Thursday, June 30, 2005

People and Ignorance

Was at Kinokuniya philosophy section last Tuesday (28 June 2005). While browsing through some books with Joyce, someone sounded from our back,"That's not a good book". Wondering which philosopher would that be, i turned and saw a yellow skin post middle-aged (50-60) asian standing there looking at us.

So, we talked.

(if you are wondering...Yes... this entry is another weird conversation that i had)


Asano: Plato's written works of Socrates is good. Do you know that Socrates is the father of our civilised XXXXXXX(some words of Mr.Asano that i forgot). Beginners must read Plato's ethics. But i think German philosophy is the best.

Joyce: Yes

me (gave a frenly smile): Socrates yea, "An unexamined life is not worth living."

**At this point, Mr. Asano seems to have no idea what am i talking about. And i actually repeated 4 times of that "An unexamined life is not worth living" before i told him who said it.

Asano: We must look at life from a distance, a far distance, to really know about ourselves and life, just like philosophers. To understand (or study) philosophy, we must be at least above 50. Just like when we look from a hill, we have a better view of things.

me: But when we are on top of the hill, although our view is better, but we will lost clarity of the object that we want to focus on.

Asano: Look, i am talking metaphorically, you can't take it literally.

me: Well, i am talking metaphorically too.

**Mr. Asano looked at me for a while before we continued.

Asano: You cannot interpret literally that of metaphoric(as if he didnt hear me just now). Like i told my students, a good book is a book that we read for the 100th time and yet still dont understand. That's why i told them not to read but 'dig'; dig into the book to get the truth. But nowadays, literature and philosophy have been commercialized. They emphasize more on the cover of the book than its content. That's why the cover of my book is plain.

**He showed me his book; the cover has some typing on a sheet of white A5, nothing else. Titled "American Breakfast" by Hideo Asano.

me: Have you heard of Natsume Soseki?

Asano: I dont know about Japanese writters. I think they are all rubbish. 3 reasons, first, they dont have the Bible, second, they dont talk to strangers, third...(i forgot).

me: The Bible? Why is it?

Asano: Because the Bible is the foundation of all philosophies. No one can write anything without the Bible.

me: Are you a Christian?

Asano: No, but i like the Bible. There is truth in it, different from contemporary books. All books (while he was pointing at the literature and philosophy sections) are rubbish. There isnt any truth in it anymore. And to study this (he pointed to the philosophy section), we must be above 50.

me: In that case, am i too young to study (or read) philosophy?

** He was silent for a while before we continued.

me: What is truth? How can we find truth?

Asano: To find truth, we must close our eyes to feel (or think of) the truth. When our eyes are closed, then only we can find truth.

me: Well, have you heard of Lao Tzu, the ancient chinese philosopher? He said,"If when i sleep, i am a man dreaming that i am a butterfly. How do i know when i am awake, i am not a butterfly dreaming that i am a man?"

** The conversation was carried on for the next few minutes before i told him that i have to leave.



*sigh*

Truth can be found with our eyes closed? I wish so.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Falsify the Falsification

In Science: Conjectures and Refutations, Sir Karl Popper wrote:

These considerations led me in the winter of 1919-20 to conclusions, which I may now reformulate as follows.

(1) It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory-if we look for confirmations.

(2) Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory-an event which would have refuted the theory.

(3) Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.

(4) A theory, which is not refutable by any conceivable event, is nonscientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of theory (as people often think) but a vice.

(5) Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability; some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.

(6) Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory. (I now speak in such cases of “corroborating evidence.")

(7) Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers-for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by re-interpreting theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a "conventionalist twist" or a "conventionalist stratagem.")

One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.

------------------------------------------
SzeZeng comments:

First, Sir Karl Popper recognized the value of metaphysical theory which cannot be refuted or falsify by mere empirical observation. In the same article, he wrote,” I thus felt that if a theory is found to be non-scientific, or "metaphysical" (as we might say), it is not thereby found to be unimportant, or insignificant, or "meaningless," or "nonsensical." it cannot claim to be backed by empirical evidence in the scientific sense-although it may easily be, in some genetic sense, the "result of observation."

According to him, even though metaphysics cannot be tested, it does not weight down its significance. From this point of view, there is no problem between his theory of falsification and theistic claim of the existent of God.

But what troubled me were the attempts by some anti-theists who argue that as long as a theory (be it metaphysics or physics) is not scientific, it cannot be in consideration at all.

To this charge, I may want to remind the incompetence of this principle in its nature cannot be a measurement use on metaphysics.

The principle of falsification can only be applied on theories of operational sciences; due to its limitation of not able to withstand itself of being refuted and falsified by its very own principle, if granted its application in metaphysics.

To its best, this principle can be consider as a meta-statement or meta-theory, which elevates itself beyond its very own nature in order to preserve its advantage of applying itself onto physical science, operational science or origin science.

