He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. - Aeschylus

Credentials, Methods, & Biases

I hope you enjoy my writing and truly benefit from it, whether by learning something or unlearning something.   I strive to step inside the worldviews of others and wear them around for a while to understand them better.  My desire is to take the most precisely accurate understanding of other views before critiquing them, and I am certainly open to correction when I fail.  I'm all too aware that what I am doing is fraught with potential for a great deal of error, so constructive feedback is appreciated.

It generally helps to know where an author is coming from, so I want to be very candid about my background and my methods, which shape how I think and what sorts of conclusions I find more amenable.


Though this is a blog for my work in philosophy and religion, and I have taken many philosophy courses (in the philosophy of science, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of mind), I did not finish a degree in Philosophy.  My first degree is a B.S. in English Language and Literature. My second degree is a B.S. in Information Technology.  I am to a large extent an autodidact, learning about other views by utilizing primary sources, commentaries on them by those both inside and outside the tradition of the source material, and multiple translations where possible.


My methods vary depending on the goal, as most people's methods do.  But at bottom, I'm an empiricist.  My personal experience contains all the data I have in each moment, though my personal experience grows larger over time as I learn.

When my goal is to answer a specific question, I like to start with evidence-based definitions when thinking through an issue.  I often check dictionaries or encyclopedias to make sure I'm starting from the right place, and I consider alternative definitions and the evidence for them as well.  And even after the definitions are settled, I strive to take into account as many counter-arguments and as much evidence which runs counter to my preferred conclusion as possible.  This is necessary when I have a preferred conclusion which my confirmation bias might lead me to affirm without checking the evidence against it.  Sometimes when I attempt to answer a question, I don't have a preferred conclusion yet, and in those cases I just look at as much evidence and argumentation as possible.

When my goal is to present my existing view eloquently, I still double-check definitions. My more polemical pieces still sometimes address counter-arguments, but generally in those I take the view that the best defense is a good offense.

When my work examines the views of others, I try to see as many valid points as possible in it to offset the natural human tendency to dismiss anything we don't completely agree with.  I try to understand their views positively prior to attempting a critique of their views.

When my work touches on Christian theology, I strive to be in accord with Christian orthodoxy as present in the ancient churches.  I am aware that I am not a theologian by training, and so I may have it checked by someone with more theological knowledge than I when I am in doubt and have trouble finding a clear answer to anything questionable.


We all have the usual human cognitive biases shaping our thoughts, but on top of that we also have more explicit biases which have developed out of that primal sea of bias, crawling onto the wider landscape of the mind.  Those are often rooted in what we have been taught as children and adults in both formal and informal education.

My parents are both trained in the sciences of chemistry and physics, and both became college-level professors who teach in the sciences.  They encouraged my participation in science fairs, and provided me with plenty of non-fiction reading about what we've learned from scientific investigation about the past and the present.  I have in general a very pro-science bias, though as I have learned more I have a better understanding of the limits of science than I did previously.

My parents are also both deeply religious people; I started out in a Biblical literalist and restorationist Protestant (they had very anti-Catholic ideas in their monthly magazine) church where my grandfather was the pastor. I read the Bible quite a lot and attended various Pentecostal (later mostly Assembly of God) churches as my mother took us to where she was on her spiritual journey. I came in to the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church as a 14 year old, finding that it had a far more sensible way of understanding Sacred Scripture.

As I started taking more college courses, I became more progressive with regard to my religion.  I wanted to reform the Catholic Church in light of the secular values I was internalizing from my encounter with the University, taking a position in favor of ordaining women, for example.  While I had begun developing a broader critique of the Catholic Church and religion in general, I also started doing a lot of reading about other religions and debating those with different views.  After some exploration, I seriously considered converting to Buddhism while getting my first degree, but I realized that I was doing so out of a profound misunderstanding of religion and have gone fully back to Catholic praxis over the past six years. I'm currently an ascetic and a mystic in the Catholic tradition. I perform penance regularly, go to confession regularly, love the ancient liturgy, attend Mass often, and seek orthodoxy.

I have in general a pro-religion bias, though that's nothing unusual.  Human beings in general seem to have a tendency to behave in a religious fashion, even when they're explicitly critiquing religion.  And to this day, I try to offset that bias by reading critiques of religion by the brightest minds I can find.  I also try to offset any pro-Christian bias by reading articles from an anti-Christian perspective and engaging with other religious traditions regularly.

My parents and family more generally are not heavily weighted to either major party in the U.S. as far as their loyalties.  Most have some antipathy to both parties, and many seem to vote for members of both parties depending on the issue.  I myself have no particular party affiliation, though I tend to vote for 3rd parties as much as possible.  I have explored numerous political philosophies, and after 10 long years of not being able to find one I could agree with, I began creating my own from the ground up.  It can be found at my politics and current events blog, Isorropia.

I read progressive publications like The Nation and Salon, conservative publications like National Review and The Federalist, and libertarian publications like Reason, along with articles from a variety of think tanks such as Brookings, Heritage, and Cato.  I routinely engage with people of a variety of political persuasions when I see a factual problem or bad reasoning in their work.  Naturally, this wins me no inclusion in any political tribe.  In general, my political biases are not tribal; they are related to familiarity.  As a U.S. citizen, I really like the American experiment, though I recognize that there are other quite functional models worth exploring,

Along the very important spectrums of standards of evidence, religion, and politics, those are my biases.  I hope this helps you understand my writing in light of both my biases and my attempts to correct for them.

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