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« The story of the missional church - Steve Hayner | Main | Is this the way you feel about your church? »

September 05, 2007


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Vickey Silvers

I am an editor for which is a social network dedicated to the christian community. As I look through your web site I feel a collaboration is at hand. I would be inclined to acknowledge your website offering it to our users as I'm sure our Pentecostal audience would benefit from what your site has to offer. I look forward to your thoughts or questions regarding the matter.

Vicky Silvers

Samik Nath

Taleb hates to relate authoring with the background, still, it appears mystic and philosophical influence drove him to write this. Focusing on unknowledge rather than knowledge would give us less confidence but necessary margin of safety. He is claiming himself to be empiricist but he is a stricter mathematician of asking for water-tight "proof" as far as risk is concerned. To him "exception does not prove the rule" - reason is we do not know and can not anticipate depth of the impact of such exceptions. To him negation of "for all" i.e. "there exists" at least one exception should blow up any platonic (aka so called realist) model. However in this context I would like to say plato himself saved the theory conjecturing cave allegory - where each cave man is seeing the projection of reality. Problem is how big is this cave or this box? How can we think out of the box? We can maximum, at best, know the boundary of the box. That's what Kurt Goedel proved. Thnking "out of the box" is impossible. US SEC chairman said in the Capitol Hill - seeing the financial system ( or any system so to say ) is like a few blind men touching the tusk or trunk or tail and legs and interpreting the parts as the "full elephant". Limitation is known, reason is we all are in the cave, but some can see a broader areas than many of us. So modeling is inevitable. Although arrogance of modeller, I admit, make many of us blind follower of the model. However, taleb's view is just another projection of reality which is quite interesting. It is the model of a stoic and skeptic, but less of an empiricist - because empiricist does not demand proof for "for all" cases and negation of "for all" does not invalidate empiricists decision - such business is more of a people who are pure mathematician or of a (great) meta-mathematician like Kurt Godel.

Unknown Unknown has an infinite domain. Existentialists handle the related epistemology in terms of negation, which is vast in nature. Identification of an object using negation is root of various philosophies. For an existentialist, it is generator of uncertainity resulting anguish. From this standpoint, ideologically there is an intersection between Taleb's thought and post-WW2 existentialism. (Treatise on negation is more wide in Sartre than his predecessors). He ended the book nicely. Yes, we are the Black Swan - that we are kicking and living with consciosness in this eventful cosmos. However, ordinary people like ourselves would like to live with the "smallness" of living - small happiness, joy, and other positive emotions, ... we will even derive pleasure from hurting others or passing comments or being sarcastic on somebody... yes, that's what life is. Just because there could be a black swan would make many of us a patient of "anxiety neurosis".

It felt very good to me that, at the end, Taleb did not identify happiness with economic utility. He demanded guts from the people to face consequences of happiness seeking, even compromising the 'economic utility'. If you want to live in your own terms to be happy, then you need to pay the price. Here Taleb's happiness is close the 'pleasure' of Oscar Wilde as described in Picture Of The Dorian Gray ("Who wants happiness! I want pleasure" and art is for art's sake - it may not have any utility. Ultimately living is an art and aesthetics is there in your own mind).

I carefully noted that Taleb showed gratitude to his anti-school ( Merton the Junior). I was looking for it in fact. Had he not showed that he learnt from Merton as well, It would leave a lot of doubt on him. To deal with 'unknowlege' , 'knowledge' is a pre-requisite. Then, as an empiricist ( read practitioner ) throw-away both knowledge and unknowledge if you want to participate in the game of life. Taleb wrote effectively that an Olympic Champion swimmer may not need thorough knowledge on fluid-mechanics or hydro-dynamics. Same in finance - if you want to participate, just be there and lose or win (be a FAT TONY with brooklyn accent) . People are still craving to live in a house on riviera. They do not leave the place, because they think a Tsunami will never wash away the riviera in their lifetime. We will still go to a doctor and ask for medicine when we fall ill. Confidence is a belief, not knowledge. We will continue to take Unknown Unknown into confidence and act upon it and will continue to commit mistakes in handling it. A leftist revolutionaizing ideologically against the system ( or against Greenspan) will throw stones and execute the rightist. But in turn he/she will build a system which too will be fallible. Long live dynamics! Long live dialectics.Rest is ghetto. No worries! Have a graceful and nice life! Apology for too much of babbling from my side. ( P.S. I write an apology in the last line because I expect if you read this review you will read at least 1st and last line).


