Monday, June 13, 2016

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How Can We Make Sense of An Immaterial Mind Creating the Material Universe?

YouTube Description: On April 18th, 2012 William Lane Craig and Klemens Kappel debated the topic "Does God Exist?" in Copenhagen, Denmark. After the debate there was a lengthy question and answer period with the audience. In this clip, the question arises: How does an unembodied mind cause the universe to exist?

NOTES:
(0:00) How does a bodiless mind cause the universe to exist?  The events that God causes in nature are similar to the events we cause in our bodies with our minds called ‘basic actions.’  We will with our minds to lift our arms, so we do. 
(1:26) J.P. Moreland: ‘Consciousness and the Existence of God.’  He’s a dualist—minds are spritual/mental substances that possess causal control of bodies. 
(1:41) To search for a physical connection between mind and body is to reject the notion of a basic action.
(2:04) Doing this means rejecting free will, means we cannot affect our bodies in any way, but our bodies can affect us.

How did God actually bring about the universe’s existence?  Craig said how God did this is like a basic action in humans.  We want to lift our arms, and then we do so.  Craig seems to suggest that there’s no in between, somehow no corporeal linkage between cause and effect, at least regarding matters of spirit and consciousness.  How can there be no actual linkage between cause and effect when, in our universe at least, cause and effect seem to be so inextricably bound together? 

If Craig is right, part of the answer regarding cause and effect may lie in an examination of Zeno’s Paradox.  The Paradox says that, in theory, any action you perform can be broken down into an infinite series of sub-actions.  But if true, you would never be able to finish the action.  In fact, you could never start it.  In fact, nothing would even exist.  Yet, here we are.  Not sure where I’m going with this.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Is It Possible to Evaluate the Resurrection Without Believing In God or Miracles?


Clip Description—“While Dr William Lane Craig was on his 2013 Australian speaking tour, he spoke at the Sydney University Evangelical Union on the resurrection of Jesus. After his talk, he answered a number of questions from the audience. In this clip, Dr Craig answers the question, ‘Is it possible to evaluate the resurrection without believing in God or miracles?’”

NOTES—
(0:00) It is possible to prove the resurrection w/o appealing to God or miracles?  Where does it lead you?
(0:43) Yes, but it’s difficult and unnecessary.  Why shouldn’t I appeal to theistic claims and evidence? 
(1:19) Approach the question of God’s existence w/agnosticism, even then, can’t say the resurrection is improbable.  What reason would the agnostic have?
(1:45) Evidence for resurrection could lead agnostic to God (evidence points to resurrection, a miracle; God’s existence, which agnostic must consider possible, makes miracles possible).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

10/17/12—Washington Post article

It is disturbing to how much misunderstanding there was on both sides of the respective opponents motivations.  This is simply an argument for, when you face an opponent, making as few assumptions as possible, and rarely, if ever, going beyond a narrow interpretation of facts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I was getting a haircut at the barbershop one day. The barber had finished cutting and now, to finish it off, she was applying some hair product, a shaping mousse, or something like that, and she was talking about how the product was meant to fill in spots where there was thinning hair.

"What?" I thought. "I have thinning hair? I don't have thinning hair! (Okay, maybe that one spot in the front, but otherwise,) I don't have thinning hair!"

While her lips kept moving, projecting verbal vomit about thinning hair, I sprang out of the barber chair, spun around, grabbed a samurai sword off the counter behind me (don't ask), and lopped her head off. Her body fell to the ground. I located her head, looked it right in the eyes, and said, like one of those Hollywood action heroes, "No tip for you!"

I gave my money to the cashier, then stormed out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Moby Pepsi, or The Great Grey Bottle Cap

I've just returned from an epic adventure--the struggle against the Great Grey Bottle Cap. It wasn't the Great White Whale, but I was as obsessed as Captain Ahab. I encountered a 1-liter bottle of Diet Pepsi with a bottle cap that just wouldn't come off, no matter what I did (Yes, I remembered 'lefty, loosey, righty, tighty). I did everything to this thing: I cut on it, I used tools on it, I even found myself, at one point, straddling the bottle, repeatedly stabbing a tack into the top of the cap, and yelling, "From hell's heart I stab at thee, for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee, thou damned bottle cap!" Anyway, I ended up melting the bottle cap off.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

REVOLUCION!

When my cat first took up residence in my apartment, he insisted on sleeping up at the head of the bed with me. Problem was I always slept on my side, with at least one elbow sticking out to the front of me and the cat also usually wanted to plant himself in front of me, pressing right against my elbow. The cat had no problem with that, but I sure did. I liked a little personal space. i gradually made more and more room for him, thinking I could find some kind of balance between us. 
Then, the Day of Revelation came. It came one day when I was standing at the foot of my bed. And I looked at my bed and saw the two pillows stacked on top of each other and pushed into one corner. I saw how oppressed I was! The first thing I said to myself was, "THAT'S MY DAMN BED!" La Revolucion had begun! After that, I made a point of letting the cat know who was boss! i always got into bed without warning, driving him out before he got buried. Why?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Barbra Streisand on the Jack Paar Show



This was her first TV appearance in 1961, three years before she would find fame on Broadway.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Time, Chance & Probability

If there was a place where time did not exist, wouldn't it also be true that chance would also not exist?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Infinite Order & Limited Freedom?

Here’s a thought . . . Perhaps free will can only exist  in a finite universe.  Perhaps order can only exist in an infinite reality that exists beyond the universe.  Can finite free will exist within infinite order?  Or, as one might put it, can finity and infinity co-exist?  Asking this question seems similar to asking whether a pre-determined path for all things can co-exist with free will.  Maybe free will can only exist within limits and order, or determinism, can only exist without them.  Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?  Don’t ask me to explain my thinking, as I don’t fully understand it myself.  This is merely an intuition, which I must explore further.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sci Fi Science : Videos : Science Channel

Think that the warp drive that allows the Enterprise to travel across the galaxy is impossible?  According to this video, maybe not.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar: Making the Movie : Videos : Discovery News

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“I See You” (Theme from Avatar) by Leona Lewis in HD Video by Trailer Park - MySpace Video

Avatar doesn't just look like a sci-fi movie, it looks like the covers of sci-fi novels and the worlds described therein.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avatar: A Review

I'll just start by saying, "What a mind-blowing movie!"  James Cameron, who also directed the first two Terminator movies, Aliens, The Abyss, True Lies, and Titanic has managed to, again, deliver eye-popping visuals in Avatar.  But these go far beyond what he has done in his previous films.  For this movie he waited 14 years, since Titanic, for technology to advance far enough to create what he saw in his mind.  What he saw were floating mountains, raw, untouched wilderness, skyscraper-high trees, and the camera looking down from dizzying heights, and in 3-D, too.  He used the 3-D to envelope the audience in the story, not to shock or scare them.  He also used special effects in place of make-up on the actors who played the aliens in the movie.  The technology used allowed Cameron to precisely map the body movements and facial expressions of each actor, so that each character seems far more real and natural than a character created by a computer-generated image would have previously. 
But, special effects isn't all there is to the movie.  Not by a long shot.  The story concerns a paraplegic former marine who represents a corporation that wants to exploit the planet Pandora for its mineral resources.  But the indigenous population, called the Na'Vi stands in its way and the company won't let it. The marine, named Jake, has his mind joined to an avatar, a being made the form of a Na'vi, so that he may gather intelligence on them in preparation for an attack on the Na'Vi village.  But, as he spends more time with the Na'Vi, in the body of a Na'Vi, and falling in love with a female Na'Vi assigned by her tribe to teach him their way, which gradually adopts, he begins to question his orders and starts to see himself as part of the Na'Vi people.
The heart of the movie is not the special effects, but the love story, and the subtle theme of relationship with the environment.
Word is this maybe the first of a trilogy.  I await the next with baited breath.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Tough Nut to Crack

Determinism
Belief that everything is caused: the doctrine or belief that everything, including every human act, is caused by something and that there is no real free will.

