Monthly Archives: March 2011

After Fukushima – Like John or like Legion

Posted by David
Nuclear power plants around the world, 1999.

Nuclear power plants around the world, 1999.

It seems obvious to me, but clearly not to some, that nuclear power is probably the most irresponsible forms of technologies produced by man. Now that we have another public nuclear accident at Fukushima, I’ve been thinking about why it is so. For the most part, I don’t worry myself about environmental issues. I figure that Homo technicus will only last so long, after which man and creation will heal after being abused so profoundly. It is the nature of God’s creation to heal. Jesus made that abundantly clear while he walked among us. Paul helped to clarify:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Romans 8:18-22

As I’ve stated before, I believe technology is the pride and glory of man. Technology is not an instrument of faith, but an instrument of pride and vanity. Was it not the technology of agriculture that caused God to be displeased with Cain’s offering? It was the shepard, Abel, whose offering was pleasing to God. It is acts of faith that please God.

Nuclear energy is an attempt to circumvent faith through postponing the price. But someone always pays the price. Jjustice exists in full in this univere of ours. Someone will pay the price of nuclear energy through suffering in unknowable ways.

Whether or not they are actually able to clean up the mess at Fukushima, one day power will not be restored to one of the 400+ power plants in the world. We cannot count on stability in any particular country, however Western, however peaceable they seem to be, because all civilizations eventually fall. Civilization is just a societal technology and eventually it stops working, just like your laptop. No matter how many days or thousands of years it takes for our present system to fall, we will be leaving melting cores for someone, some animal or some part of God’s creation. Why do we place our faith in technological structures rather than in the One who provides all that we need?

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 1:27

Some argue that because we are called to subdue the whole earth it means we should use whatever technology have at our finger tips to do so. Some would even go as far as to argue that the world we’re growing into is the future creation. This technologically advanced civilization is what God has set forth. It is the beginning of the new kingdom of earth? Poppycock.

Man is indeed in a phylum of his own. We are set aside and we are special. We are given a will and are intended to use it. Unlike the animals, our will can be used to do good or evil. Animals don’t have that privilege. With that privilege comes extraordinary joy and responsibility—a responsibility only possible through Jesus. Done with him it is with an ease far greater than that of the soaring flight of an eagle in the golden autumnal light, or no greater work than the play of a child by a stream in summertime.

But we will continue to do these sort of faithless acts, until we are shocked into submission. And then we will either be like John and lean into the breast of our beloved Jesus or like Legion and cast ourselves into the pigs.

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The Democracy of the Will

Posted by David

Any of our readers of this blog will notice that my dad (Mike) and I come from very different perspectives. But I must say, it’s been a great joy to blog with him on this site.

That said, I’ve been reading 2 Thessalonians. It’s a very interesting letter written by Paul warning the church to not to be deceived or be unsettled about the coming of the “man of lawlessness.” This is a particularly important letter for Christians today, because some churches are always looking for the antichrist and some are even being deceived by charasmatic cult of personality. Now, I do believe that man’s relationship with God will one day be restored and sin will be abolished from the earth. How that happens and when that occurs is not something we are not privy to and should not consume our thoughts. We are told to stand firm and pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So, here’s the passage of interest to me recently:

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

2 Thessalonians 2: 1-4

What’s particularly interesting is the idea of the “rebellion.” What is the rebellion? Do we see it today? These days, whenever I seek to understand something from the scriptures deeply, I first look in myself,  my heart, my experience, and the things I know best (or think I know best). In my life, my times of rebellion have been when I have had unbridled freedom.

