Since god didn’t create the matter, where did it come from?

June 20, 2008 at 11:58 pm 86 comments

At the moment, the consensus in the scientific community is that the universe originated in a “Big Bang.” While that may be hotly contested by the religious community, there are certain facts that make the theory hard to easily dispel. One of those facts is that astronomers can observe the visible universe moving further and further away at increasing speed in all directions (and no we are not at the center of the universe.)

Some of the questions raised by those opposed to the theory are “what happened to cause the Big Bang?”, and “where did all that stuff come from?” Just such a question was mentioned by John, a 15 year old also struggling with matters of faith and reason, who commented on my previous post “Branding an Adolescent Mind”:

Although, i speak to anyone willing to try to convert me but i have never heard anything that really made me wonder about the truthfullness of their beliefs. The one line that i really couldn’t answer was, ‘despite from the big bang and any of those scientific beliefs, where did all that matter come from?’ My only answer i could give to that christian crusader was, ‘Who are you to say that it all began from a superior being or entity, for some reason, deciding this should be and made it happen?’

Before I make an amateur attempt to answer that question, I want to say that science isn’t about having the one right answer. The thing I that I have come to admire most about science is the pursuit to ask better questions and find better answers. Many times throughout history science operated based on the best answers they had to work from at the time. When better evidence came along, those answers were set aside in light of what they later learned to be true. Nothing is sacred. Even what we consider to be scientific fact is really the best possible answer to a given problem at the moment.

Although there are “laws” of physics, there are places where those basic laws break down and do not hold to be true, such as extreme environments like super massive black holes or the very early stages of expansion immediately after the Big Bang. I believe that whenever scientists hold their answers to be “infallible and inerrant,” they cease to be scientists and become religious zealots. I say all of that to say that I don’t have the definative answers to these big questions either. However, I do have better answers that I used to have, and I’m learning to ask better questions.

The simple answer to “where did all that stuff come from?” is a theory which says it came from a singularity, in which all of the matter in the universe was compressed into a space smaller than an atom. The better question that we are asking now is “what happened before the Big Bang?” Truthfully, no one knows. That’s why they call it theoretical physics, but as you would expect there are a number of evolving theories.

I tend to think that the answer to where it came from is the same as where it is going. The problem we have as humans is that we think of time as a linear concept, starting at point A in the past and moving toward point B in the future at a constant rate. Einstein’s theories show that time is indeed a relative thing. I wonder if time isn’t more circular. Can you find the beginning of a circle? Can you show me it’s end? It’s a senseless question. For us to keep asking where it all came from and where is it going may be just as senseless, because it may be that there was no beginning and there will be no end. Sounds strangely divine doesn’t it?

There are two prevailing theories as to how the universe will end that help us to answer how it began. One is that it will end in “fire and brimstone,” known as the Big Crunch. The other is that it will end in ice, known as the Big Chill. Again, this is my best amateur explanation of these ideas. The Big Crunch says that at some point the attractional force of gravity will slow down the expansion of the universe until a point that it begins to collapse back onto itself, eventually all the way back to a singularity once more. In this theory of the end of everything you also have the beginning of everything. This expanding/collapsing pattern repeats itself literally to “worlds without end.”

On the other hand, the Big Chill says that the universe will continue expanding at an ever increasing rate of speed such that gravity is not strong enough to overcome the expansion. As matter in the universe continues to move further and further apart, stars will eventually die from a lack of fuel. The fate of this universe is a cold, dark and silent death. You can almost see how religious fundamentalists would appreciate the Big Crunch theory, if not for the the circular pattern of unlimited worlds and lives without end part. However, more of the scientific community is leaning towards the Big Chill theory as being more plausible.

I have enjoyed Stephen Hawking’s books immensely, especially his work on super massive black holes and Parallel Universes. My simple understanding of them is that it’s possible that an immense amount of gravity is compressed within a super massive black hole into a singularity, similar to what originated the Big Bang. At those extremes the fundamental laws of physics break down and theoretical physics steps in to fill in the gaps. In the theory of parallel universes it is possible that the compressed matter and energy of super massive black holes may actually result in a Big Bang of its own, resulting in a completely new and different universe from our own. If in fact it’s possible that super massive black holes result in a parallel universe, there would be an infinite number of parallel universes possible, not of all of which operate under the same laws of physics as ours.

After 30 years of research, Hawking reversed his theory on parallel universes and says now that after an immense amount of time super massive black holes die and eject their matter/energy back into the universe in an unrecognizable form from the original. Proving yet again that science like ourselves is a work in progress.

I share all of that to say that there is no one answer, at least not yet. We just have better answers and better questions than we used to have. The reality is that our average human lifetime is infinitely small in comparison to the life cycle of even this one known universe that we are in. No amount of science or religion will change the fact that each of us, everyone of us, will one day die. We will cease to be, at least in the linear concept of time that we live with. We are the children of stardust. Our bodies are literally comprised of elements derived from the stars. Given enough time, we will return to our source, whenever and wherever that may be. With those thoughts in mind I am far more inclined to believe in past lifetimes and future lifetimes than I am the Rapture. I am far more inclined to believe in the interconnectedness of all life. I am far more inclined to want to take care of the world we live in, and I am far more inclined to appreciate life, every life, for the wonderful rare and beautiful gift that it is. Good luck on your journey.

- Lyndon

Entry filed under: Lyndon. Tags: , , , , , .

Why d-C? – Stand Back, I’m going to try SCIENCE! Why I Support Intelligent Design

86 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rachel  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:12 am

    the consensus in the scientific community is that the universe originated in a “Big Bang.” While that may be hotly contested by the religious community, there are certain facts that make the theory hard to easily dispel.

    Actually, religious people who know what they’re talking about like the Big Bang theory. Sounds a lot like the biblical doctrine of creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing).

  • 2. Cthulhu  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:36 am

    The thing I that I have come to admire most about science is the pursuit to ask better questions and find better answers.

    Exactly – science is NOT the facts…it is the process. It is the scientific method that has rolled back the curtain of our ignorance.

  • 3. Bad  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I think it’s a real misunderstanding to think of the Big Bang as the start of the universe. It’s the state of the universe as e know it. More than that, we cannot really say.

  • 4. give2getangel  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Bravo, Lyndon.

    I, myself, have been a Christian for only 5 years. I have found that the search for answers of any kind requires some element of faith, filling in the blanks so to speak.

    The one thing I never had much trouble with, though, is believing that everything HAD to start with some kind of creation. How do lungs “evolve” out of nowhere when a creature is dependent on gills? How does man — an emotional being capable of giving its life so save others — evolve from creatures dependent strictly on survival instincts? (And, BTW, where do instincts come from?) And, the biggest questions of all — where did DNA come from; and how do trillions of independent, uniquely specialized cells “evolve” from a single cell fertilized by another single cell? (Lungs, eyes, brains, hearts are ALL, to me, impossible to “evolve,” much less all end up in the right places.) LIFE is a miracle.

    Belief and faith have to be a choice at some level. As the saying goes —

    If the Kingdom of God is a myth, no harm done by one’s disbelief.

    But, what if I’m right? Imagine the consequences.

    I don’t have all the answers, but I CHOOSE faith.

  • 5. Jonathan Blake  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:21 am

    On this issue, I take comfort that no one has satisfying answers: not science and not religion. We may never have a good answer to how or why the universe exists.

    give2getangel,

    If the Kingdom of God is a myth, no harm done by one’s disbelief. But, what if I’m right? Imagine the consequences.

    What if you’re wrong about the Hindu gods? Imagine the consequences. ;)

    If you haven’t already, it should provoke some thought to read about Pascal’s Wager.

  • 6. The de-Convert  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:36 am

    give2getangel,

    I’m not sure you’d say “Bravo” to Lyndon if you re-read his post carefully :)

    If the Kingdom of God is a myth, no harm done by one’s disbelief. But, what if I’m right? Imagine the consequences.

    Implying, of course, the possibility of non-Christians spending an eternity of torture in the fires of hell. I disagree with the disimpassioned attitude of this statement. If Christians are wrong, there are many actions over the past 2000 years that could have been done differently to promote unity in the world.

    Christians have conducted crusades, fought wars, carried out witch-hunts, damned people to hell, labeled most other religions “of the devil”, and a host of other actions that have served to be divisive instead of being a unifying force. Christians need to remember that their history is no different than what is seen in radical Islam today. Islam is just a few centuries younger than Christianity, but they are on the same evolutionary path.

    However, it’s not just about history. Fundamental Christianity continues to be a dividing force in society. They do not have tolerance for those who do not subscribe to their moral code, and they even attempt to legislate against what many Christians consider immoral (abortion, homosexuality, etc.).

    They spread this intolerance, condemnation and hate instead promoting love, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and tolerance. Unfortunately, most fundamental Christians have been taught that tolerance is compromise.

    So I disagree with your premise and that of Pascal’s wager.

    In fact, I like our wager much better:

    Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

    Paul

  • 7. Bad  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:58 am

    give2getangel: I have found that the search for answers of any kind requires some element of faith, filling in the blanks so to speak.

    This is sort of like saying “I’ve found the secret to becoming a great poker player: cheating!”

    The one thing I never had much trouble with, though, is believing that everything HAD to start with some kind of creation. How do lungs “evolve” out of nowhere when a creature is dependent on gills?

    As luck would have it, I was just explaining this to a recent commenter! As you can see, it’s quite possible for the evolution of lungs to not only be functionally plausible all along the way, but we even have plenty of historical and environmental evidence that it did happen in this way.

    Oh, and we actually aren’t sure if gills or the pouchings that would eventually become either lungs or air bladders came first. Remember, not all creatures need gills: gills are as much an advancement as lungs were.

    How does man — an emotional being capable of giving its life so save others — evolve from creatures dependent strictly on survival instincts?

    Again, even if you look to the modern animal kingdom, you find a continuum here, not that all animals are pure instinct. And surprise, surprise: as you travel along our family tree, you find more social bonding and complex emotional response the closer and closer you get to relatives of mankind.

    And, the biggest questions of all — where did DNA come from; and how do trillions of independent, uniquely specialized cells “evolve” from a single cell fertilized by another single cell?

    Your second question is actually one of embryology, not evolution, though evolution is responsible for how embryological expression changed over time, leading to different creatures as outcomes There’s actually quite a lot of interesting knowledge when it comes to showing how this process works: how a single cell builds a body.

    Where did DNA come from? We don’t know everything about its origins. But that’s not the same thing as what you seem to believe, which is that we don’t know ANYTHING about where it came from.

    If the Kingdom of God is a myth, no harm done by one’s disbelief. But, what if I’m right? Imagine the consequences.

    But what if God exists, but rewards skeptics for independent thinking rather than people that hew close to dogma?

    In short, you cannot possibly calculate consequences when literally anything is possible.

  • 8. TheNerd  |  June 21, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    One thing I dislike about Christianity (as with most religions) is that they consider the scientific “we don’t know” to be a weakness. What is wrong with “I don’t know”? Why is it considered better to blindly accept a possible falsity than admit to not knowing the truth?

    Believers in absolutes like to point out our “I don’t knows” and shout AHA! So you don’t know! That means I’m right! But is knowing something, anything at all really better than being open to knowing the truth, if it should happen to be known in one’s lifetime?

    The fact is, reality does not need to be known for it to be real (yes, I know about quantum physics, but particles still exist as a probability field even when we aren’t paying attention to them). The origin of the universe isn’t sitting around waiting for someone to believe in it. Saying that we believe in fairies (as in the play Peter Pan), won’t keep them from dying when they never existed in the first place.

  • 9. seeker767  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    “Everything comes from something – although many physicists disagree”, also; “In the beginning of this universe was [physically] nothing – which exploded” Something non-physical created this universe. Science will never “know it all” Why? Its materialistic.

  • 10. seeker767  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    The belief in God, and [macro] evolution do not contradict.

  • 11. seeker767  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Combining science and spirituality could do a whole bunch of good. Mystics about 2,000 years ago have said things that science has just recently found to be true. Physical reality is nowhere near the fullness of all reality.There is more than meets the eye. Science can be deaf, and spirituality can be blind – religion is different.

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    seeker767:

    Mystics about 2,000 years ago have said things that science has just recently found to be true.

    Can you please provide some specific examples of this? Please give the source and a full quote.

  • 13. Cthulhu  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    seeker767,

    Everything comes from something – although many physicists disagree

    Wrong…ever heard of the quantum flucuations of the vacuum?

    In the beginning of this universe was [physically] nothing – which exploded

    Which physicist said that?

    Something non-physical created this universe

    Please provide empirical proof for that statement.

    Science will never “know it all”

    Never pretended to…what is your point?

    The belief in God, and [macro] evolution do not contradict.

    Agreed.

    Mystics about 2,000 years ago have said things that science has just recently found to be true

    What mystics? And what facts in physics are you referring to?

    I sincerely look forward to your response.

    Cheers…

  • 14. owen59  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    From Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith, circa 1870s, “That which hath been in existence had existed before, but not in the form thou seest today. The world of existence came into being through the heat generated from the interaction between the active force and that which is its recipient. These two are the same, yet they are different. Thus doth the Great Announcement inform thee about this glorious structure. Such as communicate the generating influence and such as receive its impact are indeed created through the irresistible Word of God which is the Cause of the entire creation, while all else besides His Word are but the creatures and the effects thereof. Verily thy Lord is the Expounder, the All-Wise.”
    (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 140)

  • 15. Cthulhu  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Leo,

    Darn – you beat me to the ‘Submit’ button :-)

  • 16. Cthulhu  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    owen59,

    Huh???

  • 17. Cthulhu  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    seeker767,

    apologies – should have asked…

    What mystics? And what facts in SCIENCE are you referring to?

    Thanks!

  • 18. Cthulhu  |  June 21, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Lyndon,

    By the way – nice post on my favorite subject – cosmology :-) And you did a pretty good job explaining things. If you enjoy Hawkings books, may I recommend Brian Greene’s ‘The Elegant Universe’? Makes super-string theory accessable to us normal non-mathmetical superhuman folks ;-)

  • 19. Bad  |  June 21, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Something non-physical created this universe.

    Not only do we not know that, but we don’t really even know what that means. What is an existing, but “non-physical” thing? What exactly does that concept achieve in helping us understand anything at all?

    Science will never “know it all” Why? Its materialistic.

    Science is limited, but by its requirement that there be examinable evidence, not by “materialism” per se. In any case, no one has ever explained any sort of “non-material” system for understanding anything, so its a moot point.

  • 20. Cthulhu  |  June 21, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Bad,

    Science is limited, but by its requirement that there be examinable evidence, not by “materialism” per se.

    Good point – science is naturalistic, not materialistic. But Christians don’t care for that answer either. What they fail to realize is that all hypotheses MUST be falsifiable in science – and the first time you admit the supernatural that goes flying out the window. This is also the reason that ‘Intelligent Design’ can never BE science.

  • 21. Perry Robinson  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    It isn’t that via physics that we don’t know what explains the big bang, but that we can’t know since physics only deals with events conformable to the laws of nature and these laws only came into reality logically and/or temporally after the big bang. But it is not senseless to ask why there was a universe as opposed to nothing at all? What explains the big bang? Positing an analogy with circles does no work since the laws of physics don’t lead you to something that explains the big bang, which it would need to for the analogy to fit. Furthermore, to say that it “may be” the case that there was no beginning and will be no end is not only a rather blind expression of fideism, but runs counter to what we do know from physics, namely that the universe had a first moment.

    And linear thinking about time is more of a western (Hebrew) way of looking at things. Many other cultures thought of time as circular or cyclical.

