Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Interesting feelings...

CHRISTIAN: I know God is real because my feelings lead me to believe in Him.
SOCIETY: That's completely irrational; those feelings cannot be trusted.

How about this?

YOUNG PERSON: I must be the opposite sex trapped in this body because my feelings have led me to this conclusion.
SOCIETY: That's very rational; let's help you explore this path and transition.

I find this rather ironic.

LOGIC: Society is hypocritical and so-called 'professionals' aren't much help.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The "God made me this way" argument

I recently saw a picture of a man holding up a sign which read "God made me an atheist" and it got me thinking.

It's such a cop-out to say that God made us the way we are. Think of the repercussions. What does it mean we're saying?
God made me fat?
God made me to like chocolate?
God made me lazy?
God made me a procrastinator?
God made me to love money?
God made me to love shopping?
God made me to want an expensive car?
God made me to like large houses?
God made me to hate school?
God made me dumb by making me to not like studying?
God made me to hate Muslims?
God made me heterosexual?
God made me an adulterer?
God made me a mass murderer?
God made me a rapist?
God made me this way...


What it all ultimately boils down to is this: we don't want to take responsibility for our actions.

Most people would not allow the "God made me this way" excuse for rapists, murderers, hate-speakers and the like. The vast majority would not allow the excuse for fat, lazy or materialistic people.

But when it comes to sexuality, suddenly it's all about "finding ourselves"... because the current trend is for people's identity to be in their sexuality. Suddenly people like the "God made me this way" excuse, and it's almost taboo to speak against it.

The only way God can "make us" is holy. It's all about permission. God won't interfere with our lives unless we let Him. We have to ask Him, and we have to sacrifice our old way of life. Then we get a better way of life: better morals, better perspective and better purpose.

If we don't want God in our lives, then our influence is unhealthy: we allow ourselves to be influenced by satan. He gets permission to wreak havoc with our lives as soon as we don't want God in charge. As a result, we ultimately only see destruction: destruction of morals, destruction of purpose... and destruction of sexuality.

That's why we call murderous acts "evil". That's why we call rape "evil". "Evil" has come to be an extreme term, but all it describes is a lack of holiness.

It's not "just the way we are". God didn't make us a certain way. We let the evil one do that by not wanting God in our lives. We need to take back control and let God's holiness direct us.

Let's be decent human beings and take some responsibility.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Why we need to be there for people

Just came across the following video. We all have tough times. The world can only be a better place if we just take a bit of time to disconnect with our self-obsessed virtual world and care about the real people around us.

And woe to those who create policies preventing from people helping each other. (A Western adult being friendly to a child he doesn't know?!)

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The crux of the Christian matter

Essentially, when Jesus comes again (either at the end of your life or at the end of the worldly age), he will come to destroy all traces of evil.

This also means every evil part of every person. And then, if there is anything left, that part will be saved and granted life in eternity. Paul writes that some people are saved "only as one escaping through the flames." Whatever remains after the total destruction of evil will be a paradise beyond comparison - and that is the future hope of the Christian.

Now, there are two ways to survive:
  1. Be perfect.
  2. Be clothed with perfection by God (which is through His Messiah).
Unfortunately, option 1 is impossible. Option 2 seems fairly simple: "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." That is, it seems fairly simple until we realise that mere words are not enough. Believing in our hearts that something scientifically impossible is true will go against the grain for many people.

But the knock-on effect when the divine Truth is firmly rooted in our hearts, is that - almost unconsciously - we will undergo a massive life change. Our actions and behaviour will gradually become less 'worldly' and more Godly.

Hence, the Gospel is not just a future hope, but it's hope for now: that even this world can be a better place. More importantly, it's the hope that God can and wants to break into people's lives with supernatural power.

The problem is that the evil forces are trying to silence the work of God and blind people to the glorious Truth. People want to be able to verbally declare allegiance to God, but live an incompatible lifestyle. Such people are still overcome by the lie that an immoral lifestyle is better than putting our lives completely in God's hands.

The worst part is that some churches prevent people from knowing and seeing the glory of God. The leaders of these churches think that God's plan of holding firmly to the Truth will fail. They try to attract large congregations by being more appealing to people, by supporting immoral lifestyles. Such churches might attract numbers but they don't make disciples because they are not teaching people to obey all that Jesus taught.

