Man is homo religiosus

or as I keep saying, “you don’t replace something with nothing.” the blue people movie is more evidence that in our modern culture spirituality is fine, but Christianity or other specific organized religion is off-limits. Jonah has an interesting piece up called “Avatar and the Faith Instinct.”

a bit to tease you over there to read it.

But what I find interesting about the film is how what is “pleasing to the most people” is so unapologetically religious.

Nicholas Wade’s new book, The Faith Instinct, lucidly compiles the scientific evidence that humans are hard-wired to believe in the transcendent. That transcendence can be divine or simply Kantian, a notion of something unknowable from mere experience. Either way, in the words of philosopher Will Herberg, “Man is homo religiosus, by ‘nature’ religious: as much as he needs food to eat or air to breathe, he needs a faith for living.”

Wade argues that the Darwinian evolution of man depended not only on individual natural selection but also on the natural selection of groups. And groups that subscribe to a religious worldview are more apt to survive — and hence pass on their genes. Religious rules impose moral norms that facilitate collective survival in the name of a “cause larger than yourself,” as we say today. No wonder everything from altruism to martyrdom is part of nearly every faith.

The faith instinct may be baked into our genes, but it is also profoundly malleable. Robespierre, the French revolutionary who wanted to replace Christianity with a new “age of reason,” emphatically sought to exploit what he called the “religious instinct which imprints upon our souls the idea of a sanction given to moral precepts by a power that is higher than man.”

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truth

here is an interesting perspective on how much truth to give someone in their moment of pain and how our hearts have to be divinely prepared before some truths make sense to us at all.

a taste:

2.Then there’s an important truth of practical and pastoral theology. Sometimes the right explanation is the wrong explanation. It may be correct. It may be orthodox. But some people just aren’t ready to hear it.

That’s one of the lessons we can derive from the book of Job. Some of what his friends told him was unobjectionable in its own right. But it was tactless to say those things to a grief-stricken man.

Sometimes the truth doesn’t help. Sometimes it’s futile to explain things to an individual. And that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the explanation, as such.

and here is more after retelling the story of Tamar, Judah and Perez:

It also served a larger purpose in God’s redemptive plan. As a result, the tribe of Judah became the line of promise (cf. Ps 78:59-72; 1 Chron 5:1-2). And, for her part, Tamar became a link in the chain leading all the way up to Christ (Mt 1:3).

Of course, that’s with the benefit of hindsight. We know how the story ends. We know how things turn out. But from within the story, from Tamar’s timebound perspective, it may seem utterly bleak.

And, of course, future Christians are to us what we are to Tamar. The past makes more sense to those living in the present. Our present is someone else’s past. Our future is someone else’s present.

As timebound creatures, we all find ourselves in inexplicable situations. What was bad at the time may be a future good. What was bad for one man may be good for another.

And that’s how God often operates. Making the best of the worst. This isn’t just an afterthought, either. Rather, it’s a divine strategy which underlies much of human history.

If that’s too much for you to stomach, then you might as well become an atheist. You can sit there on your pink cloud, with your can of air freshener, and rue the terrible things you see below–or else you can agree with God’s way of doing things, and learn to see the hidden wisdom of his ways.

emphasis added by BKI

what he said. “if that is too much for you to stomach, then you might as well become an atheist.” That is what I want to tell people like Wes Widner.

do something risky with your life

here is John Piper talking about the stoning of Stephen and its application for us.

Hat tip to m cubed

secularism and paganism

useful post from Challies on the six faces of paganism present today in our society. Go read his post for the details.

1. materialism
2. empiricism
3. determinism
4. secularism
5. secular humanism
6. post-modernism

see if you can tell which one of these six is not like the rest and tell me why it might be included on this list and in our contemporary society.

more AVATAR

this is a great read and a fun take on the new smurf native movie. Takes down radical earth loving environmentalists along the way.

