Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spending Our Way To A Better Economy?

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.

Spending Our Way to a Better Economy?

We often hear about how the government is trying to spend its way out of a recession, but can that really be done? Can we really raise the deficit by trillions of dollars, and expect to lower it at the same time and in doing so, secure our economical growth and standing as a world power, knowing so many other countries hold our debt?

It is ascribed that the Obama Administration, from the departed Larry Summers, to Tax Avoiding Timothy Geithner, and all of their ilk, follow Keynesian Economic theory, but what exactly is that theory, without getting a brain cramp trying to figure it out? Because let’s face it, if you want double speak, all you have to do is listen to a politician defend his position on things, like being for health care reform, that doesn’t reform health care.

In looking to the web, I found this link, [1], which ascribes to be able to explain the theory, and how it is suppose to work. They say there are 6 points to it, and they break it down as such, (Italics are from the article, and the author or the article)

A Keynesian believes that aggregate demand is influenced by a host of economic decisions—both public and private—and sometimes behaves erratically.

According to Keynesian theory, changes in aggregate demand, whether anticipated or unanticipated, have their greatest short-run effect on real output and employment, not on prices.

Keynesians believe that prices, and especially wages, respond slowly to changes in supply and demand, resulting in periodic shortages and surpluses, especially of labor.

Keynesians do not think that the typical level of unemployment is ideal—partly because unemployment is subject to the caprice of aggregate demand, and partly because they believe that prices adjust only gradually.

Many, but not all, Keynesians advocate activist stabilization policy to reduce the amplitude of the business cycle, which they rank among the most important of all economic problems.

Finally, and even less unanimously, some Keynesians are more concerned about combating unemployment than about conquering inflation

So, even in following the above 6 items, you see that the policy that is being followed isn’t even agreed on by those who use it.

But the first line strikes me as being the most interesting, as the current Administration is trying to bury the business owners with the burden of taxes, regulations, and now forced health care, which is stopping them from hiring, expanding or doing what needs to be done IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR, in order to supply the jobs for the theory to work.

So, what do we do? Can we fight Washington D.C. and get them to listen to our voices, to do what needs to be done, what has worked in the past, and get the people back to work, which will supply tax dollars for the elected to abuse?

Well, we can exercise our right to vote. To elect representatives, both locally and nationally, who can work to fix the broken economy, the broken system of checks and balances, because let’s face it, more than the economy is broken, the whole system is broken.

Instead of having judges who are concerned with Constitutional law, we supply the bench with people who are aligned with the party in power, and followed a prescribed doctrine, instead of what was written by the founding fathers.

So, as a capitalist society, we are concerned with the all might dollar, instead of the Almighty God, and we have lost the focus needed to fix what is wrong. From the Economy, to the Unemployed, to Middle Class, to the Ruling Class, to the Classless, we have divided our Country, not along the lines of race, but along the lines of economic viability, the haves and have-nots, and in doing so; have allowed those who have lied to us the best, to set the course for our own destruction.

These are my thoughts, and how Mark C’s it.



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Defense of the Trinity part 3

UPDATE: For a full explanation (parts 1 - 3) click here.

I'll continue the defense of the Trinity by finishing the explanation of the third person of the Trinity, i.e., the Holy Spirit. In the last post, I gave scripture references to the Holy Spirit as God. In this post, I hope to communicate clearly that not only does the Holy Spirit possess deity, but that he also has a differentiated personality. I'll give three reasons why the Holy Spirit has a differentiated personality. 

Personal Pronouns

Scripture refers to the Holy Spirit with personal pronouns (John 14:26; 16:13). 

He Does Things Only Persons Can Do

Teach (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27)

Convict of sin (John 16:7-8)

Be grieved by sin (Ephesians 4:30). 

Intercedes (Romans 8:26). 

The Holy Spirit has intellect (1 Cor. 2:10, 11), will (1 Cor. 12:11), and feeling (Eph. 4:30). 

I will close with an excerpt from an article written by John Macarthur:

In describing the Trinity, the New Testament clearly distinguishes three Persons who are all simultaneously active. They are not merely modes or manifestations of the same person (as Oneness theology incorrectly asserts) who sometimes acts as Father, sometimes as Son, and sometimes as Spirit. At Christ’s baptism, all three Persons were simultaneously active (Matt. 3:16–17), with the Son being baptized, the Spirit descending, and the Father speaking from Heaven. Jesus Himself prayed to the Father (cf. Matt. 6:9), taught that His will was distinct from His Father’s (Matt. 26:39), promised that He would ask the Father to send the Spirit (John 14:16), and asked the Father to glorify Him (John 17:5). These actions would not make sense unless the Father and the Son were two distinct Persons. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit intercedes before the Father on behalf of believers (Rom. 8:26), as does the Son, who is our Advocate (1 John 2:1). Again, the distinctness of each Person is in view.

There is only one God. The members of the Godhead are co-existent, co-equal, one in essence and yet three in person. Remember the mathematical illustration of 1 x 1 x 1 = 3, and the love illustration to help you with understanding the doctrine of the Trinity. It is a monotheistic belief rooted in scripture; not a belief in three gods in one or a belief of one person manifesting himself in three ways. Norman Geisler puts the Trinity in words as, "while God is one and many at the same time, he is not one and many in the same sense. He is one in the sense of his essence, but many in the sense of his persons."

Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics

John Macarthur, "Our Triune God."

