Archives for posts with tag: truth

Simplistic, but valid: From nothing comes nothing.
Either something exists, or nothing exists.

We can side with the likes of Stephen Hawking and assert eternal existence of gravity and quantum vacuum and, also, assign it practical [and mindless] divinity. Then we can reasonably speculate that myriad minuscule fluctuations in the quantum foam converged to burst forth from the singularity. Inflation, then space-time, which is running down, back down to the nothing.

Or, we can assume transcendence. That is, we can assume an eternal something that is truly beyond nature. Eternal is the key, and transcendence is required, or it is just natural, and we are back to nothing. There are some significant hurdles to deal with in assuming the divine, but an eternal transcendent actor can only be referred to as god. (Peterson says as much, often.)

If we hold to the first, methodological materialism, or naturalism, or atranscendence, then we are stuck with nothing and there simply is no such thing as agency. No choice is any more significant than any event. It takes two things to do anything: Time and Energy. States and systems exhibiting disequilibria will tend to equilibrate, taking time and using energy. Disequilibrated systems do anything that takes time and uses up energy, as long as it lessens the disequilibration. Often, order arises, emergent phenomena. A simple example is a dust devil in a dirt field. The ground heats unevenly under the sun, and the air warms slower, disequilibria. A warm thermal begins to rise, often beginning to spin, and up arises a dancing, self-organizing, dust devil, chasing the warmest spot near it. It is a dissipative system, more efficient at increasing entropy than simple convection. Assuming atranscendence, the dust devil is the same as any choice I make, any idea I conceive, any action I take. It all, only, tends to use up time and energy bringing the universe back to closer to the absolute and eternal nothing of its beginning.

Given my definitions above, the options are god or not-god.

That is, god is that which is eternal and transcendent.

Not-god is that which is yet eternal but nothing, that which momentarily and currently is subject to unwinding the initial winding of the singularity, and the unwinding is simply the using up of time and energy. (It makes no difference in this assumption whether the big bang is a single freak occurrence, or if it is quasicyclical, repeating randomly for all eternity.)

If we accept the god assumption, we are faced with eternity. We exist in time, but we will exist in eternity (and perhaps have always existed in some sense). The questions religion and philosophy address boil down to this: In eternity, with-god or without-god? One choice with two options. We will enter eternity having chosen god or refused god.

In that assertion, I’m assuming the god condition of eternal and transcendent reality. Given that assumption, the choice, the ultimate choice, true agency, is between with-god and without-god.

There either is choice, or there is nothing.

I admit I am defining nothing as meaninglessness.

I’m defining eternal and transcendent as meaning, reason, and rationality. It is my assertion, my premise. It is fundamental within me. (It is fundamental within the universe.)

Choice, agency, is the only thing that matters. If not-god is the reality, then there is no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason, nothing. If god is the reality, and there is no choice, no agency, regarding eternity with god or eternity without god, then we are back to nothing, back to no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason.

Given any reality approximating that, truth has no meaning in any case where choice, true agency, isn’t foundational and intrinsic. Individual agency must be real or there is not even anything that can be called truth, not in the abstract, not in the concrete, not in the ideal, not even in the notional. If I have no choice in the matter, no agency, nothing matters and nothing is the only true reality. If there is such a thing as reality, choice is real; agency is real.

Obviously, I cannot get away from the notion of truth, and one might argue such persistence makes it deeper, more real, than choice. No. First, we must not conflate Truth with Reality. That which is real is not the same as that which is true, not even in the ideal. It goes to meaning. If the not-god reality is real, then all that we seem to know is simply a random confluence of quantum fluctuations that happen to have congealed into a mass hallucination. If my mind is merely matter and energy and chemical processes running in patterns dictated by quantum fluctuations, I have no mind, and I have nothing on which to base any assumption. I can have no reason to assume any of it will continue. I have no real reason to base any of it on.

In that case, I have no reason. There would really be no reason and no such thing as reason, only matter, only energy, only a persistent, sequential running down and unwinding.

Frankly, I find it unreasonable to assume there is no such thing as reason.

I find it irrational to assume there is no such thing as rationality.

It seems as certain as anything else that there must be an eternal transcendent actor. Being confined to time and nature, we cannot hope to know this super-nature directly. We can only hope to systematically and rationally investigate it and aim at truth, as we do with all of nature. The nature of nature, our reality, seems to include something transcendent that we typically call mind. There isn’t a significant difference between “mind” as we use it, and “spirit” as we use it. There is no quantifiable reason to suppose mind is any less real than matter. Consciousness is really a thing, a thing we do not understand. Our religions may be so far from truth as to be laughable, but so may our sciences.

Again, without choice, there is no truth.

If I am not really a free agent capable of making real choices with meaningful consequences, then there is simply nothing, at least nothing that has any meaning, nothing that matters.

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I’ve seen my share of references, so I assume you’ve seen the headlines too.

Pope Francis is reported to have said those who refuse God eventually disappear. Official sources clarify that the report is exactly that, a report, not a quote. Given the Pope’s penchant for unorthodox views, I wouldn’t put it past him, but this ancient reporter seems likely to have added his own slant. I’m not sure why the Pope would interview with someone who is known for overt agenda, but oh well.

