How do we see (and hear and smell) the world?
Most of us uncritically suppose that physical objects around us are more or less as we perceive them to be, but there are problems with this commonsensical notion that have led many to question whether we in fact observe the outside world directly. Amongst many philosophers, their view is that we only have direct access to inner ‘ideas’, ‘impressions’ or (in modern terms) ‘sense data’.
The 17th-century English philosopher John Locke used a celebrated image to elucidate this. Human understanding, he suggested, is like ‘a closet wholly shut from light, with only some little openings left, to let in external visible resemblances, or ideas of things without’.
However, there is a big snag with Locke’s conception. We may suppose that the ideas that enter the closet are more or less faithful representations of things outside it, but in the end it is a matter of inference that these inner representations correspond closely to external objects – or indeed to anything at all. Our ideas, which are all that we have direct access to, form an impenetrable ‘veil of perception’ between us and the outside world.
In his 1690 Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke gave one of the fullest accounts of what are known as ‘representational’ models of perception. Any such model that involves intermediate ideas or sense data drives a wedge between us and the external world, and it is in the fissure so formed that scepticism about our claims to knowledge takes root. It is only by re-establishing a direct link between observer and external object that the veil can be torn and the sceptic vanquished. So, given that the model causes such problems, why adopt it in the first place?
Primary and secondary qualities The unreliability of our perceptions forms an important part of the sceptic’s weaponry in attacking our claims to knowledge. The fact that a tomato can look anything from red to black depending on the lighting conditions is used by the sceptic to cast general doubt over our senses as a reliable pathway to knowledge.
Locke hoped that a perceptual model in which inner ideas and outer objects were separated would disarm the sceptic. His argument depended crucially on a further distinction – between primary and secondary qualities.
The redness of a tomato is not a property of the tomato itself but a product of the interaction of various factors, including certain physical attributes of the tomato such as texture and surface structure; the peculiarities of our own sensory system; and the environmental conditions prevailing at the time of observation. These properties (or rather non-properties) do not belong to the tomato as such and are said to be ‘secondary qualities’.
At the same time, a tomato has certain true properties, such as its size and shape, which do not depend on the conditions under which it is observed or indeed on the existence of an observer at all. These are its ‘primary qualities’, which explain and give rise to our experience of the secondary qualities. Unlike our ideas of secondary qualities, those of primary qualities (Locke thought) closely resemble the physical objects themselves and can afford knowledge of those objects. For this reason it is with primary qualities that science is largely concerned, and crucially, with respect to the sceptical challenge, it is our ideas of primary qualities that are proof against the sceptic’s doubts.
One of Locke’s earliest critics was his Irish contemporary, George Berkeley. Berkeley accepted the representational model of perception in which the immediate objects of perception were ideas, but he recognized at once that farm from defeating the sceptics, Lock’s conception risked surrendering all to them. Holed up in his closed, Locke would never be in a position to check whether his supposed ‘resemblances, or ideas of things without’ actual resembles the external things themselves. He would never be able to lift the veil of perception and look on the other side, so he was trapped in a world of representations and thus, the sceptic’s case was made.
Having lucidly set out the dangers of Locke’s position, Berkeley came to an extraordinary conclusion. Rather that tear through the veil in an attempt to reconnect us with the external world, he concluded instead that there was nothing behind the veil to reconnect with! For Berkeley, reality consists in the ‘ideas’ or sensations themselves. With these, of course, we are already fully and properly connected, so the dangers of scepticism are evaded, but at quite a price – the denial of an external, physical world!
According to Berkeley’s idealist (or immaterialist) theory, ‘to exist is to be perceived’. So do things cease to exist the moment we stop looking at them?Fortunately for us and Berkeley, everything in the universe is conceived all the time in the mind of God, so therefore the existence and continuance of the (non-material) world is assured in Him.
There’s loads of knowledge to be found, but wisdom is a rare commodity. Why? Because wisdom is one of sin’s first casualties. It’s hard to admit, but true none the less: sin reduces all of us to fools, and the fact is that no one is more victimised by your foolishness than you are.
You see the empirical evidence of the foolishness of sin on almost every page of Scripture. For example, you see foolishness in full operation in the tragic story of David and Bathsheba. This is why David says,
“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (Psalm 54:16 NIV).
When you read the story of David’s sin, you most likely say to yourself, “What the heck was he thinking? Did he actually think he was going to get away with this? Did he forget who he was? Did he think God was going to going to just forget about it and let this happen?” However, David is not some extreme case of foolishness gone wild; you see evidence of the same foolishness in each of our daily lives. People could say of us again and again, “What was he thinking? Or what was she thinking?”
