- Natural laws: God has set up His universe in a very particular way that we cannot change. I cannot fly under my own power, shoot lasers out of my eyes or lick my own elbow. There are physical laws, established by God, that prevent me from doing so.
- Particularity: Each of us are born to a particular place, at a particular time, as a particular gender and nationality, and with access to a particular set of people. I cannot meet George Washington. I cannot become a woman. I cannot be something other than Irish (though why would I want that anyway). No, I was born here and now because God caused me to be born here and now, so that I may seek Him, as the Word says. I cannot change this. It's part of what makes me human.
- Consequence: Though there are events which are contingent on my choice, there are established consequences for that choice. Some are written in the physical world like splatting if I choose to jump off a building, or going bankrupt for making unwise investments. Others are exacted by God, for He is the judge of the universe, and He judges what we do both in this life and the next.
- Established events and ends: God allows particular events and ends to be contingent on the human will, but He also decrees certain events and ends to come to pass, and once God decrees is, we cannot stop it. God's sovereign power is irresistible, when he exercises in that manner.
Consider for a moment the dreams of the pharaoh told to Joseph. He dreamed two dreams, and the two dreams means that events foretold in the dream were established. This means that if he didn't' dream two, than the events weren't... Therefore, some events are established, and some are not. But the ones which are, we cannot prevent.
September 25, 2008
In any case, it is the most misunderstood book of the entire Bible. Its very premise angers us, and its conclusions deny us our sense of control, and challenge our very notions of justice. It is a hard book to digest, but I believe the primary reason is that we do not treat it as a whole: focusing on the beginning narrative, and skipping the vast majority of the book which constitutes dialogue. If we are to understand Job, we must first recognize that the meat of the book is in the dialogue, and not in the story.
The Purpose of the Narrative
The purpose of the narrative intro is not to tell the moral of the story, though it certainly anticipates it. The purpose is the same as any other kind of intro, to set the context of the book. First of all, the subject: theodicy, or more specifically in this case, why do good people suffer. This is a complex question, and the book doesn't actually set out the answer it, as we will see.
But the narrative sets up many different things. First of all, it rules out a possibility which is very important. Job does not suffer because of anything wrong with Job. Job is completely righteous. If you don't get this down, you miss everything.
Indeed, in most interpretations I hear of the book, people keep trying to get around this initial fact. However, to try and find out why Job needed to go through this trial, or why he deserved it, is to contradict the entire premise that the book is founded upon: Job is righteous, and does not deserve what he receives in any fashion.
Second of all, we see why Job does suffer. There is a wager between God and Satan. This is something else we tend to try and get around, saying that God wasn't really wagering with Satan, but simply manipulating him to accomplish His goals for Job. However this contradicts the plain sense of the text. According to the text, the wager happens because of God's faith in Job. I repeat, God had faith in Job. He trusted Job to come through. Mind you, He has the advantage of omniscience, yes, but that doesn't change the fact that the reason why Satan wishes to attack Job is because God has faith in him.
This cannot be extrapolated into supposing this is why all good people suffer. The text doesn't lend itself to that. Indeed, Job is treated as a special case. Therefore we must conclude that this is simply the context for Job. We must also recognize that God is right, and Job does not betray Him. Even in Job's strongest laments and deepest anger, he does not loose faith in God, but merely seeks God for an answer.
If we are to consider the dialogue the thrust of the book, what is its message? There are three opinions that are basically stated: the friends/Elihu, Job, and God. Job is insisting on his innocence, demanding an audience with God to settle the matter. Job's friends and Elihu are criticizing Job for this claim, and telling him to admit that he is a sinner and repent.
But what is most interesting is God's opinion. God doesn't stake a claim on the issue at all. He merely rebukes Job's criticisms of His character, but punishes Job's friends for their horrendous theology.
Then what can we conclude is the message?
I would say that the book as a whole is a rebuke of a popular theology, namely the one expressed by Job's friends. There is a truth that says that God blesses the righteous, and brings the sinner to ruin (Proverbs 11:21). However, what many do is flip this truth around and conclude that those who are blessed are therefore righteous, and those who are in ruin are sinners. This causes one to praise the rich and powerful and look up to them, while condemning the poor and disenfranchised. (Remember when the disciples thought that the blind man was a sinner, or when they were shocked that it was difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven?)
The book of Job stands in strong contrast to this theodicy. Indeed, the entire context of the story is a righteous man in ruin! When have that in our minds as we read, we see how terrible the comments of Job's friends really are, as they attack the man they are supposed to be comforting.
Also, Job maintains his goodness. Though he criticizes God many times, he never curses God, but instead seeks an audience with Him. He demands that God answer his questions, much like some of the laments in the book of Psalms. Though God never answers these questions, He comes to Job personally, and demonstrates His power. What's more, Job submits! He is satisfied that God is in control, and he need not worry.
One of the greatest mistakes that we make is to try and figure out why this needed to happen to Job. Sometimes we conclude that there was a hint of pride in him. Other times we conclude that God provided this as a means of Job becoming closer to Him. I think both of these undermine the premise of the book. The first is to side with Job's friends, the very ones that God condemns at the end of the book. The second flies in the face of the prologue.
As Christians, we should not be shocked by the book of Job. Doesn't Jesus promise that we will suffer for His name? Doesn't He promise persecution? Then why are we shocked that things don't go wonderfully for Job? Why are we shocked that Satan attacks him? A Christian should instead recognize in Job a similar situation that we are called to be in.
September 20, 2008
There once was the Great King who ruled his land with strength and confidence. Throughout all the land, he maintained peace with an iron hand and a calculating mind. The people feared him. He made war on many lands, and no one could withstand his might.
Then, out of the north, came another king, a Glorious King, that the Great King did not formerly know of. This king rode on a white horse, and held a power that the Great King had never seen before. The Glorious King outwitted and overpowered the Great King at every turn, until finally the Great King was defeated.
In awe, the Great King fell on his knees before the Glorious King. He said, "You are far greater than I have ever been, and ever shall be. I humble myself before you, willing to be your servant for whatever you ask of me."
The Glorious King replied, "Indeed, and from this day forth, you shall no longer be known as the Great King, but as the Humble Servant, for I have conquered this land and humbled you, not because I needed it or because I needed you, but because I wanted you. I have known you long before you have known me, and I have cared for you, waiting for this day when you shall rule beside me. I have territory for you to govern. It is for this purpose I have conquered you."
The Humble Servant was overjoyed to hear this news. Truly he had been humbled by this king, and truly he will be devoted to him all his life. He knew he didn't deserve this territory that the Glorious King gave him, and decided that he would do his utmost to devote all that he would do to the glory of the Glorious King.
Therefore, in the King's name, the Humble Servant ruled that territory with strength and confidence. Throughout all the land, he maintained peace with an iron hand and a calculating mind. The people were afraid. He made war on many lands, and no one could withstand his might.
Being Humbled and Being Humble
The point of the story is to demonstrate the difference between being humbled and being humble. The Great King, even after he became the Humble Servant, was not a humble man. He still treated the subjects under his rule with the same arrogance and tactics that he had before. However, that doesn't mean that there was no change at all. He was humbled by the Glorious King, and his humility before the Glorious King was a true humility.
Ever since I started looking into the Calvinism/Arminianism debate, I've had this frustration with what I can only call "Calvinist Humility". Often they would go on and on about how humble Calvinism has made them. However, these were often the most arrogant and prideful people I had ever met. The two didn't make sense to me, so I simply assumed that they were deceived about how humble they were.
Then today, something occurred to me. They are humble, but only before God. All of their talk of humility was always the same: they are dirt, God is perfect; they are clay, God is the potter; they are evil, God is good. However all this talk of humility has to do with their relationship to God. When it comes to other humans though: they are elect, we are reprobate; they believe in Scripture, we believe in philosophy; they are wise, we are foolish. I don't know what to call this other than arrogance, because no matter how much we demonstrate our loyalty to God, no matter how much Scripture we reference, no matter how hard we try to reason with them, their preconceived ideas of who we are and what we believe cannot be undone. They are too stubborn to listen. And it is not that I'm saying they must believe what we believe to be humble. I'm talking about how tightly they latch on to their caricatures of us.
When it comes right down to it, the problem is that they are humble before God, but not humble with other humans. Now, I'm not saying that all Calvinists are like this, but isn't this a natural result of Calvinist theology? In Calvinist theology, the human begins with in a place of Total Depravity. Fine, I start there too. No problems so far. But, God only gives that grace which is necessary to come out of that state to a select few. Therefore, we have a class distinction: the elect and the non-elect, or reprobate. Therefore, the elect are better than the reprobate because they have been regenerated, enlightened, and chosen. There's nothing innate about them that makes them better. God made them better, glory be to God...
Now, look, I am not going to deny that humility before God isn't something that Scripture teaches. Indeed, it is the primary use of the word in Scripture. But surely Scripture also calls us to be humble as a basic character trait. We should do the second without forsaking the first. This doesn't mean that we allow every form of teaching that passes by us the same level of credance. I don't mind that a Calvinist may assume I'm wrong as an a priori. That's fine. I'm settled on certain issues too. But to attempt to tell me what I believe, when I've told you already that I don't, or to simply ignore what I am saying for the sake of being able to go on a rant about how great your theology is, or to accuse me of every heresy known to the church just because I disagree with you on one issue, this seems over the top to me.
And if these discriptions do not apply to you, great! This post wasn't for you. There are lots of good Calvinists out there who are humble, and love those who love the Lord, regardless of whether they agree with them on these issues. But there are a lot of Great Kings out there, humbled before almighty God, who push the unseeing reprobate here or there. To be honest, it's very tiring, but not very productive. I mean, does it really hurt to listen?
