Argument against Christianity: God's love is conditional.

A few days ago, when I was sailing through the high seas of the internets, I came across a hostile island. Hostile in a sense that it attacked a basic doctrine of christianity. It attacked my beliefs. The attack was carried out in this manner:

My biggest issue with Christianity is the hypocrisy found in the absolute basest tenet of the faith itself:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, so that whosoever believe in him shall not perish but will have everlasting life.” –John 3.16

If you're like very other Christian I've ever tried to explain this to, you're probably shaking your head right now. That's a message of hope, you'll say. That's God's gift to the world.

Let's break it down:

God loves the world. Check.

God gave the world his only son. Fine, okay. I'll accept this aspect of the myth (not myth as in “lie” but as in “story”, which is what every single religion is based on).

His only son died in a sacrifice made by God. This was the father putting the son to death. Why? So that I may be absolved from sin.

BUT! And here's where it sucks: I can only be absolved from sin if I choose to accept the sacrifice. If I do not, God will not extend the benefit of the gift given the world.

Putting it all together: GOD'S LOVE IS CONDITIONAL. The all-knowing, all-powerful creator of all things only loves those who love him back. God loves me so much, that I have to accept a sacrifice made to absolve me of sin. If I do not accept this sacrifice, I'm not absolved of sin, and thus spend eternity in hell.

I have to admit, the argument is very sound. In fact, it is perfect. Logically the guy is correct. However this argument also follows the tradition of all the arguments against christianity. The traditions are these:

  1. The argument attacks a very specific verse in the bible(extra points for attacking the verse at the very center of christianity. Going into the lion's den and attacking the lion! Bravo!), any argument doesn't ever try to cover the whole picture.
  2. They all have a faulty understanding of christianity.

If the bible consisted of only that verse, I would agree with him completely. But that is not true. So I don't agree with him. I will give answer to this argument. But before that, I would like to establish this: God's love is unconditional. Let me start with the very verse that is under attack.

The key point that I want to focus on is this: God so loved the world, that he gave his only son. Can you see any condition there? No. There isn't any condition in there. Bible says:

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (KJV)

While we were still sinner, Christ died for us. God loved us despite our actions. Not because of it. There you go, the proof of God's unconditional love.

Now that I have given the proof of God's unconditional love, I would like to touch the nerve of the argument. But before I do it, I'd like to do one more thing. I'd like to make clear the purpose of christianity.

The guy seems to think that the raison d'etre, the reason for Christianity's existence is, as a doorway to heaven. Contrary to the popular belief, it is not so. Christianity's ultimate purpose is not to get people into heaven. Christianity is not a passport for some luxurious foreign country.

The ultimate purpose of christianity is to cultivate Christ like character in individuals. The word “christian” means “being Christ like” or “a follower of Christ”. A person who follows the teachings of Christ. So when you become a christian, you start think and act like Christ would. Whenever you find yourself at a crossroad or a choice, you stop and ask yourself, what would Christ do if he was in the same situation. But how a christian should act is besides the point. (Keep in mind these two paragraphs. Especially the purpose of christianity. I will refer to it later.)

Let me summarize the points:

  • God's love is unconditional.
  • The ultimate purpose of christianity is to cultivate Christ like character in individuals.

Now, let's go into the argument. The fault in this argument…. TING TONG. Huh? What the heck? My imaginary friend Jack just came in. Sorry about this,

Me : Hello, Jack! How are you?

Jack : I'm fine. How are you?

Me : Great! As always! Do you know what I found out? I have some great news. “God so loved the world, that…

Jack(shouts) : Stop, just stop. I have heard it. It is just a story. And an illogical story at that!!!

Me : Illogical? How?

Jack : You see… (Presents the above argument). That's how. (To my utter surprise he also presented the same argument! You are in luck. Otherwise you would have to come some other day to understand why this argument is wrong.)

Me : Hmm… You do have a point. However, I think you have misunderstood something. (I explain the purpose of christianity. The two paragraphs I mentioned above). So when you refuse to believe in christianity. You refuse to be like Christ. And that is why you can not go into heaven. And if you can't go to heaven, you must go to hell!

Jack : What? I don't want to go to hell. I want to go to heaven.

Me : Then why don't you become a christian?

Jack : Because it is WRONG. Christians are hypocrites. I do not want to be like them.

Me : Christians are not hypocrites. When they say God's love is unconditional, they are right. See, he gave his son for all of us. When we were sinners. He loved us despite our actions.

Jack : Then why does he send people who don't believe in him to hell? Doesn't he love them?

Me : He loves them. But, as I said earlier, being a christian is about being like Christ. Not getting into heaven. So when you refuse to become a christian, you refuse to become like Christ.

Jack : You said the same thing earlier! Do you actually have any point or are we going to just go into circles? What does becoming like Christ have to do with heaven or hell? Why only christians are allowed to go to heaven?

Me : Let me finish. Christians are allowed to go to heaven because they are like Christ. If a person who is not like Christ enters heaven, then he will turn heaven into hell.

