Thursday, December 9, 2010

Incoherence Kills Relationships


Ravi Zacharias (www.rzim.org) was once asked during a Q&A session where he had gotten the idea that truth is coherent. He answered by asking, “do you want a coherent or incoherent answer?”

Coherence is logical consistency by another name. I am afraid that I have learned that when a person lacks reason, they kill off the ability to communicate. As a result, one cannot build relationships with such a person beyond shallow platitudes.

Please understand that I am not defining a reasonable person to be someone who simply agrees with me.

I am also not under the na├»ve impression that logic is a truth detector. Logic does the best job of being a lie detector. I understand that one can be logical and be wrong. Euclidean vs non-euclidean geometry yields this truth. Both types of systems are logically consistent but yield contradicting results. If you’re not up to speed on the subject, this is Google material.

The above is so abstract, so let me illustrate with an example. For the sake of brevity, this example is oversimplified and hyperbolic, however it is still a legitimate illustration. Imagine someone states that they believe that the earth is flat. You show them a satellite imagery of the round earth and make arguments about the rotation of the earth affecting the day/night cycle. You point back to Magellan who was the first explorer to travel completely around the earth. The dissenter, instead of addressing each of those points, simply dismisses them as propaganda arguments, perhaps all a part of a grand conspiracy.

What more can you say or do when someone ignores evidence and reason but smile and nod or perhaps shake your head and walk away? At this point, the relationship has suffered. The relationship lacks the openness necessary to cultivate change and growth.

The sun has a “relationship” with plant life. Those plants open themselves up and reach towards the sun for nourishment and growth. You show me a plant that doesn’t do this and I’ll show you one that is dying. Reach for the light and you’ll find relationships. It may stretch you, but the stretching is the better alternative to death.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Probable Impossible

"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."- Christopher Hitchens.
Although Mr. Hitchens and I both come from polar opposite perspectives, we can both agree on the above statement. Many people hold to faith without reason. But I would contend that you can't have faith without reason, nor reason without faith.

So why do I believe in Christianity? There are many reasons, but here is one simple argument.

I believe in Christianity because I believe in the collective accounts of the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (the Gospels). The skeptic has no better alternative. It is one thing to naively believe in one account. This is what Muslims do with the Koran. But when you have multiple people saying the same thing, you either have the truth or a conspiracy. One thing that is improbable is a collective delusion.

For the skeptic to say that these books are a conspiracy, belies a reasonable motive. What did these writers have to gain by making up claims that there was a man (Jesus), who was the Messiah? What wares were they hocking?

The skeptic sometimes claims that these books were really written by the church when it came into power in the 4th century. However, we know for a fact that these books were written in the 1st century. The oldest complete manuscript of a Gospel text dates back to the 2nd century.

And what were the motives of such a conspiracy? Were the writers trying to gain money or power? If so, they failed on all accounts. The Gospel writers didn't go on a "book tour" nor did they gain political ascendency. In fact, they risked their lives by their claims.

Many believers gave their lives because they were convinced that Jesus Christ died and rose again and was the Messiah. Why is this any different from religious extremists today who do the same thing? The difference is that these early believers had the evidence to affirm or reject such claims. Many of these martyrs actually saw Jesus, living and walking the same ground He did.

"Always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible." - Aristotle
Sure, it stretches the imagination to believe in the claims of Christianity. But the alternatives take MORE faith to believe. In fact, whenever I encounter a skeptic who rejects the claims of the Gospels, I always challenge them to give a better explanation as to why they exist in the first place. I have yet to find a skeptic who can give a better alternative making the improbable more probable in the face of the impossible.

Illusions of Omnipotence in the Face of Hypocrisy

I've never understood the mindset that says, "I reject Christianity because of hypocrites." To me, that is like saying any of the following:

I don't believe in the concepts of laws because of law breakers.

I don't believe in Government authority because of corrupt politicians.

I don't believe in food because of gluttony and food poisoning.

I don't believe in money because of counterfeiting.

What does the existence of a hypocrite Christian have to do with the validity of Christianity's claims? What has happened to the idea of discernment? What has happened to the idea of examining a belief for its claim?

I see this problem in the political arena as well. Someone will make an argument that they are against a particular political idea because of the behavior of individuals who advocate such an idea.

For instance, the Tea Party says that they believe in smaller Government, yet someone will say that they reject this because there might be racists in their midst. I haven't seen the "smoking gun" evidence of this argument but even if it exists, the existence of such racists has nothing to do with one's belief in smaller or bigger Government for that matter.

Why do we confuse personality with ideas?

Is it not because we have bought into "perception is reality" and made ourselves to be gods as a result? The logic flows this way. If perception is reality, then I no longer need to examine truth in an objective world. Instead, whatever I believe is true, despite whether or not it corresponds with reality. So if my perception is that the world is flat, that is what people call "my truth". In such a world, I don't need to test my belief. It logically follows that I will "choose my own truth".

