Month: June 2015

Faith and Science, Mutually Incompatible??

The claim that science and faith are antithetical to each other or that they are mutually incompatible is being questioned by some eminent scholars who insist that it requires faith to do science. Professor John Lennox, Oxford mathematician, claims that “All scientists presuppose and therefore have faith in the rational intelligibility of the universe.” This means that any scientist working with a theory or hypothesis must have a measure of faith that his or her project will ultimately succeed. Assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cullen Buie, points to the quest for the Higgs Boson by Peter Higgs and his associates that spanned 50 years as evidence of faith in the discipline of science. For half a century these individuals hunted for the Higgs boson of the standard model and in March 2013 it was officially confirmed that it exists. Their faith in something hoped for kept them going until it became a reality at a staggering cost of $10 billion.
Professor Lennox insists that he is very much comfortable in his faith in God because it is not opposed to science. In fact, he says that one of the reasons he believes in God is precisely because we can do science. “The mathematical intelligibility of the universe is evidence for a rational spirit behind the universe,” he says.
The age-old argument by renowned atheists such as Professor Richard Dawkins and others of his ilk, which claims that human beings are merely animated matter or products of mindless, unguided processes has cast a dark shadow of doubt over the reliability of human cognitive faculties, and indeed on the rationality of their assertions including their claim that faith and science cannot co-exist. All methodologies applied by researchers in their efforts to try and understand our universe more start with some hidden assumptions that they believe in but need to be proved. As such, they require faith to sustain them in their endeavors. Some of the most luminous minds such as Max Planck, founder of quantum theory, and Francis Collins who led the human Genome project and many others have relied on “faith to advance the frontiers of science.”
In conclusion, apparently every person in the world engages a measure of faith. Probably the question we should be asking is “in what or whom is this faith anchored?”

God and the Enigma of Evil

One of the reasons non-believers give for their unbelief in God is the presence and proliferation of evil in the world. They view evil as a blight against the claims of the Christians about the goodness of their God. Very often the question advanced is: “How can there be a good God when there is so much evil in the world?” This question is veiled with a multitude of assumptions and presumptions within itself. But it becomes mind-boggling when it is asked by people who believe that human beings are a product of a mindless, unguided natural process living in a universe that has “no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good…” and that they merely “dance to the music” of their DNA. [1] In such a closed system of mindlessness with an existence that is devoid of cognitive functions, who can qualify to recognize evil, let alone to ask questions about it?
But even theists and Christians struggle with the question of evil. It is an enigma that is hard to deal with because we do not have all the answers about it yet. But we can know something about it by studying and drawing inferences from what Scriptures say.
What indeed is evil? Evil is good gone bad. It is the corruption of that which was originally good. Evil cannot exist alone. Thomas Aquinas argues that God created everything, but evil is not a tangible thing that can exist on its own as a stand-alone entity. This is not say that evil is unreal. Rather, it is to say that evil has the potential to exist in a parasitic nature in some substance that is good: “evil signifies nothing else than ‘privation of perfect being.’” [2]. When we speak of moral evil, we are talking about a relationship between human beings that has been corrupted.
God created perfect human beings. But he created them with a freewill. They were created with the capacity to love and obey God or to reject and disobey him. God did not create robots who mechanically obey him. C.S. Lewis aptly observed that God took the risk of endowing the creatures he created with a freewill because coerced love and obedience are meaningless to him. God put his image in the creatures in whom he also deposited the power to choose either to do good or to do evil. No single human being can appreciate a robot manufactured and programed to say “I love you” every 2 hours! If someone did that, they would merely be telling themselves they love themselves which smacks of narcissism. Nothing is so gratifying and heartwarming than to be the object of free, warm and uncoerced love.
But why can’t God just stop evil in the world? The only way God can stop evil in this world is to take away from mankind the freewill he gave us; to take away the capacity to choose to love him and all he stands for or to choose to reject him and all he stands for. He would have to go back on his word of creating people with freewill and make them into some form of puppets.
For those who argue that God could have done a better job at creating this world, here is what Lewis says (and I agree with him, totally): “Of course God knew what would happen if [human beings] used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk. Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty in disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on. If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will-that is, for making a live world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings-then we may take it that it is worth paying.”[3]

