The Trap of One Thing

For past few weeks I’ve been involved in a debate in one internet discussion forum. The subject is, “Why do people believe in God?”. Since, I am a believer, I thought, let’s join in. Let’s see what happens. So, I presented my reasons in a simple manner. Starting from the cosmological argument, then to the intelligibility of the universe, then history and finally my own experience. However, since I entered the discussion, it has really heated up. However, what I get asked for a LOT is the scientific evidence of God’s existence.

Now, as I see it, the phrase “Scientific evidence of God’s existence” is a paradox in itself. Since, science has made it’s business to explain things, to give evidence of God’s existence in scientific terms requires me to explain God. But this is impossible. So, the next thing I get asked for is a bit more reasonable but equally unreasonable plight to provide the evidence of a miracle. This again, can’t be done without a miracle.

Why? Because miracles are miracles. Miracles do not happen in a pattern. If they did, we wouldn’t call them miracles. Miracles are the things that science can not explain. So, to provide evidence of a miracle, one must predict where a miracle is going to happen and then record it(in a video or picture or something) or hold a public exhibition and call all the skeptics let it happen right in front of their eyes. In the first case of video or a photo the skeptics will most probably say, it is faked.

However, the second scenario, God wouldn’t allow. That is because he has given us free will and he won’t violate it. Thus, he won’t take any person in position where that person is forced to do something (in this case, believe in something) without their own will. Because of these two reasons, atheists can claim that there is no evidence of a God. But that’s not true. The right way to say is this: there is no evidence of a particular kind. The kind that will force people to believe in God.

So, now that little prelude is aside, I want to get to the heart of the issue that I think is the problem. What’s the problem here? What’s going on? This whole thing is so complicated that I’m not really sure if I can really express it adequately so that you can understand. Still, I will try. I think, the problem is, people have trapped themselves in a single kind of mentality which they believe to be true. That’s the core of the problem. Now, let me go into the details a bit.

There are certain groups of people that identify themselves with a certain kind of methodology. For example, atheists. They put a great deal of emphasis on reason. For them, everything must be reasonable. And for that part, I totally agree with them. However the problem arises when they limit their sources of information. The main source of their “reason” is the scientific methodology. Test things in test tubes. The findings must be independently confirmable. The conclusion must be verifiable.

All these things have their use. I’m not denying that. That’s the definite way to go to do science and to further our technologies. However, when one bases a whole worldview on a single methodology, it comes up pretty short handed. That’s why atheists have immense problems when they get in any debate about morality. Very few atheists acknowledge that. However, that’s not the point I want to make here. The point I want to make here is, why do atheists have problems? It is because they rely on a single specific methodology for their information, and the evidence for their arguments.

Still, atheists are not the worst when it comes to applying a single methodology in everything they do. They are still reasonable enough, and I believe, honest atheists will eventually find God in some phase of their life. Their problem is much less severe than other group of people I’d like to talk about. Atheists have only limited their ways to find out the truth, and the way they have chosen is an adverse one, to say the least, for the reasons I described above about the evidence of the miracles. Nevertheless, at least, they do not jump to complete contradictory conclusions. That is the trademark of the other group I want to discuss.

The other group is, new age believers. The people who believe in the methodologies of new age spirituality. They all practice similar methods to reach the… um… spiritual state. To be one with the universal conscious(am I using the right word?). The peculiar thing is, they also believe in complete relativism. Everybody practices the same things. However, everybody can come to their own conclusions. What’s moral for me won’t be moral for the person sitting next to me. And then they have this nonsensical conception of truth. Everybody has their own truth. Everybody must find their own truth! How? Using our methodology. Is there any guarantee? Nope.

Again “new agers” believe in their methodology. The thing that is completely mind boggling to me is that how can someone trust a methodology when it produces complete contradictory results? Still those who believe it have accepted the methodology as the truth. I think this is the most dangerous thing our generation has fallen into. The trap of one thing.

Why do I think it is dangerous? Because it is the complete opposite of what bible teaches. There is only one truth and you can come to that truth using many different methodologies. Take philosophy, history, cosmology… Personal experiences. Everything points to one truth. Not different ones. Because atheists have limited their point of view to a mere scientific one, they have created hindrances for themselves when they try to find the truth. However, in new age spirituality, the complete opposite is happening. There is only one methodology, and a lot of truths.

