And What of Nostalgia?

Well here it is.  New Years Day 2015 (obviously using the Gregorian Calendar.  Those who adhere to the Chinese Calendar, or possibly other calendars, may not have crossed the Year boundary as of yet.  But that is OK because it is not WHEN the boundary occurs but rather WHAT those boundaries in our lives are.)  Another Year boundary has come and gone.  The New Year is here and the old year has passed away.  The New Year is faced with unknowns, hopes, fears, and possibly resolutions.  While the old year passes away with reminiscence, fond memories, regrets, sadness, and joy.  And people all over the world are suddenly filled with a sense of nostalgia.

A wise man of my youth, Dr. Joseph Boatwright, once told me that in living my life I should employ the same practices as that of driving a car.  When you drive a car you focus mainly on where you are going and only fleetingly on where you have been.  The driver spends the majority of their time looking out the windshield of the car at the road ahead of them, attempting to ascertain hazards, obstacles, and the best possible path to take.  The wise driver then glances into the rear view mirror occasionally to see where they have been and what may lay behind them.  And indeed I have tried to practice this in my life.  And it has not been all that difficult (and I’m not saying I’m a good driver mind you, just because you can successfully guide your vehicle down the road does not mean you are ready for the race track) because I am not all that nostalgic a person.  But even the staunches of us tend to lean towards even small feelings of nostalgia this time of year.

And why not?  We are permeated with the thoughts, images, sounds, and reminiscence of those who are nostalgic at this time of year.  The thought of the Year In Review overwhelms us and we are caught up in the moment and wonderment of those around us.

For the Atheist this must be an absolutely bitter-sweet moment.  The Atheist can never really draw any purpose out of life.  Not if they are intellectually honest with themselves anyway.  If the Atheist is really and truly honest with themselves (and with others) they should come to the conclusion that any real, lasting legacy will one day simply vanish into obscurity and that when it does, there will be no one left to care or to watch the particles of cosmic dust blow away.  So the Atheist, in a very real since is simply gratifying a need they find themselves faced with at a particular moment in time.  Just another process playing out in the great big cosmos of bumper particles (we are all just atoms, molecules, elements, – name your article of breakdown – that are smashing into each other as we make our way out from the center of the Big Bang).

But what about the Theist?  The Theist does the same thing, however their world view is governed by a Creator, a God.  One whom, they believe, will perpetually carry on their Spirit (their very essence of life) forever and ever into eternity.  But the question is still there.  In the vast stretches of time, in the eons of eternity, will anyone care one wit what occurred in the year 2014 or will anyone even remember?  And why in the world would it even be important.

Faced with the vastness of time, given our failing memories, the occurrences of one year pale and become insignificant and we tend to treat them with less importance.  How soon we forget too.  The further into the future we drive, the less important the things of the past become.  Consider World War II for example.  Ending in 1945, just a scant sixty-nine years ago, and encompassing the globe, every person alive today should have a parent or a grandparent that was impacted by this global event.  But how many people alive today under the age of twenty really feel impacted by that event?  And even though there  are those of you out there right now shouting at your computer screens “Me!  Me!  My life is greatly impacted by the events of the great war!” what if I suddenly changed my example to World War I?  Now a mere one-hundred years past and a generation plus, and those that are under twenty feel like it is something of a distant memory.

And yet at the moment of the New Year, for that brief glimmer of time, all of us to one extent or another are inexplicitly filled with a sense of nostalgia.  We all tend to become sentimental mushes at the turn of the New Year.  And one might wonder why?  Where does this come from and should we ignore it or is it even important?

Actually the Bible offers great evidence that what lies behind us is important and will impact our future.  In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus recounts an event of a certain rich man and a beggar named Lazarus.  In the torments of Hell, the rich man spies Lazarus afar off with Abraham (verse 23).  And he cries out to Abraham with a request that Lazarus be allowed to dip his finger in water and allow the drops of water to fall on his tongue (he wanted a cold drink of water).  Most people gloss over Abraham’s response, but the first word is so telling and the second word so impactful.  Abraham said “Son, remember …” (verse 25).  He called the rich man “Son”.  He acknowledged him as part of his family!  And he asked him to “remember” those events in his life on earth.  Abraham asked a man in Hell to be nostalgic for a moment and consider why he was in the circumstances he was in.

So what of nostalgia?  Well while I would recommend us all to lead full and balanced lives, at this time of year it might just be appropriate to, in the words of the Poet Robert Burns, who wrote the poem Auld Lang Syne, answer the rhetorical question:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and days of long ago? (auld lang syne)

with a resounding No! and encourage us all to take a moment to glance into the rear view mirror of our lives and laugh, cry, reminisce, but most importantly to remember what lies behind in 2014.  Lest we end up like the rich man with Father Abraham from Heaven suggesting that we remember.

Wishing All of You a very Happy New Year!

Are You the Salt of the Earth?