Related posts

Explaining the Trinity contains all of my posts on the Trinity

For further study:
R.C. Sproul, "Mystery of the Trinity."
William Lane Craig, "The Trinity and God's Omni-Attributes
William Lane Craig's "higher learning" article on the Trinity

Walter Martin Video What is the Trinity? 

Excellent article, "What is the doctrine of the Trinity?" by Matt Perman

The Trinity: One What and Three Whos by Ken Samples

R.C. Sproul: The Mystery of the Trinity Study Guide

Ligonier Ministries has free resources for study and I just found a great free resource that is related to the area of study here at 'Reformed Seth,' that is, the Trinity. R.C. has a series called, "The Mystery of the Trinity" which can be viewed for free here, and the free study guide can be found here. You can save the study guide to your computer so you can study it anytime you want, instead of going to Ligonier's website each time you want to study it. 
The video series has six lectures, the study guide goes right onlong with the lectures, so you can bring up the video lectures and use your study guide along with them to have a good study of the Trinity. Whether it answers questions, or brings up more questions, you'll definitely be thinking more openly about the Trinity. 

For more R.C. Sproul resources click here.

Walter Martin's short defense of the Trinity here.

John Macarthur on the Trinity here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Defense of the Trinity part 2

In yesterday's post I discussed the logic of non-contradiction and how the trinity does not violate that law. The trinity, to review, explains that God is one in his substance, the unity is in his essence (what God is) and the plurality is in his persons (how he relates within himself). Today, I'll give some illustrations of the trinity and a scriptural defense of it as well. 

Illustrations of the Trinity

The illustrations given will be my attempt to show the unity of God while showing a simultaneous plurality. Hopefully, the following analogies will shine light on some misunderstandings. First, there is a misconception that believing in the Trinity is believing in three gods; doesn't 1 + 1 + 1 = 3? It does if you add them, but what if you multiplied one three times? Will you not get one? God is triune, not triplex. So, we can see from this that there is no mathematical contradiction to the Trinity. 

Another illustration is the triangle, probably the most popular illustration of the Trinity. A triangle has three corners, inseparable, and simultaneous to one another. This explains the Trinity well in a simple way that is easy to remember. There is also a moral illustration suggested by Augustine. *The Bible informs us that "God is love" (1 John 4:16). Love involves a lover, a beloved, and a spirit of love between lover and loved. The Father might be likened to the lover, the Son to the beloved, and the Holy Spirit to the Spirit of love. This is a strong example because it is personal, in that it involves love, which comes from persons. 

There is also an illustration based in human nature; the relation of the human mind, to its ideas, and the expression of those ideas in words. So we have mind to ideas to words. There is a unity among the three without having an identity, in that sense, the three illustrate the Trinity.* So I hope the above illustrations give a better understanding of the Trinity. In my opinion, they are great examples to share with others for their simplicity and they are also very illustrative. 

Scriptural Defense

Ah, here comes the part the critics have been salivating at the mouth for me to get to: the evidence in scripture. Are you ready? I'm ready to get into it too because there is good evidence in the Bible for the Trinity. I'm quite sure most Christians understand God as Father, there really isn't much debate on that so I'll start with the deity of Christ, or the Son of God and then end with the Holy Spirit. 

The Son is God

Jesus claimed to be Yahweh God; YHWH translated in some versions Jehovah, was the special name for God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, the "I AM WHO I AM," scripture. Jesus declared "Before Abraham was, I am," in John 8:58. That declaration claims equality with God and existence before Abraham. Also, when you couple the verses Luke 4:8, "And Jesus answered him, "It is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve." and Hebrews 1:6, "And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him," you see that God is the only being to be worshiped, yet the Son is worshiped in Hebrews 1:6, along with Joshua 5:13-15; Mark 5:6; John 9:38; Luke 24:52; Rev. 7:9, 10; and Phil. 2:10,11. In those verses the Son is worshiped, yet God alone is to be worshiped, so we can see that the Son is God. 

Now, it's important to note that the Son and the Father are not two separate beings, for God is one being: "The Lord our God, the LORD is one" (Deaut. 6:4). Both Jesus (Mark 12:29) and the apostles repeat this formula in the NT (1 Cor. 8:4, 6). So, there is one being and that is God. 

The Holy Spirit is God

The Holy Spirit is called "God" (Acts 5:3-4). Walter Martin explains the verse well, "The literal force of the Greek verb translated "to lie" is to impose a lie upon someone. In this case the someone was not men (verse 4) nor even Peter, but God in the Person of the Holy Spirit. The parallel of verses 3 and 4 clearly indicates that the Holy Spirit is a person and is God."

*The Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of deity: omnipresence (Ps 139:7-12) and omniscience (1 Cor. 2:10, 11). He is associated with God the Father in creation (Gen. 1:2). He is involved with other members of the Godhead in the work of redemption (John 3:5-6; Rom 8:9-17, 27-27; Titus 3:5-7). He is associated with other members of the Trinity under the "name" of God (Matt 28:18-20). Finally, the Holy Spirit appears, along with the Father and Son, in New Testament benedictions (for example, 2 Cor. 13:14). 

Due to time constraints, I'll have to finish the rest of the Holy Spirit explanation in tomorrows post. I hope this survey of the Trinity has helped those of you out that are critical of the Trinity or skeptical about it because once understood, the doctrine of God is much tighter. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section. Please comment on this post or the other post, "Logic of the Trinity." I'm always available because my phone alerts me of comments. 


