Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos and the Megachurch

This post was made possible through the support of a grant from The BioLogos Foundation’s Evolution and Christian Faith program. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BioLogos.

My suspicion grows apace with the slickness of a presentation. This is one reason I squirm in a megachurch. PowerPoint slides, emotion-tugging video clips during the pre-game show, music crafted to feel edgy and relevant—my skin crawls like I’m about to hear a sales pitch, which I guess I am, which maybe isn’t so bad for God-seekers who aren’t inveterate curmudgeons.

“Slick,” likewise, was my first response to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos reboot, which evoked its own megachurch feeling, alternating sci-fi videography with fervent sermons about evolution. The risk in a new set of films from the BioLogos Foundation, which seeks to draw people into a conversation about the intersection of science and faith, is that they will spark exactly that, only one that marries the megachurch’s Jesus-Superbowl with the liberation theology that is evolution theory in the mouths of pop scientists like Tyson.

The danger, in short, is that the conversation is over before it begins, because participation requires one side to lay down their presuppositions, but allows the other to continue clutching theirs like a toddler his candy. [Read more...]

Sojourners in the Darkness

4018862127_2f7e0aebc8_zMy mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [his murderer] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.

—Beshir Kamel, brother of the martyrs Bishoy and Samuel

A footnote in my Bible at the end of Genesis reads: “The life that began in Paradise ended in a coffin in Egypt.”

What ended was the beginning of a story that commenced when man insisted on seizing the creation pen for himself, only to find that his words spring from poisoned lips. So faithful Joseph was tucked into the earth, his last plea lingering in the ears of his brethren: “Don’t leave my bones behind when you depart this land.”

I don’t belong here. [Read more...]

Science and Faith: an Evolving Conversation

Transparent chemistry glass tubes filled with substances

“I left the Church,” my tablemate explains, “because my priest couldn’t answer my questions.”

We are at a gathering of scientists, religious leaders, and people who write about science and religion. We are discussing how people in these often counterposed domains can collaborate for the betterment of mankind.

I confess I am skeptical about the benefits to mankind that will accrue from elite collaboration. I’m a Madisonian in that regard: our wellbeing is safer when elites keep each other in check rather than partner.

[Read more...]

Seeking Mystery in a Secular World

Church_versus_StateThe topic, at the Eighth Day Institute symposium in Wichita, Kansas, was how to regain our sense of wonder in a secular age. It might have been a discussion—and in some ways it was—about restoring any number of treasures in the face of an advancing secularism.

Secularism, which many of us have come to equate with a state of widespread unbelief, but which philosopher Charles Taylor argues, in A Secular Age, is more a state of many beliefs, undergirded by the conviction that all is open to doubt.

[Read more...]

It’s Time to Derail the Gravy Train

gravy trainEarlier this week we saw yet again what happens when thousands of the unemployed, living off subsidies from taxpayers, decide to take their grievances to the streets. This latest assault on decency and order happened in Columbus, Ohio, but the list of cities victimized in this way is long and growing. It’s often peaceful towns that are targeted—communities filled with law-abiding people who work for a living, who follow the rules, and who deserve better protection from law enforcement.

The thugs who prey on these neighborhoods wreak havoc, often with impunity. Responsible for neither jobs nor children, living off the earnings of others, these welfare kings and queens strut the streets at night, swilling alcohol, fornicating with abandon, and all too often, inciting violence against property and persons.

[Read more...]