Schlaraffenland

30 01 2012

The rivers run with milk, honey and wine.  The fish that swim within them are already breaded and fried.  Anyone who wants to eat one need only open his mouth and a fish jumps right out of the water and into the hungry person’s mouth.  The birds that fly through the air are already cooked, prepared and ready to eat.  A person need only lay down a plate, and a chicken will walk onto it and lie down (they come in several breeds, including barbecue, kung pao, cashew and southern fried).  Houses are made of food.  If a person  wants ham, he need only lean over and bite a wall.  All trees provide all kinds of fruit, all of which are low-hanging, all of which will fall to the ground at a person’s wish, which is a very necessary thing, because the inhabitants of this land are always lying flat on their backs.  They probably could not rise if they wanted to.  In this land, all work is a sin, and not just on the Lord’s day.

This is Schlaraffenland, literally meaning Land of the Lazy Monkeys.  Fortunately, I can say I did not invent this fabulous land.  I should be embarrassed if I did.  The tale originated in Germany around 1494, and time has only made it worse.  Luckily, the tale never made headway into English-speaking cultures.  The point of the story is simply to satirize paradise.  We think of the evils of our world as including hard labor and a struggle to survive.  Hence, the logical extreme would be a place of absolutely no work, and no struggle to survive at all.  We do tend to think of work as a drudgery, and we do tend to think of Heaven as a permanent place of retirement.  Perhaps we ought to reconsider.

In truth, the tale of Schlaraffenland did not go far enough.  If we really need not work to survive, if we need not do anything, and if God provides absolutely everything we need at all times, then Schlaraffenland is simply an arduous place to have to spend eternity.  The real absolute zero-cost land of plenty is a brain connected to life support.  After all, if one must eat, then one must perform the task of chewing and digesting.  Then, it follows that we must do the unthinkable, which is to say that we must poop.

We are here, somewhere in the middle, between life-support, where life is absolutely effortless, and a world like Mars, Venus, the Sun, a comet, or pretty much the entire universe, minus Earth, where life is basically impossible.  One of the things I get a lot from atheists is the observation that life on this ball of dirt is not only a struggle, but an actual battle against other species and even each other for our very survival.  This is true, but the fact that a battle can be fought at all, with any hope of victory, implies that the opportunity has at least been provided, and we must seize that opportunity to yield an outcome, which just happens to be survival.  I’m not sure exactly what they expected from a created universe, but if they expected God to provided us with absolutely everything, with the food already in our bellies and the sun always warm upon our faces, then what, exactly, were we meant to do with all of our free time?  Really, if we think about it, ease of living is just a point along a broad spectrum from a dead rock to a celestial tube of life pumping directly into our brains.  If the atheist would say that the current struggle is evidence of no created design, then, likely, a much easier world could yield the same view, all the way up that spectrum, until we’re all on life-support and there’s nothing more for us to want.

Someone had to work to design and create, ship, distribute, sell and deliver that thing you’re staring at, called a monitor.  If there had been a creator, then you’d think he would have had the foresight to have monitors growing everywhere out of the ground.  Trees have a fairly complex design, but merely having masses of lumber harnessing solar energy, growing from the ground and reproducing copies of themselves hardly seems sufficient.  Trees ought to be able to connect to the internet so that they can play a game of reversi with you (a good and proper use of sophisticated technology, really).  When is it enough?

The truth of it is that the Bible never promised that Heaven would be an iron lung, a mechanical heart and some I.V. bags.  I hope that comes as no surprise to anybody.  All we were promised was much greater prosperity, better opportunity, and easier labor.  That’s all.  The truth of it is that the Bible tells that life on earth is a bit harder, because we’re not exactly little saints down here.  Take a drive down the freeway tomorrow and try to convince yourself that we’re all a bunch of nice little angels.  You didn’t scream profanities for nothing.  Life is harder, but life is not impossible.  Now that we’ve topped seven-billion people on this planet, I think it’s safe to say that life on Earth is not too hard.

So, exactly how well-tailored to our existence must life be for us to conclude that maybe things were engineered that way?  For the skeptic, intelligent design will always seem a little lacking, here or there.  The fact is that the human may be very intelligent, but we’re built like wimpy, hairless, defenseless bipeds.  Well, the Bible says we’re built in the image of God, which essentially means that we were designed more for what we look like than what we are capable of.  It’s a priority of form over function.  Fur, claws venom and fangs are all very good for survival, but they don’t contribute much toward making a man look more like God.  Yes, I know that many think of God as an amorphous blob.  One person’s fancy is as good as any other’s, so I suppose the claim that God has a humanoid form is no less valid than the claim that he’s shaped roughly like an amoeba.  Christians make an exception for the form of a person.  The intelligence of this design is a little more artistic and a little less utilitarian.  Now, if we had really evolved from apes, or whatever simian beast they haven’t yet debunked, then we might expect to be fully loaded with all of the latest weaponry.  Evolution is always strictly utilitarian, with no exception, so I’ll leave it to them to explain how the heck a smart monkey who looked like he just got let out of Auschwitz after being de-fanged, de-clawed and cleanly shaven could survive on his wits alone.  We’ll experiment by taking some fool off the street, or the reader, if he wishes to volunteer, and dropping him naked into the middle of a forest with nothing but his wits, and we’ll see how long he survives.  A well-trained survivalist might make a year, but I’ll give it a couple of weeks at best before the average chump finds himself on his face sucking dirt.  If the early human survived strictly by wits, and if those wits were so far superior that he could cast off every natural advantage in favor of wits, then I must say that he must have been way smarter than Einstein.  I can’t imagine Einstein lasting naked and alone in a forest, though it may be that I have trouble imagining Einstein naked in the first place (man, what a thought.  I should have left that one alone!).  Then, we would have a very intelligent early human who was even more keenly aware of his doom than our poor naked Einstein ever was.

