基督教思想史第二部 – 第五章:調解的新方式 (上)

十九世紀後期綜合神學崩潰﹐扭曲神學的基本要素﹐令神學陷入虛無主義的危機。傳統神學無力要對歷史批判和哲學批判﹐任何神學思想也受到質疑。於是神學家嘗試找出調解的新方法﹐回答如何能夠肯定基督教思想的問題。

經驗與聖經信息
德國的Erlangen學派認為應以宗教經驗主導。客觀的真相可以受到質疑﹐但經驗能夠超越主觀和客觀的分野。人能夠憑藉遇上神的經驗﹐去確認神在內心處的存在。新舊約事件的歷史真確性﹐可以用其對我的影響來保證。基督教沒有教宗和教庭的權威﹐所以要尋找神學根據的問題。可是天主教也同樣有神學根據的問題﹐天主教也要通過聖靈的經驗﹐來肯定教會的權威。我們不能用歷史去回答耶穌的問題﹐因為歷史沒有百份百的答案﹐或多或少也留有懷疑的空間。可是若我們說發生在自身的改變時﹐我們就是在說宗教經驗。

神學家Martin Kahler認為主觀的宗教經驗還不足夠﹐還要配合客觀上聖經的見證。換一句話說﹐就是我們要接受人非無限性﹐人不可能對宗教有絕對的肯定。他認為人的罪不單是道德上的罪﹐還是智慧上的罪﹐因此疑懷神並不會使我們與神分離。他認為人不能通過歷史﹐只能通過信心﹐去找尋真實的耶穌。人對耶穌的信心﹐是獨立放新約本身的歷史可信性之外。

「回到康德去」運動
Ritschlian學派主張重返康德的神學﹐因為康德的先驗性道德準則﹐能夠讓人超越有限性。這神學反對任何形式的神秘主義﹐包括上一段說的經驗神學﹐把信心建立在歷史的真實性之上﹐他認為宗教是喚醒人的道德。基督教的功用就是道德可能性﹐而聖神只可以從道德中浮現出來。這神學從本體論的爭議中撒退﹐退到道德哲學﹐救贖的功用是精神對自然的勝利。 在這神學否定神的力量﹐把神的慨念簡約為愛﹐救贖簡化為寬恕﹐刪減審判和神的憤怒在現實的虔誠。這學一脈相承啟蒙主義﹐康德哲學和整過人文精神的傳統。

基督教思想史第二部 – 第四章﹕普遍綜合的崩潰(下)

唯意志論和生命哲學

唯意志論是推倒黑格爾綜合系統的最後一個神學思潮。人並不是物質﹐也不是人格﹐而是意志。唯意志論最初源於聖奧古斯定的哲學﹐他認為真實就是意志﹐而意志就是愛。神的愛就是對自我意志的肯定。中世紀方濟各會的神學傳統﹐承接聖奧古斯定和柏拉圖的思想﹐為認意志先於智慧。與之相對的是道明會的神學傳統﹐承接聖多瑪仕和亞里士多德的思想﹐認為智慧先於意志。自康德(Kant)以來的神學思潮﹐均是智慧派佔上風。中世紀神學家Scotus認為神是純意志的存在﹐但在Ockham的神學則變成不理性的意志。若果神是純意志的話﹐祂可以做任何他想做的事情﹐那他就沒有各羅思(Logos)的限制。世界則變成全無規則可尋﹐人類不可能對神有任何期望﹐神甚至可以把善惡倒轉﹐把殺人變成善愛人變成是惡。

叔本華(Schopenhauer)的唯意志論很悲觀主義﹐他是把佛教思想帶進西方哲學的第一人。他認意志就是無我﹐人的意志就是要讓人達到不再有意志無欲無救的境界﹐他認為死亡是人的最終救贖。他的學生尼釆(Nietzsche)的唯意志論則是樂觀主義﹐他用生命來表達意志的意思。意志並不是心理現像﹐而是一個普世的生命動力。尼釆認為力量就是自我肯定﹐意志的力量就是肯定生命﹐肯定自我的存在。尼釆認為基督教的公義﹐羅各斯﹐愛等慨念﹐是源於眾群對權力階級的反抗。他認為愛這個慨念很有問題﹐現代語言把古希臘四種不同的愛混淆了。他認為基督教的愛﹐簡約化為仁愛的愛﹐而忽略了對生命的愛。他認為無私自我犧牲的愛﹐令弱小的人投降自我尋求保護﹐是一種剝削別人的愛﹐。

