Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Is the acceleration of the universe’s expansion compatible with Hinduism?

Science and Religion

Science and Religion

First, a news story – and then we’ll see how the accelerating universe relates to the existence of God.

Excerpt:

Three astrophysicists who discovered that the universe’s expansion is accelerating rather than decelerating, as had been expected, win the Nobel Prize in physics.

Adam Riess was sure he’d spotted a blatant error in his results. It was 1997, and the young post-doc’s measurements of distant, exploding stars implied that the universe was expanding at a faster and faster rate, instead of slowing down, as he had expected.

It wasn’t an error at all. Instead, what was at fault were some basic assumptions about the workings of the universe.

On Tuesday, the Johns Hopkins University astrophysicist received the Nobel Prize in physics for the revolutionary discovery and its implications, along with team leader Brian Schmidt of Australian National University and astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter of UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who had reached the same conclusion independently.

At the time of their work, astrophysicists believed that the rate of expansion of the universe — set in motion by the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago — would be slowing down as matter was pulled together by gravity. The goal at the time was to figure out how rapid the deceleration was.

What the two teams found instead was that the expansion of the universe was accelerating — an observation that could best be explained by the existence of a mysterious “dark energy” that pushes matter farther and farther apart.

Many scientists had thought that, just as the universe started with the Big Bang, it would end with a Big Crunch — with gravity pulling all the matter in the universe inward.

Does anyone remember that week that I wrote those posts about “Why I am not a… <insert some religion here>”? I explained why I was not all kinds of different religions and denominations, including Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, etc. Everyone was offended and we fought about it. Ah, I remember it well.

Now let’s apply science to the Hindu religion and see if they go together, especially this new discovery about the expansion of the universe.

Why I am not a Hindu

  1. Hindu cosmology teaches that the universe cycles between creation and destruction, through infinite time.
  2. The closest cosmological model conforming to Hindu Scriptures is the eternally “oscillating” model of the universe.
  3. The “oscillating” model requires that the universe exist eternally into the past.
  4. But the evidence today shows the the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.
  5. The “oscillating” model requires that the expansion of the universe reverse into a collapse, (= crunch).
  6. In 1998, the discovery of the year was that the universe would expand forever. There will be no crunch.
  7. Therefore, the oscillating model is disconfirmed by observations.
  8. The oscillating model also faces theoretical problems with the “bounce” mechanism.

So that’s one reason why I am not a Hindu. And now we have more scientific confirmation that there is no cycle of universes coming into being and going out of being.

The absolute origin of the universe out of nothing is also incompatible with Buddhism and Mormonism and maybe other religions. They also require an eternally existing universe.

And modern cosmology disagrees with atheism, too

I think it’s important for all of you to be familiar with the scientific evidence for the Big Bang. It will help you with your cosmological argument, and it will help you to refute many, many other religions that require eternal universes, including atheism.

I wrote about how the Big Bang cosmology falsifies atheism before.

Excerpt:

According to the Secular Humanist Manifesto, atheism is committed to an eternally existing universe, (See the first item: “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.”). If something non-material brought all existing matter into being, that would be a supernatural cause, and atheists deny that anything supernatural exists. The standard Big Bang theory requires that all the matter in the universe come into being out of nothing. The Big Bang has been confirmed by experimental evidence such as redshift measurements, light element abundances and the cosmic microwave background radiation. This falsifies eternal models of the universe, which are required by atheist Scriptures.

The experimental evidence that confirms the Big Bang creation out of nothing falsifies many worldviews. Those who care about evidence will have to choose some other religion that is compatible with what we know from science today.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Paul Copan explains some responses to postmodernism

Four articles from Paul Copan over at the UK site “BeThinking”. Each article responds to a different slogan that you might hear if you’re dealing with non-Christians on the street.

“That’s just your interpretation!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Gently ask, ‘Do you mean that your interpretation should be preferred over mine? If so, I’d like to know why you have chosen your interpretation over mine. You must have a good reason.’
  • Remind your friend that you are willing to give reasons for your position and that you are not simply taking a particular viewpoint arbitrarily.
  • Try to discern if people toss out this slogan because they don’t like your interpretation. Remind them that there are many truths we have to accept even if we don’t like them.
  • ‘There are no facts, only interpretations’ is a statement that is presented as a fact. If it is just an interpretation, then there is no reason to take it seriously.

More responses are here.

“You Christians are intolerant!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If you say that the Christian view is bad because it is exclusive, then you are also at that exact moment doing the very thing that you are saying is bad. You have to be exclusive to say that something is bad, since you exclude it from being good by calling it bad.
  • There is a difference, a clear difference between tolerance and truth. They are often confused. We should hold to what we believe with integrity but also support the rights of others to disagree with our viewpoint.
  • Sincerely believing something doesn’t make it true. You can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. If I get onto a plane and sincerely believe that it won’t crash then it does, then my sincerity is quite hopeless. It won’t change the facts. Our beliefs, regardless of how deeply they are held, have no effect on reality.

