Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

Extraordinary evidence

Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”  The problem with this is that Sagan does not define what would constitute an extraordinary claim[1] or what would represent extraordinary evidence.  So, no matter what evidence you give the skeptic he will simply say it is not evidence or it is not extraordinary evidence.  The skeptic then becomes the judge of what is evidence, what is not evidence, and what is extraordinary evidence.  From this simple observation I would have to conclude that evidence is for the seeker or for a person who has the will to believe.  A seeker or a person who has a will to believe is surely not a person who has a prior commitment to skepticism.

 

Usually, what the skeptic wants is absolute or overwhelming evidence.  In other words he wants you to beat him into submission.  Of course, this is a requirement and condition that many skeptics only apply to the existence of God.  For example, many of them believe in the string theory and the existence of aliens, both of which have no evidence at the present time, yet they believe these highly speculative theories.  So, what is the difference between these  beliefs and the belief in a deity?  These theories seem to be extraordinary claims, which means they should all have extraordinary evidence to prove them.  However, they have none and yet they are believed.  This is said not to disagree with Carl Sagan but rather to show the inconsistencies of skeptics and their bias towards faith in God.  Many of them have a prior commitment to materialism and atheism[2].

We also need to point out that you can prove very little to a person who has a will to doubt.  René Descartes the famous French philosopher believed that you could only prove to yourself your own existence.  Thus his famous statement, “I think therefore I am”[3].  When people demand proof before they will believe something, they are asking for a lot.  Proof and evidence seem to be somewhat in the eyes of the beholder.  Absolute proof cannot be given, because a person could claim that the thing to believe, or the evidence, is an illusion or that we live in a matrix where everything is not real.  On the other hand, there seems to be room for different degrees of evidence which point to the truthfulness of something.  There can be circumstantial evidence which is inferred from other things and there can be eyewitness evidence.

However, I do believe there is some extraordinary evidence for the existence of God.  That extraordinary evidence comes in the form of miracles.  By miracles I mean something that cannot be explained by natural causes or by the laws of nature.  When we use the word miracle we also are inferring that the things that we are talking about are very rare or only happened once in the history of the universe.  These miracles are (1) That something came from nothing. (2) That part of the something was alive. (3) That some of the living stuff had consciousness (4) That something which was alive changed into something else.

Let’s look at each one of the above.  First, that something came from nothing.[4]  This miracle happened when the universe came into existence.  Science refers to this event as the big bang theory.  If you wanted a detailed explanation of what happened in the big bang, you need to go to science.  If you go to the book of Beginnings (Genesis) it simply says in  concise speech, “In the begin God created the heavens and earth”.  In this we find that the something came not from nothing, but was rather created by a something (God).  For the how of that, you would have to go back to science again.

My question is this, what is more of extraordinary claim.  That God, an intelligent being, created the heavens and the earth or the claim of the naturalist atheist, that something came from nothing.  If you believe that something came from nothing please send me your extraordinary evidence.

The second miracle is that a part of the something that was created is alive.  When we look at the universe, its order and its complexity, we must stand in awe not only of the universe but also of the fact that there is life in it.  Life is a miracle and there is no evidence  of life coming out of nonlife today[5]. That secures the creation of life a place among miracles of miracles.

The third miracle is that some of the living stuff had consciousness; certainly we are talking about the existence of man.  The fact that the universe gave birth to a conscious being like man is an extraordinary happening beyond imagination.  There is one thing that is more miraculous than consciousness  and it is that conscious beings could believe that consciousness came from unconsciousness.

The fourth miracle is that something that was alive, changed into something else.  Yes, I am talking about evolution or continuous development.  Did you ever think about how much of a miracle, evolution is?  In essence the universe and life does not exist but it is becoming and we do not know what it is becoming.  Some say it is dying, but I don’t think so.  I think it is simply changing, growing and maturing.  Could it be evolving toward the omega point?

A part of this growth and development is still another miracle which was the resurrection of Christ into a higher life form, or the new being.  His resurrection was the last evolution of mankind into his final and complete form.  In his pre-resurrection form he was called “a root out of dry ground” which expressed the unlikelihood of his existence.  His existence like the other miracles was a onetime happening that is hard to explain.  In his death and resurrection he demonstrates something coming from nothing, something that was dead coming to life, and something changing from one state to another and becoming something else.  In this, he is the one that all existence points to. As scripture reads, “He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end”.  He is the over man of Nietzsche or the omega man who is over all of creation.

I know that all of these miracles can be explained away by materialists and their tall tale of naturalism.  They tell an unbelievable story of how these things happened and then declare the story as evidence that all these miracles just happened naturally without an intelligent guide behind it.  In other words they were just accidents.  It is up to the reader to choose what they will believe.  Accidents or miracles?

[1] Sagan being an atheist or at best an agnostic only used this criteria when talking about religious questions. He seemed to have no problem with the speculative theories of physics, i.e. string theory, big bang theory and black holes. All of which are based on very thin scientific evidence. Sagan is a classic example of scientific bias, which comes from a prior commitment to materialism.

