Saturday, 21 December 2013

The First Doctor

This Wednesday many of you will be eagerly looking forward to an exciting event because it is an event that only happens once a year. A story about a man that came, not of this earth, but from the heavens, to save mankind from peril. A man who died and was resurrected into a form not recognised by his followers. A man who came to heal the world from evil and give us all a unity and hope for the future.

Yes. That’s right. We’ll see the airing of the New Doctor Who Special this Wednesday…

But it’s also the day we celebrate the birth of the First Doctor. The one that came to heal the world. To fix the peril, not from an alien robot, or a weeping angel, but from mankind itself. From our disobedience that resulted in sin. He came into a world that was suffering, and still is suffering, to fulfil the prophecy of a saviour. He literally healed the sick, like a doctor in the conventional sense of the term, but he didn't use bandages or syringes. He didn't even use a sonic screwdriver.

He just used faith.

And the reason he did it was not even to heal their illnesses, but to demonstrate to mankind the power of faith. He taught us that even a really tiny mustard seed of faith is enough to move mountains. Faith has more power than any TARDIS can handle. No amount of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff can match it’s awesome power. Faith in Him and His Father leads to power that truly transcends time and space. The Father knows what you ask of Him even before you say it.

He is the true Time Lord.

The first doctor didn't need to save mankind every year, from the latest peril, from the latest attack of alien threat. Not from the Starship Titanic crash landing into Buckingham Palace. 

He did it once on a cross. It is finished.

He used His body, He gave it to us as a gift. He let Himself be sacrificed. His blood was spilled to wash away our sins. Through this covenant He has given us the gift of eternal life.

Every tree has His special gift waiting for you. All you need to do is use the power of faith to unwrap it. Believe in Him, confess your faith in Him, repent from and turn away from your sin and you can have this free gift too.

The First Doctor, the true Time Lord is Jesus Christ. I thank God that we have His birthday to celebrate this Wednesday. While I certainly enjoy the entertainment we get to watch, I truly hope and pray that anyone reading this will have so much more excitement for His coming than for the fiction that airs on television this week.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Duck Dynasty Shock!

I’ve seen all these Facebook updates over the last few days for this Duck Dynasty show and what Phil said about his beliefs. I know nothing about the show or the characters in it so I feel I can make an informed opinion on the subject. I think that most people are really missing the point. This Phil character specifically condemns beastality as a sin. That’s just wrong and flies in the face of what real Christians believe. Zoosexuals (yes it is a term according to Wikipedia) have been fighting for years to gain acceptance for their sexuality. It’s not their fault they were born that way! The Freaks, Furries, and Weirdos alliance (furries are a real thing) gain no media attention at all and that speaks volumes on how much prejudice and hatred there is for zoosexuals and zoosexual rights. This sort of hate speech much stop. Jesus never said anything that specifically condemned beastiality therefore it must be okay. After all we’re just animals that evolved from primates, or maybe a primate and a pig, and most of Genesis is just make believe so why can’t we have sex with animals? I’m glad there have been a few cases in America recently where zoosexual marriage has taken place, but this doesn't go far enough. It’s shocking and wrong that this is how most Christians are perceived. It damages our reputation and doesn't show off the blind love that Jesus has for us. I hope this offends all of you because this change really needs to be made. Stop the hate!

Monday, 21 October 2013

The priority of marriage

If there's any good advice that was given to me when I got married it from my mother in law. She told me that we should never argue over money. It was good advice and given my separation from God for many years of marriage it helped me maintain through legalistic rules the integrity of marriage. I was also given advice by the Episcopalian (now Catholic) minister that I should put Christ at the head of the marriage. While I had a vague understanding of what that meant, in that I saw marriage as something almost tangible as something that was alive that I had to honour, that meant more than either of us individually, I didn't quite understand what putting Christ at the head of our marriage meant. Now that I have a much better understanding and a true acceptance of Christ I really understand better what that means. It means putting marriage first in your life. It means it is more important than going out with your friends, or buying the latest video game. It means it is more important than the commitment you have to your job or what your boss says, indeed, your job is really for the most part there to support your marriage. It is more important than any of your other ministries. In my case it supersedes and is more important than anything I do in church, or anything I do to support the fellowship of the church. That includes the duty of spreading the gospel to the unsaved. It is more important because it is what you are. You are no longer two individuals that are working separately but as the Bible says you are one flesh. You are one body. Your primary duty in serving Christ in His ministry is your marriage. If you feel you are not physically capable of going to church today and you need to stay at home then you will take a day off. However in marriage, you cannot just go on what you feel but what your partner says. So if your wife says she isn't up to it, and that you should stay with her then you need to answer that in the same way you would your body telling you the same thing.

