November 30, 2014

In Their Own Words XXIII: Invisible Doesn't Mean Imaginary

I'll apologize up front for this post. It is going to be a longer denser read due to the concepts behind it. Some times the gem is buried in the details or sometimes it is hidden in plain sight and requires a little discernment to see it. The next two quotes sort of countermand one another and both come from scientists (sort of). One is from the intellectually self-limiting Isaac Asimov who was as an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He is best known for his science fiction novels such as the Foundation series and the Robot series that included the book titled I, Robot. The other quote is from the more logical and better studied Monsignor Georges Lemaître who was a Belgian Jesuit priest, astronomer and professor of physics at the French section of the Catholic University of Leuven. He was best known for first proposing the theory of the expansion of the universe (after the Big Bang), widely attributed incorrectly to Edwin Hubble. First up, Asimov.

Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel amongst themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think. ~ Isaac Asimov - The 'Threat' of Creationism. Science and Creationism (1984), p192. 

We sadly read a pretentious condescending statement from Asimov. He essentially says that because Christians look for absolute truths, knowledge and rigidity in their worldview, they are somehow intellectually inferior for doing so as compared to intellectuals or academics who pursue scientific uncertainties through theory and experimentation (as if the scientific method is the only valid way to ascertain truth). Scientific types that are unquestioningly accepting of unquantified data and relativistic knowledge are intellectually superior because they are continually willing to revise their theories in a postmodern way to match solely what they can physically observe. All this while simultaneously ignoring half of reality in the metaphysical. This of course, ironically, is a self-limiting of knowledge similar to that which Asimov has just accused bible believers of.

What is even more fascinating is that science has admitted that they have long sought the “Final Theory” or what is more commonly known as the “Theory of Everything”. This theory is in reference to a hypothetical presence of a single, all-encompassing, theoretical framework of physics that fully explains and links together all physical aspects of the universe. It is currently one of the greatest unsolved problems of physics. So if scientific and academic experts are content with constant change and relativistic knowledge, why are they looking for a complete or comprehensive answer to everything in the physical universe? It seems as if they are looking for closure and firmness in their answers. The same as Christians are accused of desiring and find in the Bible.

It is here we begin to see the truth in the condescension of Asimov’s comment. I don’t think it is an issue that science does not want rigidity, but rather it is an issue that they can’t find it. Asimov’s comment appears more like envy than patronizing rhetoric. Science existentially seeks the same things Christians do. They seek to answer the same types of questions through different methods: Why are we here? Why does the universe exist at all? Because they deny God, they are forced to explain reality without God which is an insurmountable task. They are trying to explain the creation without a Creator. They generally (not always) acknowledge the universe had a beginning so it has to have had a cause. If it had a cause it had it have had an Uncaused Cause (God) create it or we would end up with a logic error called Infinite Regress. Science therefore puts the cart before the horse by trying to kill the horse first and remove it from their equations. So enter our second quote.

As far as I see, such a theory [of the primeval atom] remains entirely outside any metaphysical or religious question. It leaves the materialist free to deny any transcendental Being. He may keep, for the bottom of space-time, the same attitude of mind he has been able to adopt for events occurring in non-singular places in space-time. For the believer, it removes any attempt to familiarity with God, as were Laplace's chiquenaude or Jeans' finger. It is consonant with the wording of Isaiah speaking of the 'Hidden God' hidden even in the beginning of the universe ... Science has not to surrender in face of the Universe and when Pascal tries to infer the existence of God from the supposed infinitude of Nature, we may think that he is looking in the wrong direction. ~ Monsignor Georges Lemaître-'The Primeval Atom Hypothesis and the Problem of Clusters of Galaxies' (1958) 

So I guess what we should ask at this point is: What is Monsignor Georges Lemaître saying here and how does it relate to Asimov? First, Monsignor Georges Lemaître is talking about the Primeval Atom here. We know it today as the singularity before the Big Bang Theory. By saying it is "outside any metaphysical or religious question.” He is implying that science or scientific fact should not be viewed in isolation (but nor should religion). Conversely, he is also being very careful not to say that they should always be mixed too. He is tiptoeing between to realms of knowledge without saying either is wrong. Interestingly, he implies that the atheist position might be wrong later when he mentions the God of biblical Isaiah.

When he mentions Isaiah's God we see what side Lemaître falls on (as a theist). It also clarifies why atheists can “stand outside any metaphysical or religious question." It is because God is Spirit at the point of creation (in Isaiah's reference) and is physically invisible to the nonbelievers. Because it is General Revelation and not Special Revelation at this point, He is also ambiguous or “unfamiliar” to the believer at the point of the creation. To me, it appears Lemaître is tying theology and naturalism together here, not pushing them apart. Because of God's spiritual nature at creation we can only see Him through His creative act(s) General Revelation or through documentation of said event (the Bible). Seeing God though His physical acts is ironically one of the main points and reasons for having written Genesis 1 and 2. We see a God of creation and action in these two chapters. It isn't until we get Special Revelation through the Bible and Jesus that we can physically see God Himself (John 14:9). Yet even then it requires faith to see God.

