Dear Questioning Atheist,

If you cringe at authority concerning other things in life the way you do at religion you would have to be content to know nothing all of your life. Most of the things we know in this world come from authority. All this really means is that you believe certain things because you get the information from a trustworthy source. People believe in the concept of the solar system, the existence of the atom, and evolution because a scientist or teacher explained it to them. In fact, every historical statement in this world is believed because of authority. No one alive today was present during the Revolutionary War. We believe it happened because we are told it happened.

The point here is that information that is passed to people throughout history is done so on the sole basis of authority. It is a legitimate way of receiving information, otherwise we must be content to only know the things we experience or witness direct from an original source. We would have a closed-minded life indeed if we did the latter.

So, what’s the problem with God then? Why do some people not believe in him? The strange thing is, people are less inclined to believe in God, yet they have no problem believing in the existence of the atom, though most of them have never seen one. It still takes an authority to explain the atom. Nevertheless, the ones who have seen the atom first hand must accept another’s authority in scientific fields they themselves are not authorities in. So, it would seem, there is an endless need for authority. Let’s not forget, however, that these authorities are just as fallible as you and I.

We accept one authority and reject another, but why? We heap to ourselves teachers that tell us what we want to hear. We are always learning, but much of the truth we believe we will never witness to be true ourselves. Sadly, truth takes a backseat to our agenda. Truth then, only stays truth if it happens to fit our views of life.

Does God exist or not? Well, that depends on who you are listening to, and who you trust. It is still up to each man to make his own decision, regardless of what fallible authorities say. Only a first hand experience with God can convince you otherwise, and that takes a little faith. I wouldn’t cringe at the word “faith” either. You already have faith in the authority of your teachers. You can’t say you don’t have any. It’s just a matter of where you place it.

***Update*** See Side Notes April 27, 2010

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The Meaning of Life – A Look at the Life of Mark Sherrell

What is the Meaning of Life?

Earthly Meaning:

For the Christian, meaning is found when we give up the right to ourselves. Our meaning is insignificant compared to the worth of God. He is the only self-sustaining one. Meaning to us is found when we stop trying to find ourselves and seek after the person of God. His meaning is the greatest there is, and we can glory in him. I must decrease so that God may increase. Yet, when we try to put this meaning into words, words escape us, and all we can do is praise the God who is everything to us.

Eternal Meaning:

As humans, by naming something, we ascribe meaning to it. For those who are in his family, God has chosen a new name for each of us. (Rev 2:17, Rev. 3:12) We won’t know that name until we get to heaven. Although we try to look for our own meaning, it is actually ascribed by God and rooted in our new name. And though others may tell you what you mean to them, if God is increasing in your life, it is really God that they are finding any worth in. And what’s better, our new name is linked to God’s name, just like when you know a person better by knowing their first and last name. You then realize what family they belong to. Perhaps we will know our true meaning after God calls us by the family name.

My Uncle Mark recently died. Although, he was a drug addict for thirty years, he found victory over addiction the last years of his life. How do you measure a life lived? Most of his life would seem a waste to us as he lived in bondage as a slave to his own addictions. Yet, for those who have chosen to make God their God, he has made them a new person, and regardless of what Mark did, God made him a new person. He was still subject to the lusts and sins everyone else was subject to, but he had this treasure (his new person) in his flawed body so that the power of a changed life might be shown to be of God and not of him. The best we can do in this life puts us on our knees begging for forgiveness because we are not good enough. As the Bible says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

I think it’s appropriate now to let Mark explain to you himself what happened to him:

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The “Dear Atheist” Letters

Dear Atheist,

I was told by another atheist that without belief, man cannot aspire to greater understanding and a means of exploring the social and physical universe. I agree with this statement. If all we did was observe, what good would it do us? Man, by nature, comes to conclusions or beliefs. The evolutionist believes in evolution and fits the observed facts into his beliefs. The Christian fits the observed facts into his beliefs as well, but the Christian is condemned for it.

You chide the Christian for having an immovable belief. They believe in God no matter what evidence is presented to them. “At least we,” you say, “change what we believe based on new evidence obtained.” The evolutionist is proud of this change, assuming it is a step towards the more accurate. However, in this statement, you are admitting to believing in errors. You believe in error till a more accurate error comes around. You can’t be sure that what you’re believing is real. It’s just the best that you can do at the moment, till something disproves it. But in the disproving, there is still the thought that this fact may be disproved as well. At least the Christian is not unstable in his beliefs.

Sincerely,
Theist

Mysteries of the Deep

The Mid-Ocean Ridge.

It is 10,000 feet high; 500 miles wide; 40,000 miles long. It is the largest geological feature on the face of the earth. This picture provides a view of what the volcanic eruptions can do to the ocean floor.

Pictured here is the space between the American and European sides of the Mid-Ocean ridge located in the Atlantic.

