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A Courageous Voice From Inside Islam

11 Jan

A Courageous Voice From Inside Islam.

This is refreshing, and somewhat encouraging.  The Egyptian president jacking up the Egyptian religious leaders.

On Evil

19 Mar

“Know what is evil, however much worshipped it may be.  Let the man of intelligence not fail to recognize it, . . . because it cannot . . . hide its core;  slavery does not lose its infamy, however noble the master.”

— Baltasar Graciàn, Spanish Jesuit (1601-1658)

Not a new thought — rather, a timeless one, as demonstrated by this 400-year-old proverb.  Very similar instruction found in the Bible.  Be vigilant in identifying evil for what it is.

More Thoughts on Atheism vs Christianity

16 Jan

I find my thoughts once again going to the debate about atheism, deism (a god, but uninvolved with his creation), theism (an involved god), and Christianity, as we see more attempts to suppress a) public displays of Christian symbols, and b) public expression of Christian beliefs.

[My first post offering thoughts on these murky waters was on 1/4.]

Over the centuries, and even in today’s society, we have had many great thinkers put forth cogent arguments for the existence of God and the correctness of Christianity.  They include well-known philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, and theologians, as well as many “regular Joes”.

I rather like the relatively modern argument that if you are an atheist, you must believe (if you believe the “Big Bang” theory) . . .

1) that the “Big Bang” accidentally produced all the dozens of necessary physical laws and constants (to multiple decimal places) to have accidentally created the perfect synergy of forces that resulted in the eventual formation of life on a little orb we call Earth (yes, and maybe some other orbs out there), and even intelligent life (now in decline, of course) – the odds of all of this being infinitely small;  OR

2) that there were an infinite number of “Big Bangs”, and one of them did, by chance, wind up with all the right laws and constants — an alternative that is really hard to wrap our minds around, but is under discussion in some quarters;   OR

3) that all of these perfect laws and constants predated the “Big Bang”, which then leads us to . . . what??

Whether a deist, theist, or an atheist, logically we wind up at the question of TRUE beginnings (i.e., Where did God come from? or Where did the “Big Bang” physical matter come from?), and none of the basic three beliefs (deism, theism, atheism) solves this question.

So – to me —  if we ignore the unfathomable questions of beginnings of beginnings, it seems to me that, in thinking about physical beginnings as we know them, the theory of “Intelligent Design” sounds every bit as reasonable as a theory of “accidental occurrence”.

Of course, the “Intelligent Design” theory says nothing about whether there might be one designer (god) or a group of designers (gods), and whether designers/god(s) take any interest in this intricate, marvelous creation.  But at least after thinking about “Intelligent Design”, it seems to me that arriving at a preference for theism rather than deism is a rather small hurdle, for reasons I might get motivated to put into print one day (although many who are much smarter than I have already done so).

But if a person gets to a place where (s)he accepts theism as not only a reasonable hypothesis, but an accepted likelihood (as far as faith allows), there still remains a considerable hurdle in the jump from theism to Christianity.  Acceptance of a one-god view of the universe is a pretty decent first step, though.  And the truly curious will then go on to explore the options within that view.

Speaking as a Christian, I think this would not be such a great hurdle for the questioning masses if more Christians had been able to live up to the standard that the Christ set for us.  Unfortunately, seeking to live up to that standard is not only the most rewarding quest a human can undertake, but it is the most difficult quest to sustain, as we find in evidence all around us, within us, and throughout history.  Any arguments for Christianity must at least reconcile inconsistencies between the historical, current day, and internal motivations and actions of “Christians” with the direction and promises from the New Testament.  Sounds like another fun topic for another day . . . .

I wonder, though, if, in order to find “real” Christianity throughout history, we need to look more closely at the sidebars of history rather than its main events.  Main events are often led or inspired by corrupted leaders, with (again, often) horrible results.  If we simply look at the big events, we are, indeed, tempted to say that applied Christianity can be a hellish religion.  But if we push aside the ugly weeds and look into the sidebars of history, and at the millions upon millions of “lesser” people who have preserved and spread the central theology of Christianity, and add those observations to the big events that have been Christ-driven, maybe we begin to understand the power of true Christianity a bit better.

More Wise Words from Our Founding Fathers

3 Jul

Below are some excellent thoughts from our founding fathers regarding the role of God in retaining the nation’s freedom and blessings.  These quotes were included in a blog piece by Mark Alexander, titled “Liberty – Endowed by Whom?  The Eternal Bequest”.  The entire column can be found at

http://papundits.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/liberty-endowed-by-whom-the-eternal-bequest/

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good Citizens and soldiers we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of Religion. To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian.” –George Washington

“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.” –John Adams

“May every citizen … have a proper sense of the Deity upon his mind and an impression of the declaration recorded in the Bible, ‘Him that honoreth Me I will honor, but he that despiseth Me shall be lightly esteemed.’” –Samuel Adams

“This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins.” –Benjamin Franklin

“The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it.” –James Madison

“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among parchments and musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” –Alexander Hamilton

“But where says some is the king of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. … [L]et it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.” –Thomas Paine in Common Sense

 

Beautifully said – by all.