What does foolishness look like? Here are four of its most significant aspects.
1) The Foolishness of Self-centeredness
We were created to live for something, someone bigger than ourselves. We were designed to live with, for, and through the Lord. God is meant to be the motivation and hope of everything we do. His pleasure, his honour, and his will are the things for which we are meant to live. But the foolishness of sin causes us to reduce our life to the size and shape of our lives.
Often our living has no greater purpose than self-satisfaction and self-fulfilment. Does this sound harsh? Well, ask yourself, “Do I ever get impatient with others?” “Do I ever say things I shouldn’t have said?” “Why do I get discouraged by my circumstances?” “Why do I give way to sarcastic anger or give in to self-pity?” The answer is that, like me, you want your own way, and when things don’t go your way or people are in your way, you either lash out or turn inward in discouragement.
2) The Foolishness of Self-deception
We are all very good at making ourselves feel good about what God says is bad. We are all very skilled at reshaping what we have done so that what was actually wrong doesn’t look so wrong to us. I’ll tell myself that I didn’t really lash out in sarcastic anger; I was just trying to make light of the situation. I’ll tell myself that I’m not upset or unhappy with a situation; I am in fact fine
Foolishness is able to do something dangerous. It’s able to look at wrong and see right. Had David been able to see himself with accuracy and if he’d been able to see his sin for what it really was, it’s hard to imagine that he would have continued to travel down that pathway.
3) The Foolishness of Self-sufficiency
We all like to think of ourselves as more independently capable than we actually are. We were not created to be independent, autonomous, or self-sufficient. We were made to live in a humble, worshipful, and loving dependency upon God and in a loving and humble interdependency with others.
Our lives were designed to be community projects. Yet, the foolishness of sin tells us that we have all that we need within ourselves. So we settle for relationships that never go beneath the casual. We defend ourselves when the people around us point out a weakness or one of our faults. We hide our struggles within, not taking advantage of the resources that God has given us.
The lie of the garden was that Adam and Eve could be like God, independent and self-sufficient. We still tend to buy into that lie.
4) The Foolishness of Self-righteousness
Why don’t we celebrate grace more? Why aren’t we more amazed by the wonderful gifts that are ours as the children of God? Why don’t we live with a deep sense of need, coupled with a deep sense of gratitude for how each need has been met by God’s grace? Well, the answer is clear. You’ll never celebrate grace as much as you should when you think you’re more righteous than you actually are.
Grace is the plea of sinners. Mercy is the hope of the wicked. Acceptance is the prayer of those who know that they could never do anything to earn it. But the foolishness of sin makes me righteous in my own eyes.
When I tell my stories, I become more the hero than I ever was. I look wiser in my narratives than I could have been. In my view of my history, my choices were better than what they actually were. Often it isn’t my sin that keeps me from coming to God. Sadly, I don’t come to him because I don’t think I need the grace that can be found only in him.
Here is what all of us must face, sin really does reduce us all to fools, but thankfully the story doesn’t just end there. The One who is the ultimate source of everything that’s good, true, trustworthy, right, and wise is also a God of amazing grace.
You don’t get freed from your foolishness by education or experience. You don’t get wisdom by research and analysis. You get wisdom by means of a relationship with the One who is Wisdom.
The radical claim of the Bible is that wisdom isn’t first a book, or a system, or a set of commands or principles. No, wisdom is a person, and his name is Jesus. When you and I are graced into acceptance with him, we’re drawn into a personal relationship with Wisdom, and Wisdom begins a lifelong process of freeing us from the stronghold that the foolishness of sin has on us. We aren’t yet completely free, but there will be a day when our every thought, desire, choice, action, and word will be fundamentally wise!
It makes such sense then, that a repentant man (David) would reflect on his need for wisdom. Sin, in reducing us to fools, causes us to do foolish things, even though we think we’re wise. And for this we need more than information, education, and experience. We need exactly what we find in Christ—grace.
Wisdom is the product of grace; there is simply nowhere else it can be found.
Microsoft has made a huge profit off of people who don’t consider themselves to be technically proficient. That particular demographic tends to be afraid of downloading and installing new software.
Why do they surf the web with Internet Explorer? Because it’s the web browser that was pre-installed with their OS.
Case in point- a relative of mine told me about a month ago that my hosting website appeared funny to her. I asked her the first obvious troubleshooting question, “Which browser are you using?”
“Huh? I just click on ‘Internet’! Browser? What’s that?”
Cue my ‘face palm’ moment.
And why is Internet Explorer the browser that was pre-installed with their OS?
Because Microsoft Windows Operating Systems have had OEM distribution on the vast majority of PCs since the early 1990s.
