A Letter to a Believer In Response to a Believer on The Existence of God Article

A Letter to a Believer

In Response to a Believer on The Existence of God Article

In my article on the existence of God, I surely was not trying to support fundamentalist creationism.  I was simply trying to show what I feel is a self-evident truth.  Self-evident truth is a truth that is evident, without any proof or argument to all men and can be experienced by our senses and known by our reason.  It is not a truth that can only be known by a priestly class of scientists who have some ‘secret knowledge’.  I am not a scientist, but I believe I have a good grasp on what can, and cannot be known by humans.

Evolution

You asked me what I believe about evolution.  From what I am able to observe, evolution as development is self-evident.  We can see it happening.  However, Darwin’s theory of evolution is not self-evident and he makes assumptions about the development of life which can never be proven by science, such as evolution being non-directed.  I believe that some intellectuals of modern science, as far as evolution is concerned, have claimed to know far too much and have especially over-spoken on their knowledge of  primitive earth[1].  If there is a discrepancy between science and faith it is not found in reality but in both sides over-speaking their position.

I believe that any explanation of existence must start with God-man together.  The problem with many scientists is that they want to explain everything by the dash.  They then define the dash as naturalistic evolution, which seems to be a radical form of reductionism.  I do not have a problem with studying the dash; the problem comes in when some intellectuals make it the whole show and attempt to explain  the embodiment of all existence by it.  This is like trying to define a car wholly by watching it being built on the assembly line and totally ignoring the designers, engineers and planners who worked on it before one bolt or screw was turned.  If we were to watch a car on the assembly line without considering its origin, i.e. the planners, designers and engineers, you would not even know its purpose.  You would have to sit around and theorize why it was built and what purpose it serves.  You might come to the conclusion that it has no purpose and decide to destroy it or regard it as worthless[2].  This seems to be similar to our situation today when science is trying to explain mankind and being befuddled on every turn.

Going back to my illustration of the assembly line, because no designers or testers are visible on the assembly line, we are told by those who manage the factory that we should presume that they do not exist. In fact, we are told that we should not even look for, or inquire about them because one of the laws of the factory says that you must not ask about them, since asking about them might bias your study of the car on the assembly line.  We are also told that the  method to understanding the car, is for us to study the nuts and bolts that hold the car together and that this will ultimately give us a complete understanding of the car.  What nonsense.

The Circle of Life

In my analogy of the circle of life I was attempting to depict the unequivocal whole of life, which I believe to points to a first cause.  In the Orient, life is understood to be a great circle.  We in the west see it as a linear line ascending gradually from the lesser to the higher, like an escalator being a perfect example.  We view life this way because we have interpreted evolution as directed and progressive.  That is, moving toward a goal.  However, Darwin and neo-Darwinian do not agree with this  image of an escalator as a symbol for their theory of evolution.  Evolution in Darwin’s mind and in the mind of many of his disciples is chaotic, undirected and unpredictable, which in my thinking puts it outside of the realm of science.  You cannot analyze something that is chaotic and unpredictable.  How can you apply the scientific method to such a phenomenon?  Does God throw dice?

However, in the circle of life we see progression or growth, then declension, and finally the circle ending with death, which points to a beginning and an end.  If we were to form a picture of the movement of life based on what we see in real history you would have a series of circles, which depict the circle of life moving into eternity on a horizontal line.  You could make each progressive circle larger denoting progress, but that might be debatable, depending on one’s definition of progress and how much you believe in the concept.  In the East, scientists are not as obsessed with the concept of progress or evolution as those in the West are, and they are much more inclined to question some theories of evolution.  Oriental cultures are older cultures, which have had many ups and downs and no longer get too excited about the ups (progress).

In contrast, those in the West seem to be obsessed with only one part of the equation of this circle of life (evolution or growth) which is why they depict existence as an ascending line and not a circle. They are actually taking the portion of the circle which we could call growth or ascension, and making it the whole circle.  This is a great example of dissecting the whole and then making one of the parts, the whole. This is the ultimate form of radical reductionism.  For example, in theology, the church has done the same thing to the gospel in making the death of Christ, which is a part of the atonement, the whole atonement.  Therefore, the resurrection has been eclipsed and even removed from the concept of the atonement, and reduced to a once a year celebration.  One could write a book on the reductionism of western science and theology.