Your smart phone can make phone calls, send text messages, play games, browse the internet and take pictures, but it can’t give you a sponge bath, double as a cereal bowl or brush your teeth in the morning.  Dang, what a lame rip-off!  I could have created as much by smashing two rocks together!  Right?  If I can find something that it can’t do, then it must not be intelligently designed, right?





Modernists’ Angels

5 04 2011

Oh, but the modernist can accept angels, only on his own terms.  Robin Parrish, a current writer of Christian fiction, or, I should say, writer of fiction marketed as Christian (according to him),  wrote a novel called Nightmare, essentially a fictionalized telling of various known ghost stories from around the continental United States.  What, at first, appears to be a very pre-modern plot about angels, demons, ghosts and other paranormal phenomena, ends in a climax of an entirely modernistic nature.  In his story, men have learned how to harvest and bottle the human soul.  All of this requires special materials, special machinery, several hundred life-support systems and a full lexicon of spirit-controlling hieroglyphs.  In essence, he took the magic of the supernatural and brought it under the dominion of everyday science, though it be a purely imaginary one.  Somehow, when the world of angels and demons falls into the realm of the test tube and the litmus paper, it ceases to be the very thing that made it special: it ceases to be magic.

The modernist will forever reject the supernatural, until he finds a way to manipulate it and control it, just like so many other things.  Then, not only will he believe it, but he will state that the existence of such things are an absolute fact.  He will not be reverent of them, and he will teach us to be equally irreverent.  Fortunately, the supernatural lies forever outside of his grasp.  Spiritual things are not physical, therefore they cannot be studied as physical things.  A permanent barrier leaves the modernist in ignorant bliss, while protecting us from yet another technology that threatens to wipe us off the face of the earth.

Occasionally, we may meet a student of public broadcasting who will tell us that the Bible could not have been accurately copied for thousands of years.  He tells us that we accept it blindly, on faith, that we call it inerrant simply because we want to believe that it is so.  The quickest way to shut him up is to tell him that there is a field of science called textual criticism, whereby the oldest codices, actual thousand-year-old parchment, are compared with each other to determine what the original text actually said.  Considering that our recent translations are based on that very same science, he doesn’t have much to stand on.  He puts his faith in science.  More to the point, he puts his faith in processes subdued by mortal men.

Magic can be seen simply as technology that is not understood or fully grasped by the human mind.  The assumption is that it actually cannot be contained.  Take a person from a thousand years ago and go on a walk through a field just as the pop-up sprinklers activate.  To him, that’s magic.  Mushrooms mysteriously sprout from the ground and begin watering the plants.  Such a person would either be struck dumb or run in terror.  The monitor in front of your face, the ability to talk with people anywhere in the world, the chance to board a flying airship and travel the world, such things are magic…no, they’re just technology.  Ah, but if I could say the magic word and turn you into a toad, now that would be magic.

The problem with magic, real magic, is that not even the person wielding it has a complete grasp on what it is she’s doing.  The witch uses superhuman powers, she thinks, but she does not reconcile the fact that she is only human, and she does not understand her work well enough to think of it as technology.  If it seems like magic to her, then it’s because it really isn’t her magic.  It’s the magic of a demon.  If it’s yours, then it isn’t magic to you.  If you think you wield magic, then you aren’t really the one wielding it, sucker.

On the other hand, the modernist wishes to turn all things into technology, or else reject them.  Hence, the modernist would take that which is not his and possess it.  That which he could not possess, he would reject as mere myth.  Here we have the original sin repeated in Technicolor.  The domain of God is…well, he has no domain, in the modern mind.  Is the spirit the possession of God?  If so, then it does not exist, and if not, then we can manipulate it, harvest it and do what we want with it.  That is to say that a modernist can deal with angels only if he can find a way to make an angelic handgun and hold them for ransom.  So long as he is helpless in the world of the spirit, he is certain that the spirit does not exist.  Miracles follow the same line of thinking.  Miracles that come from God are fake, to the modernist, but miracles that come from men are real.  The only difference is in the possession.  God gave us the whole earth and everything on it to subdue and claim dominion.  Yet, we would have what God has not given us, or, having failed at that, we would reject the very existence of the thing that we cannot accept, the thing that we cannot have.

If you could put a demon in a bottle and sell it at the dollar store for a buck, then this world might believe in demons.  If the demon could put you in a bottle and sell you at the market for half a farthing, then you only need medication.  It’s all in the wielding of power.

This world does have its own version of the angel, though.  It’s called the outer-space alien.  In it, you have an intelligent creature from without, influencing us with power that we do not have, formed in an image that we have not learned, but the alien creature lives by technology, and that technology can be learned.  The difference between the alien and the angel is in the potential to subdue.  It’s all in the wielding of power.  The modernist can accept the alien, because the modernist can have some hope of assimilating its magic and subduing it.  No such hope exists over angels.

The modernist is obsessed with power.  The modernist does not want a God that he must fear.  He wants the whole Garden of Eden, its forbidden fruit, the angels and God, himself.  What he can’t own, what he can’t hope to own, he would rather pretend does not exist.

Hat tip to Nina Stone.





A Couple of Curses

5 01 2010

“Getting old is the pits.  Don’t ever do it if you can help it,” my dad always used to say.  The irony, of course, is that I can’t help it.  It’s one thing that science still hasn’t cured, and I’m not so sure they ever will.  It comes in two parts, really.  The first is the curse of Genesis 3:19, and the second is the curse of Genesis 6:3.  It’s a pity that we failed to get past the sixth chapter without incurring not one, but two curses.

There exists one overriding principle that acts upon all things, living and non-living, that causes all things to tend toward disorder.  This is the force of entropy, and it acts upon our bodies every day, in ways that cannot be completely remedied.  Our teeth wear out.  Our synapses accumulate junk.  Most cells cannot be replaced, if destroyed.  Still, our bodies are astoundingly resilient.  If this were the only problem, then current theory holds that people would live in the range of a thousand years.  Despite that fact that our environment works tirelessly to tear us down, we could hold up for many more years than we do.  This curse of entropy was the only one that the antediluvian people knew, and they lived for hundreds of years.  Something happened to change human lifespan to what we know today, and that change began to take place around the time of the flood.

