Did the Medieval Church Teach that the Earth Was Flat?

Supplementary Reading for the Earlier Posts:
Is there a War between Science and Religion? – Science and Christianity: Part 1
How the Myth of Warfare between Science and Christianity Began in Victorian England

MYTH
With the decline of Rome and the advent of the Dark Ages, geography as a science went into hibernation, from which the early Church did little to rouse it . . . Strict Biblical interpretations plus unbending patristic bigotry resulted in the theory of a flat earth with Jerusalem in its center, and the Garden of Eden somewhere up country, from which flowed the four Rivers of Paradise.Boise Penrose, Travel and Discovery in the Renaissance (1955)

The authority of the Fathers, and the prevailing belief that the Scriptures contain the sum of all knowledge, discouraged any investigation of Nature . . . the question of the shape of the earth was finally settled by three sailors, Columbus, Da Gama, and above all, by Ferdinand Magellan.John William Draper, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874)

QUESTION
Did people in the Middle Ages think that the world was flat? Certainly the writers quoted above would make us think so. As the story goes, people living in the “Dark Ages” were so ignorant (or so deceived by Catholic priests) that they believed the earth was flat.

DOCUMENTED HISTORICAL FACT
But the reality is more complex than either of these stories. Very few people throughout the Middle Ages believed that the world was flat Continue reading “Did the Medieval Church Teach that the Earth Was Flat?”

How the Myth of Warfare between Science and Christianity Began in Victorian England

Reposted here for easy access*

The image of warfare between science and Christianity was invented by  Victorian scientific naturalists under the leadership of Thomas H. Huxley (otherwise known as Darwin’s bulldog). They believed that nature is a closed system of physical causes and that nature should be explained only with inviolable natural laws (as opposed to supernatural laws or spiritual forces). Huxley and his cohorts concluded that the larger populace was receptive to their attacks against Christianity as there was growing resentment against the Church and parsons who had allied themselves with squires to exploit farmers.

They adopted a two-fold strategy in their campaign to overthrow the cultural dominance of Christianity by replacing Christian supernaturalism with scientific naturalism as the foundation for science and education in a secular society: Continue reading “How the Myth of Warfare between Science and Christianity Began in Victorian England”

Is there a War between Science and Religion? – Science and Christianity: Part 1

I. YES! for Jerry Coyne: “Yes, there is a War between Science and Religion.”

Opposing methods for discerning truth
My [Coyne] argument runs like this. I’ll construe “science” as the set of tools we use to find truth about the universe, with the understanding that these truths are provisional rather than absolute. These tools include observing nature, framing and testing hypotheses, trying your hardest to prove that your hypothesis is wrong to test your confidence that it’s right, doing experiments and above all replicating your and others’ results to increase confidence in your inference…

The conflict between science and faith, then, rests on the methods they use to decide what is true, and what truths result: These are conflicts of both methodology and outcome. Continue reading “Is there a War between Science and Religion? – Science and Christianity: Part 1”

What is Biblical Celebration-Worship?

Celebration in Contemporary Worship
These days it is not uncommon to come across worship meetings where song leaders vigorously urge the congregation to freely give praise to God in the name of celebration. The songs chosen in these meetings seem to engender a euphoric, if not jubilant mood. Emotional spontaneity becomes palpable with lines of bodies swaying along to the loud beat of the drum. The high point of celebration-worship comes when members are urged to ‘sing in the spirit’ as they follow cues from the musical team giving notes of ‘chords progression’. The crescendo is rounded off with a flourish of ‘clap offering’.

It would be churlish to doubt the appropriateness of celebration-worship today. Christians who have been battered throughout the week need to be emotionally and spiritually recharged, and what better way to recharge them than through celebration in church worship? Indeed, many visitors to church testify that they come because they are attracted by the celebrative spirit of our services. Who can resist the contagion of joy?

Celebration is evidence of the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading “What is Biblical Celebration-Worship?”