It goes beyond agreement though, it means sharing everything. You no longer eat off individual plates, but you share the same plate. Those chips aren't my chips, or her chips. They're our chips. That’s not my money I've earned, or her money she's earned, it's our money. Obviously the limits at which you share things has to be agreed between two of you. I doubt many married couples want to share the same underwear or the same toothbrush. It goes beyond the material of course. The need to be together becomes physical. You, after a while, start to think the same, a single look can express so much more than an entire sermon. It hurts just to be away from each other for a few hours.

There will be times of trouble, most of all in the initial stages of understanding what marriage means to you. If the stress of planning a wedding seems a lot, it is by no means the most stressful time you will have in your marriage. The conflicts turn into wars so easily, and a single word or, a single look can start a conflict. The conflicts are often so intense because the love is so intense. It is no different from the detrimental effect of having part of your own physical body in conflict with you, a broken leg, or a pulled muscle is all you can think about when the pain is strong. It is like that in a marriage, but like any body, it will heal itself over time if you are committed to it.

Over time marriage changes you. You will eventually forget what it was like to not be married. When that times comes, your biggest fear, in fact, eventually your only fear, is that it will end, and unfortunately that is inevitable.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Robots

I wake up in the morning when my robot servant wakes me. Another robot makes my coffee for me and another robot warms the house and heats the water for me. A robot prepares my clothes while I get ready, a robot helps me to clean my teeth. I get dressed and get ready to go to out. A robot follows my orders and it takes me to where I want to go, while it keeps watch ready to take over in case of an emergency, and another robot helps me navigate. I get to the gym, and a robot security guard lets me in. When I get to work another robot security guard lets me into the office, a robot makes my coffee and I sit at my desk. A robot gives me instructions on work to do that day and I spend the morning doing as I'm told. At lunch I go down to the canteen, I buy my lunch from a robot seller, and another robot heats my food for me. After work I realise I need fuel, food and money for tomorrow. I go to the garage, and I pay a robot attendant. Then I go to the shop and buy food from a robot made by robots to take home. I go to the bank and a robot gives me some of the money that I've earned. When I get home another robot warms my food for me and I sit back while another robot entertains me and plays games with me. I go to bed and a robot servant keeps me cool as I sleep.

If we define a robot as a machine with a human interface that does the work that a human being once did, we are surrounded by robots. The more we become reliant on them the less we need to interact with human beings, and the more we undermine our humanity. It may be easier and cheaper to have a machine replace a human being, but it isolates us from each other. It is a dangerous road to go down because it means that one day these substitutions can no longer be replaced by people. God put us here so that we could interact with each other, I am guilty of ignoring that as much as anyone, so it is clearly something we should all be vigilant of.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Sex

Sex is awesome. It is the most intimate and beautiful expression of love that a man and a woman can share together. It is one of the most wonderful things that God has given us in His created universe. One of the things that makes it so amazing is why it was put in place: for us to procreate. When he told us to go forth and multiply He gave us the ability to do just that and enjoy it while doing that. I find it upsetting that so many theological beliefs are so condemning of it, saying it is dirty and immoral because it is after all how you and I are created. It is not sex itself that is immoral, it is the corruption and perversion that sin does to it. Somehow the society we live in has transformed sex from an act of love and procreation to an empty form of hedonistic entertainment.

That entertainment is now free to be enjoyed by the masses because of the invention of contraceptives. It means that sex can be meaningless and just for fun. But that takes away from the value that sex inside a loving marriage has. It devalues it. Every time you have sex with a promiscuous person you’re having sex with all the people they've had sex with, and all the people those people have had sex with. It’s like eating off a dirty plate. Even if you wrap that plate in plastic it’s still going to be disgusting and full of disease.

The only safe sex is within marriage, because with marriage you should be committed for life. You've made a promise until death. It also implies that you are committed to raise children together. The reason we have an age of consent is in part because by having consensual sex you are effectively committing yourself to become a parent, whether you realise it or not, because at the end of the day that is what sex is about.

