November 29, 2015

Bible Helpings I: The Egyptian Oliver Twist

There are times I just don't like writing a long post but something in my studies sparks a passing thought or stimulates a neuron patch that I can't quiet. I will post these ideas or thoughts in an ongoing series of brief posts starting with this one. This is the stuff that usually ends up on Facebook instead of SoulJournaler.

Like a secondary helping of mom's beef stew, theses tidbits will be biblical, hearty and spiritually nourishing but not overly time-consuming and will probably not come as long main course. As such I will be calling this ongoing series Biblical Helpings. Obviously anything from the Bible is helpful. It just seemed to make sense to call the series what I did. On to the first helping...

In modern stories people destined for greatness rarely start off privileged. They are dropped off at the doorstep of an orphanage or abandoned in the rain. This literary vehicle goes back to ancient stories, where writers use the abandoned child theme to identify a character that rises from obscurity to privileged hero status. It’s found in the biblical account of Moses’ birth. But is that really the story of Moses? I suggest it isn't quite that simple.

Moses stands out against the stories of the ancient cultures because he isn’t promoted like their chosen figures, but saved and demoted to poverty so that he can lead others to salvation. He is the new archetype of the chosen hero, the Christian hero, one who is promoted only for the benefit of others. He is a type of Christ. Over and against the stories of worldly kingdoms, Moses’ story articulates God’s remarkable work for His kingdom through Moses by taking him on a roller coaster first from poverty, then to Pharaoh's court, then back to poverty then to spiritual richness and relationship with God. Wle see the same in Jesus' humble origins, rise to ministry, death in crucifixion and then Resurrection to glory.

November 22, 2015

Yoga Is A No-Go

Due to its extreme trendiness and popularity even in Christian circles, yoga has become a bit of an elephant in the room. I have gone round and round about its risk to people of the Faith but my pleas often fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. I have felt compelled to write on this issue. The premise is simple. Yoga is dangerous to the Christian. Yes, you're free to do yoga just as a Christian has liberty to do whatever they want but not everything is beneficial for the Christian (sure hope that sounds familiar....1 Corinthians 6:12).

The response when I say this is typical. "Andy, you're too legalistic, yoga is harmless as long as you mediate and pray to the God in the Bible."

My reply is always, "Really?"

I’ve had this conversation with many and some have become heated conversations. I have been told doing yoga for physical conditioning and exercise as a Christian is harmless. I am told, “You’re not getting into the spiritual aspects of yoga just stretching and doing the other physical aspects.” At first I would just let it go in an effort to get along. Go along to get along. As I thought about it though I realized something was amiss. God was very specific in the Old Testament when he said His people were not to engage in pagan practices, especially those with a spiritual element or aspect to them (Leviticus 18).

I will state outright that the mental/meditative aspect is by far the most dangerous part of yoga and is dancing on the edge of a razor. So how much does yoga provide a valid non-spiritual way for a Christian to get physical exercise as opposed to meditating and being at peace with the world and the universe via Hinduism?

First, some history. Yoga means ‘union’, and in Hindu philosophy the person who does yoga doe so to gain in self-control of their body AND mind. In Yoga, they are inextricably linked and should not be separated out. Can they be used to create union with God? No. They are to reach union with the Infinite who/which can be perceived variously.  A person that does not have a firm grip of their Bible intellectually are already in dangerous waters. This is at the core of even your basic yoga class. Although the recruit to a class may be reassured that the exercises are ‘non-religious’ and that a practitioners Christian God can be substituted with the other myriad of gods acceptable for the practice, it must be remembered that yoga still represents a Hindu (also Buddhist, Jainism) world-view.

As mentioned by some of yoga’s devout practitioners, yoga is not supposed to be a weekend warrior thing or a fad. It is an entire way of life...and therein lies its allure and danger. There is not just an outright adherence to a pagan religion and its practice but there is a clear danger of syncretism or blending of religions into a synergistic whole. Part Christian, part Hindu/Buddhist. Just like the picture above, the idea of mixing these two is as ludicrous. I figured by giving an image of the hodgepodge of spirituality, it would hit home better.

