Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When Science Just Isn't Enough

You may have read previous posts of mine on the current state of science in our society. Most of my writings on science explain how science, while a good thing, has become a priority for us that we now look to study of the physical world to also determine our moral and philosophical world views. Any attempts to question the 'final word of the scientist' on any grounds, is not only widely labeled incompetent, but any restraint of science, be it moral, simply rational, or even scientific, is ignored and lauded as ignorant as the person who offered it.

This mentality is dangerous with any viewpoint, but with science, we don't usually think we are allowed to question it because we believe it is so authoritative on truth. And it certainly has shown us much truth as to how the physical world operates. However, this controversy over the legitimacy of science did not spawn from the sciences that have shown us truth, rather, the 'scientific' views that have become something of a belief rather than solid truth.

Especially in regards to consensus of the origin of the world, our species, the 'verdict' on climate change, genetic determinism, psychological dehumanization, and naturalism. These are all topics that have no proof of what they claim. Yes, they may arguably have scientific consensus (in some form) as to belief in their truth, but no actual proof. Wouldn't our obsession with science lead us to reject what is not proven? Yet, we do not have this proof, which I do not need to cite or discuss here, anyone who knows about any of the above subjects knows they are at best theories without any conclusive evidence.

Conclusive evidence is not what has convinced so many people of their legitimacy, rather scientific 'consensus' has been enough to somehow be grounds for truth. Do I need to explain the absurdity of using scientific consensus as proof for something? Its a logical fallacy, a form of ad populum showing that there is not enough actual evidence to conclude anything, yet because a bunch of people believe in it (or want to believe in it), regardless of how well they know the evidence, we take that as truth. Scientists have been using fear-mongering and personal attacks to make sure their points get taken seriously instead of using proof. This is a form of imposing beliefs on people to make sure they agree with you, which is something that our society also criticizes, even if it is done constantly by those who criticize it. And now, we see a self-contradicting mentality manifest itself in a recent U.N. conference on climate change, where the ridiculousness of the conference and the agenda of our 'scientific consensus' can be viewed pretty clearly.

A Commentary by Chuck Colsen:

Who says that we live in a secular age? I'll have you know that a recent U.N. climate change conference began with a prayer that the delegates would receive divine inspiration as they went about saving the planet.

Of course, the deity being prayed to was not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ but, rather, a goddess who demanded regular sacrifices, including the occasional human one. Given what is going on at Cancun, this invocation seems oddly fitting.

The "invocation" was given by Christiana Figueres at the start of the conference in Cancun, Mexico. Perhaps inspired by the setting, Figueres invoked the Mayan goddess Ixchel. (EEX-Kell)

Noting that Ixchel was the "goddess of reason, creativity and weaving," Figueres "prayed" that the jaguar goddess would "inspire" the delegates.

This is the kind of self-parody that even the U.N.'s biggest critics couldn't make up. Ixchel is often depicted as a "fierce hag" who, in her capriciousness, is just as likely to cause devastating floods as gentle rains that make crops grow.

It's self-parody, but it's consistent with the whole out-of-touch atmosphere of the conference. For instance, as delegates met in Cancun, Europe is enjoying the start of its coldest winter in decades-what German meteorologists fear might be the "winter of the millennium."

It's not just Europe: the first three days of the conference saw record lows in Cancun. Activists will no doubt say "weather is not climate," at least when the weather outside is frightful. When it's hot, they cite as evidence for their argument.

Unfortunately for them, one of their number has let the cat out of the bag. Economist Ottmar Edenhofer, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told a Zurich newspaper what many climate change skeptics already knew: what is going on Cancun, and for that matter, in Copenhagen and Kyoto before that, has little to do with climate.

Edenhofer told the paper that climate policy "has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore." Instead, meetings like the one in Cancun are about "global trade and financial policies." They are about a redistribution of the world's resources from the industrialized world to the developing world.

There is nothing per se wrong about talking about how to make poorer countries more wealthy. And there is certainly nothing wrong with discussions about more equitable trade and financial policies. What's wrong is doing under the guise of "climate change" with all the fear-mongering associated with the subject.

Not only is it dishonest - it's counterproductive.

Well-known environmental writer Bjorn Lomborg isn't a climate-change skeptic, but he convincingly argues that for a fraction of what activists propose we spend on curbing CO2 emissions, we could make a significant dent in truly-pressing problems like HIV/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, clean water and sanitation. These kinds of investments could save hundreds of millions of lives.

