Tuesday, August 30, 2011

problem of pain, suffering, and general evil

How original of a title right? Most philosophers label the human condition of suffering as "the problem of pain," "problem of suffering," or "the problem of evil," so I thought I would include each one. This weekend a friend of mine told me his tale, a very painful tale (emotionally) of suffering and addiction he has had to deal with for years upon years. Up until recently, the suffering was brutal; he has just recently gotten over the addiction part and he has entered recovery. Though the war in his mind and body is over, the grief and pain lingers with him. The question of why still rings the bell of his mind. Why do bad things happen to young people? He understands bad things happen, but why do bad things happen to innocent children? After hearing his journey, I honestly couldn't give an answer because I so absorbed the man's misery and anguish; how could I reply? I have never experienced the pain he went through. Some of you might be wondering what the man went through, but it's not my story to tell. It's his and I will leave it at that.

I mentioned that I couldn't give an adequate answer because I was so absorbed and burdened for the man. I knew what to say but I couldn't. I wonder if any of you have experienced that problem. I assume it was because I could almost see the misery all over him as he was telling me about his past problems and pain. I guess if he had been fully recovered at the time of the event, I wouldn't have been so empathetic and we could have had a discussion about suffering and God. This was a very existential moment for me. The human condition of such strong emotional suffering was right before my eyes; I had no idea what to say and then I realized that listening and showing concern through that is sometimes all the grieved want (notice I said sometimes).

What Kierkegaard wrote, "My life is one great suffering, unknown and incomprehensible to all others," sums up what my friend told me of his life thus far. Grief is not a strong enough word for such emotional suffering. True human depression is a terrible thing. My friend told me, I'll never forget it, that he has wished time and again that he was an animal so he wouldn't have to worry and deal with the things human beings deal with. Can you imagine that? His suffering is so real, so monstrous, that he wishes he was a cat, dog, bird, anything but human so he doesn't have to experience his suffering. I cannot imagine. 

He didn't tell me this, but his situation reminds me of Heidegger's idea of the human condition. He said (I'm using my own words) that man is thrown into a world, without any prior knowledge or option, that was there before their existence and will be there after their existence. Why his account reminded me of Heidegger is because my friend asked why his problem happened at such a young age. Why? He didn't choose for that to happen to him. It was as if he had no option. Like an innocent citizen who witnesses a murder and then suffers the consequence of witnessing the murder, my friend didn't plan his predicament either. He had no option. It's as if he was thrown into the situation.

Why does this happen? Why do we seem to find ourselves in a world or situation we didn't plan? Well, in short, "stuff happens." That's what some folks say, "You know, stuff happens," but I find that inadequate and evasive. I think we all know deep down that chance isn't a good enough answer. Although, chance does take the blame off of "fate" or "God," so perhaps that's why some say in a chaotic, random, universe unplanned bad things happen to people. I don't think we have to resort to that conclusion. 

Pain is real. Suffering is widespread. There is evil in the world.

In the next series of posts I want to examine the problem of evil a little further. Think of this as an online research between me and you. Morality has been the focus of my research (you can tell by looking around this blog), so the problem of evil seems like a good transition. I have posts on evil, but they aren't my words or research; I merely shared what I found, so I would like to do my own writing. In doing so, maybe we'll find the answers to our questions.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why people are disappointed with marriage

 Fun. Laughter. Happiness. Good times. No worries. Is this how life is supposed to be? Is our definition of loving life and seeing good days measured by the amount of happiness in our lives? Now, this isn't just aimed at the "singles," rather the post is aimed at marriage and what people tell us a good marriage is. 

I was contemplating the notion that a marriage is defined as "good" by how "happy" the couple is. Now, I don't want you to get the impression from me that I think a couple isn't supposed to be happy in a marriage, no-no, I want to give you something to "munch" on. I found this article by Greg Koukl. The topic was on happiness and this is just one gem from the article:

"In the pursuit of happiness, human institutions are valid not because of transcendent ethic but because of temporal fulfillment, which is essentially self-centered. For example, marriage is a valid commitment as long as you're happy. If you're not happy anymore in the marriage, then you have reason to dissolve the marriage. But I would contend that if you're getting married to be happy, then you're getting married for the wrong reasons. Not that personal fulfillment is not a valid goal in some measure, but that's not what it's all about." 

