Fuqua School of Business (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Imagine if the cure to a problem went against your political leanings… you are then more likely to admit that the problem does not exist.
“Logically, the proposed solution to a problem, such as an increase in government regulation or an extension of the free market, should not influence one’s belief in the problem. However, we find it does,” said co-author Troy Campbell, a Ph.D. candidate at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. “The cure can be more immediately threatening than the problem.”
There are a few names unmentionable, at least in the positive sense, from the Christian pulpit. One of them, if not the main one of them, is Charles Darwin, the 19th century scientist many accuse of creating evolutionary science. But, there are more than a number of Christians who believe science and faith are co-habitable. This number, we hope, grows every day. And this is where the problem lies. Pastors are having a difficult time presenting science and faith together due to a lack of education on the topic or because they simply do not know how. There are plenty of books about science and faith, but only a few on how to use them together. There is one, however, incorporating them. Cornwall’s book is a book of sermons and essays.
This is a pastoral account, almost like an autobiography, of bringing forth God’s message out of the two books, Scripture and Nature. As one who has read Cornwall considerably, I am neither surprised nor let down at the amount of work in these sermons. They exist, ever etched into someone’s mind, as a real method of worshiping the Most High God by celebrating how he formed the world. The book begins with a lengthy introduction wherein Cornwall tells you of his journey from Young Earth Creationism to this robust faith presented in this volume. Many of us who have traversed the same plane will recognize the same highway pit-stops along the way. This is not a story about someone losing their faith, but one where someone finds a faith richer and fuller than he has known before.
Following this are two parts, one with sermons and the other essays. Cornwall uses these short statements to explain further the relationship between faith and science. The sermons he delivered while the essays are former blogposts, all are crafted for both the subject and the audience. What does Cornwall really do? He doesn’t destroy the Christian faith, as I imagine some of his detractors would accuse him of, but instead leads us along the way to a better, more honest faith.
English: “A Venerable Orang-outang”, a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape published in The Hornet, a satirical magazine Deutsch: Man sieht Darwin als Affen dargestellt, was eine Anspielung auf seine Evolutionstheorie sein soll. Seiner Meinung nach entwickelten sich die Menschen aus den Affen, was damals eine völlig neue Vorstellung war. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
To be frank, it is difficult to review sermons, although not all of the book is made up of sermons. Sermons are meant to be given rather than read. Even the poorest sermon can sound remarkable if given properly. So I will not judge them as such. Rather, when I read them I tried to see if they were accomplishing what Cornwall intended. He does the job well. The sermons are exactly what you expect from sermons — rooted in Scripture, rooted in the Christian faith, and yet applicable to the modern world. No doubt, this is going to be difficult for some to digest, but the sermons (and essays) approach the Christian as a Christian who is in need of moving forward. Yes, Cornwall declares, the Books of God are applicable, practical and compatible. I would hope, and pray, that more pastors seek to implement what Cornwall has done, else we subcumb to St. Augustine’s warning about looking like fools for following superstitions (disguised as theology). God helps us and God bless Robert Cornwall.
Do you know our lord and savior, Zenu-nu-nu the Bloody Conquerer? (Photo credit: jurvetson)
A few weeks ago, Ken Ham posted something decrying the United Methodist Church and our internal troubles. Several of the more conservative people on the forums ate it up as they do with most things non-Wesleyan. I suggested it would be easier to tolerate the basest of changes to “traditional marriage” than it is to swallow anything by Ken Ham.
Ham’s latest spewing is why. A few weeks ago, NASA (not a UK news site) suggested we may find proof of alien life within 2 decades. Ken Ham has, by far, the most expected response:
And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin—the Savior of mankind.
He goes on to say “Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”! Only descendants of Adam can be saved.” Beyond this idiotic statement is the underlying misunderstanding anthropos. I can do nothing but laugh at how silly his reasoning is. But, I note it is in line with fundamentalist views of God. God is limited to our words and to our expectations. Further, our notion of atonement is limited to those with the correct knowledge. Ham’s philosophy is no more evolved than the small-pox soaked blankets given to Native Americans or the enslavement of Africans, both actions taken (in part) because those people were somehow less worthy of humanity (and salvation) than the rest of us.
So, beyond the inane stupidity this represents, let me offer you some correct approaches.
The end of the world as pictured in the New Testament seems to be more in line with Stoic conflagration. Regardless, it is not a physical destruction but a symbolic change of order. We find this idea in Genesis but especially in Isaiah with its talk of “new creation.” We need to learn biblical cosmology and how to apply it to soteriology and eschatology. We need to understand words like creation and universe before we make sweeping proclamations about the state of the universe beyond our blue jewel.
