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?

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Disposable Man

30 05 2010

Somewhere on the streets of gold a man does not walk, though he might have.  He was not born into that world.  He never walked there.  He was discarded from there before he ever arrived.

Somewhere in a dark alley on Earth, another disposable man also does not walk.  He was never born into this world, much less reborn into the next.  Perhaps, he was murdered in the womb, discarded before he ever arrived.

Then again, perhaps he never even arrived in the womb.  Maybe his parents used effective contraception.  Perhaps they abstained altogether.  The parents were too busy to marry, or they rejected each other, not knowing that they rejected their own destiny.

Disposable Man had no say in his own parentage, whether he would be born at all.  Had he been born, he would have had no say in his own death.  No degree of effort could prevent his passing.  Somewhere in between the two, between the cradle and the grave, we presume that he would have had the autonomy to choose his destiny, and yet, that destiny may have been the beginnings, or lack thereof, of yet another Disposable Man.  The part in the middle, where we assume he had free will, another is born into the world by destiny through the actions of an autonomous man.  Perhaps we presume too much.

When a woman aborts her child, we say that she has murdered another human being, and rightly so.  She assumes the right to live, and she attributes to her child the duty to be discarded.  The child is disposable, but she is not.  From before conception the baby had no identity at all.  Had she abstained from sex, it would not have existed.  She would not have been guilty of murder, because nothing existed to be murdered.  So much weight is given to sentience.  Some would say that the death of a human does not matter before it is fully conscious enough to realize that it is getting ripped apart.  At what point does the human soul enter the body?  As far as I know, I am the only one for whom it ever has.  I cannot study or know the soul of a single other human on the planet, any more than I could travel to a parallel universe.  People are islands, entire universes separated from each other by uncrossable chasms.  I only know that I have a soul, because I experience the act of living.

The woman who wishes to kill justifies her act, essentially, on the notion that the soul of the baby has not yet arrived, does not exist.  Yet, no one can know if or when it ever does.  She can only know the existence of her own soul, and this is the crux of the matter.  She was the only person that concerned her, anyway.  Abortion is, at heart, a postmodern problem.  The modernist, at least, can see the creation of a new human within the womb, because the modernist is obsessed with the physical world.  What can be studied can be believed.  But the postmodernist is obsessed with the highly internal world of the mental universe, those events and experiences which capture the soul.  If she does not feel it, then she does not care.  As postmodernism grows, so does the industry of infanticide.

A pastor need only mention the word, abortion, and we can see certain women in the congregation squirming in their seats, as though the truth were trying to crawl right out of their wombs where they sat.  But there can be forgiveness.  If Paul The Apostle can make a living at murdering masses of believers, yet repent and walk straight into Heaven, then there is hope for any of us.

Otherwise, the mother of the Disposable Man may find herself disposable in the next life.

What of the man who was never conceived?  He may have more in common with the everyday man than any might recognize.  The one who fails to live the entire nine months of gestation may only live a few weeks, but the elderly man who dies after a century still dies.  Both are soon forgotten.  As we approach eternity, both lifespans approach nothingness.  A man of any lifespan gradually becomes a Disposable Man.  If he is not born again into eternity, then he is lost before he even began.  He is like the man who never existed.

Coming into existence was always a matter of destiny.  It always comes about by an act of God, being entirely beyond us.  This remains as true for the second birth as for the first.  And so, our Disposable Man does not wander the streets like a haunting ghost.  He ceases  to exist without a trace.

At the top of this page is a picture.  Look again.  Is something missing?  Was it ever there?  Something is desperately missing from that picture, gone as though it had never existed.  It is Disposable Man, and it may be you.





Erosion; a Dialogue Among Rocks

20 02 2010

Imagine, if you will, three similar worlds placed upon each other like sheets of paper, arranged so that their homologous features matched. 

