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This is the web site/blog for my books, “The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible” and Science, Philosophy, and Jesus Christ,” Volumes 1 and 2 respectively of the two-book series, “The Inevitable Truth.” These can be obtained through Amazon in paperback and ebook versions.
Volume 1 has been favorably reviewed by the conservative Christian periodical, “Christian News,” a Lutheran publication. Additionally, Dr. Charles Taliaferro, Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, has written thus about it: “Because medical doctors or physicians have made vital contributions to philosophy, from Maimonides, Avicenna, and John Locke in the history of philosophy to Raymond Tallis today, it should not surprise us to see Dr. James Frederick Ivey’s superb contribution to our philosophical reflection on the bearing of current physics on Biblical faith. Perhaps it takes a person well trained in the application of science in medicine to see the ways in which the application of science, especially modern physics, quantum mechanics, and relativity have important applications in our thinking about God, the Bible, and Judeo-Christianity. The terrain is not unexplored by philosophers, theologians, and popular writers, but it is rare to see the kind of engaging clarity, breadth, and conscientious, mature reflection to be found in Ivey’s book.”
A second endorsement I have received with regard to Volume 1 is from David A. Kaufmann, Ph.D., Past Secretary, Creation Research Society and Professor of Applied Physiology (Retired), University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl. He has written as follows: “In his book, The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible, Dr. James Ivey, although a physician, has done his homework in both the physical sciences and philosophy.
“He argues that modern physics, relativity and quantum mechanics strongly infer the existence of God. He concludes that the historical man, Jesus of Nazareth, was not a lunatic or a liar, but truly God. He submits that Biblical Christianity has all the truth in it and is radically different from all other faiths. His book is a must read for those who have problems with science versus theology.”
Thirty-two reviews of “The Physics…” are available for perusal on this book’s Amazon page.
My books, “Things Are Not as They Seem,” and “Our Origin and Our Immortality,” are now obsolete; they contained essentially the same material as “The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible” and “Science, Philosophy, and Jesus Christ.” Volume 1 emphasizes the truth of theism and the Biblical God as the true God, and Volume 2 has more to do with why we should expect such a God to come to us as a human and why Jesus is this divine figure.
Following this organizational note, you will find a synopsis of “The Physics….” After that, I have posted chapters from this book, “How God Can Exist and Why He Must” “A Theodicy.” Next, shall find biographical notes, questions and answers, an essay on evil as nothing other than subtraction from good, a treatise on our universe as the thought of God, and a picture of me.
These initial posts are too long for a blog; please bear with me–in the future, most of my posts will be the kind that you can read in ten or fifteen minutes. I hope this site will become conversational. I welcome all comments that are not obscene. This site can be pulled up with the moniker, platoeinsteinandgod.net as well as by platoeinsteinandgod.info. Though I am an old guy, 76 as of April 30, 2015; nevertheless, feel free to call me Jim, if you like. Jim Ivey (MD)
Log-line for “The Physics…:” This writing consists of new thought and novel ideas in relation to the substantial support that relativity, quantum physics, classic philosophy, and history provide regarding the validity of theism and Christianity.”
A blurb for the same book: “The primary premise of The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible is the notion that science, classic philosophy, and history all support the validity of theism and, most specifically, Christianity. This book explains how quantum physics has rendered atheism obsolete and why the true God must be the Creator found in the first two chapters of Genesis. Rational accounting, investigation with the mind’s eye, inevitably leads to the conclusion that this God must timelessly emerge from absolute goodness and that this Personification of The Truth gives rise to One who fervently desires our welfare and love. He is in fact so caring that, when our free will and desire for personal gain lead to our imperfection, which precludes all association with Him, the only Source of life and all other good things, He personally sees to our rescue, even though it entails the greatest possible sacrifice of His human embodiment and executive aspect, Jesus of Nazareth.
Because God is The Truth and The Truth is reality, God’s thought is reality; therefore, whatever He desires exists without His having to call it into existence. Thus, our universe is the thought of God, and mind is primary in our world, superseding matter.
Other theses of The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible are faith as multidimensional and as necessary in science as it is in theology, the history of the Jews as powerful evidence that they are the chosen people of the true God, and the validity of eternal life as confirmed by Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. Additionally, this work tells of the right of the Biblical God to the exclusive love and worship of humanity.
The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible, a synopsis
The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible is a work of Christian apologetics that shows how science, especially modern physics (Relativity and quantum mechanics), supports the truth of the Gospel and of the Old Testament as well. In addition, it exhibits major correlations of philosophy, particularly that of ancient Greece and most especially that of Plato/Socrates, with Judeo-Christian Scripture and shows how history and the Bible connect with one another in a way wherein the one reveals the logic and reality of the other.
This work begins by disclosing my thought, my point of view, my mindset, my beliefs, and my methods, and it tells how I came to think as I do and learn what I know. It describes my experience and relates some of my experiences in my attempts to soar to the heights of unbounded imagination and plumb the depths of the timeless and the tiny. I promise from the outset that I shall be objective and honest to the best of my ability, and I enunciate a theme that is central with regard to this entire book, which is that little or nothing is as it seems in our time-bound, that of our physical senses.
In completing my introductory material, I note and admit that we Christians are imperfect and capable of hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and even occasional dishonesty. Such imperfection makes it particularly difficult for us to obey the command of our Lord to spread and recommend His Gospel and results in our de-emphasizing His mercy and substituting a legalistic doctrine for one of loving Him and doing our best to follow Him. It is therefore a matter of struggling as we try to imitate our God and attempt to cultivate common sense and disdain nonsense to the point of urging prospective votaries to carefully count what the cost of total allegiance to the one true Lord of all might be.
The rest of part 1 of this work consists of six chapters that compare Christianity with other religions and investigate whether science could possibly take its place. In chapter 2, we find (in my view) that it has essentially no competition among other faiths except possibly in the case of Judaism. I compare Christianity with the Jewish faith and with the other more common faiths of our world in the year 2014 AD. Chapter 3 explains why pure science is my third choice after Judaism and Christianity as a worldview of reason that is essentially religious because it is about beliefs, not facts, such that it is just as much a matter of faith as is religion. Pure science, especially modern physics, eminently supports belief in the supernatural and in the truth and truths of Judeo-Christianity, but, though it is compatible with the reality of a timeless realm of pure thought, especially mathematics, it is flawed in several ways.
Chapters 4 through 7 tell of these defects, showing that, while pure science provides us with worldviews that are compatible with reason, it must and indeed does entail faith in a real way because the precepts of science are no more certain than are those of theology. Also in these chapters, we see that science must desert its cornerstone, cause and effect, if it is to account for the ultimate origin of all that exists and that its disciplines cannot clarify their most fundamental precepts. Relativity, quantum physics, and mathematics fall short of providing us with information that tells us why or even how math is utterly consistent and accurate in its ordering all physical events, why or even how electrons move because of electrical imbalance, or why or even how leukocytes in our blood streams “know” to move to a site of infection and how to go about getting there. Modern physics is so mysterious in its showing how the impossible becomes possible and even true in the domain of the smallest of the small or how space-time can warp, bend, so that the velocity of light in a vacuum never varies. I spend so much ink on science because I was raised to revere it, and I still do.
In part 2, The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible deals first with my ideas concerning the possible origin of God, though, because reality is timeless, He may need no origin. Science deals with reality as we perceive it with our physical senses, and it cannot avoid materialism as part of its foundation. Therefore, it can have nothing to do with origin, and, when the pure scientist tries to account for Beginning with doxa, our world as it appears to us with our senses, it becomes entangled with the issue of time vs. timelessness and is unable to analyze the evolution of our universe prior to 10-43 seconds after the big bang. The discipline of cosmology is non-existent during that period, and one must therefore turn to theology and possibly philosophy in that period in order to shed any light on beginning/origin. As there was no matter during that infinitesimally short time-span, one must turn to the immaterial, i.e. abstraction or abstractions, in order to try to talk sensibly about what happened “then.” In my opinion, it is The Truth that characterizes and orchestrates the first 10-43 second of the existence of our world.
The Truth is all-Goodness, everything that is good, particularly everything that is good for cognitive individuals. The two most basic and important aspects of goodness that come to mind are The Law of Human Nature, which is the irrefutable rules of human behavior, and mathematics. Noting that Stephen Hawking, a very smart man, at least implied in A Brief History of Time that something must have been sufficiently compelling to initiate the world, because we do exist, I say that The Truth is the most compelling entity ever and that it must therefore be the “Arche’,” the “Ruling Principle” that gave rise to everything else that is. I further claim that the Arche’ has to be irrepressible and that, in the absence of mind, it could do only a single thing, personify. Doing so, this Truth became a perfect person, and all-Goodness is perfect. This Person had to be pure mind, and, as such, He could and can think, and His thought, which is (logically) just as compelling as the Truth, is reality, such that whatever He imagines exists. (I do deal with gender in this work, but I shall not do so in this synopsis.) Mind is thus primary in our world, as Sirs Arthur Eddington and James Jeans noted early in this century. Hence we have the first chapter of part 2.
In the second chapter thereof, chapter 9, I show that the precepts of modern physics, especially those of Relativity, prove that we all live forever (though not all of us are likely to experience eternal life happily. Our universe as logos, which is our world as reason and of the mind’s eye, includes timelessness and therefore eternal existence in its make-up, and it is, according to Albert Einstein, ultimately real, whereas our time-bound universe is not, as it is fraught with entities that are not as they seem, such as time and space, more correctly called space-time. Thus, there is ultimately no past or future, only an eternal present, such that time is not what it seems to be, and death, which is caused by time, is also not as it seems, such that we all live forever. The only reality is in the present, and we are alive in the present; therefore, we live eternally.
Perspective, one of the most important aspects of our lives on earth, is tremendously well-illustrated by death. How the dying person perceives it is likely a lot different from the way that observers of the death scene view it. The latter, in my view, experience it as the termination of a worn-out person who often appears to be afraid, while the expiring person experiences transition, either to a realm of joy or to one of darkness and eternal misery, depending upon whether he or she has devoted him or herself, in life, to The Truth, the Source of everything. Many people appear content at death, thought many do not. Jesus is the difference; Corrie ten Boom, formerly in a Nazi concentration camp, analogized by saying that the last thing her father did before he put her on a train was to give her her ticket, and it seems to me as though the death of a Christian is ultimately like awakening from a bad dream.
Chapter 10 of part 2 concerns the phenomenon of quantum observation, which is the precept that nothing exists until it is observed. Thus, a tree that falls in a forest has not actually fallen until a cognitive person observes its falling. I reiterate here that mind, specifically that of God, is primary in our world, such that there can be mind without matter, as in the case of spirits, but not matter without mind. The thought of something’s living without a body is extremely strange to us, but it is no more so than virtually the entire science of quantum physics, which is, in fact, the division of science that proves that the concept of matterless mind is valid. The most fundamental truth of quantum mechanics, i.e. quantum physics, is that matter has a dual nature, existing as minuscule packets and also as waves, which are matterless. (Our entire bodies, including our brains, could exist with all their atoms in the wave state, and that in itself proves that matter is ultimately an abstraction because, in that state, we have form but no substance.) Quantum physicists have found and shown that, when the most fundamental of the parts of matter, elemental particles such as quarks and electrons, are under observation, they exist as quanta and that, when they are not being watched, they exist as waves. Thus, we clearly have, as an irrefutable principle of our world, that mind is foundational in it while matter is not.
Chapter 12, preceding some conclusions and a glossary, relates quantum observation to the creation of our world as described in Genesis. This process is two-fold, wherein God created the potential of the existence of our universe as in, “Let there be … ,” and then actualized it with ” … and God saw that it was good.” This method of creation jibes perfectly with what we observe in laboratories of quantum physics, and, since no other God is recorded as having created in this manner, the Judeo-Christian God must be the true God. Hence, we share the actualization aspect of creation with our God, though we cannot perform His creation of potential.
The Truth Is Inevitable: How God Can Exist and Why He Must
Having eternal does not guarantee that one will have a happy eternal life. Such an existence, in timelessness, is prospectively so unfamiliar that it is frightening because it is a matter of being thrust into a void, a spaceless nothing with no communication. One needs a Guide in such a sphere, and there is only One of these available, One who is the destination.
“Where could this Guide come from?” we ask. “How could He ever come to be?” These two questions are almost synonymous with two others: “Does God exist, and, if He does, how can that be?” My answer is that He indeed exists, and He is the God of the Christian Bible. Let us explore His credentials in this regard, and, if there is anyone else who could hold out such hope for us, let us see who that might be.
The Arche’: “Ruling principle,” that from which everything that is emanates. Various entities have been held up throughout history as the identity of the Arche’. I say It is The Truth.
The Truth is all-Goodness, everything that is good for the cognitive. It consists of no evil and all absolutes, e.g.. mathematics and various ethical principles e.g. “Love is a good thing,” and “Murder is a bad thing.” It contains all knowledge of excellence and probably a lot more besides. The Truth is unique: it is an abstraction without origin, as it needs no creation in order to exist.
Yet, How can we say that an abstraction is capable of doing anything, particularly since abstractions are timeless. Doing something is an event, and events are time-bound occurrences. That is a difficult question; I can only say that Stephen Hawking, in his bestseller, A Brief History of Time, did not shy from at least speculating with regard to an abstraction as the Arche’. Here his words as he wrote them almost at the end of this book. “Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? Or does it need a creator, and, if so, does he have any other effect on the universe? And who created him.” The unified theory is an abstraction; thus, if one wishes to dispute my idea of an abstraction that can do something, he will have to go up against Hawking. 2
There is no alternative to Goodness as the origin of everything. We see in our present lives that it is the most compelling entity with regard to causing desirable things to happen, and that has always been the case. The universe and we are here, and there must be a reason why. There is no entity other than The Truth that is as compelling and which contains within itself all the ingredients of a perfect creation.
If we agree that there is any such thing as The Truth, what can we say about its potential? Consider a boulder on the side of a hill that is more or less round. The longer it lies on the hillside, the more likely it is to roll down (unless it sinks into the ground, but let us allow that it does not). In timelessness, there is no difference between potential and kinesis; therefore, such a boulder outside of time will roll down – there is no doubt about it. It rolls down or it is rolling down; it did not roll down, and it will not roll down, because, outside of time, there is no past or future – only a forever present.
Now, what is it that The Truth can do? Every possible thing here takes mind in order that it may be imagined and then come into actuality by way of the force of personality. But we have no life yet in the course of our discussion. It personifies because personification requires no guidance or direction. Beisdes, if The Truth did not personify into a living Person, it would be inferior to all living things e.g. humans, and The Truth is superior to everything else. As it is perfection, it personifies into Perfection. The Truth gives rise to God. But let us again be careful because “gives rise” sounds like an event. It is more accurate to say that The Truth equilibrates with God; it is equivalent to God and is that forever. Put another way, The Truth gives rise to God constantly and forever, and God does the same with regard to The Truth.
Remember that Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life4 and that the truth is what philosophers have always sought. he opiate of the people,” but he went against the grain of history in doing so. We humans have not believed in deity since the disappearance of pre-history in the mist of time because of fear of death; we have done so because such existence seems most likely in terms of what we observe and experience in our world. Until quite recent times, the great majority of people in the world did not even imagine that atheism could be a rational way of looking at things. (It seems to me that consensus is highly important – that humanity would have to be a race of stupidity in order to have believed to such a degree as we have and for such a long period as we have while living in a state of the absence of any divinity.) Atheism was not wide-spread until the 19th century.
Those who dispute the existence of divinity these days do so on three bases, all of which are weak: They say something lik takes advantage of the average person’s mediocre knowledge of science. Next, they tend to assume that modern individuals are basically more intelligent than people who lived five to ten thousand years ago in spite of the fact that, by their own admission, evolution is a very slow-going process. Third, they tend to claim that science has disproved the existence of God, when there is no direct or positive evidence at all that this is true. In conjunction with this, they claim that the corporate knowledge of humankind has grown to the point that we, as a race, are too sophisticated to believe “fairy tales.” Fourth, they falsely assume that theology is based entirely on claims of authority, tradition, fear-mongering, rationalization, lack of intelligence, and lack of objective research. (Footnote – Polkinghorne) Fifth, they ignore consensus, that has changed little concerning the truth of the existence of one or more gods since ancient times and before. Sixth, they fail to realize, or perhaps realize but are unwilling to admit that science is as much about faith as is religion. They speak of scientific knowledge and religious belief, a false concept through and through. (See chapter 9.) Seventh, many of the more scientific minded of them try to tell us that the combination of the strong and final anthropic principles constitutes a reasonable concept of creation. These are utterly fantastic theories backed by no evidence. Eighth, they turn their heads to the side and ignore the fact that quantum mechanics has nearly proved the existence of God such that the discoveries of Albert Einstein and Max Planck and his successors have more than reversed the anti-religion effects of Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud.
In casual conversation, I have most often heard the expression, “Well, I just think it happened to happen” as a non-explanation of the beginning of the universe. I call this the “chancist” position. With there being no evidence against the existence of God, one cannot avoid the suggestion that those who believe such a thing lack broadmindedness and probably wish to avoid confronting the subject together. The person who believes this non-solution tends to believe that the religious have no objectivity; yet, by holding to such an idea, the atheistic reveal their own subjectivity.
Famous Proofs of the Existence of God
The best known attempts at proving God’s existence are those of Anselm (1033 -1109) and Rene’ Descartes (1596 -1650). Descartes, who demanded rationality of the highest order, satisfied himself that God is real and that He lives as a Person by reasoning as follows. He said he could imagine a perfect being, and that he could imagine a unicorn. He knew a unicorn possessed one horn, by definition, but he did not know whether a unicorn existed. However, he could see that there was no necessity in the unicorn’s existence in terms of the satisfaction of logic. It could be and remain a figment of one’s imagination without comprising an affront to reason. On the other hand, the Perfect Being exists by definition; without existence, it is not perfect and is not even a being. In other words, lack of e, “Come on and admit it; you don’t really believe this mumbo-jumbo – you are just afraid of death.” In other words, they dismiss God a priori, for no reason. Their method here is intimidation that takes advantage of the average person’s mediocre knowledge of science. Next, they tend to assume that modern individuals are basically more intelligent than people who lived five to ten thousand years ago in spite of the fact that, by their own admission, evolution is a very slow-going process. Third, they tend to claim that science has disproved the existence of God, when there is no direct or positive evidence at all that this is true. In conjunction with this, they claim that the corporate knowledge of humankind has grown to the point that we, as a race, are too sophisticated to believe “fairy tales.” Fourth, they falsely assume that theology is based entirely on claims of authority, tradition, fear-mongering, rationalization, lack of intelligence, and lack of objective research. (Footnote – Polkinghorne) Fifth, they ignore consensus, that has changed little concerning the truth of the existence of one or more gods since ancient times and before. Sixth, they fail to realize, or perhaps realize but are unwilling to admit that science is as much about faith as is religion. They speak of scientific knowledge and religious belief, a false concept through and through. (See chapter 9.) Seventh, many of the more scientific minded of them try to tell us that the combination of the strong and final anthropic principles constitutes a reasonable concept of creation. These are utterly fantastic theories backed by no evidence. Eighth, they turn their heads to the side and ignore the fact that quantum mechanics has nearly proved the existence of God such that the discoveries of Albert Einstein and Max Planck and his successors have more than reversed the anti-religion effects of Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud.
In casual conversation, I have most often heard the expression, “Well, I just think it happened to happen” as a non-explanation of the beginning of the universe. I call this the “chancist” position. With there being no evidence against the existence of God, one cannot avoid the suggestion that those who believe such a thing lack broadmindedness and probably wish to avoid confronting the subject together. The person who believes this non-solution tends to believe that the religious have no objectivity; yet, by holding to such an idea, the atheistic reveal their own subjectivity.
