2018, TV Year In Review

It’s already too late for a 2018 retrospective, it’s 2019! So for purely archival purposes I’ve included a brief summary of my year in movies and TV.

TV Released This Year:

It was the year of the miniseries and so many of them were great!

Godless brought the western to the small screen, an epic about Men and Women, Absence and Civilization, the Cold Wilderness and the Warm Home. Just capitalize some great western nouns and they become thematics, very rich textual stuff here.

Little Drummer Girl was legit spy cinema. Something mature and dangerous and human. The workmanlike Jack Ryan can only wish to be this show and unequivocally falls short of a tenth of what Drummer Girl accomplishes.

Some solid seasons. Atlanta got experimental with every episode. Westworld carried on with its very literal exploration of self and consciousness with enough time to tell a touching small insulated story about a robot native american father’s spiritual and literal journey.  I have no idea what Barry will do in season 2 because in season 1 they told such a story of consequence and choice, none of that The Americans’ style humming and hawing. The immediate, shocking assassin violence benefits greatly from the classic look, the heavy hitting cinematography that polishes, scrubs any missteps from your memory of the show.

Maniac, Sharp Objects and Homecoming all deal with trauma. There’s a lot of space between the shows in tone, genre, content and perspective. From a fun and friendly big swing indie multigenre piece (Maniac) to a confrontational, dark and triggering murder mystery social horror show (Sharp Objects) to a formalistic, simpler than it seems Stranger Things upgrade (or downgrade depending on your take!) that takes place for the most part in a series of sit down conversations (surprising podcast to TV adaption Homecoming).

New Girl’s capper season is mostly on this list for nostalgic reasons, it was just nice to see Nick and Jess and Winston and Schmidt and Cece again.

American Vandal (RIP!) continued teaching us lessons about the modern world. It’s hard to explain but once season 1 hooks you, season 2 really hits you in the gut. These aren’t comedies imo and my default mode to watch things on their face without reading the goof first really helps with American Vandal. These are “fake docs” first and I wish the form caught on. Ostensibly regular people that subvert, falter and confuse all in the service of some greater truth, reminds me of detective fiction.

Hearty Recommendations: 

  • Godless (Netflix)
  • Little Drummer Girl (Amazon Instant)
  • Barry season 1 (HBO Now)
  • Atlanta, Robbin’ Season (2) (Amazon Instant)
  • New Girl season 7 (Hulu)
  • Westworld season 2 (HBO Now)
  • Sharp Objects (HBO Now)
  • American Vandal season 2 (Netflix)
  • Maniac (Netflix)
  • Homecoming (Amazon Prime)

Truly Terrible:

  • Titans season 1 (DC Universe) – please don’t see this, someone throw this show into the sun
  • Ozark (Netflix) – wrongheaded, mean, for every ounce it wishes it was Justified it comes off insulting and dead eyed. Potentially evil in its irredeemable embrace of bare minimum prestige TV Bad Man Tropes. The Jason Bateman of tv shows, just the worst

Down the Middle:




  • Jack Ryan season 1 (Amazon Prime) – ehh, one good chase at the end. Doesn’t understand the character at all.
  • The Bodyguard (Netflix) – better than Jack Ryan, down the middle conflicted heroism stuff
  • Collateral season 1(Netflix) – Jack Ryan levels of obvious message work being done on screen but without the action. Work to watch despite the absolutely charming and charismatic Carey Mulligan who is great TV Police and squandered here!
  • McMafia season 1 (Amazon Instant) – the reason I like this show is a banker guy hits a button to transfer dollars and then there is a montage of that money getting to work, putting on flesh, becoming dock workers, gangsters, street operators, bribes- all over the world. More of that in season 2 please.
  • Silicon Valley season 5 (HBO Now) – fine, but the same as all the other seasons
  • Succession season 1 (HBO Now) – one part Aaron Sorkin and one part Adam McKay without all the preachy rain clouds over their work. A family drama first, a parable second. Wicked funny if you’re willing to watch these princes suffer.

TV Not Released This Year:

  • One Punch Man season 1 (Netflix) – a must watch for anyone who has ever seen any anime. I… don’t like anime anymore. Not since I was in 4th grade watching fan subs of Naruto as it released broadcast in japan. A phase that’s been closed for sure since middle school almost two decades ago now. Also Fullmetal Alchemist, Onepiece, Deathnote, Dragonballz (I didn’t really watch that one), all of these mainstream pieces of animation history are good prereq knowledge for One Punch, any level of genre knowledge is welcome, the show both lampoons and embraces the genre elements. High Quality! Short! is there anything else you could possibly want from an anime other than this kind of self awareness.
  • Comrade Detective season 1 (Amazon Prime) – a complicated pleasure that weirdly works on its face as a procedural detective show. Too many layers of irony to *really* work but some deep belly laughs here that I can’t imagine anyone else but me enjoying. For example, the commie cops go to the dissident capitalists in prison to get an explanation of this new kind of game-propaganda “MO-NO-POLY” which of course is just the board game Monopoly.
  • You’re the Worst season 4 (Amazon Instant) – I don’t know why I watch this show. They’ve done so much terrible stuff at this point, what the chief creative is going for other than as a canvas for wrongheaded, too mean social observation- I don’t know.



