Naturalism


Tim Keller @ GoogleSorry that I haven't been posting lately … that "real life" thing has started eating up most of my free time now that I've actually started working (still part-time at this point) with TruthMedia and serving actively at my church.

Lately though I've been trying to get back into reading more often, and the current book I'm working through is Timothy Keller's The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. It was recommended by a couple different blogs that I frequent (independently of eachother) so I figured I'd pick it up. It's quite well written so far (I'm only about 20% done at this point) and I like the fact that it is sort of a reply to Dawkins/Harris/Dennet/Hitchens without actually being presented that way (as merely a rebuttal or defense). He brings a scholar's mind and a pastor's heart to his writing which helps to make it intellectually rigorous while at the same time compassionate and humble.

I recently also saw an interesting post about Tim Keller speaking at Google headquarters about his book. Apparently it was the largest turn out ever for a Google "Author Talk" event. Hopefully the talk will be posted on YouTube or something soon. Quote: "Weak faith in a strong object is infinitely better than strong faith in a weak object." Check out the book if you haven't already, it's good stuff.

SpaceThe other day I came across a well written essay by Dr. Henry F. Schaefer III entitled "Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence?" (aka Scientists and Their Gods) and so I thought I'd share the link with you. He is described by the US News & World Report as being "Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and the director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia." He is a multiple Nobel Prize nominee and is a highly cited chemist. As a Christian and a scientist, he has some insightful comments on the relationship between science and religion and observations regarding Christian scientists (or scientists who also are Christians).

EarthI'm still slowly working my way through Dawkins' The God Delusion. I'm about halfway done with chapter four, "Why God Almost Certainly Doesn't Exist". Chapter three, in which Dawkins attempts to refute the positive case for God's existence, was unconvincing, for the reasons that have already been noted as well as others. I'm making copious notes as I read so that I'll be able to make a series of posts when I finish reading it, but because of this it's taking a long time to read.

One of the threads on the FORU.MS discussion board was deleted recently, and one of my old posts went along with it. (Not sure why the thread was removed.) A mod was kind enough to forward my post in the thread to me before it was removed, so here's my reply below to someone who posted some comments on science and faith, which I have edited & expanded a bit for this blog: (original poster's comments in italics; assume all spelling errors in his/her writing were in their original post)

Christians don't trust in Science because it clean's their clock. I mean Noah's ark? Camon.

(more…)

Miracle  uh, Whip!Further to my first post about miracles (wow that was almost a year ago) the following thoughts came to mind today as I was reading In Defense of Miracles: A Comprehensive Case for God's Actions in History, which examines the concept of the miraculous in light of Hume's essay "Of Miracles" (and later works which expanded upon that essay).

The idea that science disproves the possibility of miracles is, IMHO, extremely misguided. Science is able to confirm that certain things are testable and repeatable, that is, empirically verifiable in the present. Miracles, by nature, are none of these things. For example, today as I rode home on the bus I glanced out the window as the bus came to a stop. To my surprise I saw a rabbit sitting on the grass beside the road. I had never seen a rabbit here before (a fairly built-up area along a heavily trafficked road). This event is still not testable (you'll have to take my word for it that I observed a rabbit earlier today) and not repeatable (even if we were to get on the same bus, drive along the same road, etc, the circumstances could never be exactly the same) and yet the event really did occur. There is no reason to claim that this was a miraculous event, but even here science cannot test whether this mundane event occurred.

Therefore it's no surprise that science has not (cannot) confirm (or disprove) the miraculous. Richard R. Purtill notes in his essay "Defining Miracles" (also part of the aforementioned book) that scientists "tend to confine their investigations to the ordinary course of nature and to ignore such exceptions as might be made to the course of nature by God, since exceptions brought about by personal agency cannot be predicted from a study of what normally happens".

Trying to test whether a supposed miraculous event occurred in history using the scientific method is sort of like trying to determine whether a banana is tasty by sticking it in your ear and listening to it. It's inappropriate methodology. There's nothing wrong with the scientific method for testing natural phenomenon. However a miracle is not natural, and therefore it is misguided to dismiss, say, the resurrection by appealing to science that shows that people rising from the dead is impossible. Of course we observe that dead people stay dead, and that's entirely the point. This wasn't lost on first century people either: Jesus' resurrection was a big deal because people knew that dead people are supposed to stay dead.

This does not mean that science has no part in examining the truth claims of miracles, but only that as unique events in history, a miracle claim is more properly investigated as history rather than science.

Further reading: The Facts Concerning the Resurrection: Don't believe the New Testament is a reliable historical source? I'd argue that the NT is historically reliable, but try let's throwing out most of what it contains, and only focus on facts agreed upon by the vast majority of scholars, Christian or not. What we find might surprise you!

« Previous PageNext Page »