September 17, 2008
Since I have been debating on the internet, there has been one particular use of the Bible that I have seen them use again and again. I have come to call it the machine-gun hermeneutic. Hermeneutics is the study of how to interpret Scripture, and a hermeneutic is a particular method of interpretation.
I post this as a warning to all those who may see this technique being used. Do not be fooled. It does not demonstrate that an argument is biblical, but instead quite the opposite.
Argument from Verbosity
An argument from verbosity, or argumentum verbosium, is when someone provides an enormous amount of proof as well as a complex line of reasoning, so as to overwhelm the audience. The hearer is unable to examine all of the proof mentioned, or untangle the line of reasoning, so accepts the argument without truly challenging it. However, this does not mean that the proofs were strong (or even relevant) or that the line of reasoning was logical: it just means that there was too much for the hearer to take in and evaluate.
For example, if I wanted to convince you that flying is too dangerous, I could quote you the number of planes that have crashed in the past 5 years, the number of people that have died, and then break down by airline, in the end quoting 25 different stats. Believe me, I would sound convincing. But this wouldn’t change the reality that flying is the safest way to travel because in this case the number of crashes isn’t nearly as relevant as the percentage of crashes. However, I would have quoted you enough stats that you would be unable to actually examine the validity or applicability of those stats. That is an argument from verbosity.
The Machine-Gun Hermeneutic
The machine-gun hermeneutic is essentially an argument from verbosity using Scriptural quotations. I could break down the entire chapter of Hebrews 10, and demonstrate how the entire context, as well as the intention of the entire book, demonstrate that it is possible that a true believer can fall away from the faith. Then the Calvinist responds by quoting 5 Scripture verses, without discussing their context, and then claims victory. I’ve seen this many times. However, those 5 verses usually have nothing to do with the context at hand, or teach something incredibly different than what the Calvinist says. It doesn’t really matter, because I now have to sort through the context of 5 different verses, explain how none of them match up to what the Calvinist says, and my original point gets lost. The Calvinist still ends up winning.
I began referring to this as a machine gun hermeneutic based off a conversation I had once. My opponent essentially quoted 6 or 7 different verses at once, and then insisted I respond to every single one of them. I refused, because I knew it really wouldn’t be effective anyway, since he would ignore whatever exegesis I offered by simply quoting more texts (he had done it before). He claimed that I didn’t respect Scripture. I responded, saying that I believe Scripture to be a sword, not a machine-gun, and it is disrespectful to Scripture to treat it differently than how it was designed.
You see, a sword takes an incredible amount of skill. If you do not angle the sword exactly right, it doesn’t slice, it only nicks. Often even the higher sword masters do not slice every time they connect with the sword. This is not even considering all of the necessary parrying and thrusting techniques.
A machine gun on the other hand only takes as much skill as is necessary to keep the user safe. The techinique is simply to shoot a spray of bullets and to hope that one of them connects.
The machine gun hermeneutic works similar. One simply quotes as many Scripture verses as possible and hopes that the shear volume is sufficient to get a hit. However, this ends up discouraging one from actually reading the Scriptures. The contexts of the verses are never considered. The verses are simply memorized so that they can be quoted when needed.
Now quoting Scripture isn’t bad. It's not that I need to discuss the context of every verse that I quote. But it is the context of the verse which determines whether my quoting it was valid, and that is impossible to determine when I have 6 verses to sort through at once. In the end, the Scripture itself is ignored, but its presence causes the statement to sound offical.
Also see this posted at SEA.
September 13, 2008
My intent with the rest of this blog is simply to get out my ideas with feedback. I think by talking and through discussion. Therefore, I do not see this as a mode of converting people to my opinion, but as a mode of thinking. By writing the ideas down, I shape my thoughts better, and if and when people challenge those ideas, I am able to address those challenges, and either correct or improve upon the original thought.
I had one professor in seminary who said that he was afraid that the seminary failed me to some degree but not allowing me to come to my professors in private more with my thoughts. Though I wouldn't have used language that strong, I do agree that I am a person who needs to work out his thoughts with other people, often changing my opinion in conversation, much to the annoyance of my wife.
So please, feel free to comment, as I do enjoy conversation. However, please be warned, I will converse back. Also, a couple of rules for commenting: Nothing dirty. I'll crop that out quickly. Also, please stay on topic, expecially on the older posts. I have this set so that I only moniter posts 10 days old and older. After that point, I'll be strict on seeing people stay on topic. However, on newer posts, I'm giving freer range of discussion, since they are new, and I want to generate discussion.
So, let the true blog begin.
September 12, 2008
As I said before, I am a big movie fan, but I am also a big Batman fan. Batman discussions were common in my household, as we would often compare notes and thoughts on the various psychological profiles of various villains. Yes, this was my childhood. I posted this August 10th, 2008.
I was excited to hear of the coming of the new Batman film for two reasons: I'm an avid Batman fan to begin with and the fantastic treatment of the character in Batman Begins. I was hoping for a film that was on par with Batman Begins, but I was unsure of whether or not they could do it. They were going to change an essential aspect of Joker's identity (bleached face for makeup) and maintain the Hollywood mistake of not sticking to one Batman villain per movie. So how did it fair?
It was amazing! Fantastic, action-packed, psycho-dramatic, thriller. One of the best movies I've ever seen.
Comparison to the First Movie
There were many things about this film which demonstrates a style for the entire series when compared with Batman Begins.
One, both movies resisted having an opening theme song, or even title screen. Instead, both opted for creating the Batman symbol only, in a highly stylized fashion. The first one formed it with a swarm of bats, the second by a blue fire. This thrusts the audience right into the movie.
Also, both movies have a very strong color scheme, which is first seen in the Batman symbol shot. The first one was brown and black, with some other earth tones. The second one was more blue and grey, with some other urban colors. There are scenes which are an exception to this, but these strong color patterns are certainly prevalent.
Also, the plot movements are very different. The first movie was very linear, almost episodic in nature. You might consider the first movie to have 4 episodes:
- Bruce Wayne training and dealing with his past (ends when Ras 'al Gul's house explodes and Bruce meets Alfred at plane)
- Bruce Wayne creating Batman and taking down the Falcone (ends with Rachel and her boss discussing prosecuting him. 'Baton' is passed when Scarecrow is introduced)
- Batman investigating the drugs and fighting Scarecrow (ends with Bruce Wayne coming to his party)
- Batman fighting Ras 'al Gul
Note how in each episode he is dealing with a different villain, has different kinds of challenges, and even the feel of the movie itself is different.
The Dark Knight is more monolithic in feel, with more of a cyclical structure: Joker instigates a challenge, Batman, Gordon, and Dent react, over and over with slight changes with each cycle. The only exception to this could be the incident with the Chinese accountant, but even with that, its the three good guys reacting to a challenge presented by the accountant. Also while the first movie was about the creation of Batman, for the most part, this one focused on the relationships between Batman, Gordon, and Dent, and how those relationships deal with the Joker crisis.
There is also the idea of theme. The theme of the first movie is fear and symbol. This second movie, the theme is hero and order. Throughout the movie, Dent and Batman are compared as two kinds of heroes. The final monologues of Gordon are the most conspicuous of this, using the same wording to describe the two, as well as the two titles: White Knight and Dark Knight. Gordon is also displayed as a hero to some extent, but never truly, because he is too pragmatic to truly be a hero.
Order is also treated, but not to the same extent. This is treated more on the villain side of things. You have the mob essentially trying to regain order. Also, to some extent, the good guys trying to create order for the first time. Then you have Joker trying to destroy order: an agent of chaos as he calls himself. Then, finally, Two-Face; a man who has lost he belief in order, and finds solace in the only thing he can still find reliable: chance.
There are two ways to gauge intensity: the quality of the action and the strength of the suspense. On a scale from one to ten, I would rank the action as a 7.5. Most of the tight shots made it difficult to tell what was happening in the fight scenes (especially when he was in the building in the last confrontation with Joker). Most of the other kinds of action were very short scenes. The scene that ranks the highest for action (and I would rank it about a 9.5) would be the car chase scene. Car chases, cool new vehicle, bazooka, explosions, trucks getting slammed, and an 18-wheeler flipped over its front. Now that's action my friend.
However, for suspense, I would rank this movie overall as a 10. This is clearly more where the director was going. Its a strong cross between a thriller and an action movie. Never quite knowing what Joker is going to do, always on the edge of your seat, not knowing who will live or who will die, and Two-Face making every decision by the flip of a coin. Very high suspense. Combine this high suspense with the action that was in the movie, and you have a very intense film.
Every true Batman fan knows that its all about the psychosis. A Batman movie without psychosis as a focus is like Star Wars with Jar Jar as the comic relief. Just bad. This movie got is right with each character hopelessly complex. Let us examine them starting with the least, and moving to the greater:
Mob bosses: The head mob boss in this movie is Maroni. In the comics, Maroni was the guy that threw acid on Harvey Dent, making him Two-Face. Here, Maroni is actually a very quiet man, more of a victim of circumstance than a real threat to anyone. He gets forced into a corner by Batman, Gordon and Dent, then pushed around by Joker, abused by Batman's interrogation, and finally trapped by Two-Face. Though he is the "head of the mob" he is very passive in the movie.
The other mob bosses are the closest thing you get to two dimensionality. They are concerned with money, respect and power. Not much more. Like Maroni, they are easily harassed, conned, and eventually destroyed by the main characters.
The Mayor: The mayor was a really great character. The actor impressed me with his American accent since I'm already familiar with him and know that he has a very thick spanish accent. The guy sounded completely different. In either case, the Mayor character was just brave enough to let Gordon and Dent do their attack on the mob, but wasn't nearly as confident about it as they were. Strong, but cautious. Also quirky in how he expressed himself, making him interesting to watch. Overall, I felt that I would really like him as my mayor.
