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Have you ever heard this kind of claim from an atheist:

Unlike you theists, I am open to change.  All you need to do is show me the evidence and I'll confess on the spot that I was wrong.  If you can prove God I will switch sides.  You theists on the other hand obstinately cling on to the God hypothesis no matter what the evidence.  You call this irrationality "faith."

How to respond?

Do we say "No I'm very open to change, I just think the evidence is better on our side"?

That might sound tempting.  After all it has the air of intellectual credibility about it (if, ironically, you don't think about it too long).  And it's the least we could do seeing as the atheist has been so even-handed with "the evidence."  Besides, what hope is there for genuine dialogue if we're not open to change?

Well let's slow down a second.  What kind of openness is being claimed by the atheist?

Doesn't their claim amount to:

I, the neutral observer, will accept  the God hypothesis if and only if naturalistic evidence meets my criteria.  And of course such acceptance will be eternally tentative, since opposing evidence may arise to dis-prove the God hypothesis.

Let me ask some questions about those bolded phrases...

Are you really a neutral observer?  Is the scientific community, religious community or indeed the human race collectively a neutral observer?  How could you ever know?  What tests could you perform to figure out whether, when it comes to God, humanity suppresses the truth?

If you are assessing 'the God hypothesis', are your investigations being carried out in a way proper to the object of your study.  I.e. is God really a 'hypothesis' to be tested?  And if you think he is, the question must be asked, Which god are you talking about?  Because it doesn't sound like the God of the Bible.  If, on the other hand, God is a Self-Revealing Speaker, doesn't "scientific investigation" look very different?  i.e. Wouldn't a proper correspondence to this Object of enquiry entail listening to His Word?

Who gets to decide what is "evidence"?  Does the Bible count?  Does it count on its own terms, or only when filtered through other tests?  What about encountering Christ spiritually through Scripture or worship?  Wouldn't that be quite a  "knock-down" proof - for some even literally!  Is this evidence allowed at the bar?

Even if you are a neutral observer, even if God is a hypothesis that could be tested and even if the evidence you demand is the right kind of evidence - will you really 'become a believer' on the basis of this evidence?  Surely, to be consistent with your methods, you will merely line up with the God-hypothesis-camp until a better hypothesis comes along?  This is nothing like what Christians mean by "faith in God."

Therefore in what sense are you open to change?  Admittedly, you are open to reshaping certain of your views - and that is a very laudable thing. Few ever do it, so such openness is indeed commendable.  But the openness of which you speak is set within a tightly de-limited, pre-established epistemological system (i.e. system of gaining knowledge).

And if that's your definition of "open" then the Christian is at least as open.  If you show me convincing evidence about a pre-millennial return of Christ (to choose an intra-mural Christian dispute of secondary importance) then I hope I'm open enough to change.  I hope I am.  Obviously, people are biased, obstinate, self-justifying fools by nature (the Bible told us that long before science did), so it might be an uphill battle, but allow me to declare my willingness to change.

So there you are.  I'm open.

Of course, at this stage, the atheist says: "That's not openness to change!  That's just redecorating the exact same house."  To which I say, "Pretty much!  But then, a tentative assent to the God-hypothesis is also just re-decoration.  The foundations and structure of your beliefs would remain exactly the same."

You might rate yourself as a De-Facto Theist on Richard Dawkins' scale, but it's your commitments to a naturalistic method of knowledge that are really God for you.

To inflexibly hold pre-commitments about yourself, your object of enquiry, your method of enquiry and your criteria of judgement is to be "open" in only a very limited sense.   But here's the thing... pre-commitments about Me and God and the World and how I know things are absolutely inescapable!  I can't even begin to think without at least a shadow of an opinion on these things.

Which means none of us are very open.  There is no neutral space between the Christian position and the naturalistic position.  There is only conversion - i.e. a radical re-ordering of my view of self and God and the world.

