Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm pretty sure that if i was hit by a car on the way to work today, i would just lie there, mildly disappointed in my luck, and calmly pull out my cell phone to dial 911.  hello, i've just been hit by a car.  i'm on the corner of wentworth and archer.  send an ambulance please. and then i'd just lie there and wait

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Today I had a chance to sit and talk through a bit about my idea of what Love is like, as well as about what postmodernism is and why it isn't all bad like a lot of evangelicals have heard/think. Right now in the class "Christianity and Postmodernism" we're reading God without Being by Jean-Luc Marion, a French philosopher teaching at the University of Paris who studied under Jacques Derrida, one of the biggest names in postmodernism. Interestingly, his book (and his philosophy in general) has a lot to do with Love, too; or, as he likes to call it, agape (in Greek, from 1 John 4:8). Also, Marion is a Catholic.

Although that a Christian is also a prominent postmodern philosopher is probably surprising to most people, it's actually what has been called the "theological turn" in postmodernism and phenomenology--what some see as the beginning of a trend in this aspect of continental philosophy. Philosophers of note include Emmanuel Levinas, a practicing Jew who wrote extensively on the Torah, Jean-Luc Marion, who we've already mentioned, Jean-Louis Chretien, another French Christian (although I don't think much of his stuff has been translated to English yet, I understand that he's important in France), and even Jacques Derrida, whose later writings were much more open to ideas of religion and spirituality than his earlier ones. I'd also like to point out that two important figures for the beginnings of postmodernism and existentialism in general are Soren Kierkegaard and Frederich Nietzsche, the former a practicing Christian in Denmark who advocated the "leap of faith" and the latter a man staunchly opposed to Christianity (esp. as manifested in the Germany of his time) who proclaimed the famous "death of God."

In class, we've read works (or will read) from all these philosophers I've listed, as well as others (including Slavoj Zizek's book entitled The Puppet and the Dwarf: the Perverse Core of Christianity). I feel like this class, as well as the class on Phenomenology that I took last year, have really changed the way I look at the world. I'd encourage anybody who's interested to take a look at some of these figures and their texts.

Oh, did I mention that Jean-Luc Marion is coming to speak at my school in one week??? Awesome!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

i wrote this in response to someone's featured xanga post here

here it is:

whew... too many posts to read even half of them, but the "i am the first black guy to post, right?" guy made me laugh when he was talking about asians freaking out over black people... just go to japan and you'll see it, hahaha. black people are even more rare than white people there, and they stand out quite a bit (as does anybody not asian-looking). at least this is how it was when i was in tokyo a few weeks ago.

anyway, i'll try to be quick and just say what's important. I'm white so I know exactly how you feel, and i've felt it too. i also have a lot of asian friends, korean-american, chinese-american, and friends raised in china, korea, of course japan, and other places, and i've been involved with a lot of the student- or administration-led racial issue kind of stuff on my campus (wheaton college) so lets just say i've been around a little bit and heard stories from (many) sides. basically i think you're right about how a lot of this junk happens to white people too, and the unfair feeling you get when you hear (as one commenter said) "I don't wanna spend with no white people" is legit. at the same time, as some people have pointed out, white privilege is something that has to be recognized and dealt with, and as a white person you really can make a difference. Even to have a white person say "I recognize that there's a race problem in America, and that I am a beneficiary of white privilege, and i am willing to work to make changes for the better" or something like that can mean a lot for somebody who has felt discrimination because of their skin or ethnicity, and whether it's been subtle or not (today it's often subtle) isn't really the issue. Once you know and understand that race is still a problem and about white privilege, etc, i think you have a responsibility to do something (even something seemingly insignificant, like saying that quote I wrote above to somebody) no matter what race you are. And with all that said, I still get sick of the white guilt that some people carry around. You don't have to have white guilt to realize that there's a problem and to want to work towards a solution, and I don't like people assuming those kinds of things about me because I'm white, either.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Science and Faith

Here's something I posted on xanga in response to one of xanga's creators' posts. He asked what people's view was on the relation between science and faith, and I wrote this post in response. It gets cut off because it was just a response to to his post, and I don't think it should be any longer than it already is. Anyway, here's what I wrote:

"From my perspective, science and faith both strive ultimately after the same thing: truth. Or at least, I believe they should. Thus I think conflicts between science and faith usually have their roots in either bad science or bad faith. Now, by bad faith or bad science I don't mean something that's unpopular or that someone doesn't like, but rather a truth claim derived from one or the other that isn't actually true (so you could say that I believe in absolute truth, to some extent).

For example, one perceived conflict is that many Christians think the Earth was created 6000 years ago because of how they interpret writings in the Bible, while science shows us heaps of evidence that the Earth was formed 4-something billion years ago (or whatever it is... something around there) and that the Universe began 13 or something billion years ago. Obviously, a conflict. But there is also a number of Christians who don't believe that the Bible teaches that the Earth was formed 6000 years ago, and, I believe (and am sure almost all thinking Christians will agree), the main tenants of Christianity are not threatened whatever one believes about the exact time when the Earth was formed. Personally, I believe then that this is a case of "bad faith", or rather a false truth claim put forth by some Christians on the basis of their faith. But like I said, one's faith in Christianity is not seriously threatened either way.

A real problem comes when there are two conflicting truth claims about something vital to the faith, whichever it is (not science, since science's truth claims are by nature fluid). However, these are few and far between. Also, when discussing this sort of real conflict it is important to keep in mind the fallibility of human reason, which applies both to science and to matters of faith. For example, I said that science's truth claims are fluid, meaning they are ALWAYS open to revision if there is sufficient scientific evidence for it. Thus old scientific claims such as the 4 humors of the body and the spontaneous generation of flies have since been discarded in place of new theories. This is continually happening in science, and even "proven scientific fact" is technically open to revision, although usually something given the status of scientific fact has such an overwhelming amount of evidence for it that this rarely happens. At the same time this can be applied to faith, although it is a much trickier nuance than with science. The examples I know best and that I believe are most pertinent are from Christian history in the early days of the church, beginning around ad 200ish and ending I suppose around 800ish or later. It was during this time that many of Christianity's core beliefs were actually formed--or rather I should say that it was during this time that much of basic Christian doctrine was formed.

This is getting way too long so I'll just say there was a lot of debate and eventually some things were decided upon and some things were discarded (questions like "How was Jesus both man and God simultaneously?" and others). In the end I believe one can hold strong ties to faith and strong ties to science, since if both are true they should not conflict, although what to do in a true faith/science conflict (which, as defined above, is rare) is up to the individual. Do you reject faith based on fallible scientific theory? Do you reject a scientific theory that seems so sure to be true on the basis of possibly wrong theology? Where is the line drawn when you stop believing in one or the other? I think these are the important questions in this discussion."

John's post and my comment can be found here.


Hi guys! This is a new blog as part of my new blog plan. I find that I write quite a bit, yet most of it doesn't get posted or even discussed anywhere since I don't want to clutter my xanga page and I don't really have anywhere else to put them. So this, for now, is a sort of "general thoughts" blog where I'll try to post generally well-thought out posts on things that I feel are important. I think xanga will become my random junk page, and we'll see if I feel the need later to create any more blogs. I also of course have my Japanese one, (www.andrewinnihon.blogspot.com) which is linked to my facebook notes. I don't plan on using facebook notes for anything except imports.