Apparently, it wasn’t supposed to be an interview at all. “A recent meeting between Pope Francis and Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, 93, was a “private meeting for the occasion of Easter, however without giving him any interview,”” … “Scalfari, a self-proclaimed atheist…”

I pulled from the Catholic News Agency, CNA news report here.

Regardless of what the Pope may think, Jesus had a few things to say about hell, and folks talk about translation and context, which is certainly needful, but Jesus didn’t pull any punches here: http://biblehub.com/matthew/18-8.htm What might he have meant by fire that endures the ages if not a fairly conventional definition of hell?

There are limitations to the information we have, and there is even more limitation to our potential to understand. Our understanding is truly finite and limited.

What a conundrum we have when we consider time.

If we exist, there is time. It exists as sure as anything.

Time is hardly more than the running down of our universe. Sure, we can complicate, and when we must consider the things that time affects, we must be more precise, but I consider here time of itself, moreover, eternity.

If time exists, eternity must. Time began with the universe. Time is a property of the universe, the space-time continuum, we correctly call it.

Eternity is without time; there is eternity; eternity is.

See? Eternity is not a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Time is what you have when you do not have eternity, or rather, when you are limited and expiring.

Can we accept eternity as a foundational, fundamental, encompassing premise? I assert we must. We know time is finite, at least as it pertains to our existence, our reality. If time is finite, must there not be more, something beyond time, something that has nothing to do with time, something for time to happen in? How can we be reasonable if we reject the notion.

How can we reason at all if we assume that all that exists is finite? Accepting nothing beyond the finite defies meaning as a premise. It reduces all to fundamental happenstance with no intent, no direction, no meaning, no reason. I hold it unreasonable to assert there is no reason. I hold it meaningless to assert there is no meaning. As has been rightly observed, we act as though we believe in reason and meaning. We act as though we mean something when we say it, as though we are reasoning when we suppose something.

Let us agree on eternity as a foundational premise.

Now, is eternity divine?

That is a question that seems certain to have two, and only two, possible answers, yes or no.

A religious view would probably shun the notion of eternity as the divinity, but can it not be fundamentally divine? Yes, it can. It is also possible that it is not. If not, we are looking again at utter happenstance with no possibility of meaning.

Still, blatant finitude, absolute meaninglessness, is a possibility we cannot disprove. Yet, if there is infinity, eternity, and it is divine, we end up assuming some divinity, some ultimate divine, eternally existent, infinite (not finite in any way) being. Well, hold up. Not necessarily a being. Still, something ultimate, infinite, unlimited, unbounded.

Shifting from the external and ultimate, let us look within. We do not, and perhaps cannot, understand consciousness. We have working models—workable, useful tools, but no understanding. We act as though we have a soul, but we explicitly denounce the soul as unknowable, unverifiable. We treat each other as sovereign souls (at least ideally–we know we should), as entities embodying the divine, the image of God, be that defined as it may. We, at least ideally, act as if it is so. If we act as though we have a soul while discounting it, what can we surmise as basis? Can we suppose that there must be something divine, eternal, within? Is there some attribute and capacity of ourselves, our consciousnesses, that is actually and truly eternal? It seems a reasonable assumption, a justifiable premise.

If we accept eternity, and we assume we are, at least in some way, part of it, then ultimately, we will exist long after the universe, long after world’s-end. (There I go assuming time again.) Fundamentally, the worthwhile possibilities for consideration are only two: With the divine in eternal existence, or without the divine in eternal existence. Unbounded existence with God, or without God. Regarding this latter, what more definition of hell might one propose?

I find it an undeniable possibility that there be no heaven, but if there is heaven, there most certainly is hell.

Micah 6:8

 

In church ( #Wickline ) this morning, Pastor spoke about Noah. He pointed out that the Noah story is not really a kids story. It is practically R-rated. I’ve been listening to #JordanBPeterson recently, and I think he influenced me to strike on something Pastor Eric Snyder said that made me realize the primary point of Noah. All these years, all the study, all the careful reading, rereading, and researching, and I finally noticed the point: It was God’s fault!

Look at the telling of the Noah story. The whole point is that God decided He’d messed up. He was going to wipe it all out. Yet, he noticed Noah. Noah apparently loved his neighbor. Noah apparently wasn’t about doing evil continually.

So, God gave Noah instructions. Noah obeyed. God saved Noah.

The story tells us that everyone else died, including all the critters. What a tragedy! Yet, that is the point. Again Referencing Peterson, we humans are wired to handle tragedy, but malice breaks us. That seems to be the point of the fifth verse of chapter 6. It seems God noticed that humans were malignant, bad, causing pain (as I understand Strong’s for “wickedness”). The whole of human thinking, every thought of the heart, was only to do evil (malignancy, bad, cause pain) all the time.

They were hurting each other so bad it made God regret the whole thing. Read v. 6-7. It is clear in the English.

Granted, I don’t accept that as good theology, but there it is, right there in the bible. It works with the story. It makes the point of the story.

The divine nature was so touched by the deliberate malice of his creation, that he thought it necessary to wipe it out. Thus, the point. God brought the tragedy, not to end the suffering, but to thwart the cause. It has taken a long time, and we still have miles to go before we rest, but we are learning that betrayal is the gravest sin. Malice is bad. Deliberately causing pain is wickedness in the extreme. Coercion is evil. We are learning. The wise author of the Noah story knew it would help.

