ATHEISM- APOLOGETICS [links added- long version]
MY RADIO LINKS-
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-7R Kant, Hume, Sartre
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-6E Apologetics- Kant, Hume
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-6F DaVinci code
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-7Q Something from nothing- Quantum Leap
On today’s video- I attempted the impossible- to tell the story of ‘everything’ in 1 hour.
Ok I bit off more than I could chew.
It took 2 hours [the next video ‘history of the world- part 2’ will finish it].
But- to sum up today’s video.
Is the biblical account of creation accurate?
We read that God made everything- by speaking.
Is this even possible- or some silly fable?
Over the history of time we read the story of the Jewish people- their trials and failures.
That’s the majority of the history of the Old Testament.
They believed the story in Genesis- while others questioned whether or not all things actually had a beginning point.
In time- we see the rise of the Greek philosophers- during what we call the intertestamental period [the 400 years between Malachi and Matthew].
These thinkers were looking for the answer to these questions- and the Greek word they used to describe this answer- was LOGOS- which is the Geek word- for WORD.
Then we had the appearing of Christ in the 1st century- and the apostle John calls him the LOGOS.
That’s the same word that the Greeks were looking for- John says ‘we have found him’.
Remember- this is Jesus Christ- the living Word.
Ok- over time we had the great movements of history- the Renaissance- the Reformation- the Enlightenment- the scientific revolution- the industrial revolution.
Most scientists believed that all creation was eternal- so- for them- the answer to ‘everything’ was- it was always there.
In the 20th century we had the great breakthroughs of Einstein- and we call one of them the Big Bang theory- meaning- all things did not always exist.
They had a beginning point- which we call the point of singularity.
Ahh- now we are back to ‘where did it all come from- if at the start- there was nothing’.
Yes- ‘In the beginning God spoke’.
So- at the end of the story- of everything- we find the answer at the beginning.
In the beginning God spoke-Yes- the early followers of Jesus called him by this name- THE WORD.
And science and logic show us that all events need a cause [even the 'event’ of creation].
So- this history of the world- recorded in the scripture- was true all along!
1946 JEWS TEACHING SCIENCE- WHAT IS THIS?
I want to try and cover a little bit more on Einstein.
But just a few quick notes.
The last few days- as I have watched some of the post election coverage- I find it funny how the ‘4th estate’ has tried to rise above their own ignorance.
This past year- as I have both read- viewed- listened to many media sources- all sides of the various debates that go on in the country.
There was a conscious decision made- by some on the left- to ‘suppress the vote’.
I thought it was the Repubs that were trying to do this?
Yes- there were efforts made- whether noble or not- to suppress some of the minority vote [noble - some say they were just trying to stop voter fraud- others said they were trying to suppress the minority vote].
But- how did the left do this?
Once again- yes- hailing from the great state of N.J. [ the headquarters of many media outlets- it is sad that the most grievous offenders come from my hometown area! - Fort Lee- Secaucus- spots right where I grew up].
MSNBC spent an entire year mocking the faith of Romney.
I saw Martin Bashir- actually say- on air- that Christians should not vote for Romney because he denies the Trinity.
Can you imagine him saying this about a Muslim candidate?
Chris Matthews- he spoke about Romney and his religion as weird- a cult- and other interesting terms [Matthews says he was taken out of context- but simply using the word accomplishes the task].
Now- after a year of this- it is true that some White evangelicals [their target audience of suppression] did indeed not vote for Romney.
In media lingo they call this ‘failed to get out his base- the White vote’.
They see what they did as a noble cause- a good thing.
When you convince yourself that those who don’t embrace your ideas are racist nuts- then it justifies this double standard.
There was an article on Hillary Clinton seeing the Broadway play the Book of Mormon [yeah- Bloomberg manages to keep the lights on Broadway on- but watch out if you’re from Staten island or the Rockaway’s!]
When she came out of the theater she said it was so funny- she couldn’t stop laughing.
What was she laughing at?
The play is an open mockery of the Mormon faith.
Yet- this same state dept official- she was outraged over the release of some on line movie clip that depicted the prophet Muhammad in a negative light.
They just sentenced the maker of the movie to a year in jail- over some probation thing.
Yes- that’s the double standard of the media- politicians- it is quite obvious.
As I read a few chapters every few days- I want to comment on the important- relevant stuff.
One of them being the very word Relativity.
Now- I am tempted to go back and review all the posts we did on physics [you long time blog readers might remember?].
But this book is not a physics book per se’- but a biography.
Yet a quick review might help.
Einstein became famous for a few things- most of us know the famous equation E=mc2.
Simply a conversion of mass into energy formula- it works for all things- not just Nuclear.
His theory of Relativity shook up the world of physics- and Einstein is indeed the father of what we call modern physics [and Quantum theory].
Okay- what he did was he took the centuries old ideas of Newton [the father of classical physics] and he said that time and space were not absolutes.
That’s is- that depending on the observer [and his speed] time actually changes.
Some in the scientific community could not fathom what he was saying.
The book has actual headlines from the NY times- they openly doubted some of Einstein’s work
I remember reading this years ago- but this time I saw the real headlines.
They said stuff like ‘what is this new theory- that space might be limited- this defies the actual definition of space’.
Now- it would take too long to tell you what they were covering- but it is one of the various theories of the universe.
In actuality- the times might have been right in this one case [it’s a theory that the universe is curved- has no detectable edge- if so- you can than argue for an infinite universe in a closed space- because there is no edge- or end].
As a side note- logically- the times was correct.
Just because you can’t find a ‘sharp edge’ to a thing- that does not mean the thing is ‘endless’.
I covered this years ago in our apologetics posts- it was interesting to have re –read this from this author [Isaacson].
He is a good author- and explains stuff well.
Okay what was the other stuff that some objected to?
Some associated- wrongly- the theory of Relativity- with the modernist philosophy called Relativism.
Relativism [remember the philosophy stuff?] said that there was really nothing as objective truth- that what you see might be just as true as what someone else sees.
You might both be looking at the same thing [morally- murder- etc.] yet to one it might be wrong- to the other- right.
This idea- Relativism- was strongly rejected by many philosophers- especially those with a Christians/Theist background.
Even today this is one of the major debates going on in the world of the philosophy.
But- some confused what Einstein was saying- and they thought [or used it] to back up the ‘moral’ philosophy of Relativism.
This was a mistake.
Einstein himself- as I mentioned in an earlier post- was not a relativist at all- that is when speaking about moral absolutes.
So some began to associate him- as one of the new ‘Jew’ scientists- who were introducing dangerous doctrines to the world.
Yes- some of the objectors to Einstein objected on the basis of this new ‘Jewish science’ that was breaking away from the moors of Christian science- whose father was Isaac Newton.
See how both anti Semitism- and religious belief played a role in this?
I’ll end with a quote from a famous man of the time- an up and coming politician- I mean he could awe his audience like no other.
Obama- Clinton- even the great communicator- Reagan- were no match for this man when it came to giving a speech.
He said ‘Science- once our greatest pride- is today being taught by Hebrews’.
Who said this?
The future leader of Germany- Adolph Hitler.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] - I have posted lots.
1942 POLITICS AND EINSTEIN
Let's start with the big story of the day.
Just a few things before I get back to Einstein.
As I have followed the news on this- over the past few weeks there has been some question on whether or not the media have manipulated any of the numbers.
Going in to today’s election- if the media are correct- Obama will no doubt win.
They have shown polls that have the president winning in enough states [battle ground states] that he should win.
Are any of the polls wrong- or possibly skewed?
That the question.
It’s hard to say that all pollsters would have some inside conspiracy to do this.
Actually I don’t believe that they would [they do have reputations you know].
But- we do have some actual evidence that some have done this.
It’s hard at times to filter out the bias- on both sides- but let’s try and take one example of possible skewing.
Most of the polls we have seen these past few weeks have shown the sample of people that they use.
For instance- you might have one say they polled a thousand folk- then they’ll say 39% were Democrats- 31 % Republicans.
Now- some on the right were saying ‘see- they are cheating’.
Would this be cheating in a poll?
Because the pollsters are trying to get an accurate picture of the electorate- that is- if they ‘think’ that more Dems will vote- then this would be a fair way to poll.
So- how do they figure out who the likely voters will be?
They usually look at the last election [presidential].
But- everyone who watches politics will tell you that the last election- 2008- had an historic turnout of Dem’s.
Many were not only voting for a man they felt would do a good job- but they also felt like they were part of an historic thing- the possible election of Americas first Black president.
Everyone [well most] will admit this- and it’s not wrong to admit this- that many came out to be part of an historic event- fine.
So- did some of the pollsters do this- did they use a larger number of Dem’s in the polls?
Now- a case can be made that you would not have the same type of turnout this time.
Because you don’t have the same historic significance- it’s not historic to say ‘yeah- we voted for the first Black president in history- the second time’.
Okay- but the pollsters do have a reason to have more Dems than Repubs- sometimes.
But- there were some polls that showed twice as many Dems [as a percentage- that is if you had 7% more Dems last time- this time they were showing about 14%- something that would be next to impossible].
So- yes- in this few cases- we do have some evidence that some pollsters were rigging the system to benefit one side.
Okay- said all that to say this.
If Romney wins- and big [which I doubt] then you just saw a good example of media bias- because according to most of the media- Obama should win.
Lets see what happens in the morning.
Okay- just a few notes on the Einstein biography I’m going thru.
The book is an older book- I picked it up a few months ago at half price books.
But it’s a good book- not written from a religious perspective at all- the author- Walter Isaacson- is a top notch writer.
The reason I say ‘not from a religious perspective’ is because it’s kind of amazing how many times Einstein- and his companions- either speak about God- or outright quote him!
Yeah- over the years I have heard views from both sides [Atheists and Theists] who have tried to make Einstein more like them.
But the actual quotes from him- and how many times they allude to God- is really more than I thought.
I’m at the point in the book [about halfway] where you begin seeing the anti Semitism rise up in Germany.
As most of you know- Einstein was a Jew- who came from Germany.
He lived at the time of the rise of the Nazi’s- and the anti Jewish ‘ness’ of the times would affect him.
Einstein held teaching positions at various universities of his day- one was in Berlin.
Some of his contemporaries- men like Max Planck- were indeed all in for the German nationalism that was riding a wave at the time.
Einstein on the other hand resisted the mixing of science with nationalism- he believed more in a global type citizenship- that the great breakthrough’s they were making at the time- were for the world- not just for the benefit of one nation.
Einstein would refuse to sign a declaration signed by many of the thinkers of his day- one that supported German nationalism.
Instead he was part of a smaller group who drew up a sort of pacifist declaration- one which would fall by the way side because of its lack of support.
A few notes.
I find his insight into war- where it ‘comes from’ to be enlightening.
I’ll give you a quote- it comes from “a biologically determined feature of the male character” “What drives people to kill and maim each other so savagely” “I think it is the sexual character of the male that leads to such wild explosions”.
Einstein saw a sort of genetic ‘defect’ in man- something within him- that was the root cause of war.
In the book of James- in the New Testament- the brother of our Lord writes ‘from whence come wars and fighting’s among you- come they not hence- even from your lusts that war in your members’.
Yeah- I think James and Einstein were on the same page.
Eventually Einstein would oppose the war- that is- the initial aggression that was sprouting from his homeland.
The book does not go into detail about the actual war [WW2] at least not yet.
But we know from history that the Nazi’s would be part of one of the most heinous mindsets the world has ever known.
Hitler’s idea that a certain race of people were inherently ‘less human' that others.
Many do not know that some of his thoughts were formed by the popular idea of Evolution.
The teaching that all humans are on a scale of the ‘most evolved’ and the ‘least evolved’.
Yes- I have gotten into this in the past- and don’t want to do it again right now.
Eventually the allies would also cross a line of war- a line that divided the U.S. and the British for a short time.
The line of bombing urban centers- and targeting civilians.
Some of the correspondence that came out after the war showed that certain American military commanders objected to the bombing of civilian centers.
They would eventually do as they were told- but they did make their objections known.
The British were more willing to engage in the bombing- after all- Germany had already bombed them.
The first city center to go was Hamburg- a convenient target- right across from the British on the North Sea.
Above Belgium and the Netherlands.
War has a tendency to take all sides further than their conscience would allow at the start.
There seems to be something within the nature of man that always leads down a road of more destruction- not less.
One of the greatest minds of our time- a man who was brilliant- and also struggled with his own passions- saw it as some type of inner flaw of man.
A sort of ‘sinful nature’.
Yeah- James- the Lords brother called it ‘the lusts that war in our members’.
On this point they agree.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] - I have posted lots.
1936 EINSTEIN THE DETERMINIST.
In keeping with the last post [propaganda] I read an interesting AP article on Syria.
As most of you know Syria has been in a civil war for many months- they are the 1st ‘Arab spring’ nation that has not ‘fallen’ to the rebels.
Now- there are lots of political things going on in the region [Russia and China not supporting a Libyan style NATO action] that are sustaining Assad’s regime.
But I found it funny how the western media have chosen to portray the war.
In order for the media to side with those who want to depose Assad- they must ‘side’ with the ‘deposers’.
So- the article spoke about the outside Al Qaeda groups who are coming in to assist the rebels.
It used terms like ‘heroism’ ‘valor’ ‘experienced fighters who know what they are doing’.
These terms were used to describe Al Qaeda fighters- in contrast to Assad- a ‘crimes against humanity’ description.
Wow- I never thought the media would actually try and honor Al Qaeda fighters- in order to accomplish their agenda.
That my friends is the ultimate in propaganda.
Okay- I read some more on Einstein over the weekend- and wanted to cover a few things.
Over the years as you read various sources about famous folk- you need to be aware of the source.
For instance- Christian writers [writing from that perspective] often portray the religious tendencies of a figure in a more favorable light then an atheist writer would.
So you have to be careful that the author is not writing his own story into the person he is covering.
But the biography I’m reading was not written from a religious view.
Yet- the author does share the various positions Einstein has taken about God over the years.
One thing to note is Einstein was a lover of philosophy- he admired men like Hume, Kant and Spinoza.
If you remember- a few years ago I covered the history of philosophy and how much of it dealt with what the causes of things are.
The law of Cause and Effect [also referred to as causality].
As a Physicist- Einstein had a great interest in these subjects.
At the end of the day- Einstein fell into a camp of thinkers called Determinists.
That means he believed that that the universe was ruled by definite principles- even though we did not have the answers to all the puzzles- yet he was convinced that if we searched long enough- we would find order to it.
This belief is in keeping with Theistic thinkers- not with those who ascribe chance and disorder to the creation.
I might have bitten off a little much here- but the point is- at the end of the day Einstein rejected the commonly held belief that there is no real cause to the things we see.
Many thinkers who argue against the existence of God argue form a perspective that chance is behind the ‘perceived’ design we see in nature.
Dawkins [the famous atheist] calls it ‘the appearance of design’.
Einstein did not simply believe in the ‘appearance’ of design- but he believed that the Cosmos was indeed a product of some type of cause that gave it design.
Now- I’m not saying Einstein was a Christian [or observant Jew]- but the point is- in his thinking- he rejects the most commonly held arguments that are made against the Theistic world view [in Cosmology- science] and sides with the Christian thinkers of our day.
Einstein famously said ‘God does not roll dice’ meaning he did not believe in the atheistic argument that things just happen without any cause.
No- Einstein seems to agree with one of his favorite thinkers- Spinoza said ‘All things are determined by the necessity of Divine nature’.
Yes- Einstein was a Determinist in his thinking- he did indeed side with the Theists at the end of the day.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] - I have posted lots.
1932 CHALLENGING THE SYSTEM
I have finally started my book on Einstein.
I bought it a few weeks ago- and never had the chance to break it open.
I also am working my way thru the Catechism of the Catholic church- quite a volume indeed.
I watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix over the weekend- Last night I caught a documentary on Hunter Thompson.
He was the character that Johnny Depp played in the movie ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’.
Hunter was a sort of counter culture hero- he wrote for Rolling Stone and had his own unique style of writing.
He called it Gonzo journalism- he said the writer needed to inject himself into the story- and become part of the story.
Sort of like what the reporters did in the Iraq war- we called it ‘Embed’.
He covered the campaign of George McGovern- who sadly passed this week.
George was the quintessential liberal- but a man of conviction- he was a good man.
Hunter made it into the headlines a few years back- he killed himself with one of his favorite things- a gun.
Yeah- Hunter was a gun lover- a liberal- and in some ways a moralist of his time.
Now- with all the doc’s I saw [also finished Greek civilization] and the books I’m reading- it’s hard to pick one subject to cover at a time.
But let me go with Einstein for a few minutes.
In this biography- by Walter Isaacson- he doesn’t go too deeply into the science of Einstein- which would take a whole physics course to understand.
But he does cover some high points.
One of the things that Thompson and Einstein had in common- was their willingness to challenge the system.
They took on the ‘received wisdom’ of the day- and were daring enough to take the ‘path less trod’.
Just one area- Ether.
At the start of the 20th century Ether was an accepted ‘scientific truth’ that most [if not all] scientists accepted.
It would be like Dark Matter today- something that seems to be ‘true’- most of the scientific community speak of it as real- yet- as far as we know- we have never once actually detected it.
So- ether was this theory that said light/energy is a wave [not particles] and therefore for this wave to move thru space- it needs a carrier.
Ether was this so called vapor like substance that allowed Energy/light to travel.
At a young age Einstein accepted this idea- but he was learning at a time when particle physics was just getting off the ground.
Though atoms and molecules [particles] were indeed part of the conversation- yet they were not totally proved yet.
So- part of the great breakthrough of Einstein put to death the idea of Ether- and instead we learned that light is not a wave so to speak- but a sort of particle beam- we did not really need the Ether concept- and to be honest- it never was really there.
This is just one little tid bit from the book that I thought interesting- today you would be considered a fool if you still talked about Ether [in this way].
Yet- at the time of Einstein you were a fool if you did not accept it.
Einstein would later challenge the field that he launched- Theoretical/Quantum physics.
He felt like some of the ideas were not really scientific- too much speculating.
That’s what I see as I watch/read about some of the most popular ideas that seem to make it into the TV specials that cover these subjects.
It’s often the theories/ideas that are ‘way out there’ that are the most interesting- and get the most viewers.
The problem is- many of these ideas are [in my view] modern day Ethers- they are accepted ‘fact’ even though we don’t really know if they exist.
When I see shows on alternate universes- parallel worlds- where we supposedly have duplicate lives and all.
Well- this is not science- this is not even Ether- its fairy tale land.
Yet- these same theorists will mock belief in an omnipotent being- because they want to see the facts.
So- over the next few weeks I will try and hit a little more on the books I’m reading- cover some more important news stuff- and try to be as challenging as Hunter.
Sometimes it’s when we go against the status quo- when we are open to see things differently- that’s when we make major breakthroughs in our thinking.
We should not cast off all the stuff that has come to us down thru the ages- but we need to realize that some of the stuff that seems to be accepted fact today- just might be the Ether of yesterday.
1896 SIGNS OF THE TIMES
‘Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee- is burned up with fire’ Isaiah 64:11.
Yesterday I mentioned that I watched a couple of negative documentaries about Christianity- they were done from the extreme skeptic’s perspective.
In these types of shows they usually have a few Christians/preachers that they portray as idiots.
In some cases- we can’t help ourselves!
One of the scenes was this group of protestant Christians traveling to Israel on a holy land tour.
When they are at the site of the temple mount [a real big deal for certain protestants- called Dispensationalists].
The pastor is speaking- very loudly- and quoting Jesus from Matthew 24.
He says ‘Jesus said there would be no stone left upon another- he meant it- all these stones will come down’!
Now- I know he meant well- and it must have felt exhilarating for him to kind of be standing up for Jesus- but we all know that there is this huge gold mosque sitting right at the spot where the temple used to be.
And this is where- for some Protestants- the rubber meets the road.
The above verse comes from the Old Testament prophet- the people of God [Israel] were being judged- they lost their homeland and eventually their holy temple would be destroyed.
Over a period of time they would return to their land and the temple would be re built.
During the days of Jesus you had a 3rd temple- even though the 2nd rebuilt one was never destroyed- yet Herod [the father of king Herod whom we read about in the bible] would undergo this huge rebuilding project- and he turned the temple of Jesus day into this huge majestic place.
So- when the disciples were with Jesus one day [matt 24] they said ‘look at all these great buildings Jesus’.
And that’s when he gave the response ‘their will not be left one stone upon another that shall not be cast down’.
This event took place in the year AD 70- the Roman general Titus would sack Jerusalem and the temple was cast down- there was not ‘one stone left on another’ literally.
After the destruction- many went in and searched thru the rubble for the gold that melted and fell between the stones- they actually laid every stone bare during this process.
So- the actual words the minister quoted from Jesus- these words were not defending the glory of the temple- which in Christ’s day came to represent religion apart from God.
No- the words of Jesus were actually a rebuke to those who put too much emphasis on the temple itself [which just happened to be the camp that the above minister was in- ouch!]
Christians do have a problem with stuff like this- lots.
I also caught a few preaching shows over the past week- and many of them had the same theme.
One man was ranting against Muslims- he was quoting verses in the Bible that talk about avoiding the evil person.
I actually just posted on this a few weeks ago.
These verses come from the Apostle Paul’s pen- in his letter to the church at Corinth.
He was not saying to have no contact with unbelievers [or people of other faiths]- he was talking about ‘church members’ who were living in open sin.
I got into it the other day- don’t want to rehash it again.
The point was- even though this minister meant well- he was giving the opinion that Christians should have no peaceful dealings with Muslims- or any other religion for that matter.
Is this right?
The bible says we should live peaceably with all men.
In the Old Testament we read the story of Joseph.
He became the second most powerful figure in the land of Egypt- only Pharaoh was over him.
Joseph was living- and functioning- in the midst of the Egyptian people- who did indeed have different religious beliefs than Joseph.
Yet we read how Joseph earned great respect from the Egyptians- and when Joseph’s dad died [Jacob- who was named Israel] they respected the wishes of Joseph and even mourned with him.
Now- this is a great example of believers having friends- functioning in society- without purposefully offending people.
I do not claim to have perfect understanding about the end times- but I do see some major flaws with what most people think about when they hear ‘end times’.
Many Christians see a future restoration of the temple in Jerusalem.
They see a huge problem that the mosque sits on the temple site- and they have various scenarios to see the thing removed.
These same believers- all good people mind you- also see Jesus restoring the sacrificial system- and him ruling over Jerusalem- with the sacrifices taking place once again.
In the book of Hebrews- in our bibles- the writer says ‘those who continue the sacrificial system- after the crucifixion of Christ- are doing disgrace to the Cross of Christ.’
Theologically- the above end time’s scenario does much harm to the basic message of the Cross.
Geopolitically- it spells disaster.
1895- BUYER BEWARE!
We bought the Rocu thing the other day.
That’s the device that lets you watch movies on line.
You get a lot of real good stuff- I was surprised.
I was also surprised to see all the documentaries about religion and Christianity.
The ones from Netflix looked interesting- so I watched a couple.
All of the ones I saw were done from a skeptic’s point of view.
Now- as someone who writes on apologetics [the defense of the faith] I am familiar with these arguments against the faith.
But- if you are not familiar- these doc’s will shake your faith- for sure.
They are done from the perspective that Christianity basically copied the Greek myths of God and religion- they focus on the ‘similarities’ between Christianity and Greek [and other cultures] religions.
Okay- what was wrong- or deceptive?
First- this entire school of thought was popularized in the 19th century- from the Christian universities in Germany.
Yes- some good men- well meaning men [others not so good! Freud- etc] believed that in order for the faith to survive in this ‘brave new world’ [modernity- and the whole humanistic advance of man since the enlightenment].
That they had to re-fashion the faith and sort of bring it up to date with the times.
Men like Rudolph Bultman introduced the idea of ‘de mythologizing’ the bible.
So- these guys rejected all the supernatural elements of the bible- no more miracles- angels- demons- or resurrection!
Many people embraced this ‘new’ bold approach to the faith- and basically became theological liberals.
One of the reasons some of these men went down this road were covered in the above documentaries.
Okay- as I watched a couple of them- they had similar themes- and were also wrong in the same way.
They compared about 25 other religious myths- from other cultures- and they said these other religious myths all had a savior- a son of god- who had 12 disciples.
They said this Lamb of God died- was buried- and on the 3rd day rose again.
They said he did miracles- was born of a virgin- was called Lord and savior.
And they made it sound like this ‘story’- in complete form- was repeated many times before the Christians ‘picked it up’.
Wow- double wow.
Why are these documentaries dangerous?
First- I actually have read/studied in this field.
The similarities that they described in the doc’s were way overdone- they simply are not true.
That’s the first problem.
But- they did mix in some truth- with the false stuff.
Both of the documentaries I saw [it seems like there is one person- producer- behind the 2 I saw] did give an actual quote from a 2nd century Christian leader- Justin Martyr.
The quote is indeed real- Justin is known as one of the first Apologists of the church.
He defended the faith during a time when many enemies of the faith slandered the religion.
In one defense [out of many] he said that those who reject Christianity because we believe that a Divine son rose from the dead- that others also held the same type of belief in the pagan world.
He was referring to the god Jupiter and the stories that surround those who believed in him.
You also do find this same type of thing in the myth of Hercules.
Okay- so the skeptic was right then?
In the documentary- the skeptic actually gives the quote from Justin- and Justin says that just because these similarities did exist in other religions- before Christ- that this in no way means the Christian faith is false.
Justin said it was possible for satan to have ‘imitated’ what was really going to happen.
The skeptic mocked this argument from Justin- and went on to challenge the faith.
A few things.
First- it is possible that Justin was right.
This whole line of attack is not new [unless you never heard of it before- which is why I’m kinda surprised that Netflix has them in their lineup].
It goes all the way back to the writings of Gilgamesh.
These are writings that also have similarities to the things we find in the bible- yet they are not coming from the Christian perspective.
They contain a story about a flood [like the one in Genesis].
So- over time- skeptics have said ‘see- the bible must have copied these flood stories- because we find them in other cultures’.
I actually covered this before.
Let me give you the short version.
We- as Christians- do indeed believe the story of Noah [the flood].
Some debate whether it was a global event or local- I don’t want to get into that now.
But- if there was a huge event- say like a 911 plane attack on the world trade center.
Would you not expect to find that event- recorded in more than one culture?
Of course you would.
So the fact that other cultures have a flood event recorded too- this does not mean the Christians plagiarized the flood- no- it would be evidence that the flood really did happen.
Now- the similarities between a divine son who rose from the dead.
First- there ARE NOT 25 or so stories like this- with 12 disciples- raised on the 3rd day- and so on.
The producer of the doc was simply mislead- or outright lying.
We must remember that anything we find in Greek culture- which predated Christian ‘culture’ was also predated by Jewish culture.
That is to say that the story of Judaism comes before the Greek philosophers.
Are there any themes in the Jewish religion that speak about a Messiah who would come- die- and be the Messiah of all mankind?
So- you could argue that any similarities between Greek myth- and Christianity- are actually ‘copies’ taken from the Old Testament story.
That is- God himself gave us clues about the story of redemption- and these clues might have very well ‘seeped’ into the Greek culture- before Christ- and that’s why you might find similarities between the 2.
Okay- I could go on- but I think I made the point.
I was not mad that these documentaries were on net flix.
But I saw the danger in presenting one side like this- without giving the other view [which I just gave].
All in all- the Christian faith has more historical backing [like the many thousands of bible manuscripts that survived the early days] than any other religion or writings of any kind.
The documentaries made a couple of good points- things that were indeed true- but they had way too much mis information in them to be playing on such a huge venue.
Buyer [or watcher] beware!
1886- DIVINE LOGOS
Okay- just read Isaiah 65- one chapter left.
These past few weeks I have been going thru the last 15 or so chapters of the book.
There are lots of great themes to do- maybe I’ll take a pic of the verses I wrote down and hung up here in my study.
I also wanted to engage in a conversation on the Divine Logos.
Well yeah- maybe a little scholarly sounding- but my goal has been to ‘upgrade’ our level of teaching.
When I say ‘our’ I’m talking generally about the present day church in America- and the obsession with ‘the now’.
That is ‘what do I get out of this- monetarily?’
Yeah- that’s the rave of the day.
So- every so often I do my best to walk the other road- to give the other side of the coin.
So- a few weeks ago I was at my daughter’s house- we usually have the whole family over for the b-days and stuff.
And my kids like playing those word games.
So they bought some game- don’t remember the whole name- but part of the name had LOGOS in it.
I just quipped ‘you do know what that means’?
Now- I kid around so much- sometimes they have a hard time believing me- like ‘sure- you’re making it up’.
No- for real!
Logos means WORD.
It’s the Greek language- which the New Testament was written in- and it simply means WORD.
My 2nd oldest said ‘I should have known that’.
My oldest daughter- Bethany- just turned 27- Becky is a couple of years younger.
They both have degrees from A&M University here in Texas- top notch school for sure.
So that’s why Becky ‘should have known it’.
Anyway- this word is a favorite in the writings of the apostle John.
In both the gospel and his 3 little letters [1st, 2nd and 3rd John] he uses this term to describe Jesus.
‘In the beginning was THE WORD and the word was with God…’
That’s the Greek word- Logos.
It should be noted that the early Greek philosophers had a concept much like this.
All the way back to the time of Plato- Socrates and Aristotle [around 500 years before Christ] the Greeks were speaking about a universal principle- some type of ‘unifying theory’ that would be the basis of all knowledge.
They spoke about this principle as THE LOGOS.
So- some of the critics of Christianity did use this as a criticism of the church- they say ‘see- the disciples were just making stuff up- borrowing themes that were already there’.
Do they have a point?
A point- maybe- but that’s all.
In the letters of John we also read him refuting a cult of the day- called Gnosticism [Gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge. They believed that they had secret knowledge that the others did not have. A modern twist on this is sometimes referred to as Revelation Knowledge- it’s a form of this ‘special knowledge’ idea that existed in the early days of the church.]
An off shoot of this group were called the Docetists.
These guys were pseudo Christians- they held to some form of Christian belief- but denied the true faith of the church.
They taught that Jesus was ‘a phantom spirit’ that is- they denied what we refer to as the incarnation.
That God became man in the person of Christ.
John was one of the youngest disciples- and he also outlived the others.
His writings are probably the oldest in the N.T. [Revelation]
So- he was around long enough to refute the growing philosophical challenges to the church.
So- putting all this together- when John said Jesus was the Divine Logos- he was not ‘stealing’ that idea from the earlier Greek philosophers who were indeed looking for a Logos principle.
No- he was saying ‘look- we- the followers of Christ- have found the thing you were looking for all the time- he is the Wisdom- the Logos of God’.
Okay- I haven’t read John in a long time- nor have I ever studied Greek.
But- I do have a Greek lexicon [a book that gives you the Greek word before it was translated into English].
And back ‘in the day’ when we were young believers- seeking to learn the faith- these were the basic tools of the trade.
But today- well- the tools are motivation- success stuff.
Learning how to invest- make a buck [or 2] - how to ‘create your world’.
Yeah- we really don’t have time for all that silly stuff like the Logos.
After all- it’s all Greek to me.
Yeah- I know.
1880- ZIGGY STARDUST
I’ve been catching some of the classic rock concerts on VHF 1- you know- the stuff I [we] saw back in the day.
I must admit- I have been an amateur ‘singer’ for many years.
I used to belt them out at the fire house on a regular basis- you know- sweeping the stalls- or doing a daily routine thing.
Okay- no lie- I did get some real compliments over my ‘career’.
One of the Captains asked one morning ‘were you playing the radio in there’.
I told him no- laughing- he did not believe I was singing.
My captain [Lopez] said for years that I should go on the ‘Americas got talent’ type shows.
So- after a while the guys would give a request or 2- and I tried my best.
I remember Sam- a younger guy- one day I sang Lola [the Kinks].
Sam knew the song as a remake- I guess some new group re-did it.
So- I sang the words- which Sam said he never really knew.
I told Sam ‘you do know who Lola is’.
He did not.
‘She walks like a woman and talks like a man’
‘When she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine’
‘I never ever kissed a woman before’ [nor this night!]
Yeah- you’re talking Penn State football locker rooms for the years that Sandusky was there.
So- one day I drove the girls to school- I tell them ‘you guys want breakfast- then you have to bear thru another one of dads songs- without laughing’.
They were up for it.
So- I picked one from my catalog [in my head!]
And I was off.
They managed to not laugh- or smile- that was the deal.
At the end- my daughter- per instructions of the bet- said ‘wow dad- that was really good’.
Still- no laugh.
I responded- with a dead pan serious face ‘are you serious.’
She lost the bet right there.
So- I caught the re-run of a David Bowie concert tour.
To be honest- I never really liked the guy- Changes was an all right song- but not much else.
But the stardust character that he sang the tour as [he was this androgynous type persona for the tour] reminded me of the famed Physicist – Neil Tyson.
Tyson heads up the Hayden planetarium in N.Y.
My dad took me there a bunch of times as a kid- I loved it.
Tyson has been making the rounds recently- talking about the Higgs Boson thing.
He is a nice guy- and he is trying to ‘popularize’ physics for the average guy- a noble cause.
But he- like a long line of others- stumbles very badly when he wades into the field of Apologetics/Logic.
Recently I saw a clip- he gave a very enthusiastic account of how the stars ‘made us’.
He said that we now know that the basic elements of the stars are in us.
And he then reached the unfounded conclusion that ‘we came from stars’.
Okay- a brief review.
This type of argument- which is not new- says if you find common elements in 2 different things- then one must have come from the other.
Why would this be false- at least in the star debate?
Because you cannot get intelligence- information- consciousness- from a non living thing.
As wonderful as the study of the stars can be- yet- to give the stars ‘Ontological status’ [meaning- you give a non living thing the status that only a living thing has] is wrong.
Tyson gives us no mechanism of how the stars actually created us.
I mean you can’t even appeal to biological evolution- because at least it uses living things.
No- the stars have no life.
Then how would you [I] explain the fact that stars have the same base elements that humans have?
Easy- there was one creator- a ‘first cause’ if you will- and according to the biblical argument- he made man from the base element- dirt.
So- in the Christian view- you have both how the same elements are in various things- and you have a ‘mechanism’ that explains how intelligence- consciousness- and life arrived.
They came from an infinite being- who has life in himself.
In the end- this is really the only logical explanation for the creation.
Remember- you can’t get intelligence from non intelligence.
It would be like finding a C.D. in a field- you popped it into a computer and you found information on it.
Then- you broke down [in a lab] the basic elements of the makeup of the C.D. - the actual hardware- not the info on it.
And said ‘aha- I have found the source of the info on the device’.
And you proceeded to show me the ingredients that make up the disk itself.
I would respond ‘all you have done is shown me the common elements that make up the disk- you have in no way proven that these base elements are responsible for the info on the disk’.
That’s the mistake that Tyson makes- he assumes that the common elements we find both in the stars and in humans- is proof that ‘we came from the stars’.
He’s wrong- very wrong.
About as wrong as me thinking I can make it on America’s got talent.
1869- THE GOD PARTICLE [and Mayan flag day]
Hope you ‘all’ had a good 4th of July.
I actually flew the flag for the 2nd time in so many months.
For years I never had a house flag- I hung them up daily at the fire dept for 25 years and it never dawned on me to get one.
So when I woke up on Memorial Day and saw my neighbor’s flag flying high- yea- it made me feel like a commie.
So I went and bought a flag.
I asked my wife- ‘where did you put the flag’ ‘it’s in the closet’.
I get the flag- it’s around 7 or so- and I walk back into the room ‘let’s go hang the flag’.
My wife says ‘what do you mean- you need 2 people to hang it’?
But I want you to stand next to me and recite the pledge.
I thought it was funny- she didn’t seem to think so.
Yeah- I’m one of those types that get the most use out of a purchase as possible.
I’ll probably be flying it on that Mayan calendar day- I think it’s coming up pretty soon?
So- as I debated about what we should discuss today- I picked up the paper [yesterday morning] and the front page headline read ‘JUSTICE DEPT SUES CITY’.
I mentioned this the other day- about the fire dept not hiring enough women [they say].
I read about half of the article- I read the stats- we actually hired more women than other comparable cities.
I really did not want to do another whole post on the thing- but it was sad to see that as a front page headline- I don’t think we have ever been sued by our own govt. before.
[in the post the other day- I think I used the word threat- maybe not- but now I know they did sue].
I have written about our attorney general before- Eric Holder- this guy has politicized the justice dept to no end.
I could give you example after example- even his past dealings are very shady- the Mark Rich pardon- a pardon he recommended when he worked in the Clinton days.
By all accounts- Clinton pardoned a crook because he had connections- Holder used his influence to get the dirty deed done.
Pure- 100% Chicago politics- corrupt to the core.
Okay- instead- let’s do the other big news story- the so called God Particle.
Yeah- I heard/read a bunch of stories on the so called breakthrough discovery.
Now- I am not ‘anti science’.
I am not a person who believes the earth is only 6 thousand years old- or that kids rode on the backs of dinosaurs.
But- in the historic setting of apologetics- and the role that science has played in the debate- I must say there are lots of misconceptions floating around in the air.
Okay- a brief history of the scientific method and how it came to be.
The past year or so I covered lots of posts on philosophy and physics and world history in general.
We covered how during the middle of the last millennium [500years ago] the world began a break thru in many areas- and we often refer to this as the modern era.
Man- science- thought- all of the fields we see as part of the modern era- they began at around this point.
Science/philosophy and religion all played a big role in the debate.
One of the big boys was a man named David Hume- he was a thinker who questioned what we talked about the other day- the law of cause and effect.
This law simply says that every effect has a cause.
Hume challenged the popular idea that we can know causes.
He said we think we can know the cause of something- but in reality we can’t be sure.
The example Hume gave was the Pool table.
He said we see a person hit the q ball- the ball hits another ball and it goes into the pocket.
Hume said it might look like this a string of cause and effects- but we don’t know for sure.
Maybe there are other reasons why the balls are reacting like this.
Another famous example is the Rooster crowing- the guy couldn’t sleep in because the sun kept shinning in his window- so every morning right before the sun rose he heard the darn rooster crow.
So he shot the rooster.
Just because one act precedes another- this does not mean that is the cause.
Okay- we got it Hume.
But some began to doubt all possible knowledge- they said you can’t make any judgments at all- because we don’t know for sure what the real cause is.
Okay- this led another great thinker- Kant- to challenge Hume [the famous quote from Kant was ‘he woke up out of his dogmatic slumber’] and Kant said even though we can’t be 100 % sure- yet for any possibility for science to function- we do need to be able to have some type of way we can settle on knowledge- science does need to be able to say ‘okay- we have looked at this long enough- we think this is what’s causing this’.
Okay- this whole debate is called Epistemology- how we know stuff.
Now- the God particle.
As I listened to the various reports the last 2 days- I could tell right off the bat that there was some funny stuff going on.
The actual statements form the scientists are saying ‘well- we haven’t ACTUALLY seen the particle [also called Higgs Boson] but- we have detected enough other particles- so we think the Boson is more than likely there too’ or ‘it’s like looking in the distance- and you think you see someone- but maybe you’re looking at his twin instead’.
Okay- what kind of argument is this?
This is what we call a Metaphysical argument.
It’s an argument that is made- not because you actually detected the thing- but you have come to a conclusion based on the Scientific Method of Induction/Deduction.
You looked at- observed- and tested various things- and you now say ‘well- it must be there- because look at all the other stuff’. [layman’s terms].
Okay- is there anything wrong with this.
But- here’s the catch- many in the modern field of physics refute the argument for the existence of God because in the end it is a metaphysical one.
That is- the materialist scientist [one who says we only deal in facts that we can actually see\detect] uses metaphysical arguments all the time- he just does not realize he is doing this.
