In this provocative new addition to the Theology and the Sciences series, Patricia Williams assays the original sin doctrine with a scientific lens and, based on sociobiology, offers an alternative Christian account of human nature's foibles and future. Focusing on the Genesis 2 and 3 account, Williams shows how its "historical" interpretation in early Christianity not only misread the text but derived an idea of being human profoundly at odds with experience and contemporary science. After gauging Christianity's several competing notions of human nature -- Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox -- against contemporary biology, Williams turns to sociobiological accounts of the evolution of human dispositions toward reciprocity and limited cooperation as a source of human good and evil. From this vantage point she offers new interpretations of evil, sin, and the Christian doctrine of atonement. Williams's work, frank in its assessment of traditional misunderstandings, challenges theologians and all Christians to reassess the roots and branches of this linchpin doctrine.
A new examination of the doctrine of original sin In this provocative new addition to the acclaimed series, Patricia Williams assays the doctrine of original sin with a scientific lens and, based on sociobiology, offers an alternative Christian account of human nature's foibles and future. Focusing on the Genesis 2 and 3 account Williams shows how its "historical" interpretation in early Christianity not only misread the text but derived an idea of being human profoundly at odds with experience and contemporary science. Williams's work, frank in its assessment of traditional misunderstandings, challenges theologians and all Christians to reassess the roots and branches of this linchpin doctrine.
The current age marks the transition from modernity to postmodernity, a period as impactful to the Western sensibility as any previous era. The role of religion and the future of Christianity are at stake. At this time of transition, many thoughtful individuals find themselves at a quandary, having reached a critical stage in their spiritual journey. Prompted by academia, science, reason, culture, and their own experience, they feel compelled to choose between the beliefs they inherited as children and the claims of science, reason, pluralism, and secularism. Beyond Belief suggests that one need not take an either/or approach on these issues; there is a better way, one that embraces adventure and ambiguity, science and religion, reason and faith, evolution and creation, and finds ways to live creatively with realities for which there are no easy explanations. Building on a paradigmatic journey of faith that involves three stages (precritical, critical, and postcritical understanding), Beyond Belief describes the quest for God and for authentic faith in the twenty-first century. The key point for this understanding is to replace belief with faith, acknowledging that belief in doctrines is not central, since they are themselves unprovable. This new theological perspective requires rethinking many of our cherished doctrines, including our understanding of God, Jesus, Scripture, prayer, miracles, and revelation.
The Rest of the Story Secrets from the Ancient Wisdom of the Jews
Author: Rabbi Boruch David
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
This first volume of the Torah for Nations series is a detailed and intimate presentation of the story of Adam and Eve. While remaining true to the literal text of the Bible, it enhances the Biblical narrative by expanding the conversations between G-d, Adam, Eve, and the serpent. These enhanced conversations, while imaginative, remain true to ancient Jewish interpretation and weave a comprehensive understanding of traditional Jewish philosophy and theology within the story line. Additionally, each conversation is supported by essays that prepare the reader to better appreciate the subtleties and lessons inherent in the conversations. Questions follow each chapter to stimulate discussion and further study. An introductory section presents key concepts of traditional Jewish belief such as creation, the age of the universe, the purpose of existence, choseness, and human limitations. Additionally, footnotes are incorporated in lieu of a glossary of Hebrew terms, making the text more user friendly and accessible. As mentioned, this is intended as the first volume of a series that will span the entire Old Testament and should take five to seven plus years to complete.
Evolution has provided a new understanding of reality, with revolutionary consequences for Christianity. In an evolutionary perspective the incarnation involved God entering the evolving human species to help it imitate the trinitarian altruism in whose image it was created and counter its tendency to self-absorption. Primarily, however, the evolutionary achievement of Jesus was to confront and overcome death in an act of cosmic significance, ushering humanity into the culminating stage of its evolutionary destiny, the full sharing of God’s inner life. Previously such doctrines as original sin, the fall, sacrifice, and atonement stemmed from viewing death as the penalty for sin and are shown not only to have serious difficulties in themselves, but also to emerge from a Jewish culture preoccupied with sin and sacrifice that could not otherwise account for death. The death of Jesus on the cross is now seen as saving humanity, not from sin, but from individual extinction and meaninglessness. Death is now seen as a normal process that affect all living things and the religious doctrines connected with explaining it in humans are no longer required or justified. Similar evolutionary implications are explored affecting other subjects of Christian belief, including the Church, the Eucharist, priesthood, and moral behavior.
