Monday, December 24, 2012

Lies From The Pit Of... Man?

This meme makes a truth claim.  It says that God hates the pain of divorce. Can I assume then that God only hates divorce when it causes pain, but He is otherwise OK with it if the feelings are mutual?  When we make claims about God like the one on this meme we ought to be very careful, for we are acting as prophets declaring a "truth" about God.  Any claims we make therefore should be able to rest on God's Word, and not on a conjured up image of a god that feels more acceptable.  So does the Bible agree with this claim?  Let's take a look:
"I hate divorce," says the Lord, the God of Israel,
(Mal 2:16)
There's no clarity lacking in that short statement is there?  There's nothing to be found about the pain of divorce here either, nor anywhere else in scripture.  But that's how Satan works.  He twists what God says.  It is a familiar tactic, indeed the one he used to bring down the human race:
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"  (Gen 3:1)
Notice Satan isn't sinister sounding here, or apparently not even repulsive.  He just twists God's words ever so slightly so that they say something God never said.  That's what this meme does too.  It is based on feelings and man-centered theology.   At the heart of it is the insinuation that man is basically good and his not being distraught (experience pain) is the goal of God's love.  This view is eternally disastrous and dangerous.  If man actually is deserving of God's love, then how do we reconcile that with what the Bible says is the eternal destiny of those who reject his Son?  Such a view does not grasp the reality of man's position as a sinner before a holy and righteous God.

The Bible says that all men stand condemned before God and are objects of His wrath, divorced or not.  But the Bible also presents us with Good News.  It says that we may hide in the righteousness of God's one and only Son and thereby escape His wrath.  The real question is not, does God love me in spite of my sin, but rather, have my sins been washed from God's sight by the blood of the Lamb?  As the old Hymn, written in a time before man-centered theology had become predominate, says:
"Just as I am without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me".  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Fog Of Senselessness

Yesterday's addition to the growing roster of massacres will be viewed just as the previous massacres were: in a vacuum.  It will be as if there were no indicators leading up to it that would have warned us that this sort of thing will be the reality in our brave new world.  It will have just happened.

Sure, those who always see these things as a reason to enact some new law, so it won't happen again, will begin their reflexive demand for more gun controls.  And we will all be sad that twenty innocent children were murdered for no apparent reason.  But in the end it will simply be senselessness.  But that's just it.  Once a a society rejects God, everything becomes senseless.  Everyone will have a vague notion that things have gone horribly wrong, but few, unfortunately, will be able to identify why.

The reality, however, is that these events don't happen in a vacuum.  First, today, like yesterday and the day before, thousands of children will be murdered in this culture, with the blessing of this culture.  The victims's of these murder's only sin will be that they are out of sight, and as such, out of mind.  More senselessness. I have often pondered what the response would be if 4000 children a day were lined up and shot because they were unwanted.  Given the response from yesterday's events, I'd say we'd be sickened; in fact I'd say that we'd risk our very lives to make it stop.  But we don't, and they won't.  They are out of sight.

Second, the very school where this tragedy took place is no different from the previous ones.  They all teach that there is no ultimate and objective good and evil.  They all teach that everyone of us came from nothing, and are the result of nothing, and have a destiny of nothing. Life, we are taught from our earliest years, has no meaning.  The school must teach it.  It is the law.  If there were ultimate laws, you see, that would imply an ultimate law-giver.  And if there is an ultimate lawgiver, there is one to which we will all give an account.  And such as that will simply not do.

Third these schools teach materialism.  They are materialistic because they are designed by secular materialists sent by the populace to do just that.  As such education is worshiped as the sole means to the best materialistic life that can be achieved. It is a high place... an idol. The idea that anything is higher than one's own life or material achievement is wholly alien to the properly trained child.  Gone are any transcendent realities or altruism, or worse yet, any fear of God that would give good reason for one to reign over himself and his passions.

When a society teaches itself that life is ultimately meaningless, then it ought not be surprised when some in its ranks take such teaching to heart.  It is in that heart, understand, where the ultimate problem resides.  Attempt to conform the outside with your millions of laws and regulation all you want, but it will be the heart, darkened or otherwise, that will dictate a man's path.

Given those darkened hearts who exercise their passions and then take their own lives, just how are the attempts to reign them in by legislation to be applied anyway?  They can't be.  They can't be because the problem is not a legal problem but a heart problem.  The problem is the rejection of God.  Having put God away, concepts such as objective truth and sin have receded into the fog of senselessness.  They're no longer seen or noticed.  But they do rear their ugly heads, as from nowhere... out of the fog, and they harass us... like a hand reaching out from the fog, as if to slap us from our drunken stupor.

Monday, November 19, 2012

God Loves Everyone So Do As Thou Wilt


Following is a discussion I had with two Christians on Facebook.  I think it highlights the end to which our current approach to theology inevitably leads, that theology being: (a) that God loves everyone unconditionally, (b) That what the world doesn't realize, and needs to be told, is that Jesus loves them, (c) That God hates the sin but loves the sinner.  

Missing in this theology... (well maybe it doesn't qualify really as theology but probably more as pop-theology, or perhaps an approach to reaching out to the world) is any suggestion of God's holiness or his wrath. It is a contorted theology in which the Christian becomes ashamed of the wrath of his God.  While pop theology doesn't necessarily reject God's wrath, or eternal damnation in Hell fires, they simply become the big pink elephant in the Bible.

In this discussion both of these guys hold "judging" as the offense of offenses.  Both hold to relativism, one takes a hard view, the other a softer view.  The personal view trumps everything.  What is absent in both views is a sense of not being loved and accepted by God.

So, here is the discussion.  I've removed the names and replaced them with with Bob and John.  It took place in a short time so please excuse the typos on everyone's part.
_______________

Dan-Where do you get Jesus accepts everybody?

Dan-What I mean is, where does it say that in the Bible Bob?


Bob- well doesn't Jesus love everyone?

Dan-Are yo asking me? What does my opinion matter? What does the Bible say Bob?

Bob - one of our commandments say "love thy neighbors" am I right or wrong?

Dan-what if your neighbor is an unborn child Bob?

John - I personally am very against abortion, I believe it is murder and even unborn children should be loved. However, Jesus does not view anybody with different views as lesser people.

John - I believe he does, but he loves and cares for their parents too.

Dan -  Does Jesus love unborn babies?

John - And people who disagree as well

Dan - What does loving the parents too have to do with anything?

Bob -  This is where I disagree with a lot of stuff. I believe that my god is a merciful and forgiving god and that is not judgmental. Yes, Jesus does cares for unborn child its a gift from god.

Dan -  And yet you vote for one who advocates their slaughter?

John  Abortion. Even if the parents get an abortion he loves them just the same. I didn't vote for Obama, but that doesn't make me right.

Dan -  Who you voted for has no bearing on what is right or wrong. I'm simply trying to reconcile the murder of innocent human beings and your professed beliefs.

Dan -  God is merciful, yes. But does that make it OK to crush and dismember the unborn?

John  I DO NOT agree with abortion, and I would never get one. Not even if I was raped. But I don't want to say other's beliefs are wrong when I expect them to be open minded about mine. It's a 2 way street.

Bob - See this is where the problem is. Those our president advocates for it doesn't mean he is the one dragging people to the hospital to get an abortion. its an individual choice on that person. who are we to say NO!! her judgement should be between her and God not US!!!!

Dan - So you would be OK with me killing my 1 year old son?

Dan -  After all, God is merciful right? And it would be open minded, right?

Bob - That's up to you and God. I won't say it's okay but due it it your choice and you will face the consequence judgment day.