Besides, it is good to be able to get mad at God for tragedy. Hopefully, we can pray, even rant and scream, to God and work out our furry on the Almighty, who is more than enough to handle it.

So, feel free to blame God if you think you need to. He’s big enough to take it. He won’t take offense. He won’t hold it against you. Remember, God loves you. God himself died for you because he knew you understand that.

And when it comes to you, you against the world, stand! Keep the faith. Trust God and walk in love and mercy anyway. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Even if the world goes to hell around you, you can trust that God notices, and you just might be that light that sets it all to working again, just a little better this time.

I always enjoy reading BioLogos. The site is an extraordinary resource in so many regards.

I shared this on my Facebook page without comment. Then I shared it again with a short comment.

http://biologos.org/blog/embracing-faith-accepting-ambiguity

Now, after reading it a second time, I just have to write more.

This young woman opens her story in a depression suffered six years ago. Her depression was at least part physical, but it seems clear it primarily arose from a lack of truth and understanding. She had never found sound teaching and solid information. She had been led to believe she had only one option, of accepting or rejecting fundamentalism. She described it as thinking her only options were a fundamentalism she could no longer believe, and empty agnosticism. While certainty is certainly absurd, claiming ignorance in the ultimate sense is, in my view, irrational. I consider agnosticism as the abandonment of all reason.

Our story-teller explains that her upbringing had been fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and settled. She said any questioning was simply not accepted. The truths were known. That was not much different from my own upbringing, but my Baptist grandfather was a man of science. (An eye doctor, but he could have been anything, from a machinist to a physics or mathematics professor. He was a practical engineer, inventor, tinkerer.) He helped me learn to question everything from my earliest years.

I forget how early I started. I never accepted any notions of a young earth. From earliest school days, the unimaginable age of the earth and universe were given. I would unreservedly rebuff any assertions regarding merely some few thousand years for earth. It was just not reasonable.

It took me longer to come to grips with evolution. Gradually, by about 20 years of age, I accepted that biological evolution and common descent were simply how God created man from the dust of the earth. I accepted it based on general science, but since some of the breakthroughs of genomics, there is simply no excuse. Nothing, absolutely nothing in any aspect of every facet of science having anything to do with life in any way, including human life, makes sense without a Darwinian evolutionary framework. Theodosius Dobzhansky made this statement in the early 1970s, long before I realized it. Theo was, and remains, right. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution. It has only been recently that I became aware that people have been thinking like I do for so long.

These words of hers are particularly worth repeating:

Nearly every day for the first year or two after we moved, I prayed the words of the Roman centurion over and over and over again, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Sometimes it was all that I could manage, but over time I realized that I wasn’t clinging so hard to those words anymore, and I became more sure that even if everything else that I had ever believed passed away, I knew that Jesus was the Son of God, and that was enough. From there I began slowly and painfully and uncertainly reworking my faith.

I don’t suppose I’ve ever fallen so deep, but I’ve had similar times. Jesus is enough. Sometimes, that is all that matters, all that is real.

By the way, it has never been any aspect of science that has hurt me, only people, usually in betrayal of trust.

Impressive list of authors she found to help her learn truth: Matthew Paul Turner, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Donald Miller, Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright, Timothy Keller, and Greg Boyd.

She mentions that questions specifically about evolution didn’t come up with her for a long time. She’s not specific, but I suspect it was after college and marriage. For me, it was early. I accepted it very young, but drew a distinction at the special dignity of humanity being in the image of God. I now can hardly even remember what my arguments were. I now see the miracle of in-breathed-ness as simply something God did at the right time, and science and biology will never be able to define it, much less pin down the when of it.

Mainly noting for my own mental processing, she indicates they had four children in the space of about six years up to last year, 2014. She mentioned being busy as a mother. Busy indeed. Blessed indeed. They thought to homeschool as an interim. Liked it. Kept homeschooling. Again, blessed!

Another quote-worthy comment:

As I began researching which curriculums I wanted to use next year, I realized that all of the Christian homeschool science curriculums were likely to be written from the young-earth creationist perspective. I did not want that for my kids, so I began researching other options. That’s when I discovered BioLogos. The BioLogos team helped me find a science curriculum, but much more than that, they helped me to practically and articulately answer questions of how faith and science can be reconciled.

To this, I relate! Ask my wife. She too.

Our family moves in fundamentalist and Wesleyan circles. It comes with the territory of taking one’s faith seriously and homeschooling, especially when raised that way.

I expect to run into young-earth views and antievolutionary views, and I expect some derision, but I don’t expect hate and viciousness. Sadly, that is exactly what we occasionally see. Sometimes first person, in the flesh. Other times, more secondhand. There are periodicals we used to get, but not anymore. We dropped/avoid such because of articles that call me sinner, or compromiser, or worse, because I don’t accept their take on a few bible verses that they interpret in nontraditional ways. (Yes, check the history. YEC is a modern, post-WWI phenomenon that was based primarily in fear, but also in racism–which included southern US racism, anti-German racism, and anti-Semitism.) It is hardly compelling, but it is noteworthy that the majority of Christians reject young-earth notions and accept evolution, at least in a general, nonspecific sense.

