December 26, 2007

"Intellectual Dishonesty?" A response.

Yet another response originally found in comments to "Are You There...".

Previously, i wrote:

"And, lastly, "What can Christianity offer me that the other religions can't?"

Short answer: "It is the truth, verifiable both objectively and personally."

To which Calilasseia responded:

"This is quite simply wrong. I have mentioned in my previous posts instances where the bible makes statements that are flatly contradicted by observational reality, yet you have not addressed a single one of those instances. You continue to assert the alleged "truth" of your doctrine, and once again apply an entirely different test of validity to your doctrine than the test you apply to material outside your doctrine. Again, I hereby contend that this is intellectually dishonest."

There are statements in the Bible that seem confusing.

But i ask: Does "confusing" mean false?


For a scientist who relies on absolute reality, "confusing" simply means it will take a bit more time and effort to be understood, to be proven or disproven.

There are claims in the Bible that are different from everyday occurrence.

But i ask: Does "different" mean false?

For a scientist who relies on objective reality, "different" simply means another thing to be investigated on its own merits, regardless of the personal background and biases of the investigator.

No matter how much indirect evidence we have to confirm or deny, say, the origins of life, the fact remains that neither i nor anyone else reading this was alive to witness this event with our own eyes. We can only attempt to conclude as much as we can, with the information that is available and verifiable to us.

But what are the things that are available and verifiable to me?

As a Christian, i have the Bible to guide me, in my personal life.

As a scientist, i must concede that there is always a possibility of the Bible failing me.

But as a scientist, i must also honestly report that that possibility has yet to be realized in my life.

And so i ask:

Can you recognize the possibility of something, perhaps just that it has not yet been realized in your own life?

Can you concede that there is even a possibility that God exists, even if you have not perceived or verified it for yourself?

What is intellectual honesty?

It is testing and verifying and forming the best conclusions, regardless of one's personal biases.

For twenty-odd years i grew up alternately ignoring and hating what little i knew about God. True, my change of heart came about from an experience that was "personal" and "subjective". But it was just the beginning of the journey, and every step is marked by questions from a curious [and many times just forgetful] me.

Why do you say i "apply an entirely different test of validity" to God as compared to other "material"? No; i have used the same test of validity to everything that comes my way. Perhaps there is just some misunderstanding; for a supreme being does not conveniently fall into the categories of molecules or numbers, and [in my humble opinion] must not be investigated as merely such.

To conclude, intellectual honesty would entail a thorough objective investigation before concluding one way or another...all the while admitting that there may be flaws in one's perception or judgment, and that there might be evidence in the future that could radically modify these conclusions.

Intellectual honesty involves recognizing what is possible, and determining what is certain.

"What does Christianity offer?" A response.

This originally appeared as a response to "Gribble the Munchkin" in the "Are You There..." article.


Hello and thank you for your well-written, objective, respectful comments. And please, no apologies necessary. It is i who needs to apologize to those i have yet to respond to, here in my blog and in Professor Dawkins' Faith and Religion subforum. :)

First off, regarding my belief on Dawkins' existence. i wrote this near the end of "Are You There": "And by the way, if it isn't obvious by now, i do believe that you exist..." i mean no disrespect to Dawkins nor to anyone else. i merely wrote the article in a satirical manner, using the line of reasoning that atheists have been known to use. The "dishonesty" you refer to is but artistic license; would you accuse novelists or actors of being false as well?

You say, "It is therefore reasonable to doubt his existance." Surely, i agree! And i understand why Dawkins and others would like to compare God to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and so on; their point is, just because something cannot be disproved doesn't mean it's true. My counterpoint is just because something cannot be disproved doesn't mean it's not true.

But God's existence is not merely non-disprovable, the proof can be positive. You first mentioned the universe and the natural world and the arguments for intelligent design and so on. i do not really distinguish between "theism" and "deism", in that i am a Bible-based Christian and do not have the same beliefs as every theist and deist. (In the same way that i have met enough atheists to know that there are still some "differences" or nuances among them.) That's how it starts i suppose, especially for intellectually-inclined people. "If" the universe was purposefully created [as opposed to randomly occurred], they can then ask: "Who?" "How?" "Why?" We currently have several claims by different religions and/or world views. Like you mentioned, these are --- "conflicting" and they cannot be simultaneously true, but it is also possible that one of them is true. Many people have acknowledged deism/theism by looking at nature and the universe; but even if "this tells [us] nothing about which god is responsible", then we can look elsewhere for the rest of the answers.

