Friday, March 28, 2008

Reformed Theological Seminary has put a large number of recorded lectures online. They're available free at iTunes. You can check them out at

The 'courses' include;
1. 'The history of philosophy and Christian thought - by John Frame
2. A set of lectures (27?) on C.S. Lewis
3. Many others

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why The Demand For Crucifixion? - an online essay by Arthur Custance

As devotional reading for Easter week I would recommend not only this chapter (29.) from his book 'Seed of the woman' but all of part IV (The triumph over death)

Quotes and comments;

Page 12. 'Certainly in early Christian times, the cruciform as we now know it, was not commonly used as a symbol among Christians. In fact, during the first few centuries there is actually no evidence that it was used at all.

Page 13. "We have grown so used to the idea that the crucifixion is the supreme symbol of Christianity that it is a shock to realize how late in the history of Christian art its power was recognized. In the first Art of Christianity it hardly appears; and the earliest example on the doors of Santa Sabina (425 A.D.) in Rome is stuck away in a corner almost out of sight. . . . Early Christian art is concerned with miracles, healings, and with hopeful aspects of the faith like the Ascension and Resurrection.'' - Kenneth Clark

1. The late Arthur Custance is one of my favorite writers. I find him the one most helpful in explaining Christianity. I think the reason for this is simple; he's not just trying to relate something he was taught, but was trying hard to understand things... and to then to make them clear to others. I've read most of his books now, and recommend them all. (NOt that I agree with all he had to say.) I only wish there were more than a couple left I haven't read.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Theologies of nature - audio lecture by Ernan McMullin (online at Faraday Institute)

Quotes and comments;

1. McMullin tells us 'most' biblical scholars would say there was no idea in the Old Testament of creation ex nihilo.
- How people can such things I have no idea. ''god said let there be light and there was light" etc. ''God created all things by the word of his Mouth'' etc. (How many references do you need?)

2. M. tells us creation from nothing is alien to the bible. (I guess this is the price you pay for a humanist education; you become a goof ball.)

3. This 'teacher of the church' tells us; "oh yes, the beginning verses of the bible might indicate this but new translations (i.e. paraphrases) of today tell us water was there before god said let there be light."
- That's a lie of course; meant only to defend his humanist views. The creator is no 'Jewish' invention dear sir.

4. M. is an elderly man, and he obviously never got over the higher critics. He wants to seperate out the 'Jews' from the rest of the bible. i.e. from the people of god who went before. He he wants to pretend Genesis was a speculative production that sprang from the forehead of moses because of dehydration. This is drearily old hat; i.e. utterly disproved. I can only say I agree with people who say Genesis is an edited version of ancient texts that were the inheritance of the line of Seth and go back to Adam. (The book of Job, written well before Moses, clearly has all the elements of Genesis in it.)

5. M. is another of these people who claim the Greeks knew nothing of a creator. (Professors who never got over their indoctrination into higher criticism.)

6. He's another guy who doesn't define 'religion.'

7. Unless I missed something, he's suggesting Plato dreamt up the idea of the Demiurge and the forms. I find this absurd; this is clearly a secularized version of biblical teaching. (i.e. the knowledge of god and creation handed down from Adam to Noah, etc.) Plato stole his ideas from the biblical tradition. (In ancient times, in the pagan world, this was considered fair play... as everyone did it; i.e. you Never gave credit to your sources if you could help it.)

8. When Aristotle said there is a 'form' for sea urchin etc., he was just stealing the idea of biblical Christianity; i.e. that all 'kinds' had been created perfect in the beginning. (What is a 'form' but a perfect model of the creatures we see in the fallen world.) This is plagiarism in my view.

9. Aristotle talks about teleology...
- but what is this but the idea the world was made as a home for man; ie. things exist, in a general sense, for the sake of man... this is the heart of the biblical message and Aristotle's view is but a secularized version of this.

11. M. wants to distinguish between 'ends' and 'purposes.' I'm not sure how that works :=) Apparently 'ends' are not conscious intentions. (But this leaves out a personal Creator.) But really an 'end' has no meaning apart from persons. It's foolish to say a stone has an end. He's confusing the personal and the impersonal.

