Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Always In Need

Spiritual warfare. Its a hot topic and subject nowadays in Christian circles. After a long time of naturalism and 'man is in control of his universe' type of thinking, much of the scene, both Christian and secular are swinging back in the other direction. The reason is it can not be ignored any longer. People are recognizing there are things beyond them attempting to influence and coerce.

Today is Christmas day. One of the most spiritualized days in history. I did not expect this. This spiritual attack took me by surprise. I'm in my daily business at work, not answering very many calls because of the day. I feel the most disconnected with my Lord than I've felt in a long time. I spent time with family, talked to family back in California, had my wife over at work for dinner, so many things to be thankful for. And what rears its ugly head is old temptations and numbness.

You see, in the times of comfort and complacency are the most dangerous for me. I thank the Lord I've learned to recognize them for what they are, spiritual attacks. But that doesn't make them any easier, just possible to watch for and go to my Lord in those times of need. The enemy knows no days of ceasefire. Just reading comics online, nothing of note or innately tempting even and old images of my sins and weaknesses come to mind.

I can't really even express it. I'm not fully coherent here I realize, but its just. . . .I just need you Lord. I need you always. Please Lord may I never think I'm strong enough, smart enough, holy enough, to have outgrown my need for you. This day, of all days, I need you all the more. Give me strength.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Tesseracts, Dimensions, and Reality

Okay, the past few days I've had a bit of an obsession on my mind. You see, mathematics of almost all types have had a special attraction for me my whole life and whenever someone brings up a subject like this to think about I go a little overboard.

I've been thinking about tesseracts. For those of you who do not know what a tesseract is, it is a 4 dimensional cube. That is to say it is a cube that is extended into a fourth dimension. It is rather difficult to visualize normally because we visualize things in 3 dimensions. But one way to help with that is to think about how we extrapolate a 2 dimensional square into 3 dimensions as a cube. The old imagery used is describing how we might try to describe a cube to a 2 dimensional world by unraveling it. The image is often represented as such:

That is basically how the tesseract is produced by “unfolding” the 4 dimensional cube so to speak into 3 dimensions by extending a cube(another “side” so to speak) from each of the 6 sides of a cube with one more extended that wraps around to the final side of the hypercube. One famous representation of the tesseract is Jesus Christ on a tesseract as a cross by Salvador Dali in 1954. It looks like this.

As I struggled to visualize this mathematical abstraction I began to argue with myself whether the 8th extended cube which represents the final side of the hypercube was actually enough. Who is to say that the visualization we apply to the 2nd dimension from the 3rd will work the same way from the 4th to 3rd? After all we can't actually see a 4-d cube nor visualize it so there is no way to really verify it by simply unraveling it like we do with the cube to squares. We can only abstract it and calculate it. But after thinking on it a while I realized a couple of things.

First I tried to see a pattern, something all mathematicians do to be able to abstract or calculate something further, and the more data points you have the more you can verify your calculation. So I need a little more data so I decided to apply what we did with the cube into a 2-d plane into a 1 dimensional plane, something mind you that is actually just as hard to visualize for us as a 4-d plane. But ultimately a 1d plane is simply a line, there is no height or width to it, only length. Though ultimately our conception of a line still has those technically, we can at least visualize that to a degree. When we unravel a square into the 1-d plane we just get a longer line, 4 times as long as one side of the square actually. But then I realized, the 1-d unraveled square has 2 times as many sides as there are dimensions of the original. A similar pattern is seen of the 2-d representation of a cube in that there are 6 sides to the cube, exactly 2 times the number of dimensions. This verifies the 8 cubes representing the tesseract, being 2 times the number of dimensions. We can then subsequently extrapolate to further dimensions requiring 10 tesseracts to represent a 5-d cube in a 4-d plane. 12 5-d cubes for the 6-d cube, ad infinitum. Its simply fun mathematics.

But what about the 0-dimension? Okay, yes now you think I'm crazy, but can you think about zero dimensionality? I know that if I were to try to unravel a line into the highly hypothetical 0-dimension I would think of it as two infinitesimally small points, not having length, width, or height, merely having two points that represent the ends of a line. Thats just how I would think about it. The question is the whether the reason I think of it that way is independent of my little formula of 2 times the dimensionality we're unraveling from. In this case 2 times 1 dimension becomes two points.

