Bill Maher proves atheism does not guarantee rational thinking

[this is a sample of text from the book “Living on the edge” by Jonathan Burke]

 

Bill Maher proves atheism does not guarantee rational thinking

English: Bill Maher attending a ceremony to re...

Bill Maher attending a ceremony to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arch-skeptic Bill Maher, famous for his anti-religious stance, has spoken out repeatedly in opposition to Western medicine, in particular against vaccination. In his show ‘Real Time With Bill Maher’ (4 March, 2005), Maher said he did not believe in vaccination, and made the false claim that Louis Pasteur had recanted the germ theory of disease.[1]

In his comments on the Larry King Live show (15 December, 2005), Maher claimed that ‘A flu shot is the worst thing you can do’, that flu vaccinations don’t prevent flu, and that repeated flu shots increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.[2]In a 2008 interview on ‘Late Night With David Letterman’, Maher opposed Western medicine and dismissed medical journals.[3]

In an interview on his own show with a heart surgeon (9 October 2009), Maher denied the efficacy of the swine flu vaccine, denied the value of vaccines, and expressed doubt that the swine flu was dangerous.[4] [5]

During the same show, Maher expressed the view that pregnant women should not receive the swine flu vaccination.[6] In a later interview with HBO, Maher insisted he does not deny the germ theory of disease, nor that vaccines can be efficacious in some circumstances, but still maintained his anti-vaccination stance and said he would not be vaccinated himself.[7]

Maher also wrote an enthusiastic endorsement of the book ‘What If Everything You Thought You Knew about AIDS Was Wrong?’ (4th rev. ed. 2006), by Christine Maggiore.[8]   Maggiore’s book denied that HIV causes AIDS, and insisted that people who appear to die from AIDS-related complications in fact die from lack of general health, and illness caused by factors unrelated to HIV or AIDS.[9] Maggiore’s claims have been dismissed by the professional medical consensus, and she was condemned by doctors for contributing to AIDS-related deaths resulting from promotion of her ideas.[10]

In 2009 the Atheist Alliance International presented Maher with the ‘Richard Dawkins Award’ (an award unrelated to Dawkins’ own ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science’). The award is granted each year to ‘an outstanding atheist’ on the basis of criteria including the promotion of ‘public awareness of the nontheist life stance’, and the advocating of ‘increased scientific knowledge’.[11]

This decision was publicized and criticized widely by a number of high profile atheists and skeptics.[12] [13] [14] [15] [16] On 21 July 2009, Richard Dawkins posted a response pointing out that the award had been granted by an organization unrelated to his own, but acknowledged he had been contacted over the decision, agreed with it, and defended it.[17] Dawkins’ defense of the award has also been criticized by prominent skeptics.[18] [19] [20]

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Albert Edelfelt - Louis Pasteur - 1885

Albert Edelfelt – Louis Pasteur – 1885 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[1] ‘I don’t believe in vaccination either. That’s a… well, that’s a… what? That’s another theory that I think is flawed, that we go by the Louis Pasteur theory, even though Louis Pasteur renounced it on his own deathbed and said that Beauchamp(s) was right: it’s not the invading germs, it’s the terrain. It’s not the mosquitoes, it’s the swamp that they are breeding in.’, transcript, ‘Real Time With Bill Maher’, 5 March, 2005.

[2] ‘MAHER: I’m not into western medicine. That to me is a complete scare tactic. It just shows you, you can…  KING: You mean you don’t get a — you don’t get a flu shot? MAHER: A flu shot is the worst thing you can do. KING: Why? MAHER: Because it’s got — it’s got mercury. KING: It prevents flu. MAHER: It doesn’t prevent. First of all, that’s… KING: I haven’t had the flu in 25 years since I’ve been taking a flu shot. MAHER: Well, I hate to tell you, Larry, but if you have a flu shot for more than five years in a row, there’s ten times the likelihood that you’ll get Alzheimer’s disease. I would stop getting your… KING: What did you say? MAHER: That went better in rehearsal but it was still good. Absolutely, no the defense against disease is to have a strong immune system. A flu shot just compromises your immune system.’, transcript, Larry King Live, 15 December, 2005.

[3] ‘Maher: You know, I do love health as an issue. This is what I read about when I have time off. Letterman: Are you interested in medical journals and that sort of thing? Maher: Not Western medicine, I think we’re being poisoned…I would love for you to investigate the possibility that your health issues might have arisen from the fact that you’re being poisoned by America.’, transcript, Late Night With David Letterman (2008).

[4] ‘Mr. Maher: Why would you let them be the ones to stick a disease into your arm? I would never get a swine flu vaccine or any vaccine. I don’t trust the government, especially with my health. Dr. Frist: On the swine flu, I know you really believe that. And let me just … Mr. Maher: (interrupting) You say that like I’m a crazy person. Dr. Frist: Well, here you are. I think here you are.’, transcript, ‘Real Time With Bill Maher’, 9 October, 2009.

[5] ‘Mr. Maher: This is not a very serious flu. Let’s be honest. There must be something more to this. I cannot believe that a perfectly healthy person died of this swine flu. That person was not perfectly healthy. Western medicine misses a lot.’, ibid.

[6] ‘Dr. Frist: I know you don’t believe this, but I’m telling you the facts. Because if you send a signal out telling pregnant women not to get this vaccine … Mr. Maher: (interrupting) I do.  Dr. Frist: Well, you’re wrong. I’m serious.’, ibid.

[7] ‘What I’ve read about what they think I’m saying is not what I’ve said. I’m not a germ theory denier. I believe vaccinations can work. Polio is a good example. Do I think in certain situations that inoculating Third World children against malaria or diphtheria, or whatever, is right? Of course. In a situation like that, the benefits outweigh costs. But to me living in Los Angeles? To get a flu shot? No.’, Slotek, ‘Needling Bill Maher’, Winnipeg Sun, 28 October, 2009.

[8] ‘This is a book everyone should read, and not a moment too soon! One of the most corrosive flaws in America is our tendency toward conformity; in the quest to understand AIDS, it has been stifling. Christine Maggiore prompts the kind of questioning that is the lifeblood of scientific inquiry.’, http://www.aliveandwell.org/html/top_bar_pages/whatif_eng.html.

[9] In 1992 Maggiore tested positive for HIV, but insisted she never had AIDS; a daughter subsequently born to her died on 16 May 2005 (the autopsy revealing HIV, and evidence of AIDS-related death), and Maggiore herself died on 27 December 2008 (although there was no autopsy or biopsy, Maggiore’s death certificate indicates contributing causes which are congruent with HIV infection and AIDS-relatead death).

[10] ‘AIDS researchers and public health advocates have overwhelmingly condemned her work and personal life as deadly. “They caused the death of thousands of South Africans by delaying treatment and spreading infections,” said Dr. Charlie van der Horst, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Van der Horst referred to a journal study that estimated 330,000 lives were lost to new AIDS infections during the time Mbeki blocked government funding of AZT treatment to mothers.’, Cox, ‘Death of an AIDS Skeptic’, ABC News Medical Unit, 1 January 2009.

[11] ‘The Richard Dawkins Award will be given every year to honor an outstanding atheist whose contributions raise public awareness of the nontheist life stance; who through writings, media, the arts, film, and/or the stage advocates increased scientific knowledge; who through work or by example teaches acceptance of the nontheist philosophy; and whose public posture mirrors the uncompromising nontheist life stance of Dr. Richard Dawkins.’, Atheist Alliance International, 6 May 2011.

[12] ‘Don’t you think you’d better find out about the stances he’s taken on medical questions, Professor Dawkins? After all, Bill Maher is going to be given an award with your name on it, but his level of rationality when it comes to science is more appropriate for the homeopath and alternative medicine mavens you interviewed in part 2 of Enemies of Reason than for the recipient of an award that bears your name. Heck, his level of rationality when it comes to medicine is more appropriate for Deepak Chopra (whom you also interviewed in Enemies of Reason) than it is for a recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award. No, I’m not exaggerating, either. There’s a very good reason why a number of people are ticked off at Maher’s receiving this award.’, Orac, ‘Bill Maher gets the Richard Dawkins Award? That’s like Jenny McCarthy getting an award for public health’, 23 July 2009.