Alfred: It is a shame to me that I must treat Alfred so soon, but he's not really that important in this movie. Alfred takes a bit of a back seat in this film. Alfred has always been, to some extant, an exposition character. Essentially a character whose close enough to the protagonist that at necessary points, the protagonist can plot-dump, verbally wrestle with inner-demons, or explain what he's thinking without it looking too hokey. This is essentially the only role that Alfred really has in this movie, even serving as an expositional excuse for Rachel at one point.
However, though he's an expositional character, he's not a passive one, sometimes even implanting the very thoughts that Batman is going to act on eventually. Alfred demonstrates a constant concern for Wayne's well being, as well as source of normalcy, but also possesses a profoundly insightful objectivity, being the first character to really grasp what the Joker is about. He's comic relationship with Bruce also makes the necessary exposition scenes run comfortably.
Rachel Dawes: Rachel is a character made up just for the movies. This makes her presence interesting to me as a Batman fan, since I have no precedent to judge her by. What's great about her in this movie is that she is so different than the last movie, due to a change of actress. I don't mean to say that Gyllenhaal's Dawes was better than Holmes', but I think it was good to see this kind of change in the second film. This gives the series permission to do something similar later on when other main actors finish with the series.
Overall, this Dawes is happier. Her dream is coming true: Gotham is becoming safe. Additionally, she is in with the very men causing it to happen: Bruce Wayne, Harvey Dent, and even Jim Gordon who she calls a friend. To some degree she is the damsel in distress, much like she was in the first movie, but also like in the first movie she fights back, and displays bravery and passion. She presents herself as a woman of principle in both movies, and this is how she remains consistent between the two.
Lucius Fox: I'm not sure if I like how involved Fox is in this movie. Quite frankly, I felt that way about the last movie, and this one took it further. Still, given what they did in the first movie, what they did here was quite appropriate.
Two things of note (spoiler alert). First, there is the way that Fox handles both the asian accountant, as well as the guy that figures out Batman's identity. It showed a rhetorical cleverness and gave you a lot of respect for him. The second bit is how Fox helps Batman in working the radar system, for lack of a better word. Classically, that would be something that Alfred would do. Here, it is an opportunity to show Fox's integrity in that he doesn't like the idea of the power that it gives Bruce, and it shows Bruce's confidence in him, as well as Bruce's expectation that he would react the way he did. We receive a very competent, reliable man full of integrity.
Jim Gordon: Jim is much more heavily featured in this movie than in the last one. In the first one, Gordon is simply established because he is part of the Batman world. In this movie, Batman, Dent and Gordon are the main characters. That triad is the primary subject of film.
Here, Gordon is the pragmatist. He's the guy that does what he can do in order to get the job done. He's not really a hero because he compromises on his ideals to get the job done. One of the big plot points is that Gordon has assembled a highly trained detective force in order to take down the mob. However, most of this force consists of officers that were investigated by Dent when he was in internal affairs. At one point, Dent criticizes Gordon for this, and Gordon says, "If I didn't let detectives you investigated on, I wouldn't have anyone at all." This best demonstrates this pragmatist attitude.
Two things of note (spoiler alert). The whole thing they do with Gordon getting shot is simply awesome. First of all, even I was really unsure as to whether or not he was dead. Second, when he comes back, the entire theater cheered! And that scene with him and his wife was absolutely fantastic. It also sets up for what happens later, since the reason why Gordon does this is to protect his family.
The second thing of note is Dent going after Gordon. It is kind of surprising since Gordon wasn't corrupt and wasn't involved in the kidnapping of Rachel. But Dent saw Gordon as partly responsible because it was members of his force that did the kidnapping. Therefore, the very thing that Gordon was protecting from Joker was now attacked by Dent, and Gordon was completely helpless. When he insists on thanking Batman and the last speech that he give about Batman to his son shows that he is now committed to Batman, regardless of what else happens. It will be interesting to see what the do with him in the next movie.
Harvey Dent/Two-Face: Before Dent becomes Two-Face, his is a tough guy. A no fear district attorney who is committed to ending corruption and the mob. There is a purity about him in that his motivations are so honest. They often play with the idea that Dent leaves things to chance, hinting toward Two-Face, except that he really isn't since he is using a double-faced coin. The one "interrogation" scene is absolutely awesome, comparing Batman's technique and Dent's. Dent, even without Two-Face, is an awesome character, and because he was so honest, it is a real tragedy when he falls.
Bruce Wayne even completely believes in him, saying to Gordon that he was the best of the three. What is interesting is that Dent believes in Batman just as much, often acting as his one apologist in a world that is primarily critical of him. His comparison of Batman to the Roman dictator, which was a temporary position held by one man in only extreme circumstances who was above all rulers and laws is particularly telling. His sole purpose was to get Rome out of a crisis. The point of this comparison was both the perceived temporariness of Batman's mission as well as his need. This comparison also seems to be what persuades Bruce Wayne into much of his choices throughout the movie. (Side note, the mention of the Roman dictator as well as the direct reference to Caesar could also be a reference to the First Triumvirate which was a powerful political alliance in Roman times consisting of Caesar, Cassus, and Pompey. This could be compared to the alliance of Batman, Dent, and Gordon, perhaps relating Batman and Dent to Pompey and Caesar who eventually became enemies. Hero to villain allusion also foreshadows Dent's eventual fall).
Then he becomes Two-Face. First of all, this is a very different Two-Face than in the comics. The Two-Face that we've all come to know and love is marked with a multiple-personality syndrome. Essentially, you have Dent (good) and Two-Face (bad). Two-Face is the stronger personality. The Two-Face personality isn't so much as evil, as he is selfish, like most simple criminals. What makes the character fascinating is the dual interest. The Two-Face personality is a mob boss interested in money and revenge. Dent remains an attorney seeking justice and goodness. One's selfish, the other is selfless. Indeed, this personalities are so different that they can only truly agree on one standard by which to judge their actions: chance. Thus Two-Face uses a coin to determine which of his two personalities he will act upon.
In the movie, Two-Face doesn't possess multiple personality. (spoiler alert)Instead, Two-Face is truly Harvey Dent, but a broken man. It is the lose of the love of his life, and the injustices surrounding that lose, which causes him to loose his faith in institutional justice. Mark that. Two-Face's criminal activity isn't merely a selfish criminal, but a man seeking justice. He is a vigilante. Indeed, Dent, through out the movie, is compared to Batman, and here we are comparing Batman's form of vigilantism with Two-Face's. In Batman Begins Ras 'al Gul describes a vigilante as "a man lost in the scramble for his own gratification." That is exactly what Two-Face here is, while Batman remains above this description, constantly willing to sacrifice himself and his reputation for good of others. Two-Face is seeking gratification over the loss of Rachel, and is specifically targeting those he feels are responsible. The use of the coin is that chance is the only form of justice left. It's almost a love hate relationship with chance, since he sees his own misfortune as a product of it.
The targeting of the two corrupt cops and Maroni makes a lot of sense. Also the coin toss for Joker. These are the ones directly responsible for Rachel's death. What is interesting is that he then goes after Gordon. This is where he really passes from being a tragic misguided vigilante to being a villain, though he still sees himself in the form of a vigilante. He's reasons for going after Gordon is a move from direct responsibility to indirect. Gordon is responsible because he allowed corrupt cops into his unit. However, he intends to hurt Gordon the way that he was hurt. This is a different MO than what he did with the others he hunted. What makes the most sense to me, is that Gordon was that Gordon had the audacity to think that he was sorry. He had to prove to Gordon first that he wasn't really sorry, and in order to do that, he had to inflict Gordon with the same pain that he felt: the loss of a loved one. Eventually he turns on Batman and himself after Batman makes the point that all three of them are responsible since they went after the mob, starting the whole thing going.
Joker: Ah, the Joker. The Joker is everyone's favorite villain. Here are the things that make Joker Joker:
- Commits crime out of pleasure rather than personal gain
- Crimes have an artistic vibe.
- His "calling cards" are an actual joker card, and a forced smile on his victims faces
- He has a permanent smile on his face
- He makes you laugh while feeling horrified.
- Incredibly vain. He shows off, and loves to explain his cleverness, especially to Batman.
There are several things that make this Joker different than the typical one. First of all, instead of bleached skin and a huge red smile, he wears makeup and has scars from what's called a Glasgow smile. A Glasgow smile is where you make cuts from the corners of the mouth to the ears. This is his permanent smile, as well as how he leaves a forced smile on his victims (the traditional Joker uses a venom or gas). This is probably in an attempt to make the Joker more realistic, which seems to be an overall objective of the series.
The other marked difference between this Joker and the traditional one is appearance and demeanor. Having a sort of grunge look, this Joker looks messier, as if he doesn't care what he looks like. The traditional Joker is far more interested in the concept of "presence", something that Batman is a master of. Also, this Joker isn't as much of a physical rival as the traditional one. The original Joker story has Joker as the first person to defeat Batman in hand to hand combat, though only to be defeated shortly there after. This Joker has a conspicuous limp, as well as a vague way of speaking, as if he doesn't always entirely know what his thinking or going to say. This gives off the appearance that he doesn't know what he's doing, resulting in people underestimating him.
It is difficult to pinpoint the motivations of this Joker. He seems just to enjoy chaos. One cannot trust anything he says about himself since it is constantly changing, and often it seems that he believes what he needs to believe about himself at the time to achieve his objective.
