Category: Science

The Case for Christ

Approaching Apologetics

The Case for ChristIn my later teen and early young adult years, apologetics were a fairly important discipline to me. I read all of Lee Strobel’s “Case For…” books. Looking back on them, there were some great ideas that I’m glad I picked up in an accessible way there instead of in a philosophy class. There were also a lot of things that I soon realized were really bad arguments, such as the treatment of evolution as obviously contrary to true Christianity as well as a lot of thoroughly-debunked arguments against evolution. I have an easier solution to that one: why couldn’t God create the world and move it to where we are today through an evolutionary process?

Arguing Into the Kingdom?

At the time, the purpose for apologetics was essentially to be able to argue people into the Kingdom. That never works. Discussing issues with somebody may be helpful and I’ll get to that, but if you approach a discussion with the attitude that you need to convince inferior intellects of why you are right, you are never going to convince them you are right. People don’t respond well to being treated as inferior. They get defensive and usually end up further entrenched in their prior beliefs.

#HamOnNye

I did not watch the debate myself although I did follow it on Twitter. I’ve never been to the Answers in Genesis museum myself. I have read a lot of Ken Ham’s quote and seen video of him speaking. I know I’m hardly an expert on his opinion, but I think I’ve encountered enough to understand some major problems with his thought. Without even getting into the science, here are a few:

Bad Bible Study

We could go at the most surface level at point out that Ham doesn’t really know how to study the Bible. We could point out that the Hebrew word yom does not necessarily mean a 24-hour day but simply means a period of time. We could also point out that Hebrew genealogies were never meant to be a detailed history of every generation, even if we do presuppose that everybody in them are literal figures, so we can’t simply add up the numbers of generations to conclude the age of the Earth.

Bible

Academia and Me

Krista Dalton recently wrote a great piece about how some Christian culture sees academia as the Bogeyman, using the upcoming film God Is Dead as an example. Krista says this, which sums it up well:

As a phd student, as a young scholar, as a person driven by questions from the moment I first opened my eyes as a child, this fear of me, this projection of me as the bogeyman, baffles and pains me. I am not trying to destroy your faith by making you think about history, context, and theory. I am not an enemy because I desire intellectual exercises in addition to my spiritual practice. Yet this film makes it seem that the college professor lurks on the edge of chaos, ushering in all manner of evil with the words “God is Dead.” In effect, the college professor is the Christian bogeyman.

Creationism in the Genesis Account

Depending on your church location and denominational background, this question could be treated as the most important one for judging people. My first job, then, in this post is to argue for why it does not matter how exactly God went about the process of creating the world. After that, I will briefly outline 3 different perspectives about how God might have created the world.

The Author of Creation Matters… The Method Doesn’t

Somebody please explain to me why it would matter if evolution is true or not. Let me be clear: I’m referring to the scientific theory of how we got from early organisms to the complex world we have today. I am not referring to naturalistic philosophy. To put it a different way, evolutionary creationism, young earth creationism, and intelligent design (explained below) all have the same foundational worldview: God is the author of all things. They just don’t agree on how God created all things and I can think of zero reasons why that matters.

The Antiscience Church

I’ll be fairly quick on this chapter of You Lost Me by David Kinnaman for a couple of reasons. First, the dynamics here in Canada and most of the rest of the world is different than in the United States where the research was carried out because of certain literalist tendencies that are more prominent there. Back in high school, I was in a Statistics course and we all had to do an independent study on a topic of our choice. I remember a classmate tried to correlate faith with career paths of other Grade 12 students. In her final presentation, she expressed that she was surprised to find no difference between the religious and non-religious students, having expected the religious students to be slanted towards the arts and the non-religious towards the sciences. To me this demonstrates something interesting: there is still somewhat of a perception that Christianity and science are supposed to be enemies, but the majority of people within the church – at least within Haliburton, Ontario churches as interpreted by 18-year-olds – seemed to have missed that memo and had no problem reconciling the two.

Tohu va Bohu

The Genesis account of creation claims that God created the world out of “tohu va bohu.”  Translations on this will vary, but it means something like “formless and void” or “waste and empty” or simply “chaos.” For this post, I’m going to look at two different approaches for why this phrase could be used. I don’t really support the first approach but since many Christians treat the Genesis account as a science textbook I will play along with that paradigm for a few minutes and examine two different conclusions I come up with. Then I’ll move on to what is probably (in my opinion) a much better approach: the literary one, i.e. what was the point that the author(s) was trying to get across by having God create the world out of chaos?

The Scientific Approach

Please note in this section that I am not a scientist. I do have a basic understanding of theories of the beginning of the universe as well as of evolution but for the most part this is not my domain of specialization. I am going to hypothesize about scientific readings of this Scripture text mainly because so many other Christian theologians do the same whether they should or not.

Science and Faith

There’s this odd idea that there is a contradiction between science and faith. There are of course a couple of famous stories why this is thought to be true: Galileo claiming that the sun was the centre of the universe got him killed, and the Scopes trial over evolution in the American school system. But those are a couple of exceptions that to me prove the rule that the conflict is drastically over-exaggerated or even entirely fabricated.

History of the Conflict

Historically, this supposed contradiction is pretty recent. Almost all of the most significant early scientists were Christians who were motivated by learning more about the world God had made. Equally ironic, it was secularists later in the modern era who first started saying that we must interpret the Bible by its literal meaning only and that this meaning was the same for all time in all contexts. Then a lot of conservative Christians started debating those terms instead of sticking to how they had previously interpreted things. Prior to this, including for many of these early scientists, Christians understood Scripture to have multiple levels of meaning and thus did not presume that the Bible was a science textbook. It’s even in the New Testament as those authors clearly find different interpretations for many Old Testament texts than the clear meaning as they view everything through the lens of Jesus.

Fundamentalists Set Up Their Young People to Lose Their Faith

I came across a short blog with a great insight from An Anabaptist in Perth called Setting Up Young People to Lose Their Faith. I’ve encountered the same thing so thought it would be good to reblog it for others to consider. It’s fairly simple:

  1. Often taught as the single most important doctrine in evangelical fundamentalist circles is the inerrancy of Scripture (that it has no mistakes of any kind, including historical, scientific, mathematical, etc.)
  2. They also constantly drill into young people that they need to make the Bible central to their lives, reading every word literally.
  3. Many young people follow those instructions.
  4. Since they do, it doesn’t take long to discover something clearly wrong, like that the Bible says Pi is exactly 3.
  5. Therefore, since the central doctrine of the Christianity they’ve been taught says that the Bible is inerrant, either Pi is 3 or Christianity as a whole has to be rejected.
  6. Most quite logically opt for the latter, although lots go for the former too (and I’ve even heard of a small group who still believe the Earth is the centre of the universe).