TV I Didn’t Get To/Finish:

  • Killing Eve season 1 (Amazon Instant)  – very good but ran out of gas, I only have one or two episodes left and I really should
  • Cloak and Dagger season 1 (Amazon Instant) – ditto Killing Eve
  • Trust season 1 (Amazon Instant) – great first couple episodes, Brendan Fraser is back baby! in a big hat! Rome! a kidnapping! rich family with extended and interesting class and culture gradation! I just didn’t stick with it but now that I think about it I should get back.
  • Legion season 2 (Amazon Instant) – a bit much, feels like homework now that I think about it. Homework in the way that a stack of comics can feel like homework when you know what it’s going to be like and you’re less than thrilled about the prospect. It might take a couple vacation days to actually conquer this one but like a stack of comics, I’m looking forward to it.
  • The Americans season 5 and 6 (Amazon Instant) – this one just… it takes time, seasons 1-4 took time and I think we all know how this one ends because we’re alive in 2019 but still
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Comic Book Round Up

Image result for bendis cover

The Bendis deluge: Brian Michael Bendis is one of the most popular comic book writers going, DC paid him the big bucks to step away from creating and shepherding new characters at Marvel to come revitalize Superman.

Part of that deal- on top of Action Comics and Superman (which are two distinct comic books that feature superman, one as more Clark and the other as more Cosmic Kryptonian), a special walmart trade paperback project and a Man of Steel miniseries that kicked off his time with DC- were two new independent books Cover, a spy series about a comic book creator (but not as masturbatory as that sounds) and Pearl, a yakuza tattoo artist thriller. Both above, both gorgeous collaborations that I recommend.

If you’re counting, that’s 4 ongoing books that are all worth your time plus two trade paperbacks to go run down- Man of Steel is going to be easy to find, the Walmart stuff, I don’t know anyone who has had luck getting what they want consistently and it will all be eventually collected when that special deal is done.

But most people don’t read comics, they just don’t! People who read comics don’t even read comics! So if I’m going to recommend one thing, it’s Cover #1. Go to a comic book shop and get as many consecutive issues as you want but I guarantee the #1 will hook  you. The reason Cover takes the bacon is that it’s relatable to any business traveler. I just made it sound hugely boring, just the most boring. Wow have you taken an airplane to a conference, well I have THE BOOK FOR YOU. No what I mean is, the way that business connections are made, the kind of easy trust that comes from mutual benefit, dinners, being known for one thing that you can provide for a market. All of that can be a bit isolating, a bit boring, it’s a job. The key in cover is that the central comic artist gets offered a little bit of excitement, it sneaks up on him and I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes him.

Bendis has other ongoing books, a mobster book United States VS. Murder, Inc. which is a crime fiction alternate history I’m not up on. Scarlet, which is a kind of activist crime book that I’ve just barely started, the earlier trade paperback that serves as preface for the ongoing has such a strong first couple issues that I keep promising myself to get caught up.

Image result for bendis man of steelImage result for bendis action comics 1000

THE BIG LIMITED SERIES EVERYONE IS READING: Doomsday Clock and Heroes in Crisis will probably be better as collected stories, delays on top of already slow release schedules make the books painstaking to keep up with.

Image result for doomsday clock comic bookImage result for heroes in crisis

Doomsday Clock is more frustrating in this way than Heroes. Tom King’s excellent collaborators ship on time and Doomsday smells like a conflicted writer not a production pipeline issue. The longer Doomsday Clock goes, we are more than halfway done now, the more the excellent DC Universe Rebirth Issue that initially revealed Doctor Manhattan seems more like an anomaly, an urtext of the symbolic reactionary goals of the new universe that never quite gets the fleshing out that it deserves. As a single issue I can absolutely rec DC Universe Rebirth in the context of the linked article to understand comics more broadly if you’re not a regular reader or even if you are and hadn’t considered it that way.

This kinda meta, heart and soul, creation and aims thing is what’s interesting to me, not seeing the Watchmen characters again. These characters, who have clearly had their definitive stories already told, were never suited to ongoing evaluation. Watchmen is The Text as far as 101 classes on comics go. It’s the “literature” that people who don’t respect comics find some reason to respect. It doesn’t get better than that but I guess I’ll love them forever if somehow Doomsday Clock twists in the last couple issues here to match both Rebirth and Watchmen… but that’s doubtful. Things could really go wrong! Spending plotty time on new characters was a choice and certainly a nice bit of IP for future development but I’m not sure it was necessary.

The limited series that’s getting collected soon, you should be anticipating the hardcover for Mister Miracle:

Mister Miracle (B&N Exclusive Edition)

There’s not an easy way to describe Mister Miracle… maybe that it’s a kind of depressive Mumblecore Sci Fi book with just enough space kings and queens, traded babies and fates of the realm for a John Carter ass pulpy good time. Gods of The Fourth World actually, Aliens, whatever. It’s a bit much but the contrast between the mundane and the Too Much is really what makes the book. The birthing issue is very beautifully done and one of the more touching moments in comic book history.

The Ongoing Dilemma: Comic books that come out issue to issue have an interesting challenge, how do you tell a compelling serial story over many issues without losing that zip, snap and crackle that makes a single issue a fun worthwhile buy and read on its own.

This disjointed nature of issue to issue reading, heavy readers will know better than a casual reader, and they will know it is to their detriment. The mental burden of keeping dozens of storylines straight, the ones you care about you may revisit, the big ticket Mister Miracles etc you keep in the front of your mind but not like Nightwing #24 or the dozens of interchangeable Mark Waid Champions issues that never clear a quality bar that keeps them with you. All the same, you keep reading for some reason. A heavy pull list means you forget what happened in the last issue if you don’t have multiple ready to read in sequence.

There’s no way to rectify this other than to re read an entire run as a single unit. This is why rebuying is such an industry mainstay, a successful ongoing gets collected into a hardcover and people buy again because they want to read it as a continuous finished work. There’s a different flavor, storage is easier but the downside to only reading this way is who is patient enough to not read single issues?! Most people, it turns out and definitely most *normal* people. Ms Marvel for example continues to do numbers 10x in collected what its ongoing single issue sales are. They’re just different markets, like the difference between book publishing and magazine publishing.