Salt (NaCl), specifically sodium chloride, or common table salt, is a most useful compound.  It is quite common (and necessary) in all cultures and in everyone’s daily lives.  It can be used for many different purposes.  One of the most common purposes that the vast majority of people would be familiar with is as a seasoning for food.  Indeed, salt is the first example listed in most English dictionary definitions of seasoning.  Salt also has preservative capabilities and will keep things fresh for long periods of time.  This is because of salts dehydrating property.  When salt comes into contact with bacteria it will absorb water through the cell walls of the bacteria depriving it of the water it needs to survive (as explained in this Chemistry.com article).  Salt may also be used for certain healing purposes and has been used as a healing agent for sick and injured people for centuries, according to this EHow.com article, and has great medical benefits according to this LiveStrong.com article.  By-the-way, for this particular discussion I am not authenticating the accuracy of these sites.  I am proceeding on the assumption that we may all agree that salt has been recognized and used as a healing agent for many centuries and continues to be used as such today.  These links are provided as examples only.  If you want to debate the specifics of salt as a healing agent, that will have to be a separate discussion.

Salt also has a Theological connotation, specifically a Biblical one (as you might have surmised from the title of today’s post).  Most Christians, and quite a few other folks are familiar with at least this specific verse from the Sermon on the Mount (containing the Beatitudes).  Specifically, Jesus, teaching his disciples, said that they were the salt of the Earth.  But what was Jesus saying, exactly, when he said his disciples were the salt of the Earth?

I know many Christians that believe he meant that his disciples are to be the preserving agent of the Earth (in this case Society).  Indeed, I have heard this preached from the pulpits in churches before.  I know some Christians that believe he meant his disciples are to be the healing agent of the Earth (Society).  Very seldom do you hear Christians talk as if they believe he meant that his disciples are to be the seasoning of the Earth (Society).

The problem is in exactly how you interpret this passage because that is what will govern your actions and shape your interactions with others.  As another aside here, not only Christians may benefit from these principles, even though Jesus specifically said HIS disciples are the salt of the Earth, everyone can learn and apply a lesson to their lives here.

So how do we interpret Jesus’ words here?  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon tells us that the word salt used here specifically refers to those saline (salty) compounds that act as fertilizers for fields used for growing crops.  Hence SALT of the EARTH.  This seems to be in direct contrast to salt as seasoning since in this context table salt would not be what you would use (table salt would render the field sterile).  However, the second phrase is different and refers to salt directly as a seasoning.  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon also tells us that the emphasis placed within the Greek is such that the second phrase is the important phrase.  This is also supported by the ending phrase.  Specifically, we should interpret the verse as Jesus telling his disciples they are to be the seasoning of the Earth.

OK.  So what?  What does that have to do with me and my life today?  Well to answer that question, lets look at the different methods and properties of salt in its various uses.

In the case of salt acting as a preservative it is because of its dehydrating properties, specifically with bacteria that may be on the food.  When YOU (as the salt of the Earth) interact with others as a preservative, you are attacking the bacteria of Society sucking all the water out through the cell walls.  You are killing the bacteria and preserving the food.  The problem with this approach is that it is not our job to preserve the food.  That is the job of the Holy Spirit.  The idea here is that the food being preserved is the Holiness of God himself.  And we, the salt of the Earth, rush right in to kill all the bacteria in order to preserve the status quo.  This is a harsh property of salt and is destructive to the bacteria itself.  God did not put us here to kill all the bacteria on Earth, indeed that is an impossible task, rather God is perfectly capable of defending his own honor.  We are not here as a caustic effect, but rather an enhancing effect.

Similarly, salt acting as a healing agent has harsh properties attacking bacteria within wounds and cleansing soiled areas.  How many of us have gone swimming in the ocean with an open cut or wound and felt the sting of the salt water against the cut?  We are not here to heal all the wounds of the Earth, nor to sting those with open cuts.  That is not our purpose as salt.

Rather we are to be the salt that is seasoning.  We are the salt that makes Life taste good.  We should be the salt that everyone is reaching for at the kitchen table.  The salt that is going to add flavor to the food.  The salt that is the spice of Life.  And an interesting note here, too much salt and the food no longer tastes good.  If the salt shaker loses its cap and the salt dumps all over the meat, most of us will cry in anguish.  The food will be too salty.  Flavoring is all about just the right amount.

So how about you?  Are you the Salt of the Earth?  Are you the caustic preservative out to kill all the bacteria in the world?  Are you the healing agent stinging open wounds?  Or are you the savory seasoning making the Lives of those around you taste good?  Applied in just the right amount?  To the right foods?  Enhancing the flavor of all around you?  Which SALT are you?

Man Made Climate Change

Man made Global Warming has taken us by storm (pun intended).  The media is literally inundated with it.  Take these particular headlines in the last few weeks for example:

Climate Change Deemed Growing Security Threat by Military Researchers The New York Times : May 13th 2014

U.S. Military Plans Policy Shift in Response to Anticipated National Security Threats Caused by Climate ChangeUS News & World Report : May 16th 2014

Military Bases Brace for Slow-Motion War With Climate ChangeNBC News : June 8th 2014

U.S. Military Prepares for Global Unrest Amid Climate FearsLive Science : June 12th 2014

Terry McAuliffe Says Global Warming Will Submerge Norfolk Naval BaseNo More Cocktails : April 11th 2014

I could literally fill this post with links from recent articles in the past weeks on Climate Change/Global Warming.  I believe it would be fair to say that it is a currently hot topic (pun intended) given the amount of publishing space devoted to it.

