Showing posts from June, 2010

Two approaches to divine action in an age of science

(Note that this post is extremely tentative and exploratory; I have not framed the issues as well as I would like, and my sketch of the two approaches to divine action is not the best formulation they could receive. I'm simply jotting down some thoughts that I will expand more carefully in future posts) As a person who takes the current scientific consensus very seriously in the way I understand the world, one of the most challenging issues I face in theological reflection is how to understand God's action in the world, not primarily his creating and conserving the world in existence but those 'special' acts we ordinarily call miracles. The problem is that the narrative of modern science-certain controversies over the implications of quantum mechanics notwithstanding-is one of finding ever more precise regularities in the goings-on of the natural world, which many scientists are tempted to summarize as laws which govern the behavior of all objects in the natural world.

Religion, Evil and Idolatry

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion. Steven Weinberg The claim underlying this and many similar critiques of religion is that religion, disproportionately among human activities, makes people act irrationally and immorally. The implication is that, if we were to eradicate religion, we would also eradicate many of the social ills that plague our species, such as dogmatism, tribalism and intolerance. One thing that my studies of anxiety and ideology have made clear is that this claim is patently false. Certainly there is dogmatism concerning religious beliefs, the intolerance it gives rise to, and the unspeakable violence with which believers try to defend their beliefs. But religion is not the root of those evils. Rather, they arise from very deep in our nature as vulnerable, mortal, self-aware creatures. The philosopher Spinoza a

The Genre of the Gospel of John: Subject Matter (Part 2)

In my opening post on the genre of the Gospel of John, I explored the expressed intent of the author and the Gospel’s reception by its audience. John’s emphasis on eyewitness testimony and imparting the truth about Jesus were consistent with genres such as ancient biography and historiography but not consistent with ancient fiction, such as novels or wondrous travel tales. However, to develop an accurate understanding of John’s genre we must review the dominant cluster of elements rather than just a few, albeit important ones. To that end, this post proceeds to examine what the Gospel of John’s subject matter indicates as to genre. Put simply, the subject matter of the Gospel of John is Jesus. From beginning to end, the focus is on Jesus, with the goal of demonstrating that Jesus is the Christ. That information is not just interesting, but is crucial to the reader. In John’s own words, “many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not writte

Ruins of Faith

This is from the blog Debunking Christianity  Our efforts here at DC are Having an Effect By John W. Loftus at 6/10/2010 "Here's an email I received from a man  named Robert:" John, Thank you for the time and effort you have put into your writing.  I am a  Christian of nearly 30 years; devout, church going, prayerful.  I first  found about 2 years ago and it opened me up to the  possibility that the Bible is false.  I always beware when I see one of these "long time Christian realized faith is buss shit." It really makes me angry and sick because whatever he says, no matter how banal or silly, he claims he's a Christian so he has to be one. This is one of the basic tenets of the New atheist faith, that there is no such thing as a false members of a group, any and all members of groups regardless of their experiences automatically represent that group it it's fullest and most articulate epitome. Otherwise, if anyone claim

Meaning and Truth part 2

I said last time that I was not trying to prove anything but just explecating my views. So angry atheists write and say "You don't back anything up, you can't prove anything." why should anyone get angry because of my opinion? I said point blank I wasn't trying to prove anything! Meaning is a function of truth, and truth is the limit on meaning. In other words The only way that something is meaningful is in proportion to the extent to which it represents the truth of some situation or outlook. By the same token, meaning is limited by truth. A lie is not meaningful in terms of its falsehood, only in terms of what it tells us about the liar. Meaning is subjective, one cannot deduce meaning from the order of things as one might try to deduce a designer from the apparent design in the universe. For that matter, I don't think one can logically deduce a design in the universe. The fact that meaning is subject does not indicate that God can't best

Christianity and Civilization part 1: Meaning and Truth part 1

part 1 of 4 Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) See The Ultimate Online Sartre resource: "have a coffee Break With Jean-Paul." I have decided to flesh out several themes that are implicit in the piece I wrote in "Open Letter to John Loftus and  the DC crowd."In so doing I will be speaking in a very general sense. Obviously I can't lay out the whole history of western civ. in a blog spot. I realize I will be painting with a broad brush. But this is an attempt to spell out the ideas that have always acted as under girding for my belief system and spur me on to faith. I don't claim to be making pronouncements from on high. I don't claim that I could prove all my beliefs. Rather I shall attempt to spell out some of the basic reasons for my world view. Perhaps the most important underlying theme of that essay is that of meaning and transcendent truth. Meaning in life plays a big role in the playing out of my youthful formation; as a Sartian existentialist

Trace of God: Answering Reverse Design Argument

Atheists have an argument that seeks to reverse the design argument. It does exactly what the design argument does, which is probably reason enough to disregard it; it reasons form the apparent state of the world to the probable non existence of God. If it is illogical to reason form the world to God, it is equally illogical to reason from the world to not God . For this reason I swore off design arguments years ago. I have violated that oath twice, but for good reason (I'll get to those in a minute). In any case, there is a great deal wrong with this argument, and in figuring up all the many problems I see it I began to think of two things: (1) Perhaps it would be instructive to delineate the cases under which one can argue from the state of the world to the existence of God. (2) In pondering this question, I began to think about perhaps what might be the ultimate God argument. The problem is that really if you think about it almost all probabilistic arguments are really