Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Complexity and Truth

Here's a new aphorism that I'm still "testing the waters" on:

"The truth is kind of like computer security. You can never have it in its ideal. You can only hope to have enough complexity to earn its rewards."

In computer security (my vocation), you can never really reach the ideal of creating the perfect security system that keeps the bad guys out. Instead, the best you can do is make the system complex enough that it becomes too much trouble for the hacker to break in.

So it is with home security. Locked doors can't keep the bad guys out. They can only make it too risky for the bad guys to bother. I'm calling this riskiness complexity.

This doesn't mean that the ideal shouldn't exist. I don't think a security system (whether computer, or home) designer would be worth his/her salt if he/she didn't have the ideal to shoot for. The ideal serves a purpose as a goal. But in an imperfect world, it is rarely, dare I say never, achieved.

What are the rewards of truth that I speak of? Truth equips the "knower". To know the truth that a tornado is coming, rewards the truth-holder with the option to take cover.

I ask this question though: Does ALL truth reward?

The second thing that I'm battling with this aphorism is Occam's Razor. Occam's Razor says that the truth is usually the simplest explanation of an event. If such a statement is true, than how can I say that we can only hope to have enough complexity to earn truth's benefits?

Today I have demonstrated that I have more questions than I have answers.

Ashamed of Christians, NOT Christ

I've discovered that I'm not ashamed of Christianity. I'm ashamed of being associated with popular Christianity. I'm ashamed of being associated with many Christians who have misunderstood the message of Christ.

I'm not ashamed of Christ's message. It is both profound and logically defensible. I’m ashamed of many churches that have not plumbed its depths and have thrown out their minds all in the name of faith.

I'm not ashamed of Christ. I'm ashamed of many people who call themselves by His name.

I’m therefore bold in my faith. However, I rarely get to really speak about it. That’s why I blog and post on the Usenet and forums.

Most of my friends are Christians so that’s my problem. I have a friend that calls me a “renaissance man”, but I’m not so sure that label applies. I think of myself as being only three dimensional. I can talk philosophy/theology, music and computers. I’m acquainted with sports as a passive observer, but can’t “carry the ball” too far. So there aren’t a lot of bridges to build relationships with me.

The other problem seems to be with people. It seems to me that most people don’t want to talk about the deeper things of life. It seems that most of us get wrapped up in our “little stories”, drawing our life’s purpose from sports teams, our kids, school, our jobs, our hobbies or our possessions...

As a musician, I can see how that might happen. I do spend a lot of time surfing the web for gear, instructional resources, and other interests common to musicians. But for me, my music is a smaller story enclosed in a larger one.

I once heard Steve Brown say, “Everyone needs a stable meta-narrative”. A meta-narrative is a large story to explain all of our smaller stories. I play music not simply to entertain myself and others, but for the glory of God and to touch to people. That’s so much more meaningful than providing ear candy.

What’s your story?

Do you have a meta-narrative?

I’m not interested in preaching to you. But reply to this blog and perhaps we can start a dialog on these things. After all, aren’t the big picture questions the most important questions of life?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I think, therefore I am a Christian

The following article tells about a campaign in London, lead by atheists, to proselytize atheism (or at least a form of agnosticism):

They have purchased ad space on the buses reading, "There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

This statement says so much about the biases of Atheists. In their minds, God is an obstacle for happiness and pleasure. The very idea of God is a cosmic killjoy.

How can one have such biases and be objective about the question of God's existence?

Richard Dawkins' expresses a bias against religion in the article when he says:
"This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think, and thinking is anathema to religion."

As a biased Christian, I can tell you that Dawkins is not arguing against orthodox Christianity. No, he is arguing against a popular, stereotyped caricature of it. You probably know the one that I'm talking about. In a nutshell, it says, "throw away your mind and just have faith. Faith is believing in things the mind can NOT rationalize."

Many Christians have this perspective as well as non-believers. BOTH sides are wrong.

Christianity clearly teaches the convergence of the propositional with the existential, in that it teaches that faith is to be applied to the Word of God.

Youtube and MP3 downloading services are artistic outworkings (despite lots of junk content that passes as "art"). What underlies these internet web sites is ultimately the black and white world of 0's and 1's known as binary digital code.

It is beyond coincidence that one can reduce these creative elements down to the simple on and off, black and white codes of the computer world, yet they can produce videos that make us laugh or cry, music that moves our hearts, and in general communication that strands the threads of human relationships.

The cold rational world, when "electrically charged" with creativity (think faith), produces the very World Wide Web that undergirds this very blog.

I am a musician and see this clearly in music. Music can be reduced to systems known as scales, intervals, arpeggios, and the circle of fifths. It can be scientifically reduced to the physics of sound. Yet, when creativity (coupled with order) is added to it, we get music.

Christianity is misunderstood, both by many Christians as well as non-christians, to not be a thinking man's religion.

But true Christianity is to be understood holistically.

I applied my rational mind to the questions of how the Gospels could have been written by four different authors, all agreeing that God became flesh and lived among us in the form of Jesus Christ, who healed people, walked on water, raised the dead, claimed to show us who the Father was, and then even died and resurrected on the third day. I logically can NOT conclude that these authors conspired for they had no motive but martyrdom. I can NOT conclude that they were delusional, because collective delusions are improbable. Only my imagination (think creativity and faith) gives me a choice that bridges that gap. That choice is that these phenomenal things DID happen.

Dawkins and others like him can claim that Christians don't think, but until they can demonstrate that THEY have thought enough about these things to come up with a reasonable explanation, they only indict themselves.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Quest for Objectivity

Why do people get mad when someone expresses an opinion contrary to their own?

If two referees see the same play differently and they have the liberty of instant replay to see the truth, they will usually review the play and one person will concede that their call was wrong.

Unfortunately, we don't have the instant replay litmus test in life, but I'm convinced that if we did, the person who was wrong would be more likely to storm off mad than to concede.

Whey do we have a tendency to thing that people of different views are evil or at least have bad intentions?

I hear this all the time in political discourse. As we are in the final days of the Presidential election, each side is painting the other side as evil. Why can't someone be conceived to be wrong but good intentioned?

Our emotions get in the way of our positions. Our biases get in the way of our judgments. Our hearts get in the way of our minds.

The most important question one can ask in life is What is the meaning of life? This question, if followed logically, leads one down the trail of religion (as well as philosophy). But why is religious discussion such a taboo?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Religion is just an opinion?

I was reading a blog that stated that religion is man's opinion on life's unanswerable questions.

I can't say that my Christian faith is my opinion. If MY opinion were to form my religious beliefs, then I'd believe in a God that had wound up the world but let it go. I'd believe in an ethics of moderation akin to Buddhism and I'd believe nothing about the afterlife except hope that there was a good one for all except for the most wicked (Hitler, child abusers, and mass murderers).

So why do I believe in Christianity instead? Its not because of an opinion that I formed, its because of a God who revealed Himself to me. Not only has He revealed Himself to me, I see Him as revealing Himself throughout history.

Forget about whether or not you believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. If we just assume that its the words of men, that is enough to believe in its claims given the alternatives.

What are those alternatives?

If it is a book of lies, the alternatives are founded in the motives of the authors. Did these men write the Bible because they were deceived or because they intended to deceive?

The former doesn't make sense given the improbability of a collective deception. It's one thing to believe that Matthew might have been deceived into believing in this man named Jesus and believing that He was a prophet, healer, miracle worker, savior, even the son of God, but for Mark, Luke and John as well as the writers of the Epistles?

The second alternative is the one that people try to float. It says that the Bible was written as an attempt to gain power.