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Comic Recap: Kill or Be Killed #19


No Spoilers Below

We are one issue away from the Kill or Be Killed finale. It has been a ride. In many ways this issue is a culmination of all that has narratively come before. This series has dealt with a number of different metaphorical and literal shackles. Like the cover of the issue, the straight jacket has come off. Socially, morally, kinetically and at varying times literally, an unchained issue of KoBK.

When it comes to literally being chained and detained, Brubaker shows he is excellent at tightening and loosening a situation. Who is in charge of an interrogation, who has something to prove and then undercutting that when it serves him. You think it’s going to be all right and then BAM it goes horribly wrong. It’s happened before for Dylan our main character, getting into binds and taking desperate actions that lead to bloody stumps and crime scenes.

Tonally he’s got the juice but you knew that, Brubaker has one long catalog. What I think is new in this series in particular is the action sensibility. There’s mystery and specific character in his Criminal series. He’s handled noir. It’s just the gunfights here, the geography is so clear and how he weaves them into and out of the flashback architecture in the history of the run, so good.

As we’ve caught up to the flashback narration, an opportunity to give us something divergent here. Not to spoil anything but this issue is divergent from the comfort and bewilderment of starting in medias res or Dylan’s stalking, planning narration. It’s immediate and fresh.

Culmination, pressure, tone and execution, what else is there? Well there’s at least one or two mysteries remaining for the final issue.

Straight up plot like this is also a departure from Brubaker’s wandering portraiture mode. We’ve seen how a strangely, uncomfortably relatable young man deals with a mental health crisis, a flagging graduate education, a complicated relationship’s highs and lows, social decay, a casual drug habit and Russian invaders. With only a small small difference from the reality of the worldview that he is depicting.

It’s that small supernaturalist push that the character encounters all the way back at the first issue, noticeably completely absent from this issue. What he thought he saw as a demon might have gotten him rolling but we’re at full culpability stage now.

Anyway, an excellent book that I look forward to finishing. In anyone else’s hands I wouldn’t have trusted this subject matter as anything other than a poor taste edgelord grab. Brubaker’s crime background and sensibility really softened the anti social elements by giving other, better thrills than transgression. He’s painted something special in the vigilante killer genre. Well, Sean Phillips does the painting. This pairing reconfirming themselves yet again as a winning combo.

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Comics Recap: Legion #2-5

Legion is… an experiment. I’m guessing the popular FX show had something to do with bringing back this character with truly the worst Slim Jim mascot hair of all time.

slim jimIf you want to catch whatever good there is to mine here, go read #1 and then read #5.

Truly, the half baked subconscious journey, alternate persons inside of David and David trying to explain himself to strangers IRL in a hospital plots of #2,3, and 4 are the stuff of disposable comic book history. Really not good.

Issue 1 sees David’s powers running wild and warping reality. Issue 5 sees David’s new celebrity therapist doing some wild self therapy of her own and confronting a giant mutilated baby doll inside of David’s mind. The twist is that the Baby Doll is from HER MIND! Her past is COMPLICATED! It’s really a completely different story, all told in one issue and it’s the best that they could do to salvage the nothingness that ended up being David. The doll art is something else but nothing to go buy an issue for. It speaks to how maudlin the issues are after #1. If you’re going to go to an unconstructed dream space, you might as well fill it with something interesting and they never do. Some blue golems? really.

Then there’s the other issue of how psychotherapy is depicted. Multiple personality disorders and mental illness just point blank do not work like this. There’s not a therapist in the world who would look at psychically realized abstract dreamscapes that can cause actual harm and see anything beyond the loosest metaphorical application of their training. It doesn’t help when they have the therapist do just this meta out of my depth thing in the comic while still implying that it’s all sort of the same.

Obviously, it’s a comic, it doesn’t work like this in real life and there is nothing wrong with fiction and extended metaphors. Just look at Inception for this done well. It’s just not done well here and what little we have is trite and not fun.

If you look at something like Inside Out that has a fairly simple metaphor that teaches a fairly simple lesson: sadness has purpose, it’s ok to be sad, embrace sadness honestly with people who care about you. What you find in Inside Out is that the metaphor barely works! These things are always going to be thin, but they pad out the film with entertaining sequences and little playgrounds that work on their own.

Last big criticism, mixing the inside and outside worlds, cutting back and forth between them is bad. It’s all shoe leather. David punches a kind of nega-David in the face at the hospital. Why isn’t that fun?

If you are looking for something imaginative I suggest going back to the recent Doctor Strange Sorcerers Supreme book that was trying wild artistic things every issue.

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Comic Recap: Batman #48

batman 48

Is Batman #48 Tom King’s darkest comic?

Coming off the DC Nation Issue #0, the Joker’s nihilistically perverse will-he-or-won’t-he killing of a poor random man in his home. Coming off the painfully deconstructionist, worst case scenario Booster Gold The Gift arc on the main batman book. A book that is already so filled with suicide and death (the whole I Am Suicide arc just… it’s right there in the name).

You would think MAYBE he’d lighten things up. There’s a wedding coming up!

The Cat and Bat back and forth has been one of the little contrasting joys. Check out the Annual #2 where they live long and happy together, surrounded at their end by the people they love and raised together.

(Also the Rooftops mini arc is waiting for you if you want to get caught up on/relive the decades of in canon romance)

That this happy ending story plays out in the Annual does not bode well for the canon events that are to come. It seems, the worst has already started in #48.

There are a couple moments that break the comic a little bit. The Joker talking about Augustine??? But they can be forgiven, Tom is talking to us in some ways through the comic and doing all that writely stuff that writers do. Giving us just a little bit more, something new and something stranger than what’s come before though definitely, definitely as dark.