This month culminates the 10th anniversary of me finding out that I wasn't going to be a father. It’s always a reminder especially whenever someone speaks about their successful pregnancies, and baby scans, and cute little baby clothes. Of course I am thrilled for them, especially in our church family, to see the success story of another human soul brought into this world. But it’s always a slap in the face too. It always hurts, it’s always a little paper cut, to see an ultrasound scan, or some newborn baby clothes. There is only so many times you can turn the other cheek before you can’t stand it any more. It stings so much more when it’s the prevalent fertility of the single mother that often leads to absent fathers and broken homes. There’s always a sense of being cheated. The ripe fruit bears no offspring, but the dry withered vine apparently produce offspring by the shed load. It doesn't make sense using that metaphor.

But of course medical science says I'm not worthy of being a parent as much as a “healthy” person.

Obesity discrimination is the most overwhelming prejudice that still prevails in this country. It infects every aspect of society and it ties in directly with the pride and sin of the deformed body image that is forced upon us every day. People are obsessed with calories and diets and fat content. Yes, there is a need for vigilance in living a healthy lifestyle, and yes gluttony is a sin, but it goes way beyond that. It is used an excuse by man to say that I am not worthy of being a parent because I may not be able to raise a child as effectively and for as long as a normal weight person. It goes against God’s will. To back up this discrimination, science uses it’s most dangerous and ambiguous weapon: statistical analysis. It states that a whole myriad of diseases and health problems is associated with my weight. Yet these diseases and health problems all occur in “normal” weight people. It is the same statistical nonsense that says that people of faith are less intelligent than people without faith. To believe this rhetoric you have to trust in conclusions based on biased sample data. It is a cost effective measure to give an excuse not to effectively treat, or take seriously a whole section of the population. It is a love of money. Of course obesity is very much more prevalent amongst working class groups in the West. It is more of a result from the malnutrition from conforming to business practices of large corporate food chains that push their affordable high calorie, and low nutrition food to the masses than it is to the lifestyle choices of individuals. But it would be political suicide for a government to openly discriminate against the working class.

I personally speculate that it is caused by something viral or bacterial that hasn't been discovered yet, but even if it is just a matter of will power then the obese are clearly unable to control their appetite. It is therefore a medical condition, like people that cannot control their vocal outbursts. So what’s the solution? Blame them! It’s their fault for not being able to control their appetites like the majority that can. Much like it is the fault of the heroin addict to not be able to snap out of it. And the best medical solution? Well, butcher them of course. Gastric bypass is the answer. Just like sexual perversion was treated in Victorian times, cut out their insides and they will be fine. Even if there’s a good statistical chance that they may die from it that’s carefully hidden from the patients so as to convince them that severe weight loss, and therefore an improved appearance is more important than their life expectancy.

The point I'm making is that the world we live in is lost to sin. Even saved people under the influence of the world are obsessed with worldly things. Pride, bitterness, resentment and a sense of entitlement are all part of our psyche even if they can be suppressed by the salvation that comes from accepting Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit into your heart. We cannot possibly escape it no matter how hard we try. It again reinforces the message that our salvation cannot be gained or bought by works, but through faith and faith alone. I will continue to hope and pray to God that one day me and my wife may be given the opportunity to be parents.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Choice

