Archive for the ‘postmodernism’ Tag

Mightier than Swords   6 comments

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

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Words have incredible power in the hands of good communicators. They can raise you to the highest heavens or drop you from 30,000 feet without a net. They can make you feel wonderfully competent or grossly inadequate. However, the power of words is not in the words themselves as in the power the listeners invest in them.

My first experience with the power of language was in realizing that language could be distorted so as to wield power over others.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was – maybe 10 or 12 – when my father began to have trouble calling himself a “liberal”.

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I grew up in Alaska where the discussion of politics is an indoor participation sport. The adults loved to argue politics and they thought it was their responsibility to teach the youngsters, so we were expected to pay attention and formulate our own opinions. Alaskans are and were actually really well-read. Long, dark, cold winters mean we have a lot of time for intellectual pursuits. We have great public and university libraries and they are well-used. This meant that much of what the adults were talking about was backed up by study.

My mom was a conservative non-partisan old-style feminist (she liked men, definitely wanted them in her life, but she didn’t think she should bow to them). My dad was a lifelong Democrat union organizer who would not recognize the Democratic Party of 2019. I knew my parents didn’t agree politically, but they weren’t at each other’s throats. When I stand back and look at it with a long lens, I think they really didn’t disagree on any of the big issues. Mom thought her money did her more good in her purse than in the pocket of some government official and Dad trusted the government a bit more than she did. Dad could call himself a Democrat and feel just fine with that. Mom felt she was lying if she promised fidelity to a single political party, so she was a registered non-partisan so she could vote for whichever party she preferred that election. That was about the extent of their political differences.

But in 1970, maybe 72, Dad foresaw where the Democratic party was headed and he started having trouble calling himself a “liberal”. He’d been struggling with this idea for a while when I overheard the conversation. How long is a mystery to me as Dad died before I was old enough to really pursue the topic, but he and my mom were talking about the McGovern campaign for President (1972) and Dad said he didn’t think the Democratic Party was still the party of liberals. He found the newest crop to be intolerant, abusive children who wanted a lot of stuff for nothing. Sound familiar? Yeah. He foresaw that. He didn’t know what to do about it and it bothered him, a lifelong committed Democrat, that he was expected to vote for policies and politicians who did not represent what he thought of as “liberal values.” (see the image above for the traditional definition of “liberal” and the image below for the modern progressive-liberal.

Mom hit it on the head that day when she said “They sound a lot more like the progressives from back when we were kids.” The conversation then moved onto whether the progressives were Republican (Teddy Roosevelt was) or Democratic (Woodrow Wilson was) and I don’t recall my parents exploring the change in the word “liberal” at the time. It stuck with me because I was already developing into a language geek and here was a word my dad had been using for 50 years that no longer had the meaning he associated with it.

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I know from my adult studies in history that the American progressives got their political and philosophical hats handed to them. They were completely discredited when they were infiltrated by the socialists and so, they spent a few decades in obscurity. They then came back in the 1960s, relabeled themselves “liberals” and took over the Democratic Party. They took advantage of the growing post-modern sentiments to claim “language has no meaning and we can define these historical words to mean anything we want.” Dad was sensing that change. Without the internet at the time, he couldn’t locate cogent arguments for why it was happening, but he knew it was.

When Hillary Clinton ran in 2012 and again in 2016, she used the more-correct term of “progressive” to describe herself, perhaps sensing that the term “liberal” had been flogged to death by the illiberal Democrats. That still doesn’t really solve the dilemma of people like me who subscribe the traditional liberal principles like freedom and self-sufficiency, but can’t use that term without invoking the warped definition of the word.

