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23

Jun

(Source: fuckyeahmoleskines)

cross-connect:

Artist Samantha Keely Smith paints breathtaking abstract landscapes that resemble the swirling waters of the ocean. Using oil paint, enamel, and shellac, Smith builds up multiple translucent layers of color, alternating between soft brushstrokes and large, sweeping gestures to evoke crashing waves, surging tides, and stormy floods.

Via 

// Selected by Sunil

22

Jun

07

Jan

(Source: dorrismccomics)

07

Oct

No, you won’t find any science in the Bible. That’s because science was invented in the 1600’s.

You won’t find science in the Magna Carta, the American Constitution, your Maths textbook, nor in the records of World War I and the American Civil War. You won’t find any science in the Leviathan, the Odyssey, the works of Shakespeare, War and Peace, nor in Kafka’s novels. There is no science in your political representatives’ campaign leaflets.

Thousands of the most important books and knowledge throughout history (and still being written today) do not have a scrap of modern science. That doesn’t make them “false” or “irrational” or that they have no place in our society. 

Science does not set out to be the ultimate truth. Science does not hold the monopoly of rational thought. 

That’s like saying a pair of pliers is the only tool required and all others are petty and inferior. There is scientific knowledge, but there is also logic, history, mathematics, politics, ethics and philosophy. And yes, there is theology too. Sometimes you need a hammer and a saw too.

10

Sep

desertmanian said: The Revolutionary War is one reason we’re big on the right to bear arms haha

Makes sense, I suppose. However, I’d have no issue if someone wanted to own a 1700’s rifle. They take about 20 minutes to reload…! I don’t think the 2nd amendment is exactly relevant for today’s weapons :/

What about Iowa’s new ruling that blind people are allowed guns? I would say banning a blind person from having a gun is perfectly acceptable. Just as banning a blind person from driving is acceptable. I think there should/must always be restrictions for safety reasons when it comes to guns and cars and other very lethal things. In the UK, you can get a gun license and I know a fair few people who own hunting rifles. 

 

Guns

As a Brit, I reeeeeeally don’t understand gun culture or why Americans argue for the “right to bear arms”. I particularly disagree with “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. 

31,672 people were killed with firearms in America alone in 2010. That is a staggering number! According to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center a gun in the home is more likely to be used to commit suicide or to threaten or kill an intimate than used to deter an attacker. Each year in the USA, the average number of under 14 yr olds killed by guns is 72.

In America, there were 11 gun fatalities where a three to five year old pulled the trigger (from Jan. 1 to June 9, 2013). There were 10 non-fatal shootings by toddlers aged two to five years old. 

So is the only way to stop a bad toddler with a gun is…. what exactly?

Interested to hear some views on this controversial issue!

Predestination II — Problems

Continued from here.

1.  If God is determining every aspect of our lives, are we free and do we have free will?

Aha. Now here is where things get tricky. I have already established that the Bible states that God “determines” all things, and all things occur from His purpose. Here is what I reckon is going on.

Free will is the idea that when we do something (count to ten, blow a raspberry, commit fraud etc) we chose to do so because we have the power over our own actions and decisions. It is our choice, and not someone else’s. 

A robot does not have free will. If you don’t know anything about computer programming, don’t worry. The general idea is that computers follow the instructions “if…., then….” So the robot may be programmed: “if collision with wall, then reverse”. The robot does not choose. It responds. When I program the robot “if identify a bank, then rob the bank with deadly force” then the actions of the robot are my doing and I am to blame. In the same way, a knife or a gun is not responsible for murder — the wielder is. 

Imagine I hooked you up to a computer and programmed your nerves like the robot with the command — “if you see a policeman, then steal his hat”. In that case, I am at fault; you were merely following the electrical current travelling through your nerves.

But hang on. Every single action, thought and emotion we have are merely “electrical current travelling through nerves”. When you choose to throw a punch this is the result of neurons firing in your brain. Memory, emotion, thoughts, movement. Maybe you had a troubled childhood, maybe you were taught to punch well, maybe your history with the other person has made you really irrational. All these factors and so many more are the way you’d make “a free decision”. 

This is especially true if you believe in materialism. Materialism is the idea that the world is governed and constructed by physical matter and energy alone. This is the assumption we make when we’re doing science and the view atheists take (usually).

In that case, it is not just neurons firing that govern your decision, but on a smaller scale the movement of atoms and electrons and energy waves etc. One atom hit another and made it accelerate. Emotions, feelings, thoughts, memory.  An action you “freely made” is like the final domino falling after a long line of cause-and-effect. That line goes all the way back to the beginning of the Universe, when the first bit of matter got the first jolt of energy.