Given the Science of Climate Change, we (the population of the world) have every reason to be dubious.  To begin with the climate models have been decidedly proven to be educated guesses at best.  And with good reason.  It is an amazingly complex problem.  Consider the lengths that the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) went through in order to verify weather for a Space Shuttle launch.  And when you understand the granularity of the models (4 km grids in large scale and 1.33 km grids in small scale), you begin to understand the incredible complexity of data collection and processing.  Secondly, because of the complex nature of the problem, we really don’t have a sensor grid that allows for large earth predictive modeling.  The model is data starved, across all boundaries (hence the fudge factor in the computer code).  Third, it takes a considerable amount of processing power to run those models.  Consider the Earth Simulator, built by Japan at a cost of 7.2 billion Yen ( ~$7 million US dollars) and operational in March of 2002 (now 12 years old).  With weather processing power purported by these types of machines, you would think we would have up to the minute weather forecasting at every square mile of earth someone was standing on, but that is still not the case, and the weather forecasting we do have, for the areas we have them for, is still flawed to some degree.  And lastly, the incredible assumptions that are made within the models themselves are difficult to find any credibility with.  In just the current set of articles, the experts predict sea levels will rise somewhere between 1.5 and 7.5 feet over the next 100 years.  That is quite a spread.  Furthermore it is an incredibly long incubation period.

The bottom line is we don’t know.  We just can’t say what the weather/climate/or climatic conditions are going to be in 50 years let alone 100 years.  Furthermore we have no idea how the model is going to change over that period of time or what factors will come into play that will have an affect upon it.  Experts have been predicting different sets of outcomes for years now.  And each time the actual conditions do not match up to their predictions, they simply change the model to match the conditions and proceed forward.  Well I could do that, and I’m not even the expert.

We then have this claim that all of this Climate Change we are observing is Man Made.  And the question then becomes can human activity on the face of the Earth cause the weather to change?

A Theistic answer might be Yes and No.  Yes, in the sense that it is in direct response to man’s condition that weather changes upon the Earth have been effected.  And No, in the sense that it is not mankind who controls the weather, but rather God.

A Theist would accept the premise that God created a perfect system to begin with.  Every facet of weather on this Earth was in perfect balance and naturally worked together to the good of the entire system.  This would mean that the temperature was perfect at every point on the Earth, that moisture content was perfect, that oxygen content was perfect, that harmful radiation from the Sun was blocked, that wind, heat, cold, and other factors were all perfectly balanced within the system.  And that this system then supported the exact perfect environment for plant, animal, and human growth on the planet.  And that all of these would naturally thrive in such a system.

A Christian however, then accepts the premise that mankind’s Sin then altered the system.  Or more precisely, that because of man’s Sin, and the subsequent steps taken by the Creator in response to that Sin, allowed the original (and perfect) system to break down and to enter into a state of entropy.  And that is what we see the result of in the world today.

God caused the flood of Noah’s time in response to Sin upon the face of the Earth.  So it was not man per se that caused a climatic climate change, but rather God’s actions in response to man’s Sin.  And this breakdown has then led to the natural phenomenon we view around us today.  Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Monsoons, Typhoons, Lightening storms, dust storms, desert heat, and artic colds.  Even the Ice Age itself.  All are results of the breakdown of the original system, that was first allowed, and set in motion by God.

Man Made Global Warming?  I accept the premise only as far as man’s Sin is a direct result of all the effects of conditions we observe in the world today.  But to consider that it is mankind, and not God, that controls or affects the weather on the planet is a fallacy.

I will agree with our Climate Scientists on one small point however.  Revelation 11:6 predicts that one day, for a period of time, it will not rain, and water will turn to blood.  One may assume from this that fish will die, thirst will abound, and food plants will be sparse.  And I’m positive that the Global Warming crowd will stand up and proclaim “We TOLD you so!”

Problem is, it was already written to be so over 2 thousand years ago.  You cannot outwit, second guess, or alter God in anything you do.

 

 

May We Have A Rational Discussion?

Apparently not when it comes to atheists who are adamant about stamping out all religion in society and within the daily lives of ordinary citizens of the United States of America.

I’ll explain in a minute.  First let me say this was not the topic on my mind this evening.  For the last day or so I have been gathering my thoughts on Seattle, Washington’s new minimum wage.  I had planned on writing a political discourse on the pros, cons, and ethics of the whole minimum wage concept.  The minimum wage is an item that impacts us all (at least economically).  It may not be an item of interest to a wide audience, but it is something that most have feelings one way or the other on and I thought it would be an interesting side-bar to tackle.

However, as I sat down this evening to add this entry to my BLOG, this article caught my eye and I was completely astounded.  The article, for those unwilling to follow the link, is about a Missouri High School principle, Kevin Lowery, who used several off references to “God” at the commencement proceedings of the graduating class.  His remarks may be found in this YouTube video.

My first thought was “This is news?  Why?”  And as my curiosity peaked I read the article in amazement.  NOT at Principle Lowery’s remarks, or the reaction of the students, nor even the report that the YouTube video has garnered over 84,000 views in about 5 days (I’m not sure what constitutes going viral these days, but it is considerably more views than the few hundred hits I get from the stats on this BLOG).  No, the thing that captured my attention is the anti-religious organizations that crawled out of the woodwork to soundly denounce the commencement address.  For me this is the height of irrational behavior within the story.