[2]  Richard Lewontin (evolutionary geneticist), s,” hints at this predisposition and bias when he says “[The public] take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.” “Billions and Billions of Demons,” page 31 Quota in Never Pure by Shapin Steven

[3] A statement by the seventeenth century philosopher René Descartes. “I think; therefore I am” was the end of the search Descartes conducted for a statement that could not be doubted. He found that could not doubt that he himself existed, as he was the one doing the doubting in the first place. In Latin (the language in which Descartes wrote), the phrase is “Cogito, ergo sum.”

[4] “A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing” By Lawrence M. Krauss is an attempt to explain the universe without God  or a first cause. The book is a disappointment, for the nothing that it propounds that the universe came from, turns out to be a something.   Jan 1, 2013 by Lawrence M. Krauss and Richard Dawkins

[5] There was a time when some scientists believed in spontaneous generation, however, this theory was disproven by Louis Pasteur when he established beyond a shadow of a doubt that spontaneous generation is impossible under present day conditions. Even if science were to create life in the laboratory, it would only confirm that the lesser comes from the greater. For such an experiment would show that it took consciousness to arrange the elements to make life.  In 1953 the Miller-Urey experiment created some of the chemical ingredients that are found in basic life forms.  However, these scientists’ claim that they had done this by reproducing early earth conditions has been proven false.  Plus, it is basically a false presupposition that they created life.  A few of the building blocks of life is not life.  A few bricks are not a house.  Even if science were to create life in the laboratory, it would only confirm that the lesser comes from the greater.  For such an experiment would show that it took consciousness to arrange the elements to make life.

 

Godless-A Portrait of a New Atheist

A Portrait of a New Atheist

A Letter to Seekers

His name is Godless[1].  He is a young college educated white male with a high opinion of his intellectual ability.  Like most young white males in American he is angry, without knowing what he is angry about.  He has a thirst for  recognition, meaning and purpose and has little or none of any.  He was born into a liberal progressive society that promised utopia and has not delivered on the promise.  He is angry and empty, and he needs to blame someone for this fallen world which does not meet his bourgeois expectations.  He feels that he deserves better.  Because of his liberal ethos which represses anger, he is passive aggressive.  His continual attacks on religion are an outlet for his repressed anger at the world and the God who made it[2].

His passive aggressive anger comes out in his blogs where he projects himself as a truth seeker and often as a mild-mannered individual while at the same time using sarcasm and cynicism to belittle religious folks.  The majority of the time he stays anonymous because he is too timid to put his name on his writings and is afraid of the backlash which might come from his sarcasm and hubris.  In his private life he preys on average people who he feels he is superior to, he tries to draw them in to debate in order to destroy their faith and convert them to his non-faith.  I am sad to say there are some believers that behave in the same obnoxious way.  Of course, this behavior is the mark of most fundamentalist movements, whether religious or secular.

In his blogs Godless has a habit of stating rather than arguing his positions, which he does very well.  His favorite story is the tall tale of naturalism, in which he gives an account of the universe and the world as though his story was fact or history instead of theory and speculation.  His writing is an example of authoritarian rhetoric masquerading as explanatory argument.  Of course, he has no personal authority, which means that much of his thinking is nothing but his opinion or the bloviating of talking points from his atheistic websites.  Therefore, it is not surprising to see very few footnotes or references[3].  When he does quote someone, the references are vague and his inferences are embellished to reflect his position.  Like so many atheists, he uses rhetoric and assertions in the place of explanatory argument to the point that his opponents give up from exhaustion in any attempt to answer his rhetoric.  If they attempt to answer him, he accuses them with ‘using the same-old arguments’.  What can I say?  It is the same-old augments because it the same-old rhetoric.  How much can a man say about a so-called non-belief without repeating himself?  Godless is truly a sophist.

He uses negative rhetoric to belittle religion and its practitioners, often inferring that they are unethical, ignorant or even stupid.  Recently, Godless told me that I was lying when I told him that I had two neighbors that were atheist and that they would not talk to me about their atheism.  From then on, he inferred that I was a liar.  In his delusion, Godless seems to glory that he has x-ray eyes which can see things in religion and in people, that others cannot see. Even while ranting and raving he seems to be quite ignorant of the fact that theologians have been pointing out the same anomalies in religion that he does, for centuries.

He fails to see that anything that humans touch; whether it’s religion, science or even atheism, they will corrupt it.  This all tends to make Godless shortsighted and extremely narrow.  I do wish he would get a new set of glasses.  We could use someone with x-ray eyes to take a good look at our government.  However, the problem would be that Godless would see the corruption in government and conclude that all government is evil.  You see, Godless is an extremist like the fundamentalist that he criticizes.

