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Archive for the ‘Epistemology’ Category

Courage: The Need of the Hour

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Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of [the other nations], for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Dt. 31:6).

Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed. (1 Chron. 22:13).

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:13).

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:6).

I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. (Ps. 3:6).

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27:1).

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6).

I read somewhere yesterday that, in these times, the virtue Christians most need to cultivate is courage. I have an old friend who used to pray routinely for courage and humility. This prayer is more urgent now that Christians in the West are coming to be viewed as the “troublers” of civilization.

Courage will not mean an arrogant boisterousness in the face of those who oppose God’s gospel. But it most certainly will mean standing firm on the truth God has revealed. It will mean affirming and suffering for God’s sovereignty and lordship in absolutely every arena of life. It will mean affirming, in public ways, that God defines reality and has not left the defining of it open to us in any part of life. God created us “male and female” and we must courageously affirm that sinful human beings do not have the power or authority to try and define sexual reality for themselves. God invented marriage and He decides what it is and isn’t. He has determined the nature and purpose of sex and sexuality. We must stand with Peter and John when they said: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you be the judge.” (Acts 4:19).

God is the one who says that people from every tribe, tongue, nation and language matter to him, both the born and the unborn. God defines justice and with Him there is no favoritism.

As Os Guinness has said, there is no god but God, and so we must courageously obey Him in all things. His Word must be our constant standard of truth and reality. It will take courage to affirm the Bible’s truths, to defend its precepts, to proclaim its very words, to avoid softening or bastardizing its language and teaching, and to demonstrate its beauty with our lives.

We will not do this in our own power. Yet it is sobering, and indeed terrifying, to remember what God says: “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:7-8).

-D

 

Written by Michael Duenes

July 23, 2016 at 11:51 am

I Hate and Despise Falsehood, but I Love Your Law

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“From Your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:104)

“Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:128)

“I hate and despise falsehood, but I love Your law.” (Psalm 119:163)

“A righteous man hates falsehood.” (Prov. 13:5).

“Who may ascend into the hill of the LordAnd who may stand in His holy place? He who has . . . not lifted up his soul to falsehood.” (Psalm 24:3-4).

Christians must be people who hate lies, deceit and falsehood. We must not merely dislike it or reject it or have a sensibility against it. We must hate it. And how do we come to recognize falsehood? Our starting place, our standard, must be the word of God.

Thus, for example, when God says, “male and female he created them,” we see that this is truth, and see that we must hate all falsehoods that attempt to mar, distort, blunt or outright reject this truth, no matter how nuanced or with what “complexity” they come to us. We will no doubt have to grapple with practical realities, but we must do so with a love for the truth as revealed by God and a hatred of every false way.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

November 12, 2015 at 4:37 am

Posted in Duenes, Epistemology

The Butchers of ISIS and You Face the Exact Same Fate After Death . . . Deal With That!

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I haven’t written anything in more than two months, for various reasons, but I felt compelled to say something while I have a free moment today.

ISIS continues to rape innocent girls and women (and likely men and boys) brutally and mercilessly, while beheading others, making war, committing mass murder, recruiting people to their regime and leaving tens of thousands in squalor and poverty. The “leadership” of North Korea continues to run a prison police state, oppressing and impoverishing millions, denying its citizens even basic human goods, summarily executing people who have committed no crimes, and threatening war against non-aggressor nations. China’s dictators still ruthlessly suppress, beat, maim, and imprison Christians and other religious people. They also continue their “one child policy,” which, in practical terms, means they condemn millions upon millions of mostly unborn girls to death, and deny millions of men future wives, creating a demographic catastrophe. The citizens of the United States, legally mind you, continue to carry out a systematic genocide against black Americans in particular and all Americans in general, having killed over 50 million of their own citizens in the name of “choice” and “sexual freedom.” Our hands are stained with the blood of unborn generations.

And these are but a few, a very few, of the regimes and nations around the world who, at this moment, engage in large-scale and routine execution, oppression, racist discrimination, imprisonment, rape, warfare and impoverishment of human beings, not to mention the well-known historical examples of such actions. Doubtless you could think of many others and their practical actions without too much effort.