 The top sheet is a picture of a timeless world.  Mountains dot its landscape, and great rocks thrust into the sky.  Trees cling to the sides of cliffs, their roots wrapped around boulders, and vines blanket them like a comforter.  A lone steep road ascends the side of a crag, winding its way up to the top, where a city sits in full view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.  This is not a defensive location, for the city has no enemies.  Nor is it a location of convenience, for its engineers were clever enough to be able put it on any terrain whatsoever.  It rests upon that crest like a beacon, because the denizens of the lone farms and ranches nestled in the nooks and dells throughout the land love to be able to gaze upon it, where it flickers like a nest of stars that haven’t learned how to fly across the sky yet.  On one horizon, the stars gather in retreat from the advancing dawn.  On the other horizon the sun hides just out of sight, gently illuminating the morning sky.  This world is held forever in a state of perpetual dawn.  Its clocks are always wound.  Its creatures are never hungry.  Its rocks are not eroded, nor are its metals corroded.  The entire place is pristine, like a new car, fresh and green, without blemish.  It even has that new-Earth smell.  A blanket of fog nestles in the lowest ravines, dripping dew upon its herbage.  Cascades of waterfalls make their way down the sides of rock faces.  It is near one of these streams that a man first appears.  He stares in awe at the world around him.  Then he sees the city, and he feels it beckoning to him, so he begins a slow ascent up the winding road cut into the face of the rock.

 Now, let us return to our stack of papers.  The world on the bottom, though a manifestation of the one on the top, is a very different place, indeed.  Somewhere between the top page and the bottom page, the forces of entropy kicked in, reducing the bottom page to a manner of Hell on Earth.  All of the mountains from the first page were eroded until they were nothing but completely flat valleys.  Then the valleys were eroded until they washed into the sea.  Boulders eroded into pebbles, which eroded into gravel, which turned to sand, then silt and then clay.  Hurricanes started in what once was the Atlantic Ocean, traversed unhindered where the American continent used to be and traveled on into the Pacific Ocean.  Being a very liquid sphere, it became not unlike Jupiter, with its everlasting cyclone.  The miniscule particles of sediment were stirred up into a colloid, a suspension of solid within a liquid, causing the dirt and water to mix into a dangerous quagmire.  The sun had reached the end of its life, and, for a time, there seemed some uncertainty as to whether it would consume the Earth or blow it into outer space.  It had done a little of both, tearing the planet apart and turning it inside out, bringing its molten core to the surface.  The stars fled from the sky and blinked out, and the sky was pitch black.  The Earth was void and without form.  It was ready for God to move upon the face of its darkness and create new heavens and a new Earth.  But this was the last page.  This world was timeless.  It was into this darkness that a man appeared in mid-air and fell into the quagmire, where he promptly began to sink into its quicksand, drawing ever closer to one of those eternally burning pockets of magma.

 Somewhere between those pages was another.  This middle page was the story leading the top page to the bottom page.  This one was not timeless, and, in a sense, it was not just one page but many.  In truth, these worlds when put together formed a book.  The mountains were only halfway eroded in the middle page.  The creatures were hungry but not dead.  Somewhere in the middle of this life-death world was a hill that had once been a mountain but was not yet a valley, and a significant portion of rock had been exposed.  A force of humanity had hewn rock from its place and changed its shape, relocating it ultimately to the head of a grave.  A very large mass of people gathered around it to pay their respects, never noticing the neighboring grave, which had also been freshly filled.  This grave was marked by no headstone, for its only respecter could afford naught but to roll a nearby boulder to the place of the head.  The crowd, then, could hardly be blamed for trampling rudely upon the recently deceased, though they might have noticed the one mourner beside it.  If they had possessed eyes to see such a thing, they would have seen the personage of a deceased one arise from his grave and walk slowly up into the sky, traversing a road in a different world, making his way to a certain city.  By all appearances, he would be walking up thin air into the sky, where once a mountain had been.  Likewise, if they had the eyes to see, then they would have noticed a personage falling from his grave into the bowels of a dead planet, sinking into an invisible mud.  He would by all appearances be falling through a valley floor that had not yet washed into the sea.

 When the crowds dispersed, aged and died out, a vandal visited the gravestone, changing one letter to another.  We might imagine those two stones lying side by side, one carved by human hands, the other carved by random chance.  One stone looks at the other and notices his regular shape, and the letters and numbers scrawled across the surface.  He at once recognizes the fact that something apart from the forces of nature has affected his neighbor.  We might pretend that the two stones had a discussion on the matter.

 “By Jove,” says the boulder, “You have a very distinguishing mark upon you!”

 The gravestone awakes from its slumber and mumbles, “It’s just erosion.  Random forces of nature have made me this way.”

 “But,” the boulder protests, “there is writing on you!”

