Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Poem, a Blasphemer, and a Defense of the Ugly in Art

Ok, so here are two things of interest for today:
On Beauty: Axiom #4: Your Job is Not to Make Pretty is an interesting post by an Arts Pastor which argues that part of the believing artist's mandate for Truth is to tell the Truth about the "Good stuff, Mundane stuff, and Fallen stuff." While I agree with him, I would have to suggest one concern, and that is that the artist must keep the commandment to "love thy neighbor" or else any of these "stuffs", but particularly the "Fallen stuff" can become a stumbling block for others. Other than that qualification, I agree with his argument. The essay is brief and a good read for Christian artists.

The second article comes from ABC News and is a write up about the work of "The Rational Response Squad" and their "Blasphemy Challenge," wherein people call in to their internet radio show and publically blasphemy the Holy Spirit to show their atheism and support of atheists. By itself, this group would just seem like a bunch of pathetic attention seekers in a culture which loves to be shocked; however, as the article points out, this is really just another part of a new movement in atheism which seeks to actively attack Christianity as a dangerous idea. This new movement reminds me of Schaeffer's analysis of why the Romans could not tolerate the Christians and persecuted them while allowing most other religious to co-exists with their society: Christianity provides a basis to judge the actions of a government and its people, and while most religions then and now do not deny the validity of other beliefs and religions, Christianity claims to be the only truth, and absolute truth is a dangerous idea.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Your Soul Just Died" Tom Wolfe's Exploration of the Future of Neuroscience

Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died.

In this article from 1996 Tom Wolfe, of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test fame, examines the new, hip field of neuroscience. The article is well written and witty, but what is particularly interesting is the connections he draws to values, morals, justice, and the soul in light of work being done in this field. As neuroscientists claim with increasing confidence that man is determined by his genes, the politically correct attempt at equality between people comes to be seen as working against our natural state; our desire to see life as filled with value and to find morals outside of ourselves to govern our actions also appears ludicrous. Wolfe, however, does not see this as a good thing at all. In fact he even hopes that those who are advancing this field (and it's handmaiden in evolution) will lose out so that our society will not fall into decay:
Unless the assurances of the Wilsons and the Dennetts and the Dawkinses also start rippling out, the lurid carnival that will ensue may make the phrase "the total eclipse of all values" seem tame.
Although this article is quite long, it is worth the read and as it discusses the fall of Marxism and Freudism and the rise of sciencism. The title of the article comes from Nietzsche's idea that "God is dead," which the German philosophy presented as a historical fact about 19th century Europe's abandonment of religion. Wolfe argues that the next step away from God is the idea that the soul is dead, which he believes a "prophet"/scientist will soon proclaim, thus leading to an age of utter immorality (amorality) unparalleled in our history. At times the article seems dated (such as the mention of the Sega Genesis), but the mention of David Berlinski and Michael Behe as two men who were challenging established science is interesting. This article also shows some of the complications in neuroscience that Pinker fails to adequately address in his article as I previously pointed out.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Narnia Article to Be Published?

I just got notice today that an essay I wrote on C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, and the Wordrobe (a comparison of the film and book versions) might be published in a collection of essays on Narnia. You can read an early, blog version of the essay here.

Steven Pinker, Consciousness, and a "New Morality"

I think I'm going to start posting links to articles of interest here, maybe everyday. Sometimes I'll include commentary, other times I'll just let you read and comment yourself. Today's link is to a Times article article written by Steven Pinker, esteemed professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Harvard and good friend/co-conspirator with Dawkins, in which he argues for a "New Morality" based on the existence of consciousness. His argument could be summarized thus:
All humans are conscious,
Conscious people can suffer,
therefore it is morally right to keep all people from suffering.

You'll notice that there is a significant logical step missing here: Suffering is absolutely bad. And of course, based on a purely evolutionary/materialistic worldview he is simply unable to make this claim, which is why he leaves the premise out. Nevertheless, it is a good read, easy, short, and it is important because it presents a worldview which Christians are being forced more and more often to confront:
The Mystery of Consciousness