“When one gives up the Christian belief, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, and what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendental; it possesses truth if only God is truth. It stands or falls with the belief in God.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, trans. R.J. Hollingdale (London, 1968), pp. 69-70.
We don’t bump into a polymath everyday. Let alone a Christian polymath!
Just how is it possible for all these to be accomplished by one person – theologian, pastor, statesman, philosopher, editor, educational innovator, Calvinist reformer, and a prime minister!
He even started a newspaper, and then, as if just to throw in one more before afternoon tea, he founded a university – the Free University of Amsterdam.
Abraham Kuyper was otherwise an ordinary 19th-century Dutchman. Continue reading
The new atheists brazenly claimed that they have succeeded in removing religion out of the arena of rational beliefs and consigning it to the realm of irrationality and superstition. They believe they have exposed religious beliefs as inexplicable, unreasoned and therefore absurd.
In its place, in some quarters, science is extolled as the sole and final arbiter of all reality and truth.
Believing the scientific enterprise to have no limitations, they assert that in time, everything in the universe will be clarified and interpreted. And they attribute their success to the very nature of science – claiming that science is a value-free, independent empirical enquiry into the nature of things.
This short note is intended to explore the claim that religion begins with assumptions and science begins with facts. What I will say here is not new to many who have been following the spat between science and religion, but I just have to get it off my chest! Continue reading
Twenty years ago, preaching through the Apostle’s Creed, and touching on the line “I believe in the resurrection of the dead”, I remember being forcefully reminded that God does not have an innate disdain for physical matter, necessarily. For when the creed affirms “I believe in the resurrection of the body”, it looks forward to the Resurrection Day, when we will be resurrected in the body.
Notice how concretely the creed puts it. It does not talk about “the resurrection of the dead” but “the resurrection of the body”.
When this life is over, we shall not be a ghost in a machine. We will be resurrected not as bodiless, ethereal phantoms. Rather, we will have real tangible bodies. Continue reading
If we were to admit it, we will have to say that we do have a kind of an instinctual distrust of Mary. She has come to be so inextricably associated with Roman Catholicism, we have developed not just a dread for her but indeed a strange kind of revulsion over her.
We rightly frown upon the Catholic teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity; her immaculate conception; her bodily assumption and her role as Co-redemptrix with Christ in salvation. That this kind of exaggerated devotion to Mary does not praise her but in fact slanders her by turning her into someone she herself did not aspire to. And we feel if we cannot give to her the kind of devotion that our Catholic friends give to her, we best have nothing to do with her. Continue reading
This morning watching Praise Be on television, I was moved when the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel was sung as the very first hymn of the First Sunday in Advent. It echoes the cries of those called “the quiet in the land” who for four hundred silent years waited longingly for the first advent of the Messiah.
Whether they were conscious of representing Ancient Israel or not, these remnant few pined with anguish for the coming of the Messiah. This hymn resonates that clamour. It expresses our heart’s yearning for the Messiah to consummate human history and more pointedly, the history of redemption. Continue reading
After 25 years as a quantum physicist, John Polkinghorne startled many when he became an Anglican priest.
For some time now, Polkinghorne has always insisted that science and theology have what he calls a “cousinly” relationship. He attributes to God as the reason for the question why there is “something” rather than “nothing.” In fact the very discipline of science is possible is because of the God-given gift of human rationality. In fact, one of the marks of being made in the image of God is the human ability to pursue truth and reality in a rational way. The exploration of the cosmos, which bears the marks the mind of the Creator, is itself is a privilege humans are given to enjoy.
He has insisted that science and theology are only looking at reality from different perspectives. He contends that science cannot claim absolute authority and competence. To him, science has an inherent “circularity” about it’s discipline while theology provides the way out of that circle. Science is unable to assign its own metaphysical interpretation and therefore needs to refrain from speaking into areas outside its discipline and exercise a measure of epistemic humility. There are issues that lie way outside what science is able to explore and here theology may contribute to what Polkinghorne calls the “metascientific discourse.” Although this physical world is constituted by gluons, quarks and electrons, it is in this same world that humans make moral choices. Continue reading