* Augustine, On the Trinity

* Walter Martin, King James Study Bible

* Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics

How Mark C's It...Personal Responsibility, Compromise, and Failure

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless…

Personal Responsibility:

Now here is a topic that can cause some problems, in our own lives, as this has been a big one in mine.

What exactly IS Personal Responsibility? Well, wouldn’t we just accept the premise that it is being responsible for one’s own person? That would make sense, but making sense isn’t what seems to be the big thing, or the right thing to do any more.

Why accept responsibility when we can blame other people? It makes us look good, and we feel better about it also. It isn’t MY fault that the economy sucks and I can’t get a job, right? It isn’t MY fault that I live in a small town with no real opportunities, or real growth, right? It isn’t MY fault…, but what if it is?

How many times have we found ourselves on the slippery slope of self pity? Saying that it isn’t our fault, when if we look back at the circumstances that brought us to our current location in life, maybe had we done something different, as we KNEW we should have, the result would have been different, and we might be in a better position?

But it is easier to blame others for our misery, instead of sucking it up and saying NO MORE.

My mother walked out on three different husbands, but it was never her fault. To her it never mattered that she married two of them to get out of circumstances that she put herself into by poor decisions. Her third husband put up with her because he was tired of being alone. He deserved better than that, as did she.

So along with personal responsibility, we have to look at compromise. What have we done in our lives to compromise our thoughts, beliefs, or values, that may have helped lead to our lack of responsibility?


Wow, now two topics, Compromise AND Personal Responsibility. And yes, it is easier to point to others and see their faults, but what about ours? How would life be if we were more concerned about dealing with our own lives, and our own faults instead of how celebrities have screwed up THEIR lives this week?

I do a lot of complaining myself about my location in life. But if I am honest with myself, I have to admit, that I am personally responsible for where I am. Had I treated my last employer back home with more respect, then the same respect they had shown me, I wouldn’t have been fired. They wouldn’t have told lies at my unemployment hearing, and I wouldn’t have been forced to move to where I have family and a place to go. (Their treatment of me included a vice president of the company cussing me out in my ear because I wouldn’t move from my home in Orange County to Los Angeles)


So, I failed in my responsibility by allowing myself to get sucked into a disrespectful work environment. I should have sucked it up, dealt with it, WHILE getting a better job.

My personal responsibility to my faith, I have failed BIGTIME there, and allow myself to be sucked into the pity party of feeling deserted by God. And I know in my heart of hearts that God is right there, is right HERE with me, even as I type this. I am not saying that I am contemptuous of God, but of myself. Allowing myself to go to the depths of despair when all I have to do is make the simple steps to right my faith, and trust in God again.

True, we all feel that, at times, God has failed us, and some just walk away. I cannot, my faith, or lack thereof, has been a part of my life since early childhood. I joke that I was raised Southern Baptist, but God forgave me. Baptized at 12, went to a Christian College, where again, I took a stand that got me kicked out. Personal Responsibility to me should have been completing my education, not taking a stand that if God says I can lift my hands in prayer, Azusa Pacific’s Tim Purga couldn’t tell me I couldn’t. Pride took me down a road that got me kicked out for taking a ‘righteous’ stand.

So, here I sit, at a crossroads in my life again, looking for work, not wanting to be in my current location, and just complaining, instead of taking the time, of which I have more than an abundance of, and listing to the, sometimes, small still voice of God, as to what direction HE wants me to take, instead of flailing like a drowning man in two feet of water, who doesn’t realize, all he has to do is stand up.

So, where does this leave me? Some may see this as a pity party, but I am using my own life as an example, or a warning, but it is also a kick in the butt to get things going in the right way, and manner, that I know I am called to do, and in a direction that is far better then what I have been doing.

I encourage any and all who may read this to do the same. Challenge yourselves to let go of the pity, accept the responsibility, and go forward. For, I have found in the past, when we accept our own responsibilities in life, we lift our heads a little higher, stand a little straighter, and can do more, with less, then we had thought we were capable of.

These are my thoughts, and how Mark C’s it.

William Lane Craig offers personal experience and hardships with failure; click here.

Bruce Little speaks on the topic: God, Evil and Suffering. Check it out here.

More resources here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Logic of the Trinity

Hi all. I'm starting a weekly blog post called "Theology Wednesday," I'll do my best to keep it posted on every Wednesday, but I know I can at least keep it weekly (the days might change). Also, before I get into this post, I apologize for not starting the morality posts; I really wanted to start the series of posts, but with college and work going on, time can slip away quite easily. Theology Wednesday will most usually have a long post by me, however, there might be some days when I will have resource links you can check out. 

This weekly post will start with the Trinity. The trinity is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith. Mystery, unlike antinomy and paradox, does not mean contradiction, rather it means beyond reason, but not against reason. It is known only by revelation. The word trinity does not appear in the Bible, however, the concept is taught in the Bible. What is the concept? Simple:

1. There is one God
2. There are three distinct persons who are God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

I'm quite certain that Christian and Jew alike agree that there is one God, no problem, yet there is some disagreement on the second part of the trinity concept: three persons who are God. This is quite controversial. On the surface, one might think it's even contradictory. Before I dive into scriptural proof for the trinity, I want to focus on the logic of the trinity; a philosophical defense of the trinity you could call it.

