Things that made me think this week…..

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I was sat in Church on Sunday morning and Tony, the elderly gentleman who was preaching gave a fantastic talk  based on the start of the book of Hebrews.

My post today is not related to that preach. Rather, it is related to an attribute of God that Tony mentioned that struck me quite profoundly. The attribute is, ‘upholder’ or, ‘sustainer’.

In Bill Bryson’s incredibly thought provoking and accessible book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bryson opens his book with this,

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Welcome. And congratulations. I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn’t easy, I know.
In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize.
To begin with, for you to be here now trillions
of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble 
in an intricate and intriguingly obliging manner to create you.
It’s an arrangement so 
specialised and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once.
For the next many years (we hope) these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft,
cooperative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience the supremely agreeable but generally
underappreciated state known as existence. 
Why atoms take this trouble is a bit of a puzzle.
Being you is not a gratifying experience at 
the atomic level. For all their devoted attention,
your atoms don’t actually care about you indeed, don’t even know that you are there. They don’t even know that they are there.
They are mindless particles, after all, and not even themselves alive.
(It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time,
you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you.)
Yet somehow for the period of your existence they will answer to a single overarching impulse: to keep you you.
The bad news is that atoms are fickle and their time of devotion is fleeting-fleeting indeed.
Even a long human life adds up to only about 650,000 hours. And when that modest milestone flashes past,
or at some other point thereabouts, for reasons unknown your atoms will shut you down, silently disassemble,
and go off to be other things. And that’s it for you. Still, you may rejoice that it happens at all.
Generally speaking in the universe it doesn’t, so far as we can tell.
This is decidedly odd because the atoms that so liberally and congenially flock together to form living things
on Earth are exactly the same atoms that decline to do it elsewhere.

Interesting huh? It’s so true as well. Having said this, I think he neglects to make inference to a predominant world view that adds so much light to this (frankly) bleak sounding reality.

atoms love you

I’m sure you can guess what I am talking about but, i’ll gladly spell it out for the sake of absolute clarity. I’m making reference to a sustainer God.

The link, as you’ve probably figured out, is that, there is room in a secular understanding of particle physics, for an unknown force to bind these atoms together.

Obviously, the secular view would wish to not attribute these unknowns to a specific intelligence however, I find the bible contains information that directly relates to this notion.

As far back as David, the bible contains pointers to this being true.

In Psalm 54, David is hiding away and is engaged with some pretty deep soul searching in a desperate place. He writes the following beautiful musing,

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. (verse 4). 

Here, David finds himself certain in the notion that it is God who upholds him. It’s important to note here that when David says, ‘sustains’ he means that thoroughly. David was in a place where he relied entirely on God’s provision. With no certain access to food, shelter and water, he had to trust that God would sustain him. This is why I find the psalm’s example to be so striking!

In Hebrews, the writer begins to reflect on who Christ is and emphasises Christ’s divinity. In and amongst this, the writer tells us that,

‘He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.’

Paul, in his letter to the church in Colosse, writes of the preeminence of Christ. He writes the following telling line,

And He [Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)

The Bible is littered with references to God being not only, creator but also, sustainer.

A lot of people argue that a secular, scientific worldview contradicts a faith driven world view entirely. This argument is one of the reasons I feel so inspired when I spot little bridges between the gaps. As most of you know, I was very much of the ‘secular’ persuasion for a good portion of my life. And so, when I spot these bridges of understanding between the old world view I used to hold so close and the new world view I value even more, I feel excited. I get excited because, it is my deepest belief that there are evidences for God embedded in the most contradictory of ideas about this universe and how it operates.

I’m not out to convince those of a secular disposition on my perspective i’m just pointing out that, where you might find gaps in which you have to accept an unknown, the bible suggests that the unknown is God.

In a debate where neither side can prove their perspective is correct, we must, as logical and rational people, examine the evidence. I always base my assumptions and conclusions on the argument that presents to me the most compelling of evidences.


 

 

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The Matrix is a system Neo….

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The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

-morpheus

The global conspiracy is out there people (or should I say sheeple?). There is a dark power behind the curtains pulling all the strings and keeping us enslaved. This power seeks to control us and render us mindless drones to its will.

I’m not going to lie, I get irritated at this kind of attitude. It’s absolutely everywhere right now. Ever seen the global phenomenon that is the zeitgeist movement? Or, heard the powerfully worded messages purported by notable figures like David Ike or Alex Jones? It’s everywhere. People talking to us as though they are enlightened and have uncovered this dark power behind everyday society. They use excitingly loaded language that implies we really do live in a matrix-like simulation.

