The Right-Brain God (The Divine Series Book 2)

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There are no polytheistic "nature gods" so we should worship only the one true God who created everything. God's creation is good but is not divine, so nature is placed in proper perspective. And humans are special because God created us in His own image. During a vigorous discussion, sometimes it's difficult to remember that treating everyone with respect will improve interpersonal relationships, and that respect is a Christian behavior which glorifies God because it is one aspect of "loving your neighbor as you love yourself.

Treating others with respect is easier if we develop an appropriate humility when estimating the certainty of our own theories about theology and science. But appropriate humility is difficult to define and achieve. It requires a balance between two desirable qualities — confidence which if overdeveloped can become rude arrogance and humility which can become timid relativism — that are in tension. But most of us tend to err in the direction of overconfidence in our own theories, so trying to develop the virtue of modest humility usually has a beneficial effect.

During his Monday-and-Tuesday debates the intention of our high school teacher, and the conclusion of his students, was not a skeptical postmodern relativism. I think we should use rigorous logic when evaluating all views, in order to reach conclusions about the plausibility of each view. Combining this rigorous logic with a respectful attitude is difficult. But a combining of logic in an effort to gain understanding with respect in the process of loving each other is a worthy goal. God wants us to search for truth, and He wants the people who love Him to love each other.

Trying to achieve both of these noble goals — truth and love — can be challenging, but it will be an opportunity for growth in Christian character when it inspires sensitivity, compassion, and good judgment. Some words of wisdom — useful in all areas of life, including our examinations of scripture and nature — come from St. And in all things, charity. Above all, it requires a love that transcends our differences, so everyone will know that we are disciples of Jesus because we love one another. Is a young earth an essential doctrine? Is it both important and certain?

Most theologians think that: Despite these three reasons for caution regarding importance, certainty, and information from nature , prominent advocates of young-earth views boldly proclaim that "if the Bible is true, then certainly the earth is young," and they link the gospel of Jesus with their young-earth interpretation. They don't think young-earth beliefs are necessary for salvation, but they do claim that their interpretation is necessary for believing the Bible's historical accuracy and spiritual authority, to provide a solid historical and theological foundation for Christianity.

Although these claims are made with good intentions, we should ask — when the gospel is linked with a young earth — "Is it justified, and is it wise? As described above, most theologians think a young-earth doctrine is neither important nor certain, so it should not be considered an essential doctrine. And based on information from nature, most scientists think a young earth is certainly false. Unfortunately, a claim that "if the Bible is true, the earth is young" is logically equivalent to saying "if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true.

Or an earnest seeker of spiritual truth — convinced by young-earth advocates that a young earth and Jesus are a "package deal" that includes both or neither — will reject the combination due to their conviction that the earth is not young. Therefore, Christians should not encourage and should not accept any implication — whether it is made by fellow Christians who want to strengthen the Gospel, or by non-Christians who want to discredit the Gospel — that "if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true.

This page ends with a summary of essential doctrines that are compatible with believing in either a young universe or old universe. We can all agree about the essential theology in Genesis 1: Everything we see in nature was created by God, and is subordinate to God. God declared His creation to be very good, so we can reject the idea that physical things are intrinsically bad; our problem is sin, not physicality.

The Bible clearly teaches that human sin led to human death, and that Jesus offers us salvation from sin and death. We needed a savior, and God is merciful, so Jesus accepted the penalty of death that we earn by our sinful disobedience, and by his life of sinless obedience He earned the right to make his own eternal life available, as a gift of grace, to all who will accept. Because of what Jesus did, the eternal life taken from us in Genesis will be given back to us in heaven: The full gospel of Jesus — including His deity, virgin birth, teachings and miracles, sinless obedience to the Father in life, substitutionary atonement in death, victorious resurrection, ascension into heaven, and second coming — is fully compatible with a young earth or old earth.

When we ask whether certain Bible passages are intended to be sources of scientific knowledge , sometimes we disagree.