I don't claim to understand the details of 5 point Calvinism. However, I do understand why people would follow it. The problem we have is that we cannot possibly understand the logical duplicity of free will and predetermination. Saying that God knows everything and what everyone is going to do, and therefore knows, even before we are born, who is going to accept the salvation offered by Jesus Christ, and who isn't, while at the same time saying that we have free will to chose really doesn't make a lot of sense. It is the same logical duplicity of faith without fruit being dead faith, while at the same time works not being a prerequisite for salvation, and concerning yourself with works leading to sin, which is what your faith is trying to prevent - the separation from God. It's difficult to understand because our minds are simple. We expect simple logical true or false arguments when the reality we live in is far more complicated than that.
It's not just Christian theology that has this problem. Science has this problem too. If we follow the understanding of modern psychology free will is very much part of the core of that science. However, if we look at quantum theory and multiverse theory then the notion that we have free will is irrelevant because the state at which the electrons move is determined by quantum mechanics, so even though we may think that we have free will, the electrons that move in our brain cells and hence form certain neural pathways that we think of as decision making processes are entirely determined by set mechanical processes, and if they moved in any other way it simply wouldn't be this universe but another one because the universe itself is defined by those set mechanical processes and the pattern in which they happen.
The point is, it’s all matter of perspective. On the macroscopic scale, the one that we can understand and live in, we clearly have the free will to chose things. We can choose to go to work, we can choose to go to church and we can choose follow God or worship anything we want to. But those decisions are based on our informed knowledge and intelligence as much as anything.
God’s word gives us that knowledge. It tells us simply what is right and what is wrong, but at the same time it is only by accepting the salvation that Jesus Christ gives us that we can gain that intelligence and conscience through the Holy Spirit. Simply put before you are saved you don’t really know any better than to live in sin. But then there lies itself another duplicity. If your heart is changed and you are new man in Christ do you actually gain freedom, or are your decisions now determined by the symbiosis of the holy spirit and the soul that inhabits your body? The answer is simple. In making that decision to follow Christ and accept Him you have already gained that freedom through the choice that you made to accept him. Yes, your ability to choose sin is diminished because you no longer see the value of the empty worship we have in the world for man made things and sinful ideas, but you still have that freedom because you made the choice to start with. At the end of the day you still have the choice once you are saved, even with the Holy Spirit to chose sin and be tempted by it, it just doesn't feel good anymore because you know it’s empty and worthless. How much is free will and how much is the conscience of the holy spirit within you is probably determined by your maturity in the faith, but then that would imply that you have less free will as you get older in Christ. I think maybe it simply comes down to how much you value free will and how much you value the salvation that Christ gives us. I concern myself sometimes that what remains after I die is not actually me, because once I die the sinful body that I inhabit is gone. But like a father would be motivated to care for a child even though they are not physically the same being, I must have a duty to give care for my soul, even if it isn't, what I think is the entirety of what I call myself now, because at the end of the day that soul, which is what I am at my core is either going to suffer or live in glory for eternity, and eternity is a long time! Only Jesus Christ can give my soul the ability to live in glory forever. So my choice is to follow Him.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Mortality

One of the concepts that I've struggled with for some time is understanding mortality. At least in terms of omnipotence why would God be concerned with mortality? In fact, why would God care if we sacrifice anything, including His son if He could just on a whim bring him back to life, indeed, if Christ had the ability to bring people back from the dead, why would his mortality be of any consequence?

When we as humans play god as scientists in laboratories death is almost just as inconsequential. Death loses it's meaning if life prevails so readily that is hardly detrimental to kill and simply induce more life. I don't think there is a lot of scientists weeping when lab rats are exterminated and dissected in the name of experimentation. And we are as powerful as lab rats when it comes to facing God.

But God didn't make the us to be mortal. He made the world perfect, and it was only us as we gave into temptation and became separated from Him that death entered our world. The corruption from sin that saturates our physical bodies is so great we are born into it and death is one of the consequences of that.

So why the need for sacrifice?

From what I can see the sacrifice that started in the garden of Eden for the temporary covering of sin is a form of repentance. It is humbling for us to give up something that we value and animals were effectively a form of currency, so it is an offering to God to basically say we're sorry for what we've done.

God had another plan though, He sent us His son to cover us permanently for sin. He showed us his absolute love by humbling Himself down to the level we'd dug ourselves into. He separated part of Himself so that Christ could die and he could be our salvation. And when Christ was resurrected he didn't just stand up and walk away, like those that Christ himself brought back to life, but he returned to us gloriously to demonstrate that death, and therefore all the sin and corruption in the world could be defeated. Believing in Christ as our saviour is a belief that we can defeat the corruption and temptations of the devil. It is a fundamental message of hope that good can defeat evil and it shows us in terms that we can understand the grace that God has for us.

Monday, 15 July 2013

More letters to an old friend

Below is the responses I've written in further correspondence to my old friend I mentioned in my previous post:

Do you believe in talking snakes?

I'm glad that you can accept that my persona may have changed. I say categorically that it has. People that know me through my transition have told me that I have changed. I have lost friendships over it, not because I'm a crazy person that believes in an invisible sky daddy, but because I am no longer entertained by their empty gossip.

Of course I accept that one can seek philanthropy without being a Christian. I was one of them. I'm saying that I wasn't very effective in that goal before I followed the teachings of the Bible.
I believe the truth in the Bible isn't in the fact that it proclaims itself as true, it is in the fact that it's predictions, in my personal experience have come true. Much in the same way that science's predictions that come true give it credibility.

