Credo in Unum Deum

I Believe in One God

Evolution, Science and Philosophy

I am currently in a discussion about evolution with a self-proclaimed atheist.  There are a number of things that this little dialog has taught me or confirmed to me, but I’ll try to stick to just a few.

First, I am constantly awed by the fact the atheist-evolutionist is completely unaware of the fact that he has philosophical presuppositions that can be challenged and which have a essential bearing on his belief in atheistic evolution.

Second, I am just not trained to argue these facts.  It is really almost as bad as two self-proclaimed Bible experts (that is, they read it prayerfully) at the local community Bible church slinging the greek around with authority when neither of them have had a day a greek in their life (oh they have a concordance and interlinear text) and the authorities they rely on have barely a better education themselves.  Frankly, I grow weary of the fact bomb tossing which then each side has to defuse and then lob another bomb back or just run away and let it explode with no harm done (that means just pretend it was never thrown in terms of response).  I just don’t know enough about science to tell this guy that his radio-metrical-cyber-pulsar dating method is crap.  I just don’t know.  I say that scientist X says it is faulty and the radio-metrical-cyber-pulsar daters cheat on the numbers, and he’ll say the Dr. X was fulla crap and didn’t do his research because facts a, b, c.  Yeah, and I am gonna say what?  “Everybody knows pulsars don’t date ugly dudes like you”?  What?

Third, a lot of these guys haven’t heard the news that Logical Positivism was annihilated 50 years ago.  But they have combined it with a fierce anti-realism.  My new friend told me that science is about predicting what will happen in nature.  It is not supposed to tell us anything with certainty.  What!?!

Fourth, I am offended for Science by these guys.   What happened to the bad old days when religion and science worked together and when we believed that Science could give us positive knowledge of the nature of things?  Don’t it make you pine for the past?  But you probably want an Old Latin Mass too, you filthy dark-aged ogre.

Fifth, and finally for now, I think that, for me anyway, philosophy is the only way to converse with these guys.  Logic governs the reasoning of all the disciplines.  Philosophy can assess the unspoken and un-understood assumptions that our atheist-evolutionist holds to.  So that is the route I have taken.  Fine if there ain’t no God out there, that means this universe is eternal.  Go Kalam and the smack is laid down… gently of course. 

March 26, 2008 Posted by | Philosophy, Religion, Science | 2 Comments

The Papacy as seen from the Bible- briefly. Pt. 2

In Part 1, I argued briefly that in Matthew 16, Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter, Rock, and then proclaims that He will build His Church on that very rock, Peter.  I pointed out that when petra is used to mean something other than a literal rock, it is always a concrete personal thing, not an abstract idea (like faith).  God is the Rock and Jesus is the Rock.  I should further note that Christ giving this name to Simon specifically as a name change is significant.  This title, Rock, has somewhat divine overtones since it is applied mainly (maybe exclusively, but I am not certain about that) to God the Father and God the Son.  More should be said about this, but this is a “brief” overview.  Is. 22 contains the second classical text which is quoted and alluded to in the Matthew passage discussed last time.   Here is what it says, NIV again:

15. This is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: “Go, say to this steward, to Shebna, who is in charge of the palace:16.What are you doing here and who gave you permission to cut out a grave for yourself here, hewing your grave on the height and chiseling your resting place in the rock?17. “Beware, the LORD is about to take firm hold of you and hurl you away, O you mighty man.18. He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country. There you will die and there your splendid chariots will remain– you disgrace to your master’s house!19. I will depose you from your office, and you will be ousted from your position.20. “In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah.21. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.22. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.23. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father.24. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots–all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.25.”In that day,” declares the LORD Almighty, “the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.” The LORD has spoken.