So, for our family, finding or assembling curriculum for our scientifically inclined boys has been a challenge. My elder son is as adamant about all things science, and more so than me, with the exuberance of youth. The younger cares less about all things controversial, but the intricacies of all of creation enthrall him. That includes most all scientific topics as well as all things artistic.

Many talk about “world view.” They use it as a code word meaning narrow fundamentalist dogma.

To me, worldview must be summed in commitment to truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus is truth. I cannot cotton to lying for Jesus. I’m certain Jesus doesn’t either. Clinging to a narrow interpretation of certain scriptures does not make a worldview. Simply refusing to accept obvious, demonstrable facts and processes is dishonest. In all practical aspects life, that is lying. I seem to remember scripture explaining that liars have their place in the lake of fire. Literalist somehow have a more liberal view on that than I do.

Our story-teller explains that her growth and realization was slow, gradual, even halting. She supposes it is that way for most of us. I suppose so too. I tend to forget, though, that I have been at this longer than she has lived. I literally have been building my faith, my views, my understanding of all things science for over four decades now. Hardly any time at all. I’m still such a novice. However, I have much more experience than most people addressing such issues.

Life is a nonstop journey, with scarcely time to rest. Thank God there is a rest in Him. Still, though life is often hard, and often challenging, even thrilling, it can be so ridiculously shallow if we don’t deliberately dig deep. There is more to everything. The ultimate question, why, is never completely answered. There is always more. There will always be more. Always.

If you didn’t click the link and read her article, you really should, especially those last two paragraphs.

 

Things matter, or nothing matters.

I choose to suppose that things matter. That supposition leads me to believe God is. (Either God is, or God is not. That is about the same statement. Further, there is a reason, or there is no reason. Again, pretty much the same statement, and I just don’t think it is reasonable to assert there is no reason.)

Now, if any of these words mean anything, then I find that it follows that I freely choose. I can change my mind, but I am determined to find truth as I may and adhere to facts and reality as well as I can perceive.

I chose to write just now. It is not a mechanistic, chance confluence of quantum effects at the subatomic level with electromagnetic and chemical effects at the atomic level. I happen to be more than a machine.

There are issues we may need to address if we manage to create machines that can rationally choose as well, but that is not yet and a subject-heading for another day.

Dr. David Bentley Hart penned a retelling of a conversation he had with his dog. He wrote at First Things, http://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/02/roland-on-free-will. (First Things is an excellent source of insights on many subjects.)

Dr. Hart supposes the event was a dream, but Roland is obviously one smart pooch.

Roland says, “…and the rational freedom of the spirit, which is always striving to subdue the brute. Oh, what’s that lovely line from Yeats about the soul? ‘Fastened to a dying animal?’ Anyway, there’s something truly free there, something that isn’t the creature of an unhappy childhood or a frustrated hunger—it’s spirit, nous, Geist—something that can convert the countervailing tempests of physiological urges into the elations of reason set free. Well . . . this is something dogs understand very well.””

Excellent observation. Likewise, “Every aspiring young materialist dreams of growing up to be a robot.” Which is so simple minded, even silly. Yet, it seems so true of so many.

The saddest part of reductionist materialism is the ultimate hopelessness. It really does suppose there is nothing real, that there will be absolutely nothing in the long run.

The bottom line for me is that it is all real, and I really do have freedom, and I really am responsible for myself.

BioLogos has reposted this article by Denis Alexander which I must have missed last year. Dr. Alexander has several articles at BioLogos, and in this one he discusses why religion and philosophy are so important to science and facts.

While our genetics determine much about us, our genes do NOT determine who we are. Our choices are much more important to who we are and who we become. We are free moral agents, and we always have the ability to choose to do what is right.

Enjoy Dr. Alexander’s article: http://biologos.org/blog/made-in-the-image-of-god-human-values-and-genomics2

For millennia it was uniquely the pharaoh or the king who was seen as being in the “image of a god” in the polytheistic political systems of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Adad-shum-ussur, a court astrologer and cultic official in the seventh century B.C. royal court of Nineveh, made clear that the Assyrian king Esarhaddon is the very image of Bel (Marduk), the top god of that era:

A (free) man is as the shadow of god, the slave is as the shadow of a (free) man; but the king, he is like unto the (very) image of god.

That understanding is very significant. The ancient perception is still among us. We really do not see ourselves as truly free. We do not see ourselves created in the image of God, but in some shadow form that exists mostly as a slave. No, it is not just the king, not just the emperor, not even the President. It is all of you. We are all created like God, knowing both good and evil. Each, always, with the ability to do good, or to not. Each with the ability to realize our own destiny.

This whole last bit of the article is worth repeating:

Then God said, “Let us make adam [humankind] in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created adam in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:26-27].

In its historical context, the implications were revolutionary: the kingly and priestly male roles previously allocated to the privileged few by a pantheon of gods were now being delegated instead by the one creator God to the whole of humanity, male and female. In a stroke the entire ruling and priestly structure of Mesopotamian society was delegitimized. The Imago Dei was being democratized and it was now humankind who were to be the significant players in the arena of earthly life, the mandate to rule underlying their new responsibilities. Above all, humanity was set free by the one true God to determine their own destiny, no longer under the yoke of all-powerful dictators, nor under the baleful astrological control of the moon and stars.

