Theblogogy - The Blog of Theology and Questions

The Blog of Theology and Questions

Monday, December 29, 2014

Nudity and Related Vices

Nudity wouldn't be a problem in a world without pride or lust.

Bodies, as one of my art friends says often, are just bodies. She's absolutely right. It would be great if we lived in a world without lust. When we lust, we choose to make a body into a sexual object.

But there's another side to this. The "flaunt it if you got it" mentality turns our own body into an object we can wield for our own purposes. This expression of pride runs counter to the respect that modesty demands.

And that's what this is about, right? Love and respect for ourselves and for other people.

So put some clothes, dress nice, and let's keep learning together.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Theism Spectrum

There are three major sections of the theism spectrum: Pantheism (many gods), Monotheism (one God), and Atheism (no god).

As we've already chatted about, Philosophical Naturalists deny any kind of supernatural and so are atheists. Agnostics, however, question anyone's ability to know if there is or is not a God, and so live somewhere between atheism and theism. The major monotheistic religions are Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Mormons, with their doctrine of eternal progression, straddle the line between mono- and pantheism. Hinduism is a pantheistic religion. Above this continuum is Spiritualism, which may or may not have a god of any kind (making it atheistic); Buddhism and Animism can both be categorized here.

With so many options available to us, there is much to discuss. Let's learn more, together.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Are Catholics Christian?

This question -- first asked me while teaching Sunday School -- is ironic from an historical perspective because Protestants were the ones who broke from the Universal Catholic Church.

But as a Protestant, I believe I am a Christian and Catholics are absolutely Christians as well. The tensions (even bloodshed) between these two groups have largely been politically motivated. The doctrinal differences are fascinating, and I'm sure we'll talk about the more. For the time being, it is important to recognize the deeper question:

What is Orthodoxy? What does it mean to be a Christian?

Once we tackle that question, we'll be able to apply the answer to various sects, denominations, cults, and religions.

Another question, closely tied to this, is: What does it take to be saved? That one, I know, is controversial [smile].

For now, thanks for watching. Please leave your thoughts, comments, questions. Let's learn more, together!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Why Does Science Ignore God?

Science ignores God because it has to.

Science studies the natural world. Anything supernatural is beyond its scope. God is, literally, beyond science.

It used to bother me that scientists were looking for the natural mechanism for life to start (also called "Abiogenesis"). Once I realized that science does this because it must -- it only deals in the natural world; a supernatural explanation doesn't fit. Science, to keep being as amazing it is, must stay focused on the natural.

Eugenie Scott makes the excellent point that naturalism -- which is science -- is different from philosophical naturalism, which is not. Philosophical naturalism says that there is no God, there is nothing beyond the physical universe. And that could be true, but such is a claim of philosophy, not science.

Because science is limited to the natural world, there will never be scientific proof for God.

Does that mean science can't study religion? Not exactly. Science can study people and their experiences but -- as always -- the answers are going to be merely descriptive. This happens when.

Chesterton makes the point, then, that science keeps bumping into magic. Why does a seed grow and become a tree? Ultimately, the answer is indistinguishable from magic, even if we can tell you every step of the trick.

Do you have anything to add to this discussion? Let's learn more, together!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Beginning of God

Where did God come from? The answer: He's always existed.

This certainly feels like a cop-out answer but it's not.

One of the difficulties in talking about time is that our language is permeated with time signatures. Past, present, and future tense give words a sense of history. So the answer "God has always existed" includes the past tense "has" which begs the question: When did that start? It's slightly better to say "God exists" ... or "I AM" ... or "He is, and was, and is to come."

But time is a fascinating thing in itself, manipulated by travel and gravity; ultimately, however, it is a human measurement of change. If we conceive of a reality with no change, none whatsoever, there would be no time. Since God does not change, He would be outside of time. Creation was the start of time with the introduction of change.

Even so, all that seems to be ignoring the question. But the question applies equally to a naturalistic view of the world as well: Where did all this stuff -- matter/energy -- come from? Given a starting point, we can see how history unfolds. From what I've gathered, if we had an infinite timeline going in both directions, it would be impossible to get to today (I don't fully understand the argument, but it sounds fascinating). So we must turn the eternal line in on itself, forming a circle -- the cyclical view of history. There have been a few cultures who hold to this circular view of time; several years ago, for example, the Mayan calendar was said to predict the end of the world, when, in reality, it just reached the end and started over. Our own calendar is like this too, rolling to January 1st in the new year.

Still, an infinite universe could easily be the answer, perpetually expanding, collapsing, exploding again and again.

The question for me, however, is which makes more sense: An unchanging, eternal God outside of time; or an eternal, constantly in flux universe?

Questions? Comments? Insights? Please share. Let's learn more, together!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Define Evolution

Evolution is a hotly debated topic, especially when it comes to science vs. religion. One of the biggest contributors to this conflict is a lack of clear definitions. Once you ensure both parties are on the same page, there is a remarkable amount of agreement. Once we understand this, we can have far more positive and meaningful discussion about this important and powerful topic. What's more? Everyone can walk away encouraged to learn more and speak more kindly of the other!

The three basic definitions of "evolution" we explore in this video are:
  1. Abiogenesis - the study of how life came from non-life.
  2. Common Descent - the study of how all life came from a single life.
  3. Descent with Modification - the study of how living things change over time.

There is no scientific backing for abiogenesis. The oft-cited -- and included in textbooks -- Miller-Urey Experiment fails because of chirality. We can talk about this more in the future, but the scientific community's insistence on abiogenesis/biopoiesis is a philosophical one; important, to be sure, but philosophy, not science. There are people who are working on this, but they have yet to come up with anything. About a year ago I got to talk to some really smart people who suggested that bubbles were the mechanism by which this kind of thing could occur. Fascinating, yes, but there is more work to be done.

The science behind common-descent is actually there, but like many things in science, the interpretation of the information/facts is still up for discussion. Basically, it boils down to a question of life as a tree or an orchard. The tree of life is what you see in most textbooks, showing the splaying branches of each species' break from another. Other scientists point out that instead of a single tree, the evidence points to multiple trees, an orchard. This is absolutely something we all could learn more about as it is a fascinating and important field of research.

Everyone agrees with descent with modification. This is scientific fact and fits with any view of the world you embrace. In fact, Young Earth Creationists rely heavily on descent with modification given that God sent two of each "kind" of animal into the Ark from which all the various breeds of animals we find today spring.

Next time you find yourself discussing evolution, make sure you and the person you are talking to understand which part of evolution is on the table. Abiogenesis? Common descent? Descent with modification? Some other part of evolution? Clearing that up will enable you and your friend to have a much more productive conversation.

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Let's learn more, together!