Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Monday, December 27, 2004
Here's the text of a letter by 200 clergy from different denominations in Wisconsin (USA). They sent this letter to school officials who approved a curriculum which would include Intelligent Design as a model for understanding origins. It shows that not all Christians believe the same thing about Genesis 1 and can still remain Christians.
Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey information but to transform hearts.
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rest. To reject this truth or to treat it as 'one theory among others' is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God's good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God's loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.
Source: The Church of Critical Thinking
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Friday, December 24, 2004
- It is just about individual autonomy
- We all need the 'right to die'
- The central issue is pain
and others. The author (Kevin Yuill) finishes the article with a compelling question of alternatives:
So shall we project our own cramped and gloomy worldview on to those who are most sensitive to counsels of despair? Or shall we continue to view all human life as valuable, doctors as curers of physical disease (rather than prescribers of death for therapeutic reasons), and life as worth living?
You can read the full article here: Ten myths about assisted suicide.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Monday, December 20, 2004
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
The promise of smart is that it purports to be a way to talk about quality in a sea of quantity. But the problem is that it internalizes the competitive ethos of the university, aiming not for the cultivation of intelligence but for individual success in the academic market. It functions something like the old shibboleth 'quality of mind,' which claimed to be a pure standard but frequently became a shorthand for membership in the old boys' network. It was the self-confirming taste of those who talked and thought in similar ways. The danger of smart is that it confirms the moves and mannerisms of a new and perhaps equally closed network.I guess we'd better rethink our desire to be smart!
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Parents need to abandon the idea of perfection and give up some of the invasive control they've maintained over their children. The goal of parenting ... is to raise an independent human being.Surely that, too, is the aim of Christian education in home, church, and school. It reminds me of the phrase in Hebrews (5:13, NLT): 'a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life'.
biologists' investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved"
Apparently, Flew's reasons for changing is mind about the possible existence of God is similar to the Intelligent Design (ID) movement's which argues that the complexity of nature requires an intelligence behind it. You can read the whole story here.
You might also like to read the press release from the Institute for Metascientific Research who ran the symposium at which Flew revealed his change of mind. Another interesting site on Flew is here where you can read past writings and comments regarding Flew.
All in all, quite a remarkable event.
Friday, December 10, 2004
Under the Groningen protocol, if doctors at the hospital think a child is suffering unbearably from a terminal condition, they have the authority to end the child's life. The protocol is likely to be used primarily for newborns, but it covers any child up to age 12.
You can read the whole news story here.
Bible.org is a site where you can find all sorts of Bible study resources including the NET Bible, an online theology course, sermon illustrations, study tools, and more. But a site like this needs a quick way to find things. Bible.org have released a dedicated toolbar that installs itself in your internet browser (in the same way that, say, the Google toolbar does). You can quickly type in a topic and hit the search key and it will return results from the Bible.org site. You can download it here. It's FREE and very useful.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Thursday, November 25, 2004
- The World Magazine article can be read here.
- Peter Singer's own website can be found here.
- The Wikipedia has an article on Peter Singer including links to anti-Singer sites here.
- You can find the transcript of a conversation with Peter Singer here.
- Julian Baggini, one of the editors of The Philosopher's Magazine reports on an interview with Peter Singer here.
Please note that, by providing these resources to Peter Singer, I am not condoning his beliefs or approach to ethics. I believe, however, that Christians need to know about one of the most influential ethicists of our time.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Saturday, November 20, 2004
content to affix its logos to the arena and insinuate its insipid prayers into the ritual of saluting the emperor as a sanctimonious prelude to the fun of watching the killing. With private altars in every household, the Cineplex has shown that it can rival the churches as the place to experience what passes for sacred mystery.The article is a demanding but worthwhile read.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
When God speaks of a new covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and ready to be put aside. (Heb 8:13) The old system in the law of Moses was only a shadow of the things to come, not the reality of the good things Christ has done for us. (Heb 10:1)
Hebrews 3 and 4 tell us that Jesus is greater than Moses and that now, in Christ, we can enter the rest that the Sabbath pointed to. The burden of the Mosaic legal code with all its regulations about Sabbath keeping has gone. So we don't have to worry about our appliances keeping the Sabbath!
