Now and Forever

You hear these words throughout the Bible. And all this time I thought it was just a catchy salutation. But it’s much deeper than that. 

Since we know that the present moment is all that there is. That the past is history and the future is unknown. God is with us in the present. Here and now.

In this world, you can only be absolutely certain of the present moment. Perhaps you have a bad memory, or no memory. And you could die before the sun rises tomorrow. But right now just is. There is no escaping it.

But the promise of the Gospel is eternal life. That after our life on earth, we will continue to live with God for all eternity. So that, in Christianity,  what we know for sure is the present moment and forever.

Now and forever.

Flipping Hitchen’s Razor

Hitchens’s razor is an epistemological razor expressed by writer Christopher Hitchens. It says that the burden of proof regarding the truthfulness of a claim lies with the one who makes the claim; if this burden is not met, then the claim is unfounded, and its opponents need not argue further in order to dismiss it.

Hitchens has phrased the razor in writing as “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” But atheism is presented without evidence. Thus, using Hitchen’s own protocol we can dismiss atheism.

The main rejection to this will likely be that atheism is not making a claim, so there is no burden of proof. Which is the only way that the atheist can accept atheism without any evidence and be epistemologically consistent.

The phrase “God exists” is either true or false, and atheistic worldviews do not include a God. So I think we can reasonably conclude that atheists believe that God doesn’t exist, whether or not they care to defend that position with evidence.

Experience is Evidence

And evidence is justification. And justification is what makes belief knowledge. 

We’ve already discussed how knowledge is justified true belief. But most of our human experience is justified only by our senses. This is knowledge. It’s true belief justified by our senses or personal experience.

For example, your hunger or feelings of hunger are true. You can know that you are hungry without any outside test. No more evidence is required to call yourself hungry, and be right. The interesting part is the only way to know if someone is hungry is to ask them. Perhaps hunger is a bad example. Let’s say that you like the taste of meal. You are the lone arbiter of that truth. Without your feedback, no one will know what you thought of the meal.

In this same way, we know Jesus. The evidence of the Holy Spirit is internal, experiential, so that the testimony of the spirit is some of the best evidence we can give of a risen Lord. Therefore, the closest a non-believer can get to Jesus is through you.

Sin means Free

Sin is proof we have free will. If we didn’t have free will there would be no fall in Eden, no rebellion in heaven,  no need for Jesus.

If there was no free will, there would be no sin. But there is sin, therefore there is free will. 

There is only God’s will in heaven, and therefore is no sin. If a perfect God made perfect creatures, they would be perfect, but not free.

As in Eden , there is God’s will, and our will. And because there was a choice then and is now, the will is free. Not because God doesn’t know the outcome of the decision, but because he allows us to make the decision.

God knows what is going to happen, but still prefers that we choose his will. We have the ability to make a choice outside of his preference. To sin. That is why we’re free.

Want and Fear

What I think is strange is the relationship between want and fear. A fear is a realized negative future reality. A want is very similar. It’s realizing a positive future reality, and preferring it to your current reality. In both instances, the current reality is corrupted because of thoughts outside of it. The fear may or may not ever happen. The want may or may not ever come to fruition.

For me, once the want or fear is identified, I can pray it away. And once it is gone, I can work to be fully present. Otherwise, my mind sits on the want or the fear until the want is filled or fear is overcome. The problem, though, is that all fears cannot be overcome. All desires cannot be filled. So I am either left wanting or fearing.

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So wants and fears are the same in that they both involve us looking forward to something that corrupts our current reality. Either by focusing on something negative that may happen, or something positive that may not happen. It’s only when we can overcome our wants and fears that we can focus on what is and start to be fully present. And the fully-present self is the best self.

 

 

Dragon In My Garage

Preliminary Reading: We Are The Evidence

Carl Sagan equated the existence of God to the existence of a dragon living in someone’s garage.

Instead of having Carl Sagan or someone else try to scientifically validate the existence of this dragon, what if we just asked those people who knew a dragon was in their garage to leave their lights on? That way, if the dragon was not something that could be scientifically tested, we could still have data to look at.

