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Christian Tractatus

(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)

That this is a problem is the message of this paper.

  1. It is commonly held by Christians that the modern world view is arbitrarily atheistic & that the (then current) non-Biblical world view has been constantly changing throughout history. Therefore, it is alleged, since the Biblical world view is neither of these, there is no point trying to reconcile it with the current world view.
  2. In response to the above view, I have the following points to make:
    • It is not clear that the Bible has a single world view. As trivial examples, we have noted the differences between the Old Testament and the New: ie. that in the Old Testament, resurrection is not given much prominence, nor is Satan, and demons are not mentioned at all. All three concepts are given considerable space in the New Testament.
    • The Bible is likely to reflect the world view then current at the times and places at which its various books were written.
    • The secular world view is not a randomly fluctuating one, at least not since the Renaissance, and especially not since the rise of the scientific method in the seventeenth century. The modern world view may be considered, optimistically, as a steadily advancing one, or more realistically as a random walk heavily biased in the direction of increasing knowledge.
  3. To pre-empt later discussion somewhat, how should we respond to the lack of harmony between the Biblical world view(s) and the modern world view (s)? I suggest the following programme:
    • As a foundation principle the Bible should, on any particular issue, be interpreted exactly as its original authors intended, if this original intention can be recovered.
    • Secondly, a choice should be made between the two (or more) world views on a point-by-point basis.
    • Finally, one should not, or ought not, to force oneself to believe something simply because it is part of a package. If one doesn't believe something, one doesn't believe it, and that's that.
  4. The above scheme may seem to be open to criticism as being impractical. Is it really possible to hold our beliefs on a point-by-point basis ? In any systematic study, do not some counter-intuitive ideas have to be accepted because they are logical deductions from other beliefs?
  5. As an example, what about time dilation & length contraction in Special Relativity theory? Are these not counter-intuitive effects accepted because they follow logically from more fundamental notions of simultaneity and the constancy of the speed of light (in vacuo) in any inertial frame?
  6. The answer to the above two sets of questions is multifold:
    • Firstly, it is often the case that intuitions need educating. This is true of normal education & continues to be required as different areas of experience are encountered (eg. the extreme banking of a velodrome track may initially seem counter-intuitive).
    • Secondly, in general our offended intuitions are not left without recourse. Taking up the above example, we can demonstrate their fallibility by watching cyclists on the velodrome. Similarly, we can experiment with particles in an accelerator & monitor the changes in their half-lives.
    • In the physical sciences, where a discrepancy between theory and reality (experiment) exists, we realise that there is a problem with the theory. We may be forced to put up with the situation for a while for lack of a better theory, but we are
    • However, we do not often appear to have this freedom in theology. As I have stated before, we have to fall back on the inscrutibility of the divine ways.

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12/08/2007 10:17:46 413 (Modern Worldview - Problem) Modern Worldview

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