Where Does This Ocean Go?

There is a reason I haven’t written in the past few months and its not the normal excuse of “I was busy.” The reason I didn’t write anything since February is because I have been spending that time thinking. You may, or may not, remember an article I linked to on here about a show I watched entitled “The Twelve Kingdoms.” Having just read the Code of the Samurai, a book that contained the code by which the warrior class of Japan lived for nearly four centuries, the show invigorated a sense of obligation in me to find out what life was really all about. I had my wanting to understand our purpose in the universe, if any, see what made us us, and what we could do to change it, if at all.

As such, I would like to think I began a small excursion towards “enlightenment” (or really it was more me deciding to stop acting like a jackass and find something more meaningful in my life). Part of this excursion was what has turned out to be a possible end to the logical progression that started several years ago.

As I have explained before, I think that logic is the best way to find truth in anything. You start with something monumental like “Jesus is lord” and break it down into its constituent parts. For this case you would start asking “What is lord?” and “Was Jesus a real person?”. Continuing the example, the latter branch breaks down further into “Was Jesus who he claimed?”, “How do we know?”, “Where the gospels accurate?”, “Why should we believe them?” and so on.

This logical journey started probably eight or so years ago when an event in my life shattered a fairly picturesque view of God and life in general. The details are not important, but what is important is that I lost my faith once almost entirely except for a tiny piece in me that wanted to hold on to a belief in a God. Subjective and insubstantial now that I look back on it, but really, thats all that there was. Since then I have been picking apart not only Christianity, but also the fundamental building blocks of most major religions: spirituality, morality, societal mores, an afterlife, etc.

The purpose ultimately was two-fold. One, I wanted to prove to myself that I was not just blindly following the supposed words of a prophet from two millennia ago whose existence may not even be real. And Two, I wanted to discover the true joy in finding God and maybe share it with others. The first part of this, to me anyway, was essential to the second. Proving God’s existence through logical argument should be possible if God exists as described within the Bible. To quote Galileo, “I do not believe that a God that gave use logic and reason would mean for us to forego their use.” What was essential to me was a picture built, not of stories and lose fitting feel-good messages, but a solid picture of something I could touch and explain.

The second part stems from the first. Over my few years of being on earth, I have discovered one thing: non-Christians who become christians tend to have a fuller and deeper faith then those who had grown up in the church. C.S. Lewis, Saint Augustine, Francis Schaffer, among others, all came from disbelieving backgrounds, sought out to disprove God and ended up finding him instead. Their journey netted them understanding, peace, and what I consider to be a more “real” relationship with God. As such, their writings spell out for the non-believer what our faith means and by extension can help those who would initially reject God outright gain a foothold in the path towards understanding. This is my main goal: to reach an understanding as best I can and then help share my spiritual journey with those who have spent their lives with the same scientific and philosophic backgrounds as myself and who categorically deny God. Maybe I can plant a seed of self-reflection.

But I digress. The end result seems to have netted some logical arguments that are at the root of the God question and other problems as well. I will cover these more in depth in future articles but I will share them with you here as well. If you would like to contribute your thoughts on these I seriously welcome any argument for or against. I currently believe these are indivisible, root arguments but I would like to be proven wrong ( I would hate to have the arrogance of saying “I found it!” when I’m only 23).

1) Q: Given that belief in God requires a certain leap in faith, how large of a leap must there be from total atheism to the start of a journey to God? (i.e.. To start becoming a christian, would you have to accept all of Jesus all at once, or is there something smaller that can be built upon?)

A: The smallest leap of faith required between atheism and the beginning of the belief in God is the belief that humans posses a soul, or something within them that is not material that without the body continues to be human.

2) Q: What is the fundamental difference between atheism and theism?

A: How a person from either persuasion views the concept of death and how they adjust their lives accordingly.

3) Q: Historical trends of relativism can, in part, explain a loosening of societal norms over the last half century and can be argued that they are contributing to a decay of social stability, but can something more concrete be at the root of these trends?

A: While it itself is a consequence of these trends, a fear or unwillingness to commit to anything philosophically solid (meaning it would force us to conform to something outside of ourselves) can be found at the root of nearly all growing social “ills”. (e.g.. divorce, sexual promiscuity, crime, etc)

These are the three big ones. I am sure there are others. I will probably be writing an article on each of these three and I would very much appreciate any and all feedback on them. If you have any insight you can comment here or send me an email at kami at falseblue.com.

