Friday, February 27, 2009
It's a telling move. That is, atheism has started its own evolution from a philosophical viewpoint to a fundamentalist movement. When a historical figure -- who made no claim to deity -- can be lauded by his adherents 200 years later as one who should be praised, then a certain deification is blooming. No matter how small, or how ironic, or how innocuous it was intended to be, the fact remains that Darwin is now being elevated to a level he would probably reject were he alive.
On top of all that though, atheism is not about evolution. The evolutionary model is simply a naturalistic understanding of the emergence and development of the world and its species. Atheism is quite simply a lack of belief in deity, and/or a rejection of the supernatural. So while evolution provides an understanding, that understanding is simply a tool in a much wider perspective about the nature of reality. Atheism, if it is properly understood (and I don't claim to have exhaustive understanding) does not limit itself to evolution as its entire epistemology.
That being said, it would seem to me that the catchy notion to 'evolve beyond belief' ends up in a bit of a conundrum: why would an atheist believe evolution? I have reasons why I, as a theist, believe evolution. But those reasons come with a price: a belief that my reasons are reliable, that rationality is reliable. So if these particular atheists, the ones who are touting the 'Praise Darwin' billboards, are encouraging us to 'evolve beyond belief', how is it that they believe anything of what they're promoting? How do they know their rationality is reliable? They've taken the floor out from under their own feet by implying that human beings are more evolved, genetically superior, when they lack belief. But how can they say that and believe it to be true without also disbelieving it?
The only way it can be true is if it is false. And the only way it can be false is if it is true. Essentially, the billboard means nothing. However, the connotations it brings about will addle people's brains enough that it will seem like something.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Well, the campaign is far from over. Atheists have presented their petitions to Ottawa to take up advertising space on the sides of buses. So far: no.
Strangely, I don't care!
"Members of the Free Thought Association of Ottawa were on hand at the committee meeting and urged the committee to allow the advertisements. Afterward, the association vowed to continue the fight to have the ads on city buses.
Julie Breeze, a director with the Ottawa group, said the city has accepted religious advertisements in the past, and that the group is being discriminated against.
“We will continue to fight this,” she said. “There are a lot of people out there that share our views, and we are very disappointed that the motion didn’t pass. We would like to see an open dialogue in this city where differing views are allowed to be presented.”
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
This would mean that assisted suicide is a matter of joint decision between the person requesting to be euthanized, the medical practitioners qualified to administer lethal means, and all those who care for the person requesting the mercy killing. Essentially, euthanasia, as bishop Harries views it, is an issue of interdependent choices, not individual autonomy.
What do you think?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Having paid absolutely zero attention to either side of the debate my whole life, having inserted the expected responses in my schoolwork from memory and not reason, I was startled that I even noticed this little bit of sickly sweet smelling radio candy.
So where IS that iron-clad scriptural account of no death before the fall? I checked Genesis; nothing. We surely die after we sin, but no mention of whether we were going to physically perish anyway (maybe it would have taken longer?), and nothing relating to the other creatures having never physically died before either. Okay, so without scriptural support and evidence for such a claim, why is this so commonly taught and accepted as scripturally sound doctrine?
Then, while reading Francis Collins' The Language of God, Collins alerted me to the Genesis account of the creation. Hmmm. Not all at once. Everything was created in steps. He asks how long the days were before the sun was created, if one holds to 'a day' being 24 hours, no more, no less. I consider the days described as eras rather than clock rotations anyway, so I wasn't bothered by this question. But, it occurred to me that the various arguments against old earth and evolutionary theory seem to rely very heavily or completely upon irreducible complexity and therefore, in a bizarro way, on inadequate technology.
Once we know and can view the parts that make what was previously thought to be irreducible, what happens to the arguments? What if the earth isn't flat and knowing this doesn't result in believers becoming morally unstable, abominable, reprobate despots?
My perspective on the universe seems to be evolving... ;) This may end up being the segue to my coming out of the... cave?
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Luke 23:33-34 (New International Version):
"When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'"
Theological Perspective: Christ's petition for the Father to forgive the ignorant murderers prefigures the nature of forgiveness for the rest of us once Christ was crucified. In effect, once Christ was crucified and his blood was sacrificed voluntarily, our forgiveness was accomplished before we asked for it. So now, we don't necessarily need to ask for forgiveness (though it is a good practice, and as Bonhoeffer noted, keeps us from thinking of forgiveness purely as a reflective activity). We just need to live in that forgiveness, and ask the Holy Spirit to quicken that forgiveness in our lives.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of famed Billy Graham) has declared that we're now at the great convergence in history when we can expect to see the end of human existence.
Well, it would seem that Christ's birth marked the half-way point in human time, so haven't we been on our way out of time since then? In which case, the seeming especial importance of sharing the gospel at the end of time has been the historical norm since the earth received Christ some 2000+ years ago. That would mean that it was just as important to share the gospel then as it is now. This by that, there is clearly no difference in degrees of importance sharing the gospel now than there was then.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
"Then I learned that all moral judgments are ‘value judgments,’ that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ I even read somewhere that the Chief Justice of the United States had written that the American Constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments. Believe it or not, I figured out for myself–what apparently the Chief Justice couldn’t figure out for himself–that if the rationality of one value judgment was zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one whit more rational. Nor is there any ‘reason’ to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring–the strength of character–to throw off its shackles…I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consists in the insupportable ‘value judgment’ that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these ‘others?’ Other human beings, with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is your life more than a hog’s life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasure more for the one than for the other? Surely, you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as ‘moral’ or ‘good’ and others as ‘immoral’ or ‘bad’? In any case, let me assure you, my dear young lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure that I might take in eating ham and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me–after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited."
"Ted Bundy, cited in Louis P. Pojman, Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong, 3rd edition (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson, 1999), 31-32."