For further evidence of God, you correctly noted that several commenters have "deeply personal and subjective" proof. i assure you that the evidence is not limited to that, but first let us look at the validity of even what is ("merely"?) personal and subjective.

i am a teacher so i'll use a classroom analogy. No matter how many teachers talk about a particular lesson, no matter how many in the class already know that lesson, each student learns at his/her own pace. The student can have a moment of realization during lecture time, or understand the application of the lesson while performing an experiment. The student can fit all the pieces of the puzzle with or without help from the teacher, classmates, or someone else. But even on the most objective of topics, the learning is personal and the understanding, subjective. Even if each and every student verified the speed of light, their scores on the relativity quiz can still vary widely...and note that for "objective" topics, there is but one set of answers. [This is not an argument for theism, rather for "personal and subjective" proof of objective reality.]

But i agree that "personal and subjective" can be mistaken, even grossly erroneous. Biblical Christianity is true in that it is not limited to these kinds of "proof". Some Christians talk of logic and reasoning as the basis of their conversion. i highly recommend Ravi Zacharias ( and Lee Strobel ( In particular, Strobel’s “The Case for Christ” lists the objective evidence for the God of the Bible; an outline summary can be found here: Meanwhile, Dr. Zacharias takes the philosophical approach: apart from God, there is no way for us to define morality, purpose, meaning, and value judgments.


Like Geekborj, i must respectfully yet strongly disagree on your negative perception of the Bible as "an instruction manual for how to live one[']s life". Surely, the ancient Jews were desert nomads and were products of their time and culture as well; but there are ideas and principles that transcend time and culture. The best example i could give is the many laws regarding slavery in the Old and even New Testaments. i could argue that the laws are very just and even merciful, but the practice of slavery still feels "barbaric", doesn't it? Centuries after Jesus' resurrection, Christians led the abolition of the slave trade and the emancipation of slaves. Are the Christian beliefs of Wilberforce and Lincoln called into question, or are these beliefs the main motivation for them to fight and prevail over slavery?

When we say "Society has simple progressed beyond the tribal law of the desert," we must be clear whether we have completely done away with said tribal laws, or whether we used them as essential foundations on our upward climb. Here i make three points.

Point 1, on progress beyond tribal desert laws:
You are probably aware of the revolutionary paradigm shift between the Old and New Testaments. "An eye for an eye" (clear-cut justice) progressed into "turn the other cheek" (for accepting undeserved pain) and "do not let your right hand know what your left is doing" (for not accepting deserved praise)."Love your neighbor" progressed into "Love your neighbor". This kind of progression is perfect and impossible; something the present society, no matter how advanced in other areas, has yet to reach. Why even impose this? Jesus pointed out that we can attain this only through God's help. If the Bible is fictitious and no such perfect-God exists, how can the Bible authors (and any of us) even have an idea of what "perfect" is?

Point 2, on the definition of progress:
Continuing from point 1, what exactly is "progress" anyway? Which way is "up" or the right way? [i occasionally ask evolutionists a similar question: if everything occurred randomly, then why do we impose that it is the "fittest" who survive, that creatures have a hierarchy, and so on?] From an atheistic point of view, how can we say that society progressed? In which direction are we headed anyway, if there is nothing around us but conflicting ideologies and opposing examples? But if our goal is towards a perfect society, the definitions of perfect justice, love and all else are found only in the Biblical God. *Note*: The principles of what are "good" and so on are universal and i have never met anyone, regardless of belief, who does not have them; but we must ask *Why* or *how come* we all have these principles in the first place.

Point 3, on society's progress:
The first judicial system and the first constitution in ancient times were based on the Biblical commandments; the first universities and hospitals in the more contemporary times were again based on Christian values. The very foundation of America as the place where people are free to worship (the underlying reason for the separation of church and state), were led by Christians. i was surprised when i first learned about some of these, but eventually it made more and more sense. Why would i even want to deprive myself for the benefit of another? Why would i want others to have the same rights that as myself? Again, how can we seek after justice and goodness, how can we even define these principles/values, if all the universe was just an accident and every instance/action is equally probable (and acceptable)? The Bible claims that it is God's word, written because we could not understand Him completely nor correctly on our own. In line with this, His commands are patterns on how we can live like Him, who is just and good.


Let us now go to the authenticity of the Bible. Surely we want collaborating/corroborating evidence for what has been recorded in it. You mention the records of the Romans, Egyptians, and Jews like Josephus. Your point is well-taken. However, if i were to order the mass slaughter of babies like Herod, or leader of a mighty empire brought to its knees by nomad slaves like Pharaoh, or waiting for a Messiah while a non-Messiah type reportedly rose from the dead like Josephus, or the political and religious leaders who plotted to kill the adult Jesus...what would i do? Surely they would be the last to record or to publicly admit that "This is God". Even in "objective" fields like history and science, human perception greatly colors the records; and even in the past century certain countries have had some historical events distorted, if not taken off the record altogether.

