CalvinDude Masthead


Posted: November 12, 2017 (10:25 PM) by CalvinDude
I was away for a bit, some of which involved a work trip to a foreign country. (San Francisco is a foreign country, right?) Anyway, now I'm back and hopefully the new updates will begin to be implemented by the end of this month. However, I will ask for prayer requests on this because we're entering into what I consider to be the worst part of the year: the holiday season.

I know a lot of people who read this site know me, at least in regards to my online persona. I tend to be sarcastic about a lot of things, so I want to be clear here. I am not being sarcastic or flippant when I say that the holidays are the worst part of the year for me. They genuinely are.

They weren't always that way. I used to love them. There was a lot of special meaning in the holidays and it was always enjoyable to get together with friends and family. But that's part of why they suck so bad now.

I suppose that it begins with New Years Day in 2013. That's the day my mom passed away. It sort of put a damper on the Christmas to New Years section of the holidays. Then, a year later...November 20, 2014 to be precise. That's the day that Skarlet left me. She filed for divorce the first week of February, and Trinity was born shortly after that. Then, after I thought we had reconciled, Skarlet ended up leaving me again the end of November 2016, and this time permanently. I spent Christmas with my Dad and my step-mom, along with friends of theirs. And while it was nice, it wasn't the same as getting to see my little Trinity opening her presents.

So, when I say that the holidays suck, they really do. Which means that for me to do what would normally be pretty straightforward tasks, such as updating the rest of this website to get it functioning the way I want it to function, becomes a herculean task instead. Add on the fact that I'm pretty sure I get Seasonal Affective Disorder during winter, and that just piles on.

Therefore, I would ask for prayers during this season. I know I'll make it, but it would be nice if it was easier.

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The Blog is Going into Archive Mode

Posted: October 1, 2017 (5:50 PM) by CalvinDude
If you're a regular visitor, despite how slow things have been this year, you'll notice I've implemented some new changes. You can no longer register for a new account on this site, nor can you log in to leave ratings or comments. This is the first step in the process as I begin to redesign this website. Ultimately, the blog itself will be archived so it will exist as a historical record on this website (and if it goes according to plan, anyone who has linked to content on this site will not be affected as the links should still work, etc.), but I will not be using this website as a blogging platform moving forward.

Without yet being able to go into all the details as to why I am no longer blogging, I do wish to give a little bit of insight, especially for those who have been longtime readers of this blog. The main reason for why I am shuttering the blog and going in a new direction is because I've found that I just don't have the stomach for blog debates anymore. The comments sections of most blogs are inhabited by trolls who make life miserable and I'm choosing not to be around that sort of thing any longer. I am not opposed to those who do enjoy that. In fact, I used to quite enjoy feeding trolls in the past. But I no longer have the stomach, energy, time, or inclination to do that.

Additionally, the pressures of blogging require constant updates and lots of new content. But the reality is that most of my views have already been shared and there's only so many ways you can say the same thing. The blog format is good for a quick synopsis, but what I really want to do is dig into the meat and bones of an issue. To sink into it and examine it fully. To research it heavily and make it more scholarly than the quick blog posts of old.

So the new focus on this website will be directed toward that end. Over the month of October, I'm planning on doing a complete redesign of this site. What's going to be on it? Pretty much whatever interests me. While I don't want to blog, I still have a strong desire to teach and to share my views on topics with other people, but I want it to be in a way that's useful long term. The quality of writing in blogs typically will not last the sands of time. So I'm going to be focused on more scholarly works and basically this website will be equivalent to an online library of books dealing with my beliefs and views on topics.

This website will not just be about theology and philosophy, although that will be the primary focus. In fact, my current goal is to start off with a short "book" on logic and then one that will examine logical fallacies. But beyond that, I probably will include a lot of stuff on math and physics, astronomy and other sciences, and pretty much anything else that strikes my fancy.

I hope that it may be of some value to my readers.

In Christ,

Peter Pike
AKA CalvinDude

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Winds of Change

Posted: September 28, 2017 (2:32 PM) by CalvinDude
Yeah, I know it's been a while. There is a reason I'll eventually get to talk about. But until then, I'm hoping to get the winds of change headed this way.

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Posted: March 1, 2017 (9:14 AM) by CalvinDude
Well, it's March. Not sure how much I'll be able to write in the near future. I'm sure at some point I'll be back to blogging again, but for now I'm on a bit of a hiatus.

