Category: Philosophy

THE FINAL (AND ENDLESS) FRONTIER

Call me a romantic if you must (I would like that) or a dreamer (I am) or crazy (again, there may be some basis…) or un-scriptural (I would challenge that one…) but it seems to me that the universe isn’t there just to look pretty for people on this little speck called earth…

I was reading through Isaiah recently, and as Bible readers will know, even if you’ve read through a passage of scripture many times over many years, there’s always something fresh waiting to pop out at you-so deep is the Word of God. This time the following verse jumped out at me:

Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:7 NKJV).

Testing my own senses against those of my far more level-headed son, I asked him what he thought could be the meaning of that phrase, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end”. His immediate answer was “Space”.

There’s only one way the increase of Christ’s government can never end, to my mind, no matter how you attempt to interpret it, and that’s in an ever-expanding universe. If you have a better explanation, let’s hear it, please. Here, on this limited planet, there is limited space, and I don’t expect God to allow bureaucracy to strangle us all as it has attempted to do in the US, and has succeeded in doing in much of Europe.

I’ve long thought that while the universe is so vast because our God is infinite and all-powerful, and wishes to display his power and nature, the universe is not just there to be looked at for all eternity from the tiny part of it that we know now. I’ve been convinced that our eternal dwelling will extend to the stars. And even though scientists describe the limits of our universe according to their theories, they cannot see them, but continue to see further and further seemingly without end. Limited or not, it’s big…unimaginably big! It’s so big that it would take a very long time indeed to explore and populate. Not only so, but an infinite God can supply an infinitely expanding universe, even if it does have boundaries now. And that, according to my hopeful, imaginative mind, is just a part of what God has in store for those who love him.

SOFTWARE AND RESURRECTION

I’m currently considering what the mind may consist of. Is it all neurons and synapses, as the materialists insist, or is it an immaterial spirit within us? Is it perhaps a combination of both?

I see the brain as a physical interface between our spirits and the material world we live in. It also operates and maintains our body, and communicates with people and things around us. We need both brain and spirit to be who and what we are in this material world, and the mind is involved in both.

Descartes was one of the first famous philosophers to consider such questions, and is frowned upon in our time for, well, believing in God, and for concluding that the mind and the physical body are two separate things. The mind cannot be measured he reasoned, therefore it is not physical.

Whatever the mind is exactly, we know from Scripture that God knows it, and knows it better than we do:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
    You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely (Psalm 139:1-4)

I know I’m not the first to make the computer-human analogy, but thinking about it, there really are a lot of uses for it in our reasoning. Our body is the hardware, and our mind and our spirit is the software. Just as we can copy and paste on our favorite devices, and just as we back up our information so that nothing is lost, so God must have a copy of our minds, and of exactly who we are. Of course, with limitless intelligence, He can keep that copy within His own mind: He doesn’t need any hardware. I’m speaking metaphorically here. And we know that “God is spirit” (John 4:24).

Our Creator surely also has a copy of our DNA. So when we die, He can take His back-up of our being-our own human nature and character, and upload it into a brand new fleshly version of our body, created from our own (but corrected) DNA code. Voila: resurrection! It’s a glorified version of taking a software design of, say, an aircraft, and turning it into the real thing.

Unwanted, corrupted codes, which God calls “sin” will be discarded; deleted (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). Then what remains will be that in us which has loved Him and His ways, and which has lived for Him, and also no doubt, the degree of our individuality which is uncorrupted.

In that case, how much of you, of me, will be left after deletion? If your “codes” are all corrupted, and your hard-drive intrinsically flawed, you are of no value in God’s universe, and you certainly cannot restore yourself. Scripture says that all humans are fatally flawed in their software and their DNA, which is why we die. We desperately need a re-boot in this life: we must be born again, spiritually speaking. And ultimately we need a complete re-build. The living Word of God is the antivirus that we all need. And in God we can have all our corrupted codes re-written. On top of that, the operating system upgrade will be positively out of this world! Glory to God!

