Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monroe High Grad's Film to Premier in Monroe

Darren Wilson, a professor at Judson College in Elgin, Illinois, is a graduate of Monroe High School. Darren has just finished production on his film “Finger of God.”

Darren writes: “The question on everyone’s mind is simple, yet difficult to answer completely. What is the film about? The answer is not necessarily cut and dry. It’s about miracles. Signs and wonders. The death of religion. The call for more than just a belief. The power of Love. Stories that shake the very foundation of one’s belief system. The film is about a lot of thing, but more than anything, it is designed to make God famous.”

I got to see a showing last Saturday evening. I loved the film and was moved by it.

Darren’s movie will premier here in Monroe at Redeemer Fellowship Church, Sunday evening, December 9, 6:30 PM.

Darren’s film blog is here.

FYI - Darren is the son of Gary and Linda Wilson. Gary is long-time professor of art at MCCC.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mailer, Desouza, and Flew on God

Linda and I went to Borders in Ann Arbor Friday night after eating the best prime rib we've ever had at Weber's. I picked up Norman Mailer's new book On God: An Uncommon Conversation. I doubt if I'll buy it because it seems extraordinarily common, and even (self-admittedly) ignorant re. philosophical and theological God-issues. For example, Mailer states the argument from evil against God and quickly brushes over it. I'm guessing he's unfamiliar with the actual intellectual discussion.

Then I looked at Dinesh Desouza's new book - What's So Great About Christianity. Note that there's no question mark here. Desouza argues for the greatness and the need for Christianity. What stunned me were the positive reviews, to include Dallas Willard, Francis Collins, atheist Michael Shermer, and even (!) Stanley Fish. Fish writes: Desouza "meets every anti-God argument head-on and defeats it on its own terms. He submits atheism and scientific materialism to sustained rigourous interrogation and shows that their claims are empty and incoherent. Infinitely more sophisticated than the rants of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, What's So Great About Christianity leaves those rants in the dust."

I got Antony Flew's There Is a God in the mail on Friday, and read a lot of it on Saturday. I'll probably make some posts on Flew. He admits now believing that, when you follow the evidence to where it leads, it leads to God. For those of us studying philosophy in the late 20th century Flew was the paradigmatic atheist.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pointless Suffering & The Problem of Evil: What Christianity Really Is (for my Philosophy of Religion Class)

In my Philosophy of Religion class we are currently reading philosophical essays on the argument from evil against the existence of God. Athests who use this argument mean, by "evil," "pointless suffering." Not all suffering is pointless (or gratuituous). For example, it's wrong to inflict suffering on persons by cutting them open with a knife. Unless, of course, such cutting is done by a surgeon and allows for a greater good to happen; viz., saving the person's life.

Philosopher Stephen Wyckstra argues against William Rowe's inductive argument from evil. Rowe says, in his "Bambi example" of a suffering and dying fawn, "As far as we can tell, the fawn's suffering is pointless." There are at least two theistic responses to Rowe here. Wyckstra gives his "Noseeum" criticism against Rowe; viz., that Rowe would have to have epistemic access such as an omniscient God does in order to determine that Bambi's suffering is "pointless." A second approach is that, e.g., of Greg Boyd in his Satan and the Problem of Evil. If the Christian worldview is true, then pointless suffering exists, and the existence of pointless suffering is not a problem for Christian theism.

So at this point in my class I am now explaining the worldview of Christian theism, which is, I believe, the worldview of Jesus. Within such a worldview there is pointless suffering. Here are some bullet points, which I will expand on in class.

The heart of Christianity is the person Jesus the Christ. The word "Christ" means "Messiah," or "Anointed King." Old Testament Jews were expecting a Messiah, an Anointed King, to come.

The central message Jesus spoke about is: the kingdom of God. This is also referred to as "the kingdom of heaven" or "the kingdom of light." The "kingdom of God" is the hermeneutical or interpretative key to understanding everything Jesus says and does. For example, the parables of Jesus are about the kingdom of God/heaven. Many parables begin with Jesus saying the words, "the kingdom of heaven is like..."

The term "kingdom of God," as used by Jesus, refers to the reign or rule of God. It is not about some place or realm. This is a very important thing to understand. It explains how the kingdom can be both present and future. If the kingdom were understood to be a place, this would make no sense.