I have been working on a book entitled “In Christ.” It is about the expression “In Christ” that is found in the New Testament 160 times. In the first chapter of the book, I analyze the reason for the disuse of the expression and people’s lack of understanding of it today. One reason for its neglect is reductionism; it was just too big of a concept for the western mind. The expression was dissected and then lost among the pieces. The same reductionism has been applied to just about everything in the west, including man himself. This reductionism has increased with specialization, which has created a new form of ignorance.

The Chain of Descent and Ascent

My purpose in giving a chain of descent and ascent, “…in the real world we see the lesser coming from the greater, the seed from the tree, the boy from the man, the machine from the human.”, was to demonstrate that evolution is not the ruling principle of nature.

When Henry Ford  built his first car, he knew what he was making, the car did not evolve from a screw or nut. It came from the mind of Henry. The screw and the nut already existed, which also came from someone’s consciousness, and Henry just incorporated them in his total equation.  However, the automobile cannot be totally be defined by only studying the screws or the nuts. It must be defined by the completed product.  After, it was created by a consciousness (Henry’s mind); it then evolved, or developed, into what we have today. If you put wings on it, it becomes something else and we start all over again with a new creation, just as it began in the mind of the Wright brothers. They used existing parts to make the whole.

God may have done something like that in creating higher life forms, from things that worked well with simple life forms. Remember in the begin God started with star-dust and made everything, including man. When a builder builds a house, he has a plan of what that house will be when completed. He has in his mind a completed house even before  the first nail is hammered. The house comes from the mind of the builder or architect who is greater than the house. The lesser from the greater is the ruling principle, not evolution. Evolution might have a minor effect on the construction time or phase of the house. However, it is not the end all and does not explain the existence of the house. It would make little difference, whether the construction phase (evolution) was fast or slow. It’s fast from God’s point of view, but slow from mans.

Therefore, I always begin my thinking with God for he is the Alpha and the Omega through whom all things exist and have their being. Where else could one start their thinking and reasoning? I believe this consciousness, which we call God, created the spiritual realm (unseen) and physical realm (seen) and for all we know they may be made of the same stuff, the spiritual (unseen matter) and physical (seen matter).  This view goes beyond dualism and gives three categories of existence.  (1) Absolute Consciousness would be the totally other or God.  (2) The spiritual would be the unseen dimension (heavens) where the angels dwell along with  unseen  things and stuff, which we have little knowledge of at this time.  If it is matter, it might be what some call dark matter or dark energy.  (3) The seen or visible world would be physical matter.  These categories could correspond to The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Father would represent total consciousness; the Son or Logos as matter, both seen and unseen, and the Spirit as force or energy.  This would be a semi-monist view, which could be accepted by theologians and some scientists who have a will to believe, yet are having a hard time putting the pieces together.  In this view, everything inside the universe would be made of the same stuff and leave God outside of it as creator and yet, creating it and coming into it, through the Logos.  In this, the Son would be the coming together of Spirit and matter.  Of course, there are people on both sides of the issue,  who would reject this view.

Progress

It was the humanists of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment which made progress and evolution the ruling principles by which modern man viewed just about everything.  Men of the Enlightenment had tremendous faith that human reason and initiatives would usher in a golden age or utopia.  Man would do what God could not do, i.e. create heaven on earth.  This belief caused them to have a fixation on growth and development, which still dominates Western culture to this day.  This focus on growth caused them to be somewhat blind to the fact that evolution or development is only one of the principles at work in the creation.

As stated above, I believe that all laws or principles, first took place in the mind of God in the beginning and then they are being worked out in what we humans call space-time.  A part of this working out is what science calls evolution.  To science, this working out is the whole show and therein lies their error, i.e. makes a part the whole.  If there is a ruling principle, I believe that it is death and not evolution.  Death has the final word and is reflected by the law of thermodynamics[3].  However, in the resurrection it seems to be Gods plan to redeem the creation. In essence, the resurrection would nullify the principle of death and turn it into life.  As for Christians, they believe that this new life from God has already entered the creation in the person of Christ and has been demonstrated in his resurrection.