Does this shut down all conversation?  Absolutely not!  This is the beginning of genuine conversation.  Now that we know where we all stand (and both Christians and atheists are regularly deluded about this), real interaction can happen.  How?  I say "Come on over to my house.  Let me show you around.  For a time, come in on my foundations, my vision of God and self and how to know things.  Experience the world from within these commitments.  See if life doesn't make more sense.  See if you don't confess that Jesus really is the deepest Truth"  And, by the same token, you can say to me "Come over to my house.  Allow me to show you the Magic of Reality as I see it.  Experience the world from within these commitments."

There's great hope for fruitful engagement (though this is a real statement of faith, I acknowledge!).  I believe that there is plenty to be said on the other side of an acknowledgement of our radical differences.  But let's be honest enough to state our differences.  It's not a case of simply assessing mutually agreed-upon evidence with the obvious tools for the job.  It's about show-casing different visions of reality.

This doesn't mean we cast stones at each other's "houses" or dig into our entrenched positions.  Instead it's a call to hospitality.  Let's love our neighbours.

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Here's my first talk from Ask Eastbourne.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V68x4Z3VknM]

I ripped off stuff from Vaughan Roberts, Lee McMunn, Mike Reeves,  CS Lewis and probably others too!

 

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Audio  Video  Text  Powerpoint

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21

I believe the Bible is the word of God because in it God speaks.  This is not an unfortunate circularity.  At the end of the day nothing could convince me it's God's word except that God speaks.  You could tell me it's great history, it's logically coherent and displays incredible internal consistency as a library of books over many centuries.  Great, I believe all those things.  But that doesn't make it God's word.  The only thing that could authenticate the Bible as God's word is if God personally speaks through it.  And at that stage I'm essentially saying that it's God's word because it's God's word.

Or to shift that argument to christology, I believe that Jesus is the Radiance of the Father's glory because in Him I've met the glorious Father.  Yet this Father is met only in the face of the Son.  In other words, I know that Jesus is Lord because I see in Him the kind of Lord that only Jesus reveals.  There is a self-authenticating majesty to Jesus such that I say, along with Lord Byron, "If God's not like Jesus, He ought to be."  Jesus is the kind of God that I believe in - the kind of God that Jesus uniquely reveals.  He's IT.  And I know He's IT because, well, look at Him!  Jesus is Lord because Jesus is Lord.

At this point you'll note how inter-related these two circularities are.  And also the integral role of the Spirit in both.  He brings us God's written word with divine authority, illuminating Christ so that, in Him, we might see and know the Father.

Now "circular arguments" get a bad name.  For one thing it sounds like buying into them will trap you.  Actually, if you find yourself in the right Circle, you'll finally be free.  The Circle of Father, Son and Spirit doesn't limit you.  No these ultimate realities (because they really are ultimate) enable you to move out into the world all the wiser for knowing their Lordship.  With the Spirit-breathed word, and the Lens of the Father's Son... then you can really get somewhere.  From this knowledge you'll find all sorts of other things illuminated by God's Light.

But still, people will cry foul.  "You can't reason in a circle" people will say.  But hang on, we all employ circular reasoning whenever we make claims about ultimate reality.  Didn't your mum ever justify her pronouncements with "Because I'm the mummy"?

It's inevitable that your ultimate ground of authentication must authenticate itself, or it isn't ultimate.

Now this plays out in all sorts of areas.  But think, for instance, of the naturalist assumption that the "natural" realm is best placed to judge any hypothetical "further realm".  If a "further realm" exists, they say, it must play by the rules of naturalism.  This, of course, radically limits the kinds of realms the naturalist would be willing to admit and means that the gods they consider can only be superbeings within the world.

Now the naturalist cannot establish such a priority via naturalism.  It is, by definition, beyond the ability of the natural sciences to pronounce on the existence of realms beyond their scope.  Yet naturalists assume that the "natural" realm is all there is, was, or ever shall be.

