What are magic, science, and prayer? How do they differ? How do they work in our lives? How should they work? What can be do to make them work better?
Last Sunday my family and I watched The Hobbit, the latest movie from the writings of the great fantasy author JRR Tolkien, which also includes the Lord of the Rings series. It was a good show, bringing the audience through sadness, excitement, laughter, and the whole range of emotions. During my time of prayer and meditation this morning I considered some of the differences between science, prayer, and magic, as it is portrayed in The Hobbit and the Harry Potter series.
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God is not the giver of blessings; He is the blessing. God is not the enabler of accomplishments; knowing Him is the accomplishment. God is the center of our provision and the center of our ambition. And yet why is that so easy to say and so hard to do?
One of my favorite hymns is the Irish “Be thou my vision”, its words are attributed to Dallan Forgaill in the 6th century and its tune an Irish folk song, “Slane”. The theme is that God alone should be the vision and goal of every Christian, just as He was for Paul in Philippians 3:7-14.
What does it mean to have God for our vision in our purpose for life?
The modern mantra of finding ones’ purpose for life seems to be “follow your inner star”, “find your dream” or “do your own thing.” The idea is that within each person is something that will guide him or her to meaning and fulfillment in life if only he or she follows it. Books, music, and movies parrot this idea relentlessly, and many people simply accept it as truth. Under certain assumptions this could be logical:
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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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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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What are miracles? Do miracles really happen? Read on to understand miracles in the Holy Scriptures.
The presence of “miracles” in the Bible has been a source of difficulty to both Christians and non-Christians alike since the Renaissance (14th to 17 centuries) and the Enlightenment (17th to 18th centuries), when some would say that medieval superstition gave way to a new birth of learning and culture and the age of reason. Science and technology grew with breathtaking speed in the past several centuries and the explanations of reality provided by science seemed to discredit the beliefs of earlier years. In our day, many have rejected belief in miracles and even the resurrection of Jesus Christ altogether. Some hold that religion and science are mutually contradictory and in permanent enmity, or at least that they have nothing to do with one another.
What is a miracle? Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2nd College Edition defines a miracle as “an event or action that apparently contradicts known scientific laws and hence is thought to be due to supernatural causes, i.e. an act of God.
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