Sunday, October 31, 2010

Joyful optimism without the modernist baggage

Previously I posted about the naive optimism so characteristic of modernism, whether in the unification of Yugoslavia or Stephen Hawkings view of what string theory can deliver. Irenicum wrote a perceptive comment on that post about how these views are so problematic because they overlook the sin of man.

It is interesting to see the critical but appreciative manner in which Karl Barth engages with the optimism of the 18th century, particularly embodied in Leibniz [better known to a science nerd like me as co-inventor of Calculus than as a philosopher].
Note that the wikipedia entry on Leibniz's Theodicy and optimism, states "the word “optimism” here is used in the sense of optimal, not in the mood related sense, as being positively hopeful, as contrary to pessimism."

As usual Barth is full of surprises.
It is worth considering this historical phenomenon, because in all its forms it approximates closely to the doctrine of creation as justification as it must be represented in dogmatics, and this approximation cannot be overlooked, and is not so simple to explain as might at first sight appear.

We, too, have had to state clearly the principle that the nature as well as the existence of the created world is affirmed by God its Creator, so that to this extent it is justified and perfect.

It is notable that in the whole history of ideas there is hardly a single verdict which verbally corresponds so closely to the Christian verdict as that of 18th century optimism....

It cannot be denied that Leibniz and all his stronger and weaker followers proclaim glad tidings, and thus display a formal affinity to the proclamation of the Gospel. Nor is it an accident that this century of all others produced the finest music: J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel, Gluck and Haydn, and the incomparable Mozart. And from this source there gushed out in other directions too a whole stream of natural joy in life in the strength of which we still live to-day....

Maintaining the same background, but emerging from it, even Christian preaching must take up again the theme of the stern and unmistakeable judgments of God, and learn to proclaim rather more radically and restrainedly what it means that all things work together for good to them that love God....

[Leibniz] must be taken seriously in dogmatics because he too, although in a very different way, tried to sing, and in his own way did in fact sing, the unqualified praise of God the Creator in His relationship to the creature....

....the Christian way of affirming the Creator's justifying Yes to His creation obviously has another dimension and a wider scope. It includes what is palpably missing in optimism: a true and urgent and inescapable awareness of the imperilling of creation by its limits, of sin and death and the devil. Unlike optimism, it has a compelling reason to view reality as a whole and therefore in this dimension too, and to take it seriously as a whole and therefore with an eye to this aspect too. For this reason it cannot be equated with 18th century optimism.
Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 3.1 The Doctrine of Creation, p.404-7.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Did Australian gun control reduce suicide rates?

In Australia, following the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996, the government iniiated much stricter gun control [already much stricter than the USA]. One initiative involved buying back semi-automatic weapons and shotguns. Since then there have been no multiple shootings, whereas before then there was a shooting every one or two years. Australia has a high suicide rate among young males. In rural areas many of these involve shotguns. A natural consequence of the buyback might have been a reduction of such suicides. An interesting Sydney Morning Herald article from August this year reports
[Then Prime Minister] Mr Howard's agreement with the states to ban and buy back more than 600,000 weapons after the massacre at Port Arthur in April 1996 cut the country's stock of firearms by 20 per cent and roughly halved the number of households with access to guns....
The buyback cut firearm suicides by 74 per cent, saving 200 lives a year, according to research to be published in The American Law and Economics Review...

Two of the independent rural MPs now holding the balance of power in Parliament opposed the plan.
The actual research article is here. A second article which reaches a different conclusion [there was no significant reduction in firearm suicides due to the buyback] from the same data is here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fundamentalism is an attitude

Michael Jensen has a very thoughtful article For and against fundamentalism, on the ABC Religion and Ethics site. It gives a lot of good historical information about the history of Christian fundamentalism and a balanced perspective. Here is a small extract:
I would accept that "fundamentalism" is descriptive of a kind of religious mentality which is in evidence most egregiously in a kind of epistemological double standard. That is, it is a mentality that confidently asserts the objectivity and interest-free status of its own reasoning while at the same time decrying the prejudice and interest-laden nature of the reasoning of its opponents.
This is the kind of "rationalism" that Harriet Harris decries in her book Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, and which she claims to find evident in much of conservative evangelicalism. Why is it bad?
It is chiefly bad for spiritual rather than intellectual reasons. That is, it fails to be a posture of humble confidence rather than belligerence. It claims to know what it cannot. It is pastorally irresponsible, because it relies on intellectual short-cuts which people may accept for a time and then begin to doubt, to their spiritual detriment.
I would also argue that it is bad because the fundamentalist mindset is actually not faithful to Scripture....