Determinism and free will. Or is it determinism versus free will? It seems that they are both completely opposed to each other and yet, both equally real. As nuts to crack go, this one makes the doctrine of the Trinity look easy.
The first suggests that our choices, therefore our fates, are predetermined by prior circumstances beyond our control. The second suggests, per common understanding, that some of our choices are within our control. They are mutually conflicting interpretations of reality.
I will start by boiling the argument down to its essentials. The essential question is not whether our choices are predetermined by circumstances, but whether events in general are determined by prior events. What is the relationship between cause-and-effect and randomness? Or between predetermined events and events happening by chance?
One answer to that question would be that there is no relationship between them. Either nothing happens by chance or everything that happens, happens completely at random. Another way of phrasing that answer is that there would be complete order, or utter chaos.
By chaos, I mean that no event, no physical entity would have any effect on any other event or entity, that the only law of nature is that there are no laws. The qualities of this state would be chance & action, by which I mean that all particles could move or do anything, with total unpredictability. This is self-evidently false. Chaos does not rule nature. If it did, that would mean that each particle in the universe has no interaction with any other particle. If two cars on a street were on a collision course with each other, they would pass through each other without affecting each other in the slightest. In fact, the two cars, the street, the city, and the planet they reside on would not exist, because none of the individual atomic and sub-atomic particles that they’re made of would be influenced by the properties of other particles, the things that bind particles together and allow larger objects to exist. In fact, if you take the notion of chaos to the absolute extreme, perhaps the universe itself could not exist, because there would be nothing that could cause it to exist.
By order, I mean that all events, all things would by predetermined by prior events. Here, the only meaningful law is that nothing in nature can do anything. The defining characteristics of this state are stillness and predictability. Particles cannot move or act on each other in any way, because they would disturb other particles, disturbing the overall order of nature. That makes every aspect of nature completely predictable, because you can always say that “nothing will happen.” The two cars on the street would not hit each other because they would not be moving, and since the particles they’re made of cannot act in any way, they could not bind themselves together in the first place. In fact, if no part of nature could do anything at all, it’s reasonable to say that the universe could not exist at all, for existence is an action. And the universe could not exist, for there might be nothing capable of causing existence.
The only conclusion to reach is that if these two notions are untrue, then nature must be governed through a more complex relationship between chance and predictability and between action and stillness.

As far as I know, everything moves. All the time. From an electron flying around the nucleus of an atom to a planet moving around a star to a galaxy speeding through the cosmos. Even if you are standing still, you’re standing on the surface of a planet that is moving, so you are moving, too.
But yet, as I recall, Einstein said that all motion, or lack thereof, is relative. So that would mean, that though you’re standing on the surface of a moving planet, you could still be motionless compared to the person standing beside you. All motion is dependent upon a point of view. But, if I’m not mistaken, Einstein also says that both points of view are equally valid. Now, this indicates that motion and non-motion, or action and stillness, have some sort of complex relationship. But how are both points of view equally valid?
Quantum physics is the physics of the very small, atoms and sub-atomic particles. One of its basic tenets is that these particles are, to a large degree, unpredictable in their behavior. Quantum theory is one of the best proven theories in all of science. But scientists have yet to be able to fully reconcile quantum theory with relativity, which describes the physics of the very large, from the size of a large molecule to the largest galaxies. It is also one of the best proven theories in all of science. Though I am very far from an expert, I believe relativity theory indicates that these large objects are, to a large degree, quite predictable in their behavior. So, on the one hand, large objects are predictable, but the small objects they’re made of are unpredictable. Though they seem mutually contradictory, both theories are equally true. Could they, as with action and stillness, both be true relative to each point of view? As with action and stillness, a complex relationship between predictability and chance is indicated, but how is still a mystery.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Is Complexity Actually Simplicity Itself?

Try to imagine infinity. Now, try to imagine infinity plus one. Now, as you may have guessed, infinity plus one equals infinity. That’s because the infinite encompasses all that there is and being able to add one to it would mean that it’s not all that is, but that it’s finite. And if you can’t add something to infinity, then you can’t subtract something from it.

Finite = limited
Infinite = limitless

Therefore, any object that is infinite would, by its very nature, be undivided and it’s contents would be unseparated. Any object that is at all complex must have at least two parts. An infinite object, because it is undivided from itself or anything else, has only one part. Therefore, it would be the simplest object in existence.
Nonetheless, I have hunch that complex objects can be infinite and that, in fact, infinite simplicity and infinite complexity are one and the same.

Now, let us see if I’m right.
From an Encarta article on Rube Goldberg:

“’The Inventions of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts’ was extremely popular for its depiction of outlandish and intricate mechanical devices that were designed to accomplish absurdly simple purposes.”

From an Encarta article on comics:

Goldberg’s work featured wildly complex and ingenious contraptions rigged to fulfill what were often trivial purposes, such as turning on a light. The phrase “a Rube Goldberg device” has become a part of the American lexicon, referring to anything that is unnecessarily intricate or complex.”

Is it possible that the entire universe, and whatever lies beyond it, is just a gigantic Rube Goldberg machine?

After all, according to mainstream science, for which naturalistic philosophy is a foundation, nature not only has a trivial purpose, it has no purpose at all.
Hamlet:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of dispriz'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Hamlet Act 3, scene 1, 55–87

Eternal Hope

What prevents any of us from hoping in God?
Earlier last month, I had a conversation with my neighbor, a man who’s been severely handicapped from birth. If you were to see his apartment, you’d see models of tanks on his bookshelves, videotapes about WWII, and, most notably, a Marine Corps-themed clock on one wall which plays the Marine Corps Hymn at the top of every hour, and a giant red Marine Corps flag on another wall. For most of his adult life, my friend has desperately desired to be a Marine. He has about three years, probably, before his age disqualifies him from eligibility for enlistment. He had pinned all his hopes on becoming a Marine and now he’s beginning to realize that that won’t happen for him.
I asked him what gave him hope now, what gave him the strength to go on? He spoke of a woman who worked at the gym where he worked out, who he was very much “head-over-heels” for. He said that the hope that they would be together one day gave him the strength he needed to go on. He said this even though recently the woman told him that she regarded him only as a friend and nothing more.
He lives a very limited existence. He spends most of his day either in his apartment, watching his antenna TV, or working out at the gym. He has two or three friends. He has family, though they’re not very close, except for his two younger brothers who, themselves, have served in the Marines.
So, if it becomes clear that this woman he is smitten with will never feel the same way about him, what life raft will he cling to next? He is always hopeful that he can find a cure for at least some aspect of his disease. But, what if he doesn’t? His disease is a progressive one, slowly eroding his ability to care for himself as the years and decades pass. He could lose his sight and his hearing. He could completely lose the use of his arms and legs, and the ability of even holding himself upright in his wheelchair. To top it off, he may die at no older than 65 years of age. That’s about another 30 or so years for him, which is a lot of time. But, these days 65 years is relatively young.
My point is this: my friend has already had his dream of becoming a Marine pass by. If the woman he loves rejects him and the cure he needs never comes, then where will he turn to for help?
Where there’s life, there’s hope, and where there’s no hope, there’s no life. For my friend to have to be periodically in search of a new source of hope to keep him alive is very shaky ground to stand on. This will be so, as long as these new sources of hope are transient ones. Is there a source of hope that will never fail? Not in this universe. In this universe, all things have a beginning and an end. Ultimately, everything and everyone fails.
If there is any other lasting source of hope, it must lie beyond space and time, for only in such a place could something exist that would never, ever fail. And something that is never-ending is also, by definition, never-failing. The Bible says that God is this something, or Someone, which exists beyond the universe.
Though what I’ve written above makes logical sense to me, I’ve never been truly willing to trust God with my life. I have had the feeling that God cannot or will not save me, that I’ve already been consigned to Hell. I did ask Jesus to save me, but I am worried that my life in the 20 years since then has not brought forth the fruit indicative of saving faith.
Why do I despair? Why can’t I hope in God? But, if I despair, then what keeps me hanging on desperately, white-knuckling my way through life? What keeps anyone hanging on?

Notes on “HOPE”:
Phone call, 10/05/08
When asked what gave her the strength to live through each day, Mom said, “That’s what we’re here to do.” To survive.
She added that she thought we were given “gifts and time” to use to our best ability.
I said that when I asked myself that question, the first answer that came to mind was, “Fear of death.” I continued, “I suppose that’s a kind of hope.” I’m choosing what I know over what I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me after I die. The dictionary says hope has to do with expectations. I choose life because I don’t know what to expect with death—Heaven or Hell?
But other people, I think, may put their hope in death, so to speak, expecting that it will be better than the lives they’re living.

10/06/08
If ‘hope’ can be defined as ‘desire accompanied by expectation,’ then ‘despair’ is best defined as, ‘dread accompanied by expectation.’
Dread
1. Feel extremely frightened: to feel extremely frightened or worried about something that may happen in the future. 2. Be reluctant: to be reluctant or frightened to do something because it is unpleasant, upsetting, or annoying.
n (plural dreads)
1. Terror: a feeling of great fear or terror, especially at the thought of experiencing or encountering something unpleasant. 2. Source of dread: something that is dreaded. 3. Awe: a feeling of awe and reverence (archaic).
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

10/10/08
My therapist suggested today that the beauty in the world can be a source of hope.


