Sunday, November 29, 2009

...And the soldier asked, "What's a prudent evangelist?"

I would rather my descendants have greater abilities and a greater knowledge of the love of Christ than I do, much like standing on one's shoulders in order to get a clearer view of the valley. How can one do this?

1 Corinthians 13:1-2: "I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains but if I have no love, I am nothing."

Sometimes the problem is not so much what one is preaching, but rather how he is preaching it.

When a man has a gift in speaking the truth, brute aggression is no longer his security blanket for approval. He, on the contrary, spends most of his energy trying to tone it down because his very nature is already offensive enough. So, should there not be a balance between the drill sergeant and the amiable teacher? In this context, I want to focus on the former. When the drill sergeant-like approach becomes customary to a congregation, the congregation, over time, grows insensitive to the coming wrath thus potentially raising the bar for truly fearing God and understanding what it means to fear God. In result, individuals are negatively affected because, out of cynicism, it will then take a deeper effort to instill a true passion for Christ and the purity in which he stands. Of what benefit is there when, seemingly, apathy is shown from the teacher towards the sincere troubles of each individual's heart?

Colossians 4:3-6: "And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Time and time again the evangelist must stop and ask himself, "Whose judgment is superior, God's or my own?" The legalistic evangelist will intuitively evangelize on his own watch, whether inadvertently or intentionally, rather than on God's watch. Any truth, when passing through the hands of man, can be transformed into an entrapping lecture apart from, in this case, the beauty of Christ, and such a displacement can leave falsehoods to be purged by the mercy of God. When communicating with rebellious men, do not all things have a more effective time, place, and method in which to be communicated? Indeed it is essential that Christ is being taught regardless of incentive (Philippians 1:18), but because God finds great pleasure in observing the growth of his messengers, why should any evangelist remain merely a heckler to the public who mutilates by legalistically professing the Christian ethic? Alternatively, upon desiring growth in Christ, many are prophets who mutilate the coarse patterns of both oneself and a fallen humanity by use of the Christian faith.

There is a difference between evangelism motivated by legalism and evangelism motivated by faith in Christ, and I feel that the distinction is repeatedly ignored. The legalistic method is one in which the evangelist shares his faith through feelings of obligation or as an act of charity, whereas the prudent evangelist shares his faith to appointed individuals under the influence of the Spirit. Just as God sees the individual, his followers must strive to do so as well. Kierkegaard said, "Spiritual superiority only sees the individual. But alas, ordinarily we human beings are sensual and, therefore, as soon as it is a gathering, the impression changes -- we see something abstract, the crowd, and we become different. But in the eyes of God, the infinite spirit, all the millions that have lived and now live do not make a crowd, he only sees each individual."

I do understand that this can be misinterpreted as a position irrespective of the belief in sharing the Gospel by some (thus "trying to shut believers up"). Oppositely, the acknowledgment of the concept of effective timing by adjusting one's focus on the ingenious patience of God is the only sure and profitable position. Yielding to God's judgment is certainly not an act of compromise to man; instead, it is the greatest form of wisdom. This is so because there are natural tendencies of impatience undeniably instilled in most prideful humans during a fast-paced era - quite often must one feel pre-eminently in the right of each and every moment. Whereas, God has been sustaining rebellious men for millennia, therefore he is very much aware of one's potential reactions towards the ultimate truth during any given situation and time of day. The truth without the harmony of God is not a truth fully manifested, it is frightening words from a reckless man's mouth, as radical skepticism, out of pride, hates and fears the possibility that it is not in absolute control of its own eternity. Rather, it surrenders to the works and securities of its own hands (Isaiah 2:8). The Holy Spirit must be present in order to overcome such a nature. Therefore I do not much trust the man who cares solely to inspire - he does not really inspire me - only the man who cares to tell the truth, whatever that may do. For when the man who cares to tell the truth happens to inspire, I, in addition, find it easier to believe that he in fact does his homework on how and when one should truly inspire (e.g. by way of the Spirit).

Concerning the subject of a virtuous faith, it is easy to concur with Diogenes, "Discourse on virtue and they pass by in droves. Whistle and dance the shimmy, and you've got an audience." Regardless, if an individual is indeed led to further seek the will of God, should a mission ever end at its very beginning? Realistically The Sinner's Prayer is no secret code to those during the age of information. Throughout much of humanity, the value of repentance has been reduced to an unsubstantiated ritual. I call this way of repentance lip service - it is made religiously provisional in substitution of a lasting and humble passion for Christ. Yet what is merely lukewarm, according to scripture, will be spit from the mouth of God (Revelation 3:16). One must remember that discipleship is both guidance and friendship, therefore the nurturing of the individual is essential to any new-found walk with Christ.

What is a prudent prophet? In my lifetime and throughout history, there have been several, what some might call, "end of the world date-setters" that have dedicated not only their own lives but also the lives of others to spreading news of world-devastating calamity or rapture both nationally and internationally. As expected, much of the world becomes intrigued, whether comically or sincerely, by the matter - some Christians are convinced, others skeptical; some atheists mock, others simply ignore the prophecies in sheer disbelief - and as evident in my ability to write this, as the world continues beyond every date that has been set thus far, all of the prophecies were indeed false.

Why is this? False prophecies come from men who believe that faith is nothing more than a stubborn emotion felt in the heart - the equivalent of wishful thinking. On the contrary, doubt is a question mark; faith is an exclamation point. The most compelling, believable, realistic stories have included them both. Doubt asks, "Is it possible for me to have too much faith, to the point of being just plain foolish and impractical, or is it evil trying to convince me so?" Then the answer, resting in the motive and the source of his faith, catches him either off-guard or when the time is right. That is suspense. The false prophet prophesies according to his own understanding, his own calculations, his own interpretations, and in this, he is opposing the will of God. A prophet will be false in his every prediction when his judgment is empowered by mere faith in himself, or other sources, rather than by faith in God. Matthew 24:36 says, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." It is ironical that by this we know it will not be the end of the world as long as man disobediently attempts to calculate the end of the world. God's commands are very much necessary and based upon reason: Prophets proven to be blatantly wrong are merely humoring skepticism pertaining to the existence of God. The destruction caused seems to be far worse than the earthquakes prophesied, and strangely enough, the aggravation caused by the prophet is the very thing wrongfully fulfilling his own prophecies of destruction.

All in all we are called to further seek the will of God before claiming the will of God. But thankfully, as C.S. Lewis once stated, "A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." I believe the same concept applies to the failures of evangelists and prophets. God still possesses the sovereignty and the knowledge to reverse a man's mistakes for his own glorification. His work is magnified when repairing the destruction afflicted by men, however, it is not always so easily comprehensible, according to our own understanding, the many ways in which he does this. At times, an individual may react disdainfully towards the truth of Christ, yet when the Spirit wills it, the planted seed grows when the time is right. An individual may mock and ridicule theism after witnessing a failed prophecy, yet he still does it with an unadmitted interest in the actual truth value of the overall belief system he mocks. God's relationship with man does not work in a way in which man stumbles and then God has to drop what he is doing in order to lift him up; rather, man stumbles so that God can lift him up. Hence it is utterly impossible to truly diminish his glory.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The "Devil's Advocate" That Glorified God

At the start of one of his "Does God Exist?" debates, Dr. William Lane Craig stated [roughly quoted], "First off, I want to say that we need not spend all our time and energy arguing for (or about) God, but rather enjoying our relationship with him."

