The Disappearance of the Need for Truth

Truth, can be defined as “That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”[1] The Merriam Webster dictionary defines Truth, with a capital “T”, as “a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality.”[2]

In this modern age we are not short of things to do or activities to fill each day. The ubiquitous smartphone provides a compelling and ever-present link to friends, family, and acquaintances, and also to personalized, pre-selected sources of information that constantly interrupt and inform our consciousness. With on-demand access to all of this information and advice, together with the accumulated historical experiences of several millennia, it might reasonably be expected that people today would be better informed, better prepared, and closer to understanding Truth than any generation that came before them.

Multiple Truths?

But this is not the case. The latter part of the twentieth century saw the rise of “postmodernism,” a movement which denies the validity of objective reality and Fact or Fake concept, Hand flip wood cube change the word, April fools dayencourages each individual to create their own truth and then live accordingly. An article by Rebecca McKown entitled, Step Into Your Truth With These 4 Simple Steps  encourages readers to “define your truth and roll with it.”[3] The spread of personal communication devices and the accompanying growth of informational services is further empowering the individual and offering the seductive promise of being in self-directed control of all aspects of life. However, If people really were able to create their own truths, there would be a multiplicity of truths in this world. As an engineer, I know and believe that, in all things, there is only one truth. There is only one winner of the Superbowl in 2019, irrespective of the wishes of thousands of Rams fans.

Rules of the house

If we visit a museum, we accept without question the fact that this organization can and will lay down the rules for our visit, such as the entrance fee, opening times, and whether or not photography is permitted. It doesn’t matter what we would like the rules to be, we don’t get that choice. The truth, as far as the house rules are concerned, is established by the owner. When visiting a house in Japan, we would of course follow the house rule of removing our shoes prior to entering the house and entering only those rooms into which the host invited us. If we were uncertain about what we could or could not do, we would ask the host’s permission. In these and all other similar instances, the accepted rule is that the owner of the house can establish the house rules.

In God’s House

In the same way, since we did not ourselves create, nor do we own, the world we live in, we need to know and understand the rules of its creator and owner. God went to extraordinary lengths to create a world that is finely-tuned for our existence and pleasure. The very least we should do is to know and follow the rules He has laid down for us to follow while we are guests in His house. To do anything else would be just downright rude!

When we visit someone else’s house, we don’t invent our own rules for the visit, we follow the established house rules. When compared to eternity, our time on Earth is just a brief “visit,” so we have no justification for believing that we can create our own reality and do what we want to. We are in God’s house, and we need to know and follow His rules, the single truth of which is comprehensively described in His Word.

 

[1]English Oxford Living Dictionaries, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/truth, accessed April 3, 2019.

[2]Merriam-Webster.com, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/truth, accessed April 3, 2019.

[3]Rebecca McKown, Step Into Your Truth With These 4 Simple Steps, HuffPost Contributor Platform, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/step-into-your-truth-with_n_5564066, accessed April 3, 2019.

Thoughts on Interaction Between the Physical World and the Spiritual Realm

Living in the physical world, our physical senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) and sensitivities are constantly bombarded by physical stimuli, so it is not surprising that many of us consider the physical realm to be the sum of mankind’s existence. If you take the time to look, however, there is ample evidence of physical interaction from a realm outside of this.

How Does the Physical World Interact with the Spiritual Realm?

For our physical world to have direct interaction with the spiritual, or supernatural,

Idea of Earth creation

realm, one of two things must happen. Either the physical world must extend into the supernatural realm, or vice-versa. But how, exactly, does this happen? There are many recorded instances of the spiritual, or “higher” realm communicating with the physical, or “lower” realm, such as the appearance of angels (Lk 2:13), and God speaking to humans (Mt 3:16). The physical mechanism of that communication is less clear. Did God actually cause the angels to temporarily physically exist in the earthly realm, and did He generate physical sound waves, or did He cause all those present to believe simultaneously that they saw or heard exactly what He wanted them to? It may have been neither. If we are already creating three-dimensional lifelike images using holographic technology, I imagine that it would certainly be possible for God to project images into our world without the need to generate physical presences.

Bidirectional Communication Between Realms

The main physical messenger from the higher realm was, of course, Jesus. His natural birth and documented life within the world for more than thirty-three years leaves little doubt that His was a physical presence. There is also evidence of frequent non-physical communication from the supernatural realm, such as messages from God in dreams (Mt 1:20), or in direct communication with the sensibilities of humans, as in the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 9:12). There are also numerous biblical references to actions by angels relating to the physical world, including observing (1 Cor 4:9), encouraging (Acts 27:23-26), rescuing (Acts 5:19-20), and protecting (Dan 6:22).