A Few Good Words to Know...
“Faith,” “Hope,” “Despair,” and “Dread”

The meanings of the word “faith”...
As a noun: 1. Belief without evidence. 2. Confidence; trust. 3. Belief in God, the Bible, etc. 4. A specific religion. 5. Anything given adherence or credence, e.g., a man’s political faith. 6. Allegiance; faithfulness.
Here’s another definition . . .
“Faith has both an active and a passive sense in the Bible. The former meaning relates to one’s loyalty to a person or fidelity to a promise; the latter, confidence in the word or assurance of another. Faith is not merely what a person believes, i.e., accurate doctrine or creed, but also and more importantly, that the object of his faith is valid.”
The meanings of the word “hope”...
As a verb: 1. to desire with expectation of fulfillment. 2. To wish, to want.
3. To have desire or expectation, e.g., “to hope for the best.”
As a noun: 1. Desire accompanied by expectation. 2. The reason or cause of such desire. 3. The thing hoped for. 4. A person or thing about which one can be hopeful.
The meanings of the word “despair”...
As a noun: 1. Feeling of hopelessness: a profound feeling that there is no hope. 2. Cause of hopelessness: somebody or something that makes somebody feel hopeless or exasperated, i.e., He was the despair of his soccer coach. vi (past de•spaired, past participle de•spaired, present participle de•spair•ing, 3rd person present singular de•spairs)
lose hope: to feel that there is no hope.
[13th century. Via Old French from Latin desperare , literally “to stop hoping,” from sperare “to hope,” from spes “hope.”]
And a related word: “dread”...
As a verb: 1. To feel extremely frightened or worried about something that may happen in the future. 2. To be reluctant or frightened to do something because it is unpleasant, upsetting, or annoying.
As a noun: 1. A feeling of great fear or terror, especially at the thought of experiencing or encountering something unpleasant. 2. A feeling of awe and reverence.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In January 1996, my parents and I were involved in a major car accident. My grandmother, my dad’s mom, had passed away a few days before and we were headed up to Washington to attend her funeral. We were in my parents’ minivan driving on I-84, a couple of hours east of Portland and two miles outside of Biggs Junction. It was a snowy, wintry day, but the weather had let up and the snow began to melt.
My Dad was behind the wheel. He began to pick up speed and started to pass the car in front of us. As he did, the back end jack-knifed to the left and hit the center median. The front end skidded to the right, and instead of turning into the direction of the skid, my Dad turned against it, causing the back end to spin back to the right and across the two-lane road. The back end bounced off of the guard rail.
Up to this point, I had been asleep in the back seat. I awoke after the car hit the rail. The car then skidded forward and turned so that it was facing oncoming traffic. I remember sitting in the back seat at that moment, as my Mom turned to me from the front passenger’s seat and said something like, “Kris, hang on!” A moment later, we were hit almost full on by a semi-tractor trailer truck.
I remember the sound of metal impacting on metal, sounding like a giant gong and the seeing the windshield turn white, probably when the airbags exploded from their plastic cocoons or from the front end of the semi filling almost all the width of windshield.
Our car was quickly pushed aside and the semi began to pass, but we were not out of danger yet. The truck was carrying a full load of steel, including two 11,000-pound steel ingots. Had one of those broken loose of its chains as the truck passed, we might’ve been crushed.
And behind that truck was another semi carrying a load of lumber. When the driver of the first truck put on his brakes, the second truck slammed into the back end of it, causing the second driver to apply his brakes. But, the second driver swerved, sending his load of lumber off the truck and over the median. Had that happened a few seconds earlier, myself, my parents, and the car might’ve sustained even more serious damage and injuries.
The driver of the first truck completely lost control of his vehicle, plowed right through the guard rail, taking out 150 feet of it, and rolled down an embankment toward a creek at the bottom. The driver saw the creek and remembered that he couldn’t swim, so he decided to jump out of the truck. Then, when he opened his door, he saw one of those 11,000-pound steel ingots break loose of its chains and roll off the truck and down the embankment. When he saw this, he thought something like, “Okay . . . maybe not,” and and shut the door. The truck stopped moving about halfway down the embankment.
Behind the second semi was a pickup truck and when the driver of the second semi put on his brakes, she had to put on hers. She had trouble controlling her vehicle as, apparently, she was at one point headed right toward our stopped car, but ended up missing us by several feet. Then she managed to pull over.
That was the end of the incident.
In the course of it, three of the four vehicles involved were totalled, including the minivan and the two semis (the semis’ engines were destroyed).
And of the eight people who were involved—me and my parents, two truckers in each semi and the woman in the pickup—beyond a few cuts and scratches, no one was injured.

Over the years, I have looked upon the positive outcome of this event as possibly being an honest-to-goodness miracle, though I certainly wouldn’t have bet my life on it. Now, I may have found a way to scientifically test that notion.
It is a mistaken notion that the defining aspect of miracles is that they violate the laws of physics. Though there are instances in the Bible where this seems to be so, such as God’s stopping of the sun from moving across the sky in the Book of Joshua, there are other instances where God works through natural processes to work his miracles, such as in the Book of Exodus, where God parts the Red Sea. He did not part it immediately, all in one fell swoop, as in The Ten Commandments. Instead, he parted it by blowing an east wind across the waters for a few hours overnight. He may have messed with the weather to cause the winds to blow as they did, but that wouldn’t seem to me to involve any suspension of the laws of physics.
It seems to me that miracles are defined primarily not by any breaking of the physical laws, but by the sheer unlikeliness of such events happening by chance.
In physics, there is a concept called the universal probability bound. It is a number determined by combining estimates of things like the number of atoms in universe, the number of possible calculations that can take place over the history of the universe, etc. This boundary puts a limit on the allowed improbability of an event that happens by chance. If I understand the concept correctly, it suggests that any event that happens that has a higher improbability of occurring by chance than the probability bound allows is not only improbable, but quite literally, impossible. Any event which exceeds this boundary must occur by design. Even if the chance occurrence of a particular event is not impossible, it is at least theoretically possible that the odds in favor of design could exceed the odds in favor of chance. Or it is possible that the odds in favor of chance may be so small that design, though also extremely unlikely, begins to seem more possible.
The parting of the Red Sea was a miracle because of the unlikeliness of the event itself and the unlikeliness of the timing of the event. Remember that it presented exactly the right solution to the problem of the Israelites being cornered by the Egyptian army and it came at exactly the time when the Israelites needed it most.
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Monday, April 10, 2006

04/10/2006--Can only an infinite God resurrect the dead in the same way that Jesus resurrected Lazarus?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Pre-existent Ideas

Doesn’t the notion that God has foreseen all that will transpire suggest that all ideas that occur to us, or to God, are already preexistent? Have all ideas that have ever been thought existed from eternity? Or was there a time when God wasn’t aware of them?
Oy, that makes my head hurt!

Friday, March 17, 2006

03/14/2006—
I want to know why I doubt. I want to know what I doubt. How do I thoroughly analyze my doubts and beliefs, and why I doubt and why I believe? Where do I start? Perhaps I should start with the Resurrection. Did it happen? If I say yes, then where’s my evidence? Did he appear to his apostles? Did he appear to the women? To the men on the road to Emmaus? Are the documents which record it reliable? Does it prove Jesus to be God? If so, what kind of God is he? Is that even a pertinent question? How about the other resurrections Jesus performed? If they’re true resurrections, doesn’t that make his own more likely?
But why do I doubt? Are the doubts emotional or intellectual? Or is my problem the unwillingness to believe, consciously or unconsciously? Or does the answer lie in some of all three?

Friday, March 10, 2006

03/10/2006—
Greg Koukl made some comments a while back on the evolution/creation matter. He thought it likely that pain and animal death did exist before the fall because he saw pain as being good, though we may not like it. He also thought God would’ve had to have created the natural deadly weapons of animals by the time the creation was finished, because after God called the finished creation good, and stopped creating.
My response is this, that God may have, as other creationists have suggested, preprogrammed into our genes during the creation the possible weapons and instincts to maintain nature’s balance after the fall, anticipating our fall. I mean, if these weapons and instincts hadn’t existed after the fall, then maybe God’s creation would’ve experienced wholesale chaos. Animals attacking other animals and their own environments—for no apparent reason except to cause pain and destruction. There’d be no balance in nature. So God gives us instincts and weapons to establish a balance—we attack animals for constructive reasons, to eat. We destroy trees to build houses and make paper.