However, it is a grave theological mistake to accord one's theological convictions the finality that only the judgement of God can give them. Belligerence is not the necessary complement of confident conviction.
Let me be clear. Fundamentalism is a mentality to be avoided in whatever guise. But one does not eschew the name "fundamentalist" on account of wishing to look respectable. The term is treated with such a mixture of alarm and contempt in the contemporary world that you could be forgiven for not wanting to be the target of such opprobrium.
But respectability is not a category that ought to interest Christians if it means compromise of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians are those for whom being killed by one's neighbours for what one believes is a consideration! After all, it was not dignity or status that Christ himself pursued. Respectability is not a Christian category.
If being fundamentalist means "not one of the respectable people," then I would happily accept it.

Guard against greed with gratitude and generosity

I produced this alluring alliteration to help me summarise a challenging and helpful talk, entitled "Money, Money, Money" I heard yesterday on campus by Andrew Brown, a staff worker for AFES.
The talk was a clear exposition of Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:9.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Singing the Hallelujah chorus (Biblically)

Everyone loves the Hallelujah chorus in Handel's Messiah, especially at Christmas time. Hearing and singing it with great gutso is exhilirating. Even non-Christians get into it.
But is there such a chorus in the Bible? It is intriguing that the word Hallelujah only occurs four times in the New Testament, and only in Revelation 19:
"Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
 2for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
   who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants."
 3Once more they cried out,
   "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever."

 4And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, "Amen. Hallelujah!"
Wow! That is intense. It is not exactly warm and fuzzy. Singing Hallelujah  is associated with praising God for bringing just judgement on evil. 
"Hallelujah!For the Lord our God
   the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
   and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
   and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
   with fine linen, bright and pure" 

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Key ideas about the relationship between the Bible and Science II

Previously, I posted what I thought were some of these. My wife, Robin, rewrote these in a clearer and more basic fashion.

1.      The same God created this physical world and came to live on earth as Jesus and die for our sins.

2.      Science and the Bible have different purposes.
        They show us different sides of what is true about this world.
Science is great at helping us understand the physical world but can't help us understand the meaning and purpose of life.

Science helps us understand How and When.
The Bible helps us Who and Why.

3.      Science involves faith: that it can reveal truth about the physical
world and that there are laws to be discovered.

4.      We can't understand everything:
        About this physical world: Science does not give clear answers about some things.
        We can't understand everything about God: The Bible does not give a clear picture about certain things.

5.      A distinction must be made between:
        belief in evolution as a biological process
        belief in evolution as a world view.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The ripple effect: for good and evil

We are not islands. Our actions, both individual and collective, both positive and negative, have consequences for others, often far beyond those expected.  Most actions are not private, even if they should be or we wish they were.

I have been noticing this lately.

An alcoholic father not only ruins his own life. His children are deeply affected, especially in their tendency to addictions, and their ability to maintain stable relationships. Tragically, the damage is passed on to the children's children.

Greedy bankers lend too much money for dodgy mortgages. Banks fail. Stock market plummets. People loose their jobs. Tax revenues drop. Schools and hosptitals are closed....
Welcome to the Global Financial Crisis.

A football coach drinks too much, then drives, is arrested, and then fired. Lawsuits follow, players leave, and team perform plummets. Fans are disappointed and the club loses copius amounts of money.

A politician has an affair.  Tabloids get wind of it and government grinds to a halt as it is consumed  with dealing with the ensuing scandal and media circus.

"How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fie, a world of unrighteousness. ..., setting on fire the entire course of life..."
James 3:5,6

This is depressing but sobering. Our failings can effect so many.

On the positive side. Small acts of kindness, courage, grace, and obedience can multiply in great blessings for others.

One African-American lady refuses to give up her seat on the bus to whites.

One Chinese man stands in the path of a tank...

An affluent western family sponsors a child in the developing world...