Looking at communication from the worldly realm to the supernatural realm, the Bible describes several instances of people being granted the ability to visit, or to “see” into heaven. In biblical order, these include Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17), Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:1), Stephen (Acts 7:55-56), Paul (2 Cor 12:2-4), and John (Rev 4:1-11). As well as being able to see into heaven, Ezekiel also describes being spoken to by “the spirit” and eating a scroll during his vision. Of course, the most common form of interaction from the worldly realm is prayer, and this is a unidirectional flow of information, with responses that are uncertain to man, subject to the will of God, and not under man’s control.

Miracles

In his book Miracles, C. S. Lewis defines the word “miracle” as “an interference with Nature by a supernatural power.”[1]  He describes just two classes of events – miracles and natural events.[2]He then establishes the case for the supernatural by dealing first with philosophy, and then demonstrates that rational thought and moral standards have supernatural sources.[3]Later, he uses this principle to show that man is “a composite being – a natural organism tenanted by, or in a state of symbiosis with, a supernatural spirit.”[4]When we, as individuals, cannot even fully comprehend our own personal element of the supernatural, how much more difficult would it be to describe the supernatural realm itself?

The perpetration of miracles opens up further questions on the interaction between the supernatural and the physical realm. Looking at the first miracle performed by Jesus, when He changed water into wine, exactly what process was used to effect the transformation? The production of wine is usually a lengthy process, but this happened immediately. Did this wine already exist within another dimension of the spiritual realm, and was it then moved into the physical world, or does God have the ability to instantaneously create any material, anywhere, at any time? The latter, perhaps, would not be difficult for a Being that originally spoke the universe into existence (Psalm 33:6), demonstrating an ability to create matter from nothing.

[1]Lewis, C. S., (2009-06-03), Miracles (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis), HarperCollins, Kindle Edition (p. 5).

[2]Ibid., (Kindle location 2741).

[3]Ibid., (p. 60).

[4]Ibid., (p. 203).

Does God Exist? And Why It Is Really Important to Know For Sure – Part 2

Our Environment Is Finely Tuned for Us

If the absence of physical explanations for important aspects of our lives acts as negative evidence that points towards the existence of God, there is plenty of positive evidence for His existence also. A mathematical examination of the finely-tuned-for-life nature of so many of the conditions that make up our environment, makes any claim that it all

Jesus Christ in heaven

came to exist by chance appear groundless.[1] For example, the four forces that hold our universe, and everything in it, together are the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetic forces, and gravity. If just one of these had been slightly different, even in some cases merely by a factor of 1 in 1037, the basic elements of our universe could not have existed, much less complex life. One chance in 1037 is roughly the same as buying one ticket and winning the national lottery 5 times in succession.

If gravity had been slightly different, the structure of the universe would not have been as life-friendly as it now is. If the value of the gravitational constant were slightly larger, one consequence would be that stars would become too hot and burn out too quickly. If it were smaller, stars would never burn at all and heavy elements would not be produced.[2] If the strong radioactive force had been slightly different, there would have been a totally different set of elements within the physical realm. If the strong nuclear force were slightly more powerful, then there would be no hydrogen, an essential element of life. If it was slightly weaker, then hydrogen would be the only element in existence.[3]

Similar fine-tuning is evident in many other aspects of our physical world, such as the position of the Earth within our galaxy, the structure of the solar system and of the Earth itself, and the composition and characteristics of essential life-supporting materials such as the atmosphere and water.

The (Irreducible) Complexity of Life

Further evidence of the handiwork of a supernatural designer lies in the complex structure of the human body. The DNA molecule incorporated into most of our living cells holds around 1.5GB of information, or about 800 electronic books, stored in a four-character digital code. It is not just the complexity that defies explanation, but the nature of the complexity, combined with the huge amount of information encoded within each one of the one hundred trillion living cells in one human body. It is remotely conceivable that complex organisms might have evolved over an enormous amount of time, but the recent discovery of “irreducibly complex” molecular machines in living cells appears to disprove the Darwinian theory of evolution, which is currently taught in our public-school system. Darwin’s theory requires that natural random changes will generate a slightly-improved version of the original, which will then survive over others when reproducing because of its superiority. Irreducible complexity, referred to by Michael Behe in his book, Darwin’s Black Box, happens when a device or organism requires several separate components to be simultaneously in place to function, and hence could not possibly have evolved on a step-by-step basis.[4]

A simple example of irreducible complexity is the mousetrap. It has just six components, but if any single one was to be taken away, the mousetrap would not function. Therefore, it could not have evolved in the way that Darwin’s theory requires. The butterfly, which metamorphoses through three separate life forms prior to its adult form capable of reproduction, provides further contradictory evidence. Darwin himself stated, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.”[5] If he and the scientists of his time could have had access to electron microscopes, he would have found many “such cases.”