(spoiler alert) His brilliance in the movie is his ability to be several steps ahead of everyone else, often having his next scheme already underway during his current one. For instance, when he is attacking Harvey on the road, he already has planned his break out of prison, and the kidnapping of Harvey and Rachel, despite the fact that he is supposed to think that Harvey is Batman at the moment. This is why I don't really take him seriously when he talks to Dent saying that his objective is to prove the schemers how futile their schemes are.
Personally, it seems to me that Joker is simply attempting to prove his superiority. Prove that his perspective on morality is better than the common man, that his position on money is better than the mob, and that he is smarter that the Gotham Triumvirate. All other explanations he gives seem merely to be a pretense.
In some ways his simpler in psychology to the usual Joker. However, his planning skill seems to be equal to him, if not surpassing him.
Batman: Not as much time was spent on developing Batman's character in this movie as last movie. That's a natural consequence of spending so much time with Dent and Joker. Hollywood seems unable to realize that if they don't burn through Batman's whole rouge gallery in three movies, that they can have a lot more blockbusters, as well as more character enriched plotlines. Ah, well.
What I love most about Batman is a particular trait that I share with him. We are both cynical idealists. What I mean by this is that I am cynical about the world: about the motivations of humans and ability of humans to fix things. However, I am idealistic about God and the church. I believe the church can fix anything because it is organized and run by God. It has not achieved this so far because we keep usurping Him, but God is all powerful, all wise, and benevolent. Therefore, though I constantly see depravity and darkness around me, I choose to hope.
Likewise, Batman is cynical about people, government, even himself. However, he still fights for an ideal: he lives for it, and is willing to die for it. That ideal is that one man can make a difference. That ideal is that humanity can be saved from itself. And he believes this, despite that absolute corruption that is around him.
This movie shows off Batman's idealistic side a lot. First of all, he believes that he will not have to be Batman forever. And believe me, no one wants Batman Forever. Once Gotham is on its feet again, and the system begins to actually work, Batman can retire. The second thing is that he believe Harvey Dent is the one who can accomplish this. He says Harvey is the hero that Batman could never be: a symbol of hope instead of fear. However, it is Batman and not Harvey that lives up to this standard. An agent of self-sacrifice and unwarranted hope, Batman continues to fight and live for a better Gotham, even after Dent falls.
September 11, 2008
I posted this on my website July 22nd, 2008. It represents my fundamental view of God's sovereignty. I posted it then after I had first submitted it to SEA. It still has not been published there, but once it is, it will include a link here for comment. Please, I'm truly interested in feedback on my views here.
I'm Free and God Is Still Sovereign
by Martin Glynn
Over and over and over again I am told that I do not truly believe that God is sovereign. Sure, I think I believe it, but God can't really be sovereign if He doesn't minutely control every little thing that came to pass. Besides, didn't King George's sovereignty mean that he caused each blade of grass in his kingdom to move? I digress.
My intent here is to define as succinctly as possible my personal perspective as to the relationship between God's sovereignty and our freedom to choose. This does not define the position of all Arminians, or even all the members of SEA. This is my understanding. Let any flaw you find be on my head and no others. Let us begin.
Pure and simple, sovereignty means that you are king, hence the King George comment above. I find it interesting that Calvinists have attached attributes to the meaning of sovereignty that could never apply to an earthly king. It is alright to say that such attributes are a logical result of God being king, but it is a gross error to attach them to the definition of the term. However, what makes one a king?
A king is one who has the authority, right, and power to demand, and there in cause, his will to be manifested within his realm with the objective of maintaining the quality of life for the citizens within that realm.
So what would it mean for God to be king? It would mean that whenever God decrees something to happen, it will happen. Here's the rub: it does not demand that everything which happened God decreed. That is an illogical leap. This is also important, if God did not decree everything, that means if something happens which He did not decree, it does not necessarily go against His sovereignty.
Ok, let's say, I accidentally drop this fantastic cup of milk which I am drinking. If God decreed that I shall drop the cup, and I drop it: God is still sovereign. If God decreed that I shall hold on to the cup, and I drop it, then I have just undermined God's sovereignty. However, if God has said absolutely nothing about whether I drop the cup or not, and I drop it, then God is still sovereign as long as we maintain the fact that He could have decreed it if He had wanted to.
God has the right and power to do whatever it is He pleases, and if God pleases not to decree something one way or the other, it is His right and power not to. We have no right to say that he must decree it or He forfeits His sovereignty. That's silly! (at best) No, we declare God to be sovereign, regardless of how He chooses to do things or not to do things.
I don't like to talk about free will too much. I don't think it is an apt focus for what it is we are trying to say. I would agree with the definition of free will as contrary choice, but even then, I would say that the basic point is that our will has true consequences on what will be in the future, no matter how slight those consequences may be. Therefore, what I prefer to talk about is human contingency.
Human contingency is the understanding that God has determined that particular events and ends shall be contingent upon the human will. What is important to note is that only particular events and ends are contingent, which means that others are not. The ones which are and the ones which aren't are determined by God. However, those which are are truly contingent.
Now there are a lot of things which are left up to the human will. For instance, I agree with Martin Luther that the color of my socks were probably determined by me. What's important to the Arminian position is that the whether or not one will have saving faith is contingent upon the will of that one. After all, that's what makes us Ariminian. But the point is that those things are contingent on our will because God either let's them be because He doesn't care about the color of our socks, or because God explicitly decrees that this end will definitely be contingent because He wants it that way.
But, no human will is completely free. We are restricted by boundaries. Think of a baby in a play pen. Within that play pen, the baby can do whatever he wants, but there are boundaries set up by the sovereign parents that prevent the baby from certain activities. Additionally, what else is in the pen is determined by the parents, not by the baby. Likewise, God puts boundaries on us, that we cannot cross. The general ones are as follows:
What I want to know, what I am dying to know, is how God is not sovereign given the descriptions above? I fail to understand this accusation, given to us time and time again. So please, explain: how?
September 10, 2008
I made this post May 24th, 2008. I believe it is rather self explainatory
What is a Christian?You would think this would be a simple question to answer, but lately it seems that the line has become ambiguous to many. The most simple and accurate definitions would be one who has been born again of the Spirit, and is a member of the people of God. However, the basic problem with both of those definitions is that they speak to realities that we cannot measure.
Therefore, for the sake of our purposes of determining who is a Christian and who is not, the best definition would be one who believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ and lives out its implications. What is the gospel of Christ? It is the Christ event. The gospel is good news, and intrinsic to the definition of news of a particular event in time and space. For the gospel, this is the Christ event. Any definition of gospel that does not have the Christ event as its center defies the very nature of what gospel means. So what is the Christ event. It is:
- The Incarnation: Or more simply put, the birth. The event where the Son of God came down and took the form of a human and dwelt among us. He lowered Himself to our level; got His hands dirty so to speak. This also demands that the gospel is centered upon one particular person, or a particular gender, of a particular race and nationality, at a certain time in history: Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew in the first century.
- The Sacrificial Atonement: Or more simply, the death. However, it isn't just believed that Jesus died, but that His death is a sacrifice through which we are redeemed. He died for us, in our place.
- The Resurrection: Or more simply, the... resurrection... I guess there really isn't a simpler word for it. However, it is not just that Christ rose from the grave, but that through His resurrection, Christ defeated death, and the powers of darkness, which no longer have any power over us.
- The Parousia: Or more simply, the return. Even though this event has not happened yet, it was promised us, and is attached to the gospel. This world is temporary.
So what are the implications of the gospel? Well, this is where Christians begin to argue, and for the sake of keeping things simple, I will refrain from producing a list. However, any attempt to make something central which cannot be demonstrated to necessarily derive from the above four facts is erroneous. The gospel is the center of Christian faith, and nothing else.
September 9, 2008
Now we are getting really recent. Here is another movie review, but this is strictly a fun movie, Iron Man. There is nothing theological here. I just love movies. Indeed, before I was called to the ministry, I wanted to be a film director. Here is my review of Iron Man posted May 8, 2008
The plot of the movie was really excellent. The origin story for Iron man is accurate to the comics, with the heart battery, Yin Sen, and the need of building a suit to escape. The person that originally captured Tony in the comics was Mandarin, but he would have been rather corny on film (he has magic rings). I believe his kidnappers playing with his rings was a little nod to the Mandarin though. Yin Sen was rather annoying at first, choosing to morally chastise Stark until he realizes that Stark is trying to escape. Then he redeems himself.
The choice of the Iron Monger as a doppelganger villain was rather excellent as well. For origin stories, it is often best to tie the man villain in with the origin, like Ras al Gul in Batman Begins, or Norman Osborn with Peter Parker in Spiderman. Because you have so little time, you need to try and keep the movie to one plot, which means intergrading the origin of the hero with the battle of the first villain. Since the creation of the Iron Monger suit moves with the creation of the Iron Man suit, plus the parallel professions of Stark and Stane, integrating the villain in was done smoothly.
Because most of the origin of Iron Man takes place in a lab, as opposed to the powers just coming to him, and good part of the film had to be devoted simply to the logistics of building the armor. They managed to do this with enough humor to avoid it being tedious. (plus the first fight with the final Iron Man armor in the desert was awesome!)
One of the key points of the movie was a demonization of weaponry, or iron mongers as Stane says at one point. It manages to walk the line between being anti-military, and being anti-weapons. Indeed, Tony doesn't seem to shun the military, or go against the US, but is mearly trying to keep his weapons out of the hands of terrorists. He doesn't have a problem with weapons, but is upset when they are used by the enemies of America. This doesn't really seem to change. He simply stops trusting his own company and his customers to keep the weapons out of the wrong hands. Indeed, most of the anti-weapon attitude comes from Stane's interpretation of Stark's opinion, rather than Stark's own words.