My purpose for beginning with Dr. Craig's words is to remind the apologist to prioritize his personal relationship with Christ first and foremost. Yet I do understand that this is a way in which many theistic philosophers continue to experience God - one discourses on virtue in order to stimulate the minds of individuals of all ideologies and not only that of the highly insurgent skeptic. It is not to convince or to persuade, but instead it is to encourage men to search willfully
and extensively under the law of God. However, a number of activist non-believers radically censure supernatural-related doctrines; one can merely approach him with such and he builds reason for a more intense disdain. In what ways should this be conversed, with civility, in order to effectively reach out to the self-proclaimed intellectuals of the new age (e.g. radically anti-theistic iconoclasts, skeptic philosophers, humanistic scientists, etc.)? I must note that this question by no means implies compromising the nature or the law of God in order to "persuade" skeptics - the theist should understand the great distinction between "compromising the truth" and "tonality and the truth". Moreover, consistently does one expound under both logically and scientifically strong convictions for skeptic ideologies, hence those constantly active among these fields must remember that even the sun shines into cesspools and is not polluted [Diogenes].
Secondly, it must be noted that one's stressing over such is futile. A message of encouragement regarding patience and the steady effort of diligence can be found in Proverbs 25:15, which says, "Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone." Patience is a commonly forgotten gift, often replaced by recklessness and ungodliness, and the reason for this is because God is patient.

Controversies regarding the vitalities of non-essential doctrine, cultural immoralities, and taboos, and their precedences to salvation, are ongoing within the theistic community. While these should never cease acknowledgment, are they not held, in negligence, as diversions from one's active realization of the authority of Christ? Intellectuals of modern skepticism begin with disfigured premises regarding God's cause due to the case that so many of his earthly representatives misrepresent his great cause. Truly, reason is a larg
e cut of what directs one to a reasonable God apart from the uncultivated mentality - one in which is driven by fear of philosophies and scientific data. Ironically, would not the creator be both the paramount definition of knowledge and the source of logic? Lasting is the irrational conflict between men of science and men of faith, yet there is an analogy by Robert Jastrow that nails the primary difference between the two: Men of science hike the mountain 'round and 'round in search of truth. This will inevitably lead back to the Author of truth. Eventually, upon nearing the top, they will realize that men of faith have been standing there for centuries.

Yet it is axiomatic that there are different callings for Christians in correspondence with personal strengths and weaknesses, just as a military has different tasks for soldiers. A number of individuals will appear to be devil's advocates as interpreted by the self-governed conscience of man. Constructive accountability of the philosophical and social areas of Christianity and its truth wholly for the glorification of God has lamentably become a repulsive role to a number of modern fundamentalists. Beware: open-mindedness will often say, "Everything is permissible except a sharp opinion." Would it not be of great exigency to support faithful men who productively challenge the ethos of modern Christianity for the manifestation of its true, essential values? Personally, I like finding problems because I like solving problems. Nothing is more depressing to me than cheerfully sweeping things under the rug. It reminds me of passive individualism. I would rather have strong enemies than a world of passive individualists. In a world of passive individualists nothing seems worth anything simply because nobody stands for anything. That world has no convictions, no victories, no unions, no heroism, no absolutes, no heartbeat. That world has rigor mortis. This is not to justify the instigation of unnecessary conflicts, but rather to defend truth from future turmoil. Needless to say, one should avoid passivity when negative extremists represent hatred or falsehoods as regularities within the body of Christ (e.g. the infamous Westboro Baptist Church). The motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Those who care criticize where necessary. Those who envy criticize the moment they think that they have found a weak spot. In Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin effectively explained the Church's interaction with the state of the times (or cultures); firstly, love should be one's guide before tradition. As previously mentioned, determining the tone of one's beliefs does not necessarily entail altering and/or compromising one's beliefs:

"I mean that the Lord has in his sacred oracles faithfully embraced and clearly expressed both the whole sum of true righteousness, and all aspects of the worship of his majesty, and whatever was necessary to salvation; therefore, in these the Master alone is to be heard. But because he did not will in outward discipline and ceremonies to prescribe in detail what we ought to do (because he foresaw that this depended upon the state of the times, and he did not deem one form suitable for all ages), here we must take refuge in those general rules which he has given, that whatever the necessity of the church will require for order and decorum should be tested against these. Lastly, because he has taught nothing specifically, and because these things are not necessary to salvation, and for the upbuilding of the church ought to be variously accommodated to the customs of each nation and age, it will be fitting (as the advantage of the church will require) to change and abrogate traditional practices and to establish new ones. Indeed, I admit that we ought not to charge into innovation rashly, suddenly, for insufficient cause. But love will best judge what may hurt or edify; and if we let love be our guide, all will be safe.

There is a certain role for a number of theists, and surprisingly enough, one in which is not to condemn in the name of doctrinal principles. Instead, it is to provide reasonable direction for one to ruminate on Christ, love, and virtue as manifested through scriptures, but first, let me explain: I feel that some individuals, forgotten individuals, more confidently relate to this approach. There is a presupposition that says, "Oh, it's from the Bible, whatever," and then there is the alternative, "I've never thought of this that way. It's starting to make more sense." Scripture in its purest interpretation is the one and only reliable foundation of all teachings worth teaching, yet every individual requires an amount of deconstruction in his grand search for truth. I want to make it clear that this does not imply something as contemptuous as provoking the loss of one's conscious state of mind. Veracity is within all people, however the challenge is sorting through one's own nonsense.
Those who speak of progression but are afraid of change are self-repressed and therefore unable to reach any further than their eyes can already see. In Job's hardships, he shaved his head and tore his robe saying, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I must return (Job 1:21)."

I think it is healthy to, every once in awhile, combat everyday inclinations in order to inspire evaluation of one's own potentially biased ideologies, whether it is for the theist or the atheist. It is like a reflection that rearranges the pieces in the mirror; surely the questioning of faith, rationality, opinion, and ideology
is an effective self-evaluation. In result, if it was ever true faith in the beginning (more than mere opinion or belief), the right questions can only make that faith stronger under the discovery of more refined answers. When one serves as a planter of seeds for the glorification of God, the remainder of the vision is placed in his sovereign hands. With this an endeavor cannot be any more valuable whether the results are comprehended by man or not.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pseudo-Mature Theologians & Red Herrings

Invariably have I both observed and experienced older theologians demeaning younger ones by age rather than unfaithfulness, and I have previously ignored it in reverence. I am certainly not referring to mentorships or one's receiving guidance from those wiser than oneself. Obviously, those are wonderful, productive things. I am referring to the inferior complex-inducing strategies and authoritative appeals of the modern day theologian, which are most recurring when they fail to support their own tattered philosophies during debates. Job 12:19-20 says, "He leads priests away stripped and overthrows men long established. He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders." Time and time again does the pride of man influence his very own fall (Proverbs 16:18). While denying it, one gradually starts to believe that he is the authority, or that he possesses great moral dominion over others, yet it is spiritually unwarranted. By that point he loses steam; in result, he falsely begins trying to prove that unwarranted dominion by seizing the role of a condemner.

Indeed one has to remember that younger theologians are inexperienced, however, alternatively do they have the purity of a fresh canvas for God's limitless work. On the other hand, older theologians have experience but a bias that limits God's work according to those experiences. While God makes both himself and his ways known to those who seek him (Matthew 7:7), the infinite is only understood to a degree in the finite.
This is in fact necessary: What is the value of knowledge if it is not concealed so that each man may seek in order to fulfill his own purpose? God as the creator of man, man as the creation of God - neither God nor man may receive glory without the concealment of knowledge. There was never any promise of theological perfection in this life nor is there a direct correspondence in revelations from God to one's years of experience; therefore, one should never cease the will for understanding under the notion that it has all been understood. The credit of wisdom goes to God who is not limited to man's idea of a mature mind. Ultimately, I will take the former over the latter, Mark 10:5 says, "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."