John - This is why I'm against abortion Danny. I do truly believe it is the same thing to kill a one year old and an unborn child. Bob doesn't, but her beliefs are hers and I don't want to tell her how wrong she is when she's never told me that. We all just need to be respectful of what others think.

Dan -  So John, what you are saying is that there is no absolute truth.

Dan -  Right?

Dan -  So if I tortured, raped and then killed my 1 year old, while you don't agree with it, you have no right to tell me its wrong?

Dan -  Then God would judge me, but I'm still ok because Jesus died for ALL people. right?

Bob -  I have a right to tell you your wrong. but i can't STOP you from doing it!

John - Not what I'm saying at all. I'm simply saying if you want people to listen to your side you have to listen to their's. I believe it is an absolute truth, and it is part of the reason I did not vote for Obama. But I still think we should be respectful and listen to Bob.

John -  And If you believe Jesus is your savior and accept him as such then yes, you're still fine.

John -  Jesus never stops giving second chances.

Dan -  John,  how have I been disrespectful?

Dan -  Disagreement is not disrespect, though it may feel like it at times.

John - You haven't. I'm sorry, it did seem like I meant that. That's not how I intended that to come across at all. You've been very respectful. I think a better word for what I meant was open-minded.

Dan -  I believe I am open minded John. But that's another discussion and I don't want to get distracted. I'll get back to that in a moment if you wish.

So, what you are saying is that I can torture etc, my child and its OK if I accepted Jesus? Is that what you're saying?

Dan -  Just trying to clarify, not wanting to put words in your mouth.

John -  If you believe you're open-minded you probably are. And technically yes. Jesus died to forgive all of our sins, all of the things he declared wrong. That would be one of them and technically you could get away with it. Still, he gave up his life on the cross so why would you want to do that. Wouldn't you want to try and do what he wanted as a way of thanking him?

John - Jesus never said ANYWHERE that murder was worse than lying. A sin is a sin, harmless or not. Who are we to decide what's worse in Jesus' eyes. When we sin we all suffer death, but Jesus died so that we may have the chance to live with him in heaven.

Dan -  I'm not seeing where anyone is advocating lying. I am seeing where Christians are saying that murdering the unborn OK>

John -  Lying was just a comparison. To us a lie seems way more acceptable than murder, but Jesus didn't ever say that to be true. And Danny, I agree with you on abortion, but I'm with Bob. I've got a lot of work to do. I respect your opinions and I hope you respect mine as well.

Friend of mine - And where does Jesus say to keep on sinning after you accept Him?! He says to turn from your wicked ways and repent. He says in Matthew 18:15-17 that if you see your brother sinning to GO TO HIM, even eventually brining him before the church. He never ...See More

John - It is entirely impossible to quit sinning. Realize it or not we sin everyday. We look at somebody and make a judgement, that's a sin. We may not even mean to, but it happens.

John - Anyway, I can't keep debating, I really do have a lot of homework this week. Ciao.



Friday, November 9, 2012

What Has The Church To Do With Capitalism

What does Christianity have to do with capitalism? The short answer is, "not much, really; at least not directly". You see, economics is, simply put, the allocation of scarce material resources. The Christian would do well to remember that Christianity, not only thrives today in all sorts of harsh economic systems, but it has done so all through the changing systems throughout history. In fact, the argument could be made that it has thrived more hardily in oppressive systems, especially if we accept the fact that the Church, in its purest form, is interested much more in men's eternal destinies than in any carnal-minded concepts such as the fair distributions of material resources. 

The Christian therefore must beware of those who fix their eyes on worldly "material" as, not only their source of joy and purpose, but also a suitable solution for all that ails society. The very idea of the economic system of communism was born out of this very perspective. The father of communism, Karl Marx, rejected God.  He then set out to make things “fair” for those whom he saw as the down trodden masses. But he could only see them in a strictly material sense.  That a child with lots of toys and a full stomach might not be as wholly well off as one with barely anything except two loving parents, who are raising their child with an eternal purpose and destiny, is lost on a materialist like Marx. 

As it turned out, man's attempts to bring about the Utopian system he envisioned succeeded only in bathing the 20th century in blood. Yet Utopia never arrived; only deeper levels of hell and fear for those under its oppressive fist ... oh, and lots of disparity in wealth distribution too. In fact, history, as well as Jesus, tells us that wealth disparity is part and parcel to Man's existence. Man's attempts to "fix" that problem only end up changing who gets more than "their fair share".  

From the Christian perspective -- that is, from the perspective that takes into account eternity -- it is the hopelessness during this life that causes the Church to thrive. In the free market system, you see, no matter what the material circumstances of one's birth, there is hope of improving those circumstances. This hope, which focuses primarily on material gains in this life, can present strong competition for our interests and affections, and so therefore are a formidable distraction from a future eternal hope after death. The irony should not be missed that the system dreamed up by Karl Marx, who proclaimed that religion was the opiate of the masses, caused those who discovered Jesus in the midst of his hell to thrive, albeit not materially.

There's no doubt that capitalism eases the pain of our existence through higher standards of living. It also causes disparate wealth distribution, which grates horribly on man's sin nature, his covetous inclinations and his sense of "fairness". In his affluence he will inevitable be drawn to a "fairer" distribution of the world's resources, because in his comfort based on those resources, they are everything, a sort of god in fact.

Affluence also wreaks havoc on our Christian walk. Acceptance and accommodation of evil becomes normal as worldly wealth finds itself in competition with our life in Christ. Our beliefs begin to die the death of a thousand compromises as our thinking increasingly conforms to this world. In the process we become less and less distinguishable from the world until one day we wake to find that our “Christian” bedfellows are not Christians at all, but rather Marxists dressed in sheep's clothing.  We learn that these wolves have co-opted the Christian banner for anti-Christ causes based on social justice, which is just another way of saying "material justice".

Worse yet, affluence begins to inculcate the "religion" of Christianity with a confusion between material wealth and the abundant life in Christ. Because of this confusion terms like "thrive" when used to describe the oppressed and poor's life in Christ is difficult to grasp. It is not mere coincidence then that the very term "abundant life" in John chapter 10 is found in the context of pointing out the existence of hireling shepherds -- shepherds who are there for the material outcome they gain and not for the eternal good of the sheep.

Yet capitalism and Christianity do have a relationship. It finds this relationship in a shared core principle concerning man's condition. Capitalism is based on the premise that Man is not basically good. The so-called father of capitalism, Adam Smith, illustrates this in his treatise The Wealth Of Nations:

A puppy fawns upon its dam, and a spaniel endeavours by a thousand attractions to engage the attention of its master who is at dinner, when it wants to be fed by him. Man sometimes uses the same arts with his brethren, and when he has no other means of engaging them to act according to his inclinations, endeavours by every servile and fawning attention to obtain their good will. He has not time, however, to do this upon every occasion. In civilised society he stands at all times in need of the cooperation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons. ... [M]an has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages".
By adopting Smith’s prescription the founding fathers aligned our economic system with reality by the assumption that man would be much more productive, innovative and industrious if doing so would be beneficial to himself. Thus was born what would become one of the freest and wealthiest societies ever enjoyed by Man.