Asking if I believe in talking snakes seems a bit mute when I claim belief in an all-powerful being that created the entire universe. I have never witnessed a talking snake personally, but the idea that a snake talked seems no less inconceivable in the world we live in today, than the person that snake was talking to being made out of a man's rib. The point is that the things I can conceive of like the persona change that I have experienced are clearly predicted in the Bible, and therefore give credibility to the things I cannot conceive of.

So, yes, to answer your question, I do believe it is possible that a snake could have talked in the garden of Eden.

How is the Lord of the Rings fiction but the Bible not?

It's interesting that you use the Lord of the Rings as an example of a work of fiction when the author himself acknowledged that it was “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work”, and that the “religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism” He distinguishes the fact of the Bible from the fiction of his book and as a devout Catholic would have believed in a literal interpretation of the garden of Eden, talking snakes included.

The Bible is a historical document, much in the same way that Anne Frank's diary is a historical document. Someone that does not believe in the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany would question the credibility of the author and may call her diary a work of fiction.

The fact that biological science to date has no evidence to support vocal cords in snakes is itself the issue with trusting entirely in scientific knowledge to determine the understanding of reality. It is inherently unstable, because tomorrow a paeleontologist, for instance, could come upon some fossil record, say a jaw bone, that leads them to the speculation that in snakes may have had vocal cords in the past, and this speculation becomes so widespread that it becomes treated like a fact over time, until once again another piece of evidence is uncovered and further interpreted to come to some other conclusion.

The Bible however isn't a scientific document, it employs a fundamentally entirely different philosophy. It does not presume to describe the universe in the realms that we see in science. It does not describe the universe as being made of particles, or atoms, or electrons. It describes the universe as being made of love. The love that God has for us. Trying to use science to prove or disprove the Bible is an exercise in futility because of that inherent instability. The Bible teaches us not how, but why. It gives the reason why we're here much in the same way that Anne Frank may not have gone about the technical details of the execution methods in concentration camps, but still we have a better understanding of the fear and persecution that the Jews went through.

There is of course no scientific evidence of a talking snake ever having existed but that does not mean that the Bible does not have historical credibility nor that it is a work of fiction.

Isn’t the Bible more unstable that science?

When I say the Bible has stability I'm talking about the fact that it does not change. A science text book will say very different things today from what a similar text book would have said 10 or 20 years ago. This is especially true when the science is based on things that cannot be witnessed, either events in the distant past or events in the future. It wasn't that long ago when peer reviewed science was telling us that our damage to the environment would cause global cooling. This was then later revised to the exact opposite and it was in fact global warming. Now it is simply called climate change. I remember being taught at school that we would have no oil by the end of the century, in fact, when my brother who is 15 years older than me was at school he was taught there would be no more oil by the time he was old enough to drive.

You say that the Bible's only justification is itself because it is just the written word. If that were the case then all the millions of people past and present that have personal experience and therefore have their own testimony that hold the Bible to the truth are irrelevant. If the only valid justification for establishing reality is peer reviewed science, that demonstrably gets things entirely wrong because it is based more on an opinion of the credibility of the scientist than of the evidence presented, then that is not rational.

I would say one the strengths of the credibility of the Bible is by the sheer number of people that have testimony that says it is true. To state that millions of people that have personally witnessed Jesus Christ are all gullible and deluded and brainwashed into believing a lie, makes a mockery of human intelligence. It makes a mockery of medical science because it is saying that millions of people are mentally ill and that it does nothing to help these people. Yet it is one of the foundations of atheism. To state that a talking snake or parting seas or talking donkeys are laughable, but at the same time stating that abiogensis, the idea that life started spontaneously by chance, or a big bang created from nothing is plausible is not rational either. It is biased. It is biased because that is what has been taught to us in this country from a very early age.
The problem is that I was so deluded into this indoctrination of atheist ideas that I could not see the logical truth from the indoctrination. I had to personally experience myself the love that Christians show to each other and to other people to be convinced. It isn't something I would have been able to understand if I hadn't been in their company, which I think is why we're taught to spread the message directly to other people. I many times asked myself as a logical and rational person whether I was being conned, or whether I was deluded, or gullible but I don't think I have been. The more I came to understand the change I was going through as I came to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ the more I saw the truth in it. The more I went to church the more I saw the truth in the efficacy of prayer. The more I interacted with Christians the more I understood the love that God shows us because it was reflected through them. However, I don't expect to convince you of these things with mere words. I expect you to be angry, and frustrated with me and my viewpoint. I think you have to seek the understanding yourself in person. What drove me was my seeking an understanding of why these crazy people followed an even crazier book, especially my wife and I'm so glad I did.

