Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
I emailed this letter to Wiltshire Council. The deadline for responses is 22 September. Send yours to: Developmentmanagement@wiltshire.gov.uk or see here for the Wiltshire Council planning application page.
Westbury Incinerator planning number 20/06775/WCM
Tuesday, September 08, 2020
Sunday, September 06, 2020
Thursday, September 03, 2020
Tuesday, September 01, 2020
But it's been ages since I checked to see whether any comments were awaiting moderation. When I did think to check the other day there were quite a few for me to look at. There were a several in Arabic. Seemed to my untrained eye like exactly the same comment on several different posts. Exotic spam, probably.
Then there were the typo/error alert comments. A number of those, oddly enough. John Blanchard's Gathered Gold had become Gathered God. Not a Freudian slip, I hope. Embarrassingly, in one post I missed the 'l' from public. I do read through the stuff I write here before posting, honest. This blog has always been plagued by typos. And readers have always enjoyed pointing them out. Glad to be of service. Pedants.
Much to my surprise Robert Letham left a few comments. Evidently he had been reading my Plague Journals, which featured updates on my progress in reading his Systematic Theology. As well as 'I read from page ? to page ?? in the last week' kind of thing, I would also do a bit of a running review. You will find his comments at the foot of Plague Journal: Weeks 11-13.
I've now finished Letham's ST, and very good it is too. A review has been submitted to the Banner of Truth Magazine. You'll have to wait until its published there until I post my impressions on the blog. All I'll say for now is that it was one of the best STs I've read. Although, as a Reformed Baptist I didn't always agree with his stance on covenant theology, baptism and the church.
Sorry if I've neglected you if you've been kind enough to comment. The typos/errors highlighted have now been duly corrected.
Maybe the golden age of blog comments isn't quite over yet. I just need to remember to check to see if there's anything awaiting moderation more frequently.
Sunday, August 30, 2020
Monday, August 24, 2020
I forgot to review this book when I read it sometime last year. Not sure why it slipped through the net. I think I quoted from it in a sermon shortly after reading it and a member of the congregation expressed an interest, so I lent it to them. When they returned the book the moment had passed and I simply popped it on a bookshelf, unreviewed.
I bought the title having watched a discussion between John Lennox and Peter Atkins chaired by Justin Brierley on Premier Radio. Here it is. Lennox came to my attention more recently when I noted that he's one of the speakers on Sing! Global, hosted by the Gettys. On seeing a promo clip I was pretty sure I'd read one of Lennox's books and tried searching my blog for the review to see what I thought about it. Nothing. The one that got away.
So, here's a review of a book I only vaguely remember reading and haven't gone to the trouble of re-reading, just a brief skim through. In my sermon I believe I quoted the bit where Lennox recalls a conversation he had with a senior academic when he was a student. The professor told him that if he wanted to get on in the scientific world he would have to abandon his Christian faith. Lennox responded that atheism had nothing better to offer than his faith, so he would maintain his beliefs.
Some people like to suggest that scientists observe the world with chilly detachment. From their Olympian heights they hand down definitive explanations of how the universe originated and operates. The explanations proceed on the basis of physical laws of cause and effect. Everything can be accounted for on that level. Even if some stuff can't be scientifically explained at the moment, one day it will. God doesn't get a look in. The Bible, a book of primitive mythology has nothing to say to the world of science, which is based on observation and reason, not faith.
And what about Galileo? He turns up in chapter 1, Can you be a scientist and believe in God? Hint, yes. Science certainly offers explanations of how the material universe works that are cogent on one level, but meaning and purpose in the universe isn't exhausted once the equations have been reeled out. Lennox uses the illustration of a boiling kettle. At a scientific level the water is boiling because the electrical element in the kettle has heated the H20 to 100°c. That's good as far as it goes, but it would also be perfectly correct to say that the kettle is boiling because I fancy a cup of tea. To say that only scientific explanations count is reductionist 'nothing buttery'. (Not to be confused with Utterly Buttery).
The Bible may not deal in scientific theories, but its message reveals the purpose of life; that human beings were made to know, love and glorify their Creator. By way of contrast, Richard Dawkins views the world as devoid of ultimate purpose, seeing only "blind, pitiless indifference". If that's all atheists have to offer, no wonder Lennox couldn't be persuaded to abandon his faith in God.
Science has done a wonderful job in discovering the presence of natural laws such as gravitational force, but it cannot explain why those laws exist or how it is that we are able to understand their workings. Lennox exposes the logical flaw in Stephen Hawkin's argument that, "Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing." (p. 37). So, because there is something (gravity), the universe must have created itself from nothing? OK. And anyway, laws do not create, they simply describe how created stuff operates.
Self-creation is self-contradictory. But if God made everything, who made God? Lennox addresses that one too. God is by definition outside of the world of material causation. He is an infinite and eternal being, without beginning or end. Science depends on the universe working in orderly and predictable ways and assumes that human beings are able to decipher the laws of nature, That makes perfect sense if God created the world in his wisdom and to display his goodness. That we are able to make sense of things also makes sense if we were created in the image of God. Which is why the scientific method arose in a context where the Christian faith was the prevailing worldview. The scientific method in itself gives no rationale for the scientific method.
Yes, but what about the scientific claim that the universe is 13.8 billion years old, rather than a mere thousands of years old as the Book of Genesis seems to claim. Lennox distances himself from 6 x 24 hour creationists, saying that their view is a 'particular interpretation' of Genesis 1, one that he doesn't hold to himself. He advances a 'gap theory' position, which isn't especially convincing either. I'll return to the length of the creation days in my forthcoming review of Interpreting Eden, by Vern Poythress.
Anyway, the Christian belief isn't ultimately a worldview that is worth holding to because of its explanatory power. The faith is founded upon the historic claim that in Jesus God became man to die for our sins on the cross and that he rose bodily from the grave. As the author shows in chapter 8, if that claim isn't true, Christianity can be disproved and dismissed as false. But it is true and the New Testament provides compelling evidence for us to believe that Jesus lives.
Here's where it gets personal. We must believe in order to understand. By faith in Jesus we are reconciled to God, experience the forgiveness of sin and know the hope of everlasting life. Science can't explain everything. The ultimate purpose of life is disclosed in Christ, though whom and for whom God created all things.
People who have fallen for the oft-repeated claim that 'science has disproved God' would do well to give this book a read. Christians studying the natural sciences in an atheistic environment will find reassurance here that their their faith is not incompatible with science. In writing Can Science Explain Everything? John Lennox has provided a handy apologetic tool that will enable believers to give a reason for their hope in a sceptical age.
There. done it.