"Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning."
"The fingers of your thoughts are molding your face ceaselessly."
"Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere."
"Humility enforces where neither virtue nor strength can prevail, nor reason."
"Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil."
Resistance Thinking Culture
Culture is a term used to describe why humans act the way they do. The study of culture attempts to explain why certain behaviours have special significance for some humans, where as for others it is completely meaningless. Culture encompasses everything from watching television and surfing the web, to doing yoga and having pre-arranged marriages.
All of the human behaviours that make up a particular culture are founded on a certain set of ideas. For instance, Islamic women wear a hijab for modesty because of teahcings in the Hadith and many Christians wear a cross around their neck in rememberance of Christ. These are human behaviours that are founded on a very clear set of ideas. Ideas are expressed in human behaviours that make up a certain culture.
In this culture section you will find articles, news and reviews on an extrememly diverse range of topics that relate to culture: the media - TV, news, magazines, movies etc., other religions - Islam, Judaism, New Age, Buddhism, Hinduism etc., philosophy - postmodernism, existentialism, humanism, consumerism etc., popular culture, music, Christian culture - music, moviews etc., and a whole lot more!
I recently re-watched the Star Wars prequel series. While it leaves a lot to be desired from its predecessor Episodes I, II & III have unbelievable graphics and awesome lightsaber duals. Perhaps the most memorable battle from the whole Star Wars saga is when Obi-Wan Kenobi confronts a rampaging (and very red-eyed) Anakin Skywalker on the volcanic world of Mustafar. It seems an apt place to conclude the prequel and segue into the 1977 film A New Hope.
What is very interesting about this confrontation is the dialogue through-out the fight (I’ve got to be honest, the lightsaber battle starts getting a bit stupid when they fall into the volcanic river). While it is no drama scene, not since the father-son bonding in The Empire Strikes Back, (where Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker spend a pleasant afternoon bungee jumping off Cloud City and trying out arm amputations - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6sj89xgnl4) has there been a dialogue as powerful and revealing as the discourse between Anakin and Obi-Wan. See below:
Anakin, in one of his regular fits of anger, blames his previous best friend, Obi-Wan, for turning his closet-wife against him. Thus generates some particularly eye-opening dialogue which I want to address. The first is Obi-Wan’s comment:
“Only a sith deals in absolutes”. There are several things ironic about this statement. The first is that this statement is a logical fallacy in and of itself. For instance, the making of such a statement itself is an absolute statement (sith are the ONLY ONES who deal in absolutes). However, the hypocrisy doesn’t end there. Surely the Jedi, who are supposed to be "the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy" would be required to deal in absolutes. After all, comments like “you have become the very thing you swore to destroy”, “I have failed you Anakin, I have failed you” and “Emperor Palpatine is evil!”, all of which are uttered by Obi-Wan in this exchange, are objective comments (that is, remarks of absolutes).
This divide, between relative morality and objective morality is very much in play in our time and in this galaxy. Many people believe that morality is merely a construct of the human mind, thus we each subjectively find both meaning and morality within ourselves and from our culture. Because of this we should not impose our morality on others (a common relativist argument). As Greg Koukl states:
If relativism is true then there is no standard like that standing outside of us so there's no sense to the notion of justice or fairness. There's no accountability. Everybody does their own thing. There's no possibility of moral improvement or moral discourse, you can't even discuss things morally in an intelligent fashion because there's no better or worse morality in the context of relativism.
I think it is clear that the Jedi-way, as depicted in the Star Wars universe, is one of absolutes and not relativism. Mind you, it’s no wonder Obi-Wan is confused. What with him participating in a Buddhist-like cult. For instance, compare a Jedi to a Buddhist monk. We see such great similarities that one can only deduce that what is occurring is a misunderstanding of worldviews. A worldview like cosmic humanism (or Buddhism) does not lead to condemnation such as “Emperor Palpatine is evil!”. Only a God like the one who gave Moses the Ten Commandments has the power to ordain rules and distribute justice.
Also worth noting is Anakin’s philosophy. “I do not fear the dark side as you do. I have brought peace, freedom, justice and security to my new empire!”. Anakin believes that the ends justify the means. Because of his relativistic position he can rationalise using the “dark side of the force” for, what he deems, is the good of the empire. Many people rationalise their actions as Anakin does.
