Archives for posts with tag: Religious

Dr. Ball wrote an article for Anthony, over at WattsUpWithThat.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/07/18/climate-change-baltic-herring-and-the-reformation/

Very insightful article.

The rule of thumb regarding questions in headlines is that the answers must be assumed to be “no.”

So, is the Pope worried about prosperity? I’d say probably, but not in the general sense as asked in the question. The Pope may be getting such bad advice, and so much of it, that he thinks our current prosperity is only increasing as a bubble, and the crash is coming, and it will be worse than the dark ages.

Given the long view the church must take, I understand, but if the leadership of the church is trying to mitigate against loss of adherents, it has lost sight of the reason for the churches existence. Besides, Jesus himself declared He would build the church and hell would not prevail against it.

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I always enjoy reading BioLogos. The site is an extraordinary resource in so many regards.

I shared this on my Facebook page without comment. Then I shared it again with a short comment.

http://biologos.org/blog/embracing-faith-accepting-ambiguity

Now, after reading it a second time, I just have to write more.

This young woman opens her story in a depression suffered six years ago. Her depression was at least part physical, but it seems clear it primarily arose from a lack of truth and understanding. She had never found sound teaching and solid information. She had been led to believe she had only one option, of accepting or rejecting fundamentalism. She described it as thinking her only options were a fundamentalism she could no longer believe, and empty agnosticism. While certainty is certainly absurd, claiming ignorance in the ultimate sense is, in my view, irrational. I consider agnosticism as the abandonment of all reason.

Our story-teller explains that her upbringing had been fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and settled. She said any questioning was simply not accepted. The truths were known. That was not much different from my own upbringing, but my Baptist grandfather was a man of science. (An eye doctor, but he could have been anything, from a machinist to a physics or mathematics professor. He was a practical engineer, inventor, tinkerer.) He helped me learn to question everything from my earliest years.

I forget how early I started. I never accepted any notions of a young earth. From earliest school days, the unimaginable age of the earth and universe were given. I would unreservedly rebuff any assertions regarding merely some few thousand years for earth. It was just not reasonable.

It took me longer to come to grips with evolution. Gradually, by about 20 years of age, I accepted that biological evolution and common descent were simply how God created man from the dust of the earth. I accepted it based on general science, but since some of the breakthroughs of genomics, there is simply no excuse. Nothing, absolutely nothing in any aspect of every facet of science having anything to do with life in any way, including human life, makes sense without a Darwinian evolutionary framework. Theodosius Dobzhansky made this statement in the early 1970s, long before I realized it. Theo was, and remains, right. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution. It has only been recently that I became aware that people have been thinking like I do for so long.

These words of hers are particularly worth repeating:

Nearly every day for the first year or two after we moved, I prayed the words of the Roman centurion over and over and over again, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Sometimes it was all that I could manage, but over time I realized that I wasn’t clinging so hard to those words anymore, and I became more sure that even if everything else that I had ever believed passed away, I knew that Jesus was the Son of God, and that was enough. From there I began slowly and painfully and uncertainly reworking my faith.

I don’t suppose I’ve ever fallen so deep, but I’ve had similar times. Jesus is enough. Sometimes, that is all that matters, all that is real.

By the way, it has never been any aspect of science that has hurt me, only people, usually in betrayal of trust.

Impressive list of authors she found to help her learn truth: Matthew Paul Turner, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Donald Miller, Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright, Timothy Keller, and Greg Boyd.

She mentions that questions specifically about evolution didn’t come up with her for a long time. She’s not specific, but I suspect it was after college and marriage. For me, it was early. I accepted it very young, but drew a distinction at the special dignity of humanity being in the image of God. I now can hardly even remember what my arguments were. I now see the miracle of in-breathed-ness as simply something God did at the right time, and science and biology will never be able to define it, much less pin down the when of it.

Mainly noting for my own mental processing, she indicates they had four children in the space of about six years up to last year, 2014. She mentioned being busy as a mother. Busy indeed. Blessed indeed. They thought to homeschool as an interim. Liked it. Kept homeschooling. Again, blessed!

Another quote-worthy comment:

As I began researching which curriculums I wanted to use next year, I realized that all of the Christian homeschool science curriculums were likely to be written from the young-earth creationist perspective. I did not want that for my kids, so I began researching other options. That’s when I discovered BioLogos. The BioLogos team helped me find a science curriculum, but much more than that, they helped me to practically and articulately answer questions of how faith and science can be reconciled.

To this, I relate! Ask my wife. She too.

Our family moves in fundamentalist and Wesleyan circles. It comes with the territory of taking one’s faith seriously and homeschooling, especially when raised that way.

