Thoughts on Evil

1. If a man cannot act freely, then he cannot love freely. If he cannot love freely, then he is no man. We are made in God’s image, and in removing choice and love from us, God would be rubbing away at least some of his image from us.
2. Far from seeing good most clearly when we contrast it with evil, we see good best when evil is absent. I don't see what God is like by looking at the devil. I see him best when I see him. None of us mistakes an act of love when we see it--as when we witness sharing between children or the care of strangers in need--whether or not it occurs alongside evil. Still less will we mistake God and his goodness when we see him on his return. Evil will cease and we will see good in its purest state. Paul says in the love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, "Now we see only a reflection as in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face."
3. Concerning a destructive 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal, Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that we cannot blame God …

Advice About College

A former student sent an e-mail recently, asking me for advice about how to approach college. Here is what I considered important while thinking about it.
I can tell you what I know about college. I know that you are not the only one who feels apprehensive about it. Many (if not most) people who attend college have some anxiety about starting something new like college, and more so because college is often more difficult academically than high school; but from my experience, college can be such a wonderful experience if you approach it in the right way.
For instance, going to college will mean more homework than you are accustomed to having, and it will mean being in a place where you may not know anyone. It will also mean learning how to be an adult. You will have to manage your money, balance your time as you choose which classes to take when (as well as balance your classwork with a job if you choose to get a job), and take care of chores and housing needs in those times you are n…

Road Trip 2017

While making our way slowly through a thick but polite crowd in Seattle's Pike's Place market, my eyes met a box of dates. Thinking my friend was next to me, I turned to say loudly that "I haven't had dates in a long time." It was only after these words left my mouth that I realized I had spoken them not to my friend, but to a similar-aged woman. Realizing the implication of my words, I tried to recover, stating something like, "I meant the dates there [pointing to the box], not dates with people." Privy to my mistake, the woman chuckled with her friends and quickly responded with something close to, "I haven't had dates in a long time, either." It was over in a moment, but became one of the many moments I will remember from this road trip to Seattle.

I was joined by a childhood friend as we visited natural features and cities large and small. Our first north stop was the Folsom prison museum, where we learned that men lived in cells opene…

Starfish Prime

I self-published a novella (a short novel) this summer. I will add a link below to the Amazon page where you can read the description, but the book--called Starfish Prime*--is meant to appeal to middle school-aged youth. There are aspects of the book about which I am proud, and other aspects I feel reveal my freshman status as an author.

It is short--in print, it is only 123 pages--and not at all difficult to read. A swift reader could finish in one sitting if motivated. It took me some time to write it, but because of this and the thought I put into it, I grew to learn from the characters I invented. I saw them as flawed, but well-meaning individuals, and I saw, too, parts of myself and those closest to me in them. Specifically, I saw some of the character traits I dreamed of showing when I was a young man, as well as some of the more flawed traits I actually do possess.**

One example of the former--examples of traits I wish I had possessed--took place in a flashback scene of the two…

Looking Up: Shame's End

We all have regrets. One of my greatest regrets took place in the summer of 2004. I had started a master's degree program at my university in the fall of 2003. I performed passably that semester, but by the end of it, having graduated the spring before, I was burned out. I decided to put the degree program on hold and begin my training to become a teacher. I did so in the spring of that year, but wanted to do something unrelated to school during the summer. As a result, just before applications were due, I applied and was accepted to be a camp counselor at a camp just two hours away from where I lived.

I arrived to meet the permanent staff and my fellow counselors and, not more than three or four days into the job--having worked on a drama, set up an archery target by standing on the shoulders of another guy, decided the name of my cabin group, and performing various other jobs--I told the activity coordinator that it wasn't for me. While this person had someone in mind in cas…

Explanation of Good and Evil from Two Viewpoints (Christianity and Naturalistic Evolution)

Some who defend evolution as a worldview explain morality with the notion that human survival depends on it. For example, a clan that is infighting over resources would either function inefficiently--putting itself at risk--or destroy itself completely as enemies exploit the clan's weakened state. This means that at some point, for human survival, those who decided to cooperate with each other, rather than fight with each other, survived by working together. While it seems reasonable that natural selection chose the more cooperative among humanity and allowed the more selfish and less cooperative to die--that is, while evolution accounts for the good in people--I don't see how it accounts for the evil in people. If nature selects those who are cooperative, then why do we retain an uncooperative, selfish nature, too? Is this evil just a vestige of our old selves, like wisdom teeth or our appendix? Organs like these have no purpose, but evil does: its purpose is to destroy the s…

Our Response to Guilt

It's not abnormal to see people walking in the morning on those days (growing fewer, by the way) when I run. Normally, my interactions with the people I see are what you might expect when two people pass on an otherwise empty path. Most often, we greet each other and move on. Such uneventful interaction is normal. On this day, however, something different happened, something that I will likely remember for some time.

I was passing a young woman--perhaps nineteen or twenty--walking the opposite direction from me. Since she was looking down at her phone, I said nothing and kept running. However, when I reached about forty feet beyond where she then was, I heard a man from across the street begin to yell at this woman. Addressing her first by calling her out (I can't remember what he said here), I could not for certain make out what he said next, but I believe it was something like, "You are fat." Still running, even while he continued to yell, I looked to see her rea…