Friday, February 10, 2012

Where Did God Come From?

When I was in grade 12, I took a grade 10-level Auto Mechanics class. Just for fun. Our teacher gave us complete freedom to do whatever we wanted, and had a drawer full of manuals in case we desired to get our hands dirty. He supervised, while reading magazines. At the end of the semester, he held a 30% exam. Our objective? To design and present a new form of transportation.

I chose time-travel.

I must say, my presentation was by-far the most elaborate, compared to the other students'. Some of them had a problem with my transportation method, regardless of my thorough explanations and diagrams of worm-hole technology, combined with a nonconductive salad-spinner design.

Their problem lied within my definition of "transportation".

Since my grades relied on nothing else to pass this class, I challenged every question they had with dribble about string-theory, quantum mechanics, polar-reversal, you name it. I briefed the topics in preparation, betting that their monkey-brains wouldn't understand anything beyond a DeLorean on a train track.

I got an A+ on that project.

Ever wonder about where we came from? Where the universe came from? Before the big bang? I was milling around on YouTube when I came across this comment:
"There are actually a great number of reasons to believe that the universe is a computation and data storage substrate. Scientists don't generally go around putting it like that, but that's because every God-loving moron (incapable of understanding information theory or quantum theory) would ask "whose computer?" It must be God. What annoys me is that religious people can't even understand easy science like evolution, but they think they are experts on reality."
- YouTube Comment by Snakepliskinist
The "data storage substrate" explanation is funny to me, but I've heard more bizarre things. I feel my stomach churn when I read the rest of that though–Christians wouldn't say that... would they? I Google-ed the question "Where did God come from?" and found a Christian site that offered this explanation:
The question is tricky because it sneaks in the false assumption that God came from somewhere and then asks where that might be. The answer is that the question does not even make sense. It is like asking, “What does blue smell like?” Blue is not in the category of things that have a smell, so the question itself is flawed. In the same way, God is not in the category of things that are created or caused. God is uncaused and uncreated—He simply exists.

I have to say, it's hard to pinpoint why I'm more infuriated by this than by the question left unanswered!

The question is flawed? Your argument is invalid??

Needless to say, I still needed to hear something more sane than that, and this video gave me some good insights about my natural curiosity:

"It has often and confidently been asserted, that man's origin can never be known: but ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science."
- Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)
My problem with isn't their answer. My problem is with their smugness of ignorance, circling of reason, and hastiness of quick-wit. Yes that's right, I have a problem with their entire website.

What is the ultimate goal of the question? To satisfy our curiosity, right? What else would we do once we have the answer?

Change in perspective is the key to understanding this question, which is the key to being satisfied with not being able to know the answer.

What I mean is, instead of asking "Where did God come from?" We could ask a broader, less presumptuous question like, "What does God want me to know about him?" If God is ever going to give me any answer, it is going to be something I can grasp; or at least some portion of it that will fit inside my head. I think I would be satisfied with that.

Lofty scientific goals push us further than we are willing to think, which I am completely grateful for. But when we find the answer to this great life question, what will our discoveries have lead us to? Will there be a Christian there saying "I told you so?"
“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior Reasoning Power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible Universe, forms my idea of God.”
- Albert Einstein, as cited in Libby Anfinsen (1995)
Where did God come from? The answer is simply too big for my monkey-brain, but Einstein seemed satisfied with the limits of his understanding enough to be able to appreciate the wonder. I believe there is great work to be done, and the best we can do is unitedly accept what God is showing our best minds through this worshipful adventure. God surely reveals himself through all creation, to everyone at some point. Let him take care of crafting the course of discovery, and let us allow it to happen.

Cosmology (in metaphysics) is the reflection on the totality of all phenomena; science will not cease until it has solved all mysteries. But the Sower of all true science is unravelling them as we speak.
“I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.”
- Albert Einstein, as cited in Clark (1973)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Jesus Conspiracy

Did Princess Diana fake her own death to escape the public eye? Or was she killed by a rogue element of the British secret service?

If you agree with one of these theories, there's a good chance you'll subscribe to both even though one suggests Princess Diana is alive, the other dead, a new study indicates.

It's known that people who believe one conspiracy theory are inclined to endorse others as well. But new research shows that conspiracy theorists aren't put off by contradictory theories and offers a reason why.
"They're explained by the overarching theory that there is some kind of cover-up, that authorities are withholding information from us," said Karen Douglas, a study researcher and reader in the school of psychology sciences at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom. "It's not that people are gullible or silly by having those beliefs. … It all fits into the same picture."
- Excerpt from Is This Article Part of a Conspiracy?
My question is, what are the implications for having multiple theories about Jesus? Could it be possible to believe multiple truths about him?

Did Jesus die on the cross and rise again three days later? Or did he fake his death and live a secret life?

Dan Brown's book ignited a conspiracal revolution surrounding the life of Jesus. Suddenly, it wasn't clear what was fact or fiction; Gnostic Gospels were surfacing, giving a notion that we had all been duped. The greatest fear for the entire future of Christianity was being realized. It was obvious what the implications were for believing he lived a secret life. But the question everybody had was, what are the implications if Jesus didn't actually die to begin with? And if so, did he give up his life willingly? To Christians, this is more important than his dying at all. So what are the implications? According to the Bible, he would be a fraud, and would never develop a following from anyone claiming the Bible as truth–certainly not to the extent of martyrdom as many experienced.