  • 22. Perry Robinson  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    The de-Convert,

    Not all Christians think of hell as the imposition of retributive punishment, though that has been a popular way of thinking about it in western Christianity. As for the Crusades, truth be told, they were by and large defensive wars against Islamic aggression. It took the Spanish 600 years to get their country back from the Moors. It is true that a number of people professing the name of Christ have done immoral acts, but were these things done on the basis of Christian principles or contrary to them? Is there anything essential in Christian theology that requires them or commands them? Consequently, the comparison with Islam is comparing apples and oranges. To be fair, secularism has exterminated or lent itself to the extermination of more people in the last century than all of the religious wars combined. And it isn’t clear secularism has the resources to justify a moral condemnation of those acts. Further, while Christians have not always tolerated and still do not tolerate those who do not share their moral code, this isn’t always bad say in the cases of infanticide, which was widely practiced prior to the advent of Christianity or slavery, which Christian Europe outlawed by the time Islam came about.

    Further, your wager is useless since the moral terms are too ambiguous. We do not all agree on what constites mercy, compassion and such or what constitutes “better.”

  • 23. Cthulhu  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Perry,

    the universe had a first moment

    Yes – from all evidence OUR universe had a first moment. As for the question whay, are you familiar with the Anthropic Principle? Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle for a good definition and brief explanation.

    We do not all agree on what constites mercy, compassion and such or what constitutes “better.”

    I will agree only on the term ‘better’. I think almost all humanity has a good grasp of what mercy and compassion are. If you have proof or good indicators of the opposite, I will be glad to listen. Any, yes I know, that we often do not demonstrate that we know these things, but I know what ‘perfection’ means also – and I am far from perfect.

  • 24. mke  |  June 22, 2008 at 1:52 am

    Generally, we will all have a similar view of compassion and mercy, but then our differing world views inform the less general moral issues like homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, etc. We all know (for the most part) that murder is wrong, but it’s pretty obvious, though, that there are many schools of thought on capital punishment, each guided by a different world view. The problem is that there are people who make arguments for their view that assume their view. Like “a woman should have a choice what she does with her body” and “abortion is murder”, both of these assume that they are right in their argument. With these more acute moral issues, the problem is not a general view of compassion, mercy, or “better”, it’s a world view issue.

    People love to talk about the crusades, like it makes a point about religion, but it’s simply one of those arguments that people use in an attempt to shut people up. These people going on about the religious fundamentalists love to grab at centuries old wars, or any small percentage of people to try and make a point about religion. They ignore the incredible good men and women have done around the world in the name of their religions. To make any argument about a particular religion, you need to look at what that religion teaches, it’s books, the words of its founders and then decide whether a certain groups actions are a product of that religion. I could go out tonight killing and raping, saying you told me to, and according to these people you would be to blame as much as me.

  • 25. tim  |  June 22, 2008 at 2:04 am

    so here’s my question.
    You can’t get something physical out of nothing, there has to be an agent to start anything. and you cant have something physical that doesn’t have a beginning. So even if you could go back and see when all physical life started, you would have to have something non-physical to start the first physical thing, be it a big bang or whatever. Because it there was something physical that brought about the big bang, it would need a beginning, right?

  • 26. Jonathan Blake  |  June 22, 2008 at 9:29 am

    You can’t get something physical out of nothing,

    A lot depends on your definition of physical. If you mean something like “material or solid”, then see vacuum energy whereby particles spontaneously emerge in a vacuum.

    there has to be an agent to start anything

    Including the agent? :)

    and you cant have something physical that doesn’t have a beginning

    This again fails to take vacuum fluctuations into account.

    So even if you could go back and see when all physical life started, you would have to have something non-physical to start the first physical thing, be it a big bang or whatever.

    This depends on the definition of non-physical. Do you mean immaterial, or do you perhaps mean something that doesn’t obey physical laws? You’re also assuming that there must be a first “thing”.

  • 27. Bad  |  June 22, 2008 at 9:39 am

    You can’t get something physical out of nothing, there has to be an agent to start anything.

    Things wrong with this statement:

    1) We don’t actually know what you can “get out of nothing.” We have no context or experience at all to talk about how things work outside of our local universe, and the laws of thermodynamics actually have a loophole by which “somethings” can emerge in vacuums as long as they include countering energy.
    2) An “agent,” almost by definition, isn’t “nothing” and so you’re basically contradicting the original problem. If there was something, then there was never nothing in the first place, and hence no issue.

    Because it there was something physical that brought about the big bang, it would need a beginning, right?

    The Big Bang had a beginning. But the beginning of the BB was not any sort of known ontological beginning of anything. It was simply the start of the universe as we are familiar with it. We don’t know what came “before” it or if that even makes sense to ask (because of the way time works). We certainly don’t know of any “nothing” out of which anything came.

  • 28. Obi  |  June 22, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Blargh. There are a lot of things wrong with the original topic post, but oddly, the thing that struck me the most was the claim that theoretical physicists are so named because they deal with things that can’t be knowable…which is utter foolishness. Theoretical physicists are those physicists who devise new theories, and experimental physicists are those who test them.

    Also, we’re talking about scientific theories here, not everyday colloquial “hunch” theories.

    Anyway, matter didn’t have to come from anywhere. That’s a rather foolish idea that I often see touted around by the religious in an attempt to show that God must exist. The Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy tell us that mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed — meaning that it’s eternal. Thus, it most likely existed “eternally” in the singularity that birthed our Universe until that fateful “moment” when time was created during it’s inflation.

    Physicists hypothesize that a quantum fluctuation or some other uncaused event of the sort caused this inflation to happen, causing the birth of our Universe. If theists want to worship an “uncaused cause” and call it God, then they can worship these quantum fluctuations.

  • 29. Perry Robinson  |  June 22, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Cthulhu,

    Our universe is the only universe we know of. If you have reasn to think that there might be others, please let me know.

    I am not sure how you think the Anthropic Principle helps in this regard. Of course, I’d need a good reason for thinking it was true, particularly from your perspective. Its like the PSR, it may or may not be true.

    Even if it were true that most humans had a good grasp as to what constitutes mercy and such things, it doesn’t follow that the ideas are true or that they can be justified in just any old way or from just any perspective. Agreement doesn’t imply truth. Further, it seems that most people do not have a good grasp on what moral terms mean since there is wide disagreement as to what they mean, not to mention how to apply them.

  • 30. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Perry,

    Some theories of physics imply a multi-verse with ours just being one of many. During the formulation of quantum mechanics 2 views arose out of the Schrödinger wave function – the Copenhagen and many-worlds interpretations. Just like it sounds, the many-worlds interpretation is a multi-verse. it also seems to be a feature of super-string and M-theory – we are an island universe in a sea of other universes. With our current technology, we have no way to access these other universes.

    As to the anthropic principle – it is one (and I admit not the most satisfactory) explanation of why the universe is here – it has to be here or we would not be here to observe it.

    As to mercy and compassion – you are changing the question. I believe that I and others answered your first question already. As to the truth, just what perspective (bet I can guess – The Bible!!!) most you come from to agree on truth? If you are Christian, you use your moral judgment to say the Bible is the basisi for all morality. If you are atheist, you use the same moral judgment to assess the truth of moral responsibility – you just don’t have an old book that condones slavery, wholesale slaughter and ridiculous sexual repression telling you what is right or wrong. You must judge these things in light of your own judgment and societal norms.

  • 31. jakecollier  |  June 23, 2008 at 9:52 am

    The Bible – though it is to be adored by those of the Christian faith – gets FAR too much credit in this debate. The bible is a story, recorded by the fathers of the faith, and we believe they followed divine inspiration to record what was written. This does not mean we draw every conclusion about life and science from the Bible, but it does mean the Bible will always be one of the best references we have, and our faith will be strengthened by continuing to study it, always walking away with fresh perspectives and new insight into its words.

    Jesus does not get nearly enough credit as being “The Word of God”, which He is called multiple times in scripture. He is the action of God, the spoken, living Word that brings us to new life… sometimes we confuse this “word” with that “Word”.

    And because of this, we actually draw morality from God. We draw it from Jesus, God’s active example of how life is best to be lived on earth. We see examples of God’s method for holiness in the scriptures, but Jesus is the consummation and resolution of any ends humanity felt God had left loose in regards to having a relationship with Him, and in how we are to live our lives.

    As far as the anthropic principle is concerned, I must say I find it entirely exciting and fascinating. The thought that human perspective constrains us to see higher truths about all of existence is something I, and many other Christians/Creationsists have believed for a very, very long time. The very idea of gluons passing back and forth from dimension to dimension is almost inconceivable.

    It becomes a danger, however, when theories that will arise from this anthropic principle or others are held in high esteem, while the “I.D. Theory” is discarded with the rest of the rubbish. What makes it so detestable to believe God sits on his throne at the end of the “rabbit hole” science is wonderfully opening to us as the years pass? What makes it intellectually dissatisfying?

    This is something I’ve never understood, and I’ve been involved in many, many conversations with those well informed on the latest topics like string theory and quantum physics… still no issues for my belief. Big Bang, evolution… nope. No issues there. And I don’t see how anyone can discard it without discarding the other “theories”.

    I’ve never been angry about it. Most fellows I’ve discussed these matters with have been very kind, and very concise. The discussions have been educational and fascinating. I’ve made new friends in the process. I just get confused with complete dismissal of a belief that is at it’s very least reasonable.

    Take Care. Grace and Peace. -j

  • 32. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 10:03 am

    jakecollier,

    I have a simple question for you – and this is serious and I am NOT trying to make fun of you at all.

    How do you decide which verses in the Bible to use and which to ignore as your moral guide? The reason I ask is this – people have been cherry picking the Bible for years to justify actions and attitudes. It seems to me you must consider it all or reject it as contradictory. I can selectively use the Bible to give support to things like slavery and mass murder – not very moral IMHO.

    Thanks…

  • 33. jakecollier  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Cthulhu-

    No offense taken at all, Cthulhu. I don’t decide what verses of the Bible to use and which to ignore. They exist as a whole. As I stated before, Jesus is the Word of God, and he is our shining beacon of life best lived. He is “the consummation and resolution of any ends humanity felt God had left loose in regards to having a relationship with Him, and in how we are to live our lives”.

    This means He is the ultimate method, despite the methods God has used in history. Humanity has been on a crash course ever since they violated God’s trust in the Garden of Eden. Man fell from his utopian relationship with God by betraying Him… this loving God gives his creatures the freedom to love Him back. He doesn’t demand it. Instead, He gives Adam and Eve the freedom that love must have to truly BE LOVE. You can’t love someone if you don’t have the ability to hurt them. It’s the choice to NOT hurt someone that means you love them.

    Ever since this issue, humanity has bee going through cycles of living in harmony with God, and straying from Him (we find that the bigger humanity gets, the easier it is for them to stray from God’s design… such as enormous corporations like NIKE and THE GAP employing child labor). God has always wanted to preserve humanity, knowing that one day they will choose to love Him again. This divine being wants to share himself – the only perfect thing in existence – with his creatures. How wonderful.

    But humanity screws up, so God finds one righteous man among them, tells him to build and ark, and floods the earth, killing all of humanity but the one family (Noah and his kin) who was living in harmony with God. Noah fills the earth again with His offspring, and God promises never to do this again on this scale (the rainbow being a symbol of his promise).

    After this, you have God sending His people (Israel) of to war, you have slavery (on different terms than we know it, mind you), and polygamy. These are all questions that always come up this day and age. Is polygamy wrong? Obviously not, since it’s in the bible (sarcastic, Cthulhu). Is slavery wrong? Obviously not, since it’s in the bible. War? Nope. In the bible.

    All I can tell you is that God has changed his method in history, focussing it down to the needle point of Jesus when He entered the scene. Slavery was used, but a slave was most often viewed as a friend or part of the family this day and age. There were different kinds of slavery… the slavery Israel underwent in Egypt was tyrannical and wrong. The terms of slavery in Israel’s camp were different, and God allowed it.

    Then you have Jesus coming, saying “I’ve come to set the slaves free.” Jesus, as the ultimate method, is what moves us away from slavery. “Slavery” is not necessarily wrong on the Old Testament Israeli terms, but it’s not the best way, and we’re told of the better way through Jesus’ life… that by becoming the last (by serving) we’ll become the first in His kingdom. Perhaps Jesus moved us away from slavery because He saw its potential for evil if abused.

    Polygamy existed because God’s command was to “be fruitful and multiply”. “Purity” in those days was seen more on the tribal level, meaning you were not to blend Israel’s blood with the blood of pagan nations. Polygamy served it’s purpose, but is no longer necessary after Jesus, the new dispensation. Actually, it had really started to diminish before Jesus was ever born. It just didn’t make sense anymore, and with humanity’s growth, issues of lust were more predominant purity issues than the purity of “the nation”.

    Jesus forgives all, and all are clean… only some will accept his forgiveness, and their “uncleanliness” is no fault of God’s. So why fight for purity on the national level, when Jesus has called all people clean, Jew and Gentile? As a matter of fact, many Gentiles in that time were living lives more pleasing to Jesus than the Pharisees (religious zealots) of the day. Jesus desired the heart above the ritual.

    War… this is the big one. God has shown that his value is not on human life itself, but on the value of the life lived. Why would He hold the highest value on temporal life, when He exists outside of time, bringing His children to Himself when their time on earth is done? His methods for preserving his chosen people did involve war in ancient days, but Israel’s entire purpose on the earth was met when Jesus was born on the earth. National preservation is not Jesus’ concern. Hearts that seek to serve others, to feed the poor, to care for the widow and orphan are his concern. War is just another afterbirth item. It was essential for Jesus incubation, but is to be discarded when the baby is born.

    Sorry for the length, but I hope I’ve shown you how I view the scriptures. Your interest means a lot to me. Till we speak again, grace and peace.

    -jake

  • 34. The de-Convert  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Jake,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I once believed as you do that Jesus was the “solution” to everything including all of the issues of the O.T., like those you mentioned, and probably the one that bothered me the most: God appearing to be a genocidal maniac… see http://literalbible.blogspot.com/ and click “Killings” for example.

    However, one day I decided to compile a list of the teachings of Jesus which lined up with the sense of morality that I held and believed to be “Christian.” I went through Matthew and was shocked when I could only come up with about a page ( see http://thejesuscult.com/ ).

    Instead, I found verses as these: ( http://de-conversion.com/2007/03/27/wwjd-series-jesus-and-family-values/ ). This disappointment was probably the greatest issue that started me on my path to de-conversion.

    Paul

  • 35. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    jakecollier,

    The terms of slavery in Israel’s camp were different, and God allowed it.

    Not very different – the only rejoinder was that you could not own another Israelite as a slave and were instructed to not injure the eyes or teeth when beating your slaves.

    Then you have Jesus coming, saying “I’ve come to set the slaves free.” Jesus, as the ultimate method, is what moves us away from slavery. “Slavery” is not necessarily wrong on the Old Testament Israeli terms, but it’s not the best way, and we’re told of the better way through Jesus’ life… that by becoming the last (by serving) we’ll become the first in His kingdom. Perhaps Jesus moved us away from slavery because He saw its potential for evil if abused.

    Jesus never condemned earthly slavery and Paul enjoined slaves to server their earthly masters well – especially the Christian ones.

    War… this is the big one. God has shown that his value is not on human life itself, but on the value of the life lived.

    I am not really referring to war – more like instances when God sent bears to kill children because they made fun of Elijah’s bald head. If that is morality – then I am far more moral than God.

    When I have these discussions with Christians it usually ends up the same way. Christians concentrate on the good things the Bible says and ignore the bad – or go use pretzel-like logic trying to explain them away.

    Jake, you begin from a premise that God exists and the Bible is his word – and all of your arguments flow from this premise.

    I begin from the premise that there is NO empirical evidence for God and the Bible is a book of mythology. If any evidence ever turns up – I am willing to evaluate that evidence and perhaps change my mind. If the use of an ancient book of mythology is basis for belief in a supernatural god – why not worship Zeus and use Homer as the Bible? Until a Christian can view their own religion with the same critical eye they view other religions and/or scientific theories based on observable facts they are locked in a tautology (circular reasoning).