Ironically, fallacious diversions such as ad hominem attacks and self-authoritative appeals degrade one's own credibility, thus losing the respect allegedly deserved. Most importantly, 1 Timothy 4:12 is self-explanatory regarding the subject, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity."
God's word consistently seems to fall into the philosophically plausible position when interpreted from an unbiased position - the child's perspective is one of the most pure among man. Charles Baudelaire hinted this saying, "Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will." Children have pure enough minds to ignore the standards and boundaries set my men/society, and this imaginative nature is a divine perspective due to the notion that only the boundaries set by God are ultimately relevant.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Playing the apologist with radical skepticism

Human Thoughts on Human Thinking: It is inevitable that, generally, we as human beings only hear what we are prepared to hear and see what we are prepared to see - which is like painting in broad strokes, thus "jumping the intellectual gun". When a man takes a tiny piece of information and trivially runs with it, he himself implies that his own logical interpretation of the information is, whether consciously or unconsciously, hindered, and he is simply hearing what he chooses to hear. I would say such a person is verbally more challenging to communicate with than a person speaking a foreign language - the former observes only himself while the latter at least struggles to observe the communicator. There are also those who inadvertently grant power to another man's words by continuously trying to spite him. If a man gets to the point where he can simply say, "The sky is blue," and people indignantly rush up trying to refute him saying, "No, the sky is light blue," then, whether they realize it or not, he has become an authority figure even to such adversaries.

However, my goal, as a Christian, philosopher, and even as a simple human being, is certainly not to be adorned by mere hierarchy nor is it to adorn others in such a way. In fact, I am in several ways influenced by the philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, a witty street bum. On several occasions did he comically signify that the slant of the majority is not always the most plausible:
"'Why is it, Diogenes, that pupils leave you to go to other teachers, but rarely do they leave them to come to you?'...'Because,' replied Diogenes, 'one can make eunuchs out of men, but no one can make a man out of eunuchs.'" (The following arguments include more references to Diogenes thus implying my admiration for his actual philosophies.) Although alternatively, what I present is not meant to discourage those of different moral principles than myself, but rather encourage, with positive revelations, any truly willing individual; yet, if one is offended by what is nothing more than constructive criticism, then he is either overestimating the importance of the critic or the overall critique is in some way valid. As far as any of my advice goes, I usually make sure that I need it as much as the next person. Hypocritical or not, that is how I am certain that it is valuable to at least one or more persons. On whom can one start but himself?

In any case I feel that there should be a thicker line between the ideological critic and the personal critic. "Rule: Start by looking for what is valid in every man," said Camus, and due to the masses not attempting such, knots of the ages merely grow tighter. Many young philosophers, in an infatuation or detestation regarding ideology, excessively attempt to negatively discern one another before evaluation of the philosophies. At times it is to so far a degree that it seems as though, when driven by such distraught motivators, any possibility for discovering truth becomes an offensive strike to the face. The result is a form of denial, but denial is temporarily satisfactory and quite like a safety net; false sentiments are much easier to control than real ones, or as Camus also said, "Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object." Hence, my reflection on the ways in which we commonly give and take information is to ultimately remind that, when the time is right, truth seems to find the individual rather than the individual finding truth - an important thing to understand when arguing abstract or controversial topics.

Having said that, much of the following was taken from an argument with an individual of atheistic belief who initially challenged me. Unfortunately, I no longer have the full message that inspired it, but I saved and refined my response because it compiled quite a bit of timeless information, both personal and universal:

A Wandering Response, Pt. 1: "I open my messages and find an entire essay criticizing me more than the argument. That is a sign of instability, so I contemplated hard about responding to this. Plus, it would take forever, but here we go...

I dislike the political world due to the iniquity and intellectual erosion it provokes in opinionated men. There are two culprits that can bring out a man's worst: pride and bias, and even beyond religion, they are, in a more subtle nature, most ample in the field of politics. Non-partisanship is consistently more plausible - the limitations given by labels tend to negate marvelous potential [Kierkegaard]. Under the notion that there are endless complex factors for one to consider, both on personal and universal levels, one's provoking thought and questioning the status quo, unveiling those little things we take for granted, and challenging politically systematic partisanship are essential means of support. One is apt to limit God according to his own understanding; therefore, he must frequently acknowledge human nature within the power-hungry society: great nations, out of pride, devour themselves (Jeremiah 50:32). God's ways are not imprisoned by man's current idea of conservatism nor are they littered with the excessive lenience of contemporary liberalism. Similarly, as a deviation from political corruption, G.K. Chesterton made known the vilification of such, "The whole modern world has divided itself into conservatives and progressives. The business of progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected." In essence I find that the foundation of modern conservatism is driven by a clinging to God in fear of the world, whereas the foundation of modern liberalism is a clinging to the world in fear of God; albeit, the true foundation should be one's clinging to God in fear of God (Proverbs 14:26).

In God's eyes, a man who teaches one truth and nothing else is more righteous than a man who teaches a million truths and one lie. I cannot nor do I pretend to comprehend what is economically best for every living individual as well as his descendants 100 years from now, yet I support those who genuinely and purely attempt to do such. Regardless, I find that belligerent patriotism explodes on the subject of politics as though it consists of 99% pride and 1% sincerity. Patriotism as the belligerent patriot practices is less patriotic than it is to the one who admonishes his country. As individuals die every moment, how insensitive and fabricated a love it is to set aside a day from selfish routine in prideful, patriotic commemoration of tragedy. Just as God is provoked by those who tithe simply because they feel that they must tithe, I am provoked by those who commemorate simply because they feel that they must commemorate. In his 1942 epistolary-styled apologetics novel, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis, or rather "Screwtape", explained very well the psychological stages of obsessive, contemporary politics with regard to religion: "Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the 'cause'..." Even under what some might call "the separation of church and state", it is the philosophers, theologians, and evangelists who are said to be filled with pride and bigotry due to the strong convictions that they represent. On the contrary, teachings can be either taken or dismissed; whereas voting is the only thing the average person can do to force everyone to live how they would prefer. A simple vote is among the largest yet most acceptable forms of bigotry, and that is because people play the card only when they feel that in doing so it conveniences themselves. Unlike philosophical teachings, politics have an inevitable effect on all people whether they like it or not.

As far as my philosophy endeavors go, I know it is a popular stereotype that philosophers do not get very far in this day, but that does not bother me no matter its accuracy or lack thereof. The reality of society is a failure - by foundation it respects individuals and their relevance according to institutional records and paperwork rather than by skill. Labeled fools to the world are geniuses to the cosmos. Genius is often suppressed: education truly comes alive when one averts it in such a way in which he puts up a wall protecting his imagination, the creative portion of the brain. I essentially use the philosophical perspective as a tool for intellectual creativity, new ideas, song lyrics, and as a way of life. You are correct. On occasion, it attempts to ask and answer questions that cannot always be proven beyond the means of logic and speculation, however it is more relevant than it initially appears in a career-oriented proportion. In order to share one's true brilliance one initially has to risk looking like a fool: genius is like a wheel that spins so fast, it at first glance appears to be sitting still. Diogenes once stated that philosophers are like dogs; they do more good than they are appreciated.

Albert Einstein said, "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed." I personally share this sentiment and value creativity, art, and wisdom over materialism. Wisdom is nothing more than confirmed imagination: just because one did not study for his exam does not mean that he should leave it blank.
And one does not have to be a philosopher to be a successful artist, but he does have to be an artist to be a successful philosopher. His nature is to view the world in an unpredictable albeit useful light. Some might ask questions such as, "Don't you wanna be rich or famous?" but by the words of Diogenes, yet again, when questioned how one can become famous or successful, "By worrying as little as possible about fame." The artist lives to have stories to tell and to learn to tell them well, therefore I try to have my own definitions of happiness and success, and I would rather make paths before taking paths. Ultimately, one's idea of success is subjective rather than objective. Most men either compromise or drop their greatest talents and start running after, what they perceive to be, a more reasonable success, and somewhere in between they end up with a discontented settlement. Safety is indeed stability, but it is not progression. 