The first group cited within the FOX News Story is the American Atheists (which, ironically enough, is a 501(c)(3) – the majority of which are religious organizations)whose spokesman Dave Muscato was quick to condemn the speech by citing that it “… violated the spirit of the First Amendment separations of religion and government.”  In other words it offended his perceived rights.  It is interesting to me that the front page of the American Atheists site has a headline that reads: “STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS”.  What rights?  There is no meaning, no value, no outcome in the atheist world view, so what does it matter?

But as I have previously argued, rights must come from somewhere and I’d seriously like to know where Mr. Muscato derives his from.  I know where my inalienable rights come from.  God.  As did the framers of the U.S. Constitution.  Mr. Muscato, as a stated dis-believer in a supreme being (or beings) clearly has nowhere upon which to draw his foundation of rights.  Given his world view, any rights he possesses, whether real or perceived, must clearly come from within the system and are thus subject to the rules of the system.  Which would clearly follow that they are then subjective and subject to change.  I could then argue that the perceived right that Mr. Muscato is clinging to was framed by what were clearly religious individuals and is therefore tainted.  I speculate that Mr. Muscato might argue that the framers of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were actually trying to stamp out religion in the country by putting that amendment in.  But if he were to argue this (or anyone else for that matter), I would have to go back to Dr. Richard Carrier’s question of “Are Christians Delusional?” and ask “Who is delusional now?”  Because most historians today would not argue along those lines.  And presented with clear and rational lines of reasoning to the contrary, one would need a convincing argument to bolster their case.  Without such would be to act irrationally.  No, Mr. Muscato is using a framework to defend his position that was put forth by individuals that meet his definition of flawed.  I would then ask “Why is not the amendment then flawed?”  Or why wouldn’t the rights he believes he has be subject to interpretation or change?

The second group that was cited with a comment is The Freedom From Religion Foundation who also stated that the commencement speech was a “serious constitutional violation” in a letter to Lebanon School District Superintendent Duane Widhalm.  Here we find a similar argument in that once again an atheist group is worried about their perceived right to not have God mentioned at a commencement address at a public school.

The two questions I’d like to ask about this particular event are: (1) Why are these groups even in existence?  Atheistic individuals and groups should be the epitome of the don’t care attitude.  After all, it doesn’t really matter anyway.  I realize they argue that they are trying to set others free, the Freedom From Religion Foundation even promotes a quote from Miguel Moore, Cleveland Artist… Humanist Chaplain that states as much: “Freedom comes from within, not without.”  But I still ask “To what end?”  What is the purpose behind it all?  In the grand scheme of things it means absolutely nothing.  So why be so adamant about a fight, that at the end of the day, doesn’t really matter who wins or who loses?  You can argue that you are trying to better peoples lives, progress society or humanity, or any number of other worthy causes (some of which religion would argue as well) and it still doesn’t really mean anything because there is no purpose behind the universe.  It is simply a cosmic accident given their world view.

And the second question I must ask is: (2) Who is the irrational party here?  I mean really?  Those who have a reason to promote an argument because they have a grounded belief that there is something more to what we see and experience and know of the physical universe and who believe that our existence will continue on sustained by a God.  Or those whose very world view precludes any real meaning or outcome and whose propensity to argue the inane would be explained in their paradigm as the results of minute and complex chemical and physical reactions set into motion eons ago and are being played out by a set of physical laws of which we have no control over and can do nothing about.

Isn’t it interesting that the Atheistic Organizations want to argue vehemently against the voice of Theistic individuals amongst us and yet few Theistic Organizations want to argue that the Atheist individuals need to remain silent in any venue in society.  Public, private, or otherwise?

Who is the TRUE defender of free speech here?

Chasing After Rights

Our rights are important.  As is what we perceive as our rightsRights are where we derive so many of our other political and social concepts from.  Rights, as defined, are those set of items or actions that are afforded due to just claim, legal guarantee, moral principle, or legal principle and authorities.  And rights determine how we are to be treated, what actions we are allowed (and not allowed) to take, and what reactions are allowed.  They form a basis of how we interact with others and the rest of the world.

When dealing with what is right and what is wrong, and by extension what rights we may or may not have as individual entities on this planet, I believe it only RIGHT that each and every atheist in the world begin by accepting the understanding that there are no rights, they have no rights, and that the mere concept of a right or wrong is a fallacy.

Lets break this down.  If there is no “supreme being” (or beings as the case may be), although if we were to be clear here, the definition should be “creator“, so if there is no Creator then there can be no design.  By definition there is no design (or we might say Intelligent Design).  If you were to argue that the design lies within the physical and metaphysical laws of the universe, I suppose you could make a case that those laws constitute the design (or the description) of what we see physically around us.  But to then take that and stretch it into some piece of matter’s right is quite a leap of logic and faith.

If I even begin by granting the atheist the line of reasoning that what we observe as design in the universe is the result of natural and physical laws playing out in some grand scheme over the vastness of time, there are still a lot of unanswered questions with regards to morality, justice, right, wrong, happiness, sadness, love, hate, or just the plain meaning of life.  In the atheistic world view, there is no Creator, and by extension no designer, and thus there are no rights.