Why do you think Atheists are so angry?

I expect you to be angry and frustrated because that is how people in my experience seem to be when they’re trying to understand the position that Christians, and presumably people of other faiths are in. I was angry myself. Trying to understand why so many people believe in things that they cannot see or hear, and that there seems to be no evidence for other than some fairy tales written thousands of years ago is at the very least frustrating. There is also a sense of betrayal, and quite rightly so, because these people that are saying demonstrable scientific facts are wrong at the same time are happy to use and take advantage of the technology that scientists and engineers work so hard to develop based on these demonstrable scientific facts. Not only that but they turn around and state that the technology was able to be put there because God allowed it, taking away all the credit for the work that these professionals spend sometimes all of their lives developing.

However, we're not saying that. By praising God for talents we have and marvels we can achieve we're saying that it's amazing that we have the ability to do them. We're literally awestruck at such abilities. We're not saying that these people aren't hard working or that their talents aren't inspirational but our view on the nature of our abilities as human beings. The only time we have a problem with science is when it goes entirely against the Bible, specifically the conclusions made about the nature of the method and the timing of our existence.

I doubt that you'll find a lot of born again Christians that believe in a flat earth, although at a pinch some verses can be interpreted as such. However the nature of the universe and how we got here is pretty clear in the Bible, although a lot more people that call themselves Christians think those explanations a metaphor.

Still the relationship with God is what's important, not so much the details of the events written in the Bible. That relationship, although it may appear as just a psychological state, is what gives us the peace and happiness we have in our lives. The peace and happiness are so overwhelming that what seems normal before is now shocking to us. If one explains away our happiness as a delusion then it means that we have the ability to will ourselves happy. It means that our medical answer to depression isn't pills. It begs the question, which isn't organised religion something prescribed on the NHS?


Letter to Mum and Dad

Dear Mum and Dad,

I write to you because I'm informed by my wife and other members of my church that I appear to have developed a talent for writing especially when it comes to matters spiritual. This comes as a quiet revelation to me since I am still motivated by the luke warm reception of my literacy skills as a child.  I think my talent has been revealed to me because of the relationship I now enjoy with God. I am taught by the Bible and therefore by Jesus Himself to honour my parents, so it is in that vein that I write to you now.

While I may have in the past concentrated on transgressions I am now motivated by the need to show love. In an effort of your edification I need to express my deep felt appreciation for the love and support and protection you have given me for my entire life and still give me today. Not just through finances, but through all the sacrifices you made for me. Your determination to teach me and raise me and care for me is evident by the the successful end result, by the man I am today. From a very early age you taught me vital skills that help me flourish today. How to read and write, to swim, to play and appreciate music, to operate and understand computers, to ride a bike, and you even helped me later learn how to drive a car. Together through your different talents you gave me  an appreciation of both the spiritual and the scientific worlds in which we live.

When you saw that I was being corrupted by government schooling you put your efforts into educating me privately at a huge financial cost. Through those vital years my schooling was a crippling burden on you both and it must have been so difficult for you to go through such a sacrifice for me. Despite this huge burden you still persisted in funding my education for me. I am so grateful for that because it has been so beneficial to me, and while the schools themselves would wish to take sole credit for it, it was your effort and your hard work that got me there and why I was able to remain there. While the school would have failed in its duty if it had lapsed in it's efforts to educate me, there seems to be no automatic duty for parents to aim to give their child such a privileged upbringing. This is evident in the way I see children being brought up today. It is so shocking, but all too common, to see neglectful parents that are barely motivated to keep their child alive, let alone care about their education or life skills.

Without wishing to give overdue credit to Freudian psychology, a significant part of the basis of my behaviour in my marriage follows the example of the relationship that you have demonstrated to me. One thing that seems prominent more recently, and this was pointed out by your friend Sally, is your overwhelming determination through adversity. Specifically being strong willed to fight through debilitating illness.

I notice the encroach of time and can see the moments that we have left in this world together are finite. It feels not that long ago that I saw life as something that was virtually endless, but as I know now, time goes by quickly and I am rapidly approaching middle age.  Therefore I realise how important that these things need to be said.

Me and Fran both yearn for the ability to one day be given the opportunity to be in the position you are in now so that our future child may be able to write a letter like this to us, safe in the knowledge that we have been successful as parents. It is by God's grace that we would be given that opportunity and strength that Christ gives us on the cross that gives thus the hope that one day we too would know the joy, love, pleasure and effort of parenthood.