The first curse is well-known.  Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit, and death entered the world.  Thorns and thistles grew where they did not belong, and food came by much work.  Not only were the people affected, but the whole world was affected.  Everything was cursed.  Yet, they lived over nine hundred years.  In Genesis, chapter six, humanity’s hope for longevity was sharply curtailed.  God said that he would only tolerate people for 120 years, and many take that to mean that the Great Flood was to take place after that term.  That may be true, however, the human lifespan also began to diminish at that time.  Today, the hard limit to the human lifespan is about 120 years, and it isn’t because the environment is acting more strongly upon us.

For those of you who think that God would never do harm to anyone, let’s just make one thing clear.  Within each of us is a ticking clock with a time limit, counting down our self-destruction.  This is a scientific fact.  The reason that we outlive our dogs is not because we have better genes than they do.  We are not more robust.  In fact, we are utter weaklings relative to most species of our category and size.  The reason we live so much longer than dogs is simply that we were made to do so.  People have mapped out the human genome, and they seem to know all of the information stored there, but they have yet to understand why some genes are used and some are not  within any given cell.  Generally, this is a beneficial trait.  If every cell used every gene that it had at its disposal, then we would all die.  Cells need to specialize, and that means that not every cell can do everything.  Unfortunately, with old age, cells begin to do less and less.  They disable even the genes that they need to use.  All of that information is still present and intact, but the body ignores it.  Nobody really knows why.

Within each of us is a biological clock set for destruction.  It just happens that we were given more time than our dogs.  Make no mistake about it, though, that there is a definite intent in this.  Entropy may destroy us slowly through random external effects upon us, but this timer is a deliberate function meant to kill us.  There is nothing random or incidental about it.  Evolutionists cannot explain it, because there is no reason why a body should choose to end itself rather than live to make more offspring.  Yet, as the curse of entropy was placed not only on people, but also on everything else, so, too, was this biological timer.  Your dog has you to thank.

At about the age of sixty, things begin to happen.  The weakest among us begin to kick the bucket.  This is only the beginnings of the event, though.  Between the age of seventy and eighty, humanity takes a nose dive.  By seventy-five, half of your peers will be dead.  By age eighty, only the strongest survive.  The mortality curve looks something like a waterfall, starting gradually at first, then dropping suddenly.  Between the age of 80 and 120, the attrition rate becomes linear, rather than hyperbolic.  This means that no matter how many people there are on earth, or how long we wait, we’re not likely to see anyone reach 130.  Though it may have been beaten a few times, just barely, the hard limit still looks very much to be 120.

I hear so often about how modern medicine has enabled people to live longer lives.  This notion is used often in the political arena, especially around the subject of health care.  I have personally studied graveyard statistics and followed obituaries, and I can honestly say that the death curve of the 1800s looks very much like the one of today.  Modern medicine has eliminated a large number of childhood, infant and other early deaths, but death by old age has remained constant.  People simply aren’t hanging on longer at the end of life now than they did two-hundred years ago.  That clock still ticks the way it always did.

So, why did God do it?  Cursing humanity with eventual death through entropy wasn’t enough, apparently.  Nine-hundred years must have been long enough to make people feel like they were going to live forever.  “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal….”  The end was not in sight.  People were not conscious of their own mortality.  Consequently, they fell to the basest of depravity.  The age of the antediluvian race ended with the age of the Nephilim, a time of giants and sorcery.  It’s like telling a child that he’s going to get spanked when he gets home, and then he disobeys again before he even gets home.  The punishment had to come earlier than originally planned.  With mortality comes the anticipation of the afterlife.  Your dog dies younger, so that you might be made more conscious of your own mortality.

Your dog would hate you if she only knew.





Parthenogenesis

22 12 2009

One of the most common ideas about the virgin birth, if not the most common idea, is that Christ was conceived of a human egg and a divine…sperm.  However, the earliest of Christians did not think this.

In the time of Christ, and in the time of the prophets who foretold of the virgin birth, it was solely believed that the man was the carrier of a fully fertile, “seed.”  The woman was thought to provide no genetic component, inasmuch as they knew of genetics.  She was the fertile ground within which the seed was planted.  In fact, the word, “semen,” literally means “seed.”  While we know that traditional reproduction involves the union of two lineages, they had thought that all life was patrilineal, descending strictly through the men.  What is the significance of this?  It means that, as far as all parties were concerned, Jesus was as unique a human as Adam was, being without any parents.  This is somewhat difficult, considering that the messiah was supposed to come from the line of David.  In a sense, he did come from that lineage, both through Mary and Joseph, but he was genetically not descended from either.  That was what people who believed in the virgin birth believed about Jesus’ bloodline.

Let’s look a little into this.  Here we have the problem of original sin, the belief that because we were descended from Adam we were born already condemned and full of evil.  The exact reason for this is not clear, but what was clear to the early church was that, if Jesus was not really descended from Adam, then he must not have had original sin.  He was the world’s third un-fallen person, ever, after Adam and Eve.  What they also believed was that because he was without Adam’s fallen nature, he was sinless, and therefore capable of atoning for our sin, like a bull without blemish.  To further add to this, he was the Son of God, which meant that he could atone for all sin for all time.  He was a new human, fresh out of the package with no spiritual inheritance, other than the one he received from his Father in Heaven.

