October 31, 2010

A Tale of Two Trees part 4 – Evil is as Evil Does

Posted in Terminology tagged , , , , , at 8:45 PM by E. M.

THE GATEWAY TO EVIL (AND CHLAMYDIA)

In order to understand why eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would lead to death for Adam and Eve we have to first gain an objective understanding of what “good” and “evil” are.

In the last post, we examined the Biblical definition of “good”.  In this post, we will address “evil”.

In the last post we saw that “good” is “that which creates”.  However we also saw that sometimes circumstances call for short term destruction in order for there to be long-term creation.  So the complete definition of “good” is the idea of “that which creates in the long-term

Biblically speaking, evil is presented as the opposite of good.  So “evil” would then obviously be defined as “that which destroys in the long term”.

When we are tempted to do evil, we are tempted to do something that will (or that we think will) be good; that will create something for us (pleasure, happiness, satisfaction, reward, etc.).  But it only creates in the short term, and the long-term results are destruction.

There are many obvious examples of this – drug and alcohol abuse, reckless driving, lying, cheating, theft, sex with Kim Kardashian (boy, do I regret that now.  Thank God for penicillin).

We also saw in the last post that the ultimate expression of “good” is eternal life – perpetual creation.  Conversely, the ultimate expression of “evil” would be eternal death – perpetual irreparable destruction.  Hell.

The key to determining whether something is good or evil is to look at the long-term intent and results.  For example, saving your money is good because the long-term results are the ability to buy a home, send your kids to college, and enjoy a secure retirement.  But in the short term, it means the sacrifice of certain pleasures.  On the other hand, if you spend all your money as soon as you get it, you can have a great time in the short term, but the long-term results are a future of poverty and debt.

Understanding long-term vs. short-term is also a key to understanding God’s actions in the Bible, in the world, and in our lives.  God is good.  He creates in the long term.  His focus is not on our short-term happiness; His focus is our long term good.  The ultimate long-term good is eternal life.  And if God has to introduce or allow short-term pain, discomfort, distress and frustration into our lives in order to drive us toward accepting and embracing the things that will lead us to eternal life, then that is what He will do.

When persistent and/or unusual calamities occur in our lives, instead of complaining and questioning God’s goodness, it would probably be more beneficial to ask, “God, what are trying to drive me towards and how will it work for my long-term good?”  That, my friends is contrastive thinking!

Contrastive thinking can lead to eternal life, which again, is the ultimate expression of “good”.  Therefore, we can say that contrastive thinking is good.  Comparative thinking prevents repair and can lead to perpetual death.  Therefore, we can say that comparative thinking is evil.

So how can you tell if a person is good or evil?  Actually, you can’t.  None of us has enough comprehensive information about another person to categorically declare their entire being good or evil.

This is the rationale behind one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible – The admonition not to judge in Matthew 7:1.  This verse is often used by a guilty person as their defense when you confront them about their wrongdoings.  (Have you ever heard an innocent person tell you not to judge them?)  Instead of owning up to their guilt, they try to sidestep it by attacking your right to accuse them.  But we are told later in the same chapter of Mathew that we can and should judge what a person does (Matthew 7:15-20).

So while we cannot judge whether a person, is good or evil, we can judge if they are pursuing good or evil.  How?  Examine the long-term intent and results of their actions.  Is the focus of their life the pursuit of creation or destruction?  Do their actions lead to repair, and life, or do they lead to stagnation, and destruction?  Are they motivated by the desire to grow, even if it causes them discomfort and pain, or do they actively justify themselves in order to avoid pain?  When they are wrong, do they think comparatively or contrastively?

What a person pursues in the long-term is the key to understanding their life.  Furthermore, examining you own life and looking at what you are pursuing in the long-term can allow you to see if you are headed toward life or death.

Now that we understand good and evil, we are ready to examine the ramifications of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  But before we do, there is one more question that needs to be addressed.  God’s plan of redemption (the Fall of Man, the incarnation of Christ, the cross and the Resurrection) all seem predicated on the existence of evil.  So, does God need evil in order to bring about His plan? Does good need evil in order to exist? Next time.

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March 8, 2010

Spirit in a Box

Posted in What's the Point? tagged , , , at 12:33 PM by E. M.

The First Cause of the physical universe is causeless, supernatural, transcendent, and eternal.  The First Cause of the physical universe can only be described in non-physical terms…because the First Cause is non-physical.

This shouldn’t actually be all that surprising, because when contemplating the answer to “What’s the point?” (the question that started this whole thing), we intuitively know that whatever the “point” is, its outside of our physical selves.

The tough part is that we naturally tend to define how “real” and substantive something is by its physical proof.  We rely on proof that we can see smell, touch, taste, and/or hear.  But if the First Cause of the universe is non-physical (immaterial) AND greater than the material universe (the effect), then we’re going to have to become comfortable with the idea that some of the things we consider immaterial may actually be more “real” than what we can experience with our physical senses. (Don’t worry; when we get to my April 19th blog post, that sentence will make complete sense.  Probably).

What kinds of things are immaterial, transcendent, and time-less, yet are substantive enough to have a dramatic effect on the physical/material world?

In a broad sense, I’d have to say that the answer is “information”.  Let’s use something in close proximity to demonstrate what I mean – your computer system.  The system in front of you works because of functioning hardware and software.  Hardware is, of course, the physical/material parts of the system – the monitor, the CPU, mouse, keyboard, etc.  But all that hardware is nothing more than expensive paperweights without software.  Software is the information and rules that tell the hardware what to do and how to do it.  Software has a dramatic affect on the physical.  This information makes the physical “work”.

Software is information.  But even the most powerful software is immaterial.  If you take a blank disk or other storage device, weigh it, then load it up with all the software that it can hold, and weigh it again, you will find that it weighs exactly the same as before.

Information is weightless.  It has no mass.  If information has no mass, then it transcends the physical world.  Information is also time-less because according to Einstein, time can only affect objects with mass. (Remember, whenever someone wants to show how smart they are, they always reference Einstein).

“Information” is as broad a concept as “the universe”.  In fact, like the universe, information is an “effect”.  So to get a better understanding of it, we should use the ladder of causality that we used on the physical universe.  We need to find the “causeless” cause of information.

Information is an effect of knowledge.  Knowledge is an effect of intelligence.  Intelligence is an effect of the ability to understand.  Understanding is an effect of thinking.  Thinking is an effect of interpreting stimuli.  The ability to interpret stimuli is governed by qualitative (subjective) and quantitative (objective) principles (values) that we apply to the stimuli.

The interesting thing is that since humans are thinking beings (for the most part), we conform to the computer systems example above.  The most valuable part of the computer – the most “real” part if you will, is the software, not the hardware. The “real” part of the computer system (software) is immaterial and transcendent.

And so is the real “you”.

What makes you, you is not “hardware”; not the physical body you occupy that is slowly wearing down, losing elasticity, gaining liver spots and losing hair.  The real you; the things that make you special and unique  – your personality, your intellect, your understanding, your memories, your experiences, your knowledge, your talent, your will…all your information – the real you is “software”.  Your software makes your physical body function and tells it what to do.  Your physical actions are just an effect of your will.

If the real you is software, then the real you has no mass.  The real you is immaterial and transcendent.   The real you is eternal.  There is a term for this.  Its called “spirit”.  The real you is spirit.  The first cause or your spirit are principles (we’ll address this more at the end of April).

The First Cause of existence is also spirit.  The First Cause of existence is “principles”.  But unlike the first cause of your spirit, the First Cause of existence must consist of causeless principles; principles that require no precedent cause.  Are there causeless principles?  And if so, what are they?

More answers in one week

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