Believing Science, Believing Theology

Believing Science, Believing Theology

Have you ever wondered why humans view the world, the way they do?  If you have noticed, they have quite a diverse opinion on just about everything.  In many cases even the thing they agree on, if you were to ask them to think a little deeper, they will begin to disagree.  It seems that thinking in itself does not bring about a unity of opinion.

If we honestly trained our minds to separate a fact from our opinion, which is our interpretation of the facts, we could at least agree on the facts.  You could say that facts are like stones that are lying on the ground.  They have no inherent means other than they are stones lying on the ground.  Similarly, the ground that they are lying on also is a fact.  However, when a human comes along and picks up the stones and begins to ask himself questions about them, such as how, when and why, i.e. to give an explanation of the facts, we then have moved away from the facts and have moved into an interpretation of the facts.  The problem with many people is that they cannot discern the difference between what is their opinion or their interpretation of the facts, and what the facts themselves truly are.

The discipline of science is an effort to determine what interpretation of the facts best represents the facts.  Of course, this is conditional on the scientific community agreeing on what the facts are, but sometimes theoretical science cannot accomplish this merely because the facts are unobservable.  Sometimes scientists must first create an instrument to prove the existence of the facts and then they must have a system to guard their interpretation of the facts. The process that they use to do this is called the scientific method

The same principle applies to theology.  Theology is or should be about the business of sorting out what interpretation of God best reflects the facts.[1]  Like science, this is contingent on the community recognizing certain facts and having the tools to find and interpret those facts.  In the case of Christian theology, the fact would have to be the words of the Apostle and what could be inferred about God from nature and person of Jesus Christ.  One problem we have with theology is that things inferred are not necessarily facts, but more resemble an interpretation of the facts. However, this problem is often found in science as well.

The biggest difference between science and theology is the community explanation of what are the facts.  In science, the fact should be physical and be observable.  However, this is not true in many of the so-called sciences.  For example, in much of evolution science or in psychiatry the scientific method is not possible, which in some people’s minds raises the question of whether or not these disciplines are truly a science?  I would say in the most rigid way of thinking that they are not.  Some, to note the differences between the sciences, use the term soft and hard.  Hard sciences are those sciences that have physical facts to observe like physics or biology.  The soft sciences are like psychology and sociology.

In Christian theology, the facts are also physical.  Christians believe that at one time God revealed himself in Christ.  That Christ was physically present and worked miracles to prove his identity.  Like science, there was also a community of men that witnessed His existence and his miracles.  They claimed that they saw, heard and handled this fact from God (1 John 1:1-4).  Now if these witnessed and experienced events were going to be falsified, they would have by the very nature of the evidence, had to have been falsified in the current time frame of their happening.  They were not falsified, although there were attempts to do so.

In science as in religion, the facts are often one step, or many steps removed from the facts and cannot or have not been observed or experienced by most men.  In the community of faith, members believe that some men have observed the facts and therefore have a better knowledge of the facts than others.  This is not only true in the faith community but also in the scientific community.  Members of the scientific community, like the faith community, believe and accept by faith what the scientific community says about the facts, even though they have not seen the facts personally.  Not only do they accept the existence of unobserved facts, but they also accept the scientific community interpretation of these unobserved facts, for they have neither the facts nor the expertise to question them.

However, this process of acquiring knowledge for the faith community is not as different from the scientific community as some scientists would have us to believe.  The other day I was listening to an audiobook about Einstein’s theory of relativity and in the opening statement the authority, who is a Physicist, said that he believes that there were only a few men in the world that truly understood what Einstein was saying.  I have read similar admissions by other men in other disciplines.  I remember one, which pointed out that there were very few men that headed up any discipline that actually looked at the facts.  The rest of the members of the discipline gained their knowledge through the community, texts, and schools.  The majority of men believed not because of the evidence, but because they believed what the community taught them.  In the majority of these cases, the evidence is never checked by the students of the discipline.  In those circumstances, the majority of people’s beliefs are very much like those of religion, i.e. dogma.  When you look at it this way, there are very few men in any discipline that really handle the facts and observed them firsthand.  In essence, you could say that there are very few men that actually do science and the same thing holds true of those that do theology.  In Christian theology, we could say only the Apostles of Jesus actually did theology.

