Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I don't cry often...

I'm emotional. I'll give you that. But I don't cry often.

However, when art strikes me the right way, it can quickly bring me to tears. I cried when I watched Pixar's film "Up," pained by the beauitful narrative they were telling. I cried standing in Museo del Prado in Spain, awed by the history and beauty I was surrounded by. I've cried several times when leaving good concerts, awed by the music that stirs my soul.

I've been reading John Irving's "The Cider Hour Rules." Its an absolutely fantastic novel. About 3/4 of the way through, he drops this bombshell and I lost it:

"No, not in a better world!" he cried. "In this one--in this world. I take this world as a given. Talk to me about this world!"

Sitting alone in my house, getting ready to take a shower, I cried.

We can speak of a more optimal world. We can speak of heaven. We can speak of dreams and wishes of different lives. But right now, all we have is this world.

I'm tired of speaking of things and using phrases like "if only." If we are going to change what is, we better start dealing with things as they are. This is the world we live in. Not some other world. Not a theoretically different place. This earth. Now. This is what we have.

I want to be part of changing the world. God, I wish I knew where to start.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The long and short of it...

I said on Facebook recently that believing in God is difficult on some days--its not that I don't believe, its just that I struggle with that belief more on some days.

I wrestle with the existence of God--a higher being out there who is completely unique and other. And in my life, this causes some complications. If there is no God, then all of this is meaningless. Life has no point. We are born. We die. And things keep moving on. Add to that: if there is no God, then Jesus could not have been deity.

If I start questioning the deity of Jesus, then I have to question his resurrection. There would be no point in his rising from the grave if no one else is going to rise from the grave.

So if there is no God, and Jesus wasn't deity, and there is no final Resurrection, then this is all meaningless. There's no future hope of all things being made right.

Two things:

1-I can see how some people can get to a point where they become Christian Atheists. They no longer believe in a Creator God or the deity of Jesus, but continue to follow the way of Jesus. They see the teachings and message of Jesus to be of the utmost importance to living a fulfilling life and to making the world a better place, but the concepts of afterlife are gone from their worldview. Their decisions and life choices still matter as they affect the world and the people in it--however, morality has no eternal effects.

2-I still believe in God. As much as I've been wrestling with the idea, I can't get past the fact that I'm here. You're here. We're all here on this planet. We have these ridiculously efficient bodies that breathe this perfect combination of earth's air and drink this water and reproduce in the craziest way and laugh and love and fart and think. There are these mountains and these animals and these rivers and these days that go by with a sun and moon and stars. I just can't fathom that this was all an accident. I just can't believe that something didn't make this happen. There is more of an explanation to life than the Big Bang offers. As simplistic as the anthropic principle is, I think its the only argument I'll never be able to get past when having this discussion.

What about you? Is there a God(s)? If yes, why do you believe in him/her/it/them? If there isn't a God(s), why not? What does that mean for your life? What does it mean for the lives of all humanity?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

And this is my chest now.

I've got another tattoo session in the not-too-distant future. But I love what I got done today. It hurt. A lot. But that's not gonna stop me from getting the rest done.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This is my chest.

And this is the last day my chest will look like this.

Well, actually, this picture was the day I started P90X. It doesn't look much different now. But tomorrow, it shall have tattoos. So, while it will be the same chest tomorrow, it won't be tattoo free anymore.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh, Stephen Hawking--you're such a card.

So, in my last post, I started talking about the concept of time and how it affects my worldview. Keith Ward, an Oxford philosopher, proposes the idea that before Creation/The Big Bang, nothing was happening. It was impossible for God to be doing anything without space and time. Ergo, before the start of time, God simply was.

Time is a weird thing. I've always talked about time as being linear. There is time past, time present, and time future. We exist in time right now. We don't exist in the past still and we don't exist in the future yet.

But God is unique. God is other. God is not us. If God created time, is she limited by it? If God did not create time, is she limited by it?

When discussing time and theology, I've been told numerous times that we are limited by time but God is not. Meaning, that we are stuck in our present spot in linear time but God is still in the past, present in the here and now, and already in the future. I've just kinda taken that for granted. I just assumed that was right. However, that certainly brings up some issues for me.

