The Temple

You Are Not Your Brain

Philosopher and professor at UC Berkeley Alva Noe has written a book entitled “Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness”.  This is a fascinating topic that spans the disciplines of biology, psychology, neuro-science, philosophy and theology.

Noe has a video on Edge the Third Culture website (hardly a Christian site) which is interesting because the conclusions drawn from this discussion mitigate against a materialistic universe held by most of the Edge crowd (Dawkins, Dennett, Gould, et al).  Materialists want to make consciousness merely a function of the brain.

“The reason we have been unable to  explain the neural basis of consciousness is that it does not take place in the brain…Consciousness is not something that happens inside us but something we achieve.  To understand consciousness – the fact that we think and feel and that a world shows up for us – we need to look at a larger system of which the brain is only one element.  Consciousness requires the joint operation of brain, body and world.  You are not your brain.  The brain rather is part of what you are.”

The question will be how do they link this idea with a materialist worldview.

Of course the Christian worldview has always answered this question with the soul and body composition of man.  We are made up of a material and immaterial part.  We are not gnostics who attribute superiority to the immaterial part, we view man as created in original holiness and good.  Depravity has distorted the image of God in man, and has affected both the material and immaterial parts of man.  Regeneration primarily deals with the immaterial part of man, and resurrection finalizes redemption as it is fully applied to us – the resurrection of the body being the primary focus.  Consciousness resides in the immaterial part of man and uses the brain to communicate between body and soul.

Thanks to Jim O. for the heads up on the Scientific American book review of Noe’s soon to be released work.

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March 10, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Philosophy, Theological | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible

Penn Jillette has a lot to say about religion, he is an atheist, but here is a provocative video where he tells of someone who gave him a Bible. He says some interesting things that Christians should remember when talking to unbelievers:

  • He was complimentary
  • He said nice stuff
  • He gave me…
  • He looked me in the eye
  • He made it personal (Penn says: “He said I wrote in the front of it, wanted you to have it)
  • He was not defensive
  • He was truly complimentary, kind, nice, sane, looked me in the eye
  • He cared enough about me to talk to me

Here are some other things he said about the encounter and evangelism (proselytizing):

  • It was really wonderful
  • I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize
  • How much do you have to hate people to not proselytize, if you really believe heaven and hell is at stake?
  • He cared enough about me to talk to me

Not all atheists and unbelievers are interested in being evangelized, but everyone is interested when you care about them. Evangelism must be driven by unadulterated love for the person you are speaking to. It is not a debate or an argument, it is an expression of care and concern.

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February 5, 2009 Posted by | Atheism, Christian Living, Christianity, Philosophy, Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

Happiness

Last week I preached on happiness and this video gave me some interesting information.

December 11, 2008 Posted by | Philosophy | , , | Leave a comment

Post-Moderns and Emergents

Ravi Zacharias, Al Mohler and RC Sproul chime in on Postmodernism and the Emergent Movement.

Ligonier Ministries

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Culture - Values, Emerging Church, Philosophy, Theological | , , , , , | 4 Comments

TED | Talks | Dan Dennett: A secular, scientific rebuttal to Rick Warren (video)

Daniel Dennett is the author of “Breaking the Spell,” a book about religion being the result of natural phenomenon. As a result of this premise he desires the “facts” of all religious belief to be a mandatory part of education in America. It is a fascinating video as he critiques Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”. His final plea is for people to discard the notion that morality is dependent upon the existence of God.

I find some of his observations to be fascinating, especially his observation that humanity is driven by culture which is driven by religion and the connection he makes to the idea of domination. It is important to listen to people like Dennett, they challenge us to examine our “interpretation” of facts. The interpretation of the facts he presents are driven by an anthropocentric world view, and he embraces human “design” in reverse engineering. All the things that theologians want to say about God, atheists want to say about humanity.

