Archive for April, 2008

The Human Race in its Teenage Years

April 12, 2008

After spending time, recently, with my teenage grandchildren, I am reminded of all the things that made me pull my hair out as a parent of my own teenagers.  Teenagers absolutely know everything.  They insist they don’t need anyone.  If they don’t know something, they’d rather look it up on the internet or try to figure it out on their own rather than ask an adult.

I was appalled when I drove my granddaughter to a party, and she wanted me to drop her off a block down the street, because she didn’t want her friends to see her with me.  I am told its not cool to be seen with parents, or any other adult relative.  I guess the teens like to fantasize that they don’t have parents and have just always been here, never born, never babies.  They seem uninterested in anyone’s wisdom or experience.  As Will Rogers said, “Some people can learn from the experiences of others, but most have to touch the electric fence for themselves!”   Teens are sure nothing will ever happen to them, and their favorite saying is “I KNOW!”  They are so sure they know everything, they bypass, ignore or refuse to believe anything that doesn’t fit their preconceived ideas of whats cool.  They want no rules, no restrictions, no responsibilities, but if they really get into trouble, the screams for a bail out are unbearable.

What really hit me, as I was returning home, is that teenage behavior toward adults looks like much of humanity’s behavior in relation to God.  We humans insist we have all the answers, or will have, if we just work a little longer.  We have a mindset about what the world is like, and we won’t acknowledge the truth of anything that doesn’t fit our preconceived ideas about the universe.  We are sure we will one day control the whole thing.  The very idea that something got us here, or nurtured us, is abhorrent to us.  We aren’t thankful for anything–we’re sure whatever didn’t just evolve, was of our own making.  We don’t acknowledge God, don’t seek wisdom, and don’t want to acknowledge anything beyond what we understand and control.  Yet, when we fall off our scaffolding, we insist somebody is going to bail us out, somebody is going to pay.  Thats where the lawyers come in, but don’t get me started on that.  I’m sure God is slapping his forehead, wanting to hurry us on out of this stage.

Nonni

Why Be a Christian?

April 8, 2008

 

Christians are hard pressed to come up with selfish motives for being followers of Christ.  We serve a God who is not a genie.  He doesn’t serve us; we serve Him.  We trust Him with our lives, but as He says, our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways are not His ways. What He calls good is not always what we would choose for ourselves.   He is the God who says we are to leave everything and follow Him, carrying our cross—the instrument of death.  We are to die to ourselves and live for Him.  We are subject to Him.  In short, He is not the kind of God we would invent for ourselves, if that were what we were actually doing.

 

We trust Christ’s promises for the next life—but that trust certainly involves risk, as the future is unknown to our senses.  We surely have to examine the evidence and believe Jesus is truly God, based on that evidence, for we are risking everything.  Ironically, those who have chosen to truly follow Jesus (not all who call themselves Christians have a personal knowledge of or commitment to Jesus) are the happiest people on earth.  The other irony is:  we don’t choose Him as much as He chooses us.  We can’t draw near Him without His drawing near to us.  Our faith is confirmed—sometimes nearly immediately, by the subsequent experience of His presence in our lives.

How Can Children be Atheists?

April 7, 2008

I just got back from 2 weeks with my great grandchildren, and what a refreshing time it was.  I love how simple and honest children can be.  They strip all the fanciful veneer right off us.  We think we’re so many wonderful things, and they see right through all our hypocrisy, see all our vulnerabilities, and even manage to love us anyway.  No wonder Jesus said we had to be like them to even see the Kingdom of Heaven.  Adults have too many prejudices, too much pride, and too many blinders on.

The kids say things like–“why don’t you talk to me in your telephone voice”, meaning, how come you can yell and me and then pick up the phone all sweet.  They will tell the embarrassing truths about you, the ones you hoped no one would notice.  I love the story, I forget who told it, about the little boy who was totally unruffled about evolution.  When the speaker asked, how could God create a world in 6 days when its obvious the world is millions and millions of years old?  The little boy answered “Easy, He put it on fast forward.”