Now, fast forward to the discovery of the human egg.  Upon the Christian world was thrust the burden of determining whether Christ was conceived without both sperm and egg, or just without sperm.  If he was of Mary’s egg, then he was absolutely born with all of the genetic flaws accumulated throughout history to that point.  If he was from her egg, then he was not the spotless lamb that people took him for.  People would say that sin and physical flaws have nothing to do with each other, but I would say that the two are intrinsically connected.  You cannot have one without the other.  Death is just a lethal accumulation of physical flaws.  Death is the wage that comes from sin.  Therefore physical flaws arise because of sin.  Had the original people remained sinless, then they would have remained perfect, free from injury, illness and death.

When the ancient Israelites were commanded to sacrifice a spotless healthy bull for the atonement of their sins, they were being commanded to select the beast based on physical traits to serve a spiritual purpose.  God did not command them to find a bull that was without sin.  He told them to find one that was healthy, and by inference far from death.  Sin is our divergence from the will of God.  Entropy, sickness, mutations and death are all physical divergence from the perfect state that Adam and Eve knew before the Fall.  Therefore, to be that perfect sacrificial bull, Christ had to be without sin and without physical defect.

The first thing to change this was the crucifixion and all of the torture that went with it.  As he accepted the sin of the world onto his shoulders, he also took the burden of death and destruction.  As he was physically ripped to shreds, he was spiritually ripped to shreds.  As he physically overcame death, he spiritually overcame sin.  The two go hand in hand and are inseparable.

What, then, shall we say?  Was he already suffering the wages of sin and physical injury before the whip crossed his back?  This could hardly be true.  If it were, then we would have no hope.  We would still be as damned as the day Eve took that fruit.  If a perfect sperm fused with an imperfect egg, they would not form a perfect human, but an imperfect one.  The early church put the hope of their eternity into the very fact that Christ had no human ancestors, and Mary was only his surrogate, adoptive mother.  They saw him as an original human, without original sin, come to take away the sins of the world.  I can say this with absolute certainty.  Why should we change from this perspective?  They were not wrong.  God save us if they were.





Epignosis

14 11 2009

bowlby's monkeyIf I had not known better, if I had to look at this world without the aid of scripture and verse, I would have likely been sucked into the brainwashing influences of atheistic public education.  Then again, perhaps not.  The complexity of life on this Earth is amazing.  It screams of an intelligent designer, especially when disorder is the juggernaut that trumps all.  I do make arguments for the existence of a Creator, but it is not a very intellectual pursuit.  I might as well make arguments to show that the sky is blue.  It’s what I write about when I have a bad case of writer’s block, but I feel the need to put something down.  It’s too easy.  Evolutionists have inadvertently resurrected the old mythologies, that the Earth spontaneously formed out of chaos, that life just happened to appear all by itself.  This is all fine for a work of fantasy fiction, but it doesn’t belong in any serious text about real life.  My finger is far more sophisticated than the computer that it types on.  Both demonstrate design.  There’s no getting around it.

 If I had not known better, if I had to see this world without any Christian background, I would have seen that humanity has a need for a god, or God, whichever the case may be.  Seemingly every culture throughout all time has worshipped something.  In desperation, they have even carved out gods from wood and stone, just so that they could have something to which they bow down and worship.  It’s not unlike a man stranded on a desert island, so desperate for companionship that he draws a face on a soccer ball and talks to it.  In the absence of the real thing, we forge a pathetic substitute.  Even the atheists, who claim to have no god, waste so much good paper to write about how Evolution “designed” the eye, or what “purpose” it had in “making” colorful feathers on a tropical bird.  If I were a new observer, I might wonder who this Evolution god is.  He sounds very much personified.  With time, he might evolve into an idol.

 A scientist named John Bowlby cruelly experimented with macaque infants, giving them wire mothers to cling to.  The young monkeys desperately needed the affection of a mother, so they sought this relationship even from a cold inanimate substitute.  This is remarkably similar to the creation of a cold lifeless god of stone.  What becomes abundantly clear is that we have a desperate need for God.  If we can’t find a real god to worship, then we make a sorry imitation of one and bow to it.  However, every need has a solution.  We hunger, because there is food, and we need it.  We thirst, because there is water, and we need it.  We need friendship, because there are other people in the world, and we benefit from being with them.  Not one single human need is without some means of fulfillment.  Truth is, we need God so badly that we’ll foolishly worship a mannequin, if need be.  We need friendship so badly that we’ll talk to thin air, if it comes to that.  We need food so badly that we’ll eat a boot, if nothing else is available.  We needed our parents so badly that we would have clung to a wire mother draped in terrycloth, if that was all we had.

 Our need of God testifies to his existence.  Our intelligent design testifies to an intelligent designer.

 If I did not know better, I would say that God had abandoned us.  In some respects, the deists are not at all unreasonable in their claims that God does not interact with this world.  This world, ingenious as it is, is winding down like a spring-loaded toy.  Entropy is only increasing.  No external source of life seems to be entering this world.  All of nature is busy cannibalizing itself, one animal devouring another, scraping up every last available source of life and burning it for fuel while it lasts.  God apparently loved the sparrow enough to make it with a stunning complexity and the ability to sustain itself in an environment not made for that express purpose.  The seed was meant to become a plant, but the bird was equipped to use that for food.  Unfortunately, the hawk was equipped to use the sparrow for food.  Every creature, as it exists, is a marvelous creation, made with loving care, but God seems to sprinkle no flakes into our fishbowl.  We are left to devour other life forms, until the system burns itself out.

 There exists an unmistakable chasm between God and us.  Whatever activity God had in the world in times past, it appears to be a one-time event.  The colossal act of creation appears to have stopped.  Forget what they taught you in school; we are not evolving to a better state.  In fact, we are gradually accumulating genetic flaws, and none of them have ever improved us.  The very fact that priests of old had to make idols in the first place is a minder of our want.  People who have chicken sandwiches don’t eat leather boots.  The problem with any need is that we cannot let it remain unquenched without disastrous consequences.  Bowlby’s monkeys were so maladapted and insecure, owing to the uncaring nature of their false mothers, that they were terrified of other monkeys.  It’s like us, spiritual beings, trembling at the sight of an angel, or quaking at evidence of a demon.  The monkey screams at the approach of its peer, as if to say, “Oh, my gosh, it’s moving!!”  Take away its wire mother and it curls into a ball and hides its eyes.  Without affection from its mother, its emotional state is permanently in ruins.  It cannot cope with life.  So, too, without God, we suffer our own consequences.  Our behavior is massively affected.  Our development is thwarted.