Remember the other day- I posted about the many contradictions good men make when mixing science with apologetics and the laws of argumentation [or logic].
They often do not realize they are contradicting themselves- or making out right nonsense statements- because they are scientists- not logicians.
So what we have in the Higgs Boson case- in the Dark Matter- Dark energy case- in the entire Multi Verse theory [many universes].
In all these theories- which now make up the majority of modern physics- they are all the same type of argument that the materialist scientist says are not good arguments- at least when it comes to the argument for the existence of God.
In a nutshell- if we agree to accept that a certain particle must exist- not because we have actually detected it- but because ‘well- it must be there- because if not- then how do we explain everything else’?
If these arguments are being used in all of the above scenarios- and trust me- they are.
Then we can’t exclude the Theist from the table- we can’t say ‘no- you silly Christian- you deal in things we DON’T SEE- we deal in things we do see.’
Actually- you don’t.
All of the above theories are conclusions based on how the other things around them respond.
The reason many think Dark Matter exists- is not because we have found it- we haven’t.
But because in order for the standard model- well- to stand- then Dark Matter simply ‘must be’.
Okay- this is the same type of argument the Theist [one who believes in God] uses.
If you want to exclude the believer from the table- on the grounds that he appeals to a ‘non detectable’ being.
Then we must ditch all of the above.
And it seems- Higgs Boson too.
NOTE- all scientists are not materialists- many are believers- and even many non believers are not materialists. If you are a pure materialist scientist- one who says we cannot accept any other non material arguments [things we don’t actually see/detect] then you also would not be able to accept any of the major theories of physics today- that is if you were consistent in your thinking.
Also why did the researchers at CERN release this as some great new finding?
The ‘discovery’ was made at the new 10 billion dollar Hadron Collider.
This is the world’s largest Atom smasher.
In order for the Europeans to justify the cost- they had to convince people that this was the best chance to actually discover this long elusive particle.
Now- Europe is in a near depression- as most of you know.
This underground ‘particle smashing tunnel’ [I think it’s right on the French Swiss border?] when first opened- had a bad day.
It leaked oil into the tunnel and it was shut down- and had to be repaired at the cost of millions of dollars.
Okay- all of these guys realize- if you do not justify the cost of this thing- in the midst of a European depression- then what are the odds that your gonna keep getting funded?
I don’t know if this was the main reason they came out with the statement now- but for them to have come out- and kinda have fudged on it- makes me wonder.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.
1868- ALIEN INVASION
Last night I was watching a talk given by the Ohio congressman- Dennis Kucinich.
Dennis is known as a big Lib- he has been the butt of jokes for years- he once saw a UFO- and that pretty much put the nail in the coffin.
But- to be fair- the guy is smart.
Now- I’m not saying I believe everything he says [accept of course about the alien ship] but during the talk he was asked a question.
And he used an example from Evolutionary Biology.
He said- in so many words ‘scientists tell us that there is this thing called Punctuated Equilibrium’ and he used this idea to make a political point.
Now- as I heard Dennis- I thought ‘geez- if I get into this in the morning [now] it will take the whole post’.
So let’s see how far we can go.
I laughed somewhat over the example.
Evolutionary Biology has made great strides- and had setbacks ever since the idea was popularized by Charles Darwin in the 19th century.
Now- Charlie was not the first person to espouse the idea.
In fact- there was another famous scientist at the time- who some believe Darwin ‘stole’ the idea from him [much like the debate with Einstein- the famous Mathematician- Max Plank- at one point took part of the original idea of Einstein and almost became the famous one].
So- what Darwin is famous for is coming up with the theory of Evolution [what we call Macro Evolution- that all species came from a common ancestor- one spontaneous living cell that popped into existence from nothing- Charlie did not teach this by the way- not fully- but the modern theory has gone there].
Okay- it would take too much space to explain all the ins and outs.
But the debate that has raged for the past 150 years has been whether or not this ever really happened.
That is- have all species actually come from a common life.
The strong evolutionist insists [or did insist] yes.
Those who questioned the theory [not just Christians or Theists- but there are many in the scientific community who have expressed real doubt- these men are not believers- but it’s virtually impossible for their voices to be heard because when you question some of the huge problems with the theory your usually tagged as a right wing nut].
So- after 150 years- the evidence that they thought would be there- is simply not there.
After many years of discovering fossils- and trying to see if there is a pattern of things actually evolving over millions of years- the evidence does not show this.
You heard me- the evidence shows something quite different.
It shows us that new species came into existence at set points in history.
That is- we might find a certain species living for so long- and Walla- seemingly overnight- a new one pops up.
There is absolutely no regular pattern of what you would call transitional species- it’s simply not there.
Okay- if this were the only Monkey Wrench [pun intended] then that wouldn’t be so bad.
But as science has advanced- we have also been trying- desperately- to get some type of species- anything- to actually become something else.
The way we [science] attempts this is thru the experimentation with fruit flies.
In the lab they have been trying to simply get a fruit fly to become another thing [they breed and reproduce fast- so that’s why they use them].
After many dollars and years spent trying this- they can’t get this to happen.
There are many more reasons I could give- but after things like this kept popping up- some in the field- leading Evolutionary scientists- Gould [MIT]- one of the daughters from the famed Leaky family- etc.- starting having real doubts.
Now- these doubts were not based on religion- but science.
The data showed that there seems to be this huge wall between species- that is it’s not as easy as Darwin first thought.
As a matter of fact- the science showed that it is virtually impossible for one thing to become another thing [as far as we can tell right now].
So- the normal thing you would do [should do] at this point is to say ‘maybe we got it wrong- maybe we need to look in another direction’.
And Walla- Punctuated Equilibrium.
Yes- as Dennis said- scientists have said that this is the idea that instead of things slowly evolving over millions/hundreds of thousands of years- they simply changed overnight.
Now- this in reality would be saying ‘the other side- those who questioned Evolution- are right’.
Because the 2 major competing theories are Evolution [things changed slowly over millions of years into new species].
Creation- things came onto the scene at once [or set times].
The Punctuated Equilibrium idea is simply a fancy way of saying the evidence points to the creationist as being right.
But instead of coming right out and saying it like that- instead the theory sounds like it is a result of Evolutionary biology.
I have heard this stated over the years- that indeed Evolution has made this new discovery possible.
Now- I’m not a total rejecter of the entire theory.
I have said in the past that there is no doubt that evolution [natural selection] does take place within the known species [called Micro Evolution].
But there is lots of evidence that seems to say Evolution does not take place on the bigger scale- species changing into another species over long periods of time.
[Darwin thought that whales changed into cows over many years- he thought that the Black aborigine tribes were proof that Evolution was true- he said these Black races were less advanced along the scale. And the famous ‘Monkey Trial’ here in the U.S. [Tenn.] made it look like the Christians were idiots. Many are not aware that the Evolutionary book that Scopes was accused of teaching Evolution from was actually a racist book that the KKK endorsed. The book [by George Hunter] had a scale of the most advanced races- and the least advanced- of course at the top were Whites- the bottom were Blacks. Yet the media made it sound like the more noble side was indeed those who backed using the book in public schools].
But the entire argument shows you how people’s bias affects the end result.
In reality- for anyone to say that Evolutionary science has been responsible for the great breakthrough- known as Punctuated Equilibrium- well it’s ridiculous.
Because Punctuated Equilibrium is simply saying that those who reject the theory that species change into new species over long periods of time- they are right.
So what you see is a manipulation of the argument- to make it look like the ‘losing side’ is actually responsible for this discovery.
But in reality the other side was right all along.
See- I knew this would take the whole post- thank Kucinich for it.
O- by the way- he does have a backup plan.
He can always say the aliens did it.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.
1860- POLITICS OR RELIGION?
I wasn’t sure how to close up this week- I know how much you guys like it when I do politics! [note- every now and then I drop a joke or 2 in- I realized once that everybody does not know when it’s a joke- but if you have to say each time ‘here I kid’ it kinda ruins the thing].
I did go to the mission yesterday- and Dirk- my homeless friend that I gave a lecture to on the ‘proofs for the existence of God’ [he was kind of going off the other day on how everyone believes what they hear- that there is no real way to know who is right- so I covered the history of apologetics and the proofs for the existence of God- I kinda blasted the guys for about 15 minutes- and wasn’t sure they were following].
So when I see Dirk- the first thing he shows me is this book on Bertrand Russell- the famous British philosopher- I wrote about him when I was doing the study on philosophy.
Dirk was kind of repentant- he must of took my ‘speech’ to heart- and he told me he was going to put more of an effort into researching stuff.
Now- it was a surprise to see my homeless buddy running around with a Russell book- but I got the hint that he did get something from my talk and wanted me to know he was trying.
By the way- being he showed me the book- I encouraged him to read it- but had to let Dirk know that Russell was a very influential 20th century British philosopher- he was famous because he was a public protestor against the use of nuclear weapons.
But in the field of thought he became an Agnostic.
He was raised as a believer- but at a young age he read a book from another famous thinker- John Stuart Mill.
Mill wrote about what we have been discussing these last few days- the law of Cause and Effect- and how things came into being.
Mill said ‘if everything has to have a cause- then why not God? Who caused God?’
Now- Mill wasn’t the first thinker to pose the question- but Russell became influenced by this idea and espoused it for the rest of his life.
Though both of these men were smart- they stumbled over this misconception.
The law of Cause and Effect [also referred to as causality] does not say EVERYTHING has a cause.
It states that all EFFECTS have a cause.
In essence- it’s within the realm of logic to espouse an infinite- causeless being.
Now- some might say this is ‘illogical’ but using the laws of logic [like we covered the last few days].
In the end- the only logical explanation for all things is an infinite being.
Anyway- don’t want to re hash the whole thing again- just thought it interesting that Dirk was reading Russell’s book.
Even though there are a lot of news events that could be covered today- lets finish with a few ‘religious’ things.
I have a verse here [about 200!] hanging on my wall- it’s from Isaiah [I think? I write them down and hang them up- but I don’t write the reference].
It says ‘do these things- and when others read about them- this will be a witness to them’.
There are others along this line that I have come across these last few years.
I started working with the homeless in 1992- with guys that were on drugs- ex-cons- before that.
I never told any of these stories until a few years back.
I started the blog in 2006- Facebook a couple of years later.
I felt that it was part of the ‘next step’- that is doing ministry- that the Lord wanted me to get into.
So- even though I did not even have email until 2006- or even get online until that time- I did my best to put together the blog [amateurish as it is] and start the process.
Now- over the years- as a student of religion, philosophy, ecclesiology [church]- I have written a lot about what it means to ‘do church’ or ‘be church’.
In Christian circles this has been hotly debated in recent years.
Many in the House Church movement have written- and debated with those who are more into the Traditional type churches.
There are many Protestants who have all types of ways they see ‘church’.
In its most basic form- the best definition that I have been able to come up with- is Church is a community.
It’s a worldwide community of those who confess Christ [the universal church].
And it’s a local community of those who follow him.
If you read the gospels- Jesus and his disciples are a good picture of the church.
Now- many will say ‘No John- the church was not formed until Acts chapter 2’.
Okay- I hear that.
I see the whole thing.
But- as community- it’s a mistake- in my view- to dismiss the gospels as ‘pre church’.
I don’t want to get into a theological debate- because I’m not even sure how many are following right now.
But- the point is- if we actually read the things that Jesus told us to do [sounds simple enough].
We would end up doing a lot of the things that most of us call ‘prison ministry’ or ‘street ministry’ or ‘outreach ministry’.
In actuality- these things are a main function of being a community.
So- over the years- because many of us associate church with the meeting [or the building]. We have a tendency to shift the focus from community- to the corporate entity.
Years ago I filed the corporation papers for our ‘church’.
Instead of paying a lawyer- I got a self help book- ‘how to incorporate your church’ and filed.
It was no big deal.
But I realized how we confuse the actual corporate laws of a state- they have ways they recognize what they call ‘a local church’.
And what the bible actually teaches.
In the bible- the church is a community of people- much like Jesus and the disciples going thru the towns- preaching- healing- helping others.
Yet- much of the focus of modern ‘church’ is the corporation ‘how much do we need this month? How many members do we need each month to tithe- and cover the vision of the church’.
Much of the focus- and effort- is spent on raising money for the corporation.
People are ‘challenged’ to sacrifice for Gods work- but the challenge is often seen thru the lens of ‘give till it hurts’.
Look- I’m not against giving- I give lots of money away.
But when you have the majority of church goers- who mean well- when they begin seeing their sacrifice mainly thru a paradigm of giving more money to a corporation- then this blinds them to the majority of teaching in the New Testament that calls us into the world- in real ways- to be the ‘actors’ [ones who act- function- not just give money so others can act/function on our behalf].
That is- the primary responsibility of the believer is not simply to go to church on Sunday [though this is a good thing].
Or to tithe to the ‘church’.
But to be active in helping one another- to be giving our lives away for other people.
This is the heart of the whole New Testament.
So- my purpose in telling these stories the last few years was simply to show one example [out of many- there are many Christians who do see the stuff I just showed you] So these things could be ‘the wisdom’ that the example of people seeing what it means to ‘be church’ might lead others to a ‘more better way’ [Hebrews.]
So- I’ll end the week with the example of my homeless buddy reading the writings of a 20th century British philosopher.
The politics will have to wait- yeah- I know your sad.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.
1859- NOT A CHANCE
Went Down to the mission yesterday- saw the guys.
Dirk has his van running good- put the new radiator in [a few posts ago].
Gave Henry a ride back to the boat dock where he works- there were these beautiful Pelicans all lined up along the dock- never saw so many in a row like that.
On my way back to the house I saw a few cars in front of me make a detour- I realized there was a cop car with his flashing lights parked in the local speed trap.
Of course they’ll stop you for anything- I had gotten a ticket for driving without my license in the same spot a while back.
My inspection sticker has been expired since around May- of last year.
Yeah- I know.
I took it to the inspection guy a couple of month’s back- it failed for the tires.
So- as I saw the cop- I did a detour too- and went to another shop [yeah- I know].
I figured ‘Lord- I just helped the guys out- maybe I can get a break’.
So as I sat in the waiting room- doing one of those silent prayers ‘Lord- blind his eyes to the tires’.
You say ‘John- I thought you weren’t one of those positive confession type guys’.
I’m not- but when you’re in a bind you do what you have to.
The kid comes back ‘sir- your tire failed- your brake light is out- and you have a hole in the catalytic convertor’.
The plan didn’t work out too well.
Okay- let me finish a few more comments on proofs for the existence of God.
Yesterday I got into it a little with Dirk- and the other week I mentioned my friend Mike.
I have known Mike for a long time [the homeless artist] and I never knew he was really into the science shows and all.
As we talked Mike told me how over the years he has spoken with Christians/preachers and he has said ‘why do you think God created everything- Fungus and bacteria seem to produce on their own- maybe the cause for all things is that’.
Now- this was a good question- Mike told me that the only response he ever got was ‘the bible says God made everything’.
Okay- I got the point.
I told Mike that what he has observed over the years- the shows he has seen- that these things are good- they are true- science and God do not contradict.
I simply explained to Mike that fungus is part of the material world- and science teaches us that the material world did not always exist.
Therefore- if fungus did not always exist- it could not be the ‘creator’ of everything else.
Mike never heard this simple truth.
He actually thought about it- kind of in a way- a look on his face- like ‘geez- I just lost the last thing I clung to’ type expression.
He thought it through- understood what I said [I went a little more in depth] and then responded ‘well- maybe some other non physical being did it- instead of God’.
I simply gave him the argument I posted around 2 posts ago.
Okay- what was Mike seeing in the fungus?
He saw what we call Secondary causes.
That is there are many things in the natural world that do indeed re produce on their own.
Things grow and develop.
God made the creation to be self sustaining in a way.
Yet- many good people have heard ‘bad’ arguments- things that are false on its face- and don’t really know it.
The most popular ‘misstatement’ today is ‘everything was made by CHANCE’.
Now- I’m not a physicist- but this statement- on its face- is not true.
Look carefully- chance is NOT A THING.
Okay- chance is NO THING.
Chance is NOTHING.
When people make this statement they do not realize what they are actually saying.
This statement says ‘chance is the actual cause of creation’.
They are giving what we call Ontological status to the word Chance.
They are treating it as in if chance was a living thing- a real thing- not simply a word that describes the odds of something.
Okay- the other misconception is ‘Given enough time- anything can happen’.
Is this true?
If you took a room- were able to seal it- nothing gets in- nothing gets out.
And you have nothing in the room.
How many years would it take for you to open the door- and find a functioning world?
People- planets- stars- parades- horses- stores- etc.
I mean- is it possible- over a long period of time- for this to happen?
No- this is simply not possible- not scientifically possible.
But if you knew there were some being who had control over the room- who did have access to it- and had the power to create.
Well then it would be possible for the room to contain things.
When it comes down to it- there are really only 2 choices.
Either everything popped into existence from nothing [this is impossible].
Or something caused everything to be here [the Christian view].
When people realize this- that this debate is not about ‘well- you believe in faith and the bible and fairy tales- and I believe in fact’.
Actually no you don’t [you being the atheist- unbeliever].
No- in this debate there really is only one rational conclusion- that someone is responsible for ‘everything in the room’.
The other explanation ‘everything in the room came from chance- given enough time’ is not an option- at least not a logical one.
1856- FOR THE BIRDS
Late happy father’s day to all you dads out there.
Yesterday I got up early and went to Wal Mart- I wanted to get presents for my girls and do a kind of raffle at my oldest daughter’s house [Bethany].
I had wanted to meet at the beach- but I realized that plan wasn’t going to work so we ended up at her house.
I bought some nice stuff for the kids- and had a home bingo game I bought a while back [my wife plays with her sister- so I got them a cheap home version] and I used the thing that turns/mixes the bingo balls in the cage- and stuck the names of my kids on the balls.
It was silly- but they liked the stuff.
So- after I bought the gifts I took a ride to the beach [about 2 miles from where I live] and jumped in the gulf- yeah- it was dad’s day- so I swam.
O- I forgot- while driving to Wal Mart we had one of those quirky storms- and I [and everyone else] spotted a Funnel Cloud over the bay.
I stopped and took a few pictures- we do get them in our area- but it might be only the second time that I spotted one live [you see them on the news at least once every year or so- from the area].
As I was walking back to the truck after the swim- I heard someone yell out ‘hey John’.
Sure enough it was my buddy Tim [carpenter Tim- I wrote about him in the last few weeks].
Yeah- I have not spoken with Tim in years- like I said- sometimes I’ll run into my homeless friends once or twice every 2-4 years.
That was the case with Tim.
He was on his bike- and he told me he just got back to the area.
He rode the thing to Roswell N.M. [no joke- he’s a real bike rider!].
So we talked for about 2 hours [yeah- was running late for the father’s day gig].
Tim shared with me all the times the Lord provided for him on the bike ride.
At one point the weather got real cold- and the day before he found some long John’s [thermal underwear] at a rest stop- they were still in the bag!
He told me how this was how God provided the whole time [a few week- month type trip].
He told me he still has a camp in the Bluff [where I live- many years ago I used to visit Tim regularly in the camps- many of the homeless have camps- Tim was a regular friend- I would trek thru the brush area- maybe half a mile or so- Tim would have a nice camp set up- he’d brew me some Folgers over an open fire].
As we were talking there at the beach- he had some of the old Folgers coffee in his bag- sure enough he broke it out and made some right there.
I gave Tim some money- he really did not want to take it- then he tried to give me something of value [he had some music C.D.’s].
I told Tim ‘no buddy- the last few weeks I have been giving 20’s away- felt like I needed to catch up’. I was slacking with helping the poor- so it was the lord that allowed this chance meeting.
Tim told me he still has a camp on the property of some rich lady who lives here in town.
He does work for her- at almost no cost- so she lets him live there- outside!
He has told me about her in the past- nice lady- but a staunch atheist.
You know- the type that really lets you know they don’t believe.
He was telling me how she’s an avid bird lover- has all the stuff on her property for birds.
I gave Tim a quick Apologetics argument he can use with her- if he ever gets the chance.
I have written a lot about this over the years- but let me give you the short version.
Apologetics is the field where you argue for the existence of God- you use the proofs from science and logic and philosophy to argue your case for the existence of God.
Okay- this is the short version.
The fact that ANYTHING EXISTS- is proof that God exists.
For many thousands of years- dating back to the time of the famous philosophers- Plato, Aristotle and Socrates [5- 600 years B.C.] people who studied the universe [Cosmologists] believed that the universe [time, matter, space- all things that make up the physical world] had no beginning point.
Most [though not all] believed that the universe was eternal- even the contemporary Carl Sagan said ‘the universe is all there ever was- and all there ever will be’.
So- when Christian thinkers argued for the existence of a creator- most used the Aristotelian argument that said ‘God is the Prime Mover’.
Which meant- He started all motion.
Even the great 13the century Catholic scholar- Thomas Aquinas- used this argument.
But- in the modern era- science has found out that yes indeed- there was in fact a time when no physical matter existed.
We learned this in the 20th century- men like Einstein made great breakthroughs in the field of Physics- and they showed us that there was a time- well- when there was ‘no time’.
It would take too much to cover this here- but men like Hubbell and a few others made some great scientific observations that backed up Einstein’s theory- and vice versa.
So- when SCIENCE [not religion- not bible- not ‘God talk’] showed us that all matter had a starting point- it left the atheist in a tough spot.
If there was a time when nothing existed- then how did everything get here?
The only logical conclusion is something [or someone] who exists outside of the physical realm [called the metaphysical realm] had to have been responsible for it.
Why is this the only logical explanation?
Because things cannot come FROM NOTHING [the ancient saying ‘out of nothing- nothing comes’].
So- we are left with the dilemma that there was indeed a time of NO MATTER- and therefore something- outside of the material realm- has to be responsible for it.
This is indeed- in my view- the greatest Apologetic argument used to ‘prove’ the existence of God.
Now- some say ‘but how do we know it’s God- maybe there is some other ‘non material’ thing/being that did this’?
Look- some of the so called ‘new atheists’ have gone down this line of reasoning- and made fools of themselves.
One quick example.
One of the famous present day atheists is Richard Dawkins.
He was pinned down in an interview- and he was confronted with this dilemma.
He actually said that he thought it was possible that some ‘being’ from another time might have made all things.
He said the being- well- would have to be eternal [because if he isn’t- you have the problem- where did he come from].
He said this being had to have been very smart [you can’t get intelligence from non intelligence- this is a scientific observation].
And this being had to be very powerful- because he created all things.
In short- when Dawkins was done- he described the attributes of God down to the last detail [omniscient, omnipotent, etc.]
So- any thinking person- even an avowed atheist- realizes the problem that they face in trying to explain the existence of all things.
I told Tim it was ‘funny’ that this lady loves birds- but ‘hates’ God.
The Apostle Paul said in Romans chapter one ‘they did not want to have God in their thoughts- so God gave them up to worship the created order- Birds, etc..’
Yeah- men who rejected the obvious proof of God- creation- became worshippers of creation [they made idols of animals and birds].
I found it interesting that Tim’s bird lady was living proof that the bible is true.
I had a good time talking with Tim- it’s been a while- he asked if he should come by the house and visit in the upcoming weeks- I told him sure.
Tim is one of the homeless guys who does not like to impose on people- that’s why I hardly ever see him- he won’t even go to the free mission to eat- he avoids the whole scenario of looking like your homeless.
He works- lives- and feels like it’s his right to not have a home- without being looked down upon.
Well- I’ll end with that for now- for those who want to read more about Apologetics- I have stuff on the blog you can find- have fun.
1853- SEX- ALL TYPES
Let’s cover the ‘other’ news story of the day- the Elephant in the room.
Yes- with all the things going on in the news this week- we also have had the start of the Jerry Sandusky sex case.
Most of you know the scoop.
Sandusky is the famous coach from Penn state that worked for years with the famed Joe Paterno.
There were rumors- and ‘chance’ encounters where people saw Sandusky with young boys- and he was caught molesting kids.
As the defendants have been testifying this week- well- we heard bad stuff.
I don’t want to ‘defend’ the Sandusky’s of the world in any way- but I want to speak openly- and in a politically incorrect way about sexual orientations of all kinds.
I have a book here in my study- about 3 feet from where I’m sitting.
It’s the story of Jeffrey Dahmer’s conversion to the Lord after he was sent to prison.
I do realize that we see lots of jail house conversions- and for some people they will never believe that a Dahmer could convert.
But as I read the book- and also have watched the re play of the interview that Dahmer did with MSNBC- I do believe he was sincere.
One very interesting- and truthful part of the interview was when Dahmers dad was asked ‘why do you think this happened to your son’.
The dad- who is a Christian man- said he felt like somewhere along the line- Jeff associated- connected- the act of sex with dead things.
That he was fixated as a boy with skulls and dead things- and in time when he went thru puberty- that he also- somehow- connected the joy of collecting skulls and stuff with the act of sex.
Now- some might dismiss this as a lame excuse- and of course the crimes Jeff committed were very serious [for those not familiar- Dahmer is the famed serial killer who cannibalized his victims].
In point of fact- people- in all societies and in every age- can- and have ‘learned’ certain types of behavior- for good or ill.
The reason this debate is hard to have in our country- is because the present debate over gay rights pits one group against another.
For anyone to say ‘we actually do have proof that certain sexual behavior can indeed be learned’ seems to be bigoted and against the civil rights of people.
The purpose of this post is not to get into a long drawn out discussion over this.
I want to simply say- there are- and have been- all types of sexual associations that people have made with certain acts.
In the Sandusky case- with minors.
In the Dahmer case- with dead things.
The list does go on.
Is it possible to ‘un learn’ associations like this?
In short- yes.
Is it easy?
A few years ago I noticed that one of the major hospitals in the U.S. - famous for doing sex change operations- very quietly quit the practice.
As I listened and read about the story- I came to find out that the hospital- that was lauded for their non judgmental attitude- their willingness to break ‘the religious bigotry of our day’ that after doing the operation for years.
Admitted that the results were horrendous.
The rate of depression and suicide among most of the patients went sky high.
After years of doing the operation- the data showed that despite all the ‘political correctness’ the facts on the ground were these operations were doing more harm than good.
Yet- year after year we see people who have had the operation- on well meaning news shows being interviewed- and the interviewer- without fail- always comes across as ‘look how accepting I am of you- look how wonderful it is for us all to celebrate your freedom and to not judge’.
Yet- many of the times I get the impression that these people are under great pressure to go with this line.
That they are cast into the limelight as a great example of acceptance- and they seem at times to not want to let the interviewer- or the world- down.
But- if the data says the rate of suicide and depression sky rockets among those who have gone thru with the procedure- then if we really love these people- or our kids- or generations to come- then we would be more careful before we jump on the ‘what a great thing you did’ bandwagon.
In the whole debate about whether or not sexual orientation [or simple associations of sexual expression with particular acts] is changeable- we need to be aware of the overall effects we are having on all sorts of people.
In the Sandusky case- we do see an attraction that many men have.
There are entire organizations supporting man/minor ‘love’.
NAMBLA- North American Man Boy Love Association- being one.
Do these men make the same argument that some have made with the gay rights issue?
Many argue that that they have had this ‘orientation’ for as long as they can remember.
They argue that they share a common orientation with thousands of other men all over the world.
They argue that its’ the ‘Victorian era morality'- that religion wants to impose on people- that tells them- and society- that they are wrong.
After all- if ‘God created me this way- why should I not express it’.
Now- I- like you- do not accept these arguments- but in truth- they are basically the same type of arguments that others have made with the gay rights debate.
[Note- I do have gay friends- and I do not want to come off as saying I equate child molesters with gay people- I don’t. The point I’m making is the NAMBLA folk are saying ‘who has the right to say that Man/Boy sex is wrong’. And to be honest- if you reject the basis of natural/moral law- then they win the point.]
The point I’m making is if we- as a society- tell people that sexual orientation is never learned behavior- then we are in ways justifying the NAMBLA argument.
I was going to delve into the entire field of what we call natural/moral law.
Where does it come from?
Does society simply make up moral law?
This is a very long debate- going on since the days of Immanuel Kant [one of the great thinkers going back a few centuries].
In short- some have argued over the years that we need to rid society of moral law- that it’s these restrictions on men [particularly sexuality] that is the cause of society’s ills.
The famous thinker Freud [and Nietzsche] advocated this.
But after hundreds of years of debate- there are no examples of any successful society that has managed to develop any type of functioning ethic- apart from what we call the Judeo/Christian ethic.
I don’t mean to come off as judgmental- nor to offend any group of people- but if we are telling entire generations of people ‘you are a slave to your sexual orientation’.
If we are saying to people ‘you can never change’ or overcome your sexual associations.
Then we might be biting off more than we can chew.
If it simply makes us [the interviewer] feel better about ourselves when we say ‘see- you have done such a great thing- if only these religious bigots would stop judging you’.
But in reality- the data show that these people suffer tremendously- for the most part- after they get the sex change.
Then maybe we need to re think what we are saying to them as a whole.
Maybe we should tell people ‘yes- associating sexual expression with a particular act- or life style is a very strong thing’.
In most cases- even in cases like Sandusky- even if there are hundreds of thousands of people with the same ‘feelings’ all over the world.
Yet- if we do love people and are honest- we would tell them it is possible to change the feeling- the association- dare say ‘orientation’.
We must realize that there are many types of sexual expression- that society- and moral/natural law say is wrong.
Those in these lifestyles- often will argue that the orientation was with them for as long as they can remember.
Others argue that there are many others like them.
All this may be true- but in the end- this does not mean the association is right [NAMBLA] or can never be broken.
I’ll end with a couple of verses ‘I hate vain thoughts- but your law do I love’ ‘commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts will be established’ ‘God will keep them in perfect peace whose minds are fixated on him’.
This entire debate is long- and even many Christians disagree on some points. There are movements within the church that seek to accept the gay lifestyle as an acceptable lifestyle.
Today’s point is- if we tell people- with all types of orientations- that you can 'never change’ them- or overcome them- then we are not being honest.
If we think that the solution is ‘let's just live with no moral law’.
That has been debated- and tried- and found wanting [Freud died in a mental hospital- going insane from a sexual disease].
If we love our kids- those around us- our neighbor- then we should not encourage those among us struggling with orientations to ‘go with what you feel’.
Or to be so accepting of an operation that the data shows does not solve anything- only makes it worse.
In short- if we love people- we must be truthful with them.
Yes- try not to judge- love them even if they don’t become what you think is best.
But be honest with people.
I feel sorry when I see Chaz Bono being interviewed- time and again- everyone telling her how happy they are for her.
When I know in reality the data says something different.
The statistics show that those who go as far as ‘changing’ their sex- many of them take their own lives.
And it’s not because they feel judged- it’s because many of them can’t believe what they have done.
Sad that we hide this- sad.
[this is a short version- the long one is on my other blog]- https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/atheism-apologetics-links-added/
1850- I AM JUST A COWBOY- LONESOME ON THE TRAIL…
This week we were treated to the singing cowboy- I think from Texas?
I’ll admit- I don’t watch American idol- or any of the other shows like that.
But because the cowboy made the news- I saw the scoop.
What happened was you had this talented singer- who stuttered.
He was interesting- fit the Mel Tillis style.
When he was asked about the stutter- he said he got it when a grenade injured him in action in Afghanistan.
Of course the judges- and the audience- loved the story.
The only problem was- he made the whole thing up.
So last night I saw a news report- he seems to have been faking war injuries for years.
Though he did serve in Afghanistan- for a month- yet he seemed to have some issue with his hearing- and was sent home.
As he was being interviewed- after the story came out- he was crying- yes stuttering- and he said ‘this is my truth- this is what I have believed’.
Sort of like truth is relative- if the story ‘helps’ you out- then it’s ‘your truth’.
I remember the old days of listening to classic rock on those vinyl albums.
Yeah- you put them on the ‘turntable’ and the technology was so advanced- you even had that little lever that you pulled to make the Album replay- all on its own!
I still remember the cover to my Thin Lizzy album- I mean those guys rocked.
You might remember the hit song ‘the boys are back in town’ there was another song on the album- called ‘The Cowboy Song’.
Yeah- our stuttering cowboy knows how to sing- and tell tall tales at the same time.
There have been a few news stories of importance this past week.
One of the top ones was the leaking of all the national security info.
I was surprised to see both Dems and Repubs calling for an investigation.
Diane Feinstein- the Dem senator form Cali- she said she has never seen the level of leaks this bad in her 11 years on the Senate Intelligence committee.
What are the leaks?
These are leaks that show the president in tough situations- doing all he can to fight terror- and basically making him look like a tough guy.
The pres denies- in a Clintonian way- that he ‘authorized the leaks of classified material’.
When I first heard the denial- I thought ‘he knows about it’.
As someone who really liked Obama at the start- I have followed him these last few years- and he has done lots of ‘tricky’ stuff- that at first I brushed off- but after a while I realized- well sometimes ‘cowboys like to tell stories’.
As I listened to both sides- McCain, King- a few other Senators and congressman have showed that some of the leaks had to have come from inside the White House- from the small group of people around the pres.
They were detailed accounts of what Biden said- or what Obama did [shuffling the cards that have the names of terrorists].
They brought out the fact that much of the detail- that came out in the N.Y. Times- were things that only a few inner circle people would know about.
While it is true that many people knew about some of the other info- like the Stuxnet virus.
Yet only a few- inside the White House- would know the details of what Biden said- when there were only 5 or so people in the room.
Also- the paper that reported the leaks- said the sources were from the White House [as opposed to the FBI- or CIA].
Now- some of the leaked info is bad- we ‘leaked’ that both the U.S. and Israel were indeed responsible for the Stuxnet computer virus that ruined the nuclear centrifuges in Iran.
Last year Iran had their nuclear facilities damaged- at the time they did not know for sure that it was a virus- and they did not know- for sure- who did it.
Now they know- someone leaked it.
There are a few other things that came out- details of the Bin laden killing- stuff about the underwear bomber.
The thing that makes people question whether or not Obama [his political team] are actually behind it- is all the leaks put Obama in a good light- a terror fighting man.
He even had some movie makers who were covering the Bin laden raid- in some secret meetings- when they were discussing the aftermath of the raid.
It was reported that the Intelligence people were shocked that they sat in on the meetings.
Okay- more than likely he [his team] are behind the leaks.
It was done in a way that if it comes out that he did know about them- that he could say ‘I denied authorizing the leaks of classified materials’ and simply say when he gave the go ahead to release it- he ‘declassified’ it.
Now- like I say- I have watched/heard the pres these last 3 years- he does do this stuff- lots.
Just a few quick examples.
It came out this week that Obama was indeed a member of a political party in Chicago called ‘the new party’.
This is a left leaning group- socialist- that advocate for a European type govt.
Okay- in 2008- a news reporter- Stanley Kurtz- reported that Obama was associated with the group.
He vehemently denied it- it was all lies from some ‘racist guy who hates Blacks’.
The whole thing- you’ve heard it before.
So now we find out- that he was indeed a member.
It came out in an investigation of another group- Acorn.
It was in the minutes of the meeting where he joined- pledged allegiance to the group’s ideals- the whole 9 yards.
Are they denying it now?
What’s the big deal?
If you are running for pres  and a top candidate is known to have been a member of a socialist group- that usually would kill your chances.
So he simply lied- not a big crime- but one of many.
Obama wrote 2 books- autobiographies no less- in his early 40’s [late 30’s?]
Now- for your only 2 books- at a young age- to be about you- does say something.
In the books there were ‘cowboy stories’ if you will.
Of course- when writing the books- you think ‘who will ever go thru them with a fine tooth comb’.
But when you become pres- some will.
So- some people on the right did indeed do this- and they found lies.
The pres denied it.
Yet now- after many years of denials- a biographer who is currently doing a friendly book on the pres- well he ran into some trouble during his research.
He could not verify some of the stories that the pres told.
Just one example.
Those who critiqued the original books- the president’s critics- said he made up stories about some White girl he was dating- that the places and events that he said took place- were actually fake.
These same events were told earlier- by a man named Bill Ayers [who the pres has tried to distance himself from].
They said Obama simply made the whole thing up.
He adamantly denied it ‘how dare you say he lied- you must be a racist’.
Okay- the new biographer- David Marranis- found out that the pres did indeed make the woman up.
Then they spun the story to say ‘he made a composite woman from various women thru out his life’.
Then you had the Obama defenders- like historian Doug Brinkley- saying ‘the purpose of biographies are not to be factual’.
Wow- thanks Doug.
The point is he denied making up the story for years- now he says it was not true.
This is one of many- I don’t want to give them all.
But after seeing this happen a lot- I simply doubt the things he says.
I don’t hate him- I’m not a racist- but this has happened- a lot.
When the president had to distance himself from his former pastor Rev. Wright.
He said ‘he didn’t know the man held to these extreme views’.
That he was shocked to find out all the stuff Wright said- for 20 years.
When he threw Wright under the bus- he told the country that this was a man he did not really know [like Bill Ayers].
Yet the president had written/spoken about Wright- that he was one of [if not thee] most influential men in his life.
He said Wright baptized his kids- performed ceremonies for their family- he even titled his book ‘The Audacity of Hope’ after a line from Wright.
He attended the church for 20 years.
He had lots of wrights’ tapes and C.D.’s that he listened to.
He even said [before he threw him under the bus] that he could no more disown Wright than he could his own Father or family member.
His own testimony was that he knew Wright- loved Wright- was influenced by him- more than other man alive.
Then he said ‘I never really knew the man’.
How can this be?
I guess I’ll end with Ayres.
Bill Ayer’s was the terrorist that blew up a bomb in the 60’s, 70’s- I think a cop got killed by the bomb.
Anyway- he was a radical left wing guy- involved with a lot of the social unrest at the time.
The bomb case was thrown out of court because the govt. messed up some way in the case- Ayres has never denied his involvement.
Okay- Ayers and Obama were said to have been friends.
People that knew them knew this.
But during the campaign Obama denied knowing the man.
He sat on a board with Ayers- but said ‘people sit on the same board with other people all the time- that doesn’t mean they know them’.
He lived on the same block.
The excuse was ‘Chicago is big- you might live on the same block and not know someone’.
Then it was revealed that when the pres launched his political career- it was from Ayers house.
How did that happen?
It just happened to be some strangers house on the block that had lots of room.
I mean nobody would ever get away with doing stuff like this- not when your running for president.
Yet- till this day- Obama says he barely knows the man.
Okay- when the critics went thru Obama’s books- to find the stuff.
One story was Obama walking down to the Hudson River one day- he saw some kid and said ‘see how the mighty river flows in and out’ and he went on to give a sort of parable about life.
This same exact event is in Bill Ayres book- but it happened to him years before.
The same exact event- with the same words.
Many people have said that Ayers Ghost wrote the Obama book.
Yet the pres does not know the man.
I’m sure our singing Cowboy meant well when he said ‘this is my truth’.
But after you tell ‘your truth’ one too many times- it becomes questionable.
1841- ATHEIST SUNDAY SCHOOL?
We had an interesting news week.
I saw a clip from Penn Gillette- the comedian/atheist/magician.
Yeah- he was raging against the President.
Because Obama supports tough laws against pot smoking- and he at the same time was a pot smoker.
Now- at first I did not understand the ‘guttural’ anger.
That was until I read some of the reports about Obama’s past.
Like most people- I knew that he toked a joint or 2 in high school, and I just chalked it up to growing up in the 70’s/80’s.
Sure- we all did stupid stuff.
I thought the high heels on my shoes were cool- I still remember how proud I felt when my dad painted my room with red, white and blue stripes and stars- ‘just wait until the girls see this!’
But after I read some of the articles on Obama- I was actually surprised that he basically was the biggest ‘pot head’ at his school.
Look- it wasn’t just a toke or 2- it was the whole image of the Cheech and Chong thing.