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But we can all agree that the Bible should be our main source of spiritual knowledge , and that the main goal of Christian living is to learn from the Bible, to believe it and do what it says, thereby bringing glory to God in our thoughts and actions. A logical argument two claims and a conclusion could be made in Christianity requires planetary motions to be earth-centered. Science shows the planetary motions are not earth-centered. Therefore, Christianity is false. Here are three ways a Christian can respond to the claims in 1 and 2: A reject a claim that Christianity requires earth-centered motions.

Do you think this is wise? Do you think there is analogy between earth-centered claims and young-earth claims? Advocates of young-earth interpretations often ignore an important principle: For example, according to Ken Ham president of Answers in Genesis old-earth views depend on assuming that "man, by himself, independent of revelation, can determine truth [by interpreting nature using scientific evidence and logic] and impose this on [my interpretations of] God's Word.

Should his historical reconstructions [his interpretations of nature] be put on a higher plane than [his interpretations of] Scripture? Try reading these quotations with and without the clarifications [in square brackets] added by me. He is skeptical about human competence in one area for some people but not another area for other people, including himself and Ken Ham. Why does Ken Ham think the earth rotates and orbits? Later in the same page Morris declares his interpretation of scripture to be an essential theological doctrine both certain and important when he recommends that "no church should sanction a pastor, Sunday school teacher, deacon, elder, or Bible-study leader who knowledgeably and purposefully errs on this crucial [young-earth] doctrine.

We are quite capable, for example, of deciding that the resurrection of Jesus is true and is taught in the Bible but a hour creation is false and is not taught in the Bible. Consider a simple physiological analogy: Similarly, instead of "slippery slope" logic, demanding that we must accept all claims that "the Bible teaches this" as being equally well supported, we can rationally decide that The Resurrection is essential because it is more certainly taught and is more important but a young earth is not essential.

Science and Religion in Conflict? Can historical sciences help us understand the history of nature? Historical Sciences for Age-Questions. Biblical Theology for young-earth Christians. This page is http: How can we more effectively combine what we learn from our studies of the Bible and nature? How can we more effectively love God, and love each other? What principles will help us achieve all of these goals?

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Of course, for the most important things in life — for learning about God and how He wants us to live and love — the Bible is more important. But we don't have to make an either-or choice, and by using both sources of information our understanding of total reality spiritual plus physical can be more complete and accurate. The important distinction between reality and interpretation is illustrated in a three-level diagram: We should agree that in holy scripture the main purpose is to help us understand spiritual realities, but is this the only purpose?

Do any passages in the Bible contain scientific information that should be used in our scientific theories? Or should we use information from nature to help us interpret the passages? When thinking about these questions, one useful principle is illustrated by changes in our theories about the solar system: In , we had a coherent system of false beliefs. Everyone thought that planetary motions were earth-centered, and that the Bible taught this science. Our interpretations of nature and scripture were both wrong, but they agreed with each other and were thus in harmony.

In , there were debates among scientists, who didn't agree with each other about how to interpret nature. But unlike years earlier, now both interpretations corresponded to the reality in nature and scripture, and were therefore true. Based on observations in dozens of areas, logically evaluated using scientific principles, most scientists have concluded that the universe and earth are billions of years old.

But some scientists think these conclusions are wrong by a factor of a million, and the universe is only thousands of years old. How can you decide which interpretation of nature, old universe or young universe, is more plausible? In dozens of independent areas, most scientists have reached old-universe conclusions.

Is this an impressive argument in favor of their views? In the past, occasionally scientists have been correct when they challenged a majority consensus, but this is rare. Even if a well established theory eventually is rejected, usually it has survived many unsuccessful challenges before its rejection. And in this case, dozens of major well-established theories, spanning a wide spectrum of science, would have to be rejected. But you shouldn't just accept the "authority" claimed by proponents of either view.

Instead, you can learn thoroughly and think carefully, using basic principles of logic, as explained in The Methods of Science Applied to Age-Questions. When you compare the claims made by proponents of each view, in each area, what are their points of agreement and disagreement? Do they disagree about the observations, interpretive principles, or logic?

