Monday, September 10, 2007

Did Jesus Have Faith?

Some would argue that Jesus had no faith because faith requires free will, and Christ made it clear he was doing the will of his Father.

Ethologically, free will is an illusion. Behavior is phenotypical effect governed by genetic and environmental cause. As brother Dick Adams says, "We do what we do because we are what we are". But, what if there is a Creator who wants something back from its creation? What could it be?

Logically, what else but self-sacrifice (agape love) could the creation offer the Creator? It would already have everything else. Let's examine why faith is such a self-sacrifice (and therefore an act of agape love).

As many can relate, an intellectual self-sacrifice is required to accept certain things (such as there being a god). Knowing that a Creator exists would eliminate the need for that self-sacrifice (and thus, the agape love) for that Creator. Perhaps this helps explain the scripture that reads, "Without faith, it's impossible to please him." It would also help explain why "Faith without works is dead." It would certainly make one have to reconsider the idea that "Jesus had no faith". In the light of faith being evidenced by self-sacrifice, Jesus would have been a pretty good example of such faith.

God appears to be all about self-sacrifice, and faith appears to be as much a self-sacrifice as the widow's mite. That's why, when I think of "faith in God", I don't think of "free will" acceptance of him -- I think of self-sacrifice for him. It's certainly an intellectual self-sacrifice in my case -- so much so that I can certainly empathize with those who are unwilling to make such a self-sacrifice.

Granddad

Friday, August 17, 2007

Is Religion the Root of All Evil?

Humans do bad things to each other. So do other animals.

The "bad" human behavior for which religion is often blamed would continue to exist tomorrow if religion ceased to exist tonight, for a simple reason -- genetics.

Phenotypical behavior evolves from two sources, genetics and environment. Not being biologists, social scientists tend to concentrate on the environment (conditioning) and the role it plays in human behavior. Thus, the cause and effect relationship of religion and behavior becomes an easy target for them.

The problem with that is idea is that it blames the tool for the works of the fool.

Much of our behavior is innate, not learned. Much of the "bad" behavior for which religion is blamed is actually phylogenetically similar to that seen in other animals species.

We see similar territoriality, competition for resources, kin selection, aggression, and so on, in many animal species. Natural selection (or God) provided Homo sapiens with the same instincts for self/species preservation as other animals. Humans mark their territory by building fences and setting borders for similar reasons that dogs urinate on bushes.

Our "bad" behaviors are simply human expressions of the same preservational animal instincts found in other species. Pan troglodytes do not require religion to make them homocidal towards other chimps -- and Homo sapiens don't either.

We humans are clever apes. We are even able (and willing) to use our "science" to justify our self-serving behavior. It was not very long ago that many leading scientists throughout the world (including America) firmly believed in eugenics. Why not? It's a proven way to breed better cattle and bananas. Are humans biologically superior to cattle? Of course not. So, what makes humans superior? Our egos? If we're not superior in some way, eugenics is as scientifically logical for our species as it is for hogs.

Granddad

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Marital Fidelity

What "glues" a marriage together is not what most people consider "love". It's actually mutual need-fulfillment. Natural selection provided us with a set of instincts (needs) at birth. Thereafter, our experiences provided us with conditioned needs. Together, these genetic and conditioned needs determine behavior. As long as a husband or wife meets their spouse's needs better than anyone else, they'll remain loyal. What are those needs?

Genetic needs of both male and female include survival of self and species. It's not quite so easy to nail down needs created by conditioning. These are driven by a person's zeitgeist -- the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate they live in. Similarity of zeitgeist helps ensure a couple's need-fulfillment, thus the Biblical advice to "be not unequally yoked", while not essential, has merit.

I realize this "animal instincts" stuff is not very romantic. However, knowing the motivators for human behavior provides us with the possibility of using them to our advantage. God forbid that I'd use the phrase "manipulate others". At the very least, it might allow us to know whether we are able, or willing, to fulfill the needs of another, thereby ensuring their "loyalty". It might help us maintain or repair a relationship -- or know when to move on.

A couple notes:

1. Marriage does not switch off the instinct for sex. Therefore, wives having male "friends" and husbands having female "friends" is, zoologically speaking, playing bonding roulette. Exercise extreme caution.

2. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder. "Out of sight, out of mind" is far more accurate. Familiarity may breed contempt, but it also serves to condition the norm -- to cement the relationship. We grow comfortable with what we're used to, so it's risky to make absence the norm.

Granddad

Monday, August 13, 2007

Are Children Naturally Bad?

I heard a person say that children come into the world rude, insolent, discourteous, greedy, selfish, self centered, thieves, vandals, demanding, and prone to disobedience and anarchy.

This is true, but it's not the whole truth.

Human children are born with what natural selection deemed best suited for both their personal survival and the survival of their species. After birth, their behavior is conditioned by their environment. Thus their phenotypical behavior is a product of both their genetics and their environmental experiences.

Left on their own (as as been seen with feral children), they will do what is necessary to ensure their survival. This will certainly involve breaking some of the "10 commandments". However, such children would also instinctively demonstrate a certain amount of altruistic and caring behavior -- similar to that of other apes.

Natural behavior is not evil -- it's what evolution (or the Creator if you wish) provided. The natural behavior of a child is no more "evil" than that of a puppy. What's evil is selfishly harming others after knowing it's wrong.

A person's behavior will depend a lot upon their conditioning. Left to their own learning (as many are), children tend to be less altruistic and conforming and more self-centered and anarchic because that is their natural state. So, where do we place the blame when a person behaves "badly"?

Children are victims of their genetics and conditioning. Nature provides the first. Nurture provides the second. Neither is chosen by the children when they pop out of the womb. We should try and remember this and limit ourselves to judging behavior, not people. People can only be judged by their Creator.

Granddad

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Suggestion

As an old man, I'd suggest the following:

Try to use whatever talents, fortunes, and strengths you have to help others. That is what love means, and it's the one common denominator in all religions. Then, your life will not have been in vain and you'll have a good chance of dying with a satisfied mind.

Granddad

Monday, July 30, 2007

Millions Are Dying -- Who Cares?

Remember that story? A preacher tells his congregation something like, "Millions are dying and you don't give a shit -- and most of you are more shocked about my saying "shit" than you are about the millions dying.

As Joseph Stalin noted, "One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic."

Both the preacher and Stalin recognized something that researchers like W.D. Hamilton, et al, have found to be inherant in our nature. Such studies have shown that the level of altruism a person can feel for others is indirectly proportional to both the numbers involved and kin recognition.

Basically, we can only experience compassion for (or be shocked by) an event if we can personalize it. However, we don't have to grieve for millions in order to send a dollar -- or cast a vote -- to help them. We just have to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Granddad

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One Reason I'm Not an Atheist

Human behavior is as much a function of genotype and environment as that of any other animal. However, our phenotype appears to be unique in a few ways. One of those is our ability to conceptualize "right and wrong" (usually defined by the tribe/tribal strongman). We have also evolved altruistic behavior for reasons similar to that of other apes. Such natural motivators, when combined with our ability to conceptualize, would appear to be sufficient to logically explain the etiology of "religion" in our species.

Yet, there are thorns.

What survives natural selection must be beneficial (or at least, tolerated). Homo sapiens sometime choose to deny their instincts for self/tribal/species-preservation. Such behavior is contrary to nature. Granted, natural selection has not (yet) deemed this sufficient cause for our extinction. However, the fact that this ability exists is quite interesting, because it presents the question, "Why?"

Now, we do not need a God to explain much of our altruistic behavior. Biology will work just fine. A mother sacrificing herself for her child and a soldier sacrificing himself for a comrade are examples of instinctive altruistic behavior. So are feelings of compassion for a hungry child and a crippled old lady. Natural selection deemed such emotion to be advantageous to our species.

However, Homo sapiens often engage in extreme, self-harming altruistic behavior. I say "extreme", because it goes far beyond the altruistic instincts we all possess. For example, it's hard to zoologically defend a man's choice to be celibate. It's obviously an artificial construct (not genetic). Another example is the kind of non-instinctive altruistic behavior exampled by Christ on the cross. It is difficult to support any premise that such behavior is zoologically beneficial to an individual animal or its species.

