Presuppositional Apologetics and me

So I’ve recently found out about a style of apologetics called Presuppositional Apologetics. Essential these seems to be the style of argument where you suggest that your opponent presupposes the existence of God in their own beliefs about the world. A simple example of this is the Moral Law argument. Your oppoenent suggests that there is an absolute morality and you show that this assumes a moral law giver, namely God.

At least I think thats what it is, i definitely need to read more. Anyway I think I have a kind of similar method of “apologetics” if you can call it that. My method of apologetics seems to be assuming the ressurection of Christ and then assuming he didn’t rise and then arguing what makes sense from those assumptions.

For example in answer to the question, How can a good God cause suffering, isn’t he just horrible? I’d say well this is where we need to have faith in him, he’s making a world that is worth all this suffering. What evidence is there that we should trust him? Jesus, God, suffered and died on the cross  as part of his plan. He is sufferingWITH us not above us and this is why we can trust him when we suffer ourselves.

This is definitely simplified but also requires the dual nature of chirst. If Jesus was just a mere human, then this would be a silly argument. Many have been crucified since Jesus and many have suffered more then that. Also if God just made some random human suffer loads that still makes him seem pretty horrible and doesn’t help the previous answer. Similarly if Jesus on the cross wasn’t fully human, but was like an avatar. Then he doesn’t really know real human suffering, he’s just gone through a facade of suffering but he didn’t really die.

I don’t think this is a conclusive answer to the question of pain and suffering in the world. But it demonstrates this argumentative technique. I answer questions by presupposing other theological truths that eventually lead to the death of Christ on the cross and the rest of the gospel. However, it wouldn’t fully convince an opponent because it relies on the ressurection being true. If you just reply, but I don’t think he did rise then my argument will show how, based on that, one ought to be angry at a God who allows pain and suffering. So this could never “convert” anyone.

However, I think it counts as an apologetic as it still attempts to demonstrate how important the Gospel is, (just not its truth). It shows that the God of Islam would not be worthy of being trusted in this manner, at least shows that this argument could not support Islam.

Anyway, I’m going to continue reading about this but I’ll be interested to see if there is a name for this kind of apologetic. Its a bit wierd, it means I can have many unoffensive arguments that show lots of stuff but feel pathetic as they can never really convince anyone. On the other hand, is it too bad having an argumentative style that requires God at the end to do the convincing directly himself?

Starting down a new path – Drupal and the church

So, I’m in the middle of doing an essay I really don’t want to do. We’ll see if this is just procrastination talking but I’m starting to feel like doing a Masters is not what I want to be doing. I want get started on the real stuff I always planned to do after the masters, a year earlier.

I really feel there is a gap for good church website building software that is opensource that could compete with the propriety software such as City and churchinsight. I think that software like that is fine and certainly morally defensible from a Christian standpoint. However, Open Source software and the community around drupal is just so much cooler and imo so much powerful in a community like the church.

Once this essay is in I’ll start blogging a bit more with how things are supposed to go.

Why a Super might support the Brights.

Recently I have been involved in a community known as They are a group of people who are ‘raising awareness and acceptance for people with a naturalistic worldview’. They claim a naturalistic worldview is anyone who does not accept supernatural and mystical elements and that they are a social action group, not a philosophical group. Therefore you are a bright by self identifying as a bright, and if you call yourself one you can get involved in promoting this worldview.

They are initially very odd! People like me, who do except the supernatural (sort of) are called ‘Supers’. For fun I asked the question ‘Could a fully normal orthodox christian be a bright? For now I thought I should just copy a post I posted on their forum onto my blog. You can check the thread out here.

Here is the original post:

I thought I’d post this as a list of intentions and reasons why other Supers might join me in supporting the Brights. Also you could tell me if these are reasons you’d support.

1) Dialogue is the best way to get to the truth. The truth is Jesus and that is evangelism.
I think it works with the brights because dialogue is two way.

Personally I think many people would agree that dialogue is one of the best ways to get to the truth. If you take 2 people with opposing views who both think others should think like them, dialogue is fantastic because the same act brings together both their contradictory purposes. If A is right about something and thinks they can convince B, then they would want proper constructive dialogue with B. But if B also thinks they are right about the same thing (with a contradictory view) they would also want that same dialogue with A, for their own purpose. Seeing as they both believe they are right they both will never have a time when they feel it needs to end.

In fact I think dialogue can be fun for the two concerned. The same is true of an atheist and a theist, or a Muslim and a Christian, etc. Real dialogue can be something that they both want.