When old-earthers ask young-earthers how there could’ve been 24-hr. days and morning and evenings before the sun, moon, and stars were created, the young-earther response is that God created a light—I was going to say he created light, but Genesis doesn’t say what’s it’s extent. It could’ve surrounded the earth. But now I’m remebering that God divided the darkness from the light. But there was a point when there was only the light. So what was it? Why was it there before the sun? He calls the light “day,” and the darkness “night.” It seems apparent that he’s referring to a literal 24-hr. day. And why mention morning and evening if the days weren’t literal? Those seem to be very concrete details. Why didn’t Moses just say “one day passed?” I don’t really know the answers.



If pain is a bad thing, then why did God design us with a nervous system that delivers painful sensations whenever we’re injured? See 02/20/2006.



Can God take a thing that is inherently bad and use it for good?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

03/04/2006—
Still reading The Historical Jesus and The Thomas Factor. Sometime I’ll do book reports on them for the blog. What I’m not reading is The Bible. Not often enough, that is. Something like a few minutes every week or two.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

02/12/2006—
Here’s an idea:
Many scientists will accept an infinite, natural “foundation” for the universe, whether that’s infinite space in which our finite universe exists, infinite sheets of energy that create universes whenever they bump together, or a “quantum foam” in which our universe is one of a infinite number of universes. But, what about information? Isn’t this even more basic? The above “foundations” need information to exist, for without information, there would be chaos. Information implies a designer who uses it to bring order.
Another weird, but related idea on information is about the word “idea.” Are ideas infinite in duration? Do they exist before we think of them? For instance, say one day I meet somebody, and after a few days I forget I ever met them. Does that then mean that never met them? Of course not. But a few days before I met them, I was not aware that I would ever meet them. Does that mean I didn’t? Or just that I’m not aware of that yet?
Let’s go back to “idea.” Actions arise first from ideas. If one day I built a table, and the previous day I hadn’t thought of it, does that mean the idea never existed prior to my thinking about it? (See, I told you this is weird.)
Need to think about this some more.


02/20/2006—
Greg Koukl of Stand To Reason made some comments a while back on the evolution/creation matter. He thought it likely that pain and animal death did exist before the fall because he saw pain as being good, though we may not like it. He also thought God would’ve had to have created the natural deadly weapons of animals by the time the creation was finished, because after God called the finished creation good, and stopped creating.
My response is this, that God may have, as other creationists have suggested, preprogrammed into our genes during the creation the possible weapons and instincts to maintain nature’s balance after the fall, anticipating our fall. I mean, if these weapons and instincts hadn’t existed after the fall, then maybe God’s creation would’ve experienced wholesale chaos. Animals attacking other animals and their own environments—for no apparent reason except to cause pain and destruction. There’d be no balance in nature. So God gives us instincts and weapons to establish a balance—we attack animals for constructive reasons, to eat. We attack trees to build houses.


02/21/2006—
When old-earthers ask young-earthers how there could’ve been 24-hr. days and morning and evenings before the sun, moon, and stars were created, the young-earther response is that God created a light—I was going to say he created light, but Genesis doesn’t say what’s it’s extent. It could’ve surrounded the earth. But now I’m remebering that God divided the darkness from the light. But there was a point when there was only the light. So what was it? Why was it there before the sun? He calls the light “day,” and the darkness “night.” It seems apparent that he’s referring to a literal 24-hr. day. And why mention morning and evening if the days weren’t literal? Those seem to be very concrete details. Why didn’t Moses just say “one day passed?” I don’t really know the answers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The essay below was written a few weeks back as a response to an opinion article that I read in the city's weekly alternative newspaper. An edited version was published was published there. The full essay is below.

I was interested to read Joshua Welch’s article on morality and religion and I’d like to make some comments on it.
If a guide to living is written (or, as the theologians put it, verbally-inspired) by the person who designed every single thing in universe and knows the location and speed of every single subatomic particle in the universe, then yes, I’d say he knows a heck of a lot more about living rightly than we do and that it may well be valid to live by that guide. If that Person is the infinitely perfect Christian God, than it is totally correct to do so.
I agree with him religious bigotry has fueled a great deal of hatred and violence throughout history. But, frankly, until this last century, atheism just hasn’t had its chance. In the 20th century, Josef Stalin was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions and Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia killed 2 million Cambodians, one-quarter of the population. And let’s not forget Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where at least two students, Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott, were murdered for believing in God. My point is not that atheism leads to more violence then religion, but that people are such that they can be directed to violence by any set of beliefs.
And an additional point is this: that atheism is also a religion. I quote from the Encarta ® World English Dictionary ©, one definition for a religion is, “Personal beliefs or values: a set of strongly-held beliefs, values, and attitudes that somebody lives by.” That sounds very much like Mr. Welch. His religion is a set of beliefs about reality and what is right.
He quotes a prominent atheist as saying that, “‘Our ethics must be firmly planted in the soil of scientific self-knowledge. They must be improvable and adaptable.’” According to the scientific method, nothing even as certain as the “fact” of the theory of relativity is ever completely, 100% certain. It can be proved correct in a hundred different tests, but if another theory proves explains the evidence even better, out it goes. And since ethics is supposed to be established in this, there is no firm footing for ethics.
But this defies logic. If ethics must be improved and adapted, what must they be improved and adapted from? Why, they have to be adapted and improved from a prior standard of ethics. And that standard was adapted and improved from a prior standard. And so on, and so forth back into the mists of time. If that were true, that would imply an infinite number of regressions into time or “improvements.” There has to be a time before which there were no other improvements.
Then, he makes an appeal to common sense. Whose common sense, his or mine? Not everyone shares the same common sense. He says morality should be about things like compassion and ending suffering. But why? Why are they good? What’s his standard of behavior? What if it’s different than mine? Why are certain behaviors wrong and others right?
Mr. Welch is correct in saying that our morality must be based on rationality, not emotionalism. But when morality is based on what one wants to do, rather than on an absolute standard established by the one who knows all and has created all, that seems rather seems foolish at best.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

12/03/2005—
If God knows everything about the future, then he should be able to predict his own actions. But doesn’t that very notion suggest that his actions are predetermined by someone else? If his actions aren’t preset, then wouldn’t he not know the future, thus nullifying his claim to be all-knowing? We know two things about God. That he does know all things about the future and that he is completely sovereign, that is, he’s not limited by any external force, only by his own nature, so his actions aren’t preset. How do we resolve a seeming contradiction? Well, one answer at least, is that God exists outside of time, in a place where past, present, and future have no meaning. An “eternal now,” as it’s called. It’s as if God could see the past, present and future happening all at once. Why wouldn’t this apply to his experience of his creation, as well?
Perhaps it’s because he wants to give us freedom to choose. But, if he had the same relationship to time as he does to eternity, wouldn’t he experience it also as that “eternal now?” Certainly, in my model, the Father and the Son have limited their perspectives on creation, but what is the Holy Spirit’s perspective? Maybe his p.o.v. is each and every moment, not being aware or a past or a future. This seems a very childlike perspective and were there no God, any being with perspective would be quite vulnerable. It seems to me that this would limit the Spirit to acting rather than thinking.


Is there such a thing as the present? I guess the answers is “yes,” because we experience it. Could it be an illusion, constructed by our minds to make sense of the world? The “future” is a “grammar tense referring to things to come: the tense or form of a verb used to refer to events that are going to happen or have not yet happened. Also called future tense.” The “past” means “expressing action that took place previously: used to describe or relating to the verb tense that is used for an action that took place previously . . . time before the present: the time before the present and the events that happened then.”[1] Isn’t the present simply the point at which past and future meet? And yet “future” is something that hasn’t happened and “past” that already has. So, it seems there is a gap, though I can’t see it. And it seems an unbridgeable one.

10:50pm—
How is it that the Son lived among us as 100% man and 100% God? Many have said this suggests he had two natures, one human, one divine. This is a puzzle that is quite the opposite of the one concerning the Trinity. The Trinity is described as one nature, three persons. Jesus can be described as two natures, one person. Jesus as the Son of God is difficult to imagine this way, though I don’t think it’s illogical. An easier way to think of him might be as The Perfect Man. The first image emphasizes his divisions. The second, his unity. What might make it even easier to imagine is to remember that we’re in a process of becoming more and more like him and will become as perfect as he is, if not in this life, then in the next. This suggests we’re experiencing a joining of God’s nature to our own.
12/02/2005—
God’s love requires a certain amount of free will to exist. But God’s power requires total control in order to impose his justice upon us.

