Posts tagged ‘Huffington Post’

February 14th, 2013

Max Tegmark on Religion and Science

by Max Andrews

The bulk of my graduate research is focused on the work and thought of Max Tegmark, an MIT astrophysicist/cosmologist, who’s responsible for a tremendous contribution to multiverse models. In honor of Charles Darwin’s 204th birthday he did an article for the Huffington Post, “Celebrating Darwin: Religion and Science are Closer Than You Think.” There are some very interesting survey results regarding faith and conflict between evolution and big bang cosmology.

So is there a conflict between science and religion? The religious organizations representing most Americans clearly don’t think so. Interestingly, the science organizations representing most American scientists don’t think so either: For example, the American Association for the Advancement of Science states that science and religion “live together quite comfortably, including in the minds of many scientists.” This shows that the main divide in the U.S. origins debate isn’t between science and religion, but between a small fundamentalist minority and mainstream religious communities who embrace science.

September 20th, 2012

Hellbound? A New Movie Challenges the Doctrine of Hell

by Max Andrews

This photo provided by Kevin Miller XI Productions Inc. shows exorcist Bob Larson, left, at work in a scene from the film “Hellbound?”. The documentary, which premiered last week in Nashville and opens Friday in New York, digs deeper into the modern Christian theological debate over hell and who’s going there. (AP Photo/Kevin Miller XI Productions Inc., via Huffington Post)

Here’s an excerpt from Travis Loller at the Huffington Post.

How can a loving God send people, even bad people, to a place of eternal torment? A new documentary struggles with questions of punishment and redemption and how culture affects and shapes Christian beliefs about God and the Bible.

Coming in the wake of controversy over Rob Bell’s 2011 hell-questioning book “Love Wins,” which put hell on the cover of Time magazine, and treading some of the same ground, filmmaker Kevin Miller believes the debate about the nature of hell is not academic.

In an interview after a Nashville screening of “Hellbound?” Miller said he believes our ideas about hell have a real-world effect on the way we live our lives and the way we relate to others.

Perhaps popular theologian Brian McLaren best expresses that thought in the movie when he says, “If I believe that a small percentage of human beings were created to enjoy bliss eternally and another group of beings were created to experience eternal conscious torment, then I look at human beings differently than if I say, `Every human being was made in the image of God. Every human being is beloved by God. God is at work to save every human being.'”

June 21st, 2011

Christian Faith Requires Accepting Evolution? Not So Fast Huffington Post…

by Max Andrews

Recently, an article was published in the Religion section of the popular online news agency The Huffington Post.  I don’t know much about the author, Jonathan Dudley, but according to him he has graduated from seminary and is currently studying to be a medical scientist.  That’s excellent!  However, I’m not too convinced that his article is all too accurate.  In fact, it’s wrong.

I don’t want to push off the article all together because there are certainly many good points made.  For instance,

In theory, if not always in practice, past Christian theologians valued science out of the belief that God created the world scientists study. Augustine castigated those who made the Bible teach bad science, John Calvin argued that Genesis reflects a commoner’s view of the physical world, and the Belgic confession likened scripture and nature to two books written by the same author.

These beliefs encouraged past Christians to accept the best science of their day, and these beliefs persisted even into the evangelical tradition. As Princeton Seminary’s Charles Hodge, widely considered the father of modern evangelical theology, put it in 1859: “Nature is as truly a revelation of God as the Bible; and we only interpret the Word of God by the Word of God when we interpret the Bible by science.”

My quarrel with Dudley’s article is that his logic seems to be a bit off.  If by “requiring” acceptance of evolution for the Christian he means that it necessarily entails the acceptance of evolution then he has missed the gospel message.  There’s a difference between having sound Christian theology and philosophy and what it means to have Christian faith.  Here’s the logic.

Necessarily, Christian faith entails the acceptance of evolution.

This doesn’t make sense at all.  He also equates this as orthodoxy!  Here are a few examples of what having Christian faith necessarily entails.

Necessarily, Christian faith entails the belief in the existence of God.

Necessarily, Christian faith entails the belief that Jesus was fully human and fully God and died as a propitiation for your sin.

These are examples of the gospel message, what it means to be a Christian.  Consider one’s theology as a web.  In the center of the web is the gospel message.  The next ring is orthodoxy, the acceptance of the inerrancy of Scripture, the second coming of Christ, the existence of a hell, etc.  Then there are peripheral manners and doctrines such as how sign gifts function today, how ordinances and sacraments are to be observed, etc.  One’s science, in this case, how one views evolution, is peripheral to being a Christian.  I agree with Dudley, a Christian should have sound theology and philosophy, which will shape how one applies theory in approaching the scientific data.  However, the scientific aspect of theology and philosophy is not the gospel message and it is not a manner of orthodoxy.  Dudley then proceeds to list several examples of creationism inability to account for specific scientific data, which I am not going to comment on (my credentials are in philosophy and theology).  However, I’d encourage him to be aware of one hand clapping.

I myself am not a creationist.  I believe [this] universe is about 13.7 billion years old.  I do advocate intelligent design, which is completely compatible with common descent evolution.  My only objection is with Darwinian evolution.  I appreciate what Dudley has attempted to do.  He has attempted to present Christianity in the light of responsible intellectual existence.  I hope he continues in doing so; however, he must do so by properly making the distinction between what requires Christian faith and applying sound theology and philosophy to science.