Jun 29, 2010

honesty is the theist policy

the joys of 'chat'

atheist: "what a pity he didn't find God in all his long years"

me: "yeah, it is."

Jun 26, 2010

on the absurd - 1

discussing suicide and those who have committed it, in The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus notes:
I have heard of an emulator of Peregrinos, a post-war writer who, after having finished his first book, committed suicide to attract attention to the work. Attention was in fact attracted, but the book was judged no good.

Jun 21, 2010

sweet, sweet freedom - so .. close .. yet so .. far ...

3 days (+ 1 of pure study starting in a few mins), 3 exams; & then I can catch up with life, reading, sleep, Jesus, driving, event-planning, conference-attending, presentation planning, debate planning, essay-writing & studying for next semester.

Anyway, I decided while I couldn't sleep last night that I may start a separate blog with the occasional cartoon of my own. Wowsers! This crazy idea will quite posibly not come to fruition, but if I work out how to draw cartoons it may. Not content to use up your valuable time with one blog, I must express my brain-crap visually as well. Mwa-ha-hahaha..

So yeah, cheers.

Jun 20, 2010

we are geometricians only by chance

A quote from 'Dr Johnson' (I assume Samuel Johnson), taken from an article by philosopher Peter van Inwagen, 'Science and Scripture' in Science and Religion in Dialogue [2010] available online at Blackwell Reference. http://www.blackwellreference.com if you know how to log in as a subscriber, or via your institution if you're so blessed. If you read through this collection in conjunction with their "Companion to Natural Theology", you'll leave your computer [possibly] better educated than I on these subjects; not too small an achievement.

The last few hundred years have seen thinkers who overestimate the intrinsic value of scientific knowledge ... Against this, I would set the following statements of the “great champion of the obvious,” Dr Johnson:

We are perpetually moralists, but we are geometricians only by chance…. Our speculations upon matter are voluntary and at leisure.

[Scientific knowledge] is of such rare emergence that one man may know another half of his life without being able to estimate his skill in hydrostatics or astronomy; but his moral and prudential character immediately appears.

The innovators whom I oppose are turning off attention from life to nature. They seem to think that we are placed here to watch the growth of plants, or the motions of the stars.

Jun 16, 2010

Amerika; Amerika - we're all living in Amerika!

It isn't too often at this blog that I invite you to laugh your ass off, cry or walk away baffled.

This is one of those times. (The post-title is from Rammstein)

You can't really beat this for a story introduction:

An American man has been detained in the mountains of Pakistan after Pakistani authorities found him carrying a sword, pistol and night-vision goggles on a Rambo-style solo mission to hunt down and kill
Osama bin Laden.


Hmmm. Sword vs RPG. Which will win?

Dear NZ Herald: I know you get quite a lot of crap from people who think they're too sophisticated for you, as you don't always cater for their pansy liberal tastes. But don't worry, even if you did get this story entirely from the Associated Press, you have managed to convince me that I am still definitely a fan. Yours lovingly, Andre.

Jun 13, 2010

First! Almost.

I randomly came across a NZ blog site ranking list that has us (ME) at 316 out of 560ish! It’s run by a conservative Christian but has lots of blogs on different things, as the number 560ish indicates. Yay (!?)

a useful reminder

"Living with Jesus one day beats getting 100% in any exam."*
*From a blog I occasionally read. If they're reading this, the author knows who they are. Thanks.

I wouldn't put it quite that way, but I agree and I needed the reminder. Any exam. Jesus is better than any and all such 'success', for amongst other things he knows my mess and loves me still. This reality is more valuable even than Biological Sciences 351 - Molecular Genetics. Even full marks in that annoying International Trade paper could not compare. I write this as someone who has, occasionally at least, known about very good marks first hand - I have, you could say, a bright educational future ahead of me, indeed quite impressive in light of the past; but it is simply crap in the absence of Jesus. Putting an academic's robe and uniquely Professorial humour on it would not change its worthlessness. But God can even redeem this - unwarranted pride and all - and change it; (this too I know first hand, at least in part) this is the Christian hope.