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
And here is the entry for fanatic: Someone who strongly believes something I don't believe.
If you'd like a "serious" laugh with a bit of meat then this book could be for you.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Firstly, I'd like to share this wonderful quote with you from Bertrand Russell:
Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do. (Bertrand Russell--Quoted in Antony Flew's Thinking About Thinking)Secondly, I've started the Thinking Christian website again from scratch. You can click here to take a look. There isn't much there yet but I intend to use it primarily as an archive of links, resources, and other bits and pieces that I mention here in the blog.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
- NATURE: The history of ideas about the external order of nature studies by the physical and biological sciences, ideas also present in common usage, imaginative literature, myths about nature, metaphysical speculation.
- HUMANITY: The history of ideas about human nature in anthropology, psychology, religion, and philosophy as well as in literature and common sense.
- ART: The history of ideas in literature and the arts in aesthetic theory and literary criticism.
- HISTORY: The history of ideas about or attitudes to history, historiography, and historical criticism.
- POLITICS: The historical development of economic, legal, and political ideas and institutions, ideologies and movements.
- RELIG. & PHIL: The history of religious and philosophical ideas.
- MATH & LOGIC: The history of formal mathematical, logical, linguistic and methodological ideas.
As you can see there is a vast range of information on all sorts of ideas. Well worth a look.
Friday, November 05, 2004
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Sunday, October 31, 2004
- Anyone who disagrees with me must be disagreeing with God.
- I am able to determine who is a true Christian and who isn't.
- I am inclined to be arrogant and dogmatic about my beliefs in comparison with others.
- I am inclined to consider myself more spiritual than those who 'obviously' don't understand the Bible correctly.
- I will be unwilling to listen to any point of view that does not agree with my own.
I could go on... I think you get the idea. If I believe that my understanding is identical to God's understanding then I can speak on behalf of God. There is an important intellectual trait that needs to be developed by all of us who call ourselves Christians -- intellectual humility. Intellectual humility is
Having a consciousness of the limits of one's knowledge, including a sensitivity to circumstances in which one's native egocentrism is likely to function self-deceptively; sensitivity to bias, prejudice and limitations of one's viewpoint. Intellectual humility depends on recognizing that one should not claim more than one actually knows. It does not imply spinelessness or submissiveness. It implies the lack of intellectual pretentiousness, boastfulness, or conceit, combined with insight into the logical foundations, or lack of such foundations, of one's beliefs. (Anon)
Essential to developing this trait is a recognition that all reading of Scripture is an act of interpretation. Whenever we read the Bible, we do so from our own frame of reference which filters what we read. This is why so much work has been done by scholars in developing rules of interpretation (hermeneutics). For example, we need to understand the historical context of a passage of Scripture; who the passage was written to; what the intention of the writer was; what type of literature it is; and so on.
It is naive to believe that we can just come to the Bible (or anything we read) with a clean slate -- with no preconceptions or prejudices -- and just absorb the truth of the Bible with 100% accuracy. This naivety is what I saw during the discussion I described above. The sad thing is not so much the fact that a person has this point of view and may be missing out on the opportunity to grow in understanding; it is, rather, that operating from this position seems to lead to attitudes which are destructive and which hurt other people. Those who subscribe to this view seem very afraid that open discussion and consideration of perspectives other than our own will lead to the undermining of faith. From what I have observed, however, the 'fundamentalist' attitude described, if it manifests itself in the sort of behaviour we experienced, will do more to undermine and damage someone's faith than any honest examination of ideas will ever do.
Anon. Valuable Intellectual Traits. Retrieved 31 October, 2004, from http://www.criticalthinking.org/University/intraits.html
Boone, K. C. (1989). The Bible Tells Them So: The Discourse of Protestant Fundamentalism: State University of New York Press.