Jack : What nonsense are you talking about? How can anyone turn heaven into hell?

Me : Alright. Let me explain. Forget the stuff about christianity. Forget that it claims unconditional love. Focus on teachings and character of Christ. Wouldn't you agree that if everyone on this world becomes like Christ, even this world will become heaven? There will be no wars. There will be no robberies. Nobody will be selfish. But everyone would love each other and respect each other. Wouldn't it create an ideal world?

Jack : Well, I suppose.

Me : Now imagine that a single person who is not like Christ enters this ideal world. This heaven. A person who is selfish. What would he do? He will try to become the ruler and dictator of this heaven. In the process he will turn heaven into hell.

Jack : Hmm… I suppose that could happen.

Me : So now do you understand why God only allows christians to enter heaven? Because only christians can sustain the heaven. If a single person who is selfish enters this ideal world, he will turn it into hell. That is why God won't allow it.

Jack : I see your point. But then what about those who are not like Christ? They are going to go into hell. Right?

Me : Right. But it is because what they chose. They actually chose to go into hell.

Jack : What? How is that possible?

Me : Well, when you refuse to become a christian, you refuse to become like Christ. When you refuse to become like Christ, you refuse to let go of your self. Your pride. You refuse to admit that you are a sinner. When you refuse to admit that you are a sinner, you are saying God is wrong. Because bible says, all have sinned and fall short of God's glory. So you are saying that in this matter, I know what is right. In this matter, I am better than God. That is what Lucifer did. If you say you are better than God, you are saying that you are better than everybody else! So the whole world revolves around you. Your “self” becomes the center of your being. Your “self” becomes your God. And everybody knows where such selfishness leads to… So, because God can not allow selfish people into heaven, he sends them to another place. Wherever he sends them, that place is called hell!

Jack : How?

Me : Just as only christians can create and sustain heaven, selfish people wherever they are, can only create hell. Because of their selfishness, they will create hell for the people around them. They will not share anything. They only love themselves. They will steal from other. For their own pleasures, they will use others. They will create hell. And they will sustain this hell. That is why hell is described as a very bad place in the bible. So heaven is heaven because of the people who inhabit it and hell is hell because of the people who inhabit hell. Also, from an eternal perspective, hell will become more hellish every single moment and heaven will become more heavenly every single moment.

Jack : Hmm.. I see your point. I never thought of it like this. Thanks for explaining. I would like to talk to you about this but I have to go to another place right now. My other “real” friend is calling me!

Me : Alright, bye. Stop by some other time! Take care!

I hope that dialog with my imaginary friend Jack helped you to understand my point. The reason for becoming a christians is not to go into heaven, but to be like Christ so that we can sustain heaven. That is why you need to be a christian. So the argument wasn't really about if God's love is unconditional or not. It was a question. It was: If God loves everybody unconditionally, why does he send people into hell? I have answered the question so there is nothing more to discuss.


Here is the map to the hostile island.

Doubt in the battlefield of Mind

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about faith. In that post, I dealt with pretty much every aspect of faith I can think of. However, I didn’t cover doubt. Because that post became much longer than I expected it to be. So in this post, I will deal with the arch enemy of faith. Doubt. But before we go into the details, I want to make something clear. For the rest of this post, whenever I use words “faith” and “doubt”, I am talking about faith on somebody. I am talking about a relationship. Not about faith in “something”. Not like “I believe these pills gonna cure my cold”. Now that’s clear, let’s get into the main subject.

What is doubt? Antonym for faith. Dictionary defines it as “lack of faith” or “uncertainty”. However I think that doubt is more than just “lack of faith” or “uncertainty”. Whenever there is a relationship there is more than just uncertainty. In a relationship, doubt is “fear of betrayal”. Now that fear has come into the picture, let me give you a little background of fear.

Whenever there is any kind of fear, it is always based on one thing. It is always based on lack of knowledge. Why do kids fear darkness? Because they don’t know what may lie ahead. And all the “big people” around them love to tell them scary stories of ghosts. So their imagination run wild and in their mind they ask the question what if there is a ghost ahead? What will it do to me? Will it eat me? I don’t want to die… That’s what happens in a child’s mind. So, if you don’t want your kids to be afraid of dark, don’t tell them scary stories. But that is besides the point. They are afraid because they don’t know what lies ahead. Fear is always base on “What if?”. Fear is always based on lack of knowledge.

According to the all knowing dictionary, meaning of doubt is uncertainty. With fear, it is also pretty much the same thing. Fear also produces uncertainty. So I think the meaning of doubt(in a relationship) would be fear of betrayal.

Now that we have dealt with the question of what, let us deal with why. But with the question of why, the question of how comes for free(buy one, get one free). So let us deal with both. I think faith precedes doubt. To doubt something, you must have faith somewhere in the equation. You can not doubt something without some kind of faith. For example, sometimes you doubt your friends. Will he really keep his promise about returning your book? There, you question your own faith on your friend.

