Monday, November 28, 2016

A nuanced atheist view of Jesus and Christian theology

Previously, I have written several posts featuring Terry Eagleton. He is a prominent literary theorist, a Marxist, an atheist, and a critic of both religion and the New Atheists.

Yesterday, I watched the first of his 2008 Terry Lectures at Yale University, which were later published as Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate.
It presents a fascinating, nuanced, challenging, and provocative view of Jesus and Christian theology. Some of it I do not agree with but it is worth engaging with.

I am looking forward to watching the other lectures.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Science involves faith

As I have discussed before, I do not like the term "science and faith".  It is misleading because both science and Christianity involve faith, reason, and evidence. I prefer terms such as "science and theology" or "science and the Bible" or "science and Christianity".

A nice example of how science involves faith is a column, Reasonably Effective: Deconstructing a Miracle, published in 2006 in Physics Today. It is by Frank Wilczek who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics.

He first discusses Eugene Wigner's famous 1960 article, "Unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences." He then continues:
Acts of faith
Since any answer to a “why” question can be challenged with a further “why,” any reasoned argument must terminate in premises for which no further reason can be offered. At that point we pass, necessarily, from reason to faith. Our present faith in symmetry and locality is grounded in the good experience we’ve had with them so far. At present, I think, we can carry our explanations no deeper.
As good believing scientists we must take our faith seriously—so seriously that we feel compelled to act on it, and thereby to test it.
He then goes on to discuss supersymmetry in quantum field theory and says how he anticipates the associated elementary particles will be observed in the Large Hadron Collider in the following years (i.e., from 2006). However, it is interesting that ten years later this is not the case. Nevertheless, despite the evidence to the contrary, some physicists still have "faith" that supersymmetry is valid. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The value and importance of children

Last week I gave a talk at a SAIACS chapel service.

It was based on Luke 18:15-17
People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’
I considered the relevance of this to four categories of children:

i. our own children if we have them
ii. children in our church
iii. children in society
iv. children on the margins: the unborn, orphans, street children, trafficked, handicapped, …

Here is an edited version of the talk. 

The quote about Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, is from here.