 The gravestone immediately dismisses this.  “It is nothing but an illusion.  It only looks like the work of an intelligent hand.  I just happen to be the one rock among millions that happened to erode intelligently.  It’s a statistical inevitability.”

 “Look, rock,” said the boulder in frustration, “I know very well what a natural rock looks like.  I know what the forces of chance would produce, and you aren’t it!”  The boulder peered closely at the other and read, “R. I. P. H… Charles Darwin… 1809–1882.”

 “What?!” replied the gravestone, offended, “That’s supposed to say R.I.P.”

 “Well, it used to, but somebody messed with it…hey, how do you know what it’s supposed to say?  I thought you said it was written by random chance.  That’s like rolling the dice and saying that it’s supposed to give you ten, or flipping a coin and saying that it’s supposed to be heads.  If it’s random, then it’s not supposed to be anything in particular.”

 “Yes, but I was the lucky rock that eroded into the message, ‘R.I.P.’

 “I wonder what the H means,” mused the boulder.

 “Nothing,” the gravestone snapped, “It doesn’t mean anything, because it wasn’t authored by anyone.”

 “Does it mean Heaven,” thought the boulder, but then a new idea ocurred to him, “or does it mean Hell?”

 “I said it doesn’t mean anything!” the gravestone shouted.

 “Nonsense,” said the boulder, “It’s too well organized to not mean something.  Someone did this to you, and they must have meant something by it.”

 But the two rocks would not agree.  With time, the gravestone eroded into just another rock, and its letters crumbled away.  Then it said nothing, meant nothing, and looked not at all like a rock that had been deliberately shaped by human hands.

But this is all pretend.  Rocks do not discuss the meaning of life, for they are just rocks.  It is people, living and breathing and exibiting far more design, which demonstrate this kind of nonsensical discussion.  They see their own order and claim it a matter of random chance.  They see aberrations in that order and call it disease, a thing which was not meant to be.  Yet, though they can see that the aberration was not meant to be, they refuse to see that the  healthy person was meant to be.  Having been endowed with a design, having been meant to be anything at all, we demonstrate the existence of the one who meant it.  Otherwise, we cannot claim that a sick person should have been healthy any more than we can claim that a coin toss should have been heads…unless we thought we had rigged the toss, but, then, there comes the intervention of an intelligent design.

 Back to our book, again, we see that the pages have been disturbed.  Someone has picked up our unbound book and read through only the first page.  After finishing that page, the reader placed it on the bottom of the stack and never finished reading the second page.  Now, our story of the universe starts with degeneration without a perfect starting point.  The beginning is mysterious and unexplained.  Humpty is falling from a wall upon which he never sat.  The story begins with the fall.  In our new version, the sun has already risen, and a tiny crack has already formed in the wall of the city.  A particle of sand has moved a little down the stream.  The world starts as nearly perfect as it could be, except that it is already on the second page before we’ve really begun. 

 Then we come to what would have been the end.  Billions of souls perish in the darkness of the end of the world, and there is no transition from there to the first page again, even though it is the next page.  An intraversable chasm sits between the first and last pages, and the people suffering in one cannot get to the other.  Yet, mysteriously, the new last page is full of people.  Those fortunate enough to live on this page have no fear of slipping to the second page, because there is none.  They started with the second page, and now they’re on the new last page, the beginning of things, when all was perfect and new.  All that was old has passed away, and now there is a new heaven and a new Earth.  This will not perish, because this is now the final page of the story.

In the meantime, we shall erode like rocks while arguing whether we have been shaped by an intelligent designer.





Managing the Forced Dilemma

23 01 2010

They want to kill us, and we want to live.  This is the problem at hand, that Muslim fanatics in this world aim to destroy as many of us as possible.  The question is how we are to stop them.

Every person has a list of priorities.  When we let someone take something from us that we value highly, this is only for the sake of something that we value more highly than what we lost.  A man in Beirut was assigned to guard Bathist headquarters.  He was not disloyal, nor was he willingly derelict in his duties when he let PLO terrorists inside to steal paperwork and set explosives.  He did it for a note and a lock of hair.  He did it to save his kidnapped wife.  A forced dilemma was set before him.  He could sacrifice his job and his employer’s property, or he could sacrifice his wife.  It was the essence of any effective diplomacy.  If you want a thing that someone values highly, then you offer him something that he values more highly, or else you threaten to take it away.

