Thursday, November 30, 2006

I need to clarify something to avoid misunderstanding. I have been walking through the process that brought me to accepting Christianity as truth. Specifically, that God took the initiative to reconcile mankind to Himself through the death of Jesus Christ in payment for our sins. Anyone following the sidebar discussions going in the comments string can see I am not big on the Naturalistic world view and I have stated I am not trying to talk anyone out of that view. That is not to say I don't care about what people believe because I do.

Dustin, I have not read your last comment posted, but Jeanette (the Fair One) gave me a general idea of what is there. I am deeply concerned about your position on the existence of God. Your views on evolution are another matter. We don't know each other, but I enjoy your interaction with me on this blog. Friendship would best describe my feelings. Odd, I don't believe we have ever met though we know some of the same people and I really believe I think of you as a friend. Forgive me that liberty.

I was just short of my 20th birthday when I embraced Christianity. I was in the Navy at the time. I will go into more detail on that in my next post. What happen after that is what is on my mind tonight. I had never really looked at the Gospel of Jesus Christ until that day. It really ruined a well planned weekend liberty, because I spent the time studying what I had been told about Christ. Anyway, I decided Christianity was true and was determined to learn as much as I could as quickly as I could about it. As soon as I was released from active duty I enrolled in a Bible College with a major in Biblical Studies. I supplemented my studies there with courses in the state university.

Dustin, I will admit I was not the favorite of my philosophy professor nor all of my theology professors either. We may share this one thing in common, I tend to challenge conventions.
The aim was to learn. This world is a big puzzle planted in the middle of a mystery we call the universe. I want to continue to explore both the creation and the God who created it. I would like to continue to do that with your help.

Dustin, if I have offended you in any way or given you reason to believe I do not care about you then I have committed a great wrong and ask for your forgiveness.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A person who does not believe something is true will never see the evidence of that something's existence. Believing is the first step in discovery even if the belief is only in the possibility. The person who rules out all possibility for God's existence will likely never see Him. However, belief is not discovery. What we believe only matters if it agrees with reality. What we call faith has no benefit in and of itself. It is the object of our faith that supplies the value.

I have confidence (faith) in my personal Doctor and went to see him today. He wrote a prescription which my pharmacist, a lady I have confidence in, filled. I am following my doctor's instructions and expect to get well. Now, what if I repeat this and substitude a terrorist who wants me dead for my doctor? Will my confidence be rewarded with a cure?

As a teenager I decided that God's existence was a real possibility. Not sure I remember what I did with that decision other than to be open to discussion on the subject. There were a few ideas that I did formulate about what God would be like if I encountered Him. Creative was one thought. No matter the process by which it has come to be, the universe is complex beyond what we can imagine. The mind which conceived it would also be off the scale in everyway.

My experience was that creative minds are restless and always tinkering with their creative works. Permit one anecdote. I once commissioned an artist friend to do a portait of Jeanette and me, but she would not admit is was completed to her satisfaction even though I loved it. True story, I had to tell her when it was done.

The idea that God would create and not stay involved at some level is inconsistent with what I have observed in creative people so I was open to suggestion that God does interact with the universe. This is not proof of anything, because God could have in fact started everything and then moved on to other matters. I am only telling you why I was open to the suggestion that God has interacted with the universe in history. Admitting the possibility is the first step to discovering if anything is there.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

This string on evolution is going on longer than I intended, but I do feel the need to post a few more points.

Religious people are often rightly accused of taking positions on God and morality without first validating the foundation from which they claim to draw authority. They have not cornered the market on this approach. Many in the naturalist camp do the same, discounting the possibility of a supernatural realm or framing the conditions of debate in such a way as to eliminate the same. This is not intellectually honest. That applies to both camps.

Evolution is a term that applies to a wide range of theories as well as some established and observable realities. Belief in God and the religions people build around that belief also run a wide range of systems. Evolution in the macro sense has never been observed. People still accept it as truth because they believe they see evidence of it having occurred. Evidence of God has not been observed in my life time, but I accept His existence because I accept the evidence that He has interacted with His creation in the past.

I liken it to the dark matter issue. The physicist believes dark matter exists because it needs to be there for the universe to work. He has never seen it nor measured it's presence, but he looks because he has faith in his calculations. I accept the possibility of God so I look for evidence of His presence. Guess what?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I want to bring the comment string from my last post onto the main page. We like to believe that evidence speaks for itself, however that is not true. It is the philosophical platform from which we view the evidence that drives most of our conclusions. I don't have the exact quote before me, but Sir Francis Crick was the one who said (this is a paraphrase) that the appearance of design is so prevailant in nature the scientist must continually remind himself that it is not designed. If I find the time I will look up the exact wording.

In my last post I stated the universe owes it's existence to something other than itself. That is what the evidence points to and is the reason many in the scientific community did not accept the big bang theory when it was first posited. Even now Steven Hawking is trying to find a way around it because (by his own admission) he wants to find a way for the universe to come about without God.

