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.