Blog Archive

 

As you go through this archive and perhaps find a topic that interests you, please leave your comments at the bottom of that blog-post.  My purpose for this blog-site is to generate discussion.  I’ll do my best to reply to all questions raised in those comments.  Enjoy!

08/10/18 A naturalistic explanation for human consciousness  After previous blogs explaining mind, personality, and soul, here’s one in which I tackle another aspect to our immaterial being: consciousness. Prepare yourself: this will involve some quantum physics, time travel, and dropping a few long-lived assumptions.

08/03/18  Naturalistic mechanisms CAN explain the human soul.  Using science to explain thee (of five) aspects of our immaterial being: mind, personality, and the soul. Next week, I’ll look into a fourth aspect: consciousness. The fifth aspect — spirit — will have to wait for another day.

08/03/18 My response to Darren’s post last week. Three comments about Darren’s strategy and tactics in arguing why he thinks there’s no such thing as a soul. My actual counter-argument is given in another blog post later that same day (see above).

07/31/18  An experiment: letting the “other side” speak. The last few blog posts generated so much passionate discussion from readers, I decided to let one of them collate their thoughts into one cohesive argument. Here’s their argument for why “there is no such thing as a human soul.”

07/13/18  “As iron sharpens iron …”: listening to both sides. It may feel more comfortable to hide away in a silo and shelter oneself from ideas which challenge our faith. But I’ve learned it’s often better to engage and find out how/where one might need to adjust. This was setting the stage for next week’s post.

07/06/18  “Where” is the soul?  The ancients thought our inner being resided in our chest: our heart, or liver, or intestines. They had no conception whatsoever that it might have something to do with our brain. We now understand things quite differently.

07/01/18  What is the soul?  Most people believe we are two separate parts: an immaterial soul living inside a material body. How does that work? Another more recent idea is that the soul and body are one single whole, and that the soul is an emergent property of the body/brain.

06/22/18 What does it mean to be human? Many of the abilities that we previously claimed were uniquely human, we now find in animals.  So what sets us apart from them?  If your answer is that we’re superior to them in those respects (human exceptionalism), then what happens when our technology (artificial intelligence) advances far beyond us in those same abilities?

04/20/18 “Come Sunday” asks: what about hell?  Life circumstances raised some very tough questions about Hell for a young Fundamentalist preacher, who only wanted to find the truth on the question from the Bible, and found it clashed with church dogma and what he’d been preaching for years. Many couldn’t handle what he had to say.

04/13/18  Faces in the bathroom tiles  A few thoughts about our tendency to see patterns where there are none, confirmation bias and being closed to conflicting viewpoints/data. Christians and atheists alike might find something here.

04/07/18  Change: campfire with a Zoroastrian  Genetic evidence of humans leaving Africa and filling the earth and swapping genes with Neanderthals; theological evidence that the ancient Hebrews were swapping religious ideas with other religions (Akkadians, Sumerians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans).

03/07/18  Written by humans, divinely-inspired … and just as valuable as ever  Following up from the previous post, my view on why the Old Testament still holds value, even if it looks so different than the teaching of Jesus that some might want to ignore it (before you judge too quickly, when was the last time you included Leviticus or Numbers in your devotional reading?).

02/26/2018  Thou shalt not … Period. End of story.  Some of the laws in the Old Testament sound quite offensive to our modern Western ears (slavery; rape laws; stoning children).  Certain defenders of Biblical inspiration claim these are actually “radical improvements” over the way things were in that era.  Really?

02/11/2017 The roots of Fundamentalism   Zeal for scriptural inerrancy/infallibility and a literal reading of Genesis 1-11 are a recent North American phenomenon … not the tradition of Jews and Christians down through millennia past.

02/22/2017 We’ve got new neighbors!   A recent discovery of a distant star with seven planets orbiting it, three of which are in “the habitable zone” raises interesting possibilities for life on other planets.

02/11/2017  Darwinian evolution and the cross Putting together a theological view of the atonement together with a scientific view of human evolution into one seamless whole.

12/17/2016  Turning rocks into diamonds  Finding a function for some aspect of biology is not necessarily evidence for Intelligent Design: even Natural Selection will select for functions and tend to weed out non-functional parts.

12/15/2016  Footsteps in ancient hominid history  A recent discovery of fossilized hominid footprints in Tanzania is the latest equivalent of a home-video of Homo sapiens‘ first baby-walk.

11/23/2016  An IDea that’s hard to swallow  The four most common strategies used by advocates of Intelligent Design.

10/15/2016  Leaping Genes: “Beam me up, Scottie”   Small genetic changes are passed up the metaphorical Tree of Life, from genetic ancestors to descendants, in a methodical step-by-step process (“vertical transfer”). Now we know they can also jump across whole branches in that Tree, passed around between different types of organisms on completely different branches (“horizontal transfer”).