If installing a new web browser is intimidating to most newbies, they’ll never in a million years try to install a new OS, even in a dual boot configuration.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate Microsoft. Microsoft does a number of things right, such as their NTFS file system that debuted with Windows NT many years ago.
But a large number of Microsoft’s customers aren’t customers because Microsoft makes good products, but because Microsoft products are default and a lot of people are afraid to delete those apps and OSes and try something different.
If there is someone in your life who uses computers, but is not very computer literate, you can help wean them off of Microsoft’s bloated Operating Systems and change-resistant user apps.
The open source and Linux communities appeal to techies who are opinionated about computer technology, and want to have the best of everything.
But the GUIs with Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu and Kubuntu, are no less user friendly than recent Microsoft OS GUIs.
There is also a huge library of open source apps that require no programming/IT knowledge to make the most of.
Internet Explorer 9 has a lot weaker support for HTML5 than all of the other major browsers, despite all of the hype. Now that more and more web developers are doing more and more with HTML5, do you want your loved ones to be using a web browser that can’t keep up?
My brand new netbook was preloaded with Windows 7 Starter edition, like most netbooks are these days. Now that I wiped it right off and replaced it with Ubuntu Netbook Edition, I can easily change the damn desktop wallpaper, among other things!
Even if your loved one is running a much better version of Windows 7, it was probably loaded with all kinds of apps they’ll never use.
You can hold their hand, and start them slowly. If there’s already an extra partition on their master hard disk that isn’t running another OS, it’ll be easy to install a Linux based OS to create a dual boot system.
“See, Uncle John… Now when you turn the computer on, you get this screen asking if you want to run Windows 7, or Ubuntu 10.10. You may go back to your old Windows 7 whenever you need to!”
Ask your loved one what kind of apps they want or need. Finding an open source equivalent for everything they’re used to, and everything they want, should be a piece of cake. Be patient with them while they begin to learn how to do things differently.
And there you go! You’ve now begun to make the world a better place.
In a new survey it has shown that Atheists and Agnostics know more about religion than the average Christian. If you want to read a short story on this, check out this news story here. But, if you think about it, they probably should.
The reason I say this is that those who have a deep knowledge of religion and see its effects on culture, no doubt will be unbelievers of religion itself. I guess this is hardly surprising or profound. Why would the vast majority of those who have done a ton of study on religion even become believers in the first place? They haven’t really heard the true story of Jesus or had their lives transformed by his Grace. What they have learnt through studying doctrine and theorising with their peers is generally what religion does to a people, instead of seeing those who are actually transformed by the good news of Christ.
I recently watched the movie “The Book of Eli” In the movie, The Book of Eli (a movie about a post apocalyptic world), one of the villains desperately wants a copy of the Bible because he desires to control the minds of others. He said, “it’s happened once, it can happen again.”
In this simple statement, we can see it’s not the Bible that causes people to sin and reign over people, but instead the person who used it for their own gain. I guess it’s like a knife. It can either be used for open heart surgery to save a life, or used by a murderer to kill someone. The knife isn’t the problem, the person is.
The main character in The Book of Eli, played by Denzel Washington, mentioned this when talking about the Bible:
In all these years I’ve been carrying it and reading it every day, I got so caught up in keeping it safe that I forgot to live by what I learned from it.
If you have seen this movie, you will note this is a very profound and timely quote.
When someone reads that ‘atheists know more facts about the Bible than a lot of Christians’, many of us will be instantly challenged by this. But, is this the point of the good news? Are we supposed to know all the facts about the Bible, or are we meant to be living examples of the Bible and point people towards Jesus? The survey I read shows that some Christians don’t even know basic things like who Martin Luther was, who Moses was or about what transubstantiation is truly about (Neither did I till I wrote this). Although these things might add to someones faith, is this the most important things about our faith? Our faith in Jesus shouldn’t be about just knowing the accounts and facts of Jesus (but still important), or facts about the Bible (which is important too), but our faith should be an understanding that no matter how smart or stupid we might be, we are all dead in our sin anyway. We are in need of a Saviour. We are in need of Jesus.
I would rather see those of us who believe in Jesus to show the real Jesus by loving our neighbors, loving and praying for our enemies, and being outward in faith. I would rather someone say to me, “you’re probably the most thickest person I have ever met, but I can see even in the hard times, you still have compassion and faith.” This isn’t to show that I am some great person, just that I am someone who follows Jesus’s word.