I expect to run into young-earth views and antievolutionary views, and I expect some derision, but I don’t expect hate and viciousness. Sadly, that is exactly what we occasionally see. Sometimes first person, in the flesh. Other times, more secondhand. There are periodicals we used to get, but not anymore. We dropped/avoid such because of articles that call me sinner, or compromiser, or worse, because I don’t accept their take on a few bible verses that they interpret in nontraditional ways. (Yes, check the history. YEC is a modern, post-WWI phenomenon that was based primarily in fear, but also in racism–which included southern US racism, anti-German racism, and anti-Semitism.) It is hardly compelling, but it is noteworthy that the majority of Christians reject young-earth notions and accept evolution, at least in a general, nonspecific sense.

So, for our family, finding or assembling curriculum for our scientifically inclined boys has been a challenge. My elder son is as adamant about all things science, and more so than me, with the exuberance of youth. The younger cares less about all things controversial, but the intricacies of all of creation enthrall him. That includes most all scientific topics as well as all things artistic.

Many talk about “world view.” They use it as a code word meaning narrow fundamentalist dogma.

To me, worldview must be summed in commitment to truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus is truth. I cannot cotton to lying for Jesus. I’m certain Jesus doesn’t either. Clinging to a narrow interpretation of certain scriptures does not make a worldview. Simply refusing to accept obvious, demonstrable facts and processes is dishonest. In all practical aspects life, that is lying. I seem to remember scripture explaining that liars have their place in the lake of fire. Literalist somehow have a more liberal view on that than I do.

Our story-teller explains that her growth and realization was slow, gradual, even halting. She supposes it is that way for most of us. I suppose so too. I tend to forget, though, that I have been at this longer than she has lived. I literally have been building my faith, my views, my understanding of all things science for over four decades now. Hardly any time at all. I’m still such a novice. However, I have much more experience than most people addressing such issues.

Life is a nonstop journey, with scarcely time to rest. Thank God there is a rest in Him. Still, though life is often hard, and often challenging, even thrilling, it can be so ridiculously shallow if we don’t deliberately dig deep. There is more to everything. The ultimate question, why, is never completely answered. There is always more. There will always be more. Always.

If you didn’t click the link and read her article, you really should, especially those last two paragraphs.

 

Peter J. Leithart, writing for First Things, here, http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/12/spirit-in-flesh gives us something to read, reread, and ponder deeply. A small excerpt:

A coming in “flesh” is not simply an advent “as man.” In Scripture, “flesh” has a more specific connotation. It’s the biblical name for “the weakness of the human. . . . It is the way we are vulnerable, exposed.” We are flesh because “our life is subject to touch, that is, to what gives pleasure and pain, gives joy, and makes wounding possible” (Theodore Jennings, Jr.). The Word makes himself weak and exposes himself to pain. If you prick him, he bleeds; if you tickle him, he laughs; if you crucify him, he dies. To say the Word becomes flesh is to say the Word becomes woundable and dwells among us.

Death is part of life. God made it that way. (The adversary did not.)

Jesus, the Word, the Logos, knew. He knew what it was intimately for He created it.

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life,a and the life was the light of men.5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I don’t suppose that Jesus knew as he breathed as you and me as he had known before His advent in flesh. He felt everything we feel. Insecurity. Awkwardness. I’m sure he found that one girl down the street particularly cute, and felt shy, same as I did all those years ago. He was a man. I’m certain he figured it all out as he grew. He knew His Father. He knew the indwelling Spirit. He knew.

He knew as only God can know before he took on our flesh, our weakness. He came anyway.

By the garden, He knew, limited as His realization may have been, He knew. Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine. He knew. He had to have realized the infinite breadth of the sacrifice he was about to make–how utterly it would darken his soul, but that was surely secondary to being familiar with Roman crucifixion. He was going to die in the utmost of pain, in frustration and fatigue, struggling even for every breath, as the weight of not only his own body, but the weight of the sins of us all, even the weight and vastness of the entire universe compressing upon Him. He knew. The creator knew it was required for the ultimate reality he created.

We don’t understand it. We can try. We should try, but we do not understand it.

Most of all, while He did it for all, all of everything, he would have done it just for me.

My sin drove the nails.

Love.

We saw the movie, Son of God, today. I guess my bottom line up front is that if you are looking for an emotional ride, you should be satisfied. Other than that, well, I just don’t see serious bible believers finding much in it. I don’t see much value as an evangelistic tool either.

I didn’t take time to read reviews beforehand, but a quick perusal of such at this point indicates mostly similar to my on review at the summary level.

