Whose Science Is It?

One of the more amusing aspects of the whole God debate to me is the exclusive territory of science.  As if certain crowds have a lock on particular disciplines.

When studying the world around us, there are many different facets that can be taken into account.  And there are different theories and interpretations of the data.  But just because one world view doesn’t line up with your world view does not automatically mean that you have a lock on the interpretation of the data.

There actually is a science of Theology – Theo, of the Greek Theos or God, and ology, primarily of Latin origin for the study of.  Hence, the study of (or the Science of) God.

Theology is not Religion and not all religions have Theology at their base.  In the strictest sense of the term, Atheism is a religion.  Atheism is, in fact, a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.  And those beliefs hold that there is no existence of a God.

What is interesting then is that atheism (for the most part) tends to claim ownership of all of the realm of science.  The claim is that you cannot mix religion and science (particularly data and facts).  But that is the very thing that Atheism then tends to do.  To my amazement, it tends to do it to exclusion.

But Atheism, by its very definition has no Theology.  How can it?  It prescribes that there is no God.  And having no Theology, how can it then, evaluate any premises it may form, correctly concerning the existence of God?  In reality, it purports to establish fact based upon evidence it cannot support.

I do not need to prove the existence of God in order for him to exist.  God either exists or he does not.  But that does not mean that I cannot take a preponderance of the evidence and draw some conclusions one way or the other.

To say that I cannot infer the existence of God based upon science is preposterous.  My Theology is perfectly capable of forming hypotheses and theories based upon the observable universe around me.  And I should be able to determine which model the evidence better supports.

The Atheist may determine that the model better supports their particular world view, but that in no way gives them a lock on Science.  Science has neither conclusively proven nor dis-proven the existence of God.  Theists simply believe that the preponderance of the evidence more conclusively supports the existence of a God than not.

Typically (not always, but in most cases – at least in my experience), people want to argue Religion and not Theology.  But before you can argue Religion, you must first agree upon which Religion you are going to debate.  And there are many of them to debate, and not all equal at that.  Satanism is a Religion.  One might suppose that Satanist at least accept the existence of God since the very concept of Satan comes from God centered religions.  Perhaps not though.  There may be some Satanist that believe there is no other God other than Satan himself, in which case they still accept the existence of a God (albeit, in my world view, the wrong one).

Atheism is, in and of itself, a religion.  And if one is to undertake a religious debate, one must argue the merits of Atheism compared to other world religions.  However, if one wants to argue the existence of God, one should argue from a Theological standpoint.  Does the evidence better support a model for a God or for no God?  In my world view, the evidence is greatly in favor of a God.

Once one has determined in his or her own mind as to the existence of God, then the debate as to who or what that God may (or may not) be can take place.  At this point there are many religions that purport to have that answer.  I am satisfied with my aligned Religion (Christianity), but even within that there is a myriad of disparate thought.  I’ve drawn my own conclusions, and at times I am given to deep contemplation over a perceived belief.  But those have never altered my Theology.

At times I wonder why Atheists even want to debate their position.  Why would it matter?  If there is indeed no God, then where is the derived meaning in Life?  Apparently the Founding Fathers of the United States of America could find no other recourse for the inherent basic truths of life other than that of a Creator (God).  Their preponderance of the evidence led them to believe that a Creator endowed mankind (Human race) with inalienable rights.  If further evidence purports that there is no God, then it fails to establish any rights, liberties, or happiness other than cosmic chaos.  Indeed, even Dr. Richard Dawkins has stated that the appearance of Intelligent Design is actually an illusion of whatever naturally occurs in nature.  Meaning, that there is no meaning behind it all.

Actually, in my experience, what Atheists really want to debate is not Theology, they have none, since their minds are made up on that point, but rather religions.  Atheists want to have a religious debate because their own religion does not prescribe to what other world religions assert as a basis.

But even here, I do not believe it fair to lay exclusive hold to the realm of Science.  It is disingenuous to begin with, as if their religion is the only religion that could ever interpret scientific data.  But it also shuts down creativity and growth of the human race.  Exactly what they claim other religions do.

May I use Science (other Scientific Disciplines) to support my Theology?  Of course I may.  And if my interpretation of the data is different than yours, it does not mean that a differing world view owns the Science and therefore cannot consider my conclusions.  Neither does it mean that my conclusions are wrong or have necessarily been disproven.  It simply means that there are multiple interpretations of that data.

So whose Science is it anyway?  It is all of our Science.  We are all free to explore and discover and derive our own set of conclusions and beliefs as we learn and grow in life.  So don’t tell me I cannot mix Religion and Science, because at the point of my Theology I can.  Just the same as the Atheists already do.  The only difference is I actually encourage them to use Science to explore and to learn the mysteries of Life and the Universe.  Because I find that data supports my Theology.

Where Is My Faith?

Faith is a difficult thing.  It shouldn’t be, but it is.  Faith permeates our lives in every way imaginable and yet we struggle with it where it matters most.

Simply put, Faith is a belief that is held that is not based on a proof.  We utilize faith in our lives each and every day in all realms of our existence.

We are basically beings of three parts.  In the simplest description we are physical beings.  We have a body that has needs and interacts with the physical world.  We are also emotional, intellectual, and social beings.  We have a soul.  We experience joy, and sorrow.  And we are spiritual beings.  We are individuals, unique unto ourselves.  We are all one-of-a-kind instantiations of the human kind and we know who we are inside of our own being.

