Morality, knowledge and emotions

Well, I’ve totally dropped the ball on this one. It’s been a shameful six months since your last post. Despite it weighing heavy on my mind practically every day, and despite a couple of incomplete attempts, I’ve only now found the time (and, let’s be honest, self-discipline) to properly respond. Still, assuming this blog lives on the internet in perpetuity, then statistically speaking, the vast majority of people reading this are doing so after we’ve made it to the end of Keller’s book, so for those readers at least, there has been no time lapse whatsoever between any of our posts. Huzzah!

Anyway, maybe this post can serve as a wrap-up to our discussion of Keller’s first chapter (though I do ask some questions of you, but I’ll leave it up to you whether they need to be answered now or later). And then maybe I should announce a specific date by which I’ll write about chapter 2 in order to keep myself accountable and, more importantly, in order to avoid another lengthy delay. Continue reading “Morality, knowledge and emotions”

Chapter One – Isn’t Religion Going Away?

Hey Geoff,

Apologies for the lengthy hiatus as I read the first chapter. I actually read it ages ago, but then got so busy, it took me this long to finally finish writing about it.

As I read this chapter, I kept thinking that none of this matters to the question of whether or not God’s existence is a reasonable conclusion to reach from the available evidence. And in the end, Keller essentially said as much himself. But at the risk of coming across as a contrarian, I still think he oversells his point a bit by making specific claims or inferences that I feel are unjustified. Continue reading “Chapter One – Isn’t Religion Going Away?”

The Role of Our Emotions

Hey Geoff,

First, I totally accept and understand your agenda as an expression of love. Penn’s words are poignant and make a lot of sense. If I believed what you do, I hope I’d be as driven to save other people, too. So in that sense, I’m grateful that you feel as passionately as you do about this. However, I also hope that the truth-seeking goal doesn’t take too much of a backseat to the conversion goal. I do think there’s a risk of closed-mindedness if you’re so focused on an end goal that relies on a specific worldview. You still have to be open to the possibility of dropping that goal if the worldview itself turns out to be incorrect. As pointed out in the quote I used from Keller in my previous blog post, we all should be “open to critique and willing to admit flaws and problems in [our] way of looking at things.” Continue reading “The Role of Our Emotions”

Preface

Hey Geoff,

Well, here we go. Always a bit daunting starting a new project but I’m looking forward to reading this book with you. I read the preface a few days ago and fully intended on reading the first chapter as well before writing anything, but since I made a handful of notes, I figured this might make a nice appetizer discussion for us (and our readers). That said, a lot of my notes were questions (mainly to do with definitions of things) that pretty much got answered as I kept reading, so hopefully, this will be relatively concise.

First off, Keller mentions his ongoing discussion group in his church. I couldn’t agree more with his decision to urge everyone in that group to be “open to critique and willing to admit flaws and problems in their way of looking at things.” As humans, we’re so susceptible to a variety of cognitive biases due to our pattern-seeking brains that, if we’re not aware of the flawed ways in which we often draw our conclusions, we’re at constant risk of constructing a false reality for ourselves. It’s very natural, for instance, to instinctively shut down any argument that contradicts a long-held prior belief and then immediately rationalise why it must be wrong. As such, whenever I hear or read something that induces an emotional “what utter nonsense!” type of response in my brain, I make it a point of always stepping back and taking a moment to remember that those sorts of emotional reactions may be getting in the way of me discovering a new truth. I may not always be successful at that (I’m only human, after all), but I do try my best. Continue reading “Preface”