Very, very, very, few atheists are honest enough, principled enough, and reasoned enough, to admit and state that within their world view there is no meaning and no purpose.  What can it be?  You cannot have meaning or purpose without design.  They simply cannot exist without design.  A design exudes a purpose.  And a purpose comes about by design.  Thus, given the atheistic world view of no Creator, there is no designer, which leaves no design within the universe, which leaves the universe absolutely purposeless.  And since there is no purpose, what then becomes the basis for right and for wrong?  Why should there be any basis?  After all, it doesn’t really matter much at all, does it?  And since right and wrong are now regulated to mere concepts that have no meaning, what then becomes the foundation on which we build individual rights?

And yet the atheist and the theist alike will claim individual rights of humankind in the world.  The atheist will claim some collective conscious that inherently bestows these rights upon individuals.  But that, in and of itself, is a fallacy.  When did we, as all of humankind, ever come together and agree upon and define those rights?  We did not.  To suggest that you or I have any ability to bestow rights upon another assigns a level of supremacy to one or another particular individual that then sets them apart from all the rest.  This in and of itself breaks the very premise of the model.  The only logical conclusion one may draw here is that those rights are granted and bestowed from outside of the system.  This in its very nature lends credence to a Creator.  A Supreme being who by design built a system that has certain inalienable rights woven into the very fabric of its existence.

This is the conclusion the framers of the U.S. Constitution came to and it is the foundation upon which they sought to establish the system of Government.  Our rights, liberties, and happiness are not what is decided upon by society or humankind.  Rather our rights, liberties, and our very happiness is what is granted and bestowed upon us by the Creator himself.

Given a theistic world view, conflicts are now resolved against the framework of the Creators design, not of our own.  I do not have the right to then define your pursuit of happiness based upon my own framework of what would satisfy my own happiness or desires, but rather I must weigh your actions against the framework of the Creator himself.

This is why knowing and understanding the Creator is so important within our lives.  And it is why Theology becomes the foundational science upon which we must base all other pursuits upon.  Theology is the only pursuit in which we may find purpose and meaning to our very existence.  And it that understanding that then begins to build the framework for our interactions with our fellow human beings around us.

When you seek to impose your morals upon the world you establish yourself as the source of right and wrong.  You set yourself apart and above the rest of humanity.

The Christian does not set out to impose morality upon the world.  The Christian rather recognizes the design of the moral code designed into the system by the Creator.  It is not MY morality I espouse, but rather the morality designed by the Creator.

You may draw different conclusions as to the source of the morality within the system.  You may even argue the interpretation and understanding of that morality.  Indeed, Christians have various interpretations of right and wrong amongst themselves (as do theists of all venues).

What should not be at issue is the design of the rights.  And that design cries out of the existence of a Creator, a God, a Supreme being who has bestowed upon all of humankind (his creation) the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  And that is why my rights, your rights, and everyone’s rights are of the utmost importance.  Because they did not come from you or from me or from society or from an accident of the physical laws of the cosmos.  They came from God.  And you may exert your own force of will and power against them as you see fit (as happens all over the world each and every day), but you can never take them away or alter them or make them your own.  They are secured by God and he will administer them and regulate them as he sees fit.

Knowing this, pursuing this, understanding this, in its deepest and most intimate depths is key to happiness and peace with those around us and on earth.

Where do YOUR rights come from?

First, let me say thankyou for your patience and understanding while I undertook a move one quarter of the way around the world.  While not completely settled yet, we are starting to get back some of the things we have been without (my computer is just about back to the state it was in when I last shut it down in Hawaii).  It has been a challenging time and there are many challenges ahead, but at least I may now return to LRPSP.COM while facing those challenges.

But enough of boring you with my personal life, I am anxious to get back on track with discussing the more interesting things in life.  And one of the things that interests me (and I believe a lot of people) is Human Rights – specifically Our Rights as inhabitants of planet Earth.

I just read Glenn Greenwald’s book “No Place To Hide” where civil rights are referenced no less than 21 separate times and in every chapter.  He quotes Supreme Court Justices (Justice Louis Brandeis – page 187) and hammers the rights of a free people.

The building I work in has some writing on the wall when you first enter the main doors, the writing says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident …“, which, of course comes from the United States Declaration of Independence.  The phrase is: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

There are those amongst us that want to argue the rights of the people of the Earth.  But they never want to stop and consider where those rights came from, who bestowed the right?  What gives individuals the right to even claim rights?  And what happens when your rights are contradictory to my own rights?  What gives any of us the right to express what is right and what is wrong?

There are the foolish amongst us that try and make some feeble attempt of rights being derived from our own consciousness or from Mother Earth/Gaia.

So let me get this straight.  All of us can agree that we all have the right to life, to live, to continue to exist, to not die (at least unjustly)?  And thus we know it is wrong to kill, to murder, to take a life?  And we gained this ground truth when?  At the point of “consciousness” of human-kind?

This is rather amazing to me because, without even realizing it, these folks have stumbled into the one common denominator for all human life.  Our DNA is different, our world-views are different, our finger-prints are different, our retinas are different, we are all the most unique set of creatures ever encountered, but the one thing we all managed to get exactly the same comes down to basic human rights.

