Night Time Thoughts

 

Saint_Augustine
What am I doing with my life? God help me.

So here I sit at my desk at 4am. The screen is open. I’ve been wanting to write a continuation of my fictional universe for some time, but the words refuse to follow. Instead I’ve decided to at least write my thoughts out since there are plenty of those, and with the hope that it’ll help produce more writing.

Often I find myself being like King Solomon without God; that is, the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes. For the uninitiated, it’s the guy who yells out: Everything is meaningless! He hands out the ‘Meaningless Card’ like he’s Oprah giving out free stuff.

Depressing? Sure. Let’s not sugarcoat it.

Most books on wisdom, no matter the culture, tend to say the same thing. I suppose that’s just a human theme for the wise.

So why is everything meaningless? I suppose I could go into a metaphysical view on the hollowness of reality. No one would be interested in that I think.

Just cheer up. Go outside. Find a girl. Get drunk. Get laid. Something something go discover America (Wait, can’t do that anymore).

Those are the typical responses. Other responses are usually something along the lines of “You haven’t lived life! You haven’t experienced it!”

I guess that since I haven’t done everything life has to offer, I therefore am unable to complain.

Ecclesiastes complained about it, and he literally had everything. Yeah but he doesn’t exist.

Ad infinitum why I’m not allowed to say things are meaningless.

Sigh.

I’m not the first to have this, nor will I be the last, and I wouldn’t classify it as depression either. There’s a whole philosophical shelf devoted to it. To me, it seems there’s a greater mystery at hand.

Bluestone_the_Great_unmasked
I’d have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling philosophers!

If I might offer a critique, mostly because no one can argue with me at the current time of this writing, the typical responses above seem to me more like a diversion from the situation at hand. [Kierkegaard goes in depth about this kind of activity. Sadly, since its so late (or early) I can’t recall the exact book.]

Man is great at deceiving himself. Reality is too much to bear (Burnt Norton, T.S. Eliot).

I have my own diversions. I’ll freely admit this. Do they help? Not at all, or at least they just stave off the existential dread for a little bit.

You know those moments during the day where life is great. It seems wonderful. Then when you enter your room to sleep, but you are unable to, because you are by yourself? It’s comparable. Although I have little issue with being alone; in fact, I prefer my solitude like a monastic hermit.

I think I may have side tracked.

Right. So the whole King-Solomon-without-God thing. Taken at its core, it’s depressing for your average, materialistic/ambitious person. If you don’t believe in God, its really depressing, if not out-right drivel.

I can already read the comments in my mind about how a person doesn’t need God to enjoy a fulfilling life.

Then why are you reading this? Go on and enjoy life. Don’t argue with some internet stranger. Heaven forbid someone is wrong on the internet.

For the rest of us, I think it’s important to think about this.

If St. Augustine were born in our times, I’m sure he would’ve been the horny teenager I believe him to be (especially with the internet and condoms), but also his statement our hearts don’t rest until they rest in you would be especially meaningful to him.

Those who know first hand of what I’ve been rambling on about: We’re restless. Everything seems meaningless. Material pursuits do not fulfill us. Why is this? Well, let us assume the Christian understanding of the person: Man was created for God. So it makes sense that everything else cannot compare.When we try to go after lesser goods, it’s the equivalent of a kid trying to force a square into a triangle shaped hole.

It’s not really going to work. Surprise!

I believe C.S. Lewis said this, but in this train  of thought, we’re not really being ambitious. We’re settling for something lesser, and by settling for something lesser we’re not really happy in the end. So what happens? Either we learn from this and try to become ambitious and aim for the Ultimate Good (which is God, duh), or we try to fill our lives with a whole bunch of lesser goods to fill up the void in our life.

Oh, look at that. We’re back to the typical responses that people have given me about the whole matter. Big surprise.

All in all, my guess is that religion is a worthy pursuit, if you’re in the kind of situation I am. Myself, I tend to sway between believing and not believing. It’s hard. I wonder as to why some people perceive the world as such and others don’t. As I write this, I am recalling another blog writer’s opinion about how spiritual perception is stunted during growth, much like how speech or social skills can be impeded. I’ll have to inquire about this.

