The really sad thing about blaming “religion” for all hostility and violence to gay people is that it leaves the real causes (i.e. fear and insecurity) unexposed, and the hostility and violence continues…
When people rant about “organised religion” they may or may not know what they are dissing.
Westporo Baptist Church (the infamous “god hates fags” church) has no official (or unofficial?) ties to ANY denomination or other church(s). There are untold thousands of less-controversial churches and preachers, which nonetheless stray off into variously worrying forms of fundamentalism.
For these kinds of churches & pastors, ‘freedom of conscience’ and ‘the priesthood of the believer’ (both of which I hold to firmly), are held to at the expense of such things as accountability or governing structure (congregational or denominational). Church “hierarchy”, like any kind of structure, can be wise or foolishly designed and implemented.
While I could never say that a pastor must have a degree to be qualified, the slogan “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called” betrays not a little naivety. It’s not about insisting that a pastor must have a masters degree or anything, but at the very least, they should be accountable to someone other than themselves.
The Baptist Union of NZ does not require any particular degree, but in order to maintain your denominational registration, you must fulfill the (very flexible and practical) requirements within a “Ministry Development Agreement”. I personally think (and I should, as a registered Baptist pastor, huh!?) this is a wise middle ground between a very dangerous brand of ‘independence’ (or should we call it anti-dependence?) on the one hand, and very constrictive forms of church ‘accountability’ (control!).
Some different senses of the word/concept ‘religion’:
- Like a bellybutton: a basic and unifying characteristic of humanity – we are all ‘religious’ in the broadest sense. We all have a worldview, beliefs and values which inform and shape the way we live our lives.
- Like a band: a particular and distinguishing characteristic of a group – this is my/our ‘religion’, which you are in/out of. We all are ‘religious’, perhaps, but there are religions within religion.
- Like a badge: a performance mindset characteristic of individuals (or a group) – I am ‘religious’ and therefore better (in the eyes of God or of other humans) than people who aren’t as moral as me.
Thanks, Ian Luxmoore…
…for a friendly, respectful, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable conversation about life, god, the universe, morality and all the rest.
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. :)
What Genesis 1-3 is not: a play-by-play, atom-by-atom historical and scientific account of creation. The author/community which produced the text clearly had other things in mind than producing such a thing.*
This is widely accepted by people who should know: scholars in fields relevant to Genesis 1-3 (biblical scholars, ancient near east religion scholars, hebrew linguists, experts on ancient semetic poetry, etc. – see relevant examples in the Denver Seminary Old Testament bibliograpy – updated annually). Yael Klangwisan spoke on Genesis recently at a TANSA event at Laidlaw college, and a very informative PDF of her slideshow can be found here.
Unfortunately there are two kinds of people I know of that both tend to insist that Genesis 1-3 is intended as a ‘factual’ report of the exact, literal events of creation. These two types of people are (who would have thunk it!?) young-earth Creationists (YEC’s)… and many (not all) atheists.
YEC’s are convinced that science supports their literal interpretation (see pretty much anything on this site)…
…and some atheists are convinced that this literal-and-only-literal-gosh-darnit interpretation has been replaced by science (see the opening statement of Richard Dawkins from his 2007 debate with John Lennox – and I’ll put a transcription of it as the first comment below).**
Meanwhile, there are those who are willing to listen to what Genesis is really trying to get across, and who refuse to use science to prove their religious or anti-religious views.
*Many/most/all? of the characters in the Bible, for example, would have been aware of the poetic and metaphorical nature of Genesis 1-3, though would naturally have had little/no reason to question whether or not it took 6 days for God to create the world, etc. A prime example of just how much the literal-ness of this text does not matter in Jewish thought is the story of when Ray Vander Laan asked the world-class Jewish scholar, Jacob Neusner how long the days of creation were; to which the reply after a long pause was “I’ve never thought about that.”
** No… wait… Dawkins doesn’t only say that the literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3 is replaced by science, he says that religious explanations in general are replaced by science… Wow.
Mark your calendars and register!
TANSA (Theology and the Natural Sciences Aotearoa) presents:
The Theological Meaning of Evolution
Conference to celebrate and interact with Darwin.
Thursday June 25th at 7pm to Saturday June 27th at 6pm
Key Note Speaker: Dr. Christopher Southgate, author of The Groaning of Creation University of Exeter
Local Speakers: Assoc. Prof. Ruth Barton (Auckland), Assoc. Prof. John Stenhouse (Otago), Assoc. Prof. Peter Lineham (Massey), Dr. John Owens (Good Shepherd), Dr. Grant Gillett (Otago), Prof. Neil Broom (Auckland), Dr. Stephen Downs (Flinders), Rev.Hugh Bowron (Holy Trinity) and theologians from Laidlaw Carey.
Contact Nicola @ nicolahc (at) laidlaw (dot) ac (dot) nz for details
Please click here for poster, and registration form.
(copied from here)
Whether or not one agrees with Gould’s famous dictum that Religion and Science are Non-Overlapping Magisteria, it occurs to me that unless a given Religion says absolutely nothing at all about the things which Science also investigates, then at least they will be related.
A far better question, of course, is how they might be related.
Over at xenos theology, Jonathan Robinson draws out attention to:
- 5 ebooks on evolution and Christian belief – summing up 2 years of blogging/commenting at this blog (see links to ebooks on right side-bar).
- this book review of this book: The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth by Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley.
- that is all (cool how I made 2 things look like 4, huh?) :)