There are those who value our destruction highly.  We must bribe or threaten something that they value even more if we wish to have diplomatic leverage.

Eve was not generally a disobedient woman when she took the forbidden fruit.  If she had been, then she would already have been fallen.  Therefore, it stands to reason that she was not without loyalty to her God, and she did not disobey for disobedience’s sake.  When the matter came down to the fire, she valued her vanity higher than her loyalty to God.  The snake appealed to the higher priority, and the lesser one was sacrificed in the process.

A man may value his job, may wish to be appreciated for his work and may wish to be esteemed by his coworkers.  However, he may also wish to relax, and this priority may be higher on his list.  Everyone has a list of priorities, and no two things are of equal value.  When put to the test, when forced to choose between two things, a person’s prioritization determines the outcome.  The homeless bum does not wish to be homeless, but, very often, his desire to avoid strenuous work is a higher priority.  A homosexual does not necessarily want to be a sinner or face possible wrath in the afterlife, but his desire to live the homosexual life is a higher priority.

Life is all about priorities.  We can all say that we want to be good people.  We can all say that we want to do the right thing.  Even the common criminal could say it, but the will to do the right thing is a lower priority than the desire to indulge in someone else’s property, some defiled lifestyle or some manner of vengeance.  One might easily say “I can’t help it.  That’s just the way I am,” when we want to do the right thing but never actually do it.  Of course we want to do the right thing, but we value something else even more.

Of course we don’t want to die in a nuclear inferno.  We must find that thing that the enemy wants more than our destruction if we are to survive.

Iran is working on making nuclear weaponry.  This is not for energy.  They have enough crude oil to provide them with plenty of energy.  This is not for defense.  They don’t need provocation.  The people in charge over there just want us dead.  We make fools of ourselves when we threaten sanctions.  We could starve their economy into oblivion, but it wouldn’t touch their nuclear ambitions.  We in the West put such a high priority on the almighty dollar that we can’t imagine other people not shaking in fear when money is at stake.  If they don’t stop their uranium enrichment, then we’ll stop buying their stuff.  Money, for the terrorist, is just a means to an end.  The bad guys in this case aren’t looking for prosperity this side of the grave.  Some of them are, but the martyrs aren’t.  When a man is willing to blow his own flesh to a thousand bacon bits just to kill you, one might wonder what a person could possibly offer or threaten to convince him to stop.  If Iran gets nukes, then Iran will use nukes, and unless we can find something more important to the Ayatollah than paradise, then this is the unavoidable end.

How did we come to the point where a weak nation with one bomb could cow a superpower with many bombs?

It’s all in the priorities.  We wish for prosperity.  We wish to live normal lives.  We wish to think well of ourselves.  We want people to like us.  We want to avoid conflict.  We want to close our eyes and make it all go away.  A few nukes from submarines and the Iranian threat could be gone by tomorrow.  It could be gone forever, but we have a higher priority, which is the preservation of human life.  Much as the crazies want to kill us, we don’t want to actually lash out and hurt their people.  But, even if we did, the question to ask is whether those madmen value their own peace and security above our demise.  To this, the answer is a resounding no.  If they wanted to live in peace, then we would not be in this situation to begin with.

They want paradise.  Can we take paradise away from them?

Much as people whined about the war in Iraq, it had the worthy effect of casting doubt as to whose side Allah is on.  If I’m going to blow myself to bits for God, then I’d better be absolutely certain that I’m really on his side.  There’s no sense in losing Paradise with a misdirected waste of life.  Then, the Muslim must be in a bit of a bind in that department.  Allah doesn’t make his intentions very clear on the specifics.  When the Muslims lose war after war, the favor of their god is in doubt.  When that happens, the dynamite belt might just be a blast-off to nowhere.