For instance, rarely did I excel as an employee; in fact, I did quite the opposite. At times I was feeling much like Charles Bukowski's description with regards to a laboring humanity. In Ham on Rye he wrote [shortened], "The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. ... A whole nation doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidates who reminded them most of themselves. I had no interests. I had no interest in anything. I had no idea how I was going to escape. At least the others had some taste for life." 

The power of hope! Even a lack of ambition can, for a time, pay off as a necessary facet, as long as hope outweighs it. I had no desire for things that I knew would someday deteriorate and eventually realized that my ambitions were too high for personal gain and comfort. I lost interest in settling for mediocrity and only wanted to bring something, anything fascinating to the table, something eternal. Generally, strategies that were merely intended to thicken one's pockets told employers what to do, and employers told me what to do. Thus at times my objective was to work for a more intangible reason - something as simple as experiencing and understanding the cycle of humanity, and hopefully in turn, developing an affinity for such. After all, repetition reflects one's living in the present thus demonstrating a will to live forward, as Kierkegaard wrote in Repetition, whereas, recollection is potentially an immobilizing mindset, a concern which is much like jogging in reverse. Therefore, coming to accept the seemingly inevitable repetition of life was my work ethic, but, being so obscure of a work ethic, it appeared to be completely nonexistent in the opinions of others. That bleeds through - oftentimes one is harshly judged for a lack of work ethic. I once read that music became Bono's revenge; likewise, philosophy became my revenge. After awhile you cease trying to be accepted. When determined to be who you are, you conjure ways to cope with who you are; so, instead of drugs or alcohol, I chose faith and philosophy. That is what I believe to be the nature of optimism. When you feel like you mean nothing to everyone for too long, you one day wake up with an urge to mean everything to as many people as possible. That is what inspires creativity. Maybe God would agree, hence creation. What is my point here? Every man has a specific skill, whether it is discovered or not, that more readily and naturally comes to him than it would to another, and his own should be sought and polished. He excels best in his niche - originality loses its authenticity in one's efforts to obtain originality. Nevertheless, by use of his genuine craftsmanship, a simple man further becomes walking evidence of the glory of God.Despite the personal sense of fulfillment that philosophy brings, ironically, it is constantly told to the philosopher, "Stop thinking; be happy." He then replies, "Define 'happiness'". The person defines it, and in result, he further realizes that he is pleased with who he is and what he does; therefore, he is indeed happy. Philosophy is a way of imagination; it bends the frame of mind, challenges the notions that which we take for granted, and reveals those held captive by common sense. This is the sense of fulfillment that I spoke of, and in the words of C.S. Lewis, "There is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes." I find such happiness to be like a collector's toy that you never open or play with because it then loses its value, but the non-collector does not fully understand. Studies restricted to the boundaries of the scientific method harvest a limited knowledge because the contents are based on systematic testability, thus the only accepted results are those bound to the limitations of man's perceptions of reliability. Frankly, that is not wisdom, that is the taking of information compiled under the laws of human research. Like most I do find pleasure in the discovery of truth. However it is often considered a mistake that one would so adamantly pursue what is sometimes called "the b.s. subject", and further suggested that science is the direction to take if one desires truth. I would rather aid an individual idealistically - peace thrives internally - than physically, and according to my experiences, with a philosophy education, one can infuriate his peers, intimidate his date, think of obscure, unreliable ways to make money, and never regret a thing." 

A Wandering Response, Pt. 2: "But, enough about me, you also wanted to know qualities about the Christian God that are unique. I would assume that any God that truly exists and has any power will be the lasting God above the others. This was taken from an external source, and you can easily rule out the more obscure ones without the need of extensive research. We can find that the "dying and rising gods", such as Adonis, Baal (and Hadad), Marduk, Osiris, and Tammuz have been discarded for quite a long time by both non-Christian and Christian scholars:

"1.) There is simply no unambiguous data to support the belief in the existence of any dying and rising deity apart from Jesus.
2.) There is data contrary to the belief that these were common figures before the time of Christ (to say the least).
3.) There would not be any motif from which the NT authors could even borrow the image of a dying and rising God."

There are also gods in the "mystery religions", such as Mithra and Dionysos:


"1.) None of the savior gods died for someone else in their place. The idea that the Son of God fully dying in place of his people is unique to Christianity.
2.) Only Jesus died purposefully for sin. As Gunter Wagner said about the pagan gods "none has the intention of helping men...The sort of death that they died is quite different (hunting accident, self-emasculation, etc.)."
3.) Unlike the mystery gods, Jesus died voluntarily. Nothing like this appears even implicitly in the mysteries (the closest is the self-castration of Attis, but this is generally attributed to his insanity, not to a free and clear choice)."

They have been arguably debunked philosophically and scientifically, whereas, the Christian God has remained consistent despite the extensive cherry-picking and scrutiny the Bible has boldly endured for centuries.

The nature of God has historically remained controversial as perceived by skeptics, for example, the laws advocated in the Old Testament (e.g. do not shave your beard, sell your daughter into slavery, marry those you rape, etc.). When hearing these laws, skeptics criticize God for being too tyrannical and even too malevolent of a God, as Epicurus concluded. That is further evidence that man's initial idea of a loving God does not make sense without a sincere observation of his divinity, holiness, and consciousness of sin. One of my favorite verses, Isaiah 45:7 says,
"I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things." The God of the Bible reigns beyond both good and evil. He allows short term evils in order to carry out long term good [C.S. Lewis; Mere Christianity], and even though he made evident his mercy time and time again throughout the Old Testament, he does not take sin lightly; he is constantly forgiving of our mistakes, however his judgment is perfect, just, and holy. Find another god like this and you can discard this entire paragraph.

You asked for a positive ontology regarding the existence of God. I do not believe there is one that would satisfy the majority of radical atheists. I am a scientific agnostic and a spiritual theist, and it does not bother me or most Christians I know - ontology is not where God initially intended to be found. If God did exist as the creator of the universe, he would, as explained on several occasions, exist incalculably - outrageously massive beyond the instruments of scientific research. Try proving our more complex reality to ants. One could give them evidence and they would hardly perceive the complexities from their simplified cognition, and correspondingly, tangibility and testability are essential to science as perceived by humans.

You said, "Interesting. On one hand you claim that children mature then eventually come across evidence that denies the existence of Santa, but just a few sentences earlier you say that Santa and God share the common property of being unprovable. You have to pick one or the other."

It is not a contradiction. Proof and evidence are 2 different things. We cannot prove that God or Santa Claus exist, however we have significant evidence that Santa does not exist. We do not have significant evidence that God does not exist. This applies to every imaginary fairytale out there. Skeptics often pretend that the idea of a creator is as improbable as the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Santa Claus, or the Pink Unicorn. This is a strong example of intellectual dishonesty. When something is truly said to be insane, it is because it is from an abnormal state of mind. A belief in God is not abnormal - billions of normal and intelligent people today and since the beginning of time believe(d) in God, hence you are being intellectually dishonest if you truly consider theism to be insane in and of itself. In fact, one of the most intelligent men in recorded history was a deist, Einstein, who died merely 50 years ago. You have been so flooded by atheistic views that you somehow think a belief in God is insane. It is evident what modern propaganda can do to people.

You said, "But you have a problem with causality? Can't you accept that we just don't know about "the beginning" or even if there was one? Doesn't that fall under "realizing your own ignorance?" You are doing exactly what you're telling us not to do. You assume knowledge regarding causality and the universe, and use that assumed knowledge to support an otherwise insane idea."

