Sunday, February 19, 2017
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Do homosexuals have a point when they say I was born like this? I was born with these desires. I was born with same-sex attraction. God made me like this. If what the Calvinists teaches is true with regard to total inability and meticulous determinism, then are they correct in their defense? Do they truly have that excuse? Is it true that God has ultimately determined which choices they will make and the desires that will ultimately determine their choices? And thus I'm not really responsible for my choices. I can't really resist this temptation. I can't stop being homosexual because this is the way God made me. I want to hear what a Calvinist would say in defense of that. If you believe that God is responsible for everything that happens…you can't have it both ways. If God predestined it then God is responsible.
So why not just create a bunch of people who want to worship him from the beginning and do away with all the pain and suffering and heartache and millions upon millions of people eternally burning in hell…There's no reason for the suffering unless there's true contra-causal freedom.
God unchangeably determines man's desire and circumstances so that he cannot refrain from acting out in his homosexual tendencies and desires as was ordained by God.
When you remove choice, when you remove freedom, you ultimately have God redeeming his own determinations, which certainly doesn't make any sense.
13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds…15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh (Gen (9:13-15).
the world is established; it shall never be moved (Ps 93:1).the world is established; it shall never be moved (Ps 96:10).He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved (Ps 104:5).the world is established; it shall never be moved (1 Chron 16:30).
who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble (Job 9:6).when he rises to shake the earth (Isa 2:19,21).Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry (Ps 18:7).
Friday, February 17, 2017
28 After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The native peopleshowed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. 3 When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4 When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice[b] has not allowed him to live.” 5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god (Acts 28:1-6).
Thursday, February 16, 2017
From John Lennox in his book God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (pp 52-5):
The great mathematician David Hilbert, spurred on by the singular achievements of mathematical compression, thought that the reductionist programme of mathematics could be carried out to such an extent that in the end all of mathematics could be compressed into a collection of formal statements in a finite set of symbols together with a finite set of axioms and rules of inference. It was a seductive thought with the ultimate in 'bottom-up' explanation as the glittering prize. Mathematics, if Hilbert's Programme were to succeed, would henceforth be reduced to a set of written marks that could be manipulated according to prescribed rules without any attention being paid to the applications that would give 'significance' to those marks. In particular, the truth or falsity of any given string of symbols would be decided by some general algorithmic process. The hunt was on to solve the so-called Entscheidungsproblem by finding that general decision procedure.
Experience suggested to Hilbert and others that the Entscheidungsproblem would be solved positively. But their intuition proved wrong. In 1931 the Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel published a paper entitled 'On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems'. His paper, though only twenty-five pages long, caused the mathematical equivalent of an earthquake whose reverberations are still palpable. For Gödel had actually proved that Hilbert's Programme was doomed in that it was unrealizable. In a piece of mathematics that stands as an intellectual tour-de-force of the first magnitude, Gödel demonstrated that the arithmetic with which we are all familiar is incomplete: that is, in any system that has a finite set of axioms and rules of inference and which is large enough to contain ordinary arithmetic, there are always true statements of the system that cannot be proved on the basis of that set of axioms and those rules of inference. This result is known as Gödel's First Incompleteness Theorem.
Now Hilbert's Programme also aimed to prove the essential consistency of his formulation of mathematics as a formal system. Gödel, in his Second Incompleteness Theorem, shattered that hope as well. He proved that one of the statements that cannot be proved in a sufficiently strong formal system is the consistency of the system itself. In other words, if arithmetic is consistent then that fact is one of the things that cannot be proved in the system. It is something that we can only believe on the basis of the evidence, or by appeal to higher axioms. This has been succinctly summarized by saying that if a religion is something whose foundations are based on faith, then mathematics is the only religion that can prove it is a religion!
In informal terms, as the British-born American physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson puts it, 'Gödel proved that in mathematics the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts'. Thus there is a limit to reductionism. Therefore, Peter Atkins' statement, cited earlier, that 'the only grounds for supposing that reductionism will fail are pessimism in the minds of the scientists and fear in the minds of the religious' is simply incorrect.
That there are limits for reductionism in science itself is borne out by the history of science, which teaches us that it is important to balance our justifiable enthusiasm for reductionism by bearing in mind that there may well be (and usually is) more to a given whole than simply what we obtain by adding up all that we have learned from the parts. Studying all the parts of a watch separately will not necessarily enable you to grasp how the complete watch works as an integrated whole. There is more to water than we can readily see by investigating separately the hydrogen and oxygen of which it is composed. There are many composite systems in which understanding the individual parts of the system may well be simply impossible without an understanding of the system as a whole – the living cell, for instance.
Besides methodological reductionism, there are two further important types of reductionism: epistemological and ontological. Epistemological reductionism is the view that higher level phenomena can be explained by processes at a lower level. The strong epistemological reductionist thesis is that such 'bottom-up' explanations can always be achieved without remainder. That is, chemistry can ultimately be explained by physics; biochemistry by chemistry; biology by biochemistry; psychology by biology; sociology by brain science; and theology by sociology. As the Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Francis Crick puts it: The ultimate aim of the modern development in biology is, in fact, to explain all biology in terms of physics and chemistry.'
