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Changing Thoughts

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Changing Thoughts Changing Thoughts Presentation Transcript

  • Changing ThoughtsWali Memon 1 Wali Memon
  • Prologue…Neuroscientists have recently shown that biases in thinkingare built into the way the brain processes information.In a study of people being monitored with magnetic resonance imagingwhile they were trying to process dissonant or consonant information,researchers found that the reasoning areas of the brain virtually shut downwhen participants were confronted with dissonant information, and thatemotion circuits of the brain lit up happily when consonance was restored.Researchers also demonstrated that information which contradicts yourpoint of view can make you even more convinced that you are right.So, there is a neurological basis for the observation that onceour minds are made up, it is very hard to change them. From: Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me). C. Travis & E. Aronson. (2007). In short, if you don’t agree with what I am about to say… 2 there Memon Wali is very little chance that you will change your mind ☺
  • • “The enterprise of science requires the adoption of certain values that are adhered to by its practitioners with exceptional rigor.”• “Truth and honor are of the utmost importance.”• “Science requires the freedom to enquire, to challenge, to think, and to imagine the unimagined.”• “It cannot function within the arbitrary limitations of convention, nor can it flourish if it is forced to shy away from challenging the accepted paradigm…”• “…disputes (are) arbitrated by the rules of evidence and rationality.”• “(There is no place) for theological autocrats who preach an intolerant doctrine.”3 Wali Memon Ismail Serafeldin, Director Science 3 June 2011 Library of Alexandria View slide
  • Likewise, the enterprise of religion requires the adoption of certainvalues that are adhered to by its practitioners with exceptional rigor.” Rule # 1: “The Truths of Scripture must be held inviolate!” Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354 A.D. to 430 A.D.) St. Augustine the Blessed Bishop of Hippo Defender of the Faith4 Wali Memon View slide
  • In science, truths are derived from publiclyverifiable, statistically valid, evidence. They standas truths only until such time as they aredisproven.In religion, truths are derived from Scripture andmust be held inviolate… now and for all time. “Houston we have a problem…” 5 Wali Memon
  • A (very) brief history of the integration of faith and science…6 Wali Memon
  • For a time the Church taught that God said… • The earth was flat… with four sides… • It sat immobile on firm foundations… • It had with four winds… • It was 6/7 land and 1/7 water… • Jerusalem was at the center… • It bounded by Paradise in the east… • and the Pillars of Hercules in the west... …beyond which, none shall pass!7 Wali Memon
  • Topografia Christiana by Cosmas Indicopleutes8 Wali Memon 6th Century
  • OronceFine1536 9 Wali Memon
  • As it turned out the Earth was…• NOT flat… nor four cornered…• nor did it have firm foundations…• nor did it have four winds…• nor was it 6/7 land and 1/7 water…• nor was Jerusalem at the center…• nor was it bounded by Paradise in the east…• nor the Pillars of Hercules in the west...10 Wali Memon …beyond which, none shall pass!
  • Oops…11 Wali Memon
  • Oops… Who was wrong? Was God wrong? Was Scripture wrong? Was the interpretation wrong?Or perhaps it is simply wrong for the Church to use God to defend its favorite ideas about the natural world… What can we learn from this?12 Wali Memon
  • For a time the church taught that God said…The earth (and thus man) isat the center of everything!“The Scriptures prove that theearth is immovable, and sits atthe center of the universe.” Pope Urban the 8th 13 Wali Memon
  • For a time the Church taught that God said… “You must not experiment with optics… … for tampering with “light” is tampering with the very nature of Christ! (Jesus is “the light of the world”).14 Wali Memon
  • For a time the Church taught that God said… “You must not cut into the human body… … for the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.”15 Wali Memon
  • For a time the Church taught that God said… “You must not tamper with the Divine prescription for healing (James 5:14-15)... … for all other medical intervention demonstrates a lack of faith.” 16 Wali Memon
  • For a time the Church taught that God said… “You must not use an anesthetic in childbirth… … for it thwarts God’s intent to make women suffer for their role in the Fall of Man.”17 Wali Memon
  • For a time the Church taught that God said…“You must not tamper with the human heart…… for in it the soul resides.” We accept Jesus into our hearts… thus, tampering with the heart is heresy!18 Wali Memon
  • So… Who was wrong? Was God wrong? Was Scripture wrong? Was the interpretation wrong?Or perhaps it is simply wrong for the Church to use God to defend its favorite ideas about the natural world… What can we learn from this?19 Wali Memon
  • And along comes Darwin…“…and the Church teaches that God says…”20 Wali MemonCould it be “déjà vu” all over again???