Everyone claims to be okay with freedom of religion, but the moment you mention God there is a strange tension that fills the air. If there was a 6th sense, that would be it. Several skeptics, however, refuse to acknowledge the case that a rational, justified belief in God is indeed possible. It is not always a pseudo-intellectual decision based on one's ignorance of scientific facts, cultural norms/indoctrination, "blind faith", or insanity, nor was it ever meant to be grounded on such fallacies. The existence of God does not appear to be verifiable by means in which the normative atheistic position expects him to be verified, hence many theists do not take part in the endless attempts of logically explaining a relationship with God according to standards of the scientific method. To take that route is not by any means a requirement for one's faith nor for the sharing of one's faith, but it is indeed possible for one to have a calling to defend the faith in such a manner. John Calvin once said,
"A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent." Certainly God does not need any sort of defense or protection, however the faithful apologist naturally delights in clarifying certain misconceptions of Christ and his word." 

P.S.: "I appreciate the "breath of fresh air" comment. I hope all of my fellow Christians remind themselves that the Bible teaches against blind faith and ignorance, "Test everything, hold on to the good". On the other hand, one should not look for God strictly within a self-proclaimed form of intellectualism or science but by experience. When saying, "the best intelligence is realizing your own ignorance", the ignorance is one's lack of experience, yet many Christians have experienced Christ in some indescribably, personal way.

Intelligent Christians are not rare in the slightest, yet a number of skeptics repeat the stereotype amongst themselves. One's intelligence excels in different areas; a person is intelligent in a certain aspect and unintelligent another aspect. While I am not exactly sure what you are looking for, I can briefly list a number of "intelligent" individuals within my own field. To list a modern wave of philosophers that also happen to support theism, there is Richard Swinburne (Oxford), Eleanor Stump (Oxford), and Brian Leftow (Oxford). If you want to find non-condemning theists, you could try sincerely talking to some rather than listening excessively to a biased media while surrounding yourself 360 degrees in atheistic communities.

Regarding the reliability of the Bible: I said that it is possibly "imperfect" to the biased thinker in such a case of passing through the hands and interpretations of man (technically, that is a result of man's imperfections). I never implied universal fallibility. That is not a semantical backflip, it is an important distinction. Your question seems to be, "If it is imperfect, then what basis do you have to properly decipher and interpret the Bible? Why interpret this like this and that like that?" If a man depends completely on himself, then you are absolutely correct, he has no basis. Such a man, in result, is prone to spread hatred and deception in the name of God (i.e. "a wolf in sheep's clothing"), which is the clashing of the fallen human interpretation with divine truth. I am sure you have heard this before and will call it a "cop out" like earlier (ironically, simply saying "cop out" is a cop out, in many cases). For those who are truly humbled towards God, the Holy Spirit guides them through interpretations. Many faithful Christians receive new, positive revelations upon every instance a passage is read or re-read."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Predestination, The Elect, Free Will...Contradiction?

The well-prolonged debate regarding the alleged conflict between predestination and free will is often examined while completely disregarding the foreknowledge of God (1 Peter 1:2). The Molinistic philosophy is plausibly one of the most accurate descriptions to date, which is most contemporarily advocated by philosopher William Lane Craig, logically explaining the compatibility of free will ("optional love") and preordination ("forced love") without contradicting the concept of a loving God.

The wisdom of God is both crafty and omniscient, thus retaining 3 types of knowledge: a natural, middle, and free knowledge. It is vital to remember that his wisdom is beyond time, and by this, he already knows, predetermines, and owns his elect before formation in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5); however, man remains "freely" accepting of the gift of salvation in a time-bound, contemporary sense. Philosophically, the 3 knowledges are commonly defined as:

1.) Natural knowledge - God's knowledge of all possible truths, logic, and moral truths.

2.) Middle knowledge - God's knowledge of counterfactuals, or what a person would do during any given situation.
3.) Free knowledge - God's knowledge of the creation itself.

Contrary to popular belief, there is a compatibility between predestination and free will when referring to a God with knowledge that is not governed by time or duration due to the idea that omniscience does not entail manipulation, rather it entails precise measurement.
"Theological fatalism" can at times seem to be counterproductive when not discussed among firm believers. This is not an implication that it is invalid, however, God is "too simple to be simplified" into philosophies that may spiritually exclude the potential of any individual accepting the gift of salvation. Regardless, divinity for the sake of the simple-minded is beautiful. One is bound to make doctrinal mistakes, and in like manner, even the greatest thinkers have and will be wrong at some points. Those theological assertions you write, say, or live by that you later feel foolish about, it means God still lives in you enough to tell you that they were indeed foolish. By mistakes you know you are alive.

I also want to make it clear that while no one should ever cease the will for understanding, when these controversies are continuously debated among great intellectuals for centuries no matter the supposed veracity of any given logic, the ultimate conclusion does not appear to be provable. The Bible thoroughly imparts what is necessary for salvation and to teach The Law of Faith - one is saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Kierkegaard once said, "If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe." A solid answer to everything is not necessary.
Blurry concepts influence one to focus, but postulated clarity influences arrogance. Hence, in the flesh we are not expected to precisely explain with absolute assurance the more seemingly complex ways of God without God-given revelations, nor can we take such authorities as to say who is not capable of salvation when all are simply instructed to confess and be saved.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

2 Peter 3:3-9

In my experiences, the activist "free thinker" varies among certain types, and the foundation of such a mentality is commonly based on one or more of the following conclusions:

~God is dead.
~God hates (or is apathetic of) humanity.
~God and science are incompatible.
~God is an ancient myth.
~God is for the weak, unintelligent person.

Every once in a while a new "naturalist bible" is released
(e.g. works by Hawking, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and a number of others). Is this evidence of progressive science? Not necessarily, the conclusions of popular naturalist works, that the idea of God is insignificant, are of course similar; however, the premises leading to this conclusion are not always complementary to one another. On the contrary, an important method in scientific progression, quite obviously, is that a premise is to supply reason for a conclusion, not for an agenda. If the premises are arguably not in line with one another, then what basis is there for the ultimate conclusion? Generally, this conclusion of God's "insignificant value" is obsessively tossed around by use of various scientific premises, which is essentially man's arrogance of trying to make conclusions against religion strictly by using science. The result: an undeniable, underlying agenda and/or public entertainment further influencing today's misconceptions of progressive science. In short, the modern naturalists, if they wish to present considerable arguments, need better inductive reasoning and less arguments engulfed in non sequiturs.

Now, what is intelligent about debaters like Richard Dawkins is they pick easy targets to make their positions seem valid (e.g. attacking amateur fundamentalist Christians rather than debating Christian philosophers). Whenever studying apologetics and some of God's most recurring oppositions, many of which are particularly inspired by over-estimated, contemporary readings, such as Dawkins' The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great, one can only witness truth in the following passage (2 Peter 3:3-9):

"First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.' But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
Again, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."

Evolution does not necessarily contradict creationism (it is of biological rather than theological relevance). On the contrary, it flows with the given biblical evidence. According to the Genesis account, on the seventh day God rested, quite possibly meaning, in God's time, converted to human time, the 7 trillionth day. This also occurs in the natural world; for example, the expanded correlation between the length of human years and dog years seems to be the case regarding the length of God years and human years. In reality, science is certainly not in conflict with religion, but as I previously mentioned, it is rather the arrogance of men - who grasp for straws in desperation to deny a transcendent God - and how they want to apply that science that is in conflict with religion.

Arguments against the significance of God have been made since the fall of man, but he is as alive and well as ever. An intelligent man, or "wisened fool", opposing the incalculable authority can believe he exceeds its presence or the necessity of it until his grave, when really he is merely a speck of a fool to such a patient and timeless God.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"The idea of a heaven sounds absurd!"

Absurdity is the ecstasy of intellectualism. Albert Camus once stated, "The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth." The concrete rationalist considers the attributes of Heaven to be absurd or maybe even unappealing. It also seems to be a kindergarten fairytale, or as author Christopher Hitchens horse laughs, "a ridiculous theme park". Such a conception is quite understandable; however, the true attributes of it are very sensible when more thoroughly observed.