Philosophically, to the materialists, this theory cannot be refuted or falsified, thus this theory cannot be consider as scientific as well. And if you realized, my previous sentence, which had falsify the principle of falsification, has granted the principle the status of being scientific, according to its own theory.
Yes, it is scientific, but scientifically refuted, if you like. (In another words, this principle is proven wrong by observation and examination, therefore it cannot be hold as true/ applicable, in its metaphysical nature).

Can you see its incompetency now?

This principle might work on drawing a line between science and pseudo-science, but only in physical reality. It must not touch metaphysics or pure philosophy.

This principle failed, if it ventured beyond the realm of physics. It is falsifiable and, in fact, falsified as demonstrated above, with its own principle. Which means, when it works, it kills itself.

This principle can only be more like a reminder to scientist in every field to constantly examine their findings and try to refute them in genuine and honest ways, so that those irrefutable theories might stand as real science.

Metaphysics is a science, as I see it. And its scientific status is definitely not confined by this falsification principle. It cannot categorize metaphysic as non-scientific and physics as scientific as claimed by some anti-theists.


Reference:
Norman Geisler, BECA

Karl Popper, Science: Conjectures and Refutations (http://cla.calpoly.edu/~fotoole/321.1/popper.html)


p/s: I suppose you have a certain depth of understanding in the above entry if u are reading this. Please criticize. Thank you.

p/s 2: Now only i noticed that Sir Karl Popper categorized his Falsification theorem into 7 points/stages.... same like my Supreme Systematic Apologetics.... hahahaha *vain laughter*

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Convenient

On that fateful evening of 11 June 2005, i was asked,"Isn't it too convenient to say that we are forgiven if we confess and believe in Christ even in the last moment of our life?"

I said,"Yes, but there is deep water below it."

I gave an illustration of a judge who found out that his convicted son is guilty of some charges that deserved death penalty. Because of his love to his son, after the judge sentenced the deserved punishment unto his son, he rose from his judgement seat, strip off his robe and told the court that he is willing to take up the penalty; to take his son's place on the electric chair. By this, the penalty has been carried out and the son's life preserved.

And if she would ask me again,"Isn't it too convenient to say that we are forgiven if we confess and believe in Christ even in the last moment of our life?"

I would say:
"It is convenient because it has been made convenient for us."


p/s: If i m not mistaken, it was jacksaid that told me about "it is convenient because it has been made convenient to us" many years back.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Supreme Systematic Apologetics

The title, by itself, has claimed almost what i am going to blog about.

On the fateful night of 11 June 2005, Saturday, that supposed to be a regular date has turned out to be a ground for the formulation of a proposition of an ultimate classical apologetic against all non-theism. As i was presenting the hypothesis of the existence of God to a fellow existential 'marxistial' atheist at a coffee shop in the midst of Orchard Road, the contraction of this supreme apologetic proposition came.

All this while I was facing the difficulty of bringing the arguments from general revelations to special arguments; in order to reach the particularism of the divine Existence. I had always ended up with an unmoved Mover or an uncaused Cause. Therefore there are times when i would prefer Presuppositional Apologetics rather than Classical ones, as tried to polemize because it seems that the Presuppositional stance is directed to special revelation instantly. But the weakness of it is that most defeaters find it difficult to play with the presuppositional rules. It is difficult for defeaters to presuppose the opposite and in a way, this is not a fair play. Though we can't get a total unbias stand but Presuppositional Apologetics involved a degree of bias that is too high for most skeptics. They can't cope with it. And that evening was the time for this agony to be ended.

The formulation of what i called Supreme Systematic Apologetics is a combination of Systematic Theology and Classical Apologetics. I think there might have been a handful of apologists that have thought of this, but i have yet came across any of their books, therefore it is important for me to draft it down for my own reference.

Systematic Theology + Classical Apologetics = Supreme Systematic Apologetics

ST + CA = SSA

Classical Apologetics which was championed by Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, Al-Ghazali, and contemporaries scholars such as William Lane Craig, J.P Moreland, Alvin Plantinga, Norman Geisler and Stephen Meyer & his team at Discovery Institute has established itself firmly by integrating Natural Theology with divine revelation. But this school has been considered weak by presuppositional apologist Cornelius Van Til. One of his reason was that, to its best, Classical Apologetics can only point to that someone/something behind this whole existence, which in this case, is still far away from upholding Christian Theism. He has a point and must not be taken for granted.

The Supreme Systematic Apologetics might sounds a little out of place for "Apologetic", as part, means 'systematic argumentative discourse in defense'. So, why a redundant "Supreme Systematic Apologetic"? Might as well be "Supreme Apologetics".

Simply because SSA is more systematically precise than regular Classical Apologetic and Presuppositional Apologetic. It is something like a "--" sentence (negation on a negated sentence).

SSA has been arranged into 7 different stages. Each stages represent by an argument that play its role in reducing and negating worldviews. It acts as to get the best out of Natural Theology through Systematic Theology. It uses the latter to extract with more precision in categorizing areas within Natural Theology that are revealing the nature of the divine Being.