Naturalism, they say, is the best explanation of ultimate reality because other explanations fail naturalistic tests.  Or, to put it most simply, naturalism is true (or our best bet) because naturalism says so.

Now let's be clear - belief in naturalism is not a groundless leap of faith.  It's a faith commitment that springs from compelling evidence (true faith always does).  The evidence is this: trusting our own powers of perception and reasoning has produced great success in the natural sciences.  I.e. it works, it explains things, when we move out into the world on its basis things make sense.

But,

1) The Christian does not deny the explanatory power of the naturalistic sciences.  The Christian believes that such sciences have sprung from a broader Christian world-view and rejoice in the fruits of the gospel here.  Christians simply deny that such knowledge is the only or surest knowledge.

In fact,

2) The Christian sees that naturalism is horrifically reductionistic and harmful when seeking to be applied beyond the natural sciences.  As the old saying goes, If all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  To treat human personhood and relationships, ethics and aesthetics, to say nothing of a relationship with God, as a mere interplay of matter and energy is to misunderstand these things greatly.  The explanatory power breaks down here in a catastrophic way.  And yet, these things - love, forgiveness, beauty, goodness etc - are the most precious realities in human existence.

In the discussion between Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams the other day, Dawkins said he "believed" we would find naturalistic explanations for consciousness - explanations which we do not now possess.  That is a consistent faith position within his world-view.  Naturalism has produced the goods in many spheres of enquiry - he trusts that consciousness will be one more success story for the natural sciences.

Yet all the while an explanation for personal reality presents itself to Dawkins.  One which does not rule out science but underpins it.  And one which accounts for the priority of the personal which is the most blindingly obvious reality which we encounter moment by moment. Nothing else accounts for it like this accounts for it...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.   (John 1:1-4)

I honestly don't know why Dawkins - or anyone - can't see it.  How can there be darkness when the Light of Christ is so dazzlingly obvious?  But then I would say that.  I'm in the grip of the ultimate Circularity!

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Brian Cox - dream-boat physicist, not craggy-faced actor - recently said this:

 Our civilization was built on the foundations of reason and rational thinking embodied in the scientific method, and our future depends on the widespread acceptance of science as THE ONLY WAY WE HAVE to meet many, if not all, of the great challenges we face. (here)

Well now.  Them there's fighting words.  Therefore, I thought it was time to repost this from two years ago (see how cutting edge CTT is?  Discussing Cox two years ago!)

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Just watched this documentary on the Large Hadron Collider: "The Big Bang Machine." (BBC4) presented by Brian Cox.

[youtube=http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=kaRKpQ5QvUQ&feature=channel]

Here's an extract from around 4:20 - 7:20.

Physics is stuck and the only thing left to do is recreate the universe as it was a fraction of a second after the big bang.  That's what the LHC is designed to do.  To smash bits of matter together at energies  never before achieved so that we can stare at the face of creation...

So here's the aim - to stare at the face of creation.

And this is the means - to smash particles together.

Notice the disjunct between the stated aim and the means!   Cox excites us about the scientific quest promising us a 'face' to creation.  Of course "face" says communicative, conscious.  It says personality.  It's no wonder that Cox wants to reach for this kind of language because at bottom it's personal reality that we long to see.  But all Cox can give us is particles.  This is the trouble.

What do you say of a person who promises you a face but gives you only particles?

What do you say of an enterprise that can describe a face only in terms of its sub-atomic particles?

He continues...

...Every civilization has its own creation story.  The ancient Chinese, indian mystics and Christian theologians all place a divine creator at the heart of their creation stories.  Science too has an elaborate story that describes the universe's genesis.  It tells us how the fundamental constituents of the cosmos took on their form.  The difference with this story is that we can test it.  We can find out if its true by tearing matter apart and looking at the pieces.  All you need is a machine powerful enough to restage the first moments after creation...