The reports said how he coined the term 'T.A.’ Total Absorption.
He had this thing that of you wasted the ‘precious Hawaiian weed’ you were looked down on.
He also started a trend where you all light up- and sit in the car- the car fills with pot and you do not roll the windows down until all the pot is gone- consumed by the guys in the car.
There were many pictures of Obama with a joint- scenes where the car is pot filled- they showed the ‘pot van’ they all used.
Obama even coined another term ‘interception’ when they guys were passing the joint around- he would grab the joint out of turn and say ‘intercepted’.
Now- does all this mean he should not be Pres.?
Not really- but I had no idea he was the biggest pot head on the Hawaiian Island!
I mean I now see how his old buddies must be laughing about the whole thing.
They really pulled a fast one on the public.
I read this from a liberal news site- Huffington Post- as well as more conservative ones- it seems like the story is true.
There were lots of pictures and names- and even the nicknames they used- all pot head type stuff.
Now I see why Penn was mad- he ranted on his on line Sunday School program- he is a libertarian- against the drug laws- and he said if Obama was ever caught doing this stuff he would have been arrested and had a record and would have never been Pres.
But then he still supports tough pot laws- that- in his mind- are ruining the futures of many other kids.
Yeah- got it.
Facebook IPO- a mess.
Okay- to all my Facebook family- Dad [Zuckerberg] had a bad week.
As most of you know- Facebook went public this week.
For the first time- you can now buy stock in the company.
The opening price was 38 dollars a share.
I think today it’s around 31- not good.
Lots of stuff.
The Nasdaq- the tech arm that lists most internet/computer stock- messed up.
On opening day the purchasers [and sellers] were delayed for a couple of hours during trading.
If you think your buying at say 34 dollars- and it takes 2 hours to go thru- and you find out you bought at 40- not good.
So you have lawsuits being filed as I speak.
Also- it’s kind of complicated- but the way Morgan Stanley [the bank that financed the initial offering] went about offering stock- they seem to have blown the deal.
Right up until the day before the stock sale- lots of institutional investors had their bids in.
These are the big hedge fund guys and all.
Now- they expected to get so many shares for the money they put down.
When the actual sale went thru- to their surprise- they had lots more than they thought.
It spooked them.
The reason for this was Facebook and the bank decided to put more shares for sale than originally thought.
This caught the investors off guard and added to the fear.
There are a few more things that went wrong- all in all in was not a good day for Facebook.
I like Facebook- I try not to criticize it- it gives us all a free venue to ‘vent’- but this thing went bad- fast.
Some thought the company was valued too high for the projected income- that other tech companies that went public [Google] were bought and sold at a much cheaper price- compared to the amount of projected income- so there were lots of things wrong with this offering.
I was surprised to see the president loosing over 40% of the Democrat vote in some of these primaries.
Obama is running unchallenged- and yet he is losing lots of the vote- to either unknown candidates [they simply vote- other] or to guys in prison!
Yes- a guy sitting in jail here in Texas got over 40% of the vote- amazing [and this was a primary in another state!]
Alaska, Kentucky and West Va. all had a huge percentage of Dems vote against Obama.
I do think the odds of him suffering a loss- maybe a big loss- is very real.
James Carville- the ragin cagin Dem strategist has warned about this- he thinks the Dems are taking this election too lightly.
He sees the writing on the wall.
He’s asking ‘what are you all high or what’.
No Jim- it’s called total absorption.
Yesterday I went down to the local mission- I usually catch up with my homeless friends there.
I didn’t see Henry- but Michael showed up.
I met Mike around 20 years ago.
[ just a note- on my blog- under the Feb. posts of each year I have a category called ‘Homeless’.
I write about my friends in these posts.
I came to Corpus in 1992- most of the guys I met the first year or 2.
So you might read a post that says ‘I knew this guy for 20 years’. Then maybe in another post ’15 years’.
I don’t keep exact numbers- just realize I have known most of these guys since 1992]
The last time I saw Mike was around 2-3 years ago.
He was living on the other side of town- actually- more in the Mexican type area.
Now- I’m ‘at home’ in the Barrio- just like in the ‘white boy’ part of town.
Over the years I have been to the Govt. housing- visiting families- wives- kids- of my buddies that were in jail.
Lots of them were members of the church I started years ago.
So to me- race means nothing.
[Like I told my daughters friend one day ‘I’m not racist- I think Whites are only a little bit better than the other races’ Joke!]
But Mike- well- he was in the ‘bad part’ of town.
So he told me he moved back to ‘the Bluff’ and has a weekly room at the Plaza hotel.
A lot of the ‘homeless’ guys do have places- non permanent- where they stay on and off- this is Mikes thing.
He is working as a cook at the Golden Corral- a famous buffet in Corpus.
We caught up on old times.
Mike asked if I was gonna be around for a while- I told him yeah.
He walked back to the hotel- about 3 blocks- to show me his latest art work.
Mike is an A-1 artist- he has painted for years.
He even painted the signs for the apartments my wife manages [about 15 years ago].
He told me he just painted the for sale signs down the street.
The owner of Floyds Christian Restaurant is selling some land- Mike did the signs.
So he comes back with about 7 paintings- I mean beautiful stuff- all originals.
He paints ‘free style’ he doesn’t look at another picture- just from his mind.
I loved the paintings.
They were different than what I saw before.
Lots of birds- flowers.
Shore line- boats- fish.
He used to do lots of gory stuff- skulls- Mega death stuff [rock group].
I asked him if I could buy one- he does not sell them- but he told me he would let me have one for the cost of the materials.
I bought a beautiful scene- some fishermen pulling in their nets by the sea- a huge pelican on the dock- and these great sunflowers peering over them.
I gave Mike a ride back to the hotel- he did carry all these pictures by hand.
We talked- for about 4 hours.
I have found the guys- who have mental challenges- like Mike- they really benefit just from having a friend to talk to.
It was funny in a way- I must have quoted 50 individual verses that fit the exact scenario that Mike was communicating.
I really don’t ‘preach’ much at all when I’m with the brothers.
They know I’m helping them out [we often go out to eat] and they know I do ministry stuff.
But all these friendships are just that- these guys are simply friends I have made over the years.
But this day was different- I really taught Mike a lot of stuff- in a way that never really happened in the past.
He was telling me how he simply does his art on his own- most people don’t even know his talent.
When he brought the paintings to the mission- everyone was shocked that he actually painted them.
They have known Mike for years- yet they never saw his work.
So Mike told me that he likes doing his work in private- and simply enjoying the satisfaction of the paintings.
I told him that Jesus taught this ‘when you do your good works- don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing- do it in secret- and God will reward you openly’.
He said ‘yeah- that’s it!’
One painting he had sitting by the sink- he did not bring this one to the mission- was Christ on the Cross.
Mike showed me the nails in Christ’s hands.
He made them crooked on purpose- he said ‘my dad always told me I couldn’t even drive a nail in straight’.
He did this on purpose- in a way it was prophetic.
The painting of Christ- and the words that hurt Mike- the words he never forgot thru out his life.
He told me that in the past when he did artwork for various people [he has done portraits for hundreds of dollars- though he does not sell his own stuff].
That sometimes people take out their faults on the artist.
If they are dealing with problems they tend to pass them off to the artist.
As we sat there- with the painting of Christ- and the crooked nails.
I told Mike ‘this also is in the bible’
I went on to tell the story in the Old Testament of the Scapegoat.
Yeah- the Scapegoat comes from the bible.
In the Jewish religion at the time- you had the priest bring 2 goats- on one he would lay his hands- symbolically saying ‘we put the sins of the people on you’.
The one goat- the Scape goat- would then run away.
But they took the other- and sacrificed it.
I told Mike- this is what the Scapegoat is- Jesus himself bares the guilt and problems that the people bring to the table.
Mike once again said ‘yeah- that’s it’.
This went on for around 4 hours- I felt it was Gods way of communicating to my old friend- in a way that I never really was able to in the past.
He showed me an art book he bought from Barnes and Noble.
He really liked the way the author drew.
It was a teaching guide for artists.
It had quotes of all the famous painters of the past.
One from DaVinci said ‘the greatest mastery of all is the mastery of one’s self’ [paraphrase].
I told Mike ‘this too is in the bible’.
I quoted from Proverbs ‘he that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls- but he that rules his spirit is better than he that takes a city’,
Once again- it clicked.
I took pictures of the paintings with my cell phone- I told Mike if they come out good I’ll try and post them on my site so my friends can see.
I looked at them later- they did not come out too good.
The one of Christ with the crooked nails- that came out good- I have that as my Wall paper on the phone.
Maybe my daughter will help me post it on the site?
I have known Mike a long time.
His dad was in the Navy and they moved to the city years ago.
Mike is from upstate N.Y.
I have written about Mike before- he seems to have burned himself out on some type of drug over the years- you can tell he has mental problems.
But he is very talented- he has always worked- as long as I have known him.
And he has been on and off the streets for years.
I think the story about the scapegoat really made an impact.
Mike is smart- he asked me lots of stuff this day.
About creation- and science- things that other Christians have told him to reject.
I told Mike it’s okay to believe in certain scientific ‘proofs’ and also be a Christian [he knew a lot about the natural world- and I have taught lots about this over the years].
So he not only ‘saw’ a lot of things from the bible that he never saw before.
But I also was able to show him how the bible does not go against science [I actually just posted a note the other day on this].
I told Mike ‘why don’t you title the Cross painting- The Scapegoat’.
Every time you walk in the room- look at the painting and realize Christ has taken all the guilt and pressure and stuff that others have put on you- he is the Scapegoat’.
Sometimes its easier to remember a story when its connected to an image.
That’s why Jesus told parables- stories that people could ‘see’ in their minds.
Yeah- the scapegoat- with the crooked nails- yeah- how can you forget that?
1837- DID THE HILLS CLAP HANDS?
I usually end the week with a ‘week in review [news]’ type thing- but being I posted 2 political things yesterday- let’s do something spiritual.
The other week I mentioned I just went thru a course [again] on early Christianity.
The teacher- a famous scholar of the day- came from a liberal background in scholarship.
I do like the man- though I come from a different view- I believe the bible is inspired by God- and is ‘the word of God’.
Now- that statement can be expanded on- and at times I have done that.
There are Fundamentalist positions on biblical inspiration that at times leave much to be desired.
The bible has various forms of literature within it.
Poetry- Apocalyptic [Revelation, Daniel] - Symbolic- etc.
So inspiration- or reading the bible ‘literally’ simply means when you read those portions- literally- you read them as you would any other form of literature in the same class.
In Psalms [poetry type category] you read that ‘all the hills clapped their hands and sang’.
Okay- did the writer ‘literally’ mean this?
No- he was using poetry to describe the majesty of God.
But some people do think these verses should be read ‘literally’ and that in some way nature ‘clapped hands’.
The same with the book of Revelation- when we read about the Dragon- or the number of the beast- we realize these are symbols- or riddles- that we need not take ‘literally’.
Will there be an actual number- or code- that some future govt. will stamp on people’s heads or hands?
Have there been teachers/preachers who have taught this kind of thing- who have said ‘we live in a day like never before- where you can actually mark someone in the head/hand thru computer chips’.
So you have people who refuse to get social security cards- or avoid using the computer marker at the grocery store.
But these ways of looking at the bible are too simplistic- and don’t fit the actual style of the writer.
Is this the only time in history when we have the ability to mark people on their bodies?
Of course not- we read in the bible itself that in the Old Testament they actually ‘branded’ slaves- had ways to bore a hole in a person’s ear to show he belonged to an owner.
But we never think of this- we simply accept what we hear and that’s that.
The other day I was talking to a very knowledgeable man in the bible- he has read it [like me] hundreds of times over the years.
One time I mentioned to him the debate [among scholars] over the days of creation we read about in Genesis chapter 1[and 2].
I gave him various ways people interpret the text.
I said ‘you know- Genesis one says God created the Sun on day 4- but he made light on day 1’.
Now- I mentioned this as someone who does take the bible ‘literally’ but who also leaves room that the earth is much older than 6 thousand years.
To my surprise- my friend never thought of this ‘problem’.
He asked ‘what day was the sun made?’
Now- I know he has read the text a lot- but it never dawned on him that the Genesis account has this ‘problem’.
How do we solve it?
Some say ‘God made another source of light for the first 3 days’.
Okay- I don’t go for that.
But I do ‘go for’ the possibility that God is not giving us a scientific account of the creation of the world- be he is giving us a way we can grasp it- being everyone who reads the text is not a scientist.
One interesting view is God was using the 6 day  ‘form’ to categorize the order of things.
Day 1- light. Day 3- luminaries [things that give light]
Day 2- sky, water. Day 4- fish- fowl [things that fill the sky- water]
Day 3- land- vegetation. Day 5- animals, humans [things that eat the stuff]
So it seems like the first ‘3 days’ correspond to the things created on the last ‘3days’.
Okay- is this the only way to see it?
But it shows you that sometimes there is more to the story than meets the eye.
You say ‘John- I will just take it like it says- the bible says it- that settles it’.
Actually I’m fine with that- but the ‘super’ literal way does force the reader to come up with another source of light for the first 3 days- so that interpretation has its problems as well.
Just because we have symbol- poetry- prophecy- and various forms/styles of literature in the bible- this does not mean the bible is wrong- or ‘full of holes’.
No- it means when we come across these various styles we leave enough room to interpret them in the style they were written.
Okay- there’s obviously much that can be said on this subject- maybe I’ll do more over the next week or so.
Like how we got our bible- the development of the Canon [how we know which books are in- and which are not ‘in’].
There were other writings that the early church debated over.
Some of these other writings were considered out and out lies.
But not all- some of the other books were considered okay- but for various reasons they did not make it into the bible.
And a few that made it in were disputed- for various reasons.
The church did not have a ‘complete’ canon until the 4th century.
It is true that the early Christians had a basic unanimity on what was in and what was out.
But not until the 4th century was it decided for sure.
So maybe I’ll do a few posts on that.
I do come from the ‘conservative’ view on this- I do believe the bible is ‘the word of God’.
But that does not always mean you take every verse ‘literally’ in the sense that the ‘hills clapped their hands’- Got it?
1834- HOW LOW WILL IT GO?
This past week I spoke with my Liberal friend from the North- yes- a real person- not a composite!
I always try and take the middle ground in these talks- showing my friend that to be too partisan clouds the mind.
One example- this friend has bought the whole media line that Romney- because of his wealth- is unfit to serve.
That his wife does just sit on the couch all day and does nothing- and they are unable to speak about real issues because of this.
Now- this person voted for Kerry a few years back.
I told my liberal friend ‘say if you found out that Romney actually never earned his money- but he married his wife- who also never earned it- but she inherited it from a rich father’.
And say if Romney was spending all of his wife’s money on yachts- expensive vacation homes- and all the ritzy stuff that Romney has [elevators for cars].
Of course my friend would be even more mad.
Yet this is exactly what happened to John Kerry.
He simply married a woman who was heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune.
Okay- does this make Kerry a bad man?
But this shouldn’t make Romney a bad man either- yet I never heard one story about Kerry being a free loader off of his wife’s money.
The point being we get mad at the other side- even though we allow those same things to slip by if it happens on ‘our side’.
Now- the other day I posted on the economy- that I felt we still had a ‘long hard slog’ ahead.
Others had too rosy of a picture in my view.
Now- economics/finances is like anything else- you look at the data and make the best ‘guess’ possible.
When I looked at the data at the end of last year- we had some bad signs ahead.
This year- the states and local govts [cities- towns] were not going to have anywhere near the revenue that they had for the past few years.
The federal govt. has cut back much of the funding that they gave to the states.
Obama care has also put a huge burden on the states.
One of the ways it ‘covers’ the uninsured is to simply mandate that the states put millions of more people on the Medicare rolls.
This is a tremendous cost to the states- money they don’t have.
Housing prices have gone down- in some places more than 50%- and the way most states/cities pay for their local expenses [schools] is this way [property tax].
So you basically have the states and cities having to come up with more money- and in reality they have nowhere to get the money.
Now- last night I watched the governor from Cali. say that the state is in almost double the debt that they we were expecting.
California is 16 billion in debt- not 9 billion as was projected.
Governor Brown- a smart guy- he once studied to be a Jesuit priest- they are top of the line intellectuals among Catholic priests.
[just as a side note- this order rose up during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. A soldier by the name of Ignatius Loyola was wounded and recovering in the hospital.
He read about the life of Christ and dedicated himself to the Lord.
The Jesuits were the order he founded.
They evangelized all the way into Asia- an area that the Protestant missionaries avoided.
The Jesuits played a major role in the scientific revolution- as a percentage of how few Jesuits there were- they had a huge impact on the development of modern science.]
So governor Brown said his state has lived beyond it’s means for too long- they spent money they did not have- and now the chickens have come home to roost.
Brown is a liberal Democrat.
The governor of N.Y. said the same thing a few months back.
When he got elected he actually worked with the unions in the state and worked out a deal where they were going to cut the huge expenses that the retirees managed to bargain for over the years.
Cuomo- another Democrat- said it was impossible for the state to continue to pay out these lavish benefits.
After the union leaders made the deal- the rank and file rose up [like Greece] and simply elected new leaders who would fight the changes.
I heard a clip from Cuomo- he was yelling ‘we can’t keep making the rich/businesses pay- they are all leaving the state’- just like Cali.
So- with unemployment at historic highs- with state and local govts having to lay off tons of teachers and cops and firefighters.
While the cost to the states is going up- a lot [Obama care].
With all these things in the hopper- besides the ‘unknowns’ like the banks [Morgan Chase] still making risky bets.
Yes- in my view I could not see how some financial guys were talking a huge recovery- some have said they thought the DOW would be at 17,000 next year- nuts!
As I spoke to my liberal friend- they said ‘so- do you think Romney would have been able to create more jobs than Obama’!
They were mad- I said I’m really not a Romney supporter- but being I live in oil state I know from firsthand experience that Obama has cost us jobs.
When he got in office the regulations and the EPA came down hard on the state- they cost lots of jobs.
I saw a clip- video- from Obama the other day- it was from January of 2008- he said he wanted to see the cost of opening up coal powered plants go so high that any sane business person would simply choose not to do it.
Okay- if you have said these things- and have actually done them- then yes- there have been very real jobs lost because of these things.
I assume Romney would not have done this- at least not as much as Obama.
So yes- it’s quite possible that the president’s agenda has cost jobs.
I also explained to my friend that many business owners have put off hiring for 3 years now- because if Obama care passes many of them will be mandated to pay the health care- or a huge fine- for each worker.
Now- as noble as these things might be- they cost real jobs.
My liberal friend- who is a nice person- has lived off of govt. programs for a long time- has only worked a real job for a small part of life.
This person simply had no idea how the private sector really worked- they just listen to the media talking points- and the real world is so much different.
1827- SCHOOL LOANS AND HOW MANY TIMES DID THAT ROOSTER CROW?
I want to try and do both ‘politics and religion’- lets start with politics.
This story is a couple of days late [the big one this week is the anti Romney ad that the Obama campaign released- saying he would not have killed Bin Laden].
This story is last week’s fight over keeping the cost of federally funded student loans from doubling in July.
Basically in 2007 congress passed a law to keep the interest rates low- and it expires in a few months.
Now- both sides of the aisle actually agree on this- they just disagree on how to pay for it [around 6 billion in cost].
The Dems in the senate want to ‘tax the rich’ yes- they are not afraid to keep going to this pool- even though eventually this pool will run dry [not saying all the rich will become poor- but ultimately you drive the wealth from the country- people put their money where it won’t cost so much to keep!]
The Dems in the house want to tax the oil companies.
The Repubs want to pay for it by taking some money out of Obama care.
Okay- as the battle lines were drawn- the Repubs control the house- so they passed it- with about a dozen Dems on board- with the money coming from Obama care.
The President threatened to veto it- and the Dems began accusing the Repubs of waging ‘a war on women’s health’.
Boehner [speaker of the house] actually got mad and said the Dems are waging a phony fight.
Okay- as an independent- there are some points on both sides- but the ‘war on women’ is a stretch.
The fund in the health care law that the Repubs want to use- is a fund for preventative care- less than 1 % of this fund is targeted for women’s health.
The President and the Dems were the first ones to tap into this fund- as sort of a slush fund- when they needed the money for- of all things- a tax cut!
Yes- in the recent fight over extending the payroll tax cut [Social Security] the Dems came up with the idea to tap into this same preventive fund- and they used the money [billions] to give people a tax cut.
Now- when they did it- it was not a ‘war on women’ it was a ‘good thing’.
When the Repubs did it- it was a war on women’s health.
So- this is gridlock- this is why our country is becoming more and more dysfunctional as the days go by.
I have said this over the past few years- if we don’t actually elect people who will deal with the real issues- the big one being the cost of Medicare- which at the current rate will consume around 50 % of all federal spending in a few years- if we don’t elect people who will do this- then all the other little ‘campaign’ talking points will mean nothing.
Okay- this past week I went thru a course by Professor Bart Ehrman.
He teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He teaches Christianity and the New Testament and has been popular the last couple of years because he had a N.Y. times best seller- Misquoting Jesus.
Whenever I study a course- I usually do a parallel teaching on the blog.
Not word for word- I usually have a background in the subject already- and if the course goes too ‘off course’ I dump it and just finish the blog study by memory.
This time I never planned on covering the course from the get go- because I knew Ehrman was what you would call a Liberal scholar.
Now- Liberal and Conservative- in the field of Theology- are not political matters.
Liberals are those who hold to the critical view of the bible that was developed in the 19th century- primarily out of the German universities- men like Rudolph Bultman were leaders in the field.
This ‘way’ of interpreting the bible- called Higher Criticism- had some good points to it- but at the end of the day they came to reject the historical accuracy of scripture- and said that the Gospels were written by unknown men who wanted to simply convey spiritual truths that Jesus taught.
Conservative teachers [like me] hold to the belief that the bible is indeed historically accurate- and the ‘Inspired Word of God’.
Okay- as I went thru the course- I honestly expected Bart to make a better case for his side.
I really learned nothing knew- I was already familiar with the critic’s points- and he made the same ones that the conservative side has already refuted.
Now- let me give you a few examples.
When I first started reading thru the bible as a new believer- I did find some of these ‘discrepancies’ myself.
I noticed that in Matthews’s gospel the story about the denial of Jesus says Peter will deny Jesus 3 times before the ‘rooster crows’.
In Marks gospel it says ‘before the rooster crows twice’.
When I first saw this- it really wasn’t that big of a deal to me- and one time I mentioned it to my Pastor- a good Baptist man who was trained in a Fundamentalist school- and to my surprise he was not aware of this.
I also noticed a few more things like this over the years- and my pastor simply was never trained in these areas.
Now- I mention this only to point out that if you get a well rounded education- it really should include some of these so called discrepancies.
Some of the Higher Criticism is helpful- some not.
But to avoid these textual problems- simply because you’re a Fundamentalist- does more harm than good- especially when your parishioners are learning the stuff on their own!
Okay- I ‘solved’ the problem of the denials by simply seeing that even though one gospel says ‘before the rooster crows’ and the other ‘twice’- that at the end of the day one writer is simply giving you more detail.
It really is not a contradiction- if Matthew said ‘before the roster crows once’ then yes- that would be a problem.
But he simply gave less detail than the other writer.
Okay- after becoming familiar with Ehrman- and knowing that he is famous in the field of liberal scholarship- I thought for sure he would come up with something better than this.
But in actuality- this was one of his main examples of why the bible is not historically accurate.
I couldn’t believe it.
Now- to be fair- there are other things like this that do happen- but they are all minor details of the story [John’s gospel seems to indicate that Jesus was crucified on a different feast day than the other writers say].
But all these minor details in no way justify rejecting the gospels as historically accurate.
Let me just hit on a few things that the higher critics have right.
They do point to the fact that the early followers of Jesus lived in an Oral culture- things were passed along by word of mouth for the most part.
The writing of books [scrolls] did take place- but it was not an easy- or cheap trade.
We live in a day of books and internet access and all sorts of ways for the printed word to be distributed- but in the early church it was not like this.
So- the gospels were probably written about 20-50 years after the death and resurrection of Christ.
Yes- this is true.
The more conservative scholars go with the earlier date [some go as early as 15 years after Christ] but no one claims that the gospels were written at the same time as Christ walking the earth.
Yes- the stories were transmitted orally [oral culture] but they were written later on.
Now- the ultra liberal scholars say ‘see- how could they have known all the facts if they were written so much later’- and Ehrman uses the example of the game ‘telephone’ [or something like that?].
Where you have one person in class tell something to the next in line- and at the end of the line you get a different account.
Ehrman says ‘see- we have no idea what/who Jesus really was’.
Okay- the main discrepancy that Bart used- was the rooster crowing.
He actually sounded mad on the C.D. [I listen while I work!] and he said ‘well- which is it [damn it!!] did the rooster crow once- or twice!’
And then he jumped to the conclusion that the gospels were really fake stories that were made up by unknown men- well meaning men- but they had no real historical truth to them.
This my friends is what I call a ‘leap of faith’.
Geez- if we did this was all other biographies- we would have no ‘factual’ histories about anyone.
I’ll end with a note to my Catholic readers.
A couple of years ago I read the Popes book- Jesus of Nazareth- I did a brief review on the blog and I really liked the book a lot.
One of the things the Pope deals with [remember- Benedict was a priest from Germany- where the whole school of higher criticism arose] in the book is this whole debate over the historical accuracy of the bible.
At one point- as he graciously- yet boldly defends the conservative view- he is talking about the liberal view that the gospels were written by these unknown men who basically made the stories up.
The Pope asks ‘and just how did these men manage to write the most popular books of all time- books that came to be revered and known and loved by generations and generations- and yet no one even knows the names of the authors?’ [I did ad lib a little here]
The bottom line is- if the gospels were written by a bunch of anonymous men who simply wanted to convey some spiritual truths about Jesus- and they managed to stay hidden for all these centuries- this theory has more holes in it than say- a rooster crowing once or twice.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
1825- PHILOSOPHY [conclusion]
Today let’s wrap up the last philosophy post for now.
Over the last 6 months or so I have posted around 25 posts- covering the pre Socratic thinkers [800 B.C.] and we made it all the way up to the 19th century.
The main philosophical thought of the 20th century was called Logical Positivism.
This idea said there were 3 stages to Western thought/culture;
First- Infancy [religious/myth]
Second- adolescence [philosophy]
Third- adult [science/empirical]
This idea said that man in the 20th century has finally advanced beyond the silly stages of religion and has now moved into a stage where the only true things are empirical in nature.
That is- for something to be true- you must be able to show it scientifically [or mathematically].
It did not take too long before the critics figured out the major flaw with this idea.
This philosophy states ‘the only truth is empirical’ this statement in itself [as well as all the books written on it] is not an empirically proven statement.
Therefore- according to its own criterion- it is false.
This particular aspect of the philosophy was called The Verification Principle [had to be proven/verified scientifically to be valid].
Pragmatism- this is the only home grown philosophy that had its roots in the U.S.
Founded by Dewey and Peirce- this thought denied objective reality and states that ‘whatever works- use it’.
Of course being ‘pragmatic’ in a practical way is fine- we do want things to work.
But at its core Pragmatism says there are no real ethics- no right or wrong- just things people do.
In the beginning of the 20th century you had the British thinker/mathematician Bertrand Russell.
Russell was a good man- raised as a Christian.
But as a young man he read a book by John Stuart Mill [19th century] that questioned one of the classic arguments for the existence of God [the argument from first cause].
Mill said ‘if everything has to have a cause- then why not God- who caused him’.
Russell accepted Mills claim- and became an influential atheist/agnostic.
The main flaw with this argument- that everything ‘has a cause’ is that it’s false.
The law of Cause and Effect [Causality] does not state that everything has a cause- it says that ‘every effect has a cause’.
That is- there is nothing in existence- an effect- that came from nothing.
Some argued that there was no initial cause- but an infinite series of ‘little’ cause and effects that go on forever.
This too is wrong- it leads to another problem called the Infinite Regress.
If there is no First cause- then logically you can never arrive at ‘Now’
There had to have been a starting point somewhere [Einstein has since proved this] and the starting point [Big Bang] could not have come from nothing.
This too is a very common belief among many well meaning people- that somehow science has taught us that all things came from nothing.
This could not be further from the truth- this is referred to as Creation Ex Nihilo- which too is scientifically false.
The only other option- beside the Infinite Regress- and the creation out of nothing- is there had to have been some type of first cause- who is not limited to the material realm.
By nature this being would have to be Metaphysical [outside the physical realm] and would have to be self existent- having no beginning.
To have a First cause- who himself is infinite- is indeed consistent with the principals of logic- and at the end of the day is the only reasonable explanation for the existence of all other things.
Okay- as we end our posts on philosophy for now- why did I cover this?
Thru out the history of the church Christians have grappled and challenged the other world views- and have done a good job at it.
The Christian perspective is not some silly religious way of life that has no real proof.
To the contrary- the church has had the upper hand in all these debates down thru the centuries.
But in today’s ‘media market’ Christianity- the proliferation of self help books [everyday day a Friday?]
The nonstop talk about becoming rich- or sending your money to ‘my ministry’ as a ‘seed faith’ to become rich.
In this environment- many outsiders see the church as an irrelevant- never ending drum beat that they can’t wait to switch to another channel.
This is not the history of the church- and the church has historically won the debate on the reality of God.
It’s just the average person does not know it.
So- for the Christian to be learned in these fields- to have a working knowledge of the opposing world views- is a good thing.
Why do so many believers avoid a field like philosophy?
The apostle Paul warned the Colossians ‘beware of the philosophies of men’.
He also wrote to his protégé Timothy ‘beware of the oppositions of science- falsely so called’.
The word for science in this text is Gnosis- the Greek work for knowledge.
In the early days of the church there was a Christian cult that rose up- called Gnosticism.
More than likely- Paul was not saying that all science- as we use the term today- is bad- but he was warning against a particular from of science- called Gnosticism.
The same with the warning on philosophy- while you could apply it to all philosophy- that is to say that we should be careful when people try to give us opposing ways of thought- yet in context it seems like the apostle is dealing with the philosophies that oppose Christian thought.
For the first 1500 years of the Christian church the study of Theology and Philosophy went hand and hand.
After the Protestant Reformation [15th century] many Protestants avoided the field- which I think was a mistake.
So- as we close up this subject for now- maybe review a few of the posts on the blog that I did these last few months- become more familiar with the apologetic arguments for the existence of God.
Christians do not have to argue- or oppose atheists- or other religions that hold a different view than we do.
But we should be able to give a defense for the faith- to explain to society around us why we believe the things we do.
At the end of the day- we really do have the winning argument.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
1816- CASA DI MI PADRE
This is the latest Will Ferrell flick to hit the big screen.
It’s in Spanish [no joke] and Ferrell speaks all his lines in Spanish.
I caught his interview on Jon Stewart- plugging the movie- and it looks funny.
I do like Ferrell- I clipped an article [so I would remember to mention it] and just about 5 minutes ago as I re-read the thing- I couldn’t stop laughing.
It shows a picture of Ferrell- all made up to look like a Mexican drug lord [I think he plays a brother of one in the movie] and he’s holding this rifle- in a real awkward way- and he looks like an idiot.
That’s what makes me laugh about the guy- he’s just funny.
The movie is a spoof of the Spanish Telenovela movies- he’s basically making fun of the genre- and at the same time trying to appeal to both Spanish and English speaking audiences.
As the week ends- there have been some surprises in the news world.
Most observers think the Health Care law has more of a chance of being struck down by the court than less of a chance.
It was not so last week- so this is a major story.
Also about 2 weeks ago I wrote some posts on the Syrian situation- if you remember both Russia and China rejected the U.S. lead effort [in the U.N.] to condemn Assad [the Syrian president] and call for his ouster.
At the time I said the U.S. needs to realize that we can’t keep calling for the ouster of leaders- even bad ones- every time a rebellion rises up.
Because the radical Islamist groups see this- and that’s why you started having various protestors calling for ‘NO FLY ZONES’.
They were reading us- and at times trying to simply manipulate us to do their bidding.
Now- after our U.N. resolution failed [because of China and Russia voting it down] Susan Rice- the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.- made a public statement- calling it ‘unconscionable’ and using language that you normally don’t see by ‘fellow negotiators’ from the U.N.
As I watched the fallout- I saw that experts at how the U.N. process works- they said Rice was incompetent- and her reaction showed her inability to handle the job.
These criticisms came from both sides- Russian and U.S.
I also said at the time that the U.S. needs to basically listen to what Russia’s objections are- and we need to move in their direction on this- and not the other way around.
Russia basically was fed up with the West coming in and backing rebel groups- unseating the leaders of the countries- and then leaving the place a mess [Libya- Egypt].
Russia [and China] saw the writing on the wall- and they called for a ceasefire on all sides- and for everyone to sit down at the table.
I thought this was the best way to go as well.
But Rice [U.S.] called for Assad to step down [which means he will get tried and executed- as various Al Qaeda groups take the country over].
So just the other day- the news headlines read ‘Russia capitulates to U.S. position’.
As I read the article- the opposite happened.
We agreed to the Russian position- not the other way around.
But every article on it- bar none- made it look like ‘we prevailed’.
That Obama and his team were the real experts- standing up for liberty- and the other side lost.
How many people knew enough to see that the articles were wrong- how many just read the headlines and thought ‘wow- what a bang up job that Susan Rice is doing at the U.N.’
This is how media bias works- sometimes I think they even believe their own stuff- even when it’s obviously wrong.
In the next week or so I’m going to try and wrap up a few more posts on Philosophy.
We started around 6 months ago- with the pre Socratic Philosophers [7-800 years B.C.] and made it all the way up to the Existentialists of the 19th century.
I hate to stop there- because we were right at the time of the rise of the Atheistic existentialists- the Nihilists- who saw no hope in existence.
These guys ‘stole’ existentialism from its founder- a Christian- Soren Kierkegaard- and developed a purposeless philosophy- a ‘man without hope’ future world.
Guys like John Paul Sartre and Camus [20th century] were writing/saying things like ‘the only question now left is the viability of suicide’.
Books with the simple title ‘Nausea’ or ‘no exit’ [a play]- describing the fate of man.
As I watch/read the current trends- it is tempting to see our future in this way.
I mean society is struggling for meaning- Arab nations are going thru tremendous times of questioning- and some observers are grasping at the solutions that the 19th century Atheists already espoused- and failed.
Men like Sam Harris [the End of Faith] blame all society’s ills on religion itself- pointing to Islamic terrorism- and making statements like ‘almost all wars are religion based’.
I mean his argument sounds good- he’s just wrong.
Out of all recorded major wars- around 1700- under 10 % are considered religious in nature.
But who really has time for facts like this?
So- over the next few weeks- as I watch the scene- maybe catch the Ferrell flick- I will keep in mind another famous line of Ferrell’s.
He was talking to Christina Applegate- in his classic film ‘Anchorman- the Legend of Ron Burgundy’.
And there sitting at some lookout- viewing the city of L.A.
And Ferrell waxes eloquent about the city- he says ‘L.A. - the city named after..’
Well- it’s kinda crass- he basically says it was named after the female part of a whale.
Christina looks at him- puzzled- and says ‘I think its name means City of Angels’.
Ferrell disagrees- he tells her ‘well- we will just have to agree to disagree’.
She says ‘no- I’m pretty sure I’m right’.
I’m glad the country is having a debate about what’s right and wrong- the Trayvon Martin case- the ethical responsibility that society has to the poor [Health care arguments].
Our role as a lead nation ‘among nations’- how to side with the protestors- in a responsible way that doesn’t leave the nations in a mess when where done.
All of these debates are ethical in nature- the questions we are asking is ‘is this right or wrong’.
And contrary to some modern thinkers- there is a right and a wrong on these issues- yes- sometimes we compromise- sometimes we ‘agree to disagree’ and sometimes it takes one side to tell the other ‘no- I think you are wrong on this’.
Do it in love- do it with boldness- ‘speaking truth to power’ but when you see the need- then do it.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
1811- ETCH A SKETCH
The top story of the day- the big- no- huge- breaking news.
What was it?
You aint gonna believe me.
Yes- the Etch a Sketch controversy!
During the day yesterday some campaign aid for Romney said when they get to the general election- they will move to the center and do like the Etch a Sketch- shake the game and clear the slate.
Okay- was this the smartest thing to say? No.
Sure- it played into the charge that Romney is a ‘change agent’ [he changes his position to suit the day].
But top news? Please.
What should be top news?
I have covered a bunch of important overlooked stories these last few weeks- there are so many I could write one a day- but let’s hit a couple for now.
The top government leader in Libya has just said- quote ‘the central govt. is incapable of protecting or governing the nation’s vital institutions since the capture and killing of Gadhaffi’.
Yes- we over through that govt. by force- and we left the country in a mess.
Egypt- this week they just acquitted 9 terrorists who belonged to Al Qaeda and were part of the Islamic Jihad movement.
They had charges against them from trying to overthrow the former regime- Mubarak- who we forced to step down.
Yes- the people we enabled to be in charge- they acquitted our so called number one enemy in the world- Al Qaeda.
So why do these important stories- stories that demand headline news coverage- why do they get put on the back burner- and instead we have room for the Etch a Sketch.
It’s because the media do not want to report stories that would have a negative effect on Obama.
John- do you really believe this?
Hillary Clinton believed it to.
During her run against Obama for the nomination- her insider political people knew that the media were purposefully covering for Obama.
It has been reported- credibly- that her people actually contacted Hannity from Fox news- and told him that they were grateful that Fox was the only network willing to cover Obama.
A book just came out by David Corn- a liberal supporter of Obama- works for Mother Jones.
In the book Corn says how Obama has told his supporters that his poll numbers are down because Fox news accuses him of being a Muslim 24/7.
I watch Fox- as well as all the news channels- I have never heard a hard news report that claimed Obama was a Muslim.
Now- the president himself has indeed made so many statements in the past- calling Islam ‘my Muslim faith’.
He has said that he studied the Koran- he has prayed the Muslim prayer at sunset- and it was- quote ‘a beautiful thing’.
He has made statements like this over and over again- nonstop- over the years.
So- you would have thought that during the campaign some media people would have simply asked ‘why did you say this- a lot’.
Not one question- instead the media began a campaign to get people to think ‘geez- why are they always accusing Obama of being Muslim’.
The news reporters would ask the opposing candidates ‘do you think he’s Muslim’.
They would ask ‘should you make so and so apologize because he thinks Obama is Muslim’.
Yet not one story on his own statements associating himself with Islam.
Many of you probably never heard the few I just quoted in this post.
Okay- am I on this anti Muslim rant- trying to associate Obama with Islam?
But the book just came out- and this is a charge he makes- that the other side are ‘24/7’ calling him a Muslim- that’s just not true- and any other candidate who made the statements he has in the past- they would have not gotten ‘a pass’.
I talked about the atheist Nietzsche in the last post.
One of the famous comments he made was- man- like the Superman- should ‘will to power’ he should live for what he deems best- and strive for the top- even if you have no real reason for your own existence. He said man should ‘build his house on Vesuvius’ [an active volcano].
As the year progresses- as the top stories of the day become a stupid Etch a Sketch comment- or how one side is so right- while the other so wrong- we need to read between the lines.
There are many serious- important stories to cover.
Innocent people being killed- leaders oppressing their people.
Children starving around the world in vast numbers.
These are all very serious issues that we need to know about- pray about- and if we can- do something about.
But no- we want the Etch a Sketch- we want the stories that have no real value- no true meaning.
Yes- we are building our house on Vesuvius- and we don’t even know it.
1810- THE CRUCIFIED ONE
Yesterday I shopped at the local grocery store- and as my habit is- I started at the vegetable/fruit section.