The heart battery was done poorly in my opinion. It doesn't really explain how a perpetual battery is needed to keep things out of his heart, and how just turning it off and on keeps him alive. I know this was the orginial story arch in the comics, but I think a glorified pacemaker would make more sense at this point. That's the way it seems to function, yet that's not the way it is explained.
No comment on the scene after the movie other than its awesome.
The action sequences are really good. The first one where Tony is escaping is a perfect blend of realism and sci-fi. Because we are dealing with the original suit as it was made from scrap, it should feature problems/imperfections. These keep the scene believable and funny. Instead of a superhero, you get more of a tank kind of feel to it, like you are watching a war movie. The camera movement felt more like a war movie as well. This, with the chaos factor being way up, made the scene believable, as well as suspenseful. Out of 5, I give it a 4
The first battle with the armor against the terrorists was essentially showing off what the suit can do. It made you believe that here are some features that helped out here, but that his full power wasn't really used. He walks around with an invincible swagger that gave the scene the perfect feel. This is especially true in the way he handles the tank and the hostage situation as mere nuances instead of real threats. Out of 5, I give it a 5.
The jet scene that follows wasn't so much an action scene since Tony wasn't really fighting the jets. It was more a revelation of the suit to Rhodes. The scene has a lot of suspense, as well as demonstrating that these jets could still beat him (that may not have been true if we were willing to fight back). Out of 5, I give it a 3. Passable, but not really memorable, for the action anyway.
The final scene with Iron Monger wasn't quite as good. Some of the action was confusing. Mind you, it was still a fantastic fight scene, but it suffered some of the problems of Dirty Harry with the scene being a bit too dark for a lot of it. Also, the way he wins in the end was confusing: how did that blast not kill Tony? I mean really? It just seems to knock him out of the way, and he was just lucky to survive. Still the feeling of desperation was fantastic; I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Out of 5, I give it a 3.5.
They did an absolutely perfect job of Tony. They got the full complexity of the character. He truly beleives in the American government in the beginning, and never stops believing in the American ideal. It shows his immorality in the beginning as immoral and unfulfilling, and you dont see him engaging in it after his conversion, though his recklessness remains. The character is based more on the ultimate version than the original, which is further demonstrated by the hidden scene at the end. His first press conference when he comes back is a beautiful expression of his current vulnerablity and new found direction. Further, they keep him consistant without keeping him rigid.
Rhodes they don't do enough with to find something to complain about. What they do with him is great, and the reference to him becoming War Machine just before the final battle was tastefully done.
Pepper they did wonderfully. They didn't overemphasize the romance between her and Stark, which is what I was worried about, and kept her character intact. Also, they played with her in the plot line in a way that was very respectful to the character. The scene where she is caught by Stane was beautiful.
They showed Happy, but they never named him. For those who aren't Iron Man fans, the two civilian assistants that Stark has are Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan. In the movie, Jon Favreau is in multiple scenes in the beginning. He's the guy that raced Stark to the jet plane, and he's the one that Stark turns to when the attractive but obnoxious reporter comes up to him. In the credits, he is under "Hogan", and is clearly a reference to Happy. This was more of a fun throw in, and I enjoyed it.
Stane was nothing like he was in the comics. I dont mind that. Quite frankly, I was expecting that. Stane was what they needed him to be, and no one else could have worked. It was slightly on par with Batman Begins treatment of Ras Al Gul. His character was tweaked a bit to intertwine him in with the origin. The character that they turned Stane into was exactly what the story needed. He performed the part beautifully.
Overall, I think the movie was excellent. I would say on par with the original Spiderman, impact wise.
September 8, 2008
This I wrote shortly after watching the movie. Though I am a Creationist I have a lot of respect for the ID movement. One needs to remember that there is a difference between the two, but since their conclusions support our position, and since their objectives are the same as ours, I see no reason not to support the movement. So I do. This was first posted April 24th, 2008
The Objective of the Intelligent Design Movement
This is brief, but I gave it its own header to highlight this section. The objective of the Intelligent Design movement (ID) is not to bring religion into the schools. It is to allow the hypothesis of a creator to be considered viable within academic circles and to allow the ideas of Darwinism to the challenged in healthy scientific dialogue.
The Primary Message of the Ben Stein Movie
The primary message of Expelled is that of an exposé, specifically exposing the persecution of associates of the Intelligent Design Movement within Academia. Stein is not a scientist, nor does he claim to be. But, he is a political expert with a law degree, and it is the breaking of the first amendment that he has a problem with. His claim is that these are intelligent people asking relevant scientific questions that are being ostracized for not supporting Darwinism.
Part of exposing this is distinguishing between Intelligent Design and Creationism, showing that particular scientists have been mistreated, and showing their ideas to be relevant and viable.
Intelligent Design and Creationism
The film makes a strong distinction between the Intelligent Design movement and Creationism. Indeed, the film uses the term Creationism and Creationist in an almost derogatory fashion (or at least makes no effort to correct its derogatory use by the interviewees). Though as a Creationist, this somewhat bothered me, I also realized that it was necessary to do for the point of the film.
So the question is, is there really a difference? The answer is yes. It has to do with the ordo repertum or the order in which ideas were discovered (totally made up that Latin phrase). The idea of Creationism is that one first concludes from the Christian Scripture and theology that God created the world, and then sets out to prove this using science (I say Christian because, historically, Creationism has been a Christian movement, but this term can be applied to other religions as well). Creationism is not a rejection of science, but it is a prioritizing of faith over science. I call myself a Creationist because I am a theologian, not a scientist. I have no qualms putting my faith before my scientific understanding. However, my belief that Christianity is 100% true also means that science should not contradict my faith. Therefore, I do seek to reconcile the two wherever possible.
The Intelligent Design movement, however, prioritizes science over faith. It claims that the existence of a Creator is the most logical hypothesis that one can arrive at considering the scientific data. Indeed, the Intelligent Design movement is, on a whole, unconcerned with one's description of this deity, only the existence of one.
Does the film succeed in making this distinction? I believe so. The film never gave a direct opinion about who the Creator is. Indeed, it even presents Crick's alien theory as an intelligent design theory (though a poorly constructed one born out of a desperate attempt to maintain naturalism in light of design phenomena). One flaw may be in the Discovery Institute, which was stated to be misrepresented by my brother-in-law. I would need to do more research to be sure, but I trust Matt's opinion enough to question the film's representation.
However, I think the film did too good of a job here. In an attempt to distance itself from Creationism, I fear that it may have affronted many Creationists. Though not everyone who believes in ID is a Creationist, all Creationists do believe in ID, and there are more of us among the masses than any other ID believer. Therefore, by insulting Creationists, he may also have cast off his largest base of support among the masses. This is unfortunate, since all it would have taken is a simple statement at one point in the movie to say that Creationism is a legitimate religious position, but that it is not a scientific position.
The Mistreatment of Scientists
I think Ben did an excellent job at this. He interviewed many scientists that have been mistreated (a few of which stated that they weren't Christian), spoke on some of the institutions that had been mistreating them, presented the bias of the Darwinists (great job here), and showing these scientists to be intelligent (I was most impressed with the guy in France, though he was from NYC). The interview with Alister McGrath, and prestigious evangelical theologian from England, was of great importance, demonstrating the historical fallaciousness of naturalism (the belief that supernatural explanations prevent true scientific inquiry).
The Viability of ID
There was a lot that Ben could have done here that he didn't. I guess this is because his primary issues were political: freedom of inquiry. He focused on the problems of information theory in regards to DNA, and the complexity of the inner-workings of the cell. Indeed, the computer generated demonstration of the inner-workings of the cell is worth watching in of itself. Clearly the most awe-striking scene in the film.
However, there was plenty that he was missing. For instance, the unique nature of the human mind, the peerlessness of Earth's life-providing attributes, the irreducible complexity of proteinic systems, the scantness of the fossil record, and much more.
Ben's Personal Journey
Any good film has some kind of structure to it, and the best kind of structure for film is story. This is difficult for documentaries (that aren't historical anyway) since their purpose is to provide information. When they do use a story, it is based off of someone learning the information being provided: either a fictitious student, or the personal journey of the speaker from skeptic to believer. This film used the latter.
Ben states that he was fully convinced of Darwinism since it was good science and assumed that academia promoted the freedom on inquiry. Then he heard that Richard Sternberg was fired simply for publishing an ID article in a scientific journal. This starts Ben into an investigation into the validity of ID, as well as its persecution. To this end, I see two problems with the film.
First of all, throughout the film there are these black and white flashes, often making fun of what was just said. Though these were funny, and, quite frankly, often persuasive, they came in too early in the plot line. If we are going to be in this life journey that Ben is going through, then we need to be in the same place as Ben in the story line at any given moment. However, when we have the privilege of "seeing the silliness" of the atheists' claims before Ben does, it makes us feel manipulated, and takes away the rhetorical power of the story structure.
Second of all, because Ben Stein is Jewish, the exposure of the Nazis reliance on Darwinism became highlighted, even belabored. This was an important moment in the story arch, representing a link between Darwinism and Ben's most hated philosophy. If the story arch is going to ring true, this point needed to be belabored a bit. Indeed, he mentions briefly that the same arguments used by the Nazis are also used for abortion and euthanasia, but he only briefly mentions these because they do not hold the same value for the plot of the film.
The negative side of this is by belaboring a point that the movie itself admits is not sufficient to reject Darwinism, it adds another sense of manipulation. My brother felt more manipulated, and missed this as a validation of Ben's life journey. This is an extremely relevant point to me, because my brother is an adept connoisseur of film, and picks up on what most miss. If he didn't notice that the point of it was a validation that this was really how Ben's point of view was shaped, and I'd expect most others to miss it too.