But the defeat of a Sunni regime is no deterrent to a Shiite.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  We know that.  They know that.  At least, people are conscious of their own evil.  Show a man his shame, crush a woman’s pride, reveal that sin and do what you like, you only illustrate something that nags universally at the back of the human mind.  We are a bunch of sinners.  Promise a man his get-out-of-Hell-free card, and he’ll do anything for you.  We are all aware of our shortcomings.  The suicide bomber doesn’t don that belt because he’s a faithful Muslim.  He does it because he knows he’s screwed up, big time.  Death by jihad is to him an automatic win, despite his failures.  Overcoming sin is a higher priority than life, itself.  Losing life means losing everything.  When you kill yourself, you give up on friendships, family, prosperity and everything else.  It means you don’t get that promotion, that sunny weather, that cup of coffee, or anything else.  What does the terrorist want?!  He wants to be absolved of his sins when his own efforts are clearly in vain.  He wants to be forgiven by God for all of the wickedness that stains his soul like grease on a new white dress shirt.  Every other thing is a lesser priority.  Nothing trumps it.  There is no higher priority to use for diplomatic leverage.

That man needs Jesus.

Once, so long ago, there was a martyr who gave his life in a battle to absolve all sin, but the sin that he absolved was not his own.  It was yours.  He died the martyr’s death so that we, who could not get into Heaven by merit, could still get into Heaven.  That martyr was Jesus.  He is that automatic pass to Paradise.  It is only through him that we are saved.

Because an exploded sinner is just a sinful mess.





The Other Omission and Commission

7 01 2010

By now, you may have read in other sources that there are two kinds of sin, the sin of commission and the sin of omission.  One is the transgression that you do, and the other is the thing that you didn’t do but should have.  However, there is another side to this story, for there are two unfavorable responses from God, along these lines.  There is a curse by commission, and there is a curse by omission.  There are the plagues that demonstrate a deliberate intent on God’s part, and there are the diseases that exist as a result of God’s lack of intervention.  We preach so easily on God’s love that we neglect his wrath.

As described in the previous post, there is old age that comes as a result of random effects from our environment, but there is also a more potent aging that comes from a deliberate function within our bodies to kill us.  On the one hand, we are weakened by God’s lack of intervention, by his doing nothing directly to heal us or maintain us in spite of our environment.  On the other hand, we have a deliberate mechanism to hasten our demise.  The same can be said of every disease.  Much as sickness looks like a shortfall of intelligent design, the tapeworm and the virus demonstrate definite design.  Unless the Devil has gotten into the business of bioengineering, which I am reluctant to accept, we might reason that God was in that detail.  This is a very hard idea to handle.

Bacteria can fall to one side or the other.  Some of them make us sick because they happened to be in the wrong place.  Sometimes there might be some ambiguity as to whether the toxins that they produce were a deliberate attack on our health or a means for some other function.  However, there exists an entire category of microbes that fall into the classification of gram-negative cocci, which can be described in no other way than that they exist to make us sick.  Specifically, they exist to make the promiscuous among us sick.  Remove these organisms from the body, and they die very quickly.  They have no natural home outside of a human.  The Evolutionist might not have trouble explaining this one, but there is a certain spirochete called syphilis that defies a naturalistic explanation.  It appeared suddenly, from seemingly nowhere, with no relatives, to infect an entire army of French soldiers after their conquest of a single Italian city.  One might say that sickness is not a function of intelligent design, but the design of a microorganism is clearly evident.  While sickness caused by microbes does not always indicate deliberate intent, there can be no question that this microbe was specifically designed to cause sickness.  It is a curse of commission.

Diabetes, many cancers, hemophilia and other genetic diseases all find their causes in the omission of an intelligent design.  There was supposed to be a function in the body to keep a person healthy, but random change destroyed that function, and God did not reverse that change.  We are not hurt by what God did, but by what he didn’t do.  We can easily overlook the rest of the genome that still serves to keep us alive.  We could easily see that one little missing thing as a direct attack on our health.  However, what it all comes down to is the original curse, the Fall of Man, when disorder was allowed to come into the world.  The curse, here, is not that God brought things into disorder, but that he does not actively keep it in order.  Fortunately, he did build within us a great many functions to resist random change.  As time produces random change that ruins a person, it also produces random change that ruins humanity as a whole.  We accumulate this drift, and what doesn’t kill us makes us weaker.  If any random change is beneficial, then it is only because it happens to partially reverse one of the many harmful changes that came before it.  This is a losing battle we fight.