King’s Joker made more sense in his previous defining boundary push, The War of Jokes and Riddles. The Joker abstains, he’s restrained, he’s not laughing and not killing and it’s like a candle has gone out. The Riddler we learn is trying to relight that candle. What’s the joke that makes this guy laugh, what’s his character germ, what will get him going again. There’s a lot of horror in that little run, a lot of terrible stuff that echo Tom King’s other work with the topic of War.

In those final issues, Riddler fails to feed his devil but the devil finally laughs. It’s not the Kite man thing that makes Joker laugh, it’s not the lengths that the Riddler goes to that moves him. The Joker is wilder, worse and even those surreptitious events aren’t quite as random as his chaotic soul.

It’s that Riddler’s quest itself, the perversity of it makes Batman understand that in war someone does deserve to die and it’s 100% Riddler who poisoned a kid to make his big Kite Man joke work. Batman breaks his rule, tries to kill Riddler and the worst man in the world stops him. That their roles, however momentarily are reversed and some semblance of equality is attained. That even within the worst there is this potential for a single “good” restraining act and in the best most self controlled, the potential to lose control (although for a right/just reason).

This is all very interesting and I picked up on what King was trying to do with Joker. He’s random! He kills indiscriminately! He’s the devil or worse because he cannot be predicted!

But reiterating it seems a bit much. At least now with #48 and DC Nation #0, I have the clearest textual examples of this randomness and malice punctuated by moments of nonsense and weird moral clarity. The moral clarity bit is something I understand intellectually, if something is truly random, a broken clock may eventually tell the right time or whatever. It’s just not exactly satisfying and like I said earlier risks breaking the character.

#49 and however long this arc goes promises to at least resolve something with the Joker. All I can ask for at this point is for these no-win situations to end. The least interesting thing to me in the world is watching Batman show up late to a massacre AGAIN which has happened multiple times at this point and like I’ve said, more interestingly in Jokes and Riddles.

It doesn’t help that the massacre in #48 is in a church and the victims are black, giving it a timeliness that is more unsettling than King’s use of 9/11 imagery which he has more of a personal history with. I can definitely see how this could be seen as exploitative. Where the 9/11 pull all the way back in his first issue shows that Batman’s world is actually better in a way than ours because Batman sacrifices himself to stop that possible Gotham 9/11, this just feels… wrong. It feels wrong to do the bad thing we have actually seen in our actual human lives again on the page. I get what he’s saying with this issue and I get the character but the question becomes… how much of this do we really need?

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A Prompt From The NYT

The New York Times is hiring young writers. I applied. The email I sent is below. From what I can remember (I probably should have reread it) I come off as the oldest old man that a 24 year old could possibly be.

My name is Matthew Heimiller and I’ve lived most of my life in Wauwatosa, West Allis and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I love where I’m from.

You asked, “What’s your biggest pet peeve about the way that people write about your generation?” and it’s got to be the flattening that happens. Sociological generalizations, polls and observation are one thing. Bringing that mode to individuals is a wrecking ball, even morally wrong in my opinion.

Like a lot of young people, my story is about education. In an overwhelmingly Catholic and Lutheran city, life took me to an evangelical high school where I led our robotics team to an international playoff. After this I went to the only local college that offered software engineering, one of two in the state.

Like a lot of young people, I don’t have a completed college education. 60% of us go and 40% make it to graduation. There was no money or cosigner for a second year of engineering. In the next three years I made pretty good money extending and extending my term as a software intern. This would only cement the regret I would feel about the earnings I would lose.

All that time working while falling 4 credits shy of graduation at the local state school. I wish I could have stayed in software.

Just 4 credits I can’t muster, a third consecutive unit of a foreign language, that is what’s keeping my generic Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies credential from me. It feels arbitrary, like a lot of that roughed up 20% of us, us drop outs, I feel cheated. In my heart I know I’m a double failure. They didn’t take my money, I gave it to them. They didn’t fail me, I failed to learn all the conjugations of hic, haec, hoc and that was the semester before it even mattered for graduation.

What do you see? Do you see a failure or someone trying. There are more of us. 20%! 20%! I say it into the mirror to feel better. A lot have it worse than me.

I can accept a credentialing regime. Cold, far away algorithms deciding how to sort me. I can’t accept that from a person.

On some level I get that Bob Dole could pay for his entire college with his summer job scooping ice cream and that things are different now. Even working through the school year has left me with debt that will handicap me. But I guarantee what hasn’t changed still matters. I don’t know Bob Dole. I read about him in a book. But I’m sure we share the desire to be looked in the eyes like a man. Equality, the fullness of humanity. That’s it. A man with a job was enough back then and it’s not the job or the money or the economy I want, it’s the common respect. Even a credential isn’t enough for these people so where does that leave someone without one.

We’re not obsessed with victim-hood or our own special suffering. We’re people. Is it obsession to simply recite how I got here. Is it dishonest to state a price, the price of an education, a home, or a child and admit I cannot pay it. Is it wrong to have fears? that this is the best I’ll ever do, that the peak earning years between 25 and 45 that have come for previous generations will not come for me and mine.

“We don’t build great things anymore” It hurts when you say this. Every flattening, every critical vector. Young people just aren’t anything anymore. Remember when we were something.

This isn’t going to be anywhere close to how it mathematically actually works but it’s how it feels: the old pay for things and the young build them. So who’s fault is it really for the lack of adequate capitalization when there was no investment to begin with.

I’m going to keep going. We are all going to keep going. Let us have our own good in our own way. It’s less a pet peeve, more of a admonition. We’re not different than you. Every one of us can find a people, a place, a family and a role. We care about things. We try to make a space for them, cultivate them. There’s so much more to life than any single dimension. Please don’t discard all that fills a human life for the indulgence of the hot take of the week.