    I will ask you a question that has a large presence on the internet in the skeptical community. If God exists and intervenes in the world today by healing the sick, why does he never heal amputees? Want to convince me to believe in God. then let me see an amputee grow back the lost limb. But this never happens – any reason why?

  • 36. jakecollier  |  June 23, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    The de-Convert-

    Thanks for reading my stuff. I’ve got to tell you, I think we’ve all been lead down an ignorant path for far too long. Let’s look at your verses you cited on the WWJD page as they would be viewed culturally, during Jesus’ day:

    Luke 2:48.49 – by this point in Jesus life, he would have been well on his way to becoming a rabbi, and would be viewed as a man. 12 years of age brought along with it the Bar Mitzvoh. Jesus preoccupation with the temple would have been quite typical. His parents were humans, and should have expected this from him – being the son of God, and all.

    Matthew 12:46-50 – Jesus often spoke to a conversation that was happening below the surface level conversations we immediately hear with our ears. I definitely believe Jesus was trying to make a point (Matthew’s agenda in the book wasn’t to give us every detail of what Jesus did, but to record what he took away from Jesus teachings… for all we know he left the crowd with those words and immediately turned to see what his family needed; I tend to think this perfect man probably did).

    Luke 9:59 – when this man said, “first let me go bury my father”, it is more than likely he was talking about getting his father’s inheritance, and we all know how Jesus’ emphasis was not on material wealth. Your questions before each verse are portraying a very Westernized way of thinking, instead of considering the original context of the verses (as mine have been Westernized, and as some modern translations of the scriptures are).

    Luke 9:61,62 – Jesus invitation to “follow” Him meant much more than packing your bags… it meant bucking the current oppressive regimes in ways that could cost you your life. I believe Jesus spoke to this individual’s misunderstanding of His words. But even if the man did literally stop everything and follow the living, breathing God-Man, wouldn’t you as a mother or father understand if your son forgot to say goodbye?

    Luke 14:26 – this is probably the most often-used scripture to taint Jesus’ message, and again we’re losing something in translation. Do you think God actually hated Jesus when He let his son die on the cross? Or do you think “despise” or “hate” means to turn away, in these cases for the sake of a greater good? Jesus doesn’t mean everyone needs to leave their family in the rain, but that there will be times when you must turn from them to obey God. Is this not true? Again, your question before this verse is nowhere to be found in scripture. You’re putting a straw-man into the equation, from a perspective that didn’t exist in it’s context.

    Luke 18:29,30 – again, my friend, your question before the verse is misleading. Peter says, “Look Lord, we’ve left our homes to follow you.” These individuals could very well have not even been married yet. The fact that they had taken on occupations meant they weren’t seen as “fit” to be rabbis, or to follow a rabbi… and yet here Jesus the rabbi is inviting them to follow him. In that culture, if a rabbi chose you, you went, buddy. No questions asked. You were going to take on a yoke of learning the Holy Scriptures, and given “the keys to the kingdom”, authorized to “bind and loose” your take on the pages, the laws, and their meanings. But again, Jesus isn’t always speaking of a literal “desertion” of one’s family. However, if a strict Jewish family failed to believe in Jesus as you did, you’d have no choice but to leave.

    Matthew 23:9 – again, this question beforehand is entirely absent from the story. Jesus is not saying you shouldn’t respect your father. He’s not saying you’re wrong to love him. He’s pointing to more important matters, this one in particular I think to be all the more relative today. In a culture where divorce is higher than ever, and father’s are deserting families, isn’t it good to know your earthly father who is bound to fail (as a human being) is not your ultimate father? Is it not good to know God is your father, and he is perfect?

    Taking the scriptures literally from a Western mindset will suck the life out of scripture. I don’t know how in the world I’m supposed to eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood… unless he meant it figuratively. Hence, communion.

    So, de-Convert, I’m not at all surprised that you only found about a page of teachings you considered to be “Christian”. The Westernized lens has really gotten in the way of Jesus of a proper understanding of scripture, but not so in the Eastern/Hebrew mindset. Jesus desired mercy above sacrifice so much, and he turned the legalistic, hollow religion on its head so much that people wanted him dead. He’s a revolutionary, the only perfect one in human history. I follow Him.

    -jake

  • 37. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Jake,

    Let’s look at your verses you cited on the WWJD page as they would be viewed culturally, during Jesus’ day:

    Since no one has the original version of the Bible, all we have are the copies of copies. How do you presume to know the correct interpretation of Jesus’ teachings? I am sorry, but that strikes me as hubris. And if the Bible is to be interpreted figuratively, what is the basis of that interpretation other than the context of the society you live in at the time? Saying that you understand the ‘correct’ version of the facts is a hallmark of Christianity – and for everyone who subscribes to the version you believe, there are as many others who believe that THEY have the truth.

  • 38. jakecollier  |  June 23, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Cthulhu-

    “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED” Luke 4:18, words of Jesus

    I don’t know if the oppressed or the captives count as slaves, but you can be the judge of that.

    “Jesus never condemned earthly slavery and Paul enjoined slaves to server their earthly masters well – especially the Christian ones.”

    Well, this teaching was given during a time when Israel was under the oppressive rule of Rome. Yet Jesus insists the “kingdom of God is at hand”. That doesn’t make sense… but it does if you believe that in any situation you have the ability to grab onto the eternal kingdom of God – even if you’re a slave. It only makes sense that in serving your master better you will make yourself first in God’s kingdom, which precedes every earthly kingdom.

    “I am not really referring to war – more like instances when God sent bears to kill children because they made fun of Elijah’s bald head. If that is morality – then I am far more moral than God.”

    ???

    Um, I never said anything about morality. I spoke of values. I believe our only hope for action in morality rests in Jesus… not in God’s previous methods, whether it be bears or floods or war. Yeah, I don’t think Jesus wants us cursing “lads” (children, or young men?), hoping they’ll be eaten by bears. No, not likely. Again, method changes. The value isn’t on human life (as yours is, given the disgust you conveyed in your comment), but more on the life lived. Elijah was a prophet of God. His life had tremendous value. He had been sent to speak to these wicked people. Value.

    Seriously, are you guyfawkes? That statement – the arrogance of it – sounded a lot like him… not that you yourself are completely arrogant, but that you place yourself on a higher pedestal than God. I’ve never met anyone else with the nerve to do that.

    What God will actually do is up to Him. I want a million dollars, and I prayed for it every day for a little while (when I was younger), but I never got it. That doesn’t mean He won’t give it to me, but it also doesn’t mean He isn’t real. I want God to heal every sick person on the planet, and if I prayed for it and saw it didn’t happen, would this make God any less God? Hardly.

    He’s not bent to either side by my prayers. He’s sovereign. He exists outside of time. Why does it matter, in the vast expanse of all of time, if He doesn’t heal this minority’s amputated limbs? I feel terrible for them, and can’t imagine what they go through… but when all of our existence looks like a tiny line on an infinite expanse of white paper, I don’t think those details make a whole lot of difference. They can still be forces for good in the world, whether you believe they’re living out the Kingdom of God, or bettering our species. Your decision.

    Here’s another question: why can’t science come up with a way to regenerate a human limb? Do you think it ever will? I do know we’ve created prosthesis, as a result of our earthly-supreme intellect given to us by God. I see that as mercy.

    Maybe I’m just optimistic. I don’t know. I’m glad you feel you’re remaining objective on these matters, but the truth is you and I both are believing what we believe because we want to. Fall back on whatever “empirical” net you want, but it’s just the truth. It all boils down to that fact. I completely see where you come from – I can’t give you proof. I believe something entirely counter-intuitive. I know that. But that doesn’t – and won’t – change the fact that I believe it. I believe it because it has brought more light and energy and love into my life than anything I’ve ever experienced… and I’ve experienced a lot.

    This is what I believe. That is what you believe. Fair enough.

    -jake

  • 39. jakecollier  |  June 23, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Yeah, this is going nowhere.

    How can we know anything at all, Cthulhu? How do you know for sure that what your optic nerve is analyzing is actually real?

    How can you believe any piece of literature or any textbook when all might be just a superficial interpretation of what’s really reality?

    Etanglement theory makes me believe all things are connected from their starting point… light and energy. I believe God is those things. Is this all that unreasonable?

    Am I really sitting here? Or are all the other possibilities I could pursue actually happening in other parallel dimensions? Which one is me? Am I actually here typing right now?

    Are these chemicals in my brain just predisposed to believe in God? When I see the beauty of a sunset, do my tear glands react because chemicals in my brain recognize beauty, triggered by millions of years of compiled instincts that all boil down to furthering the survival of a species?

    Then I just die?

    There’s nothing else?

    Are there more than one universe out there? Will I ever know about them? Will I ever know anything?

    Or is it okay to believe living my best life right now is wrapped up in the Holy, non-intuitive Trinity of God, and that living my life in accordance with his statutes – feeding the poor, defending the widow, loving everyone equally – will make some kind of an impact on the Earth? And these beliefs just so happen to line up with the latest scientific findings? Is that okay? Is it harmful, when lived out as Jesus the Christ intended?

    I understand the atheistic motivation for benevolence, but I find it quite empty. My opinion. At the very least, there is an equal ground between a great life lived by science, and a great life lived through Jesus. We get angry at symptoms, but there’s not reason to be angry with benign beliefs.

    -j

  • 40. The de-Convert  |  June 23, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Jake,

    I’m glad you found a construct to have this all make sense. Most Christians simply live with the contradictions and accept it by faith. Many of us were not so lucky as to find a way have it all make sense (even though there was a point that many of us really wanted to (see http://de-conversion.com/2007/06/15/a-confession-i-want-to-believe/ ).

    Enjoy your journey!

    Paul

  • 41. jakecollier  |  June 23, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    OH, and about the interpretation thing…

    Tongue in cheek, there’s a bit of a “science” to it, one to which I’ve devoted my life. I don’t believe I have the scriptures figured out, but I fully support digging deeper and deeper in the word, asking better questions, and finding better answers.

    My only point to The de-Convert was to make sure he was considering the original audience and context these passages were addressing – which I felt he sorely misrepresented on his WWJD post, though it’s no fault of his own. We’ve been taught very stale, static dogma for a very long time. I, and a new emerging group of believers, are trying to freshen it up, and respect it by asking these questions.

  • 42. The de-Convert  |  June 23, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Jake,

    My WWJD post was a bit “tongue in cheek” also :) However, my issues goes really to the core vs. just a few verses that can be misinterpreted.

    BTW, check out our guest commentary by an “emerging” christian:

    http://de-conversion.com/2008/03/05/i-might-have-become-an-atheist/

    Paul

  • 43. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Perhaps there will be an easy scientific answer for this—and you most likely have heard this question asked before, but this really does intrigue me. We all know that everyone in the world has different fingerprints. But when identical twins are born–they have completely different sets of fingerprints. They are basically identical in every way, but the fingerprints show they are actual two unique people, within bodies that look almost indentical. My question would be—what is the purpose of them having two different sets of prints? I mean, in an evoutionary scenario—–what is the purpose for the identical twins to have different sets of fingerprints? It does not appear to have any significance towards “survival of the fittest” etc. Just curious if anyone has seen an answer to this.

    Added note: Jesus said “The very hairs on your head are all numbered”. Knowing what we know now about genes, and DNA, that statement is actually true—-everything about us is encapsulated and coded—-the very hairs of are head ARE basically numbered.

  • 44. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Jake,

    Seriously, are you guyfawkes? That statement – the arrogance of it – sounded a lot like him… not that you yourself are completely arrogant, but that you place yourself on a higher pedestal than God. I’ve never met anyone else with the nerve to do that.

    I sincerely hope that I am not coming across as arrogant – not my intention at all. And since I do not believe in ANY supernatural being, it doesn’t take a lot of nerve to value my family or my life above something I do not believe exists. I have enjoyed the back and forth with you – you have been civil to a fault. I think we will have to agree to disagree here. I will second de-Convert- enjoy your journey – I am certainly enjoying mine!

  • 45. jakecollier  |  June 23, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Okay, then.

    I’ve enjoyed it, too.

    Front page of the Enquirer: “MAN GROWS BACK AMPUTATED LEG!”

    Hmmm… I’m not betting on it. ;)

    Cheers. -jake

  • 46. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Jake,

    Come back often…

  • 47. jakecollier  |  June 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    I will. Take Care.

  • 48. Jonathan Blake  |  June 23, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    what is the purpose for the identical twins to have different sets of fingerprints?

    I think you have the question round backwards. What would be the purpose of twins having identical fingerprints? :)

    Actually, the question ignores an important fact: a person’s genes interact with the environment. Genetic information only gives a part of the picture of what an organism will become. DNA is not destiny.

    In other words, the genotype is expressed in a phenotype.

    In this case, I’m no expert, but I don’t believe that our specific fingerprints are written in our DNA. They have to take some shape, but the DNA doesn’t exactly specify it. Also, identical twins

    Oh, and identical twins don’t have truly identical DNA. :)

  • 49. Perry Robinson  |  June 23, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Cthulhu

    I am sufficiently familiar with some of the scientific models on the market, but assuming that science is in the business of confirming models, as far as I know, they are just that, models. In any case, it would only move the question-why are they are any universes at all?

    I wasn’t aware that I was changing the question. Please point out where and how so since I am not clear on what you have in mind. Regardless of the perspective I endorse, I don’t understand how, assuming it is the case that it is bunk that it helps to justify whatever position you advocate. It may be true that I may use my moral judgment to evaluate the bible or any other text making moral claims or demands but that fact doesn’t imply that the judgment is correct or justified. Consequently assuming your reading of the Bible on slavery, genocide, etc. is correct, I am also not clear on why you would find those morally objectionable and what good reasons you could give for thinking so. Perhaps you can clarify that for me. It may be true that people judge in light of their own societal norms, but how would one ever know if those norms were wrong?

  • 50. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Johnathan–

    Thanks. I just have to wonder though—-why would fingerprints even develop? What are their use to us accept for identification (now that man knows how to use them for that purpose) purposes? What would be the purpose in evolution for fingerprints? LOL—I say “purpose in evolution” as though evolution were some thinking, planning agent, that determines when an animal should grow a neck longer, or develop bigger feet, or……wait a minute…but that is what evolution is isn’t it? Seems that way—-but who gave evolution it’s purpose? Oh, I see, yeah, that’s the ticket—-evolution itself evolved from something else. Yeah, I get it now. Just kidding. :>)

  • 51. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Perry,

    Science is far more that ‘confirming models’…it observing phenomenon in nature and forming testable hypotheses to explain them – then testing those theories against the facts. A theory needs to have good predictive power to form the basis for experimentation.

    You changed the question the following way…

    Your first statement…

    We do not all agree on what constites mercy, compassion and such or what constitutes “better.”

    The next statement…

    Even if it were true that most humans had a good grasp as to what constitutes mercy and such things, it doesn’t follow that the ideas are true or that they can be justified in just any old way or from just any perspective. Agreement doesn’t imply truth.

    The question changed from whether or not humans understand what mercy and compassion are, to the TRUTH inherent in those ideas. 2 different things.

    I will ask you the slavery question..do you think slavery is wrong? If the basis of your morality is the Bible – you have no basis for condemnation. In my case, I believe it immoral for any human to own and exploit another human being. For me it is simply a question of suffering – that I should not inflict suffering on another living being. It is really that simple.

    Cheers…

  • 52. HeIsSailing  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Joe Sperling asks:

    I just have to wonder though—-why would fingerprints even develop?

    Joe,
    Fingerprints are a by-product of the areolar connective tissue which holds your epidermis to the dermis – for that matter it holds any and all different types of cell layers together. It is sort of a mesh-like structure that pulls the layers together .. sort of like bungeee cords. The result of this pulling by connective tissue is not only fingerprints – but all manner of creases in your skin.

  • 53. Perry Robinson  |  June 23, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    If confirmation is possible at all is controversial, which is what got Popper off and running. Given the underdetermination of theory by facts it isn’t clear that science is in the business of confirming beliefs.