Jun 12, 2010

Mores? We don’t have any mores! – Father Ted

(He actually said “moors”, as in heather-covered hills and such; but I’ll assume it was a clever pun).

Verification, Falsification and a direct challenge to my nontheistic readers

It strikes me as strange: that the same people who insist that science is great because it is falsifiable then go on to request (often vehemently) that religion be the same, but more importantly be verifiable, with catch-cries along the lines of “show me the evidence” or “where’s the proof?” These (verification and falsification) are quite different approaches to gaining knowledge and it is not at all obvious that they fit nicely together. Scientific theories can only be deductively ‘proven’, verified, or even shown to be likely from the evidence if we import in various other quite ‘content-heavy’ premises, which are, interestingly enough, controversial in the philosophy of science. Why are claims about religion held to such a different standard?

As an example of this: we are informed by various scienceocrats/scientismists that there are many different incompatible supernatural claims, we have no empirical way of deciding between them and they must all logically cancel each other out (in some rather obscure way) and therefore, we should all be atheists and Christians are stupid; QED. My response? Well firstly, as is common amongst the neo-godless, this apparently completely ignores the historical dimensions and the actual claims of religions like Christianity. Unfortunately, small matters of essential doctrine like the incarnation and Trinity are just more pseudobabble to those brought up in the absence or wilful rejection of intelligent theistic belief. But more controversially, I have a “tu quoque”; listen up, as it’s quite good imho; here we go: the same, my unsophisticated science-worshipping friends, is true of ANY SCIENTIFIC THEORY. I’ve implied this before, but I’ll make sure you get it: it is not empirical fact that will (can) decide between the many logically possible theories/laws etc that could account for the finite collection of observations made thus far (in many scientific fields if not all) but assumption about the nature of the universe. I have no intention to deny Science; as I've said before, I look forward to earning money from this awesome enterprise -I just hope to point out how ridiculous a common view on Christian faith is.

The assumptions are rational, you may cry. Well, so is Christian theology – and it’s probably better developed than the philosophy of science. When you add in little things like revelation and the aforementioned incarnation, we have a pretty good case. You, on the other hand, are blind guides making it up as you go and irrationally certain of beliefs which are quite simply foundation-less.

Jun 11, 2010

Weinert on Naturalism & Evolution

I'll have to finish this post another time; got distracted with Hawking & co.

Reading thru one of my phil of science textbooks on Inference to the Best Explanation & Darwin and such, I find a section which seems particularly non-rigorous. The text hasn't impressed hugely with its earlier account of Copernicus, Galileo and such (described as "the loss of centrality") - it doesn't seem to have taken into account much of the modern work in the history of science such as you'd find here: http://www.amazon.com/Galileo-Other-Myths-Science-Religion/dp/0674033272/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1276255391&sr=8-1-fkmr0, but that's another story.

"To trust in evolutionary theory means to adopt naturalism."

The section in question seems to sloppily slip between methodological and metaphysical naturalism and doesn't bother to justify the 1st, let alone the 2nd; it also conflates different hypotheses of "design" when it suits and ignores the quote from Darwin it gives in a footnote on the same page, about the relative plausibility of teleological evolutionary accounts - but I'll tell you more about it soon.

Stephen Hawking is Wrongburger

I'm sorry guys/gals, but I've gone and read atheist websites again - this time the main culprit was Pharyngula, while I was looking for a story I'd seen at some newspaper/media site. The story was on Stephen Hawking and the highlight for the cats we at this blog like to call the "New Atheist Heroes" was this quote:

"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works."

Now, let's think about this, Steve (& PZ, Pharyngula author too. And your homeboys.) Let's think about it with reference to a specific religion, so you can't try a switcheroo if you get nervous and start talking about cargo cults or Wahhabi Islam. Why not, hmmm... Christianity?