Now in general the ‘supernaturalism vs naturalism’ public debate has involved things that end dialogue. Many times it descends into rants on why the other side is ‘evil and without morals’ or it turns into merely public shouting and lobbying contests. The fact that many supernaturalists seem intent on ending dialogue and forcing legislation is something I think the brights are against. Well as a Super I’d be against that too.

Does that mean I’ve joined the Brights to subversively try to convince and convert everyone here? Well no, that wouldn’t be dialogue that would be me trying to convince you. Dialogue involves 2 parties listening, learning and ‘convincing’ each other. No, my presence here is not for evangelism to you, but I do believe the Brights does help with ‘evangelism’ towards others. You wouldn’t believe the acceptance for a discussion about Jesus at university since the God Delusion and the atheist buses. I do believe Dawkins’ book will go down in church history as the thing that saved christianity in the UK.

2) There are non-biblical reasons why one would support equality and freedom of speech

I do not believe the bible demands freedom of speech as a political ideal. In fact one thing I love about christianity is that it can work in most political systems and philosophies. A Christian can maintain their integrity in a capitalist system with their charity, but also maintain it in a communist system with their diligence. However the bible is not against freedom of speech nor equality either. So for different reasons as a Super I would still believe strongly in equality and freedom of speech as a political ideal. Though I would not believe some of the things a Bright would believe, I would defend strongly their right to believe it and be accepted for those beliefs. (On a personal level I might talk about why I believe the contradictory beliefs that I do)

3) The brights (and dawkins) bring these discussion into relevance, which encourages dialogue

As I mentioned previously, the importance of encouraging further dialogue. I believe Christianity is true, and therefore if someone attacks its truth I think it should be defended (if it can’t then that is a serious issue). However it is much more difficult to defend against the claim that Christianity is irrelevant. The God delusion and the show ‘the root of all evil’ essentially said “Christianity (or theism) is incredibly important, people should be more aware of its importance because it is both wrong and potentially dangerous/evil”. The second part can be defended against, the first part supports our aims and support our aims it has. So many people are interested in talking with me now and usually it is because that book. (Even my flatmate who was a big evilbible reading socialist anti – theist 16 year old activist, though he doesn’t like the book anymore was literally counting down the days to that book coming out on his calendar).

Now with this point I think it is more the ‘new atheists’ who I would support. I don’t think the brights have quite the same aim as Dawkins with this respect and would be happy if christianity was relegated to irrelevancy. But I think they are similar enough for this point to still stand.

4) The brights (and dawkins) seem to attack the aspects of our religion that need to be attacked (for example blind faith)

This is one which again I don’t think the brights inherently stand for but many of their members probably will. There are bad aspects of our faith. I remember a conversation about calvinism with 2 teenagers. One was engaging with the discussion, whilst the other was finding it hard to keep up and understand the concepts. At the beginning of the conversation he was just saying “I don’t understand”, by the end he started trying to justify himself to make himself feel better and the comments subtlety changed to “I don’t NEED to understand because I just believe”. I could imagine, if he were around different people who thought like him (instead of us) in a little christian clique they would have given each other Christian Kudos. Soon the more crazy ideas that you can adhere to without explanation becomes their definition of ‘more faith’. There is nothing wrong with not fully understanding the things you believe (imo), there is nothing wrong with not being able to rigorously explain and defend your views. But there is something wrong when you use your lack of understanding to claim superiority over someone else.

And its just plain stupid to approach people outside the church with this kind of misguided arrogance. This is one example of an aspect of some people’s belief that Dawkins challenges well. I would prefer it if these challenges came from within the church, but would still welcome it from outside.

5) I really dislike the way some Christians treat those who want abortions and people who have a homosexuality disposition

Take the Christian Voice in the UK for example.
My belief is this, the bible makes a strong case against sexual impurity. It makes a really big deal about it, it also makes a big deal out of murder. In fact both these things should warrant a stoning. Jesus comes along and changes things a bit, although the stoning is no longer the correct treatment of these issues, he makes them even more difficult to satisfy. Lust constitutes sexual impurity and Anger constitutes murder.

Now politically I think I’d like more education on why sex with one partner is good. However these Christians seemed to have realised that if they tried to fight against sexual promiscuity or serial monogamy they would be fighting a losing battle (the cynical person in me thinks they would probably be fighting against those in their own ranks anyway). So instead of dealing with the issue the bible spends a lot of time dealing with they attack the smaller minor issues that the bible deals with. I might write more later on what I think about the whole abortion debate and maybe homosexuality but the reason why I think they spend so much time on those issues is because venerability.