Like so many of the new atheists, Godless’ whole self-esteem seems to depend on his ability to out argue the theists.  He has become his atheism.  He has no self, apart from his atheism.  In this, atheism has become his purpose, meaning and life.  He reminds me of the apostle Paul, who said, “For me to live is Christ”  However, for Godless it would be “for me to live is atheism”  Godless does not drink, smoke or party; he has no addiction other than atheism.  I know that Godless will respond by saying that all of this could be said about the theist as well.  I agree to a point.  There are some theists who are addicted to the wrappings of faith, which we call religion.  In fact, many ex-Christians were addicted to religion and when religion could no long satisfy their ego; they simply changed  addictions.

Godless could not be an agnostic because it would not help his self-esteem to say I don’t know.  How could being an agnostic set him apart from the herd and demonstrate his superiority?  Agnosticism would leave him without a self and quite empty.  You cannot be lambasting faith and be noticed by saying, “I don’t know.”

In a true sense of the word, Godless is not a skeptic for he is quick to accept any philosophy or science that comes down the pike as long as it supports his atheism[4].  In many cases, not all, Godless is so ill-prepared intellectually that he is incapable of discerning true science and philosophy from pseudoscience and sophistry.  He prides himself on being open-minded; however, his openness is often a smoke screen to cover up his hubris pride in assuming intellection superiority over all other world views and it also services as a smoke screen to cover his anger.  His anger and passive aggressiveness is the thing that separates him from the old atheist type.

He claims to be a seeker of truth, sometimes even professes an attempt at believing.  Yet, he continues to waddle in and feed at the trough of his atheistic propaganda.  He spends hours of his time perusing the Internet looking for talking points and arguments against religion.  He actually spends more time on his atheism than many people of faith who do on their religion.  Some even assemble regularly to learn and rehearse their negative beliefs.  Of course Godless justifies all of this by thinking of himself as an angel of light that is trying to save the world from religion, which he views as the ultimate evil[5].

You see, like all people Godless needs meaning and purpose in his life.  Yet, he has denied the most fundamental and ultimate foundation of meaning.  The result of this denial is that he must seek meaning in a lesser purpose and at the same time elevating this lesser purpose to his ultimate concern.  He fails to see that other people do not have the ability to create an illusion of ultimate purpose as he does and they really need faith to have meaning.

A friend was placing Bibles in the public schools of Russia and he was called into the office of education by the head administrator for the entire nation.  At first, he was afraid that he was  going to lose his visa for handing out Bibles.  Then to his surprise the administrator thanked him for what he was doing.  In their discussion, the administrator rehearsed the years of communistic atheism and their indoctrination and went on to say that as a result of it; the children had what he called “empty eyes.”  You see in Russia, the atheistic communist had their ‘thought police’; which did not want the people to even ask the question “why” because it would lead them to look for meaning, and in their search for true meaning, it would lead many to God.

I know the new atheist types believe they can find meaning in something less than God.  Maybe in their relationships or in spreading their belief, or should I say the lack of it?  Some may find meaning in the belief that they are saving the world from the ultimate evil of religion[6].  However, in view of the mindless universe they propose and their atheistic world view can any meaning be real?  Is it not really nothing more than an illusion?  I think it was Nietzsche, who said that if a person was brave enough to face reality (no God) that the reasonable thing to do would be to kill yourself or to go insane, for the alternative would be to live a life of despair or a life of illusions and dishonesty.  The majority of the new atheists are neither brave enough nor honest enough to take their belief to their logical conclusion, so they live in a world of self-created illusions[7].

Some may feel that I am being hard on the new atheist.  No, I am simply trying to get them to think outside of their world view and their talking points and to know that there is another way of viewing life, the world and God; which are all reasonable positions from within a theistic world view.  Assuming that they have a will to believe as many of them profess, here is what they must do to move toward faith.

They must recognize that there is a difference between religion and faith and that there is a difference between good religion and bad religion.  Yes, there are a lot of crazy things going on in the Christian faith, but they do not have their source in Christ and those that know Christ the best believe that much of American Christianity has little or nothing to do with Jesus Christ.  So, I would suggest that atheists and believers alike refocus their eyes off the Christian religion on to Jesus Christ.

An important step for those who would like to explore faith in Christ would be to stop acting like an atheist.  This would include not reading and writing the propaganda that is on the Internet and stop reading the books of the superstar atheists, who, by the way, remind me of the Televangelists who have made millions of dollars selling books on atheism.  Likewise, I would also encourage Christians to stop listening to the TV celebrity preachers and get serious about knowing your own faith.

Another step would be to start calling and thinking of yourself as an agnostic.  This will take the ego out of your belief system and at the same time make your belief more rational.  If you believe that theism is unreasonable because it cannot be proven, you will have to believe that the opposite is just as unreasonable, for both positions cannot be proved or disproved empirically to the other side.

