Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘atheism’


I remember sitting in the movie theater when I was 13, watching the trailer: “In space no one can hear you scream.” What a line! I had to see that movie. A legendary series that saved the movie studio was born. Ripley was the heroine, a strong woman in a world of men fighting the perfect killing machine. But she wasn’t just fighting the Alien, she was fighting “the company” who mysteriously knew about this creature and wanted to use it for military purposes.

Though the first two movies were very different (Ridley Scott’s was a suspenseful horror film that slowly turned up the tension while James Cameron directed a non-stop action movie) but both were successful. The two that followed lacked a strong hand at the helm. The third, suffering from numerous re-writes and directorial changes. Its confusing vision resulted in the worst David Fincher movie every. One thing it did reveal was that the Alien borrowed some DNA from its host during incubation. The series, like the original Jurassic Park, struggled with the tendency to separate science from ethics. The pursuit of how or if blinded humanity to whether it should be done.

There was really no where for the franchise to go after Alien Resurrection, unless you wanted Earth to become extinct. Enter Ridley Scott and the decision to go back instead of forward.

He began with Prometheus whose main characters were Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and a synthetic named David. The rather convoluted story with a proto-Alien involves an alien race first seeding (panspermia) planets and then destroying the life they produced. Scott, who is reputed to be an atheist, avoids many who resist creation with this ridiculous premise. Dan Brown’s novel Deception Point floats the same theory. The problem is, where did the aliens come from? So you may explain life on Earth, but not LIFE. The movie ends with Shaw (another strong female lead) and David flying off in our “creators'” space ship with a payload of the virus intended to destroy life on Earth.

Alien: Covenant begins with Weyland and the newly created David prior to the trip on the Prometheus. David is nearly human, reflecting his creator in a reflection of Adam’s creation by God in His image. We see glimpses of David’s arrogance after he plays Wagner’s Entry of the Gods into Valhalla. He wants to throw off his creator’s shackles.

The location shifts to the future, post-Prometheus, on the ship Covenant. It is headed to a far off planet to colonize it. During a recharging stop, an accident occurs which wakes up the ship’s crew and loss of life including the captain. Most of the 200 colonists are safe in cyro-sleep. and the 1,000+ embryos are safe as well. We are introduced to the new captain (a Christian or person of similar faith) as well as the original captain’s surviving wife. The captain is dogmatic in his orders, fearing they, like the company, won’t respect a man of faith. If there is a mistake to be made, this man will make it over the course of the movie. The grieving widow? She is the strong female lead similar to Ripley and Shaw. There is a new synthetic, named Walter, who looks like David and is also played by Michael Fassbender. Improvements have been made we learn by depriving him of David’s creativity.

While outside the ship performing repairs one of the crew is outside the communications’ buffer and receives a transmission. They soon discover it is a human being singing Country Roads by John Denver. Tracking the transmission they discover a closer planet that seems even more suitable for human life. With a crew afraid of cyro-sleep the captain decides to investigate, and so the fun begins.

There are a number of twists and turns in the film as we discover the ship that once carried Shaw and David, and a new way to “catch” the alien virus. So there is some novelty in the midst of the familiar. Now stranded on the planet, they are rescued by David and slowly discover what David has been doing since being stranded on this planet. Like man, he is a creation turned destructive seeking to destroy his creator. Apparently everyone hates humans in Scott’s universe. We discover that David has turned the virus which produced proto-aliens into the form of alien we see in the original films. We also see the Captain who fails to destroy David after his collusion with one of the proto-aliens, fall for the trap David sets for him so the alien we are all familiar with finally appears.

The movie has a shocking ending after Daniels and and Tennessee kill an alien that inexplicably shows up on the Covenant. The movie ends as it began, with Wagner’s piece playing. The gods have entered Valhalla to continue the quest to destroy humanity.

I thought is was a good movie with enough new material that it was not stale and predictable. It also had enough similarities that it felt like an Alien film rather than a generic science fiction thriller. Ridley Scott had to walk a tightrope similar to that of J.J. Abrams with the new Star Wars triology. It was not as good as the originals, but that is a high bar. It was certainly better than Alien III and Alien Resurrection (not difficult). Rather than being built around Ripley (Signorney Weaver) this series of movies is built about Michael Fassbender even though they have a different strong female lead in each film. It is not as confusing as Prometheus and more enjoyable.

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


In this barren wasteland of books on the Trinity there are only a few oases out there. If you believe Michael Reeves, and I suspect you should, this is thanks to Schleiermacher who basically treated the Trinity as extraneous to Christianity. In Michael Reeves’ Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith he treats the Trinity as the hub upon which all of Christianity turns. That is part of what makes this particular volume on the Trinity unique. He explicitly states and develops this as a steady drumbeat in the book.

“For God is triune, and it is as triune that he is so good and desireable.”

In part, the book is an apologetic for Christianity in general and the Trinity in particular. He spends some time examining what happens if you don’t have a Trinity, what does that mean about God. To put it simply, God is not love. He is wanting a creation, if he wants a creation that serves him. But if God is love, and there are more than 3 persons in this eternal community of love we understand creation (and redemption) as an overflow of the love they have for one another. This sets Christianity into a different light, a greater light.