2 Corinthians 4:18 ~ “as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 

Lemaitre is correct. He is not using duplicity here to straddle both sides of the fence (which he's been accused of by non-theists) but just the opposite. Just because God is invisible to the eye does not make Him non-existent or imaginary, that would be a false inference based on the data presented. What Science fails to philosophically comprehend and firmly grasp is that our sense experience can deceive us which is exactly what 
René Descartes' told us hundreds of years ago.

God gave both the Bible/Special Revelation  and science / General Revelation for Christians to discern their world. This does not conflict with the principles outlined in the Bible. He gave General Revelation from which we glean scientific knowledge and we have Special Revelation from where we find a salvational God. In Lemaître's thinking, God cannot be reduced to the role of just a scientific hypothesis and science cannot be viewed in terms of absolutes because human knowledge based in its observer is finite limited. As I said, sense experience can fool us. In a way science amputated from God ceases to have moralistic purpose but to haphazardly mix them together sometimes forces man’s lack of understanding on God through science thereby diminishing God in the mix. Likewise, because of human flaw, philosophy and theology in religion when kept in isolation from scientific thought, can change into an outdated self-enclosed system or become a dangerous ideology.

Again, he is correct. We see the same in Fundamentalist Islam today with their backwards barbaric practices. A religion devoid of the God of the Bible, therefore enables an absence of morality and ethics (i.e.: beheadings, rapes, genital mutilation, suicide bombing, etc). We see the same in the use of technological weaponry by Islamic terrorists. Science devoid of a moral belief system like Christianity is a suicide bomb or Jihad waiting to happen.

Sadly, we see the same sort of fundamentalist ignorance in Asimov’s quote. It is an atheist fundamentalism. It is at this juncture that these two comments relate. It is here we see that Monsignor Georges Lemaître, having not self-limited his knowledge to just the scientific nor the theological sees the danger of either of them in isolation from one another but also sees the danger in the mindless mixing of both without a plan (like that of General and Special revelation in the Bible).

Asimov, having precluded the biblical or metaphysical makes a deadly assumption Lemaître doesn’t make. He assumes it is unintellectual to include the truths of Scripture (by implication religion in general) in his thought processes. Whether he realizes it or not, by doing this he has removed the absolute moral and ethical restrictions that keep science in check. In other words: Who tells the geneticist that cloning humans is wrong or even dangerous? Guns can be used to hunt for food but also used to kill men. Nuclear technology can be used to fuel factories and homes or it can be used to vaporize cities. Religion might start the wars or end them but it is clearly science that supplies the weapons to kill the people.

Science does not give us morality nor ethics, it gives us data and information. How data or information is interpreted and utilized is a matter of ethics and morality. Morality and ethics can only come from a just moral/ethical law giver or for Christian explanation purposes…from God. Considering Asimov’s quote is so condescending, it is clear he did not think through his logic and philosophy completely nor correctly. His thinking is dangerous. Lemaître on the other hand carefully does things like distinguish between creation and beginnings. The first having theological implications and the second having chronological and philosophical implications. He realized that the beginning(s) of the world and the creation itself could draw different inferences and deductions. Asimov just truncates creationism and tosses it out a window in his atheist fundamentalism. Asimov was comfortable substituting God with science at the moment of creation even though science through observation was impossible at that point because no one was here to observe it.

Lemaître as a Jesuit priest on the other hand knows there was no one to observe the Singularity or Big Bang so it could’ve only been the Creator that documented or attested to its inception. It is at that point Lemaître appeals intellectually, philosophically and biblically to the hidden God of the Prophet Isaiah. Lemaître is assuming that there needs to be two levels of understanding to comprehend Creation (theological-special / science-general). Asimov assumes there only needs to be one (science). In doing so, Asimov can never prove scientifically what he would set out to prove…because there was no observer to account for Creation when he eliminates God as a source of observation to ascertain the facts of Creation.

Everything else is just pure theory and speculation bereft of observational science. It then becomes an issue of history or “historical” science which basically interprets evidence from the past and statistically creates functional models. The only historical sources we have for the creation/inception of the physical universe therefore are ironically….religious texts most often viewed as myth. The very thing Asimov discredits in his quote. Any attempts to recreate the Big Bang in a particle accelerator brings us back to a place of speculation based on modern observational science. Depending on which side you ask, both might tell you the other side is just fabricating fanciful stories to account for something they themselves never saw firsthand. Essentially, both are then drawing conclusion based solely on faith in their sources of information. Which source of information would you trust: A divine source or a human source? Where is your faith being placed?

November 28, 2014

Nervous Breakdowns and Existential Crisis

The medical profession calls it an existential crisis but at the time it felt more like a cross between existential crisis, identity crisis and a speeding Mack Truck. It is that unsettling and disconcerting moment in a person’s life when the individual questions the very foundations of their life and who or what they have become. Some call it a midlife crisis. It is when the  individual poses the question to themselves of  whether or not their life has any meaning, purpose or value. The person comes to a dead standstill ( I did) and is forced to reassess life from the bottom up and their place in life. Whether the person wants to or not they are forced into an existential mode that makes them deal with their mortality and the meaning or purpose of their existence.