In science, as in theology, there are certain assumptions that must be made to carry out science.  Scientists must believe in the uniformity of nature and the law of cause and effect, otherwise, they could not do science.  They must believe in a pattern that can be found in nature, which can be analyzed and measured.  As Einstein said, “God does not play dice with the universe”.  Of course, it must be noted that some younger scientists believe He does.  Though that view is not the one that is accepted or used by the scientific community.  Mainly because it would destroy the community.

In Christian theology, the assumptions are that there is a God[2] and that God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ.  These assumptions are accepted as facts by the Christian community.  If you do not accept them, you cannot logically do Christian theology.  Of course, you could write about Christian theology as I write about science and I am not a scientist.  This may or may not be a disadvantage.  It is often hard for a fish in a bowl to see itself as others do.  Sometimes being in a discipline is very much like being like a fish in a bowl.  Those outside the bowl may have a clearer view of the fish and the bowl, than the fish that is inside the bowl.

I think this will help to understand why we often think, the way we think.  Our thinking seems to be largely dependent on our habits of thought; and our habits of thought depend to on a large degree, on the community that we belong to, or lack of one.  Now by the community, I mean formal and informal.  Formal communities are groups like a family, religious organizations, professional groups or political parties.  The informal communities are your friends, the books you read, and the places or the field that you work in.  In the broader sense the formal community will often influence the informal ones reading habits and other social habits of the individual.  In most cases, the community does a large amount of thinking for the individual, which is a hard pill to swallow for those that like to think of themselves as free thinkers.  The greatest amount of our freedom of thought comes from our freedom to choose a community that will greatly influence our thinking.

The implications of this are many.  One of the obvious ones is that it is the community that does the educating of the individual that comes into it.  The community imparts its view of the world, which all in the group will believe is the correct view.  Another obvious thing is that the community not only inputs its knowledge into the individual, but it also inputs its biases and its attitude, i.e. its spirit.  It is also obvious that it is very hard to change or correct a belief in a community.  It often takes the death of an entire generation, which allows a free flow of ideas.  So, what we gather from this the community can enlighten, and can also blind the individual. This is true of the scientific community or a community of faith, as noted in Thomas Kuhn’s book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”.

The Christian faith, unlike any other faith, is much like science because it is based on a physical happening.  That is the coming of the Logos (Christ) into flesh, his life, death, and his resurrection.  All of these things were observed by men.  These men, in turn, wrote down their experience and observation of the Logos in the book we call the New Testament. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1-3).

Note in this scripture that the apostles’ beliefs were grounded in facts.  They claimed to hear, touch and see the man that they preached about. Their beliefs were not based on second-hand information learned from a book, but rather they were based on first-hand experiences.  All of the Apostles of Jesus, but one, were killed for their faith and yet not one of them recanted their belief in Jesus.  This seems to be better evidence than most scientific theories come up with and I have not heard of too many scientists dying for their theories.  Yet today you have people that believe that the Christian community has no right to preach the message of Christ because they did not witness it.  However, if that is the case how does a high school science teacher have a right to teach science which he has not personally observed?  What right would anyone have to teach that humans came from a common ancestor or that a lizard evolved into a bird?  Has anyone ever observed it actually happening?  No, they have not, and they will never observe these things.

The Apostles of Jesus observed Jesus and the miracle of his resurrection.  They also created a community of men that they left their knowledge with.  This community was then told by them to take that knowledge to the world.  Some have tried to explain this away by saying that Jesus never lived.  However, if that is the case how can you explain the existence of a community of thousands built around his death and resurrection, shortly after his death?

