Here is a fascinating debate on ABC (american TV channel) with 4 well respected speakers discussing whether or not Satan exists, is he a foundational tenet of Christian faith? or is he a mythical creature taking on the metaphorical representation of humanity’s dark side.
HT: Jessica J
This was recently published in Newsweek.
“It was a small detail, a point of comparison buried in the fifth paragraph on the 17th page of a 24-page summary of the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey. But as R. Albert Mohler Jr.-president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of the largest on earth-read over the document after its release in March, he was struck by a single sentence. For a believer like Mohler-a starched, unflinchingly conservative Christian, steeped in the theology of his particular province of the faith, devoted to producing ministers who will preach the inerrancy of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means to eternal life-the central news of the survey was troubling enough: the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation has nearly doubled since 1990, rising from 8 to 15 percent. Then came the point he could not get out of his mind: while the unaffiliated have historically been concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, the report said, “this pattern has now changed, and the Northeast emerged in 2008 as the new stronghold of the religiously unidentified.” As Mohler saw it, the historic foundation of America’s religious culture was cracking.Published in Newsweek
There it was, an old term with new urgency: post-Christian. This is not to say that the Christian God is dead, but that he is less of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory. To the surprise of liberals who fear the advent of an evangelical theocracy and to the dismay of religious conservatives who long to see their faith more fully expressed in public life, Christians are now making up a declining percentage of the American population.”
From today’s NZ Herald, an interesting article on whether or not we are hard wired to have a belief system that manifests itself in the form of religious beliefs. Of course, this then raises a chicken/egg scenario, depending on any apriori assumptions you have before considering this. Those who believe in God might say that God created us with this hard-wired ability so that we might know who God is, and facilitate this belief. Those that don’t believe in God will inevitably argue that this is an evolved function in order to facilitate survival. Both arguments are self-fulfilling, in that each position provides its own evidence to support itself and exclude the other. It comes down again to the apriori assumption made prior to the assimilation of this information.
From a strictly evidence based perspective, i.e. assume nothing until there is evidence for it (which is still an apriori assumption) and is the foundation of modern day science and research, then you would have to assume that it is an evolved feature of our brains. However, if you ask a person of faith about evidence based conclusions, they will gladly point to many areas in their life where there is evidence of God at work.
So, to quote Brett from FOTC… “its a chicken egg situation really..”
Click the heading below to read the full article.
“A belief in God is deeply embedded in the human brain, which is programmed for religious experiences, according to a United States study.
Scientists searching for the neural “God spot”, which is supposed to control religious belief, believe several areas of the brain form the biological foundations of religious belief.
The researchers said their findings supported the idea that the brain had evolved to be sensitive to any form of belief that improved the chances of survival, which could explain why a belief in God and the supernatural became so widespread in human evolutionary history.
“Religious belief and behaviour are a hallmark of human life, with no accepted animal equivalent, and found in all cultures,” said Professor Jordan Grafman, from the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, near Washington.
“Our results are unique in demonstrating that specific components of religious belief are mediated by well-known brain networks and they support contemporary psychological theories that ground religious belief within evolutionary-adaptive cognitive functions….”