I have been reading David McKay's book 'The Bond of Love' which is a well written book on Covenant Theology. Two things struck me early on, On p.87 he points out that evolution has an optimistic view of man . What he means by this is that evolution doing away with sin believes that mankind will keep progressing to become more and more godlike. You actually see this in science fiction shows like Star Trek where mankind is much kinder and more noble than their ancestors. He goes on to say, 'However unpalatable Covenant Theology's view of man may be, it is the only true anthropology, since based on divine revelation.' It is biblical anthropology that points to man in the image of God (which the evolutionists have done away with) as well as man the sinner. It is this biblical understanding of our nature that is sooooo observable from outside of ourselves and from within that led me to believe in the veracity of the Bible. As Calvin says in his institutes a true knowledge of ourselves can only be found in knowing God. When we see ourselves as we truly are, we see our sin, and our need of a saviour.McKay then goes on to quote Thomas Boston 'ye are apt to think light of the sin ye were born in, and the corruption cleaving to your nature; but to know that God does not think light of these. it behoved to be an article of the covenant, that Christ should be born holy, and retain the holiness of human nature in him to the end; else the unholy birth and corrupt nature we derived from Adam, would have staked us all down eternally under the curse.' p.88
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Christianity doesn't kill scientific discovery or enquiring minds John Lennox reminded us, in fact it is the opposites, it was in the Christian west that science developed and this was no accident. C . S Lewis said "men became scientists when they came to believe in a law-giver." I recall hearing Vishal Manawaldi on the same subject a number of years ago, he pointed that in India men studied Hinduism and astrology and allowed nature to dominate their lives. In the west they studied the Bible which told them that God created the universe, therefore they studied astronomy and sought to use creation to their own advantages. Mangawaldi went on to say that is why Europeans set out to the sea, whilst his own people sat in the mud.
Lennox reminded us of Isaac Newton who didn't abandon the idea of God when he discovered gravity instead he delighted himself in the genius of the creator who was the designer of the mechanism not himself the mechanism.
Lennox went on to talk about the Genome project, the first director was an Atheist, the second and current director is Francis Collins, a Christian, this isn't about science versus religion its about worldviews and which worldview best fits the evidence.
The evidence is on the side of theism, for instance the rationality of the universe.
Alvin Plantinga argues that Dawkins believe in random chance does away with human rationality and so cuts off the three the branch that he is sat upon.
Dawkins argues that religion is violent, but is it fair to lump Islamic terrorists together with members of the women's institute (for example)? Lennox says we can play the same game and point to Hitler and Stalin. It is much better however to point to Jesus who turned the other cheek and gave his life the just for the unjust.
Yesterday morning we attended a Tearcraft sale at the local Free church, whilst drinking tea I found myself sat next to a retired nurse called Joy. Joy had lived for several years in Nazareth working in a hospital working amongst and with Arabs there. I asked her if it was difficult working in a predominantly Muslim area, she said it was but what Western Evangelicals had forgotten was that Palestine was home to a large and ancient Christian community. These Christians suffer persecution from their Muslim neighbours, are shot at and killed by Israeli snipers and are ignored by the Christian churches in the west who think "Israel= good Palestine= bad." It was a golden opportunity because I was unaware of this and knew that I had to prepare Saturday afternoon for a short talk on the suffering church.
There is plently of material on the situation in Palestine for believers and I would encourage you to read it and to pray for Christians there.
Sunday, 2 November 2008
John Lennox told us that he challenged Dawkins last week with regard to God being an object open to scientific probing rather than a subject. He pointed out that the universe is complex but its designer must also be outside the universe and more complex. In the same way that the author of the God Delusion must be more complex than the book itself. We couldn't get to know Richard Dawkins by studying the book because Richard Dawkins exists outside of his creation, he is a real person with a personality separate to his writings. We could study any Ford car by taking it apart and understand its complexity but it would tell us nothing about the man Henry Ford except it might point to his genius. What we need then is not a minute study of the universe alone to tell us about God but God's own self-revelation, we find this in the scriptures and ultimately in Christ Jesus who is the image of the invisible God.
Lennox questioned Dawkins scholarship, he pointed out that in the God Delusion Dawkins says that in historical scholarship the belief in Jesus' historical existence is very much disputed. Dawkins then adds weight to this by quoting a German scholar, however Dawkins fails to tell us that it is a literary scholar and not a historical scholar that he quotes. Lennox says that Dawkins has a cavalier attitude to history and by not taking his opponents best arguments he shows a real lack of desire to prove his case. I myself this week have begun reading The beginnings of Christianity by Dr Michael Bird and James G. Crossley. Crossley is a historian and a passionate non-believer, he presents his best case for an alternative origin to Christianity to the one presented in the Gospels, yet Crossley presumes that Jesus was a real historical figure. Lennox points out that history according to Dawkins is not to be taken seriously.
part 3 coming soon.
Saturday, 1 November 2008
HTC is part of a collegiate system called UHI earlier this year UHI organised a series of public lectues on the relationship of science to theology. It started with Richard Dawkins, followed by HTC principal Professor Andrew McGowan and was completed this week by John Lennox. Sadly I was out of town when Dawkins gave his lecture but I know there were many Christians as well as Atheist there for that occasion. On Monday night from the questions that followed Professor Lennox's address I assume there were no or few view atheists in attendance this was a great pity as I would have loved to hear their questions.
John Lennox like Dawkins is an Oxford Professor, his area is maths and science so I expected it to be informative but dull. Yet Lennox is a very gifted communicator. He attended Oxford University in the time of C.S Lewis and attended many of his last apologetics lectures. Lennox has a real gift for apologetics and a passionate Christian faith. A Couple of weeks ago he and Professor Dawkins debated in the natural history museum and Dawkins referred to Lennox as 'a Oxford professor of maths and science, who also believes in the resurrection of Jesus." Lennox is guilty as charged is talk was why that is not only plausible but the most likely response in a universe that points to a intelligent creator.
He likened himself to Dawkins in several key areas:
1) They are both passionate about science
2) they are both interested in evidence
3)passionate abut truth
4)They both have a horror of religion that leads to war, and terrorism.
Lennox said the new atheism differs from the old Atheism not in its core philosophy but with regard to its relationship to religion. The old atheism was content to ignore it, the new atheism is seeking to destroy religion. He said in a post modern world the new atheism can be very attractive, some of its points are correct and it offers a worldview with some answers.
However it is misleading. Lennox pointed out that Dawkins' dedication in the God Delusion says "isn't it enough to believe that the garden is beautiful without believing in fairies?" Dawkins is very sly hear, it is not the question of fairies at the bottom of the garden but more how is there a garden instead of a wilderness. Doesn't the garden point to a owner and a gardener?
Dawkins believes that all faith is blind faith. yet the Christian gospel is the opposite to blind faith. john in his gospel argues that presents his evidence John 20: 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
More tomorrow God willing !