If you are an atheist there is a question that you need to be able to answer. It’s not a huge question, but it does persist: if religion is all a sham, the product of ignorance, superstition and non-scientific rigor and has no basis whatsoever in reality (I think the claim goes something like that), where did it come from? Religion is after all not a minor feature on the human landscape. It’s not like wondering why some people like to dip their fries in their milkshake or why others like rap music. This is huge. The vast majority of human beings have been and are today “religtious” at least in the sense that they are either adherents of a particular religion or believe there is “something out” there. So if this is all bunk, where did it come from? Speaking in the frame of reference of atheism the question is actually more specific: how did a race that is apparently so successful at evolving through adaptation end up believing so much in such pure nonsense? Shouldn’t evolution have dealt with the situation by now? After all, we are wearing clothing at this point. Continue reading
Tonight the fog is as thick as it gets here in the Northwest. Driving up to Regent College to hear Iain Provan talk about his new book, Convenient Myths: The Axial Age, Dark Green Religion and the World That Never Was, I felt like I was on a new road, not on that well-trod path I have been plying for the last 20 years or so between Belling ham and Vancouver BC. On the way back it was so thick that I seriously did not know where I was until I came upon a familiar landmark like the Massey tunnel or the border crossing. It was just indistinct freeway floating in the thickly padded darkness, and little red lights up in front keeping pace with me. Continue reading
I used to give no heed to who I was talking to or sitting by or associating with in social gatherings. I would walk into a room and I wouldn’t say to myself “Let’s see… who should I sit by or talk to in order to make the most of this occasion?” or “Who should I avoid sitting by because it might make the night wear on?” Back then I just figured that whomever I landed next to was my friend and whether they were fun or interesting or good listeners was not really a consideration.
But over the years I realized that when you don’t takes steps to maneuver these social situations you can become somewhat marginalized. There are always people who are on the edge of a given social gathering. Say, for example, at the milling around time after church. This category of people stretches all the way from people who in some intangible way communicate “I’m not like you” to what I will call, if you allow me, “weirdos”. I’ll leave it up to your fertile imagination and past history to fill in the meaning of that word. Continue reading
At break time at my talk on atheism I’m talking with a friend and I have brilliant revelation: what do the New Atheists and the Young Calvinists have in common?
Let’s back up a bit. The New Atheists have been around for some 10 years under the leadership of Richard Dawkins and other very eloquent smart guys. This is a much more aggressive atheism than the “kinder, gentler” God-deniers of the 20th Century. These guys are in your face about religion. It’s ridiculous, it’s ignorant, it’s unscientific. God cannot be proven scientifically, so that’s the end of the story. They are fed up and they aren’t going to put up with it any more. Mind over superstition. The new atheists are often smart young people who, calling themselves “brights,” don’t seem to be in the least bit embarrassed about relying on their minds to make sense of the world. Continue reading
When Jesus walked on the water, it says that he was about to pass by his disciples, who were rowing in a storm. This makes me wonder what Jesus was up to. Would he have just kept going if they hadn’t called out to him?
This video wraps up my thoughts on a Christian view of Old Testament laws. By way of summary here is what I said:
Christians view Old Testament laws through the New Testament, and in there the laws of Moses are qualified in various ways:
- The ceremonial laws (having to to with sacrifices and temple ordinances) are seen as fulfilled in the death of Jesus. See the book of Hebrews, chapter 10:8-10 for this.
- Cleanliness laws related to impurity or unclean food are set aside by Jesus (Mark 7:19). Peter’s vision in Acts 10 is also important. God shows him unclean animals to eat and then says, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (10:15)
- Another set of laws in the Mosaic code governed Jewish society and established fairness and justice. These laws are affirmed in principle in the New Testament, but not necessarily in all their details. Both Jesus (Matthew 22:34-40) and Paul (Romans 13:8-10) say that the laws of the OT are summarized by loving God and neighbor.
Weighing in on an issue that many Christians struggle to understand. Not only Christians, but people who are not Christians might not get why people who believe in the Bible don’t follow all the rules and laws it lays down.
The problem of hypocrisy, consistency and holiness.
Is it really so bad to take this verse “out of context”?