There is of course an allure to the physical and mental self-control that some of yoga’s practices can bring but will practitioners see when they’ve crossed the line spiritually? No, spiritual lines are often invisible. Only the Spirit of God can see that and once you’ve begun to push the Spirit out with the practices of yoga, the line will become much harder to distinguish. It is like building a firewall with wood.

Yoga presents the Christian with an alternative interpretation of the universe. The Adi Deva or the primary being is called Narayana. Adi means the beginning of creation and Deva means the one who shines. The perception of Deva is as one who illuminates. The collective perceptions of all the beings put together is called Adi Deva, which existed even before creation. Adi Deva is called Narayana or the abode of all beings. Just as all rivers empty into the ocean, all our energies and faculties empty themselves into this collective ocean of energy called Prana which is the life force that sustains this universe. Yoga presents the Christian with an alternate path to relief of the world’s pains and anxiety which is Christ. The universal collective that Christians are called to unite with is the Kingdom of God with Jesus Christ at center.

The basic Yoga Lotus position is a circle is made of thumb and forefinger. This symbol implies the unbroken unity of life in a never-ending circle of successive reincarnations. Just putting ourselves into these positions and practices opens a path to acceptance to them. Because we are dealing with the spiritual here the risk is magnified. There are no spiritual vacuums. You become the company you keep. You are not merging with a divine being when you do this in some mystical transcendental experience, you are merging with the demonic. The Christian worldview tells us clearly that if things are not of God, they are demonic and from the system of the world.

If we read Colossians 2 we get a pretty clear answer on how to deal with questionable practices that pertain to errant Christian practice, pagan practice or general non-Christian practices. Paul had to deal with the Colossian heresy (which was syncretism) and in so doing wrote a grocery list of things to be suspicious or wary of. Why does he do this? Paul tells us so that we do not “disqualify” ourselves. Disqualify ourselves form what?


Colossians 2:16-23 ~ “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Paul is telling us what these pagan and non-Christians practices really are. They are a subtle form of hedonistic pleasure and appeal to the flesh. There are better ways to exercise that pose a much lesser risk to the Christian then yoga folks. All these other religions are not divine in origin but rather demonic in origin. They are self-made or more specifically demonically influenced through our own flesh and desires. When we do things physically to reach some form of holiness or as Paul says, “severity to the body,” we are doing a work for salvation. Salvation is by grace alone.

How does the Hindu philosophy of yoga view the divine? It degrades the image of God. The Hanumanasana or monkey position in yoga is a degradation to the point of animism. Hanuman was the name of a powerful monkey chief who was the son of Anjana, the devoted friend and servant of Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. This in contrast with Colossians 2: 6-10 shows the main difference between the basically Hindu concept behind Yoga, and the revealed truth of God in Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:6-10 ~ “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority."

This is a direct shift towards pantheism (henotheism actually). It is comparing God to multiple gods and things in nature. It even shows God as an impersonal “It” at times with no personality which any Christian that reads his Bible can tell you is not true.

Be filled with Christ, not pagan nonsense which is in reality, demonic.

Which leads to the last thought and most dangerous about yoga. It is an attempt to empty one’s self mentally. Many will say you can meditate on the God of the Bible while practicing yoga but in truth, yoga is an attempt to empty one’s self completely through chants and mantras. Again, I will ask, when does a person spiritually know when that line begins to be crossed when the very practices we are practicing are an attempt to drive out the very Spirit that will allow us the discernment to know when we are crossing that line? The answer is that they will not know and at that point it will be too late. The trick isn’t to see how close we can get to these practice and still pull ourselves back…it is to avoid it completely.

Can you practices yoga and mediate on the God of the Bible. I suppose. Is it worth the risk flirting with the potential dangers involved? I don’t know, is it worth sprinting headlong to jump over a fire pit and risk tripping and falling into the fire when you can just as easily walk around it?