Some may respond by saying that religion believes in miracles and science believes in facts.  Before we take a close look at this statement, let us define our terms.  A fact is something that e exists in itself.  It stands by itself and needs no explanation or interpretation.  Let us use our original example of the stones, or rocks on the ground.  Let’s say that I was walking alone and saw some rocks laying on the ground.  The rocks on the ground are a fact and in that statement, the ground would also be a fact.  If you asked me how the rocks got there and I said I saw a truck dump them there, the placement of the rocks would be a fact for me, but not for you.  You see a fact must be a thing that is able to be observed.  Therefore, the placing of the rocks would be a fact for me because I personally witnessed it.  The placing of the rocks would be a theory for you based on my testimony.  Now the strength of the theory would depend on the credibility of the witness.  Now, a theory can never become a fact to you unless you had a time machine to go back in time to the point where the rocks were dumped on the ground.  The best you could do is try to find more witnesses that might confirm the witness’s testimony.  The more witnesses the greater the probability that the witness is telling the truth and that the thing really happened or existed.  You may increase the probability of how the rocks got on the ground, but you can never make a theory, a fact.  Even if you were to take a truck and dump thousands of rocks upon the ground, all you could do is increase the probability of your theory.  So, when you hear someone say that the theory of evolution has become a fact, you know that you are talking to someone that has some fuzzy thinking going on in their head.  You might ask them if they were there when it happened.

I think now we may be ready to talk about science, religion, and miracles.  We all know that religion believes in miracles, but do the facts bear out that science does not believe in them?   Before going there we need to ask, what is a miracle?  To me, a miracle is something that is super-natural i.e. beyond a natural explanation.  If this is true, science should not hold to anything that cannot be explained by natural causes, within the framework of uniformity of nature.  Yet, when we open a freshman science book, we are immediately confronted with the big bang theory of how the universe, time, space and matter, came out of nothing.  We are even told when it happened, some 17 billion years ago.  So, here we have a scientific theory that sounds very much like the first verse of the book of Genesis, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth”.  Now, here’s the kicker, science says their theory is science and Genesis is religion.  One view is scientific and the other is a belief in a miracle.  The miracle of ex nihilo-the creation of something out of nothing.  But how can one viewpoint be a miracle and the same viewpoint science?  Someone might argue that it has been observed that the universe is expanding, which proves the big bang theory and that the universe had a beginning.  But this would raise the question, “If the universe, space and time are expanding what did they initially expand out from if neither space and time existed?  Does the evidence for the big bang prove the miracle of creation?  Does it prove the existence of God?  I do not believe so.  However, it does leave the door open for something to exist outside of time and space, and that something could be God.  It would also leave the door open for that God to come into space and time, and even to alter it.  Otherwise, you have to believe that something came from nothing.

Is not something coming from nothing a miracle?  I would say it is one of the greatest miracles ever recorded.  If you can believe in something coming from nothing, then believing in the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine is nothing, for we see nature turning water into wine every day, Jesus just sped up the process.  However, something out of nothing? That’s a big one.

[1]  Some may say that Theology has no facts. But they have the facts of existence and consciousness.

[2] To some degree all of our assumptions are based on the primal assumption that we exist. Both the scientist and the theologian assume that they exist and begin with that as a fact.

Consumer Politics and Propaganda

Consumer Politics and Propaganda

 A new kind of politics is being practiced in America with new and old forms of propaganda.  I call it consumer politics. It begins with party leaders looking for special interest groups that can support their party.  Then they try to sell themselves to the group as the party that can get them what they want.  In essence, the party leadership is looking for consumers that will buy their leadership with their vote.  When the party finds their consumers, they then begin the propaganda to get the rest of the party to support the new special interest group.  Once they have enough of the party faithful convinced, they move on to try to win the sympathy of the general public.  Of course, at the same time, looking for more special interest groups so they can buy their votes; as time goes on the available groups get smaller and their issue gets more and more absurd.

One of the most effective forms of propaganda used by the party leaders is for them to get the party members to view the special interest group that is come on board as the underdog.  By making the new special interest the underdog you can manipulate the emotions of people and make an appeal to their compassion while demonizing the opposition.  With this technique, you can actually make the party faithful feel virtuous when supporting evil.  Once this underdog value system is set up in the minds of people, all other values will take a back seat.  We see an extreme case of this in some Americans who view the terrorist as underdogs and therefore come to their defense.  The question to these folks is no longer who is right or wrong or what is good or evil, but who is the underdog?  The underdog is always right, and the overdog is always wrong.  This form of propaganda is especially affective by those involved in class warfare.  In class warfare, the overdogs, who are the rich, demonize except for the one on the underdogs’ team.

