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…

Favorite Philosophers (3): Siddhartha Gautama

This post is picking up on an older series – see my earlier posts on Camus and Wittgenstein – and I’ll warn you now it will be a little longer (so skip to the end for the meat).  Siddhartha Gautama (c. 563-483 B.C.), also known as “the Buddha” (i.e., the awakened or enlightened one), was the founder of Buddhism.  I call Siddhartha a philosopher because (1) Buddhism is in many ways more like a philosophy than a religion, especially in its original articulation and in the contemporary Theravada branch, and (2) the distinction between philosophy and religion is recent, Western,…