Sin, Shame, and Self-Compassion

One of my objections to the idea of a personal and loving god is the apparent evil that occurs in the world. This objection is called the problem of evil. How can a loving and all-powerful god stand by and watch as people are subjected to horrific suffering and do nothing about it? How is that morally acceptable or loving?   The reason I object so strongly to any possibility of a loving god is that suffering changes people, and often times, it is not for the better. We know from psychological and neuroscientific studies that when a person undergoes
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Personhood and Personal Identity: A Brief and Limited Introduction

In his article on personal identity , Eric Olson identifies what he calls “the problems of personal identity” in the following questions: Who am I? What is it to be a person? What does it take for a person to persist from one time to another—that is, for the same person to exist at different times? How do we find out who is who? What determines how many of us there are now? What am I? How could I have been? What matters in identity?     Through an exploration of these questions, Olson comes to discuss three approaches to
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The Power and Problem of Placebos, part 2

In the last blog post, I addressed the power of placebo.  There, I talked about how placebo seems to harness the power of the human mind over matter in that attitudes we embrace seem to affect our overall well-being.   But there is an obvious problem with placebos.   Despite the added advantage of positive attitude on long term health, a positive attitude will not make a placebo effective in actually curing any disorder. Placebos simply do not work. In terms of the health care industry and industries that are spin-offs of health care, a scientific understanding of the biological
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The Power and Problem of Placebo

  In Plato’s dialogue, The Phaedrus, Socrates tells the story of Theuth and Thamus. In it, Theuth, the Egyptian god of writing, calls written expression a pharmakon (remedy, drug) that can help aid memory, but King Thamus rejects it since he believes it will only foster forgetting. Here, writing (the graphical representation of ideas) and memory (the cognitive representation of ideas) are discussed in terms of a drug– something can both poison and cure. Writing, when compared with oral transmission of ideas, was considered both an excuse for forgetting and a method of remembering, since ideas may be preserved and
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Christianity and Slavery

Occasionally, Christians like to claim for themselves the fruits of some of their better members. They will, for example, claim that it was Christianity that is to praise for universities, hospitals, charities, and abolition of slavery. And while it is certainly true that there are soft-hearted, philanthropic Christians, make no mistake about it: Christianity does not make people better moral agents. History is truth-bearer of this observation. For every Christian that points out the beginnings of universities, hospitals, charities, or abolition, I could equally point out the Christian roots of the oppression of scientific knowledge, the beginnings of “Holy” wars,
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