Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Thanks for the Man Chuck Colson [Jay Watts]

I didn't personally know Chuck Colson. We never met or spent any time together, though he was a man I admired from afar. After I left atheism and agnosticism behind for a life of faith in Christ, I looked for some community in the Christian church that felt right for me. Though I believed that the biblical claims about Christ were true, I still wasn't overly fond of Christians or their company. It wasn't a sense of superiority or anything. We were just different people interested in different things, and all I wanted was to be left alone. I spent so much of my life hating and being hated by Christians that I distrusted my brothers and sisters in Christ and probably resented them because I thought they failed to see me as something worthy of redeeming. I did as I always do when eschewing the company of people; I retreated into books and study.

In this phase I met - through their writings - the varied people that influenced the way my young Christian mind worked. C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Josh McDowell, Philip Yancey, Ravi Zacharais, and Chuck Colson all added something in their time to my growing understanding of my new worldview. What was I committing myself to intellectually? How did my pro-choice views and my apathy or acceptance of so many things that seemed to send other Christians into a frenzy fit with these new commitments? Memories are tricky things and as I thought about writing this post I had to look back at publishing dates to get some remembrance of my journey to Mr. Colson. Though some of those past influences are no longer a part of my current studies it would be dishonest to deny the impact they had on my early walk with God. Mr. Zacharais and Mr. Colson especially so. They introduced me to the idea that Christianity could be and should be defended against those who dismiss it as blind faith. There are answers if you are willing to do the work to find them and it was okay to change your mind about important beliefs. Chuck Colson introduced the idea of worldview to my life and set me off on a journey that to this day is hard for me to believe is real.

Some of my friends knew Chuck Colson. Everyone that spent time with him talked about him with genuine respect. Many leaders in ministry appear obsessed with bios and titles and seem to focus on what we are on paper. Mr. Colson only noticed when people got things done. The stories my friends tell about him hearing or seeing someone and then immediately pouring his resources behind them to promote their abilities and skills remind me of a general handing out field promotions in the heat of battle. His focus was the message and finding the messengers that got results. That quality is more rare in ministry than it ought to be.

Though I never talked to him we did communicate once by letter. My community was torn apart by a truly horrifying revelation that involved our church and one of its employees. This employee also happened to be a friend of mine. Like the rest of my community, I was overwhelmed and looking for someone to help make sense of it all. I wrote Mr. Colson a letter. A very short time later I received a response. He was on the road with an incredibly busy schedule, but he took the time to dictate a reply through one his assistants. I can't tell you what it said because I honestly don't remember. What I remember is that Mr. Colson found out a guy and his community that he had nothing to do with were hurting, and Mr. Colson made sure that this random guy knew that he and his community were being prayed for by his ministers. He said a lot more than that, but in the end the fact that he cared enough to say anything is all that matters to me.

His work was extraordinary because his heart was extraordinary. That is often true of men and women I meet that are accomplishing great things in ministry. Maybe it is because he knew what it meant to be lost that he was not content to leave the rest of us behind, but whatever God did to make Chuck Colson what he was I pray that he does it to more of us.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thomas Nagel on Mind-Body Problem

Nagel is not a Christian theist. Nevertheless:

In Mind and Cosmos Thomas Nagel argues that the widely accepted world view of materialist naturalism is untenable. The mind-body problem cannot be confined to the relation between animal minds and animal bodies. If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such. No such explanation is available, and the physical sciences, including molecular biology, cannot be expected to provide one. The book explores these problems through a general treatment of the obstacles to reductionism, with more specific application to the phenomena of consciousness, cognition, and value. The conclusion is that physics cannot be the theory of everything.

Kaczor on the Intimacy Argument

Dennis O'Brien writes:

“The pregnant woman’s womb is not just a geographic location for an independent entity that would be the same if it were located someplace else.” To deny this reality is to reduce the pregnant woman to a “container.”
Christopher Kaczor replies:
The intimacy argument, as articulated by O’Brien, begs an important question: Why should independent moral status require independent physical status? We don’t think that one conjoined twin may licitly or legally authorize a third party to kill her conjoined sister in order to terminate their intimate relationship.

Indeed, the intimate relationship that always exists in pregnancy is a powerful argument against abortion. Every human fetus is a mammal, and every mammal has a mother. Sound ethical reasoning and just laws hold that human mothers and fathers have serious duties to care for and, above all, not harm their own dependent progeny. So, the intimate relationship that exists in every pregnancy gives rise to the duty of the mother not to harm her own child prior to or after birth, including by prematurely ending the child’s life. Precisely because an expectant woman is a mother rather than a mere container, she has duties to her dependent unborn child.

Thursday, April 5, 2012