But think about it, does 0-dimensions really sound so off track to you when you think about black holes? Now I'm not saying I believe they exist because I disagree with the whole reason for postulating their existence, but those who do think they exist seem to be describing exactly what I'm postulating with my 0-dimension to me. Sure they'd argue semantics with me saying that in actuality there are dimensions, they're just so tightly wrapped infinitesimally small, kind of like the postulation of the big bang where the dimensions supposedly popped out of. Both of those are postulating pretty much what I'm describing here. Ultimately this is all still just idealistic mathematics.

But mathematics are not reality. They try to describe reality, but they are not reality. We could postulate various versions of universes that do not follow the laws of physics that we observe and still come up with completely legitimate mathematical equations to describe them. Thats why mathematics is so clean. It is idealistic, not realistic. And when we come to the question of dimensions I have the question the cohesion between this mathematical idealism and what the dimensions we observe and postulate are really like. Quantum physicists now postulate 10 dimensions of reality, or traditional 3 dimensions, a fourth we haven't really thought about much as a dimension in history as time, and 6 others that are supposedly tightly bound up with one another. The idea of the tesseract and its 3-d representation is based on the assumption that all of these dimensions are ultimately the same and we can unravel them all in such a manner so to speak. Thats what I take issue with, that assumption that all dimensions are basically the same in nature. Why do we assume this?

Take time for example. We recognize it as a dimension and in fact Einstein concluded he could not separate space and time. But in our normal 3 dimensions we can measure everything using the same measurements, such as meters. Whether it is up, down, forward, back, left, or right it can all be measured in a spatial manner. Time can not be. If we were to involve time as the 4th dimension in our tesseract we can visualize it as a further dimension. The longer the cube is in that dimension as we measure it, the longer that dimensions is. Ultimately though to make a cube all sides must be equal right? So then, how many seconds equals a meter? They are fundamentally different. Another thing is that we can somewhat freely move about in our 3 dimensions as I can choose which direction I move within the bounds of our physical laws such as gravity. However with time I can not choose a direction. It is unidirectional. And that in itself shows us its fundamentally different nature from the other 3 spatial dimensions. So why can't the other dimensions be fundamentally different as well? Is there any spatiality to them in the way we understand it? What if the other dimensions have nothing to do with moving through space or time, but rather measure the amount of energy of something or the electromagnetic orientation or such things as that? What if some of the dimensions are binary, rather than being able to move “infinitely” in either direction? Some of these questions have a few answers such as the nature of some or all of these dimensions I'm sure by physicists and I'm only asking questions. But I still think that the dimensionality is not quite so simply as unraveling the hyperdimensions in the same way we can from 3 dimensions to a 2 dimensional plane. Thats all I'm thinking.

Ultimately though dimensions are measurable and finite. How do we understand eternity in a time-bound reality? How do we understand an infinite God in a finite universe? Only through revelation. We are a 2-dimensional people being shown a cube outside the bounds of our universe and given glimpses of that larger reality through revelation. The revelation of Jesus Christ, being the Son of God, born as a man. He entered into our finite existence in order to show us and bring us into an infinite reality for which this reality is but a reflection and shadow. If you take it down to the Planck length of space and time, many have concluded that we ultimately live in a holographic universe. Something humbling and enlightening when you consider that Paul tells us the same thing when he says we see but a dim reflection. This reality is only a curtain. One day it will be pulled back entirely as we stand in the presence of a Holy God. When that happens, you'll either be ready for it or you won't. I suggest you be ready for it by getting to know what you can of Him now.

For His Glorious Name,

Monday, 10 December 2012

Look at this hand

Today I was reading an online comic that I read each time there is a new one. I read it because it provokes thoughts even though quite a few of the conclusions the writer draws are different that what I would conclude. Today was a particularly interesting comic dealing with the color of the sky: blue. The question asked by the child is why isn't the sky violet? The question is based on the fact that the common answer for the sky being blue is that light is scattered by the molecules in the atmosphere and blue is scattered to the greatest degree so while the sun is high in the sky that is what we see. But violet is even shorter in wavelength than blue and thus is scattered at even greater angles. Anyhow, the comic can be found at http://xkcd.com/1145/ and also has a mouseover comment about something similar which is why are words held up in the mirror reversed from left to right but not vertically?

