It’s 12-12-12 today, and we are nearing the day (21-12-2012) which is heralded by some as something of an apocalypse and an end-of-the-world event.
Among other things, this highlights to me the reality that scientific discovery does not wipe out superstition. People have always been superstitious and will always be. Conversely, people have always denied any inherent purpose or meaning to the world – and they always will.
Science is great and helpful. But I think Dallas Willard is spot on when he says “you can be very sure that nothing fundamental has changed in our knowledge of ultimate reality and the human self since the time of Jesus.” (The Divine Conspiracy, 106; emphasis original)
People wrongly think and speak as though at some point in history we learned some fact that forever sealed off the cosmos from any and all miracles; whereas the ancients, blissfully ignorant of this elusive fact we now know, had no other option.
In addition to ignoring the reality of ancient unbelief and scepticism, this way of thinking also misses the blindingly obvious truth that it’s psychologically and linguistically impossible to think or speak of a ‘super’-natural event if one has no idea of what a natural event is. As Lewis said, when Joseph learned of Mary being pregnant, he was startled – not because he didn’t know how babies were conceived, but precisely because he did.
Posted in christianity, philosophy, science, theology
Tagged belief, C.S. Lewis, history, miracles, natural, scepticism, supernatural, superstition, unbelief
When it comes to discussing certain topics, we all know (and some of us have been?) ‘that guy’ whose style of engagement seems to harm rather than help the conversation.
I think (and know from my own experience) that loud, impatient dismissals are almost always say more about the loud, impatient dismisser than they do about what is being dismissed. One gets the double sensation of the person both a) having their mind so made up that discussion with this person is pointless, and at the same time sensing that b) this person has a need to prove their rightness not only to you but themselves as well.
My Dad has a saying (perhaps he got it somewhere himself); the more upset a person gets in a discussion, the weaker their view probably is. I’d just qualify it a tad to say “…the less confident they are of their view”, because just as it is possible to be confident of a false view, so also is it possible to have a false bravado for a a true view.
Having said that, I think it’s naive to think that we can detach our own emotions from our beliefs, and enjoy a ‘robust’ and ‘frank’ discussion. I also think one can firmly believe (not ‘know’ in the strict epistemological sense) they are correct and still engage fruitfully with someone they fully disagree with.
The relevant point that follows from this is that the more you really believe view ‘x’, the less energy you’ll need to defend ‘x’ and the more energy you can spend on understanding and critiquing ‘anti-x’, and of course’x’ as well.
This is true in all relationships as well. The more you know who you are, the less you’ll need another person to appear inferior to you (to asset yourself over them) or superior to them (to ride upon their coattails). The more secure your self definition is, the less you’ll need others and their opinions to define you. You’ll be less worried about self and more available emotionally and intellectually to the other. The more rooted you are, the more you can reach out.
The reason coin:
Theism has an idea of what a god is. It then turns to look at the world and finds its idea more or less confirmed. Atheism has an idea of what a god is. It looks at the world and finds its idea more or less unconfirmed. Theism and atheism are two sides of the same coin – matching up an idea of god with what is seen in the world.
The revealed Christ:
Rather than humans projecting an idea of what a god is like onto observations of the world, in Christianity, God reveals himself to us fully and finally in Christ. This revelation is surprising. Our logical ideas of god (powerful, glorious, etc.) are shattered by the dying, bleeding, weak, self-sacrificing, humiliating, suffering-with-us God of Christ and His Cross.
“crux sola est nostra theologia” (the cross alone is our only theology) – Martin Luther
Those who hold that all things (the universe/multiverse/whatever) began to exist and were created (by an ultimate Creator or First/bottom Cause), and those who hold that all things (the universe/multiverse/whatever) ‘have always existed in some form/state’ agree on (at least) one point…
…namely that there is indeed an uncreated ‘thing’ which cannot be questioned, caused, created, ‘got behind’, etc.
The former call this uncreated ‘thing’ God – and the latter call it Nature.
Cheers to Bryson for directing me to an essay, which I discovered was one over several over at The John Templeton Foundation.
The essays are comprised answers to ‘big questions’ from a variety of perspectives – theist, atheist and agnostic. They make for interesting reading whatever your beliefs are.
Two of the ‘big questions‘ essays were of particular interest to me: “Does the Universe Have a Purpose?” and “Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?“.
Some other bits which may be of interest to some readers include:
- “Does Evolution Explain Human Nature?“
- Debates between contributers to the Science/Belief essay (Christopher Hitchens v. Ken Miller; Jerome Groopman v. Michael Shermer; and Steven Pinker v. William D. Phillips).
- A Brief interview with (physicist/cosmologist) Paul Davies concerning multiverse theory
- assorted video content (look for it) :)
Posted in christianity, philosophy, science
Tagged atheism, belief, creation, debate, evolution, faith, god, life, philosophy, science, theism, web
Thanks, Ian Luxmoore…
…for a friendly, respectful, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable conversation about life, god, the universe, morality and all the rest.
Posted in general
Tagged atheism, belief, debate, evolution, faith, god, life, order, philosophy, religion, science, theism, truth
The Christian response to the ‘Faithful Science’ day-conference have been mixed.
Most of the appreciative and complementary feedback has been email or verbal. As for the less-appreciative feedback, unfortunately it’s been more public.
First, the Christian newspaper “Challenge Weekly” published a (to say it kindly) selective and less-than-inaccurate piece entitled “Conference fuels Controversy” (which can be viewed here – scroll down about half way), which, among other things, made the bizarre and out-of-left-field claim that some of the presenters held views more like Deism (which was anything but the case).
Predictably, the “letters to the editor” section in subsequent issues have been spotted with a handful of readers who were concerned/shocked by the conference. And, also not a surprise, a fresh write-up by CMI (Creation Ministries International) was subsequently published (here), entitled “Genesis not a Myth”, warning against a roadway to “spiritual disaster”.
The CMI article is also up here at their own website in very similar format, though more specifically targeting the Faithful Science conference.
I’ve offerred a couple of responses to Challenge, hoping to a) correct factual errors, b) help to clarify relevant issues, and c) challenge (no pun intended) readers to be more patient, and not assume what “those christian evolutionists” actually believe. Also, I’ve responsed to the CMI article and am hoping for some positive interaction there.
Also, I’ve had some dialogue (which is absolutely exemplary in terms of tone, patience, etc.) with an I.D. advocate who is a member of my church and attended the conference.
Here’s to (hopefully!) fruitful dialogue and interaction in the next… however long. :)
Posted in bible, christianity, science, theology
Tagged belief, creation, evolution, faith, philosophy, religion, science, theology
Ken Perrott recently drew attention to a new book called The Six Ways of Atheism: New Logical Disproofs of the Existence of God by Geoffrey Berg.
At the site related to the book, there are summaries of the (as the site says) “six improved arguments for atheism”.
Now, I’m terribly sorry, but if these are ‘improved’ arguments for atheism, then it would be embarrassing to see the ‘unimproved’ ones! :) I’ve only taken an intro to philosophy class, and have never taken any classes in logic, etc., but these are poorly stated arguments, which would no doubt be embarrassing to proper atheist philosophers.
I’ve done a quick response in PDF format: 6 atheist arguments – quick response. Enjoy.
(p.s. – I can give some time to responses to this, but I’m entering another busy semester, so don’t have time for too much. Yes, I’m aware that these were ‘summaries’ and that the book would ‘unpack’ them further, but I still say they are poorly stated as is.)
Blamentations (pronounced: Blah-men-tay-shins; combining the words ‘blog’ and ‘lamentations’). Continue reading