Tag Archives: science

Book Giveaway – How I Changed My Mind About Evolution

This week I’m giving a way a free copy of Intervarsity Press and Biologos’ joint effort How I Changed My Mind About Evolution.

how-i-changed-my-mind-about-evolution

So who should read this book? I think there are several people who need to read it:

  1. People who don’t believe that evolution and Christianity can be compatible. I recommend this to them, not because they should read this and “believe.” Rather It would be helpful for them to see that genuine Jesus loving Christians can hold to evolutionary theory (whether or not they are correct).
  2. Those who feel the tension in holding their belief in evolutionary theory and robust evangelical faith. Such people need exemplars who can show the way forward in how to hold both views together.
  3. People who’s “last objection” to becoming a Christian is that they need to check their rational-scientific mind at the door when coming to faith in Christ.

So if you fall into any of those categories I would love to give you a copy of the book. To win a copy of the book all you need to do is one of the following:

  • Tweet out the link to this blog post or the review and mention @Cwoznicki
  • Retweet my tweet about the giveaway
  • Like this post
  • Comment below on how this book would benefit you

I will be selecting one winner soon. Good luck!

Note: You need to live within the US to be eligible to win a copy of this book.

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How I Changed My Mind About Evolution

No, this is not a blog about how I changed my mind about evolution, however it is a blog about a book containing essays from many well known and well respected evangelicals about how they changed their mind about evolution.

This book, edited by Kathryn Applegate and J.B. Stump contains a numerous amount of essays from some significant names like:

  • James K.A. Smith
  • Scot McKnight
  • Ken Fong
  • Tremper Longman III
  • Francis Collins
  • Oliver Crisp
  • John Ortberg
  • N.T. Wright
  • Richard Mouw

Any book with a collection of new essays from authors like those – on any subject would already be incredibly fascinating, let alone on such a contentious subject among evangelicals, like evolution.

Most of the essays in this book are extremely personal, they recount the stories of the contributors’ journey toward accepting evolution as a viable Christian belief about creation. Many of the stories are quite typical, which some readers will find encouraging.how-i-changed-my-mind-about-evolution The story typically goes something like this: 1)I was taught evolution was a godless, anti-Christian theory. 2) I became very interested in “creation science” in order to defend Christianity. 3) I actually began to learn about science and evolution. 4) I was able to reconcile my faith and this belief. 5)Conclusion: evolution, contrary to what I was taught early on, is not a threat to the faith.

One essay in particular, that I found helpful (no surprise here) in understanding the logic behind most of these “evolutions” in belief about creation, was Oliver Crisp’s essay. In his essay he outlines three principles which have helped him reflect upon how faith connects to evolution. The first is that notion of faith seeking understanding. From a position of faith we are committed to understanding our faith. The second is that all truth is God’s truth. Because God is the creator, not truth will actually be a threat to who God is, so we shouldn’t be afraid to seek truth ruthlessly.  Also, this means that in principle our understanding of Scripture and since are compatible, even though we may not yet see how they are compatible. The third is that God is mysterious. Who can fathom God’s ways in providence and creation. He can create in any way he deems necessary.

So who should pick up this book? I think there are several people who need to read it. First, I think that people who don’t believe that evolution and Christianity can be compatible. I recommend this to them, not because they should read this and “believe.” Rather It would be helpful for them to see that genuine Jesus loving Christians can hold to evolutionary theory (whether or not they are correct). Second, those who feel tension in holding their belief in evolutionary theory and robust evangelical faith. Such people need exemplars who can show the way forward in how to hold both views together.  Finally, people who’s “last objection” to becoming a Christian is that they need to check their rational-scientific mind at the door when coming to faith in Christ. As Oliver Crisp’s essay so clearly articulates, all truth is God’s truth. If our faith is true, and evolutionary theory is true, then this poses no threat to God whatsoever.

Book Giveaway

Book Giveaway: I would love to give out a copy of this book to whoever believes it would be helpful to their faith. In order to be eligible to win a copy of this book you can do one of several things (each will constitute one entry).

  1. Tweet out this blog post and mention @cwoznicki
  2. Like this post.
  3. Comment below on how this book would benefit you and your faith.

