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.

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!

The discussions that matter.

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