General

In reading Darwin’s Autobiography and his other writings, public and personal, I think a good summary of the evolution of Charles Darwin’s metaphysical/ religious views would be as follows:

Up to 1830- His seminary days he was a Biblical literalist and a big fan of Paley’s arguments. He says in his Autobiography that at this time, “I did not then in the least doubt the strict and literal truth of every word in the Bible.” During his seminary years he developed a love for science and became an Old Earth Creationist.

1831-1836: His Christian faith was “quite orthodox” in his own words when he boarded… Continue reading

Had a fundamentalist attack me this morning because I did not follow biblical principles when reading the Bible. When I asked him what those principles were he said he did not have a list he just “knew it when he saw it.”

So it got me to thinking, “What ARE my general principles when reading the Bible?” So this morning over coffee I put together a list of ten principles I have learned from the ancient Christians as to how to read the Bible properly.

When reading ancient texts it is best to read them as ancient people wrote and understood them and not in… Continue reading

One very common objection to the Orthodox Catholic Faith is that we refer to our priests as “Father”. And at first glance it seems that those who criticize us for this practice have a case from the Bible. When this charge is brought up our interlocutors have in mind the words of Christ in Matthew 23:8-10, “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ.”

Seems clear cut… Continue reading

Here are a few reasons I believe naturalism undermines rationality and ends up being self-defeating under the claim that the natural world/matter is all there is:

To begin with, naturalism/materialism is one of the most primitive philosophies there is and was popular with the pre-Socratic philosophers until refuted by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It has only gained resurgence to the extent modern people have forgotten these great philosophers and their clear thinking on this issue.

The idea of the materialist is that matter is all there is and the universe is causally closed. Everything is to be explained solely in terms of physics, matter and… Continue reading

A verse from today’s Gospel, Luke 17:6, “So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

A mustard seed is symbolic of the type of faith we need because although it begins very small it is also very tenacious and can grow in very difficult circumstances. Blessed Augustine writes, “A mustard seed looks small. Nothing is less noteworthy to the sight, but nothing is stronger to the taste. What does that signify but the very great fervor and… Continue reading

Read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on self-reliance and this quote from Zoroaster jumped out at me. A variation of the “God helps those who help themselves” theme: “To the persevering mortal, the blessed Immortals are swift.”

Which in turn reminded me of a Hindu story Joseph Campbell told in Myths to Live By,

“There is a fable told in India of the god Vishnu, supporter of the universe, who one day abruptly summoned Garuda, his air-vehicle, the golden-feathered sunbird; and when his wife, the goddess Lakshmi, asked why, he replied that he had just noticed that one of his worshipers was in trouble. However, hardly… Continue reading

Last night I began reading the prophet Habakkuk. A short book containing only three chapters it is unique in many way among the prophets in that it is primarily a theodicy. That is, it is a prophecy about the impending fall of Judah and Jerusalem and also the ultimate fall of the Babylonians at the hands of the Persians but the main thrust of the book is about how confusing God’s ways can be, how distant He can seem in our trials, how unexpected and even alarming some of His solutions to our problems or answers to our prayers can be.

The prophecy focuses on… Continue reading

 “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16, RSV)

“Without a doubt, great is the mystery of godliness: God was revealed in the flesh, vindicated in [the] spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, and received up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16, Eastern Orthodox Bible)

This verse comes up quite often in discussions with King James Only advocates as a… Continue reading

Started 2 Peter for my morning NT reading time. 2 Peter is one of the last books of the NT to be accepted universally by Christians and one of the most hotly debated in terms of authorship among Christians since ancient times.

It did not receive universal acceptance until the late fourth century at the councils of Carthage and Laodicea.

One of my favorite sections speaks of the ancient Christian and orthodox doctrine of theosis or divinization and follows this up with a list of virtues called in ancient rhetoric a sorites or gradation which is itself embedded in the exordium of the whole passage.… Continue reading

For those Christians posting articles and videos about “what the Bible really says” about homosexuality and saying traditional Christians are misled by “poor translations”:

How is it that for three thousand years these interpretations were never taught by the Jews or the Greek Church fathers for whom the Biblical languages were their native tongues and for whom the Biblical cultures were their native cultures only to be discovered by progressive professors in the modern post-Enlightenment, post-Christian West during the sexual revolution of the 1960s?

Do you honestly believe that for three thousand years, no rabbi, no Jewish theological school, no saint, no Fathers, no Doctors… Continue reading

I came across this objection to the type of God atheists think God is from their reading of the Bible recently: “I think trying to define Yahweh as good is like trying to define Aphrodite as Maximally Beautiful and then discovering that all the descriptions are of a woman who is universally unattractive.”

This reminded me of something Richard Dawkins is famous for writing in The God Delusion, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal,… Continue reading

Skeptic’s Objection: “Why would God allow two bears to kill 42 children simply for saying Elisha was bald? You mean if a bunch of kids make fun of my bald head, I get to take them to the zoo and throw them in the bear cage to be ripped apart? ”

I agree that this is an unusual story and at first blush it seems morally objectionable. However, I find most such stories from the Bible make more sense when read in their cultural, literary, and linguistic context.  Indeed, this is something we must do if we are serious about understanding something that was… Continue reading

Lately it seems that I have been running into the argument that the universe is just too darned big for God to have created it or for us to consider ourselves special in the grand scheme of things. Many atheists feel as if our relative size compared to the universe makes the idea that it was created with us in mind as being ludicrously anthropocentric.

I would argue that the discoveries of the last few centuries can be looked at through a variety of philosophical metrics. Certainly, size-wise we are more insignificant but in terms of life we are incredibly unique. Cosmologically we may be… Continue reading

I received quite the broadside from a Biblical fundamentalist this morning. He had asked whether I thought the Bible had copied from pagan myths regarding the Flood and Creation. Then he was obviously displeased with my answer that I did not believe the early chapters of Genesis were directly copied from Egyptian and Mesopotamian myths but they certainly shared certain common elements based on a common Ancient Near Eastern culture. His reply was scathing and typical:

“Do you really believe that the God of the bible lies to men, tells them fairytales as if they were fact, when they actually aren´t, borrows myths from pagans… Continue reading

Debating the Resurrection of Christ with an intelligent friend who equates the first-century eyewitness testimony of the Risen Jesus with Elvis sightings today. My response:

I am reminded of the tragedy which befell a travelling circus when its Human Cannonball was killed while practicing his act of being shot out of a cannon. When interviewed, the circus manager tearfully said, “We will never find a man of his caliber again.”

In order for sightings of Elvis to be of the same caliber as the Risen Jesus eyewitnesses you would need to produce:

1. A dozen of Elvis’ closest confidantes would have to experience seeing… Continue reading