I will choose one winner very soon. The winner must live within the US in order to be eligible to receive the book.

(Note: I received this book from IVP in exchange for an impartial review)

Fuller Gets $2 Million grant for Analytic Theology

In case you haven’t already heard…

Fuller Theological Seminary is proud to announce the award of a John Templeton Foundation grant to Professor of Systematic Theology Oliver Crisp. A three-year grant that begins September 1, 2015, the award of $2 million will fund a major undertaking in Analytical Theology research.

Analytic Theology (AT) is an approach to theology that seeks integration between theological investigation, on the one hand, and the methods and results of progressive and truth-oriented disciplines such as the empirical sciences and analytic philosophy, on the other. Dr. Crisp and his team, including colleagues Dr. Justin L. Barrett and Rebecca Sok, will be joined by two postdoctoral research fellows, an administrator, and two doctoral students.

The project, titled Prayer, Love, and Human Nature: Analytic Theology for Theological Formation, hypothesizes that AT supplies an intellectual framework for the training and formation of church leaders. This hypothesis will be tested by working on three topics—prayer, divine love, and theological engagement with the science of human origins—with the tools of AT.

Visiting scholars will be invited to collaborate with the Fuller team on these case studies. By the end of the grant in 2018, Crisp and his colleagues hope to show that AT can make a vital contribution to these three areas in the form of seminars, conferences, seminary curriculum, and published research findings.

Congratulations to Dr. Crisp and the rest of the team on the grant and the work ahead! – See more at: http://fuller.edu/About/News-and-Events/Articles/2015/Oliver-Crisp-Awarded-$2-Million-Grant-for-Analytical-Theology-Research/#sthash.Gf11BaMS.dpuf

(HT: Fuller Seminary)

Lost in Transition

“We are going to lose them…”

Those words often get tossed around when church leaders discuss high school students making the transition into college. To a certain extent this is a legitimate worry – there are many factors in play as to why students get lost in transition. This is especially a concern for churches that have both a high school ministry and a college ministry. Naturally there are cultural patterns that influence high school students to disconnect from church as soon as they graduate – but its not only their fault. The church should accept its responsibility and admit that it is partly to blame for why students get lost in transition.

High School Graduation

As summer approaches my church faces the challenge (that many other churches face) of how we are going to help our high school seniors make a successful transition into our college ministry.  But there are several things that we do  to help them make this arduous transition; for instance we make sure that our college ministry and its leaders interact often with the High School ministry – that way the Seniors have some familiar faces when they come into the college ministry. We also encourage some of our college leaders to attend camps/events and hang out with the seniors during the few months before they graduate. These are just a few of many things that we do to help them make this transition, however there are some issues that the American church as a whole needs to address if this generation is going to make the jump from being believers as children and teenagers to being believers as adults. If the church doesn’t address these issues we will have a generation that gets lost in transition…

David Kinnaman, in his latest book You Lost Me, outlines six reasons why so many people in this generation get lost in transition:

  1. Many see the church as overprotective and sheltered.
  2. Many see the church as shallow, including its teaching.
  3. Many see the church as anti-science.
  4. Many see the church as repressive and judgmental.
  5. Many see the church as exclusive.
  6. Many see the church as an unsafe place to express doubt.

It would seem as though this is actually a perception issue, as though the Church has made some bad PR moves and all that needs to happen is that the Church needs to do a better job in how it portrays itself. However the issue is much deeper than that….

Some of these issues spring from the church acting in an un-Christlike manner, prioritizing religion over authentic faith, however some of these issues spring from a clash between the gospel and cultural norms. We know that the church cannot compromise the gospel for the sake of coming in line with cultural norms. However, as the church ensures that we don’t let this generation slip out of our hands we will need to reexamine ourselves and make sure that we aren’t pushing people away because we refuse to let go of religious norms and traditions.

In other words, we need to look at this list and determine which of these factors if any are the logical consequence of the gospel and which of these factors are birthed out of our own tradition and preference.

Book Review – The Soul by J.P. Moreland

It seems as though believing in the soul is out of fashion now a days, even among evangelicals. But J.P. Moreland, an evangelical philosopher, has stood up to defend the traditional Christian belief in the soul in his new book The Soul: How We Know It’s Real and Why it Matters.