They say people that have existential crises usually have had either some dissatisfaction with their life or a major psychological trauma. I can’t say either were that true. What I did believe was before the breakdown occurred I had started believing that life had no purpose or external meaning. For all intents and purposes I had become a hedonistic nihilist. Because of this I had begun to feel alone and isolated from the world. When one has no perceived meaning for their life…they end up going in search of one. Blaise Pascal understood this and expounded on it in Pensées
"What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself" Blaise Pascal-Pensées
It is the age old question: What am I...and for what true purpose am I here. From a specifically biblical point of view it is better asked: Why was I created and for what purpose was I created for. If I was a nihilist I would believe I had no purpose but because I am Christian saved by grace, not only do I have a purpose, I was created specifically for that purpose. So as a dutiful Christian, I went in search of said purpose. So what was/is it?

Reality as I had understood it for 39 years had been shattered and I had to reexamine what I perceived as reality and truth. For all of 39 years I had essentially become a practicing Christian Atheist. I said and believed I was Christian without ever fully understanding or accepting what it was to be Christian. Intellectual accent is not Christianity nor is being a good person and doing good things. For all pragmatic and practical purposes I had acted and behaved as an atheist living life as if God did not exist. In hindsight I see that my worldview was devoid of God except as an affirmative claim I made to others when asked if I was a believer. In practice I was unrepentant and a condemned sinner. Saying and doing are two different things. When the Christian rubber meets the Christian road either the hot rod of the Christian life takes off down the line in pursuit of the will of God or it spins violently and catastrophically out of control into a flaming wreck. A true believer clings tenaciously to Christ and the Gospel, a false believer panders to their sin and their lives are an ever-shifting morass of spiritual fish-tailing and senseless burnouts. I had done a few fishtails and the Christian life had gotten off to a squirrelly start but with the aid of the Holy Spirit I have straighten out down the line.

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The psychologists and the counselors said I had Chronic Depression. It was clear to them I had had a quintessential midlife crisis that culminated in the proverbial nervous breakdown. Regardless of what exactly "it" had become chaotic. It was a matter of,"Goodbye normalcy, hello antidepressants and Xanax." The immediate devastation to my life took a few weeks to recover from. The deeper damage took months, perhaps years. To a greater extent I managed a full recovery but my outlook had changed from the selfish materialistic now to something beyond. I recognize now that it may or may not have been psychological in origin but what I am certain of about the origin of it was this…it came from and had been allowed by God. It was a divine wake-up call. The weight of the air around me during this time was heavy and oppressive. Even as a pagan I sensed the presence of something bearing down on me, holding me in place. The fog of it all and the confusion did not abate until I took the steps to get to church. The clarity I once had did not return until the pastor of that church strongly recommend that I start reading the Bible at Matthew 1:1 (thanks Randy). So I began to read and immersed myself in Scripture. At first I started reading to convince myself that it was all bull manure but as I read I never did find the contradictions I was told were in it. Instead I found it had continuity and cohesive depth from the first word to the last.

It took me about 4 or 5 months to complete the New Testament and comprehensively understand the flow and general principles of those books. Once I completed that New Testament I started the Old. It would then take me another year and a half to complete the Old Testament and have a general comprehension of it. From there I bought and read Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and Donald Guthrie’s New Testament Theology. This of course set me on a journey for a degree in Theology.

The nervous breakdown was the literal spiritual hinge-point that would send everything in my life careening towards the God of the Bible. All the while, as I became more versed in the Scriptures I realized that all the symptoms that led to the existential change (unrepentant sin), the physical mental effects and the outcome all had a parallel in some of the Old Testament narratives and to some extent, in the demoniacs of the New Testament. All the people that had been through similar things had either not been walking closely with God, were demon oppressed individuals or were blaspheming pagan unbelievers summoned towards God. It is through dramatic turns of events that they would all come to know God was God and that they are finite and dependent on Him in some manner.

For me I realized that I was closer to the end of my life than the beginning and the prospect of an impending death set me on a course to analyze what I was living for and what I truly believed. Being the deep thinker that I am I pursued avenues that I hadn’t normally pursued in my mechanical, empirical past. I ended up turning towards the metaphysical because it was apparent to me that the scientific and naturalistic explanations hit a wall when dealing with deep philosophical issues concerning existence and mortality.

So what about the existential crisis that is often provoked by a significant event in the person's life like a psychological trauma, broken marriage, separation, major loss, the death of a loved one, a life-threatening experience, psychoactive drug use, etc. None applied. It is because the Psyches and Counselors could find no trigger point or trigger incident that I began to formulate my own theory on what happened. Every path and every decision since that time has reaffirmed that my theory was correct. 

God had directly intervened in my life and that of my family.

It wasn’t so much an existential crisis as it was a spiritual reorientation. The breakdown was directly reminiscent of narratives like Nebuchadnezzar and the grass eating incident, Paul’s Damascus Road experience and Zechariah being struck mute. Because I had made my way of thinking my own God, God struck me. That strike had some unpleasant, profound and long-lasting implications.

What had happened to me had happened for all the same underlying issues in Nebuchadnezzar's, Paul’s and Zechariah’s life: Unrepentant sin, doubt and irreverence towards God.

Daniel 4:28-34 ~ “All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.”

Luke 1:20 ~ “And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time."

