Archive for June, 2012

I Predict the Future Will Happen

June 22, 2012

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad consider:  God has made the one as well as the other.  Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.  Ecclesiastes 7:14.

 

The hardest thing humans have to deal with is the unknown.  Now there happen to be quite a few “unknowns” we have the ability to figure out, like scientific discoveries, math equations, medical research, and other things along those lines.  However, much to our chagrin and discomfort, we still have no failsafe method of predicting the future.

Following the argument Solomon presents about man’s place in creation I get the feeling we aren’t allowed to know the future more than it being a problem of ability.  The reason God “predicts” the future is because (as C. S. Lewis postulated) He lives in the eternal “now” and time itself is a dimension of creation which He invented outside of His own existence.  Humanity is subject to time even if we subtract death and become eternal.  For us life happens in the linear sequence of events and thoughts, growth and development, and I don’t think this was changed after the fall to what we know now.  What changed for us is our relationship to time as a factor in our existence—we ended up with a limited amount of life instead of the original design of eternity.  And, the only reason to measure the quantity of something is because there’s a limited supply of it.

Yet even with eternity as an option our “now” did not include the past or future but whatever thought or action we found ourselves doing in the moment.  How the past remains a part of our existence therefore is merely in memory; how the future becomes a reality is in the way we prepare for it through choice—planning won’t affect the future unless it includes choices in preparation.  We will always be living in the future for every moment in the now was only a possibility the moment before.  So in some ways we dictate that future by either the habits we develop over time or the choices we make in the now.  Our “now” is limited to the moment we are in, whereas God’s now exists in a completely different dimension outside of our grasp.  Knowing He lives in this alternate dimension is easy to acknowledge, what it is or how it forms around Him is the mystery.

If we look at the future as an equation, which many in the stock market attempt to do, it works like a theorem—if a + b = c, and c – e = d, then (a + b) – e = d; d is now the unknown factor in our equation.  So attempting to predict all the variables gives us a sense of the future.  Since God made all the variables, He, even without His ability to see the whole thing from outside, could predict the outcome with better accuracy than humans.  We see a limited number of variables and almost always forget one, if not more, in our calculations.  It’s tough to be an analyst because one must look at trends to set precedent for the predictions.  If the trends are headed one way but the market’s dark underbelly is another, then unless that analyst knows what’s brewing under the radar (which is doubtful) they will fail in their forecast.

Some things are predictable by behavior alone, such as smoking will increase the possibility of cancer; drinking to excess will most likely lead to alcoholism, etc.  Yet these by themselves are not guaranteed outcomes for there will always be exceptions to the rules.  One man I heard about when I was a kid lived to be approximately 120 years old and his daily regimen was strong whiskey and cigars.  The average person would have ended up with either lung cancer or liver failure if they had consumed one or both of those over just a 50 year lifespan let alone 120.  So behaviors can predict general outcomes (the future) but are not guaranteed as cut in stone.

God (and I’m referring to the Jewish-Christian deity) doesn’t want us making decisions based on forgone conclusions, fear, psychic readings, confidence or behavioral patterns but wisdom drawing from a well of knowledge.  Anything else is suspect at worst and merely a good indication at best.

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The Creator of All or Nothing

June 18, 2012

Consider what God has done:  Who can straighten what He has made crooked?  When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider:  God has made the one as well as the other.  Therefore a man cannot discover anything about his future.  Ecclesiastes 7:13, 14.

 

For a long time, reconciling God—as opposed to reconciling with Him—took most of my time, due to the education we all get as a part of the general popular teachings of Christendom.  In most instances it was pretty simple to deal with things I didn’t understand in my youth because experience in the course of time opened up my heart to grasp them.  What haunted me is the possibility God might have created evil, and that just didn’t reconcile with the God I’d been taught to believe in.

It also didn’t seem to resonate with New Testament theology at all, which is probably why many theologians dismiss Solomon’s assertions as a lesser understanding of the truth about God—a theology which believes in progressive enlightenment.  My problem with this latter reasoning is that what is said in Ecclesiastes has to either conform to God or the whole book must be removed from the canon.  It cannot teach us truth while simultaneously teaching us lies and be of God.

I am more convinced than ever it should remain.

One reason is that Jesus quoted from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in His own teachings.

The other reason I’m convinced of the spiritual validity of this book is conclusions about life Solomon draws from the facts he sees around him.  Our key verse above pronounces something quite profound if we give it a chance, which is:  God made everything that exists—even the bad.

Let’s take an example from technology.

When an electrical engineer designs a computer they place all sorts of fail-safes in the wiring to protect it.  The software engineers then go to great lengths to ensure no programming other than what the computer is designed for will be accepted to protect its purpose.  By default of design, whether they set out to do so or not, they build into very nature of a computer not only its purpose but how it can be destroyed.  Each chip can be struck with a hammer or touched by a magnet and rendered useless.  While the designers may not have intended for a hammer to hit the chips, or any part of the unit for that matter, the fact they manufactured a product out of silicone coated metal and plastic ensures a good hit with any blunt instrument could destroy or damage it.  Therefore these very creative people by default built into their device the means of destroying it as well as using.

Of course, some see my rationale above as a “duh!” moment, thinking it a forgone conclusion and therefore not worth mentioning.  Unfortunately, we don’t live/reason/argue in community together as if this rationale were reasonable or a forgone anything.  In fact, we tend to argue the other way—you know how the argument always goes “if god is love, then why….” …or, why are there starving children in the world?  Oh, I know another one, why is there oppression?  Oh, oh, I know, why does God allow suffering?