More responses are here.

“That’s true for you, but not for me!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If my belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your belief only true for you? Aren’t you saying you want me to believe the same thing you do?
  • You say that no belief is true for everyone, but you want everyone to believe what you do.
  • You’re making universal claims that relativism is true and absolutism is false. You can’t in the same breath say, ‘Nothing is universally true’ and ‘My view is universally true.’ Relativism falsifies itself. It claims there is one position that is true – relativism!

More responses are here.

“If you were born in India, you’d be a Hindu!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Just because there are many different religious answers and systems doesn’t automatically mean pluralism is correct.
  • If we are culturally conditioned regarding our religious beliefs, then why should the religious pluralist think his view is less arbitrary or conditioned than the exclusivist’s?
  • If the Christian needs to justify Christianity’s claims, the pluralist’s views need just as much substantiation.

More responses are here.

And a bonus: “How do you know you’re not wrong?“.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Paul Copan explains some responses to postmodernism

Four articles from Paul Copan over at the UK site “BeThinking”. Each article responds to a different slogan that you might hear if you’re dealing with non-Christians on the street.

“That’s just your interpretation!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Gently ask, ‘Do you mean that your interpretation should be preferred over mine? If so, I’d like to know why you have chosen your interpretation over mine. You must have a good reason.’
  • Remind your friend that you are willing to give reasons for your position and that you are not simply taking a particular viewpoint arbitrarily.
  • Try to discern if people toss out this slogan because they don’t like your interpretation. Remind them that there are many truths we have to accept even if we don’t like them.
  • ‘There are no facts, only interpretations’ is a statement that is presented as a fact. If it is just an interpretation, then there is no reason to take it seriously.

More responses are here.

“You Christians are intolerant!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If you say that the Christian view is bad because it is exclusive, then you are also at that exact moment doing the very thing that you are saying is bad. You have to be exclusive to say that something is bad, since you exclude it from being good by calling it bad.
  • There is a difference, a clear difference between tolerance and truth. They are often confused. We should hold to what we believe with integrity but also support the rights of others to disagree with our viewpoint.
  • Sincerely believing something doesn’t make it true. You can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. If I get onto a plane and sincerely believe that it won’t crash then it does, then my sincerity is quite hopeless. It won’t change the facts. Our beliefs, regardless of how deeply they are held, have no effect on reality.

More responses are here.

“That’s true for you, but not for me!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If my belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your belief only true for you? Aren’t you saying you want me to believe the same thing you do?
  • You say that no belief is true for everyone, but you want everyone to believe what you do.
  • You’re making universal claims that relativism is true and absolutism is false. You can’t in the same breath say, ‘Nothing is universally true’ and ‘My view is universally true.’ Relativism falsifies itself. It claims there is one position that is true – relativism!

More responses are here.

“If you were born in India, you’d be a Hindu!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Just because there are many different religious answers and systems doesn’t automatically mean pluralism is correct.
  • If we are culturally conditioned regarding our religious beliefs, then why should the religious pluralist think his view is less arbitrary or conditioned than the exclusivist’s?
  • If the Christian needs to justify Christianity’s claims, the pluralist’s views need just as much substantiation.

More responses are here.

And a bonus: “How do you know you’re not wrong?“.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Narendra Modi (BJP) election win good for Indian economy, but scary for Christian minority

Map of India

Map of India – Modi was the leader in Gujarat state

From Asia News.

Excerpt:

“The electoral result, declared so far, indicates a landslide win for the BJP, which should propel the stock markets to new heights,” said Clifton Desilva, director of Altina Securities Pvt Ltd, as he spoke to AsiaNews about India’s election results and the BJP victory.

According to the latest projections, Modi’s party has 277 seats out of 543. The BJP and its coalition partners together now hold 336 seats. However, “Now that the BJP is likely to attain a sweeping mandate it does not have to depend on allies as was the case with the UPA government,” Desilva said. The UPA or United Progressive Alliance was the Indian Congress Party-led coalition that lost the election.

What is more, the BJP “has the reputation of being a business-oriented party,” Desilva noted. Thus, “all the big reforms that the UPA could not implement it is hoped that the BJP will implement them. [. . .] In fact the last five to six years we have seen the stock market sliding to new lows with the GDP [growth] slipping from 9.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent”.

Under a BJP administration, “it is expected that the investment cycle, which was stalled for various reasons, will get a kick start.” As a result, “projects worth over Rs 6 trillion (US$ 100 billion) that were stalled are likely to be revived, which will have a positive impact on reviving the growth of the Indian economy”, especially in terms of infrastructure, capital goods and banking sectors.

As soon as the BJP victory appeared to be a foregone conclusion, foreign governments rushed to congratulate the new leader.