  • So here’s the rub…What do we do when the evidenceseems to contradict faith?“Houston we have a problem…”21 Wali Memon
  • And the problem seems to reside here…Biblical inerrancy -- the doctrinal position that theBible is accurate and totally free of error.To be a good Christian is it necessary to assume thatScripture is without error?Biblical literalism -- the doctrinal position that theexplicit and primary meaning of the words in theBible is the only correct interpretation.To be a good Christian is it necessary to assume thatScripture is literally true? 22 Wali Memon
  • …and the (Conservative Evangelical, Fundamentalist) Church teaches that God saysTo be a Christian youmust believe that theBible is without errorof any kind… andTo be a Christian youmust believe that thecontents of the Bibleare literally true. 23 Wali Memon
  • But some really wise and influential Christians have disagreed…“It not infrequently happens that something about theearth, about the sky, about other elements of this world,about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude anddistances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sunand moon, about the passage of years and seasons, aboutthe nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of othersuch things, may be known with the greatest certainty byreasoning or by experience, even by one who is not aChristian.” The Literal Interpretation of Genesis (De Genesi ad literam 1:19–20) 24 Wali Memon St. Augustine of Hippo 354 – 430 A.D.
  • “It is disgraceful and ruinous though, and greatly to beavoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear aChristian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and asif in accord with Christian writings, that he might saythat he could scarcely keep from laughing when he sawhow totally in error they are.” The Literal Interpretation of Genesis (De Genesi ad literam 1:19–20) St. Augustine of Hippo "The Bible is literally true so we know humans and dinosaurs existed at the same time, not only were they not eating us, but like in the Flintstones they helped us do stuff.“25 Wali Memon Ken Ham
  • Thus, Augustine took the view that Scriptureshould not be interpreted as literal, but ratheras metaphorical, especially if it contradictswhat we know from science and our God-given reason.It’s one thing to be “a fool for Christ…”But quite another to make Christ look foolishbecause of your misguided beliefs…26 Wali Memon
  • Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides) 1138 – 1204 A.D. Cordoba, Spain Alexandria, Egypt Extensive writings Judaism, rabbinic law, philosophy… Mishnah Torah The Guide for the Perplexed Plus 10 known medical books covering pharmacology, toxicology, healthy living, asthma, hemorrhoids, and even27 Wali Memon aphrodisiacs.
  • Remember, this the 12th Century…According to Maimonides, “The first purpose of “TheGuide for the Perplexed” is to instruct a religious person,who believes in the law (aka Scriptures) and has studiedphilosophy (aka science) and is perplexed by thecontradictions between the two.”“He is in a dilemma as to whether he should follow hisreason and renounce the literal sense of the biblical text,thereby abandoning the law, in his view, or should hetake the biblical terms literally and discard his reason. Ifso, he harms himself and his religious faith, for he wouldgo on suffering heartache and great perplexity.” 28 Wali Memon
  • Maimonides begins his “Guide for the Perplexed” with astrong argument against anthropomorphism.In the Bible, one can find many expressions whichdescribe God in human terms, for instance the "hand ofGod". Maimonides was strongly opposed to what hebelieved to be a heresy present in unlearned Jews whothen assume God to be corporeal (or even possessingpositive characteristics).Based on this, Maimonides concluded that demandingthat Scripture be understood as literally true was heresy.29 Wali Memon
  • For Maimonides, the words of Scripture had twolevels of meaning like an apple of gold covered by asilver filigree with many small holes through whichthe careful observer can view the gold beneath.He taught that the use of parables, metaphors, andanalogies in Scripture were meant to provide anexternal meaning useful in day-to-day human welfareand a more profound internal meaning pertaining tospiritual truth.He cautioned that many well-intentioned individualsmight look on the shiny silver filigree and miss thegolden apples of spiritual truth that were by far moreimportant.His “Guide for the Perplexed” was, in part, meant tohelp remedy that problem. 30 Wali Memon
  • Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) influenced by both Augustine and Maimonides… He also spoke on the integration of faith and reason…“…two rules are to observed, as Augustine teaches (Gen. ad lit. i, 18).“The first is, to hold the truth of Scripture without wavering.The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in amultiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation,only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it, if it be proved withcertainty to be false; lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of 31 Wali Memonunbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.”
  • So…To be a good Christian is it necessary to assume thatScripture is without error?To be a good Christian is it necessary to assume thatScripture is literally true?It seems the answer is “No” to both questions……and it may, in fact, be heresy to answer “Yes.”32 Wali Memon
  • What can we learn from this?1) “Take great care before we use God to defend our particular opinions about the study of the natural world.” (Do not use the name of God for your own vain purposes… The heresy of blasphemy).2) Don’t demand special interpretations of Scripture that run the risk of making God appear foolish when the evidence stands against them.3) Do not get caught up in the mistake of saying: “If science is right, …then the Bible is wrong!” or 33 “If the Bible is right …then science is wrong!” Wali Memon
  • 4) Beware of “fideism”Your faith is not whatmakes the “truth” true.Even the faith of manypeople will not makesomething true. 34 Wali Memon
  • “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein, 1941 "Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium"35 Wali Memon