Notice Greg didn't condemn happiness in a marriage, rather he was making the point that happiness isn't the goal of marriage. So, what is the goal of marriage? 

"You marry as a covenant agreement between two people to maintain a family unit in society to accomplish certain things, to help each other and embrace the events and issues of life together as helpmates, to raise a family and provide a stable environment for them. Though all of those things may breed a measure of happiness, they breed a measure of misery as well. That's why the covenant, the agreement, the commitment between husband and wife is not based on happiness. If it was you'd have to amend your vows to say, 'Until unhappiness do us part.'"  

Did you catch it? We don't marry to be happy. Why do we marry? To "maintain a family unit in society to accomplish certain things, to help each other and embrace the events and issues of life together as helpmates, to raise a family and provide a stable environment for them." That's why man and woman marry. A person pursuing happiness alone will be horribly disappointed with marriage because marriage is not an institution for happiness alone. 

Why are people disappointed with marriage? Well like I said above, both parties or a single party in the marriage is only seeking happiness. He or she usually thinks the other person can bring happiness because "Well, gee, Darin is just so funny, charming and fun...surely he can make me happy!" or "Man, Jane has a smoking body, surely she alone can satisfy me," and then shortly after marriage Darin is not so charming and funny anymore and Jane doesn't satisfy her husband's cravings. Why is that? Well, as Greg says later in the article: we have a cultural value, a cultural emphasis, on happiness. The pursuit of happiness becomes the rationale for all sorts of inappropriate behavior--"But she's not happy married to him. She's happy with me." "I'm not happy raising my children." "But I'm not happy when I'm not high." "I'm not happy going to work every day." These are the kinds of comments children make, not adults

Greg is exactly right: "These are the kinds of comments children make, not adults." Instead of marriage being the incubator for raising a family, it's become the incubator for raising one's happiness and when marriage is defined that way, people will be disappointed with it every time. That's why some people are disappointed with marriage and why our culture is the way it is. When desire and happiness is your destiny, then you're going to have horrible results. Not to get too off topic, but consider what Robert McCain wrote

"When you see a businessman divorce his wife of 30 years in order to marry his receptionist, or when Mary Kay LeTourneau wrecks her life to pursue a taboo romance with Vili Fualaau, these are manifestations of the same basic concept at the root of the gay-rights lobby’s “born that way” argument: Desire is destiny, and of all the happiness that we are free to pursue, no pursuit is more important than a sexual partner who fulfills our deepest longings. 

When a belief so pervades a culture as this one has pervaded our culture, it becomes impossible for most people to understand it rationally, for they have no other frame of reference. We might compare it to liberal bias in the news media. As I’ve often said, most journalists don’t notice liberal bias for the same reason fish don’t notice water — it’s everywhere, and it’s all they’ve ever known."
When one's goal is happiness, one will almost always fail because happiness isn't a meaningful goal due to the "I want this and I want it now!" attitude. Greg says, "we cling to this expectation of personal happiness, we will define good life, appropriate life, successful living in the context of freedom from problems and pain. And it's to that degree that life will deliver to us the severest disappointment, because life is not like that."

How should we look at marriage? I married my wife because I love who she is. I wanted to raise a family with her. I wanted to be faithful to her, to protect her, and to grow old with her. We fit together. Do we disagree on some things? Yeah, but not on major things like our goals, which is very important in a marriage. I don't recommend marrying someone you disagree with on goals and ultimate issues. Different tastes in movies and music are understandable (actually I learned of new music from my wife, which is cool).

I really like how Greg ends his piece: "Make it your goal to be faithful. Happiness will take care of itself. And the times that it doesn't, so what? Generally, if I'm really bummed out, I don't despair because there's probably nothing critically wrong with me, and it probably won't last. And if I'm really thrilled about something I enjoy it, but I don't cling to it because sooner or later I'll return to normal living, and that's OK--no guilt trips. And I never expect anything in this life to sustain me at anything like a blissful level.

