What is a Theorist and What are Theories?

Introduction

To gain a sound understanding of what a theorist is, let us take a look at different interpretations of the meaning of the word:

  • According to a general search on Google using the terms “What is a theorist?”, the definition rendered was stated as follows: “A person concerned with the theoretical aspects of a subject; a theoretician.”
  • According to Madscitech.org, a theorist is defined as “a scientist who specializes in finding patterns in experimental or observation data and then making predictions assuming those patterns to be reality.”
  • According to campaign-for-learning.org.uk, “Theorists adapt and integrate observations into complex and logically sound theories.

There are certainly many, many different ways in which to describe what a theorist is, but from these three we may assume that a theorist is a person that is concerned with theoretical aspects and specializes in using observation and experimentation to develop, adapt and integrate logically sound theories from what they assume to be reality. So what kinds of theorists and theories exist? Do, and should, theories ever become more than theories? What sort of theories exist today?

What Kinds of Theorists Exist?

Advancement in humanity has been a driving point for eons; theorists exist in all fields of study including education, the sciences (political, mathematical, social, behavioral, physical, etc…) and your odds-and-ends such as conspiracy theorists.

What Sort of Theories Exist?

Just as there are theorists for most every aspect of life, so there are theories to coincide. In education and the sciences, theories exist in almost every subject and are quite capable of escaping into the territory of law and principle. However, theories such as those titled as conspiracies rarely achieve more than this negatively connoted mentioning. Every considerable scientific law was first birthed as a theory before it was given the prestige of law or principle which brings us to yet another inquiry.

Should Theories Become More than Theories?

The answer to this question is rather elusive because each theory is different; with each theory there is a different set of questions necessary to validate its becoming more than a theory. In fact, there are questions necessary to determine whether a theory is logically valid (which determine whether it can even be considered a theory or simple nonsense). The greatest pitfall for determining the validity of a theory is in its wording; language, especially the English language, is dynamic which can prove aggravating when attempting to argue your point. Now we are left to consider whether a theory written, or spoken, in a particular way is beyond the reaches of subjectivity: hardly. So if a theory, written or spoken in a particular manner is not beyond the reaches of subjectivity (we must not travel to Abilene here) then what constitutes it becoming a law or principle? According to BusinessDictionary.com, a scientific law, for example, is defined as the following:

“An independently and sufficiently verified description of a direct link between cause and effect of a phenomenon, deduced from experiments and/or observations. Scientific laws are considered established and universally applicable (to certain class of things or phenomenon under appropriate conditions) but not necessarily definitive. Also called laws of science.”

Now consider the second-to-last sentence in this definition: “Scientific laws are considered established and universally applicable (to certain class of things or phenomenon under appropriate conditions) but not necessarily definitive.” A law, of all things, that is considered universally applicable should not, then, be confined to only a “certain class of things or phenomenon under appropriate conditions” and should most certainly be definitive. This definition of a law, scientific law to be more specific, merely defines a far more applicable theory when the contradiction of universal and “to certain” is vindicated. So, to re-inquire on whether theories should become more than just theories, the answer is no they should not lest the definition of a law becomes more indicative of a theory with wider application.

The Paranormal – Hell’s Bridge

Since I wrote an article about Hell’s Bridge in Algoma Township, Michigan I have received numerous emails from people asking about my experiences and how to get to the bridge.

So, without further ado:

Finding Hell’s Bridge

The simplest route to Hell’s Bridge is to take US-131 North from Grand Rapids or South from Cedar Springs (depending on where you are from). From US-131, take the 10 Mile Road exit. Take this road West until you come to Algoma Ave. Take a right here. which will bring you to 12 Mile Road. Take a right and Friske Drive will be on your left. Somewhere along Friske Drive there will be a dirt turnaround; I have not been there in a while so I cannot be more specific than this. Park your vehicle there and if you split the circle turnaround in half, the narrow footpath will be in the middle.

My Experiences at Hell’s Bridge

On my very first trip to Hell’s Bridge, I was accompanied by three other people: a close friend, his sister and a friend of his sister. We arrived there at the circle turnaround at about 11:45 pm; We were quite excited that we had actually found the bridge. We took the narrow footpath and reached the bridge at right about Midnight. Allowing the scenery to warm up to our senses, we simply stood there on the bank of the lazy tributary while watching and listening. I took the initiative to test out the integrity of the iron or steel footbridge (it looks frighteningly narrow and haphazardly anchored on the far bank, but it is sturdy) and was the first to venture completely across to the other side. After about 10 minutes of remaining quiet, watching and listening I was startled by a loud, heavy thudding sound (it honestly sounded like a large deer running) that was growing louder. A bit startled by the whole ordeal, I clicked on my maglite and shined the beam down the narrow path along the river towards the direction of the sounds: Nothing. So I did what any rational, normal human being would do in that situation; as I walked down the path in search of the source, my friend found his nerve and made his way across the bridge.