Yet, ever since, humans have become experts at re-enslaving themselves, refusing the responsibilities that come with free-choice and submitting instead to narratives of fate and destiny. It seems ironic that today it is not the creation myths of ancient Babylon but the ideological interpretations of biology that provide the narratives of fate, in which genes “pull” humans toward certain political views and people cannot change their minds because their convictions are “rooted in their physiology.”

“It’s in his or her DNA” is a new phrase becoming increasingly embedded in our language, referring to something that cannot apparently be changed. On Sept. 8, 2012, Brad Pitt was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that “America is a country founded on guns. It’s in our DNA. It’s very strange but I feel better having a gun.” No it’s not in our DNA, Mr. Pitt, either literally or metaphorically. People have choices — they are the prisoners neither of their genetics, nor of their physiology, nor indeed of their environments. Human beings made in the image of God are free to chart their own destiny in a way that preserves human value and dignity. On that we can leave the last word to Abraham Lincoln: “…nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows” (Aug. 17, 1858).

I must emphasize Lincoln: “…nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows.

It really isn’t that hard. We are each free. I stand before God the same as all others. I answer for myself, myself alone, to Him, to Him alone.

http://biblehub.com/esv/romans/14.htm

4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own mastera that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. http://biblehub.com/romans/14-4.htm (The individual verses include the selected commentary notes.)

If we recognize each person individually, if we see each of us “stamped with the Divine image and likeness”, then we cannot treat each other wrongly. We cannot try to rule over or coerce. We will walk in freedom and responsibility, and we will acknowledge, “Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” If we remember that we all suffer and we all die young, it is a little easier to keep things in perspective.

Just remember, He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

The title comes from the words of our Lord. Note, Jesus added “mind” to the quote from the Jewish Law. Mark tells us Jesus said it, adding mind, and the lawyer answered back wisely that we must love God with our whole understanding. It is clear that part of our service to, and love for, God includes our thinking and knowledge. That is science and philosophy. It is unwise, according to the scripture, to hold that there is animosity between science and faith. In fact, I hold that there cannot be one without the other.

Shannon Medisky wrote an article for BioLogos, http://biologos.org/blog/soul-strength-and-mind-how-biologos-brought-me-out-of-hiding, explaining how she felt shunned by her fellow Christians for accepting science without twisting it to certain dogma. I’ll add that the dogma in question is not even orthodox.

Ms. Medisky explains how she grew up as excited about Jesus as she was about science, but she soon realized that most Christians won’t stand for that. She closeted herself.

She correctly states:

We’re called to love God with all our soul, strength and mind. My scientific pursuits and interests were an important part of the latter. Learning more about the world—including how we got here—was simply another facet of honoring God. And to do anything less than wonder, question and learn would be to deny a very important part of the potential God so graciously gave us all.

That is how I have always felt. Like her, I’ve always stayed quiet about my acceptance of science, especially after I lost all reservations regarding biological evolution, but I’ve never been one to back down or equivocate. If you ask, I’m going to answer, and I’ll be as honest as I know how to be.

She wrote for BioLogos. It makes sense that she praised them highly. While she felt alone, I learned long ago there were plenty of Christians like me who accepted science as simply part of God’s creation. Still, BioLogos is a comfort to me too, and it is an excellent resource. If you want to learn, BioLogos is an excellent place to start.

Of course, if you’d rather just be fundamentalist, go ahead and take the indoctrination and talking points of the young-earth creationists, and be confrontational and sure of yourself. However, I strongly recommend following the words of the prophet Micah, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Yes, this is what the Lord requires of each of us.

Regarding Jesus statements regarding creation.

Mike listed, “Mark 10:6: Mark 13:9; Luke 11:50-51; john 5:45-47 links Jesus to Moses- Exodus 20:11 plainly says God created the world in 6 days. Pretty strait forward teaching by our Lord and savior.”

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’

but from the beginning of the creation, a male and a female God did make them;

6 ἀπὸ δὲ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς

http://biblehub.com/interlinear/mark/10-6.htm

2And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5And Jesus said to them, Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,a 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Context here has hardly anything to do with creation. It is about divorce. It is about the hardness of their hearts. It is about submitting ourselves to the order God establishes. There is no hint of Jesus sanctioning some interpretation of the creation hymns over some other.


Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
But from the beginning of the creation,…. Of the world, or of man: , “from the beginning of the creation of the world”, is a way of speaking often used by the Jews (r): the phrase “of the creation” is left out in the Syriac and Persic versions; and so it was in Beza’s most ancient copy, and it is only read, “from the beginning”, as in Mat_19:4,8; see Gill on 
Matthew 19:4, See Gill on Matthew 19:8

As Gill points out, the creation reference is simply “beginning.” It seems unlikely Jesus added more than “in beginning, God.” No elaboration regarding how or what.

Seem to have missed something with Mark 13:9. Seems more of a Freudian slip. Perhaps the reference is to verse 19.