The Logic of the Trinity

There are principles of knowledge, one of which is the law of non-contradiction and it is the fundamental law of all rational thought. The law of non-contradiction informs us that something cannot be true and false at the same time and in the same sense. The doctrine of the trinity does not violate this law. To show this, I will state what the trinity is not. Taken from the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics:

"The Trinity is not the belief that God is three persons and only one person at the same time and in the same sense. That would be a contradiction. Rather, it is the belief that there are three persons in one nature...Further, the Trinity is not the belief that there are three natures in one nature or three essences in one essence. That would be a contradiction. Rather, Christians affirm that there are three persons in one essence. This is not contradictory because it makes a distinction between person and essence. Or, to put it in terms of the law of non-contradiction, while God is one and many at the same time, he is not one and many in the same sense. He is one in the sense of his essence, but many in the sense of his persons. So there is no violation of the law of non-contradiction in the doctrine of the Trinity."

So, one could say that God has one "What" and three "Whos." The three persons (Whos) share the same essence (What). Norman Geisler stated, "So God is a unity of essence with a plurality of persons. Each person is different, yet they share a common nature." God is one in his substance. The unity is in his essence, while the plurality is in God's persons, or how he relates within himself. Descriptions of this relationship are within the Bible, showing how the Son and the Father relate, and how the Father sends the Spirit as a Messenger, and the Spirit is a Witness to the Son (John 14:26). Reading descriptions like that help us to understand the functions within the unity of the Godhead. "Each is fully God, and each has his own work and interrelational theme with the other two. But it is vital to remember that the three share the same essence, so that they unify as one Being," (Geisler). 

I hope this helps to see the logic and model of the Trinity. Think of this post as one to wet your appetite for more study (there will be more). If I have time, I'll probably continue this in tomorrow's post with some illustrations and scriptural defense. It's important to know that the Trinity is not at all a contradiction, so that's why I laid the foundation as I did. 


Norman Geisler, "Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics."


Monday, September 20, 2010

The iPad: A Review

It's actually a new device made by Apple (all the Apple fanboys start singing) and I have to admit that I, well, I like it. I tested one out recently and my expectations were reched. It's very cool, not revolutionary, but very cool in its execution and style. I'll lay it out for you.

Why do I like it?

Honestly, I didn't like the idea of it at first because I didn't understand Apple's target. I thought Apple was trying to attack the laptop industry, to a degree they still are, at the business level and try to replace laptops. Boy, I was wrong. I started researching and found out that Apple is finding the "in-between" device for consumers and some business users.

Seth, what do you mean by "in-between" device? I mean between laptop and smartphone. Now, if you want to go on a trip, you take your laptop along with your smartphone (if you have one). Yes, you can surf the web on your smartphone, but you can't get the full experience of the website, so you lug your laptop with you too. Taking your laptop is much better than your desktop, but hey, it can get in the way. Your answer is the iPad.

1. The size.

This baby is about the size of a tablet (hence, Pad is in the name) and weighs just a little bit more than a tablet. Very convenient.

2. OS

You know how when you want to check out a website really quick to make an annoying comment and you got to wait for your computer to load? Wouldn't it be cool if you had a device that was just as quick as your smartphone? Well, the iPad is here for you my friend. No load times at startup...very cool! It turns on very quick, like a phone, maybe even faster. It uses the iPhone's mobile operating system.

3. Sleek

Great design. Flashy. Some would say sexy, but I don't like using language like that for devices, it's just weird.

4. Great for content consumition users.

If you don't do a lot of "creating" on the web, the iPad could replace your desktop computer. If you don't post things (like blogging), create/maintain websites, or any other thing like that, and you just read well the iPad is for you my friend.

5. Speakers are great.

I listened to some music on the iPad and it sounded just as good as the speakers on my desktop. I have no complaints with the speakers.

What I Don't Like

1. No USB ports.

If I want to use some USB ports, then I have to attach a dongle, which eliminates the convenience of being a better portable device than the laptop. Apple, that was kind of stupid. Sorry, it's true. Why didn't you put some USB ports on this baby?

2. Flash?

No flash on this iPad? Ah, leaving some room open for Android to do that? Apple, why?

3. Virtual Keyboard

Of course, this is not a fair dislike, but I have to post it because it bothered me. I don't care for virtual keying so it will keep from wanting to buy one. However, like I said, you won't be making long posts with this device anyway, so it's not a strong argument, but for me it's a big deal.

Those are my only complaints because this is a device for the web surfing user that likes to do just that: lurk around on the web. You know, check out status updates on social networking sites, read some yahoo! articles, or read some posts on Reformed Seth; a content consumer, not doing anything flashy and this is the typical computer user. So, once there is an excellent Android release (Dell Streak? Please) then we can see the price war begin and I'll probably go with an Android device. I'm not saying the iPad isn't good, it's a great product, but I'm holding out for the competitor. I would like to have some USB ports on my tablet (for extra storage), and for flash.

What do I give the iPad? A 8/10. It's a good device. Go borrow your friend's iPad now and see what I'm talking about.
Some iPad videos here.

Is Life Absurd Without God?

This is a question for Dr. William Lane Craig at the website Reasonable Faith. I think he answers quite well (as always). Check out his website for more resources, Q & A, discussion forum, and more.


Dr. Craig,

Though I respect you as one of today's most rational Christian thinkers, I passionately disagree with your assertion that life without God is absurd. The arguments you proffer to support this are quite superficial, and it is unfortunate that intelligent philosophers like yourself have fallen prey to accepting these monstrosities. In your work on the subject, you seem to put forth two basic contentions, (1) that life without God is devoid of ultimate meaning, purpose, and value and (2) that theism can provide ultimate meaning, purpose, and value. Now I think that the issue of human value can be considered separately from the other two (none of which you bother defining first); but regarding the meaning and purpose of life, I believe that Thomas Nagel has eloquently refuted (1) and (2) in his paper "The Absurd."

