Science and Reason vs. Faith ?

                                Science and Reason vs. Faith?

Unfortunately Faith and reason are now often viewed as total opposites. While this understanding has developed over time, and been popularized by many from Mark Twain to new atheists like Richard Dawkins it does not correctly represent the biblical view of what faith is, biblical faith is not a blind leap into the dark.
Scripturally one can see what faith means in many passages and verses. John ends the second to last chapter of his gospel, telling the reader(s) that it was written so they believe, or have an active trust in, Jesus. When John the Baptist faced doubts, Jesus pointed his disciples to fulfilled prophecy and miraculous evidence to give John some evidence when they returned to him. Miracles authenticated the message and gave evidence to all, but in Acts 17 and other places we see reasoning used. A philosophical argument can be a type of evidence. Considering the commandment for all Christians in 1 Peter 3:15 regarding being ready to provide an apologetic, a defense for what they believe, it’s clear that even if Christians have blindly leaped and landed into the Christian world view, they must not stay that way, and must understand why they believe what they do so they can defend it.
Belief too is an important and misunderstood word. It doesn’t mean a mere mental acknowledgment, but instead it refers to a place of trust on. I might believe planes exist, but an active trust in them, or a belief with active trust, would be necessary for me to fly in one. True biblical faith is not a blind trust, biblical believe is some acknowledgment, together these words speak to what we might call in modern terms, a continuing trust on God and the sacrifice of Jesus for the payment of our sins, and submitting to him as Lord. This isn’t a very remote concept for us to grasp, as paper money used to only represent gold in the bank, even know it is only representative and we believe that it has value, and we trust it’s use when paying for our groceries and goods. Ultimately to reject reason and evidence in faith, one has to fail to worship God with their mind as scripture commands, and many of the proof texts for this view, are taken out of context.
Even with scriptural reason to use evidence, the Church hasn’t always been keen on using outside sources, despite Romans 1 confirming a general revelation given to all. Individuals like Anslem and Abelard were able to push forward and include reasoning more and more within the Catholic Church. Their progress, and Anslem’s placing reason behind faith, opened up a door. First Anslem just sought additional support for the conclusion he already felt he had enough reason to believe, over time that work continued to grow and eventually develop a focus on general revelation called natural philosophy or natural law.
If we view divine revelation and general revelation (including science) as two books written by the same author, they two should not conflict. What if they appear to? In the end something must be wrong, but it doesn’t automatically mean it is the bible nor the evidence. Men can have fallible interpretations and it may by that science leads us to understand that “sun set” are merely perspective, and not a literal description of the sun moving around us. Science too could be lacking evidence or be a limited sample size. Science needs to be peer reviewed.
Given that general revelation is available to everyone it should come as no surprise that multiple groups have found some elements of truth. The bible isn’t necessary to understanding some aspects of the world God created, because people live in it! Regardless of what ones worldview is, they have to deal with the same reality, and try to best explain it. While one should be careful to draw spiritual truths from others, even those can sometimes be similar, such as remnants of original monotheism, believe in life after death, or common takes on the golden rule. One must never put the outside spiritual claims before the teaching of scripture, especially if the evidence supports the Christian world view as having the most explanatory power.
The real issue is not between reason or science and faith, but instead between materialism or naturalism and any worldview that goes beyond the material. Currently science is full of scientism and over emphasis on the empirical as well as a presupposition that there are no spiritual answers. This attitude merely eliminates a possible answer, it does not solve anything, and with the growing rebirth of Apologetics many Christians are learning about evidence that does support the material. It’s even pointed out often that when materialists attempt to use logic, they can’t help but use something that is immaterial, the laws of logic!

(originally written as a short essay for a class at Luther Rice)

Advertisements

Human Clones: we already made one what would more cause?