You see, Christians could conceivably quite easily claim that this faith of theirs was based on two things (I'll number them just in case): 1) observation (and experience) of Christ's life, death & resurrection. 2) thinking about what this means in the light of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit's continued witness to the Church i.e. reason. So, these two things are, or at least were originally, observation and reason. Funny that. Did you see what I just did there? Yeah, I turned your amazing (-ly flawed) observation around, but also I pretty much completely avoided Christian apologetics. I could have given you a list of reasons that naturalism is not particularly likely but Christian theism is, given the evidence we have at hand; but I didn't need to as your claim is quite easily rebutted by the fact that (while you're not specific about it), you're critiquing religions which have an historical basis which you conveniently ignore.

And it gets better. Because when we come to science, it turns out its foundations maybe aren't so independent or self-sufficient. Science works, you're quite right. Let's ask that scary next question, folks; "why does science work?" Maybe you'll say it's cos it has a good base i.e. in observation & reason. But that's problematic or at least not quite enough to satisfy; for observation & reason do not ground themselves very well. Science, if it is to make any claims to truth or even probability, or to make predictions, must assume certain things about the world. There are various metaphysical assumptions needed for modern science (I've alluded to these in the past on this blog and am likely to continue doing so) e.g. that generally, it is the simplest hypothesis fitting the evidence which is most likely to be true (or have useful predictive ability). An assumption that is far from obvious if you think about it.

And is science devoid of more standard appeals to authority? Ah -no, not really. Science, as it involves the transmission of knowledge, clearly must include appeals to authority in some form or other, a bit like that dodgy old faker, Religion. Ummm, but the claims of Science can, it will be said, all be tested - however, well.. it seems the historical claims of science can't really be tested in this experimental sense. So maybe the central claims of Christianity are a bit like an historical science? Intriguing idea, but not quite right either, as Christianity has quite a lot to do with Jesus Christ - a person, who is active today. But this brings up another field or three; like "theology" and the metaphysics of persons. Topics that I will leave for another post, or multi-volume Magnum Opus perhaps.

I leave the last word to someone who held a chair at Cambridge alongside Dr Hawking for a while, that is, John Polkinghorne; not for a proof, but for relevant questions: from http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=405402

"A lot of my friends in the academic world are both wistful and wary about religion. Wistful because they see that science doesn't tell you all you need to know, but wary because they think religion is ultimately based on submission to authority and signing on the dotted line. They don't want to commit intellectual suicide - and neither do I."
Polkinghorne is the first to admit that there are no knock-down arguments for the truth of religion, although he sees his commitment not as blind faith but as "an existential commitment that goes beyond simple rational motivation, although it builds upon it".
And he argues that "theists explain more than atheists can". He appeals, for example, to "the rational beauty of the world" uncovered by physics: "A lot of physicists, including Einstein, have a sort of cosmic religiosity."
The problem is that such beauty is only revealed to a privileged group of people with the right sort of training and mental ability; the rest of us have to take it on trust. If such "beautiful equations" are indeed pointers to God's existence, Polkinghorne agrees, "it does seem strange to say that's just a bit of luck for the chaps who happen to be good at mathematics".

I (Meta-Eq author) can only say that specialising in a field like physics or in other areas that demonstrate the beauty and order of creation, comes with its own advantages.

Oh for the days

Oh for the days when I was growing up fast
When a monopoly was a board game
Biology was something to do with plants
And I didn’t really feel the need to ask

When finances were for grown-ups, stress was broken toys
good time management was obeying someone older
Statistics was playing cricket with passing cars
And writing essays was reserved for CS Lewis

Oh for the days when people were easy to please
When friendships were facile if infrequently made
When ‘goodness itself’ was occasionally doing chores
The main problems were lack of ambition and being bored?

Oh for the days of innocence and ignorance
when philosophy was remarkably easy
proof-texting was advanced theology
and colourful chemicals proof of intelligence?

Oh for the days when life was not a maze
When insecurity existed unnoticed always
When my lack of personality was quiet
And I had absolutely nothing at all to say

Oh for the days when God was found in churches
In theory only it seemed, and perhaps just on Sundays
When I had no answers and nor any questions
And it was all good while material wants were met

Oh for the days?