The church certainly did gain power from the 4th century (Constantine) on. But why does this church look so different from the Christianity espoused in this book? The Catholic church that rose to power was (and still is) very legalistic/ritualistic. If they wrote the power to establish and justify themselves, why didn't they cross out passages in the Scriptures where Jesus was so harsh to legalistic/ritualistic religious leaders (the Pharisees and Saducees)? And why did the church evolve to an organization that discouraged its masses to even read the Bible, thus becoming the very catalyst for the Protestant reformation?

So I'm left with multiple witnesses claiming that there was a man (if He can be called a man) who lived on this earth who claimed to be the son of God and authenticated His claims by doing things no man could ever do, in the form of supernaturally healing sick people, giving sight to the blind, walking on water, feeding multitudes of people with just a handful of bread and fish, resurrecting people from the dead and then resurrecting Himself!

This is not simply an opinion given these facts. This is the only reasonable conclusion that I can hold given the facts. Do you have a better interpretation that I am not considering? Then please reply to this blog. Absent that, I'm only left with a God who has revealed Himself to all of us throughout history.

If you reject Christianity, how do YOU explain these things away?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Edge of My Questioning

One morning, as I was walking out of the house to go to work, I saw a huge spider web. My first thought was that God had "commissioned" the spider to do what it was doing. But then I thought about the fact that the spider was trying to catch flies. One could argue that God had commissioned those flies to do their thing also.

Why would God give those flies a purpose but give the spider the purpose to be their natural predator? Does this mirror how God might treat the rest of His creation? Does God tell you and I that He loves us and is on our side, but then create enemies to hurt us?

On a human scale, why do bad things happen to good people? Why does a seemingly good person get cancer and die? Why does a little child get sexually abused or drowned by a mother that is supposed to love them? Is there anyone more innocent than a little child?

Am I even asking the right questions here?

But here is where my questions lead me. There is an evil force (or being) that wields significant influence and control over our world. One could therefore argue that this force is God and that He is evil or has a dark side. However, this contradicts all of the good that we see in the world.

One might say (as I have heard by people before), that the world is full of contradictions so why not believe in a god who has an incoherent nature? In other words, why not believe in a god who is both good AND evil in contradiction? To such a questioner, I ask them whether they want an answer that is also free of contradictions....

We can't even engage in a discussion, let alone an argument, if we abandon reason. So I hold on to it as I proceed.

I mentioned the innocence of a little child. Just look at a newborn baby. Can anyone say that a good God didn't create it?

So a bipolar God doesn't make sense. It blurs the lines between good and evil, where good is supposed to be the essence of creation being used for its intended purpose.

So the only other option is that there is another being in the world that is evil. The scary part is that this being (what Christianity calls "Satan") might have more power than we often suspect. He might have the power to turn the spider against the fly as well as the mother against the child.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Keeping Our Emotions Out of the Way

A good worldview will lead to good politics so I'm not telling you how to vote. Rather, my goal with this blog is to inspire you to think boldly and honestly.

With McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as his VP running mate, one criticism being cast is that such a pick will not sway Hillary voters.

But there are two types of voters (and thinkers). One type has a worldview and the other doesn't. I can tell the difference when I hear each type of voter defend their positions. Whether they are defending the conservatism or liberalism, the person with a worldview will use logic to support their presuppositions, while the other type will use emotion, often peppered with ad hominem attacks against the other side.

The worldview voter isn't likely to change their ideology based upon any political advertisements, speeches or a VP running mate choice. So the only voter in play is the emotive voter who doesn't have a clear worldview, or at least not one that transcends themselves.

This is the swing voter. Although up to this point, I've been claiming that this voter doesn't have a worldview, they really live in a worldview that revolves around themself. This is why they make choices based upon their emotions. Their world is too small. We all revolve around them and their feelings.

There is an emotive voter that supported Hillary merely because they empathized with her. They felt "one" with her. This is the voter that the Sarah Palin nomination could pick off.

This blog is not about politics. I only use politics as an example to point to the larger picture. Are you choosing a worldview based upon how it makes you feel?

The only axioms in life are taxes, suffering and death. It is not beyond coincidence that these undeniable truths are all negative. Does your worldview inconvenience you at some point? Does your view of the world cause you to believe things that you DON'T like? If not, how can you say that it reflects the only reality that we know?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Cause of Faith

Faith is a cause, not a result.

Faith is a doubt that causes us to ask questions. It is not the result of a spiritual world that is unknowable.

Faith asks us to think. It is not an excuse to throw our minds away.

Answers do not threaten faith. Answers only lead to more questions.

"Mommy, what is that?"
"Its a Zebra"
"Why does it have stripes?"
"Because God made it that way?"
"God? Who is God?"

The question of God is an eternal question about an eternal being. Is is the question that will not go away no matter what we learn about its answer.

It is the goal that always stands ahead of the runner. A goal if obtained, removes the very joy of running.

Faith is hinged to God's revelation. He has spoken. He speaks mysteriously, forcing the questioning process.

Reason necessitates faith. It sets boundaries in faith's name.

Are you listening to the questions?
Are you thinking about the possible answers?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Purpose Draws the Bounds

Porn, by one definition is broken art. It is broken because it has failed to stay within the boundaries of purpose.

Does this description surprise you?

Think about the differences between what we might call a pornographic image and a nude statue in an art gallery. The above statement successfully differentiates between the two if we understand "the boundaries of purpose".

Is sex's purpose merely for pleasure? If so, then why should we prohibit or even be offended at bestiality or consensual acts of pedophilia and orgies?

Or is sex really an expression to be shared only within a lifelong committed relationship? Our culture may try to reject this, but I see evidence that it can't escape the specter of marriage.

For instance, have you ever noticed that advertisements for porn cast it as "dirty" fun? If there is nothing on the human consciousness written that draws a line, then why not advertise it as "getting up and clean" instead of "down and dirty"?

I am convinced that our culture would rather live life without purpose, a life of meaningless pleasure, rather than a life of purposeful self-control.

I do not exclude myself in this lament. My nature is like anyone else's, however I am not afraid to stare truth in the face.

Are you?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Fallen Fallacy

If you discovered that I was a mean, sadistic person, or that I was just plain stupid, would you conclude that my father must not exist?

Of course, not. So why do so many nonreligious people do this?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are our lives predetermined?

People tend to take sides when confronted with this question. Some believe that everything is predetermined. They assume this means that we have no free will as a result.

Others believe that we have total free will and deny determinism as a result.

I believe that both are true and that many people choose sides because it is so difficult to understand how the two can co-exist. It may be difficult to understand, but is it also difficult to imagine?

I believe in God. I believe that He knew every choice that I'd make before I ever made them. I believe that He preplanned my life in advance, knowing those choices.

He predestined (determinism) me to be a musician, YET I chose music as well.

He knew the choices that you would make to get to this point and He knows the choices that you will make. You can't surprise Him. He has planned your life according to the choices that you will make. Whether we choose wisely or foolishly, His plan will unfold.

It may be difficult to understand, but not to imagine....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Echo Chamber of Music

Music is the one and only thing that I could actually be called an "expert" on. I truly believe that the more that we learn about anything, whether it be music, a sport, a craft a hobby, a skill, history, science, the more we will see that all disciplines are an "echo chamber", reverberating the deeper truths of life on a smaller scale.

I believe this because I see it in music. Here is my latest observation.

Classically trained musicians tend to learn music by reading musical scores. Scores spell out every single detail of the song to be performed to the musician.

Although scores can be used for modern music, if they are followed strictly they often produce music that comes out as stiff and methodical.

The average classically trained musician that I have met is very analytical and intelligent, but can be very stiff in their systematic approach to life, not just music. This type of musician finds security in structure.

OTOH, a contemporary minded musician will tend to play music either by using simple chord charts, or if they can, even by ear.

A chord chart (pictured in the graphic) gives the musician some information but unlike the score, it is not comprehensive. The chord chart gives enough of the essentials of the song to communicate its essence, but it doesn't give so much as to detract from the musician's freedom to bring their own creativity to the music.