Acts 9:3-9 ~ “Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

I was being plucked from a life I had known and placed into a different one on a different heading with a different purpose just like the Apostle Paul. I do not believe God did this in my life in a way that closely paralleled biblical narratives because I am as important as these aforementioned me. He did it because God wanted the parallels to these men to be unmistakable to me. I believe now that He wanted it clear to me that it was Him that was causing these dramatic cataclysms in life and changing my destination. Furthermore, because He is sovereign, these things were happening for a specific and deliberate reason according to a plan.

I now understand that at their root all these events were to bring glory to God but at the time they were scary as Hell. They were scary because I didn’t trust God. To some extent I still don’t and that is a lack of faith. I believe these things will improve over time as my relationship with Christ improves. More so these events were to put me on a path to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They were also to make me more holy like Christ. In making me holy I could then have a sanctifying effect on those around me in my life. This path of course has been riddled with potholes and detours but most are because of my own sin and digressions. But as I have learned through biblical narrative and my own life, God’s purposes will not be thwarted. I chose to do what I chose. My choices led me astray and farther afield of God. It wasn’t until god directly intervened that life turned around.

As it turns out, it is a life that has been filled with much more uncertainty, discomfort and heartache. At the same time it has had more rewarding highs and more meaningful pauses or reflections. Like a man rising from the dead, my life has come back from a destination firmly embedded in death and heading towards premature extinction. My life has been resurrected from death to life. In so doing I have been given an opportunity to escape slavery to sin into a life of freedom in Jesus Christ.

Praise God for His steadfast love and faithfulness.

[Addendum: One of the interesting things that I learned about Chronic Depression or what appeared to be mimics of these conditions was that it affected quite a few theologians, preachers and men of Faith. Not the least of which were Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A.W. Pink, St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards to name a few. This condition seems so prevalent in preaching and ministry circles that Martyn Lloyd-Jones actually wrote a book on it: Spiritual Depression. Those that would say true Christians never get depressed, well, those people clearly haven't read the Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Job]

November 27, 2014

Give Thanks, His Love Endures Forever

Eric Enstrom
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
4 To him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.
5 Who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.
6 Who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.
7 Who made the great lights—His love endures forever.
8 The sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.
9 The moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
10 To him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever.
11 And brought Israel out from among them His love endures forever.
12 With a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.
13 To him who divided the Red Sea asunder His love endures forever.
14 And brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever.
15 But swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever.
16 To him who led his people through the wilderness; His love endures forever.
17 To him who struck down great kings, His love endures forever.
18 And killed mighty kings—His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites His love endures forever.
20 And Og king of Bashan—His love endures forever.
21 And gave their land as an inheritance, His love endures forever.
22 An inheritance to his servant Israel. His love endures forever.
23 He remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever.
24 And freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

Psalm 136 is a song/psalm of praise. It is praise to the Lord who performs great wonders. One of the main under girding themes is the Lord’s enduring loyal love.

This is a this is a Psalm of Thanksgiving. The function of a Thanksgiving or Todah Psalm, or Psalm of Declarative Praise is to praise God for something He has done for the Psalmist. It is written to offer thanksgiving in the form of worship. It is a kind of praise offered to God that arises out of personal or communal experience yet in the context of overall commitment to God. The experiential dimension of todah psalms is easily seen in the middle section of the psalm as the worshiper recounts or gives testimony of his experience. 

This is also a Salvation History psalm to recount in some way the story of God’s creation of the people of Israel. Most often, this includes an abbreviated version of the exodus story, concluding with praise to God for his deliverance, or calling the people to respond in praise and faithfulness to God’s grace. 

(v. 1-3) Intro: A call to thank God who is “Lord of Lords” because “His love endures forever (refrain after every statement of thanks).

(v. 4-9) Creation Hymn: Gives a summary of the Lord’s “wonders” and “His love endures forever (refrain after every wonder)”.

(v. 10-22) Redemption Hymn: An excursus of the Exodus and God’s redeeming actions in it “His love endures forever (refrain after every statement of God’s redemption.

To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

...And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:

...With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.

...To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:

...And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:

...But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.

...To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

(v. 23 & 24) Redemption Hymn (summary): These two verse are also redemption hymn but they are more of a “summary redemption hymn” or a last quick reminder that whenever Israel suffered, Israel’s history of redemption continued, Egypt, the wilderness, etc.

This Psalm is also referred to as a “antiphon” or a song that was intended to be sung “antiphonally” by two distinct groups in worship. One portion of the congregation would make one of the statements or phrases and the other part would respond with the refrain, "His love endures forever." I’m guessing it sounded something similar to a cappella refrain in Bohemian Rhapsody (sorry, couldn’t think of a better example).

Here is a modern orchestral interpretation of Psalm 136.

Ross, Allen , John Walvoord. "Psalm 136." Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Bible Knowledge). Acambaro: Victor, 1985. 889. Print.

November 25, 2014

In Their Own Words XXII: There's A Mind Behind Our Mind

[An ongoing series about the profoundly ironic theological/philosophical quotes scientists or those in academia make.]

