Friday, September 28, 2012

Who is the Christian God?

When talking about philosophy, defining terms is absolutely crucial. I may have ignored that necessity already in this blog, causing some amount of confusion; so I believe that it is time to start filling in those gaps. When talking about religion, there are a few absolutely crucial terms to define, one of which is the word “God.” The following should be a fairly orthodox Christian explanation of the definition of the term “God.”
To begin, we must differentiate between the word “God,” and the word “gods.” The latter is a term for finite creatures of great power who either control or represent the quintessence of elemental or ideological forces such as the earth, the sea, wisdom, justice, fate etc. In popular usage, it may also refer to someone who is very talented, famous, or who is adored by many people, as in “Justin Bieber is a pop god.” (It pains me even to use him as an example). The word “God,” refers to the God of monotheism. The Greek pagans had gods; Muslims pray to God.
So, obviously, as a Christian, I will be defining the word “God.” Let’s start with the popular definition of the term. I think that when many use the word “God,” their usage indicates that they mean a being of great power and ability; who can mold and shape reality; and who cannot die. When reviewing common usage, however, I think it becomes evident that many people think of God as being finite. Phrases like “I don’t want to bother God with that,” “He’s too busy to worry about that,” “Don’t do that in the church where God can see,” etc. seem to indicate that the popular conception of God is of a very powerful but limited being who has a limited amount of focus, power, attention, time, reach, and sight. This is a God who you can get away from, trick or manipulate. In other words, it seems to me that when most people say “God;” what they mean is “god.”
Traditional Christian theology cringes at the thought. For traditional orthodox theology, the idea of God necessarily includes concepts of omnipotence (power to do anything), omniscience (knows, sees and hears all things), omnipresence (exists in all physical locations at the same time), infinitude (limitless in power, scope, and being), and eternity (exists above time). Additional, but lesser known traditional attributes include impassability (cannot be affected), immutability (cannot change), and perfection. If a “god” is powerful but limited, then Christian tradition is definitely talking about “God.”
The Christian Bible clarifies, anchors, and corrects the concepts of traditional Christian theology. The Christian God is certainly described as all-powerful (“for man this is impossible, but for God all things are possible”), omniscient and omnipresent (“’Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’”) and eternal (“a thousand days is like a day, and a day is like a thousand years”). According the Bible, God is holy (from the Hebrew qadash “set aside for a particular use,” “special,” or “other”) meaning God is categorically different from the rest of creation. God created the Heavens and the Earth, but further, He sustains and preserves His creation moment by moment. The Bible certainly agrees with Platonic notions of a God who is unchanging; it might prefer the term faithful, for the God of the Bible can change, respond and move, grieve and rejoice. The most important Biblical idea of God, however, is that He is love. 
In Christianity, Jesus Christ is the face of God to humanity, he is the ultimate revelation of the character and nature of God. In Him we see the grace and forgiveness of God; but also the just and righteous wrath of a holy and sinless God. The ultimate revelation of who God is, though, is the cross. This is where we see the suffering face of Christ, the self-emptying, and loving sacrifice of a transcendent God who voluntary descends into the mess of human life, committing to us, and dying for us. In Christ we see that God is one who would lay down His life for His friend.

Friday, September 21, 2012


A national virtue that we are coming to accept is the idea of tolerance. The word tolerate comes from the Latin verb tolerare which means “to bear,” or “to endure”. To tolerate something is not to accept it, it is to endure it. To endure something means that you don’t like it, you don’t enjoy it, but you put up with it because you have to. You endure root canals, punishments, and un-relievable pain; you don’t endure eating pizza, or kissing your significant other (unless you’re not doing it right : ). To tolerate a person is to bear them as a burden. If you tolerate Jack, then you don’t like him, you don’t want him around, you don’t enjoy interacting with him, but you endure his presence because you have to. To tolerate something is to build a wall against its presence in your life. It’s like putting up a privacy fence between your yard and your neighbor’s yard. You can’t get rid of him, so you put up a fence and ignore him, “Don’t bother me, and I won’t bother you.” That’s toleration. It merely avoids conflict; it’s sterile. I don’t want to be tolerated.
Forgiveness is a semantic cousin of toleration. It is a purely English word, coming from the Old English forgiefan which combined for- (completely) and giefan (to give). To forgive is to give completely of oneself to the other for the other’s sake. Where toleration is sterile, forgiveness is intrinsically messy. Forgiveness does not simply endure the other person. It does not build walls or fences; it does not keep the other person at arm’s length. Where toleration avoids conflict for the sake of false peace, forgiveness steers into conflict for the sake of reconciliation. Where toleration gives blanket allowance, forgiveness refuses to condone abhorrent acts. Forgiveness reconciles individuals and their relationships while recognizing and accepting the consequences of poor choices; and so, forgiveness requires change.  Forgiveness requires a change in character, in actions, in relationships, and in hearts, both for the forgiver and the forgiven. Sometimes, where the heart of one party has turned away, forgiveness requires a parting of ways; while tolerance never gets close enough to see the heart. Forgiveness can mean rejection. If forgiveness means to completely give of oneself, it must also entail fully taking the other in; the fence must come down. Forgiveness is always for the sake of the other, for it is always based in love.
Given the choice, I would rather be known for my forgiveness than my tolerance.

