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Archive for July, 2011

Debates are a fickle thing.  In order for them to be helpful, which, unfortunately, many are not, there needs to be a few crucial ingredients.  (1) Both speakers need to really understand the position they are defending. (2) Both speakers need to be clear and competent presenters. (3) Both speakers need to really understand the opposing viewpoint. And (4) both speakers should avoid overindulging in rhetoric.  In other words, articulate truth and avoid ad hominem, as well as sensational argumentation.

Unfortunately, the debate between Dr. Fernandez and Mr. Comis wasn’t very good.  In fact, it was pretty bad.  Point (4) was about the only thing that shined, and even that wavered at times.

Honestly, the only reason I listened to this debate was because I saw it on James White’s blog… well, and it was either listen to this or cycle through my songs, yet again.  I do love the Beautiful Mind soundtrack, but when it’s hot, and it has been hot, a depressing score tends to push me over the edge.  Sweat and minor keys don’t mix well.  At least not for me.  So in an attempt to avoid suicidal thoughts, I thought I would give this debate a listen, which in turn led me to pause before ferocious dogs, wondering if I should go ahead and throw myself inside their fenced-in lairs. (more…)

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If there’s one thing I appreciate about the podcast Christ the Centerit would be their willingness to keep the cookies on the top shelf.  In other words, they aren’t afraid to toss around heavy theological concepts and technical words.  In fact, they act like it’s the most natural thing in the world, which is fun, if you’re into that kind of stuff.

Now granted, this excludes a fairly large portion of their potential listening audience, but hey, I love it, so who cares, right?  No seriously, podcasts like the White Horse Inn are great and serve a good purpose, but for those looking to chomp on a little more meat, Christ the Center provides the dish.

That being said, some of their programs are easier to follow than others.  And in the case of one of their more recent shows, “God without Parts: The Doctrine of Divine Simplicity,” the technical lingo factor shoots through the roof.  But you know what?  It’s a great show.  Some of the most fundamental issues of reality, indeed, the very bedrock of ontology, is discussed, and it’s discussed with considerable erudition.  I loved the short discussion of Plantinga at the end.  Interesting stuff.

So if you want to think through the absoluteness of God, an oft neglected subject, check out this program.  But be forewarned, it is a highly technical discussion.

Must Listen Factor: Moderate (or High if you’re an audio scavenger with a strong penchant for theology).

Difficulty: Advanced

Length: About an hour

To Download: Left click the picture

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Instead of walking the mail this week, which affords me the pleasure of listening to many an MP3, I’ve been delivering the mail from the ease of a postal truck, which of course means that I haven’t been gorging my ears with podcasts (Postal policy doesn’t allow us to drive while talking on a cell phone or listening to an MP3 player).  So it’s been a time of fighting my portable radio, as it doesn’t want to pick up any decent stations.  Therefore, I’ve been stuck mostly with my thoughts, seeing how I usually grow weary of the incessant static and angrily turn off the radio.  And when I’m stuck with my thoughts, strange things often bubble forth.

So here you go:  A week’s worth of mental meanderings, which, I might add, could probably be placed under the category paradoxes- paradoxes both serious and stupid.

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So I was thinking: What if you want to mail a large envelope, and when you place it on one of those handy-dandy postal scales, it reads: $1.32.  But what if it’s so close to $1.33 that when you toss on a few stamps, it adds just enough weight to push it over the edge, and so now it will be sent postage due: .01 cent?  Sweet mother!  A postal paradox!

When I posed this conundrum to a fellow carrier, he thought for a moment and then said, “I guess I’d just tear off a corner of the envelope.”  Ah, paradox solved!

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So I was thinking: Imagine two young, sophomoric Jedi pupils at Yoda’s school of Jedi Knight training.  What if one of them said to his training partner, while waving two fingers in the air, “I want you to Jedi mind trick me to Jedi mind trick you so that I keep Jedi mind tricking you to keep Jedi mind tricking me in this way”?

Two hours later, imagine Yoda walking in and slapping his head at the sight of these two weak-minded pupils locked in an infinite repetition.  “Very stupid, they are.”

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So I was thinking: What if people started coming to grips with the hopelessness and meaninglessness of life in a naturalistic and materialistic universe; and as a result, they started committing suicide at an alarming rate, thereby endangering the human species; and so evolution, which is all about adapting to problems, evolved rationality out of mankind so that humans wouldn’t be able to logically think through the implications of evolution, thereby lowering the suicide rate?