[1]  In using the expression Godless I have no individual in mind, but am using it as a synonym for some, not all of the new atheist types. Many of the new atheists think they are all radical individuals and therefore cannot be critiqued as a group. However, like all movements there are many similarities of the people in the movement. This paper may not apply to the old atheist type some of which even view religion as good or at least a necessary evil.

[2] His passive aggressive anger is usually directed towards religion and government. This is all clearly seen in the poster boy of atheism Karl Marx, who was an atheist and hated religion and government and believed his system would usher in a new utopia free of religion and government. One thing which can be said of Karl Marx is that he believed his system would fix the problem, he erred in his analysis of what constituted the problem,  but at least he had an answer. However, Godless has no answer to the problem other than sucking all the air out of it and hoping it will collapse. He has no system to replace what he is trying to destroy other than putting him and his kind in command. Could you imagine what a world would be like following men like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens? If these men were believers I would not like them because of their hubris. Their demeanor and disposition makes me shiver.

[3] There are a number of reasons for this lack of references. Godless wants people to think that his ideas are original. This makes him look more intelligent and above the herd. It also denotes a person who has bought into the subjectivism of age while condemning religion for being subjective. He fails to see that subjectivism in the end destroys his idol of reason.

[4] He is likely to believe in aliens and in the string theory even though there is not one bit of scientific evidence for either.

[5] This is one of the hall-mark beliefs of the new atheists. Therefore, the extremist in this movement views believers as evil and if consistent, could treat believers as the communist atheist did in Russia and China.

[6] Are they really angles of light? “An honest unbeliever, Dr. E. Wengraf once confessed, “Every piece of anti-religious propaganda seems to me a crime.  I surely do not wish it to be prosecuted as a crime, but I consider it immoral and loathsome.  This not because of zeal for my convictions, but because of the simple knowledge acquired through long experience, that, given the same circumstances, a religious man is happier than the irreligious.  In my indifference and skeptical attitude toward all positive faith, I have often envied other men to whom deep religiosity has given a strong support in all the storms of life.  To uproot the souls of such men is an abject deed.  I abhor any proselytizing.  But, still, I can understand why one who believes firmly in a saving faith tries to convert others.  But I cannot understand propaganda of unbelief.  We do not have the right to take away from a person his protecting shelter, be it even a shabby hut, if we are not sure, we can offer him a better, more beautiful house.  But to lure men from the inherited home of their souls, to make them err afterward in the wilderness of hypotheses and philosophical question marks, is either criminal fatalisms or criminal mindlessness.”

[7] If there is no God, humans have a  choice of living in a world of illusions or a world of despair. If they choose illusions, the question then becomes what is the best illusion? Is it the illusions of atheism or religion? What would be the criteria for making this choice? Would it not be happiness? If so the atheist loses because there have been a number of studies done recently that  demonstrate that people of faith are happier than those that have none.

 

The Good News for America

The Good News for America

In a society that is all about comfort, ease, pleasure and feeling good, how can we call a person to suffer and die to themselves and live for others?  In other words, what is good about the good news of Christ?

What is the good news of Christ?  Is it good health and worldly blessing or is it something different? The gospel is that Christ died for our sins, and that God raised him from the dead,  nothing more and nothing less. Why are the death and resurrection of Christ the good news?  Well, it is only good news if you recognize that mans greatest enemies are sin and death.  If you recognize this, then the gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news in all the world. Let’s take a look at the trouble that the apostle Paul called the law of sin and death.

The literal meaning of sin is, to miss the mark.  It was the term in which the spotter, who stood next to the target, would yell back to the archers when an arrow missed the bulls-eye.  You sinned; you missed the mark you were aiming at.  When the New Testament says you have sinned it is saying that you have missed the mark that God has set for you as a human being created in His likeness. You have missed what it means to be truly human.

What is his likeness?  Now the likeness of God is a deep subject, but we can easily grasp some things about it. The Bible tells us that God is love and from this, we can gather when we were created in his image that we were created for love.  That is we were created to have a love relationship with God and reflect that image to all around us.

But, how can this be if God is a spirit?  How can we love a spirit?  That is a tough question for a three dimensional being to comprehend.  Even so, one thing I do know is that we can reflect God by loving those that have been created in his image.  Human beings are living symbols of the living God. In fact, they are the only thing in all of creation that image’s God. So, to love or hug a person is to hug God. To smile at another human is to smile at God.  To do good to another human is to do it to and for God (Matt.25:30-40).  It is here we can also see what sin really is.  It is doing something to hurt a fellow human created in God’s image or neglecting to do something one ought to do to help a fellow human.  It is breaking or being unfaithful to the love relationship we have or should have with our fellow-man.  When you act in an unloving way toward your brother, you have sinned.  If you break faith with the image of God, you have sinned against God.