Dad’s lost word isn’t the only word that has been warped into a new meaning in the intervening years. My parents, who were young adults in World War 2, wouldn’t recognize how some people in our era define “fascism”, just as I now am perplexed by how some people define “racism” and “sexism”. This could be a much longer article if I focused on all of the word games post-moderns use to change the tenor of conversations. Dad’s struggle with the word “liberal” was my first recognition that how we use words can damage our relationships and ability to dialogue with one another. It stuck with me going forward because it’s always in the news and it involved some of my dad’s most fundamental beliefs and relationships. I’ve often wondered where Dad would stand politically today and I suspect he’d join Mom and me in the non-partisan camp, suspicious of political parties in general.

Words have meaning, which in the hands of good communicators comes with power, and in order for us to communicate, the meanings need to be understood by all. Unfortunately, the post-modern belief that words are malleable and the meaning can be changed whenever and however the user of the moment likes is harmful to meaningful communication. It’s one of the reasons Western society is tearing itself apart today. Some of us have redefined words to meanings that the users of those words never agreed to. Further, we misapply these redefined words to others without even bothering to find out if the words actually apply to them. Then some in society repeat those redefined words over and over in order to denigrate those they disagree with.

There’s a famous saying – the pen is mightier than the sword, meaning that the minds of people are won by persuasive arguments and not brute force. Words have power. The American revolution, according to John Adams, was wrought in the minds of the people (via the words of pamphleteers like Thomas Paine) a long time before the shot heard round the world on Lexington Green. I want to believe that we can make changes in society through reasoned debate on topics that affect all of us, but when we change the meanings of words without telling our rhetorical opponents, we game the debate process to our own benefit. It’s time we stopped that and agreed on a common vocabulary, so we can talk, know when to agree or disagree, and not have to make enemies of people whose words we redefined to mean something they didn’t mean.

Just a thought.

Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself   7 comments

Image result for image of donald trumpIf politics flows downwards from culture, then it was only a matter of time before a politician mastered the role. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump cracked that code.

Tony Soprano, Walter White, and Frank Underwood are just a few recent examples of the enormously popular characters who have, each in their own way, stood in for the role of the complicated bad guy who fascinates millions of Americans.

Source: Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself

Posted February 16, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in politics, Uncategorized

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No Leap of Faith   1 comment

Image result for image of fog shrouded bridgeThere’s a place we hike to that has a rope bridge to cross a wild Alaska river. The first time we hiked there, it was shrouded in fog and we had to make a choice. Trust that the bridge was connected on the other side, even though we could not see it or wait for the fog to clear.

Brad cast me a beserker grin and said “hey, this feels a lot like faith.”

Faith is not a leap into the dark as the modern philosophers would have us believe. It’s a step onto a fog-shrouded bridge.

We are not given definitive proof that God exists, that Jesus is God, that if we trust Him He will save us. We’re given hints — small bits of evidence that we can either follow to the bridge or ignore.

The leap of faith comes to us from Soren Kierkegaard. Modernism had promised a unified explanation for all of reality through science (without God), but by the time Kierkegaard came around, people had begun to despair of ever reaching that answer. Unwilling to accept that there was no answer that didn’t include God and that without that foundation for Truth, you just end up with a bunch of half-truths, Kierkegaard conceived of a dichotomy between reality and faith. He concluded that mankind cannot achieve anything of true metaphysical importance without taking a “leap of faith”. In doing so, people have to separate the rational and logical from faith. We shouldn’t expect the world to make sense according to our metaphysical statements. It’s not necessary for our faith to have meaning in the world and if we think that it does, then we’re deluded. But it’s fine, because we can have faith so long as it is completely divorced from the physical and material world.

Hence the leap of faith.

But Christian faith is more like crossing a bridge that you can’t see the other end of rather than leaping off a cliff. In Hebrews 11 we find the roll call of faith, a listing of the men and women who trusted God without knowing how things would turn out. Noah, for example, built a huge boat in the middle of a desert because God told him to. Yeah, that made no sense to his neighbors … until it started raining. What was Noah’s evidence that building this boat was a good idea? Less than mine is for believing that Jesus will save my soul. God spoke to Noah. His neighbors thought he was crazy … until it started raining. I investigated what there is to know about Jesus and Christianity and I read the Bible while getting to know and coming to trust Christians. I followed the evidence to the bridge.