Both the Nazis and the Communists used underdog propaganda to further their agenda.  The Nazis made the Jews the over dogs that controlled all the money and the medical profession and the German people were betrayed as the underdogs.  This gave the right and yes, the obligation to deal with this problem.  Of course, Hitler came up with the final solution.  The Communists used the same tactic on the rich and finally on the middle class, making them overdogs that the proletariat had to overthrow.

Another form of manipulation is to subtlely change the subject without letting your opponent and the audience knowing it.  To do this effectively the new subject must be emotionally charged and have a personal interest and benefit to the people you are trying to manipulate.  The best example of this is the abortion issue.  The debate was changed from abortion and when life starts, to woman’s rights.  This change in subject effectively closed the debate for the party faithful which now feel justified that they and their party are the virtuous ones for protecting women’s rights, even while being responsible for millions of abortions.

The pro-abortion movement was also aided by throwing into the mix lifeboat ethics, which basically used the fear of overpopulation to promote and justify abortion and at the same time giving people the feeling that they were saving the world by supporting abortion.  Lifeboat ethics propaganda was used intensely in the sixties to sway a whole party into supporting abortion even though it was contrary to their religious beliefs, which demonstrates the power of propaganda that is based on our fears and selfishness.

These forms of propaganda are being used by the gay rights movement.  They effectively changed the subject from a moral question to a civil rights issue with the help of a political party that wanted their support.  They then marketed the idea that they were the underdogs, being discriminated against as the blacks.  They accomplished this through their party and the help of the media, even though gay’s educational lever is higher than the average American and their income is much higher than the average American.  However, once you win the underdog status you cannot lose in American.  We love the underdog even if he is wrong.

Still another example of supporting the underdog whether right or wrong is the conflict between the nation of Israel and the Arab nations around them.  When Israel was viewed as the underdog everyone was on their side.  However, when the issue was changed from the nations around them to the Palestinians who were viewed as the underdogs, many turned against Israel even though in many cases Israel was right morally.

What does this do to people and political parties?  It puts a political party into the category of a religion, a place that no political party should occupy.  In essence, the party begins to shape people’s values and their loyalties through its propaganda.  I personally know a number of people that put their parties’ platform before their religious teachings.  Having your party serve as your religion also allows people to get a feeling of rightness for supporting the party no matter what the party is doing.  This is exactly what happened in Germany and Russia.  It seems to me that a feeling of righteousness should come from doing good, not from being a member of a political party. Lyle


God is Self-Evident

God is Self-Evident

People that I have talked to or those that have read my blog, know that I believe that faith in the existence of supreme intelligence or consciousness is a self-evident truth.  A self-evident truth is a truth that a majority of men recognize through natural instincts.  That is, by men who have not had their reasoning corrupted by false beliefs and ideologies.

Some might raise the objection, ‘if the existence of God is self-evident, why are there so many that do not see it?’  Jesus said, “some people have eyes but do not see”.  Sometimes overexposure deadens our sensitivity to a thing.  We are often actually insensitive to our senses until they are impaired in some way.  We seldom think about seeing out of our eyes until something threatens our sight.  When we look out a window, we will not often see the glass unless we focus on it.  The reason being, we have given our full attention to the things we are watching outside the window.  However, if the window is dirty or has a crack in it, we see it immediately.  The problem with modern man is that he is too focused on things to see God.  This lack of sight is encouraged by our capitalistic and materialist culture that focuses people more on the physical than the existential and metaphysical realities.

The source of much unbelief could be contributed to the culture and environment that one grows up in.  Some men grow up in families and cultures that are anti-metaphysical and are dominated by the materialistic mindset.  If one grows up in such a culture, they absorbed a state of rebellion against God as normal or they are simply indifferent towards spirituality, without even knowing or understanding why they do not believe in God.  They literally have had their minds washed of the idea of God; literally, they have been brainwashed and immersed in doubt to the point that it seems normal for them.

They are ignorant of God because they have neglected the knowledge of God, (secular culture) and have failed to follow the natural revelation of God in nature that leads people to faith in God.  They trust in and exalt reason about what is reasonable.  Reason is a wonderful thing, but it has its limits and it has the propensity to become the handmaid of our passions and our will and for some men, reason has become a sick lady infected with finiteness and sin which has led to total madness.