    I don’t believe I changed the question but rather added a supplementary argument. Even if you could answer this one, here is a further problem. That was the form of my reasoning, which is perfectly legitimate.

    I think that slavery in the American South was immoral and that Islamic slavery as practiced in Africa and Europe was and is immoral. Are all forms of it immoral? No. It seems perfectly fine to my moral sensibilities for a criminal to work for those whom he offends until a debt is paid for example. That seems to be the kind of slavery in the OT. Even if it weren’t so, why is it wrong? I fail to see how an expression of your belief that it is wrong counts as a reason for thinking that it is. Given Naturalism inflicting suffering seems to be perfectly natural. Do you think that Darwinism is false?

  • 54. rafael  |  June 25, 2008 at 11:47 am

    I shall begin by assuming that the issue of God’s existence is settled. We all believe that there is a God. As those who desire to know the truth, we must go one step further to find out what kind of God He is. God is the greatest Unknown. We must spend some time to find out about this unknown One. The next step now is to know what kind of a God He is. In the past few thousand years man has been inquiring about the nature of God. Is He kind or is He righteous? Is He indifferent towards us, or is He extremely interested in human affairs? These types of questions are the direct cause of all human religions. What is religion? Religion is man’s inquiry about God and his explanation of Him. Through these explanations, different men have arrived at different concepts about God. What kind of God is He? This is a big question. It is also a very serious question. We have all given our thought to this subject at one time or another. The question might even have occurred to our little mind when we were five years old. All men, educated or ignorant, have been intrigued by this question. It comes naturally after some contemplation and observation. But a person trying to speculate about God is like an ant attempting to understand a human being. It is extremely difficult for the little creature to try to realize our life, nature, and mind. In the same way it is impossible for us to try to comprehend God. For this reason, in the past few thousand years, all kinds of people, theologians and philosophers alike, have done much thinking about Him. What has God been doing all this time? Has He been indifferent to us or has He tried to reveal Himself to us? What is God’s attitude? Do you think He would say, “I am God and have nothing to do with human beings. I do not care what you think about me. I shall stay in heaven as God. Let the mortals be ignorant!” Or do you think He has a desire to reveal Himself to man and visit him? When I was in India, I saw some people lying naked on beds studded with nails. Some walked with bare feet on burning coals. These people devoted a great deal of energy to seeking after God. What has God done to them? Did He hide Himself and take no notice of them at all? Has He not kept Himself as a perpetual mystery? This is a great question. We have to consider it scientifically and objectively in order to find out what God is like. A few years ago I spoke on a similar subject to some medical students in an auditorium in Cheloo University. I said that man is an organism with a life. God also is a life. Man’s life is higher than that of the lower animals, and God’s life is even higher than that of man. I asked the students, “Since we realize that all living organisms have some common laws and express some common traits, can you name them?” Different ones then started to bring up different points. At the end we summed up the discussion in this way: all living organisms contain two common characteristics. You can call these characteristics their common expressions or their common laws. First, every life wants to preserve itself. It tends to reproduce itself. There is the ability to produce posterity, to continue its own life. Second, every life wants to have fellowship with other lives. It cannot stand being by itself. When a man cannot find fellowship with another human being, he goes to dogs, cats, fish, or birds and makes friends with animals. All living creatures desire fellowship. Based on these two characteristics of life, namely, the preservation of itself and fellowship with others, laws of human government are instituted. For example, the death penalty reflects a convict’s desire to preserve his own life; punishment comes in the form of taking away and terminating such a life. This is the way to inflict suffering on a life. Imprisonment, as a less serious punishment, cuts him off from having fellowship with others. This reversal of the life principle becomes then a suffering for him. From this we see that punishment is applied according to the principles of life. With these two chief characteristics in mind, let us turn to the life of God. God is an organism of a higher order than human beings. He is naturally governed by this law of life. We can know God by the characteristics and distinctive features of His life. From this we can deduce whether or not God wants to have fellowship with man. There are two kinds of religion: religion based on natural concepts and religion based on revelation. Natural religion starts with man as the center. He is the one that is seeking after God and studying about Him. What then is revelational religion? Revelational religion comes directly from God. He is the One who comes to reveal things to us. Man’s thoughts are often useless fancies. God’s revelation alone is trustworthy. Christianity is different from all other natural religions in that it is a religion that comes from revelation. Christianity begins from God. It is God who comes to seek out man, rather than man who seeks after God. I will not try to persuade you to believe in Christianity or to read the Bible. I will only make a few suppositions. We will treat the subject in the same way as if we were solving a problem in geometry. We will start from the suppositions and then deduce our arguments step by step. We will examine our reasoning’s to see if they are sound and if our conclusions are logical. As in mathematics, with some problems we work forwards, while with others we work backwards. At any rate, in the end we should be able to tell whether or not a supposition is justified. We have to make a few suppositions. The first one is that God exists. This in fact has been covered by us already. We have agreed that there is a God. He is a Being who has a purpose. Second, we assume that God has a desire to reveal Himself to man. If God wants to reveal Himself to man and if He wants us to know Him, how does He do it? In what manner can He be made known to us? If He speaks to us through thunder or writes to us through lightning, we will not be able to comprehend His message. How then does God make Himself known to us? If He is to reveal Himself and if He wants us to know Him, He necessarily must do it through human means. What then are the common ways that men communicate with one another? First, they do it through speaking and second through writing. All means of communication, whether telegraph, telephone, sign, or symbols, are all included in these two categories. If God is to manifest Himself, these are the only two means for Him to do so. For the present we set aside the aspect of speaking; we will see how God communicates with us through writing. If God reveals Himself through writing, of all the volumes written by different people throughout the centuries, there must be one book which is divinely inspired. This is a very crucial test. If such a book exists, it proves not only the existence of God, but it contains His written revelation to us as well. Is there then such a divinely written book? In the search for such a book, let us first mention a few basic principles. Suppose I want to order a book from a publisher. If I can tell him the name and author of the book, there will be no trouble getting it. If, however, I forget the name and author of the book, I can describe the characteristics of it to the publisher, such as the contents, size, color, binding, etc. The publisher will then search through all his books and locates the volume I want. God has one book in this universe. How do we find it? We have to know its characteristics first. If there is any book that has been written by God, it must meet certain conditions or have certain qualifications before one can say that it is from God. Let me put forth a few propositions. If there is a book written by God, it must first of all mention God. It must tell you that it is from God and that its author is God. This is the first qualification. Second, it must carry a moral tone that is higher than what we commonly know. If it is a fabrication, it can at the most be on the same level as man. Third, if there is such a divine book, it must tell us about the past and the future of this world. Only God knows clearly what occurred in the past and what will happen in the future. Only by telling us these matters will we know Him as God. Fourth, this book must be simple and available so that all may be able to secure and understand it. If there were only one such book in the world, then only a very few people would be able to see it. It would not pass the test unless it is a book accessible to everyone. In the United States there is a group of people who claim to have a book from God. It is engraved in gold and contains only twelve pages. Such a book then would not be accessible to the Chinese. God would never write to us a book at which we could not look. Now the matter is simplified. Let us repeat these four conditions once more.
    (1) If such a book exists, it must tell us explicitly that its author is God.
    (2) It must carry a high tone of morality.
    (3) It must give a detailed description of the past and the future of the universe.
    (4) It must be available.
    Let us pick out some of the more important writings throughout human civilization and check them against these qualifications to see if any meets our requirements. We will start from books that are generally considered to be good. Let us take the Chinese classics of Confucius. They are immediately disqualified under the first requirement, for none of them claims to be written by God. They do have a high tone of morality, but they fail to give the origin and destiny of the world, the universe, and man. This does not mean that they are worthless books; it means that they do not contain the qualifications we want. They are not what we are looking for. Let us go to the classics of other cultures. There are numerous volumes of famous writings, but none of them passes the first test. They are all clearly written by man. They may be masterpieces in philosophy or morality, but they are not written by God, nor are they divinely inspired. We have to set them aside. There is a book in India called the Rig-Veda. It once dominated Hinduism. However, it does not claim to be written by God. Another book called the Avesta, written by a Persian named Zoroaster, is also extremely influential in the Middle East. It does not claim to be from God either. Moreover, its moral tone is not especially commendable. Let us come to the Koran of Mohammedanism. This is the closest one we can find. It tells us that it comes from God; it meets the first requirement. However, it does not fulfill the second requirement, for its moral tone is too low. The heaven it describes is full of lusts and flesh. God could never write a book with such licentiousness and immorality. Hence, this book does not pass the test of morality. After searching through all the books, you have to come finally to the Bible. If God desires to communicate with man, and if He does so through writing, then this is the only book that can pass the four tests. Hence, this must be the book God has for man. What does this book say? In the books of the law in the Old Testament, it says, “Thus saith the Lord,” at least five hundred times. Other books in the Old Testament repeat the phrase about seven hundred times. In addition to the references in the New Testament to the speaking of God, the Bible has more than two thousand claims of divine origin. If God has no intention of communicating with man, we can forget about this book. But if He does communicate with man through writing, then this book has to be of immense value. Can you find another book where God is claimed as its author that many times? We have to see if the Bible meets the second qualification. Let us take a look at its moral tone. Everyone who has studied this book confesses that it carries the highest moral standard. Even the sins of the noblest persons are recorded and condemned without mercy. Once a strong opposer of the Bible was asked by his son, “Why are you so strong against the Bible?” He answered, “If I do not condemn it, it will condemn me.” This book does not let us get by easily. The human concept is that all sexual acts outside marriage are considered as fornication. The Bible, however, says that even an evil thought is fornication. Human morality condemns an act of killing as murder, but the Bible condemns a slight hatred in the heart as murder. We consider a man who lets his enemy get by without paying vengeance as forgiving. But the Bible charges man to love his enemy. How high is its moral tone and how low we are before its standards! You cannot help but admit that it presents the best ethical code for humanity. Furthermore, this book describes in detail the past and future of the universe. Once a friend told me that he could believe in everything the Bible says except the parts in Genesis and Revelation where it talks about the origin and destiny of the heavens and earth. I told him that if this is indeed a book from God, it must, of necessity, contain these matters. If the Bible did not contain Genesis and Revelation, it would be the same as any other book, and we would have to look for another book; it would not be the one we want. But the past condition of the world and its future destiny are recorded here. Hence, the third qualification is also met. What is the circulation of such a book? Last year (1935), more than two hundred million copies were sold. Can you name another book that has such a high circulation rate? This statistic, moreover, is not limited to just last year; every year the number has remained approximately the same. In one sense this book is very popular. In another sense it is like a thorn in your hand; it pierces you. This book gives you a headache. It creates an unspeakable uneasiness within man. It even causes man to oppose it. In spite of this, its annual sales are still over two hundred million. Furthermore, this book is translated into more than seven hundred twenty languages. In every country and among every race, there is a translation of this unique book. It is extremely easy for anyone to obtain a Bible anywhere in the world. If the Rig-Veda were God’s book, then more than half of the world would perish due to a failure in obtaining it. Even if you put the Rig-Veda in my hand, I would still be unable to understand it. If only the educated ones can contact God, then I am destined to go to hell. If only the Indians have the opportunity, we Chinese, as well as other races, are out of hope. If God speaks through the Rig-Veda, then where can we find that book? Maybe we can only find the original copy in the London Museum. And even that may not contain the original meaning of God’s revelation to man. This is not all. The Bible contains sixty-six books and it is divided into the Old and New Testaments. It was written by no less than thirty people. The span from the time the first book was written to the time when the last book was finished is more than sixteen hundred years. The places where they were written are also different. Some were written in Babylon, some in Italy, some at one end of Asia Minor, others at the other end of the Mediterranean. Furthermore, the writers themselves differed in their backgrounds. Some were lawyers; some were fishermen. There were princes, and there were shepherds. All these writings by men of different backgrounds, languages, environments, and periods are put together. The amazing thing is that it is still a complete book. All those who have had some experience of editing know that in order to put together a few articles written by different authors, it is necessary for the authors to be of comparable level of academic achievements and viewpoints. Even when the academic standard and viewpoints are similar, there will still be conflicts and contradictions when you put five or six articles together. But the Bible, though complex in contents, contains history, poetry, laws, prophecies, biographies, and doctrines and was written by so many different ones at different times and under different circumstances, yet when you put them together, they surprisingly run as one continuous volume. There is no conflict or contradiction. They are written in one breath. If you read this book carefully, you have to admit that God’s hand is behind all the writings. More than thirty people of varied backgrounds and ideas in different times and places wrote these sixty-six books. When you group them up, they link together as if they were written by one individual. Genesis was written about fifteen hundred years before Christ, and Revelation was written ninety-five years after Christ. There is a time span of sixteen hundred years. One talks about the beginning while the other projects the end of the world. Yet whatever begins in Genesis is concluded in Revelation. This amazing feature cannot be explained in human terms. Every word of it has to be written by God through man. God is the motivating One behind the whole composition. There is another remarkable thing about this book. In itself it is a book that gives life. Yet countless numbers of people have lost their lives for its sake. There was a time when anyone who held this book in his hand would immediately be put to death. The most powerful empire in history was the Roman Empire. There was a time when this empire summoned all its forces to destroy this book. Everyone who possessed it would be inhumanly persecuted and later killed or burned. They wiped out thousands of people and burned countless copies of the Bible. They even set up a monument at a place where they killed Christians. On it was the inscription: “Christianity is buried here.” They thought that when they had burned all the Bibles and removed all the Christians, they would see Christianity lying there beneath their feet. But it was not long after that when the Bible came back again. Even in a country like England, which has already accepted Christianity as its state religion, you can still find tombs of martyrs for Christ if you visit different places there. Here and there you can find places where the Bible was once burned. Or you may come across a tombstone that tells you that such and such a person tried so hard and wrote so many books in his life to oppose the Bible. One place may tell you that the Bible was once burned there, and another place may tell you that Christians were once killed there. One signpost may point you to a statue of martyrdom, and another may point to a site of Bible burning. Why is it that so many people have tried so hard to oppose this book? Why is it that men would pass by other books, but would either oppose this book with every fiber of their being or would put their whole life to the stake for it? There must be something extraordinary here. Even if you do not believe that this is God’s word, you have to admit that there is something unusual about this book. This book seems to be very simple and easy. If you consider it from the historical point of view, it tells the origin of the universe, the earth, the plants, human beings, how they established their kingdoms, and how they will eventually end. This is all. There is nothing special about it. Yet it has been handed from generation to generation for centuries. Today it is still with us. Moreover, if you do not confess that it is truth, you have to conclude that it is false. You can disregard many books, but you cannot ignore this book. Nor will it ignore you. It will not let you go. It demands a verdict from you. It will not pass you by. Another remarkable thing about this book is that almost half of it is prophecy. Among the prophecies, almost half of them are fulfilled. The other half is for the future and await fulfillment. For example, it predicted the fate of the nations of Moab and Ammon and of the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Today when people talk about big cities, they mention London and Shanghai. Then it was Tyre and Sidon. They were two chief cities of the ancient world. The prophecies concerning these two cities were all fulfilled. Once I was in the Middle East. For some reason I did not visit those two places. However, I bought two pictures of those cities. It amazed me when I looked at those pictures. I could not help but believe in the Bible. It was prophesied that if these two metropolitan cities did not repent, they would be destroyed and devastated. Their land would become hills of rocks and pebbles where fishermen would come to dry their nets. In the pictures that I bought, there was nothing but fishing boats and open nets on the shore. This is only one small fact that proves the reliability of biblical prophecy. If you compare past events with the prophecies in the Bible, you will find that they all correspond one with another. For another example, take the birth of Christ. Isaiah prophesied concerning a virgin with child a few hundred years before Christ actually came. Later, He was born indeed of the Virgin Mary. The prophecy was accurately fulfilled. As the prophecies concerning the past have been fulfilled, so the prophecies concerning the future must also be fulfilled. If God desires to communicate with man, He must do so through common human channels of communication. He must use the human language or human writings. In other words, there must be a book in the world that is a direct revelation from God. If such a book does exist, it must contain the four criteria we mentioned. Now we can say that such a book is found. This book tells us that God desires to have fellowship with us. He speaks to us through this book. Through it God is no longer an unknown Being. We can now know Him. This book is the Bible. I hope all of you will read it.