12. M. wants to claim Aristotle was the first and the greatest biologist. (a man who didn't know how many teeth women had :=) But again he's given the Greeks credit for a thing that only involved copying, imitating, what the earlier ancients had done; most notably the court of Solomon. Creating collections of animals for study was a very old idea when Aristotle engaged in it. (Read your bible carefully; study earlier history from other cultures.) One of the oldest writings we have; the book of Job, is replete with detailed information about animals. (Why Christian libs can't find it in their heart to give a molecule of credit to the bible is beyond me.)

13. a question I find interesting is 'why did the Greeks have so many different philosophies. I haven't seen anything written on this; but my view is that they were 'seed pickers.' i.e. they had a smorgasbord approach to ideas... that they collected them from all over the known world... not having any worldview of their own. (i.e. after having abandoned the revealed word of scripture that they had known in the early days after the flood from Noah or his immediate descendents.

14. M. talks over and over about the 'Jewish view of creation.'
- Well dear professor; there is no such thing. The view of creation we have in the bible is the word of God, not the word of man. It's not 'jewish' in any way, shape or form. Genesis was not given to 'jews' but to Adam. Adam is the father of all men; not only the father of the jews. It's heresy to say genesis is an invention of desert wandering semites. Biblical creation is in NO way a cultural artifact. This is the heresy and the idiocy of the higher critics. All of true christianity depends on taking Genesis at its word; ie. as the word of the creator god. Prof McMullin apparently can't accept this.

15. From an orthodox position he makes a grievous error when he equates 'jewish tradition' (e.g. Philo) with scripture.... this is pure humanism; i.e. a denial of special revelation. (This is how radically debased catholic teaching has become... and of course lib protestantism is no better.)

16. He's friendly to Augustine's idea god sort of 'seeded' creation... and that these 'seeds' developed as environmental conditions became favorable.... There is no transformism in Aristotle (i.e. the seeds give 'birth' to the kinds.)

17. Q+A;
- in answer to a question, M. says; ''I don't think there is any evidence of the idea of c. ex nihilo from the new testament. (How can he say this? and more importantly why? what idea is he defending?) He tells us 'the idea of creation ex nihilo didn't interest the early christians and doesn't occur to them.' Huh? M. wants us to believe this idea only came up centuries after Christ. This is a universe away from biblical theology.

18. As I understand it, his denial of creation ex nihilo is meant to say that evil stems from the nature of matter. If so, this is heresy. One would like to ask McMullin where this 'matter' comes from? (Apparently it severely limited God; and was all he could find to work with :=)

1. Augustine's idea (#16) of a 'seeded' creation sounds a bit like the novel 'Wave' from Walter Mosley. I have it but the first few pages turned me off; eg. telephone sex, etc. racist arsonist, etc. I read sf for the ideas, not for the teenage titillation.
2. - this is so sad for me to listen to; no wonder we are mocked. As one of his questioners after the lecture says, "the bible says god exists before all things.'' His answer makes one want to weep. He starts to stutter badly.... and after a long pause says; "I suppose that would suggest Creation ex nihilo." Gee; no kidding.
3. I thought this was a very poor lecture; I'd give it a 1/5.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Life of Brian;

A Life in science - audio lecture by Sir Brian Heap (online at the Faraday Institute)

Quotes and comments;

1. Heap (an evolutionist) tells a joke about a preacher ''oh Lord, don't let evolution be true... but if it is, don't let it be widely known.''
- I guess that about sums up the Faraday kind of thinking. You obviously don't get ahead in British society if you dare to deny the English saint called Darwin :=)
- Heap is one of those people who say; 'because there is no conflict between 'science' and 'religion' there can't be any conflict between Christianity and Darwinism. There's only one problem; evolution isn't science, it's philosophy. Evolutionism (an invention of Greek philosophy) is more than two millennia old. To call it scientific is as ridiculous as calling Christianity scientific. The idea of evolution is philosophical speculation; i.e. about the ultimate nature of reality.

2. Heap says 'the Templeton foundation has come out against the idea of intelligent design... at least in terms of how it's presented by the Discovery Institute.' (Never mind ICR :=)
I find it hilarious that the discovery institute can be categorized as some wild eyed Americans. The Brits love to portray Americans as irrational enthusiasts.
- I'd long been puzzled at this hostility to any idea of creation or of design (not to mention the total lack of a critique about evolution.) but this clears things up; the Faraday institute is against design because of money. (Heap admits that it's a policy of the board.)

