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Thank you for visiting us! In addition to the information given on this website, we also blog regularly on education, society, life, faith, love, philosophy, human nature and all that make up what Plato and Aristotle called ‘the good life’. Beyond the mundane and material life that surrounds us, we hope this blog can serve as a little oasis to share a more excellent way of thinking, doing and living our lives. So starting from the most recent posts below, do follow us on this journey! And we hope you will drop us a comment or two at to let us know your thoughts or just to let us know how we are doing. =)

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Seeing Two Realities: The Theological Significance of That Dress

So there’s much fun and furore on the Internet today over what colour is that dress really: white & gold or black & blue? As I read with much bemusement the different comments and theories that are posted online about this, a theological insight suddenly stuck me. I realise that we often see reality in terms of dichotomy: we ask, is it white & gold or is it black or blue; we seldom see reality in terms of duality – what if the dress is white, gold, black and blue all together? What if, in some mysterious and unknown way, the threads that make up the dress actually contain all hues of those colours, but our eyes can only see certain ones? What if ultimate reality is like this as well? Just like how those of us who see white and gold can’t understand why some (weird) people see black and blue, and vice versa, we cannot comprehend how two realities can exist in one entity. The prime theological mystery that comes to my mind on this is how Jesus is both God and man at the same time – humanity and divinity c0-existing in one person. Because our human minds are so attuned to ‘either/or’ propositions, we sometimes fail to understand the ‘and’ principle. Another example I think of is how human free will and God’s sovereignty are often understood in terms of a ‘either/or’ dichotomy: if we have free will, God cannot be sovereign; if God is sovereign, then where is our free will? Yet, as Tim Keller pointed out in one of his sermons, it is in understanding and embracing both our free will (and thus our responsibility and actions) and God’s sovereign workings in our lives (and thus our peace and restedness that God is in control over all things) that we can truly appreciate what Bible verses like Proverbs 16:1 mean – “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.”

So…what colour is that dress? =)



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Technology and what it means to be human (II)

In an earlier post, I shared some thoughts on the pervasive influence of technology in our lives today. Interestingly, in a GP Comprehension Passage I read recently, the same theme emerged: that humanity is nearing what Sherry Turkle coins a “robotic moment”, where our reliance on technology is beginning to alter what it means to be human. In her book Alone Together (itself a paradoxical title), Turkle explores a number of fascinating aspects of modern technology:

  1. Projecting human traits and emotions to machines: In an intriguing psychological experiment, subjects are asked to take a Furby (a fluffy robot toy that was popular in the late 90s. It looks part owl, part hamster and is programmed to respond to human attention. It has no intelligence, but it can fake attachment), a Barbie doll and a live gerbil and hold them upside down in turn. The rodent writhes in obvious discomfort and people quickly release it. The Barbie doesn’t react and can be inverted indefinitely. The Furby says “Me scared” in a convincingly infantile voice. People ignore the plea, but only for a few moments. They know the toy has no feelings, but the simulation is enough to provoke empathetic urges. Humans have a tendency to project human traits on to inanimate objects. It only takes a bit of interactivity before our minds go a step further and start projecting consciousness. In Turkle’s observations, the difference between playing with a doll and playing with a robot is the difference between pretence and belief. Even when a replica behaves implausibly, we compensate, filling the gaps in its repertoire with imagined feelings.

  2. Addiction to the Internet: We start with the illusion that technology will give us control and end up controlled. We get Blackberries to better manage our email, but find ourselves cradling them in bed first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Children compete with mobile phones for their parents’ attention. Those children, meanwhile, are absorbed in the digital world in a way that older generations, with memories of analogue living, can barely comprehend. Turkle interviews teenagers who are morbidly afraid of the telephone. They find its immediacy and unpredictability upsetting. A phone call in “real time” requires spontaneous performance; it is “live”. Text messages and Facebook posts can be honed to create the illusion of spontaneity.

  3. Privacy: This digital generation also expects everything to be recorded. In any social situation, there are phones with cameras that relay personal triumphs and humiliations straight to the web. Turkle’s interviews debunk the myth that web-savvy kids don’t care about privacy. Rather, they see it as a lost cause. The social obligation to be part of the network is too strong even for those who resent the endless exposure. Teenagers perform on the digital stage, suppressing anxiety about who is lurking in the audience. From that anxiety flows ever greater reliance on technology to mediate human relations. Human beings can be needy, capricious, threatening, but at least calls can be diverted, emails blocked, Facebook friends “unfriended”. Turkle sees this too as a symptom of incipient roboticism. The network encourages narcissism, teaching us to think of other people as a problem to be managed or a resource to be exploited.

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