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A New Administration

Posted: January 20, 2017 (12:11 PM) by CalvinDude
Well, Trump is now in office. So there's that.

As for me, I will be trying to blog more in the near future!

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What I Believe

Posted: January 1, 2017 (12:01 PM) by CalvinDude
Happy New Year!

I've started a new YouTube channel which will begin by going over my beliefs. I'll be posting the videos here. Feel free to subscribe to the channel and please like it if you like it :-)

Here's the text, for those interested:

When evaluating something as vast and with as many intricate connections as the topic of “What I Believe” it becomes apparent rather quickly that one cannot truly understand the beginning until one has an understanding of the ending. That is to say, the structures that form the thoughts, concepts, and reasons for any particular belief are not in isolation, and it becomes necessarily difficult to put them in any particular hierarchical format. Instead, it is better to think of an intricate web of beliefs that support each other.

Ultimately, of course, this means that there is a certain sense in which my beliefs will be circular. Yet is it clear from philosophy that not all circular arguments are viciously circular. That is, some circular arguments are necessary simply to get us off the ground in the first place. The beginnings of my belief structures can be hinted at in a way that is not, I hope, viciously circular.

To pick a fundamental starting point, I’d have to begin with a statement of what I hope to be true. Naturally, I believe it is actually true as well, but even if it were not true at least it would give us a ground point to begin the discussion. That starting point is: the Word of God is true.

But why this starting point and not something else? For instance, why not pick “Logic is valid” as the starting point. After all, it is equally true that I believe logic is valid as it is that I believe that the Bible is infallible and inerrant.

The reason that I say that “The Word of God is true” is my starting point is precisely because if Scriptures come into conflict with my rationality, or what I logically deduce, then I want to be able to say that the Scripture wins that discussion. Of course, it’s not quite as straightforward as that due to the fact that what I understand Scripture to say—that is, my interpretation of passages—is my logic and reasoning working through the concepts, and so there is a very real sense in which it is impossible for me say “I believe the Bible over my reasoning.” But perhaps it can be better expressed if I say that if my intuitions about reality conflict with my reasoning over what Scripture says, then my reasoning about what Scripture says must trump my intuitions about reality.

I believe that I can find Scriptural support for this view too. For example, Jeremiah 17:9 in the ESV states: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” If our hearts govern our intuitions, as is commonly understood, then we see in this passage already the fact that our intuitions are based in deceit and cannot be fully trusted. In distinction to that, we read of Scripture: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). This passage actually answers the question Jeremiah poses. Who can understand the heart? Answer: the word of God “discern[s] the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Thus, I maintain that I have Scriptural warrant to begin with the idea that Scripture trumps my intuitions. Therefore, if I intuit something must be true, must be moral, must be logical, and yet Scripture seems to state the opposite, my task will not be to “wish away” Scriptures’ claims. I must be able to either come to an understanding of Scripture in such a way that does no violence to the meaning of the text and yet still harmonizes with my view, or I must jettison my view. In no case can I jettison the Scriptural passage. My view must harmonize with Scripture or I must change my view and accept what the Scripture says.

Again, I point out that I am not stating that I have done this. I believe that I have, and I hope that I have, but again I am assured by Scripture that my heart is deceitful and I could be in error. Therefore, I must not speak too dogmatically. I must ensure that I have Scriptural support for every position that I maintain is actually true, and I must be able to clearly distinguish between those points of view and speculation about those views. This area becomes a bit more difficult for the reason that much of Scripture is not as clear as we’d like it to be, and there is quite a bit of theology that is gained through implication rather than through direct statements. There is nothing wrong with following an argument that is implied, but it is obviously much more difficult to do so than it is to follow an explicitly stated argument.

This means that in a sense we can speak of three different levels of my beliefs. The level that corresponds to my strongest beliefs is where (I believe) I have explicit statements from the Scriptures to warrant accepting such beliefs. The next strongest beliefs are going to be those that (I believe) I have implicit arguments drawn from explicit facts of Scripture that warrant accepting those beliefs. My weaker beliefs are going to be those which are speculative. They will likewise consist of two parts: the strongest version being speculations consistent with explicit statements of Scripture; the weakest, those consistent with implicit statements of Scripture. The weakest beliefs that I will hold will be those beliefs for which there is no Scriptural warrant at all, yet which do not contradict anything of Scripture.