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No.. I’m not dead

No, I’m not dead. Ive just been thinking alot and have not been able to form my thoughts into words yet. Ill try to write something in the next few days though.

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Something to Think About

Lately, I’ve been studying some Eastern philosophy; specifically the codes of honor from Japan. Here is something that everyone, regardless of creed, should probably read and take to heart.

From Code of the Samurai by Thomas Cleary

One who is supposed to be a warrior considers it his foremost concern to keep death in mind at all times, every day and every night, from the morning of New Year’s Day through the night of New Year’s Eve.

As long as you keep death in mind at all times, you will also fulfill the ways of loyalty and familial duty. You will also avoid myriad evils and calamities, you will be physically sound and healthy, and you will live a long life. What is more, your character will improve and your virtue will grow.

Here are the reasons for that. All human life is likened to evening dew and morning frost, considered something quire fragile and ephemeral. While this is so of all people’s lives, the life of the warrior is particularly precarious.

If people comfort their minds with the assumption that they will live a long time, something might happen, because they will think they will have forever to do their work and look after their parents—they may fail to perform for their employers and also treat their parents thoughtlessly.

But if you realize that the life that is here today is not certain on the morrow, then when you take your orders from your employer, and when you look in on your parents, you will have the sense that this may be the last time—so you cannot fail to become truly attentive to your employer and your parents. This is why I say you also fulfill the paths of loyalty and familial duty when you keep death in mind.

In any case, when you forget death and become inattentive, you are not circumspect about things. You may say something offensive to someone and get into an argument. You may challenge something you might as well have ignored, and get into a quarrel.

Or you may stroll about in resorts where you have no business, not avoiding the crowds, where you might bump into some oaf and get into an unexpected brawl. You could lose your own life, get your employer bad publicity, and cause your parents and siblings difficulties.

All this trouble comes from inattentiveness when you fail to keep death in mind at all times.

When you always keep death in mind, when you speak and when you reply to what others say, you understand the weight and significance of every word as a warrior by profession, so you do not engage in futile arguments. As a matter of course you do not go to dubious places even if people invite you, so there is no way for you to get into unexpected predicaments. This is why I say you will avoid myriad evils and calamities if you keep death in mind.

People of all social classes, high and low, constantly overeat, drink too much, and indulge in their desires to an unhealthy degree, all because of forgetting about death. This puts a strain on their internal organs, so they may die remarkably young, or else become sickly or invalid.

When you always keep death in mind, even if you are young and healthy, you already know how to take care of yourself. You moderate food and drink, avoid sexual addiction, and behave prudently. As a result, you are physically sound. because you are healthy, you will live a long time.

When you assume that your stay in this world will last, various wishes occur to you, and you become desirous. You want what others have, and cling to your own possessions, developing a mercantile mentality.

When you always keep death in mind, covetousness naturally weakens, and to that degree a grabby, greedy attitude logically does not occur. That is why I say your character improves.

Yet there is the question of how to keep death in mind.

To just keep sitting there all the time waiting for death twenty-four hours a day, like the monk Shinkai of whom Yoshida no Kenkou wrote in his Tsurezuregusa, might be appropriate for monk’s training, but it is not in accord with the aim of martial training. If you face death in that way, loyality and familial duty to your employer and parents will be neglected, and your professional warriorhood will wind up defective. That will never do.

The idea is to take care of your public and private duties day and night, and then whenever you have any free time when your mind is unoccupied, you think of death, bringing it to mind attentively. It is said that the great hero Kusunoki Masahige’s instructions to his son Msasyuki, he told him to “always get used to death.”

This is for the understanding of the neophyte knights.

From Code of the Samurai by Thomas Cleary (reproduced section is from the freely available chapter viewable on Amazon.com. Copyrights and so on belong to the Mr. Cleary)

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The other blog

Given as this is a religious article site, I didnt feel it prudent to have other musing i have on here. But over the weekend I had a deeply moving experience that I needed very much to share even though it had nothing to do religion. So I posted it on a free wordpress blog. I figure I’ll post there time to time and if it generates any interest I may move it on my own hosting. But for now it only has one article and I just have to share it.