Jun 10, 2010

read this and get annoyed

Yay for New Zealand. http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5242 (I found it indirectly; I only visit that particular trash-heap infrequently. I say trash-heap not, so much, because of the ego-centric main man as due to his followers).

Read the comments and see how pathetic the worship of the New Atheist Heroes is.
If you're one of these fanboys/girls, please: wake up.

If you doubt the signatories are real scientists, here's an example: http://www.cup.canterbury.ac.nz/catalogue/NZ_Inventory.shtml

There are a number of distinguished others I am aware of or know myself; the group signing this is it would appear a fairly ad hoc one, assembled in response to Dawkins. Those who think there are only 11 or so genuine scientists who are Christians in New Zealand are ignorant; there is no better word.

On another vaguely related note, I note an irony: the inventor of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy, (the late) Anthony Flew, in his later years seems to have been despised as not a true philosopher for having given up his atheism for a kind of Deism. I am reminded of this possibility by the ad hominem attacks by loser internet nobodies on these highly-qualified NZ academics who think the New Atheists are jerks (yeah sure, maybe there was a little irony in that sentence).

On 'another another' note, perhaps it's my English that is deficient, but I find this humorous:
Dr David Hardman, principal lecturer in learning development at London Metropolitan University, said:
It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief. Nonetheless, there is evidence from other domains that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability – or perhaps willingness – to question and overturn strongly felt institutions. (http://freethinker.co.uk/features/atheists-are-more-intelligent-than-religious-people/) [can you, even in the cultural sense [e.g. marriage], strongly feel an institution?]

Jun 8, 2010

The 'Arrrggh-ument' from Divine Hiddenness

P1) We can't see God - and we've even looked under the bed!
[suppressed premise P2) If you can't see someone (even after looking under the bed), they can't see you]
C1) Therefore, God cannot see us
C2) Therefore, we can have sex! With each other! (or whoever)

But seriously, I found an article on Divine Hiddenness (after I'd made a note to post this) in 'Faith and Philosophy' - a journal available thru your friendly local academic library that I recommend. It was somewhere amongst the 2008 articles, by a guy called Douglas V Henry (the V is actually a V; not a 5 I believe) and seems worth a read. I don't usually recommend things I haven't properly read, but I'll take this down if it turns out to be crap, in a few weeks; after the current time of Testing.

The ‘Arrggghh-ument’ from Evil

P1) The world appears to contain pointless moral evil
P2) As materialist pirates, we don’t believe there’s such a thing as “moral evil”

C1) Therefore, we can all have sex! With each other! (or whoever)

Picture: Wikipedia

Jun 6, 2010

clever, I grant you that. But misguided

One thing atheists have an advantage in nowadays, or so it would seem, is satire.

Here's a clever example, http://newmatilda.com/2010/03/17/hell-atheist-convention which almost looks like it might be attacking both sides; before choosing the only reasonable option, mocking modern Christians and their pretensions to rock music and motivational speaking success (the last one was my own little pet hate) cos science has proved them wrong.

Of course, someone (like myself) looking to create good Christian satire cannot just go ahead and mock science (God no!). For one, I actually intend to be scientist (at least for a little while) and it'd not be much help in finding an academic position if it was known that I'd called all scientists "evil lab monkeys who couldn't attack a philosophical argument if it sat strapped to a bench in front of them trying to poke its own eye out with a scapel" (hypothetically, of course); but perhaps more importantly, science is actually sacred. You can't touch that without getting burned, poisoned, 'accidentally' exposed to mutagens, left inside an active volcano, situated in front of beams of protons, forced to integrate ginormous expressions 'by parts', or similar.

I do nevertheless have some ideas for satire; as with most ideas, they're partly stolen and partly God-inspired. They involve.. well, sex, of course; but also a subtle attack on the assumptions of naturalism. The problem is that if you get too subtle, it'll go over most people's heads - and I'm wondering whether satire, for all it's pretensions to intellectousity (yep, it's a word, now) is generally aimed at those whose brows are situated closer to the ground than the mean; and that as such my critique would miss its target.

