Sunrise over Saint George

On vacation this week. Hope y’all enjoy yourselves. More to follow probably =)

September 11th, 2001

I’ll never forget hearing on the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center as my work day was starting. I’ll never forget turning on the television and watching the plume of smoke as it rose against the New York skyline. I’ll never forget my confusion. What happened? How could a plane fly into a building like that? Did the pilot pass out? Did the navigation equipment malfunction?

I’ll never forget watching the second plane smash into the other tower. I’ll never forget turning to my boss and friend, Ed McGee, and how we came to the fantastical realization that this was not accidental, but on purpose. I’ll never forget the anger I felt upon this realization.

I’ll never forget calling my wife that day. I’ll never forget telling her to pick our children up and take them home. I’ll never forget that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop and being powerless to do anything about it.

I’ll never forget the reports that continued to come in. A plane had struck the Pentagon. A plane was missing and assumed to have crashed in western Pennsylvania. I’ll never forget how I felt when we learned all flights had been grounded. How could someone do this to the United States of America?

I’ll never forget watching the buildings burn. I’ll never forget wondering how the people in the buildings were going to get out. I’ll never forget thinking about what the emergency responders were facing as they entered the buildings to save lives.

I’ll never forget the horror I felt as the first building collapsed. I’ll never forget the feeling of despair as I realized that all of those people trapped in the building and those responders trying to save them were almost certainly dead. I’ll never forget thinking the other building won’t be far behind. It wasn’t.

I’ll never forget the days that followed. The investigation, the pictures of people leaping to their death to avoid being burned alive. The shock of it all and the anger. The realization that there really is evil in the world, and the realization of what evil men were capable of when not restrained.

I’ll never forget the contrasting tales of heroism that day. I’ll never forget my admiration for those fallen responders who rushed into the breach, disregarding their own safety in their desire to help others. I’ll never forget learning about how the passengers of the flight over Philadelphia attempted to retake the plane and ultimately crashed it, instead of letting it be used as a weapon like the other three were. I’ll never forget contemplating the vast and clearly marked divide between evil and good.

September eleventh, two thousand one. Never. Ever. Forget.

Cross Roads of Faith: Quick Quotes 9/9/14 – The Atheists’ Creed

Every now and then I run across an article with information I think is relevant to the purposes of this blog, but that I am not prepared (or maybe not inclined) to write a full blown article on the subject. So, I have decided to do a “Quick Quotes” post on some of these articles, in order to highlight information for interested parties, and to help myself keep track of possible ideas for future articles.

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Some quotes are more informative than others…

The Atheists’ Creed

(AKA Humanist creed, revised from the Apostle’s Creed)

I don’t believe in God, an imaginary father with almighty power.

I don’t believe in heaven; I do believe in earth.

I believe that a man called Jesus of Nazareth lived in Palestine at the beginning of the Common Era,

That he was conceived in the way of all human beings, that he was born of a woman called Mary, that he had a following large enough to trouble the authorities of his day, that it’s very difficult to separate what he actually said and did from what people would later say he said and did, that odds are good that he was a more than decent man.

I believe that this Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate; that he was crucified, died and was buried, that there were no souls in hell waiting for him to set them free, that his death was in no way redemptive, that crucifixion has to be hell enough for any person.

I believe that when Jesus died, he remained dead. He did not ascend into an imaginary heaven, nor does he sit at the right or left hand of God, an imaginary father.

I do not believe that Jesus judges human beings. It seems to me that far too much judging goes on in his name, and that most of us try to do the best we can with the lives we’ve been given and that all of us fall short of the unreachable ideals we sometimes set for ourselves, that we ought to be kinder to ourselves.

I do not believe in ghosts, holy or otherwise.

I believe that the church is a human institution that still has much to learn about the humane exercise of power and authority.

I believe that each human being is connected with every other human being by bonds we do not often perceive, that what we do matters because our deeds affect beings animate and inanimate, for better or for worse.

I believe that justice and mercy are both essential and that forgiveness is often one of the deepest kindnesses we can extend to others and to ourselves, but that it should not be offered indiscriminately.

I believe that when we’re dead, we’re dead, and that while we, for a brief stretch of years, breathe upon this planet, we experience mysteries we ought not pretend to understand, though one day human beings will understand them better than we do now. I believe that we should affirm as true only those things we know with reasonable certainty, according to rigorous standards of history and science, that to cede our intellect to religious tradition is to allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who benefit from our credulity. I believe in the value of helping others and nurturing ourselves so that we can live lives as full as they can be.

Amen.

I’ll post an actual article with some of my own thoughts and questions about this creed, but I’d like really like to ask you, the reader, for your input. Atheists/humanists, do you subscribe to this creed? Do you agree with the things she has affirmed? Christians, are you offended by this creed?