Cloning is no longer a science fiction concept ala the 2nd Star wars prequel. Despite what society at large may have thought, “Cloning has been going on for Decades.” Dolly the sheep brought cloning to the mainstream world. She was born, “on 5 July 1996.”(cloning) In and has now already left it, “she was euthanized on 14 February 2003, aged six and a half” middle aged for a sheep, because she, “suffered from arthritis in a hind leg joint and from sheep pulmonary adenomatosis, a virus-induced lung tumor.” (cloning) Dolly was a rare success as the process was called “inefficient” (Beckwith Pg. 207) by author Francis J. Beckwith when explaining the process that lead to her birth. “Out of 277 cell fusions 29 began grown in vitro. “ (Beckwith Pg. 207) all of the ones that grew where then, “Implanted in receptive ewes.” (Beckwith Pg. 207) Out of those only, “13 became pregnant, and only one lamb was born as a result.”(Beckwith Pg. 207) Beckwith noted that this was, “a success rate of only 3.4%. In nature, somewhere between 22 and 50% of all fertilized eggs develop fully into newborns.” (Beckwith Pg. 207)
All clones may thought to be the same, but all cloning techniques are not (and the clones aren’t either but we will get to that next.) One form of cloning is embryo Cloning. “Hall and Stillman employed this type of cloning in their 1993 ground breaking experiment, in which they cloned a human embryo.” (Beckwith Pg. 207) This process occurred, “in a laboratory, they produced human embryos in a petri dish by taking ova and fertilizing them with male sperm.” (Beckwith Pg. 206) Dolly was produced by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) cloning. In this process a scientist begins by, “extracting the nucleus of a cell from the human body, fusing that cell with an ovum that has had it’s nucleus remove, and then electrically stimulating this fused entity.” (Beckwith Pg. 207.) This is very different from Embryo Cloning, which simply recreates a natural process in a lab, here one set of genetic patterns are used rather than two. Despite what movies have told us, the clone will not age quickly and match the donor of their DNA. They will always be younger, but have the same DNA.
Although various problems arise from cloning, I will address two of the most damaging ones. “Cloning – whether embryonic or SCNT – could serve as a nearly unlimited resource for embryonic stem cells” (Beckwith Pg. 211.) Bodies could be created to be harvested for parts or destroyed after experimentation, similar to the plot of the Michael Bay film, “The Island” Imagine the same issues had with Dolly, many would die as the process was used, not just the “Successful” ones which manage to be implanted. This practice could even further cheapen the view of the zygote and early embryo.
The other concern that immediately sprang to mind had a personal connection. Two friends of mines (Pastor’s kids of course) got charged with a crime during a rebellious drug phase. It was clear only one of them did the crime but neither would rat out who it was. Because of the high level of reasonable doubt, neither of them paid the price and went to jail. DNA is a marker in our criminal justice system, SCNT cloning could take that away and cause massive changes and more doubt in in criminal trails. The DNA could point to 2 or 3 individuals at once! (for my friends it was just a visual issue.) While the first is a clear cut moral issue, the second is a practical issue that should be a concern, even our atheists friends share and may serve as a persuasive way of swaying them to our side, even if only enough to stop the death of the cloned babies.

Beckwith, Francis J. Defending Life a Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice Cambridge University Press New York, NY 2007

Cloning Dolly the Sheep, Animal Research.info http://www.animalresearch.info/en/medical-advances/timeline/cloning-dolly-the-sheep/ (Accessed 9/25/15)

Is cloning an important topic in the abortion debate?

kid-dressed-as-spidermanCould cloning be an important issue for the very heated abortion debating? It’s gone from science-fiction to reality. Dolly the clone sheep entered our world, “on 5 July 1996.”(cloning) In fact she has already left it as, “she was euthanized on 14 February 2003, aged six and a half” middle aged for a sheep, because she, “suffered from arthritis in a hind leg joint and from sheep pulmonary adenomatosis, a virus-induced lung tumor.” (cloning) Cloning made news wave via during a cult’s 15 minutes of fame when the Raelians claimed, “cloning is the way to immortality” and started a religious movement based on Panspermia and a desire to clone their way to immortality. A young westerner would likely leap to the Star Wars Prequel trilogy immediately, given it’s commercial and merchandizing success with a key story component being a clone army. Beyond all these interesting cultural ripples, which themselves sometimes have offered important thoughts on the broader, philosophers and politicians have had to deal with reality in more practical applications, including the abortion issue.

