Away in a Manger—Away in a Spaceship? How Should We View Jesus’ Incarnation and Human Life If There Is Extraterrestrial Life?

How will Christians worship on Christmas if scientists report this week that there is extraterrestrial life? Will we reword the title of the Christmas carol “Away in a Manger” to “Away in a Spaceship”? Would this suggest that Jesus would need to travel to other planets and become incarnate as a Martian or a Plutonian, or wherever else conscious life is found? Not necessarily. It is not a matter of our being inherently more special as humans than extra-terrestrials. Perhaps… Read more

Keep Your Eyes Wide-Open: Don’t Discount Donald Trump

Many people with whom I speak can’t get over Donald Trump’s ongoing ascendance in national polls. He leads the field of candidates for the Republican Party’s nomination by staggering numbers. Whatever you think of him, he is hard to dismiss as an outlier (See “Latest Polls Set Stage for Unprecedented Circumstances”). An African-American civil rights lawyer with whom I spoke on Sunday agreed. Keep your eyes wide open. Don’t discount Trump, for he speaks to our base passions. He makes… Read more

Be Patient with Patients: They Are Far More than Temporarily Animated Corpses

Is a patient near the end of life simply temporarily animated matter–a soon-to-be corpse that is turned to ash or locked in a box?[1] Is the patient a combination of material and immaterial substances, the latter of which is easily separated like a pound of flesh that lessens the body’s weight at death?[2] Or is the patient a relational energy (namely, a soul or spirit), who returns to the divine Spirit, the same Spirit who enlivens his or her bodily… Read more

Ban Nastiness and Naiveté, not Muslims

Donald Trump’s recent statements about banning Muslims from the States has met with a wide array of reactions—from total support to outright disgust. Some fear that Trump’s stance is counterproductive and will only benefit ISIS propaganda that the States and the West as a whole are anti-Muslim. Tribalism only intensifies conflicts rather than reduces them, as Steven Pinker argues in The Better Angles of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. While some dispute Pinker’s view that violence is on decline… Read more

Science, Metaphysics and Metaphorical Ladders: When Science is Theology

Anti-Theologies Are Theologies, Part I For those who think that metaphysics and theology are antiquated disciplines that have no place in our scientific age, please think again. Take one prominent contemporary example—Richard Dawkins. Like Freud, he is an anti-theology theologian in disguise. The anti-theological Dawkins presents theological or metaphysical claims. His fundamental thesis that the gene is selfish and that it governs all reality is not a hypotheses that Dawkins could readily jettison on the basis of empirical observations. Rather,… Read more

Should Ethics Be “Biologicized”? What Might that Mean for Eugenics?

In the concluding chapter of Sociobiology: A New Synthesis, Harvard University’s Edward O. Wilson states, “Scientists and humanists should consider together the possibility that the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of the philosophers and biologicized.”[1] Wilson is certainly not the first to recommend this move.[2] For Wilson, it is bound up with his aim to promote the “Modern Synthesis” involving sociobiology, which he defines as “the systematic study of the biological basis of… Read more

Lights Out: Shining a Light on Caring for the Dying in a Multi-Faith World

What would you do if you were a chaplain or pastor or trusted friend given the honor of caring for someone of another faith tradition who is approaching death? My students and I have heard from many faith leaders in my world religions class this semester talk about their views of the soul and body as well as end of life care. There were a variety of views presented, as one would expect. For all the differences, though, we can… Read more

If I Weren’t a Christian, Perhaps I’d Be a Pagan

Max Weber wrote that the “progressive disenchantment of the world” marks modernity. This is indeed the case, even though some have sought to demonstrate a potent counter-trend in modernity to provide forms of re-enchantment compatible with secular reason.[1] I discussed the theme of disenchantment and re-enchantment with a Pagan during a recent dinner event involving Pagans and Evangelicals. We were gathered together for the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah. My Pagan friend drew my attention… Read more

The French Connection—The Human Connection: The Law of Relational Gravity

Last night, our monthly Buddhist-Christian dialogue took a sudden turn in view of the deeply disturbing news reaching us from Paris. We decided to change the focus of conversation after dinner to share how we process such violent tragedies as humans and as adherents of our particular faith traditions (For more on our dialogue project, refer here). There was almost a mystical bond that formed around the table. Perhaps we all sensed more than most times our need for connection… Read more

Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels With a Buddhist Friend

An Interview with Dr. Paul Louis Metzger conducted by Olivia Lovern: Dr. Paul Louis Metzger — Professor of Christian Theology and Theology of Culture and Director of New Wine, New Wineskins — has released his latest book, Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend (Patheos Press, August 2015). The work features Metzger’s late friend, Zen Buddhist Priest Kyogen Carlson, who wrote the foreword and responded to Metzger’s essays. A book reading for Evangelical Zen is set for… Read more

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