So.. I'll let you know if I come up with something good, perhaps after exams.

It's complicated

NZ's left wing activists and, dare I say it, many from Muslim cultures, don't like Israel.

I know, I'm pretty good at stating the obvious.

But regarding recent events, I can honestly only conclude that it's complicated. Of course, this op-ed piece from an Israeli offical is also biased, but worth a read. I doubt all the claims made are quite correct, but it only takes a few to put quite a radically different spin on it.

Next time something happens in Israel, or the United States does something, or there's an excuse to 'hate on' the Exclusive Brethren, be ready to laugh sadly at the predictable responses of those who have made a career out of political activism, or whose self-identity is so inextricably bound up with anti-conservative feeling.

And in case you're wondering, yes I do have a solution to the 'problem' of Israel/Palestine, though I didn't make it myself. It's a person; a Palestinian Jew, who hung out with prostitutes, traitors to the Jewish nation and (quite possibly) a Zionist zealot, who criticised the self-righteous religious leaders who were so far from God and the poor; a man who was killed by an uncaring imperial political power a few centuries back, who continues to change lives across radical divides. Accept him into your house and see the difference.

H/T: Maverick Philosopher

Jun 5, 2010

I've got nothing (he says, pulling out a few hundred [pre-written] words)

A bunch of half-formed blog posts sit in my computer, crouching in the depths somewhere. One day I shall fine-tune them and release them into the wild of the world wide web. For now, I give you this (as kind-of requested) - one of the essays I've submitted to a uni magazine recently. You may recognize some of the material. It's not pretty, as I wrote it exceptionally quickly (still took at least 90mins I think; idk how quick 'quick' is for others) at the request of the editor, but was, strangely enough, rejected. Below, in mini-green is another apologetic I've written. While it is likely I fail, I aim solely to please. Re-reading them I find various flaws, but if these are really that terrible, perhaps you'll be more impressed by a more subtle apologetic I handed in for my Phil of Science class, rather surprisingly gaining my highest essay mark yet. Maybe not quoting the Bible helped; though I thought Richard Swinburne would be close enough.. I'll post that in a while once I've worked out if it's allowed and if I am in fact that proud of it.

It’s widely held that NZ doesn’t have a state church and is pretty secular, unlike the unfortunate few non-religious Americans who constantly have to fight for their non-God-given right to the separation of Church and state. Further, it’s pretty obvious to many in Godzone that God is dead and the Church is following sharp on His tail. It’s less widely known that most of this is oh-so disputable.
New Zealand has more secular influence in its short history than many countries, perhaps particularly clear given the short nature of our history; but owes much to Christianity as well. Aside from the fact that modern secularism is so often a parody of Christianity and even Richard Dawkins, recent visitor to our shores, has described himself as a “cultural Christian” who “likes singing carols”, it seems NZ owes something to Jesus. More than one thing in fact. The gospel arrived in New Zealand in 1814 with the preaching and vineyard-growing of Samuel Marsden, in the Bay of Islands. Many Māori over the next few decades decided that this message was worth living by and churches have been hubs for communities of many cultures ever since. While for certain there have been horrendous mistakes made, missionaries played an important role in promoting good relations between settlers and Tāngata Whenua and organising the Treaty of Waitangi.
New Zealand’s head of state is the Queen. She happens to also be the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, but apparently these roles are separable such that NZ doesn’t technically have an established Church. Less easy to separate out is the fact that the head of state of England, and hence New Zealand, must by law be a protestant Christian. So, as it stands, there is a technical legal detail or two which gives recognition to Christianity. But more fundamentally, the legal tradition we have inherited has been based pretty squarely upon biblical concepts. The much-bashed puritans in England and Christians before and since generally attempted to make laws that accorded to God’s will as they saw it. Obviously modern lawmakers often feel no need to agree with Christian ethics, but perhaps this is something to mourn rather than celebrate.
An emphasis on protecting life and defending the weak is difficult to justify on non-religious grounds, but sure as hell it’s useful and when expressed in an abstract way such as this the morality of it is hard to deny. When this is actually applied and the rights and dignity of the weak are asserted in the face of injustice, things can get uncomfortable for those who’d rather they weren’t there. Similarly, sexual ethics may be tremendously funny to students for whom casual sex is so appealing, but some of the consequences of the breakdown of societal norms are also difficult to deny. It may be said here that you don’t have to believe in God to be good and anyway, look at all the ratbags who proudly wear the descriptor ‘Christian’! Yet, as true as this is and even if we accept that selfless sacrificial giving is just as likely regardless of what you believe, morality and newly-popular ‘human rights’ are at best difficult to ground sans God. If we are to leave Him behind, it would at least be honest to acknowledge any consequences.
Have we as a nation left God in our dust though, as we progress into a better scientific future, as some are fond to pontificate? Nominal religious belief has proven hard to shake, with around half still “Christian” of one kind or another in the 2006 census. And Christian practice continues day in, day out; churches are planted and revived; some die, but life continues. Education does not eliminate faith and in some cases such as my own, it strengthens it and undergirds it with more evidence and an increased awareness of the nature of the world and the God who made it and even, dare I say it, redeemed it from the mess we’ve so proudly caused. There are many ‘Weltanschauung’ options out there, fighting it out for our allegiance. Some come with better credentials and a brighter future than an irrational rationalism or Enlightenment devoid of luminescence.
The legal separation of Church and state has its uses for the Church and for truth, but the entire separation of religion and faith from reality and the public sphere would be rather unfortunate. A naive conception of faith is also unfortunate, given the long Christian tradition of careful reasoning and educational striving that we can claim a heritage to if we so wished. God continues to exist whatever our attitude and we as a country should be better informed than to make the popular assumption that God is just another created imaginary creature that we could dispose of along with the Pope’s hat.

