Tag Archives: Meaning

Walt Russell explains how to read the Bible effectively

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

Dr. Walt Russell’s book on the subject of interpreting the Bible is called “Playing With Fire: How the Bible Ignites Change in Your Soul“. I like that book, but I found four articles that summarize the main points of the book so people can understand how to read the Bible at a high livel.

Here is part one which talks about how postmodern relativism is at odds with discovering the original intent of an author.

Excerpt:

Twenty-four year-old “Janet” (not her real name) was angry at my emphasis on seeking to discover authors’ intentions when we read their texts. She was an evangelical Christian and a second grade teacher in a public school. She prided herself in helping her 20 students learn to love literature. She would read them a story as they gathered around her, and then ask each child, “What does the story mean to you?” She prodded them to come up with their own unique meanings. With such strong encouragement, the class of 20 would eventually have 20 different meanings for the one story. Janet sensed that I was a naysayer about such “love of literature.” Pouring a little emotional gasoline on the fire, I said, “Janet, you’re certainly doing your part to insure that these 7 year-olds will never recover from a radically relativistic view of meaning!” Now I had her full attention.

Here is part two which talks about the importance of knowing the genre of a text before you try to interpret it.

Excerpt:

“INDIANS SLAY TIGERS!” — the newspaper headline virtually screams out at you. The thought of something being slain is repulsive. You’re gripped by a mental image of southern India’s Bengal tiger. You imagine its beautiful face, its stripes and piercing eyes. Then your image is shattered by the sudden blast of a high-powered rifle. You see the exquisite creature writhe in pain, fall gracelessly in its tracks and die. Having read no further than the headline, you feel sick, as if you’ve witnessed something tragic.

But should you feel this way? The slaughter of an endangered species — especially one as magnificent as the Bengal tiger — is horrifying, no doubt. But suppose you failed to notice that the headline “INDIANS SLAY TIGERS!” appeared in the sports page of the morning paper. Clearly enough, it now refers to different Indians, different Tigers and a different manner of slaying than you originally thought. And is it really that tragic that the Cleveland Indians badly beat the Detroit Tigers in a major league baseball game last night? Not unless you’re a long-suffering Detroit Tigers’ baseball fan. But how do you now know that the headline is about baseball and not tiger-slaying in India? You look at the words “INDIANS SLAY TIGERS” and you know exactly what each word means. When you combine these words, how can they not mean exactly what you first thought they did — that Indians slay tigers? Answer: because their meanings are communicated (as the meanings of all words are) through genres!

Here is part three which talks about the importance of reading the context of a verse before you try to interpret it.

Excerpt:

“Never Read a Bible Verse!” That’s the title of a little booklet my friend and Christian radio personality, Gregory Koukl, has written to help people read the Bible well. What great advice. “That’s right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph — at least.” But the current is flowing the other way in our popular sound-bite culture. Not to be left out (or left behind!), the Church has its own version of sound-bite culture: verse-bite culture. In verse-bite culture we take a sentence or sentence-fragment from a biblical paragraph, memorize it out of context, write it on a little card, put it on a billboard, a plaque, a rock, etc. Somehow we think that just because this little chunk of Scripture has a verse number in front of it, it was meant to be a free-standing unit of thought. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Apart from the fact that chapter and verse divisions weren’t added to the New Testament text until 1560 — long after the New Testament’s inspired authorship — there is a more important reason for never reading just a Bible verse, and instead reading at least the paragraph that contains it.

Here is part four which talks about the importance of applying the words of the Bible to your life.

One verse that is often misinterpreted is missing from the articles, but present in the STR lecture. It’s Philippians 1:6 that says “6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. Russell says in the lecture that this promise is specifically intended for the church in Philippi, to whom Paul is writing, not necessarily to all Christians. He is giving them a promise just after directly referring to their good work in supporting him in his ministry. Some verses are just not meant for us, and the context reveals it.

Famous pick-up artist Roosh V urges men not to act like clowns for casual sex

Fifty Shades of Grey was very popular with women
Fifty Shades was popular with women, including “Christian” women – why?