According to Moreland, there are four reasons why its worth spending time thinking about the existence of the soul:

  1. First, the Bible seems to teach that consciousness and the soul are immaterial and we need to regard this teaching as genuine knowledge and not as faith commitments that we merely hope are true. (12)
  2. Second, the reality of the soul is important to various ethical issues that crucially involve an understanding of human persons. (15)
  3. Third, the loss of belief in life after death is related to a commitment to the authority of science above theology. But belief in the soul is being scientifically discredited. (17)
  4. Fourth, understanding the immaterial nature of the human spirit is crucial to grasping the essence of spiritual growth. (17)

Building upon these convictions J.P. Moreland attempts to make a case for the immaterial nature of consciousness and the soul without using the Bible, instead he makes a case for the soul through philosophical arguments.

Summary

The book is broken up into five chapters. In the first chapter, Moreland lays some philosophical foundations for discussing the soul. For instance he introduces Leibniz’s law of the indiscernability of identicals, and he introduces the reader into discussions about neuroscience and philosophy. In chapter two, he summarizes what he takes to be key Old and New Testament passages that illustrate the mind/body dualism taught in scripture. This chapter doesn’t exactly argue for substance dualism, but it does argue that this is the biblical position. Chapter three makes a case for property dualism, while defending the position against several objections including the problem of other minds and the problems brought about by a Darwinistic conception of evolution. Moreland also devotes some space to arguing against physicalist accounts of property dualism. Chapter four is the core of the book. In this chapter he makes a case for substance dualism and the immaterial nature of the self. Moreland offers five arguments for the belief in substance dualism. Having established that substance dualism is the correct position regarding the existence of the soul, he makes some philosophical observations regarding what the nature of the soul might be like. He concludes the book with some philosophical thoughts on what the future of human beings might look like if they are in fact souls.

Pros

1-The Soul is a very clear introduction to the topic of dualism. Moreland’s clarity in presenting difficult philosophical positions is probably this book’s greatest strength. At the end of each chapter he provides a summary outlining what his points were and breaking down each argument into its individual parts. Because he does this it will be very easy for those seeking to use this book for apologetic purposes to learn these arguments and/or be ready to respond when people challenge their beliefs.

2-Although his discussion about the state of the soul after death seems a bit out of place, it was one of the most interesting sections in the book. How he handles the doctrine of Hell is philosophically sophisticated (he relies heavily upon Swinburne’s argument for Hell). This section will certainly help readers as they think about the spiritual implications of belief in the soul.

Cons

I believe in substance dualism. In fact I hold to a Cartesian account of substance dualism much like Moreland does. However I think that several of his arguments for this position are actually pretty weak. For instance, he makes an argument for the soul based upon belief in Free Will, Morality, Responsibility, and Punishment. Essentially he argues that if physicalism is true then human free will does not exist – thus determinism is true. If determinism is true then there is no such thing as moral obligation and determinism. This seems to be blatantly false to me. He argues as though the belief that determinism and moral responsibility are incompatible is blatantly obvious. The problem is though that it is not blatantly obvious. Any compatibilist will tell you that determinism and moral responsibility are compatible. Also he makes an argument for the soul based upon the idea that for agency to be meaningful identity has to persist over time, but if we are purely physical then agency is meaningless. Once again, it doesn’t seem so obvious to me that this point is correct. In fact, Jonathan Edwards seems to argue that identity does not persist over time, yet he holds to a strong notion of agency and moral responsibility. All this to say that even though I believe that Moreland is arguing for the correct position, I believe that many of his arguments in this book are quite flawed.

Conclusion

Should you read this book? Yes. If you are looking for some basic arguments for why it is rational to belief in the soul then this book is for you. The book essentially shows that belief in the soul is not irrational and he gives you some good reasons why this is so. However if you are looking for a book that establishes a strong case for the existence of the soul, then I would look elsewhere. There is quite a difference between arguing that a belief is rational and arguing that a belief is rational and correct. This book does the former. So if you are okay with that then pick up this book.

“Only Two Things are Needed” – The Dogmatic Theology of Karl Barth

How does one go about doing theology? What sort of tools are needed? A bible, some books, a library, maybe a good search engine like google or Wikipedia (just joking there). Karl Barth gives us an answer to this question –

What do you need to do theology?