“There is a wide measure of agreement which, on the physical side of science approaches almost unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail mind as the creator and governor of the realm of matter—not of course our individual minds, but the mind in which the atoms out of which our individual minds have grown, exist as thoughts.” ~Sir James Jeans

Sir James Hopwood Jeans was a knighted English mathematician, physicist and astronomer. He was on of the main contributors to the development of an understanding of how stars evolve. He published the above information in his 1931 book The Mysterious Universe. He is also known for his contributions to physics, quantum theory and radiation.

In 1928 Jeans was the first to theorize a steady state cosmology based on a the idea of continuous creation of matter in the universe. This theory was over-ridden when the 1965 discovery of cosmic microwave background was widely interpreted as the tell-tale signature of the Big Bang. Due to Jean’s reputation as a scientist and an author, he became rather popular and well-known. His books made him an acknowledged expositor and author of the revolutionary scientific discoveries of the early 20th century including Relativity and Quantum theory. He was knighted in 1928 due mostly to his formidable reputation among his peers and due to his notoriety as an author about astronomy.

When it comes to his religious views, Jeans was documented as being an agnostic. He did not believe in God but nor did he deny one.

So other than a rather unremarkable quote by a non-believing man, what we see is a relatively non-descript scientific worldly life. From a Christian point of view his studies and life’s work may have some bearing on our everyday lives but this seems unlikely. So from a Christian point of view Jeans really becomes of interest to us because of his quote from a book that combined the awe of the created universe, science and philosophical reasoning.

In Jean’s forward to his book The Mysterious Universe he said that, "…there is a widespread conviction that the new teachings of astronomy and physical science are destined to produce an immense change in our outlook on the universe as a whole, and on our views as to the significance of human life. The question at issue is ultimately one for philosophic discussion, but before the philosophers have a right to speak, science ought first to be asked to tell all she can as to ascertained facts and provisional hypotheses.”

Jeans understood that the things being learned in astronomy, quantum physics and other advances were totally reshaping the scientific horizon of the modern age. I suspect though that he and his peers didn’t fully see the direction or impact of scientific discoveries of the early 20th century and where they might lead. His quote at the beginning of this post and his books hinted at it but never fully elucidated it. It seems the deeper science dug over the last century the more things became complex. I suspect many in the scientific community thought the deeper people dug the more simplistic the data and facts would become.

Conversely, when science hit baseline scientific strata, they found unfathomable complexity and mystery….hence the adjective in the title of Jeans’ book: Mysterious. He began to recognize that quantum theory and the atomic age had opened a Pandora ’s Box of philosophical and metaphysical implications. Science had hit a dead end and was at a loss to explain the mystery of the Quantum world and to a greater extent it still is. In the 50's science would enter the age of genetics and DNA further exacerbating science's conundrum. Science had reached the threshold of philosophy and it is at that point it began to flirt with metaphysics. 

Scientists are now in an ever deepening spiral of complex and ludicrous theories to reflect a deepening reality in science. To avoid conceding the fact Creation was indeed created (by God), science has now opted to pursue non-scientific postulations and theories to explain the existence of humanity on earth. They have put forward theories such as Panspermia. Panspermia is from the Greek πᾶν/pan meaning "all", and σπέρμα/sperma meaning "seed". It posits that the life on Earth was seeded here because life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids, comets, spacecraft, etc. In an effort to avoid admitting God exists, some scientists would rather believe in aliens! Science is now making leaps of faith to believe in aliens from other planets to justify life on Earth. Mind you that they have no proof or evidence of this but they believe it in a vacuum of no evidence. You need to ask yourself. Which is more plausible…a Creator or alien farmers? Which do scientist have more proof for?

As I said, science marched right up to the threshold of philosophy and became perplexed not knowledgeable. So instead of acknowledging God, they chase fruitless and fanciful theories and myths...just as they claim Christians do.

Jeans seems to take the middle road in his original quote. He philosophically acknowledges a “unanimity” or what we would more commonly understood as harmony in the universe. The universe is balanced. It is organized like a fine-tuned orchestra but Jeans stops just short of saying so. He then goes even farther down this philosophical path and injects “knowledge” or intelligence into this harmony. Not just any intelligence but a cognizance or consciousness. He specifically says there appears to be thought in the universe. What he is saying or implying is that the universe is not an accident but it appears there is a mind in the universe (Pantheism/Panentheism). Conversely, a Christian believes that the evidences in the universe point to a mind that created the universe or can “intrude” upon if from elsewhere (theism). Jeans has firmly planted his feet in the metaphysical at this point in his quote but planted it on the wrong side. Furthermore, he has chosen a pantheistic religious view.

Jeans then crosses wholly over the science and philosophical threshold into metaphysics at the end of his quote. He says in a pantheistic way that mankind should acknowledge the consciousness planted Universe and should recognize this mind or consciousness as, “…the creator and governor of the realm of matter”. 

In essence he is saying there is a force or signature in the Creation that is more than the sum of its parts. There seems to be an instilled mind in the Creation. He is acknowledging some form of design and intelligence. He literally says that there is a rooted intelligence in the very atoms that create our intelligence in our own brains. We exist because something existed before us. In a roundabout manner Jeans states that there is a mind that created our minds and it is “at work” directly in the forces and matter around us. He just looks into the wrong philosophical worldview to try and ufind it. God is not in and of the Creation but the Creator and sustainer distinct from it (Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-20). This is where the distinction needs to be made between Jeans' pantheism and Christian theism. 