Is it meaningful and rewarding for men to spend their time and money pursuing casual sex? I would expect that men who tried and failed to obtain casual sex to say that it’s a waste of time and money. But what about a man who was so successful at obtaining casual sex that he wrote bestselling books about it? Did he find his achievements meaningful in the end?

Roosh V is a well-known pick-up artist who is a master at seducing women. He’s traveled all over the world and seduced many women from many countries.

In a post from April 2019, he reaches a startling conclusion about his success:

I began pursuing women for mostly sexual reasons in 2001. I must’ve logged tens of thousands of hours into the task. I’ve been also traveling or living abroad near continuously since 2007. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to fornicate, fornicating, traveling to more effectively fornicate, and writing over a million words about fornication. What did I learn from all that? It’s an experience that gets more dull with repetition, like any other experience. However, it also leaves you with a massive hangover where you find yourself at a loss. What was the point of all that? Is there anything I’ve truly gained? What lasting glory have I achieved? If I wasn’t a writer, I would have nothing to “show” for my efforts besides memories that are as likely to make me cringe as give me happiness.

If society were healthy, and if women were more traditional, most of my time would have been spent writing different kinds of books, maybe concerning religion or history. I would have a family, and spend much of my time nurturing the love between them without degenerate interference from the government or cultural elites. […]While there is nothing in life that is solid, my family and community would give me a stronger feeling of continuity. Tomorrow, things that are likely to be here would still be there, compared to the easy-come-easy-go modern lifestyle where putting your penis inside a girl is not even close to a guarantee you’ll see her again, and where any job you have, or apartment you live in, is as transitory as the next bus that rolls down the street.

[…]As I approach 40 years of age, I see most of my hedonistic and travel pursuits as expensive life lessons than a source of meaning. My nature, and I believe the nature of most masculine men I meet, is one of creation, strength, and provision for family, things we’re increasingly not allowed to do, or allowed to do only at impossible cost.

Indeed. Speaking for myself, one of the main reasons that I’ve avoided casual sex (or premarital sex of any kind) is because from earliest days, I could not stomach the idea of a woman that I had sex with walking away. So, my education, career and finance decisions were oriented to winning the heart of one woman who would commit to me for life, so that we could built something nice for the Lord together.

In another post, from March 2014, Roosh explains why casual sex didn’t provide him with validation:

There is definitely not a single woman alive in the Western world who needs a man. While in the past a woman had to put forth effort to obtain a husband who would help her survive, today she is protected by a welfare state that ensures she will never go hungry or spend one night on the street.

[…]From a young age, girls are brainwashed to believe that they don’t need men and that the key to their happiness is self-empowerment by sleeping around and becoming a corporate wage slave. It’s hard to dispute the notion that a woman who believes she doesn’t need a man won’t make as good of a relationship partner as one who does. She will treat you as a distraction to her more important job, girls’ nights out, and social networking validation happy time. Men have become an utterly replaceable and expendable commodity in a girl’s life. Her interest in a man is not unlike her interest in a new television show or Apple product, and your only hope is to have sex with her as many times as possible until her attraction diminishes and she moves on to the next guy in line.

Women don’t seek out comfort or stability in men anymore—they seek entertainment. They seek distraction. They seek hedonistic pleasure. […]Once the entertainment or novelty you provide her declines—and it inevitably will—she moves on to something or someone else. In essence, the only way you can keep a girl is if you adopt the mentality of a soap opera writer, adding a cliffhanger to the end of each episode that keeps a woman interested when being a good man no longer does.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see a man who has improved himself over the years to be the best that his genes allow—I see a glittery skirt that a girl encounters in the mall. Is the skirt too expensive or is it on sale? Is there only one left of her size or is the rack full of them? Does she already have something similar or is it totally novel? Does her friends think it’s cute or just alright? After trying it on, does it flatter her body or make her look fat? Either she makes the impulsive decision to buy the skirt or not, because odds are she won’t come back for it. There are so many stores with so many skirts that she will soon forget it, forever. We are like glittery pieces of fashion to women—items that she truly doesn’t need. Not only has she already collected so many of them, but she can easily obtain more within walking distance from where she lives. She can even browse online from home while in her pajamas through a nearly unlimited selection.