“Before he ever created, before he ever ruled the world, before anything else, this God was a Father loving his Son.”

For instance, love is the motive for the mission of God. I am currently reading a book on that subject and the author of this otherwise good book seems to neglect this as the reason. He’s not seeing the mission as the Father sending the Son to adopt more children, but more a Creator wanting to be obeyed. This focus on God as loving community helps to clear the air of many misconceptions and present a more winsome Christianity.

“He creates as a Father and he rules as a Father; and that means the way he rules over creation is most unlike the way any other God would rule over creation.”

For instance, in the last chapter he explores how this focus influences how we view various attributes of God. God’s holiness, for instance, is that he is separate from us in that he loves. In Leviticus 19, he reminds us, that the call to be holy, or perfect, as he is is surrounded by the command to love your neighbor as yourself and explanations of what that looks like (caring for the poor, for instance). So our holiness is not to be mere obedience. Our holiness is to be a love that reaches out to others as God has reached out to us in order to meet the needs of others. Oh, there is obedience but as Jesus said in John’s Gospel this is because love Him who first loved us.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


We’ve had a number of events recently that have shaken many Americans to the core. The reality of evil was pressed home in painful fashion. Sadly, most Americans aren’t prepared to face the reality of evil. If people are considered basically good, then we essentially think such things should not happen here where we are educated and prosperous. Those things only happen there, wherever there may be. But not to us, not on our shores.

There are a number of books that have tried to tackle this problem. Some good. Some bland. And some quite horrible, like the sadly popular book by Rabbi Kushner about the God who wants to help but really can’t. He also assumes there are good people.

“To come to grips with the problem of evil and suffering, you must do more than hear heart-wrenching stories about suffering people. You must hear God’s truth to help you interpret those stories.”

Randy Alcorn has released The Goodness of God: Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering for this reason. It is a shorter version (120 pages) of his book If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering. It makes a readable, meaningful book that you can hand out to people who are suffering, or struggling with the suffering of others. He covers lots of ground in succinct fashion, including illustrations and examples to help people understand his point. It is not dry and academic. He writes of his own suffering and how he had to make sense of it. He believes any faith that doesn’t prepare you for suffering is not a biblical faith, and our churches must do a better job teaching biblical theology to prepare people for suffering.

“The pain of suffering points to something deeply and unacceptably flawed about this world we inhabit.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Someone sent me a link today for an article in Psychology Today called Why Atheism Will Replace Religion.  It claims to have evidence to support this assertion. To steal a phrase, “that’s mighty bold talk for a one-eyed fat man, I mean soft science!”

What is the evidence offered? First, atheism is on the rise in industrialized nations. It is most prominent in Europe, and nearly non-existent in sub-Sahara Africa.

Atheism is correlated with higher education and affluence. The author sees religion as a way of coping with fear. In those prosperous nations, there is less to fear. This is particularly true as they have developed extensive social welfare programs.

These nations, he notes, are also marked by a decreasing birth rate. This is because fewer people are needed to work the land. He sees a tie between an agrarian economy, birthrates and atheism.  The modern man has “tamed” much of life’s unpredictability, he thinks, and no longer needs God. Or children.

As an “evolutionary psychologist’ the author, Nigel Barber sees this as a good evolution.

So, what is the problem?

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God,… Deuteronomy 8 (ESV)

Approximate 3,400 years ago God predicted this exact pattern in the life of Israel. It is not a new thing. Prosperity produces pride which means that people forget God. This begins with practical atheism and morphs into theoretical atheism. The rise of theoretical atheism in Europe should not surprise the biblically informed person. This has been happening for thousands of years!

But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. 5 It was I who knew you in the wilderness,    in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me. Hosea 13 (ESV)

But can atheism replace religion? In the short term, yes. In the long term, no.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


In the 5th chapter of his book Generous Justice, Keller takes up the topic of motivations for justice.  As those who seek to encourage others to act justly, we have to recognize that some attempts to motivate others just don’t work (I know that sounds pragmatic, but it is not the intention).  They are not satisfying and truly motivating.

Ignorance regarding our responsibility to pursue justice can happen (though I would argue that like the knowledge of God we tend to suppress it in our unrighteousness).  But people need more than information.  Motivation, like for the actor, is all-important.  He notes that appeals to reason, love and mercy just don’t provide the necessary motivation to change behavior.  Keller draws on the work of people like Authur Leff.  Sad, sentimental stories don’t really change anything.  They don’t move people to act beyond perhaps an impulsive decision to call in a donation.  It didn’t break the back of any injustice.

The Bible gives believers two basic motivations- joyful awe before the goodness of God’s creation, and the experience of God’s grace in redemption.

Some might say, “Wait a minute!  John talked about love as the motivation in his first letter.”  Yeah, but as you examine the context you also see that it is connected to God’s redemptive love for us which provided propitiation for our sins.  But back to Keller’s argument.

Apart from a belief in creation, there really is no good reason to treat anyone or anything as having dignity or purpose.  This is one of the problems of atheism and agnosticism.  They act like they have logical beliefs, but confess a world that is purely accidental and without purpose.  All meaning is therefore created meaning- created by us and therefore relativized.

(more…)

Read Full Post »