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Mandelbrot Complexity Gives Us the Illusion of Free Will

CGI house, field, trees and clouds.
This house and its environment were generated entirely by computer software. The clouds, the birds, the trees, and even the positions of the leaves on the trees and shrubs. Image (using Blender 3D): Mayqel (CC BY-SA 2.5).

We have free will, but it remains extremely limited. This physical universe, in all its colorful complexity only gives us, as humans, the illusion of free will. In reality, we possess only one slender dimension of free will—whether or not to return to God—to resume our spiritual viewpoint, rather than remain stuck in our physical, egoistic viewpoint. All other forms of apparent free will are a lie. While we hold ego as our viewpoint and master, we remain controlled by the laws of physical reality. These rules include the laws of karma.

If we remain physical beings, controlled by physical ego, the laws of action-reaction duality will continue to control us. We will decide our direction based on selfish fears and desires. We will remain self-concerned, and thus limited.

Instead, if we choose to give up egoistic self-concern, we lose all limitations. Suddenly, we are no longer a cog in the machine.

Mandelbrot Set, CGI and the Deterministic, Physical Universe

A branch of mathematics called “chaos theory” provides us with an iterative process for creating complexity. Using this mathematics gives animators the ability to create realistic looking clouds, trees, mountains and waves rippling on the surface of water.

Given the same inputs, the software algorithm will produce the same results every time. The results of the program are enslaved by those algorithmic laws. Change the inputs—even very slightly—and the output becomes radically different, within the restraints of the existing system.

Thus, such a complex, non-linear system is said to be globally stable, but locally unpredictable.

The photograph at the start of this article is not real. It is entirely computer-generated imagery (CGI). Every leaf, every blade of grass, and every puff of cloud was created by a specialized computer algorithm especially designed for its particular “fractal”—fractional dimension.

A computer generated image follows specific laws created by the programmer. They mimic the laws of physical reality, by creating something from specific inputs. Change the inputs, even very slightly, and the output changes. This is what is called the “butterfly effect,” where a butterfly flapping its wings in Beijing on May 1st will affect the weather in New York City on May 31. If the butterfly flaps 3 times, New York gets rain; if it flaps 4 times, New York gets sunshine. That tiny change ripples through the system, changing larger and larger blocks only very slightly, but a large block of air will have a huge impact on the direction of the winds a month later.

Milky Way galaxy and laser beam shot from ESO observatory
Milky Way galaxy and the laser observatory. Photo: ESO, Y. Beletsky (CC BY 3.0).

Point a laser beam into the sky. Change its direction by far less than a degree, even less than a minute of arc (1/60th of a degree) and even less than one second of arc (1/60th of a minute). That tiny bump in the direction of the laser would miss its target by centimeters (inches) if a satellite in orbit. It would miss its target by hundreds of kilometers (miles) if a base on Mars. And it would miss it by millions of kilometers if a mission to Alpha Centauri—our next-door neighbor star system. Tiny changes can have huge effects, even on the simplest of algorithms (mathematical, step-by-step procedures).

Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz (1646–1716) talked about fractional exponents three centuries before CGI became a reality. We know, for instance, that the square of a number demonstrates a 2-dimensional space, and a number cubed demonstrates a 3-dimensional space, but a number raised to the power of 2.71828 (the natural base, e) gives us a space that is considerably more than 2-dimensional, but not quite 3-dimensional. Fractional dimensions describe the projection of forms to fill out only partially a given space. The larger the exponent, the more completely it fills out that next higher dimension.

Leibniz, by the way, was co-discoverer of calculus, along with Sir Isaac Newton. However, today we use the notation invented by Leibniz—not that of Newton. So, Leibniz was a genius amongst geniuses and his work still finds value even today.

CGI spheres, including reflective surfaces (metallic spheres).
This computer-generated image shows the software capabilities of reproducing the trait of reflecting surfaces, using a technique called “ray shading” or “ray tracing.” It relies heavily on trigonometry and a branch of mathematics called “matrix math.” Image: Dratini0 (CC0).

In a simple software program, like the one which created the Mandelbrot Set, shown here on a few of its infinite series of scales, the results generated form a relatively simple pattern of apparent complexity. It remains simple in its self-similarity on an infinite number of scales; it appears complex because of the varying details. In the physical universe, we have millions of simultaneously running algorithms which distort each other with additional inputs. A galaxy is a rather simple structure of stars orbiting their collective center of mass. Add to this the complexity of galaxies which pass near one another or which collide with one another, throwing those simple patterns into disarray.

CGI wet fur
CGI wet fur: Maximilian Schönherr (CC BY-SA 3.0).

On a smaller scale, natural cloud algorithms are disrupted by the natural geological surface, with its mountains and canyons, plus plains and open bodies of water. And these are occasionally interrupted by a giant meteor smashing into the surface. These disturbances appear entirely random, but they are, instead, entirely deterministic. Even the formation of life is driven by these same deterministic laws. The secular scientists get it all wrong by thinking that “the big nothing” did it, or as Hawking so inanely suggested, “gravity did it.” The biblical literalists get it all wrong by thinking that God created it all 6,000 years ago. The truth is far more interesting and we’re still discovering its details. God created it all, but outside of time; time didn’t exist as we know of it until God rested—some 13+ billion years ago. But even that is an inaccurate portrayal. Our languages were not built to discuss such topics accurately. God resting was not in the past, but at right angles to the time stream. See? There He is, smiling back at us! Over there (to the side of the physical universe); not back there (in the past).

Blind Spots, Leibniz, John the Baptist and Humility

We each have our own blind spots. I have lived in minor “fear” of my own blind spots for most of my 70 years. Discovering that my own IQ was the lowest in my family was actually a blessing, some 52 years ago. Mine is still in the top 1% of planet Earth, so its relative utility remains a benefit. But at 139, there are countless millions of people far smarter than I. Predictably, ego has long wanted to take credit for everything.

God had given me the ability to see patterns. Many polymaths of the past have had similar capabilities, but too frequently, their blind spots prevented them from seeing certain things that could have advanced their fields far more.

The Wikipedia article on Leibniz tells us, “The work of Leibniz anticipated modern logic and analytic philosophy, but his philosophy also assimilates elements of the scholastic tradition, notably that conclusions are produced by applying reason to first principles or prior definitions rather than to empirical evidence.” Thus, Leibniz and his fellows retarded the growth of science by being too attached to Aristotelian logic, rather than relying on evidence—God’s creation. (And I use Wikipedia cautiously; sometimes it provides us with great value, but other times, it misleads or misrepresents. Yet, any source of information can do these things.)

A human genius is frequently hampered by their intelligence. They see certain patterns of existence, but are blinded to others by their certainty. Their extreme intelligence locks their own blindness into place through ego. I was lucky enough to see this in my own self, so I continue to struggle with my own huge ego, hoping I don’t miss the dimensions of reality that will yield new answers to my near-infinite supply of questions.