Within the physical world we exercise faith on an almost daily basis.  When we sit in a chair, when we get into a vehicle and start the engine, when we browse the Internet.  We do not prove these things to be working and reliable.  We simply accept them on faith.  We trust that the chair will hold up our weight when we sit in it.  Before we examine it, test it, or certify it as OK to sit in.  We trust that our vehicles will start.  That they will work without a mechanic testing the parts of the vehicle and confirming for us that it is OK.  We trust that the Internet is up, and working.  We do not call our Internet Service Provider and verify that everything is working before we attempt to bring up our FaceBook page, we simply believe that it will work.

Within our souls, our emotions, our intellect, we have faith in our relationships, our favorite pastimes, our challenges.  We trust that our spouses are faithful to us, and we trust ourselves to be faithful to them.  We trust our families, our neighbors, and our friends.  We believe in the humanity around us.  How many times I’ve been told by someone that they have a lot of faith (lower case) but not much Faith (upper case).

And we continue to have faith even when it is shattered within our lives.  When our car doesn’t start, or a chair breaks when we sit in it (causing us to fall), or when we find that our Internet connection really is down and we cannot get to our FaceBook page.  We do not lose hope in the physical world around us, rather we accept things and move on, still exercising our faith.

Within our souls we are constantly failed.  Spouses cheat on one another.  We are lied to.  We experience ridicule and scorn.  And yet we continue to go on, and we continue to have faith in humanity.

And yes, I know that anyone can be beaten down to the point of giving up or losing all hope.  Individuals may experience so many problems with a particular vehicle that they lose faith in it ever doing its job again.  We may be hurt by loved ones or friends so much that we give up on life and begin to believe it is us against the world.

But these are not the norm.  We label these cases as phobias or disorders.  We say that people become depressed or despondent and that their ability to function is impaired.  I am focusing on the general case here, the norm, what the average person experiences within their lives.  And that norm is one of exercising faith.

Why is it then, that when it comes to the faith that really matters, the one our world view is built on top of, the one that affects our Spirit (that which defines us individually), that we suddenly become dysfunctional?

Dr. Richard Dawkins has stated unequivocally that evolution is a fact.  A fact as sure as the sunrise or the sunset.  It is established and true.  When he knows perfectly well that it is not.  Evolution is a theory.  He may think it a good theory, he may even find parts of it to be reasonable and practicable.  But he knows it is not a fact.  He knows he cannot prove it, either scientifically, through a repeatable process, or otherwise.  No, he accepts it as fact based upon his faith in the improvable.

My world view accepts the existence of a Deity.  A supernatural being.  A God.  A world view I am perfectly willing to accept on Faith.  I believe there is just as much evidence for my world view as Dr. Dawkins seems to find for his.  Both world views are accepted upon faith, and yet their is a difference.

In Dr. Dawkins world view, my Faith is to be mocked, ridiculed, belittled.  He has stated as much.  My Faith cannot be taught in Public Schools, cannot be exercised within some Government spaces, and in many parts of the world is persecuted.  And yet the opposite world view, for many that hold it, is to be accepted as the only faith one may have.

Atheists that hold their particular world views are oblivious to the fact that they are actually strengthening my world view by their very attempts to discredit my Faith.

In my world view the testing of my Spiritual Faith works for good in my life.  It is the trials of my Faith that actually builds the foundation that my world view is built on and brings me through stronger and more resolved than ever before.

One might ask the question though, if your world view does not hold a Faith in God, what does the testing of your Faith gain you?  I would contend nothing.  How can it?  What could it possibly matter in the vastness of all eternity?

Another question that might be asked is why is it so important that the evolutionary faith triumph over a Faith in God?  Are they not both Spiritual Faith?  So why then is one taught as a foundational truth within our Public Schools while the other is deviously cast aside under the guise of Separation of Church and State?

Faith is hard.  I would contend that Faith in God is harder.  And given such, whose world view would you say has the better developed Faith?

The Words Mean What I Want Them To Mean When I Say Them

To paraphrase Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through The looking Glass.  Which is then completed though Alice’s reply:

“The question is, ” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”   “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty. “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Like Mr. Humpty Dumpty, we all want to be the master of words.  The problem is we need words in order to communicate.

Rush Limbaugh wrote a list of 35 Undeniable Truths as part of a newspaper article once.  In it he stated: “Words Mean Things

The highly technical folks that I am most privileged to work with have very strict definitions of terms that can, at times, be pretty unyielding.

Other friends and family that I have been around have been fairly loose with their words (and intended meanings).  We all want to be the master of words, but are we?

Several years ago I was at a dinner party with a group of friends.  One of the individuals there, an African American lady, arrived a little late and told a tale of being held up with some co-workers, and when she realized the time and where she needed to be, she told them “I be gone with a quickness.”  This statement or phrase apparently alarmed the rest of the people at the table (or the majority of them anyway, including the host and hostess), most of them white, although there were also some Asians there as well.

A rather involved discussion on the use of the Queen’s English promptly ensued.  Now I should probably add for clarity, that the individual who used the phrase was a highly educated official within the local School System.  And she stated that when she was with some friends, she spoke one way, and when she was with other friends, she spoke a different way.  The banter went back and forth as to what should be “good” spoken words, and what would be “bad” spoken words.  Everyone wanted to be the master of the words.

For the most part I sat there quietly throughout the dinner and enjoyed my meal and listened to the debate.  Towards the end of dinner, the hostess turned to me and said “Paul, you’ve been quiet the whole time.  What do you think?  Was that acceptable speech or not?

