In the beginning was God and God was all.Is that how The Bible begins? I really don't know. I don't have a copy handy. And I'm not going to bother and find one so I can look it up.
Besides, when it suits my purposes, I sometimes quote the same line as:
In the beginning was The Word and The Word was all.But since it works better for my argument (in this particular instance) for the quote to be about God (rather than The Word) or to assume The Word is synonymous with Our Dear Lord, I will do that.
And the important thing to note in all that is:
God comes first.Hey! That reminds me of another saying.
God comes first.But if that saying has anything to do with this rant (maybe, I should call it The Sermon) at hand, it comes way later on at the end when I veer off into morality.
Others are second.
God comes first.This is a Christian belief. And if it's not a belief consistent with your brand of Christianity, I'm certain is consistent with some brand of Christianity. Which is to say, I think it is a fair accusation of the beliefs of the faithful... not that there's anything much accusatory about saying:
God comes first.It's a simple sort of saying.
I like to believe, it's easy to understand.
And it's a lot like a logical proof:
But for now, we're going to skip the second and third lines of that saying (as they really have nothing to do with this essay), and concentrate on that first line:
Given that God Comes First: Given that Others Come Second: Then, I'm Third.
God comes first.Which in the context of Logical Proofs is (sort of) synonymous with:
In other words, given a belief in God, given a Universe in which God exists, then what can we know about that Universe?
Given God: Then...
I suppose we need to start with what God is.
Sorry, I don't know.
But a popular definition runs along the lines of:
God is Omniscient (i.e. all knowing, all seeing).We might call that The Triad of Power. I mean, it's hard combination to beat.
God is Omnipresent (i.e. everywhere).
And finally, God is Omnipotent (i.e. all powerful).
God knows everything, sees everything, is everywhere, and can do anything.
Sure, Santa Claus knows whether you have been good or bad, but God has that power in spades; and then, some.
Moving on, here's a riddle that I like to use to help one (say, a mere human) wrap their mind around the Power & Glory of God (assuming He has the powers outlined above):
Riddle Me ThisSome folks like to bang their head against that question. 'It's too heavy, but He can lift anything. Still, it's something He cannot lift.' And round and round they go.
Given that God is all powerful, can God create a rock so heavy that even He cannot lift it?
But the answer is amazingly simple.
Let's try another question.
No need to continue. The answer is Yes!
'But wait! You didn't let me finish the question.'It's a beautiful little short cut. God Can Do Anything. It's simple, beautiful, and easy to understand.
'I don't need to. God can do anything. So, whatever the question, the answer is yes.'
And because God Can Do Anything, I have a hard time understanding any Fundamentalist Fervour over the exact age of the Earth, whether or not evolution is a thing, or really... anything.
Given an Omnipotent God: Given the Truth of the Bible: Can...
Can is easy.
The answer is always yes.
But Does He?
Well, that question is a bit harder, because once you've (or I've) given God a magic wand by which he can do anything, figuring out what he did (or will do) is a bit harder.
Given God: Is...
Not no one!
Some folks like to think (Fundamentalists, I'm guessing) that the Truth of the Bible helps somehow. But it doesn't.
The Bible is subordinate to God. God is all powerful. As such, The Bible drifts away into fluffy air by way of guidance, as to what to expect out of an All Powerful Being like God.
Besides, The Bible was written thousands of years ago, in a different language, by folks who thought radically differently than we do. I mean, I don't know if the author's of The Bible even knew what logical proofs where.
And there's no help to be found in saying The Bible was written (or inspired) by the Hand of God, as none of us are reading from the original and it's pretty easy to introduce mistakes (deliberate or otherwise), while translating, updating, and/or typesetting a book.
But you know, that's a complicated enough subject that I will save it for another day.
Suffice to say, I believe that a belief in God is self-sustaining, that there is no proof (whatever that might mean) that a true-believer would accept for the non-existence of God.
And certain forms of non-believers find themselves in an equal but opposite position.
As a child, I read the Skeptical Inquirer and was a fan of James Randi. Eh, I might have either of those names wrong. No matter. The important part is what I took away from them. And what I took away from both of these sources (along with countless others like them, even if I don't remember their names at the moment, so I can't give them a shout out) was a thing called Skepticism: basically, extra-ordinary claims require extra-ordinary proofs.
As a class (and as I define it), Skepticism concerns itself with debunking stuff. It's not a positive philosophy, so much as a negating one.
'You say this house is haunted? Then, prove it.'And they (once again, as a class) were extra-ordinarily good at ripping other folks proofs apart.
'You say this Faith Healer performs a miracles? Then, prove it.'
'You say you can turn Water into Wine? Then, prove it.'
It was a joy to watch, a joy to behold. I found the entire excise quite fun. And it made me feel that by agreeing with the Skeptics, I was on the winning team.
It's no surprise that I found myself slowly being eased into (and drawn over to) the Scientific Atheist Community.
I was calling myself an Atheist.
I still do.
Of course, if spending my morning writing what is clearly a religious tract is not clear evidence of a belief in a Higher Power, then likely nothing is.
