Wedding Gift

When Maryam and I were married in November 1984, I worked during the day at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and in the evenings on my dissertation. Having limited time and a limited budget, I did not have a television and did not want one, having been a television addict as a kid. Although I […]

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The Other Stephen Hiemstra

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:5) My father, which I sometimes introduce as the other Stephen Hiemstra, was born on April 17, 1931 during the Great Depression. He grew up on a small, […]

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The Scientific Method and Objective Truth

The scientific method is a learning method that led to many discoveries about the physical world that have defined the modern period. Discoveries in agricultural production, medicine, and manufacturing have alleviated hunger and poverty, and have extended the life expectancy of the vast majority of people since the early nineteenth century. These discoveries has so […]

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Analysis versus Synthesis

It is common for people to say that they plan to analyze an issue, but what do they really mean? Suppose your professor asks you to analyze an author’s point of view and review his book. Typically, an analysis involves breaking a big idea into the smaller ideas that together compose the big idea. For […]

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Rational Learning

“Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Rev 3:8 ESV) Earlier in my preface, I argued that the act of knowing brings us closer to […]

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Behavioral Learning

In my earlier discussion of perceptions (click here), I argued that we learn to respond behaviorally a long time before any rational decisions are made. Behavioral learning starts with a simple idea: do more of activities that bring pleasure and do less of activities that bring pain. By contrast, rational learning starts with making comparisons: […]

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The Goads

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. And I said, Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 26:14-15) Friends in Christ sometimes ask how my marriage to a Muslim has informed my faith and call to […]

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Looking the Part

“Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.” (Ps 26:1) Seminary studies involve a number of transitions beyond the obvious academic challenges that can be especially difficult because they require changes from not only the student but also the community of faith that […]

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Dedication

One of the enduring memories of my experience as a camp counselor in my Boy Scout years occurred when I was asked to teach a troop of special needs scouts how to swim. By the end of the week, however, two of these scouts were swimming. Both had the swim routine down before I met […]

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The World of Perception

One of the oldest photographs of me as a baby shows me in a high chair. I am smiling with my hands in the air and oatmeal on my face wearing a diaper and a top covered with a bib. The date on the photograph is February 1954 which means that I was about two […]

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