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What I believed at 18: An old paper

This is a terribly written paper. There are mistakes up and down. A couple sentences you can’t even understand. It might be instructive though for anyone curious what an evangelical high school education actually does when it shapes a dumb dumb normal person. This is definitely embarrassing to publish. Not even a single re read before turning this in, smh at 18 year old me.

I was not a particularly good student and I did not graduate from college. If I think of myself as a devout christian now, it’s only because benchmarks that I meet like church membership, tithing, a minimum amount of critical thinking and familiarity with doctrine would be considered things even the most nominal member of a christian society would achieve in centuries past.


Matthew Heimiller

April 23rd, 2012


Period One

I Believe Final

This paper is a summation of the yearlong course in philosophy. As such the cumulative topics covered are epistemology and truth, the existence of God, science and what is real, and the problem of evil.

On the topic of epistemology and truth it has been asked, “How can a person know anything?” The following approaches of skepticism represented by David Hume, empiricism represented by John Locke, and Biblical Revelation represented by Augustine of Hippo all seek to answer this question in their own way. These three authors from Britannica’s series of “Great Books” have written extensively on the topic of knowledge, or epistemology, and each author takes a different stance on the degree to which things can be known. The culmination of understanding each approach leads to the practical implications and use of knowledge in everyday life.

David Hume wrote three books within his “Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” the first of which dealt with “understanding” or man’s process of knowing (Magee, 112). Hume is an interesting character when it comes to skepticism. He is a modified skeptic (112). As skepticism basically states that the degree to which you can know is not at all, it is surprising that Hume takes stances such as persons being defined as a “bundle of sensations” (113), and the almost empiricist stance on cause and effect that “It is only experience, which teaches us the nature and bounds of cause and effect, and enables us to infer the existence of one object from that of another” (Hume, 509). Hume’s view is that this bundle of sensations experiences life through a bunch of unconnected similar individual instant sensations. The phrase “unconnected similar” is oxymoronic an adjective that characterizes Hume’s views. At first glance the inference that hopeful probabilities, things that will probably happen and that we can almost be certain will happen, are the same as certain knowledge may be mistakenly made. This is one of the things that makes Hume a clever, modified skeptic who can deal with more practical issues in Books 2 and 3 of “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding”, passions and morals respectively because what he says are hopeful probabilities not certain knowledge. Ultimately though, Hume’s view is self defeating, because if Hume doesn’t really know then why should we trust him and listen to what he has to say. Practically this view plays out that we can probably know but not really know living in a delusional naive hopeful limbo where human kind does the best with what is available in a seemingly purposeless existence where purpose can be a hopeful probability but not an actuality.

John Locke is an empiricist. Clark cites Locke summing up empiricism saying, “When has [the mind] all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer in one word, from experience; in that all knowledge is founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself.” (Clark, 212).  According to Locke, people live in “adequate realities” (Locke, 239). What this means is that our simple ideas are reality (238) and that complex ideas are a mixture of simple ideas. Admittedly, these categories proposed by Locke have very fuzzy boundaries but in spite of that Locke purports that there are three ways the complex can come out of the simple. These are experience or observation, invention, or explaining unseen actions (202). “Unseen” in this instance represent any sensory experience, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, that is not known by the one being explained to. In terms of color, Locke would say that one may know red, yellow, white, and purple individually but what they have in common, color, cannot be known because they do not have this mystical commonality in physical existence to be experience (Clark, 213). This works itself out practically in an understated way in that things that can be known empirically but not only empirically. I can know that a billiard ball moves at a high rate of speed toward another billiard ball at rest, then they collide, then each billiard ball moves at separate angles away from one another but it takes abstract thinking outside of empiricism and experience to explain the concept of causation between the balls speed, collision, and subsequent angular departure.

Augustine takes a different approach to knowing, opting instead of skepticism or empiricism for biblical revelation where everything is intrinsically tied to God. To Augustine knowledge is tied to truth in that truth is the ultimate source of knowledge because God is truth. Augustine states this unabashedly, “For where I found truth, there found I my God, the truth itself” (Augustine, 80). According to Augustine, the Bible is the source of God’s directly revealed truths (323). Indirectly, Augustine would agree, God reveals himself to us through his creation. This statement is supported by Romans 1:20, ” For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (ESV). Augustine finds certainty in God’s truth because his God is perfect and everlasting in every aspect of being this includes his wisdom and knowledge revealed or otherwise. According to Augustine, people are by nature not God so they do not know everything. Not only this but humanity is in fact limited, blind, and deceived (523). In Romans it later says, “We exchanged the truth of God for a lie” referring to humanity and its rejection of truth. Elsewhere in the Bible, Corinthians 13:9 to be exact, it says that “we know in part” showing that the full picture metaphorically is not shown to us. This does not mean that man cannot know. Augustine thinks quite the opposite, that God facilitates us by his grace to process and ponder the senses and the feedback we get through them (Augustine 87). On the specific topic of memory, Augustine states that memory is, “immeasurable”(75) and “innumerable of numbers and dimensions” (76). Practically speaking, Augustine figures that man’s chief end is God for “his own sake” (639) and that man is to seek his knowledge, truth, and will through his revelation in the Bible (640).

How can a person know anything? According to Hume and skepticism, one cannot know, according to Locke and empiricism, one can only know to the degree of their own experience, and according to Biblical Revelation and Augustine one can know truly and certainly. Because of my personal belief in the Christian God like Augustine and because of his particularly articulate arguments on the point of biblical revelation and truth I most affiliate and align with him among the classical philosophers.

The question of the Judeo-Christian God’s existence and reality has plagued many a philosopher. A thorough answer to this question requires a discussion of four philosophical methods and their results using historical, philosophical, scientific, Biblical, and personal evidences where applicable. The four philosophical methods of ontology, teleology, cosmology, and axiology are appropriate for the discussion of God’s existence within  the criteria already stated for thoroughness.

