"What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism." - G.K. Chesterton

Friday, August 31, 2007

Dawkins and McGrath

As Alex is busy with his studies and I'm busy debating the merits of drinking urine, I thought I'd post this video of Richard Dawkins and Alister McGrath debating the existence and nature of God:


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm busy debating the merits of drinking urine

Sounds like a piece of piss, boom boom.

12:40 PM

Blogger Alex said...

I am becoming more and more concerned with the amount of time you spend on line with each passing day...

9:50 PM

Blogger Just Thinking said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:24 AM

Blogger Matt M said...

Welcome to the blog, Just Thinking.

I hope I don't come across as "just playing around and poking fun at God". To be perfectly honest, I doubt that there's much that could be said to change my mind about the existence of divine beings. I can't rule them out, but none of the arguments I've come across (from the likes of Aquinas, Lewis, etc.) strike me as convincing. But I truly value the conversations I have here for two reasons: 1) my views on the universe, morality, etc. have really developed and been sharpened through the exchanges I've had, and 2) I'm (hopefully) learning how to interact with those who see differently to me on important issues in a way that maximises what we have in common and minimises conflict.

8:35 AM

Blogger Just Thinking said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:15 AM

Blogger Lord Nazh© said...

"but none of the arguments I've come across (from the likes of Aquinas, Lewis, etc.) strike me as convincing."

That should be your most convincing arugment in favor :)

12:31 PM

Blogger Just Thinking said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:08 PM

Blogger Matt M said...

I didn't take it as an insult - we've learnt the value of being direct around here.

If I get the chance I'll check out Chopra.

5:35 AM

Blogger Alex said...

Hey Just Thinking,
Glad to hear you are enjoying our ongoing debate and/or exploration!

You say: "Only personal experience can make you a true believer."

to this I'd have to say: yes, but...

I would agree that faith in God comes as a result of "direct" (read: beyond the senses) revelation. There is undoubtedly a spiritual dimension were God seeks to interact directly with our heart... the very core of our being. From what I have seen God is seeking to reveal himself to all mankind, yet being the free agents I believe we are, we often do not respond to him. Love is freely offered. Love is freely rejected.

now for the big "but"

Often times (The Mormons in particular) certain faith groups will seek to establish a set of knowledge purely on the basis of "direct revelation". Sure the book of Mormon lacks a single shred of shred of support in modern archeology, but all you need to do is pray to God and he will reveal it's truth to you. I see this sort of thinking as wrongheaded from the get go. Most any religious clan claims direct experience of the divine. Does this then validate all manor of deity man claims to have knowledge of? I should hope not. To the degree we use the direct model as a stand alone justification of knowledge, we are walking on dangerously thin ice.

In my view faith is a holistic thing. It's the harmonizing of the mind, the will, and the emotions. All must be invited to the party.

11:39 AM

Blogger Just Thinking said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:27 PM

Blogger Alex said...

Hey Just Thinking,
"Wow! You guys are in an entirely different debating league than myself."

Flattery will get you nowhere. ;-)

"how do you get connected with all these British people?"

Heh, funny isn't it? You can read the back story from the very beginning of this blog here.

"all I was trying to point out was that no one can be "talked" into believing in God by another human being..."

agreed. Yet I will disagree with those who say that reason and rigorous thought can play no role in the process. On the other hand, any system that says we can simply "think" our way to God without allowing him to reveal himself to us is equally wrong headed. You have fideism on one hand and rationalism on the other. I think they are both pointing towards important truths, yet each tends towards and unreasonable extreme.

"But I still have to say that when the mind is transformed, the will and the emotions follow"

I see it like this: At the very core of who we are is what we call our "heart". It is this very aspect of ourselves that is what "chooses". God speaks to the heart of all people in many different ways. To the degree that we respond to the knowledge of God that he seeks to reveal to us, we are allowing him to bring our whole self into alignment with his nature. The total self is involved, but it begins with a prompting by God and the acceptance by us at the very core of our being.

Does that make any sense?

7:40 AM

Blogger Just Thinking said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:40 AM

Blogger Sir James Robison said...

Dawkins is a total dork. And people pay good money to listen to his drivel?

8:09 AM

Blogger Alex said...