When I grab the little bags to put the stuff in- I usually grab a few extra- and if I don’t use them I’ll take them home and stick them in the cabinet.
So, as I’m checking out- the lady asks me ‘oh- do you want me to throw these out’. I think she knew I was gonna confiscate them for personal use.
So- as a joke- I say ‘no- that’s fine- I sell them to the homeless guys out front’ [The store is a couple of hundred yards from the homeless mission where I hang out- everyone in the area knows about the ‘homeless guys’].
As I tell her the joke- both she and the bagger- they don’t seem to think it’s funny.
They look pretty mad- to be honest.
I tell them ‘no- I’m kidding- I take them home and use them for the onions and stuff’.
Their look didn’t change one bit- they did not want me to get those damn bags!
Right now in Texas we have an ongoing war with the Obama administration. In all my years as a political observer- I have never seen someone as petty as this current president.
I have written about him denying us federal aid when we applied because of wild fires we had a few years back.
Then the recent accusation that Texas is racist because of the voter I.D. laws.
Plus- the E.P.A. rules that are shutting down parts of our power grid- this coming year Texas is going to face some blackout problems because of this.
So- this week the president cut the federal funds for the WHP program.
This program gives care to poor women.
There are over 2400 hundred providers in Texas that will lose the majority of their funding because of this.
Why would the president do this?
Texas- like a few other states- passed a law that prevents tax payer money going to clinics that provide abortions.
The federal money supplies about 90 % of the funding- the federal govt. said if you deny any funding for the Planned Parenthood clinics- then we will cut all the funding to all of the 2400 clinics.
Now- did they have to do this?
How many Planned Parenthood clinics are in this group of over 2400 providers?
If you simply listen to the media- you would think that just about all of them are- or maybe half.
Out of the over 2400 providers- Planned Parenthood makes up 44.
The president cut off funding for 2400 clinics- that do breast screenings and mammograms.
That actually treat cancer and other diseases.
He cut them all off- because Planned Parenthood would not be in the group any more.
Planned Parenthood does not treat for breast cancer- does not offer pre natal care- and does not even have mammogram machines.
Many of the 2400 clinics that the president cut off do all of these services.
So why would you cut off over 90 % of the clinics that actually do these real- needed services?
Because of the political ideology of being pro abortion.
Obama has positioned himself as being on the side of abortion and his supports want that.
So- to appease his base- he cut off 2400 poor women’s clinics in Texas- this was a choice he made- not Perry.
A poll was done the other day- they asked women ‘would you like free birth control- or have to pay for it yourself’?
Now- if you ask just about anybody ‘would you like free dental- or health insurance- or beer’ what do you think the majority of people would say?
So after they did the poll- they said ‘see- most people support the position the president takes on abortion and birth control’.
See how the media shapes the conversation? You can ask a question in a way that gets a certain answer- and Walla- they achieved the goal.
Society has a decision to make- can we as a people live without any ethical requirements.
Should ethics- making a distinction between right and wrong- should this be part of the conversation?
In our Philosophy study- as scattered as it has been- we ended right around the 18-19th centuries.
We were coming up to the Existentialists.
Existentialism is a difficult philosophy to pin down [as most are].
But the easiest short definition I have found is it’s the philosophy of Existence.
That is real life- It’s not just a matter of intellectual data- it’s what we learn and experience as passionate people- people who have real problems and issues- yet they strive for meaning.
The father of Existentialism was the 19th century thinker- Soren Kierkegaard.
Kierkegaard was a Christian- he challenged the dead church of Denmark- the state church- and he called for a more adventurous approach to the faith.
Some notable followers of this philosophy took a different approach- they were the atheistic existentialists.
One of the most famous being Frederick Nietzsche.
Nietzsche taught that men should abandon all hope of a future afterlife- that the whole field of ethics was futile ‘do what you need to do to excel- step on the other people on the way up the ladder- and that’s what life is all about’.
He called this the Superman- man coming into this new age of science and reason- and rejecting the old forms of religion and ethics- which keep man down.
Nietzsche spent the last years of his life in an insane asylum.
His sister sold tickets to the ‘audience’ who wanted to see the madman.
She exercised her ‘superwoman’ and did what would benefit her- financially- without any worry about whether it was right or wrong.
The last couple of years of his life- Nietzsche signed his letters ‘the crucified one’.
In his rejection of God- he lost his mind and took the identity of Jesus Christ- the ethical one.
As we grapple with what’s right and wrong- as states pass laws that say 'we don’t want our tax payer money supporting abortions’.
Then we are going to have to deal with the backlash- those who at the time have the power [money] to cut the states off who see ethics as a priority.
Yes- the Superman [Feds] can deny that ethics play a role in women’s health- they can say ‘no money for any of your 2400 clinics’ just because you won’t fund 44 Planned Parenthood clinics.
People can get mad- and even take polls that say ‘we want free things’ [don’t we all? My grocery bags!]
At the end of the day- right and wrong do make a difference.
Trying to live a life- a worldview [philosophy] in a passionate way- that’s a good thing- we are all real people who deal with real issues.
But when you leave God/ethics out of the picture- then you are on a crash course- you might wake up one day- having lost your mind- and signing you letters as The Crucified One.
1803- A MONKEY- A BLOGGER- AND- WELL- A ‘SLUT’.
Okay- once again we have spent a news week- with some very important stories to cover [Syria- etc] and some stupid stuff.
So what was the stupid/silly stuff?
Well- as a 70’s generation kid- sure- I liked the Monkees [Hey- Hey with the Monkees- …].
Its Saturday morning- can you just hear the song in your mind as you read the above line?
If so- then you- and me- are actual nerds.
Big deal- Yeah- I watched the thing- and even walked to school with a Beatles lunchbox- you know- the metal kind- hey- it beat having a Brady Bunch one.
Davy Jones- the lead singer- seemed to be a nice guy- he passed away- and it was sad to see him go- I prayed for his wife and kids.
Then we had the passing of the right wing blogger- Andrew Brietbart.
He was known for his bold- in your face style.
Famous for bringing down Tony Weiner- the N.Y. Dem who liked texting his genitals to unknown women on his Facebook sight.
He was also famous for posting a video of Shirley Sherrod- a Black woman who worked for the govt. - she handled loans for farmers.
This dept. has been sued in the past for discriminating against Black farmers and they settled a big lawsuit a few years back.
Anyway- Shirley gave a speech at some Lib/Dem thing- and in part of the speech she said how when White farmers came in for loans- she thought to herself ‘why should I help this white guy- it’s now his turn to get the bad end of the stick’.
Later in the speech- she said she now knows these thoughts were wrong- and she said how God rebuked her for it.
Okay- when the short clip got out- only showing the first part- there was a firestorm and Obama fired the lady.
Later we found out about the whole clip- and he offered to rehire her- she said forget it.
So- the media- all over- every day- accused Brietbart of only showing the bad part of the clip- and not the good part.
Actually- in his original post- he showed both the good and the bad.
It was Glenn Beck and a few others who only showed the bad part.
But the media- who all feed off of each other- kept going with the fake story that he only posted the bad stuff.
Till this day- they still believe it.
So just this last week Brietbart was on a progressive [liberal] show- Cenk Ugyr- Young Turks- and Cenk accused him once again of the false accusation.
For the first time on TV- Brietbart corrected the accusation and rebuked Cenk on air- Brietbart revealed the false charge that the media kept reporting- that he only showed the bad stuff.
Then a few days later I noticed he was invited on a number of more liberal news shows- to sit as a commentator on the election.
I think some of these news guys [Piers Morgan- CNN] might have double checked the story and found out that yes indeed- they all ran with the fake story- even till this day.
So- what do you know- Brietbart dies at the age of 43- and Andrea Mitchell- Shep Smith- and a few other news reporters once again repeated the charge- the false one- that he was famous for railroading Sherrod by only posting the racist part of the video- not the repentant part.
Ah- what can he do to defend himself- he’s dead- Yippee!!
And last- but not least- we had the uproar over the Rush comments about Sandra Fluke- the Georgetown University student who testified before congress about her having to pay for her own birth control- which cost a lot- damn you!
Yes- Rush made fun of the girl- and said she was ‘a slut’- and he wanted her to post her ‘extra curricula’ actives on line for all to see- because she wants the tax payer to pay for her birth control.
So the media thought this important enough to bill as a top story- right up there with the deaths of the Syrians in Homs.
They are asking all the Repub candidates to make Rush apologize- on and on.
Now- was Rush wrong?
Of course- I mean no one should be using this type of language.
But to hammer the Repubs on it- like they are responsible- heck- they don’t control the guy.
Then yesterday as I was musing on the thing- I thought ‘Tomorrow I’ll write on it- and I’ll use Bill Maher as the counter argument’.
Sure enough- as the day went on- all the shows already got to him.
Maher is the Dem supporter- who just this last week donated 1 million to Obama- he has had his show ‘politically incorrect’ [or Correct?] on HBO for years.
I really don’t like the guy- for a bunch of reasons- but he often uses real off color language when referring to Repubs.
Okay- WARNING- this part will get rough.
A few weeks ago when Tebow lost the game- Maher tweeted ‘Jesus f—ked Tebow’.
As you know- Tebow is the Christian Quarterback that is outspoken for the faith.
Sarah Palin- a book came out that said she once slept with a famous Black NBA player.
Maher made a comment- about a woman who ran for office- a politically active Repub- former Alaska Governor- who has kids- ‘she would have f—cked him too- if he was Black’.
He was referring to some White guy.
Speaking about a Repub ‘he can suck my d—k’.
Now- all these things- and more – were said on national TV.
This guy just made a 1 million dollar donation to Obama- as he made the rounds on the news shows- not one time was he- or Obama- or any other Dem asked ‘do you think you/he should apologize for these remarks’.
What if Rush spoke about Michele Obama like this?
That she would ‘f—k’ some guy if he were White.
Do you think that story would get covered?
The whole point is the media plays selective outrage- sure- all of this language is wrong- but Limbaugh does his thing- Maher his- and if you want to go down the road of making political figures responsible for what others say- then that’s a long road to walk.
This week I read Jeremiah chapter 33.
This chapter has some great promises in it- the famous verse ‘call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you know not’.
But the bulk of the chapter is God reassuring his people Israel that he will indeed keep the promise that he made to them years before.
A while back we covered the Old Testament and I said how you can almost sum up the whole O.T. by saying it’s the story of one man and his family.
That man was Abraham.
In Genesis chapters 12 and 15 we read about the promise God made to him- that if he left his home town and went on a journey to the promised land- then God would make him into a great nation- he would have kings sitting on the throne for generations to come- and they would be a great people.
Yet- at the time of Jeremiah the people were divided- they were captive- and things looked really bad.
In chapter 33 God tells them ‘do you think my promise will fail? If you can break my promise to the day and night- that day and night will happen every 24 hours- then you can break my promise to you’.
God was telling his people that even though things looked bad- yet he would fulfill his word- and bless them like he said.
One of the verses in the chapter even speaks to the divided nation accusation ‘some say these 2 nations will never be a great people’ and God rebukes that accusation.
As I look out over the terrain of our nation- and all the stuff ‘all of the above’ it does look at times hopeless- a whole week on some commentator calling a girl a slut- please!
Yet I still see some light at the end of the tunnel- congress and the President actually passed some stuff these past few weeks- stuff that seemed like was never going to get done- so yeah- maybe we can see the light right now.
But if a huge donor to the Obama campaign can get away with saying ‘Palin would have f—ked him if he were Black’ on national TV- and not one reporter asks Obama if he should ask Maher to apologize- then maybe we should dial down the rhetoric on the ‘slut comment’ a little- you think?
1802- THE HARVARD PROFESSOR
Caught an interesting show the other night- a Harvard economist [liberal] gave a lecture on economics.
Now- when I say ‘liberal’ I do not use the term in a derogatory way- no- he was the type of economist that would fit into the category of a Paul Krugman.
Krugman writes for the N.Y. Times and often [always?] gives you the Keynesian view.
So anyway this Harvard prof. made some good points.
But he blundered somewhat in his defense of Socialism/communism.
He talked about Karl Marx [the ‘founder’ of the system] and said that what happened in the Silicon Valley boom [the Dot.com businesses] was a type of Marxism.
The internet boom companies had a different view of the business structure- instead of the ‘bosses’ being over the working class stiff- you would have the actual employees run the show.
Yeah- when you watch the documentaries on Facebook [and other Companies like it] you do see an environment where all these young ‘hipsters’ are calling the shots- and they do have a sense of freedom that you don’t see in the standard business model.
But the Harvard Prof. went a step too far when he compared this to Marx.
Marx was raised in Germany- he was a Jew.
His father had to re-locate his business and join the Lutheran church in order to fit in with the people he needed to do business with.
Marx would eventually go to ‘university’ in England- and he developed his ideas in an environment where the industrial revolution took off.
He witnessed the plight of the working class man [proletariat] and how he became a victim of the factory system.
In England you did see many hopeless workers fall prey to a lifestyle that had you going to work at the factory all day- often in a dark and dingy environment.
You would come home to a gloomy existence and often drink yourself to sleep.
Marx saw the working class as victims of the Ownership class [the original 99 versus the 1%].
Marx saw that those who ran the system- and ‘owned the tools’ had the true influence in society- and according to Marx- they used two primary means of controlling the masses.
Law and Religion.
So Marx advocated for a violent overthrow of the system- thru Revolutionary means- in order to free the working class slave from the power of the few.
Now- where the Harvard Prof missed it is he compared Marx’s idea to the Dotcom business model.
Facebook and other internet businesses- they tried to empower the worker by making him part owner.
When Facebook went public this last month [Initial public offering] it was said to have made many millionaires overnight.
Because those who got in at the start [even the kid who painted the Graffiti on the walls of the building] were offered the option of cash or stock.
Those who took the stock became rich when the company went public [it actually will go into effect if a couple of more months].
So- this model empowers the working class person by making him part owner.
Okay- Marx wanted to ‘level the field’ by putting the State in charge.
He felt like if you took the power away from the private owner [capitalism] then you could even out the scales by making the state decide how much pay was fair- and the state would literally own ‘the tools’ of the system.
Most of us know by now that his system failed pretty badly [Soviet Union].
Though he meant well- trying to defend the hopeless worker- yet he created a Monster State- and the state would become the new oppressor of the people- and take away the incentive that the private ownership model gave.
So all in all- the Harvard prof had some truth to what he said- but he went a step too far.
In today’s political climate- we all have a tendency to hear one side- and if we lineup with that side- we very rarely question those who advocate the way we believe.
It’s important to hear both sides- to give credit to the ideas that are good- and then reject the ideas that are bad.
Marx had some very legitimate concerns- the founder of the Salvation Army- William Booth- began his ministry to the same class of people that Marx saw.
Marx rejected religion because he believed the ownership class used it to keep the masses under.
Any truth to this?
Many of the Black slaves were encouraged to attend church and keep singing their Black spiritual songs.
Many of the themes of these great songs did indeed encourage the suffering servant to just hold on until he/she gets to the Promised Land.
As a matter of fact- many of the themes taught that if you rebelled against the slave owner then you would forfeit your reward in the hereafter.
Marx experienced the power of religion- and the role it played in his own family in Germany- his father had to join the Lutheran church- even though he was Jewish- just so he could be in contact with the people of influence in his town.
So yes- it’s good to hear both sides- give credit when you can- and also reject what you must.
Yeah- the Harvard Prof seemed to be a good guy- he knew his stuff- just not well enough.
1777- SHIP WRECK
By now I’m sure you have all heard the audio conversation between the captain of the Italian cruise ship and the Coast guard.
As a news watcher- when I first heard the tragic story- I thought ‘geez- let me give the Italian brother a break’ you know- as an Italian myself- yeah- I want to root as much as possible for the home land.
I’m still mad that I don’t have a Churchill or FDR figure in my past history.
Sure- I’ve read the history- and for a short time as a kid I tried to convince myself that El Duce had some honorable qualities- but heck- who was I kidding.
So as the story broke- I heard Captain Schettino’s side of it. He insisted he acted heroically- that he was the last man off the ship and he struck something in the water that no one knew was there [Italian Loch Ness?]
But the audio recording told the whole thing. Yes- I sat in anticipation- hoping for the best- maybe hearing the Captain saying ‘I refuse to abandon ship- for the love of homeland and country’ heck- you never know.
But as I heard the Coast guard telling the captain ‘get back on the ship- what are you doing’.
Schettino said it was dark and they had no lights.
The guard says ‘you have people stuck on the ship- some are dying’.
Captain ‘how many are on the ship’?
Guard ‘I don’t know Schettino- you are supposed to be telling me’!
Damn it Schettino- damn it.
Okay- don’t want to make fun- yes- it’s tragic- and people have died. But obviously we need to have some better policing of these cruise ship guys- it seems as if they have gone off course before- doing a favor for a fellow crew member- and these guys messed up big time.
Are there any famous ship wreck stories in the bible? Sure- Acts chapter 27.
The apostle Paul is on his way to Rome- he is a prisoner at the time.
The ship they are on gets caught up in a storm- things look bad.
Paul prays and tells his shipmates ‘don’t worry- an angel appeared to me and assured me that we will all survive’.
They try to last the storm out by staying afloat from shore- then after a few days they try to make it for land- to beach the ship.
But some of the crew try a daring stunt- they pretend they are going to lower some anchors but instead they are lowering their little get away lifeboats [yes- they were pulling a Schettino!]
And Paul tells the Roman soldier ‘look- the angel said we will all make it- but the deal will only work if everyone stays on the ship’.
They cut the ropes to the lifeboat and head for shore.
On the way they hit a reef and the ship gets stuck and starts to break up.
They abandon ship- and swim to shore.
Okay- good story.
By the way- this chapter gives lots of historical events and places.
A few years ago an archeologist read this story form the bible and traced down the exact spot where the wreck might be- 2 thousand years later.
He found the actual anchors to the boat.
So this week hasn’t been the best for the reputation of my homeland- I mean the S and P just can’t wait to downgrade the debt- and then we have to hear old brother Schettino being rebuked by the Coast Guard ‘Schettino- okay- get on our boat- but your gonna be in big trouble’.
Yes Schettino- you sure are.
 ‘LIL’ KIM- LUTHER AND HITCHENS
Okay- we had the passing of some famous folk these last few days. Havel [former Czech President] - a great man indeed.
Then we had ‘lil’ Kim die [not the singer- the leader of North Korea. Though there was an on line rumor it was Lil Kim- yeah the fans cried- until they realized it was the crazed leader of one of the world’s most dangerous countries- you know- the hair trigger Nuke. Well when the fans found out it was him- not the singer- they relaxed]
Actually- the surreal video of the North Korean people crying in the streets- the look of shock and despair on their faces- I mean I haven’t seen the followers of any political leader act this way in a long time- not since the Perry debates.
Then old Hitchen's kicked the bucket- yeah- he was a famous atheist.
I really do not hate atheists- some are nice people- most don’t know the real case for the existence of God. But Hitchen's- well when I reviewed his book- ‘God is not great’ I did get into the many distortions and misrepresentations that he made.
He simply lied- and often. He was mean and arrogant and insulted people often- he has referred to princess Diana as a ‘land mine’ [she had a charity that worked for the abolition of these weapons] he said she was like a land mine ‘she was laid all over the country- and when you stepped on her everything blew up’.
No- many Christians and leaders have come out and done the ‘we respected him for his views’ type thing- not me- I’m not gad he died- but won’t make him sound like he was a ‘good’ man- he was not.
I read a piece form the N.Y. Times- they went into Libya and investigated the reports of the deaths of many civilians caused by NATO and the U.S. during the ‘no fly zone’ debacle.
They found evidence of many civilians that were killed. They presented the report to the new leaders of Libya- they could care less.
In Benghazi- the main city in the eastern half of Libya- they were openly flying the Al-Qaida flag. We just spent 10 years and many lives fighting in Afghanistan. Why? Because they gave territory to Al-Qaida- they gave them a place to work out of.
We fought the Taliban for 10 years over this. Yet in a few months NATO and the U.S. gave Al-Qaida their own capitol to fly their flag- I mean the terrorists must be thinking ‘if we knew these guys were this stupid- we would have never bombed the towers’.
In Tripoli- the real capitol of Libya- the various militia groups [terrorists] are all claiming they are the security/armed forces of Libya. I heard a doctor- on N.P.R. - not a right wing radio show- he said in his hospital these various militias are all trying to take charge- they walk around with guns- sometimes walk into a room and shoot a patient who they think is not on their side- and the doctors say they have no security at all.
Under Gadhaffi things ran well- like a normal society- now their country is a terrorist haven- run by these guys.
I could go on and say the same for Egypt- and tell the stories of how the military have been killing protestors in the street. All these things are being done under people that the West [we- NATO- France] have enabled by removing their former leaders.
And France this week passed a law making it a crime to deny the genocide that took place in Turkey in the early part of the last century.
Yes- the Ottoman Turks did slaughter many Armenians- Christians- at the time. And getting Turkey to officially admit this has been a problem for years. But France passing a law to make it a crime to deny it- while they just finished committing ‘crimes against humanity’ themselves- by killing all the Libyan civilians- it’s just too much.
Okay- let’s start a brief overview of some church history. Over the next few weeks I want to hit on the 16th century Protestant reformation and try and cover some of the key figures of the movement.
Martin Luther- the German reformer who had the most influence in the movement was born and raised in Germany.
As a boy his parents were peasant farmers and eventually his dad became a miner and became a very successful businessman- he would go on and eventually own 6 foundries.
He sent his son to law school- and young Luther excelled. At the age of 21 he accomplished more than many of his peers. One day on his way home from the university a thunderstorm broke out and Luther was almost struck by a bolt of lightning.
In fear he cried out to Saint Ann [the mother of Mary] and said ‘Saint Ann- if you save me I will become a monk’ [Ann was the patron Saint for miners- thus Luther was familiar with her].
He was spared and off to the monastery he went. Luther eventually became an ordained priest and even though his dad initially was upset that his son became a priest- yet he was proud of his boy later on.
Luther would eventually make a Pilgrimage to Rome- on foot [a few month walk from Germany to Rome!] and what he saw devastated him. Rome- and the Vatican- were in bad shape. Many of the priests lived in open sin- and the city that he saw as his headquarters for the faith- well it was a mess.
Luther made the famous penitent walk/crawl up the stairs of the Lateran church [this church was the most famous church before the construction of St. Peters. The actual stairs of the church are the same stairs that Christ walked up during his trial under Pontius Pilate. Yes- you hear many ‘stories’ while studying church history- things like the relics or left over pieces of the Cross- well these stories are usually fake. But the stairs of the Lateran church are indeed the same stairs that Christ walked on- the early ‘church’ builders dismantled the stairs at Pilate’s court in Jerusalem and installed them at this church building in Rome].
When Luther got to the top of the stairs- it is reported that he questioned the faith- he had a crisis of faith and thought that maybe the whole thing was a sham.
Okay- as we do a few more posts over the coming weeks- I want you guys to see that the main players of the Reformation were sincere Catholic men who had many questions about what they saw as corrupt in their own church. These men did not want to start a breakaway church- they simply wanted to reform the church they loved.
Keep in mind that Luther excelled during his legal studies- he had a keen legal mind- this will be important later on when we see the debates he has with Rome over the doctrine of Justification by faith- the letters of the apostle Paul [Romans- Galatians] use lots of legal language- and his early education will help him in these debates.
Okay- that’s it for today. Maybe do a Google search on Luther and familiarize yourself a little with the history.
The ‘readings’ for this week are 2nd Samuel 6-7 and Psalms 89. See what they have in common.
 News and Philosophy
I want to try and cover a few subjects today- let’s start with some current world news. Yesterday I read an AP story about some cops who poured gas on the tents of the protestors- they then set them on fire.
13 protestors died- 100’s were burned severely. The doctors set up outside E.R. areas to treat the wounded. The cops walked in to the areas and shot people- right there.
I read a report where one of the doctors said he was shocked- he has never seen this happen before.
‘Now John- you shouldn’t make stuff up like this- even for a point!’
I’m not making it up- this did happen the past 2 days- in Zuccotti Park? In Oakland? No- in Tahrir square- Egypt.
The people who did this- the ruling military generals- are the people we ‘put’ in charge- by demanding the ouster of Mubarak- the former ‘king’.
Let’s head directly west on this northern tip of the African continent. Libya.
On the same news page- they had a story about the capture of Seif- Gadhaffi’s most famous son. They caught him trying to cross the Libyan border into Niger. The same place Gadhaffi’s wife fled to earlier in the conflict.
His wife was about 7 months pregnant and she fled to save her unborn child. The ‘new leaders’ that have our support- they wanted her back in Libya- to stand ‘trial’ for crimes against humanity [they would have killed her!].
So the other day they caught the son. The rebel faction that caught him will not turn him over to the ‘transitional government’ in Tripoli [the capitol] because they want to try him themselves [there is absolutely no order in Libya].
Now- the son- like the dad- has been indicted on ‘crimes against humanity’ by the world Court in The Hague.
These ‘indictments’ are tools the U.S. and other NATO allies use to justify going after one bad guy [and his wife and kids] while installing other bad guys- who are often just as bad- or actually worse!
So this puppet court has the kid indicted. The puppet govt. in the capitol of Tripoli has said ‘the world court is a secondary court- we do not recognize you’!
So the actual leaders- THE ONES WE BACKED- are saying ‘screw you world court- we will try the kid ourselves’. And the faction that caught the kid is saying ‘screw you leaders in Tripoli- we will try him here- in our region’ and the U.S. [and Fahreed Zakariah- a CNN talking head] have said ‘look how wonderful Obama has handled Libya and Egypt- not like Bush’.
Wonderful? Burning protestors to death- ruling Libya like some back water Mexican drug cartel? This thing is sad- and our involvement in it is even sadder.
Okay- let’s try and transition a bit.
In the last Philosophy post I hit on the 10th-14th century development of modern thought- today I want to jump into the 16th-18th centuries. Like I said in a previous post- after the Renaissance and the Reformation and the great scientific revolution- you had the world in somewhat of a tailspin.
What I mean is for hundreds of years people trusted in the old institutions [like the Catholic Church] to tell them what was true or false- then with the development of all these modern movements people began questioning stuff.
Was it good to question things? Sure. But some challenged the very foundations of thought and knowing [called Epistemology] and went a bit too far.
Some thinkers went back to the thought of Plato [400 years BC] and said that the mind is the main source of all knowledge- these were the 17th century Rationalists.
Rationalism- as a philosophy- was an outgrowth of all the great strides that man was making in all these other areas of life. The Scientific Revolution totally challenged the age old beliefs of many in the church.
Math became a sort of new ‘god’. How so? As science invented the Microscope and Telescope- man was able for the first time to peer deeply into the heavens- and to see deeply into the microscopic world.
As the great minds [Copernicus] showed us that the Universe was different than what we thought [Heliocentric versus Geocentric] man was able to do mathematical calculations and to say that a specific planet or star [or Comet] would show up at an exact date- or spot- and Walla- it would happen [you could look thru the Telescope and sure enough the math was right- the object that was calculated to be there- was.]
These calculations were mathematical formulas- so math began to be seen as the new religion in many ways.
There are even some thinkers in the modern day that still say the only ‘real truth’ that exists is mathematical formulas. Yeah- one guy wrote an entire book on the subject- the problem? Well- his book was not written in math- but words.
Yes- even the extreme deniers of Objective truth do make mistakes.
Now- what’s wrong with rationalism? Of course being rational is okay- but the philosophy itself denied real Objective truth. Truth that corresponds to some other ‘outside’ reality.
This form of thinking [rejecting outside reality] is called Relativism/Subjectivism. While there is some truth to all the various fields of thought- yet extreme Relativism denies ‘reality’ as most of us understand the term. There was a strong resistance to the 17th century rationalists- we call this Philosophy Empiricism.
The main thinker in this field was John Locke. Locke lived most of his life in the 17th century- but his thought laid the foundation for the 18th century Empiricist.
This philosophy says that the mind does indeed play a major role in the knowledge of things- but this knowledge does not originate in the mind [Plato] but in the ‘thing’ itself [Aristotle- remember when we covered these men? Plato was an idealist- Ideas were more real than matter. Aristotle was a Realist- closer to the thought of Locke].
Locke developed a theory called the Correspondence theory- that truth that the Mind discovers corresponds to real things that actually exist apart from the mind.
Locke was a practicing doctor- and most of the other thinkers of the day had room to speculate about reality in a way that Locke could not.
He lived in a real world with real patients who had real symptoms- in a nutshell Locke had to diagnose his patients based on his findings- he could not deny that there was a real problem- he had to have his ‘feet on the ground’ [based in reality] while engaging with his head up high.
Okay- I think we’ll end with this. Maybe you can go back and read some of my previous posts on this subject- just to become a little more familiar with it.
As Christians- we are not ‘required’ to know Philosophy- or current events- or science- but it helps us engage the culture when we do educate ourselves in these areas.
Go slow in learning [not too slow!] and try and see how the Christian Worldview agrees with- or rejects certain aspects of these different felids of thought.
Most Christians would reject Rationalism as a Philosophy- because it denies real objective truth- it says truth is relative- whatever the mind can conceive- or think- can be defined as truth [Unicorns?]
Biblical truth is based on real historic events- 1st Corinthians chapter 15 says that if we deny the physical resurrection of Christ- a real event- then our faith is in vain.
Christians base their faith on a real historic event- not simply on a belief system.
 IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
Was gonna do one last post [for now] on Libya- we will need to cover the whole development of how we began to view/and act over a 6 month period- we acted [as a nation] contrary to our public statements. We swore- over and over again- that we were not targeting the man [or his family] and he swore [before the U.N. - by his rep.] that we were lying- and did indeed already kill a few of his grandkids [which was true] and were going after him.
Then- on national T.V. - we saw him flee Sirte [his hometown] and get bombed by both NATO and American planes [ours were Drones]. We destroyed a bunch of vehicles- left a lot of dead bodies- but he made it to a tunnel.
Then he got pulled out- ended up with a bullet in the head. O- forgot- this happened a day or 2 after Hillary Clinton visited Tripoli [her first visit] and said ‘we are waiting for you to capture or kill him’ [oop’s!] She later had to ‘clarify’.
She also was caught on tape- laughing and rejoicing over his death- okay- many people did- but if your saying publicly- ‘that’s not what we want’- then it looks bad.
Of course the other Arab nations want the U.N. to investigate- they were being told- by us- that we were not going after him. He begged for a peaceful resolution [he did do this!]. But we basically said no.
There are lots of questions to still be answered on this thing.
Okay- yesterday I wrote a quick note about a conversation I had with a new friend who just joined my site. She was into some new age stuff- we talked a little- I defended historic Christian belief- then she blocked me.
Let’s talk a little about Apologetics/Theology. Apologetics is the field where Christians Defend the Faith.
In our day- it is common for believers to be ‘left in the dust’ when they bang up against an atheistic scientist [they not all are!] or someone versed in Philosophy [Sartre or Camus- atheist thinkers- or Hitchen's and Dawkins].
Many times these various fields of study are too much for the average believer to feel like he can engage in- in an intelligent way- and ‘win’ the argument for the Christian view.
But church history has a long- and very successful- track record doing this very thing.
A few weeks back I did about 5 posts or so on Philosophy- a field I like to study. But if you do too many of those posts at one time- then it can get a little heavy [and boring!] So I try to break it up by only doing so many at a time. The same goes for Theology- Church History- etc.
But over time- if we become well versed in these various fields- it will help us defend the Christian view- in an intelligent way- without being mean about it [I try!]
But sometimes you will offend people- even if you try to be nice- because you’re engaging in a conversation that says ‘yes- as Christians we believe in ultimate truth- and that truth is in the person of Jesus Christ’ yes- that will offend some.
My approach to these types of debates is I’m what you would call Ecumenical- I believe that Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox- and all the other ‘churches’ that profess Christ- I believe they are all Christian.
Now you might say ‘well John- doesn’t everybody?’ Actually no- many of the most knowledgeable Apologists do indeed go after the other groups. Quite often you will have a strong protestant defender [usually from the Reformed faith] that will really hit the Catholic church- in my view- too hard.
While it is true that historically Catholics and Protestants have differences- I have often found that Many ‘average’ Catholics/Protestants are not really aware of the real differences- they often have very limited perspectives about the ‘other side’ and these limited ideas [often wrong] seem to stay with the people- for most of their lives.
One example- the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception- what is it?
The teaching became Official- only in the last 2 centuries of the Catholic church- though it was held by many- it finally became official in the last 2 hundred years [ 1854 for the Immaculate Conception- 1950 for the Assumption of Mary doctrine].
The doctrine teaches that the Virgin Mary- Jesus Mom- was born ‘without the taint of original sin’. Now- what does that mean?
Some Protestants think the Catholics teach that Mary was ‘sinless’ in the same way Christ was sinless.
Actually- that’s not the official doctrine [see- it’s important to know the official teaching when we engage like this]. The actual teaching- that has the churches Imprimatur on it- is that Mary WAS A SINNER- just like the rest of us- but in order for Jesus to have been born from a pure vessel- that the actual work of the Cross- Redemption- it was applied to Mary ‘ahead of time’.
Yes- the official teaching is that Mary ‘was saved’ from her sin- just like the rest of us- thru the Cross. The difference is the forgiveness that came to Mary- came to her before she was born- yes- the teaching does teach that Mary was born ‘without sin’ but not like Jesus was without sin- but she was ‘without sin’ because her salvation was applied ahead of time- way ahead of time- before she was born.
Okay- do Protestants believe in this teaching? No. But is it ‘so way out of line’ to the point where we should view our Catholic brothers and sisters as ‘non Christian’ because of it? No- not in my view.
Plus- many Catholics don’t even realize that this is what the doctrine teaches- many think it is talking about the birth of Jesus- being born without sin- by the act of the Holy Spirit descending upon the Virgin Mary and Mary conceiving.
No- this is what we call ‘The Virgin birth- conceived by the Holy Ghost’. Jesus being born from a virgin with no earthly father.
This is not the Immaculate Conception.
So right here alone [trust me- there are many more examples that I could give] Both Catholics and Protestants usually get the doctrine wrong- yet they remain divided their whole lives- over something that they are not even right about.
So I have found this type of stuff to be a problem while striving for Christian unity- and many Christians prefer to see the ‘other side’ in a negative light- and will continue to view them that way- till they die.
I always feel bad when I lose a friend from the site- sometimes you can’t help it [other times it is my fault!] but sometimes it’s because we have views about things- strongly held views- and when others hold to a different view- well we try and avoid them.
One day I received a Friends Request- to my surprise- it was from a young Catholic priest- I did not know him but he must have read a few posts of mine and liked them. He often gave me Thumbs Up comments on the posts- and at times would tell me he loved the posts.
Most were my Theology/Church history posts.
Often times Catholics and Protestants can agree and enjoy these types of studies. I love studying and teaching on the Church Fathers and early Christian history- and these sources all have a very strong Catholic flavor to them- so I see my fellow Catholics as being a part of a long tradition of Christian history.
Many famous converts to the Catholic Church [Bishop John Newman- converted from the Anglican Church] convert because they read the Church Fathers- and when you read them- it’s obvious to see the catholic nature of the early church in these men’s writings.
So anyway I was very happy to have a Catholic priest as one of my ‘on line students’ [and honored].
But one day- during one of my studies [covering one subject for a month or so] to my surprise I saw he was gone [yes- the dreaded block]. I thought- geez- wonder why?
I realized it was right in the middle of a study I did on Islam- and while I was doing the posts- I was also going thru a study on Islam- by the same guy who teaches it to the U.S. govt. - yes- it was a prof. [I think named Espinoza?] who teaches Islam to our govt. employees [sort of like a tolerance type thing].
Though the teacher was Catholic- yet he was VERY much pro Islam- I mean to the point where I had to reject some of the stuff he was saying- and finish the study from my own education on Islam.
At one point- he taught that the spread of Islam thru out the world had a wonderful- liberating effect on all the women in the lands where Islam spread. I mean it was so obvious that the man had no idea what he was talking about [in this area] that I realized he was not a good source [this happens every so often].
And it was more troubling that this was the guy Obama picked to teach Islam to our govt. employees [don’t get me wrong here- he teaches our govt. workers- not to convert them- but more of an informative type thing- just like you would teach any other course about sexual harassment- or whatever].
Anyway- in one of my posts while teaching on my site- I did refer to Mohamed as ‘the prophet’- now- I don’t receive Mohamed that way myself- but because I was teaching some Muslims who did recently join the site- well I used the title in this way.
I think that might have been the ‘last straw’ for my student/priest- he ‘went on Pilgrimage’ right after that post.
Okay- today’s point is we all should try our best to be ‘tolerant’ that is- we should give people as much grace/mercy as possible- but at the same time we also need to be honest about the Christian faith.
Yes- as Christians we believe salvation comes thru Christ- he was not just ‘one religious leader among many’ no- we believe he is the Way- the Truth- the Life/light- no man comes to the Father- but by him.
Sometimes we do our best not to offend- we might even go out of our way to receive people- other religions and systems that are not Christian- that’s okay- I have Muslim and Jewish and all types of friends- I’m glad they are my friends!
But we also have to be honest about our beliefs- and every now and then that might- just might- earn you a BLOCK.
 GO SPARTANS?
I really have too much to cover for one post- so let’s see what we can squeeze in.
I have a catalog sitting here- from the company that I order courses from. A few years ago I got on their mailing list [How- ?] and ever since I have been bombarded with monthly catalogs.
I mean every month- a bit much. Then I realized that one month out of the year they put a bunch of courses ‘on sale’ for around 70% off the regular price- and that’s probably where they do their best business [I now only buy from the discounted monthly catalog].
Anyway- I read the intro to their course on Dark Matter/Energy- these teachers are really good- they are professors from the premiere universities of the world [Oxford, Harvard, etc.] and to get the courses at this price- well it’s really a bargain.
But over the years- studying various disciplines [Theology, Apologetics] it’s easy to see when some smart men- make really bad mistakes.
Especially when dealing with the whole ‘proof for/against God’ type stuff.
In this short intro to the Dark Matter course [Physics- these courses cover everything- history- science- religion- the whole 9 yards] they start out okay- they explain that according to the standard theory of modern physics- that there is about 95 % [wow- that number has jumped these last few years!] of matter ‘missing’ in the universe.
What do they mean by ‘missing’? They go on to explain that the effects that we see in the universe- the gravity and function of the universe- well according to standard theory- there is simply not enough matter to explain how all this is held together- how everything actually works.
Okay- so they admit that there are a whole bunch of phenomena- that we see taking place- that modern science has no idea how it’s taking place.
Now- as the intro continues- they say in order to ‘fill the gap’ they have come up with the idea of Dark Matter.
Dark Matter is simply a name given to nothing- that is nothing that we can detect thru the means of modern science.
Okay- by definition- it is a Metaphysical reality- something that science has espoused as a possible cause for the effects we see in the universe- and by their own definition- its invisible- undetectable and unseen- it is metaphysical [just like the argument for the existence of God].
So they go on to say ‘we know that this matter exists- because how else could you explain how everything works’- now- to those who get into these debates- the guy who wrote the intro- I’m sure he means well- but his whole argument is a materialistic one.
He is saying that there is no chance that some type of ‘non matter’ can be making this happen.
So he then says ‘because WE KNOW that there has to be a material explanation for this- no ‘God stuff’ here- therefore its Dark Matter.’
Okay- and what is Dark Matter again? O- it’s this non detectable- unseen matter- that just happens to make up 95 % of the universe.
Okay- Mr. smart guy- you don’t go for those Intelligent Design guys- the ones who argue that some non material force might be behind this- you rejected their argument because you say they are arguing from a non material realm [called metaphysical].
So how again have you proven that your idea- all this missing matter- exists? O- easy- because we see the effects OF IT all around us.