There is also another kind of doubt. Suppose one of your friend’s friend needs some data urgently and he does not have a pen drive with him. Neither does your friend have a pen drive. But you do. So your friend asks you to lend your pen drive to his friend. Your friend have faith in his friend. However you do not know him. So, in your mind you doubt or question will he return the pen drive? So there, you are questioning your friend’s faith in his friend. So in any way look at it, faith precedes doubt.

Without faith, doubt can not exist. So, then we need to know what faith is. For the answer to that question, you can read my post on faith. However, if you don’t want to read it, I’ll give you one simple illustration.

For this illustration, I’d like to thank my friend Jojo. The illustration goes like this. When a baby is tossed up in the air, and she is up in the air, she doesn’t cry, but she laughs. Because the baby believes that the person who has thrown her into air, will also catch her. She believes in the person tossing her up in the air completely. There is not a shred of doubt in her mind. That is an example of faith. We all were once babies. So, we had that kind of faith in people around us. We weren’t a doubter or skeptic when we were born. So now that we have grown up, from where does doubt comes into our mind?

The answer lies in the current state of this world. We do not live in an ideal world. People don’t do as they say. They break promises. They use others in their own pursuit of grandeur. So, as the baby grows up, he/she will have certain “real world”(rather than the “ideal world” created by their parents) experience. Experiences where someone doesn’t keep their promises. Where someone whom they trust, betrays their trust. Someone who uses him/her so that they themselves can have whatever they want. So at first, where there was complete certainty(because of the “ideal world” created by their parents), a little bit of uncertainty starts to creep in(because of the “real world” experiences). As he/she grows up, there will be more and more such experiences. So the uncertainty will keep growing.

Now he/she has reached a state in her life where whenever there is someone new in his/her life, whenever someone promises him/her something, his/her imagination kicks in and they start to think about what can be the outcome of this. They remember their previous bad experiences. They want to trust the person but their past experiences tells them something different. It says, do not trust this person, remember that guy whom you trusted completely but he betrayed you? I think that’s how we learn to doubt.

So doubt begins with bad experiences, however it thrives in imagination. I think the ingredients needed to create doubt in any person’s mind are, bad experiences and imaginations.

Let me summarize the main points:

  • Meaning of doubt : Fear of betrayal
  • The formula to create doubt in any mind : bad experiences + imagination

So now that we have understood how doubt comes into existence, let us see if we can find out if there is any tonic for it. Any serum that can cure us from our doubt. I think there is. However to get to that tonic we need to get even deeper into the topic. I think doubt is not the real problem To get to the real problem, we need to get back to the definition. I defined doubt as “fear of betrayal”. Where does fear come from? Lack of knowledge. So the tonic for doubt is knowledge. Whenever in doubt about someone, try to get to know him/her more.

Imaginations can not run wild if you know the person. If you know how the person behaves, if you know the character of the person, you will know that if he is trustworthy or not. If you know that he is trustworthy, your imagination will not be able to run wild. You have assurance. That assurance comes from knowledge.

The another way to cure doubt is to suppress your imagination. But that is not good for your mental health. Trust me. Do you know any person who is very superstitious? Let me tell you, he used this method. He has suppressed his imagination. Imagination is essential for asking questions. It is essential for creativity, for innovation, for thinking out of the box. So you shouldn’t suppress your imagination. You should acquire more knowledge.

So how does this apply to Christianity? What do I do when I am in a crisis of faith? What do I do when I doubt God? The answer to that question is acquire more knowledge about God. Bible says:

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (KJV)

Have you asked why is it so? Why does bible say so? Well, now you don’t have to. Because, now you understand. Bible says this because faith(or assurance) comes by acquiring knowledge. By hearing the word of God, you are acquiring knowledge about God. So, in one simple sentence, when you doubt God, read the bible. So, let me finish with a quote.

“You can’t stand effectively on “blind” faith. You must have a “knowing” faith.” -Gloria Copeland

People normalization

Here is lies a note for the writer. A note in writing because he is a control freak. He wants to have control over every situation. When he deals with the “real world” he finds that he can not control everybody like he can control the variables and objects in the programs he creates. That is why he told to himself “You can not normalize people like databases”.

There are times when he hopes, only if people were like databases. Do some normalization procedures on them to increase their efficiency and reliability. But he knows it can not be done. So he gets back to whatever he is doing. He stops thinking about this topic.

Then there are other times when he remembers that he wished “if I could just normalize him”. Then he regrets that he ever wished such a thing. Because he knows if he could do that. He would have done it. If he had done it, the world would have become a very boring place. He probably would have normalized himself. If it were so, this document wouldn't exist.

The contrariety of sin

A few days back, I was thinking about the topic of sin. Exactly, what is sin? I thought about what people think sin is. Then I examined the bible to derive a definition of sin. What I found, I found to be very peculiar. In this blog, I will try to summarize my findings. So here we go.

What does sin mean? The common or popular meaning of the word “sin” is “doing something bad” or “doing something wrong”. At least, I think so.

