I recently heard a Christian argue against the Theory of Evolution on the basis that they find conflict between the notion that humans are descended from non-human animals, and the idea that we are made in the image of God.

I hate to break it to you but the Genesis narrative says we were descended from… DUST.

Do you prefer this? Really, how is this better?

I would’ve thought that one of the overarching themes of Christian scripture is that the origin of something needn’t have any bearing on that thing’s identity, or its future. Matthew’s Gospel highlights that Jesus was descended from a prostitute. And he turned out alright.

6 important differences between the Exodus movie and the Biblical Exodus account:

I know what you’re thinking. “Here comes another Christian complaining about the inaccuracies of a Bible movie and spoiling everybody’s fun.”

Well. Please don’t worry. This isn’t a negative film review, or a film review at all. If the Exodus movie isn’t Biblically accurate, that doesn’t make it a bad movie, or a movie people shouldn’t watch. This isn’t one of those articles.

What this is, is an appeal to watchers of the Exodus movie to be informed and educated. Everybody knows that this film is not entirely Biblically accurate, and that’s fine; it wasn’t trying to be. But what I know is going to happen for many people who watch this movie is that they will come away from it making certain conclusions about the Bible based on this movie, even though we all know that the movie doesn’t accurately represent the Bible.

No adaptation is 100% accurate. That’s impossible. But what people should be aware of with Ridley Scott’s Exodus adaptation is that it is different to the Biblical story in all the important ways, rather than being different in peripheral, secondary ways. Many people’s perceptions of God will be influenced by this film, when this film actually says some pretty different things about God to what the original Biblical story says about God.

So before you make conclusions about the God of the Bible, based on your viewing of Ridley Scott’s adaptation of this story in the Bible, be aware of the following differences between the stories:

1. In the book of Exodus, Moses is a spiritual leader; not a military one.

Ok. This isn’t a terribly important difference (not in my books anyway). But if you watched this film, thinking you were watching a faithful retelling of the Exodus story, then perhaps this fact will make you wary of assuming that what you watched is similar to what is written in the Bible.

This difference shows us that the filmmakers were not trying to simply put the same original story of Exodus onto the screen.

2. In the book of Exodus, Moses is a reluctant leader because of timidity, not because of arrogance. (Exodus 3:11, 4:10-13)

Ridley Scott’s film depicts Moses as a self-confident, at times hot-headed character, who is hesitant to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because, 1) he doesn’t yet fully self-identify with the Israelites and has residual allegiances to the Egyptians, and 2) he is unimpressed by the God of the Israelites, and tends to disagree with God’s way of doing things.

This is actually completely different to the character of Moses in the Biblical book of Exodus, who literally says to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex 3:11), then points out his oratorical inadequacy (Ex 4:10), and then asks God to just send someone else (Ex 4:13).

In the film, Moses’ primary character development is a process of gradual humbling before God and before Israel. But in the Bible Moses develops in the other direction; he needs to go through a process of emboldening and encouraging in order to do what God asks of him.

Now, again, this difference isn’t terribly important in the scheme of things, and I rather enjoyed it as a piece of characterisation. But it does show us further, that the makers of this film have changed deep and basic things about the central characters of this story.

In what ways do you think they might have changed the character of God?

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Physicist and TV presenter Brian Cox said on Q and A tonight that the power of science is that it’s the only discipline that admits its own fallibility.

Seems like a really nice guy, but I’m perplexed as to why he would believe something that is so obviously false: I’ve never met a philosopher, historian, economist, lawyer, literary critic, OR theologian, who does not admit their own fallibility and the fallibility of their discipline.

And yes, I meant it when I said theologian. Theologians consider the text they work with (e.g. the Bible) – their data source – to be infallible, but they consider their own interpretations of the text to be fallible.

Note that this is exactly the same as scientists, who consider nature – their data source – to be completely infallible: never lying to us, and never changing, but constantly being misinterpreted by us.

Scientists and theologians are no different in this regard.

Servant King

Matthew 20:28 says:

“The son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

It just struck me today in church how extraordinary this is. Really, it’s completely ridiculous. That the God of the universe would decide to create a people, not that they could serve him, but that he could serve them.

An earthly king looks across the boarders and says, “Look at those people over there. I will fight to win them as slaves.”

But our Creator says, “Look at those people over there. I will fight to win them as sons.”

This is amazing.

Lines of Truth.

Something I’ve realised in my cerebral wanderings is that everything we perceive is originally and ultimately caused by the Truth. That is to say that there is some line that runs from an objective reality all the way to that which we perceive, and that this is one continuous, uninterrupted causal line, which never deviates from the Truth.

What am I saying? I’m saying that when you fall madly in love with a friend, and you’re trying to hide it, everything about the way you act will be ultimately and originally caused by this very truth that you’re trying to hide. You will try to control your body language, your conversational style, your texting frequency, to make it appear as if things are normal. But really, the precise way you act towards her is as a result of the truth: you’re in love with her. Continue reading

Solitude.

Only if someone exceeds your ability in something can they fully appreciate the extent of your own ability.

If someone isn’t as intelligent as you, they will never really understand exactly how much you have achieved in your thinking; never comprehend the thoughts you’ve thought. If someone isn’t as skilled on the piano as you, they can never completely know how it is that you play the way you play; how much effort it took to reach that level. They were not able to share in that journey. They had to stay behind where you kept on going.

How lonely it must be, to be the best…

…sitting atop their mountain of accomplishment, with nowhere to look but down.

A brief note regarding Beauty.

– Written 15th August 2010


Have you ever gazed upon something of incredible, majestic beauty, only to feel a sense of distress and tragedy? I have. And hopefully I’m not the only one, otherwise everything I’m about to write might fall on deaf ears. But let me explain.

So many times I come across some amazing sight and, despite my captivation, I am deeply unsatisfied by it. Something about it distresses me far down in the depths of my consciousness. Continue reading

On Human Value.

– Written 25th July 2010


What makes a human life valuable? Well. God does.

Not only is it God who does, but it is only God who can make human life valuable.

Let’s slow down.

Let me tell you, there is no such thing as intrinsic value. That is to say that everything that has value only has it because there is something external to it that benefits from it in some way. Value is placed upon something. It is located in the mind of the valuer, not within the thing itself.

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An exercise in reduction.

– Written 13th June 2010

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I like thinking about what you can reduce things to.

Take your computer for example. At glance we can reduce a computer to its components of either hardware or software. Where the hardware is stuff like the screen, the speakers, the hard drive, the circuit board – all the “physical” things, the things you can hold. Then there’s the software, which is stuff like Windows, iTunes, internet browsers, and all the programs, which you can’t touch. They seem to be composed of information, as if they have some other mode of existence compared to the solid hardware components. But really they’re both reducible to material substance. All the information in a computer – the images, the text, the sound – exists according to the physical state of the computer; in the various switches turning on and off and whatnot, or the code imprinted on the CD being read by the laser. Everything that we see on a computer can be explained by some physical component located in that computer.

But further than that, all these components can be reduced to things smaller and smaller; everything in a computer can be reduced to the substances (plastic, silicon, metal) they are made out of. And then, all those substances can be reduced to their molecular structure, and all those molecules reduced to the different atoms that compose them. And all these atoms are only differentiated by the number of protons, neutrons and electrons that form them. That all means that a computer, with all its capabilities, can be explained by as little as its exact arrangement protons, neutrons and electrons.

It is clear that almost everything in the world we see is reducible to physical matter. In fact the only thing that might not be is the mind. Philosophers and scientists alike are asking the question these days; is human consciousness reducible to the physical states in the brain? Continue reading