It’s a shame, Hinduism sort of tells us to turn inward to find the truth by emptying ourselves. Christianity tells us to turn outsides ourselves to find Christ and in so doing we are asked to be filled with Christ, not emptied. In Hinduism we supposedly gain by losing identity but in Christianity we gain our true created identity by absorbing the One who created us. We are not truly who we were created to be until we are completely filled…not emptied.

Another sad fact about yoga is that never once is sin mentioned. If sin is never mentioned then a remedy to it never needs mentioning either. Therefore, no Christ and no Gospel. So the enlightenment offered in Hinduism and yoga is therefore not really enlightenment at all but a darkening. If there is any light it is like shining light down a deep bottomless well of human depravity. Although the breathing exercises and meditation (upon Christ and his Word) are commendable we are unwise to open the door for the entry of a system that in Paul’s words, causes someone to lose connection with Christ Himself (Colossians 2).

November 13, 2015

Disappearing Into The Demonic Realm

The Day of Atonement...

There is a beautiful simplicity in the Scriptures. 

There are ideas and principles that, once they are revealed, should instill a sense of awe for all onlookers. Case-in-point: The Day of Atonement and the idea that justice prevails in the end according to a God-given plan. Those that repent, survive. Those that do not perish. Those that obey live to fight and believe another day, those that disobey are cursed and die a slow spiritual death each day until their final physical departure.

To what do I refer?

Nowadays it is called Yom Kippur by the Jewish people.In the Old Testament it is known as the Day of Atonement. It is central to the Jewish faith even though it is not practiced as it was in ancient times. Christians will be surprised to learn that, ideologically, it is central to the Christian faith also. Well, at least the idea of atonement is (through Jesus Christ).

It was outlined in Leviticus 16. Behind Leviticus 16 is a nefarious and sinister figure lurking in the realm of the wilderness. You see the Day of Atonement required a ram, a bull and two goats for sacrifice.

Leviticus 16:3-5 “This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.

A ram to please God. A bull removed from its herd was sin offering for the high priest, in this case Aaron and his family. The bull sacrifice would restore the high priest to ritual purity. He could then enter the Holy of Holies in the temple. He could enter into God’s presence without risking instant death. The goats were a bit of a different story though.

Why two goats? Why not one?

Well, firstly the high priest would cast lots over the two goats (throw dice). With a sovereign God even  the result of the cast of the dice is God’s will. One of the goats would be sacrificed. It looks as if that goat would’ve got the shortest straw or the worst of it when we find out that the other goat would just be released to the desert wilderness to run wild. Such would not be the case though. Even though the second goat was not killed outright. Its life from that point on would most likely be one of deprivation and a slow excruciating death caused by the elements or attack of wild ravenous animals. Rather than a quick humane death,  the second would be subjected to torture and then death. This goat, would symbolically have the sins of God’s people laid upon it and it would carry the sins away from the camp of Israel into the wilderness. A sacrifice "of Azazel" or “for Azazel” (depending on how the Hebrew was interpreted).

Hold on to your hats, this is where the story really takes off.

Leviticus 16:8-10 ~ “And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.

Azazel is an interesting word/construction in Hebrew.

The Hebrew term azazel עזאזל occurs four times in Leviticus 16 but nowhere else in the Bible. Many prefer to translate the term as a phrase, “The goat of departure or scapegoat.” Azazel appears to be a compound of `ez  aze or a goat (as strong), but masculine in plural and 'azal or to go away or disappear. A strong male (goat) that disappears (into the wilderness) for the sins of the people. Yet this word can also be interpreted as a proper noun or name as a counterpoint to Lord or Yahweh earlier in the passage. There is a suggestion that there are two spiritual entities being represented and subsequently contrasted in the two goats. There are extra-canonical sources (non-Biblical) that mention the goat for Azazel being led to a cliff and pushed over to die and never return (disappear).

