August 16, 2007

Please Pray for Peru

As I'm sure you have all seen, Peru sustained a major earthquake yesterday. Since we just left Peru after spending a year there, we have been watching the news carefully. Messages from our friends who are still there paint quite a picture. The city of Lima seems to have come through the quake without much major damage, but as you head south, the sceen must be pretty devastating. The towns of Pisco and Paracas, Ica, and other towns closer to the epicenter of the 7.9 quake were ravaged, and I heard a report that one town was as much as 80 percent destroyed. You have to imagine that in a lot of these areas, the construction is pretty basic, brick and cement, and while this may survive the smaller quakes, most of the buildings, and especially the homes, aren't built with a lot of structural integrity. So while the death toll seems to be around 450 right now, I'm sure that will go up. So please pray for the people of Peru. The country lacks the infrastructure to respond, and many of the roads leading to the damaged areas were themselves damaged, thus rendering aid very difficult.

August 14, 2007

Atheism and evolution

It seems that few debates capture the imagination and ire of religious and non-religious people alike as completely as the debate surrounding evolution. In the US, it has a long history of court decisions, public arguments, and certainly no shortage of book publishing. It seems that at the heart of the debate stands the relation between science and religion. And maybe one of the things that most people can agree upon in the debate, regardless of side, is that the government should not advocate a specific position on the question of religion and faith. Teach credible science, yes, theology, no. What this basic principle means in practice has quite a variety of proponents, but the basic principle seems to stand. That makes the following quote especially interesting, and certainly food for thought. The quote comes from an article from the First Things blog about the recent surge in publishing about atheism. Enjoy.

"The physicist Steve Barr tells the story of a lecture Daniel Dennett gave last year at the University of Delaware, in which he claimed that Darwin had shredded the credibility of religion and was, indeed, the very “destroyer” of God.

"In the question session, a philosophy professor named Jeff Jordan suggested to Dennett: “If Darwinism is inherently atheistic, as you say, then obviously it can’t be taught in public schools.” “And why is that?” inquired Dennett, incredulous. “Because,” said Jordan, “the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution guarantees government neutrality between religion and irreligion.”

"Dennett, looking as if he’d been sucker-punched, leaned back against the wall and said, after a few moments of silence, “clever.” After another silence, he came up with a reply: He had not meant to say that evolution logically entails atheism, merely that it undercuts religion."


August 01, 2007

God's Persistence

I've been away from blogging for quite a while. Life has been crazy, moving back to the North American continent, changing jobs, moving into a rental house tomorrow . . . You get the picture. But during my travels recently, I was using my time in the car to reflect on God, or more specifically on God's persistence. I've seen a lot of lists of God's attributes, organized, categorized, and discussed in a variety of ways. And I have read my share of theological treatises attempting to unveil for us God's very being by way of these attributes. And of course, each one claims to fall short, as they do, of unfolding God's majesty. It seems that the more you read, the more you appreciate the Bible's approach: stories. How better to get to know God than by what God says and does and how God interacts with people over time. This isn't to take away from the impulse to do systematic theology, and in fact, the more I read stories, and appreciate who God is, the more I am driven to revisit my own semi-systematic understanding of who God is.

One of the interesting (to me) historic discussions has to do with God's immutability. For me, about the most perceptive piece I've ever read has been Hendrikus Berkhof's Christian Faith, where he talks about the "Changeable Faithfulness" of God. This seems to capture the "historic" and personal nature of God's existence quite well. But today, my own little contribution, far from original, I'm sure, has to do with God's persistence.

In my own experience, I've found God to be persistent. God's call, conviction, and guidance persist through my on deafness, stubbornness, and failure. And it seems that this same persistence is also reflected throughout the pages of the Bible, and especially in the Old Testament, as God persistently pursues and blesses his covenant people, despite their copious failings.

These are only the beginnings of some thoughts, but seem to point to some interesting areas of reflection.