The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

When the doctors lack of bedside manner is funny

My family was finding Foyle's War a little intense and so we moved to somewhat lighter British television fare, Doc Martin, about a general practitioner (GP) with limited social skills in a small village on the coast of Cornwall. The scenery is splendid and it is full of colourful and amusing characters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An event I wish I could attend

On Friday 19th November The Faraday Institute at Cambridge has a  public lecture which will take the form of a Public Discussion between the literary writer and critic Professor Terry Eagleton and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, on the subject "Responses to the New Atheism."
Eagleton is a prominent atheist who has made stinging critics of the "New Atheists" such as Richard Dawkins. I wrote an earlier post about him recommending reading the New Testament.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

God's Kingdom cannot be reduced to an equation

My family has been having some lively discussions about how we should interpret circumstantial events, particularly when they follow us praying about them. This morning I changed my mind about the views I was expressing. Many of us, including myself, would like to be able to have well-defined criteria that allows us to say how and when and why God acts in a particular situation. But, I am challenged by reading Jesus parable of the labourers in the vineyard.
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house...  'I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and first last.
One thing we can be sure of is that the God of the Bible, the Father of Jesus Christ, is always more generous than we expect and than we can imagine.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

From Yugoslavia to String Theory: Modernist Towers of Babel

The scientific successes of Newtonian mechanics eventually led to the intellectual hubris of the Englightenment and Modernism. The promise of rational man discovering universal truth that will liberate him and create a just technological society.

I found the following fascinating
Marxist-Leninist ideology concerning the national question was largely derived from the eighteenth-century Enlightenment: it wanted to overcome the past and reject it. When applied to Yugoslavia, exactly because of its similarity to the Enlightenment it helped the Yugoslav Communists to perceive the common ethnic, linguistic and other characteristics of Croats and Serbs.... Marxism and the Enlightenment also shared the belief that humanity could create new human beings and a fundamentally different society
The contested country: Yugoslav unity and communist revolution, 1919-1953, Aleksa Djilas (Harvard University Press, 1991).

In my lectures in Serbia this was juxtaposed with the final sentences of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time where he looks forward to what String Theory can offer humanity.
If we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, .... Then we shall all ...[discuss] why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would truly know the mind of God.
This all reminds me of Genesis 11:
1Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.... 4Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth."
Science, technology, and multi-culturalism have their merits and a role to play. But, none can deliver an inevitable progress towards human utopia nor a personal knowledge of the Creator and Redeemer of the universe.

The things we do for love (of money)

 When I was in Serbia there was some discussion about the role of organised crime. Apparently they have no trouble uniting across ethnic lines! As in many areas of life, greed for money and power can unite people in strange ways. I also saw on the TV the beginnings of the riots at the Serbia vs. Italy game. Hence, it was sad to see this article about the two possibly being linked.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A few vignettes and highlights from Serbia

going to a restaurant on the Danube in Belgrade ….hearing stories about roma [gypsy] communities being transformed by people becoming Christian... going to the police station to register as a foreigner.... hearing peoples views about the "gay pride" parade in belgrade and the associated violence... drinking yoghurt… kissing on the cheek three times for the Trinity ….. a hotel keeping my passport for the night since I am a foreigner ..... hearing from an orthodox priest about the importance of reading the Gospels... seeing Belgrade airport is named after a physicist, Tesla... being invited to an Orthodox families krsna slava  (saints day celebration) … about drug addicts having their lives transformed by Christ… after teaching how astronomy tells us the universe is 13.7 billion years old, being shown the warning in Colossians 2 "do not be taken captive by worldly philosophies"…  eating delicious squid at a restaurant overlooking the Danube and Novi Sad…. hospitality..... learning more about a rich culture and history....  being confronted with just how affluent I am and protected from civil war, economic upheaval, ....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ironies, ideology, and football

On my Belgrade-Frankfurt flight I got a free copy of the European edition of The Wall Street Journal. It had an interesting article, European Football goes feudal, which begins with the following fascinating paragraph:

The dichotomy between European soccer and the National Football League has presented a stark philosophical contrast over the past few decades.
Despite the deregulation and laissez-faire capitalism pushed on the U.S. economy at large since the Reagan Era, the NFL's strict, centralized model geared at achieving parity has always recalled socialism. And while most Western European nations turned to some variation of a social-democratic economic system, with a welfare state and plenty of government intervention and regulation, soccer remained a largely unfettered free market. You could spend your money any way you liked, you could accumulate debt if you so chose and the natural state of affairs was one where wealthy, long-established soccer aristocrats lorded it over the little guy.

Molecular biophysicist and Christian

When I was in Oxford two weeks ago I was delighted that I was able to meet Cees Dekker and  Ard Louis. Both are leading scientists who also speak and write about science and their Christian faith. I previously posted about a book that Cees edited which has the stories of 22 leading Dutch scientists who are Christians.