But these are just the words of some guy rambling on. Maybe I’ll make a coherent post and dissect the whole matter.


Author’s note: Jeez. Rereading my post, I can see my inner philosophical workings and their tie-in to everything. Creation-sin-beatitude. If you know what I’m talking about, kudos. If not, don’t worry about it. Basically I covered large theological grounds in the framework of a rant.

 

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23 thoughts on “Night Time Thoughts

  1. Don’t walk down the road of religion; it’s brain poison. But the purpose in life is simple; be happy. Course, most people forget to add the second part, stating that we’re all in it together, we all influence each other, everything’s shit right now, so we need to stop fucking around and get to work.

    That requires effort. People prefer to live in comforting delusions. Like religion.

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    1. I find it difficult to honestly say religion is brain poison. The father of genetics was a friar. The theorist behind the big bang was a priest. Likewise many contributions to mathematics were done by ardent religious (christian) followers. If I were able to recall from memory, I’d name the scientific contributions set by middle-eastern religious men as well.

      There is little doubt that people prefer comforting delusions, and while there are certain sects of various religions that treat it as such, there remains honest religions at their core that do not profess this. Instead they acknowledge the misery of the human condition and go about attempting to explain or solve it.

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    1. It’s what one would call progression within the scientific field. Those first baby steps lead to larger things. Without them, we would not be where we are today. At their time, those advancements were huge, even though they may seem small to us. Credit is due to them.

      I do not buy into that form of skepticism. Need I know how my hand works to be able to type this sentence? Of course not. I likewise do not need to know how the chemistry of my brain works to understand my own thoughts. Skepticism stifles thought. One is reduced to running around in a circle, wondering if said circle is really a circle. Could a square. Who knows?

      Metacognition, as you call it, is just honest introspection. Any philosopher worth their words examines the issues on both sides. If the opponent fails to make an impressive argument, then the philosopher must make his opponent’s argument better, for the sake of seeking truth. It is not an opposition between parties, but a genuine collective affair.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting post. I think people know there is an afterlife coming, and this knowledge ruins temporal joys for them, because they know they are in trouble with their creator. The problem is that modern science seems to contradict the Bible in some ways. So people are being asked to believe in God, despite contrary evidence from science. It’s a big problem for me, and for most people. But I think about it in light of these verses:

    Deuteronomy 13:1-3
    1 ¶ “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,
    2 “and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’  — which you have not known — ‘and let us serve them,’
    3 “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

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    1. I’m sure most are confused if there is or isn’t an afterlife. Myself being one of them.

      Science only contradicts Faith (and vice versa) when one or both of them are misunderstood. Since God is the author of both nature and revelation, there will be no contradiction between the two.

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    1. I agree that contigent beings require a necessary being, ergo God. I find no contradiction between saying man was the product of evolution and was also created by God in His image; that is, through evolutionary processes God created man.

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    1. Typically, ID arguments (all those listed in your article) rely on a ‘God of the gaps’ argument wherein science does not give a satisfactory answer or when things seem highly improbable to occur (It is improbable, therefore ID). Science may vary well give an answer in due time. As it is, there have been some ground-breaking understanding in the cosmology field.

      There is also the issue that the larger scientific community does not accept ID theory as a scientific theory at all (unless times have changed and I am unaware).

      However I do agree with a philosophy of teleology (what an IDer might say is ‘design’); however, I would not argue it from the position that an IDer would. It makes for bad reasoning (and science) in my book.

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  3. Thanks so much for having a look at the article, I appreciate it. You mentioned the “God of the gaps” idea, and I have to ask you to respond to this brief article as well:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/01/why_intelligent068151.html

    You also said, “There is also the issue that the larger scientific community does not accept ID theory as a scientific theory at all…” Here I must say that surely you are aware of the culture war taking place around Intelligent Design and Philosophical Naturalism. Citing “the larger scientific community” is the equivalent of citing what the Christian Church believes in order to dismiss arguments against Christianity. It is an ad populum, and an appeal to authority.