BTW, such a person would make a lousy scientist. The scientific method requires that we test all beliefs before holding them. Science is only acting upon truths that transcend its borders.

Perception is the only reality the non-discerning can ever know.

Isn't the ability to make truth into what we wish limited to someone who would have to have omnipotence? If so, then why do we act like WE are omnipotent in the face of pending death? In the end, we all die. Isn't this truth the ultimate reason to reject illusions of omnipotence?

Do you still believe that perception is reality? Then try living with a belief that you will NEVER die. But I warn you. In the end, life will slap your perception in the face. I attempt to warn you more gently.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On A Stranded Island Looking For Reason



It is impossible for a man to marry his widow's sister.

Imagine you have made this statement and are confronted with a dissenter. Now imagine your dissenter accuses you of being a bigot, cramming your "family values" down other people's throats instead of actually examining the substance of the quote.

I can't tell you how many times I've been in such arguments. Many times, I find that we bring our own stereotypes and prejudices to the table and react to style instead of examining substance. Why do people fail to examine substance? I see this as the death of reason.

I'm sadly coming to the conclusion that many people do not live by reason. As you can see by this blog, I'm a "why" person. I ask both of others and first of myself, "why do you believe in x?" I believe it takes boldness to ask such questions because the answer could take us to places beyond our comfort zones.

I've been in many, many debates with people and found that when I probed the "why" questions, it didn't take too long before I learned that the dissenter did not have a reason to hold to their position. In some cases, where I might have been successful at revealing this, I would have expected the dissenter to be open-minded enough to consider re-examining their beliefs. And thankfully sometimes this is the case. But more often then not, I have found that the dissenter will persist DESPITE a lack of reasoning for their position and will often accuse me of being defensive because I'm always coming up with reasons for my positions.

Before I proceed further, let me say that I am far from perfect and am wrong more times than I know or would even care to admit. Many times, I'm on the wrong end of the argument. But because I try to follow the truth no matter where it takes me, I have seen growth in my worldview as a result.

I also need to say that I do NOT believe that reason is the end-all, be-all of truth. I am convinced that we need reason coupled with sound presuppositions. At the core, all of our presuppositions are grounded in faith. And because faith is ultimately volitional, meaning that we believe what we want to believe, our hearts must be pure. A pure heart means that we must love the truth more than our pet beliefs or winning an argument. We must even love the truth over our comfort zones.

We don't see the world as it is. We see the world as we are. Anias Nin

With the above said, I am beginning to conclude that the death of reason is the death of communication ifself. When I am in a discussion with a dissenter and discover that they are not deterred if I am successful at exposing their lack of reason and when I see that they lack a curiosity to explore the reasons for my position, the only thing I have left to do is to smile and nod at them. This cuts off the communication. This is why I am suggesting that the death of reason is the death of communication. The death of dialogue is the death of community.
When we lack reason, we vanquish ourselves to islands, stranded from the coasts of truth.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Search for Intelligent Life Amongst Dissenting Voices

Often times, I am disappointed that people so easily dismiss opposing viewpoints as non-intelligent.

One of my favorite blogs (13.7), has an article that although is well-written, does this:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/11/04/131064192/lose-your-wimp-embrace-your-intellectual#more

This particular posting implies that one has to be a liberal to be intelligent. But I have also seen conservatives do the same thing. And in light of the latest political spin on the election, I think this topic is especially relevant.

The mistake often being made is that intelligence should be gauged based upon the logical coherence of the conclusions of an argument to presuppositions.

For instance, conservatives generally hold to the presupposition that man should be held accountable to his actions. The religious conservative will usually hold presuppositions that man is "bent" towards selfishness and greed (the idea of "original sin").

As a result Conservatives logically conclude that man's actions aren't excused because of a poor upbringing and social environment. Therefore Conservatives are more likely to support imprisonment and even the death penalty over rehabilitation.

BTW, I know Christians are usually lumped into the right, however I believe that a true grace walking Christian will be a stronger advocate of rehabilitation. I always say, "I'm as conservative as the Word of God and as liberal as the love of God."

Where it gets difficult is that the philosophical presuppositions that give us political, philosophical and religious worldviews aren't usually empirically verifiable. I think religion does the best job of recognizing this by calling it faith. But is it not also faith to ultimately believe that man's ultimate longing is for freedom (Neo-conservative presuppositions) or that man is primarily a product of his environment (liberalism)? I'd love to see equal recognition that these presuppositions are held in faith in politics and philosophy. Even science has this problem. Just look at its speculations on the multiverse theory or even its dogma on the origins of life. The origins issue is a unique event that occurred once. It can't be ultimately tested in a laboratory and repeated. This is a demand of empiricism.