I have a friend who asked me: "If time only exists here on earth, and heaven is another realm of space and time, then did Jesus really ever leave heaven?" At first, I thought this was funny. And it is. But its troubling at the same time because it points to holes in our understanding of time.

I believe that we have libertarian free will. We, as humans, have the ability to choose to do or not to do whatever we want. I don't think God intervenes in human choice. As I worked through my understanding of God and the problem of evil and while back, I came to several conclusions: 1, God is good and loving; 2, humans have free will; 3, humans can choose to do good or bad; 4, God can't intervene when bad/evil choices are made because God can't undo what hasn't been done yet. (You can search in the bar at the top left side of the page for the posts on this. Just search for "The Problem of Evil." Make sure and read all four parts.)

(To explain answer #4 a little better: I think that God can't see beyond the choices that haven't been made. Does that mean I'm saying God isn't all-powerful? Some would say yes. I say: "not necessarily." I know it sounds like a Deist thought, but I can't honestly say that I believe that God intervenes in human affairs anymore.)

But if God is outside of time, then none of this makes sense. God would be able to see all of the history of the universe if she is unhindered by space/time. God would already know the choices we make and the outcomes of said choices if she is outside of linear time.

So, I've come to the following conclusion: either (1) God is not outside of and unhindered by time or (2) time is not linear.

I'm fine with either being correct... mainly because I know I'll never have a real answer. Oh sure, I'll have some good guesses--but that's all they'll be. I mean, if Stephen Hawking can't prove linear time, then I don't have a chance.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oh, Richard Dawkins--you're such a card.

So I started reading the book of John this week (as in Saint John as in the 4th Gospel of the New Testament of the Bible as in the Black Sheep of the Gospel Writers). Its such an interesting book. Matthew, Mark and Luke are so different from John's book.

He starts off not by telling a biography of the life of Jesus, but by using some flowery language to talk about Jesus himself. Its the whole "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God... etc etc." I love how poetic it is. But it makes me think. Those words hit me funny: "In the beginning..."

In the beginning of what?

Genesis starts off the same way. "In the beginning, God created..." That's so weird. It's not like its saying "At the beginning of the 17th of January, 4 billion AD..." or "At the beginning of LOST season 5, Jack..." or "At the beginning of the movie, Marty McFly..." Its saying in THE beginning. Not a beginning. But THE beginning. The ultimate beginning. The start of it all. The origin of everything. Ergo, I can only begin to understand this if "in the beginning" is referring to the start of time.

I think the Bible is asserting that Genesis 1:1 is the beginning of time. But God was apparently around before that. And if God was around before that, what was God doing?

Keith Ward has just written a book in response to Richard Dawkins talking about why he feels that there almost certainly is a God. Its a complex philosophical perspective to flesh out, and though I haven't read it, the book is supposed to be decent. Anyway, in the video below, Ward asserts that God couldn't be doing anything before the start of time. There was nothing to do--there was nothing before the origin of the universe because of the lack of space and time. Ward says (around the 41 minute mark):

"In other words, its not just that you go back, perhaps, 13.7 thousand million years to the Big Bang and you say: "Well, what happened before that?" Incidentally, the answer to that is: nothing. Because, at the Big Bang, space and time originated. So before the Big Bang there wasn't any time. Therefore, there was no before the Big Bang. So, what happened before the Big Band? Nothing! That's very unsatisfactory, but its true... So what was God doing before time began? Augustine said (quite correctly): nothing. He didn't have any time... So you've got to think of creation as the dependence of every time upon some non-temporal being beyond it."

That's interesting. Its not that God was resting or just hanging out... God simply was. Nothing could be happening without time, according to Ward.

Time is a crazy concept. And I wanna write more about it. So I'll post a 'part 2' before the week is up. I've got a lotta questions bouncing around in my head. One of my most important personal theological perspectives hinges on this matter, so I need some room to think.

Be back soon.

Keith Ward: "Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins from Metanexus Institute on Vimeo.