The argument from ontology deals with the idea that God is absolutely perfect or necessary in being (Geisler, 554). According to Anselm and added to by Descartes is as follows, “1. It is logically necessary to affirm of a concept what is essential to its nature 2. But existence is logically necessary to the nature of a necessary existent/being 3. Therefore, it is logically necessary to affirm that a necessary existent does exist” (Geisler, 556). This argument grew over the years and the consensus on its validity  according to Geisler is that it relies upon assuming and “importing the undeniable premise that ‘something exists'” (Geisler, 564). This argument for the individual provides the clear and specific application of valid personal evidence for a God. This belief is personal only as it assumes that ‘something exists’ but for the common individual such an assumption is just common sense. The individual can be confident of their own belief and is equipped to answer a challenge like, “nothing exists” with a dismissal of the challenge as, if its own internal logic were correct, would not exist. Clearly on a specifically corporate level as a society, it is much harder to institute this argument as one may personally dismiss a challenge but in the public square, mental and hypothetical scrutiny invalidate this argument because of its assumption.

The argument from teleology deals with design and its assumption of a designer from the evidence of design (Geisler, 714). A classic historical example of this argument is Paley’s Watchmaker, given that, “1. A watch shows that it was put together for an intelligent purpose (to keep time)… 2. The world shows an even greater evidence of design than a watch… 3. therefore, if the existence of a watch implies a watchmaker, the existence of the world implies an even greater intelligent Designer (God).” (Geisler, 715).  As scientific evidence for the worlds complexity, Ross says one would have to deal with a variety of problems starting with the “building blocks” (Ross, 145). Among these unlikely building blocks are molecules, which require a delicate balance of charge to bind together (Ross, 146). Atoms, too, require fine tuning because without the precise adhesion to form multi-proton and multi-neutron elements the world would only be full of Hydrogen (Ross, 146). Ross goes on to say nucleons, and electrons have to be fine tuned as well using this outlandish analogy of the complexity, “Cover the entire North American Continent in dimes all the way up to the moon, a height of about 239,000 mile…” multiply that number of dimes by one million and, “paint one dime red… The odds that he will pick the red dime are one in 10 to the 37th. This is only one of the parameters that needs to be balanced to allow life to form.” (Ross, 150). Ross goes on to list a four page abbreviated list of 35 specific factors and constants as evidence for the universe’s fine tuning (Ross, 154). The result of this argument gives the individual that believes it certainty in the existence of a creator. Confidence in the specifically Judeo-Christian God of the Bible is clearly given by this argument because according to the bible in Genesis 1-2 God created man and made him creative to cultivate and make like God (ESV). This argument reveals a God that makes intelligently similarly to man, this looks a lot like the description given of the Judeo-Christian God. Corporately this argument applies specifically to any scientific profession as the assumption of order, understandability, and predictability are all affirmed and confirmed within this argument.

The argument from cosmology deals with God as the first cause. Thomas Aquinas’ argument from motion goes as follows, “1. Things do move… 2. Change is passing from potentiality to actuality.. 3. Nothing passes from potency to act except by something that is in actuality, it is impossible for a potentiality to actualize itself. 4. there cannot be an infinite regress of actualizes or movers… 5. therefore, there must be a first pure actualizer… 6. everyone understands this to be God” (Geisler, 161-162). This argument for God supports the Judeo-Christian doctrinal belief that God created Ex Nihilo, or “out of nothing” in Latin which was translated literally from the original Hebrew word “bara” (Driscoll). Corporately, this gives meaning to action as it all originated from God. As a business or church, the existence of God as the initial cause of all motivates action as not acting would actually be fighting God’s push.

The axiological argument for God’s existence is also know as the moral argument for God’s existence. Variations on the moral argument came from Kant, Rashdall, Sorley, Trueblood, and most conclusively C.S. Lewis (Geisler, 498-500). In summary, Geisler states Lewis’ moral argument from his work Mere Christianity, “1. There must be a universal moral law… 2. But a universal moral law requires a universal Moral law giver… 3. Further, this universal moral law giver must be absolutely good… 4. therefore, there must be an absolutely good moral law giver.” (Geisler, 500). This sense of universal moral law has cut across all historical boundaries. In Greek philosophy a moral code of knowledge as virtue and happiness developed as the best way for an individual to do what was best (Sahakian). Quite separately and individually, in China, a moral code of the good of the whole or social harmony developed at much the same time (Ivanhoe). What both of these areas ethical systems showed is that they both assumed that they knew what good was or that they agreed upon some aspect of good versus bad intrinsically. Historically this proves the validity of the axiological argument. For the individual this argument affirms a moral God much like the God of the bible that gives humans a conscience and an intrinsic understanding of right and wrong. Application for the individual would include responsible engagement in cultural ethics to line up societies views with the biblical view as best as possible through appeals to the intrinsic nature of good. Corporately, organizations can be encouraged to do objective good in society and in the areas they are placed.

The question of the Judeo-Christian God’s existence and reality can plague philosophers no longer. A thorough answer to this question has been discussed using four philosophical methods and their results with historical, philosophical, scientific, Biblical, and personal evidences where applicable. The four philosophical methods of ontology, teleology, cosmology, and axiology appropriately discussed God’s existence within  the criteria already state. This discussion found that the Judeo-Christian God’s existence is reasonable given the statements about God from the four philosophical methods and how they line up with said specific God.

The relationship between a theological worldview and science is complex and requires analysis. God and science are compatible when taking into account the Biblical view of science especially in God’s command to subdue the earth which leads to the proper view of science that acknowledges the purpose and role of science, the limits to and faulty methodologies of science, and specifically the faults in naturalistic and Darwinian Evolutionary theory. In the end, this discussion leads to clarity within specific controversy and personal, practical application.

