Archive for March, 2011
Believe it or not, not every blog I frequent is a skeptical one. In fact, if you have been paying attention to this blog over the last month or so, this fact seems redundant given my three posts on Universalism. One of the blogs I frequent is Truth In Religion and Politics, authored by John Barron Jr.-and his most recent post asks three questions of his atheist readers.
The post, entitled Three Questions For Atheists, is a call for atheists to give him some answers as to what might make us believe in a God and more specifically the Christian God. He has assured me in the post that he is not accepting pithy remarks from Christians about what they think would convince an atheist and in this spirit of good faith, I offered my own answers. I suggest that you read the original post, but I will pose and answer the three questions here, followed by a brief commentary regarding his response to my answers in his comment section. My answers here are worded a bit differently, with parts added for clarity and some references to other commenters removed.
Three Questions For Atheists
1.What would it take, or what would have to happen for you to abandon your position of atheism and come to a theistic view; not just an agnostic possibility of God, but an actual belief that a Deity does exist?
It would take evidence. I think that for me empirical evidence would be the best possible way to believe in anything, but I’m willing to concede that that it is neither necessary nor expected. Although empirical evidence would be ideal, I don’t think in this particular case it is always reasonable. I also have to admit that there are many things that I believe on some level of evidence that is shy of empirical. In fact most things I believe meet this criteria in some sense.
I have not, for example, seen the molecules in the atmosphere that scatter blue light and make the sky appear blue, but I safely assert that this is precisely why the sky is blue. I do this because the scientific basis for that fact makes other useful predictions that I can test against reality.
So my ability to accept any form of theism would be dependent on that belief meeting some basic criteria.
To appeal to the twitter crowd I’ve boiled it down to ‘The 4 C’s’:
a) The belief cannot contradict any facts that I am aware of-and I guess, philosophically, that I’m not aware of as well.(It is Consistent)
b) the belief should have some sense of necessity. (It has Context)
c) the belief must offer some predictive advantage over alternate hypotheses (It is Convenient)
d) It appeals to facts instead of unknowns (It is Credible)
If an epistemology can meet these criteria, then it is worth holding, regardless of empirical (in the scientific sense) verification.
So if it could be shown to me that theism met those criteria, I would have to admit that it was the most plausible epistemology.
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2.What would it take for you to believe Christianity is true? (more…)
So my wife and I are watching T.V. the other night, and we are watching the tail end of the St. John’s Newfoundland newscast, when I see a story that piques my interest.
I think to myself,”George, this would make a great little lighthearted piece for blog fodder.”
So I Google it this morning, thinking that it should be in the news in the appropriate local paper. I couldn’t find the original story I saw on T.V., but was surprised to learn that I had stumbled across an apparent epidemic…..
It’s not the first time a Newfoundlander has been arrested for drunk driving by falling asleep in a McDonald’s Drive-Thru.
Police in St. John’s said they arrested a man for impaired driving at an unusual location: the drive-thru lane at a McDonald’s restaurant.
Staff at an unspecified outlet called police early Monday morning when the man fell asleep at the wheel of his vehicle, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said.
The man, 37, was held pending a court appearance on charges of impaired driving and driving while prohibited.
It isn’t the first time it has happened in Canada.
On Sunday July 29th, 2007 at about 5:54pm County of Wellington OPP officers responded to a report of a man asleep behind the wheel in the Drive-thru lane of McDonalds located on Tower Street, Fergus.
Officers attended and found a 1996 Pontiac Transport van in the Drive-thru lane and the driver asleep. The driver was awakened by police and found to have been drinking. Malcolm Ross Woods aged 25 years of Elora has been charged with Impaired Driving and Over 80 mgs. Woods is scheduled to appear in Guelph Court on August 20th, 2007 to answer to the charges.
According to police, Parker had fallen asleep with his car’s engine running and the transmission in drive. When he woke up, according to police, an officer smelled alcohol on his breath.
Parker, 21, needed to lean against his car to find balance, struggled through a field sobriety test and admitted that he had smoked marijuana either Friday night or early Saturday morning, police said.
