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C. S. Lewis, Science, Technology, Meaning and Freedom

November 22nd, 2013 Jill Posted in Thought Comments Off

By Bill Muehlenberg, Culture Watch

Fifty years ago (November 22, 1963), three famous men died, but the death of one greatly overshadowed the death of the others. The assassination of President John F Kennedy made world news, so that the deaths of Aldous Huxley and C. S. Lewis on the same day received almost no coverage in comparison.

While the influence of JFK as the leader of the free world has been great, it can be argued that even greater has been the influence of the other two men. Both were thinkers, writers and novelists, and their prescient works of warning still stand with us today.

Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World was a very important work, alerting us to where we were heading in the West. But Lewis also wrote some very important works warning us where unbridled technology and amoral science might take us. His works were prophetic in nature and are still so important today – even more so.

He rightly foretold a ruling class of technocrats and well-meaning experts who would seek to conquer nature and its ills, only to end up conquering man. As he said in his 1947 volume, The Abolition of Man: “What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.”

He continued, “Man’s conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men. There neither is nor can be any simple increase of power on Man’s side. Each new power won by man is a power over man as well.”

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Just how intelligent are atheists?

August 22nd, 2013 Jill Posted in Atheism, Thought Comments Off

By Alexander Boot

University of Rochester psychologists have just completed a review of 63 scientific studies about religion and intelligence dating between 1928 and now.

In 53 of these there was a “reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity”. In other words, atheists are brighter than believers.

They have a higher “ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience”.

Now it’s an established fact that IQ, the higher the better, is the single most reliable predictor of practical success in today’s world.

And success in today’s world is measured mostly by money, of which people with higher IQ scores tend to have more. Thus if a child has a high IQ, he’s more likely to make a lot of money at an early age.

Here’s an example of one such child, or rather a bright young man of 21. His IQ is undoubtedly 130-plus, which is higher than in 95 percent of the population.

His hunger for success is commensurately high, for success is something he knows he deserves – his IQ is high. The young German, Moritz Erhardt, is richly endowed with all the fine qualities that add up to intelligence. So he puts them to work.

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Relationships (part one) Whole and Half

April 27th, 2013 Jill Posted in Thought Comments Off

From gentlemind

“Relationships” is a series of articles looking at the way in which concepts exist in relation to other concepts, and the way in which we exist in relation to those relationships.

[...]  This is the only way it is mathematically possible that two different objects can combine to create a new object which will – at a ratio of 1:1 – itself be identical to one of the two objects that combined to create it. Half of children are male (one half of Mankind), and half of children are female (one half of Mankind). All children are male OR female, but all children are made from the bodies of male AND female (the whole of Mankind).
 
This is the beautiful system that allows Mankind to go forth and multiply. God made Mankind a whole of two halves (male and female). God did this by first making the whole of Man a whole of two halves (Y and X), and then making the whole of Woman (X and X) from one half of the whole of Man. 

Man is Of God. Woman is From Man. By taking Woman out of Man, God simultaneously made a whole Man a half of Mankind. Man exists in relation to what has been taken from him. Woman exists in relation to what she has been taken from. Both Man and Woman exist in relation to the whole. God has given us the gift of being able to complete ourselves through reuniting the whole of which we are a half. In giving us two sexes – one that we are not, and one that we are – God allows us to know what we are not, and therefore know what we are.

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Personally, I blame Kant for all this

January 6th, 2013 Jill Posted in Christianity, Thought, economics Comments Off

Immanuel KantBy Alexander Boot

The last three centuries have witnessed numerous attempts to replace Judaeo-Christian morality with an equally effective secular code based on rational thought. The same centuries have also witnessed a comprehensive failure of every such attempt.

Immanuel Kant was neither the first nor the last thinker who postulated that, as a rational moral agent, man doesn’t need God to come up with a valid moral code. It’s just that he was a more powerful thinker than the others, and so his failure looks even more spectacular. The greater the height from which one tumbles, the more shattering the fall.

Kant proved beyond any doubt what all those Greeks had shown before him: that, though philosophy can ponder morality from every possible angle, it can’t create it. There’s so much more than reason that shapes human behaviour that rationalism is inevitably found wanting.

Kant and other philosophers dedicated their lives to finding an intellectual justification for their loss of faith. In common with other intelligent men, at some point they began to mistake their ratiocination for reality. They thus convinced themselves, and unfortunately many others, that the Judaeo-Christian code could drop its adjective and thrive as a mere noun.