10/01/2016  Faith and Science compatible? Ask a 2nd century Greek philosopher  Clement of Alexandria, educated in the most sophisticated learning of his time, felt compelled that science and theology need to fit together seamlessly.  I think we can learn something from him.

09/24/2016  4 papers in Nature vs the Book of Genesis   One of the most prestigious scientific journals presents some of the most up-to-date evidence that humans left Africa in several waves and spread out across the globe.

08/13/2016  Book #2 has landed!   This book summarizes the many lines of evidence that humans evolved from an ancestor shared in common with Neanderthals and chimpanzees, and then explores the changes to theology which need to be considered.

08/07/2016  Three o’clock in the morning …  A personal reflection during three hours of sleepless introspection and “waiting on the Lord” one morning.  I seriously question the idea that any “relationship” with God looks anything like those we have with other humans.  And yet …

07/22/2016  Keeping an open mind  We humans are so very limited in our experience of the world around us.  It’s arrogant to declare with certainty that “there is no God.” Here, I use my best analogy … a thought-experiment into multi-dimensionality … to “prove” that such conviction is self-deluding.

07/15/2016  Eve came from where!?   Three historical examples of theologians wading into scientific waters armed only with scripture, and beating a hasty retreat when faced with simple facts.  You simply won’t believe one of the latest ideas on the origin of Eve.

07/08/2016  Intelligent Design vs Darwinism: the wrap-up  Tying up loose ends from earlier posts on these two different world-views … questioning ID does not mean we should “just throw the Bible in the garbage can” … simple versus complex changes … theists and atheists working together.

06/29/2016  The Dark Side of Intelligent Design  In many ways, the design of our bodies is amazing, and it’s easy to echo the words of the Psalmist: “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…“.  But what do we do when we find examples of a design that was actually rather unintelligent, possibly clumsy, or maybe even downright malevolent?

06/24/2016  Standing on the shoulders of giants.   Science: human knowledge accreting like layers on top of the findings and insights of billions of people who’ve preceded us.  Evolution: new genetic ideas building on top of old ones.  Religion: all human societies have been  trying to understand “the Great Being,” producing all kinds of religions and theologies.

06/14/2016  Led Zeppelin’s day in court.  Plagiarism.   Robert and Jimmy had to answer for why their song sounded so much like one put out by a different band.  Millions of dollars were on the line.  In the same way, anti-evolutionists have to answer why the human genetic code looks so much like that of Neanderthals, Denisovans, and of other primates.

04/14/2016 “Even atheist scientists criticize Darwinism!” … not because it doesn’t explain anything, but because it doesn’t explain everything. Newtonian mechanics is stunningly effective at large scales but utterly fails at small scales, but the opposite is true for quantum mechanics. In the same way, Darwinism is effective at one end of the spectrum of biological changes, but ineffective at the other end. We just need the biological equivalent of “General Relativity.”

04/07/2016 My faith: pruning hook, or axe? For some of us, a Fundamentalist up-bringing has left psychological scars … living in fear of being “Left Behind” following the Rapture and having to live in a post-Apocalyptic world evading the Anti-Christ.

04/02/2016 The little things in life. Small genetic mutations can lead to huge selective advantages. Perhaps the ancient Hebrew version of things is not the best scientific explanation?

01/09/2016 Is it time for Evolution 2.0? (and Adam 2.0?). Several discoveries in genetics and anthropology simply make it unreasonable to believe in a primal couple in the Garden of Eden six thousand years ago.

10/31/2015 Human origins: ‘who’ versus ‘how’. Many facts about our genes, our anatomy, and our bones rule out Intelligent Design as an explanation of how we came to be, and instead argue for common descent from a primal ancestor millions of years ago. This doesn’t have to mean God is irrelevant or non-existent. It just says something about how he might have done things.

09/11/2015 The ‘Christian’ response to our new family members? A cave in South Africa containing 1500 bones from an ancient human ancestor — Homo naledi — has huge impact on Christian theology.

05/31/2015 Made in God’s image   Bones of an ancient human ancestor found in a riverbed in Ethiopia — Australopithecus deyiremeda — raise a few big questions about Christian theology.

05/02/2015 A song from Jupiter  Humans have such a tiny grasp on the totality of reality … how can we presume to declare that God does not exist?

04/19/2015 The human-divine connection  What does a “relationship” with God look like? How can 4-dimensional beings (us) relate to a 10-dimensional being (God)?

04/11/2015 The goose, the gander and the God-of-the-gaps   Why this strategy for explaining science is a failure.  But not all theists think this way: some of the greatest scientific minds were/are theists.  On the other hand, even many atheists are closet God-of-the-gappers.