We need to realize that the wilderness as mentioned in Scripture is often the embodiment of evil and the Devil (the Temptation of Christ in the wilderness by the Devil). If we bounce back to Leviticus 17 we see that, up until the time of Aaron and the writing of Leviticus, there had been wilderness sacrifices to “goat demons” in what amounted to a pagan and idolatrous practice. In other words, superstitious demon reverence. They were giving offerings to demon spirits to appease them just like pagan religions. Demons who deserved no acknowledgment or reverence.

Leviticus 17:1-7 states, "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the people of Israel and say to them, this is the thing that the Lord has commanded. If any one of the house of Israel kills an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or kills it outside the camp, and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it as a gift to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord, blood-guilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people. This is to the end that the people of Israel may bring their sacrifices that they sacrifice in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord, to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the Lord. And the priest shall throw the blood on the altar of the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting and burn the fat for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations."

So not only is the Day of Atonement that was created by God playing out in this sacrifice of the goats…it is also trumping and replacing the idolatrous practice of offering to the goat demon. God is actually taking the existing practice and assimilating it into something proper and good in worship of Him. God takes what people already know and appropriates it for Himself even when people are too dumb to realize their error. It is just another example of God working sovereignly and providentially in spiritually blind people’s lives and doing so to their benefit.

A goat would now, no longer be sent into the wilderness as a sacrifice to a foreign god (demon). The old pagan act of sending the live goat out into the wilderness which was seen as evil and unholy ground was now appropriated for Godly and Holy purposes. Ironically, a goat would now be sent with the sins of the people where they belonged symbolically. It would be sent to a place perceived as pagan, ungodly or evil….to the demonic or nefarious realm of the wilderness or desert.

I believe here we see what was once evil and nefarious actions and events taken or usurped for God’s purposes. People often ask why God allows evil. In this story we see a case where evil or wicked practices work to God’s glory and advantage. We know that anything that works to His advantage works to the advantage or believers too.

In one of these goats we see a sacrifice that brings ritual purity and access to God. In the other goat was see the people’s sins sent to the demonic realm. We see a cleansing of the people and a separation from their own sins. In this entire scenario we see God’s true character and obvious sovereignty over even the evil in people's lives. From evil and suffering of men we see it turned on its head and instead mercy and grace put in its place. Only God can cause a complete reversal like this, a paradox like this. Only God could cause a paradigm shift this profound. To turn evil to good. To make our sin disappear.

With one goat sacrificed to bring purification and access to God and one goat sent to carry the people’s sins to the demonic domain, this annual ritual reinforced the identity of the true God and His mercy and holiness. It also eschewed the evil that was formerly involved. God brought forth good from bad.

It is therefore not ironic that when Jesus comes and dies on the cross for all of humanity’s sins, He will be crucified outside the city on the edge of the wilderness, the sphere of darkness and the demonic in the Jewish/Semitic minds of His day. This  of course will be a direct fulfillment of the shadow that was once played out with the scapegoat sent to the wilderness to die. 

So not only did God negate the formed pagan practices by the offering of the goats called for in Leviticus 16…he would do away with all sacrifices once and for all in the parallel sacrifice that was His Son’s death forever abrogating the need to atone for sin. Jesus Christ had did it once and for all and he had done it right in evils backyard.

Why did God do it in steps? Most likely so that man could see Him in the workings of this plan and so they could acclimate to these facts in their weakness. It really is remarkable that God would send sin packing right into a realm long seen and long feared as the harbinger of evil itself. He would use former symbolic gestures in a physical act of crucifixion to send sin to the very place it belonged.away from mankind into darkness. He boldly faced the darkness and the darkness cowered away from Him.

November 5, 2015

No Fear: Shaking A Puny Fist At The Sky

Everyone above 30 years old should probably remember the old existential slogan from the late 1990's clothing brand: No Fear. I am going to write on that topic or premise....sort of.

Okay, I am being slightly disingenuous here. The title should’ve been No Fear of God. In a word: Irreverence which means without due respect or veneration of God. No reverence. It is to be disrespectful and flippant towards something clearly greater than one's self. What we will find is that treating God in a casual manner is destructive and deadly.

