Archive for February 24th, 2012

Training Young Adults in Christian Apologetics

Recently, in Christian apologetic circles, it was noted that a former Christian professor of philosophy had converted to an Eastern religion. Dr. Michael Sudduth, from San Francisco State University, was highlighted in the blog post Michael Sudduth Converts to Vaishnava Vedanta!

As part of our home schooling effort, we engage in a weekly Current Events series in which I have my oldest daughter (high school) read various news items (which I have selected), and then write a brief commentary on the item, first explaining what the article was about and then giving her opinion on the story.

Here is what she wrote regarding the conversion story of Dr. Sudduth:

This article is a letter written by a man who has converted from Christianity to Vaishnava Vedanta. He had been a Protestant Christian for 25 years, but had increasingly become drawn toward Vedanta, both trough a philosophical attraction and an experiential attraction. As he began to explore the religion more deeply, he became profoundly affected by it and to feel the presence of God through it. He began to believe that his former beliefs in God were a limited expression of the deeper meaning he found through Vedanta.

Vaishnavism articulates a model of the love of God, where intimacy and separation are the two important elements of the divine-human love relation. People are both one with God and separate from God. The relationship with God is a simultaneous difference and non-difference. He believes that God is manifested in different ways, and God-realization takes on diverse forms. Vaishnavism acknowledges religious truth found across different religious traditions, and though the names are many, God is one. How we experience God depends on different aspects of our own personalities.

The author says that he does not believe he is worshipping a different God than he worshipped when he was a Christian – he believes it is the same God, under a different, and fuller manifestation. He says that the basic principles of Vaishnavism are compatible with a number of fundamental Christian beliefs, and that he is not relinquishing these beliefs but situating them in a different philosophical and theological context. He closes his letter by saying that he doesn’t want to convert any of his friends to Vaishnavism, but he hopes that they’ll make each other better devotees in their respective faiths.

From this letter, it seems like the author has based his entire conversion on experience. He felt something when reading the texts associated with Vaishnavism, he felt a closeness to the person of Lord Krishna, he felt profoundly affected and overwhelmed with a sense of the presence of God. He felt Krishna’s presence in his bedroom, he felt a validation of his spiritual journey. Even when he starts talking about philosophy and theology, he says that he has found aspects of the Vedanta theology and philosophy appealing to him. I think that his question should not be, “is it appealing?”, or “does it feel right?”, rather, he should ask “does it line up with reality?” He seems to ignore this question, replacing it with how he happens to feel. If these beliefs don’t line up with reality, if they’re not true, they shouldn’t be believed no matter how appealing they are or how good they make one feel.

The author claims that Vaishnavism is compatible with Christianity. He even claims he is worshipping the same God he worshipped before he switched religions. However, if he really means this, he couldn’t have been worshipping the Christian God before. Jesus said that He was the only way to God – obviously, the author believes there are many ways to get to God, so his beliefs are in direct opposition to fundamental Christian beliefs.

Lastly, he says that he’s only interested in making his friends better devotees to their respective religions, not in making them converts to Vaishnavism. Why is this? If he believes that Vaishnavism is true, then shouldn’t he want to convince other people of that? This religion seems to be one without much substance – it seems like anything you believe goes, and I don’t think that lines up to the way the world we know actually works.

Personally, I think that it is incumbent on us, as Christian parents, to prepare our children for the realities of a post-Christian America, thereby providing them with the resources to not only counter the worldviews they will come up against, but to courteously provide a clear explanation of the veracity of the Christian worldview.

And, I’m proud of my daughter’s grasp of these concepts, while in high school. We must engage our young adults (that would be anyone older than 13) in the marketplace of ideas, stretching them, and setting the bar high – they can achieve it.

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    Links for Friday, 24 February 2012

    NASA thinking about an Earth-Moon-Libration Point 2
    Well it’s not quite Space 1999, but pretty cool nonetheless,

    NASA is pressing forward on assessing the value of a “human-tended waypoint” near the far side of the moon — one that would embrace international partnerships as well as commercial and academic participation, SPACE.com has learned.