This was the sentence that made me sit up and take notice: "Every civilization has its own creation story."  And Cox puts 'science' in there among Indian mystics and Christian theologians.  Ok good.  We're all telling stories about the world around us - scientists included.  But what does Cox say is the difference with science?  Answer: "we can test it."  Hmm.  How will science be tested?  Tearing apart matter and looking at the pieces.

Well now that's a very sensible test if you think that matter is what explains everything.  If you have a story about the world that says everything came about via material means then test matter.  Yes indeed that's testable.  But it's not the only thing that's testable.  What if your story about the world says 'Everything came about via the Word who was with God in the beginning and then became flesh and dwelt among us.'  Is that testable?  You betcha!  Every bit as much as the 'science' story.  It's just that you test this story in ways appropriate to its nature.

All science works by testing its object of study in accordance with its nature.  You don't do astronomy with a microscope - your means of testing is adapted to the thing tested.  So if you think it's all about matter, you study matter.  But if you think it's all about the Word then you study the Word.  Theology in this sense is completely scientific.  It is taking its Object of enquiry completely seriously and pursuing thorough investigation according the nature of the Word - ie it is listening obediently to Him.  That's good science.  And it's our only hope of actually seeing the Face that explains our world.  Particles won't get you to the Person - but the Person can help you explain particles...

Cox continues...

In the beginning there was nothing. No space, no time just endless nothing.  Then 13.7 billion years ago from nothing came everything.  The universe exploded into existence.  From that fireball of energy emerged the simplest building blocks of matter.  Finding experimental evidence of these fundamental entities has become the holy grail of physics.

Notice first that this creation story is just as miraculous as any other.  "From nothing came everything".  No explanations are given.  None ever could be.  This is the astonishing miracle at the heart of our modern creation story.  It is not the case that only primitive 'religion' believes in miracles.  The 'science' creation story is equally miraculous.

And again do you how science proceeds?  It proceeds like theology.  The scientific worldview says there must have been simple building blocks of matter that existed after the big bang.  Of course we've never observed these.  Nonetheless the worldview tells us they must have existed.  Therefore science seeks after evidence of what it believes to be true even without the evidence.  It has faith (an assurance of things hoped for (Heb 11:1f)) and from this faith it seeks understanding.  That is the scientific pursuit and it is no more or less a faith-based enterprise than theology.  And that's no bad thing, it's just the way things are.  It would just be nice if scientists came clean about it!

The point is this - don't let anyone tell you science is about matter not miracles or fact and not faith.  The truth is we all have our creation stories.

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7

"A universe with a god would look very different to a universe without one.” Richard Dawkins.

It's one of the wisest things Dawkins has ever said. Believers and unbelievers alike should take heed.

Let's tease out some implications of it.

1) Dawkins clearly has a doctrine of "god" in mind as he makes the statement.  The flying spaghetti monster wouldn't affect the kind of universe we inhabit.  But Thor might.  Allah in a different way.  And the triune God, different again.  Therefore it's not a straight binary choice.

2)  I would look different depending on the existence of God or not.  Dawkins seems to imagine two states (a theistic and an atheistic universe) as alternatives lying before him.  And who is the great unmoved mover in this scenario?  Who is the neutral observer, the one enthroned above all worlds?  The scientist!  But no, Dawkins' thought experiment - if it takes the word "God" with any seriousness - is one in which everything must be re-imagined.  If I am a creature, made by the Father's Word, intended for life in communion with God, then everything changes for me.

3) I would look differently depending on the existence of God or not.  If I was a creature of the Word, and if the world  is a creature of the same Word, I would look through the lens of His Word.  I would see all things in relationship to Christ the Creator.  That would simply be good science if the Christian God existed.

But here's something strange...

4) Dawkins ridicules Christian scientists who do actually deliver a different vision of the universe to his own.  Yet how could they do otherwise, if "a universe with a god will look very different"?

Which only makes me think...