Incidentally, if properly done, even these weakest of beliefs can still be pretty strong. For example, I believe events happened in our nation’s history which are pretty accurately represented in history books. Yet I have no basis in Scripture to believe that, say, the Civil War began in 1861. Yet the belief that the Civil War began in 1861 also does not contradict Scripture, and therefore there is no reason for me to reject the belief that the Civil War began in 1861 on a Biblical basis.

Given this example, I hope to make it clear that I do not believe that we can know no truth outside of Scripture. There is plenty of truth that we can understand and hold fast to that has no Biblical warrant. I am merely stating that truth does not contradict anything about the Scripture. When I say that these will be my weakest beliefs, it is only in reference to theology. I could easily continue my hierarchy for such views (for example, views that are logically necessary and not contradictory to Scripture are above views which are merely possible and not contradictory to Scripture). However, this would move me beyond the scope of the present work.

In point of fact, for this, I do not want to dwell much on any of these “weakest” beliefs. Instead, I want to focus primarily on the strongest beliefs, with only a dash of the weaker beliefs here and there for seasoning. It may be necessary to take a dip into one or two of the absolutely weakest beliefs along the way (such as bare facts of history). But since the further we stray from the certainty of Scripture, the more likely it is for error to creep in, then I am going to try to avoid that unless absolutely necessary. In short, therefore, this will be dealing almost exclusively with explicit statements of Scripture and implicit arguments derived from those explicit statements. There will be very little of pure logic applied here divorced from Scripture.

If done correctly (and I understand that I bear the burden to demonstrate that I’ve done it correctly), when I am finished my patterns of thoughts ought to be fully traceable back to how they are derived from Scripture itself. Obviously, it is still possible that I may misinterpret a passage of Scripture. I will not claim that my views are without any error at all. But, in setting them this way, I am giving anyone who objects the ability to grab hold of my thoughts at the level by which you could convince me to alter my beliefs. Namely, if you can demonstrate where I have made a mistake in interpreting Scripture, then you will be able to convince me to change my views—up to the point at which my heart’s deception may render correction impossible.

It should also be noted that I expect the same of you. If you do not believe the Scriptures trump your intuitions, then it is quite likely that you will find this work of little benefit. I also do not intend to convince anyone that my views about the nature of Scripture are correct. Either you already accept this view or you do not, and this is not the place to try to convince you.

If you do believe that Scripture trumps your intuition, and you begin by rejecting my point of view, it is my prayer that my arguments will be sufficiently close to accurately representing the totality of Scripture that you will become convinced, not by my arguments but by the actual word of God, to agree with me. Conversely, if I err, I likewise pray that you can present a counter argument that is sufficiently close to accurately representing the totality of Scripture that I will become convinced, not by your arguments but by the actual word of God, to agree with you.

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Patrick Rating: 0
This is great! Good stuff, Peter. I shall look forward to more! :-)


Posted: December 27, 2016 (7:35 PM) by CalvinDude
Just before Christmas, I started work on this piece. I just finished it today.

If you like it, click "Like" on YouTube :-)

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Kent McDonald Rating: 0
Peter! Excellent beginning! Not everyone has the intellect and communication skills to do what you are beginning. There are polemics written everyday that build houses of straw, that shape buckets that leak, that will ignite no fire in the heart. Thank you for being the exception.

It's been a while (plus an update on the Factor Field)

Posted: December 19, 2016 (3:21 PM) by CalvinDude
I know it's been a while. Stuff has been happening that will soon become worth talking about here, but until then...

Well, I've managed to make a video on the Factor Field, for those who don't want to read what I wrote before. (No biggie either way.)

Here ya go:

More content will come soon.

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Posted: November 16, 2016 (9:58 AM) by CalvinDude
The sermon at the church I attended Sunday was taken from Matthew 16:13-16. I’d like to add in verse 17 here:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
The first aspect of this verse deals with the person of Jesus Christ. We see Him first ask, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Now, I’ve always thought that this question was meaning “Who do people say that I am?” especially given the very next question that Jesus asked. But consider the answer that the disciples gave begins with, “Some say John the Baptist.”

But Jesus and John the Baptist were contemporaries. In fact, they had been seen together at the same time, given John the Baptist baptized Jesus! The answer, “Some say John the Baptist”, seems to imply that the disciples were not adding in the aspect of Jesus = Son of Man to the question, and it was surely the case that those in the area may have thought John the Baptist was the Son of Man precisely because they did not think Jesus Himself was. (Note: this does not mean that the disciples did not know Jesus was the Son of Man, but rather that they were answering His specific question about what other people said.)

