Open Mic Thread 41


The open mic thread is where you have the floor and can raise or discuss issues of your choice. There is no such thing as off-topic here. The comments of this thread are free for you to:

  • Discuss things that you have been reading/listening to/watching recently
  • Share interesting links
  • Share stimulating discussions in comment threads
  • Ask questions
  • Put forward a position for more general discussion
  • Tell us about yourself and your interests
  • Publicize your blog, book, conference, etc.
  • Draw our intention to worthy thinkers, charities, ministries, books, and events
  • Post reviews
  • Suggest topics for future posts
  • Use as a bulletin board
  • Etc.

Over to you!

As I am currently taking a break both from standard blogging and from commenting, I won’t be participating in these threads for a few months.

Earlier open mic threads:
123456789101112131415161718192021222324, 25,26,27,28,29,30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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14 Responses to Open Mic Thread 41

  1. quinnjones2 says:

    ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ – and this ‘ I know’ is on my mind following a conversation I had yesterday with a man who defined himself as an atheist and who used the words ‘I know’ in a different context.
    The man is a member of our NT Greek class and he says that he studies the Bible ‘for scientific reasons’ – he did a masters degree in nuclear physics. On our walk to the bus stop after the class yesterday he told me that if I knew enough about science, I could not possibly believe in God. I will never know enough about science, and I think that there is far more yet to be learned about it than any one of us could learn in a lifetime – we are ‘dwarves on the shoulders of giants’ and build on the learning and discoveries of those who went before us, and those who follow us will build on the learning and discoveries of the great minds of today.
    Yet this man insisted that he already knows enough about science to ‘know’ that there is no god and that we all came into existence by some sort of fluke. In my experience, scientists usually back up claims with scientific proof, and I made as bold as to say to this man that to the best of my knowledge no scientist can provide scientific proof that there is no god, just as I can provide no scientific proof that God exists. My companion replied, ‘I don’t need to prove it – I know.’
    So there it is – he ‘knows’ that there is no god, and I ‘know’ that my Redeemer lives.
    My companion asked me if I pray. I told him that prayer is central to my life. He told me that prayer can’t change anything, because everything is subject to unchangeable scientific patterns.
    I thought of Eric Morecombe’s line, ‘There’s no answer to that!’ – well, no answer that might convince someone who does not believe in prayer!
    So I keep praying, because God hears all who call on Him – I know!
    I initially started to write this on my own blog page but then I decided not to, mainly because the man I have mentioned here is identifiable (and I actually quite like him) and I don’t think it would be right for me to put my thoughts about this in the Twittersphere, but also because I would probably find it even more difficult to fence any adverse comments on Twitter than I did in one-to-one, face-to-face contact with this man.
    So thank you, Alastair, for your Open Mike thread, because it has given me a chance to air my thoughts on this semi-openly – i.e. not Twitter-openly!
    I know you are on a break now – but thank you anyway.
    ‘I know that my Redeemer lives.’

    • William Fehringer says:

      I did my degree in physics. “I know” very well-regarded Ph.D’s who are believers. Also “I know” that an advanced degree in Physics is no indication that one knows logic.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        Thank you – that’s helpful. So next time my classmate tries to blind me with science, I think I might try to be all three wise monkeys rolled into one :-). Yet I am still wondering how best to speak about my faith to a self-defined atheist. I have thought on occasions that some things are ‘beyond words’ ( and maybe also ‘beyond logic’?) and I thought it again today when I was offered a bag of Jerusalem artichokes by a friend at our fellowship group. I’ve never even seen them before and I thought that they were rather ugly little things, but I hoped that what they lacked in appearance they might make up for in taste. But no one could tell me how they taste! Fair enough – I can’t even describe the taste of a mushroom to anyone…but I can identify a mushroom by its taste. So when it comes to the taste of mushrooms, I can identify but not describe, and I am a linguist.
        I just thought of this:
        ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good’. Psalm 34:8
        All I am doing at this stage is just noting the use of the word ‘taste’ in this context 🙂

