews Poythress

"Vern Poythress on the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, and Revelation with Chinese Subtitles"

"Former Psychopath Dr. David Wood Shares His Astounding Transformation Into Christian Apologist"

Just my own summary:

1. David Wood goes into some depth about his testimony or conversion with Eric Metaxas. It starts at approximately 32:30 with Wood meeting another inmate named Randy who was a Christian. Wood saw Randy always sitting in his bunk reading his Bible. Randy wouldn't do anything the other inmates were doing.

2. One day Wood told Randy he was only reading the Bible because Randy was born in the US. If Randy had been born in China, then he'd be Buddhist. If India, Hindu. If Saudi Arabia, Muslim. Wood also told Randy "people like you believe whatever you're told to believe". Wood had the same idea of Christianity that he had of objective morality - that it's just a false belief that people are told by others, which they accept, because they don't know how to think for themselves. I guess Wood's idea is that Randy is a sheep. Like everyone else. Except for Wood himself.

3. However, Randy was the first Christian to put up a fight against Wood and argue back against Wood. Randy challenged Wood. The most "annoying" thing for Wood was that Randy would constantly question everything Wood himself believed: "Where did you get your idea then?" And Wood couldn't respond to Randy. Other than with silence.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

"Is David Wood's mockery Christ-like?"

1. David Wood defends his satire of Muhammad and Islam (it looks like this was filmed before Wood's most recent "mockery" which involved the "desecration" of the Quran):

The above is an excerpt, but the complete video is here:

2. I left my own comments regarding Wood's latest "mockery" in Peter's previous post.


Paul Helm on J.I. Packer and the Westminster Confession of Faith. (There seem to be more than a few spelling and punctuation errors.)

Answering some questions on the theological foundations of modern science

"Answering Some Questions on the Theological Foundations of Modern Science" (James Anderson).

Chris Bolt's book is based on his doctoral dissertation "The World in His Hands: A Christian Account of Scientific Law and Its Antithetical Competitors" which is currently available to download for free via SBTS.

James Gibson

James Gibson, a Reformed Christian and former graduate student in philosophy, has a couple of interesting papers on his website.

Memento mori

Christina Shenvi recounts her husband Neil Shenvi's seizure, which led to the discovery of his brain tumor, which led to surgery, which led to timely reflection:

"Is daddy going to die?" My 10-year-old son looks up at me. Tears well up in his eyes. He looks anxiously back and forth from me to my husband. He's the spit and image of his dad, with dark brown hair, tan, quarter-Indian skin, and hazel eyes. We've just broken the news that the brain tumor, which has lain dormant for 8 years, is starting to grow again. The younger three kids look to their big brother and to us for their cues.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

A Tribute To John Burcombe

(This post will make some references to Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair's Enfield tapes. I'll use "MG" to refer to tapes from Grosse's collection, and "GP" will refer to those from Playfair's. So, MG63B is Grosse's tape 63B, and GP40A is tape 40A in Playfair's collection.)

When the Hodgson family first realized that something paranormal was occurring in their home, they headed for the Burcombes' house. It was only after they noticed the lights on at the Nottinghams' house next door that they decided to go there instead. Though none of the Burcombes were present at the Hodgsons' house on the opening night of the case, the first people the Hodgsons thought to go to for help were John Burcombe and his family. They would often be a source of refuge for the Hodgsons as the poltergeist developed.

John Burcombe was the brother of Peggy Hodgson, and he had a reputation similar to his sister's:

Monday, August 31, 2020

Respecting the Unrespectable

My previous post about David Wood eating a portion of the Quran brought up some good discussion in the comments, and I wanted to bring out some of the key points here since I know there are some people who don’t read comments, and because this will help focus comments made on this post.  Thus far, the main Biblical passage being used against Wood’s tactics has been 1 Peter 3:15, with the focus being on the word “respect.”  So let’s examine the verse.

The first thing that should be noted is that 1 Peter 3:15 isn’t even a complete sentence.  It’s a portion of a sentence that, in the ESV, begins in the middle of verse 14 and goes to the end of verse 16.  The immediate context of the passage is Peter’s argument that if we are to suffer we should suffer for doing good, not for doing evil.  In establishing that context, Peter first asks: “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” (1 Peter 3:13).  I have to take this as a rhetorical question since Peter knew Jesus suffered harm for being zealous for what is good, and he had suffered plenty at the hands of evil men.  That is why in the next verse he says, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed” (1 Peter 3:14a).  So Peter basically begins by showing that it is less likely for us to suffer if we are doing good than if we are doing evil, but if we do suffer for doing good then we are blessed.

It is in this context that he then says, “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:14b-16).  We will look at this sentence in more detail shortly below, but to confirm the context, immediately after this Peter writes: “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:17).

So the context of the passage is the same throughout.  The sentence we are interested in is sandwiched between two statements about being persecuted for doing good.  Thus, 1 Peter 3:15, far from being a text telling you how you should approach every apologetic encounter, is actually focused on what a Christian should do when he is being persecuted.  In addition to the context being related to persecution, the exact wording of the text is saying only that we should always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”  This verse is not prescribing the way that you introduce the Gospel to another person, nor is it telling you how you should behave in your day to day life. It is telling you how to behave when someone asks you for the reason why you have hope, in the context of persecution.  And that makes sense, since without persecution, most people wouldn’t be curious as to why you have hope.  Hope in the face of persecution, on the other hand, is powerful.

Does this mean that we cannot expand from the immediate context and apply this to other contexts?  No, but it does mean that if you wish to apply this to other contexts then the onus is on you to provide a reason why the verse would apply to other arenas that it does not talk about in its own context.  In other words, 1 Peter 3:15 only says that we are to answer questioners—questioners who, in context, are persecuting us—with “gentleness and respect”.  The verse itself does not say that we are to treat every single person we come into contact with gentleness and respect—that needs to be argued for, not assumed.

Since people tend to miss things on controversial topics, let me be clear. I am not saying that this verse doesn’t apply to other contexts—I’m saying that if you wish to show that it applies to other contexts, you need to supply a reasonable argument making that case.  Simply saying, “1 Peter 3:15!” isn’t an argument.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Dark Side of Political Philosophy, and How it Led to the Growth and Development of Today’s “Political Left” Movement

(Updated August 30, 2020): On the topic of why I think that the Roman Catholic Church is a problem with respect to the “wokism” situation we see today, it is not simply that I think things like “the Mass”, the priesthood, the saints, had anything (or much) to do with it. Roman Catholicism is NOT just its religious trappings. It is not just its history. It is not just “the evils that it has done in history”. It is also a thought system of its own. It has adopted “philosophies” over time. It is in fact a collection of these things. More, as well, it was a “cause” against certain “effects” reacted. Today we see some “effects” in the form of the so-called “academic subject” called “intersectionalism” that reacts against “White European Males”. There is so much more.

In this article, originally dated February 2019, I began to make the philosophical connection.

I’ve been asked many times, “why do you think it’s the intellectuals who convert to Roman Catholicism, while many of those who don’t approach the topic from a so-called intellectual viewpoint tend in large measure to convert the other way, from Roman Catholicism to evangelicalism?”

It seems to me that the “intellectuals” (or those who would think of themselves in that way) are more philosophically savvy, and they tend toward logical and ordered systems such as Aristotelianism (and derivatively, Thomism). That is a definite draw.

However, I think that is wrong-headed in several important ways. To take just one example, in his “Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction”, Edward Feser outlines Kant’s “naturalist” assumptions and decides simply to ignore all of Kant (and what followed). He says (and I’ve added paragraph breaks to enhance readability):