5) Dawkins has not entered into his own thought-experiment for even a minute.  Has he really considered the revolution involved in actually reconceiving Self and World and God according to the Christian vision?  Of course not.  To do so would mean repenting of his position as all-seeing Arbiter.  Or in other words:

"Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 18:3)

 

Pagan superstitions are always threatening to crowd in.  Either Christ reigns or malign spirits will.

It was the gospel that supplanted pagan superstition in Europe.  Through the spread of Christ's word freedom was offered from a bondage to enslaving beliefs.  The world was awash with gods, demigods, and other spiritual forces.  Fatalism ruled and the best you could hope for was some kind of propitiation of these spiritual slave-masters.

But as the gospel comes into this context, people are confronted with a good Lord who has shown Himself to be utterly for us.  He has provided the propitiation.  He has ransomed us from the devil's power.  And He has brought us to the Most High God who reigns over (not within) this world with Fatherly power.

It was the gospel that enabled the West to be secular.  The gospel drove out the spirits from this world and freed a people to become more prosperous than any who have lived before.  It freed us to love the world and explore it.  To experience some of that dominion which the Bible speaks of.

Yet, having rejected this gospel, the gods are flooding back in.  The new priests are telling new myths, but these ones are like the pagan ones: bleak and bloody and utterly tragic.  Impersonal, immoral and fatalistic to the bitter end.

Of course we scoff at superstitions regarding earth.  We feel as though science has dispelled the mysteries of this planet.  Yet our latent paganism shows itself in our views of outer space.   Go onto Youtube and search for any of the hundreds of videos offering a journey through the universe.  Here's one, almost at random:

Notice the soundtrack.  All the soundtracks are virtually identical:  blasts of slow, austere, rhythm-less synth-brass.  If you subtract the synthesizers it's precisely the kind of music that, in bygone days, made lowly subjects bow in fear to their king.  But our new masters are the giants and supergiants.  And this video literally does command us to bow to our lords.

It is a naked power-play.  The heavenly bodies are presented purely in terms of their strength, blinding brilliance and sheer immensity.  And as we listen to the music, how are we meant to feel about these monstrous powers?  Small, insignificant, uneasy, fearful.  They are the impersonal, uncaring forces and many of them are malign (black holes for instance).  Ultimately, so the story goes, the powerful will win the day.  Our fate is to be swallowed up by the strong and, in the meantime, all we can do is cower in their presence.  The best we can hope for is to get on in our own corner of the universe with our insignificant little lives and await the inevitable.

It's the old paganism, this time with CGI.

In the Bible, "the morning stars sing together and the sons of God shout for joy" (Job 38:7).  When the LORD asks us to consider the heavens He doesn't play Mahler's 5th.  It's more like the Hallelujah Chorus.  Joyous, personal, harmonious, rapturous.

Or consider how David viewed the sun: "Like a Bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a Champion rejoicing to run his course." (Psalm 19:5)  The sun speaks of the Light of the world who makes the journey from east (God's absence) to west (God's presence).  And He does so not as a display of His own power, but as our rejoicing Champion and our loving Bridegroom.  His power is for us.  You see, when David looked up He saw love.  He saw a Bridegroom who runs the race as our Champion, and joyfully so.  What soundtrack is appropriate for that?  Jean-Michel Jarre on morphine?  I think not.

But I wonder how much this latent paganism affects Christians.  I wonder whether documentaries like the one above shape our reading of Psalm 19 and not the other way around.  In fact on Youtube I've found Christian videos of Psalm 19 that use the same barren soundtracks.  It's as though we think the "glory of God" is like the old pagan deities but with the trumpets turned up to eleven.

Surely not.

[Some notes from part of a talk I did yesterday morning]

The bible's influence on...