But there's no indication that the U.N. climate change officials lifted up these concerns before their Mayan goddess.

Like I said: Out of touch.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Seeking the Will of God

I was asked the other day how one goes about seeking God's will. This is an important question for any follower of Christ or those seeking God not knowing where He is or what He is doing. It is also a question I need to constantly keep in mind, because conforming my heart and will to God's is not an easy thing when our flesh is so weak.
Seeking God's will is an active movement in ourselves, such as the verb implies. But anyone can tell you that its not easy. Entire systems of belief have been formed on the premise that God's will doesn't affect the world, which I should note confuse me, because if God doesn't do anything in the universe, why is it important that He exists at all? Maybe to believe in a 'higher power'...but I would argue that a God that does not affect the universe is not a 'higher power' but rather an idea that gives people some illusion of purpose for the world. I use the word illusion because without the power to affect the world, there is no purpose. The reason I belabor this point is to attempt to make it clear right away that God's will does matter because God has the power to affect our lives and He will do so because God, having power over the universe, is interested in what He has power over. More specifically He is interested in us, as He wants us to love Him, despite our general ignorance of Him and His will.
So God's will exists, it is active, and has power over our world. Some people would not find that reason enough to care about God's will. But for the rest of us, I would like to provide some insight into approaching and understanding God's will.
1. God's will is incomprehensible. I know this kind of makes this whole thing seem sort of irrelevant, but I will clarify. God's will is like a massive tapestry woven with threads of timelines of events. We are not privy to this whole tapestry. And we only experience one thread of events in the present. So trying to make sense of the whole tapestry by looking at little threads or pick out a single thread is impossible. Therefore we do not need to worry about seeing God's will in this fashion.
2. Don't look for the future. I mentioned in point one that we only experience one thread of events in the present. This means that understanding God's will is not seeking a revelation of the future, but rather a guide for the present. Many people mistakenly attempt to discern God's will in the sense of the future. I say mistakenly for two major reasons: that Jesus specifically instructed us not to worry about tomorrow and a pursuit of the future is a lack of trust in God for the future AND that understanding God's will for the present is the most important thing He wants you to understand.
3. Trust God. If you can't trust God's plan for the future then you cannot follow Him in the present. And as stated above, His will in the present is the only one we should be trying to discern. Above all of that, trusting God IS His will for you all the time! The easiest way to trust God is to let go of what it is you are trying to control. And by let go I mean hold it out with an open hand so you can really let God have control over it and take it to do what He wants with it. Beyond that, trusting God is also knowing completely that He has a plan and its better than your plan.
4. Know God. In the beginning the word was with God and the word WAS God. Who God is has been revealed to us in Scripture! This is often called God's 'sovereign' or 'moral' will. If you don't know God, how can you know His will? You hear of all sorts of strange claims out there to people doing the will of God even though it directly defies Biblical principles. Defying Biblical principles is defying God. God has revealed to us His will for humanity as a whole in the Bible and it would be utter foolishness for us to claim that acting outside of that is a discernment of God's will! It is a contradiction that should be obvious. So then, in order to better know God, study His word and His will reveals itself to you.
5. Listen. Generally when people seek out God's will, we have all sorts of ideas about what WE want or about what we think God might have in store. We can learn so much by just taking the time to listen. The concept of listening is an odd one for most of us, however. What are we listening to? If you're like me, God does not grant you elaborate visions or verbally talk to you when you're alone. Listening then cannot be an act of seeking, but rather a discipline of silence. Instead of filling your head with ideas of the scripture you should be reading or ideas of where you think God might be taking your life, empty yourself of what seems right to you. For there is a way that seems right to a man, but that way leads to death. Paul says we are to die to ourselves, become crucified with Christ that it might be Him who lives in us, so it is no longer we who live, but Christ. So put away your preconceptions and become empty just so that He can fill you up with His spirit and will for you.
6. Observe your surroundings. Lots of times we as people will miss out on things going on right in front of us because we get so wrapped up in seeking God's will or trying to line reality up with what we want. God opens doors in front of us all the time! The above five points I just mentioned can get in the way of you perceiving God showing you His will in action or miss that He has given you a choice to make in accordance with His will (that means making a choice that is in line with God's character, refer to point 4). So pay attention to what God is doing around you so you don't miss out on it!
Some people might disagree with me that God's will allows for us to make choices, but if that is the case, then we cannot be held responsible for our actions...which causes a mess of problems for any Christian theology that claims we need Gods grace to be saved. But don't worry! Our choices neither surprise God or throw off His will or plan for us. We may make wrong decisions outside of God's desire (will) for us, but we are justified through our faith in Him and He is faithful to us! We can never escape His love and care! Making a wrong decision or stumbling is not what God desires, but His will for you does not change because of it. And its because of this simple truth that God's will for us ultimately comes down to us making choices with what He has given us in order to serve Him, not hopelessly tread on some fine line of events in an attempt to line our lives up with His plan. Serving and seeking and loving God IS His ultimate desire for you! Keeping the points above in mind when making decisions will help you make choices with the confidence that God is with you and that you are experiencing His will for you.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