Now, I'd like to mention what bible says about sin. Because, the concept of sin has it's origin in the bible. Where in the bible does it originate? Let's take a look at the fist verse in bible which contains the word “sin”.

Genesis 4:7: Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.” (NETtext)

I am aware of one more verse in the bible that I think, defines sin.

James 4:17: So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin. (NETtext)

In Genesis 4:7, there is nothing written about doing something wrong or bad. There is no word like “wrong”, “bad” or “evil”. Though, the word “right” is used twice in the same verse. The verse says, if you do what is right, you will be fine. If you do not do what is right, only then sin comes into the picture.

In James 4:17 it says pretty much the same thing. However, introduces a new concept. The concept of knowledge. It says, knowing what is good and then not doing it, is sin. The definition of sin according to the bible can be stated like this: Presuming the knowledge of what is right, ceasing to do what is right is sin. (You might notice I did a trick there! I used the word “cease”. Keep that in mind. I will explain that trick later.)

So here are the definitions:

  • Popular definition: Doing something bad or doing something wrong.
  • Biblical definition: Presuming the knowledge of what is right, ceasing to do what is right is sin.

Notice that, in biblical definition, the anchor used to give definition to sin, is in fact, positive. In the first verse it uses the word “right”. In the second, it uses the word “good”. But the popular definition is not based on anything good. It is based on “bad” or “wrong”. Such contraries! When I see something like this, two questions come into my mind. Why and how.

However, in this case, I do not want to go into questions of why and how. Because if I were to cover them, I would have to write a very long post. And even after that, most of the answers would be guesswork. And that I don't want to do. So instead of answering why and how, I'd like to focus on what does it mean to have these two different definitions. Are they pretty much the same thing or is there any difference between them. And if there is, what is it? There is a difference. The difference is this:

There are only 3 ways you can spend your time.

You can spend your time doing

  1. Good things
  2. Nothing
  3. Bad things

But if you think about sin, there is no middle ground. Either you are doing sin, or you are not doing sin. Now according to the biblical definition, doing anything except what is right is sin. According to the popular definition, doing bad things is sin. So the difference is, biblical definition says idleness is also a sin. Popular definition says, doing nothing is ok. It is not a sin.

You might ask, wait a minute, are you saying that doing nothing is a sin? Yes and No. Yes, if doing nothing is wrong. For example, at your home, you have some work to do. However, you are not doing it but are lying in bed. Thinking about talking ponies and flying monkeys. So in fact, you are not doing anything. For that particular case, doing nothing is wrong. And because it is wrong, it is a sin.

The answer would be no if there is a good reason to do nothing. Like resting after a long day of work. When you are tired. But laziness is a sin. I think that is why bible also talks about a right time for everything in the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes. So that we understand when doing nothing is right and when it is wrong.

But, does doing nothing only includes laziness? No. Remember James 4:17. If you see someone doing something wrong, stopping them would be the right thing to do. Everybody knows that. But if you do not do anything to prevent that bad thing from happening you are also sinning along with the person who is doing the bad thing. Popular definition seems to say that it is ok to turn your eyes from injustice or inequity.

I think the current state of society is the consequence of this popular definition of sin. As long as you yourself don't do anything wrong, you are a fine person. So it is ok when there is injustice done to someone else. As long as it is not you or your relative/friend, who cares?

But bible tells us something different entirely. Bible tells us to stand against injustice. I think we need to go back to the bible if we are to improve this corrupt society. We need to change our perspective about the basic topics as sin.

Now that we have established the differences and consequences of each definition, I'd like to come back to the biblical definition. Remember the trick? Well that is no trick at all(I do not do tricks. I'm a programmer not a magician). If you really think about it, if you “cease” to do what is right, you are certainly doing something wrong. But there is one another reason for me to use the word cease. It is this:

John 5:17: But Jesus answered them, My Father has worked [even] until now, [He has never ceased working; He is still working] and I, too, must be at [divine] work. (AMP)

God never stops working. He is always working on something. Something good. If our main goal as christians to be like Christ, we shouldn't cease to do what is right either. And if we are to improve the current state of world, we need to be tireless. Relentless in our pursuit of righteousness.

So, now that we have finished the discussion, I'd like to address one more issue. How do we know when it is right to do nothing and when it is wrong? Let me tell you about a little test which I use to identify sin.How do I identify sin when I'm not sure? I ask myself two questions.

  1. After doing this, will it make me want to hide myself?

    It is important to note that after committing the very first sin, Adam hid himself. I don't think he hid himself because he was naked(I think that was just his excuse for hiding from God, without revealing he did what God had forbidden), I think he hid himself because he was ashamed of himself. So if anything makes you hide yourself, it is a sin.

  2. if someone finds out I did this, will I be making excuses in my defense?

    You never have to defend your actions if you are right. The urge to defend your actions only comes when you have done something wrong. So if the answer to this question is yes, the action you are thinking about is probably wrong. So, this question is also another indicator of sin.

