Friday, October 18, 2013

Evolution versus God?

I learned of evolution while attending a Catholic grade school in the 6th grade.  The teacher presented the theory of evolution, it's history, and many of the scientific experiments that provided evidence of its validity. We were also taught that the Catholic church believes evolution occurred, but that it was guided by God.  For example, while what appear to be, random mutations, occurred, those seemingly random events where controlled and driven by God.

I've always studied the sciences since I was in first grade.  In fact, while we were learning evolution in school, I was also studying quantum physics, on my own.  In all my studies, I never thought that anything I learned proved or disproved, or even had anything to do with proving or disproving the existence of God.  My Faith in God was not rooted in scientific validation, rather, it was rooted in the life of Jesus Christ and in the Faith experiences, and the effect of those experiences, of so many people throughout history.

It came as a surprise to me then, when I was visiting family members about a year later - family members who were very much into science and engineering (and who would later go on to become engineers) - that they strongly disagreed with the theory of evolution.  I could not understand this because to me the evidence was extremely strong and compelling, and their arguments seemed to be rooted in a perception that evolution somehow tries to disprove the existence of God.  This was my first introduction to the disagreement between those of Faith, and those in science regarding the theory of evolution.

Back to today, I've seen many atheists who promote the idea that evolution "disproves" God, and those of Faith who believe that evolution is not true.  Just recently, I was watching an episode of Through the Wormhole on the Discovery Channel.  The episode was titled Did God Create Evolution?  In it, the idea was promoted that since evolution is a random process, God must not exist because randomness must necessarily mean that no intelligence is involved.  As a result of this flawed premise, the evolutionists and creationists argued over whether or not evolution was a random process.  

Yet, there is another way to look at this that everyone seems to be missing, and that is that evolution has nothing to do with whether or not God exists!  For example:  it's possible that God utilizes seemingly random processes to achieve His Objectives.  After all, humans use random processes in video games (which are essentially human created worlds), and cryptography, to name just two examples.  So it's not like an intelligence can't use randomness, or apparent randomness, in support of a process.  

God is, by the best definition that we humans can formulate, THE Being Who Created and Controls all of existence.  Existence being defined here as including the entire universe, everything beyond the universe (including other universes), and anything else that exists that we can or cannot observe or detect.  By this definition, God must, therefore, Exist Independent of the universe.  So therefore, using any scientific methodology to prove the existence of God is a waste of time, because God is not subject to the laws, definitions, and processes that we observe.  He cannot be corralled by an experiment, unless He Chooses to be.

So, I think that both the atheists and the Faithful need to acknowledge that they are both wrong is this argument over evolution versus creationism.  The fact is:  evolution does not prove or disprove the existence of God. So let's end this silly argument over something that is, by definition, beyond our ability to prove or disprove and instead, deal with evolution for what it is:  a fascinating process that describes the process of how life can come into existence.  For the atheist, this is may be sufficient.  But for the Faithful, it is evidence of the incredible magnitude and scope of God's Will, that He is of such Power and Control, that He could take billions of years to create a universe, and create life, through a very simple and sublime set of laws, rules, and processes.  Furthermore, He is able Maintain these Actions with a level of Discipline and Consistency over time which is beyond our comprehension.  

...and yet he loved us so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to us so that we (insignificant blobs of organic goo) might live beyond this Creation.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How Faith Works

We often find ourselves in despair when times get tough, and it seems like our troubles will never end.  But never forget the phrase “this too shall pass”.  This cliche tells us something about reality:  All things change, nothing stays the same forever.   This is a “law of the universe” so to speak.  It is inherent in the definitional nature of the characteristics of this world such as space, time, matter and energy.  So while there may be bad times, there will always be good times to follow.  Now, whether one will live to see better times in this world or one’s life is uncertain, but eventually, better times will be had my many people and human societies and civilizations in general.

The reason bad times happen is because too many people in a society become irresponsible:  They get lazy, or they don’t handle their money wisely, or they hedonisticly harm others, or they become greedy, self-indulgent, arrogant; the list of our potential flaws is eternal. 