If God stands at the end of time, looking back on the time that has passed, and knowing how it all works out, and if he stands at the root of time, having planned everything, but not knowing how everything will come out, then it seems we’re stuck with a conundrum. The answer must be where the past and future meet, the present. The present carries within it the uncertain potential of a future not worked our yet, and a past with a certainty of potential realized. But, how can a moment be certain and uncertain at the same time? I dunno, maybe the one is uncertain in one way, and the other certain in another way.
Is it possible that past, future, and possibly present, have a trinitarian structure, which would allow them exist simultaneously? The present cannot exist without the past and future, as if it’s literally a line between the two, and we perceive the line where the two join. Can the future exist without the past? Yes, it does exist. But does the past exist without the future? No. This would suggest a hierarchy: the present depends on the past and future, past depends on the future, and the future depends on nothing. But do the past, present, and future have any reality? The future seems to be all potential. The past seems to be all spent potential. And the present is where we spend it. This is where potential manifests itself into reality, where choices are actually made, and events actually occur. How is it that potential at all points in time and space can be stored and spent at the same time? How is it that with the Father standing at one end of time and the Son at the other, that they can observe all existence happening, yet not happening just yet? This is where our free will lies. The Son, on the one hand, stands at the root of time, having planned how things should go, but not knowing how. This gives us our freedom. But, the Father, who stands at the end of time, knows what did happen, which gives us limits on our freedom. Limits caused by the laws of physics, by human laws, various relationships, natural disasters, etc.

Why does God the Father have to know the future? If he didn’t, or chose not to know it, what would that mean? It would mean that God has withdrawn from his creation. Assuming that my assumption about the Father seeing the future by looking back on the past is true, if God gave up his knowledge of the future he’d be giving up his presence in the present, too. Because, either he exists infinitely or he doesn’t exist at all. He’d be giving up his control and foreknowledge over history. Were that so, the Son could take over for the Father and still design the future. But, it may possible, that Jesus would have to stick to his single role, creating and saving the world. That would lead the universe into eventual chaos. If the Son left, then the universe wouldn’t be here at all.
12/01/2005—
I can see how trinitarian structure of the Godhead makes it possible for God to have more than one point of view on time. But how can the past and the future exist at the same time if the future is not preset? Could it be that time is infinite, just as God is? Problem there is that time usually comes with change. Does the bible say God is changeless? But didn’t he change in the act of creating the universe.

God cannot have all points of view simultaneously for free will to be so. For him to have our points of view would be for him to be each and everyone of us. This seems to be patently false for I don’t perceive myself to be an omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient being.
11/30/2005—
I have a question: if God knows what is going to happen to everything in existence, does he know what will happen to him? Are his actions pre-determined? He is supposed to be completely sovereign. There are no limitations on him, except those dictated by his nature. But, if he’s infinite, then can he change? If he can change, then that may suggest that he can grow, which would suggest he has limits to grow beyond.
Well, there’s two possible answers to my question: yes, he does know what will happen to him, because he is always looking back on his existence, which is infinite, and also looking on whatever present moment he’s in. Another answer is no, because he cannot see what comes after whatever present moment he’s in.
11/29/2005—
What is Christmas all about?
This year, I seem to have a different feeling about Christmas. I want it to mean more. When I was growing up and into adulthood, I spent Christmas with my parents and there just wasn’t really much to it. We might go to church on Christmas Eve (usually without Dad), but more likely we’d go see Christmas lights. Then we’d come home and open presents. But I was always deeply dissatisfied and it was hard to hide it, as my parents know well. Christmas was about presents for me, but now I find myself more actively looking for some satisfaction in Christmas. I will be making an effort to go to a Christmas Eve service, even though I work that evening. In the month before Christmas, I will be buying Christmas movies (with Christian themes) and Christmas music (again, with Christian themes). I’ve purchased one of my favorite movies, It’s A Wonderful Life. And I’ve got my radio tuned to the station that plays Christmas music all the time (see my comments on that above). And I’ve put up a two-foot tall artificial tree in my apartment. But still, I feel like I’m still missing the mark.
I have, though, recently bought a book that might help turn me around. It’s Lee Strobel’s new book, The Case for Christmas. His premise is that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” as they say, and if he didn’t exist, or wasn’t God, or didn’t rise from the dead, then Christmas is meaningless. I’ve also started to read C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, and that may help, too. And all this thinking I’ve done recently.
I’ll report back later.
11/29/05—
In my opinion, time by definition, is always in motion, for anything in time must be in a process of change. Therefore, if God were a single being and if he were entirely in time only, he would be constantly changing. So, he couldn’t know the future, because that implies the future is set, not changeable. On the other hand, if there were three persons within the one God, they could assume three different points of view. The Father would know the future—no, scratch that. The Father would have to be outside of time in order to know the past and he wouldn’t need to know the future because he’s outside of it. The Son would originally have lived outside of time, then created it, held it together, and thereby began to experience time and change, and therefore a lack of knowledge of the future. His lack of foreknowledge implies his subservient role in relation to the Father, though he is equal in his nature and power.
So what does all this have to do with our free will? It’s clear that free will is possible. After all, the Son and the Spirit both have free wills apart from the Father. And it’s their infinite nature that provides them that freedom. We, on the other hand, prior to our salvation, were slaves to sin, and we would be utterly depraved were it not for God’s influence in the world. Our free will, then, is based entirely on God’s intervention into the world. That may be an argument against predestination. After all, he could’ve just granted free will to those he chose to be saved. Wait. If he chose them, would they have any choice? Before I tackle predestination, perhaps I ought to work on settling the issue of determinism. I think that it’s been established that God can know what we consider the future by looking back at it as the past. But does time have to have ended and passed by him completely in order for him to look at it all? It would seem so.