The bottom line is that I have met intelligent and stupid people on both sides of the philosophical and political spectrums. It is closed-minded dogma to dismiss people as non-intelligent simply because they disagree with my worldview.

If a person has consistent reason connecting their presuppositions with their conclusions, we can at least say that they are intelligent. This doesn't make them right or wrong, only logical. BTW, truth does exclude arguments that are logically inconsistent.

Beyond logical consistency, we get into the biases that often shape the faith that undermines our presuppositions. At that point, we are in the territories of volition, the visceral and the heart. This is why it is said, "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth."

Sometimes we believe in our presuppositions because they make us feel comfortable and secure or are otherwise to our advantage. We must have the courage to believe the truth no matter where it leads and the love of it to pursue it at all costs. Since loving an "it" is ultimately impossible (a misuse of the overused word "love"), does it not make sense that a loving God is ultimately the truth we seek?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dangers In Under-communicating


One could argue that I over-communicate. But Eugene Robinson’s article is why:


I’m politically an independent and not interested in pushing my political views on this blog, so please listen to me with an open mind, regardless of your political persuasion.

If you go to the Tea Party’s web site (http://www.teapartypatriots.org/Mission.aspx), you will see that it stands for the following issues:

  • ·         Fiscal Responsibility
  • ·         Constitutionally Limited Government
  • ·         Free Markets 

As anyone can see, these three line items have absolutely NOTHING to do with racism. So why does Mr. Robinson connect the Tea Party with racism?

When the Tea Party makes statements like “we want to take back America” and “we want to return America to the American people”, he speculates that the Tea Party wants to take back America from minorities or return it to a pre-civil rights era.

So if a party legitimately believed in these three bullet points and had NO racial prejudices, how could they communicate these views without getting distracted by the allegations of discrimination?

Let’s put aside those who will shout “racism” and “bigotry” just to muddy the waters and advance their agendas. Those folks are beyond reasoning. Addressing them is like what Jesus called “casting your pearls before swine”.

But what about legitimate misunderstandings like Mr. Robinson’s? I believe that the Tea Party is mis-communicating by under-communicating. If I were a Tea Party member, I’d say something like, “We want to take back America from the big Government politicians.” I’d even communicate disclaimers like, “Belief in a smaller, more responsible, accountable and limited Government, is Constitutional. It is a belief that all of us, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc., can believe in.”

But such communication is virtually “footnoted” and footnotes can be laborious to read. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Open Mind, Open World

I'm a musician. And unlike most musicians that I've met, I'm very "geeky" about what is "under the hood" of music in terms of music theory and analysis.

As a result, I tend to get bored with your average commercial music. The only mainstream music I listen to is Contemporary Christian. I seem to be able to look past the musical limitations probably because of the message and the fact that I can listen to it in worship to God.

But music that obsesses me almost always has a very technical side to it. Usually, it is technical combined with melodicism. I see such music as holistic, meaning that it is both propositional (music theory) and visceral (melodic). But sometimes, I'm simply listening to jazz fusion and loving it.

People who don't understand it call it "wierd" but I see them as being like people who watch a 3-D movie without 3-D glasses. It looks strange to them because they lack something very valuable.


Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out. But at the same time, open it enough to not simply dismiss things that you don't like or understand. Sometimes what we call wierd, is really amazing. Sometimes our derogatory labels, say more about our ignorance than they do about the objects of our criticisms.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Free to Not Have All the Answers

Looking at John 4, when Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman, I am struck by how Jesus didn’t take the simplest and most direct path in communicating to her.

While the whole chapter could have been greatly abbreviated by Him meeting her and simply telling her something like “I am the Messiah and here’s the proof. I know that you have had 5 husbands…”, instead He takes a more ambiguous path.

He starts out asking her for a drink of water. He then claims He can offer her “living water”. This is an ambiguous statement, proven by her following questions. This pattern continues. He keeps saying things to her that are less than direct. He purposefully says things to make her ask questions. He is inspiring her her think.

Where is God when we suffer? Where is God when we are in the valley? Where is He when we are on the mountain top? He reveals enough of Himself for us to ask the questions and to think but not enough to prevent us from seeking and knocking.

“Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you” – Matthew 7:7

We seem to complain when presented with the closed doors and the open questions. But without them, we can neither seek or ask.

When we present Christ to the world, we often try to open the doors for them, giving them answers instead of questions.

But in John 4, we see just one of many, many examples found all over Scripture (look at God’s answer to Job in the whirlwind) where God doesn’t give us answers but questions. He presents closed doors so that we’ll have something to open.

If you’ve ever played hide n seek, you know that you spoil the game to have the seeker close their eyes and count to 100, only to open them and find you standing in front of them.