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    1. The article doesn’t give many objections. The first is the historical analysis, namely that evolution has happened and so we use abductive reasoning. However we are able to reproduce the effect of evolution, such as through breeding (more on this reproducing effects later).

      Given that he himself states the task: “This methodology asks, “Given what we know about the explanatory efficacy of the various competing hypotheses, which cause best explains the evidence we observe?”” What we are able to reproduce will be of first priority.

      The second is that he is making a difference between an intelligent designer vs supernatural force, wherein opponents are viewing it as a supernatural force. Regardless if they are or are not, the principle of the opposition is an external force that interjects itself. Again, this force itself is not provable.

      Thirdly, he states two reasonings for design inference: exceedingly improbable and it conforms to some kind of pattern. Exceedingly improbable =/= impossible; and, patterns naturally occur within nature all the time, although he does say ‘meaningful’ and ‘independently given’ patterns, to which it must be asked by what that means. But even under the assumption that these patterns are few and specific, were back to his first reasoning and its opposition.

      Lastly, his parody of the ‘materialism of the gaps’ is silly. Science explores the material world; it does not explore the immaterial world. Of course it will have this bent towards material explanations. Would one explain the whole of the Revelation of John with gravitational physics? Of course not. It does not belong to that field.

      Likewise, science pertains to the physical world and performs experiments with physical things. If it is unable to do this, then it is no longer science. The abduction that ID performs is no longer science, but philosophy.

      Culture war? Perhaps, but it’s only a few loudmouths and is more of a fad.

      I do not think I’d be alone, and being of Catholic-thought mind you, in being against Intelligent Design and Philosophical Naturalism. Intelligent Design is bad science, and Philosophical Naturalism tends towards a creator who creates but does not intervene with his creation; that is, a creator who does not distribute grace nor evokes any sense of need for redemption.

      I’m not sure if you’re trying to state that I am appealing to authority by citing the larger scientific community. If you are, then I’d point you to your recent comment that you’ll stand by William Craig because you do not know enough on the subject. If not: I’d still like to point to your comment because this ‘fallacy of appealing to authorities’ has, through history, been argued whether it really is a fallacy. I do not think it is a fallacy, in general. Mainly that not everyone can be a philosopher, mathematician, biologist, physicist, etc.. Not everyone will understand the arguments that they make. It is simply impractical. People *will* appeal to an authoritative figure because they are not experts of the field, and it is not wrong of them to do so.The issue lies within whether said authoritative figure is valid or not. If they are able to show they are valid, then by all means hold their position. If not, then one should not hold their position.

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  4. Well, I must give you credit for thinking through the matter thoroughly. I disagree with your arguments, for the reasons stated in the article I offered. I don’t think your response refutes the articles arguments. But again, you’ve clearly thought a lot about this, and my hat is off to you. For now, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, I am convinced by Intelligent Design arguments, but you are not.

    I can’t help respond to a couple points though, “Exceedingly improbable =/= impossible,” if you have to say that to hold to your position, perhaps you should reconsider. It sounds like you’ll reject intelligent design no matter what, holding to an a priori conclusion, that you are not even interested in the arguments.

    Also, “I’d point you to your recent comment that you’ll stand by William Craig because you do not know enough on the subject.” The truth is, I could have argued further, and should have. Perhaps we can get back to that conversation some time. But the point still stands, it is not a valid argument when one appeals to authority. The Christian Church says Jesus Christ is Lord! Do you agree because of that? Of course not.

    Lastly, “Likewise, science pertains to the physical world and performs experiments with physical things. If it is unable to do this, then it is no longer science. The abduction that ID performs is no longer science, but philosophy.” Check out this video, I’d love to read your thoughts on it:

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    1. I’ll reject intelligent design because I find there are better views than it, scientifically. Likewise, there are better philosophical arguments for showing the existence of God.

      If I might reverse your own statements: The Christian Church says Jesus Christ is Lord! Do you agree because of that? Of course not. — it is not a valid argument when one appeals to authority.