I’m not quite sure how this apocalyptic statement applies to “creation,” but:

http://biblehub.com/mark/13-19.htm

For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be.

for those days shall be tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the creation that God created, till now, and may not be

19 ἔσονται γὰρ αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι θλῖψις, οἵα οὐ γέγονεν τοιαύτη ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἣν ἔκτισεν ὁ Θεὸς ἕως τοῦ νῦν καὶ οὐ μὴ γένηται.

http://biblehub.com/interlinear/mark/13-19.htm

The language is hyperbolic, not making any commentary on creation. Mike, I certainly hope you understand that I hold God as creator.

http://biblehub.com/luke/11-51.htm

from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.

from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who perished between the altar and the house; yes, I say to you, It shall be required from this generation.

http://biblehub.com/matthew/23-35.htm

What am I missing here? How does this have anything to do with commentary on some interpretation of the creation hymns?

http://biblehub.com/esv/john/5.htm

45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Again, what am I missing? Jesus believed in Moses. I believe in Moses. How does this enlighten us regarding some interpretation of the creation hymns?

I’ll throw in this: http://www.godofevolution.com/did-jesus-believe-in-a-six-day-creation-and-a-literal-adam/ I find Mr. Francke a bit hard to take at times, but I generally agree with him.

The symbology of the creation week in the first creation hymn of Genesis is not in question. I do wonder how someone can take this particular bit of the story and make it literal while ignoring such assertions about a firm dome that separates the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but there is nothing firm up in the sky, and there are certainly no waters up there for such a dome to keep from falling on us.

http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7549.htm

One can pretend the word just means “expanse,” but it clearly indicates the firm separation of waters above and below the earth. The notion is elsewhere in the bible, including http://biblehub.com/2_peter/3-5.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_cosmology

http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/gre13.htm

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/11/ancient-hebrew-cosmology.html

http://www.religioustolerance.org/cosmo_bibl2.htm

Don’t forget the fact that the first three chapters of Genesis contain two separate hymns. The two are different in so many ways that asserting they are somehow the same, by the same author, is simply disingenuous. I suspect that if Moses were around, he’d tell us that the two creation hymns were the stories of his people, God’s people. I further suspect that if Moses were to deny such an obvious and simple explanation and attempt to prove in a court of law that he was the original and sole author of the two stories, he could not convince a jury, especially if Shem and Ham were able to speak up and claim authorship of one each before Moses.

So, Mike, for the record, I agree with Jesus. I cannot find evidence that Jesus ever said anything about creation that could help us know how to interpret the creation hymns. Any assertion regarding Jesus’ teaching about creationism is simply wrong.

The clear teaching of Jesus was to love one another.

I consider this a central tenet of Jesus, “28And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29Jesus answered, The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

I consider Jesus’ addition of “mind” to be significant, and I choose to love the lord with all my mind. My mind includes the knowledge that several different, independent disciplines in science confirm the usefulness of the aspects of biological evolution day in and day out.

I routinely post information related to evolution, and the weight of evidence, the breadth of evidence, the practicality of the evidence is overwhelming. I could not honor truth any other way than accept that evolution is a theory is as established and as useful as the theory of gravity.

As a closing thought, consider ebola. It is big in the news right now. Please review this article: http://thenaturalhistorian.com/2014/10/24/fossil-virus-found-in-hamsters-points-to-an-ancient-origin-of-ebola-virus/

(I reblogged that blog article previously.) Consider that virus DNA sometimes gets mixed up into animal DNA, and it goes along for the ride through the generations. The Natural Historian discusses an example of such with regard to ebola and hamsters and voles. Do hamsters and voles fit your definition of “kinds”?

Consider this: http://biologos.org/blog/the-evolutionary-origins-of-genetic-information-part-1

That set of articles goes in-depth explaining what we know of biological evolution in genetics.

Regardless, there are plenty of confirmable examples of speciation. It takes a determined, a predetermined, mindset to ignore the evidence and keep asking for more. Jesus had it happen to him, and he replied that the only sign would be his resurrection. Well, I can’t and won’t make such claims, but I find it insulting to be badgered about examples of speciation when a simple Google search can find many, many examples in the published literature in seconds.

Further, evolution does not depend on confirmation of a common ancestor for all of us apes. In fact, the practicality of evolution doesn’t depend on any aspect of it being proven. The fact remains that it is useful. It is probably the most useful and most beneficial theory in all of science, in all of history.

Finally, let’s go so far as to suppose some knowledge and evidences are discovered that are so profound that all of biological evolution is “disproven” and abandoned and replaced by new theories that work even better. Then what? Would it prove God? Would it lend any support to creationism? No. It would not. God would still be approachable ONLY by faith. The railers would still rail. No new thing would be under the sun.

Accordingly, I close with a question: Why fight me and others who accept the obvious? Why tell me I’m wrong to acknowledge evolution? Why badger me for evidence you won’t accept? Why pretend some society or organization will give me money if I “prove” evolution? You know good and well that no one will ever collect on such an “offer.” The criteria set are simply impossible. Why not admit that such offers are only grandstanding? Admit that such offers are disingenuous.

Obey Jesus and love.

JOSHUA A. KRISCH, OCT. 13, 2014, writing for the New York Times, here, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/science/haunted-files-the-eugenics-record-office-recreates-a-dark-time-in-a-laboratorys-past.html, describes an exhibit set up to remind us the horrors of eugenics.

It is insightful. I particularly liked the following paragraph.