Now the next question is what is love? We have seen that God is love, and this is where Jesus comes in. Jesus came here to reveal the father (John 17).  He came to teach us what true love looks like.  In making known the father he made known what is true love.  He did it by living and dying a sacrificial life for others.  In this, he lived for God and fulfilled the great commandment “to love God with your whole heart, soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  This work of revealing the Father as sacrificial love reached its peak and fulfillment in his death on the cross. As he died, he said, “it is finished.”  In this act of dying for others Jesus fulfilled the law of love and opened a new living way of approaching God, not through religion but through love, not just any kind of love but through the kind of love demonstrated by Jesus.

The atonement is God demonstrating his sacrificial love in Christ for his creation.  How can the death of Christ be reduced to a payment of a debt, to a broken law?  The atonement must be grounded in God’s love, not the law.  Love freely given,  never demands its pound of flesh as the law does. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”  In the death of Christ, God deals with the sin problem by covering it with his love; while at the same time demonstrating his love to man by covering over with his love their anger and hatred. “Father forgive them, for they know not, what they do.”  In this act of love, he revealed his love,  by forgiving freely, mans hatred and anger. (Colossians 1: 21, 22)

In the death of Christ, we also see a revelation or a revealing of man’s nature. Man is angry and filled with hate and a false sense of justice and righteousness.  Man needs his pound of flesh. The law is broken, someone must pay; someone must be punished for the law is their God.  I find it peculiar that many in the Christian movement have embraced a theory of the atonement which image’s God in exactly the same way as sinful man, strange indeed.

This work of revealing the Father is to be continued by his body, the church.  This revealing of the father begins in the church by believers loving one another, just as Christ has loved them. In loving one another as Christ has loved them, they show the world the Father even as Christ showed them the Father.  When the church fails to do this, it is missing the mark and is living in sin.  When it is living in sin it is living under sin and is walking in the flesh and cannot be pleasing to God.  It is a terrible sin to hurt or hinder the work of the church from revealing the Father.  This happens whenever a member of the church acts in an unloving manner toward a brother or for that matter, another human being.

We are not alone in this work of revealing the Father to the world. God has put his Spirit in the body of Christ and in each of its members, to help them in this great work of revealing the true God.  In truth, this work is the work of God and when he calls us, He calls us to join him in that work, and if we accept that call, we become his fellow workers.

We can gather from all this that we are most human and most godly when we are loving our brothers and honoring the love relationship with God and man. When we fail to do this, we sin. We miss the mark of loving one another, the very reason for which God has created us.

The gospel of Christ is the message that God has forgiven our unloving acts and has taken them on Himself. Furthermore, it tells us if we put our faith in Christ, he will put his divine life in our hearts to help us to become like the Father. When a person believes, they begin to find themselves being transformed into the image of God as their love for God and man grows.

However, the gospel could not be the good news of God unless it addresses the problem of death. In actuality, most people think of death as a problem at the end of one’s life, but when we take a closer look, it is something that affects all of life.  It is as the Bible said, the king of terrors that cast a shadowing doom over all of life.  It is the shadow of the abyss that robs life of all meaning. In the classic book, the “Denial of Death,” Ernest Becker shows how the fear of death operating on a subconscious level influences and actually controls a lot of our thinking and actions.  In view of this, one would have to conclude that to bring one’s life under control you would have to have something to deal with death on a conscious and subconscious level. Well, God gave us this when He raised Jesus from the dead. The message of the resurrection is the best news that mankind has ever heard.  It frees us from the fear of death and empowers us to live a life of freedom and meaning.

Of course, we did not need Mr. Becker’s book to tell us about the power of death, for scriptures long go echoed the same thought.  The writer of the book of Hebrews says, ” Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death, he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death (Heb. 2:14-16).  The apostle Paul actually says that death is the catalyst for mans sinning. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:56-57).  Note that Paul does not say death is the sting of sin but rather that sin is the sting of death. Though Paul does not tell us how death causes us to sin it is  plain that he is pointing to the fear of death as the source of much of our sinning. However, he also shares with us the good news that Christ has overcome death in his resurrection.  In the resurrection, God has placed us with Christ above sin and death giving us a victory over them in Christ (Eph.2:6). Now, that is good news. LD

 

 

 

 

Free Traders or Traders

Free Traders or Traders

 

The following is a recent report about the decline in wages in America.

Report: Manufacturing Decline And Low Skill Immigration Have Depressed Wages by CAROLINE MAY30 Jun 2015

“A recently published study from an economics professor concludes that the declining manufacturing base and increases in low skilled immigration have served to increase income inequality in the U.S.

“The overall evidence suggests that the manufacturing and immigration trends have hollowed-out the overall demand for middle-skilled workers in all sectors, while increasing the supply of workers in lower skilled jobs. Both phenomena are producing downward pressure on the relative wages of workers at the low-end of the income distribution,” reads the abstract to Hebrew University Professor Eric Gould’s paper.

