Monthly Archives: May 2008

You are browsing the site archives by month.

Creation and explanation, again

I’m coming back to this one last time, because in the course of preparing a talk on a related topic, I stumbled across a clearer way of expressing myself.

Here’s a quick creation questionnaire for you:

  1. Do you believe in God, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen?
  2. Do you believe that the claim that God is the maker of heaven and earth, if true, provides a good explanation of the existence, or some of the characteristics, of the world in which we find ourselves?
  3. Do you believe that this claim provides an explanation of matters that would otherwise be inexplicable – such that this explanatory power constitutes a good reason for believing the claim?
  4. Do you believe that this claim stands or falls by its explanatory power – such that if it is shown not to have such explanatory power, it follows that it should be rejected?
  5. Do you believe that the meaning of the claim is constituted by its explanatory power, such that ‘God’ essentially means only what is needed to provide this explanatory power, and anything that follows from it?

I claim that

  • these questions are semi-independent (in the sense that each question only arises if the previous question has been answered with a ‘Yes’, but that answering ‘Yes’ to the previous question does not determine the answer to the next question);
  • Dawkins’ presentation of his argument is directed against those who give a ‘Yes’ answer to all five questions, though his argument only really relies on a ‘Yes’ to the first four.

I also claim that

  • Any remotely orthodox Christian theology must answer ‘Yes’ to the first question
  • There are orthodox Christian theologies that answer ‘No’ to both question 2 and question 3, some that answer ‘Yes’ to 2 and ‘No’ to 3, and some that answer ‘Yes’ to both.
  • Any remotely orthodox Christian theology must answer ‘No’ to the fourth and fifth questions

One movie meme

From Faith and Theology

1. One movie that made you laugh
Kind Hearts and Coronets. Perfect.

2. One movie that made you cry
Most sad films will make me cry a little. Pan’s Labyrinth, for instance.

3. One movie you loved when you were a child
Watership Down (1978). Trips to the cinema were rare, and I remember getting very excited about this one.

4. One movie you’ve seen more than once
Die Hard. In it’s own way, unimprovable.

5. One movie you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it
I’m not really embarrassed by my taste in films. I’m quite happy to admit liking some romantic comedies starring Hugh Grant, and even some starring Tom Hanks, for instance. (I even quite liked Titanic – but I didn’t ‘love’ it.)

6. One movie you hated
Baby’s Day Out. A shockingly poor film.

7. One movie that scared you
I’m easily scared. The Sixth Sense took me straight back to my childhood fears of the dark, for instance.

8. One movie that bored you
Gone with the Wind. One Christmas when I was young. I stayed awake by playing with my new Lego set.

9. One movie that made you happy
Cinema Paradiso

10. One movie that made you miserable
Schindler’s List

11. One movie you weren’t brave enough to see
Oh, the list is long. I tend to avoid all horror. Am unlikely to see, for instance, 30 Days of Night any time soon.

12. One movie character you’ve fallen in love with
Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) in Casablanca.

13. The last movie you saw
State of the Union – Hepburn and Tracy.

14. The next movie you hope to see
I’ve just been given the DVD of Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

One book meme

Okay, I know I’m a long way behind the times, but here goes.

1. One book that changed your life:

Hans Frei, The Identity of Jesus Christ. It unexpectedly took over my PhD, and was probably the first book I ever read carefully.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:

Lord of the Rings, more than any other (I think, and excluding books I read to my children). Yes, I was that kind of teenager.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:

Jane Austen, Emma. Or Mansfield Park. Or Pride and Prejudice. But probably Emma. On a desert island, I might be able to get away with pretending that I was Mr Knightley.

4. One book that made you laugh:

Barry Pilton, One Man and his Bog. I remember my Dad reading it out to us while we were on a family caravanning holiday, some time in the ’80s, and us all ending up helpless with laughter. You probably had to be there.

5. One book that made you cry:

Pretty much anything sad will do. The Time-Traveller’s Wife, for instance.

6. One book that you wish had been written:

Hans Frei’s history of modern Christology.

7. One book that you wish had never been written:

Richard Swinburne, Providence and the Problem of Evil.

8. One book you’re currently reading:

Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:

John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas.

10. Now tag five people:

I don’t have five blogging friends. What do you take me for?