Archive for August, 2007

American History Discussion: PRE-AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Around A. D. 1000, Danish Vikings sailed from Greenland to North America and set up a village on the tip of what is now Newfoundland. The real Vikings were nothing like the Minnesota Vikings! For one thing, they did not wear horned helmets!

The Vikings came from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. From A. D. 800 to A. D. 1100 the Vikings raided Western Europe, from Ireland to Russia. The Vikings were a very warlike people who nonetheless had strong families and a well-developed culture. The Vikings were the first Europeans to settle in North America. No one knows why the settlement disappeared, but in less than 50 years the Vikings disappeared from North America.
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WORLD VIEW SUMMARY (CONT.)

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

One final word. At the beginning of the 21st century there is truly an exciting phenomenon occurring in American society: Christian Theism is experiencing an unprecedented revival.. As sociologist Peter Berger accurately observes, evangelical Christians are growing in number and maturity.

We Christians generally subscribe to two strongly held propositions: that a return to Christian values is necessary if the moral confusion of our time is to be overcome, and that the Enlightenment is to be blamed for much of the confusion of our time.

In fact, I believe that Evangelicalism is one of the most potent anti-Enlightenment movements in world history. I most assuredly did not say “anti-intellectual.” Excessives of Enlightenment rationalism have sabotaged the certitude of classicism and Christian theism that so strongly influenced Western culture long before the formidable onslaught of the likes of David Hume.
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WORLD VIEW SUMMARY

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

World View Review

Theism Christian Theism advances a world view that there is an omnipotent God who has authored an inspired, authoritative work called the Bible, upon whose precepts mankind should base its society.

Deism Deism advances a world view that accepts the notion that there is an authoritative, inspired source from which mankind should base its society (i.e., the Bible). Likewise the Deist is certain that there was once an omnipotent God. However, once the world was created, that same omnipotent God chose to absent Himself from His creation. The world, then, is like a clock. It was once created by an intelligent process. However, now the creator is absent leaving mankind on its own to figure out how the clock works and go on living.
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CULTURE WARS: THE BATTLE FOR TRUTH

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

(From A Fire That Burns but does not Consume, James P. Stobaugh)
Greek Mythology
The Greeks introduced the idea that the universe was orderly, that man’s senses were valid and, as a consequence, that man’s proper purpose was to live his own life to the fullest.
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THE WAR OF THE WORLD VIEWS (CONT.)

Monday, August 27th, 2007

From Aristotle vs. Plato a panoply of world views evolved in four main epochs.

The following are characteristics of each epoch:

Classical Theism Pernicious gods involved in human affairs
Christian Theism Loving God involved in human affairs
Modernism Faith in science
Post-Modernism Faith in experience; suspicious of science

Within these epochs are the following world views:

Theism
Deism
Romanticism
Naturalism
Realism
Absurdism
Existentialism

Most of you have not heard of this particular world view paradigm. It is called a cultural world view paradigm (as contrasted to a socio-political paradigm). Both are useful. Both are accurate. However, most Americans obtain their world views from culture, not from scholarship and education.

While socio-polical descriptions of world views are completely accurate, they are not used by American universities or the media at all. When have you hear the word “Cosmic Humanist” used on television? In a movie? Very few people use this terminology in the real world. Therefore, if Christians wish to be involved in apologetics they must use a language that the unsaved can understand. Chesterton once lamented that Evangelical Christians are like Americans who visit France. Chesterton generalized that Americans, by and large, speak their words slower, articulate their words more carefully, and speak fewer words to complete a thought. However, what they should do, Chesterton argues, is to speak French in France! If we believers want the world to hear us we need to speak their language.