Jesus believed there are two kingdoms, and every person is in either one or the other. On the one hand there is the kingdom of God/heaven/light. On the other hand there is the kingdom of Satan/earth/darkness. It is precisely because of this war going on between the two kingdoms that there is pointless evil. Because the world, on Jesus, is understood to be under the control of "the evil one," much if not most evil is pointless from God's perspective. (In addition, because created agents have free will, a created agent who freely chooses to do evil does something which is, from God's perspective, pointless. For example, if I choose to hit you with a baseball bat for no other reason than that I feel irritated by you, such an evil act is not something from God for the purpose of, say, your character development.)

The Christian worldview claims that God became human for the purpose of rescuing his created agents from their captivity in the kingdom of darkness. This idea gets expressed in the Matthew/Mark/Luke/John accounts of the mission of Jesus. For example, we read the "song of Mary" in Luke chapter 2, which is about Jesus, and it says: "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty." This has been called "The Great Reversal." God has come to us in the form of a person to lift up the hungry and the humble. We find the mission of Jesus stated in a number of other places in the 4 gospels.

The methodology of Jesus for accomplishing this mission is twofold: 1) proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of God; and 2) demonstrations of power - healing people, delivering them from demonic oppression, and raising the dead. It is, precisely, to rescue persons out of the pointless suffering that is endemic to the kingdom of darkness.

Jesus recruits disciples, or followers, to join him on his mission. The Mission is nothing less than rescuing persons out of their captivity in the kingdom of darkness (the realm of pointless suffering).

When, e.g., we pray what is commonly but probably inaccurately called "The Lord's Prayer," we ask that the will of God be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. This is a prayer request of Jesus; viz., that the things of heaven be done here, on earth. So, e.g., in heaven there is no pointless suffering; indeed, there is no suffering at all.

Then parables of Jesus tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like. For example, the KG moves underground, like a seed growing secretly, inexorably, subversively.

Matthew chapters 5-7 give us the ethics of the kingdom. (The "Sermon on the Mount")

The KG has been called "the upside-down kingdom." The final blow against the kingdom of darkness is the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. The disciples find this massively counterintuitive. The "upside-down" thing is all over the gospels, shattering the expectations of the disciples and religious leaders time after time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The God Delusion #43: Dawkins's Feuerbachian Roots

Dawkins thinks anyone who believes in God is utterly irrational. "Believing in God is on the same level as believing in cosmic teapots." (McGrath, DD, 53) McGrath writes: "It's yet anther recycled ananlogy that is all part of his general strategy of systematically mocking, misrepresenting and demonizing competing worldviews, which are always presented in the most naive light possible." (DD, 53)

In this regard Dawkins has no new insights to offer but rather recycles an old and largely philosophically discarded argument against God's existence as put forth in 1841 by German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. Feuerbach's argument has been called the "projection theory." McGrath presents the argument like this.

- There is no God.

- But lots of people believe in God. Why?

- Because they want consolation.

- So they "project" or "objectify" their longings and call this "God."- Therefore, this nonexistent God is simply the projection of human longings. (See DD, 54)

This argument has its problems. First, "wanting" something is no proof that this "something" does not exist. For example, humans want food and water. Their wanting does not disprove the existence of food and water. Secondly, the Feuerbachian projection theory suggests that all worldviews are a response to human wants. But if this is true than the worldview of atheism would itself be "seen as a response to the human desire for moral autonomy." (DD, 54)

Two variations on the Feuerbachian theme are: 1) locating the origins of belief in God in sociological factors; and 2) locating the origins of belief in God in psychological factors. The first belongs to Marx; the second belongs to Freud. French philosopher Paul Ricoeur coined the term "the hermeneutics of suspicion" to apply to Marx, Freud, and also Nietzsche. These three, rooted in Feuerbach, did not actually offer proofs against the existence of God but brought their atheism already to their three related-yet-different ways of explaining why religion exists at all.

This is what Dawkins does. Dawkins offers a naturalistic explanation of religion. We'll look at that in my next post.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The God Delusion #42: Dawkins's "Pseudointellectual Drivel"

Alister McGrath, in DD, shows how Dawkins consistently misrepresents religion. One example is Dawkins's idea that "religion leads to violence and is antiscience." (DD, 51)

McGrath writes: "As one senior atheist scientific colleague at Oxford said to me [commenting on Dawkins's TV series "The Root of All Evil?], 'Don't judge the rest of us by this pseudointellectual drivel." (DD, 51)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The God Delusion #41: Dawkins as an Embarrassment to Other Atheists

Atheist Michael Ruse is quoted in Alister McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion? as saying that Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion "makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why."