3. I did appreciate the fact in the Q+A someone did admit that attendence in the English church is in serious decline. What makes this so extraordinary is that this is a taboo; you're not supposed to ever mention this. (i.e. in 'high church' circles) If you listen to Faraday lectures you'd have NO idea what utter horror certain sections of London (and other British cities) are... of the grotesque underclass, of the endemic crime, of the Islamic terrorist crowd, etc. Reality is never allowed in the window of the Faraday lecture class. They present a fantasy world; society as lecture room... as academic retreat from the ugly realities of the society. (But then again; who needs parishioners if you have a multi billionaire financing you.) The fellow says; 'we have such a hard time attracting the bright person....' Well the fact is the problem they have is attracting the soccer hooligan; the local barmaid, the average bloke. That's whose abandoned the church of england. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

1. I have no problem with them having this policy. (I am disappointed by their refusal to engage with creationists. The bible clearly commands Christians to go to a brother if they have a dispute with him; but apparently they don't feel the need to respond to such commands.)
2. I'm not claiming the people connected with the Institute are only pretending to be evolutionists. I don't think that's the case at all.
3. I'm not claiming there isn't some value in what the Faraday Institute is doing.
4. Of course our socialist universities ignore the public just as much as groups like this do.
5. I don't especially recommend the talk; I thought it was mainly interesting for what it revealed about the policies of the Faraday Institute.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

From Darwin to Hitler - video lecture by Richard Weikart (Available online from UCTV)

Quotes and comments;

1. Summary from webpage; ''In his book, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (2004), Richard Weikart explains the revolutionary impact Darwinism had on ethics and morality. Darwinism played a key role in the rise not only of eugenics (a movement wanting to control human reproduction to improve the human species), but also on euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination. This was especially important in Germany, since Hitler built his view of ethics on Darwinian principles.'

2. 'German eugenicists were in the forefront of talking about evolutionary ethics. The fear they had was that modern medicine was interfering with natural selection....' ie. allowing the unfit to survive and breed. The fear Dalton and others has was the 'degeneration' of the human race.
- I always think of H.P. Lovecraft in this regard; his fiction was heavily influenced by this kind of thinking. Today he's widely rebuked, even by his fans; but few seem to go into the background of his ideas, or to given any credit to darwinism.

3. W. quotes some doctor as saying the defective are useless, that they're a burden, that they're a negative value...'
- But this only makes sense if the human race itself has a value... and in terms of materialist evolution (darwinism) it doesn't. So this claim is irrational; ie. a child can't be a 'negative value' if the race itself has no value.

4. W. mentions a eugenics poster 'the threat of the subhuman' that would be placed at places like fairgrounds.

1. In a foreword to a recent reissue of 'Mountains of Madness' one of Lovecraft's most famous works, the fantasy writer China Mieville rebukes Lovecraft for his racism, but doesn't go into the background of it.
2. This is an important lecture; one that needs to be heard by everyone.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Medieval Synthesis - audio lecture by Keith Ward (available online at Gresham college)

Quotes and comments;

1. In this part of his series on how philosophy is related to 'religion' Ward discusses the attempt by Aquinas to integrate the ideas of Aristotle into christian theology.

