The Aesthetic Realm – A Window Into the Divine or a Result of Our Genetic Junk?

Aesthetics involves the study, nature and appreciation of beauty, taste, and art. It asks questions such as: what defines beauty? is beauty objective or subjective? Why do human beings have an aesthetic and creative sense? How is aesthetic value related to moral values and other aspects of one’s worldview such as God, reality, and knowledge?Emanuel Kant, a central figure in the field of modern philosophy, has largely influenced the way our culture today answers these questions and is particularly responsible for shaping the popular belief in culture today that beauty ‘lies in the eye of the beholder.’ This statement implies that our definition of beauty and aesthetics is purely subjective. One can easily see how controversial this claim is, not just in academic circles but in our own lives as well. When discussing ones’ personal opinions or experiences regarding a book, song, work of art or experience in nature (i.e., Trekking through the mountains), we come to realize that it can be difficult to analyse what we consider beautiful using purely intellectual or philosophical viewpoint. These viewpoints can certainly influence the way in which we process our aesthetic experience, but they cannot fully encompass it because judgments of beauty strike an emotional and often spiritual chord within us. They are based on feeling and cannot be proved. However, judgments of beauty also frequently seek to set or imply the existence of objective standards that appeal to the agreement of everyone else. 

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Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?

One of the most common arguments by skeptics against the validity of Christianity surrounds the death and resurrection events of Jesus. If indeed there was evidence that could dismantle the claim that Jesus died on the cross and rose to bodily life three days later, it would dismantle all of Christianity. The Truth of Christianity hinges on these two events, Jesus’s death and his resurrection. In his blog, skeptic Bradley Bowen lays out two arguments against the resurrection of Jesus. He asserts that the evidence for the resurrection fails on two accounts. First, he says, that the evidence for Jesus’s body rising to life is weak. Second, he claims that even if we suppose the resurrection were true, the evidence for Jesus actually dying on the cross is also too weak and insufficient to be able to affirm his bodily resurrection. 

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Why not me?

I’ve never really liked the question “why do bad things happen to good people?”, especially in the context of the suffering I’ve endured. At the time of my cancer diagnosis 11 years ago, a few well-meaning friends and family expressed this sentiment, but it always left me feeling uncomfortable. One thing that never crossed my mind at the time of my cancer diagnosis was the question of “why me…why is this evil happening to me?” When news of my cancer hit, I didn’t have any angry feelings toward God or even question his existence. My initial instinct rather was why not me? It seemed clear in my mind that evil or tragic events like mine were not related in any way to God’s involvement or existence or a perceived lack thereof. As C.S Lewis so brilliantly puts it:

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God’s pulling teeth?

Imagine that a young child has an untreated cavity resulting in a tooth infection which now requires extensive treatment. Now, imagine that the child has always feared dental visits, and that his parents stopped bringing him to the dentist because they didn’t want to go against his will and submit him to the discomfort of dental cleanings. The parents felt this was done in an act of love, believing that honoring their son’s wishes was the ‘good’ thing to do. However, the infection and perhaps even the cavity itself, could have been prevented in part, by those uncomfortable routine dental visits. The child is now suffering serious pain due to the infection but still does not want to go through the pain and discomfort of a dental procedure. The parents are left with a dilemma, do they continue to honor the child’s wish to not be taken to the dentist or do they allow the dentist to intervene and do the necessary, albeit, painful dental work to prevent further damage? 

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The Problem of Evil, Pain & Suffering

How does one go about making the case for the existence of God in spite of the pain, evil & suffering that is ever-present in our world? I wrestle to write a response to this question– not because there is a lack of good philosophical and theological reasons that reconcile God’s existence in spite of the existence of evil - but because of the emotional wounds each of us carry from our own struggles with pain, evil and suffering. These wounds can take the form of intentional moral harm inflicted by others, in the harm brought about by anthropogenic disasters (human caused by accident, negligence or incompetence) or by the deadly events brought about by natural disasters. 

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