Actually- no we don’t. We see the effects of SOMETHING- that is- modern science has this huge gap- there are effects taking place in the known universe- that have no materialistic explanation for- we can’t find a material, observable cause for these effects.
The Christian says ‘Okay- I stick God in that gap’ [which many materialists accuse us of doing- they call it the ‘God of the Gaps’ approach].
But the materialistic scientist [one who says there can only be a detectable- material cause to things- in order to classify it as science] he then comes up with the whole Dark Matter argument- an argument based on non detectable- unseen- unproven matter.
And he then says ‘it must be there- because how else can you explain how everything is functioning?’.
The point is- your argument is based just as much on ‘unseen- unproven’ ideas as the Christian. You assume that this matter ‘must be’ simply because you leave no room for a non material explanation.
Then you say ‘yeah- but our idea is based on science/matter’ actually it is not- you argument is based on an idea- non proven by your own standards of modern science- and your idea- your Dark Matter- as of today is nowhere to be found.
These debates can go on forever- and my point is to simply challenge the believer- and the scientific community- to try to be more honest in the approach of seeking for truth.
In the last post I mentioned the pre Socratic philosophers- the 6th century B.C. guys who came before Socrates.
In the 5th century B.C. you had Socrates [born around 468 B.C.] and he would become one of the titans of Western thought.
He had a famous student by the name of Plato- and Plato would follow in his master’s footsteps. Plato founded a famous school at Athens- the land was donated by a man by the name of Academe- and till this day- that’s where we get the modern term for Academia.
Socrates started well- his ideas are not to be confused with Christian belief [he taught that the soul of man always existed- even before he was conceived- not a Christian belief] yet he did have lots of ‘Christianized’ ideas.
Socrates was of the school of thought that wanted to seek for absolute truths- to find out the purpose and meaning behind things.
Like his student Plato- they were what you would call Idealists- that behind this natural world- there exists Ideas- principles that are ‘more real’ than what we see [he would too laugh at the dark Matter intro I hit on at the top].
Socrates lived at a very advanced stage of the city/state of Athens- Greece. For their day- they had quite an advanced society- Jury system- somewhat of a Western style Democratic process- pretty good for the day.
But something happened during his lifetime that would change the whole direction of Athens [and Greece]. They would suffer a huge military defeat by another city/state that seemed to be no match for the Athenians.
Do you remember their name? Do you Remember the Spartans? Yes- we see these brothers in the famous movie ‘The 300’. The Spartans were indeed a fighting machine- just like depicted in the flick [one of my favorites by the way].
They had a famous motto ‘either come back holding your shield high [in victory] or come back lying on it’ [dead- like a stretcher].
So when Athens fell at the hands of the Spartans- they went through a sort of depression- a malaise came over them. They began to resent the thinkers who were always searching for ultimate answers to things- and they embraced a new type of philosophy- called Sophism.
The Sophists were thinkers who said ‘lets just learn the most pragmatic approach- how to get things to work- and how to win the argument’ and they didn’t really care a whole lot about whether they were ‘right’ or wrong- they just wanted to master the practical side of life.
Socrates and his crew thought this approach would ruin Athens and he continued to fight for the search for ultimate truth- the real reasons behind things.
He went around town debating the other thinkers- he had a system- called the Socratic method- where he would engage you in a debate- ask you questions- and let you too ask them back- sort of like the Detective Columbo.
After a while this got him into trouble with the authorities and they sentenced him to death.
He was given his choice of execution- and he chose to drink the Hemlock.
We are told that his famous student Plato visited him on the eve of his execution- and he was surprised to see his master relatively at ease with his impending death.
Socrates believed that the unseen things- the non material realm- was actually more real than the seen- detectable realm. He did not need some Dark Matter idea to explain how things worked- he believed there existed unseen things- God- Soul- etc. and that these things were more real than his own natural life.
Plato would make his teacher famous through his school- and thru his many writings about his teacher. We know these writings as Plato’s Dialogues- he wrote these papers in dialogue form- having Socrates debating the other schools of thought- just like he did in real life.
So you never really know who to attribute the famous quotes to- Socrates- or Plato? Was Plato putting his own words in the mouth of his beloved teacher? We don’t always know for sure.
Okay-maybe a bit much for today- actually had more I wanted to do- but we’ll call it quits for now. Maybe do a quick search on some of these subjects- see how they affect the contemporary arguments for the existence of God.
See how modern science is a noble field- but one in which the Christian does have a say- and how we should challenge the assumptions that are passed down to us.
Socrates refused to settle for the purely practical outlook on life- he continued to seek truth till his last day- he dialogued with those who had other ideas- he listened to them and they heard him- and at the end of the day society was better off for it.
 THE UNEXAMINED LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING- PLATO.
I caught a show the other night on Link TV. It was a spin off from this famous Platonic quote- it was called ‘The examined life’.
They interviewed some of the most prominent philosophers of our day. Cornell West, Peter Singer- a few others [I think the name is Singer?] I found it interesting that Singer- who specializes in Ethics- tried to make the case that you really don’t need religion/God in order to do ethics- all you need is to work from the basic principle that says ‘try to treat others like you too want to be treated- and then you will have a foundation for morals’.
Now- I caught the contradiction right away- do you see it? Who is he quoting? This is the great moral principle- given to us by Jesus himself- called the Golden Rule.
This actual principle- in Theology [the study of God] we call Natural/Moral law. The Argument is based on the reality that all people [not animals- Singer- get to it in a moment] have within them this moral compass [Romans 1] and that this in itself is proof that there must be a higher moral being- a transcendent being- who has put it in man.
I just found it funny that Singer- who is supposed to be a prominent atheist/agnostic thinker- would fall flat on his face like this.
Singer advocates for legal Rights for animals- and has also argued that viability of the new born baby should determine its personhood- he says that we should be able to abort babies up until around the age of 1- because they can’t really survive on their own until that age.
Okay- why do Philosophy- or Physics- or any other of a number of schools of thought? Because too often Christians abandon these fields- and then when someone from that field says ‘this is why we don’t need God’ we usually have no answer.
When we think about philosophy- most of us think about the 3 great big shots- Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. While it is true that these guys were the major guys at right around the 5th century B.C.- yet we actually date the beginning point to the early 6TH Century B.C. to a man by the name of Thales.
Thales accurately predicted a solar eclipse in the year 585 B.C. and he gained notoriety because of this. Thales was the first Greek thinker to grapple with the idea that there must be one reality that makes up all things.
He would argue that Water was this element- that contained being and Motion and life. Many of these pre Socratic thinkers were obsessed with the idea of motion- where did it come from?
Thales observed that streams and rivers- and all types of water sources flow- so to him this was a logical source of motion.
This idea- that only one element makes up all reality- is called Monism. Monism is not be confused with Monotheism- the belief in one God- Monism actually leads to another religious view- called Pantheism- the belief that God is everything- and everything is God.
This is not the historic Christian view.
Now- the pre Socratic guys- Parmenides, Zeno, Heraclitus- these guys would challenge Thales view that water was the main thing.
Some said ‘maybe it’s Air’ another said ‘Earth’ and some Fire. These 4 elements [Earth, Air [wind] Fire and Water- are the 4 basic elements of the early Greek philosophers.
We see these things in the naming of musical groups [Earth Wind and Fire] as well as the themes in movies [fantastic 4- based on 4 basic elements- powers].
Now- one of the thinkers said ‘wait- maybe the reality behind all things is not any one of these elements- maybe there is a 5th dimension [another musical name- and also the famous Bruce Willis flick- called the 5th Element] a Boundless being- outside of time and matter- maybe this 5ht element is the foundation for all things.
Of course this view would lead to the more developed view of God that Socrates and his followers would embrace- an early view of God- much like the later Christian view [absent the Trinity].
By the way- the view that 2 or more elements make up all reality is called Pluralism- not to be confused with religious Pluralism [that all religions lead to the same God]. The most common form of Pluralism is Dualism [2 realities equally true] but all non Monists who embrace more than one reality are Pluralists.
Okay- maybe a bit much with the 10 dollar words- but it might spark the interest of some.
The church has debated for centuries on whether or not Philosophy should be taught to Christians. One of the early church fathers- Tertullian- said no- his famous quote is ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’.
Meaning what does Philosophy have in common with Christianity [Athens- Greece was the seat of philosophy in Jesus’ day].
For the most part- the early church fathers would embrace the study of philosophy- and try to make arguments for the Christian faith by presenting Christianity as ‘thee’ philosophy that best answers the questions of man.
These early Christian thinkers are called Apologists- men like Justin Martyr are in this class.
Apologist is a word we use to describe those who defend the faith- it comes from the Apostle Peter’s letter in the N.T. where Peter says ‘give an answer to those who ask you about the faith’. In the Greek language- the original language the N.T. was written in- this phrase is talking about a defense- an ‘apology’ in the sense of ‘making the case’ not in the common sense of apologizing.
In the book of Acts- chapter 17- we read the famous sermon of the apostle Paul- given at Mars Hill. He was in Athens at the time- and he was debating with all the philosophers of the day. He tells them ‘as I was looking around town- I saw that one of your altars is addressed to The Unknown God’.
He would go on and declare unto them that this Jesus is the true God- the one raised from the dead.
Paul also said ‘in Him we live and MOVE and have our being’. Kind of a popular verse quoted by preacher’s today- but we often overlook the significance of the MOVE part.
I mean- why say we MOVE in him too? Paul was a smart guy- he knew these children of Socrates questioned where motion came from [Remember Thales?] So he was basically saying ‘I am declaring to you the one true reality- the true 5th Element- the missing God particle from your system’ and he went on and preached Christ- being raised from the dead.
Paul knew that you can’t really do true philosophy- to grapple with the questions of life and being and ‘motion’ without realizing that God is indeed the ultimate answer to all things.
Even Peter Singer- who claimed that you don’t need God or religion in order to do Ethics- even he unknowingly quoted Jesus in attempting to give a basis for his Philosophy- yes- he quoted a God- one unknown to him- just like the altar at Athens- but a God never the less.
An inescapable 5th element- the missing part to the whole puzzle.
[1737 FLUFFY THE CAT
The other day I was going to write a post on the Greek debt crisis- the silly yoyo that the markets have been rising and falling on. At the end of last week the market fell- because a few top financial guys were seriously talking about letting Greece default.
Then the next few days there was ‘hope’ that they were all going to work things out. Then before I got the chance to post- yes- another market downturn- there was buzz that the Germans were feeling uneasy.
The silly thing about all this- is the facts are the facts. Will Greece go insolvent- probably yes. They are about 500 billion dollars in debt [a lot] and after all the promised bailout money- from their central bank system [much like our fed] they are only on their second bailout payment [around 130 billion or so] and the other stronger economies in the Euro Zone are wanting to bail.
Why? I have covered this before- but you basically have a situation- much like our own countries bailout- where certain European nations have gotten in debt over their heads- and when the danger of private investors- who bought all these bonds from these countries- when they see the possibility of losing their fortunes- they sound the bell ‘the world is falling apart- quick- bail us out’.
Now- is the world falling apart? For these Wall Street folk- yes indeed. That’s why they panic. When we bailed out Wall Street and the banks in our country- many of these insider financial guys who warned the president [s] about the danger- these guys were also in peril of losing their money.
All their friends/families- everything they have- would have been lost if the banks and markets collapsed. So what did we do? The nation covered the losses [for men like Buffet- who keep saying how guilty they feel about their low tax rate. Maybe this is part of the guilt- you think?]
Now- in the Greek crisis- that’s exactly what the Germans [the strongest Euro Zone economy- the U.K. is not part of the Euro Zone] are saying. They want the private investors to take a greater loss- before they spend their own tax payer’s money on a bailout. Many are now openly questioning whether or not Greece should just go belly up- and take the hit.
I read a piece in the N.Y. Times the other day- the headline was ‘Should Greece default on its debt’.
So some are beginning to catch on here.
You have had other Sovereigns default- Argentina, Russia, etc.- yet their debt was around 80 billion at the time. Greece’s debt is 500 billion- so the default could be systemic- it could affect Italy and some other struggling economies- the European banks would also take around a 400 billion dollar hit- so it could be a big problem.
Okay- why mention this? No matter what any single person says- or some European financial guy quits [like last week] none of this will change the facts on the ground. If the other Euro Zone nations are already balking at this second Payment to Greece- then that means most of the ‘insiders’ are beginning to think that they might as well let Greece default- and just take the hit.
Some felt [and still feel] that when we bailed out companies and banks- out of fear that we can’t allow ‘too big to fail’ fail- that we simply prolonged the pain.
This next year- our country is going to suffer. Lots of the bailout money that was spent [the 800 billion stimulus- plus the actual bailout] was spent simply propping up the states budgets for the last few years. Now- the states are going to have to cut back- lots- this next year- the moneys gone.
The housing market is still bad- the system has not bottomed and cleared out the hit from the bubble- and we did things to ‘stall the pain’ okay- now we are paying for that.
So- all the financial gurus talking about ‘hold on’ or investors hanging on the words of one guy- is nonsense. All these macro problems- still left in the system- they are not going away so easily.
I heard a British trader give a BBC interview the other day- he shocked the audience. He said all the insider traders have fled Greek debt- and any other investments associated with European debt- and they are preparing for a sort of mini European depression.
Now- he talked for about 5 minutes [the parts I heard] and much of what he was saying- I believe to be honest- that the insiders often do the opposite of what they tell the public.
After his interview- the BBC came out and said he was ‘a plant’- a Plant? From where? They said he was one of those ‘doom and gloom’ guys- who really wants to scare people- so he can profit off of it later.
Look- I have no idea how legitimate the guy was- but I knew much of what he said was true- and the truth is- the insiders often don’t want the general public to know certain things- and they don’t tell them either!
How gullible are we? A few years ago one of the history channels began promoting a major upcoming event. They were going to once and for all- reveal the true Missing Link. They supposedly found the fossil that would prove Evolution was true. Now- they spent a lot on the promo’s- and as they built up the thing- at the end of the promo- there it was- an actual picture of the fossil that would turn the whole world on its head.
When I saw the actual fossil- I laughed openly. Sort of like when Will Ferrell tells Christina Applegate [Anchorman] ‘When you told me you too wanted to be an anchor man- I wrote it in my journal- I said ‘she told me a very funny thing- I am laughing’. [You know the comedy is based on the good ole boy network].
So as I watched the ad every few days- yes- I laughed- openly.
Why? Because anyone who knows anything about the whole debate on Evolution can tell you- that’s not what ANYBODY is looking for.
Sure- this cat like fossil might be of use somewhere- but in the Missing Link debate- it had no use.
Now- as I mocked the thing- at work- at home- every time I saw it- I would be doubted by some ‘John- how do you know that’s not the Link- are you smarter than the scientists’.
People believe what the media tells/shows them- and they allow themselves to be duped- lots. After a few months of the pathetic fluffy fossil making the rounds- they finally pulled the whole show.
Why? As I read a few science articles about it- as the months passed- many of the ‘other’ scientists [those who were not profiting directly form the thing] also laughed- yes just like me- just like Burgundy- yes they laughed too.
Why- they said what I said- that what this silly cat fossil has to do with a missing link between man and monkey- well it was foolish.
The channel dropped the whole show- the scientist who did indeed by the fossil for a lot of money [it was around for a while- but no one wanted to purchase it] yes- they all had personal reasons to want people to think a certain way- if they believed that this thing was truly historical- then they would make money.
And they labeled the critics- initially- as those silly creationists who deny science. Yet the facts were- science was on the side of those who laughed at Fluffy- I’m sure she was a nice pet- but a missing link? Not.
I have another article here that I wanted to cover- the same basic thing- about a British Atlas that fudged the amount of ice that has melted off Iceland- they had fake pictures and all- finally the scientific community came out quickly to debunk it- they did not want another fiasco like the fake global warming story a few years back.
The whole point is- people have agendas- the financial guys have agendas- those in the media- they have agendas. Are all of these people wrong? Of course not- do I too have an agenda? Sure- we all do.
But as you read/watch the news- as you make judgments on ‘what is true and what is false’ don’t always go with the flow- the initial thing that your ‘told’ to believe- sometimes they want you to believe- they might even think that their deception is noble ‘geez- we know it’s not really true- but in the end it will be better for us all’.
Yet- it would be better for us all- if we simply got the facts- and did not have to wade thru all the bias.
I don’t know what the European debt crisis will end up like- nor does anyone else. But for the market to be doing these 500 point swings- from one day to the next- based on what Angela Merkle says- or some financial guy- well that’s silly.
The facts are the facts- they are not changing that much from week to week [or day to day!]- not enough for the market to swing like that.
Are we going to have a double dip recession? It sure looks that way too me. Did I think this a year ago- no. Why? The signs looked a lot better then- the last few months- for a lot of reasons- they don’t look so good.
We don’t need to hear what Bernanke says [that much] or what Buffet thinks- we can read the broad indicators- and see for ourselves.
Look- for a few months I was laughing at the cat fossil- even at the risk of my buddies thinking ‘John- he’s one of those creationists who rejects science- how sad’. Then after the truth came out- at the end of the day- my ‘friends’ actually believed Fluffy was the missing link- when in reality she made some cave man a very nice pet- and that was it.
 EINSTEIN WRONG?
There’s been much buzz these last few days on an experiment that seems to have proven Einstein wrong. These Physicists shot some sub atomic particles [Neutrinos] underground and supposedly clocked them going faster than the speed of light [by 60 nano seconds]
Now- as someone who never went for that ‘book learnin’- yes- in high school I clearly remember telling my guidance counselor- from year 1- that I will never attend college- so just give me the easiest classes to pass [yes- I really did say this- and they seemed to get miffed at me].
So- I never took Physics- or Algebra! I mean- not even the basics. One year the counselor said ‘John- even if you don’t go to college- we require you to at least have 1 year of math’.
I took ‘shop math’. Mr. Hildebrand- that class was the definition of ‘skate’. So over the years I have had to read up- and even when I took the entrance examines for the Fire Dept. I had to get a few books on Algebra- just to pass the test! [Yet I always scored high on tests].
Okay- why would breaking the speed of light mess up Einstein? In the world of physics you have had 3 main stages. In the ancient world we had ‘ancient physics’- then with the scientific revolution and men like Newton- we entered a stage called classical physics. And in the 20th century we had Einstein.
He would launch the field into what we now call Modern physics. He is the father of modern physics.
In 1905 he wrote 4 scientific papers- one of them was on Special Relativity.
Classical physics dealt with matter, energy- space and time. But what Einstein did was he seemed to breach the gap between these fields.
He would show us that these fields are not separate- they actually function and exist together as one fabric that exists in the universe.
Now- the formula most of us are familiar with is the famous E=mc2. This formula [not developed in any of the 1905 papers by the way] basically is a conversion factor between mass and energy.
All mass/matter has energy contained within it- if you could find ways to convert that mass into energy- then this formula showed you how much energy you would get [if you could convert all the mass in a raisin- into pure energy- you could light the city of N.Y.- on one raisin!]
Now- most people equate this formula with Nuclear energy. While this is true- yet this formula applies to all forms of mass into energy conversion. Coal power plants- gasoline in your car- even the conversion of food into energy in the human body- it is not only a formula for nuclear energy.
Okay- what about light speed? The formula actually tells us that the way you calculate the amount of energy in ‘the mass’- is you take the mass- multiply it by ‘c- squared’ and that’s the amount of energy. What’s c? C is simply the letter that represents the speed of light.
All of Einstein’s theories work off the theory that nothing can go faster than the speed of light. So- if these guys did prove that these sub atomic particles did indeed break the record- then yes- there will be a lot of changes that will need to be made to one of the most tested- and popular theories of all time.
Now- what did Einstein prove by his theories? Why was his first paper on relativity called ‘special relativity’? In the initial calculation- Einstein had a problem- as he continued to grapple with the impact his ideas would have- something he saw did not seem to fit in with the age old belief that the universe is eternal.
Carl Sagan used to say the universe is all there ever was- and all there ever will be [he was wrong by the way].
What Einstein ‘saw’ was that the universe seemed to be expanding- at a very rapid rate. His calculations also seemed to indicate that this expansion was ongoing- that it has never stopped expanding.
How could this be? Well- Einstein could not fully accept his own findings- and he simply fudged the numbers. Yes- he added this cosmological constant- this arbitrary mathematical calculation- that slowed everything down. He ‘made’ his theory say the expansion would stop at a certain point.
Later on he would realize [through the discoveries made by the Hubble telescope] that his initial observation was right- the universe is in a nonstop expansion as we speak.
He would call this mistake the greatest blunder of his career.
So what were the implications? Well we got the Big Bang out of this- the implications were that the universe was not eternal. That time and space and all matter had a beginning point.
This is the strongest scientific argument for the existence of God today. If the physical world as we know it- had a starting point- then the only rational explanation is there had to have been some type of ‘first cause’ that initiated the bang.
That’s fact- Einstein [nor anyone else] has ever proved that the universe had no initial cause. As a matter of fact- that would contradict the laws of logic and science. The law we refer to as Cause and Effect.
Some very brilliant men have stumbled over this. The atheist Bertrand Russell- who grew up as a Christian- said he thought to himself one day ‘if everything has to have a cause- then why not say that the universe is the thing that started it all- why not question whether or not God even had something that caused him’?
Sounds right? Or does it. Russell made the tragic mistake of thinking ‘everything has to have had a cause’. Actually- that’s not what the law of cause and effect states.
The law says ‘every effect has to have had a cause’. It is not illogical to have some type of being- a ‘first causer’ who by definition- had to be around forever. If you follow all the arguments through- you in fact need a Transcendent being [someone who transcends time and space] in order for this whole system to work.
So at the end of the day Einstein gave the church one of the strongest arguments for the existence of God- he showed us that all creation did indeed have a starting point- and he took us no further back than that.
Do I think the recent discovery is earth shattering? Well- if it’s correct- then yes- it will be. But I would bet money on the side of Einstein on this one.
If the calculations prove accurate- then we will need to make some adjustments to modern physics- but I don’t think it would totally ‘throw him under the bus’.
I have found it funny that most of the reporters talking about this- they would say ‘so- does this mean time travel might be real?’
You know- the T.V. talking heads have to have something they can say- in a short clip- that they think sounds intelligent.
Theoretically- Einstein has already shown us that ‘time travel’ can happen. Will man ever be able to travel at those ‘light speeds’? Doubtful [the speed of light is about 180 thousand miles a second].
But it’s good for people to be informed- as much as possible- about these things. I have heard/seen many people make unsound arguments against the existence of God- and lots of times they use Einstein- or modern science- as in if science has somehow showed us that God does not exist.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ll end with this- the very smart atheist- Anthony Flew- spent years trying to disprove the existence of God. He was at the top of his field [a brilliant scientist] who made Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris [modern popular atheists] look like amateurs.
A few years ago – he confessed that he now believes that there has to have been some type of infinite being- God- who started everything.
He said the Teleological argument [an apologetic argument that tries to prove the existence of God by design in the creation] finally convinced him. Any sane person- looking out into the sky at night- or studying animals- plants- man.
Any person who thinks that all of these things actually came from nothing- he just realized that proposition no longer had any legs to it.
No- the universe is not eternal [Einstein showed us that] and if not- it could not have popped into existence from nothing- that simply is not scientifically possible.
Note- our sun burns 400 million tons of matter into energy every second! A stretched rubber band weighs more than one at rest [energy weighs]. A charged battery weighs more than a dead one- the charge [energy] itself adds to the weight.
 THE GREAT DEBATE [Who is this Galeyoo guy?]
Okay- last night we had the 2nd [I think?] Repub debate of the year. I thought the debate went fairly well- I think Perry did okay- maybe a few bad sound bites that will be used against him [Ponzi scheme] yet overall he faired pretty well.
When I realized it was being broadcast on MSNBC- I almost didn’t watch the thing. This station is so in the tank for Obama- and they play the race card all the time- I thought I might just skip the thing.
But Brian Williams [NBC anchor] did okay. You even got the sense that the political hack- Chris Matthews- was upset that Williams didn’t get more into the Evolution, Gay marriage stuff.
Matthews interviewed Rick Santorum after the debate and kept asking him ‘why did you avoid all the social issues- Abortion, gay rights- and the Evolution stuff’. I mean Mathews was mad. Santorum kept saying ‘Hold on- your network [MSNBC is the cable arm of NBC] never asked me any of those questions’.
Matthews still went on and said ‘no- you’re dodging those issues because you know they make you all look nuts’. My daughter was walking thru the room at the time- she heard conversation and asked ‘who is that guy?’ talking about Matthews- even though she is no political junkie like myself- she still thought he was an idiot.
I told her who he was- she said ‘why don’t they sue him for that’ Oh- the joys of youth [she’s 20]. I mean if I had 3 wishes- you know- one of those deals where you have to think long and hard- I think I might actually waste one for that [suing Matthews to get him to go away].
I also found it interesting how in the after debate coverage- the MSNBC crowd were all basically playing the side of the apologist for Obama- yet the only 2 Black guys on the panel- Gene Robinson and Sharpton- they had some interesting insights. They said that after they heard Perry’s response to the question on why he tried to mandate the vaccine shot for cervical cancer in the state- that his answer was actually intelligent.
As a Texan I remember when this issue came up. A few years back Perry wanted all the kids above the age of 12 to get the shot- a lot of people opposed it and Perry gave a loophole that if you didn’t want the shot you didn’t have to get it. At the time I rejected it for one of my daughters- I went to the school that year to sign her up [you know- the yearly routine] and they did ask- and I said no.
So the 2 Black guys on the panel said they felt Perry was actually more intelligent than he has been made out to be. Now- I know Matthews and the other race baiters were not happy about this observation- because it’s their network that has run with the narrative that Perry is a behind the scenes ignoramus. Yes- Rachel Maddow [another panelist] has said this openly on her show.
So why did Robinson and Sharpton make this observation? Look- I know I have angered lots of people who read my blog- my openness about race and all- I mean I’m sure some people have said ‘geez- does this guy believe Whites are better than the other races’ actually- not a whole lot better [You know- I wonder sometimes if people realize when I’m kidding around - I also wonder why I have not been shot yet].
No- actually I think society should be color blind- and we should heed the words of the great Doctor King- we should judge people on their character and not on the color of their skin.
I believe that Robinson and Sharpton- because of their background and the many injustices and stereotypes that they have dealt with thru out life- that they actually began to realize that they were falling for their own in house stereotyping of Perry [idiot] and they began to realize that they were wrong about it.
So all and all I think it went well.
But I just can’t get past the elitist mindset of this crowd. During the debate Perry mentioned that Galileo was outvoted in his day. Later on Sharpton quipped ‘Perry- he even said Galeyoo was outvoted’. Okay- I want to be nice- Sharpton has a new show on MSNBC and I have seen it a few times. Al is the opposite of Obama. When Sharpton is talking off the cuff- like any good preacher- he does well. But when you put the guy in front of a monitor- watch out.
He can’t read the darn thing. Now- I left it alone when he was portraying Perry as a simpleton one day [remember- Sharpton was actually believing the in house spin of his own network]. He was reading ‘Secede’ and saying ‘succeed’ [you know- Perry's statement about seceding from the union- which was a joke].
And then last night he keeps pronouncing the name of Galileo as ‘Galeyoo’. I mean- it’s just too much.
Was Perry right about Galeyoo? Actually he was. I have actually covered this whole thing in depth on the blog- if you go to the Feb. posts and look up the Evolution sections- it’s in there.
But let’s do a short overview. One of the common misconceptions of the early church is that lots of people believed the earth was flat- this is actually false. As a matter of fact- a few hundred years before Christ most cosmology was based on the Ptolemaic idea.
Ptolemy was one of the 4 generals that took part of the broken Greek kingdom after the death of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy introduced a system of the solar system that had the earth as a globe- being surrounded by a sort of crystalline sphere. On this outer sphere were the stars and planets. As this sphere rotated around the earth- you had the variations occur in the heavens thru out the year.
Now- even though this system would later be overturned by ‘Galeyoo’- yet it did work well for around 2 thousand years. Now- during the Copernican revolution [Galileo and Copernicus were both influential in the change of this system] they had developed a better system- through the invention of the telescope man was able for the first time to actually see the solar system up close.
And we then had the great breakthrough of our understanding of the solar system- we are Heliocentric- the sun is indeed the focal point- and we revolve around it- not the other way around [which was the older idea called Geocentric].
Oaky- when Gaioploi first came up with the idea [you do realize I’m talking about Galileo here- I need to clarify this just in case Sharpton reads this post] his initial idea was indeed off. There were some very serious flaws in the initial system.
Other scientists critiqued the plan and found these flaws- yes- the other scientists of the day ‘voted down’ Galeyoo.
But- like all the other spouting heads of MSNBC- why mention facts- especially when you are engaging in speech that says ‘look at the dumb Texan- he rejects science’.
Let me finish with a confession- as somewhat of a quasi intellectual who likes getting into all these types of things- I must admit I also like watching smart comedies- you know- good intellectually stimulating stuff. So let me quote a line from Jack Blacks Nacho Libre.
As Black is trying to convince his wrestling partner to get baptized before the big match- they were going up against another team called Satan’s disciples [or something like that]. Black keeps pushing his partner to get baptized- and the partner refuses- he says ‘I don’t want to get baptized- because I believe in science’. Ah- there it is- the present mantra of the liberal media- Perry, Bachman, Mitt- the whole crowd- these people don’t believe in science- not like us truly intellectual folk- they are all idiots’!
Ah- these guys are all like the people who fought Galileo- they are against true science. You know- I guess an argument like this might have some legs- but when the person making it keeps calling Galileo ‘Galeyoo’ well- maybe not.
 DARWIN’S RELIGION
In keeping with the last post let’s do a little more on Genesis- and the whole debate over science and religion. Because of the way this debate raged right around the turn of the 20th century [18-19 hundreds] there were many fine Christians who sort of had the impression that Evolution- as fully defined in Darwin’s way- was indeed proven beyond all doubt.
This was certainly not true. What we were learning from science was basically the actual thing that Darwin observed on his Galapagos Island tour- science showed us that species of things do change/adapt to their environment over time. And that these changes do indeed get passed along to following generations.
Modern Biology does show us- beyond all doubt- that ‘micro’ evolution does take place [when I say micro I mean evolution within species].
Darwin- as well meaning as he was- carried the idea further and thought ‘heck, maybe that’s where all species have come from- one common ancestor that eventually branched off over millions of years- and that’s the starting point’.
Now- was Darwin a nut to think this? No- at the time [late 1800’s] we did not know what we know today. It was assumed that living cells were not complex and that something like this was possible.
But since Charlie’s day- we have found out that living cells- no matter how hard we try- or observe- they simply never ‘change’ from one type of cell into another.
As a matter of fact- this scientific fact is so tested- it has left many scientists to re think the whole theory.
Now- why is it so hard for them to ‘re think’ it? You have to understand- for anyone in the field of science to even talk about evolution possibly not being true- it puts you in the category of a nut case.
And I have read/heard statements from non Christian scientists who say this very thing. They can’t get heard- even though the most basic plank of Evolution [common ancestry] has basically been shown to never happen.
See the dilemma? Yet around the turn of the century many fine scholars- men like B.B. Warfield from Princeton- they embraced evolution because they thought the Genesis account left room for various interpretations. And they thought that Darwin was proven to be right- all the way.
So today we have the problem of biased science- that is science that has gotten to a point we they can’t really admit that after 150 years- it does seem that Darwin’s initial idea- which came at a primitive time- was just wrong.
Now- does this mean the ‘God’ idea is right? Well for me- and others- sure. But I can float another scenario- which would still not explain the actual origin of life- but it would fit better than common ancestry.
That idea would be instead of thinking that one original life form arose from the Primordial Soup- you say many arose.
That’s it- you have solved a huge problem by just adjusting the theory- so why don’t they adjust it? Well Darwin’s theory has become more of a religious belief than anything else- to challenge it is considered scientific heresy.
Okay- what about Genesis? Yesterday I gave you some ideas on how different people view it. At the same time that Evolution was being hyped- you also had what’s called ‘higher criticism’ arise out of the universities of Germany. These were the scholars [Butlmann- etc.] that kind of thought the new scientific age was on the rise- humanism was the future- and if there was any chance to ‘save religion’ then ‘religion’ had to adapt.
These guys meant well- but they threw out too much. They embraced an idea called ‘The Demythification of religion’. They thought that the bible still had valuable moral stories in it [Sermon on the Mount] but when it came to science and stuff like that- well a lot of that was told as Myth- not Myth life a fairy Tale- but Myth meant it really was unreliable in these areas.
Many fine men embraced an idea that challenged the historical accuracy of the first 11 chapters of Genesis- stories like a talking Serpent in the Garden- Noah’s Flood- the Tower of Babel- all of these ‘stories’ are found in the first 11 chapters- and it was easy for these scholars to say ‘see- these are not ‘real’ stories- they are Myth’.
Okay- what’s the problem? Well- when you look at various portions of the bible- it is true that some parts are poetry- others are historical narrative- others are Prophetic- and it is helpful to know these types of distinctions.
But if you view Adam and Eve- or Noah’s Flood [you know- the whole world being saved by a man and his family on a boat!] If you read the New Testament Jesus says ‘as it was in the days of Noah’ or ‘in the beginning God created them male and female’ now you have Jesus referring to these first 11 chapters- and he is speaking about them in a way that sure sounds like true history.
See? So these types of debates do rage at times- but overall the bible has stood up to the test of time. Many of the critics will use some of these things to challenge the church- and in a noble effort some good scholars jumped a little too quickly onto the Darwin bandwagon- especially at a time when some scientists are looking for a way to get off!
Today I want to talk a little bit more about the bible and science- maybe over the next few weeks I’ll do a sort of overview of the Old Testament- like I just did with the New Testament.
I think it’s important for believers to have a basic grasp on some of the ideas about creation- evolution- and the whole debate in general.
I have written a lot in the past on the various theories- and won’t try and cover it all again- but just give some parameters that kind of frame this debate.
The other day I saw a news clip of an actor that I used to like- Matt Damon. I always liked Good Will Hunting and the Boerne Identity flicks. Some reporter asked him a question that kind of pit the right against the left [politically]. He replied with some ‘high faluttin’ language- I mean you could tell he really thinks he is the Good Will guy- but he did it in a way that said ‘you inferior intellects of the world- why must we have to put up with you’!
Sort of like when Tyson gave his speech on the inferior skills of those who were losing to him- they were losing because they were truly behind the advanced world of scientific boxing [not because Tyson fought you like ‘you stole something from him’ the quote of a defeated foe]. I sensed in Damon's response a feeling that you pick up when the media tries to cover this whole debate.
The other day they showed a clip of some kid asking Perry ‘why do you not believe in evolution’ and Perry actually answered in a good way- he said ‘in Texas the schools teach both creation and evolution [actually that’s not true] and that evolution has some gaps to it’.
You then heard the mom in the background saying ‘ask him why he rejects science’ and of course you knew which way the report was going.
The history behind the way Christians view the book of Genesis [and creation] has varied lots over the years. Many old earth creationists [like myself] have argued for a ‘less literal’ hard line stance on the Genesis account- yet also not fully accepting the evolutionary view of things.
Others are what you would call Theistic evolutionists- they believe evolution is God’s way of doing things.
And others hold to a literal 6 day creation- with no room for any sort of symbolism at all.
All these views have some type of problem with them- something that you could find and say ‘see- this is why this view is wrong’.
And as I read the different views- I try and stay open to the best arguments from all sides.
As you read Genesis chapter 1- you see the Account of God creating all things. You have the 6 days of creation with God resting on the 7th day.
You do see somewhat of a framework right in the 6 days. For instance- on day 1 you have God making light- yet he doesn’t create the sun and luminaries until day 4.
On day 2 he creates the sky and water- day 5 birds and fish.
Day 3 he makes the land and plants- and day 6 he makes man and animals.
So you see a sort of ‘2 tiered’ system here- God making on the first ‘3 days’ the things that correspond on the last [2nd set] of ‘3 days’.
Now- this does not mean you have to spiritualize the whole thing- but there is room here for more than meets the eye.
The strict creationists argue that even though God made the light on day 1- and the sun and stars didn’t appear until day 4- they actually teach that for the first 3 days God had made another source of light- that we don’t know about- and this source lasted for only the first 3 days.
I see problems with a rigid view like that- I would prefer to see it the way I just showed you- that God is doing the creating- and it is done in 6 days- yet we are not getting a scientific account here- God is showing us things that we could grasp as regular folk who are picking up the bible and reading it for the first time.
So as you can see these types of debates can go on for a while.
The main point I want to make is the Church has always had room for true science to ‘fit in’ with the text- the church has not always taken a hard line ‘creationist stance’ on these things.
And at the same time there are many problems with the actual theory of evolution [Perry’s gaps] problems that I see that many of the media folk have no grasp on. For instance you do have a whole bunch of science that does seem to say that one species of a thing can never- ever evolve into another thing.
The science on this very fact has caused many scientists- unbelieving scientists- to ask ‘is it time for us to re think the theory’. But when you listen to the news people- or to Mom telling her kid ‘ask him why he doesn’t believe in science’ you realize that many of these ‘enlightened folk’ have no idea what they are talking about.
Yes- they sound like the Matt Damons and the Tysons of the world ‘you have no place with us in this advanced world of the intellect- we have surpassed your Neanderthal ideas- we are the new generation’.
Yes- I see the lines being drawn already- the Perry’s of the world are now going to be contrasted with the enlightened folk- I just wish both sides would spend a little more time listening to each other- and realize that we are not as far apart on some of these things as we think- we might be able to all get along someday- but who knows when that day will get here.
 TRUTH IN REPORTING
Last night we all watched the impending downfall of the Libyan strongman- ruled for 42 years and it looked like his time was up. The media also reported the capture of Saif- Gadhaffi’s son- I found it interesting to see the media get duped in such a public way.
We in the West want to reduce everything to a ‘hero versus villain’ scenario- it just makes us feel better to know that when our young guys shed their blood on a foreign field- well at least they died for the hero [though we did not have guys on the ground in Libya].
Yet in reality this is rarely the case. Over these last 6 months we have seen media portrayals of the Rebels. They were portrayed as doctors, lawyers and good hard working citizens who have been reduced to such primal tactics because of the madness of Gadhaffi.
Yet the reality of the situation is these 2 sides [East versus West- in Libya] have been at odds for decades. Libya has around 140 different tribes, and these tribes fight for power and influence- just like political parties.
So the tribes coming from Benghazi- the Eastern ‘capital’ have fought against the tribes from the West- Tripoli- for years.
The tribes from the East [the guys we have backed up] have had a number of Al Qaeda troops in their ranks- we don’t know how many have actually killed our guys in other theatres- but we know many Al Qaeda from Libya have fought us on foreign ground [Iraq].
But over the last 6 months this story would not have benefited the medias narrative [hero versus villain] so we have really not covered that aspect much.
So last night- all the media were reporting that Gadhaffi’s son, Saif, was taken captive. This was confirmed by the ICC [international criminal court] and the news media went with it- as being confirmed.
Often times the media will say ‘we have an unconfirmed report’ but when they say ‘confirmed’ that means the information is coming from top people who they have trusted and deemed to be honest.
So- after the reports of Gadhaffi having fled the country and his sons being captured- the media ‘confirmed’ it from the Rebels top guys- those they have given the top tier of trust to [You know- DeNiro and Stiller- the inner circle].
So the surprise was seeing Saif show up in front of the hotel where the media are staying. One reporter went up to Saif’s vehicle and knocked on the window- he said ‘if you’re in there for real- I need to see’. Sure enough the door opened- and to the shock of the reporter- there sat Saif.