Both of these questions are magic tricks in essence. The core of magical tricks are distraction and misdirection. Look at this hand while something else is happening elsewhere. The first question asks why the sky isn't violet, and the reason has nothing to do with the physics and the wavelengths of light present in the sky because ultimately there are nearly equal parts blue and violet wavelengths in the sky we look at. The reason we see blue has more to do with perception and our eyes than what is present in the sky. See the article here for a short explanation. Likewise the question about the mirror has to do with perception and not the horizontal and vertical axes. The reason its reversed is because we are holding a sign in the opposing direction, away from us. We have reversed the direction horizontally by turning the sign around. We haven't turned it around vertically, so the writing is not reversed vertically, but would be if we had turned the sign that way to flip it around. It would be reversed vertically, but NOT horizontally. Also think of it this way. If you had a glass board or something transparnet on which to write with some markers, we could write a sentence and hold it up to the mirror(without turning it around) and what we would see by the mirror is the writing in the correct order and orientation. Its not turned around because of the mirror. It is turned around because we turned it around.

This started me all on a whole other frame of thought. This type of questioning is very common when we think about it. Especially in the realm of debate on controversial subjects such as Evolution and Creation. One of the most common questions I hear evolutionists ask creationists is if the earth is so young, how do you explain dinosaurs? Its yet another misleading question! The age of the earth has nothing to do with dinosaurs, only to do with our perception of where they come from. The Bible does not deny the existence of dinosaurs. In fact, several terms used to describe certain types of beasts in the Bible can easily be attributed to what we now call dinosaurs(a term that is rather recent, hence why the term is not used in the Bible). The question builds within itself the assumption that it is supposedly trying to prove, the age of the earth and evolution. Of course its easy to prove something when your explanation assumes as true that which you're trying to prove. Thats why much of modern explanations about the history of the earth are more akin to magic tricks than anything like science. They have very little to do with the actual physics and science of the events but rather the perceptions and assumptions of the ones looking at it. Just keep that in mind. How many times am I doing this myself? How often do you?

For His Glorious Name,

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Setting aside idols

In the summer of '09 I went to Tanzania. We traveled around quite a bit in the western half of the country mostly close to the lake. We shared the Gospel and cleared roads. We built foundations for churches and researched where the Gospel had not reached. In one remote village we had an interesting encounter.

While we were there we taught children Bible stories, baptized new believers, and did all manner of missionary endeavor. I was usually playing roles of support getting things done in the backgrounds this summer, but one day Pastor Mikos one or two other people and I were approached by a man of that village. He wished for us to come to his home so that we may talk.

As we entered his small home I took notice of his sleeping mat on the floor and two even smaller rooms on each side. He sat us down and began to confess his sins. He had two wives and had been very cruel with them. He would often beat them and get drunk as he pleased. As he confessed his sins he began to gather up small vials of liquid that were hanging around the room, especially over openings like windows and doors. He explained to us that he had trusted in these vials that he had purchased for quite a bit of money(in the villages terms he was somewhat wealthy) from a local witchdoctor to keep evil spirits out of his home. But with the Gospel being preached he wanted to put away his old self and become new in Christ. He was confessing his sins and wanted to stop beating his wives, stop drinking, and most importantly he wanted us to dispose of his vials. The things he had put his trust in to keep him safe. As I write this it seems so very difficult to express how moving this was for me as this man put aside all the things that he trusted in to make Christ his only source of protection.

And I have to wonder at times when I put too much trust in things nowadays. We often think idolatry is something of the past in primitive cultures and that the worship of idols is not something we need to worry about in modern culture. But idolatry is alive and well in our culture too as people put their trust in money, insurance, governments, and many other things. I just warn you not to put trust in these things that can never satisfy and will ultimately ALWAYS fail you. Your trust should be in God alone, nothing else can substitute.

For His Glorious Name,

Friday, 30 November 2012

Choosing between good

As we walk along the paths of life we all become familiar with and sometimes focused on choosing between good and bad. We all want to be able to choose that which is good instead of bad. Sometimes, and often times we fail at that so it is a good focus to be able to choose the straight and narrow so to speak. But something that can sometimes be even harder is choosing between two different good things.