That was akin to believing that an apple tree will continue to bear fruit after it has been sawn off its roots. Kant was willing to admit that the apples would be slightly different, but he was certain that they’d still have a similar taste and texture. Yet all we got was a pile of rotting wood.

In a way, Kant and his fellow rationalists could be forgiven their mistake. They lived at a time when the fundamental moral tenets of Judaeo-Christianity looked eternally indestructible. Provided we were deft enough, we could separate morality from religion without any adverse effects – like a conjurer whipping the tablecloth off the table without disturbing the cups and saucers. Christianity was the cloth Kant yanked out, morality the cups, and they all ended up as shards of china on the floor.

Resulting modernity has since proved its ability to create widely spread riches beyond those Kant or Smith could even imagine. Yet, with the removal of Christianity as the social and moral focus, material wealth grew in parallel with spiritual poverty. Then, like a snake biting its tail, spiritual and moral poverty turned around and began to destroy material wealth. This, and only this, is the nature of our present economic crisis.

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Prager University: If Good and Evil Exist, God Exists

December 20th, 2012 Jill Posted in Thought Comments Off

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Humanists outraged over approval of new academy that will teach Creationism

July 20th, 2012 Jill Posted in Atheism, Education, Theology, Thought Comments Off

By Stewart Cowan, Real Street

Those delicate flowers, the secular humanists, just cannot bear for anyone not to believe like they do. They get really upset that after over a century and a half, millions of us still don’t buy the idea that we evolved from pond slime via apes – goo-to-you-via-the-zoo! Religious ideas produce intolerance, they insist, and so they cannot be tolerated. No, humanists are convinced that they have a better idea of how to create a good society: have everything to do with faith banned. They obviously just forget, or never found out, that every other country humanists have taken over very quickly degenerated into very unpleasant dictatorships.
 
The Independent explains,
The evangelical Everyday Champions Church first proposed a free school that would teach creationism as a valid scientific theory last year.
 
That application was rejected by the Government on the basis that “the teaching of creationist views as a potentially valid alternative theory [to evolution] is not acceptable in a 21st-century state-funded school”.
 
Now a new bid submitted by a group of individuals from the Church, but without its formal backing, has been accepted. The backers say Exemplar Academy in Newark, Nottinghamshire, will have a faith ethos but will not be formally designated a faith school, and will only teach creationism in RE.
 
Richy Thompson, campaigners manager at the British Humanist Association, said that the proposed school was “absolutely still dangerous”.
 
The Department of Education said that the new school would be banned from teaching creationism in science classes, but it would be allowed in religious education lessons.
Let us get this into some sort of perspective.
 
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Why would anyone believe in life after death? Well…

July 11th, 2012 Jill Posted in Theology, Thought Comments Off

Immanuel KantBy Peter Mullen, Telegraph

There are some worse things you can do to your brain than listen to Professor Laurie Taylor on Radio Four’s Thinking Allowed. This week he was waxing incredulous about how anyone could begin to believe in life after death.

He mentioned The Society for Psychical Research and noted enthusiastically that among their members were the eminent philosopher Henry Sidgwick and the co-inventor of the theory of evolution, Arthur Russell Wallace. Professor Laurie Taylor kept reminding us of how notably intelligent these men were – perhaps they were even more intelligent than Professor Taylor. So how come they were foolish enough to believe in a life after death?

Sidgwick and Wallace were not the only luminaries who believed in the afterlife. There was Immanuel Kant, Rene Descartes, Plato, St Augustine of Hippo and St Thomas Aquinas to name but a few. (Are you with me so far, Laurie?)

But let’s move up a notch or two. Jesus Christ taught the fact of the next life: “In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; that where I am ye may be also.”

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New book shows liberals stereotype conservatives more than vice versa

April 3rd, 2012 Jill Posted in Thought Comments Off

From the Iona Institute

Ever feel like critics of religion who like to parade their ‘tolerance’ in front of everyone are actually less tolerant than their political opponents, and less willing to try to understand them?

Well, it turns out that there is compelling evidence that you're right. Academic Jonathan Haidt has written a new book, "The Righteous Mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion" in which he asks how well conservatives and liberals understand their political opponents.

Telegraph blogger Tom Chivers, himself a liberal, writing about the findings, explains the book demonstrates that liberals, “on one small but extremely important metric, are wrong far more often than conservatives”. The metric in question is the ability to grasp the point of view of their ideological opposites.