Help Me With Bible Study: http://www.helpmewithbiblestudy.org/index.html
The much-hyped Columbia University prayer study was flawed and suspicious from the start but now has been fatally tainted with fraud. The first-named author doesn't respond to inquiries. The 'lead' author said he didn't learn of the study until months after it was completed. And now the mysterious third author, indicted by a federal grand jury, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. All his previous studies must now be questioned.
You can read the fascinating expose here.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Sunday, October 24, 2004
This flaw usually occurs in face-to-face discussion. A discussion in which this flaw occurs is likely to be heated and aggressive in tone. The advocate is loud, threatening and voluble. He or she doesn't allow the opponent an opportunity to make his or her argument. When the opponent seeks to make a point, he or she is cut off abruptly and not allowed to finish. The speech rate of the advocate is rapid with minimal pauses. The flaw of browbeating can also occur in print, but the histrionics characteristic of browbeating are limited by the mode of communication... browbeating when expressed in print or writing is better described as polemics.
Friday, October 22, 2004
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
A philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth; asserts that words can only refer to other words; and attempts to demonstrate how statements about any text subvert their own meanings: “In deconstruction, the critic claims there is no meaning to be found in the actual text, but only in the various, often mutually irreconcilable, ‘virtual texts’ constructed by readers in their search for meaning” (Rebecca Goldstein).Of course, issues of certainty, identity, and truth are important considerations for any thinking Christian. We have struggled with these ideas for centuries. The really controversial assertion, of course, is that 'there is no meaning to be found in the actual text, but only in the various, often mutually irreconcilable, ‘virtual texts’ constructed by readers in their search for meaning.' Christians claim to interpret the Bible and derive from that interpretation truth claims about what God has said to humanity. If it is true that the only meaning of a text is whatever the reader(s) construct and that there is no objective meaning in the text itself, it would appear to suddenly sweep away the whole basis for finding truth in Scripture. The problem, of course, with the deconstructionist claim is that, applied to itself, the deconstructionist claim has no objective truth value -- the only 'truth' the claim holds is that which is constructed in the reader(s). I have never read Derrida (I tried once and found it too hard!). But if the Heritage Dictionary quote accurately represents the essential claim of deconstructionism, then what is the point of a Christian trying to understand the 'truth' of Scripture? A better way of proceeding, in my view, is to recognise the valuable 'truth' in deconstructionism that all our interpretations of a text occur from a particular point of view and are naturally biased toward our own subjective, egocentric, ethnocentric presuppositions and assumptions. Recognising that truth is an essential beginning for correctly interpreting a text. If this inherent bias is honestly acknowledged then we can take steps to counteract that tendency. This is why, over the years, important principles of interpretation (hermeneutics) have been developed for studying the Bible. A thinking Christian who wants to be responsible in reading Scripture should make a study of hermeneutics. If you want to do this, you might like to start here.
Monday, October 18, 2004
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Saturday, October 16, 2004
Friday, October 15, 2004
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition; By that sin fell the angels. How can man then, The image of his maker, hope to win by it?It was somewhat of a surprise, then, when I came across Hewitt's book in my local Christian bookstore. The author clearly believes that some Christians will feel called to move in powerful circles in the world influencing it for God. This is obviously a dangerous enterprise for a Christian given that much of the world of power operates on questionable principles from a Christian point of view. Hewitt recognises this danger and his book is full of advice on how to influence the world while remaining true to Christian principles. Most of the advice is common sense and is not specifically Christian -- where to live, what to avoid (eg tatoos), appropriate dress, making good friends, being humble, how to converse, handling money, and so on. In fact, as I read it, I almost forgot it was specifically written for Christians except for the occasional reminder of the Great Commission or some other reference to Christian morality or perspective. This means that the book could be read by just about anyone wanting practical advice on managing a career along with a desire to influence the world. Overall, the book is down-to-earth, simple to read, and practical. In some places, the Christian perspective could, perhaps, have been more clearly distinguished from others. But read critically, it provides some helpful guidance for those who are starting out on their careers or along the road. You can read more about this book or purchase it here.