“The most sophisticated defenders of abortion choice concede that the unborn, long before birth, is a human being, though they argue that it lacks a property essential acquiring the status of a moral person.” (Beckwith Pg. 65) Author Benard Nathanson , known for his 1979 work, Aborting America, has argued that since “Some human beings may not result from conception.” (Beckwith Pg. 74) conception cannot be the beginning of life. He, as others, are not denying the genetic identity of the newly formed distinct human individual (zygote) but sees this exception as a reason we can’t place the beginning of humanness there. He might ask, “Since a clone was never conceived, is it then never human?” Obviously the result would be just as human, just as Dolly was clearly a sheep, who lived, ate, died and even reproduced after being cloned.

The argument faces several difficulties. Beckworth admits that, “Nathanson is correct in asserting that a human clone would be a human being who has come into existence without benefit of conception.” (Beckwith Pg. 75) Beckwith’s defense is worth noting, even if he could have gone a bit farther. He states “This world only mean that conception is not necessary condition for a human being to come into existence,” And demonstrates a flaw in Nathanson’s logic. There is a very serious difference between a necessary and sufficient condition. For example a necessary condition for checking out a book at a library is going to the library (also having a library card, etc.) but that doesn’t necessarily mean one would check out a book, one could leave without doing so. A necessary condition always results in something taking place. So Nathanson’s demonstration only proves that conception is a sufficient but not necessary condition.

The idea that the clone would be originated without any conception is obviously false as well. It would only require material from a previous conception. This is similar to the humorous tale of the scientist who shakes his fist and God and says he is unneeded, that he can create life. God responds with “go ahead” and as the scientist begins to gather dirt from the earth God interrupts him, “not so fast, get your own dirt.” Nathanson is only pushing a problem back and creating a hypothetical situation similar to twins. However the zygote is produced, once it is a zygote it is fully human, and the “clone” distinction only describes origin, not value not value and thus leaves us back at the main question of the debate, should the genetic human be concerned less of a person when in the womb?

 

Beckwith, Francis J. Defending Life a Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice Cambridge University Press New York, NY 2007

Carroll, Robert T. Raelians The Skeptic’s Dictionary http://skepdic.com/raelian.html 1994 (Accessed 9/25/15)  (Note, obviously I’m not going to agree with a lot on this particular site, but it’s use was intentional, we should be skeptical of somethings, and all things should be examined, even our faith, but unlike this site, I think it stands up to examination.)

Cloning Dolly the Sheep, Animal Research.info http://www.animalresearch.info/en/medical-advances/timeline/cloning-dolly-the-sheep/ (Accessed 9/25/15)

Answering Anachronistic Charges Against the Bible.

coollogo_com-234404618

Answering Anachronistic charges against the Bible.

The writings we recognize as scripture we written near 2,000 years (NT) and much beyond to a predominantly Jewish audience with a culture very different than our own. One category of challenges lobbed by skeptics at the bible is actually due to failing to recognize the important truth. There expectations are unfair, culturally biased and anachronistic.