Making evolution the ruling principle in the universe is like making the falling part in the story of Humpty Dumpty the whole story.  However, the story begins with him setting on a wall and ends with him smashing into pieces when he hits the ground and then the failed attempt of all the king’s men to put him back together again.  Not everything that is made or created evolves.  Some sit upon the wall for a time; some do not even make it to the wall, however, in the end-all fall and break into pieces.  The Second Law of Thermodynamics, i.e. everything is running down and dying, is not only a natural law, but it is also a biblical one.  (Note Rom 5:12).  Like Humpty Dumpty, we are falling down.  Time-space as we know it is like a movie of Humpty Dumpty’s fall run in slow motion.  It can only be called progress or growth (both are metaphors denoting up), in a very limited sense.  The ruling principle is death (down).  The progress that we seem to be experiencing now is nothing but a small bump in the fabric of the universe.  We see it as progress because we have trained ourselves to ignore where Humpty Dumpty started and his end.  All we see is him suspended in midair and we conveniently ignore that he is falling and will break into pieces.

When we talk about Humpty Dumpty falling down; down is a metaphor for death.  It depicts the loss of higher ground.  The only way up is resurrection, which becomes a metaphor for up only after you hit bottom.  In the resurrection, God will put Humpty Dumpty back together and back on the wall.  Jesus came down into this darkness to bring us up into the light.  He descended that we might ascend with him into an existence which has as its ruling principle, life.  In Christ, everything is up.

The concept of progress (up) was emphasized by the humanists of the enlightenment to replace the concept of heaven (up).  It is an Illusionary concept[4], which is absolutely needed by a secular or atheistic culture, for without it the culture would sink into despair and nihilism.  Of course, as the illusion of progress fades, which it must because it is not real, we will see Western culture slip into nihilism.  During the Renaissance and the Enlightenment when the West was experiencing growth in its economy and science, it was easy to believe in unlimited progress, because that was what the West was experiencing.  During this period the concept of declension (down) was set aside and totally ignored and still is today by many.  This denial of declension reaches its pinnacle in the denial of death itself.[5]  This blindness to declension is one of the things which has led Western culture to the edge of the abyss, and not one of us has escaped its influence. The blind faith in progress is the philosophical source of liberalism, communism and progressivism of all flavors.  It leads to a blind faith in mankind, which in the end means, the government.  It is also the chief source and foundation of humanism and utopianism.  All this comes from focusing on one part of the whole instead of the sum of the whole.  People that adopt this view have one eye shut and cannot see the whole picture.  All they see is Humpty Dumpty falling which strangely they see as progress.  Of course, this is fine if you’re whole life is about the study of falling.

However, the great myth of endless progress is now being questioned by a large number of thinkers and with its demise, we will probably see a revival of much true faith and a lot of atheism coupled with nihilism.  If the majorities choose atheism and nihilism, we will also see the resurrection of true Darwinism.  Darwin’s theory of evolution was really never accepted by the majority, for it was filtered through the concept of progress, which actually made it something other than true Darwinism.  In viewing Darwinism through the concept of progressive evolution (escalator) the sting was taken out the theory, for with directed and progressive evolution, man could accept evolution and still retain his dignity and meaning.  This adjusted form of Darwin’s theory (directed evolution) was accepted without any evidence because people’s thinking was already shaped by the concept of progress and some form of evolution was the only alternative to creationism.  This thinking remains today for three reasons (1) our blind faith in the metaphorical concept of progress.  (2) There is still no other naturalistic explanation of existence other than some form of Darwinian evolution.  However, true Darwinism still remains too much of a bitter pill for most to swallow, but the only pill for atheists.  (3) If you take non-directed evolution or Darwinism away from the naturalist, they have no other way to support their views intellectually.  Therefore, atheists will continual to believe in Darwinism even if science was to prove it false.  The scientists who are first atheists and then scientists will continue to propagate Darwinism because it is the foundation of their belief system no matter what science says.

