Scientism & Naturalism

(A follow up to Scientism Isn’t Science)

Naturalism is defined by Stewart Goetz & Charles Taliaferro in this way:

Naturalism—very roughly—may be defined as the philosophy that everything that exists is a part of nature and that there is no reality beyond or outside of nature. (Naturalism, 6)

Something being “a part of nature” is here meant to exclude the supernatural. Naturalism then is opposed to supernaturalism. It is seeing all things as natural and nothing as being supernatural. It is this view of the world which informs scientism, and it is this same view which informs modern scientific procedure. Although it is important to say that the procedure does not lead every scientist to embrace scientism (the belief that all questions about reality can be scientifically determined), scientism certainly needs the procedure. This procedure is what is called “methodological naturalism” (MN). Read more about Scientism & Naturalism

Going Rogue

(From Voice magazine, Jan/Feb 2016.)

African elephants are the largest land animal on earth. At 12,000 pounds and ten feet tall, they can intimidate anyone and anything. Elephants don’t worry much about predators.

The norm is to live in herds within a matriarchal social structure. The largest female leads the group of eight to one hundred elephants in a tight family unit. At the age of twelve to fifteen years the males leave the group and begin a new family. There is always a dominant male in the herd, but sooner or later, a younger male will take over, and the older ones are left to wander alone. It is a melancholy scene to watch a great-grandfather pachyderm grazing completely by himself.

For whatever reason, some of these older males go berserk; they go rogue. Unstable males become violent and territorial. They go on a rampage, attacking anyone in their way, destroying crops and vegetation. These are the really scary guys. Read more about Going Rogue

Twelve of the Most Annoying Arguments Used Against Biblical Creation, Part 3

(Read Part 1 and Part 2.)

9. The days in Genesis do not have to be 24-hour days.

Why It Sounds Good

In passages like Zechariah 14:20, which talks of the day of the Lord, and 2 Peter 3:8, the word “day” is used for more than a twenty-four-hour time period and 2 Peter 3:8 teaches that, for God, a “day is like a thousand years.” Therefore, the Bible student is not tied to interpreting the Genesis account of “day” in a twenty-four-hour fashion.

Why It Is Annoying

It is true that the Bible uses the word “day” in many different ways. It speaks of day as twenty-four hours, as signifying a time period, as describing the difference between day and night. So, how would one know which use is being used? Context, always context. When Genesis 1 and 2 are examined, it can readily be seen that even it uses the word day in different fashions. But this is actually an argument against playing fast and loose with the word. For if the context itself indicates that it is using day in a different sense, then it will determine its own meaning. So how is day used in the passage? Read more about Twelve of the Most Annoying Arguments Used Against Biblical Creation, Part 3

Church Discipline: the Correction of a Believer or the Excommunication of an Unbeliever? (Part 1)

Harmonizing Matthew 18:15–17, 1 Corinthians 5:1–13, and 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15

From Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ), Volume 20: 2015. Used with permission.

Introduction

Within the larger discussion on church discipline, two questions that go to the heart of the issue continue to resist consensus. The first question concerns the spiritual status of those being disciplined. Are they to be viewed by the church as true believers caught up in some transgression and, thus, to be corrected and restored? Or, are they to be viewed as those who have made a profession of faith but who are, in fact, not saved and who need to be confronted and removed? Or, does the New Testament allow for either of these two options, depending on the nature of the disobedience?

The second question, related to the first, addresses the type of discipline meted out to the disobedient. Does church discipline invariably involve excommunication, that is, the removal of the disobedient from the membership of the local church with a loss of all rights and privileges? In other words, does the New Testament teach that excommunication is the only option when exercising church discipline of the unrepentant? Or, does the New Testament allow for a level of church discipline that stops short of that? And, if that be the case, what does this level look like? Read more about Church Discipline: the Correction of a Believer or the Excommunication of an Unbeliever? (Part 1)

On Toxic Leaders (Part 2)

(From Voice magazine, Jan/Feb 2016. Read Part 1.)

By Kenneth O. Gangel

Why Would People Work for a Toxic Leader?

