My family are not believers, but I was somehow graced with the gospel and converted at age 17 (only a few years ago 😛 ). I naively digested a lot of literalist material, much to my families chagrin (they are an educated bunch). I then spent 7 years at university studying science and engineering. Eventually the discontinuity between YEC and the standard models of science stretched my credulity too far. However my experiences of God have been far too rich to dismiss the Bible and the Church outright, so I reserved judgment. In recent years I have recovered the inclination to look into these matters again, but from a somewhat more relaxed perspective. I for one think that ID or theistic evolution neatly resolves my dilemma.
Existence ex nihilo. Order from chaos. Life from non-life. Mind from matter. A chain of millions of coincidences, culminating in mankind. Creation is striving upwards — as Paul Davies said, the Universe appears to be specifically designed for humans to arise.
The existence of God is a logical conclusion from numerous lines of independent evidence, not just personal revelations, but also undeniable miracles before my eyes, prophecies, and most of all the power of God’s love that changes people’s lives.
The life of Jesus Christ is the most powerful evidence Christianity offers. The eternal God embraced humanity and mortality in order to gather all people to Himself.
Jesus said of himself:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
I have found Christianity to be a “revealed” religion, as the Catholic phrase goes. I had given up on God but he never gave up on me, and did not demand anything of me. He simply encouraged me to show up at church, and although my response was half-hearted at best God has helped me out a LOT.
We cannot reach God by human effort, including by debating on a blog. We need Grace.
Does prayer work?
Jacalyn Duffin: The Doctor Was Surprised; or, How to Diagnose a Miracle
A survey of more than six hundred miracle records in the canonization files of the Vatican Secret Archives from the seventeenth century to the twentieth century reveals that more than 95 percent are healings from illness. The history of the canonization process is summarized to explain the sources. The diagnoses amenable to miracle cure change through time to reflect current medical preoccupations and methods. Physician testimony has always been crucial to the investigation of miracles for declaring the hopeless prognosis and the surprise at recovery. From this analysis, medicine and religion emerge as parallel semiotic endeavors, using their canons of wisdom and careful observation to derive meaning in suffering.
Professor Leslie Francis of the University of Bangor has studied 31 experiments (conducted to the “highest professional standards”) into the effectiveness of prayer.
“The findings are quite staggering,” he says. “Studies show that patients in hospital who are being prayed for (even when they do not know they are being prayed for) are more likely to recover.”
Not forgetting the miracle of Dunkirk, the miraculous growth of the Church, the history of Israel, and the transformation of nations by the Gospel of peace.
I enjoy these discussions, but according to Karl Barth:
“Belief cannot argue with unbelief, it can only preach to it.”
“the most active workers and thinkers and fighters in the divine service in this world have at the same time, and manifestly, been the most active in prayer”
Isaiah chs. 5, 40, 61
Psalms 23, 103, 126
1 Corinthians 13
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Unlike the atheist who brashly asserts that there is no God (confident in his mind’s ability to comprehend the universe), the wise believer in Christ holds a humble opinion of his abilities, and for the unscholarly there are brief catechisms, or the simple command of Christ to “Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbour as yourself. This sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Chesterton discusses the irrational folly of trying to comprehend the world with reason alone. Polanyi recognized the same thing, but spelled it out in a more systematic way, showing how every act of perception is an imaginative leap of irreducible creativity. As Chesterton writes, “poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea,” but “reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so to make it finite…. The poet asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”
And why is it so difficult to have a rational discussion with these hyper-rational people? For the simple reason that their minds are not impeded by the distraction of reality.
This foreshadows Gödel’s theorems, which proved that a formal system can be complete or consistent, but not both. Thus, the end result of atheistic scientism is “a combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction”
A human being is situated halfway between the stars above and the dust below — or between freedom and determinacy, matter and spirit, security and adventure, animal and God, part and whole, time and eternity. So,
Look up — look up
And seek your maker
Before Mr. Gabriel blows his horn
If the world were as simple as the atheist insists it is, not only would it not be worth understanding, but it would be too simple to have ever given rise to understanders.
Yes Christianity makes testable truth claims, but
“the Gospel is not a systematic exposition of the Christian teaching, precisely because it is not concerned with teaching. Jesus did not leave behind Him a new philosophical system, nor did He institute a mere religion. He left His body and sent His Spirit. And the Gospel consists of fundamental elements from the life of Jesus and the experience of the new community in Christ. St John the Evangelist speaks clearly of the restricted character of the Gospel: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25) However, those things which the world could not contain if they were written in detail are found, made known and lived in the Church, where Jesus Himself lives. Those who think they know Christ outside the Church know very few things about Him; those who belong to the Church live “in Him”. Thus we can say that the Gospel is essentially a “private” book. The Gospel and dogma are expressions of the same Spirit of the Church. The Church is not producing literature when it writes the Gospel nor engaging in philosophy when it formulates dogma, but in both cases it is expressing the fulness of the new life hidden within it. For this reason, the Gospel cannot be understood outside the Church nor dogma outside worship.”
I should also mention that atheism requires large dollops of faith. Usually unstated, the assumptions are:
* A belief that the universe and the manner in which it functions can be comprehended by a species of limited intelligence through empirical methods (a necessary assumption).
* A belief that actual causal patterns, that explain the origin and subsequent development of both the universe and life on earth, can be traced to basic forces of nature from which are generated more complexly organized phenomenon.
* A belief that consciousness arose from chemical properties of matter contained by the organism having consciousness.
* A belief that chemical reactions of non-living matter led to a living cell.
* A belief that science is able to explain the origin of the universe and life on earth without recourse to any telic or intelligent causal components.
* A belief that no empirical data can be produced to support theories of intelligent design.
However, I would argue that assumptions 2-6 are more rooted in philosophical materialism or naturalism than they are empirical science. Indeed, I would argue that these kinds of assumptions are not necessary at all to the advancement of science. My view of natural science is that it needs to be minimally metaphysical opposed to anti-metaphysical.
Empirical science does not deal well with large discontinuities. Indeed, to study natural causation requires some degree of continuity or a causal chain or nexus; where an unbroken chain of causation doesn’t exist the history of science shows that human inference is a very powerful tool in bridging the gaps. However there are limits to this gap bridging. Problems like the origin of the universe, the origin of life and the origin of consciousness and mind (what I call the “big three”) presently have too much discontinuity. The so called scientific explanations put forward by materialists are little more than “just-so stories”. These kinds of explanations usually require not only several leaps of logic but a very generous leap of faith as well. (HT: <a href="telicthoughts.com)
I offer the challenge of Edward Tingley:
Maybe what the nay-sayers ought to do is to stop pronouncing in the absence of evidence and start looking for new instruments by which to get some. That is science. Modern science, especially, advances by the discovery of new means by which to acquire what is, to be sure, also concrete, measurable evidence. But it is not always “material evidence,” “the evidence of the eye.”
This sentiment is echoed by Francis Collins:
To simply rule ‘out of order’ any questions that go beyond the natural world is a circular argument. This leaves out profoundly important spiritual questions, such as why we are here, if there is a God, and what happens after we die. Those are questions that science is not really designed to answer. You have to look in another place, using another kind of approach. And for me that’s faith.
God is the author of all truth. You can find him in the laboratory as well as in the cathedral. He’s the God of the Bible; he’s the God of the genome. He did it all.