Challenges to Religious Faith





Challenges to Religious Faith

Chapters 1-2

1. There was much conflict between religion and science during the enlightenment period. 

2. Scientific discoveries highlighted the importance of reason. People came to understand that they could use reason to determine the nature of the world and they did not have to depend on religion.

3. The period was characterized by rationalization and great awareness through mathematics and scientific knowledge. People living during that period were self-sufficient and confident in their powers

4. The main role during enlightenment was to encourage morality among the people.

5. People changed their perception of God and they saw Him as one who did not care for His creation. Although they continued to believe in his divine nature, there was less emphasis on his power and ability

6. There is less emphasis on rationalization and people believed less in human perfectibility. People have become more curious and they have come to accept and acknowledge the presence of different religious elements.

7. Psychological effect enhanced by distrust in knowledge not gained scientifically

8. The experiences that people have lead to greater understanding; hence, they are able to make judgments based on what they know.

9. Personal judgment

10. Science claims that its main achievements is a tightening grasp of an actual reality

11. Positivists

Chapters 3-4

1. Theology is a reflection upon a religious experience. It is people’s attempt to use their senses to understand specific instances of their interactions with the way things are

2. One reason is that there is an experience of unity with the ground of all human beings. The other reason is that many people experience religious mystical experiences.

3. The first element is scripture. It refers to the great teachings, events, and figures of the past, which people believe are essential in their search for God and in their understanding of Him. The second element is tradition, which refers to a person’s religious experiences and personal knowledge. The third element is reason, which calls for use of rational faculties and sound learning  

4. the quality of coherence asserts the importance of consistency although it does admit the existence of paradox in religion. Intellectually legitimate theology has to have the economy quality, which advocates more for monotheism over polytheism. The quality of adequacy means that theology has to have thorough knowledge of concepts necessary for explaining all matters of concern. The quality of existential relevance means that there must be a way of interpreting events, which will link theology and religious experiences

5. Process theology

6. Polkinghorne gives the example of an analogy whereby people see God as an old man with a beard

7. They both consider different elements in their respective discourses as a manner of speaking

8. Some people consider religion to be a means to an end. They concentrate more on the purpose that their stories serve rather than on their truthfulness

9. Use of reason and logic alone can explain the existence of something

10. Elusive-the perception that early scientists had concerning the world and science has changed over the years. As people acquire more information, they learn new knowledge, which replaces what early scientists knew

11. Intelligible-mathematics enables greater understanding of the physical world. The ability to understand the physical world convinces a person of its reality

12. Problematic-although much research has led to greater understanding of quantum theory, there is no single way of interpreting it. The different conflicting interpretations of quantum theory suggests that scientists may not always have a clear idea of what they are up to

13. Surprising-scientists focus on gaining new knowledge and explaining phenomena, yet they are not immune to changes and expected events that may occur. By constantly conducting research, they show that they do not have all the answers but this leads to a greater understanding. Therefore, they should open up to any new possibilities 

The least inadequate metaphor/analogy for God according to him

Chapters 5-7

1. a). Miracles and the human destiny beyond the disintegration of the body in death

b). Curious ways in which modern science seems to be pointing beyond itself

c). Scientists and theologians have mutual influence of habits of thought

d). The assertion that all non-scientific levels of meaning are ultimately subverted by thoroughgoing scientific reductionism

2. a). Origins of the universe-the general perception is that the big bang theory contributed to the formation of the universe as it is currently and that human beings have gone through a process of evolution. This is different from the understanding of religion, which posits that God is responsible for all creation including the universe and humanity

b). God’s interaction with the world-religion, especially Christianity believes that God communicates with His people. Science does not uphold the concept of God interacting with a lawful world.

c). Miracles-the Christian religion believes in the existence of biblical miracles. Science focuses on facts, and based on experience, there has been no evidence of resurrected life or any other form of provable miracles

d). future life-the possibility of a life after death is a point of conflict

3. Natural theology refers to a search for God as He is revealed through His creation. It aims at proving that God exists and showing His attributes based on reason and observable facts from the natural world, while focusing less on divine revelation.

4. Polkinghorne uses the phrase the straw deity of the God of the Gaps.

5. Conceptual reductionism asserts that the concepts that can be applied to the whole can also be applied to the parts. Fundamental physics involves studying the units used in creating all entities of the physical world, which is the basis of structural reductionism. Structural reductionism leads to conceptual reductionism  

6. The perplexing problem lies in the puzzle that exists between the mind and the brain. The mind is a symptom of the brain’s physical activity

7. The I-story represents the stream of consciousness consisting of the most basic experiences. The world that we perceive we see around us is the it-story and it is a construct of the material furnished by the I-story. The brain is part of the it-story. Just like the brain influences the mind, the I-story influences the it-story in a similar manner. The I-story to it-story parallels the mind to brain. The I-story represents the internal state of affairs, which have an effect on the external

8. Both science and theology aim at understanding experience. They both involve exploration and a submission to the way things are. Through investigations, science assumes and confirms the source of the rational order and structure, while theology explains it.

9. He refers to the denial of the existence of both science and religion. He explains how he would define a person in scientific terms as an aggregation of atoms and in religious terms as a brother or sister saved by Christ. The reality is that both religion and science exist side by side. Therefore, there is no use denying or rejecting any of them.

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