When a baby bird is born, it has to use its beak to peck away at the egg. The temptation for a compassionate human observer is to help it break away the egg. However, if we were to do such a thing, it would die. It builds up its strength by pecking away at the egg.

To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in
stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in
such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.
Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard
As Stanley Hauerwas writes,

What is crucial is not that Christians know the truth, but that they be the truth.
That truth is a living mystery, inspiring people to think, loving them to soften their hearts. We are free not to always have the answers but to be the question.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Death By Contentment

I've seen it too many times.... a musician who has been playing for many years who has not grown beyond the skill level of a beginner. What happens to cause this?

Many times as the person is learning their instrument, they get to a point where they can play some songs and become content.... TOO content. Furthermore, they lack the curiosity and creativity to "question their instrument". For instance, on a guitar, they don't think to ask, "What if I were to tune the guitar to an alternative tuning and learn to play it?" or "What if I learned a new scale shape a month?", etc...

The benefits of contentment are obvious. But these are its detriments. Beyond them, notice the lack of questioning that comes from it. Has life itself dulled you into such a sense that you are content with your perceptions of the world? Or do you have a natural curiosity that comes from a sense of awe and wonder, coupled with the humility to realize that because of human frailty, you must always question at least yourself?

Such questioning not only makes for a great musician, but for a great human being. Don't be content with the answers. They are often times disguised questions waiting to be discovered by someone not content with anything less than the depth of truth.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Truth Without A Christ Context

LeRon Shults, former professor of theology at Bethel Theological Seminary, wrote:

From a theological perspective, this fixation with propositions can easily lead to the attempt to use the finite tool of language on an absolute Presence that transcends and embraces all finite reality. Languages are culturally constructed symbol systems that enable humans to communicate by designating one finite reality in distinction from another. The truly infinite God of Christian faith is beyond all our linguistic grasping, as all the great theologians from Irenaeus to Calvin have insisted, and so the struggle to capture God in our finite propositional structures is nothing short of linguistic idolatry.

This is a fantastic thought but woefully incomplete. This is truth without the context of Christ. Yes, Christianity (and all the major monotheistic religions) confirm that God is infinite and beyond description. However, if an infinite God wants to communicate to a finite being, He will limit Himself in that revelation.

When a parent speaks to a child, do they use their "native" adult language? Maybe that parent holds a doctorate degree. Do they use high-brow academic language when speaking to their toddler? Aren’t family physicians taught to limit their technical jargon when communicating to their patients?

Christianity says that the infinite God has revealed Himself in a finite way. This is profound when you consider that this finite way was in the physical form of Jesus Christ.

Christ is the ultimate set of propositions. The Scriptures literally call Him “The Word”. The very statement “There are no absolutes.” is an absolute statement.

With the above said, let me also write against the other extreme. God cannot and should not be reduced only to a set of propositions. The scriptures describe this “Word” as living, walking, breathing, talking, dying and resurrecting. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and loved all. Unlike other gods who claim to love us, He proved it by giving His life, something your average god can’t do.

BTW, this answers the age-old philosophical question, “Can God create a rock that He can’t lift?” Yes He can and He did. He is infinite so He CAN limit Himself. He HAS limited Himself so that we can know Him. We cannot know the infinite. This doesn't mean He is limited in ability, only in presentation to us.

In other words this God who is infinite in ability, has limited His will. The Godliest thing we can do is to do the same. THIS is why belief in the Christian God is tied to morality, character and integrity.

But people that reduce God to just black and white, tend to be dogmatic out of what appears to me to be a sense of insecurity. I think they are insecure with NOT knowing. This is antithetical to the idea of faith.

Faith is a moderation of belief. It is to believe something enough to not be a persistent, consistent skeptic but to doubt it enough to not be dogmatic. Anything else is extremism of belief. At least that’s what I believe, but I can’t be for sure.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The What of Science, the Why of Religion



http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/09/08/129723362/god-and-no-god-mongering-a-new-cycle-of-science-vs-religion-begins-anew#more says the following:

Garner in fact quotes Ferris along these lines. Following his God-mongering comment, Ferris writes: "Cosmology has more than enough to do trying to figure out how the universe works without also flattering itself that it is going to tell us why. Religious systems are inherently conservative, science inherently progressive… [It doesn’t] seem likely or even desirable to imagine that they are headed for some sort of rapprochement. This may be an instance where good walls make good neighbors.”


In other words, science is best equipped to answer the questions of “what?” and “how?” while religion is best equipped to address the question of “why?”. This is why science has virtually nothing to say about our morality, yet religion has tons to say there. Morality is tied to purpose. Purpose is tied to a purpose maker. The million dollar question is whether or not that purpose maker is a transcendent God or left to each individual.