For example, the first chord of a chord chart may simply read "C minor". However the musician is not told where in their instrument's range to play that C minor or which C minor to play (which inversion or chord voicing for those of you who are musicians).

The chord chart doesn't provide any rhythm either, but I need to keep my analogy simple to illustrate the point.

The contemporary approach leaves enough ambiguity to the musician to allow them to choose. This ambiguity allows the musician to be creative. If the musician has the creativity and knowledge, when he/she sees that C minor chord, they will know that they can try three chord inversions, and multitudes of chord voicings in several octave ranges on their instrument (choices).

Faith is God's litmus test of our desire...

The classical approach limits the creativity to the composer. But the contemporary approach allows the performer to be creative. It allows them to choose.

Now let me frame it another way because I don't like to put classical up against contemporary and sound like I'm making a judgment for one and against the other. To the contrary, I don't necessarily believe that newer is inherently better.

I'm really talking about the differences between a propositional (classical musician) vs an existential/experiential (contemporary musician) approach to life.

A propositional approach is a traditionalist's mindset, which draws its security in structure and predictability. The downside to the systematic approach is that this security leaves no room for the questioning process (the essence of creativity). This prevents critical thinking from taking place.

The existential/experiential approach is not without its flaws either, but it is strong where the propositional approach is weak. The ambiguity of its looser structures encourage the questioning process that cultivates creativity and critical thinking. Its pitfalls emerge if it goes too far as the pendulum swings and tries to reject against anything that even looks like structure.

Creativity itself is often mistook to simply mean "making things up". However, you'll never learn to be creative with such a definition. You'll simply learn anarchy. True creativity is hinged to its art. As Clint Eastwood once said, "A man's got to know his limitations." Creativity is tied to purpose. This truth is reverberated in the echo chamber that I presented in a previous blog that I wrote entitled, "What is Freedom?".

True creativity is the convergence of the propositional with the experiential. Life itself is only rightly lived when we see it as a symbiotic relationship between the classical and the contemporary.

True Christianity is holistic. It balances the propositional with the experiential. This is summed up in John 1:14 which says that the Word (proposition) of God became flesh and lived (experiential) among us.

Are you a person who tries to make everything up and live your own life with no set boundaries? If so, you need purpose before you can be whole.

Are you a person who tries to know everything and uses traditionalism or propositions for a security blanket? If so, you need to listen to God asking the questions through the mysteries that stare you in the face.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where are you?

One of the strongest empirical arguments for believing in a Divine creator is what is called the teleological argument. The teleological argument can be summarized as stating that there is so much information and order in the world that there must have been a Divine mind who created it all.

The teleogolical argument is an argument about WHERE we live. I've noticed that I've never heard a philosophical argument for theism rooted in an argument that starts from WHAT happens to us. Although there are people (including myself many times) who certainly see God's hand in events that happen in their lives, much of what happens to all of us seems to be more random and chaotic. This happens so much that I have to conclude that WHAT happens to us seems to scream randomness even though WHERE we live screams Design.

This blog is about questions. It emphasizes asking the right questions over getting the right answers. Its not that we can accept the wrong answers, its just that if we focus on the right questions, the right answers will come, IF we clear ourselves of biases (a big IF).

As I have stated in previous blogs, I believe that God is hiding, but not so much that He doesn't want to be found. I believe He throws mystery in our faces to force us to think. I believe He asks us questions (the essence of faith) with life itself to lead us to Him.

If I am correct, than I ask the following question. What is the difference between a question and chaos? Both can puzzle the observer as he/she struggles to make sense of things, however the difference is order. Allow me to illustrate:

If I were to randomly type a series of letters, you might not think of it as a question, or a riddle to be solved:


But an ordered sequence of letters CAN form a question, signaling to the reader that it is something we are supposed to think about and resolve:

Where are you?

Even when scrambled, the question contains some order:

ehWre r?ae ouy

I'm not sure why, and this is where this blog exemplifies my thinking out loud, but life seems to scream "WHERE ARE YOU?" more than "What is happening to you?"

In the Genesis story, after Adam and Eve sinned, God comes to the garden for their daily walk. With Adam hiding, THE question that God asks him, and is asking you and I is "WHERE are you?"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Burden of Proof

If you worked for a demolition crew and had doubt as to whether or not anyone was in the building that you were about to demolish, would you proceed anyway?

In response to Obama's statement about abortion being above his pay-grade at the recent Rick Warren forum, I have heard his defenders make statements like, "Only pro-lifers can be certain as to when life begins" or "only God knows when life begins."

All of these attempted defenses are admissions that the pro-abortionists have DOUBT as to when life begins.

The burden of proof lies with them. If they can't prove 100% that life does NOT begin with conception, then why would they want to risk the possibility that they are supporting the taking of innocent life?

This blog is about such doubts. Doubt can be embraced in that they force us to ask questions. But the pro abortionists aren't asking the right questions. They give up with the questioning process as they throw up their hands and say "no one can know for sure" instead of asking what should we do if we can't KNOW for sure? So they demolish...

Of course we should err on the side of caution, just as we would if we were standing on a firing range but had reason to doubt as to whether or not anyone was standing within range.

This blog is also about being objective, except I often cast objectivity in terms of having a pure heart. Abortion is a heart issue. People are afraid to ask the right questions because they are afraid of the possibility of inconvenient answers....

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Blessing of Doubt

Imagine that a very handsome, powerful, rich and well-known king seeks to find a true love life-time romance.

Love is volitional and requires the will.

So how does the king determine whether the lucky lady that he might set his heart upon sincerely loves him for who he is or just accepts his love because of all that he has to offer? Or perhaps she would only love him out of fear that he might punish her if she resisted? Isn't he too powerful to resist?

How does he weed out the true love from the gold-diggers?

He could hide his identity, not making himself as clearly known.

If you were God, and wanted the true love of your creation, would you not hide yourself in such a way as to test whether or not your creation had the WILL to love you?

When it really comes down to it, isn't faith the outward expression of our deepest heart's desires? After all, who has faith that they will get cancer or will get run over by a Mac truck?

If love is volitional and God is all powerful, then isn't faith the only gift that can test whether or not we truly have the will to love him for who He is as?

Does He not hide so as to win our love by volition and not out of fear or bribery?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reconciling Paradox

If you want to win, you have to lose. If you want to live, you have to first die. He who seeks to gain his life will lose it for the sake of God.

One definition of a paradox is a truthful statement that appears to contradict itself.

Why would anything that is true appear to contradict itself?

In the book of Ecclesiastes, the wisdom of Solomon continuously uses the phrase "under the sun".

He states that everything under the sun is vanity (the context allows us to interpret this as "meaningless"). When he speaks of everything under the sun, he is speaking of the materialistic worldview, a world where what we see, sense and experience is all that exists.

But there is more to the world than what is "under the sun". Science itself has discovered ancient worlds that have existed before any man ever even observed their light.

Paradoxes only appear to contradict themselves when viewed "under the sun". They are truths that contradict themselves only if one is a materialist. But the belief in God and the supernatural resolves paradoxical truth.

It makes no sense to turn the other cheek in a world under the sun, but it makes absolute sense in a world where there is a creator God who loves and values mankind and cares about how we treat one another.

It makes no sense to say that if you really want to receive, you must give and if you want to lead, you must first serve.

It makes no sense to abstain from lusts if this world that we can touch and feel is the only thing that exists, but it makes absolute sense if there is a God who has given us a deeper purpose of love for those desires.

So I don't see the intelligent advocate for pornography or violence, or other evils as necessarily illogical. I instead question the foundations of their thinking to which they have built their logic.