Why shock? Because the rebels have played them like puppets for 6 months- denying that they have killed civilians- assuring them that these stories were all lies cooked up by the villain- and right up until the moment the car door opened- they were assured- in no uncertain terms ‘we have Saif in custody- you can trust us on this one’. Trust they did- and they looked like fools.
Then the media began running with ‘well- both sides have lied lots during this conflict- and sometimes you have to just trust your own eyes’. The problem with this is we have backed up one side- spent 1.1 billion on that side- and the media believed all the reports about ‘our side’ killing kids was simply a Gadhaffi lie- now it looks like they were used in this deadly game playing out on the Mediterranean.
I hope it ends soon- but we must remember that there are a lot of innocent civilians in the West- who never supported the Rebels- the rebels have killed many of them- burned down their homes- looted their businesses- the rebels are no angels- and it looks like the media just found that out.
Today I really wanted to post a few notes on the current media frenzy on science versus faith- the topic is becoming hot in the media- they like talking about stuff they don’t know about- and this one takes the cake.
Basically the media have been turning up the heat on why Perry and all the other stoops [that would be Christians] are denying science. I have written- and posted lots about this in the past. Most people are not aware of the overwhelming amount of science that challenges the most common ideas about evolution.
I’ll just hit on one- Abio Genesis. This is the belief that life can spontaneously generate from dead matter. This view is false- scientifically false. It is also commonly held with the false view of the spontaneous generation of all things.
Many media folk hold to a belief that the Big Bang theory shows us that all things have come from no-thing. Actually- this is a scientific impossibility. This idea- creation ‘Ex Nihilo’- is false.
Einstein’s theory did show us that matter had a beginning point- called the Point of Singularity- yet today we have absolutely no scientific proof that all things came from nothing- yet most media folk do indeed believe this.
So this topic really is one where the media have created their villain [the back water Christians] and their hero [the false idea that science has proved all types of stuff- that is has not!]. Yet they hope that if they run with the narrative long enough- then hopefully they will never be found out- you know- opening that car door and seeing their man- the man they assured the whole world was gone- yet he lives to see another day.
[note- those of you who are interested in more on Evolution- on my Blog if you go to the February posts of each year- I have studies on Evolution and one on Genesis- you might find them helpful in the coming debate].
 WHO’S THE DODO BIRD NOW?
Let’s try and get a few things in today.
First- the overview of the last couple of days- I think stuff like that is important. I have lots of friends from different religious backgrounds and nations. Some are Muslim, some are Jewish- others hold to eastern religions.
I want everyone to have a grasp on what the message of Christianity is- it often gets lost in the debates that rage between nations and various political stances- yet the main message of the bible is that Christ died to pay for the sins of all mankind- and God saves/receives people on the grounds of his Son having died for us.
The Old Covenant [the law] was based on man trying real hard to be good- he could never live up to the standard. Then the New Covenant was established- which was based on this free gift of eternal life- Jesus paid the price- we receive salvation as a gift- not as a matter of works.
I’ll do more on the basics the next few weeks- but I wanted to at least hit these truths for a few days.
Okay- as a Texan I stated a while ago that I’m not particularly a fan of Rick Perry. In many ways I do not fit the political mold of ‘the right’ or the left. I also realized that if Perry jumped into the fray- well the left would use that with all their might to play on the divisions of the country.
MSNBC has showed no shame in saying that the Evangelical Protestants are nuts- and the Catholics [Lawrence O’Donnell says this a lot] are the stable folk. Now- as a Christian- I see myself more and more as a composite of all the great historic faiths.
Anyone who has read my blog for a while can easily see that. I have actually had to correct Catholic news guys- quite often- when they misrepresent their own church. So I think the lefts agenda to feed into this divide- for purely political purposes- is bad.
Last night I was channel surfing and I hit Gore’s station- current T.V. They had Shuster filling in for Olbermann. He was teasing a segment on Perry- you know- saying now that he’s in the race- well damn it- we are not gonna let him get away with his lies!
So Shuster kept saying ‘Perry’s misleading you about the job growth in Texas- we’ll uncover his lies in a moment’. Okay- I’m fair-minded- not really a Perry guy- I’ll listen.
He goes on and plays a clip where Perry states- carefully- that since June of 2009- over 40 % of the new jobs created in the country came from Texas.
Now- the last few weeks I have heard various pundits use this figure- sometimes they would exaggerate and say around 50 %.
So I figured Shuster and the crew had something on the man- they did report- as news- that he lied.
Then Shuster gave the scoop- he said first of all- many new people have moved to the state of Texas [okay- listening] and that many of the new jobs created in the state were service related—restaurants- etc. [okay- still listening] and that many of these jobs are not high paying- and therefore Perry lied.
Well someone lied for sure- but it wasn’t Perry.
Then I caught a clip of the channels owner [Gore] going off the rails. This past week was bad news for the global warming crowd [I’m not an absolute denier by the way]. I saw/heard the clip a couple of times- Gore was at some meeting and he freaked out- he was saying ‘those who say the earth is not warming- bull s^%$t. Those who deny this/that- bull s---t.’ I mean it sounded like one of my posts on a bad day.
I guess the pressure got to him- lots of folk are rejecting the science behind global warming. Let me say- I have never deeply looked into it- but as a big news guy I hear both sides. The other day I read a news article- it was a small article hidden in the paper- but it said that we now have scientific proof that the pollution trapped under the ozone layer- is in fact contributing to the COOLING of the planet.
The article explained the actual pollution particles do act as a sort of sun block- and they block some of the sun’s rays from getting in- thus cooling the planet.
Now- this report was not on Fox- or Rush- it was in a plane Jane news paper. I mean even as a casual reader of the subject- I had to laugh. I mean this is the exact opposite argument that Gore has made.
Then- for the first time ever- I watched Gores global warming flick. It came on after the news show I watch on his station. Sure enough- he shows a sort of cartoon graphic that shows the sun- and the rays of the sun penetrating thru the ozone layer surrounding the planet. And then the cartoon shows the ray bouncing off the earth- but when it gets back up to the ozone layer- well the ray gets stuck inside- it can’t get out.
He then went on to explain that the pollution [co2] is causing this effect- and that’s why the globe is melting.
Now- I had just read the news article- and it was obvious to ask ‘well Mr. Gore- how come when you show the graphic- the rays have no problem getting in- the pollution does not block anything from getting in- yet when the same ray wants to bounce back out- it can’t’.
I mean it wasn’t that hard to see that there were real problems with his idea- and I guess the world is finding out a little faster than he wished.
The other day I read an article on Evolution. It showed one of the most famous ‘proofs’ for evolution. Those who have read the pros and cons on the thing- well we all know about the famous bird/dinosaur fossil that was found around 150 years ago.
This fossil has been used as proof for the theory- for 150 years. Now- this extinct looking bird does look like it came from the pre historic world. But I have heard- for 20 years at least- the creationists say that this fossil is not a bird fossil at all- that is simply a flying dinosaur.
Now- there are ways scientists can tell this stuff from fossils- it would take too long to try and explain the whole thing [plus- I don’t know the whole thing!]. But we know in our day that birds have completely different body structures than dinosaurs. Birds do not have lungs- they have hollow bones and when they fly the air goes thru their body- and that’s how they oxygenate their bodies.
That’s why you never see a bird breathing heavy- or breathing at all after it lands- they don’t breathe like animals who have lungs.
Okay- for various reasons the evolutionary community needed to show that they found a bird/dinosaur fossil- it was needed to fill in the blank between dinosaurs turning into birds- which is part of evolutionary theory.
I have heard scientists argue- time and again- that the creationists were doing fake science when they claimed this fossil was really a dinosaur- not a bird [Flying dinosaur- but a dinosaur never the less]. And these scientists would say all true science has proven- beyond a Shadow of a doubt- that this particular fossil was indeed a bird.
Okay- the article I just read said ‘surprise- Chinese scientists have just discovered that the so called bird- well it’s a dinosaur’!
You know- you hear things all the time- from sources of media- people who sware they are telling the truth ‘Perry is lying about creating 40 % of the nations jobs’ and then when you look at the numbers- well the news guy was lying.
Yet these same advocates- who it was already leaked that they were going to do a smear campaign- they want to tell us how they are so smart- and the rest of the country are a bunch of duped Tea Partiers. Yeah- that’s the smart crowd- the ones who were worshipping at the foot of a 150 year old bird for past century and a half- and Walla- they were really worshipping a dinosaur instead.
The apostle Paul said [Romans] that people loved and served the creation- rather than the creator. And as a judgment God have them up to become like the thing they worshipped. Wow- can’t get better than then- can it?
 RICK PERRY- HE NEEDS HELP- BAD!
Okay- just a little politics- then some bible stuff.
Last night I watched the Repub debate- nothing real impressive- everyone played their angle. I also saw a few minutes of Maddow [MSNBC]. Okay- I have mentioned Maddow before- I mentioned that she is a lesbian- openly so. Fine [I don’t approve of the thing- but that’s her business] I want to simply give you an example of inconsistent thinking that people often engage in- and they don’t know it.
A few days ago a report slipped out- some insider leaked the fact that Obama [and his re election team] have made the decision to smear Perry. Now- I know both sides do it- but this was a leak and Obama and his team were mad about the leak.
Then- like clockwork- MSNBC began a week of smearing Perry- I mean it was ‘funny’ to see the sycophants- I mean they were like Pavlov’s dogs ‘jump- drool’ the whole 9 yards. First- they did a critique of the ‘Houston prayer and fasting’ thing- Perry announced a prayer day- had a bunch of preachers [who I actually disagree with theologically] at the event- and Maddow [Rachel Maddow- host of a news show] did an ‘in depth’ critique of all the ‘crazies’ that Perry was aligned with.
She misrepresented the whole group of preachers- even though I do not hold to many of their views- she said they were part of the evangelical movements ‘theocratic’ wing. Theocracy is the belief that religion should actually be a govt./state function- many in the Islamic world hold to this view.
Okay- the actual name for Christians who believe this is Reconstructionism- these Christians do hold to this view- they are a very small minority- and the group Perry was hanging with- they are in no way Reconstructionists.
Second- Maddow critiqued ‘religion’ as she has in the past- and said her only problem with people like Perry- is they want to impose their values on others.
If Rachel were a smart apologist [one who argues this point- but is smart] she would realize that all persons- especially her- do argue- all the time- from a natural law perspective. That is they- even though they deny it- are making the point- all the time- that their particular view of morality- whether it be gay marriage- or anti polygamy- or any other host of moral ideals- they all argue for the ‘legislation of morality’ legislation [the passing of law] is by definition the legislation of morality.
Now- if that law is simply ‘can't drive 70 in a 60 MPH zone’ this is the legislation of morality. The moral principle is ‘don’t drive this speed- it might kill you- and me’ and then we pass a law that legislates that moral belief. Pretty simple.
Okay- what Maddow is mad about- is the legislation of morality that effects her particular lifestyle. Now- she might say ‘well- we believe that consenting adults should be free to do what they want in the bedroom’ okay- got ya.
Would you agree to 2 adults- lets say a brother and sister- who have no ability to have kids- should we let them marry?
Most would rightfully say no- the point is- you are now defining what’s ‘right or wrong’ and it’s not simply a matter of what 2 adults want- it’s truly a matter of ‘right or wrong’.
I could go on- ad infinitum- with these examples- the point is Maddow- like Perry- like the left- the right- they all have some sense of ethics- where they derive that ideal from- well that’s another point- but they have their own ‘morality’ and they do in fact want to impose it- all the time- on other people.
So let’s at least be honest about the thing. Okay she finished her show last night with an image- she said that the true insiders- who know Perry- they will ALL tell you that they are concerned about Perry- they actually feel his is ‘dumb’.
She explained that these insiders- they all knew Bush was really smart [wow- never heard you say that before] yet they all think Perry is actually mentally challenged [I kid you not- she went down this road] and that these Repub insiders- they actually fear for the country- that a dangerous loose cannon like this might take the reins.
Okay- Maddow- who I’m sure would not appreciate us giving images of the things she does- or how ‘smart’ she is- she left us with the mental image that Perry is actually mentally challenged. The same image of Palin, Bachman, ETC.
What’s wrong with this picture? Even though she claims ‘the insiders all said Bush was a genius’ yet her network- they ran with the story that Bush was actually dyslexic- yeah- I remember. Look- I’ll admit I’m no saint here- yeah I too have made jokes about Bush’s brain.
Sure- I would say ‘hey- you critics of Bush- who said- look at the man- after the planes hit the towers- Bush sat- dumbfounded for around 7 minutes- sitting in that classroom- just looking confused’ Okay- I’ll admit I would quip ‘you guys are misreading it- he wasn’t confused about the response- he was sitting in a 3rd grade class- he was struggling with the curriculum’. Okay- I fess up.
But Maddow left us with that ugly picture- the seed of thinking ‘geez- I never knew others viewed Perry that way’ and even I couldn’t shake the mental image- now thinking that he might really be what she said.
They slandered him just as bad as the right has slandered their guys- they should just report the policies and leave this type of character assassination at home.
Okay- I didn’t’ really do any bible stuff- but I covered a little on the moral law and ethics- which fits in with theology. So for now I’ll leave it at that.
Don’t forget- to all my friends who read these posts- pray for one another. I just finished a prayer time and prayed for a bunch of my friends [and those in other nations] who are connected with us in some way- many are going through tough times- and it helps if others are also praying for each other. Pray for everyone on these sites- others who you see when going thru the site- you see a name- or a post that might indicate a friend is in trouble- then try and pray for them that day- stuff like this helps.
And of course pray for Texas- we need it bad- I just found out that our governor is actually an ignoramus- I mean not just of low intellect- but so challenged that all the insiders fear for the safety of the free world if he gets elected. The source?- The same people who said ‘we believe that Obama is possibly the smartest person to ever hold the office of the president- he more than likely has the highest I.Q. than any other office holder in the history of the nation’. The other reporter asked ‘do you know what the number is’ the first guy said ‘no- but I know its very high- higher than any other president’. This was an actual on air discourse between 2 reporters during the inauguration celebration of president Obama.
Yeah- these are just the type of folk I need telling me about Perry’s I.Q.- yeah- they sure know their stuff.
 THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA
I was gonna wait till next week to post- but there has been some important news stuff going on- and last night S&P actually downgraded our rating [from AAA to AA+]. So let’s do some today.
Of course last week we finally raised the debt ceiling- our debt will now hit around 17 trillion [wow] until the next raise. I found it interesting to see how the media try’s to tell the public what they think is best- and they actually lie quite a bit.
A few weeks back CNN started a new show with Fahreed Zakariah- I thought I would like it- Fahreed is somewhat of an intellectual and I have heard him in debates before. The only drawback I saw [in the past] was he seemed to take one position- and defend it vigorously- and then take the other side at another time- and sware that this time he was right.
Okay- during the debt ceiling debate- many on the left described the ‘Tea Party’ as nuts- terrorists, psycho’s- the whole deal. It did get a little ridiculous after a while. I saw Fahreed- you know- the smart guy- he tried to give an in intellectual argument to why the Tea Party was ‘subverting the constitution- and actually bringing down the Democracy’ what? Yes- he explained how our govt. has 3 branches- and when one party [Dems] hold 2 [Pres, Senate] that if a minority of the 3rd branch [Tea Part- minority in the house] ‘take hostage’ the country- then they have actually subverted the Republic.
He then went on to attack the whole Tea Party mantra- their idea of cuts without taxes- everything. He then explained that the entire world has compared us to Europe [now it gets bad] and that even Europe looks good compared to us- he said that the Europeans have actually ‘shown the world’ that they are very reasonable compared to the U.S. in their dealing responsibly with their debt crisis.
Now- the very next day- because of European fears [no matter what anyone says- they have not solved their debt problem- it has actually spread this week- Italy is on the edge right now] we began to see the market collapse [dow went to 11,300 from a high of 12,500]. There are many reasons that this happened- but one of the main ones is the fear that the European debt crisis might spread to the globe.
So- the night before Fahreed said the world compared us to Europe- and the reasons we are in trouble is because we did not act responsibly- like Europe.
Then when asked ‘overall- is it at least good that we made the deal and avoided default’ he said no- and then made the actual Tea Party case to defend his position. He said that the deal only cuts a few billion in the beginning years [which he has advocated before!] and then he said- the way congress spends- ‘there’s no guarantee that they will ever stick to the cuts’. This is the exact argument the Tea Party made- to the tee!
That’s why they fought for a constitutional amendment- which Fahreed does not want.
Okay- then MSNBC had on an addiction specialist [I kid you not] to analyze the mental health of the tea party. Martin Bashir asked this guy to explain the danger of the Tea Party. The shrink went on to explain that when addicts have unrealistic expectations [Tea Party- cuts and no taxes= want dugs to make me happy] that they will resort to any means to get what they want [Heroin addict- give me your money or I’ll shoot. Tea Party- do the cuts or well not vote for a debt increase] when addicts do not see the danger of their unrealistic expectations- then yes- you get Oslo, Norway. You must be kidding- they had a guy on the air- comparing the position of the right to the guy who killed 80 people in Norway- and he [like Fahreed] tried to make it sound respectable.
On the news last night- before the downgrade- the jobs numbers came out for July. Now- news addicts like myself watch these things closely. The ‘left’ wants real bad to have some good news for the average folk. If the numbers are bad [under 200,000 new jobs is bad] then that doesn’t help. But there was no way the numbers would be above 200 thousand- I mean no one predicted that. They were hoping that they would at least be around 100,000- and not like the last report- where they hoped for 100 thousand and got around 18,000.
So as I perused the talking heads [ABC, CBS, NBC] of course they talked about the ‘number’ of unemployment dropping to 9.1 from 9.2- the number that I was waiting to see was the actual jobs number- how many new jobs were created last month?
Instead- I saw a screen graphic [you know- Lemmings like graphics- they think if they show the public anything- well they will never know] and it showed 230,000 new jobs [what!] and the unemployment dropping to 9.1 [from 9.2].
I immediately new they were lying- they were gonna show what they wanted to show you- and if they can tell you their story- any way they can- they will.
So- the small print [under the 230,000 jobs number] was the total manufacturing jobs gained- get this- since 12-09. What? Why take one sector- and go back to Dec. of 2009- and then add it up and show on the screen ‘230,000’ new jobs. Well, that’s the only jobs number [230,000- for total jobs from July] that would fit with the picture ‘unemployment went down to 9.1’. [Note- the reason 130,000 new jobs does not lower the overall rate is because that does not even keep up with the population growth of the country- we get over 100,000 new people seeking jobs every month]
No other jobs number would work. So they simply lied- they gave you a picture- false- and thought ‘you know- the average folk- we tell them what we think they should hear’.
So how did the unemployment number drop to 9.1? There are various factors that make up the number- some months you have natural weather disasters [snow storms] and people simply don’t go looking for work- that skews the number. Other months- people have been out of work so long- they give up- that skews the number.
But if the total jobs were only 130,000- then you know for a fact- that the real number didn’t drop a decimal Point- cant happen.
So more than likely some people didn’t go job shopping last month- and that skewed the number. But- the media knew they needed you to see the headline ‘230,000 new jobs’ and ‘unemployment down- 9.2 to 9.1’ and by golly- they found a way to make that happen.
Now- I hate to say [well actually I don’t hate it] ‘I told you so’ but heck- I did! If you go back and read/check the last months posts- somewhere in there I said ‘people must be nuts to be in the stock market right now’ now- I gave the caveat ‘I’m not telling you to get out’ but I then went on and said ‘if you’re smart- get out’.
Every media financial guy that was on the air- bar none- said ‘to the average investor- don’t panic- stay in the market’. Yet- in the past few weeks- 98% of trades that were done by these professional fund managers- who manage 401 k’s- 98 % were trades fleeing the stocks and going into bonds. Why? The Dow was at 12,500 [too high in my view] and we were facing all types of bad news. The Greek debt crisis [now more than Greece] the entire U.S. housing market is still a mess- and will be for a long time. The jobs numbers are terrible- and every indicator tells me these next few years are not going to be good.
So- if the odds of the economy getting worse are very high- then why take the risk of staying in right on the verge of a possible collapse? I know we can’t ‘time the market’- but heck- all those fund managers thought you could. Look- there was [is] no chance that the market was gonna hit 13,000 in the next few weeks- and a very great chance that it would collapse- then get your money out for the danger week/month- and if the sky doesn’t fall- then you can get back in- there was no chance you were going to miss a bull market- none.
But all the guys on the news said ‘stay in- hang in there’ and at the same time they- and all the professional funds they managed- they all jumped ship- left the stocks and fled for safety- while telling you ‘you can’t time the market’ yes- we are the lemmings.
Okay- then last night- well the S&P downgraded us- for the first time ever. Why? Well besides all the stuff I just mentioned- they felt the debt deal did not go far enough- that we needed to at least cut 4 trillion in spending over 10 years- we did about half that.
The defenders of the president were out in numbers- blaming the S&P for bad math [yeah- they did make a mistake- but that doesn’t change the overall picture one iota] and the reality is- the global economy is in trouble. Now- when you downgrade an entity [state, city, nation- bank, etc.] that means that entity has to pay you more interest if you buy their debt [treasury bonds]. But the last few weeks we have seen all the professional money fleeing stocks- and yes- going into U.S. bonds. Look- these investors know the scoop- S&P didn’t reveal anything that we didn’t already know- so the fact is- yeah it’s bad that we got downgraded- but the other investment options are so bad- that at the end of the day- people are still buying U.S. debt.
In high school I had a teacher- Mr. Steinberg. Mr. Steinberg was not ‘cool’ as a matter of fact- he seemed a little nerdy. He was Jewish- and at times wore a Star of David necklace- it was big- it was like he was asking for the persecution.
I liked Mr. Steinberg- and respected him for not being ashamed of his faith. It was in his class [English] that I was introduced to the great classics. Grapes of Wrath, Old man and the sea- all the classics. After we covered a book- he would check the TV Guide and when the made for TV movie was on- he assigned us to watch it.
Both of the above books/movies became favorites of mine- till this day I’ll watch them when they pop up on the classic channel. I actually have the Grapes of Wrath book sitting right here.
But the movie- Old man and the Sea- enthralled me. The struggle of the old man- his fight with the great fish- his arm wrestling bouts with the younger guys- the whole mystique was my thing.
The author- Hemingway- was himself a ‘mans man’ he lived large- took in all the experiences of life- and embraced a philosophy of life called Nihilism. This world view was popularized by men like Sartre, Camus and Freud. It basically is atheistic and says ‘there is no real meaning to life- man is a ‘useless passion’- he exists, only for the purpose of experiencing life- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- that the responsible thing to do is check out’. Yes- this philosophy advocates suicide.
Sartre [John Paul Sartre] actually said that the only philosophical question left is suicide- that we need to ask ourselves- as a society- should we allow ourselves to check out- for the good of the whole- when the pain exceeds the pleasure.
Another great work of Hemingway is titled ‘the Sun also rises’. He took the title from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes- written by Solomon [you know- to everything there is a season]. Solomon also embraces a sort of nihilistic view in this book- though it is in the bible- it is a form of literature called ‘pessimistic wisdom literature’. Sort of the philosophy Hemingway embraced.
Hemingway spoke about this view all thru out his life- though he was a brilliant writer- he had no hope ‘in the world’ [Apostle Paul]. One night, after he went to bed with his wife- he woke up- went downstairs and rigged up his favorite hunting rifle- and blew his head off. His daughter followed him a few years later.
I don’t know what’s down the road for our world right now- there are many people feeling hopeless today because they have lost- yes once again- a big portion of their wealth. As Christians we can say ‘yes- life is hard- we struggle at times- but in the end our struggles are working out a higher purpose- we have meaning in life’ but the atheist/nihilist- to them there is no redemptive purpose to the struggle- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- well yes- they check out.
Over the next few weeks- wherever you are at- think for yourself. If all the professional investors take their money out of stocks- and at the same time they advise you different- then stop listening to them. If your mad at the right [or left] then don’t keep watching people who are coming up with diagnosis’ that say the country is being run by actual Oslo killers- that’s just not true- no matter how much you might hate their point of view.
And at the end of the day- we as believers- we do have hope in the world. Mr. Steinberg wore that star of David- proudly. And in a recent post [Last?] I spoke about the promise that God made to king David- that he would raise up one of his sons and this Son would rule on the throne for ever. Yes- today this promise has been fulfilled through Christ- who sits at the right hand of God.
I don’t know- maybe I’ll rent the Old man and the Sea later [I tried in the past but couldn’t find it] and I’ll see the struggle of the old man [played excellently by Spencer Tracy] but instead of embracing his creators view [that is his earthly creator- Hemingway] I’ll ‘give’ my sufferings up- as the Catholics say- I’ll offer them to the Lord. Hemingway took the cowards way out- at the end of the day- he wasn’t the man we thought he was- he copped out.
 DON THE DUD
Well this morning I was at least hoping for some wind- got nada. For those of you who have never lived in the gulf- or a hurricane area- every year the local [and national] media have a tendency to ‘hype’ any type of disturbance in the gulf.
As Don developed into a tropical storm the other day- our local media began the regular routine of tracking the storm- ‘will it hit here- what are the tracking routes showing’ as I watched I said to myself ‘self- they don’t realize that the graphics they are using- the whole cone of danger- look exactly like the graphics they use for a cat. 4 hurricane’.
I realized that even though the actual satellite imagery is obviously different- yet the ‘narrative’ surrounding the entire event stays the same- and to the average grandma- glimpsing the local weather report- well yes- it looks like a hurricane is on the way!
Last night I watched the stupidity of the media- the Repubs passed their bill- finally- and it was off to the Senate- and of course the Senate has already said it would be dead on arrival. As I listened to the media- many Dems were sort of treated like they were the enlightened folk- and the reporters were like ‘and when will the Tea Party quit holding the whole country hostage- and purposefully stop trying to destroy the country’.
And the Dems would say ‘okay- they played their little game- in the House- and when will they stop playing these games- and really come to a solution’.
I began to realize that the Dems were really not presenting a totally honest picture- and with the help of the media- were actually positioning themselves for going past the Aug. 2 deadline.
Now- I’m not a tea partier- in any way, shape or form- I’m talking narrative here [remember Don] the story they are trying to tell- is not really as bad as they are making it sound like. I’m not saying the threat of default is not bad- it is very bad. I’m saying the story behind why the Dems [and Obama] won’t actually sign any of these Repub bills is not what they’re making it sound like.
The Repubs in the house have passed 2 bills- and sent them to the Senate. Both of these bills have cuts to go along with the increase in the debt limit- they also- now- have included a future vote on a constitutional amendment to have a federal balanced budget.
These bills have one more thing- the Repub bills have the House and Senate revisiting the whole thing again- in 6-9 months.
This is the main thing the pres. does not want. Why? The hard right says it’s for purely political reasons- the pres. does not want to have this fight again in the midst of a re-election campaign. The left say a 6 month plan would cause the rating agencies to drop our rating- because they think we will be on the brink again soon.
Both of these have some truth to them. But the facts right now- on the ground- are the Dems in the senate have already agreed to just about everything the Repubs have said- the Reid bill cuts 2.2 trillion- along with a debt limit increase- but it takes you past the election.
So now- why are Peirs Morgan- and Fahreed- and all the other talking heads saying ‘the tea partiers are driving us over the cliff- its Armageddon’ why? A bill with a promise [not an actual mandate] to have a future vote on a fed. Balanced budget is not the end of the world. Geez- it would take 2/3rds of the house and senate to pass it- then it would be sent to the states to get ratified [probably would never pass].
49 states already have it [and it doesn’t work so great- California is one of them]. So- why not appease the 80 tea party ‘nut jobs’ and sign the thing? I mean you already agree to the whole concept- because that’s the same basic plan that Reid has put out- except the Repub bill makes you do this again before the election.
Now- for the media to be saying ‘why have the tea party terrorists taken us to the precipice- why!’ geez- why not ask Obama- heck- we know you tried to compromise- and you did take some heat from the left- but geez- are you going to let the nation default- mainly because you don’t want to have to do this again in the middle of an election’?
I mean- the bills on the ‘table’ are very close- swallow the promised future vote on a fed. balanced budget- and ‘save the world’.
The media has simply decided to run with ‘the tea partiers are destroying the country with their proposals’ actually- the proposals are conservative- I’ll grant you that- but there are really no big differences- certainly not big enough to cause a default- to threaten a veto.
I saw a story one day- whenever I see something on evolution- I like reading it. You usually can see the bias right at the start. The story was about this new potential missing link. They found this ‘monkey’ tribe that mastered the use of tools- they made hammers and chisels and used them regularly in these caves. Wow! What a find.
The story showed how these caves had these monkey bones [skulls only] and these caves had these make shift tools in them. The skulls were all in a pile- and the tools around some table like device [these monkeys were obviously very skilled in the building trade].
The article said that this was scientific evidence for evolution. After all- who can deny that the skulls and chisels are real! I found it interesting- that the skulls were all in a pile- that there were no other bones- just skulls. Okay- according to the article- I have to believe that these advanced monkeys- either were all killed at one time- while huddling in the corner- or as they aged- they had a strange tradition- as they felt the big one coming on [you know- Fred Sanford- I’m coming home Elizabeth] they ran to the corner of the cave- laid down just in the right spot- placing their head over grandpa- and died.
Or could there be another narrative- another view of the actual evidence- don’t deny the evidence- just quit adding ‘your narrative’ and telling everyone it’s the only real way to see it.
In many parts of the world- the indigenous tribes do in fact eat monkey brain. These tribes make chisels/hammers to crack the heads open. Is it possible that they were simply getting the monkey heads- one or 2 at a time- having a ‘man cave’ moment- watching the super bowl- and after a fun night of monkey brains and beer- they tossed the skulls into a pile. That’s why you have skulls only.
The other view has some dogs coming into the cave- taking all the other bones- and not touching the skulls- okay- 2 views. I like to crab- after we have a crab boil- I guarantee you- you will find a bunch of crab shells in one spot- did they all naturally die in that spot- and did they actually craft the nut cracker and the table that it sits on- come on.
So as we close the week- the media is warning ‘Armageddon is here- the tea partiers have driven us over the edge- the end is near’ I guess the only person that comes out looking like a rose is sitting in some hotel on the left coast- listening to all these warnings and saying ‘see- I told you so’ you sure did Harold- you sure did [Camping].
 LITTLE BOY LOST
The other day we saw the tragic story of the little Jewish boy who went missing on his way home from summer camp. This day he was without a ride, and his mother thought it would be okay for him to walk home the few blocks. After he didn’t show up she called the police.
They eventually discovered that he had been abducted by a member of their own community- and was tragically killed. The Jewish community in this area of Brooklyn is known as an Hasidic community. My mom was born and raised in Brooklyn- and as a boy I remember going to the city and seeing these strange looking guys with funny looking hair and dress.
This community dates back around 2300 years or so. During the Intertestemental period [the time between the last Old Testament book- Malachi- and the book of Matthew] you have quite an interesting history. It was during these 400 years that we saw the rise of the Greek world under Alexander the Great.
In the Greek world you had some very influential philosophers; Socrates most famous student was Plato- Plato’s most famous student was Aristotle- and his most famous student was Alexander the Great.
Alexander sought to implement the ideals of his teacher- he wanted to unify the known world under one people/culture- a belief that Aristotle held- a sort of ‘unified theory’ [Einstein] that would seek to bring all learning/knowledge together under one supreme [Divine] principle.
Alexander’s experiment was called Hellenization- which was the Greek worlds attempt to impose Greek culture/language on all their conquered enemies- and at the same time allow them to hold on to the their own culture too. Alexander did amazingly well at this experiment- at the young age of around 24 he had accomplished most of his mission. The cities were a sort of composite of Greek culture mixed in with their own culture- this is where we get the modern term Cosmopolitan.
Alexander died young and his kingdom was divided between 4 generals- one of them- Ptolemy- would himself make it into the history books because of his keen intellect.
The system of cosmology developed under him would last [and work!] until some 17-18 hundred years later when it was overthrown by the Copernican revolution during the time of Copernicus and Galileo.
Alexander’s generals would do their best to carry on the system of Hellenization- and other nations generals would keep the system going even after Greece fell. One of them- Octavian [Roman general] makes it into the history books by another famous name- Julius Caesar.
Alexander established a great library in the Egyptian city of Alexandria [named after him] and many of the great writings were preserved during this time.
The writings of Aristotle would be discovered again during the time of Thomas Aquinas [13th century Catholic genius/scholar] and this would lead to Scholasticism [a peculiar school of thought developed/revived under Aquinas] and give rise to the Renaissance.
Okay- before the birth of Christ- the Jewish people resisted the imposing of Greek culture upon them- you had the very famous resistance under the Jewish Maccabean revolt- where the Jews rose up and fought the wicked ruler Antiochus Epiphanies- and till this day the Jewish people celebrate this victory at Hanukah.
Eventually Rome would conquer the Greek kingdom and the Jewish people were allowed to keep their culture and temple- yet they were still a people oppressed. Hassidism [getting back to the beginning] developed during this attempt to not lose their Jewish roots- the Pharisees of Jesus day came from this movement.
Alexander was pretty successful in his attempt to unify language- even though the bible [New Testament] was written by Jewish writers- living under Roman rule- yet the original bible is written in the Greek language.
Bible scholars till this day study the Greek language to find the truest meaning of the actual words in the bible [I have a Greek Lexicon sitting right in front of me].
It would take a few centuries before a Latin version appeared on the scene [the great church father- Jerome- would produce the Latin Vulgate].
Yet it would be the re- discovery and learning of the Greek texts [under men like Erasmus- and the Protestant Reformers] that would lead to the Reformation [16th century] and other movements in church history.
Of course the tragedy of the little boy lost is very sad- and the roots of Jewish culture are noble and good- Pope Benedict refers to the Jewish people as ‘our elder brother’ because of the Jewish roots of Christianity. The original church was made up of Jewish believers- people who were waiting for the Messiah for centuries [actually Millennia] and they were convinced that this Jesus- this Jewish itinerant prophet- was indeed the one that was to come.
When you read the sermons in the book of Acts- you hear Peter, Paul- and especially Stephen [ Acts 7] relating the person of Jesus to the prophecies that were spoken about the Messiah in the Old Testament- these early Jewish believers were convinced- in no uncertain terms- that Jesus was the Messiah who was foretold to come.
At the Jewish trial of Jesus- the high priest asks ‘are you claiming to be God’s Son’ Jesus- one of the few times he did this- said ‘you said it’. The priest throws up his hands and says ‘what more need do we have of witnesses- he himself has said he claims deity’.
In John’s gospel we read when Jesus said ‘Abraham saw my day- and was gad’. They asked him ‘how could Abraham see your day- you’re not even 50 years old’ Jesus replied ‘BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS- I AM’ They were incensed- the words I AM were the words used to describe God. The bible says they took up stones to kill him.
The great Christian writer- C.S. Lewis- spent many years as an atheist- yet as an intellectual he read all the great writings of history- and he said that no matter how hard he [and other atheists] tried to reject God- that history was filled with writings- both pro and con- about God.
As a matter of fact- there was no other underlying theme- some scarlet thread- woven thru out the entire history of man- that even came close to this testimony of the reality of God.
Many agnostics of Lewis’ day said ‘we believe Jesus was a good person- even a Rabbi- Prophet- great messenger of God’ Lewis said Jesus did not leave this option open to us. Jesus said he was indeed the Son of God- Deity come down- born from a virgin- crucified- died and was buried. On the 3dr day he rose again- according to the scriptures- he is seated at the right hand of God and will come again- to judge the living and the dead.
Yes kingdoms have come and gone- great men and despots have either honored this Jesus- or despised him- but today we still talk about Jesus- King of Kings and Lord of Lords- we have only one option- either we confess him as Lord- or we call him a madman- which one will you choose?
 THE SUNDAY MASS
I kind of wanted to talk a little more about the Casey reaction- why so many people are upset. What’s the root cause? Many people are actually mad- for a right reason. They have a moral sense of injustice- seeing the beautiful little Caylee dying like that- so there is this inner sense of justice that we have- it comes from being created in the image of God.
But instead of doing too much on that right now- let me catch up on a few things I felt I needed to do. In these past few years- as different teaching opportunities came up- I noticed that I had an open door from the Lord to teach all different types of people.
Catholics- Jews, Muslims- the whole 9 yards. Obviously my goal is to make clear the biblical account of mans redemption- to preach the Cross of Christ- and at the same time be willing to let anyone sit in on the conversation- If my Jewish friends stay Jewish- fine. If my Muslim friends don’t convert- and they still want to ‘hang out’ I’m okay with that. And if my Catholic friends stay Catholic- while at the same time learning more about the bible that’s great.
The point being I’m glad for the eclectic group- even the Atheists and GBLT friends- everyone is welcome at the table.
Now- one of the things I wanted to start doing was sharing the different ways the Lord has used the Mass to speak to me- I have found that watching the Sunday Mass- every Sunday- there is always some verse/homily that speaks to me.
Let me hit the last 3 weeks. A few weeks ago I had to block/unfriend a few people [Facebook] I always feel bad about it- even if I think it’s the right thing to do. So one of the things that made me feel a little better about cutting someone off that way- was the fact that even if I block people- they can always have access to the blog site.
So I thought ‘geez- maybe I was mad and cut people off too soon- but at least there’s the backup’. Then- I thought let’s see what the Sunday Mass verses will be. Sure enough it was Exodus 34- the story of Moses getting upset with the people [he had an anger problem] and he broke the first set of 10 commandments [denied access]. God says ‘okay- one more shot- come back up to the mountain and I’ll give you a second set’. Okay- that was exactly what I felt the Lord was saying- the backup set will work.
Then the following week- one of the hymns that was sung came from Psalms 147- the hymn said ‘I have strengthened the bars of your gates and blessed your children within’. I did a double take- this verse has been prayed- by me- at least a few thousand times over these last few years.
I don’t remember when I added it to my prayer time- but like lots of other verses- I read it one day and it became a regular part of intercession.
The only thing was- I pray it a little different- I pray ‘strengthen the bars of our gates and bless our children within- let peace be within our borders and let our garners be full [teaching tools] providing all manner of store’- I pray it as a request- so when I heard the priest/deacon singing it as an answer to the prayer- I had to go and check out the verse- Sure enough Psalms 147 is in the ‘answer mode’.
Then this past Sunday- the verse was from Zechariah chapter 9- the famous chapter where it speaks of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem- riding on the donkey. This chapter says ‘because of the blood of the covenant I have delivered your prisoners out of the pit’- I pray ‘let the sighing of the prisoners come before you- and according to the greatness of your power preserve those that are appointed to death’- it’s another verse I have prayed hundreds of times.
The chapter also says ‘your people will have the double portion’ I have a verse painted on my prayer wall [on the house!] that says ‘for your shame you will have double- and for your confusion they will possess the double portion in their land’.
I also pray a verse from Exodus 15- it comes from the Song of Moses that Israel sang after God delivered them from Egypt- the part I pray says ‘I will sing unto the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously- the horse and rider thrown into the sea’. It’s a prayer/song rejoicing over God breaking Pharaohs chariots in the Red Sea- and the bible says ‘they sank like lead’ to the bottom. In Zechariah 9 it speaks about God breaking the chariots and the devices of those who are coming against you.
Basically all these scriptures are speaking about the various groups/friends you will teach thru out your life- and that these different groups will learn ‘double’ from what they knew before.
Okay- I just caught you guys up for the last 3 weeks- but this type of thing has been going on for years- I just thought the Lord wanted me to share a little more on the actual verses- so you can see how the Lord will use these things- if you pay attention. I have found many times- I’ll ask a Catholic friend- ‘hey- did you go to Mass Sunday’ and he will say yes. But then he will not make any connection between the different verses the priest used during the Homily.
I’ll then do a quick review- and he will normally say ‘oh yeah- I didn’t see that’.