Natural selection does not approve of such behavior, neither at cellular nor at population levels. So, what's going on here? Maybe nothing more than our inability to understand it. Maybe something more. Maybe it's a self-sacrificial ability (and requirement) given to us by something other than evolution. If so, perhaps such self-sacrifice is required by that "something". We often define such self-sacrifice as "love". We also often define such "love" as "God".

Could it be there is a "something" that requires the one thing from humans that only humans are capable of giving, non-instinctive self-sacrifice? If so, there is no greater self-sacrifice than faith. Accepting something life-changing and life-controlling with insufficient evidence will be an intellectual self-sacrifice for anyone. If so, it may address the demand to, "Show me objective evidence for God's existence." If objective evidence for God existed, the self-sacrifice (of intellect) would not be required.

Just speculating -- but this is (part of) the reason I cannot be an atheist. Too many loose ends.

Granddad

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Alpha Males

Primates (and most other mammals) usually recognize, respond, and require a male alpha. There are female alphas in some species, but even they usually submit to a male. Politically incorrect or not, this is also true for H. sapiens. We are able to see this as a tendency in history, marriages, business, and governments.

As with all things evolved, natural selection is responsible. The fact that alpha males exist is evidence they were required for our species to survive. Male size and androgens (especially testosterone) were critically beneficial to our species -- as were estrogen-rich, fertile females. We are here because our fathers were the strongest males and our mothers were the most fecund females.

Is this same phenotype required today? Probably in the few primitive hunter-gatherer groups that still exist. Probably not in the "civilized world" most of us live in. If we change our breeding habits, if females begin mating more with Omegas and less with Alphas, our genome will change. Our phenotype is the result of both our environment and our genome. Our environment has certainly changed in the last few centuries and if our civilization holds together, I expect our genome to follow suit. But, it will only change as the result of natural selection, and natural selection will be determined by breeding. As more females breed with intelligent and less aggressive males, our species will become more bonobo and less chimpanzee -- and the jocks will no longer get the most chicks.

Until that time, our species is uniquely able to short-circuit our genomic instincts (to a degree) -- and we see it happening. More females are stepping into roles that are classically male-dominated (business government, breadwinner, etc.) , and males are (sometimes reluctantly) accepting it. More females are also breeding with less agressive males.

Is this a good thing? In biology, "good" is what helps ensure the survival of the species. "Bad" is what leads to extinction. Natural selection is neutral -- it doesn't care. It's simply the result of breeding. There have been species that have been "naturally selected" into extinction when reproduction failed to pass on an adequate genotype to cope with the environment.

Now, I'll take off my zoology hat and put on my grandson's ball-team hat -- to give some personal opinions. Last century, our species developed the capability to destroy itself. This ability being in the hands of primates (male and female) who still instinctively respond positively to the aggresive, alpha male is somewhat disturbing. For those skeptics out there, I point to the (elected or otherwise) leaders of America, Great Britain, and almost all other nations.

If our species survives, it may be because female (or far less agressive male) leadership occurs in time. So, all you fertile ladies out there, for the sake of your species, do NOT breed with agressive males. Find a smart, gentle wimp and have a litter. Hopefully our species' need for an alpha male will then change by natural selection -- and our phenotype will more closely resemble Pan paniscus than Pan troglodytes.

BTW, on a side note. Phenotypical change is what Dawkins, promotes. However, he focuses on religious memes ("mind viruses") as what needs to be bred out of existence for the sake of humanity. Even if that were true (which it's not), that's attacking a symptom instead of a cause. Gentle religion, gentle politics, gentle marriages, and gentle people are what our species needs -- and that will only occur when gentle genotypes breed with gentle genotypes, religious or not.

(Of course, if civilization ever fails and we fall back to hunting/gathering ...)

Granddad

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Our Consciences

Is our conscience genetic or is it acquired? It appears that having a conscience (for humans) is as genetically determined as a woman having menarche. However, what "triggers" that conscience is mostly acquired.