I couldn't end this post any better.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Is woman the dream of man?

*This post goes along with the post Are men used by women for children?

To contrast with yesterday's post, I looked up another view on woman and the view comes from the 19th century existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Two quotes I want to share with you.

"The man who feels no impulse toward the study of women may, as far as I am concerned, be what he will; one thing he certainly is not, he is no aesthetician." 

"When God created Eve, He let a deep sleep fall over Adam; for woman is the dream of man." 
Both quotes come from his work, Either/Or.

You can see Kierkegaard's view of woman does indeed contrast sharply with that of Nietzsche who said, "Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent," and "Woman's love involves injustice and blindness against everything that she does not love... Woman is not yet capable of friendship: women are still cats and birds. Or at best cows..." 1. However, I still agree with what I wrote I yesterday on how some women to use men as a means for a child. Some women are like that, but just because some women are like that doesn't mean *all* women are only interested in having  a child. There are women who want a long, loving, lasting relationship with a man. Kierkegaard did not condemn all women like Nietzsche apparently did (I haven't read all of Nietzsche's works), rather he held women in a higher regard. 

Consider the first quote how Kierkegaard basically said the man who doesn't study women obviously doesn't care for the beauty. What Kierkegaard is saying here is that woman is "the beautiful" and the man who doesn't seek the woman or appreciate the woman or even put the woman on a pedestal does not care for anything of beauty at all. Woman is the "dream of man," as Kierkegaard put it. 

Good women are worth dying for. I believe that. Good women are to be put on the highest pedestal and the husband should love her more than himself. I agree totally with Martin Luther that, "There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage." Consider what C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves, "Need-love says of a woman 'I cannot live without her'; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection — if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all." 

I have not lived long enough myself to give experiential advice on love, women, and man, however I do study and respect, those who are older than me and those who died long ago, their words and wisdom on such things. Pessimistic as he was, Nietzsche was correct in his view on bad women and such women should be avoided because they will only bring you pain (also for my female readers bad men will only bring you pain-it cuts both ways) but Kierkegaard is correct in that woman is the "dream of man," and such a woman should be pursued, studied, and loved sacrificially because she is beautiful and more than worth your time.


1. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra - On the Friend

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Are men used by women for children?

 Consider "For the woman, the man is a means: the end is always the child," by Friedrich Nietzsche. I was reading Nietzsche this morning when I came across this line and I realized Nietzsche wasn't too far off in his thinking this and he would be even more convinced of this if he was living with us today. Think of how many children today are born without knowing their father, either because of "accidental" pregnancy or by artificial insemination; most out-of-wedlock pregnancies are not unplanned. 

From the article "Rejecting men, embracing children" by Helen Alvare': 

"The recent news of the nearly 40% out of wedlock birth rate in the United States should pretty much rock our world as citizens and as Catholics. According to the Centers for Disease Control report, this means 1.7 million children were born to unmarried mothers in 2007, a figure 250% greater than the number reported in 1980" 

What is the cause? She writes:

"First, the researchers concluded that the majority of children born to lone mothers could not correctly be deemed “unplanned.” Rather, many were planned or actively sought. And the majority were somewhere in the middle between planned and unplanned. In other words, many of these very young couples (it was not uncommon for the mothers to be 14 or 15 years old) explicitly or implicitly wanted a baby in their lives. Their reasons by and large would be familiar to anyone who has ever hoped for a child. They wanted someone who was an extension of their beloved, a piece of him or her.  They wanted to love another person deeply." 

The father? Nah, leave him out. He's not important is he? If women aren't using men as a means to an end, the end being children, then could it be for praise? Controversial it may be, but Ann Coulter recently made this very point: 

"The mainstream media and Hollywood studios are constantly issuing propaganda about the joys and triumphs of single mothers. Thus, for example, the noted scientific periodical Us Weekly celebrated single motherhood with an article titled "The New Single Moms and How They Do It," which delusionally proclaimed that the 'sisters are doing it for themselves.'"  
I know not every woman uses a man as a means to a child, but I also must admit Nietzsche wasn't radical in thinking such a thing. Is the thinking of a woman wanting a child without a man radical thinking? I wouldn't argue against the thought, nor should you because you need very strong arguments to prove otherwise.