You say, "While i am prepared to admit that there may well have been a man called Jesus who existed at that time and led a small cult...", and so at least Josephus' account helps us reach a common point that Jesus existed. If we are to talk of secondary (corroborating) evidence alone, there was no claim of "This is Jesus' body, he did not rise again". But the disciples were (understandably) accused of taking His body and claiming He rose again. Note that these followers ran off when Jesus was arrested, how can they suddenly have the guts to sneak past Roman guards and proclaim Jesus resurrected until their own dying breaths? Others dispute that Jesus did not really die but was in a trance-like state that enabled Him to survive the cross. But historically, many people have died by scourging alone, even before they carried and got nailed to the cross. And Jesus was speared on His side, releasing fluid around his heart. And, as pointed out in Strobel's book, who would want to proclaim Jesus as victorious conqueror of death if he was a survivor of the worst death penalty there was...and looked it?

People, especially those of the scientific/intellectual/rational type as yourself, would want objective records of historical events: listing them down as they happened, even if the authors would be shown in a negative light, simply because they are writing down what is true. But that is already what the Bible is. There are people who object to the Bible because "history is written by the winners" --- but the Israelites and later on the early Christians were anything but: the Bible honestly and humbly portrays the faults of the slaves, the kings, the prophets, and the perfect God who loves them (and us all) anyway.

Let us go to more technical details. Scholars say: "The Bible is better preserved, by far, than accepted writings of Homer, Plato and Aristotle." The manuscripts of ancient works we currently have are usually only a handful (hundreds, tens or less) and dated decades or centuries from the supposed time of writing. In comparison, currently the earliest records for Jesus have been dated seven years after his death and resurrection (yes, not ninety years, all of the New Testament was written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses). And there are thousands of these ancient manuscripts preserved until now. In terms of details about ancient civilizations, it is so easy to disprove the Bible. But actually, all the archaeological/cultural/even physiological evidence being discovered until now has done is to corroborate it.


Now "to evaluate the christian evidence against the evidence for the other deities." i do not know why you say that "Mohammed certain[l]y wrote a better book". But did you know that even the Koran concedes that only Jesus and not Mohammed was virgin-born? And Mohammed had no claims of feeding five thousand nor of rising from the dead.

Regarding the Jewish books: Christians refer to them as the "Old Testament" of the Bible because we see no disconnect between the two. (Previously i have shown an example of "progression" from OT to NT commands.) Has "Christ utterly failed to fulfill" the Jewish predictions? The NT books particularly Matthew and Revelation consistently refer the reader that Jesus' actions or even His circumstances were "fulfilled according to Scripture", which in that time was just the Jewish books/Christian OT. Actually all NT books refer to OT. For prophecies fulfilled by Jesus: see Those fulfilled before and after Jesus' time, including the present:

The Jewish Messiah's attributes [powerful political ruler] are different from Jesus' servant attitude. But Jesus promised to come again as that (OT) kind of Messiah. i heard somewhere that Jews and Christians are both waiting for the Savior: the first group awaits the first coming while the second awaits the second coming. In any case, note that the majority of the first Christians were Jews/Hebrews/Israelites, and that one of the major issues of the early church was whether to include non-Jews (Gentiles). This shows how many (thousands daily) of the Jews believed, once they realized that there was no disconnect between OT Messiah and Jesus.


i shall try to answer this first: "If you were born in Iran, do you believe you would still be a christian, given the demographics of geography? If yes, why aren't there more christian Iranians".

For any faith or even any non-religious idea, there are many reasons why said idea would propagate easily across one area compared to another, at times even leaving their "motherland". But i can generalize the question to "Why aren't there more Christians around the world anyways?" i have talked to people and have seen for myself how God is on the move even in --- especially in --- places where He is not permitted. i am learning how God is all powerful and can do all things, and how He chooses to use people, circumstances, dreams, miracles, and other means to draw people, in complete free will, to Him.

If the God of the Bible is real, then why does He not show Himself so clearly? But this same Bible says (1) all who seek Him with all their heart will find Him, and (2) one day He will show Himself clearly and all will bow, but it will already be judgment day by then.


And, lastly, "What can christianity offer me that the other religions can't?"

Short answer: "It is the truth, verifiable both objectively and personally. Thankfully, this truth is also good." (And i have listed various reasons/elaborations in the previous paragraphs.)

i have quoted this often: "All that I have seen enables me to trust the Creator for all that I have not seen." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

i may be a graduate student in the sciences but i have first realized God to be true in the area of --- yes --- personal experience. It was an emotional time for me, undoubtedly my lowest point, and for the first time i needed to trust in something other than myself. My eyes and ears were finally open enough for God.