Studies have shown that it is very difficult and sometimes impossible for feral children who have been found after a certain age to ever acquire the impulse control and moral judgement deemed mature. Allowing everyone to answer only to their own conscience would certainly not be efficient at ensuring behaviorial conformity or tribal continuity. But is that the role of religion -- to ensure behaviorial conformity and tribal continuity? Whether one believes the answer to that is "yes" or "no", it's true that religion is used as a tool to do just that. However, there is that one-on-one with our Creator that each of us must deal with (or not).

While it's important, I'm not talking about our conscience's role in maintaining social order. I'm talking about its role in pleasing our Creator. I'm talking about our fealty to our conscience, regardless of whether the behavior such fealty precipitates appears good, bad, or ugly. We all have a choice at all stages of life to be true to whatever our conscience requires of us -- or to go against it. While our behavior is subject to praise or censure by others, adherence to our conscience can only be judged by our Creator.

This presents a behavioral dichotomy. Our behavior may be wrong, and rightly condemned by God and humans, and yet I believe we can be accepted by God if what we've done is what we believed was right. As a species, we govern the behavior of our members. We reward behavior we approve of and punish behavior we don't. We govern by authority of evolutionary instincts which have as their goal the survival of our species. The Creator's goal is to judge our motives, not our knowledge or success. If our conscience condemns us for eating meat, God will hold us accountable for wolfing down that pork steak. By the same token, if we believe we should do something and don't, God will hold us accountable for that also.

My ultimate point is that I don't believe it's the deed or belief that determines our sin or righteousness. It's our fidelity to our conscience, regardless of whether it's considered right or wrong according to books, laws, or dogmas. I could drop the hammer on Hitler, but I would not call it punishment. I would call it removal of something that harms people, the same as a bacterial infection or a hydrophobic dog. I would judge his acts as unacceptable and do what was required to stop them, but any judgement of him is out of my league.

Granddad

They Are Not Us!

Excluding the "not us" is an example of a Fixed Action Pattern (FAP). A FAP is an animal's innate response to a particular stimulus. Among the many FAPs, there is the "not us" pattern of behavior that makes humans mistrust and exclude others who are not "us". We see it at work in cliques, private clubs, tribes, ethnic groups, and even national borders. FAPs care nothing for being politically correct and are responsible for homophobia, racial prejudice, class systems, and religious excluvisity. They are a vital tool to help ensure our genetics will survive natural selection. As such, they are very important for our survival as individuals and as a species.

However, it helps to recognize them in human behavior and not attribute their requirements to God. God is not the author of racism, sexism, or denominational confusion. We humans have trouble loving, trusting, and accepting our own families, let alone the world. So, we find means to exclude the "not us". We do it socially, politically, and religiously. Excluding ignorant-of-the-Gospel folks from Salvation because of their failure to have "faith in Christ" is an example of a human FAP. I think it's save to assume that the Creator of the universe is not governed by that particular human FAP.

I'm a follower of Christ. Christ's tracks were not made by "us-only" Christianity. When I see deer tracks, I don't think raccoon. A good tracker knows that "us only" tracks are made by humans -- and won't follow them expecting to find God.

Granddad

Friday, May 18, 2007

Our Conscience

Repentence, restitution, prayer and good works to be "reconciled" with God appears to be common behavior for our species clear back to when we closed out Homo neanderthalensis 7-0. For that matter, it was probably even common behavior for the Neanderthals.

It appears that our species is (uniquely) burdened with a conscience. Perhaps when Paul wrote about the conscience accusing or excusing, he was tapping into a truth that is universal for all mankind. After all, isn't that what it really boils down to? Aren't we all governed by our consciences, regardless of the beliefs that trigger them?

So, where would sin fit in? Perhaps the only sin our Creator imputes is failing one's conscience. Perhaps an Egyptian whose conscience convicted him of offending Sekhmet was held by the Creator as guilty of sin as an old-time Baptist whose conscience convicted him of drinking whiskey.

Perhaps being allowed through that Christ door is far more dependent upon our following our consciences than any particular dogma.

Granddad

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Called and Chosen

Matthew 22:14 …For many are called, but few are chosen.

Matthew 7:13-14 …Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

These verses appear to clearly say that most people will not make it through Heaven's gates. They are very influential in motivating evangelicals to "spread the Gospel" -- to reach the "lost" before it's too late. But are they really saying that most people will not make it through Heaven's gates?