Here I was, put on the spot, in front of everybody at the dinner party.  I sat back and thought for a minute, and then (more or less) made the following statement (I’m sure this is paraphrased after so many years):

Words mean things, but they also DO things.  And what they do is to convey ideas.  They not only mean things, but they transfer that meaning from one individual to other individuals.  Words have morphed, transformed, dropped out of use, and been newly invented all throughout history.  But as long as the ideas conveyed by the individuals that use them, are understood by the individuals that receive them, then communication takes place and we all have understanding.  I understood what (and I named the individual here) meant when she used the phrase.

There was a moment of silence in the room before folks went back to, what was now, a much different conversation.  At the end of the evening, when it was time to go, and there were still a number of people at the party, I stood up and said “We be gone with a quickness!” to which everyone laughed and I got a high-five out of the owner of the phrase.

Words do mean things.  But we all also want to be the master of the words.  And whether we are those that parse every single syllable and use the strictest of dictionary definitions, or we are those that tend to be a little lose and artistic in our speech, the bottom line is that we intend to convey information with those words.

There are some words in use more and more today, that have traditionally been defined as offensive and foul language.  I am not quite sure when these words entered into our mainstream conversation and became acceptable for use, but I do know I never agreed to give up the mastery of those words.

If we randomly introduce curse words into our speech, what does that do to our intended communication?  Does it not convey the thought that we are always angry, always foul, and always incapable of expressing ourselves coherently and clearly?  I believe it does.

There are some words I just will not allow on this site.  No matter how well you think they convey your meaning.  If there are comments on my blog that contain (at least what traditionally used to be) foul language, I will remove that post.

But as far as today’s communications are concerned, perhaps if we all used a little less offensive language, and at the same time became a little less critical in our hearing, we would see beyond just the words that are used and connect with the intent being conveyed.

When we begin to use less offensive language with one another, and begin to listen a little more carefully to one another, we might find that true communication will begin to take place.

This does not mean we cannot be passionate in our communications.  Quite the contrary.  We may be very passionate, but at the same time very respectful.

Words.  They mean things.  AND: They DO things.  What do your words do?

Where Did The Void (Nothingness) Come From?

To be honest, I had developed a schedule of sorts for my blog.  I had intended to introduce, and comment on, a series of items that interest me within the topics of Life / Religion / Politics / Science / and Philosophy in some sort of loosely structured but coherent order.  But I am already violating that schedule.  I had also intended to blog about relevant topics of the day as they came up in news sources and general conversations with family and friends.

But as I write, things occur to me that I feel like ought to be addressed, and they would eventually come up anyway, so why not just deal with them now while they are staring me in the face?  Today is such a day.

A couple of days ago I mentioned Dr. Stephen Hawking and his latest book The Grand Design.  Dr. Hawking is a fascinating individual to me and he is a brilliant Physicist.  But I find his Theology to be greatly lacking.  In his second latest work he mentions some poignant questions that he himself acknowledges as deserving an answer.  I referenced some of those questions in my previous post.  Specifically:

“Why is there something rather than nothing?”
“Why do we exist?”
“Why this particular set of law and not some other?”

From this point he goes on to say:

“Some would claim the answer to these questions is that there is a God who chose to create the universe that way.  It is reasonable to ask who or what created the universe, but if the answer is God, then the question has merely been deflected to that of who created God.  In this view it is accepted that some entity exists that needs no creator, and that entity is called God.  We claim, however, that it is possible to answer these questions  purely within the realm of science, and with-out invoking any divine beings.”

(The Grand Design, pg. 164 – 165)  Dr. Hawking has spent a great deal of his works defining physical interactions based upon known laws and today’s understanding of their relationships with each other.  In The Grand Design, Dr. Hawking brilliantly ties a number of current scientific theory together to explain how something could literally come from nothing.  He does acknowledge that deist need only stop with whatever deity created the universe, but he wants to claim that the universe came from nothing on its own.  If it is fair for Dr. Hawking to ask the question “Who or what created God?” then I believe it only fair to ask “Who or what created nothingness?”

Before I get to that, allow me to point out that Dr. Hawking bases his work upon a vast amount of theory.  A lot of it is also hypothesis and conjecture.  I reject the definition of a principle, law, or doctrine as synonyms for theory.  A theory is just that, a theory.  It is not a principle, law, or doctrine.  It is not proven, and within its own definition it is recognized to be “commonly regarded as correct” but is in no way, shape, or form, known to be correct.  It is not proven, it is not necessarily repeatable, and it is not established as truth.

Dr. Hawking has to rest his theory (and theories) on many assumptions that we are only just beginning to explore and know little to nothing about.  Such theories as String Theory, The Big Bang, and Quantum Physics.  All of these Sciences are just what they claim to be, theories.  They are not concrete truths, rather they are a set of beliefs accepted on current observations (the keyword here is current – they are actually in flux as we learn new things each day).  Dr. Hawking accepts these things (as do many, many Scientists) based upon (dare I say it?) faith.  Literally a belief not based upon a proof.  He has no evidence to establish these things as true.  He accepts them based upon faith and is tainted by his own World View.

Indeed, within String Theory itself is the notion that there are a seemingly infinite numbers of possibilities (and occurrences of) physical laws and physical universes.  A totally unproven and unobserved phenomenon.  Given the current definition of String Theory and its principles, I fail to see how Dr. Hawking could not conceive of a scenario where the physical interactions of the universe actually created (or produced) god (a deity) that then used supernatural capabilities to recreate the process into what is observed today.

Dr. Hawking does a brilliant job of determining (mathematically) that something did indeed come from nothing as long as that nothing originally existed as both Matter and Anti-Matter (literally a positive – +1 and a negative – -1, which add up to zero, that then exploded into their respective parts.

However his zero, which is absolutely nothing (a void), only exits with the realm of something – matter and anti-matter).