Which is an amazingly structured piece of code.  It tells me, and it tells you, that we each have a right to life.  And there is little to no ambiguity there.  And where do our religious dissenters find this code?  Is it in the DNA?  Is it part of a blood type?  Is it structured in some social engineering?  Why no, it seems to be innate within each and every one of us from birth, embedded as it were, within our very beings, and readily grasped and expressed by our consciousness.

In other words it is embedded in our spirits.  That part of our being that is Spiritual in nature.  That part of our being that is explored and understood through our Theology.  Or at least I have yet to have an atheistic friend try and explain spiritual matters via a non-Theistic line of reasoning.  How else would one argue the finer points of a human nature that is expressed by more than what we can tangibly see, taste, smell, touch, hear, or mentally visualize of the physical world around us?

In the words of an atheistic friend of mine, it is a gift … this great consciousness that we all share.  This awareness that allows us to propagate the notion that we are somehow all entitled to rights.  Which is the greatest irony of all time, that the Universe would explode into existence at the point of the big bang, that matter would bump around through 13 billion years of time until life were sparked into existence, and then poof!  That matter bumping around against itself would bestow a gift upon the life it accidently created.

All right, lets say I accept your model for the sake of argument.  I then assert that my rights have not been fulfilled.  My rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (as understood and expressed by my consciousness) have been taken away and trampled upon.  To whom do I turn?  To whom do I take up my grievances with?  Where is Justice?  As Dr. Ravi Zacharias has said on a number of occasions (and I paraphrase), Atheism makes a mockery of justice.  And the only logical conclusion from there is that it doesn’t really matter anyway.  After all, there is no meaning, can be no meaning, since everything is merely a result of physical laws set into motion so long, long ago.

So today I ask the question: Where do YOUR rights come from?  The emphasis on the individual nature is important here.  Because if your rights are just some cosmic accident, some whimsical fluke of natural laws, then I say “So what?”  What makes your rights any more or any less valuable or important or necessary of enforcement or protection than any others on this Earth?

However, for those that join me and the framers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in understanding and believing that my rights are endowed by my Creator (God), then you, like I, have a champion, a defender, a Judge, and an arbitrator of those rights.  The same God that bestowed them on me, that gave them to me as a gift, is the same God that is going to ensure that Justice is served.  My rights did not come from some cosmic consciousness (which doesn’t make sense or match any model its defenders purport to begin with) or by some accident of physical nature.  My rights are fabricated into my very being by God himself and he will, one day, hold me accountable for them.

Fortunately, I have an understanding, and an answer for him.

Where do you live?

One of the more interesting passages of Scripture to me is Ruth 1:15-17 which states (in the King James Version):

15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.

16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

Naomi entreated Ruth to go back to her people and to her gods.  She begged her, implored her, suggested with emphasis that Ruth depart from her.  And yet Ruth asked her not to beg her to leave.  She stated more than just loyalty or friendship, she stated that wherever Naomi went, her people would become her people and her God would become her God.

Ruth was willing (and able) to forsake all.  She was truly able to leave her family behind and follow Naomi to a far away land, with customs she did not know, and where she would be a stranger amongst the people.

Several years ago I realized my wife, a Filipino, needed to be near her family and the culture she was born into.  So we moved to Hawaii to be closer to the Philippines and to be next to some of her family and friends.

Today, due to circumstances far outside our control, we are at the end of this particular phase of that journey.  We find ourselves forced into having to sell our home, and pack up our belongings, and move to Maryland.  We find our lives in an upheaval.

I have been extremely frustrated by this set of circumstances and by this move itself.  I have struggled with the sheer Godlessness of the world around me.  And yet, there have been clear and undeniable indicators of God working in our circumstances and gently guiding us in this direction.

Ruth tells us many things, but perhaps one of the more amazing things Ruth teaches us that is perhaps the most overlooked is – the reasons in our lives for being happy and the needs we think we have, are perhaps not the ones we think they are.

We have resigned ourselves to our fate as thrust upon us.  But I want to do more than that.  I want to be like Ruth and embrace it fully.  Not because we are blindly following some cosmic path, but because God is in control and is taking us to where he wants us to be.

The fools in this world, those who say in their hearts that there is no God, are completely hopeless in this situation.  When they do not get their way, they have nowhere to turn to.  It is simply the cosmic dust bumping together.  A bunch of chemical reactions, a set of physical laws playing themselves out over the eons of existence.  There is no design, there is no fate, there is no hope, and there is no free will.  They are not really making decisions about the course of their lives.  To think that they were would be sheer folly.  It is no different than an asteroid spinning through space that falls into a course that sends it crashing into a planet.  It was set on that course and bound to that end at the beginning of the (so called) Big Bang from the outset of time.  Just as their lives.

For those with a different world view however, one must accept that the Creator knows what he is doing and is in control and that all will be made clear within his time.

The larger question for most of us though is “Can you leave your people?”  Could you leave your land, your customs, your gods?  Because when you come to the point where you can leave your gods, then The God will be in a position to show you his riches and his goodness.

We are off on a new journey in life.  A new home, in a new State, with some old friends and certainly some new friends.  We are both sad and a little excited, and mostly worried about how things are going to work out.  But we know that no matter what, God is in control.

For those that say God is the invention of man’s imagination, then these circumstances must seem totally irrational.  The paradox becomes how can such a seemingly rational person be so irrational?  And I then ask – How is it that your rationality cannot resolve the irrationality in the world?  Because my God can.

