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Theology

Monday Miscellanies: Planets

A guest post by Jonathan Edwards

1303. Planets

The uncertainty of their being inhabited: That some of the planets are such huge things, so vastly bigger than the globe of the earth, is no certain sign of their being inhabited. This planet we dwell upon may, nevertheless, be as it were elected to infinitely greater and more important purposes. Such an election there is with regard to the seed of plants and animals. Where there is one that is used for the purposes for which they are fitted, to produce a future plant or animal, vast multitudes are, as it were, thrown away in divine providence. Those seeds are as great a work of God, perhaps, as the bodies of Saturn or Jupiter, notwithstanding their vast bulk. The greatness of the bulk is but a shadow of greatness or importance. Nevertheless, they may [be], as it were, rejected and neglected of God, when a far lesser body may be chosen before them, as ’tis with divine election as exercised among mankind. A poor child may be infinitely more made of by God than some mighty potentate that rules over a large empire, though such a prince is like a vast, huge body in comparison with the other. But truly his greatness is but the shadow of greatness.

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Reviews

Science and God Review

Scott Petty. Little Black Books: Science and God. Kingsford, Australia: Matthias Media, 2011. 112 pp. $4.99.

Christians don’t have to choose between God and science. In fact, they are quite compatible. In his little book Science and God, Scott Petty succinctly, humorously, and helpfully makes just that point as he analyzes the modern tension between science and faith.

Science and God is a part of the Little Black Book series, authored by Petty, a youth minister in Australia. The series covers a wide range of topics for young people ages 15-20. The books are supposed to be fun and straight to the point, and Science and God is no exception. While it is simple, it is not simplistic or “dumbed-down.” I certainly learned a few things myself! The point of the book is simply to prove that science and God are not enemies. The book is not a complete resource on all things science, but it will certainly be a helpful resource for teens and even adults who are confused about the relationship of science and faith.

Petty gives three main reasons why we don’t need to choose between God or science. First, he says that science and God have historically been good friends. Second, he says that some of the world’s best scientists are professing Christians. Third, and most importantly, science and religion answer different questions. 

This third point is especially necessary for both Christians and skeptics to understand. Petty writes, “Can science tell me anything about the Fall of Rome, or World War II, or your summer holidays? Can I put the events of 11 September 2001 in a lab to examine them scientifically  No. Can I put the day I got married under a microscope so that I may thoroughly understand it. Not likely” (28). So is science unnecessary? Of course not! Science simply isn’t able to provide that sort of information; it cannot provide answers to every part of our existence. Simply put, science is not fit to answer questions of an ultimate kind, like those concerning purpose, meaning, beauty, and love.

So how do we reconcile science with theology? Petty proposes we adopt a layered approach. He gives the example of a book being created. A book came to exist because of the author’s know-how, expertise, and actually putting words on paper. But it also came to be through the invitation of the publisher, editing, and finally printing and binding, along with many other factors. These aspects work together, not against each other. In the same way, science explains some parts of our existence, and theology explains others. They are not opposed. They simply ask and answer different questions. Petty teases out this layered approach throughout the book. He also includes helpful sections on the Big Bang, Darwinian evolution, and evidence for God himself.

Are there any problems with the book? Some may criticize Petty for saying evolution is a scientific theory while ignoring the fact that it is an entire worldview that has become its own religion. Others may be upset that he does not clearly state his position on creation. These people miss the point of the book. This point is simply to show that science and God are not at odds. Regarding the first concern, Petty clearly understands that evolution is the lens through which some scientists interpret everything (chs. 1, 4), which is “a big mistake” (30).

Regarding the second, Petty clearly believes that God created the world from nothing (ch. 4). But is it necessary for him to say how he thinks that happened? No. He does admit that Bible-believing Christians differ on how to interpret Genesis 1. He notes that at least a dozen views have been proposed, and only one holds that God created everything in six literal 24-hour days. There is no way to be absolutely positive on how God created the world because Genesis 1 is not written as a science textbook for our 21st century questions (80). 

This is a solid book. Even if you don’t agree with everything, Petty will challenge your thinking, make you laugh, and put your mind at ease.

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Reviews Theology

The Reason for God (Chapter 1)

I recently finished Tim Keller’s The Reason for God and over the next several weeks, I’ll be reviewing and summarizing each chapter. I know this book is a few years old, so these posts are more intended to help me remember what I read. Most of these posts will simply be direct quotes from the book. If it is my paraphrase, it will marked by an asterisk (*) after the page number.

At the same time, I hope these chapter reviews will 1) benefit Christians to help them form intellectual arguments for their faith and 2) challenge non-Christians to think more deeply about the nature and reality of God, his word, and the world. So let’s get into chapter 1.

Chapter 1: There Can’t Be Just One True Religion

During my nearly two decades in New York City, I’ve had numerous opportunities to ask people, “What is your biggest problem with Christianity?”…One of the most frequent answers I have heard over the years can be summed up in one word: exclusivity. (p. 3)

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Theology

Peter Hitchens

Peter Hitchens is the author of The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith.  He is also the brother of Christopher Hitchens, the outspoken atheist who appeared in the documentary Collision with Pastor Douglas Wilson.   He tells his story here.

HT: Justin Taylor

Categories
Theology

Blogging My Church’s Sermons (Sermon 1)

Carly and I go to an Evangelical Free church here in Omaha called Brookside.  I’m going to try to blog the notes I take from each Sunday’s sermon.  There won’t be any real format, and this is mostly for me personally to reflect on what I heard the day before.  Hopefully, though, it will be beneficial to you as well.

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Can Faith and Science Co-Exist?
Series: Debated: Answering Hard Questions about Christianity
Pastor Steve Moltumyr

  • Genesis 1-2 has little to do with the science of how the universe was created, and more to do with who created the universe.  These chapters also have to do with Moses fighting against the theological heresy of polytheism which was so prevalent in his day.
  • Genesis 1-2 was written as poetry, not history, and the word “day” could mean 12 or 24 hour periods, or even “ages.”  There is no reason for Christians to fight over this, because the Bible is clear that God is the one who created everything, even if it’s unclear on how he did it.
  • Two reasons for why people think faith and science cannot co-exist:
  1. Christians can misunderstand certain parts of the Bible (such with Galileo and Psalm 104:5).
  2. Scientists often state theories as facts.
  • Two reasons science strengthens our faith:
  1. The origins of the universe.  This leads us to believe in a personal God (see Ps. 19:1-4; 102:25).  There is no answer for the origins of the universe except for the belief in the God of the Bible.
  2. The Anthropic Principle. This is the collective name for several ways of asserting that the observations of our physical universe must be compatible with the life observed in it.  This principle informs us that the conditions for life are exactly right on earth and no where else.  It helps us understand that it took purpose, not chance, for the “Goldilocks” principle — the name for the fact that the earth is perfectly distanced from the sun and moon to give it the right conditions for warmth, cooling, gravitational pull, etc.  Finally, it informs us of the “strong force,” which is the name for the .007 conversion rate from hydrogen to helium.  Life could not exist if it was either higher or lower.  It must have taken a personal, powerful, wise, creative God to make all of this happen so perfectly.
  • Jesus is the one who sat with the Father and spoke the universe into existence (Col. 1:15-17).