Controversial for his arguments against single-motherhood, Wintery Knight details why single-motherhood is harmful and why traditional marriage is fruitful in this post on the Casey Anthony trial (you'll also find a cornucopia of other resources). Agree with him, hate him, WK has heard it all. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thoughts on 2012 Election

An interview with Mark of "How Mark C's It..."

How long have you been a conservative republican?

I don't know if I can actually qualify this question, as I don't think I was ever a democrat, so the answer would probably be most of my life.

What part of conservative ideology most persuaded you?

Being born in 1960, I am actually a child of the 60's, and it was more, as a kid, of what the Democrats stood for than what the Republicans believed. I knew I didn't like what the Democrats believed. Back then, Roe vs Wade was being decided, and I knew that abortion was murder and the Democrats were for it. I wasn't. That the Democrats seemed to be the ones who were happy with, and pushing drugs, and I was all against drugs and drug use. With Richard Nixon in the White House, Democrats were big in fighting for everything the President was against, and as a child, we were taught the President was the leader of our country, and we needed to follow what he was saying. This was before liberals had taken over the education system and started pushing that liberals and the left are always right, and that the right and conservatives were always wrong.

Is there anything in the left's ideology that you find helpful to the U.S.?

The need for a proper education is one of the things that I agree with on the left. The need for teachers to be better paid, and to have better opportunities to do their job. Teachers also need to have more leeway in what they teach, not follow set guidelines, and not be forced to teach some of the leftist thoughts, of white guilt, to the black and brown man. Teachers also need to NOT be unionized, as proven in the Los Angeles School Systems, most of the money given to schools for education is wasted on union bureaucracy, instead of where it should go, to books, classroom supplies, teacher incentives.

That is would be nice to have the safety net of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, but they are not sustainable with the left trying to give everyone everything without anyone having to pay anything for it.

What do you think conservative politicians need to campaign on to win the 2012 election?

Obama and his ilk are very big in running a bully pulpit on how Republicans don't care about the poor, the middle class, only the rich, and big business. The Republicans understand the world and how business is run. There is an old saying on the Golden Rule, not the REAL Golden Rule of 'Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you", but He who has the Gold, MAKES THE RULES. Businesses make money, for themselves and their shareholders, and they will always make money. If you took all the worlds wealth and split it equally to all the inhabitants of the world, in a few years, all of those who are currently wealthy, would be so again. So, Conservatives need to show their concern and empathy for the middle and lower class, and to do things to help them, and to thump their chests when they do, because that is exactly what the Democrats do, they thump their tiny sized chests and say, LOOK AT ME and what I did. And that garners them TONS of attention. But in reality, that is all they care about, the photo op, the press release, the sound bite. If Barney Frank, and Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid really want to do something for the poor and unfortunate, then let them give away their personal wealth to the organizations that help the poor. Somehow Barack Obama made 7 million last year, by his tax return, so, come on, cut some loose, give some to a CHURCH that feeds the poor, to a HOMELESS SHELTER, that takes care of those less fortunate. Democrats are good at spending money that ISN'T THEIRS to help those who need it, and then blaming others when someone says, "But who is going to pay for it?"

Is there one Republican candidate (so far) who you think can win the 2012 presidential election?