He examined data over the forty years. In “Explaining the Unexplained: Residual Wage Inequality, Manufacturing Decline, and Low-Skilled Immigration” Gould reveals that changes in wages, employment, and income inequality have been impacted by the shifts in manufacturing, immigration and trade:

The last four decades have witnessed a dramatic change in the wage and employment structure in the United States and many other developed countries. The wage gap between earners at the top versus the bottom of the distribution have widened, and research has been unable to explain this transformation with changes in the quantities or the returns to observable factors like education, experience, occupation, and industry. At the same time, the manufacturing sector has steadily declined, while less-skilled immigrants have increasingly become a larger proportion of the population in the United States.

Specifically, Gould concludes that an area already being hit by a decline in manufacturing will see more inequality if there is more low-skilled immigration:

The results show that an influx of less-educated immigrants increases inequality, especially in areas that are undergoing manufacturing decline. A similar interaction is shown to affect the employment rate of non-college graduate native men – an increase in immigration coupled with a decline in manufacturing lowers the employment rate of less-educated men. The similarity of the results for inequality and the employment rate of non- college men reinforce the interpretation that these two phenomena are putting downward pressure on the wages of less skilled men – thus increasing inequality primarily at the bottom half of the wage distribution and encouraging more and more men to drop out of the labor market altogether.

In total, Gould concludes that some of the previously unexplained inequality increase since the 1970s has been due to the intersection of declining manufacturing and increased low-skilled immigration.

This paper establishes an important link between inequality within all sectors and the general equilibrium impact of manufacturing decline and an influx of less- skilled immigration. These two phenomena, which do not appear to be related to one another … generated a decline in the overall demand for middle skilled work and an increase in the supply of workers looking to work in less-skilled jobs. As a result, variation in the extent to which a city or state experienced either one of these phenomena explains a large proportion of why the ‘unexplained’ level of inequality increased over time”

The following is my commentary on the report. This reports links American immigration policies and its free trade policy to  a decline of wages. You do not need to be a brain surgeon to figure this out. There are only two reasons why American politicians refuse to see this. One, they are in the pocket of big corporations that are  benefiting from our unfair trade policies. Secondly, they are simply obtuse and brainwashed by a fictional theory of economics fostered by big business. In either case I do not want to see these people as leaders in our government. They are either dishonest or just stupid.

Now let’s follow the dots. Who is pushing open borders and more immigration. Who is promoting more free trade? What two presidents signed the free trade bills. Who benefited from free trade? Unions or big business, the working class or big corporations. Wake up America, The leadership in both parties are selling us out.

If you do not  know which president signed the free trade agreement it was President Bill Clinton and president Obama. Which parties supported the treaties? Both the Democrats and Republicans. Who running for president has promised to correct unfair trade policies. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. The rests are free traders. Out the Those running for president who has promised to slow down immigration and the flow of cheap labor into the country? Bernie Sanders no, Donald Trump yes. Other Republicans and Democrats have said that they would like to slow down immigration but their reason is questionable. It seems that it not to protect the American worker. If these two problems are not taken care of in the next decade America will be a third world country. LD

 

The Voice of God

images

The Voice of God

Ps 19:1-4

The heavens are telling the glory of God;

and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

  Day to day pours forth speech,

and night to night declares knowledge.

  There is no speech, nor are there words;

their voice is not heard;

  yet their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.

Many today believe that there is no God or if there is, He is distant and aloof.  The first group we call Atheists and the second we call Deists.  However,  in scripture, both Old and New Testaments depict a God that is near. This can be summed up with the words of Saint Paul.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life, breath, and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Acts 17:24-28).

In this section of scripture we see a number of very interesting things.  However, for our discussion we need to focus on the latter half of the section where Paul makes some bold statements concerning the nature of his deity.  He said, “God is not far from each one of us.”  Then he says that we live and move in Him and we have our being in Him” In this Paul set forth a lofty and radical view of the uncreated one i.e. God, a view that is not heeded or believed by many even in the Christian movement.

First, he points out that there are no sacred places in which the deity dwells. The implication is that the God of heaven and earth cannot be contained in anything built by human hands, neither can he be served by any priesthood of men. The coming of Christ has made sacred places and sacred men obsolete.  In Christ, all men and places have been made sacred by the work of Christ.  In this, Christ was the end of all religion as a system of mediation.

What is Paul saying about God?  He surely is implying that the deity is not some impersonal distant deity that has no interest in the affairs of men; to the contrary, he seems to be saying that the God of heaven and earth created humanity with a curiosity and then gave him  clues in nature that would allow man to find Him.  It is in these clues that man hears the voice of God.

What are some of the clues that the deity gives to man? Well, he gave him the sense of awe.  We humans are the  only creatures that have the ability to experience awe and wonder. For that reason, we are the only animal that worships.  The next time you are on a high place and look out over God’s good earth and you have a sense of awe come over you, try to hear the voice of God speaking to you in that experience. It helps to be alone in a very quiet place.  God often speaks in a very soft voice.

The writer of Psalms said “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day, they pour forth speech; night after night, they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”  It is obvious, that this man believed that when he sat under the starry sky and looked up that he could hear the voice of God. If you want to give your faith a boost, just look up.  You may hear the stars speak to you of the Creator.

