It's an inspiring story: Christopher Columbus -- a man of reason, adventure, and discovery -- standing before the religious Council of Salamanca, presenting his plan to find a new trade route to India and prove his theory that the Earth is spherical; all the while maintaining an expression of calm courage, as the religious leaders assailed him with citations from the Bible attempting to prove his theory is false.
If you grew up in America, then you were likely taught this story in school. It has become a part of the very DNA of Western thinking...
The survivors and family members of those slain in the Charleston shooting astonished the nation last week, when they spoke to the murderer, “You hurt
me…but God forgive you, and I forgive you.” “I forgive you and my
family forgive you…Repent, and give your life to Christ.” “Every fiber
in my body hurts…May God have mercy on you.”
Why would someone choose to forgive such horrific evil? And how could they find the strength to do so?
As a high school teacher with 6 years in the classroom, I have observed at least four common mindsets that prevent people from learning and growing. In Part 1 of this series, I discussed the mindset that education is simply about the acquisition of information, and should never challenge our assumptions or beliefs in certain areas. In this post, I will discuss the second mindset that can sabotage our education -- the mindset of partisanship and suspicion. I will also offer some suggestions for how to change your thinking and grow.
I am entering my 7th year as a high school teacher. By now, I have observed consistent patterns as to which students learn and grow the most, and which don't. This has led me to form opinions about the most common obstacles to getting a true education. These obstacles don't only apply to students, however. They are mindsets that keep many people from learning. Sadly, these mindsets are fairly widespread, often invisible, and in some cases defended. Whatever your age, job, level of education, or beliefs, having one of these mindsets will effectively sabotage your own ability to grow, learn, and mature.
In each post of this series I will describe one of four mindsets and explain why it's harmful. Then I will offer some suggestions for how to change and grow.
Over at NPR's Cosmos & Culture blog, Marcelo Gleiser has a brief article titled, "What the 'God of the Gaps' Teaches Us About Science." In it, he uses Newton as a historical example of why we shouldn't make God a placeholder for gaps in our scientific knowledge (Newton once said that the Solar System couldn't have arisen naturally and must have been designed). Gleiser points out that those gaps often get filled in with new scientific discoveries, pushing God further and further out of the picture. Thus, Gleiser argues, we shouldn't use this "old-fashioned and doomed theological approach." I agree with him, but for very different reasons.
In the second and third centuries A.D., some Christian leaders
felt it necessary to speak out against a movement of thought that had
emerged within the early Church. They believed this new movement
conflicted with the orthodox view handed down by the apostles and the
Old Testament scriptures. The emerging movement, which was heavily
influenced by the ideas of Plato, held that the material world was
inherently corrupt and debasing, and our physical bodies were a type of
prison. Our souls, on the other hand, were pure and eternal. The end
goal of this movement was for one’s soul to be released from the bondage
of the physical world, and to exist eternally in an ethereal heaven.
This movement became known as Gnosticism.
While self-professed Gnostics are rare today, Gnosticism’s core beliefs live on in various forms, one of them being transhumanism. In its most general sense, transhumanism is not necessarily incompatible with Christianity — they share many of the same values — but there is definitely a prominent thread of transhumanist thought that has more in common with Gnosticism than Orthodoxy.
Aristotle said genuine friendship is only possible between people who love each other for what they are in themselves, not for what they get out of each other. In other words, true love is altruistic and selfless. For Aristotle, relationships that are ultimately driven by selfish goals are not altruistic and therefore not real love.
A little honest self-reflection reveals that altruism is the kind of love that our hearts long for, as well as our highest standard of virtue. Not only do we long to be loved simply for who we are (as opposed to what people get from us), we also long to be the kind of person who loves others that way. Our collective admiration for people like Mother Teresa and suffering heroes is evidence of this very human fact. We long for altruistic, self-sacrificial love -- both to receive it and to give it. If materialism is true, however, then altruism is merely an illusion of our evolutionary programming. To put it another way, if God does not exist, then there is no such thing as love.
One of the world's leading neuroscientists, Christof Koch, has some fascinating theories about consciousness and computers. He believes it is possible, in principle, for a computer to become truly conscious, but only in a very specific way. Transhumanists the world over will applaud. But not so fast. If Koch's views are correct, it also means that the ultimate hope of many transhumanists - that is, to eventually upload their mind and live forever inside a computer - is never going to happen.
My hometown of Kansas City, Missouri is hot right now, mainly because the Royals are hot right now. One of the reasons why the Royals currently have such massive appeal is because they were so awful and despised for so long; America loves a comeback story.
But the Royals’ recent success is not merely an isolated matter of luck
and timing. Their success is taking place in the context of a much
bigger story of what has been happening in Kansas City over the last
couple of decades — and it goes much deeper than baseball or even
sports. As a lifetime KC resident, I can tell you that when President
Obama recently remarked, “Something is going on in Kansas City,” he was right. And this “something” is more interesting and mysterious than people realize.
Ever since high school, the beauty of music has been the primary thing to transport me and give me a deep sense of meaning and wonder. So much so, that I immersed myself into music, started a rock band, and took a shot at being a career musician. I wanted my life to be musical—I wanted it to be like the perfect song... It wouldn’t be until years later that I would realize it was not music I was chasing all that time, it was beauty.