A Gospel for Non-Religious Minds

Luke 1:1-38

Introduction

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things [a]accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning [b]were eyewitnesses and [c]servants of the [d]word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having [e]investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been [f]taught.

Birth of John the Purifier Foretold

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named [g]Zacharias, of the division of [h]Abijah; and he had a wife [i]from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both good in the sight of X, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the X. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in [j]years.

Now it happened that while he was performing his scientific service before in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the scientific  office, he was chosen by lot to enter the laboratory of the and mix chemicals. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were in solemnity outside at the hour of the chemical mixing. 11 And an extraterrestrial of the appeared to him, standing to the right of the station of chemicals. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the extraterrestrial , and fear [k]gripped him. 13 But the extraterrestrial  said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will [l]give him the name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the X; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the presence of the UFO [m]while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the their X. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the incorrect to the attitude of the good, so as to make ready a people prepared for the X.”

18 Zacharias said to the extraterrestrial, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in [n]years.” 19 The extraterrestrial answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who [o]stands in the presence of X, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”

21 The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the laboratory . 22 But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept [p]making signs to them, and remained mute. 23 When the days of his scientific service were ended, he went back home.

24 After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she [q]kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, 25 “This is the way the X has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”

Xp’ Birth Foretold

26 Now in the sixth month the extraterrestrial Gabriel was sent from X to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin [r]engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the [s]descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was [t]Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, [u]favored one! The X [v]is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The extraterrestrial said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with X. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Xp. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the X will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the X will give Him the authority of His father David; 33 and He will preside over the house of Jacob forever.” 34 Mary said to the extraterrestrial , “How [w]can this be, since I [x]am a virgin?” 35 The extraterrestrial answered and said to her, “The UFO will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the [yperfect Child shall be called the Son of X. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and [z]she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For [aa]nothing will be impossible with X.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the [ab] subordinate of the X; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the extraterrestrial departed from her.

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 1:1 Or on which there is full conviction
  2. Luke 1:2 Lit became
  3. Luke 1:2 Or ministers
  4. Luke 1:2 I.e. gospel
  5. Luke 1:3 Or followed
  6. Luke 1:4 Or orally instructed in
  7. Luke 1:5 I.e. Zechariah
  8. Luke 1:5 Gr Abia
  9. Luke 1:5 I.e. of priestly descent
  10. Luke 1:7 Lit days
  11. Luke 1:12 Or fell upon
  12. Luke 1:13 Lit call his name
  13. Luke 1:15 Lit from
  14. Luke 1:18 Lit days
  15. Luke 1:19 Lit stand beside
  16. Luke 1:22 Or beckoning to or nodding to
  17. Luke 1:24 Lit was hidden
  18. Luke 1:27 Or betrothed; i.e. the first stage of marriage in Jewish culture, usually lasting for a year before the wedding night. More legal than engagement
  19. Luke 1:27 Lit house
  20. Luke 1:27 Gr Mariam; i.e. Heb Miriam; so throughout Luke
  21. Luke 1:28 Or woman richly blessed
  22. Luke 1:28 Or be
  23. Luke 1:34 Lit will
  24. Luke 1:34 Lit know no man
  25. Luke 1:35 Lit the holy thing begotten
  26. Luke 1:36 Lit this is the sixth month to her who
  27. Luke 1:37 Lit not any word
  28. Luke 1:38 I.e. female slave
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How Darwinian Assumptions Impede Scientific Progress

My observations are those of a philosopher thinking about the assumptions of Darwinism. The assumptions discussed here are random mutation, natural selection, and survival of the fittest. I like to use the concepts of “fortunate imperfection” and “practical accumulation” to describe these assumptions, and to summarize the characteristics of objects of nature (in Darwinian terms) as “fortunate accumulations”.

When scientists study objects of nature, particularly living objects or organisms, if they are true to Darwinian assumptions, they will expect to observe fortunate, unfortunate, practical, and impractical characteristics.

One example is the production of fixed-wing aircraft inspired by observations of flying creatures, such as

 birds. At first glance it may appear that humans have discovered the essential (fortunate and practical) characteristics of flight (e.g., fixed wings and air speed) by observing flying creatures, while ignoring what are assumed to be the non-essential (unfortunate and impractical) characteristics (e.g., feathers and flexible torsos). There is often a hidden or subconscious assumption that objects produced by humans are superior to objects produced by nature, since the mechanisms and processes of human production are assumed to be superior to those of nature. However, in the example of flight it turns out that certain characteristics such as feathers and flexible torsos are decidedly NOT unfortunate or impractical. They are in fact essential to the advanced flying capabilities of hovering AND gliding exhibited by humming birds but not by helicopters.

It is only when ALL characteristics are assumed to be essential and that objects of nature are NOT necessarily inferior to those produced by humans that advanced flight technologies have been developed. The scientific model that allows for these assumptions is Intelligent Design.

 

Posted in apologetics, design, invention, philosophy

Imagining Reality: A Theory of Knowledge for the Arts & Sciences

Check out my new booklet on Epistemology:

http://www.amazon.com/Imagining-Reality-Theory-Knowledge-Sciences/dp/1495331881/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391543625&sr=1-2&keywords=imagining+reality

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Recent Objections to the Cosmological Argument

In recent online discussions about the Cosmological argument for the existence of God, there are two objections that got me thinking hard because they both touch upon key points of the classical argument that need new clarification, and because I realized that if I were an atheist or agnostic, I would consider these objections to be great stumbling blocks to becoming a believer.

