God Has Spoken 1: Reflections on J.I. Packer’s Book

“Theology is for doxology.” J.I. Packer

As I find myself in the middle of a conversation that is dominated by Evangelistic Atheists (EAs) on the one hand and the heirs (wittingly or unwittingly) of American Fundamentalism on the other hand, I find myself disagreeing with both sides with respect to how they frame the debate and on their assumptions about the nature of Christianity. I have described their almost symbiotic relationship in a series of posts entitled  An Unhappy Marriage.

As one who grew up reading and watching Carl Sagan and other modern scientific apologists, I too imbibed a particular views of Christianity especially with respect to the nature of revelation and of the Christian Scriptures aka the Bible. I accepted their understanding of the nature of Scripture and of Biblical Revelation. This view was reinforced by some Christian relatives, televangelists, and pop-culture in general. For instance, my grandfather was into End-Times charts and, as far as I know, I was the only one of his grandchildren that enjoyed these theological conversations. Like Carl Sagan, I was much more into extra-terrestrials but was fascinated by people’s beliefs in and the idea of supernatural beings as well.

For the most part, those who engage in evolution vs. creationism or science vs. Christianity debate seem to share similar views on the nature of Scripture. Obviously, atheists reject that any text ought to be authoritative in the way Christians hold the Bible to be authoritative but many atheists tend to grant that people like Ken Ham and other heirs of American Fundamentalism are normative with respect to how Christians do and ought to read Scripture. Continue reading “God Has Spoken 1: Reflections on J.I. Packer’s Book”

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Star Wars: The Spirit Awakens — A Letter to Preachers and Apologists

Rest assured, this post contains no Force Awakens spoilers. I haven’t seen it yet. It does contain spoilers for episodes I-III. So, if you are Amish, you may not want to read this post.

The Star Wars films shaped my childhood imagination. They nurtured in me a sense of right and wrong. They gave me a meaningful vocabulary for good and evil. Lucas’s images of the light side and the dark side opened my eyes to a battle being waged daily in the world that I could see on the evening news, in the playground, and even in my own heart and mind. This imaginative world gave me a sense of responsiblity and the hope that I could overcome the darkness within in me, that I could choose. Eventually, these films gave me my first glimpse of grace and redemption.

Yet, the Christians in my life missed this opportunity to speak to me and who knows how many others. They failed to speak to me in my language. They failed to translate the Gospel, to use my vocabulary. They did not see the Spirit of Christ already at work. The Spirit went before them like the pillar of fire in the darkness. But all they could say to me was “The Spirit of God is not like the force in Star Wars.

My family did not attend church regularly. Nevertheless, it seems like every time I entered a church for the next decade or so. I was told that God was not like the force in Star Wars. In the instant they got my attention, they lost it. If your god, is not like the force in Star Wars, then that’s too bad for your god. The force is awesome! Continue reading “Star Wars: The Spirit Awakens — A Letter to Preachers and Apologists”

Ham-Handed Hermeneutics 3: St. Augustine (354-430 AD) and The Literal Meaning of Genesis (Vol I, Book 1.i-xvi)

The Ham-Handed Hermeneutics posts serve two main purposes. On the one hand, I seek to test Ken Ham and AiG’s claims that the Church has always interpreted the early chapters of Genesis in a literal fashion and in such a way that it entails a belief that the cosmos is approximately 7,000 years old. On the other hand, out of personal and scholarly interest, I seek to present thoughtfully and faithfully how the Church Fathers interpreted the early chapters of Genesis and their assumptions about the age of the universe. Continue reading “Ham-Handed Hermeneutics 3: St. Augustine (354-430 AD) and The Literal Meaning of Genesis (Vol I, Book 1.i-xvi)”

How Little Grey Men Got into My Bible or Extra-Terrestrial Eisegesis

New Jerusalem or the Borg?*

When Star Trek: First Contact was in theatres, my friends at Regent College noticed the similarity between the design of the Borg ship and the shape of the Revelation‘s New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-27). We came up with our own Christian Borg slogan, “Resistance is futile. You will be resurrected.”

