“The simplest truth about man is that he is a very strange being; almost in the sense of being a stranger on the earth. In all sobriety, he has much more of the external appearance of one bringing alien habits from another land than of a mere growth of this one. He cannot sleep in his own skin; he cannot trust his own instincts. He is at once a creator moving miraculous hands and fingers and a kind of cripple. He is wrapped in artificial bandages called clothes; he is propped on artificial crutches called furniture. His mind has the same doubtful liberties and the same wild limitations. Alone among the animals, he is shaken with the beautiful madness called laughter; as if he had caught sight of some secret in the very shape of the universe hidden from the universe itself. Alone among the animals he feels the need of averting his thought from the root realities of his own bodily being; of hiding them as in the presence of some higher possibility which creates the mystery of shame.” ―
“It’s all in Plato, all in Plato: Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?” ~Digory Kirke, from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia
I can’t recommend this lecture series enough! In them, Dr. Peter Kreeft gives an excellent introduction to Western thought that’s both accessible and delightful to listen to. Kreeft is perhaps one of the best popularizers of philosophy today. He helps us see the discipline along the beam, in fact. As an admirer of C.S. Lewis, Kreeft frequently makes use of his metaphor of looking both at and along something (the namesake of this blog). He has written an entire book series in which he creates illuminating dialogues between Socrates and various modern philosophers – from Hume, to Kant, to Freud, and more. The best philosophy, after all, is done in dialogue or along the beam.
“As a result of God’s creation of, and entry into time, He is now with us literally moment by moment as we live and breathe, sharing our every second. He is and will be always with us.” ~ William Lane Craig
Recently, I had the great pleasure of getting to take a class with Dr. William Lane Craig during my last semester of graduate school. The subject was the relationship of God to time – a subject for which Craig has pioneered some fascinating and important research. This opportunity was such a gift for me, too! I cannot express how indebted I feel to him and his ministry, Reasonable Faith, for helping me through a season of doubt in which I came very close to abandoning my belief in God. (I really wanted to give him a big hug, but Dr. Craig doesn’t seem like a hugger, so I refrained. I’ll give him one in heaven someday.)
Dr. Craig’s view of God’s relationship to time is novel, to say the least, as he rejects the classical view that God exists outside of time. I believe that he has very convincingly shown this view’s weaknesses. Craig’s conclusion is that God is timeless sans creation but temporal subsequent to the moment He created space/time.
Below are some of my reflections on the class. I hope you enjoy reading them and your curiosity is piqued to delve deeper into this very important topic.
“It is the design in Nature that strikes us first …”
“Everyone must have noticed the same thing in the fixed and almost offensive color of all unfamiliar things, tropic birds and tropic blossoms. Tropic birds look like staring toys out of a toy-shop. Tropic flowers simply look like artificial flowers, like things cut out of wax. This is a deep matter, and, I think, not unconnected with divinity; but anyhow it is the truth that when we see things for the first time we feel instantly that they are fictive creations; we feel the finger of God. It is only when we are thoroughly used to them and our five wits are wearied, that we see them as wild and objectless; like the shapeless tree-tops or the shifting cloud. It is the design in Nature that strikes us first; the sense of the crosses and confusions in that design only comes afterwards through experience and an almost eerie monotony. If a man saw the stars abruptly by accident he would think them as festive and as artificial as a firework. We talk of the folly of painting the lily; but if we saw the lily without warning we should think that it was painted.”
~G.K. Chesterton from What’s Wrong with the World
Woman and the Philosophers by G.K. Chesterton
The Speaker, January 26, 1901
The title of the work before us is Woman: a Scientific Study and Defence. It never occurred to us before that woman stood in need of a defence of any kind; and what the women of our acquaintance would think of being made the subject of a “scientific defence” we shudder to conceive. The work which Mr. Seed has adapted from M. Fouillee contains a considerable amount of sound and suggestive argument against the scientific theories of the inferiority of woman; but the plan of the book is a mistake. Instead of attempting to base the equality of the sexes on the domestic habits of some wretched amoeba in the primeval twilight, the author should have turned on the men of science and told them, with all possible respect, that they have nothing whatever to do with questions of superiority and inferiority. Obviously they have not. Whether woman is structurally different to man is a matter of physical science, whether she is superior or inferior or equal is not a matter of physical science; it is a question of what you happen to want. Science does its duty in saying that monkeys have tails and men have not; but as for saying that it is better not to have tails, that is a matter of taste and imagination, and by no means certain even at that.
On January 23, 2019, amidst cheers and applause, New York State passed legislation that added abortion rights to their state constitution. The crowd chanted “Free abortion on demand! We can do it! Yes, we can!” The World Trade Center joined the celebration by lighting its spire pink, the color of Planned Parenthood (ironically, while the memorial below bears the names of the unborn children who lost their lives in the attacks on 9/11). To those of us that oppose abortion, the jubilee cut right to the heart. Abortion is no longer regarded as a necessary evil, but something to be celebrated, even shouted from highest rooftops. What caused such a shift?
“He has been with us in the darkness of the womb as He will be in the darkness of the tomb.” ~Gilbert Meilaender, “Bioethics: A Primer for Christians”
It is revealing to look at how metaphors change throughout history, for these most often reflect shifts in the ways we look at the world and ourselves. Consider how the expressions for “having children” have changed. Older metaphors contained in them a sense of reverence for the process: “begetting” in ancient Israel, “genesis” in ancient Greece, and “procreation” in premodern times here in the West. Today, we “employ a metaphor of the factory, ‘re-production,” perhaps “impressed with the machine and the gross national product (our own work of creation),” observes philosopher Leon Kass. A phenomenon so deeply rooted in our biology is spoken of in mechanical and impersonal terms that seem at odds with our humanity. This is just another hint that the two-story view of the human being – with its splitting of body and mind, biology and will – has insinuated itself into our discourse. This is another outworking of the two-story view of truth in our world today (see the footnote for an explanation). Nowhere is this bifurcation of the human person more apparent than in the case of abortion and the personhood theory used to justify it.