But my ego and intelligence tend to drive me to impatience with those who do not have the humility to learn new things, but are stuck in their current rut. Every viewpoint can have value so long as we don’t remain attached to it.

Fact: No one knows everything! Yet, there are some who are certain they know everything about a narrow slice of existence—their field of expertise. That certainty blinds them. That certainty acts as de facto implied omniscience. This attitude turns lofty intellects into “dumb geniuses”—trapped by their own certainty.

The entire body of science has one huge blind spot: that of clinging to a heavily flawed paradigm for discovery—the paradigm of skepticism, with its strong negative bias of “doubt.” Discovering this flaw was no easy feat. But once you see it with sufficient clarity, there is no un-seeing it.

The correct paradigm for science, and in fact any discovery, is one of restraint and humility. Restraint is for keeping the individual from jumping to the easiest conclusion before we have all possible empirical data, and humility is for the necessary space in the mind to receive the new answers. Without humility, the individual’s mental “cup” is overflowing with knowledge that prevents all learning. These two traits—restraint and humility—remain entirely neutral (zero bias). That scientists and philosophers would continue to insist that skepticism is how science is done, remains a monument to human stupidity. Scientific method insists that we remain unbiased, but the field of natural research (science) remains shackled with its potent negative bias.

In the field of spirituality—the study of the superior half of reality—too many are trapped by their own certainty (ego). Only humility will cure that disease.

But if science can remain shackled by such flaws as skepticism, spirituality is doubly endangered. Science at least has physical guideposts—evidence. Spirituality has no physical or persistent guidepost with which to gauge progress. John the Baptist is a prime example of this problem.

Painting: the beheading of John the Baptist
The beheading of John the Baptist. Painting: c.1869, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824–1898) (PD).

Prophets had foretold that Elias (Elijah) would come before the Messiah, to prepare the way.

When Christ’s disciples asked Jesus about this, he told them that Elijah had indeed come and that the enemies of spirituality had killed the reincarnated Elijah. Then, the disciples understood that Jesus had been referring to John the Baptist, who had become a stumbling block because of his spiritual forgetfulness. Not only did he forget his purpose in preparing the way for Jesus, but he had forgotten his own past identity as Elijah. When some of his fellow Jews asked John if he were Elijah reborn, he said, “no,” but Jesus contradicted John the Baptist. Who do we believe? Perhaps we can believe the one who was far more spiritually aware—Jesus.

Jesus said that no human was as spiritually ascendant as John the Baptist, yet John was heavily flawed because of his ignorance—his lack of humble confidence and continuity of consciousness. How can we, who have done so little spiritually ever hope to achieve even as much as Elijah-John the Baptist?

The answer is quite simple: Like the far truer paradigm for science—restraint and humility—we need to use this same paradigm for discovery in our spiritual quest.

Ego and physical law will continue to act as a major distraction. There is nothing we can do to change that. What we can change is how we react to those inputs—by not reacting at all. When we understand the true meaning of Christ’s lesson, to turn the other cheek, we begin to see the right path to true free will. Every physical reaction—fighting evil, resisting temptation, raging against the enemy—all lead to remaining a cog in the machine of physical reality—trapped!

We have free will, but this narrow thread points in only two directions—a 1-dimensional universe of decision—on or off—the “binary” decision of “to be spiritual, or to be physical?” That is the immortal question of all time.

The Reason for the Sabbath

Christian church interior, a place for the Sabbath.
Christian church interior, a place for the Sabbath. Photo: Tama66 (CC0) Pixabay.

Traditionally, the Sabbath is Saturday—the seventh day of the week—sundown to sundown. In fact, in Spanish, “Saturday” is “Sabado”—the Sabbath.

This changed for Christianity under Emperor Constantine who made use of the new religion for his own political aspirations. He seemed to use the sun god more than any Christian symbolism. Sunday was made an official day of rest for the empire. For all of the new Christians who joined the church because of Constantine, their attachment to pagan beliefs muddied the church with perversions like this. The beginning of the new solar year at the shortest day became the birthday of Jesus—December 25, though there was no known date for Christ’s actual birth.

What is the importance of Saturday over Sunday, or sundown instead of midnight? I don’t know, but I remain open to finding out. For now, I err on the side of caution and because it feels better on a certain level to be doing what was traditional rather than politically expedient for the followers of Constantine. For some, Sunday is now the last day of the week in accordance with God’s day of rest. Others treat it as the first day and squirm at the awkward mismatch.

God’s 7 Days

God's creation of Adam, by Michelangelo
God’s creation of Adam, by Michelangelo (PD).

In Genesis, we learn about 6 days of creation and a 7th day of rest. In my own research, I learned that a creation gains persistence by the source resting or allowing it into manifestation. Before the resting, there was no time or persistence for that item.

Thus, I had learned the pattern of creation and manifestation.

With this pattern, it seems clear that the 6 days of creation all occurred before time existed—or outside of time as we know it. Only with God resting did physical reality gain persistence or time.

So, what were the 6 days? Were they merely metaphor for 6 blueprints or ideas—God’s Word—for what was to be manifested?

Traditional Sabbath

The last day of the week—one day in seven—was to be set aside in order to get closer to God. It was to be a day of rest from the concerns of the physical world—thus the prohibition against working.

In physics, we know that any change in motion requires work. Breathing requires work. Walking. Talking. Eating. Everything we do as humans requires the expending of energy to make the physical body move.

So, the prohibition from work is not entirely literal. Christ and his disciples were accused of breaking the Sabbath because they gleaned from the fields enough grain to eat. Christ reminded them that King David had done the same to keep his troops from starving.

An enemy, knowing the Jewish prohibition against work on the Sabbath might choose that day for attack, just as the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor—Sunday, December 7, 1941. But such an enemy would be wrong.

Jews prepare their food for the Sabbath on Friday so that they can have food—or they fast. Surely, they would fight on the Sabbath so that they would have lives for future Sabbaths, because life is sacred.

Moses had been a literalist and was painfully strict with the law he had brought down from the mountain. When one old man gathered firewood on the new Sabbath, people had him stoned to death for breaking the law. Christ would not have done that, for he understood the law for more deeply than did Moses. Also, those were different times. The Hebrews needed a strong hand to help them overcome their rowdiness. So, Moses is honored and forgiven his harshness. We must now understand more deeply the meaning of the law—not as mindless robots, but as active participants.

Healing the World

The Sabbath is all about healing or perfecting the world—“tikkun olam.” And we make the world perfect by first perfecting ourselves.

But what does this mean?

We start each life in sin. This is an emotionally charged statement that makes many people uncomfortable. It remains a vague generality that seems to say, “You’re wrong,” or “You’re bad.” But that’s not the whole picture or intent behind this idea.