This is why I laugh at the atheist who says they reject belief in God because of some transcendent moral code. The more they affirm such a transcendent moral code, the more they affirm God’s very existence. To say that it is wrong for an innocent little baby to suffer in a world where there is no God, is equivalent to saying that the Government doesn’t exist but failing your taxes is still against the law.

There IS a reason why it is wrong for an innocent little baby to suffer. Life has a purpose. That purpose is not yours or mine.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Power of Persuasion


There are many ways to fall but only one way to stand. The road that leads to faith can be traveled via a crutch, via wishful thinking and projection, convenience and mindless traditionalism, or by thoughtful submission.

If faith is not achieved through thoughtful submission, WE become gods, creating truth based upon our desires and convenience, or out of an unexamined set of "creature comfort" habits.

To arrive at faith through thoughtful submission requires that one love truth more than one's convenience, comfort or desires. That is the "submission" component.

For such a submission to be thoughtful, requires a search for truth itself. If you believe you have found such truths, you can help others do the same only through persuasion.

It might be a cliche but I often say that cliches are repeated because they are true and ignored because they are repeated:

People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

You'll never have someone's heart or mind until you have their respect. You'll never have their respect until you give them the same. Such respect doesn't mean that you have to agree with them. It simply means that you show that you care for them as opposed to caring for winning an argument and nurturing your pride.

This brings me to the latest controversy regarding the burning of the Koran. Burning another religion's holy book does NOTHING to persuade. If Rev Terry Jones were to have gone through with such a thing, does he really believe that even ONE Muslim will in sackloth and ashes be convinced of the teachings of Christ as Lord of all? Can Mr. Jones point to even ONE example from his Christian faith or from secular history where an offensive act has acted as a persuasive one and changed the hearts and minds of the offended?

But you might ask, didn't Jesus offend the religious leaders of His day in similar acts when he took a whip into the Temple and drove away all the money changers? Didn't Jesus do a similar thing when He called the religious leaders of His day "vipers" and "broods of "snakes", et al?

The key to understanding Jesus' repudiation of the religious leaders of His day comes in His motivation to point out hypocrisy. He constantly pointed out the logical inconsistencies of the religious leaders of His day as they claimed to follow the law of God yet failed to love their neighbors as themselves or love God with all their hearts and minds.

If offenses should come, Christ followers should be offending religious attitudes held by people like Mr. Jones. I hope to make a small contribution there with this post.

If Mr. Jones follows this same Christ, the Christ who taught that it was better to give than to receive, better to love than to hate, better to lose one's life than to try and save it, is He reflecting Christ by merely inciting anger and hate with those in whom he disagrees?

Did Christ call me or Rev Terry Jones to burn books or to set hearts ablaze?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Taste of Goodness In The Pursuit Of Truth


In my last post, I wrote about the limitations of logic. Both Stephen Hawking and James Lee were extremely logical in forming their worldviews which also share many similarities.

In past posts, I have referenced Ravi Zacharias's criteria for truth. Truth must be:
1. Logically consistent
2. Empirically adequate
3. Existentially relevant

I have had the hardest time getting my mind around #3. But things have gotten clearer lately, so I'd like to share these thoughts.

It seems to me that it might be easier for we human beings to test for health than truth. When I say "health", I am referring to our very being. One might say "good" rather than health but because I am only talking about good relative to us (does a belief equip me to be a better person in some way), I prefer the word "health".

In my last article, when I spoke of the paranoid person being just as logical as the healthy person, I demonstrated how paranoia can be logically justified. The presence or absence of logic is no savior in in clearing the muddy waters here. However, the paranoid person can become so restrained as to no longer live a healthy life.

I am seeing this in a close family member of mine. His paranoia prevents him from being able to work. He would LOVE to have a job but he can't be around crowds nor can he be around a blaring radio or t.v. He can't function like a healthy human being. But his paranoia is far from being irrational. But I believe that the truth sets us free. As a result, it brings what we might call health. The truth equips us and makes us better people.

THIS is why I'm not an atheist. Atheism, when followed consistently, means that there is no transcendent purpose maker in life. It means that I define purpose and that purpose only applies to me. I can change that purpose whenever I want to whatever I want. I become my personal god.

But I am a lousy god. We ALL are. Tiger Woods was god of his life when his supermodel wife wasn't good enough for him and he expanded his horizons. James Lee was a lousy god when he decided that the best way he could get the message out about his worldview was to change the programming of the Discovery channel. Most of us write letters. He decided to strap bombs on his person and use a gun. Lyndsey Lohan is a lousy god to herself, offering her an escape from pain through booze rather than true healing.

I could go on and on with the examples, but the point is not to throw rocks. My message is simple. DON'T simply follow your heart. DON'T simply trust yourself.