Resources
[1] Richard Dawkins, Out of Eden, pp. 133.
[2] Compendium theologiae 114, 125-126; In Bill Kin (2002). Thomas Aquinas on the Metaphysical Problem of Evil. Quodlibet Journal, 4, (2-3). ISSN: 1526-6575
[3] Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 52-53

Quiet Your Mind.

Treadmill of Life

Tony A. Smith

Treadmill of Life

It started way back when.

When I moved out on my own and started my own life away from my parents.

The world showed me this thing and said “Here, hop on and just start walking.”

As you go along you’ll learn it has different speeds.

You don’t get to choose them though, because you see; they choose you.

Sometimes you’ll have to run fast.

Sometimes you’ll have to run slow.

Sometimes you’ll get to just jog.

Keep moving, and placing one foot in front of the other; and one day this road will end.

I asked if this thing had a power switch to turn it off and they told me that it didn’t need one. 

They said it was powered by Got-to. “Got-to I asked?”  “Yes”, they said – “Got-to keep moving which is produced by the creator.” “Only the creator of this thing knows when the road…

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Written On The Heart

At the end of World War II in 1945, judges were appointed from the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and France to form an international court of judges to bring to trial Nazi leaders accused of committing war crimes, crimes against world peace, and crimes against humanity. The evidence that was presented was in the form of films and photographs of the victims of the atrocities.
The United States government under President Harry S. Truman appointed Assistant Justice Robert H. Jackson to function as Chief Prosecutor at the trails held in Nuremberg. Justice Jackson also participated in establishing an International Military Tribunal to try the individuals accused of these crimes. The 24 Nazi leaders were indicted on October 18, 1945.
In defending themselves, the officers insisted that whatever they did was in obedience to the commands and laws of their government. Their defense was founded on the model of positive law, which posits that the only binding laws for humanity are the laws that are enacted by human governments; laws that reflect and address the needs of the citizenry. Positive law is different from the Moral Law of God which is universal and transcends laws of human governments. According to positive law, some actions may be deemed legal although they might be perceived to be morally wrong. The German defendants insisted that they had done no wrong since they were merely obeying laws that resonated with their constitution or political ideological manifesto, Mein Kampf, at the time. What they did, they said, was for the good of the German people, according to their law then. As such, they had acted in a legal manner. Of course, their laws were a reflection of Darwin’s theory of macroevolution and survival of the fittest, which advocates that individuals whose phenotype adapts most to the environment are the ones more likely to survive the rigors of nature. According to positive law, a sovereign nation does not have to answer to other countries’ legal standards.
Without appealing to a standard of justice that is outside of our world, Justice Jackson and his associates seemed to have no case against the German officers; as far as positive law was concerned. But Jackson was wise enough to appeal “to objective and universal natural law with respect to personal moral accountability. This appeal not only linked morality to law but also placed morality prior to human legislation…Jackson was arguing for the existence of higher moral laws that transcend governments.” [1]
The International community was outraged by what had happened in Nazi Germany because it was morally wrong although the German government at the time thought it was legal under their constitution. As such, it was necessary for the tribunal to convict the individuals who had committed heinous acts against innocent human beings and punish them.
Similarly, people such as William Wilberforce and scores of others fought the scourge of slavery because it was morally repugnant although some governments had legalized it. Other moral violations such as ethnic cleansing have been met with international outrage wherever they have surfaced because they were morally reprehensible, even if they might have been legalized by functioning governments at the time.
Therefore, we can conclude that the Moral Law continues to be transcendent over positive law, and is still written on our hearts. That is why we object to unconscionable activities against other people, because we all have intrinsic value-we bear the Imago Dei.