If Jesus repairs the sin of Adam, and if Jesus’s death is only for humanity, then only humanity under the curse. Then, by necessity, the xenozoic would not fall under the Fall and would not need the death of Christ. This does not mean they “go to hell.” This simply means our religious expectations as Christians do not apply to them. On the other hand, if all of “creation” is under the “curse,” then likewise all of creation is under the death of Christ.
If alien life is discovered, we are going to be a world of hurt theologically. I am not sure Christianity, or rather, Protestant Christianity, can survive. Judaism will. Islam may. Some of the eastern religions as well. Catholic Christianity may find it difficult, but we will see. Fundamentalism will retreat even further into intellectual darkness.
What happens if when we discover alien life? Our theology either gets really small, really big, or dies.
Also, I have a real issue in how Ken Ham describes the atonement.
So sayeth science. Well, actually, a “science writer.” I’ve scanned the article and could not find much in collaborative evidence. Don’t get me wrong. I want to believe that science says our metaphysical urges are hardwired and part of our evolutionary tract and thus suggest atheism is not tenable, or even human; however, to write as the author did with only bit quotes — no footnotes or the internet equivalent, links — is to seriously undermine his thesis:
Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.
This line of thought has led to some scientists claiming that “atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think,” says Graham Lawton, an avowed atheist himself, writing in the New Scientist. “They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.”
I get articles quoting the original piece. However, I suspect that the quote comes from this article. If it does, and it does, the “science writer” misquotes Lawton who is paraphrasing Boyer. The context is this:
Some scientists – notably Pascal Boyer at Washington University in St Louis – have even claimed that atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think. They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.
Atheism (Photo credit: atheism) – because that is what you think, don’t you?
Indeed, the conclusions in Lawton’s original piece may in fact surprise the “science writer.” Basically, his assumptions go like this. Atheists can’t exist because humans are hardwired to express/desire the common elements found in religion. You should be able to see through that pretty easily.
But, I want to add another wrinkle, if I may. What if there are no believers or atheists? If free will is an illusion, then we are but what we are meant to be in some fashion. This doesn’t mean I am in favor of determinism, but if our “choices'” are shaped by external influences, then our choices are chained to that which surrounds us. Thus, if one is an atheist or a believer, then it has something to do with an outside influence and cannot be the individual’s choice. Thus, there is no conscious effort to believe in God (thus, no believers) and there is no free will analysis capable of producing an unbelief in God (thus, no atheists) because we follow the path laid out before us and can only work within those influences.
Anyway, the article is slightly better than what Jim West writes regarding evolution.
Apparently, creationism is no longer allowed to be taught as science in UK schools, which is all well and good, but I hope they still teach about it, so that kids will have the information in order to decide for themselves.
You dont have to teach it as science – because it is not, its theology, but you do have to explain it as one of the major historical metaphysical understandings of how the world began.
When the Big Bang was first proposed by Jesuit Priest George Lemaître, it was almost discarded because it sounded too religious.
Let that sink in for a moment.
It sounded too religious.
We also know that the Soviet Union refused to teach much of the science from this discovery because it sounded too religious. Now, we have moronic “teachers” who should know better attempting to give an “answer” to mathematical proof of the Big Bang.
First, this announcement may be improperly understood and reported. For instance, in 2003 proof for cosmic inflation was incorrectly reported and a similar erroneous claim was made last year. Second, the predictions that are being supposedly confirmed are very model-dependent: if the model changes, then the predictions change. Inflation is just one of many free parameters that cosmologists have at their disposal within the big bang model, so they can alter these parameters at will to get the intended result. Third, other mechanisms could mimic the signal being claimed today. So, even if the data are confirmed, there may be some other physical mechanism at play rather than cosmic inflation.
Faulkner, by the way, was head of a nursing and public health program. Imagine that. Wonder if he required marriage for rape victims?
Let us focus on the comment highlighted below. There first hope is that the information is going to be somehow wrong. Regardless of all of the information released, the data released, and the peer reviewed work examined, they are hoping — and no doubt praying — that the information is reported wrongly.
I mean, the person who first predicted it 30 years ago, Andre Linde, was told in a very public manner:
Oh, and he predicted it using math.
Their second objection/hope/cause of child sacrifice is that the model changes so the results will change. Except, no. Very little change has occurred in the last 30 years when Andre Linde first predicted it.
He showed the eventual known reality using math.
Third, they respond like they usually do. Well, “observational science.” Or, “there is this book, Bill.”
This is called the theory of motivated reasoning. You are actually observing the mental disorder in full bloom.
