Sunday, October 26, 2008

In the reading by Julian of Norwich, I thought that the idea that she wanted "to be one of them and suffer with them" was very interesting. She wanted to be one of his friends who witnessed his pain and suffering so that she would feel she was more deeply connected to God. This idea is not one that many I have heard before, but I found it interesting that so often we hear in church about what God did for us, and should devote ourselves to him, but not how we should try to experience what he went through to allow us to see the world more clearly. She desired to be so close to death in order to better allow her to know what Jesus experienced and allow her to have a closer relationship. I thought that she was a good example of someone who had completely dedicated her self to the pursuance of God and heaven.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Morality vs. Reason as Argument for God

In our discussion on Monday, we debated the concept of morality as proof of the existence of God. Basically, I thought the overall argument was very weak, and someone pointed out that where did morality come from, did it just appear at some point in the evolutionary process? I thought about it, and I believe that instead of morality, our sense of reason might make a better argument for God.

First, our morals make us do things that are not at all evolutionarily beneficial. There is nothing beneficial to feeding the poor, or rescuing abused animals. I think that any argument we make for the existence of God must also fit in with our understanding of the evolution process. Reasoning makes more sense in this context, as it has allowed us to grow and adapt as a species. Second, many of us showed support for in our discussion, morality is not one single idea, it is not objective. Morality is a very subjective concept. We can see this in slavery. A thousand years it was widely practiced and generally viewed as acceptable. Nowadays it is virtually banned across the globe, and the majority of humans would agree it is wrong. This shows that morality is contextualized. In contrast, reason is a singular concept. While the conclusions we draw through reasoning can be different, the way it is practiced is not. Since that is a vague way to say it, I compare it to this. 2 painters will use the same brushes and same paint, and end with a very different piece, but the fact that they both "painted" is the idea I'm trying to explain.

My point of all this is, wouldn't it seem like a better argument to use reason instead of morality as evidence of God?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Free Will in a Physically Governed World

I wanted to bring this up when we were reading about the problems between Free Will and Divine Foreknowledge, as per the obvious subject matter, yet somewhere along the way I got distracted by various other things. And then we started discussing God and the Teleological argument, which led to the Intelligent Design scenario, and somewhere along the way everyone became encapsulated with the Physics of the universe and how they'd apply to God (or not apply). And again, I missed a chance. Here we are now discussing (or at least will be) how morals come about, or more specifically, an objective moral reality; The Moral Argument. Paul Copan digs deeply into the theist perspective (which I concluded to be, as was mentioned several times, very "easy" [read: unproblematic]), and compares (or contrasts, rather) that to the naturalistic perspective. Ah, naturalism. As Copan would put it, the "it just is" scenario. Conditions all just happened to be perfect, and presto: existence -> consciousness -> morality.

Well, so that's that. I don't want to talk about morality. I want to go back to Free Will, but I want to leave the Physics and leave the Naturalist approach to the discussion. Free Will - The idea that you can choose freely what you will or will not do (more or less, work with me). Physics - all those mathematical equations that work out to numbers that actually apply to the way material things work; a governing factor in the way things are, one might say. Naturalism - supports the idea that science is applicable to philosophy in a methodological way. This leads the way for evolution to find its place in the discussion of "why things work the way they do" when it comes to the actions we take.

And after all of that convoluted nonsense, I get to my point. In a universe that's either governed by the laws of God or the laws of physics (which would be responsible for evolution), where does Free Will find itself?

And in case I'm just as horribly bad at making a clear point as I'm sure I think I am, I have this to offer: a scene from the movie Waking Life (which I highly recommend seeing). I am referring to the monologue by David Sosa, Professor of Philosophy at UTexas at Austin (starts at the parenthesis, goes til the three asterisks). Dr. Sosa posits the idea of Free Will in a phyiscal world much more eloquently than I, however it is just that, merely posited. I am curious to hear your thoughts, or to merely stir them.


Education Reform

For some time now I have been troubled by the secondary (high school) and elementary public school systems here in America. I believe that because we live in this American society, which is made up of a melting pot of different cultures, and because of the unprecedented levels of people interacting globally, we here in America must raise the caliber of education in Primary and Secondary education.

Though there are quite a few areas I could point out that need “reworking” in the Public School System in order to give students the best possible education to prepare them for living and working in the 21st century, in this blog I will only investigate and raise questions about one area of the “ideal” curriculum: should religion/culture studies be added to the curriculum of Primary and Secondary education?

I believe that there should be additions to the curriculum of elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools that require students to take a certain amount of hours in Religion/Sociology/Philosophy to prepare them (as much as possible) for the effluvium of peoples, cultures, and ideas that they are likely to encounter in the interconnected world of the 21st century and to teach them how to think openly about said world.

From my research I have found that the majority of the Public Schools previously mentioned, do not offer or require these types of classes.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I recently had the opportunity to see the documentary "Religulous," hosted and for the most part produced by the comedian Bill Maher. Bill was born to a Jewish mother, but was brought up in the teachings a Christian faith. During this time, many doubts were brought into Bill's mind about the benefit/ cost aspect of Religions as well as the validity and the absudity of their teachings. My question has to deal with the first inquiry Bill has. Does relgion cause more good than bad? He cites in the movie that Religion has been the motivating factor in much violence over human history. He further postulates that for there to be peace in the future that the Word's population must evolve or progress past these structured beliefs. After watching this movie I was still on the fence. Does Religion cause more harm than good? and For there to be peace in the world do humans need to move past the archaic religious traditions of their ancestors?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I was so intrigued by our "Paradox of the Stone" debate that I mentioned it to my dad one night at dinner, and he made an interesting observation. His argument was that no, God cannot possibly make a stone he cannot lift because God controls gravity. In zero gravity, anything is liftable.

This makes sense, given that we agreed in class that God easily has power over biological and physical phenomena. Since gravity is nothing more than physics, it follows that God can manipulate gravity, thus making anything liftable without compromising the integrity of his omnipotence. While I admit this is not the most ground breaking revelation to the argument, it did provide a little extra illumination for me, so I thought I'd share it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How well would God do on Jeopardy?

This is a question I was pondering over the summer that goes along with what we are currently talking about in class. It seems if one is going to say that "God" (or how ever you wish to call this supreme being) is all knowing, all powerful, and at the same time wholly compassionate and forgiving, you have to give up the ideas of freewill and hell. The reason being is if you live a life that would be considered worthy of going to hell, God would have known this before you even existed, and there would be nothing you could do about this because your liefs course has already been laid out. One could try and argue that God is only wholly compassionate if you ask for forgiveness, but what does this solve if from before you had even existed God knew if you were going to do this or not.

In order to fit our best interests of free will and punishment would we not have to surrender the idea that God knows everything? You can still grant this being with the ability to know much of what will happen in the universe, but if God does not know exactly when you will ask for forgiveness, or even if that is what you will do, it then allows him to act on your actions. There is a problem with this line of thought as well, because it would have to be determined how much God could and could not know to be able to make just decisions about our lives. For example if he knew everything except weather or not you were going to use SPF 30 or 29 on Augusts 27, 2010 at 12:00, it seems he knows to much about what will happen in your life to grant you freewill. The solution to this problem would be to put God on Jeopardy and find out how much he knows... I'm kidding of course.

Another argument seems to be that if God is truly and completely compassionate and forgiving one would not have to ask for forgiveness, but I will let the responders to this blog post fight that one out.