All evil comes from self-concern (egoism or selfishness). When a baby is born, it is entirely selfish. This does not mean it is actively evil, but it is self-consumed. That’s the nature of infancy. We don’t blame the baby for this or condemn them for being so self-centered. Without the help and attention of adults, the baby would easily die.

Eventually, though, the baby must grow out of its selfishness—its childish ways. Sadly, most people never quite shed all of their egoism even unto their senior years.

Cog in the Machine

The physical universe is an entirely deterministic machine. Like billiard balls on a pool table, these Homo sapiens bodies follow the physical laws of action-reaction reality. As long as we remain entirely physical, we will have zero free will.

Even a brilliant man like Sam Harris, writing a book about free will, is merely following the programming of physical reality. He is merely a cog in the machine, as are we all.

The only vector of free will is that of deciding to give up our childish ego—our self-concern. The moment we do this, we find ourselves being in the world, but no longer of the world. We are now spirit—sons of God, every bit as much as was Yehoshua of Nazareth, Elijah, Moses, Siddhartha Gautama and Lao Tzu.

Christ once said that the Truth will set you free. Where resting, allowing or “not knowing” a creation will give it persistence, knowing the truth of that creation will return it to its instant of creation—in the timeless state of instantaneity.

Goal of the Sabbath

Our goal on the Sabbath must then be to find the truth of our physical self, as it is, so that we may be free of it. We may still possess the body, but we view the world as spirit.

This does not mean that we make our Homo sapiens body disappear, but we find the physical linkages that bind us to the body. We also find the entirety of ego, for it is also physical.

The ego is made up of dichotomous desires and aversions. Ego is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In fact, ego consists of a set of conceptual dichotomies, things like good-evil, wisdom-stupidity, compassion-indifference, love-hate, victim-perpetrator, generosity-selfishness, and many others.

Our job is to take full responsibility for each egoistic desire and to convert it into altruistic intention.

Notice: Egoistic desire is inward, toward self. Altruistic intention is outward, toward others as if they were self. This is the wisdom of true Kabbalah (Bnei Baruch).

This, then, is the purpose of the Sabbath. The perfecting of self—away from physical, dichotomous ego—toward altruistic spirit with the 4 traits of God:

  • Unconditional love,
  • Perfect responsibility,
  • Utter humility, and
  • Fearless confidence.

Walk on the Water — How Many Popes Have Done It?

Walk on the Water: Did this pope, John Paul II ever walk on the water?
Pope John Paul II in Brazil, 1997. Did he ever walk on the water?

Two thousand years ago, several men set out in a small boat to cross the Sea of Galilee and ran into what they thought was a bit of bad luck, for their boat was not storm-worthy. What happened next became one of the most important stories of humanity’s history.

Though in his lifetime, Peter held no such position, the Catholic Church counts him as their first pope. After all, he had been given the name “Peter,” from the Greek for “rock,” because the founder of Christianity had said that upon this rock he would build his church. Sounds like something a cult leader would say. Some cult! Close to one third the population of Earth has been counted as members of that once tiny church.

Part of the story of Christianity is the miracles. Arguably, they were every bit as important as the self-sacrifice given to us by that founder. Why? They were not meant as a PR trick to dazzle the masses, though perhaps they did have that effect at times. They were meant as an inspiration for us to change our point-of-view.

I’m not talking about cult mental programming, here. I’m talking about moving the center of consciousness from the false, mortal self to the true, immortal self. And what the heck does that mean? Glad you asked. Humans have a dual identity, sort of like Clark Kent and Superman, only better. Genesis 1:26 says that Man was created in God’s image. If the image of God is that of a non-physical, spiritual and immortal source of creation, then we are inherently non-physical, spiritual and immortal sources of creation. Yep, baby gods! And even Jesus had to remind his enemies of this. It’s not an easy concept to swallow. They were about to stone the Nazarene for blasphemy, but reminding his enemies that the Bible says, “ye are gods,” stayed their hands.

Do we each have the ability to walk on the water?

Dual identity? So, where is this other part of Man? Genesis 2:7 says that Man was created again, but this time from the dust of the ground. Dust is primitive code for physical matter or ordinary chemicals. We’re talking about Homo sapiens, but that’s not the totality of this other part. The contrast is striking—a non-physical, immortal half and a very physical, mortal half. There is another physical component, though intangible, which is every bit as important as the physical body. This is the ego, the center of the false, mortal self, mentioned earlier. When you feel rage or fear, this is ego talking. Ego likes to be right, and feels injured if made to feel wrong. Ego is subject to the same laws of the physical realm obeyed by the physical body. Ego is vulnerable.

When someone lives in the spirit, they are viewing the world from the point-of-view of their true self—the invulnerable immortal. From this point-of-view springs such things as inspiration, true and full forgiveness, and the creation of what the uninitiated would call “miracles.” This point-of-view exists in the realm of creation.

An interesting parallel can be found in the world of computer programming. A bit of code cannot break the laws of the machine. A computer program cannot control devices to which it is not attached—say the apple sitting next to your keyboard. Oh, I guess a piece of fruit is not a device, not in the computer programming sense.

You can’t break the rules of the Matrix, unless your name is Neo, of course. In the second film of the Matrix trilogy, Neo finds that his powers of control extend outside of the Matrix. He manipulates not only the code of the Matrix computer program, but also the code of physical reality. He finds that he can bring down the enemy in the real world by thought alone.

No purely physical object can break the laws of physical reality. A cog in the machine cannot redesign the machine. Our physical bodies cannot create miracles. Only something superior to the physical can do such a thing. Only a child of God—a spiritual and immortal source of creation.

Walk on the Water: Christ shows Peter and the rest that they can walk on the water.
This painting by Amédée Varint shows Christ walking on the water of the storm-tossed Sea of Galilee.

When Peter and his fellow disciples find themselves in a storm-tossed boat, they fear for their lives. Their mentor had remained behind to take care of some business, but when he shows up, they think they’re witnessing a ghost. Why? Because he is walking on water, and not just any water. It’s storm-tossed water.

The scientist who suggested that Jesus was walking on a block of ice must not believe that miracles are possible. Also, he did not read the story very carefully. It would be a miracle to push a block of ice across the sea toward the small boat, and another miracle to stay balanced on the slippery devil amidst the rocking waves. Plus, it would be an additional miracle to bring along another block of ice for Peter to step on. No, there was no ice. The miracle was walking on liquid water when the laws of physical reality say that such things are impossible.

Peter asked this ghost, “If you’re really our master, tell me to come out onto the water with you.”

Walk on the Water: Can Pope Francis walk on the water?
Can the new Pope Francis walk on the water? Photo: Casa Rosada (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Wikipedia.org.