To put Heaven into perspective the best I can, I am going to provide an excerpt that I previously wrote about the power of God:
"If [God] indeed showed himself in a more definitive manner, or according to our visual awareness (e.g. waving from the clouds on a golden sleigh, giant hands lifting mountains, etc.), a power so far beyond the universe suddenly interjecting the universe would demolish all in the vicinity [Richard Deem; God and Science]. This is justified by the very words of God, in Exodus 33:20, saying, 'You cannot see my face, for no man can see me and live.'

Simple examples tend to put seemingly great complexities into perspective. Imagine the power of a star resting billions of miles away. The light shines so brightly, it can still be seen regardless of its distance, but it is days old by the time it reaches our eyes. We know that human vision is harmed when staring into the closest star of all, the sun. The creator of substances as powerful as these must have a natural light far beyond any of the creation, including the power of the stars, therefore it is for our own good that we cannot see God in full form."
According to the given premises, all will be invigorated with enhanced entities capable of enduring the full presence of God. Additionally, when understanding that we are assimilated to an earth incapable of exhibiting the full presence of God, we then reveal further evidence that any place capable of exhibiting such must be physically incomprehensible from the current conception. As Richard Deem writes, '"Since Heaven is where God lives, it must contain more physical and temporal dimensions than those found in this physical universe that God created. We cannot imagine, nor can we experience in our current bodies, what these extra dimensions might be like."

I realize that to many skeptics an eternity in Heaven, or an eternity anywhere for that matter, is also completely illogical. Yet one has to acknowledge that time is a property of this universe - it can be described as a system used to measure change and sequentiality. If it indeed exists, it is not congruent with this universe in the sense that it and other spiritual dimensions are not timed, rather they are eternal because they are not physical properties of this u
niverse. In the current conception one cannot comprehend the true concept of eternity when both mentally and physically accustomed to one's own system of existence. The thought of eternity is the fabrication of trillions of years, yet when the final year is reached, trillions more are added. That is precisely a finite interpretation, thus infinity is seemingly an illogical concept. Ultimately, it is not complete absurdity when rationally considering concepts beyond the universe.

Question: "I love my wife, is there still marriage in Heaven?"

I would rather not thoroughly answer that question for 2 reasons: I am not married yet nor have I been to Heaven. In my opinion, it would not be fair if I did with absolute assurance, and would appear as if I am standing outside of a building talking about the wallpaper on the inside. But to give a simplified hypothesis, no (even though I believe we will be in fellowship with each other) because apparently everyone will be "married" to Jesus (indeed it sounds unappealing when contemplated from the flesh). All will be resurrected beings with divine properties rather than adhering to secular practices bound in imperfection. Marriage as defined by the Bible is a gift and partnership, and is adequately symbolic of the more eternal marriage between believers and Jesus. Matthew 22:29-30 says, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An Important Quotation at the Christian Book Expo 2009

When you say something mild yet people get heated, it means there is power in your words. When that continues to happen you eventually realize that others inherently value your message whether they like it or not. However anti-theistic author Christopher Hitchens, special guest at the Christian Book Expo 2009, made a relevant point, so I feel the need to address it.
"Those that say 'I have a meek and mild Savior for you, and if you don't like it you can burn tortured infinitely' the same whether they keep it to themselves or try to pass it on to someone else. A person who believes that is a wicked and delusional idiot...I decline to be spoken to in that tone of voice. I will not be told 'I have a supernatural offer for you, you can be redeemed if you believe just in me and if you don't like it you can be tortured forever'. I won't be talked to like that. That is the language of fascism and dictatorship. It's comforting to know that it is completely mythical..."
I believe in evolution in the sense that a short-tempered man is the successor of a crybaby. As cowardly as the passage sounds (i.e. "I do not like the sound of that. It is scary and unfair, so not only will I deny it, I will also be intolerant of those who believe it."), it is an important argument that should not be shamefully discarded by apologists. I want to make it clear that although God is not limited to or from any way of spiritual conviction, generally, gone astray is prudence through ways of "in-your-face" evangelism as Hitchens so passionately despises. There is a potential degradation one feels having an absolute stranger propose various credenda. Though inadvertently, given is the implication that the listener is an ignorant heathen thus further influencing psychological bitterness - a more intense rejection of the actual message due to anger with the messenger (however, that most definitely depends on the listener and the context of the situation). On the contrary it is possible to speak a painful truth without that truth causing more pain than it must. In many cases such encounters are viable, but on the other hand there is considerable evidence of the harm done; for example, it is the formation of the severely anti-theistic hardened heart, which extends beyond mere atheism or agnosticism such as those like Hitchens himself.

Many people in a rather reckless context claim to "just tell it like it is". In actuality, nobody really stresses what one says so much as the motive behind what one says; hence, he is merely blowing hot air and detracting from "what is". I am aware that many are familiar with the frequented quotation by author Brennan Manning, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians..." In a social sense rather than spiritual sense, the Manning quotation is indeed rather valuable due to a certain tendency of "holy condescension" and, equally important, irresponsible Christianity. Lamentably have theists attempted to justify reckless misrepresentation of God and the collective body of believers while further ignoring such a sincere observation; yet the separations within the Christian community that are birthed from a plethora of causes, ranging from moral and theological disagreements to social and political wars, are ways in which the atheist will contest the validity of theism. While disagreements are inevitable, would not the representation of a unified body of Christ prevail when as consistent as possible? John 15:20 must remain in the heart of the believer, "Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also," but secondly one must also remember the great distinction between luxuriating in destruction and adjusting for construction. It is written that there is a number of individuals ready to yield just as there are hardened hearts, and the preservation of the good is certainly worth one's effort.

Is this truly "humanistic theology" that I am speaking of, in the sense of making an appeal to man before an appeal to God, or merely open arms for a brother's ambiguous pleas of bewilderment? First, let me explain. The simple notion that faith is the divine, objective truth makes it inherently far from humanistic theology regardless of the means in which the message is communicated. However, this is not an indication that it cannot be improperly communicated (e.g. violent extremism). Is one not given ears to hear his brother's responses in order to effectively communicate with him? "He who has ears, let him ear" (Matthew 11:15): The passage is frequently projected onto the non-believer, yet it equally applies to the believer. As social beings, one is designed to learn by acknowledgment of countless sources including perspectives of the non-believer. If otherwise, would not God be inhibited from using other media to speak to those that faithfully perceive his full presence? He is quite unpredictable and has once used something as illogical as a burning bush on Mount Sinai to send a message (Exodus 3). One's holiness is neither a component of stubborn arrogance nor a form of communicative rejection. Instead, great components of communicating the divine truth are the fruits of the Spirit.

It is actually quite simple, as simplicity is often highly underestimated and complexity is not always necessary. In the appropriate context, and to perform sincerely and without boast, the vitality of faith in Christ is manifested through a lifestyle of understanding. Sometimes the sharing of faith is as simple as allowing one's fruits to invigorate a sense of natural intrigue by the recipient. Inherently, one is longing to adhere to the individual he has great affection for; likewise,
contemporary apologist Ravi Zacharias stated, "Yes, if truth is not under-girded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive."

I cannot think of very many things more despicable than befriending one merely to try and change him. In such cases the fruits are displaced from a Christ-like walk to a disingenuous business - a deviation from the faithful man's love without agenda. A truth that is both fully manifested and radiant provides direction, and the individual bound to be drawn by its fruits from within the bearer will be drawn. I understand that this raises the question: Does time, ultimately, tick away for the salvation of an individual initially secured in the foreknowledge of a timeless God? One cannot be absolutely certain either way - we find that tomorrow is promised to no man, but merely in the eyes of man
; hence, this is where faith in the fruits, as manifested through Christ, come into effect. Moreover, one's design is much like a lasting beginning (thus remaining consistent with Einstein's theory regarding the relativity of time).