Science

Other cultures produce technology, ingenuity, inventions, not science

Other cultures seek to investigate the world, but by different means

Some cultures good at the practical, but they're not looking for patterns (or "laws")

In other cultures they believe in laws (Reason) but it doesn't occur to them to check the facts

E.g. Aristotle thought flies have four legs, it was taught for a thousand years

He thought there was a necessary universe and reason alone discovered it.

Christianity says there is Reason that takes flesh - which can be handled (1 John 1:1-4)

Here is a solid foundation for scientific enquiry.  Both practical and patterned.

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Economics

Ancient cultures only knew two responses to wealth: either horde or display.

Neither is good for economic growth

A culture is reared on the stories of Jesus - much about reinvesting

According to Jesus, the 'horder' is wicked. The 'displayer' is a proud fool.

More generally, grace and money is linked throughout the bible (riches of grace 6 times in Ephesians)

2 Corinthians 8 - from Christ to us and from us to the world

God never wants "payback" but "pass on" - freely you have received, freely give.

What happens when people apply that economically?

The end of hording and display - reinvestment... economic flourishing.

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Democracy

When did the phrase "gevernment of people by people for people" appear in English?

John Wycliffe - in preface to his bible translation (14th century!)

Bible provides standard by which to challenge divine right of kings

Charles I judges according to Scripture and executed.  Divine right of kings also dealt death blow

More than this - biblical idea of priesthood: representation by one of us.

Not even God believes in the divine right of kings per se.  There needs to be human representation.

The Son becomes Man in order to sit on the throne!

Our rulers need to be of the people.

 


 

Here Richard Dawkins makes the case for being steeped 'to some extent' in the King James Bible.  If we don't know the KJV we are 'in some small way barbarian.'  But he ends by saying:

it is important that religion should not be allowed to hijack this cultural resource.

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej1auSuVM-M&feature=player_embedded"]

Notch it up as another Dickie Dawkins classic.  But before we laugh and point, let's make sure there aren't three fingers pointing back.

You see, because he's talking about the bible the stupidity of his position is obvious.  Of course it's ridiculous to view the bible as first a cultural resource that religion then hijacks.  Any fool knows that the bible is originally, purposefully and most meaningfully a religious text (or if you don't like 'religious', say 'spiritual' or 'theological' or even 'Christian').  It is evident (but not to Dawkins) that the essence of the bible is appreciated only when it's treated according to its true theological nature.  And that to read it through atheistic lenses is the real hijacking.

But Dawkins' inability to appreciate the bible according to its true nature is only one more example of his inability to appreciate the world according to its true nature.  The whole atheistic project follows exactly the same line.  It says that everything is most ultimately a physical, chemical, biological, historical or cultural artefact, let's not allow 'religion' to hijack it.  But to pretend you are honouring the world by treating it non-theologically is just as ridiculous as pretending to honour the Word by treating it non-theologically.

The only reason we don't see its foolishness is because we have, to some extent, bought the double-decker atheistic approach.  When it comes to the world around us we pretty much assume along with the atheists that there are brute facts that are perfectly understood in non-theological terms and that we then work with this raw data to make our theological (or atheistical) pronouncements.  And even if we do dare to wear some theological lenses to view the world, we have a slight guilty feeling that maybe we are hijacking a properly non-theological reality.

But no.  You've got to begin by treating the Word theologically.  And you've got to begin by treating the world theologically.  And it's best you do so in that order.

It's those who fail to see the world according to its essentially theological character who hijack it.

 

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75

Gav once asked me what I thought about a 13.7 billion year old universe.  I gave him an answer which lasted almost as long.  Came across it in comments recently and thought I'd repost it...

The 13.7 billion year old story is told with some very important background assumptions. These assumptions are that all reality has come about through chance and time. (Even if a scientist believes that there is more to the universe, as scientists they operate as though this were the case). But those are the only two ingredients – time and chance.

Now given the astronomically small odds of such an astronomically complex cosmos arising by chance then you’re going to have to have astronomically long periods of time to give rise to it. This is the only real option when time and chance are the only two factors. Small chance must mean big time. The smaller the chance, the bigger the time.