[13]‘Maybe some of the people attending the Atheist Alliance International Convention can educate Professor Dawkins about just what an anti-science loon is being given an award, part of the criteria for which is to champion science and reason.’, ibid.

[14] ‘Thanks to an anti-religion movie (Religulous) and his frequent stance as a “skeptic,” many of my fellow skeptics consider him one of our own, even to the point of giving him an award named after Richard Dawkins. Yet, when it comes to medicine, nothing could be further from the truth. Maher’s own words show that he has anti-vaccine views, flirts with germ theory denialism and HIV/AIDS denialism, buys into extreme conspiracy theories about big pharma, and promotes animal rights pseudoscience. That’s not a skeptic or a supporter of science-based medicine.’, Gorski, ‘“Oh, come on, Superman!”: Bill Maher versus “Western medicine”’, 7 September, 2009.

[15] ‘Note one of the major criteria for the award: “Advocates increased scientific knowledge.” Certainly Maher earns an EPIC FAIL on that aspect, at least. Given that Richard Dawkins made an excellent two-part documentary about pseudoscience for the BBC, entitled The Enemies of Reason, the second part of which was primarily about quackery and medical pseudoscience, you’d think that he’d be unhappy about having an award bearing his name be given to a person who would not have been out of place as one of the quacks that Dawkins skewered in the second half of his documentary, The Irrational Health Service.’, ibid.

[16] ‘Giving the Richard Dawkins Award to Maher was the equivalent of giving a prominent advocate of creationism and intelligent design a science award because of their opposition to the 911 truther movement. I suspect that such a decision would not sit well with Richard Dawkins and some others who were perceived to be soft on AAI’s decision. The analogies to Miller and Hitchens are not apt – Maher is so far outside the scientific mainstream on medicine that it is incongruous to give him any science award.’, Novella, ‘Bill Maher Followup’, 12 October 2009.

[17] ‘The Richard Dawkins Award (RDA) has no connection with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS). The RDA was instituted by the Atheist Alliance International (AAI) several years before RDFRS was founded, or even thought of. This year, the committee of AAI took the decision to give the RDA to Bill Maher. They asked me, as an individual, if I approved, and I was delighted to do so because I find him, and especially Religulous, very funny. I know nothing of any stance he may have taken on medical questions. This year, RDFRS agreed to jointly sponsor the annual conference of AAI. The decision to do so had nothing to do with the AAI’s decision to give the RDA to Bill Maher.’, Dawkins, 21 July 2009.

[18] ‘In essence, the great Richard Dawkins, the man who is viewed as standing up for science and reason against the forces of superstition and pseudoscience, the man who made a documentary largely about medical pseudoscience (The Enemies of Reason) that contained one of the best illustrations of why homeopathy is nonsense I’ve ever seen, in essence pled ignorance. That in and of itself wouldn’t have been so bad. What was so shocking to me was that, given his history and prior stances on medical pseudoscience, Dawkins showed such an utter lack of curiosity over whether there was anything to the allegations against the person receiving an award that bears his name. In other words, he came across as simply not really caring much about whether Maher promoted anti-vaccine views and quackery or not, as long as Maher was against religion.’, Gorski, ‘“Oh, come on, Superman!”: Bill Maher versus “Western medicine”’.

[19] ‘It’s a shame that neither Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, the Atheist Alliance International, nor a fair fraction of other self-proclaimed “skeptics” seems to “get it” with regard to this simple fact. From Maher, I don’t expect any better. Richard Dawkins and the Atheist Alliance, however, should know that actions speak louder than words, and right now their actions belie their dedication to science and the promotion of scientific knowledge.’, ibid.

[20] ‘On RichardDawkins.net Josh Timonen gave was [sic] appears to be the official defense of the decision: [“]Whilst Richard was not involved in the decision, he is nevertheless happy to go along with it. Just as he worked with Bishop Harries to protest against creationist schools in the UK, and just as he regularly recommends Kenneth Miller’s books on evolution to religious people, he understands that it is not a prerequisite to agree with a person on all issues in order to unite in support of a common objective. Richard and Christopher Hitchens don’t see eye to eye on all political matters, but that doesn’t stop them from working together against the dangers of religion. Honoring the creation of ‘Religulous’ does not imply endorsement of all of Bill Maher’s other views, and does not preclude Richard’s arguing against them on future occasions. It is simply showing proper appreciation of his brilliant film.[”] This misses the point, in my opinion. If the award were solely for Religulous, and that were clear, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with it. But the award specifically cites “science” as a necessary criterion for the award’, Novella, ‘Bill Maher Followup’, 12 October 2009.

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Were Gnostics the original Christians?

[this is a sample of text from the book “Living on the edge” by Jonathan Burke]

 

Were Gnostics the original Christians?

There is no evidence that Gnostics were the first Christians, or that the earliest Christians borrowed from Gnostic beliefs; Gnosticism did not even exist in the first century.[1] No Gnostic documents have been found which pre-date Christianity.[2] [3]

The earliest Gnostic written works found, all date to a time long after Christianity was well established.[4] There is no evidence that any New Testament books contain references to Gnosticism,[5] [6] and no evidence that Gnosticism was a rival to the earliest Christians.[7]

Gnosticism did not exist in the first century, only pre-Gnostic ideas which later became incorporated into Gnosticism during the second century.[8]

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[1] ‘But it is now widely agreed that the quest for a pre-Christian Gnosticism, properly so called, has proved to be a wild goose chase.’, Dunn, ‘The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul’, p. 9 (2003).

[2] ‘Even if it could be proven that any of the previously discussed works or, for that matter, any of the NH tractates are non-Christian Gnostic documents, that would not in itself be evidence for pre-Christian Gnosticism.’, Combs, ‘Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism and New Testament Interpretation’, Grace Theological Journal (8.2.207-208), 1987.

[3] ‘And even if we are on solid ground in some cases in arguing the original works represented in the library are much older than extant copies, we are still unable to postulate plausibly any pre-Christian dates.’, McRae, ‘Nag Hammadi and the New Testament’, pp. 146–47, in Combs, ‘Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism and New Testament Interpretation’, Grace Theological Journal (8.2.208) , (1987).

[4] ‘Egypt has yielded early written evidence of Jewish, Christian, and pagan religion. It has preserved works of Manichaean and other Gnostic sects, but these are all considerably later than the rise of Christianity.’, Unger, ‘The Role of Archaeology  in the Study Of the New Testament’, Bibliotheca Sacra (116.462.153), 1996.

[5] ‘Some modern researchers suggest that several NT and related texts evidence contact with “Gnosticism” in various stages of its development. Texts that especially stand out are Paul’s Corinthian correspondence, Colossians, Ephesians, the Pastoral Epistles, Jude, 2 Peter, and the letters of Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. 115) and Polycarp of Smyrna (d. ca. 165) among others. But even here the issues discussed are diverse, demonstrating a complex assortment of competing new religious movements, but no evidence of “Gnosticism.”’, Freedman, ‘Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible’, p. 509 (2000).

[6] ‘Scholarship must in all likelihood abandon the hypothesis that a cohesive Gnostic movement204 is reflected in Paul’s letters.’, Lüdeman, ‘Primitive Christianity: A Survey of Recent Studies and Some New Proposals’, p. 150 (2003).

[7] ‘If in all likelihood, with the possible exception of the Simonians, there was no such thing as a rival Gnostic movement within or competing with Pauline Christianity, the question arises whether there ever was a specific Gnostic myth as an entity of its own.’ , ibid’, p. 151.