The reply, “Come,” left Peter with a momentary lapse in reasonable judgment. And that was a good thing. But don’t get me wrong. Reason is a good thing, too, within reason. The next moment, Peter stepped out of the small boat, and walked on water with his master. For that moment, his faith was complete. He was not living in the ego—the fearful, vulnerable self. He was outside of himself and in his true self—the fearless, invulnerable self.

Living in the ego is too familiar, too well practiced. It takes time, patience and persistence to cultivate living in the true self. Like a baby learning to walk, you pick yourself up and keep going.

Later, Jesus sent his followers out to perform miracles and to get others to perform miracles. It’s sad that so many people today feel such miracles are impossible or only for that ancient time, two thousand years ago. One Christian minister, on his website, advises that Jesus did not mean it literally when he said that we could do the miracles he did and even greater ones. Obviously, that minister has never created a miracle, otherwise he wouldn’t say such a thing.

Many people have created miracles, some every bit as awe inspiring as Peter walking on water, or Moses parting the sea. I speak from personal experience.

Jesus lifting Peter after he had walked on water for a moment.
Shortly after Peter stepped out of the boat and stood on the water, before doubt set in. Painting by François Boucher (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

Creating is effortless. However, finding one’s self in the spirit is something that happens far too infrequently, for some of us. It takes practice. Abandoning reason can look like delusion, but it can also be transcendent. I’m not talking about the same thing. Delusion and being in the spirit are on opposite ends of a very broad spectrum. Despite their apparent similarities, they are worlds apart.

When Peter walked on water, he found himself in that other world—no longer viewing reality from the mortal ego, but from the immortal, true self. He created a miracle by his faith—a combination of perfect confidence and perfect humility (or subjugation of the ego). How many popes have ever achieved this? Perhaps only God knows. From all I’ve ever read, Peter was the only pope to have walked on water. Perhaps it is time that changed.

How can anyone walk on the water? How are miracles possible? Any ideas?

This article was published earlier as “How Many Popes have Shown They Can Walk on the Water?” 2013:0616 on https://www.the-love-of-god.com/blog/ and originally published as “How Many Popes have Walked on Water?” 2010:0410 on Blog.AncientSuns.com

For the Love of Israel

Love of Israel: Westernwall
Jerusalem, western wall and Dome of the Rock. Photo: Golasso (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikipedia.org.

There are 2 Israels—the nation and the path. One day, the two will become one.

Currently, Israel the nation is very distant from the path. The nation is acting like a spoiled and selfish little brat. The nation is doing the “logical” thing, because so many want to harm the nation, but it is not doing the loving thing. The nation is not living up to its name.

In the Bible, it said that those who are against Israel will suffer greatly. Right now, the nation is against Israel and continues to suffer greatly. How is this possible?

What does Israel mean? It means yashar+El—the path to God. And since God is love, then Israel means the path to Love.

Is Israel the nation treating Palestinians with love? Is it treating Arabs with love? Sadly, no.

Not long ago, I saw a picture of Israeli girls signing their names to bombs to drop on their Arab neighbors. This is not love. This is Israel opposing itself—opposing the very foundation of its meaning.

Love of Israel: Cartoon of War. Monger Obama wearing his Nobel Peace Prize.
Obama had no love of Israel as president. After winning the Nobel Peace Prize, this intellectual giant went on a war-mongering rampage. Drawing courtesy Carlos Latuff, used with permission.

President Obama has repeatedly made it clear that he is not a Christian and not a friend to Israel. He has mocked the notion of turning the other cheek, showing that he has zero understanding of its meaning. President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize before he did anything as president, and then extended both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars before attacking Libya, then assaulting several nations with drone attacks, and then threatening Syria and Iran. This shows that there are many things going on that are not logical. Obama is a puppet dancing to someone else’s tune. And so is the Nobel committee.

But Israel is not following God. Not yet. When it tears down Palestinian homes and gives the land to Jews to build their own homes, they are hating the path to God. They are not heeding the lessons of the past when their own arrogance against Love had led to their destruction and dispersal.

Israel, the nation, will learn the path to God. It must. That remains its destiny. How much must it suffer before it discovers this? All suffering could end if only they were to put the love of others first.

The people of Israel, the nation, must embrace the old law—that of mutual responsibility, mutual love, humility and fearless confidence, instead of the current fear that drives them to blame, to hate, to arrogance, and to fearful uncertainty. When Israel finds love, they will be leading the world by example.

 This is the discovery Israel the nation must make. This is when the 2 Israels will become one.

This article was originally published 2015:0412 on The-Love-Of-God.com.

Bridging Science and Religion — Finding a Common Ground

This article is inspired by the work of the late Sir John Templeton, and the Templeton Foundation, in bridging the gap between science and religion. Their work stands as a beacon of sanity and clarity in an increasingly divisive world.

 

The relationship between science and religion is inherently simple and profound. Both of them seek answers.

Comparing Science and Religion

Science and Religion: Science and Religion on Stars in the Heavens.
Science and Religion on Stars in the Heavens. ESA (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikipedia.org.

Religion, in its purest form, covers the realm of creation. This includes acts of creation, their sources, plus the phenomena of inspiration, forgiveness and miracles. Science studies the products of creation. Both religion and science are complementary activities. Between them, they cover the bulk of existence.

Both realms can benefit from logic and critical thinking. And both can suffer from bias and fixed ideas.

The realm of science is one of continuity, typically referred to as “nature” or “reality.” Time and space are necessarily continuous in nature. The cause-and-effect aspect of physical reality is also continuous.

The realm of religion, or spirituality, is one of discontinuity. We see this discontinuous aspect in creation, where things which once had no existence, come to possess existence. We see it also in forgiveness, where self breaks the continuity which binds one to the seeds of resentment. We see this discontinuity in miracles, where the normal laws of nature are interrupted by a source of creation.

Science can only hold the logical high ground when it remains intellectually pure. Religion can only hold the moral high ground when it remains spiritually pure.

Polluting Science and Religion

Science and Religion: Buddhist priest meditating at Watkungtaphao
Buddhist priest meditating at Watkungtaphao. Photo: Tevaprapas Makklay (CC BY 3.0), via Wikipedia.org.

So, how can this purity be jeopardized? People remain quite attached to their viewpoints. Because of this, discussion proves to be difficult for some. Before we discuss this highly-charged topic, we need to define some terms.

First of all, the heart of selfishness is described in Buddhism as “ego.” This is not the term of Western psychology. Selfishness is, by its nature, a state of separateness and frequently holds its own viewpoint as superior to those of others. That hubris creates an immediate barrier to discovery. This manifests itself as an “I know better” attitude, or even worse, the viewpoint that “I know it all.”

This attitude also manifests itself as dismissiveness of other ideas, frequently without a thorough investigation. And one person’s “thorough” may miss another person’s entire worldview.