In defense of (1), you appear to argue that life on atheism is absurd because God and immortality conditions you declare are necessary for an objectively meaningful life are absent on such a view. You give some informal quasi-arguments for this grand claim, namely by contending that (a) life is absurd on atheism because of the man's inability to evade the heat death of the universe, (b) his insignificance in the cosmos, and (c) his ultimate death. Regarding (a), you ask, "Suppose the universe had never existed. What ultimate difference would that make? The universe is doomed to die anyway." Nagel poignantly replies in his paper as follows:

"It is often remarked that nothing we do now will matter in a million years. But if that is true, then by the same token, nothing that will be the case in a million years matters now. In particular, it does not matter now that in a million years nothing we do now will matter. Moreoever, even if what we did now were going to matter in a million years, how could that keep out present concerns from being absurd? If their mattering now is not enough to accomplish that, how would it help if they mattered a million years from now?

Whether what we do now will matter in a million years could make the crucial difference only if its mattering in a million years depended on its mattering, period. But then to deny that whatever happens now will matter in a million in a million years is to beg the question against its mattering, period; for in that sense one cannot know that it will not matter in a million years whether (for example) someone now is happy or miserable, without knowing that it does not matter, period."

It is also worth noting that your entire argument is a non sequitur, for even if one concedes that our actions will lose their meaning, it is undeniable that they will always have had meaning in the past; facts about the past like these cannot be obliterated with the passage of time. Moreover, one could go even further and adopt the mainstream B-theory of time, in which the past is as real as the present, meaning that human actions will always have meaning!

On (b), you suggest man's spatial and temporal insignificance with the universe, which is far larger and older than humanity, stating that "[m]ankind is thus no more significant than a swarm of mosquitos or a barnyard of pigs." Again, Nagel argues that such egocentric notions are false:

"What we say to convey the absurdity of our lives often has to do with space or time: we are tiny specks in the infinite vastness of the universe; our lives are mere instants even on a geological time scale, let alone a cosmic one; we will all be dead any minute. But of course none of these evident facts can be what makes life absurd, if it is absurd. For suppose we lived forever; would not a life that is absurd if it lasts seventy years be infinitely absurd if it lasted through eternity? And if our lives are absurd given our present size, why would they be any less absurd if we filled the universe?"

Finally, concerning (c), you allege that atheism teaches that: "You are the accidental byproduct of nature, a result of matter plus time plus chance. There is no reason for your existence. All you face is death." Nagel responds admirably:

"Another inadequate argument is that because we are going to die, all chains of justification [of meaning] must leave off in mid-air ... All of it is an elaborate journey leading nowhere...

There are several replies to this argument. First, life does not consist of a sequence of activities each of which has as its purpose some later member of the sequence ... No further justification is needed to make it reasonable to take aspirin for a headache, attend an exhibit of the work a painter one admires, or stop a child from putting his hand on a hot stove ...

Even if someone wishes to supply a further justification for [things], that justification would have to end somewhere too. If nothing can justify unless it is justified in terms of something outside itself, which is also justified, then an infinite regress results, and no chain of justification can be complete. Moreover, if a finite chain of reasons cannot justify anything, what could be accomplished by an infinite chain, each link of which must by justified by something outside itself? [Note: you ought to believe that such a regress is impossible, given your stance on actual infinites in the context of the Kalam Cosmological Argument.]

Since justifications must come to an end somewhere, nothing is gained by denying that they end where they appear to, within life or by trying to subsume the multiple, often trivial ordinary justifications of action under a single, controlling life scheme. We can be satisfied more easily than that. In fact, through its misrepresentation of the process of justification, the argument makes a vacuous demand. It insists that the reasons available within life are incomplete, but suggests thereby that all reasons that come to an end are incomplete. This makes it impossible to supply any reasons at all."

For these reasons raised in Nagel's paper, then, I cannot bring myself to rationally accept your arguments for the supposed absurdity of life sans God.

Now, concerning (2), Nagel offers a brilliant argument against a theistic foundation for the meaning of life. First, he defines absurdity as the conspicuous discrepancy between pretension or aspiration and reality (e.g., as you are being knighted, your pants fall down). According to Nagel, the absurdity of life arises from the clash "between the seriousness with which we take our lives and the perpetual possibility of regarding everything about which we are serious as arbitrary, or open to doubt." To understand this, it first helps to distinguish between the engaged and detached perspectives of life. In the engaged perspective, we assume that life is meaningful as we strive to survive, reproduce, and enjoy ourselves. However, according to Nagel, one can always step back "out of life" and examine it from the third person viewpoint, entering the detached perspective. From there, he can then ask, "Why is this meaningful?", and if he receives an answer to that, he can continually step back, enter the detached perspective, and repeat the process infinitely.