I will always remain eternally grateful for all that you have done for me.

All my love,

Ben

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Letter to an old friend

An old friend messaged me the other day asking me why I'm no longer an atheist and how my faith was a sharp turn from when he knew me. Below is my response:

The sharp turn was very sudden really. It took them (my church) less than two months to convert me back in 2011. At the time it was mainly the aspects of morality and how corrupt mine was that convinced me. They taught me that some of my behaviour was wrong and instinctively I knew it was wrong because realistically it wasn't any different from what a good parent would tell a teenager. And while it was wrong there was exemption for that behaviour if I was to follow and trust in the teachings of this old book. But it wasn't just an old book written by some crackpot, it was multiple books written by many different authors over thousands of years, and while the style changed significantly, the underlying message was consistent. A book that tells of an extraterrestrial with unlimited power, and while the idea of extra terrestrials is generally accepted as scientifically plausible, the people that say they encounter them in whatever form are laughed at because they cannot support it with experimental scientific evidence. The books says that extraterrestrial sent us a human rescuer to show us what he had done for us, why he had done it, and how amazing the gift of that rescuer was. He was sent to take the punishment that we deserve for the crimes that we commit.

Through their behaviour towards me and towards each other they demonstrated that what this book teaches was true, by following specifically the teachings of this special person that did nothing wrong. They taught me that we were instructed to care for each other and to care for strangers, to feed the hungry, to look after our families, to live our lives selflessly instead of selfishly and most of all spread this knowledge to others so they too would understand and believe it.

They also demonstrated that this extra terrestrial with unlimited power could be communicated with directly, that He could be known to us directly and we could develop a personal relationship with him. They were effectively able predict the future through this communication. It became harder and harder to believe what they call in psychology "attentional bias", the theory that we attribute too much interest in certain events when they're really just a series of coincidences. Rationally concluding these to be a continual series of coincidences became far too unlikely for me to accept especially since they were being predicted so readily.

Despite all this, I had to overcome two major hurdles to join in this belief. The first being the years of exposure to misinformation spread deliberately about this book and the people that believe it, and the exposure to people that mix the book with their own ideas. The second being my strong trust in specific scientific theories such as the big bang theory and the theory of evolution.

Richard Dawkins spends a lot of his time in an effort to defend some of the scientific theories that he trusts in by actively attacking this book and the people that follow the teachings of it. It is now commonplace in our culture to be taught from a very early age that followers of this book are gullible, powerless, delusional, uneducated and illiterate. I find it amusing now the idea that there are people that follow the teachings of a book without having the ability to read that book.

These are our not our ideas though, they are taught to us by people that want to put forward their ideas instead. We are taught unsubstantiated ideas like this book is full of contradictions and that it has scientific inaccuracies. What isn't taught however is where these contradictions are and where these scientific inaccuracies are, because their aren't any. When pressed for specific examples of contradictions or inaccuracies they cannot name them. We are taught that is a good idea to have these attitudes while at the same time to be wilfully ignorant of this book. We are taught that religion is the cause of all war, and while the book documents some historical wars it's message is one of peace and love. Of course we are taught that because of all the other religions, the ones that are based on the idea that we can somehow work towards attaining rewards for acts done here on earth, some of those acts include murder. We are also taught that words that are held with respect in this book are in fact curses. The terms God, Bible, and Jesus Christ are tainted by the world we live in. The phrases "Oh my God!" and "Jesus Christ!" generally considered expletives in most people's vocabulary. The Bible itself has a bad name because a lot of people take it deliberately out of context to manipulate people into doing things for them, usually for money or for power. Getting over the fact that these aren't curses but are real names in English at least is something that it took me some time to overcome.

We are also taught that speculative theories like the big bang theory and the theory of evolution are absolute facts, and that people that do not trust in them are ignorant, uneducated fools and should be laughed at. Just because a theory has general consensus with peer reviewed scientists it doesn't necessarily make it fact, just the most agreed upon by the scientific elite. While they are based on repeatable scientific experimental knowledge they are still theoretical and unprovable. The big bang theory for instance is based mainly around observations of the universe, general relativity and the Doppler effect. The problem is that by their own admission general relativity doesn't explain the universe on a very small scale, and they have another theory of quantum mechanics that deals with the very small scale. These two theories are completely incompatible, effectively making general relativity as a theory while being useful for things like GPS technology is fundamentally flawed when dealing with large scale problems like the nature of the universe. Indeed general relativity doesn't work when faced with trying to explain the very beginning of the universe and quantum mechanics has to be used to explain it. There are other major issues that mean wild speculations have to be put in place to support this theory, like the idea of dark matter, which has no evidence at all outside of speculative mathematics.

