Friday, 25 December 2009
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Significant proportions of people claiming to be Christian seem to freely mix in distinctly non-Christian beliefs (such as ghosts, astrology or reincarnation) into a mix with more traditional Christian beliefs.
Interestingly Jewish believers are the most likely to accept evolution and the least like to accept creationism (presumably in its popular 'literal' reading of Genesis sense). The complete opposite is true of what the poll describes as "born again Christians" with a wider spread of opinion amongst other in-poll Christian groupings.
Friday, 18 December 2009
Movies of Activity on the Sun - Scary biscuits when we see this and remember that our Sun is quite a puny and inactive star in the grand scheme of things.
Golden Crunch - Non-scary biscuits.
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
It does feel like something is drawing to a close, but it could be too easy to focus only on this. Much more excitingly and interestingly is the reason we are finishing up as it were. Our church has recently made the decision to reorientate how we do church to be structured around 'Mission Expressions' (MEs) which are aimed to be community focused groupings designed to work semi-autonomously from the central church leadership to the further passions and interests of people in our church.
In order to focus us on this and to give ourselves time to do this properly the decision was also taken that Small Groups (SGs) would cease to function in their current form. Although some SGs have joined new MEs as a whole there has not been an ME that has appealed or called to my own group as a whole. We have always been one of the most geographically diverse groups at MBC but we have also been one of the most diverse in terms of giftings, passions and interests.
This has been great for the journey we have been on together the last few years (where else can a scientist weekly meet with artists, business people, community workers, surveyors, etc) but that journey is now taking us in multiple different directions and callings. It is the end of a formal grouping of people, but the beginning of new era in which we will 'loosen' our group and learn to support each other with our group hands open rather than perhaps the hands closed in semi-protection approach that has got us this far.
Exciting times and I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes. Many of us have already got stuck into MEs or other projects and have felt the difficult tug of dividing limited time up between following our callings and Small Group. Therefore in many ways this is perfect timing for our group.
Certainly this is a time for reflection as well, but I don't really see this as an end of an era (especially not when some of us are going for pizza on Sunday). It does fell like there is an element of termination about it all, but really its just the next step on the same journey we're all still on. Only now we'll be able to learn more in a different way, from the many journeys we are all stepping out into. This is a time of change, but change can be good as well.
For ourselves as believers we know that things change, that nothing in this world is ever the same forever. Change and difference over time are fundamental to who we are created to be - in the image of the Creator God. They allow us to grow, to innovate with and to invest in one another. Tonight is the end of something that has been special and great, but it also the beginning of the next thread of the tapestry of existence that is life as God has given it to us as both individuals and as part of the ongoing story we collectively share with Him.
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Anyway, two news links to spruce the place up a bit in the meantime.
Science Goes Back to Basics on AI Research
Mars Methane 'not from meteors'
Both thanks to BBC News.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
- Psalm 139
Monday, 7 December 2009
The book and website take a highly literal reading of the Bible and so of course has to reject evolution from the first page without any real debate on the subject or acknowledgement of evidence for or against.
The authors seem upset at the recent 'one sided' presentations of evolution. By evolution they mean much more than simply biological evolution - modern consmology, Information Theory, genetics, history, etc all come under the usual fire ( i.e. anything they feel personally upsets their rigid conception of God or that they feel they can safely move the goal posts on without Joe Piblic noticing). (Anyway, how dare those theistic evolutionist do that - one sided 'discussion' is our idea, grr! etc) Apparently the entire Bible and belief in God will immediately collapse if we don't reject evolution - as defined by people who reject it! Deary me. The big guy must be quaking in his galactic boots if evolution can cause him to vanish into nothingness.
In order to help us reject centuries of historical and scientific research and thousands of years of theological contemplation the book rolls out a classic series of Young Earth Creationists, Biblical Literalists and Intelligent Design Advocates along with their usual misquotes, misunderstandings and rather too often missing the point arguments. Throw in a few endorsements from some of the leading lights in American Christian conservatism, dust lightly with experts speaking out of the areas of expertise and there you go. That should convince anyone.
Unfortunately it probably will. It looks slick and it'll convince many in the undecided or anxious audience it is playing for but it is in no way going to help a constructive dialogue between the discoveries of science, actual history and theology move ahead. In fact it is going to do a lot of harm and only reinforce the complete disconnect that large portions of our church populations have with reality as God has made it. This book will only reinforce the tragic 'us and them' attitude that many in the church feel they have to have with regards to science and technology - excepting of course when it comes to helpful and nice things like medicine, flat-screen TVs, cars, etc.
I'm sure this has been done with the best of intentions (effort is certainly there!), but as Wayne Grudmen writes in the preface
"I was previously aware that theistic evolution had serious difficulties, but I am now more firmly convinced than ever that it is impossible to believe consistently in both the truthfulness of the Bible and Darwinian evolution. We have to choose one or the other."This is a false choice (and hardly one Wayne hasn't made before as he has strongly advocated Intelligent Design in the past) and a route that can only take people further away from the reality that God has created us as a part of. God wants us to know him and his Creation better. We don't do that by defending an understanding of God that is based solely (and with overriding dominance) on a mechanistic view point of his action in Creation - a view point that is unsupported by history, the evidence from science as well as from solid Biblical study.
History and science are gifted to all peoples by God as part of the tapestry and drama that is the life on this planet and beyond. Together they show that this particular literalistic view of reading the early passages of the Bible must be the wrong way to be thinking about God and that there is a far richer God and story to explore when we unshackle ourselves from this Industrial Revolution view of God. To purposefully deny this and to place human conclusions in its place is arrogance and hubris of the highest degree.
Is this book a last gasp from British Literalistic Creationism? I really hope so. Experience on the other hand tells me it is, unfortunately, unlikely to be.
And is God quaking in his boots over evolution? I doubt it. In fact I reckon He is probably dancing in them as we explore and respond to getting just that little glimmer more of the excitement of His creation when we investigate evolution in His universe.