Now, suppose that theism is true and God created man to glorify him and enjoy him forever. While this first might sound meaningful from the engaged perspective, one can always step back into the detached perspective and ask, "Why is glorifying and enjoying God meaningful? Is this really it?" In other words, (2) is incoherent; the desire for an ultimate meaning to life might be just as irrational as the desire for married bachelors. Moreover, following the orders of God does not seem like a very fulfilling or satisfying meaning to life. If instead God was simply bored and decided to create humans to watch them mercilessly slaughter one another for his pleasure, I would do everything I could to promote peace and love to actively stop this evil being's capricious demands. That would be my meaning of life in such a world. [Note: you cannot appeal to God's omnibenevolence to dismiss this issue, since you say in your article on the Canaanites that God does not have moral duties since he cannot command himself.] Nagel further adds:

"But a role in some larger enterprise cannot confer significance unless that enterprise is itself significant ... If we learned that we were being raised to provide food for other creatures fond of human flesh [then] even if we learned that the human race had been developed by animal breeders precisely for this purpose, that would still not give our lives meaning, for two reasons. First, we would still be in the dark as to the significance of the lives of those other beings; second, although we might acknowledge that this culinary role would make our lives meaningful to them, it is not clear how it would make them meaningful to us."

But finally, even if you think these unanswerable problems can be resolved, I think its a bit disingenuous to argue in this fashion, for even if you're right that life really is absurd without God, that does not imply in the slightest that God exists. One cannot simply change reality by wishing something to be the case; propositions must be supported by epistemic arguments, not pragmatic ones.

So, ultimately, do you think Nagel's response succeeds? Or it is absurd(!)? And in either case, why?



Dr. Craig responds:

Thank you for your comments, Bennington! These are questions to be passionate about, for they touch us at the core of our being. I felt deeply the absurdity of life and its attendant despair during my non-Christian years. When I later encountered the French existentialists, their message struck a chord in me. It does seem to me that if atheism is true, then life is, in the final analysis, absurd.

I’ve tried to analyze the absurdity of life in terms of life’s lacking ultimate meaning, value, and purpose. The word “ultimate” is important here, for obviously we can have subsidiary purposes and conditional values without God, but my claim is that ultimately nothing really matters if there is no God. It seems to me that there are two pre-requisites to an ultimately meaningful, valuable, and purposeful life, namely, God and immortality, and if God does not exist, then we have neither.

By “meaning” I mean something like significance or importance. By “purpose” I mean a telos or goal of life. By “value” I mean objective moral values and duties. We mustn’t separate off the question of value from meaning and purpose, as you try to do in your question, for if there are objective moral values and duties, then life is likely to be meaningful. So the atheist can’t say that life can be ultimately meaningful in the absence of God because there are truly valuable things in life, since if I’m right, there aren’t any objective moral values in the absence of God. These three elements, while distinct, are interrelated and hang together.

Now in your question you tend to run my arguments together and omit others. With respect to (a) what I claim is that without personal immortality our lives ultimately have no meaning or purpose. (I also argue that the same would be the case without God, even given immortality.) I find Nagel’s response to this point to be confused. He seems to be using the phrase “does not matter” equivocally, to mean either “is ultimately insignificant” or “makes no difference.” When we clarify the meanings, then his argument makes no sense: “If what we do now is ultimately insignificant because it will make no difference in a million years, then what happens in a million years is also ultimately insignificant because it makes no difference to what we do now.” That doesn’t make sense because the arrow of time is from past to future. To see if what happens in a million years makes any difference, you don’t look to its impact on today but to its impact on the future, and there isn’t any in the end. So, of course, in the absence of backward causation, it makes no difference now what will happen in a million years. The point is that what happens now or in a million years makes no ultimate difference on the outcome of the universe.

So in a sense Nagel is right that what happens a million years from now is ultimately meaningless and so never matters and so doesn’t matter now. But the point remains that without immortality nothing we do makes any ultimate difference. Maybe Nagel’s claim is that it doesn’t matter that nothing matters; but that doesn’t deny my point that it doesn’t matter, that there is no ultimate meaning. I agree with him that immortality alone is not sufficient for ultimate meaning: mere prolongation of existence isn’t enough. But it is a necessary condition.

As for your point that past facts always remain past facts, that does not invest those facts with any ultimate importance in the grand scheme of things. It will always be the case that the Third Reich went down to defeat in World War II, but so what? Everything is doomed to end up in the same lifeless, featureless condition of the cold heat death of the universe. It is ultimately insignificant who won the Second World War (don’t say that it mattered because good triumphed over evil, for then you’re assuming the reality of objective moral values without God).

As for (b), my point in the passage you quote was rather that in the absence of God we were not created with a purpose in mind; we are the blind byproduct of the evolutionary process. That seems to me undeniable on atheism. I do also make the point that we are insignificant specks and so it is hard to see why our lives have any ultimate importance (again, you can’t say that our moral worth overcomes our insignificance). Here Nagel misses my point entirely. He asserts that if we were extended throughout all space and time, that would not invest our lives with ultimate significance. But I agree with that! He’s confusing necessary with sufficient conditions. Immortality is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for ultimate meaning; we also need God, as I have argued.

As for (c), this is again the point that in the absence of God we are blind products of the evolutionary process and therefore have not been created with any purpose in view. But I do also make the point that in the absence of immortality there is no ultimate purpose for our lives, since whatever we do, we end up the same: utter extinction. I don’t see the relevance of Nagel’s first point. How does my claim require that everything we do is done purposefully? That doesn’t show that on atheism life has an ultimate purpose. Nor am I advocating an infinite chain of justifying purposes. Rather the chain ends in God. We were made to know God, and our ultimate fulfillment is found in being properly related to Him, the source of infinite goodness and love. I obviously don’t hold that “all reasons that come to an end are incomplete.” Rather the key question for us here is whether there is an adequate end for bringing the chain to completion. On atheism there is no such end. There is no reason for which we exist.