I’d love to discuss these things with you. Any questions and comments that are in line with this page’s Commenting Policy will be published and responded to (to the best of my ability).

For more information on how I keep my worldview informed please go to Cross Roads Church.

Previous “Quick Quotes”:

Cross Roads of Faith: Quick Quotes 9-1-14 – Some Biological Common Sense

Cross Roads of Faith: Quick Quotes 9/5/14 – (Former A)Theist Antony Flew on Islam

Sign here, whoever you are: California’s birth certificate makeover

At the end of the day, biologically speaking, a child has one mother and one father. Why are we trying to complicate this simple biological principle?

askthe"Bigot"

On the day when the first wedding bells were ringing for gay marriages in my state, I wrote a post about how the push for “marriage equality” was not the end game for some gay marriage advocates, but rather the beginning of an unraveling of children’s rights on many fronts.  The final paragraph of that post read:

Our new law is the beginning of significant legal challenges to the structure of family, especially as they relate to children. Examples include California’s narrowly defeated “three parents” law, France’s push to erase all references to “mother” and “father” from legal documents, and Quebec’s efforts to stamp out “heterosexism” (the idea that heterosexuality is normal). So while the definition of marriage has been redefined in our state, judging from states/countries that are further down this road, there are many more legal issues that will arise in the future. And if we continue to consider marriage to be primarily about…

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Was the Sinking of the Titanic a Copycat Myth?

In 1898 a novella, “Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan”, was published. The story contains many eerie similarities with the actual story of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, fourteen years later!

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“Futility” was written before the Titanic was even designed, yet the similarities are uncanny. For instance, The names of the ships were synonymous: Titan, Titanic. Both ships sank in April in the North Atlantic. There were not enough lifeboats for all the passengers. The Titan was 800′ long and the Titanic was 882’9″ long. The Titan sailed at a speed of 25 knots, the Titanic 22.5 knots.

And That’s not all! Both ships had three propellers. Both were described as unsinkable. Both carried less than half the amount of lifeboats needed for their passenger and crew capacity. Both hit an iceberg 400 nautical miles from Newfoundland. Both sank, and lost more than half of their passengers: 2200 from the Titanic and 2500 from the Titan. (Source:  Wikipedia )

Now, I’ve said all that to say this: does the fact that a fictional book written before the actual historical account have any bearing on the fact that the actual account happened, regardless of the multitude of similarities between the fictional account and the actual account? The obvious answer is no, of course not, not even a little bit.

Did you know about the amazing similarities between  Abraham Lincoln and John Franklin Kennedy? It boggles the mind, really, that the two men who lived a century apart had so much in common. The question is, do the similarities between the two in any way discount the facts surrounding the life and work of either man? No, of course not.

Let me tell you about someone else. This individual was born on December 25th. His mother was a virgin. His birth was announced by an angel, attended by shepherds and heralded by a star. At 30 years of age he was baptized in a river, and the one who baptized him was later beheaded.  He had 12 disciples, performed miracles, exorcised demons, raised someone from the dead, and even walked on water. I could keep going but you probably know who I am talking about already. That’s right-  Horus!

You thought I was talking about Jesus didn’t you? The linked website, and others, make the claim of these similarities between Horus and Jesus. These claims were also made in the movie “Zeitgeist” (available on the internet) and in a book written by Achyrya S. (D.M. Murdock) called The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. Similar claims are made of other mythological deities including Dionysus, Krishna, Mithras, and many others.

This article’s purpose is not to contest the claims made about these similarities (that will be addressed in the next blog post). Here’s my point: CS Lewis once famously said, “…you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong.” In other words, you have to start with the historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth, and show that the historical accounts are false, before you can make the case that the similarities shared by the account of Jesus and these mythological deities have any bearing on the subject. Just as the book Futility, written fourteen years prior, in no way negates the historical fact of the sinking of the Titanic, and the fact that Abraham Lincoln lived 100 years prior to JFK in no way negates the historical fact of the existence and presidency of JFK, the similarities between Jesus of Nazareth and these mythological deities have no bearing on the historical fact of Jesus’s existence.

I’d love to discuss these things with you. Any questions and comments that are in line with this page’s Commenting Policy will be published and responded to (to the best of my ability).

For more information on how I keep my worldview informed please go to Cross Roads Church.

Why is there SOMEthing and not NOthing?

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

This is how the Bible begins, and this one verse is under as much attack as any other single verse in the Bible. Many have gone to great lengths to refute a created universe. It is a doctrine that is not just disdained or disliked but hated with a great passion by the secular world.

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Where did all this stuff come from?

Modern science has been said to disprove a created universe through the acceptance of the “Big Bang” Theory of Cosmology.