In a materialist's world, we live and die by the sword. But in God's world, we live and die by faith. This is when paradoxes make sense.

On October 2, 2006, a gunman took hostages and shot 5 school children in a one-room Amish school house. The Amish grandfather of one of the murdered victims, was overheard warning the others to not hate the killer. Many of the Amish attended the funeral of the killer. One representative from the Amish community met with the family of the killer to comfort and extend forgiveness to them. They even set up a charitable fund for the family of the shooter.

Such forgiveness and kindness is a mystery under the sun, but is the logical outworking of a world in which a loving God exists and offers love, compassion and foregiveness to all of us, none of which deserve it.

Science has concluded that everything under the sun is going to come to an end. Our sun has a definite and limited lifespan. Nihilism is the logical conclusion while hope can only be held within the mystery of faith.

To the materialist, this very blog posting is but a mystery.

But a mystery chases us down from thoughtlessness and apathy.

As Socrates once said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Are you bold enough to examine your life?

Can you look it straight in the eyes even if that means saying there is no more "I"?

He who seeks to gain his life will lose it, but he who loses it will gain it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What is Freedom?

Recently on the BBC News, I heard a sequence of people all answering the question of "What does freedom mean to you?"

All of the answers presented were framed as "Freedom is being free to do whatever you want, whenever you want."

Of course, this definition, when taken to its logical conclusions, would mean that the slave owner is exercising his freedom by enslaving others. It would also mean that the criminal is free when he/she steals or kills or lies and breaks laws.

Freedom has to have limits. This seems to be a contradiction to the very term unless we think of those limits using another term. That term is purpose.

Freedom is really the idea of being free to live our lives according to our life's purpose. This idea will evade some people, as they attempt to suppress the thought, knowing that if it is faced, they are also forced to stand face to face with a purpose giver.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Transcendent Economics

There is an economy that transcends money and traditional economics. It is an economy that requires an investment in order to reap a reward.

You could call it the law of trade-offs, or Transcendent Economics. Do you want to earn a decent living? It will require an investment in education a skill. Do you want a good relationship? Relationships always require investments of time and emotional resources. If a computer designer wants a computer with a fast processor, it is going to "cost" in terms of research & development. Upon implementation, it will likely cost in terms of heat dissipation. The faster a Nascar driver wants to drive, the more gas the car will consume, the greater the risk of having an accident and the quicker the parts will wear out.

Why does life have this transcendent economic where nothing is gained when nothing is earned?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tired of the K-love Banality!

As a Christian, I'm so frustrated with most of the talk on the radio station known as K-love.

Their only distinction from their secular counterparts is no sexual innuendos and profanity. However, they are JUST as shallow!

I normally don't listen to this station but the local Christian worship station recently went off the air.... This morning K-love's DJs were talking about men's fashion. The wife was giving suggestions as to what the hubby should wear.

Christians should be counterculture. If anything, our stations should be making FUN of such trite banalities! Instead of talking about American Idol (something else they're known to do), they should be commenting on the fact that so many Americans are diverted via entertainment because they are afraid to really live.

I just had to get that off of my chest! Now back to our regularly scheduled Pendulum Effect content!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Purpose Breeds Morality

A chair can be used for many things. It can be used as a footstool, a table to eat off of or to stand candles upon, a step stool....

But we all know that when a chair is used for such things, it is not really being used for its intended purpose. And how do we ultimately know the purpose of a chair? Every chair designer/manufacturer/builder will tell you that a chair is designed for people to sit on.

Purpose ALWAYS comes from a purpose-maker. We can never really say something "ought" to be a certain way without connecting it to a person.

Just like the chair can be USED for things that are not tied to its purpose, human behavior is the same. An obvious example is that a person can love or hate, protect life or kill it.

So the mistake that I hear when people debate controversial social issues like abortion, homosexuality, etc., is that they speak in terms of pragmatism. The argument goes like this.

"Why would anyone have a problem with homosexuality? I don't care what other people do in their bedrooms as long as they are not hurting anyone else."

The other side might use an argument of, "Homosexuality causes increases in HIV, and is tied to emotional, psychological issues., etc....."

I propose that people start with the subject of purpose on these issues. These issues go back to the very purpose of life.

For instance, is the purpose of sex just for feeling good or is there a deeper purpose tied to it in terms of a committed love relationship?

Is there a purpose for male-female relationships or is the male-female union merely a product of evolutionary chance processes therefore legitimizing homosexual unions as well?

These questions may seem unanswerable.... They are if one ONLY uses logic. But there are answers when one tries to live these philosophies out in life.

One side will be happy and the other will be miserable... One side will be liveable and the other will not....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Three Sides to Environmentalism

One side says the world is going to hell in a handbasket and there aren't enough handbaskets to go around. Man is an accident, or at least a byproduct of chance, therefore his technology is unnatural and a threat to the environment. In the name of $$, man is emitting harmful amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and causing the world to burn a blaze.

The other side is one that says that the markets are always right. When left to free market forces, corporations will by nature produce technology that will keep getting cleaner and cleaner to meet a growing enviro-consciousness on the part of the consumer. Some on this side go so far as to say that man-made global warming is a scare tactic for the other side to generate $$.

I do believe it is always wise to follow the $$ on both sides of an issue, but the whole issue of whether or not global warming is occurring or whether or not it might be man-made, is irrelevant to the argument made by the third side.

This third side comes from a Christian worldview. If you and I are a byproduct of chance evolutionary processes that normally take millions of years to affect change, than man's exponential pace of technological advancement is easily outpacing evolutionary forces. We are paving the earth faster than animal and plant life can adapt to the pavement. Urban sprawl is growing faster than the deer's ability to adapt to the shrinkage of surrounding forest.

But if life has a purpose and therefore a purpose-maker, than nothing is a surprise. Everything has been planned for. This Divine purpose-maker isn't surprised by the emergence of technology. He isn't scratching His head in wonder as to how life here on earth is going to adapt to increases in Co2 emissions.

G.K. Chesterton, in his book Orthodoxy, noted the following about life:

“Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.” – Pg 46

The world that we know appears to have a similtude to perfection, an illusory mirage of it, whose shadow always sits one step further than we can go.

Why would this be?

This appears to be true in nature. I've heard Christians in particular focus on how the earth has been made to be so habitable with its regular rain cycles, liveable temperate ranges, oxygen to nitrogen composition in the atmosphere, perfect distance from the sun, etc......

However, have you ever noticed that the earth looks a little more habitable than it is? "Its exactitude is obvious but its inexactitude is hidden, its wildness lies in wait" to borrow again from Chesterton?

In other words, I have noticed that the earth is more or less habitable but not completely. It seems to provide us just enough struggle to cause us to work but not enough to cause us to die.

For instance, I was looking at an unmowed and unkept field near my workplace this summer. I was thinking about the fact that before man began to build roads, he had to walk in wildernesses of such fields, getting his ankles bit by various insects. Why wouldn't God have created the earth with fields paved by nature?

I have an answer and no I'm not on a tangent from the topic at hand....

Viktor Frankl in his book, "Man's Search for Meaning" writes:

"What man needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task."

It appears to me that God has made the earth in this way. It has been designed to be habitable, yet it gives us just enough resistance to justify a life that is defined and even fueled by struggle.

The field that I observed has been designed to be tamed. It has been designed to be tamed by man's blades (sickle, lawn mower, tractor, etc....)

The trees have been designed not only to give us shade, provide fruit, convert CO2 into oxygen but also to give us wood by being chopped down. Imagine a world where one purpose of trees is to be chopped down. Envision a world where grass blades are also meant to be stepped on, a world where the atmosphere might be meant to receive emissions.....

Its really not that hard. After all, our bodies are designed to receive death....

I was told by a wonderful hospice worker that I met when my wife's grandfather was dying that just before the body passes, it goes into a state where it releases a natural chemical that reduces pain.

