Tag Archives | Theology

Outer Space and Inner Soul

Ted Peters

Ted Peters

Outer space has been lodged in my soul since my youth. This led me to write the first edition of UFOs: God’s Chariots? in 1977. In more recent years, I’ve invested considerable academic energy in the dialogue between science and religion with a special focus on astrobiology and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). One thing I learned is that SETI scientists and UFO researchers do not attend the same barbecues. Rather, they sneer at each other in each other’s absence. Each accuses the other of not being scientific enough. I find this curious, but not boring. So, after writing a few treatises on astrotheology and astroethics, I’m returning once again to the UFO question with a focus on the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

As I return to prepare the second edition, I find today’s media right where they were a half century ago. Unfortunately, the media still thinks that the entire UFO pie can be divided into two slices, people who believe in UFOs and skeptics who do not believe.

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Mormon Church Changes Stance on Race

Mormon Jesus

Mormon Jesus approves.

Just as the Roman Catholic Church has become  more liberal, the Church of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormon Church, has decided that “dark skin” is no longer the “mark of Cain.”  I tell ya, the End must be extremely goddamn nigh.

VIA Dwindling in Unbelief

The LDS church has finally confessed. It admits that it was wrong about
race from the church’s beginning in 1830 until 1978 when God changed
his mind about black people.

Here is what the new document “Race and the Priesthood” says about it:

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse … that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else.

If that is true, then the LDS church disavows the Book of Mormon, which says that God cursed people by blackening their skin, causing them to be “a dark, filthy, and loathsome people,” and that any “white and delightsome” person who “mixes seed” with them will be “cursed with the same cursing.”

Here are just a few passages in the Book of Mormon that the Mormon church now disavows:

After they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

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Alchemical Traditions: An interview with Dr. Aaron Cheak

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I’ve known Dr. Cheak for a while now. I’ve never met anyone with such a broad understanding of alchemy, magic, or religious studies in general. He’s truly a gem of the modern scholarly crowd. His new book is fast establishing him as one of the foremost authorities in the world on alchemy. I had the chance to interview him at my home in Los Angeles over a bottle of wine. Awesome conversation ensued.

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Beyond God and Money

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley

When Christianity was the West’s main system of control some of the finest minds in the world were employed to articulate brilliant, complex, philosophical arguments in defence of the various paradoxes which sprout from a belief in the bible. These “experts” were capable of ingenious and amazing[1] responses to the major stumbling blocks presented by the religious belief systems of the day.

For example:

If God is all powerful can he make a rock which nothing can move?

Answer: Yes of course.

Paradox: Can he then move that rock?

Either way his power appears to have limits. [2]

Wrangling round questions such as these gained articulate and clever people a lot of power and status back in days gone by. Don’t get me wrong, St Thomas Aquinas and his mates probably believed what they said. It’s just a lot of it, from the perspective of 2013, now seems like very clever, interesting, well-written, bo—cks.… Read the rest

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Is There Room For God After Higgs Boson?

Victoria Gill reports on a meeting of theologians and scientists to discuss a time before the Big Bang, for BBC News:

Now that the Higgs has finally been spotted – a scientific discovery that takes us closer than ever to the first moments after the Big Bang – Cern has opened its doors to scholars that take a very different approach to the question of how the Universe came to exist.

On 15 October, a group of theologians, philosophers and physicists came together for two days in Geneva to talk about the Big Bang.

So what happened when people of such different – very different – views of the Universe came together to discuss how it all began?

“I realised there was a need to discuss this,” says Rolf Heuer, Cern’s director general.

“There’s a need for us, as naive scientists, to discuss with philosophers and theologians the time before or around the Big Bang.”

Cern’s co-organiser of this unusual meeting of minds was Wilton Park – a global forum set up by Winston Churchill.

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Neoclassical Economics Has Become a Religion

World Economic Forum (CC)

“Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad – or an economist.” ~Kenneth Boulding

Using a string of quotes, Washington’s Blog shows how economists have always regarded their subject as a religion, if not an imperfect science like that of alchemy:

Economics professor Steve Keen notes:

Neoclassical economics has become a religion. Because it has a mathematical veneer, and I emphasize the word veneer, they actually believe it’s true. Once you believe something is true, you’re locked into its way of thinking unless there’s something that can break in from the outside and destroy that confidence.