So in order to have good times, people have to address their irresponsibility.  They have to work harder, innovate, invent, handle money wisely, treat others with love and respect, be humble, and live modestly.  When enough people do these good things and more, then, eventually, good times will happen again.

So how do people become responsible?  Is there a law or a process that can ensure such responsibility?  No.  Responsibility always starts with the individual.  Individuals must willingly choose to become responsible.  So how do you become responsible?  Well, you have to first humble yourself and recognize your faults.  “The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one”, the saying goes…

Once you recognize your faults, then you have to fix them.  This can be especially tough.  Many of our faults are deeply ingrained habits and tendencies that we’ve become used to.  It’s hard to change because we don’t want to change.  We’re used to doing things a certain way, and the prospect of doing something different is a frightening challenge that appears insurmountable.  So we need help.  But who’s going to help us?  Can we turn to the mountains and the sky and say “help me”?  No.  Will the squirrels, fishes, and birds help us?  No.  We can ask other people to help us, but how much can they help us if we aren’t truly ready to change? 

The reality is that we must turn to something more powerful.  We need something that we can trust, implicitly.  We need something that can change our hearts and minds.  We need something or someone that won’t take advantage of us, and who can’t be thwarted.  The only thing that matches the bill is God. 

What we do is trust in God, and put the burden of our faults on Him.  In this way, we free ourselves to put the past behind us.   We can let the very Being Who Created the universe reach into ourselves and move us to do what is right.  By letting go of this responsibility, we can look to our future, and we can be assured that we have a future.  In this way, we can achieve complete humility and peace.  Then, we can start to do the right thing, and be responsible people.

This is what we do when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior.  We give our sins to Him, for which He has paid the price, and no longer have to worry about being slaves to our irresponsible nature.  Although that nature may always be with us, in this world, in some form or another, we can trust that through Jesus Christ, this has been overcome, and our new, responsible selves, can come into being.

Then, by having faith, we can allow our hearts and minds to be moved as God sees fit, so that we do the right thing.  By having faith, we pray to God, and we ask him to remove sinfulness from our nature.  We pray to God, and listen in our hearts for the response.  And the response does come.  It comes in the form of our conscience gnawing at us and motivating us to do the right thing, even when our desire may be to do what is wrong.

So what is the responsible thing to do?  Love.  “Love your neighbor” our Lord says.  Love is the source of all responsibility.  When we do things out of love for others, we recognize the path to what is right, and we pursue that path in our actions.  We work hard so that others lives can be better, we innovate new things to make others happy, we take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others.  We love our family, friends, neighbors, and even enemies, so as to avoid being tarnished by any deficiency on our part.  We help those who need help.  So then, when many people start to be responsible, and do what is right, over time, the result is improvement in the human condition. 
This process helps us improve ourselves individually, and the collective result is improved life for entire societies.  If you become responsible, you may improve your own life, depending on the situation, but you’ll also start the process of making life better for future generations, so that others do not have to suffer as you do.  In this way, there is hope for you, and for posterity.  And since faith in Jesus Christ ensures eternal life, you can also be confident, that no matter what, your future will be much, much better.

With such motivation on the part of many people in a society, society can become much better, and, over time, life gets better for the entire world.  We see this result, time and again, over the millenia that when people truly have faith in God, and truly follow His will, societies improve.  When people don’t follow God, and become irresponsible, societies fall.  This is the real world result of the psychological effect of faith.  But is faith nothing more than a head game?

Well, let’s think about it:  If believing in God, and accepting Jesus Christ as our savior improves human society and furthers human civilization over time, why is it things just happen to function that way?  To be sure, we can look at these results and observe that they are just the result of natural processes, but if there is a God, then aren’t these natural processes just an expression of His will?  And so given that such very specific behavior and faith, leads to such prosperity and success as we have enjoyed, isn’t that result evidence that the belief isn’t just in our heads? Isn’t it evidence of the reality of God that the universe appears to automatically function in such a way that a specific belief in God should lead to consistent, long term, positive results?