People with a homosexual disposition have been made venerable by all of our culture. Historically this may be due to religion but presently is not, in England the BNP is very openly homophobic for example so they are easy for christians to attack. And people who have had an abortion or feel a need to are usually fairly venerable about it anyway (from my knowledge) so they are easy to attack. I think these christians target easy wins so they can feel good about themselves. By closing the Jerry Springer show they have fought a ‘win’ for their Lord. I don’t think this kind of protest is inherently wrong. I just think in most specific cases (such as with christian voice) they are just pathetic.

The Brights have their own reasons for opposing organisations like the Christian Voice and the political ‘fundies’ of America and as a Super I have my own reasons for joining arms with you.

6) Doubting and coming to an understanding is essential to maturity (including christian or spiritual maturity). This should be encourage by christians and is welcome from outside the church

I’ve talked before about the ‘ridiculousness of christianity’. I think it is very important that people doubt their beliefs then overcome their doubts. This is true, imo, of almost everything and is especially true of Christianity. If Christians think that the theory of evolution is damaging to children’s faith, by withholding information about it they are killing it, imo. So where as the brights will try and promote naturalism and challenges to supernaturalism for their reasons, I’d support almost all of those challenges for my own.

So there you go. As you can see, I’m not pretending that I’m a Christian and a Bright. I’m definitely a Super! But I think almost all the tenets of the Brights I could support for reasons that I think also push forward the Super’s agenda (Not in contest with the Brights but alongside).

I apologise for the typos, as I read this thread a bunch of times I’m sure I will slowly edit them out.

Why I am a Fundamentalist

I’m not really a fundamentalist christian. It’s just interesting the stigma that has been further attached to the word since it was first used. People are now ok with ‘religious people’ but it is fundamentalists and extremists that now cause all the wars around the world. I remember one lecturer arguing against Richard Dawkin’s the God delusion by suggesting that most religious people were not fundamentalists but people who just wanted to get on with their lives and let others do the same. Fundamentalism is associated with 6-day creation, bombing abortion clinics and anti-homosexuality then of course Islam, chauvinism, suicide bombing and the twin towers. 

Between 1910-1915 a short pamphlet was published called ‘The Fundamentals’. These people outlined and argued what they believed were the fundamentals of the christian faith in this pamphlet which was then sent to many churches across America. This was particularly in response to the relativism that was becoming accepted into the church during the post-war era (Further reading here and here). They believed that there were fundamentals to the christian faith that other aspects were derived from. This was opposed to the idea that Christians could believe pretty much whatever they liked and the only thing that made you a christian was that you called yourself one. Since then the word and ideology has become distorted and attacked (sometimes it was their own fault) turning the movement into an anti-reason, anti-intellectual movement that requires a literalistic interpretation of the bible and a radical application from its followers. 

Dawkins believes that fundamentalism implies belief  in the face of evidence. To me that seems like a pretty simplistic definition. It assumes scientific statements are the only statements that can be made but if I were to say “Killing is wrong” what kind of evidence could be provided to support that? So lets suggest it’s belief without argument, evidence, reason. Well that’s not really true, the movement started as an argument for these fundamentals. In fact because fundamentalists believe their fundamentals to be true, arguments and reason are encouraged. It can only illuminate the truth of those fundamental beliefs (Admittedly there are anti-intellectuals who do think it best not to discuss their beliefs or ever change their opinion but this is a seperate issue to what is inherent in fundamentlism. There are Christians who are like this, Dawkins actually does do a good job attacking these kinds of people).

But I think people are more fundamentalist then they would like to think. Lets take an fundamentalist organisation that every left-wing, liberal, activist, secular humanist would probably love – amnesty international. It is a truly fantastic organisation that theist and atheist alike can get behind as it campaigns for human rights across the globe. I remember someone telling me that the reason why they would like to boycott the olympics in china is simply because of china’s support of the death penalty. This person believed all countries that support the death penalty should be equally boycotted, such as America. During this conversation a clearly right-wing American who disagreed on this point. They put forward many arguments and stories about incredibly evil people doing evil things and being paid to live in luxury in a prison. None of these arguments mattered. To the original person and amnesty international it is a basic human right to live. There is no human who has the right to take away this right or any other human right. Arguments about the inhumanity of the criminal do not make it more humane for the government to act like the criminal. In fact they merely support their view, that killing is wrong and we shouldn’t do it.

Now I’m pretty sure that many student members of amnesty international would not like to compare their organisation to organisations like the Taliban. But in this manner they are both fundamentalists. It is a fundamental belief that the death penalty is wrong. From this fundamental belief many of the practises and doctrines of the organisation follow. This fundamental belief then continues to influences the way of life of the members. They protest, they campaign and they help those who have had their rights violated. This organisation is even evangelistic and clearly against relativism. The human rights are universal, they apply to everyone even if they disagree. It is as wrong to kill someone in Scandinavia (where anti-death penalty is part of the culture) as it is in china (where it is not). They will do everything they can to make this fundamental belief influence the practises and life of literally everyone.

