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What in the World! selections, no. 1

I’m planning to provide select excerpts from the What in the World! (WITW) newsletter as a regular feature of this blog. The newsletter is available free from Bob Jones University. It’s been coming out for a good 20 years as a service to local churches.

So here’s my first selection, this one from the latest issue. I consider it especially powerful when a non-Christian attacks the faulty thinking of his own, like in the following:

Science is science. Religion is religion. Each should stay on its own side of the back seat. This is the thinking of many in America.

“The problem with this neat separation,” says physicist Paul Davies in a New York Times op-ed piece, “is that science has its own faith-based belief system. All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. You couldn’t be a scientist if you thought the universe was a meaningless jumble of odds and ends haphazardly juxtaposed. When physicists probe to a deeper level of subatomic structure, or astronomers extend the reach of their instruments, they expect to encounter additional elegant mathematical order. And so far this faith has been justified.”

Davies says he has often asked other physicists “why the laws of physics are what they are.” Some reply, “That’s not a scientific question.” Others say, “Nobody knows.” Davies finds that the most common response is, “There is no reason they are what they are—they just are.” But, Davies says, that’s faith!

Both science and religion have to believe “in the existence of something outside the universe, like an unexplained God or an unexplained set of physical laws.” Davies doesn’t accept religion’s claims. But science cannot claim the high ground: “Until science comes up with a testable theory of the laws of the universe, its claim to be free of faith is manifestly bogus.” (New York Times, 11/24/07)

For a free subscription to What in the World!, e-mail witw@bju.edu.

The status of women in OT times

I just finished reading Ezra and writing about it for tenth graders. I spent a fair amount of time evaluating and seeking to understand Ezra’s actions at the end of the book, the 111 divorces he oversaw.

I had a thought: if marrying a Canaanite woman didn’t make that woman a Jew (you had to be a Rahab or a Ruth to become a Jew, someone who feared God) apparently women in OT times had a responsibility to believe as individuals. Am I wrong to see that responsibility as conferring a higher status on women than did surrounding cultures? Would it occur to anyone to ask the average Hittite wife what her religion was if the husband’s religion was already known?

Pandora

I just got a recommendation from a friend to try a cool Internet radio station called Pandora. You can set up your own Internet radio stations based on your favorite artists.

So I made a station for artists like “Chanticleer” and one for artists like “The King’s Singers.” So far I’m getting all a cappella, but there really just aren’t that many groups like my two favorites so I am clicking the “thumbs down” option on many of the artists they’re suggesting. After a while Pandora will learn more of my preferences.

I didn’t use to have the theological category of common grace, but Chanticleer was a factor in my attachment to that category. I’m a huge fan of Chanticleer because I think unbelievably beautiful singing glorifies the Lord intrinsically.

I was the one who asked them at Bob Jones to sing “Song for Athene” by John Tavener (one of my very favorite choral composers)—the one which they accidentally pitched too high, causing the soprano to squawk. Poor guy.

Bible Typography

The TNIV and The Books of the Bible 3

If you go to “The Books of the Bible” site, don’t be put off by the endorsements.

It appears that IBS realizes that they’ve lost conservative evangelicalism as a target demographic for the TNIV. Too many names we all (rightly!) trust came out against it. So they’re touting endorsements from people who live on the far left side of evangelicalism—or who, sadly, have fallen off the edge.

I’ve received some real profit from Tremper Longman’s work and a little from that of Scot McKnight. But Brian McLaren? (The late) Robert Webber? Those are men who have written some very troubling things.

But I said you should not be put off by these recommendations because aside from the gender neutralization—which is not nothing, but not everything—the TNIV really does appear to be an improvement over the NIV. And if the NIV, despite its faults (recognized over and over again in the commentaries which try to use it as their base text), has become the Bible of many people who truly love the Lord, the TNIV need not be a bogey-Bible.