And, to be honest, the story still has immense problems. For one thing, you can give nothing as much time as you like – ‘nothing will come of nothing’ as King Lear once said. And you might also want to ask in a universe characterized by entropy and the overwhelmingly *negative* effects of genetic mutations, whether ‘time’ is really on our side?? But perhaps all those other problems are for another time.

My main point is to say that the ‘time and chance’ story could never be anything other than cosmically long-winded! If time and chance is all there is then the story *must* posit inconceivably long periods of time – there is no alternative.

The Christian story looks very different. This is because time and chance are not the main players in this story. The Christian story begins with a purposeful Creator Father who makes all things in and through and for His Son, Jesus, in the power of His eternal Spirit. Already you can see that the Christian’s story of the world will be very different. You simply don’t need to invoke ‘time’ as the explanation for the world’s complexity. The universe is as weird and wonderful as it is because it’s the love gift of the Father for His Son. It’s as broken and vandalised as it is because of our rebellion against Christ – the Logic of the universe. Time’s just not a big player in this story.

Many Christians (myself included) say the earth is 6000 years old (many others say 10 000. Many also go with the billions of years story as well as the Christian story, though I think there are problems with this). But this comparatively ‘young’ earth position is the result of doing good science.  Not, first of all, the empirical observation kind (though that may well come in later.)  First the Christian will be a good scientist of the word.

All science operates according to methods that are appropriate to the object of study. If you think the speaking God made the world then listening to His word seems an extremely fruitful line of enquiry. So good science will mean good bible study.

The bible itself gives us genealogies from Adam all the way through to the time of Christ’s incarnation – the first Christmas. The bible is extremely keen to trace this through for us (I’ll say why in a second). But what it means is that the evidence is there for all to see. Good science means taking the evidence seriously and on its own terms. Doing so yields an age of 6000 years (or 10 000 if you think some of the genealogies leap-frog generations, which is possible).

Now why is this important?

The bible tells the story of the universe as the story of two men. Adam and Christ. In Adam the creation fell into frustration and death. In Christ, the One who made the world – the eternal Logos (the Logic, the Word) – He enters His world, takes it to Himself and redeems it, bringing glory and immortality. And just as Adam was a real man who really rebelled and really took creation with Him – so Christ is a real man who really obeyed God and really redeemed us. Ever since Adam rebelled the promise of Christ coming to save echoed on down through the Old Testament. The genealogies are carefully recorded to cultivate hope and to show the path from death (in Adam) to life (in Christ). Unsurprisingly, as soon as Jesus is born the bible doesn’t bother with genealogies ever again. But whereever there are genealogies they are emphasizing for us the concreteness of the bible’s story. This isn’t a mythic tale about some heavenly bust-up. In the real world the real man Adam really rebelled.   And in the real world, the real man Christ really redeemed.

The Reason for everything is not hidden in dark matter or found in a 'God particle'. And neither is He unattainably beyond our world. He has entered in to be known – really entered as a real man. You really can know the heart of the universe – and it’s not a sub-atomic particle. The real explanation for reality is not an equation or an explosion, it’s a Person. And because He’s a Person, He can be known. And His story is a story you can enter.

In a sense you can enter it by being a good scientist. Not running off to the Large Hadron Collider (although I’m sure it’d be great fun to go!). But the science I’m talking about is picking up the bible and asking God to show you His Face who is Jesus Christ. When you see Him walking around planet earth like He owns the place you know you’ve come to the real heart of the matter. To understand and know Him is to have your finger on the pulse of reality.

It might mean leaving behind the old stories - but Jesus gives us a better world to inhabit.

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A real mish-mash of thoughts...