In Avatar, James Cameron has created a world that justifies the smug arrogance and bitter alienation of the radical environmentalist. The alien world of Pandora really is a maternal Gaia spirit, with every bit of the flora and fauna connected in a mystical web that capitalists and soldiers are too blind and stupid to see. The alien Na’vi really are what infantile liberal mythology has made of the American Indian: innocent, peace-loving, simple, and so harmonious with nature that they can literally plug it into their pony tails. Lacking the conflict and flaws that make the Indians so fascinating and tragic, the Na’vi are utterly boring, aside from the heroine brought vividly to life by a remarkable performance from Zoe Saldana. The childlike environmentalist daydream of a “perfect” society, sustainably at peace with Mother Nature, is captured in the image of the Na’vi tribe snuggled in hammock-like leaves, embraced by the vast branches of their goddess tree. No ambitions, no failures, no questions, no achievement, no future. These giant blue aliens leave absolutely no carbon footprint.

What happens to this wish-fulfillment watercolor of eco-paradise? Why, greedy idiots with guns and bulldozers show up to mow it down, of course. Humans suck, man. They deserve to die… and die they do, in a hail of arrows, fangs, teeth, and lots of screaming plummets from great heights. All those military toys beloved by the right-wing warmongers of the military-industrial complex prove to be useless against the righteous fury of an aroused Gaia and her chosen champion, a redeemed soldier who has seen the error of his ways. Take that, Marine killbot slaves of Big Business.

Go read the whole thing. really good stuff.

I can’t resist putting the last paragraph up too, but you really do have to go read the rest.

Avatar was written by a man who thinks those who disagree with his environmentalist obsessions are so blind that, in the future they will create, the last decent man in the universe will lead a far more noble alien race to victory over us, and literally renounce his humanity as part of his reward. James Cameron invites you to join him in the most beautifully rendered adolescent daydream of suicide ever created, and share his sense of righteous superiority over those who refuse to applaud at the end. I’m a sucker for good-looking dragons, so I gave him a golf clap for those.

HT to Instapundit

a little biblical archeology

here is a little biblical archeology for your reading pleasure this holiday weekend.

How December 25 Became Christmas

here is the beginning of a fascinating disquisition.

The Bible offers few clues: Celebrations of Jesus’ Nativity are not mentioned in the Gospels or Acts; the date is not given, not even the time of year. The biblical reference to shepherds tending their flocks at night when they hear the news of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8) might suggest the spring lambing season; in the cold month of December, on the other hand, sheep might well have been corralled. Yet most scholars would urge caution about extracting such a precise but incidental detail from a narrative whose focus is theological rather than calendrical.

Les Lanphere

I found Les Lanphere’s blog through Twitter (@llanphere).

He has been doing a series showing God’s sovereignty in everything and especially in salvation in each non-Pauline epistle of the New Testament in order to show that this doctrine is not something that only Paul writes about. Interesting stuff.

I would also recommend three posts of his for those of you struggling with the sovereignty of God in salvation.

1. Why is Reformed Theology so Hard to Accept? where he explores these questions a bit:

So why? Why did I get so upset? Why is the idea of a God who chooses certain people over others so offensive, when the Bible we read every day is crammed full of situation where God does just that? How did I go 6 years, knowing this God, yet never truly understanding how the Bible clearly says He interacts with man?

2. The Basics: Does God Choose to Save Certain People? where he looks at this issue:

One thing any Bible believing Christian must agree on is that some people go to Hell when they die. God’s just wrath against some sinners is not forgiven, and they take the wrath themselves. If Jesus died so that people could be saved, and God is powerful enough to do whatever He wants, why doesn’t He make everyone go to Heaven? Do people go to Hell because they just didn’t make the right decision?

and 3. Ten Things I Didn’t Understand Before I was Reformed in which he looks at:

Not only has reformed theology opened my eyes to new things, but it’s cleared up so many thing that I believed, but I never really understood.