Jesus warns against such behaviour, yet church leaders often miss the point. They think that the Bible is a stumbling block for people wanting to keep their immoral lifestyle, and so they make their churches like that. The reality is that it is the immoral lifestyle that is the stumbling block for complete (true) freedom in Jesus.

The Anglican church is split for precisely this reason. There is even a picture of a holding a sign which reads: "Proud to be gay... now make me proud to be a Christian." Such a sign shows a complete misunderstanding of Christian teachings. God opposes the proud. God warned the Israelites that pride will cause them to forget Him. Paul says love is not proud. A quick study on the verses talking of pride in the Bible will show that it is not good.

The whole thing is a question of identity.

2 Timothy 3:2-8 says that people will be lovers of themselves, proud, abusive (and throwing insults such as 'bigot' is verbal abuse) and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

People who want to be able to keep immoral lifestyles are not seeing their identity in Jesus. Their identity is in their sexuality. This is demonstrated because they are unwilling to put their sexuality aside for the sake of following God.

Paul says that as Christians, we need to set our hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things. We need to put to death the things of our old, earthly nature. Because, in Jesus, we are a new creation.

So, the question is: why are some church leaders encouraging new creations to live as old creations?

Or, rather: why are some church leaders being the stumbling block which prevents people from seeing the True Glory which is freely available to all who believe in Jesus and make God their life?

Monday, 31 July 2017

The biggest straw man

Having recently watched a video of Stephen Fry's view of God, I remember things about Richard Dawkins too, and it's the straw man argument on a cosmic scale. And here are my thoughts on why:

1. The God of the Bible is difficult to understand entirely. It would be similar to having complete knowledge of the whole of science. Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and says that his working theory can explain how complexity came from virtually nothing, but that explaining how virtually nothing comes from absolutely nothing is the realm of physicists. And yet atheists, knowing that they do not know every aspect of science, treat Christians as if they should know every aspect of God.

2. Atheists often use the argument of: Well, who created God? This only shows an atheist's ignorance that everything we can see, touch, feel and even think must be created or have an origin. It's a logical deduction from the scientific method, which tests what can be seen and touched, and from psychology, which deals with feelings. However, the concept of something existing outside of time (and space) and therefore is not created is alien to science, which is why the question of who created God? keeps coming up, even though it is a non-question.

3. Since spiritual things are not physical, they cannot be tested using physical means, i.e. science. In other words, if the scientific method could be applied to spiritual things, then it would prove that they are not spiritual, but physical. This is why the scientific method cannot be applied to God, and why questions relating to God are philosophical, not scientific.

4. The evil in the world is mistakenly applied to God. Atheists assume Christians believe there is only one supernatural force at work in the world, and that this must be God. In Stephen Fry's view, all the diseases and 'problem of evil' is attributed to God. But Christians believe that all the evil is the work of Satan (and his demons), who set himself up against God and constantly tried to undermine God.

5. The heavenly realm is completely misunderstood by atheists. They set up the one being and assume that this being made everything else in existence. If an atheist accepts the notion that other spiritual forces may be at work (angels and demons), they believe that these forces must have been created by this supreme being, and thus repeat the error of point 2. Many Christians also believe that the angels were created, which only helps an atheist's argument. However, the Bible makes no mention of angels being created (the notion is only inferred from particular verses which have a different context). Like God, the angels exist outside of time and universal creation: they were not created, or rather, the beginning of their existence is the same as the beginning of God's existence.

6. The way God interacts with humanity is also misunderstood. We don't have a divine right to God's blessing. God is not a genie in a bottle who grants wishes: just because we want something, doesn't mean we are entitled to it (a product of the current society). God works in us to develop our faith, perseverance, moral conduct and our sense of purpose for this life. This is why we can't make a formula for how God answers prayer. Hence any questions which relate to God being inconsistent in answering prayer are misguided.

7. The Old Testament is often used to demonstrate the 'evil nature' of God, especially considering the apparent ethnic cleansing which took place. What seems to be not understood is that 'nations' in those times were much smaller and that when cleansing an ideology, all people supporting it must be exterminated. To pick a modern-day example: how will ISIS be defeated? Only by arresting or killing all of its supporters. To leave any of them living free would only allow for the group to resurrect. Or what about the 'militant atheists' who want religion to be extinct (and its supporters shamed)?

