procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


With all the discussion about the philosophical reasons for Christianity, i thought i'd share these afore-alluded-to thoughts from Arthur C. Clarke (i basically re-read the book and couldn't find it, till i realised it was in a post-script!).

for the ignorami, Clarke is the author of 2001 A Space Odyssey, 2010, 2061, 3001, as well as countless short stories, science-fact as well as fiction novels. a very thoughtful guy.

but anyway, here is the quote, his final word, as it were, finishing off the odyssey series:

Finally, I would like to assure my many Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim friends that I am sincerely happy that the religion which Chance has given you has contributed to your peace of mind (and often, as Western medical science now reluctantly admist, to your physical well-being).
Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is best of all to be sane and happy.
Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future.
Arthur C. Clarke
Colombo, Sri Lanka
19 September 1996

From the Valediction in his 3001 The Final Odyssey

the question remains for those who may be un-sane (ie a religious believer of any shape or form) and un-healthy - why?

i still like his books tho...


Monday, August 27, 2007

... and still a Christian

the sequel to the prequel, ie the second of Greg's talks discussing Christianity and Atheism was again very helpful in understanding why, in the light of present (and past) debates around atheism and agnosticism, how a thinking person could remain a Christian. let alone a theist!

another talk, another list; this time, the reasons for still being a Christian:
  1. it shapes you, but it's not a straight-jacket
    sure, you don't want to discount the influence your upbringing has had on shaping you, but even Dawkins has to admit that he's been able to break free of his memes (even though he's claimed the only reason anyone is a theist is because we're unable to break free of our history, see here for what seems to me to be a contradiction)
    everyone has to have a time when they're able to forge their own path, choosing not to blindly go where many have gone before, but opening their eyes, to discern where their foundations and assumptions truly lie.

  2. just 51% possibility of the existence of the Other makes the resurrection a possible option
    it is to this 51% chance that we THEN bring any other evidence, ie the gospels, contemporaneous writings, archaeological evidence, sociological patterns etc

  3. "living towards death" (c/f Heidegger) gives us meaning and hope
    with anything else, any meaning has to be injected from outside, creating one's own meaning. which is fine, it's simply without foundation.

come back at me if you want (mum and mark, unless there are indeed other readers out there - if so, GREETINGS!)

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Monday, August 20, 2007

not an atheist

on sunday we started the first of two talks on atheism by Greg Clarke, of the newly formed Public Christianity Australia (or whatever it's supposed to be called).

of the many things he talked about, perhaps one of the most helpful was the classification of atheism into four drawers;

  1. philosophical atheism
    that is, it makes sense, logically, that there is no god. Arthur C. Clarke (no relation, i believe), succinctly put it, that it is un-sane to be a theist.

  2. sociological atheism
    the crutch idea - we need a god so we don't have to take responsibility for our own actions, think for ourselves etc - but surely we as a race have matured beyond this primitive need for a god.

  3. darwinian atheism
    evolution = no god. or something like that. whatever. (thanks Ken Ham for all your great work in equating (in scientismists' minds) the scientific method with irreligion!)

  4. ethical atheism
    perhaps where we can feel guiltiest. believers should be known for having all things in common, distributing for the poor as they have any need, caring for the widows, the sick. sure we can point to those who do do this, but that we have to point it out is a blight on us, as we do not, by our selfless works, make God's name known and praised among the nations.

i think that (4) was by far the biggest take home point for me, apart from the great apologetic thinking through of why not become an atheist?, ie, that we need to keep repenting for our unbelief, for living lives that don't necessarily show we have been saved from anything, to be anything.

looking forward to next week's installment, why i am still a christian

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

is it just coincidence that layman is a homonym for lame-man (as in ~'s explanation)?


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

a tale of two psalms

so psalm 105 and 106 both start similarly:

105:1 Oh give thanks to the Lord;
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
106:1 Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,
or declare all his praise?

but whilst ps105 spends the next three dozen verses recounting the marvelous work of God in his people, ps106 takes a different tack:

7 He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.”
6 Both we and our fathers have sinned;
we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.

even the time in Egypt looks okay, until you contrast it with 106:

37 Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold,
and there was none among his tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.
7 Our fathers, when they were in Egypt,
did not consider your wondrous works;
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.
8 Yet he saved them for his name's sake,
that he might make known his mighty power.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry,
and he led them through the deep as through a desert.

they were well provided for, and thankful:

39 He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
40 They asked, and he brought quail,
and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.
19 They made a calf in Horeb
and worshiped a metal image.
20 They exchanged the glory of God
for the image of an ox that eats grass.
21 They forgot God, their Savior,
who had done great things in Egypt,
22 wondrous works in the land of Ham,
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn away his wrath from destroying them.

and were brought into the promised land:

43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples' toil,
45 that they might keep his statutes
and observe his laws.
34 They did not destroy the peoples,
as the Lord commanded them,
35 but they mixed with the nations
and learned to do as they did.
36 They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons;
38 they poured out innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
and the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they became unclean by their acts,
and played the whore in their deeds.

and are giving thanks to the Lord, but for different reasons:

45b Praise the Lord!47 Save us, O Lord our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.

48 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord indeed!

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Monday, August 06, 2007

scripture help?

in my 4th semester of scripture teaching, the kids keep coming up with absolute corkers
from years 4 and 6, the current lot of questions are:

  • How can Jesus be both Joseph’s and God’s son?

  • How is Jesus in the line of David if he's only been adopted by Joseph?

  • Why are the genealogies in Matthew and Luke different?

  • What's the go with Jesus' tomb?

  • (after hearing Goliath was 3m tall), how can we really trust what it says in the Bible?

    i've got some ideas for most of these (the Jesus Family tomb is ok), but i really don't feel like i've got "knock-down answers" for all of them

    any advice would be helpful!

    thanks blog-community!

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