The ideas that formed American capitalism however were not instituted in a vacuum but in the bosom of a predominately Christian culture. In such a culture in which the individual held himself eternally liable before a Holy and Righteous God, the people were more inclined to exercise self-governance and restraint according to an objective moral standard. These standards then guided their decisions, not only as they pertained to their own lives and interactions with resources, but also as they pertained to every sphere of their influence including the selection of leaders. This predominate mindset of the populace, which was subjugated to a higher order, made for fertile soil for capitalism's seed to flourish. However, as it turns out, equal opportunity and economic freedom naturally produce unequal ends. Some got very wealthy while others struggled.  In a a society with a sense of moral bearings this is generally attributed to providence and so does not present a problem.  But such disparity it is not suffered well in a society that is not only disparaging of honor, but is also burdened by a perverse sense of entitlement, envy and covetousness ... and which has no suspicion of those seeking power through promises of a Utopian society.

Central to the health of capitalism, therefore, is the Church's teaching on the truths regarding man's sinful condition. Never mind, for the moment, that this teaching is key to understanding the Gospel, and as such, key to the health of the Church and its Kingdom mandate, for I am attempting here to answer an economic question. The fact remains that the modern Western "Church" has become either unable or loath to make man’s depravity a focal part of her doctrine. This transformation of focus in central doctrines taught by the Church has had a destructive effect on capitalism for a couple of reasons.

First, capitalism is dependent on the Biblical concept of fidelity. As I pointed out earlier, capitalism produces a few fabulously-well-to-do individuals. But it is just as important that it also produces comfortable masses with relatively modest excesses in resources. Fidelity allows for the masses to pool their resources to create an almost unfathomable concentration of wealth.  This wealth then plays an important role in the economy. For one, it doesn't lie dormant, hidden in post holes and mattresses, but rather it becomes productive through investment. Also, its productivity produces a return which not only fuels the economy but also helps to sustain people when they become too old to work. Though this principle was in place long before tax deferment laws were enacted, they are apparent in current 401-k programs.

It is these massive concentrations of wealth that have been responsible for many advancements through research that would have otherwise been unachievable due to insurmountable expenses. Such advancements include the development of drugs and medical procedures,  the willing slave of affordable energy and advances in just about all technologies. But the same wealth also awakens the greed and envy resident in the heart of man.

If there is no objective truth by which to judge all things, then we are left with a syllogism that looks kind of like this:
1. Men are good
2. I am man.
3. What I do is good.
With this view man can rationalize the greed in his own heart while, incidentally, retaining his right to judge the greed in others. The system breaks down as the wealthy are judged as greedy simply because they were successful at accomplishing what those who judge them could not. In addition to this the wealthy begin to judge each other also. You have millionaire politicians judging millionaire businessmen, and millionaire businessmen judging millionaire politicians. In addition, you have millionaire Hollywood stars, who seem to somehow be above judgment, judging them all. All of this judging of the greed of others, while justifying the greed in one's own heart, is therefore not confronted from within with any sense of providence, honor, or accurate understanding of the true condition of the heart of man; much less the economic system within which it is all taking place.

In such a fidelity-starved environment the idea of pooling one's wealth becomes a fool's errand as increasing numbers feel justified in their own actions. Contracts are broken, loans are forsaken, capital is siphoned off by currency printing, onerous regulations, corruption, ponzi schemes, fraud, theft, bribes  and so on. Worse, many who justify their own participation in these destructive actions have their own meager resources invested in the system their actions are destroying. This is like a snake greedily biting his own tail for spite of the tail's head. Those with modest means will eventually have no option but to withdraw what remains, convert them to an historically stable currency such as scarce metals.  This is one reason a rise in the price of gold can be a negative indicator of the health of an economy. As resources are withdrawn there is a corresponding reduction in new resources which results in a domino effect toward a reduced standard of living for the masses.

Second, capitalism is dependent on the Biblical concept of work. Since man's banishment from Eden he has worked tirelessly to reenter. One way man can go about this is to make his way in life off the sweat of his neighbor's brow. The capitalistic system is a system that is dependent on the pooled resources gained by the sweat of one's own brow. The necessary relationship between work and provision has been thwarted in the past by the outright enslavement of man by his fellow man. Contrary to popular belief, this act hasn't ended, the methods have only changed. Now rather than enslaving a few men and making an ugly spectacle, masses are partially enslaved for the benefit of a few through what has become euphemistically known as wealth redistribution.

Liberty, and it's cousin capitalism, are not hardy social or economic systems. They can exist only in environments in which those who hold to the ideas on which they stand cling tenaciously to objective reality. Once man's true condition is rejected by the society at large, that society no longer accepts reality but rather an alternate reality based more on how man thinks things ought to be than how they actually are. This then releases man to embrace the folly that some men can be trusted to siphon wealth from his neighbor and redistribute it more fairly to another neighbor.  Such a relationship is akin to the notion of honor among thieves as the citizen charges the politician to steal while trusting that the same politician will be dealing honestly with himself.  He is blinded by the spectacle of a looming Utopia just beyond the horizon.  The healthy suspicions that once met those who promised such a Utopian society 1, 2, 3 become suppressed and maligned. Instead schemes are invented that are designed to exchange votes and campaign donations for largess. We saw a battle along these lines recently in Wisconsin as out-of-control state liabilities consisting of promised largess to government union members threatened the state’s fiscal health as larger numbers of people were becoming unproductive by living off the confiscated wealth of their neighbors.  This is a spiral as ever more amounts of siphoned resources are required to cover the cost of paying people to do nothing. But these siphoned resources are not coming from nothing, they are confiscated from those who earned it. This is like the snake eating the tail that it bit off of himself, assuming that it will provide him with long term nourishment. It is counter to capitalism, it is counter to a Biblical view of the world, and in a more sane society it would be counter to common sense.

So, in conclusion, what has the Church to do with capitalism? In a word: “nothing”. In summing up the answer however we would do well to rearrange the question and ask, rather, "What has capitalism to do with the Church?” And like every other question that man asks along these lines, the answer is "everything". Many who worship at the altar of capitalism have not asked this question and their beloved system is now in danger as a result ... and they provide a thousand reasons why ... and it continues to crumble. Ditto for family, marriages, joy, happiness, and every other thing that man endeavors to do without God in his few short hours in this life.

 ________


1 In Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville had this to say in the 1830's concerning America's constitution:
The Constitution of the United States is like those exquisite productions of human industry which ensure wealth and renown to their inventors, but which are profitless in any other hands. This truth is exemplified by the condition of Mexico at the present time, The Mexicans were desirous of establishing a federal system, and they took the Federal Constitution of their neighbors, the Anglo-American, as their model, and copied it with considerable accuracy! But although they had borrowed the letter of the law, they were unable to create or to introduce the spirit and the sense which give it life. They were involved in ceaseless embarrassments between the mechanism of their double government; the sovereignty of the States and that of the Union perpetually exceeded their respective privileges, and entered into collision; and to the present day Mexico is alternately the victim of anarchy and the slave of military despotism. (page 189)
2John Adams: "Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken, and so solemnly repeated on that venerable ground, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government."

3F. A Hayek in "The Road To Serfdom" (written during WWII) had an interesting comment in the introduction of his book on page 57 (in my copy) that I think applies here as well:
... [H]istory never quite repeats itself, and just because no development is inevitable, we can in measure learn from the past to avoid repetition of the same process. One need not be a prophet to be aware of impending dangers. 'And accidental combination of experience and interest will often reveal events to one man under aspects which few yet see. The following pages are the product of an experience as near as possible to twice living though the same period... While this is an experience one is not likely to gain in one country, it may in certain circumstances be acquired by living in turn for long periods in different countries. ...Thus, by moving from one country to another, one may sometimes twice watch similar phases of intellectual development. The senses have then become peculiarly acute. When one hears for a second time opinions expressed or measures advocated which one has first met twenty or twenty-five years ago they assume a new meaning as symptoms of a definite trend. It is necessary now to state the unpalatable truth that it is Germany whose fate we are in some danger of repeating... It is not to the Germany of Hitler; the Germany of the present war, that England and the United states bear yet any resemblance, But students of the currents of ideas can hardly fail to see that there is more than a superficial similarity between the trend of thought in Germany during and after the last war and the present current of ideas in the democracies.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So Now What?