I believe in Psalm 37:4 which says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." At first glance, this appears to paint God as a divine waiter. But reverence for God doesn't allow such an interpretation. Reverence directs me to this interpretation. God is saying that as we delight in Him, He will be the SOURCE of our desires. All of a sudden, as I submit my life to Him, I start wanting what HE wants for my life. THEN, I can follow my heart because it has submitted to Him.

Can you test this worldview to be true? No, but you CAN test it to be healthy. You can test it to determine whether or not it works. You can test whether or not it is good.

"Taste and see that the lord is good" - Psalm 34:8

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Insanity of Logic Estranged from God


Stephen Hawking has announced that that God is no longer necessary in order to start the Big Bang:
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/09/02/stephen-hawking-picks-physics-god-big-bang/

He also is warning us to abandon the earth or face possible extinction:
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/09/02/stephen-hawking-picks-physics-god-big-bang/

The latter, resonates with what the the recent Discovery Channel bomber James Lee was saying. James Lee, influenced by Daniel Quinn's series of books and Al Gore, believed that humanity was "filthy", that the earth would be better off without us, and that we faced extinction if we didn't stop global warming. He believed we needed to stem the population growth by no longer having children:

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/09/02/stephen-hawking-picks-physics-god-big-bang/

Before I go any further, let me be unequivocal in saying that I do NOT for a moment place Mr. Hawking in the same category as Lee in terms of a proclivity towards violence.

But both of these men share dire predictions, building their reasoning upon humanistic, naturalistic presuppositions.

I would actually agree with their conclusions that if the world is merely a product of naturalistic random processes, independent of God, then we are doomed unless we can take extreme actions.

One can be logical but be wrong. Logic is as only as truthful as its presuppositions. Both a young-earth creationist and an evolutionist can look at the same Grand Canyon but logically come to different conclusions based upon different presuppositions. The evolutionist will claim, a lot of time and a little water formed the Canyon. The young-earth creationist will claim that a lot of water (Noah's Flood) and a little time formed it.

Positivism is a philosophy that says that science can NOT say what is ultimately true. It can only correlate observations. In other words, it can only connect the dots.

The task of science is not to find out what nature is, but only what we can say about it.

Science can ask what and how. This line of questioning is authenticated by technology. Science can not answer "why". This is the domain of religion. When one asks "why", one is inherently asking about purpose and purpose is ALWAYS tied to someone's will. "Why" is therefore tied to "who". For the atheist, "who" is us. It is me and you. For the person of faith, this "who" is outside of ourselves. "Who" is God.

It is funny for me to watch atheists and agnostics moralize, asking questions along the lines of, "If there is a God, why does evil exist?" as if they can justify a logical definition of good and evil outside of God's very own existence. If God doesn't exist, why can't I eat pork or abort a baby in the womb? Because YOU say so? Or because the law might say so?

As C.S. Lewis learned when he was an atheist, for him to say the world was broken assumed that he had a reference point (the idea of good). But where did this reference point come from? A fish doesn't complain about being wet. It doesn't even know it is wet because all it has known is water.

"If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it that you don't feel at home there?" --Encounter with Light

I greatly respect Mr. Hawking and have learned a lot from him. My respect comes from the fact that he is extremely gifted in his use of logic. But logic alone will cause one to go insane (ala Mr. Lee). As G.K. Chesterton pointed out in his classic book "Orthodoxy", the paranoid person is also logical.

They believe everyone is out to get them. When you tell them that is not true, they say, "Well of course you'd say that. You're out to get me. You would say that." Reasoning can not penetrate such thinking. Logic has limits. Its limits are in the realm of faith.

For more information, check out:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/08/18/129289331/can-science-explain-creation
http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/08/27/129471676/my-covenant-with-mystery

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/chesterton/orthodoxy.html

Also, check out my favorite blog 13.7's post on Hawking and God:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/09/08/129736414/hawking-and-god-an-intimate-relationship#more

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Truth We Dare Not See



This 18 year old girl had her nose cut off by the Taliban. We live in a world where bad things happen to good people. This picture is one of the greatest proofs that you and I can't choose truth based upon what we like, or what makes us feel comfortable.

So often, I write in this blog about how we are afraid to look at truth. But I believe that it is healthy for us to look at these things. The truth will set you free. This is why I believe in eternal damnation. It is NOT because I like the doctrine of hell. The fact that I hate this doctrine proves that I am not projecting or engaged in wishful thinking. To reject a belief because it is unpleasant would be equivalent to rejecting the existence of death itself. But it is wise to write a will and to buy life insurance.

The truth will set you free, if only we dare to see.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Great Storm, A Greater Message


I'm concerned about the state of my country and the broader world. These observations will not be constrained by the political ramblings of those who hold strong party loyalties. If my politics is coherent with my philosophy, it too will be about seeing the bigger picture that transcends Republocrat and Democan.

