Principles and Good Rules2020 Nov 13
Rules and principles are related by pragmatism. Rules come from application of principles to a context, and then rules can be re-used efficiently. However, this order of precedence must not be forgotten. This is particularly important for spiritual living because Jesus commanded us to live by a value principle of love.
The usual way that young humans are taught to govern themselves is a progression from rules to reasoning. We teach the immature by starting with the concrete and then advancing to the abstract.
Biblical law is related to this teaching progression. Therefore, being governed by law (like for instance the laws in the Old Testament) is for those who not have yet matured.
The Commands of Jesus2020 Nov 8
Jesus gave some commands to Christians. What are we commanded to do by Jesus?
The most specifically clear teaching about this is in the book of John 13-15. There is one explicit command, which is to “Love each other as I have loved you.” The first mention best captures Jesus’ thesis because it also partly explains the reason for the command.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35 NIV
Those who follow this command, and have this characteristic will be identified with Jesus.
Science and the Lawgiver2020 Oct 31
Modern science was birthed by belief in a creative God, a God that is stable and rational. Science has also progressed in parallel to other things that God has revealed to humans.
What is Spirituality?2020 Oct 30
Spirituality (generically speaking) is learning about and becoming involved with the Divine. As a Christian, what does real spirituality look like?
Spirituality (religiously speaking) is often seen as what you do or experience. A spiritual person is often seen as one that does spiritual practices like praying to God, or doing things that show their devotion like praising God. A person is often seen as spiritual if they have particular experiences such as special knowledge being revealed to them directly from God, or if they experience ecstatic or emotional times as they seek God.
However, these things are not what the Bible teaches as being spiritual.
Off-Grid Solar Project2020 Oct 10
A project I have long been interested in was a solar power system. It would especially be useful if the power went out (even though that rarely happens here). I studied and studied my options and finally pulled the trigger on an off-grid design that would support very basic lights and heat in the house.
Initially I had planned to mount the solar panels on the house. In preparation, I re-roofed the house (needed anyway). Previous times I had done the roof myself, but this time I wanted something better than composite (which degrades so quickly). I had an aluminum metal roof installed, and this should last the life of the house. Already the project was growing!
This is a guest post by my son Alan who lives in upstate New York. He put this in the Motus Owners Group page on Facebook about purchasing a Motus Motorcycles bike. It is reproduced here with his permission.
Here begins the story of how I came to own a 2017 MST and the adventures that ensued therein.
Chapter 1: the itch
This story begins a few weekends ago at the wedding of my girlfriend's best friend. She was the maid of honor, which meant we were going to stay for a couple of days afterward so all the old friends could catch up. Turns out, the father of the bride is a man after my own heart - a huge garage full of toys and a litany of stories about things that go vroom. After spending a morning talking cars, motorcycles, and the speeding tickets that sometimes are associated with such things, I got the urge to add to my own toy collection.
Truth, Not Lies2020 Jul 8
Truth about God comes from Jesus Christ, and he taught us that the truth will set us free (John 8:32). Sources other than Jesus do not provide equivalent truth for teachings about God.
A good part of our bible was written before Jesus. Those earlier writers had a limited understanding of God. God progressively revealed himself to people through history. This culminated in Jesus, through his life, his actions and teachings.
If we had nothing but Jesus to learn about God, we would have complete truth. Only that from earlier times which is consistent with what Jesus has taught us, also then is truth.
A Question of Purpose2020 May 27
Life either has meaningful purpose or it does not. That does not mean that there cannot be levels of purpose in something. It does mean that you cannot be intellectually honest and claim that something does not have purpose and later that it does have purpose. Unfortunately the evolutionary biology literature does claim both.
A Matter of Scale2020 May 13
I wrote about our trampoline in A Good Bounce and the imagination of freely going up to the moon. Clearly gravity can be conquered. I have evidence for this because it is a fact that I regularly overcome gravity with my trampoline bouncing. It should be only a matter of scale to go around the moon. Couldn’t a moon bounce therefore be as much a fact as gravity is a fact?
This, however, is wishful magical thinking. Some things that might seem to be a matter of scale are really in different categories.
Neo-Darwinian evolution tells a similar type of story.