In any case, Jesus clearly links Himself to the Son of Man and takes that identifier on by asking, “But who do you say that I am?” as His next question. The “you” in the question is plural, so it was addressed to all the disciples. Peter responds on behalf of everyone by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Christ and Messiah both mean “Anointed One”, so Peter is starting off by saying “You are the Anointed One.” But even more important than that title is that Peter links Christ to God Himself, in saying “You are the Son of the living God.” This statement would have been considered blasphemy by the Jews at the time.

Jesus’ response is quite telling though. He says Peter is blessed, “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven [did].” In other words, when Peter says “You are the Son of God” Jesus responds “God revealed this fact to you.”

Now it is perhaps easy for us to glide over the importance of the fact that flesh and blood did not tell Peter this. What is meant by “flesh and blood”? It means it did not come from a physical source, such as Peter reasoning it out or through what he had been taught. God Himself made it known to Peter.

Here’s an interesting question to ask about that though. The fact that Jesus proclaimed that it was God who revealed this to Peter seems to indicate that Peter did not know that he had this knowledge from God. That is, Peter knew something because God had revealed it to him, but he did not know that he knew it because God had revealed it to him. It took Jesus revealing that information for Peter to know that he had actually gained the knowledge supernaturally.

This implies that it is possible for people to sometimes know something without knowing why they know it. And more than that, it is possible for a person to know spiritual truth without knowing that it was God who revealed it to them. That’s a pretty astonishing thing, when you think about it.

Of course, there’s no word here as to how frequently that happens, but we can know for sure that it did happen to Peter at this point.

In any case, Jesus’ words also strike me for another reason. In seeing the words “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you”, I am immediately reminded of John 3:6, where Jesus says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” This idea is also closely represented in 1 Corinthians 2 and in Romans 8 as well. Let me quote those passages too.

1 Corinthians 2:10-14:
[T]hese things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Romans 8:5-10:
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
What these passages all have in common is the fact that God must reveal Himself to those who would believe in Him. When Peter answered Jesus, it might be tempting for someone to say, “Sure, the Father revealed it to Peter then, but that doesn’t mean that He must reveal Himself to all people.” But the other passages above run counter to that possibility.

Let us look at this logically for a moment. Here are some of the facts presented by these passages.

1) Spirit is necessary to beget spirit (from John 3).
2) Only the spirit of a person knows the thoughts of a person (from 1 Corinthians 2).
3) Those without the Spirit do not belong to God (from Romans 8).
4) The natural person does not accept the things of God because they are foolishness to him (from 1 Corinthians 2).
5) The natural person is at war with God’s law and cannot submit to it (from Romans 8).

Now, given all these facts, we ask: How did Peter know that Jesus was Christ? First, we can argue the following:

6) I say that “Jesus is Christ” is a spiritual truth.
7) Therefore, the natural person cannot accept that Jesus is Christ (step 4).
8) Therefore, to say that “Jesus is Christ” one must not be a “natural person” (i.e., one must be saved) (deduction from 6 & 7).

Interestingly, the Bible seems to flat out state step 8 too: “[E]very spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (1 John 4:3).

But we can continue a bit. Let us restate 6) and continue:

6) (restated): I say that “Jesus is Christ” is a spiritual truth.
9) Therefore, only the Spirit can reveal this (step 1).


10) Therefore, the one who says this might belong to God (step 3).

Now, 10) really should say that the one who says this absolutely does belong to God, but the logic of what we presented so far doesn’t allow that conclusion. After all, I could say, “Pencils that are not in my desk are not owned by me” but this wouldn’t mean that I would own your pencil if you put it in my desk. Similarly, just because those without the Spirit do not belong to God doesn’t, by itself, guarantee that those with the Spirit always do belong to God. So to fix that, let me just point out: “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13).

Now what can we conclude from this? We know logically that Peter believed because it was given to him by the Father, even though it does not appear that Peter even knew that it had been revealed by the Father. But the other passages clarify that it is not just Peter who knows spiritual truths in this manner, but all of us do. Anyone who is able to recognize that Jesus is the Son of the living God can only do so because it is revealed to us. We must have the Spirit and we cannot be the natural man at this point, because the natural man cannot understand spiritual truths at all.

Just as Peter was blessed because the information he had about Christ was given to him by the Father, so too all who know Christ are blessed because the information is given to us by God. There is no one who is saved who was not given this spiritual truth.