This is exactly what the people said about the disciples in the days after Jesus ascended to heaven:
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus
Maybe instead of trying to be the smartest people in our groups, we should desire to just serve the smartest guys in the room. Maybe instead of trying to do good on a test about about Jesus, we could show people up close who Jesus is and what he is about. Maybe instead of being a functional atheist, living like there is no god, we could live like we actually believe what was written to us by God.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Facebook has been muttering for some time that it has been planning its own email service. Well this may actually be finally be on the verge of launching an email service to compete against the likes of Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft.
TechCrunch, who is a leading Silicon Valley technology blog, reports that facebook plan to announce a web-based email service complete with @facebook.com addresses at an event in San Francisco on Monday, local time.
Facebook boasts more than 500 million members around the world and offering a personal email service would lay down a powerful challenge to the established email giants – Microsoft’s Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and Google’s Gmail.
Hotmail currently have the most users, 361.7 million as of September, according to online tracking firm comScore, followed by Yahoo! with 273.1 million and Gmail with 193.3 million.
TechCrunch mentioned Facebook’s planned web-based email service is part of a secret project known as “Project Titan” that is “unofficially referred to internally as its ‘Gmail killer.’”
“And while it may only be in early stages come its launch Monday, there’s a huge amount of potential here,” TechCrunch’s Jason Kincaid noted.
The report comes in the middle of recent disputes between Facebook and Google over data sharing and Silicon Valley engineering talent.
Google last week blocked Facebook from importing Gmail contact information after Facebook’s refusal to reciprocate and share data about its users.
And The Wall Street Journal reported that Internet search king Google, in a bid to stem defections to rival technology firms such as Facebook, has given all of its 23,000 employees a 10 percent pay hike.
According to the Journal, roughly 10 percent of Facebook’s employees are Google veterans.
TechCrunch’s Kincaid and others noted the advantages Facebook could bring to an email battle.
“Facebook has the world’s most popular photos product, the most popular events product, and soon will have a very popular local deals product as well,” Kincaid said.
“It can tweak the design of its webmail client to display content from each of these in a seamless fashion.
“And there’s also the social element: Facebook knows who your friends are and how closely you’re connected to them; it can probably do a pretty good job figuring out which personal emails you want to read most and prioritise them accordingly,” he said.
Gadget blog Gizmodo said the prospect of an email service from Facebook should make Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft “very nervous.”
“Facebook Mail could be a killer not only because of its potential instant size, but because of its natural advantage at making mail more useful,” Gizmodo blogger Jesus Diaz said.
“Actually, it may become the only 100 percent useful mail service out there, only showing you the email you are actually interested in,” Diaz said.
“Since Facebook knows how you interact with all your contacts, they would be able to perfectly separate what is important from what is not.”
“Of course, not every Facebook user will jump on its mail bandwagon,” Diaz added. “But chances are that a huge percentage of the user base will.”
There are certain terms that we use so often in our western way of living that they have either been stripped of their meaning or no one really knows how to define the actual term anymore.
Usually, when you challenge somebody to define these terms, they either say, “I don’t know” or start trying to make up some weird and crazy explanation that forces them go around in circles and make as much sense as Nick Smith trying to explain how removing sensitive claims from ACC funding is a good thing.
One of these terms is “faith.” I think, in today’s Christian society, we’ve done an inadequate job explaining what this term means and instead, use terms like “belief” to assimilate it with faith.
In some recent discussions on this topic, It was said, “faith means to believe”. But, what does it mean to believe?
When God tells us to have faith, he gives us a very good explanation in Hebrews of what this means and what we should expect from Him when he tells us to have faith. I am not going to be try and be some complete theologian and explain in this post who God is, or prove he exists. I’m just going to assume you already believe in some sort of greater power than you that created all things. So if God created all things, we should probably take his definition of faith when we are trying to explain it…
Here is how I found Hebrews 11:1 defined faith:
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
What this verse still doesn’t tell me is what the term “faith” meant in a practical sense of application. With the help of my trusty Strong’s and a few days of study I have discovered the term always related to Jesus or God and their work.
So, when we see assurance (or substance as it is translated in KJV) of things hoped for, the question that comes to mind is what are these “things”?
I believe that “things” hoped for has to do with the work of Jesus. That because of what God does in this world, we can have hope that what He says will happen in the future, will in fact happen. This probably still doesn’t help practically so I will try and explain what I mean. Every day, we have faith in other things that we don’t consider related with God. This sort of faith could be assurance or substance of things hoped for…
Example: When we hear that a friend or family member is pregnant, we instantly believe that she is going to have a healthy baby. Why? Well, for the most part, we base this on other experiences where we’ve heard of other people having healthy babies and the statistics that show the chances of a woman having a healthy baby are really good. Even more so, our faith in this belief increases when the doctor has said that everything is going as planned with her pregnancy.