I feel I can relate, somewhat, to what Ruse is talking about. Of course I am a theist, not an atheist. But I have dialogued some with a local atheist who writes anti-God letters to the editor in our community's newspaper. I have met with this atheist personally. I conclude that, were I an atheist, this man would be an embarrassment to me. He is incoherent and unable to reason things out. In a similar way, it seems that Dawkins's fundamentalist-religious atheism is an offense to some scholarly atheists, such as Michael Ruse.

To quote Ruse from a Q&A on American Scientist's website: 

"Dawkins is an interesting case. If being deeply interested in and committed to these various issues counts as religious—as well as having strong moral feelings (especially about the wickedness of existing religion)—then I would say he is religious. He reminds me a bit of Calvin...

One thing that does worry me is the belief by many Darwinians, especially, that their position implies atheism. If it does, then I think the creationists have a good point—Darwinism is getting close to religion, or at least to implications about religion. In which case, does it not violate the constitutional separation of church and state? My personal response has been to write a book (Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?) arguing that Darwinism does not imply atheism—it does not imply God, either, but that is another matter.

I don't want people like Richard Dawkins to be banned from arguing that Darwinism implies atheism, but I do wish that people like him would bother to learn some Christian theology before they presume to pontificate. Dawkins would be rightly pissed off if someone criticized Darwinism without knowing anything about, say, selfish gene theory."

In a Guardian essay Ruse says: 

"If Darwinism equals atheism then it can't be taught in US schools because of the constitutional separation of church and state. It gives the creationists a legal case. Dawkins and Dennett are handing these people a major tool."

Here is one more Ruse quote from his exchange with atheist Daniel Dennett: 

“I think that you and Richard [Dawkins] are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design... We are losing this battle, not the least of which is the two new supreme court justices who are certainly going to vote to let it into classrooms. What we need is not knee-jerk atheism but serious grappling with the issues. Neither of you [Dennett and Dawkins] are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas. It is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims. More than this, we are in a fight, and we need to make allies in the fight, not simply alienate everyone of good will.”

Dawkins is fundamentalistic in his belief that "science" = "atheism." He ridicules scientists who do not strongly disbelieve in God as representing the "Neville Chamberlain" school (referring to "the policy of appeasement that the British prime minister Neveille Chamberlain adopted toward Adof Hitler in 1938, in the hope of avoiding total war in Europe)." (DD, 47)

Dawkins especially singles out and attacks Michael Ruse. McGrath writes, 

"Why? Dawkins's argument is so muddled here that it is difficult to identify the point at issue. Was it that Ruse dared to criticize Dawkins... Or was it that he even more daringly suggested that science and religion might learn from each other - which some fanatics... would regard as an act of treason?" (DD, 47-48)

Dawkins divides the world into two camps - rationalism and superstition. "Poor Michael Ruse. Having attacked one bunch of fundamentalists, he finds himself ostracised by another - declared to be intellectually unclean by his erstwhile colleagues." (DD, 48)

Victor Reppert's Argument from Reason for the Existence of God

Tonight, and next Tuesday night, I will present in my Logic class, as an example of a logical argument, the Argument from Reason for the Existence of God, as presented by Victor Reppert, Robert Adams, Richard Swinburne, and C.S. Lewis.

This is an especially interesting argument for a logic class in that it claims that the existence of logical thinking (reason) is more plausible on theism than naturalism.

For a nice summary of the argument go here.

For criticism of the argument go here.

I found Reppert's little book C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea excellent in its presentation of AFR.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The God Delusion #40: How Richard Dawkins Helps Us

Here's the entire text of a brief Christianity Today article.

October 15, 2007 3:44PM
How Richard Dawkins Helps Us

Atheistic rants may lead us to stronger apologetics.

Katelyn Beaty

Last week, Opinion Journal's Naomi Schaefer Riley attended a public debate between Darwinian biologist Richard Dawkins, most (in)famous for his recent work, The God Delusion, and mathematician–Christian apologist John Lennox. The debate focused on the question, Does God exist?

