Just Babies Making Up a Game

One of my favorite passages in all of literature is Puddleglum’s response to the Lady of the Green Kirtle in The Silver Chair. The Lady (an evil sorceress) has several characters trapped underground, and with the help of a little magic is trying to convince them that Narnia and Aslan and the rest of the “Overland” do not actually exist. The characters are on the verge of giving in when Puddleglum stomps on the magic fire in these words: One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying…

The Problem of Evil is a Problem for Everyone

“If God is all-good and all-powerful, why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?” This question, the age-old “problem of evil,” is probably the single greatest argument of all time against the existence of God. The question has both a “global” and a “local” presence—it is a logical dilemma puzzled over by philosophers, and it is an emotional struggle that every sufferer will face. Its both academic and everyday. When we are with someone who is suffering, its probably best to avoid words altogether and stick with tears, silence, and prayers. In my pastoral role I have…

Looking Back At Favorite Blog Posts and Series

I’ve been blogging for just over 6 years now. Its been a far more enriching experience than I had expected. My primary purpose in blogging has always been my own learning: I find that I learn best in a dialogical, two-stage process of both (1) reading and (2) writing. Stage 1 typically involves carefully reading a book with my pen in hand, making notes on the pages and inside the back cover as I struggle with how to place and understand the book. (Sometimes, of course, it could also be an article, movie, etc.) The key in this stage is…

Thoughts on Good, Evil, and Hell

“And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other” (Luke 23:12). I was reading through Luke while in Belize and was struck by this verse in the midst of the crucifixion narrative. I had never noticed it before, but it occurred to me after reflecting on it that Jesus brings people together, not only because they love Him, but also because they hate him. He is a source of unity not only among his friends, but also among his opponents! Without Jesus, I bet the demons…

Thoughts on the Hitchens-Craig Debate

This was a fascinating debate at BIOLA in 2009. I think its the most interesting debate on theism that I have seen, although the Hitchens-Wilson debates are also interesting and have more back-and-forth interaction. The references to N.T. Wright’s argument for Christianity from the rise in the belief of the resurrection are surprising – I wouldn’t have expected that point to surface in a debate like this, but it comes up several times. I think Hitchens is a fascinating human being. At times he can be intolerably rude, but in several of the debates I’ve recently watched,  I’ve been struck by…

Reflections on The Grey

I watched The Grey last night. The film explores death from a nihilistic standpoint. Its dialogue, plot, and cinematography all highlight the ugliness and crushing inevitability of death, and its very setting – the harsh Alaskan wilderness – creates a chilling atmosphere, appropriate for this philosophical agenda. In the end, the basic message seems to be something like: “death is all there is – so go out with the bang.” The poem recited throughout the movie and during its climax reminds me of Dylan Thomas “Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night.” In one very poignant scene, Liam Neeson’s…

Favorite Philosophers (4): Rene Descartes

If I had to name who I think were the top 5 most significant philosophers in Western history, I would probably go with Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant.  The first 3 formed the backbone against which all Western thought had to react, and the latter two both marked crucial turning points.  Descartes marked the turn towards modernism with his emphasis on individual human reason as the epistemological starting point, and Kant paved the way towards postmodernism by limiting human knowledge to the phenomenal realm, i.e., reality in its appearance to us as opposed to reality in itself. Leslie Newbigin…