All of these are legitimate questions without an easy answer to them, since the people asking them are usually more interested in voicing their frustration over listening to anything remotely positive.  On top of this type of attitude there’s the constant question as to whether or not there really is a God or Creator period.  All of us have been in arguments where the other person or people refused to hear our side of the discussion, basically ignoring any answer we give and generally harping on one point as if it answered all ours.  By comparison it’s like a pet objecting to taking flea medicine or pooping outside to us, or a child who complains about how hard his or her life is when asked to clean up a mess they’ve created.  If we acknowledge our part in the problem, our questions tend to be deflecting our responsibility by yelling about God’s “mistakes” as if He made us to be evil.

We created the mess.  We continue to mess up our world, relationships and grasp of reality through faulty reasoning.  Faulty conclusions based on even good evidence generally fail to take into consideration our part in making the mess in order to blame it all on God.  My favorite argument (to be read with dripping sarcasm) is:  “If God doesn’t like me like this, how come He made me this way?!?”  …Bad reasoning based on a myopic, slanted reading of the evidence.

If we subtract God from our equation in any form, the choice will work like a divergent line in a geometric drawing.  *insert graph of choices here*  It might seem obvious to some reading this but for some reason we don’t act like it is.  We argue against God by asking some very good questions without any desire to dig deeper into the discussion in order to find an answer.

By default God created sin.  If sin is a choice against God by choosing to live in even a small way outside His design, then that small directional choice will arrive somewhere other than God intended.  It would be like aiming at a bull’s eye from 30 feet away and being just one degree left or right of center.  That small angle would determine a miss for the dead center of the target.  God created every angle we could use; every choice possible came from His inventive mind.  I believe this is why so many religions and modern minds believe in either a dual natured god or none at all.  Because evil exists it stands to reason the god or entity which invented what we call “creation” would therefore own both natures.  Such an argument is completely reasonable without the existence of Jesus.

The moment Jesus enters picture as incarnate God, sent to reveal the mind of the Father, another completely different picture emerges forcing us to draw another conclusion.  If, as James claims, God cannot do evil nor be tempted by it, then all we’re left with is the conclusion the state of creation as it stands today is our own fault.  We misused His resources and truth, justifying our actions with ignorant arguments based on the best we can come up with outside of referring to the authoritative Word on the subject.

When I look around the world I see the devastation and disharmony everywhere.  Sure there are pockets of peace and community, but mostly I just see problems either in development or full blown disaster mode.  My conclusion is, of course, based on my best estimate of what all of this means according to my perspective.  I study the Bible with a certain bias (which would take too long to write down here) and filter, both of which affect the way I reason it out.  I can’t say I’m right in my conclusions except to declare these are best I can come up with at this moment in my journey.  The fact is, none of us are without this bias, no matter how “objective” we think we are.

If God has made us to live in harmonic sexual monogamy, then choosing to break or change the boundaries of our sexual expression will result in all sorts of divergent combinations.  Saying God made us to do this is misunderstanding Him not necessarily wrong as a conclusion, for if He created us in pairs of male and female, it stands to reason stepping outside His design will result in all sorts of other pairings.  Since He created all possibilities, all the other choices come from His design by default.  Sure there are limited ways to express our sexuality because the objects or life forums available are limited, but that still leaves a multitude of ways to be sexual outside the plan.  Arguing we were born this way might be a fact of nature, though that “nature” is the consequence of a choice made many generations before us.  The current studies on genetics suggest our state of being depends on the programming of our ancestors.  In other words, a great, great, great grandpa consumed certain mind altering substances or practiced a specific habit then produced children with one or both of those programs written in his genes.  As a result we might end up with food allergies, alcoholism tendencies or a host of other conditions and habits.

A study of adopted children demonstrated they not only carried the physical traits of their biological parents but practiced many of their habits as well.  Just look up studies identical twins separated at birth and we see not only are they identical physically but often mirrors (meaning what the reflection in a mirror does to any image) or echoes of each other.  This is not by accident but design.

Now this genetic truth doesn’t dictate the future, though it does indicate how we will choose to occupy said future in some way.  We won’t necessarily be dictated to by our genes because the environment influences us as much if not more.  Yet we cannot deny the truth of programming in ourselves either.

So by creating something to operate within certain parameters an inventor or manufacturer also sets up a host of choices outside the planned operation procedures by which the creation might be used.  If God creates all the options, then every choice had to be created by Him too.  What we choose to do with His creation depends on whether or not we accept the manual.  If we do, we will proceed to study it in order determine how best to navigate all the possibilities.  If we don’t, we will experience the natural consequences of going outside the boundaries of our design.  Just because there are options outside the fence doesn’t mean we have to choose them; but once we do, we cannot blame God for the results.

God names the results of rebellion pretty clearly and considers any choice against the boundaries to be such.  Even if He created what is outside the boundary, it doesn’t mean He intends for us to choose it.  Freedom dictates choices; choices dictate options; options must be tied to the boundaries in order span the possibilities.  Yet just because something’s possible doesn’t mean it should be acted on.

An illustration to expand on that last sentence:  Gravity exists as a means to tie us to earth and keep us from floating off into space.  Yet its very existence offers the option means of suicide exists as well.  A tall building exists within the parameters of gravitational forces thus rendering it a tool of our death if we use it as a jump off point.  The attraction of gravity meant for a positive outcome is not being used for an evil one.

So this is why I believe God created both good and evil and how it’s possible for Him to do so.