911 changed everything. Osama Bin Laden targetted the world trade center because it was a symbol of America's economic strength. That economic strength is a key to our military strength. That military strength is a threat to Bin Laden's worldview. Bin Laden is an enemy of Israel. I believe Israel's strength has been given to it by God. But He has used the U.S. in the process.

9 years later and look at our economy today. We have record unemployment and seemingly no end to this recession. Those in political power today believe we can spend our way out of such woes believing that economic growth starts from the top down. They bailed out financial institutions saying they were "too big to fail", took over a controlling interest in GM and nationalized our health care.

The other side of the political fence spent money on war. In Afghanistan, I ask whether or not we have a clear definition of victory. Do we have a clear achievable objective? I'm not so sure... In Iraq, we toppled Saddam, but inadvertently strengthened Iran as a result as we upset the balance of power in that region. Now Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear nation with a tyrant in control who has visions of bringing about the next Islamic Imam through an apocalypse with Israel, "the little Satan", in his sights.

Back at home, our defecit is on target to match our national debt in a few years. China is funding our overspending by buying t-bills. "He who has the gold, makes the rules." The only way we can continue our massive spending on bailouts and two wars is to borrow from them.

Our nation's leaders, just as dependent upon financing, are beholden to corporate lobbyists that influence them to support policies that gut our middle-class by outsourcing their jobs overseas. Yes, we get great prices by buying imports at Wal-Mart and Target that were made in China, but look at how this has impacted our employment numbers.

Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae and the like collapsed in part because our nation's leaders relaxed regulations saying everyone should have a right to own a house. But when you add to the outsourcing of jobs overseas, you can see how many people who once worked in blue-collar jobs in auto manufacturing, or even in white collar high-tech, lost their jobs and could no longer pay those mortgages.

Pretty depressing eh? Why do I write such things? I am a Christian. Post 911, Every weekend I have walked through the doors of churches and NOT heard a hint of these things. Yes, I've seen the effect of these things as I've watched brothers and sisters lose jobs and struggle. But week after week, I've only heard messages while important and valuable, are mostly insular. Those messages have been on how to become better people in the form of internal Spiritual transformation.

Don't get what I'm about to say out of context. I believe that the root of the problems that I have described is due to the church's lack of ability in being a powerful influence in the field of debate. We have failed to transform our culture's worldview. The path that I have described is a logical path of a secularist, humanist culture clashing with religious extremists (the terrorists).

Spiritual transformation is at the root of the problem. That transformation will only come about as Christians first BE the change that we preach, and secondly communicate that message. We have failed to be an effective influence. Many times, we are saying the right things in the wrong way. Space does not permit me to expound here but I've went this direction in other blog posts.

With the above said, my concern is this. When the storm that is brewing comes, who will buy into the church's credibility? If we have been only talking about how to be better people, but have been silent in warning the flock and non-believers when they lend an ear, aren't we rendering ourselves to being irrelevant and undiscerning?

How can I trust Christians in shining light on my soul's spiritual path, if they can't even demonstrate such wisdom on national and world issues right in front of our noses?

I'm laying out the warning now so that I don't fall into the same pit. I don't have a crystal ball and I hope I'm wrong. But get your house in order. Save your money now. Buy gold as a safer currency. And most importantly pray, pray, pray. Build your house upon the rock so that when the storm comes, it will stand.

When the greater storm comes, perhaps the wisdom and foresight that you'll see in this post will grant me the authority and credibility for you to lend me your ear in hearing the greater message that I have been speaking in this blog and in my life.

For more information and greater detail from a brilliant economist, check out Paul Craig Roberts' article: http://www.infowars.com/the-ecstasy-of-empire/

Despite, his rants against Israel, he has an enlightening perspective.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Avoiding Meaning


I walked into a popular Mexican food chain today and ordered a burrito. This is one of those places that customizes the toppings in front of you according to your direction. When I asked for onions, they almost acted like I was from Mars! You would have thought that NO ONE EVER puts onions on a burrito but me. I know this chain's competitor does....

I feel like this when I ask the simple question "why?". I feel like people treat me like I'm from Mars. It often seems as if I'm asking a question that is not obvious to most people but VERY, VERY obvious to me.

I wonder if the "why" question is obvious to everyone, but is the "pink elephant" in the room that everyone knows to ignore, but I never received that memo. Here it comes.... "why?" Perhaps we are afraid of meaning. Sure it could give us a fulfilling life but meaning means purpose and purpose always involves someone's will. Volition means being and we don't want to face the only being that could possibly give life transcendent meaning.

Why does the pink elephant look like God?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Remembering for the wrong reasons


The great thing about traditionalism is that it has a good memory. The bad thing about it is that it remembers the wrong things. It has forgotten why it should remember in the first place.