It’s the Godhead’s infinite nature that allows the Father to know all, yet with the Son acting freely (and the Holy Spirit, too). Yet, at the same time, that same infinite nature allows the Father to know what the Son will do (and the Holy Spirit, too.) Remember that an infinite line cannot be divided, which makes the second proposition true. Also, remember that there can be more that one infinite line existing simultaneously within one main line, even though, paradoxically, the main line cannot be split. This makes the first proposition true. In other words, this paradox of multiple infinities in one infinity makes possible how God can foreknow and not foreknow the future.
11/26/2005—
More thoughts on free will and predestination:
If God is infinite, he has existed into the infinite past and will exist into the infinite future. Does he exist in time? He may, but I don’t think he has to. Does he have to exist outside time in order to see the beginning from the end? No, but God and time would have to be co-eternal. Here, he’d see every moment as the present or the past, never the future.
But doesn’t setting a limit on what God can and cannot see turn God into a finite being, even though the limitation may not mean much. Here, perhaps, is another example of “trinitarian” structure.
If God is strictly in time and not outside or beyond it, then time must be infinite, with no beginning or end, because God has no beginning or end. From every specific moment in time, he would have perfect knowledge of the past and present, but does not know from that point in time what the future holds. He can base his intentions for the future on his knowledge of the present.
Maybe the three different perspectives are analogous, even a model, of the Trinity’s function in time. Maybe the Father is the one looks back to the past, thereby knowing the future beyond any given moment. Then the Son would be the one who looks forward to the future, who plans it and creates the world in which things will happen, but doesn’t have total control (or doesn’t exercise it) over the creation. He creates change, but is himself unchanged. Then, there’s the Spirit, possibly in the weakest position of all, the present, where all he can do is choose to change in response to stimuli from the past, basing his choice on guesswork about the future.
11/26/2005—
I’m listening to Christmas music on the radio right now. It’s kinda depressing. One, so much it is repetitive. They’re all singing the same songs. Two, so many of the songs have no substance. They often don’t deal with what Christmas is all about, Jesus’ birth. That’s just sad. I’m not sure whether there are just so many Christmas songs that aren’t really about Christmas, or if the singers just aren’t choosing to sing those kinds of songs.
How can my life right now better reflect the meaning of Christmas? I think it’s always been about presents for me and it should be about more than that. But, Christmas with my Mom and Dad—well, maybe it hasn’t been about presents, but I don’t think it has been about much else either. Nothing that sets it apart. In the last several years, the ‘tradition’ we’ve done more consistently than any other, besides opening presents late Christmas Eve, is driving around to see Christmas lights. I do enjoy that, with my parents’ selection of music playing in the car CD player, but where’s the meaning in it that isn’t in other holidays, or in other days, even?
I shall give all this some more thought.
Adieu.
11/26/05—
‘Notes on ‘Eternal Security, Cheap Grace, & Free Will’ (STR)’:
What do some Christians find offensive? The concept of ‘once saved always saved’—they feel it takes away a human’s freedom of choice.
Why does it take away choice? Because once we join God, we cannot choose to leave, no how badly we sin or backslide. We’re ‘puppets on a string.’
What is another issue that is often mentioned? Many feel that eternal security for backsliders cheapens God’s grace.
Where is our position in regards to free will? How free are we? Anyone who commits sin is a slave to it. It’s like a dying man who does not have the freedom to be well.
Whose choice is security based on? God’s.
What is salvation based on? It‘s based on God starting and completing the process of salvation. What part do we play? The reception of God’s invitation.
Neither God’s capacity for choice, nor ours is limited by eternal salvation. If he’s offended, he can forgive because he’s the one offended.
How badly must we sin or backslide to lose our salvation? First, refer to what Paul says about forgiveness and salvation in Romans.
How does it say we’re saved? Well, it says that we’re not saved by works. On the contrary, we’re damned by works, as no one can do one’s works perfectly.
How then are we saved? By God’s grace.
How much sin can God forgive? There’s only one that he can’t forgive, one that one is not likely to make if one is saved. All others he can forgive, even crimes committed by the likes Jeffrey Dahmer.
Can God choose not to forgive? No. He told us he would.
If Jeffrey Dahmer can be forgiven, then what does that say about us? That certainly our lesser sins can also be forgived?
How is it that we’re able to choose God? Because he enables us to.
What is our salvation based on? Not works, but on his faithfulness.
12/04/2005—
I’ve been giving some thought to the problem of evil. How can a perfect, all-powerful God create, or allow, evil suffering?
It’s his power that allows him to be perfect, for by being infinitely powerful, he is also all-knowing, and so would know himself perfectly; and being infinitely powerful, he could sustain indefinitely his own perfection. Prior to the Fall, God completely supported the entirety of creation. That is, his creation, as he designed it in it’s original perfection, had to be supported by a certain amount, maybe an endless amount, of energy. As part of the Curse, he withdrew some of his original presence.
How was it that Satan, then the demons, then Adam and Eve chose sin? What is the nature of good? If only God existed, would evil exist? If so, does this mean evil exists apart from God? Can one find an answer to the problem of evil that will give solace to someone in a time of suffering?
Like cold being the absence of heat, isn’t evil the absence of good? If good and evil both existed as forces, like two sides in a battle, then you could claim at the least that evil existed alongside God since before the beginning. But, if you see it as the absence of something, than it becomes easier to resolve with the notion of a perfect, all-powerful God. Before the beginning, God probably was all there was (perhaps there were other creations of his, too). I don’t know if he has infinite physical dimensions. Probably does. But one way or the other, there’s no room for anything else.
So, it makes sense to say that Satan didn’t acquire evil. Rather, he pushed out what was good. But, what gave him that very first impetus to dwell on himself for the briefest of additional seconds, rather than focus entirely on God? First, let’s remember that Lucifer and the other angels who followed him were limited creations, infinitely perfect, infinitely powerful beings. They didn’t know all, they couldn’t do all. That may have led some to making assumptions about themselves and God that were irrational, illogical, or unreasonable.
The same thing might have happened to Adam and Eve.
12/05/2005—
So, how is it that God can remove some of his presence from his creation when it is his presence that maintains it?

Could good just be defined as the absence of a substance called evil? If that were so, then God as conceived, all-knowing and all-powerful, could not exist. Why? God, in the Judeo-Christian sense, is defined as absolutely good. If evil exists as a real substance, then either he allowed it or he just couldn’t stop it, which would mean that he is a finite being just as we are, certainly one who doesn’t have all the answers and one who couldn’t absolutely be depended upon in all circumstances. What would be worse is that he created it. Worst of all, he may have created evil, making him not just a God who is cool and indifferent to us, but one who is cruel and barbarous beyond the worst tyrants humanity ever has or ever will produce.
But, what if evil were defined as the absence of a substance called good? If that were so, then God as conceived, all-knowing and all-powerful,would necessarily exist. Why? Because God, in the Judeo-Christian sense, is defined as absolutely good. As in “no hint of evil.” If good exists as a real substance, then he is it. What is better, is that his intentions toward us will always be good. Best of all, all goodness stems from him and never stops. But, if this is true, then doesn’t this undermine the notion of God’s existence? After all, evil things happen.




[1] Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
11/26/2005—
I’m listening to Christmas music on the radio right now. It’s kinda depressing. One, so much it is repetitive. They’re all singing the same songs. Two, so many of the songs have no substance. They often don’t deal with what Christmas is all about, Jesus’ birth. That’s just sad. I’m not sure whether there are just so many Christmas songs that aren’t really about Christmas, or if the singers just aren’t choosing to sing those kinds of songs.
How can my life right now better reflect the meaning of Christmas? I think it’s always been about presents for me and it should be about more than that. But, Christmas with my Mom and Dad—well, maybe it hasn’t been about presents, but I don’t think it has been about much else either. Nothing that sets it apart. In the last several years, the ‘tradition’ we’ve done more consistently than any other, besides opening presents late Christmas Eve, is driving around to see Christmas lights. I do enjoy that, with my parents’ selection of music playing in the car CD player, but where’s the meaning in it that isn’t in other holidays, or in other days, even?
I shall give all this some more thought.
Adieu.
11/26/2005—
More thoughts on free will and predestination:
If God is infinite, he has existed into the infinite past and will exist into the infinite future. Does he exist in time? He may, but I don’t think he has to. Does he have to exist outside time in order to see the beginning from the end? No, but God and time would have to be co-eternal. Here, he’d see every moment as the present or the past, never the future.
But doesn’t setting a limit on what God can and cannot see turn God into a finite being, even though the limitation may not mean much. Here, perhaps, is another example of “trinitarian” structure.
If God is strictly in time and not outside or beyond it, then time must be infinite, with no beginning or end, because God has no beginning or end. From every specific moment in time, he would have perfect knowledge of the past and present, but does not know from that point in time what the future holds. He can base his intentions for the future on his knowledge of the present.
Maybe the three different perspectives are analogous, even a model, of the Trinity’s function in time. Maybe the Father is the one looks back to the past, thereby knowing the future beyond any given moment. Then the Son would be the one who looks forward to the future, who plans it and creates the world in which things will happen, but doesn’t have total control (or doesn’t exercise it) over the creation. He creates change, but is himself unchanged. Then, there’s the Spirit, possibly in the weakest position of all, the present, where all he can do is choose to change in response to stimuli from the past, basing his choice on guesswork about the future.
11/29/05—
In my opinion, time by definition, is always in motion, for anything in time must be in a process of change. Therefore, if God were a single being and if he were entirely in time only, he would be constantly changing. So, he couldn’t know the future, because that implies the future is set, not changeable. On the other hand, if there were three persons within the one God, they could assume three different points of view. The Father would know the future—no, scratch that. The Father would have to be outside of time in order to know the past and he wouldn’t need to know the future because he’s outside of it. The Son would originally have lived outside of time, then created it, held it together, and thereby began to experience time and change, and therefore a lack of knowledge of the future. His lack of foreknowledge implies his subservient role in relation to the Father, though he is equal in his nature and power.
So what does all this have to do with our free will? It’s clear that free will is possible. After all, the Son and the Spirit both have free wills apart from the Father. And it’s their infinite nature that provides them that freedom. We, on the other hand, prior to our salvation, were slaves to sin, and we would be utterly depraved were it not for God’s influence in the world. Our free will, then, is based entirely on God’s intervention into the world. That may be an argument against predestination. After all, he could’ve just granted free will to those he chose to be saved. Wait. If he chose them, would they have any choice? Before I tackle predestination, perhaps I ought to work on settling the issue of determinism. I think that it’s been established that God can know what we consider the future by looking back at it as the past. But does time have to have ended and passed by him completely in order for him to look at it all? It would seem so.

