two videos on the Government’s role

first from Iain Murray a nice economic fisking of a you tube government health care video

and next an uplifting musical piece from allahpundit


group think

the inability to reconsider (or even see) built in assumptions is something that is very interesting to me about people. @texaszman pointed to this interesting article on twitter this morning.

check out this bit here:

My theory—call it the “Oakley effect”—is that really smart people often don’t know how to accept and react constructively to criticism.  (A neuroscientist might say they “have underdeveloped neurocircuitry for integrating negatively valenced stimuli.”)  This is because smart people are whizzes at problems that only need one person to figure out.  Indeed, people are evaluated from kindergarten through college prep SATs on the basis of such “single solver” problems.  If you are often or nearly always right with these kinds of problems, your increased confidence in your own abilities would be accompanied by an inadvertent decrease in your capacity to deal with criticism.  After all, your experience would have shown that your critics were usually wrong.

But most large-scale societal issues are not single solver problems.  They are so richly complex that no single person can faultlessly teach him or herself all the key concepts, which are often both contradictory and important.  Yes, smart people have an advantage in dealing with such problems, because they’ve got natural brain-power that allows them to hold many factors in mind at once, bringing formidable problem-solving skills to bear.  But smart people have a natural disadvantage, too: they’re not used to changing their thinking in response to criticism when they get things wrong.

In fact, natural smarties—the intellectual elite—often don’t seem to learn the art of soliciting the criticism necessary to grasp the core issues of a complex problem, and then making vital adaptations as a result.  Instead, they fall in naturally with people who admire, rather than are critical, of their thinking.  This further strengthens their conviction they are right even as it distances them from people of very different backgrounds who grasp very different, but no less crucial aspects of complex problems. That’s why the intellectual elite is often branded by those from other groups as out of touch.

I think the tendency to fall in with people who agree with us and admire our thinking is common to all humans.

Having our assumptions/worldview challenged is an unpleasant experience. If we really know/like/admire/respect the challenger, we will put up with it a few times, but eventually we will stay out of range of the challenge. If we don’t know/like/admire/respect the challenger then he or she will get one unsuccessful crack at getting us to reexamine our worldview.

It is a rare person who can stand getting their assumptions challenged on a regular basis. It is an even rarer person who can even bear the thought of recalibrating their assumptions/worldview in light of new evidence. It is an exceedingly rare person who can change their way of thinking about even the smallest of things.

what would the application be for a person who wants to persuade people to take a particular course of action or support a particular idea?

does it matter if the course of action or idea is counterintuitive?

does it matter if the course of action or idea is extremely unpopular?

does it matter if following the course of action or supporting the idea will lead to personal discomfort or danger to the follower and their family?





Obviously, something supernatural would have to be at work for anyone to choose to follow that course of action or support that idea, wouldn’t it?

wedding yesterday

the daughter of a good friend of ours was married yesterday.
Katherine's wedding

it was an outdoor wedding at Kindred Oaks in Leander/Georgetown/way north area. It was lovely and fun. the weather cooperated in a big way and it wasn’t too hot.

Katherine's wedding

danger of moralistic deism

here is Matt Chandler talking about the necessity of the centrality of the Gospel and the danger when it is assumed.

Love that last line.

“But you don’t put God in your debt. I know this because really really faithful men in the Scripture have it go really really bad for them.”

hat tip to Timmy Brister.

Do people have free will?

Andrew Naselli takes a long look at the question of free will over here. Fascinating stuff. take some time this weekend to explore it.

Here is the introduction to get you started:

Non-Christians and Christians alike often give the same answer to difficult questions like these: Why did God allow sin in the first place? Why does God save some people and not others? Why does God send people to hell? Why can living like a Christian be so frustrating? The immediate solution often suggested is simple: “free will.” To many people, it’s a satisfying answer: “Oh, that makes sense. Yeah, God does x because he has to preserve my free will. Yeah, OK. Next question.” I’d like to suggest that we re-think this important issue. 

The title of this short essay is a question: “Do We Have a Free Will?” That question may be jarring to you because it asks if something exists that most people assume exists. My short answer to that question is that it depends on what you mean by “free.” The longer answer is the rest of this essay.

ok and just because I can’t let it go, here is another section to tease you over there for all of it.

Is libertarian free will the reason for the origin of sin?

Short answer: No. 

When addressing this hugely difficult question, it is helpful to consider the following: 
1.  God is not the author or agent of evil, and he is not culpable for evil. 

2.  Satan is not God’s equal opposite (i.e., a God-versus-Satan dualism). 

3.  God, who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, ordained that sin would enter his universe. (See the short essay in this series entitled “How Could a Good God Allow Suffering and Evil?”) God sovereignly works through secondary causes (such as humans) such that he is not culpable for evil but the secondary causes are. 

4.  Satan and then Adam and Eve sinned because they wanted to sin, and they are morally responsible to God for it. (The ability of humans to sin has four historical stages. First, Adam and Eve were initially able to sin. Second, after their fall, all unregenerate humans [i.e., those who are spiritually dead] are not able not to sin. Third, regenerate humans [i.e., those whom God has given spiritual life] are able not to sin. Fourth, glorified regenerate humans are not able to sin.) 

5.  Tension remains because compatibilists cannot explain exactly how God can ordain all things without being the author or agent of evil. It is at places like that that your head will start spinning if you try to put all the puzzle pieces together (we don’t have all the pieces!). Rather than deny explicit statements of Scripture that support compatibilism, a far better option is to acknowledge that this is a mystery that we finite and fallen humans simply cannot comprehend exhaustively.

6.  There is no easy answer to explaining why God ordained the origin of sin in the first place. John Piper offers a helpful pastoral perspective in Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008). (This is available online for free as a PDF: See esp. pp. 39-64.) Why doesn’t God simply wipe out Satan? Piper concludes, “The ultimate answer . . . is that ‘all things were created through [Christ] and for [Christ]’ (Col. 1:16). God foresaw all that Satan would do if he created Satan and permitted him to rebel. In choosing to create him, he was choosing to fold all of that evil into his purpose for creation. That purpose for creation was the glory of his Son. All things, including Satan and all his followers, were created with this in view” (p. 48).

emphasis added.

I read Spectacular Sins earlier this year. it was really very good indeed.

Now it is on sale for 5.00

Do yourself a favor, and if this stuff interests you, spend five dollars on Spectacular Sins and read it too. Then you will see why I was so offended by Wm Paul Young on page 165 of The Shack.

Hat tip to Challies who says this one is not for skimming so set aside a few minutes to read it.

foto friday

afternoon bokeh

Black and White sunstar
afternoon sun

Black and White dandelion
B&W flowers

why philippians?

Matt Chandler gives the top ten reasons he selected to teach through the book of Philippians for a small group video Bible study. I especially liked reasons 1, 2 and 9 below, but go check out the whole list.

  • How the church began. Acts 16: Lydia is a wealthy Asian (Thyatira); the slave girl is an oppressed Greek, and the jailer was a middle class Roman. All were transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the diversity of that cast.
  • The book teaches that the gospel advances regardless of circumstance (Phil. 1:12-18). In an age where it is not uncommon to hear that you can put God into your debt by behaving, I thought this was extremely important.
  • ……

    It gave me a chance to remind everyone that Philippians 4:13 isn’t about playing sports, making the team, or being successful in business.