We laughed but maybe we were not so far off. For a quick Google search will reveal that indeed there are aliens in our Bibles! Continue reading “How Little Grey Men Got into My Bible or Extra-Terrestrial Eisegesis”

Ken Ham on Homo Naledi: See No Evidence, Hear No Evidence, Speak No Truth

Today’s Reading: Psalm 115 & Jeremiah 7:4

Having read the post on Naturalis Historia about the release of information on H. naledi, I knew it would not be long before Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis (AiG) voiced their collective judgment on the finding. Moreover, I knew what that judgment would be in advance. I am prescient that way. For Ham and AiG, This discovery would change nothing.

So, I was not surprised when Ken Ham released a tweet and a link to an “article” responding to this release of information about H. Naledi. Continue reading “Ken Ham on Homo Naledi: See No Evidence, Hear No Evidence, Speak No Truth”

Mind the Gap I: Diagnosing Split-Brain Syndrome in Young Adults (and the rest of us)

Many Christians seem to suffer from what I am calling “Split-Brain Syndrome”. That is, many Christians seem to switch unwittingly between a Science Brain and a Church Brain. This psychological problem is nurtured by a culture that divides the public and private spheres and is reinforced by a popular polemics that are framed by the conflict models of religion vs. science, faith vs. reason, religion vs. secular, Ham vs. Dawkins, etc. As my own story will demonstrate, this “double-mindedness” is not peculiar to Christians.

Though not a Christian at the time, in my youth, I experienced this split-brain syndrome. Continue reading “Mind the Gap I: Diagnosing Split-Brain Syndrome in Young Adults (and the rest of us)”

What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr

Mayr, Ernst. What Evolution Is. (Basic Books, 2002) $9.99 Kindle/$12.91 Paper

Truly wanting to understand the theory of evolution as it is currently held and the evidence for it, I asked a fellow church member who is also a biologist to recommend a book that would describe the theory to me in a non-polemical tone. That is, I wanted to read a contemporary account of the theory of evolution by someone who was not also trying to convince me either that I ought to be an atheist or that I ought to reject the evidence if I wanted to remain a Christian. Nor was I looking for books about theistic evolution or Intelligent Design. I wanted a book about the scientific theory of evolution as I might want a book about string theory or the nature of blackholes. Continue reading “What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr”

Mad Science, Bad Science and the Cure for Everything (Originally published August 4, 2009)

The polemic against religion seems to depend on an assumption concerning the makeup of the world. A popular assumption seems to be that there are three basic realms the political, the religious and the scientific. Depending on one’s personal preference, one establishes an “if only.” For instance, those of us with a religious affiliation might say, “If only Constantine had never got involved with the Church, then Christianity would not be tarred with all this political corruption.” For any one of the supposed realms, one of the others can be used as a scapegoat for the evils of the world. Continue reading “Mad Science, Bad Science and the Cure for Everything (Originally published August 4, 2009)”

The Heresy of Ham

The title of this post is the working title of my friend’s book on the teachings and influence of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis (AIG). At present, the two of us are joining into the ongoing discussion about the relation of Christianity to Science. Neither of us accept the parameters of the debate as it is often defined by Young Earth Creationists (YEC) and their defacto debate partners, the so-called New Atheists (i.e. Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, etc.). The debate as defined by the usual and very vocal participants and, therefore, as seen presented by the media and understood by the majority of the public usually presents a very stark either/or. Either the Bible (as interpreted by Ken Ham and AIG, etc.) offers a valid, historical, and scientific account of the proximate origins of the universe and therefore Christianity is true or modern scientific theories about the proximate origins of the universe (aka Big Bang and billions of years) and the origin of species (aka Evolution) is accurate and therefore theism is false. Continue reading “The Heresy of Ham”

Ham-Handed Hermeneutics 1: Reading the Church Fathers I – Origen of Alexandria (ca. 184 – ca.254)

Currently, on Ken Ham’s website Answers in Genesis, there is a presentation of the Church Fathers’ reading of Genesis 1 by James R. Mook. The claim of Mook and the people at AIG is that up until the Enlightenment the standard interpretation of Genesis 1 is in keeping with and supports the claims of Young Earth Creationism. That is, the universe is less than 7,000 years old and that the reference to a day in Genesis 1 is to be taken as a concrete or literal 24 hour period. Continue reading “Ham-Handed Hermeneutics 1: Reading the Church Fathers I – Origen of Alexandria (ca. 184 – ca.254)”