So where do you live?  Are you comfortable in your surroundings?  Are you totally dependent upon family, friends, culture, habits, and circumstances to the point that you no longer seek what new adventure God has in store for you?  Or could you, like Ruth, leave behind your people and your gods and become a stranger in a new land all for the sake of one?

On an Administrative Note – I would like to thank the myriads of you who have registered on this Blog.  It is truly meant to be a conversation, and if you have registered, and would like to contribute, please feel free to comment.  As long as it is family friendly, I will approve it, no matter what the view point.

As we are in the process of moving 1/4 of the way around the world in the next few weeks, I will be out of touch with my computer and an easy ability to administer my Blog while our household goods are in transit.  I will do the best I can with my iPad, however it is not really the appropriate platform for what I need.

I promise that once we are settled in our new home and our lives begin to take on some semblance of normalcy there, I will pick this up with earnest and get back to what I truly intended it to be.  That will most likely be in about 45 days or so.  In the meantime I sincerely hope that you will bear with me of necessity and understand that I have not abandoned this effort, I am just going through a transition that does not allow me the ability to apply the due diligence I desire.  I trust you understand.

Life Changes

Have you ever felt like you are at the gambling table of life when you suddenly get dealt the worst possible hand imaginable?  No matter how well you plan, or what kind of in-roads you think you may be making, you wake up one morning and suddenly find yourself facing seemingly dire circumstances.

It probably happens to most of us in some way, shape, or form.  For some of us it may seem more ominous and more devastating than it does for others.  At times you may even feel trapped and unable to see a way out.  You may wonder why your world is crashing down around you.  Or you may shrink in fear of the unknown or lose hope in all you know or those you love.

It is at times like these that your world view can make all the difference.  It is also at times like these that an understanding of Faith can help you in your wisdom and understanding of the world around you.

A friend of mine once wrote:

“If my logic thus far hasn’t persuaded you, let me try out a moral argument that will attempt to discredit miracles as proof of God’s existence.  By claiming to have experienced a miracle, such as a miraculously healed broken bone, or a complete remission of cancer, people are placing themselves into a precarious moral position.  I would suggest that it is folly to imply that God has intervened to mend a broken body when He doesn’t provide the same service for all broken bodies, or for that matter, to intervene and prevent the break in the first place (you knew I’d have to bring the omnipotence issue again).  Furthermore, to take this position to its most disgusting extreme, it is absolutely the height of arrogance to assume that God has intervened in the above circumstances when child abusers go unpunished every day.”

(The Word of God – A Logical and Moral Dilemma  pg. 161)

Yet my friend once told me that he had a lot of faith (little “f”) but not much Faith (big “f”).  Meaning his faith was in human kind (people) but not in God.

The argument is that if God were consistent (which, by-the-way, He is) there would be no (so-called) inconsistency with those that experience miracles and those that do not.

The failure in this line of reasoning is that it assumes that God somehow made a mistake along the way and that he suddenly needs to intervene in his creation to “set things back on their proper course“.

And yet it was the Founding Father’s of America themselves that determined:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Yet many of life’s circumstances are thrust upon us by the actions of others in our lives.  Here we are, trying to “pursue happiness” when we find our path blocked by those around us who are pursuing their own happiness.

When we find ourselves in these situations it can sometimes be extremely frustrating and we lose faith in humanity around us.  It is easy to have faith when things are going our way and the stars seem aligned along our path.  But it is difficult to have Faith when we seemingly hold a losing hand and there is little rhyme or reason as to the situation we find ourselves in.

It is at these times when the Christian world view can proclaim:

“Have faith in God, He’s on His throne,
Have faith in God, He watches over His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail,
Have faith in God, Have faith in God.”

Because it is the Christian world view that understands that God is always in control, even when you do not believe he is.  God is in control when those around you are blessed and you are seemingly cursed.  God is in control when things go your way, or even when they do not.  God is always on His Throne.

My friend ought to have asked a more poignant question rather than why God does not perform miracles for all broken bodies.  He should have asked why some child abusers are even punished in the first place.  That is he should have asked what makes a particular wrong a wrong.

We do not necessarily understand all of the impacts of good and evil in our world.  We do not even understand why we are faced with seemingly impossible situations in our lives.  What the Christian world view does understand is that God is God, and he is always on His Throne.  And understanding that, having Faith in God, leads us to believe that no matter what the injustice, no matter what the heartache, no matter what the sorrows or trials within our lives, there is a bigger picture beyond us.  There is a God and his plan is perfect even when we cannot see it.

The Christian world view understands that we are experiencing the vastness of God’s plan and we are experiencing Him with each and every breath we take.

And if your world view contains no God, what do you have then?  Cosmic Chaos?  Just the matter of the Universe bumping around forcing all of the other matter around it along a particular course?  Even if that course seemingly contradicts the path that one might take in the “pursuit of happiness“?

I’ll go with God’s plan.  After all, if I’m wrong there isn’t a whole lot of meaning to what happens anyway.  And if your world view states that their is no God, then the “pursuit of happiness” is a vain effort in and of itself.

In Search of God

The other day in Whose Science Is It?  I stated:

“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.”