So the goal is for me to try and help people see a little more- not to make them convert to ‘my religion’ but to give them room at the table- to not pound them every week with some ‘moral rebuke’ about the way they are. Yes- at times we all need to repent- and re think the things we do. But there are too many ‘outsiders’ too many people- who come from different groups- and they never feel welcome to sit at the table and get a chance to learn- we too often give them the feeling that they are not wanted.
I thank God- even for those who I have had to block- that at least by Gods grace they can always read from the 2nd set- God is a God of mercy and grace- if he wants people to have access- to sit at the table- then he will always make a way for that to happen.
 THE SMARTEST PEOPLE IN THE ROOM?
Okay- the current media obsession is with Bachman- they have covered her misstatements with a fine tooth comb [more like a plow!]. I mean the main news outlets are going at it. Sure- I realize that calling John Addams a founding father is a bit much [more like a founding son] but why the obsession?
I remember when Newt got into the race- NBC [not their hack political arm- MSNBC] introduced him like this ‘he has been married 3 times- how successful he’ll be with the religious base- we don’t know’- wow- his intro mind you!
What happened to the Chris Matthews rant of no religious test? He went on for months about it- using it- wrongly- to say you can’t question/make your choice of a candidate because you don’t like his particular religious views. Yet the media has recently done polls on ‘would you vote for a Mormon’.
They laud the Broadway play ‘the book of Mormon’ which openly mocks Mormons. Can you imagine a play where you had Muhammad being mocked?
Yet now their fascinated with Bachman’s revisionist history. Okay- I’ll admit that Christians do run into trouble at times with the whole founding father argument. I often hear preachers say ‘the constitution says- we hold these truths to be self-evident’ and then they will argue their point from the ‘moral law’ theory we find in Paul's letter to the Romans- chapter 1.
The apostle does say ‘all men are without excuse- God has revealed himself to us- he has made his truth known’. See- self evident. Actually the language used in the constitution was the ‘anti-Christian’ strain coming out of the European enlightenment.
The Enlightenment [sometimes called the age of reason] came off of the Reformation/Scientific revolutions of the 16-17th centuries. Many of the men I have been studying these last few years were major thinkers in the movement. Right around the 18th century you had a feeling of ‘modern man’ will eventually cast off all these religious restraints and we will enter this new age where the human intellect will rule.
Most of these thinkers did not reject a belief in God- they simply rejected the institutional view of religion. They fell into the category of Deism.
Now- Deism argued that we do not need Christianity- the church- the bible- to know right and wrong. But that enlightened man knew these truths by nature [that’s where the Romans 1 argument comes in]. But when the deist made this argument- he was in fact approaching it from an anti-Christian viewpoint.
Jefferson actually wanted the language to read ‘we hold these truths to be sacred’ but Franklin prided himself in interjecting ‘non-Christian’ [pro deist] language instead- and Walla- we have ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident’.
Okay- so you can see we all have a little bit of revisionism in us.
I’m not a fan of Bachman- to be honest about it. But it’s too early to be flooding the airwaves with such obvious vitriol against the woman. Geez- cover her ideas.
I’m an ex-Navy Corpsman- as a defense of Bachman many right wingers have been showing the infamous speech of the president- where he called the guys ‘corpse men’ around 3 times [you know- that monitor does not sound the words out for you]. And of course the right has to go thru the record and show all the instances where the media actually covers up the faults of their favorite guy.
Yes- to be honest- they do stuff like this- all the time. But I wish we could simply debate the various sides- be honest about our view- and then move on from there. The left always accuse the right of being partisan- yet I think they are just as bad- and just as misinformed on many issues, its pride that makes them think they are truly above everyone else.
Let me finish with an example. One day I was hanging out with the homeless guys- sure- a few drunks- a few dope heads- the usual crowd. And a new guy shows up. He claims to be an ex professor that taught at Berkeley in the past.
As the conversation grew- he began ‘teaching’ the course that he taught at Berkeley. It was a course on ANE myths [ancient near east myths]. He went on to cover the fact that other societies had their own versions of biblical stories. They had flood stories [Noah] creation accounts [Genesis] and stuff like that.
Now- I usually do not ‘do theology’ when hanging in the streets- but I couldn’t resist. So- as luck would have it [bad?] I just happened to be familiar with ANE myths- and the apologetic rebuttal to the argument- so I jumped into the fray.
I went on to tell the professor that I too was familiar with his course- and I went down the list- point by point- refuting his ideas.
I explained that just because these other stories do exist- that in no way means the biblical account is fake- as a matter of fact- if these things did actually occur- you would expect other societies to have their own versions. I gave him a few more basic points like this- and left it alone [you know- when you do street apologetics like this- things can get rough- almost as dangerous as a Wisconsin Supreme court justice meeting].
As this enlightened liberal professor sat there- listening to what looked to be his last rung on the ladder being kicked out from under him [lost his home- wife- everything- the only thing left was his superior intellect over the average idiot- one of those types of mindsets].
He realized that he was being thoroughly refuted [for the 1st time?] by some homeless bum from Texas [I play the part well]. I mean- a homeless ‘redneck’ no less.
He simply stared straight ahead- the smell of alcohol [and various drugs] wafting thru the air- and he looked up and said ‘I am going to leave now- and go put a bullet in my head’ [his head- not mine].
Now- whether or not he carried out his mission- I don’t know. But he was the classic example of a person- who seemed educated- who prided himself in not being like the rest of the ‘idiots’ of the world- and it was difficult for him to realize that his view- no matter how sincerely held- was only one view. It is possible in life for us to be wrong- or for us to be as misinformed as the other person.
I have no idea how long the current media fascination will last with Bachman- I’m sure they’ll find another thing to fasten upon- of course when their side calls a bunch of servicemen ‘dead men- corpse men’ well- something as egregious as that- that will never make it to the air. But go ahead- another round of the Book of Mormon- watching the clip air- making the ‘Mormon/Christian’ look like an absolute idiot- and saying it openly- well the media has plenty of time for that.
 ARE YOU A FLAKE?
This past Sunday Chris Wallace hosted Michele Bachman on his morning show [Fox] he had just come off a previous Sunday show controversy- he had on Jon Stewart and it got a little heated. Overall I think Stewart ‘blew it’ but I think Wallace blew it with Michele.
The present controversy was him asking Bachman ‘are you a flake’. Bachman responded well- but began with ‘first of all, that question is insulting’. She was right. She went on to explain her credentials- and what Wallace thought might be a cringing, defensive woman- turned out to be a capable, smart woman- who treated Wallace like he was a defense witness.
Then a strange thing happened- MSNBC ran with the story- they covered it with the righteous indignation of a prophet [false?] Oh they tore into Fox ‘how could they dare be so demeaning to such a wonderful woman- smart- cunning- savvy- they should be ashamed of themselves!’
Sounds good, the only problem was they are the network that spent the last year publicly demeaning the woman- day after day- relentlessly. They had a photo of the woman- you know some smart camera angle- it made her look like a wild eyed demon- they showed that photo like the N.Y. press covered Weiner.
They then did the most on air offensive thing I have ever seen. During the Repubs election [congress] they interviewed Bachman. She showed up- just like a liberal might show up with a Fox reporter. Basically you treat the guest well- even if you go hard on the person [a skill Lawrence O’Donnell has yet to learn]. As Chris Matthews is talking with the woman- he asks her a question- she does what lots of folk do- she basically used her time to get her talking points across- and avoided the question.
Now- what the interviewer normally does is asks it one or 2 more times- and if no response- just move on. But Matthews says [paraphrasing here] ‘are you hypnotized- has someone hypnotized you- maybe an alien ship?’ he went on to demean her in a way I have never seen a reporter do. And in the background you heard Eugene Robinson [a regular on the show] openly laughing in mockery.
So after portraying the woman as an idiot- publicly- for at least a year- they then decide to critique Fox for Wallace’s disrespect to the woman- these guys are shameless.
But- that gets me into a guest host they had on the other night. Ron Reagan Jr. He did alright- I’m not a big fan of his dad- though he has become an Icon in some circles. Somehow Reagan got into the Evolution/Creationism debate. Now- most times when these guys try this- they fall flat. I have critiqued MSNBC guys before- Catholics- who have slandered their own church. They say ‘the Catholic church teaches this’ and they mislead their own Catholic listeners- and I try and write on it and give the actual Catholic view [being I study all Christian theologies]. So little Reagan goes into this thing on Evolution- he says ‘look- I don’t care what people want to believe- they can believe the moon [or earth?] is made out of cheese with a giant turtle on top- but don’t bring that into the science room’.
Most of these guys have no idea about the debate. The other day my 2nd oldest came over to show me her degree- she finally finished and got her degree in Biology. Over the years I would have good discussions with her- on a fairly good level- about biology. I have read and studied Biology, Physics, History- lots of subjects over the years- and it helps when you’re conversing with others in their respective fields.
And the talks I have had were in no way controversial- my daughter actually learned stuff- things that she was familiar with- yet she realized the points I was making- were indeed factual. Yet these points- as obvious as they were- were indeed left out of her courses- she saw that. [Noah Feldman calls this the ‘secularization of the public schools’- the fear that the public school system has when dealing with religion- or even covering it fairly when teaching history- or the impact of religious thought on science. The fact is that both Evolutionary Theory- and ‘Creationism’ [more preferably Intelligent Design] have religious aspects to them- they both espouse ultimate causes that cannot be seen with the naked eye].
Now- I wasn’t talking ‘cheese with a turtle on it’ you must be quite the ignoramus to think that the debate between intelligent design and Darwin’s theory is still at that stage. I mean there are many scientists- unbelievers- who are ready to reject the full idea of Darwin. Why?
There are lots of things that we could go into on these subjects- but a few major points are these;
When Darwin [Charles Darwin- popularized modern Evolutionary theory- lived in the 1800's] espoused his theory- he thought that it was possible that all life came from one ‘common ancestor’. He came up with the idea [it was around before actually] because of his observation of the Finch’s [birds] he observed on his famous trip to the Galapagos Islands.
Darwin realized- and stated in his books [On the Origin of the Species, the Descent of Man] that eventually science would advance to the point where he would either be proven right or wrong- I think that day has arrived- and so do many scientists.
I read an article/quote by one of the Leaky daughters [from the famous Leaky family who have done much in the area of Evolution] and she basically said ‘we have to admit that the obvious lack of evidence is leading us to re think the theory’.
Basically science has shown us- that the foundational plank to Darwin’s theory- has absolutely no scientific proof. For Darwin’s theory to be true- you need the cells of one living thing to eventually ‘evolve’ into the cells of another living thing. Not only has this phenomenon never been observed to happen in the natural environment- they can’t even make it happen in the controlled environment- in the lab.
Millions of man hours and dollars have been spent in trying to cause the cell of one thing to ‘evolve’ into the cell of another thing [basically they do these experiments with fruit flies because they breed rapidly] and one of the most provable, observable facts of modern biology is the fact that the cells of living things don’t do this- ever- never- not once!
So what Miss Leakey was saying was- if we have spent so much time and effort in trying to show that this does happen- and after all of the years of observable study [true science] this has never been observed to have happened, we need to admit that science is showing us that this does not occur.
Basically the criticism of Darwin is the fact that the most basic plank of the theory- has indeed been shown to be ‘un observable’ science is unable to make- or observe this happening.
Okay- there’s a lot more that can be said on this- and there have been many good things that have come down to us from Darwin’s ideas- indeed Natural Selection does take place- but it’s limited to the particular species- it doesn’t ‘cross over’ from one species to another. So we do credit the man for some good things.
But then- for anyone to think this debate is still on the level of ‘a cheese planet with a turtle on top’ geez- even Bachman knows better than that!
 IS IT MORALLY WRONG TO TEACH MORALS?
The other night N.Y. passed gay marriage [or marriage equality]. They are not the 1st state to do this- but some in the media hailed it as a great advance for civil rights. I spoke to a Catholic friend who lives in the area- he’s an older brother- and he was really upset about it.
I think I caught him off guard by telling him it really didn’t ‘upset’ me- not like I lost a battle [right winger] of some sort. I told him I obviously have a different position than Governor Cuomo- but I’m not real mad about the thing.
I understand why some people are- and I also told my friend that my position is basically the same position that his church holds- I think homosexuality is ‘a sin’ [like many other heterosexual sins!] but I think the ‘right versus the left’ approach does no good- it seems to just alienate people
A few months ago our local high school made it to CNN because of a debate between some girl who wanted to start a straight/gay club on campus. You had the school say no- even though they did allow a Christian club to meet. The ACLU got involved and before you knew it they were all picketing for/against the club.
As I watched the thing on the tube I saw some local preachers standing out there- a few feet away from the kids- holding signs and shouting ‘it’s an abomination’.
Then you saw the gay kids- who also had the support of some liberal preachers- they were holding signs that said ‘God loves everyone’. It just seemed ‘non Jesus like’ to see the older men- railing against the young girl [the lesbian girl] and shouting in the streets about her being an abomination.
The point being we need to tell people the truth about what is in the bible- and what the church [predominantly] teaches- and then avoid ‘going to war’ with people.
As I’m continuing to read different works on philosophy and modernity- I recently came across Daniel Dennet- a contemporary atheist/thinker. Dennet questions the ‘morality’ of teaching morals [religion] to kids. He espouses the question of the whole idea of religious teaching/tradition. Is it ‘right’ to teach ‘what’s right’?
Okay- I’m sure he is a smart man [they tell me so] but he of course is falling into the classic mistake of thinking he can argue from a foundation of ‘oughtness’ while claiming we should not have these types of foundations.
Basically you can’t argue a moral position [is something right- wrong] if you reject the reality of morality itself. This mistake is easily refuted in the field of apologetics. Sam Harris [another contemporary atheist] makes these same arguments.
I found it interesting to hear Governor Cuomo and other supporters of the law- they were oozing with moral language ‘we are proud to be part of the struggle for the rights of all people’ and other language like this. I’m sure these well meaning folk don’t realize they are contradicting their core argument ‘who is society- the church- to say what’s right or wrong!’ And then they say ‘it’s wrong for them to think that way’.
Okay- I hope you see the point. Immanuel Kant saw this some 300 years ago when the ‘age of reason’ was just taking off. Many thinkers of his day began questioning the wisdom of having religion/morality as part of the fabric of society. Kant recognized the need for the basic idea of right and wrong [What he called ‘oughtness’ you know what you ought to do] and even though he disagreed with Descartes’- he did not believe you could ultimately prove God through reason- yet he saw the need for ‘God’ to exist in the fabric of human society- in his mind there had to be an ultimate judge who could carry out justice- and there had to exist a basic idea of what you should and should not do.
These debates are long and can go on forever.
In Matthew 13 Jesus gave us a story about Gods kingdom. He said it’s like a field. A farmer goes out and plants good seed. Then when everyone was sleeping- an enemy went out and planted ‘bad seed’.
When the plants came up- his workers asked if they should go out and pull all the bad crop out. The boss said no- just leave them alone- in the final harvest he will deal with them- but it wasn’t their job to go pull them out prematurely.
Sometimes we [the church] are like the workers- we see ‘bad seed’ things that we recognize are not healthy for the field- we think ‘let’s go dig them out’. But God says ‘I’ll deal with the bad seed in my time- if you think it’s your job to go around pulling up all the bad weeds- you might hurt some good wheat too’.
I in no way ‘rejoice’ over the N.Y. vote- but I feel no urge to go ‘pull the bad seed out’ some of what we think is bad- might turn out to be good in the end.
 THE FIG TREE
Let’s do a little more on Eschatology [end times stuff] today. Over the last few weeks these things have been in the news because of the Harold Camping prediction and you have heard various news folk- as well as believers giving their slant to all the popular verses that deal with the subject.
Some media people were quoting ‘no one knows when the last day will happen- not even the Son, only God’. Then you have had a few other popular verses seep into the flow. The main portions of the bible that deal with the end times are Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. John’s gospel does not have an ‘end times’ discourse- possibly because he covers the subject in length in the book of Revelation.
The main gospel on the subject is Matthew- Mark’s gospel seems to be a shorter compilation possibly taken from Matthew. By ‘taken’ I mean Mark was a scribe/recorder- he was the personality we see in the book of Acts- John Mark. If you remember- he had a falling out with the Apostle Paul and Mark ‘went home’ while Paul took Silas and they embarked on the great missionary journeys of the Apostle.
You don’t hear that much about Mark after the ‘falling out’ but we know that Mark would later pen the 2nd gospel and he was also a recorder [secretary] for the Apostle Peter [might be important to remember this- if I get to it?]
So anyway mark seems to have borrowed from Matthew [some scholars think the familiarity between the gospels should be attributed to another unknown common source- referred to as Q- I prefer to simply see it as the writers being familiar with what the other writers were writing- and in the 1st century you did not have Plagiarism as we do today- where it would be illegal to copy something verbatim from another writer- that’s why Mark- who also probably penned 2nd Peter- not as a Plagiarist who used Pseudepigraphy- writings by authors who pretended to be someone else- but as a scribe who was familiar with the other source documents of the time. 2nd Peter has come under scrutiny because chapter 2 seems to have borrowed heavily from the letter of Jude. At some spots it looks like a direct copy. But as Peter’s scribe- it would not have been out of the ordinary to have included- verbatim- a passage from Jude and to have attributed the entire letter to Peter. Or Peter might have simply been familiar with Jude's letter and it would not have been wrong according to 1st century writing standards to have done this. But skeptics in our day try to use this to say the bible is a forgery- so that’s why it’s important to be familiar with the debate and to have a good response.]
Okay-lets at least try and start a little end times stuff. Matthews 24 begins with Jesus and the disciples walking away from the Temple and Jesus says ‘see all these buildings- truly I tell you that there will not be left one stone on top of another’.
The disciples then ask Jesus ‘when will this happen- and what will be the sign of the end of the age/world, and the sign of your coming’. Now- this sets the stage for the entire scope of the answer. Jesus told them one thing ‘the temples coming down some day’ and they ask a few things.
Some scholars believe that the entire answer Jesus gives- about the end of the world and the coming tribulation- some teach that all these things did happen by A.D. 70- that’s when the Roman general Titus [future emperor] attacked the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Jesus prediction about ‘one stone not being left on another’ was fulfilled to the tee because the temple stones were overlaid with Gold and the looters burned the stones to melt the gold and in the process they literally laid every stone out.
In the Matthew discourse Jesus also warned the disciples that ‘when you see these things beginning to happen- let those in the city flee to the mountains’. As Titus made his way towards Jerusalem some early communities took his words literally and did use the mountains as a place for protection. The community at Qumran hid their writings in ‘the mountains’ that overlooked the Dead Sea- some 2 thousand years later these writings [scrolls] would be discovered- those are the Dead Sea Scrolls of today- one of the greatest archeological finds of history.
And there were Jewish believers at Jerusalem who did indeed flee to the mountains and they escaped the slaughter. So there certainly were things that Jesus spoke about in his 'end times’ teaching that were fulfilled in the 1st century.
But what about the other famous portions? As various media persons were quoting a few famous parts of this discourse [this is the 4th famous discourse known as the Olivet discourse in Matthew- 5 famous long sections of Jesus’ teaching] it would help us to know the entire context of the discourse [which includes chapter 25 by the way].
One of the famous verses is ‘when you see the fig tree putting forth leaves- you know that summer is near- so when you see these signs you know the end is near’. In American evangelicalism this verse has been made popular by men like Hal Lindsay who teach that the fig tree is ALWAYS a symbol for the nation of Israel and therefore Jesus was saying that when Israel becomes a nation again [which happened in 1948] that within ‘a generation’ the end will happen.
This view uses a few other verses to come to this conclusion. Jesus famous ‘this generation will not pass away until all these things happen’ and a few other scriptures. Simply reading the chapter in context does not seem to be saying this at all. The parallel passage in Luke says ‘and all the trees’. It seems like Jesus is simply saying ‘just like when you see a tree blossom- so when you see these signs know that the time is near’.
There really is nothing in the actual text to indicate that this is speaking about 1948. But because of these verses having been used like this many preachers have tried to date the coming of Christ within ‘the generation’ from1948. Lindsey put out a book saying that 1988 was a ‘special time’ why 88? 1988 was 40 years [biblical generation] from 1948. Then some changed the biblical generation to 70 years- which makes this decade real important.
The problem with all these dates is there based on a faulty premise- that Jesus was saying that within a generation of the ‘fig tree blooming’ the 2nd coming will take place- he never said that. As far as I can tell 1948 plays no significant role. Of course Israel becoming a nation again at that time was a great thing- but as a date to begin setting off some type of spiritual clock- that’s not in the bible.
Okay- maybe I’ll do a few more of these over the next few days. Try and read these chapters the next few days and get a feel for the overall meaning [the context] when we become familiar with the overall meaning of the passage- it keeps us from getting lost in the Fig Tree ones.
 THE BIBLE IS NOT 6 THOUSAND YEARS OLD!
I should start an entire blog section called ‘THE CRITIQUE OF MSNBC’, but then maybe that would be giving them a little too much free advertising. Okay- let’s start off with the other night- Chris Matthews was in L.A. and they were covering politics. He goes into this rant on Sarah Palin- saying she has made no efforts to get a simple education. That if she was a serious candidate for higher office then she should at least have spent the last few years reading papers- or getting some basic elementary school type education; history, geography, etc.
He was dead serious. He then interviews a woman liberal- who even though she seems to be on the same side of the aisle as Matthews- even the look on her face was ‘I can’t believe this guy gets away with stuff like this on national T.V.’.
First- I am no fan of Palin. I don’t think she should run for president- nor would I vote for her. But for a male TV personality to regularly accuse the woman of being an uneducated ignoramus- to the point where he actually portrays her in such a demeaning way- it’s unbelievable.
Sarah Palin became the governor of Alaska and held an executive position that was noble. She did indeed drop out- which did make her look bad- but to portray her in a light that says she does not possess an elementary knowledge of anything- it’s totally demeaning- and I think liberal women should at least tell the guy that his demeaning, never ending portrayals of her should end.
Okay- in the rant of Matthews- he mentioned her Christian belief [evangelical, who attended an Assembly of God church for a while] how she [along with all others of this stripe] are actually idiots- because they believe the bible- they reject ‘science’ [evolution] and they believe- quote- the ‘bible is 6 thousand years old’. He said this multiple times.
Now- as much as I defend Catholics on my site- I have had to correct the Catholic misinterpretations of MSNBC hosts on a number of occasions. Do Evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants- Orthodox Christians believe ‘the bible is 6 thousand years old’? No. So what in the heck is he talking about? He is trying to say that some fundamentalist Christians think the EARTH and the history of man is 6 thousand years old. Big difference.
Most Christians agree that the first 5 books of the bible [Pentateuch, Torah] were written by Moses [big debate in theological circles- but most believe Mosaic authorship]. Now- Moses lived around 12- 1400 years before Christ. Some real liberal scholars date the authorship of Genesis around 1- 3 hundred years before Christ. This view holds to the idea that the Jewish people ‘made up’ the history of the Old Testament as a sort of cultural way to deal with their captivity [ under Babylon, Rome, etc.] and that the Old Testament was written at that time.
Most serious scholars reject this idea. So anyway if Moses is generally believed to have written the first 5 books- that would mean that most Christians [including Palin’s brand] believe the bible is around 32-34 hundred years old- not 6 thousand.
I want to be careful here- I grew up in N.J. and over the years have come to appreciate the area of my youth more and more. Why? After studying world [and U.S.] history for many years- you see the North East as being at the heart of the American heritage.
One of the first history books I bought after moving to Corpus Christi [a cheap book sale in one of our malls] was on the Puritans- and after reading all the history taking place in my old stomping grounds- I became a lifelong student of the area.
Okay- one of the problems I see with my old area- is there can be an elitist mindset among some intellectuals [even fake intellectuals]. The mindset often expresses itself in the way liberals speak about other ‘less informed’ folk. I had a conversation one time with a person who was mocking Palin- the person said ‘she is such an idiot- she said you could see Russia from her house’. Now- as a big political watcher myself- I knew this actual quote was wrong.
Palin actually said ‘did you know you can see certain parts of Russia from Alaska’. The person I was talking to absolutely denied this- she said that she personally heard her say it. I informed the person that this actually has become a modern urban myth- that the Tina Fey skit on SNL was where the fake quote came from- that the real quote was the Russia being seen from Alaska quote- not ‘my house’. So- as most liberals [and yes- conservatives too] we are usually not willing to admit that we are wrong- especially during a tirade of exposing the other side as ignoramuses.
So we left it at that. In all of our learning in life- it’s important to try and view the opposing side as favorably as possible. I not only do not believe the ‘bible is 6 thousand years old’ but I also do not believe the earth is 6 thousand years old. I believe Dinosaurs are real [were!]. I believe that there are certain aspects of Evolution that are indeed true- for instance the ‘survival of the fittest’ is indeed a true scientific fact.
The reality is that species do change and adapt over time- yet the ‘other reality’ is we have never- not once- been able to verify this happening between species of living things. That is the theory of Darwin says this is how all the species arrived on the planet- from one common living cell. Science does not show this to have happened- either in the natural environment- or in the laboratory.
So science shows us that Natural Selection does indeed happen- but it does not happen [as far as science goes] between species. As a matter of fact- if a person just went with the current understanding of time and matter commonly held by most scientists- you would not at all have the picture that Darwin painted. Modern science says the earth is a little over 4 billion years old. For the first 3.5 billion years we have no record [Fossil] of complex structures being on the earth.
Our geologic history says complex life structures appeared during the Cambrian era [500 million years ago- referred to as the Cambrian Explosion] and that even according to the Evolutionary scientists- 500 million years is not enough time for Evolution to have happened.
You basically would have needed the Evolutionary process to have started during the first few hundred million years of earth’s history- not the last.
But the average ‘mocker of evangelicals’ has no idea about any of this- he just says ‘they think the bible is 6 thousand years old’. So it would do us all some good if we came to the table with a little more humility. Christianity has a long and deep heritage of wisdom.
Much of this heritage comes to us from the Catholic Church [of which Matthews is a member]. There are many believers who have made great strides in our understanding of creation and existence. Even many fundamentalists accept the idea that the earth is billions- not thousands of years old. So let’s try and have an honest conversation in this country- if I disagree with your politics- then let me make my case and you make yours. But if I degrade you- either by doubting your birth certificate- or by constantly portraying you as an idiot- who lacks a grade school education- well that gets us nowhere.
 I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE-
The other night I had a weird dream- 2 young guys showed up at my door. They rang the bell and as I opened the door one of the boys said ‘John, do you remember me’. Now- to be honest this has happened lots thru out my life. At the Fire House I would often show up for shift in the morning and the off going shift would say ‘John- one of your convict buddies stopped by yesterday’ [they eventually caught on that lots of the guys I worked with at the jail/prisons knew where they could find me when they got out- and they figured they would catch me at the Fire House].
So stuff like this has happened lots- and there are times when I simply don’t remember who the guy’s are- if you give a bible study 5 years previously- they might remember you- but you might not remember them. So in my dream I told the kid [around 19 years old] ‘to be honest I don’t really remember you- just a little’ [Yes- I admit at times I have said ‘yeah- I think’ just so I wouldn’t offend the brothers].
The boy tells me that I did indeed help him and he won’t forget it. So I fellowshipped a little while. Then the boy asks a strange request ‘John- will you draw me a picture’. Sure- it seemed like something a young boy would ask- but why not. So I drew a picture of the beach and us just sitting there- like Father and son- and he asked me to sign it for him. I gave him the simple request and he seemed like a little boy getting a present from his dad. He talked a little more and as he began to leave he told me his name. He said ‘I’m Texas Ruiz’. And he left.
As I woke up [around 3 a.m.] I didn’t think too much about it. As I started the coffee, getting ready to go in the yard to pray. I remembered who Texas Ruiz was. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I pray for the cases I see in the paper- or on the news- the severe cases of crimes that have been committed. I have a wall of names [around 30 or so] that I paint the names of these people on. They will forever be on my prayer list- so I try and pick cases where the criminal [or victim] has a long lasting result/penalty- so as I pray for them over the years they can benefit from it.
One of the cases was a local one- here in Corpus Christi. The stepdad called 911 and his stepson [around 1 year old] had died. At 1st they thought it was from some natural cause- then they found out the step dad abused the boy and he died from this abuse. I saw the boy on T.V. a lot- being it was local. As Protestants we usually don’t pray for the people who have died- but I actually have felt the Lord challenge me about this over these last few years- and I do pray for the victims sometimes, even though they are dead. When I saw the boy on TV I would just raise my hand towards him and pray that God would be with his soul- I felt real bad for the kid. I did this a few times over about a week. I felt like a ‘dad’ to the kid- just praying for him. The boys name was Texas Ruiz.
There is a verse in Ezekiel 37- God says ‘in the day I raise you up and bring you back from the dead- in that day you will know that I am God’. I wrote this verse down on an ongoing journal type thing- every week I add whatever verse/book I’m studying from- whatever I feel might be significant. So I stuck this verse on the top of the page. A few days went by and I wrote the dream on the same page- I felt it was significant so I wrote it down.
After a few days- while reviewing the page- I saw that on the top it said ‘in the day I bring you back from the grave’ and in the dream- yes one of ‘our people’ did come back- it freaked me out.
In John’s gospel, chapter 11, we read of the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters- Martha and Mary- are good friends of Jesus. They lived in a little town named Bethany [the name of my oldest daughter] and for the Jewish people to openly embrace Jesus at the time- it was a sacrifice. Many of the religious leaders already had turned against Jesus.
So one day Lazarus gets real sick and the sisters send word to Jesus ‘Lazarus- your friend- is sick’. Now- Jesus is going all over the place- healing sick people- opening blind eyes- multiplying bread and fish. I mean the sisters must have thought ‘well- at least all the flack we’ve taken over openly befriending Jesus will finally pay off’. But when Jesus hears about Lazarus the bible says he purposefully waited 2 extra days before heading towards Bethany.
Now- after a few days Lazarus did indeed die. The sisters are mad- ‘wow- he healed all these others- strangers- yet no time for us’. When he gets to the outskirts of town Martha goes out to see him ‘Jesus- why didn’t you come? You could have prevented this from happening’. Eventually Mary says the same thing to him. Jesus tells them ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
The sisters only saw Jesus thru the lens of ‘why didn't you fix the problem when it was still possible’ Jesus was saying ‘it’s still possible’. He was telling them ‘Just because the thing you thought I would do- in life- didn’t happen yet- I can still overcome the devastation that it has caused you’. Jesus of course will raise their brother- it becomes a huge miracle to the point where the religious leaders conspire to kill Lazarus too- because so many Jewish people begin believing in Jesus because of this miracle.
In Ezekiel 37 God told Ezekiel [and the nation of Israel] ‘in the day I bring you back from the dead- in that day you will know I am God’. Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. A real event that took place in time and has stood the test of historical examination [too much to cover right now- but take my word for it- the evidence is overwhelming].
Sometimes we are like the sisters of Lazarus- we expected God to prevent the disaster from happening ‘Lord- if you were here this would not have happened’. The test of faith is to continue to believe- even on the other side of the disaster. The problem with Mary and Martha was they felt like Jesus simply did not come thru in time- they heard all these great stories about how Jesus helped all these others- yet they sat at home- with a dead brother and a funeral to attend.
Today I want to challenge you- are you like the sisters? Did God not prevent the disaster from happening? Did he not do for you what he did for the others? You might not see the ultimate ‘healing’ until the resurrection- the ‘last day’- but be assured- in the day he raises you from the dead- you will know that he is God.
 THE APOSTLE-
Got up early yesterday and decided to take a drive thru the old towns that I used to drive thru on my way to work. I used to pass up this historic community, German Catholics [the name of the town is Violet] but I never stopped to check out the little area where they live. They still have the original historic church they built in 1906- it’s closed down but it sits right next to a more modern one. It was cool seeing this old community- though I drove past it hundreds of times- it was nice to finally stop.
As I continued my tour I hit Robstown- another town I have driven past lots- have also been there lots of times as well. As I drove thru the main street I saw a few Pentecostal Revival tents set up- the signs had various bible verses on them. I also noticed some signs along the main road that simply said ‘Robstown for Jesus’. I of course didn’t mind seeing it- but I had the sense that some of the ‘more refined’ locals probably cringe at seeing the signs right off their main road. Often times Real Estate people don’t appreciate anything that might turn off a potential buyer.
I finished my tour by heading back to Corpus. I thought about the movie The Apostle [Duvall]. It’s one of my favorites- Duvall sort of documents the experience of a typical southern Pentecostal preacher who winds up killing his wife’s new boyfriend by accident. The story line traces the redemption of the title character and how he eventually gets busted and pays his dues. I heard Duvall talk about doing research for the movie and all- how he always was fascinated with the independent southern protestant type preachers and he had great respect for them. And I liked the overall ecumenical spirit of the movie- at one point Duvall is traveling thru an area [Louisiana?] and he sees this Catholic procession and simply says ‘they do it their way- I do it mine- but we all get the job done’.
We all have our own biases and prejudices- it’s foolish to deny that- but it helps if we simply try and view other people/groups in the best possible light. Sure- at the end of the day we will still have our disagreements, but we might also learn from each other. I remember when first reading thru the bible and attending one of Duvall’s type churches- one of the big verses we hit on was when Jesus says ‘don’t call any man on earth Father- for you have one Father- God’. We used to use this one to blast Catholics. Was Jesus talking about Catholics? Besides the fact that officially the church really didn’t exist yet- we also read the apostle Paul referring to himself as Father when writing the Corinthian church- he says ‘you have ten thousand teachers but I am your father in the gospel- I begat you thru the gospel’. Paul was the ‘spiritual Father’ of the Corinthian church [community]. Paul was an Apostle and the gift of an Apostle is like being a spiritual father.
So what gives- was Paul violating Jesus’ teaching? In the 1st century when Jesus was speaking you had the Jewish religion- Judaism- that had splintered into various sects [groups]. You could say ‘I follow rabbi so and so’ these different sects- and those who adhered to them- were said to be under the Father [Rabbi] of that school. In essence Jesus was simply rebuking the Party spirit- that thing that Paul himself rebuked the Corinthians for. Some of them said they followed Paul, others Apollo’s, etc. So a little bit of historical context- and we have our answer. But as a new believer who was zealous for the bible- I really had not time for all that stuff- I just read ‘don’t call anyone Father’ and that was that.
My short ride was enlightening- I saw the historic German community who brought their faith to this continent over a hundred years ago- sure they have ‘their way’ of doing it- like Duvall said. I also saw the Pentecostal revival meeting- with the classic tent and all [just like in Duvall’s flick] and they were proudly proclaiming Christ. Some feel we need to rid society of all vestiges of religious faith- they look to radical Islam- or to the Pro Lifer’s and say ‘we just need to get rid of the whole bunch’. One of the most popular thinkers of the last century was a man by the name of John Paul Sartre- he followed in the field of thinkers that are referred to as Existentialist’s. Sartre was an atheist- though the ‘father’ of existentialism was a Christian [Soren Kierkegaard- 1800’s].
Existentialism is a philosophy that says there is more than just head knowledge- pure rationalistic approaches to God and life. Kierkegaard wrote his famous book Fear and Trembling- he talked about how when God told Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice- that Abraham had to rise above pure rational thought [God says ‘don’t kill’ and yet he’s asking me to kill my son]. Kierkegaard says true faith rises above rational thought and embraces God in an experiential way.
Sartre wrote a few books too. Titles; Nausea, No Exit, Being and Nothingness. He was famous for saying ‘Man is a useless passion’. Jesus warned of the danger of looking to human systems and saying ‘father’ that is choosing any system of man [like atheism] over and above the Fatherhood of God. You might be part of the Catholic community of Violet that brought their faith to the area over a century ago- or maybe your more comfortable ‘under the tent’ with my Pentecostal friends- either way the job gets done. But you do need to find a ‘tent’ a community that embraces the reality of God- because if you place yourself outside the tent- then according to Sartre- you are a useless passion.
 RADIO WARS and some other stuff.
Okay, confession time again. Every so often I admit a fault, yes- I face the blog community and do the ‘I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters- that I have sinned …’ my Catholic readers know the scoop. Catholics have a pretty good track record on confession- they confess to another person every so often. Most Protestants don’t realize that the original Protestant movement that was launched in the 16th century- these reformers did not have a big problem with confessing to a Priest. The book of James [in the New Testament] speaks about confessing to each other- and the Protestants really did not make a big deal over this issue- initially. Later on doctrines like this became a big division- but not initially.
Okay- here’s the confession. Over the years I have battled with my kids over the bathroom radio [my 2 oldest- 18, 19] still live at home and they turn the station to the rock channel when they take showers- now I like rock- classic. My driving around station is the local classic rock channel [104.5]. But in the morning I like the Christian station before I write/speak [record a radio show]. So we go back and forth on it. About a week ago my bathroom radio broke- I had the thing for around 25 years- no joke- I used to record radio shows from the thing [the cassette recorder on top]. So being the frugal person that I am [cheap] instead of breaking down and buying another radio [geez- I only get 25 years out of them!] I go to the garage and work on the one that I have sitting in there for yes- around 25 years. This one has worked all along; you just couldn’t change the dial. You could turn it but it wouldn't always work. So as I’m messing with it I get it to play on a Christian station [air 1- kind of a rock Christian thing- okay] and I actually use the plumbers glue to glue the thing permanently on the station. Now- I’m sure my kids think ‘geez- dad is serious about winning this radio war’ but the truth is if they changed the dial it would be impossible to get back to the station. In the past I wrote little notes on the radio ‘don’t remove this radio!! Ever!!’ They used to take it from the bathroom and I’d never see it for weeks. But they didn’t listen to my notes- in fact they mocked them. Some days I would get ready for the morning shower and the note would say ‘I moved it!’ yes- they put it back- but they took the time to mock my note.
So now I have the radio glued to the Christian rock station [I prefer KLOVE- but Air 1 is okay] and this morning as I’m taking a shower I hear the D. J. say ‘up next- Hanson’. Now- I didn’t even know Hanson [the boy band- now older] was doing Christian music- I felt ‘dirty’ listening to them- not because they were kid rockers- it’s just you can’t claim to be a classic rocker and actually have listened to a complete song from Hanson- in a way it’s like joining a cult. But I had no option- I was in the shower and the song just played. I was surprised- they sounded real good. It reminded me of a story I saw on one of the rock channels one day [VH1 ?] They were talking about Donny Osmond’s break into the hard rock world. He was trying to shake the squeaky clean image and made some good heavy metal type songs. They said the songs were good- one of them [Soldier of Love] made it into the top 10 rock songs of the day [in the 70’s]. Yet when the rock stations played the song they would simply say ‘by an unknown artist’ they knew their listeners would rebel if they heard a Donny Osmond song. So that’s my confession- yes- a few minutes ago I was rocking out with Hanson- just hope none of my buddies find out about this.
Okay- being I already wasted all this space- let me hit a few short things. I just finished the book of Proverbs again [reading it slowly over a few weeks] and there were a lot of points I wanted to hit- maybe the next week or 2 I’ll get to some. I just started a new book on Philosophy- I picked it up a few months ago at half price books and never looked at it until last night- I like it a lot. I know the subject is controversial- many Christians shy away from it- but if you study history [like I do a lot] you will see the strong connection between philosophy and theology [study of God]. In the ancient universities [Paris- etc.] these were referred to as the main subjects- Theology was the Queen of learning and philosophy was her handmaid.