My children asked me the question a month or so ago, "what if Obama wins?"  I told them that nothing would change.  The next day we would all get up and have a cup of coffee.  People would go to their jobs like always and you guys would have school.

But then one day you'll drive by a shopping center, and you'll say to yourself, "I remember when we used to go shopping there.  Now it's boarded up."  One day you'll happen to notice we haven't eaten out in a long time.  It might occur to you one day that our neighborhood just seems much more blighted and the houses more in disrepair; and that there's graffiti much more common as the people stop bothering to cover it up.

I told them that our economy may collapse under the weight of debt anyway, but that if the current direction were stayed, it's collapse would be much more certain and sooner.  You will first see things start to cost a lot more as the government prints money in order to keep itself empowered.  But eventually the money will no longer buy sufficient food and that will be when things get really bad.  Violence will fill our streets and martial law will have to be declared so that people can work and survive. People will die.  America will probably go on.  But it won't be the America that was.  It will be a new America, an America hostile to those of us who remember and long for the old one.

So what has happened?  We have been drifting for years.  The sixties marked a stark turning point as every boundary was tested.  They crumbled.  Four years ago we entered the culmination of the sixties era upheaval.  Yesterday that reality was affirmed by a majority of Americans, most of which see the historic economic cycles of late as a trustworthy indication of what we can expect in the future.  The economy will recover, they think, simply because it always has.  Those people are blind to the root nature of our predicament. While no economy is so far gone that it can't recover in a moral society, no economy is so robust that it can survive an immoral society.  It's simple really.  No society can sustain the damage to the family and foundations that this society has, and then have things continue as if none of it mattered.

So, now what?  First I personally plan on cleaning house.  There has been a nagging in my heart that I've been placing way to much of my focus on the wrong things.  I plan on spending some time evaluating those things in light of their interference with my worship and adoration of Jesus.  I am confident that I have let idols creep in.  They must go, and I must seek the face of my God.

Second, I plan on beginning work on my heart as it pertains to enduring suffering and watching my family endure it.  I so want to walk through this time in a way that honors God.  That will take some work.  We Americans have never had to deal with these sorts of things before.  I feel fairly certain we will be doing so in the coming years.

Third, I will make some effort to be ready for anarchy.  I'm not talking about hoarding a years worth of food and bullets here.  But I am talking about being able to feed my family, and my neighbors if they need it, for a time.  I will also create a plan so that if we need to leave quickly, perhaps we will be able to.  I'm fairly certain that we have at least a year, probably two, and if we're very very fortunate, never, before our society unravels to the point I envision.

The question I keep asking myself though is this one, can a society do what we are now, and have been doing, and simply expect things go well?  Do we have an indefinite number of administrations that we can elect until someone comes along that can make things normal again?  My answer is always the same.  No, I'm afraid not.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

On Politics, Part II, "I Don't Like Either Candidate"

The way I see it there are three types of I-don't-like-either-candidate voters.

The Slouch- This person simply  lacks interest and has not taken the time to be informed.  What he does know is based on what the candidate looks like, campaign ads, friends and so on.  This person can be characterized by his discomfort or dislike of discussing politics for fear of his ignorance being revealed.  I would say that this constitutes almost all "independents" and explains why the same state can elect a president that wants to go in one direction and a senator that wants to go the opposite direction.  Oh yes, they then complain about the "partisan divide".

The Utopian - This person views the world through a lens of perfection.  While being sufficiently informed about what the two candidates stand for, this person rejects both because neither comes close enough to his idea of perfection.  This person's understanding of politics reflects the vision he hopes to achieve through an election in that both his vision and his candidate can be defined as narrow.  His candidate will never win a primary because the candidate must appeal to a group with little to no tolerance for those who see the world differently.  The election process for them, after their guy looses the primary, is to trash the winner in order to create a platform to vent their frustration about reality.   Their numbers include people from both the right and left.  I would say however that most are from the right because, in my opinion,  the right contains greater numbers of informed and principled people.  I base this opinion on the fact that the left extracts most of its appeal and power by the promise of redistributed (read free) wealth; which means all anyone really need be informed about is who is promising more free stuff.  This is a question easily answered by party affiliation.   

The Principled - This person rejects both candidates on principle.  He sees himself as not being able to cast a vote for any person who does not meet a minimum level of morality... come what may.  This type understands the ramifications of not voting.  He understands that there will always be a "better" candidate that will serve any given person better than the other, and therefore will be a better candidate for his own sake.  But he shuns the perceived advantage and rejects both anyway.  This person differs from the "Utopian" in that he understands the political realities within which he exists.  He has a high tolerance for differing opinions because he realizes that his vision is meaningless unless it can be converted to meaningful reform by winning elections.  That tolerance has its limits however, and the limits are exceeded when neither candidate can stand or appeal to the same or similar principles. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On Politics, Part I, The Reality Of Politics

This series of posts is in response to Facebook and personal discussions I've seen and have been involved in.  In short, I hear things that simply do not make any sense.  Please note that I write this, not from a perspective of having all the answers but rather that the answers are more simple than they may seem once the fog of emotion clears and the clarity of reality emerges.

In a discussion once a friend told me the reason that he left his previous church was because it was too political. (Political as in church politics.) Now it might well have been to political, but when I hear something like this I generally assume there is more to it than I'm getting, or even than the person telling me is aware of.

The truth is that politics are very much a part of life.  We all engage in them daily though we do so unaware.   When you and a friend go out to dinner you both discuss and agree on a place and a time to go.  There is give and take on both sides because it is your goal is to have dinner together.  You can't, then, very well go to different places or at different times. You have a common goal.  This is politics in its simplest form.  Sure, it's easy because you both desire the other's company.  But no matter if it is the politics of a complex society like this upcoming election or deciding on dinner, the process is the same.

Yes, it is the same, but it's not always warm and friendly or agreeable; and as such not always easy.  Suppose you were handcuffed to your friend... Who am I kidding. If he was your friend when you were handcuffed, he wouldn't be for long. We all know that.   This would bring about drastic changes.  Still, one thing in the end would be true: where the one went the other would go also. 

This is one reason I am leery of the "I don't like either candidate" response to a question.  It is not like the outcome is not going to impact the person that says this.  They're going with the majority like it or not.  Their choices are clear, even if neither choice is good.

Next time I will discuss a legitimate "I don't like either candidate" position.   

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

When You Hear The "He Does It Too" Argument, Realize You've Heard A He-Does-It-Too Argument



In the right column on this page, toward the bottom and under the heading "Helpful Links" there is a couple of links to "logical fallacies".  It is my opinion that every person should be at least familiar enough with these fallacies to realize when someone is using one.

Of interest to me today is an all too common fallacy called the "You Too" fallacy. 1 The meme above is a great example of this.  Here are several points to consider when encountering this sort of thing:

1. "You do it too" is not an argument.  It doesn't discuss the issue.  In this meme the issue would appear to be deficits, but it's not.  Notice that there is no position being taken.  Neither are there any explanations as to why or if deficits are good or bad or what to do to fix them.  It is simply a veiled accusation of hypocrisy to anyone who decries them.   

2. This fallacy has a tinge of another fallacy called the "Red Herring Fallacy", because it introduces non-pertinent information.