I have noticed in my reading that the old edifice of progressive evolution is beginning to tip and is slowly being replaced by true Darwinism[6].  This movement toward Darwinism is not so much coming from an increase in scientific knowledge as an increase in atheism.  If this happens, the symbolic tree of life will have to be changed to resemble a bush growing in every direction without any impulse or direction up, which would support a pure atheistic theory, with no room for intelligent design or direction.  If accepted, it seems that science would have to drop the concept of constant progress from the ideal of evolution and adapt some kind of chaos theory. This would eventually change the culture’s view of progress and evolution. However, the chaos theory does reflect increasingly our overall cultural thinking at the present, which is moving toward chaos, atheism and nihilism. At the moment, it is hard to know if science is leading or whether the culture is leading science.  Time will tell.

Culture, History and Science

It does seem that many scientific theories have the propensity to reflect the culture at the time of their creation.  When the culture was progressing and knowledge was thought to be absolute, science seemed to reflect these concepts and values.  Now that things are less certain and the culture is falling into disorder and declension, science seems to be reflecting it with the Chaos theory.  This may be just my imagination, but it seems clear to me at this moment that culture and history push science and not the other way around.  From this, I must conclude, that much of science has a cultural  bias, which should be included in any analysis of its theories.  There is little doubt in my mind that much of what is called science is socially created and has less to do with reality then the way we are thinking at the time of its invention.  Of course, science, will say that society is changed by their theories, which is partially true.  However, new theories are created because the old ones no longer fit the culture.  Based on these conclusions I believe we are on the edge of a paradigm change that will sweep away many of the existing theories.

The more I study science the more skeptical I become.  I think humans in general pretend to know more than they actually do.  We tend to accept the pretenders in their pretensions because it makes us feel secure, believing that at least someone understands the mess.  This creates the illusion that we are somehow in control.  I guess that makes us all liars to some degree and intellectually dishonest.

An example of what I am talking about is global warming.  The majority of scientific organizations have endorsed the theory with little evidence, which could not truly be called science.  Many endorsed it not because of the evidence, but because they were presupposed to do so because of their ideology.  I think if you were to look at the theory of evolution and its history, you would find the same kind of thing to some degree.  One difference is that Darwin’s evolution was a financial plus for everyone and fit nicely into the capitalistic system.  On the other hand, global warming only benefited a certain group of people, who so far are not powerful enough to impose their beliefs on the majority.  Darwin also was skillful in using the right metaphors, which were taken from a common experience and pointed to something that everyone could see going on in the barnyard and in society.  That being growth and progress.  In contrast, the global warming crowd used a concept that was foreign to most people, i.e. global warming.  The average person could not see it or experience it, which made it hard to believe.  This is the reason they changed the metaphor to climate change.  Warming can be experience and judged by everyone; however, only scientists can discuss climate.

Science and Picture Thinking

Now, I am not saying that I do not believe in evolution to some degree or for that matter, climate change, but personally I do not believe there is enough true science to support any dogmatic position on either.  I definitely am not a creationist, which believes in a young earth.  However, their picture thinking may be as close or closer to the truth then the present evolutionist, whose picture thinking can only be totally fabricated in their imaginations, for no one was there to witness what they say happened, which Gee points out repeatedly in his book “Deep Time.”  Much of the same thing could be said about physics.  Most of the theories in physics can only be explained mathematically.  The minute you turn them into picture thinking you embrace falsehood.  This is the same in theology, when you form an image of God in your mind you have committed idolatry and have embraced error, for God cannot be imaged.  The Scriptures explain God, like math explains reality.  The scriptures can only explain God in a narrow, limited, veiled way.  Paul said, “We see through a glass darkly.”  The same could be said about math.  As theology has always been guilty of saying too much about God, today science is guilty of saying too much about reality, at least some scientists.

Most popular science writers must write in such a way that it helps the average person to visualize reality.  In doing this, they cannot but help to distort and veil reality.  The human mind cannot image the unseen world of science any better than it can visualize the unseen world of the Bible, i.e. heaven.  These popular authors have to try to use metaphors similar to religion to bridge the gap between the visible and invisible[7].  However, much of the population believes their metaphors to be literal; this is misleading and can only lead to misunderstanding.  Even Stephen Hawkins talks about visualizing the big bang, what nonsense.  There is a Chinese proverb that says,  “Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”  I think we have plenty of the latter.