A Good Bounce2020 May 13
As we shelter in place during this time of COVID-19 social distancing, I have been very grateful for our trampoline. A trampoline was a fun toy during the time my kids were growing up. Now that our grandkids are spending the days with us, our second trampoline has become as much a tool as a toy.
The kids haven’t been able to play with their peers many of these days, so adults have to stand in for play. I notice that they will drop anything fun they are doing to jump with me. The three of us bounce together (carefully) - sometimes we (usually me) give a bounce to others, sometimes we (usually the kids) get a bounce from someone else.
The Atheistic God2020 May 4
Everybody explains cosmological and life origins in terms of their preferred god. For some the god is a being, for others the god (effectively) is a non-living mechanistic process.
If scientists observe consistent patterns of some sort in material objects, they are trained to look for some natural law that would produce the effect. This effort is at the core of hugely successful modern science. It is established on an assumption that the effect of natural law is to mindlessly drive natural processes toward preferred patterns.
It is surprising to me, but many materialistic evolutionists also hold a theological viewpoint related to this.
The Multiverse God2020 May 2
Life on this earth is highly unlikely. The universe and our earth are so finely tuned to support life that they are inexplicable on physics; the origin of life is so complex and integrated that it is inexplicable on nature; and human consciousness is inexplicable on biology.
Our existence is so improbable that naturalistically we should not exist. The statistics are so completely against us that no one sanely tries to justify our cosmological origin by chance and natural causes.
An idea called the multiverse therefore has been suggested as a mechanistic solution for our existence. In this speculative thinking there are infinitely many universes, and we just happen to be in one that was just right for us to exist. Our just-right Goldilocks world out of the many is what let us evolve into conscious beings who then notice that we are here and wonder about it.
There are serious problems with this thinking:
In biological reproduction, a mixture of DNA from the parents produces variations in the offspring. Genetic programming uses concepts similar to this.
Genetic programming mixes the “DNA” of versions of software together with random variation to produce successive generations of software. Each new version is tested to see how it ranks against others. The best instances are retained and then used to make new versions. This genetic programming class of methods can evolve blocks of software from randomness towards function, and they have been found to be pragmatically useful in certain fields.
These software environments were invented in an exploration of ideas from evolutionary biology. They have been suggested as demonstrating the validity of evolutionary concepts. However, even though the idea for genetic programming may have come out of Darwinian ideas, genetic programming is never Darwinian.
What would Jesus do?2020 Apr 14
There has been a popular bumper sticker question, “What would Jesus do?”. I found this question to be frustrating.
I have never met Jesus physically, and so how could I get to know him well enough to predict what he would do? I had no way to know what jokes he would laugh at. I couldn’t know him well enough to know what foods he liked. From this perspective the question isn’t even answerable.
Fixing buggy human hardware2020 Apr 12
Our pastor had a great illustration from the tech world in today’s Sunday message: * Being human is like having a tech device with buggy hardware.
We may have had the experience of buying an electronic device that did not work correctly because it had a defect in the hardware. We might be able to sometimes avoid the problem by carefully using the device, however this could never make the problem go completely away. The maker might push out minor updates to the software, and these patches might make the issue seem a bit better. However, the patches wouldn’t make the problem go away. The hardware still would be trouble to us.
Then later the maker came out with a brand new version of software for our hardware. After we installed the new software, the problem we had continuously lived with was gone! We might keep worrying about the old problem re-appearing, but no, it works OK. Of course we could still choose to use our device in a wrong way and make a problem, however we are no longer forced to live with the old issue any more. The brand new software fixes the defective old hardware! It’s such an unexpected gift and a real relief.
We are like that defective device.
The Probability of Life2020 Mar 27
It so happens that we exist alive here on earth. We also find ourselves asking questions about the origins of life and our environment. How did this come to be? Could our life have occurred on earth due to natural random processes? If that were so, then probability would be involved; that is: probabilities would have made life possible. Is it reasonable, however, to think our existence happened by chance?
A useful way to think of this is to imagine the universe itself had always been searching for life. The chances of life occurring in this universe however are finite. What then are the probabilistic resources available to our universe that could account for whether it could discover life? Was life inevitable, or was it implausible?