November 20, 2011

Human Government part 2: A Unique Problem

Posted in Government, The Dispensations tagged , , , at 12:41 PM by E. M.

THE GOAL OF HUMAN GOVERNMENT

In the last post, we saw that the human government created by mystics is man’s comparative attempt to recreate the paradise of Eden without God.  However human government is doomed to failure for two primary reasons.  First, perfection requires righteousness (the opposite of comparative thinking).  Secondly, all human beings have Adam’s desire to rule, not just the mystics.

There’s an old saying, “great men can’t be ruled” (which I quoted to my parents every time they grounded me as a teenager).  But that saying is not just an ineffective justification for teen rebellion.  It’s a truism that gets to the core of why human government always degenerates into totalitarianism and eventual failure.

What makes a person great?  Greatness is the rare, the different, and the exceptional.  Many people can play basketball, but the great ones are in the NBA.  Many people can cook, but the ones with great skill become chefs.  Many people can lead, but the great ones become generals and CEO’s.  Many people lie, but exceptional liars become politicians.

Great people are “great” because they have a combination of skills, abilities, and gifts not shared by others.  In other words, great people are unique.

Great men desire to rule (control) their own lives so they have the freedom to operate in their uniqueness and be of value to themselves and others. But the subjugation inherent in human government is antithetical to that kind of freedom.

In human government, only the rulers can be great.  The rest of us are the chattel to be ruled over.  The mystics’ desire to hold all the value in society denies the reality of the value that great men offer.  Human government cannot tolerate the existence greatness outside the circle of mystics.  Therefore mystics do everything in their power to discourage, suppress, and control great men.

Herein is the HUGE problem that mystics and their government have – we are ALL unique!  Our spirits are composed of principles that are unique to each of us. We all have unique skills and gifts.  No two Human beings are the same.  If we operate in our uniqueness, we all have the potential to be great.

We are all potential threats to the mystics, so a key to their methodology of rule is to suppress uniqueness. The central role of human government is to make everyone the same!

The Mystics of Force do this through laws.  These laws are used to control and homogenize the behavior of the masses through fear of the physical punishments for noncompliance.  The Mystics of Spirit use a more subtle (but arguably more effective) method. They take advantage of mans inclination to think comparatively and fear of social/religious alienation to get us to homogenize ourselves!

People naturally know and understand that we are all unique – that we are all different from each other.  So the Mystics of Spirit condition people to believe that uniqueness is unjust!  They endeavor to convince us that “sameness” is good and uniqueness is bad.  They use (or intentionally misuse) socially reactionary terms and concepts such as patriotism, nationalism, equality, community, race, class, social justice, political correctness, etc. to advocate that we all think and act the same.

If anyone tries to express their uniqueness in thought or action, they are ridiculed, ostracized, demeaned, discouraged and rejected for deviating from the “norm”.  Acting in your uniqueness makes you “abnormal”.  “Normal” is acting and thinking like everyone else.

But if we are all unique, why is it so easy for mystics to manipulate us into suppressing our uniqueness?  Because on a certain level the idea of everyone being the same is appealing! Our desire to be great and appreciate the greatness of others competes with our comparative tendencies.  Comparative thinking leads you to fear that your uniqueness may be less valuable than someone else’s.

Comparative thinkers hate great people because comparative thinkers fear (or mystics have taught them to fear) that another’s greatness is a threat to their own and their relative sense of value and self worth.  And since they can’t “rise” to the level of another’s greatness, they are content to bring the great person down to a “normal level”.  Modern day mystics call this “equality”.

Through manipulation and intimidation, the mystics of human government want everyone’s lives to be dedicated to them and their rule.  Why?  Because when you dedicate yourself to another man – be it king, dictator, priest, or concepts like “the people” or “humanity”, – you will lose your “self”.  You will lose your uniqueness.  And you can be ruled.

But doesn’t God want us to choose Him over the mystics and ourselves?  What happens when you dedicate yourself to God?  When you are dedicated to God, you are dedicated to the One who wants you to be unique!  God’s plan is for us to rule with Him not under Him.  God’s plan for us is meant to result in more of what He already has, and the only way to do that is if we have the ability to grow.  By definition, growth means that we cannot remain the same.  We have to become greater and more valuable than what we are.   And we can only do that by operating in our uniqueness.