The evidence seldom speaks for itself. Richard Dawkins wrote the Blind Watchmaker back in the mid-eigthies in which he makes the bold claim; "We wanted to know why we and all other complicated things, exist. And we can now answer that question in general terms, even without being able to comprehend the details of the complexity itself." That is a statement of faith not evidence. The book is an interesting read, but fails to deliver on the promise of explaining why we exist. The one thing Dawkins makes clear is that he finds any reference to God being involved in reality as unsatisfactory; his words not mine.

OK, these examples (with the exception of Crick) are more recent than my decision to embrace Christianity, but they partially illustrate a point. We tend to handle facts subjectively based on our vantage point. That is why during my R&D days we had a review process for experimental design conducted by a third party. We had too much riding on the outcome to trust the lead scientist or engineer's sole judgment on whatever study was being undertaken.

In my last post I presented factual, read that observable, evidence that the universe exists because of some cause outside of itself. We have no way of discovering the cause using the laws of physics. Why, because the laws of physics apply to the physical world that did not exist before the beginning. (OK, that almost does not make sense - before the beginning - wrapping your mind around that one is like counting sheep, snoozer time)

My skeptism was born of that inability to explain our origin. Dawkins limits himself by stating(Blind Watchmaker page 15); "The kind of explanation we come up with must not contradict the laws of physics. Indeed it will make use of the laws of physics and nothing more than the laws of physics." That is a philosophical position.

Enough of that stuff. My point is this. Rejecting the supernatural is not a rational position and cannot be claimed to be supported by evidence. Neither can we just state there is a supernatural realm without evidence. The question is what constitutes evidence?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Growing up in the US and attending public schools, my culture and education were built around an assumption of naturalism being true. As I got older I grew sketical. I saw a tendency to brush past the origin question. That seemed to me to be the priority question to answer. Dr. Sagan may have asserted the universe is all there is, all that has been and all that will be, but he knew this was not true even as he said it. That is why he later made an effort to explain how everything got started.

Here are some observations that anyone can make. The universe is moving towards disorder; it is not self sustaining. The universe had a beginning; it is not eternal. There are physical laws that govern the operation of 4 dimensional space, but these laws did not exist before there was space. These observations suggest the universe owes it's existence to something other than itself.

Can something or someone exist outside of 4 dimensional space? That was the question to answer for me. The idea of an eternal God started to sound at least logical. The other options boil down to some variety or other of an infinite regression . So, I found a theistic world view was acceptable, but as yet unproven.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What was next? I don't believe I ever gave much thougth to the agnostic view. Mainly, because from my perspective it was essentially the same as practical atheism. There is not a great distance between believing there is no god and believing you cannot know god. If you cannot know him, then he might as well not be there.

The poly-theistic world view was more appealing, but created problems of a different sort. There are no truly supreme beings in these systems. There are greater and lesser figures all of which stop short of being actually transcendent. They are a part of the creation not separate from it.

I can not escape the idea that a creator must be separate from the creation. Another way of saying that is the God is inifinite, beyond space and time. There can only be one inifinite being. As I admitted, I found myself biased towards believing there is a God. Poly-theism posits many gods all of which have boundaries. That is they are not infinite. If finite they are a part of, even one with the universe.

It is apparent that makes sense to some, but not to me. Actually, that makes sense to many in the world. I just could not go along with the crowd. So, I rejected poly-theism.

You guessed it, the Fair One did not proof this one either.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The quest for something to believe in, something that would make sense of life was for me a hit and miss thing. A bit of history for you. I grew up the son of a career Navy man. That meant I spent the majority of my life near the ocean. That is significant only in it was the time I spent alone on the beach watching nature at work that I would contemplate the "meaning of it all."

Early on, I decided atheism was not the way to go. Mainly because it required a blind faith and I lean more towards the Mr. Spock type of personality. Theoretical atheism requires you believe something you cannot know, that there is no God. That is not rational. While you may argue from reason for the position there comes a point where reason must be set aside and blind faith applied. I found I could not do that.

Practical atheism, the term I use for believing there is little evidence that God exists, is a more benign form of the theoretical. The weakness there is the apparent evidence there is a god. It is the intelligent design problem. There is an even chance the universe is backed by an intelligence One can still present reasonable arguments for the practical atheism, but at some point must accept the premise on faith. I still see that as too big a leap to bet my life on.

Even at an early age I found order in nature that suggested more than chance was involved. The evidence for the universe to have had a beginning, meaning it is not eternal, is over whelming. If the space time continuum (I love that term) has a beginning point then those who wish to deny a supernatural being have a huge problem. I know there is much work to come up with an answer that leaves God out of it, but I have heard at least one theorist admit that search is born more of preference than evidence.

Anyway, that is my personal findings on atheism in a nut shell. The Fair One is not here to proof read this so if there at typos, please be kind.

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