Monthly Archives: February 2012
One of the things that surprises me greatly is how little support materialism gets from philosophy. In fact, materialism is rejected so much as a matter of course, apparently, that philosophers seldom even make much of it. This is because, according to those in the field, it is simply untenable as a worldview. I gather that most of the history of materialist philosophy is contiguous with the history of Marxism – and with the latter more or less in terminal decline the former is also largely a museum piece.
There have been a few scattered discussions on BioLogos recently about the question of the “obsolete” cosmology in the Bible, and especially in Genesis 1, and I’ve done a recent blog on that subject. One of the things that becomes quickly obvious is how very hard it is for moderns to see the theological content of ANE texts as other than add-on stories to mistaken science, rather than as the expression of a worldview that had very little interest in the purely material qualities of the Universe. Or rather, that saw the material aspects of the Universe from a theological point of view.
We have some issues with racism in football over here. Not many, it should be said – the Football Association has worked hard to root it out both amongst supporters and players. But the (now removed) England captain is now awaiting trial on charges of racially abusing a fellow-player. It was also reported that at a European game (where to be frank crowd racism is far worse) spectators were chanting abuse at one of the black British players. The roots of race-hatred are complex. At one end are fairly primitive human impulses like xenophobia. There are also genuine social antagonisms caused by immigration, unemployment and terrorism attributed to racial minorities. … Continue reading
We’re strangely irrational creatures, aren’t we? On Saturday I travelled about 80 miles to a gig with my function band, Eight to the Bar. It was in a British Legion hut somewhere near a cliff on the north Devon coast. The engagement was never going to be economic – the band has only recently got good enough to charge for gigs, and even more recently have most of them realised they should. So we only charged 200 quid (for our 8-piece) for 3 hours of solid work.
I want to return to what I call the “hyperkenotic” view of God, that came into the explanatory model of much of theistic evolution via Howard van Till and, before that, Process Theology. The idea is that God emptied himself of his omnipotence, and even of his omniscience, with a view to acting responsively to his creation. In theistic evolution, this means allowing material substances “freedom” to evolve without the “interference” or “coercion” of an autocratic God.
My last post should not be taken to imply that science is false or useless – merely that in itself it’s an insufficient predictor of normal reality. In other words, the naturalism agenda can’t be sustained by it, and there are (or at least, may well be) more things in heaven and earth than that particular philosophy dreams of. Discussing the subject of that post with a theologically trained saxophonist(!), before I wrote it, it occurred to me that a parallel phenomenon occurs in the theology of the Bible, which might be helpful to some. Many people are troubled by the contrast seen in the Wisdom Literature, and particularly in … Continue reading
I read a provocative idea recently (it may have been in Steve Fuller’s writing, but it may not). It is that science is good at understanding things at the very smallest scales (molecular and below), and at the very largest scales (like the behaviour of galaxies and Universes) – but everywhere in between, where most of our interests lie, it is only approximately true.
I’ve been too slow to comment on the decision by a British court that the holding of a time of prayer in local council meetings is illegal. The case was brought by an ex-council member from a place not far from here, who was following the New Atheist agenda of claiming that his (evolved?) human rights were being abrogated by others praying, even though he had been quite at liberty to absent himself. The judge actually decided that his rights were not breached at all, but rather like the Dover Trial judge decided that he’d answer a question he hadn’t been asked for free, and said that councils had no … Continue reading
One of the commonplaces of the “liberal evangelical” BioLogian approach to Bible interpretation is to use the example of ANE cosmology as a way of showing that the Bible cannot be taken as a scientific text. The concept of the Universe said to underlie Genesis, and common to the rest of the ancient world, is that shown in this diagram: It should be noted from the first that this is not an ancient diagram, but a modern interpretation of ancient descriptions. It is very easy to misinterpret the past, one example being the assumption that the mediaeval mappae mundi also suggest a flat earth surrounded by water, whereas in fact … Continue reading
I don’t know if this popular programme on archaeology, a 20 year British institution, has made it across the Atlantic, though I’ve seen it on satellite TV across the world. It’s hit the headlines because one of its original team, Brummy archaeologist Prof Mick Aston , has left in anger because of decisions made by Channel 4, the commissioners of the programme: They included a new presenter to join Tony Robinson and decisions to drop some archaeologists and cut down the informative stuff about the archaeology.