We are not men in the traditional sense—we are clowns.

Well, I’m a virgin who never spent money or time pursuing casual sex, and precisely because I refuse to be any woman’s clown. It’s very easy for a man to not be a woman’s clown. All he has to do is choose a woman who will let him lead her, instead of a woman who wants him to entertain her. Women use the offer of premarital sex in order to get men to stop trying to lead them. Men who don’t mind acting like clowns in order to get sex will take this bargain. Men who expect women to rise up to the roles of wife and mother will reject the bargain. A Christian man’s goal is to lead a woman away from her self-centeredness, feelings, desires and need for peer-approval, so that she can perform the roles of wife and mother.

How to avoid becoming a clown for casual sex

So, let me give some advice for men about how to get into relationships where they can lead a woman upward, and avoid becoming her clown. It begins and ends with the woman you choose, because some women will let you lead, while others will not.

Research (here, here) shows that women who are virgins are more likely to be content in their marriages, and therefore less likely to financially ruin you with a frivolous divorce. Therefore, women who are virgins are to be preferred. Women who abstain from alcohol, drugs and tattoos should be preferred. Women who have a conservative father who they have respected should be preferred. Women who have STEM degrees should be preferred. Women who are debt-free should be preferred. Women who have challenging STEM careers in the private sector should be preferred. Women who don’t want to outsource the education of their children to daycare, public schools, etc. should be preferred. Women who want three or more children should be preferred. Women who think that a man’s earnings should not be taxed to pay for husband-substitute social programs should be preferred. Women who have demonstrated public opposition to no-fault divorce, premarital sex, abortion and same-sex marriage should be preferred. Women who blame and shame other women for choosing hot bad boys should be preferred. Women who can demonstrate knowledge of intermediate-level science apologetics (e.g. Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Behe, Hugh Ross, etc.) should be preferred. (Philosophical and historical apologetics are useful, but are not forceful enough in a debate). Women who avoid fun and thrills (beaches, FOMO travel, reading fiction, thrill-seeking, etc.) should be preferred. Women who serve others (elderly, disabled, etc.) should be preferred.

Basically, you’re looking for someone who is comfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations. You’re looking for someone who respects your demonstrated ability in areas like education, career and finance. (You have led other people to do well in education, career, finances, ministry, etc. right?) You’re looking for someone who lets her logical reasoning override her feelings and intuitions when she makes decisions.

The retreat from male leadership

It used to be the case that you could count on pastors to warn Christian men about wasting their time and money on women who wanted them to be clowns instead of leaders. Even the progressive fideist John Piper wrote against women rebelling against male leadership way back in 1983. Men used to be wary of this desire of women to usurp the leadership role from men. But today, it seems like men are anxious to dance to a woman’s tune – reducing themselves to spineless commodities, like a pair of shoes or a handbag. But men were not designed to be women’s accessories, men were designed to lead. When you tell a woman no to premarital sex, there is the possibility of leading her out of the pig sty of feminism and socialism. But if you say yes to her, you become her clown. If you waste all your 20s and 30s clowning for casual sex, you will have no meaningful legacy.  To any man who works for the Lord, this is unacceptable. Christian men, you were bought at a price, and you are expected to produce a return.

Therefore, focus your attention on an early marriage to a good woman, and avoid the hot bad girls who just want to pump and dump you for their own pointless entertainment. If you can’t find a decent wife, then it’s better to remain a virgin and put points on the board some other way.

Andy Bannister and Michael Ruse discuss how atheists find meaning in life

Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!
Two horses fight it out, and may the best horse win!

I’m summarizing the most recent episode of the Unbelievable show.

Details:

Atheist philosopher Michael Ruse joins Justin as we spend a second week looking at Andy Bannister’s new book ‘The atheist who didn’t exist’.

Its amusingly titled chapters include ‘The Peculiar Case of the Postmodern Penguin (or: Why Life without God is Meaningless). Michael and Andy debate whether it’s a problem that atheists can’t have meaning with a ‘capital M’.

Here is a summary of the discussion between Ruse and Bannister, and my comments below the summary.

The MP3 file is here.