In each area, which view is more plausible when you use scientific logic to evaluate the differing interpretations of evidence from nature? How can you evaluate different views about the intended meaning of a Bible passage? First, carefully study the text. In this linguistic study you can take advantage of what scholars have learned about word meanings and sentence structures in the original language, and how these are affected when the text is translated into English. Second, consider the context cultural, spiritual, and situational in which the passage was written.

In this contextual study , ask "Who was the author writing for, what was the intended purpose, and in what ways did the context affect how the passage was written? Fourth, sometimes information from nature , logically interpreted using the methods of science, can help you choose between different Biblical interpretations that seem satisfactory based on other criteria, because "in some cases extrabiblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches. Which set of internally consistent interpretations young-universe for scripture and nature, or old-universe for scripture and nature do you think is most likely to be true, to correctly describe reality?

And what level of confidence, or humility, is justified? Is one type of interpretation, but not the other, hindered by sin? Augustine says, "In essentials, unity.


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We can use our estimates of the doctrine's importance and certainty. For example, consider the claim that Jesus died and was brought back to life. Yes, this is emphasized by Paul: The resurrection of Jesus is very important. It is also taught with certainty, beyond any doubt. For example, it was clearly stated and was the most important topic in Peter's first sermon, in Acts 2: A person who doesn't believe the resurrection of Jesus is missing an essential core-belief of Christianity.

Human interpretations of the Bible are fallible, but are not worthless. We should adopt appropriate humility, so we should reject postmodern relativism. For essential doctrines, we should not be "tolerant" by accepting the credibility of alternative interpretations. He has found that people who meditate, from Franciscan nuns to Tibetan Buddhists, go dark in the parietal lobe — the area of the brain that is related to sensory information and helps us form our sense of self. On a spring day in Newberg's laboratory, the neuroscientist settles McDermott in a darkened examination room and asks the pastor to pray for someone else — that is, intercessory prayer.

A few minutes later, at the moment Newberg believes McDermott has reached the peak of his prayer, the researcher injects the minister with a dye that shows the blood flow in his brain. Twenty minutes later, McDermott emerges beaming. He has enjoyed intense spiritual moments like this ever since he was in his 20s.

I couldn't wait to pray! Now it's time for Newberg to take a peek at McDermott's neural connections, sliding him into a SPECT scanner, which will create an image of which parts of McDermott's brain lit up and which went dark while he prayed. Scott McDermott, a United Methodist minister, has prayed at least two hours a day for the past 25 years. Steve Landis hide caption. A few minutes later, Newberg has preliminary results on his computer screen.

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He notes some areas of increased activity in the frontal lobes, which handle focused attention — precisely what Newberg would expect from a person praying intently. But he adds that this needs further analysis — and he'll need to find more volunteers to do this kind of interpersonal prayer before he can come to any conclusions. Taste and see that God really is good. Newberg says he can't prove that McDermott or anyone else is communing with God, but he can look for circumstantial evidence.

Newberg did that with Michael Baime. Baime is a doctor at the University of Pennsylvania and a Tibetan Buddhist who has meditated at least an hour a day for the past 40 years. During a peak meditative experience, Baime says, he feels oneness with the universe, and time slips away. When Baime meditated in Newberg's brain scanner, his brain mirrored those feelings.

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As expected, his frontal lobes lit up on the screen: Meditation is sheer concentration, after all. But what fascinated Newberg was that Baime's parietal lobes went dark. Newberg found that result not only with Baime, but also with other monks he scanned.

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It was the same when he imaged the brains of Franciscan nuns praying and Sikhs chanting. They all felt the same oneness with the universe. When it comes to the brain, Newberg says, spiritual experience is spiritual experience. So far, scientists have focused on people who pray or meditate for one, two or more hours a day.

They think that studying spiritual virtuosos will offer clues to the brain workings of more typical believers. But now Newberg and others are turning their attention to people who want to enrich their spiritual lives, but don't have that kind of time. For years Davidson, who is at the University of Wisconsin, has scanned the brains of Buddhist monks who have logged years of meditation.

When it comes to things like attention and compassion, their brains are as finely tuned as a late-model Porsche. Could ordinary people achieve the same kind of connection with the spiritual that the monks do — without so much effort? I wondered that, too.