The ossuary is a legitimate find. An Ossuary (bone box) scripted in a cursive dialect only used between 10-70 AD was discovered with the words in Aramaic: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Archaeologists say it dates back to 62 A.D.
The philosopher David Hume (1711– 76) is perhaps best known today for his skepticism about religion. Yet he was equally skeptical about the mechanistic philosophy of nature. There was nothing in the universe to prove that it was more like a machine than an organism; the organization we see in nature was more analogous to plants and animals than to machines. Hume was against the idea of a machine-designing God, and suggested instead that the world could have originated from something like a seed or an egg. In Hume’s words, published posthumously in 1779, “There are other parts of the universe (besides the machines of human invention) which bear still a greater resemblance to the fabric of the world, and which, therefore, afford a better conjecture concerning the universal origin of the system. These parts are animals and plants. The world plainly resembles more an animal or a vegetable, than it does a watch or a knitting-loom … And does not a plant or an animal, which springs from vegetation or generation, bear a stronger resemblance to the world, than does any artificial machine, which arises from reason and design?” 58 Hume’s argument was surprisingly prescient in the light of modern cosmology. Until the 1960s, most scientists still thought of the universe as a machine, and moreover as a machine that was running out of steam, heading for its final heat death. According to the second law of thermodynamics, promulgated in 1855, the universe would gradually lose the capacity to do work. It would eventually freeze in “a state of universal rest and death,” as William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin, put it. 59 It was not until 1927 that Georges Lemaître, a cosmologist and Roman Catholic priest, advanced a scientific hypothesis like Hume’s idea of the origin of the universe in an egg or seed. Lemaître suggested that the universe began with a “creation-like event,” which he described as “the cosmic egg exploding at the moment of creation.” 60 Later called the Big Bang, this new cosmology echoed many archaic stories of origins, like the Orphic creation myth of the Cosmic Egg in ancient Greece, or the Indian myth of Hiranyagarbha, the primal Golden Egg. 61 Significantly, in all these myths the egg is both a primal unity and a primal polarity, since an egg is a unity composed of two parts, the yolk and the white, an apt symbol of the emergence of “many” from “one.” Lemaître’s theory predicted the expansion of the universe, and was supported by the discovery that galaxies outside our own are moving away from us with a speed proportional to their distance. In 1964, the discovery of a faint background glow everywhere in the universe, the cosmic microwave background radiation, revealed what seemed to be fossil light left over from the early universe, soon after the Big Bang. The evidence for an initial “creation-like event” became overwhelming, and by 1966 the Big Bang theory became orthodox. Cosmology now tells a story of a universe that began extremely small, less than the size of a pinhead, and very hot. It has been expanding ever since. As it grows, it cools down, and as it cools, new forms and structures appear within it: atomic nuclei and electrons, stars, galaxies, planets, molecules, crystals and biological life. The machine metaphor has long outlived its usefulness, and holds back scientific thinking in physics, biology and medicine. Our growing, evolving universe is much more like an organism, and so is the earth, and so are oak trees, and so are dogs, and so are you.
58. Hume (2008), Part VII. 59. Thomson (1852). 60. Singh (2004). 61. Long (1983)
Sheldrake, Rupert (2012-09-04). Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery (p. 52,53). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
from Christianity Unshackled by Harold Eberle,
Many agnostics will reason that if there is a God, then it is His responsibility to reveal Himself. Certainly a person cannot be expected to believe in something that cannot be seen or verified. Certainly if there is a God, He will not hold us accountable to believe in Him, since He is the one who is failing to make Himself known. It is His fault that we do not believe in Him— or so the agnostic reasons.
Yet, it is the western worldview that blinds a person from seeing the reality of God. To see this more clearly, think again of the words we quoted earlier from the famous atheist Richard Dawkins: “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.” Dawkins can only make this statement because he has assumed the worldview of modern Western intellectualism. However, if we hold to a worldview with no wall between the spiritual and natural realms, we could restructure Dawkins’ words to state: “The worldview of modern Western intellectualism is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think about God and evaluate evidence for His existence.”
The truth is that any worldview that relegates things like God, religion, and faith to the spiritual world is a worldview built on an indefensible foundation. It may be attractive to people who want to distance themselves from facing reality, but it is tragic when modern-day Christians get pulled into that deceptive way of thinking.
Most Christians think that their worldview has been built on a biblical foundation. In reality, Western Christianity has a mixture of biblical thought and Western thought. It is most accurate to say that Western Christianity is the result of taking biblical truths and laying them upon the spiritual/ natural division developed by the ancient Greek philosophers.
