Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reflections and Plans

Good evening, my fellow young philosophers. For our first meeting, tonight went fairly well. Next meeting I will post some topics of discussion up here on the blog as well as some resources for further learning. I think we should try our best to avoid trite arguments for or against Judeo-Christian religion, since this club could very quickly turn into the "let me show you how I know the Bible is right or wrong" club. What do you guys think?

This is an article by David Brooks that questions whether or not philosophy is necessary.

I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse for English this summer, and like Buddha, the protagonist believed that we should get rid of all of our desires in order to feel peace (which seems like it contradicts the middle path). Can this be achieved? To quote Aldous Huxley:

"A man's a creature on a tightrope, walking delicately, equilibrated, with mind and and consciousness and spirit at one end and body and instinct and all that's unconscious and earthy and mysterious at the other...the only absolute he can ever really know is the absolute of perfect balance. The absoluteness of perfect relativity. Which is a paradox and nonsense intellectually. But so is all real, genuine, living truth-just nonsense according to logic. And logic is just nonsense in the light of living truth. You can choose which you like, logic or life."


Thank you,



Mr. McClure said...

Young Philosophers,

It would be interesting for me and others affiliated with the League to know just in fact who is out there reading this stuff. Are you there? If so, comments are welcomed and appreciated. Since the blog has been relatively inactive recently, I thought I would take a moment to address the previous post and add some resources for those interested.

To the recent post, "I think we should try our best to avoid trite arguments for or against Judeo-Christian religion," I must first say that, yes, trite arguments are bad. If I were to argue, for example, that the Memphis Grizzlies are a playoff team this year, that would be a trite argument. Certainly, I could talk on this topic at length, and as a native Memphian, I would relish the opportunity. Still, many of you would find this boring and not especially relevant to your life, to the attainment of wisdom, etc.

Now is arguing for the truth or falsity of Christianity a "trite argument"? For many reasons, I don't think it is. First of all, committing yourself to any system of faith that places a total claim on your life, intentions, thoughts, and actions immediately merits attention and study. The fact that Christianity has been around for 2000 years as a belief system, has claimed billions of thoughtful adherents across the globe, and has inspired the construction of countless governments, legal systems, hospitals, churches, and schools, including our own EHS, suggests that understanding the truth claims of Christianity is important. In fact, given the impact Christianity has had on the world and history, it is likely that not seriously examining the history and truth of Christianity is intellectually irresponsible, assuming that the resources and potential to investigate this belief system are available to the interested student.

Furthermore, most religions, including Christianity, dictate not only how one lives in the present moment, but they also point forward to what life will be like after this one is over. The fact that our understanding of Christianity could impact where we spend our eternal destiny, or in other words, what we are doing literally trillions and trillions of years from now, seems to be one of utmost concern and especially relevant for young philosophers such as yourselves.

For this reason, I've added some resources to this blog post for any of you who would seriously like to investigate the truth of the history of Christianity. The author of these posts is Dr. John Stackhouse, who is an accomplished philosopher, theologian, and lecturer at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada.

So, if anyone has (miraculously) made it this far, and wants to continue the journey by opening the links below, I would love to hear your feedback. Thanks, and enjoy!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Jacob said...

I'm glad you won't be waxing lyrical on the Grizzlies; my associate pastor frequently references sports and I find it tiresome. I'll check out those links when I can.

jhurd said...

My problem with trite arguments is that they don't tend to produce anything original. I could say that "The Bible says the world is 6000 years old, but there isn't a single mainstream scientist who believes in young Earth creationism", then fold my arms and smirk, but what's the point of debating a stereotypical caricature of Christianity? I want the League to strive for incisive, original arguments.

"It seems preposterous, we should pause to observe, to attribute this agreement to some sort of collusion among the four writers. "

I don't find that too far-fetched at all. People have done far more immoral things than lie in the name of a deity (infanticide, genocide).

The empty tomb part is intriguing, but I must ask which seems more likely to you: That a man can be resurrected, or that religious zealots would tell a lie?

I'd also like to hear what your interpretation of Matthew 16:28 is. Did Jesus believe the 2nd coming would happen before some of his followers died?

Mr. McClure said...

Thanks Jacob and Jack! It's great to see that the blog has potential for growth. I invite both of you to encourage others to join in as well, especially those who are officers.

When you look at the gospels in the New Testament, it's only fair to say that the four accounts they give of Jesus do show remarkable similarities to one another. This has made some scholars think that they must have collaborated or had an unknown common source called the "Q" document which they used to write their gospel. However, as Stackhouse points out, this wouldn't explain why there are some significant differences from one gospel to the other. Why, for example, does Mark not include a genealogy at the beginning, and why does it end so abruptly, unlike the other gospels? It seems that the similarities and differences point to one story being told in different ways.

To suggest that the gospel writers entered into a massive conspiracy with one another is a far greater accusation, and one that deserves further scrutiny. First, why would they do such a thing? If they were truly followers of Jesus, didn't they think it was important to be honest as Jesus taught? Second, all the gospel writers were fully aware of what was happening to early Christians in the Roman Empire. Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome, and for Mark, who was a follower of both of them, to write a public document expressing his commitment to Christ would have been tantamount to signing his own death sentence, especially at the height of the Neronian Persecutions. Matthew and Luke would have faced similar pressures. "People lie in the name of a deity" all the time. But the real question is: are these same people willing to die for a lie?

Concerning the empty tomb, questions of worldview arise. If one takes the presupposition that we live in a closed universe, where no divine intervention is at any moment ever possible, then belief in Jesus' resurrection is presumed impossible from the beginning. On the other hand, those who are open to the idea that we live in an open universe, where an Omnipotent Being may intervene into history, well, they can much more easily accept belief in Jesus' resurrection.

As for Mt. 16:28, the verse provides the appropriate transition to the Transfiguration in chapter 17. The kingdom arrives with Jesus, so when Jesus tells the disciples that "they will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom," he is preparing Peter, James, and John to realize that he is in fact the Messiah. This verse is often misunderstood to be related to the 2nd coming (rather than the 1st), so kudos to you, Jack, for pointing it out!