I have always been one to keep a finger on the pulse of the culture. What I have heard often lately is one specific question:

Why are things so bad morally, ethically and in general?

These cultural conditions are in reality symptoms. More specifically signs. Signs and symptoms of what? They are symptoms of a spiritually sick nation that is already under judgment. What are the signs of a society afield of God?  Why is our society falling to pieces? Look around you to take stock of the world and then read on.

People that depart from God as the true source of life are like a solitary coal ejected from the fireplace by force. If they are not returned to the fireplace quickly, they first start a rogue fire and then quickly extinguish. Likewise, people’s hearts cool towards others until there is no internal warmth left. No desire to work as community and seek companionship. In the case of man being removed from God, it isn't God ejecting them but rather their choice to leave. 

This is further exacerbated by cellphones and computer gadgetry. This is what we see in society today. It’s not everywhere and everyone but the symptoms are are spreading like an pandemic. Just like the old bearded prophet that carried the sandwich sign proclaiming: "The End is Nigh", I say this often and I am often mocked and ridiculed for saying so. I am not saying the end is here. What I am saying is that America and the world at-large are on the wrong side of God.

Our culture and society’s condition is the end result of not fearing God. When I say lack of fear I mean there is no regard for God's Word or will. He nor His word are taken seriously anymore and it shows. It is literally the old adage come to life…there is nothing sacred anymore. It is sinful people shaking their puny fist at God. There is no desire to live a life which brings glory to God nor make any attempt to live a life aligned to Scripture. Please note I didn’t say no desire to live a “good” life. The issue therefore becomes one of what makes good “good”. Who defines it? Everyone lives by a standard. The question is, who supplies the standard, God or man. 

Who is would be more apt to provide a better standard, flawed men or perfect God. They resist being guided by Godly principles. Instead what guides them are a worldly set of principles. A life lived by selfish self-centered aims. This in turn leaves humanity in a state of inward inability. Isolated like a coal left from the fire, their hearts cool towards others until there is no internal warmth left. No desire to work as community. This is what we see in society today. It’s not everywhere but the condition is proliferating.

First, realize that there is a fear of God that doesn’t produce good results. This terrifying and paralyzing fear is likely the type of fear that comes to mind for many. This fear does not have a positive end. This fear is not what God is looking for. So what type of fear does God want? The Greek noun Φόβος / phobos can means “reverential fear” of God, “not a merely ‘fear’ of power and righteous retribution. It is actually a fear driven by a love for God and his will. It is a fear of displeasing God. This is the type of positive fear the Bible refers to. If people do not have this type of fear…they inevitably will get the other one that will be terrifying and paralyzing because the godless are always exposed to God’s wrath.

What does the Bible say are the signs of irreverence to God? Everything that comes out of their mouth is garbage. The words of their mouths are lies and deceit. Furthermore the Bible seems to focus a lot on the mouth and what comes out of it when discerning whether or not a person is debased or godless. Why? As Jesus said, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” ~ Matthew 15:11. What does eventually come out of a mouth that does not fear God is profanity and is usually inappropriately sexual in nature. Think: Unrefined and course.

People that do not fear God cannot act wisely or do “good”. That is either because they were not taught properly or rebelled and ignored what they were taught. They’re incapable of telling full truths because their own lies have even convinced them of their validity. They’re backbiting, slanderous and bitter. They’re violent and their behaviors and even their presence causes ruin and misery. They are self-aggrandizing and flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their own sin. This is often because most of those around them have the same sin…so it seems normal or status quo. Even when they rest from the day they plot evil for the next day and commit themselves to a courses of action that they know is wrong or unethical. This sounds an awful lot like Romans 3 but I drew it from Psalm 36. These truths came from a song written by David.

The godless seek great treasures and fame and with these comes turmoil and instability. We are surrounded by a society full of these people (Proverbs 15:16) and full of people that revere people that do the same. We’ve made heroes of fools and fools now run the world and influence the masses.