But that is where scientific training is useful. Always, i would rather choose a harsh truth than a feel-good lie. i had and still have so many questions and issues regarding God's existence, the Bible's authenticity, morality, free will, and so on. But being honest about it means admitting when i do not know, and holding on when i do know.

i have come to acknowledge God as God through personal/emotional/subjective means, but because God is objective reality i can see Him through objective means as well. My every question might not have been answered (yet), but every answer leads to the One Living God. And i am ready to die for that God, for i have lived with Him long and well enough to know that what the Bible says about Him is true. :)

So i thank you, Gribble, for your insightful comments and for the opportunity to share mine. i wish you all the best :)

December 25, 2007

"reputable" scientists who are Christians, too

This is originally a response to comments to the "Are You There..." article.

Calilasseia [and to some extent, Elentar]:

Here is one point i would like to address quickly. i would rather have more time to say more, but as you have made clear you would appreciate any effort to directly respond as soon as possible. [Thank you for clarifying this so i can have a clearer idea of how to accommodate your request.]

Elentar said:
"Evolution is one of the crown jewels of science. You have a duty to know this."

i said:
"No. i respectfully do not believe in evolution. This does not make me any less of a scientist. And i am not the only scientist who has this view."

Calilasseia said:
"No reputable scientist holds this view. The only people who do are the assorted Discovery Institute "Fellows" and their camp followers, none of whom possess any genuine scientific credibility whatsoever."

Understandably, my first idea was to make a list of all scientists who were professing Christians, past and present. [Incidentally, they are not to be confused with adherents of the "Christian Science" religion.]

In a country like the Philippines where i live, faith in Jesus or Allah is a given for an overwhelming majority, including those who are in science. [And to answer the speculation of some posters in RDF, i do not study in a Christian university but rather in the premier national university that has a reputation for being too atheistic and/or humanistic and/or communistic.] And so i can give a list of my Christian colleagues who are involved in groundbreaking research of international caliber.

But it would be more effective to list down the internationally known scientists who were also Christians.

* "Scientists of the Christian Faith: A Presentation of the Pioneers, Practitioners and Supporters of Modern Science" is a comprehensive article found here:

* "50 Nobel Laureates and Other Great Scientists Who Believe in God" are listed here:

* "Some Famous Scientists who were Christians" are listed here:

These sites have links to many other related lists.

Particularly i would note Alister McGrath, who like Richard Dawkins is a professor in Oxford. McGrath has a PhD for research in molecular biophysics and wrote "The Dawkins Delusion" in response to Dawkins' book "The God Delusion".

Hence, saying that "no reputable scientist" believes in God and/or disbelieves in evolution is a "canard"; that is, "a false or baseless, usually derogatory story, report, or rumor."

Where does this leave us?

The intellectual capabilities and achievements of a person would definitely lend credence to his/her beliefs, yet said beliefs may still be incorrect or grossly wrong.

It is sometimes helpful to look at said capabilities and achievements, but the beliefs are based on truth claims that must stand on their own merit --- regardless of the abilities of or the mere number of the people who hold them.

And so we now go to the truth claims themselves. Are these valid? Are these even remotely possible? On what basis can we trust them?

Unfortunately this is where i must end for now. i hope that aside from supporting one of my claims, this response would show that i am not evading certain issues, but only attempting to answer them competently and correctly [as you doubtless would want me to do so].

Thank you and a good day to everyone.

December 24, 2007

happy Christ-mas, everybody :)

In the beginning....

Once upon a time...

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway.

We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

--- Romans 5:6-8

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God.

The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love — so you can't know him if you don't love.

This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him.

This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God.

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

We love because he first loved us.
--- 1 John 4:7-12, 19

...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

...And they lived happily ever after.


that other kind of doctor

i have friends studying and/or practicing medicine, including one whose reaction to a careless slur on Pinoy docs got published. i just read a newspaper article about a 75-year-old doc who's still in active volunteer service. And i am reading this magazine which includes the following articles:

  • Doctors who go beyond the call of duty
  • Trials and triumphs of Pinoy volunteer docs
  • What is the role of Filipino doctors in nation building
And how do all these make me feel?




i feel...angry. At myself and my field of work. What have my blog posts and computer simulations ever done, huh? How has my skill in solving physics problems saved a frigging life? i have never felt so irrelevant.




"So," asked one of my best friends, currently in the country for vacation, "How's the blog [and the Dawkins article]? There were so many who commented right?"

