Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Courage to Think For Yourself The Search For Truth and The Meaning of Human Life: The Uses of Philosophy -The Incompleteness of Scie...

The Courage to Think For Yourself The Search For Truth and The Meaning of Human Life: The Uses of Philosophy -The Incompleteness of Scie...: THE USES OF PHILOSOPHY – THE    INCOMPLETENESS OF SCIENCE To philosophize is to attempt to see in a coherent and meaningful vision v t...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blind Evolution or Intelligent Design? Bill Dembski/Michael Behe vs. Ken...

The God Delusion

G.K. Chesterton - Why I am a Catholic

Fyodor Dostoevsky : A Russian Writter

Prominent Russians: Fyodor Dostoevsky

October 30, 1821 – January 28, 1881

Image from www.ogoniok.comImage from
Fyodor Dostoevsky was one of Russia’s greatest writers, one whose works are read and discussed all over the world. His writing is steeped in deep psychology and the exploration of human nature, while it also accurately depicts the Russian reality of his times.

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was the second of seven children born to a staff doctor at Moscow’s Mariinskaya Hospital for the poor (now a medical research institution). According to some sources, his father may have descended from Belarusian nobles. A well educated and caring family man, he was still rather ill-tempered and distrustful, and brought up his children in the old orthodox fashion, in an atmosphere of fear and obedience. The brightest memories of Fyodor’s childhood were those of life in the countryside, on an estate in the Tula region, where his family spent the summer months. The father was usually not present and the children enjoyed almost complete freedom. It was here that Fyodor acquired the knowledge of peasant life that would add truth to many of his fictional characters later.
His mother taught him how to read and write. He also studied religion and French. In 1834, his father sent him to one of Moscow’s best boarding schools, where he was drawn to literature and reading. He came to adore Aleksandr Pushkin, who is widely considered Russia’s greatest poet. Dostoevsky called him a “demigod” and a “prophet.”
Pushkin’s death in 1837 was a heavy blow to Dostoevsky, almost as heavy as the death of his mother, who was taken by tuberculosis that same year.

Image from www.socionics.orgImage from
Later, in May, he followed his father’s wishes and entered St. Petersburg’s military engineering college, one of the country’s best educational institutions at the time. He remembered those years as “labor servitude.” He was uninterested in the lectures and training and acquired the reputation of an “unsociable crank.” However, some of his co-students shared his loathing of military studies and love of literature, which led to the creation of a literary club around him.

The death of his father in 1839 – different sources suggest suicide and murder by his own serfs, while, according to official records, he died of an apoplectic seizure – provoked a serious nervous fit, forestalling the future development of epilepsy.
In 1841, during a party organized by his elder brother, who studied at the same institute, Dostoevsky read out excerpts from two romantic plays he had written that year, “Mary Stuart” and “Boris Godunov.”
He graduated in 1843 and was enrolled as a field engineer to a military engineering team stationed in St. Petersburg. He resigned just half a year later, deciding to live off his literary works alone and “work like hell.” His first novella “Poor Folk” (“Bednye Lyudi”) was ready by that time, and he published it in Nikolay Nekrasov’s “Petersburg Collection” (“Peterburgskiy Sbornik”) to extraordinary success. Dostoevsky remembered this as the brightest time of his youth, which later in life provided him with much needed spiritual strength.
The famous literary critic Vissarion Belinsky praised him as a rising star and a future great artist of the “Gogol school” – the movement for an increasingly realistic and truthful depiction of life and reality in Russia, with criticism of the nobility and city officials and support for the “little man.”
Image from www.fdostoevsky.ruImage from
Belinsky accepted him into the close circle of his associates as an equal, however, the good relations between the group and Dostoevsky didn’t last long. Members of the group continuously insulted Dostoevsky’s vulnerable self-esteem and made fun of his works. Dostoevsky maintained relations with Belinsky, though he was deeply insulted by the criticism.

The following years saw Dostoevsky write a number of novellas: “The Double” (“Dvoynik” 1846), “The Landlady” (“Hozyayka” 1847), “White Nights” (“Belye Nochi” 1848) and “Netochka Nezvanova” (1849). The works revealed Dostoevsky’s unparalleled realistic style while his deep psychological insight and the uniqueness of his characters distinguished him from other writers of the time.
The work on “Netochka Nezvanova” was interrupted by Dostoevsky’s arrest on the night of 23 April 1849 because of his connection to the Petrashevsky’s circle – a literary discussion group of officials, officers and other progressive-minded people who were strongly opposed to monarchy and serfdom. Originally intended for self-education and discussion of the theories of French socialists, the club later became a place to discuss the existing flaws in Russia’s system, and even spurred talk of a secret society and a revolution to create a democratic Russia and free the serfs.
Dostoevsky was detained for eight months. While in detention, he wrote “A Little Hero” (“Malenkiy Geroy”), which was published in 1857. He was then sentenced to death, but the Tsar changed the sentence to four years of punitive labor. Dostoevsky, together with other prisoners, was brought to the Semenovsky drill ground in St. Petersburg (known today as Pioneers’ Square), where the death sentence was announced. He did not know until the very last moment that the sentence had been changed. The horror Dostoevsky felt at that moment later echoed in one of his most famous novels, “The Idiot” (1869).

