I think we have all seen how exorcisms are portrayed on television and in other media. Typically, there are two priests, and lots of holy water, screaming, and projectile vomiting. Have you ever wondered how these situations compare to the exorcisms that Jesus performed in the New Testament? Was Christ splashing holy water onto people in order to cast out demons? Reading from scripture? I don't think so. Perhaps we should take some time and examine why there is such a radical difference between how we perceive exorcism, and how it was actually performed by Christ.
Do our minds deceive us into believing in God? Do we fool ourselves into thinking we see the divine when really there is only nature? Are our mental faculties programmed to infer intelligence exists in places where it ultimately does not exist? These are arguments made on the basis of a concept called agent detection, a supposed evolutionary trait designed to help us to survive in the wild. The idea is that by examining a situation, like rustling in some bushes, we may be able to avoid danger if we are able to quickly distinguish intelligence involved, like a tiger waiting in those same bushes. So let's examine this concept, and its impact on faith.
The Kalam cosmological argument is one of the most popular Christian apologetic resources, and has been so for quite some time. The argument is fairly straightforward: (i) Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence, (ii) The universe began to exist, and (iii) Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence. The first two premises have to be accepted, in order to arrive at the third statement, or conclusion. In quantum physics, there is some questions about the first two premises, due to theories like Quantum Field Theory and the No Boundaries Theory. I believe that even if the first two premises of the Kalam argument are proven false, the conclusion is still necessary. Ultimately, quantum physics will have no impact on the Christian worldview.
The emergence of life from dead matter, or abiogenesis, is the the generally accepted reality derived from the concept of evolution. There are many questions surrounding the details of this process and many theories have been proposed over the years. Indeed, it is up to science to determine how this process may have occurred, however, it is up to philosophy to determine the why. Was this a chance occurrence, or was it by design?
If God is able to use our actions to produce a desired outcome, do we really have free will? If mankind is unable to resist sin, do we have free will? Does the existence of an all-knowing God imply that we have no free will? This group of questions came to me after finishing the story of Joseph at the end of the book of Genesis and I think they are an appropriate set of questions given Joseph's statement to his brothers at the end of the story.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient Sumerian tale regarding a heroic protagonist that goes on a tremendous journey. Along the way, he meets a person who was divinely chosen to survive a massive flood on a boat which he had built himself. Sound familiar? Of course it does, this portion of the Sumerian story is remarkably similar to the story of Noah. In fact, there are a great number of similarities between stories found on Sumerian tablets and Genesis. This is commonly used to discredit the Bible itself, with the claim being that Genesis is simply a plagiarized version of older creation stories. The question I want to ask is, should we really be surprised by this?
The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau. Was Isaac truly fooled by Jacob on his deathbed, or does this narrative from Genesis 27 convey a deeper meaning regarding the nature of the world? There are many lessons to be learned from the story of the rival sons of Isaac, but I wanted to focus in on this particular scene, where Isaac seemingly blesses Jacob by mistake, to investigate the possibility of a deeper meaning in the text. Of course, in order to get to the end, we must start at the beginning.
Humanity has had many opinions about the earth’s role in the universe throughout our brief history. Only recently in our history have we even understood that there was much more to the universe than earth, that we might be able to travel beyond earth. For many centuries we thought that the earth was the center of the universe, but the Copernican Principle taught us that the appears to rotate around our sun just as the other planets within our solar system do, and that the earth is not particularly special within the universe. This seems to fly in the face of the Judeo-Christian idea that the universe was created for humanity. If we don’t exist within a special place in the universe, how could the universe be “for us”?
Any Christian that chooses to adopt the idea of an earth which is older than the direct numbers presented in the Bible, roughly six thousand years, will need to account for several things, one of which is the fact that it would be difficult to accept a claim which agrees with the estimated age of raw materials, rocks, water, etc, but does not agree with the estimated age of human remains. This is, of course, resolved if one accepts the idea of divinely controlled evolution, but that too comes with its own set of challenges. Those challenges are what I would like to focus on right now. Can evolution and Adam be reconciled?
This is an important question to address as we examine the possibility of a local flood. Why save Noah if others could survive? Why not have Noah leave the area? Why build a boat? Why save the animals? Noah could have just left the region with his family, cattle, and belongings. Doesn't this prove that the flood must have been global?