 The atheist asks why there is so much evil in the world, and he concludes that there must be no God.  In a sense, there must be some truth to that.  God, apparently, has cursed this world and turned his back on us.  However, the atheist fails to acknowledge that, while God has clearly forsaken this world, he evidently had a hand in its creation, and we desperately need him.  Buddhism, on the other hand, fails even to recognize the problem, while attempting to provide a solution.  It gives us some eight-fold path, tells us to live right, and sends us on our way, without addressing the real issue.  Islam sees the problem, but fails to provide a solution.  In the end, we are still cut off from God, and we have no idea if we will ever find our way back.  We can’t even know if we’re good enough Muslims.

 Every philosophy (they say) seeks to answer these questions:

 Who are we?

 Why are we here?

 Where are we going?

 We are children lost in a crowded shopping mall without our mothers.

 We are here because our mothers brought us here for one reason, then lost us before fulfilling that reason.

 We are slowly going insane.

 If I didn’t know better, I would say that we have a supernatural soul.  It’s one of those things you don’t need a Bible to know.  My body is a machine, and nothing more.  There is no earthly explanation for why I am living life through a machine.  If I could explain that, then I would know what it is that prevents me from living life through some other body, yet enables me to live life through this one.  Therefore, we have something, or, at least, I have something that goes beyond the physical world, something that is the most defining characteristic of my identity.  I have a supernatural soul.

 We are physical beings with a spiritual essence.  We are cut off from God.  We need God.  We were created by an intelligent mind.

 I applaud Christianity for addressing all of these issues.  It sets the stage with a divine creator.  It quickly identifies the pervasive problem that leaves us groveling before teachers, priests, statues, televisions and rock stars.  God created us, and we turned against him.  Our sin separated us from him, and he cursed our world.  It satisfies that need by providing us with the Holy Spirit and communion with God.  It also gives hope of future reunion with God.  To go even further, it identifies the supernatural human spirit, which continues to exist even beyond the grave.

 Who are we?  We are the children of God, made lovingly in his image.

 Why are we here?  We were separated from God at birth, and we need to use this scarce time to find our way back.

 Where are we going?  To Heaven, if we succeed in finding him.

 In the meantime, the world self-destructs through wars, greed and silly superstitions, progressively losing its collective sanity in its efforts to fill the gaping hole that gnaws at it.  But I do know better.  I do have the complete picture.  I have epignosis.

troubledsig





Escape from Evil

22 01 2009

[fiction]

We were having a leg of Tim for dinner.  Bill was still working on his rat cage, eating dinner with us only when he could stand the hunger no longer.  He had this crazy ambition of raising rats in a cage he had found, with the hope of one day harvesting them for food.  We mocked him sourly for it.  For starters, rats in captivity must be fed.  Everyone knew that there was nothing to give them apart from what we, ourselves ate.  Wild rats might be another matter.  They seem to crawl into the deepest recesses and find food where no human could ever get to it.  What Bill needed to do was develop a better way to catch the wild rats for food.  Even so, there were not enough wild rats to go around.

 

Besides, Tim tasted pretty good.  I’m not sure what Bill had against it.  He seemed to think that it was all a curse or something, that we had to resort to eating each other.  I tried to explain to him that this is the way the world has always worked.  Only the strongest survive.  Bill took a long hard look into the blackness above us and said, “But what happens when we run out?”

 

“Then humanity will die,” I said.  “Nothing lasts forever.”  I figured that he was simply afraid of his own demise.  Everyone comes to that critical place at some point.  Some people laugh in the face of utter demise, and others sit around and breed rats, hoping to delay the inevitable.

 

“But, where did we come from?  How did this all start?” he asked.

 

“Bill,” I said, “I know some people think that the Fire God started it all, but, just between you and me, I think we just came into existence.  It’s like our clothes.  Where did they come from?”

 

“We found them in a box,” he replied, annoyed.

 

“Exactly,” I said, “They appeared, and we took advantage of them.”

 

He cast an angry glare toward the rock face.  He was about to speak, when Rick approached us in the darkness.  Rick is a big, shaggy man.  He had several torn shirts dangling from his shoulders, old and dirty.  Rick was a collector.  Most of us discarded our worn clothing in favor of a replacement, but he feared that one day the box would run out.  If he needed new clothing, then he wore it on top of what he already had.  Worry creased his face as he neared.  “They’ve got Jim,” he said.  We stared long and hard at each other for a moment, and then I turned away.  I pretended to examine the depth of the puddle on the ground, which we used as a source of water.  I tried to look busy with anything, so as not to have to face what I knew would be Rick’s proposition.  Bill tended to his rats with furious care.  They aggressively bit his fingers, but he hardly noticed.  Irritated, Rick repeated, “Hang it all, man!  They’ve got Jim!”

 

That’s when I turned and faced him directly.  “What do you want, Rick?” I said in low tones.  “You want to go in there and incite a war?  Is that what you want?  Do you realize that we might die trying?  We should be trying to save our own heads, as it is.  If they have Jim, then that’s just rotten, but there’s nothing I can do.”

 

Rick grabbed me by the arm.  “Oh, no you don’t!  We’re in this together!  Last week, they got Sam, and next week it could be you.  For the love of all things good, you have to help me save him.”