The biblical view of science requires discussing biblical examples of science and the exegesis of the meaning of Genesis 1:28, 2:5, and 15. Three areas of science in the bible are astronomy, biology, and the earth sciences (Deem). Astronomy in the bible includes the number of stars exceeding a billion and that each one is unique is found in Genesis 22:17 and 1 Corinthians 15:41 respectively (Deem). Also, the concept of light in motion is found in Job 38:19-20 (Deem). Biology in the bible includes the chemical nature of human life, the nature of infectious diseases, and the importance of sanitation in Genesis 2:7, Leviticus 13:46, and Numbers 19 respectively (Deem). The earth sciences in the bible include the water cycle, air having weight, and valleys at the bottom of the sea in Ecclesiastes 1:7, Job 28:25, and 2 Samuel 22:16 respectively (Deem). The Genesis verses of 1:28, 2:5, and 2:15 need to be examined. In 1:28 God says to subdue the earth. It lays out that man is different and above the animals (Henry’s). Not that man should be irresponsible but that he does have a power and mandate to fill the earth (Henry’s). At this point the relationship between Adam and creation was not defiled by sin and the mandate was being carried out properly not to just let the garden be but to imitate what God had done in initiating progress and continue developing more complex ways of tending and “gardening” the earth (Henry’s). In 2:5 we are shown creation before Adam (Henry’s). In some sense the earth was made for man (Henry’s). God also puts forth the model for subduing the earth as he organizes it and puts it in such a state that Adam will not be left alone but rather have a world to work with already and something to learn as a first step in a greater journey of learning (Henry’s). In 2:15 we see this echoed as God deliberately places Adam in the place where he is to work to God’s glory. God does not simply expect Adam to make the order of the garden but to “keep” it. God ordained the initial order to teach Adam about the life-rhythm’s instilled in creation (Henry’s). Likewise, science can be seen in that unlike animals, man does science. Man has a mandate to use science responsibly as part of his dominion over creation. As well, God although initiating the original progress and good “science” of gardening as the perfect example for dominion took that away after the fall leaving only broken science behind. The purpose of science then from this biblical perspective is to responsibly have dominion over the earth, to subdue and control it.

There are limits to science. First, when sticking, “only to the facts” one must overlook the theory of fact. The theory of fact is infinitely divisible requiring more and more description and description of description in the statement of facts to prove a theory which is factual but not actual fact itself. The rub comes when those facts are just factuals themselves and factuals made of more factuals. Second, this leads to the nature of scientific laws. Scientific laws no matter how useful are limited in truth. Though effective, scientific laws are chosen not discovered and scientific constants can be practically found but not truly found due to the impossible nature of true precision in measurement. Third, the scientist lives in a perfectly mathematical world. The whole nature of the laboratory is to make reality less real, To make the mathematics match the reality as much as possible. These laboratories are supremely useful and a level of exactness that the scientist deems rigorous can be obtained but its true factuality is false, not truly exact. Fourth and lastly, science inductively murders logic. Scientific experiments say for instance, “If I eat roast turkey and plum pudding, I lose my appetite; I have lost my appetite; therefore, we had roast turkey for dinner.” This form of logic is false and logic comes before science. (Clark 145-150)

Two faulty methodologies of science are operationalism and  mechanism. Operationally speaking, without any outside help so to speak, there is always human error even if the instrument making the measure is incredibly precise. If this method is relativistic than it can make no truth claim, only what maybe or most likely. The lack of a truth claim in a relativistic procedure means that this model and method of science cannot make absolute arguments against theism as well as making truth statements for positions such as taking the “scientific method as the sole gateway to the whole region of knowledge”. Mechanically speaking, a problem with science can be the assumption that theism is not relevant. Whether it is because of atoms or statistics, assuming that everything is explained leaves no room for God. The error here is that theism is not defined and one could just as easily assume the opposite that God is. A similar error comes when it is taken into account that mechanism is not proven. It is a matter of choice to choose an indeterminate or mechanical universe to theoretically work with. (Clark 151-156)

Specific attention to the problems of Darwinian Evolutionary theory which include the above is required. Darwinian Evolutionary theory makes two main mistakes. They are assumptions about the past and a constant unchanging universe. First, the far past is not known. Anyone who talks about the far past as if an expert that had been their and observed what happened is full of hogwash. All theorists on the concept of the far past are pretty much on equal ground because of the shear amount of speculation required. Even with recent history, where man was around to record as much as possible, differing opinions as to what and how things happened vary wildly. This also plays into the second preconception that like the laboratory history is still and stagnant completely predictable. Practically speaking we can not even predict tomorrows weather with absolute certainty.

The biblical view of science is important because of all the controversial topics found in science. Three specific controversial instances include objective discussion, intelligent design, and abortion. First, objective discussion is an incredibly relevant, controversial topic regarding science because schools that do not have the right to objectively discuss controversial topics such as evolution, climate change, and cloning do not have the tools they need to inform their students properly (CSC – Tennessee). Without all the facts an informed scientific decision cannot be made as is the case in places where objective discussion is frowned upon. Biblically speaking we cannot defend our faith if all dissenting opinions are squelched. Also, discussion is a good way to present and find the truth because as Jesus said, “the truth will set you free.” Second, intelligent design is a hot button issue. Recently a NASA employee was demoted and humiliated because of his belief in intelligent design (CSC – Background). The Bible says that God created and that is important especially to the value of human life and of his other creation. The Bible also says that we will be persecuted so although the biblical view of science is not widely accepted right now it does not mean that we should give up or compromise on key doctrinal points such as God as originator of the universe. Third, abortion is a controversial issue as it relates to science. Science can show if a baby will be born with any defects such as Down syndrome and now a couple can even sue if their baby is born when it “should” have been aborted because of said Down syndrome (Baptist Press). God as creator who creates human beings in his image cares about even the tiniest of people. The value of human life weighed against the convenience of not having to deal with a child should always win out for the Christian. Also from a biblical perspective the innocent and powerless like the disabled do not deserve a death sentence as is given them at conception in an abortive world.

