This treatise is highly insightful, and stimulated me to consider ideas that had not occurred to me. However, due to the now-archaic language combinedThis treatise is highly insightful, and stimulated me to consider ideas that had not occurred to me. However, due to the now-archaic language combined with the inherently abstract nature of the subject matter, Freedom of the Will is extremely difficult to read. A headache. Especially because Edwards spends probably half the essay (or more) defining terms. As Edwards is a metaphysician discussing abstract ideas here, it sounds like what I remember of the work of Gottfried von Leibniz when I read some of it, a long time ago. As an English major with training in technical writing, I suspect that if I rewrote it in contemporary English but took care to preserve all Edwards' thought, the new essay might be half the length of the original (25 pages in my book).
What I learned, and the conclusions I drew from its implications, relates mainly to the nature of the phrase "free will" as commonly understood. Essentially, Edwards points out that phrase is nonsensical (if taken literally, not sneaking any other meanings into the words). He defines "will" as the ability to choose (a definition shared by John Locke, he says). But he defines "free" almost identically--as simply having the ability to choose. Therefore, "free will" taken literally (as "will that is free") means "the ability to choose has the ability to choose." In other words, it means the will has a will of its own.
Thinking at length about the implications of this, I wondered who invented (or, probably more significantly, popularized) the phrase "free will," and also wondered what phrase we used before that to describe human volition. I don't know; but whoever popularized the phrase long ago, I guessed what they really meant. The key is the meaning of "free," and whoever it was did not have Edwards' definition in mind. They evidently meant "free" as in "free agent": the idea of one's choices being self-determined, uncaused and uninfluenced has been read into the word "free" and attached to the word "will." In other words, the common usage of "free will" is a theologically Arminian construct.
In opposition, Edwards claims that human will, choice, exists but is not self-determining; God's will acts on it. In support of this idea, he states that a man is free but his will is not free. Freedom is a property of a man, not his will. I think this idea is less simple than it sounds, but if one wraps one's mind around it--a man is free but his will is not free--it may loosen any certainty one may feel that man is a free agent, and help one consider with an open mind the Calvinist idea of election.
That's why I found this essay illuminating, once I teased the salient points out of the archaic language and the extensive space given to mere definitions. I was delighted....more
This is probably the most thoughtful and interesting apologetic I've yet read, even better than Is God A Moral Monster, the first apologetic I read byThis is probably the most thoughtful and interesting apologetic I've yet read, even better than Is God A Moral Monster, the first apologetic I read by Paul Copan. It takes many common objections to theism and to Biblical teaching (two different subjects and types of objections) and gives answers with great clarity of thought. I find the chapters answering objections to Biblical teaching more interesting, because I'm already a theist but certainly don't know the answer to every Biblical question.
FYI, the author's theology is very Arminian. A Calvinist reader will find his exposition on original sin (intended to answer objections that original sin is unfair) questionable if plausible and well-stated....more
This was arguably the most disappointing book I've read this year, since I actually bought a copy of this one.
It's almost like two books. It is just uThis was arguably the most disappointing book I've read this year, since I actually bought a copy of this one.
It's almost like two books. It is just under 220 pages before footnotes, and approximately the first 170 pages are mostly a waste of time, focusing on statistical and anecdotal evidence of sexual anarchy in our society; on social and political public bullying tactics used by gay marriage and alternative sexuality advocates; and rather obvious advice to traditional marriage supporters such as "hold steadfast." I read enough news and commentary to have heard it before; that's why I call it a waste of time. The subtitle of the book led me to expect predictions of the ultimate result. They're present in the book but not greatly focused on.
So I was surprised and pleased to find the last two chapters insight and information I hadn't thought of or had no idea of. Such as:
Same-sex marriage is not a new concept. Ancient Jewish rabbinical tradition, existing at the time of Christ and possibly much earlier, claims same-sex marriage existed among the Egyptians and among the Canaanite peoples peoples God commanded the Israelites not to mingle with.
Mainstream gay advocacy groups (the author cites GLAAD) are "working themselves out of a job," making themselves less relevant and "edgy" due to their sheer success in mainstreaming their cause.
There actually has always been a fault line of disagreement between the mainstream groups and more militant, radical homosexual organizations (the author cites ACT UP as one). The radical faction considers groups like GLAAD conservative, and completely disagrees with their goal of convincing the public that gay marriage is no different from heterosexual marriage, instead believing in and emphasizing a complete lack of similarity with heterosexual lifestyles.