God’s plan requires us to be unique!  God’s plan is antithetical to the goals of human government, and that is why the governments of the mystics are always hostile to the God of the Bible and violently oppose His followers.

As an aside, it should be mentioned that the United States was founded on the Biblically based ideas of individual liberty, and inherent human value (uniqueness) from God.  However, founding father Samuel Adams maintained that this type of government could only be successful if the people were moral (righteous).  For those who believe that America has less liberty than it should.  It might be interesting to examine the inverse relationship between the county’s immorality and its liberty.

In the first three Dispensations, God gave man every reasonable opportunity to choose Him on their own, and each dispensation ended with an increasingly damaging failure.  The just thing for God to do in the next dispensation would be to provide some guidance and parameters for men to operate in.  In the next post, we take a look at the Fourth Dispensation.

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August 10, 2010

Religion – First Blood

Posted in Religion tagged , , , , , at 7:33 PM by E. M.

WARNING - Application of religion may result in chaffing

When we do wrong, we need some kind of justification to address our guilt-debt.  Thinking contrastively about our wrongdoings can lead to righteousness.  If instead we are comparative in our thinking, then we rationalize our wrongs or do something in order to justify ourselves.  I call this Justification of Man.  The actions we do to justify ourselves are a subset of Justification of Man called religion.

Adam and Eve actually committed the first religious act immediately after they ate the forbidden fruit. They took actions to cover the shame of their newly discovered nakedness. Instead of contrastively addressing the ramifications of their wrongs, they decided to take a few fig leaves and start the world’s first natural clothing outlet.

Since they were not willing to be contrastive and rejected righteousness, God had no other just alternative but to judge them and evict them from the Garden.  They lost paradise and probably gained leaf-rash.  All would be lost for the First Couple unless they could find some form of atonement for their wrongs.

To atone for an offense is to pay the prescribed penalty for it.  Then the scales are balanced and justice has been satisfied.  The offended party justly defines the penalty.  As we saw in first post on religion, the offended party is God, and in the Eden narrative, God was pretty clear about the penalty – He said that eating the fruit would lead to death (Genesis 2:17).

To atone for Original Sin, someone had to die – justly, the person(s) who did the wrong.  Of course, death is a rather permanent way to pay the penalty, and it kind of puts a crimp in the whole “meaning of life” scenario”.  Heaven’s not going to be much fun if everybody there is dead.

But God gave the hint of a way around this – a loophole in the “death as payment” scenario.

Justice demands a life as the penalty for Original Sin, but what if the life taken was not that of the perpetrator?  What if a different life was sacrificed for the sake of the wrongdoer?  What if an innocent (debt-free) person – a “Second Adam” if you will – volunteered to pay the penalty for the perpetrator?

Technically, the penalty would be paid, atonement would be accomplished, and best of all, the perpetrator could live!  Everybody wins!   Well, except for the innocent person who sacrificed himself . . .unless BY sacrificing himself, the innocent person gets something HE wants . . . (this sounds like something we will need to revisit in the future).

But how does this atonement factor into the discussion of religion?  Let’s go back to the Eden narrative.

The fig-leaf covering (the first religious act) would not cut it as atonement in the eyes of a just God.  So after God confronted and judged Adam and Eve, He made for them acceptable coverings out of animal skins (Genesis 3:21).  How?  Well, He killed an animal of course.

It was the first time in history that blood was shed; that a life was taken – and only by the shedding of blood and a sacrifice of a life, could Adam and Eves’ transgressions be “covered”.

Now this covering was not adequate in and of itself because the life of an animal, while “innocent”, was not the equivalent of a human life, and only an innocent human life would be a truly atoning sacrifice.

The animal skin/sacrifice served as a symbol of a future atonement that would become available to man.  At some point subsequent to Original Sin, God will accept the sacrifice of an innocent human life on behalf of fallen man just as He did with the animal.  But instead of just covering man’s shame, this future sacrifice will completely atone for it.  The scales will be completely balanced and the debt will be paid.

Until then, God ordained certain rituals and activities that served as symbols of the coming atonement.  These rituals make up a significant portion of the Levitical Laws in the Bible that we will discuss more when we look at the Fifth Dispensation.

These activities are NOT religion!  God never said or implied that Levitical rituals alone would ever justify anyone.

