Monthly Archives: November 2009

To A Large Extent, Random

Since the 17th century, we’ve mostly viewed nature as a great machine whose workings we have to discover. We’ve also viewed God as the Chief Designer of that machine, wholly outside of nature and only interacting with it out of his own free will. But what Darwin did was show us that evolution can be explained by wholly natural processes that are to a large extent random and ‘by chance.’ No room for a designer there. No machine whose mathematical laws we can discover.

In short, Darwin eliminates the final vestiges of God (and therefore, any purpose nature might have) from our mechanical worldview. The only options are to either (1) cling to purpose in some small way like Intelligent Design people do; (2) reject Darwin altogether like Creation ‘Science’ people do; (3) reject God altogether like metaphyisical naturalists do; or (4) change our entire worldview.

Choice #4 is the toughest, but I’m convinced it is the only option with any hope of moving us forward.

Brent Henderson, in a comment on his own article titled Can Theology and Science Make Peace in the Age of Darwin?

Theology and Science Make Peace

Like a lot of evangelikids … I experienced quite a bit of cognitive dissonance when I got out into the world a bit. … I also learned that the evidence for the overall picture of the history of life and the universe that science has given us over the past couple of centuries is overwhelming. While some of the details are unknown and other parts are a little fuzzy, it is clear that the universe is at least 14 billion years old, that earth has only been around for about 4.5 of those billions, and that during that time life on earth has evolved from a few simple kinds of organisms to all the complex and varied forms of life we see today through a process of gradual evolution.

Surprisingly, unlike others I know, validating science like this never shook my faith a bit. … I think maybe I just thought that Jesus would never want me to reject any truth, and that if both of these things were ways to approach the truth, they must fit together somehow.

Brent Henderson, from his article Can Theology and Science Make Peace in the Age of Darwin?

Christmas — Mostly About Us

While we’re worried about losing the external trappings of Christmas, such as public trees and manger displays, the real war on Christmas is practically won already. Christmas has almost nothing at all to do with Jesus. … Christmas as celebrated in America, even in most of our churches, is about us and our economic prosperity, not about Jesus and his good news.

[In the gospel of Luke] The advent comes at a time of great trouble and need. There is long expectation, hope kept alive through times of hardship, and recognition of need. When God’s gift comes it does not look like what the world sees as success or greatness. The birth of Jesus is not a commercial success. God gives himself to us at the time of our greatest need. Receiving the gospel message is like a reenactment of this in miniature. … The babe in the manger is the center of God’s activity, even though the world around hardly notices.

This is almost totally unlike our Christmas celebrations in the church or in our homes. Oh, we certainly do give something to others. There will be gifts sent to children who will not otherwise have a Christmas and food packages passed to people in need. But let’s face it. Most of our money will be spent on us. Christmas will not look largely like a spiritual experience. We’ll start celebrating it weeks early even in church. We’ll skip over the advent expectation and go straight to the Christmas celebration.

And that celebration will mostly be about us. It will largely be a commercial holiday for us. The emphasis on Christmas, such as it is, will not be a witness to Jesus, but rather to “Christianity – the Brand.”

Henry Neufeld in his article, The Real War on Christmas

Open Our Bibles to Find Out

So the proper response to the parable of the Good Samaritan is not to ask, “Did this really happen?” but “Who is my neighbor?” And once we understand that, we are bound to admit that other portions of Scripture may convey truth in the same manner as Jesus’ parables, rather than in the genre of historical narrative. If history must be treated as history and poetry as poetry—and of course they must be—then certainly parable must be treated as parable, allegory as allegory, and myth as myth. (I’m not saying the literary genres of “allegory” or “myth” do or do not appear in the Bible; only that we can’t decide the issue before we even open our Bibles to find out.)

Darrell Pursiful on his blog, Dr. Platypus

Certainly Not Scriptural

There are no chickens in the bible.

Fundamentalist Christian answer to “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Courtesy of extensive chicken-crossing research at the blog Daniel’s Think Tank

180 Degrees

An earlier generation of natural theologians pointed to God’s
wonderful design in creation in those things that science does currently
understand: the more we understand the more amazed we are! But ID
proponents argue the opposite: ‘design’ refers to that domain of events that,
in their view, science does not currently explain very well. I would suggest
that it is the former not latter position which is closer to the Biblical
understanding of God’s actions in the created order.

and

So the ID understanding of the ‘design argument’ is 180 degrees
different from the traditional design arguments of people like Archdeacon
Paley.

Denis R. Alexander, from his article Is Intelligent Design Biblical?

Otherly at its core

Otherlyness is the spiritual practice of noticing and serving others in ordinary ways. We believe Christians ought to be known for a way of living that is generous and intentionally otherly at its core.

Jim Henderson on his blog, Off the Map

Bent by Perfection

Concerning Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac:

…his knife raised and the
cascading weight of everything
crashing down, to leave him
broken there, complete and alone,
bent by perfection.

From the poem “Midrash: Abraham” by Bert Stern. Seen at Julia O’Brien’s blog.

Spiritual Torment

…Existential themes of spiritual torment…

Man, I’m saying that the next time someone asks me what I’m thinking about. It is a phrase that caught my attention while reading a post called Wiki Update at the site Letters from Kamp Krusty