The time immediately after the American Revolution was a time of widespread irreligion, immorality, increased crime, and massive shrinkage in church attendance far greater than any decline occurring now. The Second Great Awakening circa 1800 reversed it.
Nevertheless, so much of the book bored me with information I have seen many times before, and already knew well, that I can't recommend it....more
Boring. I foung and bought this at a library book sale. It contains around fifty pages of "jokes" often related to Homer Simpson. Only one joke was fuBoring. I foung and bought this at a library book sale. It contains around fifty pages of "jokes" often related to Homer Simpson. Only one joke was funny: Homer's list of "items that sound like food but aren't," which includes dingleberries; urinal cakes; cow pie; Disco Stu; hemorrhoid donut, and Soupy Sales.
It's going into my trash can. I'm glad it cost only fifty cents. Not recommended....more
This is probably the most interesting book I've read to this point in 2016, but the title does not serve it very well. It should probably have the morThis is probably the most interesting book I've read to this point in 2016, but the title does not serve it very well. It should probably have the more general title "the psychology of unbelief" or perhaps "psychological reasons for unbelief."
It starts out by observing for a number of pages the prevalence and stubbornness of man's refusal to believe in God. Since I already understood that, I found much of roughly the first half of the book relatively boring, and wondered how much I would learn from it.
The book becomes much more interesting and valuable near the end. With extensive discussion of certain philosophers and theologians, many of whom were explicitly and rabidly anti-Christian, the author explains many interesting aspects of man's unbelief, idolatry, and rationalization. One would not expect a Christian theologian to give great attention to the thought of Nietzsche and Sartre (especially Sartre) and notice that some of it contains insights very helpful to an understanding of human unbelief and attitudes toward God; and it indicates R.C. Sproul must be very open-minded in the sense of being willing to learn from anyone....more
This little book, written in the 1980s by some local pastor in Prescott, Arizona, explains the Calvinist doctrine of election (predestination) from aThis little book, written in the 1980s by some local pastor in Prescott, Arizona, explains the Calvinist doctrine of election (predestination) from a very strong Calvinist viewpoint. It's a good source to learn the theology of election from, although any number of Christian sources teach this....more
This is actually one of the better Star Dreck novels. It's a variation of the plots of "The City of the Edge of Forever" and "Yesterday's Enterprise,"This is actually one of the better Star Dreck novels. It's a variation of the plots of "The City of the Edge of Forever" and "Yesterday's Enterprise," e.g, a plot in which someone changes history to destroy the Federation and the Enterprise crew must restore it. It's quite intelligent and philosophical at times. Recommended if you read any Star Dreck novels....more
If you live in Arizona and want to know more about the long-vanished Legend City amusement park that local friends who grew up in the 60s and 70s speaIf you live in Arizona and want to know more about the long-vanished Legend City amusement park that local friends who grew up in the 60s and 70s speak of with nostalgia, this book will tell you everything....more
This is not the only collection of Harry Truman's candid comments on various subjects after he left the presidency, but it's the one I found. That theThis is not the only collection of Harry Truman's candid comments on various subjects after he left the presidency, but it's the one I found. That the book is a quick read reflects well on the accuracy of Truman's legend as a "plain-speaking" man.
The opinions demonstrate that Truman, though candid, is intelligent but not unusually deep, perceptive or observant; not really possessed of any revelatory insights that other observers of his time didn't figure out. Therefore, Truman's opinions are much more valuable for what they teach about Truman himself, whom I am not deeply familiar with other than knowing the widely known information about his presidency.
It will help to be familiar with the presidency and character of Andrew Jackson, because it becomes obvious that Truman's political and social views are absolutely Jacksonian--one could gather that even if the comments hadn't praised Jackson. Besides complaining about "economic royalists," Truman also earnestly insisted on the primacy of the executive branch, and was frankly dismissive of Congress (and had nothing to say about the judiciary). Also dismissive and somewhat contemptuous of past presidents who believed their duty was only to enforce the laws passed by Congress. This is pretty consistent with everything I've ever read or heard about Truman's attitude and behavior as president.
Notably, Truman never indicates any special reverence for his boss Franklin Roosevelt, and doesn't have nearly as much to say about Roosevelt as about Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln.
The book is interesting, but nothing I had to keep; and it's going into the library for-sale bin....more
**spoiler alert** I haven't frequently read Star Dreck novels in many years, but in recent months I've periodically read or reread a few when I was to**spoiler alert** I haven't frequently read Star Dreck novels in many years, but in recent months I've periodically read or reread a few when I was too tired to read anything more challenging, and The Entropy Effect always fascinated me a little.