Republicans Overreaching? I’ll Tell You What’s Overreaching!

23 May

The Democrats have taken to using the term “overreaching” to describe the Republicans’ efforts to get to the bottom of the IRS, AP, and Benghazi situations.  What I think is that someone needs to throw the following list loudly and repeatedly into their faces.

To my way of seeing things:

Overreaching is when the IRS, motivated by Administration-driven partisanship and rhetoric, targets conservative groups for “special” attention.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when a public employee (e.g., Ms. Lerner of the IRS) proclaims her complete and utter innocence in the matter of IRS targeting of conservative groups and then arrogantly thumbs her nose at a duly constituted congressional probe and proclaims she will answer no questions, taking the 5th instead.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

On the other hand, overreaching is when congressional committees demand higher ethical behavior (e.g., truth) from witnesses that appear before them than these congressmen demand of themselves.

Overreaching is when a huge health care bill that affects every American is rammed down the throats of Americans, who opposed the bill in majority;  a bill that the congressmen never even got a chance to read and digest  – now seen to cost Americans billions, if not trillions, of dollars, while not even achieving its coverage promises.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration decrees that all birth control (including morning-after pills) must be provided free of charge in all employer insurance plans, thus both formalizing an infringement on freedom of religion and the government’s approval of removal of all constraints on casual sex and personal responsibility.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when there are lies about Benghazi concocted and promulgated for weeks after the terrorist event has occurred, in order to prevent damage to a presidential campaign.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration targets phone records of journalists to serve its own nefarious purposes.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when government starts telling us what size drinks we can buy in the marketplace.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United States presumes to tell Americans that the market system is “unfair”, when he has little or no experience in the market system — and the American market system has been the greatest engine of general prosperity ever seen on earth.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United States inflicts unnecessary “pain” on Americans in the name of sequestration, when sequestration does not actually reduce spending by the federal government, and can be implemented with little actual “pain” and inconvenience.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the federal government imposes national education standards that actually lower the standards in some states that have implemented their own high standards, and now must reduce those standards to qualify for federal funds.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration decrees that free speech can be limited on college and university campuses, and that lives can be destroyed based upon a simple charge of sexual harassment or misconduct without proof being necessary – the assumption of guilty until proven innocent.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when a gun control bill is slammed together in the aftermath of a tragic shooting event, simply for political show, when the particular bill would have done nothing to prevent this tragedy.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration throws billions of taxpayer dollars at financially and logically unsound “green” energy companies, companies often with strong Obama supporters as investors or board members, only to see that taxpayer money go down the drain in bankruptcies.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the federal government engineers auto manufacturers’ bankruptcies, entering into financial business partnerships at the cost of the taxpayers in order that supportive unions won’t suffer too much, instead of letting the normal bankruptcy-and-re-emergent process take care of the problem.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the federal government makes it more economically advantageous for the unambitious among us to be on the taxpayer dole than to be a part of the work force.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United States stays in constant campaign mode for over 5 years (and counting – with associated costs being charged to the taxpayers who are having to tighten their own belts – millions upon millions of dollars.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United States makes a college graduation speech in which he re-emphasizes the mindset and continuation of victimhood in the United States.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United States weighs in on white-on-black crime in America (e.g., the Trayvon Martin case), when it is a fact that black-on-black crime is a far, FAR more serious problem than either of the other two combinations.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration’s Justice Department overlooks direct violation of polling place neutrality by failing to seriously investigate those in the New Black Panther Party who adopted on-site intimidation methods.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when a Democrat-controlled Senate fails to obey the law and pass an annual budget – for three years running.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration not only selectively fails to enforce federal immigration laws, but prevents states from then passing and enforcing their own.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the federal government puts together an “immigration reform” bill that is loaded with “overreaching” garbage, for example the fixing of wages of immigrant workers, and special consideration for foreign ski instructors (both of which are found among dozens of other “overreaching” provisions in the new immigration reform bill.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when politicians blame any specific administration, party, or market segment for The Great Recession when they know that it was loose government policies and failure to execute to existing regulations that caused the major problems.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the government tries to cover up its own contributions to The Great Recession by blaming market forces and piling on new [mostly unneeded] regulations for business, thus significantly slowing down the economic recovery.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United Sates repeatedly lies to the American public about the intentions and beliefs of his political opponents.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

You can feel free to suggest your own examples of overreaching.  But in my opinion, these are the overreaches, NOT a committee’s attempts to investigate them.  Where there is true innocence, there is truly nothing to fear.

C S Lewis on Humanitarians in Power

8 Feb

Some 60-70 years ago, in an essay titled, “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment”, C. S. Lewis, Christian apologist extraordinaire, wrote a passage that appears considerably more relevant today than in his own time.  Lewis wrote:

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.  It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.  The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.  They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth.  Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult.  To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and to be cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.  But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we ‘ought to have known better’, is to be treated as a human person made in God’s image.”