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Weird Science

I know I said I would try and not write about science and theology much, but as hard as I tried I found myself in the presence of young earth creationists (YEC) again. I honestly thought that my walking away from most of the bridges in my life that led to the YECs would have gotten me away from them for a while, but I was wrong. I don’t want to sound mean or condescending in this article so Ill merely sketch out my view on YEC and end it before my frustration with them gets the better of me.

From early childhood most of us Christians are taught the familiar creation story in Sunday school, church service, and various other events. We are taught that in the first day God created the heavens and the earth. We are taught that by the end of the week, the earth as we know it came into being in its full glory. The flora and fauna we see today were present at the end of the creation week and that 168 hours before hand there was nothing.

As charming as this story is, most of us grow up and goto school and university to learn what science has to say about the matter of creation. Science has come to the conclusion that the universe came into being 13.7 billion years ago and that the earth and sun formed from galactic dust. Life then emerged on our planet and evolved into what we see today. It is when confronted with this knowledge that a certain, select group of individuals decide to hold their hands to their ears and scream loud enough so they cant hear what is being said. In their screams they yell that the earth is 6000 years old, that creation happened as stated in the bible, and that science is a godless, heathen thing to be distrusted with every fiber in your being.

These people are young earth creationists. In short, as their name suggests, they believe creation happened strictly as stated in the first chapter of Genesis and that the earth is incredibly young. YECs believe that creation took literally six 24 hour periods and at that point earth was fully formed with all life that is present today, present then.

The modern creationist movement was born during the restoration movement in the late 1700s when the protestant churches broke with anything that resembled Catholicism or the church of england (who had both been active in the sciences for the previous two hundred years) and instead turned to a strict, individual interpretation of the bible as an answer to all questions; Not just all theological questions, ALL questions. Since then, through the explosion of understanding in geology, astronomy, cosmology, physics, etc. the creationists have stuck to the same unerring belief: that the bible is infallible in all things and that creation happened in 6 days.

To keep up with scientific advancement, YECs have had to develop their own branch of theoretical arguments. As such, the first theory they developed was that science was the enemy of the church and of god. This is the backbone and solid foundation of their belief system. It states that science is out to draw people away from God and into a godless way of life. That God is not all powerful and that science is full of atheists wanting nothing more than to disprove god’s existence. The second theory of YEC is that the bible is the sole answer for scientific questions. they state that Genesis 1 is the only source for answers to the question of how the universe began and that anything that says otherwise is in direct contradiction to god. The third theory is that the earth is 6000 years old. This date is based on the work done by James Ussher in 1648 when he compiled all the genealogies in the bible to ascertain how long ago adam and eve were created.

Unfortunately, to put it bluntly, YECs are dead wrong and nearly all counts. Since numerous books, videos, and other media have been made to disprove YEC on multiple levels, I will not bore you with the ridiculous amount of arguing that it would take to debunk each and every one of the YEC tenants. Suffice to say that YEC is an idea that is, simply put, ignorant.

Science is indeed real. In fact, the modern day would not be possible without the efforts of the men who also discovered how the universe works. And more surprisingly, nearly every scientific discovery up until about 1880 was made by a Christian. Even the original theory of the big bang was proposed by a Catholic priest and was fought with fury by atheist physicists as too theological to be true.

The question of how old the earth was first arose with the advent of thermodynamics (the study of head) and the observation that the earth was cool, but volcanoes were not. in 1779 a french scientist created a small globe the made of the same composition as the earth and watched its rate of cooling. Based on this, he put the date at 75,000 years. The age of the earth was further brought into question with the discovery and extensive examination of fossils and rock strata. How were fossils made? Why were they in layers? These questions lead to basic geology and to uniformitarianism (the theory that the earth has been changing in a uniform way throughout its life). This view on the world was largely spawned by creationist views that the world is unchanging in any major way and has always been as it was. As such, men of science (mostly clergymen and Christians) set about looking at rates of erosion and came to the conclusion that it may be that the earth was older than Ussher had set the date at. The figure was about 100,000 years.

Was does this mean? This means that men of science independently trying to verify the bible’s literal meaning ended up verifying the opposite. And since science’s most basic tenant is to throw out information if proved otherwise, science decided to divorce itself from religion so as not to get tangled up in theological matters. Does this mean that science decided there was no God? NO! It merely discovered that God was a being and a force that could not be proven from studying the natural world. The question for science as to god’s existence was moot. It didn’t matter if he existed or not, their aim was to understand how nature around them worked.