Still, another clue might be mans passion for fairness and justice. It seems that men everywhere want things put right. Could this desire for fairness and justice be the echo of Gods voice?  Could the sense that things are not right be the voice of God?  There is a sense that something is wrong, echoes throughout the scriptures. “All have sinned and are falling short of the glory of God.” This is one reason why people of faith call the scriptures ‘the word of God’, because it has  a ring of truth; a truth that echoes in the human experience.

In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankl suggests that in every human being there is an  intrinsic need to have meaning.  Could this inner cry for meaning be the voice of God calling us to find our purpose in him?  Saint Augustine said, “Our souls are restless until they find rest in God”.

In the above Scripture Saint Paul also seems to be saying that the deity with which he is speaking about exists in another dimension, other than we humans.  In fact, He encompasses all the dimensions, for He created them.  Some moderns have criticized Christians for believing that God was up there in sky, but it is obvious that Paul believed God filled the entire space-time continuum and more. The mistake of some is to take literally the metaphoric language of the Bible that speaks of heaven as literally up.

One thing is obvious, if Paul is right about the deity, the deists who believe in an aloof distant God are wrong in their interpretation of God’s nature.  If we live and move in the uncreated one, he surely is aware of every hair on our head as Jesus said.  It also seems that if we are that close to God we should be able to sense his presence. “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.  For in him we live and move and have our being.”  Paul is inferring that God has revealed Himself, sufficed that men ought to seek Him and if they seek with all their heart they will find the Total Other.  No half hearted search is sufficient, the true God is not easy to find. However, He is self-evident to the pure in heart. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God”. Therefore, the place to begin your search is to purify your heart.

When a scientist has a  hunch that there is more than meets the eye, they begin to search for the answer. If they do not have the tools for their search they create them.  When they wanted to search the heavens, they created the telescope.  When they wanted to search the microscopic world, they created the microscope.  After creating their tools and collecting their findings, they then passed that knowledge on to their disciples.  Likewise, in man’s search for God, men basically did the same thing.  When men beheld the greatness of creation and its order, it forced them to seek the architect that created such an awesome universe. They then created their tools that could help them find God.

What are those tools? Well, it may surprise you but some of the tools are the telescope and microscopic.  You see, both of these tools of science demonstrated how complex and orderly the universe really is; in that they point to and reveal a designer and a lawgiver. Therefore, in a sense they were both a word and a clue from God that tell us something about God’s greatness. The early natural philosophers (scientists) would say that there are two books which reveal God; the book of nature and the book of Scripture. Scientists study the book of nature. Theologians study the book of Scripture, both books point to the uncreated one.

I personally believe that there is a third book that we could call the book of humanity. If we look at man, we see a creature, which the bible says was created in the image of God. If mankind is created in God’s image and likeness, we then should be able to learn a lot about God from studying man. The author of Ecclesiastes says that God has placed eternity in the hearts of men. He learned this about man by observing and talking to men and woman about their thought world.  He concluded that humanity in general believes in more than what is seen and perceived by their physical senses. They seem to have an intuitive sense that there is something more than the scene. Could it be the sense and vague remembrance that they were created  for the stars or at least another world. Could this be a clue from God? Could it be that, this sense or desire for another place is the thing that is driving modern man’s quest for outer space? Could this other worldliness be a vague remembrance of our origin and purpose? Could this sense, be God drawing us to himself and the stars?

Of course, some will dismiss this as only suggestive and intuitive.  However, can we totally dismiss the intuitive?  I think if we do; we do so at our own peril.  Not long ago I read a book on fear in which the author pointed out that many people had used their intellect to dismiss their fear to their own  ruin.  He pointed to numerous situations where people sensed intuitively they should not be in a place or with a certain person.  Yet, they used their reason to dismiss the fear to their own  demise.  The question is, have many silenced the voice of God with their reason, and therefore missed some of the clues that God has given them? How about you?

 

Burden of Proof

Burden of Proof

What about the burden of Proof?  There seems to be three definitions for what the burden of proof means. There is the philosophical definition that is used in debates where the burden of proof is on the person making a claim for something. Then there is legal definition that varies from country to country. In the United States, the legal burden of truth is on the prosecutor. Then there is, what you might call the agreed-on  burden of truth where two people holding opposite views agree on each taking turns to affirming a proposition with the other taking the negative. The latter form of the burden of truth is what is practiced tacitly in a normal discussion.

It could also be argued that if one is challenging a recognized consensus of a culture or a discipline, the burden of proof would be on the challenger. For instance, if a person challenges a theory of science in which there is a consensus that a theory is correct the burden of proof would be on the one challenging the consensus, e.g. the big-bang theory. The scientific community does not accept that it has the burden of proof to prove to every individual in the culture that what it says is, in fact, the truth. The burden of proof is on the one questioning the consensus.