One might beg the question as to where that nothingness came from.  Consider the fact that nothing (the vast emptiness of space), the void as it were, is actually as much a part of the physical universe as all of the real matter we can touch, taste, smell, feel, and experience.  We know it is cold, and yet it can be hot.  Light may travel in it and through it.  It allows gravity to work (to be true to its nature).  The emptiness of space is actually a part of the physical.

So where did the void come from?  Dr. Hawking simply accepts this on faith.  Exactly the same way I accept God on faith.  Dr. Hawking can no more explain the void and its apparent existence, than I can explain God.  It is based upon faith.  His faith just happens to be different than mine.

Isn’t it funny though that I don’t need to prove the existence of God.  But Dr. Hawking feels compelled to prove the non-existence of God.  In my world view the void is explained by creation.  God is not a physical being.  God created the physical, void included.  Dr. Hawking, for all his science and mathematics has yet to explain where the Zero, the nothingness came from to begin with and why there is so much of it out there.

To get something from nothing, you have to have nothing to begin with.  There has to be the spark of (in Dr. Hawking’s parlance) matter and anti-matter to create the -1 and the 1.

Perhaps the something and the nothing (all the physical) came from another, as yet, unknown source.  The Spiritual.  The something that exists outside of the physical.

And isn’t it interesting that Dr. Hawking will acknowledge an almost infinite number (for all practicable purposes what we would perceive as infinite) of different scenarios of physical laws and physical universes, except for one occurrence and one occurrence only.  The existence of a God.  I am to accept that there may be billions upon billions of different quantum harmonics all over the physical creation, creating a plethora of different possibilities, but I am not to accept that even one of those could have a God.

Find the void, and then step out of it, out of the physical, and into the other side, and there you will find God.

 

Caught My Attention …

I was definitely NOT thinking about blogging this today – but I was double blind sided on the way home and I have not been able to get it off my mind since.

What was I blind sided by?  Car emblems.  You know, those magnetic, chrome, cute and witty, little flashy things people like to stick all over their cars (but mainly on the trunk or rear bumper).

So here I am on my way home and a warning light on my dash tells me I need gas.  So I head to the gas station, but as I get into the turn lane to turn into the station, another car pulls in front of me.  And that is when I noticed it, the emblem on the back.  This one:

Evolve_Fish

 

 

 

And I immediately thought, that is what the driver of that car should do, evolve.  Evolve into a caring, thinking, rational human being.  But perhaps I was being a little harsh.  I need to exercise some grace.

So I turned into the station and pulled up to the pump, but before I could get out of the car, I noticed the car at the pump in front of me also had a car emblem on the back hatch of the vehicle.  This one:

Darwin_Fish

 

 

 

 

 

Now our area of the city has about 22,000 residents according to the 2010 census, and only a few of those actually have emblems on their vehicles.  Or to state that a little more accurately, it has been my observation, driving around town, that a small percentage of the vehicles have emblems on them (I contend that my Car/Emblem observation is at least as accurate as Global Climate Change Observations – probably much more so).

And my not-so-scientific, really rough estimate, totally unregulated observations (Hey!  Exactly like the Global Climate Change data!) have detected that even fewer of the emblems that are on vehicles, are actually emblems promoting Evolution.  But those apparently do.

And seeing these back-to-back, in the span of just a few minutes, on two totally different vehicles, of which my keen Global Climate Change like data collection abilities discerned had absolutely nothing to do with each other, over powered my attention and stuck with me all the way home and literally forced me to blog about them tonight (OK, so maybe that last part is a slight exaggeration, but trust me, those emblems have been a really, really strong image in my mind this evening).

So here is the thing about those particular icons.  It is not that I don’t want people to have free speech, I do.  It is not that I don’t think that people shouldn’t be able to express themselves though different means, I do.  It is not even that I am offended or put off by people that drive around with those emblems on their vehicles, I am not.

What is of amazement to me about people that drive around with those particular emblems on their vehicles is that they are not true to their ideals and they probably don’t even know it.

Consider that the vast majority of folks that drive around with those emblems on their vehicles are probably not Scientist, Teachers, or Engineers.  I do not know either of the individuals driving the vehicles I found myself behind this afternoon.  And I may be totally wrong, but I would guess that neither one of them could properly define evolution or articulate Darwin’s theories.  But even if I am wrong about those two individuals, it is almost a sure thing that the vast majority of folks that have those on their vehicles could not properly and accurately describe the Science and/or Philosophy they represent.

What is worse, the individuals most likely could not logically step through the conception of either of those two emblems.  And that is where the real tragedy comes in.

Think about it.  What is the base foundation of both emblems?  An outline of a fish.  The same fish outline that has been used as a Christian symbol for hundreds of years.  Early Christians may have co-opted the symbol from the use of the day, but that use has died out and is no longer recognized today.  And I doubt that the pagan use of the symbol to represent fertility drew its roots from what the current atheistic crowd is attempting to use it for.

Rather early Christians transformed the use of the fish symbol and applied meaning drawn directly from their faith: Matthew 4:18 – 20.  They transformed the symbol for their own use and most likely did not denigrate or ridicule its previous use.

But here, in the forms used today, we have the symbol used to clearly demean, ridicule, poke fun at, or judge harshly, the currently accepted meaning as we know it.

And it is targeted as well.  It is targeted at one particular group, one particular religion.  While you will find Jewish religious symbols, Muslim religious symbols, Hindu religious symbols, Buddhist religious symbols, etc. altered in a humorous or sharply biting way, you will not see those to the extent of the Christian fish nor in this particular form.  No, these are used in a form and to an extent as to make them bigoted and prejudiced.

