June 2013


Blogging doesn’t pay my bills.  I actually have to work a real job for that.  And lately, my work schedule has been crazy.  It will continue to be that way for the next four months, so blogging may be sparse.  I will try to put up new posts whenever I can, and I’ll try to respond to comments, both past and future.  I just can’t promise how frequent my engagement will be. 

In the near future, I hope to expand the scope of Theosophical Ruminations beyond a one-man shop to include other writers.  Hopefully they will be able to start blogging soon, and will make up for my lack.  I’ll keep you posted.  

In the meantime, I would highly suggest that you sign up for my RSS feed so you can be notified of future posts.

 Thanks!

Apologetics DefenseSome Christians think that if we appeal to reason and evidences to demonstrate that the Bible is truly God’s Word, then we are elevating reason and evidence to a place of authority over God’s Word.  I think this conclusion is misguided for several reasons.  First, I don’t think it is legitimate to consider reason an “authority.”  Reason is merely a tool for assessing reality.  It is basic to all human thought.  Indeed, one cannot even understand God’s revelation apart from reasoning.  It would be a mistake, then, to pit reason against revelation as if they are two competing authorities.  As Greg Koukl has argued, using reason to assess whether or not the Bible is God’s revelation to man no more puts reason above the Bible than using grammar to understand God’s revelation puts grammar above the Bible.

Secondly, this confuses the order of being (ontology) with the order of knowing (epistemology). While the Bible is first in terms of authority, it is not first in terms of the order of knowing. Knowledge of the divine origin and revelatory status of the Bible is not innate. We must acquire this knowledge.  Knowledge of a proposition requires three elements: (1) belief that the proposition is true; (2) justification for the belief that the proposition is true; (3) the proposition must actually be true.  Put another way, knowledge is justified true belief.  Given the fact that knowledge requires justification, it cannot be wrong to require justification for believing the Bible is God’s Word.  We could not know the Bible is God’s Word apart from such justification.  As Kelly Clark has pointed out, reason is not autonomous as the standard of truth, but it is the best tool for discovering the truth. 

A proper use of reason is not an exercise of subjecting God’s Word to a higher authority, but an examination of the Bible to determine if it is truly what it claims to be.  We use our God-given reason to discover the truth that the Bible is a product of divine revelation.

coyne_jerry-209x300Scientists say the darndest things.  Last January I blogged on an article Jerry Coyne wrote in USA Today regarding free will.  At one point he said, “So if we don’t have free will, what can we do? One possibility is to give in to a despairing nihilism and just stop doing anything. But that’s impossible, for our feeling of personal agency is so overwhelming that we have no choice but to pretend that we do choose and get on with our lives.”

Coyne is still spinning the same gobbledygook.  Recently, on Coyne’s own blog, a commentator took Coyne to task for acting as though humans have freedom, while being adamant that they do not.  Coyne responded:

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Subjective ObjectWhen talking about subjective and objective truths, I’ve heard it claimed that every truth claim is “subjective” since humans are subjects.  On this view, there can be no such thing as objective truth since all truth claims are made by subjects.

This is often applied in the context of the moral argument.  Theists argue that morality is objective, and finds its ontological grounding in the character of God.  In response, some will argue that since God is a subject, His moral commands are subjective, and hence even theistic ethics cannot provide an objective basis for morality.

This is a gross misunderstanding of the terms.  Subjective and objective tell you what a statement is about – not where it comes from.  To say a truth is “subjective” is to say it is about the subject himself; to say a truth is “objective” is to say it is about a mind-independent object in the world.

Part of what makes a blog worth the effort is the dialogue it can open up between people of opposing views.  So I encourage people who disagree with me to express their disagreement in the comments section.  However, I have some basic expectations for commenters:

1. The comments should be related to the post.

2. The disagreement should address the specific arguments made in the post in a point and counter-point fashion.

3. All dialogue should be congenial. Let’s stick to critiquing ideas instead of each other.

4. Minimal profanity.

Going forward, any comments that do not meet these criteria will be deleted.  If I have to consistently delete your comments, you will be banned from the site.  I trust that you will find my request reasonable and do your due diligence to abide by these basic guidelines.  It will make everyone’s experience here much more enjoyable and productive.

Thank you!

Moses writingGenesis 14:14 describes Abram’s rescue of Lot as follows: “When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”  

Dan was the name given to a city in the northern-most territory in Canaan, occupied by the descendents of Dan, the son of Jakob.  Given the fact that the descendents of Dan did not occupy this area until after the Conquest of Canaan, this could be pointed to as evidence that Genesis (or at least this periscope within Genesis) was not written until some time after the conquest of Canaan.  Seeing that Moses died before the Israelites entered Canaan, he could not have written this account. 

There are at least two possible rebuttals.  One would be to suggest that the identification of this area as “Dan” was due to a later updating of the text.  On this view, Moses wrote this periscope and used the name of the city/region as it was called in his day.  Later scribes, however, updated the text to reflect the modern names of the cities and regions Moses spoke of since modern readers would not be familiar with the ancient names.  

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