Kids do a number of things atheists could never do.  First, they expect order.  In fact, they absolutely demand it.  One of my little great grandsons has a tee shirt that says:”Feed me or nobody sleeps.”  Thats truer than true.  Kids expect to be fed, cleaned, and to have their discomforts fixed.  No random processes for them, and random processes are the only explanation left for the atheist who rejects the very idea of design.  Second, children learn to talk and all you hear (and all I heard for two weeks) is why? why? why?  They will take your answer trustingly, even if you have to fudge a little because you really don’t know.  What you can’t do is say “I don’t know”,  you certainly can’t say to them “There is no answer”.  No, you’d never get away with that one!  Science can tell us “what”, it can sometimes tell us “how”, but it absolutely can’t tell us “why”, and that was the child’s question, “why?”  Third, children have an almost exaggerated sense of justice.  You hear constant complaints of “No fair!”  “Thats mine!”  and so on.  You can ask them to work it out themselves, but you can’t tell them there is no fairness in the world, or that nothing belongs to them, really, or anything else that implies there is truly no justice in the world.  They just won’t buy it!  Now justice requires moral order, and in a random universe with no design and no God, there is no moral order.  The very idea that humans make up their own morals shows there is no justice, and no fairness, because the strongest of the humans will be the ones who make up the legal system.

I suggest if you really want your children to grow up atheists because their significant adults (we can’t say Mommy and Daddy anymore, can we?) are atheists, you should prepare them for living in a random universe.  You should buy five or six jigsaw puzzles, open all of them, pour them into a big bag, shake them all up, and then divide the shaken up pieces among the empty boxes and give them to your children.  It won’t make a picture, and the pieces won’t fit, but tell them to make their own meaning out  of it.  Then make up some puzzles with no solution.  (I’ve seen some Sudoku puzzles that feel like this).  Let them hack away on those for awhile, and then tell them to make up their own solution.  This will prepare them for the real world as you, the adult see it.   You had better be prepared, they will ask you “why?”

I Laughed at the Hound of Heaven

April 4, 2008

I laughed at  the “Hound of Heaven”

God chasing a human soul

Down the corridors of the years

How quaint?  How droll?

 

I lost God when I grew up

The very idea preposterous

All God is good for

Is controlling the masses

 

I am not one of the masses

I saw through it all

I am the master of my fate

I am the captain of my soul

 

How liberating, how eye-opening

How exhilarating, how breathless

I make my own rules now

I am capable of fine ethics

 

I make my own life better

Pleasure should never be denied

I never use another person

Without their consent implied

 

I’m far too intelligent

No entangling alliances for friends

Together while two have pleasure

Broken bonds when the pleasure ends

 

I will be all that I can be

I’ll be as rich as I can be too

Fame, if it gives me happiness

Achievement will see me through

 

I’ll be the richest and the best

I’ll drain erotic joys to the dregs

Liquor and drugs if they feel good

But not enough to wreck my larger quest

 

I have a doubt now and then

In the small hours I feel a shudder

But there are so many reasons to disbelieve in a maker

I am brilliant in how many I discover

 

I love to argue with believers

They are so unable to defend

Against my brilliant premises

And I can invent arguments without end.

 

Still I am getting older now

The erotic drives have slowed somewhat

I am amazed at how fast the time has gone

It isn’t fair what the years have wrought

 

I’m angry at my ebbing strength

Its one thing over which I can’t rise

Biology, damn biology

I can’t control my inevitable demise

 

So I will live faster and faster

More passion for the time I have left

More comfort, more pleasure, and then

Nothing to leave me bereft

 

Stupid Christians make me so angry

Claiming I must bow to their god

What has he ever done to help me

Should I sacrifice ME to their fraud?

 

I am all there is

I get the time that is left for ME

Sometimes God invades my dreams

But in daylight I realize I’m free

 

Today is all there is

I am but flesh and breath

I will make my own life

I will decide my own death

 

I am the master of my fate

I am the captain of my soul

When it becomes too painful

I will decide when its time to go

 

One day I got the message

A month or two was all that was left

I had a whirlwind four weeks

Then with the bullet I controlled my death

 

Far, far in the darkness I floated

Where in the world was this place?

I wondered what was in the drugs I took

To insure I’d sealed my fate

 

I floated up to a brilliant place

How inviting the music and light

“But have you ever worshipped Jesus?”

I was sure my mind was not right

 

Never! I shouted to no one

I am the captain of my fate

I am the master of my soul

And I kept floating away

 

On and on until the light was but a speck

It was dark and silent like night

It seemed I’d finally stopped drifting

All I could see was the miniscule light

 

I thought I heard the music

But it must have been in my mind

I wanted to again see the people

But all I saw was the tiny light

 

I looked for my arms

I felt for my heel

Nothing was there to see

Nothing was there to feel

 

Then the thirst rose within me

A fire I could feel but not see

I can’t say it was in my body

I could feel no physical me

 

The fire raged within me

It was lonely out here in the dark

I longed for pleasure to sustain me

There wasn’t even a spark

 

I longed for companionship

There was no one for me

I longed for occupation

There was none to be

 

Only silence, darkness and that damn speck of light

I was alone, no one else, only me

No comfort, pleasure or other

I had the one thing I wanted most—ME

 

This cannot go on much longer

The fire within was a blaze

I wanted to go back to the light

And I feared it might be too late

 

I wanted this nightmare to end

I wanted the gun again

I wanted control of my life once more

Control had come to an end.