We should always keep a very important fact in mind when reading Christ's words. Christ was a Jew whose audience was Jews. He did not direct his teaching and admonitions to Christians, or even Gentiles. In his own words, he put it this way: I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The "sheep" he refers to so often were not (as is often taught) Christians. They were, in Christ's words, the house of Israel. He did not talk to Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, or any other "Christians". As John stated, "he came to his own ...".

It is very easy to interpolate Christ's message to the Jews with a supposed message to Christians (or mankind in general) -- when in most cases this was not true. This puts a completely different spin on the verses.

Matthew 22:14 is not a declaration from Christ that only "born-again Christians" would be saved (chosen). Remember, Christ was speaking to the Jews. They are the "chosen". Christ was advising them that the "chosen" were not the only humans his Father was concerned with -- that He called many others (non-Jews) as well. Just previous to this (in verses 8 and 9 of that same chapter), Christ says, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. The "bidden" were the Jews -- the "chosen". But they "were not worthy", which opened the door for those on the "highway" (such as your's truly).

Matthew 7:13-14 finds Christ again talking to the Jews, which makes the "narrow gate" take on a completely different meaning than is usually given it. Christ was advising the Jews that the "narrow gate" would be doing his Father's will, not the "broad road" offered by just being a Jew. In other words, he was telling them that being descended from Abraham was not enough to prevent their "destruction".

In verse 21 of that same chapter, Christ says Not every one who says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. In other words, it won't be the Jew (or Christian) who says "Lord, Lord". It won't be the physical offspring of Abraham or the person who "accepts Christ as savior". It will be the one who does God's will (which is summed up in the two "love your God and neighbor" biggies).

Consider what he told his audience (Jews) in Matthew 8:11: And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. It's obvious that Christ is attacking his fellow-Jews' paradigm that made them feel comfortable as God's "chosen".

If someone says "His sheep are a very small number in comparison to the numbers of the damned", that person has a shallow understanding of Christ's character and message. That person does not understand who Christ considered "sheep" in his speeches -- and most importantly, that person does not understand Christ's mission to (and for) all of mankind.

Granddad

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Aliens -- ETs -- Spirits?

Until very recently, natural selection solely determined what was best for Homo sapien survival. We had no say in our evolution. However, we have reached the stage in our evolution where we are capable of un-natural selection. We have found our own genome and we are on the verge of controlling it. For the first time (as far as we know), matter will be in charge of it's own destiny.

In the short term, this will probably lead to longer lives by improving our physical bodies. However, as long as we remain in physical bodies, death will be our ultimate fate. Therefore, some future leap in our evolution will probably be to abandon our bodies. It could happen in stages, starting with our exchanging flesh and blood for something more durable -- but still physical. However, regardless of how durable, the life of all matter is still finite. The only way to finally put our instincts for survival at ease is to obtain immortality -- and the only immortality we know of today is that of energy.

It makes for good movie, but it makes little sense to imagine ETs being corporal beings of any kind, let alone bipedals with big eyes and big heads. Our technology is only a couple hundred years old and look how far we've come already. Imagine where any alien technology would be if it were thousands, maybe millions of years beyond ours. Undoubtedly, the evolution of any other sentience would be many years farther along than our own if they were capable of "visiting" us.

So, it's a fair bet any ETs will have evolved out of mortal bodies to some form of sentient energy. This sentient immortality may be what it means to be a "spirit". Unless Roswell-style ETs are the redneck, retarded cousins of the universe, I doubt if they exist. However, I would not be surprised if a true ET (spirit) is not looking over my shoulder as I type this.

Granddad

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Thousand Rapes!

I heard someone say, "It can overwhelming to think of all those who are raped and murdered in other countries!"

If by "think" that person meant "worry about", it's not so much "overwhelming" as it is impossible! We are not "hardwired" with that ability. Joseph Stalin made an accurate observation when he said, "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic."

Studies (and common observation) have shown that the strength of sympathetic/empathetic emotion is indirectly proportional to the numbers involved. In other words, as the numbers who suffer rise, our ability to care falls. We just can't relate.

