The idea of free will tends to run into problems (or at least perceived problems) in both atheistic worldviews (like Objectivism) and in theistic worldviews (like Christianity). The Christian Egoist advocates certain “brands”, or aspects, of both, and therefore I get a lot of questions about free will, or things pertaining to it. Whether you’re dealing with “strict” laws of logic and nature, or with “strict” ideas of God’s sovereignty and providence, many seem to think that such “suffocating” ideas must necessarily “crowd out” any possible notion of human free will. But could this be because such people haven’t thought very carefully about what free will is? I think so. ...continue reading
Thanks to conversations with a fellow follower of the blog (you know who you are! Haha), I was recently inspired to do a little bit of digging to see what the different modern Objectivist intellectuals had to say on this issue. I was surprised to discover such sharp disagreement.
Below, you'll find two of Peikoff's podcasts on this topic and one from Hsieh. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Which do you agree with? Why? Is there another position or major Objectivist out there who has a similar position on this?
"In a previous podcast you said that it is wrong to go against nature by undergoing a sex-change operation–that the metaphysically given is an absolute. But by this definition gender is not metaphysically given because we can now change it if we so chose."
"Since race is social construct, not a biological or theological one, some people reject that terminology altogether"
-K. Edward Copeland, on "Public Justice" at The Gospel Coalition
Yeah, try figuring out what that's supposed to mean. For a clue, check out this great (and revealing) article by Walter Hudson on the recent trend of counting "Black" as an ideology, rather than a skin color.
Do you see what is happening? The left has, for years, successfully peddled their ideology under the auspices of being the "non-racist" party, and recently has ramped up to hyper-speed the racial rhetoric to condemn any and all detractors as racists, even if the issue had nothing to do with someone's skin color. The right is (finally!) catching wise to the game and calling them on it, both by pointing out that skin color (i.e. race) has nothing to do with most of these issues, and by presenting many conservative racial minorities, or "people of color," who flat out contradict the left's "narrative".
You'd think this meant the game was up, but oh no! They're just getting started. You see, because race doesn't have anything to do with "biology" or "skin color" anymore–– ...continue reading
In this episode, I review some major objections against the traditional cosmological argument (particularly those raised by Objectivist philosopher, Dr. Diana Hsieh), and respond to each. You can view an outline of those objections below. You can also listen directly to Dr. Hsieh present these arguments in her series here.
This is the first episode of The Christian Egoist Podcast!
It is also the first episode in the series on Arguments for the Existence of God.
In this episode, I begin with a brief introduction of myself and my work, and then explain that this series is interacting heavily with Dr. Diana Hsieh's series on the same topic (More on her and her series below). Then, I give an overview of my various audiences, along with unique challenges to each. In sum though, my challenge to everyone in my audience on this (and every other issue) is to be devoted to the truth, whatever the costs! ...continue reading
Balance. It’s probably the fundamental functional morality for most people today. And it’s definitely the go-to answer for most moral conundrums. How do love and truth go together? Justice and mercy? Individualism and community? God’s sovereignty and human responsibility? Personal responsibility and charity? The answer: “Balance.”
A Dubious Assumption
But isn’t there a dubious assumption behind the idea that good and true things need to “balance” each other out? The idea of balance implies an inverse relationship between those things which are being balanced: the degree to which one goes up, the other goes down — and vice versa. The degree to which love goes up, truth goes down; and the degree to which truth goes up, love goes down. Such is the conventional wisdom. The key to morality then, in this case, is to “balance” the two out. But what does this mean?
Let us think about it on a spectrum (for this is what the idea of balance implies), with truth on the left, and love on the right. Say that the far left is a 10 on the scale of passion for the truth, and the far right is a 10 on the scale of passion for love. The further you are on either end of the scale toward one virtue, according to the modern conception of morality, the further away you are from the other virtue. Now, if maximum passion for truth is a 10 on one side, and maximum passion for love is a 10 on the opposite side, what would the “balanced” middle of the spectrum be but a zero for both?
Now, let us imagine all of these supposed dichotomous virtues on their own respective spectrums: Justice and mercy on opposite ends; individualism and community; etc.., with all of these spectrums intersecting at the same spot to make a sort of pin-wheel. Perhaps Justice is at 12 o’clock with mercy at 6; truth at 9 o’clock with love at 3 o’clock; and so on with all of the potential spectrums going “‘round the clock.” Now picture what the result would be if one were capable of achieving a perfect “balance” on all of these spectrums. If one’s passion for each of the virtues were measured at this point of equilibrium, the reading would be: zero. Zero virtue. The aim of balancing out the virtues means not aiming at any one particular virtue (this would cause imbalance), but aiming, rather, at neutrality to all the virtues. Such is the implicit ideal behind those who think of morality in terms of balance.
