Texting between Father and Son – The Nature of Causation

How can we know if something causes something else? What is the difference between a sufficient cause, a necessary cause, and a risk factor? How can we avoid traps in understanding causes and non-causes? 

An acquaintance, a devoted Catholic, shared with me a text conversation that he had with his son last weekend.  It caught my attention, so we discussed it at the dinner table at our house Wednesday night.

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Father: R U going to be home to go to 9:30 mass or 1115 or 5PM?

Teenage son: Will’s here, can I just not go this week?

Father: No, that is not an option.  Will can come if he likes.

Son: The Catholic church has survived the ages by creating wars, having corrupt leaders, and blaming our problems on others.  I think that supporting an establishment that has built itself on hypocrisy is something that you shouldn’t encourage me to do.  God can be found in all things, right?  Then why do we bow to marble tables while destroying the world he made with pollution?

Father: I would love to have a philosophical discussion with you on this topic, but texting is not my preferred medium.  In the mean time you will come to mass, not because your presence is something that either God or the Church needs but because 1) it is best for you, and 2) because I am telling you to come.

Son: I’m about to go to a week in the woods!  That’s the holiest thing I can do…Can you pick us up at 11?

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This interaction is interesting on many levels. It demonstrates communication between a father and his son, and suggests real affection and a good relationship between the two. Not knowing the son, it is impossible to know whether he actually believed what he said about the Catholic Church or whether he was simply trying to spend more time with his friend and get out of going to Mass. Perhaps a little of both? For the sake of discussion, let us assume that the boy was at least partly serious about his allegations.

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Argument Analysis – Does the Big Bang Require a Divine Creator?

Layman and scientists alike have discussed the Big Bang theory for how the universe began. Though disparaged by many Christians, the Big Bang, also known as the Inflationary Theory, is closer to the Genesis account than we might realize. 

Last week I was an adult leader for the First Baptist Alexandria youth choir serving in Chicago. The choir sang, danced and acted at Uptown Baptist Church (UBC), Golf Road Baptist Church, the Pacific Garden Mission (PGM), and other places. When not performing, the group led sports camps and backyard Bible clubs. At UBC we also prepared and served the Monday evening meal for the homeless, refinished tables and pews, remodeled a bath room, taped and mudded drywall, painted, and did a host of other construction projects. At PGM we made beds, cleaned showers, served meals, stuffed envelopes, and typed scripts for their “Unshackled” radio drama series. Every evening the group did devotions, and sometimes we went sightseeing. It was a tremendous time of fun and ministry.

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Science and Christianity

Does real science, not “scientific philosophy,” contradict real Christianity? Since honestly, we know less about science, and about the Bible, than we think we do, humility and inquiry needed to find the answer. 

My sons enjoy playing a computer game called Civilization, in which players take the role of the ruler of a historical civilization such as China, Greece or Rome and try to win by conquering the world, sending a rocket into space, or building the most spectacular culture. There are many cultural advances that a civilization can get, but getting some cultural advances eliminates the ability to get some others. For example, the designers of the game decided that piety and rationalism were mutually exclusive; it is impossible for any civilization in the game to have both.

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Why God?

God is the fundamental assumption, the ground for all existence, and for every other assumption. He need not be proved and in the final analysis cannot be proved or disproved. So why is there so much controversy, and what do we do?

The question at hand is “Why God?” I was brought up in a Christian home and so I had a marvelous advantage over some who were not; God was just assumed in my home and none of the people around me thought otherwise. They had relatively minor differences about their understanding of His attributes but no one denied His existence or asked why He was important.

I have now had decades to consider the issue and decide for myself, as most people eventually get the chance to do. As a result, I believe in God more strongly than ever, for three reasons:

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