Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Distracted by meaninglessness, surprised by joy

Is God merely an invention of the human mind to account for death?

This is a fair and common question.

What is the most certain thing that will happen to every living being on this planet and in the known universe?

Is it not death?

What idea is the most uncertain belief held by the greatest number of people in the known universe?

Is it not God?

What is the vehicle to belief in God if it is not faith? And what is faith if it is not a belief that contains no ounce of doubt? Can someone be a person of faith without also embracing the mystery that comes with doubt?

And what does it mean to embrace mystery, if one doesn't also embrace the very questioning process?

Why is it that people who do NOT believe in God go so far out of their way to avoid thinking about this most obvious and certain thing? Why do the skeptics live their lives embracing any distractions that numb their senses to this one universal certainty?

Is it really in our best interests to only embrace certainty, when the most certain thing is death?

Are our distractions inventions of the human mind to avoid God?

Is it not true that the believer is sure about the most certain thing, and the skeptic most doubtful?

Does it not even follow that the believer is most certain about the most important things in life, while the nonbeliever is only certain about the least important?

I close with excerpts of G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy (pages 91-92):

"The sceptic may truly be said to be topsy-turvy; for his feet are dancing upwards in idle ecstacies, while his brain is in the abyss."

"Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this; that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small."

"Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this; that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small."

"We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levities of the angels. So we sit perhaps in a starry chamber of silence, while the laughter of the heavens is too loud for us to hear."

"Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian."

Now, what was the question again? :-)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Life is a highway

A road system is a curious thing.

We draw lines on them to order traffic. The order that the lines create appears to be arbitrary. As long as the traffic follows this arbitrary order, it will flow smoothly.

So in life, you can't function properly without order (meaning). A religious worldview gives the most comprehensive worldview. I understand that philosophy also gives a worldview, but it has a difficulty being comprehensive because it limits itself to the natural world. Philosophy can say nothing about the most certain event that happens to all of us, which is death.

Some people believe that man can create his own meaning (order) and that everyone can have a different meaning (relativism). But drawing lane lines in any old fashion would create chaos on the roads. And giving each driver a separate set of traffic rules would cause havoc as well.

The stop light systems start and stop traffic at either timed intervals, or sometimes triggered by events (the presence/absence of cars).

Ecclesiastes 3 states that there is a time for everything. There is even a time for going and stopping. Sometimes we can be joyous, and sometimes we mourn. There is a time to laugh and a time to cry.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" - Ecclesiastes 3:1

Speed limits keep the cars in relative unity. Granted, unity is probably more of an unintended consequence, but it does result from restricting speeds to keep driving safer.

And so in life, living a life of integrity and morality cultivates unity. Living a life of monogamy preserves marriages and families. Living a life of honesty preserves relationships of all kinds. Doing justice and giving to the poor and needy among us, keeps all of life's cars from crashing into each other because of otherwise vastly different speeds.

After all, as the song says, "Life is a highway. I want to ride it all night long."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Answer for Everything, Proves Nothing

Someone very dear to me has schizophrenia. He thinks that he's living the life of the Truman Show. He believes everyone in the world knows who he is and is watching his every move. He has an answer for everything.

I challenged his view one day by telling him that if he did a Google of his name, he'd be hard pressed to find himself even listed. I proposed that in a world where everyone is watching you and knows your name, a Google search was bound to prove this.

His explanation was simply that God could have manipulated the results of the Google search to hide the truth. We could all even be a part of a conspiracy. His answer was expected. "You have an answer for everything", I replied. The problem with his way of thinking is that there's nothing anyone can say or do to prove or disprove his beliefs.
He proves nothing by answering everything.

The brilliant scientist Stephen Hawking is very ill right now. He has spent much of his life working on a theory to unify Einstein's theory of relativity (which deals with physics on a large scale) with quantum theory (physics on a very small scale). His hope is that this unifying theory will explain everything.

I can't help but wonder, in the light of my schizophrenic friend, whether or not Hawking is looking for a system of truth that is just as insane.

Reading the doctrinal statements of some churches and Christian universities, I wonder if I don't see the same sort of insanity. They seem to have everything in life figured out. Is Christ anything if not a paradox? Does not the Christian see life in Christ's death, power in the cross, strength in His display of weakness and hope in His suffering?

I have always been skeptical of skepticism, but I am now becoming skeptical of any theory that claims to explain everything. I am starting to bring my skepticism of the "too good to be true" product that "slices and dices" to my philosophy.

Perhaps the best worldview of life purposefully leaves room for mystery. Perhaps the healthiest dogma is that which includes faith.

And why would the best worldview leave room for mystery if mystery wasn't the door for worship?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Exhibit A

Remember when I said that truth is a great book with a bad cover (see "You Can't Judge Truth By Its Cover")? I give you exhibit A:

Susan Boyle.

How shallow have we become to judge things by the outside instead of the inside? How foolish are we to embrace style over substance?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why Die On A Cross When We Can Be Good Instead?

According to the Barna Group, 73% of adults believe that one can earn salvation through good behavior.

Almost half of all born-again Christians believe this as well.

I wish this were the case. I specifically challenge Christians with the following question (for non-christians, this question has too many assumptions).

If all it takes for someone to obtain salvation is to be good, then why would Jesus have bothered dying on a cross? Why wouldn't he have simply come to earth, preached/teached that everyone should be good and then ascended back into heaven?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I Want to Believe

“Do not seek the because - in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.” - Anias Nin.

As I encourage the questioning process, do I seek reasons in areas where there are none? Anias Nin, was no Christian, but she had a glimpse into the Christian concept of grace. Grace is NOTHING if it can be stood up on the legs of reason.

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast" - Ephesians 2:8-9

I've been reading Pascal's Pensees lately. In it, he argues that there are some things that we know to be true that can't be proven via the reasoning process. Believing tomorrow will come is one example that I remember. Love is another.

I've always believed, against the grain, that faith and reason are supplementary as opposed to the common view that they are antithetical to each other. I've written about this in other postings and therefore won't repeat old ground.

However, in light of the nature of love and grace, I have to ask whether or not I go too far.

Perhaps the skeptics who think they have refuted religious faith, are standing on piles of mud that they have mistaken for gold. They think they have refuted faith by showing that there is no reason to hold it, but in doing so, they are really no different than the delusional person who might say that airplanes can't really fly because everything must be supported by the terrestrial. Perhaps their minds are too earthly. Or perhaps mine is too much in the clouds.

If airplanes operate by different rules when set in motion, despite the fact they are physically heavier than air, wouldn't God do the same?

Perhaps all that we call faith is really a test of our volition.

Perhaps what we believe (and even skepticism is belief) is really the naked exposure of our will.... our heart itself.

I was made for another. I am "otherly".

I want to believe...