Famous Proofs of the Existence of God
The best known attempts at proving God’s existence are those of Anselm (1033 -1109) and Rene’ Descartes (1596 -1650). Descartes, who demanded rationality of the highest order, satisfied himself that God is real and that He lives as a Person by reasoning as follows. He said he could imagine a perfect being, and that he could imagine a unicorn. He knew a unicorn possessed one horn, by definition, but he did not know whether a unicorn existed. However, he could see that there was no necessity in the unicorn’s existence in terms of the satisfaction of logic. It could be and remain a figment of one’s imagination without comprising an affront to reason. On the other hand, the Perfect Being exists by definition; without existence, it is not perfect and is not even a being. In other words, the non-existence of a Perfect Being constitutes a self-contradiction in our present context., whereas the unicorn can exist only as an abstraction without disturbing the order of things. Therefore, said Descartes, a Perfect Being must exist, according to the rules of classical logic. (He also proffered a second “proof of God’s existence” which involves the premise that the sum of the three angles within any triangle is 180 degrees; this exercise in reason is also ontological and is, in effect, so similar to the one I have just outlined that I do not feel we need to deal with it.)
Anselm began his argument by assuming that God’s revelations are plainly discernable and irrefutable. Working from that stance, he stated his case as follows (I paraphrase freely here, with apologies to the saint.) We can certainly see God in our minds as an abstraction representing that than which no greater can be imagined. Now, we can also imagine Him to be real, and we axiomatically understand that being real is a state that is greater than that of merely being imagined. Thus, we proceed to the thought that, if God exists in the mind alone, He is not that than which no greater can be imagined. Yet we have the ability to make Him that by definition. We have thus uncovered a contradiction which leads us directly to the conclusion that He exists in reality.
My Own Reasoning on this Subject
The connection between creativity and goodness is ever before us in our world.
It has looked all along as though such a Person might indeed exist because “Here we are!” and it would appear that the simplest way for us to have come into existence is for such a God to have made us.
Someone might respond at this point, “That sounds feasible, but how do we know it has already happened, and how do we know it might not happen for a very long time, but, with regard to God’s existence and readiness to create, we are in a timeless context here. Thus, potential equals kinesis God IS from always, such that there can be no relevance to waiting for creation time is therefore not a factor with regard to His creating. We can, in fact, not even say which came first – God or The Truth. Moreover, an omniscient God would quite readily give rise to Truth. Hence, I picture a kind of equilibrium between God and The Truth: God emanates from The Truth and vice versa – both have existed from always. Both God and The Truth are Arche,’ the Prime Movers. This should not be sacrilege for Jews, Christians, or Moslems because The Truth is God, and God is The Truth, and, again, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Now, before I go any further in a dissertation onThe Truth, allow me to make one particular thing clear: I do not say that I am certain with regard to everything in terms of whether it is good or not good or, in fact, whether it is true. I do believe, however, that everything is either good or not good, and that God knows the difference. If two people argue, we accurately say that each has his opinion. That does not mean, however, that both are right; the fact is that one is right, and the other is wrong, even though it may be that no one in the world knows which is which. There are also various degrees of goodness and evil, as in “good, better and best,” and of evil, as in bad, worse, and worst.
“Created” must always be inferior to Creator, and omniscience gives rise to omnipotence. Additionally, The Truth can personify into only a single Being because It is unique, i.e. there is only a single entity with perfection, both qualitatively and quantitatively. If two entities both claim to be perfection and are that, they are identical, and there is in reality only a single entity.
Now, allow me now to lead us through a mental exercise that further supports God’s existence. The majority of intellectuals and others throughout human history have believed that the truth is absolute, i.e., for example, “Murder is a bad thing,” no matter who you are, where you live, what your culture is and when in history you inhabit planet earth. A minority of people have taken the opposite side of the argument: their belief has been that there is nothing that is wrong all the time, in every place, in every culture, and no matter what your status is, in terms of many parameters, in your society. Put as simply as possible, law requires a law-giver, such that we need God for absolute truth to be real and valid. If ours were a universe of chance, arising in a dead and purposeless manner, we would not expect any such thing as absolute truth. Also, in that situation, we would not expect any concept of sin, guilt, regret, or any other similar feelings. Without meaning, there is nothing.
There is exceedingly long precedent for believing that lack of absolute truth leads to nihilism, non-existence. Belief in absolutes and meaning, purpose, and reason connect irrevocably with one another, and disbelief connects with uncertainty. Without absolute Truth, we humans are imaginary, whatever that would mean. With it, we live and can know we do because we can trace our ability to live right back to the beginning.
Basic Buddhism, as excellent as it is concerning the definition and recommendation of desirable behavior, is relativistic with regard to Truth. Certainly, the Dalai Lama is: he stated that clearly in an article in Time Magazine several years ago.3 In that instance, one would expect that the DL would be nihilistic, and it is common knowledge that he is and that he believes he does not actually exist.4
If one believes, with Descartes, “I think, therefore I am,” then a very basic part of Buddhism is based on error, such a fundamental part that this faith lies in ruins because a crucial part of its foundation is wrong such that it can no longer
Sophism, the ultimate humanism of the time of Socrates.
Gorgias, the ultimate example of Sophism in Plato’s day, quite readily stated that he doubted his own existence. Death to him was therefore irrelevant. In some sense and to some degree, this is true with regard to Christianity as well, but there are major differences. Though it takes adherents to The Truth to a glorious state, the shadowy and frightening passage to that destination and state – – death — is not to be taken lightly. Death is in no way good; it is thoroughly bad. It is not a “part of life.” Jesus considered it to be a tragedy and wept in its presence.5 There could be something positive to be said for it were it not the wages of sin which is deviation from The Truth.7
In addition, in both Buddhism and Sophism, votaries go from death to death; I do not wish to be insulting, but to go from non-life to consumption by nirvana, is essentially death to death, from quasi-identity to no identity at all. In Christianity, one goes from life to better life, from some to complete and glorious identity. Again, in Sophism and Buddhism, one goes from nothing to nothing, whereas, in Christianity, one passes from something to something better.
Another way in which we may reason is as follows. When one denies the existence of natural laws, axiomatic and irrefutable Natural Law of the ethical kind, then one has nothing to discuss with anyone else. What kind of debate, what kind of argument, what kind of agreement, what kind of worthwhile, gratifying, and enjoyable discussion can we have if there is no such thing as a conclusion that is worth coming to. Why in that instance bother to have a discussion to begin with?
Yet we know that communication among humans is crucial. Lack of communication leads to chaos (which is, of course, the hallmark of Satan). Do humans hold learning up as good? Even where advocates of relative truth are concerned, the answer is yes. Yet, no one of the words we have used to describe Satan or evil is can be logically connected with the pursuit of learning. What is the use of an imaginary person’s exchanging beliefs or so-call knowledge with anyone. Nothing could be more vain. Communication and learning may indeed, as I discussed in chapter 3, be even more important components of The Truth than love because, without love, it would probably not be worthwhile to exist, but, without learning and communication, we essentially do not exist. Objective research has revealed that solitude for extended periods of time leads to profound changes in human mentality for the worse.
The Sophists had as their life’s work persuasion that thus and such is true, knowing all the time that there is no truth and that nothing is true (or false). This makes them liars from the beginning, and can it be a coincidence that lies are at the end of the spectrum from truth? Can it be a coincidence that Satan is the father of lies? In any God-Satan discourse, The Truth speaks and the liar answers. (Satan’s basic lie is a matter of pride, that he is or can become equal to God.) 7
I must amplify the statement I made that God is the Arche’, since you can essentially hear that in church without bothering to read a book on Christian apologetics. We all know what the next question is: “Who created Him?” I think that a very reasonable answer to that question can be formulated, though it will of course never be proved. God is the Personification of The Truth. God is The Truth, and The Truth is God. God exists because The Truth IS, and the HE IS the Personification of The Truth, for His existence the First Cause cannot have a cause — Prime Mover cannot require creation in order to exist. The Truth is axiomatic. The Truth is inevitable. The Truth must exist. No other entity has these characteristics. God as The Truth and The Truth as God is the only candidate for this something. We do not have to accept this, if we are ready to give up science and therefore causation, but I am not prepared to do that. I believe that modern physics and even string theory are basically correct, and we have seen that Relativity and quantum physics correlate beautifully with the Bible and its God.
This Truth is everything that that is axiomatic, as I have essentially said, and it appears that everything that is axiomatic is also be everything that is good for cognitive individuals. The components of The Truth are mathematics; obvious ethical statements, e.g. “Love is a good thing”; and the ultimately greatest entities, states, and qualities, such as life, communication, learning, love, and humility; there may also be other aspects or parts of It. The Truth cannot be prevented, and It cannot be terminated.
The ultimate state of things is timeless. If this is so, God did not emanate from The Truth in time; therefore, though we can say God proceeded from The Truth, we can just as truthfully say that The Truth emanated from Him. God has always been; He exists from always. We can represent The Truth and God as being in a kind of equilibrium, like a chemical equation that denotes a reaction that can go in either direction.
Here is a fun story to define a term I will be using from time to time: There once was a little old lady who was heckling a young cosmologist who was trying to explain in scientific terms, as best he could, the origin of our universe. From the back of the room, she enunciated in a loud voice, “Young man, everyone knows the earth is all there is to the world we live in and that it is supported on the back of a huge tortoise.” Thinking he had her where he wanted her, he responded, “Please tell me, Ma’am, what is supporting that tortoise?” “You are very clever, young man, but it’s turtles, all the way down!”
Natural Law; The Contents of Conscience
Natural Law or “The Law of Human Nature,” which was C.S. Lewis’ favorite term 8
to apply to it, may well join mathematics as the two main constituents of The Truth. It may be synonymous with The Absolute Standard of Ethics; neither, in any case, is of human origin. C.S. Lewis presents, in the first chapter of Mere Christianity, evidence that there is a God from Whom conscience flows into our minds, bringing us this or that component of Natural Law when and as we need it in making the choices that every day brings. Even the person who claims to be an relative ethicist will cite it if he or she feels that he or she is being mistreated – treated unfairly. That is the contradiction of belief in relative ethics; in fact, such belief leads the believer into a reductio as absurdum situation. Otherwise, he cannot complain about anything; he must say things like, “Oh, you just punched me in the eye rendering me blind. But – that could be good. Once he says it is bad that you did so, he has appealed to that which he claims does not exist.
There was once a giant panda who appealed to relative truth, and he got away with it. I must admit this exception. He walked into a restaurant and ordered a mean. The waiter brought it, and he sat down and ate it all. Then, he stood up, pulled out a pistol, shot the waiter dead, and left. He was arrested and tried: his defense was that he was merely engaging in normal panda behavior. He said, “Your honor, if you will consult Wikipedia, you will find that the normal panda eats shoots and leaves. He was acquitted.
Well, that was a special case, one that comes under the heading of tongue-in-cheek. Ordinarily, absolute truth is absolutely where it’s at. Let us look at what Lewis says in the reference I have cited. “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking your promise to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties don’t matter; but then, next minute they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong – in other words, if there is no Law of Nature – what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else? It seems then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table.”
Thus, there is a standard unspoken Natural Law that governs all ethical situations, and even its contents are not disputed to any significant degree. The relative ethicist thinks he believes that what is right or wrong is dependent upon factors like cultural tradition, the time in history that one occupies, the place on earth what a person lives, or some other situational factors, and situation is all about humans, and has nothing to do with any higher power. Therefore, relative ethicism is based upon the claim by Protagoras that “Man is the measure of all 9
things.”6 Because ethics are determined by way of humanity in this system of belief, it is based on opinion; opinion is all humans have because we have no authority that we can use to back up our beliefs,, except in the case of Natural Law, absolute Truth, and God. The person who champions absolute morality has God to fall back on.
People who believe in relative truth debate, but they do so in arguments where there can be no winner, according to the believer in relative truth.
Examples of relative ethics that relativists have been known to put forward are that, if you are a Mafia member, murder may not always be bad; if you live in the southern islands of the Pacific ocean, it may be okay for you to practice free love. They are disadvantaged from the first, however, as their opposition only needs a single example of the truth and reality of absolute ethics to show that the relativist position is incorrect, and I do not think anyone can make a case for child abuse. Another good example of the weakness of the relativist position is seen in a psychiatrist’s office when the practitioner labels a person sociopathic when the patient’s behavior substantially and persistently harms others; a diagnostic assessment of this sort meets essentially no opposition. Yet, the accused might say, “It is a lifestyle with me. I am a child abuser; therefore, it is normal for me to abuse children. You go to football games; I get my kicks by scalding little girls. In addition, very few deny the goodness of Mother Theresa or Albert Schweitzer.
The Law of Human Nature is like mathematics, much like the multiplication table, in that it represents part of absolute truth, but is ordinarily taught to us by parents and/or teachers. We cannot tell whether something is a mere useful convention or an axiomatic truth of nature by how it gets into our minds. Absolute Truth is “out there” – it exists from always to always without any dependence on humanity or even God. It is God; at least, it is part of God. The relative truth person might just as well not bother to quarrel about anything, for, by his own admission, he cannot be right, just as his opponent cannot be right.
The Natural Law of Ethics is our reference for telling which of two sets of morals is correct or more nearly correct than another, but the relative ethicist cannot reference the ultimate standard; therefore, he cannot participate in this investigation and determination. This person is highly handicapped; he can hardly function at all. Again quoting Lewis, “If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something – some Real Morality – for them to be true about.”7
The Stoics of ancient Greece based their thought on God, the Truth and Natural Law, and their concepts have been virtually uncontested to the present day, at least in places where freedom predominates. The writers of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America had no difficulty in perceiving 10
Natural Law, were thoroughly dependent upon it in their deliberations, and were well aware of the fate of countries that had floundered by ignoring it.
Lewis nicely outlined the rules and regulations of numerous societies throughout history in the Appendix of his book, The Abolition of Man,9 showing that marked similarities exist/have existed among these various cultures in spite of major differences in religion and even differences in ways of thinking that are highly variable and fundamental. Again in Mere Christianity, Lewis introduces this appendix thus: “If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks, and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where and two made five.8
Selfishness has never been admired by anyone. Men have differed as to whether one should have one wife or four, but they have never agreed that it is proper for a man to have any woman he likes.
Humans all over the world have basically the same set of morals, from the pressure of which we cannot rid ourselves. We hear a voice of conscience emanating from Eternal Truth and telling us what us ought to do, but all of us break these laws with considerable regularity, whether we think we believe in absolute morality or not.10 Lewis calls these two observations “the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.”
Whether we agree or not regarding the existence of an absolute standard of ethics that supersedes humanity, one thing is certain: we do not follow it very well, and all of us consistently make excuses when it becomes apparent to others that we are not doing so – even those who deny the existence of absolute Truth. In this way, all of us provide more evidence yet of its universality and genuineness. Again, Lewis: “If we do not believe in decent behavior, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently?”
The relative ethicist often attempts to play upon the idea that human progress has left behind the need for rules because we are now like adults, able to regulate ourselves, whereas in ancient times, which were brutal times, we could not, or at least did not, do that. Such a claim is belied by the fact that the twentieth century probably has given us the most extreme examples of the abandonment of Natural Law ever seen on planet earth in the hubris, savagery, and devotion to murder of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. They appealed to the most base and dark regions of human souls, smothering kindness and decency by lighting fires of resentment, envy, and prejudice. They used their power to consume, just like Satan does.11 11
Like the Sophists of old, Hitler dominated thorough rhetorical persuasion, while Stalin concentrated on the use of fear and force. The German megalomaniac monster mesmerized while the Moscow monster brutalized.
Natural Law provides the basis of true liberalism, belief in the freedom of the individual to do as he chooses so long as he does no harm to anyone else, directly or indirectly, in the process. Such is an example of eternal and axiomatic truth, potential if there are no extant cognitive individuals to practice it. The antithesis of this way of thinking begins in earnest with Nietzsche and his supermen, though it was foreshadowed long before by Heraclitus. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, even in the case of the originally visionary Alexander the Great, who degenerated into a murderous and utterly arrogant carouser. Any superman of Nietzsche provides a similar example; this man died in an asylum for the insane. Heraclitus was no philosopher,12 and Nietzsche was no authority.
God does not waffle; yet, He is not entirely inflexible, and He is certainly not compulsive. There may be times when the various parts of the Rules about Right and Wrong are or seem to be mutually exclusive, though this does not interfere with their validity or their effectiveness. If you, for example, resolve to follow a single admonition of the Absolute Standard of Ethics at all costs, you may neglect another aspect of the standard to the detriment of both yourself and others. It is not a good thing, for example, to invariably maintain love for humanity at the expense of justice. Our principle of political correctness emanates from this error – that of applying the Rules without an element of common sense and judgment thrown in. A starving person who kills for a loaf of bread cannot be condoned or allowed to go unpunished without wounding a system of order and justice.
A detail that needs to be mentioned here is that there may be differences among people’s ideas of decent behavior that are apparent but not real because of current/prevalent misconception. For example, the absence of persecution and execution of supposed witches in the United States in the present era may be not so much a matter of kindness or the application of Christian belief as it is a matter of the fact that, unlike the people of Salem, Massachusetts of 1692, most of us do not believe that effective evil power is available for the asking nowadays, such that we, by and large, do not believe in witches, whereas many of our forebears did. If we believed as they did, that there were women in our midst who had sold their souls to the devil and had received in turn supernatural powers that they were using in murderous fashion against their neighbors, there would no doubt be a lot of people about in favor of terminating them.
The Origin of Natural Law
There are many who will try to tell you that our morals are the result of evolution. A summary of my feelings here is “Nice guys finish last.” Leo Durocher coined 12
this saying in order to express the sentiment that empathy directed toward opponents in sports is likely to lead to losing ballgames. It is probably true that nice guys fare poorly in our time-bound world, but, in eternity, in the long run, their prospects of comfort and happiness are infinitely greater than those of the self-seeking. There is no evolutionary advantage to being a nice guy. Hence, good morals, especially consideration of one’s neighbor, are not commensurate with the survival of the fittest, such that the fact that so many people are so altruistic almost proves the existence of God and is equally evidential with regard to His goodness.
Indeed, the majority of us experience innate impulsion to help others that feels quite natural, and many if not most of us are willing to risk our lives in order to yield to it. There are plenty of seemingly bad people who will rush to a burning automobile in order to pull someone out of it, and, when asked later why they thus risked their lives, they do not know. When these occasions arise in which we seem to be impelled toward rendering aid, our feeling is that we ought to help when we really don’t want to, and Lewis observes that this is strange indeed.13 He suggests that we analyze as follows: We ordinarily do not have just two feelings in response to this kind of call for help; we have three. We feel we ought to help and are also worried about incurring the risk of injury or death, but, in addition, we perceive a sort of voice that judges which response on our part would be right, good and correct and urges us to enact it.
Again, this voice of conscience is disadvantageous from an evolutionary point perspective, since it tends to place us in danger. Also, it cannot be one of the other two urges. We have talked at length about the nature of the God of the Bible, and we can easily see here that The Law of Human Nature is something we might well associate with Him, considering His attributes, particularly as described in Chapter 14 of Things Are Not as They Seem. It is not likely that we on our own would have three thoughts about the single situation in question here: “do it,” “don’t do it,” and “you ought to do it.” The third one sounds out of place as an intrinsic idea. It comes from God, and it is the abstraction we call Natural Law. It centers on unselfishness and love, which means that it correlates quite well with the message of Jesus.
The Law of Human Nature can be about intent, because of our free will. To be resolved to do something evil is bad in itself, even if circumstances arise that prevent one’s carrying out his plans. Lewis notes that he is angry at a person who tries to steal his briefcase even if the person doesn’t succeed, but that he is not angry at the man who is occupying the best seat on the train because he got there first – in other words, for a reason that is reasonable and fair, in spite of its interfering with Lewis’ comfort. In this context, let us recall that the God of the Bible has given us free will and that one of Jesus’ interpretations of Old Testament Law consists of bringing intent into the mix—the concept that intending to do something that is evil is as bad as actually doing it.14 Thus, Natural Law seems right at home in God’s Word, especially in the New Testament.