    THIS IS SERIOUS: WAS JESUS CRAZY? WAS HE A LUNATIC? OR THE BIGGEST LIAR?
    God desires to reveal Himself to us. He does so through means that are comprehensible to man. These are namely written and spoken language. We have seen how God reveals Himself through writing. Now we want to take a look at His revelation through speaking. Suppose that you have had correspondence with a person for many years; however, you have never seen him. Naturally, you would want to know him more by having some direct acquaintance with him. Full understanding of someone cannot be achieved merely through writing. Direct contact gives a better chance. It seems as if communication through speech is of a more intimate and thorough nature than writing. When spoken language is added to written language, communication becomes enhanced. If you take away either of the two, you have a gap. Of course, if you take away both, communication is completely voided. Effective communication is always carried out by these two means. If God’s intention is to reveal Himself to us, He must of necessity do so through speaking. But how does God speak? Does He trumpet from the heavens? If so, we would all be frightened to death. We would all run away. No one would dare to listen. There is a chasm between Him and us. He, being so high and great, would drive us away from His holiness. How then does He speak?
    THE WINTER ON THE MOUNTAIN
    Let me relate to you a story. One winter I was staying on the mountain Lu-shan, recovering from an illness. It was immediately after the war, and there was practically no one living on the mountain. In the vicinity of my dwelling, one could hardly see anyone all day long. I am a quiet person by nature. This kind of environment was very appealing to me. Not only was it quiet there, but the weather was cold as well. From morning till dusk, all I saw was a boy who came three times to deliver my meals. At the beginning I was quite at ease. But after a while, even a person like me began to feel lonely. One day after lunch I went to take a nap. There was a balcony outside my bedroom window. When I woke up I saw some little creatures gathering around the balcony. Bits of my meal had been dropped there, and the birds were busily chirping around them. As they hopped around, they chirped and made many cheerful noises. I said to myself, “All right. Since I cannot find any human beings, I will try to make friends with these little birds.”I rose up and went out to greet them. But in an instant they all flew away. An idea came to me. I took some of the leftover rice and began to arrange it in rows, with only a few grains in the first row and gradually increased them towards the entrance of the doorway. I hid behind the door and watched them coming. Soon they gathered around again. I said to me, “This is my chance.” I walked out and began to make friends with them. But the minute they saw me, they all scattered. Some perched on the branches of the tree across the balcony and stared at me, as if trying to determine what my intention was. Every time I approached them, they flew away, and every time I walked away, they came back. This went on a number of times. I wanted to preach to the birds. I wanted to tell them, “Little birds, I have no special intention in doing this. This is winter on the mountain, and food is scarce. I have enough food with me, and I just want to share it with you. Please be at peace and come down. I only ask that as you eat, I can sit among you. I want to listen to your songs and watch you playing. Come. Let us be friends…” But the birds would not come. They did not understand me. I had to give up. Later I had a certain realization within. I began to preach to myself. I said, “This body of mine is too big. If I could shrink from five feet eleven inches to the size of a bird, and even change myself into a bird, they would not be alarmed by my presence. I could then tell them my heart’s intention, and we could spend the winter on the mountain Lu-shan together.”We have a similar problem today. If God remained God, we could never understand Him. If He talked to us in His language, we would be altogether lost. If God wants to reveal Himself through speaking and have fellowship with man, He must shrink Himself to such a degree that He and we are the same. Only then would He be able to speak to us and tell us of Himself and of the mysteries of the universe. Only then would we be able to understand Him. Has God become a man to reveal Himself through His speaking? Let us again use the method of supposition. What if God revealed Himself through the human language? What if He became a man and fellowshipped with man? The implication is tremendous here! It would mean that in this world, among all the human beings throughout history, one person was not merely a man, but God as well! If it is granted that God became a man, there must be a mortal who was also divine. We need to find out about this One. This is a thorny task. But we will employ the effective method we have adopted—namely, setting down a few principles. Then we will search according to these qualifications and directions. We want to base our evaluation on what manner of life a person should possess and what qualifications he must have if he is God.
    The first condition that this person must fulfill is that he must claim to be God while he is on earth. He cannot be apologetic about it. He must declare boldly that he is God. Only then can we know who he is. Without this declaration, we have no way to guess his identity. Hence, a declaration is our first qualification.
    Second, the way this person came into the world must be different from ours. If I said that I am God and yet was born in the same manner as every other mortal, my words would carry no force. If on the other hand, I dropped down from heaven; my assertion would be taken seriously. The way this person comes into being must be extraordinary. He must come in an absolutely different fashion; otherwise, his words will not carry the necessary weight. Third, this man must bear a moral standard that is far above that of all other human beings. He must have God’s holiness, and his life must bear the mark of God’s righteousness. For example, if I became a bird and lived in exactly the same way as other birds, without showing them anything extraordinary, I could not convince them that I was actually a man. If God is to become a man, His moral behavior must be of the highest quality. This is the only way that we could identify Him as God. Furthermore, if a person is God, he must necessarily be able to perform things which no mortal can do. If he can achieve what we cannot achieve and know what we do not know, we can say that he is truly God. Lastly, this person must be able to tell us the divine purpose concerning man. What was God’s purpose in creating the universe and man? How does He take care of human pains and sorrows? What is the origin and ultimate solution of everything in the universe? What should our attitude towards God be? All these he must reveal to us. Unless this one shows us what we do not see, we cannot say that he has shown us any revelation. We will set down these five conditions and put the whole of humanity to the test. Let us find out if someone meets the five requirements. Such a person would surely be qualified to be God. The first person to put to the test should be yourself. Of course, you are not God, because you have never claimed to be God. Nor have I ever claimed to be. So that rules out you and me. Very well, now we will introduce Confucius. If you read his books, you will find that he did conduct a very moral and proper life. But he never claimed to be God either. Hence, he fails in the first step. What about Sakya Muni, the founder of Buddhism? Not only was there an absence of the claim of divinity, but his philosophy itself is void of deity. He did not believe in the existence of God. Since he had no God, he cannot be God either. Next, go to Mohammed. He believed in God. But he never claimed to be God. He called God Allah and himself the prophet of Allah. If you go through every person in history, you will discover that no one ever claimed to be God except One. That One was Jesus of Nazareth. He claimed to be the living God. No other person put forward such a claim. How can Jesus of Nazareth claim to be God? Before going on, we have to pause for a moment to seriously consider the matter. It is not a light thing to claim to be God. A person who makes such a claim falls into one of three categories. He must belong to one of these three categories; he cannot belong to all three. First, if he claims to be God and yet in fact is not, he has to be a madman or a lunatic. Second, if he is neither God nor a lunatic, he has to be a liar, deceiving others by his lie. Third, if he is neither of these, he must be God. You can only choose one of the three possibilities. If you do not believe that he is God, you have to consider him a madman. If you cannot take him for either of the two, you have to take him for a liar. There is no need for us to prove if Jesus of Nazareth is God or not. All we have to do is find out if He is a lunatic or a liar. If He is neither, He must be the Son of God. These are our three choices. There is no fourth. What did Jesus of Nazareth say about Himself? In John 10:30 He said, “I and the Father are one.” We need some explanation here. In the Bible the invisible God is called the Father. The Son manifests and expresses the Father. What is hidden is the Father, and what is expressed is the Son. The Son is the One who can be seen and touched. Behind, you have the Father. In front, you have the Son. The two are actually one. They are the two sides of the same reality. When we talk about two, we refer to the fact that one is hidden while the other is revealed. When we talk about one, we say that the revealed One is just the hidden One in manifestation. This is the biblical interpretation of the Father and the Son. Therefore, when Jesus of Nazareth one day said, “I and the Father are one,” it was a statement that no one else could make. This man was saying in reality that He and the invisible God are one entity. He is God and God is He. God is the invisible Father, and He is the manifested Son. The Father and the Son are one! Who can this One be that made such a claim? Is He a madman? Is He out to deceive us? After Jesus spoke such a word, what reaction do we see? “The Jews again took up stones that they might stone Him. Jesus answered them, I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these works are you stoning me? The Jews answered Him, We are not stoning You for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, are making Yourself God” (vv. 31-33). The Jews understood very well that Jesus’ words meant that He claimed to be God. After hearing these words they wanted to stone Him to death. A claim was made by Jesus, and an accusation was charged by the Jews, both of which concerned His divinity. Was Jesus insane? Did He speak pure nonsense just to cause people to kill Him? Or was He a swindler setting up some kind of a scheme? If so, what was He trying to gain? Was He trying to gain death? Perhaps we will go back a little bit to the earlier parts in the Gospel of John and see what it says there. John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Why has no one seen God? It is because God is invisible. Jesus said that He was the only Begotten of the Father; He expressed the invisible Father. When you see the only Begotten, you see the Father. Again He spoke concerning Himself, “And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven” (3:13). Have you ever heard anyone say such words? I cannot say, “No one has been to Shanghai, but he who comes from Shanghai to Tientsin, even I, Watchman Nee, who is in Shanghai.” If I say so, I would be gibbering nonsense. But Jesus was speaking a heavenly language. He said that He came out of heaven and is still in heaven. What can a person be if he can be in two places simultaneously? Either he is God or he is a lunatic or he is a liar. If you have not yet believed in Christ, please give a verdict to this issue. Who is this man? Let us read John 3:31-32: “He who comes from above is above all; he who is from the earth is of the earth and speaks out of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. What He has seen and heard, of this He testifies, and no one receives His testimony.” He said that He came out of heaven and was above all. After a while He said the same thing again. Let us see what the purpose behind these words is. He came to preach the things of heaven, but no one received His words. He mentioned words like “heaven,” “above all,” “out of heaven,” etc. What kind of man was He? Confucius never said this. Neither did Sakya Muni or Mohammed. Was Jesus of Nazareth a madman, a liar, or the Son of God? John 5:17 says, “But Jesus answered them, My Father is working until now, and I also am working.” He always put Himself in the same place as the Father. Verse 18 says, “Because of this therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath but also called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” When we read His words now, we may consider them to be ordinary remarks. But the Jews knew what He was saying. They knew that He was making Himself equal with God. The words in fact meant that God is His Father and He came to express God. The invisible One is God, and the visible One is He. Therefore, the Jews sought to kill Him. What should we do about such an unusual person? John 6:46 says, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except Him who is from God, He has seen the Father.” Here the word is clearer. He said that no one other than Himself has ever seen God. Only He knew what the Father is like. I can only say with soberness and reverence that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. Read John 8:18. What did He say? “I am one who testifies concerning me, and the Father who sent me testifies concerning me.” The question in verse 19 is most interesting: “They said then to Him, Where is Your Father? Jesus answered, You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” Have you seen what He was saying? They had seen Him, yet did not know Him. Of course they would not know the Father either, whom they had not seen. If men knew Him, they knew God. Who is He then? If knowing Him equals knowing God, is that not the same as saying that He is God and God is He? Read John 8:23: “And He said to them, You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” The preposition “from” in this verse is ek in Greek. It means “out of.” That is how it should be translated. He said, “You are out of this world, but I am not out of this world.” This man claimed to be from above; He did not come out of this world. Who can He be? The Jews were confused. They were totally bewildered. Who was this man? The ancestor of the Jews is Abraham. They boasted of being the descendants of Abraham in the same way the Chinese boast of being the offspring of Hwang-ti. The name Abraham was highly venerated among the Jews. Now they brought out Abraham. Please read John 8:53: “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too. Who are you making yourself? How did Jesus answer them? Was He greater or smaller than Abraham? In verse 56 Jesus said, “Your father Abraham exulted that he would see my day, and he saw it and rejoiced.” What is this? Even Abraham had to look forward to Jesus! Hence, verse 57: “The Jews then said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Now please pay your attention to Jesus’ answer in verse 58: “Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I am.” Tell me who this man is. If I told you that before Hwang-ti was, I, Watchman Nee am there, you would immediately write me off as a lunatic. Some of you would say that I am a liar. The words Jesus spoke made Him a madman, a liar, or God. There can be no fourth alternative. We have to read on. In John 10:37-38 Jesus said, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, even if you do not believe Me, believe the works so that you may come to know and continue to know…” Know what? The clause following is very crucial. It is a big statement: “…that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.” Who then is this man? He said that He was in God and God was in Him. Passages like the above are numerous in the Bible. I shall mention one more. Read carefully John 14:6-7: “Jesus said to him, I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and henceforth you know Him and have seen Him.” It says clearly that if you know Jesus of Nazareth, you have known the invisible God. Why is this so? It is because He is God. One of the disciples was confused. John 14:8 says, “Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father and it is sufficient for us.” Philip was asking to be shown the Father who had been mentioned again and again by Jesus. Verse 9 says, “Jesus said to him, have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how is it that you say, Show us the Father?” Here Jesus made it very plain that to see Him is to see God. He made no apology about it. He is God. There is no need to see the Father anymore. If you see Him, you see God! Who is Jesus of Nazareth? What would you say? Is He merely the founder of the Christian religion? Is He merely an example of self-sacrifice and humanitarianism? Is He a social reformer? Is He an advocate for universal love, peace, and freedom? Listen to what He said about Himself. He said that He is God. What is your conclusion? Is He a lunatic or a liar? Is He a hoax, or is He God? This is a vital question. Can He be a madman? If you read His biographies in the Gospels and observe His life and manner, you will realize that not only was He sane and sound, He was very sober and firm. If there is a perfectly sound person in this world, He has to be the One. His mind was clear, and His mentality was alert. If you study His deeds and words carefully, you have to confess that His thoughts are very logical and consistent, and His manners are most comely and appropriate. To opposing ones He only needed to reply a few sentences, and their arguments against Him were defeated. He did not have a trace of madness in Him. A madman could never have done what He did. Then is He a liar? A liar always lies for a profit. If there is no profit to be gained, what is the purpose of lying? Why was Jesus crucified? For no other reason than that He claimed to be God. At the last judgment, the hour when His release or crucifixion was to be deliberated, He was examined as to who He was. What was His answer? He said that the Son of Man would be seen sitting on the right hand of the Majesty on high, descending on the clouds in glory (Matt. 26:64). Even then He claimed to be God. As a result, He was crucified on the cross. Is there a liar who would sacrifice his life for his lie? Once I met a person who wanted to talk with me about our faith. He read some books about Jesus and admitted that Jesus had a high standard of morality. He could consider Jesus as a perfect man, a model for humanity. But he could not believe that Jesus is God. I said, “If you admit that He has a high standard of morality, then He at least is not a liar. If you agree that He is not a liar, then you have to accept His claim of divinity as truth. He repeatedly asserted that He is God. If you admire His morality, you have to recognize His divinity as well. Jesus of Nazareth is God!”Please read John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 14 says, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and reality.” What is the “Word” mentioned in verses 1 and 14? Verse 1 speaks of the relationship the Word has with God.
    In reference to when, the Word was there from the beginning.
    In reference to where, the Word was with God. In reference to what, the Word was God. Today the Word has become flesh; He has taken on a human body and dwelt among men. As to how He dwells, it says that He is “full of grace and reality,” and “we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Begotten from the Father.” Who is this One? He is Jesus of Nazareth. Here we have only seen one of the five qualifications mentioned earlier. Only Jesus of Nazareth meets this first condition. This proves that He is God. We shall go on to see the four other conditions or qualifications. Jesus of Nazareth must meet all the other four qualifications before we can conclude that He is God.
    EXAMINE THE CLAIMS