The bible is hardly taken serious in telling the story. It is a story, plain and simple. It is almost dreamlike in flow, cutting from scene to scene, depending on audience familiarity with the basics. I’ll say the dreamlike characteristics flowed back and forth from magical fantasy, in a good sense, to nearly nightmarish at times.

With regard to scripture, much is put in, but altered, some left out, other details jumbled around for the impact of the moment. Nothing highly objectionable, but notable–too much to ignore.

My wife pointed out to the children that movies based on books are almost never the same. She found it satisfying in looking at the story in a new way. She admitted that knowing the story well from the bible was essential to her enjoyment of it. Having sound knowledge and deep faith let her appreciate the differences and ignore the discrepancies. (I do that a lot with SciFi.)

I had been forwarded information that objected to the movie doctrinally. Well, having gone in to it looking for such, I missed it if there was anything that orthodox or evangelical Christians should object to with any force.

I will say there was a strong sense of magic and mysticism to Jesus and the miracles. Jesus called Peter by reaching down into the water from Peter’s boat. Not objectionable, but it was presented mystically, as though Jesus simply had that magnetic attraction for fish, by simply swishing his hand in the water for a bit. There was generally no attempt to depict the power or awe of God.

I was quite disappointed in the depiction of two of the miracles. While the overall scene of Jesus walking on the water was a fair retelling, the Peter part was pathetic. Sorry. I hated it. Likewise the raising of Lazarus. I cannot declaim that scene strongly enough. No adherence to scripture, and no impression of the point of the event, other than to tie it into the fears of the Jewish authorities. Mystic, simplistic, and fully unscriptural.

The feeding of the 5,000 was in between for me. That magic factor detracted. The overall telling of the event was reasonable, and the emphasis was on God’s provision and the inappropriate response of the masses, but it just didn’t fit well. I suspect those who are not thoroughly familiar with the actual texts in the Gospels will find the scene rather bewildering.

I am comfortable with women among Jesus’ disciples. I thought the treatment of Mary Magdalene quite appropriate. Some will object as it was, others will decry it went not far enough.

Again, some of the emotional aspects of the movie worked quite well, and I suspect most movie goers will appreciate it, religious or not.

There were a couple of scenes early that worked this way for me, but the epitome was Simon of Cyrene. The scene was well written, and was superbly acted. Cyrene is in Libya. Good choice of actor.

Overall, I appreciated the entire cross sequence. It was entirely different from The Passion of The Christ. Passion focused on the power, the awesomeness of what our Lord did for us, the sacrifice of The Father, the compassion and terror of Mary. This rendition in Son of God focused on the poetic. It was beautiful in a sense, a harsh sense, but beautiful none the less. The flogging and actual crucifixion were rather glossed over. Oh well. It is Hollywood after all. The stabbing with the spear was simply lame. It seemed included just because someone insisted on being that much closer to scripture.

I must say I did not appreciate the extreme closeups. Aside from just not working, I also found it unnerving, like an IMax aerial acrobatics scene. Bad choice. I also found the makeup inconsistencies distracting. Further, I didn’t appreciate the scenery. There were some lovely shots here and there, but the handful of followers spread on the rocks seemed odd at best, and some of the other scenes seemed contrived, seemed to be going for an effect that was simply missed.

An extraneous note: contemporary Christian music is contemporary with me. I know many songs that depict many of the events of the movie more meaningfully for me.

Some may object to the depiction of Judas. Well, Judas is difficult. I’m okay with how they worked his character and his part of the story. Likewise Peter’s betrayal. It worked emotionally. It was human, though it just didn’t square with the scriptural details.

For a relatively long movie, they dealt with much rather quickly, giving only a shallow rendering of many of the events dealt with in the story, and much was left out. Compromises of a storyteller, I suppose. Again, it seemed the audience was expected to already know the basics of the story.

The ending was weak overall. The resurrection scenes were pedantic, merely gotten through. The meeting with Thomas was unsatisfying. The hole in the hand was shaped like an eye. The device seemed trite. Likewise the closing scene with John. It seemed just stuck on for a closing. It seemed someone was impressed with the hole-in-the-hand special effect.

So, overall, I was happy to have seen the movie. Though, I wasn’t impressed. As I said, if all you are looking for is an emotional ride, you should be satisfied. If you are looking for much else, I suspect you will still be looking afterward.

I find it somewhat of a concern that churches seem to have enthusiastically jumped on board with this movie. Perhaps I’m making more of it than I should, but I really don’t see most denominations squaring well with at least some aspects of this movie. While I’ve already stated I see no grounds for objections from doctrine, I do not see it as sound teaching. It is a well told emotional story. It is not really a representation of Jesus as reveled in the Gospels.

