Monday, March 31, 2008

The Tricks of Satan

So far, I have covered "doubting God's Word", and "God doesn't want you to enjoy life".

Today's trick is covered by the same verse as the last one (Genesis 3:5, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.").

I believe this is probably the second most common trick -- "You will be as god".

This is the key behind so much bad theology/philosophy. Atheism has aspects of this: kill God, and man can ascend the throne.

What more is there to say? Satan uses it because it works. "Find the divine in you", "have faith in you", "believe in yourself", "your divine spark", "live your life as you please".

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Geert Wilders - Fitna

So, I decided to watch the movie that has caused so much uproar (or, at least, what they've got on You Tube).

It's not particularly well done, kind of a montage of news footage with text overlays protesting against the violence we see from Muslims, and a call for reform.

The argument goes like this:
  1. The Koran tells Muslims to kill unbelievers
  2. Muslims are killing unbelievers
  3. The unbeliever who made this film would prefer to not be killed (the film references the last filmmaker to complain, who was killed).
  4. The filmmaker asks Muslims to edit the Koran to remove these offensive parts.
I guess that's all a materialistic world view can produce. "Hey, please don't kill me, mmm 'k?"

What are the theological points?
  1. The Koran claims to be the Word of God
  2. Either this is true, or it is not true
  3. If it is true, then editing the Koran is not the solution -- you're not going to change God's mind by misrepresenting what He has said. And an omnipotent God is going to see His Word goes out.
  4. If it is false, then the whole thing goes out the window. No need to pick and choose what parts to keep.
So, the solution is to convert Muslims from Islam. Either to atheism, or Christianity.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jesus: Man of Action

I've been practicing a technique I first saw at the Evangelical Outpost. Later, I heard John MacArthur recommend it, and I recommend it too. It's reading the same book of the Bible over and over for a month (or more, you want to read all of it twenty times or so). It really gives you a feel for the subtle points of the book, where a single reading only gives the main thrusts.

Recently I've been reading the Gospel of Mark, a lot.

On about the third reading, you notice the word "straightaway", a lot. After ten readings, you're looking for it, and can begin to predict when you'll see it -- and take notice when it's not present, but seems like it could be.

Now, I don't believe in the mysterious "Q" gospel. I forget where I first heard of it, either Borg or Ehrman. It's possibly worth more investigation.

One of the big differences you see between the Gospels is in the vocabulary and writing style (which is partly the personality of the author, partly purpose in writing -- including target audience).

Mark was not one of the original apostles. He was the assistant to Peter (and possibly the "rich young ruler"). The Gospel of Mark was the first of the four Gospels, and was directed towards new, Gentile believers.

The word "straightway" is used forty-two times in the King James -- nineteen are in Mark (versus eight in Matthew, and four in Luke). The word "immediately" is used fifty-five times -- seventeen in Mark (six in Matthew, thirteen in Luke).

Of course, that is the counts in English. The Greek words behind them are "eutheos" (directly) and "parachrema" (instantly). My concordance has eutheous eighty times (although I have found bugs in it...). Sixty-seven are translated immediately or straightway. Of those, fifty are used in the synoptics. Thirty-four of the fifty are used in Mark (Matthew thirteen, Luke three).

Of course, Mark is also shorter than Matthew or Luke. This increased word density gives the Gospel of Mark a rapid flow of events in Jesus' life, although Jesus is always sure of His purpose and goals.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Mouthful of Ashes

The local church I attend is called Hope (not a particularly unique name, but a good one).

Jesus Christ is the only real hope in the world.

Let me expand:
1. The universe is running down (entropy). Eventually everything, everywhere will die. There is no hope in the (long term) future.

2. Humans are fallible, and will ultimately let you down, hurt you, forget you, etc.

3. Human government is made up of fallible humans, and will generally be worse than individuals. Uncaring, unjust, and blaming it all on the system.

4. We can't even rely on ourselves. Cobra Commander used to say, "Trust no one, not even yourself." (yes, I quoted Cobra Commander) But the fact is, you'll let yourself down. Can you cheer you up, when you are down? Can you bail you out when you run out of money?

I sometimes have to keep from laughing when debating atheists who assume the debate is symmetrical. That is, that I can convert them to Christianity, and they can convert me to atheism.

That I, having smelt the endless feast from God; would trade it for a mouthful of ashes.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Myth of Progress

Perhaps the greatest damage from Darwinism has been the widespread adoption of the myth of progress. That is, the idea that things are always getting better. For an excellent (non-religious) examination of this, read "Lies my Teacher Told Me".

This myth is generally understood in the form of an exponential curve:

This shows three different exponential curves, with slightly varying rates. Even a small change in the rate has huge effects over time. Curves like this have been made popular by the success of computer companies, like Intel. Many aspects of computer power (or at least transistors per die) are doubling every eighteen to twenty-four months.

Seeing these sorts of curves can cause one to discount the value of the past. And provides plenty of stress, worrying about the future (heat and power consumption, population).

Let's look at another curve:

This is a sigmoid (specifically, the inverse tangent). Just before the midpoint, it looks like an exponential curve. Living through it, it's impossible to tell if the curve is an exponential, or a sigmoid. The future outcomes are radically different (first world population has turned out to be more sigmoid, where exponential predictors forecast doom).

My point is, people make claims of progress through evolution:
1e9 Evolution of stars
1e8 Evolution of life
1e7 Evolution of mammals
1e6 Evolution of humans
1e5 Evolution of language
1e4 Evolution of culture
1e3 Evolution of civilization
1e2 Evolution of modern technology
1e1 Human lifespan

This is an exponential curve. Curves like this were the basis for belief in future utopias (in a few generations, humans will "evolve" into a better state).

Of course, any student of Santayana knows that the history of human nature looks more like this:

Of course, you could just read the Bible: "[there is] no new [thing] under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9c - Solomon about 3,000 years ago...).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Women Pastors

I've been involved in a small debate over at iMonk about women in church leadership. The question at hand is women leading churches, and Paul's prohibition thereof. I have given the relevant Scriptures.

Thinking about the discussion more, I wonder how much the opposing side is driven by the notion of "Pastor as CEO". That is, most every manager wants to be CEO, and city councilman wants to be mayor (or president of the USA). It is a sign of accomplishment, to oneself and the world. The fulfillment of one's career (which may be reasonable, or sinful/prideful).

This is where the passage in Matthew 20:25 comes in. A leader of the church is not a position of power to be envied. It is a position of great responsibility (see James 3:1). It is a position of total servitude (often the Greek word "slave" is translated "servant").

Forbidding women from leadership is not a "glass ceiling". It is the duty of men to serve others, and to protect women from the onerous burden of Christian leadership. To allow a woman to lead one's church is not "open minded", it is men slacking in their duty, a grave disservice to the woman, and dishonoring God.