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Posts Tagged ‘worldview’

“The question of why evil exists is not a theological question, for it assumes that it is possible to go behind the existence forced upon us as sinners. If we could answer it then we would not be sinners. We could make something else responsible…The theological question does not arise about the origin of evil but about the real overcoming of evil on the Cross; it asks for the forgiveness of guilt, for the reconciliation of the fallen world.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I come across blog posts rather frequently about “The Problem of Evil”. Often, atheists will use the discussion as a “proof” against Christianity. Meanwhile, Christians will take their best shot at providing a rational solution to the question.

Actively living and writing in Hitler’s Germany, Bonhoeffer was certain that evil was not a good reason to doubt God’s existence. The evil present in that time demanded a response. Without God, what was left to condemn it.

It is important to move beyond the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” An alternate question might be, “How can a good and loving God expunge evil from the people and Creation He loves without destroying them?” Answers to these questions are not as easy and obvious as some atheists might like to believe, nor are they for anyone else.

For me, these issues were further put in focus after reading Evil and the Cross (IVP) by Henri Blocher many years ago. As a result, I developed a talk used many times that my students endearingly referred to as “The Evil Talk”. What most unsettled and interested students in their love-hate relationship with the discussion is that many dearly held apologetics are overturned before a more reasonable answer can be found. (more…)

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(For context, see “Are You My Mother?” and “The Visible Word”.)

Genesis 1:1-5
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

As a kid who grew up aspiring to be an astronomer with a conservative Evangelical background that emphasized creationism over evolution, I couldn’t see this passage any other way. These verses had one theological purpose to emphasize whatever scientific explanations may exist about Big Bang or other alternatives: God did it! Plain and simple. These verses were about how God created the Universe.

So I was a bit surprised a few years ago when a speaker used this and the first chapter of John as his starting point to talk about art. His goal in conversation with Evangelicals who are used to emphasizing “Word” over “Light” was that the two were not just congruent, but intimately related. Here I was seeing the artistic equivalent unfold to what I knew already from Thomas Torrance’s teachings about science. (more…)

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In Section 25 of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, we looked at the fulfillment of the knowledge of God. In Section 26, Barth delved into what it means for God to be knowable. Now in Section 27, Barth discusses the limits of that knowledge–namely where it begins and ends. He seemingly starts by reiterating where we left off in the previous sections:

“God is known only by God. We do not know Him, then, in virtue of the views and concepts with which in faith we attempt to respond to His revelation. But we also do not know Him without making use of His permission and obeying His command to undertake this attempt. The success of this undertaking, and therefore the veracity of our human knowledge of God, consists in the fact that our viewing and conceiving is adopted and determined to participation in the truth of God by God Himself in grace.” –Karl Barth (CD II.1, p.179)

While this opening remark is well rooted in the discussions of God’s revelation being a gift of His grace, Barth’s develops each word as part of an even more well defined picture. Barth confirms that the starting and ending points must be contained within God, but he also intends to show how it is that we can know anything about God on this basis. (more…)

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John 1:1-5
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Shedding Light on the Old, Old Story
Most people when starting a discussion about science and faith start with Genesis. That makes sense since it is a book about beginnings of Creation and culture. But John reinterprets all of that and then some. In five short sentences, he renews the whole story of Scripture.

We know from Genesis that God created by His own Word. “Light be. Light was.” From John, we learn that the Son of God was that Word. That Word created all things and has now “moved into the neighborhood” (The Message by Eugene Peterson). The Word is not just heard, HE is visibly and even tangibly revealed to us.

In Genesis, we also learn of the beginnings of humanity, sin and death. The Word has provided light for all people and now reveals Himself personally. He is Light that will not be extingished, but will overcome all darkness including our self-willed ignorance.

A Better Light to Read By
Dr. Carl Sagan begins his book Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark with the inscription of a Jewish proverb. “It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” As the subtitle explicitly states, for Dr. Sagan, science is that savior that will overcome all means of ignorance including religion. (more…)

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I’m speaking tongue-in-cheek, of course. However, I have long been annoyed by both Christians and atheists who imply or even outright state that science is an inherently atheistic process–that somehow “theistic scientists are actually practical atheists”. Though if we truly believe that faith or lack thereof is inherently assumed in the scientific method, then my question is at least as legitimate.

Again, both Christians and atheists have suggested that Christians either need to reinvent their own form of science or reinvent religion to be more like science. Dr. Carl Sagan once went so far as to say, “‎If there was a church that was based on the truth, then it would be indistinguishable from science.”

I talk more about my experience with Dr. Sagan here. For those not familiar with Dr. Sagan, the following clip may be helpful. This is from one of his last interviews about his book The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark with Charlie Rose.

It may be easy for us as Christians to spot the arrogance of an atheist who would dismiss, or at least reinvent, the whole history of religion. However, it is equally arrogant for Christians to set out and develop their own special “science”.

As Christians, we should start by remembering that God created all things and that absolutely nothing was created apart from God. Any study of any part of the universe is a study in what God has made and continues to maintain. We cannot reinvent the object, nor can we reinvent the proper method of study. It must be engaged on its own terms–studied according to its nature. (more…)

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