Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Free Thought?

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It’s interesting, no, really crucial, to think of what it means to be human. Despite all the Hollywood glitz to the contrary man is the only creature on this planet with the ability to reason. The so-called “dumb animals” can react or respond, or follow hard-wired instincts, but as one anthropologist offered, after years of primate studies, the highest chimpanzee is intellectually closer to the cockroach than to humanity. Not to disparage our four-legged neighbors, but let’s consider this:

God has made us in His image and, though the perfect image has been deeply scarred, we do still have such marks as an attraction to goodness, desire to love and be loved, and the ability to reason and to create. The Bible tells us that “the world, the flesh, and the devil” are at odds with the God Whose image we bear, and so is intent on destroying that image. How do we see that? All around us are enticements to set aside any idea of love as being more than using others for personal thrills, or of goodness as more than self-preservation.  Our reasoning itself seems to be the greatest target, and the greatest threat to that three-fold attack on our humanity. Even the so-called “free thinkers,” more often than not, merely cluster around a popular myth, and if any hold a differing opinion, launch personal slanders against them and pride themselves on their “critical thinking.”

The truth is that, if God has indeed given us these divine “markers” in our lives we have a holy responsibility to use and develop them. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 10 September, 2008 at 10:10

Western Myth Number Five: That Jesus was "a great teacher."

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“Jesus was a great teacher.” The ultimate subject of all of Holy Scripture is Christ, and what He said and did doesn’t allow us that option. (We can debate whether Mohamed was a “great teacher” based on his teachings and his life. It’s not hard for most people to see that loving others on the same level as ourselves is a more godly approach than waging war on civilians in the name of one’s religion, but that seems to be changing.) C.S. Lewis said that Jesus does not give us the option of saying that He was a good moral teacher. A moral man would not make the claims that Christ made, of being in the Godhead before the days of Abraham, of having the power to forgive sins against God, or of having the power to die, and rise again, of His own will. Such claims would have to come from a liar, or a lunatic. A liar, though, would surely have changed his story when facing torture and death, and a lunatic could not have backed up his claims with such miracles (Remember, His miracles were so widely recognised by friend and foe alike that for the first several centuries afterward it wasn’t His divinity, but His humanity that was hard for people to comprehend!) “Which is easier,” He asked, “To say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?'” At His word, the paralytic rolled up his mat and went home. The only option left us is that He truly is the Lord of Creation, and of life. How does that affect your life?

Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 6 August, 2008 at 17:38

Western Mythology, Part Three: An Omniscient "Science"

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Oh, and here’s one: That the Bible is true in as far as it can be scientifically proven. As long as there has been “science,” the Bible has served as its guide. Sure, there will be instant reaction here, about Galileo and Copernicus, but the religious establishment was complaining, not about any contradiction with Scripture, but against Aristotle and Archimedes! Remember, this was a time when church scholars were debating things like whether women have souls, or, reportedly, how many angels can dance on a pin head! Church position depended on social rank, and classical Greek “science” was the latest fad in the universities. The discovery of ocean “paths” that sped the sailing ships to new worlds came from hearing a Psalms reading, and when Western man “discovered” that the world is, in fact, round, it was a reading from Isaiah 40 that started the ball rolling. On the other hand, if we start off reading the Bible with “scientific” limits to what we are willing to accept, then we’ve already lost before we’ve started, haven’t we? At that point the basic science of logic has been overlooked: John Wesley offered this explanation: The Bible is either the work of good men and angels, bad men and devils, or it is from God. If the first, then why would the good make such claims about miracles, about God becoming Man, or about the Resurrection? Clearly, the Bible is not the work of good men, or angels! Could it then be the work of bad men, or even of devils?

Why would the evil ones go to the trouble of creating such a work that condemns their own activities? Clearly, again, it does not come from an evil source. The only choice left to us is that it comes from God, and if God has gone to such lengths to communicate with us, then that message might just be important enough to command our full attention.

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 27 July, 2008 at 21:37

The Image

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There are several ways that God uses to communicate with people, and several ways that people use to keep from hearing His voice. Why is that? Maybe there’s something deep inside the human soul that wants to throw a tantrum over any suggestion that it might not actually be God after all. We’ve all known people like that, and maybe we could even say we’ve been people like that at some time.

The first thing created, says Genesis, was light. Jesus gives light to everyone born in this world. God wants us to be enlightened. We can’t enlighten ourselves, but He wants to enlighten our hearts with His own presence.