[1] Note Henry Gee’s “Deep Time”.

[2] This seems to be the place that modern atheistic science is taking us.

[3] The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that in a closed system all energy is equalizing, which points to the fact that in our discussion that everything is dying.

[4] The chief tenet of the Enlightenment is that the growth of knowledge is the key to human emancipation. No true believer in the Enlightenment would ever question that article of faith. Yet faith in progress through the growth of knowledge is itself irrational. Gray, John. “Heresies: Against Progress and Other Illusions” (Kindle Locations 238-239). Granta Publications. Kindle Edition.

[5] “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becket.

[6] Secular educators are cautious about teaching non-directed evolution for fear of the backlash from the community and in particular the religious community.  However, as the next generation of the walking death dead take the place of the present generation we will see a larger push for non-directed evolution and the atheism, which accompany it.

[7] Note “Physics as Metaphor” by Roger S. Jones. University of Minnesota Press.

Francis Bacon “Of Atheism”.

The following essay was written by Francis Bacon in his book “Meditations Sacrae”. Bacon is accredited for introducing the scientific method into natural philosophy. The last paragraph of the article makes it worth reading.  

OF ATHEISM.

“The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.”

First, it is to be noted, that the Scripture saith, “The fool hath said in his heart, and not thought in his heart;” that is to say, he doth not so fully think it in judgment, as he hath a good will to be of that belief; for seeing it makes not for him that there should be a God, he doth seek by all means accordingly to persuade and resolve himself, and studies to affirm, prove, and verify it to himself as some theme or position: all which labour, notwithstanding that sparkle of our creation light, whereby men acknowledge a Deity burneth still within; and in vain doth he strive utterly to alienate it or put it out, so that it is out of the corruption of his heart and will, and not out of the natural apprehension of his brain and conceit, that he doth set down his opinion, as the comical poet saith, “Then came my mind to be of mine opinion,” as if himself and his mind had been two divers things; therefore the atheist hath rather said, and held it in his heart, than thought or believed in his heart that there is no God; secondly, it is to be observed, that he hath said in his heart, and not spoken it with his mouth. But again you shall note, that this smothering of this persuasion within the heart cometh to pass for fear of government and of speech amongst men; for, as he saith, “To deny God in a public argument were much, but in a familiar conference were current enough:” for if this bridle were removed, there is no heresy which would contend more to spread and multiply, and disseminate itself abroad, than atheism: neither shall you see those men which are drenched in this frenzy of mind to breathe almost any thing else, or to inculcate even without occasion any thing more than speech tending to atheism, as may appear in Lucrecius the epicure, who makes of his invectives against religion as it were a burden or verse of return to all his other discourses; the reason seems to be, for that the atheist not relying sufficiently upon himself, floating in mind and unsatisfied, and enduring within many faintings, and as it were fails of his opinion, desires by other men’s opinions agreeing with his, to be recovered and brought again; for it is a true saying, “Whoso laboureth earnestly to prove an opinion to another, himself distrusts it:” thirdly, it is a fool that hath so said in his heart, which is most true; not only in respect that he hath no taste in those things which are supernatural and divine; but in respect of human and civil wisdom: for first of all, if you mark the wits and dispositions which are inclined to atheism, you shall find them light, scoffing, impudent, and vain; briefly of such a constitution as is most contrary to wisdom and moral gravity.

Secondly, amongst statesmen and politics, those which have been of greatest depths and compass, and of largest and most universal understanding, have not only in cunning made their profit in seeming religious to the people, but in truth have been touched with an inward sense of the knowledge of Deity, as they which you shall evermore note to have attributed much to fortune and providence.

Contrariwise, those who ascribed all things to their own cunning and practices, and to the immediate, and apparent causes, and as the prophet saith, “Have sacrificed to their own nets,” have been always but petty counterfeit statesman, and not capable of the greatest actions.