Here is a short sketch of the seven major world views with examples:

Theism: God is personally involved with humankind. Theism argues that the universe is a purposive, divinely created entity. It argues that all human life is sacred and all persons are of equal dignity. They are, in other words, created in the image of God. History is linear and moves toward a final goal. Nature is controlled by God and is an orderly system. Humanity is neither the center of nature nor the universe, but are the steward of creation. Righteousness will triumph in a decisive conquest of evil. Earthly life does not exhaust human existence but looks ahead to the resurrection of the dead and to a final, comprehensive judgement of humanity (adapted form Carl F. H. Henry, Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief). This is the only viable world view until the Renaissance. Examples: Homer, Virgil, C. S. Lewis, A. J. Cronin, Tolkien.

Modern people conclude that history really has no meaning. . .The biblical view is that history had a beginning and will have an end and that both the beginning and the end are in God’s hands. Therefore, what comes between them is invested with meaning and purpose.–from Herbert Schlossberg, Idols For Destruction.Deism: God was present, but is no longer present. The world is like a clock wound up by God many years ago but He is now absent. The clock (i.e., the world) is present; God is absent. Still, though, Deism embraced a Judeo-Christian morality. God’s absence, for instance, in no way mitigated His importance to original creation. He was also omnipotent, but not omniscient. His absence was His decision. He was in no way forced to be absent from the world. He chose to assume that role so that Socratic empiricism and rationalism could reign as sovereign king. Speculative Theism replaced revelatory biblical Theism. Once the Living God was abandoned, Jesus Christ and the Bible became cognitive orphans (Carl H. Henry). Examples: Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson.

Romanticism: Once Americans distanced themselves from the self-revealing God of the Old and New Testaments, they could not resist making further concessions to subjectivity. Romanticism, and its American version, Transcendentalism, posited that God was nature and “it” was good. The more natural things were, the better. Nature was inherently good. Nature alone was the ultimate reality. In other words, nature was the Romantic god. Man was essentially a complex animal, too complex to be controlled by absolute, codified truth (as one would find in the Bible). Human intuition replaced the Holy Spirit. Depending upon the demands on individual lives, truth and good were relative and changing. Romanticism, however, like Deism, had not completely abandoned Judeo-Christian morality. Truth and the good, although changing, were nonetheless relatively durable. Examples: James Fenimore Cooper, Goethe.

Naturalism: If God exists, He is pretty wimpish. Only the laws of nature have any force. God is either uninterested or downright mean. All reality was reducible to impersonal processes and energy events (Carl F. H. Henry). All life, including human life, was transient. Its final destination was death. Truth and good, therefore, were also transient. They were culture-conditioned distinctions that the human race projected upon the cosmos and upon history (Carl F. H. Henry). This maturation, as it were, of the human race, necessitated a deliberate rejection of all transcendentally final authority. Examples: Joseph Conrad, Stephen Crane.

Realism: Akin to Naturalism is Realism. Reality is, to a Realist, a world with no purpose, no meaning, no order. Realism insists that personality has no ultimate status in the universe, but is logically inconsistent when it affirms an ethically imperative social agenda congruent with universal human rights and dignity. Realism, then throws around terms like “dignity” and “human rights” and “power.” What Realists mean, however, is that these concepts are real when they fulfill a social agenda that enhances human dominance over the universal. Thus, Realism believes in a world where bad things happen all the time to good people. Why not? There is no God, no ontological controlling force for good. The world is a place where the only reality is that which we can experience, but it must be experience that we can measure or replicate. Certainly pain and misery fit that category. If an experience is a unique occurrence (Example: a miracle) it is not real. Examples: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Absurdism: A modern movement where there is neither a god, nor any reason to have one. Everything is disorganized, anarchy rules. There is a compete abandonment of explaining the cosmos and therefore an abandonment of being in relationship with the deity. It is not that Absurdists are unsure about who creates everything, or in control of everything. Absurdists simply do not care one way or the other. Examples: John Barth, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Existentialism: The submergence of God in overwhelming data and in experience is the first step toward putting God out to die. Truth is open to debate. Everything is relative. A very pessimistic view. Examples, Albert Camus, Franz Kafka, and Jean Paul Sartre.