What’s newsworthy is not so much that the debate occurred or that it received so much press; it only takes a monthly glance at the New York Times bestseller list to see that this question, and the atheistic rants that often ensue, get our attention. According to Riley, the debate between the two Oxford scientists, which took place at the Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham, Alabama, on October 3, had been sold out for weeks prior, and received more buzz than Alabama football, which apparently is saying something.

What may be surprising to some about the debate, not least of all Richard Dawkins himself, is that many believers are eager to attend such events and to heartily engage the intellectual conclusions of each side. To watch two brilliant scientists construct arguments, and, in good English fashion, throw in some rhetorical punches along the way, is both entertaining and instructive. Dawkins and other atheist-apologists might envision Christians running away from such challenges, afraid and dejected. What they may be horrified to find out is that such debates actually spur many Christians to ask big questions, examine their beliefs, and arrive at even more robust reasoning for accepting the gospel as “gospel truth." As Riley quotes apologist Jonalyn Fincher as saying, “If our God is the God of truth, what are we afraid of?”

As a counterproposal, would Dawkins and the rest of the New Atheist league be willing to sit in for a session at next month’s Apologetics Conference, featuring J. P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and Gary Habermas? Just a thought.

*Look for our review of fellow Oxford scholar Alister McGrath's response to Dawkins in the November issue of Christianity Today.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Dawkins Delusion #39: Should a Real Scientist Be an Atheist?

For Richard Dawkins science has destroyed faith in God. The idea that there is a "God" is only embraced by "deluded fanatics" (Alister & Joanna McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion? Atheistic Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine, 41-42).

But the problem is that a lot of scientists do believe in God. Personally I know this, having lived in a church family from 1981-1992 that was filled with scientists of every kind.

McGrath points out that in 1916 active scientists were asked whether they believed in God ("God" was defined as a God who actively communicates with humanity and to whom one may pray "in expectation of receiving an answer" - DD, 42). Roughly 40% did believe in this kind of God, 40% did not, and 20% were not sure.

This survey was repeated in 1997, using exactly the same question. The number who believed in such a God was 40%, the number who disbelieved slightly increased to 45%. What can we make of this?

Atheists might use this to say "most scientists don't believe in God." But one could just as well interpret the results as saying "most scientists do not disbelieve in God," since 55% either believe in God or are not sure (agnostic).

McGrath writes (after giving more analysis of the survey data): "Dawkins is forced to contend with the highly awkward fact that his view that the natural sciences are an intellectual superhighway to atheism is rejected by most scientists, irrespective of their religious views."

McGrath has this interesting observation, which I confirm from my experience with scientists: "Most unbelieving scientists of my acquaintance are atheists on grounds other than their science; they bring those assumptions to their science rather than basing them on their science. Indeed, if my own personal conversations are anything to go by, some of Dawkins's most vociferous critics among scientists are actually atheists. His dogmatic insistence that all "real" scientists ought to be atheists has met with fierce resistance from precisely the community that he believes should be his fiercest and most loyal supporter." (DD, 44)

"There is a massive observational discrepancy between the number of scientists that Dawkins believes should be atheists and those who are so in practice." (DD, 44)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The God Delusion #38: NOMAs & POMAs

The late Stephen Jay Gould coined the term "NOMA," which is an acronym for "Non-Overlapping Magisteria." For Gould there are two "magisteria" - science and religion - and they remain forever disconnected. The "magisterium of science" deals with the "empirical realm." The "magisterium of religion" deal with "questions of ultimate meaning." Again, for Gould, the two magisteria do not overlap. (Note: I'm using McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion, pp. 40-41, for this post.)