Image from www.senator.senat.orgImage from
He served his sentence in 1850-1854, describing the experience in “The House of the Dead” (“Zapiski iz Mertvogo Doma” 1862). Afterwards, he was forcibly enrolled into the Siberian line battalion. During this period he apparently continued reading; he sent letters to his brother, asking him to send him books. He fell in love with Maria Isaeva, the wife of an overseer. The relationship with a married woman was not an easy one for Dostoevsky, but soon her husband died, and in 1857, he married her.
Almost a decade of physical and moral suffering seemed to sharpen his perception of the woes of others and his ability to see and analyze their anguish and respond to the social injustice grew more acute.
It wasn’t until 1859 that he was allowed to retire. At first, he was only permitted to move to the city of Tver. That same year he published two novels, “Uncle’s Dream” (“Dyadushkin son”) and “The Village of Stepanchikovo” (“Selo Stepanchikovo i ego obitateli”). However, he longed to return to St. Petersburg, the centre of the country’s literary life, and in 1860, he managed to procure a permit to go there.
At the time, Dostoevsky was in great need of money; his wife was ill with tuberculosis
Image from www.kino-teatr.ruImage from
and writing didn’t earn them a lot. In 1861, he started to publish the magazine “Time” (“Vremya”) together with his elder brother. The magazine quickly garnered great popularity and provided a decent living for both of them. In it, Dostoevsky published his novels “The Insulted and Humiliated” (“Unizhennye I Oskorblennye”), “The House of the Dead” and the short story “A Nasty Story” (“Skverny Anekdot”).
In “Time” and its successor magazine “Epoch” (‘Epokha”), Dostoevky expressed his views on the political situation in Russia, which he developed during his years in exile. He thought the country should unite every social layer and class under the wise leadership of a monarch and the Orthodox Church. He deemed the way of Western Europe ruinous for Russia.
In June 1862 Dostoevsky went abroad for the first time, visiting Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy and England. In Paris, he met Appolinaria Suslova. His dramatic relationship with her was later reflected in “The Idiot,” “The Gambler” (“Igrok”) and his other works. She is believed to be the main inspiration for Dostoevsky’s female characters.

Image from www.nnm.ruImage from
Dostoevsky returned to Russia in 1863. In April 1864 he suffered a great loss when his wife died of tuberculosis. Her personality, as well as the details of their unhappy relationship, inspired several images in his most famous works (that of Katerina Ivanovna in “Crime and Punishment” and Nastasya Filippovna in “The Idiot”). In June, his brother died too. After that, Dostoevsky took upon himself the publishing of the magazine “Epoch,” which was heavily in debt and had skipped three issues. Business improved for a short while, but plummeting circulation forced him to close the magazine down.
In 1865 he went to the resort town of Wiesbaden in Germany to improve his health. There, in 1866, he started work on one of his best-known novels, “Crime and Punishment” (“Prestuplenie i nakazanie”).
The novel is centered on a psychological effect of one crime. Dostoevsky himself described the central idea as follows: “The criminal is faced with unsolvable questions, unexpected and unsuspected feelings torment his heart. God’s truth and Earth’s law prevail in the end, forcing the criminal to do himself in. He is forced, albeit through dying in forced labor, to re-join the people…” In the novel, St. Petersburg is shown in great detail with its multi-faceted life and its multiple social layers. Philosophical discussions, ominous dreams, confessions, nightmares, grotesque and caricature scenes flowing seamlessly into tragic situations, all work to show the writer’s deep vision of his epoch and the social and psychological turmoil of his characters.