Summary

In summarizing both parts of this blog, we can draw two conclusions. First, there has to be a supernatural realm in existence to explain certain aspects of our physical lives, and this could take the form of the spiritual realm, in which God and spirits reside. Second, the amazingly-complex and life-friendly construction, both of our bodies and of our environment, reflect the work of an incredibly capable designer using skills far in advance of any human capability. Sounds to me a lot like the omniscient, omnipotent, loving God of Christianity!

 

 

[1]Taeil Albert Bai, The Universe Fine-Tuned for Life, http://sun.stanford.edu/~bai/finetuning.pdf.

[2]Evolution News & Science Today, I D’s Top six – the Fine Tuning of the Universe, November 8, 2017, https://evolutionnews.org/2017/11/ids-top-six-the-fine-tuning-of-the-universe, accessed 1/12/19.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, (New York: Touchstone, 1966).

[5]Darwin, Origin of Species, Chapter 6, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/origin/chapter6.html.

 

Does God Exist? And Why It Is Really Important to Know For Sure – Part 1

Christianity, if true, is of infinite importance

I have been a Christian for 15 years but spent the first 55 years of my life without giving much serious thought to religious or spiritual matters. Now, I know better. I agree with author C. S. Lewis when he states, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

Jesus Christ in heaven

If God does exist, and Jesus Christ is His Son, then all that Jesus tells us is true. In particular, His words about how, after this life on Earth, we can have a glorious eternal future with Him, instead of a miserable one without, should be our no-argument, must-follow, guidelines for living. After all, an 80-year or so lifetime on Earth is of little consequence when compared with eternity. Hence the tag line of this blog, encompassing my guidelines for earthly living, He rules, not me; His rules, not mine.

Conversely, if Jesus was not who He said He was, then all that He said and that which was written about Him would be false and could be totally disregarded. Now that I understand how these two widely different scenarios are the only two possible, I look back with some shame at my many decades of lukewarm indifference. I should have at least taken the time to check out the basics of each position.

If each of us, individually, is to comprehend the existence of God, we need to know the answers to two very important and fundamental questions: (1) Is there a God? and (2) Is the Christian God the one true God? A negative response to the first question would remove the need for the second so my initial focus will be on the former, which is addressed in this two-part blog. The second will be covered in a later blog.

Infinite distance and the beginning of time

Our physical realm consists of three spatial dimensions plus time. Atheists believe that the physical realm is all there is, and hence a God who lives outside of this realm cannot exist. For me, however, there are two aspects of physical life on Earth that steadfastly resist any practical physical explanation and therefore point to the existence of something more. Even before I became a Christian, I struggled with understanding how the physical world could explain the two concepts of infinite distance and the beginning of time.

Nothing Is Infinite in the Physical World

The word “infinite” is a label which we apply to immeasurably huge, limitless, quantities and is frequently used in many areas of mathematics and in life in general. While it is a useful, easy-to-use label, the simple word hides the huge complexity behind it, and the mathematical properties of this label just do not work in the physical world. For example, if I have an infinite amount of apples, and give you half, the result is that we both have an infinite amount of apples. This outcome totally defies common sense, as well as the law of conservation of matter and energy. An infinite distance has no boundaries, and yet everything in our physical world has a beginning and an end. So once again, infinity just cannot be explained within our physical realm. Another quantity that must have had a beginning is time itself. Before that, or possibly outside of that, must exist an alternative dimension of time, which supports an agent capable of creating our own temporal dimension.

Physical and spiritual realms

If there are clear examples of quantities that cannot be explained by the laws of nature and our own physical realm of three dimensions plus time, then there must exist an alternative realm outside of our own. This may take the form of an extra dimension or even several dimensions. A fourth spatial dimension would be invisible to us except when it intersected with our own three dimensions. At these locations, it would support actions that transcend the physical and the alternative realms, such as the existence of miracles, the appearance of angels, and the virgin birth and ascension of Jesus Christ. As a Christian, I now understand this alternative realm to be a “spiritual” realm, where God and spirits reside, and which contains our future home in heaven.