 

ROCK ‘N SOUL

It’s amazing how many things evolutionists and creationists agree on, without realizing it. A well-known creationist* when debating evolutionists, loves to point out that they believe humans came from a rock. The Bible says something similar…

When the evolutionists protest that they believe no such thing, he explains. According to the evolutionary history of the universe, space, time and matter came from nothing, or virtually nothing, when it expanded into all the universe we see today. A part of that matter, a large lump of rock, became the earth. Rain appeared on it magically, and created a soup in which life with all its incredible intricacies popped into existence (none of this was ever observed). That life developed itself over enormous amounts of time, until, well, here we all are communicating, pro-creating, and writing blog-posts. Voila: life from a rock.

Not only does this very wry creationist have a point, but actually, so do the evolutionists, because Scripture says something similar. Early in the book of Genesis we read that God created man out of the dust of the ground:

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Here is one example of agreement between evolutionists and creationists: humans originate from the earth itself. The most obvious difference is that we believers acknowledge that intelligence is required to make information: DNA and life, even in the simplest of cells, is mind-bogglingly rich in information.

Another difference between the two accounts of man’s origins is that according to Scripture, we (mankind) have a spirit within us, also created by God. Believers (and everyone else) get an incalculably valuable bonus which most evolutionists don’t seem to want: an immaterial, immortal soul. We are more than rock plus information.

However, we believers, along with our unbelieving brothers and sisters-in-flesh-if-not-in-spirit, sometimes get inflated ideas of ourselves and of our value. We think that our Creator owes us all kinds of goodies and service. We think we can act our way and not His way without consequences. We’re like a painting which attempts to assert rights and privilege over the artist and the owner. We think that we are the important ones and the artist is irrelevant.  With this principle in mind, John the Baptist drew the attention of those he was preaching to where they had come from-that is, the ground:

“And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).

God made us from the dirt of the ground, adding information and life. So then let’s not insult our Creator by compromising with the evolutionists about our origins: a painting does not paint itself, and information does not come from nothing or from chaos. Let’s instead give God the honor and reverence He deserves, for creating us with a certain amount of dignity, with a spirit, with a little free-will and intelligence, and the promise of much more even than that:

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Thanks for reading.

*Kent Hovind

 

 

FREE WILL: REAL OR ILLUSORY?

Once I started questioning if reality is exactly what we perceive it to be, I began to discover some of the weird, wacky and wild philosophies at large in the human mind throughout history and in today’s world, including that of many professing Christians…

Some Buddhists believe that we aren’t really here: reality is just an illusion which we create in our own minds, and all we need to do is create the right kind of reality. Of course, the logical question here is “how can something which doesn’t exist think?” I’m not sure how they would answer that one, because I’m only just beginning to delve into the multitude of strange ideas. Not that I’m shopping: it’s a matter of interest only. Among these ideas are such related issues as determinism-secular and “religious”; destiny; fate; predestination; providence; Murphy’s Law*; Karma; luck and fortune, and preordination.

The “free will” which most of us like to think we have is subject to at least one of these forces, according to many millions of people in all parts of the world, and throughout history. From the Christian perspective, does God impose his will on everything we do and everything which happens, as many Christians believe? These people are convinced that if you pick up a box of Corn Flakes at the store, it’s because God decided and decreed it, or ordained it, long before you were born or before the world was made. Or does the Lord just step into some situations and guide some of our lifetime events?

From the secular perspective, is nature itself arranged in such a way that certain things, or even all things, are “fated” to happen? Is there a natural flow of things, as in such philosophies as Daoism and Stoicism, which we would do well to willingly yield to, rather than attempt to fight against?

How many Christians are aware that Martin Luther rejected the idea that we have free will, particularly when it comes to salvation? He wrote, among other things:

“This false idea of ‘free-will’ is a real threat to salvation, and a delusion fraught with the most perilous consequences.” (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will, p.106-107).

Luther wasn’t the first to make this claim, and later, John Calvin came along and  impacted the Christian world forever with his strong views on predestination. As Augustine had argued, Luther and then Calvin believed that salvation and faith come solely at the discretion of God’s will, long before we are born. If you are chosen, you will receive faith and so be saved. It has nothing to do with you wanting to seek God or loving Jesus Christ.