Lastly, this I dare affirm in knowledge of nature, that a little natural philosophy, and the first entrance into it, doth dispose the opinion to atheism; but on the other side, much natural philosophy and wading deep into it, will bring about men’s minds to religion; wherefore atheism every way seems to be combined with folly and ignorance, seeing nothing can can be more justly allotted to be the saying of fools than this, “There is no God”

 

Understanding the New Atheists

Understanding the New Atheists

For the last few years I have been trying my best to understand the new atheist movement and all of its ranting and raving against God and religion. Then it dawned on me,  that I could not understand them because we were not talking about the same things. The god and religion that they are ranting against is not the God I believe in or the religion I practice.

The majority of them talk about a god that I believed in at one time and a religion I was a part of when I was a young man. However, I no longer believe in that god nor do I practice  that religion. It took a number of years on my journey to find The Wholly Other; or should I say for him to find me and to lead me out of the forest of religious idols I was lost and hiding in.

Looking back on my journey it is hard to understand why it took so long to be found by the Lord seeing that  “We live and move and have are being in him”[1], though he, himself has no being, for He is being[2], i.e. He does not have existence rather he is existence[3]. Therefore, there really is no way to argue for his existence for he does not exist in the way we think of existence. So, what are we arguing for, or against?[4] I will get back to this later.

I found that not only do the new atheists have a different vision of The Totally Other, they (at least the majority) had a different vision of religion, which is as narrow as their vision of the God symbol. They seem to believe that all religion is the same, which in their minds means that all religion is bad. Of course, it does not take much thought to realize that the word religion is a word that points to a concept which is as deep and broad as the ocean. Therefore, when the new atheists start bashing all religion and lumping it all together it makes me wonder how much real thought they have put into their subject. I have found some so allergic to the word religion that they cannot even admit that religion can be good or bad. This strongly points to the level of maturity of so many in that movement. They take a thumb full of the ocean and believe that they have captured the ocean. I am not saying this in malice but I believe that many these people have some deep problems.

You may have noticed that  I have tried to avoid using the word God, the reason being that the word has been so vulgarized and distorted that it has lost any value in helping us to understand the mystery that I refer to as The Wholly Other. The distortion of the God symbol is one of the real problems with religion.

Religion should help us in our journey to The Totally Other. However, instead of helping it often hinders by giving us false ideas of God, these false images in ancient times were called idols. The problem with idols is that there is no image or thing in reality or in the mind of humanity that can picture The Totally Other. All images of God created by humanity whether in mind or in stone, are idols because they are too small and distort the symbol we use for The Totally Other, i.e. God. The false ideas of God in turn solicits a false responds e.g. the new atheists.

This means that the atheist that has a pure heart may be closer to having a correct view of God than many believers. That is, if he has no image of God in his mind[5]. You see nothing is better than the something if the something is wrong. This is why I call the something that you cannot image or speak about, The Wholly Other, The Uncreated One, I Am or maybe Nothingness? I do it to keep people from creating a false image of God that is too small.

Of course, the problem is that for both believer and atheist, religion stands as a mediator between them and The Wholly Other. You see, for the atheist to argue against God he must have an image of that God in his mind. Whatever image he has in his mind is simply an idol. This is the only reason why they can form an argument against it for no argument can be formed against the Wholly Other for he lies beyond all argument. The majority of men will never get beyond the idols of this world whether they claim to be atheist or theist, i.e. their God is too small. I often wonder how humans could become so corrupt that the scripture would tell us that every imagination of their heart was corrupt, I now know; their God was too small, they were idolaters.

The theist often creates a God in their own image and then projects that image into heaven. The atheist then comes along and says that is not God and they are right. It is an idol that can be manipulated and controlled by man. It is the god of the religious man and the atheist. A god that  is created for the opium of the people; or as a tool to control the herd. On the other hand, the deist created an aloof impersonal God that is somewhere out there beyond everything, located in some distant heaven, too aloof to be involved with his creation. Of course, any god that can be herded into some small corner of space and time is just too small to be the Totally Other. It also is an idol[6].

The high theists of the world know The Wholly Other, since they know, that they know little or nothing of being much less than non-being. They confess that they are quite ignorant of the Total Other. They understand, as Isaiah the prophet also understood; “His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.” To them the word God is a symbol which stands for the limits of their knowledge. This knowledge calls for humility and they are careful not to over speak on the subject of the deity. As one old seer said, those that don’t know speak and those that know do not speak.

