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Skeptical Christian: God: The Failed Hypothesis
John adds All human knowing involvesperception from aparticular point of view, which will offer opportunities for insightbut be bounded by its inherent limitations. I certainly do not thinkthat this implies that we are unable to get beyond misleading tricks ofperspective, but it does mean that we have to be careful. Nicholasquoted Michael Polanyi (a very helful writer on this subject) whoemphasises that science is precarious (it does not trade inunquestionable proof) but also reliable (it affords usverismilitudinous knowledge). One place where you could find my take onthis is Chapter 2 of (CUP). I wouldextend thiscritical realism to theology also (see (Yale UP) Chs 2 and 5). I am sure that God is notlessmerciful than we are inclined to be.
I do not think everyone's eternal destiny is fixed at death - think ofthose whose geographical or historical situation prevented theirhearing the gospel, of those whose response has been crippled byexperiences like child abuse. Yet wittingly to turn from Christ in thislife is spiritually very dangerous and I think that is what the sternNT language about judgement is principally intended to convey. For amore detailed discussion see (Yale UP) esp. ch 11.
Whatis conscience exactly? Is it that little voice inside of us, that gutfeeling that guides us in choosing which course of action to take? Isit a little voice outside of us like Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio? Is ita little of both or is it neither? I know it's more than simply a gutfeeling.
I thinkthe 'exactly' is beyond the wit of man - or even of woman.
Just as Soul is our deepest self so Conscience is our deepestunderstanding of what is right and wrong. It may sometimes feel a bitlike a 'third party' but it isn't, although no doubt God cancommunicate with our Conscience just as He can communicate with otheraspects of our minds.
Of course exactly how our minds relate to our brains and bodies is verypoorly understood, so it's too much to hope that conscience can beprecisely understood. Though I think there are some suggestive PETimages about parts of the brain that are associated with moralinhibitions, which are clearly related to, though not identical with,conscience.
it is hard tounderstand, and even harder to deny, our deep inner experiences such asconscience. I see its 'voice' as part of the frontier of exchangebetween the human spirit and the Holy Spirit.
God: The Failed Hypothesis shares a …
DAWKINS: I think that's the mother and father of all cop-outs. It's an honest scientific quest to discover where this apparent improbability comes from. Now Dr. Collins says, "Well, God did it. And God needs no explanation because God is outside all this." Well, what an incredible evasion of the responsibility to explain. Scientists don't do that. Scientists say, "We're working on it. We're struggling to understand."
With the recent rejection of the concept of limbo by the CatholicChurch, our discussion group is wondering about the authenticity ofPurgatory. While it is reasonable (and there is ampleevidencethatthe Judeo-Christian tradition accepts this) to think thatmostwho diewhile not deserving of eternal punishment are not quite ready forheaven, the exact nature of such an intermediate state/place seemsvague. For example, how can a spiritual entity such as a soulbebothered by fire? I seem to recall that John recentlypublishedthefindings of a group that dealt with the after life and had someinteresting things to say about Purgatory. Could you or Johnputaconcise statement of of this on the web?
Johnco-authored a report of the CofE called and this is the paragraph which mentions purgatory(p196-7)
Since heaven is a participation in the life of God, only those fittedto share that life may fully enter into it. Heaven is a communion ofsaints, a communion of those made holy by the work of the Spirit in theresponse of faith. Sanctification, grwoth in holiness, is thecondition of heaven. And there is no holiness without God's gracebecause only God can make holy. Yet such holiness requires our humanresponse; it is not the product of mechanistic determinism, but a fruitof our love freely given, won from us by God's transforming love forus. Those Christians who have wanted to speak of 'purgatory'havebythis language wanted to sterss that God's love and mercy reaches out tofit for heaven those who staill at their dying need to grow in thatholiness which is the very condition of communion with God. Thosewhohave resisted the language of purgatory have done so because theybelieve that God usues death itself as the instrument to complete thenecessary toask of dealing with sin which, up to that point, stilldistorts the life of all Christians. This view claims support fromtexts such as Romans 6.7: 'Whoever has died is freed from sin.'