This begs the question. Why would such a process evolve? Evolution's heart is "*Survival* of the fittest". No, this screams design, not humanistic evolution.

In a world designed by a wise, all-knowing, good creator, nature is meant both to be enjoyed, and consumed, to be preserved yet used.

I am not suggesting a consumeristic pillaging of the earth.

"The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" Psalm 24:1

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made..." - Romans 1:20

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." - Romans 8:22

I don't believe our car emissions are causing man-made global warming because I believe God foresaw our technological advances in transportation to account for them. But at the same time we should be wise stewards of the environment, always striving to replace resources that we use, to keep the earth as clean as possible to ensure a healthy life for generations to come.

A McDonald's hamburger wrapper isn't simply designed to wrap the food. It is also designed to be thrown away and hopefully recycled...

A balanced approach to environmentalism doesn't worship the earth and thus stifle scientific discovery which has its hands tied as it is prohibited to put god (the earth) under a microscope. Without setting up an idol, it stills calls us to a conservationist mindset of responsibility, fueled not by devotion to the earth (creation) but rather to its Creator.

The devil is in the extremes.

There are three sides to every story. One extreme, its opposite extreme, and the truth.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Song of Life

As a musician and a music teacher, I have found that music is a microcosm of life itself in so many ways. The best musicians have a balance between the analytical/intellectual/propositional (left brain) and the creative/visceral/experiential/emotional side (right brain).

If a musician learns their music theory, in terms of reading music, scales, intervals, arpeggios, chords, etc., but never develops their visceral side, they will sound stiff, as if they are playing exercises.

OTOH, if a musician is expressive, and creative, but lacks the technical and analytical side, their growth will be slow & inefficient.

A really good musician learns the elements of music theory via the analytical side of their brain, and applies them through their creative side.

So it is with life. If one errs too far on either side, one's worldview becomes skewed.

I am calling for an approach to life that is both rational, yet experiential.

In my Christian faith, I see this balance most succinctly presented. Christianity is one of the few religions, that bases its faith upon historical evidence. It doesn't just make claims that can't be rationalized. It is rightly accused to be Aristotelian. Its believers have been given a book to meditate upon and to study. We have been given historical facts, which upon examination, might require faith to believe, but can't be refuted without holding to a greater faith.

OTOH, it is an experiential faith in the fact that it calls the believer to apply these facts via faith (the visceral side). When I think of faith, I see parallels with creativity and imagination.

Imagination may be misleading since Christianity is not made up out of thin air. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word. Again, this is the convergence of the mind and the imagination.

Christianity extends this visceral side by advocating that we apply it internally, with the heart. Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the inside of a man/woman.

Finally, it is to be applied relationally. Christianity presents a God that can be known. And as this God is known, He is loved. As He is loved, His people, created in His image are also naturally loved.

This is the convergence of the heart and the mind. It is the song of life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Serious Happiness

So much of this blog is critical of noncritical thinking. One big reason that people don't ask deep questions is because they're trying to escape the deep answers.

Shallowness is a parachute when you're falling into oblivion, however it only delays the inevitable.

So much of life is volitional, posing as incompetence. The victory doesn't go to the smartest, or the most gifted. The victory goes to the one who is not afraid to look at life the way it truly is no matter what it costs. Only such a life is worth living.

Frivolity is a specific type of escape.

The difference between frivolity and joy is that joy is SERIOUS happiness.

Maybe I'm becoming a little bit of a cultural hermit as I don't keep up with the latest movies and music except as a means to allow me to better communicate and engage those who do.

One could say that I've escaped, but when one escapes a burning building, it feels just like being rescued. If you look at me on the surface, you might be distracted by a certain seriousness, but I am serious about my happiness.

Are you living a frivolous life or a joyful one? Do live in a world that you have wished for or do you wish for a world that you live in?

My role is not to have all the answers but to show you how to receive them yourself.

For what answers that I've found, I've found them to be a gift to receive, not pearls to take.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Technology that Serves Man

Scientific progress can only logically be advanced within a worldview that allows for the universe to be separate from the Divine.

Some take this to the other extreme, and hold to a materialistic worldview. Materialism removes purpose and value to life, leaving us with a meaningless existence that is driven only to the self-indulgence of the here and now.

But if we live in a world where there IS a God, but that God is separate from the Earth and the universe, we can live a life that has purpose and meaning AND logically be able to examine the world in such a way as to develop a scientific understanding that can make the world a better place.

I say CAN make a better place because obviously a gun is a technological advancement that can be used for both good or evil, depending upon the purpose of the bearer. Human nature is thus a factor. Once again, Christianity is the only worldview that keeps the pendulum in balance, giving us the impetus to distinguish between good and evil, so as to use the guns for the right purpose of defending life itself.

Even anti-gun pacifists will call men and women bearing guns (Police) to a crime scene.

Christianity balances the pendulum, giving us a reason to develop technology, a motivation to use it for good, and a purpose that declares the value of life over things.

Why the Earth is Not our Mother

The technology that creates the platform for this very blog testifies to the fact that we live in a world that rewards empirical science.

Sure, technology can be abused and misused, but there is no denying the fact that technology has for the most part, made life better.

Just as miracles authenticate God's word, technology authenticates empirical science.

Empirical science puts the earth under a microscope, dissects it, experiments with it, and makes discoveries that produce computers, and all the tech gadgets that has come to define 21st century life, automobiles, air planes, more efficient ways to farm land, the printing press, etc....

When the Europeans first discovered the Americas, the natives were still living very primitively. I don't believe that the Native Americans were less intelligent or less evolved as some would believe but never dare say (rightfully so to their shame). I believe they were stifled by their worldview.

Native Americans, believe in pantheism, which is the idea that everything is divine. In such a world, there is no separation between Creator and creation because the earth itself is part of God.

In such a world, it would be irreverent to put anything under a microscope, perform experiments or to otherwise study the known world. THIS is why the Natives were so primitive.

So if the Earth is our mother, then why does nature itself seem to reward us for putting her under a microscope?

Does this reward not scream a truth that there is a distinction between the Creator and His creation?

God's Mansion

The question of the existence of alien life fascinates me as a Christian. Many people that I know have a perspective of, "We can't be alone in the universe. There must be other life out there." If their evolutionary presuppositions are true than the massive size of the universe itself increases the odds of the existence of alien life forms.

Proponents of the existence of aliens sometimes even go so far as to claim that to believe that human life is the only created or evolved life in the universe is egocentric.

Perhaps there is alien life. If aliens were discovered tomorrow, it wouldn't blow away my Christian faith. What Christianity describes as Spiritual powers, in the forms of Angelic hosts and demons, could very well be called alien life forms in today's vernacular. Christianity does describe these beings as having a mystical power that would incline me to believe that these life forms would not use or need superior technology in the forms of flying saucers and the like to travel through space and time. Even so, Arthur C. Clarke once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" so perhaps what Christianity paints as spiritual power IS technological.

But leaving this position aside, what if there is no alien life in space? What if the Spiritual powers that Christianity describes are ghost-like life forms that can't be observed physically? What if they are metaphysical and don't need a habitat on some distant galaxy far far away...?

Here's where I state an alternative belief that is probably not unique, but I've never heard it expressed anywhere before. If human life is the only created life in the grand universe, wouldn't the vastness of the cosmos only magnify the uniqueness of human life? You can call this megalomania, but only if you fail to examine the nuances of this thought at a deeper level.

This specialness would be endowed by our Creator. It would be God ascribing a fantastic worth to human life. Wouldn't this be consistent with God giving His only son for humanity?

Fred Smith from http://www.breakfastwithfred.com/ once said that the difference between humility and pride is that humility thinks its gifts come from itself and pride understands its gifts to come from God.