The course of human history has much ethnic cleansing and it is only perspective that dictates whether it is a good or bad thing. It is the 'tolerance' society that says ethnic cleansing is wrong (and remember: militant atheism is inherently intolerant). Most people would be glad to extinguish evil. The underlying discussion people shy away from is which evils we want to extinguish or, rather, which acts we will classify as 'evil'. When the debate reaches this level, it is easy to understand the brutality of the Old Testament: to extinguish idolatry, paganism, sexual misconduct, unethical behaviour, child sacrifice, elitism and so on. The result that the Israelite nation failed in their ethnic cleansing mandate, and their own nation became polluted with idol worship, immorality and elitism.

8. Other attributes of this 'straw man' people like to attack are the notions of omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. Essentially, it is the assumption that God can do anything He wants to. Some people try to argue that God has the potential to do unethical things (such as lie) but that He chooses not to. Such an argument raises awkward what if...? questions. More importantly, such arguments are reactionary and perpetuate the assumptions. The truth is, God's power has limits: His power is for the benefit of humanity. Such a question as can God create a rock so large that He can't lift it? is a non-question based on the all-powerful assumption which attempts to make God a contradiction.

Atheists usually enter the God discussion with a variation of the following reasoning:
  • This is what God is like (or something that has happened in the world).
  • Therefore we can make a negative deduction about God.
  • And a 'god' like that isn't one worth believing in.
Unfortunately, people arguing for God often attempt to tackle the second or third points: they reason that the deduction is wrong or that God really is worth believing in (and dedicating your life to) despite a negative attribute.

The reality is that the whole premise for the argument is wrong: it's the straw man fallacy. Most of the time, the 'god' atheists don't believe is also a god most Christians don't believe in either.

Dawkins uses the popular quote: isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? Some people try to argue that we should be agnostic about everything unless there is visual or experimental proof of it (Bertrand Russell's orbiting teapot argument). The whole problem with this line of argument, again, is that it is a straw man. It says God is like something that is make-believe or myth (fairies) or simply an object with no direct implication on the human race (a teapot).

Such debates often get heated and cause much frustration. And it comes from failing to acknowledge the straw man assumption at the premise. Once the straw man is seen for what it is, the existence of a God who personally interacts with His human creation becomes incredibly hard to deny.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Questions for Atheists

Here are some questions I'd love to ask an atheist... not because I'm desperate to 'prove them wrong' but because some aspects of atheism just don't make sense to me.

1. The God-of-the-gaps argument works as follows: there is a gap in scientific knowledge, and that gap must therefore be evidence of the existence of God. But couldn't the argument be turned on its head? Couldn't atheism be described as follows: there is a gap in theological understanding, and that gap will probably be explained by science and is therefore evidence of atheism?

2. If the atheistic position on the origin of life is correct, does that make Occam's Razor a fallacy? (Because it seems that life being created by a 'supreme being' - or God - is a much simpler explanation than the complexities of evolutionary biology... and atheists seem to suggest that the notion of God was made up by people from a more intellectually simple society.)

3. Are atheists aware that due to the nature of God being spiritual and not physical, scientific arguments against His existence is a total fallacy? Arguing for or against God's existence is, by nature, spiritual and philosophical: not scientific.

4. Scientific accuracy seems to depend on whether or not the research is accepted by the scientific community. Given that the majority of the scientific community are atheists, could it not be the case that research which supports a creationist position or a deity will simply be rejected by the community despite being scientifically accurate?

5. Given the ridiculously small percentage of the universe which we understand (and accepting that we're talking about the known universe and that current scientific research is 100% correct), isn't there the chance that scientific research just isn't yet mature enough to give a verdict on the existence of God?

6. Just how does something come from nothing? Or, to use classical philosophy, what is the scientific first cause? (Note: turning this question on its head by asking Who created God? neither negates the question nor disproves the existence of a deity. It serves only as an avoidance technique; a distraction or a diversion. The Christian God is uncreated and exists outside of time. Although this might seem impossible, as hinted in question 1 above, God is not fully understood, which is why a lack of explanation is not evidence for non-existence.)

7. If the scientific method involves the processes of observation, hypothesis, evidence and conclusion, how can this possibly be applied to the origin of life on a planet, without observing or causing a planet to be created and life to begin? Surely this would imply that any supposed scientific theory regarding the origin of life is not scientific and is merely a theory? Especially considering data for such scientific experimentation has only been collected over the past few hundred years and has to be extrapolated backwards in order to invent such a theory.

8. If life has just happened to adapt to the environment of the planet Earth, why isn't there any evidence of life having evolved on other planets (and adapting to those conditions)?

