Friday, March 30, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
More on Harris' Free Will book: Flashing the Laymen:
What I want to chortle about in this instance is the fact that Harris is blaming conservatives for doing simply what the space/time continuum is making them do. If you have a right view of the cosmos, Harris has been arguing, you won't blame individuals for doing things that are completely outside their control, and then he proceeds immediately to the edifying task of blaming those who don't think this way.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 11:57 AM
Despite me sometimes posting some anti-Driscoll links, I do like the guy and am a bit sad he isn't on this board any more. But there is only so many things one person can do...: Driscoll Steps Down from TGC Council – The Gospel Coalition Blog:
Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle has recently announced he is stepping down from the Council of The Gospel Coalition. Mark let us know in advance of his intentions, part of a major reorganization of his priorities and a changing of the guard in Acts 29. We are saddened by his departure but understand that all busy people must establish priorities.
The Council is grateful to Mark for his contributions to TGC during the past decade. In the months and years ahead, we will certainly be praying for him, his family, and the ministries he influences.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 10:30 AM
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
A philosopher (and an atheist) reviews Krausses book and it isn't pretty: ‘A Universe From Nothing,’ by Lawrence M. Krauss - NYTimes.com:
Krauss, mind you, has heard this kind of talk before, and it makes him crazy. A century ago, it seems to him, nobody would have made so much as a peep about referring to a stretch of space without any material particles in it as “nothing.” And now that he and his colleagues think they have a way of showing how everything there is could imaginably have emerged from a stretch of space like that, the nut cases are moving the goal posts. He complains that “some philosophers and many theologians define and redefine ‘nothing’ as not being any of the versions of nothing that scientists currently describe,” and that “now, I am told by religious critics that I cannot refer to empty space as ‘nothing,’ but rather as a ‘quantum vacuum,’ to distinguish it from the philosopher’s or theologian’s idealized ‘nothing,’ ” and he does a good deal of railing about “the intellectual bankruptcy of much of theology and some of modern philosophy.” But all there is to say about this, as far as I can see, is that Krauss is dead wrong and his religious and philosophical critics are absolutely right. Who cares what we would or would not have made a peep about a hundred years ago? We were wrong a hundred years ago. We know more now. And if what we formerly took for nothing turns out, on closer examination, to have the makings of protons and neutrons and tables and chairs and planets and solar systems and galaxies and universes in it, then it wasn’t nothing, and it couldn’t have been nothing, in the first place. And the history of science — if we understand it correctly — gives us no hint of how it might be possible to imagine otherwise.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 9:15 AM
Monday, March 26, 2012
I got my hands on a ePub of this. Wilson does some good advertising for this book: The Next to Last Rock in the Avalanche:
Please note the precise nature of what I am saying. Harris is making sure that we know that if there is in fact no God, then of necessity it follows that there can be no atheists. An atheist, in case you are just joining us, is someone who affirms that there is no God because there isn't one, and not a person dealing with atheistical brain farts for no other reason than that they came to him out of the darkness of antecedent and inscrutable causes. Perfectly ingenious, and I follow his reasoning (if you can call it that, which you can't, but work with me here) exactly. I look forward to the time when Harris follows his reasoning too.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 2:50 PM
Our desire is not that the Bible should topple Angry Birds. Our goal is not that our favorite rock star preacher would trend on Twitter. Our hope is the sure and certain truth that our Lord is bringing all things under subjection, is conquering all His enemies, including all the folly that remains within His own. We don’t need diagnostics to know how the story ends- Jesus wins.Diagnosing Diagnostics by R.C. Sproul Jr. | Ligonier Ministries Blog
Posted by Andrew Vella at 2:33 PM
I'm going to have to think more on this. I always thought the cross did change God and the relationship between the Father and Son: Did God Die On The Cross? by R.C. Sproul | Ligonier Ministries Blog:
We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ. Somehow people tend to think that this lessens the dignity or the value of the substitutionary act, as if we were somehow implicitly denying the deity of Christ. God forbid. It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 12:28 PM
Interesting observation: Grace to You in Your Bible Reading; Grace with You as You Live Your Day - Desiring God:
In 1994 Pastor John began explaining a theme he noticed in the introductions and conclusions to all 13 of Paul’s epistles. Paul begins each epistle with grace, and he closes each epistle with grace. The pattern is “a bracing trumpet call to the centrality of grace in Christianity.”
Posted by Andrew Vella at 9:06 AM
Friday, March 23, 2012
What a good story: Atheist ‘flabbergasted’ at Christians’ assistance » Local News » Athens Review, Athens, Texas:
Greene said he was “flabbergasted” to learn that a group of Christians in Henderson County was reaching out to help an atheist, who in February had informed Commissioners Court that he would sue if the manger scene reappeared this year.
A good summary of the reliability of the text in the NT: An Interview with Daniel B. Wallace on the New Testament Manuscripts – Justin Taylor:
..the most significant find was a fragment from Mark’s Gospel, which a leading paleographer has dated to the first century!