Summary:

  • Ruse: ultimate questions are serious questions, and some religions are attempting to provide serious answers to those questions
  • Ruse: there is a psychological element to belief in God but it’s not a complete explanation, but it can apply to non-belief as well
  • Bannister: there are psychological reasons why people would prefer unbelief (quotes Thomas Nagel and Aldous Huxley)
  • Bannister: (to Ruse) what do you think would follow next if you got new information that caused you to believe in God?
  • Ruse: I’d feel scared, I’d think of all the reasons that God would dislike me, rather than any reasons why God would save me
  • Bannister: according to the Bible, God is not so much interested in mere belief, but in active trust in him
  • Ruse: without being smug, I just completed 50 years as a college professor of philosophy, and I have a sense of worth from that
  • Ruse: if God turns up, and says that 50 years of being a professor is not good enough, well, I don’t know God, I’m sorry, I did my best
  • Brierley: Andy, explain to us this story of how a penguin explained to you how he invented a subjective meaning in life for himself?
  • Brierley: (reads the story)
  • Bannister: when it comes to reading a book, the real meaning is the meaning the author intended the book to have
  • Bannister: readers can inject their own meaning into the book that has nothing to do with it, but the author gives the real meaning
  • Bannister: meaning in life is like reading a book – you can make up your own meaning, but the author’s meaning is the real meaning
  • Brierley: (to Ruse) on atheism, is there any objective meaning?
  • Ruse: “obviously, someone like myself cannot have meaning with a capital M in that sense”
  • Ruse: the real question is and atheist can find a sense of self-worth, “I find that I’m happier within myself, I can find meaning”
  • Bannister: what would you say to someone who drinks away the family inheritance and gets the same sense of happiness you have?
  • Bannister: what would you say to all the people who are unable to get “a sense of self-worth” from their career, because of where they are born, sickness, etc.
  • Ruse: I have nothing to offer them, some people are born into such awful situations that they are bound to be bad people
  • Ruse: these unfair accidents of birth, etc.,  fits with atheism better
  • Ruse: what we should do is change society so that more people can build a sense of self-worth through achievements
  • Ruse: that way, they can say to God “I used my talents” so they can create feelings of self-worth and happiness (apart from God)
  • Bannister: meaning in life cannot be answered without answering questions related to identity, value, which are rooted in the overall worldview
  • Bannister: on the Christian worldview, you have an infinite worth, your value isn’t determined by circumstances, earnings, friends, etc.
  • Bannister: your value comes from what Jesus was willing to pay to save you, namely, giving his own life for you
  • Bannister: when I travel to meet other Christians in other parts of the world, they have a happiness that should not be there if they are getting happiness from wealth, fame, achievements, etc.
  • Bannister: but when you come to the West, many people who have wealth, fame, achievement, etc. are unhappy
  • Ruse: well maybe who look after a flock of sheep every day may get a sense of self-worth from that, or from other jobs
  • Ruse: I do take Christianity very seriously, it is a grown-up proposal to answer grown-up questions – it works if it is true
  • Ruse: we don’t have to follow Nietzche’s statement that if there is no God, there is no meaning in life – we can find a middle way, we can achieve meaning in life by using our talents to achieve things
  • Bannister: I disagree with Michael, I don’t think that the meaning you invent for yourself is authentic meaning
  • Bannister: distracting yourself with amusing things and happiness is not an answer to the problem
  • Brierley: (to Ruse) are you saying that you have searched for ultimate meaning, and you are settling for subjective meaning?
  • Ruse: my subjective meaning is not second class to objective meaning, “I feel a real deep sense of achievement, of meaning, of self-worth, of having used my talents properly, and I don’t feel in any sense a sense of regret” (what matters to him is how he feels)
  • Bannister: notice how Michael keeps bringing in value judgments. e.g. – “use my talents well”, that implies that there is a right way and a wrong to use your talents, which assumes an objective scale of right and wrong, which makes no sense in atheism
  • Bannister: an atheist can sit in a sun room and enjoy the feelings of happiness generated by the light and heat of the Sun, without asking whether there is a Sun out there
  • Bannister: ultimately, at the end of the day, my concern is not whether something makes me happy or makes me feel fulfilled
  • Bannister: ultimately, at the end of the day, I think there is only one real reason to wrestle with these questions of meaning, and that is to find truth
  • Ruse: sometimes we reach a point where we cannot get to true answers to some questions, sometimes we look for truth, but then give up and confess “I cannot find it” and then move on from there