Now on this McGrath thinks Gould is wrong. Dawkins also thinks Gould is wrong, but for different reasons than McGrath.
Dawkins thinks Gould is wrong because, for Dawkins, there is only one magisterium; viz., empirical reality. For Dawkins empirical reality is the only reality that exists. Dawkins is outraged at the idea that theologians should be allowed to speak about anything at all. Dawkins writes: "Why are scientists so cravenly respectful towards the ambitions of theologians, over questions that theologians are certainly no more qualified to answer than scientists themselves." (In DD, 40)
McGrath thinks Gould is wrong because he posits a false dichotomy. There is a third option, which McGrath calls POMA - "partially overlapping magisteria." POMA reflects "a realization that science and religion offer possibilities of cross-fertilization on account of the interpenetration of their subjects and methods." (DD, 41) McGrath cites evolutionary biologist Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project. Collins speaks of "a richly satisfying harmony between the scientific and spiritual worldviews... The principles of faith are complementary with the principles of science." (From Collins, The Language of God; cited in DD, 41)
McGrath agrees with Collins, and writes, "This idea of 'overlapping magisteria' is implicit in the philosophy of 'critical realism,' which is currently having such an impact on illuminating the relationship of the natural and social sciences." (DD, 41)
So, for McGrath and Collins, the debate is not between Gould and Dawkins (NOMA or empirical reality alone). There is a third alternative - POMA.
When I was a campus pastor at Michigan State University our church was filled with scientists who would, I feel certain, affirm the McGrath-Collins idea of POMA. For these great scholars science and religion overlapped. I had many personal and group discussions with scientists about the interrelatioship and what that meant.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Neuroscience Reduces the Soul to the Brain

Below I referenced the new book by neuroscientist Mario Beauregard that argues for the existence of the human soul. Here's the recent Scientific American article that reduces the soul to the brain.

Beauregard's neuro-experiments are briefly explained. Experiments to neuro-create the "God experience" are explained. And reductionistic experiments are explained.

Here's a quote: "The key, Ramachandran speculates [neuroscientist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran of the University of California, San Diego], may be the limbic system, which comprises interior regions of the brain that govern emotion and emotional memory, such as the amygdala and hypothalamus. By strengthening the connection between the temporal lobe and these emotional centers, epileptic electrical activity may spark religious feeling.
To seal the case for the temporal lobe’s involvement, Michael Persinger of Laurentian University in Ontario sought to artificially re-create religious feelings by electrically stimulating that large subdivision of the brain. So Persinger created the “God helmet,” which generates weak electromagnetic fields and focuses them on particular regions of the brain’s surface.
In a series of studies conducted over the past several decades, Persinger and his team have trained their device on the temporal lobes of hundreds of people. In doing so, the researchers induced in most of them the experience of a sensed presence—a feeling that someone (or a spirit) is in the room when no one, in fact, is—or of a profound state of cosmic bliss that reveals a universal truth. During the three-minute bursts of stimulation, the affected subjects translated this perception of the divine into their own cultural and religious language—terming it God, Buddha, a benevolent presence or the wonder of the universe."

Persinger is a reductionist. Quoting SA: "Persinger thus argues that religious experience and belief in God are merely the results of electrical anomalies in the human brain. He opines that the religious bents of even the most exalted figures—for instance, Saint Paul, Moses, Muhammad and Buddha—stem from such neural quirks. The popular notion that such experiences are good, argues Persinger in his book Neuropsychological Bases of God Beliefs (Praeger Publishers, 1987), is an outgrowth of psychological conditioning in which religious rituals are paired with enjoyable experiences. Praying before a meal, for example, links prayer with the pleasures of eating. God, he claims, is nothing more mystical than that."

One problem I continue to have with this kind of reasoning is that it creates a self-defeating loop. Neuro-reductionism must claim that all experience, not only religious experience, is "merely the result of electrical anomalies in the human brain." Neuro-theorizing is a form of experiencing. Therefore neuro-theorizing is merely the result of electrical anomalies in the neuro-theorizer's brain. If so, why believe some other person's anomalous brain activity?

Of course when I have a God-experience I expect there will be neural activity. I also expect there will be neural activity when I theorize about neural activity. So, am I to conclude that, when the day comes that we can fabricate and stimulate neuro-theoretical ideas, we are thereby to say such ideas are not "true" because artificially produced? What, really, can we conclude from the fact that we can stimulate the brain so as to, e.g., "experience God" or "experience neuro-theorizing?" (I assume scientific theorizing is a form of experiencing. If not, what then is it?) And how could we say they really are the same kind of things?
Note: online subscribers to SA can access a debate on "How Does Consciousness Happen?", between neuroscientists Kristof Koch and Susan Greenfield.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Michael Behe's "Hard Numbers & Ingenious Thesis"

Cameron Wybrow writes, in The Philadelphia Enquirer, that Michael Behe's new book, The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, "makes a serious, quantitative argument about the limits of Darwinian evolution. Evolutionary biology cannot honestly ignore it."

Wybrow takes to task, e.g., Richard Dawkins's "review" of Behe's book. In his review "the science [of Behe's argument] is barely touched." And re. atheist Michael Ruse's review of Behe, "it's not clear that he [Ruse] has even opened the cover of the book."