Wait a minute… has this already been going on?!?  Hmmmm.

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Speaking of Neo-Darwinian evolution… I can’t say I’m a fan.  Now in all honesty, I flunked my first year of biology (The Drizzt Do’Urden fantasy novels slid nicely behind a propped open biology book), so I’m not exactly the go to guy when it comes to the subject.  Nevertheless, I’ve listened to my fair share of committed evolutionists since the days of High School.  Some of what they’ve said has made me rub my chin, but on the whole, I’ve found the position, so far as macro-evolution is concerned, to be weak.  A lot of conjecture and tendentious argumentation.

A person could point to a thousand different things and ask, “So, uh, yeah, tell me again how this level of complexity evolved via natural selection?”  I’ve often wondered, for example, how a spider ended up spinning webs, given Neo-Darwinian evolution.  Just think about it.  The spider’s body had to evolve the ability to make webs- I mean the actual stuff that webs are made of.  This alone is a tremendous feat when you think about the size of the hole, the rate of formation, the “turn off” switch, the potential toxicity, balance of energy, etc.  But to complicate matters:

(1) The spider had to somehow recognize the web’s potential function.  “Oh, look, this gooey, yet surprisingly strong stuff spilling out my rear- which I can control!- will help me catch insects!”
(2) The web had to be such that the spider wouldn’t become entangled in his own net, while also being such that other insects would.
(3) The spider had to pass home ec class, specifically the sowing semester.
(4) The spider had to know not only how to weave a web, but how to properly connect it to trees or limbs, which is no small feat for a creature who can’t reason.
(5) The spider had to learn to persevere (for storms and animals would knock down the web, after all).
(6) The spider had to learn the tune “Good Vibrations,” which of course means that the spider had to learn to connect vibrating web with freshly caught insect, which means, of course, “hurry up and bite the sucker before he gets away.”

So anyway, I’ve always wondered how a Neo-Darwinian would explain the rise of the spider.

But this last week, I’ve been thinking more seriously (no doubt on a layman level, but nevertheless seriously) about the rise of emotions, given a Neo-Darwinian worldview.  I just can’t make sense of it.  But seeing how this post is getting a bit too long, I think I’ll share my thoughts in part II, which will hopefully be coming soon.

In the meantime, check out Alvin Plantinga’s fascinating lecture, “An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.”  You can hear it here: http://www.veritas.org/Media.aspx#!/v/454

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Apologetics 315 Interview with David Wood

Excellent interview exploring the subject of Islam.  Instead of looking at the historical evidence, which is rarely what Muslims care to explore, David Wood very helpfully shows how one can and should use the Koran itself as a foil to the Muslim’s most common objections against Christianity.  Good stuff.

http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2011/07/apologist-interview-david-wood.html

Epistemology – Andrew Fellows

In one of the most helpful and concise sketches of the history of epistemology I’ve run across, Andrew Fellows of L’Abri ministries shows how nearly everything after Plato and Aristotle, in the history of philosophy, is but footnotes.  Well worth the 90 minutes.

http://www.labri-ideas-library.org/download.asp?fileID=395

William Lane Craig vs AC Grayling Debate: The Problem of Evil and the Existence of God

What can I say?  I’m a sucker for debates.  If you’re interested in hearing William Lane Craig clearly and masterfully present Plantinga’s free will defense against the logical problem of evil, this is it.  Look no further.  Of course, I can’t say that I feel entirely sanguine with the approach.  Possible worlds and what not simply doesn’t impress me, even if it is logically sound.  See John Frame’s “Apologetics to the Glory of God” for further reflections.

http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2011/07/william-lane-craig-vs-ac-grayling.html

Two Podcasts on the Impact of Media and the Media’s Impact on Preaching

I just happened to listen to these back to back (or nearly, anyway).  Both were very interesting and thought provoking.  David Gordon asks the simple question, “Why can’t Johnny preach?”  The answer: Because he doesn’t know how to write or read.  Curious?  Check it out.

As for the other podcast, Dr. Mohler and Sven Birkerts discuss the impact of E-readers and the digital age and future of printed material, especially that of reading books.  There’s a hint of romanticism in this podcast, but hey, I love holding a book as well.  There is something different, isn’t there?

Sven Birkerts:  http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/05/31/temp-tip-title/
David Gordon: http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/04/04/tip-temporary-title-david-gordon/

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