Ard's research if often concerned with the self assembly of biomolecular systems and so is well qualified to respond to claims that such processes are "impossible", as he does in this video. There is also a nice video on youtube where he discusses the Genesis text. Both were produced by the Biologos Foundation.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Serbian Orthodox view of the Bible

Justin Popovic was an influential Serbian Orthodox theologian who wrote an article How to read the Bible and why.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Novi Sad lectures II

Here are the slides from more lectures

A Scientist looks at Genesis 2. This attempts to but the chapter in the context of all of the Bible and focuses on what is clear from the text, rather than what is debatable.

Big Bang Cosmology and the Anthropic Principle. This reviews the scientific evidence that the universe began 13.7 billion years ago.

Can science predict the end of the world? This looks at different scientific views about the end of the universe and contrasts them to a Biblical view, particularly from Acts 17 and 2 Peter 3.

Novi Sad lectures

Today I gave my talk, A Scientist looks at Psalm 19 at HUB, a small Bible college north of Belgrade.

Tomorrow I am giving several lectures on Science and Theology at Novi Sad Protestant Theological Seminary.

Here are the current versions of the slides:

Introduction lists the main ideas I hope to cover.

The power and limitations of science discusses what science can and cannot do.

Will science explain everything? Considers the respective claims of modernism and postmodernism in light of John 1.

This is a photo of me with Dr. Dimitrije Popadic, the Dean of the Seminary, at the restaurant on top of the fortress in Novi Sad.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The meeting of art, politics, and religion in the public square

This is a statue of Svetozar Miletic in the main square of Novi Sad in Serbia. He was a Mayor of the town twice during the 19th century and a Serbian nationalist. The statue is by Ivan Mestrovic, whose life story, as described on Wikipedia makes fascinating reading.

There is an interesting question as to whether he is shaking his fist at the neighbouring Catholic cathedral and whether the statue was installed by the communists to replace a cross in the square.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

At-one-(ment) with God

I have been reading through the book of Leviticus. Although there are many details I do not understand there are some ideas which are continually repeated: God is holy, we are not, and it is necessary to make atonement with blood for our sin. The primary role of the Levite priest is to "make atonement", a praise that is repeated countless times. Christians can be thankful that God has graciously provided both a perfect priest and a sacrificial lamb (a scape goat!), Jesus to make atonement, once and for all.

The painting is the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb which is part of the Ghent Altarpiece painted by Hubrecht and Jan van Eyck.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A scientist looks at Psalm 19 in Serbia

Check out that alliteration!
I just arrived in Belgrade today. Tomorrow night I am giving a talk at a church in Novi Sad. The slides for the talk, A Scientist looks at Psalm 19, are here, with the Bible text in Serbian.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Barth on creation

I had a really nice meeting this week with Oliver Crisp who teaches theology at Bristol University (where I was visiting the physics department). [An interview with Oliver about his latest book is on the exiled preacher blog]. I read with interest Oliver's chapter Karl Barth on Creation, in the book, Karl Barth and Evangelical Theology: Convergences and Divergences.

I was particularly interested in this because I have started work on a paper, Implications of Barth's Doctrine of Creation for the dialogue between science and theology which is outlined in a talk I gave earlier this year.

Here is a brief summary of the chapter and a few comments.
Oliver identifies four areas of commonality (C1-C4) and four areas of disagreement (D1-D4) of Barth with the tradition of  Reformed theology.

C1. The Creator is the Tri-une God.

C2. Creation was a free act of the Sovereign God.

C3. Supralapsarianism
God pre-destined people for salvation before creation. What was God's ultimate purpose in creation? Was it to save people or to glorify himself by saving people?
Crisp  notes that Barth has his own unique views about electrion and raises questions about whether Barth did not emphasize enough God's ultimate purpose of self-glorification.

C4. Creation and covenant are intimately connnected.
Barth emphasized, "Creation is the external basis of the covenant. Covenant is the internal basis of the creation." John Webster says these are really the same thing. I love Webster's summary of Barth, but I disagree with him on this point. I think Barth is intentionally making a valid and important distinction to amplify the relationship between creation and covenant.

D1. The Doctrine of Creation is an article of faith and there is no room for natural theology.

D2. This was not clear to me.

D3. The Genesis narrative is "saga" not history.
I think this is actually one of the strengths of Barth's approach because it liberates the text to speak theologically rather than getting bogged down in discussions about natural science. Many Conservative evangelicals advocate a historical reading claiming that anything else undermines the Gospel. They usually link their interpretation with  "Intelligent Design" and/or young earth creationism. However, it is ironic that in practice these approaches actually shift the discussion away from the text and its theological claims and towards (usually ill-informed) arguments about biology and geology.
In contrast, Barth stays focussed on exegesis of the text of Genesis, a point that Crisp appropriately appreciates.