What makes this so astounding is that no manuscripts of Mark even from the second century has surfaced. But here we may have a document written while some of the first-generation Christians were still alive and before the NT was even completed. All seven of these manuscripts will be published by E. J. Brill sometime in 2013 in a multi-author book. Until then, we should all be patient and have a “wait and see” attitude. When the book comes out it will be fully vetted by textual scholars.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 11:54 AM
Wilson is giving away the punchlines before I can find this book: Way Up in the Middle of the Air:
That blind shuffling of atoms produced Presbyterian thoughts in my head, and atheistic thoughts in his, but neither of us are thinking, any more than we are choosing.
Harris disclaims any authorship for his thoughts. What does that mean? It means that an impersonal blind chance wrote his book, which undercuts my confidence in its veracity, which in turn undercuts any reason for believing that it was written by blind processes.
Put it this way. Why did Harris drink a glass of water? He claims that he has absolutely no idea (p. 19). Now I have a real stumper for him, given all that he has been affirming here. Why does he affirm atheism? The answer has to be the same. He has to acknowledge that he has no idea. If atheism is the case, the first thing we should settle in our minds is the fact that the atheists don't and can't know it -- given the premises, knowing, arguing, choosing, and deciding are all as illusory as Farley's ghost....
If free will is an illusion, one of the first questions we should ask is how many other cherished illusions are there? One of those illusions is that Sam Harris thinks he wrote a book.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 11:41 AM
This looks like it was a good conference. Its a shame you cant download for free the audio, but still its free: Audio And Video Now Available — 2012 National Conference by Nathan W. Bingham | Ligonier Ministries Blog
Posted by Andrew Vella at 11:31 AM
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
I found this rather entertaining, perhaps I will get Harris new book, of cause not because I want to, but because I am programmed to: Sam Harris, Moist Robot:
since we modern deterministic rationalists know this to be true, we have no reason for believing our thoughts to be true . . . but this would have to include the true belief that our thoughts are chemicals steeping. Wait a minute. Playing chess alone, it is pretty hard to checkmate yourself, but I think they have managed it.
These high thinkers crack me up. They apply their worldview convictions to absolutely everything in the cosmos, with the one singular and miraculous exception of the mysterious processes that went into their statement of their thesis. That is being urged upon us because it is "true," and some of the brighter sophomores in the back row are scratching their heads. The brightest of them have already dropped the class last week and have changed majors over to mechanical engineering.
The Anglican Nigerian church didn't seem too happy with Rowan Williams, nor are they happy he has stepped down: Church of Nigeria on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to resign : Anglican Church League, Sydney, Australia:
Since Dr. Rowan Williams did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ‘mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start, as “two cannot walk together unless they have agreed”.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 11:46 AM
Thursday, March 15, 2012
If it was an earlier age, would this mindset of selective birth been seen as a legitimate lawsuit? The Wrongfulness of “Wrongful Birth” Lawsuits – The Gospel Coalition Blog:
Mrs. Levy said she had a prenatal test that showed they'd "have a normal, healthy child.
The Levys filed suit against Legacy Health, claiming that Deborah Levy would have aborted her pregnancy had she known her daughter had the chromosomal abnormality. The couple sued the hospital and lab for for the extra lifetime costs of caring for their daughter.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 4:08 PM
Wow, Wilson hammers the idea of a NIV study note bible by MacArthur: Wind-Sniffers and Mammon Monkeys | Sex and Culture:
This is not becauses MacArthur hasn't had a faithful ministry over many decades. He most certainly has. It is that very fact that sets up such a weird juxtaposition. It is not that the notes aren't good. I am sure they are. But that's the heart of the problem. I wouldn't ever want to use a Bible where the notes were more faithful than the text. Wouldn't seem right somehow.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 3:47 PM
Interesting movie, is it really gambling if you have the skills to make money? Casinos, Cash, and Christian Card-Counters – The Gospel Coalition Blog:
a group of Christians who use their skill at card-counting---keeping track of all the cards seen in blackjack, and then adjusting bets accordingly---to gain an advantage over casinos. The members, who called themselves the "church group", believed what they were doing was consistent with their faith because they felt they were using legal means to take money away from an evil enterprise.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 2:45 PM
A good overview of the issue. Just a few weeks ago I argued for the 3rd category: What Happens to Children Who Die? | Challies Dot Com:
"What happens to infants who die? This is an issue almost every Christian faces at some point during his pilgrimage and it is one for which there is no easy answer. What’s more, surveying the writings of the great Christians of the past or present produces no clear consensus. Here are the predominant views found amongst believers:"
Posted by Andrew Vella at 10:53 AM
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
A long and helpful interview with Jensen about his past mistakes in ministry: The mistakes of Phillip Jensen | The Briefing:
I’ve made lots of mistakes. But I don’t regret mistakes. I say sorry, I ask for forgiveness, I fix what can be fixed, and I move on. I try to learn from mistakes, but I don’t live in regret about them."