    If God is to be a man, He must come into the world in a way that is very different from all other mortals. We come into the world through our parents and are conceived by our mothers. To ascertain whether Jesus of Nazareth is an ordinary person or the incarnated God, we need to examine His birth. If His birth was no different from ours, we have to conclude that He is nothing but a man. Not only does He have to pass the first qualification, but He needs to pass the second one. Do not hastily believe in a person simply because he claims to be God; we have to test him by our second criterion. If he is indeed God, he must be born in an extraordinary manner. If we study the birth of Jesus, we will find that it was very different from ours. He was born of a virgin. Both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament tell us this fact. Jesus was born of a virgin, Mary. Before we go on, we have to realize that there are two ways to know God: by natural speculation or by revelation. According to natural speculation, one meditates and conjectures about God. In revelation, God speaks to man. We want to look at the revelation of God. We want to know what God says. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke show us that Jesus was born of a virgin, Mary. This important fact enables us to conclude that He is no ordinary person, and it justifies our being a Christian. The natural mentality cannot readily accept this fact. Some years ago, a big debate was conducted in England. On one side were prominent leaders of modernistic schools of theology. On the other side was a famous Presbyterian pastor-theologian. Four major topics were raised. Twice a day, for four consecutive days, each side took turns delivering a long speech for a total of eight messages. One of the topics was related to our subject—the virgin birth. The modernistic theologians asserted that one reason alone was enough to disprove the virgin birth—the event was biologically impossible. According to the law of biology, it is impossible to have the virgin birth. On the same day, their opponent gave the rebuttal. Let me briefly mention a few of his arguments. He said, “Our friends have denied the possibility of such an event on the ground of biological law. I am here to ask whether such an event happened. They asked, ‘Can this happen?’ They referred you to academic principles. I am asking, ‘Has this happened?’ I point to a historical occurrence. It is one thing to be academically justified. It is another thing to be historically recorded.”As he was speaking, he drew out a newspaper from his pocket. In the paper was an article about an accident that had happened a few days earlier. A man was driving on a winding mountain road. Due to carelessness, the car slid and tumbled down a deep gorge. The car was totally wrecked. Not even a square foot of the vehicle was left untouched. It was thoroughly damaged. But the man on the ground was absolutely unhurt. Later, he rose up and walked away. The theologian read the passage aloud and said, “This car tumbled down a thousand feet into ruin. You cannot even find a square foot of whole metal, and yet the man was unharmed. My friends would ask, ‘Could this man live?’ But my question is, ‘Is this man alive?’ He is alive! If you consider the possibility, there is none. But if you consider the fact, there it is!”What we have is a historical fact. If we try to study the virgin birth from a scientific point of view, we may conclude that this is an impossible event. But my question is whether or not such an event occurred. The Gospel of Matthew says that Jesus was born of a virgin. So does the Gospel of Luke. At least you have to say that these records have said such a thing and that such an event was recorded in history. At least you have to believe that there is a historical event. I am not asserting that Matthew and Luke were inspired by the Holy Spirit when they wrote their books. Whether these books were divinely inspired or not, we will set aside for a moment. We are saying that there were a few people who followed Jesus. They wrote His biography. Both Matthew and Luke were contemporaries of Jesus. Matthew followed Him for more than three years. Luke was not as close, but he “carefully investigated all things” (Luke 1:3). I believe that when he wrote his gospel, the mother of Jesus was still alive. What did they say about the birth of Jesus? They all testified that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. His birth was absolutely different from ours. Today, after almost two thousand years, some who never saw Jesus, never talked to Mary His mother, and never met Joseph His father; conclude that He was not born of a virgin. How can you say that He was not born in this manner? Are you ruling out the possibility of such an event and concluding that it did not happen because of some arguments you proposed in your study room or some theories you fashioned in the laboratory? Perhaps we should read the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. There are forty-two generations in the genealogy. Beginning from the first generation, it repeatedly says, “So-and-so begot So-and-so.” This phrase is used through verse 15, which says, “And Eliud begot Eleazar, and Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob.” Verse 16 continues, “And Jacob begot Joseph.” The surprising thing is that the next part of the sentence does not continue with “Joseph begot Jesus.” Rather, it says, “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” When the line reaches Joseph, the pattern is dropped. This is because Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. His way of birth was very different from ours. We have seen that His method of coming into the world was an unusual one. Now we want to look at His way of departing from the world. As we shall see, this was also contrary to our ordinary deaths. No one can ever predict the place, time, and manner he or she is going to die. A hundred years from now, all of us here will be dead. But no one knows how we are going to die. Jesus of Nazareth, however, foresaw His own death. He knew exactly when, where, and how it was to happen. Once when someone told Him that He was going to be killed, He answered that it was not acceptable for a prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem (Luke 13:33). He knew that He was going to die in Jerusalem. One day, He told His disciples that the hour had come. Not only did He sense the imminence of His death; He told others that His death hour had come. He knew also how He would die. A number of times He mentioned that He would be crucified. This was recorded at least three times in Matthew. Not only was this man different in His way of entering into the world, but His manner of departure was no less extraordinary. Both His birth and His death were very unusual. Is this the Son of God? Let us consider the third qualification. What kind of morality did Jesus of Nazareth have? Was He the same as we are? Did He ever sin? I like the sentence Jesus spoke in John 8. Many were opposing Him at that time. They surrounded and cross-examined Him. In return He asked, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (v. 46). This was a tremendous challenge! Which one of us would dare to stand before everyone and challenge to be convicted of sin? Whoever dared do such a thing would be put to shame the minute his wife stood up to testify against him. Perhaps, in less than five minutes, seven or eight people would immediately rise up to expose his lies and unfaithfulness. But when Jesus made such a statement, no one was able to convict Him of sin. There has been a countless number of saints and sages throughout the ages, but none was bold enough to claim to be perfect and sinless. Why is it that Jesus alone dared to make such a claim? All I can say is that this man is either arrogant to the extreme or holy to the uttermost. A proud person may talk in an outlandish manner because he does not know himself; he has no realization of what kind of person he is. But when Jesus challenged, “Which of you convicts Me,” there was no way He could be humble or polite about it. He is without sin, and He is holy to the uttermost. Jesus of Nazareth is not like Confucius, who said that given some more time, he would be rid of big, moral flaws. Jesus is sinless. When He made such a statement, He made it before His enemies. If there had been a slight misconduct on His part, the Jews would have caught it right away. The Jews are not prolific writers; they have not produced many books other than the Holy Scripture. But after Jesus, many books were written by the Jews to contradict Him. All these books deny His divinity, but none touch His morality. Of all the opposing writings, none can prove that Jesus ever sinned. Every philosopher or founder of religion, at one time or another, has said, “I repent,” or “I regret such and such a matter. I will do better from now on.” But Jesus of Nazareth never repented. A sinner must of necessity repent. But what does a sinless man have to repent of? Jesus never apologized to anyone; He never did anyone any wrong. When I was in England, some British friends asked for my opinion concerning their people. I said, “Among you, once ever so often, I hear, ‘Excuse me’ and ‘I beg your pardon.'” To the English, anyone who does not know how to make these two remarks has to be an extremely base person, for he knows not his own mistakes. Anyone can make a mistake, but when one refuses to admit his mistakes, he makes himself vulgar. For this reason we have to say, “Excuse me” and “I beg your pardon” all the time. The amazing thing is that Jesus of Nazareth never said “sorry” to anyone. He never apologized. Could He be so evil as to ignore His conscience completely? Was He oblivious to His own errors? Or is He really sinless? If so, He cannot say, “sorry.” It is not a matter of humility or politeness to Him, but a matter of maintaining His standing. I love the story about Jesus once walking down a road. Many people were gathered around Him, hoping to see the resurrection of a dead person. It was so crowded that the people pressed upon each other. One woman, who suffered from an issue of blood for years, thought that Jesus would surely be able to heal her since He had performed all kinds of miracles. She did not come to the Lord directly. All that she did was touch the fringe of His garment, and the sickness was immediately healed (Mark 5:25-29).Jesus felt something, turned around, and asked, “Who touched Me?” How did the disciples respond? They said, “You see the crowd pressing upon You and You say, Who touched Me?” (v. 31). He should have asked, “Who pressed Me?” instead of “Who touched Me?” If I were Jesus, I would have said in a gentlemanly fashion, “Excuse me.” But Jesus did not need to say that. When He said that it was a touch, He meant that it was a touch and not a pressing against. The disciples only knew that many thronged around Him. But He knew that someone “touched” Him. He knew what He was doing. There was no need for apology. He knows no sin because He is without sin. Let me mention another story about Jesus. One day He came to the synagogue in His hometown. Someone handed Him the Scripture, and He started to read from a passage about Himself. The people there, however, despised Him. He remarked that a prophet is always despised in His own place. For this reason, God would not choose them but would rather go to someone else. After they heard this, they were very indignant. They carried Him outside and tried to throw Him down a cliff. I like very much what Jesus did then. He passed through their midst (Luke 4:16-30). If someone tried to push us over a cliff, we would struggle to escape. But He was no ordinary person. He simply passed through the persecutors’ midst. They could do nothing except let Him pass by! He is without sin. Again, you see the same Jesus preaching to a ruler at midnight in a house (John 3:2), while choosing to converse with a woman beside a well at midday (4:5-7). Everything He did was very proper. No one can say anything against Him. You cannot find fault in Him. Another time some opposers came to tempt Him. They asked whether or not it was lawful to pay tax to Caesar. The Jewish nation, as you know, no longer existed then, and Caesar of Rome was their king. If Jesus said “no” to the question, He would have been involved in a political issue, and the opposers would have had an excuse to condemn Him. If He said “yes,” all the Jews would have counted Him as siding with the Romans and hated Him. The result, of course, would have favored the opposers. This was a question that could not be answered “yes” or “no.”How did Jesus reply? He said, “Show Me the coin for the tribute” (Matt. 22:19). He was wise. He even had the opposing ones draw out the money from their own pockets. Then He asked, “Whose is this image and inscription?” (v. 20). They had to admit that it was Caesar’s. Jesus gave an excellent reply: “Render then the things that are Caesar’s to Caesar and the things that are God’s to God” (v. 21). With that He dismissed the whole case. This is where His majesty lies. He never made a mistake. You cannot get a case out of Him. I cannot enumerate all His deeds. Everything He did bears such a mark of nobility that there is absolutely no flaw in His behavior. I will briefly mention His betrayal as a final example. It was very late in the night, and men armed with torches, spears, and swords came to arrest this empty-handed Jesus. He asked them, “Whom do you seek?” They said, “Jesus the Nazarene” (John 18:7). He replied, “I told you that I am” (v. 8). At that very word, the band of rogues whose minds were set on capturing Him fell back to the ground. If Jesus had not voluntarily given Himself over to them, they would never have been able to seize Him. Such calmness and majesty can only be seen in Him! As to the traitor, Jesus knew from the first day of his intention. Yet He allowed the same to follow Him and even let him be the keeper of the money. All the time Jesus knew that money was being stolen by him. Who can demonstrate such forbearance and uprightness? Here is a man who is absolutely different from all others. In every respect, He has been proven to be the Son of God. The fourth qualification we mentioned is that one who claims to be God incarnated must be able to perform what an ordinary person cannot. Has Jesus of Nazareth performed any supernatural acts? We are not His contemporaries; it was almost two thousand years ago that He walked on earth. Naturally, we cannot be His witnesses. But one thing is sure: the apostles who followed Jesus recorded, preached, and testified the things concerning Him. The four Gospels were all completed within thirty years after His departure. Most of the Jews who were then alive had seen Jesus. If the apostles’ records were false, they would have been repudiated long ago. However, the Jews only argued that Jesus is not the Son of God. They never denied His deeds, for the deeds were all facts. Today, when we read the four Gospels, we have no apprehension about their authenticity. If there had been a slight error when they were written, there would have been grave problems because many of the contemporaries had actually seen and heard Jesus. There was no chance for any fabrication. Hence, these books cannot be a hoax. If the Jews could not attack these books, there is even less of a basis for an attack today. Let us examine some of the deeds of Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew 11:2 and 3 say, “Now when John heard in the prison of the works of the Christ, he sent word through his disciples and said to Him, Are You the Coming One, or should we expect another?” John wanted to make sure that Jesus was the Christ sent from God. If He was not, John would wait for another. Verses 4 and 5 say, “And Jesus answered and said to them, Go, report to John the things that you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; and the dead are raised and the poor have the gospel announced to them.” Jesus answered neither “yes” nor “no.” He only asked the messenger to tell John of the things heard and seen. He wanted John to think about them and decide for himself if Jesus was the Christ. Jesus proved His divinity by the miracles He performed. Here is a man who accomplished things that are impossible for human beings. You cannot help but confess that He is God. John 7:31 says, “But many out of the crowd believed into Him and said, Will the Christ, when He comes, do more signs than this man has done?” Many people testified that He performed all kinds of miracles which no man could do. John 10:24 says, “The Jews therefore surrounded Him and said to Him, How long will you hold our soul in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” On the one hand, the Jews hardened their hearts and refused to acknowledge His divinity, and on the other hand, they were puzzled by the many supernatural miracles that He performed. They gathered around Him and pressed for an answer. There is one thing in which Jesus never gave in: His claim to divinity. He performed what mortals could not. These acts testify to His divinity. He told the people clearly, “The works which I do in My Father’s name, these testify concerning Me” (v. 25). On the one hand, He made His claim, and on the other hand, He performed miracles to justify His claim. In John 14:11 He said to His disciples, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” This is the same as saying that He is the invisible Father. “But if not, believe because of the works themselves.” If He had not done anything impossible, this word would have had no value at all. If He had not performed any extraordinary acts, they would have asked back, “What works have you done? We do not know what you are talking about.” But the disciples knew of the acts He did. All these acts prove that He is the Son of God. We have to check Jesus of Nazareth against a fifth qualification. If He is God, He has to show us what He is. Is He kind, or is He severe? Is He gentle, or is He fierce? What kind of a God do we have? As a matter of fact, Jesus did show us what God is. This is a most wonderful thing. The eternal, invisible God is now seen by us. There is no need to conjure up an untouchable and far transcendent God or imagine what He is like; He has revealed Himself to us. He has dwelt in our midst and walked among us. Jesus of Nazareth is the very God dwelling among and with man. He has manifested God’s nature and attributes to us. There is no need to search for God anymore because He has revealed Himself. Our mentality is too limited. Our hands are too short, and our viewpoint too narrow. If we were left to ourselves to study and search for God, we could only conclude that He is the unknown One. Now we know that God desires to reveal Himself. In fact, He has revealed Himself to us already. We have said that the two means whereby God communicates with us are the written and spoken language. For this reason, the Bible and Jesus of Nazareth are the two indispensable factors in our faith. When you take away either one, God becomes the gravest problem in the world. Hebrews 1:1 says, “God, having spoken of old in many portions and in many ways to the fathers in the prophets.” These speaking constitute the Bible. “Has at the last of these days spoken to us in the Son” (v. 2). This is Jesus of Nazareth. Whoever is in Christ now may know Him. To have heard the words of Jesus of Nazareth is to have heard the words of God. Dear reader, what is your attitude towards Jesus of Nazareth? Thomas confessed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Peter proclaimed, “You are…the Son of the living God!” (Matt. 16:16). Martha said, “I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God” (John 11:27). Even a Roman centurion exclaimed at the sight of Jesus hanging on the cross, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matt. 27:54b). I hope you will make the same confession
    WHO IS HE?
    Our Christian faith is based upon the revelation
    of God. It is different from all other religions which are attained through meditation, conjecture, and searching. We believe that the Bible is God’s revelation to us. In other words, it is His spoken word to us. We also believe that God has become a man, who is the very Jesus of Nazareth. God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ constitute the basis of our faith. Let us begin by looking at the position that Christ occupies in our faith, or we may say, in Christianity. However, Christianity has been altered and is not what it ought to be. At the present we will not mention what Christianity ought to be. Rather, we will only draw a comparison between Christianity and other religions in order to see the distinctiveness of our faith. We will not try purposely to exalt Christianity and debase other religions. We will only draw an objective comparison between them. First, let us consider Confucianism. Actually, followers of Confucius never formally assert that theirs is a religion. Confucianism merely exercises great influence on Chinese culture, education, ethics, and philosophy. One thing, however, is certain: the teachings and doctrines of Confucius are of foremost importance, while the person Confucius is not as crucial. I do not mean that Confucianism has no concern for Confucius. The man indeed was an extraordinary person. However, in order to be a part of Confucianism, one only need to understand the doctrines of Confucius, abide by his teachings, and be thoroughly acquainted with his books. It does not matter whether one understands the man Confucius or not. The principles, doctrines, and teachings of Confucius are the essence of the religion. Next let us consider Buddhism. The founder of Buddhism was Sakya Muni. Once he preached to his disciples about evil persons being reincarnated through the Wheel of Rebirth after death. This is something that attracts man’s attention. But in all of Buddhism, the point of emphasis is doctrines and theories. Concerning the man Sakya Muni, although he has a history and biography, they are something parenthetical. They do not form the crux of Buddhism. The center of the religion is not the man Sakya Muni. Whether there was such a person is unimportant to today’s Buddhism. All that is needed are the doctrines and teachings. Other religions such as Taoism and Mohammedanism are all of the same principle. After each founder set up a religion and left h