D4. A "timeless" God created time. Here I agree with Barth, but my view is largely driven by my understanding of physics. General relativity tells us that time (and space) began at the big bang. Time has a direction.

It is a stimulating chapter and it highlights to me just how "orthodox" and "reformed" Barth was. Differences and disagreements with "tradition" to me were minor and of debatable significance.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One distinguished scientist's response to Hawking

There is a good article in the Guardian, by Eric Priest

Stephen Hawking can't use physics to answer why we're here

Modern belief in God is not about covering the gaps in our knowledge, but about answering different types of questions

Monday, October 4, 2010

Craftsmen and artists called by the LORD

Should Christians be involved in the creative arts, sciences, and humanities?
If so, what is their ultimate purpose and goal?
It is interesting reading in Exodus about the construction of the tabernacle
30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, "See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship32to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34And he has inspired him to teach, .....
1"Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the LORD has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded." 2And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.
Exodus 35:30-36:2

I take such a narrative as descriptive and not presciptive for today. But, what are some principles?
The gifts of creativity and skill are from God, who should be ackowledged as their source, and they should be used to glorify God. The tabernacle was the "meeting place" where God's people encountered him as the God of grace and promise. The arts and sciences should be the same for Christians.

The sketch is described here.

From law to modern justice

Last night I had dinner in Bristol with Jonathan Burnside, who teaches law at Bristol University. Oxford University Press has just published his latest book, God, Justice, and Society: Aspects of law and legality in the Bible. Here is some of the publisher's blurb:

God, Justice and Society presents biblical law as an integration of instructional genres in the Bible which together express a vision of a society ultimately accountable to God. Burnside seeks to understand both the application of law and legal theory to the Bible and the extent to which biblical law contributes important insights into legal dilemmas in today's world.

A few stimulating ideas I learnt from Jonathan. Interpretation of the Old Testament law can be significantly different depending on whether one has a narrative reading (which considers the imagery important to the Israelites and the singular historical point of not returning to the slavery of Egypt) rather than a semantic reading which can read into the text modern legal categories and concepts. This may have significant parallels to the problem of reading into the creation narrative concepts and issues from modern science and philosophy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A fuzzy boundary between science and theology

I delayed writing this post because the underlying ideas are somewhat vague and poorly articulated. But, I think there is a profound and important idea and observation that should be made. Hence, I particularly welcome comments.

Some related ideas are in an earlier post, The end of science is the beginning of theology. At the Polkinghorne 80th Birthday Conference, Quantum Theory and the Nature of Reality, last week I observed something fascinating. The density of Oxbridge Professors was high (no pun intended!) with a  wide range of philosophical and theological commitments, present. Yet, it was fascinating to observe how quickly discussions of concrete experiments in quantum physics could quickly move to discussions of profound philosophical questions about epistemology (how do we know what we know? what can we know?), ontology (what is real?), consciousness, free will and determinism, and the uniqueness of humanity and our universe, and the mystery of existence.
One speaker began his talk and another ended his with John 1:1
"In the beginning was the Word"
My modest point is perhaps that God intentionally created a universe with a "veiled" reality that it should force humanity towards such questions. It would interesting to explore how such a view engages with the role and limitations of natural theology, and particularly with passages such as Acts 17:22-31 and Romans 1:16-25 which contains texts such as:

What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25....he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind .... 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.

19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

Faith in the academy

Last week the Times Higher Education Supplement had a nice balanced article The Dogma Delusion by Matthew Riesz which explores the presence and the role of religious belief amongst scientists in secular universities. The article begins:

The notion of a 'war' between science and religion is a media-friendly but profoundly inaccurate model for scholars' many-hued and nuanced views of God, faith and doubt.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Talk on emergence in Bristol

On Monday evening I am giving a talk, to the Bristol branch of Christians in Science, Emergence: does reductionism work in science and theology?

It is at 8pm at the Bristol University Multifaith Chaplaincy, The Grange, 1 Woodland Rd, Bristol BS8 1AU. Refreshments will be provided.

The slides for an earlier version of the talk are here. It is based on a paper which will appear next year in the Scottish Journal of Theology.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Greed bequethes the slavery of debt

At my hotel in Bristol I am getting the Times newspaper each morning, a rare treat to read both a good newspaper and a paper copy. A report got my attention that due to the 39 billion GBP cost  of bailing out its banks, Ireland's budget deficit will climb to 32 per cent of GDP, more than ten times the limit mandated by the European Union on its member nations.