Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
creation also has.. its internal basis.... what God has created was not just any reality -however perfect or wonderful- but that which is intrinsically determined as the exponent of His glory and for the corresponding service.
The fact that the covenant is the goal of creation is not something which is added later to the reality of the creature, as though the history of creation might equally have been succeeded by any other history. It already characterises creation itself and as such, and therefore the being and existence of the creature. The covenant whose history had still to commence was the covenant which, as the goal appointed for creation and the creature, made creation necessary and possible, and determined and limited the creature....
If creation was the external basis of the covenant, the latter was the internal basis of the former. If creation was the formal presupposition of the covenant, the latter was the material presupposition of the former. If creation takes precedence historically, the covenant does so in substance.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
In the realm of theology, I argue that justice is a necessary but insufficient foundation for concern about poverty, proposing that St. Irenaeus of Lyons’ contentions regarding the nature of ‘glory’ be further explored. I develop a theology of glory based on three scriptural understandings, namely grandeur, grace, and gratitude, and argue that we are most “fully alive” when we are in right relationship with ourselves, each other, and God. Poverty is an affront to God’s glory, then, because it is both a cause and consequence of broken relationships.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
One of his great works was ``Mechanique celeste''. This book took many of Isaac Newton's ideas and reworked them into a mathematical form that made it possible to quantify the motion of the planets.
Laplace, answered bluntly, ``Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothese-le.'' [I have no need of that hypothesis].
Napoleon, greatly amused, told this reply to Lagrange, (another famous mathematician) who exclaimed, ``Ah! c'est une belle hypothese; a explique beaucoup de choses.' ["Ah, but it is such a beautiful hypothesis; it explains a great many things!"]
This story represents a common misunderstanding about the respective roles of science and theology and the relationship between them. Just because we can explain something scientifically does NOT mean that God is not involved in it.
It is true that before the development of science many natural phenomena people saw and experienced seemed to be random and hard to understand. Examples include hurricanes, floods, disease, the motion of the sun, and the ocean tides.
Many religions said these things happened because a god made them happen. If people made sacrifices to this god maybe bad things would not happen.
However, the development of science let to explanations of many natural phenomena in terms of cause and effect. For example, because of gravity the earth orbits the sun
and the moon orbits the earth. This allows us to explain the ocean tides and their regularity.
So now we don't need religious explanations to explain natural phenomena, whether it is the weather or the structure and properties of atoms. But, these explanations never explain who or what is behind these laws of nature.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects-military, political,economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden-that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.Mere Christianity, Book III, chapter 8.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Both individually and collective we all would like to ignore the fact that actions (both good and bad) have consequences. Sometimes these consequences last for generations...
Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' 11Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.2 Samuel 12
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
In that God became man, it has also become manifest and worthy of belief that He does not wish to exist for Himself only and therefore to be alone. He does not grudge the world, distinct from Himself, its own reality, nature, and freedom. His word is the power of its being as creation. He creates, sustains, and rules it as the theatre of His glory - and in its midst, man also, as the witness of His glory.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
It cannot be shown that God must have created the world, .... Nor can it be shown in relation to the world that because God has created it, because it necessarily exists and has its being from Him, it is not an illusion, a dream, a mere figment of the imagination, but concept and reality.The positive counter-assertion that God exists alone, that this divine being is the only one to the exclusion of all others, and the negative counter-assertion that the world and we ourselves do not exist at all, that we do not have a being distinct from that of God, but that everything else apart from God is only supposition, are, of course, as contestable and as little demonstrable as the assertion. But they cannot be refuted by the assertion.On the contrary, they are refuted only if two conditions are fulfilled-and it is here that we see the real point of the [doctrine of Creation].The first is that it should be established on the basis of the divine self-witness-....-that God has in fact created the world; that it is, therefore, a reality by God's free will and contingent act.And the second is that we should have no less factual knowledge of this factual being of the world. Thus if we dare to take the not unimportant step of ascribing its own reality to that which is distinct from God, i.e., heaven and earth and ourselves; if we are Of the bold opinion that we ourselves, and with us the so-called world, are and are not not, we have to realise that this is always an undemonstrable and contestable hypothesis,It need only be added that the assertion of creation is a statement of faith, i.e., a statement which can never be more than a hypothesis apart from its foundation in God's self-witness, not only on the side which maintains that God is the Creator of the world, and which therefore asserts the reality of God, but also on that which asserts that God is the Creator of the world, and which therefore asserts the distinctive reality of the world. It is only too easy to suggest that, while the reality of God as the Creator is uncertain, and therefore needs proof or revelation, the reality of the creature is all the more certain, so that the one is to be treated as a factor which is not given but has still to be sought, whereas the other may be presupposed ....the whole history of theology [might be viewed] as a continuous fighting retreat in face of the irresistible advance of a rational and empirical science which on the very different grounds of a triumphant human self-conceit is quite sure of its subject. In preoccupation with only one side of the question, there has been a dangerous failure to realise that the question of creation is not less but even more concerned with the reality of the creature than that of the Creator. Presupposing the certain knowledge of God in His Word, it is actually the case that the existence and being of the world are rendered far more problematical by the existence and being of God than vice versa.If the world is not created by God, it is not. If we do not recognise that it has been created by God, we do not recognise that it is. But we know that it has been created by God only on the ground of God's self-witness and therefore in faith. Therefore we know only in faith that the world is. The pressure exerted by science on theology could have been resisted if theology had been more energetically and effectively concerned with its own .... divine science; if it had realised that it is primarily the creature and not the Creator of whom we are not certain, and that in order to be certain of him we need proof or revelation.