And what is really amazing is something you might not have caught yet. Did you notice that sometimes I write about the information being revealed by the Father, and sometimes by the Spirit, and sometimes by the Spirit of Christ? That’s because each of those is true. The passages I’ve mentioned above are, together, Trinitarian in orientation.

Salvation is not, as some would have it, merely the Son and Spirit obeying the will of the Father. The entire Godhead is in agreement on salvation, and works together to accomplish it. The Father, the Spirit of Christ, and the Holy Spirit each work to reveal His truth to believers in the passages I’ve quoted above. They all work together to illuminate the truth in us. That’s pretty amazing, when you stop and think about it.

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Public/Private Key Pairs

Posted: November 14, 2016 (12:20 PM) by CalvinDude
This weekend, I worked on a little project. It's designed to help people communicate via e-mail without eavesdroppers gaining information. Why is this useful? Well, I've had my boss text message me a link to a fridge from a local store, and the next time I logged onto Facebook all the ads were for that exact model of fridge. The same thing happens with e-mail. Your providers are reading all of them (actually, they're using a computer algorithm to pick out certain words, but the principal is the same).

So supposing you wanted to avoid that, a great way to do so would be through encryption. But there are several different types of encryption available. What is the best?

That depends largely on what you want to do and how you want to communicate. The absolute best method of encryption involves the use of a one-time pad. As the name suggests, it's something that's used only one time. The problem is that both the sender and receiver have to have access to the same one-time pad. This means that you have to get that pad to the recipient without it being compromised (i.e., you can't exactly just e-mail the pad or the e-mail client will be able to use it, should the programmers so desire to extract that information).

One of the best methods remaining actually involves giving out information far and wide in the form of a public key. Mathematically, you can create a key pair such that you can use one part of the pair (the public key) to encrypt data that only the other part of the key pair (the private key) can decrypt. Thus, you can send the public key to everyone and anyone can use it to encrypt a message to you that only you can decipher, because you are the only person with the private key.

But how does such a concept work? It works because in math you can have some operations that are really easy to do in one direction and extremely difficult to do in the other direction. For most people, that can easily be demonstrated just by pointing out that it's usually far easier to multiply two numbers than it is to divide two numbers. For example, it's very easy to multiply, say, 57 x 49. It might take you some time and paper, but nearly everyone who reads this blog will be able to do it pretty quickly by hand and show that 57 x 49 = 2793.

But consider this instead. What is 2664 divided by 37? That one is a lot trickier to solve by hand! (The answer, which you can check with a calculator, is 72 in case you were wondering.)

Now, both multiplication and division are pretty easy for us to do these days because we have calculators. But there are mathematical functions that are easy to do in one way and nearly impossible to do in reverse, even using calculators and computers. This includes factorization techniques (involving multiplying two extremely large prime numbers together), the use of elliptic curves, or using discrete logarithms.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter which method is used as long as it is difficult for someone to be able to figure out the private key even when they know what the public key is. And because that difficulty exists, the public key can be shared and you can still be confident your messages are secure (you can never be 100% positive, of course, but that's true of even making it safely across the street when you're crossing).

So if you want to share messages using this system, the person who wants to send you the file needs your public key. They then use that to encrypt the file and send it to you. It's important to note that at this point, even the original person can no longer decrypt the file (of course, they can read the original unencrypted file just fine) because it can only be decrypted using the private key. The file is then sent to you and you use your private key to decrypt it.

Now, if you want to respond to them in an encrypted manner, you need their public key. You encrypt the message and send it to them and only they can decrypt it. Ultimately, what this means is that if you want to exchange encrypted messages, the sender needs to know the recipient's public key. The encryption is then tailored specifically for that person's private key such that no one else will be able to read it.

How secure can we be in this method of communication? As secure as we can be about any other method. After all, if you're wanting to have secure channels of communication for other reasons than just to block advertisers, you should bear in mind that the gummit (or whoever) is far more likely to just bug your house conventionally and spy on you with other means, including implanting malware on your devices, than it would be to try to decrypt your messages. In fact, as far as I can tell, the only reason a police force would even try to decrypt your messages is after the fact--as in, they weren't suspecting you before but now you got arrested and they want to know what your encrypted e-mails are. But at that point, they'll probably already have access to your private key since they'll have your actual computer too.

So, for all intents and purposes, if you're just working at securing your online presence and want to make it difficult for corporations to eavesdrop, then encryption is great technique to do so. If you're paranoid and seeking to hide all your traces, you will have thousands of more holes to patch before you'll need to worry about the strength of your ciphers.

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