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Really Recommended Posts

Really Recommended Posts 9/12/14- science and faith, questioning leaders, and more!

postI have sought out another round of really recommended posts for you, dear readers. I hope these posts bring you edification, as they did for me. Let me know what you thought in the comments here, and be sure to drop a comment on those you appreciated!

Is Christian Belief A Science-Stopper: 7 Quick Points– It is often alleged that Christianity becomes a science-stopper. People who are Christians, it is said, are somehow defective intellectually in ways which stall science; or perhaps it is instead that Christian belief leads to a kind of gullibility regarding scientific explanation. Here are seven points which argue that Christianity does not stop science.

The forgotten lesson of Bonhoeffer and the American Church– What might the story of Bonhoeffer have to tell us for today? Has his life as a Christian been misunderstood? Check out this interesting article on the man, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Beelzebul: Poop god– Who said the Bible has no comedy in it? Check out this post which talks about Beelzebul, the poop god, among others.

Two Paths Affirming Women’s Ordination– How might one go about arguing for women’s ordination? Check out this post, which traces two ways that women’s ordination has been achieved historically and in modernity.

Christology: Deity and Eternality– An excellent resource for those of us wanting to look into how to show the deity and eternality of Christ. I highly recommend keeping a copy of this somewhere close at hand.

When Questionable Leaders Make Us Doubt– There have too often been Christian leaders in the news for poor decisions, making mistakes, or even being abusive. What do we do when these failures in Christian leadership make us doubt? My own thought is that we need to recognize that being Christian doesn’t automatically make us cease sinning, but here are some deeper insights I thought were helpful.

 

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Really Recommended Posts 9/12/14- science and faith, questioning leaders, and more!

  1. Regarding Is Christian Belief a Science-Stopper?, the author writes:

    So science cannot, in principle, explain why there are laws of nature. Why can we use mathematics to describe the universe? And why are there physical substances for these laws to describe? Why is there intricate complex beautiful order when there are so many more ways for the universe to be chaotic? Science just can’t answer these questions because it needs the laws of nature before it can give explanations.

    Note the conflation used here… the one that conflates the ‘why’ questions with the ‘how’ questions. Yes, science can’t answer the kind of ‘why’ questions that religions profess to ‘know’. But the bone of contention that creates the science-stopping element of religious belief is that neither can religion. Sure, religions come up with all kinds of answers here… some in agreement but many not just contrary but in open conflict with each other (and long before science shows up to consider the matter).

    What’s an honest person who wishes to inquire further to do?

    Well, put these ‘answers’ to the test and see if they accurately, consistently, and reliably fit the data.

    It is during this process that we find the introduction by the believer of all kinds of wiggle-terms and cherry picking (figurative versus literal, metaphor versus historical, and so on) that empowers confirmation bias to elevate these bits here but not those bits there, and so on, to weave a support for the religious ‘answer’ without adequately explaining the data that does not fit. Honest inquiry – producing a model that works to explain the data – evaporates using the religious method because the ‘answer’ is already in hand before the inquiry begins! That’s why I call the religious method decision-based evidence-making versus the scientific method of evidence-based decision-making. The two are incompatible methods.

    The ‘how’ questions can be investigated by anyone… as long as one leaves the religious method out of it and uses only the scientific method. This is HOW religious people can still do great science… by leaving their religious beliefs (the ‘answers’) out of the inquiry altogether. But as soon as soon as one tries to include the religious method necessary for Christian belief – decisions-based evidence-making – the honest inquiry comes to an abrupt end because cart is put before the horse, namely, using the ‘answer’ to find the ‘answer’! The evidence for this religious pollution detracting from honest inquiry is very strong (in subjects available to verification using the scientific method versus religious beliefs for claims such as creationism, the Flood, Adam and Eve, and so on… all of which are models of Christian ‘answers’ that are easily shown to be incompatible with overwhelming evidence). It is this recalcitrance by Christian believers to recognize the difference between a reasonable ‘answer’ that fits the data and one imposed on the data for religious reasons that gives credence to point that Christian belief is a science stopper because the ‘answer’ is not allowed to be altered but held firmly in place by faith… no matter how powerful and convincing some contrary explanatory model may be.

    So, yes, Christian belief is a science stopper when it is used to stop science, when it used to replace science, when it is held against science, when it is used to denigrate science! This should be obvious… even to the author of the original post who prefers some other ‘answer’ than what’s true.

    Posted by tildeb | September 12, 2014, 8:25 AM
    • Are you saying that “why” questions really just don’t have any answer? That would be a logical result of the standard naturalist tendency to deny intentionality first-class status. How do you find ‘meaning’ under the microscope? It’s just mind-constructed, it’s not real. There are no objective data for meaning. Sociology student Alfred Seidel tried looking for such objective data in society for e.g. what makes life worth living; after finding out how everything is socially constructed, he wrote “Consciousness as Doom”, and then killed himself.

      Posted by labreuer | September 14, 2014, 10:08 PM
      • You’re a funny one, lab. You presume that accepting a lack of evidence for any independent ‘intentionality’ means that such an understanding rejects any ‘intentionality’ whatsoever. You then conflate this sense of independent purpose to be equivalent to dependent purpose and suggest that dependent purpose must mean the same as no purpose at all (unless we can find ‘it’ – meaning – under a microscope). You know perfectly well that we assign meaning constantly (that is, after all, how we encode experience with our environment to cause neurological change in the brain… by assigning various levels of meaning, from none to a very great deal). What you presume is an either/or conflation… there is either a god doing this assigning or there is no purpose (so those who understand the former and arrive at the latter might as well go kill themselves).