- many of the characters are quirky and endearing (Toby is my favourite)
- it deals with substantial political, moral, and social issues
- although it clearly presents a liberal Democratic perspective it does not simply present a one-dimensional ideological perspective
- it is educational
- it makes me laugh
- it is intellectually stimulating
- it is fun shared activity with my wife, Robin
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Our first emphasis is …. that the doctrine of the creation no less than the whole remaining content of Christian confession is an article of faith, i.e., the rendering of a knowledge which no man has procured for himself or ever will; which is neither native to him nor accessible by way of observation and logical thinking; for which he has no organ and no ability; which he can in fact achieve only in faith; but which is actually consummated in faith, i.e., in the reception of and response to the divine witness…. It is a faith and doctrine of this kind which is expressed when …. we confess that God is the Creator of heaven and earth.
Church Dogmatics 3.1, page 5.
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The theological principle which I accept without a rival has made it almost compulsory that I should first present the doctrine of the work of the Creator as such in the old-fashioned form of a radical exposition of the contents of the first two chapters of the Bible...... It will perhaps be asked in criticism why I have not tackled the obvious scientific question posed in this context. It was my original belief that this would be necessary, but I later saw that there can be no scientific problems, objections or aids in relation to what Holy Scripture and the Christian Church understand by the divine work of creation...... There is free scope for natural science beyond what theology describes as the work of the Creator. And theology can and must move freely where science which really is science, and not secretly a pagan Gnosis or religion, has its appointed limit. I am of the opinion, however, that future workers in the field of the Christian doctrine of creation will find many problems worth pondering in defining the point and manner of this twofold boundary.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I have started work on my paper/talk for the forthcoming Conference on the Academy and the Church.
Here is a sketchy outline. I thank Ben Myers for many helpful discussions and ideas on this topic.
Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Creation: implications for the dialogue between science and theology
The Doctrine of Creation is an article of faith
The existence of God is a contestable hypothesis
The existence of the world is a contestable hypothesis
The covenant is the meaning and purpose of the creation
Creation is the external basis of the covenant
Science cannot discover meaning and purpose
The creation is distinct from God
There are limits to what can be known about God from science
There are limits to what can be known about science from theology
Justification for the practical naturalism of science
The creation is real and objective
Science is possible
The creation is good
A mandate for the scientific investigation of the world
Scientific knowledge can be beautiful
The orderliness of the creation reflects the faithfulness of the creator
The covenant is the internal basis of the creation
The reliability of physical laws
The creature can understand the creation
Creator creates creature
Science worksThe unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences
Monday, June 7, 2010
At this point the question may remain undecided whether it would not also be beneficial for the other sciences if the ruling motive of their procedure was Agape rather than Eros.For theological work the dominant position of love is a vital and unalterable necessity. Indeed, theological work also displays that interest of the perceiving human subject and that sweeping movement in which it allows itself to be borne and hurried toward the object to be known. These elements of Eros will not be simply suppressed or eliminated in it. For theological work, however, Eros can only be the serving, not the ruling, motive. The erotic wish and desire to gain possession of the object can have in theological work only the significance of a first and inevitable beginning in the direction toward its object.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
[We should view work] not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. That it should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; and that man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing......God is not served by technical incompetence; and incompetence and untruth always result when the secular vocation is treated as a thing alien to religion…......Shall we be prepared to take the same attitude to the arts of peace as to the arts of war? I see no reason why we should not sacrifice our convenience and our individual standard of living just as readily for the building of great public works as for the building of ships and tanks – but when the stimulus of fear and anger is removed, shall we be prepared to do any such thing? Or shall we want to go back to that civilization of greed and waste which we dignify by the name of a “high standard of living”?
Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a body different from one another and each contributing what no other could. .... But a Christian must not be either a Totalitarian or an Individualist.
I feel a strong desire to tell you - and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me-which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs-pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
Yesterday I was reading the famous 1 Corinthians 13 passage on love and I remembered that in Karl Barth's An Introduction to Evangelical Theology had an interesting last chapter on the role of love in theology.
Here are a few extracts, emphasizing the difference between eros and agape love.
Eros so highly praised in Plato's teaching.... Love as Eros, is, in general terms, the primordially powerful desire, urge, impulse, and endeavor by which a created being seeks his own self-assertion, satisfaction, realization, and fulfillment in his relation to something else. He strives to draw near to this other person or thing, to win it for himself, to take it to himself, and to make it his own as clearly and definitively as possible. And in a special sense, love, as scientific Eros, is the same desire in its intellectual form. It is the soaring movement by which human knowledge lets itself be borne toward its objects and hurries toward them in order to unite them with itself and itself with them, to bring them into its possession and power, and to enjoy them in this way.
.....Scientific, theological Eros has perpetually oscillated concerning the object which it should present to man for the sake of his self-assertion and self-fulfillment. That is to say, theological Eros can be directed either predominantly (and perhaps even exclusively) toward God or predominantly (and, once again, perhaps even exclusively) toward man.
When scientific Eros evolves in the field of theology, it characteristically and continually confuses and exchanges the object of theology with other objects. So far as Eros is the motive of theological work, God will not be loved and known for God's sake, nor man for man's sake. This situation can only be explained by the nature of Eros: every attempt to love and know God and man is made in the quite conscious and deepest interests of the theologian himself, in the self-love of the one who produces this theology.
It is undoubtedly no mere accident that the substantive "Eros" and its corresponding verb do not appear at all in ... the New Testament. The word for "love" in the New Testament is Agape. And from every context in which it appears the conclusion is obvious that it signifies a movement which runs almost exactly in the opposite direction from that of Eros. Love in the sense of Agape is admittedly also the total seeking of another, and this is the one thing that it has in common with love as Eros.
In Agape, however, the one who loves never understands the origin of his search as a demand inherent within himself, but always as an entirely new freedom for the other one, a freedom which was simply bestowed on him and consequently was originally alien to him. On his own, he never should or would have loved this other one at all. But he may do this, and since he may do it, he does do it. Because he is free for this other, he loves him. In this way he loves concentratedly, not haphazardly, ramblingly, or distractedly. And because he is free for him, he does not seek him as though he needed him for himself as a means to his self-assertion and self-fulfillment. The one who loves, seeks the other only for his own sake. He does not want to win and possess him for himself in order to enjoy him and his own power over him. He never trespasses on the freedom of the other, but by respecting the other's freedom, he simply remains quite free for him. He loves him gratis. That is to say, he desires nothing from him, and he does not wish to be rewarded by him. All he desires is to exist for him, to offer himself to him, and finally to give himself to him. He desires to be permitted to love him simply in the way that this ability has been granted to himself.
If love, in the sense of Agape, is no doubt also a seeking, it is nevertheless not an interested, but a sovereign seeking of the other one. ...This seeking is sovereign precisely because it is directed and oriented not to the sovereignty of the one who loves but to the sovereignty of the beloved one. To speak once more with Paul, love in the sense of Agape is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful, not arrogant or rude, not insisting on its own way. It rejoices in the truth, bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Agape is related to Eros, as Mozart to Beethoven. How could they possibly be confused? Agape is an altogether positive striving toward the other, quite distinct from all self-righteousness and intellectual superiority, as well as from all strife.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
However, independent of giving me ideas to discuss with my daughter, I have found the book very stimulating, both personally and professionally.
Gardner defines five specific cognitive abilities that he claims will be sought and cultivated by leaders. Roughly here is my paraphrase of each of the minds, as applied to research.
- The Disciplinary Mind: You need to master a specific discipline or research area. This takes about ten years.
- The Synthesizing Mind: You need to learn to integrate ideas from different disciplines into a coherent whole and to communicate that integration to others.
- The Creating Mind: You need to develop the capacity to uncover and clarify new problems, questions and phenomena.
- The Respectful Mind: You need to be aware of and appreciate different approaches and values within your discipline and between disciplines.
- The Ethical Mind: You need to fulfill your responsibilities as a worker within your institution, your discipline, and as a citizen.