Tag Archives: science

The limits of knowledge

A healthy understanding of the limits of knowledge should not be a license to ignore or degrade knowledge.

When Blaise Pascal said, “Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it,” he said so with strong, well-demonstrated successes in his appropriation of reason. In other words, he successfully used and synthesized knowledge.

Should I read a book about my unconscious mind?

In his latest book, “Subliminal,” Leonard Mlodinow, a theoretical physicist who has been developing a nice sideline in popular science writing, shows how the idea of the unconscious has become respectable again over the past couple of decades. This development has been helped by rigorous experimental evidence of the effects of the subconscious and, especially, by real-time brain-scanning technology that allows researchers to examine what is going on in their subjects’ heads.

From a review of Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, by Leonard Mlodinow, in The Economist, April 28, 2012

Christian universities say, ‘Don’t confuse me with the facts’

Read, “Evangelicals Question the Existence of Adam and Eve” from NPR.

Also read, “No One Reads the Bible Literally,” by Books & Culture editor John Wilson, in the Wall Street Journal.

(Books & Culture is a publication of Christianity Today.)

The missing mode in evangelical thought

Nobel Prize-winning scientists tend to be atheists. Do orthodox Christians shrug-off their accomplishments?

This issue should be addressed from the pulpits, not just in the seminaries:

When Galileo wanted to show Jupiter’s moons to his theological opponents, they refused to look through his telescope. They believed — as Berthold Brecht put it — that “truth is not to be found in nature, but only in the interpretation of texts.” — Jurgen Moltmann, “Science and Wisdom,” in Theology Today, July 2001

Above, Moltmann (and history) provided just a small illustration of a wider problem. A mere response to this problem — like, “I believe the contradiction between Scripture and science is only apparent, and ultimately the two will be reconciled” — is inadequate. Each believer — myself included, because I’m not sure I can do this yet — ought to be able to make a critical assessment of the relationship between the old texts and scientific facts, as well as the two modes Scripture and science represent. In our time, nothing less will do.

Books, science, & theology: Three excerpts from Matthew Miller’s Q&A with F. LeRon Shults

From Miller’s introduction:

Shults has received Ph.D.’s from Walden University (Eductaional Psychology), and Princeton Theological Seminary (Interdisciplinary Studies-theology/philosophy), and has served as a Research Fellow at Oxford University and Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. He currently teaches at the University of Agder.

From Miller’s introduction:

If theology is to continue to have a voice in our academic and cultural dialogue, it must learn to engage and dialogue with other scientific disciplines. In the latter half of the 20th Century a number of theologians came to realize this reality, and began building bridges between disciplines such as Science, Sociology, Psychology, and many more. My first encounter with an interdisciplinary approach came through the work of T.F. Torrance and his engagement with Science, and later, John Milbank’s groundbreaking Theology and Social Theory.

From the Q&A:

Miller: Which five books would you identify as the most influential on you as a theologian?

Shults: Of course the “right” answer here is “the Bible!”

This is also a serious answer, because it is certainly true that the Bible has been the book that has most influenced me, although my understanding of and engagement with it has shifted significantly over the years.

Besides the Bible… It is hard to limit myself to five, but with the caveat that these are among the most influential books, I would say:

Kierkegaard’s Sickness Unto Death,
Pannenberg’s Anthropology in Theological Perspective,
[Thomas] Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation,
[Robert] Sokolowski’s The God of Faith and Reason,
and [Gille] Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition.
 
Read the entire Q&A here.
 

Fear of the Lord — and astonishment at his creation (Jurgen Moltmann)

I found this enormously helpful:

“According to the biblical traditions, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. According to the early Greek philosophers, all knowledge is the fruit of wonder. Do we have to choose between Jerusalem and Athens? Must we decide between the church and the laboratory? Are the sciences and the humanities two different cultures, or two different windows to reality?

“When Galileo wanted to show Jupiter’s moons to his theological opponents, they refused to look through his telescope. They believed — as Berthold Brecht put it — that ‘truth is not to be found in nature, but only in the interpretation of texts.’ A classical definition of this separation of science and theology was given by Pascal: ‘If we perceive this distinction clearly, we shall lament the blindness of those who only allow the validity of tradition in physics instead of reason and experiment; we shall be horrified at the error of those who in theology put the arguments of reason in place of the tradition of Scripture and the Fathers.’ But why does astonishment over the world not lead us to the fear of the God, and the fear of God not to astonisnment over the world?”

— Jurgen Moltmann, in “Science and Wisdom,” Theology Today, July 2001

Noah’s flood probably didn’t cover the entire earth

Data from various scientific disciplines provides a clear indication that Noah’s Flood did not cover the globe of the earth. Before considering that data, however, we must first determine a rough earliest probable date for the Flood. If the Flood is an actual historical event, it must touch down in the empirical data of history somewhere.

So begins Paul Seely’s guest post at Science and the Sacred, entitled “The Flood: Not Global, Barely Local, Mostly Theological, Part 1.” Click the title to read more.