Is it possible to dispense with God’s advice on your decision-making and achieve something that affects a lot of people, or makes people like you, or makes you famous, etc., and then have that please God? “Look, God, I did something I liked that affected a lot of people, and made them feel happy as they were on their way to Hell because they rejected you”. Will rap musicians answer God by pointing to 50 years of leading people away from chastity with godless music? A lot of people went to see the “NWA” movie that celebrated musicians who have an anti-Christian view of women and violence. Can NWA present their “artistic work” to God and claim that God should be pleased with their successful efforts to get rich and famous? Having feelings of achievement doesn’t mean anything to God.

So what is the standard? How you imitate Jesus – self-control, self-denial and self-sacrifice to honor God – that is the standard. If I had to choose between giving up two hours of my life to summarize this discussion for my readers, and all the fame and fortune that people who make godless TV shows, movies and music have, I would choose to make this debate summary. My goal in life is not to have fun, thrills, travel and feel happy in this world. I have a Boss. Doing without fun, thrills, travel and happy feelings in order to put points on the board for my Boss is objectively meaningful. It’s may not seem like much compared to what James Bond does in million-dollar movies, but at least I am wearing the right uniform, and playing for the right team.

I was telling Dina recently, isn’t it remarkable how rarely in our culture that people actually talk about the big questions? If you look out at the culture, everything seems to be about feeling good, having fun, being liked by others. Not much about ultimate questions, and certainly not a truth-based assessment of the alternatives. .

Famous pick-up artist Roosh V urges men not to act like clowns for casual sex

Fifty Shades of Grey was very popular with women
Fifty Shades was popular with women, including “Christian” women – why?

Is it meaningful and rewarding for men to spend their time and money pursuing casual sex? I would expect that men who tried and failed to obtain casual sex to say that it’s a waste of time and money. But what about a man who was so successful at obtaining casual sex that he wrote bestselling books about it? Did he find his achievements meaningful in the end?

Roosh V is a well-known pick-up artist who is a master at seducing women. He’s traveled all over the world and seduced many women from many countries.

In a post from April 2019, he reaches a startling conclusion about his success:

I began pursuing women for mostly sexual reasons in 2001. I must’ve logged tens of thousands of hours into the task. I’ve been also traveling or living abroad near continuously since 2007. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to fornicate, fornicating, traveling to more effectively fornicate, and writing over a million words about fornication. What did I learn from all that? It’s an experience that gets more dull with repetition, like any other experience. However, it also leaves you with a massive hangover where you find yourself at a loss. What was the point of all that? Is there anything I’ve truly gained? What lasting glory have I achieved? If I wasn’t a writer, I would have nothing to “show” for my efforts besides memories that are as likely to make me cringe as give me happiness.

If society were healthy, and if women were more traditional, most of my time would have been spent writing different kinds of books, maybe concerning religion or history. I would have a family, and spend much of my time nurturing the love between them without degenerate interference from the government or cultural elites. […]While there is nothing in life that is solid, my family and community would give me a stronger feeling of continuity. Tomorrow, things that are likely to be here would still be there, compared to the easy-come-easy-go modern lifestyle where putting your penis inside a girl is not even close to a guarantee you’ll see her again, and where any job you have, or apartment you live in, is as transitory as the next bus that rolls down the street.

[…]As I approach 40 years of age, I see most of my hedonistic and travel pursuits as expensive life lessons than a source of meaning. My nature, and I believe the nature of most masculine men I meet, is one of creation, strength, and provision for family, things we’re increasingly not allowed to do, or allowed to do only at impossible cost.

Indeed. Speaking for myself, one of the main reasons that I’ve avoided casual sex (or premarital sex of any kind) is because from earliest days, I could not stomach the idea of a woman that I had sex with walking away. So, my education, career and finance decisions were oriented to winning the heart of one woman who would commit to me for life, so that we could built something nice for the Lord together.