It was for this reason that the scientific method was created to help keep science honest.  However, we are beginning to see that the problem is too hard to deal with through laws and methods because mankind uses reason to get around the law.  Mankind needs grace to deal with sin and to keep reason honest.

When I give a reason for something, I must subsequently give a reason for the reason and then a reason for that reason.  This regression would be infinite until I came to the end of reason itself.  We have one or two choices; to follow the regression of reason to the end of reason or follow it to a first cause.  If you are an atheist and deny that the first cause is ‘Intelligent’, your problem becomes insurmountable.  You will inevitably end up denying reason or make it the first cause and in that, you have made reason god and might I add, a very small god.  Moreover, reason will find its end when it comes up against itself, for how can reason explain itself without arguing in circles or chasing its own tail.  “I believe in reason because that is what reason says to believe.” or “I believe in reason because my philosophy professor said I should believe in it and he learned it from Plato, who learned it from reason”.

Am I saying that I do not believe in reason?  No, I am simply saying that reason has its limits and be careful not to ask too much of her.  She is not infallible and without a proper foundation to reason from, she is like a man trying to ride a wild horse, she can kill you.  Reason is a gift from God and was given as a tool to help us find our way on our journey.  If we corrupt her, we do so at our own peril.  If we make her into God, we bring the wrath of God upon ourselves.  “You shall not have any other gods before you.”  We make reason into god when we turn reason into rationalism.  The difference between reason and rationalism is that reason knows her limits, rationalism does not and in this, rationalism is unreasonable and even stupid.


Is God Personal? A Letter to a Deist



Is God Personal? A Letter to a Deist

It would seem it is quite hard to say anything about the deity seeing that the sizes of the universe demonstrate that God is far advanced over us mere mortals.  It would seem presumptuous of us to say anything about him, especially if those ideas lessoned his character in any way. Therefore, to say that he is personal or impersonal would be a presumptuous statement limiting him by imposing a human characteristic upon him. It seems it would be closer to the truth to refer to Him as trans-personal or beyond personality,  personality being a human characteristic. Jesus hints at this when he said that the deity knows every hair on our heads. This would indicate that His personal knowledge must be far greater than any human being. This might raise the question does not a personal knowledge of someone infer in itself a degree of a personal relationship?

The bigger question is, Why would one want to believe that the deity is impersonal? Would believing in a universe with an impersonal God be any different than a universe without a God? It surely is more convenient and comfortable to live in the universe with an impersonal God than a trans-personal one that might hold men responsible for their behavior. It does seem to me that belief in an impersonal God is not much different from atheism on a pragmatic level. The benefit of such a belief or non-belief would simply be to avoid any uncomfortable conclusion about God. It also would give one the convenience and comfort of avoiding some hard questions and decisions about life and death.

Of course, the truth is, if there is a divine trans-personal God like the Biblical God it really does not matter what we believe about Him. We still will be judged by His will and our decisions or even the lack of them. It will not matter whether or not we ignore or dodge the questions. The safe position is to believe in a trans-personal God. If there is no trans-personal god, it really doesn’t matter. Does it? However, if there is that would open the possibility that we share in some of his characteristics like anger and love. It comes back to whether or not you believe that man created God in his image or God created man in his.

Moreover, to say that God is impersonal is to say that billions of people that claim to have a relationship with Him are delusional or simply liars. Such a belief would have to be totally subjective unless you could get into the skin of every one of those people that claim they have a relationship with God. The most that any person could say is I personally do not have a relationship with God. Of course, because an individual does not have a relationship with God does not mean or prove that God is impersonal and has no personal relationship with any humans. It also seems that a lack of faith in a personal God would slam the door shut on having any experience with God. Why would a person want to do that? If a person has the choice of living in a universe where there is a personal God or a universe where there is no trans-personal God why would anyone choose the impersonal? We all have reasons for our beliefs and it seldom reason.

Libertarianism A Christian Heresy?

Libertarianism A Christian Heresy?

It is common knowledge that Christianity has been the predominant worldview for 2000 years in the west.  Whether people like it or not you can see traces of its influence in every area of western life.  It has influenced every paradigm and ideology that has been created in the west from philosophy to political ideology.  Even its greatest critics have been influenced by it, such as Nietzsche and his idea of the Overman.