    According to a Feb. 3 memo from William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, a team is being formed to develop a cohesive plan for exploring a spot in space known as the Earth-moon libration point 2 (EML-2).

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    Do you know what a Mainframe is? Well, NASA just shut down their last one

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    Even more Geek News:  Photos of Mars Landers from Mars orbit

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    Abe Lincoln (on a penny) to be used as a quick size comparison indicator on the next Mars Rover

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    NASA taking stock of Eart’s melting land ice
    From the 2003-2010 observations,

    The total global ice mass lost from Greenland, Antarctica and Earth’s glaciers and ice caps during the study period was about 4.3 trillion tons (1,000 cubic miles), adding about 0.5 inches (12 millimeters) to global sea level. That’s enough ice to cover the United States 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) deep.

    Yikes! That’s very unsettling news.

    Yet, another report headlines us to the news that Earth’s Polar Ice Melting Less Than Thought. An excerpt (emphasis added),

    Nearly 230 billion tons of ice is melting into the ocean from glaciers, ice caps, and mountaintops annually—which is actually less than previous estimates, according to new research by scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

    Further in the US News report researcher John Wahr states (wisely, in my opinion),

    “Even with an eight-year estimate, it’s not clear how far into the future you can project,” he says. “A lot of people want to predict into the end of the century, but I think it’s too dangerous to do that … We don’t have enough info to know what’ll happen. There’s some ebb and flow to these things.”

    Indeed, if anyone ever wants to sell you something now based on a prediction of what will happen 100 years from now, you’d better grab hold of your wallet (I think Michael Crichton said that). From the NASA news release, after they’ve admitted the same as the US News report, it reads,

    One unexpected study result from GRACE was that the estimated ice loss from high Asian mountain ranges like the Himalaya, the Pamir and the Tien Shan was only about 4 billion tons of ice annually. Some previous ground-based estimates of ice loss in these high Asian mountains have ranged up to 50 billion tons annually.

    Ouch!

    Imagine if you had some remodeling work done on your home and the contractor estimated it would cost $50,000 but the final bill came in at only $4,000? Well, of course you’d be ecstatic, but wouldn’t you also be wondering why the contractor was so inept? Or what if a stockbroker claimed an investment would return $50,000 but it only came back with $4,000?

    Yet we’re supposed to based governmental subsidies, regulations, etc., all on long-range “scientific” esitmates that, quite frankly, are “dangerous” to do.

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      Friday Link Wrap-Up

      If Samuel L. Jackson voted for Obama because he’s black –  using as his reasoning, "’Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people — because they look like them … That’s American politics, pure and simple." — then is it OK for white folks to vote for white guys just because they’re white? Could those white folks expect the non-reaction to their reasoning as Jackson got for his?

      Albert Mohler takes Nicholas Kristof to civics class.  The Constitution protect freedom of religion as a basic right, not only when it’s convenient.

      "Actor Sean Penn criticized Republican presidential candidates during a visit to Venezuela on Thursday, saying that right-wing policies in the United States aim to benefit the wealthy." No, we want to make as many people as possible wealthy, as opposed to Venezuela’s socialism, which is making as many people as possible poor.

      Stoning Christians on the Temple Mount. No, not Jews. One more guess.

      Germans are discovering that, when they need their solar energy most, during December and January, it doesn’t help that they don’t get much sunshine then.

      Sign of the Times: "For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage" Perhaps Rick Santorum isn’t as kooky as some are making him out to be.

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        Things Heard: e209v5

        Good morning.

        1. A new academic econ blog, for those interested in that sort of thing. (HT)
        2. downloaded the paper, haven’t read it yet.
        3. Cybersecurity and the latest AGW embarrassment.
        4. And here’s a possible big reason why the above actions are being taken.
        5. Racial policy and the stupid vs evil question.
        6. Mr Obama’s White House and the reverse Robin Hood effect.
        7. Why should one learn to write well?
        8. The Romney tax plan.
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