Boy, is that a tough one. Michelle Bachman is way to polarizing, and will tear the Republican Party apart, as it is, being a Tea Party Selectee, she will have part of the established party against her. Rick Perry is too wishy washy, even though he just entered the race, he waited, and that doesn't sit well with myself or others. Ron Paul has GREAT ideas, but he is more than a RINO, he is more a Libertarian. Herman Cain is GREAT, has run companies, successfully, something Barack Obama has never done, and Barack keeps saying he inherited the problems, that he as a Senator helped put into place, and after 31 months, still has no answers to fix. Rick Santorum, well, I know virtually nothing about him, and as for Newt, well, he is more than done, and should drop out very soon, following the lead of Tim Pawlenty. As for the leading candidate, Mitt Romney, he really can't decide if he is a Democrat or a Republican. The things he did as Governor of Massachusetts, showed he tried to be a Democrat, and look how well it turned out for them. The Health Care in that state is a disaster, and I don't see Mitt standing up to take responsibility for it. I won't even get into his religion, as I feel that Mormons are misled. The rest, well, they are just filler to take up space and get ideas into the campaign, but should drop out soon enough. Sadly, none of them really can take on the Barack machine and win. Barack has the media on his side, and none but Fox News will call him on his bullshit, and then they are branded racists because they don't follow him blindly like G.E./NBC and the others do.

Is there a Republican you think should run, but isn't running in this election?

Chris Christie is the best chance to destroy Barack, and he is the Governor of New Jersey, and he is happy to be so, and is happy to do what he was elected to do. And I do find favor with him for it. Rick Perry is kind of deserting Texas to run for President, which is why I think if people want to run for and elected position, they should quit the job they currently have. Step out into the unknown, succeed or fail, but not fall back position. Rick should step down as Governor of Texas, Ron Paul and Michelle Bachman should step down from their positions, etc... And if there was any justice in the world, Barack Hussien Obama would step down as President, AND NOT RUN again.

What does President Obama need to do to recover from his failings, or can he even recover?

He needs to do something he has yet to do, grow a pair of balls, step up and say, I am in over my head, always have been, and need help fixing this thing. Man Up and say he has been wrong to keep placing blame on others when he is as clueless as a newborn babe, and say that tough choices need to be made, on his watch, to the entitlement programs he has championed, and that he can fix things, with the right help. Take responsibility for crappy decisions, and dumbass people he has put in place. Timothy Geithner has been a failure as has Ben Bernanke. Look to people who are smarter than him, as there are so many, and listen to their opinions, foment a plan, and then implement the plan. Then he could garner some respect.

Favorite President?

Hard to say, Kennedy did some wonderful things, and some think he was more Republican then Democrat, which says a lot being from where he was from, but his father's business background, it would make sense. Lincoln freed the slaves, which is monumental, and got the country back together, which was even MORE monumental. Teddy Roosevelt did great things in his time in office, including showing the importance of national parks, and conservation. And then there is Tricky Dicky, Richard Nixon, who helped to stop a recession, get us out of a war, and he ruled with an iron fist, there was no questioning, he just did it. I know some would say Reagan, and he did some very good things, but he also helped to increase the debt ceiling, and to lead us towards this down fall that we are in. Yes, defeating the Soviet Union and keeping freedom alive was expensive, but there was no plan for follow up, and that lead us down an ugly road.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mark Driscoll thinks I'm an atheist?

I usually like Mark Driscoll, but I must take contention with his thinking Cessationists are in the same camp as atheism and deism. To be honest, I'm not sure how even puts atheism and deism in the same camp either, but it's really radical to put cessationists in there. Why does he do it? I'll let him speak for himself. 

"Now some of you will have resistance to this and let me tell you why, this will be very controversial, it may be because you are worldly. Cessationism is worldliness. Let me explain it to you, you've got Renee Descartes "Cogito ergo sum", I think therefore I am. In an effort to defend Christianity from some of its critics, he begins with his epistemological presupposition: "Where will I start? I think therefore I am". So the two founding, if you look at this like a Jenga game, the first two pieces that get laid down in something called the modernistic enlightenment project, individualism and rationalism. "I think", that's in "I'm an individual and my mind, my brain, the three pounds of me between my ears", that is the essence of what it means to posses the "Imago dei", to bear the image and likeness of God. Out of that what invariably comes is the modern enlightenment project, based upon individualism and rationalism. Now, out of this comes as well skepticism, after a while you start reading in the Bible, "Jesus walked on water?". You start becoming skeptical of supernatural claims. So it's like William Barclay come[sic] along " well maybe he's walking along the shore of the water and it look like he was walking on the water", we're trying to find ways to explain away what the Bible says plainly. Because it doesn't fit cleanly within a modernistic, rationalistic uh paradigm of thinking. So in that way Christians start thinking more like Hume than C.S. Lewis. Alright?