You Know I Can't Show You

I answered the phone today

And heard you wishing me a

Happy birthday

I didn’t really know what to say

It’s been a while since I heard your voice and I

Kind of miss it

You know things can’t change

After everything we’ve been through you know its

Better this way

You know I can’t show you the pain

You know I can’t show you how

Much it hurts

And I know it ain’t easy this way

When it doesn’t make sense, but I

Can’t show you the pain

Won’t show you my pain

You got me thinking back to our first date

Remembering the way you used to

Smile at me

And remember how I held you in my arms?

We would just kiss away the night, we

Didn’t think it’d do any harm

Things were pretty good then

Didn’t ever think it’d stop and I don’t

Wish I had

But I can’t show you the pain

You know I can’t show you how

Much it hurts

You were the most beautiful thing

My angel and my dream, but I

Can’t tell you these things

I can’t show you the pain

Just look at us now

Mad as hell and we can’t even say more than

Two short words

Now embarrassed of what we became

It should be this way, but I

Loved you all the same

But I can’t show you the pain

You know I can’t show you how

Much it hurts

I don’t want it this way

I pray to God every day that He’d

Make something change

I think about you every day

I know I didn’t leave you in an

Easy place

But you knew it would happen this way

You knew I couldn’t stay

We couldn’t make it my way

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Treatise on Westboro Baptist

The Westboro Baptist Church decided to come to my hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa this past week in order to protest the local theater's showing of "The Laramie Project". For those who aren't aware of the significance of either of those, "The Laramie Project" is the story of a homosexual guy who was murdered, allegedly for being gay, a few years ago. The WBC is a fringe church that believes that America is a nation of evil and preaches the news that God's wrath is coming and we will all die and burn in hell. They sport the infamous "God hates fags", "Fag Nation", "US Army = Fags" etc, posters to which they bring to their 'protests.' They often show up at funerals for homosexuals and soldiers to yell and condemn the "worshipers of the dead" attending the funeral.
So they picked my hometown theater as a destination for this week.

I was invited by two groups of people to go 'counter-protest' the WBC. The first was a group started by people from my high school who rallied hundreds to this protest. They wanted to show the WBC that they were not welcome here.
The second was from my youth pastor, who had a different approach. His reasoning for going to protest was that any inaction in response to the WBC's verbal attacks, especially on the part of Christians, would be showing a sense of tolerance for their actions and furthermore not supporting the understandable backlash from the community, and thereby allowing Christians to be grouped in with the WBC, which is unacceptable. He suggested we bring signs that say 'God is Love 1 John 4:8' to show a Christian doctrine in opposition to the WBC's presence and doctrinal fury. The result was very successful, especially in the mingling of both groups.

Before I continue, I highly, highly recommend that anyone who is anyone watch this video. It is a wonderful look into the WBC.

A lot of my analysis regarding the WBC and how to respond to it has been influenced by that video and will be the basis of the following points.

Bottom line up front: the WBC itself is the embodiment of hatred. Lesser things have been said to start large wars. They use ideology, and worse yet, the Bible, as a weapon. They are conditioned not to listen, not to think, not to respond and not to question. The more hated they are and the more opposition they get, the more motivated and successful they become. They are fueled completely by the reactions they receive. Their lives are based completely on advancing their blind purpose to spread the 'word of God'. No 'God is love' sign will ever cause even a second thought as to their actions, especially since they believe what they do is love.