My comments:

When the Eugenics Record Office opened its doors in 1910, the founding scientists were considered progressives, intent on applying classic genetics to breeding better citizens. Funding poured in from the Rockefeller family and the Carnegie Institution. Charles Davenport, a prolific Harvard biologist, and his colleague, Harry H. Laughlin, led the charge.

First, the founders of eugenics were not “considered” progressives, they WERE the luminaries of all things progressive and liberal minded. The were the very definition of then-modern leftist thinking. They had no compunction regarding compulsory policies and imposing their will on others. The inferiors owed it to the progressive elites. The sacrifice for the betterment of the elite would be taken for granted, but the elite would understand. Those poor inferiors, those experimented on, those forcibly sterilized and worse, were simply the price of progress. The same applies today in climate alarmism and public education. Yes, two so disparate fields are being treated the same by the elite. The elite simply expect us to submit, to comply, to die as the subjects of their experiments.

Note the names in the paragraphs. Could not a paragraph on the Common Core State Standards be written changing a very few words and the names? The Gates Foundation comes to mind. Follow the money. Follow the power, the control. It is the same, and it is just as evil. Yes, CCSS is just as evil as eugenics. Likewise with climate change alarmism, but it is enough different I’ll leave it here.

The entire article can apply point for point, almost word for word, to the experiment we call public education and the contrived experiment of the Common Core State Standards constrictions being applied to it.

CCSS is progressivist. Anyone how supports it is progressivist, liberal, leftist. Interestingly, many political Democrats do not support CCSS. It is too liberal for them. Sadly, too many political Republicans hold out for the CCSS. Who can tell why. My first suspicion is that they are more elitist and more progressive than even most left-leaning elitists.

And this:

“The Eugenics Record Office was built around very systematized ideas that still might be seen as legitimate today,” said Noah Fuller, an artist and co-curator of the exhibit. “At the time, this was widely accepted as legitimate science.”

It was settled science. It is still accepted today as evidenced by the flood that became CCSS. That flood that is being turned back by angry mothers and caring teachers.

Don’t pretend you, we, are too sophisticated to institutionalize such policies today. We did it. We, the hoi polloi, are turning it back and cleansing our society of this sin, but the elites are fighting. Progressivists and liberals are in it for the long game. They will not relent. We must never relinquish our freedoms, our rights, and our responsibilities. It is up to us. Resistance is not futile.

There are truths here, and lessons to be learned regarding immigrants too. Don’t be part of the problem. Those wanting to come here are mostly good and good for us and our society. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Mr. Micklos sat in a wooden chair and thumbed through a few of the files. “This is pretty much exactly what it would’ve looked like,” he said.

He shook his head and added, “Think of all the people whose lives were completely out of their own control.”

This statement applies exactly to millions of our children in our society today! Let it not stand.

“I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.” Richard Feynman

I agree with Dr. Shughart, but he misses the point.

http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=5027

The alternative to coil, oil, natural gas, and nuclear is not wind and solar. Heaven knows it is not wind! Despite the assurances of prominent science communicators, solar cannot and never will provide significant amounts of the power we need to survive.

See, the alternative to coil, oil, natural gas, and nuclear is slavery and death.

Before the energy era, primarily based on fossil fuel, life was hard, brutish, and short. Those who lived in a poor semblance of affluence did so at the direct expense of others: slaves, serfs, vassals, subjects, whatever the name, culture, and time. Note, we pretend that is still the case, but that is a lie. Everyman in the developed world is free to own his own stuff and work for his own benefit, not his lord’s. The liberals and progressives are working diligently to make us a feudal system again, but most of the time I don’t believe they are succeeding.

Regardless, energy for machines and technology have freed us from the misery that was life for most of human history.

The only alternative to coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear is misery. There will always be powerful people. Our current system of politics and readily available, reasonably inexpensive energy is the only attainable way to keep the powerful from enslaving and killing the rest of us.

Our collective history skews us to fear the powerful. Our recent history of the success (to a poor extent, but the illusion is powerful) of the masses, the labor movement, and some of the popular uprisings make us think we can collectively control the powerful. We cannot.

Our only defense against the powerful is readily, reliably available energy (fuel, power, electricity) at affordable prices for the people. Then the individual is empowered to defend himself. (Ladies, you are included. Don’t get political over grammar rules.)

Dr. Shughart suggests that CO2 is problematic. It is not.

Carbon dioxide is plant food. Anyone against feeding plants is also against feeding people. More plant food means more plants. More plants means more to eat and fewer people starving. The other factor in ending starvation is readily available fuel and electricity to get the food to the starving and refrigerate it until they get to eat it.

Again, being against coal especially, but coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear collectively, is to be for slavery, starvation, and death. This goes for oil infrastructure too, like the Keystone Pipeline.

Got it? If you act against coal, you are acting in favor of enslaving and starving people, your brothers, your fellow-man.

Power to the people means coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear.

I am struck that it seems to be Reform (as in John Calvin) teachers who are trying hard to reconcile faith with science.

Greg Cootsona is an associate pastor at Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Chico, California. (Home to my favorite meteorologist, Anthony Watts, since Gary England retired.) Anyway, he has written a short article about determinism.

http://cootsona.blogspot.com/2014/05/genetic-determinism-materialism-freedom.html

I’ve never understood the notion. If determinism is true, how could we tell? I mean, if my brain is determined to think by outside forces that I can in no wise control, how can I know I know anything at all?