That surprised me. i had no idea she was reading and no idea that she cared [no offense

Come high school reunion and another friend asked me the same thing. So did my brother [
!]. And some churchmate friends. There are also previous students and bloggers across the globe. And who knows who else?

Lesson: People might not be posting comments but they are reading. i have a responsibility to them; the same responsibility/privilege that i have to
those who let me know that they are vehemently disagreeing with me yet are giving me countless opportunities to speak.


i just watched the rest of "Walk The Line" this afternoon. Johnny Cash was just recovering from drugs and was reading fan mail --- mostly from prisoners. His songs touched on their bondage and their hope of freedom; he himself was a walking testament of the new free life in Christ. God gave him his talent, and even used his sinful past, to reach out and speak powerfully and effectively to a particular group of people.

And so it is with me. i may not be fighting a disease but i am fighting nonetheless. i may not be curing a body but i am curing nonetheless.

From my own experience i can say that without God, every person is dying inside...perhaps in the body, perhaps in the mind, but most definitely, in the soul.

The literary great and
one of my personal heroes, C.S. Lewis, had this to say:

If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not.

To be ignorant and simple now --- not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground --- would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defence but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen.

Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether.

Most of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion. A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village: the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.

--- from "Learning in War-Time", taken from "The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C.S. Lewis"

Amen to that. :

i confessed to a couple of friends in medicine that the main --- only? --- reason i didn't want to be a [medical] doctor was that i did not want my failures to be the cause of someone becoming more sick or even dying. That responsibility is just too much. But, i continued, eventually i realized that it is better to try and fail than to never have tried at all. ^_^

Sounds like [Shakespeare], said one of them.

Yeah, that would be my writer side.

And i'm going to be a doctor too, that other kind of doctor. That would be my physics side. :

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. --- 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

December 21, 2007

My form of worship :)

It's one of those days when i have nothing on my sked yet LOTS to do.

And i have yet to spend alone time with's been a while.

But some things need to be attended to. (Namely, Gribble the Munchkin's comment on this article.)

i'm a writer and this was what i was born to do ^_^ Getting away from it is like a fish getting away from water...and in this case, it might not be me, and it might not be just one person, who will find it hard to breathe until i get to doing what i am supposed to be doing.

And so here goes. Work/Ministry/Service/Writing/Thinking/Reasoning. My form of worship; loving God and fellowmen in one sitting.

(And the real act of martyrdom i could offer up to God would be to get to my Math problem set...but i'll watch Elizabeth 2 first. ^_^)

Here's Teci logging off and hopefully doing all for the glory of God! :D

women of great faith [Enchanted version!]

NOTE: i'm only rewriting these lines as i remember them, as not even the Internet Movie Database has the exact lines. Oh well, there are just so many memorable lines anyway :D

"If you say nothing happened, then nothing happened." --- Nancy of New York

"Why do you keep on asking what I believe or how I feel? I just know he's coming; I know he is." --- Giselle of Andalasia

"I knew it was you."--- Giselle of Andalasia

December 17, 2007

If human in origin, it will fail. But if it is from God...

Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."

Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

Dawkins' Christian colleague talks back

Last updated at 13:32pm on 9th February 2007
The Daily Mail

He is a 'psychotic delinquent', invented by mad, deluded people. And that's one of Dawkins's milder criticisms.

Dawkins, Oxford University's Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, is on a crusade.

His salvo of outrage and ridicule is meant to rid the world of its greatest evil: religion. "If this book works as I intend," he says, "religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down." But he admits such a result is unlikely. "Dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads" (that's people who believe in God) are "immune to argument", he says.

I have known Dawkins for more than 20 years; we are both Oxford professors. I believe if anyone is "immune to argument" it is him. He comes across as a dogmatic, aggressive propagandist.

Of course, back in the Sixties, everyone who mattered was telling us that religion was dead. I was an atheist then. Growing up as a Protestant in Northern Ireland, I had come to believe religion was the cause of the Province's problems. While I loved studying the sciences at school, they were important for another reason: science disproved God. Believing in God was only for sad, mad and bad people who had yet to be enlightened by science.

I went up to Oxford to study the sciences in 1971, expecting my atheism to be consolidated. In the event, my world was turned upside down. I gave up one belief, atheism, and embraced another, Christianity. Why? There were many factors. For a start, I was alarmed by some atheist writings, which seemed more preoccupied with rubbishing religion than seeking the truth.

Above all, I encountered something at Oxford that I had failed to meet in Northern Ireland - articulate Christians who were able to challenge my atheism. I soon discovered two life-changing things.

