Monthly Archives: December 2014
Amongst this year’s Christmas gifts was a new bird identification book from my daughter. It was timely as my previous one was printed in 1966, and European birds have evolved since then.
The BioLogos Forum is a useful venue for exchanging ideas about creation and evolution, and religion and science generally. But it is not as useful as it could be. Though it features many columns which spark discussion among its readers, in very few cases do the writers of those columns engage effectively with the BioLogos readers. The BioLogos columnists can be divided into two groups: Ted Davis, and Everyone Else.
A recent critique of theistic evolution on a Creationist blog rapidly led to a debate on the old issue of the existence of death before the Fall. A commenter by the name of Reuben K wisely raised the key issue of ones definition of life (and therefore of death), and then equally wisely left the discussion. He raised an interesting theological point in presenting a typical scientific description of living things:
This is to wish everyone a Happy Christmas from all at The Hump. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all … Continue reading
As so often, a paper pointed out to me by our commenter pngarrison fits nicely into the stream of Hump consciousness. This one is by leading archaeologist and palaeolinguist Professor Lord Colin Renfrew. It appears to summarise his 2008 book Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind.
I can’t say that Girl Guide affairs feature heavily in my list of concerns, which is probably why last year’s new Guide (and Brownie) Promise slipped under my radar until my granddaughter brought it to my attention. A little online research shows that the Boy Scouts here, and even in America, retain substantially Baden-Powell’s wording, duty to God and all, with alternative versions for conscientious objectors.
OK, this post is to wind up the thoughts directly inspired by reading Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances. Overall it is, indeed, an important book, and perhaps not as difficult as I’d been led to believe, though that may partly be because some of his core ideas are shared across a great range of other thinkers with whom we’ve become familiar on The Hump this year.
Carrying on the trajectory of previous posts we’ve reached the idea that although there is a “physical reality out there” (what Owen Barfield calls “the particles” or “the unrepresented”) there is no way we can encounter it directly. All our perception comes through sense and mind representations, which to the extent that we share what we perceive with others are public representations. That applies as much, we found, to the application of mathematical symbolism, as to more analogical symbols like “atoms are particles” or “genes are units of heredity”. Both can tell truth, but are inevitably incomplete and distorted representations of total reality.
In the previous post I tried to show how closely related are the reality we perceive and the language with which we talk about it. As far as human beings go, no language -> no thought -> no true perception -> no “real world”. Language is also inextricably entwined with that difficult word “meaning”, so that separating the world from its meaning cuts across the very process by which we know there is a world.
Here’s a quick summary of how we normally see the relationship of words and language to the physical world. The real world is “out there”, and words are arbitrary (and so ultimately meaningless) labels for what we perceive of it. Further, as several previous posts have discussed, what we perceive is far from the physical reality (what Owen Barfield calls “the unrepresented” or “the particles”). As he puts it, “There is no such thing as an unseen rainbow.” And so we live in a world of illusions, which we describe using arbitrary sounds. And if the reductive materialists have their way, we experience all that with minds that are also illusory … Continue reading