04/01/2015 Do the Gospels contradict each other?   … when it comes to the Easter story?  An alternative way to read them and integrate them that makes sense.

03/20/2015 But the sky isn’t orange!?   Are some Christians living comfortably with cognitive dissonance?  Sometimes somebody has to state the obvious.

03/13/2015 Why not let people believe what they want to believe?  Why should we (I) take the time to publicly speak against certain Christian beliefs?

03/06/2015 Blind denial is not the answer  Too many lines of evidence now make it unreasonable to hang on to a “Young Earth” creationist view.  But giving that up doesn’t have to mean you give up a Christian faith.

02/28/2015 Is the dress white and gold, or … (shining a new light on how we see things)  How can two different groups look at the very same thing and interpret what they see so differently?  “Young Earth” versus “Old Earth” theology.

02/21/2015 He’s put eternity in the human heart  Downloading our minds into a computer?  Do you really want to live forever?  Is euthanasia such a bad idea?

02/13/2015 Both sides agree: there was no Big Bang   A new idea about the very first instant in time.  Did the Book of Genesis have the right idea, or have scientists now found a very different but compelling answer?

02/07/2015 Stephen Fry hisses to God: “How dare you?”   If God is omniscient, omnibenevolent and omnipotent, why is the world so full of evil?  Could it be simply because free will is so important?

01/31/2015 One year after Ham vs Nye – we need to keep talking   The dialogue between “Young Earth” and “Old Earth” creationists, as well as between theists and atheists, and between the religious and the non-religious.

01/24/2015 So you think Christianity is easy!?   In this day of suicide bombers and frequent beheadings, what does it mean to “love your enemy.”

01/10/2015 Extraterrestrial evangelism?   Is there good reason to think that “somebody’s out there”?  What should our response be?  Why can atheists believe in ET but not in God?

01/02/2015 The end of religion?   Given that every society in every part of the globe in every period of history has had some form of religion … people from every slice of the demographic pie … how can anyone think that religion is on its way out?

12/26/2014 Why should Christmas matter?  Jesus Christ of Nazareth was one out of 108 billion humans that have been born (according to Population Reference Bureau), and has had a tremendous impact on world history for the past two thousand years.

12/19/2014 Ask questions or simply believe?  Why and how is Fundamentalism dangerous?

12/13/2014 Sorry, but that offends me  Over-reactions on the part of atheists to people rightfully celebrating Christmas, and on the part of Christians to atheist-led “attack on Christmas.”

12/06/2014 Go ahead, hit me with your best shot  Humans have accumulated an impressive wealth of technology.  But have we turned that into our god?

11/28/2014 Everybody knows that …  The dangers of merely parroting what you’ve heard others say without doing your own homework, particularly when it comes to anti-evolutionist claims.

11/21/2014 Made in my own image    “My God wouldn’t …” Asking myself whether I’ve perhaps limited God by putting him in a box.  (And hoping others ask the same question of themselves)

11/15/2014 Rosetta, named after a relic which opened up ancient language to us, is now silent  A lament that the Rosetta mission is now over.

11/12/2014 The Rosetta space probe: Tower of Babel redux?  We humans tend to see our selves as master of our own destiny.  Sometimes we learn otherwise.

11/07/2014 A grey-scale theology  My reaction against inerrancy and infallibility of scripture, and dogmatic Fundamentalism.  Sometimes there’s beauty in mystery, and truth can be found in the middle of two extremes.

11/01/2014 “Okay, maybe we were wrong …”  Has the Church always been anti-science?

10/24/2014 To infinity and beyond!  Humans moved out of Africa to fill the globe, then began to explore ocean depths and mountain heights.  Now we’re readying ourselves to launch out into space.  What is it we’re looking for?

10/18/2014 “Planet of the Apes”-style religion  Bibliolatry.  Turning the Bible into a god.  Isn’t it more like our diary, or our notebook, summarizing some of what  we’ve learned in our search for God?

10/10/2014 Do theists still feel threatened by science, or is this just an unnecessary line in the sand?  Food for thought from numerous polls and statistics.

10/02/2014 “Left Behind” should be just that … left behind  Hollywood’s latest collaboration with Fundamentalists, trying to scare people into the Kingdom.

09/25/2014 The faith of an atheist   Atheists accuse theists of basing belief upon faith, and claiming the moral highground of fact.  Could they be deluding themselves?

09/12/2014 Stonehenge: mankind’s eternal serach for … what? who?   A mistake made by the guy cutting the grass opens up a fundamental question about a quirk of the human personality: we’ve always been looking for something.

09/06/2014 Why do some people always have to find a conflict between faith and science?  My inaugural blog-post.

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