        Might there be a middle ground?

        Yeah.

        It’s called making meaning and we – you and I – do it constantly without any external causal agency directing us in how we assign importance to the meaning we make. That’s why the same input experienced by thee and me can be held to radically different levels of importance as to its meaning. We do the assigning.

        The ‘why’ questions listed in the OP have no answers in the sense of the claim made that religion can and does ‘answer’ these questions. That’s why between various religious orthodoxies there are not just conflicting claims but incompatible ones. And that demonstrates to any reasonable person that religion cannot produce the so-called
        ‘answers’ to these Why questions any more than science can. And this is because none of the questions appear to have a single answer that is discernible independent of the religious meaning-maker. That’s why they vary.

        If you think otherwise, then you will be the first human (as far as I’m aware) to produce compelling evidence showing us how such ‘answers’ can be singly determined by any reasonable person. Calls for belief in a purpose-assigning agency of Oogity Boogity as the meaning-maker are neither reasonable nor subject to any independent arbitration and verification (or it would have already been done to settle the conflicts and incompatibilities currently reigning in the world of religious differences). But there is overwhelming evidence that ‘answers’ to these questions reside wholly and fully in the person’s mind making the assertion for ‘answers’. You equate that assignment of who it is making a particular meaning – in this case, the author of the OP – to be the old ‘if-not-god-then-there-is-no-meaning’ trope.

        This is just silly.

        Posted by tildeb | September 15, 2014, 8:05 AM
      • You presume that accepting a lack of evidence for any independent ‘intentionality’ means that such an understanding rejects any ‘intentionality’ whatsoever.

        No, I actually don’t. I used the terms “first-class status”, “mind-constructed”, and “no objective data” very intentionally (har har). I was responding both to your whole post and a bit extra about your “reliably fit the data” comment, which is a bit difficult if the data are being actively constructed by minds.

        It’s called making meaning and we – you and I – do it constantly without any external causal agency directing us in how we assign importance to the meaning we make. That’s why the same input experienced by thee and me can be held to radically different levels of importance as to its meaning. We do the assigning.

        But are you really constructing meaning out of whole cloth, without reference to any… laws which may be a property of reality? You mention conflicting/incompatible religious orthodoxies as defeaters to the idea that there are such laws, but that begs investigation of your conception of creaturely freedom. Does creative freedom require absolutely no rules? I say absolutely not: as a decent pianist, I know how well one must learn the rules before learning how to aesthetically break them. There is a reference to external reality, beyond my control, but an external reality which does not exert complete control over my cognitive processes, as you apparently view science as doing.

        If you think otherwise, then you will be the first human (as far as I’m aware) to produce compelling evidence showing us how such ‘answers’ can be singly determined by any reasonable person.

        This threatens to be a hypocritical statement, given that science doesn’t work via being “singly determined by any reasonable person”, but via community and tradition (see Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge). I fully expect that the laws to which I referred can only be discovered via massive cooperation of very different people. What I believe is that there is the possibility of rationality, in a realm where you appeal to mostly irrationality (that is: an impersonal foundation of reality which offers no guarantee of mind-dependent contingent properties obtaining).

        You equate that assignment of who it is making a particular meaning – in this case, the author of the OP – to be the old ‘if-not-god-then-there-is-no-meaning’ trope.

        This really betrays your positivism, your scientism. This kind of thinking would lead one to reverse God’s commands to Adam and Eve: eat only of this tree. No, they had tremendous freedom: there was one wrong choice amidst a plethora of right choices. I utterly reject your “a particular meaning”, just like I utterly reject the idea that there is precisely one correct way to play a piece on the piano. That being said, there are plenty of clearly wrong ways.

        What really needs to be investigated—which I clearly got at in my succinct comment—is what happens in human psychology when meaning and purpose are 100% constructed by human minds. I pointed out that Alfred Seidel found this to be the case, found such a life to not be worth living, and then committed suicide. The thought that there is no guarantee that any of the good you do will survive you particularly long may have psychological effects—Ernest Becker’s Pultizer prize-winning The Denial of Death certainly argues that it does. If it is the case that there is a mind causally external to our universe who can and has promised to permanently continue the existence of the good that we do, as 1 Cor 3:10–15 and 15:58 argue, that’s extremely psychologically relevant.

        You utterly misread my comment, @tildeb. I suggest taking a step back and testing whether what I said actually matches your model of me (if you have one), or your stereotype of Christians (which you clearly have). Remember your Karl Popper, that any evidence can be twisted and contorted to fit a model, and that the good scientist knows when he/she is doing this.

        P.S. As to constructing meaning, evidence that I’m well-aware of this is Daniel Miessler’s Meaning is an Illusion; he lost the old comments, so you can instead see Jonathan Pearce’s syndicated version, and the fact that I responded 9 months ago. Subsequent to finding that post, Daniel and I had dinner and chatted about the issue. Since then we’ve met two additional times, talking about meaning and free will and teleology. Your caricature of me is offensive and you should be ashamed.

        Posted by labreuer | September 15, 2014, 2:01 PM
  2. Wow thanks for sharing EvangelZ’s post!

    Posted by SLIMJIM | September 12, 2014, 5:13 PM

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