But Anakin’s actions go further than this. He ultimately makes a deal with the devil (i.e. Emperor Palpatine) in an attempt to save his wife. George Lucas has pointed to Faust, a German legend, as inspiration for this characteristic of Anakin Skywalker. The gist of this story is the man who has power desires more. Indeed this is what the Emperor offers Anakin:
And there you have it again. Palpatine tells Anakin “good is a point of view”. George Lucas may not mean to associate relativism with Satan’s lies but it is unmistakable that this is the strongest lie in Palpatine’s arsenal (well, this and how he has the power to save Padme’s life).
By the end of Episode III Anakin has been transformed into a hate-filled monster where only his desires and ambitions drive him. Yet we shouldn’t be surprised. As Greg Koukl asserts in regards to relativism “[t]here's got to be something wrong with an allegedly moral point of view that produces a moral champion who has the moral substance of a sociopath”.
"What this all goes to show is that nonsense remains nonsense, even when talked by world-famous scientists."
It seems very popular for an "eminent scientist" to bring a book out that claims that they have made God obsolete. It's safe to say that most of the time this seems to be a publicity ploy in an attempt to sell copies. Usually humanistic scientists don't bring anything new to the debate (see Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion). Occasionally, though, a scientist postulates a new reason for God's non-existence. This leads us to Stephen Hawking's newest book The Grand Design which seeks to convince us, the readers, that God is not needed because of "a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing".
Of course, such a challenge can not go unimpeded and two of the most eminent Christian apologists have taken up Hawking's (and co-author Leonard Mlodinow's) challenge. As an initial point The Grand Design claims that philosophy is obsolete:
Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. It has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly in physics. As a result scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.
The Grand Design, pg 5
This claim seems similar to Richard Dawkins and one can't help feeling that such an assertion is merely an attempt to discredit those who would vehemently disagree with the findings of the author. William Lane Craig, as a Christian philosopher, provides a measured response:
The most important conclusions drawn in [The Grand Design] are philosophical, not scientific. Why, then, do they pronounce philosophy dead and claim as scientists to be bearing the torch of discovery? Simply because that enables them to cloak their amateurish philosophizing with the mantle of scientific authority and so avoid the hard work of actually arguing for, rather than merely asserting, their philosophical viewpoints.
Beyond that, apologist and Oxford Mathematics lecturer, Professor John Lennox, has written a short book entitled God And Stephen Hawkingwhich spends 96 pages describing some mistakes that are made in The Grand Design. Of note Lennox states:
It is seldom that one finds in a single statement two distinct levels of contradiction, but Hawking appears to have constructed such a statement. He says the universe comes from a nothing that turns out to be a something (self-contradiction number one), and then he says the universe creates itself (self-contradiction number two). But that is not all. His notion that a law of nature (gravity) explains the existence of the universe is also self-contradictory, since a law of nature, by definition, surely depends for its own existence on the prior existence of the nature it purports to describe.
God and Stephen Hawking, pg 31- John Lennox
This book is cheap and short and is well worth the handful of dollars it costs. However, if one did not want to purchase it then check out John Lennox's hour long lecture which goes over his main assertions in the book:
It is not just Christian apologists who have disagreed with Hawkings book. Many humanist scientists are unhappy with the way Stephen Hawkings has used the M-theory, from physics, to declare the extinction of God. One such physicist who is not taken by The Grand Design is Roger Penrose who is adamant that the inability to observationally test M-theory is an extreme shortcoming of the theory:
I will leave the final word up to Professor David Gross, whose field is particle physics and string theory and he was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics (again, he is not a theist):
One thing that is sure to generate sales for a book of this kind is to somehow drag in religion. The book's rather conventional claim that "God is unnecessary" for explaining physics and early universe cosmology has provided a lot of publicity for the book. I'm in favor of naturalism and leaving God out of physics as much as the next person, but if you're the sort who wants to go to battle in the science/religion wars, why you would choose to take up such a dubious weapon as M-theory mystifies me.
"Atheists and skeptics now have equal access to our children as we have, which is why the number of Christian youth who believe in the fundamentals of Christianity is decreasing and sexual immorality is growing, apologist Josh McDowell said.
“What has changed everything?” asked the apologist from Campus Crusade for Christ International as he spoke on “Unshakable Truth, Relevant Faith” at the Billy Graham Center in Asheville, N.C., Friday evening. His answer was, the Internet.
“The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have... whether you like it or not,” said McDowell, who is author of two books on Christian apologetics, More than a Carpenter and New Evidence that Demands Verdict.....
McDowell, who considered himself an agnostic before accepting Christ, warned that the sexual immorality through the Internet was “marginalizing the maturity of the witness of Christ…all over the world.” It’s an “invasive, intruding immorality… that is all just one click away.” He said the majority of questions young people ask him are about sex, mainly “oral sex.”