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I have, in my friendship group, a list of friends (almost too many to count) who subscribe to this way of thinking one way or another. They will claim that institutions (or, as Louis Althusser would have called it, ‘ideological state apparatus’) such as our government, organized religion, the financial system etc, exist purely to control and manipulate the populace. They, rather smugly, spout that, they have removed themselves from this system and have become free people in the process. Far too enlightened for church, they lead us to believe that a life without religion is a liberated life. They proclaim that science has advanced beyond the need for blind faith and that anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their worldview is naive, misinformed and delusional.

I find this insulting. But, it is also a very clever play in their argument. In applying the deluded filter to any debate with a person of faith, you instantly tip the field of debate in your favor. If deluded becomes a premise rather than what it actually is (a misinformed assumption), then anyone of faith brave enough to subject themselves to a debate is fighting a loosing battle from the offset.

This is all slight digression, the reason I am writing this article isn’t to level the playing field once again. I am writing to suggest an alternative to the global power-struggle theory that dominates modern western pseudo philosophical thought.

I was watching an Attenborough documentary the other day and something struck me in his commentary.  It was a show about the origins of life and, right at the start, without a falter or hesitation Attenborough states the age of the earth as absolute fact without providing any evidence to support this claim.

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

Before this article is scoffed at, I would like to make some clarifications. I am not going to say, one way or the other, what side of the debate my own views fall on and I am not saying their isn’t evidence available for the theory of evolution. What I am saying is this, we are bombarder with information on the television, in the news and even in school that is presented to us as absolute fact when it simply isn’t the case. It is akin to me presenting to you the story of Jesus Christ as fact without providing evidence to support my assertion. Now, when a Christian does this, they are instantly dismissed for not having evidence however, the same can be applied to the non-believer.

I was in conversation with my brother, an ardent atheist and evolutionist (well, that is the world view he subscribes to, he certainly hasn’t contributed scientifically towards the theory nor does he practice in that field) regarding the subject of faith. He dismissed any points I made as whimsy and refuted by sighting that the theory of evolution is proven fact and destroys the need for a creator God. This is just not true. Evolution isn’t and has never been, proven fact. It is a well evidenced and supported theory with a lot going for it but, unless you are an expert in the field, it is ill-advised to quote conclusions made by practitioners and philosophers in the field as fact.

It is an act of faith to say in a debate with a person of religious faith, ‘I know we evolved from so and so because there is proof of it’ without knowing the evidence intimately. To refuse to believe in God because of what Dawkins, or Stephen Fry, or Ricky Gervais or, Sam Harris or any other famous Atheists say is as much an act of faith as to say I believe in God.

I’m not saying you must believe in one thing or the other. I’m saying, whatever you chose to believe in, do it because of your own research, your own investigation and not just pick the side with the loudest voice and argument.

I gave my life to follow Christ not because I was deluded or coerced, not because I was part of the brainwashed masses. I did it because I examined the world I lived in, I examined the evidence before my eyes and recognized room for a creator God. I examined the evidence put forward by people of faith and found that the Bible was entirely relevant to the way the world works. I found the evidence matched and was left with no choice but to admit, however improbable it may seem on the surface, Jesus did live, he did die and, to my astonishment and surprise did rise again. With this, I had no choice but to recognize this as truth and devote myself to God.

the evidence of God is everywhere romans 1 18 24

I cannot force you to believe this, I can’t even try. However, examine the evidence for yourself. There is nothing out there that I have seen that has been able to disprove God. There has been nothing I have seen to prove there is a God. However, the evidence appears to me to point towards God and Jesus.

I’d like to end with my alternative to the cultural paradigm offered above.

There is a conspiracy to control and subdue the masses. This evil lusts for a new world order in which the shadowy forces behind the scenes rule over mankind. People really do live in the matrix with the wool pulled tightly over their eyes. They are sold a false freedom by the new world order. This Freedom comes in the guise of freedom of consciousness, freedom to not believe.

This force is known as sin, it is controlled by the purveyor of evil, the deceptor, the serpent. It seeks to blind us to the truth that we can be free.

Someone has come to free us from the matrix, his name is Jesus and he defeats the deception. He opens our eyes to freedom and gives us an eternal future in paradise free from the manacles forged by the enemy.

“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Finally, I’ve replaced the word matrix with sin.

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“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Sin

Do you want to know what it is?

Yes.

Sin is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

What truth?

That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”