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Taking God out of the ‘God Particle’

December 15th, 2011 Jill Posted in Science, Thought Comments Off

By Mollie Hemingway, Get Religion

Yesterday there was big news related to the Higgs boson. That’s the theoretical particle that some scientists believe plays a role in the fabric of the universe. But the story really caught my attention because almost every article referred to it as the “God particle.” So, for instance, here’s the Washington Post:

Search for ‘God particle’ Higgs Boson narrowing, scientists say
CNN:
Scentists find sign of ‘God particle’ – Brian Greene explains breakthrough
The Independent:
Has science found the ‘God particle’?
Vancouver Sun:
Light shines on ‘God particle’
You get the idea.
I was prepared to critique the use of this term but found a Reuters article that got straight to the point with the problem of such terminology:
“We don’t call it the ‘God particle’, it’s just the media that do that,” a senior U.S. scientist politely told an interviewer on a major European radio station on Tuesday.
“Well, I am the from the media and I’m going to continue calling it that,” said the journalist – and continued to do so.
 
The exchange, as physicists at the CERN research centre near Geneva were preparing to announce the latest news from their long and frustrating search for the Higgs boson, illustrated sharply how science and the popular media are not always a good mix.
 
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God and Moral Absolutes

December 14th, 2011 Jill Posted in Faith, Morality, Thought Comments Off

By Matthew O'Brien, Witherspoon Institute

If appeals to God get ruled out, either by disbelief in his existence or reluctance to rely upon it, then it isn’t possible to demonstrate that there are moral absolutes.
 
If you are going to make a moral argument, whether in the seminar room or in the public square, people today expect you to avoid invoking God. Atheists and theists alike share this expectation, with atheists eager to show that their moral knowledge and action are uncompromised by disbelief in God’s existence, and theists eager to establish the rational credentials of their moral convictions and protect themselves against charges of fideism. This expectation is unwarranted, however, because God’s existence is directly relevant to moral knowledge and action: If appeals to God get ruled out, either by disbelief in His existence or reluctance to rely upon it, then it isn’t possible to demonstrate that there are moral absolutes.
 
Christopher Tollefsen’s recent argument in Public Discourse for moral absolutes flatters the expectations of today’s methodological atheism, because his argument purports to demonstrate on non-theological grounds that it is irrational ever to choose certain intrinsically bad actions. Although I agree with many of Tollefsen’s conclusions, and in particular his judgment that the WWII nuclear attacks were unjust, I think his argument is unsuccessful. Before addressing Tollefsen’s argument directly, however, I need to explain more precisely what aspect of moral knowledge depends upon knowledge of divine law, for a considerable portion of morality is demonstrable apart from knowing that God exists.
 
 
 
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Making Religion Safe for Democracy

July 17th, 2011 Jill Posted in Thought Comments Off

by Jon A Shields, Claremont Institute

A review of Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents, by Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma, a professor at Bard College and regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, has written a provocative, exasperating new book on making religion safe for democracy. "When reflecting on the problems of religion and democracy," Buruma writes, "the main issue is how to stop irrational passions from turning violent." For Buruma religion is an inherently irrational passion. As a result, defending the tolerance and pluralism of modern secular democracies requires finding ways to pacify religion and keep it politically benign.

In search of guidance, Buruma examines centuries of religious-secular conflict in Japan, China, Europe, and America. Rather than showing the best ways of "taming the gods," however, the wide scope of Buruma's inquiry makes clear only that reconciling religious ardor and political order is extremely difficult. Worse, it suggests that his project is fundamentally misbegotten.

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Thought: Anyway

June 22nd, 2011 Lisa Posted in Thought Comments Off

HT:  Suzanne Fernandez 

Abridged Mother Teresa Rule: Folks are unreasonable & selfish. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, you may be accused of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.  If you succeed, you'll win some unfaithful friends & real enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you; be honest anyway. Give your best.  It's never enough; give your best anyway. It's between you & God. It was never between you & them anyway.

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Why Liberalism Can’t Endure

June 8th, 2011 Jill Posted in Thought Comments Off

By R R Reno, First Things

What makes life worth living? For the most part Western society has settled on an individualistic answer: whatever I decide or desire. It’s judgmental—an act of cultural imperialism, as we’re taught to say at fancy colleges—to suggest that there’s a right answer to this question. Rather, we are told, people should be able to organize their lives around what they feel or think best. We’re happiest, the present-day liberal presumes, when we can make up our own minds about what makes life worth living—or even if life is worth living.