[8] ‘The full-fledged Gnosticism of later church history did not exist in the first century A.D.21 An incipient form of Gnosticism was present, but Schmithals makes the error of reading later Gnosticism into the first century documents.’, Schreiner, ‘Interpreting the Pauline Epistles’, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (3.3.10), Fall 1999.

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Additional note:

Tim Wallace I remember when I did ‘text and traditions’ in year 12, the teacher explaining the the gospel of John was all about fighting gnostism… i vaguely remember learning about it. I had never heard about gnostism until that class.

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Living On The Edge It was an idea which gained some traction years ago, and took a while to be debunked. It hasn’t been taken seriously by the scholarly consensus for years, but plenty of textbooks are still being used which make this claim.

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Additional reading:

  1. Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences
  2. Missionaire hermeneutiek 1/5
  3. Challenging claim 1 Whose word
  4. The Song of The Lamb #3 Daniel and Revelation
  5. Marriage of Jesus 9 Reason for a new marriage

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  • Gnostic Media Flashback Interview: The Qabalah – Gene Odening (sgtreport.com)
    We continue our discussion on the Trivium and Quadrivium and go for a full-blown as we complete this series with the Qabalah and the mystery schools with Gene Odening.
  • Real Truth Will Set You Free (mylordmyfriend.com)
    in Colossians, the Apostle Paul, had to deal with false teaching called Gnosticism

    Gnosticism led to theological compromise, we can’t comprise The Truth of God’s Word. One of the compromises of Gnosticism was Christ Jesus was not unique, which opposes the Gospel message. If Christ is not so, Christianity is no worse but certainly no better than any other faith.

    Another compromise of Gnosticism, it lead to moral abuse, with a catch cry ‘Soma sema’, ‘The body is a tomb’. Our bodies are not tombs for the soul, but temples for The Holy Spirit to reside.

    Another compromise of Gnosticism led to false religious practices. Treating religious rules as if these rules could lead to God. If that wasn’t bad enough, early Gnosticism claimed that those who followed their teaching possessed wisdom {gnosis} and were superior.

  • An Ancient Theologian explains Tradition (notforitchingears.com) Originally posted on Dead Heroes Don’t Save:
    Irenaeus, a 2nd century theologian, defended Christianity from the Gnostic philosophies that were popular at the time. His 5 volume work, Against Heresies, dedicates the first two volumes to describing the Gnostic views and then precedes to dismantle them in the remaining volumes.
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    The heretics did not just offer a different worldview. They were using Scriptures to uphold their ideas – which centered on two gods – a good one and an evil one. It was the evil god who created the physical world that we must rid ourselves of.
  • Carl Jung: “Christ was referred to as the fish.” (carljungdepthpsychology.blogspot.com)
    Christ was referred to as the fish.

    In a papyrus which has recently been discovered and is in the British Museum he is referred to by the secret sign XP.

    The sign >!( is formed from it.

    These signs appear in Gnosticism, St. Paul’s sayings are undoubtedly connected with Gnosticism.

    On Gnostic gems we find the symbol of the vase, the vase of sin.

    The Gnosis is a disturber of the peace of the Church, but it is full of psychological truths, many yet undiscovered.

  • A Masonic One World Conspiracy – Freeman on GW Radio (gnosticwarrior.com)
    Freeman has lectured extensively on the secret signs and symbolism of Freemasonry, the ancient astronaut hypothesis, trauma-based mind control, social engineering, government conspiracy, human cloning, technologies of the future, and synchronicity.
  • New blog at Occult Minds (heterodoxology.com)
    esotericism scholars can learn from some of their colleagues studying Gnosticism.
  • Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography by Douglas Campbell (Eerdmans, 2014) (andygoodliff.typepad.com)

    Too often Pauline scholarship operates with no overarching frame, no account of how the letters are related to one another, the order they come in and the underlying account of Paul’s life which explains their contingency. Campbell’s argument is that a biography, that arises out of the data in the letters, and at the same time explains them, this will ‘ground all subsequent interpretative work on Paul rather more accurately and firmly than hitherto has been the case’ (p.404).

    Campbell argues that to construct Paul’s biography we must begin with his letters and leave to one side the account of Paul’s life in the Book of Acts. We must begin with the primary data. Too many Pauline scholars too readily accept the account in Acts or work with an approach that borrows both from Acts and the letters as equal sources. Campbell’s approach builds on that done by John Knox and John Hurd.

Is faith rational?

[this is a sample of text from the book “Living on the edge” by Jonathan Burke]

Is faith rational?

Faith is confidence for a reason. Everyone understands faith in this sense, as applied to ordinary matters. It is the same in divine matters. There is no truth in the popular view that places faith outside the confines of reason.’[1]

A typical dictionary definition rightly informs us that faith is belief which is not based on proof.[2] However, this is not the same as saying faith is blind, or that faith is belief for no reason, or that faith is not based on evidence.

Blind Faith (film)

Blind Faith (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Proof is a body of evidence which demonstrates a belief or statement to be conclusively true (typically through testing); evidence is a body of facts which provide rational reason for belief, without being conclusive. Faith is belief on the basis of evidence, where actual proof is absent.

There are many aspects of our faith which we cannot prove: we cannot prove the existence of many of the characters of the Bible, and many of the events recorded there; we cannot prove the resurrection took place; we cannot even prove the existence of God.

In each of these cases we have no opportunity to test the claim and prove it conclusively. However, in each of these cases there is sufficient evidence to warrant belief. We do not hold these beliefs without any evidence whatsoever. Throughout the Bible repeated appeals are made repeatedly to evidence, in support of truth claims; eyewitness accounts,[3] [4] verifiable historical monuments,[5] and direct personal experiences.[6] Blind faith is never encouraged.[7] [8] [9]

Early Christians appealed to evidence in order to argue that their faith was rational. Accordingly, the earliest defenders of Christianity (known as the Apologists), presented it as rational and worthy of belief,[10] and in harmony with science,[11] which appealed to thoughtful non-Christians.

The 4th century Latin commentary known by the name ‘Ambrosiaster’, identifies prophecy as ‘the first proof that our faith is rational’.[12] The famous 13th century theologian Thomas Aquinas likewise argued that faith is rational and that reason could be used to demonstrate theological truths.[13] Christian belief, if it is to be both rational and defensible, must be based on a faith which is not blind. [14]

‘The certainty of and trust in the Christian faith cannot be made hard in a scientific, deductive or inductive way. But neither is it based on arbitrary opinion.’[15]

 

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[1] Roberts, ‘The Visible Hand of God Or Miracles, Signs, And Wonders’, The Christadelphian (18.199.16), 1881.

[2] ‘1 complete trust or confidence. 2 strong belief in a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.’, Concise Oxford English Dictionary (11th ed. 2004).

[3] John 3:11 I tell you the solemn truth, we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony.

[4] Acts 5:30 The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you seized and killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these events, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

[5] Deuteronomy 3:11 Only King Og of Bashan was left of the remaining Rephaites. (It is noteworthy that his sarcophagus was made of iron. Does it not, indeed, still remain in Rabbath of the Ammonites? It is thirteen and a half feet long and six feet wide according to standard measure.)

[6] Acts 10:39 We are witnesses of all the things he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him up on the third day and caused him to be seen, 41 not by all the people, but by us, the witnesses God had already chosen, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

[7] ‘It required a robust faith to undertake a journey of four months, cumbered with women and children, and the valuable vessels of the temple, lying through a country infested with robbers and enemies of the Jews, without making every possible arrangement for protection. But theirs was not a blind faith. God would not be pleased with such.’, Roberts, ‘Sunday Morning at the Christadelphian Ecclesia’, The Christadelphian (54.633.109), 1917; Roberts is referring to the Jewish exiles who returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity.

