Friday, October 30, 2009

David Hume

Those of you who do know this important figure in the area of philosophy probably know him as the man who attacked the claim to miracles.

The problem I found with his attack on miracles is that it doesn't fit with his own philosophy.

David Hume was the most extreme of the British empiricists. Empiricists view that all we can know is what is derived from sense impression. Basically this means we can't even know that physical objects exist, because all we know is the different qualities we see. Anything not based on a sense impression is meaningless.

Hume argued that even science was meaningless because it was based off of feelings. The argument is fairly complex and somewhat hard to summarize. Basically, we relate our sense impressions to one another in three different ways. There is no reason to do this (says Hume) apart from a very strong feeling. We relate impressions with regard to similarity, spatial nearness, and cause and effect. Hume then goes on to argue that, based on his theory of empiricism, that there is no way we can relate something as a cause and another thing as an effect. It isn't possible in his extreme empiricism. We have no way of knowing whether a burn will form on our finger from a lit match being touched to it. It may have happened every time before, but there is no guarantee it will happen again. (Seems pretty crazy, doesn't it?)

Now, we move on to his argument against miracles, which he says are not possible because in all of human experience over centuries, we have never seen a dead man come back to life.

Now go and read that last sentence again, and try to figure out the inconsistency.

Hume argues against miracles using a cause and effect relationship, something he claims is impossible to use. He is arguing against miracles using something he claims he doesn't even believe in. His argument doesn't work. If Hume were to remain consistent with his attack, he'd have to say there are no miracles because there are no natural laws, thus there was nothing to be broken.

Hume is an author the Christian really has to wrestle with, considering his philosophy is used by many to reject God.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Graduation Speech

These next few years will likely define how I live the rest of my life. I am standing on the brink of my future with my fellow graduates, and I realize that we need a clear view of God's purpose for these formative years in our lives. In order to live my life to the greatest benefit to myself and the others that surround me, I must strive to fulfill the purpose God has set before all who follow him.

This purpose is not some vague notion of following a will of God, and feeling out where he is leading us. God has not set a specific plan for my life that, if I deviate from , I am living a second rate life outside his specific will. Rather God has laid out a clearly defined goal in His Word. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, "What is the chief end of man?" The answer to that question is "To glorify God and enjoy him forever." If we strive to glorify God in what we eat, what we drink, what we do, how we make a living; if we strive to pursue complete and satisfying happiness only in God, we have fulfilled our purpose in life. Anything else is wasted, mediocre and unfulfilled.

My goal in these few moments is not to challenge only my fellow graduates, but to challenge all of us gathered here today not to waste our lives on good things. Things like keeping America conservative, battling abortion, helping the poor. If we are serious and committed to finding joy in God, all these other good results will follow. The most effective way to push Christian values in America is not through political action, but by showing the world the awesome love of God that demands us to fall down on our faces in worship. God created us to bring glory to Him. He created us to worship Him. We're forsaking our God-given purpose in life when we allow ourselves to be satisfied fighting for anything less than him.

People may question us, "How can God be loving if he acts as if he's trying to build his self-esteem?" We must answer with John Piper's methaphor, "would you take a man to the alps, then lock him in a room of mirrors?" If God is truly the most wonderful, the most awesome, the most magnificent being, it does not make sense that he would allow us to be satisfied by worldly pleasures. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, it is not that we are unsatisfied with God, it is that we are satisfied in too little. We are satisfied with our cars, our computers, our families when we are offered a life that is infinitely greater. Christ gave his all so we could rejoice and be satisfied in the only person who can truly bring joy.

We must educate the world in the truth that God wants us to be happy. Not happy in a worldly sense. People use this truth to justify sin, when proper application means avoiding sin at all costs. True, lasting, satisfying happiness can only be found in God. The Psalmists recognized this truth. In Psalm 16:11 "In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" and in Psalm 43:4 "I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy." Unfortunately, people will also use this truth to leave Christianity, saying that if God wanted them to be happy he wouldn't have allowed this disaster to strike. How utterly foolish! We must tell them that God allowed the disaster into their life to show them how they were satisfied in too little. They were satisfied in their financial security, then they lost their job. "Its all God's fault!" They cry, and they are right. He was showing them that money cannot be trusted. Their spouse dies, and they blame God. He was showing them they were satisfied in their mate and not in Him. Their children are lost in a tragic car accident and God pleads with them to see that they were too attached to their children, forsaking the God that gave them the gift of their children. I don't want God or myself to be seen as callous. Nobody will find a better comforter than the Holy Spirit, but sometimes in our humanity we forget our frailty and our utter dependence on His mercy for every breath we take.