According to Barth, dogmatic theology is a part of the work of human knowledge. Because it is a part of the work of human knowledge it demands some things that all fields of human knowledge demand:

1-“It naturally demands the intellectual faculties of attentiveness and concentration, of understanding and appraisal.” (CD 1.1 Section 1.3)

Yes it demands, intellectual rigor, with all the things involved in that. The dogmatic theologian must utilize his intellectual faculties and give himself entirely to this serious task. However this work of human knowledge is quite unlike other ways of acquiring and outlining human knowledge, e.g. physics, biology, history. Here is what makes dogmatic theology unique:

2-“Over and above this (i.e. intellectual rigor), however, it demands Christian faith.” (CD 1.1 Section 1.3)

This is because Christian theology is the work for the Christian church. As Barth says, there is no possibility for Christian theology outside of the Church. Ultimately Christian theology boils down to our talk about God as mediated through our knowledge of him in Christ. How can one talk about God without knowing Christ? To do so would be, as Barth says, “irrelevant and meaningless…. Even in the case of the most exact technical imitation of what the Church does (or says)… it would be idle speculation without any content of knowledge.”

This Paycheck’s Book Purchases (November 22nd)

My time is running out, marriage is a few short weeks away and I will never be able to buy a book again. Here are the ones I bought with this pay check

Jonathan Edwards’s Bible: The Relationship of the Old and New Testaments by Stephen Nichols

I love Jonathan Edwards. I love typology. I love studying the New Testament use of the Old Testament. I also love Oliver Crisp. Having said that you should probably know by now why I bought this book. It is a book on Jonathan Edwards’s understanding typology and how the NT relates to the OT, with a forward written by Oliver Crisp. Enough said.

Here is the Wipf & Stock book description: New England colonial pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) was well aware of the threat that Deist philosophy posed to the unity of the Bible as Christian Scriptures, yet remarkably, his own theology of the Bible has never before been examined. In the context of his entire corpus this study pays particular attention to the detailed notes Edwards left for “The Harmony of the Old and New Testament,” a “great work” hitherto largely ignored by scholars. Following examination of his “Harmony” notes, a case study of salvation in the Old Testament challenges the current “dispositional” account of Edwards’s soteriology and argues instead that the colonial Reformed theologian held there to be one object of saving faith in Old and New Testaments, namely, Christ.

Reading for Preaching: The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

I preach about 1/2 of the sermons at the college ministry I serve at. Over the years my preaching has gotten better (hopefully). I know I have a pretty intuitive grasp of scripture & I always try to make my sermons point back to Christ. All to say, the content good. However the packaging of my content isn’t so great. I think it can feel stuffy & a bit over-academic. My sermons don’t have much flare. Depending on who you are, that might not seem like much a problem, stick to the text use no illustrations, blah blah blah. But I don’t think that is the best route to take. You don’t want your people to doze off before you give them the real meat of the sermon.  This book offers an argument for how reading, especially non-theological works can make your preaching better. Plus anything written by Cornelius Plantinga is solid gold.

Here is the Amazon description: Plantinga — himself a master preacher — shows how a wide reading program can benefit preachers. First, he says, good reading generates delight, and the preacher who enters the world of delight goes with God. Good reading can also help tune the preacher’s ear for language — his or her primary tool. General reading can enlarge the preacher’s sympathies for people and situations that she or he had previously known nothing about. And, above all, the preacher who reads widely has the chance to become wise.

Preaching Christ Today: The Gospel and Scientific Thinking by T.F. Torrance

I recently raided Archives bookstore at Fuller Seminary, snatching up a bunch of Torrance for a really good price. As I mentioned before I will probably do some further research on Torrance in the future (Th.M or Ph.D) so I want to get a jump on Torrencian literature. On Amazon this book goes for $30, but I bought it for $5.

The description on Amazon isn’t very descriptive though: Biblical scholar, former professor, and author Thomas Torrance suggests that great preaching today not only includes a faithful presentation of the Christian gospel, but that such presentation be expressed in ways that can be appreciated within the modern scientific understanding of the created universe upon which God has impressed his Word.