Friday, September 14, 2012

25 Reasons Why I'm Glad I'm Not A Woman

25. We get cooler toys- From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Wolverine to new tech gear and fast cars; the toys guys get are just plain cooler, hands down. For proof look at the movie theatre.  Movies associated with toys and comic books for boys: X-Men, Iron Man, Spider-man, Transformers, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Avengers, Ghost Busters, and G.I. Joe to name a few. Do you see any Barbie movies coming out? I don’t see My Little Ponies lighting up the box office any time soon. Why? Cause boys get cooler toys.
24. Drama – In general, women have to put up with more relational drama than guys do. Part of this is because guys are simpler; we don’t have layers of unspoken telepathic meaning behind what we say, and we don’t root around looking for it in what other people say. On top of that you have the mean girls and cliques, and people that you’re not supposed to like because of how they looked at your friend’s friend boyfriend that one time. It can get pretty ridiculous.
23. Make-up and Hair – Do you know what I do to get ready in the morning? I get out of the shower, I brush my teeth, put on deodorant, take my cholesterol medication, towel my hair dry, put on clothes and leave. Done.  And I have long curly hair too! I’m so glad that I don’t have to deal with mascara and lip-stick and frizz gel and foundation and moisturizing under eye cream and anti-aging serum and straight irons and curling irons and wavy irons and Jeremy Irons, and lip gloss and eye shadow and eye liner and, and, and . . . it’s just too much for me to want to deal with.
22. Inability to make decisions/not knowing what they want – How many women do you know who actually know what they want out of life? Again, men are simple and focused, we know what we want and we get it.
21. Bras – I never knew how much of a bane these were until I got married. Underwires, twisty straps that don’t stay in place, latches that break and come undone at the worst moments. Not fun.
20. Linear vs. Non-linear thought – I believe I read a study some time from some reputable news source that revealed a basic difference in how men and women think. Men are linear, progressing, generally from one point to the next in a linear progression. Women think like spaghetti; they’re all over the place all the time. That’s one reason why women are so much better at multi-tasking; they can juggle multiple trains of thought at once. Still, I like my linear thinking. I like being able to follow a single line of thought all the way through to its conclusion without getting distracted. It’s fun, you should try it some time.
19. Bathing Suits – I’m so glad that I’m not expected to strip down to near nakedness just to go swimming. I like to wear my cargo shorts and a t-shirt when I go swimming. For women, even one piece suits let half your butt hang out and come dangerously close to the lady bits. I can’t imagine having to wear those things, I’d be extremely self-conscious.
18. Women are Evil – Watch and learn:
Time = Money; Women = Time x Money; therefore Women = Money2.
Now, √All Evil = Money; i.e. All Evil = Money2; Women = All Evil.
It’s just a simple law of the Universe; women are evil and men are stupid. I’d rather be stupid than evil.
17. Shaving – Women have to shave both legs, both armpits, and have to shave, pluck or wax hair off their face, if applicable. Men, we have to shave our face, unless we have a beard, and if we miss a few days we look “rugged.” If women miss a few days they also look “rugged.” But we pull off the look better.
16. Body Image – I know that men can have body image issues too, but women seem to have it way worse than we do. Everywhere they look they are bombarded with images of what they “should” look like; and many of those images are unobtainable through healthy practices.
15. Map Reading – In our family, my wife is unquestionably the better of the two of us at finding her way around places she’s been before. However, once we get into unfamiliar territory and have to get out the map? Just give it to me. When we got married, the Atlas she had in her car was older than she was; I think it had a map for the Nevada Territory! I like maps.
14. Kid watch – Why is it that we just assume that any and every girl is automatically good with kids? Just like guys, not all women like kids or even know what to do with them. Just because they can carry them doesn’t mean they want to or should watch them.
13. Making bank in pro sports – Not that this was ever really an option for me personally, but if you want to make a career of sports, you’re much better off as a guy. Nothing against the WNBA, but when you’re competing for dollars and viewers with LeBron James and Kevin Durant, well, good luck.
12. Not being taken seriously – Whether she’s going to buy a car, trying to voice an opinion in a meeting, trying to have a philosophical discussion, or just trying to make ends meet, it seems to me that women have to work harder to be taken seriously, be listened to with respect, and get the same compensation as men.
11.  I don’t like men – We’re hard, scratchy, dumb, inarticulate, and have hair in weird places. We’re like big radioactive bears stumbling out of a nuclear reactor. Honestly, I think most of us are kind of surprised that you like us. Women are soft, smooth, and they smell nice. We definitely get the better side of this deal.