  • 55. Joe Sperling  |  June 25, 2008 at 11:56 am

    rafael—

    Just a suggestion. Use paragraph breaks when posting such an exceedingly long post. And also, another suggestion, don’t cut and paste an exceedingly long post from one thread to another thread as it becomes tedious and can be annoying.

    I do appreciate the post though (a little less than on the other thread though)

  • 56. r.horn  |  October 10, 2008 at 1:09 am

    After reading most of the comments , i am convinced no one has any insight as to how space/ matter was created. i will go with my beliefs and not be concerned with the past. i love science, but not the pseudo scientists trying to be “the ones who know.” get a life and figure out why God exists. there are more reasons to believe than not to believe. think about why God is always tugging at your shirt sleeves and yet you can’t figure out why. He will always be seeking you.

  • 57. christy  |  February 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    just one question. Where did the conscience come from?

  • 58. christy  |  February 1, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    and when i say conscience, i mean everyones ability to know the difference between right and wrong?

  • 59. Quester  |  February 1, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    It’s a natural by-product of empathy and reason, Christy.

  • 60. christy  |  February 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    cute :) you science people have an answer for everything. Can you tell me how to make my hair grow faster? I really dont like this new hair cut.

  • 61. BigHouse  |  February 3, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Snarkiness aside, Christy, do you have a reasonable critique and/ore rebuttal of Quester’s answer?

  • 62. Ubi Dubium  |  February 3, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Christi,
    One of the best ways to make your hair grow faster is to get pregnant. Worked wonders for my hair. Of course, the extra hair growth is only temporary. Any other advice you need?

  • 63. Notachurchgoer  |  February 4, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Rafael,

    How do you know God is an He? Because the bible say so?

    Have you read the bible in its entirety? How can an all knowing all powerful God write such blatant contradictions?

    Have you done historical research on the Middle east and the Jewish people,using text outside of the bible?

    Have you done reseach on the 10-15 other God-men from centurys to a few thousand years before Christianity, that were born of a Virgin, performed miricles, died and came back from the dead?

    You have this long post but its not really saying much in this particular forum… I know the agenda, been there….down playing other religions to “sow” the seed of Christianity. give me some Solid proof Christian Dogma and I promise I’ll re-convert.

  • 64. CheezChoc  |  February 4, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Take calcium for your hair.

  • 65. Anonymous  |  February 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    thanks for the advice on getting my hair to grow. and all “snarkiness” aside, yes I do have a lot of questions, and a lot of my own answers, but at the end of the day it would be a waste of yours and my time because I will have my thoughts, you will have your thoughts, and pretty much neither us will sway. but i do look to read about these “matters” (hehe, no pun intended) If there is a God,(which I am sure their is) He is probably the ultimate scientist.

  • 66. Anonymous  |  February 17, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    o and the Bible was actually WRITTEN by Man.

  • 67. Daniel Joubert  |  March 25, 2011 at 2:45 am

    When The Dooors of Perception are Cleansed,Then we see Things as They Truely Are! Infinint! In other words,in a hundred years whos gonna care! lol.God Created Man,Man Created Machines,Machines Creat Themselfs!

  • 68. Kevin  |  December 5, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    notachurchgoer: you make the assertion that the bible is full of blatant contradictions, would you please point some out. As for the assumption that the time surrounding the big bang was a season of “time out” for the laws of thermodynamics, well that is awful convenient now isn’t it? We know matter and energy cannot create or destroy itself. So, using strictly the laws of science, the existence of matter is impossible. Making the assumption that maybe these laws didn’t apply for a while with no proof of this is misleading. A cell is a very complex thing. Hawkins himself when pressed came up with the lame idea that perhaps aliens came here and set life in motion. He never elaborated on hoiw this happened. Without matter, intelligent design is the only plausible intelligent answer.

  • 69. Kevin  |  December 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Rafael: you said: Christianity has been altered and is not what it ought to be. Would you explain what was altered, and please cite your proof so that I may cast aside the negative aspects of christianity.

  • 70. cag  |  December 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Kevin, you can start here for contradictions.

    It doesn’t take a scientific mind to question the creation story in Genesis. The absurdity of the earth being created before the rest of the universe and taking 5 days to create the earth and 1 day to create the rest of the universe should not need elaboration. Such nonsense just confirms that the bible is just a compendium of the ignorance of pre-scientific humans.

  • 71. ubi dubium  |  December 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Kevin,

    If you were paying attention, you would have noticed that you were replying to comments made on this thread over two years ago. Not a good way to start a conversation.

    I was going to point you to a list of over 400 contraditions online, but Cag beat me to it. I would recommend, though, that you not just take the website’s word for what the bible says in those verses. Get out your own bible and doublecheck. Yes, some of those contradictions are for little unimportant stuff, but some of them are about major issues.

    And don’t try the old fundie pseudo-scientific apologetics. Under quantum theory, matter and evergy is popping into and out of existence all the time. None of that “intelligent designer” stuff is going to be convincing to someone literate in actual science, it just makes you look foolish. Don’t even try.

  • 72. terence  |  December 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Someone said that the one thing they didn’t like about Christians is that they think a scientist saying “I don’t know” is a weakness that automatically makes the Christian right.
    Saying I don’t know is a weakness because you don’t know. Science as we know it is not in a position to tell a Christian that they are wrong but they do it all the time. Science might eventually even get to the point where it has to acknowledge the existence of God because they don’t know.
    What lies beyond the expanding universe? They don’t know What laws exist and apply beyond the expanding universe? They don’t know. Why is the universe made of matter or anti-matter if you will? they don’t know
    Once you acknowledge that there is a ‘beyond our universe’ then you have to acknowledge that science cannot have all the answers. You cannot put what is beyond in a test tube, but you still believe it exists.
    Simply put, it is not unreasonable to say that the reason why anti-matter isn’t destroying our material universe is because someone is preventing it.

  • 73. ubi dubium  |  December 19, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Another annoying thing about christians is their way of jumping from “something is the cause” to “someONE is the cause” to “the exact god that I believe in is the cause”. And they make this unwarranted jump all the time.

    When scientists do not know something, that’s great because it means there’s something new to figure out. And until they do figure it out, it’s OK to honestly say “we don’t know that yet”. When religion does not know something, they claim that they actually DO know, and fill in all the gaps with their god. That’s great if you want to feel all smug and superior, but useless for finding out the correct answers to how the universe actually works.

  • 74. terence  |  December 19, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Scientist to Christian: You’re absolutely, unequivocally wrong. It is asinine to believe in a fairy tale God. There is a greater chance that Santa Claus exists than there is of God. We don’t know how it happened but it certainly wasn’t God.
    Listen to Richard Dawkins for five minutes.That’s what smug and superior looks like ubi dubium. All I’m saying is they don’t know so they shouldn’t be attacking people who believe in God.

  • 75. ubi dubium  |  December 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    No, that’s not it at all

    Scientist to Christian: There is no evidence to support your claim of “goddidit”. Until you produce some verifiable evidence, stop trying to claim you have all the answers, or that people who do not agree with you are bad people. Stop trying to have your unsupported mythology taught in public school science classes. Stop trying to force your religion into every corner of every person’s life. Because when you do that, you open up your ideas to the same criticism that all ideas should be subject to.

    I’ve read most of Dawkins’ works, and agree with much of what he says. He does not generally attack “people who believe in god” he mostly attacks “belief in god”. Those are two very separate things, but believers often have their identity so wrapped up in their beliefs that they have a hard time separating them.

    terence, this website is a support group for people who are de-converting from xianity. What are you doing here?

  • 76. terence  |  December 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Interesting that I don’t know is acceptable ‘evidence’ to attack a belief in God. I don’t see how that’s any different from using “I believe” to refute unproven “theories”.
    I wouldn’t teach Christianity in a science class, I would call it “Religious Knowledge” like it was called thirty years ago when i was in school.
    I realise now what this site is for. I was basically researching information to refute the atheists who keep posting on my comments about God on youtube. But don’t worry, I won’t be back.

  • 77. Mark Wilson  |  March 1, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    We live in a world that tells us there is no life after death – No hope. I disagree completely and I tire of that hope being wrestled away from young children all the way up to the aged at deaths door.
    The proponents of Science continually tell us there is no God. That each of us are a product of random chance, an existence with no purpose other than to live this brief life we now have. That there is no future for us except oblivion, with our only hope being the time we can extend these lives via scientific advancements.
    I disagree completely.
    You see, all opinion is just that, opinion. Some of it is found to be true (or what we consider to be true) but always vantage points must be considered and in a variety of ways. So when science states that there is no God, that the universe is a random occurrence and just one of many (perhaps infinite) occurrences, that is only an opinion based on (extremely limited) data accumulated by a group of people. The arrival of such a conclusion can only be a personal belief, a personal conclusion, which may or may not be accepted by others. For in undeniable truth, science has no shred of evidence to prove that the universe was not created. Read that again and think it through.
    They can only surmise as to how it might have come into being from a very finite line of reasoning based on our sensory abilities gifted to us via the human body in conjunction with our human brain to organize and conclude. All of which is extremely limited, even with the aid of computer technologies (no matter how powerful), as they are created by and limited to human reasoning and foresight. So much so that any attempt to mandate what is completely factual regarding the formation of our universe (and all carbon based life) is extremely speculative at best. To speculate is good as it allows for creative thinking and growth, but to mandate that such speculation is factual? That is absurd.

    Up until recently, the understanding of this material (macro) realm has been based upon the reasoning of what is called Newtonian philosophy, which supposed that all material things are built up from smaller, more dense particles. I say supposed because that was the theory science held and taught as fact (in all institutions of learning) until…, well, until it discovered that smaller particles (such as an atom) are almost completely empty, 99.9999999999999% empty to be more exact. Further, that atoms (the supposedly densely compacted building blocks of everything that has substance) are not remotely what we thought atoms were, as atoms do not behave like larger objects at all. In truth, there are no atoms until we look for them. For until that point where they are measured (observed) they are only a wave of potential possibility. In other words, atoms are not stationary objects with a permanent zip code. They are more like a living potential, revealing a location and form when we attempt to measure them.
    Reality is far more weird than any conceived tale.
    Now this may seem extremely strange and most will not even care but the critical point here is that literally everything science has believed for the past several hundred years about substance (from dirt on the ground, to a human being, to the stars in the heavens) is completely wrong. What does this mean? It means that all we see in our macro realm is not what it seems, at all. Period.

    The transition from our macro realm to the micro realm requires a transition in how to think, so if we approach this sense shattering realm with macro thinking we will be continuously stumped and befuddled, which is where science is at present. Their code of conduct, or rather method of approach, is to use quantum theory only as it benefits us in our realm (such as with one third of our gross national product) but do not attempt to interpret meaning or apply such meanings to other branches of science. The reason being is that quantum physics rewrites science completely, which is why most scientists spend about zero time in comprehending how it applies to their particular domain.
    What does all of this mean? It means that since consciousness is a vital part in the formation of what we call substance or matter (it is what causes the wave potential to collapse into a reality in our macro realm), that nothing tangible to our senses (including our senses) can exist without such conscious interaction.
    This understanding then begs the question, who or what created what science calls the Big Bang? Or more accurately, was the big bang even necessary?

    For it is fact, regardless of any findings collected to this point in history that may seem contrary, that consciousness had to be involved for such an event to even occur. It must be understood that consciousness is first cause and not what we call the Big Bang. This is basic and simple really, not a notion or an attempt to slip God into the event but a fact that is as solid as the event itself. Anything less is just misleading agenda driven science. Further, a participating consciousness (whether multiple of infinitely large) must have participated in all events from the initial bang outwards to present. That is not speculation but is an undeniable fact. Yet we have been spoon fed a type of neo-Newtonian mechanistic physics, which allows for randomly redundant, unmanaged and spontaneous creation of all arrangements in our universe. Which is a type of science that fits a carefully controlled theory but in fact cannot possible work, at all. Matter does not form in such a way. Our universe could not form in such a way. It is impossible.

    In the simple universe of the twentieth century (the universe of Newtonian solid particles), the Big Bang was conceived. It was a viable theory of consideration and a frustration for believers in a creator God, until a mergence of thought that could accept such an occurrence as a rational explanation of how God created the universe.
    Science has stubbornly stuck to and built upon this mechanistic behemoth, shoring up and doing their best to make this theory appear to be a solid fact. To the point where it seems to be a universal truth in teaching centers across our globe. Yet the problem with the Big Bang is that it is not at all necessary in our twenty first century understanding of physics. Where atoms are not stationary, super dense marbles of matter but instead are 99.9999999999999 empty energy forces brought into macro existence only when determined to be so by conscious interaction.

    When you consider string theory as a possible truth, then you have to ask yourself where did such a matrix come from? Forgive the use of the word matrix but it best explains the concept, as the primary dictionary meaning of this word is, “something (such as a situation or a set of conditions) in which something else develops or forms”. Our universe formed from a set of conditions yet unknown and regardless of any scientific explanation, the truth is that no one knows how. And within our universe all matter and carbon based life has developed. And the Jurassic Park jewel of wisdom, “Life will find a way”, is a very lame and feeble quote that biology seems to hold on to. Mainly because they are not looking under the hood of the biological car and observing the quantum engine.
    In truth, life cannot ever find a way unless directed to do so very specifically at the quantum level. So where did the strings come from? No one knows. Not even remotely.
    If they are a result, then I ask: A result of what? As all things are made up of them.

    The newest simple solution to the question of where did our universe come from, is a probable collision of two universes (now with rippling edges) which in simple theory created what science calls the Big Bang. I call this simple solution and simple theory because it is a grossly inadequate and an overrated theory with no explanation for the living nature of the smallest particles called strings. Science is still postulating with a macro based reasoning, backwards in an attempt to solve a micro emergence forward, which is a complete missing of the dynamic of our universe.
    And the rippling edged universe collision has so many problems that I am amazed that any scientist could even consider such a postulation. It is an embarrassment of logic, as each point of impact from two (supposed) ripped edged universes would create multiple singularities (meaning many universes) and not a clumped single universe. It is just a deflection away from the failure of the age worn, untenable Big Bang.