In a way (ironically), I believe that scientists who dreamt up Panspermia might actually be on to something with their idea of seeding Earth. It is probable that life on earth is due to seeding by an Alien life form. The Being is indeed alien to humanity in that He is not familiar to us or like other things we have known.

Isaiah 40:13–14 ~ “Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?

This Alien is quite different from us in that He is holy and we are not. He is not only from beyond the galaxy, He is from beyond the universe. He is outside of Creation and can enter as He so chooses like He has done in the past. He is ontologically distinct from the universe. He is wholly other. He holds things together. The very image of what He is, is indeed knitted in our DNA and minds and without Him in our lives...we are incomplete.

Genesis 1:27 ~ “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Jeremiah 1:5 ~ “"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

Like an artist leaves hints or signatures of his mind in the art he creates, so too God leaves traces of His glory in creation. We have been told that these signatures or signs of intelligence can even be seen by non-believers. In Sir James Hopwood Jeans we see another perfect example of General Revelation or the ability to know about God or spiritual matters through natural means, such as observation of nature and through philosophical means.

Romans 1:19-20 ~ “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Therefore, the only difference between a believer and non-believer is Special Revelation which is revelation of Jesus Christ both from the Holy Spirit and Scripture. This is then followed by acknowledgment and acceptance of this fact. That which was once alien to us has become like us. In so doing He revealed Himself and the intelligence behind the universe. That intelligence was revealed in the form of the perfect God-man Jesus Christ who came on behalf of mankind to bridge the gap between our sinful minds and God’s holy mind. God’s Mind…from which the Creation (galaxies, stars) that James Jean studied was spoken into existence. God is therefore the origin of Jeans’ “unanimity”, “thought”, “creator”, “governor” and “mind”. He just avoided saying so as an agnostic.

November 23, 2014

Yoked Together With An Anchor

So the question arises about the joining of Christians and non-Christians in a business when complications arise. What exactly are Christians to do? Should they have even agreed to do business together?

When it comes to spiritual matters it is generally not a good idea to be tightly tied to unbelievers. 

Business agreements are more or less forms of contracts or covenants. There are different types of contracts based on where you are in the business and what function you serve. Because of this there is leeway in some of the contracts and the differences should be understood. Some business contracts / agreements carry more weight or spiritual gravity. To miss the importance of some of the nuances in these relationships can be spiritually deadly. Because some of the aspects of business relationships are very akin to marriages, this dynamic should be noted first.

The concept is pretty simple.

If a married couple contains one non-believer and the other becomes Christian or is a Christian, the believer needs to stay in the marriage in hopes that there will be a sanctifying effect on the non-believing spouse. This principle then needs to carry over to a business model.

Firstly, the most spiritually profound relationship most akin to a marriage is the business partnership. Partners are people on equal footing. Partners are formative of the direction of the company as a whole. Partnerships pretty much should require only dealing with other Christians. In truth a Christian is living by a creed or code that requires they behave and think in a certain manner that may put them in opposition to a non-believing partner. A non-believer is not always going to behave in a biblical standard. They are capable of behaving in accordance to a biblical measure but not always doing so in a cognizant matter. Partnerships for all purposes are covenants acutely similar to marriages. The Bible is clear here.

2 Corinthians 6:14 ~ Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Amos 3:3 ~ “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?

The Bible is telling us that we are not to be bound together with unbelievers if only to avoid the implications involved with a double allegiance. Christians are bound to a biblical God-fearing standard and the unbeliever is bound to the rules of the flesh and the world. Because partnership requires a solid agreement that has spiritual implications, it is deemed foolhardy to enter into partnership with a person that does not hold themselves to God’s principles. You have two different value systems that, at their root, can never truly meet in the middle if the non-believer disagrees with a biblical requirement. It usually always ends up being the believer that bends inadvertently to avoid conflict and to remain Christ-like. At that point a covenant changes allegiance and the Christian’s allegiance turns towards the world. The believer then makes something else his motivating factor…something else becomes their God. It becomes their idol.

Exodus 23:32-33 ~ You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

If a person is in a spiritually unequal partnership, it should be treated like an unevenly yoked marriage since a marriage is a contract/covenant. We need only remove the marriage implications from the following passage to understand how to deal with a business partnership.

1 Corinthians 7:12-16 ~ To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

There is always the potential when God is involved for an unbeliever to come to the faith and God will often use the believer as the conduit to do so. If the unbeliever wishes to leave, let them do so. If there is the potential for a loss if a business partnership is broken the narrative of King Amaziah tells us that a believer who believes in a God knows that God can compensate for the loss if He wills it.

2 Chronicles 25:6-9 ~ He hired also 100,000 mighty men of valor from Israel for 100 talents of silver. But a man of God came to him and said, “O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel, with all these Ephraimites. But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down.” And Amaziah said to the man of God, “But what shall we do about the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel?” The man of God answered, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this.”

After this example things start to become more muddled and a bit confused when we carry them over to a business relationship. There are other Scripture scenarios that might be used to draw out principles in certain situations.