Cursory attention to the world around us also brings to mind people who would cut open babies’ faces in order to extract their brains for trade, people who would do all in their power to explain this away, who bully and belittle gay people for fun, who rape and murder others for drugs, turf, car stereos, respect, shoes, out of jealousy or because they simply don’t like the look of them. It includes people who beat their wives and girlfriends and molest their children as a matter of course, who subscribe to websites so they can find others with whom to commit adultery (ruining whole families), who embezzle others’ honestly-earned money, who discriminate against others simply because of how they look, who steal others’ property for political gain, who knowingly slander others to the ruin of their reputations and careers, who utterly neglect their children or spouses for personal gain, who accept bribes and kickbacks, who defraud others (e.g., Enron) to the destruction of their innocent employees’ careers and life savings, who kidnap children to hold for ransom, who vent their anger toward others or simply undermine them in subtle ways . . . and the list could go on at length.

But why mention all this, when we mostly – at least where I live – get to ignore it? Charles Darwin and his progeny tell us that we human beings are simply physical creatures who happen to be here by random chance and mutation, with no purpose or meaning, and with no life after death. We are born by accident, die, and turn into manure. And this is the official teaching of our government and public schools and the culturally dominant narrative and worldview in the western world about reality.

But what does it mean, if it’s true? It means at least what John Lennon says it means: “No hell below us, above us only sky. ” It means there is no justice in front of anyone involved in the parade of horribles listed above, a parade which uncovers only a very small fraction of the grave injustices we do to each others, large and small, each day.

But do any significant number of people live as if this is true, as if the grizzly ghouls of ISIS who intentionally and quite happily rape, dismember and slaughter innocent others with an arrogant and high hand, should pay nothing for their actions, and at their death, should come to merely the same end as everyone else, by virtue of the fact that their raping and killing was merely a matter of what their accidentally mutated genes programmed them to do?

I couldn’t help pondering today, as I tried to think in a somewhat unsentimental way about the real world around me, filled with wickedness, pain and death, that the Darwinian narrative must be false, simply on these grounds alone, whatever else it might have to commend it.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

August 29, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Kentucky Is A Joke and So Are Many Major “Student” Athletics

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I confess I’ve lost almost all interest in college basketball, and college sports in general. I still watch here and there because I enjoy sports, but my heart’s not in it at all. Sure, part of it is that other interests besides sports have needed my attention (e.g., having 4 kids under age 8), but the essential fraud of college sports has really done a number on me.

I’m not sure why my level of cynicism has increased so much in recent years, for it’s not as if corruption, cheating and academic fraud are anything new to the NCAA. I suppose my general dislike for John Calipari and the undefeated NBA team he’s got over there at Kentucky have pushed me over the edge. I don’t care what he or anyone else says: Kentucky’s basketball program is a fraud and a disgrace to Kentucky as an “academic” institution, and so are all the other programs just like it. You simply don’t admit “students” to your school who are clearly non-students destined for the NBA in a year or two.

Of course this pertains not just to college basketball, but all major college sports, which is why I’ve watched so little of it recently. Maybe I’m a blowhard for saying so, and I’m taking myself too seriously. But I’ve always been a big sports fan, and having graduated from UCLA, college basketball has run in my veins to some degree. Yet if it was UCLA who was 31-0, rather than Kentucky, I honestly believe my disinterest would be virtually the same. It’s just a joke. I know many others say this, but major college sports are little more than a minor league system for the big leagues, and academics doesn’t really come into it. These sports point up the general academic fraudulence that, in my view, permeates large portions of university undergraduate life.

Yes, the caveat needs to be made that there are plenty of athletes on NCAA athletic scholarships who major in engineering or some other challenging major and will take their academics seriously. I understand that, but I don’t think it changes the overall picture of major college sports, which is a huge money-making industry. ESPN’s Jay Bilas pretty much said it all in commenting on the NCAA’s “punishment” handed down to Syracuse recently: “People think, ‘What’ll happen is, schools will now recruit the lesser athlete, but the better student.’ They don’t do that. They’re not going to recruit the lesser athlete. They’re going to recruit the best athlete. That’s what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to win games and get athletes to play.” End of story.

