Neurostition

What do you get when you cross neuroscience with superstition? One answer might be the word I made up for the title of this post. A somewhat longer answer, though, can be found in Chuck Colson’s latest post at townhall.com.

In a recent issue of the New York Times, respected columnist David Brooks described how what he calls a “revolution in neuroscience” is shaping “how people see the world.” I agree with him—up to a point…

Our brains are not “cold machines.” Rather, “meaning, belief and consciousness seem to emerge mysteriously from idiosyncratic networks of neural firings.”

And Brooks is right when he says that research like this will turn the recent debates over atheism into a “sideshow.” There is simply no way to sustain a “hard-core” materialistic understanding of human consciousness and morality in light of the new research. Where does the consciousness and moral decision-making come from?

That’s a question with an interesting answer, but before we look into that, what shall we make of Colson’s triumphal declaration that recent neurological studies have sounded the death knell for materialism?

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Server hiccups

My ISP seems to be having some server difficulties, and I’ve had to revert back to PHP 4 temporarily, which might keep some of my WP plugins from working correctly. Please bear with us while we get this problem sorted out. Thanks.

 
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TIA Tuesday: The historical irrelevance of Christianity

One of the things that Vox Day has done rather well in TIA is to document the fundamental irrelevance of religion to weighty, real-world matters like war. Unbelievers, of course, have known about this for some time, but it takes real skill to convince believers of this fact. Vox’s unsurpassed success in this field is demonstrated by a review, favorably quoted by Vox, which praises him for to thoroughly debunking the idea that religion played any sort of influential role in the outcome of real-world conflicts.

Unsurprisingly given my own background, it was on the subject of history that I found Day’s critiques of the New Atheists – and of anti-Christian arguments in general – to be most convincing. Not only does Harris in particular get it wrong when it comes to understanding the relationship between religious beliefs (or the lack thereof) and warfare, but atheists in general often distort such events as the Crusades, the Inquisition, Adolf Hitler’s personal faith, and the Aztec practice of human sacrifice in their zeal to demonize all religious believers as troglodytic and potentially homicidal maniacs.

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The Christian Monopoly on Marriage and Family

So last night I was listening to James Dobson—you know, the guy who’s always lecturing us on “family values” while he himself worships an unmarried Father, a celibate Son, and a Spirit who got someone else’s fiancée pregnant? Anyway, I tuned in Focus on the Family as I was driving home from work, and let me tell you, Dobson was livid. I’ve been listening to Dobson since before they bought the “Turn Our Hearts Towards Home” tag, and I’ve never heard him so irate. He’d have been shouting if he’d had anybody there to shout at.

The reason, of course, is that a California court dared, dared, to overturn the state’s Christian monopoly on the definition of marriage. Dobson didn’t phrase it in those terms, of course, but that’s the heart of the matter. Christians are all for tolerance and religious freedom, just as long as they can abuse their majority status to make it illegal to adopt any definition of marriage that differs from their own.

As I listened to Dobson rant and rave about how gay marriage would lead straight to legalized polygamy and thus (I kid you not, he really said this!) to THE END OF DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA!!!1!11, it occurred to me that there is a reason why people like Dobson are so panicked and hysterical about losing their monopoly on marriage. And it’s more than just ordinary homophobia.

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No comment…

Christians Launch Campaign against Global Warming Hype | Christianpost.com
WASHINGTON – While it may seem like everyone believes in global warming and the impending catastrophe it will bring, a group of conservative Christians countered that message Thursday by launching a national campaign to gather one million signatures for a statement that says Christians must not believe in all the hype about global warming.

The “We Get It!” declaration, which currently has nearly 100 signers, is backed by prominent Christians including Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, award-winning radio host Janet Parshall, and U.S. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma.

What supporters of the statement seek is to inform Christians about the biblical perspective on the environment and the poor, and to encourage them to look at the hard evidence, which they say does not support the devastating degree of climate change claimed by mainstream society.

Ok, maybe just one comment: are these the same people who claim to be able to see “signs” of the imminent return of Christ? Any bets on which signs we’re going to see fulfilled first?