Surely all people self-proclaim some variation of truth, but how can one truly illuminate a vigor for that truth? Oftentimes as I walk the streets, I am either approached by or observing the modern evangelist - I further see that he would greater benefit from assimilating the outlook of a conqueror rather than that of a beggar (Romans 8:37). On one hand Christ was persecuted for speaking truth, yet on the other he was sought for his proficient wisdom and miracles. Now, there is power in truth, and any speaker will experience both hands no matter his approach. While we all have callings,
I find that, in an era of overestimated intellectualism, a philosophically sound approach to the properties of God holds a great deal of strength, which according to my experiences is an intriguing perspective for those who initially do not favor alleged fairytales or implied condescension. More specifically, it is said to be "a breath of fresh air", and Christ in his true manifestation is most definitely a breath of fresh air to those who sincerely seek him. When we begin merely by fighting about our differences, and in this case, the theist versus the atheist, we leave no foundation to build any sort of ladder to understanding; with no understanding, there is nothing but a wall of denial.

In addition, I must make it clear that God is a skillful strategist. His followers are endowed with a plethora of personalities and strengths in order to fulfill the ultimate purpose. Therefore, they are capable of spreading his message in a variety of ways apart from those previously mentioned.
No matter the approach, all should remember Titus 3:1-2 in their endeavors, "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men."

Returning to Hitchens, even though he can be emotionally justified in his statement, he is simply misguided. If he does not believe there is a Hell and that theists are delusional (which is a point of view that he openly expresses), then there is no reason to take offense. There is a popular quotation within the atheist community by author Robert Pirsig, "When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion."

There is no denying that the quotation is witty (and I want to note that depending on semantics I do not support "religion"; in some cases, it is only a distraction from the very God it supposedly serves), however, if the assertion is indeed valid, then for one to take offense in opposition of the delusional teachings of any form of theological fatalism is quite insane through and through. If one was to visit a psychiatric hospital, which is generally a discourse of a great deal of seemingly outrageous absurdity, he would choose not to hold it against the insane mainly due to the intuition in which he "knows" the inmates speak illogically. When he truly concludes an ideology to be intellectually absurd then there exists nothing to be offended by, otherwise neither individual is the sane individual. Hitchens did add that he is comforted to "know" that it is completely mythical; however, by the aforementioned words of Pirsig and his very own intolerance of any religious dogma, there is an inconsistency in the overall perspective towards theists who believe in a Hell.

Having said that, how does one remain offended by a purportedly nonexistent conception? He is offended when there is an inherent vestige, a state in which he still considers that this nonexistent conception exists. Deep in every individual's conscience rests the possibility of God no matter how passionately he denies it.

More importantly, I want to explain the mercy of God and how it is not in contradiction with the theoretical existence of Hell. Hitchens' statement raises the controversial and repetitiously used rhetoric yet again:

"If God loves everyone so much, then why would he send a person to eternal torture?"

Occasionally, one is coerced to avoid excessive biblical criteria according to the philosophies of those who do not directly accept the Bible as absolute truth. Although time after time do I fail in my own imperfect ways, this does not always have to be a problem. While the Bible is the infallible sword of believers, one's relationship with Christ, upon surrender, can provide the gift of reason. Should not the follower realize his direct relationship with and heart knowledge of Christ as much as his head knowledge of the word of God? Such a relationship distinguishes faith from mere religion; hence, a consciousness of both his nature and his word in biblical context can be attained. One can remember that God's word is the sword, and the mind which he has given is the sheath.

Regarding the prior question, revealed are the basic qualities of God in which many are familiar with: he is merciful, loving, sovereign, and just; however, one must understand the wrath of God - one in which is to be feared above all else. Considering God according to the Bible, the lasting solace throughout all of existence is that of God, not from oneself nor any other external force(s). Eminently is humanity given the current existence for the glorification of God, hence an indication of the opportunity to either seek or reject the presence of God. Because he fortifies all that is loving and merciful, if one is to reject him, then equivalently one is rejecting such blessings of divine amity, as C.S. Lewis said, "God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing."

Often do I use the following analogy to support the prior explanation: Just as cold is the absence of heat rather than the opposite of heat and dark is the absence of light rather than the opposite of light, Hell is the "absence of God" (however, it is only safe to say "to a degree") rather than the opposite of Heaven. Should it remain puzzling to so many that one's very own denial of God and all divine fortifications, hence consequently being permitted such, is utterly contradictory to Epicurus' rhetoric of a malevolent God? The existence of Hell is substantially a representation of not only the wrath but also proportionately the love of God; ultimately, he forces himself onto no individual in rejection of him and his great blessings. This is an absolute consistency with all the revealed properties of God.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Who are you to say that there is more than the universe or God is beyond space and time?"

Think outside the box? Indeed. But to add balance to that, one should not in the process forget what the inside of the box looks like as well. Those who are best at thinking outside the box do it not to puff themselves up, but to see how small they really are. As a contented fish in its fish tank appears to have a small, boring existence to us, imagine a larger, more perceptive kingdom (even by scientific taxonomy) to whom our contented existences may appear to be small and boring. This is where true creativity and massive perceptive abilities spawn a sense of intellectual humility; the kind which God adores.

For God to prove himself on demand, physically, would be a grave disappointment, and the strongest Christians should be considerably grateful that he chooses not to do so. The skeptic endlessly demands proof, yet God refuses to insult the true intelligence of man, the "6th sense", the chief quality, the acumen which distinguishes man from the rest of creation, faith.

In response to the opening rhetoric, I will raise the alternative, "Who are you to say that there is nothing more than the universe?" Would not a fish be a fool to assume that all existing entities exist within the fish tank merely because that is all that he can perceive? Imagine the reality of a fish, next, imagine the massive world that surrounds the fish tank. Now, recall our own reality and consider the massive universe that surrounds the earth. Fish have a much shorter lifespan than humans but are content having no perception beyond this, and are confined to a much smaller space but are content having no perception beyond this. In other words, we do exist beyond the fish's space and time as perceived by the fish and the fish alone.

The given premise is based on what we do know about the brain capacity of a fish. We know that animals "higher up" have more advanced cerebral cortices, such as humans and chimpanzees as opposed to frogs and fish. The level of brain complexity plays an important role as to what we are content with in our existences.

Again, suppose there is a kingdom (even by scientific taxonomy) far beyond us and our current perception who, on average, lives 10x longer, is 10x larger, has 10x more space on their planet, and is 10x smarter (more complex brains). In our cluelessness of this, we are perfectly content with our "small" existence, whereas from their perspective we are the "fish". This is also a touch on the saying "ignorance is bliss". It basically sums up the statement about the contentment of fish, and can be applied to most of the animal kingdom. Animals in the zoo can be depressed in their confinement and long to play in the open fields, however they are more intellectually complex than fish. Even higher on the intellectual scale, humans are certainly depressed when locked in, and we tend to want even more than open fields but also to travel.

Figuratively, how could one ever prove to a fish human reality, or better yet, how could one prove human reality to bacteria? It is a being far beyond the microscopic, bacterial perception. Other than the fact that it is incomprehensible to bacterial cognition, it would also be extremely difficult if on their own volition, "being" remained limited to their perception of being.
In comparing the universe to a fish tank, God would be much more great in size thus beyond our space and time having created such a massive universe.