      • quinnjones2 says:

        After I posted my earlier comment I scrolled down my Twitter timeline and saw the title ‘Erotic Atheism’ in Alastair’s Links. I wanted to put a paper bag over my head and pretend that I hadn’t really seen it, but then I did read it, and I also read some of the 140 comments on it – quite a lot of feathers flying around in that comments section!
        I did especially like the following statement by the author, Marc:
        ” If ‘the desire for God is written in the human heart’, then a negation as much as an affirmation must be a matter of the heart. As evidence, though certainly not proof, I would ask negatively: If this is not the negation of a person already experienced as a desire of the heart, then who, precisely, does the atheist say ‘does not exist’? ”
        According to my atheist classmate, the god who does not exist is one who, according to the Bible, created heaven and earth, spoke directly to men described as prophets, answered (and still answers) prayer, and had a son who performed miracles.
        This classmate told me that he originally wanted to study theology and that he wanted to go on and be ordained, but then became disillusioned. I have often suspected that Richard Dawkins’ quarrel is more with his Catholic upbringing than it is with God, and I am trying very, very hard not to leap to similar conclusions about my classmate!

      • William Fehringer says:

        As it turns out, PEG wrote a piece on physicist Lawrence Krauss:

      • quinnjones2 says:

        Thank you for the link – it’s superb. I’ll read it again later more slowly and more thoroughly, but just for now I have this very unscientific and probably un-Christian comment to make about ‘that Krauss man’:
        If he were a wasp, and if I could get near to him, I’d swat him 😉

      • quinnjones2 says:

        I have now re-read the article and I realise that I am completely biased in favour of it and would probably find it difficult to write a dispassionate commentary on it. I am completely convinced by the words of St. Paul in Romans 8, and I think that anyone who is not convinced by this is wrong. Yet as recently (well, recently in my lifetime) as 23 years ago, I was not convinced. So I sympathise with people who are not convinced – but I still think that they are wrong. So when I read the first few paragraphs of this article, I found myself nodding my head. Yet these paragraphs are full of assertions and value judgements and if an atheist were to say such things to me in defence of his/her atheism, I would object.
        For instance this: ‘There are good books and bad books, and then there are necessary books’ – who shall judge which books are good, bad, or necessary, and who shall judge the judge?
        I must confess that I get bit lost with discussions about ‘religion’ and ‘dogma’, and I was never very good at physics and algebra at school (I managed to get ‘O’ levels and then heaved a sigh of relief and did not give much more thought to either subject). I also know little about metaphysics. So I am not in a position to comment on the parts of the article which touch on these subjects. But I remain chagrined if anyone ( such as my atheist classmate) insists that my lack of knowledge of these subjects somehow disqualifies me from making a decision about whether or not there is a god. I imagine that countless people are in a similar position to me in this respect, and thankfully, God does not disqualify us – he gives us the gift of faith.
        Overall, without understanding many of the points made in the article, I enjoyed reading it. I like the passion and the conviction – and, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m biased in favour of the author’s viewpoint anyway, and I totally agree that anyone who is a militant atheist is ‘spouting nonsense’.
        I pray that God will give the gift of faith to Krauss et al.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        I think I need to add:
        ‘…and that they will receive the gift of faith, with thankful hearts.’

  2. Alex says:

    I’m wondering if anyone here has certain TV shows they enjoy and recommend.

  3. Alex says:

    I’m curious folks’ thoughts on the value of reading popular fiction. I’m thinking Stephen King, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Ian Rankin – stuff like that. Do you see this as a productive habit? Alastair, I know you read a ton – do you ever include popular novels like these?

  4. Pingback: Open Mic Thread 42 | Alastair's Adversaria

  5. Pingback: Open Mic Thread 43 | Alastair's Adversaria

  6. Pingback: Open Mic Thread 44 | Alastair's Adversaria

  7. Pingback: Open Mic Thread 45 | Alastair's Adversaria

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