Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Dawkins Delusion

The God Delusion is an anti-theistic book by British ethologist Richard Dawkins, Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

In the book, Dawkins contends that belief in a supernatural creator qualifies as a delusion, which he defines as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.

Dawkins writes that The God Delusion contains four "consciousness-raising" messages:

  1. Atheists can be happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled.
  2. Natural selection and similar scientific theories are superior to a "God hypothesis" — the illusion of intelligent design - in explaining the living world and the cosmos.
  3. Children should not be labeled by their parents' religion. Terms like "Catholic child" or "Muslim child" should make people flinch.
  4. Atheists should be proud, not apologetic, because atheism is evidence of a healthy, independent mind.

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good" (Psalm 14.1).

enjoy, ron

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Death Poem!

Both my Uncle Dale and my Mother died this summer. It was sad to see them go. My extended family is a mixed bag when it comes to faith and religion. Although their roots are Christian, they deal with death in varied ways. After spending time with many of them before and after the separate funeral services this poem came to my attention. It seems fitting to portray their assorted sensitivities within the confines of this pithy death dialogue.

(a Poem)

She's dead, he said.
So's he, said she.

Kicked the bucket, he said.
Bought the farm, said she.

Under the clover, he said.
Crossed over, said she.

Iced with a heater, he said.
Sleeps with the fishes, said she.

Taken for a little ride, he said.
Gone to the other side, said she.

Flat-lined, he said.
Out of mind, said she.

To a better place, he said.
By heaven's grace, said she.

Under the sod, he said.
To be with God , said she.

To Paradise? he said.
Would be nice, said she.

Could it be? he said.
Could it not? said she.

Enjoy, ron

PS. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15.53b-57)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Steps of deceit!

Artwork by Escher

The piece shows the eye-catching steps of deceit which run every which way and connect in deceptive ways. Like the manner of fallen man, they are illusory steps going nowhere and all over at the same time.

“Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel” (Proverbs 20.17).

The following is a quote dealing with the matter of deceit from Augustine’s exposition on Psalm 50.19:

“Thy mouth hath abounded in malice, and thy tongue hath embraced deceit” (ver. 19). Of the malevolence and deceit, brethren, of certain men he speaketh, who by adulation, though they know what they hear to be evil, yet lest they offend those from whom they hear, not only by not reproving but by holding their peace do consent. Too little is it, that they do not say, Thou hast done evil: but they even say, Thou hast done even well: and they know it to be evil: but their mouth aboundeth in malice, and their tongue embraceth deceit. Deceit is a sort of guile in words, of uttering one thing, thinking another. He saith not, thy tongue hath committed deceit or perpetrated deceit, but is order to point out to thee a kind of pleasure taken in the very evil doing, He hath said, ‘Hath embraced’.” (Schaff, P. [1997]. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. VIII. Augustin: Expositions on the Book of Psalms. [187].)

Bible words for deceit:

From Hebrew root rāmâ, meaning treachery or guile (Ps. 34:13).
It is used of a witness, of balances and of a bow (Ps. 78:57).

It is expressed by several Greek words, e.g.:
- planē, ‘error’ (Eph. 4:14);
- dolos, ‘cunning’, ‘treachery’ (Rom. 1:29; Mk. 7:22);
- apatē, ‘beguiling pleasure’ (Mt. 13:22; Heb. 3:13; Col. 2:8).

Bible thoughts and verses on deceit:

Since the devil is the arch-deceiver (Rev. 20:10) his children are described as ‘full of deceit’, e.g. Elymas (Acts 13:10).

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Tim 4:1).

Conversely, in Christ’s mouth there is no deceit: “He (Jesus) committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22) and in the true Israelite Nathanael no guile, “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (Jn. 1:47).

“…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (Eph 4:2).

“…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph 4:14).

enjoy, ron

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Got Time?

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." (Ecc 3:1)

“When are you going to post another blog entry?” asked my friend the other day. “I’m not sure”, I replied. “After all I’ve been rather busy with work, travel and family issues of late.”

But that got me to thinking. One huge feature of our daily lives is the awareness of time. We feel, think, and act in the time flow. Webster's Dictionary defines time as: “The general concept, relation or fact of continuous or successive existence, capable of division into measurable portions, and comprising the past, present and future.” In any case, time bears powerfully on human emotions. Not only do we often regret the past, we occasionally fear the future and curb the present.

Time is frequently described as the fourth dimension, and is very important to scientific observation because the events that scientists attempt to measure and explain all occur within a time frame. However, we know from Einstein's Theory of Relativity that there is no standard or absolute time frame, because time can be defined only by measurement.

You see, the measurement of time is based on reoccurring natural phenomena. For example, a year is defined as the amount of time it takes for the Earth to make one complete revolution around the Sun. A day is defined as the amount of time it takes for the Earth to make one complete revolution on its axis. The year and the day are then broken down into more arbitrary units - months, hours, seconds, and so on.

Einstein and others have shown that objects cannot travel faster than the speed of light, which is 186,291 miles per second. According to Einstein's theory of relativity, if an object were to travel at the speed of light its mass would become infinite. Hence, the speed of light then could be a function of time, because time can only be defined by measurement.

God is both faster than light and not in a hurry at the same time. For example, it took 40 years for Moses to receive his commission to lead God’s people out of Egypt. God called Moses to accomplish a certain task in His Kingdom, yet God was in no hurry to bring that mission into fulfillment. God took His time to accomplish what He wanted with and in Moses. But what did God want?

Interestingly, Moses wrote, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Ps 90:12). We are often more focused on the time something takes than the wisdom we are gaining as we live each day. When we experience God’s presence daily, one day we wake up and realize that God has done something special in and through our lives.

Even so, neither time nor wisdom will continue to excite us. Instead, what excites us is knowing Jesus Christ. As this happens, we are no longer focused on the wisdom because it is merely a result of our time with Jesus. In other words, wisdom is not the goal of our time with Jesus, but the by-product. Jesus is the Goal, alone and always!

God's timing in our lives will always remain a mystery. God will take the time he needs to get your ear and to impress on you his direction for your life. But our own understanding of time begins with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for (in behalf of) the ungodly” (Romans 5: 6).

PS. Scientists now suggest that a particle called a tachyon (from the Greek for "swift") may travel faster than the speed of light and cannot be slowed down. Some scientists believe that if tachyons could be detected and harnessed, they would help one to communicate anywhere in the universe instantaneously. So far the particle has not been found, but the new theoretical physics does account for this possibility.

Is time on your side? “For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.” Habakkuk 2.3

enjoy, ron