So Bennington, it seems to me that these aren’t very good responses. They confuse necessary and sufficient conditions and don’t even take account of my arguments that God, as well as immortality, is a necessary condition for ultimate meaning, value, and purpose.

Turn now to point (2), that on biblical theism life does have ultimate meaning, value, and purpose. Look at theism from a detached perspective. Does it supply conditions sufficient for ultimate meaning, value, and purpose? Well, it certainly seems to, and a good many atheists ruefully admit that it does. It invests our lives with eternal significance: by our free choices we determine our eternal destiny. Moreover, we come into personal relation with the supreme good, God Himself. Moreover, God supplies the basis for objective moral values and duties, as I’ve argued elsewhere. Finally, God created us for the purpose of knowing Him and His love forever. So from the most detached, philosophical perspective you can take, biblical theism supplies the conditions for a meaningful and valuable life. If you ask, “Is this really it?” the answer is “Yes, it can’t get any better than this!”

Now if you say that there cannot be a self-justifying end, then it is you who are assuming that the chain of justifications must be infinite and cannot be complete—a position you earlier rightly rejected. The point is that with God we have reached an end that is truly worthy and capable of being an intrinsically good and meaningful stopping point.

Now if you think the theistic answer is incoherent, like desiring a married bachelor, then you need to show some logical incompatibility in what I’ve said, which, so far as I can tell, you haven’t tried to do.

Now you say, “Moreover, following the orders of God does not seem like a very fulfilling or satisfying meaning to life.” Ah, ah, Bennington, you’ve left the detached perspective and lapsed back into the engaged perspective. From the detached perspective the theistic answer is entirely adequate, whether or not you find it satisfying or fulfilling yourself.

Besides, your engaged judgement is spoken as a true non-Christian. As someone whose life has been transformed by the love of God, I by contrast find from the engaged perspective nothing more fulfilling than knowing Him. Obedience to His commands comes, not grudgingly, but gratefully and eagerly from a willing heart.

Your hypothesis about God’s character is impossible, so it is pointless. Remember that on my view, although God does not act from duty He nonetheless acts in accordance with duty because of His essentially kind and just character. Therefore, His commands are not capricious but necessary reflections of His nature. When you say that the meaning of your life would be to oppose a capricious God, you have lapsed into thinking of meaning not objectively but subjectively. I’ve never denied we can invent subjective meanings for our lives (like hitting 60 home runs in a season). What I claim is that on atheism our lives would have no objective meaning.

Finally, as to Nagel’s point about humans’ being raised for food, that only reinforces my point that the end for which we exist must be adequate for the purpose. That is why I argue that God is necessary, as well as immortality. As the highest good, the greatest conceivable being, God furnishes an adequate ending point to our quest.

As for your final point, if you’ve read my work, you know that I never argue for God’s existence on the basis of the absurdity of life without God. I’m very explicit about this. Rather the purpose of this exercise is to arouse apathetic people from their stupor and get them to think about the importance of the question of God’s existence, to get them to be as passionate as you are! Then, perhaps, they will be interested to hear my arguments for the existence of God.

No, I do not think Nagel’s rejoinders are absurd. They are thoughtful, and worth considering. But in the end, I think they misfire and do nothing to show that on atheism life is not ultimately meaningless, valueless, and purposeless, nor that biblical theism fails to provide a framework for the affirmation of these same goods.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How Mark C's It...Know What You Believe

DISCLAMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless…


A little about me, I am a native born Californian, who has spent most of his life there, except for a childhood in the Midwest, and the past few years here below the Mason-Dixon Line. I have a high school diploma with a technical degree in Programming, and many years of college, but no sheepskin to show for it.

An old adage says never talk about Politics or Religion, and I love to talk about both, and that brings me to the point of my addition to Seth… Knowing what you believe in, politically.

I had a job in a factory here, and was in a discussion with a co-worker about politics. He was taken back by the fact I am a Republican, and thought I was just joking. How could someone as intelligent as I am, as well read as I am, and well spoken as I am, be a Republican. You would have thought I had peed on his mother’s grave, of which I am sure she is still alive…

So I questioned him and his beliefs. Having lived his whole life below the Mason-Dixon Line, I asked if he believed in a Welfare State, he said NO. Did he believe in Homosexual Marriage, NO. Did he believe in Interracial Marriage, NO. Did he believe in Abortion on Demand, even as a form of Birth Control, he said NO, and a few other things along with that I won’t repeat. I asked if he believed in allowing Illegal Immigrants the rights to free medical care, free money, free education, knowing they got here by breaking the law. I’ll just say, he said NO. Congratulations I told him, YOU’RE A REPUBLICAN!

I wasn’t talked to for two days.

And there lies the rub. People seem to take to what their fathers were. His father was a Democrat, his Grandfather was a Democrat, his GREAT-Grandfather was a Democrat, and he was a Democrat, but not for what they believed, but because he came from a long line of Democrats.

The same happened to a table set up at a fireworks show. The local Democratic Party had a table set up to get people to sign up to be a Member of the Democrats. I asked the same 5 questions, got the same 5 answers, and was told to leave when I said, YOU’RE A REPUBLICAN. But as I was leaving I was told, they were Democrats who don’t follow the NATIONAL Democratic Platform.

They couldn’t tell me why they were Democrats; just they were in a long line of them. And that just concerns me. It is akin to being in the KKK and not hating Blacks, Jews, Homosexuals, because that is what is expected of you. MAKES NO SENSE.