In another post, from March 2014, Roosh explains why casual sex didn’t provide him with validation:

There is definitely not a single woman alive in the Western world who needs a man. While in the past a woman had to put forth effort to obtain a husband who would help her survive, today she is protected by a welfare state that ensures she will never go hungry or spend one night on the street.

[…]From a young age, girls are brainwashed to believe that they don’t need men and that the key to their happiness is self-empowerment by sleeping around and becoming a corporate wage slave. It’s hard to dispute the notion that a woman who believes she doesn’t need a man won’t make as good of a relationship partner as one who does. She will treat you as a distraction to her more important job, girls’ nights out, and social networking validation happy time. Men have become an utterly replaceable and expendable commodity in a girl’s life. Her interest in a man is not unlike her interest in a new television show or Apple product, and your only hope is to have sex with her as many times as possible until her attraction diminishes and she moves on to the next guy in line.

Women don’t seek out comfort or stability in men anymore—they seek entertainment. They seek distraction. They seek hedonistic pleasure. […]Once the entertainment or novelty you provide her declines—and it inevitably will—she moves on to something or someone else. In essence, the only way you can keep a girl is if you adopt the mentality of a soap opera writer, adding a cliffhanger to the end of each episode that keeps a woman interested when being a good man no longer does.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see a man who has improved himself over the years to be the best that his genes allow—I see a glittery skirt that a girl encounters in the mall. Is the skirt too expensive or is it on sale? Is there only one left of her size or is the rack full of them? Does she already have something similar or is it totally novel? Does her friends think it’s cute or just alright? After trying it on, does it flatter her body or make her look fat? Either she makes the impulsive decision to buy the skirt or not, because odds are she won’t come back for it. There are so many stores with so many skirts that she will soon forget it, forever. We are like glittery pieces of fashion to women—items that she truly doesn’t need. Not only has she already collected so many of them, but she can easily obtain more within walking distance from where she lives. She can even browse online from home while in her pajamas through a nearly unlimited selection.

We are not men in the traditional sense—we are clowns.

Well, I’m a virgin who never spent money or time pursuing casual sex, and precisely because I refuse to be any woman’s clown. It’s very easy for a man to not be a woman’s clown. All he has to do is choose a woman who will let him lead her, instead of a woman who wants him to entertain her. Women use the offer of premarital sex in order to get men to stop trying to lead them. Men who don’t mind acting like clowns in order to get sex will take this bargain. Men who expect women to rise up to the roles of wife and mother will reject the bargain. A Christian man’s goal is to lead a woman away from her self-centeredness, feelings, desires and need for peer-approval, so that she can perform the roles of wife and mother.

How to avoid becoming a clown for casual sex

So, let me give some advice for men about how to get into relationships where they can lead a woman upward, and avoid becoming her clown. It begins and ends with the woman you choose, because some women will let you lead, while others will not.

Research (here, here) shows that women who are virgins are more likely to be content in their marriages, and therefore less likely to financially ruin you with a frivolous divorce. Therefore, women who are virgins are to be preferred. Women who abstain from alcohol, drugs and tattoos should be preferred. Women who have a conservative father who they have respected should be preferred. Women who have STEM degrees should be preferred. Women who are debt-free should be preferred. Women who have challenging STEM careers in the private sector should be preferred. Women who don’t want to outsource the education of their children to daycare, public schools, etc. should be preferred. Women who want three or more children should be preferred. Women who think that a man’s earnings should not be taxed to pay for husband-substitute social programs should be preferred. Women who have demonstrated public opposition to no-fault divorce, premarital sex, abortion and same-sex marriage should be preferred. Women who blame and shame other women for choosing hot bad boys should be preferred. Women who can demonstrate knowledge of intermediate-level science apologetics (e.g. Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Behe, Hugh Ross, etc.) should be preferred. (Philosophical and historical apologetics are useful, but are not forceful enough in a debate). Women who avoid fun and thrills (beaches, FOMO travel, reading fiction, thrill-seeking, etc.) should be preferred. Women who serve others (elderly, disabled, etc.) should be preferred.