Dictionary.com defines an Anachronism as, “something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time:” (Dictionary.com)

In our culture we are constantly crunched for time. We schedule things tightly and see time as a minute by minute resource. David X. Cohen and his staff were so crunched for time when working on the animated sitcom Futurama that the added Blernsday to the calendar, the joke even found it’s why its way into the show in altered manner, “Blernsball is named for Blernsday, an extra day added to the production schedule during season one.” It’s not entertainers who face this pressure, it’s all of us in the west, we see time as “both limited and important, we talk about it as if it were a commodity that can be saved, traded or spent like money.” (Richards Pg. 137)

In their work, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes Removing Cultural Blinder to Better Understand the Bible, authors Richards and O’Brien distinguish between Chronos and Kairos time. Chronos is used “to describe the more quantitative aspects of time such as chronology or sequence.” (Richards Pg. 144) Karios refers, “to the more qualitative aspect of time, when something special happened.” (Richards Pg. 144) The authors note, “This term is used much more often-almost twice as frequently in the Bible.” (Richards Pg. 144) Karios is used of generalities, seasons, and eras, not specific moments on the clock and it’s this time of passage the time that biblical culture was more concerned with.

“While the, biblical authors were intentional about the sequence in which they presented, “(Richards Pg. 149) it should be noted that, “they weren’t preoccupied with historical, chronological order.” (Richards Pg. 149) Because the authors were more concerned with theme than chronology this lead the authors to record events in a different way than a modern western journalist or historian would. This does not make their methods wrong, only different than our own. This explains why the gospels have different orders of events and details. Such as why Luke and Matthew differ on the order of the location of the temptations of Jesus. It is not a contradiction but a matter of the author’s emphasis and the way they used one incident in connection to another to tell the gospel to their original intended audience. It would not be fair to expect them to write like a modern historians, it would be anachronistic if they did so. The author’s must be judged their cultures standards, in any attempt to do otherwise, would be just as unfair as expecting them to have written in .docx format.

A commentary on: A Leela of her own theinfosphere http://theinfosphere.org/Commentary:A_Leela_of_Her_Own updated 5/5/201 (accessed: September 24:2015)

anachronism. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/anachronism (accessed: September 24, 2015).

Richards, E. Randolph. P, O’Brien, Brandon J. Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible IVP Books Downers Groove, Il 2012

(A NOTE ABOUT the book Misreading Scripture…   I’m reading for a class assignment and at this point  I have found some important truths that need to be communicated, but I’ve also found error and others areas where I think poor thinking and over emphasis are occurring to the point I can’t recommend the book)

You are a bridge, are you being usable ?

image credit planetminecraft.com

image credit planetminecraft.com

You are a bridge. You may wonder why I’m declaring that, or you may shrug your shoulders and think,  “I’ve been called worse.” Regardless of your response to the idea, the truth remains the same. Paul used a different way to illustrate the same point. He told the Corinthians:

To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;” 1 Cor 9:20

Every single Christian is commanded to reach out to those around him. It’s easier for us to reach out to folks that our like minded. At the risk of stretching this metaphor a bit early, sometimes you may need to access certain parts of yourselves, or modify the bridge just a bit, but never compromise it, err, or simply poor Character (Shoddy craftsmanship) can result in a collapse.

As Christians we know the way to Christ. Bobby Conway (the One Minute Apologist) recently wrote a book about us being “the fifth gospel” (and it is entitled that) and similarly I like to think of us a bridge. I know that I am in a somewhat nerdy community of friends. I provide a bridge for them to learn the truth.  If I were to exclude myself from all non Christian friendships I would cut off access, at least one access, they had to learning about God.

Yes there are times I go out of my way and evangelize folks who don’t dress like me, look like me, or have the same hobbies, but the influence I can have within my hobbies and circle of friends is usually much more than I can with a stranger. This is not an either or type situation. What this is, is simple encouragement. I’m a nerd, I podcast, I do youtube reviews, I have attended a few conventions, and every step of the way I continue to be a Christian. This has lead to many opportunities to pray with folks, answer questions, share a meal with them, counsel them. I joke with my wife that I am a chaplain to the nerds, and while part humor, I take it seriously.