But this organisation is clearly not evil! Nor is it anti-intellectual. These people will usually have very clear and thought-out reasons why the death penalty is wrong. They will defend their fundamental beliefs and usually they will allow their beliefs to be challenged. They will accept arguments for the death penalty, but with faith that it will be demonstrated incorrect (because the death penalty actually IS wrong). This is not fundamentalism, as in, the exact views of a particular group of people who wrote a book in around 1915 but this is the kind of fundamentalism I would subscribe to as a Christian. I believe that Jesus is God. I believe he died and rose again and that this is not just a fundamental belief of mine. But it is both true and essential to my daily living. It is a fundamental belief from which the day-to-day practises of my life are derived. But it is not against evidence or reason, I’ll welcome challenges and discussion with full belief that eventually it will be universally shown to everyone that these fundamental beliefs are fundamental facts. Not through my personality, not through shere force of argument or manipulation. But simply because it is the truth (relative to everyone). 

Fundamentalism and extremism are inherently against the worldview of some people. Some people are relativist and hate the idea of absolute truth, some people hate extremism, they want conformity. They hate it when anyone deviates from the norm and extremists will always do that by definition. However, they are not inherently evil. Amnesty international are a good organisation, even if they sometimes have faults. Extremism for a Good, Just and Right cause is not evil, even if it is not conformist. In the same way that fire can be used to provide warmth or death, the same way that football provides both entertainment and hooliganism, the same way that religions and idealogies have been behind movements for good and evil, fundamentalism and extremism can be used by good and evil people.

I think maybe the title of this post should have been, “Why you are a fundamentlist” 😛

Why I Hate Christmas

So its christmas and I’ve decided I’m a scrooge. I just don’t like it, I can’t deal with the tinsel, I hate the christmas music on constantly in clothes stores, I can’t deal with carols and hate the carol singers even more. I don’t like carol services nor midnight mass nor nativity plays nor any church related christmas service I can think of and I can’t deal with the twee feeling and all the santa’s grottos. I watched a Smallville Christmas special a while ago. Clark had to skip some of his christmas party to deliver presents to poor children for Chloe. He sees someone dressed as santa about to kill himself because the ‘true meaning of christmas’ has been forgotten. Clark explains to santa that he’s been delivering presents instead of going to a party and the santa decides life is worth living. Santa then goes to Chloe and helps her deliver the presents but he does it instantly. Could that have been the real Santa??? EURGH!

Yeah Christmas specials are definitely one of the things I hate the most!

However, I’m really just messing around. It’s really because I’m a christian, and a particular type of christian. Now some people dislike christmas because they say that actually it was a roman festival of worship of the sun god. They say that christians just high-jacked a pagan festival and that actually the roots of christmas are evil. We still use symbols that clearly have nothing to do with Jesus such as the christmas Tree, holly and the yule Log. However I don’t really care about that, in fact I like that imagery. There used to be days devoted to the devil, and like Jesus is redeeming the world through his church he has redeemed some holidays.

Many thought that I’d find it difficult being a Christian studying Physics with Philosophy. They thought I’d have to keep my head low. But actually it’s great. The fact that my views are so obviously antagonistic to the majority of the people around me allows for far more interesting discussion. I don’t get into arguments that much because people never really feel a need to prove themselves to me or prove me wrong. I’m a christian, I regularly talk to an invisible man, I’m crazy so then so what if I disagree with their view on dating? It’s great, at uni I can just talk about my views, my faith and my God. I find I get into way more arguments with people who sort-of agree with me… such as with other christians! 

But then Christmas comes and ruins all that. Suddenly everyone is sucked into the lovely cute feeling of Christmas. There is talk of the “true meaning of Christmas”, about ‘universal love’, ‘hope’, ‘peace and Goodwill to all humankind’. As a christian its like I’m expected to go along with that. I’m expected to be happy because people who normally are totally against my views spend one holiday of being more ‘christian like’. I’m a Christian, I like hope, shouldn’t I be happy that everyone else is getting into it? NO! No no no no no. This is my main problem with Christmas. The Christmas everyone else celebrates is worlds apart from the christmas I celebrate. They talk about hope but what are they hoping for? Christianity is not about an abstract of feeling of hope that helps us get through the day. The hope is in Christ. 