Over the past few months I've been growing in my understanding of marital life and learning about my own desires to provide for and love my wife. With that sometimes comes the temptation to work overtime at work. The logic goes like this. I can provide more food, more clothing, more comfort for my wife if we have some more money, which requires working more. I've seen it in so many men's lives as they try to provide for their families in these ways. But it necessarily requires the sacrifice of time, time doing other things like playing with your kids or talking to your wife. You ultimately have to decide which is more important to you, providing for your family materially, or providing for your family by being there for them. Its an issue of balance.

Whats been making me think about this is at my current job they are offering loads of overtime over the past couple months. For the most part I usually just delete the e-mails without reading them, but today I found myself reading the e-mails and briefly considering working on Saturday because our budget has been a little tight for the past couple weeks. But thankfully I realized my error and dismissed the ridiculous idea of giving up a day with my wife especially since the only time we get to spend time together during the week is at breakfast and while in bed. How ludicrous it would have been to give in to that temptation, but then its a very common thing and a very easy temptation to give in to. And it has benign motives too! We have our loved ones in mind when we do these things. I think we just need to think through it more before we unintentionally walk away from our families.

For His Glorious Name,

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Boy Scouts, MacGuyver, and Jesus

I grew up in the Boy Scouts. As a Boy Scout I got to spend a lot of time outside, making things, being resourceful and such. We would go camping, doing survival training, merit badges, and a lot of other things that are involved in Boy Scouts. I also remember one of my favorite tv shows growing up was MacGuyver. One of the reasons was because MacGuyver was the epitome of what a Boy Scout often strove to be. He could take just about anything and use it for something amazing. He would take ordinary mundane objects and give them a purpose that was beyond what we would normally think they're capable of. Thats why he was somewhat of a hero of mine and I have all 7 seasons on DVD, because he could change the status of something from mundane to extraordinary. Maybe you can see where I'm going with this.

And yet he pales in comparison to Jesus. Jesus also takes things that are lowly and gives them a purpose and meaning. But he does it with things that are broken. You see, MacGuyver got to use things that were still functional and served the purpose they were originally made for. A pen still did what it was supposed to do, he just gave it a bigger, more extraordinary purpose. But Christ, he takes us, whom are broken and not serving the purpose we were created for. We are sinners and can not even do what we're supposed to. Yet he takes what is broken and makes us into extraordinary vessels for His glory. Its truly amazing, and thats why Jesus is more than just a hero to me, he is my Savior.

For His Glorious Name,

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Genesis Debate

Ever since Darwin there has been a serious debate going on. How old is the earth? The Darwinist view is of millions and billions of years whereas the Bible claims a measly thousands of years. And over the years the non-Christian world at large has bought into this idea of billions of years rather than thousands of years for the age of the earth.

But there is a bigger problem. We can expect the world outside of the Church to be deceived and led astray by every whim of doctrine or as the ESV puts it, "In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." But there are many who call themselves Christians who also believe in the older age of the earth and that the Genesis account should be read with a grain of salt so to speak. Those days were actually thousands of years. They think evolution is true and that we need to look at Genesis as how you would explain it to those who wouldn't understand that if you told them that, so we use a story to represent it.

I don't debate the topic with a non-Christian because its a distraction by Satan. I'll give my point of view and briefly describe why, but very few are convinced of Christ as Savior by debating the age of the earth. But I will debate it with brothers and sister in Christ whom are deceived by this worldly claim. And here is where I normally start.

If the age of the earth is millions or billions of years and evolution is true. Then Adam must not have been an actual man, but a metaphorical representation of mankind. Most would agree with me on this who claim an evolutionary christian perspective. And most would also agree with me that Abraham was an actual man and not just a metaphorical representation having had children by the names we have recorded and being of a historical nature. So then I move backwards.

Abram's father was Terah and was born when his father was 70 years old.(found in chapter 11). Nahor was the father of Terah when he was 29 years old. Serug was the father of Nahor when he was 30 years old. Reu was the father of Serug when he was 32 years. Peleg was the father of Reu when he was 30 years old. Eber was the father of Peleg when he was 34 years old. Shelah was the father of Eber when he was 30 years old. Arpachshad was the father of Shelah when he was 35 years old. Shem was the father of Arpachshad when he was 100 years old.