10. Guys can leave the house with fewer than 20 items – When I leave I have a four items that I make sure I have with me: keys, wallet, phone, glasses. Anything else I need I can improvise for. Women can’t leave without a gunny sack filled with provisions for a 3 week stand-off. They’ve got lip balm, and gum, and lady things, and a coin purse with no coins in it, and lip stick, and an address book, and lip gloss, and a phone with their address book in it, and lip liner, and pens, and pencils, and markers, and a small dry erase board, and chap stick, and water, and snacks, and grape jelly, and a pillow, and a sleeping mat, and a small camping stove. I swear, some of these purses are like clown cars opening into an alternate dimension.
9. Being expected to do the domestic chores – On a certain level, I get this. Guys are ok with a much lower standard of living than girls are, generally speaking. So if you want to live in a clean house, but I don’t care, then why am I supposed to be the one who cleans? Answer: because you love her. If you love her, then you will help keep the house in a way that will make her relaxed and comfortable, even if it’s more than you need. It’s not fair to expect women to work full time and come home and do all the household chores; it’s just not.
8. Boobs – Don’t get me wrong, I like these as much as the next guy; but I don’t want them coming out of my chest. They result in back-aches; they hurt when they move around too much; and, there’s no way to hide them. No matter what you do or what you wear, they are always evident.
7. Being vulnerable – This is a corollary of the preceding. As a guy, I can carry something that other people want, or I can put it down. I can walk around with a wad of hundreds in my hand, or I can leave that at home; and, even if I do have something that other people want, I can hide it so people don’t know I have it. Women are something that other people want; they can never put down their status as a woman or leave it at home if they go someplace dangerous. People will always know that they are a woman, and that femininity is something that some people are willing to get violent for.
6. Menopause – Hot flashes, hormone imbalances, mood swings, crying at hallmark commercials, psychological factors. All in all, something I’m glad I don’t have to go through.
5. Periods – See Menopause, except add extreme cramping, monthly recurrence, dealing with tampons/pads, mood swings, and PMS jokes from co-workers. Again, all in all, glad I don’t have to deal with this.
4. Really long lines at bathrooms – I don’t know if small bladders increasing the frequency of visits, or more going on and needing to be taken care of, or mood swings, or what, but if a girl has to go, she’d better get ready to wait cause it’s gonna be awhile. Maybe this is why most Women’s restrooms feature couches, end tables, cable tv, and a mini-fridge.
3. Pap smears – yeah.
Oh, and mood swings.
2. Pregnancy – Possible symptoms of pregnancy – nausea, bloating, flatulence, increased urination, fatigue, hyper-sensitive olfactory sense, excess saliva, constipation, heartburn, weird cravings, headaches, dizziness, mood swings, panic attacks, congestion, sensitive gums, swelling, varicose veins, getting beat up from the inside, backache, foot aches, leg cramps, swelling, stretch marks, insomnia, moderate to severe general achiness, nosebleeds, carpal tunnel, numbness, hemorrhoids, shortness of breath, and pain. And those are just the nouns! Your body gets taken over by what is, for all purposes, a parasite for nine months, twisting it out of proportion and forcing you to carry around 40 extra pounds for nine months straight. Is it worth it? By all accounts yes. Is it pleasant? Not a chance.
1. Labor – If there is any discussion on this, then you obviously haven’t witnessed a live birth. Mothers will tell you different, but I’ve seen this in action, and rest assured, it deserves the number one spot.
So, men, thank God that you’re a man, and treat the ladies in your life well; they deserve it. Ladies, for all you do for us, all you put up with from us, and all you go through: Thank You. You are appreciated.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Ok, I’m throwing down the gauntlet. I cannot see any rational grounds for the idea of morality without the idea of God. As far as I can tell, the two ideas are intrinsically linked and cannot exist without each other. I’m offering $25 to the first person who reads this post and can prove me wrong.
The idea of morality is based on the idea of “should.” We should be nice to each other. Personal property should be secure and not liable to theft or destruction. The innocent should not suffer, and the evil should not prosper. Children should be able to be children; they should not be molested, have to go without food, or die from preventable diseases. I think we would all agree on these; but, why? How do we know what should and should not be?
