I went to Korea to study Korean at Kyunghee University (경회대학), and I had a great time. I made new friends, ate good food, and got to practice Korean quite a bit. My wife and kids came to visit Korea for a week after my class was finished and I got to be their tour-guide/interpreter. It was tons of fun! We went to a bunch of places, but where I felt I did the best job as guide/interpreter was at the planetarium/kids museum in Namsan Park (남산공원) I basically translated the entire planetarium show for my boys and I felt like I only missed a few things. My wife loved the fabric market in Dongdaemun (동대문시장) though that was one of the hardest parts for me as an interpreter, because there are so many specialized terms for various types of fabrics and they're different dependant on what you're using it to make. Fortunately Michelle can just tell by feel and look which fabrics she wanted, and I just had to help with prices and amounts.
After returning from that month-long trip I get back to work and I'm the busiest I've ever been with work. As many of you know I work for the US Air Force and I fly on an airplane to do my job. Well, we have multiple planes here now and we don't have nearly enough people to cover all the positions in all the planes so I've been flying much more than I've ever flown before (with the exception of being deployed to the Middle-east a few years back. On top of being super busy with work I restarted online classes and I'm taking Theology 202 and Philosophy 201 through Liberty U Online. It's a bit disappointing so far because Philosophy is one of my favorite topics and while I feel like I have a good grasp of the concepts taught so far (it's only an intro to Philosophy class), I have the lowest grade I've ever had in any of my online courses. The thing that bothers me about the class (it's also true of my current Theology class) is that they don't seem to be really trying to test whether I understand the material through the quizzes. Rather they seem to be testing whether or not I read the assigned chapters. For example, there was a question on a recent quiz that asked very specifically what a particular text says is important in a certain situation. All the possible selections were logical and would have worked in the particular situation but the answer was specifically what that author said. One could (in fact my coworker said something to this effect) that the reading is the material to be tested and that's what the quiz is getting at.
To me it's more important to encourage critical thinking, not test to see if students can parrot back what an author has said on such and such a subject. I'm glad that there's more than just the quizzes in the class (there are a few essays). I feel that, in both theology and philosophy, as long as one can give reasonable defenses and logical support for one's statements they've learned the material. The point of theology is to understand the different belief systems surrounding humans trying to understand God as He has revealed Himself. So if a student can come up with a commonsense, logical and biblical defense for a particular belief then that student has succeeded in theology. Same with philosophy though one can remove the biblical component. That's not to say one cannot apply biblical beliefs to the study of philosophy and vice versa, rather that philosophical answers that contain biblical arguments are not considered basic philosophical arguments. That's the philosophy of religion or theology, depending on what the presenter is arguing.
Which brings me to yesterday. I had to work and this particular time I was teamed up with a coworker that completely disagrees with me in almost every aspect of life. After some random(ish) conversation about our recent exploits we started talking about philosophy. I opened up with attempting to quote this section of one of the texts for my philosophy class, from Hasker's Metaphysics; Constructing a World View and I hope the exact same can be said of me:
". . . [I am] a Christian who loves philosophy and would like to consider himself a philosopher; he is a philosopher who loves Jesus Christ and want to be known as a disciple. A Christian first, a philosopher second—but neither one at the expense of the other. The insights I have gained from my Christian faith and experience prove to be of immense value as I do my philosophy, even though I cannot appeal to biblical authority as the basis for a philosophical argument. And the results of philosophical study enhance Christian understanding in many different ways—some of them already hinted at, others yet to be shown."I think every Christian interested in philosophy should be able to say something just like that! Well, I wasn't able to capture the words of the quote, but I talked about the basic idea that I want to be a philosopher and a Christian and that neither one detracts from the other. One of the things we touched on was not using biblical authority/quotes to make philosophical arguments. He basically didn't seem to believe that so we launched into a long conversation about the beginning of the universe, meaning of life, source for morality, and other philosophical interests.
It seemed that he accepts Big Bang cosmology for what it is, and that chains of events cannot cause themselves, but insisted that the universe is actually eternal, we just can't see beyond that beginning. So, we have an immeasurable, invisible, impersonal properties of physics that led to the Big Bang. He gave the analogy that time and space is a wave that we're surfing on, we can look back and see the top of the wave but we can't see the other side, but we know it's there. He claims that theism is irrational because theist postulate that God was the one that started the series of events called the universe at the Big Bang. Implying that it's more reasonable to assume that there was just something before the Big Bang that caused it, we just cannot see or measure anything that might have happened before the Big Bang. This is even though I defined the whole of the universe as a closed system encompassing all that actually exists, past present and future. Basically, the way I understand his argument is pure materialism forcing him to ignore the evidence of the Big Bang and postulate that that must not actually have been the beginning.
He did does seem to understand that his position is a position of faith. But, it doesn't make sense to me that he could consider his position to be the more logical. We both arrive at the same beginning, and that something had to start the beginning but rather than accept that it must be something outside the something that exists, a timeless limitless being that started all the somethings, he insists that it's not really the beginning that there's an invisible immeasurable something before the beginning that became what we call the initial singularity from which the Big Bang originated. I tried to use multiple tactics that show that that argument is enough to reach the conclusion that there is something out there that started all this, then when one takes that as an acceptable premise, the other arguments for God point to other characteristics. That initial premise will only allow that that something is incredibly powerful (at least in the concept of power that we have), and that it must be limitless by all physical essences. For example this entity must be timeless/eternal, because time is a function of the physical universe and this something is outside the physical universe. There are other points but he refused to budge on the assertion that before the Big Bang was not really the beginning, that the universe is eternal.
I did "win" one point! He asked what one had to do to be saved. I don't know his full religious educational background except that he was once a Mormon. He seemed genuinely surprised when I told him that one doesn't have to do anything to be saved. I presented to "ABC" method of describing "attaining" salvation. That is, Admit you've sinned (makes sense, since if you refuse that you don't need saving and wouldn't be asking these questions in the first place), Believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, and Choose to accept that payment for the penalty of your sins. I hope this was able to dispel the common notion that Christianity is about doing certain things.
|I've already shared this photo once but I really like this cafe (and apparently the previous gif was bothersome)|