Ego is the proverbial “full cup,” where learning anything new becomes impossible. And yet, each person may possess many cups—many full, and a few partially empty.

The Full Cup of Science and Religion Cannot Receive New Things

Scientists, like Hawking, have a preference not to consider a Creator. Their cup of creation is full on the subject of a conscious or intelligent source. “Gravity is source,” they might say, but they miss the fact that gravity does not create the force of gravity, or the space, time and energy of which gravity itself is composed.

The realm of creation has none of these in manifest form—gravity, space, time, energy or mass. Creation stands apart from these things and is not made of them. The things of creation are thus superior to these and are thus permanent.

Religious fundamentalists insist that their interpretation of holy scripture is Truth. When asked about their viewpoint, they insist that it is not interpretation, but that of the Holy Work, itself. To question their interpretation is to question the Holy Work. But with so many conflicting interpretations, there can only be one correct interpretation—one or none!

It remains quite possible that all interpretations of sacred scripture are wrong.

Progress in Science and Religion

Science and Religion: Einstein in 1921.
Einstein in 1921. Photo: Ferdinand Schmutzer (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

In science, as in religion, different beliefs or theories can exist at various levels of right or wrong on an absolute scale. Because of this, awareness of greater truths requires the “empty cup” of humility.

Newton’s laws of motion were only slightly wrong and had to wait roughly two hundred years to find their improvement in Einstein’s Relativity. The Laws of Moses were relatively “perfect” for their time, but found improvement in Christ’s sacrifice—a message to us all to give up the ego and to remain separate no more.

A Closer Look at the Barriers in Science and Religion

Some fundamentalist Christians adhere to an interpretation that the universe is very young and that Noah’s Flood occurred about 2348 BC, or some similar date given by Archbishop Ussher, Sir Isaac Newton or any of a number of other 17th century scholars. They ignore the modern findings of science. And, because science has done an exceptional job mapping out the details of reality, by ignoring science, the fundamentalists are tacitly ignoring reality. This is one way of describing “delusion.” The cure for that delusion is the humility mentioned by all of the great spiritual leaders.

Many scientists, on the other hand, adhere to the notion that the laws of physical reality are immutable, and that miracles, such as creation, are impossible. Scientists once thought that the positions of the stars were immutable, but thankfully Sir Edmond Halley had the humility to question that fixed idea.

Why “Science” Does Not Get “Religion”

There is a very basic reason why science does so miserably with the study of miracles and other things they might categorize as “paranormal.”

Science holds a major stumbling block, besides the unsupported dismissiveness many wield like a sword. That stumbling block remains invisible to scientists, because it is the paradigm they use for all investigation.

Imagine a scientist investigating the nature of combustion and flame. Now, imagine their frustration when every time they begin an experiment, they cleanse everything with a liberal dousing of water. Despite following the recommendations of the Holy Priests of “Flame,” the scientist is never able to duplicate the phenomenon. In disgust, the scientist pronounces the phenomenon to be a hoax or the immature interpretation of some other phenomenon.

Now, imagine a scientist studying some paranormal phenomenon, such as telepathy, telekinesis or precognition. They approach the topic as any good scientist knows they should, with skepticism. The problem is that skepticism is the water that douses the flame of faith. Why? Because skepticism, even in its most benign form, contains the potent bias of doubt.

Some scientists go further than simple skepticism. They add “dismissal” or even “ridicule” to their approach. No wonder they’re not successful. They’ve already decided that such an experiment will fail. Faith in failure can be every bit as powerful as faith in success.

The Meaning of Faith

Science and Religion: Jesus walking on water.
Jesus walking on water and rescuing Peter after his moment of doubt. Painting: Ivan Aivazovsky (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

There are many definitions of “faith,” but the one definition we need to use, here, does not exist in the dictionary. That definition is implied in stories of miracles—like that of Peter walking on water before his master. That miracle lasted only a moment, when he forgot reason and held perfect, 100% confidence. When doubt returned, Peter promptly sank.

Such a state of “faith” can be described as 100% or “perfect” confidence. It is like the Buddhist “paramitas”—perfections without any room for their dichotomous opposites.

A Flaw of Bias

Skepticism is the wrong method for any investigation. For a scientist fully acclimated to the use of skepticism, such a pronouncement may seem scientific heresy. But before judging the idea, let us examine it a bit more carefully.

Doubt, as that found in skepticism, is clearly a form of bias, and yet Scientific Method warns against using bias of any kind. Doubt usually has minimal effect on the study of existing physical laws, because such bias is in favor of the persistence of the status quo—existing physical law. But such bias does have an effect, especially when uncritical application of skepticism descends into its more subjective forms—like unsupported dismissiveness and self-indulgent ridicule.

Such bias is not limited to science alone. Religious believers can be just as skeptical—just as biased.

The more benign form of skepticism resembles humility and restraint. In fact, these two attitudes could be a powerful replacement for skepticism, but without the burdens of doubt, and without the danger of skepticism’s darker forms.

Moving Beyond Ego in Science and Religion

One other problem with skepticism, whether used in science or religious inquiry, is that ego too easily comes into play. Why is ego so bad? The reason is simple. Ego stands apart and declares self and its beliefs to be superior.

The danger of ego is that it blinds one to new facts. This was evident in the ridicule received by NASA scientists when they announced what looked like arsenic-friendly microbes. This was evident in the ridicule received by Pons and Fleischmann after they announced cold fusion. And further evidence of ego’s damaging effects can be found in American anthropology in defense of the “Clovis first” dogma.

Yehoshua of Nazareth stirred up the ego of the high priests and it blinded them to the gift they had before them.

Ego divides and separates. In fact, every apparent division between science and religion can be traced back to ego. Take ego out of the equation and we are left with only two complementary fields of study—one engaged with the products of creation and their various states of continuity, and the other engaged with that other side of existence—the sources of creation and their effects of a discontinuous nature.

When we give up ego, we can once again return to the child-like awe we once held about all matters of discovery, in science and religion, but also in all of life.

 What breakthroughs have you experienced with the use of humility?

This article was originally published 2013:0826 on http://The-Love-Of-God.com.

Turning the Other Cheek — What it Really Means

Turning the other cheek is an act of love, like this Sri Lankan woman and child
Sri Lankan woman and child. Turning the other cheek is an act of love. Photo: Steve Evans, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia.org

Turning the other cheek is not some masochistic desire to hurt yourself. And it’s not a game of one-upmanship to show that you can be the better person. No, both of these purposes are earthly, egotistical concerns.

The idea of “turning the other cheek” contains many ingredients. The first of these is love.

Turning the Other Cheek is an Act of Unconditional Love

The real meaning of turning the other cheek is a spiritual one. It is one of turning the other cheek—giving up your importance of physical things. “You want to hurt this cheek? No problem. And here’s the other one, too.” And this is not said in a flippant manner, but with complete and unconditional love.