We see a similar society in Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. It was the last book for a reason and most of it was God’s people. They had drifted away from the God of Scripture and it showed not only in their society and culture but even in their so-called “churches/synagogues”. If your priests and holy men are irreverent who are your spiritual leaders…what hope is there for your society. When you spiritual leaders swing wide of God’s word/will, a society deteriorates to nothing since it was God who was sustaining it.

In terms of a fear of God and a lack of it, Malachi 1-3 needs to be understood as a series of rebukes to the post-exilic people of Jerusalem. God has serious issues with the temple priests and their behavior. In Malachi 1 God is indicts the priesthood. Instead of living exemplary lives they were guilty of breaking the very Law they were charged to uphold. There was not fear of God in them. First and foremost they were treating their obligations and subsequently God, with utter contempt. This head and heart attitude pretty much formed their precepts and concept for behavior for and towards God. It tainted how their duties were performed for Him and towards Him. Inevitably it led to fearless and contemptuous behavior towards God. It showed that they were totally blind to their sin and others which didn’t allow them to realize they were irreverent to God.

They were offering blemished sacrifices. Levitical priests where raised and taught what was considered defective sacrifice but did so anyway and thereby did not fear/revere God. The priest where then naïve enough (or brazen enough) and so blinded that they asked, "How have we shown contempt for your name?” and “How have we defiled you?” They just didn’t get it, they were clueless just as our modern society is. It is like saying a builder doesn’t know how to hammer a nail. They had become so distant from God and His will that their sins had hardened their minds. They had gone insane.

What is the end result of this irreverence for them (an us today)? They recieve a stinging and convicting reproach. They are told Lord’s table is contemptible by their actions by bringing blind animals, when sacrificing crippled and diseased animals. The very holy places (churches) had been turned into a think of reproach. How many churches have now done this by openly accepting sin into their fold without expectation of a change? Homosexuality. Adultery. Avarice?

The Lord asks them if they think this is wrong and their answer should’ve been “yes”. We sadly see the depraved condition of their minds and hearts. These are animals that wouldn’t even have been offered to the governor in a banquet. We see the same today. When asked if people think they are good or good enough to get to heaven you will almost always hear a resounding yes. Sadly this cound’t be any farther form the truth.

So why wouldn’t God accept them?

Malachi implies that it would be better to shut the doors to the temple than to continue such worthless sacrifices. How does this reflect on today’s churches? Not well I would presume. God would no longer accept the offerings from their hands He was not pleased with them at all. If they couldn't serve Him with their full hearts He didn’t want any of their worship. That meant serving Him with fear and reverence. A reverence that expects that they would abide by His will, his statutes, His rules that he dictated for their benefit. God is either worthy of all our praise or none of it. Either put on your big boy/big girl pants and buck up or go home.

In Malachi 2 the priests are then are admonished harshly. So too we should expect an admonition not only individually but also at in the church today. If they did not listen [obey], and did not set their heart to honoring his name, God was going to send curses upon them. Just like then we see the same today. If the result of the irreverence and sin is already manifest, it is probable that the curse is already underway. By the time of Malachi God had already cursed them, because they had not set their heart to honor and fear God. He rebuked their descendants too. He literally and figuratively spread offal on their faces (term used to refer to the entrails and internal organs of a butchered animal) and they would be carried off with it (which we will eventually see in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D.). In other words, their culture and nation collapsed and were scattered to the diaspora.

The Lord then reminds the priests because it is clear they are spiritually calloused, irreverent and filled with contempt for the Lord. He states that His covenant was a covenant of life and peace. He gave it to them and reverence and awe were expected in return. They have obviously failed to live up to the covenant. They took their privilege for granted. They were then cautioned against the perversion of their duties and their office. They were warned of their deviation from proper behavior and the probably end result.