We would not expect to be able to perceive a Creator/Maintainer/Super-Intelligence outside of the universe except perhaps through faith or by way of revelation on His part, which happened through Jesus. There is a second way we could imagine that He might reveal Himself, and that would be for Him to indwell us so as to have an intimate effect on us. He indeed does this through His Holy Spirit, in the case of those who will allow; at least part of which the Holy Spirit communicates to us is the Natural Law that we have been discussing. Thus, we find in ourselves just what we would expect if the Holy Spirit spoken of in the Bible is real and concerned about us – particularly the Holy Spirit Jesus said He would send to His followers. Therefore, out of two good ways in which we might expect God to show Himself to us, He has done both. We might further expect that His message would be what He wants us to do and not do, and, lo and behold, Bible study reveals that this is exactly the case. Every person who believes himself educated should have read the entire Bible at least once or twice.
There are some who say there is no use in trying to “find” God because he is so far “above” us. There is no one who thinks of Him as having greater magnitude than I so, but I still think it is good that we maximize our efforts to find Him, because we could not possibly need Him more. He is as close as the air we breathe. Look t it this way. Consider Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Einstein pictured us as existing in a universe that is comparable to the surface of a sphere. A little use of one’s imagination reveals that this means that we are no distance from timelessness.
Good parents desire maximal closeness with their offspring and desire that their children understand them to the greatest degree possible, though they may have parts of themselves that they will never share. I think God is like this and that, in the absence of our existence and mutual communication, He might be lonely or at least not be as happy as He could otherwise be. (I hope this is true for His sake, for He has sacrificed much for us.) I actually believe, however, that He intends for lovers of The Truth that is Him to learn of Him to a degree and an extent that we cannot possibly begin to imagine. I think of heaven as primarily the joy of exploring His Mind forever and possibly as a realm “where” we learn with Him throughout all of eternity.
The Truth Is Irrepressible
The Truth represents potential of the highest order. It’s component, mathematics, underlies the all of the mechanics of the universe, all action thereof, by way of equations like f = ma, force equals mass times acceleration. Mathematics underlies existence as well as action. We have previously seen that 14
all matter reduces to energy and that the warping of space-time is precisely captured in mathematical equations.
It would seem to be obvious that mathematics can be placed in the category of “good things,” and, on the level of time-bound cognition, it is goodness (and only goodness) that underlies everything meaningful that ever happens because goodness is constructive and creative. Evil is destructive, and is therefore unable to be associated with any true progress—any worthwhile event.
Nothing is weaker than a lie, and the components of The Truth that we have discussed are what drive our existence. Also, something must be the Arche’ because we and our universe exist, and, though we cannot fully visualize the mechanism of The Truth’s personifying, its existence without the need for creation and its personification add up to the only possible explanation for the existence of the universe and humans.
If we consider The Truth to be all-Goodness, there is actually nothing additional to think about as a possible bottom turtle except for evil, but evil is never creative or constructive. We clearly see that in the world in which we live. (We probably have things and events in our world that are neutral in terms of good and evil, but it is impossible to think of such entities as compelling.)
There is no wound in the absence of the wounded. There is no death in the absence of the living. The following story beautifully illustrates what I am saying.
Did God Create Evil? The university professor challenged his students with this question: “Did God create everything that exists? “A student bravely replied, “Yes, he did!” “God created everything?” the professor asked. “Yes sir,” the student replied. “Are you a Christian, son?” “Yes, I am.” The professor then asked, “If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and, according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.” The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth. Another student raised his hand and asked,” May I ask you a question professor?” “Of course,” replied the professor. The student stood up and asked, ”Professor, does cold exist?” The professor replied “Of course it exists. Have you never been cold? “The students snickered at the young man’s question. The young man replied, “In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to The laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is a result of what makes a body, or matter, have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (- 460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat. “This is going to be a good semester,” thought the prof. The student continued. “Professor, does darkness exist?” The professor responded, “Of course it does. “The student replied, “Once again, sir, you are wrong. Darkness also does not exist. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. We can study light, but we cannot study darkness. In fact we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain area is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present. This is going to be a great semester, thought the professor. “Finally the young man asked the professor. “Sir, does evil exist? “Now uncertain, the professor responded, “Of course, as I have already said, we see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil. “To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. Evil arose innately It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat and the darkness that comes when there is no light. “The professor replied, “Son, you are more perceptive than most. E-mail me what you have just said; I would like to ponder it. I look forward to more discussion on the subject and on the subject of whether God is real.” “Is God good?” “Sure! God’s good.” “Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?” “Yes” “Are you good or evil?” “The Bible says I’m evil.” The professor grins knowingly.. “Aha! The Bible!” He considers for a moment. “Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?” “Yes sir, I would.” “So you’re good….?” “I wouldn’t say that.” “But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.” 16
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. ‘He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Can you answer that one?” The student remains silent. “No, you can’t, can you?” the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. “Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?” “Er..yes,” the student says. “Is Satan good?” The student doesn’t hesitate on this one and replies, “No.” “Then where does Satan come from?” The student falters. “From God” “That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?” “Yes, sir..” “Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?” “Yes” “So who created evil?” The professor continued, “If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.” Again, the student has no answer. “Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?” The student squirms on his feet. ‘Yes.’ “So who created them?” The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. “Who created them?” There is still no answer. 17
Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. “Tell me,” he continues onto another student. “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?” The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. “Yes, professor, I do.” The old man stops pacing. “Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?” “No sir, I’ve never seen Him.” “Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?” “No, sir, I have not.” “Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?” “No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.” “Yet you still believe in him?” “Yes” “According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?” “Nothing,” the student replies. “I only have my faith.” “Yes, faith,” the professor repeats. “And that is the problem science has with God.. There is no evidence, only faith.” The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. “Professor, is there such thing as heat?” “Yes.” “And is there such a thing as cold?” “Yes, son, there’s cold too.” “No sir, there isn’t.” 18
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. “You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit down to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.” Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer. What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?” “Yes,” the professor replies without hesitation. “What is night if it isn’t darkness?” “You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?” The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. “So what point are you making, young man?” “Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.” The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. “Flawed? Can you explain how?” “You are working on the premise of duality,” the student explains. “You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be 19
ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it. Now tell me, professor… Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?” “If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.” “Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?” The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed. “Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?” The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided. “To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.” The student looks around the room. “Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?” The class breaks out into laughter. “Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir. So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?” Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers, “I Guess you’ll have to take them on faith.” “Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,” the student continues. “Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?” Now uncertain, the professor responds, “Of course, there is. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.” To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it 20
does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.” The professor sat down.
Positivity underlies all creative events of significance; all positivity is good, and all that is good is positive except in the case of the removal of a subtraction, e.g. the removal of cancer, from a person’s body. In the latter case, we have the subtraction of a subtraction, and we know that, for example, eight minus a minus three is, eleven, such that the subtraction of a negative entity involves two minuses, and two minuses make a plus. Thus, the removal of something bad, is a positive act. All evil is negative, and all negativity is evil, or at least useless, except when something bad is subtracted. As the sum total of all of goodness, conveniently abbreviated to “all-Goodness,” and all positivity, The Truth is so compelling as to be irresistible in terms of causing events, though there is only one event it can cause, and that is its personification. All other events would require the pre-existence of something actual like the Personification of The Truth, and the Personification can deal with these once He has arisen.
As creativity is a good thing, we would expect the Personification of Goodness, The Truth, to be creative. As The Truth is not only good, but all-Good, the Best, we would expect its Personification to be maximally creative. A person of maximal creativeness would be able to make any and every thing (good) and probably would be able to do so without difficulty. Having proposed that His thought is reality, I believe we have here a second reason to believe this might be so. I am not talking about sleight of hand here; there is nothing magic about God or His creative ability. It is not a “Let there be….” and “Zap! There it is” thing. It is a matter of the nature of God and of The Truth. These natures are inevitable, and, if all that I have said about God and The Truth are true, one would expect a God Who emanated from The Truth to be, at least for practical purposes, omnipotent. If He is that and maximally creative, His thought’s comprising reality would follow seamlessly. Now, knowledge and wisdom are vital ingredients in any person’s ability to do things. Therefore, omnipotence cannot be separated from omnipotency. We humans are able to make things by thinking, planning, learning and the acquisition of needed materials, followed by some work. That being so, it does not seem strange to me that God, on a level of existence much higher than ours and vastly superior to us, would be able to create by thinking, that whatever He thought of would be, would come to exist. Having expected this ability of His on a philosophical basis, we then find that bright and famous scientists e.g. Sir Arthur Eddington and Sir James Jeans believed in it for scientific reasons, because of the profound “fall-out” of quantum physics and Relativity. Then we 21
can consult the first chapters of the book of Genesis and find it in the Bible. We and all that we perceive in the world in which we live are the thought of God. This claim is of course repetitious, but we now have a new reason to believe it.
As the most beautiful aspect of goodness is love, one would logically suspect that God created in order to love and be loved – particularly in order that love might be manifested. Now, love means nothing if it is coerced, such that, if I am right about why He made us, He had to give us free will in order to work out his plan and be loved for who He is. This has led to undesired consequences for both Him and us, inevitable considering our lack of perfection. A good God, like a good earthly father, wants to treat His children lovingly at all times, but a father cannot be a good one unless he tries to have his children be all they can be, have proper attitudes and values, and treat others as they should; similarly, God must discipline in order to maintain His very identity, particularly as He is justice personified, as justice is part of The Truth. When the problem is between the Lord of all and people such as us, between perfect Creator and created, it is extremely serious, as we shall see; it is, in fact, a matter of life and death. Moreover, it is not such only with regard to the time-bound world; it is a matter of life vs. what amounts to death in the realm beyond. This is a tremendous problem for humanity; it would in fact be deadly if the Biblical God had not made our problem His. As I have noted, he is unique in this respect. No other supposed god bends so low for the benefit of His votaries. No other supposed God can begin to compare with Him of the Bible in terms of love and mercy. All this causes Him misery, however – misery far beyond any that can ever come our way.
Philosophers have sought the truth as long as there have been philosophers to pursue it; however, they have differed with one another with regard to their concepts of what it is. No doubt most people have thought of it or think of it as the answers to questions like these:”Where did everything come from?” Is there a God in charge of our world?” “If so, what is His nature?” “Do we live in a purposeful universe?” “Is it likely, or even possible, that we will or even can live forever?” They might be correct, but I am going to call these responses to our most profound questions “the Answer,” as I am reserving “The Truth” for something more basic yet, i.e. the Origin of all things, the term that summarizes the description of the identity and nature of the Arche’. Because The Truth is so vital, I am capitalizing not only “Truth” but even “the” when it precedes “Truth.” Now, I realize I have previously referred to God as the Arche’, but it is easy to explain why The Truth is also: God is The Truth, and The Truth is God, He of the Bible.
Pontius Pilate asked, “What is truth?” as The Truth—the incarnation of the true God–stood directly before him. This is probably the most ironical scene in the history of reality. 22
The Contents of The Truth
The Truth is everything that is good, right and correct, containing no bad, wrong, or evil. The Truth is all of goodness that is axiomatic, requiring no creation, requiring no existence of any other entity in order to exist. The Truth is all that is good for cognitive individuals, particularly those who are able to understand the concept of the Answer and its pursuit.
The Truth must contain mathematics as math is the entity that most certainly represents knowledge as opposed to belief, and it is my philosophical belief that “2 + 2 = 4” is true even in the absence of anything to count (just as “Love is a good thing” is true even in the absence of lovers.) The Truth must also contain the Natural Law, the “Law of Human Nature,” that by which conscience urges us to live—all things good. These might be categorized as “Other (in addition to math) obvious truths. Natural Law, synonymous with the Absolute Standard of Ethics, also contains all good qualities that cognitive people can have, e.g. excellence, honesty, lovingness, humility, friendliness, creativity, and desire to communicate and learn, though these may not comprise anything additional to the axiomatic ethical principles I have just exemplified. It is not really necessary to put these into an additional category, however, because, if we take any of these qualities and put “is a good thing” after it, we have an irrefutable moral statement.
As I have essentially said, The Truth is the Personality of the one true God—the contents of His Mind; it is the summation of perfection, and there can only be a single perfect Being because, for there to be more than one, the personality sets of the others would have to be different from that of this Divinity, and, if they were different, they could not be perfect. On the other hand, if they were perfect, they would be Him and not a different or additional Being. The true God is, in fact, Being itself, as Parmenides noted so very long ago.14
The Truth is the abstract counterpart of the unique Person Who is the one, the unique, God. In book 2, we will discuss in detail why He must be He of the Bible. God is the Person here, and The Truth is His abstract counterpart, just as your personality is your abstract counterpart. Both may be considered to be the Arche’, and we cannot temporally put one before the other because (1) they are not separate from one another and (2) they are both outside of time.
The Truth is in no way dependent upon humans; it is not the corporate thought of humanity nor is it a summation of all we have learned in pursuing our disciplines and endeavors. Perhaps stated in the most important terms possible, it is not anything of the future, (Footnote – Tipler and Dawkins)—it exists forever and from always in the present and not in the past or future at all. Humans have only scratched the surface of learning, and The Truth goes much more deeply than this surface, though it is not necessarily all knowledge that exists. In any case, The Truth is something that is something that we can find, that we can 23
discover, much as we have already found natural physical laws that underlie and summarize the order of our universe.
As I have essentially said, for The Truth to be the First Cause, the Prime Mover, the Arche’, it would have to exist inevitably, even in the absence of anything else, abstract or actual, and I believe this is the case where The Truth is concerned. If there were no one in existence able to think, for example, the components of The Truth would still be – they would still exist. Gandhi agreed that it is indeed the beginning of all things. (Footnote: Aristotle used “unmoved Mover — apply the other to Gandhi. The third member of the astounding intellectual lineage of Socrates, Plato and himself, believed. These men sat or walked and talked to students and others so very long ago that they may seem to us to reside in a misty past of epic heroes, but they were “regular guys,” real and in no way mythical. Plato’s dialogues do not include Aristotle in their characters, but, in reading these gems, wherein Socrates is usually the source of all wisdom, one almost feels as though he or she is part of the conversations. Plato transports us back to ancient Athens and makes at least the more imaginative of us integral parts of scenarios that seem as ordinary as modern day poker games, but are at the same time examples of the most sublime debates and other intellectual conversations that have ever graced our planet with the exception of the discourse of the gospels. Socrates is my greatest hero save Jesus and possibly Joan of Arc, and I am ever grateful to Plato for presenting his thought and no doubt many of his very words to us.)
An Interesting Sidelight
Though I am not sure it is necessary, I cannot resist addressing the question as to whether The Truth contains all worthwhile knowledge or not. There would seem to be major consequences or implications that result if this is so and if this is not so. If The Truth does not contain all meaningful knowledge and God is omniscient, as the majority of religious people in the world believe, God must learn or have learned. If The Truth contains all knowledge of significance, He has nothing to learn.
I noted from the first that I would at times engage in discussion that would not entail strong conviction. I am certainly doing that now. I am speculating; yet, my thoughts here are compatible with my intuition, though they might just be a matter of wishful thinking. Jesus said that He had other flocks to which to attend; God may have any number of sources of knowledge besides humans even if my idea concerning our supplying Him with possible knowledge has some element of truth to it
If we conclude that God learns, we must ask ourselves where He would go for information that He does not already possess. Now, the methods of learning are that we can receive information from someone and believe it, we can observe, 24
and/or we can experiment. God would not have any authority figure to whom to go for the purpose of learning. How might God go about observing or experimenting? These actions would seem to require time in order that they might be carried out, and God is outside of time. At this point, an entirely fascinating idea comes to me. Suppose He created cognitive individuals in time who would generate knowledge, or at least tentative knowledge that would become certain if or when God judged it to be such? Suppose He created us with free will partly so that we can have things happen to us and cause things to happen from which knowledge is derived?
This is reminiscent of Haisch’s idea, expressed in The Purpose-Guided Universe,15 that the purpose of our existence is to enable God to vicariously enjoy what happens to us and what we cause to happen. I do not think such an idea is in opposition to Judeo-Christian belief, though it is not part of it, but it sounds like God’s “using” us, and that thought is not quite commensurate with my idea of the nature of God, though I do not believe we are in a position to try to be authoritative with regard to what is right and what is wrong in that respect. (I do, however, think we are fairly good judges, especially because of our consciences.)16 It is fascinating that we can consider whether God learns or not and still consider Him to be omniscient. If He learns outside of time, there is no “when” regard to his learning. Therefore (This will be question # 1 on the final exam re thinking timelessly.), He has always known everything, even if He did not achieve the omniscient state by being The Truth. The nicest thing for us about all of this is that we may be partners with our God.
If God learns, The Truth is fundamental reality, but not all of reality. Does this mean, then, that God is dependent upon us humans? No, because He is not dependent upon knowing everything in order to be Himself or to be superior to us in every way. Anything that He might learn as god is certainly out of our reach. None of what I have written would relate in any way whatsoever to superiority of humans over Him. If He learns and is aided in that learning by humans, He still judges our “contribution” with regard to whether it is good and worthwhile, such that He is ultimately in charge of everything. That confirms His ultimate authority with regard to all knowledge. Though The Truth, synonymous with Him, may not contain all knowledge, it does contain all wisdom and therefore the ability to judge. As The Truth, the Personification of mathematics and all other goodness, He is the only possible judge of the ultimate and permanent value of any and everything. If He learns, we are partners of His, in a sense, placed in time at least partly to correct the difficulty of doing anything without the passage of time, which may accrue to everyone, no matter who or how powerful he is.
The nature of what I am talking about here appeals to me because it seems to fit with everything else that I have in my mind that concerns the nature and purposes of God and how I see His relationship with us. For example, DeMille spoke of God’s mind’s flowing through ours, Jeans spoke of “a designing or 25
controlling power that has something in common with our own individual minds….,” and Jesus spoke of becoming “one” with God. (Footnote) (We are not, however, one with Him on the basis of being merely parts of Him; we are distinct individuals, or at least will be when we are beings in the Kingdom of God as opposed to becomers in time.)
My thought with regard to the possibility of God’s learning is similar – at least analogous — to that of Haisch in The Purpose-Guided Universe, who expresses therein his belief that we are created in order to provide pleasure for God, vicariously obtained through our experiences. However, I do not believe that to be the case. It sounds too much like a case wherein God is “using us.” Now, He created us and is capable and of doing what He likes with and to us (He is also justified in this respect.), but, again, His nature as I perceive it is not commensurate with Haisch’s idea.
In my believing that God exists outside of time, the problem arises as to how He is able to do anything. What takes time to do, and what does not? I suspect that, outside of time, thinking takes no time, such that, outside of time, one can think. If this is not so, we have a particularly grand dilemma, as eternal life would appear to be not only useless, but false, if one cannot think throughout all of eternity. Certainly I hope to live forever in a scenario wherein I am able to think. Fortunately, I believe I am talking nonsense here; if God is outside of time and therefore cannot think, He would have a mind no greater than that of a sheep, in which case we could certainly not talk about His having done anything of moment. Time’s being illusory could be the entire key to our problem here. If it is indeed not what it seems to be, its absence may not be what it seems to be, such that our grand dilemma dissolves.
Now, God could occupy more time than do we, in terms of dimensions thereof, as Ross believes. If this is the case, there is of course no concern with regard to His being or not being able to engage in activity that would seem to be impossible without the involvement of time. However, His being outside of time fits best with everything else about Him.
