Monday, September 29, 2008

Breaking News!

I'm a liberal!
asked 128 socially active churchgoers this question: What if there were no God?

Liberals, on the other hand, envision a world without God as barren, lifeless, devoid of color and reasons to live.

“Liberals see their faith as something that fills them up and, without it, they conjure up metaphors of emptiness, depletion and scarcity”
I don't know if "fear" and "conjure" are the right words (could you imagine more deprecating terms?). I'd say, "if there is no God, the world is empty, doomed to be lifeless, and devoid of reasons to live." That should be obvious. It logically follows.

Of course, they continue to misunderstand "religion":
'liberals worry about a world without deep feelings and intense experiences"
True Biblical faith is not about feelings and experiences. I'm going to keep saying that...

I'm not sure who the conservatives were that they found, probably post-mils (apologies to my post-mil brothers... although, quit it!)
"Political conservatives envision a world without God in which baser human impulses go unchecked, social institutions (marriage, government, family) fall apart and chaos ensues"
That's not a world without God, that's the world! Right now! A world that has rejected God, yes, but that is our natural state... Maybe our rebellion was a little more muted in the past, maybe. But, in some ways, I prefer our rebellion out in the open. False Christians are the hardest people to reach...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Movie Command

(Normally I like to preserve the arrow of time on this blog, I queue up posts one day at a time, and often release them in batches, as I am able to re-read and edit them... But this cannot wait!)

Go and see Fireproof! Right now! Do not wait! Go now! Invite your unsaved friends! If you are an atheist, go!

You'll laugh, you'll cry. You'll get a two-hour blast of God's love and the Gospel.

We now return to our regular programming...

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Twelve is the number of foundation.

Jacob had twelve sons. These sons became the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. The foundation of God's chosen nation.

Jesus chose twelve apostles. This reflects back on the twelve tribes, but these apostles are the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20).

Monday, September 22, 2008

Book Review

"Why God Won't Go Away" (Andrew Newberg, Eugene D'Aquili, Vince Rause) - This book is an introduction to the functional divisions within the brain. When the authors stick to that domain, it is really very good. The problem comes when they drift into theology, and theorizing how religious beliefs began.

I'll take a few points in order as they appear:
Page 96 (also 115):
"The power of ritual lies in its ability to provide believers with experiential evidence that seems to 'prove' that the guarantees made in myth and scripture are true."
This is part of a discussion on the changes in the brain made by repetitive and rhythmic activities.

Actually, this is a good argument against these sorts of activities... They shut off the thinking portion of the brain.

Solid theology cannot rely on feelings, it must be based in logic and consideration of truth received from God (the Bible). How often do these activities produce clear thinking on doctrine? Never that I know of. How often do these activities produce heresies of all sorts? Almost all the time (the rest are harmless).

Why rationalism failed to destroy religion - page 129:
"We believe, in fact, that the remarkable tenacity of religion is rooted in something deeper, simpler, and healthier than weak-minded denial or sheer psychological dependence."
I appreciate the attempt, but this feels like a back-handed compliment. "You're not holding to a useless, hopeless delusion because you're weak-minded; you just can't help being weak-minded". Thanks, but no thanks.

They also talk about the health benefits of religious activity. But again, the issue is truth (assuming you haven't rejected the notion of truth). No lie is worth believing, regardless of the benefits. It's really an application of "two wrongs don't make a right" (which is not in the Bible...).

Sadly, they close with a move from bad theology to outright heresy: page 159:
"God is by his nature unknowable. He is not an objective fact, or an actual being"
If we start from the assumption that we can know God (or anything, really) from a foundation of ourselves as judge of truth, we will come to the conclusion of (effective) atheism.

This is actually a good result. We can be confident there is no truth to be found in mysticism, mindless meditation, or repetitive/hypnotic rituals.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Tricks of Satan

In the last entry, I started on the theme of "twisting Scripture" (in that case, I stressed the importance of word-for-word exegesis).

Probably the most powerful case of this is in the temptation of Jesus in the desert. There are accounts of this in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13. Luke uses a different order for the last two events, not sure why. Matthew has a subset of the portion corresponding to Psalm 91:11, I will use Luke for completeness.

The first challenge is (Matthew 4:3, c.f. Luke 4:3):
"And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."
This seems a simple one, putting physical needs before spiritual needs (the need to do God's will).

The second challenge is the one I wish to focus on (Matthew 4:6, c.f. Luke 4:10-11):
"And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."
Here we can see Satan quoting from Psalm 91:11-12. The original Psalm is in Hebrew, while the New Testament is in Greek, so an exact comparison is difficult. However, the NT writers often quote the LXX, which is Greek.

Psalm 91:11 (LXX):
ὅτι τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ τοῦ διαφυλάξαι σε ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς σου·
(verse 12 matches Luke 4:11 [after the first two words], and Matthew 4:6c)

Luke 4:10 (and first two words of 4:11):
οτι τοις αγγελοις αυτου εντελειται περι σου του διαφυλαξαι σε και οτι
while Matthew 4:6b is:
οτι τοις αγγελοις αυτου εντελειται περι σου και
The change is at the end:
ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς σου· ("in all your ways")
σε και οτι ("you and that")
The original Psalm is saying "Because angels themselves are commanded to protect you in all of your ways". Satan has left off the portion "in all your ways". We should remember that we are told to make God's Way our way. Clearly, Satan didn't want any part of that...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I'm not sure what is up with ten.

First, most human cultures use "base 10", counting groups of ten, tens of tens, etc. So, "ten fold" becomes a measure of estimation (a small group - 10, a big group - 100, etc.).

Then we have the Ten Commandments. Maybe it's a 7+3 thing (the ultimate, complete law of God). There are also ten horns on Daniel's fourth beast (horns are the symbol of power, particularly, worldly power; there are also ten horn references in the Revelation to John).

Friday, September 5, 2008

Comparative Theology

I came across an interesting article.

They make an interesting statement:
"The study found that white and African-American adolescents generally had fewer symptoms of depressive at high levels of religious participation. But for some Latino and Asian-American adolescents, attending church more often was actually affecting their mood in a negative way."
The article uses "religious participation" and "church [attendance]" interchangeably, and the religion (Christian by denomination, Jewish, Muslim, Wicca, etc.) is not specified.

Based on the quotes from Richard Petts, I assume the authors are atheists; so I don't expect them to understand the notion of true and false religion, doctrine, etc.

As an extreme example, if "religious participation" included human sacrifice, it's understandable that the participants might be prone to depression... Of course, the notion that participation in true religion (rather than hopeless, false religion) would divide into ethnic groups is just silly.

But I am not trying to analyze this study point-by-point. I am looking for a more general trend among atheist scholars. And that trend is, "religion is a boolean - you have religion or not, and they are all interchangeable" and "we must examine religions based on the results provided to their adherents". The first is supported by my first part. For the second:
"The study shows that we need to consider the broader social aspects of institutions such as religion on an individual’s well being, both good and bad."
For the atheist, religion is a social structure to be considered and chosen based on the effects (or rejected outright). The notion of true or false is ignored (or often, assumed false).