If you are not chosen to receive faith, you will not be saved. And in Calvin’s “double predestination”, God not only chooses who will go to heaven (and that, a small minority of the population) but also chooses who will go to hell-long before they are born. It doesn’t matter how much you pray and try to live for the Lord and how much you love Jesus: your designated destiny may be the fires of hell. For all Calvin knew, most of his congregants, who were all but forced to attend church, may have been of the damned. I can’t see how he could have been sure of his own salvation. Apparently you have to test yourself to see if you are doing the works that God requires in increasing measure. But surely, that’s works, not faith.

In my own life, my interest in the subject of free will began when I started to observe how many things happen in life which seem to be beyond natural events and coincidence. This mostly applies to “bad” things. I also met the acquaintance of a Calvinist who attempted to pull me over to his persuasion. I hadn’t experienced this thinking before, and I wanted to get a grip on it.

He’s a good man, but arbitrary predestination of the soul? No thanks: my God isn’t that cruel. Yes, God is God and we are not, and He can do what He wishes. But a God whose love is so deep as to send his only son to die at the hands of men, is not then going to be so pernicious as to block the vast majority from seeking or finding  salvation. If salvation comes from God alone, and not from our works, which I firmly believe, then the idea that God gives some salvation and sends others to hell even before they’ve had a chance to live is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Reality, fate, fortune and free will are all unfathomably deep topics. And how can we come to any conclusions at all if what we see is not real? No, I think a God who can create such an orderly and beautiful universe can also make as much reality as we need to be clearly seen to us. What we see is only a part of reality, yes, but what we see is real. My observation at this point in life and in my walk with God is two-fold:

1/ We do live in a real, physical universe in which our actions and our decisions and our thoughts have real, physical consequences. Having said that, I’m sure that our reality is greatly affected by many unseen forces: God’s occasional or even regular intervention; Satan’s opposition to the people of God and mankind in general; spiritual attack and deception; God’s testing of us; the Curse; God’s faithful angelic beings; the fallen nature of man at work in our world, and yes, luck and real, natural coincidence. God does not drive us like automatons.

The fallen nature of man greatly affects our lives. We are constrained by numerous obligations such as work, taxes, alarm clocks and human laws. For most of us, the day is already shaped for us before it starts. But this isn’t any cosmic denial of free will, it’s the natural consequence of living in a world and a society in which we want to survive, to adhere to a certain amount of moral law and propriety,  and to stay out of prison.

2/ God cares for all people. This is the testimony of scripture. No, I don’t believe that everyone will go to heaven, but I do believe that we all have the opportunity. Some may have their hearts hardened, as pharaoh ‘s was, because he was already wrapped up in his own pride and power and opposition to our God. God can foresee the future, and the hearts of all men who will live, and acts accordingly. I’m sure he knew well before Judas was born that he would betray Jesus, but I do not believe that God selected him to do it without first knowing what kind of a man Judas was. There’s no other conclusion to draw than that we all get the chance, when we read scriptures such as this one:

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32 KJV).

Thanks for reading. I welcome comments and suggestions, or information. I may write more on this subject at a later date. You could search for my series titled “Why Do We Suffer”, and my post on Murphy’s Law*

https://nickyfisher.com/2016/12/10/toast-murphys-law-and-the-bible-2nd-edition/

 

 

 

MUSE, BEUHLER, DILLING, KRUG

What happens when a society rejects its roots, and hundreds and thousands of years of standards, markers, principles, guidelines and wisdom, with no honest reference to what made that society great? Here’s a little word-picture, beginning with four names…

749px-Wrecking_ball (1)

MUSE, BEUHLER, DILLING, KRUG;

MUSE, BEWLER, DILLY, KRUG;

MUS, BOOLA POOLA, GOOP;

MUSH, PooLa, DRIBBLYGOOP;

MOOSE PUKA, GIBBLERLYKLOOP;

MOOSE PUK GILLERYPLOOP;

MOOSE POOK GILLERY POOP;

MOOSPook,GLIBbRYPOOP;

mOOzEPOokRILLIbByPOO;

MzpOOkRIbBLPOO;

ZmPKribBBbBILOO;

zpKIBBILEoO;

zpiBbILL;

IbbIL;

ILL.