Everyone - theologians, scientists, historians, philosophers, etc - we all follow a method of enquiry summed up by Anselm's motto faith seeking understanding. This is not simply how Christians do theology, science, history and philosophy, it's how all creatures must proceed.  We believe certain axiomatic truths, we have heart commitments to certain ways of viewing reality, and we move out into the world on these bases, finding confirmation as we go.

Here's an older post on how the Large Hadron Collider is a great example of this.

Here's another post arguing that all scientists are believers.

And below is a sketch of some things a Christian can positively say about cosmology.

I'll just jot down three thoughts on the multiverse, two quotes from Barth and then a suggestion about how to proceed with Christ at the centre of our thinking.

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The multiverse

1) The Bible teaches a division of creation into invisible and visible - the heaven and the earth.  There is a non-observable realm - and it's vitally important and related to the seen realm.  But this is not the same as the observable universe versus the non-observable multiverse.  For the bible, the heavenlies are a counterpart to earth in a way analagous to the unseen Father's correspondence to His visible Image, Jesus.

2) The seen and unseen realms are reconciled to one another in the decisive, once-for-all event of the crucifixion.  (Col 1:20)

3) There simply is no room in a Christian cosmology for multiple incarnations or multiple atonements.  And this is really the downfall of the multiverse - its relation to Christ.  Christ does not bridge multiple universes in multiple incarnation, He bridges heaven and earth in His singular incarnation.

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Two Barth Quotes from Dogmatics in Outline

“‘Heaven and earth’ describe an arena prepared for a quite definite event, in the centre of which, from our standpoint of course, stands man.” (p60)

“…heaven and earth are related like God and man in the covenant, so that even the existence of creation is a single, mighty signum, a sign of the will of God. The meeting and togetherness of above and below, of the conceivable and the inconceivable, of the infinite and the limited – we are speaking of creation. All that is the world. But since within this world there really exist an above and a below confronting one another, since in every breath we take, in every one of our thoughts, in every great and petty experience of our human lives heaven and earth are side by side, greeting each other, attracting and repelling each other and yet belonging to one another, we are, in our existence, of which God is the Creator, a sign and indication, a promise of what ought to happen in creation and to creation – the meeting, the togetherness, the fellowship and, in Jesus Christ, the oneness of Creator and creature.” (p64)

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How to proceed in Christian cosmology

Beginning from 'the Cosmic Fine-Tuner' would be like beginning with heaven alone.  Beginning from the standpoint of the anthropic principle would be like beginning with earth alone.  The Christian can refuse both options.  We begin with the heavens and the earth - the theatre of God's Glory.  Of course God's Glory is His Son, dying to save.  The cross is the crux of creation (Col 1:20).  When we begin with this in mind we are able to relate the unseen and seen coherently.

The Christian knows that not only is there a Word (Logos) to make sense of the world - not only an explanation beyond.  That Word became flesh, taking our world to Himself.  Therefore the Word from beyond has become a Word in our midst.  The Christian can simultaneously be in touch with this world and with its Explanation - they are one in Christ.

While we ought not to approach Christ 'according to the flesh' (2 Cor 5:16), still according to the Spirit there is a way of examining this earthed Logos.  Now 'according to the Spirit' means 'according to the Scriptures' and therefore this will be a thoroughly theological enquiry.  And yet it will not for that reason be a groundless, ethereal investigation.  This world in its this-world-ness has been taken up into the life of God and proven to be, beyond any question, a realm fit for God (Col 2:9).

Now that we have seen the creative Word in the world and now that we have seen Him - the visible Image - reconcile the world to the invisible Father in the creative Spirit, we have seen a triune dynamic that is inherent to all creation.  Interpenetration of spirit and flesh, then and now, unseen and seen is at the heart of reality.  This will lead us to expect similar perichoretic dynamics in the created order.  As we move on from what the bible strictly says about creation, we will wear these bible-glasses to investigate creation.  This conceptual framework will help us to understand the inter-related-ness of space and time, of waves and particles etc etc.

Just some sketches of thoughts...

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