In fact its all about Jesus. We don’t just hope, we hope in Christ. We don’t want an abstract universal love, we want God’s perfect love poured into us so it overflows to those around us, it’s love but its love that starts with Jesus. We’re not looking for general good will to all men we’re either looking for God’s goodwill to all men or more specically God’s will to all men! If you remove the Christ from Christmas you don’t get something that is almost like what I believe. You end up with something abhorrant to me. I’m not into niceness, I’m not into being moral, I’m not into hope and peace nor am I into good will to all men. I’m searching for freedom from those horribly constraining things, I’m searching for freedom from morality and guilt, from niceness and feeling held back and from needing to hypocritically put on a facade of goodwill to people I hate and fortunately I’ve found that freedom. I’ve found it in Jesus and I’ve found it in his death and ressurection. From him I no longer need to worry about being nice, I just become like he wants me to, I don’t need to worry about what people think of me because Jesus loves me, and I don’t need to worry about trying to like people I hate because God shows me everyone through his eyes, his sons and daughters and my brothers and sisters.

So I put on an act of being like scrooge. It is easier to tell people I don’t know very well that I hate christmas specials then to tell them that I think that they are hoping in nothing. (Having said all that, I really really do hate christmas specials… and carols)

How could a good God cause pain and suffering in the world?



The Incarnation of God the Son in the person of Jesus Christ is an absolute necessity in Christianity. It is the core doctrine of our religion, and for a number of reasons. Most important is this: without the Incarnation God would be intolerable. God has created a world in which he allows immense suffering to occur to individuals and communities all over the world and throughout time. If God simply observes the suffering that results from his creation without participating in it himself he would be morally intolerable. He would not be loving, not merciful, not compassionate. Only by becoming one of us, one of his own creatures, can God fully experience what it is like to be a frightened, suffering, limited being.     


It is for this–because God does love the world–that he sent his only Son, One in Being with the Father, to live on this earth as the human being, Jesus Christ.


So the problem goes like this. If there is a tri- omni God. That means a God who is omnipotent (All-powerful, able to do literally everything), omniscient (All- knowing, knows everything, all thoughts, all knowledge, and most importantly exactly what is going to happen) and Omnibenevolent (All – loving, loves and cares for everything in the fullest sense of the word possible). So, if there is this God, How can there be pain and suffering in the world? The argument (made popular by Hume) goes, that one of the omni’s would have to drop:

  • He is not Omnipotent – God loves everyone and knows that pain would happen, but is powerless to stop it
  • He is not omniscient – God loves everyone but when he created things, didn’t know how they would turn out and things have turned out badly (So really he isn’t omnipotent)
  • He is not omnibenevolent – God knows that pain and suffering will, have and do happen. He has the power to end all suffering on the earth but chooses not to because he doesn’t love us.

Hume’s Problem of Suffering

If God were truly all powerful and all loving, he would end suffering, but he doesn’t so either he is evil, or he is powerless to stop it. Now this was a philosophy that was put forward to disprove God a while ago. However since then philosophers have apparently move on. It doesn’t really disprove God. This is because it assume we know what it would be like to be all knowing, all loving and all powerful. It says, Why would this God allow suffering to happen? Then assumes that because we humans can’t think up an answer that there must not be an answer and if there is no answer then there cannot be a God like this. But this is a massive assumption, it could easily be possible that God knows exactly what he is doing, he has the full power to end suffering and he is simply doing it the best possible manner that anyone could do. We’re simply human so there is no way we’d be able to fully understand that. So it doesn’t disprove God. So why do people still ask the question again and again when talking to us Christians? In fact, why do Christians still have a massive problem with this? I know full well that there are many times Christians get angry at God for allowing certain things to happen. Even C.S Lewis who wrote a book dealing with this question in, A problem of Pain, started to doubt that God was a nice God after his wife died of cancer in the book, A Grief Observed. I’d like to make two points about this question.

Old Testament solutions

Firstly there is someone who definitely knows the answer. That is God. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He is the tri-omni God and therefore, as he knows everything, he should know the answer. Fortunately for us he is a communicative God. It is actually possible to ask God this question and he will answer. In fact, this is something I recommend anyone who takes this question seriously does for themselves. However, there is another place we can go. The scriptures. This question is not a new question and is in fact raised twice in the old testament. Twice, a person encounters a problem similar to this question and twice God answers in such a way that is satisfactory to them. Firstly there is Job, He is a Godly man who has done nothing wrong, he has a lot of land, a wife and many children, he is happy. God allows Satan to totally destroy Job’s life, destroying Job’s fields, killing all his children and then covering him in boils. Job is suffering and cries out to God multiple times, What have I done wrong God? Who are you to Judge me? Come down here and tell me what I have done to deserve this God because I have done nothing! (Job 31:28). Indeed, Job’s friend’s get annoyed at Job. Who are you to Judge God? they say, You’ve clearly done something wrong because God always judges correctly and you, a mere mortal are in no position to tell God otherwise (Job 21:22). However, at the end of the book God himself comes down and answers the question. He directly answers the problem of Job’s suffering himself! And what is his answer? Well its kind of “Look at me, I’m God and I’m pretty amazing”. He simply explains how great he is for a couple of chapters and the confusing thing is. Job buys it. Job never cursed God, he merely questioned him and desired an answer. God answers Job so Job gets well happy and worships God. It is interesting that God rebukes Job’s friends. God prefers it when people put the question to  him instead of make up answers to make people feel better (or worse)(Job 42)