Now, regardless of anything else, God would never take anything into His mind other than what is good; if He did, He would no longer be God, at least as we know Him. I do, however, believe it is possible that knowledge emanates from events that can only happen in time. If this is so, it may be that the existence of large numbers of people is desirable and possibly necessary in order that many things may happen, such that much knowledge can be produced. Humanity might be sort of a matrix through which events that generate knowledge occur, scientific and otherwise. In this instance, God might learn by assimilating such knowledge. We may generate knowledge in this life and learn it as such in the next by exploring the Mind of God.17 26
God may have other sources of learning, of knowledge, for instance, through other people on other planets, who may even be in other universes. Whether He learns or not, He might or might not have any need for us as producers of possible knowledge.
If we are His thought, as I believe, and if God learns as I have speculated He might, we have before us a scenario of God’s learning through logos, in fact through thought experiments. This situation would correlate nicely with our previous discussion concerning learning through study of doxa vs. learning via engagement in logos.
Absolute vs. Relative Truth
The tradition of at least the western world is to divide philosophy into that which entails absolute truth and that which advocates the validity of relative truth. I do not see the latter as truth at all, and I therefore am unable to call it philosophy and am therefore unable to call it philosophy, which is the search for truth. The very term is an oxymoron because to be true is to be right, not “perhaps right.”
Western philosophy began with the enlightened Greeks with Thales of Miletus, and, within a hundred years, had split into these two supposed camps. Heraclitus of Ephesus (See glossary.) originated the thought of relative truth and Parmenides that of absolute truth. So far as I am concerned, Parmenides is the great-grandfather of western philosophy. He immersed himself in eternity and exuded the truth of Being. His branch of philosophy is huge, with vigorous branching and glorious flowering. Though he lived in a polytheistic society, he believed in a single God, Being itself, and championed meaningful life wherein one cares about others because they and their lives are highly significant.
Parmenides way of absolute truth repeatedly leaves the concept of nothingness, worthlessness and lack of identity behind with its connection and correlation with logic, the best ideas of humanity, and the greatest events of our history. As we have noted, it is the way of logos, while Heraclitus’ thought is that of doxa. Parmenides was objective, positive, clear, and optimistic, while Heraclitus’ thought was vague, shallow, and pessimistic. The difference between the two is perhaps best illustrated by looking at their philosophical offspring; Descartes, in the case of Parmenides, and Nietzsche in the case of Heraclitus. Descartes was one of the two main founders of modern science and probably the most precise philosopher ever, as he refused to include anything in his philosophy about which he had any doubt. As we have seen, he began with confirmation of his existence and worked from there.
We begin to see relative truth in action with Protagoras, a Greek Sophist teacher who lived nearly twenty-five hundred years ago, who, as the first known 27
humanist, said that man is the measure of all things. This is not, in my view, merely wrong — it inevitably leads to a situation wherein that which is good and right depends solely upon what the most persuasive people are able to impose upon those who are less so, and I do mean impose. Hence, one ends up not with objective learning, but with the declarations and orders to the oppressed from the tyrant or tyrant. Protagoras used and recommended rhetoric as the means of persuasion and was a professional instructor in it. However, though Protagoras did not teach military science, means of persuasion can certainly include physical force as well as speech making. Hitler was the all-time ultimate beneficiary and user of the Sophist method, and, when it was combined with his vicious amorality, which included no inhibition with regard to killing anyone who stood in his way and others besides, and bolstered by Nietzsche=s concept of “the ASuperman,@ the ultimate evil and destructiveness of that Sophist thought of so long ago dramatically emerged and was clearly seen for what it is, or at least what it can become. Sophist thought and that of Nietzsche and Hitler all reject absolute truth or they present it as Darwinism extrapolated into the socio-political arena, something that Darwin never envisioned.
The Sophists taught that no issue is about absolute truth – it is about who wins. The Sophist’s favorite exercise was to show their ability to argue either side of a case, regardless of the truth of either side of a contention. Sophism is the philosophy, or perhaps pseudo-philosophy, of power. It remains the mindset of attorneys who do not have a moral compass that leads them to better values and higher goals. The Sophist creed was that the end justifies the means; this is the way of the tyrant who calls himself a leader.
Two-thirds of the people of our present world ascribe, when asked, to as religion based on Absolute Truth, which, so far as I am concerned, is synonymous with The Truth that I have described. These are the devotees of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. With regard to the other two most prominent faiths, Buddhism and Hinduism, the former is thoroughly about relative truth, and the latter is so dilute – it houses so many different beliefs – that one can believe almost anything and be a Hindu. Buddhism espouses a wonderful moral code, but that is all one can say for it.
Conclusions Concerning the Truth
I conclude my fundamental beliefs, ideas, and opinions concerning The Truth by stating how I feel about its components in terms of their relative importance: (1) Cognitive life is the most important factor because, without life of the kind associated with thought, nothing else is of any importance at all. Without organisms possessing this kind of life, no other entity can be perceived, such that all is vanity. (2) communication, of greater importance than love only because love cannot be felt without communication, such that it can come to fruition only 28
in connection with communication. (3) learning, of little value without the ability to communicate and more important than love only because love cannot be manifested unless we learn of someone to love. (Perhaps we could be pre-programmed with knowledge of one or more individuals to love, e.g. God; thus, we have here a subject here for possible argumentation.)18 (4) love, high on our list for obvious reasons. It is the centerpiece of Christianity and the most important source of its strength other than the triune God Himself. Its position in the forefront of Christian belief, behavior, and evangelism is what led to this religion’s conquering the Roman Empire. Mercy is the most important corollary of love. (5) humility, which, if we all possessed and exercised it, would eliminate all strife, such as war, and lead to something like heaven on earth. Pride was and is the prime sin of Satan. (6) justice, so important, so vital that seeing it as far down our list as number six does not seem right until we look at the examples of goodness that subordinate it. Justice is necessary for the cohesion of reality. I can go no further; there are numerous qualities in contention for number eight here. I can only conclude by saying that, as The Truth is axiomatic, all-Good, and inclusive with regard to the answers to our most profound questions, it must be the summation of perfection. The Truth is also virtually synonymous with beauty, as we shall see, and the same can possibly be said with regard to simplicity.
Mind’s subordination of matter is demonstrable even without the help of Relativity or quantum physics. Now, when two paths exist that lead to the same conclusion, the likelihood of the conclusion’s being correct is markedly heightened, and, when there are three ways, the evidence in favor of that which is claimed is usually of the highest order. For the subordination of matter to mind, we have at least three paths.
I believe that Einstein was telling the widow, as per that chapter, that he felt her husband had experienced his death much more pleasantly than had she and that he probably remained alive in some realm. Those who have little in their personalities that is opposed to The Truth,12 such that relatively little of their en bloc selves requires excision as they access heaven seem to have particularly peaceful deaths, as in the following example. 29
I had a good friend (who died in 2004) whose wife, a particularly godly lady, died in 1991. When he called to tell me of his passing, I remember his saying something like, A…and then it got more peaceful B then it got more peaceful yet C then she died.@ (I find that highly comforting.) Demented people tend to die peacefully as well, because they essentially die by degrees and usually have no concept of death by the time they expire. Their cardiac arrests are anti-climactical. They gradually lose their concepts of time, eventually not realizing how old they are. Slowly, they in fact turn into what is virtually a non-entity, as their minds are entirely elsewhere before their bodies wear out, and their serial presents of this life become of less and less significance; this I believe to be the mercy of God in action, largely dispensed to those who fear death more than most.
1. see above
2. see above
3. Time mag, etc
4. The Teach Co re Buddhism
5. John 11:32-35
6. Wages of sin passage.
7. Romans 6:23
8. the waytruthlife
6. Lewis, ibid
7. Lewis, ibid.
7. He would also be transcendent because…..
9. Countries, religions, cultures involved in ref. to Appendix of the Abolition of Man. 30
10. Who will deliver me from this body of sin?
11. Screwtape Letters
13. Lewis ibid
14. intent – Jesus
17. (Footnote: Believing that God is love [and much more besides], I am of the opinion that the main reason He made humans is to have persons to love and persons to love Him. [In addition, I think He created out of loneliness.] However, it may be that we are created as partners in some epic endeavor of learning. That is about the most exciting thing I can think of, and, interestingly, it goes along with George Ritchie’s story as he tells it in Return from Tomorrow, wherein, during a near-death experience, he saw lots of people at work doing research. [Perhaps we are in one phase of partnership-in-learning in this life and in another in the life to come.])
18. Gorgias, his greatest quote)
Why do bad things happen to good people in a world created by a good God? Ever since atheists and agnostics have been arguing against the truth of the Gospel and saying that the evidence in favor of its validity is not sufficient to warrant one’s committing to the Christ, this has been by far the greatest concern they have been able to raise. Related questions include, “Why are there so many terrible things in the world, like animal-eating plants, various disease-causing agents, other grotesque predators, tsunamis, famine, starvation, and on and on?” Such concerns have probably led more people away from the Christ than have all other objections to Christianity put together. If this question can be adequately answered, critics of the Biblical God will have little to say in debate.
In addition, the ball is in the court of the non-believer to show that he or she has sufficient grounds on which to posit the question. The profound and manifold evidence that favors the existence of God has very nearly proved that HE IS.1 The one hundred twenty-five fine tunings that Hugh Ross2 has found can only represent the monumental planning and purpose of a monumental God, unless one is prepared to accept an alternate possibility that is quite difficult to imagine as valid.
This is the Anthropic Principle, which makes the claim that the issue is moot because, if we did not happen to be, by chance, in the universe with all the fine tunings, we would not be alive. It is a weak argument; Stephen Hawking, for example, puts little stock in it. The fine-tunings are valid; just one of them was enough to make Sir Fred Hoyle3 a theist, and he was not about to change his orientation concerning deity without good reason. It is incumbent upon non-believers to prove their case.
Ross has compiled about one hundred twenty-five settings of cosmological, physical, chemical, and biological nature in our world that are extremely precise and which are necessary if there is to be life on our planet. The logical conclusion is that our world is one of design by an Intellect of enormous magnitude, and the Anthropic Principle seems far less plausible and credible than He does. Atheists can base their primary argument on nothing other than their opinions that thoughts of Deity are irrational, and this defense of their belief flies in the face of the vast majority of humans of historic times and before, including the intellectuals of these eras. In taking a stance of an unwarranted assumption of superiority, their story is that theism is ridiculous on the face of it. Evil can initiate nothing because it is not compelling and because its energy is directed in the opposite direction from creativity and progress. After all, says the non-believer, everyone knows that science has disproved the supernatural. Yet, no one knows any such thing.
The Goodness of Jesus
If Jesus is not God, he is the all-time champion confidence man, since even the non-believers among historians admit that He is unopposed as the greatest influence on western culture during the past two thousand years. As we assess the validity of prophets by noting how dependable their predictions are, we can best assess the validity of a teacher by noting the long-term effects of what he or she taught. Jesus’ credentials in this respect cannot be matched by any other person who ever lived, and the tremendous extent to which He enhanced human morality cannot be denied. Therefore, if He is God, as Christians believe, God must be quite good. Additionally, as Jesus is the anointed One of the God of the Bible, He of the Bible must be the true God.
The Question Per Se
Before beginning a theodicy in earnest, let us make sure that we look in adequate detail at the question to be answered. I am in fact going to begin with the first word. “Why” is fair enough, and the next word of note is “bad.” “Good” and “bad” are absolute; if they were relative, I could just say that what is good for me may be bad for you and vice versa, and we would be left with no difference of opinion to discuss. However, alas, that is not to be. Besides, it is not the theist but the atheist who generally believes in relative truth.
In either case, however, when something happens to you or me, we cannot, at that moment, know whether it is good or bad. We may be sure that it at least has aspects that are not pleasant, but, with regard to long-term effects, only God will know the effects it is going to have. God knows. Something miserable may later be more than balanced out by something happy that would not have happened had it not been for the original tragedy. I have had the experience, committed the folly, or exhibited the wisdom (Take your choice or insert your own opinion here.) of telling the parents of a deceased child that their happiness, the pride of their lives, did well to die when he did because he probably went to heaven, whereas, if he had lived to be an old man, he might have deserted the faith. Lame. It could be true, but it did not help the parents in their grief.4
The next word, “things,” in this particular context, refers, of course, to events. There have been and are those who believe our lives are imaginary, in which case “things” would not really happen at all; I shall not take that line of argument, however, as I do not believe it, and it would destroy all claims that I have to make about our world and the world beyond. I believe things really happen and will proceed as though they do.
With the word, “good,” I can raise an ironic question that probably has significance; Jesus, when called “good,” stated that only God is good.5 Shall we then say that there are no good people for bad things to happen to, such that the question I am answering is of the moot variety? After all, if Jesus was not good, no one is, has been, or will ever be. The answer is yes—there are no good people for bad things to happen to, and I could rationally and justifiably end this theodicy now on that basis. Yet, Jesus is the one exception; He is the one, the single and the unique good person that bad things could have happened to when He was among us in time. And very bad things did happen to Him. Perhaps he denied goodness because He had not yet completed a perfect life with no sin at all in it. Nevertheless, He is God, and He was and is a God of mercy, the one true God Who has died that we might be good and Who owes us no answer to any question. We would not even be alive if this God had not made it so.
Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, who were both great Christian writers, experienced illnesses that rendered them comatose. Augustine, when he awoke, said, “I have seen the Lord – all I have written is straw,” and Thomas said essentially the same thing when he came out of his coma. Because we have no right to question this God about anything that pertains to Him, the question we are entertaining and this essay are irrelevant, but, because there are answers that suffice but do not satisfy, and because this is one of them for a very large number of people, I will continue with this treatise and not “cop-out.”
Now—having analyzed the question, there is one remaining item to mention before we move on to the answer in earnest. We can mistake discipline for punishment or for God’s being less than all good. Our heavenly Father, however, wants the very best for us, which largely consists of our developing all of our attributes maximally, and discipline improves people. We ourselves discipline our children, if we are good parents.
God Is Indeed Good and Cannot Possibly Create Evil
As God emanates from The Truth, all-Goodness, He cannot be evil, and He is incapable of making anything that is evil, though He did make someone who became evil. Plato, in his Republic, says that goodness cannot produce evil, and it would seem to be an oxymoron to say otherwise. For God to be unable to do something that is either nonsense or violates His divine identity does not violate the His omnipotence. Admittedly, however, Plato is probably not talking about the Biblical God.
“But, did God not create everything?” “No — only everything that is good,” and nothing that is nonsensical is good. One would nevertheless still like to know where evil comes from. Here is what I think about that.
The Origin of Evil
Evil, like The Truth, exists on its own without the need for creation. There is, however, a supreme difference between the two in their autonomy: original evil exists only potentially and gives rise to nothing without the enablement of humans, or, in one case of which we are aware, angels. (At least these are the only agents we know of that can actualize evil.) Evil is dormant until the good go wrong. Thus, the ultimate realm is not one of dualism; i.e., there is no god of goodness fighting a god of evil on the same level. Evil is inferior to good from always, as C. S. Lewis said at the end of his book, The Problem of Pain. Evil is not the opposite of good-–if it were, the two would be equal to one another. Evil is the absence of good, as cold is the absence of heat, hate is the absence of love, and a hole in a sweater is the absence of part of the sweater.
Evil is the great lie that subtracts from truth, the illusion that subtracts from reality, the ignorance than subtracts from learning, the ignorance that subtracts from communication, the pride that subtracts from humility, the rudeness that subtracts from kindness, and a parasite that subtracts from personality and identity. Evil can initiate nothing because it is not compelling and because its energy is directed in the opposite direction from creativity and progress. With one exception, evil is neither something nor nothing. Its natural state is that of less than nothing. Destroy everything, and Goodness will regenerate it. If evil destroys its victim, however, it can no longer do anything, because in that instance it has reverted back to nothing but potential. Jesus’ sacrifice removed the victims of evil from its grasp.
The good recognize and agree with reality; the bad deny it, even though to do so is an oxymoron. The evil care not whether something they say is obviously false; they say so anyway and then proceed to “prove it” with more lies. Like the Sophists of old, they will argue either side of a case because, to them, the truth about anything consists not of that which is so from always to always-–it is whatever they can convince someone of. Hence, the sayings of Heraclitus, the prototype of relative truth, which may be characterized by the mathematical error, 2 + 2 =5. (Math is absolute; thus, 2 + 2 is never 5.) Though evil is defeated from the perspective of heaven, it rages on in the time-bound world and must be recognized if one is to combat it. Let us never be naïve about this.
Now, where does Satan come in? I feel almost superstitious when I speak of him; however, I do believe in him, and we shall shortly see why we must introduce him in order to fully answer the question at hand. God made both angels and humans: angels without bodies outside of time and humans with bodies within space-time. Like humans, angels were made with free will so that they can truly be separate beings from God, though they live in His realm. It would be much less pleasurable for God if they and we were robots, sort of minor clones who could do nothing other than the will of the Father. Perhaps the rebellion of Satan caused God to avoid allowing other angels to have free will; I do not know, except that, outside of time, one has only a single chance of making entities correctly.
In any case, angels are beings from the first and never becomers. We are developing our heavenly identities, our eternal personalities, in time where it is possible to change. Without time, there is no change, such that this process cannot take place in the timeless realm. Unlike humans, angels do not develop into persons who incorporate their choices into their forever selves. We humans, on the other hand, are “becomers” on Earth in the process of becoming beings in timelessness, and the consequences of our earthly choices will be who we are in the life beyond. We can wax and wane in our faith and behavior and still come out all right so long as we are synchronous with The Truth when we die. Angels, on the other hand, make a one-time decision that is forever binding. They can agree or disagree with God, though they can go no further in the direction of individuality. If they choose goodness, they are forever His servants. If they choose otherwise, they separate from Him, on a timeless basis—forever.
Now, to be a servant of God is better than being a king on earth, but the lot of humans is better yet, as we are raised to the status of children and friends of the Lord of all when we respond to His untold generosity, as is so very advisable. We need to realize, however, that, with such blessing comes responsibility.
Originally, a single angel chose to rebel; He was God’s favorite, His Brutus. The others who disdained heaven followed, looking for vaguely defined freedom in the manner of the adolescent. This rebellion of angels is so very much like that of teenagers who think they can be better off on their own than “under the thumb” of parents. After they have rebelled, they realize how much their parents have been doing for them and how very much they now have to do for themselves.
Serving God is freedom, and to serve Satan is to be meat for his platter. His predation has no limits, and it is not only directed against humans; it is directed against his henchmen. Satan is totally consumptive. His desire is to consume everything that lives.6 He is also insane (but this of course does not excuse him).
Satan is thoroughly caught up in his heinous project and thoroughly out of control; he seeks revenge, for what he knows not: “This goody-goody God must have done something that demands our disdain.” His rage is of unimaginable proportions, his fervent devotion to the wrong without discernible limits. Wielding the slashing sword of utter discord and disarray, he would slash the void were there nothing else available on which to fix his wrath, just as Xerxes slammed the waters of the Bosporus in his unmitigated hubris, because of its refusal to let him cross, as he attempted to travel to Greece in his vain attempt to conquer.
Often, when Satan causes bad things to happen to us, we blame God—somehow, His rescuing us looks like persecution. Yet, we cannot begin to combat the evil one without invoking the aid of Jesus the Savior. Satan’s depravity is so great and so precisely aimed at the heart of Goodness that he has raised the entirety of pure evil from its potentiality and has set it against The Truth in its actualization. He has become evil without reservation and without restraint; he has therefore become the personification thereof. With evil thus assigned, Jesus was able to hone in on a single target. (Satan is too clever for his own welfare.) Satan embraced evil and thought he was acquiring power, but what he acquired instead was vulnerability. He is not only willing-–he is anxious to lead his mindless herd against their Lord and Maker. His abject ferocity, hate, and complete rejection of God Almighty, together with his making God’s heart and treasure—humanity–his prime target, has raised fundamental evil from its dormancy and fixed it upon and within himself.