This endowment would be given by God as the universe's existence clearly has not come about by anything mankind has done.

Consider the idea that in such a world, we could carry this a step further. The universe, with all of its vast galaxies and countless stars, in its beautiful splendor would be overkill if it were created ONLY for human life. Really all we'd need for human life's sustainment on the earth is a simple closed solar system (with the Sun, the earth and the moon).

So what if the rest has been created for God?

A rich man builds a mansion on the coasts of a beach, when all he might really need is a 3 bedroom, 1 and half bath ranch with a 2 car garage.

You may look at the mansion and think that it's too big for only one person, there must be a whole host of people living there. What if the universe is God's mansion?

Is it not possible that the real reason we search for alien life is because we long to confirm that we're not alone in the universe in our quest for relationship and are looking for a savior to save us from ourselves?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

This is a collection of Aphorisms that that I have written:

Strengths and Weaknesses

"Capitalize on your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses."

"Every weakness is a strength out of context."

"Ambiguity breeds depth."

"Faith without works is hypocrisy, works without faith is legalism."

"Faith is the belief that meaning has been imposed upon our lives. Faithlessness is our attempt to make up our own meaning."

"Faith is God's litmus test of our desire."

"Cynicism is innuendo's 'siren song'. Faith is innuendo's 'Hallelujah Chorus.'"

"I've lost faith... in coincidence."


"At the heart of Christianity, stands the crucifixion of the divine purpose maker. At the heart of secularism, stands the crucifixion of purpose itself."

"If the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, then the love of God is the completion of it."

"Wisdom is a predictor. Foolishness is predictable."

"Wisdom is prophetic. Foolishness is pathetic."

"Wisdom provides the right answers by asking the right questions."

"The limitations of wisdom are manifest in surprise."

"Wisdom cannot escape doubt. Foolishness cannot escape certainty."

"Foolishness is incompetence unrecognized."

"Humility and wisdom can only coexist if wisdom always doubts itself at least 5%."


"The difference between a lie and a deception is that deception is based upon truth."

"Before we can know the world, we must know ourselves."


"I assess criticism for the same reason that I welcome it; to err is human."

"Reason necessitates its own limitations. Faith compensates for them."

"Although we can never have comprehensive knowledge, we can have a comprehensive worldview."

"Start with the right questions and the right answers will work themselves out."


"Science has replaced our narrative with proposition and our faith with technology."

"Life is like a sailboat where the heart is the sail and only a story can move it."

The Church

"A church that renders the world irrelevant becomes irrelevant."


"Theory is spread through information. Creativity is spread through inspiration."


"Some people see the glass as half empty, others as half full. I see the glass and ask for a refill."

"Brevity is the soul of wit, levity is the soul of nit."

"Life... what a fantasic idea!"

"Continue to ask "Why?" until you are forced to ask "Who?"."

"Just as miracles authenticate the speaker, technology authenticates the science."

"Moderation in belief, often leads to extremism in action."

"Two wrongs might not make a right, but three lefts do."

"War is not a battle of men, but of ideas. The peaceniks attempt to wage peace with the idea that they can rid the world of ideas. After all, a world without ideas is not worth fighting for. The problem is that such a world is also not worth living for."

"We often know what we are supposed to do, but fail to be motivated to do what we know."

"The road to the presence of God is paved by thanksgiving."

“Humility is the ability to stare weakness in the eye.”

"Life is not about what you have, it's about what you DO with what you have."

"Never end your theology with a proposition."

"In a changing world, we preserve something's essence by changing its form."

""Sometimes God's grace speaks loudest via silence."

I'm always adding more, so if you liked these, keep checking back at www.gregjonesmusic.com/aphorisms.htm

Monday, May 5, 2008

Living in the Shadows

Chuck Colson, in a commentary entitled "Why We Whisper", states that there are economic costs associated with immoral behavior that are not being quantified and presented in public discourse:


I couldn't agree more. And with the current economic downturn we face, this line of argumentation seems to resonate louder. Colson concludes the article by suggesting that since the non-believer doesn't respond to arguments derived explicitly from the Bible, believers should present their case in economic terms in the spirit of promoting the general welfare.

Secularists can rest easy from my comments. I do NOT believe that Governments should impose religious morality upon a nation. But I do believe that the call to moral purity is impaired even if it is presented only in practical, economic terms. While such terms may forge a path for this discourse to be presented within the context of politics and legislative halls, doing the right thing simply because it will help our nation's fiscal policy is hardly an incentive.

Life is like a sailboat, where the heart is a sail and only a story can move it.

It takes passion, motivated by the purpose and meaning that comes from living out a life that is a narrative, to really motivate us to do the right thing.

Which is easier to do? Is it easy to pay the ultimate price in giving your life as a sacrifice because religion or a Government says its the right thing to do, or because you have a love and a story that is greater than yourself?

We can only do the impossible, in the shadows and such shadows can only be cast by one who is larger than us.

Are you living only for yourself or have you found someone who is bigger?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back to beginnings

Judeo-Christianity espouses a faith in a God who is good, and loves us so much that He has given us the free will to choose.

The outworking of that free will has given us a fallen world where those consequences permeate our life, in the form of suffering and death.

But evolution's "Survival of the Fittest" says that suffering and death preceded Adam & Eve. You can certainly believe in God and believe in evolution, but beware. You have to either surrender God's goodness or His (or Her) omnipotence. You can't have both in the presence of a cruel process that uses death and suffering as its catalyst.

But does "Survival of the Fittest" (known as natural selection) prove evolution? If it does, then why is evolution called, even by its adherents, a theory?

Natural selection explains the survivability of a species, NOT necessarily its origins. It is natural selection that allows the deer-like creatures with genes for long thick fur, known as caribou, to survive the cooling of temperatures that last
took place in the Anwar province.

It is natural selection that allows the surival of insects which already have a genetic predisposition to resist certain types of insecticides, while those that do not have the gene fade into extinction.

But what has never been observed with natural selection is the addition of genetic information. While we've seen species change over time because of changes in the environment and ecological cycles, resulting in a loss of genetic information,
we've never witnessed a species change in a way that caused it to gain NEW features. You doubt what I'm saying? Just look at the trail of extinctions and endangered species in natural selection's path.

Genetics is information. Information, everywhere it has been observed to have been formed, ALWAYS comes from intelligence. We've never observed otherwise. Any speculations about the origins of DNA and the life that results from it, resulting from a process that is absent an intelligent designer/creator, is pure faith, contradicting all empirical observation.

So the world bears the stamp of an intelligent designer, but who IS this designer God and does this God care about His/Her creation?

This begs the question, asked many times before. "If God is good, then why does evil exist?"

This question assumes the existence of evil, and therefore the existence of good. The question is assuming that moral laws exist. Moral laws can't exist without a moral law giver also existing.

Go back to the beginning paragraph of this blog posting now that you've read this far, to put the rest of this answer into perspective.

Back to beginnings....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ambiguity Breeds Depth

"Number nine... number nine..."

When the Beatles uttered these words on Revolution 9, they added at least a perception (if not a reality) of depth, inherent in their mystery, to the lyrics.

Advertising billboards are banned from being displayed at the Grand Canyon (thank God). You won't even find a sign advertising for the Canyon itself. Just try to imagine a flashing neon sign in front of a lookout at the Canyon reading, "Huge! Enormous! Amazing! The Wonders and Awe of the Grand Canyon!"

Such a sign, besides being a little long, is not only superfluous, but in stating the obvious it undermines the true magnificence of the Canyon.

I used to wonder why God didn't present Himself as a visible man in the sky. Why does He choose to be invisible? Why can't I hear Him like I would hear a friend's voice? Why does God hide?

For the same reason that He forbade the Jews of the Old Testament from creating "graven images" in the form of idols representing His presence.

