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Columbus and The Flat Earth Myth: Washington Irving's "Mischievous Nonsense"

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In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He took three ships with him, too, And called aboard his faithful crew. Mighty, strong and brave was he As he sailed across the open sea. Some people still thought the world was flat! Can you even image that?
- A traditional child’s poem -
In a recent post we remarked that conventional wisdom assumes a perpetual conflict between Christianity and science—perpetual and inevitable—because the two are inherently irreconcilable.[1] The history of science is said to be the history of the emancipation of the human race from the ignorance and superstition foisted upon society by two millennia of Christian teaching by obscurantist clergy who suppressed (sometimes violently) discoveries that undermined the view of the world as depicted in the Bible.
John William Draper, for example, accused the Catholic Church of “ferociously suppressing by the stake and the sword every attempt at progress.”[2] This idea of the violent persecution of sc…

A Few Thoughts on Creation

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. ~ Genesis 1:1 ~
This simple statement is staggering in its implications. It provides us with a wealth of information. A series of affirmations and denials can be derived from it that has a bearing not only on theology, but also anthropology, philosophy, history, science, and ethics. In fact, there is no area of human thought that ought not presuppose the truths contained in it.
(1) The statement denies atheism, not so much by affirming as by assuming the existence of God.[1]
(2) It denies polytheism in all its forms and affirms by implication the existence of one eternal God, the Creator and Lord of all.
(3) It denies pantheism and affirms the existence of God before and apart from the heavens and the earth.
(4) It denies emanationism[2] and affirms that all things were made by a purposeful act of divine will.
(5) It denies eternality to the cosmos and affirms its beginning.
(6) It denies that the universe exists necessarily and affir…

Christianity and Science

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Conventional wisdom has it that there is interminable conflict between Christianity and science, that the two are irreconcilable. The conflict thesis—as this idea is called—was touted in two widely influential books written in the second half of the 19th century:  History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) by John William Draper and History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896) by Andrew Dickson White. Draper, for instance, wrote:
The history of Science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human interests on the other.[1]
The tale goes something like this: The theoretical foundations for science were laid by the ancient Greeks when they began the project of seeking natural explanations for natural phenomena instead of resorting to explanations involving the activity of…

Complete in Christ

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In his letter to the Colossians, in which Paul takes great pains to tell his readers that nothing needs to be added to what Christ has done for our redemption, he writes, “In him you have been made complete” (Col. 2:10). We are complete in Christ because of who he is and because of what he has done for us.
Who is Jesus? He is a man like no other. He is quite literally in a class all by himself. People sometimes speak of the world’s great religious leaders and mention Jesus along with the likes of Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius, Zoroaster, Gandhi, and even Abraham and Moses. But when they speak this way, they are not speaking accurately. Why? Because Jesus is utterly unique. These other men were only men—fallen, sinful human beings like the rest of us. Jesus, on the other hand, is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). He is the divine Word made flesh (Jn. 1:1, 14). He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb. 1:3). He is the Son of God (Mk. 1:1). Th…

The Ascension of Christ

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The ascension is perhaps the most overlooked and underappreciated event in the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection figure prominently in evangelical preaching, as well they should. But why is so little attention given to the Ascension, especially since the subject is mentioned so frequently in Scripture? Jesus foretold it (e.g., Jn. 6:62; 14:12; 16:5ff; 20:17); Mark and Luke record it as a historical event (Mk. 16:19; Lk. 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11); and both Paul and the writer of Hebrews explain its implications (e.g., Eph. 1:20-23; 4:8-10; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:3; 4:14; 9:24). Why then is such scant attention given to it today? I can only assume it’s because its significance is not well understood. What a pity! There are few things that demonstrate the glory of Christ quite like the ascension. It’s one of the greatest honors the Father has been pleased to confer upon the Son. Luke recounts it briefly:
And when he had said these things, as th…