At this [c.f. the beginning] point in the ancient past, there was no such thing as time or space. There was just a single hot, condensed point, a singularity, containing all matter in the universe. In addition, all four fundamental forces (the gravitational, electromagnetic, strong and weak forces) were unified as a single force. This unified period, called the Planck epoch, lasted 10-43 seconds. Then the universe expanded at a rate faster than the speed of light, growing from subatomic to golf-ball size almost instantaneously. Scientists call this the inflationary period. The universe then expanded outward in a flood of superheated subatomic particles. Three seconds after the big bang, space cooled enough for these particles to form elements. Some 300 million years later, stars and galaxies formed as well.

What is not clear from this explanation is where this “extremely hot and dense state” of the universe came from and why did it begin “expanding rapidly”? Even granting the time-scales proposed by the theory, these are fundamental questions that secular science cannot answer. In science there are “laws” or fundamental principles that have never been observed to be untrue. Let’s discuss a few of them.

1.  The principle of causality: Simply: In nature, everything that comes to pass or comes to be has a sufficient cause.

2. The first law of thermodynamics: In nature, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. This means that the total amount of energy in the universe remains constant.

3. The second law of thermodynamics: In an isolated system (here, the natural universe,) entropy (simply put: disorder) of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy (also known as heat death). Another way of saying this is that in an isolated system, disorder increases while usable energy decreases. (If you’ve ever gone a few days without cleaning your kitchen you know exactly what I’m talking about.) Allowed to continue, entropy ensures that the universe will “die” at some point in the future.

Now, we return to our Big Bang Theory of Cosmology. According to The Law of Causality, a “Big Bang” requires a “Big Banger”. According to the principle of causality coupled with First Law of Thermodynamics, the “extremely hot dense state” of the early universe did not spontaneously generate itself, and according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics it did not exist eternally in the past; otherwise a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, (heat death) would have occurred before the “Big Bang” ever banged.

In addition, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem mathematically proves that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history as our has (a byproduct of the Big Bang), cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary (an absolute beginning).

So, according to the prevailing science of the day, the Big Bang is the beginning of the universe. Put another way, all energy (including matter), space and time began at the Big Bang. Now remember, these things had to have a sufficient cause. That cause had to exist outside of physical matter, space and time. By definition that would make the cause:

  • spaceless (because before the Big Bang space did not exist),
  • timeless (because our natural time began at the Big bang) ,
  • immaterial (because all matter and energy, i.e. material, came into existence at the big bang),
  • uncaused (because there was literally no existing physical thing to cause anything),
  • and unimaginably powerful (because the result of the primary effect, the Big Bang, was the entire universe).

Although I realize I have not yet made a case for the God of the Christian faith, the God of the Abrahamic Bible fits this description nicely. I hope to be able to give further evidence for the rationality behind the existence of the Christian God in future articles.

I’d love to discuss these things with you. Any questions and comments that are in line with this page’s Commenting Policy will be published and responded to (to the best of my ability).

For more information on how I keep my worldview informed please go to Cross Roads Church.

Why I Am a Christian (Part One)

This article is not intended to be a Christian “testimony” in the traditional sense, but an attempt to put my thoughts in order about why I personally hold the Christian worldview to be true.

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If I’m honest, first and foremost I believe Biblical Christianity to be true because I have a witness, in my heart, that confirms the truths I read about in the Bible and learn about through study and through sitting under the sound of a Gospel minister. I also fully admit that this witness, who I take to be God’s Holy Spirit, is an entirely subjective experience that no one else has access to in the same way that I do. (This is not to say no one else has the same witness in their heart, but that no one but me can know what that feels like for me, personally.) For this reason I am hesitant to bring it up “outside the house”, as it were, because by definition an entirely subjective experience is only verifiable to the subject in question.

If all I had was this subjective experience, I would have a tough time justifying my belief to anyone but another Christian. However, because I hold that God exists and His word is true, I have endeavored to develop arguments in my own mind that bolster my own faith in Him, and that can be used to show others that belief in God and the Bible is reasonable. Note that I am not trying to prove my belief, I am only attempting to offer evidence that an open, honest person would be able to look at and seriously consider the merits of.

I encourage you, the reader, to seriously consider the lines of evidence I intend to delineate in my next article. The Christian worldview, if true, has serious implications that are ignored at the peril of those who do so. I’m not talking heaven and hell here (in the eternal sense) but consequences that have effects on how we live every day.

In my next article I will get down to the “nitty gritty”, as it were. For those evidences which I have already written on I will provide links for you to look at these subjects a little more in-depth. Those evidences I have not yet written about will loosely serve as a “road map” for future subjects.

I’d love to discuss these things with you. Any questions and comments that are in line with this page’s Commenting Policy will be published and responded to (to the best of my ability).

For more information on how I keep my worldview informed please go to Cross Roads Church.

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