RJS writes the Jesus Creed blog at Patheos.org, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/, and copies his work to a WordPress blog, http://musingsonscience.wordpress.com/. He wrote regarding the camel archaeology I mentioned a few posts back, and he follows up here: http://musingsonscience.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/start-with-isaiah/ He reiterates that he mostly doesn’t think camels matter in context, and he goes on to address a couple of points raised by his commenters. The first point he addresses is how much fuss is made of such things. The “concern” is that unbelievers, or simply the worldly, jump at such either to deride or because they are weak in faith. RJS makes the case the problem is with education within the church, not that which is without, and he points out we need depth in our thinking. Quoting, “We have to guard against sound-bite shaped cut and dried alternatives. Anyone who argues in sound-bite shaped alternatives is almost always quite seriously wrong.”

Point two, I’m going to quote in entirety. It is that good.

2) how do we define “incidentals”? This question gets to the root of the problem. First and foremost we must be immersed in scripture. Not a theory about scripture, not a theology derived from scripture, but in scripture itself from beginning to end. There is no way to have a reasoned view of “incidental” features without a thorough grounding in the whole sweep of scripture. We need to read scripture publicly and regularly in substantive chunks as a part of our worship. Only by so doing will we build in our church an appreciation of scripture. If it is not worth a place on the stage in our worship why in the world would the average Christian in the pew or the child growing up in the church think it is an important part of Christian life? We must teach and emphasize the study of scripture in our churches. This cannot happen in the Sunday morning service. There isn’t enough time, the audience is too diverse, and it requires an opportunity for real discussion, questions, and interaction. Discipleship education is not secondary to formal worship, it is one of the most important roles of the church … for all ages … in multiple forms. In my opinion (take it for what its worth) one of the most pernicious myths in the church today is that success is measured by the number of unique spectators in the seats for a Sunday morning service. Success is measured in the formation of disciples of Jesus Christ. This doesn’t happen (often) through a fairly passive 55 minute experience. A thorough grounding in the sweep of scripture begins with a knowledge of the basic stories, the primeval history, the call of Abraham and the patriarchs, the exodus, conquest, judges, kings, exile, return from exile, John the Baptist, Jesus, the church. … But then we need to go deeper.

Then he suggests we start with Isaiah. “The prophets point to the gospel and the Gospels allude back to the prophets, constantly.”

Same for the Revelation.

His last bit is worth fully quoting as well (all the rest is his):

Back to the Camel. I don’t find the camel – whether actual or from a later fleshing out by a redactor – significant because the sweep of scripture is in the God’s call of his people and the failure of God’s people to forsake idols and follow God alone, the failure of God’s chosen people to love the Lord their God with heart, mind, soul, strength and to love their neighbor as themselves. This rests on the back of a camel?

In the story of Rachel and Jacob we read (Gen 31):

Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing. Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I’m having my period.” So he searched but could not find the household gods.

The camel and the camel’s saddle are incidental to the story – that Rachel took the household gods is not, or so it seems to me. This is a portent to the entire sweep of scripture. The impact of idols, Asherah poles, high places, Ba’als, the detestable god Molek, such as these permeate the story.

Returning to the commenter’s question, the exodus and king David are not incidental to the sweep of scripture, although we can ask questions about some of the details of the way these stories are told. The resurrection is essential to the fulfillment of scripture in the New Testament, but should we really worry about the fact that the details of the four different accounts are somewhat different?

If we get the big picture down, the details will work themselves out. Without the big picture, the details are nothing but piddling bits of irrelevant trivia.

What do you think.

Should we start with the prophets to understand the sweep of scripture?

If not where should we start?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/02/25/start-with-isaiah-rjs/

The article below caught my eye, but while I was thinking of the title, I remembered the two Adam Again reference of my past. An album by the great Michael Omartian, but of course also the group fronted by the late Gene Eugene. Gene worked Swirling Eddies and Lost Dogs with Terry Scott Taylor, who is absolutely one of the greatest musicians of all time.

The Economist printed this article, http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21590475-furiousand-politicaldebate-about-origins-mankind-all-about-adam, under the by line “Lexington.”

The article is worth reading. I highly recommend it for any fundamentalist or evangelical.

A couple of quotes:

“After they hit 18, half of evangelical youngsters lose their faith; entering a public university is especially perilous. As a generation, millennials (those born between the early 1980s and 2000s), are unimpressed by organised anything, let alone organised religion. Many young adults told the Barna Group, an evangelical research outfit, that they felt stifled by elders who demonised secular America.”