尼釆的名言是上帝已死﹐但不是無神論者或自然主義對有神論的批論。他是指若果神的慨念被推翻的必然結果﹐是社會構建的道德傳統也會同時間被推翻。神的死亡是一個象徵說法﹐其實是若人不再信神﹐就有一定要有人去取代神去傳統價值。人類不再有神或客觀真理﹐不再說應該要做或不應該做的事情﹐取而代之是說想做什麼事情﹐想行善還是行惡。尼釆的超人論受達爾文進化論的影響﹐他認為人類會在教育﹐靈性﹐道德﹐甚至生理上﹐會從低等一路進化到高等。他認為民眾害怕與眾不同﹐對人生意義毫不關心﹐沉悶﹐犬儒空虛﹐他認為我們社會充斥著虛無主義。他認為永生是無限的循環。

How to demoralize your employees

My company just make a perfect demonstration on how to demoralize your employees. The economy is bad, everywhere is cutting jobs or costs, our company is the same. However, there are two ways of cost cutting, the smart way or the stupid way. Other than usual cost reduction deals like cut down the travel budget, lay off some employees and box Kleenex, the CEO just inform us there are two unusual cuts. The first cut is the company RRSP contribution, the retire fund, which roughly equal to 5% of pay cut. This one is understandable, we are unhappy about it, but doesn’t cause too much grief. The second cut is like dropping a fire ball into the crowd.

According to BC law, employees who got laid off get about 1 month per year of employment in severance package. It is quite expensive for the company to lay off anyone here. The CEO want us sign a new contract, limiting the severance to 2 weeks per year and capped at 6 months total. The new contract is so far so good if it is given enough incentive. However, the only benefit for signing the new contract is we are allow to keep our stock options, which is worthless anyways. Anyone with a right mind will not sign the contract. You forfeit half of your severance package for virtually nothing!

The new contract on its own is just plain stupid, but the CEO’s Q&A session make it out-outrageous. It is obvious we will ask why should we sign such as stupid contract. The CEO replied that the cost of doing business is too high in Canada. He threaten us that too expensive to lay people off will make the company stop having further investment in Canada. He pull up some statistic citing it is really too expensive. If we read the number, the Canada is about the same as other developed countries, like UK, Germany, France, Japan, the only exception is US. The most outrageous part is that the CEO present it in such a way that if we sign the contract, we will have better job security, but it doesn’t make sense at all. How can you get more job security by making the company easier to lay you off?

I think his threat is just a bluff. The investment decision won’t affect by whether or not we all sign the new contract. The new hire has to sign the new contracts. US is cheaper to lay people off, but more expensive to hire. Most employee in our Silicon Valley office is already laid off. Our cost is still too high comparing to India or China even if we sign the new contract If we are really too expensive, the jobs will go to India or China regardless whether we sign the new contract. Signing the new contract will only the cut happen sooner than later, if the cut is inevitable.

If the company really want us to sign the new contract, they should give us some incentive, say a buy out of $1000 per year of employment. Treating us like idiots and try to use an empty threat to make us sign the new contract really hurt the moral in the company. I guess the lost of productivity is already more expensive than the saving they could even get from the new contract.

基督教思想史第二部 – 第四章﹕普遍綜合的崩潰(中)

祈克果的存在主義神學

祈克果(Kierkegaard)反對黑格爾的精神學說﹐他不認為人的主觀精神﹐能夠通過宗教和哲學﹐與神的絕對精神融合。他認為人活在存在的領域﹐在這領域中融合未曾發生﹐存在就是要對善與惡作出決擇。祈克果在生時候對十九世紀神學影響不大﹐但他的思想對二十世紀存在主義思潮很有淵源。他認為每個人在神要前也是孤獨﹐世界上的一切也不能解放他活在世上的責任。人會為自己的自由感到焦慮的矛盾﹐一方面為受到限制沒有自由﹐不能真正的存在而焦慮﹐另一方面也為行使自由而失去自我感到焦慮。自由產生墮落﹐墮落產生罪惡感的焦慮。人沒有辨法逃避罪惡感﹐就算自殺也不能消除罪惡感﹐只能夠憑信心的一躍去跳出焦慮。