A glimpse of the footbridge crossing the river.

A glimpse of the footbridge crossing the river from the far side. The people on the other side are those that were with me.

After about an hour had passed, we were joined by another group of enthusiasts trying to capture a few memorable moments at Hell’s Bridge. Here is another photo that was taken from the road side of the bridge:

Look closely and you may see what the camera captured.

While the second trip to Hell’s Bridge was rather uneventful and short-lived, the third trip proved the opposite. Now, just as a forewarning, there is no hard evidence in existence of anything I am writing: these are personal experiences only.

The four of us there that night made for quite the bold crowd; it is because of this, as we later concluded, that the events of the night were offensive, so-to-speak. After only about ten minutes of getting a feel for the place and the night, one of those with us began challenging the purported spirits that dwell in the area by name. It was rather chilly, and we were all wearing sweatshirts or coats; shortly after the “name-calling” began the air around us became stifling. I, personally, was sweating profusely and my skin tingled like would if you were to walk out of a walk-in fridge into mid-summer temperatures; at one point it felt like needle-pricks on my skin. We heard a sudden, crashing noise behind us that would resemble a falling tree smashing into the underbrush; spinning about, the four of us were highly startled which followed by an abrupt feeling of bewilderment: Nothing. There were no fallen trees nor any visual evidence of an event that would have caused such a ruckus. We shook off the feeling and took about 20 minutes to calm our nerves before the challenging persisted. The thick, heavy feeling in the air that had been present from the moment we began calling the spirits out dissipated which followed by something that stopped us “dead in our tracks” (pun not intended); out over the quiet trickle of the river came a young, adolescent girl’s voice that said “stop it, he’s not here.” We all looked at one another and knew we had all heard it. From that moment we addressed the young girl and any other “innocent spirits” that may have been in the area; I have never before in my life laid my eyes upon a scenery with so many fireflies. Across the bridge from us there had to have been hundreds (perhaps thousands) of fireflies. It was serene and calm, but no more voices were heard; however, the serenity did not remain for too long. The heavy feeling returned, and so we decided it was time to part ways with the purported spirits of Hell’s Bridge.

Take this as you will. I encourage anyone interested in the Paranormal to visit this bridge and gather your own opinion on the bridge and its “inhabitants” and evidence of your experiences there.

Instrumental Music in Worship from a Philosophical Standpoint

Introduction

An ongoing disagreement in Christian churches is the acceptability of instrumental music in worship.  There are many that are for the use, and there are many that are against the use of such.  There is, however, an issue with many of the long, drawn-out and spewed arguments, and that is that they often commit logical errors and fallacies.  So let us clarify the use of instrumental music in worship from a philosophical standpoint.

Let us begin this with an objective overview of the deity referred to as God.

In Western metaphysics, God is also known as the God of the “Omni’s”:

  1. Omniscient – all-knowing
  2. Omnipotent – all-powerful
  3. Omnipresent – present everywhere simultaneously
  4. Omnibenevolent – all-good

Now the belief system involving God, or the God of the “Omni’s”, that is in question is Theism, or the belief in God under the pretenses that God has remained here and had not left us after creation.  The purpose, according to this belief system, in our lives is to achieve an eternal oneness with God.  This, according to New Testament scripture, is by having faith in God and leading those unsaved souls by example as per Matthew 5:13-16: The Salt and the Light of the Earth.

Now that we have a very basic overview of the belief system, let us cover the argument and the aforementioned committed fallacies.

Problem I

The Christian Church today, majority-wise anyways, is referred to as the New Testament Church and therefore follows the New Testament.  However, there is a paradox in the scriptural backing used by the New Testament Church.  For example, the claim is made that women are not to lead in worship as it is not their role according to Paul (which is a whole other “can-of-worms” altogether).  The use of Paul’s teachings is prevalent in this argument against women having any leading role in worship as per 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.  Such is taken with every measure of literal meaning.  However, in other cases such as as per 1 Corinthians 11:23-34, the scriptures are not followed so literally even though the content of those passages deals directly with the words spoken by Jesus Christ himself.  Unleavened bread and one cup filled with the fruit of the vine were used by Jesus Christ himself as symbols of that which he gave to not only his apostles, but to us all.  There remains a great deal of variance in the methods of partaking of the Lord’s Supper amongst the many denominations of the New Testament Church.  One such method often used is the use of small, plastic cups for the fruit of the vine and crackers for the broken bread.  This varies greatly from the practice of Jesus. So, to break this down into logic, we have a paradox here:

Paradox I

If p, then q. If p is true, then q must also be true.