If we add those together it was:
70+29+30+32+30+34+30+35+100 = 390 years from the birth of Shem to the birth of Abraham.

Then we go further back, and guess what? There are numbers there too!

Noah was the father of Shem when he was 500 years old(chapter 5). Lamech was the father of Noah when he was 182 years old. Methuselah was the father of Lamech when he was 187 years old. Enoch was the father of Methuselah when he was 65 years old. Jared was the father of Enoch when he was 162 years old. Mahalalel was the father of Jared when he was 65 years old. Kenan was the father of Mahalalel when he was 70 years old. Enosh was the father of Kenan when he was 90 years old. Seth was the father of Enosh when he was 105 years old. Adam was the father of Seth when he was 130 years old.

Lets add these up:
500+182+187+65+162+65+70+90+105+130 = 1556 years from the "birth" of Adam to the birth of Shem. Putting that together it was only 1946 years from Adam to Abraham. Certainly not millions or billions of years.

So the question I always ask is if Adam was a metaphorical man and not a historical one, at what point did these metaphorical men father historical men? Which one was it, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, etc.? The problem is if you take the Genesis 1-3 account as metaphorical and not historical, then you have to throw out the genealogies, and therefore the rest of Genesis as at best misguided and mythological(which is bad enough) or accept them as full on lies. And if that is the case then you might as well throw the whole Bible out.

I think there is plenty of room for debate in the scientific community concerning this issue to take down the lies that Darwinism has started and spread around like a virus, but it truly bothers me that Christians will take their faith and try to fit it into a worldly worldview. But people claiming to be followers of Christ have been doing such things from the very beginning, after all Satan is the father of all lies and seeks to undermine our work in the world to make Christ known.

But with this issue of Darwin vs the Bible, there really isn't any middle ground. They are completely opposing.

For His Glorious Name,

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Power of a Name

As I drove today I was thinking about my own deficiency in remembering names. I remember people. I remember interaction and events. But I have a hard time remembering peoples names! If I'm not around you daily, it is likely I've forgotten your name, not you, but your name. Even roommates and people I've spent a lot of time with I have to take a few moments to remember their names.

I then moved on to why is that? I remember what I've done with them and what they mean to me and I realized its because in our culture we don't give people names based on events or interactions. Sometimes we give people nicknames, but not all that often. For example when Abram became Abraham, that was a meaningful name associated with who he had become. Likewise with Jacob becoming Israel again a new name with who he had become. There are cultures in this world that call you by who you are, not by what name you were given at birth.

And now I think about the names of God. That is ultimately the only way we can refer to him, and also why he has so many names. He is an awesome God so he has many names like Elohim, El Shaddai, El Adonai, El Elyon, Yahweh/Jehovah, Yeshua, and the list goes on. And each of those names describes a part of who he is. There is no one name that can capture his whole nature and so we can't call him by only one name. But sometimes we try. I know I'm most likely to call him Lord and Father than Judge, Savior, Creator, etc. Its a hard thing to keep his whole nature in our minds because its beyond our minds. He can not be contained, and so my attempt to do so is doomed to fail. But thats okay, because ultimately it is an awesome God with many names that describe who he is. And I am thankful for who he is.

For His Glorious Name,

Friday, 16 November 2012

Self-Sufficiency and Independence

These two things, Self-Sufficiency and Independence, are two of the highest ideals in modern American society. Its understandable that they would become so when evaluating the history of our nation. But its gone too far. The founding fathers sought independence from an oppressive regime and self-sufficiency in the sense of being able to provide for ones family using the resources available. Now we seek self-sufficiency in everything and independence from anyonw. Our idea of freedom is the ability to choose whatever we want whenever we want, and it is destroying the notion of freedom that the founding fathers intended.

