So I have unfortunately gotten out of the rhythm of posting. What that means is that there is a backlog of ideas and thoughts that I want to document and share. I’ve been thinking about and interacting with a bunch of different ideas that I hope to eventually be able to coalesce into something meaningful (largely a thesis in the Spring and hopefully even more meaningful things beyond that).
In the meantime though I want to post a few of the cool resources that are available. I’ve posted quite a few TED talks in the past. Those are always enjoyable. I’ve also been into iTunes U. Just the past few days I have been listening to lectures from Georgetown, Wheaton, Harvard, it’s great.
This course I actually listened to in its entirety last year. I’m by no means a philosopher but this was extremely interesting. Michael Sandel is a great communicator and thinker. There is a reason why his course Justice is one of Harvard’s most popular courses of all time.
It is extremely enjoyable and be careful you just might get caught thinking along the way!
“What is the Right thing to do?”
The entire semester is available here: http://www.justiceharvard.org/
Just a shorter post – but this is what I intended to do with my “thoughts” posts anyway- that was inspired by a conversation I had yesterday.
I was speaking with a International Relations professor who specializes in collective human rights and international law. In our discussion we came to the recent changes in the Middle East. He made a few very interesting points. He believes – hopes at least – that we will see genuine democracy and freedom emerge in the Middle East.
However, it won’t be a Western style democracy it will be Middle Eastern and by that he was implying it will be rooted in Islamic culture. The West has fully embraced secularist ideas and in his words, “they don’t have any reason to live. They talk about these ideas of freedom, liberty, democracy but what do they live for? A house, a car, money? Maybe to party and drink alcohol.” He is subscribing to the view that the removal of religious based values has undercut society and stripped it of its moral foundations. It was interesting to here this view being articulated by a Muslim academician.
What do you think? Can a society discredit religious ideas and still offer a sense of meaning and purpose in life? Can it justify a standard of morality? Where does it draw its support from? By casting of the lines that have moored Western society to a religious system has something essential been lost or is there something else that can take its place?
So this morning I watched another Ted talk and it was interesting as always. This talk purported to give:
a complete history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Internet, in a riveting 18 minutes. This is “Big History”: an enlightening, wide-angle look at complexity, life and humanity, set against our slim share of the cosmic timeline.
To be honest I was somewhat skeptical when I read the preview. As I mention in the About the Author page of this blog I am a believer in the Bible and my world view is shaped based on the Bible. I recognize in most academic realms this is viewed as the minority position so in listening to a talk that was going to deal with origins I was prepared for there to be a fundamental difference.
Yet, as I watched this video – I was shocked – surprised – for the first two minutes. David Christian described how the normal pattern of things is that generally things move from complex to simplistic (read: Second Law of Thermodynamics) – and so when we see the complexity around us we are forced to ask “how did it happen?” At this point he threw out the normal pattern of observable history and put his faith in “Goldilocks conditions” – not too hot, not too cold, but just right – and this was his explanation for how we got here. Millions and millions – billions and billions – trillion and trillion of “Goldilocks conditions” are the explanation for how the world came to be.
Now I am in means a scientist. I don’t claim to be one in the least or really even pretend to have a firm grasp on the more intricate details that would be shared if this talk were more than 17 minutes. What I would like to point out is that there are questions that require an element of faith. It may be faith in God. It may be faith in “Goldilocks conditions.” It may be faith in nothing. Even for the most rational there are question marks that have not been filled in.
My final thought on this matter is this: what is the object in which your faith has been placed? Is it reliable? Is it trustworthy? The test is not one of sincerity of faith – but the object of faith. This is nowhere more clearly seen than in questions of origins.
For a quick video that looks at the issue from the other side check out this short from Answers in Genesis: Click Here
They also have many more resources to explore: Start Here