Partly because it's a temporal chaos story (more than a time travel story); partly because author Vonda McIntyre's characterization of several key characters, especially Spock and Scotty, is so off that she may have been interpreting them as she saw fit rather than feeling obligated to replicate the television series' characterizations. But really, the main reason it's fascinated me, ever since I read it as a child, is the tragedy: a mad scientist murders Kirk in front of the crew, for no apparent reason, with an illegal brain-crushing weapon said to be used only by terrorists....more
**spoiler alert** I read this Star Dreck novel because I didn't feel up to reading anything more challenging. Two reading days wasted. It's definitely**spoiler alert** I read this Star Dreck novel because I didn't feel up to reading anything more challenging. Two reading days wasted. It's definitely not one of the better Star Dreck novels. Besides the writing skill being unimpressive, the plot is a cop-out: the back cover promises that Kirk will deal with his angst over losing the love of his life, but it's largely about his convoluted plan to clean up some temporal damage he accidentally caused while helping Jean-Luc Picard in the movie Star Trek: Generations. The only idea that interested me is a minor plot detail. Many different Star Dreck authors have used the Guardian of Forever, and have all had their particular ideas of what happens to it after the television episodes. This author posits the most interesting idea I've yet seen: the Guardian of Forever is gone, the Klingons having destroyed it because they feared its use as a weapon.
Anyway, the book is going into my recycling bin. Not recommended....more
Even twenty years or more after reading it, I remember that this was a particularly interesting and engrossing Star Dreck novel. Gene DeWeese's Star DEven twenty years or more after reading it, I remember that this was a particularly interesting and engrossing Star Dreck novel. Gene DeWeese's Star Dreck novels usually are. It's about someone using abandoned alien weapons to prevent war through fear on his planet....more
**spoiler alert** This is a book whose premise, and beginning, you need to be Roman Catholic in order to fully appreciate. Since I'm Protestant, I was**spoiler alert** This is a book whose premise, and beginning, you need to be Roman Catholic in order to fully appreciate. Since I'm Protestant, I was befuddled.
In the beginning, the Catholic premise begins after a seemingly irrelevant chapter about a airship designed and flown by a mad scientist. Turnbull, a smug atheist newspaper publisher in London, has apparently published an article insulting the Virgin Mary. MacIan, a militant traditionalist Catholic man from Scotland, reads it and smashes the publisher's window in a rage. He challenges Turnbull to a duel; Turnbull accepts; and after buying swords in an antique shop, they have at it, fully attempting to kill each other. I was unable to sympathize with wanting to murder someone for insulting one's religion.
What happens for about the next two-thirds of the book is almost a screwball comedy: MacIan and Turnbull, who become almost friends, keep going from place to place for their duel because people keep interrupting them and the police keep finding and chasing them.
The story eventually becomes more serious, and takes a bizarre and much more interesting turn. MacIan and Turnbull jump over a wall to evade the latest police pursuit, and eventually find that they have been tricked into entering an inescapable insane asylum that was apparently designed by mysterious and evil people who may or may not be trying to take over England. This section, very much like The Man Who Was Thursday, is so strange and surreal (if definitely less puzzling and difficult) that I need to reread it....more
Not one of the best titles in the old Doctor Who New Adventures series. The plot is actually quite good: an alien invasion in 1957 with a familiar vilNot one of the best titles in the old Doctor Who New Adventures series. The plot is actually quite good: an alien invasion in 1957 with a familiar villain and intricate maneuvering by characters who are not what they seem. The aliens and their technology are fairly interesting.
The problem is that the characterizations are horrible. The Seventh Doctor is characterized as the Third Doctor, the characterization of Benny is too generic to be recognizable, and the villain's personality doesn't match the version of him seen on television. Other New Adventures writers understood the Seventh Doctor and his companions better.
I was sorry I paid a little money for a copy of this book....more
I can't recommend this Star Dreck novel. Its concept, enough to interest me years after I gave up being a Star Dreck fan, is dragged down by relativelI can't recommend this Star Dreck novel. Its concept, enough to interest me years after I gave up being a Star Dreck fan, is dragged down by relatively uninteresting plot events and dialogue and especially by Michael Jan Friedman's lack of depth. He is a horrible writer, even worse than Peter David. His exploration of Romulan characters and politics is somewhat interesting, and he makes good use of two recurring Romulan characters from The Next Generation....more