 

I glanced at Bill, and he shifted his gaze from me, back to his rats.  I think I saw that he was being a coward and trying to avoid this conflict, and I certainly didn’t want to be anything like him.  I approached him and said, “Come on, Bill, we’re going to get Jim.”  I grabbed a busted old chair and banged it against a wall until I had a rod of wood with which to defend myself.  Rick did the same.  We waited for Bill to arm himself, but he just looked back and forth between the two of us and clutched a rat in his hands.  “What are you going to do, sick your rat on them?” I scoffed.  With that, I turned and marched toward the enemy encampment.

 

We crossed the stone valley to the other side, where the rock precipice shot up severely on the other side.  At a place where two stone faces met, the temple to the Fire God sat, casting flickering light over the stone and the ground.  The temple was a fat steel barrel, with a stovepipe disappearing into the darkness above.  They said that the fire traveled down that pipe to consume their offerings and return the blessings of light and warmth.  The light was of doubtful use, what little of it escaped from behind the steel grate.  Mostly all it did was make the darkness seem darker.  Then I saw them, sitting there in a circle with Jim pinned to the floor.  They had marked their faces with the dark resin of the black rock that they offered to the Fire God.  Jim was screaming in horror.  All at once, without conferring with us, Rick quickened his pace and headed straight toward the group.  At first, I hesitated, but then I realized that if I didn’t join him, then all would be lost.  We ran headlong into the circle of savages and struck them as hard and fast as we could.  Stunned, they fell backward and released their captive.  Two seconds later, they were armed with sharpened scraps of steel and table legs.  We pulled Jim to his feet and urged him to run.  The enemies closed ranks and prevented our escape.  Trapped, with the searing heat of the Fire God to our backs and a tight circle of enemies before us, I sought out their weakest member.  He made eye contact with me and seemed at once to realize what I was thinking.  I aimed the sharp end of my stick at his neck and ran with reckless abandon straight at him.  Our bodies collided, and he went down.  I fell on top of him but quickly jumped back up and ran straight ahead, into the darkness.  My companions did the same.  I glanced back only too quickly to make any sense of what I saw.  The thought crossed my mind that Bill had not run with us into the attack.  We traveled in a dead run along the cliff face, so that we might not get lost.  This brought us straight to the refuse heap, a monstrous hill of trash, feces and bones, piled up against two cliff faces.  I turned right, to circumvent it, but one of their members circled around and headed me off.  The enemy held a long twisted metal scrap, sharpened to a fine edge, which he thrashed at me in cruel rage.  I felt it cut deeply across my chest, and it left me in stunned disbelief.  I knew I was cut badly, and it terrified me.  He swung again, this time only a glancing blow, and the side of the scrap bounced off of my arm.  I turned and did the only thing I could do.  I scrambled up the heap as fast as my arms and legs could take me.  I didn’t know the whereabouts of Rick or Jim, but I did know that someone was scrambling up the pile after me.  I grabbed blindly in the dark for something to throw.  I picked up something light.  I don’t know what it was, but I threw it anyway.  I continued to climb the heap, knowing that someone else was right on my heels.  My hand grabbed a heavy solid object, and I threw it over my shoulder.  From the loud curses, I knew that it had hit its mark.  Shortly, I reached the top, where two cliff faces met at a corner.  I was trapped.  I sensed that someone else mounted the pile right next to me.  I grabbed a nearby femur and beat him wildly with it.  He flailed his arms in self-defense, and wrested the bone from my grasp.  Then I realized that it was Rick.

 

“James didn’t make it,” he gasped, “Where’s Bill?”

 

All around us, I could hear people climbing up the heap.  We began grabbing anything we could get our hands on and heaving it down the hill.  In seconds, I could see their dark forms standing before me.  For a moment, I considered snatching back the long bone from Rick’s hands.  In a last ditch effort, I threw myself at the nearest foe, and felt myself taking hold of a long rod that he held before him.  Knocking him down, I took his weapon, not really sure if it was a sharp weapon or a blunt cudgel.  Without thinking, I stabbed it at the nearest foe, and it landed with a thud.  It was definitely a blunt weapon, for hitting, not stabbing.  My enemy returned the favor and hit me hard enough to make me see flashes of light.  Someone in the distance screamed in bloody agony.  Clearly, they had gotten to Bill after-all.  The one who had hit me turned to yell over his shoulder, “Don’t kill him, you fool!  You’re wasting food.  It’ll never keep.”  I tried to take advantage of the distraction, but when I straightened up to make the blow, I felt nauseated and weak.  Another of their number simply took the weapon from me, and I could not resist.  Their leader turned and looked at me with delight.  Wonderful, I thought.  I’m next week’s dinner, now.

 

That’s when it happened.  A shaft of light cut through the darkness down below.  It spread open, and cast a blanket of light before it.  We blinked dumbly before it.  It made no sense.  I couldn’t understand what it might be.  I could see the shape of a person standing before it.  He reached over to one side and the next thing I knew, the entire world was flooded with light.  We sat there blinking and cowering.  Some people cried out in fear and pain.  After a minute of wincing with the pain of light, I ventured a valiant look around.  My world was shaken by what I saw.  The entire stone valley was nothing but the basement of some building.  It was nowhere near as large as I had imagined.  In fact, it was all so very small.  In the corner sat the Fire God, now just a pathetic simple furnace.  The hill of trash that I stood on was no more than two or three feet high.  The people around me were tired, dirty fools, dressed in rags and living like barbarians, scrounging around in a basement full of junk.  We were all such miserable wretches.  The person responsible for this terrible revelation stood there, clean and tidy, standing uprightly like any civilized human.  His hair was clean and trim, and his face smooth and shaven.  Until I saw him, I did not realize how dirty I was.

 

“Put it out!” someone screamed.  A bone went flying across the room and nearly hit the intruder.

 

A bone.  Yes, it all hit me now.  We had lived our lives cannibalizing each other.  There were really only just a few of us left.  How many human lives had we destroyed?  I remembered the names of the deceased, people I had killed.  But it was all just a necessary part of nature, right?  We had every right to do it, didn’t we?