If I had to rate this on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 would be a joke, 2 would be only taken seriously by hard-core believers, 3 being interesting but not convincing, 4 being convincing only to fence sitters, and five being world view shattering eye-opening masterpiece) I would rate this as a four, maybe three and a half. Because of the problems I mentioned before, only those going in there willing to be convinced will come out convinced of anything, and it will raise few doubts in the eyes of most Darwinists. The only thing I think it is truly persuasive about is that these scientists are being persecuted and shouldn't be. I think this is also Stein's main point, thus the 4.
Overall, I say go see it.
September 7, 2008
One of the things that I have been thinking about lately is how a Christian should properly consider the famous, especially famous Christians. Becoming famous changes a great many things about you. First of all, you become more well known (duh). This means that anyone can talk about you to anyone, and probably will. Everyone will have an opinion of you. This, in general, means that a particular person's opinion of you becomes less meaningful.
Second of all, you become more heavily scrutinized. Everyone has done bad things in the past, but with fame every single one of those bad things becomes news. This is especially true of Christian celebrities, since the world constantly tries to expose Christianity's "hypocracy".
Finally, your opinion's worth becomes inflated. We see this all the time with the common american considering actors to be political experts. This becomes even more exaggerated with those who are teachers. Because they are teachers, they are automatically considered to be experts in every kind of teachings. Theologians are thought to be great exegetes, and visa versa.
This all said, what do I think is the proper Christian treatment of celebrities? We should give them a benefit of the doubt. I've learned to try and avoid criticism of the famous. Others seem far to interested in hearing the bad things I may have to say about so and so.
I've found that many "exposes" about famous people are focused around projecting an entire theology around a single sentence taken out of context. Because the opinions of famous people hold a lot of weight, we need to expose the one's that are intentionally and blantently causing problems. But the ones that are "subtling corrupting? Get over it. Its subtle. It may not really be there. You be blantent with your theology.
Another thing is that we need to be more convinced by what local people say than what famous people say. They teaching may be really good, but we need to have someone local who can sort it out for us, and help us to discern what is good and bad. We cannot trust someone just because they are famous, but we can't denounce someone either, until we are sure they are actually saying what they are saying.
September 6, 2008
This is a fun little article I did based off of Dave Barry's Guide to Guys. It really is just for fun, so please enjoy. I first published it February 3rd, 2007.
Many people don't realize how easy it is to get directions, but I'm here to explain to you how, and why it works. Whenever you're driving, and you are not sure where you are going, all you need to do is stop at any local convenience store. Then you simply have to utter the word 'lost', 'directions', or 'how', and directions will promptly be given.
How do I know this? Its a simply law of physics that at any point in time, there is at least one guy present at any convenience store. Now I don't mean man, I mean guy. For more about the difference between the two, see Dave Barry's Guide to Guys. But the interesting feature of guys that is relevant here is that every guy is incredibly proud of his ability to know how to get around. Therefore, if you offer him a chance to give you directions, to refuse would be in direct opposition to his nature; he wont be able to help himself.
Now how can I guarantee that there is always a guy present? Well it is very simple. Whenever there are no guys present in a convenience store, it causes a masculinity vacuum, or as meteorologists call it, a low masculine pressure system. Just like any other kind of low pressure system, this creates a kind of vortex known as a guy vortex, drawing in any guys in the area. It may accomplish this in a few different ways: low gas prices, causing a guy to have a case of the munchies or need of a beer, or making him think there isn't any milk left at home. These are merely the most basic draws, but as the vortex builds, its techniques become more dangerous, sometimes resulting in an explosion or fire in a desperate attempt to draw guys from the fire department in.
However, one of the most interesting effects is the generation of nag currents. You see, if a guy vortex becomes incredibly powerful, it emits what's known as a nag current, which enters into the subconscious mind of a guy's wife, causing her to nag just hard enough to get the guy to stop and ask for directions. Ironically, if she succeeds in this, his entrance into the convenience store dissipates the low masculine pressure system, meaning that there is no guarantee that another guy is there, or that another guy will come in soon. One can see the danger in this if you consider this scenario:
A guy and his wife take a honeymoon to Washington DC. While there, it seems as if the guy is lost, though in reality he is simply finding his way around. In either case, the wife picks up some nag currents, and is able to convince her new husband to stop at a convenience store. At the same time, a consulate in the area realizes that she can't find a particular spot, and stops at this same convenience store. Now, the only guy there doesn't know how to give her directions, but gives her directions anyway, because, as I said before, he cannot help himself. The result is that she gets more lost than she was, and is late for her conference with the president. The result is her country thinks that the US did something to the consulate, and fires a nuke and DC, and war breaks out.
And this is why you should never ask a guy to stop and ask for directions.
September 5, 2008
What is the difference between I&I?
Looking at the actual words, there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference between the two concepts. One says there is nothing false in Scripture, while the other says there are no errors in Scripture, and technically speaking, there isn't a difference. However, there is a difference in emphasis. For the sake of clarity, let us define the terms as thus:
Infallibility: The belief that the Bible is perfect in content; that which the Bible teaches is 100% accurate.
Inerrancy: The belief that the Bible is perfect in content and form; the Bible is perfect in every way that a piece of writing can be perfect.
It is important to note that given this definition, inerrancy doesn't exclude infallibility. In other words, any one that believes in inerrancy also believes infallibility, but not necessarily the other way around. There are also some oddities when it comes to Inerrancy. For this post, I'm going to be arguing from a infallibility position, and against the concept of inerrancy, and you'll notice that just because the concept of inerrancy makes it sound like it is giving the Bible more authority, it is actually giving it less authority.
Some clarity on the concepts of Form and Content
Because I am trying to describe very broad concepts with the terms 'content' and 'form', I intentionally chose terms that are a bit vague.
The heart of the infallibility vs. inerrancy issue comes down to the nature of communication. In communication, there is a message to be communicated, and a medium through which it is communicated. By 'content', I simply am referring to the message: the content of Scripture is the information that God is dispensing to us.
By 'form', I simply mean the medium. In this case, the medium is literature: the written word. (And by literature, I mean anything written: fiction or nonfiction. In the case of Scripture, we are dealing with nonfiction literature) This includes all of the dynamics of language, written characters, literary genres, and cultural differentiations that are dealt with in regards to any piece of literature.
Mystery and the Incarnation
The theological principle of mystery is a rather complex issue. For the sake of this context I will define it as thus:
Mystery: An aspect of faith that is impossible to perfectly define by words, and can only be understood through prayer and meditation.
Another way of putting it is that in order to understand a mystery, one must put effort in, but language will always fall short in expressing it. But I do believe that all true mystery can be understood through prayer.
There are several key theological concepts in Christianity that are necessarily dealt with as mystery. For instance, the balance between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, the understanding of both God's love and justice, and, of course, the Trinity. However, the mystery that is more at the heart of the Christian faith than any other is the mystery of the Incarnation: Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man.
Throughout history, the incarnation has been so offensive, so irreconcilable, and yet so provocative, that it draws on and excites the human imagination. However, it also presents the constant temptation to solve the tension, and establish one nature over the other. Many fundamentalists and other conservative (or reactionary) movements have focused upon the divine nature of Christ so much, that His human nature becomes completely engulfed and Christ becomes abstract and unreachable. Meanwhile, many liberals have so focused upon Christ's human nature, that they have often taken away His uniqueness and authority. However, a proper theology always tries to maintain and proclaim both natures, and leaves the two natures in tension.
What I propose here is a similar view of Scripture: human and divine. Ironically, it is the same groups that downplay Christ's humanity that also downplay the humanity of Scripture; and it is the same groups that forgo Christ's divinity that also ignore the divine qualities in Scripture. However, I believe a true Christian view sees the written Word the same as the Logos: the Word made physical.
What I am proposing is an infallibilist view (not the only one). I believe Scripture to have a divine content: an infallibly true message and genius, and a divine intent that inspired Scripture and maintained it throughout history. However, Scripture has a human form: it was composed by a human hand from a human perspective and it is couched in frail and difficult human language. Both Scripture's divine content and human form have to be appreciated in considering and interpreting the Scripture.
I&I and Inspiration
With the inerrancy view, one tends to overemphasize the divine element. I literally once heard a person say that with divine inspiration, God not only gave the writer every word to write, but He possibly could have taken over the author's hand to insure perfection. This, of course, is not inspiration, but domination.
Now, not all inerrantists hold that extreme of a position. However, most would say that every term, every play on words, every stroke of the pen was planned and orchestrated by God in some sense and is just a necessarily upheld as the message being presented. They may take seriously that God used a human to accomplish this, and may even take seriously the life and context of that author. However, they view God as the true author, and the humans as glorified writing implements.
Someone that believes in infallibility is far more focused on what is being said, not how. Scripture is inspired by God, but written by humans. The authors' personalities, contexts, and callings are imprinted upon the books they wrote. This makes far more sense to a charismatic who is used to the Spirit entering in and guiding one's words and actions. Often I will say something in the Spirit, and have absolutely no idea how I came up with it. However, my personality and style are still most certainly there. Likewise with the writing of Scripture. There is an anointing on the writer, but this isn't to be confused with possession.
Now I need to make some commentary on historical criticism. Technically the concept of historical criticism is just taking the history of the Bible into account when you interpret. However, in the liberal community, a lot of the historical criticism is more like historical cynicism, and the very authority and content of Scripture is called into question from their methods and critiques. The result is that they limit the content of Scripture to moral teaching. I want to make it clear that this kind of view on Scripture cannot be viewed as infallibility. It is clear that Scripture intends to teach history, and even science in much of its pages. Because it is this information that is being communicated, it is to be considered part of the infallible content. It's an issue of being honest with the text: determining what it is communicating instead of forcing a passage to address the questions that I want it to answer.