I believe this can rest without my further comment.

Thoughts on the Deniers of Christianity

7 Feb

It is hard to visit sites that feature religious commentary without running into comments from the deniers of the faith – those who would claim that science has overcome religion, and that religionists are a dying relic, ignorant believers in ridiculous myths.

It seems to me, though, that their argument fails on fairly basic grounds.

I daresay that at one time or another, all of that which is now called science was unproven (in the rigorous sense).  Mankind’s understanding of the world was based upon experience, repeatability, and theory.  Men made use of scientific principles over many millennia before they were proven in a rigorous manner – we based our use upon evidence accumulated over time.  Would our complainants argue that gravity could not be relied upon just because we could not see it or mathematically prove its existence?  Without accepting observational evidence that all planets in our solar system revolve around the sun, would we ever have developed rigorous mathematical models that prove exactly how the planets and other heavenly bodies move through space?  Recently, scientists reportedly found proof that the Higgs-Boson particle actually exists – before this it was only a “theoretical” particle.  And how about the Big Bang Theory itself – how would one ever prove that the entire universe sprang from an unimaginably huge explosion of a very small densely packed object that contained all the matter that is currently contained in that virtually limitless universe?

A person could go on and on about things that were believed/known before the scientists were able to absolutely prove them, from fields of medicine, mechanics, physics, etc.  The noted atheist and crusader against Christianity, Richard Dawkins, even admitted that “something pretty mysterious had to give rise to the origin of the universe.”  Thomas Aquinas would say that this something “we call God”.

And yet, when it comes to postulating the existence of God, the deniers among us are quick to say that we must be fools for believing some crazy theology that has not been proven by science to be true.  But there are many mysteries in this world that have not, as yet, been solved by the scientists – wormholes, extra-terrestrial life, evolution of life at the deepest parts of the ocean, how weather patterns evolve, etc.  That does not mean that these things cannot, or do not, exist.

It seems to me that what deniers of Christianity do not understand is that Christians do not base their faith in God on vapor – on nothing but dreams, unwarranted hope, and fear of death.  Our faith, according to that most famous of Biblical passages, is based on “substance” and “evidence”.

Now, I know that modern translations most often swap out the word “evidence” for something softer in tone, but harder to acquire.  But I really like the word “evidence”.  Why?  Because, I believe the faith of Christians is, in fact, based upon convincing evidence.  The evidence bound up in the New Testament teachings, actions, personal witnesses, promises, spiritual gifts, and personal commitments, even unto death.  The evidence bound up in the experiences and lives of so many Christians through the growth years – a time of great spiritual blessings and horrible persecutions.

Then there is the evidence and testimony of some of the greatest minds to have walked the earth – Augustine, Aquinas, thousands of brilliant unnamed soldiers of Christ, up to our own time with people like John Bunyan, C.S. Lewis, and many others.  And I believe that a Christian does not have to believe unthinkingly, but can call upon the promises of scripture to acquire those proofs that are meaningful to him/her.  John Bunyan, perhaps best known for his “Pilgrim’s Progress” allegory, was at one time torn apart by his uncertainty about Christianity.  “Everyone doth think his own religion rightest, both Jews and Moors and pagans; and how if all our Faith and Christ and Scriptures should be but a ‘think so’, too?”  But as William Barclay tells it, “when the light broke, he [Bunyan] ran out crying, ‘Now I know!  I know!’”

John Bunyan had received his evidence.  For some, it is the evidence of repeated or extraordinary coincidence, a pushing and pulling, often against our will.  For others, it is the deep burning in the depths of our heart and soul as the Holy Spirit welcomes us aboard.  Many are granted various types of spiritual inspiration or convincing answers to prayer.  Still others, those with perhaps easier hearts to reach, see the evidence in the gaze of a baby, the wonder of beauty in nature, or a thousand other things.  I, myself, was “kicking against the pricks” for years before I was led into a greater light.

The point is, belief in Christianity is based upon real evidence, mostly unseen, but nevertheless convincing – not provable to non-believers (without the intervention of the Holy Spirit), but powerful enough for building a solid Faith within those whose hearts and minds who are open to the accumulation of “soft” evidence.  To say we should not accept non-scientific evidence is simply to deny that man has forever relied upon non-proven evidence to extend his knowledge and actions to the next higher level.

But what sort of omnipotent, but loving, God would maintain the veil between Himself and mankind?  Consider for a moment what would happen if suddenly mankind did find, or receive, absolute proof of the existence of God.  Would there not be chaos?  Would not the purposes of God be immediately thwarted?  Does He not have purpose for us being here, purpose that depends upon mankind’s struggle between Godliness and evil?  If He were to make Himself known to all of mankind (as He will one day – but too late then), the entire world order would collapse, as every decent man and woman would leave all behind and only seek Him, and every lost soul would redouble their evil intentions, knowing that there is no hope.

No – irrefutable proof will come, but it will only come as the final stroke of midnight is sounding and, in all likelihood, will be the last and greatest of all the absolute proofs presented to mankind.