Image from from
In 1866 Dostoevsky’s expiring contract with his publishing house forced him to work on two novels simultaneously - “Crime and Punishment” and “The Gambler,” based on the impressions of his trip to Europe. He tried a new approach to work, employing the stenographer Anna Snitkina, whom he married in 1867.
That same year the couple went abroad, living first in Germany, then in Italy. Dostoevsky worked on the novels “The Possessed” (“Besy”; other translations “Demons, “Devils”) and “The Idiot.”
“The Possessed” was centered on the nascent social-democratic movement in Russia. Dostoevsky drew a vivid picture of the country’s political life of the 1860s-1870s, including a parallel to the social-democratic group of Sergey Nechaev, a formation known for its terrorist methods of working towards a revolution at all costs. “The Possessed” includes a record number of varied characters among Dostoevsky’s works: from the governor’s family and the local nobility to military officers, students, menial workers and former serfs.
The idea of “The Idiot” was described by Dostoevsky himself as his favorite. He said that his goal was “to show a positively splendid person” and that “nothing in the world was more difficult than that, especially in these times.”
In 1871, Dostoevsky and his wife returned to Russia. In May they moved from St. Petersburg to Staraya Russa, a small town in the Novgorod region, where they later bought a house and lived with their two children.
Starting in December 1872, Dostoevsky became the chief editor of the magazine “Citizen” (“Grazhdanin”). In it, he implemented his long-time plan to create “A Writer’s Diary,” a collection of political, literary and autobiographical short stories and sketches united by the idea of direct communication with his readers. He published the diary until 1877.
In 1878-1879 he wrote “The Brothers Karamazov” (“Bratya Karamazovy”), a novel that summed up his views on life in Russia at the time. He described it as a “summarized depiction of contemporary reality, of the educated modern Russia” written in the form of a family chronicle. It explores matters of faith, reason, spirituality and morality. The novel has found acclaim with some of the world’s major thinkers, from Sigmund Freud, who ranked it among the best literature of all time alongside “Hamlet” and Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King,” to Pope Benedict XVI.
In the last years of his life, Dostoevsky’s popularity grew. In 1877, he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences. In 1879 he was invited to an international literary congress in London, where he was elected a member of the Honorary Committee of the International Literature Association. He attended literary and musical parties and gatherings, reading excerpts from his own works and Pushkin’s poems.
In 1881 he decided to restart publishing the “Writer’s Diary” and began working on the first new issue. However, it was never published. His health had been deteriorating and on the night of 26 January his throat started bleeding. In the afternoon on 28 January he was able to say his last goodbyes to his children and in the evening he died.
On 31 January 1881, a huge gathering came to see Dostoevsky’s funeral in Aleksandr Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg.
Fyodor Dostoevsky has left a legacy of literature that makes him one of the world’s - not just Russia’s - greatest writers of the 19th century. His works have been translated into numerous languages. They are still popularly read and assigned in schools and universities. He explored and captured the depth of the human soul, surfacing emotions and feelings in times both dark and happy. And though his writing was inspired by what he saw in Russia or experienced himself, those feelings rang out as part of universal inner struggles facing readers from every part of the globe.
Written by Aleksandr Bondarenko, RT

Related personalities:
Anna Akhmatova

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Polish Children of Pahiatua - 70th Reunion HD

Saint Joseph: A Hidden Life from "Who Cares About The Saints?" with Fr. ...

The Courage to Think For Yourself The Search For Truth and The Meaning of Human Life: Intelligent Design in Schools - William Dembski vs...

The Courage to Think For Yourself The Search For Truth and The Meaning of Human Life: Intelligent Design in Schools - William Dembski vs...

Intelligent Design in Schools - William Dembski vs. Michael Shermer

John Lennox at the "Why I am a Christian" Youth Event in Perth, Australia

The Courage to Think For Yourself The Search For Truth and The Meaning of Human Life: Evidence for Intelligent Design - John Lennox

The Courage to Think For Yourself The Search For Truth and The Meaning of Human Life: Evidence for Intelligent Design - John Lennox

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The two faces of Leo Tolstoy | OUPblog

The two faces of Leo Tolstoy | OUPblog

Jesus used Apologetics. So should we.

Jesus used Apologetics. So should we.

Nonviolence, revolution, and the Arab Spring | OUPblog

Nonviolence, revolution, and the Arab Spring | OUPblog

Animated Apologetics: CS Lewis on Miracles, Science, and the Laws of Nature

Animated Apologetics: CS Lewis on Miracles, Science, and the Laws of Nature

Every once in a while you run upon someone who has an aversion to Apologetics, usually out of misunderstanding. “I will not ‘apologize’ for Jesus”, they might say.It is at those times that we often pull out our limited Greek knowledge and explain to them the meaning of 1 Peter 3:15.
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV)
The word defense is the Greek word ἀπολογία, or in English apologia, which means to make a defense. Lots of people get the word apologetic confused with the modern word apologize, or to say “sorry”. Even after this mini Greek lesson though, some remain unconvinced.

Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything, and cosmology | OUPblog

Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything, and cosmology | OUPblog

The Courage to Think For Yourself The Search For Truth and The Meaning of Human Life: Thomas Aquinas and God | OUPblog

The Courage to Think For Yourself The Search For Truth and The Meaning of Human Life: Thomas Aquinas and God | OUPblog: Thomas Aquinas and God | OUPblog

Thomas Aquinas and God | OUPblog

Thomas Aquinas and God | OUPblog

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Fine Tuning of the Universe

Why Did God Only Reveal Himself to a Small Part of the World?

The Uses of Philosophy -The Incompleteness of Science


To philosophize is to attempt to see in a coherent and meaningful vision v the totality of my whole existence. It is a renewed effort to see the essential value and direction of my life. Ultimately to philosophize one must decide for wisdom of life.

Here we face a number of difficulties.

First a casual look at the history of Philosophy reveals to us many and different beliefs, ideologies, faiths. As already mentioned, it seems that almost everything that has been believed as true by some thinkers was also denied by others. Philosophers do not seem to agree on the most vital issues, which perennially confront every generation of mortals.

Second a casual look at the contemporary scene, at the world today, seems to suggest the same. There are so many divergent views, ideologies and mythologies and all have dedicated defenders  and followers sometimes fanatically sold to their  visions of what is valuable, true and meaningful.

This realization may lead to despair. Is Truth attainable at all? How can I know whether there is anything worth believing at all? Is not skepticism the most reasonable attitude? Is not everything relative?

Third the observation of the great majority of people is not encouraging either. It does not take much time to see that a great part of mankind lives without paying much attention to the crucial questions of human existence. False notions of security, ignorance deliberately cultivated, thoughtless pleasure-seeking, mad activism are all glorified and widely practiced. Preoccupation with senseless trivialities – this is what we see everywhere, or it seems so.

Not many people like to think deeply. Many deliberately evade confronting their inner emptiness by constantly trying to run away from themselves. The society in which we live provides immeasurable ways for making it easy to plunge into thoughtless spending of time. It is called entertainment:  drugs, alcohol, bought sex, etc. Many people live this way.

It is enough to reflect on this all to be tempted very strongly to give up the serious search for a true meaning of our lives. Is there any?

This “temptation to despair” is nevertheless the result of a superficial and shallow observation. For philosophy is not a futile quest. Many individuals found deep and rewarding meaning to their lives in personal search; in Philosophy. The quest itself is certainly difficult and may last a lifetime. But it is not a futile quest. Gradually light emerges. Many a truth, a belief acquires through centuries of thinking and rethinking more validity and more solid justification. Everyone wants to make his or her life as meaningful as possible. Mankind never gives up this search for meaning. If it had it would stop existing as mankind. There would be no humanity, we would not exist. For this search for meaning, philosophy is the main striving force of one’s existence. There is no life without it.

The perennial questions confront in some way every thinking human being, but the horizon of knowledge, the depth of insight differs from century to century. All humanity evolves dynamically towards clearer understanding, toward fuller awareness, towards simpler vision of meaning of existence.

The differences must be there, because each culture, each civilization, each generation (and each individual) has a perspectival, partial and limited view. Nevertheless the insights, the answers gained gradually accumulate.

We must not let ourselves be deceived by the perspectival and limited nature of human knowledge. Since human beings are limited, so will be their visions, but limited does not mean non-existent. Since philosophical questions face each one of us, we are very privileged. We can examine how the greatest minds of mankind struggle with the same problems. We have a dialogue with the great philosophers of the past and the present. This itself is a great advantage. By examining their views, the way they formulated the enduring all-human questions on the meaning of existence, we may be spared going into blind alleys of improper ways of questioning. By examining carefully their answers we may get tremendous insights and depth of vision, perhaps even true solutions. We are not alone in this human quest which endures over the ages. My and your vision is certainly very limited and meager, to say the least, but in conversing with the great philosophers, the leaders and giants of insight and vision, we can think the thoughts of the best of all humankind. The great advantage of this fact cannot be overestimated ever. This is most certainly the most exhilarating experience. It is growing towards full human stature as a member of the whole family of men. Are we not contradicting ourselves? First we realized that the philosophical search for meaning must be done by each one for himself and thus it is a lonely search, and now we are saying that this search is nevertheless a search together with other thinkers in a kind of enduring search – dialogue over centuries of time! There is no contradiction here. What is important is our aim, our goal:  to shape my meaning of my existence, for myself. The purpose of philosophy, St. Thomas Aquinas remarked, is not to know what others thought, but to attain towards the TRUTH of things. In studying Philosophy each one must think for himself. Each one is all the time searching and actively looking for his or her meaning. Philosophizing is a constant determined reaching towards the vision of TRUTH. Otherwise it would be a meaningless gathering of scattered information only. So much is always clear.