Stage 1
Cosmological argument
- This argues for the need of a cause in everything that has a begining in its horizontal nature and a need of a sustaining cause in its vertical nature.


Stage 2
Teleological argument
- This argues for the unfathomable intelligence that the Cause possess through observing it effects that is Nature.

Stage 3
Morality argument
- This argues for a moral law Giver that care about Right and Wrong.
- This Being must also be good in nature.
- This argument distinguish the natures of Good and Evil.
- Atheism is completely crippled if arguments reached this stage.

Stage 4
Epistemological argument
- This argues for the ground for truth, the nature of knowledge and its limit and validity.
- This argument reveal the reasonableness that the existing divine Being possess.

Stage 5
Ontological argument
- This argues for the necessity of this Being and its simplicity, perfection and singularity.
- Pantheism, finiste godism, polytheism, and panentheism are all completely crippled at this stage.

Stage 6
Joy argument
- This argues for the ability of the divine Being to satisfy its creation's hollowness.
- Though this is the least strong argument among the previous ones, for it can be disbelieved easier, but it it difficult to be eradicate.
- Even atheist such as Betrand Russell admited this in his letter to Lady Otto.
- Agnosticism can be disproved at this stage.

Stage 7
Revelational argument
- Until here, the leftover worldview would be Monotheism (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). Thus this stage argues within itself. It is an argument that can only be done based on comparing each of the different Monotheistic revelations within itself.
- Each of these revelations have to deal with Origin, Morality, Meaning, and Destiny. It has to be consistent within itself and the 4 categories.




Reference:
Norman Geisler, BECA, Systematic Theology vol.1
Lee Strobel, Case for Faith, Case for Creator
JP Moreland & William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundation for Christian Worldview
C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity

Friday, June 03, 2005

Destiny and Legacy

Have any person ever thought of their destiny related closely with their legacy (if any)?

Recently, i m contemplating on this issue, "Am i destined to pass on a legacy? If yes, what then is my legacy?"

It dawn to me that our legacies have very much to do with our passion. A millionaire wants his children to take care of his wealth, so he pass it on to him. To the millionaire, his passion is to have his wealth to be well taken care of. A Jedi would want his legacy of protecting the Republic to be pass on as much as the millionaire.

As for me, i want people who claimed themselves as Christians to know what exactly are they claiming. Be it this generation or the upcoming ones. To live as Christ lived is the very aim of all true Christians, but how many of us able to actualized this ideal?

(My readers should be a sinner, if not, there is nothing much for u on this post. Dont mean to be rude, but please do click on other post. Thank you.)

If none of us can, then, isn't the pursuit in this faith a futility? How would the non-believers view us? UNREASONABLE.

First, they charged us for being ignorant of reality. And now, by our failure in not living a life of testimony in the world, we are being charged not only ignorant of reality but, worst, stubborn in not wanting to quit the stupid belief.

May be we can't live up to the exact livelihood that we ought to, but isn't the least that we can do is to give a defense of our continual pursuit of our faith?

How can we give defense if we are not informed?

Christian leaders around the world are urging the Christians to engage the society. Can Christians really engage the society? Does Christianity make sense in politics, economy, biochemistry, medical-ethics, education, psychology and sociology of today?
If Christianity doesn't make sense in all these areas, how then can Christians engage the society?


Which generation of Christians will engage the society?


The adults? When should the adults be informed and trained in this area?


When they are old enough? How old should that be?


When we think that they are old enough...


Exposure to practical knowledge is absolutely scary because knowledge in today's world has certain degree of power. To religious folks, knowledge serve as a mighty tool for conversion to any kind of faith. Atheist can be convert to Christianity while Christian able to be convert to atheism based on knowledge. This is the scary part. When i told Pearlynn that i trembles on ideas and books, i wasn't merely trying to be kidding. It was the real intensity that i had when i was exposed to atheism, pantheism, deism, agnosticism, panentheism, polytheism, oneness theology, openess theology, neo-orthodoxy, Darwinism, process theology, supralapsarianism, infralapsarianism, sublapsarianism, arminianism, conventionalism, hyper-realism, postmodernism, pluralism, relativism, inclusivism and etc.

Though dangerous yet this risk is inevitable if one should engage the society as Christ has called His people to be the light and salt in the world. If I lost my faith due to the exposure of practical knowledge and solid food, then i deserved it. It is better for me to find true value and meaning in life than to live a life filled with blankness and uncertainty just because I feel good about it. TRUTH IS NOT WHAT MAKES US FEEL GOOD.


Definitely not Christianity. If Christianity doesn't make any sense, i would be the first to come out from it. For hell is not fire burning in the afterlife, but a life in darkness in this one.

Just like how Jacksaid paraphrased Socrates;

Socrates: An unexamined life is not worth living

Jacksaid: An unexamined faith is not worth believing

After all if Christianity is true for all, then it should be able to withstand scrutiny of any kind. If Christians hold their faith as truth, then we must have our reason to believe it as true, not a blind faith.

If it is just a blind faith, what is the difference between Christianity and other faiths?