  • If it is written in New Testament scripture (p), then it must be followed literally in order to be considered being obedient to God’s word (q).
  • It is written in New Testament scripture that women must remain silent amongst the congregation (p).
  • Therefore women must remain silent amongst the congregation in order to be considered being obedient to God’s word (q).

If p, then q. If p is true, then q must also be true.

  • If it is written in New Testament scripture (p), then it must be followed literally in order to be considered being obedient to God’s word (q).
  • It is written in New Testament scripture that unleavened bread and one cup, filled with the fruit of the vine, was used for the Lord’s Supper (p).
  • Therefore unleavened bread and one cup, filled with the fruit of the vine, must be used for the Lord’s Supper in order to be considered being obedient to God’s word (q).

Final Note on Paradox I

This is but one contradictory use of scripture to fulfill one’s arguments when it is convenient, and to deny or shove aside scripture when it is not.  By all logic, you must either follow scripture literally or understand that there are accepted differences in the practices of New Testament churches.  Now, while this does not touch in on the problem at hand, it does touch in on a problem of interpretation.

Problem II

The second problem arises from the “Argument from Silence” which can be simplified to this: “Since the New Testament does not explicitly forbid the use of instrumental music in worship, it must be acceptable to God.”  The argument against this belief is that the silence in God’s word is not a guide for his faithful as are the positive commands we can plainly read.  A specific argument against arguing from silence reads as follows:

When God commands men to do anything specifically, everything else in the related category is excluded. For example: a) Bread and fruit of the vine are the elements God has ordained for the Lord’s Supper, according to Matt 26:26-39. The specific divine requirement for these elements excludes everything else. No one would be foolish enough to insist upon adding meat and potatoes to the Lord’s table because the New Testament doesn’t expressly prohibit their use for this purpose. b) When God commanded the children of Israel to use a lamb for the Passover feast (Exodus 12:3), every other kind of animal was automatically excluded. God did not have to expressly mention all the animals that were not to be used; the kind specified excluded all others” (Elder Zack Guess from his work Instrumental Music in Worship).

a. To gain a better understanding of this, refer back to Paradox I. If the divine requirements are specific, then why are they altered so often? Regardless of the foolishness of adding meat and potatoes to the Lord’s Supper, this overly-exaggerated example of altering scripture masks the more common alterations which are, given by the “specific divine requirements”, no less foolish than meat and potatoes. To follow this logically, one must then do away with all alterations to what has been written in scripture (i.g. many cups and crackers).

b. Please note the scripture used in this example. This particular example leads us into a third problem which will be discussed later on. However, to directly address this example, it is paramount that one understand that there are unsubtle differences between the original Old Testament and the original New Testament.  The original Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and in order for one to understand the true meaning of these written passages, one must understand the Hebrew language. The New Testament was written in Greek, and in order for one to understand the true meaning of these written passages, one must understand the Greek language.  There seems to be no question as to what the Hebrew text refers to as “lamb”: Generally accepted term for a young sheep.  However, this is not the case for the actual issue at hand. The New Testament refers to hymns, psalms, and songs of worship.  Granted that there is a truly magnificent spectrum of possibility when it comes to defining these three terms, we are left with but a simple question; Is it possible that hymns, psalms, or songs of worship, in the ancient Greek language, could have included references to instrumental accompaniment? A good reference with such a study can be found in Strong’s Bible Concordance which, when certain words of the Greek or Hebrew language are in question, has many definitions to browse through in both languages of the Original Testaments. It is a good place to start along with a solid, accurate Greek version of the New Testament.

Final Notes on Problem II

God is fancied as an omniscient being (refer to the beginning for a definition). In fact, omniscience is a key attribute to the Theist God.  To be all-knowing is a difficult concept for humans to apply, but easy to understand in a basic manner.  There is a book known as the Holy Bible which is the word of God himself written through the use of man as a conduit.  Now if God were omniscient as he is believed to be, would he not understand that such an issue over the use of instrumental music in worship would ensue at some point in history? Now, to that equation, let us add in the attribute of “salvation issue”. If God were omniscient as he is believed to be, would he not understand that a problem would arise from the salvation issue of using instrumental music in worship and ensue at some point in history? If the Bible were not silent on the use of instrumental music in worship, then, by all logic, God (omniscient God) understood the possibility of rising problems in such a salvation issue.  However, the Bible is silent on the use of instrumental music in worship which leads to two possible, but not overlapping, conlusions:

  1. God is not omniscient and therefore did not have the understanding that humans would argue on the silence of his word.
  2. God is omniscient, but left out precise commands (refer to part b of Problem II) on the use of instrumental music in worship because they would not pertain to an issue of salvation.

