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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lines of Literature: What's So Great About Christianity?

In his book What's So Great About Christianity? Dinesh D'Souza takes us on a whirlwind tour through economics, physics and astrophysics, biology, philosophy, the problem of evil, and the problem (for atheists) of morality. His aim is to give an answer to some of the anti-God and anti-religion voices that demand our hearing of late. His answer also helps believers to be more confident, not in our faith so much as our ability to stand up reasonably (within the bounds of reason) to arguments against God. 

Earth Images I - ©Spaceshots

Because Christianity acknowledges that man is depraved, western civilization has developed societal mechanisms to cope with the sin of man. In other words, the hallmarks of western civilization are owed to the implications of Christian beliefs. D'Souza writes:
"One may say that capitalism civilizes greed in much the same way that marriage civilizes lust. Both insitutions seek to domesticate wayward or fallen human impulses in socially beneficial ways." (page 64)

About the origin of the universe (the "Big Bang" being the idea that our universe had a beginning ex nilio, from nothing):
"It is very important to recognize that before the Big Bang, there were no laws of physics. In fact, the laws of physics cannot be used to explain the Big Bang because the Big Bang itself produced the laws of physics....Scientists call the starting moment of the universe a "singularity," an original point at which neither space nor time nor scientific laws are in effect...Once upon a time there was no time...If the universe was produced outside the laws of physics, then its origin satisfies the basic definition of the term miracle." (page 121 and 122)

The philosophy of science:
"Modern science seems to be based on an unwavering commitment to naturalism and materialism. Naturalism is the doctrine that nature is all there is. According to naturalism, there are neither miracles nor supernatural forces. Therefore reports of the supernatural can only be interpreted naturalistically. Materialism is the belief that material reality is the only reality....Scientific truth is not the whole truth. It cannot make the case for naturalism or materialism, because it operates within naturalism and materialism. When we realize this, then philosophical atheism becomes much less plausible...." (page 164, 168)
It strikes me, reading this book, that even when we determine not to, we limit God in our perception of Him. We forget that as His creation we are incapable of comprehending fully our Creator. We slip into secular thinking and try to fit truth into materialism and naturalism. We capitulate intellectually and concede that our faith is beyond reason. But our faith is very reasonable if we think bigger about our God. We need to understand that expecting our God to conform to the laws of physics that He Himself created is very limiting indeed.

More quotes from What's So Great About Christianity? coming soon.

Image from Earth Images I @ Spaceshots


Sharon said...

"It cannot make the case for naturalism or materialism, because it operates within naturalism and materialism." This is a vital problem that I don't think atheistic scientists every answer. Mind you, Christians never answer why they believe the Bible is the final authority without referring to what the Bible has to say about it's authority...

I guess the only difference between the two of us groups is that at least Christians are honest enough to admit that they take some things on "faith", whereas atheists seem determined to pretend this isn't the case at all costs.

~ Sharon

Mrs. Edwards said...

This reminds me a of well-intended sermon I heard recently that made me cringe. The pastor intended to embolden the congregation to be confident in the word of God, preaching from 1 John 4:4-54 (You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.)

To make the point that God is greater than the authority of the world, he belittled the accomplishments of professors, scholars, etc. It was argumentem ad hominem, against the man, rather than engaging on the point. I cringed to see the pastor bogged down in insulting professors. He's a great guy and I know he just meant to emphasize God's greatness, but still, it seemed to encourage students toiling under godless professors to dismiss their teaching mindlessly. (Capitulating intellectually and conceding that our faith is beyond reason, in essence.)

But, back to this book. I think it would make many evangelicals uncomfortable in some sections because of his old universe belief and his openness to evolution--but not Darwinism. I wish more young earth Creationists who are largely reactionary to Darwin would read Augustine. But I digress.


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