The theme of these two as is generally accepted now is an illusion. We are not self-sufficient. Name for me anyone who ever didn't need their mother and father to be born? Name for me someone who could provide all their living necessities without anyones help. Now wait a second, I'm not just talking about humanity helping but name me a person that didn't need the resources on the earth, the plants, animals, etc. to survive. Its not possible. Self-sufficiency is an illusion in the ultimate sense and its also against the way the Lord has called us to live. The church is to be interdependent and provide for one another. The church is to care for one another in all senses, spiritual, emotional, physical, etc. And that care is to extend out to others as we take the Gospel to the rest of the world. There is only one who is self-sufficient, Our Lord and God. Jesus our Savior(and the Father and Spirit) is the only one who can claim he doesn't need anyone else to surevive, or exist. He is self-sufficient, but even then has chosen not to be independent. The very nature of the Trinity, a mystery when you really think about it, is an interdependent one. We are not to be independent from one another. We are only to be separate, i.e. independent from the nature of this world. Independent from the evils and sins prolific in our fallen world. We are to be set apart, and that is what it means to be independent in the only sense that pleases God.

For His Glorious Name,

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Motivation and Will

I've recently been thinking about the subject of motivation. Sometimes I have to do something or go somewhere and I lack any motivation to go or do that thing. If you don't know what I'm talking about I'm sure you're not human. We all have those times when we don't feel like doing anything. But we take it further in some areas of our lives. We feel entitled to motivation. A lot of times if we don't feel like doing something we simply won't do it and anyone attempting to compel us to is somehow in the wrong. Or how about the opposite end? What about things people are motivated to do, but shouldn't do? What about people who do evil things, but have an abusive childhood? In some cases people even can get away with things because of their motivations for doing things. But that is where I take issue.

Society sometimes treats people in the same way as animals. When a person is camping and leaves food out and a bear comes and rampages through the campsite, who is at fault? The person who left the motivation for the bear to do what it did. The bear does not have a will. It will act in accordance with its nature and its nature is to eat and be aggressive. That person gave the bear the motivation. But when it comes to our thoughts of justice and human behavior we sometimes take the same approach. The criminal is not at fault, the parents who abused him/her is. I'm sorry, it is a tragedy for children to be abused, but that person had a choice. They have a will, and they chose to act sinfully. Regardless of our past histories we are still responsible for our own actions.

It is because I have a will that I often do things that I have no motivation to do. But not always. I've been failing to regularly run lately and I'd like to blame motivation, but the truth of the matter is I have chosen not to run when I could have chosen to run. It is one of the primary things that makes us humans so complicated creatures. We can do things in spite of all our instincts, expectations, and histories. We can make a choice for good or evil regardless of our past and regardless of our future. Its a frightening yet beautiful thing and its a fact of humanity that theologians and philosophers have struggled with for millenia as pertains to human will and the divine will. And that is another subject that would take a book to scratch the surface. I'll put this much up there though. I believe we have free will, but I also believe God is sovereign. It is the interplay of those two facts that have given thinkers the world around such trouble and I'm not likely to resolve it for people. So go in God's grace and know that He is in control yet desires your surrender and submission.

For His Glorious Name,

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Opposing Values of Truth and Preservation

There is always a tension between idealism and realism. We live in a sinful world and that means there are evil people and terrible atrocities occurring on a daily basis. How we deal with them though is a personal choice and I don't know that I have really made one myself. To be sure in my mind I am quite an idealist. I know that if I was in a bubble and someone were holding a gun up to me and the only way to stop them from killing me was to kill them I would take the bullet. But we don't live in bubbles. Everything we do has consequences for others. If I am killed what will happen to my family? What will happen to the ministry that I'm working in? Thats what people start thinking about in terms of realism.

People sometimes ask the question, if you went back in time and met Hitler as an infant, would you kill him knowing what he would do in the future? Just to avoid the nonsensical temporal loops you'd find yourself in phrasing it like that I'll ask it this way, "If you met an infant and the LORD told you this child would someday bring about the death of millions of people, what would you do?" I don't know that I have an answer to that question, nor do I think I can give one until I'm in situations where I must make a decision.

Dietrich Von Bonhoeffer struggled with this very thing. He eventually took the position that he would never kill a Christian, but those who were clearly evil he would fight against and even kill, people like Hitler. He was part of an underground movement fighting against the Nazis, but to do so he had to pretend to be one. That is where the ground gets very shaky for me. Is it ever appropriate or justifiable to lie in order to do good? I don't see any justification for it in scripture. People often talk about "white lies" as if there is no consequence to some lies. Then others will counter-argue that with things like "Well, when you use hyperboles you're not telling the truth, so it is lying, so if you're strictly against lying you are not allowed to use hyperboles." But thats not really lying either. How I define lying is the intentional misleading or misinforming of another person. When I use hyperboles I am not misleading or misinforming others because they understand the use of hyperboles. It is the same thing with sarcasm. Language is an incredibly complex thing that we use in a variety of ways. But when we give false information intentionally, that is lying and bearing false witness which is one of the ten commandments.