The bridge of faith is shrouded in fog and uncertainty because we need to cross it in faith. That crossing requires that we trust the bridge enough to hold us up even though we can’t see all of it. Crossing means letting go of the certainty we feel standing on solid ground or believing what Neil deGrasse Tyson puts forth on Cosmos. Crossing means leaving what we now put so much stock in to believe that what is waiting for us on the other side is far more valuable.

The prospect of crossing is scary. It’s potentially dangerous. And we can’t see the far side to assure that it is properly attached, that it will hold our weight and not dump us into the roaring river below where the rapids or hypothermia will kill us. But it is a whole lot less scary than leaping off a cliff into pea-soup fog with no idea of what is on the other side. That would be totally stupid! So we trusted our friend, who built the bridge, and crossed. There’s a beautiful cabin in a awesome forest on the other side Our friend gave us a key and it is worth the risk to cross the bridge. We’ve now done it dozens of times and we no longer feel nervous if we can’t see the other side.

Eternal life rests on the other side of faith’s bridge, Who is Jesus Christ the the Savior. God provided ample but not conclusive evidence for His existence in nature, history, archeology and the Bible. If we follow that evidence, we end up at the bridge. He invites us to cross that bridge to live the kind of life He wants for us because He loves us, but He doesn’t give us all of the evidence up front because He wants us to approach Him through faith, to trust Him as Adam and Eve refused to trust Him in the beginning of time. Why? Well, you find that out when you get to the other side of the bridge.

Source: No Leap of Faith

Posted November 27, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Faith

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Perception Changes Everything   Leave a comment

If we want to reach our culture with conservative political/economic principles and/or Christianity (I recognize that not everyone believes as I do), we need to understand the thought processes of the culture around us. That can be sort of hard when the world view of our culture is in flux.

Politically, Modernism strongly influenced the United States. “We hold these truths to be self-evident” is a modernist statement. The following clause “endowed by Our Creator” is evidence that early modernists did not reject faith as having a place in reality. There is truth, our Founders said, and we can know truth if we are open to it.

Unfortunately, Modernism took a nasty turn. It became dictatorial. It increasingly focused on scientific studies as the only way to see the world. Metaphysics were shunted aside in favor of that which could be understood by the slide-rule and microscope.

Postmodernism reacted against Modernism, recognizing that scientists are often wrong and that our understanding of reality is influenced by our perceptual apparatus.

Here’s an example.

To my husband’s sister, it is a verifiable truth that the world is overcrowded. She looks outside her window in a East Coast state and sees a mass of people living in houses that are squeezed together on tiny little lots. She drives crowded highways and shops in crowded malls. She sees television shows that show the throngs of people in Mumbai and Singapore. Clearly, the world is overcrowded.

To me, the world is not all that overcrowded. I look outside my window in Alaska and I see houses on larger lots with just a few people living inside each. My brother can’t even see his neighbors from his deck. I drive on highways that are only briefly crowded during rush hour. I go hiking in the woods and see nobody for days. I wonder why people in Mumbai choose to live on top of one another. I know, because I’ve studied, that the entire human population could fit in the state of Texas standing up with elbow room, and that only about 25% of American land is even lightly used. Clearly, the world is not so overcrowded.

We both are educated people who have access to the same evidence, but our different perspectives color how we view the world. That acknowledgment is a gift of Postmodernism. It’s often stated as “truth is relative”, but in reality, the perception of truth is subjective.

An atheist can look at the evidence of the natural world and say there is no god and there is no necessity for god because the natural world is sufficient in and of itself to create and sustain itself.

A person of faith can look at the exact same evidence of the natural world and praise God for creating and sustaining it.