At the Creation, we understand that God made mankind, both genders, in the image of God. Through sin, that Image is damaged, but we still long to create, and to love, and we love to see things of beauty, and deep down we know things that are true when nothing we learn in school supports them. There is such a thing as goodness, and marriage is respectable, and stealing is bad form regardless. Not just because there are laws, but there are laws because.

People with that “thing” in their souls, that thing called “sin” that is all about thinking it’s in charge of it all, want to suppress that Image of a God beside themselves to the degree that the sin claims first place. It’s interesting that, no matter how far we are separated from the One who is, ultimately, our Father, we always carry a picture of Him in our hearts.

Since we are, to the extent of being made in Him image, His children, He loves us and delights to see His good points develop in us. Unlike an earthly dad, this Father has no bad points, so there’s none of that “Do as I say and not as I do” bit. But He loves us, and wants to see good in us for our own sakes, and to better communicate that likeness to the rest of us. When people talk about human dignity, or the sanctity of life, this is exactly the reason. We (ought to) respect one another far more than Da Vinci’s heirs respect the Mona Lisa, or the most fervent patriots their flag. Because of the image of God upon the soul of every human being we respect their life and dignity, and because of that image upon us we think, and live, in ways that allow that likeness to develop in us.

If this is new to you, then it is first of all a matter of a child-Father relationship with God. This is the reason that Jesus came, to take away our sins and restore that relationship in all that are willing to become His children by a spiritual birth and not just from being of the human species. Those who come into that relationship begin to realise that it is the one reason for their (our) existence, as everything else does not just “pale in comparison” as a poet might say of some human devotion, but everything else actually fits together makes sense as it never could before. We can enjoy relationships with others on a whole new level, and also with thought, science, and the Universe in general. Like the old bit of Christian liturgy, “All things come from Thee, O God, and from thine own have we given Thee!”

By the way, here’s a grabber for you!

Written by Robert Easter

Monday, 5 May, 2008 at 7:14

Three Options, One Choice

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When Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life:” He chose His words very carefully.

The: Not that He said a way, as if there are “many paths to God,” but neither did He say “my teachings are the way!

Way: He Himself is the road to God.

The truth: Again the exclusive. Any notion is true, relative to this one truth. Himself!

The life: What does this say about those “outside?”

He then emphasised, “No one comes (not goes) to the Father but by Me.”

And, notice, He started off that statement with a phrase that fit the conversation disturbingly well!

A popular song some years back said, “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.” If right were a matter of opinion, then nobody could really, be right, could they? What would “right” mean? A plurality of opinion votes? 51%? Full agreement?

If we were to “campaign” for truth, then surely Jesus would have some great qualities as a teacher, but a lot of things He said about His own person and purpose don’t let us stop there. While skeptics today doubt all the miracle stories and “I am” statements in the Gospels, we must remember that there were enough witnesses to those miracles, and to the Resurrection, that for the first several hundred years the Church didn’t have to argue for His divinity, but His humanity. There seems to have been no doubt about the Resurrection, even among the enemies of the Faith. If the priests or the sect leaders could have opposed that notion, surely with their thousands of followers it would not have taken a week to find the body, but nobody seems to have even tried. Their concern, from all accounts, was for “damage control” /after the fact!/

So what do we do with this claim? As somebody put it, either He’s a liar, a lunatic, or Lord of all. If His had been another messianic movement, then why was such love, and not power or authority His main thrust, even when His followers were ready to launch a revolt in His name? And surely, any other man would have confessed under the torture He endured, hoping at least for a quicker death. Besides that, a politico or scam artist would have been a bit more careful to tell people things they could understand, and not rock the boat so badly. He rocked everybody’s boat, from the far left to the far right in religion and politics!

A lunatic, then? What He had to say was too consistent, and the root of mental illness seems to be a heightened sense of pride or self-preservation. He taught about “laying down one’s life,” and demonstrated it! A “great teacher” would have spent more time on discourses, but He basically affirmed the moral law and its foundation in the Jewish Bible, and went so far as to say it applies to our hearts as well as our hands, and that He was come to be the ultimate holocaust: the sacrifice victim that would finally take our sins away. Radical, but definitely not crazy.