This is an extremely important distinction. Not understanding this distinction is the reason that people who claim belief in God confuse ritual with religion – they see the ritual as a form of atonement instead of a symbol, memorial, or commemoration of atonement. As I wrote before, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with performing rituals; it’s the motivation behind the performance that separates ritual from religion.

Unfortunately certain men decided of their own volition (and convinced countless others) that rituals alone could provide justification and atonement, and they warped them into religious acts.  But this was NEVER God’s intention.

As I wrote last week, the men who perverted Levitical rituals into religion are the ones whose actions led to the death of Christ.  Their religion blinded them to the advent of the very person the rituals were put in place to make them aware of!  See what I mean when I say religion causes brain damage?

Atonement is an absolutely vital key to understanding Christian philosophy and Biblical doctrine.  But in order to understand it better, we need to examine a couple more terms introduced in the Eden narrative.  Next time we will discuss “Life” and “Death.”

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June 22, 2010

Dispensation 1 – Paradise Lost

Posted in The Dispensations tagged , , , , , , , at 1:18 PM by E. M.

Shortly after God made Adam, he took him on a tour of the rest of creation.  “This is all amazing,” Adam said, “What are you going to do next?”  “I’ve decided to make you a companion,” God replied, “I’m going to make her from your body, so you’ll be completely compatible in every way.  She’ll always respect and admire you.  She will always say exactly what she means at all times. She’ll respond to every situation with logic and rationality, and she will quickly accept accountability when she is wrong.  She will have faith in you, be supportive, and always give you the benefit of the doubt.  She will consistently be on time for events, she’ll never hide her insecurities behind vanity and when you have a conflict, she will always let you have the last word.  “Wow”, Adam said, “She sounds great!  What will this cost me?”  “In order to create her” God replied. “I’ll need a lung, your left foot, a piece of your heart and liver, a kidney, and three vertebrae.”  “That’s an awful lot to give up” Adam said, ”What can I get for a rib?”

(yeah, I know its corny joke, but its my blog so I can be corny if I want)

Our history on this planet can be seen as the story of God contrastively showing that His plan for man’s righteousness is the only one that will work by presenting every reasonable scenario in which man could choose righteousness on his own.  These scenarios are called dispensations.  In each dispensation, man is given the opportunity to choose God’s way or his own – to either justify God or justify himself.

The first dispensation would logically be a “pure” scenario in which man was in a state of complete innocence – A state in which he had no “baggage”, no preconceived notions, no historical influences, no childhood trauma or growing pains, etc.  This first dispensation should address the question, “If man was a completely innocent being with a volitional will, but no knowledge of good or evil and no moral biases, would he, of his own volition, choose righteousness (God)?”

This of course is the familiar narrative of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 3).  God creates the first man and woman in His own image and places them in paradise.  They have just one rule: they are not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The result would be death.

They now have a choice – don’t eat the fruit and live forever in blissful innocence/ignorance, or come to know good and evil with the result being death.  (This whole situation seems odd at first glance, but it is actually logical and just.  We’ll explore it in an upcoming post.)

Of course, in order to make it a fair choice, you’d have to have someone present a counter-argument to God’s position.  Thus enters the serpent.  Now some people get hung up on the idea of the talking snake.  But considering the fact that in the previous two chapters of Genesis God creates the entire universe by just thinking about it, a talking snake seems like a comparatively minor phenomenon.  And for the record, there is reason to believe that it wasn’t a “snake” per se.

The grammatical root of the word translated “serpent” is “nachash” in Hebrew, which means “one who whispers an enchantment”, or “to shine”.  As a proper noun, it would be translated “The Shining One”.  I believe this is an allusion to the being known as Satan, who was also called Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15) the “light bearer”.  This idea is also referenced in Revelation 12:9.   “Nachash” later became synonymous with slithery reptile in Hebrew vernacular.

Of course I may be overcomplicating the whole matter and it could very well have just been a tree snake with an excellent vocabulary.  Either way, for our purposes its taxonomy is not as relevant as what it said.  It basically implied that God was wrong.  Adam and Eve would not die if they ate the fruit.  In fact they would be more like God in that they would know what good and evil was.  This was a clever mix of facts and lies that we we’ll discuss later.

In any case, Eve bought the spiel and ate the fruit.  She gave some to Adam who followed suit.  And presto!  Original sin.  Right?

