Is Religion Dangerous? Paul Chamberlain

Is Religion Dangerous? | Paul Chamberlain, PhD

Kelowna Gospel Fellowship Church (2015) – Is Religion Dangerous? A lot of people think so, and perhaps you have wondered where to land on this important issue. We are pleased to present this extended presentation from Dr. Paul Chamberlain, one of the leading Canadian Christian Thinkers & Apologists, based out of Trinity Western University in Langley. Dr. Chamberlain has authored five books on issues of Christianity and culture, helping provide a deeply thought-filled faith experience.

Pray for Christians as Morocco considers death penalty for apostasy

From Mission News Network and Voice of the Martyrs Canada

Morocco considers apostasy rules.

Morocco (MNN) – Morocco’s Islamic council is considering the death penalty for apostasy. Greg Mussleman is a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs Canada. He says the mask is off. „It surprises me in one sense, that it has come out, there, that the government is kind of pushing for it. The militants want to eradicate Christianity, or any other religion, and make it 100% Muslim.” Moroccan believers now meet in small groups for fear of persecution. Christians are concerned that if the edict passes, things will be harder for them than they already are. „What happens often is that the more pressure that is put on those pastors, Christians become even more determined in sharing their faith.” Anti-Christian sentiment is growing in the country. „Pray that the church would be strong, that they would see this as an attack against them, but to be reminded that the battle is not against flesh and blood, so it’s not against the government there or even the militant Muslims.”

The Cambridge debate between Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams

The Christian Post reports on the debate:

Brian made this picture while Rowan Williams, ...

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, defeated prominent atheist professor, Richard Dawkins, in a debate at the University of Cambridge in England on Thursday night, as a vote taken at the conclusion of the debate ruled that religion does have a place in the 21st century.

The debate motion that „religion has no place in the 21st Century” was well-defeated at the event held in front of an audience of about 800 people, mostly students, at the Cambridge Union Society’s chambers, according to the U.K.’s Independent newspaper.

Dawkins lost the debate by 324 votes to 136, as he failed to convince the house that religion has no place.

„Religion has always been a matter of community building, a matter of building relations of compassion, fellow-feeling and, dare I say it, inclusion,” Williams, who stepped down as the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion on Dec. 31, said in his address. „The notion that religious commitment can be purely a private matter is one that runs against the grain of religious history.”

Williams pointed out that respect for human life and equality was inherent in all organized religion. „The very concept of human rights has profound religious roots… The convention of human rights would not be what it is were it not for the history of philosophical religious debate.”


Video of the Week – David Platt – „Are We Going to die in our religion or are we going to die in our devotion?”

„Are We Going to die in our religion or are we going to die in our devotion?”

A challenge by David Platt, pastor of Brook Hills Church in Birmingham, AL. The sermon clips are from the one he preached at the SBC Conference in Louisville, KY back in ’09

Video Link: (via)

Tip: If you’re going to have doubts…

Dallas Willard:

If you’re going to have doubt, make sure to have doubts about your doubts as well as your beliefs. We’re taught in our culture that a person who doubts is essentially smarter than a person who believes. But you can be as dumb as a cabbage and still say why ? Our culture is set up on that.

You wanna say, „Believe your beliefs, doubt your doubts as well as doubt your beliefs and believe your doubts. You go the whole round, and that’s what we’re not taught. This is about how knowledge grows and knowledge grows by not only doubting your beliefs and believing your doubts but by (also) doubting your doubts and believing your beliefs. That involves conversation with others, inquiring, listening to a good preacher preach, going to read a good book on atheism by Dawkins… Now, not everybody has the time to do that, so in the fellowship that is one reason why we need one another so badly, so there can be other people who can do what we don’t have time to do and that division of labor really works in the church.

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Justin Barrett – Why Would Anyone Believe in God? – Veritas at UC Davis

Justin L. Director of the Thrive Center for Human Development, Thrive Professor of Developmental Science, and Professor of Psychology at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. He previously held a post as senior researcher of the Centre for Anthropology and Mind and The Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University. Barrett is described in the New York Times as a „prominent member of the byproduct camp” and „an observant Christian who believes in “an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God who brought the universe into being,” [and] “that the purpose for people is to love God and love each other.” He considers that “Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people, Why wouldn’t God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?” Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them. “Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that she does?”