Know the problem, Johnny!

There are many things that programming has taught me. One of them is this: Knowing the problem is half the solution. Most of the time what you see as the problem is not the actual problem. The actual problem most of the time, hides behind it's effects.

What the heck am I talking about? Let me give you an example. In programming, there is a term called “logical error”. It basically means that wrong logic is used in the program. A program with a logical error will run fine, without any problems. However it will not produce the intended result. For example, I write a program to do addition. When I enter 2 + 2 it answers 4. But when I enter 3 + 2, it answers 6. So in fact, I have created a program for multiplication when I intended to create a program for addition. It is a logical error on my part.

According to the program, answer of 3 + 2 is 6. The answer is certainly wrong, but it is not the problem. It is the effect of the problem. The cause of that effect is the real problem. In this case, the cause lies in the formula of addition that I have used. So knowing that the problem lies in the formula is half the solution. If I do not know the problem, what I would do is, add an if condition. If the input is 3 + 2 give answer 5. But then what about 3 + 3? According to the program it is 9. Do I go and add another condition? What about 3 + 4 or 6 + 4? More conditions? If I do that, I might fix some of the answers but I can not solve the real problem without really knowing what the real problem is. I may successfully fix the effect(the wrong result), but the cause(the real problem) remains to be dealt with.

That's why I say, knowing the problem is half the solution. And this principal isn't limited to programming. It also applies in our daily lives. A lot of times in our lives, we go on trying to solve the ill effects of the problem without knowing that the actual problem is not the one you are trying to solve. The real problem may be something entirely different. So we should always try to dig deeper and understand what the real problem is.

So Johnny boy, next time you come across any problem, step back and think if what you see is the problem or is it just the effect of the problem and the actual problem is something else!

Superstition, faith and christian faith

What is faith? I asked at our local ICPF cell group. One replied, “Believing in something unseen”. Another said, “Believing without any proof”. Another said it is written in Hebrews 11:1. I said, “If you are going to quote the bible, you better be ready to explain what that verse means!”. We all laughed. Then the youngest in the group said “If I lend my book to my friend, I have faith that he will return it to me”. I said, “Exactly, that is what faith is!”. Then I went on and explained a little bit, but because I wasn't prepared to deal with this topic, I wasn't able to explain in detail. When I was coming back home from the cell group I thought, many people don't understand this. I thought, I will write about it, and deal with this question in detail in the next cell group.

So that is how this post came to be. In this post I would like to do 3 things.

  1. Explain superstition
  2. Explain faith
  3. Explain christian faith

The first issue we are going to deal with is superstition. So from where did superstition come in the discussion of faith? Well, the second answer I received to my question in the cell group, “Believing without any proof” is actually very close to the definition of superstition, and in fact a lot of people mistakenly think that faith and superstition are synonymous but of course, they are mistaken! But before we go into the topic of faith let's put superstition under the microscope and analyze it. The definition of superstition would be something like this: Believing in something without any proof or reason, and holding onto that belief even if evidence is presented against that belief. (Keep in mind the two words, proof and reason. They might do a trick.) I think the problem with a superstitious person is, he doesn't want to think. They accept pretty much anything they hear without giving it much thought. A little bit of education can easily erase any superstitions.

However, a lot of sane people, myself included (except the sane part, of course!) have no interest in educating these superstitious people. I have no interest in explaining things to people who themselves don't want things explained. I have no interest in disproving what is not. I think the worst thing you can do with your time is to try to disprove things that don't exist or isn't real. (If you don't agree, do this: Take a paper and a pen, and then start disproving that the shape of the planet earth is square. I'm sure after some time we will be buddies.) And for that reason, there are still superstitions left in this so called “post-modern” age. That I think sums up pretty much all that there is to superstitions.

That leads us to the second topic. Faith. I said that people who think faith and superstition are synonymous are mistaken. The reason is this: One of the antonym for superstition is rational, which in turn is synonymous to reasonable. And faith, is reasonable. What do I mean by faith is reasonable? Behind every sensible faith or belief there is a reason. A faith without reason is no different than superstition. So the difference between superstition and faith is this: Superstition is not reasonable, faith is. Let me illustrate the difference with examples. First superstition: A cat crossing one's path is bad omen. You get the idea, there is no reason to believe that because a cat crossed one's path, bad things will happen to that person. Yet, some people believe it to be true without any reason or proof.

Now, onto the example of faith. I will use the example that was given in the cell group.”If I lend my book to my friend, I have faith that he will return it to me”. So what is the reason behind him thinking that his friend will return his book? Because he knows his friend. Maybe he has lent books in the past and they were safely returned. Because of his dealings with his friend in the past, he has reason to believe that his book will be returned safely. Now if he had said “if I lend my book to a stranger, I have faith that he will return it to me” that would be superstition. So basically faith means “Because someone has behaved in a certain way in the past I think they will continue to behave the same way in the future.” That is why you can not point your finger to a stranger and say “That guy/girl is faithful.” You can only say that about a person you have known for some time. I think that explains the point of faith being reasonable reasonably well.