3. Using this meme as an example, consider that this "You Too" argument cuts both ways by raising two questions:
  • Does the person who created this meme approve of massive deficits?
  • If he does, should we assume therefore that he approved of Bush because of his deficits?

4. This fallacy is designed to put the person who argues against something in the awkward position of having to defend the very thing that he is now against. No matter the issue, this will generally be the case. In this respect, this tactic is normally successful only in obscuring the real issue... which is its purpose.  As noted in "3" however, the one using this tactic has his own explaining to do.  Keep that in mind if you employ it yourself.

Now, to respond to this meme.  First, I was very worried about the deficits when Bush was president, that was Bush 1 and of course 2.

Second, the president is not king.  Every president, if he honors the constitution, is either asked to exercise fiscal restraint or cast it off by congress.  If the deficits were tracked by who holds both houses of congress it reveals a totally different picture than is commonly painted.

Third, deficits are not in their own right bad.  To borrow money to build, say a bridge, that will help future generations to be more productive, then that generation should have to share in the cost.  Nothing wrong with that.  On the other hand, to strap future generations with the cost of lavish pensions for government workers is not ethical, moral or fiscally wise.  And, when there develops an alliance between those who enjoy the pensions and those who give them because the former keeps the latter's campaign coffers full, corruption is now in full bloom.

Forth, the very nature of politics imposes compromise on all .  In representative governments the governments reflect a collective position, not my position.  Therefore, if I hated America and wanted it destroyed, no deficit would be large enough.  I would have to settle for deficits that were palatable for 51% of the people.  Therefore, when Bush was elected I had a choice in degree.  I recognized this has a harsh fact..  I could vote for the big spender, or I could vote for the run-America-off-the-fiscal-cliff-so-it-could-then-be-fundamentally-transformed spender.  In that respect John Kerry was no different than Barak Obama.

Fifth, the wars that Bush entered into did not come from nothing.  We were attacked.  The attack itself brought on its own economic turmoil that effected government revenues.

Sixth, tax cuts don't necessarily amount to reduced revenues, rather, they can increase revenues.  How can the government taxing and spending money in so called "stimulus programs" help the economy more than just letting the people who earned that same money spend it themselves?  It can't. What it does do is give politicians credit, and therefore votes, for giving away other people's money.  In other words, how much would the government take in if it levied 100% tax?  The answer is zero.

And finally, there simply is no comparison between Obama's deficits and any previous administration's deficits, and if Obama has his way, he is just getting started.
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Notes:

1.  Fallacies are known by Latin names.  The "You Too" fallacy is called tu quoque. 






Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Was 9/11 A Prophesy?

I don't know.  I often wonder if events like 9/11 are not prophetic in nature.  But of course I'm not sure.  Perhaps it simply serves as a metaphor.

But with this in mind I find myself intrigued by the thinking that might have occurred in the minds of the passengers who sat docilely by as a few men armed with nothing more than box-cutters killed them.  Perhaps they'd not really paid attention to the new military phenomenon of suicide murderers; a new news item that had become common fare from the other side of the world.  Perhaps they had simply been lured into a false security.  Those sorts of things, after all, happened over there... somewhere... where was it...?  Afghanistan?

However, there was an event that provided a more compelling warning as to what lay in store for America.  Two years earlier on October 31st, 1999, an Egyptian Air Boeing 767 carrying 217 passengers and crew, on a flight from New York to Cairo, inexplicably plummeted into the ocean near Nantucket.  Although the explanation for this crash became political for obvious reasons, the "black box" clearly revealed that it was the result of actions taken by a pilot. Left alone in the cockpit as the Captain excused himself to the lavatory he simply nosed the airliner over and took himself and the 200 other some odd souls on board to their deaths; calmly repeating to himself the words "“Tawakkalt Ala Allah”" (I rely on God) along the way.   Here is the NTSB report.

The idea of a Muslim taking a large airliner full of people to their deaths through a suicide mission was not therefore new at the time of  9/11.  I wonder if this story ever crossed the minds of any of the passengers or crew members on board the flights.  I wonder how many even knew about it.

For sure, a thought that didn't cross the minds of the passengers, but surely filled the minds of the crews, was the training they had received for just such an event. This training had been developed about three decades earlier during the days of "take-me-to-Cooba", and had all but congealed there as high profile hijackings had tapered off.  Apparently, innovation kindled by a Muslim flying his airliner full of people into the ocean simply wasn't part and parcel to the humans in the bowls of the bureaucracy that oversaw such things. The crew had been trained to verbally resist, but ultimately comply with demands if harm was threatened.  It didn't take long, I'm sure, before hijackers were allowed through the flimsy doors of the cockpit and out of the passengers' sight.

There is a common theme that probably weaved its way through every thought those people may have had that I think is worth noting.  It was trust.  They trusted the voices over the P.A. that ensured them if they complied all would be OK.  They trusted that they were simply by-standers in events much larger than themselves.  They trusted the system that had trained the crews and the webbed network of action that was, at that very moment, being thrown into action by the authorities on the ground. While the thought that their captors would kill themselves in the process of killing everyone on board probably never occurred to them, this lack of scope revealed a trust that proved ultimately fatal.  They trusted the image of their own Western worldviews that they had projected onto their captors. In the final analyses one thing is clear, whatever they trusted, they didn't trust themselves.  They didn't trust their own judgments, discernments and abilities to meet the situation.  They were indeed trained to not.  The "authorities" would handle everything.  So they sat idly by, their numbers much larger than their captors, trusting in all they knew, as their captors flew them gently to their deaths.

There was, however, one glimmer that shone forth that day.  Armed with information gained by an illegal cell-phone call placed by Todd Beamer, the trusting, ignorance-induced stupor that had had them sedated, shattered.  Those passengers heroically rose to the occasion.  Though they were not able to save their own lives, they managed to save the lives of those at the intended target.  Their acts gave many hope beyond that day, for they broke ranks, trusted in their own God-given abilities, and acted.  They went down fighting.

So how is this a prophecy or metaphor?  We are now, as a nation, like the passengers on those airliners, comforted by the trust we have in a system that is being mocked and ignored by those who have been charged with protecting and enforcing it.  There is a group at the helm of our nation that is currently hurtling us toward destruction.  Concealed in the "cockpit", so to speak, with their mouthpieces in the media insuring us that we will be OK if we simply trust and comply with their wishes, they guide us ever closer to our fate with ever-increasing speed.

I look at the simple math. No nation can spend a trillion dollars more each year than it takes in, not even America; and not even if it confiscates the wealth of the rich. No nation can do this while pretending that it has an unlimited amount more to borrow and spend.  It really is simple math for anyone willing to have their sedated stupor shattered.  Yet those currently at the helm are doing it.

I look at the morality.  You can't institutionalize sin and expect all to go well.  Those at the helm see themselves as the final arbiters of good and evil and we are trained to trust what they say by their institutions of education.  This will not stand.  It is taking us to our destruction with increasing speed while we trust that somehow everything will turn out OK.  If you think this let me attempt to shatter your stupor.  It won't.  It's not going to be OK. You can trust me on that.  It's simple math and history.

I see a nation being skillfully guided toward its end, and a people sitting docilely by, trusting the images of our past and heritage that are being projected onto reality.  Like the hijack victims, we sit trusting that nothing really bad can happen here... no matter what we do.  Things get fixed.  They just do.  They always have.  It's always been that way.  And it always will be.  We... trust...