This is my passion. This is my goal. This is the will of God. That I use my talents to tell the world the message that God offers them glory, and they prefer mud. God offers them joy and they prefer dirt. God offers them complete satisfaction in him, and after they ask him to save them from their sins, they become enamored with the world. What a tragedy. I pray God keeps me from such a fate. I pray God keeps you from such a fate. I pray God uses us to keep the world from such a fate.

Monday, April 6, 2009

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

(Romans 3:5-8)

Friday, March 20, 2009

One of the most precious sayings of America is that we believe "all men are created equal." I know the reverence we hold this saying in, but I think (As C. S. Lewis has kindly informed me) that it is a legal fiction, useful only for the courts.

When we think about it, do we really believe all men are created equal? Is everybody capable of being a star quarterback? Can everbody swim like Michael Phelps? Can we all dance? Sing? Are all of us just as good looking as the actors we watch on the big screen? No.

But then again, wouldn't life be very, very boring if we all were superbly good looking, amazingly athletic and had the brain of Einstein? Yes! I think God was wise enough to create a world in which everybody was different. Our personalities and skills make for an interesting world where we can meet people similar and different from us. Just imagine, if everybook had the same characters, same plot line, same setting, and same resolution, we'd be bored out of our minds! Same with people, since we are different, we don't get bored.

Aren't we all grateful to the wisdom of the One who created us different?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I was reading a great C. S. Lewis book the other day. The title of which is God in the Dock. This book is a collection of essays by "Jack" Lewis and is divided into three parts. I recently made it to the third part and am struck at the brilliancy of the essays.

The essay that really grabbed my attention was on "First and Second Things" and discussed the paradox that if you pursue something secondary for its own sake, you end up losing the secondary "thing" you were pursuing. He used the example of the literature and the arts. He said it wasn't until the Romantics that art and literature were pursued for their own sake. Before then, the great music of Mozart, the works of Shakespeare, and the art of Da Vinci were pursued for a patron, for God, or to entertain the common man.

But "it was only in the nineteenth century that we became aware of the full dignity of art. We began to 'take it seriously'....But the result seems to have beena dislocation of the aesthetic life in which little is left for us but high-minded works which fewer and fewer people want to read or hear or see, and 'popular' works of which bothe those who make them and those who enjoy them are half valuing too highly a real, but subordinate good, we have come near to losing that good itself." (God In The Dock, p.280)

This isn't just for the arts though, a man who makes his girlfriend his entire universe, what happens when he has nothing to do but contemplate her? He (not only) loses his human dignity but also loses the joy he has in her. A "significant other" is a good thing to have, but when it becomes the sole center of our lives, we come too near to losing that good thing.

You can't get secondary things by placing them first, you can only get them by putting first things first. But this raises the question, what are all these goods secondary to?

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Today, I was mock debating myself on the origin of the universe, and I came upon the question "how can time not have a beginning?"

The main point of this argument was to show time cannot progress if there is no beginning, but then I thought about the closest infinite parallel, numbers. We can progress from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on, so why can't we progress in time?

At this time my brain began to smart.

Then my question changed to, in our reality do we have anything actually infinite? For the sake of the argument, we'll say no. We don't have an infinite number of atoms, we just have a very large number of atoms. So if numbers (of things) in our physical reality aren't infinite, than can time (which is part of our reality) be infinite? You may say "but numbers are infinite, you can keep counting forever!" And I say that it is all hypothetical. Numbers to infinity are a concept, not a reality, in the same way a straight line or a perfect circle are concepts. In our reality they don't actually exist. So, in physical time-space reality, infinity doesn't exist, so there had to be a beginning, and then what started it all? Who was the first cause? At this time, we must look beyond this silly little argument and to religion...(hint: Christianity)