Not so fast.  While this is the traditional view of what constitutes original sin (i.e., the transgression that got the first couple booted from paradise and made all their descendants the rebellious miscreants that we are today), there is reason to believe that eating the forbidden fruit was only a part of original sin – and not even the most significant part.  I base this on three things.

1.  God did not immediately bring judgment and end the dispensation after the fruit was eaten.

2.  In and of itself, eating the fruit didn’t offer a just opportunity for Adam and Eve to choose to be comparative or contrastive, because they didn’t know what good and evil were until after they eat it.

3.  God’s actions immediately after they ate the fruit show that he was much more interested in their reaction to the sin that the sin itself.

So what happened after the fruit was eaten?  Adam and Eve suddenly had knowledge of good and evil (and public nudity) and they hid from God.  Did God immediately rain down wrath?  Nope, he asked them questions.

God asked Adam where he was and what he did.  God was not looking for information.  He obviously knew where Adam was, what he did, and what the ramifications were.

Adam and God both knew Adam was wrong.  The only variable in this situation, was how would Adam react?  Would he be comparative or contrastive?  God asked questions in order to give Adam the opportunity to either justify himself, or justify God – to keep his new red jellybean or replace it with a blue one.

Adam could have said, “God, I messed up.  You told me not to eat the fruit and I did.  It was all my fault.   I promise not to do it again.  Um, could you make me a pair of shorts?”

But instead, Adam justified himself and blamed God for creating Eve! He basically said, “yeah, I screwed up, but it’s your fault God!  If you hadn’t given me this harpy, I never would have been tempted to eat the fruit and I’d still have my rib!”

God then turned to Eve who also justified herself and threw the snake under the bus.  God didn’t ask the snake anything because, lets face it, no one likes snakes.

Once both of our progenitors showed themselves completely unwilling to accept a shred of responsibility (way to set an example for the kids Mom and Dad), God declared the first dispensation a failure by bringing judgment and an eviction notice on the first couple.  So it’s on to the next dispensation.

Now I’ll admit that many of the elements in the Eden narrative seem a bit incredible, (no more incredible than the whole “speaking the universe into existence” preamble, but still).  So what do we do with this story?  We basically have two options, its either symbolic/allegorical, or it literally happened.

If it’s an allegory, then no further analysis is necessary.  It’s just a nice little moral fairy tale about resisting temptation, the corruption of the innocent yadda, yadda.  No different than Pandora’s Box or any similar fable.  It presents universal wisdom that we can interpret or euphemize in any way we choose.  Some religious traditions do just that.  The problem is that some of those same religious traditions also believe in a literal Jesus, and according to Luke 3:23-38, Adam is a part of Jesus’ genealogy.  Not sure how they navigate that contradiction.

But if the narrative is literal (and I have no reason to believe it is not) then the ramifications of this first dispensation are staggering and give us a lot of terms and ideas that need to be defined and analyzed before we can move on to the next dispensation.  These include, good, evil, life, death, knowledge, sin, curse, etc.  We’ll start the analysis next week by looking at why doing wrong requires justification.

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June 14, 2010

A Plan for the Ages

Posted in How to be Right tagged , , , , , at 1:00 PM by E. M.

We know that the only way for a being whose nature is NOT right and just (us) to be completely righteous is to choose to take direction from a being who IS always and completely right and just (God).  The only way to do this would be for us be humble and reject comparative thinking (pride).  When we are humble/contrastive, we choose God’s way over our own and justify Him over ourselves when a conflict occurs.  When we are proud/comparative, we choose our own way and justify ourselves when we are wrong.

God has a plan for humanity that is right and just.  As we saw in the last post, a righteous God would have to show that His plan is the only one that is completely right by using a contrastive process to prove that all other possibilities are wrong.

So how does God do this?  He presents a just scenario wherein man has the option to:

a) Contrastively choose God’s way over his own, or

b) Choose to be comparative and justify himself over God

If and when man chooses to be comparative, God can then eliminate that failed scenario and replace it with a new one that gives man another just opportunity to choose to be comparative or contrastive, (to either choose God, or justify himself), until man either proves that he is capable of choosing righteousness on his own, or shows that he cannot be righteous outside of God’s ultimate plan.  In each of these scenarios, God progressively deals with mankind in a different way based on what occurred in the previous scenario.  These scenarios are commonly referred to as “dispensations”.