A COURSE ON ENGAGING THE HEART & MIND WITH APOLOGETICS

A COURSE ON APOLOGETICS by Dr. Ng Kam Weng
Organized by Malaysia Bible Seminary & Kairos Research Centre

DATES:                 March 18-22, 2019
DAY & TIME:      Monday to Friday 900am – 500pm
VENUE:                 Dream Centre [DUMC]
2 Jalan 13/1, Seksyen 13, 46200, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
CONTACT:           Anne Lim
email [email protected]
TEL 03-6037 1727 0r 012 2234527

We may not pander to the intellectual arrogance of unbelievers, but we must cater to their intellectual integrity since the heart cannot delight in what the mind rejects as false. Apologetics is a form of respectful Christian witness that engages seriously with sincere objections and doubts about the truth claims of Christianity raised by the inquirer. Apologetics is premised on the conviction that the Holy Spirit will act upon the truth that is presented to bring about saving faith

I. COURSE DESCRIPTION
A study of the defense of Christianity, with emphasis on the biblical and theological foundations, methodology, and contemporary challenges to the truth of Christianity.

The course will help students formulate the rational basis for believing in Christian theism, with responses to objections and critiques of competing worldviews. Continue reading “A COURSE ON ENGAGING THE HEART & MIND WITH APOLOGETICS”

Christian Scholarship & Deliverance from Chronological Snobbery

One of the criticisms that ‘progressive’ Christians level at orthodox Christians is that they are anti-intellectual since they oppose the idea of applying insights drawn from critical theory and social sciences to interpret the Bible. This criticism is surely unfounded. For orthodox Christians, “All truth is God’s truth,” and the scholar of the Book should also be a scholar of many other books. As such, they would welcome any interdisciplinary exercise that seeks to enrich our understanding of Bible on its own terms. However,  orthodox Christians who engage in interdisciplinary studies should be clear about their presuppositions and priorities so as to avoid compromising their faith inadvertently.

First, the Bible as the infallible word of God should function as the background controlling belief in the integration of faith and contemporary knowledge like critical theory and social sciences. Continue reading “Christian Scholarship & Deliverance from Chronological Snobbery”

Practising Homosexuals Can Change: A Simple Biblical Argument & Social-Scientific Evidence. Part 2/2

Can Practising Homosexuals Experience Change through Counselling?
A Report by Stanton Jones & Mark Yarhouse.Publication Sources: Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religious Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation. IVP, 2007 and Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate (IVP, 2009).

Summary of research: [Stanton Jones, Same Sex Science, First Things Feb 2012]
We are told that homosexual persons are just as psychologically healthy as heterosexuals, that sexual orientation is biologically determined at birth, that sexual orientation cannot be changed and that the attempt to change it is necessarily harmful, that homosexual relationships are equivalent to heterosexual ones in all important characteristics, and that personal identity is properly and legitimately constituted around sexual orientation. These claims are as misguided as the ridiculed beliefs of some social conservatives, as they spring from distorted or incomplete representations of the best findings from the science of same-sex attraction.

Contrary to the assumptions of many social conservatives, biology does appear to play a modest part in determining sexual orientation. Contrary to the assumptions of many social progressives, psychological and environmental variables also appear to play at least a modest part in determining sexual orientation. In contrast to the hubris of those prone to making emphatic pronouncements, what we do not yet know about the causation of sexual orientation dwarfs the bit that we are beginning to know. And the fact that causation is indubitably a complex and mysterious by-product of the interaction of biological and psychological variables confounds the assertion that sexual orientation is just like skin color, determined at birth or even conception. And contrary to the suggestions of some, the involvement of some biological influence does not prove that change in sexual orientation is impossible. One of our foremost behavior genetics experts, Thomas Bouchard, has argued forcefully that “one of the most unfortunate misinterpretations of the heritability coefficient is that it provides an index of trait malleability (i.e., the higher the heritability the less modifiable the trait is through environmental intervention).” Continue reading “Practising Homosexuals Can Change: A Simple Biblical Argument & Social-Scientific Evidence. Part 2/2”