Perspective changes everything. And, we owe Postmodernism a debt of gratitude for teaching us that. Had we stuck with Modernism, Christianity would have been doomed by the constant insistence that only scientists are qualified to make truth statements. Postmodernism allows for freedom of thought, for divergent opinion. That’s a good thing because in that evironment, if it actually existed, Christianity would just be another point of view with equal validity.

Unfortunately, that’s not really the world we live in, which is why we do not owe Postmodernism our souls and we should be relieved that the postmodern era is slowly giving way to the next.

For once, it might be a good idea for Christians to decide our reaction to this cultural movement early on rather than coming late to the party and looking foolish. This warning also operates for political conservatives. There’s a sea change coming. Are we ready for it?

Posted September 30, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense, philosophy

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Subjective Reality and the 20-Story Fall   4 comments

                Post-modernism is really a reaction to the failure of modernism. Modernism promised that thinkers could develop a theory of reality that would encompass all of reality without leaving out anything. Throughout the Modern era, groups of thinkers would espouse a theory that was meant to be the Explanation of Everything. A few years or decades later, new information would be discovered that put that theory into doubt or completely debunked it. Then some other group of thinkers would espouse another theory that would be the Explanation of Everything and ….

                Eventually, someone pointed out that this wasn’t really working out. The first post-modernists were right to suggest that reality has subjective elements. My view of the world is constrained and influenced by my view of the world. Where I stand, how I live, my preconceptions influence how I view reality. Modernists fought this conclusion and the resulting reaction from post-modernists was to conclude that we really can’t know reality at all. Many current post-modernists believe that reality is a construct of our wishes and that even when two or more of us try to agree on reality, it is really just linguistic tricks. If a large group of us agree on a reality, then that’s only because those in power have tricked us into believing it.

                Yes, I painted with a broad brush. There were modernists who were also men and women of faith. There are also post-modernists who are not that heavy-handed, but truly, the idea that reality is completed constructed inside our minds is pretty ridiculous – on the level with the Matrix, actually. There are realities we all must recognize. If you step off the ledge of a 20-story building, gravity takes over and reality becomes the ground rushing up to claim your life. That is truth in any language, in any power structure, in any civilization. Those in power can attempt to trick me into believing I’ll float when I step off that ledge, but reality will prove them wrong. It is delusional to believe that there are no truths in a world where there are truths.

                On the other hand, the history of Modernism shows that you cannot explain Everything  by a single theory. To the extent that modernists attempt to continue to find that all-encompassing theory, they are delusional. Hmm, maybe its extremism that is the problem ….

                To a certain extent, the Modernists were right. You can draw a circle around a field of knowledge and state some truths that operate within that field of knowledge, but the post-modernists are also right in that reality is influenced by perspective and so most truths are not as solid as gravity and the 20-story fall.

                And, that leaves people of faith in a great place. Yeah, I know, that’s not what most people say. Christianity looks like its on the ropes, beaten by the twin brutalizers of Modernism and Post-Modernism. Christianity makes some rock-solid truth statements, but Modernism says that only scientists are qualified to make truth statements and Post-Modernism says that only tyrants and then insane attempt to make truth statements. If we accept that both of these philosophies are extremist views that ignore certain realities, then that means that other views may have validity and the right, in certain circumstances, to make truth claims.

If we can just learn how to articulate truth so that those around us who are suspicious of truth statements can understand it, Christianity can solve the problems that modernists and post-modernists have created.

Posted September 24, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Reality is NOT Subjective   1 comment

America has become a pluralistic society, but it’s important that Christians understand that we don’t actually live in a pluralistic world. Truth and reality are really pretty solid. If you step over the parapet of a 20-story building, gravity will take over and you will die, regardless of what you might wish reality to be. If your gas tank is empty, social acceptance of your right to believe that it is full will not make your car run. Reality is just what it is and there’s no way to change that.