With the stench of the Enron disas­ter still in our nostrils, we have become accustomed to the ongoing lawsuits from employees who lost everything. Let’s remember that most of the people who left Enron didn’t drop out or vol­untarily go to other businesses. They actually loved their jobs and felt they functioned at the center of action in such a gigantic corporation. But clearly toxic leadership ruled at Enron, so why did people stay?

Belief in the Unbelievable

The old wisdom says when some­thing looks too good to be true it probably is. Stock portfolios, retirement packages, working conditions—everything seemed right and most of Enron’s people felt they were functioning in one of the greatest companies ever built. That’s why pastors are less likely to leave a large church than a small one. However, a large organization affords part of the draw for an autocratic toxic leader who needs full command until someone blows the whistle. Read more about On Toxic Leaders (Part 2)

On Toxic Leaders (Part 1)

(From Voice magazine, Jan/Feb 2016.)

By Kenneth O. Gangel

What Is a Toxic Leader?

A vast percentage of leadership books in both the secular and religious domains deal with how to move from average to good or good to great in your own leadership, or how to help other people on your team do just that. The same analysis holds true in peri­odical literature, both journals and magazines. That’s why Jean Lipman-Blumen’s book hit the market with a crash in 2004. The title alone suggests, one could say, an “alluring” analysis of something we have swept into the corner and refused to look at: The Allure of Toxic Leaders: Why We Follow Destructive Bosses and Corrupt Politicians—and How We Can Survive Them.

Defective Christian leaders rarely get their pictures in Time or Newsweek for defrauding employees or driving their ministries into bank­ruptcy, but make no mistake about it, we have toxic leaders in our midst. Lipman-Blumen won­ders why people follow such leaders and decides they do so because of a desire for dependence, a need to play a more crucial role in the organiza­tion, and just plain fear. Read more about On Toxic Leaders (Part 1)

Scientism Isn't Science

These remarks stem from some interchanges I had with some believers about methodological naturalism.

Many a scientist will say they are simply looking for natural explanations of phenomena they come across. If that really were the case, there would be no difficulty at all. But that is not so. Scientism is on a quest. The goal is driven by a rigidly held belief that “Science” is a God-free edifice. Hence, “looking for natural explanations” is actually “permitting only naturalistic explanations.” Once we change the adjective to “naturalistic” we can see better what the project is that is being pursued. It is an anti-supernaturalistic universe that is so urgently desired by these people, and the device used to insure the supernatural realm keeps out of the way is the philosophical procedure called “methodological naturalism” (MN).

Every Christian is familiar with the problem of the strident dogmatism of many scientists and their disciples. They love to poke fun at faith and the Bible, seeing themselves as having outgrown such myths. They trust in Science. Science and the declarations of its knowledge elites is their god. In his book Monopolizing Knowledge, MIT Nuclear Physicist Ian Hutchinson has labeled Scientism, the belief that all knowledge comes from the natural sciences, as “a ghastly intellectual mistake.” Yet it is a persistent and habitual mistake which shows no signs of abating. Read more about Scientism Isn't Science

A Message from Missions to the Modern Ministry

(About this series)

CHAPTER VIII - A MESSAGE FROM MISSIONS TO THE MODERN MINISTRY

BY REV. CHAS. A. BOWEN, A. M., PH. D., OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON

It is not my purpose to enter into a defense of, nor champion the cause of, missions. They stand there immovable in the purpose of God. They are the corner-stone as well as the crown in the fabric of the Christian Church. This stone which for so many years was rejected is now become the head of the corner, and whosoever shall fall upon it—whatever church shall ignore its claims—shall be broken.

It is my purpose rather to seek in the field of missions for some message to the modern ministry, for some inspiration to the home church. I know it is impossible to divorce the Church from missions—they are both one; but if we may do so in our thought for a time, we shall find that missions are not so much in need of the home church as the home church is in need of missions. The home church today is not so much the source of encouragement to missions as missions are the fountain of inspiration to the home church. The question is no longer whether the heathen can be saved without the Gospel, but whether the Gospel can be saved for the home church if it is not given speedily to the heathen. Read more about A Message from Missions to the Modern Ministry