Now you may find it shocking that I would draw that conclusion, but clearly, the fabrication of the evolutionary folks is to:

(1) Co-opt the symbol.  They start with the base Christian symbol.  One might ask why?  Can they not come up with a symbol of their own?  Can they not convey their message across a wide audience through their own branding?  If not, why not?

(2) Denigrate and ridicule the symbol.  They clearly alter the symbol in such a way as to mock, or look down upon the previous use (and users) of the symbol.  The symbol they use is a mightier than thou symbol.  It is a form meant to shame the use from which they co-opted it.  One might ask the question: Can they not convey their message in a reasonable, logical, form without stooping to ridicule and mockery?  (That is a rhetorical question).

(3) Target their use of the symbol.  As I mentioned, while you can find some example of other religious symbols altered in similar manners meant to mock, they are very few and far between and you will hardly ever find this particular symbol modification amongst other groups.  It is targeted in a laser like focus on Christians.  Not Jews, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or Hindus, etc.  But Christians are the ones that specifically bear the brunt of their ridicule.

Obviously that is utterly intolerant of anyone’s belief other than their own.  Thus bigoted.  Thus I stand by my conclusion.

Oh, but wait-a-minute.  Christians are bigoted as well, right?

Well, not necessarily in the use of the symbol.  First of all, Christians haven’t denigrated the symbol for their own use and with the purpose of ridicule of others.  Sure, Christians may wear their Faith on their sleeve, but remember, in their World View, people are going to die and spend eternity in hell.  And since they care about their fellow man, they need to share the good news (Gospel) with others.

Contrast that with the evolutionary viewpoint.  One might ask why they even care (obviously they don’t care when it comes to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.)?  Why in the world would an evolutionist care about the fish symbol on a Christians car?

In their world view there is no heaven, and there is no hell.  It shouldn’t matter what others think, they are just going to die and go away.  What is it that simply consumes them about the Christian World View and no other?

Secondly, Christians do not use the symbol in a mocking or a way meant to ridicule others.  They did not denigrate the symbol in any way shape or form.  Others seeing the Christian use of the symbol would not be offended (reference the first century use of the symbol).  They do use the symbol to identify themselves as members of a particular group (Christians) and to identify themselves to other members of that same group.

And once again, one might ask the question as to why this bothers the evolutionary crowd so much?  Why should they even care?  They are all going to pass away one day and (according to their World View) never, ever know the difference one way or the other.  Why they will probably be forgotten in a couple of hundred years and not even those left will care one way or the other as to the impacts of the symbol use.

One form and use of the Christian fish symbol is out of love, while the other form is out of hate.  And don’t tell me it is a form of education or correction.  Because if that is the way you educate, I certainly don’t want what you are teaching (and neither will most other people as well).

Perhaps if we all considered the symbols in our lives a little more carefully, the ones that bring us together, and the ones meant to divide, and we were all a little more tolerant of each others symbols, then we might have a little better communication and perhaps a little more understanding in our world today.

LRPSP

LRPSP. com has been up for over a week now and I thought I’d step back and provide some foundation for the categories, my biases, and the general discussions.  The About page provides an overview of the Blog, however I thought that over time a little more detail might be provided.  This is a short introduction.

The pillars of the site – Life / Religion / Politics / Science / Philosophy are the foundations we exist upon.  I have collapsed some of the categories for the sake of a short, catchy URL (at least I hope it is catchy), but for the most part the things that make up our world and make us who we are fit into these categories.  They are also the categories where the most passionate debates come from.  These are the discussions about who we are, how did we get here, why are we here, where are we going, what are we supposed to be doing, and what does it all mean?

if you were to look at an apologetics course such as The Truth Project – hosted at Focus On The Family you will find pretty much the same core of pillars.  These pillars are also where apologists such as Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Dr. Del Tackett, or Josh McDowell might build their cases on.

I am nowhere near as talented as either one of these three individuals, or others like them, but I do have an understanding of the basics, and I enjoy a heart-to-heart conversation.  And I’d like to invite anyone and everyone to join in the conversations.  Especially those that are dissenters, such as these folks that obviously take issue with Josh McDowell’s book Evidence That Demands A Verdict.

Of course this is a family oriented site so the rules are somewhat strict.  Of course that doesn’t mean we cannot have adult discussions from time-to-time, but it does mean that a certain level of civility and a language code will be insisted upon.

The pillars cover the following:

Life– Everything that animates us that we experience, know, and deal with on a day-to-day basis.  Life covers the physical, our bodies, our world and our interactions with it, our souls, our emotions, thoughts, and what makes us laugh, what makes us cry.  Life covers all the unique characteristics that make you – you and me – me.  These could be hobbies, sports, interests, studies, jobs, interactions, or anything else that makes us the unique creations we are.

Religion– Everything within the Spiritual world and our connection with God.  Religion may encompass Theology, our innermost selves, Heaven, Hell, Angels, Demons, and all things of a Devine nature.

Politics– Would cover our Governments, our laws, things that govern our social interactions, or even the application, adjudication, or interpretation of those laws.  Governments (and thus politics) do not necessarily exist at the Capitol buildings and no where else.  They generally permeate our entire lives.  Homeowners Associations are a form of Governance (and are generally found to be the bottom rung of government).  However, Politics may even extend into the home and the family structure.

Science– Is all the sciences.  Biology, Sociology, Anthropology, Archaeology, Geography, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, etc.  the Sciences are important because they facilitate our discovery and our understanding of the world around us.

Philosophy– Our Philosophies are what define and establish our World Views.  They help shape how we see things and through what colored lenses we interpret things.