黑格爾認為神與人有內在關係﹐祈克果則認為神從外邊去改變人。他認為客觀有不確定性﹐神學和宗教不可能有客觀的證據。田立克認為信心的一躍有很大的盲點﹐就是人不知道應該往那個方向去跳。若果人知道應該向耶穌的方向跳﹐其實他己經有某個原因才會跳﹐那就不再是毫無理性根據的信心一躍了。祈克果主張廢除教會制度﹐認為結婚生子的牧師是打份工﹐沒有資格去傳講耶穌的無限性。他亦反對任何神學系統﹐認為神學是企圖把存在悖論客觀化。田立克認為祈克果的說法本身自相矛盾﹐若果沒有教會和神學﹐人根本不可能認識神。就算祈克果對教會的批判﹐也是基於二千年的教會和神學。

政治激進主義及其神學意義

馬克思(Karl Marx)的思想影響二十世紀的歷史發展﹐他除了影響政治﹐社會和經濟的思想外﹐他亦是自宗教改革以來最成功的神學家。馬克思批評有組織性的宗教。有些人反對有組織性的宗教﹐但不反對宗教本身。田立克說這根本是無稽之論﹐宗教不可能獨立於組織之外存在﹐因為我們靈修的語言﹐全部也源於有組織性的宗教。馬克思反對唯心論﹐他亦反對黑格爾式的唯物論﹐他否定絕對精神決定歷史流向﹐改為以經濟生產方法去決定歷史流向。他認為人的獨立個體只是幻覺﹐人是社會群體的一份子﹐人不可能從社會現實中抽離。他認為宗教上的滿足﹐並非每個人的希望﹐只是統治階級製造出來﹐防止群眾在現世找到滿足。這亦是他的名言“宗教是人民的鴉片”的出處。田立克認為共產主義是準宗教﹐內在有宗教性的結構﹐不過缺少了向上的超驗結構。正因為黨之上再沒有更高層次﹐所以黨沒有辨法自我批判﹐令共產主義成為極權奴隸制度。

The ah-ha moment

The joy of teaching is witnessing the ah-ha moment. Today I went to the public library to study in the afternoon I usually prefer booth seats since it is more quiet. But all the booths are full today, so I have to share a the big table with two high school students. They were studying chemistry and struggling to understand what is a solution. They discuss with each other trying to find out what the textbook says but obviously they are clueless. I am a bit annoyed by their noise as it is quite distracting. I am also a bit annoyed by their stupidity. How come they could not figure out such a simple concept. I could have shh them or ask them to keep quiet.

On a second thought, all I said to them would be one line anyways, why don’t I just explain what is a solution so they can move on to finish their homework. I told them, “A solution is, if there is a solid and there is a liquid. If you put the solid into the liquid and the solid disappear. The liquid is a solution.” Upon the kid hear my explanation, I can see from his facial expression he finally understand the concept and hear the “ah-ha” sound. After I dealt with the distraction, I felt good and continue on my study. Teaching is not only about the passing on of knowledge, it is also about deriving satisfaction from teaching. Seeing the ability of my words to enlighten another mind, really gives me a sense of satisfaction.

Fake proof personality test

Have you take any personality test? Have you fake any personality test?

We have done many personality tests in school or at work. Those tests are a useful diagnosis tool to know our personality. Armed with the personality data, the school or company can predict our performance in different scenario or form teams members who works well with each other. Most of those tests, such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or Enneatypes, rely on questionnaire to determine with personality type we belongs to. The questionnaire assume you will answer the questions honestly, choose the answer truly reflect your mind. However, we all know how easy to fake the answers. If you are interviewing for a marketing position and the HR give you a MBTI tests. It is very natural to steer your answers to end up being an extrovert, the character type that the HR is looking for.

