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Posts Tagged ‘Francis S. Collins’

This meme, helpfully supplied by an atheist faith community, left me puzzled.

The viewpoint, from the creator of the animated TV shows Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, sets up an adversarial relationship between faith and knowledge.

So let’s ask the question: are faith and knowledge compatible? Does one have to “win” over the other?

Consider the words from thoughtful people of faith (specifically, Christianity, which is my faith):

Blogger Tom Gilson (ThinkingChristian.net) says “belief doesn’t arrive out of thin air, or wishful thinking, or fear, or hopefulness, or (especially) pretending. There is a strong knowledge connection there.”

The website BibleAsk.org goes even further, stating “There is no such thing as ‘blind’ faith. Genuine faith is built on facts presented to the mind. In the Bible, faith and knowledge are never in contradiction. Knowledge always comes before faith, and where there is no knowledge there can be no faith. Without knowledge, it is impossible to have faith.”

The point here is that thoughtful followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the Son of God) have no interest in the either-or relationship between faith and knowledge advanced by Seth MacFarlane and others. And they’re backed up by the Bible. Chew on these excerpts, all from a section called ‘Proverbs’:

  • Wise people want to learn more, so they listen closely to gain knowledge.
  • Intelligent people want more knowledge, but fools only want more nonsense.
  • Drinking from the beautiful chalice of knowledge is better than adorning oneself with gold and rare gems.

Most Christians take these Bible excerpts seriously. In fact, some of those Christians, like author and geneticist Francis S. Collins, are among the most knowledgeable in the world and they work to advance knowledge, not hinder it. You can read about just a few of these people here: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-3o.

So that’s the good news. You can accept God’s gift of His Son — whose sacrificial death and amazing resurrection makes up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do — and also advance the cause of knowledge. Both are utterly, beautifully compatible.

Interesting in knowing more about Jesus and how He can make you into the person God intends you to be? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Embracing FreedomSometimes, I’m amazed at all the things atheists and Christians have in common. That was my reaction when I saw this graphic posted in an Atheist Internet community.

I consider following Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the son of God) to be freedom.

Freedom to wonder. I can wonder how God does stuff like creating planets, creating babies and creating the mysterious relationship between my free will and His will. I can wonder how Jesus was God AND human at the same time (this is a core belief for serious Christians). I can wonder how He can (and does) love people who are simply beyond my pathetic ability to even tolerate.

Freedom to explore. I can explore science, just like atheists and just like Christian scientists such as Francis S. Collins (who helped map the human genome). I can explore different faiths and understand how they’re different from Christianity. I can explore who and what God is, even as I know I’ll never get all the answers (and that’s OK).

Freedom to doubt. I can read parts of the Bible where people who feel abandoned by God cry out to Him. In one section, called Psalms, the writer states “Has our Lord rejected us forever? Will he never again speak to us? Has God forgotten what mercy is?” I can feel amazement that this is in the Bible — amazement and relief, because it means I’m NOT condemned if (well, when is more accurate) I ask the same questions.

Freedom to be me. A key part of the Christian faith is that human beings are not only accepted, they are LOVED by God for exactly who they are. Right now. With all our faults, jealousies, doubts, fears, misplaced anger, pettiness, greed, self-centredness and ludicrous sense of entitlement.

How do I know this? Because one of the four Bible accounts of Jesus’ life, simply called ‘John’, says “God loved the world so much [and that includes you and me, with all our quirks and faults] that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.”

No one has “damned you into sin from birth”. It simply happened, whether you and I like it or not. We enter this world thinking only of ourselves; everything revolves around us. And to a certain extent, we carry at least some of that thinking right through to adulthood and old age.

Everything DOESN’T revolve around us. You and I are NOT God. And to the extent that we (encouraged by our culture) believe that we are, that is sin. Like it or not.

So I say, embrace reason. Embrace the God who wants to embrace YOU. Accept the gift He offers you — the Son who:

  • brought extraordinary ideas to the world (like loving your enemies);
  • died to make up for the wrong things you and I have done and the right things we’ve failed to do, and;
  • came back to life to prove He’s God and the Bible’s predictions about Him are true.

What do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Where's the plan? 2.15When I saw this graphic, posted on an atheist website, my immediate reaction was: I bet that’s how the world looks to a lot of people.

It’s hardly a stretch to write that planet Earth appears to be in permanent chaos. Wars, Ebola virus, fundamentalist terrorism, rampant corruption, female and child slavery, broken marriages, child sexual abuse. I’m sure you can easily add to the list.

So where’s the plan? Is all this playing out according to some orderly arrangement? Really?

In a word, YES. Now stay with me while I explain.

Serious Christians like me believe God’s plan is not so much about events. It’s about people. It’s about a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians  believe is God’s divine Son.

That relationship has three key parts:

1. It can, and has, changed the world for the better. Consider these facts:

  • Christians have started hospitals and universities (this essay sheds like on that topic: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-9O).
  • A Christian, William Wilberforce, tirelessly led the decades-long fight to end slavery in Great Britain.
  • Christian scientist Francis S. Collins played a leading role in mapping the human genome.
  • Members of a Christian organization, the International Justice Mission, risk their lives to free female and child slaves in the developing world.

2. It can, and has, brought life-changing peace to lives torn apart by pain and misery. Two examples:

  • Second World War hero Louis Zamperini (subject of the Hollywood movie Unbroken) was an angry alcoholic tortured by regular nightmares of his time in a Japanese prison camp. Then he became a serious follower of Jesus Christ. The nightmares ended. The drinking stopped. And his troubled marriage was restored.
  • Beaten up and betrayed by his criminal friends, Michael “Bull” Roberts was at the end of his rope when he reached out to Jesus Christ. Since then, he’s left behind a life of crime and sought to help others in his situation. (You can read a bit more of his story here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-5g).

3. It’s based on free will. This might seem difficult for you to accept because free will includes our ability to do all the nasty stuff I mentioned in the second paragraph. You might protest that a loving God would not allow all those things to happen. But centuries of evidence shows that free will is an all-or-nothing proposition.

If the nasty things I mentioned were stopped, then so would your ability to ignore God and reject the gift He offers you: a changed life, now and for all eternity, through faith in Jesus Christ.

It’s up to YOU to respond to the gift. It’s up to YOU to figure out whether you want to be part of God’s work to make this broken world a better place. It’s up to YOU to take hold of the life-changing peace He offers through Jesus.

So what do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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