[8] ‘In other words we rightly endeavour, as the early brethren did, to find the real meaning behind the English words we read and so come to the true message of God for man. This approach marks us as distinct from Fundamentalists; it has, I believe, always commended itself to  people of reason who are not prepared to follow a blind faith.’, Draper, ‘Fundamentalism’ (letter to the editor), The Christadelphian (121.1437.109), 1984.

[9] ‘But Bible faith is not blind faith. We are given more than sufficient evidence to prove that Christ was raised from the tomb.’, Cresswell, ‘Proving the Resurrection of Christ’ The Christadelphian (137.1634.296), 2000.

[10] ‘In addition to the refutations of calumnies and the presentation of Christianity as a rational faith the Apologists were also concerned withthe questionings of thoughtful men.’, Barnard, ‘Justin Martyr: His life and thought’, p. 3 (1967).

[11] ‘According to the early Fathers, science and Christian doctrine were to be developed side by side, each on independent grounds, and each in harmony with the other.’, Mahan, ‘A Critical History of Philosophy’, volume 1, p. 483 (2003).

[12] ‘Paul begins with prophecy, which is the first proof that our faith is rational, for believers prophesied when they received the spirit.’, Ambrosiaster, in Bray (ed.), ‘Commentaries on Romans and 1-2 Corinthians’, p. 96  (2009).

[13] ‘For Aquinas faith is rational; it involves, like all knowing, the assent of the intellect. And reason can demonstrate the truth of some theological propositions.’, Hicks, ‘The Journey So Far: Philosophy Throuth the Ages’, p. 201 (2003).

[14] ‘We believe this, and that the Bible teaches thus and so. Both these propositions are topics of investigation, and the man accepting them as true, and acting them out in his life, is not justly chargeable with fanaticism. It is not “the blind faith of a fanatic” that impels him, but the resolution of a sane man who acts from the perception of the facts.’, Roberts, ‘Rejoinder to MacMillan’s Notice of “An Obscure Sect”’, The Christadelphian (27.316.369), 1890.

[15] Stoker, ‘Is Faith Rational?: A Hermeneutical-phenomenological Accounting for Faith’, p. 199 (2006).

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Preceding articles:

Where is the edge

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (1)

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (2)

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The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (2)

[this is a sample of text from the book “Living on the edge” by Jonathan Burke]

The mythical conflict of science & Scripture (2)

Dismissal of the myth that science and Christianity have traditionally been at war, has led to over-correction by some writers who have gone too far in the opposite direction.[1] [2]

Two particularly influential writers claiming Christianity was uniquely influential on the birth of modern science, are Stanley Jaki[3], and Rodney Stark.[4] Building on the earlier work of Robert Merton,[5] who suggested that 17th century Protestant (particularly Puritan), values created an environment in which scientific inquiry was promoted sigfnificantly (known as the ‘Merton Thesis’), Jaki and Stark make the claim that the modern Western scientific tradition benefited specifically from contributions exclusive to Christianity.

The Merton Thesis is still a matter of academic debate,[6] but it is generally recognized by historians of science that Christianity made a significant positive contribution to the development of the Western scientific tradition.[7] [8] [9]

Nevertheless, it is also generally agreed that the development of modern science was not due to Christianity alone.[10] Christians who contributed to science benefited from earlier intellectual traditions inherited from the Greeks, as well as from scientific knowledge and experimentation carried out by Muslim and Jewish investigators,[11] and typically made mention of this in their own writings, citing their sources.

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[1] ‘It is, in fact, so easy a target that scholars reacting against it have constructed a revised view that has also been driven to excess.’, Brooke, ‘Science and Religion: Some historical perspectives’, p. 42 (1991).

[2] ‘Zeal for the triumph of either science or religion in the present could lure historians into Whiggish history. The works not only of Draper and White, but also of Hooykaas and Jaki fell into that category. Kenneth Thibodeau’s review in Isis of Jaki’s Science and Creation, for example, declared it “a lop-sided picture of the history of science” that “minimizes” the accomplishments of non-Christian cultures and “exaggerates” those of Christian ones (Thibodeau 1976, 112). In a review in Archives Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences, William Wallace found Hooykaas’s Religion and the Rise of Modern Sciences to be “case of special pleading.” In their historiographical introduction to the book they edited, God and Nature (1986), David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers judged that Hooykaas and Jaki had “sacrificed careful history for scarcely concealed apologetics” (Lindberg and Numbers 1986, 5). Likewise some historians found Moore’s nonviolent history unacceptable: He “sometimes seems to be writing like an apologist for some view of Christianity” (La Vergata 1985, 950), criticized Antonella La Vergata in his contribution to The Darwinian Heritage (1985).’, Wilson, ‘The Historiography of Science and Religion’, in Ferngren (ed.),  ‘Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction’, p. 21 (2002).

[3] Jaki, ‘The Road of Science and the Ways to God’ (1978).

[4] Stark, ‘For the Glory of God: how monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunts, and the end of slavery’ (2003).

[5] Merton, ‘Science, Technology and Society in 17th-Century England’ (1938); unlike later writers, Merton did not believe that the Puritan ethic, or Christianity itself, was essential for the successful development of modern science.

[6] ‘Scholars still debate what Merton got right and what he got wrong, and in the intervening years they have drawn a far more detailed portrait of the varied nature of the religious impetus to study nature.’, Efron, ‘Myth 9: That Christianity Gave Birth to Modern Science’, in Numbers (ed.), ‘Galileo Goes to Jail: And Other Myths About Science and Religion’, p. 10 (2010).

[7] ‘Although they disagree about nuances, today almost all historians agree that Christianity (Catholicism as well as Protestantism) moved many early- modern intellectuals to study nature systematically.4 Historians have also found that notions borrowed from Christian belief found their ways into scientific discourse, with glorious results; the very notion that nature is lawful, some scholars argue, was borrowed from Christian theology.’, ibid., pp. 80-81.

[8] ‘Historians have also found that changing Christian approaches to interpreting the Bible affected the way nature was studied in crucial ways. For example, Reformation leaders disparaged allegorical readings of Scripture, counselling their congregations to read Holy Writ literally. This approach to the Bible led some scholars to change the way they studied nature, no longer seeking the allegorical meaning of plants and animals and instead seeking what they took to be a more straightforward description of the material world.’, ibid., p. 81.

[9] ‘Finally, historians have observed that Christian churches were for a crucial millennium leading patrons of natural philosophy and science, in that they supported theorizing, experimentation, observation, exploration, documentation, and publication.’, ibid., p. 81.

[10] ‘For all these reasons, one cannot recount the history of modern science without acknowledging the crucial importance of Christianity. But this does not mean that Christianity and Christianity alone produced modern science, any more than observing that the history of modern art cannot be retold without acknowledging Picasso means that Picasso created modern art. There is simply more to the story than that.’, ibid., p. 82.

[11] ‘These men and their contemporaries all knew what some today have forgotten, that Christian astronomers (and other students of nature) owe a great debt to their Greek forebears. This was not the only debt outstanding for Christian philosophers of nature. They had also benefited directly and indirectly from Muslim and, to a lesser degree, Jewish philosophers of nature who used Arabic to describe their investigations.’, ibid., p. 83.

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Find Part 1: The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (1)

Introduction: Where is the edge

&: Living on the edge

+++

Picture of Father Stanley L. Jaki

Picture of Father Stanley L. Jaki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • No Faith in Science (richarddawkins.net)
    A common tactic of those who claim that science and religion are compatible is to argue that science, like religion, rests on faith: faith in the accuracy of what we observe, in the laws of nature, or in the value of reason. Daniel Sarewitz, director of a science policy center at Arizona State University and an occasional Slate contributor, wrote this about the Higgs boson in the pages of Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious science journals: “For those who cannot follow the mathematics, belief in the Higgs is an act of faith, not of rationality.”
  • Jerry Coyne’s Twisted History of Science and Religion (forbes.com)
    In his latest post on the topic, he promotes the false belief that there is a fundamental conflict between science and religion, and he even makes the wild (and admittedly unproven) claim “that had there been no Christianity, if after the fall of Rome atheism had pervaded the Western world, science would have developed earlier and be far more advanced than it is now.” (For some thoughts on that theory, see this post.)
  • Did Christianity (and other religions) promote the rise of science? (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
    The claims are diverse, but all give religion—especially Christianity—credit for science.  Religion is said to either encourage thinking (read Aquinas), impel people to do science as a way of unravelling God’s plan, lead to the idea of scientific laws (viz. Davies and Plantinga, above), or “encourage” science in some nebulous ways (this “encouragement” often seems to mean only “did not impede science.”)

