Week 2: The Truth Project

Our church is offering an adult summer school class this year using “The Truth Project” as the curriculum. These are my notes from week 2. MY REFLECTIONS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. Dr. Del Tackett is leading and presenting in this video series. His blog is on deltackett.com.

Philosophy and ethics form the outside pillars of our understanding
– striving to understand “what our culture has been taken captive by”

2 Timothy 2: 24-26
– the Lord’s servant must gently instruct his opponents

24And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will

We were all outsiders before we came into the body of Christ

Col 2:8
– addressed to us as believers
– tone of this verse is a warning to believers
– message is we CAN be taken captive by lies

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

We have to receive this as a warning from God
– we should know what that deceptive philosophy looks like, otherwise we will be taken captive by it
– now showing an opening clip to a video series shown all over the United States and in other countries
– if you went to public school in the US, you may have seen this opening scene from “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan

– what were his opening words, “The cosmos is all that ever was, is, and ever will be”
– what he is fundamentally saying this is a material world, there is no God

[I HAVE READ THIS IDEA THAT CARL SAGAN, AN EXPERT ON SCIENCE BUT NOT THEOLOGY, MAKES LOTS OF FAITH CLAIMS IN HIS SERIES ‘COSMOS’]

If Sagan had came right out and said “There is no God” then that video wouldn’t have been shown in public schools
– Sagan says “our contemplations of the Cosmos stir us.”

What we see here is assumptive language: the most dangerous form of knowledge
– assumptions are caught and bought without an open, conscious dialogue
– if you buy a statement, you buy the underlying assumptions as well
– so Carl Sagan is precisely teaching here that “there is no God”

I DON’T ENTIRELY BUY THIS. I ACCEPT CARL SAGAN IS NOT SHARING A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW HERE, OF COURSE, BUT I QUESTION (AS I DID LAST WEEK AS WELL) THE IDEA THAT ANYONE PRESENTING A SCIENTIFIC VIEWPOINT IS NECESSARILY ANTI-CHRISTIAN AND ANTI-GOD.

Carl Sagan: “we are made of star stuff, some part of our being knows this, we can return to the cosmos”

I AGREE THAT SAGAN’S WORDS IN THIS CLIP ARE GNOSTIC

We are going to call this “the cosmic cube”
– philosophical position that all we have and know is inside the

What we see is a philosophy that is attempting to define everything, everything is inside the box

THIS IS NOT TRUE OF THE SCIENTIFIC WORLDVIEW. THE SCIENTIFIC WORLDVIEW ACCEPTS THERE ARE MANY THINGS OUTSIDE OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING, AND WE CANNOT GO BEYOND WHAT WE CAN OBSERVE IN A REPEATED ENVIRONMENT IN TERMS OF TRUTH CLAIMS

A contrary view, a Biblical view, is that God is outside the box and acts inside the box

in Deism, people said God created the box but really doesn’t act within the box, doesn’t send his Word, and certainly wouldn’t come to die for us
– if he doesn’t act, speak, care, or come to use when we need us / help us: then he is irrelevant and gone
– then we end up with “the Cosmos” of Carl Sagan

What is this thing called philosophy?”
– we are going to find that the Biblical worldview and the worldview we are exposing here are polar opposites

Basis of the Biblical worldview
– God Is
– God reveals himself to us: in his creation and in his special revelation / in his Word

The “other” worldview begins with the assumption:
– God is NOT

CLEARLY SCIENCE DOES NOT MAKE FAITH CLAIMS, THAT IS A GIVEN
– I DO NOT THINK IT IS ACCURATE TO SAY THAT ALL SCIENTISTS AND ALL OF SCIENCE STARTS WITH THE BELIEF THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST. LOOK AT DARK MATTER AS AN EXAMPLE. THERE ARE CERTAINLY THINGS WHICH SCIENCE ACKNOWLEDGES LIMITS TO ITS KNOWLEDGE.