In fact, “importances” get in the way of love. Jealousy is a perfect example. A spouse’s preconceived notion for how their partner should behave will create negative emotions, like jealousy, to the degree that those notions are perceived as “important.”

A prized possession, donated or tossed in the garbage by your significant other, can lead to a shouting match because the lost object is judged as “important.”

If you judge anything as “important,” then you make yourself vulnerable should that thing be damaged or stolen—if anything should happen to it that broke your plans or expectations for it. In fact, holding onto your plans and expectations also makes you vulnerable, for they can be taken from you, as well.

Turning the other cheek is entirely unselfish.

The opposite of this idea was portrayed in the movie, “The Usual Suspects,” when fictional character, Keyser Söze, is confronted by criminals holding his family hostage. Instead of remaining vulnerable, Keyser Söze kills his own family members and regains the advantage in the hostage situation. What makes this entirely different is Keyser Söze’s unmitigated selfishness. He gave up his family’s “importance,” but he did it for his own, physical advantage. In other words, he still held his physical self as “important”—more important than the lives of his wife and children.

And that brings us to the next ingredient.

Turning the Other Cheek is an Act of Humility

Turning the other cheek: Includes humility, like that of a child holding onto an adult.
Turning the other cheek includes humility, like that of a child holding onto an adult. Photo: singhajay, used with permission, via Morguefile.com

Some people look at humility as a condition of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because humility sometimes looks similar to groveling, it’s easy to get them confused, but they are worlds apart. Humility is the strongest possible position, spiritually, while groveling is a position of weakness both spiritually and physically.

Groveling is entirely selfish—attempting to protect the self by “kissing up” or attempting to pacify someone stronger than yourself. Some may do this when their lives are in jeopardy or the lives of people they love.

Turning the other cheek when your loved ones are in danger from murderers is not a callous, uncaring act. It is the most supreme act of love. In that state of spiritual bliss, you have the power to ask God for safety.

It is an Act of Fearlessness

Turning the Other Cheek: Contains a similar fearlessness.
68th Special Forces paratrooper leaps from C-130J Hercules cargo plane. Turning the other cheek contains a similar fearlessness. Photo: MSgt Quinton T. Burris, USAF, PD, via Wikipedia.org

I remember reading the story of a skydiver who suffered a double failure of his parachutes. He hit the ground at better than a hundred miles per hour. And yet, he walked away with a few scratches and bruises. On the way down, he thought to himself, “God, it looks like I’m coming to meet you.” In other words, he gave up his entire life and gave it to God. He was humble. Within those thoughts were the feelings of “reverence for life,” but not holding any importance on those feelings. He was humble to whatever God would decide, and he was entirely fearless. Then a miracle happened.

I also remember my late father telling me the story of a time when he was a teenager. He got out of his car and accidentally bumped into someone on the sidewalk. The man was nearly twice my father’s weight and quite muscular. He was also quite angry at the unintended assault. Quickly, he pulled back his fist to strike my father.

At this, my father thought to himself, “Well, it looks like I’m a goner.” Instead of flinching, my father merely relaxed and waited for the inevitable. There was no defeatist attitude and no groveling. He merely stood his ground and calmly accepted the “gift” the other man had intended for him. But the man’s fist lost its momentum and dropped to his side. One look at my father and he could no longer hold onto his anger. He simply turned and left.

The Real Meaning of Turning the Other Cheek

Turning the Other Cheek: Soldier holding another in fireman's carry. Turning the other cheek includes such generosity.
Soldier holding another in fireman’s carry. Turning the other cheek includes such generosity. Photo: Rools, used by permission, via Morguefile.com

Turning the other cheek is a spiritual act of unconditional love and humble fearlessness to any of the possible consequences of the intended assault.

With such spiritual invulnerability, you can no longer be a victim. With this, you remove any possible resentment that could turn you into a perpetrator. And with the “turning the other cheek” attitude, you become far bigger than any problem.

Like the old saying, if someone compels you to walk a mile, walk an extra mile. Give them more than they asked for. During the Roman Empire, citizens were required to help Roman soldiers carry their equipment for up to a mile. Here the suggestion is to give them two miles. Instead of thinking of the Roman soldier as an enemy, think of them as a dearly beloved brother or fellow soldier. Don’t think of the request as a burden, but as an opportunity to display even more love. Isn’t that what Christ would have us to do?”

What other ingredients do you find in “turning the other cheek?”

This article was originally published 2013:0223 on And-The-Pursuit-Of-Happiness.com.

Spiritual Answers in a Physical World — Nature vs. Spirit

Why talk of spiritual answers in a physical world? Recently, I saw a video interview with neurosurgeon and author, Eben Alexander, M.D., about his book, Proof of Heaven, A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.

In case you’re interested, here it is:


In it, Dr. Alexander challenges his own prior worldview, discussing the fine points of an experience which is rich in details and thoroughly unbelievable to a secular scientist or naturalist. Dr. Alexander gives spiritual answers for something that baffled his understanding of how the mind and the brain work.

Dr. Alexander’s brain had shut down, according to him. During that time, he experienced a journey to a spiritual realm—to heaven itself.

Is Science Against Spiritual Answers?

The video intrigued me so much, I searched for more information on Dr. Alexander, his background and his new book. The Wikipedia article caught my eye, particularly the skepticism of the doctor’s critics.

Sam Harris, also a neuroscientist, “found his account ‘alarmingly unscientific’.”

Wikipedia goes on to say,

“Neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks agreed with Harris, saying that ‘to deny the possibility of any natural explanation for an NDE [near-death experience], as Dr. Alexander does, is more than unscientific — it is antiscientific.’”

 

What Sacks says is particularly revealing about a prevalent, but ignored bias in science. Yes, bias. Say Dr. Alexander allows for the possibility of a “natural” explanation. Would Mr. Sacks allow for the possibility of a spiritual one? Probably not, because spiritual answers wouldn’t be “scientific.” Or would they?

How could Mr. Sacks explain Moses parting the sea, or Jesus and his disciple, Peter, walking on water? Don’t believe in miracles? I’ve seen similar miracles in my own lifetime. To me, the only explanations would be spiritual answers instead of “natural” ones.

What if the truth is that Dr. Alexander’s experience was entirely spiritual and not physical. What if all attempts at achieving a “natural” answer are inherently futile? Would that mean that science is impotent in some areas?

I grew up with logic and mathematics. While others were good in sports or music, I thrived on advanced algebra and trigonometry. But logic and mathematics are not the answer to everything.

It may be logical to hold a grudge when someone murders your closest family members, but forgiveness is a superior position. Resentment is a ball-and-chain that traps you in the past. Forgiveness sets you free.

Why is it Important to Protect Spiritual Answers?