 

“It’s me, Daniel.  We opened a way out.  You can come out, now.  You can come out this way.  You can come out and be normal again,” he said, looking directly at me.

 

I looked to my right and saw Rick, the mighty hunter, curled up in a ball on the floor, crying like a baby.  Bill was a few feet away, lying on the floor as pale as death, and bleeding.  The others (were there only four of them?) scuttled like roaches, desperately looking for a place to hide under an old worn sofa, or behind a wardrobe.  I blinked hard, taking it all in.  This was not real.  This was just a bunch of grown men playing Lord Of The Flies in a basement, eating each other alive and sleeping in their own filth.  We had been living a delusion.  We thought that the basement was everything.  We thought that we were noble and good.  We thought that the evils of our world were normal.  But we were dead wrong.  This was not normal.  This was not the way it was meant to be.  We were not noble or good.  This world of ours was not everything.  It was not anything, relative to what lay outside.

 

“Come on,” Daniel said, “Come outside with me.  Let’s get you out of this place.  We’ll get you cleaned up and back home where you belong.”

 

Home.  I had vague memories of a place by that name.  It occurred to me that nothing about this place could be home.  Still, I was disgusted by myself and did not want to be.  Part of me wanted to run out of this place like a wild animal set free.  Part of me wanted to shut the door and turn out the light, so I could go back to feeling normal again.  With a wild roar, the leader of the enemy pack burst forth from behind the wardrobe and ran straight for the door, but he didn’t run through it.  He knocked Daniel out of the way and shut the door.  Then he fumbled with the switch until the lights went out again.  The world plunged back into darkness, and the temple of the Fire God sat way off in the distance, glowing softly like a beacon.  From my position way up on the hill of refuse, I glanced out over the dark valley, trying to remember what it really was, what it had seemed to be when there was light on it.  I couldn’t believe this whole great valley had been nothing but a single room.  Dazed, the enemy tribe dropped their weapons and strolled back to the temple.  Rick continued to weep like a baby beside me.

 

Still curious, I made my way down from the hill and looked for the place where the door had been.  At the base of the rock face, I found what might have been wooden steps.  I took two steps up them and felt the surface of the rock for some kind of clue.  Then, there it was, a doorknob, sitting there plainly as an obvious port to another world.  I turned it, and the light cut into the darkness.  The rock face gave way.  It was just a wooden door in a concrete wall, after all.  As I stepped through into the bright afternoon sunlight outside, there was Daniel, with a bright smile spread across his face.  He put his arm around me and cried.  He didn’t say a word, but I knew what he was thinking, “Why did you have to go in there you ol’ dope?”

 

I looked back at the door.  It was just an outside entrance to a basement, and on it was a small rusty plate that said “Evil,” and nothing more.

[/fiction]

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Parallel Universes

13 12 2008

I know that the Bible does not cover every subject exhaustively, leaving many things unsaid, even when it comes to spiritual matters.  Still, one might feel confident that all of the important matters are covered, and the most important matters are covered the best.  A safe rule of thumb to follow is that if the Bible preaches softly on a matter, then so should we, and where it speaks loudly, we should scream it from the hilltops.  I’m going to speak very softly today.  What I have to say has little practical application, but it is interesting enough to be worth saying.

 

I have stated in an earlier post, Three Universes, that there exists a certain barrier, not only between God and us, but also between the physical world and us.

three-rings

 

To recap, briefly, God, who is infinite, cannot be fully contained within a finite universe.  He must, therefore, be contained within an infinite universe, outside of the finite physical one.  As discussed earlier, nx = ∞ as x approaches infinity, which is to say that the universe which contains God must, itself, be God.  The large circle in the diagram is infinitely large, which is to say that God lives in an infinitely large universe, but he is also not contained within any universe at all.  The realm of God, by inductive thought, should be more absolute than the physical universe that it contains.  It does not change with time, and it is, for all intents and purposes more real than ours.  Second point: we do not experience the physical world directly.  Our eyes are like web cams, and our hands are like robotic arms.  We move them using the wiring of our bodies, and we receive input through that same wiring.  The sensation is then reconstructed on the computer monitor of our minds, in living color, so that we are hardly aware of the process that it took to get it there…until something goes wrong along the way.  My mind can not leave my body and experience a physical object directly, which begs the question as to how it experiences a brain.  It doesn’t.  It experiences itself, and it is influenced from the outside by a brain.  The mind is so different from the physical brain that houses it, that it could be considered a universe all its own.  As with the relationship between God’s realm and the physical universe, the physical universe is more absolute and concrete than the universe of the mind.  It is more real, in a sense.  These universes are not parallel.  They exist in a vertical relationship between God and us.

 

What is a human soul?  This is a question that cannot be definitively answered on its own, but it can be nailed down to a certain key characteristic.  That brings us back to Descartes’ cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am.”  More precisely, I experience, therefore I am.  Whether our perception of the world around us has any truth to it, one certainty lies in the fact that we are experiencing something, even if it’s inaccurate.  This ability to experience is not at all physical.  The projector is like a brain, physical and giving rise to the image on the wall, but the image, itself, is not physical.  So, too, the mind is not physical, and it depends on the brain.  The human soul is, by definition, something nonphysical.  We might say that we are aware of our own souls through the awareness of our own minds.  While our minds are the only way for us to be aware of our souls, this does not mean that our souls are nothing more than our minds.  One might say that the mind is the intersection between the soul and the brain.