The tapeworm has intelligent design.  We thank God for the daisies and the roses, but we never thank him for the tapeworm.  I don’t think we’re even expected to.  Yet, as disgusting as this creature is, it is only acting in that great war of nature known as the food chain.  Nature is not our mother.  It is a battleground.  Animals devour each other and parasitize each other as a result of entropy and the constant battle to fight the drive toward disorder.  The virus is no different.  One particular virus appeared out of nowhere, with no known relatives and no known history.  It infected one man, who traveled the world and infected many others.  Some have said it was God’s punishment against homosexuals.  The first person to suggest this was a homosexual with that disease, known as AIDS.  God does not hate the homosexual.  Let’s make that clear from the beginning.  If he hated homosexuals, then they would all cease to exist in a moment, for there is nothing preventing him from making that happen.  His only concern is eternity.  Whether a person’s life is longer or shorter, pleasant or full of trouble, the only thing that matters is what they do with the rest of eternity.

I used to feel critical of people who saw trouble and disease as having come from God as punishment for human depravity.  I especially felt critical of anyone who might suggest that AIDS was a curse from God against homosexuals.  Then, one day, a coworker asked me where the virus came from, and we were both at a loss.  It could not be explained by evolution, or any natural means.  I had to shrug my shoulders and suggest that maybe God had produced it.  It was a paradigm shift for me.  In truth, it is the modernist philosophy ingrained in each of us that causes us to lash out at the idea that plagues and disasters befall us at God’s direction.  It is not the blacksmith that hits the anvil, we say.  It is the hammer that hits the anvil.  We like to think that the blacksmith does not exist.  The hammer just happens to be there, and it just happens to hit the anvil over and over.  In truth, without the blacksmith, neither the hammer nor the anvil would exist.  Without God, neither the homosexual nor HIV would exist.  The fact is that God does love the homosexual, and that’s why HIV exists.  The alternative is to wipe out all sexually immoral people, or else let them go to Hell without threat or warning, had he hated them.  The fact is that, if we are objective and totally honest with ourselves, then we must see that HIV has intelligent design, and, crazy as it sounds, it does, in fact, seem to have been targeting homosexuals.

There are those curses that result from our separation from God.  They exist because we change, and we don’t change according to his design.  We change as we will, because we and our world have been released to go our own way.  These are the curses of omission.  God is not our mechanic.  He does not keep us in order.  Then there are those curses that come about through causative agents containing intelligent design, like a virus or a worm, whose action against us is not accidental, but deliberate and part of the design.  These are curses of commission.  They happen because God does not want us to continue going our own way into oblivion.  He wants to get our attention, and he’s determined to do it even if it kills us.  Eternity is just on the other side of death, and we can’t afford to enter it heedlessly, as though it did not exist.

Christians hate the idea of a God that curses.  We like to see him as God the redeemer, lover of our souls.  Plagues and curses are a thing of the Old Testament, almost as though that were a different god.  Jesus came to break the curse, but his kingdom is not of this world.  Every day we still die, just like we have since the very first man breathed his last.  The laws of Moses have not been overturned, and neither has the curse, this side of death.  But there is a hope that goes beyond the grave.  Our treasure is not in this life.  No pleasure, no gratification in this life is worth the cost of losing our treasure in the next.

It is for that reason that we are scared out of our wits by the specter of a biological weapon engineered by God, himself.  If you think that cancer is scary, then you have no grasp of Hell.  If the wost thing you can imagine is losing your life, then you have no hope of Heaven.





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.





Postmodern Madness

23 11 2009

I have mentioned before in an earlier post, Three Universes, there are essentially three levels of reality in our world.  God, who is not confined within his own creation, exists outside of the physical universe.  This makes him his own universe.  Within his domain, there exists our physical universe, which can be affected from without.  It is a lesser reality, being less absolute, not existing forever, and depending upon God for its existence.

Within the physical universe is another, lesser reality, called the mind.  That’s where we actually live.  The mind is even less absolute than the physical world, capable of spontaneous change, inconsistency and a certain degree of incongruity.  Yet, when we experience the physical universe, we do so indirectly, through reconstruction within our brains.  If any of the processes between the actual sensation and the final experience goes awry, then we do not experience the physical universe accurately.  Nerve damage or brain damage disrupt the transfer of information, and what we see no longer resembles reality.  We do not really have a complete grasp on the physical world.  What we really hold, completely, is the image in our minds.  What we experience is all that the universe of the mind contains.  Nothing can exist within the mind except that we are aware of it.  Similarly, nothing can exist within the physical world, except that God is aware of it.  Hence, God is omniscient.