Truth and reality do not adapt to us; we must adapt to them. A four thousand year old tradition does not become truer with time. If it was false to begin with, it is simply a long-standing error. It might be popular, it might be widespread, it might even be adopted by the powerful and thus authoritative, but it is still wrong. Acceptance of its right to exist by a pluralistic society doesn’t make it correct and it will not help those following it when they finally do encounter reality.

You may have heard this differently from different sources. There are some who believe that the world can be divided into “fact” and “faith”. They believe the current culture norm that “fact” is what is perceptible by your senses. This allows them to insist that belief in God is a matter of “faith” and thus subjective. All views of God are equally true because all metaphysical ideas are sequestered in an upper story that man cannot possibly access.

This is what many of us think pluralism reduces us to, but that’s not actually correct. Pluralism rejects social force as a means to suppress divergent opinions and practices. It does not mean we must accept all views as equally right or equally wrong. What I’m describing is “inclusivism”, which rejects the Christian claim that Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. That’s a statement that is either true or not. God either created life on earth or not. Jesus is the only way to salvation or not. These beliefs matter a great deal because truth exists whether we believe it or not. We can stand up for the rights of all groups to be free of social suppression of their beliefs without compromising the Gospel.

Christians living in a pluralistic society where there is no presumption of favor toward our beliefs and practices and even a strong bias against it, are in the best Biblical position possible to show the excellence of the Way of Christ. Consider Elijah when he called the prophets of Baal to the Mount of Carmel. He gave them every opportunity to prove that their way was superior and they failed. When it was finally his turn, he called forth fire from heaven to consume a soaking-wet sacrifice and altar. The “disadvantage” of the water wasn’t a problem for God and, trust me, no one doubted the power of God by the time the flames died down.

Nothing’s changed. Christians still serve the Creator of the Universe who called everything into being with the power of His Word. If God is with us, who can stand against us? Christians should welcome our place in a pluralistic society and recognize it as God’s opportunity to shine a light into darkness.

Posted September 15, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Postmodernism Sets Us Free   2 comments

There was a time (and not that long ago) when American culture was almost universally regarded as based on Christianity. I am not saying that everyone in the country was Christian in the Antioch sense of the word. I seriously doubt if even a wide plurality of Americans have ever been Antioch Christians, which was a spiritual condition that motivated a missionary movement I’m saying that our culture was widely viewed as based on Christian ethics. Americans are not, as a nation, a New Testament Christian nation. However, most American leaders prior to the early 1960s not only accepted that American culture was based on a Christian cultural foundation, but they almost universally firmly agreed that things out to be that way.

Education especially exemplified this understanding. Even in state-run schools, the speeches of university presidents could often have passed for Christian sermons. Chaplains delivered prayers before the student bodies that were noticeably Christian prayers addressed to the Savior-God. Yes, sometimes these prayers were met by some individuals with skepticism, boredom or even resentment, but the cultural prerogative of Christianity was generally accepted.

Wow, have times changed!

The majority of secular universities no longer have a chaplaincy. The few that still do are chaired by men and women who would never mention the name of Jesus Christ in a public prayer, but might work in some Taoism or Islam or invoke “the Goddess”. Christians ideas and motivations have few public expressions these days.

Today, the Christian is often viewed as big, bad bullies who must be punished for past misdeeds. Postmodernism holds an irrational dislike of all things Christian.

There is very little Christians can do about that right now. Pitching fits, manipulating the political process, whining — these behaviors only work against the cause of Christianity in the larger culture. We need to recognize it and be prepared to stand in the midst of that icy-cold stream. It might help if we realized that it’s really not all that bad.

Pluralism teaches that individuals have a right to be who they are, so long as what they are does not cause harm to others. In a pluralistic society, social and/or political force may not be used to suppress the freedom of thought and expression of any citizen, or even the practice that flows from it, insofar as that practice is not morally wrong. It does not mean that everyone can do whatever they want. It does not mean we must agree with the views or adopt the practices of those of other persuasions. It does not mean we must like those views or practices. It does not mean we cannot appropriately express our disagreement or dislike for other viewpoints.