Logically, that only leaves us with Lordship. But what do we do with that? History gives us three options. We may, like many of the rulers of that day, oppose His message (can we divide the Person from His message, if the Person is true?) in a scramble to maintain control regardless of either truth or consequences. For such a person, I have only the deepest pity. Others somehow insist on dis-believing these things based on things they have read or heard. Those who make this choice I would beg, on bended knee, to check your sources. There is a lot of publishing that is based on a writer’s attempt to prove what they already choose to believe, but this is a matter much more important than merely picking opinions like sports teams, though some do enter into it that lightly.

The third option is simple belief. He has said it, and proven it, and history supports it. Belief though, is not a mere opinion, but a life: A life lodged within the Life!

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 13 April, 2008 at 8:40

Who Am I?

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Good movie- sure, Jackie Chan is great!

But, getting down to it, before we ask if something is true, we need to know if we’re able to find out. Is it knowable? Can we know? What is knowledge? What are we, to even ask that question?

If we follow that line of thinking from the popular assumption that we are all random collections of cells, which we assume are random collections, ultimately, of atomic particles, then lose three key pieces to finding out any answers. Life, order, and personality. In a random universe there is no way for any of them to develop, and for them to exist is a direct violation of the laws of science.

First, Life may be continued from one organism to its offspring, but it is not reproducible. Even the most orderly and controlled experiments fail, and the model for life’s origins is neither. The one experiment, decades old now, that was claimed to have produced “life in a test tube” was shown, in attempts to repeat it, that the first container had not been sufficiently sealed, and the “findings” turned out to be contamination! If you are alive, that life came from somewhere.

Order, whether living or inert, always tends toward disorder. A pile of mud has yet to collapse upward into a brick office building. In fact, it takes a lot of energy in baking the brick, producing the steel straps, making the mortar, and developing and using the skills to lay the bricks to keep those bricks from too soon collapsing back into a pile of mud! Or, can an old person naturally grow young? Some might point out that young people, especially Japanese, are growing taller than previous generations, but a closer look shows nutrition, and not some genetic mystery, as the cause. More energy going into a system, more energy inherent in the system; but the “energy” will dissipate, and those young
will also soon be old.

Physics tells us that everything comes from something. Energy cannot be created or destroyed within the limits of our material Universe, and all matter (anything that can have any weight or take up any space) is, in simple terms, compressed energy. Everything has a source, and the source is always greater. The ball might be rolling down hill, but how did it get up there? It made for a silly song a few years ago, but we really don’t look for three-pound birds laying five-pound eggs, do we? If our lives have a source, and that source is greater then it can’t have been a chimp, a frog, or a pond scum, can it? If we apply this to the Universe itself, the entire Universe had to have come from something, as
it cannot have created itself, and it has to have been designed and fashioned to possess such amazing order and complexity. It doesn’t quite look like we’re alone, does it?

The mind, and personality, raise the stakes considerably. At last look, “Modern Science” still does not know what the mind is, and assumes it to be located in the skull just for the sake of discussion. When we go from the mind to the intricately complex personality, all bets are off. The one explanation left on the table is, “In the beginning, God..!”

So, if we want to know who we are, the question is askable. The answer is knowable, because there is an orderly, created, reality which can be known. That we can know, and the Universe can be known, suggests that there is a Creator, an Artist, if you will, who wishes to be known in it.

All this is based on those first three words in the Bible. Wonder what else is there!

Written by Robert Easter

Thursday, 7 February, 2008 at 21:30

A Word about Worship

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Like we were looking at earlier, good theology comes from a heart of worship. Any old sinner can put some pieces together to form a statement of some kind, and with a knack for salesmanship can even make a “go” of it. To stick my neck out just a bit here, while I do want my readers to come away from this blog thinking that they learned something, or at least got a new angle from which to think about the things of God, most of all I really want folks to get the idea just as deep down as possible that “the Lord, He is God,” and to let that make a difference in the whole quality of their lives from the heart, up. Like in the Psalms, “When thou saidst, ‘Seek My face’ my heart said, ‘Thy face O Lord, will I seek,'” and this blog is your invitation to seek the Lord, and worship Him in the beauty of His holiness, along with me. So the bottom line, as you read what I offer here, is not if you think I’m interesting, or a good or sloppy writer, or even if I line up with this or that denomination’s statement: What matters is if something you read here brings your heart closer to God, and plants a notion to give Him the glory for some aspect of how great, and loving, and holy, and
compassionate, and wise, that He is. If this happens, then this blog is a success. If not, then it’s back to the prayer bench. I do pray this blog is a blessing to you!

Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 16 January, 2008 at 23:21