However, it would be irrational and unjustifiable to reject a philosophical insight, which after careful rethinking appears as true and valid, within an important area of my search simply because it is not my own, but someone else’s. This point is so obvious that it would be a waste of time to dwell on it further. There lies the value and meaning of studying the greatest and the best in Philosophy.

Some of the modern thinkers are rather skeptical of conclusion, transcending what they define as human experience. This experience is conceived by them in a rather narrow sense, called scientific. To those thinkers – contrary to the Ancient Greek belief and Medieval attitude, philosophy should only be concerned with what is empirically verifiable. By empirical verification again they mean sense-verification. This attitude in its extreme form narrows tremendously the horizon of inquiry to the scientifically demonstrable only. There are some, who believe that Science so understood, is all we have to our disposal.

Scientific truth – truth obtained by special sciences – has the redeeming quality of being exact, but is never complete and never ultimate. It does not suffice unto itself. It needs philosophical, that is more fundamental, grounding. It originates in many assumptions which are without much scrutiny accepted as good. Scientific truth does not stand on its own feet and is not fundamental enough. It must be integrated and rooted in more complete and final kind of truth, which may be considered neither “scientific” (in a sense described above) nor directly demonstrable by senses. No scientific theory is in any way ultimate for each one can be – and historically often had been – replaced by another one. Where science ends the problems do not end, neither does the search for meaning. It must be noted also that special sciences give us only piecemeal insight into very limited a narrowly specified aspects of the world:  by no means exhaustive or complete. The scientist himself within his field of specialization, as a human being needs truth which is whole and complete. Whether he likes it or not, by the very make-up of his human mind, he must form a total concept of the universe and find his place in it. The philosophic truth is more general thus less exact but more basic. It is truth of higher rank not only because its horizon is broader and deeper, but also as a type of knowledge. The inexact philosophic truth is true truth and indispensable. A truth may be very exact and yet very small and almost devoid of deeper meaning altogether. Special sciences alone cannot ever completely satisfy the imperative need for a meaning-vision of the totality of human experience as human. As Sidney Hook remarked, “Philosophy concerns itself with the place of man in the universe from the point of view of certain -large and perennial questions which all reflective men at some time or another ask. These questions are not asked or answered in any of the special sciences, but to answer them intelligently one must be familiar with the best science and theology of the day.” Sidney Hook, The Uses of Philosophy).

This then is Philosophy as the quest for wisdom. Wisdom is concerned with meaning, values and value judgments. It is knowledge of what is good or better, bad or worse, what is meaningful and what is not. It is knowledge which throws in the concreteness of human existence a certain illuminating light at the questions:  Who am I? What is the universe around me? What can I know? What I can hope for? What should I do? Does the universe show a design or not? Is there a God or Friend beyond phenomena or are we alone? Are human beings destined for immortal existence or perchance only complicated sparks of chemical elements?

This of course, is only a random selection of philosophical problems. There is a host of other problems. All are interrelated and mutually trigger one another and thus throw light at one another forming gradually a more meaningful pattern of vision.

We are in the position now to put together the answer to the question:  Why should we study Philosophy? Philosophy provides
(a) purpose in life. It enables a person to attain a coherent system of ideas and beliefs leading towards a more satisfactory mode of living;
(b) tremendous enrichment of human knowledge because it organizes the best of sciences and  draws conclusions relevant for the search for the  meaning of  life;
(c) contact with the greatest minds in the history of mankind. The problems of Philosophy are by their very nature perennial. Mankind has been wrestling with these problems through the ages and will continue in future. In each generation there are geniuses of insight and depth who have left their answers to be pondered and examined.
(d) a sense of worth and meaning of life. An unexamined life is not worthy of man. An exclusive preoccupation with everyday concerns without a more comprehensive view limits and impoverishes life robbing it almost completely of its value and import;
(e) social evaluation. In our modern rapidly changing world of mass civilizations a mass destruction becomes more and more probable. The study of Philosophy helps towards an intelligent evaluation of the political scene and to constructive use of one’s freedom for the interests of civilization. It augments the sense of meaning of each person’s individual existence.
To quote Jacques Maritain, Philosophy reminds men “of the supreme utility of those things which do not deal with means, but with ends. For men do not live only by bread, vitamins and technological discoveries. They live by values and realities which are above time and are worth knowing for their own sake.” (Jacques Maritain, On the Use of Philosophy).”