We evolved to protect ourselves and our own. We are therefore capable of very strong emotions regarding ourselves and our own. Although we can understand the concept of a million deaths or a thousand rapes, we did not evolve to react with strong emotions to such information. There's no sense in feeling guilty about it.

Of course, this does not mean that we should ignore the million deaths or thousand rapes! Our species has the ability to choose behavior above and beyond that prompted by emotions. It's why we're able to "love our enemies". It's also why self-sacrificial love is the result of choice, not emotion.

Granddad

Friday, March 30, 2007

In His Image

Being "made in the image of" the Creator has a special meaning to me -- and it has nothing to do with the physical.

According to scripture, God is love. If we humans were made in His image, we will also be (capable) of love. This helps explain why Christ would say that to love God and others sums up all the law and prophets.

If I am concerned about the helpless, that's love -- if I'm willing to make personal sacrifices to help them. That's being made in God's image. It's the example Christ gave us on the cross.

The Creator could have put that (ability to) love into mountain lions and it would not have made their fleshly bodies any more special than it made ours. If He had chosen the flesh of mountain lions instead of naked apes, I expect Christ would have came to earth as a mountain lion.

Steve

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Great Commission?

Perhaps the "Great Commission" (if such a thing really exists) was to simply spread the good news that death is not the victor for those who love (agape) their Creator and others -- which can be seen as "accepting Christ".

As far as I'm concerned, accepting someone means to accept their leadership -- their way -- (not their name). Such leadership is spiritual, and can easily be seen at work in all humanity, regardless of head knowledge regarding theology.

You want to accept Christ (his sacrifice) as your Savior? Accept his teaching, which was self-sacrificing love. You don't need any particular theological training for that (you might say it's kinda built-in) -- and you don't need to know how to spell "Jesus".

Steve

Monday, March 19, 2007

Are You a Christophile?

"Sanskrit has ninety-six words for love; ancient Persian has eighty; Greek three; and English only one. English speakers do know the 96 forms of love - they just jam them into one word! That is why we are all confused over what "love" is, since we have dozens of definitions for it!" - N.S. Gill, Ancient/Classical History

Christians are always tossing out "love God" and "love your neighbor".

Non-Christians often observe (accurately) the non-loving behavior of many such Christians. Why does the behavior of so many "Christians" appear to be such poor examples of love? Here's my theory.

Three times, Christ asked Peter, "Do you love (agape) me?" When Peter answered, "Yes, Lord, I love (phileo) you." Christ replied, "Then feed my sheep."

Why did he do this three times?

Phileo -- the love Peter offered Christ -- means to have an affection, attraction, sentiment, passion, or feeling for. We use phileo in words like bibliophilia, audiophilia, and pedophila. Christ was not asking for Peter's affection. He wasn't looking for a buddy or groupie. He wasn't asking Peter to be a Christophile.

The love Christ asked Peter for was agape, which means a mental choice to seek the best for others. Agape love requires behavior, not feelings. The kind of love Christ wanted from Peter was the working kind -- the "doing for others" kind.

Most folks (inclulding Christians) wait until they are emotionally moved to help others. That was not what Christ taught. He asked why anyone should think they deserve a reward for such behavior. He stated that even the "infidels" do that. Sharing bread with others for no other reason than their hunger is the love Christ taught. We call that "caring", but Christ taught that we should do it whether we care or not. He even expects us to do it for our enemies -- for those we hate.

Love is what we do for others regardless of our feelings towards them. In my opinion, this is the most important concept Christ wanted us to understand. During his entire ministry on earth, from the Sermon on the Mount to the parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ taught sacrificial, agape love. He taught it with his words, his life, and his death.

John states, "Whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth ..."

If "Christians" had always loved in this way, I doubt if even Mr. Sam Harris or brother Richard Dawkins would have a beef today. If the foundation of every marriage was agape instead of just phileo and eros, far fewer divorces would occur. But such love requires sacrifice -- time, money, etc. Without such sacrifice, love is, like Tina Turner sang, "just a second-hand emotion".

It's unfortunate that so many Christians "feel" and teach Peter's Christophilia instead of Christ's self-sacrificial agape. If agape love was understood and shared, I imagine more Christian" songs would have at least as many "give" lyrics as "prase" lyrics.

