Religion and science are often presented as being in conflict, causing many people to feel that they have to choose one or the other. The conflict is often described in terms of a historical narrative, which I will paraphrase briefly here in my own words (not following any specific author, but drawing from the observations of various people I’ve spoken with over the years who think this way):
First, there was ancient man, who was ignorant and believed in all sorts of local gods living on places like Mount Olympus, or inhabiting stone or wooden idols. He couldn’t explain anything, and saw miracles and supernatural events everywhere.
The Norse, for example, attributed thunder and lightning to the actions of Thor. Over time, the wiser among men, through reason and observation of a common-sense but not scientific sort, concluded that there were no gods actually living on Olympus and the stone and wooden idols in fact were powerless and lifeless. Yet the still couldn’t explain most of what they saw, so they attributed Continue reading “Is religion always losing ground to science?”
This is a question that gets tossed around a lot in debates about religion.
Sometimes a Christian asks an atheist this, with the implication being that in order to reject Christianity and put one’s immortal soul at risk for eternity, one ought to be very sure that it is false. I always cringe when I hear it in this context, for two reasons. First, my understanding of hell and who goes where differs from the conventional view; issues of salvation and the afterlife are simply not as clear-cut as many Christians present them to be in arguments or tracts. I often wonder whether Continue reading “How can you be so sure that you’re right?”
Each person who believes in Jesus as the Son of God has different reasons for doing so. I’ve summarized mine here and discussed them at length throughout the blog. For some people, their personal experiences with prayer provide support for their belief in Jesus. For others, such as myself, the relationship works more in the reverse. I believe in the power of prayer because I believe in the authority of Jesus (on other grounds). As such, I do not consider myself especially qualified to write about prayer. Nonetheless, Continue reading “Does prayer achieve results?”
According to my own definitions of each term, no, evolution and Christianity are not in conflict. However, Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is rejected by approximately half of self-described Christians in the U.S. (according to surveys). The most conservative churches take explicit stands against the theory. The Catholic Church and most mainline Protestant denominations, however, find evolution and Christianity to be compatible (for example, a vast number of Christian clergymen and women have signed here). In general, those individuals and churches who Continue reading “Is evolution in conflict with Christianity?”
It is often reported that there are about 30,000 denominations within the Protestant branch of Christianity alone. This often leads to the suggestion is that if so many different churches each claims to be the correct one, perhaps none of them are. Sometimes this point is made by Roman Catholics as a kind of argument against Protestantism, the implication being that since they are both far older and numerically far larger than any Protestant institution, it is more likely that theirs is the true faith. However, I’ve also seen this line of thinking used in support of arguments against Christianity in general. Looking at the splits over the centuries into so many Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant groups, why should one believe Continue reading “Which church is the One True Church?”
This question has become a popular one for dedicated nonbelievers to ask, rhetorically of course, because it challenges the Christian conception of God on several fronts simultaneously. Christians believe that God exists, that God is good, that God hears and answers prayers, that God loves us, and that God enjoys healing people. Continue reading “Why won’t God heal amputees?”
Many of the social issues in our media and politics today – abortion and gay marriage for example -are topics on which Jesus never spoke directly, at least not in any case that was recorded in the Gospels. Christians can consult other books of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience in order to try to draw the correct conclusions on these issues. However, without direct teaching from Jesus, there is always going to be sincere disagreement.
One social issue on which Jesus did speak directly, however, Continue reading “Is divorce acceptable under any circumstances?”
Time and again, we’re told that God wants us to believe in Him. Yet it must be admitted that God does not make Himself obvious to all of us. In response, it can be said that God is not a physical being and therefore does not exist at a particular location and is therefore not naturally visible to our eyes or audible to our ears. However, that is inconsistent with the claim that if God so chooses (for example, on this occasion), He is capable of revealing Himself visibly and audibly, as one would expect from an omnipotent being.
Furthermore, focusing on eyes and ears just Continue reading “Why doesn’t God just reveal Himself to everyone?”
To begin with, it’s worth summarizing my understanding of the Bible. In my view, it is not a single unified book, and not the inerrant Word of God. Instead, I consider the Bible to be primary source material which, together with conscience, can help us to understand and relate to God to the extent we are capable. I consider Jesus Christ to be Himself the Word of God (as alluded to in John 1), and the various books of the Bible are Continue reading “Does the Bible support slavery?”
Yes, there are contradictions in the Gospels. It is common for atheists to compile a list of contradictions and other difficulties, and for a Christian to respond. See here and here for a good example of the back-and-forth. Some Christians will try to defend each and every alleged contradiction as not being a contradiction at all, since they have committed themselves to the proposition that scripture is free from error (I have not). I think that a fair-minded reading of any of these debates will result in Continue reading “Are there contradictions in the Gospels?”