Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On Saying Yes To God

December 8
Genesis 3: 9-15, 20
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Luke 1: 26-38

Have you ever wondered why there is so much evil and suffering in the world? To find an answer, you need look no further than today’s reading from Genesis. God had prepared a very special garden for Adam and Eve to live in, and was teaching them everything they needed to know about life. However, at some point they decided, with a little encouragement from a serpent, to ignore God’s instructions. They sought to acquire knowledge of good and evil on their own. God’s response was to give them at least part of what they wanted. From that point on people would learn about the difference between good and evil the hard way - through their own experience. The rest is history.

Fortunately God has not completely abandoned us. He promised that an offspring of the woman would one day strike the head of the serpent and win a decisive victory for good over evil. That offspring was Jesus, and the woman whose conception without sin we celebrate today was Mary.

When Adam and Eve said “no” to God they did not realize how difficult it would be for anyone to ever perfectly say yes to God again. Everyone who has ever lived questions and doubts God because of the sin of our first parents. It was God Himself who acted to restore the relationship that we had so badly damaged by preserving Mary from sin. It was that special gift from God that enabled Mary to say yes to God for all of us, and allow Jesus to come into the world to teach us once again how much God loves us and wants to share His life with us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Human Freedom and the Immortality of the Soul

The recent development of theories that explain the human mind as a supervenient or emergent aspect of the activity of the brain*1 presents a significant challenge to the classical arguments*2 for the ontological independence of the human soul. Simply put, if consciousness and intelligence can be shown to be completely dependent on brain function, then the claim that the human soul has sufficient independence and integrity to survive bodily death would appear to be nothing more than a mere metaphysical possibility.

In this post I will address the question of the immortality of the soul. First, through a phenomenological investigation of human freedom; and, secondly, by showing that recent advances in our understanding of neurological function presents new possibilities for explaining how a human beings can be both free and in control of their own choices and actions.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lessons from a Snowflake

Of all the wonders in the world, sometimes the simplest things can teach us the most profound lessons. Consider the lowly snowflake. Simplicity, beauty, and unfathomable mystery all crystallized in a few molecules of water. What can it teach us?

Lesson #1:

The world is not a passing illusion derived from random purposeless events.

In a single snowflake there is order, harmony, and directedness that reveals the intelligence and purpose behind every existing thing. The feeling that life is chaotic and meaningless that is frequently communicated in modern art, music, and philosophy is a sign that far too many people have missed this lesson. Their lives may be chaotic and out of control, but the universe is not that way.

Lesson #2.

The world is not a machine in which everything is rigidly determined by impersonal forces and laws.

If determinism and fatalism were true, then every snowflake would be exactly the same. There are of course, certain natural laws that maintain limits on how snowflakes can be formed. But within those boundaries there is unlimited freedom for each snowflake to be uniquely what it is and never to be repeated in any other. If there is freedom and individuality at the simplest physical level in nature, how much greater is the uniqueness of every human being. One of the great lies of modernity is that we are just the products of our genetics and the environment. Don’t you believe it.

Lesson #3.

If the world was either pure chaos or rigidly determined there would be no wonder and there would be no joy.

Wonder is the experience of seeking understanding in a world in which everything cannot be fully explained. In a chaotic world nothing can be explained. In a mechanical world everything can be explained. This is a wonderful world which we can partly understand, but which always retains its mystery. Joy is not found in confusion, nor is it found in cold hard facts. Joy is found in knowing the mystery.

Lesson #4.

People who have learned these lessons know that there is a God. There can be no other explanation for the world as it actually exists.

Atheists live in a world of their own creating. It is either chaotic which leads to the nihilism of the west. Or it is deterministic which produces the totalitarianism of the east. These two points of view miss the reality that the other sees. They cancel each other out and cannot be true. The real world is a world of faith, hope, and joy. This is the world created by Love itself.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Are You a Moral Person?

Imagine someone taking a survey on “values” were to ask you that question. How would you answer?

Recently some atheists produced an advertising campaign promoting the idea that you can be good without god. I think those people would answer “yes” without hesitation. It is pretty easy to feel good about yourself if you can make up your own moral rules to fit your life-style.

I also think that the majority of religious people would answer “yes” as well. The reason I think most people would answer “yes” is that my first reaction to the question was to say: “Yes, of course I am a moral person.”

The only people who I think would immediately answer “no” would be either saints who were profoundly aware of their own sinfulness; or, those individuals who had done something they knew to be seriously wrong and had never experienced God’s forgiveness.

Upon further reflection I realized that I too am a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness. So I cannot claim be perfectly moral. Indeed, if I were to make such a claim I would be like the Pharisees who had such wonderful self-esteem that they did not need Jesus or the healing that he alone could provide.
(Luke 18: 9-14; John 9: 1-41.)

Where do you stand in your relationship with God?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Anthropological Argument

1. Human intelligence, morality, and freedom are not the result of any merely physical or biological process, but are evidence for the presence of an immaterial or spiritual soul.

2. There must be a cause which is sufficient to explain the existence of the human soul.

Therefore: There must be an intelligent, moral, and free being who is capable of creating the human soul, and this being we call God.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Immortality of the Soul

Many people believe in the immortality of the soul as a part of their faith, but relatively few know the argument that supports the belief. Perhaps that is because it has two parts as follows:

The Immateriality of the Soul
1. As a thing acts, so it is.
2. The soul/mind acts to form abstract immaterial concepts.
Therefore, the soul is immaterial.

The Immortality of the Soul
1. Only what is composed of material parts can break down and cease to exist.
2. The soul is immaterial or spiritual and not composed of material parts.
Therefore, the soul is immortal and cannot breakdown or cease to exist.

If you do not believe that you have a soul, or if you think that your soul dies when your body dies, I would be interested in hearing why you believe what you do?