So, is this blind faith? Not at all. It is based on something. To be more exact, it is based on other evidence we have seen previously that helps make our mind up and conclude that having a ‘healthy’ baby is pretty common. Is this blind faith? No. Is it faith? Yes, because you don’t know what’s going to happen even the doctor has no clue, he’s just playing probabilities.
The second part of Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the conviction, or assurance of things not seen. This definitely relates to the last example I just gave. But this is more to do with why we can have assurance today for things that have happened in the past. Think about sitting in a chair, maybe one in the auditorium at church. You have no idea (in most cases) who made that chair, where it was made, or if it is going to support you next time you sit on it. However, based on seeing others sitting in that chair, and your experience of sitting in one of those chairs without them breaking previously, this builds your faith around the fact that it’s probably safe to use that chair, even though you never saw it getting built. In that case, you have a self-propelled conviction and assurance of something not seen, ie: the builder who designed, built and invested his time and effort into making the chair strong and sturdy.
Is this faith? Yes. You have faith that the chair is going to hold you. The two part process of faith in Hebrews 11 is very hard to separate as they go so well together. So, what do mean when we speak of faith?
Basically, based on seeing God’s, creation, power, historical and scientific evidences throughout our lives and the lives of others we have the assurance that our hope is in the right place, that my faith in Jesus is not just some blind leap of faith. It’s based on substance, assurance, conviction and evidence, all given to me and you by God through the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
I am certainly not saying that if someone agrees to a set of facts they are saved. When I looking through Romans 6:23; John 5:24; John 11:25; Romans 8:1-2; John 3:16-18; John14:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:26; John 10:28; Romans 8:38-39 and Acts 16:31 I can see that if I come to a point where I depend on, trust in, rely on and put my faith in Jesus, only then am I saved.
So after all that, what makes up faith?
- Intellectual consideration :: Where we gather facts from what we hear and see around us today. (Like the good news of Christ…)
- Emotional reflection :: Where, at some point, we embrace those facts we found around us into our heart.
- Intentional application :: Where we must act on what we have heard and embraced. Where we rest in Christ and His work.
Faith is not a onetime act but a continual dependent trust in Christ.
Since earlier centuries, the Church seems to have changed in a dramatic way. I think the changes over the centuries for churches have been to survive and meet the needs for that particular culture at that particular time. When we come to Jesus, He wants us to change and begin to reach out to those who need to hear about Him and have their lives changed. He doesn’t expect us to stay comfortable. We are constantly encouraged to get out of our comfort zones for Him.
This could be time where believers and the church can made a true, dynamic, authentic influence on the world. In order to do so we must be willing to bring the church and other believers into this 21st century. We cannot live isolated. We cannot live sheltered. We must get out and live, showing Jesus to everyone we meet. Living a life of love, mercy, forgiveness, patience, and grace.
For church to survive, then it must change and be willing and ready to meet the challenges of this century yes? When I say change I don’t necessarily mean mechanics or outward appearances (which may change if needed) but inner beauty and life of every member of the body of Christ.
If the Church hasn’t changed in the last 5-10 years, then what is happening? Is that church dead if it is not progressing? Is it just finding excuses not to change because it’s confortable how it is?
As society changes and becomes different in the way it views, hears and interacts with its surroundings, what is being done by the Church to remain an attractive reference point to society?
Does this in fact mean the church does need to change inwardly as well as outwardly to meet the challenges of the 21st century?
- What challenges are faced as the church tries to remain ‘attractive’?
- How would you like to see the church change?
- Is it fellowship?
- The Sermon?
Do we as Christians focus too much on formal (once a week) worship and neglect daily worship?
Is the importance of knowing Jesus personally and daily, taught or discussed enough? If not, why not?
Are we encouraged to confront what Worship is for us in our daily lives?
Could we answer what worship is or how we worship Him? If not, why not?
I often feel like most of the things that should be important are not considered as important as they should be. It is easy for us to forget that worship isn’t just something we do once or twice a week but daily.
Is worship not the way we should live? Isn’t that the meaning of true worship?
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- Spending a great night with our friends was amazing. so exciting for Lisa and I to celebrate our engagement with such a lovely bunch. - posted on 16/03/2013 23:01:30
- Oh I so very much want to try these Chocolate Covered Pringles @ Chocolate Bar on @foodspotting http://t.co/W4Pkt4Zf - posted on 21/10/2012 18:47:38
- Check out the amazing Dark Chocolate And Hokey Pokey Tart I reviewed @ The Merchant on http://t.co/vd51Wio2 http://t.co/HUK9rMny - posted on 21/09/2012 08:12:47