You may ask, “Are you saying we can know nothing of non-being?”  No, I am saying that you can only know what He has revealed to you. How does He reveal Himself? One way is through nature and the study of it, that is science. The study of nature has reviewed how great and powerful the Wholly Other is and how different he is from humanity. This knowledge should create awe and wonder in ones spirit, which is true spiritual worship. Unfortunately, many that study nature end up worshipping nature, failing to see that she is an arrow pointing to that which is beyond her. As the seer says when the prophet points at the moon the majority look at his thumb. For many science and religion has become the study of the thumb.

Some may say that this Wholly Other dwells in a cloud of darkness and mystery. Why does he hide Himself? Why does He not reveal Himself? Well, I do not think He is the problem, I think the trouble lays elsewhere. Could it be that He is so awesome and so glorious that in our present form we cannot approach Him without melting into nothingness. This unapproachableness is pointed out in the bible when God tells Moses, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20)

There is the real possibility that the darkness that hides the Wholly Other is the darkness that is in the human heart. Jesus said, blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”. Now by pure in heart I do not think Jesus is talking about not having impure thoughts e.g. lust, greed, etc. but rather having the right focus of one’s own being. He refers to this as the single eye. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matt 6:22-23).This may be why children find it easy to see God until their parents or their culture (which includes religion) fill their eyes with darkness and forces them to see the world through dark colored glasses. It is no wonder Jesus said “unless you convert and become like little children you will in no way, enter the kingdom of God.” So, let’s stop blaming God and the devil for our bad eyes and poor sight.  For that matter let’s stop blaming our parents and culture and accept responsibility for the condition of our own heart. Our hearts are filled with darkness because we have made God too small and are about the business of building idols.

Then, there is the Bible. What is the Bible? The Bible is a collection of writings from men who were searching for the Totally Other. It is the history of their journey and their interaction with the Uncreated One. It records their successes and their failures. It shows them as groping, sometimes searching as a lost children would search for their parent and slowly, in due course growing into adolescence. The Bible also reminds us that the story is not over and that adulthood is still away off.

What about the contradictions and mistakes in it? Would you not expect to find a few anomalies and problems in any writings trying to explain the Total Other? It is a book of symbols that point to something that is on the border of human knowledge, known yet unknown. The Bible itself is a symbol which claimed to be both human and divine. The divine part is perfect in doing what it was created for, which is the building of souls as they journeyed towards the Totally Other.

However, there is a consistent theme and a trend that run though the whole of Scriptures, which connects all of its parts, though sometimes overshadowed, it is always there. It is the central symbol of Scriptures and God’s people throughout the ages. We could summarize that one central symbol with the word ‘someone’. Someone is coming, someone is here and someone is coming again.

The someone of Scripture is the Promised One, the Anointed one, the Messiah or Christ. The one who would save the people from their enemies. Their greatest enemies being sin and death. The Scriptures gave clues to help people recognize this someone. It said that he would be extraordinary and different from other men. His words would be different and his life would be different, he would be Other like the One who sent him.

One man has said that it takes extraordinary evidence to prove an extraordinary claim.[7] The scriptures say that the someone in himself is the extraordinary evidence that the Total Other has given to man. This someone is the final and perfect symbol that points to the Total Other. He spoke like no other man and lived like no other man. When he spoke things happened, people were healed, water was changed into wine, storms were stilled and the dead were raised. No man has ever had so many people believe in him and at the same time has had so many hate him and despise his teachings. He truly is the extraordinary man, the someone sent from the Totally Other. This totally other man is still calling people “To come follow me”.

[1] Acts 17:28

[2] When I say He has no being it might be better to say he is super being. We live and move and have our being in Him, but we are not Him.

[3] Existence is beyond our comprehension though we apprehended it through our own existence and the existence of things around us.

[4] When humans argue for or against the idea of God they are arguing for or against a human construct that at best can only point to the One that stands behind it. Therefore we spend a great deal of time arguing about the idea of God. Now it is true that some ideas of God surely are better pointers than others but all fall short of the reality. This is true in science as well, for there is no theory of reality that is reality. The map is not the territory.

[5] It is unlikely that most atheists have no image of God in their minds, because if so, they would have nothing to argue against.