This view is shared by Richard Dawkins. 'My task is to explain elephants, and the world of complex things, in terms of the simple things that physicists either understand, or are working on.' Leaving aside for the moment the very questionable assertion to which we must return below that the subject matter of physics is simple (think of quantum mechanics, quantum electrodynamics or string theory), the ultimate goal of such reductionism is evidently to reduce all human behaviour – our likes and dislikes, the entire mental landscape of our lives – to physics. This view is often called 'physicalism', a particularly strong form of materialism. It is not, however, a view which commends universal support, and that for very good reasons. As Karl Popper points out: 'There is almost always an unresolved residue left by even the most successful attempts at reduction.'
Scientist and philosopher Michael Polanyi helps us see why it is intrinsically implausible to expect epistemological reductionism to work in every circumstance. He asks us to think of the various levels of process involved in constructing an office building with bricks. First of all there is the process of extracting the raw materials out of which the bricks have to be made. Then there are the successively higher levels of making the bricks – they do not make themselves; brick-laying – the bricks do not 'self-assemble'; designing the building – it does not design itself; and planning the town in which the building is to be built – it does not organize itself. Each level has its own rules. The laws of physics and chemistry govern the raw material of the bricks; technology prescribes the art of brick-making; brick-layers lay the bricks as directed by the builders; architecture teaches the builders; and the architects are controlled by the town planners. Each level is controlled by the level above. But the reverse is not true. The laws of a higher level cannot be derived from the laws of a lower level – although what can be done at a higher level will, of course, depend on the lower levels. For example, if the bricks are not strong there will be a limit on the height of the building that can safely be built with them.
Or take another example, quite literally to your hand at this moment. Consider the page you are reading just now. It consists of paper imprinted with ink (or perhaps it is a series of dots on the computer screen in front of you). It is surely obvious that the physics and chemistry of ink and paper (or pixels on a computer monitor) can never, even in principle, tell you anything about the significance of the shapes of the letters on the page; and this has nothing to do with the fact that physics and chemistry are not yet sufficiently advanced to deal with this question. Even if we allow these sciences another 1,000 years of development it will make no difference, because the shapes of those letters demand a totally new and higher level of explanation than physics and chemistry are capable of giving. In fact, complete explanation can only be given in terms of the higher level concepts of language and authorship, the communication of a message by a person. The ink and paper are carriers of the message, but the message certainly does not arise automatically from them. Furthermore, when it comes to language itself, there is again a sequence of levels. You cannot derive a vocabulary from phonetics, or the grammar of a language from its vocabulary, etc.
As is well known, the genetic material DNA carries information. We shall describe this later on in some detail; but the basic idea is that DNA can be thought of as a long tape on which there is a string of letters written in a four-letter chemical language. The sequence of letters contains coded instructions (information) that the cell uses to make proteins. But the order of the sequence is not generated by the chemistry of the base letters.
In each of the situations described above, we have a series of levels, each higher than the previous one. What happens on a higher level is not completely derivable from what happens on the level beneath it. In this situation it is sometimes said that the higher level phenomena 'emerge' from the lower level. Unfortunately, however, the word 'emerge' is easily misunderstood, and even misleadingly misused, to mean that the higher level properties arise automatically from the lower level properties without any further input of information or organization – just as the higher level properties of water emerge from combining oxygen and hydrogen. However, this is clearly false in general, as we showed earlier by considering building and writing on paper. The building does not emerge from the bricks nor the writing from the paper and ink without the injection of both energy and intelligent activity.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The first two verses of al-Qamar ["The Moon"] are understood by the vast majority of commentators as a reference to a miracle performed by the Prophet. One evening, he was addressing a group of disbelievers and Muslims on the plain of Mina, just outside of Makkah. The disbelievers had been disputing with the Prophet for several days, demanding a miracle as proof of his prophethood, and they began to do so again. The Prophet then raised his hand and pointed to the moon, whereupon it appeared to separate into two halves, one on either side of the nearby Mt. Hira. He then said, "Bear witness!" (IK, T) and the line of separation disappeared. All were left speechless, but his opponents soon discredited it as an illusion produced by sorcery. According to one account, one of the disbelievers said, "Muhammad has merely bewitched us, but he cannot bewitch the entire world. Let us wait for travelers to come from faraway places and hear what reports they bring". Then, when some travelers arrived in Makkah a few days later, they confirmed that they too had witnessed the splitting of the moon (IK). "The Moon," Seyyed Hossein Nasir, ed., The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary (HarperOne, 2015), 1299.
Introduction, Why Christianity Succeeded, Constantine's Motives
Monotheism, Exclusivism, How The Christian View Of God Differed From A Jewish View
How Roman Opposition To Christianity Differed From Opposition To Other Religions, Christianity's Economic Impact
Early Christianity's Contribution To Religious Liberty
The Literary Character Of Early Christianity, Apologetics
Images, Altars, Sacrifices, Priesthood, Buildings, Baptism, Weekly Meetings, Prayer
Abortion, Infant Abandonment, Violence, Sex, Gender, Slavery
Here's an interesting footnote:
 Plaisier (Ibid., 341) cites a study of the Chinese Academy of Social Science affirming that 69% of the people converted to Christianity in the last two decades indicated the healing of a family member or themselves. See also http://www.china.org.cn/china/2010-08/12/content_20690649.htm.
The entire paper is worth reading.
HT: Steve Hays.