The majority of all the 2.2 billion people who go to the Internet daily are between 15 to 25 years of age, he said. And there are 4.2 million pornographic sites. “Do you know how many pornographic emails would be circulated just today? 2.5 billion…just one click away.”...."
So, society is now in a state of such moral decay, that we have an adult website called ashleymadison.com which tailors for the adulterous individual who wants to forsake their marriage vows.
Here is an advertisement (much less erotic than some of their others) for this website:
Obviously, there are going to be people commiting adultery regardless of whether there is a website that lets them do it. However, this does not diminish the damage that such a site produces. Check out this piece of advice:
"Ashley Madison has become the primary place for people to turn to when monogamy turns into monotony. Our philosophy is that you can never be “too good” at cheating. Life is short, have an affair."
The creators of Ashley Madison seem keenly aware that, to an extent, they have to convince visitors that this is a legitimate service. Through this they are contributing to infidelity. There is even a page on their website entitled "Ashley's Married Dating Tips Keys To Success!". This service is so unreal it seems almost impossible to make up.
CEO Noel Biderman states that the reason they provide this service is because "we know it's part of the human condition. Why not create a community where these people can go, they're like-minded adults, and connect with one another" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha2vucTepPA&feature=relmfu).
As Christians we recognise that there are many parts of the human condition that are destructive and sinful. Unlike secularism we condemn murder, rape and theft because of biblical mandates. To some this makes us extremist, however, when discussing topics such as adultery, our worldview places us in the unsecular position of being able to reject the lie that what is apparently "natural" is permissible.
If we had websites encouraging a destructive behaviour like suicide there would be a justifiable uproar. Of course, such a website would not generate many return customers. Yet we allow this smirking man to tell us that we need a platform for this kind of relationship. In the end he is merely an opportunist preying on those who would disavow their marriages.
As somebody who is about to get married if find myself bitterly discouraged that companies like Ashley Madison are trying their best to cheapen marriage, all in the name of the bottom dollar!
The Wimbledon Gentlemen's Final was held last night and taken by an emphatic Novak Djokovic in four sets. While this win will not generate as much press in Australia as his win in our iconic Open earlier this year this is the indisputable holy grail of tennis. See the final moments of the match below:
Djokovic has had a professional year on the circuits to rival the history books. He has won 47 of a total of 48 matches this year and brought home prestigious silverware like the Hopman Cup, the Australian Open, the Dubai Tennis Championships, the Sony Ericsson Open, the Serbian Open, the Madrid Open, the Rome Masters and now Wimbledon.
In doing so, he has broken the shackles held by tennis's two leading men Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. He may never match Nadal's or Federer's Grand Slam totals (ten and sixteen respectively) but, right now, he deserves the title as the best professional tennis player in the world.
Anyway, I am showing my hand as a sports fanatic. The real message that I contemplated as I watched Djokovic sink to the ground in elation was one that Paul touches on in his letter to the church in Corinth. Paul challenges his readers to:
Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
As Christians we have something great to hope for. It is something more worthy of elation than the Cup and large cheque which Djokovic won yesterday. It is everlasting and achievable no matter what our physical abilities. Sometimes I have to question my joy as a response to the prize that Jesus has won for us. Perhaps, it is because the nature of this prize is one which we cannot win alone (unlike Djokovic's individual performance, albeit he is backed by a superb coaching and support team).
Djokovic was ecstatic because he won the ultimate prize in tennis. Why can't we be as ecstatic about receiving the greatest prize we can receive in our paltry time on earth. Does your heart soar every time you think about the victory of the cross?
A disappointing verdict has been reached by the US Supreme Court in regards to violent games. It has decided that California cannot regulate violent video games to stop them getting into the hands of children.
"Ripping out your video game opponents' spine is akin to Hansel and Gretel baking their captor in an oven.
That's the message sent to gamers by the US Supreme Court yesterday, after it refused to let California regulate the sale or rental of violent video games to children.
California's 2005 law would have prohibited anyone under 18 from buying or renting games that give players the option of "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being".
That means that children would have needed an adult to get games like Postal 2, the first-person shooter by developer Running With Scissors that includes the ability to light unarmed bystanders on fire.
However, governments do not have the power to "restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed", the court ruled, despite complaints about graphic violence.
On a 7-2 vote, it upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out the state's ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, saying the law violated minors' rights under the First Amendment.
"No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm," said Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion.
"But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed."
The California law would have prohibited the sale or rental of violent games to anyone under 18....."
Click here to read the full article on the Herald Sun's website.