October 22nd, 2013 by Arthur Khachatryan
For millennia human beings have looked up at the sky in amazement, wondering what it must feel like to soar through the air like birds. We’ve marveled at this incredible feature of the natural world. The dawn of modern science allowed for better examination of these magnificent creatures, and finally that curiosity turned into an actuality in the early part of the 20th century, as human flight through the aid of machines was finally achieved in the form of one of the greatest engineering feats of human history. Flight, the Genius of Birds (henceforth simply “Flight“) takes the viewer on a journey into the nature of flight, specifically that of the natural world, and provides insight into the various dynamic cooperative systems that must all be working in unison to allow for such an amazing feature as flight. It is a truly enlightening film that is bound to tickle the curiosity of any thoughtful and open-minded person.
Since the first airplanes greater engineering refinements would take place – faster, more agile and more aerodynamic planes, better instrumentation. And all along one interesting and odd fact has remained – the more we learn about birds, the better we are able to engineer our aircraft. It is no wonder that the poet William Blake referred to birds in flight as “a portion of genius.” Flight offers a compelling display of evidence of design in the natural world, and it is, therefore, no surprise that the brilliant engineering of this kind should be borrowed by other engineers who would try to achieve the same end. …continue reading »
March 8th, 2013 by Arthur Khachatryan
True atheists have an undying unbridled commitment to philosophical naturalism, and usually also to its fraternal twin, philosophical materialism. Though there is a distinction between the two, the commitment to one typically (not always) implies the commitment to the other. Despite any lip service paid to understanding truth and erecting the pretense of vying for the proper understanding of reality, the one overarching modus operandi of the true atheist is to first adopt and cherish philosophical materialism – the position that physical objects are the only things that truly exist. Materialism is the golden child that can do no wrong. It is loved despite its wanton ignorance, temper tantrums, and outright rebellion against the human condition. It is the first option, and only option, for fervent evangelists of atheism; yes, atheists have evangelists too. What these people try to convince others of, is that material reality is the only reality, and therefore, at its core all of material reality is eternal, self-existent, self-sufficient, meaningless, purposeless blunt brute trauma. …continue reading »
December 24th, 2012 by Arthur Khachatryan
Adoration of the Shepherds (oil on canvas) by Guido Reni (1575–1642)
One of the reasons that the Bible is thought by so many to be the inspired word of God is because it has writings which predict events far future from the dates of those writings. Through linguistics, archaeology and general historical analysis of various kinds, we can determine the approximate dates (sometimes very precise dates) of certain Old Testament (OT) writings, and we can clearly see the writings to have taken place long before the events they predict. To then be confronted by writings which predict things hundreds of years into the future is quite extraordinary. As they pertain to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the writings of the OT demonstrate the amazing quality and accuracy.
The OT writings, which were also canonized as the inspired word of God, contain many predictions of events to come. The main focus of these predictions rests on one central figure – the Messiah, the coming Savior. Judaism expected and continues to expect a future Messiah. However, those closest to Jesus, who became the earliest Christians, did at one point or another see the fulfillment of these prophecies in Jesus of Nazareth. The prophecies written centuries before were being fulfilled in their presence, and though they mostly recognized them in hindsight because of their otherwise inaccurate expectations of what the Messiah would accomplish, the fulfillment of the multitudes of OT prophecies were nonetheless quite staggering. So what were some of these predictions about the Messiah that they found compelling reasons to identify Jesus as that foretold Messiah? There are far more than we can look at. For this specific piece let’s look at some of the ones that pertain to his birth, the celebration that we’ve come to know as Christmas. …continue reading »
November 23rd, 2012 by Arthur Khachatryan
The first ever unofficial Thanksgiving is known to have taken place in 1621, as the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast and thanked God for their bountiful blessings. The years that would follow saw many such feasts of gratitude and celebration in the colonies at different times and locations by various groups. But it was not until Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation that Thanksgiving became an official holiday celebrated at the same time by everyone in the United States. …continue reading »
September 10th, 2012 by Arthur Khachatryan
On September 11, 2001, seemingly out of nowhere (at least to the majority of people) an incredibly organized group of terrorists orchestrated the murder of thousands of Americans. As the horrific images danced in the heads of the watching world, with even a more fervent pace, came some profound questions. Who were these people? Why were they flying their planes into buildings? What was this all about? Among people who engage in discussions about the conflicts in the Middle East there are various perspectives on the source of tension, the reasons for violence, and just why the hostility keeps inflamed. But now, the hostility had moved into the Americas. Depending on the particular perspective, asking some of these important questions, is bound to provide us with just as many variations in answers. Ask a sociologist you’ll get one type of answer. Ask a psychiatrist, you’ll get something different. Ask a philosopher, you’re bound to get something completely different. But perhaps the most important people to help us make sense of all of this are people who are intimately involved with and have a full perspective of the history of the people occupying the Middle East. Since we are well within the land of the Bible, the biblical perspective could offer us a fairly comprehensive understanding of the continued conflict. …continue reading »