[6] The true God is super personality and has a knowledge of everything going on in creation. Therefore, he is more like the God that Jesus’ images than the God of the Deist. Jesus says, “that he knows every hair of our heads.” His  nature is reflected by Jesus referring to him as “Father.”

[7] Unfortunately, Carl Sagan did not define what extraordinary evidence would look like. For some skeptics, there would never be any evidence of any kind or  enough to prove the existence of God.

 

The Jack and Jill of unbelief Naturalism and Atheism

The Jack and Jill of unbelief

Naturalism and Atheism

    Naturalism and atheism are the Jack and Jill of unbelief[1].  Naturalism is the world view and ideology which teaches that nature is all there is and rejects all spiritual or supernatural explanations of the world[2].  On the other hand, atheism is simply a non-belief in the existence of God.  However, when someone is challenged to prove their atheism they usually turn to naturalism, which is a belief and a world view.

Now, naturalism assumes that its explanation of reality is true, but its explanation is based upon s the fundamental assumption that there is no God and nothing, other than nature, exists.  In order for any of their explanations to be true,  they must first prove their fundamental assumption within their own world view, but unlike atheism they have a belief to prove.  Furthermore, their basic assumption cannot be proven by science because the question of the existence of God is outside of the realm of science[3].

So, the naturalist explains everything, as though there is no God and then they say that their explanation is proof that there is no God.  But, if their explanation does not come from science, where does it come from?  Could it be their imagination?  And is not their claim just circular reasoning?  They say that their explanation proves their assumption, and that their assumption proves their explanation.  Their whole argument is based on faith in their assumption that there is no God.  Since when does simply having an alternative view ascertain that view as the truth?

Their explanation, which I call the ‘tall tale’, does not in itself  prove it is rational or true. It is simply a human construct that offers an alternative view to theism[4].  A naturalist is different from an atheist in that the atheist denies the existence of God; the naturalist has a world view or a belief which does not include God and it assumes that he does not exist.  Then they use their assumption that there is no God to prove their naturalistic explanation of everything and then they use their explanation to prove their assumption.  Remember that an  explanation and an interpretation are not the same as evidence or reality. The interpretation is not the reality. The map is not the territory.

Atheism is a denial of God’s existence and it is a non-belief.  However, atheism is seldom alone and it needs materialism and naturalism to support its non-belief.  As soon as the atheist commences to explain the world though naturalism, they become a believer and begin to live by faith within the naturalistic explanation and assumptions.  When this happens the burden of proof is as much on them as it is on the theist.  Of course, they have no proof but only the explanation and assumptions of materialism and naturalism.  Their so-called evidence and proof all hang on their tall tale, most of which come from their fertile imagination.

What we have in naturalism is a series of assumptions (1). All that exists is nature and she is the whole show.  There is nothing outside of her to intervene in her course (non-provable assumption).  (2). That reason alone can figure her out (non-provable assumption).  (3) That she is controlled by certain laws, that allow reason to work.  Of course this raises the question, how  can mindless nature create the laws of nature?[5]  (4). Reason then assumes that she (nature) is irrational and chaotic, no design and direction, which contradicts number two (reason cannot figure out chaos).  (5) Based on reason (physics) nature had a begin and an end. This seems to indicate that there is something outside of her that brought her into existence.  However, this contradicts  assumption number one, that there is nothing outside of  nature.  Is the idea of something coming from nothing reasonable, or is this an unreasonable faith which comes out of an atheistic necessity?

[1] Like Jack and Jill naturalism and atheism stands or falls together.

[2] Seeing that we only have a limited knowledge of what makes up the universe, it takes a great deal of faith to believe that nature is the whole show or the only thing that exists.  My word, we cannot even define nature.

[3] The US National Academy of Sciences has gone on record with the following statement: ‘Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes.  Science can say nothing about the supernatural.  Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”  Taken from “Who made God? Searching For a Theory Of Everything” by Edgar Andrews.

[4] Both naturalism and theism have a story to tell.

[5] The naturalist usually responds by shrugging their shoulders and saying they were always there. You can have eternal laws but you cannot have any eternal lawgiver.

Godless-A Portrait of a New Atheist

A Portrait of a New Atheist

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.

 

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.