What ensues is the apostasy of the nation’s spiritual and political leaders. In turn this had led others astray because they were following the bad example of their leaders. We see the same today. How often do we hear that because things are legal in the courts, they are socially acceptable…even though they are morally repugnant? How often do we hear the echoing question on the lips of otherwise good people, ”Why have things gotten so bad?” We hear it in the haunting statements of people almost daily, “We aren’t the nation we used to be.” People are correct. We are now a nation under judgment. We are a nation that treats God irreverently. We are a nation and a people that do not fear God.

November 3, 2015

In Their Own Words XXXVIII: An Eternal Universe Exists but An Eternal God Doesn’t

Let us admit outright that we are dwarfed by scale when we contemplate the universe. The earth we live on is considered a medium-sized planet orbiting an average star on one of the outer radial arms of an average galaxy. On this planet resides an ordinary race of people whose only outstanding characteristic is that they are, well, not very outstanding. They are sinful and painfully ordinary. Our galaxy is only one of millions of other galaxies in the known and observable universe. All these factors though have led extraordinarily to our healthy existence. The odds of which are… (if you’ll pardon the pun) astronomically small. In other words the chances of our existence were statistically impossible as even I will admit. That is...if you do not believe in God.

Yet based in simple inductive study and basic observation one could quickly conclude that that this whole vast construction exists specifically for our sake. It is called the Anthropic Principle or the Law of Human Existence. It is the principle that our existence in this universe is contingent upon a myriad of physical factors that must fall within a very narrow range for the ability for humans to survive at all in a hostile universe. If even a single variable were off by decimal places, even slightly, we would be obliterated or simply cease to exist. If the strong or weak nuclear forces were minutely off, the atoms that compose our reality would fly apart. If we were even a few thousand miles closer or farther way from the sun we would either freeze to death or burn to a cinder.

Surprisingly, atheist Stephen Hawking sums up this sentiment rather interestingly (but errantly) in a quote from weekly German news magazine Der Spiegel.

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” ~ Stephen Hawking [Der Spiegel, October 17, 1988]

We then have another comment about the existence of mankind and the universe from the same man that defies logic and commonsense.

“I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.” ~ Stephen Hawking [Curiostiy; TV series]

The irony is that it isn’t just hard to believe we exist…it’s impossible to believe. Too many circumstance speak to the improbability of our existence...yet we are here.

Hawking’s view is clearly a man-centered view (anthropic), not a God centered one (theocentric). It is ironic that the Anthropic point of view in actuality is a theological argument for the existence of God because of the need for Universe fine-tuning. The problem with Hawking’s view is that it is purely and only an anthropic view that totally wishes to push out God. The problem is that he also tries to discount God from an impossible scenario. Hawking omits the possibility of a Creation, God and anything powerful enough to have spoken reality into existence. A reality specifically geared to humanity which Hawking himself has admitted is special or exceptional in its improbability.

Furthermore, things within his own statements beg multiple questions. He specifically states that man’s ability to comprehend these very facts that I state, makes them special. Well, what makes them special? Special implies a classification system. A classification system that lends itself to inductive thought and inductive study. Things obviously didn’t have to be this way. Reality is organized. Even chaos (to some extent) can be quantified, compartmentalized and categorized. The Universe by its very nature is systemic and principles within the universe tend to be…ironically, universal. Physics that apply in my backyard mostly likely apply to stars at the edge of the Universe. The Universe’s physical characteristics are uniform and consistent from the atomic scale to the intergalactic scale.

Again I ask, special how? There needs to be a measuring stick or benchmark of special. Special to Hawking? Special compared to what? I believe exceptional might be a better adjective. Both of these are comparative words. I believe special in Hawking’s mind is the that they're special as opposed to nothing at all. A state of being that Hawking has worked hard not to believe (nothingness). You see, Hawking’s wants to believe the Universe has always existed in some form either through oscillating universes or an outright eternal universe even though background radiation in the Universe seems to refute that claim. If Hawking admits to initial nothingness he knows he violates a fundamental axiom of logic. That true "somethingness" cannot arise from "nothingness" (also known as the God Paradigm).