    Now these claims are bogus, but if you read various histories of science, you’ll see conflict on this issue.  I’ll put my own objections below, but you should also read Richard Carrier’s 2010 article, “Christianity was not responsible for modern science.” Pp. 396-419 in J. W. Loftus, ed. The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. Prometheus Books (that’s a book well worth reading, by the way.)

    Here are some of my responses to the “science came from Christianity” canard

  • A response to Bill Nye (religionron.wordpress.com)
    Nye forgets where a lot of things came from which was the study of natural law.  Science came from religion.  Many theories like the big bang theory come directly from religion, but religion was not used as the proof.  Most of sociology comes from a religious core.  Physics has theories that border on pantheism.  You wont here this from Nye because all religion is bad.We do agree on a few things though.  I do not think religion should be taught as science.  Likewise I don’t think science should ever be philosophy or religion.  Its one thing to put in a history book or even an astronomy book the origin of the big bang theory but we shouldn’t use it as a proof of the theory.
  • Science and Religion… (jesusavesisrael.wordpress.com)
    The fact of the matter is that science and faith complement each other, and there is no conflict between true science and true religion. Together they give the best foundation for wholesome faith and courage for daily living. When Galileo, the father of modern science, discovered that the earth revolved, instead of the sun moving around the earth, certain religious leaders were greatly disturbed, for they held another theory. But eventually they were reconciled.
  • Reason Illuminates Faith (in the Middle Ages) (thesoapboxguild.wordpress.com)
    What do the Middle Ages and scientific ideas have to do with each other? Quite a bit more than you might think. Unlike the thoughts brought to mind by words like the “Dark Ages,” the medieval period was not a totally backwards time of ignorance and superstition (though as in any era, both were present!), but one of intellectual formation that proved critically necessary for modern science to develop.
  • Both science and religion have a place under the sun (thehindu.com)
    When we discuss the relevance of science and religion, it will be misleading to look at it through the “either-or” prism. Among scientists, there are many who are religious and similarly among the religious, there are many who have a scientific frame of mind. Far from being founded on the fear of the unknown, true religion is founded on the faith in the grace of the unknowable.

    It is easy to define religion opportunistically and then decry it. If we associate terrorists with religion, as Prof. Natarajan has done, religion becomes nefarious. If we understand religion as an enquiry into the ultimate purpose of life and equate it with spirituality, the merits of religion will become manifest.
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    Prof. Natarajan has tried to understand why humans invented the concept of God and denounced it by quoting Albert Einstein. It has been a universal practice cutting across all religions to describe what we don’t understand (essentially what is called ‘mysterious’) as acts of God. Einstein was appreciative of this phenomenon and that is why he said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science” and “Science without Religion is lame; Religion without Science is blind”.

  • Science, Religion, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life (thehaynesblog.com)
    Last night Joshua and I attended a lecture by the Rev. Prof. David Wilkinson entitled “Science, Religion, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life.”  He holds a PhD in theoretical astrophysics, a PhD in systematic theology, and he is a Methodist Minister.  He is one who is well equipped to engaged the questions posed by some today: “What will Christianity do if or when we do make contact with alien life forms?”  Some have said that it will be the end of faith as we know it.  Some Christians have welcomed it as proof of an omnipotent God.  Additionally, there are a million questions in between.
  • No Faith in Science (secularnewsdaily.com)
    A common tactic of those who claim that science and religion are compatible is to argue that science, like religion, rests on faith: faith in the accuracy of what we observe, in the laws of nature, or in the value of reason. Daniel Sarewitz, director of a science policy center at Arizona State University and an occasional Slate contributor, wrote this about the Higgs boson in the pages of Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious science journals: “For those who cannot follow the mathematics, belief in the Higgs is an act of faith, not of rationality.”
  • No Faith in Science (slate.com)
    What about the public and other scientists’ respect for authority? Isn’t that a kind of faith? Not really. When Richard Dawkins talks or writes about evolution, or Lisa Randall about physics, scientists in other fields—and the public—have confidence that they’re right. But that, too, is based on the doubt and criticism inherent in science (but not religion): the understanding that their expertise has been continuously vetted by other biologists or physicists. In contrast, a priest’s claims about God are no more demonstrable than anyone else’s. We know no more now about the divine than we did 1,000 years ago.

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (1)

[this is a sample of text from the book “Living on the edge” by Jonathan Burke]

The mythical conflict of science & Scripture (1)

Although it is commonly believed that Christianity has traditionally been at war with science, the reality is very different.[1] [2] [3] [4] This view, known as the ‘Conflict Thesis’ or ‘Conflict Model’, originated in the 19th century as a result of anti-religious sentiment.

Two 19th century works in particular were responsible for creating and popularizing this view; John William Draper’s ‘History of the Conflict between Religion and Science’ (1874), and Andrew Dickson White’s ‘History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom’ (1896).

The conflict thesis dominated historical discussion during the 19th and 20th centuries, though it was increasingly modified from 1950 onward.[5] Works by Frank Turner (1974), and James More (1979), contributed significantly to its decline in influence,[6] and the conflict thesis has been comprehensively rejected by modern historians of science.[7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

____________________________________

[1] ‘Despite a developing consensus among scholars that Christianity and science had not been at war, the notion of conflict refused to die.’, Lindberg & Numbers (eds.), ‘God and Nature: Historical essays on the encounter between Christianity and Science’, p. 6 (1986).

[2] ‘The result is the growing recognition among historians of science that the relationship of religion and science has been much more positive than is sometimes thought. Although popular images of controversy continue to exemplify the supposed hostility of Christianity to new scientific theories, studies have shown that Christianity has often nurtured and encouraged scientific endeavour, while at other times the two have co-existed without either tension or attempts at harmonization. If Galileo and the Scopes trial come to mind as examples of conflict, they were the exceptions rather than the rule.’, Ferngren (ed.), ‘Science and Religion: A historical introduction’, p. ix (2002).

[3]  ‘As a historical tool, the conflict thesis is so blunt that it is more damaging than serviceable. One only has to consider the “two books” of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) – nature and Scripture – each of which had a role complementary to that of the other. They were not held to be at odds with each other because they dealt with different subjects. Again, for many scientific figures in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Christianity played a central role in fostering and even shaping their scientific endeavours: The instances of Kepler, Robert Boyle (1627-91), Isaac Newton (1642-1727), and Rene Descartes (1596-1650) are the most conspicuous.’, Russell, ‘The Conflict of Science and Religion’, in Ferngren (ed.), ‘Science and Religion: A historical introduction’, p. 8 (2002).

[4] ‘Historians of science, however, rejected this stereotype long ago.’, Westman, ‘The Copernicans and the Churches’, Blackwell Essential Readings in History, p. 44 (2003).

[5] ‘Despite the growing number of scholarly modifications and rejections of the conflict model from the 1950’s, the Draper-White thesis proved to be tenacious, thought it is probably true that it had been more successfully dispelled for the seventeenth century than for the nineteenth. At any rate, in the 1970s leading historians of the nineteenth century still felt required to attack it. In the second volume of his Victorian Church (1970), Owen Chadwick viewed the conflict thesis as a misconception that many Victorians had about themselves.’, Wilson, ‘The Historiography of Science and Religion’, in Ferngren (ed.),  ‘Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction’, p. 21 (2002).