But, Religious Freedom Coalition reports a concern.

Excerpt:

Advocacy officials say policies of the influential Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has contributed to an atmosphere of hatred towards Christians. The BJP is the ruling party in three of the five Indian states with laws that forbid forced religious conversions.

The legislation is frequently used to shut down churches or intimidate Christians who speak about their faith, according to rights activists.

The party has proposed stiffer penalties in one of those states, Madhya Pradesh, India’s second-largest.

Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, another BJP-ruled state with anti-conversion laws on the books, is “the poster child for India’s failure to punish the violent,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Commissioner Mary Ann Glendon in a joint November opinion column.

While under BJP rule, Karnataka state had the country’s highest rate of attacks against Christians from 2010 through 2012, according to Christian estimates.

[…]National parliamentary elections are scheduled for May, and Narendra Modi is the BJP’s candidate for prime minister.

Hindu militants have expressed anger over the spread of Christianity in India, a predominantly Hindu nation of over 1 billion people.

In a reaction, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) made clear it was closely monitoring the situation saying it had urged believers to “Pray for God’s protection over all Christians living in Andhra Pradesh” especially “for pastors and Christian workers…that they would continue to place their trust in the Lord and engage in missions in spite of the present situation.”

It was also important to “Pray that the Lord would grant repentance to those who are instigating violence against Christians,” stressed the WEA, which claims to represent some 600 million evangelical Christians in 128 countries.

I want India to do well, and Modi’s pro-business record in Gujarat cannot be questioned. However, I am worried about his Hindu Nationalism and the price that Christians might pay for evangelizing, which is a normal part of the Christian faith. Hinduism is a non-cognitive religion, so they are not used to arguments and evidence. It’s a community/family/culture thing. So they don’t understand how a person can evangelize except by non-cognitive means, e.g. – bribes. I am worried especially for the Dalits and other low-caste Indians in this environment.

Please pray for Christians in India. Do it now.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gang-raped teen burned to death in India, corrupt police try to cover it up

Map of India

Map of India

From the UK Daily Mail. Excerpt:

The body of a gang-raped teenager who was burned to death after her attackers threatened her family was ‘hijacked’ by police who attempted to forcibly cremate it, reports today suggest. The girl, 16, was gang-raped in October in Madhyamgram, near Calcutta, by a group of six men – who are believed to have links with West Bengal’s ruling party, the Trinamool Congress. They again attacked her the following day as she returned from reporting the crime to police with her father, it is claimed. The group were arrested – but the teen and her family say they received a series of threats from the men. The alleged threats included one saying the girl’s taxi-driver father would be killed if she continued to pursue charges. The family’s landlord, who is reportedly related to one of the gang, allegedly told them they must leave their one-bedroom property also. On the morning of her death, two friends of the accused allegedly visited the girl’s home and verbally abused the girl. The teen victim was set alight on December 23 and died from her injuries on New Year’s Eve. Doctors said the victim – who had 40 per cent burns – had suffered severe damage to her throat and face, making it difficult for her to breathe. Earlier reports suggested the victim had committed suicide – a story that initially came from police – but today it was revealed the girl said two men poured kerosene over her and burned her before she died. Doctors have also said the girl was pregnant when she died. Reports today suggest police ‘hijacked’ the hearse carrying the girl’s body and attempted to have it cremated despite the family’s wishes to wait to give her a proper funeral. On Tuesday evening police are alleged to have intercepted the hearse, which was travelling from RG Kar Hospital to a mortuary. They took it to a crematorium where the body remained for three hours, it is claimed. Officers are then said to have gone to the home of the bereaved family at around 2am and threatened to break down the door if they did not give them the death certificate needed for the cremation. The girl’s father refused, but officers allegedly tormented the family all night. In a letter written to Govenor M K Narayanan the father said: ‘The superintendent of police and other officers reached our house in the dead of the night and asked us to open the door.

I think it’s very important in cases like this to let them break down the door so that there is evidence of what they did. They will not want to do anything like that, because it can be photographed. It leaves a trace.

The fact that this went right up to the superintendent of police just chills my blood. Imagine living in a country like India where people who gang-rape and murder a child can go to the police and get support in covering it up because of corruption and connections.

I remember my Indian co-workers telling me how surprised they were not to have to bribe American police officers when they got pulled over for speeding. I think there is something to that. In Judeo-Christian America, we still believe that God is watching what we do, by and large. So we tend to do the right thing, especially conservatives. But Hinduism and Islam seem not to have the same requirement.

Even if religion played no role in this, the culture as a whole seems to condone corruption to the level where you cannot expect basic honesty like you can in Western countries. I have heard horrifying stories about what it is like to be a woman and ride on public transportation in India. For the Islamic religion, there seems to be an epidemic of gang rape and sex-trafficking going on in Western countries from Muslim men. The idea of chastity for men seems to be more of a Judeo-Christian value.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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