Remember, after the definition of superstition I told you to something about two words? Sorry to disappoint you guys but those two aren't going to do any tricks here. Because faith is sick of being called superstition(that's why they called me! I'm the doctor!). The reason I told you to remember that is to understand the difference between superstition and faith. We have seen the difference in the matter of reason. Let us look at the difference in the matter of proof. Superstition has no proof because it isn't real. However faith can not have a proof. Because the very moment faith has it's proof, the faith is no more. Faith transforms into truth. So the cause of faith is reason and the result of faith is truth unless faith is violated. We will get to the violation part soon. But first let me properly explain what I mean by what I just said. Let's take a look at the example of faith I used earlier. When his friend returns his book, will he have faith about his friend returning his book? No. Because his friend doesn't posses the book anymore. The friend has returned it. So what once was faith has already become the truth. Faith applies only to the things that are unknown. The moment it becomes known, there is no need of faith. I think we need to fix the meaning of faith in light of this new revelation. It would be like this: Because someone has behaved in a certain way in the past I think they will continue to behave the same way in the future or when I'm not looking.

Up until now, it was smooth sailing and we didn't need to go deeper into the concept of faith because we were only discussing the differences between superstition and faith. However, faith is much more than just those differences and to understand the topic of violation of faith, we need to dissect faith. As far as I can understand it, there are 3 parts to the concept of faith.

  1. The person putting his faith
  2. The object on which faith is placed upon (I use the word object because faith is not limited to human-human relationships. For example, you can have faith in your dog. The reason I put the word “person” in the first part is because I believe only “persons” or “humans” will read this post. If you are something else, I apologize.)
  3. The subject of faith (This needs to be mutually agreed upon. In the example that I have used, returning the book is mutually agreeable. However if his friend says that I will not return the book, that might not be mutually agreeable.)

Disclaimer: I have read no faith theory or faithology. Nor do I have any idea if one exists. I have named the three parts as I understand it and if there is any such thing as official jargon to describe these parts, please pardon my ignorance.

So, in the example of faith that we have used, “He” is the person putting his faith, “his friend” is the object on which faith is placed upon and “return the book” is the subject of faith. So what is the violation of faith? It is an event in which the object on which the faith is placed upon does not behave in a way that corresponds to the subject of faith. So for our example the violation would be “his friend doesn't return his book”. Which means when his friend told him that he will return the book, he lied(of course, in real world, this may not mean that the friend was lying and there might be a genuine reason behind him not being able to return the book. However, here, for hypothetical purposes, I am simplifying the situation). So the preservation of faith results in truth(as in, the subject of faith becomes real) and violation of faith results in disclosure of a lie.

Is there any other mystery that faith holds? I can think of one more. It is this: Faith can increase or decrease over time. Up until now, we were analyzing faith on a single case bases. Now we are going to put faith in the context of a relationship. How does faith increase or decrease? What does relationships have to do with that? Preservation of faith increase faith and violation of faith decreases faith. I will again use the same example to illustrate the point. In a relationship, over time,”He” will have to put his faith on “his friend” for more than one time for different “subjects”. Now every time the faith is preserved by “his friend”, “his” faith on “his friend” will increase. In the same way, every time the faith is violated by “his friend”, “his” faith on “his friend” will decrease. You wouldn't want to trust a liar, would you?

Faith can increase of decrease. So what? Why is that important? It is important because relationships are dependent upon faith. The more trust between the individuals, the thicker the bond of relationship is between them. So the preservation of faith is the key of building relationships. But enough about relationships, we are talking about faith here so let's move on.

I want to mention a very interesting observation here, it is not a major point, but it is important. Humans like being trusted by someone and they dislike being doubted. It doesn't matter if the doubt is valid or not, fact is, humans don't like being doubted.(notice the period) I think it is because doubt accuses you of being a liar. And a truthful person doesn't want to be called a liar because it's not fair and a liar doesn't want to be called a liar because it reveals him for what he is. However that topic also, is out of the scope of this post.

Before we go on to the last topic, let me summarize the points:

  • Superstition: Believing in something without any proof or reason, and holding onto that belief even if evidence is presented against that belief.
  • Faith: Because someone has behaved in a certain way in the past I think they will continue to behave the same way in the future, or when I'm not looking.
  • Differences between faith and reason:
    • Faith is reasonable. Superstition has no reason behind it.
    • Faith can not have a proof. Superstition has nothing to do with proofs because proofs are real, but superstitious beliefs does not correspond to reality.
  • Violation of faith: It is an event in which the object on which the faith is placed upon does not behave in a way that corresponds to the subject of faith.
  • the preservation of faith results in truth and violation of faith results in disclosure of a lie.
  • In a relationship, preservation of faith increases faith and violation of faith decreases faith.

So how is the christian faith any different from normal faith? Well fundamentally, it isn't different at all. However the equation of faith changes drastically because God enters the equation. The object on which faith is placed upon changes from from natural to supernatural and from mutable to immutable. What difference does it make? Let me explain.