Now I know that “dispensation” is a word that carries a lot of religious baggage that goes above and beyond just being a moniker for the different scenarios in which God has dealt, (and will deal) with man.  But I’m only using it is because it is convenient.  If the word and its various religious connotations makes you uncomfortable, then just substitute the word “ages” where appropriate.

The Bible seems to depict seven such dispensations.  Five of them have been tried, and man has failed to choose God in each one.  We are currently in the sixth dispensation (and there is reason to believe that we are nearing its end).  There will be one more dispensation following this one, after which all just and reasonable scenarios will have been presented and God can justly implement the meaning of life (Heaven).  For the rest of this year, we will be exploring these dispensations in detail.

Each dispensation is unique and non-repeatable for reasons that we will discuss as we progress.

So what qualities should the first dispensation have?  Since it is the first one, it should be the simplest.  It should give man the purest and simplest opportunity to choose God.  It should have minimal people, minimal outside influences, minimal information, minimal choice, and maximum innocence.

The first dispensation started with the first two people that God created.  The outcome of this scenario obviously had a dramatic impact on the rest of history.  Although it is a familiar narrative, some very important details are usually missed or misunderstood in popular culture.  We’ll examine it next week.

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June 2, 2010

The Humble God

Posted in How to be Right tagged , , , , , , at 12:08 PM by E. M.

The key to becoming like God is to be righteous.  We become more righteous by becoming more right.  The best way to become more right is for someone with all the information in existence (God) to guide us.  We can only accept that guidance if we are willing to be contrastive, otherwise known as humility.  But if the key to righteousness is humility, and God is completely righteous, then is God humble?  Does God think contrastively?  I say yes.

I believe that our entire history on this planet is the process of God contrastively proving that His plan for our righteous is the correct one.

God’s specific plan for our righteousness is called “salvation”.   It is the plan that He has had from the beginning, and its something that we will discuss in detail later in the year.

God’s plan is the right plan (because He’s God after all), but it’s not the only plan.  As we’ve seen in the last couple of posts, it is theoretically possible to become completely righteous by using contrastive thinking to get rid of all our wrong thoughts, and allow God to give us the right information to replace the wrong ones. Then as long as we choose to only do and say what God tells us for the rest of our lives, we could use our complete knowledge of righteousness to be completely just, and presto! We can walk up to God’s throne and say, “move over, there are two of us now!”

While this is theoretically possible, God knows that it is practically impossible, because only someone with a nature that is always and completely right and just would always choose to be right and just.  And of course man’s nature is NOT right and just.

With this correct information about our nature and our inability to always choose righteousness of our own volition, God could have rightly implemented his ultimate plan for us on a unilateral basis right after creation.   This would have been right.  But it would not have been just.

It would have been unjust not to allow man every reasonable opportunity and situation to take the righteous path of choosing God of his own free will, no matter how improbable.

If God would have unilaterally implemented his plan, man could justly ask, “well God, how do we know that your way was best?  If we’d been given the opportunity to do it on our own, how do you know we wouldn’t have chosen you?”

As long as there is even a hypothetical chance that man could choose righteousness outside of His plan, a just God has to allow man that opportunity.

As I said before, our entire history on earth is the story of man experiencing and living out God’s contrastive process.  Gaining an understanding of this process will help bring resolution to many of the questions and “mysteries” that many of us have about how and why God does things the way he does.

So far we’ve looked at why God has a contrastive process for our righteousness, next week we’ll examine how He does it.

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May 25, 2010

Deafening Pride

Posted in How to be Right tagged , , , , , , at 12:08 PM by E. M.

The meaning of life is to be one with God, which means we have to become like God.  God’s nature is always and completely Right. We can intentionally make progress toward being more right by examining every belief we have and actively trying to prove them wrong.  This process is called contrastive thinking.  The Biblical term for this mindset is “humility”.

The opposite of contrastive thinking is comparative thinking.  Comparative thinking is the process of actively trying to prove yourself right.  It is the unwillingness, or inability to consider the possibility that you could be wrong.  Comparative thinking is the state of justifying yourself without regard to whether or not you are actually right.  While contrastive thinking is difficult and makes us uncomfortable, comparative thinking is comfortable and makes us feel good about ourselves.  There is a Biblical term for comparative thinking.  That term is “Pride”.

