Faithful to Science

blog on science and religion

Tag: religion (page 1 of 3)

Religion is a Fourier Transform

Fourteen statements to help people see what religion is or can be

If you just want to see the fourteen statements, click here, otherwise, read on.

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Secularism is not atheism

The word “secular” refers to an important principle, but it is one that is widely misunderstood, and the word is used in two very different (almost opposite) ways, which leads to confusion. This touches mostly on politics and governance, but it connects also to science and many other human endeavours.

In the following I will first outline two ideas which I will call simply P and x. Then I will discuss the meaning of the word “secular”, and the fact that we need to develop better ways of speaking clearly.

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Metaphor and absolute reality

Last term I was privileged to be invited to give a sermon in Exeter College chapel here in Oxford. Here I am posting an extract from that sermon, with minor modifications to fit it to the blog format.

I began by talking about the fact that we all find it hard to know how to talk about God. Two ways which don’t work are as follows. First there is a rather obviously muddled way, in which people talk about something that has the appearance of being like other entities, only bigger and more powerful, located somewhere called ‘heaven’. Secondly there is an attempt to be more careful, but which often fails to carry real weight. This is when people speak in a more philosophical way, bringing in terms such as ‘omniscience’ and ‘omnipotence’, but all held at arm’s length, so that it all seems a bit artificial, like a word-game.

(the extract begins here)

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Rock, Launch-pad, Loam: Three Models of the Bible

The Bible is recognized by very many people as the most important written text in existence, the “greatest treasure this world affords” as it says in the coronation service for English monarchs. But this does not mean all these people come to the same conclusions from what they read. This is because there is more than one way of understanding how to learn from the Bible. I will describe this in terms of three metaphors, and, as an illustration, apply them to the consideration of same-sex marriage.

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Demonizing religion

The attitude I am promoting in this blog is to admit that what passes for “religion” in the world is a mixed bag, some of it bad, terrible; some of it good, wonderful. It runs to both extremes (and so does atheism). I have also offered other words as a help to get at what “religion” is meant to be about. I have offered the word “reconnection”, for example, which I got from Brian McLaren’s helpful book, “Naked Spirituality”. My own favourite word for it is “recognition”. You can see a longer definition on the Home page of this blog.

In this post I want to comment on the practice of demonizing religion. To “demonize” is to portray as wicked or threatening, and the term is especially appropriate when this is done thoughtlessly or automatically, as if it is an agreed thing.

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A lesson of scripture in the interests of peace

Events in Syria and Europe have made me decide to postpone some other thoughts and instead comment on something at the heart of Islam. This overlaps with a Christian issue, and it needs careful handling, so this is a long post (almost 3000 words). I hope readers will give it a fair hearing.

This blog is not a commentary on political and religious affairs in general. It is about science and religion. However, now more than ever, we need accurate thought about what will help, in the long term, to overcome religious violence, and therefore I am posting here some relevant material. I will be discussing the way we approach the Bible and the Qur’an.

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Talking about faith and science

This post is mainly to announce that I have now added a further talk to the resources section. You can find it here:

http://grievingturtle.com/resources/talks/faith-and-science-hbc-oxford-0915/

Here is an extract from the talk:

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Education and violence

Image from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/06/refugees-welcome-oxfordshire-town-grapples-with-how-to-respond

I had some other material prepared for the blog this week, but it seemed appropriate to address something on many of our minds at the moment.

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Mathematics is not as much about finding proofs as it is about finding concepts

Added note. This is a note added for readers in the Oxford area.

I am giving a lecture at Headington Baptist Church on 12 September. Doors open at 7:30pm; talk from 8:00pm, with questions and discussion afterwards. The subject is basically the theme of this blog and my book of the same name. The venue is the church building at 78 Old High Street, Headington, Oxford OX3 9HW; click here for a map.


 

Reading New Scientist magazine this week I came across a statement I very much like:

 “Mathematics is not as much about finding proofs as it is about finding concepts.”

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Ecology and global warming

This week I decided to write something about ecology and global warming. I don’t have anything particularly clever or original to say, but this issue has to be part of what we all keep before our consciousness, because it is one of the most significant issues, perhaps the greatest social issue, of our time. By ecology I mean here a group of issues surrounding environmental wisdom and its opposite (which so often results in environmental devastation), species extinction, over-population, and the like. Global warming is, of course, about planet-wide climate, and the social upheaval that will result if climate change continues to grow.

I am not going to write an essay here, but instead offer a list of points that I find myself thinking on when I mull on this pair of issues.

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