We would all agree that serial murder is wrong; but how do we know it’s wrong? It seems to me that the idea of should inherently implies the idea of design. There is no should if there is no ideal which the should not deviates from. Without some sort of design, then there is no way of discerning or delineating what should be from what should not be. In other words, serial murder should not exist because it deviates from the utopia of peace and security to which we aspire.
The idea of design then inherently implies the idea of a designer. A design cannot be random, it is the antithesis of randomness, and anything which is not random is intentional. Anything which is intentional must be established by intent, that is, by an intellect.
Another way of saying this: a standard of morality must be defined either subjectively or objectively. I will use the ideas of symbols and of rocks to illustrate the difference between subjective and objective definition. A symbol means whatever the person who established the symbol wants it to mean. So, red lights mean stop because our society says that they means stop, we could just as easily redefine them to mean go any time we wanted to. A rock, on the other hand, is always a rock no matter what anybody says or thinks about it. You can use any word you want to signify the idea of a rock; but a rock by any other name is still a rock. Morality, then, if it exists, must be either subjectively defined, like symbols, or objectively defined, like rocks.
If morality is subjective then it is defined by each individual person or groups of people concerned. There is an inherent problem with this, however. If morality is subjective, then I cannot tell you what is right or wrong for you. Just like with symbols; if you and your best friend decide on a secret handshake, then I can’t tell you that you’re doing it wrong. If morality is subjectively defined by the individual, then no one individual has any business telling any other individual what he should or should not be doing. If you decide that you’re going to cheat, then that’s your business and I have no right to tell you what to do. If you want to lie to your spouse, then that’s your decision. If you want to molest children, and morality is subjectively defined by each individual, then I have no moral authority to tell you that you’re wrong or stop you in any way.
The same scenario is at work even if morality is subjectively defined by groups, nations or cultures. There are tribes around the world that buy and sell girls to become child brides. Just because their culture says it’s ok, does that mean it is? There are cultures that penalize women who have been raped by executing them. Is that ok? In the 1930’s and 40’s, an entire nation decided that it was a good idea to round up Jews, send them to death camps and murder them with less dignity than a herd of cattle. Was that ok? No? Why not? If morality is subjectively defined, then morality does not exist except as an individual opinion, and it has no universal authority. That is to say, if morality is subjectively defined, then it does not actually exist, it’s something that each person fabricates for themselves out of thin air.
So, what if it’s objectively defined? What if it’s more like gravity or the laws of thermo-dynamics? Ok, so we discover natural laws and principles through scientific experimentation. How do we discover the “Laws of Morality”? You can’t put justice in a test tube. If morality exists in the same objective way that gravity does, then it is meaningless to us because we do not have the means to discover its reality. All we would have is individual subjective interpretations of that objective reality, which gets us no further.
But let’s go back to what I said before. Should inherently implies design, which implies intent, which implies intellect. An objective standard of morality that is discoverable to us in any meaningful way can only exist if some intellect established that standard and revealed its nature to us. But wouldn’t that make morality subjective? The only scenario that gives morality any real and meaningful significance is if it is established by an intellect that transcends all of humanity and has the authority to impose its will upon us. Then its standard of morality would be universal and unique.
The only intellect that meets such a requirement is God.
Therefore, if God exists, He, and He alone, defines morality; if God does not exist then morality has no meaningful existence, which is, experientially, the same thing as saying that morality does not exist.
If morality does not exist, then child molestation is not wrong.
Additionally, ideas like justice hang off the idea of morality. If there is no right or wrong, then you can’t wrong me, and I can’t demand justice for being wronged. And, if there is no God to define human rights, then what other authority has the right and the standing to define them? You have the right to free speech? Says who? The government? And if it didn’t exist or it changed its mind? Justice, human rights, and morality do not exist in an atheistic universe. The only way these can possibly have any meaningful existence is if they are defined and sustained by a transcendent and authoritative intellect, a.k.a.  God.
Now, prove me wrong, I dare you.
Here’s how: post your rebuttal in the comments. I will, of course, discuss your answer with you and if you are the first person to prove me wrong, I will give you $25.
Good luck!