Are there any defining factors that prove the human reality is existentially exempt from that of a fish's reality (but simply on a larger scale than fish)? One could respond under the notion that scientific perception defines "being", yet in that case, one is precisely exhibiting the aforementioned fish tank analogy. A fish conjecturing that the contents of its tank are all that exist because the contents of its tank are all that it can verify by means of its own analysis is in denial of acknowledging its limitations. One can believe that the fish is a fool when superior to its tiny existence, likewise, one is also truly analogous to the words of God, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'," (Psalms 14:1). In the same manner, God is superior to the human existence.
I want to note again that the analogy of fish in a fish tank is not meant to be taken literally but rather in a metaphorical sense. Having said that, if fish did have the mental capacity to either believe in a higher power or deny a higher power, and this belief varied among fish, it can figuratively correspond to that of humans on a less intellectual level. We know that fish have limited cognitive reasoning behind the things they physically see. This means that they either could or could not comprehend our existence, even after they see us through the tank, when consuming the food dropped into the tank. However, we have more advanced capabilities, such as the ability to reason, the ability to comprehend the vitality of faith; thus we can subsequently operate with more than physical senses. God tests, but he does not tempt. Indeed all of humanity would believe in God, although not necessarily love God, if he could physically see God waving from the heavens, but it is quite complimentary that God gives more credit to man, his creation, than to thoughtlessly drop food from the skies in order to be comprehended.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Physicalism's Hidden Exigency of Faith

Quite often does the radical physicalist postulate the "human perception = perception of all in existence" methodology, hence I wanted to focus on the phenomenal question, "Is there more than this life?" If one was to make this judgment according to his own dimensions, by the scientific method, he would have to go by what is known about this life in order to conclude another life, or lack thereof. Contrary to popular belief, the amount of strength for other existing realities or dimensions exceeds the amount of strength for this reality existing as the one and only reality.

Indeed it is faithful to merely assume multiple existences of such, however, assuming there is only one when the cause of one's own existence is not proven requires a great deal of faith and to an even higher degree. An orphan unaware of their biological parents would be very faithful to assume that they had no biological siblings when there is absolutely no declaration for the supposition. Conclusively, assuming whether or not this is the only reality is merely half the battle for both arguments, yet, as the orphan argument demonstrates, the opposing argument is the position founded upon ignorance.

Even if one did not believe in a creator, but rather any theoretical origin of the universe from either an accidental cause or absolutely nothing, there is nothing more to declare that the accident cannot happen in other instances into other universes apart from the current universe. The existence of the present reality, from either an accident or nothing, is a piece of evidence for the existence of other realities as there are no defined restrictions that determine such a chance singular. Apart from any chance-based theories, intelligent design is quite self-explanatory in one's considering of the potential existence of other dimensions.

Martin Heidegger's phenomenological assertion about death, or mortality, implies that "death does not come as an end"; however, if conclusively one is once nonexistent to this reality, yet he forms a state of being to this reality, how is it that he will someday become nonexistent to this reality as interpreted by biological science? Some might argue that imaginary pink unicorns are nonexistent to this reality, but provided is no evidence that they are existent in another. However, pink unicorns were not born into a conscious being of this known reality as humans were, hence those of being mysteriously cross this reality as unicorns do not. A tangibly existing thing, such as a conscious human, becomes a part of this reality, and passing through (from birth to death) is support for other realities. This is so because one does not have an immortal existence as defined by the properties of this life, yet one is indeed a being in itself that, apparently, moves into and from this life. Further provided is evidence that this universal reality is limited to and from specific properties that other local realities, such as humans, are capable of losing and/or gaining.

The only premise one has for the conclusion that the current reality is the one and only reality is based on the fact that one cannot consciously comprehend or perceive any other realities. For those who limit existence to perception, this is a contradiction because one cannot comprehend not existing in a reality of some sort. In other words, the human comprehension, in its incomprehension of not existing, inherently directs the mind to a future reality. Often used is the common notion, "Perceiving things is how we know they exist." In that case, and on the contrary, it is more so humanly logical to conclude that there are other realities by one's incomprehension of not being. Putting this idea to the test, one should try imagining not existing at all. It is impossible because there is a disposition thus imagining blindness, muteness, numbness, and deafness, which under such circumstances, would still be some form of existence no matter the combination. Human senses do not define existence; they merely detect certain properties of this universe. Because one cannot comprehend not existing beyond the current reality but will indeed move beyond it someday, by the common physicalist notion that human perception defines existence, one "perceives" that one can only move somewhere else rather than into nothingness.

Friday, March 13, 2009

"Why won't God just show himself!?"

Both theists and atheists must face that scientifically the existence of God cannot be "proven" from one person to another (yes spiritually, but not scientifically). I often say that I am a scientific agnostic and a spiritual theist. That is so because anything that hypothetically exists beyond the universe cannot be proven using the properties of the universe. It is what we are bound by as well as what we are scientifically limited to when acquiring facts; however, there can be evidence. Having created the universe, the creator must exist outside the universe without being bound by its properties, otherwise he (illogically) created himself in the process of creating the universe. Figuratively, I often describe the universe as a massive sphere which includes all of its properties: natural laws, materials, organisms, atmosphere, and its sequence of events (i.e. time), yet God exists beyond its boundaries. Consequently, by existing outside of time where the laws of cause and effect do not apply, God does not need a cause, nor is he made up of such properties we use to detect "being".

Not only is it more probable (though probability is, on the contrary, not always the dominant factor for an absolute justification), but the physical undetectability of God is necessary.
If he indeed showed himself in a more definitive manner, or according to our visual awareness (e.g. waving from the clouds on a golden sleigh, giant hands lifting mountains, etc.), a power so far beyond the universe suddenly interjecting the universe would demolish all in the vicinity [Richard Deem; God and Science]. This is justified by the very words of God, in Exodus 33:20, saying, "You cannot see my face, for no man can see me and live."

Simple examples tend to put seemingly great complexities into perspective. Imagine the power of a star resting billions of miles away. The light shines so brightly, it can still be seen regardless of its distance, but it is days old by the time it reaches our eyes. We know that human vision is harmed when staring into the closest star of all, the sun. The creator of substances as powerful as these must have a natural light far beyond any of the creation, including the power of the stars, therefore it is for our own good that we cannot see God in full form.
While physical intensity is an important factor, if made dominant a physical presence of God over spiritual presence, would not all reasoning behind human creation be rather futile? John 4:24 says, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." Because the utmost authority is a spiritual being, our limited, physical perception is a symbol of our existential deficiency without that authority. This is so because, ultimately, we are formed for the glorification of God rather than merely forcing him to task in order to satisfy the human nature of self-delusion; God extends beyond secular conventionalism.

But why call it "the human nature of self-delusion"? Our senses rely on our own cognition, which is not always a detector of absolute truth. Rhetorically speaking, of what purpose is glorification through creation if it has all been given with no realization of his spiritual superiority? Because God is holy, he does not sin nor does he drive us to sin, therefore, he cannot fuel such a disorderly universe. In order to gain an understanding of God, a man should first humble himself before God (Daniel 10:12), which is entirely different than living with a derisive expectation for signs or evidence. A common mistake we make is that we look for God in places where we ourselves wish to find him, yet even in the physical reality this is a complete failure. For example, if you lost your car keys, you would not search where you want to search, you would search where you must in order to find them.

There are some arguments, influenced by Greek philosopher Epicurus, that suggest God's "insensibility" to our physical perception is evidence for either an apathetic God or a malevolent God. The following is a quotation by Epicurus that is quite popular among many skeptics,
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" On the contrary, it more so signifies a God wanting closer, individual contact with the creation. According to the common analogy "man was created in the image of God" (Genesis 1:27), the validity of it is evident, in some cases, when one applies how a human would feel in a relationship as to how God would feel. We have better relationships with those who truly seek us rather than those sitting on the couch watching us move mountains trying to prove ourselves. It is fairly evident, however, by the biased human perspective, such as "make this cup of water float, then I will believe" or "give me a stack of money, then I will believe", we are often diverted from the supernatural perspective God has given us in order to comprehend his existence. This is why our very own common sense can be our worst of enemies, or as stated by Albert Einstein, "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."