Sunday, March 27, 2011

How Atheists are Made...?

We hear in new books promoting theories of how Atheists are made, ideas of how one’s good or bad family life may promote either a propensity for a just and moral life, with an assumption here that good Christian kids are raised from good Christian parents…or at least an up-right, strong father figure…because our foundational ideas of God are related to our fathers. But what does it say in the Word of God? What do some examples from the Bible say…what analogies are used to teach us to follow the Lord?

2 Chronicles 30:7 says “And do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were unfaithful to the LORD God of their fathers, so that He made them a horror, as you see.”

Cries from Psalm of being forsaken by ones parents… “For my father and my mother have forsaken me…” (Psalm 27:10) and reminders to remember God and his works “and not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.” (Psalm 78:8)And what did Jesus say? “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

So I believe the point I am trying to biblically illustrate here is the danger of absolutizing anything. Our heavenly father is NOT like our earthly father. He does not tell lies, cheat, and above all is not a sinful fallen human being in desperate need of redemption. And that goes for mothers also.

We are transients in a fallen, and fractured world. We walk along the road God places us on only by His grace, mercy and love. All of us suffer disappointments, damage, pain, and loss…until we realize that God is not like our existent (or non-existent) earthly fathers ( or mothers for that matter) and seek the transcendent, yet immanent Creator…who knows us and yet still loves us and is the only one to mend, heal, restore and finally give us the life meant to share with others…only then with God as our true guide and focus will we understand how our lives were meant to be lived.

When any human being falls under the glamour of lusting after immorality (of any sort…money, power, sex, fame) that is a clear sign where that person’s heart is. So in the end, we cannot reduce everything to simplistic equation or rationalization (it is the fault of * fill in the blank *)

Are we using horrible child hood experiences of some Atheists to give comfort to ourselves? Are some of us patting ourselves on the back that “thank God I’m not like that” or beating our breasts with sorrow thinking to ourselves, “I guess I wasn’t a good father/mother, because my son/daughter won’t go to church.”

We know there are some universalities: All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Everyone is in need of Salvation. And God so loved the world that he sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but receive eternal life.

You can blame your father or mother, sister or brother, the church or even God for your pain and unbelief…but in the end you, as a unique, special, precious human being; will have to stand before the Only Just Judge who will ask you to give an account for your life…and He will not listen to any excuse.

So my question today is…Are you looking for excuses or are you ready to take up your own personal cross and follow Jesus?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Bit of Pascal

As I am speaking on one angle of Blaise Pascal’s Wager argument the end of this week, let me share a quote from the Pensees…some may be familiar with a bit of this “thoughts,” so here is a larger quote from Honor Levi's translation; Pensees #164:

Those who think they can remain neutral are Pyrrhonists [skeptics] par excellence. This neutrality is the essence of their conspiracy. Anyone who is not against them must be in the highest degree on their side. They are not even supporters, they are neutral, indifferent, totally detached from everything, including themselves.

What will we do in this state of mind? Shall we cast doubt on everything? Shall we doubt if we are awake, if we are pinched, if we are burnt? Will we doubt whether we doubt? Will we doubt that we exist at all? We cannot get to that state, and I am quite certain that no truly genuine Pyrrhonists has ever existed. Nature upholds powerlessness of reason and prevents it ever reaching that stage of lunacy.

So on the other hand will we say that we certainly know the truth when, given the slightest nudge, we cannot demonstrate the basis of this claim and we have to give way?

What a figment of the imagination human beings are! What a novelty, what monsters! Chaotic, contradictory, prodigious, judging everything, mindless worm of the earth, storehouse of truth, cesspool of uncertainty and error, glory and refuse of the universe.

Who will unravel this tangle?

It is certainly beyond dogmatism and Pyrrhonism and the whole of human philosophy.

Man is beyond man. Let us allow the Pyrrhonists what they have so often claimed, that truth is neither within our grasp nor is it our target. It does not reside on earth but belongs in heaven, in God’s bosom, and we can know it only as much as he is pleased to reveal. Let us then learn our true nature from the uncreated and incarnate truth...Be aware then, proud men, what a paradox you are to yourselves! humble yourself, powerless reason! Be silent, foolish nature! Learn that humanity infinitely transcends humanity and hear from your Master your true condition of which you are unaware.

Listen to God.


Blaise Pascal The Pensees and Other Writings: A New Translation by Honor Levi (1995) New York, Oxford University Press. P 41-42

Friday, March 11, 2011

Philosophy

Philosophy

Just the sound of that word has always intrigued me.

Difficult, logical, lofty

Out of reach.



Yet, I am offered a teacher, a mentor, a guide…to help build a foundation,

Firmly admonishing, waving a finger at me,

“Read slowly and carefully,

Do not go on to the next paragraph without understanding the last…”



So I begin,

Walking up those steps,

To the doorway, cracked open—I see a bit of light and peak around the door;

The gentlemen in their robes turn to me with smiles,

And beckon me in to the light.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Reason, Heart, and Diminishing the Passions: Pascal and Indirectly Willing to Belief

I will be presenting an undergraduate paper as a part of a student paper contest at the Midwest Region EPS meeting, March 25-26 in Cincinnati, OH.

So for those who follow this blog; I would appreciate your prayer support.

Here is my abstract:

Reason, Heart, and Diminishing the Passions; Pascal and Indirectly Willing to Belief. By Alice E. Guinther

This paper will explore the role of reason and our "heart" as viewed by Pascal, namely, that one could put oneself into a stance of being more receptive to the truth claims of Christianity by diminishing he "Passions" which Pascal held "...are your great stumbling blocks." According to Pascal, "That will make you believe quite naturally," Because evidently, one could then receive God's grace by recognizing the truth in one's heart. This paper will argue that the Pascalian wager construed in these terms will more likely find Christianity's claims to be reasonable and true. The problem I am addressing is this: Is Pascal's appeal to indirectly willing belief a valid one? Pascal encouraged, "Learn from those who have been bound like you, and now wager all they have."