Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Clockfort.org!

http://clockfort.org
Self explanatory.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oops. There's A Reason They Can Use That Info For ID!

So here is my situation. I'm a conservative voter attending college in a state guaranteed to go blue this election (as far as political guarantees go.) My home residence is in a big swing state. So, naturally, I'm going to vote via absentee ballot so my vote actually means something. Since I'm supporting McCain this time around, I filled out the ballot request request form on their website. (Yes, you have to request a postcard that is a request for a ballot. Oh well.) This postcard comes with no envelope, and is rather large. To legally identify myself, I have to write my driver's license number, the last 4 digits of my social security number, or include a copy of a photo ID or government document with my name and address. There is no way I am sending any of these things through the mail without an envelope. There is a reason they can be used to legally identify me. I'm supposed to be the only one outside the government who knows these things. Oh well. The McCain campaign is printing and sending these things, and I'll be writing them to complain. I'll post the email address here when I'm less lazy and you all can email them too.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Faith, Fact, and Logic: Do They Really Conflict?

Most people understand that religion is based on faith. In fact, this is a frequent criticism of religion and Christianity. Many people dismiss religion on the basis that faith cannot be grounded in fact and logic. By the same token, many Christians dismiss logic and science as incompatible with their faith. Both positions are false, flawed, and stem from a flawed understanding of the nature of faith.

Blind or Far-Seeing?

This flawed understanding holds that faith is a blind belief, a belief made purely arbitrarily with no logical grounds. To justify this position, both sides point to John 20:29: “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”

Jesus here is praising Thomas for his belief, while admonishing him that it would have been better for him not to doubt until he had seen. However, Christ was not asking Thomas to make an arbitrary, unsupported decision to believe. Christ had already proven that he could be trusted. He had already made prophecies that had proven to be true, performed miracles, and fulfilled prophecies that his Father had made through the Hebrew prophets thousands of years earlier. Christ had plenty of basis for his credibility. Further, he had told his disciples what would happen several years before the crucifixion and resurrection took place. Christ's admonishment to Thomas was a result of Thomas' refusal to trust Christ after he had already proven his credibility. Thomas was not admonished for refusal to believe blindly, but for refusal to accept extremely well-based credentials.

Faith as a Reasonable Attitude

We operate on faith every day. When we walk down a flight of stairs, we have faith that the stairs will hold us. We do not come to this belief blindly, rather, it is our experience that solid staircases will hold us. We have seen stairs to be trustworthy over a period of time, thus we assume that they will be trustworthy. Our daily life requires innumerable such assumptions. It is this type of faith that Christians are called to have. We are asked to examine the logic of God's existence, influence on history, and purpose to save mankind for a relationship with Himself. God has provided many proofs of his existence and purpose (explored in other posts).He now asks us, on this basis, to trust him to fulfill everything else he has promised. This is the basis of the Christian faith.

A Basis for Argument

"You can't argue someone into the faith..."

I hear this time and again. It is essentially true, but also misleading. Many Christians assume that the point of debating Christianity is to force nonbelievers by the weight of argument into accepting Christ. This is obviously pointless and impossible, but debate serves an important function. As I have explained, faith should be based on reason. It allows us to extend reason and make it useful. Thus, debate allows us to provide people with a reasonable basis for faith. Once that basis is established, we can begin to show them the way to Christ. It is pointless to try to show a moral relativist or atheist his need for Christ based on original sin, until you destroy the atheism or relativism and establish the problem of original sin.

My Hero

OK, now go read through Paul's letters, especially Corinthians. These are not original thoughts. I take no credit for them.