C.S. Lewis liked to think that, if a person grumbled, for example, his entire life to the extent of doing virtually nothing else, he would essentially become a grumble in the afterlife. In similar fashion, Satan has done nothing but evil, and he can be depended upon to continue in that manner; therefore, he essentially is evil for all eternity. (“Evil” is a noun here, not an adjective.) That suits him, except that he did not realize that, in becoming the embodiment of evil, he gave God a target, the destruction of which is the instrument of the destruction of destruction, the subtraction of subtraction, the utter elimination of evil itself. The positive Truth wins — positively, decisively, and timelessly. The battle is over in the Kingdom of God, though it still rages in time. We can almost say that perspective is everything. Perhaps Jesus even annulled evil — perhaps He caused it to never have existed; if that is the case, all human misery is cancelled from always to always.
Utilizing my imagination even more than usual, I wonder whether God created angels at least partly in order to find a target in which all of evil could be concentrated.7 It is much easier to fight a person than it is to fight a principle. We are seeing this most clearly since The War on Terror came upon us.
Similarly, Satan’s rallying other angels to revolt may have brought him out into the open where he can be more easily dealt with.8
In any case, we humans can probably, in a small way, help God to accomplish His purpose of eliminating evil, particularly by providing an arena where good and evil can most pointedly and thoroughly battle and a situation in which Perfect Goodness can maximally manifest Itself and Its power. (Satan especially harasses and tries to recruit the best of people, as they aggravate him the most and as he tends to get the others into his “hip pocket” with little effort. In addition, people who embody the most goodness make the best trophies in his eyes.)
Probably the most important reason for our existence, however, is our provision of a setting wherein God could enter space-time as a human and most effectively do battle with evil. Without the existence of a cognitive race of people with free will, a perfect life could not have been lived by a Person willing to make the supreme sacrifice, in which case the mechanism of unimaginable power needed for the destruction of evil might never have been generated.
Can God be Responsible?
Is God responsible for our behavior because we are His creation? Is He responsible for Satan for the same reason? I do not know, but, if that is the case, He has made full restitution and has more than satisfied justice by essentially dying for our misbehavior; a more responsible Deity cannot be imagined. It is probably true that the more power one has, the more responsibility he incurs, but no greater satisfaction of responsibility can be imagined than that which the God of the Bible has provided. If any of God’s acts have brought evil into the world and/or have caused misery in the life of any person, He has certainly made restitution in the most complete kind of way. Insofar as I am concerned, God’s acts have invariably been the best they could have been. He has always acted for the most pristine of reasons, with the grandest possible purpose, and He has guaranteed his purposes and acts with His very life, submitting to justice and all other aspects of The Truth. For the sake of justice and His creation, He did not shy from thoroughly and personally experiencing the most horrible expression of evil.
Particularly when one remembers that a father’s grief for an only Son is worse for a father than his own death, one sees why God Himself is the greatest recipient of evil ever. Even for us humans, it is worse when our children suffer than it is when we suffer. This is likely the reason Jesus said, “…My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”9 The Father was stricken and devastated right along with the Son and turned His head away. Perhaps the vision of an aspect of the true God loaded with all of the sin of the world, of past, present, and future, was something that not even the Father could bear, and, thanks be to God, time-bound death could not hold ultimate goodness.
Some might argue that the Personification of absolute goodness can or at least should not kill anyone, particularly because of the commandment, “Thou shalt not murder.”10 However, it seems to me that the killing of the personification of evil is something like the best deed of goodness that can possibly be done, and God knows without doubt who warrants reward, who warrants tolerance, and who warrants destruction. In his dazzling book, Perelandra, C.S. Lewis illustrates this proper course of action against stark evil. The hero of the story, Ransom (This is an appropriate name, and it could make a good nickname for Jesus.), kills Satan’s representative in order to prevent the fall of humankind on Venus, once it becomes obvious to him that Westin will otherwise never cease in his attempts to side-track the Venusian queen.
The Atheist Responds
“This is superstitious drivel,” says the militant atheist. “You have done nothing but employ inflammatory words in an effort to insinuate our minds without any evidence to back up what you are saying.” To which I answer, “you back up your claims with objective evidence, and I will do the same with mine, and we will see who makes the best argument.” And let us remember here the words of Richard Dawkins, which he seemed to believe were meaningful by virtue of their color: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” This man calls himself a scientist, but I have never heard of making progress in science by cursing one’s colleagues or smashing an experimental set-up. His words are neither evidence nor objective; He classically states the basic argument of the militant atheist, which is that non-believers they are superior to believers, particularly in intelligence, that the Christian masses are ignorant, and that everyone knows that science is where all truth is to be found. I have no quarrel with the atheist who has reached his or her conclusions in a calm and methodical manner, studying the issues and coming to the best conclusions he can in an objective manner, but, in this instance, the atheist tries to do nothing but bully.
Two Kinds of “Bad Things”
There are two kinds of bad things: those caused by the choices that humans make and natural disasters. The latter are Satanic but could not occur were it not for original sin, wherein we handed over to Satan the charge that God gave us to be stewards of His world. Thus, both kinds are, in the end, the result of humanity’s bad choices; however, the more immediate cause of a natural disaster is an act of Satan. Because he became the ruler of our world when we handed our charge from God over to him, it is easy for him to corrupt it with catastrophes. It is easier for us to deal with evil that pertains to humans than it is to avert natural disaster. We merely have to “get our act together,” but it can be done. To cause the ruler not to do whatever he likes with his world is much more difficult.
The enemy, who has taken over the creation of God, can then make creation, the thought of God, look distorted. A thick veil went up between earth and heaven when the first humans sinned, and the proverbial empty coke bottle is interjected betwixt. As ruler of Earth, Satan is now able to cause all manner of natural disasters to occur and to distort our perception of God’s creatures and the rest of His creation–the way that we perceive His thought. Satan can now work on our minds, particularly by causing error to arise in our minds with regard to the existence and goodness of God. He, the father of lies, is lying to us.
Annulment of Evil?
God’s act in the Christ was so momentous and powerful that we can imagine his annulling evil with it. This would be a timeless annulment, such that Satan would have never existed, and none of the misery that he caused would ever have happened. One might answer that it is obvious that all kinds of terrible things have happened as history has rolled on, but remember that the ancient Sophists and Buddhists of all eras have doubted their existence, such that there is plenty of precedent for the concept that things can seem to happen but never actually happen.
Our time-bound world is one of uncertainty. At its very foundation, in the realm of the quantum, lies von Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which is at the bottom of events that are very strange indeed. In heaven, all is “black and white,” i.e., if something seems to have happened, it has happened, but time-bound lives are gray in this respect. From God’s perspective, this or that happens, and that is it—that is the whole story, but, from our point of view, things can seem to happen and never really happen at all.
There is also much precedent in Christian thought for considering Satan and his henchmen to be shades, zombie-like entities that seem to be alive and are not; if Satan and all of his accomplices have this nature, it may well be because evil has been annulled. In any case, Satan and his cronies are most futile of beings, who believe they are accomplishing great things, but are actually doing nothing, for, even if they are not annulled, Jesus’ sacrifice is timeless, such that He has wiped out any so-called accomplishments of theirs from always to always, at least with regard to ultimate effectiveness thereof.
What I am saying here makes at least a little more sense if we recall an example of the effects of Special Relativity wherein a spacecraft is falling into a black hole at the speed of light from the point of view of those in it, while, from the perspective of outside observers, the ship is perched on the edge of the black hole forever. (Note that I do not say Aseems to be@ with regard to the perspective of those situated at either point of view).
I am thus speculating that, by virtue of the sacrifice of the Son, the Lord of all may have accomplished the “uncreation” of evil from eternity to eternity. This is in fact my belief. I know that what I am saying could be something like anathema to one who has lost a child or has been brutally tortured for no reason, in that most such people cannot accept the premise that such horrible experiences were not real. Yet, I can entertain this idea of annulment in spite of having lost a beloved wife under circumstances that were even more frustrating than is usually the case in such matters, and I find the idea of annulment quite comforting. I hope others can feel the same way for the same reason, though I realize that my tragedy is less poignant than those of many others. God Himself had only one child, whom He gave for those of us who will accept the gift. You say, “But that child rose from the dead,” and I say, “Yes, but when that child died, the Father did not know that He would. You then perhaps ask, “Does not God know everything?” to which I reply, “All but two or three things.”
We could ask what kind of father would create knowing He would have to have His Son go through the epitome of misery in order to redeem His creation. It appears that God faced a huge dilemma in this scenario—a difficult choice. It consisted of an eternal existence alone vs. having to employ the most extreme measures to eliminate evil. I do not know what else to say about His decision except that everything turned out wellBit in fact turned out glorious, and Jesus was/is to perform His part in it. If God had not created, besides facing eternity alone, love would have remained only potential and would never have been actualized. For love to have never been might have been the greatest evil ever. In addition, allowing even potential evil to exist could seem intuitively wrong, if one is capable of doing anything about it. To avoid creating because it results in the actualization of evil would have forbidden all life except for that of the Creator, and that is exactly what Satan stands for, not just the survival of the fittest, but the survival of the final Victor, who eliminates all competition and owns everything in existence for himself. I cannot imagine anyone wanting such a situation for himself, with nothing to do for all eternity except think about how strong, victorious, and wonderful he is. God’s forbidding the existence of additional life would have violated the identity of Deity, derived from The Truth, of which and of Whom the most important component is cognitive life. I do not think it was possible for God to avoid creation of other minds.
In any case, if in the realm of true significance, evil has Aended up@ never having existed, or even if it has “merely” been forever subdued, the ultimate Ruler of everything–God–must be credited with the epic victory.
Not only is discipline imperative if one is to be all he can be: refinement, particularly the development of good character, does not happen without suffering. A “spoiled” child is an injured child. With everything handed to him “on a silver platter,” he has no incentive, and there are not many people who will learn or perform without incentive. We are not even inclined to seek the truth or contemplate The Truth without it. We regularly see what happens when parents give too many gifts or governments offer too much in the way of foreign or domestic aid. The recipients come to see it as an entitlement, and become angry that they are not getting more. Also, God, like a mother bird, needs to push us out of the nest if we are to grow and become capable; if He constantly rescues us from trouble, we remain perpetual children. Though God does not punish, I would not be surprised if he brought an element of misery our way in order that we might be edified.
God has the welfare of everyone in the world to contend with throughout all of history, and the choices that one person makes can of course affect others, contemporaries or people living years or even centuries later. Each of our lives connects with many others, and the network of paths that such great numbers of people have traveled becomes unimaginably large and complex. When these journeys lead to misery, God suffers with the participants because they are His children. We sometimes suffer with our friends and family, but God suffers with everyone.
With such a massive network of causation extending along the time-line we and all our race has traveled and will traveled, it is not hard to see how good can easily come from the occurrence of something bad; in fact, what is bad for one person may turn out to be something that benefits hundreds, thousands, or even millions of other people. It is a particularly good thing in the present era that God is not limited by time in His accomplishing His purposes, since the ripples resulting from the proverbial pebble’s being thrown in the pool can spread much more rapidly and in more directions than in the past because progress in communication is drastically exponential.
The definition of apologetics may warrant changing; it may no longer amount to defense at all and could constitute more of a mop-up operation. The case for Christ is so sound that it makes more sense to consider how well what we observe in our world jibes with the precepts of Christianity than it does to envision any difficulty with regard to fitting Christianity into our world. The negatives pale before the goodness of God and the gifts that are ours when we follow this Lord. The Kingdom of God is so much more real and good than our time-bound world that it could render anything bad on earth negligible. We cannot be the judge of what is ultimately good or bad for someone else, just as we cannot be the ultimate judge of any person, because we never know everything that is in his heart. We are, of course, even less able to judge God.
The Word of God was snuffed out so that we might live. For us, the worst sort of hell would be separation incommunicado from God and separation from everyone else as well. God seems to have placed Himself in this kind of position when Jesus died, and I am not sure He knew that the situation was reversible.
Trust God, and cast your eternal lot with the Biblical Godhead. It is your best bet, and, as Pascal said, if we believe and are right, we are just where we want to be; if we believe and are wrong, we have lost nothing; if we do not believe and are right, we have neither lost nor gained anything; but, if we do not believe and are wrong, we have lost everything. If nothing else, play the odds!
1. Most aptly found in the works of the Reverend Dr. John Polkinghorne and Dr. William Lane Craig.
2. Author of The Creator and the Cosmos and various other works.
3. Hoyle was the last hold-out with regard to the Steady State Theory of the Origin of the universe. A single example of the fine tunings we find in our world that show it is a world of design was sufficient to convert him from agnosticism to theism. Hoyle was very opinionated and never changed his mind without much logical reason to do so.
4. God is good, and God is merciful. He does not cause death, and He does not punish. He grieves with us, and He answers prayer. If we turn to Him with full submission and watch Him work, He makes all things well in the end. The life to come is indeed the life of greatest importance by far, and we cannot ascertain whether apparent tragedy in our time-bound world is actually that or whether it is a “bump in the road” that may give rise to unimaginable goodness, hidden for now behind the proverbial coke bottle.
5. Mark 10:18.
6. Lewis, C.S. The Screwtape Letters. 1942. London. Geoffery Bles
7. With evil concentrated in Satan, it was much easier to combat than it otherwise would have been. Satan provided a target; otherwise, Jesus would have been aiming at something vague, an abstraction, similar to the targets in the war on terror.
8. See Job, Chapters 38 through 41, where God elaborates eloquently upon His utter primacy and dominance.
9. Matthew 27:46, KJV.
10. Exodus 20:13, KJV.
I, Jim Ivey, the primary blogger on this site, was born in 1939, the son of a pharmacist who had great interest in science, especially astronomy. My mother’s father was a lawyer who had been a mathematics professor and worked calculus problems for fun. He also had a great interest in astronomy and an even greater love for music. His passion for piano and violin led to a multi-generational involvement in this greatest of the arts. It was well into my adulthood, however, before I realized the importance of mathematics as the framework of the universe and music as a grand example of physics.
My first wife was to me unique in her degree of Christian faith. She initially wanted to be a missionary or a minister, but settled for homemaking, teaching and lots of church work. She stimulated my commitment to Jesus of Nazareth, which led to my becoming interested in philosophy and history. Soon it became apparent to me that the thought of Socrates/Plato blended well with the content of the Bible. At the same time, in following in my dad’s and grandfather’s footsteps, I developed the same feeling concerning modern theoretical physics and cosmology.
Love for the outdoors led me to Alaska with my growing family. There my wife’s and my number of offspring grew from three to five. These wonderful children has since presented me with twelve grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
I developed a career in family medicine, did some nursing home work, and became involved in numerous endeavors having to do with alcoholism. The Truth Is Inevitable germinated in a milieu of frontier life, which included hunting for meat, fishing for salmon, gathering berries, gardening, and wood-cutting.
Concurrently, my Christian faith increased. My wife and I moved back to Florida in 1991, as our then-grown children had mostly moved south. She died in 2004, and I am now remarried to yet another most excellent woman and wife. Our families have blended beautifully.
Any Christian worthy of his designation as such will dodge no questions, sticky or otherwise, about his faith. The logical and rational strength of “mere Christianity,” as C.S. Lewis referred to the basics of our faith, will withstand any questions that can be posited by skeptics and outright opponents. (footnote 1) In this chapter, I am going to anticipate some questions a reasonable person might very well ask, and answer them as best I can. With regard to those that I do not address, I suggest reading When Critics Ask, by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, who have composed an exhaustive volume with regard to ABible difficulties.”
Having dealt with “Where did God come from?” and “Why do bad things happen to good people in a world created by a good God?” I will address what I consider to be the next two most compelling questions one might want to ask a Christian: “What about fate? What about destiny? Do we have a destiny we cannot escape? Because God knows how we will end up, must we end up in the way that He knows about?” (2) AWhat of people who never knew Jesus through no fault of their own?” and “What of people who knew about Him and chose a different reason after thinking about their convictions both sincerely and objectively?”
Questions: This chapter addresses numerous other sticky questions.
The idea of predestination in Christianity links with the philosophical theory of Determinism. Both are ill-conceived. The former states that, in one could know the position of all atoms and all force particles at any particular time in the history of the universe, one could accurately predict all events at any time in the future relative to that particular time. For example, according to Determinism, if I knew and could grasp in my mind the position of all atoms and force particles, say, five billion years after the Big Bang, I could predict all events occurring today. By giving humans free will, God squelched Determinism. This is good, because the universe would be a dull and sterile place with Determinism in place.
The doctrine of predestination, the theological version of Determinism, denies that God gave us free will and states that all of us are destined from all eternity to go to heaven or hell. With the Calvinist doctrine in place, nothing we can do will change our fate. This conclusion is logical, given the Christian belief that God knows the future. It would, however, also seem logical to believe that God has the ability to control His mental processes, and, if this is the case, He would likely be able to render Himself without knowledge of futures generated by His having given humans free will. I believe He has done just that in the case of humans to whom He has given free will, the genuine ability to make choices that truly affect our futures. Fate and destiny are not words of the Christian vocabulary; they pertain to other versions of spirituality that are vague, erroneous, and possibly satanic.
If God had made the universe and its contents in a deterministic mode, His creation would have amounted to vanity — meaningless and not worth making. Its cognitive persons would have been basically characterized by two words, insignificant and pitiful, and no one would have the ability to help create his forever self, thereby gaining true individuality. The idea of predestination in Christianity links with the philosophical theory of Determinism. Both are ill-conceived. The former states that, if one could know the position of all atoms and all force particles in the universe at any particular time in the history of the universe, one could accurately predict all events at any time in the future relative to that particular time. For example, according to Determinism, if I knew and could grasp in my mind the position of all atoms and force particles, say, five billion years after the Big Bang, I could predict all events occurring today. This is, however, not the case because God squelched Determinism by giving humans free will.
The doctrine of predestination denies that God gave humans free will and states that all of us are destined from all eternity to go to heaven or hell, and that nothing we can do will change this state of affairs. The reason that some Christians believe this is that they cannot get away from the idea that God knows the future. If He is outside of time, as I believe, this is a logical conclusion. However, it seems that God probably has the ability render Himself without knowledge of this or that aspect of the future, and I believe He has done just that in the case of humans to whom He has given free will, the genuine ability to make choices that truly affect their futures.
If God had made the universe and its contents in a deterministic mode, His creation would have amounted to vanity; it would have been meaningless and not worth making. Its cognitive persons would have been basically characterized by two words, insignificant and pitiful, and no one would have the ability to help create his forever self, thereby gaining true individuality.
The Possibility of Other Ways to Heaven
In my best judgment, the question that ranks fourth in terms of numbers of people who are worried about it and the degree to which they are concerned is that of the exclusivity of Jesus as He Who can make us fit to stand before God in our imperfection where The Truth is concerned. All of us have made many bad choices, such that we are all incompatible with perfection, of which God is the personification. The ancient Jews believed that to see God was to die; this is just another way of saying that perfection and imperfection cannot exist together and that, since perfection is by definition superior to imperfection, the latter cannot stand before it. Jesus, however, is perfection, because he led a life in which all of his choices were in synchrony with The Truth.
His doing so accomplished the following: It put Him in a position of being able to judge us without committing hypocrisy, and it caused Him to have the ability, to the extent that He chooses to do so, to take on the subtractions from The Truth that we have engendered. He was God to begin with, from always (and was sent to us by God, designated as the only begotten Son of God (Footnote 4 and John 3:16; clarify all this – the Trinity, Who sent Jesus to us – God or the Father, etc.); otherwise, he could not have lived a perfect life in terms of letting selfish desires get in the way of synchrony with The Truth. Though it is not scriptural, I cannot help but wonder whether He became something like “doubly God” by way of His not only being perfection, but also via His living perfection. In no way do I say that this made Him superior to the Father, particular as it can easily be argued that He is the Father (Footnote), but it does explain why He is the “joy of heaven” (Footnote) and why the Father “gave Him everything.” (Footnote – How is He the Father and not the Father?)