Hume is really the modern rationalistic thinker who set in motion opposition to the supernatural, to the miraculous. So it starts with rationalism, individualism as part of modernism, this leads to skepticism, right?. If there is a God, then God created the world, and to use the language of Al Pacino in the devil's advocate, he's now an absentee landlord, and that he's left us here and he's governing life as we know it by a set of laws; but he's so sovereign that he's gone, he's not transcendent and imminent, just gone. What happens then is the assumption is made that none of these natural laws can be violated, therefore the supernatural is impossible if not unlikely.

This plays itself out in three ways: Number one, there's atheism. There is no God, there is no supernatural, there is nothing beyond the physical material world that can be objectively tested and retested according to scientific methodology. There is a vestige of modernism that tries to accommodate the spiritual aspect and it becomes deism. Where there is a God but this "god" is not involved in our world, he doesn't break in and violate natural law; the supernatural is not possible. This is Thomas Jefferson who sits down on the white house with a set of scissors and cuts all of the miracles out of the bible and publishes something called The Philosophy of Jesus Christ. This includes Unitarians, this includes very liberal mainline so called Christian denominations who are basically deists. There is a god, he is far away, doesn't have anything to do with us and the miracles can all be explained away, they are primitive, superstition, myths, misunderstandings. So it goes to Atheism, Deism and this will be controversial, Cessationism.

Now you know why I haven't said this publicly, I'm not sure I have a helmet big enough to deal with it, I'm gonna get battered a lot. But I believe that a result of modernistic worldliness in Christian form is hard cessationism. And that is saying: God could do a miracle but He doesn't and He won''t, but He could. So within that God's not really speaking, God's not really working and the supernatural gifts are not in operation; Healing, revelation, speaking in tongues, those kinds of things they are over in the God-used-to box. Even though I was reading this book that said he was the same yesterday, today and forever.

And so their argument even comes down to 1st Corinthians 13 which gets turned into origami, right? When the perfect comes the imperfect disappears, we'll see him face to face, the perfect is Jesus. The perfect is Jesus. But then what happens is, to defend this sort of modernistic rationalistic, cessationistic position, we throw up the craziest cooks in the charismatic camp and say well you don't want that do ya? uh no, no we don't. If it's nothing or that it's a real coin flip, cause neither is the real win." 

The full pdf can be read here.

What's interesting is Driscoll thinks cessationism is modern or wasn't around untile Hume. As Frank Turk has pointed out:

"I am dying to see the historical evidence for the continuation of the gifts in the first 3 centuries of the church when it cannot be found in any of the primary sources for that period. You say elsewhere in the talk that you have it, and I'm looking forward to you showing us your evidence. When guys like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tatian, Clement, and Tertullian don't mention it at all, and they are framing the first post-biblical case for Christianity, and they can't possibly have modernistic, rationalistic, individualistic Enlightenment biases because it's 14 centuries too early for that, I hope you have something more than self-confidence and a winning smirk to carry the day." 

I, like Frank, want to see the evidence.

So, what is cessationism? To begin, cessationism is not what Mark thinks it is. Cessationism is the view that the miraculous gifts such as tongues, healing, and prophecy ceased being practiced early on in church history. One reason for such a view is what Frank Turk pointed out that such gifts are not mentioned within the first post-biblical era. The classical view holds that the "sign" gifts (tongues, prophecy, and healing) are not in operation today by folks. Does God still intervene? Certainly. I would argue that it's highly unlikely such intervention is what you see on Christian television, e.g., crazy revivals broadcasted on GTV (Lakeland revival).

More resources on cessationism and the gifts

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jesus, the recycled redeemer?

*my title is from a STR resource

This post is going to be focused on sharing resources about Jesus and the dying-God savior myths.

First here is a video made by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason.

More resources

Was Jesus Christ just a copycat savior myth?

Jesus myth lies: Dying and Rising Savior gods Argument Based upon Lies