First, Christianity made a lot of sense. It gave me a new way of seeing and understanding the world, above all, the natural sciences. Second, I discovered Christianity actually worked: it brought purpose and dignity to life.

I kept studying the sciences, picking up a PhD for research in molecular biophysics. But my heart and mind had been seduced by theology. It still excites me today.

Dawkins and I both love the sciences; we both believe in evidence-based reasoning. So how do we make sense of our different ways of looking at the world? That is one of the issues about which I have often wished we might have a proper discussion. Our paths do cross on the television networks and we even managed to spar briefly across a BBC sofa a few months back. We were also filmed having a debate for Dawkins's recent Channel 4 programme, The Root Of All Evil? Dawkins outlined his main criticisms of God, and I offered answers to what were clearly exaggerations and misunderstandings. It was hardly rocket science.

For instance, Dawkins often compares belief in God to an infantile belief in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, saying it is something we should all outgrow. But the analogy is flawed. How many people do you know who started to believe in Santa Claus in adulthood?

Many people discover God decades after they have ceased believing in the Tooth Fairy. Dawkins, of course, would just respond that people such as this are senile or mad, but that is not logical argument. Dawkins can no more 'prove' the non-existence of God than anyone else can prove He does exist.

Most of us are aware that we hold many beliefs we cannot prove to be true. It reminds us that we need to treat those who disagree with us with intellectual respect, rather than dismissing them - as Dawkins does - as liars, knaves and charlatans.

But when I debated these points with him, Dawkins seemed uncomfortable. I was not surprised to be told that my contribution was to be cut.

The Root Of All Evil? was subsequently panned for its blatant unfairness. Where, the critics asked, was a responsible, informed Christian response to Dawkins? The answer: on the cutting-room floor.

The God Delusion is similarly full of misunderstanding. Dawkins simply presents us with another dogmatic fundamentalism. Maybe that's why some of the fiercest attacks on The God Delusion are coming from other atheists, rather than religious believers. Michael Ruse, who describes himself as a 'hardline Darwinian' philosopher, confessed that The God Delusion made him 'embarrassed to be an atheist'.

The dogmatism of the work has attracted wide criticism from the secularist community. Many who might be expected to support Dawkins are trying to distance themselves from what they see as an embarrassment.

Aware of the moral obligation of a critic of religion to deal with this phenomenon at its best and most persuasive, many atheists have been disturbed by Dawkins's crude stereotypes and seemingly pathological hostility towards religion. In fact, The God Delusion might turn out to be a monumental own goal - persuading people that atheism is just as intolerant as the worst that religion can offer.

Alister McGrath is professor of theology at Oxford University. His new book The Dawkins Delusion?, co-authored by Joanna Collicutt McGrath, is published by SPCK at £7.99.

December 13, 2007

‘A Chicken Laid Our Bibles’

from Open Doors...

‘A Chicken Laid Our Bibles’

(This is a good story to illustrate Bible need. There are so many rural churches that are based on family units, and many of them are not linked into other house church movements. Thus, their need for Scriptures is still acute.)

To tell you about our chicken, I first must tell you about our church.

The church had only 22 members, and we were all relatives. The head of our family (my grandfather) once worked in the fields during the Cultural Revolution with a former pastor. The pastor had died there, and my grandfather became a Christian then because he would say, “I never saw a man die better.”

The rest of the commune abused this pastor. Every day he was beaten and forced into “struggle” meetings where 80 members of the commune screamed, “capitalist pig” and “foolish believer of myths.” But, according to my grandfather, “He would just smile serenely back at us.” Working alongside him in the fields gave my grandfather a chance to talk and share with the outcast.

In those days, people lived in dormitories. As my grandfather and the pastor were both single, they bunked together. The pastor would repeat Scripture to himself all day, and then at night sing himself to sleep with hymns, but quietly, so as not to disturb the others.

Eventually a bowel disease killed him, but the pastor sang as he died. “He never stopped singing,” my grandfather testified. Just before he expired, my grandfather saw a look of such excitement and joy on the face of the dying pastor, who said, “I am going somewhere so beautiful.” Then he died.

My grandfather was very impressed by this. He had been a soldier for Chiang Kai Shek (who fought against Mao Zedong) and had seen many men die. But none like this. As he went to sleep each night, it seemed as if the sound of hymn singing was coming from the lower bunk. He would look down and see it empty.

It wasn’t long before he trusted the Lord.

My grandfather had an amazing memory. When other members of his family came to join him in rural Gansu province, he taught us about Christ from the fragments of verses he learned from the pastor. We were very poor and lived in an isolated village. We drew our own water and ate only rice and vegetables, never meat. One man in the village owned chickens, but that was all.