The physical world is not a piece of God.  Nor is the mind a piece of the physical world.  The physical world is corrupt, but that doesn’t make God corrupt.  Similarly, anything can happen in the mind, but it does not escape the mind and infiltrate the physical world.  In fact, nothing in the physical world explains the mind.  Cognitive processes might be explained in physical terms, but not the mind, itself.  A computer thinks, but it does not have a mind.  The mind is as much its own universe as the one we live in, but in a lower fashion.

Now, I’ve said all of this before, but there’s something more to consider.  Before the industrial revolution, humans were grossly subject to the whims of nature.  We had not developed technologically enough to conquer our world.  In that era, through most of our history, we looked to God for the answers to our problems.  That meant that we looked outside of our minds, through and beyond the physical world to God for truth.  With increasing understanding, we became confident in our own power and began to look no further than the physical world for answers.  This was the advent of modernism.  This was also the birth of naturalism, the belief that all things could be explained through the physical universe alone, with no need of God.  We had conquered the world, and we became our own gods.  Technology was the answer for everything that ailed us.

When we sought understanding from God, we attempted to live our lives and order our world in his likeness.  That is, we strove to be godly.  It is no different than the mind attempting to resemble the physical world.  If the lesser world fails to resemble the greater one, then it becomes detached, and its survival becomes imperiled in the one that gets rejected.  If a man goes insane, he no longer sees the world as it is.  Functionally, he imperils himself in the physical world, because he is not firmly grounded in it.  The same is true for our relationship with God.  If we reject God and the supernatural, then we become imperiled in the supernatural.  That is to say that we risk death, spiritually.  For those who still don’t get it, that means Hell.

Modernism was madness.  We might think that what followed, the rejection of modernism, would be the cure to this problem, but it wasn’t.  Rejection of a lie is not necessarily the embracing of truth.  Postmodernism was a flight in the opposite direction from God.  Today’s movement is to seek truth no further than the mind.  Postmodernists don’t even look to the physical world for answers.  For them, there is no absolute truth, because the world that they draw truth from is a world lacking in absolutes.  The mind is not subject to such things.  You have your own truth, and I have mine.  The idea of God is not even on the table.  They’re two steps removed from the truth of God.  They worship whatever their mind creates.

Pre-modernists prayed for rain.  Modernists attempted to make rain.  Postmodernists criticized the modernists for causing climate change.  Where the modernists attempted to improve life through their own hands, postmodernists attempt to improve life by undoing everything that the modernists did.

Pre-modernists believed in the immortal human soul, absolutes and God.  Modernists believed that nothing would last forever, and there was no God, but at least there were absolutes.  Postmodernists believe in no God, no absolutes and nothing eternal, but they play with fantasies in their own heads.

Pre-modernists used the physical world to understand God beyond it.  They worshiped him physically, and they prayed aloud.  Modernists used their minds to understand the physical world.  Postmodernists are primarily concerned with finding themselves.

Now, this postmodern revolution is a religious one, also.  Modernists sought out the “God particle,” reducing God to physical circumstances.  However, postmodernists are a little peculiar, in that they can be just about anything that they want to be at any time.  One could easily attend church one hour and a Buddhist temple the next.  Some of them do exactly that.  Their belief system is not absolute, because the universe of the mind is not absolute.  In Christianity, we know them as the Emergent Church.  In reality, they have even less of a grasp on God than a materialist, who at least recognizes the value of the world that God created.  Had they at least grasped the physical world, they would have held to some concept of an absolute.  In truth, the Emergent church is less of a  Christian than a Darwinist.  They are even further from God.

Now, consider what I said before about sanity.  When a man’s mind ceases to relate intelligibly to the world around him, he is considered insane.  When we, with our lives, ceased to relate meaningfully to the God beyond this world, we took the first step toward our own insane demise.  Postmodernism was the second step, detaching us even from the physical world.  Society is gradually slipping into a state of insanity.  Perhaps this is irreversible.  Perhaps this is the end.  The real travesty is that the Church, which was meant to be the salt and the light of the world, has developed its own form of postmodernism, the Emergent movement.  The real blasted shame is that our own fellow “Christians” have betrayed us and the world to this madness.  They were supposed to be there with us to help stem the tide of this sickness, but they have stabbed us in the back.  The Emergent Church has chosen the same fate as the world.

Therefore, they are also condemned to a world separated from God, a place where he never goes.