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With the close of chapter seven the half of Keller’s book that was bassed on his sermon series at Redeemer ends, and we begin as readers to encounter totally new material from him. I loved the sermons and if you haven’t heard them by all means go over to redeemer’s webpage and listen to them.

Science Has Disproved Christianity 06

Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, and Sam Harris; if you’re up at all on the science vs religion debates these names have surfaced several times for you and probably sound like a scratchy track on an old LP. Here’s the heart of the question this chapter posses and Keller seeks to answer, “Has science essentially disproved Christian beliefs? Must we choose between thinking scientifically and belief in God?” Keller answers no to both of these.

Aren’t Miracles Scientifically Impossible? Behind this question is an assumption, ie that science makes no faith claims of its own, that its presumptions are fair and judicious; but Keller via Plantinga’s critique of Macquarrie. See Macquarrie is right in saying that science must always assume there is a natural cause because really that is the ONLY cause scientific methods are able to measure and prove. BUT it’s quite another thing “to insist that science has proven that there can’t be any other kind.” In a metaphorically colorful way Plantinga responds that Macquarrie’s arguement amounts to a drunk looking for his car keys at night under a street light, he never leaves the light and insist that because that is the only place he can see they must be ther.

Isn’t Science in Conflict with Christianity? This question is a culturally plausible one to raise afterall how many of us have witnessed the ugly battles back and forth between Young Earth Creationists and Evolutionists. The arguments, as much as the contention itself, have soured in many of our mouths. Keller provides a third way, not one he invented to be sure (see. B.B. Warfield). Since this is one of Keller’s points that needs careful listening I will quote him in tota;

However, Christians may believe in evolution as a process without believing in “philosophical naturalism” – the view that everything has a natural cause and that organic life is solely the product of random forces guided by no one. When evolution is turned into an All-encompassing Theory explaining absolutely everything we believe, feel, and do as the product of natural selection, then we are not in the arena of science, but of philosophy [and I would add religion]. pg. 87

There are basically four options that science and religion can take to relate to oneanother: conflict, dialogue, integration, and independence. Keller in my opinion takes an integration & dialogue approach to science & religion, and he is not alone in this, Stephen Jay Gould himself disagrees with Dawkins because he doesn’t believe that science is able to account for everything. So instead of thinking about Christianity in conflict with science, rather consider that all four of the relationships manifest themselves depending on which form of Christianity may be engaging which form of science, ie fundamentalist literalism will have a much more conflict natured relation to say those whoe are in concert with Dawkins, while a post-conservative or progressive form of Christianity would have a dialogical relation with people like Gould on certain points.

Doesn’t Evolution Disprove the Bible? Keller acknowledges that there are several approaches both to the genre and interpretation of Genesis 1, as well as to the way evolution ought to be engaged, therefore; “Since Christian believers occupy different positions on both the meaning of Genesis 1 and on the nature of evolution, those who are considering Christianity as a whole should not allow themselves to be distracted by this intramural debate.” And just so you know where Keller comes down, “For the record I think God guided some kind of process of natural selection, and yet I reject the concept of evolution as All-encompassing Theory.”

And Keller is quick to note that miracles are hard to believe, as they were for the original audience of them as well Matt. 28. But belief is not where they are seeking to lead you and I, rather they are intended to move us to a place of worship, awe, and wonder. And here in the closing of this chapter is for me the most significant point to hold onto;

We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. his miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’s miracles are nto just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.

You Can’t Take The Bible Literally 07

How do you “Dismantle the Atomic Bomb” (play on U2’s album) that Christianity is, either you undermine the reality of God, disprove the resurrection of Christ, or demonstrate that the Bible is uncredible and historically disjointed through poor transmission, or that the Bible is not entirely trustworthy either because – its scientifically impossible, historically unreliable, or culturally regressive. The first of these was addressed last chapter, the other two are addressed in this chapter.

“We Can’t Trust the Bible Historically” The Jesus Seminar, Dan Brown’s Davinci Code, and more have sought to suggest that the bible’s gospel’s are late and therefore untrustworthy. Keller relies a lot on Richard Bauckham’s recent monograph that responds to these criticism, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, here’s the short and sweet – they are, the evidence is so decidedly in their favor that this point is moot, their content is far too counterproductive at times for them to be otherwise, and their literary forms are too detailed to fit into the genre of legend. 

“We can’t trust the Bible culturally.” Two big points people grab onto is that the Bible supports slavery and the subjugation of women. First things first, Keller urges people “…to consider that their problem with some texts might be based on an unexamined belief in the superiority of their historical moment over all others. We must not universalize our time any more than we should universalize our culture. Think of the implication of the very term “regressive.”” Keller responds quickly to the first example of slavery and notes that the Bible in fact doesn’t support the ‘cattle’ slavery of the colonization period, and that within the bible it provided the hermeneutical indications that slavery would in the spiritual familial bonds of being “in Christ” would be eclipsed. This is partly why latter Christians do go on the campaign to abolish slavery. Also he reminds his readers not to miss the major motifs of scripture for the sake of difficult minor motifs. On the latter point of the subjugation of women Keller stresses that there is a variety of positions.

A Trustworthy Bible or a Stepford God? If you’ve ever seen the movie Stepford wives you know where Keller is going with his closing section in this chapter. God needs to be able to correct and disagree with us or he’s not a real person, but rather a robot. “…a Stepford God! A God, essentially, of your own making, and not a God with whom you can have a relationship and genuine interaction…So an authoritative Bible is not the enemy of a personal relationship with God. It is the precondition for it.”

Intermission

Intermission means literally to be between journeys or missions. That is where we are now.” Between reasons against Christianity, and reasons for Christianity lies this chapter in Keller’s matured magnum opus. Here is where Keller stops to answer a question an old collegue of his has raised in the comment chains of earlier reviews of Keller’s book at this blogsite. What is Christianity? “For our purposes, I’ll define Christianity as the body of believers who assent to these great ecumenical creeds.” The Apostle’s, Nicene, Chalcedonian, and Athanasian creeds offer the world the fundamentals of the Christains view of reality – Keller turns to catholicity….hmm…wonderful turn indeed! When it comes to sin and grace Keller nevertheless maintains a more Protestant perspective than Catholic which is no surprise given his Presbyterian stance.

Now that Keller has clarified which Christianity he’s about to argue for, the next logical questions is of course which rationality he will use to argue thus? Praising Nagel critique of “strong rationalism” as a reason why he is able to be more of a mediating skeptic voice than Dawkins or Harris, Keller says that his own position is that of “critical rationalism”, those familiar with Ben Meyer’s book “The New Testament and Critical Rationalism” or NT Wright’s first volume “New Testament and the People of God” will of course immediately resonate with Keller’s position. In a nutshell critical rationalism “assumes that there are some arguments that many or even most rational people will find convincing, even though there is no argument that will be persuasive to everyone regardless of viewpoint.”

Just where can we expect to find reasons for God you ask? Well Keller will no doubt explore that in full in pages to come, but for now he reminds his readers that God is not an object one can find like discovering America or the moon, he much like William Shakespear is the author of the most beautiful of all tales – creation. So if you look for him and don’t see him, perhaps you need to step back and ask who is pening this amazing drama you live within. Keller, like Van Till and William Edgar ask you as their reader to put on the spectacles of Christianity and consider just how much sense it makes of the world you live within. And as you learn to read the drama that is life afresh look back particularly to Jesus Christ, because this is one play where the author has managing to write himself into the drama as its center, goal, and purpose…

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