Hawking’s realizes just how precious human existence and human consciousness is and how special it is yet he attributes it to no exceptional source. Special and exceptional. In other words…unusual or not typical. Hawking’s is making comparative claims that these conditions for human and even Universe/Universal existence are not the norm. How would he know this? The truth is that he cannot without making himself Omniscient. Mr. Hawking’s is clearly making himself into an entity with godlike abilities that his physical condition clearly shows he does not possess. This is not surprising for a man whose overriding drive behind his theories is to disprove God and deny His existence. A motive and impetus so strong that it drives him to make contradictory or irrational statements.
Since he cannot truly know the extent of existence or a lack of it, deduction tells me that the only comparative point he has to make his statement is that he is implying it is miraculous that anything exists at all as opposed to nothing.

Furthermore, it is even more startling to him that human consciousness exists in addition to what appears to be an arbitrary and statistically improbable reality. Ontological existence of being as opposed to nothing and non-being…a start condition that Hawking’s has repeatedly tried to deny and disprove. Hawking’s has admitted that he wants the universe to have been eternal so that it discredits a need for God but admits it is improbable. So in making his statement that human consciousness is special he admits it is unusual and exceptional while simultaneously affirming a comparative start point that doesn’t seem physically feasible either by scientific or theological standards.
It appears we have caught Mr. Hawking in a rather large philosophical contradiction or in his case he has perpetrated philosophia contra mundom.

All this to pose an ironic dichotomy in Hawking’s thinking.

Stephen Hawking wants a special eternal Universe with special human consciousness but simultaneously wants to deny an eternal God to have created it and sustain it. A desire so great that he has made assertive philosophical statements to affirm his position on it. It is clear an eternal God would be needed to create and sustain the universe because physical constants like entropy require a self-limiting Universe start condition and also point to an expiration date.

In effect, Hawking’s has made his belief and desire for ontological eternality publicly known (it is on record). Eternality...a concept firmly rooted in metaphysics...and a characteristic that should philosophically be attributed to divinity not physicality in isolation  [I discount the idea of Temporalism because of its errant misunderstandings of God]. All these are concepts firmly planted in theology and metaphysics not science and physics.

Theology and metaphysics. Two areas Hawking’s is clearly not an expert on nor should he be making assertive and dogmatic statements about. Two areas that he conceivable does not even acknowledge exist (an intrinsic bias then comes into play). Hawking’ expertise lies in science and physics not theology and metaphysics. It is therefore ironic that Stephen has made the Universe a god (a form of scientific pantheism) by saying it is likely eternal.

My second point of contention with Stephen Hawking’s overreaching philosophical and metaphysical statements is when he says, “We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that I am extremely grateful.” I will say outright that his statement begs the question: Grateful to whom? I wish to sidestep this philosophically self-negating statement to dive into his other allusion of a "grand design".

A design implies a designer. If we piggyback this statement into the one we have already discussed we arrive at a rather peculiar conclusion. It isn’t just a design; it is a grand design or as other statements from Hawking’s have alluded to…special and exceptional. This is a lot of grandiloquent and superfluous language coming from a man who believes in an eternal but mundane Universe. A Universe he also has stated has a design (which implies a creator/designer behind it).

So is Hawking being intellectually inconsistent and contradictory? If so, how many of his other beliefs and statements can become subject to these deductions? I’d have to say all of them. Can this man’s theories and conclusions be relied upon to explain reality? Can he be taken seriously at all? I posit that he cannot be taken seriously.

I’ll leave that to you to determine though. I personally have trouble taking anything he says seriously anymore based on these and other observations of him. As my father who was well driller used to say in his blue-collar way, “People like him need to be taken with a grain of salt.” That is to say that anything he says should be considered something not completely true or right. Dubious. This word best describes Hawking's assertions. Taken with a grain of salt. It was an old idea that things that were undesirable or inedible (hard to swallow) would be easier to swallow or stomach if you add a little salt to them. There might be something useful in what he says but most of it is just hard to digest and frankly, unpalatable.
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