So God likes it when people ask him the question and there is a second person in the bible who asks it of God. The book of Habakkuk. In this book the prophet Habakkuk asks God the question, How can God allow the injustice that his people (the Jews) are committing to continue when God loves the Law so much? Well God replies, don’t worry about it, I’m going to punish the Jews by sending a big army of evil people to wipe them out. Then Habakkuk says, What!? If you love the Law so much, how can you send evil people to do your will? So God says, yeah don’t worry about that either, I’m going to send some more evil people in an army to wipe out the first evil army I sent and punish them for being evil to my people (the Jews). Now this is heavily paraphrased and you can read it yourself (its very short) by clicking the link but the surprising thing is, Job is actually satisfied by that answer! He gets really happy and praises God.

Now we have two answers to the problem of suffering: 1) I’m really great and 2) I’m going to punish a huge bunch of evil people using evil people who will then be punished. I very much doubt any readers dealing with this question will be convinced! But it is important because it shows that God knows this question, he likes it when people ask him (instead of just assuming what he is like) and when he has answered people in the past, they have been satisfied with the response. Now, the introduction is sort it leads me into what I wanted to talk about in this blog.

The Emotional Problem

The reason I think people still ask the question, despite what the philosophers say is something like this. People hate suffering, they hate immorality and they hate injustice. It makes people angry. When they see it happen they want it to stop and think if I had the power to end this, I would! Why isn’t God? I realise that this doesn’t prove his non-existence but it is still a problem. I realise it is possible he has a master plan behind this suffering. But why should I trust him? If someone was beating you up every day for 10 years, but told you that they knew best. You’d still want to tell them to clear off as soon as you knew you could! This is what many (not all) atheists are doing now. Many people don’t care whether he exists or not. They simply don’t like him. This is not a theological problem. It is an emotional problem. And an important one. I think that instead of answering the question in the title of this blog people should answer the question, “If God made us in his image, with his heart and a view of injustice similar to his, How comes we all hate how things are going and all want something done by it? Why is humankind so pro-change and anti-injustice? If its because we reflect God’s attitude then why isn’t he doing anything about it?” Some answer this question with, “well humans are so depraved that we hate things that are good”. I don’t like that really, if I really hate things that are good because I’m so messed up then God is pretty much evil to me. So lets try something else.

An Answer

The problem with Hume’s problem is the nature of “Omniscience”. The image conjured up by Hume’s depiction of an omniscient God is a God more similar to the “God games”. Its like someone playing The Sims. Its like a child feeding her toy doll fake milk, its like a man with his train set. We have this idea of a God who knows everything but is totally separate from everything. He can oversee it, but he is not involved. Even Christians sometimes fall into this trap. They see that God is loving because he can give them things. God loves us because he gives me money. Its like the person playing The Sims. They give their little computer animated characters some food and see happy points go up. This is the point raised in the quote at the top of this blog post. This view of God is horrible. This “God game” like God is a horrible dictator who is giving us pleasure and sufferings for his own purpose that has nothing to do with us. He is overseeing our lifes for his own selfish master plan but has no stake in it. 

But this is not the biblical view of Love, and this is not the biblical view of God. In 1 John 4:10, John says “This is Love: not that we love God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” There are lots of things people think of when they think of God loving them. They think God comforts them when they are sad, that God gives them Job security, that he gives them money or great kids. All of these things are things you can do for you “Sims” in a computer game. But, whilst these things are nice, none of these are the main reason why we know God loves us. He did something more significant that we can’t even do in God games. He became fully human and then he died.