2. Ward tells us Aristotle lived 400 years before Christ and so had no knowledge of the 'Hebrew' faith.
- I cannot understand why our learned scholars believe this old canard. The Greeks knew all about Egyptian religion, etc. They travelled widely and were always on the look out for religious ideas, yet people like Ward (Peter Kreeft, etc.) insist they knew nothing about the 'hebrew' faith. This is silliness on stilts. (It stems from the Humanist rejection of Genesis; and an argument from silence.) The Jews of this time were also great travellers and traders. The idea the greeks knew nothing of what we now know of as the bible is impossible for me to believe. The greeks were descendents of Noah (or the sons of noah if you prefer) so they knew all about the revealed word. I can't believe people are so silly as to claim the Greeks knew nothing of Solomon. Do they really want to claim such a thing? (The vaunted scholarship of the higher critics is really utterly bankrupt; they've been proved wrong so many times it's a wonder they have a single follower left. Ward is apparently that man. All these obsolete ideas are based on the ideas (fantasies) of scholars who lived almost 200 years ago. I wonder when the christian 'liberals' will join the modern world. Don't these people study modern archeology at all? The last several decades have showed that the old ideas are utterly wrong; that 'ancient' man travelled far more widely and extensively than the hired critics ever imagined. Did Aristotle know the scriptures? Of course he did. Jewish trading centers dotted the greek world. Are we to believe the (seed picking) Greeks never inquired into what they knew? In the ancient world people were books; men went to them as we would to a library. ''What do you know? what do you believe about x and y" were the questions of the day whenever a newcomer come to town.
- Are we supposed to believe none of the 'pagan' libraries Greek scholars were so familiar with had no copies of the 'Jewish' scriptures? Are we to believe the Greeks had never read the book of Job? (The most famous book of the ancient world?) give me a break.

3. Ward tells us Aristotle's view of god was not based on revelation.
- Well; one wonders how Ward knows this. He claims it is all abstract philosophical. Well, whether this is true or not; it is not the christian view. Ward is ignoring the revelation of the creation, and the revelation of the image of god within, and the special revelation I outlined above. (It's always a mystery to me why liberals like Ward always try so desperately to make non-christians look good... and do their best to villify true christian scholars.)

4. On the one hand Ward tells us that science must be based on observation, but then he tells us he believes in the big bang! That makes no sense to me. No one observed the big bang. The big bang isn't descriptive science; it's theoretical science.

5. Ward speaks of E.O. Wilson who 'hopes' all of human thought (etc.) can be reduced to physics. - Hope? matter doesn't hope dear professor. The fact you have hopes is all the evidence you need that Materialism is a fallacious world view.

1. The obvious objection to what I've said is this; 'there doesn't appear to be any proof the ancient Greeks knew about the 'Hebrew bible.' I take that critique seriously, but I don't find it convincing. Aristotle himself had so called 'esoteric' teachings that were available only a certain insider group. In other words truly valuable teachings were withheld from the public, kept private. In our day it seems strange to withhold ideas from the general public, but this was common in the ancient world. If you had some idea (invention, etc.) you kept it to yourself. (eg. the technique of silk production, certain dyes, etc.) I believe the 'Hebrew scriptures' were one such item. As an aside, archaeologists have found an analog computer from Greek times. Why only one? I can think of a couple of reasons; 1. there was no mass production as we know it. 2. this technology was deemed so valuable it was being kept secret.
2. The bible in Genesis; the so called 'table of the nations' claims that all nations were descended from Noah and his sons.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Biology, the Anthropic Principle and Natural Theology - audio lecture by Alister McGrath (online at Faraday Institute)

Quotes and comments;

1. McGrath starts out by defining some terms; one of which is religion. 'The latin word religio means something that binds people together...'
- I've argued in the past for dumping the word religion, and replacing it with world view (wview) or belief system. If the definition he gives were an agreed upon one things wouldn't be so bad. As it is now the word religion has no real meaning at all.

2. McGrath talks of the many examples of fine tuning... and mentions a Bob Williams? in this respect, who said "I'm not a religious man (oh yes you are Bob) but there's something bloody odd going on here."
- It seems clear to me that the idea of a 'multiverse' is a reaction (response) to this whole subject of fine tuning. ie. it's an admission that the fine tuning argument (ie. anthropic principle...) has weight, has a sting. In fact the idea is so powerful that the bizarre idea of many, if not infinite universes has to be dreamed up to cope with it The more extreme the response the stronger the evidence one might say.

3. If I understand McGrath, he's saying, 'yes, evolution is true... but it's not random. It only works because the universe has been fine tuned to make it work...''
- M. is one of those Christians who try to mix Christianity with evolution theory. I don't think these attempts work. In any event the kind of creation doctrine that results is about as exciting as stale toast.

1. The idea of a multiverse is popular in current SF writing. An example I read recently was 'Savant Songs' by Brenda Coppoer.
2. Actually it's not surprising McGrath espouses evolution, as several decades ago the State made it illegal to critique Darwinism in England. (What? you say that's only a rumor? I don't know old chap.... it certainly does seem to 'resonate' as M. puts it :=)