Regardless of explanations, Jesus’ “both being and living” imbued Him with such power as to be able to successfully resist, combat, and, ultimately, to neutralize or even possibly to annul evil in the person of the accuser of humankind, Satan. (Footnote – include Job) Considering this power, together with the incalculable sacrifice that He made, when in no way was he required to make it, He became the uncontested Judge of humanity, Whose judgment of any man or woman is the very last word that brooks no appeal, even to God the Father.
However, what if a person has not committed to Him during Earthly life? Can Jesus give such a person a special dispensation with regard to heaven? What about the Jews? What about people who never had the chance to know Jesus? What about pagans e.g. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle? What about non-Christian heroes of humankind, such as the Mahatma Gandhi? What about six-year-old children? Can Jesus not keep these out of hell, though they never committed to Him during their time-bound lives?
As The Truth, He must maintain justice; yet, particularly because of the power that He has always had, that He has been given, and that He has commanded, and also in view of the grandest need for mercy, in these and other examples, that I can imagine, I cannot believe He is unable to rescue such souls, especially as the horror of hell, as we have explored, is essentially unlimited. In John 3:18, we read His words (King James Version of the Bible), “He that believeth on him (referring to Himself) is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” This sounds definitive and inescapable, but in the name of mercy that is part of The Truth, in view of the fact that we have reason to believe that mercy trumps justice in extreme situations where God is involved (Footnote — chapter —-Hosea — description of God’s action in Hosea), and because of the overwhelming power of The Truth confirmed in the Father and possibly redoubled in the Son, I will not be the one to say that Jesus cannot do whatever He wants to do in the case of any person who comes before Him for judgment.
Nevertheless, under no circumstances depend upon the mercy of Jesus for your salvation. To do so is to tempt God, for He is God, and He is The Truth, and He brooks no nonsense. It was loving and merciful Jesus who cursed the fig tree and chased the money changers from the Temple. (Footnotes) It was also He who said (Footnote – the scripture that states that He will have to say “I never knew you; depart from me; finish this sentence after you look that up.) At the risk of compromising my prose, I feel I must say, “Do not under any circumstances mess with Jesus. He is nothing resembling a “milktoast.” He is in fact the same God who instructed the Israelites to kill the male Canaanites who resisted the Israelites who entered the Promised Land under Joshua. (Footnote – Look up details of who killed, who sold into slavery, etc., and finish this sentence.) Also remember that accepting Jesus is the way prescribed by God for entry into His Kingdom, such that any other possible way is “chancey” at best.
When one considers the magnitude of God, which we have discussed, and that He is outside of time, Perfect Being, and the Perfect Being, the possibility of accessing Him on our own would seem to be immeasurably difficult. In the Christ, God has come to us. He is a lot like a priest in this respect, and He is the only one of these that we need. Ever since God came to us, reason and logic have demanded that we reciprocate the easy way to the promptings of the Supremely Rational. It seems most reasonable to me to get ready to die right away, preparing in the best way of which I know. It seems to me that we who find ourselves in the pit of life and are aware of an elevator are best advised to take advantage of it, as opposed to trying to climb, so to speak, straight up a thousand-foot wall, especially if God prefers that we use the elevator. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life. If He is The Truth, He is life, as we have discussed, and, if He is The truth and life, He is certainly the way. He also said He that no one comes to the Father but through Him. The most wonderful of three-year-old children will eventually perish in the jungle without help; the most beautiful newborn baby cannot live without nursing, but Jesus sees that all comes out well in the end for those who accept Him.
Why is Jesus so special compared to other religions, and why did He accomplish so much?
This is one of my favorite questions. The answer can be put into one word – love. Love has no evolutionary advantage that I can see. Yet, Jesus essentially conquered the Roman Empire with it and went on to become the greatest single influence in world history, surpassing even the brilliant ancient Greeks with their first democracy ever. More importantly yet, Jesus overcame evil with love, that those who seek the truth and are dedicated to live by it might be freed from the shackles that would otherwise prevent our living eternally in glory.
“What is truth,” asked Pilate? (Footnote) Did he seek it? I do not know, but seekers thereof do not always quite know the definition of that which they crave; they just somehow know it is what they need and desire beyond all else. When I was a child, my mother read me “Uncle Wiggily” stories. Uncle Wiggly is a gentleman rabbit created by Howard R. Garis. He sought his fortune, travelling far and wide looking for it, and his fortune no doubt represented the truth. This kind bunny returned home one day to find that his friends had planted his crops for him while his mind had been diverted toward thoughts of more noble things. He realized at that moment that his fortune was at home, in the love of his neighbors. Gandhi, Michelangelo, and Erasmus (Footnote) knew the definition of the truth they sought. Gandhi lived it, Michelangelo made it visible by creating the greatest painting and sculpture the world has ever known, and Erasmus translated it into two languages that expressed it far better than the Bible of the established Church of his time. (Footnote – the Vulgate) These three, and many more, have realized that the truth is The Truth of which I have written, the true God, Who speaks to us from His heart by His Word that is somehow His Son and Himself as well. This God is also love because love is the essence of truth, the supreme way in which it is expressed; love is the way, the truth, and the life, because, without love, all else is in vain. (Footnote – I Corinth. 13) The love of family, friend and neighbor is a refraction of the love of the God of the Bible, Whose Word is the Christ.
The Old Testament as well as the New is pervaded by love. We do not always see this because, in these early years, God is in the process of essentially rearing children, bringing His true religion to those who live in barbarous times, when others are throwing their children into the fire for the sake of statues that they venerate – to those who need much teaching on the subject of a God who can actually be not only a good Person, but the Best. They can hardly help believing that gods are those who viciously demand on threat of devastation that they give their all to the point of exhaustion of their identities as well as all they own. They live a life of trembling. Now, Jewish Scripture tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. How shall we reconcile this? We can easily do so. The difference between the truth and the lie is often subtle: we should fear God intensely, but this fear should take the form of awe, not terror.
God must also establish justice from the first. The parent and the school teacher must do this, lest children mistake love and progressive freedom to make their own decisions for permission to let their lower instincts drive them to whatever behavior seems to feel good. Thus, a priori ideas about deity derived from the thought of naïve humans and the necessity of justice hide to some extent the love of God that passes all understanding. (Footnote) We have talked about why God created and about why He may have had to create: so that love might be manifest. (Footnote — Now, I have listen more than one item as more important than love as parts of The Truth, but I am not sure it makes sense to say that God created in order to manifest life, and communication and learning are more important than love only because, without them, love cannot be adequately actualized.)
How can we do anything outside of time? Do we not require time in order to be able to do anything? We might if only heaven were timeless, but we will be timeless ourselves. Our lives in heaven will be exclusively those of mind and thought, such that our first step in answering the question at hand is to say that we will do nothing in heaven but think. (This sounds boring, but only because we cannot presently imagine the degree, the nature, or the potency of the imagination we will have in heaven.) I speak of “the first step” because thinking in the Kingdom of God will not be exactly like thinking in time. As timeless beings, we will not have to think in the way that we presently understand thinking; we will not even have to think in order to act. We will indeed have the Mind of Christ, which is the Mind of God (Footnote); all knowledge and goodness will be before us and in us – we will have to derive nothing. We will also be connected to God and to other believers. Though we will have thoroughly distinct identities, selves that are separate from those of others, we will have communication with all of the other blessed to such a degree that we will never have to even think about it. I realize that what I am saying here is vague; you may have other ideas. I do not write to try to tell you any supposed truth that I believe you must accept; I write to stimulate you own thinking, to give you a start, hopefully a boost. We cannot think clearly about a timeless existence; it is too foreign to us.
Can We Live Forever without Being Bored to Death?
In the next life, we will possess our physicality via imagination, and will be Avisible@ to others via faith and only by way of faith. All our physical senses taken away; that sounds like the most tremendous punishment imaginable. We do not, we cannot, however, presently understand the potency, the power, of faith. Through faith, we will have all communication that we presently enjoy and more, and we will have all physical enjoyment of which we are presently capable, and more. Our thoughts outside of time may not only become reality – they may be
reality from the first. C.S. Lewis wrote that the business of heaven, our “work” there, will be joy – will be to be joyful. Thus, we can, should, and, in fact, will concentrate on being joyful (and there will be and is no greater joy than praising God and enjoying Him forever. (Footnote – catechism) Other pleasure will come to us with not effort needed on our part; other pleasures will be part of the free gift of the Kingdom, customized to fit our individual desires. (As all evil will be annulled, we will not even think of wanting to do anything that is not favored by God.)
The Mind of God is of infinite extent, of infinite interest, of infinite richness. We will explore it forever, and we may be able to participate in it, to partake in making it what it is. The tapestry of C.S. Lewis described in Perelandra is all of His thought, and it contains our contribution, in some thoroughly mystical way, to the thought, the very Mind, of the one God. The excitement of such a thing precludes from the first any boredom. In fact, even the joy that will be our work will be extremely easy. “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” said the Lord (Footnote), and we respond, “What about those of us who have lost children in spite of having dedicated our lives to you.” God then tells us, “I am talking about ultimate reality, not about your illusory existence in time.”
Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream: merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily — life is but a dream. What if I said, “Life is but a movie?” You would probably answer, “Huh?!” I mean, what if God is showing us a kind of three dimensional – really four or more – set of scenes of which we are a part, which varies in content according to the choices we make. As we respond to that which is before us, we do not entirely know which of it comes from God and which is our own making, thought the longer we are in time and in synchrony with God, the better is our perception of which is which. (If our course is basically set in the wrong direction by an erroneous worldview (Footnote), we may have no idea at all which is God’s input and which is ours.) Such a concept fits with our being part of a kind of computer program, and it fits with the illusory nature of space-time. It also solves, in an additional way, the main concern we have about God: how he can allow bad things to happen to good people.
It eliminates the significance of all tragedy, which turns out to be that which molds us and nothing more.
What about the Scriptures describing Jesus’ chasing the money-changers from the Temple (Footnote), damning the fig tree (Footnote — Mark 11:13-14 and 20-22), and telling us to make friends for ourselves by means of the of mammon of unrighteousness. (Footnote – Luke 16:9) The first of these is easy. As I have noted, Jesus was no sissy. He saw the Temple of God in its desecration and reacted with the fury of God. Yes, God is good, God is love, God is merciful, but God exhibits straight-forward common sense and in no way abides the ridiculous. To disrespect Him is to deny reality, which includes love of and respect for Him Who is The Truth, which is almost synonymous with reality. Such behavior makes Him furious. His causing the fig-tree to wither illustrated that mind subordinates matter, and, though the fig tree was alive, it was not conscious; therefore, he did no harm. He did seem to be angry at a tree for no reason, however, but He was both God and man. Here he exhibits human behavior but commits no sin.
In Luke 16:1-9, he teaches the lesson that, if we are not faithful even with minor transactions in time, how will we be trusted with tremendously higher matters? He seems, however, to take the lesson to an extreme, possibly by saying that, if we are not even faithful in our sinful activities, how shall we…? This is the most difficult passage in the New Testament. I think we should begin consideration of it by being reminded that Jesus spoke Aramaic, that the New Testament was written in the common Greek of His day, and that most of us now read it in a goodly number of translations written during the last four hundred years. We may well have a problem of translation that makes it very difficult for us to find the gist of what Jesus meant. Eugene Peterson has it thus in The Message: “Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. (I can understand this; evil people understand and have a kind of distorted respect among themselves, because they are on similar wave-lengths.) I want you to be smart in the same way – but for what is right – using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.” I think Peterson has it right, though I feel sure he has utilized paraphrasing here more than in any other verses of his liberal translation.
An excellent commentary, The Zondervan Quest Study Bible, Revised, states that Jesus was encouraging his disciples to be savvy about the use of money and other worldly matters, to learn to be shrewd about using material things to make an impact for eternity. This would be very pragmatic teaching, perhaps more practical and less philosophical than any other saying of Jesus. It is almost as though Jesus is anticipating the need of future churches for money and is advising his followers to take a lesson from the unrighteous with regard to innovation and persistence without copying their purposes. In some cases, they might mimic their methods, and, in other instances, they should not.
What about the retarded and the non-cognitive who cannot understand the concept of commitment to The Truth Which is the Christ? What happens to them in eternity? This is not difficult. The more that a person has, the more responsibility he has. If a person cannot understand Christian salvation, he has no responsibility to. All dogs therefore go to heaven. Though I do not think of the retarded, demented, or otherwise mentally handicapped as dogs, I do say that their situation insofar as the ultimate judge of all is the same, provided animals do go to heaven, which I believe.
Why is prayer so important? Can you show that it is effective? Jesus’ words in the gospels tell us that, the more we believe, the more our prayers will be answered as we desire, so long as God knows it is in our best interests, and that, the more persistent we are, the more likely we are to get God’s attention. The idea of asking for what we want repeatedly, as though we might badger God, seems strange. Yet, this happens in the human sphere, and we are created in His image.
Obviously, we do not always get what we want when we want it when we pray, but it certainly appears to me that if we want thus and such to happen, there is a much greater chance that it will happen if we pray for it than if we do not. I have already talked about why God cannot always answer Ayes@ and do it right away because of numerous considerations He must take account of which are beyond us. Also, again, I do not think God wants to be loved because of what He gives us, just as a parent normally wishes to be loved for him or herself and not because of gifts which amount to bribes. Thus, even when God promptly and positively responds to prayer, I think He tends to do so in a way wherein we can explain what happened naturally if we so choose. Though He is capable of setting up a world in which our prayers are not of value, I think He has decided not to do this. He wants us involved because this allows us to develop maximally into complete and fulfilled individuals; it is part of our schooling, our shaping for heavenBit participates in preparing us to be Areal boys and girls.@
Several years ago, I found that, when I prayed and focused intently on God, listening every few sentences for an answer, I would receive valuable information that was particularly helpful in with regard to choices I had to make. The feeling that my prayers were, much more often than not, answered in this manner is strictly impression, but results seemed to confirm legitimacy. More recently yet, I have the feeling that He comprehensively directs my life in answer to my requests that He do so, with the result that my life is progressively rich, comfortable, and pleasant. I have spent more time with God and have been blessed with more faith in the past few years than ever before, and my intuition strongly indicates that my good life is related to my enhanced relationship with God.
In spite of identity and individuality, we have oneness with God when we so desire and request, and He shares our wishes. In spite of our having essentially no present in space-time, we have significant intimacy with Him here; when we who fully follow His Truth have become beings and are timeless, living in an instant of present forever, we will have a relationship with Him that will cause our current spiritual childhood to pale almost to nothingness by comparison. We were created for this mutually loving relationship; it is the heart of our reason to exist. Therefore, as we exercise our most expedient way of communion with Him in our present lives, we share His power. We share, in prayer, His ability to work on the quantum level, causing things to happen there by way of observation. As we desire to be close to our children, God wants to be close to us in a setting of love. When we seek that which He seeks in a stance of the most faith garner, we join our minds to His and reap mutual happiness. What a stupendous privilege to have the ability to make God happy!
As we develop into new and individual persons in the Christ, we manifest goodness on our own, according to our choices as we pass through a life in time. Though this goodness originally emanates from God, as do all good things, it becomes our own, and, through it, we create new love. Because goodness is truth, the essence of goodness is love, and, by way of good behavior that begins by loving, thanking, and praising Him, we directly help Him to fill the universe and all realms beyond with a bedrock atmosphere of love, thus building on and into His grand plan, that we help Him to make of all reality a single sphere of peace, pleasure and glory, in which we can experience ultimate joy forever.
As we reproduce exponentially, the increase in unspoiled and ubiquitous essence of The Truth can do the same. As love abounds, the Person of love is magnified and is therefore more and more able to send abounding grace to those who love Him. When He does that, His people grow in faith, and, when they increase in faith, they love more and more intensively and with less and less discrimination with regard to who is their friend and neighbor. The result of the interaction of love, faith, and grace is an upward spiral of joy that pervades the timeless realm, particularly in a milieu of the annulment of evil. Thus forms the tapestry that we discovered in Perelandra, immersed in love of God and God’s love of His friends and progeny.
This “Great Dance” (Footnote) particularly pleases Him because it augments His magnitude. He Who is love personified does not seek enhancement for His own sake but only because it enables Him to do more and more for those He loves. Prayer opens the channels of His doing so, and, the more we pray for others, the more the love of God is pointed in their direction because we are commissioned by God to generate and direct love in His ultimate world that we are helping to create.
Is the Bible really infallible. How can this be? Not really. The words of Jesus are infallible, provided translation is adequate. Otherwise, we must accept the fact that fallible people, albeit inspired by God, wrote the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, and fallible people decided what writings to include in the canon. (Footnote) We cannot escape doing our own interpretation and deciding for ourselves how well the holy Word of God has been transmitted to us from the time of Abraham until now. However, by way of prayer, discussion with dependable scholars and practitioners of the faith, and communication of communion with other Christian votaries, we can progress in our ability to interpret.
If we are or are to be one with God, which condition Jesus requested of the Father (Footnote), how is it that Judeo-Christianity is not pantheistic? As God’s only begotten Son is thoroughly united with the Father in the timeless state, so can we be. Yet, nothing destroys the individuality that Jesus attained on Earth, and nothing precludes our own identities as new creations of God. This may be the greatest mystery with which we must deal, and it is comparable to that of two people who become one in marriage. (Footnote) We can possibly understand all other characteristics of the one true God, but this one may not be subject to our understanding in our present state.
Is there such a thing as people who have never been born? No, this makes no sense, and the two claims that Tipler makes in The Physics of Immortality that I can believe are that all people who can exist do and that there are no other cognitive people in existence other than Earthlings. Tipler bases his belief that no one goes unborn on quantum mechanics by way of a mechanism that I do not understand. The matter of other collections of thinking individuals other than those on Earth is a matter of opinion. I think it probably takes a universe in order to create a single race of such.
Do you really believe in Satan? It sounds superstitious. The extent and degree of evil that pervades our time-bound world causes me to believe that a person of evil is indispensible. Without him, I do not think it would be possible for humans to be as perverse as we are.
How can intelligent people believe in the supernatural? Easy. Why not?It is very easy. If those who inhabit timelessness think about this matter, they probably wonder, “How can an intelligent person believe in the fairy tale of time, especially when a person of the intelligence of Einstein said it is an illusion? Whence, therefore, a belief that space-time is the milieu of all existence. There is no reason to believe this; therefore, through history, most intelligent people have believed otherwise. Science has not provides us with any evidence against the reality of the existence of a timeless realm. Whence any reason to believe there is no such thing. The answer is that such belief is based on unadulterated subjectivity, pretension, arrogance and prejudice. Such belief is not even worthy of being called opinion. It is personal arbitrary pseudo-faith. As science often deserts causation as it considers the first 10-43 second of the universe’s existence, many of its members desert logic and rely on their intuition, temporarily departing from the principles of their chosen discipline, when they respond to the question of the existence of the mystical. True science looks objectively for all of truth; pseudo-science embraces the bigotry of refusing to admit that one can be in error. We are virtually certain that we have merely scratched the surface of all there is to know on in the studies of science. As a scientist, I would never examine one hundredth of the research that has been done in any scientific sub-discipline and, on the basis of such evaluation, declare that there is no possibility that what I failed to find exists in the literature that I did not peruse.
If beauty is absolute, what if there were cogent beings on other planets where the females looked like beetles? Could we find any beauty in them? Yes, because, as I have said, our senses are not dependable. It would take large self-infusions of objectivity for us to call a beetle-women beautiful, but I could and would do so if I knew in an instance where the soul of one of my wives had somehow come to live in beetle like form. I know that I would be so taken by the personality of said beetle that I would proclaim it (her) beautiful. Our senses are sometimes right, as they are in our regard of Bach=s music and Michelangelo=s art, but they are usually wrong, as I have said. A woman with the features of a beetle in time might look entirely different when perceived by the mind’s eye, as will be the case regarding all perception when we have established our residence in the Kingdom of God.