As far as 'fire' and so forth goes, that language has alwaysbeen metaphorical. I don't think any serious theologian from any traditionhas ever thought that the souls in purgatory have bodies. Howeverifwe were truly confronted with the reality of our sins and of theholiness of God we might well want our sins to be 'purified by fire'and the sensation might not be less painful - after all pain isperceived in the mind. As CS Lewis puts it somewhere, if weareinvited to God's banquet wearing filthy stinking rags we might wellwant to get clean clothes, even if they are not strictly 'necessary'.
on purgatory, see myCh 11
GOD THE FAILED HYPOTHESIS HOW SCIENCE SHOWS …
DAWKINS: My mind is not closed, as you have occasionally suggested, Francis. My mind is open to the most wonderful range of future possibilities, which I cannot even dream about, nor can you, nor can anybody else. What I am skeptical about is the idea that whatever wonderful revelation does come in the science of the future, it will turn out to be one of the particular historical religions that people happen to have dreamed up. When we started out and we were talking about the origins of the universe and the physical constants, I provided what I thought were cogent arguments against a supernatural intelligent designer. But it does seem to me to be a worthy idea. Refutable--but nevertheless grand and big enough to be worthy of respect. I don't see the Olympian gods or Jesus coming down and dying on the Cross as worthy of that grandeur. They strike me as parochial. If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.
COLLINS: I just would like to say that over more than a quarter-century as a scientist and a believer, I find absolutely nothing in conflict between agreeing with Richard in practically all of his conclusions about the natural world, and also saying that I am still able to accept and embrace the possibility that there are answers that science isn't able to provide about the natural world--the questions about why instead of the questions about how. I'm interested in the whys. I find many of those answers in the spiritual realm. That in no way compromises my ability to think rigorously as a scientist.
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God the failed hypothesis — Victor Stenger.
Right now there is a federal trial under way in Dover,Pa., USA,over a school policy requiring teachers to explain to students about"Intelligent Design" before teaching evolution. as a scientist and as aChristian wha do you think about "Intelligent Design" being taught inscience classes?
Evolution clearly happens and there is very strong genetic evidence forthe evolutionary connection of most animals including man. Howeverbecause evolution is a mechanism based on 'randomness' it isfundamentally non-deterministic and thus it is quite possible for otherprocesses to be at work as well, alongside evolutionary ones. Also itis quite impossible to calculate the likelihoods of evolutionaryoutcomes of any complexity, so it is impossible to know the likelihoodof the observed evolutionary outcomes. If a toss of 4 coinscomesdownwith 1 heads and the rest tails you have no strong reason to supposethat there is anything else happening than randomness: if a toss of4,000 coins comes down with 1 heads and the rest tails it is not, ofcourse, that this has happened by chancebut you'dcertainly be more inclined to look for additional factors - even moreso with 4 million coins. This would still be true if you hadatrillion trillion samples of 4 million to choose from - the likelihoodof this event with a fair coin is 2^-4M or roughly 10^-1.2M
Similarly, the idea proposed by some ID advocates that certainbiological systems couldn't possibly have evolved is almost certainlywrong. But it is quite reasonable to point out that many biologicalsystems are of such complexity that the likelihood of 'random'evolution with natural selection being the story of theiremergence seems small and is certainly inscrutable. In some ways we cancompare evolution to gravity and Dawin to Gallileo (not Newton, becauseNewton worked out an amazingly accurate theory ofgravity). Gravity is an extremely important physical force,butit isnot the physical force. Indeed one of thereasons thatleading physicists of the 19th Century were so cautious about Darwinismwas that, on the basis of what was then known of the physical forces ofnature, the sun could not be old enough to allow time for evolution tohave occurred. It was only when Einstein's corrections toNewton'stheory of gravity uncovered the possibility of massive energy releasein nuclear transformations that the source of the Sun's energy wasunderstood.
Victor Stenger - God: The Failed Hypothesis
COLLINS: For you to argue that our noblest acts are a misfiring of Darwinian behavior does not do justice to the sense we all have about the absolutes that are involved here of good and evil. Evolution may explain some features of the moral law, but it can't explain why it should have any real significance. If it is solely an evolutionary convenience, there is really no such thing as good or evil. But for me, it is much more than that. The moral law is a reason to think of God as plausible--not just a God who sets the universe in motion but a God who cares about human beings, because we seem uniquely amongst creatures on the planet to have this far-developed sense of morality. What you've said implies that outside of the human mind, tuned by evolutionary processes, good and evil have no meaning. Do you agree with that?
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