In the discussion, “Why do people believe in God?”, one of the main reason for me to make it long and touch on different topics was, to not make it one trick pony. I was pretty sure that it will be challenged. So, I made it broad enough so that it doesn’t get stuck in a single field. Because, if that happens, the argument will be one sided. And in my mind, winning an argument in a single field doesn’t amount to much. It’s like um… one trick pony. It does only one trick. However, except that trick, it does terrible at every other trick. I didn’t want the discussion to be like that. That’s the weakness of getting trapped in a single field. It becomes a one trick pony, good at only one argument and terrible in every other argument.

There is also one advantage of being able to confirm something through multiple fields. Every time a thing can be confirmed through multiple methodologies, there are less chances of it being wrong. If a thing can be confirmed by only one methodology, there are pretty good chances that it can be wrong. However, if it is confirmed by two, then the chances of it being wrong drops down. With three, even more so. And on and on… So, if a thing can be confirmed by multiple methodologies, there is very little chance of it being false.

However, the problem is that the current generation doesn’t understand this. When I provided my reasons, they were pretty much overlooked and the thing I was asked for was “positive non-circumstantial evidence”. And since I could not provide it because of the reasons given above, all my other reasons/arguments didn’t held any value! This came as a bit of shock to me.

I think this generation has reached a point where it is preoccupied with a single thing and is ignoring all the other things. The people around us believe anything that is told to them in the name of science. It doesn’t matter if it’s science or not. Just because it’s labeled as science, it must be true. However, we as christians must not fall into this trap. We must confirm our beliefs by multiple means. And we must never, ever, be preoccupied with anything other than Jesus.

Internet, information and biases

Warning: This is a radioactive braindump. Reading further might hurt your brain.

Now that’s aside, I’d like to talk about one of the things that I’m biased about. I’m biased about biases. My bias is, everyone is biased. And, there are right biases, wrong biases and ugly biases. So the first question that comes into my mind is, what the heck does these terms mean?

I’m going to assume that everyone knows what is bias. If you don’t, then go and look it up in the dictionary. Any definition I provide here, will most probably be, biased. However, nobody knows what these three curious little terms I just threw up means. So, the definition I provide for them will not be biased. Why? Because I invented them! Let’s look at each one of them…

Let’s start with the last one. Ugly biases. Let me give you an example. Here. What’s that? Well, it’s an lorem ispum generator. It’s a piece of unreadable nonsensical text that some very sensible man invented centuries ago. I use it as a dummy text for the websites that I develop. However, there are wide variety of lorem ispum generators in the backwaters of the internets. In the world of lorem ispums, nothing makes sense! Because, it’s not meant to make sense! Still, I prefer the one that I have linked. Why? The answer can be found on the same page that I have linked. In the answer of question “Where can I get some?”. Supposedly, that is the “first true generator” on the internet. Thus it “truly” doesn’t make any sense! Ironically, that’s a good thing.

So, here comes the definition. Ugly biases are the biases, where the things that you are biased about are not even worth being biased about. Still, you make a big deal out of it. Like… umm… me.

Now, let’s look at the other two. I’ll deal with them at the same time because they are kind of interdependent. Right biases and wrong biases. Well, there’s nothing to them. They are simply the things that you are biased about. I call them right biases and wrong biases because they are. It would be easy to understand if we take a simple example. Suppose there is one argument. Two sides are fighting. One is right, other, obviously, wrong. Let’s call the right side x and the wrong side y. Now, I enter the picture.

I don’t even understand the core issue. Let aside, the two sides of the argument. However, I do like the way that one of the guys talk. So, I’m on that side of the argument. Why? Because, I’m BIASED. Now, there are two possibilities. Either, the side that I’m rooting for is right, or wrong. If it’s right, then, my bias is right. If it’s not, my bias is wrong.

You know what? Completely disregard what I have said up to this point. There are no right or wrong biases. Biases are biases. Biases, by the nature of being a bias, can’t be right or wrong. Anyone who says otherwise is biased about biases. And while you’re at it, you can as well read the first paragraph again.

Hmm.. If you did read it again, you might have noticed that I didn’t talk about the first part of my bias. Which is, “Everyone is biased”. I stand firmly behind my statement. I say, my bias is a right bias. I know your brain is on the brink of explosion. So, I think it’d be good if I come to the point now.

Look at the title of the post. Where are you? On the internet. What is this supposed to be? Information. What you are really getting? BIASES. That’s the whole point of this blog. I think I have sufficiently made my point. I will not make this longer than it needs to be, but there are certain things that, I think, contribute to this.

One is personalized search. Search engine “Bubbling”. If you don’t know, see this: Filter Bubble(wikipedia)

Other is social networks. ’nuff said.

If God knew man will fall, why did he create us?