God is real as well. Genesis was not a lie either. Genesis was never meant to be a science lesson. Remember, it was written by moses who more than likely was shown the creation by God himself. Now, Im guessing here but I don’t think that if God was going to show someone something it would last the complete set of billions of years. I doubt it would have lasted the full week either. What moses was shown, and what he wrote down, were probably the highlights of the creation process and laid out in a stage by stage process. The Hebrew word “yom” used in the Torah to say “the first day” is also translated as “era” or “generation”. The translation can then be subject to question. Even Genesis 2:4 says “These are the generations of creation…” (KJV). Thus the “day” can be opened up to the interpretation of “era”. God has no time limit as Paul stated, “A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.”

But even as this is just one argument out of many, why does it matter? Why should anyone care how old the earth is? Why should Christians and YECs be bound to one view over the other? The reasons are simple.

First, YEC confines God to being a “god of the gaps”. This means that they place God where ever science does not have an answer. Electricity was once just an “act of god”. So were various weather phenomena. As science discovered the workings of these gaps of knowledge God was pushed out of them. As such, YECs build these gaps of knowledge into pillars of faith that crumble when challenged by what rightfully fills the gaps. It also confines God to their personal interpretation of Genesis 1. There are many ways to read Genesis 1, especially with all the translations of the bible out there. Each YEC picks a version and then sticks with that one, confining God to 7 days. When challenged, a YEC will sometimes state “you limit God by saying that he couldn’t have done it all in 7 days!” They, however, are limiting God by saying that doing it in 7 days was the ONLY way he could.

Second, YEC makes the bible into something it is not. The bible was never meant to be a science book. It is a book of theology. Genesis 1 was put there to tell us only “God created everything” not to tell us how he did it. There is also only 1 chapter in the whole of the bible that deals with anything remotely near science. If God had wanted to tell us exactly how he created the world he would have given us math and details. He instead devoted the entire bible to understanding his nature and left the science to his curious creation for its own discovery.

Third, YEC forces a wedge between religion and science. It makes the two mortal enemies. Thus it says you must belong in one camp or the other and that by joining one means you must reject the other. Young Christians are being forced to take sides. As a result many young people are leaving the faith to pursue science when there is absolutely no need to do so. Religion and science have always gone hand in hand until 1880 when Darwin produced “on the origin of species”. Each scientific discovery was heralded as better understanding of how magnificent god’s creation was put together. Even Darwin’s theory was met with general “so thats how God did it” before the fireworks went off with the English church over the issue.

Forth, YEC makes Christianity look utterly ridiculous to outsiders and those on the doubting side of faith (yes, everyone doubts at some point). For such a large section of the Christian population to reject science so outrightly makes us all look foolish and untrustworthy. Jesus himself told us to go into all nations and make believers. Rejecting basic natural laws does not allow us to be taken seriously by anyone. Even for non-YEC Christians, like myself, this problem can hit personally. Talking to curious atheists about Christianity always brings up the subject of why to they have to reject science to join our faith. We are ridiculed by the press and intellectuals as backward, mentally challenged freaks because of the outspoken YEC community. And because of this, many who could find Jesus, wont.

YEC is not going to go away because of anything I say no matter how much I would love for it to. However, I feel that this discussion should not even be happening. It is a disgrace that I have to watch what I say about the age of the sun, or the creation of the moon, or how genetics work around YECs for fear of their pure hatred for science coming back to call me a heathen and believer of “silly theories with no evidence”. It is shameful for me to not be able to speak of my faith for fear of being told that believing in something that believes the earth is 6000 years old is tantamount to believing in something that holds “the moon is made of green cheese” as a chief tenant.

YEC has become a horrible disfigurement on the back of Christians everywhere. Unfortunately there’s little I can do about it. All I can do is write what I think in hopes that maybe, just maybe, a YEC will look at this page and begin questioning their belief. Rejecting YEC does not mean rejecting god, it only means rejecting a belief that men should forgo the gift God gave them of being curious.

I will leave you with this. From Saint Augustine’s 415 A.D. work, “The Literal Meaning of Genesis” chapter 19:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?

Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

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