bible christianity philosophy theology

good creator

The world is a dance in which good, descending from God, is disturbed by evil arising from the creatures, and the resulting conflict is resolved by God’s own assumption of the suffering nature which evil produces.  C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 72

Evil as the absence of Good is a suitable description, but better to say, with Lewis, that Evil is a disturbance of Good.  The surgeon’s scalpel used to murder, etc.  Evil as the fault of humans is a suitable analysis, but better to use the more general term ‘creation’, so as to include non-human agency as well.  Christian faith (like Lewis – i.e. Screwtape Letters) avoids both extremes of either disbelief in evil spirits or obsession with them.

But for theodicy, the salient point is that God is not the author of evil.  God, however, as both Creator and Redeemer, is ‘responsible’ for both a) the creation of the world, which was always going to spoil itself, and b) the redemption of the world, which was always going to require the unspoiled Creator to unite to (and thus ‘drag up’ with him) the spoiled creation.

bible christianity philosophy science theology

a finished beginning?

In addition to believing that the universe was created 6,000 years old, many Christians assume that it began in a ‘perfect’ state.  I’ve 3 main problems, scientific, biblical/theological & linguistic, with this view:

Scientifically, I can imagine some form of string theory or multiverse theory being interpreted or mis-interpreted in such a way that the ‘first stuff’ from which everything we know ‘came from’ was somehow ‘perfect’.  But in addition to being devoid of any observational evidence (says the likes of Paul Davies), I’m not even sure what physical characteristics would be required for a ‘perfect’ universe.  But suffice to say that nothing we yet see seems to be even close – by anyone’s standards or definitions of ‘perfect’.

Biblically and theologically, not only do the creation narratives use the term ‘good’ rather than ‘perfect’ to describe the creation, in addition, the very first description of the state of creation, quite clearly in the second verse of the Bible, is tohu va vohu (‘formless and void’).  God here is not pictured as a deistic god whose creative activity touches creation singularly and solely at it’s first instant, then leaving it ‘on its own’ as it were.  Rather, the picture is of a Creator who not only initially creates (creatio ex nihilo or creatio originalis) a creation that is other than and distinct from himself, but who creates a creation which is not yet what it will be.  The Creator thus keeps on creating (creatio continua) and ordering the creation – bringing it toward the final goal, end or telos , which in Christian theology is nothing but a full renewal, and healing of it: New Creation (creatio nova).  As Wesley writes of Genesis 1:2, “The Creator could have made his work perfect at first, but by this gradual proceeding he would shew what is ordinarily the method of his providence, and grace.”

Linguistically, in just about any language you slice it, the term ‘perfect’ inescapably describes the state of being finished, completed or perfected.  It seems (contra Wesley above) a flat contradiction that we could (or indeed that God would) call any thing finished at its beginning.

art christianity science

the mighty chorus

Just making preparations for song-leading at Carey graduation, and spotted this gem of a line, which opens the fourth verse of Henry van Dyke’s hymn (to the tune of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Hymn to Joy), Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee:

Mortals join the mighty chorus, which the morning stars began…

I love the thought of all of the vast ages upon ages of ‘chorusing’ that the stars have sounded.  And that we humble and small and relatively quiet humans get to ‘join’ (not lead!!) it.

bible theology

creation & redemption

Genesis & Exodus | Creation & Redemption.

Gospel of Jesus | New Genesis & New Exodus >>> New Creation & New Redemption.

bible philosophy science theology

patient haste

Six days to create heaven and earth? What took so long, God?

13.73 billiion years of creative work? Aren’t we being a bit hasty?

Day, thousand years and all that…

christianity ethics science theology

a rocha

It was great to hear Richard Storey share at ‘after dinner mints’ at Carey Tuesday lunch yesterday. “Richard is a freshwater biologist for the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). He spent two years with A Rocha in Lebanon and now chairs the board of A Rocha NZ. This Christian organisation is focused on science, research, practical conservation and environmental education.” (from Carey website)

Not only was it refreshing to hear a thoughtful, patient, pro-science Christian who is applying their faith to all of life, but I was particularly impressed to learn of an upcoming climate-change conference being planned. So often, the ‘sides’ tar and feather each other, never really patiently engaging with each other (certainly the blogosphere is overflowing with such politicised ranting – on both sides), but it was wonderful to hear that a conference is in the works which (apparently) will be inclusive of and patient enough to dialogue with even people like Ian Wishart (author of ‘Con Air’). It is this spirit of patient dialogue, taking the time to hear one another that will help make any progress. It avoids making the mistake of not taking the other person seriously enough to actually engage with them.

bible christianity science theology

pre-fall death

On the 5th day, God filled the skies and seas with all kinds of sky-life (‘every sort of winged bird’) and sea-life (‘swarms of living creatures’).  Everything that flies through the sky.  Everything that lives in the sea.  A few points:

philosophy science

uncreated thing

Those who hold that all things (the universe/multiverse/whatever) began to exist and were created (by an ultimate Creator or First/bottom Cause), and those who hold that all things (the universe/multiverse/whatever) ‘have always existed in some form/state’ agree on (at least) one point…

…namely that there is indeed an uncreated ‘thing’ which cannot be questioned, caused, created, ‘got behind’, etc.

The former call this uncreated ‘thing’ God – and the latter call it Nature.

christianity philosophy science

‘big question’ essays

Cheers to Bryson for directing me to an essay, which I discovered was one over several over at The John Templeton Foundation.

The essays are comprised answers to ‘big questions’ from a variety of perspectives – theist, atheist and agnostic.  They make for interesting reading whatever your beliefs are.

Two of the ‘big questions‘ essays were of particular interest to me: “Does the Universe Have a Purpose?” and “Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?“.

Some other bits which may be of interest to some readers include:

  • Does Evolution Explain Human Nature?
  • Debates between contributers to the Science/Belief essay (Christopher Hitchens v. Ken Miller; Jerome Groopman v. Michael Shermer; and Steven Pinker v. William D. Phillips).
  • A Brief interview with (physicist/cosmologist) Paul Davies concerning multiverse theory
  • assorted video content (look for it) :)
bible christianity science theology

mixed responses

The Christian response to the ‘Faithful Science’ day-conference have been mixed.

Most of the appreciative and complementary feedback has been email or verbal.  As for the less-appreciative feedback, unfortunately it’s been more public.

First, the Christian newspaper “Challenge Weekly” published a (to say it kindly) selective and less-than-inaccurate piece entitled “Conference fuels Controversy” (which can be viewed here – scroll down about half way), which, among other things, made the bizarre and out-of-left-field claim that some of the presenters held views more like Deism (which was anything but the case).

Predictably, the “letters to the editor” section in subsequent issues have been spotted with a handful of  readers who were concerned/shocked by the conference.  And, also not a surprise, a fresh write-up by CMI (Creation Ministries International) was subsequently published (here), entitled “Genesis not a Myth”, warning against a roadway to “spiritual disaster”.

The CMI article is also up here at their own website in very similar format, though more specifically targeting the Faithful Science conference.

I’ve offerred a couple of responses to Challenge, hoping to a) correct factual errors, b) help to clarify relevant issues, and c) challenge (no pun intended) readers to be more patient, and not assume what “those christian evolutionists” actually believe.  Also, I’ve responsed to the CMI article and am hoping for some positive interaction there.

Also, I’ve had some dialogue (which is absolutely exemplary in terms of tone, patience, etc.) with an I.D. advocate who is a member of my church and attended the conference.

Here’s to (hopefully!) fruitful dialogue and interaction in the next… however long.  :)