, Books and Culture
: A Christian Review (May/June 2008, p. 32)
Theologians blithely attribute pain to the Fall, ignoring the marvelous design features of the pain system. Every square millimeter of the body has a different sensitivity to pain, so that a speck of dirt may cause excruciating pain in the vulnerable eye whereas it would go unreported on the tough extremities. Internal organs such as the bowels and kidneys have no receptors that warn against cutting or burning—dangers they normally do not face — but show exquisite sensitivity to distention. When organs such as the heart detect danger but lack receptors, they borrow other pain cells ("referred pain"), which is why heart attack victims often report pain in the shoulder or arm. The pain system automatically ramps up hypersensitivity to protect an injured part (explaining why a sore thumb always seems in the way) and turns down the volume in the face of emergencies (soldiers often report no pain from a wound in the course of battle, only afterwards). Pain serves us subliminally as well: sensors make us blink several times a minute to lubricate our eyes and shift our legs and buttocks to prevent pressure sores. Pain is the most effective language the body can use to draw attention to something important.
"The Federalist. No. LI.", Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, orig. Friday, February 8, 1788." in The Federalist: A Commentary on the Constitution of the United States
(G.P. Putnam's Sons: 1902), pp. 323-4.
What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human
nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels
were to govern, neither external nor internal controls on
government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be
administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you
must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the
next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the governement; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
Love God With All Your Mind (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997), p. 109.
Humility and the associated traits of open-mindedness, self-criticality, and nondefensiveness [are] virtues relevant to the intellectual life. We must be willing to seek the truth in a spirit of humility with an admission of our own finitude; we must be willing to learn from our critics; and we need to learn to argue against our own positions in order to strengthen our understanding of them... The purpose of intellectual humility, open-mindedness , and so forth is not to create a skeptical mind that never lands on a position about anything, preferring to remain suspended in midair. Rather, the purpose is for you to do anything you can to remove your unhelpful biases and get at the truth in a reasoned way.
"The Other Side of Evangelism", Christianity Today, 7 November 1980, p. 40.
I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough. But intellectual nurture cannot take place apart from profound immersion for a period of years in the history of thought and the spirit. People who are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the gospel have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking. The result is that the arena of creative thinking is vacated and abdicated to the enemy... It will take a different spirit altogether to overcome this great danger of anti-intellectualism. For example, I say this different spirit, so far as philosophy alone — the most important domain for thought and intellect — is concerned, must see the tremendous value of spending an entire year doing nothing but poring intensely over the Republic or the Sophist of Plato, or two years over the Metaphysics or the Ethics of Aristotle, or three years over the City of God of Augustine. But if a start is made now on a crash program in this and other domains, it will take at least a century to catch up with the Harvards and Tübingens and Sorbonnes — and by then where will these universities be?
Sleeper, dir. Woody Allen, writers Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman (Dec 17, 1973), 1:26:00.
Luna: But Miles, don't you see, meaningful relationships between men and women don't last. That was proven by science. You see, there's a chemical in our bodies that makes it so that we all get on each other's nerves sooner or later. Miles: That's science. I don't believe in science. Science is an intellectual dead end. You know, it's a lot of little guys in tweed suits and cutting up frogs on foundation grants, and... Luna: Oh, I see. You don't believe in science, and you also don't believe that political systems work, and you don't believe in God, huh? Miles: Right. Luna: So, then, what do you believe in? Miles: Sex and death. Two things that come once in my lifetime. But at least after death you're not nauseous.
"Jesus' Resurrection and Christian Origins", chap.9 in Passionate Conviction, eds. Paul Copan and William Lane Craig (B&H Academic, Nashville : 2007), p.128.
The historian is bound to face the question: once Jesus had been crucified, why would anyone say that He was Israel's Messiah? ¶ Nobody said that about Judas the Galilean after his revolt ended in failure in AD 6. Nobody said it of Simon bar-Giora after his death at the end of Titus's triumph in AD 70. Nobody said it about bar-Kochbar after his defeat and death in 135. On the contrary, where messianic movements tried to carry on after the death of their would-be messiah, their most important task was to find another messiah. The fact that the early Christians did not do that but continued against all precedent to regard Jesus Himself as Messiah, despite outstanding alternative candidates such as the righteous, devout, and well-respected James, Jesus' own brother, is evidence that demands an explanation. As with their beliefs about resurrection, they redefined messiahship itself and with it their whole view of the problem that Israel and the world faced and the solution they believed God had provided. They remained at one level a classic jewish messianic movement, owing fierce allegiance to their Messiah and claiming Israel and the whole world in His name. But the mode of that claim and the underlying allegiance itself were drastically redefined. ¶ The rise of early Christianity, and the shape it took in two central and vital respects, thus presses upon the historian the question for an explanation. The early Christian retained the Jewish belief in resurrection, but both modified it and made it more sharp and precise. They retained the Jewish belief in a coming Messiah but redrew it drastically around Jesus Himself. Why? ¶ The answer early Christians themselves give for these changes, of course, is that Jesus of Nazareth was bodily raised from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion.