“It is come, I know not how, to be taken for granted, by many persons, that Christianity is not so much a subject of inquiry; but that it is, now at length, discovered to be fictitious. And accordingly they treat it as if, in the present age, this were an agreed point among all people of discernment; and nothing remained, but to set it up as a principal subject of mirth and ridicule, as it were by way of reprisals, for its having so long interrupted the pleasures of the world.” Anglican minister Joseph Butler.

Many people nowadays aren’t too sure what Christianity is, but they’re pretty sure that it’s wrong. I’m curious about this. Maybe you’re just a little curious too about what Christianity, the world’s biggest religion, is actually about. How could this gigantic old-fashioned network of institutions be of relevance, interest or use at New Zealand’s most prestigious university? Since tertiary education is meant to involve thinking about things that students won’t necessarily instinctively agree with, the question at least might deserve a place here.

Christianity is about Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth, is, it is claimed, the Messiah, the saviour, spoken about by the Hebrew prophets and awaited by the Jewish people. There are many bells and whistles and finer points of ecclesiastical order and doctrine which differ between Christians, but one thing all can say together is “Jesus Christ is Lord.” But, why would anyone want to say such a thing? Well, maybe Jesus actually is Lord! Likely enough you think that’s just impossible and that I must suffer from intellectual deficiency, but I think whether the Jesus stuff is true has a lot to do with what Jesus said about himself; who and what he claimed to be, as well as what Christians through the ages have experienced of this extraordinary person. In other words, many Christians can say He is Lord because they really believe that this man Jesus is in charge of the universe and have seen this backed up in their own lives. What a claim!

We may disagree on many things, but if we accept that Jesus Christ walked and talked through the land of Palestine early in the first century we’ll have reason to pause when examining his character, his teachings and the miracles attributed to him. It is instructive to consider as well the nature of his followers and the early church; the people who, after all, wrote the accounts that we have today. These were often relative losers in the game of life – or so it seemed. You can read about the different apostles and others on Wikipedia, I’d just like to comment on Paul of Tarsus as one example. He was a conservative Jew, a Pharisee, and higher up the social and educational scale than most of the people Jesus chose to associate with. Ceteris Paribus, eternal life was in the bag, along with a decent life as a respected member of the God-fearing community; perhaps he could even be a Rabbi (he was, after all, a pupil of the famous teacher Gamaliel.) What more could a guy want? After coming across a rebellious blasphemous new sect later to be called Christians, he did what any self-and-God-respecting leader would – he chased them around the country and helped to stone some. The New Atheists may be a slight nuisance to the religious, but Saul knew how to really turn up the heat.