Paul Heyne said:

The arguments of economists legitimate social and economic arrangements by providing these arrangements with quasi-religious justification. Economists are thus doing theology while for the most part unaware of that fact.

Economics professor Bill Black told me:

The amount of fraud that drove the Wall Street bubble and its collapse and caused the Great Depression is contested [keep reading to see what Black means].

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Dancing On Pinheads

Many people have at some point heard, or are at least vaguely familiar with the question, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” – a reference to the pointless theological debates that consumed much of European academia during the latter half of the Middle Ages.  Although it turns out this particular phrasing was most likely never actually discussed (not appearing in print until hundreds of years later as a retroactive jab at Thomas Aquinas and his “scholastic” brand of philosophy) it continues to serve as a handy metaphor for any dubious intellectual endeavor lacking in apparent practical value and without any foreseeable means of resolution.

Questions of this sort, while no longer at the forefront of serious scholarly inquiry, haven’t completely subsided in the modern age, especially in the United States where we have the unusual distinction of being by far the most religious of any advanced, industrial nation.  As the so-called “culture wars” rage on unabated in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election (with back and forth volleys ranging from Rick Santorum’s failed candidacy to President Obama’s recent declaration of support for gay marriage), the subject of religious belief and its role in American politics has been pushed to the forefront of national discourse, and with it has come a revival of interest in a wide range of formerly obscure ideas relating to God and his role in the universe.… Read the rest

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The Violence Of God

Angry GodJulie Shoshana Pfau, a graduate student in religion at Emory University, and David R. Blumenthal, who teaches and writes on constructive Jewish theology, medieval Judaism, Jewish mysticism, and holocaust studies, discuss “How can you relate to an abusive God in a positive way?” at CrossCurrents:

Introduction

In 1993, I published my post-shoah theology entitled Facing the Abusing God: A Theology of Protest (Westminster John Knox). The book did not have the impact on Jewish and Christian theologians, on psychotherapists, or on holocaust survivors that it should have had. The reasons for this are complicated and I have tried to explain them elsewhere. However, the book has been read very steadily by survivors of child abuse and occasional doctoral students from whom I receive a steady stream of letters. The exchange below is a very good example and I am grateful to Julie Pfau for her willingness to publish these letters, as well as for her forthrightness in expressing herself.

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How To Start A Dance Kult

BreakdanceLet’s start with what God is: the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

The confusion about the nature of God starts with the idea God is separate from Existence. Also, there seems to be a tendency to treat the Father as God itself and the Son & Holy Spirit as a part of, but not equal to the Father. From these simple misunderstandings comes the logical paradoxes we’re all familiar with.

So here’s where we begin to clear things up. God is the single thing, but there are three aspects that make up the totality of God. Here’s the analogy: we take a piece of cheese. The cheese is one thing; however, there are aspects to the cheese that make up the whole thing: we have the shape, color & taste of the cheese. So where does the cheese end and its aspects begin? Well obviously that’s an impossible question.

So now the issue is defining the Father, Son & Holy Spirit aspects and how they together define God.… Read the rest

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Atheism, Christian Theism, and Rape

What Does God Need With A Starship?

Michael Martin makes a few good points regarding the claim that without religion there is no basis for morality:

Is Theistic Morality Necessarily Objectivist?:

Let us assume for the moment that the Biblical position on rape is clear: God condemns rape. But why? One possibility is that He condemns rape because it is wrong. Why is it wrong? It might be supposed that God has various reasons for thinking rape is wrong: it violates the victim’s rights, it traumatizes the victim, it undermines the fabric of society, and so on. All of these are bad making properties. However, if these reasons provide objective grounds for God thinking that rape is wrong, then they provide objective grounds for others as well. Moreover, these reasons would hold even if God did not exist. For example, rape would still traumatize the victim and rape would still undermine the fabric of society even. Thus, on this assumption, In this case, atheists could provide objective ground for condemning rape–the same grounds used by God.

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