The Brothers Karamazov, Constance Black Garnett, trans. (Modern Library: 1977), p. 254.
There was in those days a general of aristocratic connections, the owner of great estates, one of those men — somewhat exceptional, I believe, even then — who, retiring from the service into a life of leisure, are convinced that they’ve earned absolute power over the lives of their subjects. There were such men then. So our general, settled on his property of two thousand souls, lives in pomp, and domineers over his poor neighbours as though they were dependents and buffoons. He has kennels of hundreds of hounds and nearly a hundred dog-boys — all mounted, and in uniform. One day a serf-boy, a little child of eight, threw a stone in play and hurt the paw of the general’s favourite hound. ‘Why is my favourite dog lame?’ He is told that the boy threw a stone that hurt the dog’s paw. ‘So you did it.’ The general looked the child up and down. ‘Take him.’ He was taken — taken from his mother and kept shut up all night. Early that morning the general comes out on horseback, with the hounds, his dependents, dog-boys, and huntsmen, all mounted around him in full hunting parade. The servants are summoned for their edification, and in front of them all stands the mother of the child. The child is brought from the lock-up. It’s a gloomy, cold, foggy, autumn day, a capital day for hunting. The general orders the child to be undressed; the child is stripped naked. He shivers, numb with terror, not daring to cry.... ‘Make him run,’ commands the general. ‘Run! run!’ shout the dog-boys. The boy runs.... ‘At him!’ yells the general, and he sets the whole pack of hounds on the child. The hounds catch him, and tear him to pieces before his mother’s eyes!... I believe the general was afterwards declared incapable of administering his estates. Well — what did he deserve? To be shot? To be shot for the satisfaction of our moral feelings? Speak, Alyosha!
"God Is Not Dead Yet"
, in Christianity Today
However all this may be, some might think that the
resurgence of natural theology in our time is merely so much labor
lost. For don't we live in a postmodern culture in which appeals to
such apologetic arguments are no longer effective? Rational arguments
for the truth of theism are no longer supposed to work. Some Christians
therefore advise that we should simply share our narrative and invite
people to participate in it. This sort of thinking is guilty of a disastrous
misdiagnosis of contemporary culture. The idea that we live in a
postmodern culture is a myth. In fact, a postmodern culture is an
impossibility; it would be utterly unlivable. People are not
relativistic when it comes to matters of science, engineering, and
technology; rather, they are relativistic and pluralistic in matters of
religion and ethics. But, of course, that's not
postmodernism; that's modernism! That's just old-line verificationism,
which held that anything you can't prove with your five senses is a
matter of personal taste. We live in a culture that remains deeply
An email response to Amanda Gefter's "Creationists Declare War over the Brain"
, The New Scientist
(October, 22 2008). Cited in "EPS Philosophers Respond to New Scientist Article On 'Creationism' and Materialism" on the Evangelical Philosophical Society Blog
(October 23, 2008).
The simple truth is that in both science and philosophy, strict
physicalist analysis of consciousness and the self have been breaking
down since the mid-1980s. The problems with physicalism have nothing
directly to do with theism; they follow from rigorous treatments of
consciousness and the self as we know them to be. The real problem
comes in trying to explain its origin and for this problem, naturalism
in general and Darwinism in particular, are useless. In my view, the
only two serious contenders are theism and panpsychism which, contrary
to the musings of some, has throughout the history of philosophy been
correctly taken as a rival to and not a specification of naturalism.
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (W.W. Norton: 2003), p. 13.
We live in a democratic age. Over the last century the world has been shaped by one trend above all others — the rise of democracy. In 1900 not a single country had what we would today consider a democracy: a government created by elections in which every adult citizen could vote. Today 119 do, compromising 62 percent of all countries in the world. What was once a peculiar practice of a handful of states around the North Atlantic has become the standard form of government for humankind. Monarchies are antique, fascism and communism utterly discredited. Even Islamic theocracy appeals only to a fanatical few. For the vast majority of the world, democracy is the sole surviving source of political legitimacy. Dictators such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe go to great effort and expense to organize national elections — which, of course, they win handily. When the enemies of democracy mouth its rhetoric and ape its ritual, you know it has won the war.