    If you believe in a creator, in God. If you know in your heart that it is truth but can’t compete with the seeming intelligence of science (or the media) who drill into us that there is no God, please know with absolute certainty that you are and always have been correct. Pray to Him with joy, with hope already fulfilled. He hears EVERYTHING. He sees EVERYTHING. He holds EVERYTHING in a balance so perfect that it defies our ability to comprehend (unless you know Him). Know for a fact that He LOVES YOU. He cares for YOU. He is with you even in the darkest, most brutal of times. Each life is of unimaginable value, so truly love others. For in doing so you are being just like Him. Care for others because He chose YOU to do this. He works through YOU, as much as you will allow Him to. At the moment of death, smile. Smile BIG because you will go home to Him and the awesomeness of life, your life, will finally be revealed.

    Point of fact: No one knows how our universe was created but I can state with confidence that it was created. Without conscious interaction at the quantum level, absolutely NO reaction can occur at the macro level. It HAD to be a calculated event.
    Food for thought, Mark Wilson

  • 78. cag  |  March 1, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    #77 Mark Wilson, so where did your god come from?

    He loves you unless you have a debilitating disease or you are a child dying of starvation or you are blinded by bilharzia snails or anopheles mosquitoes give you malaria and on and on. Ebola, SARS, rabies, polio, leprosy – all expressions of love. Your food is rotten.

  • 79. Mark Wilson  |  March 1, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Hi Cag,
    I am trying to connect your statement or concern to what I wrote but it is difficult to find a connection at all. Perhaps you approached what I wrote with an agenda in mind? Meaning that a defective life is somehow a measurement of “Gods” love towards or for an individual human?

    I did not address that perspective in any way but the only place that comes close would be at he tail end of my original comment where I stated, “He sees EVERYTHING. He holds EVERYTHING in a balance so perfect that it defies our ability to comprehend (unless you know Him). Know for a fact that He LOVES YOU. He cares for YOU. He is with you even in the darkest, most brutal of times. Each life is of unimaginable value, so truly love others. For in doing so you are being just like Him. Care for others because He chose YOU to do this. He works through YOU, as much as you will allow Him to.”

    I tend to think that this is the area of your concern?
    If this is the area of question, I can see a very subtle connection to your conclusion but only very limited. For in the statement itself I wrote that there is no qualifying position for “God’s love”. He truly loves us in a way that we are barely learning to emulate while in this realm, which is one of the greatest purposes of human life in these macro containers.

    When I wrote “(unless you know Him)”, that was not an exclusionary statement meant to say that only those that know God are loved by Him. It simply meant that our ability to comprehend His amazing balance of all things becomes more clear if we do know Him. Knowing God intimately enables faith to grow.

    Your concern is based on macro reasoning as that is all you are aware of, which is normal. This realm is meant to have that effect on us. But the truth is that sickness, disease, what we would consider physical defects, have no effect on His love for us or towards us. Further, the apparent randomness (and cruelness) of such imperfections have a much greater and far reaching purpose than comprehended. The brevity of life in macro containers has eternal effect, as the human condition is the perfect vehicle in which to experience separateness and learn to love at great cost.

    I take it you did not read or understand the consequence of what I wrote? That you are not a randomly generated biological circumstance but an eternal being collapsed into a macro shell.
    When you understand that no physical matter exists without conscious interaction, and when you understand that the human brain is not the author or source of your individual consciousness (it is most certainly the reverse), life has a completely different perspective and design.

    Macro based logic seems to find a friendly firmness and consolation in random chance, as it deflects the hard questions of WHY? Because we are left with brute force or fact as reality.
    If we think deeper and add God into the equation, the question of why did God allow that to happen materializes. At which point only faith allows some solace. Many times however it will foster an attitude of personal rejection, as if God must not love me if I suffer from this or that. But again, it is backwards mechanistic thinking and misses the point of why we are even here.
    The truth is that we are all connected, which is why loving others is so crucial to learn.
    All humans have incalculable value. We are not a wind up toy, wound by God’s causality and left to unwind in the supposed chaos of chance or genetic defect. That is limited macro based reasoning.

    This is just a simple response, so I apologize if it opens more questions then is closes. I don’t mean to do that. The salient point is that God’s love, “even in the darkest, most brutal of times” (as referred to in my original writing) encompasses your concerns.
    The problem is that we have difficulty connecting the dots in understanding the why. And that is one of the greatest purposes of our life as an air breather.
    Take care,
    mark

  • 80. cag  |  March 2, 2014 at 12:24 am

    Mark, there is only one issue- be the first ever to provide incontrovertible evidence for any god at all. That there are thousands of gods that have been created in the minds of humans should give you pause to consider, if you had lived 2000 years ago what gods would you be absolutely certain existed. Would it be the Roman gods, the Greek gods, the Egyptian gods, the Norse gods, the Polynesian gods or any of the other thousands of gods that are now discounted? Humans have been sacrificed to appease what we now know are imaginary gods. Your imaginary god is no different than any of the others and your faith is not stronger than those who would kill for their non existent deities.

    Your words are meaningless as long as there is no evidence for the existence of any god. The real hurdle for you is to show that any god exists. Until you do, you have nothing.

    He truly loves us in a way that we are barely learning to emulate

    I hope we do not emulate that kind of “love”.

    You seem to have a direct pipe to god. Have him contact me, sometime in the next 2000 years (Matthew 16: 27, 28).

  • 81. Mark Wilson  |  March 2, 2014 at 3:23 am

    Hi again Cag,
    I’m sorry, I made an assumption that you believed in “God” but were frustrated with what I wrote.

    Through the years of our “enlightened” age proponents of science have filtered the idea of “God” through a multifaceted lens trying to be fair to all faiths (or perhaps unfair?) but almost always choose the lens of the early Catholic church, which spawned the bloody crusades and the horrors of the inquisitions. Because it was this world power that dominated the actions of science, regardless of accuracy, and erected a barrier between science and “God” when one was never needed. For after all, “God” is the greatest scientist, creating all the components we observe and work with in this macro realm.

    And you are so correct, as their are countless religions that all have their own idea of what “God” or gods are. Multiple creations stories ranging from mildly funny to absolutely absurd, so I do understand the huge problem confronted by any who seek who and what “God” is. Yet I have found a very premature prejudice in even entertaining the notion of “God” within scientific circles with your exact argument used.
    The tenacity of Edison, who doggedly went through over two thousand recipes for a light bulb filament before discovered the one that worked well, is an example to follow. He wanted light and so he did not give up his quest by dismissing the light bulb as an impossible notion. If the same determination was used to discover who “God” is and who He is not, as opposed to throwing all away, everyone too would find the light.

    Yet Science has become muted and stunted by a foundational tenant called upward causation, which it refuses to budge from, thereby eliminating discovery. Upward causation is a point of view but it becomes a myopic position if eyes and ears are closed to alternatives. It then becomes a belief and nothing more. For if science (or whoever the consensus of science is) entertains upward causation it must be measured against the position of downward causation in order to be not only fair but balanced.
    Whoever stated that random chance upward causation is a one 100% undeniable truth needs to learn. It is a vantage point of thought and nothing more.

    Random chance upward causation is halted immediately within the science of quantum physics. Although quantum physics is in its infancy due to our repeatedly trying to apply macro based reasoning to outcome. It is here in the micro realm the all of macro based theory and thinking are quickly corrected. Whether the big bang or evolution, macro theory is laid bare and ripped to shreds. The assumption of what works here in the macro realm of “things” must somehow be the same there is far from the truth.
    The arguments of the big bang and evolution, two hotly contested theories between atheists and religious believers, literally become a non issue.

    I said it earlier and i will say it again, we have been spoon fed a type of neo-Newtonian mechanistic physics, which allows for randomly redundant, unmanaged and spontaneous creation of all arrangements in our universe. Which is a type of science that fits a carefully controlled theory but in fact cannot possible work, at all. Matter does not form in such a way. Our universe could not form in such a way. It is impossible.

    Mark

  • 82. cag  |  March 2, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Mark, a lot of blather, but not a shred of evidence for any god. You have previously opined that “conscious interaction” is required for creation. Am I to assume that there is”conscious interaction” when rain falls and creates erosion, or when a hurricane forms or an earthquake creates a tsunami?

    In case it hasn’t been made clear to you, this is a site for those who totally, unequivocally, explicitly and thoughtfully reject the childish notion of the supernatural, including your imaginary god. You might want to refer to 1 Corinthians 13:11.

    The bible falls apart for me when it claims that the earth was created before the sun and it took 5 days to create the earth and only 1 day to create everything else in the universe. After that, everything else is suspect including Matthew 4:8 which claims that the earth is flat. The bible has nothing to offer apart from being a good exercise in detecting nonsense.

    Are you able to understand the logical fallacy of the claim that the bible is true because it is the word (or inspired by) of god and that god exists because the bible says so? Hint: Circular reasoning. The bible does not prove anything.

  • 83. Anonymous  |  March 2, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Blather? The formation of physical macro substance is blather?
    If you can understand what I wrote (most scientists do not) then all becomes very clear. All science stems from this. All.

    But let’s divert to your main point – Genesis and its failings… But first…
    This is written with speed so forgive probable meanderings. All comes from my mind (I do not copy others writings for anything I write) so that will create limited perspective but I assure you, the foundation is correct. I know quantum physics well but I know the bible extremely well. As a habit of determined foresight I do not mention biblical quotes in my writings for the greater purpose of level communication. It is not a proof text to hammer one over the head with, nor is it a way of claiming victory by knowing more than another does. Its substance is only part of my learning.

    So let’s look at Genesis properly, as opposed to traditionally…

    In 1470 BC, no man comprehended anything beyond the stars that could been seen with the naked eye. And no one knew how far away those stars were, nor the distance of the sun, the planets and the moon within our solar system. The “Heavens” to man was a far more limited concept at that time then it is today.

    In reality, Genesis never once talks about the creation of the universe but rather we read that into the text in the word “Heavens”. And it is here, upon that wrong perspective, that we have created a tremendous problem.

    Flatly stated, Genesis is not a scientific paper on how the universe began. Rather it is the history of a people that can trace its line back to Abraham (the first man of faith) and back through to Adam (the first man of flesh with a soul).

    Moses learned most of this history from Jethro, his father in-law, who was the priest of Midian.

    The term for Priest was different than how we understand it currently, as he was the caretaker of his people’s history by memorization. Think of the TV movie series Roots by Alex Haley and you will have a better understanding. There is no indication that Jethro could write, which was common for many people groups of that era.

    Moses was the perfect match as he was taught to write.

    Moses learned how to write while being brought up as a educated egyptian and he wrote down what Jethro taught him. Remember, he was a Hebrew by genetics but an Egyptian by culture and training. And yes, there is obviously a spiritual element here, for the angel on the Sinai mountain also told him some history and facts as well but never was the idea of the entire universe alluded to, we simple read that into the text.

    The Hebrew words that encompass the idea of the Cosmos (or universe) was not the same as we, in our telescopic world, understand it to be today.

    The cosmos for a man at that time was much different and far smaller than ours is today.

    What Moses was saying to the people is that “all we can see with our eyes was created by this God of heaven”. And you must understand that the purpose in giving such information was to remove their current Egyptian understanding of creation.

    The six day creation indicates a perspective from earth at all times. The sun, the moon, and the stars, all from the perspective of one standing on the earth.

    Nowhere in the text does it even remotely indicate what our (now) current understanding of the universe is and it is here where religion looks silly in the eyes of ever maturing science.

    The seven day cycle was a way to remember the history. Six days of creation and a seventh day of rest.This was how the priest remembered. It was more like a tool or a code in memorization.

    Why was Genesis written???

    Again, Genesis is a history for the people of Israel, from a purposely limited perspective. It is by no means complete but only shows exactly what was meant to be shown and for a very specific purpose.

    The people called Israel were a sub-class in Egypt. Nearly 400 years is an very long time, especially if you consider that they did not yet possess writing skills. During these many generations the people were constantly exposed to the Egyptian beliefs of creation and there pantheon of gods. So when Moses was commanded to lead them out of Egypt, these people had little or NO clue at all of their heritage and their true history. To many of the Hebrews that left Egypt, the idea of a singular God was new. To others, it was the “God of Moses”, or the God of “Abraham”. And to those that remembered their ancestral stories fairly well, He was also the God Isaac and of Jacob, who would became Israel.

    Beyond that they knew nothing of Him.

    Now, who told Moses the Genesis origins stories?

    Most people think that “God” dictated the entire book of Genesis to Moses and so every word that Moses wrote is exact truth from God Himself. Which is why so MANY are passionate about this issue.

    But the truth is that Moses learned these stories from his father-in-law, Jethro, who was priest of Midian (as I wrote above). The Angel that came into his tent dictated to him most of the laws. There is no indication that the Angel dictated the Genesis account to Moses. We know almost nothing of their intimate conversations.

    Sadly, many religious organizations teach it in the only way they know how, as many teachers generally are filled with zeal but lack the knowledge to teach properly. Consequently the creation story is taught incorrectly almost everywhere.

    But Cag, it is OK. Because they are trying and most are very sincere, attaching faith and passion to these words. Where it becomes difficult and annoying is when a mechanically inclined thinker finds short circuits in the story. Such as you did and many others do. But that is OK too, as you are on a journey of discovery yourself and this is part of your path, as it is mine.

    Be patient with passionate zealots as they are learning too. Actually, you can help quite a bit by helping them to correct their understanding of science. So many people need this but fear it because they do not want to loose sight of God.

    But God does not rise or fall based on our observations, learnings, or intentions. You deal with Him each and every day of your existence as an air breather (and will after) but do not yet recognize who He is. When you understand the very first sentence in this writing you will understand part of who God is.
    Max Planck was no simpleton and yet he was firmly a christian.
    He saw a beautiful balance even though he also saw the mind blowing enigma of quantum physics. An enigma that is actually solved. Humanity simply cannot comprehend the ramifications and finds greater comfort in the mechanistic blanket covering us.

    Mark

  • 84. cag  |  March 2, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Mark, so you admit that the bible is just a reflection of the musings of humans who had heard other creation stories and came up with their own. That’s all I need to know (as if I didn’t know that already) about the veracity of the bible – it’s all bullshit. If you want to base your life on bullshit, that’s your business. If you come on to a site that is intended for those who reject the bullshit and the lies of the bible, then we have a problem. Go take your superstitious nonsense somewhere else where the readers are gullible dupes.

    Still no evidence for the conveniently invisible god of yours – you know, the one who doesn’t exist. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Have him contact me – wouldn’t a loving god do something as simple as that, especially for someone who can create all of the universe except the earth in a day as claimed by the inspired words of god or as you want to claim, Jethro (and who “inspired” Jethro?).

    All the words you or any other apologist can write amount to nothing until there is undeniable evidence for your or any other god. Come back when you have evidence, not apologetic arguments.

  • 85. Anonymous  |  March 2, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Cag
    You seem upset and determined to follow your own personal beliefs. And that is OK, as it is your life.
    I came to you with deep respect and wrote with care, yet instead of a robust communication you label what I wrote in a very offensive term. On your side you have offered absolutely zero in defense of upward causation but have seen fit to simply deflect anything I wrote, yet without knowing most of it beforehand and not able to handle accurately the writings you are trashing.

    The wonderful thing is that your life is not yet over. And all that you now think and the stances you now incorporate into your belief system, have the ability to be changed. And one day, they will be. Truth always find us, eventually.

    It would be very wise to think through what you believe so that you can accurately explain it to another in a non combative way, as that engenders respect. Anyone can deflect a position with colorful metaphors but colorful metaphors do not add a shred of information to a position, nor do they increase learning for the reader. They are simply blurted as a fit of emotion.
    Perhaps you are frustrated and I can understand that, so I do not think bad of you at all. And appreciate your even taking the time to dig a little deeper.

    As for my answers, I never even began to tell you what I do know of God. I was just focusing on your concerns.

    All my best,
    mark

  • 86. cag  |  March 2, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Mark, in other words, you have no evidence for your imaginary friend. Sell it to the gullible.

    The evidence for Thor or Zeus or any of the other gods are all non existent. I do, however have a bridge for sale.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

Twitter

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 2,006,571 hits since March 2007

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 201 other followers