But if I was hiding Jews in my house during WW2 and soldiers came and inspected my home, what would I do? What would I do if they blatantly asked me if I was hiding any Jews? If I hold to my ideals of not bearing false witness, then I can not say no. But if I hold to my values of human life and preservation of all peoples, then one would assume I'd say no. They're mutually opposing one another in these situations and I don't know what I would do. I'd probably make a horrible person to hide people in such a situation unless simply keeping my mouth shut was a viable option. Then I'd do that. I'd keep my mouth shut.

If you're still reading this, then you probably get by now that I don't have this fully worked out even in my own mind and don't intend this to be any kind of prescription for the behavior of others. I hold to the statement that I don't know what I'd ultimately do until I find myself in such a situation.

For His Glorious Name,

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Approaching Marriage

Its coming closer. Only a couple months away. But the waiting is getting harder. The distance is that much more agonizing. I get to talk to Brenda almost every night, but our longing for one another grows deeper and stronger making the time and distance that much harder. It doesn't help that my schedule has lightened up either. Track is over so no commitments there. Comprehensive exams have been taken so no more worries there (well, I don't know whether I passed yet or not!). Its a few seemingly minor details for me and in one month I can finally go to Montana to be with my beloved. But then theres still another month!

In that month we'll be going up to Canada for Eric & Gisela's wedding. I'm sure that will serve to increase our desire to be married as well. I can only imagine the mixture of desire, longing, expectation, excitement, and all other kinds of emotions that will be present in those last few weeks. Its no wonder marriage is one of the pivotal parts of what it means to be human. Birth & Death are things that every human shares, but marriage is almost a universal too. There is no culture that doesn't practice it in some form. I look forward to the day when Brenda ceremoniously walks down that aisle and we are united, one and forever. It will be truly something to remember for the rest of our lives. May the Lord bless us with long memories.

For His Glorious Name,

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Induction, Deduction, and the Truth

I was recently in Saskatoon, Sasketchewan for a Track meet. One of those evenings the tv was on as people did various things in our room. The movie playing was Sherlock Holmes(the first of the two more recent hollywood movies). In the movie, Holmes states something to the effect of "I merely deduced from the facts the conclusion." But there is a big problem with that statement, what Sherlock Holmes does and what people understood deduction to be are two very different things. In fact, this cultural misunderstanding of the difference between deduction and induction(something people don't really know about) is evident in the fact that the movie has Holmes stating it is deduction, when in fact it is induction. You can look up the definitions sometime if you choose, but here is the gist. In reference to logic, deduction is the process of coming to a conclusion that is NECESSARY based on the facts on which the conclusion is based. Induction is a conclusion that may logically and reasonably come from the facts, but is not necessary. Basically, supposing the underlying facts used to make a conclusion are correct, then if it is truly deduction, then the conclusion MUST be true. Otherwise it must be induction, for if the facts are true and the conclusion is false, then there is no necessary connection.

Now this brings me closer to my point for this blog. We live in a culture that highly values logical induction, but masquerades it as deduction. In fact, true deduction is something that is rather rare, for we almost never have all the necessary facts for conclusions. We can make reasonable conclusions and guesses based on the facts we can observe, but the fact remains that we don't know, see, hear, or observe everything and therefore rarely get the chance to truly use deduction. Furthermore, deduction is a rather artificial thing since we only really ever get to use it when solving logic problems or using math. Ultimately thats what deduction truly is, pretty much math. Its a logical mode of thought that puts things into a rather black and white configuration.

I have no particular problem with induction, its what we use the most when trying to think logically, but here is what bothers me. Deduction carries with it the weight that given a set of facts a conclusion MUST be true. This becomes very problematic when people make such claims when in fact their arguments are inductive, and are not NECESSARILY true. Take Evolution for example. People have observed certain facts about the world we live in. They take certain facts that corroborate their hypotheses and using those as a basis for their argument claim to deduce evolution from it. There are two major problems with this from the get-go. First is that they often completely ignore other facts(which negates any claims of deduction). Second is that they claim from these facts their conclusion must necessarily be true, using a mode of thought akin to deduction rather than induction which is what they actually are using.