Today, in the ICPF cell group, there was one question raised that I had already dealt with in my mind. But haven’t documented the answer anywhere. Writing helps me refine my thoughts and give a structure to what is otherwise, like a maze. A maze only I can solve. Because I created it. And nobody can look at it, because it’s inside my mind. However, since I haven’t documented the answer, the answer to this little question was like a maze in my mind, and when this question was raised, I did answer it, however, wasn’t able to answer with the clarity I would have liked to answer with.

But, let’s get into the question. Sometimes I am surprised that more people don’t ask this question. It’s really simple. Why?? If God knew that man would disobey his command, and will fall, why did he create us in the first place?

Let’s take the last part of the question and then work backwards. Last part is, “Why did he create us in the first place?”. Well, I can’t say that I know. How can my feeble and finite mind understand the will and the plan of the infinite I am? However, there is one aspect that he has revealed to us. It is not the only reason, but, it is one of the reason. And that is, to have fellowship with us.

So, God wants to have fellowship with men. Why? Because he is a personal being, and, like every person, enjoys a good company. He wants to have relationship with us. When Jesus came into this world, he made it pretty clear that he loves all of us. He wants to have a relationship with each of us. A relationship that is based on love. However, problem is, robots can not love. So, for love to be possible, one needs free will. One can not be programmed to love.

However, when free will comes into the picture, there is one more thing that needs to come into the picture. That is choice. If I were to say to you, you can choose any one thing you like, however, there is only one thing to choose from. Can that proposition give you any freedom? It’s no different then saying, here, choose this. So, the same kind of problem would arise in the Garden of Eden.

When God made humans, he had fellowship and love in mind, but for love to be possible, free will is required. For free will to exist, there needs to be a choice. So, to provide humans with free will, and in the end, make love possible, he restricted Adam and Eve from doing only one thing. If God hadn’t commanded them to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, it would be like, you can do whatever you want, and all of it is according to my will. There isn’t a real choice for you. You are trapped with me forever! But, God didn’t want that kind of love. He wanted genuine love. The kind that existed in the trinity. So, God says, you can do whatever you want, however, you must not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. If there wasn’t that single constraint, there wouldn’t be any real choice, if there wouldn’t be any choice, there wouldn’t be any free will, if there wouldn’t be any free will, then there wouldn’t be any love. If there wouldn’t be any love, then, the creation wouldn’t serve the purpose for which it was created.

So, the whole thing hangs on a branch of a particular tree. That single fruit held the fate of whole humanity. We know the rest of the story, so, there isn’t any point in describing what pretty much everybody knows. (If you don’t know, read the chapter 3 of Genesis).

Now that we understand a little bit of why genesis is the way it is, and why free will must exist, and why it was, at all, possible for humans to rebel against God, let’s go back a little bit in the question. Did God knew man will fall? As far as I understand it, the question can be answered in 2 ways. Yes and No. Yes, because he is omniscient and knows our future and everything that we are going to do. No, because he gave humans a free will and free choice to choose whatever they wished. So, it could have gone either way. I know the last two statements are very confusing and thus, I will try to illustrate it as best as I can.

Suppose, you saw a movie. Say, the latest Spiderman flick. Your friend hasn’t seen it. But you have. So, you know how the movie ends. Your friend doesn’t know how it ends. So, you can actually “prophecy” to your friend about how the story ends. But, your “prophecy” doesn’t affect the story writer of the movie. You can only “prophecy” because you have seen the whole movie. In the same way, since God is outside of time, God can see the whole movie, the whole universe from it’s beginning to it’s end. He can write your whole life story in a book on the day you are born. Not because he has predestined it, but because, as you are outside the movie, he is outside of the time and see the whole story. Just as your words do not alter the thoughts of the story writer of the movie, God’s words won’t alter your story. You are the writer of your own story. He has made you free and you are indeed free. If you want, God will certainly guide you into the right path, but what he won’t do, is force you.

However, now that we’ve taken a little detour to explain the paradox of God’s omniscience and our free will, let’s get back to the matter at hand. Now we are nearing the conclusion.

If God knew that humans will fall, why did he create us in the first place? Because it pleased him to do so. God is certainly not foolish enough to do things recklessly. I know that he must have counted the costs. If he knew everything, then, he must have also knew that if man falls, what a great price he would have to pay to save him. The very hand that formed the hands of the very first man, knew that one day, this very hand will hit him, will scourge him, it will drive the nails into his hands and feet and will drive a spear into his heart. And indeed, the question is very sobering one. Why exactly did he do it?