On another sports related note, last night I watched one of the most stunning documentaries on the football brain damage issue I’ve ever seen: The October 8, 2013, PBS “Frontline” episode on “the NFL’s concussion crisis,” League of Denial, which you can watch here. If you find yourself wanting to watch something for about an hour-and-a-half, I’d highly recommend this. Indeed, I’d watch it again, it was that well done.

I had already pretty much decided that I didn’t want any of my boys playing football in their youth, but this cemented it. Former New York Giant and NFL Hall of Famer, Harry Carson, made the case all by himself in this film. And the pack of lies and obfuscation the NFL has promulgated, and continues to put forth, in my view, is just appalling. Anyone who has watched the NFL with an ounce of common sense can tell you that the NFL’s “doctors” were full of it.

Which got me thinking of something related to our culture’s cult of “science” in general. We’re told ad nauseum that science is “based on fact” and tells us the truth, while religion and morality is just a bunch of “opinion.” Science is “evidence based” because we observe things objectively. So we should all put our unwavering faith in science. Yet it was abundantly clear that observation and “evidence” meant nothing to the NFL and its doctors. They didn’t want to hear it. In other words, for the modern scientific enterprise to have any validity at all, it presupposes and depends on a bunch of non-scientific things, two of which are high regard for truth-telling and open-mindedness. Such values are not scientific and don’t come from science. Rather, they are pre-scientific metaphysical and spiritual necessities. Without them, there is no science. The human element cannot be removed, and scientists, particularly the NFL’s scientists, all have their personal, economic and other commitments, which were on full display. The documentary was sobering on so many levels. My wife was riveted, and she watches about 15 minutes of football during the Superbowl each year and that’s it.

-D

 

Written by Michael Duenes

March 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Epistemology: Every Person’s View of the World is a Faith Position

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“If a person says, ‘I want to base my whole worldview on reason,’ I would say, ‘Why do you do that?’ When he turns to give me a reason, what’s he doing? He’s flipping open his Bible.”  ~ Douglas Wilson, in the film Collision

The Bible states clearly that, “the fear of the LORD is beginning of knowledge.” The New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ is the God “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” This means that in order to truly know anything, our epistemology is dependent on God’s revelation in the Scriptures and in nature around us. Humans are not able to know anything apart from an epistemological foundation in God’s revelation. When a person rejects the Bible as the ultimate source of knowledge, and then attempts to render a judgment against the Scripture’s reliability and truth, that person must have some basis for rendering this judgment. He or she must have standards by which to judge the Scripture as something other than the inerrant, eternal, completely trustworthy truth from God.

But from where does she get these standards? If she claims to get them from “reason” or “rationality,” then she will have to provide some epistemological basis for demonstrating and justifying the position that, (a) she is the kind of being that possesses “reason” or “rationality,” and (b) her reasonings are reliable. She cannot simply pull “reason” out of thin air, take it as an unproven given or “hang it from invisible skyhooks” as Douglas Wilson would say. Truth is, apart from God, she will not be able to demonstrate that we are reasonable creatures. Godless, purely material/physical forces do not produce rationality. She will have to take it on faith, just like everything else. Every position is a faith position.

In real life, most people who reject the Bible simply borrow heavily from the biblical epistemology which is our cultural inheritance. That is, they borrow Christian capital, as it were. They use a biblical basis for their judgment of rejecting part or all of the Bible. They do not acknowledge that this is what they are doing, for that would be fatal to their unbelief. We want to live in the “thick” epistemological world that God created, but without being accountable or thankful to God for it. This is what St. Paul means when he says we “suppress the truth in our godlessness and wickedness.” We ought to understand the nature of this business we’re engaged in.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

December 26, 2014 at 12:33 pm