In AD 49, the early Christian Church, not more than 15 years old, gathered to settle their first big question on how to be in the world, but not of the world. The first Christians were all Jews. Even Jesus was a Jew. There were Gentiles who became believers, but most were what were known as God-fearers – Gentiles who had adopted Judaism — and then they became believers and continued as Jewish flavored Christians. Paul and Barnabas and the missionary project out of the church at Antioch changed all that. Now hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Gentiles were becoming Christians and most of them did not want to be circumcised.

Imagine that! Adults didn’t want to submit to that in order to be “true” Christians. If every guy reading this doesn’t say “Oh, yeah!” I’d be puzzled. It’s a simple procedure for a baby, but it’s not something an adult male wants to go through.

The Jerusalem Council decided that pluralism was a good arrangement for the Christian churches.  Gentiles could become Christians without joining Jewish culture and Jews who become Christians were not required to remain cultural Jews (Scripture doesn’t record that part in Acts, but Paul’s writing in Galatians suggests that was part of the decision). Being a Jew didn’t make one a Christian. We all come to Christ by faith. Our culture has zip to do with that. The Jerusalem decision in a nutshell.

The Christian gospel does not require cultural privilege or even social recognition to flourish. History shows that God’s work is most definitely NOT disadvantaged by persecution or death, so how could it be damaged by a mere philosophy? The God Who holds Christians in His hands will not be diminished by mere human folly.

Modernism taught that Christians should shut up because we are either stupid or delusional if we believe there is any reality outside of what science says there is. We could argue against it, but it was hard to maintain credibility arguing against the seers of the Modern Age. Postmodernism sets us free from that prison. Pluralism in American society means that the Christian has just as much right to be an out-of-the-closet follower of Jesus or a Christian cultural traditionalist as any non-Christian has a right to be what they are. We need to claim that.

Current cultural metanarrative teaches that non-Christians were victims of past Christian domination of the social order. This empowers non-Christians to insist that they may be assertive in ways that Christians cannot. Christians are “fair game” for attacks and abuse that would quickly be branded discriminatory  if directed toward other groups. It’s tempting to feel sorry for ourselves as a group and allow that to become our focus.

Don’t do it!

Scripture teaches that the metanarrative of the 21st century is far from accurate. Jesus treated women with respect. Paul wrote that God didn’t distinguish between racial groups. Human beings acting like the “bent” people that we are didn’t always follow Scripture, but that does not invalidate the teaching. We need to own up to what people did in God’s name and move on to what WE want to do in Jesus’ name.

This doesn’t mean that the world won’t hate us or say wrong things about us. Jesus warned us that those who followed Him would be hated by the world because the world hated Him before it hated us. Why do we act surprised that things aren’t easy now? Weren’t we listening when we read the Gospel of John? Yes, Christians in many venues have legal recourse against discrimination and I am not saying they shouldn’t use it. We live in a pluralistic society, after all, and we are one of the many groups that have a right to exist.

Pluralism secures a social context in which full and free interchange of different views on life and reality can be conducted to the greatest advantage of all. Thin-skinned and narrow-minded people may not enjoy a pluralistic society, but their discomfort is vastly outweighed by the benefits of open and free exchange of information and ideas.

Christians in the 21st century, far from being wrapped and gagged in cultural chains, have a powerful opportunity to speak into our culture with love and respect about the actual foundation of reality … if we will do it.

Posted September 14, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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No Inherent Conflict   2 comments

In Modernism, science and faith are in two separate and distinct camps. Francis Schaeffer described it well – science occupies the lower story, the nuts and bolts of material reality, while faith has been relegated to an upper story that is not subject to reality’s rules. Both these systems are “blind” – they impose rules on thought and behavior that do not require ordinary people to understand, verify or prove their validity, but we are required to accept those rules because some expert says we must.

For example, we take for granted that the resurrection of Christ is inconsistent with the laws of physics.