So with this in mind, we don’t have to accept that it’s just psychological, rather, the fact that this specific psychology leads to actions that lead to prosperity, proves that the psychology is not just in our heads, but is in fact, real.  With this observation, we can now truly be confident that our belief in God is as real and as true as the sky is blue. 

So now let’s go  forward with our belief in God Almighty, and the forgiveness of sins through the real Son of God, Jesus Christ, and be faithful, loving, prosperous and happy, and above all, live, knowing that our path is true.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reconciling Science with Faith

Many have difficulty with faith because they see a world governed by physical laws, theories, and processes whereby things simply “happen” according to the “rules” that we have discerned through science.  Since things happen so consistently and seemingly without thought, many don’t see God involved.  They see that “what goes up, falls back down”, and they ask, where is God?  They see planets orbit around the sun, consistently, according to certain mathematical rules, and they say “These things happen without God doing anything”.  They see the sick, the poor, the dying, and they see that these things happen to those who are “good” or bad, without any apparent discrimination, and they say “Where is God?”  Communist educators in Russia would educate children on this concept by killing a small animal, like a squirrel, in front of class, and then telling the class to pray for the squirrel to come back to life.  When it didn’t, the teacher would say “see, if there was a God, how come he didn’t answer your prayer?”

In order for us to have Faith, we must reconcile what we discern through the realities of the way the world works via science, with what we believe about God.  Because we can neither deny the truths that are discerned through rigorous experimental processes, nor can we deny the truth of our Faith.
To reconcile these perspectives, we must first understand who God is and what God Does:  God is the Creator and Master of all things.  He is the most powerful Being there is or that can be.  

To say that God is all-powerful, or omniscient, is a simplification of our inability to understand such power.  After all, can we, who are nothing more than blobs of mostly organic goo that are animated by a monumentally complex set of sustained chemical reactions, understand what it’s like to be a Being of such power?  Can we understand the perspective of a Being that commanded the entire universe into existence through force of Will alone, without the use of technology or external mechanisms?  Of course not! 

Sure, we can mathematically describe the processes by which the universe works (we think), but when we start to get into the quantum world, or the moment of the big bang, or what happened “before” the big bang (if such a concept exists), only a few can even understand the math, and no one can fully comprehend the realities described.  In our relatively simple, yet miraculous, existence, we cannot experience what it’s like to be in the center of the sun, where temperatures are many millions of degrees, and matter exists in the form of plasma, rather than the atoms we interact with here on earth.  Nor can we experience the true distances between the stars, much less between galaxies.  We certainly cannot experience what the center of a black hole “looks” like or “feels” like. Yet, to believe in God is to believe in a Being that not only Understands these things, Personally, but also Controls such things, and even, Created such things, through force of Will alone.

With this understanding, if we look to see how God works in the Bible, we can observe, in story after story; God Commands, and whatever He Commands, happens, period.  (I won’t get into why the story of creation in the Bible is different from the scientific understanding, here.  That will be another discussion.)  So when God commands the universe to come into existence, we are later able to discern the process of the big bang, but we can’t discern God, scientifically, because God, by virtue of who He is, and the nature of His Power, did not need to use technology or any process to make the big bang happen, rather, He Willed it, and it happened.  What this means, is that when we see the laws of nature, and we discern the processes by which things occur, we make a mistake in assuming that because we can discern these processes without observing a Will behind them, these things must, therefore, just “happen”.  In reality, while it is true that these things happen according to certain discernible laws and processes, there is no reason to assume that they just “happen” without any involvement of a Consciousness.  They could very well be directed and even intimately controlled by a Being whose Will we cannot see.  But what we do observe is the fulfillment of His Will, as expressed by these processes.