Obviously by now, if you have followed any of my timeline, or read my blog posts from the beginning, you might surmise that my World View encompasses a God.  I believe Theology (I just grouped this under Religion) is the foundational study of all.  It is the foundation upon which everything else is built.

It should be clear by now that my Theological Foundation is the ground floor that all other pillars sit upon.

And I would like to point out that all great minds start out here (not that I am saying that I am a great mind, but rather that I am a good student and have learned from them).

Even amongst our high level contemporary thinkers, Dr. Richard Dawkins, Dr. Richard Carrier, Dr. Stephen Hawking, and (of course) Dr. Ravi Zacharias, and Dr. Del Tackett, all of these start with Theology.

What is it that consumes Dr. Dawkins completely?  Why it is to disprove the existence of God.  Dr. Stephen Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design, states “It is reasonable to ask who or what created the universe, but if the answer is God, then the question has merely been deflected to that of who created God.” (The Grand Design, pg. 165, 1st paragraph).  Dr. Carrier is certainly consumed by Christians (if not God), see part of his talk at Skepticon 3 (or just search YouTube for him).  All of these individuals are consumed with Theology, the study of God.  Granted, their study intends to disprove the existence of God, but you cannot disprove that which you do not study.

Clearly all great minds agree that Theology is foundational to any other study we may pursue.  It provides us insight into other studies and (as Dr. Hawking points out in his book on pg. 164), it is a necessary study to answer the questions: “Why is there something rather than nothing?  Why do we exist?  Why this particular set of law and not some other?” just before he launches into a Theological discussion of God.

But I hope you don’t think all of my Blog discussions will be some boring, unintelligible diatribe about Religion, or Politics, or Philosophy, or Science.  No, I’d like to discuss the fun parts, the sad parts, and the parts of life that interest you as well.

It is sincerely my hope you will see the importance and value of these pillars, and that they will help  guide your input, but if not, don’t worry about it.  Either read for fun, or join in to share you opinion.

But let’s have a conversation about: Life/Religion/Politics/Science/Philosophy!

Stacking The Data

When you analyze things in life you have to be very careful not to allow your world view to stack the data in your favor.  This is extremely difficult to do.  People (humans) have a natural tendency to want things to go their way.  I know I struggle with this constantly.  People just want to be right within their own world.

Global Climate Change Scientists were discovered to be doing this very thing in 2009.  A fudge factor in code, is a way of stacking the data in order to help influence results to turn out the way you think they should.

One needs to be extremely careful as well to not believe they’ve seen all the data.  I believe most of us (at least those of any years of maturity) have heard someone say:

“At my age I’ve seen it all.”

I always want to say “Really?  Because God is INFINITE.  In ALL directions.  Which means he is infinitely big and infinitely small.  Infinitely loud and infinitely quite.  Infinitely colorful and infinitely monochrome.  God is more than we can possibly imagine, more than we can fathom, more than we can ever possibly know.  And you have seen it all?  I think not.”  We can spend an infinite amount of lifetimes and never fathom the depths of an infinite God.

King Solomon put it this way in Ecclesiastes 8:16 – 17 pointing out that a wise man may think he knows the works of God, only to find out that he does not.

Jesus Christ himself said that we must be humble like children in Matthew 18:2-4.  I believe he made this particular comparison because children are mostly full of wonderment.  They are growing, exploring, learning, discovering, depending, needing, wanting, and trusting.  As we get older we become wise and our wisdom leads us to be less dependent, less needy, wanting more than we need, less trusting, and growing less, exploring less, learning less, and discovering less.  We are no longer dependent upon God, but rather upon ourselves and we give God a call whenever we think we need him (which is never because we are certainly wise enough to figure our own way out of situations).

Do not ever think you have seen it all, because God has more than your lifetime can fill that he wants to show you.

And thus, having not seen it all, be careful as to how you try and stack the data from what you have seen and do know.

We all have to make choices in life.  And we are all responsible for those decisions and there are consequences to what we do.  But we do have a choice in how we analyze the data.

When you leave God out of the picture, you stack the data to influence your particular world view.  When you become humble, like a child, you begin to realize and understand the incredible gifts of knowledge that God has blessed you with.  You want to know him more, you want to explore, you realize how little you have and you want more.

Funny thing about data analysis, I may generally interpret the data to support any particular view I have.  I believe Weather Scientists the world over are doing just that today.  They couldn’t possibly interpret the data in an unbiased way at this point because they have stacked the data so heavily in their favor, they have tainted the data pool beyond the point of recovery.

There is one area though where the data will always be sound and firm.  There is one area where you cannot stack the data, where the data cannot be falsely interpreted, and where conclusions will always be validated.

And that area of study is with God.  There is a catch though, God may only be accepted on Faith and not by Sight.  Yes, that is disconcerting to some.  Some are screaming right now that Faith is not Science.  And yet Science exercises faith each and every day.

When we seek after God, with all our heart, and with all our strength, and with all our mind, and with all our soul, he will reveal himself to us.  Because he is God.  God actually wants us to discover him, to explore him, to know him.  And thus he will ensure that any who truly seek after him as a child in wonderment, they will find him.

Those that say there is no God and that they have never found God or evidence of God, have simply stacked the data.  They have never truly sought after God to begin with.  They have been loading up all their data and applying their fudge factors to the data to get it to say what they want it to say.

I’d like to encourage us all (myself included) to start exploring the riches of God today as if we know absolutely nothing about him.  It would be great if we all became little children and all gazed at the world in wonderment once again.  It would be great if we all stopped believing in how wise we are, and how experienced we are, and how much data we’ve amassed over our lifetimes.