It's a fine line.
At this very moment (as I write these lines), I can feel God's presence in the room with me.
Of course, there's, also, a mule lying on his back reading a comic book, a movie star sitting in a chair perusing a philosophical tract, and... give me a moment... ah, there they are, the boys (two wire weasels), chasing each other around the television (and other electronic equipment) working up a good sweat... lying on their backs, now, breathing hard, enjoying the carpet... before running off to the kitchen to see what's handy to eat.
Dried fruit, it turns out.
So, I enjoy the presence of God (or have, it really is more of a past tense thing). But I view the entire experience as interacting with an Imaginary Friend.
It's not an, overly, important point. But some folks given the same input (brainwaves, I guess) would draw (or might draw) radically different conclusions... like, I was possessed by Demons, or Devils, or was lucky enough to live my life surrounded by Angels.
And, yeah. As you may have noticed in that last sentence, if I am going to capitalize all the Good names (out of respect), I am going to capitalize all the Bad names (out of strong desire to preserve life and limb), as well.
The bottom line is that the same input can have different interpretations.
And without fail, my Skeptical Friends always went with the (so called) 'Rational Interpretation', you know, by showing how the same results could be achieved by self-deception, lying, trickery, and/or slight of hand.
Like I said, I enjoyed watching those Skeptics at work. They were good at what they did.
But then, one day, I came across this little logical gem. Alas, I cannot remember if it was a Skeptic (wouldn't that be wonderful, indicating an open mind, don't you know) or one of their opponents, who put it forth. But that doesn't really matter. Whatever the case, the argument went something like this:
Science concerns itself with the Natural World. And we'll define the Natural World as that which can be measured, observed, and controlled by Man. Thus, if something cannot be measured, observed, and controlled by Man, it is not part of the Natural World... and thus, Science rejects this Non-Natural thing's existence.That seems sort of long to me, so let's try, again:
It's a straightforward bit of logic. We are defining the scope of Science.
Science Natural World Not Natural World Not Science
The trick is in the next step:
If Man cannot measure it, it doesn't exist.Science has become the beginning and the end:
Or more accurately:
Given Science: Then...
It's a solid philosophy. And many people hold it.
Given Logic: Given Science: Then...
The problem is in using the above as a proof for anything that falls under the subject heading of the Supernatural.
Super: BeyondTherefore, as a logical conclusion:
Natural: That with which Mankind CAN measure, observe, and interact.
Super-Natural: That with which Mankind CANNOT measure, observe, and interact.
It's a wonderful little insight... to me anyhow.
If Science: Then the Super-Natural does not exist. Or at least, can never be proven.
I mean, I hope none of us are too terribly surprised by:
Or it's converse:
If God: Then God
Another way of saying all of this is if you preach to the choir, you're going to get a hallelujah. And conversely, if you start with a Skeptical Mindset, you're never going to find God.
If Not God: Then Not God
And I probably should stop right there, but there is one last item I want to go over, ever so briefly, before I am through for the day.
Good, Bad, Morality, Ethics: these things don't exist in the Natural World. There is no quanta of Good. Nor is there a Field Force of Evil. These things will never be measured by Science in a way that will prove their existence independent of Man.
I mean, I have talked with many an Atheist who believes in Morality. But there is a big difference between living a Moral Life and believing in the Intrinsic Existence of Morality in the Universe.
See, I will never deny that you (or someone else) is Living in Christ, as I don't have to believe in Christ to believe that you believe that you are Living in Christ.
Maybe this is true:
Or, on the other hand, maybe this is true:
Given God Given Living in Christ Then... Maybe you are. Maybe you aren't.
Logically speaking (I qualify, because logic does not have to hold), one of these two (or four) scenarios are true.
Given Science Given 'Living in Christ' is a Philosophy Then... Maybe you are. Maybe you aren't.
Keeping in mind that it is possible to Walk with Christ even if God does not (in point of fact) exist, because one is free to play whatever Existential Mind Games they wish to play.
God: True or False Living in Christ: True or False
In other words, the existence of God or Christ is not a prerequisite for one to be a Christian or Live in Christ.
But then, on the other hand, for the words Good or Evil to have any real (intrinsic) meaning, I believe there needs to be some sort of Outside Enforcer, some Super-Natural Being, which I am more than happy to call God.
Therefore, if you believe in your heart that Good & Evil exist (beyond the human condition, as some sort of objective intrinsic property of The Universe), then (in my ever so humble opinion) you're basically admitting to the existence of some sort of God... or Super-Natural Overlord Like Entity.
It's a sort of subtle argument, easily encapsulated by the idea that Morality requires an Authoritative Decision Maker. But whether you understand that or not, I'm guessing I'll want to touch upon it again in some future Sermon... just to make sure.
But for now, I'm going to assume the point is made.
Anyhow, based on my belief in the above and a waxing/waning relationship to Morality, I can say with some authority that:
Given Morality: Then a Super-Natural Authority is Required.
Sometimes, I believe in a God.What's more, I believe this is the normal state of affairs for both believer and non-believer, alike.
And sometimes, I do not.