God shrouds Himself in the veneer of ambiguity because ambiguity breeds depth.

It is His mystery that inspires our imaginations.

The invisibility of God shines...
The silence of God screams....

Grace Even at the Expense of Truth

The Pendulum Effect Blog is all about the pursuit of truth via the questioning process. It is about finding the truth in the midst of two extremes. Truth, is the gravity that pulls the pendulum from the middle, setting it into motion in the midst of falsehood.

But is there something more valuable than truth? Doesn't truth require responsibility and accountability? Is ignorance sometimes bliss?

Is it better for me to NOT know that the enemy is at the city's gate if I would be too much of a coward to prepare for battle if armed with foreknowledge?

While I ask God to reveal Himself to me, I have begun to ask God for grace even at the expense of truth.

I believe that God is purposefully silent to us about a great many things as an act of mercy, withholding truths from us that would warrant a burden of accountability that He already knows we couldn't bear.

"You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Trouble No One About Their Religion?

"Trouble no one about their religion, respect all in their views, and demand that they respect yours." - Chief Tecumseh

How can we know that we do not live in a world that warrants troubling others about their religion?

This is a religious statement. It takes the faith that only a religion can espouse for anyone to possibly know that there is no one exclusive faith.

Christianity claims that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. Islam claims that atheism and agnostics (Buddhists fall in this category) can never attain salvation.

With the above said, while I thoroughly disagree with Chief Tecumseh, at the same time I am not advocating that we coerce people into belief.

After all, coerced belief is no belief at all. By the sword, you may get someone to concede to reciting a creed, but not even the sword can conquer the heart.

Capturing the heart is the domain of art (any rhymes present here are purely coincidental and do not necessarily reflect the intentions of this blog or its writer :-).

"Let me write the songs of a nation, I really don't care who writes it's laws" -
Andrew Fletcher

Make no mistake about it. Proselytization is alive and well today. But its widest net is not cast in the writings of philosophers, nor echoed in the halls of academia. Its broadest reach, approaching ubiquity, is in the form of our culture's entertainment (usually a cheap form of what can be loosely called "art). The new evangelist with the loudest voice is not John Hagee, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, or Joel Osteen, but rather it is found in the voices of producers, directors, writers, actors, artists, performers and songwriters.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Where did God come from?

A commenter to one of my blog postings inspired me to address this question. And as I am so apt to do, I begin my answer with a series of questions:

Why does everything have to have a beginning? Why does everything have to have a cause? Why does everything have to be finite?

If we assume everything DOES have a cause, then we might assume God did have a beginning.
Lets say for the sake of argument that He was begat from another God. Where did THAT God come from and where is that God now? Did that God die?

Or lets say that God was produced by a cosmic process. Where did that process come from? Did it come from another process or another God? You can see that we can't escape the infinite.

Even if we try to say that in the beginning was nothing, we are establishing a belief in an eternal nothing that had no cause....

No matter how you answer the question, you end up with either an eternal God or an eternal process. When we are left with the eternal, we are left with something that has no cause.

Everything that we have ever observed or experienced in this world has a beginning. The computer that I am using to submit this post, the Internet and blog site that hosts it, the language that I am attempting to use to communicate with, the clothes that I am wearing, the trees in my front yard, my front yard, the earth itself.... EVERYTHING that we see in this world has a beginning.

But should we therefore assume that EVERYTHING that exists in the universe has a beginning? Is it illogical to believe that something could be eternal and NOT have a beginning?

Imagine you're a fish that has never seen land, nor any land-dweller. Based upon the world that you are experiencing, you could easily assume that the entire world is aquatic, and you'd be wrong.

Logic tells us that the eternal exists. The only question is whether or not that infinity is in the form of a process or a person....

Remember a persistent theme of this blog: "Continue to ask "Why?" until you are forced to ask "Who?"."

When God reveals Himself for the first time to Moses, Moses asks him His name. God simply responds, "I am that I am", literally translated as "I-shall-be that I-shall-be."

So back to the original question, "Where did God come from?" He didn't come.... He IS and always shall be..."

God in The Smallest Place

As a Christian, I have always been fascinated with space, looking in awe at the grandness of the universe, feeling like an ever-shrinking man as I consider the enormity and grandeur of it all.

Psalm 19:1 "19:1-6 The heavens declare the glory of God"

However, there is something that has always bugged me about space. It also seems to be a very cold and lonely place. I have the feeling that if I were to be stranded on a space walk, I wouldn't sense God's presence, but might instead feel like I was alone on an island.

So much of what I write about on the Pendulum Effect is truth found in paradox. Do we err to look for God among the grandness of spinning galaxies and in the "bells and whistles" of supernovas and black holes?

I'm a musician (an adjunct professor) and I laugh that what is often celebrated as music in our culture, is nothing more than a good looking "pop tart", lip syncing to a song that she didn't write, with choreographed dancers all moving to "strings" being pulled by record company executives in order to sell what is prostituted to be "music".

"I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to."
Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977)

Call me an elitist if you want, but I assure you that the more one learns about music (from an "under the hood" musician's standpoint), the more jaded this perception becomes.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday by the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

Once I asked a budding 7 year old guitar protege of mine on his first guitar lesson if he knew how to tune his guitar. I had to chuckle inside as he told me, "Yes. I simply turn all the tuning pegs until they all are pointing in the same direction."

His guitar certainly looked good, but it sounded horrible, as I demonstrated to his amusement.

God doesn't reside in the enormous any more than wonderous things reside in Circus side shows advertising themselves as "Amazing! Stupendous! Never seen before! Lifechanging!"

As amazing as the universe is, what is more awe-inspiring than the birth of a precious newborn? Tiny and helpless, the innocence and purity of a newborn child screams "The Glory of God" in its cries in ways that a planetarium fails to capture in our imaginations.

I Kings 19:11-13:
The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Just as God was found not in the wind or the earthquake or in the fire, but in the gentle whisper, let me suggest that God is not found in the grandness of the universe, but rather in the heart of the humblest of believers. He is not "out there" in the ethos, but to those of us who believe and serve Him, He is to be found so close as to be only a whisper away....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Misc Questions

Is anyone hearing me?

Do I have anything worth saying?

Is this thing on?

The "Seeker Sensitive" God

One morning on my way to work, I watched an old lady who was trying to get gas. She was practically swearing at the pump, muttering her frustrations to herself within my earshot as she couldn’t seem to get the gas to flow. After she figured out the prepay requirement, she struggled to get the pump to read her card. I thought I’d help, but before I made a move, the attendant helped her via the intercom.

What if things that seem random, are messages from God, waiting for the discerning, wise and humble of heart to decipher?

Don’t “suffer” a fool could have been this message... When the above event occurred, I had been dealing with a lot of foolish people... I don't believe in coincidences...

I had a surreal experience one evening last summer. I was to play an outdoor concert, hosted by my old church as a community outreach. As I was setting up, the weather being perfect, I turned around to find a beautiful girl within 50 feet of me, riding her bike towards me, wind blowing in her hair... She spoke to me with such an exotic accent and asked me what was going on that evening. I explained. I then asked her where she came from. She replied, “Holland”. “On your bike?”, I asked. She even laughed like an angel. I honestly wondered if she was an angel.

What if God spoke through these events? Maybe this was His way of simply saying that He was going to be present and was going to send goodness to us that evening? It was a nice evening.

As a child, I used to want Him to speak to me as a friend speaks to a friend, in words. I still want Him to speak, but now I can see how much more amazing it would be if He spoke through the everyday events of life, presenting them like a puzzle, inviting those of us who long for His friendship to decipher.