More to come later, I have a lot to say, but I am being distracted from sermon preparation…

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April 1, 2008 Posted by | Culture - Values, Education, Ethics, God's Existence, Philosophy | Leave a comment

R.C. Sproul: What Is Free Will? Video

A much younger RC talking about a very important subject that is widely misunderstood

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March 29, 2008 Posted by | Philosophy, Theological | Leave a comment

Sex with Robots, David Levy on Stephen Colbert

I heard David Levy on the radio a few weeks ago, nobody better than Stephen Colbert to highlight the problems with humor and sarcasm. The philosophical underpinnings are more disturbing than the moral challenges with this sort of industry. Philosophically, people will not have a problem with this and it probably will embrace it openly. As you listen to the guy you will notice that he sees no problem whatsoever with sex with a robot. The reason for this is that he is a materialist, as are many people in the world (at least when it suits them). Since he believes that all that exists is the physical/material, he correctly concludes that there is no problem with sex with a robot, or any other kind of sex for that matter. The moral component is difficult to supply if you are a materialist, because all we are dealing with is what the “material” needs or wants.

Christianity does not support materialism, rather we would philosophically be considered dualists (at least of a sort, a longer discussion for another post). Since Christianity assumes more to life than a physical component, we attribute a spiritual quality to sex. It is more than simple physical procreation. This philosophical underpinning gives foundation to monogamy, fidelity and purity in the sexual experience. Sex is not made up of simply the physical activity but includes the underlying spiritual component. Christianity will have a problem with this not simply because of the moral component, rather we are most uncomfortable with the materialist underpinnings that leads to moral .

Unbelievers and believers who are not adept at critical thinking and have not evaluated their mindset and personal philosophy will fall into the trap of being materialists at one level, and moral at another. For instance, when it suits people they argue that if it happens in the privacy of a bedroom, it is private and is nothing more than “sex”, like an itch that needs to be scratched. It didn’t include the spiritual component. So we try to divorce the biological act from the spiritual act, as if there was no inherent connection. If we are only material beings, with no spiritual component, we are simply talking about a physical activity. It is simply biological function without the procreation element, or the STD element. But the Scripture doesn’t know about this dichotomy. Christianity is about correspondence between thinking and acting.

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February 24, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Christianity, Culture - Values, Ethics, Philosophy, Technology, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort on Nightline

Last night on Nightline Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort “debated” two atheists from (Brian Sapient and Kelly) from Rational Response. You can watch the videos here.

If you are like me you will be embarrassed by their effort. Many are giving them credit for trying. I don’t. People should know and recognize their limits. Kirk Cameron should not be arguing science and philosophy as a representative of Christianity. You wouldn’t. You would decline because you recognize your limits. That is what these two should have done and declined the appearance on Nightline. Not all television appearance opportunities are good opportunities. Any “educated” Pastor could have done better. There are thousands of Seminary professors and college professors who are more than qualified to come on a national TV show and represent our position for all of us. Kirk Cameron is a good guy and apparently a fairly competent Christian lay-person. Ray Comfort also seems like a great guy and a good communicator at a particular level, he is a popular preacher, but not an academic or intellectual. This discussion required an academic, a scholar who could speak at these issues appropriately. What we got instead was a personal appeal to personal faith, not a presentation of theism and foundational belief in God. They should have made an effort to use their media contacts to place a more appropriate representative on that stage.

Evolution vs. Creationism has nothing to do with the argument for the existence of God. Evolution does not preclude belief in God. Disproving Evolution does not prove the existence of God. All the discussion with regards to evolution moved the discussion away from the discussion about God’s existence. This is a common mistake made in debates about God’s existence. The fallacious assumption is that if I prove Evolution I have disproved God, or vice versa. Many theists hold to evolutionary theory. They are not mutually exclusive positions.

The end result of this program was the sharing of a lot of emotion (could Kelly have been any angrier?) and attempted sound bites.

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May 10, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, God's Existence, Philosophy | 31 Comments

Move Over Sam Harris

Check out this Christianity Today review of Christopher Hitchens book entitled “God is not Great.”

ht:Between Two Worlds

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May 5, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, God's Existence, Philosophy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Einstein and Faith

Interesting article in Time Magazine about Einstein and Faith.

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April 11, 2007 Posted by | God's Existence, Philosophy | Leave a comment