Monday, September 3, 2012

The Death Of Dan Rohrbough At Columbine High School

Brian Rohrbough, the father of Dan Rohrbough, gives an account of April 20th 1990, the day of the Columbine Massacre.  This is an excerpt from "INDOCTRINATION, public schools and the decline of Christianity in America". (click here for link) I highly X 100  recommend that you beg, borrow or steal a copy of this documentary if you are a Christian with children in the public school system.   

_____________________________
Transcript of Brian Rohrbough and "Indoctrination" producer, Collin Gunn

Rohrbough:
On the morning of April 20th, before noon, I received a phone call.  And in a panic stricken voice, Dan's mom said to me "Brian, have you heard from Dan, do you know what's going on?".
And I said "no".

And she told me that two gunmen had entered Columbine High School with machine guns and hand-grenades and they were killing kids.  And so me and my co-worker dropped what we were doing and we headed toward the school, and we got to where we could look across the park and we could see the school.  And there were two police cars parked there blocking our way and we couldn't go any further.  And we stood there, watching, and a lady burst out a front door and she was screaming and crying, and she said to the police "save that boy, do something, save that boy!" and that's really where I realized how bad things were.
We heard they were going to start bringing school buses, and the first bus came and I watched as the kids got off and they would run to their parents and they would cry and they would hug.  And all to often I heard this hollow promise that you'll never set foot in that school again.  When the last bus came...when the last bus came, it was empty.



When the next morning came, we opened the newspaper, and there was a picture... of a young man... wearing green... a green shirt, and bluejeans..., (chocking) lying dead on the sidewalk, was my son
That was... our only notification.
I knew how bad the public schools were, and I knew that because I was in the public schools.  And as parents I think that we want to believe that things have gotten better, when in fact they have gotten much worse.  It was my responsibility to make sure that my son was safe, that he was educated properly, but I failed that.  I put him in a pagan school where they teach there is no God, there is no creation.  There's evolution based on a cosmic accident.  And evolution breaks down to one simple belief, and that is that the strong kill the weak as a form of survival and that there's nothing wrong with that.
________________________
Gunn:
"Both of the killers Klebold and Harris had received good grades from their Columbine High teachers for their graphically violent writings.  They showed their violent videos in the classroom with approval. One of them wore a tee shirt brazened with the words 'Natural Selection', the other with the word 'wrath'."
Ideas do have consequences."
________________________-
Rohrbough:
They had taken evolution much further than most people do, but if you stop and think through it, their logic was correct, if evolution is true, and yet it is taught in the school... and I put my son there.  Even though I'm a Christian... so, when we talk about my son's murder, yes it's right to condemn these two murderers, it's right to condemn this school system that taught these wicked things, but you must remember, I am the one who put him there, and I am the one who is responsible for his death.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So?

I saw this ad from "Vote Our Future" dot com.  It's a good ad I think.  It tells the truth about what is being done to young people today... in short that they are the ones who will be paying for all the free lunches.  What I find odd however is that the ad doesn't lead anywhere, other than to encourage young people to vote.  It acknowledges that if young people vote that they can thwart what is being done to them, but it doesn't give any direction or reasoning as to who or why to vote one way or another.

Part of this I think is the thought forms of the demographic that the ad is attempting to reach.  The minute anyone mentions a political party, or a candidate, this age group is inclined to dismiss it.  After all, everyone is angling for something in life, except, of course, the person who says that everyone is angling for something.  So nothing is mentioned... only the favorite whipping boy: "the faceless, party-less "politician".

Still, I find myself watching this ad and thinking So?  Voting is what got us here.  Young people are not being stuck with the bill for our folly because of a lack of votes but a lack of a coherent worldview.  I'm not sure how much good telling young people that they are getting screwed by older people is going to do.  But it does cause me to realize the fears I've had all along.  Older people now, by handing their healthcare over to the government, are in essence handing it over to the up and coming generation, a generation that has been taught by the same older people that there are no absolutes, not even that everyone should absolutely get taken care of when they're sick or broken.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fees To Thugs


The old story goes like this.  A young couple living in the city of Chicago decide to start a little family business.  Shortly after opening their doors a shady looking character walks in asking for the proprietor.  He then offers the couple “protection” in their business.  The couple look a little confused so the stranger clarifies.  “What I’m offering you, for a fee you see, is protection… from us”.  Now they get the picture.

These are thugs and that’s how they operate.  This tactic has been around for years and has now been  perfected to the point that people seem to accept it as good and normal.  Consider the union shop.  The person who goes to work in this shop has his “fees for protection” taken out of his paycheck every month; and it's tax deductible to boot.  If the poor worker doesn’t like what his union stands for and decides to stop paying his “fees”, then the union, backed by the power of the federal government, has him fired. Thugs you see.

On a larger scale we witnessed this year the attempt by these same sorts of thugs to oust the Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker.  All the stops were removed it seemed because Walker was actually keeping a campaign promise to stop the fiscal bleeding in his state brought about by promised fees.  The thugs in the press slandered him.  The thugs in the legislature tied the hands of their law-making colleagues by denying a quorum by fleeing the state.  The thug workers filled the capital with rebellion, hatred and spite. In the end however the people of Wisconsin won this little battle.  We will see how that goes yet.

But there seems to be another strand of thuggery on the horizon.  We have all heard the story of Chick-fil-A’s run-in with Chicago’s mayor, the thug Rahm Emanuel.  It seems that the president of Chick-fil-A has announced that his company is not paying the fee for protection...  in so many words.  So, in typical thug fashion, the mayor has informed Chick-fil-A that it will not be receiving protection in Chicago… from Chicago.

The Arizona republic, a thug rag in its own right, ran a story Saturday, the 27th of July, informing the reader of the sort of fees that are expected for this sort of protection.  It's article begins: “Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos waded into a developing corporate culture war over gay marriage Friday with a $2.5 million donation to keep same-sex union legal in Washington… Bezos joins Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and companies like Starbucks Inc. and Nike Inc. with support to the campaign to uphold Washington’s law.“    Strangely missing in the story, for those who notice such things, is the typical 1-versus-99%-esque drivel we are accustomed to seeing when it concerns the uber-rich like Bezos and Gates, or how the low paid employees at these companies might have received raises instead, or the fact that these are very large corporations which are the nemesis of the modern day thugs--so we are led to believe anyway.  We didn’t hear any of this because they paid the fee… you see.  They are saints.

This all makes sense to us because we are tuned to it.  We are in fact living it out in the spiritual realm.  In this same fashion God offers us protection from himself.  But God is no thug.  For one, we rightly and justly deserve what God is offering us protection from… which is Himself.  Because we are the thugs in this story.  But more than this, he is offering to pay the “fee”, because it is a very expensive fee you see.  Not even Bill Gates could pay this fee.  His worldly wealth is much better squandered on worldliness.  But there again is the beauty of this fee.  Those who are oppressed by the likes of these sorts of thugs can still afford the fee, for it is paid by God Himself, and is free to all who realize their need for it and so ask for it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Old Post I Finally Decided To Publish

Like German tanks rolling into Poland it appears that the Government’s invasion of the health insurance industry will continue unabated. But as we, like the Poles losing their homeland, morn the closing of an era of freedom, we ought to realize that this happened as the result of a ramification of problems we refused to see, and not as a result of problems that were just too difficult to overcome. Let me explain one of them here.