I recently had to defend my being a Republican to some friends from High School, back in California. I have spoken openly about how there are things that I don’t agree with on the National Platform, like the invasion of Iraq, was a mistake, not enough support, thought or logic was involved before the war was started. I don’t believe in tax breaks for the wealthiest American’s, including those in Congress, as they have a lot of millionaires there, but they make less, in base salary, then the 250,000 dollar Obama limit. I don’t agree with the limit on stem cell research, as they have found ways to harvest ADULT stem cells that are just as useful. But I do agree with most of what the Republican Platform is supposed to be. Lower Taxes for Middle Class, Smaller Government, Strong Military, Abortion only in the case of Rape, Incest, or the Mother’s life is in danger, and that we need stronger laws to enforce those who have been raped, and molested. I don’t agree with Homosexual Marriage, as Psychologist agree, Homosexuality is for the most part a choice, and as a Christian, I don’t agree with the lifestyle or choice. I don’t agree with the Welfare State, because I have seen it abused, and nothing happen to those who abuse it.

So, I know what I believe, and WHY I believe, which is more than can be said for a lot of those I have talked to around here.

So, I encourage you to have beliefs, and be able to defend those beliefs to those who give you questions as to why.

These are my thoughts, and how Mark C’s it.

The Appeal of Christopher Hitchens

I really like listening to debates, especially debates that involve Christopher Hitchens and I especially enjoy the debates that he and Dinesh D'Souza have had in the past; there's nothing better than two gladiators of rhetoric duking it out. I'm writing this piece mainly because of a post over at Wintery Knight's blog. Reading that reminded me of Hitchens and I wanted to write a blog post about him.

Hitchens is an interesting guy, a very interesting guy. When he's in a debate, you want to let him talk, not only because he has the cool British accent, but because he really brings out the emotional roadblocks to religion, Christianity in particular. He is a wordsmith, he's intelligent, and he's fun to listen to, even when he's dogging your belief system; he's just a likable guy. What does he rely on in debates? Rhetoric. Strong rhetoric. So strong, in fact, that if you don't know the rebuttals to his assertions, and you're a Christian, you probably would question what you believe.

The emotion of the person is what Hitchens aims for and he's very good at it. Usually, he'll mention the crusades, how he sees God as just standing by with folded arms until his intervention 2000 years ago, God just watches a person get raped and does nothing about it, you know those sorts of things. So, he knows what buttons to hit to trigger your emotions and he will get you to think about these things.

Christopher Hitchens is a very descriptive speaker. He's notorious for comparing God to a dictator, which gives you this image of a very demanding, evil, God that will strike you down for just about anything. This is the kind of assault that Hitchens takes on God, but really it's an assault on Christianity, which brings me to my point that Hitchens attacks religion, not the existence of God. If you break down his case, like Wintery did, then you'll see that he doesn't have strong arguments against the existence of God, rather he argues that religion is evil and a poison to humanity.

An argument that Hithcens gives about God not intervening for mankind until 2000 years ago seems like a good one, but William Lane Craig broke it once (at a panel discussion or in his debate, I can't remember the setting). Craig said stated that if mankind lasts 100,000 years longer, then it wouldn't have been that God waited all that long at all to intervene would it? Chris more or less said, "No I guess not." So, that shows that the arguments Hitchens gives are just emotional. His arguments are not full-proof, they rely solely on rhetoric and performance, which looks good in debate, but when analyzed closely will crumble.

As I said earlier though, I like Christopher Hitchens, he's a great guy and he's fun to listen to. He does well to show the cruelties of religion, but in my opinion, the horrors of man's past just shows that we need a Savior even more. Those events show the sinfulness of man and really don't prove that God doesn't exist, however, those events do show that religion doesn't work, only a solid relationship with God works.

So what is the appeal of Christopher Hitchens? His speaking ability. He's funny, very descriptive, you know a wordsmith. People love wordsmiths, e.g. Gilmore Girls, Seinfeld; those are great shows for the painting of words, so to speak, that the characters perform. I encourage you to listen to Chris' arguments so you can the emotional barriers that people have to Christianity. It's really important to know why people don't put their faith in God so we can answer the questions they have. If we don't, then people will continue to have a barrier to God.

Christopher Hitchens debates here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why Android 2.2 Should Worry Apple...

Here is an excerpt from an article in eWeek's August 16, 2010 issue:

"With Google's Android 2.2 update coming soon to several Android mobile devices, it's time for Apple to really be concerned about its chief competitor. The new version of Android is arguably the most important since the mobile operating system's launch, and it delivers functionality that could rival Apple's iOS 4. Now the real battle between Android and iOS has started. And with signal reception problems spoiling the iPhone 4's debut, Apple might want to bear in mind that success today doesn't guarantee continued success tomorrow."

Apple needs to be worried about Android 2.2 not for fear of 2.2 putting them out of business (that's highly unlikely), but for fear of Android "one-upping" Apple in technology. This healthy fear of another company drives innovation, which produces great technology (most of the time, re: Virtual Boy just to name one technology flop). Right now, I think Apple is kind of just coasting on their popularity and I can't blame them. Apple is the poster boy for consumer gadgets, the company that teens and now adults look to for the next new tech toy, but how long will Apple hold the crown? I believe Android is stepping up to the ring with 2.2; it looks very promising and this update just might be the boost Android needs to step into the ring with Apple.

Get the full scoop here on Why Android 2.2 Should Worry Apple.