First, we will deal with natural and supernatural. But before going further, I'd like to tell you in which meaning I have used the word natural. By natural, I mean limited by the laws of nature. A natural being is limited but a supernatural is not. Because supernatural one has created the nature. So when the object is changed from natural to supernatural, it is not bound by the situations or circumstances around it. It means, God is not dominated by his circumstances. There are no circumstances that can dominate God because circumstances can not exist unless God creates them.

In our example, if the borrowed book falls into fire, his friend will not be able to return it. His friend is limited. He can not bring the book back from the ashes. God can. So let's make his friend is a christian. The book fell into the fire. So, he prays to God for help. If he dares to pray to God to solidify the book from the ashes, I think his prayer is reasonable considering to whom he is praying to. For people who say that no such thing can happen, let me say, I haven't seen books solidify from ashes but I have certainly seen my share of supernatural things that nature can not explain.

That brings us to the second point. Immutability of God. Immutability means “Not subject or susceptible to change”. If the subject of faith is agreed upon by both parties(a christian and God), christian faith will never be violated. It's more like it can not be violated. Because if God says anything, it is so. It comes to be true. God because who he is, can not violate faith. So if the object on which faith is placed upon is perfect, the subject of faith is agreed upon by both parties(a christian and God) then the result of that faith will always be the truth. In the sense that what you believe will come to be real. But…

Remember, I told another point. Humans like being trusted by someone and they dislike being doubted. Where do you think that trait comes from? From our maker, because God created us in his own image. God also dislikes being doubted. Bible says this not I, for it is written:

Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESV)

Would you like to be in a relationship with a fellow who constantly doubts you even when you have given him no reason to doubt you? Would you be pleased at that fellow? Would you like to continue the relationship with him? Answer this questions and you will understand what the term “christian faith” actually means. All the activity that is needed for christian faith to sustain is only on the part of christian. God doesn't have to do anything special to be faithful. He only needs to be who he already is. It is only the christian that needs to believe. There is no question of doubt. There is no question like “if God will do it or not?”. He always will. That is why christians say things like “you must have faith” or “put your trust in God”. So let me end this long discussion by saying “Just believe in him”. I think you will now understand the weight and reasoning behind those words.

Being human

Recently I have been seeing youngsters wearing a t-shirt that says Being Human. The reason is a simple one. It's because Salman Khan wears it and has founded a charitable trust by that name. The purpose of this trust is to help the underprivileged and in my opinion it is commendable. However the purpose of this post is not advertising. I want to just put my thoughts on the matter of being human.

When someone talks about “being” something they always talk like if they know what it is. So first of all, let us know what the phrase “being human” means. I did quick lookup on for word “being” and there are other meanings, but only one can be used in this context. The meaning of “being” that can be used here is “essential nature”. For the sake of simplicity, from now on I will call this essential nature of human beings as human nature. So let us see if we can demystify this “human nature”.

In saying “being human” we are saying that we should have this human nature. But what is this human nature? I think we all know what it is, we certainly know what it is not. We know it is not arrogance or dishonesty or cowardice or selfishness and the list can go on and on. So if we take the opposite traits of these negative ones like humbleness or honesty or courage or selflessness, do we become human as in being human? Maybe.

But then question arises that why choose courage instead of cowardice or why choose honesty instead of dishonesty. After all cowardice keeps me away from danger and dishonesty helps me make easy money. So why not just take what is advantageous to me? Why does it have to be the things that are hard to do. You may say that it is because it is good for human society as a whole. But, it is same as saying because it is good for other people (certainly, it isn't good for me!). And then we may ask “why should I care what is good(or advantageous) for other people when it is bad(or disadvantageous) for me? Why can't I just take what is good(or advantageous) to me?”. And then, we are where we started. So let us stop here.

The point is that it is in human nature to be good, to be decent. And it is against human nature to be bad. At the same time the phrase “being human” means we are still trying to get there. That we are not good enough or decent enough yet. I think we all agree on that.

So to be human, we should be good. And in being good, I think we have an advantage. Because, We as humans find ourselves in pursuit of good things. How so? Well, nobody likes to do something just because it is bad or wrong. A thief may steal because he wants money, But money in itself is not a bad thing. A man may kill someone in order to take revenge, but only because he seeks justice. Only because the things that they seek, money and justice are in themselves good. Only the means to achieve these things are bad.

You might have heard people say “You should do it because it is the right thing to do” or “It is a decent thing to do” but have you ever heard someone saying “You should do it because it is wrong”? I haven't. And probably you haven't either.

People can do good things just for the sake of goodness but don't do bad things just because the sake of badness. There must be something good behind everything a sensible human does. Interesting. One must ask, why? But before we go asking “why” of these matters let us define “what” matter we are discussing first. There is one more interesting little fact needs to be addressed.