August 6th, 2012 by Arthur Khachatryan
People often say with some level of dejection that life is not fair. But who promised that it would be? Who promised a paradise free from pain? Who promised that there would be justice? If we are to compact the totality of what’s real to the world readily available, then life is definitely not fair. Everyone aches. Evil men appear to prosper. Good people die young. Many people suffer without any apparent reason. Some are tormented their entire lives by pain sufficient for two or three lives. Children are butchered before taking one legitimate breath of the fresh air of this wickedly beautiful world. People are tortured, burned alive for merely holding certain harmless views. We all die, often rebel against death with utmost defiance until that final breath. Misery is the fairest thing about this world. And if the story were to end here, it would be a misery beyond all hope, beyond all purpose and meaning. …continue reading »
July 29th, 2012 by Arthur Khachatryan
Figure 1 – Ptolemy’s Model of the Solar System. (from: Peter Apian, Cosmographia, 1539. Reprinted in Alexandre Koyre, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe, Baltimore, Johns Jopkins, 1957)
It may seem peculiar that ‘church’ and ‘science’ appear the way they do in the title of this piece, but what has happened in the modern era of appealing to science as a sort of a god, warrants nothing less. Science is the pursuit of knowledge, but today we generally use the term in a more rigid way – as that area of study which systematically explains the physical world. But the question that should quickly follow should be this: is the physical world all there is to be known of reality? And this is precisely where the modern use of science begins to shake under the weight of proper epistemology.
Science is a worthwhile pursuit. It helps us get a better understanding of the physical world, helps heal the sick and hurting, and often helps improve our lives. But our modern culture has absolutely fallen in love with empiricism. People today have very little use of anything other than what they can see, hear, touch, taste of feel. And, this is precisely why science as the revealer of the physical world has led many to think that it is the absolute authority over all other matters of thought. …continue reading »
July 3rd, 2012 by Arthur Khachatryan
A Secular Look
There’s no doubt, one of today’s most polarising issues is abortion. The two sides of the abortion issue have never been further apart. While the folks on the one side of the issue keep pressing for personal liberty at all cost and blame religion for attempting to trample on those freedoms, the folks on the other side stare blindly at the radicalization of the self over against what appears to be an intuitively basic knowledge that life is to be protected. Many in this camp will say that we can know that abortion is wrong simply through our intuition, and while this may ultimately be true, it does no work in resolving the issue as a matter of an objective moral law or public policy because it is unable to bridge the gap between the two sides.
Now, it should first be noted that the issue of whether or not abortion is morally permissible is not necessarily a religious one. Though there are obvious religious insights that can help us navigate the difficult issue, we can actually arrive at a logically sound conclusion about what side of the argument is more valid by simply examining the issue in some depth without the aid of religion. So, it is especially fruitful to find arguments based on the common shared experience of simply being human and thinking logically within a moral landscape.
So then, which position is more valid and why? Should personal choice triumph? Should life be spared at all cost? When is it permissible to end a human life? If I may put it more bluntly, when is it permissible to kill a human being? …continue reading »
May 30th, 2012 by Arthur Khachatryan
The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaA) of the Dead Sea Scrolls (copied c. 125 B.C.)
The Old Testament (OT) consists of a combination of writings spanning thousands of years of Jewish history. The Old Testament writings depict Jewish customs and theology that are consistent with what we know to be true. Obviously, as the self-ascribed Word of God, those writings have religious subject matter. Oddly enough, however, those religious topics are entrenched within a historical background in incredible detail, as if people were actually witnessing these events at the times and in proximity of their writings. It puts itself out there to be historically tested, which is something that not all religions can say. It also allows us to get some insight into whether or not these writings can be trusted. …continue reading »
May 23rd, 2012 by Arthur Khachatryan
New Testament Manuscript P66
One of the most popular sentiments of the day is that the Bible cannot be trusted. The reason often cited is that it is claimed that the biblical text was copied over and over and pieces were added onto it, and other portions removed to suit the theological inclinations of the specific generation or individual scribes. And once that charge against the Bible is moved along, another popular one quickly follows, namely that the Bible, especially the New Testament, was written so much later after the events that it purports to have occurred, that we really can’t trust the content matter supposedly because the writers were utilizing their memory to tell us what happened generations ago.
But is this really the case? Has the text of the Bible been dramatically changed? Was the Bible written generations after the events it is depicting?
We need to look at the transmission of the text, and the manner and shape in which the text gets to us. We look at the time gap between the events and the writings. We try to determine if there was anything special about the way the writings were preserved, and how reliable the written copies are. …continue reading »