Spiritual Answers: Clouds
Clouds sometimes symbolize spirit and spiritual answers. Photo: by Jessie Eastland (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Not everyone has the right spiritual answers. In fact, it’s quite possible that all interpretations of spiritual answers are wrong. Just look at how many denominations Christianity has. Even Judaism has its sects with opposing viewpoints.

More than protecting spiritual answers from a secular world, it’s also important to protect our freedom to pursue spiritual answers from the overtly religious who might otherwise force their worldview on others.

The world is becoming increasingly polarized and divided. That’s not a good thing.

There are many concerns we each share with our fellow human beings. That should be enough to keep us together, moving toward a common goal of understanding, freedom and responsibility. But forces are at work in our society that are actively dividing us—secularists vs. the religious, fundamentalists vs. new agers, Democrats vs. Republicans, and more.

Increasingly, we find people using hateful language like, “religion is the source of all evil.” And I thought it was supposed to be “money.” In the final analysis, it seems that every endeavor of man has the potential for evil—not just religion or banking. The root of all evil is selfishness—ego. Ego is right and everyone else is wrong. Ego is entitled to government handouts, but no one else is entitled. Ego is “patriotic,” but unwilling to defend liberty itself.

Only spiritual answers can solve our problems, because the source of all our problems is the antithesis of spirit—ego.

Scientists who are also naturalists, use ego rather than logic, when they condemn spiritual answers or refuse to accept them as a possibility. Science works quite well in a created world, just as it does in a naturalist’s world. But the things of spirit are lost in the world of cogs and wheels. Miracles are impossible in an entirely deterministic realm. But I’ve seen dozens of miracles. I wouldn’t want to lose the freedom to pursue spiritual answers. I wouldn’t want to put intolerant naturalists in charge of deciding what’s wrong and what’s right. We need to protect spiritual answers as well as scientific ones. I don’t like the idea of a biblical literalist deciding what goes into our science textbooks.

I think free speech is a good thing. America used to have it, but U.S. legislation has become increasingly tyrannical—the unpatriotic “Patriot Act,” the NDAA (with its indefinite detention clauses for American citizens), HR 347 (which makes free speech a felony in some instances), and the president’s “Kill List” which includes American citizens on it. American Congress has repeatedly attempted to censor the Internet with bills like SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, TPP and others.

What are your thoughts if someone were to impose their viewpoint on you? What if the government banned your worldview and made it illegal?

This article was originally published 2013:0501 on And-The-Pursuit-Of-Happiness.com.

Miracles — God Wants Us to Be Active, Not Passive

Miracles: Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount
Jesus and the sermon on the mount. He taught us not only how to love, but also how to do miracles. Artwork: Carl Heinrich Bloch (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

Miracles are not merely something that happened long ago in the past and cannot occur in our modern world. Anyone who tries to tell you this is lying or speaking from ignorance.

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus told us that we can do the miracles he did and even greater. He sent out his disciples to do exactly that. Jesus never came back to tell us to stop performing miracles. We need to do as Jesus did—perform miracles to the glory of God. And he did a great many miracles: raising the dead, healing lepers, healing the blind, healing the sick, healing the crippled, healing the insane, turning water into wine, feeding thousands with very little, walking on water and even calming a storm.

I just watched a YouTube video by Sid Roth where his guest related a lifetime of miracles, healing all manner of ailments, including restoring missing limbs and her own missing upper lip.

 

I have experienced numerous miracles in my own lifetime. What I had not realized, until today, is that I was going about it all wrong. I was waiting for inspiration to strike me.

Inspiration can be good, but if we don’t take it up and do something with it, we are being lazy. God wants us to be active with His gifts, not passive. After more than 50 years of experiencing miracles, I finally figured this out! Okay, so I’m a bit slow. But I love the fact that I finally woke up.

Misconceptions About Miracles

One of the chief misconceptions about miracles is that they ceased after the founding of the Christian church. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some Christians believe that “signs and wonders have passed away.” This is a belief called “Cessationism.” Some believe that we are not worthy of miracles. Others believe that God made it a temporary blessing in order to allow the church to be built, but then withdrew that blessing. Sorry, no. This are false ideas.

Miracles have continued. They never stopped. And those who do not believe in them merely have not experienced them or have not asked for them with sufficient faith. You need to throw yourself at miracles fearlessly. Hold nothing back. Show the same enthusiasm for miracles that King David showed for the Heavenly Father. Be excited about the love and generosity you can share with others through miracles.

I remember reading on one Christian pastor’s website that he believed Jesus did not mean what he said—at least not literally. He said that the strength in numbers of Christians allow them to do, as a whole, things that would be considered a miracle for an individual to do. I find this to be a cop out. Having faith in numbers is like having faith in physical reality. That takes no faith at all. That’s laziness. That’s passive.

 My Own Experience with Miracles

Miracles: Monahans Sandhills
Sandhills near Monahans, Texas, near where I lived as a child and experienced my first miracles. Photo: Wing-Chi Poon (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikipedia.org.

My earliest experience with miracles didn’t look like much, even to me. I did have some doubts after they happened, but I also felt buoyed by them—uplifted. On a hot, West Texas day, I would whistle up the wind to cool me off. Sometimes it didn’t work as well as I would have liked, but it worked often enough to let me know I was on the right track.

When I was 8, while visiting a 13-year-old cousin who lived in Laredo, Texas, I asked him if he believed in God. He told me that he didn’t. I don’t know why I said what I did, but I told him the he would not be able to climb to the top of his own backyard playground equipment—a “jungle gym” set made of metal pipe. He laughed softly, certain that he could master his own equipment, but then he found he couldn’t. He kept slipping. After the third time, he looked at me somewhat spooked and I reassured him that if he believed in God, he could reach the top. He nodded dumbly, accepting his new belief and promptly climbed to the top without slipping. I later related this story to my Southern Baptist minister grandfather to his perplexed chagrin.

In 1973, I had a revelation about the nature of creation. I had been studying comparative religion—not only Christianity, but Scientology and Buddhism. At that moment, I suddenly understood the relationship between the 6 days in Genesis 1 and God’s day of rest. I understood how the “resting” was an essential part of creation. Without it, a creation would not have the dimension of time, and those who might witness it, would no longer see it when that moment slipped into the past. God’s day of rest make manifestation of His creation possible.

Miracles: Miracles can affect conversations, too.
Any conversation can be interrupted. I’ve seen dozens of instances where “vapor lock” of the brain gave way to miracles. Photo: Beatrice Murch (CC BY 2.0), via Wikipedia.org.

With this understanding, I immediately wanted to try it out. I felt all flush with confidence. The spirit bubbled up within me. We had in our home a fluorescent light bulb which sometimes did not turn on. Flick the switch and the light seemed to have a mind of its own. This time, I communicated with the entire circuit, from switch to electrical ballast. I then turned on the light switch, and then proceeded to reach for the toothpaste and my toothbrush, relishing, in my mind, the joy of cleaning my teeth. The instant I felt the thought move from my conscious awareness to my subconscious feeling (resting from the prayer), the light came on—not a fraction of a second before or after.