I think, he did count the cost. And, he gave much more value to us than we give to him. Even though we are inferior to him, he regarded us valuable enough to die for us. He was prepared to carry the cross before he laid the foundation of the world. He calls us as the apple of his eye. He created us because he loves us. Even before you or I existed, God loved us. He loved us enough, that he chose the cross.

Ideas are Bulletproof

But also elusive.

I have been thinking of writing to this blog more often, but I also want to write those things in awesome way! And these two intentions of mine, contradict each other. If I write things in awesome way, it takes a lot of time for refinement and finding the right words. So, I tend to post less often. However, the problem is, I have ideas in my head popping up everyday and now I have list of different ideas to write about. In that list, there are about 15-20 items… Then, there are some ideas which have fallen into the endless void of my subconscious because I wasn’t able to record them when I had them… How can I deal with this?

I looked at the list of ideas to write about, and I see a pattern. There are some ideas that are great, and there are some that aren’t great. So, I’ve decided to do something sensible (for once!). I have decided to keep the great ideas for the “Essays” category, and I have created a new category “Ideas” for blogging the not so great ideas. That way, I can just blog about an idea without refining it much. Keeping it in a raw form will help me reduce the time to write down that idea. Thus, I will be able to blog more often.

The great ideas and other things that I really think about before writing will go into “Essays” category.

So, that’s it.

Super-duper charged Gnus with Gwene!

You might have read my previous post about Yahoo! pipes. However, they weren’t working out as I thought they would. Gnus was still taking up a lot of time to start up. So, I thought, there must be some other way to boost the start up time. I looked around and tried to find out what other people were using. After reading this transcript a couple of days ago, and reading curious little mention of Gwene, I decided to check it out this on Saturday. And so I did.

There were a few RSS feeds that I wanted to get news about but weren’t on the Gwene list, but I just added them. In couple of minutes they were populated, and ready for me to subscribe via gnus. So I invoked command:

gnus-group-browse-foreign-server

And there it was. Staring at me, the long list of all the different feeds that are tracked(is that the right word?) by Gwene. I subscribed to the ones that I wanted using “u”, and then closed the server buffer. Then, I restarted my gnus to see how fast it starts. I must say it is definitely an improvement. A significant improvement.

I looked at a few feeds and to my surprise, now I can see images from inside emacs! Amazing, it must have something to do with the protocol. However, I’m very happy with Gwene and Gnus now!

Word of God

In a recent ICPF cell group, I was given a chance to give a message. I thought for a while on the subject and thought about what I should speak. After some thoughts, I decided on the topic of “Word of God”. What is it, and why should we study it. Then I thought, now that I have compiled this, it might be useful to someone somewhere if I put it on the internets! So, here it goes:

Food

Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (ESV)

1 Corinthians 3:1-2 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, (ESV)

Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

  • Attributes of food
    • Strengthens you.
    • Enjoyment
  • Appliance
    • Eat it!

Mirror

James 1:22-25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (ESV)

  • Attributes of mirror
    • It tells you how do you look.
    • Word of God tells us how do we look in the eyes of God.
  • Appliance
    • When we see that we are wrong somewhere, it’s our responsibility to correct ourselves.

A double edged sword

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (ESV)

Ephesians 6:17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (ESV)

  • Our only weapon!
  • Attributes of sword
    • Cuts through things
  • Appliance
    • Use it! Everybody has their fair share of problems. Use the word of God, promises, in these circumstances to overcome them.
    • Prayer

Conclusion

There are multiple advantages of reading the word of God.

  • Helps us to know God
  • It strengthens us
    • Helps us strengthen others Just as an older kid can take care of a younger kid.
    • Brings you closer to the church
  • It corrects us
    • Helps you in your relationship with God. Brings you closer to God. How much you can walk according to his will depends on how strong you spiritually are.
  • It protects us

Basically, it helps liberates us from the bondages of this world, helps us fight against it, and helps us move closer to God and his body, the church.

Quiet time

Take a small passage from bible. Ideally one single incident about 7-8 verses… Read it 2-3 times and then, ask following question, write down your answers and apply it into your life

Aspect method

  • A: About God
  • S: sin
  • P: promise
  • E: example
  • C: commandment
  • T: teaching

Inductive bible study method

  • Observation
    • Who?
    • What?
    • Type? e.g. historical, poetry, narration, letter?
    • When & where?
  • Interpretation
    • Why? Why is it mentioned? What’s the core issue?
  • Application
    • How does this passage apply to present situation?
    • How can I learn from this passage?
    • How does this apply to me personally?