If we simply stopped stacking the data in our lives, let go of our biases driven by our world views, and began exploring things without an agenda, who knows the types of changes we could really see effected in the world around us?

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Even as the Seattle Seahawks celebrated their big win the Stock Market took a dive.  There are winners and there are losers in life, but it is not always a zero sum game.

In Matthew 5:3 Jesus Christ said that the poor in spirit have the Kingdom of Heaven.

The word poor used here means destitute, totally without means, and without ability to gain anything on ones own.  It literally means the poorest of the poor.

The word Spirit used here is breath or wind.  It is the very breath of life.  It means the very essence of life and refers to the innermost person.  It is what make you, you.

Jesus Christ says that those destitute in their very being have the Kingdom of Heaven.  They possess the Kingdom of Heaven.  Theirs IS, the Kingdom of Heaven.

The world does not usually equate being poor with being rich.  But in God’s plan it is totally necessary.  It all hinges upon how you approach God.

If you approach God rich in Spirit, wealthy, and self-sufficient, there is nothing God can do for you.  You stand on your own and you do not truly need what God has to offer.

But when you approach God poor, and destitute, and truly in need, in your innermost being, God has the riches of Heaven itself ready to make you rich.  When you are poor, God is ready and able to make you rich.  When you are rich, before God you think you do not need God and do not seek him out.

And it is your Spirit, your very breath of life that you are poor in.  Try going a week, a month, several months, or a year without taking a breath.  You constantly need to breath.  You must replenish the oxygen in your body through breathing.  And that is exactly how God wants you to approach him, constantly in need, and always desiring replenishment.

God’s infinite riches are available, but only those who are in the greatest need, only those gasping for Spiritual Breath, those who are truly poor in Spirit, will be the ones to seek him out.  And they will find that theirs IS the Kingdom of Heaven.  Presently, and with great resources to supply all your needs.

Whether a winner or a loser in sports, or a winner or a loser in the Stock Market, or a winner or a loser in anything else in life, you cannot possess the Kingdom of Heaven unless you are poor in Spirit.

Win or lose in this life, in this world, in the present game, there is a greater gift to be gained, the gift of the Kingdom of Heaven.

So the question becomes, How is your spiritual wealth?  Because the wealth of your Spirit will determine your Kingdom health.  And that truly is the greatest riches of all.

The Big Game

Here we are and it is Super Bowl Sunday and most of America is excited about the big game.  Most people that are excited about the game are cheering for their favorite team to win.

I am cheering for the Seattle Seahawks to take home the trophy.  Not that I have any particular ties to Seattle, Washington although Microsoft, Inc. is headquartered near there and a co-worker at another company went to work for them and encouraged me to do the same.  I thought better of it at the time.

However neither do I have any particular tie or rivalry with the Denver Broncos although Denver is a couple of hours north of Colorado Springs, Colorado where I actually did have a firm offer from a company that I turned down and ended up in Richmond, Virginia instead.  Denver, CO might have had another appeal in that Seymour Cray had moved there and was doing some exciting work with bio-molecular memory.  Sadly, he died in an automobile accident a few years before I had the opportunity to move there.

No, I am looking for a Seattle Seahawks win simply because in conversation with my cousin I discovered he was cheering for the Denver Broncos and I couldn’t possibly let that stand, now could I?  I had picked the Seattle Seahawks as a favorite for the Super Bowl rather early on in the season though.  And everyone likes to pick a winner.  It doesn’t hurt that my neighbors a couple of streets up (whom we will be watching the big game with) are from Denver and are cheering for the Broncos.  A little friendly rivalry will make the game all the more exciting.  As for my cousin, we have a bet (a gentleman’s bet between family members) for some Rocky Patel Cigars.  Specifically three Rocky Patel Edge cigars.  Winner take all, no spread on the points.  My cousin is not a cigar smoker so I’m not sure what he was thinking.  If he wins, he’ll probably just turn around and send them back to me for my birthday.

As an amusing aside, someone at work did point out to me that both states that have now legalized the recreational use of Marijuana are the two states that are sending teams to the Super Bowl.  I’m not sure what that means other than the fact that fans in both states are going to wake up tomorrow morning wondering if their team won or not.  Of course I suppose the same could be said for alcohol use, but that is a thought for another time.

No, as I was saying, I turned down the job offer in Colorado Springs and took one in Richmond, VA where a few years later I had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Terry McAulay who is the referee in today’s big game.  You can find Terry’s career stats here.  Terry is also a graduate of Louisiana State University where my sister is a College Professor today.  It is interesting how choices in life work and how things tie together.

Thanks for wading through my past life choices.  If you’ve made it this far and I still have your attention, what I wanted to get to was the Big Game.  And by that I mean the Big Game of Life.  Sure the Super Bowl is exciting, however we all have the opportunity to play in the most exciting arena of all each and every day.  And that is the arena of Life.

When I was in grade school I was an avid reader.  One of the most impressionable books I remember reading is Get in the Game by Bill Glass.  Bill Glass was a Defensive End for the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns.  Bill wrote a book about his NFL career, but more importantly he wrote a book about the game of Life.

His point in the book was you can never win the game if you never play the game.  Many people will complain about never having the opportunity to play.  And Bill talked about that in the book as well.  He pointed out all the players in the NFL that sat on the bench and never took the field.  But they were IN the game.  They went to practice, they worked hard, they were with the team, and they were there, ready to play should the coach decide to put them in.