The number of houses with lights on continues to grow as we zoom out from the neighborhood, to the town, state, country, and world. One thing we can know for certain is that people think that there are dragons in their garages.

So each house [with the lights on] amounts to a single claim that a dragon exists. So if a type of dragon does exist that science cannot validate, we appear to have good evidence backing that claim.

Of course, if the only type of dragons that can exist are those that science tells us that it can test, we simply miss out on any dragons of the sort that science cannot test. Obviously, there are two types of possible dragons: those that science can test, and those that science cannot test.

And if we are looking for dragons that science cannot tell us whether they are in a garage or not, I think one of the best ways of testing is to ask the resident if there is a dragon in their garage.

This, though, is not really convincing as evidence.

If all these dragons are different, they could all be made up or mistaken. What becomes good evidence is when we see that there are many dragons of the same type. Or that many homes are occupied by the exact same dragon. Alongside a book that predicts the existence of this dragon.

So yes, a dragon does live in my garage. But don’t take my word for it.

 

Justified True Belief

I read the other day that the common epistemological definition of knowledge is justified true belief. Let’s take a look at atheism through this definition.

Atheism is a ‘lack of belief.’ Therefore if knowledge is belief, atheism can’t be knowledge, because it constitutes no belief. So we start off 0/1. 

Justified means having valid reasons to believe. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But as an atheist, you don’t actually believe, you simply ‘lack belief’. If you had reasons to lack belief, your position would be that God doesn’t exist, not that you simply lack belief in God.

‘True’ would only be applicable if the atheist position was ‘God doesn’t exist.’ Or that the claim ‘God exists’ is false. The only sense where you could consider the atheist position as true is by looking at it as self-affirming. Something like ‘it is true that this atheist doesn’t believe in God.’ But that just doesn’t get us any closer to whether or not God exists.

So if we can define knowledge as justified true belief, atheism fails on all counts. If atheism is framed as a rational pursuit of knowledge, it fails to answer the only question that it attempts to answer.

I don’t believe in Atheists

I want to see evidence that they exist. Everyone seems to know one, but there is simply no good reason to believe that they exist. Science has shown that the universe can operate just fine without them.

I wouldn’t say that I actually know for a fact that they don’t exist. I just personally lack belief in them. I’m really not positive about it, but if you believe in atheists, I will be quick to tell you that you are wrong. 

It’s just that people who believe in atheists are irrational. Clearly they don’t exist. So what if science cannot falsify them. Science has given us all that we need. Sure there are some question marks here and there, but they will all be filled in soon.

It’s really what they stand for that makes them especially hard to believe in. I’m really not sure what it is. With so many conflicting reports, I think it’s more likely that all versions don’t exist than say that some do and some don’t.

I even know some people who claim to have personal experience with atheists. How ludicrous! It’s clearly impossible to have a personal relationship with something that science cannot prove.

There is even a book that says that atheists exist. And that you can talk to them. At some point people will see that once you realize that they can’t exist you can easily conclude that they don’t exist. You don’t even need science or reason. It’s truly child’s play.

Kids with Cancer

Here is one huge objection that you see of theism. That seemingly some kids die early, God must not exist. 

If God exists, he wouldn’t create kids with cancer.

First off, we assume God exists. But if God exists, heaven exists. So that this life is only a pathway to the next life. It’s entirely possible that the kids with cancer go straight to heaven. Cancer then, would not be a curse but a blessing.

The second issue is the assumption that God created the kids with cancer. Of course, God created life. But he didn’t introduce death. That happened in Eden.

If we are promised a future where there is ‘no more death or mourning or crying or pain,’ where ‘God’s will is done,’ there is no cancer in heaven. There is only God’s will. And if there is only God’s will in heaven and no cancer, I think it’s fair to assume that cancer was not part of God’s will.

So why is there cancer then? How about we just cure cancer? Everybody still dies. The problem is not cancer, but death. And suffering.

So instead of asking why God caused cancer, I think it’s more important to be grateful for the time that you have. Because if it wasn’t cancer, it would be something else. And remember, your faith may protect your children