Throughout the Biblical text, God strongly advocates humility and condemns pride.

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “ God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

The essence of this philosophy is echoed even in our own interpersonal social relations.  Most people respect someone who has the strength to admit they are wrong, learn from it, and grow from the experience.  But no one really likes an unapologetically prideful and arrogant jerk – except teenage girls (and adults with the mentality of a teenage girl).  However, God has a much more practical reason for His position on pride and humility.

Remember that it is God’s desire that we choose Him so that we can be one with Him for eternity.  Thus is it logical to assume that He would want to aid us in our endeavor to become like Him by being more right.  And since God has all the Right information, the best way to aid us would be to provide that “righteous” information to us.

In order to hear and accept righteousness from God, we obviously have to be willing to hear and accept it.  This requires our willingness to be contrastive, because as we saw in the last post, it is highly likely that much of the information we have in our heads is wrong and needs to be corrected and replaced.

But in the words of one of my favorite quotations, “the surest barrier to truth is the assumption that you already have it”.  If you believe (or have convinced yourself) that you already possess righteousness and are unwilling to consider that you may be wrong (i.e. you are prideful), then you will reject any righteousness that God tries to provide you and you will remain “wrong” and further from what God desires.

God values humility (contrastive thinking) because it is the only method by which we can ever be more right.

It is the only way we can accept His righteousness.

It is the only way we can be more like God.

It is the only way to successfully fulfill the meaning of life.

It is the only way that God can get what He desires.

God condemns pride because pride makes all these things impossible.

This brings us to an interesting question.  If the key to being like God is to be humble, then does that mean that God is humble?  The answer is yes.  In fact, it could be said that our entire history on this planet is God’s process of contrastively showing that His plan for humanity is Right.  More details next week.

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May 18, 2010

Jellybeans of Righteousness

Posted in How to be Right tagged , , , , , at 2:08 PM by E. M.

THIS IS YOUR MIND . . . YOUR SWEET, DELICIOUS MIND.

The point of our existence; the meaning of life – is to be like God so that we can be one with God and share in God’s perfection and joy.  The Bible details the mechanics and methodology of this concept, and we will begin exploring them a few posts from now, but as we did when discussing and identifying the First Cause, I want us to understand the process of being more like God through logic, reason, and systematic analysis (hey, that sounds like a great subtitle for a blog!)

God’s nature is Right and Just.  In order to be like God, we would have to be right and just.  God is always and completely Right and Just because He has all the information in existence.  We do not have all the information in existence.  Individually, we only have some of the information in existence.  So the best we can hope for presently is to be completely right in the small sub-set of knowledge we possess and progressively add additional “right” knowledge.

The problem is that a lot of the information we currently have is not “right”.  Right now you have a set of beliefs in your head about all kinds of things, politics, religion, social welfare, health, economics, the best place to get a good steak (that would be Jockos in Nipomo, California by the way), and you are certain that what you believe is correct, otherwise you wouldn’t believe it.  But when we look back over our lives, we will see a litany of things that we once believed were right, but that we later discovered were not.

For example, when I was 16, I was convinced that Tanya Robinson loved me and that she was only dating our high school quarterback in order to make me jealous.  I later realized my error (few girls try to make a second-string line-backer jealous).

Nevertheless, at the time we held our presently acknowledged “wrong beliefs”, we were absolutely sure that they were right.  Thus it is logical to assume that some, if not many, of the things that we now believe right, are actually wrong, and we may be convinced of their wrongness at a future date (except for Jockos.  They really do have the best steaks on earth).

So what’s the solution?  Jellybeans! (Stay with me).  Picture your mind as a bowl full of red and blue jellybeans that represent everything you know and believe.  The blue jellybeans represent the beliefs you hold that are right, and the red jellybeans represent the beliefs you hold that are wrong.  So how do you become more right?  Simple, you take out the red jellybeans (wrong thoughts) and replace them with blue ones (correct thoughts).

But we have a problem.  Remember, we think that all the beliefs we currently hold are right, even the ones that are wrong!  We think all our jellybeans are blue.  We’re mentally colorblind.  Now what do we do?

What if I told you that color was not the only difference in the jellybeans?  What if I told you that the red jellybeans all have a tiny bump on them that could only be discovered under careful scrutiny, but all the blue ones were completely smooth?