 

The Way to Heaven

April 4, 2008

Nonni wrote this last year.

“I had an interesting experience the other day when I attended a military retirement.  Even though I had a pass to get onto the installation, when I got to the building which was “secure”, I had to have an escort to bring me into the room where the ceremony was to be held.  The escort had to be responsible for my being “clean”, meaning it was safe for me to be there–safe for THEM!  Now I am a very harmless looking elderly lady, no matter–all are treated the same.  We have to be made clean (stuff left behind, etc).  I thought of how this is an illustration of what Jesus said about being the “way to heaven”.  “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except by me”.  We can’t just walk into heaven either, because none of us is “clean”.  Heaven is a secure place–no evil allowed there–not even imperfection.  Jesus has to make me clean, then escort me in.  And He promises to do that if I agree to go in with him.

What Came First?

April 3, 2008

I’ve often wondered how an atheist goes down the path of atheism.  Do young people set out to discover for themselves the truth concerning God’s existence, examine the evidence and decide the preponderance of the evidence weighs against the existence of God?  Do they then, facing the existential loneliness, comfort themselves with their newfound freedom from any external restraints and at least enjoy that exhilaration?  Or do they, like many adolescents, highly resent any external restraints on what they want to do, throw them off, and then find intellectual arguments against the existence of God?  At least one agnostic admits to the second way.  Aldous Huxley, a man who sought after many things except God stated:

“For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation.  The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality.  We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust.  The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world.  There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt:  We could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever.”  From Ends and Means

Evolution of the Senses

April 2, 2008

Another of Nonni’s ideas:

I was just wondering about the evolution of hunger and thirst.  These sensations alert us to do something about fulfilling a real need—for food or water.  I wonder about the other hungers that seem almost universal: the hungers for the eternal and the transcendent.  Every society in recorded history, as well as societies examined by archaeology, has had these two hungers.  They have all worshipped something, and they have all desired an afterlife.  Whether providing for their deceased relative’s afterlife, or writing about their wishes to see their loved ones again, this hunger is universal, crossing every culture.  Whether manufacturing idols to worship, or philosophizing about the nature of one God, every society worships something bigger than the individual human.  I just wonder if those two hungers aren’t in man for ultimately the same reason hunger and thirst are in man: they point to a need that is supposed to be filled.  Augustine of Hippo thought so.  He said: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”..

 Submitted by Michelle

Atheism not Innocent

April 1, 2008

I’ve been reading bits and pieces from the currently famous atheists.  One of the arguments is that religion, if allowed to have influence, is bad for people and has led to mass murder in its subjugation of people.  Often mentioned is the Spanish Inquisition, which is the one of the more famous cases of mass murder.  I would like to include some numbers about mass murder committed by avowed atheist regimes. I am excluding wars from this comparison, because wars are often started for reasons that have more to do with power and conquest, and religion may be manipulated as a way to gain the cooperation of the masses.  So we will just consider mass murder for the present.

I will exclude Adolf Hitler from the discussion.  He was a psychopath, and it was very difficult to unravel what his religious beliefs actually were.  They either changed constantly, or his statements were simply made to suit the occasion.  Hitler, however, was not the biggest mass murderer.  He was responsible for 9 to 12 million mass murders.

The biggest mass murderer was undoubtedly Chairman Mao.  Varying sources estimate the numbers of his own people killed (democide) to be between 37 and 67 million.  He was undoubtedly an atheist.

Next in line would be Josef Stalin.  Estimates of his democide range between 20 and 40 million.  He was also an atheist.

Pol Pot killed between 1 and 2 million of his people, and Kim Il Sung of North Korea killed around 2 million of his.  They were atheists.

The Spanish Inquisition took place between 1476 and 1834, when the government would execute people for heresy.  Approximately 2000 people were killed by the Spanish government for heresy during those 358 years.

War, as I said earlier, is a different issue, and there are usually multiple reasons for every conflict, apparent and not so apparent.  While religion may be given as a reason, ethnic conflict is more often the real cause.  It is a fight by two groups for control of land or resources, a power grab by one of the groups, and all the usual reasons societies fight one another.  Nobody has a monopoly on starting wars–mankind itself stands guilty from as far back in history as we are able to go.

 This was an article Nonni wrote about a year ago.

Contributed by Michelle