[6] ‘Whatever the reasons for the continued survival of the conflict thesis, two other books on the nineteenth century that were published in the 1970s hastened its final demise among historians of science. In 1974, Frank Turner carved out new conceptual territory in Between Science and Religion. He studied six later Victorians (including Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-inventor of the theory of evolution by natural selection) who rejected both Christianity and the agnostic “scientific naturalism” of the time. In their various ways, they used different methods, including the empiricism of science (but not the Bible), to support two traditionally religious ideas; the existence of a God and the reality of human immortality. Even more decisive was the penetrating critique “Historians and Historiography” that James Moore placed at the beginning of his Post-Darwinian Controversies (1979).’, ibid., p. 23.

[7] ‘The claim that the advance of science necessarily brings it into conflict with established religious beliefs was advanced most energetically in the late nineteenth century by those who believed that science was the vehicle by which a new, secular view of the human situation would be established.’, Bowler, ‘Reconciling Religion and Science: The Debate in Early Twentieth-Century Britain’, p., 10 (2010).

[8] ‘In the late Victorian period it was common to write about the “warfare between science and religion” and to presume that these two bodies of culture must always have been in conflict. However, it is a very long time since these attitudes have been held by historians of science.’, Shapin, ‘The Scientific Revolution’, p. 195 (1996).

[9] ‘In its traditional forms, the thesis has been largely discredited.’, Brooke, ‘Science and Religion: Some historical perspectives’, p. 42 (1991).

[10] ‘The conflict thesis, at least in its simple form, is now widely perceived as a wholly inadequate intellectual framework within which to construct a sensitive and realistic historiography of Western science.’, Russell, ‘The Conflict of Science and Religion’, in Ferngren (ed.), ‘Science and Religion: A historical introduction’, p. 10 (2002).

[11] ‘However, it is salutary to note that serious historical scholarship has revealed the conflict thesis as, at best, an oversimplification and, at worst, a deception.’, ibid., p. 10.

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Find the Introduction: Where is the edge

&: Living on the Edge

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Issues in Science and Religion

Issues in Science and Religion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Faith and Science (faithandspiritofsciencesummit2013.wordpress.com)
    The relationship between religion and science has been a subject of study since Classical antiquity, addressed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others. Perspectives from different geographical regions, cultures and historical epochs are diverse, with some characterizing the relationship as one of conflict, others describing it as one of harmony, and others proposing little interaction. The extent to which science and religion may attempt to understand and describe similar phenomena is sometimes referred to as a part of the demarcation problem.Science and religion generally pursue knowledge of the universe using different methodologies. Science acknowledges reason, empiricism, and evidence, while religions include revelation, faith and sacredness.
  • Science Vs Religion (beccsbordom.wordpress.com)
    There is a huge discussion about whether religion is greater than science or if science if greater than religion. But I believe that science has stronger evidence against religion but due to my upbringing I agree with the religious side of everything and anything. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Gfa88SeNohY#
  • Open Parachute 2013-10-19 23:32:12 (openparachute.wordpress.com)
    Victor Stenger has a very useful series of books on the relationship between science and religion. He is a very clear writer, combining a knowledge of the philosophy and history of science with stories from his own research experience in particle physics. This is, I think, his second to last book – I have yet to put up my review of his latest – God and the Atom.
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    Of course it’s good the theologically inclined take an interest in important fields outside their own. Even comment on them. But the inevitable ideological bias in such writings produces  many anti-science ideas and ideologically motivated interpretations of history and philosophy. The apathy of scientists towards these issues means such ideas are not often challenged and sometimes squirm their way into academic writings on science method, philosophy and history.
  • Science and Religion… (jesusavesisrael.wordpress.com)
    The fact of the matter is that science and faith complement each other, and there is no conflict between true science and true religion. Together they give the best foundation for wholesome faith and courage for daily living. When Galileo, the father of modern science, discovered that the earth revolved, instead of the sun moving around the earth, certain religious leaders were greatly disturbed, for they held another theory. But eventually they were reconciled.
  • Science and Religion (tweeppoet.wordpress.com)
    Religion, science both have their place and both often over step their bounds.
  • Text to Text | Einstein and ‘Where Science and Religion Coexist’ (learning.blogs.nytimes.com)
    In this Text to Text, we take on the question of the compatibility of science and religion, with an excerpt from a Times Opinion piece written by Albert Einstein in 1930; a 2013 report on a conference between scientists and Buddhist monks hosted by the Dalai Lama; and a video in which the theoretical physicist Richard Feynman talks about trying to find answers to life’s big questions while living with doubt.
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    From the study of history, one is inclined to regard religion and science as irreconcilable antagonists, and this for a reason that is very easily seen. For anyone who is pervaded with the sense of causal law in all that happens, who accepts in real earnest the assumption of causality, the idea of a Being who interferes with the sequence of events in the world is absolutely impossible … A God who rewards and punishes is for him unthinkable, because man acts in accordance with an inner and outer necessity, and would, in the eyes of God, be as little responsible as an inanimate object is for movements which it makes.Science, in consequence, has been accused of undermining morals—but wrongly. The ethical behavior of man is better based on sympathy, education and social relationships, and requires no support from religion. Man’s plight would, indeed, be sad if he had to be kept in order through fear of punishment and hope of rewards after death.
  • No Faith in Science (slate.com)
    Daniel Sarewitz, director of a science policy center at Arizona State University and an occasional Slate contributor, wrote this about the Higgs boson in the pages of Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious science journals: “For those who cannot follow the mathematics, belief in the Higgs is an act of faith, not of rationality.”

    Such statements imply that science and religion are not that different because both seek the truth and use faith to find it. Indeed, science is often described as a kind of religion.

  • Science and Religion (new.exchristian.net)
    Now, if you think “reasonable faith” is an oxymoron, you get no extra points, that’s just way too obvious.Craig’s essay is one of the finest examples I have ever seen of how a very smart theist can support his delusion with clever use of his intelligence and education.
    +
    most of Craig’s arguments have been debunked over and over, by numerous authors. His problem, of course, is that religion cannot be relevant to science since it is dependent on alleged revelation from a god, or gods, to man, while science depends on the testing of evidence. We can use science to test an alleged revelation, but it makes no sense to use an alleged revelation to test a scientific hypothesis, and the reason for this is that too many supposed revelations have already failed scientific testing. Thus, revelation often fails (if it exists at all), but science, though imperfect, continually homes in on the truth of how the world really works.
  • The idea of Religion and Science (beccsbordom.wordpress.com)
    There are something that Religion can not answer but Science can! So if they cant answer it why believe in the side that has no answer or evidence?
  • Star Trek, Science and Religion (optimalhumanmodulation.com)
    Personally, when it comes to the paradigms of science, reason, religion and spirituality, I try to hold two views in my mind simultaneously.First, there is what I recognize as true on a functional level and use to operate within this thing we call “reality.” And second, there’s being respectful of other people’s beliefs and thoughts even if they differ from my own. For, although I believe that what I hold to be true is based on the best logic and empirical data available, I am far from perfect, and if I go through life thinking I know more than everyone else, I will not learn and will unquestionably suffer needlessly. 

Where is the edge

The rim of the unknown

Are we living on the edge? How far do we want to go in our life?

Many of us are afraid to come into the unknown. Because of that they never come further. Because of the fear for what they do not know they shall never know.

Cover of "Unknown World (B&W)"

Cover of Unknown World (B&W)

The unknown, the do not see, may just be that place filled with wonder, curiosity, joy, gratitude, compassion and integrity. An extraordinary place that lives beyond our fears, beyond our wants and desires, a place filled with peace, a place silent but for the vibration of love. the Creator God provided it for us but we do have to be willing to go and see it, feel it and experience it.