The Pendulum Effect
And such is the cause of the pendulum phenomenon: the swinging from one good “emphasis” to another — whether in culture or in the individual. In fact, if one has this view of morality (this idea of inverse relations between the virtues), there is no other option for the one who wishes to pursue the virtues, then to swing eternally from some “extreme” to another, in the desperate and futile attempt to arrive at the ideal of “balance,” “equilibrium,” neutrality; apathy. Isn’t that — the dreary spell of apathy — the inevitable end of those “mature,” lifeless, beings who have “grown up” and “learned to be balanced,” by avoiding all “extremes” — which means: avoiding all principles, and all virtue?
Observe the spiritual death in the faces of those who have supposedly reached such “balance.” Observe the disdain in their faces (and their voices — as they write disparaging articles), looking down in self-righteous pity upon the “poor” and “naive” souls who are still trying to pursue some virtue or another; observe the frustration of the poor souls who love all of the virtues (as they ought to), but are eternally tortured because of that love — or rather, because of this twisted view of morality, which has condemned that very love for virtue as evil-–I mean, “imbalanced,” from the very start.
What evil, what torture, what agonizing psychological despair, such a view of morality heaps upon its victims. It turns the essence of morality (pursuit of virtue) into the essence of evil, and the essence of evil (neutrality toward all virtue) into the essence of the good. How much despair such a seemingly innocent conception as “balance” can inflict upon those who desire to be good. This is a first-rate example of the absolute necessity of thinking rightly; the necessity to properly integrate those things in life which seem dichotomous (like various virtues); the desperate need for thinking philosophically — lest one fall victim to such insidious doctrines of despair as the one laid out above.
In a recent interview with Collin Hansen (above), Dr. John Piper explained why he didn’t gravitate toward the language of color-blindness. At his Church (Bethlehem Baptist -- which is where I currently attend), his successor, Jason Meyer, just preached on the annual emphasis of racial harmony. In light of these events, and of course, Martin Luther King Jr. day, I thought this would be a good opportunity to flesh out my views on the issue. ...continue reading
The word “curse” often evokes fairytale imagery or some sort of mystical power which corrupts everything under its influence. But this magical motif in fiction has a very real non-fiction counterpart: irrationality (or sin). In children’s stories, we resort to magical language because it provides a simple and concrete way of depicting the corruption which takes place as a result of irrationality and sin in one’s life –– or in the culture. At least, that would be the rational way of using such mystical language.
The Curse is in You
Unfortunately, there seems to also be an awful lot of people who really do think of sin or evil as some sort of mystical or magical force –– like an invisible spell cast over the population, from which none can escape. After all, that would make it something beyond any one person’s control, and would therefore implicitly expunge everyone from any sort of guilt associated with it. Those who love their own darkness are all too eager to accept the premise that that darkness was pushed upon them, quite apart from their desires. And those who love their own darkness are quite opposed to shining any light upon that darkness (i.e. rationally analyzing it) in order to discover its actual causes and origins. ...continue reading
My home state, Idaho, is the latest locale for the showdown between the LGBT movement and Christian businesses. This time, it's not a Christian bakery or photographer, but a wedding chapel. You can read the article here.
It's tempting for Christians to think that these instances of Christian businesses being forced to acquiesce to the LGBT agenda is the result of the recent and sweeping legalization of "gay marriage", but that conclusion seems a little too reactionary, and misses some more fundamental issues that Christians should have been aware over the past few decades. Think about it: typically, making something legal does not automatically make it illegal to decline participation in that thing. When marijuana was recently made legal in a few states, it was not simultaneously made illegal for a Washingtonian to decline a joint offered to him by his neighbor, or for a Colorado woman to tell her kids that smoking pot can be bad for them. So why then, is the legalization of "gay marriage" resulting in the criminalization of those who disagree with it? There is obviously something else at play. ...continue reading
The following is my response to Wayne Grudem's recent article at TGC, Is Gaining Profit From Someone Else's Work Exploitation?
A Great Article, But...
This is a great article, in that it demonstrates the glorious nature of wealth creation (and therefore life-enhancement) in a Capitalist system, while demonstrating some great Biblical principles which support such wealth-creation -- however the article seems to ground the 'goodness' of this employer-employee relationship (and implicitly, of Capitalism in general) in 'love for the other person', which has dangerous implications if carried out consistently (see the Marxist-sympathizing comments in the comment section for examples).
The Only Proper Foundation
While love for others certainly ought to be a strong driving motive of the Christian in all things, it should not (and cannot) be the foundation for the goodness of Capitalism (the system Grudem is implicitly defending above). The only proper foundation (Biblical or otherwise) for Capitalism is: Justice. ...continue reading