In 1995, my grandfather gathered us all together in the open air (none of our houses were large enough for us all to fit in). He said he had bad news. “I have taught you of Christ for over 15 years from the memory of the pastor who died so I might have faith. But I have to tell you now; I have no more to teach you. I committed about 500 verses of the Scripture to memory from that pastor, and I have expounded each of them to you a hundred ways since then. It is time for us to find the rest of the sacred texts.”

We all looked at each other. This sounded impossible. We did not even know that what we were looking for was called a “Bible.” For all we knew, there may have been thousands of different scriptures. In fact, that’s what we assumed, since that’s what the Daoists have.

We said to him, “But who will find us these texts?”

He replied, “God will, so we must pray.”

We prayed … and prayed … and prayed. For two years we prayed. Nothing happened. But for the faith of my grandfather, I think some of us would have moved to another faith. He was firm: “God is testing us to see if we are really His. We must keep trusting, and keep faithful.”

One Sunday a few of us were praying and a chicken came into our house. She clucked and made a great noise, and then promptly laid an egg. We did not know where she had come from, as a few more of our villagers had chickens by then. So my grandfather tied some money to the leg of the chicken. It was only about 10 cents. The chicken strutted off with an injured air from the whole experience. We knew she would return to her owner.

Less than an hour later there was a loud cry on the street. Someone was yelling, “Who tied money to my chicken? Who tied money to my chicken?” The voice sounded angry, but my grandfather replied without hesitation, “It was me.”

The man came into our little house. We recognized him from the village, but a well-dressed man, who had soft hands and was very well groomed, followed him. He said in a cultured voice, “I am a high ranking member of the Communist party in Beijing.”

Our hearts sank. What was he going to do?

“I have never heard of such honesty in all my life,” he said. “This is astonishing. I have just come from Beijing to visit my brother after being betrayed and deceived. I lost lots of money.”

He turned to my grandfather and said, “My government desperately needs your spirit of scrupulous honesty. If only there were more like you in China. Tell me, what makes you so honest?”

My father answered him in two words: “Jesus Christ!”

The Communist official seemed to smile to himself and then asked, “Can I do anything for you?”

My grandfather, with the boldness of a long life, said, “We would like to find the sacred texts of Christ!”

The official looked at him, puzzled. “What do you mean ‘sacred texts’? Don’t you mean a Bible?”

It was the Communist official who told us what a Bible was.

Again the boldness of my grandfather staggered me. He asked the official, “Can you help us get a copy?”

The official smiled openly now. He made no promise, but merely said, “I will see what I can do.”

The official went back to Beijing, but nothing happened. Months went by. We continued to pray. Then in the fall of 1998 a young man appeared in the village asking for us. We welcomed him. He pulled out from his totebag seven brand new Bibles. One was in large print for my grandfather, and the rest were small, which we could read, although slowly, for we were not very educated.

We asked him, “How did you know to come here to us?”

He said, “I am part of a network of house churches, and one of our leaders was arrested in Beijing last year. But while he was in jail, he was visited by a high ranking public official, who was the uncle of the policeman who was holding him. The official said, “If I let you go, will you promise to deliver a Bible to an old man and his family in Gansu?” Our leader said he would see to it. The next day he was released, and given a piece of paper with my grandfather’s address on it.

That’s why we say, “A chicken laid our Bibles!"

December 12, 2007

Followers of Christ! Where are you?

It's a wonder i haven't posted this before.  :)

by Switchfoot

Welcome to the planet 
Welcome to existence 
Everyone's here 
Everyone's here 
Everybody's watching you now 
Everybody waits for you now 
What happens next? 
What happens next? 

I dare you to move 
I dare you to move 
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor 
I dare you to move 
I dare you to move 
Like today never happened 
Today never happened before 

Welcome to the fallout  
Welcome to resistance 
The tension is here 
The tension is here 
Between who you are and who you could be 
Between how it is and how it should be 

I dare you to move 
I dare you to move 
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor  
I dare you to move 
I dare you to move 
Like today never happened 
Today never happened 

Maybe redemption has stories to tell 
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell 
Where can you run to escape from yourself?  
Where you gonna go? 
Where you gonna go? 
Salvation is here 

I dare you to move 
I dare you to move 
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor 
I dare you to move 
I dare you to move 
Like today never happened  
Today never happened 
Today never happened 
Today never happened before

when redundancy is a good thing... :)

Dear God,

i love You :)

And it is always an honor to serve You. :)

December 6, 2007

Some Questions for Evolutionists and/or Atheists

1. In 2004, the Dawkins Prize – awarded for "outstanding research into the ecology and behaviour of animals whose welfare and survival may be endangered by human activities"[14] – was initiated by Oxford's Balliol College.

