Weekly Buzz: 2/2/15

Stephen Fry God

Stephen Fry. (Photo, sans text: Brian Minkoff-London Pixels)

Atheist Stephen Fry, an actor and comedian, was asked what he’d say to God. Watch his powerful answer.

Stephen Fry’s Questions for God

After asking Fry about God, the interviewer gets more than he bargained for. Stephen’s response is only a few minutes, but it’s worth pondering deeply—for atheists and Christians.

What do you think of Fry’s take on God?

Numerology in Genesis 1

BioLogos published a great article by the late Conrad Hyers, a gifted theologian. Consider his conclusion:

Those, therefore, who would attempt to impose a literal reading of numbers upon Genesis, as if the sequence of days was of the same order as counting sheep or merchandise or money, are offering a modern, secular interpretation of a sacred text—in the name of religion. And, as if this were not distortion enough, they proceed to place this secular reading of origins in competition with other secular readings and secular literatures: scientific, historical, mathematical, technological. Extended footnotes are appended to the biblical texts on such extraneous subjects as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, radiometric dating, paleontology, sedimentation, hydrology, etc. These are hardly the issues with which Genesis is concerning itself, or is exercised over.

Hyers’s article is wonderful, and it shows why Genesis 1 does not teach that the earth is young. Do yourself a favor and read it. It will teach you new things about how Genesis 1 uses numbers.

Interviewing an Ex-Priest about God

Religion Dispatches published an exchange with Daniel C. Maguire, a former priest, about his new book: Christianity Without God. Maguire summarizes his transition from devout priest to atheist author:

I started out as the absolute true believer. I believed everything the Vatican taught. One of the things that helped me was working in a parish. I started to meet real people and to discover that some of the things I had just gotten good grades on were dead wrong.

When you do realize that something is wrong in a system that you thought was airtight, your first impulse is to say, “Well that was the only thing wrong. They were wrong on birth control, but the rest of the structure is fine. God, Jesus, everything else is fine.”

But you’ve been shaken at the foundations and you’re more open to finding more problems in the system. So it was a progressive thing that moved me toward atheism. I finally decided with this book to spell it out in detail.

What do you think of Maguire’s comments?

98% of Scientists Accept Human Evolution; Only 65% of American Adults Agree

New data from Pew Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) revealed this disparity. For more information on the report, and other areas where scientists and U.S. adults disagree, click here.

Love the buzz? Hate it? Please write a comment!

12 thoughts on “Weekly Buzz: 2/2/15

  1. Regarding Fry’s comments – the presence of evil things in the world and so much pain/suffering is what I find most troubling/have the most difficulty reconciling. I haven’t come across a satisfying answer//theory for why evil and pain exist in the world – and why it impacts people so indiscriminately.

    Just got Darwin’s Pious Idea in the mail, looking forward to giving it a read. Recently came across some articles on Robert Lanza’s Biocentrism. I know he first wrote about it a number of year ago so it’s not necessarily anything new – but curious if you have you ever done any posts on it or have any quick thoughts about it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the great comments, PJ! I have two thoughts on the problem of evil:

      1) I used to think that the problem of evil was a great argument against God. It’s not, though. What is it? It’s a great argument that God isn’t good. The argument has no bearing on whether or not God exists. Of course, I don’t suspect God is evil, but you see my point.

      2) Conor Cunningham makes an interesting point about the problem of evil in the book you mentioned:

      Aquinas tells us, “If evil exists, God exists.” . . . if evil exists — if we really believe that certain acts, events, and so on deserve to be called evil — then for this to be legitimate, God is required. Otherwise our pronouncements and judgments are arbitrary and thus cannot be thought of as anything other than possibly useful fictions.

      To read more of his argument, click here.

      P.S. I’m not familiar with Robert Lanza’s biocentrism, but I’ll look into it.