Scientists descended into the ocean depths to view the floor along the Mid-Ocean Ridge and investigate a curious spike in heat in that area. Volcanoes from below the earth’s surface had broken through with violent rage, and destroyed all life on the ocean floor. This is a frequent event along the ridge.

The lava spewed out from the earth and hardened. It then retreted back into the earth and repeated the process. Layers of rock were formed quickly. However, they saw one thing they had not expected to see… life.

This life form attached itself to a lava hardened structure that still had lava flowing through it. The temperature inside the rock was 700 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to melt lead.

A few years later, scientists once again visited the floor along the ridge and were amazed at what they saw. Visits to other locations along the ridge revealed the same curious event: Not only was the terrain structure growing at an unimaginable rate, but life was flourishing as well. The structure of the ocean floor provided a feast for shrimp and other animals. One scientist said, “It was very difficult to imagine that these structures were not created for the animals inside. The bowls are so perfect to serve up the soup of bacteria for the shrimp to eat. Everywhere we went, the geology was as if alive, massive structures growing, not in millions of years, but almost before our eyes.”

“This was truly an extraordinary place like no other on earth. It had seen… years of darkness yet there was no night. It was a place without seasons, without rest, without time. A world driven by the rhythms of the inner earth.”

The Robots Are Alive!!!

HoArt3

  Warning: This is not light reading.

Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an ‘intelligence explosion,’ and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.

  • I. J. Good (Statistician)

Technological Singularity

Mathematician and computer scientist Vernor Vinge:

What are the consequences of this event? When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid. In fact, there seems no reason why progress itself would not involve the creation of still more intelligent entities – on a still-shorter time scale.

In 2000, AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky and entrepreneur Brian Atkins founded the Singularity Institute to work toward smarter-than-human intelligence by engaging in Artificial Intelligence and machine ethics research. Yudkowsky states:

The Singularity is beyond huge, but it can begin with something small. If one smarter-than-human intelligence exists, that mind will find it easier to create still smarter minds. In this respect the dynamic of the Singularity resembles other cases where small causes can have large effects; toppling the first domino in a chain, starting an avalanche with a pebble, perturbing an upright object balanced on its tip. All it takes is one technology – Artificial Intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, or perhaps something unforeseen – that advances to the point of creating smarter-than-human minds. That one technological advance is the equivalent of the first self-replicating chemical that gave rise to life on Earth.

 What, then, is the Singularity? It’s a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Although neither utopian or dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lives, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself. Understanding the Singularity will alter our perspective on the significance of our past and the ramifications for our future. To truly understand it inherently changes one’s view of life in general and one’s own particular life.

HandC_Bulb_03

  The term “singularity” was first used to describe all matter in the universe that converged at some finite point in the past. From there it expanded over time into the universe we have today. The next event that was comparable to that was the right conditions and right amount of proteins and various chemicals for life to begin on earth. This was the start of evolution. It seems today that this quest for the next cosmic event dubbed the singularity is man’s attempt to take evolution to the the next step. There is no need to wait for evolution to do its job, man can create more advanced life.

I do not prescribe to evolution or the philosophies presented above. However, I do have thoughts on the matter. If greater-than-human intelligence changed every aspect of our lives, it would not preclude us from answering the age old questions that still haunt us today. Also, we have access to greater-than-human intelligence in God. If you happen to not believe in God, well… that’s just too bad for you because the questions of life can only be answered by the greater-than-human intelligence found in the Creator. Advanced life created in the world by the abilities of man would still have no outside-of-the-universe knowledge. Therefore, answers gained by looking at the “box” of the universe may be more complex, but ultra-intelligent life still would not gain any more truth than we would. We all look at the same “box”.

I’m not pronouncing doom on the singularity project. Certainly, progress in technology changes our lives for the better. However, the plight of humans will continue until time is over. Nothing will change that.

The Singularity Summit is a meeting by scientists and mathematicians alike that report on the progress of technology toward the singularity.

The first Singularity Summit was held at Stanford in 2006 to further understanding and discussion about the Singularity concept and the future of human technological progress. It was founded as a venue for leading thinkers to explore the subject, whether scientist, enthusiast, or skeptic.

Here is a link to the Singularity Summit videos. I found them extremely interesting.

http://www.vimeo.com/siai/videos

Supernatural Gifts

earth-in-hands1

A deity has given you the gift of omnipresence. What will you do with it? You do not possess omnipotence or omniscience. Could you even contain it in your body (your eyes can only see in front of you)? What use would it be without the other two gifts? Could you turn the gift on and off at will? Does is mean you could simultaneously be in hell and heaven? Could you see every atom and molecule? Does this mean you could shrink in size or is this not applicable? Are there places you would not want to be? 

I will answer these questions at a later time. In the meantime your answers are appreciated.

 Extra thoughts:

Is God present in hell seeing that hell is a place of eternal separation from God? Or does it mean that God sees hell and is not actually in it?