We then have the employees who are usually deemed subordinate. We need to realize that employees are people that the owners or operators bring in their circle to help do business. There is still a need for allegiance to a value system by the employee and that system must be Christian in a Christian company. The employee must at least behave in a Christian manner when hired by a Christian. It is part of the covenant or employee contract that an employee must acquiesce to as a condition for hiring and employment. Please note I did not say the employee had to become Christian…but they are most certainly expected to live up to basic moral and ethical standards put forth by Christian ownership.

In other words, employees don’t have to be a Christian to work for a Christian owner but they must not degrade the conditions on site and influence people away from God or cause apostasy. Employees rarely affect the direction of the company through their decisions but if employees do cause too much dissension it can invariably be destructive. Its called a spirit of discontent. The bottom-line is that employees can affect morale and culture and that is exactly why they need to adhere to a Christian owner's standards. If not, they have the ability through poor unbiblical behavior to swing people away from God and the righteous standards in Scripture. A similar situation to this is what we saw in Solomon binding himself to pagan wives for political gains. They were merely business decisions with unbelievers to either maintain peace or gain more influence, power or money. Because he did not expect them to move to his Godly standard, he moved to theirs and they corrupted his spirituality. The value system in a company must always be Christian or the Christian will most likely end up compromising to the ways of the world.

Then there are finally contractors. Contractors are people that are brought in from the outside strictly on a contract or short-term basis. This is pretty much a no-brainer. Contractors are contracted to get work done. Contractors most often are a temporary stop-gap measure. They offer a service you don't have on staff or don't have the capabilities to provide. They need to do the work in accordance with an agreement and move on. This is strictly a business decision. It is not a covenant like a marriage. This is more or less how we do business today in the market square. When I go to a bakery I am not necessarily looking for a Christian bakery to make me a Christian cake. I just want a cake I cannot make on my own.

Your prayers are almost invisible in the equation in the world but for discerning the correct thing to is absolutely critical. You must never forget that a Christian’s primary business partner or more specifically their “partner in covenant" is God. By not praying we are essentially ignoring and not communicating with the person that has the largest stake or interest in our business (our lives). As any businessperson will tell you, businesses/covenants without proper communication with their primary shareholder will most certainly fail to meet their expectations. If they don’t fail they will certainly struggle greatly without input and help from their largest partner.

Hebrews 6:19 ~ "We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain..."

Either way, these business covenants tie us to spiritual anchors. They also show what anchor we chose in this life. Anchors can be good and firmly anchor us in God's word and his righteous principles or the anchors we're tied to can be bad and drag us to the bottom spiritually. Which anchor do you wish to be tied to? The one that will lift you up to eternal life or the one that drags you under drowning you in sin and the abyss of condemnation?

November 21, 2014

Prodigal Grace II: Live To Give, Give to Live

[Continued from previous post]

I ended the last post with a question and I'll ask it again to start this one. Why is there no retaliation or rebuke by the father against the Prodigal Son for his sinful stupidity? It is actually quite simple. I suppose that it is the same reason God doesn't do it to us when we often times deserve chastisement. It is called love and grace.

What most fail to realize about the story of the Prodigal Son is that every single one of us has had the opportunity to be the father, the son or the brother in this narrative. At some point in our lives…we have been all three. The one abusing grace, the one giving grace…or the one greatly in need of grace. If we retaliate we are doing so against people that are just like ourselves. This would not be loving our neighbors as ourselves, would it? In these situations in our lives when we know we did wrong, was a tongue-lashing really necessary? Would it have improved the already bad situation. Just the fact that we are already repented tells God and others that the turnaround has already taken place, a verbal beating might move everything back to square one.

The Grace Abuser

We often abuse grace when we realize we are saved by God’s grace and it is permanent. Paul told us in Romans 6:1-2 that we should not continue to sin so more grace abounds. In other words, just because we are saved does not give us license to do whatever we want over and over in habitual sin or even regular sin. As Paul also said…

1 Corinthians 10:23 ~ “All things are lawful” [to a Christian] “but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

If a person continues to willingly and habitually abuse grace (habitually sin) that person may wish to check to assure that they are even in the faith. Habitual abuse of grace is not the sign of a true believer since a true believer will not continue to habitually sin.

1 John 3:9 ~ “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.

Many overlook this and it is to their detriment. Many will say Lord, Lord but He might say that He never knew you. You my have walked through life under a false assurance and false pretense. I know people that were in eldership positions in churches that may have done this. I have done this in the past. It was utterly clear that not only didn't they/I manifest the fruits of the Spirit, they/I clearly sinned in a habitual manner and never once bothered to look inward. 

The Grace Giver

The one that willingly allows a wrong and does not seek retribution or revenge. This type of person realizes they are not giving of themselves. They are looking outward not looking inward. They realize that everything they have is actually God’s. In this way we understand that the giver of grace here is just redistributing or reallocating something that they were given stewardship of.

1 Corinthians 15:10 ~ But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

Another sign of a grace giver is a person who trusts God, not their circumstances and their control over their circumstance. The father of the young man trusted in God. It is God who arranged the circumstances that allowed the son to go wayward but it also arranged that he eventually return home. Until he arrives back home we hear nothing of the father but when the son does return he is immediately giving grace to his son. As a matter o fact, the father runs to the son to give the grace. That is a true grace giver. I person that strives to give grace away. This is a person overflowing with the Spirit.