How do you prove that?

If you’re not a physicist, you lack the skills to prove it from physics and if you’re not a theologian, you lack the skills to prove it from theology. Just think about that for a moment before you react.

                …Thinking…

If you are not skilled in both subjects, you cannot prove that the resurrection of Jesus is inconsistent with the laws of physics because you do not have sufficient understanding of both subjects.

So, where do we get the idea that the resurrection is inconsistent with the laws of physics?

Presuppositions based upon worldview! In this, we actually owe a debt to post-modernism, because this philosophy helps us to understand that our perspective influences our perception. It’s not the facts that change, but our interpretation of the facts that change, depending on our point of view and the beliefs we bring to the party.

Fact — We’re constantly surrounded by items and events for which no physical explanation yet exists.

Example — Physicists have not explained the existence of the physical universe itself, let alone life and human consciousness. That’s a rock-solid fact and you can take theories like the multiverse, punctuated equilibrium, and huge spans of time that violate Newtonian laws as signs that the scientists don’t even have a decent theory other than “God did it” (which most of them won’t accept). Chance plus time is not something that can produce or explain anything, but it is invoked precisely where there is no known explanation or cause. The universe exists, but why and how elude the scientists. We who are not scientists should not accept a discussion of “anything is possible given enough time” until we’ve seen a verifiable demonstration of, for example, life emerging from the inorganic. Nobody has yet successfully documented such an example. By referring to a failed 1960s experiment and other loosely-connected minutia that has not proven anything, scientists who really want it to be true create a “scientific” evasion so complicated and culturally protected that most people do not realize the theories are inconsistent with the laws of physics.

Sadly, many religionists invoke similar non-explanations for our own pet theories. We attempt to hold our ground by referencing God’s great power as if that were an explanation requiring no further thought or inquiry. That was the mistake of the Roman Catholic Church when Galilleo confronted their presuppositions concerning the structure of the solar system. Rather than accept that he was observing the physical world and their interpretation of evidence might need revision, they treated his observations as an attack against God when nothing could be further from the truth. Science and religion were not in direct conflict with one another when Galilleo presented his theory, nor are they in direct conflict in the 21st century. They are simply inquiry into fields of knowledge that are distinct. While either can make suggestions concerning the other, neither is qualified to make proofs in the other’s arena of knowledge. Science deals with knowledge of the physical world, while theology deals with knowledge of the metaphysical world. These realms interact, but understanding both to the degree where you can form them into an integrated field of knowledge is unlikely and probably impossible.

God’s personality is a source of energy and causation that produced an intelligible structure that is simply not a physical structure. Science deals with the physical world, but not all knowledge is physical. The problem comes when “authorities” on either side of the issue insist that they have all the answers and exclusive claim to the “right views”. Francis Collins, late of the Human Genome Project, but more recently of the National Institutes of Health, speaks eloquently of a “middle position” in the Language of God. He is an evangelical Christian who is also a world-renowned biochemist. While, I do not wholly agree with every statement Dr. Collins makes, I do see such a middle position as affording us an escape from the cultural deadlock that exists in universities, churches and around the water cooler. This deadlock currently requires people of faith to sequester their faith into an upper story slum where only “irrational” thought is allowed separate from their knowledge of the physical world.

Such sequestration is unacceptable to faithful intellectuals like Dr. Collins and others. It should be unacceptable to every thinking Christian. The world would like us to step back into the shadows and accept the role of superstitious irrational fools society ascribes to the faithful, but it is within our power to reject that dhimmitude. Reconciliation between faith and science is possible, if devoted and qualified Christians will engage with society to bring the Spirit and power of Christ into the authority structures that insist the intellectual professions must be in conflict with genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

They needn’t be in conflict if only we can begin a thoughtful dialogue that allows each credibility within its own field of knowledge.