The commitment to freedom seems complete, yet paradoxically this liberalism tends toward an anti-democratic authoritarianism. The promise of freedom stems from the fact that we’re not to be constrained by objective moral truths. It’s a form of freedom that comes with a very strong disciplinary warning—you are not to impose your view of moral truth on anyone. Thus the paradox: the dictatorship of relativism.

The abortion license stems directly from this view of freedom. If I think that the satisfactions of sexual intimacy are what make life worth living, and if I don’t wish to intermix these satisfactions with the complex realities of children, then my liberty is threatened by a legal regime that prohibits abortion.

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The Christian Worldview as Master Narrative: Redemption Accomplished

January 10th, 2011 Jill Posted in Theology, Thought Comments Off

By Albert Mohler

The third great movement in the Christian metanarrative begins with the affirmation that God’s purpose from the beginning was to redeem a people through the blood of his Son – and that he does this in order to show the excellence of his name throughout eternity. The God of the Bible is not a divine strategist, ready with a new plan in the event his original plan fails. The God of the Bible is sovereign and completely able to accomplish his purposes. Thus, when we come to the great act of God for our redemption we come to the very heart of God’s self-revelation.

Beyond this, an adequate understanding of human sin brings us to the inescapable conclusion that there is absolutely nothing that the human creature can do to rescue himself from his plight. We find ourselves in an insoluble situation and are brought face to face with our own finitude. What is worse, all our efforts to solve the problem on our own lead only into an even deeper complex of sin. We are rebels to the core, and our attempts to justify ourselves lead only into deeper levels of sinfulness.

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Human Exceptionalism: We Need Transcendence, Not Atheism

December 19th, 2010 Jill Posted in Faith, Thought Comments Off

By Wesley J Smith, First Things

This isn’t a blog about religion, but among its many threads, we do discuss what it means to be human.  And part of that is the yearning for transcendence.

In the past, we have discussed what I call the coup d’ culture that seeks to replace Judeo/Christian moral philosophy and its focus on the unique importance of the individual, with a new value system to govern society, consisting of utilitarianism, hedonism, and scientism/environmental quasi-religiosity. Usually, with our intense focus on bioethics and all, we focus on utilitarian (implicit and explicit) tendencies. With Octomom (as one example) we come to hedonism.  Global warming hysteria (not the same as climate science)  is an example of the scientism/earth religion counter (or supplement) to theistic faith (as in Al Gore).
 
Brave New World was one of the most important novels ever written because Huxley so accurately predicted the flow of culture we are seeing today.  But his BNW minions didn’t believe in anything.  They had become, in a sense, automotons–with promiscuity and soma replacing richly lived lives.  I think he got that wrong.  Humans are incapable of not believing.
 
It is in this context that I bring to your attention an interesting column on Psychology Today’s Ethics for Everyone blog by  Michael Austin.  The post is in response to an assertion by Nigel Barber that atheism will replace religion.  Austin says it will never happen because human beings need transcendence.  From his post “Why Atheism Can’t Replace Religion:”
 
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Book Review: God is not one, by Stephen Prothero

December 14th, 2010 Jill Posted in Thought Comments Off

By Jenny Taylor, Lapido Media

STEPHEN PROTHERO'S new book is a brilliant, audacious but ultimately flawed attempt to dismantle multiculturalism's core tenet - that all religions are the same. Flawed because comparing religions from a non-theological point of view is an academic non-starter. As the former head of the Study of Religions Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London used to say: ‘We have an epistemological problem’. How do you know what another religion is like if you are not a member of it? How do you evaluate the ‘biases’ that inform and shape cultures, without having a bias to one yourself? What is your standpoint therefore? If you pretend you don’t need a standpoint that is openly disclosed and carefully referenced throughout the text, you become part of the general obfuscation you are seeking to penetrate – and that’s what happens, perhaps involuntarily, in Stephen Prothero’s latest book.

Someone was bound to attempt this now; a sort of Golden Bough for our post-9/11 times, which is often dazzling, and certainly audacious. But the title’s promise, and indeed the Introduction, are not fulfilled. It’s as if Prothero has submitted a manuscript drafted before 9/11 – his PhD thesis maybe – and had it gone over and shaped up by an editor with an eye to an obvious new market. One is bound to welcome the initial polemic against what he calls ‘theological groupthink – or Godthink’ that has it that all religions are essentially the same, since there can be no doubt this ‘has made the world more dangerous’. But his introductory riposte to what he calls ‘the dogma that all religions are one’ peters out quite early into the book.