Practical personal application breaks down four ways when it comes to science. They are learning science, employing science, esteeming science, and technology. First, learning science is important because it is part of the creation mandate and man’s responsibility to subdue the world. This can lead to taking a community college science course on the side or a web-course from a Christian university so the everyman knows what he is dealing with scientifically in all the controversial areas. Second, employing science is applicable for those who need to do something which is all people. We must remember that no matter what task we are doing, there is a more efficient, more scientific way to “garden” in that task. Science here is our ally. Need to make better corn? Then with science you can sequence the genes of said corn and create a super corn that grows larger and more densely than any naturally occurring corn. Third, esteeming science may be a hard thing for the everyday Christian. Christians need to remember that science is not against Christ. They need to instead view science in its right place as a good thing not demonizing scientists or being suspicious of those who use science. Practically at a church this may mean giving out scientific scholarships for Christian scientists. Fourth, responsible use of technology is a suitable application. The great misconception about technology is that it is good or bad. Rather, it opens some doors and closes others. Carefully and not blindly embracing a technology is important for the Christian. Specifically with the advent of social networks and “The Facebook” many Christians are left saying, “a million friends isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? a billion friends.” The irresponsible use of social networking to pat one’s ego and feed one’s soul idols is not a good thing. The responsible response would be to leverage the doors of communication that social networks have opened to facilitate real life community and fellowship.

In summary, the relationship between a theological worldview and science is good. God and science are compatible. The Biblical view of science is especially shown in God’s command to subdue the earth. This leads to the proper view of science that acknowledges the purpose and role of science along with the limits to and faulty methodologies of science. Darwinian Evolutionary theory therefore is shown to have holes in logic. In the end, hopefully, this discussion has lead to clarity within certain specific controversies and personal, practical application.

The origin, problem, and solution of the problem of evil are important. The origin of the problem of evil is a long story. First, in the beginning God created everything. God is the perfect good and there is no evil at this point. Second, creation by itself is declared good. Third, creation was good but man had agency to choose and so creation had the potential for evil. Fourth, sin, which is the departure from God’s moral will results in evil. Fifth, evil then exists independent of God, but not outside his sovereign will but outside of his moral will and character. Sixth, God factored in evil. God willed creation and man was the agent actualizing evil. Evil did not surprise God. The problem of the problem of evil can be two things. One is a logical problem, the other is a personal problem. The problem logically is how could a good God exist in the same universe as evil. Logically speaking the answer to this question is that God has higher purposes for evil than what is seen in the moment, or even over a long period of time. This leads to the personal problem of evil. “Can I believe in a God that lets this happen?” some ask. Not because it is logically impossible for evil to occur but because they want to know “why?” There is an element of faith with a personal trust even in evil because one has to admit that evil is there for either contrast, character, or correction. Contrasting between goodness and life, evil makes us appreciate the good times by comparison. Character and personhood are developed throughout trials and evil can be an instrument therein. Correction and learning can occur from or in difficult times whether within the natural order in a “reap what you sow” kind of way or in a supernatural pronouncement that does not have a direct material connection to actions we or others have taken. The solution in the problem of evil may sound glib but in true minimalistic style God offers us Jesus as the ultimate reconciliation of the broken evil world with God. In Jesus, we have hard times but we are either delivered from those hard times or we are not to the greater glory of God. (Millen)

This is what I believe.


Works Cited

Augustine. “Confessions, The City of God, On Christian Doctrine.” Britannica Great Books. Ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins. Vol. 18. Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1952. 74-640.

“Baptist Press – Couple Awarded $3M in ‘wrongful Birth’ Suit – News with a Christian Perspective.” Baptist Press. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37398&gt;.

“Bible Commentary.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary –. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&gt;.

Clark, Gordon Haddon. A Christian View of Men and Things: an Introduction to Philosophy. Unicoi, TN: Trinity Foundation, 2005. Print.

“CSC – Background on David Coppedge and the Lawsuit Against NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.” Discovery Institute. 19 Mar. 2012. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.discovery.org/a/14511&gt;.

“CSC – Tennessee Legislature Passes Landmark Academic Freedom on Evolution Bill.” Discovery Institute. 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.discovery.org/a/18541&gt;.

Driscoll, Mark. “Doctrine | Creation: God Makes.” Mars Hill Church. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://marshill.com/media/doctrine/creation-god-makes&gt;.

ESV Study Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008. Print.

Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1999. Print.

Hume, David. “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.” Britannica Great Books. Ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins. Vol. 35. Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1952. 457-509.

Ivanhoe, P. J., and Norden Bryan W. Van. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2005. Print.

Locke, John. “A Letter Concerning Toleration, Concerning Civil Government, Second Essay, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” Britannica Great Books. Ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins. Vol. 35. Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1952. 94-363.

Magee, Bryan. The Story of Philosophy. New York: Dorling Kindersley Book, 2001. Print.

Millen. Class Notes.

Ross, Hugh. The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2001. Print.

Sahakian, William S., and Mabel Lewis. Sahakian. Ideas of the Great Philosophers. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1993. Print.

“Science and the Bible: Does the Bible Contradict Scientific Principles?by Rich Deem.” Science and the Bible: Does the Bible Contradict Scientific Principles? Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://godandscience.org/apologetics/sciencebible.html&gt;.


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