Steve

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Does Genocide Shock You?

Research has shown that the amount we can care about others is inversely proportional to their numbers. In typical instances, even going from one to two people results in less interest and empathy. For example, we appear to be able to care deeply and emotionally about an individual being tortured, but the genocide of 10,000 can only be considered intellectually.

Of course, this does not excuse apathy. Our species does not require emotion to do what is right and to condemn what is wrong. However, it does mean that guilt and condemnation over a lack of emotion is unrealistic.

Steve

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Wait until they ask -- not!

Many say don't teach children about sex until they ask. Don't wait until they ask!

Start teaching them the biological sciences (including anatomy) about the same time you start teaching them to use the potty. Ensure they understand that they are animals with a full set of animal instincts, and that those instincts are necessary and good. Take them to the zoo and have fun comparing inmate behavior with that of the humans watching the inmates.

Let them know what their animal instincts are for (including the instinct to have sex) and how to recognize them -- how they (will) feel. It's also important to teach them how to recognize those instincts in others. Then, teach them ways to control those instinctive urges and not be controlled by them. Make them aware of the problems and consequences of allowing their animal instincts free rein.

Make sure they understand that most other people (such as boy friends/girl friends) will not have anywhere near this amount of knowledge and will probably think penis, vagina, and copulate are dirty words.

Along the way, be sure and let them know that they are unique in the animal kingdom for a very special reason. They can deny their animal instincts any time they choose. They can even choose to love others as they love themselves.

How can we expect our children to do what they don't know -- and how can we expect them to know what they're not told? Just think! If they had your accumulated, hard-earned knowledge they'd make fewer mistakes, right? So give it to them freely -- and early. Those critters are a whole lot smarter than we sometimes think.

Steve

Judgement Day -- Case 1 and 2

Case 1:

"Lord I'm a born-again Christian all the way. I prophesized in your name. I preached the gospel all over the land and in three foreign countries. I did great things in your name. I built a 10,000 member church in Texas! I even memorized every praise song about you on the radio."

Did you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, help the sick and visit the prisoner?

"Uh, well, uh, there was this freeloader one time that, uh, well, we had a group in the church that, uh ..."

Depart ...

Case 2:

"Great Spirit, I never knew your name."

Did you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, help the sick and visit the prisoner?

"Yes. I did all those things. But I was just a dumb old Injun who never heard the Gospel story. I figure I'm lost."

Come ...

Steve

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Narrow Gate

As we know, most believe the "narrow gate" that "few find" is the hearing and believing in Christ. Yet, since most humans never had, have, or will have that opportunity, it means they will fail due to their ignorance. I find this both horrible and incomprehensible -- especially when the consequence appears to be so harsh.

I've wondered if that narrow gate IS Christ, but not in the way so often preached. Perhaps it's the Spirit of Christ that all humans can accept or reject -- even if they've never heard his name.

Perhaps the Creator breathed that Spirit into our species alone.

Perhaps, uniquely among all lifeforms, that Spirit enabled us to discern good from evil -- and choose one over the other.

Perhaps, also uniquely among all animals, we were given the ability to deny our selfish animal instincts for the sake of others.

Perhaps Christ's sacrifice demonstrated the love we're expected to have for others.

Perhaps denying ourselves and following his example of self-sacrificial love for others is what "accepting" him really means.

Perhaps that self-denying, self-sacrificing love is evidence of Christ's spirit working in a person -- whether he or she has ever "heard the Gospel" or not.

Perhaps our choice to follow that Spirit's lead is a choice to follow Christ, whether we'ver ever heard the name "Jesus" or not.

Perhaps the few who DO manage to overcome their selfish instincts and love others as they love themselves are the ones who truly follow Christ.

And finally, since so few will deny themselves in such a way, perhaps THAT is the small gate and narrow road to being a sheep on Judgement Day instead of a goat. (For as much as you've done it for the least ...)

Perhaps this would level the playing field much better than having to "know and accept Christ as your Savior".

Perhaps this would make Christ more of an equal-opportunity Savior.

Perhaps I'm just an old dumb Okie who's spent too much time in the sun.

Mongo