One problem in particular, if one were to dig past the rocky crust of entitlement thinking and emotions, is a faulty premise concerning healthcare. Consider the following syllogism:

  • Premise 1: No one ought to be allowed to die as a result of his own foolish health insurance decisions.
  • Secondary premise: It is not fair that some must pay for the foolishness of others.
  • Conclusion: Government must take away all people’s rights when it comes to health insurance. 
This syllogism was undergirded recently by Nancy Pelosi. On a particular day recently she blamed those horrible free-loaders (those who can afford insurance but don’t bother) for the problems with health insurance. Don’t worry about Pelosi’s change of heart though. As a democrat she can easily  forget that she ever said such a thing about her constituents so those “free-loaders” will be morphing back into victims on her lips quicker than you can say greedy, racist Republican. But on this day Pelosi actually swerved a little closer to the truth than usual in her drunken-esque ramblings. Even If only by one premise she did however avoid bashing through the rail that usually keeps her well clear of the road of reality and common-sense.

The premise of which I speak is number 1. Like the Blazing Saddles’ sheriff who gained control of a deteriorating situation by holding his gun to his own head, this premise allows that no matter how irresponsible a person may be, society must step in before that person pays the ultimate price for his stupidity. Never mind for the moment that this directly contradicts our society’s religious source for morality: evolution, the effect is that an entire society is held captive, according to Nancy Pelosi and myself, by those who think buying a Harley more important than providing for one’s own healthcare. So when they are hauled into ER shortly after they found their Harley and helmetless head bouncing down the highway, premise 1 kicks in. Since premise 1 is already accepted law, and as such constitutes de facto free healthcare, Obamacare can’t really be seen as the beginning of socialized medicine but rather only a stage in its implementation.

There have always been other options beyond letting the man die that don’t involve the coercion of those who choose wisdom over foolishness. For one he could be cared for then charged for the service. The resources could be extracted somehow.  The IRS could be consulted on this. They are masters at extracting the fruit of other people’s labor from their greedy little hands. But for the same reasons that we accept premise 1 as a given, we, as a people, will never allow for any options that might make a mom feel bad.

For those who see the 2700 pages of bureaucratic-micro-managing-tentacle law bound up inside Obamacare as an actual effort to solve health insurance issues there’s probably no hope; likewise for those who blindly see it as compassion or others yet who see it as just another means to pick their “rich” neighbor’s pocket. But for many it is a travesty. For just as throwing expensive drugs, as opposed to searching out root issues, at a sick person’s symptoms is expensive in terms of that person’s health and dollar-bills; it’s also expensive in terms of liberty and dollar-bills when higher taxes and less freedom are seen as the only acceptable medicine for maintaining the health of a free republic.

When a people enjoy the luxury, for a time, of abandoning reality; choosing instead to drink deep the wine of make-believe worlds of personal peace, affluence, and resources that magically appear at their benevolent leader’s beckon and call, they become too drunk to think. But reality has a way of catching up. It always does. And given the bar tab, and the drunken stupor that the majority of Americans appear to have drank themselves into, when it catches up this time it’s going to run us all down.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ozzie And Harriet, Not Real Life?

How many times have I heard the criticism that the show "Ozzie and Harriet", or “Leave It To Beaver” were not real life? In answer to this criticism the networks gave us “Married With Children”. Now there’s a show that should keep the I’m-failing-as-a-parent blues at bay. But what happens when a show actually reflects real life?

 Well apparently the makers of the movie “God Bless America” don’t want to live up to this standard. Judging from the trailer, it appears that this movie allows its makers, and viewers, to fantasize about how they wish they could respond to the trials of human relations.  One of those trials is some misbehavior in a theater.  So the characters respond the way they respond to all the other things that they don't like about their fellow humans.  They shoot them… right there in the theater.

But now, since such has become real life, they are going to remove that part.  Go figure. Don’t worry though. Since no one has gone on a shooting rampage in the park, or at a protest, lately there’s plenty of opportunity elsewhere in the film to vicariously live out the fantasies of simply blowing away those wedon’t like.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Posting At Winging It

I occasionally post at Winging It.  Today is one of those occasions.  You can find it linked below if you like.

Which Judge To Choose?

Monday, April 23, 2012

This video is worth watching.  That there are no Muslim songs that sing of being put to death by Christians for preaching the name of Muhammad speaks volumes... I think.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

God...? Or Science Of The Gaps?

The phrase “God of the gaps” is based on the premise that scientific discovery is slowly eroding away any basis by which our lives and existence can be explained through an intelligent designer. These gaps in scientific understanding, so it is implied, are the only remaining vestiges of man’s ignorance in which notions like superstition and supernatural beliefs can find refuge, and from that refuge exert influences on culture. Noteworthy however is the confidence found in the perspective that sees the idea of god and gods as simply “gaps” in real knowledge. The confidence is placed in the belief that science can and will eventually leave no refuge for religion and man can finally rest, assured that the days of interpreting life’s meaning and events according to a subjective template of make believe gods and goblins is fading into man’s collective memory. This, of course, is short sighted of the modern day scientist turned pontificator for such a mindset is oblivious of the inability of the scientist to remain objective in his own pursuits of knowledge.

The reality will ever be that it will be impossible to explain away religion. Science has answered difficult questions and in so doing has afforded man a more comfortable life as well as the ability to control certain aspects of his existence. While such advancements do create an allure to those who dream of science’s eventual ability to dispel notions of a “higher power”, these leaps have in reality only succeeded in misleading those who have placed their hopes in science for such ends.

One way of explaining this is by perspective. While it’s true that the number 10 is ten times the number 1, this is not the only truth about ten that should be considered. There are other perspectives. If these numbers represent knowledge and scientific advancement, then given the amount of ignorance that a tenfold increase in knowledge would have displaced, some may be apt to become haughty. But others with not so narrow a gaze will still see 10 as a hundred times smaller than a thousand, which is also true. Moreover, this will always be the case because each advancement in knowledge still succeeds also in creating an exponential increase in questions. Conclusions drawn from these advancements, whether they be, “look at what we now know”, or “look at how much we now realize we don’t know”, will depend largely on a naturalistic verses theistic perspective. One begets confidence in Man, the other an awe of the Creator.

The naturalistic viewpoint that sees only a material world is really narrow and small, no matter how large the naturalists interprets his little cocoon to be. This leads to an unfounded confidence by man in man’s ability to answer all questions, even questions that science will never be able to answer. In the end his discoveries becomes a runway of sorts for an ill-fated flight into a different realm. Science simply cannot slip the surly bonds of materialism. Once the science that gave us electricity, the automobile and cell phones begins to venture into the realm of morality it immediately runs out of runway and crashes into the chasm of subjective preference. It does not fly, indeed it cannot, for if we are constructed of something so amoral as “chance and molecules” we are by nature only machines made of material; and material is amoral. The reality of this reality, of course, is nothing new. It was pointed out quite well millions of scientific discoveries ago. It goes like this:

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

Simply put, the person who sees the world solely through a materialistic lens is half blind. He can see gods as gap fillers, but he can’t see science as a gap maker. He can chide those with much wider horizons as narrow minded, but he can’t see the constrictions naturalism has put on his own views. Because of his unsubstantiated conclusions based on theories that morphed, more religiously than scientifically, into fact, his own gaps are not only larger than he realizes, he doesn’t seem capable of noticing them gaping before him. Like his “religious” counterpart, his view, though he vehemently denies it, is based more on hopes than science; the chief of these being that there is no eternal being to which he is accountable, and if there is, it is silent… and benevolent.