Basically, you’re looking for someone who is comfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations. You’re looking for someone who respects your demonstrated ability in areas like education, career and finance. (You have led other people to do well in education, career, finances, ministry, etc. right?) You’re looking for someone who lets her logical reasoning override her feelings and intuitions when she makes decisions.

The retreat from male leadership

It used to be the case that you could count on pastors to warn Christian men about wasting their time and money on women who wanted them to be clowns instead of leaders. Even the progressive fideist John Piper wrote against women rebelling against male leadership way back in 1983. Men used to be wary of this desire of women to usurp the leadership role from men. But today, it seems like men are anxious to dance to a woman’s tune – reducing themselves to spineless commodities, like a pair of shoes or a handbag. But men were not designed to be women’s accessories, men were designed to lead. When you tell a woman no to premarital sex, there is the possibility of leading her out of the pig sty of feminism and socialism. But if you say yes to her, you become her clown. If you waste all your 20s and 30s clowning for casual sex, you will have no meaningful legacy.  To any man who works for the Lord, this is unacceptable. Christian men, you were bought at a price, and you are expected to produce a return.

Therefore, focus your attention on an early marriage to a good woman, and avoid the hot bad girls who just want to pump and dump you for their own pointless entertainment. If you can’t find a decent wife, then it’s better to remain a virgin and put points on the board some other way.

John Lennox and Paul Davies discuss aliens and the origin of life

Christianity and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

An amazing debate about the origin of life and the cosmic fine-tuning between a Christian and a materialist agnostic. John Lennox is AWESOME in this debate, and he only talks for a tiny part of the debate. He’s very gracious, and focused the discussion on the areas that we care about. Paul Davies is an EXCELLENT scientist and well aware of what Christians believe. This is a great debate, very easy to listen to. Justin, the moderator, does a great job controlling a fantastic discussion.

Details

What does it take for life to get going in our universe? Is there intelligence in the stars or right under our nose? Renowned astrophysicist Paul Davies chats to Oxford Professor of Mathematics John Lennox.

A popular science author, Davies is also the Chair of the SETI post detection task force. His latest book “The Eerie Silence” which marks SETI’s 50th anniversary examines the likelihood of the universe producing life elsewhere.

John Lennox is a Christian Mathematician and philosopher. He is the author of “God’s Undertaker: has science buried God?” and has debated Richard Dawkins on several occasions.

Davies’ work on the fine tuning of the universe for life has been sympathetic to theism. In this programme Lennox challenges Davies to look to design not just in cosmology but in the cell. They also chat about what the discovery of ET would mean for Christian theology.

Summary

Justin:

  • Is there meaning in the universe?

Paul:

  • We have no evidence for or against intelligent life elsewhere in the universe
  • The vastness of the universe makes me think there is life elsewhere
  • Humans are capable of observing and understanding the universe
  • It seems the universe has the ability to create observers to understand it
  • If one species has this ability, then we should expect others to do it

John:

  • The fact that we can observe the universe and do science has cosmic significance
  • Our rare habitable planet and our ability to do science is suggestive of purpose
  • So science itself points to an extra-terrestrial intelligence: GOD
  • The complexity of life and consciousness itself points away from atheism
  • Monotheism gave birth to science
  • Human minds capable of doing science are not compatible with atheistic materialism

Justin:

  • Why do you say that either we are the only life or there are many different kinds of life?

Paul:

  • There are lots of factors that have to be met to have a site for simple life
  • These are related to the fine-tuning of cosmic constants, e.g. gravitational force
  • But there are also factors that have to be met for originating intelligent life
  • Things like convergence, self-organization, etc.
  • So the cosmic requirements and evolutionary requirements are different
  • Darwinian evolution doesn’t solve the problem of the origin of life
  • 50 years ago, skepticism about alien life existing anywhere was excessive
  • Today, credulity about alien life exiting everywhere is excessive
  • The naturalist is searching for a process that creates life easily

John:

  • Paul agrees that there is no theory for a naturalistic origin of life
  • This is fatal for the idea that life can emerge elsewhere in the universe
  • We have not discovered any law that produces life without an intelligence
  • Consider the method used by SETI used to detect an alien intelligence
  • Why can’t this method be applied to the origin of life on Earth?
  • Why can’t an intelligence created specified complexity (functional information)?
  • Why can’t an intelligence created epigenetics and protein folding?