It’s the Godhead’s infinite nature that allows the Father to know all, yet with the Son acting freely (and the Holy Spirit, too). Yet, at the same time, that same infinite nature allows the Father to know what the Son will do (and the Holy Spirit, too.) Remember that an infinite line cannot be divided, which makes the second proposition true. Also, remember that there can be more that one infinite line existing simultaneously within one main line, even though, paradoxically, the main line cannot be split. This makes the first proposition true. In other words, this paradox of multiple infinities in one infinity makes possible how God can foreknow and not foreknow the future.
11/29/2005—
What is Christmas all about?
This year, I seem to have a different feeling about Christmas. I want it to mean more. When I was growing up and into adulthood, I spent Christmas with my parents and there just wasn’t really much to it. We might go to church on Christmas Eve (usually without Dad), but more likely we’d go see Christmas lights. Then we’d come home and open presents. But I was always deeply dissatisfied and it was hard to hide it, as my parents know well. Christmas was about presents for me, but now I find myself more actively looking for some satisfaction in Christmas. I will be making an effort to go to a Christmas Eve service, even though I work that evening. In the month before Christmas, I will be buying Christmas movies (with Christian themes) and Christmas music (again, with Christian themes). I’ve purchased one of my favorite movies, It’s A Wonderful Life. And I’ve got my radio tuned to the station that plays Christmas music all the time (see my comments on that above). And I’ve put up a two-foot tall artificial tree in my apartment. But still, I feel like I’m still missing the mark.
I have, though, recently bought a book that might help turn me around. It’s Lee Strobel’s new book, The Case for Christmas. His premise is that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” as they say, and if he didn’t exist, or wasn’t God, or didn’t rise from the dead, then Christmas is meaningless. I’ve also started to read C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, and that may help, too. And all this thinking I’ve done recently.
I’ll report back later.
11/30/2005—
I have a question: if God knows what is going to happen to everything in existence, does he know what will happen to him? Are his actions pre-determined? He is supposed to be completely sovereign. There are no limitations on him, except those dictated by his nature. But, if he’s infinite, then can he change? If he can change, then that may suggest that he can grow, which would suggest he has limits to grow beyond.
Well, there’s two possible answers to my question: yes, he does know what will happen to him, because he is always looking back on his existence, which is infinite, and also looking on whatever present moment he’s in. Another answer is no, because he cannot see what comes after whatever present moment he’s in.
12/01/2005—
I can see how trinitarian structure of the Godhead makes it possible for God to have more than one point of view on time. But how can the past and the future exist at the same time if the future is not preset? Could it be that time is infinite, just as God is? Problem there is that time usually comes with change. Does the bible say God is changeless? But didn’t he change in the act of creating the universe.

God cannot have all points of view simultaneously for free will to be so. For him to have our points of view would be for him to be each and everyone of us. This seems to be patently false for I don’t perceive myself to be an omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient being.
12/02/2005—
God’s love requires a certain amount of free will to exist. But God’s power requires total control in order to impose his justice upon us.

If God stands at the end of time, looking back on the time that has passed, and knowing how it all works out, and if he stands at the root of time, having planned everything, but not knowing how everything will come out, then it seems we’re stuck with a conundrum. The answer must be where the past and future meet, the present. The present carries within it the uncertain potential of a future not worked our yet, and a past with a certainty of potential realized. But, how can a moment be certain and uncertain at the same time? I dunno, maybe the one is uncertain in one way, and the other certain in another way.
Is it possible that past, future, and possibly present, have a trinitarian structure, which would allow them exist simultaneously? The present cannot exist without the past and future, as if it’s literally a line between the two, and we perceive the line where the two join. Can the future exist without the past? Yes, it does exist. But does the past exist without the future? No. This would suggest a hierarchy: the present depends on the past and future, past depends on the future, and the future depends on nothing. But do the past, present, and future have any reality? The future seems to be all potential. The past seems to be all spent potential. And the present is where we spend it. This is where potential manifests itself into reality, where choices are actually made, and events actually occur. How is it that potential at all points in time and space can be stored and spent at the same time? How is it that with the Father standing at one end of time and the Son at the other, that they can observe all existence happening, yet not happening just yet? This is where our free will lies. The Son, on the one hand, stands at the root of time, having planned how things should go, but not knowing how. This gives us our freedom. But, the Father, who stands at the end of time, knows what did happen, which gives us limits on our freedom. Limits caused by the laws of physics, by human laws, various relationships, natural disasters, etc.

Why does God the Father have to know the future? If he didn’t, or chose not to know it, what would that mean? It would mean that God has withdrawn from his creation. Assuming that my assumption about the Father seeing the future by looking back on the past is true, if God gave up his knowledge of the future he’d be giving up his presence in the present, too. Because, either he exists infinitely or he doesn’t exist at all. He’d be giving up his control and foreknowledge over history. Were that so, the Son could take over for the Father and still design the future. But, it may possible, that Jesus would have to stick to his single role, creating and saving the world. That would lead the universe into eventual chaos. If the Son left, then the universe wouldn’t be here at all.
12/04/2005—
I’ve been giving some thought to the problem of evil. How can a perfect, all-powerful God create, or allow, evil suffering?
It’s his power that allows him to be perfect, for by being infinitely powerful, he is also all-knowing, and so would know himself perfectly; and being infinitely powerful, he could sustain indefinitely his own perfection. Prior to the Fall, God completely supported the entirety of creation. That is, his creation, as he designed it in it’s original perfection, had to be supported by a certain amount, maybe an endless amount, of energy. As part of the Curse, he withdrew some of his original presence.
How was it that Satan, then the demons, then Adam and Eve chose sin? What is the nature of good? If only God existed, would evil exist? If so, does this mean evil exists apart from God? Can one find an answer to the problem of evil that will give solace to someone in a time of suffering?
Like cold being the absence of heat, isn’t evil the absence of good? If good and evil both existed as forces, like two sides in a battle, then you could claim at the least that evil existed alongside God since before the beginning. But, if you see it as the absence of something, than it becomes easier to resolve with the notion of a perfect, all-powerful God. Before the beginning, God probably was all there was (perhaps there were other creations of his, too). I don’t know if he has infinite physical dimensions. Probably does. But one way or the other, there’s no room for anything else.
So, it makes sense to say that Satan didn’t acquire evil. Rather, he pushed out what was good. But, what gave him that very first impetus to dwell on himself for the briefest of additional seconds, rather than focus entirely on God? First, let’s remember that Lucifer and the other angels who followed him were limited creations, infinitely perfect, infinitely powerful beings. They didn’t know all, they couldn’t do all. That may have led some to making assumptions about themselves and God that were irrational, illogical, or unreasonable.
The same thing might have happened to Adam and Eve.
12/05/2005—
So, how is it that God can remove some of his presence from his creation when it is his presence that maintains it?

Could good just be defined as the absence of a substance called evil? If that were so, then God as conceived, all-knowing and all-powerful, could not exist. Why? God, in the Judeo-Christian sense, is defined as absolutely good. If evil exists as a real substance, then either he allowed it or he just couldn’t stop it, which would mean that he is a finite being just as we are, certainly one who doesn’t have all the answers and one who couldn’t absolutely be depended upon in all circumstances. What would be worse is that he created it. Worst of all, he may have created evil, making him not just a God who is cool and indifferent to us, but one who is cruel and barbarous beyond the worst tyrants humanity ever has or ever will produce.
But, what if evil were defined as the absence of a substance called good? If that were so, then God as conceived, all-knowing and all-powerful,would necessarily exist. Why? Because God, in the Judeo-Christian sense, is defined as absolutely good. As in “no hint of evil.” If good exists as a real substance, then he is it. What is better, is that his intentions toward us will always be good. Best of all, all goodness stems from him and never stops. But, if this is true, then doesn’t this undermine the notion of God’s existence? After all, evil things happen.




[1] Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
11/21/2005—
Some thoughts on free will and determinism: God exists eternally. He has existed in eternity past and eternity future. As he exists now, perhaps he cannot know the future, but as he exists in the future, he knows all that has happened in the past. As he is infinite, he cannot be divided. This is unlike ourselves who, since we are not aware of our simultaneous existence in the past, present, and future, seem to be divided between them. Since God is in the present, by definition, he can only know the present. Since he’s in the past, by definition, he has determined what he wants to happen, but he cannot know for sure what will happen. Since he’s in the future, by definition, he knows all things that have ever happened. Actually, there is no future for God, only a past and a present.
I’m not sure that I‘ve stated myself clearly, but what I tried to say is that he knows what will happen because he knows what has happened. Our free will, though, is maintained because for us, the future has not happened yet. And that, perhaps, is literally true. Perhaps, the future does and does not exist at the same time. I think that God would have to somehow exist in time to know the present and future.
It’s possible that my idea is not original. I know that others have suggested that God experiences time as an ‘eternal now.’ Not everyone agrees with that notion. I shall give it more thought.
10:05pm—Perhaps past, present, and future are not all the same for God. Maybe time has a ‘Trinitarian’ structure—they are all almost exactly the same—but not quite. Are they intrinsically different, or only different because God has differences within himself?
I’m not sure I know what I mean by that. Are the three perspectives merely apparent and not real? I suspect they are real, just as the three degrees of space, length, depth & width, are true. One point in space can be described from each of these three perspectives. So, since time and space are bound together as ‘space-time,’ both can be seen from each of their three perspectives. Maybe (I hesitate to write with certainty here) space and time are not analogies describing God’s attributes, but do infact model aspects of God. Maybe they are even aspects of God themselves.