“The seeming paradox of a strong faith in crisis is explained by rigidity: that which cannot bend may break instead. The danger is keenly felt in conservative Christian circles, where a debate has broken out over the long-term outlook for the movement.”

“A trickier controversy has been triggered by findings from the genome that modern humans, in their genetic diversity, cannot be descended from a single pair of individuals. Rather, there were at least several thousand “first humans”. That challenges the historical existence of Adam and Eve, and has sparked a crisis of conscience among evangelical Christians persuaded by genetic science.”

Lexington closes with a snide comment about denying science. I don’t approve.

Commit to truth. Hold fast to the truth. Don’t deceive yourself into supposing you cannot be proven wrong.

I accept our first parents by faith. I make sure I don’t read into the first two chapters of Genesis, and I figure that the day before “the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” there was no visible, testable difference. That is, it seems scriptural and consistent with daily experience to suppose that natural processes were how God formed man of dust, and at some point, God did a miracle that made man godlike. (That’s from the first chapter.) I see that miracle as being spiritual, not natural.

So, was Adam historical? I think so. I don’t think I really understand it. I certainly will not try to build a model of how it all worked out, considering natural and spiritual factors. It would be untestable at best. I understand it well enough to believe God is good. I’ll leave it at that.

While preparing to discuss the Tower of Babel story with the kids today, Mary mentioned something that got me looking. I Googled it. I see lots of plays with meanings and styles, and none of it convinces me at all. When I see a discontinuity is anything written, I expect to be able to find a reason. If there is a device, I should be able to tell.

If there is an error, well, let’s just admit it. For instance, 1Chron18:4 {7,000 horsemen} vs. 2Sam8:4 {1,700 horsemen} or 1Chron19:18 {the men of 7,000 chariots} vs. 2Sam10:18 {men of 700 chariots}. It is discouraging to see writers contort and rationalize and speculate to avoid simply admitting an error. I mean, when two accounts contradict, one is wrong. It is presumptuous to assume you know which was correct, and ridiculous to rationalize the error with some sort of omitted detail, especially when the detail is ridiculous itself.

I think when we say that God is truth, and that God cannot lie, then we MUST stay committed to truth and facts. We cannot rationalize and make excuses. Read the rest of this entry »

I have a quote below that I pulled from Anthony’s site (WUWT: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/26/newsbytes-global-warming-downgraded-james-lovelock-recants/), which he pulled from Bishop Hill (link below), with additional credits, from James Lovelock.

I love that Lovelock says fundamentalists have taken over environmentalism. I think despite the fact that he is a zealot himself, he finally noticed just how religious and dogmatic it all has become. Gaia, Mother Nature, or some ideal of greenness has come to replace God in the modern religion, which is a hybrid of the faith of our fathers, the love of nature, and simple self-worship. Read the rest of this entry »

The theory of evolution is not quite correct, but it is in the right vicinity, and it is a tool. It is a good and useful tool that accomplishes many things in many fields of research and applied science.

Let us consider an adjustable wrench. To begin with, an adjustable wrench is a compromise tool. It isn’t generally the best bet, but let’s assume that precision box-end wrenches are not an option, and good pliers are not available either.

This wrench is old, rusty, loose, nicked, slightly bent, and poorly toleranced, but guess what, it will turn nuts of various sizes. It will get the job done. The worker doesn’t care about all the particulars. He just wants the nuts tightened or loosened. It is irrelevant to him that it has so many flaws. It works.

Now, in comes Mr. Fundamentalist. He says, “You cannot use that wrench! God said, “Thou shalt only use a screw driver.” The workman doesn’t care. He just grabs the wrench and tightens the assembly.

Mr. Fundamentalist cannot believe that this workman can be so cavalier and pay so little heed to the command of God. So, Mr. Fundamentalist enlists the help of others. He finds preachers who agree with him, who will preach fire and brimstone down on the workman. Mr. Fundamentalist enlists scientists who will claim that the second law of thermal dynamics insists that metals cannot solidify into strong wrenches that can turn nuts. The workman doesn’t care; he just keeps using the wrench to turn nuts.

So, Mr. Fundamentalist gets more insistent, and the workman stops and asks to see chapter and verse. When Mr. Fundamentalist gets out his bible and starts showing the workman, the workman realizes that the bible doesn’t say that at all. When he says so, Mr. Fundamentalist starts explaining how this means this, and that means that, and all in all, the bottom line is that if he keeps using the wrench, he will go to hell.

“Well,” says the workman, “I don’t know much, but I trust God as best as I can, and I’ll get to heaven or hell a lot faster if I quit using the wrench, since my boss will fire me, and I will starve to death with no job to buy food.”

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