Archives For Anthony Weber

I ended the first post on this topic by noting that Paul wanted something better than freedom for Onesimus: he wanted Philemon to view Onesimus as a human being, a brother in Christ, a man of intrinsic value and worth. And if Paul could accomplish that, all forms of injustice and inequality would fade away. The best way to change a cultural mindset that accepts inequality, dehumanization, and injustice is to change the hearts of those who perpetuate it in all its forms. Continue Reading…

Though Paul’s letter to Philemon is often used to accuse Paul of supporting (or at least being okay with) slavery, the criticism misses the deeper purpose of this letter. Paul presented a radical Continue Reading…

Atheism: A Reader

Anthony Weber —  February 22, 2014 — Leave a comment

I recently I went to a local bookstore in search of a book that would give me a solid overview of the atheistic worldview. Atheism: A Reader happened to featured prominently. It is handily divided into eight sections that offer a broad range of atheistic objections to Christianity with representations from various eras of history and areas of expertise. I will provide a very brief (and hopefully fair) summary of the sections and essays before offering some comments at the end.

“Some Overviews”

  • Thomas Huxley notes that “The agnostic says, ‘I cannot find good evidence that so and so is true.’”
  • Leslie Stephen basically agrees with the definition, because “there are limits to the sphere of human intelligence.”
  • Emma Goldman writes that since all religions are based in fear and ignorance and developed by people who are not that bright, atheism is a boon to mankind, a “dissolution of the phantoms of the beyond; the light of reason has dispelled the theistic nightmare.”
  • Carl Von Doren agrees that religions give no good reason for anyone to accept any of them.

 “A Refutation of Deism”

  • Percy Shelley claims that “design must be proved before a designer can be inferred.” Since this cannot be shown, positing a Creator is unwarranted.
  • A.J. Ayer rejects the Argument from Design because it could allow for multiple creators, does not require an eternal deity, and needs a creator outside of time, which seems difficult at best.
  • Robert Ingersoll’s refutation of Deism can be summarized in two key questions: Why did God apparently create so many defective things? And why did a good and wise God create so much evil?
  • Bertrand Russell addresses a number of the arguments for God, but he focuses on the link between morality and God. He claims that Christians think they are the only ones who can be moral, then highlights bad Christians throughout history. Continue Reading…

For those who would like to be familiar with the worldviews and messages in the books, films, and TV shows effecting a primarily Young Adult audience, I offer the following excerpts from some recent reviews. Keep in mind that my main goal is to look at how the story reflects and shapes the readers’ worldview. Click on the title links for the full reviews.

Neil Shusterman’s Unwind:

“Unwind is compelling. It’s disturbing. It makes the moral heart of our culture’s debate about the aforementioned issues unavoidable. It’s one thing to write academic papers about post-birth abortion; it’s quite another to vicariously experience the murder of innocent people deemed unworthy of life. The reader can’t help but cringe at the empty deception in defense of Unwinding while cheering those who fight to stop it.

Though Shusterman intended to take a neutral approach by highlighting hypocrisy on all sides, the story sends a clear message about the value of human life. I suspect that, deep inside, no one reading the story concludes that this is a tough issue that needs more philosophizing. We intuitively know that defending Unwinding with the promise of ongoing existence is a cruel lie. And if that’s true.…well, the debate about all the beginning of life issues mentioned earlier gets very interesting.”

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game:

“Ender is neither hero nor villain. He is manipulated child, hardened slave, brilliant prodigy, fighter for peace, savior of our civilization and destroyer of other worlds. That’s why Ender commands our attention. We long for him to rise above a legacy of unintended tragedy. If a killer of worlds can atone for his crimes, maybe a thief, addict or cheater can too.”

“What If The Odds Are Against You?” (from The Hunger Games and Philosophy):

“No matter how powerful (or impotent) a role luck plays in orchestrating the parts of our lives that are out of our control, most people agree: moral character is something that has relevance only if it is in our control. We want to know if Katniss, Peeta and Gale will be controlled by their circumstances or rise above it. There is agency there. Intent, will and choice matter.”

“Dying To Be Entertained” (from The Hunger Games and Philosophy):

“Is it any wonder that the Capital is saturated in violence? The citizens of the capital have no way to gauge what healthy, stabilizing moral community looks like. All that’s left is power, and the ever present screen projects glittering, false stories to a steadily decaying culture.”

 

 

For those who would like to be familiar with the worldviews and messages in the books, films, and TV shows effecting a primarily Young Adult audience, I offer the following excerpts from some recent reviews. Keep in mind that my main goal is to look at how the story reflects and shapes the readers’ worldview. Click on the title links for the full reviews.

“The Day Miley Couldn’t Stop”:

“The people in the audience bought her music, so clearly the worldview in the song was not an issue. The VMA’s were even giving a nod of approval to the song by having it performed live. For better or worse, Miley took the song seriously. She lived out on the stage what was apparently “the good life.” She was being liberated!And then all the people who helped to put her on the stage judged her when the very song they love specifically said only God could do that. I think I know why: it was painfully obvious to everyone that what she embodied in those two songs was not a good life at all.”

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane:

“The Ocean at the End of the Lane lingers with me. There is something here that taps into our deepest hopes and fears. At the heart of Gaiman’s mythic world a conflict rages between destruction and creation, between hope and fear, between the rapidly receding innocence of childhood and the encroaching reality of life.”

Stephen King’s Under The Dome: A Mid-Season Perspective:

“Under The Dome takes yet another look at what happens when people are given a chance to be themselves. Societal structures keep our collective evil in check; what happens when we are released from the obligation to conform to the moral expectations of those around us? Though the current series is not as good as the book (published in 2009), King’s stories are good enough to translate onto the screen, and the series is crushing the summer competition.” Continue Reading…