What do Christians mean by “resurrection of the body,” and how is it that Christ arose in this manner, though our bodies may be burned up at the time of death or may thoroughly decompose after burial? Death could not hold Jesus, just as it could not hold Lazarus (Footnote) in the face of the power of God and Jesus’ timeless sacrifice. Therefore, Jesus and Lazarus arose body and all. However, I do not believe either lived forever in that arisen Earthly body. They lived eternally in bodies of their imaginations as I have described (and possibly in the imaginations of others, perhaps all others, in heaven. As I have previously requested, please do not consider such bodies “imaginary” in the sense of unreal. For the convenience of opponents of Jesus, the rumor was purposely started that His disciples stole his body from the tomb and took it to some secret place that has never been discovered. It would not make any difference whether they did or not; his resurrection could have occurred in the tomb or elsewhere, but it occurred, and He showed His disciples that His risen body was flesh, blood and bone. (FOOTNOTE AS FOLLOWS: Interestingly, this does not appear to bother even Tipler, who, as previously noted, has no place for the Son in his scheme of immortality and does not believe He rose from the dead – at least at the time of his producing The Physics of Immortality. He notes starting with the last line of page 243 that Jesus= resurrection body as described in Luke has three Asuperhuman features@ that one would expect to see in a resurrection body which represented a computer simulation [Please recall here our the thrust of our discussion in chapter 4, AThe Mind of Christ.@] Jesus could apparently modify His appearance at will, He could suddenly vanish from sight and walk through a wall [A computer-simulated body could be erased from one part of a computer-simulated universe and instantly appear in another part.], and His body was shown to be as real as earthly bodies in that He could eat, touch and be touched [A computer-simulated body would be as real as anything else in a computer-simulated universe.] Looking at two psalms, we see that David, who appears to have prophesied without knowing it at times, as in Psalm 110; quote verse says in Psalm 16: A…Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.@ I really think He was speaking of his descendent, Jesus of Nazareth, when he said this. I believe that decay of a body after death could be a negation, a subtraction from The Truth, evil in fact, and that Jesus= body could not decay because He, including His Body, had never had any association with evil. The other possibility is that it was in God=s thought that His body disappeared and did not undergo decay.)
What changes must be made in my reasoning if God inhabits more than one dimension of time instead of living in timelessness, as Ross believes and as Lewis may have implied. I would have to rethink everything. However, though I do not like in the least disagreeing with individuals of Lewis’ and Ross’ stature, I believe that lack of time in the Kingdom is much more compatible with the gist of Scripture, and it is certainly a lot more compatible with the consensus of many decades of Christian thinkers. Timelessness in heaven jibes more with rationality and the workings of the universe and of human lives than does the idea that there is some sort of time in the eternal realm. The feeling of Einstein that time is illusory looms large in my defense of my belief here. He may have had the highest IQ of any human ever. I can see where God=s being able to travel sideways in time, or backwards, might entail eternal life for Him, but the idea of timelessness as His state of existence is simpler and probably more elegant than any scheme of enhanced time-bound existence could ever be, and the principles of the beauty and simplicity of truth are powerful predictors of what is real and what is not.
It also seems to me that my reasoning in AReal Men Love Jesus@ about the instants of present that become the eternal present in heaven and my belief that we must have a present that we can get a grip on in order to live eternally is compatible with the absence of time in the Kingdom and not with additional dimensions of time Athere.@ At the same time, I believe these ideas are quite likely to be true. You described intuition as a good thing, but isn=t it a lot like going by your emotions instead of your mind?@ It is, in a way, and I may have thus far de-emphasized emotions too much. In fact, it is by by virtue of being intuition-related that emotion is valid to a degree. It is basically good if not overdone, although inferior to rationality. We just need, as I said, to be careful with it. Our minds would be bland without it, and Jesus certainly possessed emotion. (Footnote – wept and upset money changers) He upset the tables of the money mongers in the Temple. The strictly rational AEnlightenment@ of the eighteenth century needed the amelioration it got in the nineteenth in favor of the emotion of romanticism. Emotion is more connected with doxa than with logos, and I in no way here reverse my feelings about rationality=s outranking dependence on our physical senses. Yet we have fine art which is a joy to the eye. Whether painting, sculpture, music or literature, it embodies emotion; yet, it also manifests Truth, forming an ideal combination when at its best.
How do we explain Jesus’ not acting like He thought He was God at times and acting otherwise on other occasions. At what point Jesus began the thought that led Him to His declaration in chapter 13 of the gospel of John (Footnote), we do not know. It could have been from the first, as the story of his conferring with the elders in the temple at age twelve suggests (footnote 46). Also, early in His ministry He tries to hide his miracles, probably in order to avoid stoning and postpone the controversy that ultimately led to His execution. (Footnote 47) Leo Durocher was not the first person to realize that, in this life, “nice guys” tend to “finish last.” Jesus may have been. If the good people of our world tend to be persecuted, which seems to be the rule, the best are not likely to last long in it, and the Perfect had to work at it in order to get through His time of ministry that took place prior to His execution. Professor Fears believes his ministry lasted only one year, and if that were true, it would not surprise me. (Footnote ) John the Baptist did not last long , and Joan of Arc was executed after only about two years of pursuing what she felt was her calling. Relatively speaking at least, it is a tribute to the liberality of the high culture of the ancient Athenians that Socrates was not put to death until he was seventy, though the Athenians revealed profound ignorance and a major character defect in doing killing him when they did. In any case, Jesus’ eventual awareness that He was doing great things might suggest He knew of His divinity early in His ministry or from the time of the advent of His cogency in childhood. Yet, there is some suggestion in the Gospel accounts of His life that He may have gradually discovered His true identity and/or His destination, His oneness with the Father. (Footnote 49– Earlier, on the other hand, He had said when someone called Him “Good Teacher,” “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”) As the person who had the greatest faith of anyone who ever lived, whether He believed so strongly from the time at which He was old enough to think about such things or whether he developed this faith more and more over His entire life, He, according to my definitions of faith, would have remembered or would have come to remember the timeless realm much more fully than anyone else in historyA growing realization on His part is what one might expect in the case of a human being, a unique one, who “made it,” who really made it, Who became one with the Father. (Footnote 50) Yet, I believe They are One from always.
Is not what we believe mostly a matter of how we were brought up? If one was brought up in Iran, how likely would it be that he would become a Christian? This question is difficult to answer; however, its legitimacy is in question. There are no accidents; God is in control. We are who we are and where we are for a purpose. We are born at a time of history of God’s choosing. God will allow no injustice. Whether He will allow, say, a parent to be devastated because of a son or daughter who does not achieve heaven is open to question. In any case, I do not believe that any person will end up eternally without ability to communicate or to sense anything because of separation from God. Such a person will at worst be annulled along with Satan. I cannot imagine a merciful God like Him of the Bible Who would allow this worst scenario that I have imagined to fall on anyone, except perhaps for a person like Hitler.
AWhy does God need or want praise, even worship? Isn=t that sort of arrogant? After all, Jesus advocated humility and washed His disciples= feet. Here we must again speak of logic and justice, which are absolute attributes of His; because we have nothing, not even life without Him and can have so much forever because of Him, we cannot overdo praise and thanks, even at times when we are in misery. If we do not praise Him, we have it better than He does, and that would not be fair, and fairness is part of the Truth. This is because, as I noted, He has all the responsibility, and He has made the stupendous sacrifices necessary for our forever welfare, our part in this having been relatively minor if significant at all. We have the best possible caretaker to take care of the needs of ours which really matter. He is ultimately doing all the real work; it=s only fair that He be thanked Ato the max.@ Any other response is just irrational. Also, if we are not in a stance of praise and thanksgiving in heaven, we cannot live thereBwe would be incompatible with the Aplace.@ This is because we must give back all He gives to us, or try toBHe will not accept it. But if we do not have this kind of relationship in heaven, the door is open to taking advantage of Him, and that would lead us into all the strife that we have on earth. Thus, again, we must go to heaven with only the good part of ourselves remaining; otherwise we will not fit inBwe will Aruin the place@ if we carry into it any selfishness or pride. We need not worry, however; the relationship He wants with us is give-give on both sides, and humility is also a part of the Truth. He has called us friends and treats us as the best of parents or brothers would. We are not doormats before God; yet, given what He does and has done vs. what our contribution is able to be, it would be appropriate. But He lifts us from that.
The Christian claim that Jesus was born of a virgin presents us with more than one question. First, does Jesus= being born to Mary make her the mother of God. Until recently, I would have said yes. But if one looks more at the origin of God as simply that the Truth is too compelling and superior not to personify, as opposed to the possibility that my Amyth@ is more or less literal, as I now do, it follows that Eternal Truth, that greatest of minds, the Father, has always been and has always purposed, by means of thought, to have a son born of woman with the result that the Son led a perfect life and therefore became one with the Father, such that in a way we cannot fully understand, He became God as well as God=s Son, since He became, like the Father always was, the personification of Truth. Thus, as I said, the Son is God but He is not the Father. Thus, Mary is Aonly@ the mother of Jesus. A more difficult consideration, one of which that I cannot plumb the depths, is that Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the most mysterious entity in the Christian scheme; Anuminous,@ Lewis called Him. The Trinity is indeed general considered by the faithful to be inscrutable, though of course I believe what I have said about it to be true, so far as it goes.. I have already talked about how I believe there came to be a Father and a Son, but I cannot fathom the Holy Spirit.
Does it seem logical that God would be masculine? The first thoughts that come to my mind are Ayes, because Jesus was a man and because God impregnated Mary.@ Now, I may have just said something that is quite sacrilegious insofar as many Christians are concerned, but I think it only seems that way because we are so used to many sins’ being in the sphere of sexuality. Scripture clearly says that Mary was pregnant with Jesus on account of the action of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is God. There is nothing wrong with sexuality properly used. (Footnote — This was because, without Joseph=s sperm, no y-chromosome would have been available, scientifically at least, such that Jesus would have had to be female. This, in my scheme of thinking, would have raised grave doubts re the masculinity of God. I am now comfortable with the conclusions to which I have come in regard to the doctrine of the virgin birth, however, though I admit, certainly, to not understanding the entire mechanism.
If we think of masculinity and femininity in abstract form, we find that the male principle is active and supplies impetus; the female principle is more passive. Now, be assured that I use these adjectives only because there are no better ones to apply in our present situation. They could make it seem as though I believe the female mode is sort of a “do nothing” state, and I do not. The male principle does, however, include more giving and initiating than the female and the female principle more receiving and maintaining than the male. The Truth must nevertheless manifest itself in an active rather than in a passive form, though there is nothing bad about receiving, accepting, or maintaining, and these certainly do not entail subordination of female to male.
Woman is actually above man, but she is there because he has put her there. That makes things “even.” There are more parts to the states of being female or being male that entail difference and yet involve equality because any supposed privilege a male has is counter-balanced by one that the female has, whether by way of this factor’s being part of Eternal Truth or via its passing from male to female as an expression of the give-give principle. (Because masculinity and femininity are parts of The Truth, violation thereof is not to be trivialized.) A good example is the appropriateness of male leadership and initiative, which is balanced by something like the worship of femininity by masculinity.
There was once a group of rogue adolescent elephants causing a lot of trouble somewhere in Africa. These rascals could not be controlled until a few older male elephants were introduced into their midst and radically changed their behavior. The male principle embodies an element of authority that female does not. I hasten to add that, If cogent males handle this truism correctly, it is pervaded by humility, which men need just as much of as women. (Actually we need more, because we must overcome the fact that most men are much more physically strong than most women, and it is our responsibility to combine leadership without grasping it, as Jesus did not see equality with the Father as something to take advantage of (Footnote). This is difficult. Power has always corrupted to some degree, except in the case of the Son, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, unless one is God. If men cannot or do not lead, they will likely do nothing much at all, I am sorry to say, and it is vitally important that they participate in the family.
We need leaders, and we desperately need male leaders; children listen to them to a degree and in a way that is lacking in their response to female authority. I have repeatedly watched children ignore the plea of a mother or another woman to behave, to stop playing and be quiet when the situation required it. On at least 80% of these occasions, a firm word from a confident male figure, when one was available, was all it took to calm them and make them obey. Specifically, I have often had children behave thus in the setting of my physician=s examining room, wherein I simply said in a soft but determined voice, ASit down right here and do not say anything or move until I say it is all right to do so.@ I recall an elderly man in the United Protestant Church I attended when I lived in Palmer, Alaska, who could dependably quiet a misbehaving child with nothing more than a serious look of disapproval.
It is true that flowers and a few lower animals are hermaphroditic, but there is such a thing, I believe, as two beings in one physical structure, e.g.., to some degree, in the case of conjoined twins, and, again, there is such a thing as exceptions, not in the case of basic Truth, but in spheres wherein it does not really matter. Gender would seem to be of relatively little importance in the case of life that contains no mind, e.g. with plants (Some wannabe green thumbs would disagree and say that plants die on purpose, in order to frustrate us.)
Thus, God as the ultimate Leader must be male. Men are privileged to be like Him in this respect, but, as it is not God=s leadership or His masculinity that makes Him superior to us, the leadership and masculinity of men does not make them superior to women, and women are able to bear new life into the world whereas men cannot. The situation is balanced. What we see with masculinity and femininity is a matter of pleasurable difference, with the division of talents and labor, wherein some attributes and responsibilities go to men and some to women. One of the really striking ways in which George Ritchie=s book has the ring of truth is that he says that the being of light he encountered in his near-death experience, whom he identified as Jesus, was more masculine than any other man he had met. (footnote 13) The proper husband/wife relationship is that the female elevates her husband, so to speak, and he then lifts her higher than himself. Viva la diference! I implore ladies and gentlemen to give and to give – women to give up leadership and men to give up most of the rest and exercise a kind of worship as well, lifting up woman as high as he can reach. Both are to disdain pride. Behaving thus, we gain much and give up nothing worthwhile.
A question that has worried me in the past is AHow is it possible to live forever? It doesn=t seem possible to imagine anything without an end, much less live it. It seems too mind-boggling to try to think about getting up in the morning and saying, after, say, 10,000 years, AI=ll be getting up tomorrow morning too, and every day after that.@ I have recently found an answer that to me is at least fairly satisfactory. Our situation here will be comparable to what Lewis said with regard to God=s not exactly seeing the future because, to Him, there is only a present. In heaven, we will not have our minds boggled about never-ending lives because there will be/is no future Athere.@ If there is no yesterday or tomorrow, no future or past, we will simply not think about whether we will be alive tomorrow; such thinking will be as irrelevant as a fish=s wondering what it is doing in water. Also, if we need an Aalso@ here, we do not currently think about the future constantly. All we will need to do in eternity in this respect is eliminate the small amount of time we spend thinking about the future. Since, again, there will be no future, only an everlasting Anow,@ this should not be difficult. In additionBagain, if we need an addition–we will not be worried about the lack of an end in the Kingdom because everything we do in heaven will be so wonderful that we will thoroughly be content to do it forever. Now I know that sounds like the ultimate Apie-in-the-sky@ statement, but I make it after careful consideration. If reality is more or less intense relative to the length of time the present lastsBas alluded to in AReal Men Love JesusBour lives will be infinitely intense in heaven. Now, Aintense@ sounds good at first or for a while, but perhaps sounds exhausting if it relates to forever. However, I am not talking about an adrenalin rush. I am talking here about something extremely real and vivid, being alive in the most extreme sense of rejuvenation, total comfort, a feeling of being one hundred per cent rested and revived.
Ritchie (Footnote) describes what sounds like people engaged in research in his afterlife vision, and Tipler (Footnote) feels there is no limit to knowledge, to what can be learned. I can never find enough time presently to work on what I want to be doing, so maybe heaven will constitute a great relief in this respect. Dr. Tipler looks at living forever as packing an infinite number of events into a concrete length of time, the last moment of time of the universe. Though I do not agree with this thesis, this one particular thought of his may be instructive, at least in its ability to show how it might be possible to conceive of living forever and doing things in the process. In any case, if heaven is timeless as I believe, it will involve a consciousness so unfamiliar to us that we cannot contemplate what it will be like, such that any idea of monotony or any other such mental state is not something we should expect, as we have no basis on which to suspect anything at all. Anyone who is disturbed by the thought of living forever is speculating at best. We cannot an instant that lasts forever.
In his conjoint theory with James Hartle, Stephen Hawking writes in a cavalier manner of a universe without beginning or end and, at the same time, finds that God does not appear to be necessary. He is well-versed in quantum physics, however, which teaches that there is no meaningful existence without observation. Therefore, it is difficult to see why he believes he can talk about not only the universe’s existence but its existence forever with no observer in the picture.
The presbyterian catechism says that in heaven we will be occupied in worshiping God and enjoying Him forever, and I do not deny the truth of that contention; in my view, enjoying God forever may be so wonderful andByesBinteresting as well that we need not talk further at all about what action heaven affords. For one thing, the proceeds of this catechismal answer may mean full or at least extensive access to His Mind, and His mind is in my view the Source of all events of our lives; at least it is the initial impetus thereofBwith free will endowed by Him, we can alter His original intent. I think it would.
Another troubling consideration might be that I have made a lot out of light and sound, especially re music in regard to the latter, and this might seem unfair to the blind and/or deaf. When we dream, however, we see without eyes and hear without ears. Mind is mighty to the degree that it does not need our five senses in the final analysis of things. Though the speed of light in a vacuum seems almost sacred in our universe, memory and imagination will suffice and even exceed sight in the eternal realm. Besides, in situations where we need light, enlightenment often suffices.
When will the world end? Even Jesus said He did not know the answer to that one. (footnote 24) I will only speculate. I think the Avein of gold@ to which I compared The Truth in AThe Truth Is Inevitable@ may peter out to nothing so far as this universe is concerned, and that there may actually be a final believer, the last person to ever be in synchrony with The Truth in space-time. I think that God will wait long enough to terminate the world that nobody will be lost. That of course does not mean there will not be billions of people on earth with the last person of Truth.
Will we be with loved ones in heaven, and do those who have already passed on see what we are doing and/or affect us in any way? Can we convey messages to them? What about loved ones who did not enter the KingdomBcould we not have some misery in a place where everything is supposed to be wonderful if one or more of them were missing? I believe that in heaven one will be with everyone with whom he/she was on earth to the extent that he/she wants to be with them. If we want to be with them and they are not there, we made the wrong choice of loved ones, in the cases wherein we were able to choose. In cases where we could were not able to choose, such as with our children, we may need some serious help from God, and I think He will help us. The only comfort I can think of here is C.S.Lewis’ belief that everyone who wants to go to heaven will do so. I don=t think it is important whether or not humans already in heaven can observe us from where they are, and I doubt whether they can affect us. I think we are to keep our eyes on the Christ and have nothing to do with anything which smacks of ancestor worship or trying to contact the dead. We do not need them to intercede for us, and for anybody in this world, e.g. money, possessions, hiring a medium, to get between us and Jesus is a bad thing. Trying to contact the dead opens us up to being led astray and wasting precious time during which we could be helping to develop our forever selves in a positive manner. If anyone we try to contact that has passed on is not in heaven, we place ourselves in especial jeopardy when we engage in such activity. Also, I have an idea it would be a problem for the heavenly person to respond. My opinion here has to do with C.S. Lewis= belief, expressed in The Chronicles of Narnia and probably elsewhere, that each of us Ahas his/her own story which nobody else can know;@ it seems to me that this precept could be violated by communication across the veil. Again, J.B. Phillips said he saw C.S. Lewis after the latter had died, and I have to believe him because I think his dependability is virtually unquestionable. This relates to God=s allowing some exceptions to the rules, so to speak, especially among very dependable people; this is related to approximation and has also, I suspect, to do with miracles and the rarity thereof.