      It would seem that you would not agree with yourself either.

      However to undertake your question seriously: Would I agree if the Christian Church said Jesus Christ is Lord? I would immediately, were it not divided (*which* Christian church?). I would immediately, were they holy men and women who performed miracles as the Apostles set out to do. They do neither of these, and it is unfortunate because this is what has driven people away from Christ. The issue is not those who do not believe, but those believers who make it unable to believe. Of course, those who willingly, and with full knowledge, do not respond to Christ’s calling condemn themselves.

      Finally, your video does make the point as to classification. This I grant. However that is not what is at issue. It remains a faulty science by interjecting the irreducible complexity when other views provide better explanation, and to say they do not fully explain (therefore ID) leads us back into the God of the gaps; likewise, the effects of Darwinian evolution are able to be performed and investigated (as I stated in my previous comment). The speaker presents nothing new.

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  5. Well, I’ll let the ID issue go for now, perhaps we can argue about it again sometime later. But this statement caught my eye, “I would immediately, were it not divided (*which* Christian church?). I would immediately, were they holy men and women who performed miracles as the Apostles set out to do. They do neither of these, and it is unfortunate because this is what has driven people away from Christ.” Come on, you read philosophy, surely you can think through the issues that divide Protestants and Catholics, and come to your own conclusion. Regarding the performing of miracles, I am a cessationist, explained here:

    http://www.gotquestions.org/cessationism.html

    and elaborated on here:

    http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2009/12/24/why-dont-we-see-miracles-today/

    Both articles are very brief, I’d love to read your thoughts on them if you have the time.

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    1. I have read on the divide between Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox. If I had to pick a side it would be with the Catholics. However argumentation does not compel belief, and even some of their most esteemed theologians and philosophers admit this. Among other things, Catholics (and Orthodox, who are just schismatic) seem to be the most level-headed of Christians as well as reality affirming. But as I said, argumentation does not compel belief, and I have my own reasons for why I do not believe.

      The cessationist’s position is awkward. It says there are no miracles because they ended with the Apostles as miracles serve as signs to show God has provided new revelation and authority. Yet some believe miracles are still performed today. Yet some believe only grand-scale miracles are not performed. Yet miracles ended with the Apostles.

      My question would be how are miracles categorized, and why? It is like saying that water in an 8oz cup is inherently different from water in a liter cup. Even if they were to point to scripture, I cannot think of any verses wherein raising from the dead, parting an ocean, turning water into wine, etc., are strictly identified, and thus to separate them from ‘smaller’ miracles.

      There is also the issue of how these verses are understood. 1 Cor 13, as a whole, is speaking on how Love is greater than these other gifts, for they have some issue, such as passing away. 1 Cor 14 even seems to imply these miracles are to continue with the Church, and that they will not end with the Apostles.

      Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy (This is the very first verse of 1 Cor 14!). I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy (verse 5). Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues (verse 39).

      ‘Do not forbid speaking in tongues.’ Yet the first sentence of your article states: ‘Cessationism is the view that the “miracle gifts” of tongues and healing have ceased.’

      I imagine a counter argument would be: They lived among the Apostles, and so it was the Apostolic Age.

      But some of these believers would surely outlive the Apostles, and if they are speaking to new people, then it would continue on. Namely: The Apostles spoke to community A who had A1-A10 who possessed gifts. Some of A1-A10 would outlive the Apostles, continuing on with their gifts. As they expanded, they would encounter a new group, either in location or age group, thus community B. B would have B1-B10, and it would continue on.

      Again, if miracles ended with just the Apostles, why did those in the early communities possess said miracles? It cannot be said these miracles ended with the Apostles, literally speaking.

      One of your articles is also in serious biblical doubt. It states: ‘There were hundreds of years recorded in the Bible with no miracles, so it is false to say that miracles occurred all throughout biblical times. They did not.’

      Hundreds of years recorded with no miracles. And yet? ‘Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.’ (John 21:25)

      Not everything will ever be recorded. This is just a practical approach. Even then, I am wary as to how they are defining miracles since they categorize miracles in a trivial way. The only thing that really seems to define it are ‘public displays,’ which is far too vague.