Old fashion pen and paper personality tests are not very useful, because it is too easy to fake the answer. I have a great idea to create a form of personality test. Other than answering multiple choice questions, a person’s eating behavior can reveal a lot about his personality. Maybe I should devise a new personality test base on what happen on the dining table. Instead of handing out questionnaire to the interviewee, the HR can invite all the interviewees for dinner. Then they can analyze traits of personality type of the interviewees from video tapping the dinner. Actually in business world, many important decisions are made over dining table. If you want to forge a long term relationship with a new business partner, you will know the real him outside of the meeting room. If I create the dining behavior personality test, I can open a consulting firm and offer lucrative personality analysis service. When you dine out with someone, you probably already have a rough idea on what type the person is. My service will give you an objective 3rd party report to double check your intuition. Now, the only obstacle between me and my multimillion dollars personalty test business is my cliche personality test.

明星夢

今天看Soler樂隊與經理人合約官司的新聞﹐才明白我們不應笑後生仔女發明星夢。很多人小時候也會發明星夢﹐幻想將來長大後當歌星影星。可能我比較有自知之明﹐從小到大也沒有發過明星夢﹐一來我不靚仔二來我不懂唱歌﹐當明星大慨這輩子也無望了。反過來我會笑那些發明星夢的人不切實際﹐說做明星不過表面風光﹐除非成功上位當紅透全港的天皇天后﹐當個半紅不黑的明星仔很霉很慘。原來只是吃不到的酸萄萄﹐看了新聞才知明星仔也很能賺錢。

Soler樂隊在香港不算很受觀迎﹐除了出道早期有一兩首歌曲流行過外﹐現在已經消聲匿跡。在一般樂迷心中﹐他們早已是過氣組合﹐可以被歷史遺忘。他們與經理人因合作糾紛單方面解約﹐被經理人公官入稟法院追討提前解約的損失。法庭在今天審結案件﹐判三年經理人合約竟值五百萬之多﹗經理人公司估計三年損失五千萬收入﹐但樂隊在庭上還價也預計收入接近二千萬。新聞中還指出他們演出收費﹐高達每小時二萬元。

雖說Soler是二人組合﹐收入要兩人對分一半。但是工作三年收入千萬﹐簡直比中六合彩還要多錢。他們工作一小時所賺取的錢﹐已經高過一般打工仔一個月的人工了。原來當明星的回報這麼多﹐怪不得這麼多青年發明星夢。不要忘記且他們只是過氣三線歌手﹐可想言知其他更紅的歌手收入如何豐厚了。不過我們反過來應該問問自己﹐連當對社會毫無供獻的三線歌星的收入﹐也比醫生老師高出一大截的時候﹐這還是一個運作有效率的正常社會嗎﹖

基督教思想史第二部 – 第四章﹕普遍綜合的崩潰(上)

黑格爾(Hegel)大慨是神學史上﹐最後一個整合不同神學派別的人。自黑格爾之後﹐雖然有很多人嘗試整合神學﹐但始終走不出黑格爾的框框。

黑格爾學派的分裂
黑格爾相信聖經記載的歷史可靠性﹐但他同時認為就算記載不盡真實﹐也無損聖經中耶穌生平的像徵意義。可是神學家David Friedirch Strauss﹐指出聖經的作者其實另有其人﹐並認為耶穌的誕生和復活並非歷史﹐只用來表達耶穌與神本質的像徵故事。黑格爾的學生Ferfinand Christan Baur﹐運用黑格爾的正反合去申論聖經自身的歷史。正是彼得受傳統猶太教影響的基督信仰﹐反是保羅受希臘哲學影響的基督信仰﹐合出來則成了約翰寫給外邦人的福音。Baur指出聖經自身也是歷史的產品﹐教會中不同觀點的結合孕育出聖經﹐從此改變我們與聖經的關係。黑格爾認為人有關神的認知是從神而來﹐Ludwig Feurebach則從人類學的角度﹐反過來說神是人類創造出來﹐投射人類自身無限可能性。