In response to McGrath's odd stumble around the "God saving the one child", I find Martin Marty articulates my reaction well:

"I find the most offensive kind of prayer when 250 Marines get killed ... and four survive, and their families go on television and say, 'We really prayed, so they were spared.' That's an unbiblical game. It's magic; it's superstition. I like the matter-of-factness of Jesus when asked about the man born blink, and Jesus says, '"Did he sin or did his parents?" you ask. He was just born blind.' Things just happen. It rains on the just and unjust alike."

7:58 AM

Blogger Alex said...

Hey just thinking...
(I can't seem to get over how odd it is referring to another human being with a phrase rather than a name!)

It seems you and I are sliding into the well worn ruts of the Calvinism vs. Armenian debate. So in the interest of clarity, allow me to tip my hand and explain myself.

I see that there is a necessary place for that of "choice" when it comes to Christian theology. As I read through the Bible the idea of "choosing" is presupposed in almost everything that is written.

You say: "When you find yourself gasping for air and God gives you oxygen, who would "choose" not to breathe it in?"

I see what you are driving at here, but I think the analogy is flawed. We were created to love God. That is our highest end. But love MUST be free! Consider a relationship where the beloved rejects the lover. The love from the lover will feel as though poison to the one who rejects it. So its not a matter of a sustaining force (such as air) but a matter of love, which must be chosen to be genuine.

The way I see it, either we will respond to the tugging on our hearts (that all humanity experiences), or we will become a people in love with our own image... chasing after the illusion that we might be "like God".

Another reason I am compelled to reject the notion that we have no choice is the reality that many do indeed reject God. If grace were irresistible, then those who ultimately reject God were simply created for destruction. Their blood is on God's hands. It is no fault of their own, but the fault of God for not saving them though he had the power to do so. I have a difficult time reconciling this with a God who is love. Even though Romans 9 seems to indicate this, there remains much hard work to be done so that it can be held in in tension with other passages (such as 1 Timothy 2:4) which indicate God's desire for ALL to come to know his truth.

"BTW, it was not intended as flattery. It was just at audible gasp of awe and intimidation... :)"

Oh stop it you! ;-)

8:30 AM

Blogger Just Thinking said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:19 AM

Blogger Alex said...

yes that's much better! Thanks! As for Matt... well he really does look like that. It's a rare degenerative condition they have going over there in Britain. Something to to with the water. Try and be gentle with him. ;-)

"I believe we were created to BE LOVED by God"

Well sure. I would go along with this as well.

"love or not to love?"

We must keep in mind though that the child will not remain a child forever. He/she is progressing onward. The child also does not exist in a vacuum with the parent, but is assailed by numerous temptations as they grow older. If the child chooses self over love, the love of this parent will become as poison. Sure it's stupid and self-destructive, but you do indeed see cases of this where a child form a well adjusted home will reject love for the sake of personal gratification.

"When the child hears the loving voice of the parent and recognizes that love as unconditional, wouldn’t the child merely react to it rather than make a conscious choice?"

In the beginning yes it is more of a reaction than a choice, but as we mature we come to see that true love is a choice much more than it is a reaction. As a married woman I'd suspect you know what I mean by that.

But really my main objection comes back to the reality that if salvation by faith is not free and many do not receive it, then God is culpable for their lack of reception. A god who could transform all through his love, but chooses not to, is not a God of love. This sort of god would be capricious at best and down right evil at worst. From what I know of God through Jesus, that sort of god simply does not exist.

"Oh, and when you referred to 1 Timothy 2:4, were you secretly leading me down to verses 11 and 12? (Relax! I'm just kidding!!)(But to be honest, I never noticed that before…:))"

Yish! Ya, you take that one out of context and you have something to wrestle with. I think this passage nicely illustrates the dangers of a "me jesus and the bible" approach to Biblical interpretation. I think our "out" here involves keeping in mind the occasional nature of the Epistles as well as the vastly far removed culture in which this text occurred. There is also simply much we don't know surrounding the context that Paul composed that text in. I would be very hesitant to make vv.11-12 normative in todays culture. Even so, I find the "through childbearing" bit to be troublesome... Even so, we must interpret isolated and rather odd passages in light of more prevalent and clear scripture. In this case, I would then need to conclude that this passage (whatever it means) cannot overrule prior revelation that salvation is through faith in God, through Jesus. (not childbearing) Isn't hermeneutics fun?

9:06 AM


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