But then, on his way to persecute some more Jesus freaks, he met Jesus. To cut a long story short, he changed his name to Paul, founded a few churches, wrote much of the New Testament and in the end got thanked by the government for his work, Church history indicates, by being beheaded. The apostle Peter was crucified upside down. If nothing else, that indicates commitment. If these people didn’t have the experiences they said they did, their actions could be described as a little unusual. There are stronger terms available too, as *** [publication name replaced by 3 asterisks - I'm not quite sure why, but don't question my motives] readers will be aware. Similar end-of-life situations apply for most of Jesus’ 12 disciples – the ones who continued to claim the Lordship of Jesus in the face of reasonably unpleasant situations. Why put up with this stuff, why sign up in the first place unless they’d seen what they claimed? The Christian message has never been easy to accept. This Lord that we talk about died a shameful death on a cross, with criminals on either side. Yet in dying a shameful death, He took the shame of our failings away and replaced this with a different quality of life. We are vindicated as a result of his death and subsequently He was vindicated, being raised by God from the dead. That sounds implausible perhaps; dead men don’t generally rise again. I guess that’s why the people who saw it decided it was a miracle.

There are many competing views of the world out there. In fact it’s like an illegal fighting league crossed with a playground boasting contest. Each of the competitors makes spectacular claims; they talk after all about the nature of the universe, meaning and existence; but not all are well corroborated by historical evidence or our experience of human nature. Naturalism, for instance, (a number of the cool kids reading this article hold this view) faces some pretty serious philosophical challenges, aside even from the historical arguments hinted at. The origin of the universe is a bit of a blank area and the origin of life is also pretty tricky. Consciousness remains a problem for a strict naturalism and objective morality is a bit of a joke without God, which all bring up some interesting questions I suppose. Key to the whole debate it seems is the realisation that Christians are not atheists with one extra god chucked in – in fact, God makes a world of difference in all kinds of fields and without Him, any naturalistic programme will lack some pretty important solid foundations.

Maybe you’re a practical kind of person. Philosophy is nice for religious people with nothing better to do, but what use is Jesus really? In my own life, the answer is simply “much.” Jesus offers the kind of forgiveness and love that turns people, situations and from there I believe societies, around. It’s intriguing that one of his central messages was “turn around and hear the good news” – for, the good news available can turn your life around; if you’ll let it. One person who found this was William Wilberforce, famous for leading a campaign against slavery and less famous for starting something that would turn into the RSPCA. Believing in Jesus has consequences. Perhaps these aren’t what the ‘New Atheists’ have cracked up over them supposedly being.

Oh and that quote I started with? That was from 1736, well before various intellectual challenges to the church currently in vogue turned up, before archaeological investigation allowed biblical narratives to be checked for accuracy, as well as before the huge evangelical revivals which have, directly and indirectly, had such an impact on so many countries. This impact continues.

Jun 1, 2010

So, .. you believe in "possibilities"? Well, we believe in possi-BIBLE TEES!

Bible Tees, get your Bible Tees!

Once I invent some slogans for my tees, I might share them with you, my respected readers.

At the moment, I'm thinking keep it simple; random Bible verses, tastefully printed, could cause quite a fashion stir. Taking them out of their context and adding a question mark to the end of the quote could please the Ones Who Know about such things. Watch out World! (no one will have got it, but that was meant to be a reference to World of Warcraft. Yes, I know that's strange).

But, for now:

**for everyone:
1) Goliath says: "Don't get stoned (by) kids"

**for the girls:
2) Jael, Heber's wife says: "Wanna go camping?"
(Judges 4:21) I just love the last sentence of that vs in the KJV at least. "So he died." You don't say?

**for the guys:
3) [TBA]