Rating: Excellent Reviewed by: Eric Jones It’s become rather fashionable in literature today for authors to put a new spin on the link between science and religion. As both philosophies continue to collide, spin, and evolve into one another readers have been treated to books like Genome Scientist Francis Collins’ “Language of God”, which presents religion from a scientific point of view, along with rebuttals like Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”, but nobody makes an argument quite like Ahamed V.P. Kutty. In his similar exploration of these worlds, Kutty presents evidence in the face of a religious question often overlooked among Christians, Muslims, and Jewish practitioners. The question is simple: If incest is a sin, and Adam and Eve were the first humans created by God to conceive and populate the earth, then wouldn’t their offspring be forced to mate with one another in order to achieve such ends? In essence, has God, or the creators of the Bible and Qur’an, created a situation where humanity must sin to survive? The answer, as always, is not as simple as the question. As the title might have given away, this is a book of scientific research which takes the writings of biblical scripture into account in order to achieve an answer. As such, it assumes that the reader is also religious. But not blindly so, as an overwhelming amount of scientists are turning to religion to solve the questions that they themselves cannot, it is no small readership that Kutty addresses. And his writing is cleverly detailed from both points of view so that ministers of faith will find it just as interesting as those of science. Answering the proposed thesis leads the reader on a journey through many questions that befuddle even the most devout religious followers. Where is the biblical Garden of Eden? How does religion account for the theory of evolution? Who are the real Adam and Eve? Is the Bible meant to be taken literally, or as hyperbole? Walking a middle path between the radical views of both science and religion is bound to offend fringe readers, but I think the majority of us tend to hold a similar middle ground. And for us, Kutty lays an overwhelming amount of evidence at our feet, which take all widely accepted viewpoints regarding the nature of evolution, the Garden of Eden, and the many different versions of Adam and Eve, into account. Often Kutty excludes the verbalized opinion that is so prominent in the works of his contemporaries, allowing the reader to connect the dots for themselves having looked over each textual exhibit. This layout is also helpful for quick reading, reference, and maintaining interest of laymen, like me, since all of these points are categorically organized and labeled. Each chapter begins with a clearly stated paragraph that elaborates on its title, and is often followed by the listing of evidence which lead the reader to the drawn conclusion. What Kutty is able to do, using this method, is clearly present his case without reducing anything to simple conjecture. Although this method does have a few minor holes since using evidence connecting so many different sources is sometimes thin. For instance, the use of a theory in general relativity to explain how angels of heaven might be able to travel through wormholes to get between Heaven and Earth is, according to Kutty himself, “not readily acceptable but feasible”. In other words, there is only so much that science can explain. However, the research regarding DNA histories which trace ancestry back to an original Adam and Eve, (though admittedly not the Bible’s Adam and Eve) is extremely positive. These many cases often provide a jumping point for those who wish to examine the issues more closely through the inclusion, at the end of each chapter, of a detailed bibliography. “Adam’s Gene and the Mitochondrial Eve” is brilliant. It constructs a dazzling house of carefully implemente
This collection of essays continues the investigation of religious experience in early Judaism and early Christianity begun in Experientia, Volume 1, by addressing one of the traditional objections to the study of experience in antiquity. The authors address the relationship between the surviving evidence, which is textual, and the religious experiences that precede or ensue from those texts. Drawing on insights from anthropology, sociology, social memory theory, neuroscience, and cognitive science, they explore a range of religious phenomena including worship, the act of public reading, ritual, ecstasy, mystical ascent, and the transformation of gender and of emotions. Through careful and theoretically informed work, the authors demonstrate the possibility of moving from written documents to assess the lived experiences that are linked to them. The contributors are István Czachesz, Frances Flannery, Robin Griffith-Jones, Angela Kim Harkins, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, John R. Levison, Carol A. Newsom, Rollin A. Ramsaran, Colleen Shantz, Leif E. Vaage, and Rodney A. Werline.
With a unique, tongue-in-cheek approach, Moses of Old Testament fame lets us in on a well-kept secret: Adam and Eve had the same marital troubles the rest of us deal with! God Himself counseled the couple through the stages of marriage - from infatuation and courtship to old age and the death of a spouse. The lessons Adam and Eve learned can be applied to every marriage. As Moses says, "I'm sure you're dying to learn . . . the incredible secrets of success . . . and how the first married couple survived nine hundred and thirty years of marriage." Now, Moses reveals that God is upset with the state of marriage today. He tackles the affect these words from scripture have had: "and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Knowing that both women and men have suffered in their relationships and happiness because of this "law," he gives Moses the charge to "give this and future generations the Spousal Golden Rule." Told with humorous asides by Moses, Even Adam and Eve Needed a Marriage Counselor: Moses Tells All, reveals how marriage can become what God desires it to be.
The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence
Author: John Teehan
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Religion is one of the most powerful forces running through human history, and although often presented as a force for good, its impact is frequently violent and divisive. This provocative work brings together cutting-edge research from both evolutionary and cognitive psychology to help readers understand the psychological structure of religious morality and the origins of religious violence. Introduces a fundamentally new approach to the analysis of religion in a style accessible to the general reader Applies insights from evolutionary and cognitive psychology to both Judaism and Christianity, and their texts, to help understand the origins of religious violence Argues that religious violence is grounded in the moral psychology of religion Illustrates its controversial argument with reference to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the response to the attacks from both the terrorists and the President. Suggests strategies for beginning to counter the divisive aspects of religion Discusses the role of religion and religious criticism in the contemporary world. Argues for a position sceptical of the moral authority of religion, while also critiquing the excesses of the “new atheists” for failing to appreciate the moral contributions of religion Awarded Honourable Mention, 2010 Prose Awards