In our minds, we always have conflicting thoughts and choices (Mike wrote about that yesterday with regards to decision-making). At a conscious or unconscious level we weigh those choices and make a decision. What is important is how we make the choice. Sometimes we choose based on our moral standards. Sometimes we make the choice based on which part of our body or soul screams the loudest: stomach, groins, comfort, fears, instinct, etc. If our will chooses to go with the loudest, we can get ourselves in trouble. I’ll call this the democracy of the will.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter that much. I’m hungry, so I eat a meal. But if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you know where this has gone wrong at times in your life. But what does this have to do with the “rebellion” that Paul writes about? I’m coming to think that this rebellion is simply the political state we call democracy. A republic is just a modified form of democracy, but a democracy still. In a republic, the democratic process chooses leaders and the same process makes decisions in the congress or parliament. The only non-democratic part of our particular form of government is the president, but certainly he is subject to the democratic pressures of his advisors.

In the West this democratic process began with rebellion, and arguably, it began as early or earlier with the Renaissance and the Reformation. Only now are we seeing it sweep across the Middle East. Please don’t think that I think any other particular government is benign. They are all filled with injustice, because man and his cravings and powerlust is inherently unjust. Thus, all governments have differing aspects of injustice upon which they paw.

But democracy in general may be the final stage of the succession of types of government. The age of democracy and the period of human history it spreads before us is unique and may very well be the rebellion of which Paul warns us. The only worthy government is the Kingdom of Heaven with Christ as our King.

It reminds me of those who say that “Freedom has a price.” If just one innocent man, woman or child dies, if just one person is tortured for that kind of freedom, it’s not a freedom with which I wish to engage. That type of freedom and the democracy at its base is a deception. Freedom is an ideal that is only possible when the human will is bound to goodness and love. That day will come.

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Weekly Report: The Dope…the Dupe

Posted by Mike

Leon hot air balloon festival 2010.jpgMarch 3: The headline on Time’s frontpage today is “Yes, America is in Decline/No America is Still No. 1.” I never hear anyone ask “Why?”  so I’m asking it; and suggesting that we’d be a lot better off if we weren’t. It might get us off our grandiose high horse of believing that we are the savior of the world. It’s interesting that we’ve been proved so wrong so many times before, but that doesn’t stop belief. Changing firmly held beliefs may require some kind of full frontal confrontation to get people to wake up. Unfortunately, that kind of confrontation generally brings with it a lot of pain.

I find some decision-making rather mysterious. I know, we weigh the pros and cons, look at the possible/probable outcomes, and then make the best, the most rational decision we can make. But what about the emotional factors? And doesn’t the process get quite muddied up with multiple factors, especially when the decision is important and the tipping point can’t easily be got at? Of course we do the best we can with what (brain power, good sense, advice from others) we’ve got. I made a big decision recently regarding major surgery that is not absolutely indicated. As far as I’m concerned the decision is made and I’m going ahead with it; but I need to be aware that there’s a part of me that’s going to be questioning the decision at least to some extent even when they wheel me into the operating room. There are people who are so obsessive that they are unable to make decisions; the bigger the decision is, the harder it is for them. We’re not perfect; we’re fallible. If we need help in sorting out the issues, we need to ask for it. I have a hard time doing that: related to childhood isolation and inability to ask for anything back then. In the work I do I daily make decisions that affect the lives of individuals and families. I do the best I can with the evidence I have available. The evidence isn’t perfect and in some cases there is a degree of subjectivity that must be allowed in or a decision can’t be made. An obsessive-compulsive would never be able to do that job. I’ve learned to make a decision and then forget about it. Fortunately, there are avenues of appeal available if the recipient disagrees. So in general, make the decision, and then let it go; subject to revision if significant new evidence arises and presses for a hearing; but don’t obsessively review afterwards. Life is too demanding, challenging, wonderful and present to be overly tied up by the past like that.