I have recently discovered that God is “seeker-sensitive”. He looks at what we like, our style, our culture, our preferences, our predispositions, our personality, speaking the loudest through our passions.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Truth is in the Middle of the Pendulum

I'm concerned about so many of my Christian brothers and sisters buying into neo-conservativism, hook, line & sinker. After all... I used to. I can't call myself Republican or Democrat.

I agree with conservatives when it comes to ethics and morality, however because we don't live in a theocracy, I agree with liberals that the morals associated with traditional religion should not necessarily be legislated.

Jesus told His disciples to go out into the world and make other disciples, not go into the world, take over Governments, change their laws and force people to live out a Christian ethic. God looks on the inside of the heart, not on the outside. Even if the law could prohibit a person from sinning, that wouldn't make a person a Christian.

Christianity teaches that man has a sin nature. So I'm naturally suspicious of Government because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But my faith also tells me that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. So I am equally suspicious of corporate interests. Corporations are buying politicians. You can see why this might happen when you consider how expensive it is to run for higher office. Unless you're an independent millionaire, how can an aspiring public servant ascend? They have to sell themselves.

I believe in helping the poor, but I reject enabling the sluggard.

So am I a conservative? Or am I a liberal?

G.K. Chesterton once noted, upon reading criticisms of Christianity written by different skeptics that one skeptic would say Christianity was too feminized, while another would claim it to be too aggressive. One critic would claim it was too pacifist, while the other would claim it was the root cause of violence. He'd read one critic who would say that it liberated women too much and another that claimed it restricted them too much.

As a skeptic himself, he concluded that whatever this Christianity might be, it is a peculiar thing since it garners such criticisms from both extremes.

And then Chesterton came upon a startling epiphany:

And then in a quiet hour a strange thought struck me like a still thunderbolt. There had suddenly
come into my mind another explanation. Suppose we heard an unknown man spoken of by many
men. Suppose we were puzzled to hear that some men said he was too tall and some too short; some
objected to his fatness, some lamented his leanness; some thought him too dark, and some too fair.
One explanation (as has been already admitted) would be that he might be an odd shape. But there
is another explanation. He might be the right shape. Outrageously tall men might feel him to be
short. Very short men might feel him to be tall. Old bucks who are growing stout might consider
him insufficiently filled out; old beaux who were growing thin might feel that he expanded beyond
the narrow lines of elegance. Perhaps Swedes (who have pale hair like tow) called him a dark man,
while negroes considered him distinctly blonde. Perhaps (in short) this extraordinary thing is really
the ordinary thing; at least the normal thing, the centre. Perhaps, after all, it is Christianity that is
sane and all its critics that are mad—in various ways.
- Orthodoxy pg 51.

The pendulum continues to swing because the truth is in the middle, pulling it down and into motion...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Truth is Ugly and Her Mother Dresses Her Funny

Benjamin Franklin once said that "Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to eat for dinner." We often treat our beliefs the same way, "voting" for what we want to believe out of convenience. Any worldview that has no inconvenient truth should be held in suspicion.

Franklin also said, "The sting in any rebuke is the truth."

Truth is not always pretty. In fact, she is quite ugly and her mother dresses her funny....

“Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good." - Thomas Sowell

What do you believe in? What do you believe regarding the world we live in and life itself? Is it a convenient belief demanding nothing of your own life?

On the other hand, Woody Allen took the negative approach:

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Shakespeare expressed his pessimism this way:
“I am sick at heart. . . . To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day. To the last syllable of recorded time; life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” (Act V, Scene V)

As Chesterton explains in his book "Orthodoxy", we need a worldview that allows us to see the brokenness of the world, but values it enough to motivate us to make it better.

The pendulum can swing from one extreme to the other, but in the middle is a balance between a God that is good and a world that is broken. In this balance, my eyes have been opened to the flaws of this broken world, and a passion that has been a given a song to heal it.

My faith in Christ presents to me the unattractive truths of eternal judgement. It demands the price of my life, given as a sacrificial act as I attempt to discipline it and bring it under His subjection. However, this very act of sacrifice is also an act of worship and in that worship, I am given meaning, purpose, passion.... Nothing worth attaining comes without a price. Life comes with a price tag. Are you willing to invest?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

We Seek Answers To Questions Not Asked

In the book of Job, in the midst of his suffering, he and his friends ask a lot of questions as to why he was suffering.

When God finally speaks from the whirlwind, He doesn't provide answers.... instead He offers questions. The questions make Job think about who he is, not why he was suffering.

Job was seeking answers to the wrong questions. When we suffer, we often ask "Why?". But God's questions asked "Who"?

I DO believe in asking "Why". I believe we should, "Continue to ask "Why?" until you are forced to ask "Who?"."

On the opening to the T.V. series X files, Moulder had signs hanging around his office reading, "The truth is out there" and "I want to believe".

But there was an assumption on the show that the answers to Moulder's questions would set him free. But was he asking the right questions?

The story of Christ is a story of goodness that surrenders itself to suffering and pain for our redemption. But its not a story that tells us why we might suffer in our personal lives.

However, it whispers this message:

You are not alone. In the midst of suffering God is there because God suffered loss also.

I admit that I prefer resolutions to empathy, but I also prefer over-eating over exercising, fried foods over salads and answers to questions that I am asking vs answers to questions that I'm not wise enough to ask.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Seeing Beyond the Visible

Scientists were puzzled. They were observing a beta decay experiment and taking measurements accordingly. Accordingly to the laws of conservation and momentum, they were expecting to find that no energy should be lost when comparing the "inputs" to the "outputs" of the experiment.

They had already confirmed that no mass was lost, so they were very surprised to see that they were measuring less energy at the end of the beta decay than at the beginning.

How were they to account for the loss? They could have assumed that they were witnessing the first exception in the very strongly established laws of conservation and momentum. But we live in a universe that doesn't bend its laws.

So instead, they postulated that there must be a subatomic particle that they were observing that was massless, or had such a small mass that it couldn't be measured by their experiments. They called it the neutrino.

While the scientists had not SEEN this neutrino, it fits their scientific models very well. It fit them so well that they lived with this belief in a particle that was so far invisible to them.

It wasn't until 25 years later that scientists developed the means sufficient to finally detect this elusive particle.

This story presents something that is profound to me. Facts alone are so finite. We can never truly know the world with just facts. However, these scientists used empiricism, combined with rationalism to predict something that they would have otherwise never seen.

They predicted the existence of something that was elusive to empiricism alone.

There is an online movie called the Zeitgeist Movie at http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/.

It makes outrageous, but very convincing conspiracy claims regarding Christianity, 911 and the financial system of the United States.

Its claims, on the surface are very convincing. However, they suffer from a severe problem. As I watched the video, I asked questions like "How can I KNOW these people are telling the truth?", "How can I know these people don't have agendas to push just like the conspiracists they accuse?"

I can't...

And I don't have to. You see, the scientists who discovered the neutrino, did so despite the limitations of empiricism alone. They used what is called "logical positivism", (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_positivism) the combination of empiricism and rationalism to discover what was beyond man's finite reach.

I'm still struggling with terms and phrases, but I would call this "logical positivism" philosophy and worldview.

I know the Zeitgeist claims are false because I have a worldview that is predictive. In my case, its a Christian worldview that says both that humanity is flawed, yet it lauds the possibility of altruism.

We see this altruism in Christ's sacrifice.

It only takes one altruist, a person who can't be bought, bribed or threatened to blow the top off of a conspiracy theory. Because of this, the more complicated a conspiracy theory is, the less likely it can be true. The more conspiracists you have, the more implausible it becomes.

I had never even been to the World Trade Center towers, but I know they weren't blown up by conspirators because I know human nature. I know it would have taken such a large group of people to pull off the claims of this movie that I can flatly dismiss them.

In this sense, what I am calling logical positivism, and can also call worldview and philosophy, has eyes that can see things that can otherwise not be seen.

Open these eyes and see the true world that we live in.