The last thing in this story that is notable about the grace giver is that they live to give. The father gave the son his portion without fight and also gave when he returned home. He didn’t point out why the actions were so wrong, he just gave. When the man returned home…same thing. Giving was on the grace giver’s mind, not rebuke.

Again we see hints of Jesus’ statements from the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:46-48 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The father still risks rejection from the returning son because he does not know the pretense under which the son returns. He risks his dignity and pride and sprints to meet his son. In this way the Father is being like God in Heaven. He accepts regardless of the possible outcome. He loves unconditionally, just as God does.

We must all live to give.

The One In Need of Grace

It is both sons and the father that need grace in the story. It is also all of humanity outside the parable. Some of them need it more than the others but all humanity benefits from grace. Do we continue to sin so grace abounds? No! Do we try to give it abundantly and freely to others? Yes! As I said before, we have all been all of the characters in this story at one time or another. As such we have all been in need of grace in all of their situations too. It is the very nature of believers as sinners that screams, "I need grace!" It is what has saved us from the wrath of God’s judgment. It is the grace of the Gospel.

This one is a critical to the Christian life. It is the main underlying premise of the whole story. The Father in the story is an image of God giving grace to the son who is the believer that has gone astray but returned to God. We being the son in this story are undeserving of the unmerited grace given by the father but receive it anyway. We, in the position of the father are the image of the Christian believer who, being like God, gives grace to others who are undeserving. The other son is an image of the person that is given grace of a normal life at home but abuses that privilege by refusing the grace to his brother and his father. Instead it is almost as if he wants retribution for what he has suffered (or perceives he has). The other brother is the one most worse off in this narrative yet he is the one least mentioned.

Sadly but reassuringly, these images are all snapshots of the sinful human condition and the sinful human need of grace. Because Christ died on the Cross for all sin, we have the possibility of redemption regardless of whom we emulate in this story. It is sad because of the fallen condition of sinful man but reassuring because...even in our fallen condition there is hope. It is reassuring because no matter how bad our sin condition is, there is enough grace to redeem us and we need do nothing to gain it other than believe in Christ.

November 19, 2014

Prodigal Grace I: A Fatherly Love

Luke 15:11-12 ~ “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.”

Prod·i·gal  \ˈprä-di-gəl\ (Adjective) - Having or giving something on a lavish scale.

So why does the father of the prodigal son give him his portion of his wealth up front like this? Doesn't this seem foolish even by today's standards? He's taking a mighty risk that may fall flat and at first appears that it does. The father seems to have understood that in order to win the heart of his son, he had to risk losing him altogether. This was accomplished by giving him something even more dangerous and reckless than what he asked for. By giving him what he asked for that could potentially ruin his life, he has actually given him his son unmerited grace.

The young man’s father never stipulates what it will take for him to return to the fold. He never puts restrictions on his son’s return. Even though the son is clearly deserving of reprimands when he returns, he receives grace from his father (not so much his brother). The young man is essentially rewarded for poor behavior.


The father knows that the son is remorseful by observing his actions. To drum the young man over the head further is to be unduly harsh and defeats an opportunity to make a lasting impression. They are called teachable moments in our children's lives. It is in the Father’s forgiveness that we see the blinding light of grace. This goes against our American cultural mindset of revenge and getting even with people. It goes against our nearly pathological need of restitution.

“I was wronged! Someone is going to pay!” 

We are a legal and litigious society that says someone has to pay. Someone has to be at fault. This screams from deep inside most of us. We believe that there has to be a negative consequence for a negative action. This of course flies right in the face forgiveness and turning the other cheek. Retaliation is in our sinful DNA….but…if retribution is necessary the Scripture tells us...

Deuteronomy 32:35 ~ “Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’

Our constant sinful refrain, “I will not be walked on!”

Jesus’ response to this mentality?

Matthew 5:38-42 ~ “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

We are much too comfortable with loving those that treat us well and punishing or ripping into those that cross us. I’m no expert but this does not look like unconditional love. It looks a lot like conditional love.

Grace allows us to overlook slights and wrongs that would otherwise dwell in us and fester like a sore. Grace and unconditional love are intrinsically tied together. It is exactly why we are called to love our enemies. It requires grace that common human behavior is not capable of. It is possible through a Spirit indwelt believer. Even then, it is a battle because we wrestle against the flesh.

Yes, we must love our enemies because it shows the Spirit’s work of grace in us. It gives us the grace to be able to love those that are normally unlovable.

Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 

We must do this because it may only be the grace we show the unlovable that makes them sit up and pay attention to God. Many people that do not receive love by the world’s retaliatory standards know they are unlovable. They expect to be treated like dirt bags. So when someone shows them kindness it forces them to reassess the one doing the loving. If that person just happens to be Christian, the connection is unavoidable and the impact is profound. They will see that difference and will note the fact that the person is not operating on normal standards but something beyond themselves. This is appealing to a person that is already outside the social norm. I know, I was that unlovable dog.

We see this in the father of the Prodigal Son and we see it in Christians that can rise above their emotions just long enough to do the right thing.

No retaliation. Why no retaliation? Simple.

[Read that in the next post...]
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