Why? Well that is the problem... It doesn't ask the question "why"?

It seems that many people throw out their brains for denial purposes. I think the dominant mindset says something like, "If I think, I'll find that my faith is not true and have to face the idea that it is just my crutch."

With that said, I think this is an ill-formed opinion. Reason necessitates its own limitations. It is reason that says that the earth doesn't revolve around me, i.e., their are truths that exist outside of my ability to know them. To believe in such things would therefore require faith. But such faith can be informed.

For instance, we believe that the universe is expanding not because we can directly see it expanding, but rather because we can see a red doppler shift in the light spectrum of the cosmos. And just because we can't even begin to imagine what it is expanding into, or what is beyond space, doesn't mean that we can't believe in the expansion.

"He alone stretches out the heavens..." - Job 9:8

Traditionalist Christians have (and still do among many Catholics) conducted their worship entirely in a dead Latin language that died with the Roman empire. Why? If they even ask this question, how can they come up with any other answer except, "because that's what we've ALWAYS done."

"An unexamined life is not worth living" - Socrates

Question your traditions. If they have outlived their purposes, why not throw them out? This is not a repudiation of traditionalism. On the contrary, traditionalism tied to purpose, is to be lauded.

"Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. " - George Santayana

Traditionalism tied to purpose says, "Remember, so we don't repeat the same mistakes our others before us have."

THAT is why we remember. THAT is the purpose of traditionalism.

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead." - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Torchdown Jesus





I've come to the realization over the last few years that I am more embarassed by some of my fellow Christians than I am of Christ. The "Touchdown Jesus" statue's recent demise is just another example.

I'm sure that the church that erected it had the intention of using it as a sign to point people to Christ. But this is the problem with many of my Christian brothers and sisters. They are trying to give the world simple answers to complex problems. Speaking in baby-talk to adults, they will sport bumperstickers that read, "Jesus Saves", while the non-christian is scratching their heads wondering what they need saved from. Another popular bumpersticker reads, "Jesus Is the Answer", while the non-believer might be asking, "What is the question?" "Lord save us from your followers" is a more aptly written bumpersticker.

Most non-christians who passed the giant Jesus statue on I-75 have deeper issues that keep them from coming to Christ. Those issues are much deeper than simply seeing a giant statue. They need to be engaged by Christ followers who demonstrate God's love through acts of kindness and whose lives well lived, demonstrate they have found the real answers to life's deepest questions. In many cases, non-believers don't even know the questions they should be asking. They need believers lives to be the questions they should be asking. They aren't ready for answers personified on the highway to questions they haven't yet asked.

To my Christian brothers and sisters who doubt me, I ask. Why has God hung this whole thing on the ambiguity of faith? He could have given a witness clearer and more explicit than a giant Jesus statue. Have you not noticed the paradox of the Gospel? Examples of these paradoxes include, "If you want to lead, you must serve" and "if you want to receive, give."

This pattern of paradox is reverberated by St. Francis of Assisi, "Go forth and preach the Gospel and if you must use words."

The depths of the truth that God has given us are too great to be expressed in a giant statue. Don't give the world answers. Give them questions. Make them think with an honest heart.

If you want to teach, first learn. If you want to point the way, first walk the way. If you want to make a difference, first be a difference. If you want to show people answers, be the questions. Is THIS not why God is pleased by faith instead of certainty?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Messages in the Experiential



Atheist's often embrace death as something to be accepted as natural and normal.

But what does the above picture say to you existentially? In other words, how does the image of death make you feel?

Not exactly feeling warm and fuzzy? Why is such a negative visceral reaction so natural and normal?

Contrasted with the end of life, what about the natural and normal responses we experience looking at the start of life?



Is it insane to act like these feelings don't exist when we look at the end of life while hypocritically embracing them when looking at the beginning of life?

I would be the first to stand up and say that a life lived only by feelings is a life lived in folly and will be cut off prematurely. But should these feelings totally be ignored?

Could it be that the feelings we experience looking at these things are signposts? If so, how can we reconcile the sign of a newborn's birth telling us to celebrate a life that inevitably ends in death?

It is enough to make one insane. Insanity is the height of brokenness. But perhaps instead of letting this dissonance break us, we can let it break the world. The world is indeed broken. By recognizing this, I can rise above the cocophany of dissonance and look for what ought to have been.

But one cannot acknowledge what should have been without presuming upon the idea of purpose. And purpose always has a purpose maker.

These Greek pillars are beautiful works of art. We couldn't also call them ruins unless we knew that their original purpose was to support a coliseum.



Don't ignore the questions of purpose. They are the most important questions of life, illuminating our understanding and pointing to a greater purpose maker.