So hang on. (If we are still assuming materialism) a criminal is accountable when he commits a crime, but is not accountable if his brain was programmed to commit a crime by a crazy computer engineer. Surely all of it boils down to the movement of atoms. Where do we draw the line of accountability? 

This is a huge question for ethics. As a rule of thumb, a free decision governed by internal stuff (memory, thoughts, feelings, emotion, sensations). A decision governed by external stuff (a gun to your head, deceptive circumstances, electrodes in your brain) is not free. 

That’s when we assume materialism. What happens when we bring God into the picture? And as we said before, He determines all things.

So rather than the inevitable line of random atoms being in charge, God is in charge (and He uses atoms and energy to achieve this, in my opinion).

God knows everything. He can very literally see all the atoms moving around, right back from the start of time until the moment you put your head on the pillow tonight, and to the distant future. And just in that way, He has watched us make every decision and done every action. And He has designed the Universe to allow that to happen. The flow of atoms are His choice. He knew from the moment the atoms started moving that they would lead to your conception, your life, all your memories and emotions and all the decisions you will make as a result.

So you see, you are free. Your free decisions are based on your experience/thoughts. They are a knee-jerk response from your unique brain. God does not work against our wishes/choices, but still everything happens as he determined perfectly. Because He knew our wishes, how we would make the decision… everything. 

This is a very complicated argument, and I hope it in a small way make sense. I’ll pause here as this is already very long, but there will be another section that may clear things up further. 

Predestination.

Dedicated to donono, who asked about this very complex topic! 


As a short answer, I believe strongly in predestination. I believe God has determined every aspect of our lives, for both believers and non-believers. 

I make this assertion because the concept of predestination is repeated clearly in the New Testament. Here are some of the key words:

"πρόθεσιν" (prothesin) meaning "purpose" 

ἐξελέξατο (exelexato) meaning “chosen”

προορίσας (proorisas) meaning “predestined”

There are many verses, but here are two to consider:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 ESV (bold added)

 

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

2 Timothy 1:10 ESV (bold added)

 

Ephesians 1:4-14 is a nice reiteration.

 

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace  that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment — to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Seems like an open and shut case…. but some problems arise when predestination is in the picture. 

1. If God is determining every aspect of our lives, are we free and do we have free will?

2. If we don’t have free will, how can we be held accountable for our sins?

More soon!

08

Sep

The actions of Christians and the teachings of the Bible do not often correspond. People are imperfect, are selfish, are led astray, sin, and break the rules. Using law-breakers to demonstrate the weakness of the law is self-defeating.

That Tricky Word: “Faith”

What is faith according to the Bible? Hebrews 11:1 is an excellent verse but the limitations of the English words are masking the full statement.

“Now faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

What does “substance” mean? The Greek word is hypostatis, which can mean the substance or an entity, but it also means a setting under or support (foundation), confident expectation, an assured impression and a mental realizing.

Literally the Greek of Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the reality of things being hoped for, the proof of things not being seen.” 

 Now, this is the kind of definition of the faith we use everyday. You get in the car and drive on faith. You don’t know if you”re going to make it to your destination alive or not, but you go. You have faith that the food you buy that is grown by strangers is not harmful, so you eat it. You have faith that the doctors you see are competent. So you put yourself in their hands. If you did not have faith, if you did not trust others you wouldn’t be able to drive, eat, or get help in times of sickness. Your life would be very difficult.

That’s not all. The Bible has lots to say about the results of faith. There’s the end result — salvation. However, there are also continuous results, which are also described. Here’s a selection of verses which talk about these.

Ephesians 2:8-9, We are saved by faith. — FINAL

 Rom. 1:17, We live by faith. — CONTINUOUS

 Rom. 4:13, We receive righteousness by faith. — BOTH

 Rom. 5:1, We are justified in Christ by faith — BOTH

 Rom. 5:2, We have access to God’s grace by faith. — BOTH

 2 Cor. 1:24, We stand firm in our belief by faith. — CONTINUOUS

 Gal. 3:14, We receive the promise of the Spirit by faith. — CONTINUOUS

1 Tim. 1:4, We do God’s work by faith. — CONTINUOUS

Gal. 5:5, We wait for the return of Christ by faith. — FINAL

Amongst many, many, many things, I’ve been to Singapore! There was a lovely polar bear in the zoo and they gave him a fish to hunt. It was rather blood-thirsty. RIP fish.

Amongst many, many, many things, I’ve been to Singapore! There was a lovely polar bear in the zoo and they gave him a fish to hunt. It was rather blood-thirsty. RIP fish.