One fallacy of the skeptic is that many of them seem to believe placing the burden of proof on the believer in some fashion wins the debate, as though the one who has a so-called non-belief has nothing to prove. If the believer makes a positive affirmation, he has no burden of proof until someone questions the truthfulness of his statement. If the questioner offers evidence for his doubt, he also, then shares in the burden of proof in proving his evidence against the affirmation.

Let’s assume that atheism is a non-belief, would it not follow that if you had no obligation to support it or prove it, that it would be equally hard to speak about it in any way negative or positive. This would infer that the atheist, if consistent, should not spend a lot of time talking about a non-belief. Yet, we find them writing books and articles about their non-belief all the time, attempting to support and establish it by an appeal to philosophy and science. How in the world can you support something that does not exist, i.e. an non-belief? One man has said that to claim that atheism is not a belief is like saying anarchy is not really a political position.

Let us again, assume that atheism is a non-belief as the atheist often asserts. What if someone simply asked them if they believe in a God and they responded, “No, I’m an atheist”. The person who questioned them could simply respond naturally by asking the question, “Why are you an atheist?” According to atheism, the right response should be “I don’t have to answer it because atheism is a non-belief.” Who has the burden of proof?

Now if we reverse this line of questioning and have someone ask a believer “Do you believe in a God?” and the believer says, “Yes I do”, this response would then put the burden of proof on the believer, especially if the person in turn asked “Why?” This is an example of the agreed on burden of proof, which is just a part of ordinary conversation.

It would also seem rational if the atheist used science or philosophy  in an attempt to prove his worldview or his atheism. He must accept the burden of proof in regard to his arguments from science or philosophy for he has shifted the burden of proof from his non-belief to those beliefs. So the great emphasis that atheists put on the burden of proof and atheism being a non-belief seems to be a lot of twaddle.

The Death of Religious Freedom?

The Death of Religious Freedom?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 

It is interesting to note that the very first amendment to the Constitution was the amendment guaranteeing religious freedom to all. We are not sure as to why it was the first amendment, but I suspect that it had to do with the idea that the most basic of rights is for a human being to have the right to think what they want about anything and especially their standing with God. It’s obvious that the founding fathers valued religious freedom and thought religion to be important for the general welfare of the nation. I’m not sure the same could be said about their heirs. It seems that Americans take their religion and religious freedom for granted. But should they? I think not, for being free to exercise your religious beliefs is rare in most parts of the world and the majority of people have little rights to exercise their faith as they desire.

In fact, the only places that have true religious freedom are Europe, the United States, and few other countries that have been influenced by Christianity and classic liberalism[1] and have not yet been brought under the spell of atheistic communism. I say this to point out that religious freedom is rare and should be protected from all that would destroy it. It is quite obvious that the common denominator among the nations where people are persecuted for their religious faith and speaking out for freedom are where either the majority is Muslim or the ruling oligarchy is atheist. There is every reason to believe that when the numbers of Muslims or atheists[2] reach a large enough number in any country, the persecution of other religions and beliefs will start begin. In Europe where Muslims number 10% to 20% of the population, people are already being intimidated by threats of death if they speak out against Islam. There’s no reason to think it  won’t happen in our future. In fact, at their present birth rate Muslims will be one of the largest political groups in the country by 2050. Some estimate the number as high as 40 to 50 million.

In atheistic countries in the pass, it has been estimated that as few as 10% were true atheists and party loyalists. Yet, they were able to suppress religious freedom and almost every other ideology that opposed them.  At the present rate of growth the new atheist, a group of atheists who reflect many of the characteristics of the communistic atheist[3] of Russia and China, could easily be 10% of the US population in a short time.

With these forces of atheism and Islam growing in the world, I believe any thoughtful person who values freedom of thought and religion would be somewhat alarmed by the growth of these two ideologies. The only way to counteract this ideology is to make a positive faith affirmation.

[1] I use the expression classic liberalism because new liberal or progressives are somewhat antagonistic toward religion.

[2] There are two types of atheist, the old type which views religion as neutral or a necessary evil and are sometimes even supportive of religion when it is doing good. Then there is the new atheist who despises religion and believes it to be the greatest evil under heaven with them having the obligation to destroy it.

[3] The new atheists are deconstructionist of the most fundamental kind. Like the atheists of the French revolution and the Russian Revolution, they are filled with anger and hatred which flows from their nihilism. Their nihilism has its roots in the failed utopian vision of the ideology. They have the tendency to blame God and religion for the evil in the world and believe that their ideology will usher in a utopia. I believe that this group would suppress religion anyway that they could, this includes violence. Richard Dawkins, one of the founders of the new atheist has already encouraged his followers to mock and ridicule religious people publicly. On 24 March 2012 at 2:55 PM, Richard Dawkins propagated militant atheism at the “Reason Rally” [sic], encouraging his audience to “Mock them [believers], ridicule them in public.” this can be seen on You Tube.