If Jesus is God, why did He say that only God is good when someone called Him good? (footnote 25) At the time He said this, He had not yet completed a perfect life and thus, from an earthly perspective, was not yet God. Though He had not yet sinned, He still had the potential to do so. His statement to the Syrophoenician woman, AI was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,@ is similarly puzzling. Perhaps He did not know until later that He was sent to all the world, or perhaps the occasion of the exchange He had with her is when He began to realize it. (Footnote 26)
Why does Jesus ask on the cross, AMy God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?@ (footnote 27) This used to trouble me. It sounds like He decided that He had been wrong all along in His ministry, in what He had done and said. However, I think this statement constitutes a major part of the ring of truth of the Gospel. Jesus was taking on all the sins of everyone who had accepted Him or who would ever accept Him, and possibly those of some others as I have discussed. He became sin. He became the antithesis of the Truth. In this hour, God could have nothing to do with Him.
What did Jesus mean when He said that He had other groups to whom to minister? (footnote 28) Mormons believe that He came to the Americas and preached to the inhabitants thereof. I would not say that is impossible. His statement could also mean beings on other planets, or even other universes; perhaps we will get to know these people and places when time shall be no more. Alternately, these other flocks might consist of beings to whom we will minister in the Anext life,@ or they could be those in Sheol, if there are such. The MWI may provide some of the answer to this question, though I doubt it. Finally, of course, these other flocks might be any combination of these.
What about miracles? Are they real? If God thinks things into existence and the world consists of His thought, I do not know why He could not violate natural law occasionally and cause something out of synchrony with same to happen. This would mean that natural laws either are not a part of Eternal Truth or they are a part of the Truth which is not totally necessary because it has nothing to do with justice or ethics. If He causes miracles, I don=t think He does it very often, partly at least because, again, He is not prone to parlor tricks.
If Jesus attained equality with God by virtue of a perfect life, why will we not arrive at the same state by virtue of being Awashed clean@ by Him? I would say that, having required Awashing,@ we will be entirely Truth, but we will not be the whole Truth, which is what Jesus and the Father are. We are Aliitle spirits@ compared to them, and this will always be; furthermore, the difference is large. Also, most humans would not disdain the opportunity to be equal to God, were we to have it. Jesus, as we have said, did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped; I daresay most humans of all times would. If we had the opportunity and did not disdain it, we would not be fit for heaven; so the state of affairs which exists here is ultimately to our benefit. Attempting to attain equality with God constitutes a sin which Jesus cannot, according to the innate nature of the thought and the act, excise out of our forever selves.
If Jesus took on all our sins, why did He not go to hell? As I previously noted, many Christians believe that He did, and I am one of them. But hell could not hold Him, because He was and is Truth personified, and the Truth is the most lively and positive entity there is and is not miscible with the negativity and death of hell. Jesus died, in a sense, in two states: perfect, with nothing negative in His life-print, and massively sinful. Thus He went to hell. But He had already refused to serve Satan when He was thrice tempted shortly after His baptism, and He had lived all His earthly life without any personal sin. Thus, He indeed went to hell, but He burst its bounds, and He may have brought others out with Him. The latter would jibe with Lewis= belief that everyone in hell wants to be there (partly if not entirely due to their inability to conceive that there could be anything better, often at least because they were too busy working against the Truth during their earthly lives to learn about it.) Dante, in the AInferno@ part of his Divine Comedy, spoke of Alimbo@ as the abode of the best people who lived on earth before the time of Jesus, and the ancient Jews pictured Sheol as a shadowy place where even champions of their faith like Samuel went. Dante=s limbo was presented as a part of hell, albeit the uppermost level where one could be reasonably happy, and Sheol sounds more like hell than heaven. Perhaps Jesus was able to preach to those in limbo and at least some part of Sheol, if either exist(ed), and remove those who desired to leave and were repentant.
Why did God come to earth as a man when He did? This one is easy. I suspect that He wanted to come as soon as possible, but the time was not right until the pax Romana. At that time the world was unified and at peace to a degree that was greater than ever before. Admittedly, communication is vastly better in modern times, but I don=t think God felt it expedient to wait until the twentieth or twenty-first century. We needed Him before that. Also, He needed to take into consideration the receptivity of humans which has decreased so far as the supernatural is concerned in our present age.
This question connects with another: Why does God not show Himself plainly to us. This has more than one answer, but the first that comes to mind is that He did and we killed Him. He told and showed us The Truth, and most of the people who were in His vicinity at the time He was here responded with hate. In the present day, we see pastors dismissed from churches when they preach the truth about their congregations, and I have spoken extensively already with regard to the ANice guys finish last@ phenomenon.
What about Max Tegmark=s beliefs with regard to parallel universes, especially those relating to the nature of time? Can they jibe with Einstein=s view of time and with C.S. Lewis= treatment of the production of our eternal selves as you have incorporated it into your thinking? If the multiverse exists and goes so far as to exist at Alevel III@ in his scheme, a state which is able to constitute reality by virtue of the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (See ALevels.@), not only do enough universes exist so that all events which are not non-sensical can and will occur, including the lives of all cogent beings who can possibly ever exist, and not only do possibly infinite varieties of lives exist for each of these beings, in that each choice each of them makes causes the development of an alternate life, but: each life of each cogent being consists not of going through time as we understand it, but going from universe to universe, insofar as consciousness/access is concerned, often, as time seems to pass. If I understand, in other words, what Tegmark is saying, a given person would inhabit gigantic numbers of universes in his/her lifetime, and these would be Aoff-set@ from one another by periods of time corresponding to the length of time which passes between decisions/choices one makes. As in the MWI one goes in a certain direction in life because of a choice made and has an alter-ego which goes in the other direction in a different universe which comes about as a result of his choice, in the level III multiverse time seems to pass because of shifts from universe to universe. (Note here the extreme pre-eminence of mind with regard to all events of all universes in all times, as making choices, insofar as the MWI, accepted by many if not most quantum physicists, is concerned, creates entire universes Aon the spot.@) This seems to me rather disorderly and inelegant, however, because of the varying amount of time between decisions (e.g., in the reader=s case, whether to stop reading immediately because the author appears insane or whether to continueBbut remember, my appearance of insanity relates to my recounting of ideas of science, not those of theology). Therefore, I feel compelled to consider the possibility that in a level III multiverse, one would shift from universe to universe with the passage of each 10 to the minus 43rd second, as this is the only length of time which constitutes a basic building block, an unit of time which was discovered, not made up and conventionalized, one which is Aout there.@ If we are to think about a level III multiverse, we must think big anyway; we might perhaps just as well Athink huge@ B Athink unimaginably huge@– and consider that in each second of our lives we inhabit 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 universes (Yes, forty-three zerosBcount >em. If there can be more than ten to the one hundred eighteenth power universes in existence, as Tegmark says, there can be any number of them, as further argued below. Even for a single personBtalk about birthday presentsBinstead of a bicycle or a book every year, you get a new universe every 10 to the minus 43rd second for the single life you are accessing, plus unimaginably more universes for those of which you are not conscious. The accessed life consists of going through universes Aoff-set@ by 10 to the minus 43rd second, universes which are static with regard to time but in which, as they exist in sequence, in series, you are 10 to the minus 43rd of a second older with each passage from one to the next. Unconscious, non-accessed, lives, if either adjective is appropriate here, would occur in the same way and would multiply exponentially because each choice represents, figuratively speaking, a fork in the road, and, in going in both directions as opposed to going in just one of them, one soon comes to forks in each of the two roads taken, etc., etc., etc. On the other hand, utilizing Planck-time in this manner doe not fit the MWI, which a level III multiverse is supposed to do, such that it may have no credibility. The MWI may not fit well with the concept that our eternal selves consist of the good choices we make during our stay in space-time, though some, perhaps even many choices, may be between two good things, such that Jesus= death and resurrection may not have to eliminate either of the outcomes which occur in different universes. Again, Jesus Himself made all choices correctly, and, if the MWI is valid, would have lived various lives, most of which we may know little or nothing about (Information about some of His activities in other universes might come to us via inspired Scripture, and here we have yet another possibility re his AI have other flocks of which you do not know@ statement.) However, Scripture tells us that Jesus had some choices between bad and good, in fact between evil and glorious; in His case, it is therefore irrelevant to talk about His choosing between good and better, as we will shortly see. With both Einstein and Tegmark, our usual concept of time is illusory, Ain the eye of the beholder,@ as the latter puts it. That situation supports Tegmark, but I think that a multiverse exists on the basis of its being non-sensical; part of my reasoning here is intuitionalBthey seem awfully fantastic, rivaling his mentor=s idea of their being only one electron in our universe. However, I believe I can get a better grip on it than that. With the multiverse, one goes around his elbow in order to get to his thumb, so to speak, violating the principle of Occam=s Razor. In fact, logic suggests that there must be either one universe or there must be an infinite number of them, as there would seem to be no purpose in their being any particular finite number. An infinite number of them would seem to violate Occam infinitely. If the level III multiverse exists, the MWI is of course correct, and the latter is, as we know, far from proven. If both are correct, it would appear that Jesus would have to have been born into all universes in order that every person would have the opportunity of salvation. As I believe that the multiverse, if it exists, is the thought of God and that God lives forever, He in this instance would have Aplenty of time@ to think of Jesus as inhabiting every universe. It would also seem logical that one=s accepting Jesus in any universe would Acount@ as one=s having accepted Him in all. HoweverBand this is the crux of any consideration of the truth of Tegmark=s level III multiverse and the MWI as they would relate to Christian beliefBwith the MWI, Jesus would have had to have made bad choices which would have been relegated to different universes from ours, and He could therefore not have been sinless. If Jesus was not sinless, we have no basis for the existence of anything, with regard to any of the three possible schemes of origin which I put forward in chapter 2, and I challenge anyone to come up with any better Answers with regard to ultimate origin. Thus I cannot correlate the MWI, or, therefore, the level III multiverse, with Christianity, and I claim there is no necessity to do so. it seems to me that Einstein=s view of time, as I elaborated upon it, is compatible with the Gospel, whether parallel universes are or not. It seems to me that the innumerable universes of which I have been speaking correspond well with the geographical locations of which I spoke in attempting to analogize Einstein=s concept of the passage of time, and his belief that time is illusory implies that it can and does not do us the harm that our senses tell us it does. As time does not pass, but only appears to do so in all universes containing cogent beings, there is no reason to believe they do not last forever, once having emanated from the Mind of God (such an origin to be contemplated below.) Once one dies, he or she leaves time, which, as previously discussed in the geographical analogy above, would appear to result in his/her being free to access all these universes. In order not to be hopelessly confusing, this access would have to be sequenced, and that ordering, I believe, could be done by a mind formed in its passage from universe to universe and subsequently freed into a realm wherein it could supersede these universes. (Remember, mind is not in the universe.) Such an ability of a timeless spirit, if you will, could eliminate concern with regard to what one might do to occupy him/herself in eternity, especially as Tegmark considers that the number of universes in a level III multiverse to be infinite. Tipler agrees that no problem exists with regard to our occupying ourselves in eternity, though his omega point theory comes to this conclusion via a far different route.
Ever since atheists and agnostics have been arguing against the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ or saying that the evidence in favor of its validity is not sufficient to warrant our committing to Him, this has been by far the greatest concern they have been able to raise. Asking how God could have come to be is a strong second, but blaming God for the occurrence of bad things has that beat. It has, I strongly suspect, led more people away from the Faith than all other objections to Christianity put together. If this protest by critics of Christianity can be adequately answered, and therein quelled and quashed, they will have rather little else to say in debate.
The short answer here is that God did not create everything; He only created everything good. Evil, like The Truth, exists or existed (depending upon one’s perspective) on its own without the need for creation. Yet the ultimate realm is not one of dualism; i.e., we do not have a God of goodness fighting a god of evil on the same level. Evil is subordinate and inferior in status to good from always, just as God is more good than Satan is bad (and particularly more right than Satan is wrong). As C. S. Lewis said at the end of his book, The Problem of Pain, evil is not Good=s opposite; “opposite to” implies “equal to.” While The Truth is inevitable, also existing without the need for creation (For example, love is a good thing without God=s even needing to say so, and the same applies to 2 + 2 = 4.) and of necessity gives rise to Being, which God is, original evil exists only potentially and gives rise to nothing without enablement by Satan and humanity. It is potentially autonomous and “out there,” but it can do nothing unless it has goodness to work against. It is parasitical, a negative entity — a hole, as it were, in goodness. .
The case for Christ, as Les Strobel called it, is basically as strong as it is because of the profound and manifold evidence supporting, such that the problem of pain, as Lewis called the problem of evil=s being in a world created by Personified Goodness, is not, to begin with, great enough to overcome it. Our God is so big (See J.B. Phillip=s book, Your God Is Too Small.) that the monkey is always on the back of those who seek to disprove God’s existence; the ball is in their court, and, in fact, their only argument lies in their a priori assumption that thoughts of Deity are irrational. In other words, if the truth be known, critics of Christianity usually make an unwarranted assumption of superiority from the first, as if, for example, “everyone knows that science has disproved the supernatural,” the existence of anything beyond space-time. Somehow, the powers of Good allow the truth of the matter, that this claim is false, to be suppressed.
It seems in fact to many people that we should leave religion out of business and politics, as we leave it out of legal matters, court. This is comparable to leaving it out of “Xmas.” (This turns my stomach.) We have a jolly fat man at Christmas and a bunny rabbit at Easter. I almost want to have these holidays over with so I don’t have to see the disrespect any longer.
Okay, that is point #1 – evil is a subtraction from goodness, a corruption of the thought of God; that is so hard to feature – it is possible only through our irresponsible use of our free will, the activities of Satan made possible by original sin, and possibly by a need for a pinch of chaos in creation. Satan is a shade. We will talk a lot more about these issues and discuss how they relate to tragedy on the personal level and catastrophe on the level of nature and the universe. There is much to be said.
I am not sure that what I have thus far posted will stimulate a lot of discussion. Therefore, I am herewith submitting my opinion about the ultimate nature and origin of physical reality for the consideration of all who access this blog. I covet your comments.
Paul said, “…we have the mind of Christ,” and Stephen Hawking has said he seeks the mind of God through physics and cosmology. Arthur Eddington, a famous astrophysicist of the earlier part of the twentieth century, said, “The stuff of the universe is mind-stuff,” and the book of Genesis repeatedly states that “God said, ‘Let there be ….,’” in describing creation. Who did He say it to? Apparently to Himself, and that makes these proclamations thoughts, albeit formally expressed thoughts. Expression, wherein the Godhead is concerned, is by way of the Person of God=s executive aspect, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word, the Logos, the Son, Jesus.
Similarly, Sir James Jeans, a physicist and mathematician who worked with astronomer Edwin Hubble (who discovered that our universe is expanding and was honored several years ago in having a well-known space telescope named after him), said, “The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter….We discover that the universe shows evidence of a designing or controlling power that has something in common with our own individual minds….” Here we have a scientist of excellence bothering to express that which had been impressed upon him by years of searching the heavens and trying to find a common denominator for all he observed. And he came up with Mind. (My book, Things Are Not As They Seem, explains why I strongly believe that mind is primary in the universe, much more so than space, time or matter.)
Cecil B. DeMille said, “Let the divine mind flow through your mind, and you will be happier. I have found the greatest power in the world in the power of prayer. There is no shadow of doubt of that. I speak from my own experience.” Even the pessimistic philosopher, Schopenhauer, thought of the universe in terms of will and idea. Then, most piercing — I am struggling to resist more emotional and melodramatic words — we have a recent trend among theoretical physicists, initiated by the late John Archibald Wheeler of Princeton, to regard the physical world as information, with energy and matter as incidentals! (I cannot recall who I am quoting here, but the explanation point is mine.) Here we have a man who was the dean of the theoretical physicists of the entire world, the mentor of two or three generations of scientists, including Richard Feynman and Hugh Everett III of the “Many Worlds Interpretation” of quantum physics, and who worked with both Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein, echoing Jeans= concept of the universe. It appears, moreover, that he arrived seventy years later at what amounts to the same opinion that Eddington had expressed in 1927, during the same year in which Hubble made his momentous discovery. And — Stephen Hawking, the best known theoretical physicist in the world today, essentially, it seems to me, expresses a belief which is the same as Wheeler’s in the following excerpt from A Brief History of Time: “Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? Or does it need a creator, and, if so, does he have any other effect on the universe? And who created him?”
When I combine the idea of the universe as information with all this supporting material, I feel overwhelmed, bowled over — with realization, clarity and reverence. I feel like C.S. Lewis must have on the specific day he was able to identify when He first felt certain about the existence of God; the day in which, in his thirties, he knelt and prayed for the first time since his childhood. (See his autobiography, Surprised By Joy.) Information is not synonymous with thought, with one exception. If the thinker is omniscient, His thought will be pure information. Also, we who are in the process of becoming what we will be in eternity are able to plan projects with our minds and then produce them using our minds and our extremities. How much more is an omnipotent Being — in fact Being itself — able to complete production of anything by way of nothing more than thought itself? I could hardly believe more strongly that the universe and all its contents, including us humans, is indeed information, which can only be the thought of a Great Mind, the Great Mind, the Greatest Mind, the true God, He of the Bible.
There can certainly be no information without an informer, and the Informer who endows us with the information, which is all the physical reality of which we are aware, can only be this one God, the Source of all goodness, reason and worthwhile information.
Michelangelo seems to have expressed his belief in the primacy of mind in the universe when he painted God reaching out to Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel against a background shaped exactly like a sagittal section of a human brain (as an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association of several years ago pointed out quite convincingly). In this masterpiece, he represents the creation of mind by Mind. Furthermore, Bishop George Berkeley, in the eighteenth century, said that any object is merely a bundle of perceptions — no matter how we struggle to claim it is really “out there,” existing independently, we know absolutely nothing of it except through our senses which feed into our minds. “Thus, even something as obtrusive as a hammer striking your thumb ultimately consists for you only of your brain’s interpretation of the pain impulses streaming up your arm to the parietal cortex and impulses via the retina and optic nerve to the occipital area of your cerebrum, as you watch in horror.@ (Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.) Presaging Jeans= views of two centuries later, this theologian and philosopher of the 1700’s saw mind as primary in the universe, matter as shadowy in its existence, and our senses as undependable with regard to the revelation of ultimate reality. It is reason and faith that allows us to perceive this to the degree that it can be perceived.
Quite a bit earlier there was Xenophanes of Colophon, who lived during the sixth century B.C. in a town in ionian Greece near Miletus. He reasoned that the arche= is a single God, who moves all things by way of his Mind. (“Arche’” means Ruling Principle, the entity that got everything else going.) Finally, Aristotle, giant of study and thought, saw the Creator of all as the Unmoved Mover, whose sole activity he believed to be thought.
The primacy of mind in the universe also fits well with the mysteries of quantum mechanics, wherein our examining a system affects what happens in it, and it is possible, as I have written, that nothing can really happen until a cogent mind is aware of the event in question. (The following wonderful limerick appears in Frank J. Tipler’s book, The Physics of Immortality — which, if read, should be approached in a highly skeptical manner: “There once was a man who said, “God Must think it exceedingly odd If He finds that this tree Continues to be When there’s no one about in the Quad. Reply: Dear Sir: Your astonishment’s odd. I am always about in the Quad. And that’s why the tree Will continue to be, Since observed by Your’s faithfully, God.”) As DeMille said, God=s thought flows through our minds, when we allow, and, as Jeans put it, we have something in common with God=s Mind. The information of the Informer is all of reality except for the abstract. It streams from the Mind of the Beginner, He Who begot and maintains the world, He Who is uncreated Truth. The universe is the Thought of God.