Story of a man who was caught up in an addiction to pornography
– told him you do not believe in the omnipresence of God (if he did, he wouldn’t look at and do the things that he was)

A pantheist wouldn’t disagree with Carl Sagan’s statements
– a pantheist adds God throughout the box, not outside the box

Maybe we’ll turn God into “may the force be with you”
– paganism adds “spirit” inside the box
– many religions which profess belief in God do this as well

Without “the spirit” we might call it naturalism
– with the spirit we might call it “spiritual naturalism”
– this worldview says: the cosmos is all there was, all there is, and all there ever will be

What is philosophy?
– a scientific quest to discover “ultimate reality”

Again I love Webster’s old 1828 dictionary definition, of philosophy:

The objects of philosophy are to ascertain facts or truth, and the causes of things or their phenomena; to enlarge our views of God and his works, and to render our knowledge of both practically useful and subservient to human happiness.
True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle

that same definition NOT in current Webster’s

Something has changed in philosophy
– webster’s new dictionary says: philosophy is a search for underlying reality
– that leaves God out of the picture, which is the problem, because now you just have “the box” and are searching for the truth in the box

Philosophical questions:
– why do I exist?
– what is existence?
– what is thinking?
– what is reason?
– what is logic?
– what is knowing?
– if I know something, how can I know it is real?
– what is the meaning and purpose of life?
– where did we come from?

If you want an impossible task, try to find the answers in “the box”
– this has been the great quest of philosohpers from the beginning: to find the big answers to the big questions

The Universals
– how are we going to make sense of the particulars if we don’t know the answers to the universal questions

Story of friends who told him “the universal truths of Cricket

This quest for the answers to “the universals” is captured in this incredible painting by Raphael in the Vatican, “The School of Athens”
– this captures the philosophical dilemma between Aristotle (looking for the particulars) and Plato (looking for the ideals)
– problem was they were both looking for the answers in the box”

From "The School of Athens" by Raphael in Vatican City

IS THAT REALLY TRUE FOR PLATO? I AM NOT SURE

There was a huge gap between the particulars and teh universals
– why am I here?
– what is the meaning to my existance?

Now showing a photo of Leonardo Da Vinci
– believed he could find those universals
– people believed we could find the universals through mathematics, then turned to science, then turned to art
– ended up as most of the philosphers do despondent, depressed, failing in their quest

IS THAT STATEMENT CORRECT, THAT MOST OF THE GREAT PHILOSOPHERS END UP DEPRESSED

The world’s approach is to try and discover the universals from the particulars
– God’s approach is the opposte: we don’t have to hunt for the answers to those big questions, therefore we can live in this world and make sense of all the particulars around us

OR AT LEAST MOST OF THE PARTICULARS. I DON’T THINK WE CAN UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN THE WORLD

different options:
– materialism
– mechaism
– solopism:
– rationalism:
– more….

When I attend Kansas State University, I attended my first philosophy class
– I was sitting on the front row, and the philosophy professor began his lecture sharing a philosophy without God
– he said “you don’t even know if the chair you are sitting on is real…” and I asked myself, “I am paying for this?”
-this path takes us to depression

THIS IS RIDICULOUS. HE IS REJECTING THE WHOLE OF PHILOSPHY BASED ON THAT ONE OPENING STATEMENT FROM HIS FRESHMAN PHILOSOPHY INSTRUCTOR.

Can you live in a world that is postmodern?
– that says there is no absolute truth: that says we can both have a truth and they can both be true

Story of an architect who designed the building with randomness and chaos in mind

You cannot live in a non-reality, insane world
– but that is where philosophy has taken us

IT IS A RIDICULOUS AND INACCURATE ASSERTION TO SAY THAT ALL OF PHILOSOPHY IS POSTMODERN AND MONOLITHIC IN REJECTING THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, THE GOOD, IDEALS, AND OTHER CONCEPTS OUTSIDE THE MATERIAL WORLD
– HAS THIS GUY ACTUALLY READ PLATO?

Brings us to the pillar of ethics
– who makes the rules?
– what is right, what is wrong

If this is your philosophy, then might makes right (postmodern society)
– then this leaves you with 51% of the vote is right

SO IS HE REJECTING DEMOCRACY HERE?
– WHO IS MAKING A CLAIM THAT DEMOCRACY IS THE PATH TO TRUTH

Now showing a montage of video of different people sharing what they thing truth is and how you know what truth is

we don’t know how to answer this question without God
– do we fall back on some utilitarian, pragmatic position? what is best for society? what about the minority?
– when might begins to make right, you will find a lot of people oppressed and crushed

so what do we turn to?

SO I GUESS HIS ESSENTIAL POSITION IS THERE ARE NO ETHICS WITHOUT GOD.

From Plato’s Euthyphro:” Is an act right because God’s wills it….”

I WISH HE WAS LEAVING THE SLIDES UP LONGER

Now quoting William of Ockham cited in Feinberg and Feinberg
– means God could change
– that is wrong because we know God is unchanging

If God never changes, then how would this guy explain “the new covenant”
– I AGREE THAT GOD IS, HAS BEEN AND ALWAYS WILL BE. I ALSO BELIEVE GOD IS IN RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS PEOPLE AND THAT RELATIONSHIP CHANGES. THE OLD AND NEW COVENANTS AR EXAMPLES.

