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At the beginning of last summer, I wrote a short blog post describing my summer reading goals.  I wanted to explore the concept of Molinism.  I can’t say that I am completely finished with my reading goals, but I do think that I have read enough to say that I am fairly comfortable with Molinism.  It has been an adventure to say the least, involving much reflection and meditation on the subject.  It is an interesting feeling to shift one’s theology.  In this case, it is less of a shift and more of a systematizing.  I know what a shift feels like.  At one point in my life, I championed a strong charismatic approach to Christian life but that is no longer the case today.  I have also shifted from a functional Arminian to a 5-point Calvinist to my current position over a number of years.  I guess if labels are important then I am a moderate Calvinist who holds to a Molinist explanation to the tension between libertarian freedom and God’s sovereign decrees.

May God be glorified in all and through all.

My unannounced and unanticipated hiatus is over.  I thought I would have more blogging time during the winter break, but apparently that wasn’t the case.  Time has a way of slipping away, and the break was refreshing (both intellectually and spiritually).  I spent the very beginning of the new semester at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.  The flight was very long (Oklahoma to Texas to Florida to New York), so I spent some uninterrupted time with a good book: The Joyful Christian.  It is a collection of excerpts from C.S. Lewis, covering a wide range of topics.  The chapter on apologetics stood out to me, especially the following quote:

I have found nothing is more dangerous to one’s own faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that Faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate.  For a moment, you see, it has seemed to rest on oneself: as a result, when you go away from that debate, it seems no stronger than that weak pillar.  That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality–from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself.

I don’t consider myself an apologist in the formal sense, at least not one like the great Christian apologists of our time or times past.  However, Lewis struck a chord with me.  All to often I struggle with loving the arguments of Christianity more than the source of Christianity, for it is immensely logical and self-consistent.  It is explains everything: the origin of the world, the nature of man, etc.  It also provides a real solution to man’s main problem, reconciliation to God through Jesus.  I constantly remind myself to turn my affections to the source of the arguments.  Without Christ Himself, there are no arguments.  I suppose my point in posting this is a gentle reminder to myself and those who read this: love the Lord your God for who He is, not the arguments that are grounded by His very existence.

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Well, I have been inspired to learn how to insert fancy math equations into my blog posts.  Kudos to the good folks at codecogs for providing this.  To test the power of the website, I decided to enter the Kramers-Kronig transform between the s-polarized reflectivity, Rs and the phase angle, δ.

The P stands for the Cauchy principle value and I is a constant for using this in an ATR experiment.  The value of I is given as

From this  one may go on to calculate the optical constants of a material.  Pretty cool!  My only complaint is the box that is drawn around them, but I will hold off on fixing that for now.

The summer is here, and it is high time for me to tackle my annual summer reading project.  Sure enough, there is plenty to do in the lab and writing papers, but the summer is special, for I devote large swaths of time to studying a topic in a way that I simply cannot during the academic year.  Last summer, I had a great time with two popular books about espionage and one on statistical thermodynamics.  My wife also had a baby, and that did curtail some of my reading time.  This summer I think I am going to dive into a theological topic.  Molinism is a branch of theology that attempts to reconcile divine sovereignty with human freedom and responsibility.  It was originally developed by Luis de Molina, a Spanish Jesuit priest living in the 1500s.  William Lane Craig is probably the most well-known contemporary advocate of Molinism.  I have charted out my summer reading list, including both defenders and critics.  Fortunately, there will not be a baby this summer!