The most important point I would like to stress about them though is that they are people. As much as we can dehumanize them and liken them to the ideology they stand for, they are still people made in God's image whom God loves more than the world hates them. Watching the above video shows a very interesting and disturbing glance into their lives, but it is easy to see that they are real people with real feelings. And people deserve love no matter who they are.

That being said, I have thus far been no less disgusted with America's response to their presence than I have with their fringe beliefs. They are called the 'Most Hated Family in America'...which is an ironic title, I think. We criticize them for their hateful messages and dish the hate right back and call it justified. The above video showed a scene of a car driving by and throwing trash at one of their children. We stand toe to toe with them on the protest lines, fighting fire with fire, and call ourselves righteous. Our beliefs are better than your beliefs and we will fight them to show it.

I opted not to go to the counter-protest for the above reasons. I will not stand toe to toe with a group of people who are completely desensitized to alternative ideas. I believe whole-heartedly that raising our heads and ignoring their messages from the beginning would have made the WBC a name that not even their neighbors would recognize. Their motivation is reaction, their finances from suing the people who attack them, and their success is based on how hated they are. If they had none of those things, they would be just another fringe group that has no real effect on the world around them. They would tire of holding their signs that no one reads and their voices will be hoarse from yelling at deafened ears. I like to think that if I meet one of their members in person, I would treat them no different than anyone else and in doing so, not be in conflict with them and maybe show some of God's love in a personal way.

"But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness" Romans 4:5

And just as a side, the WBC didn't follow through with their plans to come to Cedar Rapids.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Heart Abandoned

Some of you may know the song The Stand by Hillsong. "So I'll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the one who gave it all. I'll stand, my soul Lord to You surrendered. All I am is Yours."
This song entered my headphones as I wrestled with some complicated issues today. I wanted to know the real meaning of abandoning my heart, because, as we can all relate to, our hearts are always trying to do a lot.

Our hearts are the sources of our desires, our fears, our pain, our will, and we hold so many secrets in our hearts. Everyone has one of the above they don't share with people, out of fear at that, because of what other people might think. Other people won't understand. Unfortunately, this fear is very rational, as people never seem to do a good job of understanding.
Our hearts point us in all sorts of directions and rarely do we have the fortune of our hearts giving us one direction at a time. And often times, these directions are to places where we know we don't want to be.
But our hearts also love passionately. When we fall in love with something, nothing can take it away. What we love is the most important thing in our lives. Our love can lead us on noble and selfless ventures.

I asked myself this: How often does my heart really seek after God?
Somewhere between my love of music, fear of loneliness, pain of broken dreams, and my will to get what I set my eyes on, God gets shoved into a category infamously titled my "heart for God."
I desire so much for myself. I place boundaries on what I want to "honor" God, but is that what God wants for us? Are we doomed to live in a world of boundaries?
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of abandoning my heart is to forget about all the things my heart wants so it doesn't get in the way of my relationship with God.
I don't know about you, but I don't typically give things to people by locking them up somewhere we both can't get to. I don't think abandoning our hearts means hiding them.

Lets look at this from a different perspective.
God calls David a man after His own heart. That sentence seems to suggest that God has a heart of His own. If David's heart is like God's, lets look at David's heart.
David is clearly a very emotional character. In Psalm 22, David laments the agony and pain of being abandoned and lonely. In Psalm 109, David cries out to God to retaliate against his enemies. He begs to see justice served. The Psalms are full of David's emotions and desires, even when they desire vengeful, hurtful, and selfish things.
There is also a passage in Psalms that says "Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Some people think that means if you follow God, you will get what you want.
I would suggest otherwise. I would suggest that David is saying that God will give you specific desires when delighting in Him. That God's desires become your desires.
Wouldn't that mean abandoning our old desires? Wouldn't that mean that my heart's desires, because they can't co-exist with God's desires, need to be abandoned?
Wouldn't that mean that I need to abandon my heart so God can give me a heart that delights in Him?
Maybe I'm alone in this, but that doesn't seem possible. How can I delight so much in God that my desires all change, or are abandoned, so my desire for Him can be given to me? I don't want to stop loving some of the things of this world. Who really does? We all want things in this life.
Clearly, my desires are not things I have control over. But God does. And when I think about it, to desire what God wants for me sounds a lot better than what I want, even though I can't imagine anything better than what I want. I believe it though, so I pray that my desires be God's desires as I wait for God to help me abandon my heart to let Him transform me.
I hope this gave you something to think about, thanks for reading.