Saturday, February 08, 2014
Friday, February 07, 2014
I'll note in passing I don't agree with everything in the article. But I'm glad to see other possible focal points in the debate over "Christianity and science" broached. At the least they help better round out what should be involved in such a debate.
"I remember one girl who had a very severe back injury. She was in traction and about to be airlifted back home to the United States. Before she left, one of my friends prayed for her to be healed. She instantly jumped up and started running around. Though I found this incredible, I did recognize that this girl's experience of prayer and healing matched exactly what I had read in the Bible."
On another occasion Louis was sick with the early stages of malaria. He called two of his friends to pray for him and within moments felt completely recovered. "I was sincerely shocked." Thinking that he might be imagining the change, he went to a dorm wall where he had often jumped to see how high he could touch. Now, he jumped and touched higher than he had ever done before.
"In my work, we have a very peculiar way of looking at the world, a very powerful way we call methodological naturalism. As a Christian I can make a good argument for it. It would be odd if there were miracles in my lab or in my calculations. What I am studying are the regular ways God sustains the world. If there is a God who is faithful, then I expect his rules to be trustworthy and regular, and if God is intelligent I might even need to understand his rules.
"I think Western cessationism comes from people acting like that all day long, and they think that's the way it is. But I don't think that's the way it is. If you read the Bible, that's not the way it was. It's particularly important for me as a scientist to be involved in something like praying for the sick because that does act on a different plane."
Louis believes that pentecostal and charismatic Christians have a particular contribution to make to the discussion of evolution.
T. Stafford, ed. The Adam Quest (T. Nelson 2013), chap. 9.
Thursday, February 06, 2014
The moral of the story is that it's hazardous to get on Sarfati's bad side. No wonder Dawkins will never debate him.
From Dr. Timothy Standish:
Why might someone, other than a Darwinist, perceive in starling murmurations a strong suggestion of design? As Jerry Coyne points out, echoing the clip from Flight, in the cold hard world of survival of the fittest, starlings that stick with the group may enhance their odds of surviving predation. But such an effect is an emergent property of the murmuration. Attributing the origin of murmurations to enhanced survival requires first that murmurations exist, thus making for a circular argument. To circumvent this problem, a Darwinist might invoke cooption. Maybe the ancestors of modern starlings gathered together for some other practical purpose and then, in a lucky coincidence, gained the survival advantage provided by murmurations. But think about the resources consumed by daily migrations followed by considerable time flying about with other starlings. It's unclear why any other proposed reason for investing resources this way would not be equally vulnerable to the criticism of circularity.
Flying in formation has advantages that humans quickly recognized once we mastered powered flight. The most obvious of these involves multiple sets of eyes looking out for enemies or obstacles. If human intelligence can figure this out, perhaps clever starlings can as well. But if there is a genetic component to the behavior -- a reasonable assumption given that starlings form murmurations wherever they are in the world while other birds do not -- then a mechanism for creating the required genetic changes would need to anticipate the need fulfilled by murmurations. Darwinian evolution is blind and unguided, incapable by definition of anticipating anything. In the case of human flight, various types of formation flying were developed in anticipation of a need. Generally that was to survive during battles in the air. Formation flying is not something that pilots stumbled upon in the middle of a dogfight then stuck with; it is a solution to an anticipated need. Intelligence alone has been shown to have produced such solutions.
When it comes to design and murmurations, the elephant in the room is the other abilities birds must possess to achieve the phenomenon. They must have the inclination to fly long distances and to congregate. They must have the ability to navigate, the ability to fly, the ability to perceive and react to the other birds they are flying with, and any number of other wonders. Most people, scientists or not, can see this; but Darwinism demands that we turn a blind eye to such things.
One might note, finally, that understanding starling murmurations in terms of design liberates us from a depressing view: that life is nothing more than a struggle for survival. Perhaps starlings share the same joy humans experience in reuniting at the end of the day. Perhaps as they dance this spectacular dance, they enjoy the warmth of one another's company. Dancing, you might imagine, has to be more fun up in the air. When you have observed murmurations on a lovely clear evening, the argument from beauty to intelligent design is only natural. Perhaps in witnessing this, we share some of the joy that starlings themselves feel.