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Where Are We Headed?

October 30th, 2010 Jill Posted in Theology, Thought Comments Off

By Robert J. Sanders Ph.D, Virtueonline

Where are we, as a country and as Christian churches, headed? There are, of course, many answers to that question, but for my part, I recently read Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer's address entitled "A Christian Manifesto," and feel compelled to comment on it and the present religious and political situation.(1) Among other things, I will describe what I consider ominous trends in our society, trends that Schaeffer and other religious conservatives have not addressed.

The primary strength of Dr. Schaeffer address is his recognition that we now live in an age in which the Judeo-Christian world view has given way to a humanistic world view based on the belief that ultimate reality is matter which by chance gave rise to present life forms through evolution.

By humanism, Schaeffer means the notion that human beings are the measure of all things. Once God is denied and the materialistic doctrine is accepted, there is no source of understanding beyond human beings themselves, so that, logically, humans become the judge of all things. One corollary is that human beings decide right and wrong as they see fit.

The result of that is that there is nothing to protect the vulnerable among us, the unborn, the old, the unfit, and the useless. Therefore, he expects, unless something is done about it, Western Civilization will continue to erode, arriving at a condition, not unlike that of Nazi Germany, where certain races and groups are exterminated. This is Schaeffer's primary conclusion and it makes a great deal of sense with one caveat which will be given later.

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As a scientist I’m certain Stephen Hawking is wrong. You can’t explain the universe without God

September 3rd, 2010 Jill Posted in Apologetics, Thought Comments Off

Professor Stephen HawkingBy Professor John Lennox, Mailonline

There's no denying that Stephen Hawking is intellectually bold as well as physically heroic. And in his latest book, the renowned physicist mounts an audacious challenge to the traditional religious belief in the divine creation of the universe.

According to Hawking, the laws of physics, not the will of God, provide the real explanation as to how life on Earth came into being. The Big Bang, he argues, was the inevitable consequence of these laws 'because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.'

Unfortunately, while Hawking's argument is being hailed as controversial and ground-breaking, it is hardly new.

For years, other scientists have made similar claims, maintaining that the awesome, sophisticated creativity of the world around us can be interpreted solely by reference to physical laws such as gravity.

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What Would Jesus Say to Darwin?

August 19th, 2010 Jill Posted in Thought Comments Off

By Regis Nicholl, Breakpoint

In certain company, Jesus had the rather annoying habit of answering a question with a question.
 
It had the effect of turning the tables on those who were trying to trip him up, while getting others to think through what was being asked. For example, when a religious leader asked Jesus how he could gain eternal life, Jesus’ response—“What is written in the Law?”—pointed the leader to what had already been revealed, to what, in fact, the man already knew.
 
But what would Jesus have said to someone asking, “Good teacher, you have great wisdom. Tell me, if you would be so kind—how did life begin?”
The scenario is not as far-fetched as you might think.
 
At the time of Jesus’ public ministry, a number of alternatives to the Genesis story were well-known and actively peddled in the marketplace of ideas. One was “atomism,” a thoroughly naturalistic explanation of the universe developed in the fifth century B.C.
 
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An Error Worse Than Error

August 3rd, 2010 Jill Posted in Theology, Thought Comments Off

By R R Reno, First Things

For a long time as a young teacher, I believed the danger of prostituting their minds by believing falsehoods was the preeminent, or even singular, intellectual danger my students faced. So I challenged them and tried to teach them always to be self-critical, questioning, skeptical. What are your assumptions? How can you defend your position? Where’s your evidence? Why do you believe that?

I thought I was helping my students by training them to think critically. And no doubt I was. However, reading John Henry Newman has helped me see another danger, perhaps a graver one: to be so afraid of being wrong that we fail to believe as true that which is true. He worried about the modern tendency to make a god of critical reason, as if avoiding error, rather than finding truth, were the great goal of life.

Like Plato and St. Augustine, Newman presumed that human beings fundamentally seek to know the truth. Our hearts are restless, not with fear of error, but a desire to rest in God, who is the fullness of all truth. The fulfilling activity of intellectual life is to affirm truth rather than recoil from falsehood.

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