Schelling對黑格爾的批判
Friedrich Schelling是一個跨幾個世代的哲學家﹐他整合了Kant和Spinoza的哲學﹐為黑格爾哲學奠定基礎。可是他隨的思想時代變化成浪漫主義﹐其後更再轉化為存在主義﹐成為黑爾格的最大批判者。他是一個身份主義者﹐認為身份是主觀和客觀﹐物質和精神連的聯繫。精神存在於物質之中﹐而世界萬物也可以成就人。他認為世界不為人創造出來﹐讓人可以成聖﹐世界本身也有其神性。既然萬物也有神性﹐人當然也有神性。他把被啟蒙年代的道德主義淹蓋的恩寵重新發掘出來。耶穌的教導不只是道德和律法﹐還有可以感受人內在的那一份神性。他認為人可以透過藝術去認識神﹐聖神通過藝術來到人當中。他認為永生不是時空上的永遠存在﹐而是本質上參與神的永恆。他認為自由就是選擇的可能性﹐人選擇背棄原本的神性﹐於是人的墮落是一個無時無刻的狀況﹐而非一次遠古發生的事件。

宗教奮興派及其神學後果
十九世紀開始的復興運動﹐是針對啟蒙知識在終極關懷留下的空洞﹐主張以虔誠的精神來填滿。宗教改革時代的第一波敬虔運動﹐強調要向世界各國傳教﹐讓世人也能得到救贖。十九世紀的第二波敬虔運動﹐除了出口外還有內銷﹐要把福音傳給國內不信的人。他們認為幫助社會上不幸的人是教徒的責任﹐可是他們的責任只於對不幸的人的善行﹐並沒有改革社會制度的想法。復興運動主張回到傳統古典正統神學上﹐並沒有發展神的神學。他們不接受聖經的歷史批判﹐完全照字面意思去理解聖經。當然復興神學不能長久﹐因為歷史只能向前而不能向後。另一個對綜合神學的挑戰來自科學﹐牛頓的物理定律世界觀﹐把神除在自然之外﹐不能干預世界的運行。神創造了自然規律﹐但行神蹟則破壞自然規律﹐帶出神要破壞自己的創造才能救贖人的矛盾。進化論更是對宗教一大打擊。在科學的進迫面前﹐宗教只能節節敗退。只有在科學不能解釋的領域﹐宗教才能用神來填補空洞。田立克認為科學與宗教不是對立﹐根本是兩個不同次元的東西。宗教不應干預科學理論的發展﹐而應該集中在科學永不能觸及的宗教符號領域。用科學去背書神學更是一個大錯誤﹐因為科學發展會改變我們對事物的理解。若果神學是借用科學的基礎上﹐那科學改變了在上面的神學便會倒塔下來。田立克認為不論人做什麼事﹐也是見證神的創造。所以新的科學發現並不是與神對抗﹐而是讓人借著科學去見證神。

Obama is in, what’s next?

Today I watched Obama’s inaugural on the news. Washington is very crowded. According to the news, there are two million people witness the ceremony. It is a historical moment to the Americans. Many people compare Obama to John F. Kennedy. When JFK was elected US president in 1961, he is the Catholic president. In 2008, Obama becomes the first black president. Both of them breaks White Ango-Saxon Protestant male’s monopoly claim to the presidency. We already got a Catholic, a black, what’s next? It is just a matter of time before will be a female president. Hilary Clinton almost become the first female president if she didn’t lose to Obama. After a female president, the next one on the line is probably a gay president. There are gay governor already. It may take sometime before the American consider voting for a gay president. By that time, probably computer is so advance that we have AI smarter than people. If the American willing to vote for a gay, they must as well vote for a robot. Having a robot president is more defining historical moment than having a black president. On a second thought, why don’t we call the robot president Skynet.

Box Kleenex is gone, what’s next?

In a recession market, it is understandable for a company trying its best to cut its budget in order to stay afloat. However, cutting the supply of box Kleenex to the employees is way too cheap. Not only the box Kleenex won’t save the company much money, it also send the wrong signal to the employee. There is a fine line between financial conservative and simply stingy, cutting the box Kleenex definitely had crossed the line.

Now box Kleenex is gone, what’s next? I am pretty sure the company is seriously considering cutting the toilet paper. Maybe that’s why they send us to India, prepare us for a paperless toilet. Instead of having toilet paper in the toilet, they will put a small bucket in each stall like in the Indian office. After you done your business, you can fill up the bucket with water and then use it to clean your bottom. Then maybe they will cut the utensils in cafeteria. Why waste money on plastic forks or money to wash the metal forks. We can eat with our hands too! The only thing that you have to remember is the left hand is the toilet hand, the right hand is the eating hand. Don’t mix up!