While the doctrine of “original sin” gets a hard time (I prefer talking about original “guilt” and original “death”), G.K. Chesteron famously said, original sin is the only Christian doctrine that is empirically verifiable. All people sin. All people imitate sin. All people have a propensity to sin. All people are guilty of sin. That human beings sin, transgress, break laws, violate rights, and commit immoral deeds is self-evident to everyone. I have to confess that one of the things that amazed me as a parent was that I never had to teach my children how to lie. They picked it up quite naturally. The mess that one child makes he or she will instinctively blame on another child, preferably the younger one, who cannot yet speak for themselves. Greed, violence, and selfishness seem like the default setting that they are born with. I sincerely believe that crying babies would throw their own mothers under a truck if it would get them what they want. Experience has also taught me that raising toddlers is like working for Caligula and Charlie Sheen combined. A house run by teenage boys has about the same degree of law and order as lunatics running an asylum. A colony of minors stranded on an island would not resemble Peter Pan’s paradisiac Never Never Land, but would descend immediately into violence and terror more akin to William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies where the strongest ruled the weakest with merciless spite. If you ever want to see what people are like, what they are truly like, see what they do when they think no one is watching them. Whether it is under a hoody, in a dark alley, or anonymously on the internet, that is when you see what evil desires and what dark proclivities lurk within the hearts of men and women. I’m sure psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists have their own models and explanation for this sort of innately inhumane behavior, but just as equally important is the theological one: human beings are born into the world with an inherent propensity to sin because they are born into the world separated from God. The whole condition of guilt, sinful behavior, and death is all traceable to the one act of disobedience in our primeval parents, Adam and Eve.
"I still respect Ken Ham a lot. I think he's doing tremendous work for the Kingdom and am not pleased at all by professing Christians who seem all to eager to throw him under the bus."
"Give me a break! Like I said to disgruntled Christians, how about praying for Ken Ham instead of criticizing him? Is it Ham's fault that they promoted the debate better than Dr. Craig? Does the average Christian need 2 doctorates, etc. to do apologetics? Man...some Christians never have enough to complain about."
"I had families from church over to watch the debate and there were 7 kids. Most of those kids got was Ham was saying. Now, had this debate featured a "higher level" Apologist who used more technical terms, those kids probably would not have followed."
I hope that, in the future, Nye is not so emboldened by his success in this debate that he starts debating creationists. Eventually he will run into one that is not as Ham-handed as Ham, and he’ll lose badly.
Al Capone, a faithful “son of the Church”
In his search to demonstrate that those “Callers” who call Protestants to communion with Rome, Darryl Hart has uncovered a Roman Catholic writer, John Zmirak, who is confirming the kinds of things that we have always known: That if you take away all the “Cafeteria Catholics” who break all the rules (most notably the rule on contraception), then you end up with 1.2 million of “the right kind of Roman Catholics” – those who diligently seek to keep all the rules in the proper, nanny-enforced way.
But let’s use language a good deal more precisely, in a doctrinally rigorous sense. How many people in America actually believe all the central truths of the Catholic Catechism? Public opinion surveys have revealed that high percentages of Sunday Mass-goers do not hold, or perhaps never learned about, transubstantiation (the change of bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist). Depending on which faction of the Catholic fragment you belong to, you can chalk up that ignorance to either the collapse of Catholic schooling, the dumbing down of the liturgy, or even to the suppression during the 1970s of the “unconscious catechesis” that used to occur every time the most unlettered peasant knelt for the Host and reverently took it on his tongue from the blessed hands of a priest.
I don’t know that public opinion surveys have asked “Sunday Catholics” what they believe about the physical resurrection of Christ, or the Immaculate Conception, but if average Catholics believe what I was taught in my Catholic high school, then they are heretics – and probably don’t even know or care.
Wednesday, February 05, 2014
I've noticed some people arguing the fact that a woman's body "naturally rejects hundreds of fertilized eggs in her lifetime" (source) is meant to imply pro-life proponents are inconsistent in defending life at conception. This, in turn, is meant to imply abortion is morally licit.
On the one hand, most pro-life proponents believe life begins at conception. But on the other hand, if so, then why do pro-lifers not mourn the loss of these "hundreds of fertilized eggs"?
I'd like to make some preliminary notes on the topic, and perhaps come back to more specific details at a later date if I can find the time:
Do you have what it takes to take on Bill Nye The Science Guy? Do you have to know everything, about every branch of science?
You would think if the Bible is true, and every Christian is called to defend it, then every Christian should be able to defend it.
I don't believe it is possible to be any more ivory tower than this blog post. Sure, I think there are better people who can take on Bill Nye, cough Sye, cough, but it's not because of their education, or college degrees. It's not because of the height of their ivory tower.
My contributions to this site will be an attempt to formulate a Reformed view of aesthetics. Though Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox think on these things regularly, Reformed Christians rarely discuss issues in art, poetics, music, and other things with the form and felt qualities of meaning. One would struggle to find any detailed discussion of these topics in most systematic theologies. This is a mistake. The aesthetic dimension of life is vital to worship and life….
I’m not advocating for the use of icons, images of God the Father, and statues in churches. Nor am I arguing that we satisfy the latest craving for a “sacramental worldview” found in the neo-platonism of the medieval period and in the Radical Orthodox movement…. With most of the Reformers, I deny this. Beautiful things are not beautiful because they “participate” in the divine. While creaturely beauty is an analogy to the beauty of God, it is not an analogy by virtue of some added divinity. There is no nature/grace dualism. Just as God’s moral character has been created or brought into creation as the moral law, God’s beauty has been analogized into creation as the creaturely standard of beauty. The standard of beauty is purely creaturely, not something creaturely with some supra-creaturely or divine addition.