Take it a step further, don’t just realize your a bridge, but be active for it and look for conversational bridges or opportunities that can lead to a conversation about Christ. Nerdy folks are my people, and I intend not to falsely friend them for  attempt at a number, but out of genuine friendship and love, point them to Christ, praying for and looking for opportunities. Are you doing that in whatever hobby or circle you are in? even just a workplace? You may be the only bridge, the only exit they have access too, out of the worldly norm and towards a Savior seeking to restore them to Himself and to their fellow man.

Are you using where you are, and who you are as way to reach others for Christ?

BRIDGEtfP.S. keep in mind a bridge may not always look traditional.

Bonus points to those of you who know what

<    this is

The Bible wasn’t written TO you

This would make you feel more guilty about checking your facebook at church wouldn't it?

This would make you feel more guilty about checking your facebook at church wouldn’t it?

“The Bible was not written to us”* these words can sound like both an alarming claim and a harsh assault to the widely held modern understanding of how to comprehend the Bible. Today anti-intellectualism still influences the American church and if one does not approach the Scriptures correctly, an interpreter could find application or meaning that the original author did not intend. While it is certainly true the very basics of the faith can be discovered on plan reading, and certainly reading each passage in context provides even further clarity, education about the culture, geography, and literature are often necessary to ascertain what the author intended to communicate. Scripture actually encourages to have this type of deeper and more accurate understanding. Ephesians 4:14 is just part of a passage calling us towards maturity and states, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” (NASB)

Unfortunately I have witnessed many troubled parents who had been emotional blown about, and even driven from their faith by their own, or by another’s, misunderstanding of Proverbs 22:6 which states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NASB) This verse does not serve as an absolute, but is, like all proverbs, a general truth. Parenting is certainly going to have an enormous impact on a child’s life, this however does not negate their free will, or serve as a solid guarantee, nor was it ever meant to; instead it was meant to encourage a parent to raise their child to honor God, not give them some sort of false hope. I’ve seen many tears from parents over this verse, and many have had to come to terms with their misunderstanding of the verse, or else blame themselves, many choose the later because of a deeply ingrained misunderstanding. I have also sadly heard this verse used as excuse to ignore the importance of Apologetics, and focusing solely on theology, which truthfully is hardly raising a child in the way that they should go, given 1 Peter 3:15’s command to us all, but it is actually likely to decrease the child’s chances of staying on the path of faith in Christ as an adult!

Not only do these misunderstandings cause trouble within the body, similar issues arise from skeptics and are used as ammo against the church, and the faithful. Some will charge that God couldn’t be good or true, because of verses like Proverbs 22:6 are promises that are obviously broken. A student of God’s word should be able to respond to this charge in two ways, asking the accuser about the literary context of the verse (is that meant for everyone?) and demonstrating the difference between a flawed interpretation and an infallible text. While a skeptic isn’t likely to accept the bible is inerrant, it can be demonstrated that a reader’s understanding of what something says, isn’t necessarily what the author intended. One could take “hit the nail on the head” as a literal direction or a recognition of someone’s understanding, context is the key to discovering what the author or speaker intended.

*Henderson, Scott PhD. Course Notes and Resources Biblical Apologetics: Luther Rice College and Seminary September 2015, accessed September 10th 2015, pg 3.

God’s existence and his interaction with this world (miracles)

N4LI (Sam) am frequently required to write papers for my college, some short, some long. With the desire to provide some additional content to help in your spiritual journey I have hoped to share a few of these items if you desire to read them. First up is a 15 page paper that covers God’s existence and the possibility of miracles. God is glorified in my weakness, and  I say that to say, I leaned on him and the minds of those far more gifted than I to write this, and some spelling and grammar checking via Heather (my wife.) If you have interest in discussing miracles or the existence of God with a non believer, or prepping a youth, or yourself, for a world hostile to our faith (especially secular colleges and schools) this might be a good starting point, with some recommend reading being the works quoted.

You can access the pdf hosted on my church website HERE.