Meaning to separate two linked, but unique, practices:  Theology and Religion.  But I kind of left Theology hanging.  Today I’d like to take the time to fill that in a little bit, and I am sure I am being somewhat academic to most, but I feel it important because I believe that a vast majority of people that miss God in their lives, do so because they reason themselves out of it.  By this I mean they find themselves to have studied the evidence and determined to their own satisfaction that there is indeed no God.  Likewise, a number of Theists also believe they have reasoned themselves to their position without actually realizing the steps they needed to take, or accept, to get there.

The reason I find this important, is because of people like Dr. Richard Carrier.  Dr. Carrier, apparently following Dr. Richard Dawkins advice to mock Christians (and in doing so demonstrated his physic abilities, since I believe Dr. Dawkins advice came after this event), asks the rather mocking question: Are Christians Delusional? at Skepticon 3.

Of course one might ask why someone with a BA in History, an MA in Ancient History, an MPhil in Ancient History (Honestly, I did not even know you could get a Masters of Philosophy in Ancient History), and a PhD in Ancient History from prestigious institutions such as University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia University is doing speaking at a convention named Skepticon?  Shouldn’t Dr. Carrier be off doing some important History research or teaching some University course somewhere rather than speaking at some convention full of self proclaimed skeptics?

See?  I can be mocking and condescending as well.  I should point out that I never have actually attended Skepticon (although I have watched the videos and read the literature) and do not personally know anyone who has.  They may actually be a great bunch of fun loving people.  But their choice of invited speakers certainly leaves a lot to be desired.

But back to my point:  I would most certainly guess that Dr. Carrier believes Theists to be duped somehow.  Incapable of understanding or interpreting Scientific Data.  Or else needy, emotionally, psychologically, mentally, or otherwise.  And they need a God to fill that void.

And of course Dr. Carrier would be partially right.  There is a void in a persons life that needs to be filled (even Dr. Carrier’s life).  But it is not a needy void, it is an empty void.  And it does not lie quite where one might suspect.  Rather it is a Spiritual void.  And Spiritual voids just happen to be God shaped voids.  And oddly enough, only God can fill that void.

Atheists do not understand that.  How could they?  They deny there is a God to begin with and  shut out any possibility of a Spiritual realm or Spiritual understanding.  And they may not even know why it is seemingly important for them to proselytize as Dr. Carrier and others most assuredly do.  This is a thought for a future post however.

So back on track here.  Just how delusional are Theists?  We let’s consider the choices (either consciously, or sub-consciously) that the Theist has to make in order to arrive at their particular world view.

Obviously, to begin with, one must determine whether the evidence supports a Theistic model or an Atheistic model.

At this point the Atheist is done.  There is no God (or gods).  The Universe is not a created thing.  And there certainly is no need to go looking for one.

Now some Atheist out there is going to interject Science and Discovery at this point.  They are going to claim that learning how it all started, what makes it all work, or what holds it all together is the important next step.

I do not understand how in the world these people came to think they are they only ones capable of Science.  It is just not logical.  I would argue that Discovery is a logical next step for ANY world view, Theistic or Atheistic.  We all want to do that.  I believe the next step of Discovery, Science, Philosophy, Politics, is just a part of Life.  It is what we are all made up of and what we all delve into.

So no, at the point of there is no God, the Atheist’s work is done.  They are simply going to engage in the same set of practices as the rest of us at this point.

But not so with the Theist.  The Theist still has a lot of work left to do.  Once the Theist says there is a God, suddenly they are faced with another choice:

Monotheistic or Polytheistic?  I suppose you could punt and go with Pantheistic if you wanted to, but the point is this is not something you want to get wrong.  You need to know, is there an entire race of God’s?  Are there multiple Gods, and if so, who is the head God?  Is there a single God?  And if so, who or what is it?

In either case, the Monotheist and the Polytheist cannot stop there.  They must then determine who or what God (God’s in the case of Polytheism) is.  Once again, this is not something you want to get wrong.  It could possibly have dire consequences to identify the wrong God.

Once both the Monotheist and the Polytheist believe they have identified God (or God’s), they still are not done.  Because then they must ask the most important question one will ever ask.  So what? And this is not a rhetorical or flippant question.  They must both seriously ask the question, So what does this mean to me?  Am I beholden to God?  Do I owe God anything?  How do I seek after God?  Learn about God?  Get in touch with God?  Does God even want to get in touch with me?

Once the theist begins to ask the questions about God and start to seek answers both physically, spiritually, philosophically, and emotionally, they begin a journey much more complicated than the Atheist will ever walk.  The Atheist simply skips all of these challenges (God?  What God?  There is no God so I need not search for one or decide on which one is real.)  The Atheist gets to punt here and move on.  But not so with the Theist.  The Theist must walk this path whether they realize they do so or not.

The Theist’s path is fraught with many more questions, puzzles, growing pains, challenges, debates, and I would conjecture joys and pains, than any other path out there.

And Dr. Carrier asks the question (in jest or not) Are Christians Delusional?  Sure they are Dr. Carrier.  Because that is what delusional people do.  They undertake the really hard choices.  They walk the difficult path, to the point of all exclusion.  They constantly go through the fire and yet still walk out the other side.  Just like all the other delusional people in the world.  How about yourself?

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.

The discussions that matter.

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