God can’t lie.
– lying is wrong because it is counter to the very nature of God

SO THIS GUY IS SETTING UP A COMPLETELY BLACK AND WHITE VIEW OF ETHICS AND GOD, WHERE THERE NO ARE GREY AREAS. I WONDER (BUT DOUBT) HE WILL BRING UP SOME GOOD CASE STUDIES AND SITUATIONS WHICH

Dr William Provine
– lecture at Harvard
– summarizing views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us
– no gods or purposive forces, no life after death, no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning for life, no free will for humans
– Christian humanism has a lot going for it, it is warm and kindly (not for gays, of course)
– problem is you have to suspend your rational mind
– question is can atheistic humanism give us anything? Yes, it can give us intellectual satisfaction because we don’t have to cling to the fairy tales of our youth
– free will is a horribly destructive idea for our society
– so we can rely on “proximate meaning”

SO WHY DOES HE VIEW ‘FREE WILL’ AS DESTRUCTIVE?
– THIS IS QUITE A VIDEO. I WONDER IF IT IS AVAILABLE ONLINE ON YOUTUBE

you can’t live in that kind of world
– THAT IS NOT REALLY TRUE, TO THE EXTENT THAT DR PROVINE AND MANY OTHERS DO “LIVE IN THAT WORLD.” I AGREE THE POSTMODERN WORLD BELIEFS CAN VIOLATE THE LAW OF NON-CONTRADICTION AND NOT BE CONSISTENT

Quotation from R.C. Sproul (video clip)
morality looks at “is”
ethics looks at “ought”
– this distinction has been blurred in our society
– this leads to a statistical view of morality, “the good” is determined by “what is” rather than “what ought to be”
– this leads to a crisis in ethics

do you understand why we are so caught up in surveys and statistics today
– I’D SAY A LOT HAS TO DO WITH WHAT POSTMAN SAYS IN “TECHNOPOLOY”

Barna’s recent survey: How many Americans have a biblical worldview?
– only 4%
– based on 10 fundamental questions
– born again Christians: just 9%

Charles Colson quoted from “Now How Shall We Live?
– Christianity’s big problem: not seen as a viable worldview

merging formal worldviews and personal worldviews

formal worldviews
– marxism, Christianity, islam, etc…
– have truth claims
– these bombard us, are all around us

what I am interested in is your personal worldview
– “the set of individual truth claims that you have embraced so deeply that you believe the reflect what is really real…”
– very seldom do we have a personal worldviews that mirror exactly a formal worldview

What are the consequences when you buy the lives? You conform to the world
Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Again from Sproul
– you can’t divorce the transformation of the mind and the heart
– postmoderns are looking for experiences and not intellectual study

the world “transformed” is overused in our culture
– “metamorpho” is the Greek word
– butterflies are the pretty part of metamorphasis

Only 3 times this word is used in the scriptre
– Romans 12:2
– also in the transfiguration of Christ, something that is fundamentally transformational
– also in 2 Corinthians 3:18

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit

We are involved in this study not just to know facts and have answers, but because of our children
– showed picture of a person who had undergone a lot of facial body piercings, and then juxtaposed that with a photo of his grandchildren

OUR CHURCH IS NOT PROVIDING ANY OPPORTUNITY FOR FOLKS TO DISCUSS AND TALK ABOUT THESE VIDEOS. THESE VIDEOS ARE 55 MIN LONG, AND NO TIME IS PROVIDED FOR DISCUSSION. I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE BOTH FACE TO FACE OPPORTUNITIES TO DISCUSS, QUESTION, AND DEBATE THE POINTS AND ISSUES WHICH ARE RAISED HERE, AND ALSO AN ONLINE OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS THEM. I THINK I AM GOING TO COMMENT ON DR. TACKETT’S BLOG AND MAKE THIS SUGGESTION. OUR CONGREGATION IS LIKELY “NOT READY” FOR THIS TYPE OF ONLINE FORUM FOR DISCUSSION LIKE THIS, BUT WE SHOULD BE. IF THE PUBLISHERS OF THIS SERIES DO NOT HAVE THAT TYPE OF FORUM SETUP AND ARE NOT WILLING OT SET ONE UP, PERHAPS I’LL SET ONE UP VIA NING.

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