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Thread: Here is myself in a box

  1. #1 Here is myself in a box 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    I already introduced myself quite thoroughly in a thread in the religion section entitled "Why this and not that", so I thought reposting it here with a small addition would be appropriate.

    In a moment I am going to put myself in an elaborate box. I have no fear of doing so, because by doing so I identify connections that I have with other people. It is like the personality game called astrology. I call myself a Gemini and it means I look at myself in that mirror and see a little bit of myself. But of course, to know that I am a Gemini, hardly means that you know me, does it? Yet it is nice to reach accross the chasm of our separate selves and see connections and relationships, a web of lines connecting humanity. But it would be a shame if you see walls and barriers instead and think that you really have me in that elaborate box which I will give you.

    What I am is partly what I have been for looking at what I am now you really cannot understand me unless you peel back the layers and also look at what I have been.

    I have recently, as a result of participation in christianforums.com come to see myself as an orthodox theistic evolutionist as well as an orthodox open theist. I reject 4 of the 5 points of Calvinism, and the only exception is "perseverence of the saints", which along with the doctrine of assurance of salvation, I only except with reservation and careful explanation. I attend an evangelical fundamentalist church of the Calvary Chapel group out of California, but I fail to be a fundamentalist myself because I do not abide by Sola Scriptura.

    For a longer period of time I have called myself a minimalist anti-gnostic born again Christian. Born again Christian means that I have asked Jesus into my life, asking him to take up the shreds of integrity and goodness, that were left of living my life my own way, and to save me and transform me. And so I placed my salvation in the hands of God. I am anti-gnostic because I do not believe that any knowledge or belief can save a person any more than works. Too many Christians think that they are saved by their belief in Jesus, under impression that they have what it takes to hold God to a promise they see in the Bible. I see this as an expression of Gnosticism. I am minimalist because although I love, respect and study the Bible, I do not pretend that I really know what it means. Minimalist means that although I have many opinions, I hesitate to call them knowlege and I certainly put no faith in them for my salvation.

    But that is only one facet of what I am. For I am also a student and teacher of physics. I am an avid student of all the sciences with a love for philosophy as well. I have a masters in physics, have my name on a couple of publications and I am acquainted with the process of scientific research. I am also a long time reader of science fiction and fantasy, and there are many stories dear to my heart that affected me deeply. I not only love stories, I believe in them. They have great power. They often see beneath the surface of reality to see deeper truths in symbolic terms. I also have a passion for board and card games and as a parent I believe in their educational value. My favorite is an oriental strategy game called Go.

    Now let us peel back a layer. I was a member and missionary for the Unification Church for 10 years. This is the Holy Spirit Association of World Christianity or whatever Reverend Moon is calling his organization these days. I was a moonie. I was wed in a ceremony of 1275 couples in 1989. I have renouced this membership in favor of traditional christianity but I am married to the thing, because my wife is still a member. Despite my renunciation, the logical struture and language of what they taught me and what I experienced are still there beneath the surface. I now believe their is a wide gap between what I was taught and what Rev. Moon teaches, because of the way some of it was adapted to be more appealing to people of the West. It makes me wonder if I ever was truly a moonie at all. Some of what I am is also a reaction to what they are. I see the terrible danger of people who believe they are responsible for saving the world.

    A important turning point in the moonie experience was three years at the Unification Theological Seminary whose faculty was from many different faiths even though all the students were moonies. While I was there I was influenced by ideas from many sources, the most important ones I liked were Aristotle, Pragmatism (Charles Sanders Pierce), Scott Peck, Carl Rogers, the Quakers and Hassidism. Some also influenced me by my rejection of their ideas such as Plato, Alfred North Whitehead, Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), St. Augustine, Marx and Lenin. My master's thesis was a study of the metaphysical implications of contemporary physics. It has become the foundation of a philosophy of my own making, which sees the nature of living things as a process that can be described by the mathematics of chaotic dynamics. The same process is the essence of human consciousness and free will derives from an interaction of quantum indeterminacy and chaotic dynamics that can only be described by a very different type of causality (in the tradition of Aristotle's four types of causality) which I call self-causality.

    Peel back another layer. I was profoundly influenced by existentialism taught in high school; in particular Albert Camus' "The Stranger". Later this lead me to become a kind of theistic existentialist founding my life on the faith that all experiences in life were to be treasured and that my belief in God was equivalent to the faith that life was worth living, because all of life's experiences were a gift from God. I had already asked Jesus into my life when I was in high school but I was completely ignorant of what this meant and it had minimal impact on my thinking for a long time, except for a rarely practiced love of the Bible. But I would listen to whatever any missionaries had to say when they showed up on my doorstep or met me on campus. Science Fiction and fantasy had some of its greatest impact on me durring this time as well. In particular, I sometimes called "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" a great work in existentialist literature and my second bible.

    The only thing beneath this is a choice I made as a child that life was only worth living if there was something beneath apparent material reality around me. After this I found in myself an ambition to discover the secrets (truths) of the universe, and a faith that I could discover them for myself with the help of both imagination and reason. My parents were extreme liberals (and Psychology majors). My father was a Deistic agnostic and a Mao flavored Marxist. My mother was a dabbler in astrology and numerology and bit alergic to organized religion. The point is that I was in no way predisposed to christianity or even a belief in god. Although I took my fathers agnosticism as a challenge to answer, for myself, the question for which he had no answer.


    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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  3. #2 Re: Here is myself in a box 
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I also have a passion for board and card games and as a parent I believe in their educational value. My favorite is an oriental strategy game called Go.
    I love games Especially card games are very popular in the Netherlands. Maybe we could play a game of chess online sometime I've also bought a Go set a while ago, but I just don't know how to play this game. I understand most of the rules, but just don't really see how the game works.

    But yea I agree that board and card games can be of educational value. Especially a game as Civilization (or Freeciv, the opensource version) has helped me a lot to learn planning and longterm strategic thinking. And chess is a great challenge of the mind.


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