Here is the fact: I am accountable. I will be judged, ultimately and in the absolute sense, and I can trust that I will be judged justly. There will be a day of reckoning, balancing the books. The fact is that there is such a thing as justice and right, and evil is so easy to understand because it too is real. Choose! You are responsible for your choices, so choose wisely.

I’m trying to internalize this fact into all I am and all I do. I hope you will do so too.

Andrew Wollitzer, Pastor of Berkeley Covenant Church, provides the following sermon regarding science and religion. He mostly tells his own story.

He titles it, “Why Should We Care?”.

http://www.scientistsincongregations.org/media/2012_07_08_Why_Should_I_Caremp3.mp3

Consider taking three-quarters of an hour and be edified. He addresses well why science matters to Christians. The above is from Scientists in Congregations:

http://www.scientistsincongregations.org/resources/audio-recordings/

And the Berkeley church website is here:

http://www.berkeleycov.org/

Here is the link to the sermon from their site. http://www.berkeleycov.org/audio/sermonMP3s/2012_07_08_Why_Should_I_Care.mp3

Never lie to your children. Not in the least. Not in any way.

 

Here are resources for research on Common Core State Standards.

I like that title. “OK” for both okay and Oklahoma. It flabbergasts me how politics makes such strange bedfellows.

The Pioneer Institute (Massachusetts) provides a two-page fact sheet on the background of the Common Core State Standards. Dr. Sandra Stotsky put it together. Recall she was one of five (out of 30) who refused to sign off on the validation report of the CCSS. Wiki has this to say about her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandra_Stotsky.

A group called Truth in American Education has articles by various authors. This link, http://truthinamericaneducation.com/tag/sandra-stotsky/, will pull up information by and about the good doctor.

The TiAE also provides this statement: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/home-schoolprivate-school/ worthy of your consideration. I consider this last paragraph worth repeating:

  • Restricts Parental Involvement in Children’s Education: Perhaps the greatest concern with the establishment of a national standard is the lack of parental choice, control, and involvement in their child’s education. With greater federal control of education, parents lose control and the ability to hold their child’s educators accountable.  National standards will contribute to the federal trend of diminishing parenthood in favor of greater control by centralized federal and state bureaucracies.

Amazing. If you haven’t been there, nothing is more distressing. The CCSS and the overall movement toward nationalized standards and least-common-denominator education makes worker bees, even mindless drones, of our children, and most of us cannot be bothered to notice.

Note that the Pioneer Inst. is in Massachusetts. Note that Massachusetts implemented effective educational reform and standards about 20 year ago. The CCSS are touted as based on what Massachusetts did. Obviously these citizens of that state feel they have been betrayed and let down. CCSS is not nearly as good as what they had.

http://pioneerinstitute.org/schoolhouse/

http://commoncoremovie.com/

There is so much it is difficult to even begin to organize it. There are so many reasons that CCSS is just more of the same failed progressivist policies and educational “reform” that has been going on for decades.

What reforms have not been tried over the last forty or fifty years? Sure, there were small, isolated successes, but mostly our education system grew worse and the results of education stayed about the same, with few ever finding their actual potential, and more and more money thrown at the basics, the reforms, and the research. All for essentially zero gain, with more and more adversarial relations between the education establishment and parents, even between the establishment and teachers.

The Achieve, Inc. organization holds the motto: All students should graduate from high school ready for college, careers and citizenship

Do you think that sounds good? I don’t. I think it is monstrous. Such an attitude holds students in contempt. Such an attitude is totally selfish, totally focused on the utility of individuals in the service of the collective, the collective that benefits those who hold such views. In fact, those who hold such views tend to be pulling the strings and manipulating the collective to their own liking.

First, societally we must change our attitude of thinking of children as future. No, children are now! Children are citizens now, regular people now, ready to contribute now. Sure, we parents have huge responsibilities in leading, teaching, and guiding our little ones, and we must protect them, while balancing the continuing requirement to grant ever-increasing freedom and responsibility (and the consequences). Maturity matters, but after about 12 years of age, character is what determines maturity.

Kids must grow up, but freedom and choice is the road we travel together. Choice is so often touted by those who want to limit choice. Everyone, no matter what age, should have as much choice as possible, short of imminent danger to self or others.

Scott Adams (Dilbert) has taken to renouncing goals and objective-oriented thinking. He is right, and CCSS is all about the goals and objectives. Objectives have the consequence of objectifying those involved in obtaining the objectives. Soldiers are the classic example. Real soldiers, people, in real wars (real hell), are hardly more than the pieces on the board in the game room (or the video screen) because the objective is what counts. We must ensure our children count from conception forward. All the time. Every time. In all circumstances. Every person is a person, just like Horton’s Whoville, no matter how small, no matter how insignificant in the big picture.

A system that will improve our education system would start with repeal of truancy laws. Compulsion is always bad, always immoral.

Such a system wouldn’t have unions, because the teachers and parents are partners, who are both partners with the students. Administration should be just that, and nothing more.

Such a system would keep parents and teachers working together, not adversarially. It won’t be easy. It won’t require more money than we already spend, but it will cause lots of pain to those in power in the education establishment.

I think we can do it. I know we can live with it.

Change starts in the heart, not in the legislature! Read the rest of this entry »

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