March 4: I woke up unable to sleep last night and happened upon Gus Van Sant’s first full length film, Mala Noche. It’s about events in a brief period of a young male convenience store clerk’s life, in the skid row district of Portland. It’s filmed like the cinema noir pictures of the late ‘30’s in black and white, and the lives of the people it follows is just as bleak. What comes to me as the important overall message for me from the film is that as secure, comfortable middle class Americans, most of us don’t have a clue as to what it’s like to lead the kind of hand-to-mouth kind of existence lots of people experience in this country. That awareness should lead us to a kind of humility, nonjudgmentalness, and a generosity not only of funds but of spirit to those less fortunate. I often make it to the first level , the awareness part, but never seem to make it to the second level of thinking/feeling/acting described above.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and write pungent essays in my head. Most of the time I’ve forgotten them by the time I awaken in the morning. Seldom do I later write anything down. When I do try to, it seems that maybe what I thought was so clever and insightful at 2 a.m. wasn’t. I do remember thinking last night about following the news of the conflict in the Middle East. Every morning one of the first things I do is bring up the New York Times on my laptop and go to the Lede blog, updating us on the latest events. Currently of course, the Lede is following events in Libya closely. As I’m reading the updates sometimes I feel like I want to will progress on the insurgents’ part. I expect this desire to be able to “will” a change in circumstances or events is not uncommon. We know it’s not possible, but we want something (that we have no control over) to be so so much, that we would like to be able to will it to be so. Fortunately most of us are sufficiently reality-based to know that’s just fantasy. Occasionally people cross the line. We call them delusional, and they don’t do very well in the long run; reality catches up with them.

March 7: What happened to the 5th and the 6th? They must not have happened. I can’t tell you…but why, why can’t I just let go of my beef with organized religion? For example, the other day coming home I passed a fancy dentist’s office near here, and would you believe, they have this massive statue of Jesus in front of the building, on a granite pedestal, engraved with the writing, “He is our Salvation.” Who do they think they are? Why is it necessary for believers to include the rest of us in their scenario. What if I don’t believe that he is my salvation? I guess from their point of view all of society is included under the umbrella or penumbra of the man from Nazarath. It would be impossible, I guess, for a Christian to say something like, “I believe Jesus is my salvation, but that isn’t necessarily the case for you.” I see that that wouldn’t work; it’s got to be inclusive. It does seem to me, however, given that attitude that a measure of self-righteousness, yea even of judgmentalism toward us poor nonbelievers might just be present. The position of knowing, and “knowing” that the others don’t, seems to be rather arrogant. Of course, you could turn it around on me and wonder if I might just be exhibiting some of those very same uncomely attitudes. You might be right. I do think, though, that I am open to saying you believe what you want to and I’ll believe what I want to and we’re both going to be at least somewhat wrong – but we need to be nonjudgmental about each other. I have more about this topic later, and I’ll just give you a preview: There are mainstream Christians out there who believe in Predestination!

The wisdom of the generations is fragile, but that which we preserve and value must be based upon observation and experience, not on myth reflecting out unconscious defensive predilections

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The Revolution of Pi

Posted by David

A revolution is sweeping the Middle East and in other places in the world. Some are calling for a “Jasmine Revolution” in China. I call for a revolution in modern scientific thought: call it the Revolution of Pi. Science no longer seems to search for truth, but for supporting evidence to uphold false notions. Modern science has nested itself on a crumbling altar. The exact same data can also be nested on a different platform and a very different picture emerges.

I propose three new pillars in science. These were developed out of a challenge from my friend Lisbeth.

1) Types: pre-existence of types – Out of order, emerges order. Most modern scientific thought is based on the pillar chaos theory. It’s the way some scientists explain seeming-randomness without God. Out of that pillar you get, all sorts of misconceptions. Order cannot emerge out of chaos. In every community of organisms there is a directional evolution toward those types.

Pre-existence of types

Pre-existence of types

2) Circle: The circle is the fundamental structure of nature – Infinity does not exist in the natural world, and neither does the finite. Built like a circle, the universe is both infinite and finite and neither at the same time. The human mind can only conceive of this idea by understanding the nature of a circle.

The circle is the fundamental

The circle is the fundamental

3) Life: The fundamental state of matter is Life – Nothing in the natural world is dead or non-living. Everything we touch, see, feel has life. Entropy is a circular of a change of state. Ecology is the fundamental branch of science.

The fundamental state of matter is Life

The fundamental state of matter is Life

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