 

But of all of the people ever born, my mind arises from only one brain.  One brain in six billion (more, throughout history) is mine.  At the outset, it seems like my odds of coming into this world at all were worse than one in six billion, but were those the odds?  Let’s look at the numerator in that fraction.  The fact is that I can either come into this world, or I can not come into it.  We’re not even talking about coming into it twice, and we can’t only come into it halfway.  It’s like the infinitely small point on a Cartesian plane.  The point either lies on the plane, or it does not.  Either I landed some real estate on a human brain, or I did not.  The infinite smallness of this implied point presents us with the implication that a soul is infinitely unique.  As mathematical points cannot overlap, so, too, is there no overlap in a soul.  It’s yours alone, to share with no other.  How many other souls could have existed in my place?  Apparently, there is no limit.  An infinite number of souls could have been born in my place, but weren’t.  The infinite uniqueness of a human soul, crossed with the limitless supply makes my odds of being born equal to one in infinity.  That’s another way of saying that it’s just flat out impossible, as far as we’re concerned.  The only way it could work is if there were an infinite number of human souls that found life.  There aren’t that many in this universe.  There never will be.  If this universe were the only one that God had ever created, then I never would have seen life.

 

So, then, we take a step beyond the physical universe, into the realm of God, where there is an infinite opportunity for the generation of human souls.  I might add, in passing, that what this means is that without God, you could not be the person that you are; you could not be anyone.  If you sense your own ability to experience life through a body, then you have inadvertently demonstrated the existence of an infinite God.  The problem of the impossibility of my own personal existence can then be solved if we can accept the idea that, within the expanse of his realm, he has created enough universes to accommodate an infinite number of souls like mine.  These universes could be bigger or smaller than ours.  They would all be finite, or else they would be God’s own realm.  They could be different.  They could be suitable for our kind of life, or not.  They could even be different in ways that our minds are wholly incapable of grasping.  Walking into one could be like walking into Narnia, or it could be like walking into an exact match of our own, with only slight differences.

 

This brings us to a more recent post, The Hallway Of Eden.  Many of the Christian faith shrink in fear when they are asked if they believe in the Genesis account literally.  The fact is simply that what is written of Adam and Eve is like nothing that could happen in this world.  I’ve never seen a snake talk.  The honest response is that it doesn’t appear to be possible by today’s understanding.  However, in truth, it never seemed possible by the understanding of any age.  This is not science versus religion.  Ancient people were no fools.  They knew that snakes could not talk.  Some people write it off as myth, yet call themselves Christian, but Christianity, at its core, depends entirely upon the mission of Christ, which was to reverse the effect of the Fall of Man (enter talking snake).  Crush the base and the tower crumbles.

 

So let’s look at it fresh: Eve took the forbidden fruit, because she believed that it would give her special powers, like God.  For that matter, the snake already had special powers.  Did you catch that?  Read it again: the snake had the special power of the ability to talk.  Eve had to have some reason to believe that the simple act of eating a fruit would grant some kind of drastic change in her universe.  God had given her permission to eat the fruit of a great number of trees.  She had done this.  Seeing the forbidden fruit, she must have wondered what new marvel this one held, and what new change it had in store.  She believed that it could produce exciting changes in her universe, because that’s exactly what all of the other fruit had done.  Hence, the snake.  And the forbidden fruit did exactly that: it changed her universe drastically.  Thousands of years later, no human has ever seen anything like it.  We are not used to the idea.  We are not even readily inclined to think of it this way.  Eve had, essentially, passed through a doorway into a universe that contained both good and evil, having previously only known good.  The snake no longer talks.  Thorns and weeds grow where they are not wanted.  Disorder is the law of the land.  One must kill like a ravenous monster to survive.

 

Looking back into the garden, there was only one tree with fruit that could change it all back.  This was the tree of life.  However, had she changed the world, or had she merely stepped into a different one?  The difference between a world based on entropy and one not based on entropy is so drastic, that it would have been the creation story all over again, in a darker light.  Everything would have to be made all over again to survive in this fallen world.  Did the universe change, or did she step into a different universe?  Is there a difference?  Looking back at the tree of life was like looking back at the door through which she had just come.  Had she stepped back through that door, would it have made her pure again, or would she have taken that evil with her and ruined everything else (See Infinite Dilution)?

 

If, indeed, my theory is correct, then the Garden of Eden was a hub to which some other universes connected, entered via the consumption of fruit as a doorway.  All of these universes were finite, like ours, which is why returning back into them would permanently ruin them.  That doorway is forever bolted shut.  By the ideas presented in the Infinite Dilution post, we would have to travel into a realm that was infinitely vast, so that a finite amount of sin were as nothing.  As mentioned earlier, that would be the realm of God, which is, itself, God.  He tore open a back door to our universe, allowing us access to himself, allowing us to enter his presence.  He took our sins upon himself, allowing both us and our sins to pass through into his kingdom, that we might yet live and our sins be cast into a sea of forgetfulness.  Keeping in mind, though, that we are just as finite as our sins.  We, also, could be cast into a sea of forgetfulness if not parted from our sins.  This is the difference between Heaven and Hell.  It’s either an eternity without sin, or it’s an eternity with only sin (You’re Already Dead).

 

So then, the diagram from above would look something more like this:

many-rings

The different universes are parallel universes, which means that a person can be in one place in our universe and find that exact same place on another universe, though it would be different.  Hence, the Garden of Eden, though it had a physical place in our world, it would have really existed as a parallel universe.  Hence, we could never find it again on Earth if the door were bolted shut, and it was not destroyed in the Great Flood.  These universes are truly parallel, because they do not exist within each other as in the first diagram, but they exist beside each other, as being equal in realness.

 

The reason I say that I speak softly on the subject is because the matter of parallel universes is entirely impractical for our lives.  In essence, we only need to know the first diagram, that there is God, the universe and us.  For us, there is no door to Narnia.  It exists, as a matter of speaking, in its own right, but as far as we’re concerned, it might as well not exist, because we can never get to it.  If we could get to it, then we would utterly destroy it, even if unintentionally.  For this reason, the Bible makes no mention of it.  It solves no problem.  It fills no need.

 

It does, however, give us something to think about as we sip our coffee in front of a laptop.  That’s good enough for me.

 

shabbychicsig