For evolutionists, and people who adhere to survival of the fittest: why take care of these animals? Why protect the unfit? The weak die, the strong survive, right? Doesn't this directly contradict your beliefs?

2. Christians and other theists are criticized for a belief in a Creator-God. After all, we did not see Him create the universe. Why be dogmatic of things you've never seen and cannot prove?

Atheists: you did not see the universe pop up randomly, or one species evolve into a different one. Why be dogmatic of things you've never seen and cannot prove?

3. The genotypic (internal) and phenotypic (external) characteristics of life imply common ancestor/s. Implying, one evolved into another. This is evolution.
The genotypic (internal) and phenotypic (external) characteristics of life imply common creator/s. Implying, all created together. This is creation.

One atheist professor of mine quipped, "Same data, different conclusions." Can we not agree that creation / intelligent design is as valid and as possible as evolution? :)
Christian Apologetics, Logic and Debate!

Christian Apologetics, Logic in Religious Debate, Christianity vs. Atheism. Just how real is God?

NYC doubles funding for Museum of Biblical Art :)


New York — The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) has awarded a grant of $160,000 to The Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA), doubling its support. MOBIA was selected after a rigorous application process in which over 1,000 cultural organizations competed. The six-figure sum, to be granted over a two-year period, is a dramatic increase. Last year, the DCA awarded MOBIA $6,000 and, in August 2007 announced a one-year award of $80,000, which has now been doubled.

"We are proud to have been selected for multi-year support from the DCA and thus recognized as a promising young institution in the cultural life of our City," said Dr. Ena Heller, MOBIA's Executive Director.

The DCA grant will be applied towards upcoming exhibitions and a broad array of activities. Council Member Gale Brewer commented: "I am pleased that the Museum of Biblical Art with its interesting exhibits will receive substantial City support over the next two fiscal years through the Department of Cultural Affairs. I know that local residents will enjoy the Museum and take part in the dialogue it fosters with its engaging exhibits."

MOBIA provides exhibitions, tours, lectures, concerts, panel discussions and other events for the general public and scholars, as well as special programs for children and families. Suggested admission to MOBIA is $7.00.

MOBIA is located at 1865 Broadway at 61st Street , near Columbus Circle and Lincoln Center. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm; Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm; and Monday, closed. For more information call (212) 408-1500 or visit

December 5, 2007

Christians and male prostitutes

A glimpse into the world of male prostitution.

The Golden Compass from the view of a Christian fantasy writer

Very insightful, gracious post here from Jeffrey Overstreet.  :)

Thanks to Christianity Today for the heads up. :)

Conspiracy of the Season :)

from ThinkChristian.Net :)


Found an article this morning on Ethics Daily about the Advent Conspiracy .
Sounds mysterious.
"We celebrate Jesus' birthday by giving ourselves presents," McKinley says. "We don't give him anything." McKinley is pastor of the Imago Dei Community…
[Last year] McKinley and a few pastor friends from around the country hatched what they called the Advent Conspiracy. They challenged their congregations: Spend less on Christmas, give relational gifts and donate the money saved to the poor."
Three congregations collected $430,000—Imago Dei collected $110,000 on a single Sunday—and gave most of that to Living Water International, a nonprofit project that digs wells in the Third World…
This year, about 491 churches from 10 nations have joined the conspiracy…World Relief, an evangelical mission group, has recruited 500 more churches to participate. About 1,700 individuals have joined on the Internet
And the obvious benefit:

And there was another gift that neither Blakeman nor McKinley anticipated. Families spend more time together as they plan and make gifts. It all becomes relational if people resist consumerism.
"We're not asking that you don't spend money on Christmas," McKinley says, "just that you do it with the poor in mind."
I'm seriously considering joining the conspiracy.
Anyone attend a church that's participating in the Advent Conspiracy? Anybody wish they could get their family to agree to this?
HT: A Guy In The Pew

More Americans believe in devil than in Darwin



Yep, according to a new Harris poll, 62 percent of U.S. residents believe in a literal hell and the devil compared to only 42 percent who believe in Darwin's theory of evolution. (I've always argued that it requires much more faith to believe incredibly complex life simply evolved than to believe in a Creator.)
The poll of 2,455 U.S. adults, also reported that 82 percent believe in God, 79 percent believe in miracles, 75 percent in heaven, and 72 percent believe that Jesus Christ is God or the Son of God.
It's an interesting poll, but begs the apostle James' warning, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." What we do with our beliefs is as important as what we believe.