Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Has Science disproved God?

As part of a series on apologetic teaching at church we, this week, looked at the question of whether science has disproved God, courtesy of Tim Wears. Whether the study of science is incompatible with a belief in a God and leads to the view that religion is divisive leading to oppression and violence.

One of the topics I’d like to highlight was that of the different types of Naturalism. In fact there are two distinct types of naturalism: Scientific naturalism and metaphysical naturalism. There is an important distinction between the two and one does not necessarily logically lead to the other. Methodological (scientific) naturalism concerns knowledge and how to get trustworthy knowledge of the natural world. Any hypothesis has to be explained and tested only by reference to natural causes and events; this is the proper way to do science. Whilst Metaphysical (philosophical) naturalism is a world view concerning existence, what exist and what doesn’t. It states that there is nothing beyond nature, that nature is everything.

It is important to note here that a belief in metaphysical naturalism is exactly that, a belief, a philosophical position that can not be proved. A presupposition rather than a conclusion and it is a world view which by definition has no room for God in it. So to say that scientific endeavour has in someway disproved God is meaningless as it either can’t say anything about God or already assumes that there isn’t one. Many scientists would agree with this, for instance Steven Jay Gould, an eminent evolutionary biologists and atheist, said

“To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth million time: science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God’s possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can’t comment on it as scientists.” 1

This was just one of the points that was made by Tim, and in a far more elegant way than I could possibly manage. I would highly recommend listening to entire talk which you can find here, it starts about 5 minutes in. As part of the talk we watched a clip of Alistair McGrath on the ethics and morality of religion. This has been omitted from the recording (approx 39 minutes in) and can be found here. I hope that you find it as interesting as I did.

1. "Impeaching a Self-Appointed Judge" (Review of Philip E. Johnston, Darwin on Trial), Scientific American (July 1992): 119. (c)1992, Scientific American

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Unity and Evangalism

Last weekend, I went on a weekend away with the Christian Union. It was an amazing time of fellowship and a great opportunity to get to know one another better. Along with the compulsory games we also had some really good teaching courtesy of John and Nay Dawson on the topics of Unity and Evangelism.

We learnt about the importance of unity. The fact that it is essential to God’s plan:

“I pray also for those who will believe in me…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…. I in them and you in me-so that they may be brought to complete unity.” Jhn 17:20-21a, 23a

It is Jesus’ desire that we as a church would be ‘brought to complete unity’. However this unity is not at the sake of all else, for instance in John 17:17 we read ‘Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.’ So this is more fundamental than unity; we must be unified in the truth.

So we can not give up the important things for the sake of unity, but there are some things that are not as important as unity and we should sacrifice them for each other, for instance in 1 Corinthians Paul, talking about food sacrificed to idols, says

“Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” 1 Cor 8:13

after he had appealed for unity:

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Cor 1:10

However, reiterating the point that not everything can be given up for the sake of unity, Paul carries on in 1 Cor 15 to state the Gospel, declaring that

“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” 1 Cor 15:2

So we should be unified, but that unity should be in the Gospel. But what is the reason why we should be unified? The reason is found in the first passage from John that we looked at.

“so that the world may believe that you have sent me…..Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Jhn 17:21,23

The reason to be united is to proclaim God’s love, in essence the point of unity is to evangelise. Likewise evangelism doesn’t fully make sense without unity.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Friends: A poem

Sitting silently,
No need to talk.
Pleasant company,
in silence wrought.

Friendship needs
no words to tell.
Of the feelings,
that inward dwell.

No fear of loss
if words don't please.
No advantage gained,
nought to seize.

Deep and true
that friendship grows
if company keeps
through highs and lows.

To sit and be
with one another,
living life
to grow together.

Sitting silently,
No need to talk.
Pleasant company,
in silence wrought.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A Prayfull People?

Sometimes I forget how important prayer is. Not the fact that it is communion with God and therefore the most important thing imaginable but rather the frequency with which we should pray. At the moment I’m going through the book of Ephesians with a group of people from church. In his introduction Paul (as in many of his letters) tells of his thoughts for the recipients of the letter.

"Ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." Eph 1:15-16

Paul constantly thinks about this distant church, he constantly brings these people before God in prayer. How often do we pray about our own church, let alone the part of the church that is far off? It has certainly challenged me to be persistent in prayer not just for specific needs but also just bringing people before the Lord. We are also called to pray for the spiritual blessing of each other.

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." Eph 1:17

These blessings are obviously something that needs to be asked for not a default package that comes with salvation. This is quite a statement. God gives his gifts freely but sometimes we still have to ask for them on our own or another’s behalf. I think this gives us a responsibility for one another. Think; if we don’t pray for someone then they may not be blessed in that specific way.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Christ and the Church

I heard an 'interesting' talk the other week about the relationship between Christ and the church. The speaker was preaching that Christ and the Church are one and the same thing. His argument rested on the fact that persecuting the church is the same thing as persecuting Christ. In Acts Saul(later Paul) persecutes the church but on the road to Damascus Jesus says to him
‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' Acts 26:15

Thus, the reasoning went, for Christ to say that he was persecuted whist in reality it was the church that was persecuted must mean that Christ and the church are synonymous.

There are several things wrong with this, primarily the fact that it is simply wrong. If I for instance burnt down your place of work, killed your children and beat up your wife then, though I hadn't harmed you, you may feel that I am persecuting you, and you would be justified in that belief. Or if you were a king and I started killing your subjects because they were your subjects then I would again be persecuting you even though no physical harm befall you.

There is also the fact that the relationship between Christ and the church is made explicit elsewhere: The church is the bride of Christ (Rev 12:2) and the body of which Christ is the head (Eph 5:23, 1 Cor 12:27).

These specifically mark the differences. A bride and bridegroom are not the same thing, a head and its body are not the same thing but they are still one; intimately related. The beauty of salvation is that we are brought back into relationship with Christ, we do not become deified which we would have to be if we were actually turning into Christ. Christ and the church are distinct yet united. Does that remind you of anything? The trinity maybe? Through Christs death on the cross we too are grafted into this complex loving relationship.