(I suppose I have to pay some sort of royalty for quoting that much Scripture…BTW, emphasis mine.) Without going into all the political stuff involved in what a steward is, suffice it to say that the steward was a prime minister-like position in which the person who was steward possessed the power to make decisions for the king in his (the king’s) name when necessary.  It was a position that was successive; that is, when one steward died, another succeeded him.  This isn’t bio-chemical engineering of spaceship flagella, or whatever the ID physicists do.  This is simple enough stuff.  But this is already too long…

Jesus evokes this image of steward in Matthew 16; that is obvious.  Now what needs to be driven home is this:  Since the steward position was a position that had as part of its working a succession of stewards, it is utterly ridiculous to think that Peter and the rest of the disciples would’ve, without a word from our Lord, thought, “I guess he’ll be the last steward and there will no longer be anymore succession of stewards in the new Kingdom”.  That doesn’t make sense.  (I think the last steward will reign until The Return of the King, and may it please God that our last steward is not like Gondor’s last steward!) So there is built in the idea of succession. Finally, it is interesting to note that the steward specifically referred to in the Isaiah passage is also prophesied to fail just like the steward he (Eliakim) is replacing.  How fitting, then, for Christ to say to Peter, “You are to be the Steward of the Renewed People of God; you are the Rock upon which I will build this people; this load; this Holy House.  And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!”  This Steward will not fail.  This House cannot fail.  Christ Himself guarantees that Peter and his successors will not fail in holding up the Church that is built on them.

Of course, the true scholars out there have expanded on all this to a truly great degree and filled in all the holes.  This is brief after all. The next question in this brief overview is whether the rest of the Gospels contain any information that would lend support to what seems to me to be overwhelming evidence for the papacy already.  Of course, these texts do not serve to add strength to the argument per se.  What they will serve to do is substantiate the claim.  That is, if there is never any outworking of the Matthew 16 passage as it seemingly must be interpreted, that should make us pause for a moment and really look hard to see whether our reading is in fact the obvious reading we think it is.  If any passages do exist that show Jesus treating Peter as if he will be the Pope some time after His Death and Resurrection, then we can know that we have indeed interpreted the obvious correctly.  I guess that will be part 3.(I think even without any other evidence in the Gospels or Acts that it would be exegetical suicide to come to any other conclusion.  Also, I do like the ID folks.)

March 17, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Controversial, Protestantism, Religion | Leave a comment

The Papacy as seen from the Bible- briefly. Pt. 1

This is merely a quick rundown of some of the Biblical evidence for the papacy, bolstered by some pertinent historical data. Matt. 16:16-19 is the classical text.  What does it say? NIV:

16. Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17. Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

I don’t like the NIV, but I guess most folks use it and the translation isn’t bad here so… a.) Simon singularly receives a revelation.  b.) Simon’s name is changed to Peter, which means “rock”.  c.) Jesus says that upon this rock He will build His Church and promises it indefectibility, that it will not fail, Satan cannot overcome it.  d.) Jesus promises to give Peter the keys to the Kingdom; his bindings and loosings shall have been bound and loosed in Heaven.Jesus says that he will build His Church upon this rock.

I hate it when some guy who doesn’t know Greek starts busting out what the Greek says in the 38th declension coupled with the 4th conjugation of the active-passive participle of the future past verb, but that being said, the Greek word for “this” can be translated, and often is because, according to the real Greek Geeks, tautee is a demonstrative adjective, as even this or this very.  (See  KJV of Acts 13:33; I Cor. 7:20; II Cor. 8:6; 9:4-5.)  This would seem to require that the petra of verse 18 is the same as the Petros of verse 18.  That is, they are identifiable.  It is out of the question that the petra is the confession or Christ Himself.  Further John 2:42 makes it clear that the changing of Peter’s name was not linked to his confession per se, since when Jesus first meets Peter in this account He just says “you’ll be called Peter”.

So with this understanding, it is more than proper to read v. 18, “You are Rock, and upon this same (or this very) rock I will build my Church.  Finally, my study in this area has pointed out that when petra is used symbolically, it is always used of something concrete.  Thus, Christ is my rock, God is my rock.  It is not used of an abstract thing, like faith or propositions.  Likewise, the symbolism or analogy of foundation is always used in terms of a really existing concrete thing.  Our foundation is Christ, the prophets and apostles are our foundation, the Church is the foundation of the truth.

I suppose all I am doing here is agreeing with most Protestant scholars and (I hope) all Catholic scholars.  The big next step is to show that after Peter died that there was a continued primacy of his successor.  I guess that is for part 2.

March 10, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Controversial, Protestantism, Religion | Leave a comment