Friday, 31 July 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #31

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

It may seem complicated, but break it down, little by little, and read it again slowly. Understand it. And apply it to ... well, ok, I'll apply it to myself.

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Book Review: Sophie's World

Just done with reading Sophie's World.
An unusual way of showing my appreciation for this wonderful book follows.

One word: Excellent!
Two words: Great read!
Three words: Fun and informative.
Four words: You should read it.
Five words: It will broaden your views.
Six words: A little strange ending, I thought.
Seven words: I will be reading more about philosophy.

You can get Sophie's World from err... Amazon or almost any respectable bookshops.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #30

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

And each day!

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Friday, 17 July 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #29

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

How many times have I prayed to God without really expecting Him to answer or accept my prayer? How easily did my prayer become un-genuine with so little faith in Him?
Edwards even refuses to call that a prayer.
Faithless prayer is indeed not a prayer at all. Do I really believe that God is gracious and merciful Father as He revealed through the scriptures? If so, praying without hoping God would listen to my prayer is dishonouring to Him, for I am no longer trusting His words. May God's graciousness and sovereign power be displayed through faith of His people.

"I believe; help my unbelief!"

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Correlation and causality

I didn't realise it from the beginning. I am almost certain that I only became aware of this since last year. But since then, I feel that my thought-process has become much sharper.
What am I talking about?
I'm talking about the fact that the causality and correlation are totally different.
It is one thing to say that A is somehow related to B, and completely another to say that A is the cause of B.

Let's think of an example. Meet Lucy.
Lucy is 6 year old girl, who was the flower girl at her aunty, Julie's wedding, just about a year ago. Since then, Lucy saw Julie only a few times, but each time, Julie's belly was getting bigger and bigger, until just yesterday, when Lucy visited Julie with mum. Lucy was told that Julie gave a birth to a baby boy. Lucy wasn't sure what was happening, but when she saw the little red baby sleeping in the cot, Lucy somehow knew what her mum said about "giving birth".
Having seen a peaceful and cuddly looking baby cousin for the first time in her life, Lucy wished that she would have her own baby one day. And seeing that it all started with Julie getting married about a year ago, Lucy wished that one day she'll get married so she will have a baby, just like this little baby cousin.

Now, pause and think about that last sentence.

What is happening in Lucy's mind here?
Lucy have seen the correlation between Julie's marriage and the baby cousin. There is no doubt about that, and there is no mistake in that.
But Lucy went further and concluded that "getting married" is the cause of "having a baby".
We "grown-ups" know that this conclusion is a mistake. While there is no need to deny the correlation between the marriage and having a baby, it is obvious to us that the marriage does not necessarily result in having a baby. Also, we see many people having a baby without getting married. (Please reserve your moral, ethical, and religious position induced comments here. I'm merely pointing out what I, nay, we all observe today.) So, making a connection, (ie. correlation) between marriage and giving a birth is fine, but to conclude that marriage makes (ie. causality) one to give birth is wrong.

Unfortunately, I see this kind of foggy thinking way too prevalent.
People get confused about correlation and causality all the time, making incorrect judgement of situation and comments. Media people, whom I expect (or, after seeing so much junk, should I say that I just hope? wish?) to have a clear(er) view on this thing don't fare better at all.
Here's just one example of that in the SMH: Dump the toy boy for a lasting union. (Ok, I admit, it's in the Life & Style section, not a fair place for the SMH some may say.)
It tries to convince the reader that their advice is reliable by saying, "The advice comes not from an agony aunt in a women's magazine but from some of the country's top demographers." But all the conclusion they seem to make is purely from statistical data, and statistical data alone, not logical thinking on top of the statistical data. You saw that there was a correlation between a demographical condition to a lasting marriage, but you cannot simply say that you've got to keep that that condition in order to have a lasting marriage. You must first prove that the condition is the cause of the lasting marriage before you can give such advice. And I hope that the readers will look for the logical proof before trusting their advice.

Anyway, I don't know why I wrote this much about that silly "tabloid-like" article. Maybe it was my passion for this understanding about marriage that did it. Or was it my passion for understanding the difference between the correlation and causality? See, figuring out the cause is quite difficult.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #27, #28

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

This reminds me that not doing the right thing is pretty much the same as doing a wrong thing. The only difference is whether you did the wrong thing actively, or passively. They both are evil.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

Steadily, constantly, and frequently. Ok. Simple. Gotta do this. Do I want to do this? If I have seen and tasted that the Lord is good, why don't I desire to know Him more and more through His Word?

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Are you a patriot?

Can a Christian be patriotic? I think so. But how much can a Christian love his earthly country, when he ultimately belongs to the Kingdom of Heaven? And in what way should a Christian love his earthly country?

Ray Ortlund gives a good example, as an American Christian.