Perhaps my idea is not the same as the ‘eternal now’ concept. The ‘eternal now’ concept says that God exists outside of time, and therefore sees the past, present, and future all at once. But he perhaps exists in time, possibly another dimension of it; maybe it’s an aspect of him, as I previously suggested. If so, then he possibly actually experiences the past, present, and future. He wouldn’t necessarily experience the passing of time. He would simply, being fully in each moment in time, be aware of what is happening at any given moment, plan for what may happen in the next moment, and remember what happened in the previous moment.

Well, what does this have to do with predestination and free will? Here’s my thinking: In one respect, since he can see into the past from the future, he knows how the future will go, and he can make sure it comes out the way he wants. But, in another respect, he can’t know how it will go, he can only set up existence to go as he would like, but he can’t actually know if it will go that way. In the middle, where the past and future meet, is where we stand. We stand in the present, and nowhere else. It seems possible that though he does intervene at certain points, he largely gives us and the universe he created the chance to behave as we please. So, then he would not be able to predict our behavior but he would still be able see our behavior from his perspective in the future.

12/05/2005—

So, how is it that God can remove some of his presence from his creation when it is his presence that maintains it?

Could good just be defined as the absence of a substance called evil? If that were so, then God as conceived, all-knowing and all-powerful, could not exist. Why? God, in the Judeo-Christian sense, is defined as absolutely good. If evil exists as a real substance, then either he allowed it or he just couldn’t stop it, which would mean that he is a finite being just as we are, certainly one who doesn’t have all the answers and one who couldn’t absolutely be depended upon in all circumstances. What would be worse is that he created it. Worst of all, he may have created evil, making him not just a God who is cool and indifferent to us, but one who is cruel and barbarous beyond the worst tyrants humanity ever has or ever will produce.
But, what if evil were defined as the absence of a substance called good? If that were so, then God as conceived, all-knowing and all-powerful,would necessarily exist. Why? Because God, in the Judeo-Christian sense, is defined as absolutely good. As in “no hint of evil.” If good exists as a real substance, then he is it. What is better, is that his intentions toward us will always be good. Best of all, all goodness stems from him and never stops. But, if this is true, then doesn’t this undermine the notion of God’s existence? After all, evil things happen.

The Tree of Life

I was contemplating, the day before yesterday, the early chapters of Genesis and something occurred to me. Genesis says that there was, in addition to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Tree of Life. God told Adam that he could eat of any tree in the Garden, presumably including the Tree of Life, but he could not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge, or he would die.
When Adam and Eve violated this rule, God immediately banished them from the Garden, placing a flaming, moving sword in front of its entrance. He did this, I think because he didn’t want them to have access to the Tree of Life, and immortality so long as they eat of it.
I think that this what God meant when he said Adam would die—he wouldn’t be able to eat of the tree, so there would a limit on the years of his life, instead of none at all. Now, did Adam understand all this? I’m not sure. I’ll have to do some thinking and bible reading and study and prayer.
12/01/2005—
I can see how trinitarian structure of the Godhead makes it possible for God to have more than one point of view on time. But how can the past and the future exist at the same time if the future is not preset? Could it be that time is infinite, just as God is? Problem there is that time usually comes with change. Does the bible say God is changeless? But didn’t he change in the act of creating the universe.

God cannot have all points of view simultaneously for free will to be so. For him to have our points of view would be for him to be each and everyone of us. This seems to be patently false for I don’t perceive myself to be an omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient being.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Musings on "It's A Wonderful Life"

"No man is a failure who has friends."--Clarence Oddbody, AS2 (Angel, Second Class)

Wow. What a thought. A man's success shouldn't be judged by how much money he earns, or how famous he is. It should be judged by how many friends he has. But doesn't the world think just the opposite?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

12/03/2005—
If God knows everything about the future, then he should be able to predict his own actions. But doesn’t that very notion suggest that his actions are predetermined by someone else? If his actions aren’t preset, then wouldn’t he not know the future, thus nullifying his claim to be all-knowing? We know two things about God. That he does know all things about the future and that he is completely sovereign, that is, he’s not limited by any external force, only by his own nature, so his actions aren’t preset. How do we resolve a seeming contradiction? Well, one answer at least, is that God exists outside of time, in a place where past, present, and future have no meaning. An “eternal now,” as it’s called. It’s as if God could see the past, present and future happening all at once. Why wouldn’t this apply to his experience of his creation, as well?
Perhaps it’s because he wants to give us freedom to choose. But, if he had the same relationship to time as he does to eternity, wouldn’t he experience it also as that “eternal now?” Certainly, in my model, the Father and the Son have limited their perspectives on creation, but what is the Holy Spirit’s perspective? Maybe his p.o.v. is is each and every moment, not being aware or a past or a future. This seems a very childlike perspective and were there no God, any being with perspective would be quite vulnerable. It seems to me that this would limit the Spirit to acting rather than thinking.

Is there such a thing as the present? I guess the answers is “yes,” because we experience it. Could it be an illusion, constructed by our minds to make sense of the world? The “future” is a “grammar tense referring to things to come: the tense or form of a verb used to refer to events that are going to happen or have not yet happened. Also called future tense.” The “past” means “expressing action that took place previously: used to describe or relating to the verb tense that is used for an action that took place previously . . . time before the present: the time before the present and the events that happened then.”[1] Isn’t the present simply the point at which past and future meet? And yet “future” is something that hasn’t happened and “past” that already has. So, it seems there is a gap, though I can’t see it. And it seems an unbridgeable one.


[1] Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 02, 2005

12/02/2005—
God’s love requires a certain amount of free will to exist. But God’s power requires total control in order to impose his justice upon us.

If God stands at the end of time, looking back on the time that has passed, and knowing how it all works out, and if he stands at the root of time, having planned everything, but not knowing how everything will come out, then it seems we’re stuck with a conundrum. The answer must be where the past and future meet, the present. The present carries within it the uncertain potential of a future not worked our yet, and a past with a certainty of potential realized. But, how can a moment be certain and uncertain at the same time? I dunno, maybe the one is uncertain in one way, and the other certain in another way.
Is it possible that past, future, and possibly present, have a trinitarian structure, which would allow them exist simultaneously? The present cannot exist without the past and future, as if it’s literally a line between the two, and we perceive the line where the two join. Can the future exist without the past? Yes, it does exist. But does the past exist without the future? No. This would suggest a hierarchy: the present depends on the past and future, past depends on the future, and the future depends on nothing. But do the past, present, and future have any reality? The future seems to be all potential. The past seems to be all spent potential. And the present is where we spend it. This is where potential manifests itself into reality, where choices are actually made, and events actually occur. How is it that potential at all points in time and space can be stored and spent at the same time? How is it that with the Father standing at one end of time and the Son at the other, that they can observe all existence happening, yet not happening just yet? This is where our free will lies. The Son, on the one hand, stands at the root of time, having planned how things should go, but not knowing how. This gives us our freedom. But, the Father, who stands at the end of time, knows what did happen, which gives us limits on our freedom. Limits caused by the laws of physics, by human laws, various relationships, natural disasters, etc.

Why does God the Father have to know the future? If he didn’t, or chose not to know it, what would that mean? It would mean that God has withdrawn from his creation. Assuming that my assumption about the Father seeing the future by looking back on the past is true, if God gave up his knowledge of the future he’d be giving up his presence in the present, too. Because, either he exists infinitely or he doesn’t exist at all. He’d be giving up his control and foreknowledge over history. Were that so, the Son could take over for the Father and still design the future. But, it may possible, that Jesus would have to stick to his single role, creating and saving the world. That would lead the universe into eventual chaos. If the Son left, then the universe wouldn’t be here at all.