this blog

I’m often conflicted about the whole apologetics thing.

As long as people have honest questions ((as opposed to dishonest questions; the kind that merely serve to insulate people from having to believe)) about belief, then it remains a logically legitimate enterprise, but it can be taken too far easily.

For me, I’m interested in taking away needless barriers to faith ((And I anticipate the charge that I have “faith in faith”…)).  Increasingly for me, it’s been exciting to see just how complimentary an evolutionary understanding of nature is with Christianity.  And as long as there are a) Christians who see evolution as a threat to faith and b) people for whom evolution has been a key point on their departure from faith, I think it’s hugely valuable to show and explore just how harmonious they are.

It occurs to me that believers and unbelievers ((I’m inclined to believe that we all ‘believe’ something, however – which makes ‘unbeliever’ a questionable term.)) both participate in the apologetic endeavour.  At their worst, both belief and unbelief ‘need’ a ‘defense’ ((Gk. ‘apologia’.)) for why they are justified in being what they are.  Insert any usual topic (evolution, abortion, morality, cosmogenesis, abiogenesis, sexual ethics, religious violence, etc.): the believer defends belief, and the unbeliever defends unbelief.

The believer (often) needs to feel justified in their belief – “Belief in God is reasonable and logical!” (or the psychological translation: “I’m a totally reasonable and logical person for maintaining my faith!”)

The unbeliever (often) needs to feel justified in their unbelief – “Belief in God is silly and superstitious!” (or the psychological translation: “I totally made the right decision in giving up my faith!”)

I’m aware of this need to feel justified, so I try (as best I can) to be genuinely open-minded.

I genuinely think various theistic arguments (like the First Cause argument) work.  And that’s really cool for me, because I’m a Christian!  But I also think it’s important to recognise that (as Rob Bell has said) ‘What you look for, you will find.’

I hope believers can evaluate their beliefs and challenge them.  I think faith is of the good kind when it is open to being challenged.  Believers that recoil from questions and insulate themselves from challenges to their belief have a kind of faith that I can’t help but see as (perhaps ironically) ‘faith in faith’ – and not faith in the God of all Truth.  My experience is that my beliefs get sharper the more I expose them to criticism.  I’ve changed my views about several things – and long may that continue.  I’ve also maintained and deepened a lot of my beliefs as well – and long may that continue.

I also hope unbelievers can be sceptical of even their own scepticism.  If belief is sharpened by criticism, then this should be true for unbelief as well?  However, for me, this should logically lead atheists to become more and more agnostic – or even ‘fall’ from unbelief altogether?  Or at least go from being a Richard Dawkins style atheist to a Michael Ruse type one…

At any rate, I’ll probably always ‘do’ (with varying degrees of passion) the apologetics thing, but I’m feeling less and less like it’s something that I need to do for my own justification, but rather something that I simply enjoy doing and find worthwhile.  That’s all for now :)

jesus & mo

Featuring on Richard-Dawkins-loving atheist blogs around the web, the “Jesus and Mo” atheist cartoons are doubly lazy ((the pictures remain the same with different speech boxes inserted – and the drivel in the speech boxes is yawn-inducing)).  Because actually doing art and actually engaging with an issue is just too time-consuming… Continue reading “jesus & mo”

mather God?

Check out (and contribute to!?) the online, editable, book (‘Not Only A Father‘) by Tim Bulkeley about gender language and God.

Yes – editable.

This is a new kind of book. A book you discuss with others, and with the author, as you read. It may even be edited and rewritten as a result of your comments.

Pretty neat idea – hope he gets the meaningful interaction he’s looking for!

postflow

I incessantly think and type in footnotese. ((this is probably just being lazy))  I constantly use parentheses ((and hyphens)) to put thoughts within thoughts within thoughts.

Thanks to a funky plugin ((http://elvery.net/drzax/wordpress-footnotes-plugin)), I can now make my nuances and additions viewable by hovering or clicking on the footnote number ((that’s it!!!)) – all without breaking the flow of thought. ((sort of – except for when you pause to read the footnote, etc.??))

update

as you’ll have seen, i’ve updated my theme – it’ll take a bit of jiggling (when I get time here/there) to get it where I want it… but the new version of atahualpa has a lot of theme options!

cash for repentance

metanoia (Grk μετανοια) means literally “after-thought” or a change of mind or repentance.

Two songs from Johnny Cash’s album, American IV, contrast a repentant person with an unrepentant person.  The contrast is striking – between the person who ‘hangs his head’ (eventually in prayerful repentance in the last verse) and the person who ‘damns’ everyone (or more particularly, their eyes!). Continue reading “cash for repentance”

miracles

Some scattered, quick thoughts about miracles, in passing reflection (all I’ve got time for at the moment) on some recent posts by Damian and Glenn.

  • I, too, am sceptical (US friends, this is the NZ spelling of skeptical) of most miracle reports I hear.  Wait, no, I’m actually sceptical of all miracle reports I hear.  Not because I think ‘miracles just don’t happen’ (naturalism), or ‘miracles just don’t happen any more‘ (cessationalism); but rather because miracles are meant to be pretty amazing things, which don’t happen all the time, and amount to more than looking for your car keys for 30 seconds, then praying and finding them and calling it a ‘miracle’.  ((one wonders: how quickly after praying does the thing have to happen for it to have happened ‘because you/I/we prayed’?))
  • “That’s just hear-say” is just as much a non-reason for something not being a miracle as “But Benny Hinn said so” is for something being one.
  • People disbelieve miracles (in general) of a miracle story (in particular) for two main reasons: impossibility and impropriety.  Not possible or Not proper.  Can’t happen or Surely didn’t happen.  They either rule them out a priori, or they feel that they (in general or in this/that particular case) are ‘unfitting’ invasions/interruptions/etc.
  • ‘Miracles’ by Clive Staples Lewis.  Everyone interested should read it.
  • The very concept of a miracle requires some sense of ‘the way things normally/lawfully/usually/typically happen’, as a miracle is an abnormal/’unlawful’/unusual/non-typical sort of thing.  People don’t say something was a miracle because they don’t know the laws of nature, but because they do.  Without a sense of ‘what normally happens’ (i.e. sex –> fertilisation or stork or something –> baby; or life –> death –> remaining dead), there can be no concept of a miracle (i.e. wow, a virgin is pregnant.  How odd!; or life –> death –> eating breakfast on the beach with friends).
  • Miracles attributed to various kinds/understandings of god/God/gods doesn’t in any way make them (automatically) less/more believable.
  • In an analogous relation to the hopeless task of reading all books that are published, it is impossible to investigate all miracle claims in anywhere near a robust enough way to discredit them all.  Hence the inconvenient situation we have of not having philosophical 100% epistemic certitude regarding whether or not miracles happen.  Having said that, I see no reason to say that someone who genuinely claims that a reasonably verified miracle has happened to them is not justified in claiming 100% certainty?  (or people close to them, for that matter?)
  • There are different kinds of miracles: miracles of ‘timing’ (i.e. an earthquake causing a river-damming landslide just as you approach it); miracles of ‘restoration’ (delayed-decay? – i.e. a death-delaying disappearance of a cancerous tumor); miracles of ‘information’ (i.e. prophetic word of knowledge of future event, etc.); etc.