That division became more and more pronounced throughout the later part of the Middle Ages. As I mentioned earlier, theology and philosophy were king and queen in the kingdom of education. Much more than the Bible, Aristotle’s writings were the focus of study. When discussing theology, students and professors spent most of their time dissecting and rehashing the writings of Church giants like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas— leaders who had developed their theology on the ancient Greek foundation.
When the historical Church went through the Scientific Revolution along with the rest of Western society, it was pulled right along and in many ways was at the forefront of change. The separation of the spiritual and natural worlds became even more clearly defined. Then God and faith were compartmentalized in the spiritual world while science and knowledge were compartmentalized in the natural world.
This compartmentalization was most prominent in philosophy. When philosophers such as Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Hegel developed their ideas, they each built on the spiritual/ natural division. Even today Western philosophy is fully locked into the dichotomous world-view laid down by the ancient Greek philosophers.
Unfortunately, Christian theology developed side-by-side and intertwined with Western philosophy. Church leaders like Martin Luther and John Calvin were fully submerged in the Western dichotomy of the spiritual world versus the natural world. Of course, they did not limit God to the spiritual world, but they still were Western people with Western minds. It is disturbing for modern Christians to hear this, but in some ways, Plato and Aristotle have had a more profound impact upon Western Christianity than the apostle Paul (proven by the fact that most university-educated Christians today cannot agree with Paul that God’s existence is undeniable and obvious).
There are many implications of this that we will discuss as we continue. Here we can simply mention how the foundation that divides the spiritual world from the natural world tends to create a lifestyle separated from the spiritual and supernatural. This is most obvious by considering a Western-minded atheist and then relating that to a modern Christian. Let me explain.
If God were to perform a miracle healing before a crowd of Western-minded atheists, they would make every attempt to give a natural explanation for the event. In their minds, natural events must have natural causes. Therefore, if God were to work a miraculous healing in their presence, thoughts would immediately go through their minds that the healing was not a true miracle but perhaps the result of coincidence, psychosomatic phenomenon, or deception. The modern Western mind can’t help but impose such thoughts upon supernatural experiences. Because the framework through which they view life allows for no miracles, they must search for a natural explanation— and they usually find it.
This same process goes through the mind of Christians who have been indoctrinated in the Western worldview. They may want to believe, but their minds will mold the events to fit the split spiritual/ natural framework. Such patterns of thought go beyond our understanding of miracles and permeate all our understanding. They subtly create a lifestyle separated from the spiritual and supernatural. They lead to a form of godliness, but deny the power.
Eberle, Harold (2009-12-28). Christianity Unshackled: Are You A Truth Seeker (pp. 90-94). Destiny Image, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
[Wurmbrand relates this story from his life during World War Two to comfort a fellow prisoner in the Communist gulag they shared; who has betrayed another prisoner out of fear and at the time could not forgive himself]
When Rumania entered the war on Germany’s side, a pogrom began in which many thousands of Jews were killed or deported. At Iasi alone 11,000 were massacred in a day. My wife, who shares my Protestant faith, is also of Jewish origin. We lived in Bucharest, from which the Jews were not deported, but her parents, one of her brothers, three sisters and other relatives who lived in Bocovine were taken to Transmistria, a wild border Province which the Rumanians had captured from Russia. Jews who were not murdered at the end of this…
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The Trinity can also be compared to a torch or taper, which consist of wax and wick twined together, and a flame that flares from them both. And just as this wax, wick, and flame are used to light a fire, so the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost kindle among Christian people a fire of love and of faith which cleanses them from their sins. And as you sometimes see a torch whose flame is suddenly blown out, yet whose wick continues to smolder without setting fire to the matchwood, so the Holy Ghost is a God without mercy, and a Grace without life, to all those so depraved as to wish to quench true love, or destroy the very life which our Lord created.
‘Workmen who stay awake on winter nights are not cheered so much by glowing embers as they are by a blazing torch, or by a candle, or anything that gives out flame. So, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost do not grant men grace or forgiveness of sins till the fire of the Holy Ghost begins to burn and to blaze. For the Holy Ghost glows by as an ember until true love lies down by His fire and blows it into flame; and then He flares out like a living fire, and warms the Father and the Son and melts their power into mercy. So, in winter, you can see icicles on the roofs of house, which once they feel the heat of the sun, melt in a minute into mist and water; and in the same way the grace of the Holy Ghost melts into mercy the great might of the Trinity—but only for those who practice mercy themselves.