Ultimately I do not claim to understand what God is. I don’t really have a good understanding or comprehension of a lot of these metaphysical theological terms like soul, or Holy Spirit, or of Heaven or of Hell. Indeed this is why we need the human image of Jesus Christ for us to begin to understand God. I think of God as an “extraterrestrial” because that is my best way of understanding Him. But then, I don’t have to because that is not my motivation in being a Christian. My motivation hasn’t changed from when I was an atheist. I’m still motivated by the ideal that should strive us as intelligent rational beings. Simply, we strive for the betterment of mankind. The only difference now is the method by which I achieve that. For most of my life I was under the impression that the betterment of mankind is through the pursuit, development and consumption of man created technology, and while it does help us in the west mainly to live more comfortably, it itself is not the answer. Life is wasted by obsessively following the consumerism of the modern technology. It is sitting in front of the TV watching Big Brother with a microwaved ready meal and a can of beer. So many people, I was amongst them, are plagued with the suffering of living an empty and unsatisfying life and end up trying desperately to fill the hole with alcohol or drugs or junk food or junk sex. They are all temporary pleasures and constantly have to be pursued. This is the detrimental behaviour from the psychologically damaging belief that there is no God. Atheism is the delusion. Christ shows us a better way, and I speak through experience that real Christians are happy, well adjusted and at peace. Showing love toward each other and towards strangers is something virtually non existent in a life without God. Christians are from my experience rational, intelligent, and have complete free will in their choices. Before I was a Christian I was constantly angry and miserable. Now I am constantly happy and content. The evidence for the truth in the Bible is not in the words nor the scientific ideas, it is in the fact that life is simply better when following Christ.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Children

My pastor tweeted the other day that he cannot imagine what a parent goes through when they lose a child. Speaking from experience there is no greater grief than the suffering of losing your own child. I have in the past been both resentful and grateful that I never got to meet my child. God gave us children to raise them. To nurture them, to love them, to pass on our knowledge and experience and ideals to another generation. The parent’s suffering and loss and grief and pain and anger is the same, no matter what age the child is, be it 2 months old, or 50 years old, or even still in the womb. The life that is lost to us is still the same. The experience of the joys and pleasures of this wonderful world that God created for us is tragically cut short for that person. All the hopes and dreams that you pass on to your child’s future are severed. There will be no future for them, not in this world at least.

How easy it is to blame God for such loss. How could a loving God do this to us as parents? Lest we forget that God has suffered that loss Himself. He knew before even His Son was even born that He was destined to be slaughtered for our sin. And how much greater is God’s love for His Son than our love for our children. If God’s love is universal, and His wraith wipes out every living person on this planet bar one family, how much greater is God’s grief for the death of His Son? How hard was it for Him to hear the words, “Eli Eli lama sabachthani”? I doubt that any of us as potential parents would be willing to go ahead with a conception if we knew that our innocent child would eventually become a sacrifice for the sake of other people's crimes. But God knew this and He still went ahead and let it happen! How great His love is for us!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday

Good Friday may be just a day off work for some, and given the overwhelming display of alcoholic commercialism I saw in Tesco yesterday, for some it is yet another excuse to get blind drunk. But for Christians it is a day to celebrate. Today we celebrate the day that the Roman Government at the time carried out it's death penalty on Jesus Christ for the crime of blasphemy. He after all claimed to be the Son of God, our prophesied Messiah. The fact is that if his claims were true, he could easily have stopped them carrying out the sentence. He could have used his power to make the cross disappear. He could have used his power to overthrow the Romans and lead the Jewish people to victory. But he didn't. He chose the cross. He chose to carry it. He chose to accept the punishment for the crimes that we're all guilty of because he loved us all. He showed us what true love is, even if almost everyone around him hated him. And despite that demonstration of love, and sacrifice, we still live in a world where most people hate him for what he did and deny his truth. They claim his Father isn't real, and ironically that his views on marriage are hateful. Yet even as Christians we are as guilty as the crowds that watched him slowly suffocate from exhaustion. That is why he chose it. That is why he accepted the punishment for our crimes. For all of us.