Posted September 13, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity, Uncategorized

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Does Reality Exist?   Leave a comment

I’ve been reading this book on postmodernism and the Christian church. I’ll spare you reading this book. It’s really a hard slog, written by an intellectual theologian who can’t seem to get to the point, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some useful knowledge to impart. I also keep hoping he’ll break out into practicality by the end of the book.

So what is postmodernism and what should the Church (as in the broad collection of congregations across the face of the planet) do in response to it? Maybe we need to first define what postmodernism is.

Unlike some writers, I do not view postmodernism as a cancer that will inevitably destroy the Body of Christ. I actually view it as an antibody reaction to another disease that did as much or more harm than postmodernism.  Consider a fever. It is your immune system’s response to an infection, so it’s a good thing … unless it climbs too high and then it kills you.

Postmodernism did not spring up all by itself in the middle of a cow field. It arose in response to the culturally paralyzing empiricist variant of modernism espoused by the like of David Hume, John Stuart Mill and the logical positivism movement of the mid-20th century that taught that knowledge must needs be restricted to “science” and “science theory” and interpreted with a bias toward the sense-perceptible world. You could sum up their philosophy as: There is one reality which is the natural world and physics is its prophet.

Christians rejected this new philosophical paradigm and found ourselves accused of being idiots and hating science, believing in fairy tales rather than fact. Scientists who held to the Christian worldview were marginalized not because their science was found to be wrong, but because they were politically incorrect. Christian students were told that they need not apply to science programs unless they rejected their faith. Worse, from my perspective, Christians were told to leave their faith at home when going to the ballot box … that their beliefs were not germane to the areas of public policy.

For entirely different reasons, postmoderns didn’t agree with this narrative anymore than Christians did. While Christians refused to ignore the metaphysical reality of the universe because God has opened our eyes to it, postmoderns refused to let moderns get away with saying they alone define truth.

To the modernist assurance that only science knows the truth, postmoderns say “Yeah, well, your truth is culturally and personally defined and therefore no more valid than my truth.” Reality, to the postmodern, does not actually exist except as a construct of the human mind, therefore “truth” is defined by the individual and cannot be too strongly believed because the human perception is too subject to cultural and personal points of view.

The postmodernist philosophers (Rorty, Toulman, MacIntyre, Lyotard) cannot come to any reasonable definite conclusions about anything, because they do not believe you can have solid knowledge of anything.

Still, it’s danged hard to live your life that way, so they make some definite statements:

Christians must abandon all truth claims because truth is culturally determined.

The problem for the postmoderns is that I disagree because I believe their assumption that truth is relative is wrong and they can’t say I’m wrong because they don’t believe anyone is wholly wrong. Note, they still think they can dictate to Christians what to belief and they want that belief to encompass a rejection of the God of the Bible.

Modernists are a lot easier to argue with and also much easier to take seriously. They can affirm a solid belief on what knowledge really is, even if evidence later proves them wrong. The postmodernist cannot officially deal with objective reality. They are left with the rather weak argument that “society works best for us if we talk about knowledge our way.”

In its insistence that truth is a not mandated by science, postmodernism does the Body of Christ a great favor. It is the fever that has been weakening the virus of modernism for more than a half century. That’s good.

As is so often the case, however, the fever is not without its risks because our children are raised in this culture with two messages that are like saltwater to the roots of Christianity.

Modernism says only science can define true knowledge, so the Christian claim that Jesus Christ is the Truth and the Truth will set you free is obviously wrong, since Jesus Christ refuses to submit to the standard scientific tests. Then postmodernism teaches them that no truth is certain, so therefore, even if you really believe that God exists and that Jesus is God, you can’t say it with confidence.

Like a body with a virus that is experiencing a high fever, the Body of Christ in this generation is struggling not to succumb to the twin disease. One is the antidote to the other, but the antidote has potentially fatal side effects.

So how do we bulwark our children so that Christ remains central in their lives as they live in this world, but are not of it?

Now there’s the most important question!

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