In this article, I’d like us to look at some of the strange similarities between libertarianism and early Christian thought.  However, before we can do this you must understand what the Bible, mainly the apostle Paul, says about the relationship of Christians to the law.  The apostle Paul in his writings sets forth the doctrine of salvation by grace, through faith, apart from keeping the laws of religion (Eph 2:8-10).   Paul taught that when a person accepts Christ as the Messiah, they would be given the Spirit of God which would be equal to giving them a new internal moral compass to live by, resulting in them no longer needing the law of Moses or the religious law.  In other words, in his thinking becoming a Christian would be similar to becoming a new person under a new constitution.  This experience was so dynamic that Jesus spoke about it as a new birth (John 3:5).  It was as though God would give a person a new heart or mind, on which the law was written.  This new spirit would change people’s will from their own self will, to desiring to do God’s will and the power to do it.  This is the reason why Paul could claim that Christians don’t live by the law, but by the Spirit.  He could say that the law kills, but the Spirit gives life.  He also could admonish Christians not to put themselves back under the law, but to live by the Spirit. Paul even went so far as to say that the law, or the Commandments, were abolished by the death of Christ (Eph 2:15-16).

It doesn’t take much thought to see the similarities between Christianity and the attitude that Libertarians have towards law. Their attitude is that the law is not sufficient because it does not change the person.

However, the problem with libertarianism in contrast to Christianity is not so much its teachings, as it is the raw material that it has to work with, i.e. people without the Spirit of God. The whole of Paul’s theology was based on the belief that believers had the Spirit of God that empowered them to will and to do God’s will.  What the Libertarians have is nothing more than philosophical dogma which has no power to change the hearts and minds of people which is the real problem to begin with. In actuality, the Libertarian movement has enshrined their philosophy as another law similar to how the Jews and other religious people have done with the 10 Commandments and the Bible.

In this, libertarianism is very much like many philosophical and religious cults that believe if you get the right doctrinal system you can fix the world.  However, many libertarians have no will to do the right thing or much less the will of God, though some strands of libertarianism lay more stress on the concept of responsibility than others, for the majority the emphasis is placed on liberty at the expense of responsibility.

Libertarianism also contains a millennial or utopian hope which reflects the belief of many early Christians.  The difference is that early Christians believed that Jesus Christ would usher in the millennium or utopia with the second coming of Jesus Christ when he sets up God’s kingdom on earth.  Libertarians, on the other hand, believe that humans can do it through embracing the Libertarian movement, mainly the free marked or by getting rid of all law and government, which also reflects the goal of communism as taught by Karl Marx.  Marx believed that government or some form of the state was a temporary state of mankind as he moved towards a fulfilled communism utopia. Marx in his own right was a copycat of Christianity in his views of egalitarianism and the future utopia.

When considered in its historical and Christian context the Libertarian movement must be considered somewhat of a cult.  Of course, some of the Libertarian’s dogma and attitudes are totally contrary to Christianity.  As a movement that was crystallized in the French Revolution, they tend to hate authority of all kinds, which includes the hatred of God’s authority.  If you remember, the slogan of the French Revolution was “no king, no God.”  Though in recent years, the idea of God has pretty much been stripped from Libertarianism making it the most secular form of Western politics.  In the past large numbers of Libertarians were non-believers and outspoken against God and religion.  Even today you will find in the left-wing of the Libertarian movement, huge numbers of unbelievers and many Libertines that have rejected traditional morality in general.

Is Libertarianism compatible with Christianity?  The answer is absolutely not.  Libertarianism not only has its roots in Christianity but also in Liberalism and libertinism.  In essence, it is nothing more than a hodgepodge of Christian doctrine and a radical form of Liberalism.  To see the similarity between it and Liberalism all you have to do is put the word radical before the foundational concepts of Liberalism; radical individualism, radical egalitarianism, which would include radical democracy, which would border on mob rule.  Its radical individualism has its source in Darwinism and the dogma of the survival of the fittest.  Therefore, its dogmas favor the rich and the strong.  I think it would be fair to say that American Libertarianism has been captured by the Koch brothers who control Reason Magazine and the Cato Foundation which in America are the leading mouthpieces for their brand of Libertarianism.