Jesus: The Face of God Anglican perspectives on science, faith, and faithful living

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1 Jesus: The Face of God Anglican perspectives on science, faith, and faithful living!!! Truro Rector s Forum, June 23 July 21 In the beginning was the Word And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1,14

2 June 23: What is science and what is it not? June 30: What do we mean by faith? July 7: Faithful knowing in science or faith: commitment and participation. July 14: How can science and faith relate: some key theological words. July 21: Seeing the hand of God in the world: liturgy-assisted living.

3 Last Week: Science Science: knowledge, fruitful, comprehensive, counter-intuitive. Science does not tell us what is right or wrong or how to live. Why is science possible in the first place? Why is the Universe so intelligible to us? Doing science requires a commitment (trust, faith ) that the Universe is well-ordered according to basic principles, or the laws of nature.

4 This week: faith Celsus, a 2nd Century Roman pagan critic of Christianity, said: Some Christians do not even want to give or receive a reason for what they believe, and use expressions such as Do not ask questions, just believe and Your faith will save you. Others quote the apostle Paul, The world s wisdom is evil and foolishness is a good thing. Atheist Richard Dawkins put it this way in The Humanist in 1997: Science is based upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.

5 Dawkins claims that faith is blind : Faith is the great cop out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence Faith is not allowed to justify itself by argument. Furthermore, faith is a great evil: It is fashionable to wax apocalyptic about the threat to humanity posed by the AIDS virus, mad cow disease, and many others, but I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.

6 Contrast Dawkins view with Anglican W. H. Griffin-Thomas ( ), former Principal, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford: [Faith] affects the whole of man s nature. It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence; it continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will, by means of which the conviction and confidence are expressed in conduct. St. Augustine ( AD) said: No one believes anything unless one first thought it believable. Everything that is believed is believed after being preceded by thought. Not everyone who thinks believes, since many think in order not to believe; but everyone who believes thinks, thinks in believing and believes in thinking.

7 Chemist Michael Polanyi ( ), Oxford U., Manchester U. Personal Knowledge (1958) You can only believe something that might be false... Every act of factual knowing has the structure of a commitment. We must now go back to St. Augustine to restore the balance of our cognitive powers. St. Augustine taught: Nisi credideritis, non intelligitis. [Unless you believe, you will not understand.]

8 Greco-Roman pagans like Celsus believed that the things seen in this world would never lead anyone to God. How could God possibly become a human being and be crucified? The early Christian apologist Origen ( AD) responded that Celsus wanted a Greek proof [today we would say scientific proof ] but the gospel has a proof that is proper to itself and is more divine than the dialectical arguments of the Greeks. Paul says in 1 Cor. 2:4-5, my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

9 The early Christians and their pagan critics valued and used reason and logic. The story of Jesus, told by eyewitnesses, brings in a new starting point: For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor. 4:6 Knowing Jesus leads to new life: be transformed by the renewal of your mind [nous] Romans 12:2

10 Everyone has a basic faith (trust) in some conception of the way things are. Scientists trust in the rationality and uniformity of the Universe Christians trust and find meaning in God through the stories in the Bible and especially in the story of Jesus. Some people trust in nothing-butism We and the whole universe are nothing but matter and energy. There is no God and the Universe has no purpose. What we think about the way things ultimately are determines how we live our lives.

11 What authority teacher do we trust to teach us what we need to know? St. Augustine says: Authority invites belief and prepares man for reason. Reason leads to understanding and knowledge. But reason is not entirely absent from authority, for we have to consider whom we are to believe. St. Thomas Aquinas ( ) says: If the teacher determines the question by appeal to authorities only, the student will be convinced that the thing is so, but will have acquired no knowledge or understanding, and he will go away with an empty mind.

12 Alister McGrath (b. 1953), Oxford U., King s College, London The Scientific Theology Project: (1) Nature (2001), (2) Reality (2002), and (3) Theory (2003) Summarized in The Science of God (2004) Dawkins God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life (2005) The Dawkins Delusion? (2007) The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology (2008) A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (2009)

13 Alister McGrath says in his 2009 Gifford Lectures: The Christian vision of reality, which has its own distinct evidential basis and intrinsic rationality, offers us a standpoint from which we may view the natural world, and see certain things that others might indeed regard as puzzling or strange such as fine-tuning as consonant with the greater picture that the Christian has to offer. McGrath gives this quote from C. S. Lewis: I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen--not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.

14 Thomas Forsyth Torrance ( ) Space, Time, and Resurrection (1976) The Ground and Grammar of Theology (1980) There is no secret way of knowing either in science or in theology, but there is only one basic way of knowing We must be faithful to the reality we seek to know and must act and think always in relentless fidelity to that reality. Really to know God means that we must know him in accordance with His triune nature from the start.

15 I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matt.5:8 In his argument against Celsus, Origen says: We affirm that human nature is not in any way sufficient to seek God and find him with purity unless it is helped by the one who is the object of the search. Our will does not suffice to give us a wholly pure heart. We need God to create such a heart. That is why one who prayed with understanding said, Create in me a clear heart, O God.

16 All truthful knowing must seek to be faithful to the Reality it seeks to know. In the sciences we must seek to understand the world as it is. Christians can only bear witness to the way God actually makes himself known. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father s side, has made him known. John 1:14,18

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