 
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Testing worldviews: pantheism

The blogger who goes by the name “schooloffish” is to be commended for taking the time to consider pantheism, a view that many apologists simply brush off without addressing. In his post “DOES YOUR WORLD VIEW PASS THE TEST?“, schooloffish writes:

Pantheism, and perhaps paganism (witches) would hold that all things are GOD or have GOD in them. Pantheist generally have a high respect for life as all life is GOD. The question of contradiction is based more on definition then everything but there are still contradictions within the world view. The most apparent contradiction is that if everything is GOD than nothing is GOD. Even if you define GOD in a very general term as say a life force (The Jedi God), the religion can not account for anything because the life force GOD has no power to create. Therefore the pantheistic god is unimportant and totally meaningless. In a nutshell pantheists stating that everything is god is a meaningless statement and meaningless as a world view.

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Testing worldviews: what the “experts” have to say about naturalism

We come now to the third and final test proposed by schooloffish in his post “DOES YOUR WORLD VIEW PASS THE TEST?“, at least as far as naturalism is concerned.

What do expects say about this world view? Many of the experts that reject naturalism from within the scientific community are blacklisted so scientific experts are hard to find, but they do exist. In addition to this, the actions of the experts within the field speak volumes. It seems interesting to me that science has started looking at other planets for life. The naturalist knows that life simply could not have happened in such a short span of time here on earth, so they are looking at other planets for evidence that itoccurred elsewhere and was deposited here. This is a silent admission that evolution is in trouble.

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Welcome to evangelicalrealism.com!

It’s moving day. The old accommodations were quite nice, and I’m very happy with the service I got at WordPress.com. To be perfectly honest, I’m losing one or two sidebar widgets by moving to my own host. The new place has a lot more room for expansion and customization though, and will let me set up a corresponding web site that doesn’t have to fit itself into the blog way of doing things.

If you’re reading this via a newsreader, here are the new URL’s.

  • http://blog.evangelicalrealism.com/?feed=rss2
  • http://blog.evangelicalrealism.com/?feed=comments-rss2

Also new, and I hope you’ll all bear with me on this: I’m going to put a few ads in the sidebars, just to help pay the bills. Given the topic of conversation around here, I expect a lot of the ads will be for religious books and web sites, which isn’t entirely bad. I’m always looking for new topics to post. ;)

 
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XFiles Friday: Leaping to the next conclusion

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 8 )

Up to now, Geisler and Turek have focused on eliminating atheism as a possibly true worldview, which they claim to have accomplished in chapters 1 through 7. Polytheism (and inadvertently Trinitarianism) were likewise disposed of at the beginning of Chapter 8. According to G&T, that leaves only three possible contenders for the title of True and Accurate Worldview.

The main point is that the right box top for the universe shows a theistic God. That means that only one of the three major theistic world religions can make the cut of truth: either Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. Now, logically, all of these theistic world religions cannot be true—because they make mutually exclusive claims. Moreover, it could be that none of these world religions is completely true. Maybe they have theism right but little else. That’s possible. However, since we know beyond a reasonable doubt that God exists and that he has the characteristics we’ve listed above—characteristics that include design, purpose, justice, and love—then we should expect him to reveal more of himself and his purpose for our lives. This would require that he communicate with us. One of the three major theistic religions is likely to contain that communication.

Having leaped to the conclusions that God is characterized by design, purpose, justice and love, it’s not surprising that Geisler and Turek would take this opportunity to jump to a number of other conclusions, such as the conclusion that God is a He.

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Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 4 Comments »

Theologian answers atheists: “Myth #1, Atheists are Smarter”

A Roman Catholic priest with the impressive (and quasi-military) title of “Legionary Father Thomas D. Williams” tackles what he calls the “myths” being spread by atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens. In a post entitled “Myth 1: Atheists Are Smarter,” he writes the following:

It is a common myth of our day, not surprisingly propagated by atheists, that religious believers are undereducated folk who have abandoned the use of reason in favor of blind faith.

I think he has a point. It’s not necessarily true that a believer has less education or intelligence than a non-believer, and even if it were true it would be, at best, an ad hominem argument against belief itself. The real issue is not who has the most intelligence and/or education. The real issue is who makes the best use of what they do have. And it is on that basis that believers tend to suffer in the comparison.

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