Good and bad only comes to play in relationships. Before we move ahead, let's make clear a requirement of a sensible relationship. Requirement of a sensible relationship is sense itself. If you do not understand what I mean, let me coin a little more formal word to describe it. Sentience. One can not have a relationship with a stone. At least not a sensible one. And if someone does have a relationship with a stone, I'd say that neither party has any sense.

Now what does sense have to do with good and bad? Let me use a simple illustration. If I take a little stone and throw it in a lake, would you think that I'm a bad person? Now suppose If I take a puppy and throw it in the lake, what would you think of me then? What about a human baby? What is the difference here? I'm doing the same thing to a stone, a puppy and a baby. It can't be the action which is bad. Certainly if throwing is bad then cricket should be outlawed. It certainly is not the action. Is it the object? Are stones, puppies or babies bad? Certainly not!

But what relationship do I have with a stone? None. It isn't good or bad to throw a stone in a lake. It doesn't matter to a stone what you do to it. It's got no sense! But now look at the cute playful puppy! What relationship do I have with it? Not much. But it does matter to a puppy what I do to it. It does have some sense and it is alive. It does value it's life and does not want to die. That is why it runs away when you hit it with a stone. It does have a will to live. Now if I try to do something against it's will, then there I think the “badness” of the action lie. So when I throw a puppy into a lake, I am doing something to it, against it's will. Imposing my will on it's will.

Now let's look at the baby. Biologically a baby isn't much different from a puppy. Why is it bad to throw a baby into a lake? The case would be very similar to the puppy. I do have a closer biological relationship with a baby than a puppy. Also, a human baby may not have much sense yet but when he/she grows up, he/she would become a human. The highest form of life on this planet. Why? Because only humans reason. Only humans have an idea of right and wrong. But logically and biologically it still doesn't look much different from a puppy to me. But I'm offended with myself that I am comparing a human baby with a puppy. Why? My conscious tells me that a human baby is worth infinitely more than a puppy. But why, I can not answer yet. Maybe there is something more to this world than mere logic and biology.

You might have noticed a sudden change of subject in the last few paragraph from “being human” to “good and bad”. Well, I can not discuss about “being human” without discussing “good and bad”. If you do not agree, read the earlier paragraphs again. It is in human nature to be good. In fact, If one were to replace the word human on the t-shirt with the word good, I think it would still have the same meaning or it would still convey the same message.

It's been a long discussion, let me try summarize the points before I go on.

  • It is in human nature to be good.
  • Humans are still trying to be perfectly good.
  • Humans have an inherent desire for good. (we have yet to deal with this. why is it so?)
  • Good and bad only come to play in relationships.

We yet have one more point to discuss. Why do humans have an inherent desire for good? Being myself a programmer, I can only say that we are programmed this way. By whom? Some say it is nature. Darwinism say that we are product of evolution and natural selection. It says that a long time ago we were all monkeys and then somehow we evolved into humans. But I find two major questions that this theory does not answer. First, where did the intelligence come from. Second, when did we learn to differentiate between good and bad.

Others, myself included, believe that there is a divine eternal being who created the universe and created us humans. I believe that there is a God. Not just any God, but the one who created the whole universe, the God of the bible. Why I believe in him? Because only christianity answers all of my questions and answers them coherently. If you want to ask me specifics or you have any question yourself, you can ask in the comments. I'd rather not go into it because the story of why I believe what I believe is long and personal one and this post is already long enough. Someday I will write about it but not in this post. For, we have yet to reach the conclusion.

So after all that hard work, how does putting God in this matter make any difference? Well, it makes all the difference in the world. Let me tell you what bible says about human beings very shortly.

Bible says that God created humans in his own image, in his likeness. He gave us life. Adam and Eve were the first humans. God loved them. God gave them freedom to choose him or reject him. He instructed them to restrain from doing one thing and warned if they did it, they would die. The humans did exactly which God had forbidden. And that became the fall of man.

This explains our observations much better than Darwinism. It explains why we value a human baby much more than a puppy. Because humans are created in the likeness of God and therefor have much greater value. It explains why is it in human nature to be good. Because we are created in the likeness of God. And God is good. We are not perfectly good because humans have fallen. Because we have fallen we no longer have the same relationship with God as we did before and that is why we feel that we have an inherent desire for good. In fact, the desire is not for good but for God himself. We try to get closer to him by doing good things. That leads us to the last point. Good and bad only comes to play in a relationship.

I could have written this whole post without this last point and it still would have been pretty good. But the reason I chose to include it is because the whole idea of “being human” or “being good” in itself presumes other people. If I was alone in the universe, there would be no good and bad. Or more like, there would be only good. But I would not be calling it good, I wouldn't be calling it anything. You can only be humane to someone else. I think that needs to be stated clearly and explicitly. Because, even after the first three points someone may not see this truth and go on pursuing good things for himself.

So how would one go about really “being human”? Not just wearing a t-shirt but to internalize it. I think the first thing to do, would be to re-establish your relationship with your creator. Then learn from him what you were meant you to be!