To live in certainty

Lots of people prefer to live in the certainty and want to keep on to the traditions which they have kept from generation unto the next generation. They are afraid for that unknown world and do not understand their fear may just be the mask shielding us from fully experiencing life. We encounter many people who dare to ask us some things, but have to notice that mostly they consider the “what if”, “why so” and when we offer them different views they come up “what would my family say”, “what would others think”. And then they answer us “maybe” and “someday,” before going back into their old routine of the certainties they think they have with their ‘old thinking‘.

It shows how difficult it is for many people to encounter different ideas than they are used to and how more difficult it is to change the ideas which were brought into their minds by the years of denominational habituate. the things people are accustomed to is not easy to liberate from.

To follow people or to choose a path

Do you ever think about it that when you just follow the path everybody is following, you might perhaps having a smoke screen in your life? Did you ever thought that by continuing the way you were used to from childhood, enjoying the sphere in the community, you could perhaps been lying to yourself? How many people are not trying to have an unauthentic life filled with trying to look good and with the aim to please others?

When we look at the people around us, we can not ignore that we see a lots of people having a life filled with waiting. Waiting for the weekend, for a better life, for time to pass. A life longing for a made up past, or a mystical future that does not exist. A life devoid of passion and inspiration. A life absent from the present. A life hidden from the miracle of right now.

Using own personality

Though the Creator God, who created each person in His own image, has given each member of humankind the possibility to use their brains. To let the streams of knowledge come into the brains. The Supreme Being prepared man so that he can explore the world and be a unit in the universe.

Each individual has to go his or her own way and has to find out himself or herself what the world can offer to him or her. Each individual has to make it for himself or herself. They may want to go the easy or the difficult way. they might go beyond any thought of what is possible, fully experiencing and embracing all of life without fear. It is here on the edge that life transforms, that we see things we couldn’t see before. It is here that the world is no longer flat, or the sun orbits around the earth, or that we are the only sentient beings in this universe. It is here on the edge that we do not know the truth as the truth is only a context.

Squeezed between beliefs and the sceptic world

Also in our congregation we can find people who have doubts about our beliefs, like in so many denominations where people have to grow up and consider or question what they do want to believe. We all should question what we do believe and what we should believe. Each believer should have a moment where he or she goes ‘Living on the edge of certainty’.  Then they should come to  ‘Live on the edge of credibility’, addressing the challenge of defending their beliefs and preaching to other religious people and atheists. For sure we who believe in One God may be ‘Living on the edge of society‘, addressing the challenge of belonging to a Christian community with beliefs and values typically rejected by modern society. this should not frighten us and should not have us to let us run away or let us to hide for others.

We as Christians should value scepticism and should have no fear to meet people who do not believe in the One God Creator of heaven and earth. We should not mind facing ‘New Atheism’ and its critics and understand that atheism is not a guarantee of rational thinking. When we see how many people in this world are ‘Living on the edge of doubt’ we may consider the challenges to belief in the Bible.

Christadelphian writer Jonathan Burke

A book about living on the edge

The archaeology columnist for a theological journal, Jonathan Burke, a Bachelor of Arts with a Classics major (including a working knowledge of Greek and Latin), provides the background for his interest and knowledge in history related to Christianity, and a Masters of Information Management and Systems has trained him in research methodology and information verification. He had three theological books published in Australia. Two of his books are available on Lulu. As an expatriate Australian, brother Jonathan has been living in Taiwan since 2004. He is a regular volunteer worker with Taoshan Elementary School (桃山國小), Garden of Hope Foundation (勵馨基金會), Harmony Home (關愛之家), Zhong Yi Foundation (忠義基金會), Brightside (臺灣嚮光協會), Taiwan Sunshine, and Rangi (人跡協會). His latest publication brings an overview of “Living on the edge”.

In this new publication Jonathan Burke talks about upholding and defending the Christadelphian beliefs and values. Many may wonder if those beliefs are relevant to the modern world.  This book aims to provide that evidence which non-religious people hopefully will find convincing.

The book does address issues such as the relationship of science and Scripture, the age of the universe and the earth, and whether the flood was local or global. However, the author aims to minimize controversy. For example, since evolution is a highly divisive issue the book does not address it at all.

I have not read the book, but look forward to read some parts of it in the coming days. (Look at the coming publications on Stepping toes: The mythical conflict of science & Scripture (1+2); Were Gnostics the original Christians?; Is faith rational?; Bill Maher proves atheism does not guarantee rational thinking; and Ian Plimer proves atheism does not guarantee rational thinking)

Today I wanted to open this matter of debate about “Living on the edge” because it looks like many people today do not dare any more to stick out their neck and to try out new things. Lots of people want to make sure that they can keep their job, and are afraid to question what happens at work and how it happens.

Taking a poor view

Today several Christians do think we are in the midst of a ‘war’ on Christians all around the world mostly being perpetrated by radical Muslims and mostly ignored. On the other hand others think that most Christians in the West aren’t really aware of how huge this resistance against Christians really is.

But we can resist those opposing us by letting them understand how we think and how we are willing to handle them and how we would like to find peace in the world. We can show them that they do not have to be afraid of real Christians who are like them, created in the image of God. Having elements of that Creator we, like them, cannot travel the path until we become the path itself. We should show them that we also are parts of this world willing to share it with others.

Respectful thoughts

The other believers should come to recognise that we, as believers in a Creator God, have respect for that Creation of the Supreme High Being. As followers of His son who loved his Father and loved the world, we also should love the Father and the world the Father allows us to live in. With the love of God should also come our love for others and also our happiness which we should be willing to share with others, believers but also to non- or unbelievers or better: different believers.

Seeing the beauty in the depths of unknown

The Fear of God

The Fear of God (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We should not mind going onto the edge of the cliff, which people push us to the boarder of it.  On that edge we should like to see the beauty of this world and find happiness which can rise from the depths of our soul. We should be able to find ourself smiling, smiling because we are a witness to the grace and beauty of the universe, to that of some greater power beyond ourself, beyond those superficial concerns that held us so tightly before.

We should not get blackened or fall out because of the fear for the bottomless abyss. The yawning chasm should not bring us willed with horror, but there we should encounter the challenge of the classroom of the universe where we can learn so much. It is here that we can see the beauty in every moment, that our concerns and frustrations in life are self-induced, illusions of suffering that we are clinging to in the midst of such wonder and beauty around us.

Standing on the edge of life, Showing happiness

We should not be cordoning off or stake out our beliefs nor our faith-life. Standing on the edge of life we should see the opening in the world where so many can live together in the best circumstances, in case they are willing to open their mind as well.

Those who love God and who are feeling and believing in the love of Christ Jesus, the Messiah, should call to action and bring, like Jesus asked them to do, the Good News, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. To bring that Good News we should ourselves become part of those Good Tidings and being identifiable as good news ourselves, spreading happiness.

To show more happiness we should get id off the fears which may still be there tempting us. Sometimes we are not fully aware of those fears, therefore we should first of all identify the fears in our life that are blocking us. We should get to see them, recognise them and go against them, looking at them for their insignificance.

Not postponing the action

Fear of the Unknown

Fear of the Unknown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We should not tarry. Procrastination may be big fashion now, but a dilatory attitude may bring us nowhere. We should not show tameness for the matters that need action and to wipe out those things that stops us in life. Do not postpone and take action to step beyond these fears. Confront them head on. We should see where we are going, were the world is going, where the world wants to push us, where the borderlines are and how far we can go to the edge. Make sure you have the good ‘Foundation to go the distance’ and ‘Live on the edge’.

God of gods has given us this life. It is short. God also warns us that we should make the best out of it and not wait until it is to late. We do have to live each moment as if it is the last because it might be. For this reason Jesus has warned us more than ones, and given enough examples with his parables. We should learn from them and take them at heart. Living today according to the Will of God and preparing ourselves to be ready when the end of our life shall confront us with death. Remember when that moment shall be there it shall be to late to change course, to walk strong on the edge or to fall from the edge in the depths of nothingness.