I&I and Interpretation
This is the real heart of the issue: how do we interpret the Scripture. We are here to talk about how Scripture is authoritative, and its authority is defined by its use. Something is only an authority in your life if you are submitting it, not if you are using it to promote your own agenda.
Now, if I had to identify the one concept that defines the difference between the infallibility view and the inerrancy view, it is how we view the clarity of Scripture. You see, clarity is a quality of literature, and is an aspect of form. Because of this, someone that views Scripture as perfect in all qualities of literature will view Scripture as perfectly clear. They may say that one needs to the Holy Spirit to make it clear, or they may say that those that don't understand it are being intentionally deceived, but all of this is based upon an expectation that Scripture is perfectly clear to a true Christian.
This may not sound bad to you, and indeed that is not surprising. Clarity is something that many expect to find in a document that is perfect by human standards. However, there are two problems with this. First is a very simple syllogism:
Scripture is perfectly clear to those who are born again
I am born again
Therefore, Scripture is perfectly clear to me
The result of this (and this is my fundamental issue with fundamentalism and the notion of inerrancy) is that a person with an inerrancy view will consider their reading of Scripture to be just as inerrant as Scripture itself. They will tend to be unwilling to consider extra-biblical sources (even a source that is explaining Scripture), unless it is to elucidate on what they already believe to be accurate. What's scary is that this attitude is proper and logical given their view of Scriptural clarity.
The other problem is that they are wrong. The sheer diversity of Scriptural interpretation demonstrates that Scripture is difficult to interpret. The only way to solve this conflict of belief and empirical evidence is to come to the conclusion that none of the other groups have the Holy Spirit. The result is not only a refusal to consider other positions, but a condemnation of anyone holding those other positions. This is a cult attitude, and is very dangerous.
The result is that Scripture is compartmentalized and divided. The text isn't used to form one's thought or soul, but is primarily used as a proof-text to explain why "I am right and everyone else is wrong." Thus the interpreter becomes master of the Scripture: instead of God owning Scripture, you do.
A strict infallibility position views Scripture as difficult to interpret, but possible. The result is that it is easier to admit that you are wrong. The fault can never be placed on the Scripture itself, for the Scripture is never wrong. However, it is very possible that you misinterpreted. This creates humility, and humility is a more Christian attitude.
With the infallibility view, one's interpretive method becomes very dynamic. One feels comfortable using human methods of interpretation: genre, writer, historical context, etc... However, one is also very insistent on praying to God for understanding. The meaning of Scripture becomes something that you are constantly working out.
Interpretation becomes a never-ending process. Because you let yourself to be constantly challenged by Scripture, Scripture is able to form you, and a greater level of depth can be discovered. Moreover, you become more willing to read the Scripture in a spiritual way, using Scripture as a means of meeting God instead of defining Him. In the end, that is what Christianity is all about, that relationship with the Almighty God. Therefore, that is what Scripture is meant for: to enable humans to meet God. That is why He provided it, and that is why He maintains it, even today.
September 4, 2008
These are some podcasts on the subject of homosexuality that I wanted to keep tabs on, as well as my reactions to it. This was posted August 29th, 2006:
These two podcasts are very good, and back my own understanding on homosexuality. Mind you, I find the host of these podcasts to be a generic prat, but I like the speaker. I would like to do more research into this guy though. Curious what you guys think.
Scroll down for "Truths that Transform" and then do a search for "Male Homosexuality".
I will probably add my thoughts later on.
Ok, the speak in the podcast is named Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, and he is a clinician that works for helping men with homosexual issues. The primary thing that he is teaching on here is the nature vs. nurture issue.
First, here is the stance that I have had for some time founded solely on Scripture. Having sexual relations with someone of the same gender is wrong, what ever your reason is. However, considering all the data that I have ever recieved, and agreed that one is born with the problem. Thus, I considered in the same light as original sin: we are all born sinners, and these people are just born with a predisposition for that particular sin. But regardless of the reason why, it is possible to repent and be healed of it.
Dr. Nicolosi argues for the nurture argument. He states that homosexuality is not a sexual issue, but an attempt for a man who does not consider himself to be mascaline to "reach" or "get in touch with" mascalinity. However, he further argues, that this doesn't work since the results leave one feeling less mascaline, and that they only have relationships with men that have the same problem.
He mentions this one comment that a gay man made on a television program. This man saw another man, and said, "I either wanted to be him or have him." Dr. Nicolosi said this is primarily what is going on. They want to be a man, but can't, so they try to possess mascalinity relationally and sexually.
As a side note, he also differentiated between the term "gay" and "homosexual". A homosexual is shorthand for someone with a homosexual problem, someone attract to persons of the same gender. Gay is someone who as adopted the homosexual lifestyle as a self-identification.
As for myself, I'm inclined to believe him, since what he says is consistant with my own thoughts and experience with homosexuals. Additionally, he said that he has had a lot of success. Many men have turned away from homosexuality due to his techniques, which consist primarily of making them confortable with their own mascalinity. The only doubts I really have with what he is saying is that it sounds a bit too good to be true. The fact that I want him to be right makes me doubt whether I am objectively considering what he is saying. However, as of right now, I do support what he is saying, and I am interested in looking into his work.
BTW, he does mentions lesbians here and there. However, he works with men, so he goes into more detail with them. There is also a lot of interesting facts in there, as well his an indepth look at how homosexuality develops in the podcast. please listen to the podcast since you will get a lot more information out of it.
September 3, 2008
Right off the bat, I would like to state that I am ecumenical in my orientation. I consider the RCC, EOC and the Protestant wing all aspects of the church of Christ. When I am critical of Catholicism, it is done with an understanding that these are my siblings in Christ. That said, I have some major issues with the Catholic church. In this post, I used the word heresy to denote theological novelty as opposed to a more condemning sense of the word. I probably would use different language now (hence using archaic above), but I still agree with the assessment that I made here. I posted this October 31st, 2005.
There are many today who are way to critical of the Roman Catholic Church. That said, I still believe that there are some very legitimate strong criticisms to be made about it, especially pre-Vatican II Catholicism.
Last class, we had a Catholic priest come in and give us a run-down of Roman Catholic theology. I would also like to state that this guy based a lot of what he had to say on Vatican II, which means that he had good things to say.
Beforehand, the teacher asked us to develop questions to ask him. Mine was, pretty much, a harsh criticism of the Roman hierarchy, especially the Pope. Due to the plethora of levels of Catholicism I wished to address, I wrote out my question ahead of time in length (I was forced to summarize unfortunately). Here is what I wrote:
The heretic“wills to stand against authenticated, settled truth, opting for independent arbitrary self-willing “other than” or contrary to the settled historical reasoning confirmed by the intergenerational community of believers.” For the sake of convenience, we shall consider heresy to be innovation: the introduction of an idea that was not formally established by the confessing church, and is imposed on the church by a sect or persons, considering their own personal understanding of God as above that of the consensus of the church and the apostolic fathers.
We remember that in the early the church, the patristic fathers gathered and declared in one voice:
I believe in one God the Father Almighty;
Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds [God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures;
and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end
And [I believe] in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life;
who proceedeth from the Father;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Part of this split was due to the filique controversy, hence the reading of the Creed provided before. Whether or not the Spirit proceeds from the Son or not is not the point here: the issue is the methodology utilized by the Roman diocese in this debate. For the sake of argument, I will allow that Roman see is descended from Peter, and thus has an air of primacy about it. However, it was at this time that Rome became ill-content with being the “first among equals” and declared itself the “first among many”, and considered it proper to change that Creed which was the foundation of Christendom without the consent of the full body of Christ.
I see this as blatant heresy: most certainly an innovation that was not formally established by the confessing church, and imposed on the church by the persons at Rome, considering their own personal understanding of God as above that of the consensus of the church. Here Rome considered herself to be so divinely appointed that she had the right to alter all of Christendom without the established consensus required by her fathers.
I see this assumption as a key factor that eventually denied the East of the brotherhood of the West, and denied the West of their brethren from the East. This sense of primacy stole from Rome that appropriate humility required of the servants of God which forced Luthor into reaction instead of his divinely ordained reformation.
So here is my question: by what right had Rome elevated herself by her own will to a higher place of authority than she had previously enjoyed? By what right did Rome alter the Creed of Christ without waiting for His body to actualize her claims? By what right did Rome have to say that “wherefore they err from the right course who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council, as to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff”? What right does the Roman see have to be above the confessing body of God?
(for your convenience, the filique controversy was when Rome had altered the Creed above, and therein declaring Roman authority as something greater than a council. Before that, the ultimate authority was a council because a council was a gathering of representatives from every part of the church. Thus it was a consensus of the entire church, and the voting had to be unanimous to be sure that the Spirit was behind what they were doing.)
His response to this criticism was that this is an issue that is currently in debate within the Catholic Church himself. Thus, he did not truly have an answer since the the church itself has not reached a consensus on this.
Personally, I found his answer adequate since he admitted that it was a legitimate criticism, and that the church was currently working to rectify it. Still, I feel no desire to leave Protestantism whatsoever.
September 2, 2008
I would like to begin this post with a definition of Darwinism and evolution. Evolution (biologically speaking) is the small anatomical changes which occur within biological life that eventually lead to greater changes. This has been demonstrated to happen through genetic mutation which directly causes proteinic changes. The likelihood of these proteinic changes lasting is determined by whether or not the organism manages to produce children, causing overall improvements within the organism's species itself if its children survive better than the rest. This process is a biological fact.
Darwin noticed this process and then proposed further some philosophical thoughts about it:
- He stated (and assumed) that evolution always produces progress: positive change.
- The ultimate fate of humanity is to evolve into something superhuman.