Wybrow writes: "Behe... provides some hard numbers, coupled with an ingenious argument. The key to determining the exact powers of Darwinian evolution, says Behe, lies with fast-reproducing microbes. Some, such as malaria, HIV, and E. coli, reproduce so quickly that within a few decades, or at most a few millennia, they generate as many mutations as a larger, slower-breeding animal would in millions of years. By observing how far these creatures have evolved in recent times, we can estimate the creative limits of random mutation.
In the case of malaria, the creative limits appear quite low. Over the last few thousand years, several thousand billion billion malarial cells have been unable to develop an evolutionary response to the sickle-cell mutation, which protects its human bearers from malaria. On the other hand, malaria has proved able to develop Darwinian resistance to the antibiotic chloroquine. This resistance is based upon two simultaneous mutations affecting a malarial protein. Yet this rare double mutation has occurred fewer than 10 times since chloroquine was introduced 50 years ago, during which time a hundred billion billion malarial cells have been born. If this indicates the typical rate of occurrence of double mutations, then the Darwinian transformation of our pre-chimp ancestor into homo sapiens, which would have required at least some double mutations, would have taken at least a thousand trillion years, a time span greater than the age of the universe.
Drawing upon parallel mutation studies of HIV and E. coli for confirmation, Behe concludes that random mutations cannot explain the origin of most of the complex structures in living things. He concedes that Darwinian processes can make new species, but argues that they are incompetent to generate new kingdoms, phyla, or classes. The creative limit, the "edge of evolution," lies somewhere between the level of species and the level of class. Darwinian processes can account for the difference between a dog and a wolf, maybe even a dog and a bear, but not the difference between a lizard and a bird. Something other than random mutation must have produced such differences; for Behe, the "something" is intelligent design."

A Neuroscientist Argues for the Existence of the Soul

University of Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard (with Denise O'Leary) has published his book The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscient's case for the Existence of the Soul. This book appears to be an important read for all interested in today's battle for the mind and battle for the soul.

Materialists believe that what we call "mind" or "soul" is a mere epiphenomenon of matter. On maerialism all there is is matter. Thus, no mind or soul exist.

Beauregard points out the problems of this kind of materialism and argues for the reality of the human soul.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Appendix Has a Purpose After All (The Telos of Tonsils is Forthcoming)

Over the years I have on occasion heard that the human appendix and tonsils have no function because they are evolutionary leftovers (vestigial organs). The question is: Why did God create such useless organs?

Now a U of Michigan professor and a Duke U professor have put forth a theory in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. Once thought to be useless, this theory claims that the appendix's telos is "to reboot the digestive system" when certain diseases clear one's gut of useful bacteria.

Prof. Gary Huffnagle of the U of Michigan states, "I'll bet eventually we'll find the same sort of thing with the tonsils."

What does this have to do with God? It defeats an "atheism of the gaps" argument that says because there's no purpose for the appendix it provides evidence that a God would not have made persons with such a totally useless organ. On the other hand Brandeis U professor Douglas Theobald says that this theory "makes evolutionary sense." But the appendix and "probably" the tonsils are no longer mere "vestiges" of an evolutionary past that provide evidence of an inept Creator-God.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

J.P. Moreland's Kingdom Triangle

Linda and I returned from Kansas Tuesday night. We had a great time at the Prairie Fire event.

While gone I read philosopher J.P. Moreland's new book Kingdom Triangle. I found it a tremendous read! I am in near-full agreement with his main thesis; viz., that what the people of God (= the "church") must do in today's naturalistic and postmodern culture in America involves three things. They are:

1- Recover the mind; 2 - Renovate the soul and; 3 - Restore the Spirit's power

Readers of Moreland will enjoy #1 - he's written a lot about this. NOTE: He especially challenges the Emerging Church.

Re. #2, fans of Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart will embrace what Moreland has to say here. (Moreland did his Ph.D in philosophy at USC under Willard.)

As for #3 - I say to Moreland - THANK YOU FOR ADDING THIS! And, we should pray for Moreland, for he is already getting attacked by cessationists and dispensationalists. A note for Willard fans here: Willard strongly embraces what Moreland writes about healings, deliverances, the Spirit's manifest power, and the kingdom of God. Moreland is firm but gracious, having himself come out of cessationism.