Dear Ed,

I understand what you have been through as I've been through the same experience myself. About ten years ago I left my formal Church and left the world of denominations and strict rule based prescriptions. And ended up discovering a loving God through the Bible. Afterall, the two only two things Christians must do is to love your God with all your heart mind and strength and to love your neighbour as you love yourself. The whole idea of a "golden mean" Christian does make for a schizophrenic Christian experience as all have fallen short of the glory of God and it is when we are weak the He is strong.

This experience has actually freed me up to be able to outreach to others without pretending to be perfect. I spend so much less time defending myself and so much more time sharing about my weaknesses and how God loves us regardless of those.

Just wanted to say that what you said in your blog is one of the first (and few) things that actually makes sense in a theological context to me. Almost like I have found a kindred soul as so many Christians out there still strive for the golden mean.

By the way, I just finished reading The Black Swan and what an interesting book that was. Certainly made me think about the number of things that we do not understand in this World. All the more reason that we need God!


"The kingdom of the father will not come by expectation, it will not see here, see there, is already upon the earth and the men don't see it"

I´ll put "...just happen that Humans cannot see it, We should accept it although keep trying see more and more"


The only evidence you have for anything whatsoever is everything that is arising to and as your present (NOW) time conscious awareness.

Everything else is conjecture. Useful enough in terms of a collective consensus for getting the necessary practical things of living done.

And what happens to all of your seemingly concrete certainties when you (whatever you are) enter into the formless state of dreamless deep sleep.

Are you still a Christian in the this formless state?

What, therefore has what may or may not have happened in Palestine 2000 years ago, got to to with living creatively and intelligently and with great passion NOW, and in every moment.

When was 2000 years ago?
Where was or is Palestine?

Ed Brenegar

Thanks for your eloquent comment, Thomas.
My perspective is that we are at the end of two thousand years of Neo-Platonic dualistic thinking. Aristotle's more realistic perspective is on the rise. The problem I have with Platonic thought is that sets up false dichotomies. Good vs. evil is the most familiar. I find this overly simplistic and not biblical. A more balanced view is to see humanity as a mixture of good and evil, and that we have a choice as to whether to encourage or nurture one or the other. There is a lot of denial of responsibility in spiritual thought. Denial of not only the inherent goodness of humanity as created in the image of God, but denial of our own ability to keep sin at bay. That doesn’t mean we can become perfect, and it doesn’t mean fatalism is the answer either. I find Aristotle much more realistic and down to earth and his view of humanity less a theory about us and more an observation from experience. Plato, for all the good that came from his thought, elevated theory about observation and practice. As a result, we bend truth to fit our theories. We pay the price as a result. For me this is the source of most church schisms.


I like your thinking. There is a theory that as the state of humanity goes, so goes its tendency to either default to Plato (ideals/Forms) or to "rediscover" Aristotle (sensory-based interpretation of the world). St. Augustine vs. St. Thomas Aquinas, if you will (elementary for you I'm sure!). Not sure which way the world leans now, but I would think it's leaning more towards Plato, which takes too much out of our hands and leaves it all to God, or Jesus, or Allah; that's unfortunate, because my Aristotelian mind and soul know that although God is always and everywhere, He did create us to experience this world for ourselves, and to live and act in a manner befitting His prized masterpieces.


Okay, Okay - I'll read The Black Swan.

And thank you for the illustration of Boy Scouts as a confessional organization which seeks to live out its confession.

Ed Brenegar

The beginning of wisdom is to admit that you don't know anything absolutely. That our theories are attempts to create a secure, certain world where God and Christ are part of the picture. Instead, our security is believing that Christ is all, and I'll never fully know that belief in this life, hence, life is faith in action.

Pastor M

This certainly helps clarify all the furor over Mother Teresa's admission of doubt and even seeming unbelief. Contrast that with EWTN's Mother Angelica, whom I doubt (there's that word again) would ever admit to such things.

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