In Matthew 25:14-29 Jesus Christ likens God’s Kingdom to a rich ruler who entrusts his talents to his servants while he is away.  When he returns, the servant he is angry with is the one who did nothing with the talent he was entrusted with.

We are all entrusted with talent in life.  We did not necessarily get to choose which talents we were given.  However we are all responsible for the talents we have.  And we cannot do anything with those talents unless we get in the game.  This is primarily one of the reasons I started this blog.  Because win or lose, I at least want to be found to be in the game.

I don’t know if your team will win or lose today.  I hope my team does.  I don’t even know if you have chosen a team or if you even care about the game.  What I do know is we are all responsible for the Game of Life.  And there will come a day of reckoning when we all have to give an accounting for the talents we’ve been entrusted with.  And unless you Get in the Game, you may have a hard time with the coach.

When is a Day not a Day?

Sometimes my musings are current and other times they are reflective.  And thus, at points, my Blog may come across as a little random or disjointed.  My apologies, but at times I just start thinking about things that leads me down a rabbit hole.

Today is one such day.  If you and I were having a general conversation about Life and Religion, we might go through several topics and levels before arriving at the Creation story in Genesis within the Bible.  Furthermore, we might then have several discussions about Creation vs. Evolution, and the question might come up “Could God have used evolution to create the world?”  There are thousands, nay millions of Christians today that say they believe in God, they believe in the Bible, they believe the Creation story, BUT … Whoa!  What “but“?  I thought you believed?  Yeah, but what about Science?  What about the allegorical nature of the story?  What about … and fill in whatever questioning nature you wish to throw in here.

Well what about them?  I love a good challenge, unfortunately I am human and can only deal with these things one at a time.  So at another time I hope to come back and discuss these things.  For now, I’ll concede that there are Christian’s (lots and lots of them) who ask the question about Evolution and then try and force fit it into their understanding of the story of Genesis.  There are two general schools of thought on this.  The first is that all of that Evolutionary stuff happened before Genesis 1:1.  All of the Big Bang stuff, the formation of the Earth, the Dinosaurs, etc. all happened prior to Genesis 1:1 and the Bible simply picks up the story there.  That is one discussion.  The second school of thought is that all of the Evolutionary stuff happened within the first chapter of Genesis.  Genesis, with a keen eye toward brevity, compressed about 4.5 billion years of history into the first chapter and then picked up where the story gets to be really interesting.  It is this second school of thought on Genesis I’d like to consider today.

The people that accept this school of thought modify and adjust their world view in order to mash two competing philosophies together.  Creation and Evolution.  And generally, the way they do this is to redefine a day.

Here is the basic line of reasoning.  Genesis Chapter 1 lays out several things happening on day boundaries.  In order to fit hundreds of millions of years into a day, our day detractors will point out that a day is a thousand years to the Lord.  They find this in a couple of different places.  One might be Psalm 90:4 and the other is 2 Peter 3:8.  It all comes down to the Hebrew word yom (pronounced yome) and the debate as to whether we are talking about an age (as in a period of time – the Medieval Age) or an actual 24 hour day.

So here we are, Genesis Chapter 1 verse 1 and God is starting to Create.  And as God creates, we draw to the close of the first day (Verse 5).  And I will point out to our day detractors at this point that all Hebrew scholars agree that when we see the word yom bounded by Evening (ereb) and Morning (boqer) that the definition is one 24 hour day.  And in an absolute amazing disregard for logic and fact, our day detractors will brush away what the Scripture is telling them and insert their own reality as it matches up with their already defined world view.

OK, so the Bible very clearly says the Evening (ereb), which is indisputably sunset or the end of the day.  And the Morning (boqer), which is indisputably sunrise or the beginning of the day, and we are left with a bounded 24 hour period or one day.  Thus yom, in this instance, must be referring to a 24 hour day and not an age.  And while many scholars will agree with this we still have our day detractors.

So my question then becomes, when is a day not a day?  I mean I need to know what the parameters are so that I may interpret the Bible correctly.  So, please tell me:

Genesis 1:14 – God defines seasons, days (yom – plural), and years.  An age, or a 24 hour day?

Genesis 1:16 – God sets lights to rule the day (yom) and the night.  An age, or a 24 hour day?

Genesis 2:17 – In the day (yom) that Adam/Eve eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they shall surely die.  An age, or a 24 hour day?

Allow me to compress this a little bit: Genesis 3:8, Genesis 3:14, Genesis 3:17, Genesis 4:14, Genesis 5:1, Genesis 5:2, Genesis 5:4, Genesis 5:5, Genesis 5:8, Genesis 5:11 …

Did Noah wait 40 days before opening the window of the  the Ark?  Was Jonah in the belly of the fish for 3 days?  Did Jesus Christ spend 40 days in the wilderness, 3 days in the tomb?  When in the world is a day not a day?

Amazingly enough, our day detractors will define other days as a 24 hour period of one rotation of the Earth.  Just not the days they need to modify to validate their world view.  The two verses I marked in red above, refer to the Creation of Adam and Eve and the day thereof.  I suppose our day detractors might want to make those an age so that it fits their world view (man Evolved over millions of years) but then Adam immediately lives 130 years (consisting of 24 hour days) in Verse 3.

Are you selective with a day being a day?  I believe there are two problems with redefining things to be something they are not.  The first is it is intellectually dishonest.  When you accept this fallacy you bring any real definition into question.  As in “What did you mean by that?”  And then second is you fit things into your world view, instead of accepting them for what they are, and you miss the truth and wonder before you.

Why not try letting a Day be a Day?  It might just open up a whole new world of freedom to you.  And it might also expose the miracles of God in a much more substantial light.

The discussions that matter.

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