The first objection, the “temporal realm” objection is that the terms exist and cause are not applicable beyond the temporal realm.  Part of the problem has to do with the fact that these terms have more than one meaning or connotation.  Exist has the technical meaning within our experience of “interact with like things in a temporal environment”.  It also has the meaning of “having reality” as in the example of mathematical concepts such as the concept of a number having reality.  Cause likewise has the technical meaning within our experience of “being part of a chain of causes and effects in a temporal environment”. But it also has the meaning of “explanation” as in the example of my scooter being black.  It is black not because I painted it black, but because I purchased it black. “[P]ainted it black” has the first meaning of the term cause and “purchased it black” has the second meaning.

Beyond semantics, the term cause seems to require special further explanation, since we are dealing with the cosmological argument, the key concept of which is cause.  I am impressed by two answers to the objection that cause is not applicable beyond the temporal realm.  Consider the first “thing” that ever existed in the temporal realm.  Since the first thing is clearly part of the temporal realm, it is appropriate to speak of its being a cause or having a cause.  But as soon as I begin to think about the cause of the first temporal thing, I realize at once that it must have a cause, and that the cause cannot be temporal, since that would mean having a temporal thing before the first temporal thing. Therefore, if the first temporal thing is to have a cause, which it must, that cause must be eternal. But suppose we have instead an infinite chain of things (causes and effects)? In that case you cannot have a first thing, but you cannot have any present things either, since there would need to be an infinite number of previous things before the present things, in which case the present things never become present!

The second objection, the “ex nihilo” objection, states that since something cannot come from nothing, God cannot create something from nothing. If something coming from nothing is inconceivable, then it is inconceivable for God to create something from nothing.  But God did not create something from nothing.  God was there.  And it is conceivable that God created the universe “ex notitia” (out of information – ideas contained in the mind of God).  This would be in keeping with the gospel of John chapter 1:1-3, which it states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  So now we have God creating out of information (ideas contained in the mind of God).  Now those who believe in the transcendence of God (I am among them) might object that this reduces to pantheism, since it makes creation a part of God.  Actually, it makes information  (ideas contained in the mind of God) part of God’s creation.  But God remains transcendent, since the mind is transcendent and independent of its ideas.  Also, if information  (ideas contained in the mind of God) is part of God’s creation, this is in keeping with Acts 17:28, where it states, “…in him we live and move and have our being.” And, Colossians 1:17 where it states, “…in Him all things hold together.  Christians have always maintained that the universe could not and did not come from nothing, since God was there. This is the true understanding of creation “ex nihilo”.

Posted in apologetics, philosophy

Thoughts About Epistemology

Awareness is first of all the immediate intuition of perceptions and conceptions. Perceptions are sensory impressions and conceptions are rational impressions. Examples of sensory impressions are my awareness of the chair I am sitting on, and the computer I am writing on.

Examples of rational impressions are logic, mathematics, and language. Reflection upon these impressions validates and strengthens them. This happens when a posteriori experience is used to reflect upon my conceptions and a priori conceptions are used to reflect upon my perceptions.

Conceptions and perceptions are thus on equal footing instead of in competition for epistemic status, and reflection upon them serves to validate and strengthen them, instead of imposing artificial categories upon them.

Upon reflection, I realize that sensory perceptions are of temporal objects, while rational conceptions are seemingly eternal or unchangeable. Further refection leads to the realization that temporal objects are dependent upon something eternal, while rational conceptions are not.

I am aware of having conceptions of my perceptions, as when I consider that individually perceived chairs participate in the concept of “chairness”, e.g., having four legs and a platform to sit upon, etc.

And, I am aware of having conceptions of conceptions, e.g., when my concept of the number 1 is added to my concept of the number 2 to get my concept of the number 3, or when my concepts of cold and wet are conceived in the concept of snow.

Sooner or later, I may reflect upon my own temporal existence long enough to realize that I am dependent upon something eternal, perhaps something that is not discontinuous with my rational conceptions of logic, mathematics, language, and the like.

Posted in apologetics, philosophy

Acknowledging Causality is the Beginning of Faith & Wisdom

Working backwards through the statement above, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” according to Psalm 111:10a.

Romans 1:20 is familiar to most of us: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

But verse 21 is even more interesting: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

So, the “fear of the Lord” seems to be closely connected to one’s willingness to acknowledge and give thanks to God.

Hebrews 11:1a is familiar is familiar to most of us: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

But verse 2 is even more interesting: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

In other words, faith is the acknowledgement, recognition, and understanding that “if something exists, something eternal exists”. The first example of faith amounts to the Causal argument for the Existence of God!

If faith is the first step toward the “fear of the Lord” (willingness to acknowledge and give thanks to God), and the first example of faith is the Causal argument for God, then acknowledging Causality is surely an important aspect of the beginning of faith and wisdom.

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An Argument for the Existence of God from Singularity

singularity

  1. Temporal things are temporal because they exist in space and time.
  2. Temporal things require an eternal cause.
  3. An eternal cause is eternal because it exists outside of space and time.
  4. Temporal things exist.

            Therefore, an eternal cause of temporal things exists.

When we look back in space and time, we see a singularity that appears to come out of nothing because space and time were created in the beginning along with other temporal things. But since nothing comes from nothing, a cause must exist for these things. A cause that is outside of space and time is thus considered eternal, and thus, uncaused.

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