April 29, 2014
April 23, 2014
I’ve noticed that many nonbelievers (and even believers) misunderstand what constitutes a “God of the gaps” argument. They tend to think one is guilty of a God of the gaps argument if they offer God as an explanation for some X rather than some natural phenomenon. The problem with this definition is that it presumes the only valid explanation is a naturalistic explanation. God is ruled out as a valid explanation for anything a priori, so anyone who offers God as an explanation for X is thought to do so merely because they are ignorant of the proper naturalistic explanation. This begs the question in favor of naturalism and against theism. One could only conclude that every effect has a naturalistic explanation, and that God is not a valid explanation, if one has first demonstrated that God does not exist. So long as it is even possible that God exists, then it is possible that God may be the cause of X, and thus explain X.
What makes an argument a God of the gaps type of argument is when God is invoked to explain X simply because we do not know what else can explain X. In other words, God is used to plug a gap in our knowledge of naturalistic explanations: “I don’t know how to explain X, so God must have done X.” This is not at all the same as arguing that God is the best explanation of X, based on what we know regarding X and the explanatory options available to us. Here, God is being invoked to explain what we know, not what we don’t know.
April 16, 2014
A lot of people think that science has proven that the material world is all that exists – no God, no angels, and no souls. The problem is that science can never be used to justify the belief that the material world is all that exists (materialism, naturalism). Science is a tool that examines the workings of the physical world. Of course, if the material world is the only thing your tool examines, it is the only thing your tool will see. But it doesn’t follow that what your tool examines is all there is to examine. Edward Feser compares science to a metal detector. It would not follow that since the metal detector only finds metal objects in the ground there are no treasure maps buried as well. A metal detector is not capable of finding paper. It is only geared toward finding metal objects. Its success in finding what it is geared to find – metal objects – in no way serves as evidence that non-metal objects do not exist. Likewise, the success of science in discovering the workings of the physical world in no way serves as evidence that there is no spiritual world.
April 11, 2014
As anyone familiar with the KJV will notice, when speaking of the Spirit, the translators were not always consistent. The translators translated pneuma as “Spirit,” but translated pneuma hagios as “Holy Ghost.” Here are some examples where the difference can be seen within the same verse:
• Luke 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
• John 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
• John 7:39 But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
• Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
• 1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
I was tempted to conclude that, for some stylistic reason or due to cultural conventions, the translators preferred to translate pneuma by itself as “Spirit,” but pneuma hagios as “Holy Ghost.” But I have discovered that they did not always translate pneuma hagios (or its Hebrew equivalent) as “Holy Ghost.” Consider these passages:
April 8, 2014
John tells us that in the final state there will be no sickness or disease. Most Christians tend to think of our glorified body as a perfected body. And yet, Jesus’ resurrected body was not perfect. The wounds from His crucifixion remained. What does this tell us about our own resurrected body? Could we retain our wounds too? If you lost a finger in shop class, do you only have nine fingers forever? Or do you think Jesus is just a special case. Perhaps He kept His wounds for evidential purposes, to convince the disciples that the Jesus they were seeing was the same Jesus who had been crucified?
April 4, 2014
Scientists at Northwestern University claim to have found two sets of genes that may contribute to male homosexual orientation, but estimate that it only contributes about 40% to the chance of someone developing a homosexual orientation. The other 60% is determined by environment, which includes social factors. This is consistent with what researchers have said all along. Sexual orientation cannot be determined entirely by biology. Nature plus nurture together most likely contribute to same-sex attraction.
Sarah Knapton, “Being homosexual is only partly due to gay gene, research finds”; available from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10637532/Being-homosexual-is-only-partly-due-to-gay-gene-research-finds.html; Internet; accessed 25 March 2014.
April 4, 2014
Earlier in the week it was reported that three of of Mozilla’s (the people who make the Firefox browser) board members resigned when Mozilla co-founder, Brendan Eich, was appointed as CEO of the company. Why? Because Eich gave $1,000 to support California’s Proposition 8 in 2008, a ballot initiative that sought to define marriage as an institution exclusive to male-female pairings. His appointment as CEO so irked the dating site, OkCupid, that users attempting to login to the site received this message: “Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”
Now, it’s being reported that Eich has “resigned.” Surely he wasn’t tired of the job yet.