Practising Homosexuals Can Change: A Simple Biblical Argument & Social-Scientific Evidence. Part 1/2

Question posed by “Fractalist” at the previous postA Scripture-Principled and Pastoral-Sensitive Church Response to Homosexual Activism:
What do you think of the position of the American Psychological Association (APA) which states: “Homosexuality is not a mental disorder” and that “therapies that seek to reduce or eliminate same-gender sexual orientation are under extensive debate in the professional literature and the popular media (Davison, 1991; Haldeman, 1994; Wall Street Journal, 1997)”

Answer
Nowadays, no one would bat an eyelid if a great philosopher like Augustine or Aquinas were to share a gripping account of how the troubled soul can find peace with God. However, people would pay rapt attention to a psychologist who assures them that the self is totally good and is oriented towards growth and creativity, and that the purpose of life is to find one’s deepest self by following one’s “orientation” and forging one’s sexual identity in ways that counter all forms of authority represented by family, traditional social norms and religion. [See Paul Vitz, Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship 2e (Eerdsman, 1994)]

Recently, the high priesthood of humanistic psychology, the American Psychological Association (APA), issued a new dogma that proclaims that homosexuality is natural and should be accepted, if not encouraged. This amounts to a reprise of ancient papal encyclicals. One of the sacred cows in the pantheon of social sciences has spoken. Whoever dares to question its sublime wisdom will be anathematized by its priestly order, the academia. Continue reading “Practising Homosexuals Can Change: A Simple Biblical Argument & Social-Scientific Evidence. Part 1/2”

A Scripture-Principled and Pastoral-Sensitive Church Response to Homosexual Activism

It would be good take note of the background of the ETHOS Forum on Human Sexuality, Marriage & the Church. The Church in Singapore and homosexual activists are locked in a contestation to determine whether homosexuality should be normalized in society. At the centre of this dispute is whether section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, which criminalizes male homosexual sex should be repealed.*

Dr. Roland Chia writes in his latest article published in ETHOS, “Normalizing Homosexuality: How Should Christians Respond?”

The main strategy of these advocates is to convince the world that homosexuality is normal, that people who are same-sex attracted are born that way. Many have appealed to the modern concept of sexual orientation and insist that the genetic and neurological basis for homosexuality is well supported by science.

If homosexual orientation has a biological basis, then discrimination against people with same-sex attraction amounts to bigotry and the infringement of their fundamental rights and liberties – so goes the argument.

How should Christians respond to the obvious agenda of LGBT activists to normalize homosexuality in society? Because of the multi-faceted nature of the LGBT strategy, the Christian response must take different forms and be made at various levels of society.

Continue reading “A Scripture-Principled and Pastoral-Sensitive Church Response to Homosexual Activism”

ETHOS Conference: Human Sexuality, Marriage & the Church

Why is it the case that our local churches have avoided addressing the issue of homosexuality from the pulpit even though homosexuality has become (1) the defining social issue for many young people today, (2) an opportunity for virtue signaling for academicians, and (3) the celebrated cause championed by media celebrities and social activists in the West?

Perhaps, many church leaders hesitate to speak as they do not have adequate knowledge of the psychological and social scientific aspects of homosexuality. Their hesitation is exacerbated when the traditional Christian understanding of sexuality is challenged by sophisticated Western liberal theologians who offer novel readings of the Bible which purportedly support the case for homosexuality. Finally, church leaders are afraid of being accused of lacking pastoral sensitivity, or worse, being judgmental should they uphold the orthodox biblical teaching of heterosexual marriage.

Pastors seeking to be better informed theologically and better equipped  to minister to young people grappling with the issue of sexuality will benefit from  the videos lectures of the 2016 Conference on “Human Sexuality, Marriage & the Church” by ETHOS Institute for Public Christianity (which is sponsored by the Singapore National Council of Churches, Trinity Theological College and the Bible Society of Singapore). Continue reading “ETHOS Conference: Human Sexuality, Marriage & the Church”