- All lifeforms have a common ancestor and the diversity of life is explained by the process of evolution.
I consider Darwinism, namely these three points, to be wrong.
It is the basic assumption of most Darwinists that evidence of evolution equates evidence of Darwinism. This just isn't the case. It is my attempt here to produce 4 arguments against Darwinism.
Each argument is capable of dismantling the theory on its own within its own field. The purpose of using four is more for breadth than force. Different people are convinced by different kinds of evidence (some can't be convinced regardless of evidence). Thus, having arguments that pertain to various fields of study and forms of thought allow for a fuller arsenal, which allows the creationist a form of "adaptation" for the person with which they are arguing.
The Physical Argument: Argument from Entropy
Entropy is one of the most fundamental laws of science in every field with the exception of biology. The exact definition of entropy varies from field to field, based upon convenience, but the simplest definition is disorder.
It is a general tendency to reduce this to notions of anarchy or chaos. This tendency must be resisted. In fact, a perfectly entropic system is very... static. Indeed, there is an inability to do any work at all: no available energy. Entropy is categorized by:
- Random activity
- Unstable energy systems (or none at all)
- Highly disorganized matter (Iron ore as opposed to iron bars, for example)
According to the Law of Entropy, entropy is always increasing within a closed system. Thus, activity flows from organized to random, energy becomes unusable, energy systems fall apart, and organized matter erodes. This is the natural order of things. And this runs completely against the first premise of Darwinism: evolution produces progress.
Now I am not saying that entropy is a bad thing, but entropy certainly doesn't lend itself to life, where there are complex ecological activities that sustain biospheres, organic bodies which are highly organized with particular elements (most notably O, H, and C), and that these bodies are complex machines running on stable energy systems.
Now, for your amusement, I offer you academia's solution to this problem:
An interesting example of the increase in entropy relates to the theory of biological evolution and to the growth of organisms. Clearly, a human being is a highly ordered organism. The process of evolution from the early macromolecules and simple forms of life to Homo sapiens represents increasing order. So, too, the development of an individual from a single cell to a grown person is a process of increasing order. Do these processes violate the second law of thermodynamics [entropy]? No, they do not. In the processes of evolution and growth, and even during the life of an individual, waste products are eliminated. These small molecules that remain as a result of metabolism are simple molecules without much order in comparison to the macromolecules of life such as DNA and proteins. Thus they represent relatively higher disorder and entropy. Indeed, the total entropy of the molecules cast aside by organisms during the processes of evolution and growth is greater than the decrease in entropy associated with the order of the growing individual.
-Giancoli, Douglas, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, ed 3, Prentice Hall, 2000, pp. 534
Now, what this guy is talking about is basically a bunch of crud, literally. Because life produces waste product: entropy is increasing. OK, technically he isn't j.ust talking about fecal matter, but dead corpses as well. However, there in lies another problem. You see, dead biological waste is cleaned up by other lifeforms. Though I agree with the statements above in regards to organism growth, it doesn't really follow from evolution itself.
In order for the entropy argument to really work, what you have to do is look beyond individual organisms. There can always be a claim that the entropy went somewhere else. Instead, look at the entire ecosystem. Compare the primordial world to the present one. Rock composition was primarily igneous (highly disorganized), and a great ocean filled with random elements that eventually form the basic building blocks of life. Now actually compare that to the biosphere of today. Look at the whole world. Is entropy up or down? Its down, and that just isn't right. According to the quote above, even life processes follow the laws of entropy. So why is this world more organized, more advanced, than the one that came before it?
[personal note: it was this evidence that made me doubt the scientific integrity of Darwinism. However, because I assumed it was proved in other areas, I just basically assumed that God took care of the entropy issue. Thus, I became more convinced of my Theo-evolutionary stance, thinking that atheistic evolution was just illogical]
The Theological Argument: Argument from Original Sin
There are some who ask, "Why do Christians make such a big deal out of this? Why can't Christians just say that God created life using Darwin's process?" Well, this would be a good question if God as Creator was the only issue at stake. One could say that it doesn't matter how God created, as long as it is affirmed that he did. But there are certain methods of creation that we can easily rule out, even if one doesn't reference Genesis 1. There are essential issues at stake which get to the core of Christianity: why am I here? Why is there pain in the world?
When God created the world, He made man in His image. This means that man was God's representative in creation. It was man's role to love the Lord and to take care of his creation. When Adam sinned, man lost his righteousness, which meant that he became more inclined to evil than good. He passed this trait on to his children. Because of this, we no longer can commune with God the way in which we were designed. Additionally, we no longer treat each other rightly, and have lost the ability to take care of the world. Because of this, death, destruction, and despair entered into the world, none of which was there before. There was no death, at all, before Adam, and even creation itself was less hostile. Things like hurricanes and tornadoes are a result of man's inability to take care of creation.
In Darwin's system, what determines whether or not a particular trait is passed down to later generations is whether or not this trait makes it more likely to survive. This is called natural selection. It is through this process that life advances and is sustained.
Now, let us reduce these two systems so we get a more direct comparison.
- Christian: Man causes death
- Darwin: Death causes man
I do not see how these two systems are compatible when they are reduced as such. Which is it: Is death the result of man's disobedience, or is it the method through which God does away with the weak to create stronger and superior beings? Which one sounds like the Christian God?
Now, I am not saying that natural selection doesn't occur. It does: within a sinful world. However, how can a Christian justify natural selection as the normative means of God's creative activity?
[Personal note: It is through this argument that I rejected theoevolution]
The Biological Argument: The irreducible complexity of proteinic systems
I do not believe I can do this argument justice, so everyone who finds this interesting, read Darwin's Blackbox by Michael Behe. The true appeal of this argument is that it deals with evolution on its most fundamental level.
The idea of irreducible complexity is important. Just because something is complex, it doesn't mean that it couldn't have been produced through gradual changes. Something is irreducibly complex when the entire system shuts down and becomes useless if any element of the system is removed. Such a system could not be produced gradually because it can have no precursors.
To be honest, I do not think that it is possible to overstress irreducible complexity in this argument. It is the focal issue. For further clarification, let us consider a mousetrap:
A mousetrap is composed of 5 components: hammer, latch, base, spring, and the bar to hold the hammer down. If any of these components are missing, the entire trap becomes useless. This is Behe's example of a rudimentary irreducible complex system. The ones in biology tend to be a lot more complicated, with far more difficult names.
The existence of irreducibly complex protein systems makes Darwin's theory impossible. Since evolution is caused by genetic mutation, and genetic mutation alters proteins, the irreducibly complex proteinic systems could not have evolved into being. Basically It is the gradualness of evolution that makes it impossible. If it evolved, then there were simpler versions of the system that came before it. Irreducible complexity rules out the possibility of predecessors. Considering that there are millions of these systems in biology on every level of life, Darwin cannot account for the origin of species.
[Personal note: This argument didn't affect me as dramatically as the preceding two, but I it gave me a more profound sense of confidence, because Darwinism could not even make sense within the confines of biology]
The Historical Argument: Separating philosophy from science
It is through recent study that I began to consider this argument, so it is not fully formed, and would probably require more research to propose in full force. The basic attack is not so much on the actual ideas of Darwinism, but the originality and objectivity of the idea.
If one examines the 19th century, one finds that the prevalent thoughts were the remnants of the Enlightenment. People believed in the absolute supremacy of human logic. They believed that humans could master the world, and the notion of God, by merely figuring things out. It was in this atmosphere that science first began to be worshipped, and it was seen as the primary means of interacting with the divine.
A more important feature of Enlightenment thought is the overall notion of progress. 'Humanity is in a constant state of progress, and as such, all other cultures before modern Western culture are inferior and savage'. Because of this, novelty began to be equated with improvement, and change with progress.
Because of this, Christianity was already looked down upon as archaic and irrelevant. It wasn't really because it was irrational, but because it was old and counter-intuitive to the ethos of the day. Christianity spoke of revelation over science, human depravity over human omnicompotence, and faith over reason. It wasn't that Christianity didn't like science or reason, but only if they are used to further demonstrated God, which is of superior importance. On top of that, there was an over all sense of rebellion which came out of the Reformation that viewed Christianity and the Bible itself as an institution that man had to be freed from. One can see that a lot of these ideas haven't really gone away, though they have been disproven.
The notion of progress is the most important aspect of all of this. All of the scholars of this period sought to incorporate the concept into their area of study: Hegel did it with history, Marx did it with economy, Freud did it psychologically, Nietzsche did it theologically, and Darwin did it biologically. Even though the only one of these figures which proceeded Darwin was Hegel, it is important to note that the same basic philosophies can be seen in all of them.
The point is that Darwin didn't exist in a vacuum. The relevance of progress that "resulted" from the notion of evolution is just as strongly stated in the writings of Thomas Jefferson (who was a deist, and wrote considerable amount of philosophical works using enlightenment categories). Deism (the belief that God created the world, but never interjected afterwards) was already making God irrelevant to the lives of westerners. All Darwin really added, philosophically, was that he allowed deists to become atheists.
This is my proposal: Darwin looked at the world and noted natural selection occurring (oh the glorious finches). Then, based on the prejudices of his day, he added that evolution is positive change, that humans are continually progressing, and that all living things can traced to a common ancestor. The data itself wouldn't have lent itself to these conclusions if the overall progressive prejudices did not already exist in his mind.
This brings me full circle back to my introduction. Darwinism does not equal evolution. Darwinism is the projection of Enlightenment philosophy onto an actual biological process. Ironically, it was this same Enlightenment philosophies that brought us the world wars, communism, and all the various atrocities of the 20th century. It is these Enlightenment philosophies that have become outdated and rejected. Why are we still holding on to a man's conclusions based off of premises that we have proven to be wrong?