Was Jesus' death and resurrection a conspiracy theory?
A conspiracy theory is defined as a proposed plot by powerful people or organizations working together in secret to accomplish some (usually sinister) goal (Coady, 2006; Douglas & Sutton, 2008; Goertzel, 1994).
Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories
The obvious question based on this definition is whether or not Jesus was powerful, and if his goal was sinister. The following is an excerpt from Flavius Josephus, a 1st century Jewish historian, and his account of Jesus' crucifixion.
Flavius Josephus

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named for him, are not extinct at this day.
- Jewish Antiquities by Flavius Josephus, Book 18, Ch.3, Par.3
The account seems to suggest that Jesus was wise and influential, and the principal men suggested that he deserved death by crucifixion. Assuming this account is true, the only ones to see him alive on the third day were those that loved him at first. He also mentions the tribe of Christians not being extinct. Early Christians believed that he said he would rise from the dead as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things.

Being that the Bible is arguably biased at best, I'm trying to go as far as I can to rationalize this without using it as a source (other than for Jewish/Christian tenet reference). It obviously corroborates everything Josephus said, even if parts of his account have been tampered with (another conspiracy theory).
Jesus Tried By Pilate

Let's go back to the principal men. Why did they suggest to Pilate that Jesus deserved death? Were they considered powerful? Could their goal have been sinister? Josephus seems to paint a pleasant picture of Jesus in that first sentence. What would he have done to deserve death? Could he have been a threat to the principal men?

Jesus was a Jewish teacher, this meant that he taught in the synagogues of Jerusalem. The principal men, or members of the Sanhedrin, legislated all aspects of Jewish religious and political life.

Josephus said that Jesus drew many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles to himself. It is a known fact that Jews had a low estimate of a Gentile's character. Conversely, they were admitted into synagogues if they kept all the rules (Isaiah 56:6-7).

I believe this is as far as I can go to draw any reasonable conclusions without a motive.

What would be the motive for Jesus and his followers?

What would be the motive for the Sanhedrin?

Who is more likely to need a cover-up?

Monday, February 06, 2012

My Theological Worldview || Now and Then

You Scored as Emergent/Postmodern
You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
Classical Liberal
Neo orthodox
Roman Catholic
Modern Liberal
Reformed Evangelical

My Comments:
I'm not sure how accurate this test is, since I don't consider myself to be Emergent or Postmodern, as I tend to disagree with a lot of what teachers say from those camps. But, it is interesting for me to reflect on the last time I took this same test.

As far as being alienated from older forms of church, I agree that they don't connect to modern culture very well. But that's assuming that the church hasn't evolved to meet that younger generation. Jesus is never out-dated, and neither is his Gospel; but that doesn't mean that communications technology and music doesn't need to evolve. We need to be spiritually conservative, but culturally liberal.

Nobody knows the whole truth about God. Dialogue will certainly help us learn more, as God meets individuals in different ways. But the Bible gives us a four-dimensional perspective of Jesus, who ultimately shows us what God is like (John 14:9).

Evangelism should take place within relationships; it's never worked so well otherwise. I'd like to expand on this, but for now I'll just say that evangelism is a delicate subject for me. I understand the damage that can and has been done in the name of God, and the more I can distance myself from that, the better I feel about how I share my faith.

The church should be a place where people can feel safe to ask questions. I fully agree with this, and currently align myself with the kind of church that is strong in doing this. Judgement is reserved for God, not man.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Out of Exile || A Blog About Blogging

I think I'm going to start blogging again. If I do, I'll be using appropriate grammar and capitalization from now on. My previous blog-style method of "capitalization reserved for 'God' and 'Jesus'" is a little passé for my liking nowadays. Furthermore, I believe in communication, therefore necessary to tell my story the best I know how—and I know how to use grammar. And I think it'll be a little easier on the eyes. ;)

It's been almost 5 years since my last blog, so I've spent the last couple days redesigning this thing. My goodness, has technology evolved! Last time I blogged, I didn't have Facebook, or a smartphone. I've just been thinking about all the changes in my life since I've been on here—don't even get me started on my theology.

Hopefully I'll get to embellish on that last point a little more in the next little while, but for now I thought I'd stick to the easy topics. My last blog post (circa 2007) talked about a new job at Everlasting Moments. I served 5 years working there, which came to an end in September of last year. I've since been working at The Meeting House in Oakville, as a Video Editor. There is a story that goes along with that, purely God at work in my life, but stay tuned for that one.

Other life events for me have included getting married, moving a number of times, attending new churches, travelling, starting a business, and not blogging about any of it (sorry!).

If you are interested in the details from the aforementioned marriage, you can check out Laura and my wedding website here.

I've added pictures to my blog. Like this ^ one!
I should mention that I've taken the time to "enhance" my blog from it's previous state; meaning, I've gone through each post and upped the font size a few notches, reformatted all of them, added pictures to each and every one of them, and changed the whole look of the blog. It's even dynamic so you can switch the layout if you disagree with my taste in blogs. I even added labels to each blog based on topics covered, and you'll notice a handy-dandy search bar at the top, which can be used to search for labels you see listed at the bottom of each post (not that you need me to tell you that, you hipster, you!).

My hope was that by dressing things up and making it look pretty, it might be easier for me to keep this up.

One other thing I've noticed, looking back at my previous blogs, is that my worldview has changed a lot since I started doing this. I would even go so far as to attribute keeping this blog to the development and continuation of my faith. It has helped me keep track of where I've come from, who I am becoming, and how I am getting there. So how could I give that up now? My hope is that you would encourage me to keep this going, and if you've discovered this for the first time, and you know me, well, reading anything I've written here might explain my expletive personality and abhorrent behaviour. In fact, I'd love for you to find something I said, and ask me if I'd say that now! If you have that much time to waste, that is.