Theology

Review - The Territories of Science & Religion

Image of The Territories of Science and Religion
by Peter Harrison
University Of Chicago Press 2015
Hardcover 320

Science Versus Religion: a New Angle

The battle between Science and Religion has been presented to the wider public as a struggle between reason and superstition. In the present intellectual climate, where the ghosts of logical positivism have been far from exorcised from the corridors of scientific thinking, any countering of the reigning attitude is most welcome. The volume under review is an absorbing historical account of the way the words scientia and religio have been used through time, and how they have changed their meanings since about the middle of the 19th century. The book under review is scholarly yet readable, comprising six chapters, an epilogue, fifty plus pages of notes, and indices.

It may seem that a book-length study on two archaic words would scarcely qualify as a riveting read, still less that it would be of any relevance. But Peter Harrison, who is a distinguished historian of science at the University of Queensland in Australia, has managed to produce a study which does both things. The resultant work is a real contribution to the Science versus Religion debate; a debate that has been impacted to a large degree by its wrong understandings of the terminology. Read more about Review - The Territories of Science & Religion

Is There A God?

(About this series)

CHAPTER II: IS THERE A GOD?

BY REV. THOMAS WHITELAW, M. A., D. D., KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND

Whether or not there is a supreme personal intelligence, infinite and eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, the Creator, upholder and ruler of the universe, immanent in and yet transcending all things, gracious and merciful, the Father and Redeemer of mankind, is surely the profoundest problem that can agitate the human mind. Lying as it does at the foundation of all man’s religious beliefs—as to responsibility and duty, sin and salvation, immortality and future blessedness, as to the possibility of a revelation, of an incarnation, of a resurrection, as to the value of prayer, the credibility of miracle, the reality of providence,—with the reply given to it are bound up not alone the temporal and eternal happiness of the individual, but also the welfare and progress of the race. Nevertheless, to it have been returned the most varied responses.

The Atheist, for example, asserts that there is no God. The Agnostic professes that he cannot tell whether there is a God or not. The Materialist boasts that he does not need a God, that he can run the universe without one. The (Bible) Fool wishes there was no God. The Christian answers that he cannot do without a God.

I. THE ANSWER OF THE ATHEIST

“There is no God”

In these days it will hardly do to pass by this bold and confident negation by simply saying that the theoretical atheist is an altogether exceptional specimen of humanity, and that Read more about Is There A God?

Epistemological Foundations for a Biblical Theology, Part 1

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. It attempts to answer questions regarding the origin of human knowledge, and considers especially how we can know with certainty. Epistemological answers are basic and necessary building blocks of any philosophy, worldview, or belief system. In fact, of the four major components of philosophy and worldview (epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and socio-political thought), none can be adequately addressed until we answer the question of how we can know.

Regarding metaphysics, for example, we can’t make legitimate assertions about the character of God or the existence of the human soul until we first address how such assertions can be verified or falsified. Further, unless we have a means for validating ethical prescriptions as either worthy or unworthy, we have no warrant for choosing one prescription over another—especially when we encounter apparently competing or conflicting goods. And if we have no mechanism for authentication, then how can we even arrive at a definition of what is good in the first place? Finally, in socio-political thought, on what basis can we choose one system of government over another, or how can we determine whether a law is commendable? Without correct epistemological answers, there is no basis for our understanding or choosing one thing over another. In short, epistemology is really about authority, verifiability, truth, and certainty. Read more about Epistemological Foundations for a Biblical Theology, Part 1

Strive Not About Words

Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (KJV, 2 Timothy 2:14)

I’ve often heard this text used to discourage detailed debate about the meaning of Scripture passages, or even to devalue highly precise Bible study. Is this what Paul’s warning to Timothy here is about?

First, observe that whatever “striving about words” is, Paul clearly saw it as something that threatened Timothy’s ministry. Timothy is to “charge them before the Lord” not to do this. Second, the activity is doubly discouraged as lacking in value (“no profit”) and also as causing damage of some kind to hearers (“subverting”). Third, the activity apparently involved individuals in at least two roles: the “strivers” and the “hearers.”

So what activity is being forbidden here? What is meant by “strive not about words”? Read more about Strive Not About Words

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