      • I definitely see the logic in the Aquinas quote – thanks for sharing it. I think it provides the most helpful counter to Fry’s line of thought. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say God doesn’t exist and then cite all of the evil in the world as a theoretical proof that God doesnt exist. If you think about it, he seems pretty upset with something he stated doesn’t exist. If he truly believes God doesnt exist you would think that he would attribute evil to being totally random and arbitrary.

        I’ve also heard arguments that the existence of evil in the world is an argument for a finite God, or at least one that does not intervene / is not all-powerful.

        Just like the question of evil, there are so many issues that it seems both spirituality/faith and science can’t explain (personal opinion about the extent to which the latter and former meet the burden of proof notwithstanding). No matter how many phenomena can be tested and proven with science, I still find the original question of why anything at all exists to begin with to be the most important and difficult. Materialists/atheists would tell you that the question of why is a red herring – it doesnt really matter and the fact that science has been able to increasingly explain the universe and our existence leads them to believe that science will eventually be able to explain it all. There is surely more to the how that science will eventually figure out about our existence, but i reject the dismissal of the question of why. Just because the question of why is seemingly impossible to answer doesn’t mean it isn’t important to take into account. Until science can explain to me how the most fundamental particles ever existed, I won’t believe it fully accounts for our existence.

        Science will only study that which can be studied. They reject any theories for that which they can’t currently study and say that because they’ve been able to study so much so far, that they will eventually be able to study that which they can’t. They say that this is a rational approach, but really all it does it take things that you would need some kind of faith to grapple with and set them aside until a date to be named later (their faith is that they will eventually be able to explain everything, but they don’t call it faith – they just say they dont think about it now because they can’t study/test it).

        A lot of it depends on perspective. Materialists can point to thousands of theories that science has proven about our existence/the universe, but who knows if the science currently explains 80% of what there is to know or only a fraction of a percent of what there is to know? Their comparison of “what science has proven vs. what religion has proven” would look a lot different depending on what percentage of what there is to know that science currently explains. Since we obviously cannot know this, I don’t see why anyone on either side would make statements of fact instead of statements of belief. Materialists say that theists use religion/faith as a crutch to deal with the unknown – don’t materialists do the same and just dress it up as “rationally describing what we already know and we’ll figure out the rest later.” Atheists constantly say that it is not incumbent upon them to prove that God doesn’t exist. In the same sense, it is not incumbent on theists to prove that science doesn’t explain it all. Many atheists seem to cherry pick and attack religious fundamentalists and the obviously human error inherent in religion and label anything that challenges them as a red herring or something they’ll figure out later. It’s a convenient strategy to attack what is easy to attack, dismiss what truly challenges them, claim to be rational in their study of what can be studied, and then claim confidence that they will eventually be able to explain it all. I certainly root for science to discover more truths about the universe, but I find the fact that atheists claim science as proof (or eventual proof) that nothing but the natural world exists and that consciousness doesn’t survive death as unsavory.

        Liked by 1 person

        • PJ, great stuff! I appreciate your thoughtful commentary on this blog. I think you’ve put your finger on an interesting point: While the “God of the gaps” argument is poor theology, the “Science of the gaps” is just as bad in its own way.

          There are simply some questions science isn’t equipped to answer. That’s not a knock on science. Questions about meaning, morality, purpose, etc. fall outside of science’s authority. I’m excited to read your reflections as your pour through Cunningham’s book.


  2. Wow! Stephen Fry’s statements are a clear indictment of a God that allows evil to exist. Even though it’s terribly one sided as he fails to mention the incredible physical and spiritual beauty this same God gives us, it is nevertheless worth pondering.

    What would a world and the resulting humanity be like without the wisdom the trials by fire bring us? How could we ever grow stronger and wiser, closer to the divinity within unless we are continually tested.

    I am reminded of H. G. Well’s book, The Time Machine where humanity in the distant future had become childlike playful creatures, food for underground spiderlike creatures.

    It is only through triumphing over the evil within ourselves and in the world that we develop character and grow as human beings.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Weekly Buzz: 2/9/15 | Jesus & Dawkins

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