9. Assuming, for a moment, that the evolutionary theory is true, are there any current scientifically observable cases of an evolutionary mutation which would serve to 'advance' the human race? Because, if these mutations are so minute that they are unobservable, wouldn't that give the theory the same credence (or less) than scientific evidence for God?

10. If there really are genetic mutations which advance the human race, doesn't this effectively create an elitist society, with democracy becoming the privilege of the 'advanced humans' and everyone else becoming 'evolutionary waste' and treated as irrelevant? (Richard Dawkins has already made a comment along those lines.)

Note: an answer to the effect of, Well, we just don't have enough information (or done enough research) at the moment to be able to fully answer that question, should only serve to show that science is only ever a working theory until more evidence turns up. Scientists should be very wary of prematurely calling a theory a fact, which is exactly what has happened regarding evolutionary biology and the origin of the universe.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Love will win

With recent terror and criminal activities at the forefront of everyone's mind, the new 'hashtag' #lovewillwin has emerged.

But what kind of love are we talking about? Not all love will win against terror campaigns.

English just has one word 'love' to represent a whole multitude of things. The love I have for sweet food will not win against terrorism. The love I have for my wife will also not win against terrorism. The ancient Greeks had a number of words for love:

1. Eros
From which we get the word 'erotic,' this is the intimate love a person has for their spouse. It was this kind of love which drove the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and was the undertone of the anti-war slogan "Make love, now war."

2. Storge
This type of love describes the strong bond between a parent and child. When a father tells his daughter that he loves her, it does not mean he's an incestuous paedophile: he refers to the storge love, not the eros love.

3. Phileo
From where we get the suffix '-phile': an Anglophile is someone who loves England, or rather, is a friend of England. This is the love between friends. When people sign letters with 'lots of love,' they are not initiating extra-marital relations, they are merely expressing friendship.

4. Agape
This is often referred to as self-sacrificial love. It's the type of love that goes out of its way to care for others. It is the unconditional love that the Bible says God has for the world.

Agape is the only love that will win.
But it's often misunderstood.

Jesus says the greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbour. Or, more correctly, to agape God and to agape our neighbour. The same love we should have of God should be the same love we have for the people around us.

After his resurrection, Jesus seems to ask Peter three times if he loves him. This is actually incorrect. The first two times, Jesus asks, "Peter, do you agape me?"
Both times, Peter responds, "I phileo you."
Then Jesus finally asks, "Peter, do you phileo me?"
At this, Peter must be rather annoyed because he's already told Jesus twice that he has phileo for him, and he repeats it a third time.

Jesus calls us to agape each other. But the Christian church has copied Peter. Today's version of Christianity is full of 'acts of kindness' which, although not a bad thing, is phileo love for others. You would buy your friend a gift, you would take your friend out for coffee or for a meal. Even buying someone a Bible is only a display of phileo. The personal cost is not much, only a bit of money.

Jesus says that no one has greater agape than to lay down their lives for their friends. The love Jesus wants us to have, that his followers should display, is that of denying ourselves and putting first the Kingdom of God.

Jesus showed us how to live: calling for people to repent because the Kingdom is here, and displaying the power of that Kingdom through healings, miracles, casting out demons, raising the dead and so on. Unfortunately, Christian leaders are happy to call people to repent, but the rest of it is too difficult. Those 'other things' might make us look silly. It might draw unwanted attention. It might land us with persecution... and yet Jesus says we are blessed when we are persecuted!

The Gospel of Jesus is not just a 'hope in life after death': it has power now. We are to expect the incredible and ask for the impossible.

If Christians took their call seriously, just imagine the headlines:
"Suicide bomber raised back to life so that he can face justice."
"Driver ploughs into pedestrians: ambulance called just in case, but group of Christians healed all the victims."
"Terrorists hijack plane and crash-land: 3 dead, all terrorists."
"Teenager jumps suicidally from 10th floor: a couple of nearby Christians raise her from death and give her a renewed hope for life."
"Cancer research goes bankrupt: patients flocking to church due to much higher success rates."

The agape love will win. Christians just need to learn to embrace it. That is the Gospel of Jesus. It's what Jesus calls us to do. We need to get back to that: deny our materialist, consumerist culture; accept that some sicknesses really are evil-induced; share our things with no strings attached; learn to agape each other. The true victory is in Jesus, when we learn to agape him.

Expect the incredible; ask for the impossible.