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    2. Actually I need to retract an instance, slightly: There is a verse (1 Cor 12:7-11) that lists all these miracle signs. I suppose this could be used to categorize.

      But then, really, what are we left with then? The only option is the extremist cessation view that no miracles are performed at all anymore. Every miracle can be listed beneath the ones in that verse, *if* that verse is to be taken as a way of categorization.

      There is also the issue of who has authority when interpreting scripture. But that is a different discussion.

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    3. Third comment. I did not argue the six proofs.

      #1, 3, 4 – Leaps in logic. In a premise form:

      First:
      1. The apostles were unique. (I grant)
      2. Their ministry was accomplished. (Who says its accomplished? They didn’t preach to the whole world. Christ said preach to all nations.)
      Therefore, miracle signs are no longer needed.

      Third:
      1. The gift of tongues was a sign to unbelieving Israel that God’s salvation was now available to other nations.
      2. ???
      Therefore, miracle signs are no longer needed.

      Fourth:
      1. Tongues was an inferior gift to prophecy (Ok?)
      2. Preaching the Word of God edifies believers, whereas tongues does not. (Ok?)
      3. Believers are told to seek prophesying over speaking in tongues (Ok?)
      4. ???
      Therefore, miracle signs are no longer needed.

      ———————————————————————

      #2 and partly 5 & 6 – The lack thereof does not necessarily imply its non-existence.

      ———————————————————————

      #5 – I will grant, as they are the opinion of the early church fathers, basing it from the article. I would need to read the primary sources.

      ———————————————————————

      #6 This is an interesting argument. I’m reminded of how Christ was mocked, being told to save Himself if he were really the Messiah. If the gifts were still available, then…..

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  6. Wow, great discussion, you really did your homework. I find the whole thing to be a lot simpler. Big, public, audacious miracles, like the parting of the read sea or the raising of the dead, took place for the purpose of establishing new covenants. We don’t see those kinds of miracles today, because the Jewish covenant has been established, and the Christian covenant has been established. Today, God is free to act and perform miracles, but we don’t find people endowed with the gift of performing miracles consistently, (to authenticate them as messengers of a new covenant).

    Regarding tongues, and their continuation, the gift ceased. Those who outlived the apostles would have ceased to experience that gift in their lives.

    I think the answers I’m giving are for people who already believe in Jesus, and are seeking to understand the absence of these miracle gifts. If you are not yet a Christian, you can take issue with any number of things, as you have.

    The key is this, God is testing us all. By necessity then, he is not forcing us to believe in him. He gives enough proof through philosophy, history, and science for people to believe, but not enough to force them to believe. There must be counter arguments and counter evidence. Otherwise everyone is forced to believe. And that is precisely what God refuses to do, force people to love him, force them to believe in him, force them to give their lives to him. That’s a choice you must make freely. And for the choice to be free, there must be unanswered questions, evidence that goes in the opposite direction, and other options available. It is on the basis of the Holy Spirit’s testimony, when reading the word of God, that people come to faith in Christ.

    1 Corinthians 1:17-29
    17 ¶ For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
    18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
    19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
    20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
    21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
    22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;
    23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,
    24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
    25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
    26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
    27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
    28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
    29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.

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    1. I don’t see it simple at all, since the position states it doesn’t view miracles as happening today, but then agrees God is free to do so. It seems like a clear contradiction. Or its just an outright equivocation on all cessationists: “Most of these accounts, however, are hard to verify as true supernatural events” keyphrasing here is ‘true supernatural events.’ As if miracles were not defined thus!

      God remains all-powerful, but he doesn’t contradict himself; he enjoys his paradoxes instead.

      Likewise, there is the hidden principle of understanding miracles solely for the work towards a new covenant, wherein miracles can, and have, been used towards other things.

      “And for the choice to be free, there must be unanswered questions” – Not necessarily. There is an element in Faith that we would call trust.

      But I suppose I really know nothing, since I don’t believe.

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