So let me just give a short quote- Socrates said ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. Philosophy- as a system- started around 6oo years before Christ in Greek society. The popular guys we hear about- Socrates, Plato and Aristotle- they lived around 3-350 years before Christ. Christian teachers have taken different stances for and against philosophy. The church father Tertullian said ‘what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem’ meaning philosophy and Christian teaching don’t go together. Yet the great Swiss reformer- Ulrich Zwingli [16th century] was a well schooled theologian- learned in many of the subjects of his day- like the great Catholic scholar Erasmus. These guys were a little more refined [though Zwingli was actually a warrior- killed for the cause] and they saw the Greek philosophers as precursors to Christ- Zwingli believed he would see the great Greek philosophers in heaven some day. So as you see the church has taken different stances on the subject. It’s hard to say that philosophy had no role on Christian thought- many Christians don’t realize that the apostle John almost quoted verbatim from Greek philosophy when he used the phrase ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God’ [John’s gospel- chapter 1]. In Greek philosophy there was what was considered this ultimate unified principle- that would bring all learning together as one giant truth- this was called Logos- the Word. Greek philosophy had been looking for the Word [Logos] for years- trying to find the one key truth that would tie all other truth together- John was simply saying to Greek society ‘Look- we have found the Truth- the Divine principle that you have been looking for’. So for John to quote this in his gospel was not plagiarism [as some atheists contend] but wisdom- he was speaking to the people in ways that would connect with them. Yes- because scripture is Divine- Inspired- we believe Jesus is very much The Word- the one who proceeds from God- but we also realize that in a sense John borrowed this form of words from the Greek philosophers- nothing wrong with it.
Okay- that’s it for today- I hope you guys always pick something up that sticks with you- you know a little nugget of wisdom that in 30 years from now if I see some of you at an old school reunion you can walk up to me and say ‘John- Jesus is the Word of God’ something that I will be proud about. O wait- just had a thought- if someone walks up and says ‘John- I hear you like Hanson’ I will respond ‘Who’s John?’
 EPISTEMOLOGY- Lets do a little more on how we learn- know stuff. The actual ‘study’ of how we know things is called Epistemology. Today’s popular movement is called Post Modernism- a challenge to the classical idea of Modernism. The classical way of looking at knowledge said there are things that are ‘really true’ and things that are not- this is called Objective Truth. The Post Moderns say words are limited [true to a degree] and because words are simply vehicles that transmit ideas that are not really ‘true’ in the classical sense, then it is wrong for one group [like Christians] to say to another group [non- Christians] that Jesus is the Way- Truth and Life [Johns gospel]. So the battle lines are drawn. It should be noted that a growing number of believers are describing themselves as Post Modern and they argue that it is possible to be Christian and Post Modern at the same time. Okay- as more of the classical type- I believe it is possible to get to objective truth- that the pursuit of what’s true is not a vain pursuit- and yes- though we are all limited in our understanding, yet to even have this conversation requires an element of Absolute Truth. If the Post Modernist says ‘words have no objective truth- only relative truth- they only convey what the hearer decides they convey’ then I can say ‘Oh- so if I take your words to mean there is such a thing as objective truth- that’s okay’? O know you idiot- you’re not hearing what I’m saying! So you see that the Post modernist needs his words to mean something- to convey a specific thing to the hearer- if the hearer can make the words mean whatever he wants- then you can’t even engage in the discussion- got it? So anyway- as I’m thinking about scrapping my Islam course [and just teaching it from stuff I learned myself- in the immortal words of defense secy. Bob Gates ‘on the fly’] I do want to utilize whatever objective truth I can pick up along the way- while at the same time realizing all people have their own biases and we need to listen with a careful skepticism. I ordered a course on Physics a while back- good course- but the instructor- though smart- made a classic mistake in Logic as he taught the course. He often said ‘the universe was created BY CHANCE’. Now- as a purely grammatical- logical argument- this incorrect [a fallacy]. Why? What he really means to say is ‘there are unknown causes in the universe that created the effect of existence- we do not know what these causes are- but we believe that thru a series of actions- which have no particular direction [chance] these unknown causes have caused the effect of the universe’. Okay- I don’t want to be nitpicky- but when I hear an intelligent person say ‘everything was made BY CHANCE’ and for him to get away with this without a rigorous challenge- then the Christian thinker has failed in his task to challenge the skeptic on his own terms- to show that even though the person may be an expert in his field [Physics] yet this does not mean he can get away with fallacious arguments- arguments that are invalid from the get go. So as we progress over the coming weeks/months on the various fields of study- we want to be open to learn from others who have specialized in their particular fields of study- we want to be open minded enough to learn from people who reject the faith- yes atheists can teach us things- there are areas of knowledge that all people have that can benefit the rest of us. And we want to weigh all things that we hear- we all make mistakes- and are susceptible to error. Just because my Physics ‘teacher’ screwed up in a classic way- a way that most apologists recognize right off the bat- I mean you have to be an amateur ‘arguer’ of truth to make this type of mistake- yet I didn’t reject the entire course- I still learned valuable insights from the man. So I think this is the best approach to take- listen to all sides of a matter- doubt the things that seem a little off- do some research- check into it yourself- and at the end of the day let a variety of sources be your pool of knowledge- don’t just rely on one source. Proverbs says ‘In the multitude of counselors there is safety’. Be sure you’re listening/hearing from the multitude [broad range of thought and learning] because often times single sources can be right in one area- and off in another.
 CHRIST CHURCH? A few weeks back I was going to write a post from the words of St. Peter found in the New Testament ‘The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God [Christ’s church= house of God] and if it starts there- what will the outcome be for the rest of the world?’ [paraphrased it]. Right after the ‘thought’ the major events off the coast of Japan hit and we have this trilogy of disasters to deal with [Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear meltdown]. I did find it ‘strange’ that the recent events started with Christ Church New Zealand- and seemed to spread from there. I heard a Geologist the other night- he had previously predicted the earthquake that hit Ca. during the World Series a few years ago. He said the sign of the dead fish recently washing up in Ca. was not a coincidence- he said the fish can sense a change in the earth’s magnetic field [prior to an earthquake] and that in Japan these fish kills are actually called ‘earthquake fish’. Wow. You do hear lots of talking heads during these types of events- yet it would be nice to know the truth on these types of things. The last year or 2 we had earthquakes along the Pacific Rim; Chile, New Zealand and of course Japan. If you look on a map you see the Pacific Ocean and you can draw a circle around the perimeter- the part that affects us is the West coast- so they already have a run on Iodide pills [fear of the radiation crossing the Pacific from Japan] and some are predicting an earthquake. The other night I caught a quick news flash of Saudi Arabia sending troops into Bahrain to fight back against the protestors- as it flashed by quickly- I said ‘geez- this is a major event- and it’s getting lost in the media frenzy’. Then O’Reilly spent 15 minutes on a real important life changing story- a stripper who works with a snake- the snake bit the woman on her breast- the snake died from the silicone from the breast implant. Another news show spent almost the whole hour on sports- even the president did another March madness prediction- at a time when the world has protestors in the streets- who thought we would help them [Libya] and they are actually saying ‘Obama- where are you- where’s Bush?’ Now- whatever your view is on intervening [no fly zone- etc.] the fact is if the feeling around the globe is that we are not taking these things seriously enough- then the image of the president doing March Madness picks does not look good. So what do we make of it all? When Peter said ‘judgment must 1st start at Gods house’ he of course was not directly talking about the city of Christ Church, New Zealand. Yet in a prophetic sort of way- these types of things can be signs of what’s to come. One of the important developments has been the fact that the Arab/Persian nations have indeed chosen to ignore the pleas from the U.S. to go easy on the protestors- and they simply have said ‘screw you- look at what you did to Egypt- we are gonna go the Gadhafi route’ [to a degree]. Saudi Arabia crossing into Bahrain- a small Persian Gulf nation where we have lot of troops stationed [and the 5th fleet docked] is a major development. The markets [both Asian and U.S.] have fallen over the fears that the Nuke disaster is already as bad as Chernobyl- and the unrest in the Middle East and Africa is not getting better. So we pray- we show the world that we don’t just throw our hands up and say ‘the end of the world is here’ but we also recognize it is in mans nature to deny the reality of judgment- the reality that mankind faces times where things build up and the planet suffers for it. In the 19th century there was a movement in Christian theology called ‘Liberal theology’- not liberal in politics- but a whole genre of teaching/thought that challenged a lot of the ‘old time’ beliefs [like original sin] and focused on the ability of modern man to rise above the ignorance of the past [even in religious thought] and man was on the road to a true Utopian society that would never fail. This belief was strong- both in the universities of Germany as well as in the politics of the Western world. Then you had the world wars- 8 million people killed in the first one- and 50 million in the 2nd one. Men like Karl Barth [a Swiss theologian- teacher] would challenge the liberal view of mans ‘inner divinity’ and he would blast the Christian world with his famous ‘the epistle to the Romans’ his commentary on Paul’s famous treatise- released in 1918. Though Barth is what some describe as 'Neo- Orthodox’ [the strong Reformed teachers don’t appreciate Barth very much] yet he did bring the church back to the biblical doctrines of original sin and mans inability to ‘save himself’. Barth saw the reality of the WW1 and rejected the Utopian belief that man was so advanced that he would reach for the sky- and grab it! Today we see lots of shaking in the world- some are focused on March madness- some find it profitable to do a story on a stripper- we need to keep our eyes [and bibles] open- mankind is in need of God- man has gone thru stages where he thought the ‘old belief’ in God would fall away- to the contrary- the govt’s of man [apart from God] seem to be the thing that’s falling away.
 ARE THE JAPANESE DISPROVING FREUD? One of the narratives coming from the Japan disaster is the response of the Japanese people. In contrast to our Katrina tragedy the Japanese are very self reliant. Jack Cafferty [CNN] read an email from some elderly lady who contrasted the 2 responses. She called the Louisiana residents who looted, killed, complained and wined- she said ‘those scumbags’ [ouch!] What are we seeing in the Japanese people? The media are referring to them as Stoic’s- the philosophy [ancient Greek- one of only 2 philosophies mentioned by name in the bible- Acts chapter 17 mentions the Stoic’s and Epicureanism] that said the secret to life is living on an even plane. Don’t get too ‘up’ or too down- just ride the wave of life as moderately as you can. The other side of the coin is Hedonism- the philosophy of men like Freud- who taught that the problem with man is that he is taught to restrain himself [by religion] and that this restraint is itself a product of neurosis. Freud was a strange fellow, the father of modern Psychoanalysis; his ideas were actually quite weird. As a Jew [non practicing] he embraced the higher criticism of his day [a way of interpreting the bible as not being actually true- just good stories] and he sought to come up with an explanation for mans religious bent. So he came up with the idea of the Oedipal Complex- a strange view of man that said the real problems of man are they have this view of love and hate for the father figure- and the ‘real’ story of Moses and the children of Israel was the Jews killed Moses in the wilderness [hatred for the father figure] they then felt guilty about it- and out of this guilt they would eventually develop a ‘religion of the Son’ [Christianity] and Walla- that’s the real story. You would be surprised how many people hear silly stuff like this in life [or college!] and they never give it a second thought. Like Pope Benedict says in ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ [1st book of a trilogy on the life of Christ] he mentions the theories of the critics [men like Bultmann] and he then responds ‘and how do you know this’? Bultmann [one of the famous liberal theologians of the day] would come up with ideas like this- and he would just espouse them. The funny thing about these critics was they were trying to challenge the historical accuracy of the bible- are the gospels true- stuff like that. And in their challenge they would ‘make up’ their own stuff [Oedipal complex] and simply expect everyone to believe it. So Freud taught that we need to free man from this neurosis of religion- this thing in society that says ‘restrain yourself’ and if we teach man to do and be all that he feels like doing- then we will have healed him of this destructive religious belief that developed out of a secret love/hate relationship of father. Wow. I can think of no greater philosophy to not live your life by than that. How did the Freudian experiment turn out? It was/is a disaster- I’m not just saying this as a Christian who rejects Freud’s atheism- but many of his ideas have also been roundly rejected by the psychologists of the modern day. Freud actually taught that when you counsel a person [yes- he was the originator of the idea of the patient lying on the couch while the counselor listens] that the patient is ‘transmitting’ psychic energy from himself to the doctor- and that’s what makes him better. Freud wrote Moses and Monotheism [his fictional account of the origins of Judaism/Christianity] Totem and Taboo- the fictional idea of the primitive religion of man- and Civilization and it’s Discontents, his explanation of the conflict between mans psychic life and the demands of society. The basic view of Freud [Hedonism] is a failed system that does not work in the real world. To live your life based on the philosophy of ‘if it feels good- do it’ does not work in any area of life- for the long term. In food, shopping, family life, marriage, sexual expression- the basic principle of self restraint and discipline [the Japanese response] is in great contrast to the ‘unrestrained’ view of life [as seen in some of the Katrina response- many of the looters and rioters were raised with a welfare mentality- they were dependant on the state/govt. to do things for them. When things went bad- they blamed the govt. for it]. In the end of the day- the society that practices self discipline- that teaches their children to be self reliant- those are the ones who have the most successful lives. Those who practice Hedonism blame stuff on everyone else.
 EXODUS 34- This chapter is real important- God tells Moses to come back up into the mountain to receive the 2nd set of the 10 commandments. Moses actually broke the 1st set- when he came down from the mountain the 1st time with the 2 tablets- he saw the people rebelling [the story of worshipping the golden calf and all] and when he saw it he flipped out [yes- Moses had an anger problem- it eventually kept him from going into the promised land] and broke the tablets. So in this chapter he goes up for the 2nd time and God writes on the tablets again. I see this as a spiritual symbol of Jesus and the New Covenant. Jesus is called the mediator of the New Covenant- a 2nd covenant that is better than the 1st [Hebrews] so this ‘2nd set’ of commandments can be a type of the 2nd law. Now Moses speaks to the people- and he doesn’t realize that his face is shining. So after he speaks with the people- he puts a veil on his face until he goes to meet with God again. Each time he meets with God- he comes back- talks with the people- and puts the veil on. In 2nd Corinthians chapter 3 the apostle Paul says this is an example of the blindness of natural Israel- that is they don’t fully see Jesus as the Messiah. As a Jew himself- Paul wanted his fellow Jews to also believe in the messiah [Romans 9-10] and he did all he could to argue for the reality of Jesus as being the Messiah [read the sermons in the book of Act’s] so Paul says the Jewish people [his own nation/people] have a sort of spiritual veil over their faces [actually it covers Moses face- a type of Jesus. Meaning Jesus is right there- in front of them, but they see a figure- but are unable to truly see his identity- sort of like a man wearing a veil]. So Paul uses this story to preach Christ. Just like the Manna, just like the Ark, the Tabernacle- as we read Exodus we are really seeing an unveiling of the person and work of Christ.
Okay- as we finish this short study over the next day or 2- let me also try and tie up a few lose ends. Those of you who have been reading this site for a while realize I was in the middle of a few other studies before I jumped into this series- which I will call ‘Insights from a Revolution’. The reason being the Asian/Persian world is on fire- Revolutions- civil wars [Libya] lots of stuff came up. I also finished the Christopher Hitchens book [god is not great- Hitchens is an atheist and I have been reproving him]. For the sake of not wanting to give him any more ‘air time’ than I had to- I stopped correcting his many mistakes [yes- Many!]. I plan on reviewing and critiquing the other ‘new atheists’ in the coming months- Hitchens is considered the smartest of the bunch [Dawkins, Harris, etc.] so I figured if we ‘throw him under the bus’ then we would have taken down the top dog. Let me finish Hitchens by saying the guy is outright mean- calls Mother Theresa ‘a troll’- refers to princess Dianna as a ‘land mine’ [she was known for her international work with getting rid of land mines]. Why? He says ‘there easy to lay- and cause lots of damage’. Hitchens is not a man that anyone should look up to. I felt he was a liar- conniver- snake oil salesman. One last example- he mentions the bible story of the graves of people opening up by an earthquake the day Jesus was crucified- the bible does indeed say this- I have read this many times over the years [in the gospel]. The bible says that AFTER Jesus rose from the dead [3 days later] that the bodies of believers who were in these open graves rose too- a sort of ‘first fruits’ resurrection. The apostle Paul says [1st Corinthians 15] that Jesus resurrection was the ‘first fruits’ you could include this small group of dead saints in with this group [called the 1st fruits]. These believers eventually died again- and will receive their new resurrected bodies at the 2nd coming. Now- why get into this? Hitchens uses this story- and says ‘see- the bible says these saints rose before Jesus- the day he was crucified- this challenges the whole theory that Jesus rose from the dead 1st’. Now- like I said before- Hitchens claims to be a regular bible student- and its stuff like this that causes an alarm bell to go off in my head when I read it. The man is obviously lying- lying for money [a crass seller of books! You know- the same complaint atheists make all the time against believers, money grubbers]. And he uses this actual story- more than once- to prove a point- that is wrong!
There was something else that happened on the day Christ died. In the story of Exodus- when Moses builds the actual tabernacle- he puts this huge veil over a room called ‘the holy of holies’. The tabernacle [little church like structure that held the Ark and stuff] had 2 rooms in it- the 1st room- called the ‘1st room’ [Hebrews 9-10] or the holy place- had the table of showbread, the candlestick- a few other things. Then you had this huge veil covering the 2nd room- called the holy of holies. That’s the room that contained the box [ark] with the 10 commandments in it [I wrote about this in the previous post called ‘don’t look in the box!’]. This room was divided from the 1st room by the veil. So eventually King David would start building the temple- and his son Solomon would finish it. Over the centuries the temple took the place of the tabernacle system. In the temple of Jesus day- built by Herod- it was a magnificent structure- the central place of worship and religion for the Jewish people. In this huge temple there was actually a huge veil- a veil that divided the holy of holies from the 1st room- just like the original tabernacle built by Moses some 1400 years before. The day Jesus died- the bible says ‘the veil of the temple was ripped from the top to the bottom’. God did a miracle [maybe the same earthquake that broke open the graves shook the building and it separated the veil?] and the veil was ripped apart- signifying the reality that because of Jesus death on the Cross we now have open access to God- no more veil. This event is recorded in the history books of Jesus day- Paul says there is coming a time when ‘the veil’ [spiritual blindness of people] will be removed- and people will say ‘wow- now I see it- I never saw it before- but now it makes sense’. Are you still wearing a veil?
 YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION? YOU GOT IT. Okay- history was made yesterday- on the exact anniversary of the Iranian revolution [that didn’t work out so well]. First- I’m glad the people in the square prevailed- I’m on their side and stand in solidarity with them. There are already a few other Facebook pages popping up- DAYS OF RAGE for other countries who are seeking to capitalize on the mood of revolution in the air- it looks like we might really be living in historic times. These events could very well be the defining moment of this century- that which historians will look back on and see as momentous- a defining time. Are there dangers? Yes. There are always dangers when Revolution happens- honest [and dishonest] people on both sides- we [the U.S.] are children of Revolution- if any nation should support these revolts- it should be us! We had dissenters during our season of revolt- some preachers/Christians sided with England- they felt like it was disobeying the bible to ‘Revolt’- there are bible verses that say ‘obey your earthly rulers- listen to the kings and governors- don’t rebel’. Now- that sure does sound problematic if you’re a believer on the revolting side. The apostle Paul wrote this, not under Western Style Democracy- but under Imperial Roman Rule! [ in his letter to the church at ROME!] So how do we join the spirit of freedom and popular revolution with this? Jesus obviously rejected violent revolt [those who live by the sword will die by it] yet he was not against challenging the authorities of the day- non violently standing up to corrupt leaders- and yes- instituting a new revolutionary kingdom- one that would overthrow the ‘kingdoms of this world’ [ The Kingdom of God]. I mean you can’t escape the imagery of revolt and kingdom and righteous dominion [rule] this is the heart and soul of the Kingdom of God. Problem? Well yes- at times [like in our day] many Christians misunderstand the purpose of the Kingdom of God- they [in my view] place too much emphasis on the geographical area of the Holy Land- they develop scenarios that pit Arab/Muslim nations against Israel- and they read the very real Old Testament prophecies thru a lens that says ‘this is God’s word- this ethnic group [Jewish] should posses this area- and this other ethnic group [Palestinian] should get out’. I think when we see the purpose of God and his kingdom thru this lens- we err. But the reality is the bible and the message of Jesus are one of true revolution- peaceful- but revolution nonetheless. The verses Paul wrote are indeed scripture- and they were real practical advice given to the fledgling church in the 1st century- Paul did not want the nascent church to get a reputation of being political rabble rousers- you had what were called Zealots at the time- Jewish political activists who advocated violent overthrow of Roman rule from the Jewish land- and Paul [and Jesus] rejected this idea. So I think if we read the basic instructions from Paul and see the context of the time- that yes- a political revolt was not what the early church needed. But what we are seeing in our day is a possible major realignment of the nations in the Arab [and Persian] world. We are seeing people who have been oppressed by religious theocracies- these people have every right to rebel- to non violently go to the streets and stand in protest to the dictators who have ruthlessly oppressed them for years- these rebels are not criminals- they are non violent protestors who are speaking truth to power- much like what Jesus did. Now- where next? I think we need to do Iran again- I think the president [Obama] thinks this too. Yesterday as he gave a speech after the historic events in Egypt- he spoke to the leadership of Iran and told them ‘let your people also freely protest in your streets’. Now- that message is saying ‘you guys are also gonna fall’- do you really think the Iranian madman thinks ‘well- maybe if we let the people protest- that’s all the president meant’ c’mon- if we thru Mubarak ‘under the bus’ [I’m glad he’s under the bus] there isn’t a snowballs chance in Hades that The mad man from Iran will get a free pass. So yes- lets support all the days of rage that are popping up- lets be on the side of freedom from tyrants and U.S. puppets- the Arab street is smart- they know much more than we give them credit for- and yes- there will be a danger from radical Islamist elements- we should make a distinction between violent and non violent Muslim groups- but even groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that have rejected violence- we should still be aware of their goal- they do indeed advocate for religious rule and we need to say ‘yes- we honor your principled stance against violence- yet we reject any religious theocracy- whether it be Christian, Jewish, Muslim- we want freedom and rights for all people- regardless of their religion- and we do not support your goal- even if you want to achieve it thru non violence’. Where next? IRAN.
[just a note- as I’m presently studying Marx and Freud and other thinkers- Marx himself rejected God because he felt like the religious rulers would use these types of ‘non revolt’ teachings to keep the people suppressed- Marx’s problem with God came thru this economic challenge- the masses were unwilling to revolt against economic oppression because religion was being used as a tool to keep the people under. I think in the beginning Marx meant well- saw the oppression of people and saw how rulers used religion to control people- too bad he couldn’t read this post]
 OVERVIEW- Lets over view a little today- in the last post I mentioned how we will be getting into Marx, Freud and Nietzsche in the coming months- yet I have so many things going on at this time that just in case I never get to them I want to lay out some stuff. First, most challenges to the Christian faith/God- have come from the point of view that said ‘yes- we believe that there is some being out there- God- but we challenge the purveyors of religion and how man has used religion to control- manipulate the masses’. It was not until the rise of these men that the popular approach of ‘no God’ would take a foothold in the minds of many unsuspecting ‘masses’. Before we delve into the ideas and contradictions of these men- let me explain why most thinkers of the Enlightenment did not take the atheistic approach- and instead opted for some form of Deism/Theism. The original debate of ‘where did everything come from’ did not start during the Enlightenment- it dates back as far as 4-5 centuries before Christ- the question is obviously older- but you can read the debate taking place in the great minds of the Greek philosophers; Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Though the idea of God in the minds of these Greek thinkers was not the same definition that Christianity would hold to- yet they did believe in some type of being who for the most part was what we would think of as God- they referred to him as The Prime Mover- a term that the great Catholic thinker Thomas Aquinas would use in the 13th century as he too argued for the existence of God. Okay- the Greeks taught that the universe/cosmos always existed- and there was an initiator who started the ball rolling [motion]. Their ideas about how the solar system worked were primitive- the famous idea espoused by Ptolemy had a sort of crystalline sphere surrounding the earth and the stars and planets were ‘stuck’ to this shield and as the sphere rotated- that’s what caused the heavens to change. Obviously the breakthroughs in cosmology that occurred under Copernicus and Galileo would bring us into a more perfect idea of how everything functions- yet the Ptolemaic view prevailed for centuries. Now- over the centuries those who began to challenge the church- they would hold to a view that while it is obvious that some Divine being exists [yes- very obvious- get to it in a moment] – yet they were not sure about the existence of the universe- did it always exist like the Greek philosophers said- or did the universe- and all things- have a beginning point? It is important to realize that those who would later on [18th- 20th centuries] challenge the actual existence of God- these very intelligent atheists [not joking] understood that if modern science ever taught a view that said ‘there was a point in time where nothing existed’ these men realized if this were true- then the gig would be up- if there was a time where nothing existed- not even God- they knew beyond all doubt that you would have nothing today. In my view these atheists were the smartest. Yet the breakthroughs in Physics during the era of Einstein did finally prove- beyond all doubt- that there was a time in the past where Time, Matter, Space- that all things did indeed have a starting point. This scientific fact [not religious fact] is absolute- beyond all doubt- irrefutable proof that God does indeed exist- and that he does possess all the attributes ascribed to him by Christian theology. If there was a time where nothing existed [not even God] then you would have nothing today- that’s fact- not belief. So- this is the way the world has debated about the subject for thousands of years- and for the recent theories to try and go back to the idea that the cosmos always existed- well that’s stone age thinking- that’s a rejection of what is commonly referred to as Big Bang cosmology- and no serious thinker rejects Einstein’s theories any more. So- where does that leave us? As we get into the many ideas people have come up with about God- religion- etc. we want to give the critics their chance to make the case- I have been reading [and refuting] Christopher Hitchens book these last few weeks [God is not great- Hitchens is a famous atheist] and I’m giving him a fair hearing- but not going easy on his blunders as well. A while back I got into a debate on a scientific type site- it was Christian in nature- but as I read the feed I realized there were a bunch of scientists going at it- smart men- some on the side of faith- others against it. I added [hesitantly!] my 2 cents worth. At one point- one of the scientists made a major blunder in logic while making his case that there is no God- I wasn’t too mean [heck- he was mocking Christians- I had to be a little mean] and as I posted my correction- proving him to be wrong- not in my area of faith- but in his area of science- he left the debate and never came back. As I checked the posts the next day- I saw another scientist anonymously posted a comment- agreeing with me, about a scientific fact- and admitting that his friend was indeed wrong. The point? It is too easy in this debate to think ‘surely these men must be right- after all they wouldn’t be so popular if they were wrong’- the fact is- this debate is not new, and yes- there are many popular writers/thinkers who are teaching an atheistic view- and these guys are making major mistakes in logic, fact, even in their own fields- they have been proven wrong- time and time again. So for those who are fans of the thinkers I will be refuting down the road- keep an open mind- don’t assume that these men are beyond fault- major fault in my view- and realize that the most prevalent idea espoused by the atheistic thinkers today- has indeed been proven false. You cannot get something from nothing- if there were a time where nothing existed- then nothing would exist today.
 FREUD-NIETZSCHE AND MARX- Today I need to do a little more on our study of Modernity [the thinkers who have influenced Western culture/thought from the 1700’s- 2000’s]. At this time I have 3 separate studies I have started on-line; Classics of literature, Great Christian thinkers of history, and Modernity. As time rolls on- I will gradually post all new studies once a year in a monthly post [most of the time it will be February] and as I update them you can read the most recent ones from the most recent years.
Okay- I am skipping a bunch of stuff to jump into the thinkers who represent the most popular forms of atheism- Marx, Nietzsche and Freud. But first we need to take a look at Ludwig Feuerbach. L.F. [Ludwig Feuerbach] laid the groundwork for these other more famous rejecters of God and Christianity. During the enlightenment period it was rare for the critics of religion to hold an outright atheistic view- men like Hume and Voltaire- though true critics of the church- did not come out openly and deny the existence of God. It was also difficult [impossible?] to hold professorships in the universities if you were a doubter of God. Both Hume and Voltaire did not hold positions. F.S. was Hegelian in a way [he followed Hegel’s idea that ‘God’ comes to self consciousness thru the development of humanity] but F.S. was a Materialist- Hegel was an Idealist. Remember- idealism is the philosophical system that sees reality existing in forms/ideas first- then later comes the material thing. The great ancient philosophers- Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were all Idealists. F.S. espoused the idea that reality starts with the material existence of man first- and thru religion man ‘projects’ the idea of God/spirit into society- and as man and Christianity develop [all good things for F.S.] that the ultimate truth that we learn on this journey is that man is really all there is- his ‘phase’ of God and religion were simply necessary stages for man to arrive at this self conscious state in which he finally realizes that man is all there is- God was a ‘crutch’- a needed one- but never the less simply a projection of mans mind until he came to full maturity. For F.S. ‘theology [the study of God] is anthropology’ [the study of man]. So in this sense he follows Hegel- the development of man and society is the development of God- but Hegel starts with spirit projecting ‘himself’ into creation- and F.S. starts with man/matter first- and man projects this idea of God/spirit as a secondary reality. The philosopher Paul Ricoeur describes F.S. and his disciples as holding to a system of belief called ‘the hermeneutics of suspicion’. This meaning that religion and God are not just things that seem to be irrational [according to certain enlightenment critics] but that religion itself is a mask that adds to the suffering of man- that man is under the dominion of false ideas- ideas that have been developed by those who want power over others- and these taskmasters use religion as a tool to oppress the ignorant masses. This idea will come to full bloom in the mind of Marx. Marx referred to religion as a ‘false consciousness’ that kept man in servitude to others who ruled over them- and religion itself was the tool that kept these ignorant masses in check. Nietzsche thought religion had its roots in weakness and sickness- and that the most decadent used it to control those who were actually more moral than the leaders. Freud saw religion as an effect of repression and the actual cause of mental conflict and guilt- he blamed religion for all the psychosis that man is afflicted with in life. The next few posts in this study [whenever I get to them?] I will try and develop all 3 of these famous thinkers ideas- show the errors in their own thinking- and the aftermath of generations who have tried/fleshed out their philosophies- and have found them dreadfully lacking in the end.
 ANOTHER SHAKESPEARE? As I continue to read thru some of the arguments against Christianity- the pros and cons- one of the common threads that run thru the critics minds is the entire field of what is called ‘the historical method- higher criticism’. I have written extensively on it in the past- and will just hit a few points for today. This method of study developed in the German universities during the late 19th- early 20th centuries. Men like Rudolph Bultmann would popularize it- and before him thinkers like Hegel would play their role in setting the field for a new way of thinking about the bible and Christian truth. During this time many professors/scholars began studying the bible in the original languages [Old testament- Hebrew. New Testament- Greek] and they noticed something interesting- the first 5 books of the bible- commonly attributed to Moses [meaning he wrote them] were found to have used different Hebrew words for God. You also noticed different ways things were phrased in different sections- this lead some thinkers to espouse an idea called ‘the documentary hypothesis’ when I recently critiqued the atheist- Christopher Hitchens- he used this argument in his book- but you could tell he simply read the theory from someone else [a teacher- Bart Erhman] and that he was really not familiar with the entire field. This theory is usually attributed to a thinker named Wellhausen, and it gained popularity among the school of teachers often referred to as liberal theologians [liberal- not politically- but in theology]. Eventually the idea arose that Moses could not have been the writer of the Torah [first 5 books of the bible] but the Torah must have been written after the captivity of Israel [around the 6th century B.C.E.] and the returning Jews to their homeland basically made up the whole thing in order to give a sense of community and purpose to the down trodden Jews. The same idea was developed about the New Testament and the gospels- these same critics said the gospels were really written by later authors- who made up most of the stories in order to give a sense of continuity to the developing nascent church- though these critics thought the New Testament still had ‘religious value’ yet the historical truth is absent [thus the name historical critical method]. Now- what about this John? First- over the years both of these theories- as interesting as they are- were in fact proven to have been not true. How? Well- the story s a little too long for this post- but basically as the field of archaeology and historical studies developed- the critics had less ground to stand on- not more. When I recently read the Popes book- he deals with this subject a lot- and he skillfully and accurately refutes it- I mentioned how at times the Pope was even funny. The Pope outlines the theory [about the gospels being a fabrication- written by some unknown men at a later date] and the Pope asks Bultmann ‘and just how do you explain the idea that these unknown authors wrote the most valuable writings of the day- books that have influenced the entire world- written at a real time with other real historical people living at the time- and yet they were able to carry out this elaborate hoax- while never being detected by anyone who also lived during that time’ in essence [I’m paraphrasing Benedict] the theory actually has no proof- if your going to challenge the historicity of the gospels- writings that do claim historical accuracy- written by men who we know did indeed live in the 1st century- whose historical accuracy has never been seriously challenged for centuries- if you come up with a theory 1900 years after the fact- then you can’t attribute your theory to a bunch of anonymous men- who supposedly lived at the same time- and brilliantly carried out the most elaborate hoax in the history of the world- and no one knows who these geniuses are! Benedict is correct in his critique of the critics. Basically these theories- while adding something to the whole debate- as a whole do not stand the same test of historical examination that they want to apply to the bible. And if the gospels are accurate [which they have been proven to be] Jesus himself speaks about the Torah [the first 5 books] quite a lot- he speaks saying ‘Moses said this’ and attributes the books to Mosaic authorship- talks of ‘Noah’s day’ speaks of God creating man in the beginning [Genesis]- Jesus himself testifies to the historical accuracy of the Old Testament- so if we have proof that the gospels are historically accurate- then according to Jesus- the history of the Old Testament is also historically true- See? When I read Hitchens- he has no depth at all in this debate- he seems to have simply read one side- and dished it out to his readers- giving them old arguments against the faith that have been disproven for years. It’s like the guy who said ‘hey- did you hear the news? We have found out that Shakespeare really didn’t write the tremendous works that are attributed to him’ O really- then who wrote them ‘another guy named Shakespeare’.
 HITCHENS-PIRATES AND M THEORY- Let’s talk a little more about Christopher Hitchens book- God is not great. As I’m reading thru the book- and also doing some studying on Modernity- it’s obvious for me to see the errors in the arguments Hitchens is making in trying to refute the existence of God. Instead of attempting to refute each argument he makes [and to be honest- he does make many classic mistakes- things that are not really hard to show as false]. Let me give you just a few points- Hitchens comes at you from all angles- history, science, historical criticism [a view of the bible that tries to undermine the historical accuracy of the faith] politics- he basically covers all the angles that I too like to engage in. He is smart- no doubt about it- and he mocks Christians, Jews, Muslims- and he does it in a way that says ‘you are all idiots’. So that’s why when attempting to refute him- when I see him doing something stupid- I try and bring that out. Okay- one of the major mistakes Hitchens makes [a common mistake in the field of apologists versus atheists] is he appeals to the basic idea ‘we- as intellectual people do not accept things based on faith- we only believe things that can be scientifically proven to be true’ now- how many times have you heard this? This argument is only made by those who are ‘novices’ in this debate. Why? Because at face value it is very easy to refute. Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris- and all the other famous atheists believe in all types of historical events- things that happened in the past- without a single shred of ‘scientific proof’. Let’s see- Do you believe Lincoln was shot? Have you personally done DNA tests on the remains? Have you even seen the remains? Let’s see- what about Aristotle and Socrates and Plato- surely as refined as these men are- they most certainly believe that these great Greek philosophers lived 4 centuries before Christ. Again- what scientific proof can you show me- you know- the standard that you’re using to judge whether or not Jesus ever lived? Basically the argument that says 'faith and Jesus and God are not real truth- not like science’ is a totally illogical argument- unless these men would have us believe that they reject all of the above historical figures I just mentioned. So how does the bible- Jesus- God- hold up to the historical test [not the scientific test!]? Point of fact- there is no other historical person- in the history of the world- with more historical proofs of his existence. There are no other ancient documents- dating back to the time of Christ- that have the historical accuracy that we find in the New Testament- Luke- the writer of both the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts- from a purely historical point of view- is considered the best- most accurate- first century historian to have ever lived [I explained it all before under the Evolution/Cosmology section- I think it’s in the 8-2010 posts]. Basically the argument Hitchens is making is dishonest at its core. Then- he gets into M Theory [geez- didn’t really want to go there] Okay- I love studying science, history, Physics. And to be honest- Physics is really not my ‘field’ that is I prefer to show you the mistakes Hitchens is making when he pretends to be a bible student [he makes statements that he is a regular reader of the bible- who goes thru it often- I seriously doubt that claim- he seems to be familiar with certain critical scholars of scripture- theories that have long been rejected- documentary theory by Wellhausen- and you can kinda tell he simply reads the critics and incorporates their ideas into his own- heck- if there is no God- then what’s wrong with plagiarism?] Okay- Hitchens seems to be enamored with Stephen Hawking- I wrote about Hawking a month or so ago- in his recent book- Grand Design- he made some ‘Grand mistakes’ and I refuted these errors. Now Hitchens seems fascinated by certain theories of Hawking- and his worship of the man’s theories goes to the extreme. Hitchens speaks of the famous idea in theoretical physics called M Theory- modern physics [standard theory] says our universe is made up of Pixels- fine points of matter that are unseen by the naked eye- but exist as the basic fabric of the universe. Now- we all accept this- Atoms- Neutrons- etc. all little ‘dots’ if you will, that make up our universe. So M theory [a theory that expands upon String theory] says ‘no- maybe the universe is made up of these strings- these vibrating strings that form into circles- and under these hoops- there are buckets that make up the matter of the universe’ Okay- just think in your head of a piece of string- make a loop- under the loop stick a basketball net. Walla- that’s the theory. Now- does this sound stupid to you? Well you’re in good company- it also sounds stupid to a growing number of very able physicists! Yes- many brilliant- non religious scientists- will tell you that doing science like this- just making stuff up- is loony. So to be honest- as interesting as theoretical physics is- there are many things that simply do not meet the standard of ‘solid science’. So- why mention this. Hitchens uses this theory as proof against the existence of God [in a weird- tortured way] and at the same time says ‘I don’t accept things that can’t be scientifically proven’ yet the whole M theory field is very doubtful- some think the whole thing is simply not true. So it’s stuff like this- obvious mistakes- that are sprinkled all thru out his book. I mean he even makes mistakes that novices make- he mistakenly refers to the establishing of the state of Israel as having occurred in the 19th century- I mean I can’t believe he doesn’t know the actual date- 1948- I have to think that he simply made the common mistake of thinking the years 1900-1999 are the ‘19th century- a common mistake made by people who are just beginning the journey of learning [obviously the 1900’s are the 20th century]. But at the same time he lambasts Christians as idiots and does stuff like this. It reminds me of the time I was watching MSNBC- now this cable channel is filled with nonstop mocking of the political right- one morning the host [Scarborough] was doing his show- and he reads the upcoming story to come on after the commercial- but you can see he’s confused- he asks someone off screen ‘does that say Pirates’? And they tell him yes- he then says ‘folks- your not gonna believe this- but when we get back- yes- we will cover the developing story of Pirates- yes I know it sounds unbelievable- Pirates attacked a ship off the coast of Somalia’. Now- no one ever said anything- he came back and simply reported the story. What’s wrong? He obviously thought Pirates meant ‘Pirates’ you know- Johnny Depp and the Caribbean. I’m sure someone informed him during the commercial ‘Piracy is the official term for robbery on the high seas- you dummy’! Can you imagine the mocking they would have done if Sarah Palin had done this? So I see in Hitchens a mocking of religion and at the same time a conceited view of his own intellect- and the intellect of other atheists- he engages in a sort of debate that says ‘look- you religionists are idiots- we are not’ and he makes such obvious mistakes- things that ‘uneducated’ people do all the time- not bad people- just common mistakes like the ‘19th century’ thing. And if people make mistakes like this [Pirates- etc.] fine- we don’t want to beat people up- but if the entire premise of your book [or cable channel] is ‘look at all the Christian idiots’ and then you make the same mistakes your criticizing the Christians for- well then yes- you look as silly as Joe Scarborough thinking Johnny Depp and his crew were out robbing ships!