Clear and critical thinking-out-loud about philosophical and theological topics from the perspective of a Christian pastor.
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Full disclosure: I consider everyone who stormed the U.S. Capitol a domestic terrorist as defined by article 802 of the Patriot Act, and as such they need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This article was written to shed light on a dark moment in our nation’s history, and to try and understand the rationale behind those who falsely believed they were justified in their actions.

The Logic of January 6th

  1. P.
  2. Therefore, Q.

This formula is known as a syllogism. It was developed by Aristotle when he formulated his rules of logic. This particular syllogism is referred to as a modus ponens, or in Latin “the mode of affirming.” The letters ‘P’ and ‘Q’ can be thought of like ‘X’ or ‘Y’ in a mathematical formula in that they are variables, but formally they represent propositions — statements about reality that you can either accept or reject. In the first premise of this syllogism, ‘P’ is the antecedent, whereas ‘Q’ is the consequent. When you put them together, the proposition of ‘P’ is supposed to entail ‘Q’ or that ‘Q’ is a consequence of ‘P.’ If you accept ‘P,’ then logic demands that you also accept ‘Q.’ The events of January 6th, of the U.S. Capitol being invaded by a mob, have shown us that ‘Q’ in their case was we must storm the U.S. Capitol, and so this begs the question: what was their ‘P’? …


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The Apotheosis of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1631) by Francisco de Zurbarán.

In my early 20s when I began taking philosophy more seriously, I came across these things called syllogisms. At the time I though I understood syllogisms, but as I learned more about philosophy in general it turned out my initial understanding was wrong. (Dunning-Kruger anyone?)

As a budding theologian and Christian apologist, I wrote many syllogisms to argue for the existence of God thinking they were sound and valid, only for professional philosophers or more seasoned philosophy enthusiasts to tell me they were not. …


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The Mandalorian and the Razor Crest.

In the Star Wars Universe, the Mandalorians are proud people who have had their homelands burned, their leadership broken, their tribes scattered, their wealth stolen, and their strength exploited. Despite the massive cultural trauma that they have experienced, the Mandalorians have never given up, have never faded into obscurity, and have remained steadfastly committed to their values and ideology. Does this sound like any people group on Earth that we know?

LET’S GET YOU UP TO HYPERSPEED…

Star Wars fans were first introduced to the Mandalorian people through a bounty hunter named Boba Fett, in The Empire Strikes Back. His first appearance was alongside other bounty hunters, or ‘scum’ according to one Imperial officer, that Darth Vader had assembled to track down the Millennium Falcon. As Darth Vader paces across the line-up to deliver his instructions, he pauses in front of Boba Fett and turns, pointing his finger at his face saying “no disintegrations.” Uh okay! This Boba Fett guy must have a reputation in order for Darth Vader to single him out like that. As far as we know at this point in the film, Boba Fett could have been the same bounty hunter that Han Solo claimed he ran into on a planet called Ord Mantell. …


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As the pandemic still rages on in America, many churches have had to abruptly transition to new forms of ministry they were not prepared to do in the first place. Countless preachers and ministry teams have scrambled to get high-quality online worship services available, Bible study groups and youth groups are meeting via web calls, and other organizations that traditionally use churches for gatherings (Alcoholics Anonymous, Boy Scouts, Young Life, etc.) have also been hit. The pandemic has in a biblical sense, forced Christians into an exile of sorts. However, I think this exile will chasten us into the kind of Church we should have already been: a church that is boundless, and not tied down to a brick and mortar location, and a church that is dauntless, instead of mired by the struggles of this world. …


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I was originally going to title this article a “book review” but I decided to go with “reflection” instead because of a couple reasons. The first you ask? The author, Dr. Antipas Harris, was once one of my professors at Regent University. He has since moved up in the world, now as the President-Dean of Jakes Divinity School in Dallas, Texas. Yes, that Jakes. He also founded the Urban Renewal Center (URC) at my home church, the First Presbyterian Church of Norfolk (VA), which boldly sought to challenge and change the conversation in the City of Norfolk (and perhaps the nation itself) we have about race, racism, inequality, and racial reconciliation. …


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The poster boy of evolutionary psychology: Steven Pinker.

In my previous article, “Psychologizing Religion: Is God an Imaginary Friend?” I explored the so-called projection theory that was developed by Sigmund Freud. (Feel free to read the executive summary of that article here.) In viewing religious beliefs through a psychoanalytical lens, he saw God as nothing more than an imaginary father who could satisfy our subconscious desires, hopes, and fears. Although I believe I was successful in delivering a critique of the projection theory, there were a number of intersecting ideas that kept coming up in my research that I had to put on the back-burner and save for a follow-up article — this one. …


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From left to right: Hegel, Feuerbach, and Freud

When the Enlightenment was inaugurated by Immanuel Kant in 1784, public institutions — most notably the Church and State — became the subject of intense scrutiny. It was not enough to simply question the authority and dogmas of these institutions, rather many found it necessary to pursue projects of (what would later be called by Jacques Derrida as) deconstruction. The goal of these projects was to conceptually dismantle not only the ideologies of these institutions (such as ‘the divine right of kings’) but also their antecedent conditions. …


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The man himself. (Photo: John Lawrence)

This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Antony Flew’s article titled “Theology and Falsification” published in Philosophy Now. Even to this day it remains a standard must-read article in university philosophy of religion programs. Although short (you can read the Golden Jubilee republication here), it marked a watershed moment in Anglo-American philosophical discourse because it applied developments in the philosophy of science to the philosophy of religion. The specific development was the falsifiability criterion, which was Karl Popper’s attempt to not only solve the problem of induction, but to also identify the difference between legitimate scientific inquiry and pseudoscience or superstition. …


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“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” ~ Galileo

When you you have a maintenance or repair problem in your home, you call a contractor. When you want to get serious about losing weight, you join a gym or hire a personal fitness specialist. When you need help with a subject at school, you get tutoring. Whenever we debate some policy point, we consult subject matter experts. So why is it when it comes to so many aspects of our lives we are ready and willing to get help, except when it comes to critical thinking? …


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Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Virginia

You have heard of dead in the water. Well dead reckoning is what sailors used to do before the days of computer assisted navigation if they needed to figure out where exactly they were and had no other means (such as celestial navigation) to determine their longitude and latitude — also known as a ‘fix.’ The process is quite simple: start with your last known fix, and then plot all course changes and velocities that you made since that fix. …

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