Source
[1] Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino (2001). Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith. Bethany House Publishers. Bloomington, Minnesota. pp. 222

Do not ever judge by appearances; a rich heart may be under a poor coat.

Are Christians Afraid of Science?

The stereotype that Christians are anti-science is becoming puzzlingly pervasive. Actually most luminous scientists over the years have been theists and Christians. Many early scientists of the 16th and 17th centuries believed in God. They saw no conflict between their belief in God and their scientific work. These include Nicholas Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, Johannes Kepler, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, Gregor Mendel, to mention a few.
Modern day scientists who are Christians include Francis Collins, the physician-geneticist who was a leader of the Human Genome Project before becoming Director of the National Institutes of Health. We also have Kenneth R. Miller, cell biologist and molecular biologist who is also professor of Biology and Royce Family Professor for Teaching Excellence at Brown University; William D. Phillips, a Nobel Laureate in Physics who said this about believing in God: “ I believe in God. In fact, I believe in a personal God, who acts in and interacts with the creation. I believe that the observations about the orderliness of the physical universe, and the apparently exceptional fine-tuning of the conditions of the universe for the development of life suggest that an intelligent Creator is responsible…I believe in God because of a personal faith, a faith that is consistent with what I know about science.”[1]
Max Planck, another Nobel Laureate in Physics remarked in his lecture that “Both religion and science need for their activities the belief in God, and moreover, God stands for the former in the beginning, and for the latter at the end of the whole thinking. For the former, God represents the basis, for the latter, the crown of any reasoning concerning the world-view.”[2]
Charles Townes is another Nobel Laureate in Physics. When asked the question: “What do you think about the existence of God?” Professor Townes responded: I strongly believe in the existence of God, based on intuition, observations, logic and also scientific knowledge.”[3]
Dr. John Lennox is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford, and is an Adjunct Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Furthermore, he is a Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum. Additionally, he teaches for the Oxford Strategic Leadership Program at the Executive Education Centre…. Professor Lennox is an avowed Christian apologist.
Yet another Nobel Laureate in Physics, Arthur Schawlow, said the following about believing in God: “I find a need for God in the universe and in my own life.”[4]
The list of Christian scientists and scholars of stellar intellectual ability goes on and on…
Christians are not anti-science nor are they afraid of science. How can they when they are actively involved in scientific research and investigation, and are contributing significantly to knowledge as much as their non-Christian counterparts? Their view of science is that it reveals how God structured the universe and the laws that govern it. Science unveils the wonders of the universe and the glory of its Creator. As such, science is a mere tool for beholding the universe and the power of God, which leads us to a deeper worship of this awesome God. Novel scientific discoveries witness to the Creator God.
The problem, therefore, for Christians is not science. The problem is scientism, which is the excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge. It is the view that science is the most authoritative worldview, eclipsing any other worldview, and that those who disagree with some of its tenets are intellectually deficient. Christians are opposed to “the wrong-headed belief that modern science supplies the only reliable method of knowledge about the world, and its corollary that scientists should be the ones to dictate public policy and even our moral and religious beliefs simply because of their scientific expertise.”[5]
If science reveals God’s handiwork, why would Christians fear it?
“…Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3: 14, 15, ESV).

Sources
[1] William D. Phillips, “A Letter to the Compiler T. Dimitrov. May 19, 2002. Accessed from http://www.atheistsexposed.tripod.com/nobelistsgod.htm

[2] Max Planck, “Religion and Naturwissenschaft, Leipzig. Johann Ambrosius Barth Verlag, 1958, pp. 27

[3] Charles H. Townes. 2002. A Letter to the Compiler T. Dimitrov. Accessed from http://www.atheistsexposed.tripod.com/nobelistsgod.htm

[4] Accessed from http://www.atheistsexposed.tripod.com/nobelistsgod.htm

5 John West in Christian Post Reporter by Napp Nazworth. 2014. Accessed from http://www.atheistsexposed.tripod.com/nobelistsgod.htm