Oddly, Parker still “passed” a breathalyzer test, registering only a .054, which is below the Florida legal limit (even though he failed a field test; I assume this is the grounds for the DUI).
This is proof positive that our civilization is in decline.
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This subject should make me giggle.
I should be sitting back basking in the splendor of watching the faith that I grew up in-the faith that I taught and brought to people for a decade- the faith that I left in no small part due to instances like this one- humiliate itself by drowning in it’s own hubris.
I’m not laughing….and I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because I have a friend who will be publishing a book on Universalism in the next
month, and watching the vitriol makes me overly protective of her. Perhaps it is because I’m not as good at schadenfreude as I want to think I am. Perhaps it is because I see a faith castigating a pastor for something he didn’t even say- something that I myself considered strongly before rejecting it and my faith years ago.
Universalism, right or wrong, is the elephant in the room in Christian circles today. Whether it is biblically grounded is beside the point. I’m not here to argue for Universalism-I’ll leave that to my friend and her forthcoming book. What I am arguing for is a faith that asks and answers the tough questions instead of publicly crucifying someone for giving these questions their due. Especially when all available evidence suggests that this someone, pastor Rob Bell, does nothing more than use questions about Universalism in order to clarify traditional Evangelical theology in his new book LOVE WINS.
Universalism is not a fringe idea. It is an idea that is gaining traction among young Christians, again- biblical or not- it is based on “evidence that demands a verdict” (to glibly use another apologist’s words). There are, without a doubt, bible verses that seem to support universal salvation. There are, without a doubt, bible verses that seem to contradict universal salvation. The facts bear witness that it is not a subject that RealChristians™ will get away from by simply yelling “HERESY” loudly over the voices of dissent. Rob Bell knows this. He is taking the issue head on. He’s answering the questions of those Universalists, and from the reports of all those currently in the know, he’s telling them they are well intentioned….and wrong.
If you doubt that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, I direct you to the words of Dr. Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University (Chicago, Illinois). In his recent post “Waiting For Rob Bell”, McKnight says:
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Some of you may have heard of Rob Bell. If you are a professing Christian, there is a 100%
chance that you have heard of Rob Bell. If you are a RealChristian™, there is a 100% chance you think he’s a heretic who will burn in Hell.
For the uninformed in our audience- What, do you suppose, would warrant RealChristians™ bypassing the judgement of their Savior and being certain of his impending fate?
Is he an atheist? Well, no. An abortion doctor? Nope. An evolutionist? I’m not certain. He must be saying that Jesus was just a really great guy? Not even close.
He’s a Universalist…..well, maybe.
Bell is a pastor at a Michigan church and a Christian author. His new book, LOVE WINS: A Book About Heaven, Hell, And The Fate Of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell supposedly argues for Universalism- that heretic doctrine that God will bring every person into His
Kingdom. I say supposedly because the book has not even been released yet. Christians have decided that the provocative title and even more provocative publisher’s blurb (and promotional video) are enough to sentence Bell to an eternity of torment. No need to read the book, say many Christians, we can judge the whole book based on a title, blurb, and video.
It is the intellectual equivalent of saying that Kurt Vonnegut is the worst author in history based solely on watching the trailer for “Breakfast Of Champions”.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 13 so far )
I owe my creationist friends a humble apology.
It seems that evolution is observably false after all…..
ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The process of evolution, through which single-celled organisms slowly developed over billions of years into exponentially more sophisticated forms of life, has inexplicably culminated in local Albuquerque resident Mitch Szabo, leading evolutionary biologists reported Monday.
According to baffled sources within the scientific community, the exact same mechanisms responsible for some of nature’s most spectacularly ingenious adaptations have apparently also produced a 35-year-old office assistant who has only worn pants that actually fit him a total of five times in his adult life.
“The identical processes that have given us the remarkable camouflage of the stick insect and the magnificent plumage of the bird-of-paradise have, it would seem, also given us a man who cannot scramble an egg,” University of Pennsylvania biologist Ann Goldwyn-Ross said. “Despite evolution’s emphasis on the inheritance and replication of advantageous traits, a man walks among us today who sweats profusely in any temperature and went to see Anger Management in theaters twice.”
From the Onion.