Posted by Andrew Vella at 2:47 PM
A better understanding of the Roman Catholic Mass: Chris Castaldo » Blog Archive » Three Misnomers to Avoid:
I want to underscore the need for us Protestants to use the proper terms. You know that feeling you get when you hear an adversary of Protestantism reduce the doctrine of faith alone to mere cheap grace (i.e., walk an aisle, say a prayer, be an anti-nomian slug…)? It’s inaccurate, unfair, and your respect for such a person’s argument is naturally diminished. Well, this is essentially what happens when we misrepresent the Mass. Fruitful gospel conversations require us to get the facts straight.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 2:15 PM
A nice connection between live tweeting and 1 Cor 14:29: Preaching: to tweet or not to tweet | The Briefing:
And I am certainly not sure the latter – especially when made instantly public – is appropriate from those sitting under the Word. Certainly 1 Cor 14:29 suggests it is the job of the “others” to weigh what is said. But I suspect these “others” are most likely the prophets, or the congregational elders. So if anyone is to tweet during a sermon at Moore College, maybe it should be the other lecturers!
Posted by Andrew Vella at 12:42 PM
The logic is simple, but logic alone does not give any answers other than its premises. The argument is not about logic but about the basic premise of ethics. It is just as logical to argue the reverse case: given that killing the newborn is murder, so is killing of the unborn. If infanticide is “after-birth abortion” then abortion is “pre-birth infanticide”. If you find killing a newborn unacceptable, then killing the unborn should be unacceptable as well. The difference in opinion is not a difference of logic, but a difference of basic premise. The atheist has to answer the question: “If God did not create us in his image then what is the basis for our right to life?” Professor Singer and his colleagues say it is not that we are human, but that we are persons.Articles | After-birth Abortion: Atheist Ethics at Work | Phillip Jensen
Posted by Andrew Vella at 12:39 PM
A quick overview of the different end times positions: Jesus is Coming Back When? – The Gospel Coalition Blog:
Not surprisingly, there are few areas of Christian theology more contentious or confusing than eschatology, the study of the end times. Should the Book of Revelation be interpreted literally or metphorically? Will Christ establish his Kingdom on earth or has his millenial reign already begun? Within evangelicalism there are four general points of agreement and four general perspectives on eschatology.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 12:33 PM
Monday, March 5, 2012
Get a tatt for lent: Inking for Jesus: Dozens of church members take Lenten tattoo challenge – CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs:
He asked them to get tattoos. Specifically, he asked congregants to get a tattoo corresponding with one of the Stations of the Cross, the collection of images that depict scenes in Jesus’ journey to his crucifixion.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 3:46 PM
Interesting point, but it maybe a very middle class argument. The poor are the ones who suffer when important (essential?) goods increase in price: Why Are Gas Prices So High? by R.C. Sproul Jr. | Ligonier Ministries Blog:
Why is it, I wonder, that those who complain against the oil companies or futures traders when gas is going up in price never sing their praises when prices are going down? When consumers grumble about greed, at least in a free market, they don’t realize that their own greed is showing. We are not owed gas, at this price or that price. No one is cheating us or gouging us when we freely buy their goods, whatever the price. Our calling, at all times, is to give thanks. There is one who knows not only today’s and tomorrow’s gas prices, but knows that we need food, and clothing. And He told us to stop our fretting, to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Would that we hungered for these more than we hunger for lower prices.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 1:02 PM
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Wow, is this the result of the slippery slope argument that many people said was coming while others said that would never happen? After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? -- Giubilini and Minerva -- Journal of Medical Ethics:
Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 7:34 PM
I'm pretty sure in Australia in some government survey it less than 2% said they were gay, looks like it maybe the same in the US: Stand to Reason Blog: Is 10% of the Population Homosexual?:
Clearly the 10% figure isn’t credible, but accurately estimating the homosexual population can be elusive. One problem is how you determine who is “homosexual.” Do only lifelong homosexuals fit the definition? Should people who have had a single homosexual encounter be included? Does someone who experiences homoerotic dreams count? How one defines “homosexual” affects the prevalence estimate.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 5:08 PM
Friday, March 2, 2012
I would also say that a sermon is not a movie, and shouldn't be watched on a screen at church: A Sermon Is Not a Computer Printout:
"It is indispensible that a minister . . . know men, too, as well as books. Many ministers are altogether too 'bookish.' They fail of influence from not knowing the material they have to operate upon. The heart of man must be interpreted, as well as the Word of God, by him who would have power over an audience. He must be thoroughly acquainted with human nature -- must know the feelings of men of all classes and conditions, and all the springs of action, and avenues to the soul" (Fish, Power in the Pulpit, pp. 12-13).
Posted by Andrew Vella at 10:01 AM
I'm 25 mins and they are all quite civil and they have British accents (I believe anything a British person tell me so I don't know who to believe...): Dialogue with Richard Dawkins, Rowan Williams and Anthony Kenny - YouTube
Posted by Andrew Vella at 9:48 AM
Thursday, March 1, 2012
John Dickson got something up on TGC: The Myths of Progress and Relevance – The Gospel Coalition Blog:
If the Bible affirmed what every passing culture believed, that would surely reveal that it was not a body of wisdom for every culture through all time. Imagine, however, that there was a book containing eternal wisdom for all cultures. What should we expect to find? We would discover that it was always at odds with every culture at some point, for cultures are always in flux, sometimes coinciding with the Truth, sometimes departing from it.
Posted by Andrew Vella at 9:28 PM