Such instantaneity would follow my experiences with miracles for the next several decades. Many of those miracles involved helping people remember where they had left off in a conversation. After an interruption (knock at the door, phone call or the like), I would merely get the picture of pleasant surprise on their face and then give that picture to God with full expectation that it was already done. The instant the picture left my conscious awareness, the person brightened up. This occurred dozens of times over the years.

Miracle on Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

I’ve also experienced miracles in traffic. Naturally, a skeptic would say that one or two cars turning out of the lane ahead of you don’t amount to much of a miracle. But how about several hundred, all within a few short seconds and during the thick of rush hour? I had spent several minutes with building frustration over the slowness and danger of traffic.

Six times within two minutes, half a dozen different cars pulled into the tiny space in front of my own, threatening collision. Quick thinking and good brakes prevented any mishap, but each time added to my growing rage—except the last one.

Suddenly, I let go of the frustration. In fact, I took perfect responsibility for not only my own feelings, but also the actions of others that seemingly contributed to them. And, just as suddenly, I went from rage to bliss. That, in itself, was a miracle. Negative feelings usually don’t turn off so suddenly, but perhaps that’s only because we don’t take responsibility for them.

Traffic remained thick and sluggish, but now I didn’t care about getting to my destination any faster. It was perfectly okay. I felt humbled by all this. I also felt an abiding love for all of the drivers around me, including the 6 who had cut me off. I adored them and forgave them. Their trespass was forgotten—quite literally for 34 years.

The next moment, in a light sense of curiosity and fun, I considered “smooth sailing all the way to my destination,” and gave the mental image to God. Voilà! That’s all it took.

The next instant, the 6 cars that had cut me off were the first to move into the already crowded lanes left and right. Within 5 seconds, 2 miles of Wilshire Boulevard were cleared in the center lane, while the lanes left and right remained impossibly and doubly thick with traffic.

For 3 decades, I rarely mentioned this miracle. But then it seemed important that I take this light out from under its bushel.

Peter versus Jesus

Miracles: Jesus walking on water and rescuing Peter after his moment of doubt.
Miracle: Jesus walking on water and rescuing Peter after his moment of doubt. Painting: Ivan Aivazovsky (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

When Peter walked on water, he may only have taken a few steps, but it truly was a miracle. He had left reason and all reasonableness behind. For those few moments, he was no more an “I can’t” kind of guy. He did not let reason or experience stand in his way. But then doubt returned and he promptly sank. He was being passive. He allowed the inspiration of the moment to boost his spirit to the level of miracles.

Jesus, on the other hand, had walked the long distance from the shore to where the disciples’ boat was being assaulted by the storm’s waves. His faith did not waver. He was actively creating it from moment-to-moment.

The nature of “nature” is that it is passive. It continues to persist with its continuity, from moment-to-moment, because God rested from His creation. But we need to follow God; not the passivity of physical reality. We need to remain active. We need to be of spirit constantly; not for only a few moments of inspiration. Certainly, we can have the faith to move mountains, but we should maintain that faith while the mountain is being moved, lest we drop it on someone’s head.

Three and a half years ago, I asked the then current Pope how many popes have walked on water. By my own estimation, only one “pope,” but Peter had never considered himself by that title. Sad that no other popes have risen to the level of miracle worker.

What miracles have you experienced?

This article was originally published 2013:0928 on The-Love-Of-God.com.

Is Biblical Literalism an Abomination?

Biblical Literalism: not as humble as this Afghan beggar
Humility of an Afghan girl begging. Biblical literalism isn’t this–not even close. Photo: Evstafiev (CC BY-3.0), via Wikipedia.org.

It pains me to startle my brethren with such a strong question, but it needs to be asked.

Too many are taking the Bible literally and missing the spirit of its meaning.

Consider these two points:

  • The literal is the easy way to interpret. Easy means lazy. How much does God value laziness?
  • How many reading this know the mind of God in its entirety? None, I would dare say, but you wouldn’t know that the way “interpretation” is treated as equivalent to Truth, by many, if not all, biblical literalists. Confusing faith in God with faith in one’s own beliefs can be a source of arrogance. How much does God value arrogance?

We must each remain humble and hungry for answers, because we don’t know everything of God’s Truth.

I have discovered things hidden in the Bible that should shake the world to its foundations. Are they true and accurate? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But they answer a great many questions I’ve had for the last six decades.

Biblical Literalism: Is not working hard like these Marines digging post holes
USMC soldiers digging post holes. Biblical literalism misses the hard work of “digging with purpose.” Photo: Pfc. Mark W. Stroud, USMC (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

I had one biblical scholar cut me off and refuse to communicate with me, because he didn’t believe anything was hidden in the Bible. He believed that everything in the Bible is open and easy to interpret. He didn’t allow me to question this viewpoint of his. He didn’t allow me to point out that Christ didn’t make it easy for his listeners. Jesus used parables that frequently confounded his listeners. His stories required deep thinking and humility in order to see the true spirit of what was being said. Nothing in Christ’s parables was to be taken literally. So, why would the scholar insist that Jesus believed the Bible should be taken literally? Evidence shows otherwise.

God values humility and hard work. By work, an individual comes to appreciate the answers they find. With humility answers are possible. But scholars who think they have it all figured out, have no room for answers. Jesus had this problem with the scholars of his time.

We find in 2 Corinthians 3:6, a warning against taking things literally. The letter (literal) leads to death. Only the spirit of scripture leads to life. The literal is only the starting point—a guidepost for where to dig. Most people don’t dig for the spirit, but rely on quick and easy answers. They rely on sound bites. They crave instant gratification in this MTV, fast-food world. Yes, even in scripture.

Sailor reading his Bible before battle.
WW2 sailor, STM2/c James Lee Frazer finds time to read the Bible on the night before the opening strike of a raid on Manila Bay, January 9, 1945. Photo: US Navy (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

But this modern world has given us an incredible opportunity. So many of us now have the ability to read, unlike so many dozens of centuries before now. We have printing and the Internet to help us explore and to learn the possible meanings of things.

Too many don’t want to take the time. They’re too busy with their own lives. They want someone else to package the meaning for them and to spoon feed them with things they can understand in the context of their own experience. They don’t want to have to reshape their own belief systems. That would require work. And when the path to Truth requires that one continually reshape one’s belief system, too many find this more work than they are willing to consider. The path becomes too narrow—too difficult.

But if you love Truth, you would continue to hunger for more and more of it. You would not let any barrier stand in your way of achieving it—not even the peer pressure of others.

This article was originally published 2015:1218 on RodMartinJr.com.