This is such an important point in Christianity that it is sometimes taken for granted. The utter insanity of the idea that God, the creator of all things, the most powerful, the rule on high. Became human. My guess is that its difficult to image Jesus as fully human because our literature has so many pictures of God like humans. We see Arnie in the terminator, we see Christian Bale as batman, we see mel Gibson in Braveheart. We constantly see pictures of men triumphing over struggles, people being shot and continuing on. We’re (or at least I) are desensitised to real suffering. The fact is that suffering is BAD. Men and women both cry, both hurt and it is always horrible. Sometimes humans can become almost Godlike briefly, sometimes people are able to triumph against ridiculous odds. But it almost always comes back to them, it almost always hurts and many Vietnam vets have needed counselling and gone crazy. One problem is that people see Jesus in this way. They know he is a man, but see him as a Superman, that he was simply able to deal with his family doubting him, his friends abandoning him, his people despising him and the physical torment of flogging and then a cross. Its possible to belittle Jesus’ suffering like we might belittle a tortue scene of James Bond in a movie. But it was real suffering. When you’re sad, when you’re angry when you feel like you can’t go on. Those were Jesus’ genuine feelings. He wept, he felt hurt when his friends left him, he experienced an anxiety that pushed blog through his sweat glands, he hurt and he even felt spiritually seperated from the father.

The thing about Hume’s omniscient’s is that he assumes God knows all objective knowledge. But he makes this knowledge emotionless and impersonal. The fact is Jesus knows suffering because he felt it. God is not a “God game” God, or a child with a doll who allows us to suffer for his master plan. God felt that the way things are going to be are so worth it that he’d suffer for it himself. He Joined in with human suffering, he joined in with human’s feelings of injustice and feels that it is worth it. We can’t know exactly why it is worth it, we have a vague idea, Jesus talks about his kingdom, he talks about heaven but we don’t really know what that is like and why its so important. But we do know that he felt it so important that he would die for it, and that is why we can know he loves us and why we can trust him. This is the basis of a christina’s faith. Faith in God is not a blind belief in his existence (though that might be part of it), faith is much more this question. Faith is believing based on the evidence of his love for us, that when he says it will be worth it, it will be. Its like a mother with a new born baby. I’ll bet most babies hate being born. Taken from that warm safe womb and being traumatically forced into a cold horrible world where they have to do things like breath. But the mother is not simply a dictator, pushing the baby through harsh times to a possibly better future. No, when a parent loves a child, they join in with their suffering to pull through to the goal the child can’t always see. And that is what God is doing with us.

Roles of men and women in marriage

There is quite a bit of controversy in the church on the roles of men and women in marriage. Now I’m not a feminist exactly, I do believe that the bible has a definite distinction between men and women in marriage. I do believe that the man is the head of a marriage and that a wife is supposed to submit to her husband. For this blog post I don’t want to get into too much of what I actually believe, instead explain mainly something I don’t agree with. However I do think the bible paints a picture of marriage with the man at the head of the church, but he is head in such a way that is very different to how some bosses run their companies or kings ran their countries. I also think the bible’s description of marriage is one that is genuinly the best and desirable to men and women, even the more spirited women who’d never describe themselves as submissive.

Anyway, this is something I’ve heard on the matter that I don’t agree with. “Yeah its true that most of the time when a husband and wife disagree, they should argue it out and listen to each other. But sometimes there comes times when you just can’t agree and in those disputes, as the man of the house, the husband must get the final say. Someone needs to have final say“.

Now it’s the last bit in italics that I disagree with. I agree with the husband as the head of the household but I think this practical application of the principle is problematic. Back in Genesis the marriage of a man and women is described by a man leaving his father and mother and joining with his wife where the two become one flesh. Now, lets take this concept of one flesh a bit further. It is easy to understand one flesh because I spend most of my time being me, and even though I’m me and I’m not divided. Even then I have disagreements with myself. Sometimes I do things I don’t want to do, sometimes I get confused and can’t decide between two different I need to do. So lets spread this out, say I’m very confused… I seem to change my mind every other day. I need apply to my room a new lick of paint. On Monday I wake up and decide it should be white and then on tuesday I decide it should be black. Say I do this every other day for a year! I’m pretty indicisive. This is an example of me, being torn between two different mes. Jamie who likes white and Jamie who likes black, but they are both me. This is a conflict that needs to be resolved but it would make no sense to just pick Monday and say this is what we should do. Then make some kind of rule that says, “Whatever I think of on mondays, I’ll do, but I’ll ignore my oppinion on tuesday”. I’d be miserable, every tuesday which is half of my life! 

But then there is another concept people apply to marriage – compromise. If two people disagree, one shouldn’t be more right then the other so you should compromise between the two. In this example that would be like finally deciding to paint my room grey. Its kind of inbetween black and white so that works right? Well no, I never wanted my room grey… I’d be miserable EVERY day!