To peek past the thin veil of so called “science” is to apprehend the root issues that bellies the religious like credulity prevalent in this age. That root issue is good old-fashioned political power. The truth is that ultimate liberty is at stake when it comes to determining what is right and wrong, what is and is not acceptable behavior and what will and won’t be the ultimate reference point from which morality is measured. An open minded perspective therefore will reveal that the existence of a creator, to which all men are ultimately accountable, is simply unacceptable on a personal self-centered level; and there’s simply nothing scientific about that. Such an entity simply puts too much of a damper on chasing after the lusts of the flesh and so it therefore must be rejected on the best grounds available. It just so happens that right now, in this technologically advanced era, those grounds are in the realm of science; even if it has to be make-it-up-and-change-it-as-necessary-to-accommodate-real-discoveries-and-the-policial-template science.

With this in mind it might surprise many that some of the political shenanigans, like those taking place right now in response to an academic freedom law recently passed in Tennessee, that pass as science actually find more in common with the religions they malign and reject than they do science. Worse, like some of the beliefs held in some religions, many scientific theories believed to be true based on political necessity, have grown hard over time themselves. They, in a politically charged and institutionalized environment like the current American education system, become therefore unassailable in the minds of those who have put their faith in them. Their faith has then blinded them to the fact that their theories draw nourishment, not as much from empirical science as plain old political bullying.

It cannot be overcome that answers based on anything that cannot be proven or disproven by science is not science. It is religion. Such a religion, under the guise of science, begins its argument based on assumptions, one of which is that its belief in the nonexistence of a creator is rock solid. Or, on the flip side, it believes that the world as we interpret it with our five senses is all that is and so is all that can be known. Since there is no way of knowing ultimate truths in ways that satisfy both empirical science and the atheistic scientists, it therefore stands to reason that when these scientist accuse religions of filling gaps with the very thing they themselves are filling them, these scientist are simply projecting onto others their own methods and beliefs: the belief that others are filling gaps with nonsense. The accusation can just as easily be made that some of what passes for science today is nothing more than “science of the gaps”. A more opened minded approach might foster a more humble assessment of the limits of man’s knowledge by concluding that man can never know if he can know all that can be known. Perhaps then he can then realize that not only at some point, like it or not, he is operating on faith, but also that the transition has occured.

One of the more blatant examples of “science of the gaps” can be seen in the so called multiverse theory. This is a theory that basically suggests that the exquisite design of our universe… exists merely because there are an infinite number of universes and we just happen to be in one that appears to be designed. (1) Another theory along these lines is called “Punctuated equilibrium”. This is an evolutionary theory that exists, not as much as a result of research but rather because of the lack of evidence for evolution in the fossil record. As one person aptly put it, “it is like saying that elephants must run through our living room very fast because we never see them”.

These are but two theories that qualify as science, not on any scientific bases but because they reject a designer to whom the theorist might owe a reckoning. The case could be made that its only purpose is to bolster other theories that new discoveries are having the effect of weakening. The fact is that there is just too many ingredients in some “theories” that simply cannot withstand the rigors of real science but are nevertheless needed for political purposes and so remain.

Some of these theories morph into accepted fact over time by undergoing their own process of evolution and so develop more of a religious air about them because of their bases in faith. Political, as opposed to scientific, terms like “consensus” are then adopted in this evolutionary process to prop up theories since there is disagreement within the scientific community on the trustworthiness of the theories. When has anyone seen the word “consensus” used to support the idea of gravity, or the periodic table? The very word “consensus” comes through the door hauling baggage stuffed with politics. The fact is, if questions remain among those within the discipline, ignorance remains; and so should open minds. It should be remembered that ignorance in its own right is not a bad thing but a thing to be conquered; that is unless one has ordered his life around ignorance posing as fact. In that case it is the questions that must be defeated, and ignorance defended by all means.

So it comes about that antitheses to politically accepted scientific theories are rejected, not because of the scientific method, but rather according to a system of beliefs. Gone is the typical open minded curiosity that should be resident in the scientist. Belief, now posing as science, has morphed into religious fervor that has solidified theory into fact. This belief turns with its politically motivated self-righteous wrath against all who imply that the theory may not, after all, be true. Dr. Dave Pilbeam, speaking along these lines, lends some insight to this as he aptly wrote considering such mindsets:

“...perhaps generations of students of human evolution, including myself, have been flailing about in the dark; that our data base is too sparse, too slippery, for it to be able to mold our theories. Rather the theories are more statements about us and ideology than about the past. Paleoanthropology reveals more about how humans view themselves than it does about how humans came about. But that is heresy.” (2)

So how do humans view themselves? I would say, in a word: “Autonomous”. Yes, that is our ever and always goal by any means necessary, even if it means becoming slaves; a thing at which man has proven himself especially adept.

To be sure, and let me state, we are today the benefactors of scientific theory. But it is not anti-science to assert that there remains the necessity that science keeps itself corralled in the arena of science. If it is possible to test theories to render them true or false then all must be willing to accept that which is true, even the scientist. But when the ramifications of a theory are as profound as those that are based on theories that clearly exist for the purpose of dispensing with objective truth and an ultimate law-giver, let us not close our minds. Let us not muffle and oppress by outlawing opposing views without basis. In conclusion, while it is reasonable and logical that no humble person should deny that gaps exist in man’s knowledge concerning both our material and spiritual world; it is neither reasonable nor logical to throw stones at another man’s “gaps” when one’s own are made of glass.

1. From Eternity Matters

2. Conservapedia

Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Karma

A friend of mine posted this on his blog "A Tiger's Got My Back" a few years ago. I've found myself thinking about it many times since so I thought I'd just post it on my blog for easy access.

Karma is ubiquitous in today's American culture. I hear this term bantered about on the radio, on TV and in conversations. For some reason that, quite honestly, escapes me, people actually believe in karma. I wish to show two reasons why the idea of karma is not viable.

Karma is the idea that moral actions are rewarded or punished through an impersonal system, whether it be some kind of law, or the universe itself, etc.* Let us note first of all that, in order to believe in good and bad actions as the inputs to the karmic system, one must hold to some standard of Good. After all, how can good behavior be rewarded--and more importantly, bad behavior be punished--if there is no standard on which to judge? Karma without the idea of the Good is like a capricious master, deciding your fate on a whim. This is hardly a fair scenario, and if karma isn't about fairness, then what is it about? But this idea of the Good must also be a universal standard, if the universe or a universal law is responsible for punishment and reward. Now, every good postmodernist knows that the first rule of postmodernism is "there are no moral absolutes." So the relativist who believes in karma (and I have yet to meet, see or hear a karma-espouser who is not a moral relativist) is faced with a contradiction--there both is and is not a universal standard of Good.

Now I myself do believe in a universal standard of Good. Should I therefore admit that karma is at least possible, given my worldview? Not quite. Karma runs into another issue when one recalls that it is believed to be an impersonal system: Put a good action into the system, get rewarded; put a bad action into the system, get punished. Here's the rub: How does an impersonal system differentiate between good and bad? Good and bad are moral categories, and only persons have an understanding of moral actions. If, for example, I were to use my computer to hack into Wal-Mart's customer database and steal all of their information, my computer would not stand in my way. It would not send me an email letting me know it disapproved of my actions because they were morally wrong. But were my wife to walk in while I was breaking into the database, she would immediately let me know that what I was doing was wrong. For her, the distinction would be immediate and obvious. For my computer, no distinction would ever be forthcoming. Karma is an impersonal agent, just like a computer. Therefore, karma is not able to know the difference between good and bad.

To reiterate, karma presupposes an absolute standard of Good, which contradicts postmodern moral theory, and it posits the existence of an impersonal agent that can differentiate between good and bad, which is another contradiction, since only persons understand this distinction. This leaves the believer in karma with an untenable assertion on two counts.

In other words, in postmodern America, karma simply cannot be.