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Continuation of: Preparedness to change

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Additional reading:

  1. A time for everything
  2. If you want to go far in life
  3. Live …
  4. Control and change
  5. A Living Faith #8 Change
  6. Only I can change my life
  7. Change
  8. Control your destiny or somebody else will
  9. Foundation to go the distance
  10. When discouraged facing opposition
  11. Suffering produces perseverance
  12. Compassion and Discipline
  13. If you have integrity
  14. Faith and trial
  15. Concerning Gospelfaith
  16. Faith is knowing there is an ocean because you have seen a brook.
  17. Everything that is done in the world is done by hope
  18. Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark
  19. Wondering
  20. The thought of losing rekindles the joy of having
  21. Joy is not in things, it is in us
  22. Joy: Foundation for a Positive Life
  23. Better loaves when the heart is joyous
  24. Happiness an inner state
  25. Happiness is like manna
  26. Be like a tree planted by streams of water
  27. Even in tough times remembering the blessings
  28. Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience
  29. A man who cannot forgive others
  30. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands
  31. Be kinder than necessary
  32. Growth in character
  33. Be holy
  34. A tongue to speak slowly and well-considered
  35. Life in gratitude opens glory of God
  36. God should be your hope
  37. Give your tears to God
  38. We will all be changed
  39. Church sent into the world
  40. Bringing Good News
  41. Proclaiming shalom, bringing good news of good things, announcing salvation

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  • Mkmma… Week #5 (daw2621masterkey.wordpress.com)
    My goal in life is to have one 24 hour period where I didn’t fear something in my life. I’d love to meet and interview the person that doesn’t suffer from this universal disease … I don’t know if I would believe a word they said because I’ve never met anyone that lived without fear to some degree.To live without fear and hesitation would be an absolute paradise. What kind of lifestyle could you live? How much personal power would you possess if you could meet every challenge with total faith that you were up to the task? Now
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    Why doesn’t every person live on a higher plane of thinking and life condition? Where there is total belief there is no fear. Where there is light there is no darkness and vice versa. Where there is paralyzing fear there can be no belief. Where does this fear originate? Isn’t belief and fear total opposites? Isn’t poor self-esteem, self-confidence, self-image all cousins to ignorance and lack of belief?
  • 90 Days With Yeshua- Day 66: Reconciling the Banished Heart (soulfullheartblog.com)
    The heart has nothing to hide. It’s only the mind conditioned by fear and scarcity that needs to hide certain motives and plans from another in order to win. The dis-integration is the disintegrity, and the source of most stress.
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    It’s only the mind conditioned by fear and scarcity that needs to hide certain motives and plans from another in order to win. The dis-integration is the disintegrity, and the source of most stress.
  • Beliefs,living outside your comfort zone (nerdvolution.wordpress.com)
    Have you ever noticed that you have a certain belief about how everything needs to be done? Like maybe how you should behave on a date, how fast you should go and stuff like that. Or even like how you should respond when something bad happens or someone wrongs you. It’s like that for me; I have certain beliefs wired in my brain that direct how I do everything. The weird part is, the beliefs never seem to match with reality. My actions, based on my beliefs usually produce the opposite reaction to what I expect.
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    I now seriously think growth is outside your comfort zone.
  • How to answer top 10 Atheist contentions (short version) (intellectualrevival.wordpress.com)
    blind belief is prevalent in many cultures/religions/worldviews including atheism and not necessarily a feature of religions. In fact, the basis of atheism and secularism was founded upon blind belief. Secularism, for instance was born out of a clash between the Church and state in 18th century Europe, where any person who held a view contrary to religion was deemed heretic and was persecuted. The authority of the state was not to be questioned as it was granted by God. Therefore thinkers called for the scientific method of enquiry as the more rational method and used it to challenge the authority of the Church’s religion which they saw it as blind and based on imitation.
    This gave way to an emotional reaction causing 2 kinds of blind belief
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    What is most troubling for the atheists/agnostics/skeptics is that their views are purely naturalistic and empirical. So they imagine this infinite cause to resemble like us and then find it troubling how this cause is infinite. The case is that we cannot from our limited human mind rationalize how he exists in the infinite realm. The limited mind cannot understand the nature of the unlimited Cause. All we can know and reason is that this cause must be infinite, unlimited and independent.
  • The Quarter Life Crisis (courtneyheff.wordpress.com)
    A few years ago, I heard my older friends talk about their experience of a ‘quarter life crisis.’ Of course I understood the premise of it, but the expression seemed melodramatic and self-aggrandizing. I didn’t understand how anyone could face a life crisis at that age. A few weeks before my twentieth birthday, I realized that my friends weren’t being melodramatic, as I faced a substantial quarter life crisis of my own.
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    We’re told constantly that we can change our minds and change our careers many times throughout our lives. My only vision of the future when I think of career changes is an image of my seventeen-year-old self crying because I couldn’t even get a job at a grocery store. Most of us require an illusion of certainty in our lives, and don’t necessarily want to face the idea that we have no idea where we will be a year from now, let alone in a decade. If you’re one of those people who can face an abyss and jump right in, I envy and applaud you. Though I very much valuable spontaneity – you never know where you’ll find me on a given day
  • Fear (anemptyroomofmyown.wordpress.com)
    “Fear!”, says the old man / His voice grating the edge / Of the abyss of civilized / Polite, sincere insanity
  • Remembering Albert Camus and Longing for the Old Atheism (ekhava.com)
    as an unbeliever, Camus offers a powerful counter-example to the stridency and animus of the “new atheism” associated with Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and others. Indeed Camus makes us long for the days of the “old atheism” when religious people weren’t mocked for their so-called irrational beliefs; bullied by the charge that “religion poisons everything”; and told to step aside while secularism sweeps clean the religious debris from public life.
  • What Would You Say to the Religion Professor Who’s Had It With ‘Strident,’ ‘Bullying’ New Atheists? (patheos.com)
    When, post-9/11, atheists no longer felt forced to use only their inside voice, people of faith — and the media — were quick, almost gleeful, to attach the adjective “strident” to the noun “atheist,” as if the two are conjoined twins.
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    for close to a millennium, being found out as an atheist all too often meant persecution, imprisonment, torture, forced conversion, and death — thuggery perpetrated by men of the Church and the state alike, who all claimed to do God’s business. I’d say that kind of actual violence goes a damn sight farther than “bullying,” wouldn’t you? Are we supposed to brush that chapter aside, but believe that when academics like Harris and Dawkins retreat to their studies and tap away at their keyboards in scholarly fashion, they’re the real bullies?
  • Answering Top 10 Atheist contentions (intellectualrevival.wordpress.com)
    The article ‘Does the Belief in a God make sense?’ raised some interesting responses, both positive and negative. So I thought it would be of benefit to write on the common atheist arguments against the case of a Creator including those specific to the previous article. These answers are only my attempt at addressing questions which I have come to understand from more learned people.
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    science has a scope and should be used in its proper areas (medicine, technology, etc.), however it has limitations to its scope which makes it irrational to use for questions which are beyond the scientific method and it certainly has no place in answering or proving the existence of an unseen omnipotent Creator that is beyond time and space.
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    To atheists another ‘blind belief’ is that all religions including Islam enjoin ‘blind faith’ in their beliefs and teachings. There are several verses in various places in the Qur’an asking and urging man to reflect and contemplate his own existence and that in his surroundings.
  • When Your Purpose is Found in a Transcendent Creator (str.typepad.com)
    As an atheist, I was satisfied with the purpose I had created for my life. I found meaning in my work, my family, and my responsibilities as a father and husband. I also loved the idea that I was in charge of my purpose; that I was the one who got to decide what life was all about. It wasn’t until I became a Christian that I realized my ideas about purpose and meaning were far too small and limited.