And this brings me to my conclusion, and reconciliation:  Science is a reliable process by which we are able to discern the ways in which God’s Will is fulfilled.  Faith is our belief in, and love of, the Being, whom we call God, who Created all things, is the Master of all things, and who Loves us so much that He uses his miraculous Will to create existence.  He made us part of it, and sent his one and only Son to die for our sins, so that we could be saved.  With this understanding we can see that science and Faith do not exclude each other, rather, they are different facets of discerning truth, and God is truth.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Don't Worship Technology

You know, technology has enabled us to do a lot of wonderful things, and live pretty happy and productive lives (if we choose to).  But be carful not to worship technology by thinking that you can't survive without it, or thinking that technology is the solution to everything.  Remember that the solution to everything is God.  Faith in God and love of your neighbor solves problems through God's Grace.  Technology is a gift from God.  Don't worship technology, rather, worship the God who gave it to you.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mass Murder caused by taking God out of our schools?

Today we read, again, the tragic story of mass murder in a school.  We've seen a number of mass shooting events recently, and such events lead us to wonder "what can be done to stop such things".  Proposals abound:  More gun control, more guns, a better mental health system, bad parenting, violence in entertainment, etc.....

One idea proposed by those of us with Faith is that "we've taken God out of our schools and out of our society" and these mass murders are the result.  While I do believe this to be part of the truth, I think it's an oversimplification of the problem.  You see, when people hear this arguement, their natural reaction is "how does taking God out of school cause people to become violent?"  Most of us don't see a reason for this, and therefore such a belief seems to be "blind" rather than rooted in a reasoning which describes the process, or connects the dots from "God in schools" to mass murder.

I think it's important that we go over this "process" of the effect of Faith, so that people understand how it works.  Because once people understand how something works, they can then begin to engage in the process, in a contemporary way.

The first thing we need to undestand is:  What causes this evil does a mass murderer, become a mass murderer?  I believe that mass murderers are people who are mentally/emotionally self tortured in some way:  They may be suffering from psychosis, they may be under extreme pressure due to economic hardship, they may be angry at the world for a variety of reasons, genetic predispositions may be a contributor...whatever the catalyst, the root cause is self inflicted emotional torture.  This torture eventually becomes so great that the person lashes out violently and coldly, in order to draw attention, resulting in murder.  This entire process is founded in a self-centered view of life.  All the person can see is his own problems, with no perspective, and no consideration for anyone outside of onesself.  At it's root, extreme self-centered behavior and a desire for attention born out of extreme narcissism is the ultimate cause.

Frankly, self-centered, attention getting behavior has become the norm in our society.  We all spend loads of time indulging in the worship and obsession over our favorite idols on TV, in the movies, and we worship their characters who all do big, important, amazing things.  We worship our musicians as they entertain us from the stage, glorying in the mass emotional worship of crowds of 10's of thousands.  We indulge ourselves in the constant spotlight that the news media promotes:  everyone wants their "15 minutes of fame".  We constantly post to facebook, tweet, and text message to our "friends" and use our social media to jocky for position in society.  We engorge our agressive desires on violent video games that reward us with the self-glorification of utterly destroying our opponents.  I say these things not as indictments, but as simply a statement of reality.  It is in our biological nature.  These behaviors are born out of desires that are rooted in our basic animal insticts.  Our technology has enabled us to indulge these desires to our heart's content.  It is the way things are right now.

This culture of extreme self-centeredness is bound to result in being a catalyst for pushing a few those who already have an extreme self-centered disposition and/or are subject to real or percieved desperate conditions, over the edge.  So how do we address this problem?  More specifically, how do we create a culture where this self-centered tendency is kept in check?

The key to reducing self-centeredness is to increase selflessness.  Selflessness results in people caring for each other, loving each other, building relationships with each other, treating each other civilly, all because they are willing to subordinate their own personal desires in favor of satisfying the needs of others.

There is a specific attitude that helps increase selflessness, and that is humility.  Humility is the recognition that the world does not revolve around you, nor should it.  A person with a humble attitude recognizes the importance of others, and this leads to love and kindness.  If those who are emotionally self-tortured grow up in a society where those they interact with treat them, and others, with love, respect, and caring, then they will tend to mimic and embrace such behavior because another aspect of human biology (and the biology of life in general) is for us to mimic behavior and adapt to the characteristics of the society we are a part of (it's part of the biological process of "survival of the fittest", where that those who are best adapted to their environment, are the most likely to survive and prosper).  The result being that there will, at least, be fewer incidences of mass murder.  It's also importrant for us to understand that nothing we can do will absolutely eliminate these crimes, as there will always be people who are beyond reach, but a substantial reduction in this madness sure would help.