The War of the World Views

Friday, August 24th, 2007

If you are a committed Christian believer, you will be challenged to analyze the world views of individuals and institutions around you. You are inextricably tied to your culture; but that does not mean you can’t be in this culture but not of this culture. Furthermore, you will be asked to explain your own world view and to defend that world view against all sorts of assaults. Is important that you pause and examine several world views that you will encounter. In this lesson, you will be challenged to discern common world views in contemporary culture. You will also articulate your own world view.

What is a “world view?” A world view is a way that you articulate, relates to, and responds from a philosophical position that you embraces as your own. World view is a framework that ties everything together, that allows us to understand society, the world, and our place in it. A world view helps us to make the critical decisions which will shape our future. A world view colors all our decisions and all our artistic creations. In the first Star Wars movie(1977), for instance, Luke Skywalker clearly values a Judeo-Christian code of ethics. That does not mean that he is a believing Christian­indeed he is not­but ht he does uphold and fight for a moral world. Darth Vader, on the other hand, represents chaos and amoral behavior. He does whatever it takes to advance the Emperor’s agenda, regardless of who he hurts or what rule he breaks.
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THE WRITING OF HISTORY

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

The writing of history is the selection of information and the synthesis of this information into a narrative that will stand the critical eye of time. History, though, is never static. One never creates the definitive theory of an historical event. History invites each generation to re-examine its own story and to reinterpret past events in light of present circumstances.

The creation of this story is more difficult than it seems. From the beginning the historian is forced to decide what sort of human motivations matter most: Economic? Political? Religious?
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American African-American History Antebellum America Part 3

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Powerful evidence for slave resistance was the Federal Writers’ Project of the Words Projects Administration in which over two thousand ex-slaves were interviewed. These interviews were compiled and analyzed by George P. Rawick in eighteen volumes. Rawick concluded that slaves were constantly involved in resistance and subversion. They manifested a kind of anger that served as a protection against white domination (This discussion is informed by Gerald N. Grob and George Athan Billias, Interpretations of American History: Patterns and Perspectives, Detroit: The Free Press, 1987), p. 354. George P. Rawick, From Sundown To Sunup: The Making of The Black Community (Westport, 1972), and The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, 18 vols. (Westport, 1972). African suicides, runaway slaves, slowdowns in the field–all of these were examples of resistance. Geswhender, p. 2-3.
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American African-American History Antebellum America Part 2

Monday, August 20th, 2007

One of the most awful parts of slavery was the middle passage.

The United States outlawed the transatlantic slave trade in 1808, but the domestic slave trade and illegal importation continued for several decades. The South Atlantic trade network involved several international routes. The best known of the triangular trades included the transportation of manufactured goods from Europe to Africa, where they were traded for slaves. Slaves were then transported across the Atlantic–the infamous middle passage–primarily to Brazil and the Caribbean, where they were sold. It was not uncommon for up to one eighth of the human cargo to die. Dead slaves were thrown overboard and schools of sharks followed the slave ships. But profits were so vast that the loss was incidental. Often the slaves would stay in the West Indies for several weeks while they were acclimated to their new North American home.
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American African-American History Antebellum America

Friday, August 17th, 2007

The institution of slavery had existed in Western Civilization since biblical times, but the first slaves came to the Western Hemisphere in the early 1500s. However, not until 20 African slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, was slavery present in America. In fact is it not altogether clear if the first African slaves were brought as indentured servants (to be released in seven years) or chattel slavery (never to be released). Nevertheless, it quickly became a moot point. A series of complex colonial laws made sure that Africans and their descendants were to remain in slavery for perpetuity. What came first: racism or slavery? It is hard to say, but racism was not institutionalized in America until white Americans created a language to describe American people groups. When in 1619 the first African-American came to the Jamestown colony that language was already present. Europeans from the 1200′s to the early 1500′s used terms such as “negro” to refer to persons with dark colored skin. These terms, though, initially were not used to denigrate a “race” or caste, nor were they used in a genealogical sense. They were used to designate a different physical attribute. Later, “Negro” and “Mulatto” gained a negative connotation.
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