How Should We Live?

In my numerous discussions with atheists I’ve frequently encountered the charge that religion (viz, Christianity) is weak in its claims to hold “Truth”, whereas Science is very robust in that regard, because it uses more “rigorous” evidence and procedures in its quest for truth. Thus the (atheist) presumption that “science is everything” : scientific knowledge is the measure of all truth.

This claim is highly problematic, containing numerous unstated premises – – the omniscience of academia; the infallibility of the human mind; the perfection of current knowledge; the supremacy of a cerebral, analytical, skeptical way of understanding the word around us. It’s left-brain thinking to an absurd degree.

I’ve encountered a similar attitude when discussing the book of Genesis with very literal-minded readers. Truth is truth, plain and simple they say. If it’s not “true” according to their understanding, then it’s all a lie — are you calling the Word of God a lie!?? Such binary thinking is quite frustrating. Readers should not assume they have an infallible interpretation of what the original author wrote, and what was meant for readers to understand, when all sorts of context is missing, and language itself is an imperfect tool.

In the same way, reducing a religious faith to a bunch of propositional truth claims and cerebral arguments, to be verified or falsified by a scientific experiment, is a gross failure to comprehend religion’s broader purpose as a cultural touchstone. “What is Truth?” is an important question but not the *most* important question. Surely theists and atheists can agree that “How should we Live” is a more vital question facing humanity.

In this talk, Ravi Zacharias presents a solid case for why atheists have no acceptable answer for this all-important question. Pursuing the question from the angles of philosophy, the arts, and morality, Zacharias provides an illuminating discussion about the importance of this question and the consequences for failing to answer it adequately, while arguing that Christianity presents a satisfying answer.

Yes propositional truth and “proofs” are an important and significant part of the intellectual heritage of the Christian faith. There are numerous independent pieces of evidence to support a a rational conclusion that God exists. But endless philosophizing and arguing over abstractions won’t change the world. The most important part of Jesus’ message was not “I am God so everybody else shut up”; it was “This is how you should live

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians shows a better way:
Continue reading “How Should We Live?”

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Science != Atheism

Over at Open Parachute I’ve participated in some entertaining discussions, without wishing to preach or anything, out of pure interest in the faith/science interface. Religion and Science are both cultural artefacts, but there is an extreme form of atheism posing as ‘scientific’ that wants to assess the ‘validity’ of all fields of human endeavour [ed: […]

Ostentatious B and the Clique of Destiny

I usually don’t dig Garth George, but he has excelled himself this time. A fantastic piece of reporting. He’s probably the first mainstream media person to (at last) identify Destiny as a Cult.

Summary of the report: (from Wikipedia — more here)
About 700 male members of the church swore a “covenant oath” of loyalty and obedience to Mr Tamaki and were given a “covenant ring” to wear on their right hands. A document entitled “Protocols and Requirements Between Spiritual Father & His Spiritual Sons” contains the oath:

“ Above all, we stand here today in the presence of God to enter into this sacred covenant with our man of God, Bishop Brian Tamaki”

and:

“To you Bishop we pledge our allegiance, our faithfulness and loyalty. We pledge to serve the cause that is in your heart and to finish that work. Success to you and success to those who help you – for God is with you. ”

The document asserts Tamaki’s authority as “Bishop” and “spiritual father” of the church he founded. Another section, “Conduct Towards Bishop”, states that “Bishop is the tangible expression of God”, instructs the “sons” to follow numerous protocols, to defer to Tamaki with unquestioning loyalty and obedience, to follow his dress code, and to never tolerate criticism.

Garth also wrote a brief apologetic comparing Tamaki with the Pope, but I think a comparison with the teachings of Christ would have been more effective. Tamaki is a malevolent whacko preying on the poor. An oath of loyalty to a fallible human being is essentially replacing Christ as the Shepherd of the church, and treating this bloke like God’s mouthpiece is a sad indictment on the value of Bible study in this shameful outfit. Deferring all Bible interpretation to an obviously unschooled guy who relies on charisma and emotional tactics is an abrogation of the responsibility each believer has to learn the basics of their faith.

The Bible says “Test everything, hold fast to the good”, “Do not believe every spirit”, “Watch out for false teachers”. The Bereans were commended by Paul for testing the teachings of Apollos against the Hebrew scriptures. The doubts of Thomas were not disdained, but treated seriously and patiently. Peter was corrected about holding to Jewish rituals, and admitted he was wrong. Even in the Old Testament God routinely humbled arrogant kings. God responded graciously to many idiotic prayers (Gideon’s fleece, Elisha’s axe, reluctant Moses) because he doesn’t run a giant hierarchy based on fear, but a community of people freely choosing to follow him.

Church history is filled with schisms and dissensions over theology, but I think religions should propound values that enhance human existence, and freedom of thought/speech/opinion is an important, fundamental value.
Continue reading “Ostentatious B and the Clique of Destiny”

Mangling the Bible

The Antichrist Revealed! John Key has been Prophesised in the Word of God!! | The Dunedin School [SATIRE SATIRE SATIRE] The Word of God, the Bible, provides many descriptions of the Antichrist. The Bible tells us that, in the End Times, the Antichrist will ascend to dominion over the coming New World Order. He will […]