Here is just one quote from his work: „There is actually a growing body of research that suggests that we have this tendency to see design and purpose all over the place from very young ages”.

Contrast this with * Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Below you will find the video and extensive notes from this very fascinating lecture from the Veritas Forum,  where you can find more apologetics resources.

Intro: The cognitive science of religion

Justin Barrett: I would like to give a broad brushstrokes introduction to the cognitive science of religion, an area that I’ve ben working in the last 15 years. (Main audience is comprised of students taking UC’s Psychology of Religion course).

Why religion is natural, science is not. „Religion like technology arises in every human culture. Religion is a universal phenomenon among human groups, which may well have existed from very nearly the emergence of our species in prehistory”. (McCauley p.149) WHY?

This year, if you keep your eyes on Amazon and so forth, you’ll see that there have been a number of books in this area. It’s getting hot and not just with psychologists and cognitive scientists and anthropologists and comparative religionists, but, also with philosophers and theologians who are starting to wonder, „What is this stuff all about?”  And, really what these scholars are trying to address is a pretty obvious phenomena once you bring it out. And that is: „Why is it that wherever you go , whatever culture you’re in, maybe even whatever historical epoch you are in, there are religious people. And not just a few.

A 1999 Gallup Survey International suggests that upwards of 90% of the world’s population today believe in some kind of a god or supernatural force, let alone historically. This is a pervasive thing that people believe in gods of one sort or another. Why is too, that  children seem to be especially receptive to religious ideas? They pick it up very easily and very naturally.

Here’s a quote from Paul Bloom, Developmental Psychiatrist at Yale University (from Michael Brooks’ article in the New Scientist in Feb 7, 2009 issue: Would a group of children raised in isolation spontaneously create their own religious beliefs?  „I think the answer is yes”. (p 33) WHY ?

Causes and reasons are important when we are talking about belief.

Reasons vs. Causes of belief

  • All thoughts and beliefs have causes: biological, psychological, evolutionary, social
  • But we can still have good reasons for beliefs: experiences, intuition, scientific evidence, logical arguments, testimony of authority, etc.
  • Focus here will be on causes

All beliefs have causes. All ideas have causes. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t have good reasons or bad reasons for those beliefs and ideas. I want to give you a scientific account as to why it is that people tend to believe in gods. At the end we might  start thinking about how those causes matter to whether or not such beliefs are reasonable. But, I want to be clear that those are two separate issues.

The first hat I want to put on is my scientist hat.

The naturalness of religion thesis

„People are disposed to generate and accept religious ideas because of how their minds naturally work in common human environments.” This is not just my idea. This is a convergent idea that many researchers and myself are coming to.  The claim here is, we all, by virtue of being human beings, living in a common world, all have certain kinds of cognitive equipment that develops. Psychological machinery. That predisposes us toward generating or accepting religious ideas. That’s why religious ideas are so recurrent. At least one of the reasons or causes as to why.

There is a sub variety of this thesis. A different wrinkle that I have been emphasizing lately, which I call:

The born believers thesis 

click „More” to read the notes from the entire lecture.

Mai mult

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus – a poem by Jefferson Bethke

This is a young man who wrote a poem about grace, recited it for this video and his video went viral in a matter of days. His name is Jefferson Bethke and he writes:

A poem I wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion. In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it’s core Jesus’ gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can’t do your own list of rules and feel „not good enough” for God. With Jesus though you have humble confident joy because He represents you, you don’t represent yourself and His sacrifice is perfect putting us in perfect standing with God!

(‘Radical’ author) David Platt on Rob Bell and the church – „Intellectual universalism is dangerous” but „functional universalism is worse.”

Dr. David Platt in India.

(source of quote in title here)

For those at Brook Hills (or beyond) who may not be familiar with recent debate concerning Rob Bell and universalism, there is much discussion at present among professing Christians concerning whether or not those without Christ will really experience eternal damnation when they die. I offer some thoughts here from India. Yes, let’s fight universalism with our words. But let’s also fight universalism with our lives.