This is the thing, a husband and wife are one flesh. If one part hurts, the whole hurts. My left hand is no more important then my right hand. If either one is hurting, I want it to stop. And I think the same COULD (not necessarily should) apply to marriage. If there is a problem within the one flesh, whether its the wife or the husband. Then that is an issue that HAS to be resolved. This is different to every other relationship I ever enter into where I am not “one flesh”. If one of my friends didn’t like my career decision, I’d probably listen to their views but I wouldn’t change my life because of them. However in a marriage, with this mutual submission, I have to take that issue seriously simply because she does. It is a problem, an indicision that needs to be resolved.

Is this of any practical use? Well no… you can’t spend that much time deciding on paint colours. Sometimes you have to live a life that is less then perfect and just get on with other things even if you’ll never be fully happy about the colour of your room. BUT… the bible doesn’t talk like that. In the Sermon on the mount we are commanded to be perfect, we’re commanded so many things that just don’t seem to be practically reasonable. God hates decay, he hates sickness, he hates death and he hates imperfection. So as christians we realise that eternal life is our ideal, we’re striving to perfection, happiness, health. But not through our own ability, we’re striving there because we need it and because God has offered it to us.

So maybe, there are marriages that need to have the husband decide what to do in the case of those arguments. Personally I think it makes more sense that if the wife is staying home looking after the kids, she should have final words on which schools they go to, and if the husband is at work, then he should have final say on career choices (and visa versa). However, however you solve your issues within your marriage. It does not mean that the eternal universal principle of the husband’s headship over the marriage has to be solved in this manner. If you want to argue that your principle of “Husband always decides” is fully biblical then you need to show biblical support that this concept “Arguments need to be resolved by one party” is also biblical. 

I have an inkling (not full biblical support, its hard to say what is not in the bible) that this concept is not biblical. That the alternative, all disagreements in one flesh can eventually be fully resolved, is just as biblicall viable (though it feels not practically). Finally I think that if those people are right, then heaven might not be such a cool place. The model of husbands being the head of the marriage is used analogously to Christ being the head of the church. We are described as the bride of christ. I know there are times when I disagree with my head, and in this life I just dutifully submit. But really is that perfection? Is that what heaven is going to be like? Is heaven going to be an eternity of disagreeing with Jesus but simply forcing myself into submission? I really hope not

Argument between dinesh and hitchens

The link above is the start of a 90 minute debate between Christian Dinesh D’Souza and Christopher Hitchens. Pretty cool from both angles, both of them give very good arguments and I doubt that anyone will walk away convinced or have their mind changed. But it gives fantastic incite into the major issues in the debate and will hopefully allow listeners to move past some issues (Like Crusades vs Communism).

Here are some random first responses from me:
1) Christopher is easily ‘cooler’ then Dinesh, the fact that they can debate like that on equal terms is encouraging as a Christian 😛 You’re much more likely to want to be on Christopher’s side but there is something in Dinesh’s arguments that are so cool. (This is in no means a ‘proof’ of God or anything just a point I liked)

2) I loved Dinesh’s point about masochism. That the concept of the cross is horrible from the outside (argued and seen from an atheistic view), but from the Christian perspective, one that starts with God himself sending his son (himself), the message of the cross becomes one of hope. I kind of think Hitechen’s is right, as Paul said,  the resurrection is so key to the christian faith that if you remove it, you don’t have a “nice” religion, but we’re to be pitied above all men. And I think Hitchen is showing clearly the results of a Christian faith minus christ. Church and religion for church and religion’s sake is genuinely horrible. But he kept coming back to that, Christianity is a man-made religion. If that were true then even the bible says God would hate it (as he hates other man made religious stuff even within Christian/Judaism).

3) I like Dinesh’s point about salvation. Its not that “salvation is a gift FROM God” but that “salvation is a gift OFF God”. Thats awesome. That salvation is whats key. Its not that we will be thrown into hell, but that we don’t accept God who, himself, is our salvation.

4) I like the fact that the main miracle Dinesh defends is the resurrection. It seems like this really is as key as a point that the “2 ways to live” crowd of evangelicals have forced into our brains! 😛

Limp Bizkit – No Sex

Thought the lyrics in this song were definitely an interesting view of sex. It seems almost suprising that a male singer could write lyrics like this, what with all of culture telling us men that we’re all totally sex crazed and that its almost gay to want any form of real relationship with pretty much anyone. Living and talking to people in manchester its interesting to see how the reality seems so different. Guys seem to have a very different view to sex then we’re told to have…

 Well here is the song. And here are some lines.

“Wait… it’s my ass
Your perfume
It makes temptation hard to refuse
So I guess we undressed
To have sex
Dirty sex “

Its sad that sex has got this dirty name… writing this I find myself being almost hypocritical. Its difficult to stop myself from agreeing…