Paul:

  • Darwinian evolution can add new biological information after life begins

John:

  • Darwinian evolution assumes a mutating replicating life form to act on

Paul:

  • You can’t generate specified complexity by using physical laws
  • You can’t generate specified complexity by chance
  • At this point we are guessing as to how life might have formed

John:

  • Why do we have to rule out an intelligent cause a priori
  • If you can recognize an intelligence in outer space, why not in living systems?

Paul:

  • I don’t mind the word “intelligence”, it’s the word “signal”
  • I oppose the idea that God or aliens manipulated physical stuff to create life
  • It’s an “ugly explanation and very unappealing both theologically and scientifically”
  • I prefer the idea that the universe has processes to self-organize and create complexity
  • When it comes to supernatural meddling by God, “I don’t want that”
  • If I were God, I would create the universe so that I would not have to intervene
  • I think God would be more clever if he did not have to intervene
  • My preferences about what is “clever” determines what scientific conclusions are allowed

John:

  • Humans already have experience with their non-material minds to move atoms (matter)
  • If God is a mind, then there is no reason why he cannot move atoms (matter)

Paul:

  • My mind is physical, so are you saying that God is physical?
  • If God intervenes in the universe, then what is he doing now?

John:

  • There is a distinction between acts of creation and providential upholding the universe
  • God is also speaking to people and drawing humans toward him
  • God is spirit, not material

Paul:

  • How can a non-physical entity cause effects on the physical world?

John:

  • What science reveals that there is information needed for the origin of life
  • Information requires an intelligence to create it, just as with human who write books
  • That’s not God of the gaps – it’s an inference based on what we know today

Paul:

  • We may be able to explain the origin of life later, using matter, law and chance
  • What you’re saying is that God tinkers with the genome
  • If you say that God intervened once, then he intervenes all the time, everywhere!
  • I don’t want a God who tinkers in the genome
  • if God could intervene in the universe that would remove its intelligibility

John:

  • Look at the cover of this book – when I read words, I infer an intelligence
  • There are bad gaps that the progress of science closes
  • There are good gaps that science opens, showing the need for intelligence
  • On the one hand, you say we have no theory of the origin of life
  • On the other hand, you know that an intelligent designer wasn’t involved
  • If we don’t know how life began, why do you rule God out a priori?

Paul:

  • What scientists want to do is to explain the universe without involving God
  • naturalists want to use science to discover only materialist explanations
  • The purpose of SETI is to prove that there is other life in the universe
  • This would then show that there is a naturalistic way of making life
  • I agree that information in living systems is real hard to explain materialistically
  • I believe in the power of emergence
  • We might discover laws that prove that complexity can emerge without intelligence
  • The discovery of alien life would help to show that no intelligence is needed to make life

Justin:

  • What sort of cosmic fine-tuning is needed at the Big Bang for life to occur?

Paul:

  • It’s true that the universe appears extremely fine-tuned for life to exist
  • The typical answer from naturalists is that there is a multiverse
  • But the multiverse “falls far short” of providing a good answer to the fine-tuning
  • It’s irrational to appeal to massive numbers of unseen universes to explain fine-tuning
  • The design and purpose seen in the universe may be due to God or it may be emergent

John:

  • The fine-tuning is real and the multiverse is a desperate attempt to evade the creator
  • Sir Martin Rees (an atheist) says he “prefers” the multiverse to a designer
  • Scientists are not supposed to prefer anything except what is true

Justin:

  • Would the discovery of aliens hurt Christianity, because of the belief in the uniqueness of humans?

Paul:

  • Christians believe that Jesus came to save HUMANS specifically, not animals or aliens
  • If we were to discover intelligent aliens, it would challenge traditional religions
  • What will God do with alien races? Multiple incarnations? Or just preach the gospel to them?

John:

  • We don’t know if the aliens exist, first of all – it’s speculative
  • The Bible teaches that humans bear the image of God
  • We just don’t know whether alien species are also made in God’s image