In this case, the way to make sure you get rid of the red ones and keep (and add) blue ones would be to take EVERY jellybean in the bowl and examine it carefully for the bump.

In the real (non-jellybean) world, this means that in order to be more right, you need to take EVERY thought and belief you hold and actively try to prove it wrong (examine it for the “bump”).  If you can’t prove it wrong, then you can be comfortable that it is right, but if you do prove it wrong, then you discard it and replace it with correct information.  This is called contrastive thinking.  Thinking contrastively involves looking for a flaw in your thought process.  This flaw is usually a contradiction.

The opposite of contrastive thinking is comparative thinking – actively trying to prove yourself right.  The reason that comparative thinking is inferior is because it assumes that all the jellybeans are blue (and we know that is not true), while contrastive thinking presumes the possibility that red beans exist.  Contrastive thinking does not mean that you assume you are wrong.  It means you are wiling to consider the possibility that you could be wrong.

Comparative thinking is the source of just about every conflict.  Think about it, every argument you’ve had with another person is a matter of you thinking that you are right and trying to prove it (comparatively) to someone else who has a different idea but also think that they are right.  You both get angry and frustrated because neither of you are wiling to back down from your position.  Unless someone is willing to admit that they may be wrong, the situation either escalates out of control, or the “we agree to disagree” stalemate is called (which basically means you both just wasted your time).

But imagine if two people in conflict decided to be contrastive instead of comparative.  If two people had a difference of opinion and each person discussed the ways that their beliefs could possibly be wrong, then there would be no conflict, no anger, and no frustration.

Imagine it on a larger scale.  What if every group, religion, or nation that had a conflict with another decided to be contrastive?  What if each side tried to prove their own beliefs, intentions, opinions assumptions and aspirations wrong?  The result would be . . . world peace! (I cannot take credit for this particular piece of brilliance.  I first heard it here),

So with all these nifty benefits, how come people are not more willing to be contrastive?  Because it hurts!  No one wants to think that they are wrong.  We like being right!  It gives us comfort, order, and security.  Plus, it easy!  Even young children easily master the art of comparative thinking.  How many 4-year-olds have you ever heard say, “maybe candy is not my best dinner option”?

Being contrastive takes strength, discipline, and emotional maturity.

There is a term in the Bible for contrastive thinking.  That term is “humility”.  An examination of the Bible will show that God holds humility in high regard for some very important reasons.  We’ll explore them next week.

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March 22, 2010

And now, a Word from our sponsor

Posted in What's the Point? tagged , , , , , , at 9:48 AM by E. M.

The First Cause of existence is made up of the causeless principles of “Right” and “Just”.  That is all we can know about the nature of the First Cause based solely on human understanding.  Anything else we come to know about the First Cause has to come from a source beyond human understanding; that source would preferably and most accurately be the First Cause itself.

IF the First Cause was to give information about itself to humanity, how would we be able to know that it was authentically from the First Cause and not just some mindless gibberish that someone made up and introduced to a naïve and susceptible portion of the population, turning them into irrationally devoted fanatics (you know, like the “Twilight” books)?

First of all, the information source would have to accurately and consistently reflect what we already know about the First Cause.  It would have to acknowledge that the universe is finite (had a definitive beginning), and that the First Cause is greater than and outside of the physical universe.  The information source would describe the First Cause as immaterial (spirit), supernatural, transcendent, and eternal.  It would have to present the First Cause as possessing all the information in existence (all-knowing).  It would also have to show that the First Cause is always and completely right and just (that righteousness and justice form the core of all else that the First Cause claims to be).

The second, and perhaps most important criteria from an authentication standpoint, is that the information source would have to have self evident proof that it has a supernatural origin, so that no one could claim that it was the result of natural (human) volition.

It just so happens that one such information source exists.  This information source claims to originate from the First Cause itself.  It presents the First Cause with all the attributes that we understand it must have. This information source authenticates its supernatural origin by presenting information that originates from outside of time and space.

This information source is commonly known as the Judeo-Christian Bible. The Bible refers to the First Cause as “God”

The Bible presents God as a transcendent, eternal, all-knowing spirit whose nature is always and completely right and just.  The Bible proves that it has a unique supernatural origin because it does something that no other book can do – it tells history before it happens with 100% accuracy.  Examples of some of the many sites that explain this in detail are here and here.

