One other class of persons I shall briefly notice, in conclusion, who take a different view, but I cannot think a right one, of the study of [C]hristian evidences. They acknowledge its use and necessity; but they dislike and deplore that necessity. They view the matter somewhat as any person of humane disposition does, the arming and training of soldiers; acknowledging, yet lamenting, the necessity of thus guarding against insurrections at home, or attacks from foreign nations; and though, when forced into a war, he rejoices in meeting with victory rather than defeat, he would much prefer peaceful tranquillity. Even so, these persons admit that evidences are necessary in order to repel unbelief; but all attention to the subject is connected in their minds with the idea of doubt; which they feel to be painful, and dread as something sinful.

Far different however are men’s feelings in reference to any person or thing that they really do greatly value and admire, when they have a full and firm conviction. No one in ordinary life considers it disagreeable to mark and dwell on the constantly recurring proofs of the excellent and admirable qualities of some highly valued friend – to observe how his character stands in strong contrast to that of ordinary men; and that while experience is constantly stripping off the fair outside from vain pretenders, and detecting the wrong motives which adulterate the seeming virtue of others, his sterling excellence is made more and more striking and conspicuous every day: on the contrary, we feel that this is a delightful exercise of the mind, and the more delightful the more we are disposed to love and honour him. Yet all these are proofs, – or what might be used as proofs, if needed, – of his really being of such a character. But is the contemplation of such proofs connected in our own mind with the idea of harassing doubt, and anxious contest? Should it not then be also delightful to a sincere Christian to mark, in like manner, the proofs which if he look for them, he will continually find recurring, that the religion he professes came not from man, but from God, – that the Great Master whom he adores was indeed the “way, the truth, and the life,” – that “never man spake like this man;” – and that the Sacred Writers who record his teaching were not mad enthusiasts, or crafty deceivers, but men who spoke in sincerity the words of truth and soberness which they learned from Him? Should he not feel the liveliest pleasure in comparing his religion with those false creeds which have sprung from human fraud and folly, and observing how striking is the difference?

– Richard Whately (1859), “Dr. Paley’s Works: A Lecture,” John W. Parker & Son, pp. 42–44.

# Edson Oda – Malaria

Hat tip to Leah Libresco: “I found this beautiful, unconventionally animated story of a man who set off to kill Death.”

# D. A. Carson – The Scholar as Pastor

How can a Christian scholar engage properly in pastoral ministry? In this talk, D. A. Carson sets out to respond to that question:

Carson is one of the best scholar-pastors that I know of. I heard him speak in Melbourne in 2010 and was blown away by expository preaching done well.

Here are just a few of his main pieces of advice:

• take steps to avoid becoming a mere “quartermaster”
• beware the seduction of applause
• make the main thing the main thing
• pray and work for vision
• avoid lone-ranger scholarship
• take your work seriously, but not yourself.

# Piers Steel – The Procrastination Equation [Summarised for Procrastinators]

Here’s a brief summary of the main action points for overcoming procrastination in Piers Steel’s excellent book The Procrastination Equation.[1]

Steel’s work is based on his “meta-study” of academic publications on motivation theory. You can check out Luke Muehlhauser’s more comprehensive summary, or – even better – buy and read the book!

If you have questions or corrections, feel free to comment below.

## The Procrastination Equation

The lower our motivation to carry out a task, the greater our tendency to put off doing it.

Researchers in fields like behavioural economics and psychology have found that the main factors that contribute to motivation are:

• Value – the reward a person associates with doing a task and/or its results.
• Expectancy – the likelihood that she assigns to actually obtaining the reward.
• Impulsiveness – the extent to which she tends to be distracted by other things.
• Delay – the length of time from now until she will receive the reward.[2]
$\mathrm{Motivation = \dfrac{Expectancy \times Value}{Impulsiveness \times Delay}}$

This is the “Procrastination Equation.”

To overcome procrastination, a person will need to increase expectancy, and/or increase value, and/or decrease impulsiveness. (Delay is usually out of a person’s control or dependent on when the person actually gets around to doing things.)

## How to Increase Expectancy

1. Success Spirals: Set goals for yourself that are achievable, challenging, and meaningful. Achieve those goals. Then set increasingly challenging goals, achieve them, &c., and repeat the cycle to boost your optimism.

2. Vicarious Victory: Read and watch inspirational biographies and films, particularly ones that feature people from backgrounds like yours who overcome obstacles and go on to become successful. Participate in communities comprised of optimistic, successful people.

3. Mental Contrasting: Visualise your current situation, followed by what you would like to achieve, and (very importantly!) focus on the difference between where you are now and where you would like to be and the steps you will need to take to narrow the gap.

4. Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best: Be honest with yourself and anticipate problems that may arise as you seek to achieve your goals. Prepare plans in advance to deal with those problems if and when they do come up.

5. Accept that You’re Addicted to Delay: Remind yourself that “giving in” leads to a slippery slope. If you can say that you’ll “do it tomorrow” today, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, and so on and so forth until it’s too late to accomplish the task well, probably you should do it now. Treat any inclination to slip as potentially disastrous.

## How to Increase Value

1. Games and Goals: Make boring tasks more challenging – perhaps by creating little games or by competing against other people. Associate tasks with bigger, longer-term goals. Think about goals in terms of what you want to achieve rather than in terms of what you want to avoid.

2. Energy Crisis: Increase your energy where possible, and use the energy that you do have wisely. In particular, exercise, sleep, and eat regularly and at predictable times. If you have too many commitments, cut back or get help. Reserve the times of day during which you have the most energy – and in particular the period starting a few hours after you wake up and lasting for around four hours – for your hardest tasks.

3. Productive Procrastination: Suppose you realise that you’re putting off getting some important task done. Then select a more pleasurable task that’s tangential to that task – preferably, although not necessarily, related – and “trade” working on the initial task for the other. (But you need to be careful to make sure you don’t do this too much, or else you may end up neglecting your most important tasks.)

4. Double or Nothing: Reward and compliment yourself when you achieve your goals. Add incentives to the tasks you do to make them more satisfying.

5. Let Your Passion Be Your Vocation: Find a job/course/&c. that involves doing something that you like and enjoy.

## How to Decrease Impulsiveness

1. Precommitment: Put temptations and distractions far away in advance. Satisfy needs and desires before they get too strong – e.g. schedule in leisure and recreation time first. Add disincentives to your temptations and distractions to make them repugnant to you.

2. Make Paying Attention Pay: Use attentional control and covert sensitisation to deal with distractions. Attentional control: focus on the most abstract, “cold” aspects of a thing – e.g. think about cake as a combination of fats, sugars, proteins, &c. Covert sensitisation: imagine ways in which the distraction or its consequences could be disgusting, dangerous, or disastrous. Separate your work area from your leisure and recreation areas. Remove distractions from your work area and replace them with visual reminders of your longer-term goals. Focus on one thing at a time – forget multitasking (it doesn’t work).

3. Set and Score Goals: (Probably the most important recommendation in the book.) Set really specific, concrete goals (what, when, why) – these are much more effective than vague, abstract goals. Break up long-term tasks into small steps. Set up mini-goals to break motivational “surface tension” and get yourself on track to other goals. Develop your tasks into a predictable routine that you will follow without thinking about it.

1. Steel, Piers (2012), The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done, HarperCollins. []
2. Sometimes a small value – e.g. 1 – is added to Delay to avoid division by zero as a task’s deadline is reached. []