From here, decide which God it is you have faith in and worship.

To argue that since the Bible does not specifically give authority for something that it goes against the word of God commits the logical fallacy of appealing to ignorance.  Appealing to ignorance is the act of saying that something is false because it cannot be proven to be true.  It cannot be proven true that God’s word (The Bible) allows instrumental worship and therefore it must be false. However, the same may be used in the other direction.  It cannot be proven false that God’s word (The Bible) allows instrumental worship and therefore it must be true.  However, for the latter, refer to the beginning of this section (Final Notes on Problem II).

Paradox II

If p, then q. If p is true, then q must also be true.

  • If it is not specifically written in New Testament scripture (p), then it must not be done in order to be considered being obedient to God’s word (q).
  • It is not specifically written in New Testament scripture that instrumental music should, or may, be used in worship (p).
  • Therefore it must not be done in worship in order to be considered being obedient to God’s word (q).

If p, then q. If p is true, then q must also be true.

  • If it is not specifically written in New Testament scripture (p), then it must not be done in worship in order to be considered being obedient to God’s word (q).
  • It is not specifically written in New Testament scripture that the offering money be used to pay the salary of the minister/preacher/pastor (p).
  • Therefore it must not be done in order to be considered being obedient to God’s word (q).

Final Note on Paradox II

The word of God is silent on the use of the monetary offering during worship.  If a congregation had built a new church building with money from the offering during worship, then they too have argued from silence for justification.

Problem III

There is another issue that arises from the manner in which scriptural fortification is presented.  The New Testament Church follows the New Testament, but gives regard to the Old Testament.  However, when it becomes convenient, the Old Testament is used as scriptural fortification for a point given.  Let us refer back to the argument of the lamb for the Passover feast:

“b) When God commanded the children of Israel to use a lamb for the Passover feast (Exodus 12:3), every other kind of animal was automatically excluded. God did not have to expressly mention all the animals that were not to be used; the kind specified excluded all others” (Elder Zack Guess from his work Instrumental Music in Worship).

This is a perfect example of the use of the Old Testament to fortify one’s point and/or belief.  This, as per Matthew 5:17-20, is validated by Jesus Christ himself.  So now that we understand the Jesus has validated the Law of the Old Testament, then we shall take a better look at these scriptures (Both New and Old Testament) from the New King James Version:

  • Exodus 15:20-21
  • I Samuel 10:5
  • II Samuel 6:5, 15, 21
  • I Kings 10:12
  • II Kings 12:13
  • I Chronicles 13:8
  • I Chronicles 15:16-29
  • I Chronicles 16:5-9, 23, 42
  • I Chronicles 23:5
  • I Chronicles 25:1-7
  • II Chronicles 5:12-13
  • II Chronicles 7:6
  • II Chronicles 9:11
  • II Chronicles 15:14
  • II Chronicles 20:19–28
  • II Chronicles 29:25–30
  • II Chronicles 30:21
  • II Chronicles 34:12
  • Ezra 3:10
  • Nehemiah 12:8–47
  • Isaiah 5:12
  • Isaiah 30:29
  • Isaiah 38:20
  • Amos 5:23
  • Amos 6:5
  • Habakkuk 3:19
  • Revelation 5:8–9
  • Revelation 14:2–3
  • Revelation 15:2–3

Final Notes on Problem III

Each of these verses contain reference to the use of instrumental music in a manner of worship. If Jesus has validated the Law of the Old Testament, and worshiping with instrumental music did not break those laws, why would it then in the New Testament?

Paradox III

If p, then q. If p is true, then q must also be true.

Premises: Jesus validated the Law of the Old Testament (refer to Problem III)

  • If something did not break the Law of the Old Testament (p), then it obeyed the Law of the Old Testament (q).
  • Using a lamb during the Passover feast did not break the Law of the Old Testament (p).
  • Therefore it obeyed the Law of the Old Testament (q).

If p, then q. If p is true, then q must also be true.

Premises: Jesus validated the Law of the Old Testament.

  • If something did not break the Law of the Old Testament (p), then it obeyed the Law of the Old Testament (q).
  • Using an instrument of music did not break the Law of the Old Testament (p).
  • Therefore it obeyed the Law of the Old Testament (q).

Final Note on Paradox III

If something did not break the Law of the Old Testament, then such an act would be valid in the New Testament.

Conclusion

The only points this has proven is that the many arguments used against the use of instruments have a multitude of flaws and holes, and that the use of instruments during worship is not a matter of salvation.

© Jonathan Jordan, 2011. Modification of this material is strictly prohibited. Duplication and use of this material is allowed provided that full and clear credit is given to Jonathan Jordan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jonathan Jordan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.