Now I know what a few of you are thinking right now – “AHA! I was wondering how long it would be before this Bible-thumping Jesus freak abandoned all pretense of reason and rationality and started trying to force God to fit into the logic of existence!  Release the hounds!”

Well, please remember that I spent seven posts proving the existence of God without using the Bible.  Why? Because as my “About Me” page says, I believe that God is true, and if He is, then He should be provable using objective measures.

Of course the Bible is not without controversy, and while it is not the express purpose of this blog to serve as an extensive source of textual criticism, it would only be fair to address some of the common concerns that many people have about the Bible.  And I’ll begin doing just that in the next post.

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March 15, 2010

The Principle Answer

Posted in What's the Point? tagged , , , , at 11:32 AM by E. M.

Note: this post borrows HEAVILY from Modeling God.  Specifically here, and here.  For more in-depth information on the concepts presented in this post please go to the links presented.

All right, I’m (finally) ready to identify the First Cause of existence.  Lets begin with a recap.  Information is transcendent and time-less, and can have a dramatic affect of the physical world.  Principles are the first cause of information. Principles are qualitative (subjective) and quantitative (objective) values.  The First Cause of existence must consist of causeless principles; principles that require no preceding cause.

The qualitative principle that defines the First Cause is “Right”.  The concept of being right is causeless.  At the most basic qualitative measure, something is either right or it is “not right” (wrong) – yes or no, true or false, etc.

The First Cause cannot be wrong because “wrong” is actually a measurement of how “less than right” something is.  In other words, “wrong” cannot exist without “right” existing first. You wouldn’t know that something was wrong unless you had something “right” to compare it to.  (We know that “Spam” is wrong, because filet mignon exists).  And, of course the First Cause cannot be right and not right because we know that contradictions are impossible.

Not only is the First Cause “Right”, it is always and completely Right.  How?  Well, since the First Cause consists of principles, and principles are the first cause of information, then the First Cause is always completely right because it has all the information in existence.

The First Cause must also be a quantitative principle.  That principle is “justice”.  Justice is inherent balance. Justice states that if a value is taken, it must be replaced exactly.  Or if a value is given, then it must be paid back in the same proportion. (On a physical/cosmological level, justice is the first cause of the second law of thermodynamics).

Like “Right”, justice is causeless.  Balance (or stasis) is inherent.  As in the “right” example above, we wouldn’t know what injustice, fairness, or balance was unless justice/balance existed to compare it to.  The First Cause is always and completely Just because, again, it has all the information in existence to insure complete balance.

Now before you start scratching a hole in your head, realize that we all believe in the causeless nature of Right and Just.  We all believe that things are either right or wrong.  Even moral relativists who claim that there is no right or wrong contradict themselves because they believe that moral relativism is “right”!

We all believe in justice.  We prove it anytime we say, “that’s not fair!” We know justice exists and we rely on it as motivation for all our actions.  When we do something, we know that there are consequences which we expect to conform to a code of justice.  We work because we feel we justly deserve compensation.  If someone does something nice for us, we believe that they should be justly thanked.  If someone does something wrong to us, we believe they deserve to suffer just punishment.  Even those who intentionally do wrong and commit injustice recognize “right” and “just” by their intentional violation of it.

So, in summary, the First Cause of existence is Right and Just.

And that concludes this blog, thank you and goodnight.  Watch your step on your way out.  Be sure to tip your waitress.

Oh…you’re still here.

I know what you’re thinking – “Is that it?!  Is that all the First Cause of existence is?  A set of $@%# principles?!  The great force that birthed this grand universe, the cauldron of creation that flung the galaxies against the black of space, that formed the great nuclear furnaces we call stars, that holds atomic structures together and caused the formation of the fantastic metaphysical complexity known as life… is nothing more than the abstract principles of “Right and Just”?  Is that all the First Cause is?  Really?

No.  I’m NOT saying that’s all the First Cause is.  I’m saying that’s all we can know about the nature of the First Cause based solely on Human understanding.  Anything else we know about the nature of the First Cause has to come from a source beyond human understanding.  Logically, the best source of additional information about the First Cause would come from the First Cause itself (and since we know that the First Cause is Right and Just, we can probably trust what it says about itself).

But does the First Cause actually “say” anything about itself?  As a matter of fact, I believe it does…

More Next Week

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