So how does one assume and maintain an attitude of humility?  The problem with humility is:  it requires one to irrationally subordinate ones own natural, selfish, desires.  It conflicts with our biologically selfish nature.  Yet, without humility, civilization would not exist, because it is through humility that various people over the millenia have made the sacrifices necessary for civilization, and civilized behavior, to survive the trials and tribulations that occur in this world, over time.

The fact is, if all a person believes in is what they see in this world, there is no good reason to be humble, for where is the benefit, to onesself, in nature?  If I humble myself, sacrifice my desires and then die as a result, what have I accomplished for myself? For if I look at death as the end of my existance, then such self sacrifice is downright foolish. I might help my children, or future generations, but what good does that do for me?  I'm not going to be able to appreciate or enjoy what I've done because I'm going to be dead!  Once I'm dead, nothing will matter to me.  It would seem more rational for me to do whatever I have to in order to be able to live as long as I can since this is the only period of existance I have.

This "irrationality of humility" brings us to the point of understanding what Believing in God provides to us.  By Beliving in God, specifically a God that loves us in such a way so as to offer us the opportunity to exist beyond this world, we have reason to be humble.  By Beliving in God one recognizes that the world does not revolve around onesself.  Rather, there is a much more powerful being in control, and so we recognize the reality of our lack of control over our existance and turn to Faith in God to help us get through the tough times.  By Believing in a God that requires us to love each other in order to survive beyond this world, we are motivated to find ways to accomplish this even when there is no other personal, rational, reason to do so.  The Belief in God results in humility, which results in the love, whch results in the self-sacrifice that is necessary for civilization survive it's trials and continue to flourish and prosper.  It is, therefore, a biological reality that the belief in God promotes human civilization, and the selflessness necessary to subordinate our self-centered desires.***

So how does this relate to prayer in schools?  Now that we understand the biological benefit of Believing in God, we can see that the removal of prayer in schools contributed to an environment where children did not learn the thought processes necessary to subordinate their natural self-centeredness.   But did this alone did not cause the mass narcicism we see in our society, rather, it only one area where the belief in God has not been promoted.   The reality is:  we've removed the value of God from our culture.  A person would be hard pressed to find an area of our culture where the true humility, love, and selflessness of Believing in God is promoted.  Simply restoring prayer in schools will not resolve the problem.  In fact, the problem cannot be resolved through government policies because government policies are just a reflection of our culture, which is in turn, a reflection of ourselves.  If our government tries to institute policies that conflict with the culture, strife will result, and rebellian against those policies will achieve the opposite of the intended result.

Many people claim to believe in God, but their actions say otherwsie.  The reality is, if we want reinstitute our society's belief and Faith in God, and recieve the benefits to human civilization that such Faith creates, then we have to live it!  Each of us, individually, has to recognize this benefit and re-orient ourselves to be an example.  If you're not sure how to do this, you might want to read a Bible, or at least read about the life of this one, truely humble fellow, Jesus Christ.  His life provides examples of the ideas, actions, and attitudes that we can incorporate into our lives and, as a result, restore the beliefs that lead to the humility and selflessness that provide the bedrock of support for human civilization.  If many of us do this, over time, not only will these terrible convulsions of murder be reduced, but we'll have a better and happier society as a result of the loving way in which we treat each other.  And then, God will be in our schools, for He will be in our hearts.

*** I know that many will point out how many bad things are done "out of the belief in God".  Note that these evil actions are not performed out of a True Belief in God and obediance to His command to love each other, rather, they are out of a twisted understanding of God rooted in a self-centeredness that is not true Faith.  Expanding on this and explaining it requires seperate discussion(s).  It should be sufficient to state:  I'm talking about believing in what I consider to be the True God.  That is, the God that directs us to "love our neighbor" and even "love our enemies", and tells us "do not judge" for you you will be judge by the way you judge others.