Thursday, June 16, 2016

God and Modal Realism (An Exercise)

Here’s something fun to think about, but before I begin: I do want to say that I don’t really believe what I am about to write, and I think I know where the flaw is, but it makes for interesting reflection on our God.

1.     God is the most perfect being that could possibly exist.
2.     If God were to exist in and create n number of possible worlds, it would be greater for God to exist in and create n + ∞ possible worlds.
3.     If it is possible for God to exist in and create n + ∞ possible worlds, then God does exist in and create n + ∞ possible worlds.
4.     God exists in and created this possible world.
5.     So, modal realism is true (that is, an infinite number of possible worlds exist).


Have fun!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Luck and the Issue of Control

Admittedly, I need to read more on the literature surrounding the issue of luck as it pertains to libertarian accounts of freedom. Nonetheless, I want to share a brief story and relate it to the issue of luck. “Luck” is a technical term in philosophy, meaning something like “an event that takes place over which the agent has no control.” As an example, consider the person born into a wealthy family. That person had no control over that; he just as easily could have been born into a poor family, or middle-class. In this case, it is an instance of luck (as it would be whatever class he was in).

Here’s a story that I find interesting: I had received a jury summons for Wake County. I was advised to call in the night before my appointed date, and a recording would inform me whether or not I was needed. As it turns out, I was not, and my obligation was considered fulfilled. But suppose instead I decided to stick it to the man and not bother calling, intending to skip the entire process. As far as I would know, I was in violation of the court order, even though, in fact, I was in compliance. In bringing this up with my co-workers, who are not philosophers in the regular sense, we discovered an alternate scenario I am calling the “Adam Rule.” The Adam Rule (AR) is borne out of a sadistic society, and is as follows:

AR. If a potential juror calls the line at the appropriate time, then she is excused from jury duty. If she does not call, she will be arrested and executed.

Further, let’s stipulate that AR is known only to the relevant authorities, and no potential juror knows of or has reason to suspect something like AR is true. Now we can analyze the relevant facts to see if the traditional luck explanation (luck is something over which the agent involved has no control) holds.

1.     The juror’s calling in. This seems to be a fact over which the potential juror has control and is not luck. The traditional model holds.
2.     AR. This seems to be a fact over which the potential juror has no control, and yet is luck. Once again, the traditional model holds.
3.     The two outcomes: excused or executed. This is a fact that the potential juror seems to have at least partial control over, since whether the juror is excused depends on whether or not she calls in, the latter fact having been granted “control status” for the agent. Yet it is also a matter of luck, since the determiner of the outcomes for the respective behaviors is not up to the potential juror.


So it may be that issues of luck arise even for agents who exercise partial control with respect to certain events. I’m open to hearing more, both for your opinions and any relevant works with which you are familiar!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Is Temptation a Sin?

Is it a sin to be tempted? Traditionally, the answer has been “no.” This is because of the case of Jesus. If it is a sin to be tempted, and Jesus was tempted, then Jesus committed a sin. Further, there seems to be the problem of the external tempter. If some one or some thing tempts you to commit some sin, their action is certainly not under your control. But you can hardly be morally responsible for something not under your control! So it seems temptation is not a sin.

However, what has precisely been shown in the above scenarios? I contend that all that has been shown is that temptation is not inherently a sin. These examples, individually or jointly, do not show that no temptation is a sin. I shall consider two lines of evidence: moral and biblical.

First, there are cases where one might not be able to control whether or not he is tempted in a particular way, but where he—at some crucial time earlier—made a decision that was under his control, but later results in such a temptation. Consider addictions to pornography, for example. A man makes an initial choice or series of choices to view pornography. And while perhaps the initial temptation, or set of temptations, was not up to him, his responses to them were. Now suppose each response to view makes it both more likely he receives these temptations, and less likely that he can refuse them. So long as his choice to view is free initially, then each subsequent temptation that would not have been present (whether at all or in level of strength) is in fact a result of his choice, which means it is under his control. In such cases, it seems to me, we ought to say the temptation is a sin (or a very negative consequence of lingering sin).

Second, the Bible seems to support at least the more modest claim that these temptations are direct and lingering consequences of sin that is up to the person. Consider James 1:14: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” For some people, it really is their own fault at some times when they experience temptation.


So what should we do about it? Condemn those who experience these consequences? Surely not. Instead, in some cases, we ought to examine our own hearts, and see where we need spiritual growth and maturity. In short, we ought to measure ourselves up to Christ!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A PhD Update

As many of you know, I have been applying to several (in fact, 11) PhD programs for philosophy. While I do plan on writing a “what not to do” style advice post, my purpose right now is just to explain where I am in the process and what may happen next.

I was rejected from the first five programs I heard from. This was a little deflating, though I knew I only needed one “yes” to move forward. Since then, I have received three acceptances and one more rejection (I have yet to hear from two programs). The three acceptances are: University of Liverpool (UK), University of Birmingham (UK), and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (listed in order of received acceptances).

My current plan is to see if I can obtain funding for one of the UK programs. This will be quite expensive, and I don’t mind telling you that unless God works in providentially providing these funds, we won’t be going! Nonetheless, it is something we are praying about. So what’s my next step? Well, I need either to have the money for the UK or at least know where it is coming from no later than June 1 (for a variety of reasons).

I would be happy to continue my studies at SEBTS, with wonderful professors and challenging seminars. I would also love to study in the UK, having visited there last year. Above all, pray that I am truly open to God’s leading and that I would be content in whatever state I find myself.

Monday, April 25, 2016

New Apologetics Class!

Trinity Baptist College students, are you looking for an elective credit online course this summer? The Intro to Apologetics class might be for you! It’s eight weeks, online, and involves watching brief lectures, discussion forums, reading, and a couple of writing assignments. The assignments and videos are all designed to help you understand how to defend the faith, and offer positive arguments both for God’s existence and Christianity as a whole.
We are also going to look at various ways the Christian can do apologetics, and practical ways you can engage in culture and the public square. The class starts May 9th, so you’ll want to act fast!

There may be a possibility of auditing the course as well, even if you are not currently a TBC student. For that possibility, you’ll want to check with academicoffice@tbc.edu. TBC’s website can be found at http://www.tbc.edu. I look forward to seeing you there!