Induction and Deduction are closely related, after all there is only one minute difference between the two. They are both modes of logic, an approach to understanding the world that much of Western culture has been built upon. Logic in many cases has become synonymous with reason, truth, and correctness. But it is not the only mode of understanding the world, and in itself does not DETERMINE truth. It is a method of understanding truth developed by one culture(or set of cultures) and passed on to others in a way that nowadays logic is often thought of being truth. Its just too bad that so many people are decieved into believing that logic=truth and if something isn't logical, then it must not be true. Don't get me wrong, I use logic all the time. I'm a very logical person using lateral thinking all the time. In fact, much of what I'm saying here is based on logic. I bought a magazine full of logic problems today and enjoy thinking logically. I just constantly need to remind myself that it is only a tool, and not necessarily even the best one for understanding truth and the world around us.

For His Glorious Name,

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Stoicism, Gnosticism, and Spirituality

It has been a while since I have shared any thoughts, almost 2 months exactly. However, as I drove home this evening I was having a bit of a droopy mood, which was kind of odd because I heard a rather invigorating and compelling sermon that makes one think about one's true allegiances. Which got me thinking about my emotions. I'm a man who historically has struggled to understand my own emotions. I have come a long way in this, but I still bear some of the burden of my past being raised in a culture that highly values stoicism. This eventually led me to thinking about the different parts of a human being. In the Bible and North American culture(though subculturally and across cultures the distinctions sometimes are blurred or not recognized at all) we generally categorize the human into 4 parts that interact in various ways, the body, the mind, the soul, and the emotions.

I got to thinking about these distinctions and what it means to be spiritual. What does it mean to be fleshly? Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3:1 says, "But I, brothers could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ."(ESV) This is somewhat dangerous territory as the Gnostics show is historically. The temptation is to conclude that everything of the flesh is evil and only things that are spiritual are right and just and holy. This led to heresies concerning the nature of Christ on earth. So what was the gnostics' mistake? Well, its really one of degree. They took something to its extreme end. Well, if these fleshly things are bad, then all flesh must be bad right? Therefore we should have nothing to do with the flesh. And we still have many of those kinds of thoughts in North American culture.

But things of the flesh are not always in conflict with things of the spirit. Is our desire for companionship and fellowship a fleshly desire or a spiritual desire? Its both. The problem comes when they are in conflict. We can't always have agreement between the mind, the spirit, the emotions, and the body. So what does it mean to be spiritual? It means to choose the spirit above the other aspects of ourselves when they are in conflict. When the body tells you to gawk at the girl across the room, but your spirit tells you it is sin you have two choices. You can be fleshly by gawking, or spiritual by not gawking. Whichever of the two is the impetus for your decisions is what you are. For Stoics, the idea of emotions is like the gnostic idea of the flesh. It is to be avoided at all costs. If a person makes all their decisions based on emotions, we would call them an emotional being. And I myself often find my emotions in conflict with other parts of myself, especially my mind and spirit. But not always.

We have some pretty deep roots in North American culture concerning both gnosticism and stoicism. We highly elevate the mind and the spirit, even within Christendom, and consider emotions and flesh to be evil. Though I might still even say that I would consider the mind and spirit to be more motivating factors for my decisions, to consider the emotions and flesh to be evil is wrong-headed and sometimes dangerous. Here is my problem with it all. If you consider the emotions and flesh evil, what do you do when your whole being is in accord with something? What if something that you decide or are considering or experiencing resonates with all of you mind, spirit, body, and emotions? If emotions and the flesh are evil a priori, then you would likely choose against it just because of their involvement in it. Now I don't think anyone holds to this particular extreme of decision making, but I want to use it to highlight our general misconceptions about everything God has given us as humans. He has made us in the flesh, with a mind, with a spirit, and with emotions.

So a spiritual man is someone who considers the spirit to be the top priority. An emotional man considers the emotions the top priority. A fleshly man think first of the body. And a logical man(though this is not exactly accurate for logic is only one mode of thought, but is usually used generically to refer to things of the mind) considers the mind to be the highest. So ask yourself, are you spiritual?

For His Glorious Name,