David Platt on his journey through India (March 18 update)

Overwhelming lostness. These are the only words that come to my mind when I consider what we witnessed at the Ganges River. According to Hinduism, the Ganges is the most sacred of all rivers. The “holiest” cities of Hinduism rest along its banks. Every year, scores of Hindus travel to the Ganges to wash themselves in its water. By simply washing in the Ganges, they believe that they can be cleansed of all evil and receive passage into heaven. Last year, in one month alone, during the festival of Kumbha Mela, over 50 million Hindus traveled near to the place where I am standing in this video below to bathe in the Ganges. Ironically, this river is considered by others to be one of the dirtiest rivers of the world. A recent article in The Economist called the Ganges River a “brown soup of excrement and industrial effluents.”

All of this to say…it was overwhelming to come to this site and to see masses of people—from all over India and around the world—flocking to filthy water that they hope will cleanse them from all their sin and sickness. As I looked across the river, I was gripped by the grace of Christ, whose blood alone can wash away sin, and I was overwhelmed by the need of those whose minds have been so blinded from seeing the salvation that only comes from Him.

We were not able to stay at the Ganges long, for we were on the way to catch a plane to another city. We have now arrived at this other city in eastern India, and we are about to go into a very poor, rural here to gather together with about 400-500 villagers. As you go to bed this evening, we will be going out to preach the gospel in this village. Amidst overwhelming lostness, please pray that God will show His power in the gospel by cleansing people of all their sin through the blood of Christ today.

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:4-5

Watch David Platt sermon ‘The cost of following Jesus‘ at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

A bitter rift among Atheists? (via) SkyeBox

I came across this interesting article  by Skye Jethani titled Atheism Has Fundamentalists Too.(It was written 1 year ago, but valid today for its information. Did you know atheists now celebrate Blasphemy Day?)

If you landed on this page and have no belief in God, I invite you to read my tab at the top of the blog page-titled God and the Gospel.  And if you would like to listen to some Christian Philosophers (we call them Christian Apologists) visit this page and listen to Ravi Zacharias or Alvin Plantinga. Watch Jesus among other Gods a lecture with visual effects by Ravi Zacharias to understand how we, as Christians view God among all the other gods of this world. And if you wish, feel free to leave a comment.

Atheism Has Fundamentalists Too

The rift between traditional and „new” atheists show all the signs of a church schism.

Popular “New Atheists” like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins and proving to be controversial reformers among faithful atheists. In a rift that seems more reminiscent of a church schism, traditional atheists are increasingly uncomfortable with the flame-throwing rhetoric of the new atheists.

For example, Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair and author of the book God Is Not Great, told a capacity crowd at the University of Toronto, “I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right.” His words were greeted with hoots of approval.

Religion is “sinister, dangerous and ridiculous,” Hitchens tells NPR, because it can prompt people to fly airplanes into buildings, and it promotes ignorance. Hitchens sees no reason to sugarcoat his position.

“If I said to a Protestant or Quaker or Muslim, ‘Hey, at least I respect your belief,’ I would be telling a lie,” Hitchens says.

A full report on the rift among atheists can be read on NPR’s website. The story recounts how the new atheists are no longer content with a live-and-let-live approach to those adhering to religious beliefs. Instead, they are on the march to demean and destroy the religious faith of others.

Last month (2009), atheists marked Blasphemy Day at gatherings around the world, and celebrated the freedom to denigrate and insult religion.

Skye Jethani concludes:

You can’t help but see the irony in this. The new atheists are becoming the very thing that they hate about religion–intolerant, militant, dogmatic, and aggressive. This only shows that anything can become a religion, even anti-religion, and twisted. The problem isn’t religion, but the broken human beings who practice it–including Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.

click here to read the entire article.

Jesus vs. Religion by Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll is Pastor of Mars Hill Church in one of the most unchurched areas of the United States- Seattle Washington and he is also founder of the Resurgence and the Acts 29 Network. Acts 29 is a movement of church-planting networks that empowers men to lead churches and make disciples of all people groups. Not to be confused with a model or a style, Acts 29 is focused on advancing the mission of Jesus by obediently planting churches that, in turn, plant more churches.

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