I want to highlight this quote because this is what science does. Yes, there are often well founded charges of agendas and biases, but this is who it is supposed to work.
According to Kamionkowski, one of few physicists allowed to see the scientific paper before it was announced at a press conference today, that confirmation is likelier than not. “These are extremely careful and conservative people,” he says of the team that made the observation. “They’ve had this evidence for three years, looked at every alternative explanation for what they were seeing, and systematically ruled them out one by one.”
Every Sunday morning from various pulpits in America you will hear a minister saying: “Don’t believe the devil’s lies”. Then they begin to list all the things that the devil said that are indeed lies and some that the poor devil really never said. It is very easy to impress people stating that something is not true therefore don’t believe it expecting that everyone in the audience will be so mentally dormant that they will not notice exactly what is the real intention of the one behind the pulpit in delineating what people should reject as a lie.
Recently I have been saying a few things in small Christian gatherings (I am not one to exaggerate my audience to match my ego; my ego is big, but my audiences are not always big although they were in a remote past), that people ponder and wonder if I have changed at all from my previous positions. No, I really have not changed, I just believe that even Jesus found that certain things have a proper time to be said and expounded (John 16:12) and now is the time, I believe, for me to say such things. One of them is that one of the big lies that the devil never said but the same preachers who charge the devil for lying are guilty themselves of saying is: “ignore historical facts, ignore theology, shun textual criticism, because that is (again) “of the devil”. No it is not! Our faith cannot or should not be shaken by the fact that scientists, historians, theologians, archaeologists, and other who work in similar fields, have to say about facts of the Bible. Furthermore, we should not “run for cover” every time some theologian say that we should be careful with the interpretation of certain texts because they were written for a certain time, to deal with a certain problem and although the core message of the text may be a lesson for our daily living today, the methods may be not! Take for example Paul telling Timothy in 1 Tim 5:23 “no longer to drink water but also to drink wine” The King James Version says it clearly: No longer drink water μηκέτιv (mēketi), the Greek term used here means “no longer” or “from now on, hereafter”! Well, we can take from that message Paul’s care and interest on his “son in the faith” health and welfare, but please, don’t obey it the “no longer drink water” today! Ask any doctor the harms of dehydrating your body and, worse, in a state of dehydration, to drink wine… adding alcohol to a dehydrated body!
This is merely one example that not using an analytic mind, checking your brains at the door. Not using those who make a living out of being analytic may be dangerous to you. Lie the preacher who says you are not to listen to textual analyses or criticism, history, rules of hermeneutics, and things of this nature, and even attribute some sinfulness to any act that discusses any aspect of the text. Even if it is out of ignorance, it is not true; if it is not true it is a lie. No gray area!
Check Brains Here
Reasoning out a text, questioning and criticizing it in light of everyday knowledge or common sense is neither inappropriate or sinful. As a matter of fact God Himself calls us to reason together with Him (Isaiah 1:8).God is not afraid of dissidents neither is He afraid of questioning, and we should not be either.
When listening to a minister keep thinking! Some preachers will lie to you because they can’t deal with the issues that will arise from a good session of questioning certain things!
So, don’t check your brains at your church’s foyer!
If you listen to Greene in this interview you will detect something uniquely spiritual, even if it is deism, in Greene’s words. But, in the end, he is a cosmologist. Ham thinks he is, by the way, because he is confusing biological origins on planet Earth with the creation of the cosmos. No doubt, without the cosmos, we couldn’t have biological origins; however, you can have the cosmos without the planet earth.
The cosmos, or rather, the deep mysteries of the creation of the cosmos was not discussed in Nye v. Ham 2014. Should it have been? Maybe, but at that point, the debate would have gotten far, far behind what either side could speak to.
Ham would simply point, again, to a man-made book (the bible).1 Nye could equally point to human-made computations. Both would have to start with a small view and it would get only worse.
But, the discussion of the cosmos is what fascinates me. This is why I like Brian Greene and Lee Smolin. When you read them, God (although they may object to that) becomes manifest. They cross the lines from cold science into warm philosophy. I would argue that the only reason either of them may claim atheism (Greene, I believe, claims to be agnostic) is that the definition of God presented to them is a rather small one. But listen to him and really listen to him.
Cosmological origins are the more interesting aspect because there we find God. Yet, we are stuck in the discussion of biological origins because there we think we find the Gospel. I believe the Gospel is not dependent upon what course life took to bring us to where we are now. Of course, this is theology, rather than science. The discussion of biological origins can only take us to a fixed point in time, some 4.5 billion years ago. It can draw a line from that time to this one. However, it does not answer what else God has been up to, even before the creation of this present universe.