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”

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”

Debunking Christianity in 5 minutes? Debunking the Debunkers

Link to Dawah video: Debunking Christianity in 5 Minutes by Abdur-Raheem Green, Zakir Naik and Shabir Ally.

The title suggests that Christians should be cowering in fear when they are confronted with a video which features how three prominent dawah polemists debunk Christianity in 5 minutes. However, their criticism fails as it is based on weak logical argument and misplaced attacks on caricatures of Christianity. The confidence of these ‘debunkers’ may mask their ignorance of the rudiments of the Christian understanding of the Incarnation. But their reliance on rhetoric and logical fallacies are easily exposed: Continue reading “Debunking Christianity in 5 minutes? Debunking the Debunkers”

Kairos Research Centre Forum on Genesis, Adam & Evolution

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday 20th Oct 2018

Speakers:
Dr. Living Lee: A Theistic Approach to Geology, Evolution and Fossil Evidence.
Dr. Leong Tien Fock: Hermeneutical & Theological Approaches to Interpreting Genesis 1-3.
Dr. Ng Kam Weng: Who was Adam? Scientific Evidence and Theological Significance.

More Details to Follow.

 

The Psychology of Atheism: From Gaze to Glory. Part 2/2

Related Post: The Psychology of Atheism: From Gaze to Glory. Part 1/2

Excerpts from R.C. Sproul, If There’s a God, Why Are There Atheists: Why Atheists Believe in Unbelief (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1989),

The Failure of the Atheistic Psychological Critique of Religion
If these men – Freud, Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche – we have some examples of great thinkers who have located the “whence” of religion in one aspect of man’s psychological makeup or the other. Fear of nature, wish-projection, relief from guilt and anxiety, fear of economic revolution, and fear of nothingness are all labels for various psychological states that make religion appealing. To be left alone and unprotected in a hostile or indifferent universe is a terrifying thought. The proverbial maxim “necessity is the mother of invention” is applied to religion as well as to myriad drugs or television sets. [p. 48]

It is also very important to note that what Freud and others offer are plausible alternate explanations to the origin of religion other than those offered by theists. It is one thing to demonstrate that man can fabricate religious experiences; it is another thing to demonstrate that he actually does so. It is one thing to argue that men can invent religion out of psychological necessity; it is another to argue that he does. The former involves questions of psychological and intellectual ability; the latter involves questions of history. When Freud spoke of origins, he was writing as a historian, not as a psychologist. We know his competence as a psychologist; his competence as a historian is certainly not so well attested.
[pp. 50-51] Continue reading “The Psychology of Atheism: From Gaze to Glory. Part 2/2”

The Psychology of Atheism: From Gaze to Glory. Part 1/2

A tribute to R.C. Sproul who has just gone to glory.

The popular idea of God as an invention of weak-minded people desperately looking for an emotional crutch to help them cope with wretched reality was developed with erudition and sophistication by the three patron-gods of modern atheism, Friedrich Nietzsche Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. For example, Freud regarded religious ideas as “illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind. . . .As we already know, the terrifying impression of helplessness in childhood aroused the need for protection — for protection through love — which was provided by the father…. Thus the benevolent rule of a divine Providence allays our fear of the danger of life. [Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion (Norton, 1927, 1961), p. 30]

Freud theorized that religion must have evolved from animism to monotheism. The impersonal forces of nature are remote and unpredictable. Hence, nature must be conceived as animated by divine powers who resemble human beings. These powers may be malevolent, but since they behave like humans, we at least know how to deal with them. Religion then progressed from simple animism to complex monotheism which culminates with God as a benevolent Father figure.

R.C. Sproul sets out to refute this popular critique of Christianity. First, Freud is mistaken when he argues that the personal is more comforting than the impersonal, which is the reason why humans ‘populate’ nature with many deities. Continue reading “The Psychology of Atheism: From Gaze to Glory. Part 1/2”

R.C. Sproul’s Analysis of Methodology In Defense of Biblical Inerrancy

Given below is one of the most cogent arguments for  the authority and inerrancy of the Bible:

The Classical Method
Premise A – The Bible is a basically reliable and trustworthy document.
Premise B – On the basis of this reliable document we have sufficient evidence to believe confidently that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Premise C – Jesus Christ being the Son of God is an infallible authority.
Premise D – Jesus Christ teaches the Bible is more than generally trustworthy: it is the very Word of God.
Premise E – That the word, in that it comes from God, is utterly trustworthy because God is utterly trustworthy.
Conclusion – On the basis of the infallible authority of Jesus Christ, the Church believes the Bible to be utterly trustworthy, i.e., infallible.

This method does not involve circular reasoning. Circular reasoning occurs when the conclusion is already present in the first premise. The argument itself is not an infallible argument as each premise involves matters of inductive or deductive reasoning by fallible rational creatures. There is neither a formal apriori assumption nor a subjective leap of faith in the method. Rather, the method is involved with careful historical, empirical investigation as well as with logical inferences. Continue reading “R.C. Sproul’s Analysis of Methodology In Defense of Biblical Inerrancy”

FAQ on Muslim Questions – Christian Answers (Updated)

 

“Come now, Let us reason together, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 1:18).

Muslim polemical literature against Christianity is readily available in bookstores around Malaysia. Their polemics gain media attention when institutions of higher learning organize forums to perpetuate false information about Christianity. For example, in 2014, the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Alam, organized a seminar on “Seminar Kalimah Allah & Kristology Nusantara (“The Word ‘Allah’ and Christology in the Malay Archipelago”), purportedly “to defend the dignity of Muslims in the country and also to give them an understanding as they are being confused by this issue.”
-“UiTM Warns Students About The Threat Of Christianity In “Allah And Christology” Seminar
-Gospels are ‘Fake’ as Jesus was ‘Human Slave to Allah’, Don Claims [The Malaymailonline 6 May 2014]
-Books Warning Muslims About ‘Christian Agenda’ Distributed at Allah Forum in University

Several seminar speakers were reported to have mocked at Christianity as they posed rhetorical questions that suggest the grounds for Christian beliefs are fundamentally flawed. For example, in a forum “Christianisation vs Islamization”, the speakers answered pre-prepared questions that included “Did Jesus really die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins?”, “What is the Trinity?”, “Why did Jesus cry ‘Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani’ (Aramaic for “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”) while on the cross?”

Another speaker claimed that the parts of the Bible based on his teachings should simply be called “Tales of Jesus” instead of the “Gospel”. The books in the Bible were written by Christ’s disciples such as Matthew, Mark, and Luke were considered hearsay and similarly should not be considered the Word of God. The so-called gospel is only Jesus’ words, speech, hence should not be called gospel. He asserted, “The Christian gospel is a fake gospel.”

These speakers were trying to confuse Christians with fabricated lies. Instead of clarifying confusion among Muslims, they were promoting prejudice among Muslims against Christianity. Christians are justified if they feel offended. However, they are mindful of the divine exhortation given in their Holy Book on how to respond peaceably to faultfinders, “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:14-15).

Instead of reacting to these Muslim polemicists, Christians are more interested in reaching out to other Muslims who are sincere when they raise questions about Christianity as these Muslims genuinely believe in constructive dialog. To these sincere Muslims we would like to offer “FAQ: Muslim Questions – Christian Answers” as a modest contribution to promote interfaith understanding. Hopefully, the two FAQs given below will assure Muslim inquirers of the intellectual integrity and peaceful intentions of the Christian community.

Continue reading “FAQ on Muslim Questions – Christian Answers (Updated)”